Archives for writing tips

#FlashPIC 14 Plastic Bag #writingprompt #amwriting

Here’s an everyday scene from any city. Use this FlashPIC writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series to kickstart a flash fiction story. Study this photograph. Describe the colour tones, the textures, the movement and the feeling of the breeze which is blowing the bag. Now use this situation either by putting yourself into the action, or by creating a storyline based on the photograph. Are you running after the bag, did it slip from your grasp and you must catch it, no matter what? What would it mean to you to lose the bag? Who are the people, the two dark shadows on left and right? While your eye is caught by the bag, are they closing in on you? Is their intention helpful, sinister, threatening? © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Feet Looking Over the Parapet Cranes on the Skyline What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 13 Train Window #writingprompt #amwriting

This is the view from a fast-moving train. Here is a FlashPIC writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters  series to inspire you today. Study this photograph. How does it make you feel? The blurring gives a strong sense of motion. Close your eyes and concentrate on how you feel, are your senses heightened, or does dizziness dominate? Describe how you feel in one paragraph. From that paragraph, pull out three key words, and write 1-2 sentences about each. Using the sensations you experienced, give them to a character caught on the edge of speed – standing on a motorway bridge, balancing on rocks beside a fast-flowing river, waiting at the kerb to cross the road as racing cyclists fly by. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Coffee Shop Death Valley Looking Over the Parapet What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 12 Moon Rocks #writingprompt #amwriting

As part of the Writers’ BLOCKbuster series, here is a picture to kickstart a flash fiction short story. Study this photograph. What does it look like: rocks on the moon? A work of art? A space in a community garden? Look a little closer… at the texture, the colours, the shapes. Is it daytime, or night? Is there sign of life… is that a cigarette butt I see? Describe the setting in 1-2 paragraphs. Next, put into it a character you have already created, someone you are familiar with, and see what happens. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Red sign ‘Pedestrians’ Go! Anonymous People Arrivals Board What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of fiction, any genre, novels, short stories, flash fiction, they
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Categories: Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 11 Red sign ‘Pedestrians’ Go! #writingprompt #amwriting

Red means warning. Use this writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbuster series to inspire you today, or to kickstart a flash fiction short story. Use one of these phrases in your first paragraph, using the photo for inspiration. Red light means Stop. Green light means Go. “I’m confused.” He knew it wasn’t the right sign, but there wasn’t another sign to use. So he did what he was told. “Not there, you wally. If you put the sign there, the people are all gonna walk over the ….” “Some joker’s left it there, haven’t they. That arrow points at the wall. That can’t be right… can it?’ John could see a red blur about a metre ahead and, erring on the side of caution, as always, he tapped the red thing with his cane. It sounded metallic. Not for the first time, he missed Petra. She felt her front wheel fall into nothingness, the pavement disappeared, and as her bike fell forwards, the red sign fell into the hole on top of her head. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Anonymous People Arrivals Board Belisha Beacon What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 10 Looking Over the Parapet #writingprompt #amwriting

Are you looking down, or is it your character? Why are you there? What do you plan to do next? What do you actually do next? Use this writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series to help you develop a character for your Work-in-Progress.   Examine the photo, and then use one of these phrases as the starting point for an exercise:- Down, down, so far down, she leant further forward, the edge of the stone parapet cutting into the spare flesh at her waist. We could put a glass roof over it, that would keep the rain out and let the sunshine in… but will Alexi say yes? I should never have come, he’ll see me. That’s his desk there, the second window from the right, if he looks out of the window he can’t miss me here. It felt like flying, it wasn’t quick at all, she expected it to be over in the minutest part of a second, but she was still here, floating, like a bubble blown from a child’s bubble wand. He crouched behind a wall, listening for the sound of marching boots. He was breathing so hard from running, he had to hold his
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 9 Nothing of Value Left Overnight #writingprompt #amwriting

Today’s writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbuster series is a sign in a shed, though it could easily be a sign in a van or truck, on an office door or the front window of a house. Imagine a situation featuring this sign and  use one of these prompts:- A shed, bought off eBay. What happens when you take it apart to transport it home? Jessica and Charlie took it in turns to smoke the cigarette, puff after puff, trying not to swallow the smoke so it wouldn’t be seen. This was their secret place, it was derelict, their den. ‘Nothing of value’? Isn’t the notion of value a relative thing: one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. Boot sales exist on that very notion. Home for mice, or rats… or a homeless man. Why is he there, where has he come from? Where does he eat and wash and… This is a joke sign my husband fixed to the window of his allotment shed. All there is of any value in there is beer. Cans and cans of it. Home-made. Tastes disgusting. Marnie painted the outside of the shed all over in Translucence, supposed to be a gentle white,
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

Writing tips: learn from the masters

Learn from the masters. Take an author you know and love, and aim to emulate. Analyse the way they write by de-constructing the plot and characters of a novel. I’ve done this with AS Byatt’s Possession and John Grisham’s The Firm. Patterns and techniques become evident. Apply what you learn to your own writing.   ‘The Firm’ by John Grisham [UK: Arrow] Buy now ‘Possession’ by AS Byatt [UK: Vintage] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Writers’ BLOCKbusters: learn from the masters http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1u0 #writingtips via @SandraDanby
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Categories: On Writing.

Writing tips: find what works for you, then write

Find your own way of writing creatively and get the words down. Write in a notebook, on the computer, on a tablet, in perfect quiet, to rock music, with noise-cancelling headphones. Train yourself to be able to write anywhere – on a train, in a coffee shop, in a library, at home, in a hotel – and you will write regularly. And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Writers’ BLOCKbusters: find what works for you, then write http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1tY #writingtips via @SandraDanby
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Categories: On Writing.

#FlashPIC 7 Cranes on the Skyline #writingprompt #amwriting

Giant cranes dominate the sky… like animals, alien vehicles, or as the scene of a power struggle or romance. As part of the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series, here is a FlashPIC writing prompt to help you write a short story, a brief flash fiction piece of only a few words, or something longer. You choose. Study the photo and allow it to inspire your writing, or use some of the following phrases:- Altitude Sky Down Vertigo Wobble Wind Balance Challenge Fear Space Freedom © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Orange railings Two empty glasses Death Valley What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of fiction, any genre, novels, short stories, flash fiction, they are suitable for all genre of fiction precisely because each exercise is
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

Writing tips: learn to recognize repetition as you write

Develop a second sense for repetition. Not just words, but favourite phrases. If you know you are guilty of over-using a phrase, use ‘find’ on Word and change every repetition to red. Then re-write it. And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Writers’ BLOCKbusters: learn to recognize repetition as you write http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1tU #writingtips via @SandraDanby
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Categories: On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens “There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” [excerpt from ‘Oliver Twist’] We have all read books like this. The ones you can’t remember why you bought them, the ones recommended to you by friends who read books you wouldn’t normally pick up, the ones bought in a rush at an airport or a train station, bought in that desperation of ‘any book is better than no book’, the fear that haunts book readers of being caught on a transatlantic flight without a book. This still applies today even with e-books I think, as they are even easier to buy. Just one click and they appear magically on our Kindles, a bundle bought in a weak moment from Amazon, the complete works of an author when you haven’t read even one book.   ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Beryl Bainbridge Peter Carey Joseph Conrad And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author Charles Dickens via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-11K
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl Bainbridge “I don’t know why everybody doesn’t write because everybody talks.” So says an author who reached the very top of her profession, but her quote is misleading. It implies everyone can write, and ignores the years she spent working on her craft, perfecting it. We can all admire the skill of a gymnast dance on the beam or a concert pianist play Rachmaninov, but we know we could not do it ourselves no matter how much we tried. Beryl Bainbridge was shortlisted five times for the Booker Prize but never won, until she was presented with a one-off award, the Man Booker Best of Beryl, created especially to honour her five shortlisted novels. They are:- 1973 The Dressmaker 1974 The Bottle Factory Outing 1996 An Awfully Big Adventure 1998 Every Man for Himself 2000 Master Georgie My favourite Bainbridge novel? The Birthday Boys, a fictional account of Captain Robert Scott’s 1910 expedition to Antarctica told from the perspectives of five men on the voyage: Scott; Petty Officer Taff Evans; ship’s medic Dr Edward Wilson; Lieutenant Henry Bowers; and Captain Lawrence Oates. To read The Guardian’s obituary of Dame Beryl Bainbridge in 2010, click here. Bainbridge was renowned for
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch in 1963 Creating a character is a fascinating process. I start with the exterior, a feature or expression, perhaps a habit or tic. Getting inside, working out what makes them tick, why they behave the way they do, is something I’ve got better at with practice. Murdoch said: “People have obsessions and fears and passions which they don’t admit to. I think every character is interesting and has extremes. It’s the novelist privilege to see how odd everyone is.” Absolutely. We are each a mystery to everyone except ourselves. Read the first paragraphs of A Severed Head, The Sea The Sea, and The Philosopher’s Pupil. Read here about the first edition of The Sea The Sea.   ‘A Severed Head’ by Iris Murdoch [UK: Vintage Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Jack Nicholson Madonna George Orwell And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author Iris Murdoch via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-AY
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie: “If you are to be Hercule Poirot, you must think of everything.” In other words, you’d better have thought of everything, every twist and turn, every character trait, every possible and impossible plot angle… or your readers will catch you out in unpredictability, spot your mistakes. And then there are the things that happen out of your control. So beware! Click here to read The Guardian’s article about bloopers in books… … and here to read how the UK edition of Jonathan Franzen’s Corrections had to be withdrawn from print because the wrong version was printed. Click here to read The Bookseller’s report on how Penguin had to pulp copies of Lolita because of a missing foreword.   ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ by Agatha Christie [UK: Harper] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- George Orwell Iris Murdoch John Updike And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author Agatha Christie via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-XE
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… William Golding

Sometimes I fear that I have missed my chance, that now in my fifties I am too old to be published. And then I remember William Golding who said: “It wasn’t until I was 37 that I grasped the great truth that you’ve got to write your own books and nobody else’s, and then everything followed from there.” I know that I am now better prepared to write novels – with experience of life, of love, of death, of freedom – than I ever was in my twenties. I want to write what I want to write about. Read the opening paragraph of Lord of the Flies. ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Agatha Christie Joseph Conrad Benedict Cumberbatch And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author William Golding via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-B2
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad said “Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off.” I write because I can’t not write. Since I could hold a pencil, I have written stories and I will die before I manage to write all the ideas in my head. Conrad knew this too. Read the opening paragraphs of The Secret Agent and Lord Jim.   ‘The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Gregory Peck Beryl Bainbridge Jonathan Franzen And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author Joseph Conrad via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-yn
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, reading… Virginia Woolf

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” Ah Virginia… and so she must.   ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Charles Dickens Peter Carey Beryl Bainbridge And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous people, reading… Virginia Woolf, possibly proofreading a manuscript via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-yq
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.