Category Archives: Writing

3 Foolproof Ways to Become a Better Writer

So, do you want to become a better writer?

 

That’s why you clicked onto this page, isn’t it? Or are you just clicking whatever takes your fancy? Regardless of your motivation for coming here, I’m sure this post will teach you some new things. Whether you’re a non-fiction writer reviewing travel books, or you’re a fiction writer looking to become the next Tolkien or Arthur C. Clarke, I’m here to help. Here are three down-to-earth ways to make people take you seriously in your potential career or hobby.

 

Read

 

Oh, yes indeed. The amount of people I meet who say something like, “I’m a writer, but I hate to read” is astonishing. That’s like saying you’re an architect but hate to study the layout and structure of buildings. Of course you need to read! Granted, there are some writers who do this whose work is not terrible, and the same goes for painters and practically everything else. Sometimes they enjoy the hobby and not the history; sometimes they have the bones but aren’t interested in putting any meat on them. And in some cases that’s okay, but the vast majority of the time it’s not, especially if they wish to improve.

 

Even if you don’t want to read, it is so vital to the writer to do so. A writer can understand in what way a particular genre is written and how sentences are structured in modern-day fiction and non-fiction. It exercises their imagination; it allows them to find ideas for stories they never would have come across otherwise. Like an architect not wanting to study buildings, so the writer not studying books will soon allow their own work crumble into mere rubble. To not read is to invite trouble. An architect needs to know fellow architects’ work to draw inspiration from them to come up with something new, to know which materials are best for which job, and so on.

Yes, this guy may be crazy, but he's reading, and that's good.

Yes, this guy may be crazy, but he’s reading, and that’s good.

And don’t just think that if you already read then you can skip this point. If you already read, challenge yourself to read something you don’t normally read, or even never read: a newspaper, a children’s book, a non-fiction book about the human body. Not only are these books good for reference when needed, but they’ll expand your imagination and mind, may give you a few ideas, and will teach you some facts.

 

Write

 

Yup. Again, this is a fairly common reality. I hear often of “writers” who say they’re writers but can’t specify what they’ve written, or won’t show their work at all, to anyone. Most likely, they like the idea of being a writer but not the work of being one. Writing can be difficult, especially when you’re starting out. But perseverance is key. They say you need 1,000,000 words written before you have a distinctive writing style, or ‘voice’, and that you need 10,000 hours to master a skill. That’s a lot of writing. Better get to it, eh?

 

But don’t panic. Some people think that you’re only a writer if you’re published, or if you’ve written something political or worthy of praise i.e. something that’s not science-fiction or fantasy. This is nonsense. If you write things, then you are a writer. It’s as simple as that. And it doesn’t have to be a novel: you can write short stories, flash fiction, reviews, and so on. Even if you want to write a brilliant novel that you know you have somewhere in you, don’t think that jumping into the deep end is the best way for you. It worked for me (the first two projects I ever completed were short stories, and the third was a novel), but it might not work for you. If you don’t yet feel comfortable creating a massive alternate world or whatever, then that’s fine. Just stick to lower word count projects. That way, when you do end up writing a novel, if that’s what you want to do, then your writing voice will already be taking shape, and your experience will pay off – trust me.

 

Critique

 

This is probably the least well-known of all the ways discussed in this post, and it’s overlooked even in some writing circles. Critiquing other people’s work is important. Why’s that, you ask? Well, by critiquing other writers’ work, you can see problems which pop up often in writing and how you can then avoid them. It teaches you what’s good and what’s bad in your view, simply because you know what you like and don’t like. Doing this will also accomplish the second way to be a better writer: writing. Even writing a letter to a friend is writing, or making that shopping list. It all helps to work your muscles, both physical and mental.

 

To critique work, you must meet up with other writers. Have a look in your local area, and perhaps a little farther out. Are there any writing groups in your area? If there are, go to them. You may not like them (I hated mine), but at least try. You’ll meet like-minded people and you’ll be surprised by how much you can talk about. If a writing group is not an option, then you can always join an online forum, which is what I turned to after deciding I didn’t like my local writing group. There are a few out there, and typing in “Writing forums” on a search engine will bring up plenty of choices. Try a few and see which ones you like. Maybe you’ll settle into one, maybe two. But through joining an online community, you can get that distance which writers need to have their work critiqued, and you’ll make some new friends along the way, too.

———-

So there you have it. Three ways to become a better writer. If there are any which you are not currently doing, I suggest you begin doing them. You will see a change in your work, and it will allow others to take you more seriously. Enjoy the craft of writing, but realise it’s just that: a craft. It takes work if you want to be better at it, and hopefully this post has shown you how to take yourself another step of the way.

Good luck!

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To Prologue or Not to Prologue? – Part One

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.

Thinking

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!

Overcoming Self-doubt as a Writer

“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!

How to Become a Successful Writer in One Simple Step

Okay, are you ready to find out how you can become a successful writer in one simple step? Well, here goes:

You write.

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!

Write for Yourself

Do you write for yourself or for the market? This is a question all writers must ask themselves, hopefully sooner rather than later. Well come on then; do it. Do you write for yourself or for the market?

If some of you don’t know what those actually mean, I will give you an example. Say you’re a writer who loves to write science-fiction humour for young adults – that’s fine. But what if the market (that is, what’s selling at the moment) is serious fantasy? Now you’re in a real pickle. Do you carry on with your humourous book or do you throw it in the garbage and begin a fantasy novel just like the ones that are selling? It’s a difficult choice, as it can make or break a writer if they desperately want to be published. But what’s the answer, then?

Well in a book I am currently reading, called Richard Joseph’s Bestsellers, Alan Dean Foster (writer of the Alien novelisation) said this:

“Everything I had been trying to write ‘to the market’ was going nowhere, while something I wrote out of love and personal interest sold immediately.”

Fair enough if it’s his opinion, but why should we even begin to trust his advice? Because his world-wide sales are in excess of ten million copies. Wow. That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is. But you may argue that what works for one writer may not work for another, and that’s true. So let’s a dig a little bit further into this to come up with an answer of our own.

Let’s take another example, one when you were (or still are) in school. There were certain subjects you enjoy more than others, weren’t there? Perhaps there were ones you utterly despised – like me and Physical Education! 😛 You may have tried your best at that horrible subject, or tried to write that History paper with all your heart, but in the end you weren’t as good as the best in your class, were you (not trying to bring you down here; I hated most of the subjects in my school)? You had your favourite subjects, the ones you were good at or at least did your best at. This is what writing should be like for us. We shouldn’t force ourselves to write what we aren’t good at or what we don’t enjoy – we should be writing what we do enjoy, subjects that make our bodies quiver with excitement!

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Of course, what interests you as a writer may already be what’s currently selling on our shelves, and that’s great! If that’s the case for you, then get cracking! For those of us who aren’t so great at writing what’s currently on our shelves, though, this can be a little bit of a problem, so let’s tackle this problem head-on.

What do we do when we don’t want to write what’s popular? This is difficult to answer, and probably one we won’t be able to answer fully, but we can at least try. Essentially, we as writers just need to keep writing about what we love, as that’s what motivates us to write that novel or screenplay or short story – our love for its themes, characters, and so on. That love should make us proud of the work we’ve done, even if publishers and agents don’t so much as take a whiff of it. As Oscar Wilde said:

“An idea that is not dangerous is not worthy of being called an idea at all.”

Wise words. If we’re not willing to at least try a new idea (in its broad sense, anyway) then there’s almost no point in us writing at all. In fact, you could go as far to say that the people who copy the ideas of what’s popular at the present may not actually be dangerous or original, just as Wilde said. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be that writer that breaks the mould – somebody has to be!

Thanks for reading; I hope you gathered some opinions of your own through reading my own! If you want to check out the book which I quoted from, you can get it from Amazon here – Richard Joseph’s Bestsellers. It’s a good book in which the writer interviews several writers about how they became bestsellers, from Roald Dahl to Tom Clancy.

Lagging behind in NaNoWriMo?

How am I allowed to give pro tips to people who are a few, or maybe many, words behind? Because I’m lagging 7307 words behind, that’s why! Whether you’re 1000 words behind or 25,000 words behind, this post is designed to help you, albeit with a few laughs along the way, I hope. Ready? Off we go!

 

Decide what you want to achieve

Why do you even want to do NaNoWriMo this year? To finish off the other half of that novel which you just haven’t bothered to do? To write a rough first draft of the next best-selling book of all time, a la A Tale of Two Cities? Or do you have an idea in your head that you just have to write down, even though you don’t want to get it published?

Whatever your reason, calm down! The publishing industry is still going to be there when you’ve finished your book, be that the end of this year or 2016. Just relax, take a deep breath, and write.

 

But what if I can’t write?

Has writer’s block hit you? Well I’m sorry to say that, in the poshest voice possible, that is absolute poppycock! Everyone is in the same position as you: write 50,000 words in 30 days. Now I understand that this is not easy, and in normal circumstances of novel-writing I would accept if someone had a case of writer’s block. But during NaNoWriMo? The only reason you “can’t” write everyday is because you won’t; we’re all naturally lazy, apart from the odd one or two people living on this planet. I really didn’t want to write today, and I haven’t written that much, but I’m proud to have written 1061 words. I wrote something when I didn’t want to write! If you can say the same about you, even if all you write is 100 words, you’ve done something which not many people have done. Be proud of that fact.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

 

Listen to certain music whilst writing certain scenes

I know some people can write whilst even the randomest type of music is blasting (well, maybe not blasting) through their speakers. But here’s a little thing which I do: if I’m writing an action scene, then I’ll listen to something powerful, strong, loud. But if I’m writing a sad scene (there are many of them in my own NaNoWriMo book) I’ll listen to something slower, quieter, which usually means that it’s sadder. I find that by doing this the words seem to push their way through those callous fingers and onto the page, meaning more words for your word count! Whoo hoo!

 

I’m never going to finish!

As I said before, relax. If you really are a long way off from catching up, or even if you haven’t started yet, then consider creating a new goal for yourself. After all, why beat yourself up about something which you’ll never get done? If you’re at 10,000 words, maybe you should try to aim for 30,000 by November 30th, as opposed to its ‘official’ 50,000. If you haven’t started yet, why not push for 20,000? NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily about hitting that 50k; it’s about community, striving for what YOU can achieve, and feeling good about yourself. If you haven’t managed 50,000 by the end of November, don’t sweat it – you’ve participated and tried, which is more than a lot of people have ever done, and you’ve had the chance to write, which is always a great thing. And remember that even after November, you can keep going with your novel! It doesn’t have to end! 😀

 

But my writing isn’t good enough…

Don’t even think about thinking this. Do you know what NaNoWriMo’s tagline is? “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” Yeah, that means that your work doesn’t have to be good. At all. It can be terrible, actually, because NaNoWriMo’s goal isn’t to ‘get everyone to write perfect novels which will sell tremendously well.’ Their goal is simple but achievable: bring everyone together who wants to write and let them write. Whatever you’ve accomplished by the end, and if you’ve tried, then that’s the best anyone can ever do.

 

And that’s the bottom line. If you’ve tried your best, not anyone else’s, then who can criticise you? No one, that’s who. Enjoy the writing that you manage to do, and smile at what everybody else has managed to write, as well. National Novel Writing Month is all about community, and that’s what counts!

 

Until next week,

Thomas (who is over 7000 words behind and will probably be rushing like mad during the last few days).

I haven’t added many words, but that’s okay, right?

If I apologise to you all that I’ve not added any more than 3364 words to my NaNoWriMo novel, I’ll be honest, it’s not really going to work. But if I apologise to my inner writer for being a lazy bum, then I’m sure I’ll feel a little ashamed and disappointed.

Fortunately for me, though, I haven’t been a lazy bum – the reason I haven’t paid much attention to my work-in-progress novel, 30 Days, is because I’ve had to write 2500-word essay about whether men and women read literature in the same way. Not really my thing, and let’s face it, I’m not an academic writer. Anyway, preparing and writing that essay has taken a huge chunk of my time. However, dawn is finally here, as with my essay now submitted, I can crack on with my pos-apocalyptic novel again! Three cheers for me! Come on, I can’t see you jumping and clapping at my pleasant turn of events! 😛

All jokes aside, this week I’m hoping to reach the 35k mark – even with uni starting up again (this week was reading week) I’m determined to do it! Has anyone else faced similar problems, or even just hit a bump in the road or writer’s block? Write in the comments below and share it all with the Writer’ Cabinet community; a problem shared is a problem halved.

Here is the second extract of my novel. Hopefully you enjoy it, but maybe you won’t – just tell me why either way! See you all next week. 🙂

30 Days Extract (Chapter Three)

The rain was so severe that Abraham literally thought that buckets full to the brim with freezing water were being dropped frantically from the black sky. The wind howled like a pack of hungry wolves and the cold bit into his flesh like thousands of spiders. He screamed uselessly, crying for someone to help. It was obvious that no one would come, but it was the only thing he could do. Going onwards was not an option, as the storm would rip him to pieces if he didn’t find shelter soon, and going back to where he just came from…

            The grass was squelching beneath his feet and the mud coated itself onto his boots – they were already ruined. He stumbled on a few more steps, although every step he did take was sapping a large part of his strength and will. Lifting a trembling hand from his coat pocket, he felt his face. Freezing. In this state he could be dead within minutes. The water had already soaked into every possible dry area, making him quiver with cold. It was hopeless.

            Hurtling to the ground, tears from his eyes began to mix into the rain, just like that Warden with his cut leg. The Warden.

            What have I done?

            His eyes were getting heavy; he struggled to stay awake.

            ‘I can’t sleep,’ he yelled to himself. ‘I must stay awake, I must go on…’

            But what was the point in going on? He already knew that it would be a wasted effort. So why did he have to continue forwards? Suddenly sleep felt far more important and satisfying, and his head drooped; his eyes gradually closed, and within a minute his body was lying face-down in the mud and waterways of rain.

NaNoWriMo starts in…3 days?!?!

It blows my mind how quickly the time has gone. I mean come on, it feels like yesterday when I said “NaNoWriMo? That sounds fun. But it’s four months away – I’ve got plenty of time.”

Apparently not.

You see, I thought I would have planned much more by now. I thought I would get detailed character bios done, a fairly detailed plotline in place, a map drawn out, and so on. But what have I actually done? Two character bios and a meagre plot concept.

Yeah.

But who cares? That’s part of what NaNo’s about: not really knowing where your story is going to go, and wondering if and when you should add new characters or kill present ones. I’m hoping to draw my map by tonight, and a more fleshed-out plotline would be nice, but it’s definitely not essential. I’ve got OpenOffice installed on my computer (I’m writing this on my dad’s PC), and if you don’t know what that is, I highly suggest you check it out – it’s like Microsoft Word, only FREE! Here’s the link to install it (I promise you, it’s legitimately free; there’s no bugs or stuff like that, and if there are, then they get fixed anyway): http://www.openoffice.org

So I’m alright. I’m okay. It’ll be fun, trying to juggle writing 2000 words a day, writing a blog, uni work, and just general life.

Things are going to change for about a month

It’s true, otherwise I’d never be able to manage everything that I have to do. So, here’s how it’s going to work for the month of November:

1.) I will be posting only once a week (probably Monday, as it’s the best time for me).

2.) The content of my posts will be purely about NaNoWriMo, but I assure you things will be back to normal in December.

3.) Because of no. “2.)”, regular updates will be posted on both the Writer’s Cabinet’s Facebook page and @writerscabinet’s Twitter account (more on this later).

4.) I will, however, be posting another film review in early November (Skyfall), but this will be counted as a bonus post.

Get the most out of November

I know some of you are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, so I’ve decided to create an event on the Writer’s Cabinet’s Facebook page which you can all join, at least if you’ve already liked the page – if not, please do so! It’s here:

http://www.facebook.com/writerscabinet

The event will involve lots of motivational pictures, and anyone and everyone can share their current wordcount and their actual work, if they want to. But please join the actual event, as that is where everything will be posted:

http://www.facebook.com/events/419546628105009

So what are you waiting for? Join the event, and we can all share the excitement of November!

N.B. I will also be using my Twitter account, but it won’t be as often. Still, join it anyway – I’ll be posting exclusive stuff on both Facebook and Twitter!

Questions?

Feel free to write in the comments below if you’re unsure about what I said, or if you have an idea which will possibly make Writer’s Cabinet an even more enjoyable experience. 😉 Seriously though, if you have any questions or ideas, go ahead and write them below!

I think that might be it…at least, until next Monday’s post! By then I should be well into my story, but remember that key word: should! Remember to join the Writer’s Cabinet’s Facebook Page and Twitter feed, and I’ll see you all next week. 😀

Writer’s Cabinet’s Dictionary Series: Advertising

Hi guys! Well I’ve been wanting to do a long-running series about ‘words’ for a long time, and I pondered several ideas – this is the series I came up with. Basically, whenever I can, I’ll be looking for a word which takes my fancy from my dictionary (Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, Concise Edition) and writing a post about it: the word may spark a story which I’ll write; maybe it’ll remind me of an experience I once had, or a post about the art of writing. Whatever it is, I’m hoping every single word will be of worth to you. And now to begin the series! 😀

 

Advertising n the promotion of goods or services by public notices; advertisements; the business of producing adverts.

This will be more of a rant than a debate, but I’ll try to keep it as toned down as possible. 😛 When I saw this word, I didn’t think of adverts from the ’50s, with their nicely coloured posters and lovely smiling families. Instead I thought of today’s money-making ploys, and the way in which they do that, from TV adverts to huge billboards across towns and cities.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Why is the world so horrified that under-age drinking and casual sex is invading our streets and homes when they seem to do so little about it? Yes, there are groups that discuss these topics, and yes, some people manage to make a difference, but they overlook the little things (or big things, depending on your point of view). Fashion stores are advertising ‘the now’ clothing for children as young as five or six – some so revealing and horrible that it’s no wonder paedophiles lurk on street corners. Music videos – either online or on the television – are stuffed with scantily clad ladies and six-packed men, and the lyrics…well, the lyrics can be some disgusting that you might as well sing “Come and have sex with me all night.” With supermarkets and other such companies advertising cheap wines and other alcoholic beverages, is it any wonder that so many youths these days try to buy them? Clubs and pubs seem to be in our everyday conversation nowadays, and with youngsters being naturally curious, why wouldn’t they want to find out for themselves what all the ‘fuss’ is about? It’s sickening that people try to blame the pubs when they don’t even care about the money-makers hiding behind their dollar bills.Advertising is becoming alarmingly worse, and it’s not happening slowly. I wonder when the law will be changed so that 14 year-olds can have sexual intercourse legally (although stupidly nobody does anything about it when it happens illlegally), or when underage drinking is not considered to be breaking the law.This generation seems to think that we’re the most intelligent and prosperous, but the simple fact is that if we don’t straighten ourselves out quickly and efficiently, the next generation will be a bunch of sex-driven, alcohol-induced fools, and that isn’t far from the truth now.

That’s my opinion, but do YOU agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Falling Flames: a 50/50 story (Part 3)

Before we begin, may I apologise for not publishing a post yesterday – if I’m honest, I was just too lazy! Anyway, what a predicament Jasmine is in! Her mother seems to be dead and her two choices are going to the temple or continuing on. But which will she choose? Ready? Here we go!

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Jasmine was exhausted, and carrying her mother on her back did not help. But she could not go up to the temple; it was too far. The climb looked horrendous and overhanging thorns and weeds determined her decision even more. She would continue on.

*

The sun was scorching both earth and flesh. At least, that’s what it felt like. The sun was at its highest in the sky, and still Jasmine had found no sign of people; no house or cottage was in sight. Her lips had cracked and split over an hour ago, but all she could do was wipe off the blood; there was no water to wash her mouth with. And then she saw it.

A thatched roof rising above the hill.

She thought it was a vision. A mirage, even. But it was there, almost eager to welcome weary travellers.

Or dying travellers.

Jasmine suddenly had a burst of strength and speed, and she limped quickly towards the thatched roof, her mother bouncing limply on her back. She reached it in a matter of minutes, and she nearly cried when she saw what the thatched roof was.

It was a small cottage, complete with a vegetable patch and wary cat. Bits of broken carrot and lettuce scattered the cramped yard, and trees shaded the entire area.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

‘Help!’ she sputtered, cracking her lip again from the effort of even moving her lips. ‘Somebody help us! My mother is…’ Jasmine glanced backwards, looking at her mother. Deathly still. ‘My…my mother is unwell!’ She hung her head.Scratches could be heard from inside, followed by a creaking of the front door. It swung open.

An old man appeared in the doorway. He was average height, but with a very short, scraggly white beard. Several teeth were missing from his welcoming smile, and a silver dagger was held in a brown belt at his hip.

Jasmine’s body realised what it had accomplished and she collapsed onto the fine-dusted ground. She could feel the weight of her mother on top of her, as useless as a corpse. Jasmine swallowed, wincing from the pain it caused. Maybe she was a corpse.

Gradually, everything faded to black.

*

The next thing Jasmine knew, she was lying in an ancient wooden bed wrapped in several blankets. She checked her lip. It was painful, but no blood caught on her fingers and they seemed moist.

She looked up.

The old man was sitting in a chair next to her, quietly rocking back and forth. He smiled. ‘Well it’s nice to have you back, child.’

‘What’s happened? Where’s mother?’

‘Stay calm, child, or you’ll tire yourself out.’

‘Where is she?’ Jasmine repeated.

The man’s face suddenly contorted. ‘Stay calm or I’ll leave you for the crows!’ He sat back again. ‘Now to answer your question, your mother is fine…in a way.’

Jasmine’s eyes widened. ‘In a way?’

‘Yes. I noticed she’s been in a fire, and it’s done some damage.’

‘And what exactly is damaged?’

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50/50 question: will Jasmine’s mother be disabled in some way, or will it be more supernatural? Heads it’ll be disabled, tails supernatural!

*Bad voiceover impression* What is wrong with Jasmine’s mother? What exactly were those falling flames in the sky? Join us next time for another episode of Faaaallling Flaaaaammmesss!!!! 🙂