Archives For Writing Tips

How to Write a Short Story: Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

In this video, narrated by the author himself, Kurt Vonnegut shares eight insightful tips for writing a great short story.

This advice was published in the introduction to Bagombo Snuff Box, a collection of Vonnegut stories written during the fifties and sixties for popular magazines including Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post.

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“I want to write because I have the urge to excel in one medium of translation and expression of life. I can’t be satisfied with the colossal job of merely living. Oh, no, I must order life in sonnets and sestinas and provide a verbal reflector for my 60-watt lighted head.” – Sylvia Plath

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 Opportunities for Writers April and May 2014

Please check the relevant websites for full terms and conditions, and don’t forget that entry fees are applicable in some cases.

The Danish Centre for Writers and Translators
is offering four-week residencies to published authors. Four international authors and eight to ten Danish authors (four at a time) will be selected. This working residency is available to authors who have had at least two books of fiction or poetry published. Applications close 1 April.

Ninth Letter
is accepting submissions of fiction and poetry from students currently enrolled in a creative writing program for a special online edition to be published in Spring 2014. Submissions close 1 April.

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3 Writing Tips from Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of four novels: PrepThe Man of My Dreams,  American Wife and Sisterland. In an article in The Guardian last week, published in the wake of the controversy caused by Hanif Kureishi’s assertion that creative writing courses are ‘a waste of time’, Sittenfeld (herself an experienced creative writing teacher) shared the following very practical advice for writers.

1. Establish a writing schedule ahead of time for the coming week or month.

This is more important the less time you have. If you work full-time, you might plan to write for an hour at 6am on Tuesday and Thursday, or at 4pm on Wednesday and Saturday. Write this commitment down in your diary or calendar, don’t schedule anything that conflicts with it, and sit alone somewhere you can focus when the time comes. It’s OK if you don’t produce sentences during that time, but don’t do anything else – don’t check email, don’t text, don’t go online (and for heaven’s sake, if you’re using a computer, shut all files and windows except for the one you’re working on). If some nagging errand you need to do occurs to you, write it down, but don’t start doing it.

2. Create an outline. 

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Writing Advice from Trey Parker and Matt Stone

In 2014 iconic animated series South Park turns 17 years old. Since debuting in August 1997, over 240 episodes have gone to air and the show has won five Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America included South Park in its 101 Best-Written Shows Ever.

With its highly controversial story lines, South Park may have as many enemies as it does fans, but its creators and writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone clearly know how to create a storyline that grabs an audience’s attention.

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Opportunities for Writers March and April 2014

March and April is a busy time for writers with lots of deadlines for competitions, publication opportunities, fellowships and more. Please check the relevant websites for full terms and conditions, and don’t forget that entry fees are applicable in some cases.

Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award
will award one grand prize winner a publishing contract with a US$50,000 advance, and four first prize winners will each receive a publishing contract with an advance of $15,000. There are five categories: general fiction, romance, mystery/thriller, science fiction/fantasy/horror and young adult fiction. The competition is open to writers around the world (except Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) and there is no entry free. Entries close on 2 March.

Dundee’s International Book Prize
is for an unpublished novel on any theme and in any genre. The winner will receive a £10,000 cash prize, together with a contract with Cargo Publishing. Entries close 3 March.

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Opportunities for Writers February and March 2014

Prepared with both emerging and established writers in mind, here is our latest round-up of writing competitions, publication opportunities, fellowships and more. Please check the relevant websites for full terms and conditions, and don’t forget that entry fees are applicable in some cases.

Indiana Review
is accepting submissions for its winter 2014 issue. Fiction and Nonfiction of up to 8000 words will be considered and poets should send between 3 and 6 poems per submission.  All work must be previously unpublished.

The Philip Roth Residence in Creative Writing
provides up to four months of writing time for a writer working on a first or second book. In alternate years, the residency is awarded to poets and writers of prose (fiction or creative nonfiction). The residency provides lodging in Bucknell University’s Poets’ Cottage and a stipend of US$4000. Applications for the spring semester residency close on 1 February.

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