Hello there, everyone! Today we have a guest blogger – Priscilla Chew, who is a communications specialist and lifestyle blogger. I’m very pleased to have her here, and I hope you are, too! If you like her post and want to see more, then go ahead and visit: http://www.prischew.com
Perhaps you are keen to start a blog, but you are not sure of how to go about writing it. Or maybe you’ve have been blogging for some time now, but still feel as though you could do with some advice on how to go about it.
Fret not. Read on for some useful tips on blogging.
Have a Great Title -
With the use of a great title you will be able to attract more readers, so make sure that this is short and snappy – and not too long. The first thing that readers see is the title, so this is a perfect window of opportunity to lure them and get them into reading your post.
Create a Good Lead -
The first paragraph is very important. It should hook your readers and a good lead is like a fishing rod – it will reel them in. It can be the difference to your readers bouncing off the page or staying on it.
A good lead starts with an interesting focus, and it is well-written, but not lengthy. It essentially reflects the “heart” of what you are writing in the post.
Focus on the Topic -
Be focused on the subject that you are writing about and do not digress and meander everywhere.
It’s better to stick to a few main points, rather than talk about everything under the sun.
If you start digressing, it will confuse your readers and they may lose their train of thought.
Having a focused approach will add more substance to your post – and you may be better able to deliver more specific content.
Avoid Long Blocks of Text -
It is very tiring and even boring to look at long blocks of text, especially on computers and mobile devices. So it is very important to have subheadings and bullet points. Having shorter paragraphs will also help. A contrast of different size fonts or certain key words will also be useful to break up long blocks of text.
Your readers need to be able to easily see what you have written, so avoid long blocks of words to ensure that important points are not missed out.
Images and photos inserted in strategic spots will be good, too.
Use Simple Language -
When you are writing a blog post, you are not writing an academic essay, so use simple language targeted at your readers.
You want to ensure that people can understand and digest your blog post, so simple language goes a long way to attracting readers.
Keep long technical terms, phrases and jargon to more formal writing. A successful blog post needs to have connection with the reader, so do not turn him or her off with complicated writing, unless of course you are writing a technical post.
Have Relevant Content -
The post should be about something which is up to date and relevant to your readers. For example, it is better to blog about current topics and trends, such as the Candy Crush Saga, rather than about the original Angry Birds game – which is now less popular.
The post should also be on something that most of your readers can relate to. For example, if most of them are runners, then it is no point blogging about useless apps. In this case, it is better to talk about topics such as useful training tips and what runners should be eating.
End with a Strong Conclusion -
It is a good idea to end a post with what you want the reader to take away with them. To increase sharing or comments, end an article with a call-to-action.
So for your next blog post, do have a great title, a good lead, and be focused on your topic.
Also, finish off with a strong conclusion to increase engagement of the reader.
To find out more about Priscilla and see more of her posts, please visit: http://www.prischew.com
That is indeed the question.
And to be honest, it’s not something writers and sometimes even readers question or think about. Surely it’s just as simple as knowing you want a prologue or not in your novel and going from there, right? Sadly not. This is an issue mostly for writers, although readers may understand more of the writers’ intentions if you stick around and read the rest of this post. And hey, maybe you’ll just want to read this for fun!
First of all, what is a prologue, really? Collins English Dictionary - 21st Century Edition tells us that it’s “A preliminary act or event.” Okay, so we’ve established that a prologue happens before the main story begins, and so in theory it cannot be a flash-forward to a later event (although I’m sure this rule has been broken). But is a prologue really necessary? Many people believe it is not. However, there are ways of knowing when to use (and when not to use) a prologue:
1.) Use it when a “Chapter One” just won’t work. This is a good reason to use a prologue, so let’s have an example, shall we? Let’s say the book is a fantasy about werewolves and how the main character needs to find a cure. The prologue, however, would focus on a completely different character trudging through the woods and eventually encountering a werewolf. There is a struggle. The writer tells us mid-action a few characteristics of the werewolf and its personality. Then it gains the upper hand and swipes the man’s chest, leaving his lungs and ribs shredded. As he gasps for life, the man realises something. Perhaps it’s a weakness, something to cure the werewolf…
And then the prologue ends and chapter one begins. This is perfectly fine, as the prologue could techinically be skipped as it’s nothing to do with the main story and the character that we will be investing time over. But knowing that there is a cure might be important, and showing it before the storybegins proper may well be significant. Some writers would say that they should instead drip-feed these things throughout the story, and in most cases this works, but sometimes this is just not possible. Or it might be, but it does not get across the emotions and themes the writer wants it to. In a first draft of one of my novels, I used a prologue. It was a scene of a newsreader explaining the evants of a World War Three and how it was becoming clearly imminent, before going into chapter one with the main character. However, in my second draft, I decided that for my story it just wasn’t needed; I reasoned with myself that readers would enjoy the story more if the reasons for a post-apocalyptic world was drip-fed to them, simply to create more suspense and thefore more enjoyment. This worked for my novel, but remember it may not work for yours.
2.) Use it when you need to provide back-story, but be careful. This reason can be a bit more hit-or-miss. Usually prologues are used in fantasy or science-fiction novels, and most of the time are used because the writer needs, or more often wants, very many facts about the world or characters to be given to the reader before the story proper begins. There are two problems with this:
- It can be considered info-dumping.
- It drags out the story before the “real” stuff begins.
However, when used well, info-dumping turns into something called exposition. In one dictionary this is defined as “A statement or rhetorical discourse intended to give information about or an explanation of difficult material.” But when does info-dumping change into this, and how? Well the main reason is simply the writer’s experience; when you’ve got a few novels and such-like under that belt of yours, why wouldn’t you be able to write a prologue in this way? Experience means a great deal in the writing world, so remember that usually it’s better just to get some general experience (i.e. write some books in the “standard” format, and don’t play around with it) before you go attempting something larger, difficult, or downright weird. Weird is good sometimes, but when people aren’t familiar with your work and style, weird is usually bad.
3.) Don’t use it if you want to hook your reader. Plain and simple. If you want to hook your reader, do so under a heading titled “Chapter One”. Remember, a prologue is not just another name for a chapter; a prologue has a purpose, much like an epilogue. If anything, a prologue is more likely to bore the reader and make the switch off, but we’ll be dealing with that in part 2 of this series.
So how do you know if your particular prologue works? Well first of all, ask yourself:
- Does the whole novel work just as well if I put it under “Chapter One” instead?
- Is the prologue’s POV any different? Is the tense different? If so, that may be a clue to leave your prologue in.
- If the prologue is about the past or the future, or includes a completely different cast of characters to the main plot, that may be another clue to leave it in.
If all else fails, write the novel and print it out without the prologue. Ask your friends and family, even people who don’t know you, to read it. When they’ve finished, ask them whether it made sense. Were there any plot details left out that were vital to the plot and couldn’t be put into your main body of work? If it could, is a prologue necessary? From this, you should be able to work out if your story really needs a prologue. And be honest with yourself; if you’re not, your writing projects are never going to be as good as they could be. In the end, even after all this information, it is up to you to decide whether prologues, epilogues, and other such things work for your novel. You are the storyteller, we are the listeners. Use the devices you wish to use to grab us, hook us, and leave us wanting more.
Part 2, which will be available soon, will be focusing on whether readers actually want prologues anymore, and whether you should leave them out simply because your audience demands it. Remember to leave your thoughts and views below in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Director/Directors: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adam, et al
Rating: 12A (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A.)
Release Date: 2013
Review Rating: 3 ½ stars (good, lives up to the hype)
First of all, I’m not going to clutter up this review by providing a synopsis; go and have a look elsewhere if you want that. Instead this review is going to focus on the acting, how good the story was, and other such things that will affect the movie’s actual star-rating.
We’ll begin with the acting. Henry Cavill, as Superman, was probably the best Superman I’ve seen on screen, although Christopher Reeves definitely wins in the `fun’ category. Cavill, although making only an extremely brief role as Clark Kent the journalist, seems to do so well if indeed there will be any sequels to this film where he could play the nerdy guy a little more. I found his Superman to be slightly naïve, but in a good way: he hasn’t learnt everything yet, and there are still dangers out there he must face. The performances that stood out for me, though, were Michael Shannon as General Zod and Russell Crowe (Jor-El), whose British accent has improved a great deal since 2010′s Robin Hood.
Some people who have watched the film have mentioned that Superman and the film in general are humourless and lack character. Don’t believe these people; Man of Steel does indeed have a few laughs, although of course these are not as frequent or stupid as Reeves’ Superman. And who can blame Snyder and the writers for this? We are not in the 70s and 80s anymore, and showing a Reeves-type Superman nowadays would be downright wrong for today’s audience.
The Kryptonian costumes are stunning, so much so that I would not mind owning an outfit myself, and the CGI is heavy, but as a whole it adds a lot to the film and in some cases is quite beautiful, especially with the scenes on planet Krypton. Other people I know who have watched the film have complained about `shaky camera’ throughout the film, but to be honest I didn’t notice it much until it was mentioned to me. Just be aware that the camera style may not be for everyone. As for the story, it does have a strong resemblance to 1980′s Superman II, but obviously it’s darker and has a lot more destruction. If you like destruction and chaos that’s fine, but for me it was a tad too much.
The same goes for the action, and this is my major gripe with the film, which ties in with the review’s title: there is far too much, and it is nigh on constant. The flashback to Clark’s past does slow and quieten the movie a little, but nowhere near enough (the flashbacks are a neat way to do an `origins’ story and get straight into the action, by the way). Of course it is not that Snyder cannot direct slow films. In fact, far from it – see his excellent Watchmen to understand what I mean. I think it was simply the script being too condensed and full of fights. The only one that stood out for me was Superman and Zod’s second one-on-one fight.
And the action hinders Lois and Clark’s relationship, too – there isn’t enough `alone time’ for them to really get to know each other, and it makes the whole love aspect of the film far less believable. The precious time they did have together showed that their chemistry was okay, but I don’t think Amy Adams was quite up to the task, although she did try.
Overall, the movie did live up to the hype of the trailers, but only just. Hans Zimmer’s score is as good as his The Dark Knight trilogy and other such works, but if you’re one of those people who don’t like his music or find it mediocre, then there’s nothing new in that department. The acting is great, the dark twist on the character is good, and the directing is well done. If you liked Nolan’s take on Batman, then you should like this (although it is evident that this is Snyder’s film,even though you can see hints of Nolan as well), but be prepared for slightly more cheesiness than the vigilante Dark Knight. Watch out for a couple of Lexcorp references, and remember that The Justice League movie and other such DC characters coming to the big screen rests on Man of Steel’s success, so go ahead and watch it in the cinema! Sadly, however, there is no post-credits scene of Batman. Next time, maybe…
No post yesterday I’m afraid, as I’m currently writing a big article titled To Prologue or Not to Prologue?, focusing on the aspects of the prologue and whether it is truly necessary in stories. So spread the word; share this post on Facebook and Twitter, and this blog will be able to grow, meaning more and better posts!
See you all next week!
First of all, please excuse me for not posting anything for a week or so – my computer has been playing up, so I couldn’t even update my Facebook and Twitter followers. I am writing today’s post on my iPad, so if there are any formatting errors, please forgive me!
Anyway, that’s enough about that; I want to talk to you about a few things that should be happening on the blog within the next few months, if all goes according to plan! So then, here is a fairly detailed list of what will be going on soon:
- I have I indeed noticed the success of the ‘Top 10 Best Websites for Writers’, and I’ve been thinking of doing another list for a good while. However, whether it should be a ‘Best Websites for Writers Part Two’ or a list of something completely new lies in your hands: you faithful readers. So, if anything, and I mean anything, strikes you as being a good subject for a top ten list, such as books, websites, TV shows, films, or whatever you fancy, please write it in the comments section below. Remember, we need to stick together!
- I mentioned on Twitter a good few days ago that an exciting thing might be happening. Well it’s still not definite yet, but soon I’m planning to get an author, or someone similar, to appear for a Writer’s Cabinet interview! I don’t actually have anyone particular in mind yet, hence the reason it’s still far from definite? But again, if you want to recommend someone to appear on the blog, as long as it’s something to do with Writer’s Cabinet, you are very welcome to write your suggestions below. Just remember that this isn’t the New York Times, so no big names please! Then again, reaching a bit higher isn’t a bad idea, so go ahead and write some names. Surprise me…
- Other small issues and minor changes, but a bit too trivial to mention here. Just some good ol’ spring cleaning.
So there you have it. Don’t be shy; give me ideas and names if something pops into your head, and if it’s feasible I’ll do my best to make it happen. Have a good week and see you later!
“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
- Sylvia Plath
Self-doubt is a crippling thing to anyone, but it can be even worse when you are doing something that isn’t out of the ordinary, as such, but is frowned upon, especially by people who think money and stability is everything. These things are important, of course, but they are not the be-all and end-all. I’ve had moments when I thought even my own family doubted me as a writer. Even I’ve doubted myself as a writer. But over the years I’ve realised that whilst a few people genuinely think writing – in any form – is not a valid path to tread upon, it is mainly yourself that is getting you down. Somehow, usually unconsciously, we try to twist every look and every word that comes out of people’s mouths to be negative towards us in some way, however tenuous it may be. It is our own doubt we much conquer, not anyone else’s. Just remember that no matter how great your writing may be to someone, there is always another who says your writing is not gripping enough, not exciting enough. This happens with anything: films, politics, religion. Everyone disagrees, and that isn’t the issue here.
To move forward as a writer, we must overcome ourselves.
Now I’m not talking about any sort of new-age hocus-pocus, and if it comes across this way I apologise. What I’m simply trying to say is that for most of the time, it is us that doubt us, not other people. But why do we doubt ourselves? What is it that we are afraid of? There could be a number of reasons for this.
1.) You don’t think you’re good enough. This may be a valid reason when glanced at, but look deeper. If you are half-way through as story and you’re thinking of giving up, think again; at least finish the story. Even if you hate it, store it away so when you next look at it (even if the writing is terrible) you will perhaps gain ideas, character traits, and other such things for future stories. Nothing is worthless to the writer. If you have finished your story and maybe even several before and you doubt yourself, again you must think. This is one person that is judging and critiquing your work. What about the other seven billion or-so others out there, just waiting for something new to get their hands on and read?
2.) You are a beginner. “But I have so much to learn,” you may cry. “So many writers are better than me.” This in itself is a contradiction. If you think you have so much to learn, then why are you complaining that others are better than you? Of course they re going to be better – they’ve been at it for much longer than you have. The tip here is to write and read. Say it with me: read and write, write and read. As a runner trains his body for the run (reading), so he also runs (writing). Just be careful not to do one more than the other, this can upset your brain. Trust me, I’ve done this before. Simply strike a balance between the two. One cannot become better than others (if you want to call it that) without practicing their craft; it just makes no sense.
3.) You will never be published. Let’s face it, how many brilliant writers out there are published? I know a few good writers whose work has never seen the light of day. It happens. Unfortunately bad writers sometimes get published instead of the good ones, but even then that is still just my opinion; if no one liked them then no one would publish them. One must realise that to get published, even if your writing is excellent, you must submit your work to the right place at the right time. And really, what is writing truly about? Is it to get published and see it on the shelves of your local bookstore? This might be a nice bonus, but it is not the main reason: a writer writes to inspire, to teach, to learn, and to bring emotion to their readers and themselves. People simply enjoy telling stories, and be thankful that you can do this better than most people can, otherwise you would not be writing.
So remember, even if you think your writing sucks, someone will like it. But also remember that your idea and writing must excite you also; if you don’t get enthusiastic about your work and story premise, then who else is? Here are some quick tips that are condensed from this week’s post to help you on your way to becoming a better, more confident writer:
You are a writer, and some people will be genuinely eager to learn more about your work – believe me, it’s happened to many numerous times and I haven’t even hit my twenties!
- Even the best writer in the world wrote a terrible story at one time. The trick they did was stick at it. Write, write, write. Read, read, read.
- A published writer does not a good writer make. Even if you are not published, you by all means still call yourself a writer, and a proud one at that.
How do you stay motivated? Are there any tips and hints you learned along your journey as a writer? Write them in the comments section below, and share them with all the writers in this community!
Okay, are you ready to find out how you can become a successful writer in one simple step? Well, here goes:
It may not be an easy step, but it sure is a simple one, and once it has been completed, you have become a successful writer. Seriously. You may not be successful in terms of publication (and I’ve probably disappointed a good few people who have read this title hoping for a quick buck) but you are successful in terms of being a writer. No one can say you aren’t because you are. If someone asks you, “What do you do?” You can confidently reply, “Me? I’m a writer.” Take gratification in that.
And for those of you who really did think being published is easy and this post would help you achieve it, you really need to rethink your plan. You may be a genuinely nice person who is mistaken in what being a writer is. That’s fine – I only just discovered its true meaning a year ago. Being a writer means more than wanting to be published. Of course, nearly every writer wants this, but no one needs it. Writers need to write, just as chefs need to cook and artists need to paint and sketch. There is something within you that simply says, “Write, and I will be happy!”
Better do as she says.
And apparently my blog is helping people release their inner writer. In fact, people are still commenting on posts that I wrote last August (yes, that means you, Thomas Fowler!). And it’s my Top 10 Best Websites for Writers that seems to get the most hits; today alone five people from around the world have bothered to search the internet and click on my post. But why? Why that post?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s because there is a sizeable eagerness to write within today’s society. I mean, let’s face it: younger generations these days can’t seem to write or spell, yet you think you’ve got it, and if you can pass a basic literacy test, that’s only natural. You want to prove yourself, tell the world of your extraordinary capabilities. But what does this mean?
It means that there is more competition to get published than ever before. In this year alone, more than 130 million computers have been sold, and the number of internet users has increased to over 2.5 billion, with more signing up every second. The internet is an easy way to gather knowledge and advice on just about anything…including how to write. Including this very blog. And here comes the worst part.
Roughly 896,000 book titles have been published in this year alone. Now that may not seem so bad, but then you have to realise that this number is just a tiny fraction of the number of manuscripts that are sent to publishers and agents. So why do people continue to write? Why do or I continue to write?
As I said earlier, it’s mainly because we simply want to. For me, no matter whether I was eventually published or not, I would never cease writing. I live off it, feed off it. I can’t get enough of it, and I hope you’re the same, too. I just enjoy creating characters and telling stories, and even if that means only my wife, or my children, or my dog enjoys it, then I would consider it worth the effort. I’m not a parent yet, but if some day I was to become one, I wouldn’t stop trying to write stories for my kids, from the day they were born to the day they left for university. Enjoy must be a part of your life, part of the core of your existence. And let me tell you something: if your zest and enthusiasm comes through in your writing, then you’ve already surpassed many of the authors out there who just want to get rich and famous. And that, my dear friend, is an accomplishment in itself.
With enough work and commitment, one of those 896,000 books could well have your name written on it.
P.S. Yes, I am coming back to stay and writing an article every Wednesday, so you’re very welcome to come back as often as you’d like!
This is a list taken from the book, My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘Me’?), and I just want to share it with you all because I think it’s really great.
1.) Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2.) Remember to never split an infinitive.
3.) Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
4.) Never se a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
5.) Use words correctly, irregardless of how others elude to them.
6.) Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
7.) Eliminate unnecessary references. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations.”
8.) Who needs rhetorical questions?
9) Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
10.) Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.
Hope you found that as amusing as I did. Thanks for visiting, and I plan to write again, soon!
Well helloooooo, everyone!
What a very long time it has been (about two months) since I have posted on my blog! It feels like a lifetime ago, and I sincerely apologise. The reasons for not posting on here is twofold:
1.) I have been enormously busy.
2.) I have been enormously lazy.
Now this may seem slightly contradictory, but hear me out. Since my second semester in university began, the work has been piling up slowly but surely. Yes it isn’t exactly a hard course such as Medicine, but I hate all work apart from writing (basically, anyway) and would you believe that a lot of my course as yet is not about writing or reading? So yes, I have been both busy and lazy, and that is why I haven’t been posting for a long while. Also I haven’t been on here because I have thee major writing projects at the present, not including my university assignments.
But yes, you are entitled to give me a big slap.
Concerning how often I’ll be posting on here from now on, I honestly cannot say. I will definitely try to post once a month, if not twice, but apart from that I don’t know. So please keep checking up on this blog every so often, because I will be carrying on – promise! Although I don’t expect my readership to be quite so vast as before; I understand that people my have deleted me off their inboxes and so forth. But fear not, for it will be a nice challenge for me to do: gain more followers than I had before.
Farewell for now, brothers and sisters. May your writing and reading be joyous, and your life prosperous. I shall be on here again ASAP!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director/Directors: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, et al
Rating: 12 (U.K.)/PG-13 (U.S.A)
Stars: 3 (Average)
Well the time has finally arrived. It’s been months of hype and excitement for the release of the first instalment of The Hobbit, and thankfully it has been directed by Peter Jackson, the same person that directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But has he managed to maintain that level of quality that LOTR did, and what’s the big deal about this 48 frames per second?
The plot revolves around Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), who leads a cosy and sheltered life until Gandalf (McKellen) pops round for a visit. Within a matter of days, dwarves, trolls, goblins, and other weird and wonderful creatures become the centre of Bilbo’s life as he travels across Middle-Earth to try and find Smaug, a terrible fire-breathing dragon.
Many people say that The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, but really it’s the other way around: The Hobbit was published nearly twenty years before LOTR, in 1937. This means that Tolkien did not know much of what was going to happen after this book, if at all, and that’s where Peter Jackson comes in; because the vast majority of people now know the events of The Lord of the Rings, it’s only natural to include in this film scenes with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and a much older Bilbo Baggins, both of which are not in the book. And this isn’t just the once, oh no. Several scenes have been made-up and are not at all a part of the book, although it must be said that they fit in with the plotline very well. It must also be explained that for about an hour-or-so into the film, the script and scenes are quite humourous, a stark contrast to The Lord of the Rings trilogy (yet I must add that The Hobbit book is humourous throughout, as it was effectively meant as a children’s book). But whilst I realise why this is done, it happened a little too suddenly – it should’ve been more gradual a tone change than what it was.
The film is heavy on CGI, but that is no surprise, and you soon get used to seeing it. The acting on the whole is excellent, and of course is very British besides one or two people. I must say that my favourite character was Gollum, still played by Andy Serkis, as he simply was the sweetest creature and also the most horrible one at the exact same time, which is quite a feat to pull off. These actors boost the film’s rating up to 3 stars, but the real reason I gave it this rating is because It felt like it lacked something quite large, something that should’ve been there but wasn’t. The 48fps did not seem as bad as what people were blabbering on about, but it wasn’t that, either. I think it was the lack of seriousness in the film. Sure, The Hobbit book was funny at times, but it was still written in a fairly serious manner; the film felt like a step away from The Lord of the Rings, almost like some TV-movie that tried to create an exact copy of an original idea and failed.
All in all, An Unexpected Journey is all right. The cast is fine, if not great, and the CGI has no fault, especially the scene with Bilbo and Gollum. I wanted to like this film – I really did. But the script was a bit too funny, and that for me pulled me away from the world of Middle-Earth and into some other land where this film is set, and I do not think it is Middle-Earth. So many scenes were muddled and even made-up (like Lord of the Rings, I know, but it still kept the serious tone) that I was just pointing out the differences compared to the book. A shame, perhaps, yet it is clever how Jackson and the rest of the gang have managed to bring Tolkien’s books to the big screen. Here’s to hoping that next year’s instalment will be better.
Fun Fact: Try and spot the Wilhelm scream during the movie; I did. Don’t know what a Wilhelm Scream is?