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  • Writing4 Success has helped writers achieve their dreams for over a decade. Read more about how to improve your technique and build your writing career.
  • The Busy Writer books have been designed to get authors up and running fast: Plotting, Characters, Checklists, Self-Editing, Romance, Writing for Kids, Crime and Mystery - they're all here!
  • Tipsheet.html
  • Plotting.html
  • If your book is suffering from the dreaded 'sagging middle' syndrome, it's likely that you either don't have a subplot or you haven't paid enough attention to your subplots.
  • You can read six books on plotting and come up with six different methods... and that's only a fraction of what's possible. The bottom line is, and always will be, DO WHAT WORKS.
  • All too often we pick up a published book and read the prologue, then wonder why it was there at all. It doesn't seem to do anything that Chapter One couldn't have done - or that couldn't have been worked in during the story itself.
  • What is episodic writing? How does it hurt your chances of publication? Find out how to avoid a lack of forward 'thrust' in your story and increase your chances of a YES from the editor.
  • Plotting can seem like an overwhelming task. Here are 3 quick tips that will help to get you started.
  • Why is it useful to regard a book as a series of scenes rather than a collection of chapters? How can you improve the pacing of your book by the way you handle scenes? These quick tips on scenes and structure could see a big improvement in the momentum of your story.
  • What's the best way to plot? The answer: whatever suits your personality. Work with your own natural instincts and the job will become easier.
  • Last year, I critiqued several scenes in one week for a writer. In two of them, she'd made life much too easy for her characters. It's time to share a few tips on how to make life a little more INconvenient for your story people! We'll look at four main areas of 'convenience'...
  • So - how are you going to attract a reader or commissioning editor to your book? With your story's exciting beginning, of course.
  • You see a lot of articles about writing, which will try to depress you with tales about 'writer's block', which is supposed to occur sometimes in the middle of a book. I believe it's usually more a case of needing a rest from the work in progress.
  • Part 3: Endings (from a how-to book by Sherry-Anne Jacobs, AKA Anna Jacobs) This is part 2 of a 3-part mini-series on beginnings, middles and ends by Sherry Anne. THINK ABOUT THIS! The beginning of a book sells that particular story.
  • If you're in contact with other writers, you already know that everyone has different methods of coming up with that essential outline. Some writers can work only in a very structured way, using headers, sub-headers, explanatory paragraphs and bullet points. Others can't conceptualise the plot or article unless they scribble ideas in clusters or bubbles, joining related ideas with connecting lines.
  • I admit that this might start to sound a bit like the developments in your favourite (or most-hated) soap opera - but remember: readers LOVE to be surprised! Your job is to tread the fine line between giving them a plot twist that they didn't see coming, and having them roll their eyes and groan because the twist is totally unbelievable. The best twists manage to come as a total surprise to your readers, while still being necessary to the plot. (Now THAT'S got to test your skills as an author!)
  • Story endings are hard to write -- often much harder than beginnings. Any author who wants to be published must understand how to write a book with a powerful ending. It's important to know two things: one, what will disappoint readers (and editors) and two, what works well.The following four 'duds' are amongst the biggest offenders in endings that will disappoint...
  • So, it's official. You're stuck. Maybe you can't come up with a decent story idea. Maybe you've no idea of where to take the plot. Or possibly you're just losing patience with an intractable character. Whatever it is, you feel as though you're spinning your wheels. What can you do? Welcome to the power of brainstorming.
  • Put simply: a turning point in a story is A POINT AT WHICH THINGS CHANGE. You should be able to find a turning point in most of your scenes: it's an indication that your story is moving forward. Any story is full of degrees of change, or small changes. However, you need to clearly understand your story's MAJOR turning points. These are the ones you want to play up.
  • What you have to decide, before you start to plot, is whether you have the time, patience and contacts to chase up all the information you need to make your story sound authentic. If you don't - opt for a simpler plot, and delve more deeply into characters and character development.
  • When you go to see a movie, you instantly know what characters look like; one glance at the screen lets you absorb dozens of small details. Obviously, writers have a much harder task...
  • A monologue is a long speech by one person. It can be dramatic, or it can bore the pants off listeners (or readers, if it's a character holding forth). The content has to be pretty dramatic for a monologue to work well.
  • Don't get bogged down in unnecessary description in your stories - it just sends readers to sleep! Here's how you can filter only what is necessary through the eyes of your characters, and keep the pace moving.
  • Interesting characters that readers care about are the most important 'ingredients' in your novel. Here are five tips on creating characters that both you and your readers will enjoy getting to know.
  • Often when we sit down at the keyboard we're on autopilot... and that's when we find cliched words and situations flowing from our brains to the keyboard. Stop. Think. Dig a little deeper... and you'll be able to present your characters in much more depth.
  • If you're having trouble with bringing your characters to life, run through these 8 handy tips on fleshing out your story people.
  • When you're writing a novel, what comes first - characters or plot? To create a page-turner, readers need to care about your characters - and character motivation is all-important.
  • Too many characters are forced into ridiculous situations by a careless author. Potentially good plots have been twisted completely out of shape - because the writer finds it easier to force characters to do dumb things than to sit down and come up with a stronger plot.
  • We all like to make our characters as three-dimensional as possible, so that the reader sees them as real people. We strive to show what they look like, how they feel, and how they react...
  • When you're looking out at the world through the eyes of the scene's viewpoint character, how do you show the reader what your character is like?
  • One thing that gives away an inexperienced writer is overuse of tags such as 'she noticed' or 'he saw'. WHY is this a problem? Because instead of allowing the reader to walk in sync with the character, and experience events through the character's thoughts, feelings and emotions, the writer is REPORTING what is happening.
  • What's the one thing that is most likely to make a reader discard a book without finishing it? An unlikeable character. This was brought home to me forcibly last week...
  • Let's make it clear from the start that I'm not saying that ALL your characters should be likeable. Of course not. We all need characters that we love to hate! But when it comes to the main character - think carefully before you present this person to your readers.
  • Eighty per cent of the time, our enjoyment of a novel is based on our involvement with a character that draws us into the story. In fact, characters are so important to the success of a novel that I am sometimes amazed by the lack of thought writers give to (a) character creation and (b) the way they introduce those characters.
  • "What does your character want?" It seems like a simple question - yet it is one that can cause untold problems for some writers. They fuss and fiddle about with all manner of MINOR things that the character wants, and totally miss the big one!
  • Beef up the description of the setting, characters, and actions by filtering it through your viewpoint character - what a difference!
  • Readers can learn a lot about a character not only by WHAT your characters wear, but HOW they wear it. You can also guide readers to make assumptions about your characters by the way they look after their clothes. Now let's talk about how to go about dressing your characters...
  • Is your character a "Mary Sue"? Until recently, when someone wrote to me about it, I had never come across this term before. What on earth, I wondered, was a "Mary Sue"? Naturally, I Googled it, and landed on the Wikipedia page where I discovered that this is actually a wonderfully useful term!
  • If your story doesn't seem to be working, it could be that you've chosen the wrong viewpoint character. Read through these common problems to see if they might apply to you... it could save your story!
  • Many writers don't really understand what it means to stay true to one character's viewpoint. They'll write a scene in which the point of view fluctuates wildly from one character to another. Some readers find this intensely annoying and toss the book aside. Others will merely have a sense that something isn't quite right, even though they can't specify why. Bottom line: if you slip out of viewpoint, you disturb your reader. Learn how you can prevent this...
  • Having trouble getting your characters talking to each other and sounding realistic? Here are a few tips to help out.
  • How to craft vivid, entertaining dialogue for your characters - leave your readers wanting to 'hear' more!
  • Are you sure that your readers know exactly who said what in your scenes of dialogue? Use these examples of what does and doesn't work to make sure your characters' conversations are always easy to follow.
  • Whole books have been written on how to write dialogue - but a quick scan of those on my shelves show that none of them specifically addresses the topic of how to get around the problem of two males or two females talking at length. What are the techniques involved?
  • Just what you needed: 7 handy tips to help you beef up your dialogue. If you're worried that your dialogue sounds bland, or that your characters all sound the same... or SOMETHING'S wrong but you don't know what! - then this might help you to get yourself out of a hole quickly.
  • If you're not sure how to punctuate your dilaogue properly, you can inadvertantly change the meaning of what is said. This basic guide will set you on the right path.
  • Tips and information on publishing a Kindle book. Many writers are finally realising their dreams now that they can take charge of their own future and publish a book on the Amazon Kindle platform.
  • An overview of the steps involved in writing, publishing and promoting a Kindle book.
  • Writing for children can be a joy and a challenge. Learn how to write books for kids.
  • Let's reach into the writer's toolbox for some of those character-building techniques used by the pros.
  • If you can write interesting, well-paced material for adults or children who are slow readers, you will have an ever-hungry market. Here are some simple guidelines.
  • In my novel 'Outback Ferals' (the ferals were the pigs, not the locals!) infection details were carefully researched with quarantine authorities. The implications of a pandemic threat were woven into the plot. My facts were right, but the story about Kyle the young undercover, eco- scientist sleuth was fiction. Why is my fiction prediction becoming nightly news?
  • You want your readers to make a big leap of faith, and believe what you have presented them, so they must have perfect confidence in everything else being just as it is in this real world. How can you achieve that...?
  • Every book for aspiring children's writers seems to include the line "don't illustrate your book unless you're a professional artist." But what if you are an experienced, talented artist as well as an aspiring children's writer?
  • Writers are storytellers. But not all storytellers are writers. Some storytellers find pleasure in following the oral tradition.Helen Evans takes part in an interesting Q&A to explain how she prepares and delivers her storytelling sessions.
  • Good verse for children rolls along with regular metrical beats falling on the syllables that would be accented in normal speech, together with correct rhymes, and a strong story emerging as plainly as if told in prose...
  • To achieve publication, it is essential that you understand how to edit and polish your work, and have a good understanding of style and technique.
  • When you're writing a 'fight' scene for your novel, it's essential to remember you're a writer, not a choreographer. To be a knockout with your readers, make sure you pack your fight scenes with EMOTIONAL punch.
  • Before you hit "CRTL+I" in your word processor and add yet more italics to your scene... stop and think. Do you really need them? What effect does the over-use of italics have on your reader?
  • It's all too easy to fall into the trap of using italics every time you want to show your character's thoughts... but stop and consider alternatives. Long or too-frequent blocks of italics can really, really annoy your reader!
  • Most writers use punctuation without a second thought: it's just part of the mechanics. Savvy writers know that it's worth experimenting with different ways of punctuating their work to help the reader see and 'hear' a scene exactly as they do.
  • You really know that you've tugged at a reader's heartstrings when you catch someone crying over your character's fate. But how do you achieve that? How do you make readers care so much that they end up in tears?
  • "If I'd had time," so the saying goes, "I'd have written a longer letter." Writers know only too well how difficult it can be to trim a story or article to meet a required word count. Or the reverse... to expand a story to suit an editor's needs. These 5 tips on "pruning" a story and 3 tips on adding words will help to make your task easier.
  • Are you being too kind to your characters - and putting your readers to sleep? Conflict is the engine of your story - make sure you have it revving in high gear.
  • You know how it is: you're reading, thoroughly absorbed in a novel, and suddenly... something jars. Ouch! The author has done something to break the story spell, and you're back in the real world. If you want to make sure you don't do the same thing to your readers, read on...
  • Are you guilty of continually making your characters meet in restaurants or over coffee - and describing each bite or swallow ad nauseum? Don't bore your readers... make every word (and description) count.
  • Your reader can interpret a piece of writing in many ways. By thinking carefully about your LAYOUT (white space, paragraph structure and sentence structure) you can influence the way the reader "sees" your scene.
  • If you can write a scene a day, you can finish a novel in a year. Easily. So why does it take many of us years to complete our first book? I propose there are four elements you can look for right now, today, that can help you write a better novel the first time or the twentieth time.
  • There's a very common error that gives away an inexperienced writer every time: the practice of starting too many sentences with a word ending in "ING". This leads to a secondary problem - monotonous sentence structure that soon has the reader's eyes glazing over.
  • Let's investigate the whole issue of 'distance' - particularly in regard to viewpoint slips, but with a nod to how you use your character's name, too.
  • It's very likely that at some stage, you've poured everything you have into writing an emotional scene - only to feel your heart sink when you read it through, because you realise that it simply isn't working. Why? What's the problem?
  • If you're searching for sure-fire ways to bore your readers here are six guaranteed methods. Use any three and wherever you are in the world, you're sure to be able to hear the "thump" as your book is thrown at the wall...
  • Beginnings are difficult. Beginnings, in fact, are probably the most re-written part of a manuscript. A lot of writers plunge into a novel knowing perfectly well that they'll come back and rewrite their first chapter when they've finished their novel. Why do they do this?
  • We've all been there. We've read a book engages us all the way through... until we get to the end. Unbelievably, the author has let us down. Let's examine 10 causes of 'reader deflation' at the end of a book...
  • "Info-dumping" is one of those things that can really get up a reader's nose! You know the kind of thing: one minute you're happily getting immersed in a story - the next you're rudely reminded that you're 'just reading' because the author has gone into lecture mode about something.
  • When I read a first chapter, I'm hoping to become involved from the very first sentence, or at least by the end of the first page. Sometimes that does happen; particularly when the writer is entering a competition designed for that purpose! All too often, though, the writer fails to involve me. Here are some problems I have noticed.
  • Cast your mind back to those early schoolroom lessons in writing. The basic advice was probably this: "Every piece of writing has a beginning, middle, and an end." Your job as a writer is to let readers know what is going on in the beginning, to fill in all the details in the middle, and then wrap it up satisfactorily at the end. It's a simple plan - and effective. Unfortunately, many writers seem to lose the plot (literally!) once they start to write.
  • Here's a tip: when you're editing your book, spend some time going through it simply imagining what the reader will be 'seeing' for each scene you write. You might find that doing this for even half a dozen scenes will give you a whole new way of looking at your book. You may realise, with a sense of shock, that your character is doing entirely too much thinking and not enough acting.
  • The first page is arguably the most important in the mss. If the editor isn't impressed he won't read on. Your opening page, half page, or better still, opening paragraph must hook him. The last page is less important as publication doesn't depend on it, but it must provide the reader with a sense of completion...
  • If you don't truly understand the relevance of your setting, then you're not going to do it justice in your book. And if the READER can't see the relevance of what you've written, they're not going to spend time on it. (That breeze you can feel has been created by the reader flipping through the pages to find something more interesting to read.) Relevance means that the setting is so integral to your story that it can't be extracted without affecting the whole flow and meaning of the story.
  • Here are six quick tips on technique. You'll find that they barely scratch the surface - they're more 'flags' to tell you what you need to look for. Every one of them should lead you to hundreds of articles telling you exactly how to achieve the effect you want in your work in progress. When you check your work against the list below, be honest about the need to brush up on any areas of weakness.
  • Why is it that some authors manage to have readers laughing out loud, while others couldn't write humour if their lives depended on it? Why is humour so hard to pull off? Just how do you make people laugh?
  • In THE AFFAIR, Jack Reacher's inflicting gravel rash upon himself helped his character solve a crime - but it also showed writers how to write a believable scene.
  • From years of being a reader yourself, you should already have a good sense of what prevents total immersion in a story. Here is a list of the most common mistakes writers make...
  • Is there any validity in a list of words that should be avoided? And if so, what ARE those words? Short answer: No word is 'bad' in itself. Long answer: some words can make your work seem pedantic, overwritten, or add 'distance' between the reader and the story.
  • "Author intrusion" is what happens when the writer accidentally breaks the "story spell" for the reader, by reminding them that they are reading. Usually it happens because the author feels a strong need to pass along some extra information - and doesn't think twice about butting into the narrative to do so.
  • Fact: readers are put to sleep if your writing begins to 'drone'. Vary your sentence beginnings, your sentence length and your sentence structure - and watch your writing style take a quantum leap!
  • It's so easy to see mistakes when they're pointed out to you - but it's essential to train YOURSELF to recognize problems. Use this list of common writing mistakes as a guide - and turn those rejections into acceptances.
  • We all want to make our writing as bullet-proof as possible - but how much editing is enough? And how do you know when your writing is ready to send away?
  • The question in most writers' minds is this: "What will prompt the editor to vote 'yes' rather than 'no'? What is she looking for? Is there anything I can do to improve my chances?"
  • Cut the clutter in your writing and you'll be rewarded with better pacing, a cleaner style and much happier readers. (You could also be rewarded with the best prize of all - a 'yes' from an editor!)
  • Unless you are working to a set of guidelines issued by the publisher, stop fretting about chapter length and start thinking in terms of scenes. You plan each scene to move the story forward (like scenes in a movie).
  • Far too many writers spend hours polishing that first chapter, then fail to give the same attention to the other chapters in the book! This results in the 'perfect first chapter' syndrome. The book boasts ONE perfect chapter... but the rest are (mostly) mediocre.
  • What do you do if you read through your final draft, and realises that your story needs a bit more flesh on its bones? How can you make sure that you add substance, rather than just padding? How DO you flesh out a story?
  • When you finish your novel, resist the impulse to simply bundle the thing up and send it away with a kiss and a prayer. You should check your novel from several different angles: first, the obvious things like spelling, typographical errors and grammar, then the not-so-obvious things like characterisation, motivation, style, transitions and flashbacks.
  • At one time or another, you're bound to read through something you've written and realise with a dreadful sinking feeling that it Just Doesn't Work. The temptation is to ignore this knowledge and pretend it isn't so. Understandable enough. No-one wants to admit that months (or years) of hard work has just gone down the drain.
  • Helpful tips on writing fiction: novels and short stories.
  • If you remember eagerly uncapping your pen at school to write about 'What I Did in the Holidays' or 'My Big Adventure', then you probably had no chance from the start - a writer you were destined to be!
  • Every story you write will be filtered through your own experiences and opinions. It's virtually impossible to hide your own likes, dislikes, prejudices and biases.
  • "I can't think of a title. Do you have any ideas?" I've lost count of the times someone has said this to me! I usually roll my eyes and groan. Do I have any ideas? Not likely. Coming up with a title is hard work. Oh, sure, sometimes the perfect title seems to appear from nowhere... but more often, it involves a lot of brainstorming and some pretty dodgy choices in the beginning.
  • For one reason or another, you might be thinking of switching genres, or changing from one age group to another. What are the problems you might encounter? Do you have to re-learn or un-learn anything? What are the differences, say, in writing for adults when you've been used to writing for children - or vice versa?
  • Not so long back, I received about half a dozen pieces of writing in a row that were competent - but which didn't stand out in any way. These were writers who had studied the craft, and were writing fluent passages of prose. They had all the technical aspects of their craft right. They knew how to construct passages of dialogue; each scene was well planned... so WHAT WAS WRONG?
  • I've always felt that not nearly enough writers value their work for its own sake. Yes, it's nice to achieve publication via traditional methods (submit to a publisher, get a 'yes', end up with a published book in your hand, get some royalties). But what if you can't quite manage to get that 'yes'? Scrapbooking might hold some answers...
  • If you're like most people who read fiction, you hope for characters that engage you and a plot that intrigues you. These are the core elements of any novel. However, you need to be able to add colour and life to every part of your story world. If you don't know how to do this, your plot is just a scaffold, and your characters more like ghosts than living people.
  • Does this work? I have no idea, because I've never had quite the same dilemma. However, I think these tips on how to resuscitate a dead story probably would work for some writers, because it removes the stress of 'having' to come up with a plot that works. And if not... the author has lost only a few hours, and has exercised a few writing muscles!
  • Story endings are hard to write -- often much harder than beginnings. Any author who wants to be published must understand how to write a book with a powerful ending. It's important to know two things: one, what will disappoint readers (and editors) and two, what works well.
  • Short-short stories are fun to write and fun to read - but they're harder than you might think. You can't take half a page to 'lead in' to the story, and you can't describe characters at length. Master the structure, and you'll have ongoing acceptances from a popular market.
  • If you compare writing to art, the novel is the huge canvas, which makes you stand back to admire it. It can provide big ideas, a strong plot, bold themes, a sizeable cast, and several sub-plots. The short story is a little painting, that has you stepping forward to see it more clearly and enjoy it all the more. A vignette is the miniature you pick up in order to appreciate the tiny details. Each, in its own way, gives pleasure.
  • Browse through these useful articles about writing crime, mystery and thriller fiction.
  • For writers who are new to crime fiction, one of the biggest pitfalls is building a plot on a flimsy premise. These guidelines will help to ensure that the basic plot of your crime novel WORKS.
  • This article shows you how one author introduced the villain early in the book, kept him 'on stage' for much of the time, provided clues for the sleuth and then brought it all together at the end.
  • I always laugh at the Police description of "the deceased died after being 'fatally wounded'". Odd isn't it? I've always figured you are either dead or wounded. Somehow fatally wounded implies the victim staggered about, bleeding out…but was not quite dead.
  • I decided to look into unusual defences to crime. One that took my fancy was PMS used by the legal eagles as a defence for women who kill. This raises two questions. Firstly what classifies a 'defence'? Basically there are two main types of defences.
  • The scene/location/place/area where the 'actus reus' has been committed becomes a crime scene. You may have created a story with more than a single crime scene.
  • The mystery behind The Autopsy is about to be unveiled. What is actually involved? Why is an autopsy performed? How is it performed? Who needs to be present? Does it smell? Is it impersonal? What happens to the body bits?
  • Who and what is a Police Officer? What makes a Police Force? To answer these questions I decided to begin at the beginning.
  • Every time you need to provide information, ask yourself - Does my reader need to know this? Chances are he won't and as a general rule: If in doubt, leave it out. Most of your research will probably end up on the cutting room floor, but none will it go to waste. If you steep yourself in the period it can't help but show itself by a process of osmosis. You won't, for instance, make anachronistic mistakes. You won't dress your 18th century heroine in a crinoline, or feed potatoes to your 10th century English peasants.
  • Romance fiction: the authors, genres, and tips on technique.
  • Lucy Abarcia is the owner of the successful romance bookstore, EVERAFTER. She has found that this popular genre has helped her to survive in times when many large booksellers have had to close their doors.
  • Hundreds of tips on writing engaging non-fiction: articles, books, and web content.
  • We all love to listen to a well-told story. Whatever the message that you're trying to get across, you'll do it better if you can get your readers engrossed in a story. Here's how to use anecdotes to good effect in your books and articles.
  • Keep just one thing in mind and the whole 'How To' project will become much, much easier: "If I were buying this book or manual, what would I hope to find out?" Put yourself in your readers' shoes. What is the best possible information you can give them? What would it take to make them say "Wow, I'm so glad I bought this book!"?
  • Wendy St Germain has written about 30 titles; almost all non-fiction. Her non-fiction books and articles are lively and interesting, so it's no wonder her work is popular with editors. In this interview, Wendy tells you how she got started writing non-fiction, and offers her Top 5 Tips for keeping non-fiction interesting...
  • This article on CACTI is reprinted with permission from the High Chaparral Newsletter, to accompany Wendy St. Germain's article on Writing Lively Non-Fiction... The West wouldn't be 'The West' without them. There are nearly 2,000 species of cactus the world over and all are believed to have originated in the Americas. Very few people haven't seen a cactus at least once in their lives...
  • We all love to listen to a well-told story. Whatever the message that you're trying to get across, you'll do it better if you can get your readers engrossed in a story. Here's how to use anecdotes to good effect in your books and articles.
  • Wendy St Germain has written about 30 titles; almost all non-fiction. Her non-fiction books and articles are lively and interesting, so it's no wonder her work is popular with editors. In this interview, Wendy tells you how she got started writing non-fiction, and offers her Top 5 Tips for keeping non-fiction interesting...
  • Bev Prideaux's speciality is in horticulture and the wine industry, She stopped counting after 600 published articles! After 15 years the stories opportunities are still rolling in. Bev says it was a simple step from years in rural merchandising to writing promotional articles for the local wine industry and general interest stories for magazines and newspapers.
  • When it comes to writing, many, many people decide to dip a toe in the water by 'having a go' at writing a family history. The trick is to make that family history as interesting as possible!
  • Handy tips on writing a family history from expert Hazel Edwards, Author of WRITING A NON-BORING FAMILY HISTORY
  • Here you'll find lots of handy little writing tips, prompts and exercises. They could fit into several writing categories (technique, getting started, procrastination, etc etc) which is why they have a section all to themselves. If you're hosting a writers' group, you'll find some treasures here for group exercises or homework!
  • Here's a list of words representing objects that you see around the house. Your job is to apply all of the words on the list to four different categories: Music, Food, Travel and Play. Write down the first associated word or phrase that comes to mind for each one on the list.
  • Over the years, I've been asked "Where do you get your ideas?" more than any other question, and the answer is always the same - ideas are all around us, we only have to be receptive to them. No two artists painting the same still life will produce identical pictures. Each will bring his unique vision to his canvas and the same can be said of writers. . .
  • There are sources for writing all around us, and the possibilities are endless. All we have to do is keep our eyes and ears open and ask Who? Why? How? What if? And then what happened? till we end up with a really good yarn. . .
  • One of the best ways to learn is to hear what other writers have to say. Find out what they want to tell you about learning the craft, achieving success, and living the dream.
  • Wendy-St-Germain-Interview.html
  • How do you design e-books for kids? Hazel Edwards and Jane Connery took a look at the publishing industry and could see where it was leading: e-books are taking off. Here's how they went about co-designing a series of e-books for kids, along with related merchandise.
  • Tips on building a writer's website.
  • If you've never had anything to do with creating a website before, you probably have no idea where to start. On the other hand, maybe you've struggled with other programs and got nowhere. Perhaps you have downloaded site-building software from the Internet because it was free, or tried a 30-day trial of Dreamweaver before buying - only to find that it's just too hard. XSitePro makes website-building much easier than you'd ever thought possible. Why is it so different?
  • Whether you use XSite Pro or a completely different software program to create your website, I recommend that you download XHeader and give it a try. This is a terrific program that is really easy to use. (And believe me, I've spent HOURS creating headers using expensive, much more complex programs - yet XHeader's graphics look just as good!)
  • Publishers are increasingly supporting the idea of writers having their own web sites... this demonstrates to a publisher that you have 'outreach' to your market. Publishers like to see how savvy you are with marketing.
  • Decide on the primary purpose of your website: to promote your fiction and give fans information about you, or to sell your services as a writer. You can diversify later if you wear more than one hat. For now, choose a focus for this, your first website.
  • Until now, you may have thought of an e-publisher as the online version of a regular publisher. The good news is that the definition is way broader than that. "E-Publishing" simply means "electronic publishing". (E-mail means "electronic mail".) Anything that can be created on your computer and sent into cyberspace for other people to download has been e-published.
  • If you are an 'emerging' writer, is it worth spending money and time on a personal website? Much depends on the type of writing you do and your potential audience... Children's authors and illustrators, for example, are a specialist group of potential web-sites users because they have volumes of fan mail and lots of students wanting to do projects on them.
  • Hundreds of thousands of businesses all over the world use PayPal on their websites. They use it to sell products or to invoice clients for a service. It can be quite costly to set up a merchant facility on your site, and by using PayPal, you can avoid this.
  • Here's how you can use WordPress to create a writer's website, using the Weaver II theme.
  • Robin Adolphs knew that her writer's website would be a showcase for her books, and a way to attract more readers if she went about it the right way. The special features on her website add value to her books and make it a popular destination for teachers and parents.
  • Buiilding a writing career - tips and strategies.
  • If you're having trouble finding the time to write, join the club. Time management is a huge issue for writers. There is one simple yet very effective trick that can make all the difference in your life.
  • These few simple tips on using a word processor can make a big difference to both your productivity and the appearance of your manuscript.
  • See your chances of success as a writer increase dramatically when you adopt the principle of "kaizen" - gradual, continual improvements over time. Using the "kaizen" approach can result in a huge leap forward over the next year.
  • Are you writing what you really want to write... or just what you started out doing years ago? Perhaps things have changed. Will non-fiction suit you better than fiction? Will being a novelist be more fun than being a copywriter? Do you want to write as an enjoyable hobby - or a serious career? Find what's right for YOU.
  • Feeling down at the latest rejection from an editor? After you've slammed a few doors and yelled at the cat, try taking a different perspective on it. What have you learned that will help you take a few more steps forward on your writer's journey?
  • The more effort you put into your writing career, the faster you'll get to where you want to go. These 6 high-yield strategies will see you moving ahead at warp speed.
  • Sometimes, authors feel they'll go nuts trying to get all their questions answered. There's so much to learn about this publishing business! Here are the answers to five frequently asked questions: "What is a premise?"; "How do I get the copyright symbol on my computer?"; "How do I fasten my manuscript?"; "How much will I earn from my book?" and "Can I send my work to more than one publisher at a time?"
  • Why is it that so many people treat your writing career as "your little hobby" rather than a serious business venture? It could have something to do with the way YOU talk about it and commit to it.
  • Do you need to do a writing course before you can make a sale? Absolutely not... but on the other hand, it MAY be a good idea! Weigh up your own needs carefully before you sign up.
  • Any business requires an investment of funds in order to grow. By trying to spend as little as possible on your writing career until you 'make it', you might be stunting your growth as a writer. Will an injection of cash now reap rich rewards much faster?
  • Develop your writing career: sell more stories and articles; make more contacts. Go to where the business is... whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction.
  • What is a writer's scam? Essentially, it is an offer that is designed to get money from a writer without providing any real return - that is, something that will advance you in your writing career.
  • "Dear author, thanks for giving us the opportunity to read your manuscript but it does not suit our list. We return it herewith." What? Were they nuts! My kids loved my writing! After countless rejections I began to wonder what I was doing wrong...
  • Some people hate setting goals (it seems so corporate!). For some, it's actually even counter-productive - if they set goals and don't achieve them, they feel a depressing sense of failure. So instead, sit back and put your feet up and let your mind wander...
  • If you don't plan for it, you can bet it will happen: somewhere, somehow, sometime, you will experience some sort of computer disaster that means all or part of your hard work is lost. This is what can happen...
  • Why is it a good idea for writers to develop skills in copywriting? Because (a) you can write much more persuasive press releases, back cover blurbs, website copy and brochures for yourself and (b) you can build a whole work-at-home copywriting business if you enjoy it.
  • Okay, so you love writing, you've decided it is more than just a hobby for you. You want to write and sell your stories/novels. Here's a handy-dandy check list to see if you're taking all the steps towards publication.
  • I am still at my work desk desperately trying to finish a task in ten minutes that I know will take at least five hours. I can do it, I can do it! ... I can't do it! I'll have to come back after the launch. Time.... There is never enough time!
  • The focus of this article is earning a living from writing by working smarter, not harder. And while you should certainly take into account the type of writing you enjoy, we're going to focus on the 'working smarter' part - and in particular, on one new strategy that even non-writers are embracing in a big way: creating and selling your own e-book.
  • Ann Harth, our columnist on running a home-based writing business, wears several different hats as a writer. One of her income streams comes from being a tutor for a large distance education company. Ann interacts with writers on a daily basis, so I asked her if she'd answer a few questions about doing a course, from her perspective as a tutor. Here are her answers...
  • To keep moving forward in your writing career, it's essential that you do two things: (1) Decide what you want to achieve, and (2) Decide when and how you are going to complete each step along the way to getting what you want.
  • There's nothing like the feeling of starting to write a brand new story. You are SO motivated! This initial feeling of excitement can last for weeks...then the wheels fall off. One day you turn on the computer and instead of having fun writing the next scene, you find that (shudder) it feels more like WORK...
  • For a writer, there's not much worse than forcing yourself to sit in front of the computer when you're just not in the mood to write - especially if this goes on day after day. It's important to attack this "I just don't want to write" mood head on, before it gets to be a real problem.
  • Most writers start out full of joy and anticipation. They love to write, and they're keen to write as much as possible. Then... disappointment sets in. The craft is harder to master than they'd expected, or too many rejections cause disillusionment. That's when it's time to find the joy of writing again...
  • All writers needs someone who believes in them. Someone who encourages, supports, commiserates and really cares about them. If you don't have your own personal cheer squad - it's time to start looking.
  • You may be the kind of writer that needs to ease into your day's output. Rather than sit there staring at a blank screen, try one of these 6 ways to jump-start your writing day.
  • Desperate to get organized? If to-do lists and diary notes don't work for you, maybe the "Red Zone Tactic" will! Here's a great system for anyone who can't see the desk for the paper, and isn't into computer-based organizers.
  • Once you tell people you're a writer (or even admit it to yourself) it's all too easy to feel that now you HAVE to write. Well, guess what? You can take a break - or make it permanent. You have to do what feels right for you.
  • Sometimes it seems pointless even trying to make New Year Resolutions - does anybody ever keep them? The short answer is 'yes - if they're the right kind'. Here's how to make New Year Resolutions that you're more likely to keep, and so have the pleasure of seeing your writing career surge ahead.
  • Are you coming up blank yet again when you sit down to write? Work your way through these strategies. You'll either solve your problem... or decide to go and find a job that's more 'you'!
  • It's time to be devious. No more Mr Nice Guy. No more reluctantly agreeing to do yet another task while grinding your teeth and picturing dolls with pins stuck in them. No, it's war. That book has to get written. White lies (or even big ugly black ones) are entirely permissible...
  • I am sure that most of us have felt as though not a single word of what we have written is worthwhile. I am sure that many of us have been disappointed - and unsupported - by a writers' group that is not a good "fit" for us. I am sure that we have all felt, at times, completely alone. So what is the cure? How do writers cope? How do they keep going, week after week, year after year? What makes people pick themselves up and carry on?
  • You've probably read a lot about writer's block. So you'll know that it's a touchy subject with some people. In fact, for those who don't believe any such thing exists, it's like waving a red rag at a bull.
  • All writers have been there: those days when you sit at the computer and nothing will come. You're feeling low... This goes on for weeks... and you start to worry. Is this writer's block, or the beginning of depression?
  • Writers' critique groups can either give you a huge boost or leave you crushed and vowing never to write another story. Choose your critique group carefully, establish the rules and you will find it a welcome avenue of support and encouragement.
  • If there's one thing that most writers hate, it's criticism. It's never easy to have someone tell you that what you're doing doesn't work...
  • Understand how the publishing industry works, and learn more about submitting and marketing your writing.
  • At a Writers Retreat Workshop in Kentucky, Don Maass, a New York Agent, offered these quick tips on writing a query letter.
  • The first thing you need to understand about dealing with editors is that they are people just like you. They are not to be feared. They are not to be idolized. They are simply employed by a publisher to (a) find new talent and (b) to work with authors so their book has the best possible chance of making a profit.
  • First, let me say that different publishers have different preferences. You're never going to find one set of guidelines that will suit everyone. However, most editors and most agents have fairly simple needs. They just want to receive a manuscript that is well laid out and easy to read, with decent margins AND page numbers.
  • The first reaction to reading a rejection letter is usually intense disappointment (and often days or weeks of depression). This doesn't last. Often, this 'rejection dejection' morphs straight into a firm resolve to fix whatever is wrong and do better next time.
  • As the author of dozens of books published over the past 20+ years, I am not one to be easily dissuaded by publishers' rejection letters. However, in 2003 there was one book I could not sell anywhere in Australia (and believe me, I tried every possible publisher!)
  • What you need to know is that there are no easy answers to 'how can I market my work?'. Whether you are trying to sell a novel, a self-help book, or an article, you need to stay in tune with the marketplace and be ready to adapt to changes. This is not what most people want to hear. It's so much easier to follow a formula. Follow these ten easy steps...
  • Writing a short book blurb is not only fun, but great practice for writing promotional copy of any kind. This article gives you simple steps to follow to write a book blurb, and gives examples of both fiction and non-fiction back cover blurbs. You'll also find some useful links to websites with further information.
  • Once upon a time, in a little brick house with an orange tile roof, there lived a writer. Every day the writer invented stories. Sometimes she even wrote them down. And very occasionally, one was completed. After one such story found itself miraculously transformed from the chaos of random thoughts inside her mind and into words, the writer decided to make an offering of her story to a great and powerful publisher...
  • When I told a group of authors I know that I was asked to write an article about rejection, they were jubilant. "At last, someone can go on record telling the world what editors are really like!" they said. "We pour our heart and soul into our work and they rarely notice. They have no idea what it is to have a dream..." It's been said that the acid test of whether or not one is a born writer is not only how well we write, but also how we cope with rejections.
  • Here's a news flash: most editors prefer a synopsis to be shorter rather than longer. Why? There are lots of reasons, but here are three important ones. You'll also find out about the 'synopsis tricks' that editors HATE - are you guilty? We finish with a checklist for basic synopsis construction.
  • Time-management for writers: how to fit in a writing career when you have no time to do it!
  • At times it can seem so hard to snatch time to write that you feel like just giving up. Any writer can identify with that feeling! Here are some suggestions that will help you organise your material so you're ready to take advantage of whatever snatches of time you have - and whatever energy levels are present!
  • Checklists are an efficient means of keeping yourself on track with all your writing tasks, from improving your technique to streamlining your home office. You can find checklists in many places on the Internet (such as those offered by Writing4Success) but the more you personalise those checklists, the more useful they will be.
  • Can you write a book in a month? Well, it's certainly possible. Many people have proved that. Could YOU do it? Probably, if you don't have any family/work disasters... illness, unexpected trips, etc.
  • A great deal can be accomplished in successive small windows of time. Next time you realise that you're putting off starting something because it's all just too large and overwhelming, grab a piece of paper and divide the job into small, achievable tasks. Then tackle them one at a time. The tasks suggested here can be slotted into a short window of writing time.
  • How do you get that novel finished? Well for starters, avoid the lure of "the next book". It's all too easy, when things are moving slowly in your current book, to be tempted to find something that's more exciting...
  • "Lockdown mode" is a legitimate and effective way to find time for your writing. In fact, it's a brilliant alternative for writers who find it nearly impossible (or ineffective) to carve a few hours out of a typical week.
  • If you're having trouble achieving what you had hoped to with your writing, you might find that an easily-seen record of your progress helps you to stay on track. This shows you how you can use two different progress sheets for any number of writing tasks. On one of them you can record your progress in percentage points (with intervals of 10% up to 100%, when the task is finished) and on the other you can check off up to ten steps in a complex task.
  • Sometimes I feel like Peter Pan, coming out at night to play. To play with words, to play in my own created space; my world, my friends, while the real world sleeps around me. My mind wanders, thoughts rising and falling - slowly at first, as if on a child's merry go round. My characters come to life inside my head and begin to laugh and play, often a giggle escaping my lips as the vividness of the scene playing out in my head becomes a reality...
  • How do we squeeze time for our writing into our hectic, time-poor lives? Multi-task I hear you say! I used to think so, but research is showing that the more tasks we try and tackle at the same time, the less effective we are as thinkers. So instead of keeping fifteen balls in the air at the same time, I try to find windows of time during which I can achieve a writing job.For creative brain-functions I quarantine "golden-time".
  • Tips for writers on handling publicity and promoting their work and their services.
  • The truth is that you are unlikely to get much in the way of publicity and/or promotion from publishers. The more you can do yourself, the better - and the earlier you start, the better.
  • Let's explore the value of promoting your writing skills in the workplace, and how to handle media interviews.
  • Hazel Edwards is an acknowledged expert on writing family history - speciifically, writing a NON-BORING family history! It's little wonder that she is a sought-after interviewee for this topic. Here, Hazel offers 20 tips on handling talk-back radio: the interview and the follow-up questions from listeners.
  • As the publishing world changes, writers are finding it necessary to keep pace - definitely having a web presence, and giving more than a passing thought to making their books available as e-books.
  • Online social networking can seem daunting as well as time consuming, if you don't know much about it. Between websites, Facebook, blogging and Twitter, it seems there is a never ending flow of opportunities that you need to attempt to harness and steer in the right direction. But the good news is it's not as complicated as you may think, and there are ways and means of protecting your privacy. And if you are a published author, about to be published or simply wishing to establish a presence to build your profile, utilising these online resources can work to your advantage.
  • In today’s internet/digital world and gadgets, a book trailer provides authors with a pathway to entice and entertain their readers. People are visual and a book trailer is your chance to bring the book to life and engage readers with sound, pictures, motion clips, words, and music.
  • Authors are often asked to give talks, run workshops, or appear on panels. This can be intimidating if you've never done it before... so here are a few tips to help you out!
  • If you haven't done a lot of public speaking before, then it can be downright scary facing that sea of faces looking at you expectantly, waiting to hear what you have to say. It doesn't matter whether you're standing in front of a dozen people at the local library, or a room full of family and friends at your first book launch... it's intimidating!
  • How do you make money from writing? There are many different ways, both online and offline.
  • Tired of earning a pittance (or nothing at all) from your writing? Learn how to get started in ghostwriting - a career that lets you set your own hours. Earn a full time income, or be a part-time 'ghost' while you work on your novel. Here's an overview to get you started.
  • Writing content for websites can give you a nice little sideline (while you're working on your novel) or you can build it into a whole new career. It may be something you'd never thought of - which is understandable. Nobody tends to think much about who's behind those millions of words on the World Wide Web. We all simply take it for granted that when we 'Google' something, we're going to find an answer.
  • Competent wordsmiths have a smorgasbord of opportunities to make money. Are you limiting yourself? Check out these different writing 'trails' that can earn you a very good income.
  • Lots of people with a hobby or special interest have thought about starting up a newsletter or a blog, and this is an excellent way to attract a following. However, if you really know what you're talking about, then you could turn your knowledge into a nice little business - by writing an e-course on it. Or ever a series of e-courses. There are four main steps in the process of writing a high-quality, profitable e-course...
  • Thinking of dipping your toe into the water and working for Bev Boorer, an established writer for Guru, offers some tips for newbies.
  • Grammar, language, spelling... all essential for writers who want to sell.
  • Most people should have learned how to construct a sentence in their early years at school -- but ask any editor about the way writers use sentence structure and you'll see lots of eye-rolling. Here I'm going to look at just two problems that I've seen crop up many times when I've critiqued scenes for writers or marked assignments for writing courses.
  • The reasons for not writing well are varied, but that doesn't stop people from being good communicators...from creating fantastic stories and plots...from giving life and light and meaning to words. Let's find ways to avoid common mistakes in: spelling, pronunciation, capitalization, punctuation and usage.
  • Columnists with expertise in a number of areas have contributed their insights to help writers 'get it right'. Check out our contributers below and see what they have to offer you!
  • One of the most challenging tasks for crime and mystery writers is getting the police procedure right. This column is all about helping you to find out the information you need to know.
  • Who examines a crime scene? Which officers attend? Who is 'who' at a crime scene? What generally happens at a crime scene? What is a crime scene? Who is allowed into the crime scene?
  • What does a police officer have to think about at a crime scene - say, where the body lies on the steps in front of an open door? Find out what happens at a murder crime scene.
  • What is a Search Warrant? It is a legal document generally issued by a court of law following application by investigating police to search particular premises for particular evidence...
  • Part 2 of the Search Warrants article covers such things as service of the occupier's notice, hours of execution, announcing your presence before entry, the informant, police characters, and false or misleading information...
  • Writing a story with cops and robbers? Does part of your plot involve questioning, arresting and / or interviewing someone? Let me try to put some clarity to the fundamental matters involved in a person's right to silence.
  • Before you go creating a telephone intercept scene, be aware that interception is only authorised where the offence being investigated falls within the definition of 'Serious Offence'. So, what types of offences are considered serious at law?
  • Writers often experience difficulties in finding out the information they need to know about police procedure. Here is some basic information about general characters and scenarios in a police procedural novel.
  • This formal break-down provides a clear overview of what front line policing entails. I suggest these inherent requirements are consistent for all front line Australian police.
  • Like many other people in the community, police officers sometimes have second (and even third) jobs. Is this officially sanctioned? What kinds of jobs are police officers or ex-police officers likely to take up? Graham Maranda gives us some insights into this interesting question...
  • Whether you want to create your own website or let a designer do it, Gail Breese can tell you what works.
  • Once you embark on creating your new website, you begin to realise that it's not quite as straightforward as you thought it might be. There are a few things you need to know before you start that will save you a lot of time later on. I will try to explain how to better begin your journey to save time later on.
  • Now you have created your new website and corrected any little errors by checking with a validation program, you are almost ready to upload all the files to the World Wide Web. But first you need to organise (1) your domain name and website hosting providers, and (2) a way of publishing your site's files to the Web.
  • Colour has been important to the human race for centuries. It's been used to differentiate tribes, cultures and status. The right or wrong choice of colour combinations can be the difference between a good or bad experience for your visitors...
  • Sometimes finding the right colour scheme for your site can be difficult. You could choose your favourite colour - but what goes with it? It is no accident that some colours go better together than others. If you are really stuck to work out a colour scheme, here are some suggestions...
  • Creating websites that are attractive for visitors to view means using colour schemes that are harmonious and not jarring to the eye. But... are you sure that visitors are seeing the same colours as you? Colour schemes can involve a bit more work to make sure the effect you want your viewers to see is achieved. It's important to choose 'browser-safe' colours.
  • Why do people visit websites? Generally it's because they want information about a business, an artist, a writer etc., and perhaps how to make a purchase. The home page is the first place where the visitor finds at a glance what your site is about, who you are and how to navigate to the information they want.
  • When your visitors enjoy spending time on your site because your information is interesting and it's fun to be there, you have a sticky website. If your site isn't sticky it may get lots of 'hits' initially, but your visitors won't stick around and will leave, maybe never to return.
  • Jason Sitzes, an acclaimed writing teacher and editor, offers insights into the writing life.
  • Jason talks about how driving through a rainbow made him think about what it means to 'push through' for a writer - and offers some do-it-now fixes that you can apply to your own work.
  • Dozens of books on writing give "rules" and these books are important, necessary, even if you disagree, because they challenge us. But if you don't believe in your talent, if you don't trust yourself, if you don't push through, if you can't get inspired by your own story, you will never find your treasure.
  • I'm writing from my humble office in the humble retreat center that for thirteen years has hosted the Writers Retreat Workshop in Erlanger, Kentucky, USA. I thought I'd share with you some of the nuggets of gold from the first half of the week.
  • Jason shares with you a lesson he taught at the Writers' Retreat Workshop, using Les Edgerton's book HOOKED: the importance of using those vital first pages to hook the reader by plunging them into the middle of action.
  • Emotional responses are often revealed at the aftermath of making a choice, or having a revelation. After all, putting our characters in positions where they have to make a choice is the essence of character. Why does your character decide A over B? What are the stakes of making choice A, what are the stakes of B, and what are the consequences of the final choice made?
  • Many writers are don't understand the concept of tension: they think it's only important in thrillers, suspense, and mystery novels. That isn't the case. Tension lives on the page of every literary and nonfiction work as well.
  • Lynda's strength lies not only in being able to see clearly what really works in writing fiction and non-fiction, but in being able to help others see it too.
  • I made a list of the 'things' we writers are supposed to pay attention to when editing our manuscripts. Patterns emerged from those lists and I found three main functions could be identified and they subsequently formed the basis of my editing framework: structure; style and technique; and grammar, spelling and proofing.
  • You may remember from my last article the conversation I had with my supervisor about structure and the book he recommended I read - Story: Substance, structure, style and the principles of screen-writing by Robert McKee. Initially my heart sank when he told me to get the book from the library. I had a complete first draft ready for editing. If I needed help understanding structure, how much more work was the draft going to need?
  • So what do you do with an existing manuscript? How do we apply the Self-Editing Framework to analyse our manuscript? This column article is going to be a little different to its lead-up articles that outlined and discussed the Self-Editing Framework. I'll be sharing with you the things I learned as I applied the Framework to my manuscript and as such this article should be seen as a companion-piece to those earlier ones...
  • How should a writer plan his or her novel? use the 'Novel Well Planned' model, or the "Write and Plan as You Go" version? For a soul who likes plans, I have to confess that I have now followed both writing paths and have been surprised at how much I enjoyed both. Let me explain...
  • When you edit a manuscript you have been working with for some time, you are comfortable with it, familiar with it, know your characters, and know where the story is going. So the thought of: "what next?" and "starting again" can be a little daunting. How do you go about starting again? What have you learned from your editing experiences that you can apply to your next project?
  • We write because we have something to say. Regardless of the type of writing we employ, being able to tell our audience what we mean is of critical importance. It's true of fiction, biography, departmental report or email. In this article I'm going to focus on 'audience' and 'meaning', exploring why I believe they're so important to good writing, and looking at ways we can create meaning simply and elegantly in fiction.
  • It's interesting. Utter the word 'homework' to most people under the age of seventeen. You will induce sneers, curled lips and muttered, colourful language. Sighs will escape and heads will shake. Eyes will roll and shoulders will sag. But... homework for writers?
  • You're going to work from home. It's not a decision to be taken lightly, but you've made it. This first giant leap in your journey toward a home business fills you with a sense of freedom, excitement and a touch of fear.
  • Just to put you in the picture: I'm sitting beside a river, the sand is warm between my toes, my son is swimming, my husband is fishing. I am working between the occasional 'Yes, I'm watching, Sweetie', and 'Are you sure there's bait on that hook?'
  • There are hundreds of theories and self-help articles concerned with time management when working from home: Write a Book While Waiting for a Bus; How to Run a Business While Coaching the Under-Tens; Meeting Deadlines While Baby Sleeps; Taking Your Work With You, (the Vet Won't Mind...
  • You are writing full time. You crank out books and articles in your favourite genre and are published consistently. Royalty checks are rushing in so quickly that your next investment will be a larger letterbox. The phone never stops ringing and they're hounding you for more…
  • It's finished! Your novel is in its 'resting phase' behind the whirring white noise of your computer. It will wait patiently until you can convince an agent or editor of its brilliance.This can be an exercise in frustration and plummeting self-esteem -- but it doesn't have to be. By following some basic guidelines, your novel can be introduced to the publishing world in a professional and positive manner.
  • Learning to write exceptional query letters will ensure that invitations to send your article drop into your mailbox with regularity. Not only will you have steady work, but you will also be writing about subjects that interest you. The hardest part will be deciding which article to write first.
  • Have you ever received a 'Dear Author' rejection and found yourself completely mystified? Who are these people? What did I send to them? When? As most of us know, rejections are part of the game. If your work is rejected, you will need to send it out again … and again…. and maybe again. If you have more than one manuscript making the rounds, it would be wise to keep clear records.
  • You want to specialise. I know. What could be better than spending the days doing the things you love most and the evenings knocking a few articles together? This can work and, eventually, it may. But when you are first starting out, limiting the work that you accept will limit your opportunities, income and the growth of your own business...
  • Before you can send a quote, you must decide what to charge. Setting your fees can be one of the most difficult parts of running a writing business. If you're filled with self-admiration and rank your writing skills up there with those of Stephen King or Harper Lee (ten points if you can tell me what Harper Lee wrote), you won't have a problem asking people to pay for your time.
  • I am assuming that many of you have the same amount of experience with invoices as I did when I started my writing business: That is …none. If I'm wrong, you may want to skip this month's article. If I'm not -- or you just want to see how someone else does it -- read on. My first few paying jobs filled me with inconsistencies: Excitement? Yes. Dreams of a thriving business? Of course. Fear? Most definitely.
  • Think of your website a constant, global method of advertising. But before you decide to become a site owner, it may help to define your goals. The following is a list of reasons why many writers take the plunge into the world of websites. Use your imagination. Be creative. Your website can be the entrance to your writing business.
  • Should you work for free? If we were discussing a waitressing job or employment as a shop assistant, the answer would be an emphatic 'no'. I have never heard of a self-respecting new employee who would say: Of course I'll work a week for free. Then you can decide if you want to hire me. When we talk about writing for free, this line gets a little hazy. Monetary rewards are not the only payment a writer can receive. Many writers give away their work for various reasons. Some are sensible and sound. Some are not.
  • Scams within the writing profession seem to be the flavour of the month. This may be due to an increase in actual 'stings' or it could simply be my own perception as I, too, have recently become a member of a select group -- scam victims. I am sharing my experience with burning cheeks and more than a touch of embarrassment (how could I be so naïve?) but if I can help even one person avoid making the mistakes I did, it will be worth it.
  • I'm sure there are dozens of methods and programs and software that will help you back-up your work. There are probably even little alarms that will tell when you are due. I don't know about those, but I will tell you what works for me.
  • In our profession, if we want to be successful, we will probably have to speak in public. Book signings, launches, speaking to groups of school children and groups of our peers can all generate a portion of the income that we need to support our writing habits. Accepting these opportunities can make a huge difference to our careers. So what do you do if the thought of public speaking terrifies you...?
  • Networking is essential for authors and writers. Jackie Hosking, the author of this column, edits a weekly networking newsletter for writers - one which has seen many writers achieve publication.
  • The world of writing can be an overwhelming one - once you step off the page. It's like being expected to participate in a race when nobody has told you where the venue is let alone the starting line.
  • In today's writing world editors are too busy to correct errors. How can we make their lives easier, and consequently our chance of being published more likely? JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP!
  • Writing is a bit like giving birth, only more painful! You grow your story or your poem or your rant inside you, and eventually it has to come out. You have a birth - day and you celebrate. You are thrilled with your creation - your baby - no matter how ugly it is. But here's where the similarities end. In the world of writing, everyone's a critic and to survive you need to grow, borrow or steal a very thick skin.
  • Networking. Now what exactly do I mean by the word 'networking'? I looked it up in the dictionary, because I like to be accurate, and to my surprise found that firstly, the verb 'to network' did not exist at all and that secondly, the noun 'network' could only be found as part of the word 'net'.
  • What an exhilarating exercise it has been; having to come up with interesting things to write about each month. I don't mind admitting that I have found myself somewhat panicked, at times, as I opened the cupboard to find it bare. During one of these Mother Hubbard moments I rejoined an Australian based Yahoo! writers' list in the hope that the members might be able to answer some simple networking questions and thus provide me with another article.
  • What's a BLOG? Do you have one? And if you don't -- should you? Very simply, a BLOG is an online diary, a space on the Web for you to express yourself. All sorts of people BLOG for all sorts of reasons. I've done some research and here's what a few writers have to say.
  • I opened my inbox to an acceptance this morning, my first with this particular magazine. I write poetry, rhyming poetry -- it's what I do, it's who I am. When I was a child I would tape all my favourite songs and then spend hours listening, pausing, rewinding so that I might write down all of the words and then, to the dismay of all in earshot, I would sing along over and over and over. That, and Winnie the Pooh were my University.
  • I love reading writing tips. When I visit an author's website I go straight to the kitchen, put the kettle on, make a hot drink of my choice, poise my mouse over the "writing tips" button and…CLICK…I'm in heaven. When I began researching for this article I did some NETWORKING and received so many useful links for writers that I thought it might be helpful to sort them into categories.
  • What a decadent month I had... two days at John Marsden's beautiful Tye Estate where I attended his Adult Writing Program. It was a luxurious weekend where I was surrounded by about thirty people all with a passion for writing. This was followed by a weekend at the Ballarat Writing Festival. Am I rich? Far from it actually, so how did I manage to afford such luxuries, on consecutive weekends, no less?
  • Who was it said, 'Nothing succeeds like success.'? A quick click of the mouse reveals that it was Alexandre Dumas. He also said, 'Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.'
  • This month I am going to talk about networking via the humble email, specifically how to create and promote an email, networking newsletter -- just like my PASS IT ON. What's your passion? It doesn't have to be writing related although I imagine it will be. It could be cooking, or gardening or cats...
  • Last month we talked about our passions and ways to explore and nurture them. One way is through an email newsletter. Newsletters are a great way to have a direct connection with like minded people - and more personal than surfing the internet.
  • Do you ever have unproductive days? Grumpy days where everything is a hassle and nothing gets done? I had one of those days last week -- the day that I had set aside to write this article -- a grumpy day. I thought chocolate might help, but after the first bar realised it wouldn't. Coffee didn't help either so I decided to read a book...
  • I began my blog for purely selfish reasons. Since first being published on The Bad Mothers Club website in May 2003, I realised that I had a drawer full of silly poems and short faction (a blend of fiction and fact) that were just sitting there gathering dust. It's an odd genre, when I think about it.
  • Advice on all kinds of stuff for writers!
  • Snagit is a feature-rich screen capture program that lets you capture anything you see on your computer screen. It will capture anything from a tiny segment of the screen to a long, long scrolling window - you don't have to be able to see it on the screen to capture it.
  • How Microsoft OneNote can help any writer stay organised: take notes, drag pictures and website clippings around, and even capture emails to send to your notes folder. Whether you're researching a family history, chasing up details for a forensic thriller, or writing a novel... this program will be a real boon.
  • You should never buy Private Label Rights (PLR) material and publish it 'as is'. But used the right way, PLR can help you learn your craft and create a unique story.
  • Buzz Words interviews Marg McAlister about her varied career as a writer, influences on her writing, and what she plans to do next...
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  • If you're looking for articles that used to be on the Writing4SuccessClub site, you'll now find them in various sections on the Writing4Success Site.


The Busy Writer's One-Hour Plot

The Busy Writer's One-Hour Character

Book of Checklists

The Busy Writer's Self-Editing Toolbox

The Busy Writer's KickStart Program

Write a Book Fast