Tag Archives: Writing

#Meanwhile… Strong Writing Made Easier

Starting today, I’m going to be devoting Fridays to fellow bloggers I discover on these here internetz. You may not believe it, but sometimes other people have already said it better than me – yup. I know.

So, strap yourselves in, you writerly, readerly bastards, for here’s the first instalment of my #Meanwhile series…

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Writer progress: I am no longer a slush puppy!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been sending short stories out to magazines this year, in the hope of building up a portfolio of credits, not to mention to validate my assertion that “I am a writer”.

You may remember my frustration at receiving so many rejections. But what are rejections, if not slightly painful stabs of encouragement? Rejections are just psychologically damaging bullets of motivation, right? Sure, they hurt, but they drive you to improve.

This is shit – try harder.

Stop sending trash – learn to write.

What the fuck is this? – Go back to school.

REJECTIONS ARE GREAT, SEE?

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The final Act, and the temptation to flee

Writing is like a salsa; for as many steps forward you make, there are as many back, but every once in a while you get to do a spin or a flourish, and those stay with you. They’re the good bits.So it is with me; I bear good news, with bad news, but my catalogue of narrative pirouettes thankfully continues to grow.

The good news? I’ve reached the final act of my novel, Citadel. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, a lot of forward motion, but with almost as much backtracking. Aside from a manuscript of around 105,000 words, I have documents of cut scenes and entire plot lines that amount to 80,000 words. That is a staggering amount of editing. And it sounds like a colossal waste of time, right? Still: FINAL ACT people. That is good news.

The bad news is I’m finding it difficult to wrap it up. I’ve escalated the peril to such a degree, all seems lost, as it should by the end of Act 4. But closing it out and reaching a neat conclusion is proving a challenge.

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This is a writing blog, this is a writing blog, this is a writing blog…

It’s been more than a month since I last posted anything on this blog, and that’s because I’ve been too angry to adequately form a response to my compatriots’ collective decision to leave the European Union. I’ve been making my thoughts perfectly clear on Twitter, so I’ll leave it at that. I just can’t…

So! In an effort to break this writer’s block down and rebuild, I’m going to avoid politics, socio-political grievances and the surge of rampant racism, and JUST TALK ABOUT ME.

That may sound self-absorbed – and it is. But honestly, I’ve written a few articles I could have posted, but didn’t because they’d all descended into total despair at the world. I mean look at us: from the shootings in the States, to mass murder in France, Germany and Japan, bombings in Syria, Somalia and Iraq, political “cleansing” in Turkey – for fuck’s sake, we’re putting dystopian writers out of work.

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Dialogue tags, action beats and punctuation – a quick guide

Among the most debated topics in the writing community – aside from the Oxford comma, of course – is the humble dialogue tag. I’m not going to say which method I prefer, because I like a mixture. But I am going to show you how to punctuate them properly – I’m a sub-editor by trade, after all.

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Rejections are my hubris-humbling chums – but that’s enough now

I must have read it a thousand times: “You’re a writer if you write.”

For the most part, it’s true, if a little self-serving. Yes, we writers belong to a little club, whose only membership requirement is that you jot your vacuous thoughts down in word form. But there’s something missing, isn’t there? The other half of the writer’s symbiotic relationship.

A writer needs readers.

Suddenly the statement “You’re a writer if you write” seeks to obfuscate the fact you’ve failed to get published. Now there’s a worthy milestone.

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Fiction is hell

Fiction is hell.

Not one word will seep from my pitiful brain on to this accursed page. I don’t have a single idea worth the spirit-sapping monotony of 12pt Courier. My paragraphs are formatted to double-spaced lines, but you couldn’t tell – you’d need two lines.

Utter dejection.

It was all going so well. I’d read about creative writing; I even did a course.

Back then I was happy, naïve. Everything seemed sprinkled with potential; every real-life encounter manifested an event to be mastered; in every sunrise shone the promise of perfect prose.

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A man of few words – use facts to fix your fiction fatigue

I started a writing journal back in October to help me keep track of my productivity. Every time I sit down to write, I note the hour I start, the session’s duration, how many words I get down, the calculated new total, what chapter I’m on and any interesting notes therein.

This affords me a few boons: using the data, I’m able to figure out when I’m most productive, in order to concentrate on those sessions; but it also provides a neat motivational tool. Humans respond well to numerical targets and records, we’re interested in personal bests and incrementally pushing ourselves further and further, so being able to make a graph like this one can only be a good thing…

Word-count

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Social media screamers & automated steamers

Oh ye gods! What has my Twitter feed become?! How have I created this monster? It dribbles vacant prattle down my screen like the spilled brains of a long-dead marketing executive. Vacuous screams that echo over and over…

BE INTERESTED IN ME;

BE INTERESTED IN ME;

BE INTERESTED IN ME…

Yes, it’s the Automated Twitter Author, saturating the internet with their soulless sales strategy.

Well, I’m not interested, frankly. You go ahead and try to accrue an audience with this zombie-marketing – but it’s not going to work, because you’re a dullard. You’re just a ticking automaton, one that I have the power to switch off and never be disturbed by again.

Here’s a round-up of why your social media presence is putting me off mankind.

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Followers, favourites & frantic defilement – weary writers on Twitter

I’ve been trying to build up my Twitter followers this week, in the hope that if I ever finish this book and get it out there, I’ll have a conveniently amassed audience to whom I can promote it.

That’s the idea, anyway.

I also just enjoy using Twitter. Interacting with fellow writers, sub-editors, journalists and professional piss-takers is a lot of fun. It’s all witty quips in brash brevity – a skill in itself.

Even on a purely psychological level, the favourites/retweets aspect is like gaining experience points in a weird social RPG. Each arbitrary milestone you reach for the number of followers you accrue feels like leveling up.

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