Monthly Archives: August 2012

Top 10 Best Websites For Writers

So for a long time I’ve had a ‘Top Ten’ page at the top of this blog, always ‘Under Construction.’ Well now I finally have a list to put on there! And as you can see, it’s a list of websites for writers. But let me just point something out to you all: this top ten list is very much incomplete; there are many other websites out there which I’m sure are helpful and easy to use. I’ve just listed a few of the best, either because I came across them whilst on the hunt for good websites, or because I use them myself. So then, let’s get cracking. N.B. This list is not in any particular order. Rather, it is simply a record of ten different websites, none of them any better than another.

Top Ten Best Websites for Writers

1.) Seventh Sanctum (www.seventhsanctum.com): This is a brilliant little site, and I use it fairly regularly when planning a story or novel, and even when I’m half-way through a project. It is a site which has several ‘generators’, ranging from serious lists such as “Fantasy Military Unit Generator” to silly ones such as “Questionable Anime Attacks.” Whatever you need, it’s likely they’ll have it there. If you’re looking for something extra special, there is also a “Writing Challenges” generator – perfect if you’re bored and fancy a little writing assignment.

2.) Daily Writing Tips (www.dailywritingtips.com): A website for the grammatically-inclined, Daily Writing Tips has a wide range of subjects, some involving grammar and correct uses of words, others to do with writing fiction and how to find an agent. Overall, a good site which has many useful tips.

3.) Write SF (www.writesf.com): Of course this site is for all the science-fiction writers out there (including me), and it’s written by Jeffery A. Carver, but there is a good chunk of information in here that can really help develop your story even if you don’t write in this genre – perhaps this site could also help fantasy writers to create and stabilise their own hand-crafted world. I refer back to this site often, and every time I learn something new.

4.) Writer’s Digest (www.writersdigest.com): An obvious one, perhaps, but one that is worth a mention nonetheless. This is Daily Writing Tips but on a grander scale, with far more articles about self-publishing and writing competitions. There are also magazines, but you’ll have to pay and subscribe to get hold of those.

5.) Write to Done (http://writetodone.com): Crammed with articles on a variety of topics, Write to Done gives tips to both the rookie and seasoned writer.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

6.) StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com): Running out of ideas? Want to start a short-story but need some information? Or are you just interested in finding new things? Whatever your reason, StumbleUpon is the right website for you. Simple join up (it’s free) and tell the website your interests – click everything you can, if you want. Once you’re done, just click ‘Stumble’ and the website will show you another random website about one or more of your interests. I use this a lot, and I receive regular emails with StumbleUpon‘s own recommendations for me. Great stuff.

7.) Creative Writing Prompts (http://creativewritingprompts.com): A very simple site with only one purpose – to give you hundreds of…well, creative writing prompts. Merely highlight one of the prompts with your mouse and give the challenge a go. I found this site trying to find the best sites for you guys, so this is just as new to me as it is to you. I shall be using it again.

8.) Babynames (www.babynames.com): There’s not much to tell about this website. IT GIVES YOU NAMES.

9.) Phrases (www.phrases.org.uk; www.phrases.net): Two different websites, both just as good. I know I’m cheating a bit here having two websites in one go, but they basically do the same thing – find a articular phrase and then learn of its origin. There are also quotations and conversions to be had on www.phrases.net, but I think it’s www.phrases.org.uk that has the edge.

10.) Writers FM (www.writersfm.com): I recently discovered this site, also because I was looking for ones to put on this post. It’s a live 24/7 radio station (although only available on the internet) created by writers, for writers, and I’ve been listening to it for about fifteen minutes every day. They do interviews with authors such as Bernard Cornwell and play music. If not for the witing tips, then listen to it for the sheer entertainment value.

Please hit Like if you enjoyed this post; it will be going straight into the ‘Top Ten’ page above. Also, if you want to see similar posts to this and be up-to-date with my blog, then kindly press the ‘Follow’ button on the right-hand side. Thank you.

What do you think should be the 11th website on this list? Comment below!

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New widgets added

Hey everyone, this is just a quick aside to say that a few small things have been added to this blog.

1.) Two Goodreads widgets have been added – one entitled ‘I am currently reading…’ and another called ‘I have already read…’. These should let all of you keep up to date with my books and what I like. Also, if you have any recommendations of books you think I would like, or if you just want me to review them, please either email me (Email is found on my ‘Contact’ page) or comment in the ‘Books’ section. You can also write on my Facebook Wall, which brings me to my second addition…

2.) To the right of my blog, you will notice that the official Writer’s Cabinet Facebook Fanpage is shown. If you want to Like the page or want to write on my Wall, then please, go ahead. In fact, it will make me very happy! 😀

3.) Thirdly and finally, just above the ‘Follow’ button on the right is the amount of people which follow my blog, currently standing at 17. I want to thank everyone who has followed me, and I hope I’m proving to be a good blogger!

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments then please do so at the bottom of this aside (by clicking this post in the ‘Recent Posts’ section on the right-hand side). Thank you! 🙂

Short post.

Sorry that this post will be so short, but I was visiting my Grandma and it was a long journey. 🙂 I was talking to a couple of people about my creative writing degree today, and the more I talked about it, the more I realised how excited I am for it! I’m really looking forward to meeting new people with similar interests, wondering what the course’s syllabus will include. I’m eagerly anticipating writing in new ways and styles, and speculating how many genres I’m uncomfortable with I will have to write. Basically what I’m saying is that the more I think about the degree and the things it will involve, even though it’s scary,the more I realise that I’m ready and willing for it to happen. No email has come through yet stating that I’m officially accepted, but I’m expecting the email (realistically) from about Thursday onwards, so perhaps no news will develop until Saturday’s post, but you never know.

Anyway, sorry that this post is so short, but I had very little time and I’m very tired. But the good news is that Wednesday’s post will be prepared beforehand, although I’m still deliberating between two post ideas at the moment. Thanks again for reading, and I’ll see you all on Wednesday. Have a good night/day. 😀

‘A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1’ Review (Game of Thrones)

Game of Thrones

By George R.R. Martin (Fantasy, Drama)

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

The book begins with a simple prologue – three men walk through a forest, talking and arguing with one another. They are cold, irritable, and simply want to turn back. The wind whistles in the trees; the sound of wolves are filling the air…in the first chapter, one of these men is executed, and that’s the nature of Game of Thrones. The first chapter immediately brings you out of the classic ‘magic and fairies’ land and into George Martin’s well-crafted one instead: depressing, cold, harsh, and bleak. Only a few spots of hope are seen throughout, and they are spread sparsely. Perhaps you were expecting more of a plot synopsis from this review, but you’re not going to get it: if you want to read this book, believe me, you won’t want any spoilers.

The cover of this book (see picture, below) suggests a gritty medieval fantasy drama revolving around a battle of the throne, and that is exactly what you are going to get. Whilst other sub-plots come into play at certain times in the novel, George Martin really makes a clichéd plot exciting and gripping again, and that’s exactly what readers want. However, don’t expect an easy read. It may not be full of words that you don’t understand, but the book is large, and the paragraphs long. Even the dialogue is interspersed with lots of description. Of course, this is great for a fantasy series, but this is merely a warning that for slow readers like me, it won’t be a walk in the park.

This is the cover that is on my copy.

Martin manages to engage the reader by writing his novel without using magic or dragons (although he hints a few times at these, suggesting something more to come), and he does so quite successfully. His bleak land is stunning, and several times unexpected things happen, clearly showing that the author is not afraid to shape his world the way he wants it to be. Scenes involving the council and the king are no less than superb, and every sentence the characters say has meaning and weight, and anything they say could drastically change the course of events.And speaking of characters, they further add to the bleakness of the world; each one is fleshed out (except Sansa) and their motivations seem real. Personally, my favourite charcters are Tyrion and Bran, and I will give an extract of both to show why I like them so much. First, then, is Tyrion:“Some of us may,” Tyrion told him. “I am not fond of eating horse. Particularly my horse.”

“Meat is meat,” Bronn said with a shrug. “The Dothraki like horse more than beef or pork.”

“Do you take me for a Dothraki?” Tyrion asked sourly.

As you can see, Tyrion is a witty fellow, considering he is a dwarf who does not have any say in most matters. Many characters laugh at him, but he always comes back around with a snappy remark. I would say that he is my favourite character so far.

Bran thought about it. “Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?”

“That is the only time a man can be brave,” his father told him. “Do you understand why I did it?”

“He was a wildling,” Bran said. “They carry off women and sell them to the Others.”

Bran is a lot like me: young and innocent, with no idea what life is really like, and this helps me to empathise with the character. Though these are my favourite charcters, there are many others – another six, to be precise, and this is one of the negatives of this series. Eight characters is too much for one book, and it was hard to remember what certain characters did three or four chapters before. This makes it hard to understand what’s going on, and it can pull you out of the experience somtimes. Another aspect I didn’t care for was the amount of sex in the book – it was too much, and most of the time it was described in gratuitous detail. Whilst this is more of an opinion than a negative point, it does need to be said if there are people out there who do not like sex in novels (including me).

Overall, though, George R.R. Martin has created a world that is truly excellent, with characters brimming with secrets and dark pasts. It isn’t easy to write a good fantasy series these days, but Martin has managed it almost seamlessly. The way it is written intruiged me, and I look forward to reading the next title in the series and watching the first season on DVD. Bravo!

4/5 stars (a well written novel that has a truly excellent world and shady characters; pick this one up when you can!).

A New Era Begins! (Possibly)

Sorry for this late post, and also I am very sorry that it won’t be a review of Game of Thrones (which WILL be posted on Saturday), but a piece of news just got sent to me via email, and it got me a bit excited…just a little bit…

I’m going to be doing a Creative Writing BA at University in September!

I never even planned to go to university after my A levels because I loathe studying, but I had a Clearing Flyer with my newspaper the other day and I decided to apply to do a Creative Writing course, even though my grades are absolutely terrible – 11 GCSEs from ‘B’ to ‘D’, a ‘D’ in AS English Literature, and a ‘D’ in A level Art and Design. Not exactly great, right?

Instead, I told them about my individual merits, including starting up this very awesome blog, with my even awesomer followers (excuse the incorrect word-use here)! And in doing so, I managed to secure a place. It’s not final, but I would have thought that by the time Saturday comes along, there should be some news that tells me whether I’ll be doing the degree or not. This is a really good opportunity for me, as I’m not a sociable guy and hate meeting new people and doing new things, but here I am, trying to do something completely new. The degree should give me some amazing experiences and should also broaden my horizons with the genres that I write.

So that’s all I wanted to say tonight, just to get it off my chest. As I said, it’s not final, but it is looking good. I never really enjoyed school, but hopefully doing the subject which I love should be okay! 🙂 I’ll post again Saturday with my book review of The Game of Thrones (although there may be a quick seperate post regarding updated news/plans about my degree). Thanks for reading!

Is Their Alot Wrong With This Centence?

Can you spot what’s incorrect in this post’s title (courtesy of Daniel Smith’s proofreading exercise book. Here is the link)? If you want to write, you need to be educated in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I’m not saying this is the be all and end all of writing, but it’s definitely on the to-do list. Try sending a manuscript of your novel, short story, or poetry with something like, “James hid his gun in his poket and weeped at the sight of the ded bodie.” I’m not saying that all blame should be placed upon the author – it’s quite easy to misspell words on a computer. But what I am saying is that if you try sending a manuscript like that to a publisher, you won’t get very far!

Consider this quote.

“Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.” Author Unknown

Did you see it? Yes, missing words out is another easy thing to do on a computer, and sometimes Microsoft Word won’t even tell you that it’s wrong, making it even easier to make mistakes. So then, here are a few tips to improve your grammar and proofreading skills:

1.) When you have completed your writing assignment, read it aloud. Do sentences become unclear; is the pacing not quite right? Reading to yourself is a very useful way of proofreading.

2.) Make a hard-copy of your assignment and read it through – reading on a computer is very different to reading something on paper. Use a pen or pencil to circle misspelt words, and highlight incorrect uses of tenses.

3.) Ask someone else to read your work. Another person can spot many mistakes which you may have overlooked.

4.) Buy a grammar book. One can be found through clicking the link at the beginning of this post, but here are two more: One and two. These books will give you a basic overview of English, and will improve your writing.

5.) Finally, don’t be too critical when you proofread. Everyone misses something out once in a while, so after a few times of looking over your work, relax. Take a break, watch TV. Basically, do something completely unrelated.

Thanks for reading this post! 😀 Wednesday’s post should be a review of A Song of Ice and Fire’s Game of Thrones, but plans may change. Also, I’m hoping to add the first list to the ‘Top Ten’ section, and I’m also considering creating a ‘Teens’ section for this blog. If there are any thoughts or queries on this, please leave a comment below.

Do YOU have any tips to add to the proofreading list? 

Example of writing on holiday

A few posts ago I said that I would offer an example of the writing that I tried to do everyday on my holiday, and while I didn’t write everyday, I did write enough to keep my writing withdrawals at bay. So then, here is a fairly long piece which I’m not happy with at all, but at least I wrote – it could spark new ideas, or it could push me into writing something better (the editing of the piece was kept to a complete minimum):

David wiped the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand, then wiped his hand on his trousers. It was a hot day, and there was still plenty of work to be done.

Clutching his wrench he lifted the car up with a jack and crawled under, beginning to check for problems with the undersde of Mrs. Roberts’ car. She wanted it to be fixed this afternoon, but that seemed unlikely in this heat – David was taking too many breaks, and the afternoon was nearly over, anyway. He coughed and began to crawl away from the car when a thin man walked in to the garage, without even seeing the sweaty man lying under the car on his right.

Silently, his eyes darting every which way, the man crept towards the garage’s back-office, opening its wooden door without making a sound.

Who is this man?

Slowly, carefully, David rolled away from the car and crouched low. Nobody else was about: most of the other staff had gone home at the usual time; it was David that was working late. He desperately wanted to call the police, but the phone was in the office, where the thin man had entered. David was quickly running out of options…

In my opinion, this piece is terrible; I had to struggle to not edit it while  was copying it into the post! The tenses are muddled, I use very little description of David’s surroundings, and I only really exercise one of the five senses – sight. But the main thing is that I wrote, and it doesn’t matter how terrible you are at writing, whether you’re young or old, big or small, experienced or amateur, your writing will improve the more you write, and that’s a fact.

Consider this: NaNoWriMo is going to be like my little story for everyone that participates – no one will have the time to edit, making the dialogue atrocious, the narrative and description will seem childish, and some characters will most like be two-dimensional. But after thirty days of writing, all the work pays off: they get the satisfaction of writing 50,000 words in a very short amount of time. And even if you don’t finish, you still tried. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Enjoy writing!

If you liked this post, please Like and leave a comment, or you can Follow me by clicking the ‘Follow’ button on the right-hand side. Or…*looks mischievous* YOU CAN DO ALL OF IT! 😀

NaNoWriMo (Part 2)

Hello fellow readers and bloggers, and welcome to my very much belated second post about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Let’s just recap: NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge that taunts you into writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It requires excessive planning (you don’t have time to look over it or change anything as you go!) and will probably tire you out by the end (I have no idea though, as this will be my first time).

What I’m keen to do is tell you a little bit about the novel I plan to write, and during this month (November), I’m hoping to do a journal of my attempts, wordcount, and thoughts about the challenge – roughly 12 posts in all. If any of you are also thinking/going to do NaNoWriMo as well, it would be great if you would share your attempts on this blog too! My novel will be set in a post-apocalyptic future, although it won’t be because of zombies or nuclear fallout, and this is the premise (but I don’t like sharing lots of my ideas, sorry; I’m very secretive with my work):

After discovering a blood-smeared diary that may hold the answer to where his true family lies, a small-town sheriff decides to risk everything he has in order to find them. With the help of a budding woman survivalist and her dog, he traipses across a barren wasteland. But trouble soon rears its ugly head: the sheriff is captured and beaten, leaving the woman to face a difficult decision – risk her life rescuing the sheriff, or continuing the long journey alone…

This is my idea so far, but since I have not delved into deep planning and reading around certain subjects yet, it may change radically (one of the books I’m going to read is a survival book in association with the Royal Marines Commandos). But I’m fairly happy with it; I have a title in mind (which actually ties in with NaNoWriMo, coincidentally!) but it’s all very hush-hush! 😛 So that’s it for today – if you want to join or know more about the challenge, click this link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/. On Saturday I will either be talking more about NaNoWriMo, or I will be posting excerpts of the writing I did on holiday with you all. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to what you all have to say!

Are you going to join in with the challenge? What are you going to write about? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Film Review

The Dark Knight Rises

Director/Directors: Chrisopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, et al

Rating: 12 (U.K.)/ PG-13 (U.S.A.)

Release Date: 2012

Rating: 4 stars (Very good)

Recently there has been a definite hype over superhero films, and it shows: the superhero genre gathers many fans every time a new film breaks through, such as The Avengers. But the Batman films have blown all others out of the water, and The Dark Knight Rises isthe finale of the trilogy. Whatever your thoughts on Batman, you cannot deny that this is the blockbuster of the summer.

While Batman Begins focused on Batman’s origins, and The Dark Knight enjoyed showing viewers all the chaos of Gotham, The Dark Knight Rises plays on your emotions, and it successfully delivers in this endeavour – Bane is the antagonist in this sequel, and he tests Batman both physically and mentally, making him the ultimate villain. The film takes place eight years after The Dark Knight, and Bruce Wayne refuses to leave his manor because of Rachel’s death. However, with Bane on the rampage, Batman is needed more than ever, and it’s Bruce that has to make the decision: do one last job as the Batman, or let Gotham crumble?

The beginning is slower than The Dark Knight, having a more common tie with Batman Begins. However, this time it is only cranking up the tension until it can take no more. But compared to the last two, this film seems less dark, both with its lighting and with its plotline. Yes, things happen which depresses you – after all, it’s Gotham! – but perhaps this film made more of an emphasis on Batman as a character, rather than his external affairs.

One thing I did not like about the film was the unnecessary romance that Bruce had with Miranda. Perhaps it was just me, but after about seven years of being holed up in a mansion grieiving about Rachel, suddenly he finds a ‘romantic interest’? I found this a little annoying, and frankly yanked me away from the plot a little bit. Also, another thing which I found mildly frustrating was Bane’s voice – a few of his lines were hard to hear and understand in my opinion, and this detracted from my enjoyment of the film.

One thing really stands out in the film, though, and that’s all the links, references and cameos. Scenes from Batman Begins return in The Dark Knight Rises, and the events from The Dark Knight alsocome into effect in this film. Different villains are mentioned or seen throughout e.g. Killer Croc and Scarecrow, and this was one of the nicest features about the film. Batman fans will, however, be able to see some twists coming, but this doesn’t lessen the experience in any way.

A fitting end then, and a film which ties up the trilogy nicely – although be prepared to shed a few tears. Christopher Nolan has done a wonderful job at bringing the Batman to life, making him realistic and gritty, and it’s a job that should be commended for years and years to come. Watch this film as soon as you can.

 

What did YOU think about The Dark Knight Rises?

 

I apologise!

I’m extremely sorry, but many people have needed this computer today and I had no other means of writing a post. I will be writing one tomorrow instead (The Dark Knight Rises film review) and another one Wednesday, continuing as usual. Sorry once again, and I look forward to writing tomorrow. :/