Archives for writing tips

#FlashPIC 21 Two Empty Glasses #writingprompt #amwriting

Here’s a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series to help you start the day off well… before your mind is stressed with deadlines and ‘not working’, allow your thoughts to slow down. Let your imagination do the work and turn this into a flash fiction piece. 1 Study the photograph for 60 seconds then put it aside. 2 Write down every word or phrase which you can recall about it. These can include descriptions, feelings, dialogue, expectations, presumptions, colours, smells and noise. 3 Work out a beginning, middle and end for a short story. 4 Write 500-800 words. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Plastic Bag Stairs to who knows where Moon rocks 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,
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 19 The Meaning of Purple #writingprompt #amwriting

It is said that every person, at least once in their life, experiences a life-changing moment. An epiphany. Fight writers’ block with the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series; here is a FlashPIC writing prompt to kickstart a character study or flash fiction story. You choose the person’s gender, age, name, background, personality, the place, the time of day. Until today, your character has only been able to see in black and white. And then, he/she sees a flower, a glorious purple flower. A rhododendron. And he/she knows it is purple. Write a paragraph about each of the following, either first person or third:- The instant emotion when he/she realizes the flower is coloured; The secondary reaction, will it last, did I really see it? The character’s life before today; What he/she thinks the colour purple looks like – before and after; The significance of purple; What will my future be like? How will my mother/father/wife/closest relative/best friend react? And then look for conflict in the situation. Once you add conflict, it gets interesting. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Feet Cranes on the skyline Beach What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 18 Hotel Corridor #writingprompt #amwriting

Every hotel has two version of daily life: that of its guests, and its staff. This hotel corridor could be anywhere, it could be the first floor or the penthouse, in Edinburgh, Paris or Hong Kong. Here is a FlashPIC writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series to help you beat writers’ block today. This exercise examines how two different people can be in the same place, and see something entirely different. Write two personalities, who see this corridor for the first time. One is a hotel guest, the other a maid on her first day at work. What do they think when they get out of the lift and walk down this corridor? Do they actually meet and exchange conversation? Then something happens which brings the two together in a way they could never have forseen – comedy, tragedy, theft, explosion, accident, illness: you decide. Start small, and work up. First of all, write one paragraph sketching the character of each person. Next, put each character into their individual setting. Now, make the two meet. What happens next? © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Cranes on the skyline Arrivals board at Waterloo Station Train Window
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

Great Opening Paragraph 93… ‘Death in Summer’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“After the funeral the hiatus that tragedy brought takes a different form. The suddenness of the death has gone, irrelevant now. Thaddeus has stood and knelt in the church of St Nicholas, has heard his wife called good, the word he himself gave to a clergyman he has known all his life. People were present in the church who were strangers to him, who afterwards, in the house, introduced themselves as a few of Letitia’s friends from the time before he knew her. ‘And where is Letitia now?’ an undertaker a week ago inquired, confusing Thaddeus, who for a moment wondered if the man knew why he had been summoned. ‘It’s Letitia who has died,’ he said, and answered, when the man explained, that Letitia was in the mortuary, where she’d been taken.” ‘Death in Summer’ by William Trevor Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ by Carson McCullers  ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ by Clare Morrall  ‘The Crying of Lot 49’ by Thomas Pynchon  And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: DEATH IN SUMMER by William Trevor #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Vz
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

#FlashPIC 16 St James Park, polite notice #writingprompt #amwriting

When you live in a place, you cease to see things. We all become victims of subjective vision. Try looking around you, at your everyday scene, as if you were a stranger. Take an ordinary object and start writing. Here’s a FlashPIC writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. This is a sign from London’s St James Park, discouraging cyclists from leaving their bicycles. Try this scenario:- You are a student on holiday in London, this is your first visit; Choose a nationality, and decide how much English you can a) speak and b) read; You have your own bike and need to leave it unattended in the park, outside a park building for some reason [you decide what]; Do you ask for help? Ignore the sign? Walk away? Perhaps a passer-by stops to help? And what happens as a result of your actions? Are you arrested? Is your bike stolen? Write 500 words based on this photograph. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Beach Plastic bag Anonymous People 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,
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Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#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.