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A Writing Prompt: Choices

architecture, blur, buildings


The Purpose

This prompt has one purpose and one purpose only: it’s going to inspire you to write something that’s a little creepy and full of tension. It’s great to have scenes such as the one this prompt will inspire in your locker. Tension is never to be frowned upon. It exists in every book. The genre dictates how, when, and why.

In this prompt, think horror.


The Prompt

Two streets. One lit by streetlights; the other in complete black. You can only choose one.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you in short story inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length novels. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

Writing A Novel: The One Page Plan Of Storytelling

Man Wearing Black and White Stripe Shirt Looking at White Printer Papers on the Wall

Writing a novel is like frying an egg.

You’re going to curse incessantly, get sweats from the heat, and create a whole lot of mess before you ever get it right.


The Concept Of Planning

There are many resources online that go into great detail about how you should plan your novel. Some say you should sit for three hundred days, mapping out every single detail of every single scene in so much depth that you might as well be writing the actual novel. Whereas others recommend going through each scene in a lighter format, covering only the key parts.

Us, on the other hand, recommend neither. At least not in the first instance.

To us, planning needn’t be complex or stress-inducing. There’s plenty enough of that when you’re actually writing. Planning is that magical phase in which you feel the butterflies whirling their way around your spinal column. The moment you lose that magic is the moment the stress begins. And stress should never come into the equation. Not this early, at least.


What’s The Alternative?

There are many ways to plan your book, and we’re not for one second saying that there’s a right or wrong way to go about it. What we do hope to do though, is give you something to think about. Because who knows, maybe minimalism is what your planning process has been missing all this time.

We believe in both long and short types of planning. In fact, we’d advise you to do both. The difference with us is that our preferred methods of short planning are incredibly short. One A4 sheet of paper is enough.

Now… we know what you’re thinking. You can’t possibly plan out a story on one single sheet of A4. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. It can in fact be done, and it will definitely cause you way less stress in the long run. You just need to know how to best go about it.


The Meat Of The Story

When planning in short form, the purpose of the process is to plan out nothing but the absolute necessities. Our recommended A4 style holds one purpose and one purpose only: to tell yourself the crucial parts of your story.

At the top of the page, you’re going to write the genre and subgenre of the story you’re going to write. If you don’t know those things, that’s the first thing you need to figure out. Once you’ve done that, you’re going to want to know the conventions of that genre, and most importantly, the must-have scenes.

For example: the must have scene in a horror story is the victim at the mercy of the monster scene. To learn more about genre conventions and must-have scenes, spend an hour on Google. It’s a magical place.


Executing Your Plan

You’re going to need to plan out the three sections of your novel (beginning, middle, and end) based on three different things. Each section has a scene that must take place (these vary for each genre. We’ll outline crime in our example to give you an idea).

Those must-haves are the first thing you’re going to put in each section, and they’re going to fall right in the middle of their respective box. The order the things go into the boxes is the order in which they’ll take place within the novel. So, if you want your book to start out with your protagonist in a gas station bathroom, staring at their naked self in the mirror (you should totally steal that, by the way), that goes in first.

Below is an example for a crime novel (we’ve included the must-haves and their respective names for each structural section in bold):


The protagonist is in a gas station bathroom in an induced state, staring at a blurred image of himself in the dirty mirror. The next day, he’s at his headquarters. Call comes in for new case. INCITING INCIDENT: He attends the scene. A female body is found – bloodied and bruised in the back of an abandoned truck. They identify the victim. The body is taken away for further testing. They canvass the scene, locate potential witnesses, and get down to the interviewing process.


The protagonist and his partner are left with the task of letting the victims single mother know that her daughter has been found dead. They suspect that it’s murder. Later that day, the protagonist is back at home when he sees a newsflash pop up about a second body. RED HERRING/NEAR MISS: They are pointed towards the killer from prints that were found on a note left with the second victim’s body. When they reach his apartment, it turns out that he’s victim number two’s boyfriend. He is also dead. There is a note there from the killer – he was just there and now he’s gone. Talk begins of a serial killer and the city’s people are on high alert. The protagonist and his partner spend the majority of their days being harassed by the media.


They eventually catch a break. They receive CCTV footage from an anonymous source who claims they tailed the killer from the boyfriend’s place. They now have an address. Search warrants are signed and off they go. HERO AT THE MERCY OF THE VILLAIN SCENE: When they arrive at the property and break in, it appears as though no one is home. But then a gunshot slices the silence. The protagonist is hit. The killer emerges from the shadows, letting everyone know that he sent the footage and led them right into his trap. The final showdown commences.


See where we were going with that? Don’t pay attention to the plot itself – that was completely made up on the spot – but pay close attention to the structure of that brief plan. The bold parts, as we said, are to do with the must have scenes and their respective place in the narrative’s structure. These are different for each genre, and that’s why you must learn them – they’re crucial in creating an effective plan.


Enjoy!

We hope you find this strategy and the information within highly useful. We love creating and distributing these articles because they’re a great way to help writers with all of the intricacies of writing a novel – because yes, there are many.

Think of this particular method as you telling yourself the story first, before you even consider expanding it. This way, it’s clear in your mind and ready to be built upon. From this outline, you can craft more in-depth, scene-by-scene stuff in a much more effective way. That’s because you have a clear understanding of the meat of the story. That’s the important part.

If you understand the story from a professional standpoint (which is what this method will allow you to achieve), you’re going to be able to write it in a professional way. And in doing so, you’ll come out with some very satisfied readers.

A Poetry Prompt: Cold

Blue Rose


The Purpose

Poetry is a great resource – even if you are reading this as someone who writes novels. How? Because they teach you the art of well-refined and to-the-point prose. If you can learn rhythm, you can learn writing.

For this prompt, we want you to focus on creating rhythm. Try to form a consistent pattern within the syllables, giving each line its own freedom to roll off the tongue.


The Prompt

Scenery/Vibe: A field. It’s wet and raining. But at the other side, you can see a sunny meadow. That shines brighter and brighter with every step you take. It’s right there, calling for you.

Poem’s Message: That even when it’s cold and dreary, the sunlight will prevail.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you and give inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length poetry collections. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

A Writing Prompt: Salvation

Monster Illustration


The Purpose

For today’s prompt, we want you to focus on creating great tension and the importance of world-building. It’s because of this that we’re choosing to set this one up from an alternate earth standpoint. The protagonist has woken up and encountered some weird and terrible things.

He just wants to go back to sleep and wake up on the normal version of his planet – that’s where the tension aspect of it comes in. As you know, writers rarely give the characters what they want. That usually happens at the end.

And guess what, our wonderful writing friends, this is only the beginning…


The Prompt

Why had everything been so black

He couldn’t remember much, only that he’d woken up in this strange place that looked like earth but was far from it. All he knew for sure was that he was glad those things had gone away. Sure, they may have dragged his wife away with them, but he’d deal with that loss later. Right now, he was simply glad they were gone.

There was a soft growling sound in his left ear.

Or at least he had been…


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you in short story inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length novels. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

Writing A Novel: How To Use Facebook To Build Your Author Brand

facebook, internet, login

Writing a novel is like fighting a lion.

Only… you have no weapon or armor, you only have one arm and one leg, and you’re actually fighting ten of them. Yeah. We think that pretty much sums it up…


Branding vs Marketing


It’s important that you learn the difference.

Marketing (at least in our eyes) is all about telling. It’s about telling people about your book; telling people how good it is; telling people that they should absolutely buy it – right now. Marketing is you going out of your way to spread as much awareness as possible.

So what is branding? How is it different?

Well, in many ways… but the key difference is the way it plays out. When you build a great brand, you don’t have to tell people that your product or service is great – they’ll tell you. When you build a great brand, you let that do all the talking.

Think of it like showing vs telling in writing. Marketing is telling; branding is showing. But still, just like in writing, both have their time and place. It’s just that in most cases, you should dedicate your time to building a brand.


And Not Just Any Brand


A genuine brand.

The number one reason most people aren’t cashing in on social media is because they think they need to become or act like something or someone else. That’s just not the case. And you should never employ this sort of strategy on Facebook, either.

It’s about being you.

Don’t overthink your content in terms of what you’re pushing out for the world. That’s the first thing you need to wrap your head around. There’s only one golden rule when it comes to content, and that’s don’t be a link-spammer. No one wants to see book link after book link.

Ninety percent of your content shouldn’t contain a single link or call to action. What you should focus on instead, are the people who are consuming the content. Is it good for them? Does it serve a purpose for them? Is it entertaining? Informative? Insightful? These are the things you must think about in terms of content.

Content is the way to win on Facebook. So the two things to remember about content are: be genuine, and don’t be a link-spammer. If you remember those two things, you’re off to a great start.


And Speaking Of Starts…


We understand that Facebook is about the hardest place to build a following – especially if you’re building (as most of you are) from the ground up. Instagram and Twitter are easier to break into because of hashtags and the community diving aspects. That much is true.

But…

You should never count Facebook out. In fact, in authorship, it’s a fundamental part of your success. That’s all because of the sharing feature. All it takes is one post – just one of your many daily posts (and there will be many each day!) – to gain a little traction and get shared around.

From there, you’re off to the races.


Using Facebook Ads


The best thing about Faceboook ads is that right now, they’re hugely underpriced.

You can reach thousands of specifically targeted people for just ten to twenty bucks, and because of this, we would advise running one to two ads per week. And if you have the ability to own a device that lets you read this post right now, you can spare twenty to forty bucks per week. If you can’t, stop buying expensive coffee on the way to work and make your own at home – problem solved!

We know what you’re thinking right now. You can’t wait to run lots of ads and get your book all over Facebook for the world to see, right? Wrong. You’re not going to link-spam in your ads either. Why? Because link-spamming is never a great tactic. You might get away with advertising your link once in every ten ads, but for the other nine, you’re going to focus on running ads based on your content.

You’re going to directly advertise your content to the people who are interested in writing and the types of books you write. The number one rule in selling something to someone is that first, you must have their attention. Giving them a link (something they see every single day in Facebook and other social media ads) probably won’t achieve that. So instead, you’re going to give them a slice of you.

When advertising your content, you’re promoting yourself. That’s the key thing here. You’re the writer; you’re the brand. And if people can relate to, gain knowledge or entertainment from, or just generally enjoy you as a person, they’re going to feel way more compelled to purchase your work.


It’s About Your Intentions


If you act like a link-spamming robot, that’s exactly what people will see you as. They’ll think you’re just another writer who tried their hand at this because they’re hungry for some extra cash.

People don’t want that.

They want to purchase books from people who are passionate about what they do; who love the process of creation and are devoted to it entirely. People want to read books that are written from the heart and soul. And if all you do is spam, that is the last message you’ll push out.

You need to make sure that the passion you have for this journey comes across in your content. The only true way to do that is to make posts that are true to you and every aspect of the process. Don’t ever feel as though you have to put on a front. Just be real about your life and everything that transpires.

And most of all, don’t be a link-spammer!

Because sure, running ads and writing posts that contain links may sell you a few books over a short-term period, but building genuine connections and a loyal following will sell you a lot of books for life.

Writing A Novel: Do It For You

backpack, blonde hair, blur

Writing a novel is like learning how to fly a plane. Only, there’s no one there to teach you, you have no fuel or wings, and the plane is actually made of paper. Yep, we think that about sums it up.


The Journey


Writing is a personal journey.

It’s a journey that begins in your heart and soul, takes a tour around a once-blank page, and comes full circle to rest once again in your heart and soul. It’s a journey that’s full of love and light and sadness and hardship – that much is true. But it’s important that you own those things, for they will help you grow.

No one ever became a great writer through neglect. You can’t just pick and choose when to write; you can’t move through the process based on motivation or inspiration. Nope. Working in that sort of style is the fastest way to a short-lived career.

What you must do instead is become one with the journey.

When you learn to love every aspect of the process – the good and the bad – you open yourself up to a world of greater achievement. If you can love what you do so much that you love it even on the bad days, you’ll learn that there is actually no such thing.

There are no bad days. Only days in which to build and grow.


Find Your Why


For most of you, writing is both a blessing and a curse. It’s something that you must do – even when you don’t feel like it. It’s something that you can’t ignore or forget about, even when some of the time you really wish you could. It’s both beautiful and ugly. It’s light and dark.

But what we want, is for you to find your why.

Why is it that you cannot ignore this craft? Why is it that no matter how hard it gets, you simply cannot allow yourself to fold and crumble? Why is it that even when there are so many less stressful ways in which to spend your free time, you still wish to involve yourself in such treacherous self-torture?

The answer, we feel, is cowering in the depths of your heart.


You Must Write To Free That


With every word that leaves your brain, you’re one step closer to ultimate freedom. Words – and all their untarnished, unimaginable power – are the most effective way to channel the pain and suffering that your heart has endured. That is your why. That is what you must use writing for: to free yourself from this underlying pain.

It is through your words that you will best channel this. That is why we implore you to write for yourself.

Sure, you could write for the reader or for the agent or for the editors at publishing houses… but if you chose to do so, your writing wouldn’t carry with it the truth and purpose that it would if it was written for you.

When you set out to write for anyone other than yourself, you leave out all the best bits. You forget to imprint your heart on the page. You forget to breathe your breath into the chapters. You forget to paint your life in every word of every sentence. You forget what writing is all about.

And that, in this game, is the ultimate loss.


Forget The External


You need to stop thinking about the numbers and statistics and rejections. It’s all that stuff that’s poisoning you; that’s ruining your chances of discovering the fulfillment you deserve.

Please… we implore you to just try.

Try to forget about the physical journey, and in doing so, become one with your true purpose. Leave the thoughts of publishing and marketing and book sales to the professionals and instead, focus on the words, where they come from, and what they mean to you and your heart and soul.

For it is there, our beautiful writers, where true success is found.

A Poetry Prompt: Desire

Person's Right Hand


The Prompt

With today’s prompt, we want you to focus on the rhythm of your words. We want you to feel each line as it leaves your fingertips. It’s important that the rhythm and flow of your poetry matches the power of the message it spreads.

Scenery/Vibe: The middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s dark. You’re alone. And you just want to reach shore; to see light; to feel something.

Poem’s Message: That when darkness swarms, people will go to great lengths to reach safety and warmth.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you and give inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length poetry collections. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

A Writing Prompt: Blind Love

Lighted Candle


The Prompt


It’s not often you do this, but there’s something about the way the darkness swarms you that makes you pause. At one point, you would’ve walked by, leaving the innocent couple to their devices.

That is a thing of the past. Today is different.

Today you feel like meddling.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you in short story inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length novels. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

Writing A Novel: Choosing Your Protagonist

alphabet, close-up, communication

Writing a novel is hard. It’s like trying to decide whether the chicken or the egg came first, while at the same time, cooking chicken in a freezer and frying eggs with a naked flame in the Alaskan snow.

Writing a novel is hard.

And that’s why we’re here to help.


Your Main Character Matters


Above anything else, they matter to you.

They are the entire reason you’re setting out to write this story. Without your main character, where do you go? What do you write about? Who do you place emphasis on and have all the bad stuff happen to? Whose thoughts do you let the reader in on? How on earth do you write a book without them?

The facts are simple. Whether you write with one protagonist, or multiple protagonists, they are one of the most important parts of your tale. That’s why your main character matters to you.

Following that realisation, your follow-up question should always be one of simplicity.


Why Do They Matter To The Reader?


If you can’t answer this within ten seconds, you need to rethink (or at least reprogram) your protagonist. That’s because this is of vital importance. If your reader can’t invest, and fully believe in, your main character, what’s the point in them reading the story? If they aren’t invested in the one thing (or things) that the entire story is centred around, what’s the point in them spending time there?

NEWSFLASH: THERE IS NONE.

This is the first thing you need to address as a writer.

When choosing your main character, you must think about them in two different ways. First you consider why they matter to you, then you consider why they matter to the reader. Once you’ve discovered these two things, you’re ready to move on with the real meat and potatoes of character development.


The What, The Why, And The Secondary What


This is how you should think about your protagonist in relation to your story, genre, and conventions. If your narrative doesn’t answer these questions (unless it’s an intentional anti-plot) it won’t work.

The What

The what is the first thing you must establish. What does your main character want? What, out of everything in life, do they wish to get their hands on? This is their first what. This is what the entire story is built upon.

It can be broken down further into two more detailed whats: the internal and external objects of desire.

You must establish the external wants of your character (the physical things that they want/must overcome), and the internal needs of their heart and soul (the inner emotional battles that they must deal with; the deepest desires of their heart).

The Who

The who is the most fun part. Who is standing in your character’s way? AKA, who is your novel’s antagonist? This is something you must place a lot of focus on. If done wrong, it could ruin your entire story – no matter how good the rest of it is.

Without a great antagonist, there’s no real conflict for your main character to overcome. They’d be free to roam and go about their day as usual, making the establishment of any wants and needs wholly futile.

Every great protagonist has an equally great antagonist.

The Secondary What

Now, this is where things start getting a little tougher to keep up with.

We’ve already established that you must first present the main character’s want, and then the person standing in the way of that want, but the secondary what goes a little bit deeper. This is all about the antagonist’s actions. What is stopping your main character from getting the thing they want?

If your protagonist is a lawyer who wants to get a client off the hook, and your antagonist is a fellow employee at the same firm, the secondary what would be that your antagonist always does their best to take the case away from the antagonist. This is the thing that stops them reaching their want.

That’s a lame example – and please, never use that as a story idea – but we thought we’d keep things simple so it didn’t cause confusion when following along.


Now Your Main Character Matters


Once you establish these things, your protagonist takes shape in a much better way. Your reader will thank you for constructing them in this sort of way, and they’ll be able to fully invest in their journey and their life.

That’s the most crucial thing.

Even if your plot is set up as the greatest plot ever written… if your main character’s involvement in the plot is not attractive from the reader’s perspective, they won’t continue to read. Really think about this when you’re planning out your book.

Create a protagonist that readers want to read about, and reap the rewards of that effort in your ratings and reviews. If you go about this with anything less than one hundred percent effort, it’ll show in your writing. Don’t settle for that. Go all in.

 

Writing A Novel: Discovering Your Writing Voice

adult, anger, angry

Would it baffle you if we said that voice is just as important in writing as it is in singing? Well, it shouldn’t.

Of course, with writing, we mean voice in a different way. When singing, it’s your physical voice that matters. But in writing, it’s the written voice – the tone your writing takes in the readers mind when they consume your work.

In writing, your voice is your not-so-secret secret weapon. It’s the thing that will land you positive reviews and feedback, and will have people reading your work day after day. If you ever left a permanent mark on the heart of a reader, forever etching your book into the walls and sinews, chances are, it was your voice that did that.


What Is Your Written Voice?


Let’s lay a little context here.

Your written voice is the heart and soul of your writing. It’s the thing that stays with readers long after they close your book for good – and that goes for both the good and the bad. Your voice is what makes your writing yours; what makes it stand out in the wide world of fiction. It’s managing to tell a story in a way that only you can tell it.

Metaphors and inspiring sentences aside, your voice is the way that you write. It’s the words you use, the punctuation you include, the way you structure your sentences, the flow and length of your dialogue – to put it simply, anything that’s to do with how you tell the story fits under the bracket of voice.


How Do You Find Yours?


Well, we hate to break it to you… but there’s no set-in-stone way to discover your voice. It’s something that happens over many years of dedication to the craft. That’s why patience and discipline are such important traits. If you want to be a great writer, those are the two things you need to teach yourself.

If you dedicated yourself to writing at least one thing each and every day for the next five years, your voice would develop to a point you’d never see coming. The only way you’re going to uncover your best writing is if you spend enough time getting the bad stuff out first.

No one ever picked up a pen and wrote a bestseller without putting in the years. Most successful debuts aren’t a writer’s first novel. They may be their first published novel, but never the first they ever tried to write.

Developing your voice takes time. Dedicate yourself to putting in the hours.


There Is Something You Can Do, Though


We love editing for many reasons. The first is that it’s who we are and what we do – editing is our purpose on this earth. The second reason, though, is that the rewriting phase is a great time to hone your voice.

Here’s a practical tip. You know those sections of your book that you genuinely like? The sections you wish the rest of the book was more like? Well, those sections (in most cases) are examples of your writing style (voice) at it’s strongest. It’s these sections that reflect the finest examples of your uniqueness and writing ability.

Study these sections. Work out what it is that makes them stand out from the rest of your work. Is it the word choice? The sentence structure? The way you introduce something? The transitions between short and fast pacing? The blend of long and short sentences? The way the characters interact with each other and their surroundings? What is it about those scenes that makes you love them so much?

Once you’ve established that, work hard to apply it to the rest of your book (in a way that relates specifically to each scene’s purpose – AKA, don’t repeat yourself). When doing this, you’ll start to notice the patterns. You’ll learn how you write best.

And then, when it comes time to write your next first draft, these notable points will be fresh in your mind, allowing you to refine your voice from the very first page.


Find Your Voice


You must dedicate yourself to your writing. Dedicate yourself to it as if you know nothing else. If you create the time to explore your writing on a daily basis (even if it’s only a quick hundred words) you give yourself a much better chance of creating the success and career that you dream of.

No one ever burst into the writing world overnight. You have to put in the effort in order to find your voice and best your ability. Talent is nice, but development through grit and determination will get you way further.

So put in the work, dedicate yourself, and start putting the pieces into place. You can wish you had a stronger voice, or you can get out there and pursue one. And guess what? Only one of those practices will actually get you there.

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