Monday, May 21, 2007

Wannabe a Writer

On Saturday 19th May, I travelled by train to London and went to Borders in Charing Cross Road to go to my friend, Jane Wenham-Jones', book launch.

Her latest book Wannabe a Writer was released on 1st of May by Accent Press. It is an hilarious, informative guide all about getting into print and is a must have for anyone who's ever thought they've got a book in them. It is jam packed with loads of useful information from a whole range of writers. There are over 50 contributers including (and this is where I get to quote loads of famous people and so my blog will come up when people search for them): Katie Fforde, Frederick Forsyth, Ian Rankin, Jilly Cooper and my dad's favourite author Jill Mansell. Cool, or what?

Jane is Writing Magazine’s agony aunt. Every month she writes a very personal and to the point reply to wannabe writers' questions. I first met Jane at the Winchester Writers’ Conference when I was on her course on how to write short stories. I have had several short stories published in national women's magazines since doing her course. We met up again at the Caerleon Writer's Holiday. Watching Jane dance on the table is one of the highlights of my week.

At the book launch I met other famous authors such as Adele Parks, Helen Lederer, Ray Allen and many more. In fact, I got 22 signatures in my book. Several glasses of wine later I left Borders very happy indeed.

So far, one of my favourite bits in the book comes under the heading 'Suck it and See' (no pun intended).

"Just start writing and see what happens - you might be pleasantly surprised.
Or you might not.

Do remember though at this stage it is supposed to look like rubbish. So
don't let theat put you off. Write, write, write. You can sort it out

I suspect this bit caught my eye because it is basically reiterating what I've said in my previous posts this month. Take a look at:

Don't Panic - Organise! - Step One:

Don't Panic - Organise! - Step Two:

Don't Panic - Organise! - Step Three:

Also, and this is always a big selling point with me, it made me laugh. So if you only buy one book this year, I suggest you buy this one - Wannabe a Writer by Jane Wenham Jones. For more information about Jane and her books check out her website

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wise Words

Today someone very special to me said:

"If you always do things for nothing, you will always be at the start."

I think these are very Wise Words, which I felt compelled to share.

Yes, I have often done a lot of things for nothing - usually for the enjoyment I get out of doing them. It is true you have to start somewhere. But, it is also true, you cannot work for nothing all your life as you will never be considered a professional.

So thank you David Brown for your words of inspiration. I have taken them to heart.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Don't Panic - Organise! - Step Three:

  • As you write, note in bold, or use a highlighter pen, or a different colour font any sentences, words, or phrases you are unsure of, or unhappy about. This way you can can easily revisit these highlighted areas when you edit.
  • It is much easier to critique someone else's work than your own, so approach your writing as if someone else has written it.
  • Control your vocabulary. Use the find and replace function on your computer to find the words you overuse and then change them using the thesaurus for other, often more imaginative words.
  • Print and read each chapter or section aloud. Ask yourself, 'Does it sound right?' If you run out of breath halfway through a sentence, it is definitely too long.
  • I find printed text is much easier to edit than on the screen. Highlight problem areas (as specified above)to revise after you've finished reading it aloud.
  • It is a good idea to review sentences by focusing on one idea in each.
  • When writing for children, especially young children, short, focused sentences are clearer.
  • At many of the workshops on writing I've been to, they suggest to keep your voice active and verbs strong. I have found this to be good advice and it helps me to find a focus for each sentence as I edit.
  • Be careful when using acronyms, slang or jargon because it can date your writing.
  • Something I've learnt from my online critique group very recently is - special vocabulary should be used cautiously, introduced early, defined and used consistently.
  • And finally, if in doubt chop it out.

For more information on editing read my previous post: All About Editing

Friday, May 11, 2007

Don't Panic - Organise! - Step Two:


That's it!

Put your fingers on the keyboard and push, or for the more technically challenged pick up a pen.

It's, quite literally, as simple as that.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Don't Panic - Organise! - Step One:

Get in the zone

Whether you are meeting a publication deadline, overlapping projects, or procrastinating:

  • Mentally organise by thinking about your 'story' or project and how it develops.
  • Don't think about looking at your MySpace or updating your blog, turn off the mobile and msn, but most important of all - delete all those distracting solitaire games on your PC. (Yes, this is me talking - I haven't been replaced by aliens. It is very good advice and one day, I too will follow it!)
  • Keep a notebook and jot down all your thoughts on 'story' development and write down all those good phrases you over hear.
  • Talk about the topic you are writing about (but, not the story) to your family and friends, your doctor or even the postman. Your writing will benefit from the reactions and interpretations of other people.
  • If the information received is unclear, ask for clarification. But, whatever you do don’t get defensive and don’t argue. Smile and accept comments gracefully, even if you disagree. Then, make a note in that notebook we mentioned earlier and move on. You don’t have time to debate. If you get all uptight you wont be able to write anything anyway. So always remember it’s only a writing project!
  • Clear your desk, or the place where you write, so you have a designated distraction-free area where you can concentrate.
  • Make sure your time frame is clear, especially if you are dependant on others to get the job done.
  • Devise a schedule working backwards from the deadline. This includes highlighting all the major steps: due date, revision, draft, workspace organization, resources required and research. This schedule can be adapted as you progress.
  • Once you've organised everything you need to avoid disrupting your writing process you now need to think about everything you don't need! So, make sure you've got something to keep the kids busy - hire some DVD's and playstation games, buy them new feltpens, let them choose a whole range of books and CD's from the library and make loads of snacks they can help themselves to.