Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
We are so pleased to announce the start of our book club! Here’s how it will work. We’ll all start by reading the same book, and on a specific day near the end of April we’ll meet up over on Winghill’s Facebook page to discuss! Sound like a plan?
We sent out an email and posted on Facebook asking everyone to vote between three different books. The winner is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. We’re so excited!
Here is a short synopsis courtesy of Amazon:
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
Are you going to join us in reading our new book?
If you are going to participate by reading The Language of Flowers, please read to the end of the novel by April 25th.
On April 28th we will post a few reading questions for you to answer and announce the date of the live Facebook book discussion as well.
Alright, now it’s time to find a cozy little spot to curl up with a cup of tea and a new book…
Gene Fowler, the American journalist, and dramatist said it best, “Writing is easy. You just sit staring at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
We all know that feeling. If Gene were writing today, he’d have us all staring at a blank screen instead of that awful piece of paper, but we’re still all sitting there, trying our best. Good writing, after all, does not come easily. Mostly, it’s hard work. Mostly it’s a lonely business.
Even the best writers sometimes have to go even further than Gene suggested. Blood, and sweat and tears may help to achieve that compelling prose.
When you are at your lowest and think you will never get there, it can be helpful to see how others do it.
A mentor is a great help. At Winghill, we give you the structure of a course as well as a mentor to support you.
In blogs, many other writers are generous with their time and knowledge. Look around online, you’ll find thousands of blogs covering many thousands of creative topics. Find the ones that you feel best support you in your work.
Here are some free ones that we really like. Some deal with specific topics or specialty writing tips. Others are more general in nature. They’ll all take you by the hand and help you to realize that you are not alone.
John August is a highly successful scriptwriter with credits like the Charley’s Angels movies, Corpse Bride and Big Fish to his name. His blog is full of how-to information and up-to-the-minute trade news. If you are interested in screen writing, John’s a great guy to read.
At Make a Living Writing, Carol Trice offers, “practical advice for hungry writers.” You’ll find lots of solid, practical tips here on how to get by in the competitive writing world.
At Writers Helping Writers, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi do just that. A recent blog post contains a fabulous article on how to give your fictional characters terrible emotional wounds – from which you can help them to recover, or… lacerate them remorselessly forever. Who said you have no power!?
Jon Bard’s blog is a fabulous compilation of tips and advice on the creative process AND the business end of writing in an important specialty area – writing for children.
An excellent blog to visit daily just as its name implies. Put your bum on your chair. Open up dailywriting tips.com Spend a pleasant fifteen minutes browsing about how other writers do it. Then start the hard work yourself…until the blood drips from your forehead! And talking of horror…..
Keith Pyeatt can evoke shudders with the best of ‘em. At his Horror With Heart blog, he reminds us that anti-heros can still be worthy of sympathy and feel, as Keith says, “like old friends.” And there’s the true heart of horror. It could happen to any of us. Aaaaaaaagghh!
Perspiration? Inspiration? What gets your writing work accomplished??
Writers all need creativity, that spark of an idea that sets you on the path to writing something worthwhile. Yes. Inspiration is important. Unfortunately, you have to be able to get from the gem of an idea to the fully written text. That’s not so easy. That’s hard work.
How do you get through the agony of writing to the ecstasy of having written?
Here are some tried and true writing tips to help you through that hard graft. Do you have some good tips to share? Let us know. We all want to share and hear.
1. Remember: Planning and Preparation are crucial parts of writing. Pre-write before you actually write.
You would not plan a dinner party without thinking about who to invite, considering if they will get on well together, then developing your menu carefully, and going out to buy the necessary ingredients. In the same way, don’t expect simply to be able to sit down in front of your computer, get hit with an idea out of the blue, and be able to start writing effectively.
Spend time in the pre-writing stage. Develop your ideas. Reflect on what you want to say. Once you have clarified this in your mind, you’ll be able to set the ideas down much more readily. Some of our best writing is done while relaxed in a hot bathtub!
2. Introduce some schedules into your daily writing.
We humans are creatures of habit. We like to be scheduled. That’s why we divide our lives into weeks, months, years. It’s why we recognize birthdays and anniversaries. It’s why we set up timetables. You don’t have to be crazily officious about it, but do establish a more or less regular daily writing schedule for yourself at whatever time of day suits you best. Then stick to your schedule even on days when the words just won’t come easily. If 7am to 11am is your designated writing time, those four hours should find you sitting at your computer most days. Regular scheduling oils the wheels of creativity and turns your writing into a serious proposition.
3. Learn from Others. Read, Read, And Read Some More.
If you consider yourself a writer, you should also consider yourself (and be) an avid reader. Read your most beloved authors. Read them with a professional eye and ear. Read them as a writer. You have teachers all around you. Use them. Keep their books close at hand. Read them for stimulation and motivation. Why do you – enjoy, learn from, lose yourself in, respect – each author’s work? How can you learn from their styles to improve your own writing?
4. Don’t Worry About the Huge Task Ahead.
Do not get so concerned about the massive project you have undertaken that you cannot get started on it. Worry just about the next few steps. Nail Gaiman says it best in an article he wrote for the Guardian, “Write one word. Then write the next word.” What will you accomplish in today’s scheduled work? That’s enough to worry about for today. After all, in a year of worrying about the next word, you’ll find you have worried through a whole book! Right?? Write!
5. Editing Works. Never Imagine that Your First Draft Will be Your Last Draft.
Write. Leave some time to allow yourself to fall out of love with what you have written. Go back. Read it again. Edit it. Most good writers use this process. Stick with the process.
What gets your writing engine rolling?
Let us know some of your favorite writing tips and tricks in the comments!
Creative writing, we all know, requires a bit more than creativity to design and invent characters that are three-dimensional and anything but transient. Though it often seems like work, proper drafting and creating of these characters can be, and should be, an adventure worth the daily grind. To help you in this venture, here are a few foolproof ways to flesh out your characters and write a story that everyone will want to read:
1. Figure out the role each character plays in your piece.
Imagine you are a journalist about to interview someone for a story. To do so, you must know, ahead of time, some outline of how this person will help shape your story. Do they exist as a firsthand witness to an event or are they the victim or principal part of the story? Ask yourself what makes each of your characters important to the story and what part they have to play. This basic information will shape the remainder of your exercises.
2. Ask questions of your characters.
You’ve already narrowed down their position in your piece. Now you need to investigate who they are as people. Your object should be to understand not only their history, but how they think and interact with themselves and others. Are they introverted? Where did they go to high school? How do they decorate their bedroom? Think of it, almost, as creating a social media profile for your character. What would this person share about his/her life? How do they react to being in their hometown after a long absence?
Ask them the questions and pretend they are talking to you. That’s right. Have a conversation with your fictional characters. Doing so will allow you to better understand how they respond to the people around them. There are a number of great questionnaires online which can help with the process.
3. Develop your characters through exercises.
Before even beginning to write your story, take time to develop your characters through a variety of exercises. These should be more than simply asking questions. Now is the time to find out how they react to various situations by putting them through some extreme circumstances. How would your main character react to the unexpected death of a loved one? Have each of your characters speak about the one thing they are most passionate about. What do they know of the subject and how do they know it? Create these fictional pieces outside of your main transcript, and you’ll find that writing the actual thing becomes quite a bit easier.
Writing solid, believable characters in fictional works is incredibly important. If you want your story to last, be believable and worth repeating, your characters cannot be stagnant. By putting together these exercises and taking the time to investigate your characters, you’ll be providing your reader with characters they can relate to and view as real people.
Adrienne is a freelance writer and designer who loves learning and sharing new techniques for improving the quality of your writing. Get in touch by following @adrienneerin on Twitter or checking out her design blog.
Have you ever been tempted to join a book club? Try it…..you’ll like it!
We love discussing our favorite books over a glass of wine. Add some cheese and grapes and you are all set for a wonderful evening with friends. The book club voted Best in Canada has been going for more than thirty years. Many of the original members are still enthusiastic participants.
A book club is a great opportunity to get together with like-minded friends to discuss many books you might not otherwise choose to read yourself. If you generally read only fiction how could you know that, “The Man Without A Face-The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin” might come up at your book club just as the Sochi Olympics were running? Or that it would be such a fascinating (and frightening) read??
In today’s online world, you don’t have to go out to join a club that gives you a great sense of belonging and companionship. You’ll probably have to provide your own wine though!
The Afterword Reading Society is found at the National Post newspaper in Canada. Each week, members have the chance to enter a draw to win one of 25 copies of a book and to write a short review of it for the newspaper. Members’ questions to the authors are showcased in the newspaper each week. Every Saturday, members have the chance to be published with a review of a book they have recently read.
This book club is chaired by John Mullan, an English professor at University College in London. Every month, the Club chooses a specific book to read. Each choice is reviewed in the arts section of the newspaper by Professor Mullan. Discussions with the authors are made available on free podcasts.
At Booktalk.org, members are promised, “quality books, good people and great conversations.” Books of all kinds are discussed in active forums and you can opt to become a discussion leader at the site. If you are looking for a great new book to read, you’ll find wonderful suggestions and tempting descriptions at the “What Are You Currently Reading?” forum in the club.
Encourages you to join groups that concentrate in your own areas of interest. If you love talking about books that have been made into movies, the books2movies group is a great option for fiery discussions about whether the book or the movie was better. In the Into the Forest Group, you can delve into the dark mysteries of ogres and magicians and elves with many others who love reading this genre.
Not convinced about the advantages of book club membership? Try a wonderful book written by a niece and aunt team n 2008. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peeling Society make you long to join a book club, or even to establish your own!
I have a confession to make – I love grammar. And because I want you to love grammar as much as I do, I’m going to regularly talk about the most common grammar errors…and most importantly, how to avoid them.
Grammar matters. A grammatical error in your manuscript will give an editor the excuse they were looking for to toss it aside. As writers, you should be constantly brushing up on your grammar and improving your skills. So give it a try! Get started with these quick grammar lessons.
Fewer versus Less
Fewer than half the English speaking world knows the proper way to use these confusing counters. That might be an exaggeration (we hope!), but here’s how to get it right:
Use “fewer” for things you can physically count, like oranges. I ate fewer oranges than you.
Use “less” for things that are abstract or uncountable, like time, or grains of sand. The less time we spend at the beach, the less sand we’ll get in our shoes!
Your versus You’re
Your great grammar skills mean you’re never going to get this one wrong, right? For me, this is one of those nails on the chalkboard kind of mistakes, but it’s oh so easy to make (especially now with texting culture!).
“Your” is a possessive pronoun; use it when referring to something you own or have. Your grammar is impeccable!
“You’re” is a contraction of “you are”. You’re not going to believe the grammar mistake I saw today!
They’re versus Their versus There
The triple threat. Nothing will make the grammar fanatic angrier than seeing these used improperly. Here’s a quick breakdown of the rules:
“They’re” is a contraction of “they are”. They’re always misusing the word “there”!
“Their” is a possessive pronoun; use it when referring to something they own or have. Their grammar could use some work.
“There” refers to a place, or the existence of something (used with the verb “to be”). There are a lot of seagulls over there.
What grammar mistake drives you crazy? Leave it in a comment!
The memoir is an increasingly popular form. Three parts history, one part imagination, a well-written memoir can be a window into experience that many would never otherwise have. A well-written memoir is a tricky thing, and so in this post, we’re going to tell you how to write a memoir.
Memoir Versus Autobiography
First thing’s first – a memoir is not an autobiography. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Yes, you’re telling your life story in both but here’s the difference: an autobiography is an historical look at an entire life; a memoir is more concerned with theme and emotion, and can focus on one particular time or event. A memoir is not necessarily as concerned with precise facts, dates, or events. Because of that, it can sometimes read like fiction.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely read a few memoirs that I didn’t even realize were memoirs at first! I thought they were just works of fiction, and was shocked (and impressed) to learn that it was actually a true story. Now that’s good writing. Side note: I just had this experience with A Wolf at the Table, a memoir by Augusten Burroughs. Great read!
Find Your Theme
Now that we understand what a memoir is, it’s time to start writing, right? Not so fast. As with any writing, you’re going to have to do some leg-work beforehand. Specifically: determine what event or aspect of your life you want to be the focus of your memoir. Perhaps you had a difficult childhood that you would like to explore through your writing, or maybe the story of your school days is interesting or humorous. The more focused your story, the better it will be.
Because this is a personal, true story, the pre-writing process might be difficult. You’re going to have to bring up old memories that could be painful. Let yourself feel the emotions – analyze your memories, and try to see them from a perspective other than your own. Your memoir will be richer for it.
Cast Your Characters
Just like in a work of fiction, you must create engaging, dynamic, and realistic characters. Just because your characters represent real people in your life doesn’t mean they will automatically seem interesting – that’s your job as the writer. Don’t write boring characters – people aren’t boring in real life, no matter what they may seem at first. Also, don’t include every Tom, Dick, or Harry you’ve ever come across in your life. Try to stay as focused as you can.
I suggest doing a character sketch of each person you want to include in your story – figure out what makes them tick, what their defining characteristics are, what are their strengths, and what are their faults. Try to be as objective as you can, and pepper these little details throughout your story for more three-dimensional characters.
Depending on how you’re writing your memoir, your research will probably include talking to family members or other people who were in your life at the time of your story. Look through old photographs, read old letters and journals, and anything else you can get your hands on. Go through the newspapers from the time to put your life into context of major world events.
Research is an important step, and not one to be passed over. It can help trigger memories you didn’t even know you had, and fill in gaps in your narrative.
Take a Course
When it comes to writing, guidance is always a plus. It gives your writing structure, and is also a great motivator to get words on paper.
Winghill Writing School offers an entire course in Memoir Writing, which will take you through the writing process with the help of your very own personal tutor. Learn more about the course here.
Classic Memoirs to Add to Your Reading List
Read a few of these great memoirs, and learn from the best! As you’re reading, determine what you find engaging about their stories, and where you lose interest.
– Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
– Night, Elie Wiesel
– Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
– A Million Little Pieces, James Frey
– Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
– The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
– A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
– I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
A great writer can be working on their craft even when they’re not writing. How so? It’s all about making simple changes to your day to live a writing lifestyle. Read on for some essential tips for great writing.
A good writer must be a good reader. Reading ensures that you expand your mind as well as generate new techniques that are used in the field of writing. Reading must not necessarily be narrowed down to your area of interest, but should cover a diverse range of fields.
To be a good writer, your greatest companions should be a pen and a piece of paper (or a laptop for the technological among us). Write anything – be it a shopping list, a to-do list, or a weekly diary (or blog). This will motivate you to write something constructive and keep your interest in writing peaked.
Expand your vocabulary and grammar
Vocabulary and grammar go hand-in-hand and they can be easily mastered by completing the first two tips.
Be well informed
Your desire to write might not translate into a good piece of work if you do not possess the right information and know-how on your subject. Research as much as you can at the beginning so you are well armed for the future. You might need some inspiration in the middle of writing. If so, just check your brainstorming session notes again.
You must acknowledge every source that you have based your writing on. You must not directly copy another writer’s ideas, words, and/or sentences without using proper citation.
Speed it up
A good writer must be able to write his or hers ideas quickly, because ideas start to fade away as your body and brain get tired. The faster you can write it down, the more you will get done in one sitting… simple!
Be specific to your audience
If your writing is intended for adults, make sure it stays on point. If it is for students, start-up professionals, or any other group, let your language and tone target them specifically.
Readers should learn something useful from your writing
Your writing should not be ambiguous. You need to make sure that your readers have something to read that benefits them in some way. A boring piece of writing is not only a snooze fest but is also a waste of time, so educate your readers!
Make it easy to understand and summarize
It should be easy to summarize your work or be able point out a general theme or thought from your work. Try and make your writing ‘have a statement’ that your readers will take away and remember.
Love your work
If you want people to appreciate your writing, you must remember that charity begins at home, so love your work. If you don’t love your work, then find out why and get back on track. If you love it, they will!
Student writing help and writing guides brought to you by Jacob Jennings.
Writing, just like any other art, is learned. But remember, as Ernest Hemingway once said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way!”
Let’s take a look this step by step guide to great writing and essential tips for mastering the art of great writing.
This may seem obvious, but you never know when creativity will strike. If you always keep a pen and paper handy you will be able to capture every one of those creative ideas, each and every time!
Set deadlines and targets
If you set a target and a deadline you are more likely to motivate yourself to get writing and keep writing. Set a target of something like 10 pages per day, or sitting down to write for four hours a day with one 30 minute break.
Think about what you want to write. Then write as many short points from the ideas you have generated. This is called pre-writing. If you do this before you start writing then you do not have to have breaks to think of ideas during the writing process.
Write rough drafts
A necessary evil of writing is creating a rough draft and going back over your work. To write a rough draft, take the points you generated out of brainstorming session and join them together.
Edit your work
Edit your work. Not only will you catch grammatical errors, but you’ll also be able to filter what’s important to your work from what’s not, and delete any unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs.
Proofreading has become easier than ever. You could use a proofreading software or just an individual proofreader with a good understanding of language. If you can’t afford to pay someone to proofread then try asking your friends or family. It is best to get someone other than yourself to proofread your work because you have seen it before and can miss a lot of the mistakes.
Get an expert’s view
Let an expert in your field of study read it after editing. This could be your tutor or someone else you know, like a classmate.
Audience-test your work
You don’t always need an expert to read your work. Let people you know – friends, relatives, or the public – give you some constructive criticism. Listen to what they have to say about your work and decide if their points are valid. Remember, you don’t have to accept all criticism. You decide. After all, it is your work!
Student help and writing guides brought to you by Jacob Jennings.
I’m a wife and mother and never imagined I could or would write an entire novel one day. My first published novel is a standalone paranormal romance, The Gathering Darkness, which I wrote while taking the Winghill Novel Writing course. Since then, I’ve written and published The Devil’s Flower, the first book in The Eternal Beings Series, and the first and second books in the Serendipitous Curse Reborn and Reviled series. I’m now working on two more novels, the next in both series.
By day, I work for a real estate company, so I’m quite busy. In my spare time I like to tour my homeland of Nova Scotia with my husband on our motorbike. I think up great scenes while riding on back—of course, I don’t remember all of them when I get home!
Name: Lisa Collicutt
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
In all honesty, I always liked the idea of being an author. But I thought the possibility of writing a book was as realistic as becoming a rocket scientist, so I never tried. (What a waste of imagination all those years!) Then, in 2009, I read Twilight. At the time, I was used to reading much more sophisticated fantasy and historical romance novels, so this simply written teen novel struck more than one cord in me. Besides loving the story, I thought: I can do this. So the moment I finished reading Twilight, I went to my computer and wrote my fist novel. (No vampires included). Of course it wasn’t good enough to be published, but my writing improved with each book I wrote, and eventually, I got published. It was that same year, 2009, after starting my third novel that I decided to get serious and take the Winghill Novel Writing Course.
What did you enjoy most about your Novel Writing course?
I actually learned things, I felt important, and the lessons were fast and fun. I loved that I could do it all online at my own convenience. But I was motivated to finish my book, so once I had done all the course lessons, I took an extension on the course until I finished writing The Gathering Darkness. The whole thing, all the lessons plus the extension, took about 7 or 8 months. So the lessons went by pretty fast. I also liked the idea of having a tutor with me along the way to check each chapter as I wrote them. I took every critical comment seriously and worked toward making this book the best that I could—and it got published.
On your blog, you call yourself a “paranormal romance author”. How did you find the genre that works for you?
I didn’t think about genres at first. I just knew I wanted to write about witches and magic. I did loads of research, and that’s how I realized I was actually writing paranormal. Romance also plays a big part in my stories. I have to have both. I describe my stories as being dark and twisted. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about angels and demons, and even Hoodoo.
Where did the inspiration for The Gathering Darkness come from?
I knew I wanted to write a spooky teen novel about witches. Then one day inspiration struck. I walked into the real estate office where I work, and a book of old photos of the town of Chester were opened to a picture of The Hackmatack Inn. This inn no longer stands, but it was large, dark, and menacing enough to draw me into the picture. Immediately my mind started whirling, and the premise of The Gathering Darkness was conceived.
I originally set the story in Chester, Nova Scotia, and used the Inn’s original name. Then, with advice from my tutor, I changed the setting entirely to the fictional town of Deadwich, Massachusetts. That way I could do whatever I wanted with the town and not offend anyone. Also, since I was writing about witches, I wanted the story to be closer to Salem.
I thought up a lot of the story in my head on my daily walks through the village to the post office. The main character, Brooke, was fashioned a little after me. We are both city girls who moved to the country as teens, and neither of us wanted to leave our city life behind. Like Brooke, I too was afraid of the dark growing up, and the country was terrifyingly dark compared to the city. So I put a lot of me in Brooke, for sure.
How do you stay organized and motivated to finish a novel?
I’ve never set deadlines except for the new series I’m co-writing with best-selling Author Aiden James. Because others are involved in this project, I try to give myself a deadline to follow. Motivation comes from my love of my stories. I guess you do have to love your own work to want to write it. Not to sound boastful, but I do love what I write. I’m a loose plotter, which means I rarely plot at all. Therefore, I have no idea what will happen on the next page until I get to that point and start typing—although sometimes I know what will happen 2 or 3 chapters down the road. This method has always worked for me. However, I do know some writers who get a white board and map out their entire story before they begin to type it.
Can you describe your experience with the publishing process?
The day I received the first letter of acceptance and contract was the most exciting moment of my life. I wish there was a more exciting word for exciting. For me it was so unbelievable, that I was more overwhelmed than anything else. But signing publishing contracts comes with a load of responsibility that wasn’t there before. My publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, is good at giving me the acquired time I need. But still, there’s pressure to complete when there wasn’t before. Publishing also comes with doing lots of interviews and self promoting. But I love it all, and wouldn’t go back.
Have you ever received a rejection letter? How have you dealt with this?
I’ve received many rejection emails. Each submission I sent lifted me up, and each rejection brought me down, but never to the point of quitting. I just kept writing, finishing one novel and beginning another, and all the while I researched the business. Living in my created worlds kept me happy as I sent out more submissions. And during that time I learned that rejections aren’t always a frown upon your work. Some publishers and agents reject you because they’ve filled their quota of paranormal for the year. So I kept sending until I found the right publisher who loved my story. I queried for about two years before I got accepted.
What does the future hold for Lisa Collicutt?
I hope I can write forever, however long that may be for me. I have so many more stories to tell, some already started. I even want to write children’s picture books one day and have some ideas for them put away. Right now, I’m in the middle of two new adult paranormal romance series, one about angels and demons, and the other about ghosts, reincarnation, and Hoodoo. I hope to wrap up both by the end of this year. I’ve met so many other writers, people in the business, and fans through social media. They’re who keep the spark glowing inside me.
I’d like to thank Winghill and the late Michael Crawley. I thoroughly enjoyed my Winghill experience.
Are you ready to write your novel?
Take the first step with Winghill Writing School