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Writing Advice

In this section, you will find a collection of blogs dedicated to writing advice. So, if your manuscript is starting to drive you crazy, or you’re not sure how to get started, read on for the push you need to create your masterpiece.

Don’t Let the Deadline Go By

Mohana RajakumarSince the birth of our son there have been times in the last four months that I’m not even sure what month it is, let alone day of the week.  For the first time in my life, I feel an acute awareness of the finite number of hours in a day. Because as they say: time is the only thing (besides real estate) we can’t make more of.

When undergoing major life changes and trying to keep up with your writing, deadlines become even more important. A missed deadline can often be like a multi-car collision on the motorway sending everything else on the docket careening into a free fall.

Take for example the book I was trying to finish earlier this year on hip hop dance. Much to my delight, I managed to get the manuscript in before my delivery date and nothing from the editor on revisions as I headed into the maternity ward. Then on one of the afternoons that I woke from the new mother haze to reconnect with the outside world online, I found an email requesting additional …
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Their is a problem with you're grammar

Cressida DowningDid you spot the deliberate mistakes?  If so, read no further, you're off the hook!

I am often asked how 'perfect' a submission needs to be, in terms of its grammar and spelling.  Spelling should be spell-checked, preferably by a person rather than a machine, and grammar shouldn't stand out as wrong. I don't make a point of trying to find the mistakes but when something affects the sense of a sentence or a passage then that raises a red flag.

What drives me absolutely crazy (and pretty much every editor I have ever met), is the common confusion writers have with 'your' and 'you're', 'their, they're, there'', and problems with apostrophes.  This is my cut out and keep guide if this applies to you:

Your = belonging to you - such as 'your cat is sick'.  Not to be confused with:

You're = a contraction of 'you are' - such as 'you're sick and your cat is also sick'.

They're = a contraction of 'they are' - such as 'they're sick of hearing about your cat'.

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A new year, a new focus?

10 New Year's Resolutions for the 21st Century LeaderNew Year's resolutions - are you making any this year?  This Guardian article mentions that most of us will break or drop our resolutions by the end of January, and suggests sanctions for not carrying them out, such as pledging money to a cause you don't support.  Another approach I've read about is to set the bar ridiculously low, so that you can be sure you'll achieve it, and your achievement carries you through onto bigger and better things.  My take is to be easy on yourself generally, and you'll have the most chance of success.

A common New Year's resolution is say 'this is the year I will write my novel'.  How can you help yourself to carry it out?  Resolutions succeed when they're easy or fit easily into your life.  Where do you do your writing?  And when?

If you're struggling to find time to fit writing in, and struggling to find a physical place for you to do your writing, focus on those first.  Are you a morning person?  Would an hour before work or other …
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Are you a Greta Garbo, or would you rather collaborate?

nicola

One of the joys of my creative career has been brainstorming with other creative people. So why do so many emerging writers shun this practice? Yes, they'll attend writers' groups and retreats where they'll have their work dissected, poked and downright burnt (figuratively speaking, that is. I have yet to hear of any chapter burnings) but, heaven forbid, that they openly engage these other minds to explore all the angles on an aspect of their story with which they only have a tentative hold. And no wonder. We rely on fellow writers' critical faculties so heavily but call upon joint creative abilities so poorly. Why is that?



The obvious answer is the concern that someone might steal your idea. This is a misconception that in the publishing industry that Concept alone decides success. Do you really believe that those bright individuals working in publishing crave mediocrity? Did you ever consider that, to stay a float, such businesses (for …
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Six Pet Hates of An Editor

nicola

Ok, I’m putting my neck on the line here and naming the most common pitfalls I have seen emerging talents fall into. In today’s blog, I baldly name and shame what I would happily never encounter again:

  1. An entire chapter revolving around a character walking or driving from A-B alone, interspersed by long passages of back story.

  2. An entire chapter set around a character in bed/in nature/alone reminiscing.

  3. Melodramatic chapter cliff hangers. Your story is either engrossing or not. A pining character is not the answer.

  4. Making the same point in ten different ways –all on the same page.

  5. Belabouring the point. [See above]

  6. Describing objects/landscapes/surroundings in miniscule detail over countless pages. Poetry is a gift not a licence.


And I can say all this because, early on as a writer, I have been guilty of most of the above. Ok, who am I kidding? I have been guilty of all of the above at one time or another. And so, today, I invite you to kill off your darlings …
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