Archives For Writing Tips

I.

Eleanor Catton, winner in 2013 for The Luminaries
“Read everything. You can learn from everything that has a narrative—books, of course, but also films, TV shows, computer games, advertisements, conversations, speeches, articles, the news. Read things you don’t like, and try to figure out why you don’t like them. Ask ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ as much as possible, and don’t be content with an easy answer.”

 II.

Hilary Mantel, winner in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies and in 2009 for Wolf Hall.
“Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that’s the point to step back and fill in the details of their Continue Reading…

“Criticism – however valid or intellectually engaging – tends to get in the way of a writer who has anything personal to say. A tightrope walker may require practice, but if he starts a theory of equilibrium he will lose grace (and probably fall off).”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

This infographic created by EssayMama.com draws heavily from a 2012 blog post by Roger Colby that we’d highly recommend to anyone wanting further inspiration. Colby himself refers to The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien which was published in 1981 and edited by Humphrey Carpenter assisted by Christopher Tolkien.

J.R.R. Tolkien's 10 Tips for Writers

Tolkien was close friends with C.S. Lewis, with both men working in the English Department at Oxford University. A movie about their friendship is due for release in 2015. Read the advice Lewis shared with aspiring young American writer here.

 


Short Story Masterclasses - Eight Successful Writers Discuss the Short Story Form

Short Story Masterclass is a specially commissioned podcast series produced by Thresholds, an online international short story forum based at the University of Chichester, in partnership with the Small Wonder Short Story Festival. Each episode features an award-winning author discussing their approach to short stories. The series is hosted by Steve Wasserman, creator of the Read Me Something You Love podcast, and K.J. Orr who was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2011. 

Episode 1: Sarah Hall and the sexiness of the short story form
Listen here
After writing four highly acclaimed novels, Sarah Hall published her first collection of short stories,The Beautiful Indifference, in 2011. The collection won the 2012 Edge Hill Short Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize. Hall is a tutor for the Faber Academy, The Guardian and the Arvon Foundation.

Episode 2: Joseph O’Connor and super-charging your language
Listen here
Continue Reading…

Opportunities for Writers September and October 2014

Over 100 competitions, publication opportunities, fellowships and more.

Please check the relevant websites for all terms and conditions and be aware that entry fees are payable in many cases.

Oxford American 
welcomes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry submissions, as well as proposals for Points South and feature articles. Submissions for the winter issue close on 1 September.

subTerrain Magazine
is based in Vancouver and is published three times a year. Submissions for its winter issue with the theme ‘meat’ close on 1 September.

The Fiction of Relationship
is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) being conducted by Brown University. The course seeks to explore relationships and literature through readings of ten great works of narrative fiction from the 18th to the 20th century. The course commences on 1 September and runs for 14 weeks.

Nano Prize for Flash Fiction
awards publication and US$500 to a previously unpublished work of fiction of 300 words or fewer. While there will be only one winner of the contest, all submitted pieces will be considered for publication. Entries close 1 September.

McSweeney’s Quarterly
publishes fiction and non-fiction and there are no genre restrictions (refer to the magazine to get a sense of the type of work they are interested in publishing). McSweeney’s are keen to discover and nurture new and developing writers, but writers should be aware that the response time can be fairly lengthy. Submissions reopen 1 September. Continue Reading…

3 Writing Tips from George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin’s mind-bogglingly successful A Song of Ice and Fire series, was first published on this day in 1996. Martin is frequently asked for advice by aspiring writers hoping to emulate his success; on his website he shares the following writing tips.

1. Read

The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, erotica, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones — what not to do). Continue Reading…

This short example from Gary Provost demonstrates what happens when a writer experiments with sentences of different lengths, as quoted in Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark.

This Sentence Has Five Words – Gary Provost Continue Reading…

A Cautionary Note for Pantsers

In this guest post author and journalist CG Blake reflects on his ‘pantser’ approach to writing
Pantser: A NaNoWriMo term that means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.
(source: Urban Dictionary)

Author Lisa Cron wrote a thoughtful piece over on Writer Unboxed on January 10, 2013, that got me thinking. If you haven’t read Lisa’s work, I highly recommend her latest book Wired for Story, a guide to how writers can use storytelling techniques to trigger the brain’s natural ability to read stories.

Cron’s post on Writer Unboxed focused on the technique, advocated by Anne Lamott in her famous “Shitty First Drafts” chapter in the classic work Bird by Bird, to “let it all pour out” when writing a first draft. Cron posits that Lamott’s point has been widely misinterpreted. Lamott was not suggesting writers dive into a first draft with no thought or regard for the story they are trying to tell. Having said that, Cron proceeded to discuss why the “let it all pour out” approach does not serve the writer well.

Continue Reading…