Secrets And Story

I was listening to a radio programme on my way home from work one evening. They were discussing code-breaking and the extraordinary achievements of the team working at Bletchley Park during WWII.

There were about 10,000 people working there and all were sworn to secrecy, with something like only 6 people in the world who knew the extent of the work at Bletchley Park in the war effort. This secrecy continued for decades after the war.

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Descriptive Writing – Layering your imagery

Dear Photograph - click to go to websiteI wanted to follow up from my post about a website called: Dear Photograph.

The photographs on the website conjure up some brilliant imagery of layering story.

The concept behind it is simple: take an old photograph of people you know and hold it up against the original backdrop where it was taken and photograph it so that past and present blend into one photograph.

The results are very poignant.  Continue reading

The revealing thing about stories

A story is not meant to be understood all at once, that’s what makes a good story so delicious … the slow, tantalising reveal. It’s what we crave as readers.

We start by being plonked into the middle of someone’s life – usually in a crisis situation – and spend the rest of the story finding out how they got there and what they did about it. The lip-smacking part at the end where we discover how their life resolves itself is what we’re aiming for.

But why does the story have the effect that it does on us? Continue reading

Writing Dialogue – he said, she said?

Do you use he said and she said when writing dialogue?

Or do you use some of the alternatives given in the diagram here?

I have my own opinion and that is there are some very valid alternatives given here but they should be used sparingly and only to enhance the speech. In my own way of writing I try to be as spare with any he said‘s and she said‘s as possible. I don’t want too many elaborate verbs to get in the way of my dialogue.

Let’s take an example using a couple of the suggestions given: Continue reading

Write what you know – debunking the myth

If you keep up with any writing advice on social media, or even in books about writing, you’re bound to have seen the advice, ‘Write what you know.’

It implies you should only write about stuff that you know about or have experienced.

Let’s get one thing straight – you already know a great deal. Not necessarily what it’s like to be an astronaut or a potholer but there are things you can tap into that will enable you to write about such things. Continue reading

Write small for a big effect

If I told you that six-thousand people died in an earthquake, how would you feel? Pretty shocked I’m sure.

Have you ever felt numbed to tragedies in the world because you can’t comprehend what is happening on the global scale? That’s the point where you turn the TV off because you feel overloaded with information. When it’s six-thousand people you have no idea what each person suffered.

Make it personal

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Hook your reader – why opening lines are important

How do you start your stories? Do you hook the reader from the opening lines or leave them wondering why they should read on?

If you’ve ever picked up a book in a shop or library (you do use libraries, right?) and started reading the first few lines and then bought – or borrowed – the book because you want to know what happens, you’ll have seen the secret already. The author has set a scene that leaves you wanting to know more.

You need to give the reader a mystery, or a question, or a situation that they want to know more about. They either want the answer to the question, to see how the mystery is solved, or to know why you put them in that particular situation in the first place.

Compare the following two phrases and see which one ‘pulls’ you into the story and makes you want to know more.  Continue reading

Entering Writing Competitions

competition ahead imageThere are hundreds of writing competitions out there, both in printed magazines and in online magazines.

There are also the literary competitions, such as The Bridport PrizeExeter Writers Short Story Competition, and the Fish Flash Fiction Competition. All have varying levels of prizes and some are free to enter. 

You may not have the confidence to enter the most prodigious competitions with the most sought-after prizes, but you can always try your hand at the smaller ones. You never know, you might just win some prize money and get your story published.

Why should I enter?

Because people will read your stories. Because you will get noticed – more than if you do nothing with your stories. Because you might win some prize money. And because being shortlisted or winning is a great confidence booster.

Try entering smaller competitions first and see how you get on. You can always enter larger ones with the bigger prize money as your confidence grows. Or just go straight for the top if you think you’re good enough.

How do I find these competitions?

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