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Does Your Book Need An Epilogue?

Epilogues and prologues are the bookends of novels, often a flashback at the beginning (prologue) and glance into the future or a quick summary at the end (epilogue). Though they\'re used in films and TV shows too, in this article we’ll be focusing on the role of epilogues in books. We\'ll be discussing what they are, how to write them, what to include, and whether they are even needed in your story. In order to discuss the last few pages of your story, we must start at the beginning... What Is The Epilogue Of A Book?  ‘Epilogue’ comes from the Greek epilogos, which means “conclusion word.”  Along with prologues, chapters, sections, and POV headings, epilogues are a useful way for the reader to place themselves in the right context. These structural novel features make the plot clear for the reader, which is especially helpful if a book goes back and forth in time. An epilogue is always at the end of a novel - a separate, yet essential, part of a novel’s main plot. It almost always features a time jump (sometimes a few days later, sometimes decades later), shows the reader where the characters end up, and may resolve any unanswered questions. If the book is part of a series, the epilogue often links to the sequel and may foreshadow things to come.  Epilogues sometimes intentionally leave the reader feeling on edge, as they may hint that the conflict of the book hasn’t truly been dealt with, and in crime fiction/thrillers this may mean that the murderer has escaped, and the protagonist is no longer safe. In classic literature (think Shakespeare and Grecian works) epilogues tie together the main lessons of the story with a clear and cohesive moral, and often feature a marriage or the birth of a child. Whether they help the book end neatly and provide closure, or make you want to read the next one, epilogues influence the reader’s perception of the book and what they take away from it.  One important thing to note is that an epilogue is not the same as an afterword. The two are often confused because they both appear after the main body of the book. An epilogue acts as the final chapter and is part of the larger story. Whereas the afterword details the inspiration for a book, how it came to be, and promotes the writer and their other works. It isn’t part of the story itself. Afterwords are used in fiction, but they’re more common in non-fiction, especially in newly revised editions published a while after their initial release.  Pros And Cons Of Epilogues  Like prologues (found at the beginning of a book), epilogues evoke much discussion regarding their usefulness and purpose. So, what’s great about them? And what are their limitations? Here\'s a handy pro/con list to help you find out more: Pros One of the main ways in which epilogues are great, is that they provide writers with an opportunity to highlight a character\'s growth and development. Readers become invested in well-written characters and are eager to know of their fates. Epilogues are a nice way to reassure readers that characters are safe or provide greater insight into an ambiguous ending. This doesn\'t necessarily mean that an epilogue should show your character\'s happily-ever-after, but if your book has a particularly tense finale, a calmer epilogue provides the reader with a cathartic release. Epilogues may also resolve a character’s personal story arc by showing that they are as content several years down the line as they were at the novel’s initial closing.  As aforementioned, epilogues can also hint at future events which will appear in a sequel, which is a nice way to tie a series together. Especially if an epilogue is included in book one, as this hints to the reader that there will be more to follow, and that this won’t be the last they see of the characters they’ve become attached to. Epilogues may simply hint at this next instalment, or they could feature a major plot twist or cliffhanger, leaving the reader desperate to know what happens next. But plot twists must be applied with care, utilising the concealed clues placed throughout the main book, or the reader will feel baited and tricked.  Additionally, a good epilogue will give readers one final thing to contemplate. Maybe it acknowledges one of the key themes but from a different perspective due to a shift in point of view or time, suggesting that the lessons the characters learned weren’t as clear cut as they initially thought. It’s important to be consistent with the tone and pacing of the book, so as not to pull so far away from it that it seems like the start of an entirely new book. Think of the epilogue as a nice bonus included in the novel. But it still needs to do something slightly different from the main body of the book, otherwise it’s not adding anything of value to the story. Ultimately, you want the reader to feel satisfied after reading the epilogue, not confused, so be careful not to overcomplicate it.  If you\'re still struggling to think of a good epilogue, think of what Marvel do at the end of the credits of every one of their movies. It may only be for a minute or two, but they love to show us all tantalising clips of what\'s to come in future movies and it serves as a great hook! Cons Like everything, epilogues in books have their upsides and downsides. One such downside, is that sometimes epilogues underestimate the reader’s intellect. Some people think that the use of an epilogue suggests that a writer doesn’t trust their readership or the strength of their narrative, and thus, are using the epilogue to lay things out explicitly. If an epilogue over-emphasises the key themes of a novel, this can feel patronising. Readers are more than capable of inference, so if you’re writing an epilogue, it’s important to hint and not explicate your book on the reader’s behalf.  Sometimes epilogues include a plot twist which is implemented to hint at a sequel. When used in this way, epilogues can sometimes be disingenuous to the main body of your story, or overwhelm the reader with too much new information. You want to intrigue and excite your reader without making the epilogue intrusive and unnatural, as it could overshadow the main part of the book. Any plot twists used should make sense and be plausible given the context of the rest of the narrative.  The greatest limitation of epilogues is simply that not all books need an epilogue. Often, the enticing open ending of a book is most powerful when left as it is, or the story ends on a high note which needs no additions. The last chapter or section of a book should be strong and compelling enough to tie the story together and bring things to a natural conclusion without any further elaboration or embellishment. That being said, epilogues can be great if they are done well and complete the story by adding something meaningful to it.  Examples Of Epilogues  Epilogues can vary greatly in terms of tone, content, and what they aim to achieve. So it can be helpful to look at a few epilogue examples to see how they work. As epilogues are somewhat divisive, these examples have mixed reactions among their readership, so evaluate them yourself and see what you think.  The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood   This epilogue is told from the perspective of an historian, and set 200 years after the main story. The historian finds June’s collection of tapes detailing her experience as ’Offred’, and discusses them at a conference with his colleagues. The epilogue is set after the main narrative and from a different point of view, which means that the emphasis of the key themes resonates without being too explicit and overbearing as they are applied in a different context. It invites the reader to contemplate how these themes fit into their own lives and dwell on the repercussions of the novel’s events. June’s disappearance and the details of her live after the main story’s conclusion are left open ended, allowing the reader to imagine different endings for her.  Neapolitan Novels: The Story Of The Lost Child By Elena Ferrante In the epilogue of The Story Of The Lost Child Elena receives the dolls that belonged to herself and her childhood friend Lila that they thought they had lost as children. This is a bittersweet ending, as their friendship became more complicated over time. This epilogue ties in the themes of friendship and love which are key to the book. It is also cyclical, as the two girls play with the same dolls at the beginning of the first novel in the series. It’s a hopeful addition to the book, and prompts the reader to contemplate their own childhood, friendships, and once treasured items.  Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte   The epilogue of Jane Eyre is well known and is frequently discussed by scholars. Some consider it too saccharine and discordant in relation to Jane’s experiences and values in the main parts of the novel, while others view it as a woman’s reclamation of her own joy and desires. After Rochester’s house has burned down, he is left blind and disfigured. When he and Jane reunite, Jane feels that, due to the death of his estranged wife, they can now marry without her putting her morals into question, and so they wed. Jane is now financially independent due to the money she inherited, and it is now Rochester who depends on her. She now has the stability and peace she has always wanted, and the power balance between them is more even (and perhaps tilted slightly in her favour). This epilogue highlights Jane’s growth as a character and shows the reader that she is content. And it also echoes the book’s themes of morality and independence (or the lack of it).  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay By Suzanne Collins In the concluding book of The Hunger Games series lies a much-debated epilogue. Time has passed, and Katniss and Peeta are still together and have children. This reassures the reader that the characters they care about are well and happy, while also emphasising the themes of power and privilege. The trauma from what the pair endured lingers, and the reader is subtly invited to reflect upon history and the long-lasting effects of horrific events.  Bel Canto By Ann Patchett   Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto has an epilogue which raises more questions than answers, which is a common occurrence among epilogues. The marriage between Roxane and Gen is unexpected, and many feel that it is an odd way to conclude the story. Their exact reasons for marrying are somewhat unclear, and this ambiguous ending prompts the reader to question all that came before and ponder upon each of the character’s intentions. It serves as a reminder that nothing is ever truly clear cut.  How To Write An Epilogue  Now you know what an epilogue is, it’s time to learn how to write one.  What Is The Purpose Of An Epilogue? When you\'re trying to decide whether to write an epilogue, this is the first question you should ask yourself. If there’s nothing interesting an epilogue would add to your writing, you don’t need one. Consider the purpose of your epilogue. It may be that you have a sequel which you want to link to, that there’s a way you can elaborate on the book’s main themes, or that you want to reassure your reader of your protagonist’s wellbeing in the future. An epilogue should benefit the reader in some way. Don’t be tempted to add an epilogue if you don’t have anything more to say, as it will dilute your overall message. If you think an epilogue would be the right fit for your book, then read on.  Tips For Writing An Epilogue  Here are our best tips for writing an epilogue which perfectly complements your book:  Set it in the future. Whether it’s a few weeks later or several decades later, it’s best to set your epilogue in the future so that the reader can get an idea of the aftermath of the concluding events of the novel. This passing of time means that you can return to your story without things being stagnant and find slightly different areas of interest to explore. Reveal information which was previously withheld from the reader. Perhaps one of the characters was involved in one of the climatic events of the novel but the reader didn’t know about it. Present a wider picture of the situation to deepen your reader’s understanding of the book. Create a new narrative for an upcoming sequel (if applicable). If your book is one of many, you may want to include some new information which both adds intricacy to this book, and seamlessly leads it into the next one. This will both help you set up the sequel and leave the reader full of intrigue. Highlight your protagonist’s progress/development. Readers become attached to the main characters of a book and like to know more about their fates. As time will have passed from the book’s ending to the epilogue, this is an opportunity to give your readers some closure and indicate that the protagonist was able to overcome their strife and is somewhat content. This is especially useful if you ended the main body of the book shortly after a big fight scene or moment of tension, as it provides the reader with a cathartic release. Provide a point of view which isn’t featured in the main narrative. If there’s a side character who you enjoyed writing about, it may be that you write the epilogue from their point of view. This adds a different perspective, and can give the reader some insight into events which the protagonist wasn’t directly involved in. Implicitly reference the themes of the main novel. This one can be a little difficult to get right. Make sure that the references to themes are subtle, and included in a new way, so that the reader is still engaged and doesn’t feel as though they are being told things which they can easily be implied.  Writing Epilogues Deciding whether to include an epilogue in your book can be difficult. Epilogues are particularly useful if you’re writing a series, as they form a kind of liminal space between books. If your book is a standalone, and you’re uncertain, then it’s probably best to strengthen the ending of your novel and go without an epilogue. Hopefully, this article will help you make the best choice for you and your book. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

How To Write A Poem

Have you always wanted to write a poem, but don\'t know where to start? Trying something new is often daunting. But the wonderful thing about poetry is that it\'s all about you - your feelings, your ideas, the way you see the world. And there are no rules! But there are plenty of things you may wish to learn first to give you a deeper understanding of the most beautiful form of written expression. In this article I will be explaining what poetry is, the key elements of a poem, how to find inspiration, and how to edit your poetry. What Is Poetry?  When you think about poetry, your mind may go back to English lessons at school, and memorising and interpreting poems by the likes of Shakespeare, Coleridge, and Emily Dickinson. While those poets are rightfully revered, there is so much more to poetry than just the classics. There truly is a poem for everyone. And it’s wonderful to see that, with the rise of intersectional feminism, poets by women of colour such as Amanda Gorman and Rupi Kaur (as well as their predecessors Maya Angelou, bell hooks, Toni Morrison) are being recognised for their talent and hard work. Poetry is varied not just in terms of who writes it, but also in terms of form. For those who prefer to process things auditorily rather than visually, there’s spoken word poetry (try Button Poetry if you’re interested). For children, there are nursery rhymes and acrostics. And many modern poets post their poems on social media so that you can enjoy their wonderful words while you’re scrolling.  The definition of poetry has expanded greatly in recent years, but essentially, it is distilled language that intends to resonate with the reader. The effect poetry produces varies greatly and is largely determined by the poet’s intent. Whether you want to make your reader cry, laugh, or want to go on a hike, the limit of the form’s length means that every word counts. And every line should be working towards that goal of making the reader feel.   The Key Elements Of A Poem  There are multiple components to a poem, and each of them has its own value. Individual poets often have a signature style, which tends to be based around the poetic element which they focus on and excel at. Before you start writing a poem, you need to know more about how they are shaped.  Voice  The voice of a poem is arguably one of the most important parts. It carries much of the tone and emotion which helps the reader connect to the poem. The speaker in poetry is often somewhat vague, which enables the reader to empathise with them more. A popular, compelling way in which voice is utilised is through the poetic I (frequently using the word I to frame the speaker’s feelings and experiences). It also affects the timbre of the poem when it is read aloud as the voice of a poem carries certain emotions, which determine how we vocalise.  Form  The form of a poem often indicates much of its structure and rhyme scheme. As it determines the shape of a poem, it is another vital component. Form includes the type of poem (villanelle, haiku, free verse), its overall length, line breaks, the number of stanzas, and the length of the stanzas. Some poets like to start off with a very strict idea of the form they would like their poem to take, some just start writing and see what happens, while others will add elements of form when they edit.  Rhythm  Rhythm is one of the ways in which poetry stands out from other writing forms. While, of course, almost all writing has some element of rhythm, in poetry it is the centre from which the voice, form, content etc stem, and it influences how they are expressed. It’s also linked to structure, as long poems with long lines tend to be more fluid than short poems with short stanzas and lines which often have an urgency to them. Rhythm involves pace and can be altered by things like syllable count and alliteration. Enjambment can be used skilfully to disrupt the rhythm and bring the reader’s attention to a specific line. Caesura and line breaks work similarly, and these sections can be further developed when paired with an interesting rhyme scheme.  Rhyme  Contrary to popular belief, poems do not have to rhyme. Whether a poem utilises full rhyme, half-rhyme, or no rhyme at all, rhyme usually influences how the poem is perceived and helps create its overall message. The rhyme scheme can be very regular throughout the entire poem (e.g. four stanzas with a common ABCB rhyming pattern), or entirely inconsistent, with a rhyming couplet placed at the end to act as the poem’s memorable thesis statement. Assonance and consonance can also be used to create more subtle rhymes, as can homophones because they don\'t visually appear to rhyme. Iambic pentameter (favoured by Shakespeare) is a frequently used rhyme scheme, which is linked to form, as it’s often used in sonnets. It also relies on meter to create strong sounds and emphasis.  Meter  Meter refers to the pattern of stressed syllables and the number of syllables in a line, stanza, or poem. It’s more frequent, and notable, in traditional poetry, and highlights a poem’s rhyme, rhythm, and structure. Often, if you’re writing a poem and find that a section sounds off, it’s because you’ve been using meter in a regular pattern- intentionally or not-and then diverged from that pattern.  Literary Devices  Poetry is often rife with literary devices. Many poems are focused on clear images, and literary devices are often used to describe them. Motifs and symbolism are some of the broader ones used, and lyrical language, irony, metaphors, and similes are used to describe specific details. Choosing a literary device that interests you and trying to write an example of one can be a great way to start a poem or revitalise one you’ve already begun.  How To Start Writing Poetry  One of the unique things about writing poetry is that there is no set starting point. Want to start with the last stanza? Fab! Want to shape your poem around an interesting title? Great! Want to have a freewriting session that produces a long meandering poem? Go for it! You can always edit later. Ultimately, when it comes to writing a poem, you can start wherever you want to. For some, this can be freeing. If it leaves you more daunted than excited, then one way to start is by using one of our poetry prompts.   It’s also important to consider why you want to write poetry. If you want to take 5 minutes to write a poem because it’s a quick, accessible form of creative expression, then experiment with a few methods and just enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about finishing poems either (many writers never feel as though their work is finished; you could edit your writing in perpetuity). If you want to write a poem to the best of your ability, then you’ll approach things differently and spend more time on it. Not only can you start a poem wherever you like, but you can also decide how long you want it to be, what style you want to emulate (lyrical, free verse, stream of consciousness, prose poetry), and how it’s structured. Poetry can be very personal, so if it reassures you, know that your poetry can be written just for you. No one else has to read it. Poetry can be a great outlet, and a poem’s value is about so much more than how many people have read it.   Reading poetry out loud (to yourself or to others) is incredibly helpful, too. Rhythm is a key element of poetry, and it can be better emphasised and understood when we hear it compared to when we read it. Processing your work in a different way can give you ideas about what to write in a new stanza or help you to edit a section of an existing part of it.  Start With Structure  When it comes to writing a poem, a good place to start is with the structure. Decide whether you want to write a poem with a strict form (a villanelle that has a predetermined rhyme scheme and length) or whether you want to start with a free writing session that ends up as a poem written in free verse. It really helps to know what kind of writer you are. Do you find restrictions helpful, because they focus your ideas and give you clear boundaries? Or do you find them confining, and feel that more freedom enables you to think more creatively? Regardless of your answer, knowing the extent to which form and structure can help you provides you with a rough idea of what your poem will look like, which means you can then start to focus in a little more on the specifics. You could even start with a great title which you came up with (finding a strong title is often very difficult, so if this is the case, congrats!) and build the poem from there.  Start With Your Content  In poetry, as with all kinds of writing, the main content and message are key. Therefore, starting with the content of your poem can be helpful. Often, if you’re eager to write a poem it’s because you have a topic in mind. Maybe you want to write an ode to a loved one, process and express your feelings, or write about a current topic/event. If you already have a topic in mind, just start writing! You can always edit it later, and at least you’ve got something to work from. If you have no idea what you want to write about, fear not! You could do a short timed free write, and just see what comes up. If any lines or phrases stand out to you, use them as a starting point. Alternatively, you could use one of our poetry prompts to help you get started.  Seek Inspiration  If you’ve written poetry before, and find yourself feeling stagnant, or if you want to try something new, then seeking external inspiration is great. Read interviews from poets you admire or read lots of poems you like. Your inspiration doesn’t even need to come from the world of poetry. You could hear an interesting line from the song playing on the radio or watch an exchange between characters on a TV show which intrigues you. Be open to receiving ideas, wherever they might come from. You could even write a poem with a friend, and exchange alternate lines back and forth.  Edit!  The hardest part of writing a poem, as with many things, is getting started. Once you’ve chosen your form, decided what your poem will be about, or chosen a prompt, just start writing until you reach a natural endpoint. Or until your hand starts to cramp, and your eyes get tired. Which is a natural endpoint too. Then, once you’ve rested, it’s time to edit. People often think of editing as checking spelling, punctuation, and grammar. While those things are all important too, with poetry you can really have fun with the editing process. Move the first stanza so that it becomes the final stanza. How does that change the pacing, the message, the mood? If it doesn’t work, move it back. You could adjust the rhyme scheme by adding or subtracting words. You could even try erasure poetry, where you cross/black out words, lines, or whole stanzas, creating a new, sparser poem from what’s leftover. Regardless of the outcome, keep focusing on the joy you get out of writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect; no one has to read it if you don’t want them to, and it doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize level writing for you to consider yourself a poet. Keep moving things around and changing things until you are happy with how your poem ends up. Though, as Paul Valéry said, “a poem is never finished; it’s always an accident that puts a stop to it- i.e., gives it to the public.”  Writing Poetry  When it comes to writing a poem, you can do it however you want to. The most important thing is that you enjoy it and find it interesting. There are so many distinctive styles and forms of poetry, and numerous ways in which it can be shared (spoken word performances, audio recordings, and in classic print). So there truly is something for everyone. But if you’re struggling with where to start, or want a refresher on the key components of poetry, I hope this article is helpful. And remember, you don’t have to write using a quill and scroll to be deemed a poet. Though it may be more fun than using a laptop.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.   

C.A. Lupton: The Ultimate Novel Writing Course and Beyond

Author C.A. Lupton joined us as a student on the Ultimate Novel Writing Course in 2019. Fast-forward to 2022, and her debut novel has just been published by The Book Guild, through a hybrid publishing model. Here\'s how she went from first draft to published book. Having spent many years in academia, I was no stranger to writing for a living: publish, or be damned, was the nature of the game. When I subsequently joined the civil service, I had to learn a very different kind of writing (even down to the font of choice: goodbye the ‘gravitas’ of Times Roman; hello unfussy Arial). Writing was now driven by the need to communicate clearly, concisely (and back-coveringly) with even the dimmest Secretary of State. Finally freed from the linguistic constraints of either setting, I was confident that writing a work of pure fiction would be relatively easy.  Starting out, I was very clear what kind of book I wanted to write, being a long-standing admirer of speculative fiction; and I knew what I wanted to write about: the clear and present dangers of human genetic modification. As a social scientist, I found the task of building a near-future world enjoyably easy, but it soon became obvious how little I knew about other key aspects of the writing craft such as characterisation, dialogue, plotting and, perhaps especially, ‘voice’. I realised I had to forget much of what I thought I knew and get back to the drawing board.   Finding what works To this end, I signed up for the Jericho Writers’ Ultimate Novel Writing Course (UNWC) in 2019 and this proved to be one of the best decisions of my writing career. I received an in-depth, professional assessment of the first draft of the novel, identifying the main areas of weakness and setting out specific ways in which these could be addressed. Encouragingly for a novice author, areas of relative strength were also noted and, for the first time I got a sense that the book might just work. Drawing heavily on the accompanying course materials, and with the sustained encouragement of my tutor, I completed a further, much improved, version of the text.  I signed up for the Jericho Writers’ Ultimate Novel Writing Course (UNWC) in 2019 and this proved to be one of the best decisions of my writing career. Over the following year, I submitted the revised manuscript to innumerable agents, experiencing one or two ‘near misses’, but mostly getting the standard ‘much to admire, but not right for me’ kind of reply. Feedback from the one-to-one agent sessions at the Jericho Writers’ Festival of Writing proved rather more helpful, and I had one promising ‘close encounter’ that in the end came to nothing when it became clear the agent wanted a very different book from the one I wanted to write.  By the start of 2021 I was becoming increasingly despondent; emotionally buffeted by the endless rejections and frustrated by the time the whole process was taking. Determined on a trilogy, I simply couldn’t afford to waste another year on unrequited advances to agents. Self-publishing was the obvious solution, but the more I listened to the excellent Jericho Writers sessions on the topic, the more I realised I did not have the skills, or inclination, to pursue that route effectively. A third way was needed!  The third route So, I began to search for publishers willing to accept direct submissions - a process not assisted by the fact that several of the most promising-looking indies had ceased, or greatly reduced, their operation due to the pandemic. It quickly became clear that there were (are) many sharks operating in the profitable ‘author services’ arena, who will tell you they love your baby and, for a considerable sum, will help you take it to market. I felt I was at risk of sailing too close to vanity publishing waters; a place where a defenceless baby would almost certainly sink without trace (or regard). What I needed was a publisher who accepted agent-less authors but was selective about what it took on.   With the help of the ‘Self-Publishing Services Directory’, produced by the Alliance of Independent Authors (AIA), I identified a small number of publishers who were judged to offer services that were fair, ethical and of good value, and eventually decided on the UK-based Troubadour. This long-established company had an ‘excellent partner’ rating from the AIA and offered three publishing routes: ‘traditional’ and ‘hybrid’ (both, to differing degrees, selective) as well as a ‘self-publish’ option (under Matador). My submission was reviewed by two people and I was offered a ‘partnership’ arrangement on what I considered relatively good terms for an un-agented, novice author.   What I needed was a publisher who accepted agent-less authors but was selective about what it took on. In short, the deal was that I would pay a proportion of the production cost (comparable to what a self-pubber could end up spending on cover design, line/copy edits, marketing, etc) but receive a much higher royalty rate than would obtain on a fully traditional publishing pathway. Should the initial print run sell out, the publisher would bear the full cost of a reprint but would not demand the first refusal on the next book. Most importantly for someone without a social media presence - and absolutely no desire to establish one - I would benefit from the sales, marketing and PR expertise of a large and experienced industry player. Floating or sinking The book went to market on time, actively and, as far as I can tell, effectively, supported by a marketing manager, a production manager, an eBook sales manager and a customer support manager! Would I have written a better book if I had secured an agent? Very probably - although much would depend on the skills of the agent and my relative (un)importance in their scheme of things - and the book would definitely have a greater market impact if it was published (and selected for promotion) by one of the ‘big five’ or genre-specialist indies. But my hybrid route has given me a chance to get my foot in a door that was otherwise proving stubbornly shut.  My hybrid route has given me a chance to get my foot in a door that was otherwise proving stubbornly shut. It may be that my literary baby still sinks without trace, and it may be that the hybrid option will not work for many. But for me the alternatives were unthinkable: to spend precious time in a (likely) fruitless fish for agents or to delay the start of the second book in order to develop the skills and strategies of a successful self-publisher. So big thanks to Troubadour, and big thanks also to the fabulous folks at Jericho Writers without whose support and encouragement - and smorgasbord of excellent learning materials - Red Dirt Girl would almost certainly never have seen the light of day.  About C.A. Lupton C.A. Lupton spent all her working life in the health sciences, initially in a university research unit and later as a research commissioner for the UK Department of Health. She has now retired from paid work and lives by the sea with her family. Buy \'Red Dirt Girl\' here. Could you be our next success story? We are currently accepting applications for the Ultimate Novel Writing Course, Summer 2022/23. If you have a novel idea or a first draft you\'re willing to work on, we\'d love to hear from you. UNWC Summer 2022/23 Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Karen Menuhin On Self-Publishing Her Way To A Top Amazon Spot

When Karen Menuhin ventured into self-publishing with her debut, Murder at Melrose Court, she didn\'t know what to expect. She\'s since published seven books in The Heathcliff Lennox series as eBooks, paperback and audio, and made it to #1 on Amazon in the USA. In this interview, we\'ll hear about where she began and the realities of having a career as a self-published author. I started writing in 2018. My husband had just completed his autobiography, but his publisher had gone bust part-way through the process and we didn’t know where to turn. I\'d read about self-publishing in the newspapers, so volunteered to find out how to do it. Once I figured out the basics, I realised the opportunities it offered. The daunting barriers of the traditional publishing world had been removed, and I\'d always loved books and stories - so I thought \'why not give writing a try?\' I was 60 years old with nothing to lose... so I set about writing a book. I had tremendous fun developing the story and characters; Murder at Melrose Court wasn\'t meant to be particularly funny, but I think there\'s quite a lot of humour in it simply because I enjoyed writing it so much. The daunting barriers of the traditional publishing world had been removed. I joined Jericho Writers early in the process, so it hadn\'t taken me long to realise I knew next to nothing about the nitty-gritty of self-publishing or writing a novel. I read everything I could find on the site, watched the \'how to\' videos, and listened to lectures. Once I\'d completed the book and uploaded it to Amazon, with the correct files and cover and all the details you have to add (categories, keywords, ISBNs and the rest), I had to think about how to bring the book to the attention of readers. Taking the plunge into self-pub Someone in the Jericho Writers community had posted that they\'d given away their debut novel free for two days. This seemed like a good idea to me, and it didn\'t cost a bean, so that\'s what I did. On December 3rd, 2018 I pressed \'go\' or whatever it was, and the book went live. 1,100 ebooks were given away in 2 days. I was dismayed that so many books had been snapped up - I thought there would be nobody left prepared to pay for it. I was wrong. \'Murder at Melrose Court\' has since sold hundreds of thousands of copies, for which I\'m eternally grateful. 1,100 ebooks were given away in 2 days... I thought there would be nobody left prepared to pay for it. I was wrong. It was by no means an effortless ride, though. A few months after \'Melrose\' was published I noticed sales falling away quite dramatically. I realised that I\'d have to learn about marketing. I turned again to Jericho Writers and attended a one-day seminar in London run by Harry Bingham and David Gaughran, along with the wonderful Rachel Abbott (a true heroine of the self-publishing world). I took copious notes about Facebook adverts and Amazon ads and heard about Bookbub, then went home to digest the information. Marketing is a costly and time-consuming process, it\'s probably the biggest burden of the self-publisher, and it\'s essential to get it right. I can\'t say I\'ve ever really got to grips with it. My eldest son, Jonathan, took an interest in it and now runs it for me. Without that support, my writing time would be slowed to about half of what it is now. That doesn\'t mean I\'m absolved from the day-to-day business of self-publishing - there are still 101 other jobs to do. Admin, correspondence, liaising and directing proofreading, editing, graphics, formatting, social media and promotions and a great deal more than I want to think about. It\'s added a new dimension to our lives and a few extra pressures. My dear husband, Krov, was a documentary filmmaker. He understands the sacrifices and helps in every way he can. He carries out a lot of research for me, reads every chapter, discusses plots, and is encyclopaedic on weapons due to his military background. It\'s added a new dimension to our lives and a few extra pressures. I\'ve just published my 7th book in the Heathcliff Lennox series and have started on number 8. I thought I\'d be retiring in my 60s, but I\'m working harder than ever. It has its rewards though. I bought Krov a beautiful used Maserati Quattroporte for his 80th birthday, we drive around Europe discussing means of murder with our dog and cat in the back. Life is to be lived. Audio - a crucial format The audible version of Murder at Melrose Court was number 1 in the USA in July 2021. The narrator, Sam Dewhurst-Phillips, is superb. He acts all the different parts and brings the books to life, so the quality of his work is essential to the success of the audiobooks. I hadn\'t initially been convinced by audiobooks, but the market has grown exponentially and is now over a third of my sales. Having your book narrated is not a difficult process. It\'s all explained on ACX (the audible arm of Amazon) and is easy to follow. The reality of self-publishing If asked what the crucial factor to successful self-publishing is, I\'d say it was writing good books. There\'s no other criteria than that, although dogged determination probably helps too. There are definitely pros and cons to self-publishing. The downside is the responsibility – everything rests on you. The upside is the control; I\'m not answerable to anyone, and I get to keep all my own income (after extensive costs, of course). I think the best aspect of writing is sharing the stories with readers. My books are murder mysteries so they\'re effectively puzzles and I challenge the reader to solve them – it\'s a sort of game between us. They write to me, telling me if they worked it out, or not and if they enjoyed the stories - usually, they do. It\'s very satisfying and inclusive, and I really enjoy being a part of it. If you’d like some help with your writing, try our copy-editing service. About Karen Karen Menuhin is the number 1 bestselling author of The Heathcliff Lennox series. Having grown up in the military, she has lived an itinerant life and is often on the move. She has two sons and lives with her dog, her cat, and her husband, Krov, who is ex-US Special Forces and a documentary filmmaker. Visit Karen\'s website Find her on Facebook Buy her books on Amazon UK Or on Amazon US.

Tips For Authors Getting Headshots

You\'ve finally finished your book! After months of writing, followed by toing and froing with your beta readers and editor, the book is ready to go to print. But just as you\'re thinking of jetting away somewhere hot and having a much-deserved rest, your publisher (or Amazon Central) asks you for an author headshot.   You could give them that photo of you at your cousin\'s wedding, or the one work took for their website. Right?   Wrong.   In this guide, I\'ll be explaining how author headshots function, why having the perfect one matters, and I\'ll show you how to organise a professional photoshoot, get the right look, and make the best use of the result. I’ll also link to some real-life author headshot examples. The Importance Of Author Headshots Like any aspect of self-branding, the writer headshot should never be overlooked. However open-minded we like to think of ourselves, people make snap decisions about each other and what they have to offer based on what they look like. This also holds just as true for an author on the back of a book, as well as people we meet face to face.   This is both bad news and good. While a poor author portrait could put potential readers off your work, a good one can do the opposite. It\'s an excellent opportunity to communicate your genre, tone, and style. And it\'s in your control!  This is why it makes sense to invest time and money hiring a professional photographer for a photoshoot (unless you have a generous friend in the business who will do you a favour, or you’re exceptionally good at selfies and have a well-lit studio at home).  So where do you start?  Author Headshot Tips Find The Right Photographer  Traditional publishers will occasionally arrange author headshots themselves. Usually, however, it is left to you to choose a good local photographer. Make sure you follow any specific instructions from your publishing house – and if you\'ve collaborated with somebody else on this book, you will both need your own photo.   The ideal photographer will have taken this kind of portrait before, and they should be able to show you some of their previous work to help you decide. Take a look at the photographer’s online portfolio or check out the name of photographers that took author headshots you like from other local writers.  Are They Right For You? Choosing a photographer may not be a life-long commitment, but you are paying them to take photos that will be defining you as an author – not to mention spending a morning or afternoon with them. It’s important you feel comfortable around them. Meet them first to discuss your requirements or have a quick Zoom call to get an idea if you will work well together (after all, you may need more photos in the future). If you’re not happy, walk away. The more comfortable your photographer makes you feel, the better the results will be.  Calculate The Best Package For Your Budget Author headshots can cost thousands of pounds or dollars. However, the average cost is between £100 and £150 (US$100 and $250). Location shoots with multiple looks and outfit changes are likely to cost more than straightforward studio shots in front of a single background.  Confirm the price and what to expect within the package. Ideally, you want to own the images you choose (the alternative is paying a licence fee every time you use one). Find out whether you will need to pay for each photo separately or if the photographer will give you all the images in a digital file.   You may want your photos retouched to remove blemishes (dark circles under the eyes, for instance). The need for this may only become obvious after the shoot and add to the cost as it’s not always included. So be prepared for that.  Create A Good Brief  Decide the impression you want to make with the headshots and communicate this clearly to your photographer. What do you need to consider?  Research your competition To get an idea of what style of author portrait photo is right for you, look online at the Amazon pages and websites of other writers in your genre for inspiration.   What are you trying to get across in your author portrait? Are you fun and lively, or moody and dark? Is your work serious literary fiction, or do you write light and fun rom coms? The photos on the website of a picture book author will be very different from the one Ian Rankin uses for his crime books, for example.   Black-and-white or colour?  While black-and-white works well for high-brow literary types, most commercial authors choose colour. A traditional publisher may make this decision for you. The average release from Galley Beggar press wins at least one literary award, so it\'s no surprise the author photos on their website are all in monochrome. But bear in mind, if you wish to use the same photo for press, many magazines ask for a colour photo. Some writers use a number of images from the same shoot for various things.  Location, Setting, And Background The focus of the headshot should always be on the author\'s face. Thus, many writers use a plain studio background, particularly for online stores like Amazon. However, others use an appropriate setting, hoping it will help communicate their brand.   Mary Berry, famous cookery book writer and presenter of The Great British Bake Off, stands in a white kitchen for her author portrait. Robert Thorogood’s photo is in front of Marlow, the UK setting for his new cosy crime series. Cathy Cassidy, a Young Adult writer, is pictured in the back of a VW campervan.   The dark red wall behind Rory Sutherland’s Twitter profile, clashes with the bright red jacket he’s wearing. The overall effect is unexpected for a business guru, yet his latest release \'Alchemy\' has the tagline, \'The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of Mind-numbing Conformity.\' He’s not trying to be corporate.   Plain studio shots work particularly well for serious black-and-white photos. But remember, an entirely plain white background flatters very few people.  Image Styling: Be Yourself If I was being entirely myself in a writer headshot, I wouldn\'t brush my hair. That kind of honesty, however, would probably stop me selling books.   I\'m not suggesting you lie about who you are, but it’s important to project how you wish to be perceived. Think of yourself as the main character in a book about your writing career. What does this person wear? What expression and mannerisms do they use? Are they business-like, fun, or very serious?  Outfit Even authors going for ‘zany’ should keep their outfits as simple as they can. The safest plan is to wear one or two layers of plain clothing with an open collar. Busy patterns will detract from your face, as will too much jewellery. (The shy may see that as a good thing, but it isn\'t).  Period costumes may well suggest historical romance, but they will detract from the author’s face – and it’s important that your readers (and the press) know what you look like. Period romance author, Evie Dunmore, gets it right. Her outfit suggests a Victorian or Edwardian woman by wearing three simple items - a lace top, a wide-brimmed hat, and a pearl ornament in her hair. Not quite fancy dress, but enough of a nod to her genre.  Different make-up and clothes will look better in colour or black-and-white. If you\'re not sure which will work best, play around with both looks. You can always ask to have more than one photo taken at the shoot, but as discussed, this will increase time and possibly cost. Save time and money by taking selfies at home and asking friends and family what they think suits you best. Hairstyle This is probably not the time for a radical new hairstyle unless you\'re given to eye-catching changes. Ideally, you want readers to be able to recognise you at author events. Even if you don\'t think you’ll attend real-life book signings, you may want to appear online in a Facebook live, for instance. So if you\'re usually blonde and wear your hair back in a ponytail, do that. Now is not the time to try out a bright pink beehive. Lighting If the shoot is outside, the photographer will probably make the most of the natural light. Depending on the time of day this may be warm, soft, and flattering light. Let them decide the best time of day to achieve the look you are going for. For instance, during the late morning or early afternoon, there\'s usually a yellow light with few harsh shadows. And the ‘golden hour’, the period just after sunrise or before sunset, gives a red light and softer look.   Wherever the shoot, light on the face makes you look fresher and more approachable, a good thing for almost every author. If you write crime or horror, an arty portrait with your face in shadow may seem like a good idea. Take care, however. You don’t want to be confused with one of your villains! Practice Your Pose Body language matters, and so does being relaxed in front of a camera. This is the time where the mirror is your friend.   Choose a pose that feels natural. Don\'t force a smile or anything that doesn\'t feel right. If you\'re not comfortable, it will come across in your photos.   Consider if you\'re going to have your hands in the picture and what you can do with them to add to your message. For example, you could rest your chin and hands on a flat surface for an informal feel. Or hold your chin to look like a professional with good advice. Some authors cross their arms, but remember that depending on your genre this can look defensive and may make you look unapproachable.  Again, take a look at what other authors are doing. Some writers opt for the close up to be framed so no arms make it into the shot (a lot less pressure). Props You could also think about using an appropriate prop (and whether it would make you more or less comfortable during the shoot). Perhaps, you could hold your own book, or the Golden Dagger you were awarded last year. Again, the emphasis should be on you, so keep it simple and avoid cliché. Only use a prop if it will add to your overall message.   Also bear in mind whether this photo is just for one book, or you want it to be used for a number of years. It doesn’t always help to use a photo of you holding up your debut when five books down the line you are known for a lot more.  Rest Before The Shoot A photoshoot may seem like a largely passive activity, but how you feel on the day will affect how you look and come across on camera. Avoid those dark under-eye circles by drinking plenty of water and getting a good night\'s sleep beforehand.  Look Directly At The Camera Many headshots break this rule, but it helps create a sense of connection with the viewer. Again, ask yourself if you want to come across as a whimsical, mysterious writer or direct and approachable.  Be Relaxed The photographer will do their best to put you at ease, but there are also practical things you can do to help yourself on the day.   Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the shoot, so you\'re not rushing.   Remind yourself that however badly it turns out, your author headshot is nowhere near as important as writing a good book. And the photographer will take lots of photos, so you can always discard those you hate at the end. If it puts your mind at rest, ask to take a look at the first few shots to see if they are working.  And, going back to acting like a character in your own book, if it helps hide behind your new persona. Yesterday you were a nervous introverted debut writer, but today you are a famous author - cool, calm, and collected.  Listen To Your Photographer They should be able to guide you to an author headshot that works. If they say that a certain pose works best, listen to them. Take direction. They know what works.  Ask For Black-And-White Copies Of Your Colour Photos This increases your choice later on. You can convert the photos digitally yourself, but it’s usually better done by a professional.   Select The Right Images You may be tempted to choose the image that makes you look fifteen years younger or like a supermodel - but the best author headshot is the one that conveys the right message and reinforces your \'brand\'.   Ask other people to tell you honestly what they think, especially if they read the genre you write. Why not enlist the help of your followers on social media or your publisher’s publicity department? This can be a fun way to connect with readers and see yourself through their eyes.  Use The Same Photo Across All Of Social Media Consistency is key when it comes to self-branding. Whatever image you choose to use on your website or the back of the print book, use the same photo across online stores and social media. This will make it easier for readers to recognise you as the same person and, hopefully, increase your number of follows.  But, like most rules, some are made to be broken. Picture book author, Julia Donaldson, uses a headshot with a plain studio background for her Amazon page but she’s surrounded by soft toy versions of her characters on her website. There’s a particularly good photo of her reading to the Gruffalo.   So, if your Linked In profile is serious and you are using it to connect to the industry to sell them a self-help book you are pitching – perhaps don’t use the same sultry image of yourself that appears on the website of your raunchy erotica series.  Keep Your Photos Up-To-Date Whatever the temptation to stay eternally young in your reader\'s minds, you should upload a new book author headshot every two to three years – especially if you change genre or publisher. As your career evolves, so should your photos. To Summarise… All in all, preparing for the perfect author portrait shoot is simple.  Hire a professional, brief them well, prepare your look and setting beforehand, and relax during the shoot. If you follow this advice, you should have a great headshot to add to the rest of your marketing package.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

A Writer’s Guide to Inclusive Language

A Writer\'s Guide to Inclusive Language Disappearing into a great book can be a transformative experience - a form of escapism and an expansion of your understanding.   When I’m diving into the world constructed by a creative author, I want to feel as though I belong in that world. Reading inclusive language is one of the ways in which all readers can feel connected to a story.   So how can you ensure you don’t exclude any of your readers and you help them feel seen?   Firstly, ask yourself this simple question…  Why Are You Writing This Particular Story? We all possess an unconscious bias, and no matter how hard we fight it those hidden prejudices can be projected on to our work. Before we begin exploring inclusive language, ask yourself these questions:   Am I writing about what I know? Is the person’s identity, socio-economic status, race, and age relevant to the plot? Is this my story to tell, or would it be better told by someone who has lived this experience?  If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’ and you still want to write this story, we strongly suggest you do your research and work with critique partners/beta readers/sensitivity readers who have lived the life you are writing. This will not only strengthen the realism of your work, but it will grant you more respect when it comes to pitching your novel to agents or editors.  As society changes, we need to remember our readers and their expectations change too. So, let’s look at how to write inclusive stories…   What is Inclusive Language? Inclusive Language Definition: Inclusion is the practice of fostering a sense of belonging, by including many perspectives, imagining a diverse audience, a multiplicity of ideals, values, and experiences. Inclusive language is how authors show that they recognise their readers, whoever they are, and that they are welcome.   Many people who belong to marginalised communities yearn to see and read about well-rounded, authentic, and diverse characters who are empowered. Characters with independent purpose in narratives, and therefore given the ability to make meaningful change.  Inclusive language isn’t just the description of appearance or using appropriate pronouns; it’s also the use of language to portray power, interest, and direction. It directly addresses the violence of racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, transphobia, islamophobia, anti-semitism, homophobia, and heteronormativity. Use of inclusive language also avoids direct discrimination, implicit and unconscious biases, and other forms of prejudice.   By practising inclusive writing, you will become highly aware of the language that has been used to communicate exclusion, bias, and hate. In order to appeal to ever-evolving audiences, it’s vital to be aware of out of date language, words, and descriptions, as well as those that have always been intended to cause offense.   Why Use Inclusive Language?  Inclusive language is important because it means you are thinking about your most vulnerable and marginalised readers. It’s important for us all to identify where our writing style inadvertently includes out-dated, offensive terms and work toward eliminating these – because we can’t expect our readers to sift through our work to find the good stuff.   So many people experience the world through the writing of others, whether it’s in museum text, film, TV, literature; representation matters to everyone. Limited representations and stereotypes of people in our society does not just harm those who are misrepresented or erased, it harms all whose imagination is limited and keeps their worldview small.   What Does Inclusive Language Look Like? Power and agency are vital when considering your diverse characters. They must have autonomous, developed identities (so not just sidekicks or plot devices) who participate actively in the story and world.  As experiences of marginalisation and exclusion differ across identities here are a few ideas and examples to consider for your writing. Parents and Pregnancy For many authors creating character profiles is a useful starting point when developing family dynamics.   When writing inclusively you should be aware of:  Hetronormative family structures. Heterosexual romantic relationship(s) don’t have to be central to the familial history and structure.  Gender norms as affecting roles taken by parental figures (the mother doesn’t have to do all the cooking, the father doesn’t have to be great at DIY). Assumptions of the nuclear family with two parents and one or more child. These erase polyamorous and blended families and is a western ideal that doesn\'t often include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and multi-generational households as the core familial structure.  Language matters – use toughen up instead of man up, homemaker instead of housewife, husband and wife instead of man and wife.  This doesn’t mean you can’t have a family that is made up of a married female mum, male dad, and 2.4 kids – it simply means that society doesn’t only look that way. It’s important to reflect reality in your work, as long as it doesn’t feel forced, gratuitous, or irrelevant.  A book that explored the idea of family in an inclusive way is Candice Carty-Williams’s 2019 novel Queenie. The titular character’s family is central to her narrative and their history unfolds throughout the story with the family dynamic driving the narrative. Queenie’s family is her grandmother, grandfather, her aunt, cousin and her mother; as well as the family she creates in her ‘corgis’. The relationships feel authentic and complex - their dynamic is a natural part of the texture of the world.   Gender and Sexual Orientation It’s essential to use inclusive language when exploring gender experiences as well as experiences of sexuality across the spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ communities.   This acronym is used to capture a wide spectrum of experiences, not just those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. The first three letters (LGB) refer to sexual orientation. The \'T\' refers to transgender, and so to gender identity. The “Q” stands for Questioning or Queer, the “I” for Intersexual and the “A” for Asexual.   Regardless of your own sexual preferences, remember the world is made up of many people with many different outlooks and lifestyles.  This also applies to unconscious bias when it comes to gender roles and what it means to be ‘male’ or ‘female’. Think about non-sexist language such as:   Gender binaries and gender-neutral language (the idea that you have to be either male or female). Framing around gendered appearances (e.g. describing someone as girlie or a tom boy).The effects of patriarchal assumptions that make it seem necessary to use ‘female’ as an adjective with professions that have assumptions of a male standard e.g. doctor or scientist. Toxic masculinity that equates being a man to being tough and unemotional - and femininity to being submissive and sexualized or viewed with the male gaze to satisfy unrealistic fantasies.   Language matters - use gay instead of homo, sexual preference instead of sexuality, trans person instead of transvestite, humankind instead of mankind.  The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett discusses gender (and race) in an intimate manner. Reese and Jude’s relationship unfolds as a sweet experience of connection and insecurity of two marginalised people. Reese’s identity as a trans man is established early and his pronouns established and used consistently then on, with none of the narrative based on speculating on his gender. In fact it is society’s gender assumptions that become absurd, and painful when viewed from the perspective of a couple that sit outside of this. Social Inclusion Poverty and social exclusion are often overlooked when writing inclusively. The language used to refer to people of low socioeconomic status can strengthen negative stereotypes upheld by society, without exploring the systemic inequalities that create poverty and social exclusion in the first place.   Things to keep in mind:  Consider talking about people’s socio-economic status rather than class.  Describing people as survivors rather than victims addresses the idea of agency and power inherent in inclusive writing.Describing people as poor or areas as ghettos, is offensive and dismissive, assigning value only to financial and material assets.   In fact, if you show (not tell) your reader what your characters\' lives are like you won’t need to refer to the words poor, low class, or slums.  Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood describes the reality of living in a community that had been ghettoised by systematic exclusion and discrimination in Apartheid South Africa. The characters in his narrative are interesting and complex, not limited by stereotypical victim narratives, simply people who have to live in an excluded society. Disability When writing about the experience of disabilities it’s important to acknowledge the vastness of what is understood as a disability. As mentioned previously, if disability is not your lived experience, then work with those who can advise you.    Things to consider:  Assumptions about what a disability looks like can result in invisible illnesses and mental health conditions being treated with scepticism and mistrust.  Framing of disability as something strange encourages tropes of disabled villains. Such as where disfigurement and scarring are used to signal wickedness (the James Bond franchise has been under fire for this recently); or mental health or childhood trauma is used to create a backstory that explains violent characteristics. These are dangerous and hurtful tropes with real-life impact.   The ‘othering’ of disabilities detaches these experiences from our understanding of ‘normal’ experiences in society and supports social exclusion - despite the fact that 15% of the world’s population openly identifies as having a disability.   Language matters - wheelchair bound implies a wheelchair traps its user, whereas wheelchair user articulates that their mobility aid provides freedom and greater access to its user.  With mental health, the words mental, crazy, unhinged, unpredictable etc are biased and harmful (unless purposely used in dialogue to represent a character’s own views). Describe their characteristics without using words that are biased and rooted in ridicule or fear.  Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals explores the nuance of dealing will long-term illness and disability, along with Black feminist theory, delivered through poetry and essays.   Race and Ethnicity Race is a social construct, but racism is a reality that affects us all.   Ethnic diversity is often what people refer to when discussing racial differences; ethnicity is a mix of inherited features and shared cultures. It’s distinct from nationality, which is a legal status that assigns a person to the laws of a state or nation, as well as affords them protection by this state.   Many readers will have, at some point, read ‘classic’ narratives with no ethnic diversity, or tokenistic and stereotypical representations (for instance, the language used in the much-loved classic, The Secret Garden, would not be acceptable today).   When considering ethnicity in characters, remember it’s not always vital to describe the skin colour or nationality of your character through physical descriptions (you can allude to heritage via their name or setting, or simply let readers decide what they look like).   If you must describe them, consider:  Our world is ethnically diverse, so your literary worlds should be thoughtfully described without dipping in to fetishized language focusing on features in an overt and uncomfortable way. When describing someone there’s no need to isolate body parts like lips or genitals, or describe skin tones using food.   The Diversity Guide is a great source of reference for inclusive language examples.  Language matters - use uppercase ‘B’ in the word ‘Black’ when referring to race, ethnicity or cultural background, and lower case for the colour ‘black’.   An excellent example of inclusive writing around ethnicity is N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy. Though set in a fantasy world where racial identities do not correlate to our own, the character’s physical descriptions are detailed and rich enough that readers experience a varied cast of characters that are ethnically diverse, nuanced, and relatable.   Age I will end by exploring writing inclusively about age, which is essential as all our identities are filtered by age. For instance, referencing age can provide a restrictive lens that may ascribe ignorance and beauty to youth, and cynicism and wisdom to the elderly.  Ageism affects people regardless of how old they are. Consider these intersections to help challenge stereotypes:  Ageism with gender assumptions, around pregnancy and desires for pregnancy. Is every woman over thirty desperate for children?Ageism combined with racism brings forth particular stereotypes and harmful assumptions (e.g. Black youths vs Black elders).  Ageism combined with disability can bring to light an array of pre-conceived prejudice. The erasure of LGBTQIA+ elders support an idea that these communities are new in society without longevity and legacy.  Language matters – although the terms old fart, little old lady, bitter old man and old hag are often used in jest, they are still insulting (unless they’re included in a character’s dialogue to reflect their own bias).   For a great example of how to change a reader’s perception of age, Jonas Jonasson’s novel, The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, is a refreshing narrative from the perspective of an older protagonist that actively challenges the limited expectations of older characters, instead highlighting how all the experiences of his life created accumulated knowledge and perspectives that furthered his narrative and creative possibilities. Evolution of Language Bear in mind that movements to reclaim language that’s historically been used to offend, by those who these words were used against, is rising.   Exploration around ‘crip culture’ reclaiming the word ‘cripple,’ or movements within the LGBT+ communities to reclaim the term ‘queer,’ are very interesting elements of inclusive practice that explore the complexity of power and positionality.   However, these remain problematic for most writers unless they have lived that experience and have a very good reason to use self-deprecating language.  The reclaimed language, among other debates and advocacies based on marginalised people telling their own stories, can and should be explored further by following the #OwnVoices hashtag (created by author Corinne Duyvis). Other related community discussions and campaigns, such as the We Need Diverse Books campaign, are worth researching.   But please, don’t ask someone else to educate you. If you want to run ideas past someone, hire (that means pay) a sensitivity reader.  Champion Inclusivity If your intention is to create a greater sense of belonging, a richer and more complicated world that feels relevant with open possibilities, then it is always worth expanding your practice and considering the impact of the words you choose and the inclusivity of your text. We don’t always get it right, but it’s important to try.  Because I believe there’s a reflexive relationship between inclusive language and inclusive society. As writers it’s our job to be aware of exclusions in society, to consider the agency in the characters we create, and to help move the world forward through the literary worlds we build.   And remember, if all of this appears to be too difficult or unnecessary – maybe your story isn’t yours to tell. Draw from your own experiences. Bring your readers into your world, and in turn help them feel seen.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

The Different Genres Of Nonfiction: A Complete Guide

So, you have decided you want to write a nonfiction book, but what’s next?  While some readers may lump all nonfiction books into one category, authors should understand there are numerous genres that nonfiction falls into. Nonfiction genres are not one-size-fits-all and determining which area your book belongs is important when pitching, selling and promoting! In this article, I will be walking you through these various genres along with nonfiction examples to help you correctly label your book. What Is Nonfiction? Nonfiction is any literary work that is fact-based, intended to present true events and information as accurately as possible. Fiction, on the other hand, refers to narratives that are drawn from the imagination. Nonfiction books focus on what is real. While narrative nonfiction is presented as a story versus expository nonfiction being more explanatory, both are still devoted to informing readers of the facts. These include books such as, Becoming by Michelle Obama, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Narrative nonfiction is also sometimes referred to as creative nonfiction. Writing a book of any kind is a form of creative writing as it requires you to write in as skilfully and engaging a manner as you can while also utilising and experimenting with form. While traditional nonfiction (textbooks, instruction manuals etc) must be laid out in a specific way and written in a certain tone, this is certainly not the case for all, or even most, nonfiction writing. Nonfiction Genres List Every author knows that making an outline before writing sets the blueprint for your book. But before you can get to that stage, you need to identify your target audience. Determining which genre of nonfiction your book best fits into is the guiding principle you should begin with. For example, if you choose to write historical nonfiction your audience, word count, and formatting will be completely different than for an academic text. Understanding and selecting the best nonfiction genre is crucial to success. Let’s look at the most popular genres in nonfiction… History History nonfiction writing involves recounting a historical event or specific time period. While authors can frame how the information is presented, all information presented in history nonfiction must be verifiable, factual, and historically accurate. An example of a popular historical nonfiction book is Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. The work presents the story of the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine in April 1986. Biographies And Autobiographies Both biographies and autobiographies focus on retelling a life story, but the two genres are different. Autobiographies are written about and by the author. Biographies are third-person narratives, where the author tells someone else’s story (while still remaining accurate and factual). Unlike autobiographies, the subject of the story can be living or dead when writing biographies. One of the most famous autobiographies is Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Memoirs A memoir tells readers about significant moments in the life of the author. Memoirs are sometimes confused with autobiographies since they are both written from the same perspective. However, what differentiates the two is that memoirs may be written about a shorter period of time, such as a specific event or experience in the writer’s life. Examples of memoirs include The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. Travel Writing Travel writing is a nonfiction genre with several of its own subgenres. Travelogues are sometimes called travel memoirs, where the author discusses personal travel experiences. Travel guides are another form of travel nonfiction, providing information about destinations and reviews. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of the most well-known travel memoirs, with a critically acclaimed film adaptation. A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal by Anthony Bourdain, is another great example, focusing on the late Bourdain’s travels across the globe and culinary experiences. When it comes to travel guides, Arthur Frommer, Eugene Fodor, and Rick Steves are some of the most recognised travel writers. Philosophy Philosophy nonfiction includes exploring topics like the purpose of life, ethics, and a deeper understanding of humanity. Though the names of traditional philosophers such as Aristotle, Confucius, Plato, and Voltaire might first come to mind, modern writers are changing the landscape. Now, more than ever, the philosophy genre is becoming more accessible, and writers are making their books more digestible to a wider audience. Philosopher Bertrand Russell has written several books in this genre, with The Problems of Philosophy providing a brief glimpse into some of the deepest philosophical questions. What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy by Thomas Nagel, is another accessible option that is meant for beginners. Religion And Spirituality  The religion and spirituality genres are just as broad as the concepts themselves. Authors can choose to write from first-hand experience or focus on teaching about a specific practice. It is also possible to have them as a subgenre, such as self-help books, helping readers on their spiritual journey. Theology, focusing on the systematic study of God and religion, can also fall into this category. A best-selling book in this category is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, where the famous author discusses Christian beliefs and addresses criticisms based on philosophy. Self-Help The self-help genre is surprisingly (or perhaps not!) one of the most popular categories on nonfiction. Here, authors can teach readers anything from new skills, how to manage finance, maintaining happiness, and even parenting or starting a new business. Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business): Finding Our Way to Joy, Love, and Freedom by Tabitha Brown teaches lessons in hope, while Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki is a classic personal finance book. Science Writing about science clearly falls into the nonfiction category, as it is grounded in observation and evidence (not to be confused with science fiction). When writing science nonfiction, authors are required to include reputable references throughout their text and ensure that all studies are thoroughly fact-checked. These books may be a compilation of complex academic research, or they may be condensed and distilled into easier-to-read literary works. The Cosmic Machine: The Science That Runs Our Universe and the Story Behind It by Scott Bembenek is a great example of a book simplifying complex scientific topics for readers. On the other hand, a book that has shaped scientific literature throughout the centuries would be Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Medical The medical genre of nonfiction writing includes books about healthcare, technology, and patient care systems. Another broad genre, authors can write about mental health, clinical conditions, well-being, nutrition, and more. Medical books can also be instructive in nature, highlighting terminology or serving as study guides to medical professionals. Anthony William’s Medical Medium series is an excellent example of just how much this genre can encompass. Psychology Psychology nonfiction books serve a wide range of purposes. Some are more clinical in nature, while others may fall in the self-help category. Authors can help readers understand how the brain works, improve memory function, or even assist with relationship building. An interesting example is The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. The book consists of various cases studies from Sack’s patients that highlight different brain functions. Art The art genre of nonfiction writing largely falls into two categories—writing about actual art, and guiding people on how to create art. For example, a person interested in learning about various artists and their work might read Artists: Their Lives and Works by Ross King. A reader interested in drawing could consider How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students by Catherine V Holmes. Crafting Craft writing teaches readers how to make decorative items by hand. Craft books provide instructions on how to execute these projects and can cover everything from paper flowers to knitting. For example, The Unofficial Book of Cricut Crafts: The Ultimate Guide to Your Electric Cutting Machine by Crystal Allen is very niche, whereas Low-Mess Crafts for Kids: 72 Projects to Create Your Own Magical Worlds by Debbie Chapman targets a much broader market. DIY Do-It-Yourself is another popular nonfiction genre. These books guide people in everything from home plumbing to car maintenance. How to make homemade beauty and haircare products are also popular topics, along with gardening and woodworking. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead by David Toht teaches readers how to make chicken coops, sheds, fences, and also covers gardening. The Martha Manual: How to Do (Almost) Everything by Martha Stewart is a more complete DIY manual that covers a wide range of projects. Photography The photography genre is one of the most popular nonfiction coffee table genres, and is highly influential. Photography books capture moments throughout history in real-time through photographic collections. These may also be instruction books teaching people how to shoot photography. Digital Photography Complete Course: Learn Everything You Need to Know in 20 Weeks by David Taylor is an instructional book, while Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang showcases photographs and more. Gardening Popular nonfiction genres include gardening and plant care. Authors can focus on a particular type of gardening, such as in Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: A Simple Guide to Growing Vegetables at Home by Jill McSheehy. Or the topics can be more general, such as The Complete Gardener’s Guide: The One-Stop Guide to Plan, Sow, Plant, and Grow Your Garden by DK. Food, Drink & Cooking Cuisine is another popular nonfiction genre. Whether you want to write recipes, reviews, or restaurant guidebooks, there are quite a few options with this genre. An example of a recipe book would be Tieghan Gerard’s book (with a very long title), Half Baked Harvest Super Simple: More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Foods: A Cookbook. Whereas Eat Better, Feel Better: My Recipes for Wellness and Healing, Inside and Out by Giada De Laurentiis combines recipes with personal stories. Computers And Software The computers and software genre is quite comprehensive – just think of all the technology we use every day. These books may be about specific software tools such as Microsoft Office or on programming languages such as Java and Python. For example, Upgrading and Repairing PCs by Scott Mueller teaches readers how to troubleshoot and optimize computers while CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide by Mike Myers prepares people for certification. Health And Fitness The sales of health and fitness nonfiction spike in January (no surprise there) and include everything from workout programs and health related guides, to tips on how to achieve certain health goals. Books in the health and fitness realm include, NOT A DIET BOOK: Lose Fat. Gain Confidence.Transform Your Life by James Smith, and The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation by Michael Matthews. Political Science The political science genre can include books that discuss local governments or those that cover politics on a global scale. A couple of examples of political nonfiction include Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright and The Populist Explosion by John B. Judis. Business And Economics Business and economics is a big genre that covers everything from case studies of specific companies to economic theories in practice. Books like Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt gives an overview of economic principles. Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston looks into various corporations and their practices that can make the world a better place. Parenting And Family With millions of parents in the world, parenting and family is a wide-ranging genre. Parenting books might be about teaching kids a new skill, how to balance parenthood and relationships, psychology, and practical guidance. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson is a mix of psychology and advice. Education The education nonfiction genre includes educational theories, practical standards, instructional materials, and topical guides. An example of an education book includes The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System – and How to Fix It by Natalie Wexler. Music Music nonfiction writing can encompass many different areas, including modern-day musical styles or musical history. The books can also be instructional in nature. Two examples of music nonfiction books are How to Read Music in 30 Days: Music Theory for Beginners by Matthew Ellul and Concise History of Western Music by Barbara Russano Hanning. And That’s Not All… All in all, whatever you’re an expert in – write about it – because someone, somewhere, will benefit from your expertise. There are so many types of nonfiction and these genres are just the tip of the iceberg, within them there’s a large array of subgenres you can write. Whether you want to share your love of witchcraft with the world, or want to teach people how to train their llamas, as long as you categorise your nonfiction book into the right genre and know who you are writing for, you stand a chance of success! For more advice for writing nonfiction check out our blogs on writing a nonfiction book proposal and writing creative nonfiction. Frequently Asked Questions What Are The Types Of Nonfiction? There are many different types of nonfiction, but they broadly fit into these categories: expository nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, persuasive nonfiction, and descriptive nonfiction. Expository nonfiction aims to explain or inform a reader on a specific topic. Narrative nonfiction is a true story about a person, place, or event. Persuasive nonfiction is when a writer argues for their side, or against the opposing side, on an issue. And finally, descriptive nonfiction is when sensory language is used to convey a certain topic and the focus is on using the five senses to give the reader a clear picture. What Are The Genres In Nonfiction? There are a multitude of genres in the nonfiction category. Many of them overlap, and some of them cover very niche subject matters. The main nonfiction genres are: narrative nonfiction, historical nonfiction, biography/autobiography, memoir, travel writing, philosophy, religion and spirituality, self-help, science, medical, psychology, art, crafts, DIY, photography, gardening, food/drink/cooking, computers and software, health and fitness, political science, business and economics, parenting and family, education, and music. Plus, within these areas, there are books which are even more specific and specialised. How Many Nonfiction Genres Are There? There are a seemingly endless number of nonfiction genres, though there are around 25, depending on which subcategories you include. With so many to choose from, there\'s bound to be at least one which suits your interests and/or areas of expertise! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer’s community. 

How Authors Can Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Imagine you’ve been invited to a dinner party. On the invitation, the words ‘We can’t wait to see you!’ are printed in big, bold letters, embossed in gold foil for good measure. On arrival at the party, you’re greeted warmly by your hosts, and you feel welcomed, wanted, and validated.   I can do this, you think, and you hold onto that feeling as you take your seat at a long, fancy table laid out with cut glass champagne flutes and silver cutlery. Wow, you enthuse, this is great! I’m sitting at the table, about to eat the fine food and enjoy the even finer company! I finally fit in!   And it’s a wonderful feeling.   Until, that is, you look around you, and you see the other dinner party guests. The glamorous, intelligent, gorgeous, witty, celebrated, funny guests who all look like they belong in that room, seated at that table.   As for you, it becomes quickly apparent you do not belong. You don’t deserve your seat at this soiree of talent. You are nowhere near as successful, talented, or brilliant as these people. You are, in fact, an imposter, and any minute now someone is going to turn to you and say ‘Excuse me? Aren’t you at the wrong dinner party?’  You shrink into yourself and withdraw, hoping nobody will notice your presence, and remain that way until the end of the evening. What’s more, your internal critic will not let you forget this feeling until the next party invitation, which you turn down, due to your unworthiness.   Welcome, my friend, to Imposter Syndrome.   What is Imposter Syndrome? My favourite imposter syndrome (sometimes known as ‘impostor phenomenon’ or ‘perceived fraudulence’) definition is: ‘Chronic feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and fraudulence despite objective success’. Or, in basic terms, feeling terrible about your own abilities despite there being actual, real evidence of your qualifications and talent.   Of course, it’s different for everyone. Feelings of self-doubt are entirely unique to the person experiencing them, and there is no universally accepted singular definition of what severe Imposter Syndrome is or feels like. But what it boils down to for me is a skewed opinion of my own worth - either in a personal sense, or a literary sense, or both (fun times) depending on my mood.   I regularly battle with feelings of worthlessness and of not ‘belonging at the table’, despite outward appearances of being confident, competent and, although I dislike this word for its vagueness, ‘successful’.   My particular brand of crippling Imposter Syndrome is extremely unpredictable and can be triggered by a number of things: award nomination announcements (why wasn’t I nominated? I must not be good enough), book deal announcements (why haven’t I scored a three-book deal with a Big Five publisher yet? I must not be marketable enough), collaboration announcements (why wasn’t I invited to contribute to that anthology? I must not be credible enough), to simply reading someone else’s work (dear God, why can’t I write this well? I may as well stop right now, I’m a hack).   It doesn’t help that these days, especially with the onus on authors and creatives to be able to effectively market themselves in such a competitive industry, this game can sometimes feel like a ‘popularity contest’ that you haven’t ranked highly in.   That sense of not belonging is compounded when we work in an industry where our work can be partly judged by our own likeability or public persona, which is, for the majority of us, an understandable source of Imposter Syndrome anxiety. Because often, when I think I Do Not Belong Here, I conflate it with People Do Not Like Me, which is Imposter Syndrome at its worst as it makes me question my absolute value as a person.  How Does Imposter Syndrome Affect Writers? While researching this article, I thought it would be an idea to ask some of my Twitter followers how Imposter Syndrome felt, and the answers were a little heart-breaking. You can read the responses here, and when you do, notice how many times the following words and phrases are used:  Fraud Fake Not legitimate Not earned Not deserved Luck Fooled everyone Fear Self-doubt Worth Get found out   It paints a sad picture of how a common syndrome can radically affect a creative career, in some cases stalling it before it has a chance to flourish.   What’s more, if you think the more ‘successful’, ‘legitimate’ and ‘proper’ creatives you look up to do not suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you’d be wrong. Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks once said “‘No matter what we\'ve done, there comes a point where you think, \'How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?\'\"   In a similar vein, Jodie Foster also said she thought winning her Oscar was a ‘fluke’. “I thought everybody would find out, and they’d take the Oscar back,” she continued.   If we return to my tweet above, seasoned horror stalwart Ramsey Campbell, who has been writing for over fifty years and won a metric ton of awards, stated “I often feel as if I’ve brought nothing to my field but imitations of better work,” which is mind-blowing to me, as someone who looks up to Campbell and his lifetime of achievements.    The point is, Imposter Syndrome doesn’t seem to discriminate when it comes to choosing a victim. It can hit at any point throughout your career and have a dramatic effect on your ability to write, focus, and feel motivated. Whilst it is perhaps unrealistic to expect to avoid Imposter Syndrome completely, there are ways to begin to overcome it or at least manage the effects if you are suffering. How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix, no Imposter Syndrome treatment out there in the shape of a pill or a jab. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome starts exactly where it lives…in the mind! Let’s beginning with learning to recognise it.   Recognition Much like the advice we gave for how to handle writer burnout, the first step to dealing with any problem is to identify what that problem is.  That means asking yourself a few questions:  Do you constantly compare yourself to others? Do you sometimes find it difficult to celebrate the success of your peers? Do you experience self-doubt more regularly than most? Do you self-sabotage? Do you have a poor understanding of your own skills and competence? Are you consistently hard on yourself? Do you attribute success to external things like luck, or being in the right place at the right time? Are you constantly afraid of letting people down or failing to live up to expectations? Do you set extremely high goals for yourself and get disappointed when you can’t meet them?  These could all be examples of Imposter Syndrome, which can be driven by a number of things: existing personality traits, a competitive environment, stress, and even your upbringing and childhood experiences. Recognising that you’re struggling and being able to put a name to your symptoms can be empowering and enable you to take the next step after recognition: tackling the problem.   But how do you treat Imposter Syndrome? Well, there are a number of things you can do.  Stop Thinking About it   Quite literally, stop.   I know, I know. If it was that easy, you wouldn’t be here, right? Telling someone to ‘stop thinking about it’ when they are in the middle of an anxiety attack or genuine crisis is not the most sympathetic thing a person can do and trust me - I’ve been on the receiving end of many well-meaning comments along those lines.   But bear with me, because in dark times when I question my place at The Table, I’ve found that the quickest and most successful way out of my funk is to literally stop thinking about it. Stop dead, switch that part of my brain right off. I’m aware that spiralling into self-doubt is not helpful, and while it is understandable and natural and not really something we invite or anticipate, I also know that thinking about my own inadequacies obsessively is a poor use of my time and limited energy. So, I try to stop. I try to identify when I’m trapped in a downward spiral.   There are a number of ways I do this, but most of them involve me physically changing my situation by going for a walk, going into another room, getting away from my desk and making a coffee, listening to music, taking a shower, sometimes even having a nap or putting a movie on to distract myself from the looming sense of worthlessness. Once I have broken the cognitive loop and given my brain a desperately needed break, I find it is easier to move onto other, healthier ways of thinking.   Self-Belief  This one involves you making a deliberate and mental shift in your thinking every time fraud syndrome strikes. I call it reframing, and it can be as simple as reversing the narrative when you catch yourself having thoughts of self-doubt, for example: instead of thinking ‘I don’t belong at this table,’ you deliberately decide to adjust your thinking to ‘I deserve my place at this table, because I have worked hard for it’. And just to be clear: we all deserve a place at the table, despite what you may hear, have been taught, or be led to believe. This article talks about how women and women of colour suffer more from Imposter Syndrome than other peers due to societal imbalances and prejudice and is an interesting (if somewhat depressing) read.   While positive thinking cannot, sadly, help with systemic discrimination in the workplace or within your chosen career, it can help lighten your mental burden a little if you are prone to being consistently hard on yourself. Even if you know, deep down, that you don’t believe the more positive statements you are forcing yourself to say, over time, continuously retraining your internal narrative can have a rather dramatic effect on your ability to shrug off Imposter Syndrome.   Instead of focussing on the things you can’t do, it forces you to recognise the things you can. Put simply: if you switch your focus actively from the negative to the positive, the chances are you’ll feel better in yourself and more confident in your own abilities as a result.  Recognise the Difference Between Being Humble and Self-Loathing  Us writers are a very self-aware bunch, but sadly many of us have grown up in a world where self-deprecation is more acceptable than tooting our own horn. This industry is especially harsh on anyone crowing too loudly. But there’s a fine line between being wry about yourself and continuously running yourself down. Indulging in some affirmative behaviour might not come naturally, and feels awkward at the best of times, but it has benefits.   Meditation and Mantras  Positive thinking is often the starting point in a healthier self-fulfilling cycle – but these aren’t easy to do alone so try a meditation app or looking up some positive/self-affirming mantras.  Likewise…  Establish Healthy Habits  If you are prone to anxiety-induced self-doubt, cutting back on stimulants (coffee, sugar, alcohol) and getting as much sleep and exercise in as you can, will calm the body…and the mind. Maybe combine yoga and running with a podcast on positivity or author success stories to inspire you (if they don’t make you feel worse)!  Track Your Successes  I know it’s weird, but I track everything. Every single thing. Pages read in Kindle Unlimited. Royalties earned. Copies sold. New followers on social media. Subscribers to my newsletter. Reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.   For some, this might be extreme and perhaps a tad pitiful, but for me, the metrics serve as reference points for when I’m wildly spiralling into the depths of despair. In particular, I like to make a point of looking at how far I’ve come since I began my journey as a writer. The benefit of statistics is that it is extremely easy to see at a glance how much progress you’ve made.   When my first book came out it sold tiny numbers of copies in its first few months, (although I still considered it amazing that anyone bought a copy at all). Over the years the book has performed steadily, until the number of copies sold tipped over into the thousands. This was a benchmark that was hard for my brain to argue with - looking at demonstrable growth helped with my feelings of inadequacy.   In times of severe self-doubt, focusing on measurables rather than the sensation of being under qualified or fraudulent made a big difference. Also: spreadsheets and graphs are amazing confidence boosters and I’ll die on that small, unimpressive hill. Build a Network of Other Creatives  This is probably the most important one for me. Surrounding yourself with supportive creatives who understand what Imposter Syndrome feels like and can not only commiserate, but also bash you around the head affectionately with a pillow and tell you how silly you are being, is everything.   You are more likely to be understood by another person within your industry than by other friends and relatives, who perhaps won’t understand as much about the stresses and pressures of a creative career as you would like them to.   There’s a wonderful community of folk out there who are more than happy to hold you up when you’re feeling down, and I have become a lot less shy about asking my peers for support with severe imposter syndrome, which they are happy to give. Keep Writing  It’s vital, when you are stuck on a project that is making you think negatively about yourself, to keep writing. Some find that having more than one project on the go at once helps as you always have something left to pin your hopes on.  You may also wish to get other authors and reviewers whom you trust to beta-read your latest works (if and when they have time). It certainly helps me with self-doubt, because their fair, balanced feedback not only motivates me, but also helps to improve my writing - which is a win-win.   Take Your Seat at the Table Hopefully, knowing you’re not alone when it comes to the struggles of Imposter Syndrome is helpful, as is the knowledge that it’s an unfortunate but natural part of a demanding writing career full of highs and lows, stresses and uncertainties.   Being able to cognitively drag your brain away from negative thoughts and learning to lean on like-minded people, as well as employ positive self-talk and thinking wherever possible, should help you through the darkest days and hopefully, diminish the symptoms a little.   And remember: the feelings of worthlessness do not tally up with the actual evidence of your abilities. That nasty voice in your head can’t be trusted. So the best thing to do is ignore it and keep writing. You’ve earned your spot at the table - it’s time for you to pull up a chair and get comfortable.   Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

A Simple Guide To Social Media For Authors

Many an author, struggling to balance writing with the constant pressure of having to be visible online, often finds themselves asking – ‘But do I really need social media?’  Let’s take a look.   Do Authors Need Social Media? Yes and no. If the thought of spending time online trying to engage with strangers in the hope they might buy your book is distressing in any way, then the simple answer is don’t do it. My agent has never asked me if I have a social media presence, and neither has my editor. Social media takes time, effort and planning – it’s not something we all have the time or inclination for.   However, it’s worth noting that while the UK industry doesn’t currently seem to mind too much what you do or don’t do online, this isn’t always the case in other parts of the world and the goalposts are always changing.  A strong social media presence is beneficial in many ways – especially if you’re an aspiring writer or an independent author. Without the marketing clout of a publisher, social media is the cheapest (well, free) way for you to be seen. Remember that your potential readers are likely to have at least one social media account to their name, if not several. Developing an author brand and connecting with your audience can massively boost your profile and get your books where you want them – in the hands and under the noses of readers and industry decision-makers. This article isn’t a deep dive into the intricacies and algorithm theories of each social media platform. Feel free to research this once you decide to make the leap into the mire of author social media. This article is less of a how-to….and more of a why-to, when it comes to social media. This may sound rather intimidating for a beginner but don’t panic, here are some tips on social media marketing for authors. Social Media Platforms For Writers Rule number one: know your audience.  The number of platforms you can use might seem dizzying, but you don’t need all of them. Social media professionals always say to focus on one or two. Ask yourself - Who will most likely read my books? Which social media platforms are they more likely to use? It might be worth looking at your comparative book titles before you start investigating. For instance, how do your favourite authors in your genre use their social media? Let’s look further at some of the more popular platforms and look at how different authors are utilising them to their benefit.  Facebook Did you know 66% of the UK population is on Facebook? That’s a lot of potential readers meaning it’s a popular platform for writers of certain genres. Currently, the biggest expansion in regular users is coming from the 65+ age group, with younger users dropping off. Although it’s still the most popular platform in the world and (especially for genres catering to over 30s and parents) it’s a great way to connect with potential readers. Before you consider creating your own author page, take a look at some of the reading groups that already exist and join as a reader (most of them won’t let you promote your own books, but occasionally they have exceptions). Crime novels are extremely well represented on Facebook – the UK Crime Book Club alone has 20,000 members. Being present in groups like this and interacting on posts by readers is a small but effective way to raise your profile (and you’ll find loads of other great books to read too!). One author who is great on Facebook is Clare Mackintosh, who runs her own monthly book club group. It has 8,000 members, and people post recommendations and requests daily for new reads. Clare is very active in the group, often commenting and starting discussions as well as running the monthly ‘readalong’. She also offers various promotions and sneak peeks which are very popular.   If you aren’t too keen, just a simple page where you share your news is fine – you can have a look at mine if you like. I don’t use Facebook a lot, but it’s useful for having a foothold that I can amp up later or use as a base for future advertising. It also keeps a nice record of various reviews and things to look back on and allows people to tag you in relevant posts. Or irrelevant ones – it happens!  Twitter Twitter is a popular social network for writers as it’s instant and in real time and focuses on short, succinct posts (though always add a picture if you can – they get 150% more engagement!) I find Twitter to be the simplest of all platforms to use - easy snippets, easy shares, easy interaction. This is where you’ll find your 30-49 year olds and is the most popular platform for male users; 68% according to these demographics. You can find your people on Twitter by following other authors in your genre and checking what they’re up to, and by searching hashtags like #writingcommunity. If you’re lucky you may even go viral, which (although no guarantee of increasing sales) it certainly gets you lots of exposure and often media picks up on viral trends and posts. Regardless, you\'ll benefit from being part of a social network for writers within these smaller Twitter communities. It’s worth remembering that Twitter is a good place for your readers to get to know a bit more about you as a person aside from your writing. So don’t just share promotions, write about other things too. What are you reading? What is your writing process like? Hear any good advice recently? Ask questions, and don’t forget to interact with other people’s posts.  One of my favourite authors to follow on Twitter is Margaret Atwood. I like how she engages with her fans online by retweeting articles, promoting things she’s up to and even responding to fellow writers about her creative process. She ‘liked’ one of my tweets once and I nearly expired. Instagram Instagram is where you’ll find more women hanging out, and your slightly younger audience – 70% of users are under 35. Although that doesn’t mean us oldies can’t enjoy it – I love Instagram. You can use it to post pictures of yourself or your books, or anything really, and use hashtags to make your posts easier to find.  Instagram is absolutely stuffed with book reviewers. They’re an amazing community to get involved with and can help get a real buzz going about your work. It’s not just about the pretty pictures – I rarely post on my ‘grid’ – it’s the ‘Instagram stories’ that work for me, and for lots of other authors too. One of my current favourites to follow is Elodie Harper, author of Wolf Den, a novel set in Pompeii, pre-eruption. She often shares beautiful mosaics and art from the period, giving a wonderful taste of the time and the basis of her inspiration in her stories. TikTok Getting involved with ‘BookTok’ (ie book lovers on Tik Tok) is becoming a truly inspired way to reach the youngest of social media users. If you’re writing YA or older MG, get yourself on there! Tik-Tok is the fastest growing platform in the world and the most used – one hour per day on average – with more than a billion users. There are already lots of authors paving the way on TikTok – one to follow is Victoria Aveyard, author of the Red Queen series. She shares all sorts, from insights into the publishing world, how to structure novels, to killing your darlings. She’s also really funny, which always helps. Social media isn’t always about self-promotion, though. You can always follow just for fun, and BookTok really is just that – fun. It’s also a great way for an author to relax and procrastinate productively! Other Social Platforms While we’ve listed the main contenders, there are other platforms that might suit you and your needs more.   Pinterest Pinterest is the corkboard of the internet, full of tips and how-to’s on any subject you can imagine. Try searching up a topic you’re interested in and have fun ‘pinning’ all the articles to read later – you might even want to write and share your own! Many authors use social media platforms like Pinterest to create secret inspiration boards for their novels, and it’s a great way to link blogs to your website to pretty images. One of the good things about Pinterest is you don’t actually have to talk to anyone… YouTube YouTube is the platform for the hardcore videographer. Alexa Donne is a powerhouse – check out her videos for pretty much everything you need to know about anything ever.   LinkedIn LinkedIn is where you wear your suit. Professional profiles for connecting with other writers on a more business-level – basically an interactive online CV. Great for connecting with industry professionals too. Goodreads Goodreads…never mind. Probably best that no author goes on there unless they have a thick skin. But in all seriousness, many find it a great site on which to log their own reading progress, run book giveaways, and gauge the reaction to their books before they are published. Social Media Advertising All the stuff we’ve talked about so far is completely free. However, you can pay to harness the power that is the social media behemoth. Facebook and Instagram both offer paid advertising opportunities which can be very successful but do your research first! Learn how to set up audiences for your ad and how to clone audiences that other ads use. It’s much easier than staring at the back end of your ad and crying because no one is clicking through, believe me. There’s lots to consider but get it right and you’re on your way, because Facebook still remains the most targeted form of affordable advertising out there.  How To Interact With Your Audience Social media lets you directly interact with your audience. This can be amazing, but also a little scary. Here are a few tips on getting it right:  The Three E’s You might be asking yourself - ‘What the hell do I write about now I’m here?’   A rule of thumb is the three E’s: when writing a post make it either Entertaining, Engaging or Educational. Or all three if you’re clever. People want to be entertained, they want to be part of things, and they want to learn (usually).   Community Matters Basically, your vibe finds your tribe. Cultivate your community so it’s full of the people you want, preferably ones you admire and care about. For instance, there’s absolutely no reason why Twitter need be a stressful place for you if the only people you follow are those posting about books, cats, and baking!  You already know how to talk to the people important to you, so simply treat the people who now live in your phone/laptop the same way. These are the people whose feedback and opinion matters. If they like your posts, they might buy your book. If they like you too, they might tell other people to buy your book as well.   Find Other Authors One of the biggest draws to social media (especially Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) is how vital it is for finding other writers and building your own support network. There are legions of fellow writers all over the internet, on all the platforms, in all guises, at all stages of their careers. They are your people – go find them. Talk to them, ask them questions. Join groups and chats and hashtags. Writing can be a lonely occupation, but it doesn’t have to be.  The wonderful thing about the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, especially, is that everyone is just as lost as you. Don’t be shy to create a page and then post along the lines of ‘Hi, I’m new to the writing world. I’m looking to follow and chat to other writers of xyz.’ Or ask for critique partners or beta readers. You’ll be surprised how many like-minded (and just as lost) writers jump at the chance to be part of your squad.   Share New Writing Projects There’s nothing quite as exciting to an avid reader as a teaser for what you’re writing next. How are you getting on? Are you editing yet? Can we read some, pleeeease? You get the picture.  Demonstrate Audience Appreciation An author who clearly appreciates their audience is a popular one. You can demonstrate this by offering exclusive content to your advocates, by including them in discussions, and by sharing their content as well as your own. Some authors even run fun giveaways, such as ‘Follow me and you may be picked to have your name appear as a character in my next novel.’ Include your audience in inventive and engaging ways!  So, Is Social Media Useful For Authors? Undeniably, yes! Social media is very useful for authors who want to create communities, find their audience and showcase their work. There’s no direct evidence that it will increase your sales, but it WILL create positive PR and get you exposure, which all helps.  So get out there, have a quiet little chat or TikTok dance your way into the hearts of your readers. However you choose to use social media, make sure it works for you and you have fun!  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Do Professional Writers Need a Website?

One of the questions writers ask most frequently is - “does an author need a website?” With so many ways to promote yourself online now, from social media to forums, do you really need to go to the expense and hassle of creating a website for you and your books? The simple answer is…yes! In this article I will guide you through everything you need to know, from what makes a good author website, to whether you need one of your own. By the end of this blog, you will understand the perks of having your own dedicated website and how it can be instrumental to building your author brand. Do Professional Writers Need a Website? Whether you are an author, journalist, poet, playwright, freelance writer, or any kind of writer, it is likely you have asked yourself the same question. As a writer there are already so many things you need to do to get your work out there, this feels like one very large and unnecessary thing to add to your to do list. Bear with me, because you’re about to find out how this may well be one of the most important things you can do for you and your future as a writer. Regardless of the industry you are in, your online presence can contribute massively to your brand and the success of your creative work. You wouldn’t set up a new business without having a website – and being a writer or author is no different.  According to Internet World Stats, there are over 4.2 billion internet users, and Google averages about 40,000 searches per second, so it stands to reason that the internet is instrumental to the success of any brand today. I’m sure even Shakespeare would have had a website if he were around today! Having your own website doesn’t mean you need to be tech-savvy, or that you need to invest in a professional designer. But when your book is in the shops and the press or a reader Googles you, you want to make sure you are able to share everything about you and your work that you can. So where do you start? Let’s look at this in more detail… Reasons Why Writers Need a Website Social Media isn’t Enough Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Tumblr are great platforms on which to promote your businesses and the perfect place to engage with your audience, but you don\'t want your business to live solely on social media. Firstly, you have very little control. Recently, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were down for around 6 hours, all at once! That’s six hours that people can’t find out anything about you. Social media platforms can also delete or restrict accounts when they wish. And even though most of these platforms are established and been about for years, neither do we know if they will be around for ever – or as popular.  Ideally, you want your brand to live on your own domain. You own and control your website; there are no rules or conditions you have to comply with. Your website belongs only to you, and you can post any kind of content you want and conduct any form of marketing or advertising on it that you wish. Personal Brand Development A personal brand is your identity – and when you are an author, that reflects on your work too. Just like any organisation’s personal brand helps convey their values and identities to its customers, your own personal brand helps you communicate who you are and what you stand for to your readers. When you control what’s on your website, you control the narrative. Your author website provides a platform to tell your story, communicate a coherent brand image, showcase your expertise, qualifications, works, professionalism, plus shout about your publishing achievements to readers, the press, and other publishing professionals. Example 1Judy Moody is a fun children’s book series by Megan McDonald. The creative style and illustration of the author’s website perfectly reflects the brand image of the author: Build a Community A professional website presents you with an opportunity to build an active community where readers can interact directly with you, get an exclusive insight on you and your work, and provide feedback that you can use for future work. You can also build a newsletter, which has a much higher ‘book sale’ conversion rate than most other forms of advertising. Visitors can subscribe to your mailing list where you can keep in touch with them weekly or monthly. These newsletters can attract a lot of interest in the long run as subscribers who are already in love with what you do are more likely to recommend your books or services to other people who are looking for great writers. Personal recommendations go a long way in promoting your personal brand. Gain Audience Trust Most people go online to search for more information about a person or brand. According to wpforms, 55% of people search the internet for a brand’s website – and that includes your book. You can lose respect and credibility with readers if you can’t be found online. A strong website that showcases your brand, your work, and you, is a great way of demonstrating that you are as reputable as you claim to be. Example 2Aside from the immersive experience Jennifer Egan’s website gives its visitors, it also showcases reviews from reputable sites which is a great way of building trust with her readers. Interaction Opportunities Just like all social media platforms, a website is a great medium for interacting with your audience. You can even create a forum on your website where members of your community can interact with you and each other. You can also set up a blog on your website where you can get feedback from visitors. Links to these blog posts or forum topics can be shared on your own social media platforms, and are also likely to be shared by your community members – helping spread the word to their like-minded contacts. Social media can also be instrumental in driving traffic to your website. Instead of creating a long thread or post on your social media personal pages, it’s always easier to share links to your website or specific pages – ensuring your marketing remains cohesive and everyone gets to hear about you. Establish a Content Hub A website also provides you with a great content platform on which you can showcase your work. Editors, publishers, press, and readers who are interested in your work can find everything they need, in one place, on your website.  Example 3Gretchen Rubin’s website provides more than just information about herself and her brand. Her website offers extra value as it’s also filled with blog posts, podcasts, quizzes, and other resources. This is highly appealing to her visitors and makes them more likely to return to her website. Be Competitive Whether you like it or not, your writing should be treated as a business if you want to succeed. You want your author name to be found on search engines when people look for you. There are thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) great writers out there - so how will your prospective readers find you? A writer website gives you a competitive advantage as not only will it help people find you, but it boosts credibility and perceived value. Put simply, people are more likely to trust a brand with a dedicated website featuring detailed information and services than a business that doesn’t offer that. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Your website doesn\'t just provide information about you and your work, it can also boost your visibility on the internet. The more visitors you have, the higher the ranking on the search engine results page. According to Forbes, 75% of people never go past the first page of search engine results, hence the need for your website to rank as high as you can on the organic search engine results page. By incorporating SEO practices into a website for an article writer there is a decent chance of it being easily accessible. Regularly updating your website with relevant content and adding keywords to your content are SEO practices you should consider. So, if you are a romance writer specialising in books about Victorian detectives – make sure you use those terms as often as you (naturally) can on your website. Because when someone Googles ‘Romance novels featuring Victorian detectives’ you want to be the first person they find! Example 4In terms of design and functionality, Austin Kleon’s website is up there with top author pages. The website demonstrates his brand, it’s easy to use, and it’s evident that he updates it regularly and is always bringing out new books. Save Time and Money Aside from the fact that websites are affordable to set up and maintain, they can also save you a lot of time and money. When querying your work with agents, many ask for your website. Likewise, when press want to write about you and your book, you don’t have to keep sending long emails or press releases to each separate media company – simply direct them to your press kit on your site featuring bios, credited author photo download, and everything they need to know about your work and where to buy it. Publication Platform Having your own author website means you are free to publish your work, on your site, for free – whenever you want. As established earlier, there are no restrictions guiding the timing and content you can publish on your website. Many authors like to publish free short stories for their readers, or run competitions on their newsletters, or use this free content as a way to get people to subscribe to their newsletter. Example 5David Sedaris’s brilliant website showcases his books in a simple fashion. The “works” section on the website is unique, creative, and tells the whole story. Also, publishing content on your blog regularly keeps your visitors engaged and helps you collect feedback.  Derive Revenue A website can also be a valuable sales platform – especially for self-published authors. As of 2021, 27.6% of the world population makes the majority of their purchases online. It’s easier, quicker, and faster to buy books online than in a bookstore (especially with those with mobility issues, living in remote areas, or unable to leave the house). And with the recent lockdowns, online book purchasing has seen its largest rise ever. The best author websites have a payment gateway feature. You can integrate a payment system on your website that allows people to place orders for your book and checkout with ease or simply connect visitors to other distribution platforms such as your favourite indie bookstore, Amazon, or your publisher’s online shop. How Much Does a Website Cost to Create? Websites are cheaper and easier to set up and maintain than people realise. Your first stop is creating a domain name – this should be your author name. Luckily most people find that the url of their name isn’t taken. If it is, you can always add the word ‘books’ or ‘author’ after your name.Next you need to design your site. If you haven’t a clue how to create your own author website, there are several DIY sites such as WordPress, Squarespace or Wix.com with a template collection from which you can choose any author website template and edit it to your style. Examples of inspiring author website design templates can be also found on Pinterest. However, if you want a unique author website design, you can always hire a professional. Get Seen I hope this guide has helped you understand the importance of having an author website, and why it’s worth the investment in time and money. Not every author wants a website, and perhaps if you write for fun or only have one book to promote, you may not see the need for it. But remember, if your work is competing against that of dozens of similar writers – it’s the one with the largest online presence who will be found first! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

10 of the Best Flash Fiction Competitions

Finding an affordable and engaging fiction competitions to enter is harder than you think- especially if you\'re a flash fiction writer. Flash fiction writing contests are gaining popularity as well as notoriety. With many affordable (or even free entry) options out there today, it is no wonder that flash fiction competitions are worth seeking out! But what exactly is flash fiction, and where can you find some of these fantastic opportunities so that you can submit your work to them? In this article I\'ll be introducing you to some great competitions, including deadlines and fees. Let’s get started. What is Flash Fiction? Flash fiction is its own unique form of short story. I’m sure you could have already guessed that it is designed to be brief - typically with word counts ranging from 5 words to rarely more than 1000. There are many other terms used to refer to flash fiction: micro-story, nanotale, short short… It all depends on who you are talking to or submitting your work to. Short fiction competitions will all have their own specific guidelines to go over as well. Keep in mind however that flash fiction isn’t simply a truncated short story - it’s a unique story form. Chopping up and editing your existing novella into a flash fiction piece is possible, but not necessarily recommended. This writing style is unique, to the point, and fun, should you feel comfortable limiting your word count! Verbosity is common for writers, but whittling words down in order to fit a flash fiction brief is a talent all on its own. So, what are some of these flash fiction competitions like, and what will they require of you before submitting your work? Let’s take a look at some of Jericho’s top recommended fiction contests out there in 2021, including up-to-date and relevant deadlines! Flash Fiction Competitions I doubt I’m the first person to tell you, but: there are a wide variety of flash fiction competitions. Some are regular and routine to a particular magazine or website, some have annual submission opportunities with larger prizes, some are considered prestigious with publications, and there are also one-off contests with interesting themes. There is a lot of merit to submitting flash fiction for contests and competitions. The most obvious is winning awards and prizes, and therefore becoming an award winning author. However, there are many other reasons to consider writing and submitting your flash fiction, including gaining exposure, getting published, and receiving critiques or more experience writing in this innovative genre. Looking for a home for your piece of flash fiction? Look no further! Here are some of the best contests out there, with upcoming deadlines and low-cost or free entry fees so that you don’t miss a beat. Prime Number Magazine 53-Word Story Contest First Prize: Publication in Prime Number Magazine + a free book from Press 53 Entry Fee: Free Deadline: 15th of each month Prime Number Magazine has a wonderful flash fiction competition posted every month, under a different theme. Each prompt should be inspired by a single word and can only be 53 words long. Should you win, you will receive publication of your short story and bio in Prime Number magazine, as well as a free book. Submission guidelines and prompts can be found on their site- just be sure to submit by the 15th of each month! Flash 500 Contest First Prize: £300 Entry Fee: £5 Deadline: Quarterly- March 31, June 30, September 30, December 31 Looking for a flash fiction contest with some decent monetary reward? Check out the Flash Fiction Competition from Flash 500. There is a small entry fee, and you can even receive critique on your work if you submit a little extra fee. The prize money truly reflects the skill required to encapsulate an entire story in just 500 words- and there’s even money for second and third place too! Check out more about this contest and submit at their website, here. Tadpole Press 100 Word Writing Contest First Prize: $1,000 Entry Fee: $10 Deadline:  November 30, 2021 Now here’s a first prize! Tadpole Press has a flash fiction competition, normally reserved for writers on their own specific retreat. They have decided to open up the competition to everyone, with a $1,000 first prize to boot. Second and third place also get rewards, and the theme for this year’s competition is “Abundance”. All it takes is 100 words to potentially win! More information regarding the prompt as well as submission guidelines can be found here.  River Styx Micro-Fiction Contest First Prize: $1000 Entry Fee: $15–$20 Deadline: December 31, 2021 This flash fiction challenge comes from River Styx, with a word count maximum of 500. You can choose two different submission prices (the higher amount including a yearly subscription to River Styx’s magazine), and first, second, and third prize winners will be published. First prize wins $1000! You can learn more about this micro-fiction contest on their website here. WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest First Prize: $400 Entry Fee: $10 Deadline: Quarterly- February 28, May 31, August 31, November 30 WOW! is all about promoting the communication between women writers, and their quarterly flash fiction contest is no exception. With an open prompt and a low entry fee, submitting your flash fiction is easier than ever. Make sure your work is a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 750 before you submit. More guidelines (including how to get your piece critiqued) can be found here. The Third Word Press Great Eighty Challenge First Prize: Publication Entry Fee: Free Deadline: Ongoing With a free entry fee and as many short submissions as you’d like, The Third Word Press has a wonderful flash fiction submission option. Submit a piece of flash fiction of exactly 80 words of your own work- no theme, no genre. You can even take from a larger piece, if you’d like. Submit using this form here, and keep it 80 words or less! Cranked Anvil Press Flash Fiction Competition First Prize: £100 Entry Fee: £3 for 1 entry; £5 for 2 entries Deadline: Quarterly- 28th (or 29th) February, 31st May, 31st August, 30th November With a monetary reward for both first and second place, this flash fiction contest from Cranked Anvil Press may be worth checking out. You can even submit a second entry with a slightly raised submission fee. The deadline is quarterly, so don’t stress about missing out on this one. And you can read more about their publication here. Bath Flash Fiction Award First Prize: £1,000 Entry Fee: £9 Deadline: Tri-Annually With a goal of bringing flash fiction to a wider audience, Bath hosts two international flash fiction competitions, including a novella option. With three yearly submission opportunities and a low entry fee, this contest is well worth checking out. There’s a large first prize, and decent second and third place rewards. Keep it all under 300 words, and learn more about Bath here. Reflex Fiction First Prize: £1,200 Entry Fee: £7 Deadline: Quarterly One of my favorite flash fiction competitions is this one from Reflex fiction. It has a robust prize system, with monetary rewards for first, second, and third place. Their rules are also simple: entries must be at least 180 words but no more than 360 words. You can submit more than one piece, but you will need to pay the entry fee for each one. Winners (and many of the non-winning, honorable mention entries) are published on the Reflex Fiction website, where you can find more submission requirements here. Craft Flash Fiction Contest First Prize: $1,000 Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: October 31st With $1,000 awarded to first, second, and third place, this flash fiction contest from Craft is well-worth considering. Your piece will be published on their website, you will be interviewed by their editor, and you will even receive a book bundle of amazing works from Rose Metal Press. While $20 isn’t the cheapest submission fee out there, you can submit up to two 1,000 word pieces. Learn more about this competition here. Conclusion While this is a comprehensive guide to flash fiction competitions, there are still many more opportunities to consider. I encourage you to research contests that interest you, and submit before deadlines loom! Have you found many flash fiction opportunities that spark your creativity? Let us know in the comments! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Writing And Burnout

If you’re here, you’re probably burned out. You should be writing, but your desire to do so has evaporated. I\'ve been there. It is exhausting and frustrating in equal parts. The act of writing no longer feels like the transformative, relaxing or impassioned experience it usually is. It has become a chore. Your mind feels fuzzy and unfocussed, engulfed by a thick fog. The thought of returning to your work in progress only to struggle with it makes you tired, rather than excited. In fact, you’d rather do anything other than write. These are the signs of writing burnout, and it’s fair to say that at some point in a person’s creative career, we all experience it. In these troubled times of pandemic-related anxiety and stress, it is perhaps no surprise that burnout is more prevalent than ever. The good news is that overcoming creative burnout is entirely possible. In this guide, we examine what writer burnout means, offer tips on how to avoid burnout as a writer, and hopefully, help you rediscover the joy of writing if you’re struggling with it.    What Is Writer’s Burnout? Writer’s burnout is a state of exhaustion that makes you unwilling and unable to do what you love best and can lead to you questioning your entire identity as a creative. This is not the same as writer’s block, which is characterised as an inability to write. Writer or creative burnout is more extreme, and manifests as a writer being physically, mentally and emotionally incapable of performing the most basic of tasks or assignments. I spent much of 2020 in that state, missing several key deadlines as a result. Thankfully, my publishers were understanding and patient, but the inability to do what I have always loved to even a basic degree was heart-breaking. There are many contributors to burnout: stress, fatigue, a pervasive culture of ‘hustle’, and the pressures that come with being self-employed or freelance to name a few. Writers often keep irregular hours, are beholden to tight (sometimes self-imposed) deadlines, and have to contend with a string of other considerations like imposter syndrome, marginalisation, low income, and a highly competitive industry. Writing can also be a lonely business, with a distinct lack of support and opportunities to socialise. Long hours bound to the desk juggling deadlines means you’re left with little time to indulge in healthy, non-work based hobbies, exercise, or other pursuits. All these things combined can sometimes be overwhelming. Signs Of Writing Burnout Recognising writer\'s burnout can be key to making sure you overcome it in the future. If you’re still unsure, ask yourself the following questions: Are you constantly exhausted?Are you struggling with motivation?Is your mindset increasingly negative, or are you often in a bad mood?Are you having a hard time remembering things?Do you feel anxious and overwhelmed?Has your output slowed down, and the quality of your work suffered? Do you feel rundown and in a general state of poor health?Has writing lost all its joy for you?Are you using alcohol, drugs or other stimulants as a crutch?Do you sleep badly?Are you becoming more insular and retreating from the world at large? If the answer is yes to several or all of these, then my advice is simple: stop for a moment. Get used to the idea that you are going through something serious and start taking care of yourself a little. Admitting to and accepting that you are dealing with burnout is the first step towards improving your situation.  How To Avoid Burnout As A Writer ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is the foundation of much in modern healthcare, and it applies to writer’s burnout too. There are several things you can do to pre-emptively stave off burnout: Set Firm Boundaries Boundaries are a formidable tool in any writer’s toolbox. Having a clear idea of your preferred daily working hours, routine, how you want to be communicated with, the number of deadlines and projects you are comfortable with, and who you want to work with is a great way of making sure you don\'t get overwhelmed. Write your boundaries down and stick to them. It will make life much simpler, clearer and easier to navigate.  Be Actively Nice To Yourself Be your own cheerleader and shout about your achievements and successes as many times as you feel you need to. Doing so can be an affirmative process that actively makes you feel better about yourself and your abilities, and this can go a long way towards fighting off burnout before it takes too firm a hold on you.  Keep It Simple And Structured Decluttering your workspace can help create a calmer mindset. Then do the same with your working day. Divide your day into chunks and figure out how you want to use that time. If writing is too difficult, schedule in some admin, or perhaps do some valuable writer research. Answer a few emails, especially if your inbox is filling up. Grab a notebook and do some gentle planning, or jot down ideas. Keep it simple and try to stick to some sort of structure. You’ll still be working and moving forward, even if you aren’t writing. Most importantly, make sure you factor in lots of breaks. A coffee break, lunch, a walk around the block, podcast time while you do the dishes or maybe even calling a friend for half an hour. Break times are important for creative energy. It can be difficult to remember that when all we see is a looming deadline.  Look After Yourself It’s important to look after your physical health and mental wellbeing. A healthier body can mean a healthier mind, and taking care of both is extremely important, especially in today’s world. While it’s certainly beneficial to exercise and get fresh air wherever possible, that isn’t always an option for creatives with mobility issues or other limiting factors, but you can take care of yourself in other ways. Getting enough sleep can make a huge difference. So can carving out time to spend with friends or an inner circle of peers that you trust, like your local writer’s group. Meditation might be beneficial, as is self-soothing: a weighted blanket, a hot bath, time spent with a novel, music, a jigsaw, your kid’s Lego, a freshly cooked, healthy meal, or a special cup of coffee. Simple, small things can make a big difference when you’re burned out.  Take It Easy On Yourself ‘You shouldn\'t write if you can\'t write’, Ernest Hemingway once said, and he was absolutely right. One of the worst ways to recover from writing burnout is by ‘writing through’ it. Slogging ahead whilst battling extreme mental and physical fatigue will only exacerbate the symptoms of burnout. The quickest and best way to tackle your situation is by taking control of your work schedule, as stated above, and, most importantly, allowing yourself to rest. If you can, reassess your deadlines and ask for more time where needed, or, if they are self-imposed deadlines, adjust them to accommodate your current situation. Give yourself some slack when it comes to your own expectations of what you can achieve. If stopping work entirely for a while is not an option for you, then get used to the idea of working at a slower pace until you feel better. Introducing breaks in your working day will also help, especially if they involve time away from a screen, social media, email, and anything else likely to make you feel overwhelmed. Ways To Recover From Writing Burnout If you are currently in the grip of burnout, try not to worry too much. That’s easier said than done, I know, but there are ways to facilitate your own recovery. The most important thing you can do is to prioritise yourself. But what does that look like? Plenty Of Rest And Sleep At the risk of sounding like your favourite aunt, sleep is important. Getting adequate rest on a regular basis can vastly improve both mood and overall health, reduce stress and clear away that brain fog. Frustratingly, burnout and stress can often impact sleep, and ‘coronasomnia’ is also an emerging issue thanks to disrupted routines and prolonged uncertainty. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy could help introduce a better bedtime routine and habits. Having a device-free bedroom could also help, with working in bed on your laptop a big no-no. There are also a range of apps that play white noise, soothing music, or read you a bedtime story. Even if you’re not sleeping, being in a quiet, calm bedroom or sleeping space can help put your body to rest and kickstart the restoration process a little. Explore Other Creative Outlets And Experiences For many writers, their hobby has suddenly become their career. This can make it difficult to find other ways to relax. Art, music, gaming, cooking, crafting or spending time in nature could help. It’s about finding another outlet to express your creativity that isn’t governed by deadlines, pay rates or client expectations. Getting away from your desk, home or studio for a while is also beneficial, as is trying something completely new like life-drawing, pottery, stamp collecting, pony trekking, you name it - anything that intrigues you and gives you the chance to meet new people and gather a different perspective on life. Relax And Socialise Relaxation time allows you to put your needs front and centre for a concerted period. Whether it’s a hot bath, a gentle walk, yoga, meditation or a massage, it’s important to allow your body and mind to relax as much as possible. Downtime also doesn’t have to be all about low lights, baths and herbal tea, however. It can involve hanging out with close friends and letting your hair down during games night, a sports event, a night out at the pub or dancing at a gig. If you’re having fun and socialising, you’re restoring. Just be careful you don’t push it too far and burn the already depleted candle at both ends. Deal With Mundane Chores Sometimes I deal with burnout by diving into household chores. When I am incapable of doing much that requires real brainpower, I can cope with menial, practical tasks. I often tee up my favourite true crime podcasts and dive into cleaning, tidying, gardening, or DIY tasks I’ve been putting off. It creates a sense of momentum that helps me feel less hopeless about my situation. Again, if you are someone with mobility issues some of these things might not be accessible, but you could find that dealing with household admin, finances, or general day to day things you have been putting off equally as helpful. Change Your Writing Location A change can be as good as a rest, and this is especially true if you work from home. The pandemic made getting out and about extremely difficult, and a lack of variety in setting can compound burnout. I rearranged my office so that my desk was closer to a window and added some plants to my workspace, which helped a little. I also took paperwork I needed to do into the garden during good weather, and once restrictions lifted and it was safe to do so, I took my laptop back to my favourite cafe, which helped enormously. A change of scene can work wonders. Identify Sources Of Stress In a similar vein to setting boundaries and structuring your working day, identifying the exact stressors in your life can be enormously helpful. Too many deadlines? Prioritise or cut them down. A particular person bothering you? Limit your interaction with them. Writing project stalling close to deadline? Consider asking a peer to beta-read or give constructive feedback to help kickstart you again. Tackling a series of issues methodically can give you great peace of mind and a better sense of control. Go On Holiday Again, this is not always possible for everyone, but if you do have the means, a vacation is a fantastic way to recharge your depleted creative batteries. But when we say vacation, we mean it - leave the laptop at home, ignore your emails and try to disengage completely. A notebook might be good for capturing any ideas you have whilst relaxing on a sun lounger - but keep it brief and simple. No new novel attempts! From Burnout To Churn Out Finding yourself in a position of creative burnout is nothing to be ashamed of - it is a natural by-product of many individual factors and stressors working against you. There are measures you can take to make sure it doesn\'t happen again: implementing more structure, setting firmer boundaries and being kind to your body and mind key among them. For those in the thick of writer burnout, you can navigate your way out by identifying the symptoms, making a real effort to rest and be good to yourself, and slowing down your expectations when it comes to output for a while. You aren’t alone in feeling this way, and in this line of work you’ll probably encounter writer’s burnout more than once, but hopefully, by following these tips you’ll soon be going from burnout to ‘churn out’ in no time.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Writing Humour – Injecting Humour Into Your Story

So, you want to learn how to make your readers burst out laughing, but you can’t even get a pity laugh out of your own grandma? This guide is all you need to gain an understanding of the common forms of humour in writing, and how to use humorous writing techniques to inject comedy into your own writing. Read on to find out how! What Is Humour Writing? Humorous writing is any piece of writing that’s written with the intention to prompt amusement and to be funny. There are many forms of humour you can inject into your writing to turn a ho-hum piece into a side-splitter.  Types Of Humour In Literature From the subtle humour of satire or deadpan, through to in-your-face farce and slapstick, once you have a solid grasp on what forms of humour exist and how to use them, you’ll have a vast toolbox at your fingertips to make your readers smirk, giggle and howl with laughter in any situation.  Let’s dive into some of the most common ones, along with some humorous writing examples to help you recognise these techniques in the wild. Anecdotal An anecdote is a brief, humorous story about a real-life experience. Think of Michelle Flaherty from American Pie, and her endless anecdotes revolving around “this one time, at band camp”. Dark Dark humour, also known as black humour, morbid humour or gallows humour, is a form of humour that makes light of anything especially sad or serious. The term ‘gallows humour’ actually dates back to the 1800s, when people would joke about being hanged at the gallows. ‘On my license, it says I\'m an organ donor. . . I wonder what poor asshole would get stuck with whatever it is in me that passes for a heart.’ ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ – Jodi Picoult Deadpan Deadpan humour, otherwise known as dry humour, relies on delivery to land correctly. Usually a statement will be humorous in content, perhaps even over-the-top or ridiculous, but the wording and delivery of it is intended to be casual, almost as though the speaker is unaware they’re making a joke at all. The word deadpan comes from the slang term ‘pan’, used for ‘face’ in the early 20th century. So, to have a dead pan was to have a face that showed no expression or emotion. ‘Through my curtains I can see a big yellow moon. I’m thinking of all the people in the world who will be looking at that same moon. I wonder how many of them haven’t got any eyebrows?’ ‘Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging’ – Louise Rennison Farcical A farce, or farcical humour, is a form of humour that derives its comedy through the absurd ridiculousness of a situation. A farce will often use miscommunication to create humorous scenarios and misunderstandings. For example, Shakespeare loved to employ farce. Think of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where mistaken identity and confusion causes a love quadrangle. Ironic When something appears to be the case, or should be the case, but the reality is the opposite, you’re dealing with irony. For example, a fire department catching on fire, or the world’s leading skin cancer expert dying after they mistake their own melanoma for a benign mole. At the start of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen writes: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ As the narrative quickly goes on to show us single women spending much time and energy finding a husband, we grow to understand the irony in that opening sentence. Parodic A parody is an entertainment piece produced to mimic an existing work, artist or genre, but dialled up to a hundred in order to poke fun at it. The humour comes from highlighting flaws and overdone tropes through an exaggerated portrayal. For example, think of Austin Powers, which parodies James Bond. Or Bored of the Rings by Douglas Kenney, a parody of Lord of the Rings. Satirical Satirical writing uses wit to make a point about power—be it a commentary on the government, the privileged, large corporations, etc—and aims to cause readers to think deeply about society, and what can be done to improve it. Satirical works range from political cartoons you’ll find in the newspaper, through to books like Small Gods by Terry Pratchett, which satirises organised religion. Self-Deprecating Self-deprecation is a form of humour where an individual makes a comment about their own flaws and shortcomings in a light-hearted manner. ‘They all laughed when I said I\'d become a comedian. Well, they\'re not laughing now.’ ‘Crying with Laughter: My Life Story’ – Bob Monkhouse Situational Situational humour is any type of humour that arises from the situation characters find themselves in.  Think of a character going to a babysitting job and finding out the child is actually the antichrist, or a character going on a blind date only to find themselves face to face with the horrible customer they served at work earlier that day.  Slapstick Slapstick refers to physical humour involving the body. It often involves some form of pain (think falling, or having something fall on you, or accidentally breaking a piece of furniture while using it) or otherwise odd things happening to a body (like a hose going off in someone’s face unexpectedly). An excellent example is America’s Funniest Home Videos. Tips For Writing Humorous Stories Okay, so we’ve covered some of the more common types of humour, and you’re ready to find out how to develop your own humorous writing style? Luckily, all writers have the ability to write humour, even if it’s not something that comes easily to you at first. All it takes is practice! Here are some humorous writing tips to leave your audience cackling. Study Other Writers Think of a piece of writing you found hilarious. Read it carefully. Note what it is that makes it so amusing. Can you spot any of the forms of humour we covered above? Once you can recognise and categorise humour techniques and forms, you’ll find that determining which form of humour fits your own writing in which situation will start to come more naturally. Use Your Own Material Do you sometimes make comments that other people find hilarious? Take note of your own jokes (literally—write it down for yourself to use later) and refer back to them while writing. You’ll be surprised how often you can find a natural spot for that joke to make a recurrence. Use Juxtaposition Utilise juxtaposition, or pairing opposites near each other to highlight the differences between them. Think The Odd Couple, or Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. There are plenty of humorous opportunities for a slacker character or a type-A character, but that humour is magnified if those two characters share scenes. Master Comedic Timing Comedic timing plays a huge role in how a joke lands. Pay attention while you’re reading or watching comedy, and notice how long a joke goes on for, and where the punchline lands. Like stories, jokes have their own arcs: setup, anticipation and payoff. For an example of excellent comedic timing, give Don Quixote a read. Use Alliteration Alliteration, or stringing together words beginning with the same consonant, can make text both more amusing and memorable. Roald Dahl was very partial to this technique. Willy Wonka and Bruce Bogtrotter are amusing and memorable names. Steve Wonka and Bruce Robertson would’ve been less so.  Use Amusing Words Similarly, note how some words simply sound funnier than others. Some comedians believe words with a ‘k’ sound in them are perceived to be funnier. Think about some of the more absurd words in the English language, like filibuster or absquatulate. Get in the habit of searching for synonyms, and ask yourself if the joke would be funnier with a different word choice. Provide Surprise Jokes often involve the rule of three, or listing three things, two straight, and one punchline. Think two brunettes and a blonde, or an Englishman, an Irishman and an American. The first two points establish a pattern, and the third point breaks the pattern, creating humour through surprise.  \'FEDERAL FUNDING, TRAVEL EXPENSES, BOOTY CALLS, AND YOU.\' ‘Red White and Royal Blue’—Casey McQuiston Exaggerate Exaggeration is a widely used humorous technique. Make sure to exaggerate to an extreme extent, going well over-the-top. For example: ‘Mum said I should walk to the shops, but it was about fifty thousand billion degrees outside, so obviously that wasn’t happening.’ Writing Humour By knowing these forms of humour, and following these tips, you can learn to inject humour into your writing in a way that will both amuse your readers, and make your writing more memorable.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

22 Of The Best Writing Podcasts

If you’re a writer looking for some sound advice and a little inspiration, or perhaps you’re in the gloomy depths of your work-in-progress with no hint of light in sight, then I have some fantastic news for you. A plethora of incredible FREE podcasts await you! In this article, I’ll share some of the absolute BEST podcasts for writers. Whether you’re working on your first novel, have a few books under your belt, or if you’ve already been published, I have a novel writing podcast perfect for you.  Why Subscribe To Podcasts For Writers? As a writer who had her very first foray into the world of podcasts just a few short years ago (I’m usually late to the party), I’ve already learned a great deal from them. Not only do author podcasts provide much-needed insight and inspiration, episodes exist on nearly every topic imaginable.  Writing is often a solitary and difficult endeavour but hearing from other writers and industry experts reminds us we’re not alone. Good writing podcasts give us the tools and techniques we need to get the job done. And the best part is you can listen and learn while doing other things – driving, cooking, and walking the dog will never be boring again. Don’t know which writing podcasts are worth listening to? We gotcha covered. Read on… 22 Inspiring Writing Podcasts The Creative Writer’s Tool Belt Hosted by author and creative writing mentor, Andrew Chamberlain, The Creative Writers Toolbelt publishes new episodes bi-monthly, giving writers practical, accessible advice and encouragement. Each episode explores an aspect of creative writing technique, sharing plenty of examples, and allowing writers to immediately apply what they learn to their writing.  This fiction writing podcast also shares the occasional interview with writers or artists, exploring their wisdom on subjects like story, style, character, and writing process. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podomatic. Minorities In Publishing Minorities in Publishing is the brainchild of publishing professional, Jenn Baker. As its name implies, this podcast focuses on diversity (or the lack thereof) in the book publishing industry. In each episode, Baker talks with other publishing professionals, as well as authors and other people involved in the literary scene.  Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podbay.  Beautiful Writers Podcast Beautiful Writers Podcast is hosted by bestselling author, writing coach, ex-ghostwriter, and magazine editor, Linda Sivertsen. This podcast features up-close conversations with the world’s most beloved, bestselling authors about writing, publishing, deal-making, spirituality, activism, and the art of romancing creativity.  Episodes are heart-centered and encouraging with street-smart advice and insider success (and failure), featuring stories for every writer and creative type.  Listen on all American Airlines, in-flight entertainment systems, as well as iTunes, Spotify, iHeartradio, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, PlayerFM, Castbox, PodTail, PodbayFM, and ListenNotes.  My Dad Wrote A Porno The title of this podcast says it all! Imagine if your dad wrote an erotic book. Most people would try to ignore it—but that’s not what Jamie Morton did. Instead, he decided to read it to the world in this groundbreaking comedic podcast. With the help of his best mates, Jamie reads a chapter a week and discovers more about his father than he ever bargained for.  My Dad Wrote a Porno is quite simply sex scene-writing gold (lessons in both what and what not to do). Listen on Acast and Apple Podcast.  Create If Writing Podcast Create If Writing Podcast, hosted by author and writing coach, Kirsten Oliphant, is for any writer, blogger, or creative who wants to build an online platform without being smarmy. The episodes provide a balanced mix of inspiration and technical advice to help writers get their name out there.  Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify. Between The Covers Feeling stuck? We’ve all been there. Between the Covers, hosted by David Naimon, might be just what you need. This literary radio show and podcast features in-depth conversations with both fiction and non-fiction writers, as well as poets. It’s been proclaimed by the Guardian, Book Riot, the Financial Times, and BuzzFeed as one of the most notable book podcasts for writers and readers around. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.  Dead Robots’ Society Dead Robots’ Society was created by Justin Macumber in an effort to offer advice and support to other aspiring writers. This podcast is currently helmed by Macumber, Terry Mixon, and Paul E. Cooley, all of whom have writing experience of some kind. The hosts produce weekly episodes, sharing stories of their individual journeys and discussing topics important to the world of writing.  Listen on PodHoster and Apple Podcasts.  Where Should We Begin While not your typical writing podcast, Where Should We Begin, hosted by therapist Esther Perel, provides behind-the-scenes counselling sessions of real couples. Listening to episodes can help writers better understand the resentments and hopes we all harbour and transfer these emotions over to their fictional writing.  Listen on Spotify.  Otherppl With Brad Listi Are you just starting your writing career? If so, then Otherppl with Brad Listi is the podcast to begin with. Weekly episodes feature interviews with today’s leading writers, poets, and screenwriters. The podcast has been described by NPR as “fun, quirky, and in-depth.”  Listen on Apple Podcasts, Podbay, or get the official free app. Please, Finish Your Book This is another great podcast for beginner writers. Brought to you by John P. Smith, Jr., Please, Finish Your Book is a case study as well as a celebration of how busy people were able to write and publish inspiring, educational, and/or entertaining books despite the distractions from other major priorities.  Listen on Apple Podcasts and Podchaser. Unpublished From Amie McNee Unpublished from Amie McNee is all about building a sustainable, creative life. This podcast delves into the many trials, tribulations, as well as the magic of being a writer seeking publication. It\'s a place to take your art seriously and where you can go to reflect on your own personal journey and build a thriving, creative practice.  Listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  Grammar Girl Quick And Dirty Tips For Better Writing Do you struggle with the grammatical side of writing? If so, Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing is the place to go. This podcast provides short, friendly tips to help you improve your writing and feed your love of the English language. Whether English is your first or second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will help to make you a better and more successful writer.  Listen on Apple Podcasts. Guardian Books Podcast Looking to learn more about books, in general? Guardian Books Podcast, presented by Claire Armitstead, Richard Lea, and Sian Cain, shares in-depth interviews with authors from all over the world. The discussions and investigations make Guardian Books the perfect companion for readers and writers alike.  Listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Writing Excuses Writing Excuses was one of the first writing podcasts I ever listened to, and it’s chock full of high quality, easily applicable advice. Hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Margaret Dunlap, Mahtab Narsimhan, Howard Tyler, and Dan Wells, this fast-paced, educational podcast airs short-ish episodes every Sunday evening. The hosts’ goal is to help listeners become better writers whether they write for fun or for profit.  Listen on Apple Podcasts.  Literary Speaking Literary Speaking is one of the top podcasts for aspiring writers. Hosted by Crystal-Lee Quibell, this podcast features conversations with best-selling authors, literary agents, publishers, and publicity firms. Answering questions such as: How do I establish a writing practice? Find an agent? Get published? Build a platform? Literary Speaking will help you discover all the tips and tricks.  Listen on Apple Podcasts.  Reading Women If you look back at the history of literary awards, few women have received the recognition they deserve. Reading Women reclaims the bookshelf by interviewing authors and reviewing books by or about women from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. This highly-acclaimed podcast releases new episodes every Wednesday. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify. First Draft First Draft is another one of my personal faves. Every Thursday, host Sarah Enni talks to writers and storytellers about their lives, their craft, and how the two overlap. First Draft has over a million downloads and was named one of Apple Podcasts Top 25 Podcasts for Book Lovers.  If you\'re a new or aspiring writer, you can learn about the traditional publishing industry by listening to the Track Changes miniseries on First Draft. Listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  The Writing Community Chat Show Hosted by author Christopher Aggett, The Writing Community Chat Show was born out of Aggett\'s appreciation for the Twitter writing community. Episodes feature stories of indie authors, traditionally-published authors, and other professionals in the writing world. The podcast is unique in that their shows are live-streamed on YouTube before they are converted into a podcast. New episodes are produced twice weekly. Listen on Spotify, Podchaser, YouTube, and Apple Podcasts. The Honest Authors Podcast On The Honest Authors Podcast, bestselling authors Gillian McAllister and Holly Seddon answer all-important questions such as How do you get a book deal? Why does it take so long for a book to come out? and How many abandoned manuscripts does it take to finally hit a home run?  Once authors get published, they often have more questions than before! This podcast releases bi-monthly episodes with lively discussions, interviews with new and upcoming authors, as well as honest answers to all our burning questions.  Listen on Spreaker, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.  The Shit No One Tells You About Writing The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, hosted by author Bianca Marais, has a title no one will forget in a hurry. This podcast is for emerging writers looking to improve their work with an aim of publication, or anyone wanting a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing industry.  Marias interviews authors, editors, agents, publicists, copy editors, and many other types of professionals within the world of writing and publishing. She is also joined by agents Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra from P.S. Literary Agency who read and critique query letters and opening pages in their regular Books with Hooks segment. Listeners can expect good advice, honest insights, and a few laughs along the way.  Listen on Apple Podcasts. No Write Way Hosted by bestselling author, Victoria Schwab, No Write Way shares chats with writers about their creative processes, origin stories, hurdles, work-life balance, and how they write books. Episodes are replays of live video casts, but you can catch the interviews live on Instagram @veschwab.  Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.  Write-Off With Francesca Steele If there’s one thing every writer must face, it\'s rejection. Lucky for us, award-winning journalist and writer, Francesca Steele, talks to authors about their own experiences with rejection and how they manage to get past it on her podcast Write-Off. A must-listen for every writer! Listen on Spotify.  Best Writing Podcasts- It’s A Wrap I\'ve listed 22 of the best fiction writing podcasts available, but, of course, there are many more great ones out there. If you\'re new to the world of writing podcasts, I hope this list will inspire you to get listening and find a few literary faves of your own.    Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Is Copyediting?

A Complete Guide What is copyediting, and why is it a vital part of the writing process? Before I was a traditionally published writer, I thought that you had one editor. I imagined this editor would give me structural feedback, fix all of my spelling and grammar, and ta da! It would all be ready for the printers. I was wrong, very wrong. Editing isn’t one process; it has several levels to it. In traditional publishing you will receive a structural edit from the editor who has commissioned your work, often a line edit, to check every line to make sure that each sentence is as effective as possible, a copyedit, and finally a proofread. But whether you are hoping to be traditionally published or are self-publishing your own work, a copyedit can mean the difference between a good book and a great one. So what is a copyediting and why do you need it? Below you will find information on why a copyedit is so important, how a copyedit differs from proofreading, and exactly what a good copyedit involves. What Is Copyediting? Copyediting is a process of revision, which focuses on eliminating grammatical and factual errors, ensuring consistency and improved readability. That sounds straight-forward, yet a copyeditor does more than fix your grammar and dodgy formatting. Yes, they can spot when you’ve written ‘weather’ instead of ‘whether’ and when you’ve accidentally popped an apostrophe for possession in the word its (we’ve all done it!), but they also do so much more. A copyeditor will notice if you are repeating words. They will spot if in one paragraph you’ve spelled your drink as ‘whiskey’ and in the next chapter it’s ‘whisky’; they might even stop you from writing a sentence that is running on without any punctuation whatsoever so that if you tried to read it out loud your face would be turning blue and you would be on the verge of passing out (see what I did there?). Consistency also plays a huge part in the copyediting process. Your copyeditor will scour your manuscript to spot if your character’s eye colours change from a glacial blue in the first chapter to a muddy brown in the thirtieth, and those all-important moments where you’ve slipped from first person to third person, then back again. And then, of course, there’s the dreaded timeline. The word a lot of us flinch at the mere mention of! Yes, your copyeditor will be there, calendar in hand, to tell you that those dates don’t fit correctly with events you have described. So, let’s look at the copyediting process in more detail. What A Copyeditor Does The role of a copyeditor will largely depend on the condition of the manuscript in front of them, where it will be published, and the time/budget available. Their job is to offer revisions of the following key elements: Align title order and apply consistency in fonts and headings sizesCheck and amend spelling and grammar errorsCheck continuity of place/character names Check continuity of character and setting cosmeticsImprove clarity of language, ensuring the narrative runs smoothlyEnsure that the correct captions are with the appropriate photographConfirm citations match the content of the reference sectionHighlight potential legal liability, with a view to keeping you and your manuscript safe from possible legal action against youHighlight overuse of jargonSuggest changes for repetitionRaise discrepancies in the timeline When you receive your copy edits back, for the most part, your copyeditor will correct your manuscript digitally with track changes on so you can see exactly where you have made (often laughable) mistakes; remember that character, Brian? Well, you have called him Brain for most of your manuscript, but look, your wonderful copyeditor has ironed out all those Brains for you. Phew! There are times when your copyeditor will need your input if they are unsure of your meaning, or think rewording a sentence would help make your manuscript run smoothly. They will add a comment on your document to bring this to your attention. It’s considered quite rare by today’s standards, but should they find themselves working on a paper copy you may find that a copyeditor will use copyediting symbols which a proof-reader may use. In this case, the hard copy would be passed to another editor before it comes to you. At this point some of you may be saying - hold on, I thought a copyeditor was a proofreader? Fear not, my friends, I shall explain all… Difference Between Copyediting And Proofreading Remember how I said at the beginning that there are several levels of editing? Well, proofreading is the last one. Once your manuscript has been copyedited, you will now have a revised version of your manuscript. You have agreed/declined their amendments (yes, you can disagree, it is still your book!) it is then time to have a proof-reader examine your work. You may be thinking - why do I need a copyeditor if it then has to be proofread anyway?  As we’ve already discussed, a copyeditor’s job is to not only look at spelling and grammar but offer an in-depth scrutiny of your manuscript. By the time a proof-reader receives a manuscript, it will be an almost finished piece of work; it will have been to typesetting and the pages in front of them (a PDF if it’s a digital copy) will look like the pages in your book. The job of the proof-reader is to correct any errors that have fallen through the net and they will be focusing on the finished product that is about to go to print. A proof-reader will be ensuring that the house style of the publisher is met. For example, you may have written okay, but your publisher’s house style may be OK. They will look at your page numbers, ensure no pages are missing and even check for repetition of words that sit above each other – often referred to as stacking — in the text.   At the proofreading stage, there should be no major changes in the text, just the odd one-word correction or possibly a paragraph if it’s deemed necessary. If there are too many errors, a proof-reader may return the proof and request further copyediting.  In short, a copyedit will contain a vast number of revisions based on the quality of your writing, the content of your story, as well as the layout and any syntax errors. A proof-reader’s corrections are often minimal as they are working on the final draft of your work. They are there to put the icing on the cake, to straighten your tie, to make sure your knickers aren’t tucked into your dress before you leave the house. Why Copyediting Is Important Copyediting is an invaluable part of the publication process. Without it, you may be sending out a manuscript where your main character is called Brain not Brian, where your characters have the ability to change eye colour at any given time in your novel, and where a year in your work may actually be fourteen months long. You may think your manuscript is ready to be published without a copyeditor, but even the most established and experienced writers make mistakes. Copyeditors are the quality gatekeepers of the publishing world and may well hold the keys to your success. How Long Does Copyediting Take? Writers by and large are an impatient bunch, so how long will you have to wait to have your work copyedited? For a fairly clean manuscript by a professional author, a copy editor will read approximately 1500 words an hour. For a less experienced writer on average it would take 1000-1250 words an hour. If you are thinking of taking the plunge, all reputable copyediting services will be able to provide a quote and an expected delivery date. Do I Need A Copyeditor? Whether you are self-publishing or hoping to be traditionally published, copyediting is a vital part of the publishing process. Without it, the quality of your work may suffer and the wonderful story you are telling may be put aside in favour of the enigmatic blue-eyed Brian whose exciting story unfolds over the course of just one year... not a year and two months. As my own work is currently off to be copyedited, I would like to thank copyeditors everywhere; you are my heroes, and Brian and I are forever in your debt. If your work would benefit from copy-editing, try our copy-editing service. Or, try our line-editing service. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

How To Eliminate Passive Voice From Your Writing

You may have heard the term ‘passive voice’ or even been told not to use it, but why is the passive voice a bad idea and how do you fix it? In this article, you will learn the difference between active and passive voice, how to spot passive voice misuse (and how to fix it), and learn what to do if passive voice becomes a smoke-screen for other issues. At the end, there will also be a checklist to apply when editing your manuscript.  What Is Passive Voice? Most people find it easier to spot the use of the passive voice in single examples and trickier when editing a whole manuscript; also, these things are about balance. It isn’t necessary to eliminate absolutely every example of the passive voice from your writing because there are some modes of writing that require it – more on that in a minute.  With these things in mind, let’s look at a simple example of passive voice. Take a look at these two versions of the same sentence. The first is written in an active voice, the second in a passive voice: Steve stole the sweets from the shop.The sweets were stolen from the shop by Steve. Now try this exercise. Which aspects of the first sentence could I remove and have it still make sense? Yes, I could substitute different words until I had a new sentence: Betty ate the ice cream at the skatepark, for instance, but that’s not what I mean. Which phrase could I take off the original sentence, while still communicating the same information, albeit in less detail? Hopefully, you’ll agree that I could remove ‘from the shop’ but nothing else, otherwise I won’t have a sentence anymore. ‘Steve stole the sweets’ still makes sense. What about the second sentence? How much can I cut and still end up with a sentence? I can take away much more this time. I could go for ‘The sweets were stolen from the shop’ or simply ‘The sweets were stolen.’ Look at my new sentences: Steve stole the sweets.The sweets were stolen. What’s wrong with the second sentence? Identify that, and you’ll get to the nub of the issue: why the passive voice comes with an advisory warning. Can you see the problem? What Is Passive Voice Misuse?  The character or ‘person who acts’ – the subject – is missing from the second sentence. We no longer know who is responsible for stealing the sweets, the object of the sentence. Blame has been removed, or rather, as this is a post on the passive voice, I removed blame from sentence two.  This explains why passive voice isn’t simply a grammar problem you can solve by looking it up on Grammarly or another grammar-correction tool. The ‘why’ – and in writing (as in life) it’s always good to look for the ‘why’ – is that when we use the passive voice, the acting subject is often missing. If you’re telling a story, your readers want to know about the acting subject, so they can stand in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. They can’t do that if the character is no longer the subject of the action. Passive voice misuse is often unintentional and sometimes a hidden problem. Ever wondered why your reading group say they can’t connect with your characters? Perhaps passive voice is to blame. So how do you edit your work to avoid passive voice? Place the acting subject at the beginning of the sentence or clause. In the case of our two examples, the sentence with Steve at the beginning works best. If you’re editing a sentence without an acting subject, like ‘the sweets were stolen’, then introduce one. By the way, if you don’t want your readers to know who stole the sweets, you’ll need to create a different action – “Sarah discovered her sweets were missing,” for example.  Let’s look at another reason for avoiding the passive voice. Both the example sentences lack detail, and both sentences are examples of ‘summary narration’, which is the opposite of ‘show don\'t tell’, but – crucially – at least sentence one contains within it the possibility of ‘show not tell’. It’s much easier to edit ‘Steve stole the sweets’ than ‘the sweets were stolen’. I could change sentence one to ‘after sunset, Steve crept towards the sweetshop, carrying his torch,’ for example, or for my North American readers: ‘after sundown, Steve crept towards the candy store carrying his flashlight.’  But how would you instil some ‘show not tell’ into sentence two? ‘The sweets in the shop were crept towards after sunset’? That sentence feels all wrong. One way to tell that a sentence contains the passive voice when it shouldn’t is that it will be hard to turn it from summary narration into step-by-step ‘showing’. You might also have the reverse problem: you might be finding it hard to incorporate more showing and less telling because you’ve used the passive voice. If so, decide who is acting in any given section of your story, and place him or her centre stage.   I’ve mentioned that using the active voice matters when you’re telling a story, so novelists and short story writers in particular need to look out for it. But editing for active voice can also be useful in nonfiction and poetry.  Let’s look at nonfiction first.  You may have noticed that I’ve occasionally used the passive voice in this article, and other times I’ve put the acting subject (you, we or I) at the beginning of the sentence. If you’re writing something instructional (a recipe, a ‘how to’ book, this blog post) then you are likely to have to use the passive voice occasionally. But any time you tell a story in nonfiction – whether that’s a book-length project or a feature article – edit for the passive voice. The same rules apply. In poetry, if you’ve included a speaker who’s present during the poem, then look out for the passive voice. It’s hard to change the active, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ into the passive voice but imagine reading ‘lonely wandering like a cloud’ or ‘the hills and dales were wandered over’ instead. Arguably, it’s the ‘I’, or the active subject at the beginning of the first line of Wordsworth’s famous poem, that makes the line powerful. With the lyrical ‘I’ missing, it falls flat. If you are editing a poem right now, and you’re stumped, try adding a lyrical ‘I’ as an experiment (you can blame me if it goes wrong). Put the speaker at the start of at least a couple of lines, like Wordsworth does, and see what happens. Not all poetry needs a lyrical ‘I’, of course, but it’s a fun writing technique to try if you get stuck.  When Is It OK To Use Passive Voice? When adopting an objective tone is important (ie a science report or legal document)When you don’t want the subject of the sentence to influence the messageWhen you want to take yourself or the subject out of the equation and make the object the focus, such as when reprimanding someone. For example: ‘The shoes were on the table’ is less accusatory than ‘You left your shoes on the table.’ Changing Passive Voice To Active Voice Did you learn to write up science experiments at school like this?The magnesium was placed in the test tube. The hydrochloric acid was added using a pipette. A lit paper tab was used to ignite the oxygen. The results were observed and recorded, as follows. Sometimes it’s hard to unlearn the way you were taught to write at school. The following passage describes the same thing, but this time I’ve used the active voice, and I’ve fictionalised: Mr Burns was on fire today, literally. He got us to gather round at the front of the classroom and he poured this stuff – mag something – into a little bottle then he got another bottle out and told us never ever to touch it because it can make your whole mouth fall off and your hair fall out or something and he mixed the two together and there was a brilliant white flame and an explosion and the next thing I remember is the sleeves of Mr Burns’ white coat being on fire, and Maize had aimed a fire extinguisher at him. What’s the difference between the two? One is written in passive voice, appropriately for a science report, and one is written in the active voice, again appropriately for children’s fiction. But that’s not the only difference. The tone and the voice are different too. Stop for a moment and consider the following before using passive voice: What genre are you writing in?PacingPoint of viewTarget readership How To Recognise And Eliminate Passive Voice  Changing from a passive to an active voice often means simply moving the acting subject to the beginning of a sentence. In the example I gave earlier, Steve was the subject and the sweets he stole were the object. The shop was contextual information.  But What If Passive Voice Itself Isn’t Your Biggest Issue?  A mistake I see some beginning fiction writers make is this: they’ll skip over the emotionally hard parts of a scene or avoid writing a difficult scene in its entirety, rather than using step-by-step narration, probably because it’s too painful to write. Sometimes they’ll make it seem impossible to turn these scenes into step-by-step narration because they’ve used the passive voice.  Here\'s an example I made up: The diary she had discovered in the attic turned out to be her mother’s and was duly searched for information that might lead to the solution of the case, but no information was forthcoming. Mavis found it made her feel very tired and weepy and, walking a stretch of the coastal path the next day, many memories flooded back to her.  Let’s imagine this was written by a would-be novelist who thinks they have a problem with the passive voice. Although sorting out the passive voice in this paragraph would help, the writer’s ‘real’ problem is that they’ve tried to skip the emotional aspects of the scene, discovering the diary in the attic, by summarising them instead. We could refer to this problem as skip-itis; the desire to skip a difficult or emotionally charged scene.  If the use of the passive voice is simply a way of summarising the information, it’s not the main problem. You’ll notice that this paragraph also lacks detail and contains little or no characterisation. If this writer described climbing up into the attic to find the old diary step-by-step, using detail and an extra 500 words or more, while focusing on the character, it would be almost impossible to use the passive voice.   The good news is that, as far as my made up would-be novelist is concerned, this example paragraph acts as a mini plan for the scene they\'re going to write Here are some tips to help you to solve this problem: Give yourself enough time to write the emotional or difficult scene.Build in extra breaks – don’t go straight from writing this scene to another task, even if you can only manage a five-minute walk or a cup of tea. Make a start. Begin with something easy, like a main character performing a simple action. In my example, this writer could have said: Mavis climbed the ladder into the attic. Put the character at the beginning of most of your sentences in the first draft.If in doubt, have your character perform an action or series of actions before you summarise or use dialogue or internal monologue. That’s because summary, dialogue and internal monologue (along with passive voice) can all be symptoms of skip-itis. Remember first drafts are meant to be rubbish. They get better every time you redraft. Don’t try to make the scene ‘good’, simply try to get your character from the beginning of the scene to the end.  Passive voice usually takes more words than active voice, so if you get a sense that you’re beating about the bush and taking longer to express an idea than you need to, see if passive voice is to blame.  Using the active voice clarifies the idea you’re trying to express, meaning you get to the point quicker and you can cut extra phrases along the way. If you’re unsure about what you’re trying to say in your writing, or lack confidence, you may have (subconsciously) added padding, extra words that hide the central idea. Changing from the passive to the active voice can be like shining a light on these wordy ‘padded’ sentences.  A Passive Voice Editing Checklist Here’s a handy checklist to use when editing your creative writing and checking for passive voice: Have you used step-by-step narration when it’s needed? Is the action unfolding in front of us?Have you placed the acting subject (probably one of your main characters) at the start of your sentences or clauses, on the whole? Have you made them important by placing them centre stage?Have you skipped any of the emotionally difficult scenes by summarising? Could you make an idea clearer or use fewer words by switching to the active voice?  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

10 of the Best Apps and Software Solutions for Writing Your Book or Screenplay

How using certain online tools can improve your writing Any writer will tell you that writing is hard. Although it’s something we can all relate to, we are only as good as our tools. Which is why it’s important to know what novel writing software is available for when inspiration strikes. Some of the best apps for writers are made specifically for novels or screenplays. It can be hard to choose and determine the best creative writing app for you, which is why I’ve compiled this handy guide. In this article, you’ll get to know what you might be looking for in creative writing apps as well as a list of my top recommendations for software for writers. Writing/editing software doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. Read on to learn more about some of my top picks for your writer’s toolbelt! Selecting the Best Novel Writing Software First thing’s first: choosing the best writing app for your needs and expectations. There’s an ever-growing abundance of software tools and apps available for writers, both for editing grammar and clarity, as well as structuring or formatting your writing.  Having so many choices can be bewildering, especially if you consider yourself a dabbler or a writer of multiple genres or styles. However, there’s an app out there for everyone, whether it be outlining software, proofreading software, or simply an aesthetically pleasing writing platform! Before we dive into these top 10 writing apps, take some time to determine your own needs and wants. For example, are you looking for an app that is just for story planning, or are you looking for a technologically advanced screenwriting software? Depending on how specific your needs are, some writing apps are better than others. One of the most determining factors when shopping for author software is knowing the platform on which the app or software is required to run. Do you have a Mac or Windows computer? The best writing apps for Android or iPad may vary. Are you hoping to work on your phone or tablet? These questions will help you select the best writing software. You should also think about the various capabilities and features that many creative writing apps can provide. These include: TemplatesMany apps offer novel or screenplay templates, a perfect feature for new or structured writers looking for assistance in their formatting.Cost / LicensingOn a budget? Some of these writing apps on this list are free, but many others have fees, including monthly subscription options.Ease of use / easy to learnOften writing apps can feel like you are learning an entirely new language; choosing a more simplistic app could be beneficial if you are searching for something that you can write on right away.Additional useful featuresAre you hoping for formatting tips or assistance with your overall grammar and sentence clarity? Some writing apps offer these features, and many more. If you are looking for something specific, keep an eye out for that!File formatsHaving an app for writing that will save in a variety of formats can be extremely valuable for writers, especially those of you submitting your work under very precise guidelines.Collaboration capabilitiesIf you are working on a writing project with a group or other collaborators, you may want to find an app that allows you to work on the same project with multiple writers, however remotely.  I have selected and examined the following software for writers, considering budget and needs. 6 Best Book Writing Software Programs These are some of my top choices of software to write a book, including manuscript software. While these apps are listed under ‘book writing’, they might also be used for playwriting, screenwriting, or other various writing forms.  Scrivener My own personal pick for writing projects of all shapes and sizes, Scrivener is one of the most popular writing apps out there today. With fantastic template options and digital sticky notes for organising, the sky’s the limit for your writing projects. You can choose manuscript outlines with front and back matter formatting included, screenplay outlines for your next pilot, or even outlines for simple essays or formal documents. You can organise the app however you like, with theme colours and a wide array of content analysing features. While Scrivener has a lot to offer, there is an extremely steep learning curve. It took me a few days of consistent use to master it, and even now I know that I have just barely scratched the surface. However, the app has tutorials that you can follow at any time, should the writing app be confusing! Scrivener works on Mac or Windows systems, each costing £47 ($65) per operating system, and you may also consider purchasing a £20 ($28) app for Android and IOS devices. This allows all devices to sync so long as you have a Dropbox account, updating your writing projects across all platforms, wherever you are!  Read more about Scrivener here, and feel free to download its 30-day free trial so that you can get a feel for it. Microsoft Word The most classic of writing platforms, Microsoft Word still has a lot to offer a writer, no matter your genre or specialization. Microsoft Word will no doubt feel familiar to most any writer, as it is set up similarly to most document programs, such as Google Docs or even Scrivener. Microsoft Word offers an annual subscription fee that includes Microsoft’s entire suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) as well as 1 terabyte of storage for single users. The fee is a bit steep- around £60 ($70) for the year.  However, their programs work across multiple devices, and offering cloud storage solutions is a great perk for writers with a lot of content or documents. Microsoft Word has grown a lot over the years too; their spell check and grammar tools have only gotten better, and Word can look at your documents for its overall flow and feel. You can check out all that Microsoft has to offer here, as well as compare each and every product that they offer. If you live in a house with multiple aspiring writers, a Microsoft subscription may suit you well. Google Docs A mainstay for many people, Google Docs is a fantastic free writing software available to anyone with an internet connection. You can work on a document both online and offline, with free storage from Google. Oh, and did I mention this writing tool is completely free to use? While Google Docs may not have all of your favourite fonts and editing options, it has a comprehensive grammar and sentence structure editor as well as standard formatting options found in Microsoft Word.  Like Microsoft properties, Google Docs is a part of an entire suite of useful apps and writing tools, such as Sheets, Slides, Drive, and many more. Google Docs is also ideal if you plan on collaborating with people across time zones or otherwise remotely. You can chat in real time in the document or leave comments for people to see later. Multiple people can edit a Google Doc at once with an internet connection, and you have the option to suggest edits that can be rejected or accepted and applied by your peers. A great tool for collaborations and teams. Plus don’t forget it’s totally free! Check out Google Docs here, if you haven’t done so already. Evernote Do you have a big project to tackle with images, deadlines, and more? Evernote may be the app for you, a perfect writing tool for the busy author. Much more than just a writing document, Evernote brings all of your organization needs into one streamlined writing app. With Evernote, you can sync your documents and notes across all devices, no matter the operating system or product, from a Mac laptop to a Samsung phone and back to an iPad. You can organize your documents and notes to your heart’s delight or leave everything in chaos. Because Evernote’s ingenious search system can find the document that you’re hunting for. Do you take a lot of screen captures for your writing? Evernote allows you to annotate and edit screencapped PDFs, images, and more. It can search handwriting, images, and any document type for keywords, giving you access to everything you have saved with a quick search. Evernote keeps any writer’s business sorted and all in one place, no matter how busy you are. And the best part about Evernote? They offer free plans as well as monthly subscriptions depending on your usage and needs. Plans range from £6 ($8)/month to no more than £11 ($15)/month, per person. Check out all that Evernote has to offer here. Hemingway App Are you a writer known for being verbose, and prone to long, rambling sentences? Then you may be a writer that could benefit from the Hemingway App, named after no other than Ernest Hemingway. Import your latest novel and watch Hemingway light up, highlighting your work in various colours that correspond to different editing tips. Hemingway is designed to point out boring words, wandering or passive sentences, and those pesky adverbs. It’s like having a line editor in your own home for just $20 (£15) in total. It can be a great backup writing app, especially once your manuscript is complete. Hemingway works on Mac and PC operating systems, with or without an internet connection. You can format your document and write directly in Hemingway, a simple and focused editor leading to a more concentrated work environment. You can also publish directly to WordPress or other websites from the app. Check out Hemingway here. Grammarly Let’s say that you have your favourite document program, but you just wish the spelling and grammar checker was a bit more informed. Enter Grammarly, a free program that you can use with most popular word document creators, including Microsoft Word and Google. Grammarly is capable of working in tandem with your favourite document editor, pointing out not only your spelling mistakes, but also any sentences lacking in clarity or engaging points. It’s a great free app for anyone to try, and you can download it as a browser add-on here. 4 Best Screenwriting Apps If you are a budding screenwriter looking for apps more directly geared for your work, you’re in the right place. While all of the apps and software I’ve already listed will still work wonders for your screenplay, the following writing apps are made exclusively for plays or screenwriters alike! Fade In Beloved by many Hollywood hotshot writers for its ease of use and comprehensive features, Fade In is a wonderful app for screenwriters at any level. Available for any operating system, including mobile app features, Fade In is your writing companion, whether it be a full-length play or short pilot episode. Fade In is a complete application for writing motion picture screenplays, including tools for outlining, organising, and navigating, plus extensive screenplay formatting and robust tools for managing rewrites and revisions. The app’s appearance is unfussy and simplistic, allowing you room to write and organise as need be. With many templates and the option to collaborate, Fade In is a great app for screenwriters. You can try it for free for a trial period, or buy it for a flat rate of $80 (£60). Learn more about Fade In here. Final Draft If you consider yourself more than a beginning scriptwriter, you might consider purchasing Final Draft. Apparently used by 95% of movie and television writers, Final Draft has been the industry standard for many years. Its price tag may be high for budding writers, but it could also take your work to the next level. Working on Windows or Mac desktops as well as offering a mobile app, Final Draft is key for those of you submitting your writing frequently. With over 300 templates across multiple disciplines, Final draft paginates and formats your writing to industry standards, saving you loads of time when submission deadlines loom. It has story planning and outlining capabilities, and real-time comments just in case you need to make a note and come back to your work later. It has a simplistic, non-distracting design, as well as many formatting options and tutorials included. Final Draft offers a 60-day free trial for those of you on the fence; it’s fair, given that it costs £183 ($250) upfront. You can look at Final Draft’s many additional features here. ScriptBuilder If Final Draft’s features feel daunting, I highly recommend checking out ScriptBuilder. Just like its name implies, ScriptBuilder is perfect for the budding screenwriter, offering both outline and character builders, scene formatting, and more all from your phone or other device. Costing less than £4/$5 to unlock all of the app’s features, ScriptBuilder is ideal for those of you who get ideas for screenplays while you’re out and about but don’t want to forget them. You can easily jot them down on your mobile device, and format using the app later. While it is simple, it is also effective for fleshing out the overall arc of scenes and screenplay plots. You can even build your characters. Keep in mind that this app is only available for Apple products at this time, but you can learn more about it here. Celtx Pro Writing for television, video production, and game production? Celtx may be a great choice for you, especially considering its many collaborative features. By housing familiar screenplay-style script editing within a branching sequence-based structure, Celtx Game & VR editor enables writers to easily create nonlinear, decision-oriented narratives of unlimited scope. Celtx brings your key creatives together in a single, secure, cloud-based workspace that facilitates seamless collaboration at every step of the narrative design process – including project-wide communication powered by an internal commenting and tagging system. This isn’t for the average writer, but it could be perfect for a team of writers and developers, especially if you want to produce games! The cost? It depends on what features you’d like, but pricing begins at £11($15)/month and scales up to £20 ($27)/month. However, they have an introductory first year price that you can check out here. Conclusion Finding a writing app that suits all of your needs is possible, though the search can be daunting. I encourage you to check out the many excellent software apps and programs available to aid authors and screenwriters found on this list. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Proofreading Marks: What Do They Mean?

As a new author, there’s nothing more important than a properly edited piece of writing. It can make or break your submissions, and editors on any level, for any project, will no doubt have notes to give you! While many writers use the Track Changes function on Word, or apps that can add changes or allow for suggestions from editors, there are still some writers opting for old-school hand-written edits. But why do proofreaders use all sorts of symbols and silly markings to edit your work? More than that, what do all of these marks mean? These unusual red scribbles are a necessary evil when it comes to your work being edited, and they can mean a variety of things. Let’s go over what proofreading marks are, and how you can best decipher them before your next big round of edits. What Are Proofreading Marks? These special signs and symbols relate to sections of your work that need editing or adjusting. This can range from spelling errors to grammatical errors to formatting preferences. These forms of corrections may be less frequently found these days, due to the progression of “track changes” and “suggestions” in many word processing applications. However, some of the symbols are widely used so every writer should familiarise themselves appropriately. It\'s also worth noting that some editors that have their own special characters too - so it\'s important to reach out to your proofreader should you not understand their corrections. How might these marks be used, and what are some marks that have been universally accepted by editors and proofreaders? Let’s go over these now... How Proofreading Marks Are Used Proofreading marks are used by editors to point out changes that need making in your document. They are typically located in the right and left margins of a printed document with pointers to where in the text changes are recommended. Both copy editing symbols and abbreviations will be found along your margins or in your text and various sentences, and they can mean anything from improper sentence spacing to transposing your sentence in an entirely different way for clarity.  You will have slashes through words (which means please remove) and abbreviations for formatting changes (such as italics and bold). You will encounter odd squiggles (often meaning “delete” or “transpose”), and your proofreader may even rewrite whole sentences in your margins. Yes, proofreading marks can be overwhelming, especially if you weren’t expecting so many specific edits! These shorthand symbols took me a while to learn and were more complicated than I expected them to be, so be patient with yourself. Once you\'ve gone through multiple rounds of edits with the same proofreader you\'ll soon get the hang of it. What Are The Common Proofreading Symbols? Here\'s a comprehensive list of proofreading marks. Note that there are two types - abstract symbols and abbreviations. ^   - Insert something, most likely an edit found in your marginsㄉ - Delete this word or section; usually this symbol will appear in the margins of your work while there will be a diagonal or straight line through the specific word, letter, or sentence that needs deleting[  - Move your writing left]  - Move your writing right] [  - Center your text#  - Add spaceeq#  - Make the spacing equalbf  - Bold a section of textItal  - Italicise a section of text(/) - Insert some parentheses[/] - Insert some brackets=  - Insert a hyphen;/ - Insert a semicolon! - Insert an exclamation point? - Insert a question mark~  - Transpose (meaning rewrite the sentence, usually)❡  - Begin a new paragraphfl  - Flush left, or align the text with the left marginfr  - Flush right, or align the text with the right marginAWK  - Something about a particular phrase or sentence is worded awkwardly or strangelyWW  - This refers to “wrong word”, such as using the wrong form of “there”WDY  - A particular sentence is most likely too wordy, complicated, or overstated This is only the beginning of the many possible symbols and proofreaders’ abbreviations. Communicate with your proofreader so you don’t misunderstand any specific symbols. You may also wish to refer to a professional proofreading mark guide, such as this helpful list. How To Use Proofreading Marks While they may seem daunting and sometimes discouraging, these corrections are necessary for writers at any stage. No matter how many copy-editing marks you receive, know that you are on track to make your work the best it can be, with the help of a skilled proofreader! Try our proof-reading service here. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What are Literary Devices?

What are Literary Devices? We writers are always looking for ways to strengthen our storytelling. One of the most impactful techniques to do this is using literary devices, which are effective techniques used to hint at different ideas, themes and meanings in a story. Literary devices are used across different genres, and each one serves a specific purpose. They are tools that will take your writing to the next level – making it more impactful and engaging for your readers, hooking them in from the first page until the last. In this guide, we\'ll examine the definitions of literary devices and examples of different literary devices. It\'ll be everything you need to know to maximise the effect of literary devices and use them to strengthen your storytelling.  Understanding Literary Devices A literary device is a technique that writers use to express their ideas and hint at larger themes and meanings in a story. These devices are excellent ways to enhance writing, strengthen the narrative and engage readers, helping them to connect to the characters\' themes.  There are many different styles of literary devices, and most are used in tandem; some are used at sentence level, looking at flow and pacing, while others are a broader approach, serving the story as a whole. Understanding different literary devices and maximising their impact can significantly improve your writing and a reader\'s experience.  Let’s take a look at popular literary devices in more detail and see if there are any you recognise… List of Literary Devices Allegory An allegory is a literary device that uses plot and characters to express and explore abstract and complex ideas. This might be used to present issues in a way that is understandable and approachable for the reader. We see many allegories in fairy tales and Biblical stories.  A literary device similar to this is \'anthropomorphism\' – a type of personification that gives human characteristics to either objects or non-humans, such as animals.  George Orwell\'s Animal Farm is one of the most famous allegorical novels (and is also an example of anthropomorphism in literature). Using animals to represent different political beliefs and the rise of communism, it’s a multi-layered commentary with a strong message beneath the story\'s surface. Alliteration Alliteration is a literary device that is a collection of words or phrases that reflect repetition, and all begin with the same sound. It gives more stress to the consonants and creates something memorable in your writing, particularly when choosing the title of your book. For example, Jane Austen\'s use of alliteration in her book titles, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, made them memorable at the time and classics today. Allusion An allusion is a literary device (not to be confused with \'illusion\') that references something in the real world, whether a person, a place or an event. This device can connect with your readers and paint an accurate picture of a situation. An allusion example is referring to someone as ‘a total Scrooge’. This reference (thanks to Dickens famous work) would immediately paint an accurate picture in a reader\'s mind without elaborating further. They would know this person is tight with money and is miserable and grumpy.  Anachronism An anachronism is a literary device that can portray an intentional error in the era of a story. This device can be used to comment on a theme or even for comedic effect. For example, a character appearing in a different time period, using speech from a different era, or technology appearing before its invention. William Shakespeare used anachronisms in his writing, like the dollar currency in Macbeth and the clock in Julius Caesar (mechanical clocks were not invented in 44 AD). Anaphora Anaphora is a literary device used to emphasise a phrase or words to reinforce meaning and feelings for the reader. This is when a word or phrase is repeated, typically at the beginning of successive sentences or phrases.  The perfect anaphora can be found in the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett - \"You is kind. You is smart. You is important.\" This quote reinforces the relationship between the two characters. A famous example in speech is Winston Churchill\'s ‘We Shall Fight on the Beaches.’ He rallied the troops and the British people in this speech, and throughout it, repeated the phrase \"we shall fight\" – invoking strong responses and stirring emotions.  Anthropomorphism We touched on anthropomorphism earlier when we discussed an allegory. To anthropomorphise is to ascribe human traits, emotions or behaviours to non-human beings, like objects, animals or phenomena. This literary device differs from personification, which creates imagery, as anthropomorphism is literal. For example, Cogsworth the clock and Lumière the candlestick in Disney\'s Beauty and the Beast are household objects that act and behave like humans. And Pinocchio was anthropomorphised when he gained the ability to talk, walk, think, and feel like a real boy. Archetype An archetype is a literary device that brings familiarity to a story – it\'s typically a \"universal symbol\" with qualities or traits that readers can easily identify. This literary device is used to reveal characters, images or themes that are instantly recognisable to any audience. The literary Hero Archetype, for example, is typically noble, courageous, self-sacrificing and will right wrongs and fight injustice. Cliffhanger A cliffhanger is a classic literary device used as an effective way to keep your reader\'s attention – such as the revelation of who Luke\'s father is in The Empire Strikes Back. It marks the end of a part of the story (the end of a chapter or TV episode), but with the purpose of keeping an audience engaged. A common way to do this is through shock factor, an abrupt ending offering no obvious resolution (until the person turns the page, buys the next book, or watches the next episode).  Colloquialism Colloquialism uses informal language and slang, and when used as a literary device, it can build a character\'s personality and authenticity through their dialogue. A colloquialism is a word or expression common within a specific language, geographic region, or historical era. Therefore, it can also indicate the setting of a story in the context of time and place. The language Holden Caulfield uses in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is a great example of colloquialism.  Dramatic irony Dramatic irony is a literary device used to create situations where the audience knows more than the characters. Therefore, the actions of the characters have a different meaning for the audience. Typically, this device often lends itself to tragedy, as demonstrated in Shakespeare\'s Romeo and Juliet, when the audience knows that the lovers are both alive but the characters think the other is dead.  Dramatic irony is not to be confused with situational irony (when readers expect a certain outcome and are surprised by an unexpected turn of events) and verbal irony (when the intended meaning of a statement is the opposite of what was said). Exposition Exposition is a crucial literary device – it is when the narrative provides background information about events, settings, characters or any other relevant element to help the reader understand what\'s going on. It is typically used in conjunction with dialogue and description, offering a richer understanding of the story.  Exposition is presented through many methods, including dialogue, a protagonist\'s thoughts, a narrator\'s explanation or in-universe media, such as letters and newspapers. For example, in the Star Wars movies, the opening title sequence gives the audience the information they need to understand the upcoming events in the film: \"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….\" Beware, though, that too much exposition runs the risk of undercutting the emotional impact of a story. As we all know, ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’ where possible. Flashback A flashback is a literary device used to split up the current scenes in a story and look back to something that has happened in the past. It is typically used to build suspense. Flashbacks can also present exposition (revealing information or context about something that\'s happened in the past). Examples of flashbacks include memories and dream sequences. In Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the alternate chapters in the first part of the book are flashbacks through the medium of diary entries.  Foreshadowing Foreshadowing is a literary device that can create and build suspense by indicating or hinting to readers that something will happen later in a story. It creates dramatic tension and can often be used in conjunction with flashbacks. However, the difference between the two is that a flashback directly offers readers exposition or background information. In contrast, foreshadowing is a little more subtle and gives just a hint or a sense of what is to come. The symbolism of Harry Potter\'s scar is an excellent example of foreshadowing.  Frame story A frame story is when the main or supporting character tells part of the story or narrative. The frame story essentially \"frames\" another part of it. This device supports the rest of the plot – it is typically used at the beginning or the end of a story, or in small interludes in-between. The movie Titanic is a great example of this. The main plot is set in 1912, but Rose frames the narrative when she looks back over what happened and tells a story within a story.  Humour Humour is a literary device to make readers laugh or keep them amused. It can be difficult to do, as it relies on instinct, making it harder to teach or learn. But there are different techniques, tools and words that can bring funny situations to life and achieve the goal of making an audience happy. Different types of humour include slapstick, surprise, sarcasm and hyperbole, among many others. Humour isn\'t only present in contemporary writing, as Jane Austen used humour throughout Pride and Prejudice, especially in conveying the relationship between Mr and Mrs Bennet.  Imagery Imagery is a literary device that evokes a sensory experience for the reader by using highly descriptive language. Strong imagery will paint a picture by following the rules of \'show, don\'t tell.\' It means playing to the reader\'s senses by describing sights, tastes, sounds, smells and feelings to bring a scene, character or situation to life. An example of this in Shakespeare\'s work is in The Taming of the Shrew: \"If I be waspish, best beware my sting.\" In Medias Res In Media Res is a literary device used when a narrative begins without exposition or contextual information. It is a Latin term that means \"in the midst of things\". Therefore, the story launches straight into a scene or in the middle of an already unfolding action, creating suspense and tension immediately. Odyssey by Homer is a famous example of this. Irony Verbal irony is when the intended meaning of a statement is the opposite of what was said. It is not to be confused with situational irony; a literary device used when readers expect a certain outcome and are surprised by an unexpected turn of events. There is also dramatic irony, a literary device used to create situations where the audience knows more than the characters. An example of irony in a plot is demonstrated in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, when the characters already have what they are asking for from the wizard. Juxtaposition Juxtaposition is a literary device used to place different themes, characters, or concepts and highlight their differences. Instead of being overtly comparative, juxtaposition is an implied comparison, allowing the reader to discern how both entities are different. Juxtaposition can take many forms, such as human instinct and animal instinct in Life of Pi, and kindness and selfishness in Cinderella. Motif A motif is a repeated element, whether it takes the form of an image, idea, sound or word that has symbolic significance in a story. The defining aspect of this literary device is that it repeats frequently. Through repetition, the motif helps develop the narrative\'s theme and illuminates the central ideas, theme or deeper meaning of the story. Motifs are not to be confused with symbols, which may appear once or twice and help understand an idea in the narrative. An example of a motif is in the Godfather series, through the repetition of oranges featured on screen before a character dies. Another example is in Tolstoy\'s Anna Karenina – trains are a repetitive motif that ultimately symbolises death and destruction. Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate the sound of what they\'re referring to. It can be used as a literary device to make descriptions more expressive and, therefore, more effective. For example, words such as buzz, snap and grunt are frequently used in children\'s books to add action and emotion to a story.  Oxymoron An oxymoron is a figure of speech that pairs two words together that are either opposing or contradictory. It can be used as a literary device to allow writers to take a creative approach and play with the use and meaning of words. As a result, it can create an impression and entertain the reader. An oxymoron is about words, not to be confused with juxtaposition, which contrasts two opposing story elements. An example of an oxymoron is in Shakespeare\'s Romeo and Juliet: \"Parting is such sweet sorrow.\" Paradox A paradox is typically a statement that might appear contradictory at first but makes sense after reflection. It\'s a literary device that asks people to think outside the box by questioning the logic and provoking readers to think critically. A paradox can also elicit humour and illustrate themes, such as in Scarface: \"Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.\"  Personification Personification means assigning human traits to describe non-human entities or inanimate objects to express something creatively and imaginatively. It is not to be confused with anthropomorphism, which actually applies these traits to non-human things – whereas personification means the behaviour of the object or entity does not change – it\'s personified in figurative language only. This literary device might be used to create life and explore abstract ideas and themes within inanimate objects and animals by applying human behaviours and emotions. For example, Shirley Jackson\'s The Haunting of Hill House turns the house into a living entity through personification.  Point of view Point of view is a vital literary device, as it\'s the angle of perspective in the narration of a story. It\'s a crucial decision because each point of view will have a different impact on the story and the reader\'s experience. The point of view effectively governs the audience\'s access and determines how much they will know as the story develops.  The most common points of view in literature are the first and third person. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The first-person narrative (using pronouns I/we) allows the writer to connect with the reader, as this perspective means the reader has access to the narrator\'s inner thoughts and feelings.  An example of a first-person point of view is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, when the story is told by Scout. From a storytelling perspective, the third person narrative (using pronouns she/he/they) is flexible because it allows you to write from multiple characters\' perspectives and show their actions and thoughts. An example of the third-person (omniscient) point of view is Middlemarch by George Eliot. The second person point of view is less common, as it uses the pronoun \"you\" to bring the reader into the story, for example, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Repetition Repetition means intentionally repeating a word or phrase two or more times. While you don\'t want to overdo it, occasional repetition can be an excellent tool to bring clarity to an idea, make something memorable for a reader, drill home a point or create an atmosphere. The best example of this is in horror stories, as horror writers use repetition as a literary device to make readers feel trapped. For example, in The Shining, Jack repeatedly types out \"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.\" This reveals Jack\'s downward spiral as cabin fever takes over. It is not to be confused with anaphora, which is specific in its intent to repeat, and the repetition is typically at the beginning of consecutive sentences, phrases, or clauses.  Satire Satire is a literary device used to make fun of human nature or society to expose or correct it. It is typically done through exaggeration, amusement, contempt, ridicule or irony, usually with the hope of creating awareness and subsequent social change. Satire can be overt or subtle but is common throughout history and popular culture. Examples of this in film and T.V. include Deadpool (satirises the superhero genre), Shrek (satirises fairy tales) and Family Guy (satirises American middle-class society and conventions). Situational irony Situational irony is a literary device used when readers expect a certain outcome and are surprised by an unexpected turn of events. This is not to be confused with verbal irony or dramatic irony, which we already covered. An example of situational irony in a plot is demonstrated in the T.V. programme Schitt\'s Creek when a wealthy family is catapulted into a less privileged life.  Soliloquy A soliloquy is typically a speech or monologue involving a character speaking their thoughts out loud and usually at length. These are frequently in theatrical plays. The purpose of this as a literary device is for the character to reflect independently – they\'re not speaking for the benefit of other people. It\'s an effective device because it offers insight into a character\'s internal thoughts, reflections and emotions. Shakespeare\'s Hamlet\'s \"to be or not to be\" speech is a classic example of a soliloquy.  Suspense Suspense is a vital tool that writers use to keep their readers interested throughout the story. There are many ways to use suspense as a literary device. For example, raising questions and withholding information. The purpose of suspense is to create a feeling of anticipation that something exciting, risky or even dangerous will happen. It helps readers to engage with characters and evokes emotions, such as sympathy, towards them.  In Gillian Flynn\'s Sharp Objects, the dark atmosphere creates questions about what is happening in her hometown and how the complex protagonist will deal with it when she\'s already struggling with complex personal issues. Symbolism Symbolism means using symbols – a word, object, character, action or concept – in a story. These symbols can represent abstract concepts and ideas beyond the literal meaning and evoke additional meaning and significance. This is not to be confused with a motif, which is an element that\'s repeated frequently to develop the narrative and illuminate the central themes or ideas in a story. An example of symbolism would be The Great Gatsby, when Fitzgerald uses the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg to represent God and his judgment of the Jazz Age. Tone The tone of a story is crucial for any writer, as it refers to the overall mood and message of the story. Tone is a literary device that sets readers\' feelings and can be established broadly through voice, themes, characterisation and symbolism. The techniques can be even more specific through word choice, punctuation and sentence structure. Tone can range from cheerful and humourous, to melancholic and regretful. Through tone, the writer essentially creates a relationship with the reader, which influences the intention and meaning of the words. This is why tone is so important. For example, the tone of Charles Dickens\' A Tale of Two Cities demonstrates that the story is serious due to the formal, rich language he used. Tragicomedy A tragicomedy is a blend of both tragedy and comedy that typically helps a reader process darker themes by adding humour and helping them laugh at a situation, even when the circumstances are bleak. When using this literary device, the characters are typically exaggerated, with jokes throughout the story, and sometimes there might be a happy ending. An example of this is Lemony Snicket\'s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which uses bizarre situations and over-the-top characters to provide light in an otherwise tragic story. Make your Story Stronger Strengthening our storytelling abilities is something we writers are always working on (our blog is an excellent resource for this) and a good grasp of the most effective literary devices is certainly beneficial for authors. Literary devices are tools that will take your writing to the next level – making it more impactful and engaging for your readers, hooking them in from the first page until the last. This is exactly what we want to do when telling a story, so these techniques are worth bearing in mind when writing.  Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Copyright Your Book Fast, Easily And Cheaply

It’s easy to copyright your work. We explain exactly how to do it and what you can hope to achieve in this article. What Is Copyright? You’re probably reading this because you’ve created something – a book, a novel, a story, a play. Whatever. Good. You now own the copyright in your work, which means that you have the absolute right to control its use and distribution. If someone tries to copy your work without your permission, you have the legal right to stop them. If you wish to license or sell your work to a third party on defined terms – such as a book deal with a publisher – then you have the right to do that too. That all sounds simple, right? And in essence, it is. Unsurprisingly, though, there are some twists and turns, so it’s worth reading all the way to the end of this post before deciding what to do. How To Copyright A Book? Is Copyright Automatic? The first surprise, for some readers, is that copyright protection is automatic. In other words, you acquire copyright protection for your work simply by writing it down. As soon as the words have left your fingertips – as soon as they’re marks on a page or screen – they belong to you and no one can copy them. The trouble is that there are two ways in which it is, in theory, possible to copy someone’s work. Direct copying of text. If someone just takes all or part of your text and copies it out word for word, that’s a breach of your copyright. In the most egregious cases – like e-book pirates simply stealing your book and selling it online – the offence is utterly obvious and beyond dispute. But that’s not the only way that illicit copying can occur …Copying of ideas, characters, sequences, concepts. But it’s also possible for a breach of copyright to take place even without direct copying of text. For example, suppose I decided to take Delia Owens’ smash hit Where the Crawdads Sing and rewrite it in my own words. I might decide to use my own words and a new set of character names, but to leave every single plot incident, emotional moment, and so on exactly as in the original. In that case, I would be breaching Owens’ copyright as surely as if I’d just written the whole thing out word for word. If Owens chose to sue me in a court of law, I’d most certainly lose. You can read more on that, here. Now, all that seems pretty damn obvious, but there’s an ugly little legal loophole that remains open. If I’d copied Crawdads out word for word, everyone would know that I’d copied and where I’d copied it from. There’s just no possibility that my copying was a remarkable coincidence. But what if the themes / characters / plot twists seemed very similar, but had some differences? You might say my version of the book looked eerily familiar … but there are supposedly only seven plots in the world anyway. Themes of death, parenting, coming of age, self-expression and so on (all themes to be found in Crawdads) are common enough. Maybe two different authors just happened across the same basic set of ideas. Now if you were Delia Owens and wanted to prove that my version of the Crawdads story was a deliberate knock-off of your own, you’d have to prove, in court, that I had read your book before composing my own version. If you could achieve that level of proof, you’d probably win the trial. Fail, and you’d probably lose. That feels like a really tricky problem to solve... but it’s the problem that copyright registration was born to solve. Why Register Copyright In Your Work? Registering copyright can solve two problems for you. They are: How can you easily and simply prove that you are the author of a given work? And how can you easily and simply prove the date on which your manuscript was complete?How can you get around the issue of having to prove that a given plagiarist had accessed your story before their copying began? Fortunately, there are solutions to both of these conundrums. There’s a cheap, easy version that does a bit less for you. And there’s an annoyingly bureaucratic and pointlessly expensive version that does more. Here are the options: How to register authorship and date of production If all you want to do is prove that you are the author of a given work and that your work was completed by such-and-such a date, then you can just use an online ‘copyright vault’ service, such as Protectmywork.com. Using such a service will solve the “whose work, what date?” issue. It will not solve the second issue highlighted above. If someone copies your ideas and plot, but doesn’t snatch your exact wording, you would still have to prove that the plagiarist had read and used your work. That’s going to be tough. For that reason, anyone really serious about copyright, will take the more complicated – and official – action below. The advantage of this cheap and cheerful version of protection, however, is simply that it’s cheap and cheerful. So for $50 / £30, you can copyright-protect not just one document, but many. If you’re prolific and want the assurance of proper legal documentation of your authorship, this is a very low-cost way to achieve what you need. But let’s say you want to do things properly, in that case you’ll want to register copyright with the US Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress. How to register your work with the US Copyright Office If you register your work with the US Copyright Office, you will prove that you are the author of a given work. And the date of production will also be proved. But better still, if you register your work with the Copyright Office, anyone copying your work will be automatically deemed to have read it. So Delia Owens no longer has to prove that I’ve read her Crawdads book. If she (or more likely her publisher) has registered her work, then any court will simply assume that I have read it. Then the legal argument will simply revolve around whether my version is or is not too close to her version to constitute copying. That’s a win, right? The trouble is, the cost is a lot higher ($100 per document registered) and the process is annoyingly bureaucratic. The form you need to fill in is here. You need to print out that form, fill it out, and send it off with cheque for $100 and a paper copy of your work to: Library of Congress Copyright Office-TX 101 Independence Avenue SE Washington DC 20559-6000 And yes, I know. A printed form! And a paper copy of your work! And this is in the 2020s, not the 1920s or 1820s. But there you go. Bureaucrats just wanna bureaucratise. If you’re really serious about protecting your work, that’s the route you have to take. But before you start printing forms and scribbling out cheques to the government, just pause a moment to think what you will achieve and whether it’s worth it. Will Copyright Protection Defeat Plagiarists? Arguably, the big question is simply whether copyright protection serves any practical purpose at all. And that means considering the world as it is. (You might want to peruse this list of plagiarism scandals as a reminder of how these things actually operate.) And here’s what we learn: Are publishers or literary agents likely to steal your work? No. Because their business would come to an abrupt, juddering, nasty halt as soon as they were caught, which would be pretty damn soon. I’ve read around a little bit and can’t find any bonafide case of an agent trying to steal and profit from an unpublished author’s work. OK, maybe there’s a case somewhere that I’ve missed, but the literary agent community receives hundreds of thousands of manuscripts a year. Stealing just basically doesn’t happen. You should worry about lightning strike or asteroid falls before you start to worry about those things. Are professional book pirates likely to steal your work? Yes. Or rather: no, if your book never really achieves any sales. But yes, definitely, if your book sells enough copies to seem worth thieving. I’m not going to dignify any of those plagiarism websites with a link, but they exist. And they are there to steal books. So if your book is selling well on Amazon at $7.99, there’ll be a plagiarist selling the exact same text at $0.99 or less. They don’t have to actually copy out your text to do that. They just have to break the DRM lock on your ebook (easily done; it takes two minutes), then they copy the file. I don’t know any properly bestselling author (including me) whose work has not been pirated. Will copyright protection defeat the pirates? No. Of course, it won’t. They’re thieves. They steal stuff. Those websites are commercial enterprises which exist to profit from theft. So what about you send those guys a cease and desist notice? What about you actually hire a hotshot, $600-an-hour lawyer to go after them? Well, here’s a guess: they laugh at you. Wherever they are, you can be damn sure they’ll base their horrible website in a jurisdiction which really, really doesn’t care about your copyright issues. Is there practically speaking any way to defeat plagiarism? No – and I can prove it. Here’s my argument: I am willing to bet that your resources are less than those deployed by, say, Penguin Random House.PRH’s authors are routinely plagiarised.Yes, PRH chases the thieves around the internet and uses hotshot lawyers wherever it’s plausible those guys will make a difference, but …PRH’s authors are still routinely plagiarised. That’s probably true of pretty much all their top-selling authors.You can afford $100 to register your work with the Library of Congress. That’s true.But you probably can’t afford a lot of hours that are charged at $600 an hour, and you certainly can’t afford them if the likelihood of that spending making a difference is close to nilNo government agency or law enforcement body anywhere in the world is going to care that a plagiarist is stealing your work.So there is nothing you can do. Conclusion Honestly? My advice? Look register your copyright if it’ll make you feel better. But you aren’t ever going to go to court to enforce your copyright and you’ll probably bankrupt yourself if you do. So write a great book. Sell it. Then write another. If you do well – if you do really, really well – book piracy sites will steal a tiny bit from your sales. (Or maybe not: because maybe the people who take books from those sources would never put an honest dollar in your pocket anyway.) But there’s nothing you can do about it, so just write another book, and sell it, and be happy because you are doing a hard thing well. And you feel good about doing it. Oh, and if you meet a book pirate? Well, as far as I’m concerned, you’re welcome to thump them. Harry Bingham has been a professional author for twenty years and more. He’s been published by each of the three largest publishers in the world. He’s hit bestseller lists, had a ton of critical acclaim, and has been published in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan . . . and lots of other places too. His work has been adapted for the screen and he’s enjoyed (almost) every minute of his career. (More about Harry, more about his books). Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Tor Udall On Patience And Passion In Writing

Guest author and blogger Tor Udall shares her story of publishing A Thousand Paper Birds with Bloomsbury after her time at the Festival of Writing, plus how patience, perseverance and passion were key to success. The Festival of Writing had a transformative impact for me. After signing with my agent, what happened next? More drafts. Another four to be exact, since A Thousand Paper Birds is a many layered thing. Based in Kew Gardens, with five characters, two love triangles and a mysterious death, it’s told from multiple perspectives and two time-frames. Add in a speculative thread and the folds of origami, and you can imagine why it took a while to pin this girl down. I learnt a lot in those two years – not just about my characters and craft, but also about perseverance and passion. There were days when it felt like I was entering a boxing ring, wrestling the pages, and leaving the desk with my jaw bloodied. In one particular draft, I tried so damn hard to please that I took on every suggested edit and ended up with a Frankenstein manuscript, the stitches so coarse you could see the seams. It had no blood in it. No heartbeat. I had to go back and lovingly unpick it, gently resuscitating it back to life and asking it to forgive me – and thankfully it did. It’s a delicate balance – taking in other people’s advice, but also staying true to the world you’ve created and to the book’s anima, or spirit. In September 2015, the manuscript was ready, and we sent it out on submission. What a terrifying process! Within 24 hours, an editor in Italy had read it overnight, fallen head over heels and wanted to make a pre-emptive offer. I thought this is it, we’re on a roll. Then nothing happened, for days. Slowly, other offers came in – Portugal, Netherlands, Russia – but nothing from the UK. The rapturous declines were wonderful, but frustrating (it made me laugh to discover that while agents send ‘rejections’, publishers send ‘declines’ … it’s all so much more civilised!). Finally, we got a bite from one editor (followed by a great meeting), then a few more showed interest, and suddenly editors were taking A Thousand Paper Birds to acquisitions. This is not an easy hurdle – the entire team must love it and in the run-up to Frankfurt Book Fair, a lot of books are vying for attention. Trying to keep positive, I took myself off to Kew Gardens (the book’s location) to hear the Director’s Talk. As I left the event, my phone rang and the moment happened. Bloomsbury had put in an offer. I was standing outside the famous Palm House, in the perfect spot. A couple of times I had to ask Jenny to repeat herself – partly out of disbelief, partly because the ducks were quacking, but there I stood by the glasshouse, my dream solidifying in the trees, the lake, the sky, my body. This elation continued in Frankfurt when Random House in Germany offered me a 2-book deal (without even seeing a synopsis for the second). Signing for a second book felt like the start of a career, a validation. So guess what happened next? Yup. More drafts. Two more. It’s pot-luck on who you get as an editor, but thankfully Alexa von Hirschberg is one helluva talented lady. Sensitive, funny, wise, stylish (we even share the same taste in musicians), she was a joy to work with. The copy-edit, too, was a wonderful experience. The copy-editor’s attention to detail was love-filled. It’s the fine work of the scalpel: ‘do you really want ‘in’ twice in a sentence?’ (see, I’ve just done it again), ‘should it be ‘garden’ or ‘Gardens’? Did you realise that you swap between imperial and metric?’ After the large-scale edits, it was a pleasure to focus on the miniscule. Ten drafts in all. So many different versions, characters cut or changed, whole passages gone, and for a while I worried that I would grieve for all the different ‘Paper Birds’ that had vanished. But when I read through the final edit it was the book it was always supposed to be. Everything had come into focus. During this period, there was a lot of other stuff happening, too. While I was writing the draft(s) of my life I also had to set myself up as a business, dealing with foreign tax forms, complicated contracts, asking the Foreign Office to certify certificates of residence. An illustrator was working on a map of Kew Gardens to go at the front, copy for the blurb and catalogue were needed, copyright permissions required for quotes and lyrics, author photos taken, the jacket design approved (oh my, it’s so flutteringly gorgeous!). Then there was also a pregnancy that involved me injecting myself in the stomach for 9 months daily, a premature baby and the usual sleeplessness and chaos that comes with a new-born – but that’s a whole other story …! And now I have a year to write my second book (the first one took seven years, so you can understand why my eye is twitching!). There’s a host of unknown and wonderful things ahead. And I’m frightened. Of people reading it. Of people not reading it. The author events, the promotion – all challenges for a publishing virgin. But in the end, away from the noise of twitter, book sales, reviews, I know my main job is the work itself: to write the next book better, using everything I’ve learnt. The landscape of language, the puzzles of plot and pace, the intimacies of character – this is where I’m happiest, and how privileged I am to be able to spend my day at the typeface, conjuring up things to believe in. This passion (obsession? endless curiosity?) is both anchor and fuel. So, yes, since York, life has changed. After years of writing alone, it’s amazing to be part of a collaboration with some of the most talented, brilliant people in the world. Good luck to all of you ever coming to the Festival of Writing, and remember, too, so much can happen in the one-on-ones, in the coffee queue, at the bar... the quickening of fate can happen in the most unlikely places. Who knows? The roller coaster may be coming for you, too. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Social Media For Writers

Social media can be viewed as a series of puzzles. When, as a writer, you first start on social media it seems that everyone knows what you don’t. The mysteries of social media are revealed slowly as you browse and experiment and learn. This post will explore some important pieces of the social media puzzle, of relevance whether you’re new to social media or an old hand. What Are The Goals Of Social Media Participation? The first puzzle I’d like to explore is what are reasonable goals for social media participation? The reason this comes first, for me, is because how you answer this will affect every other social media action that you take. If your goal is simply to increase sales of your books, then there will be a series of steps you need to take to build relationships with people who might be interested in reading or them. This would, however, be a very restrictive and stunted use of social media. It would be like installing a telephone in your offices and only using it for sales calls. Every aspect of your work can be impacted positively by social media, if you let it. Research, industry knowledge, motivation and planning can all be helped by social media tools, which allow you to connect with people, listen and communicate. You can also use social media as a creative tool as well as for all the above. It allows you to express whatever you want; your love of Tolkien or photography or Proust or Joyce or whatever. But you can use social media to build relationships too. Real relationships. Is Social Media A Dog Chasing Its Own Tail, A Self-Reinforcing Bubble, Or Is It Something That Will Last? There has been a steady drum beat in the media over the past few years of Luddite criticism of social media. Some commentators claim that it is all a waste of time, that social media is banal and trivial and that it will all pass. My personal view is that social media is here to stay and that it forces cooperation and openness. To be otherwise on social media would lead to being flamed or being shunned. Cooperation and openness lead to increased learning, as we take on board new ideas. I don’t think every Tweet or post is a symbol of progress, but there are enough positive ones, I believe, to make it obvious that social media is of benefit to humanity, overall, as a communication tool. I do think there is a danger of over hyping social media, the way radio was over hyped in the 1920’s, with a large number of radio companies coming to Wall Street to sell shares. But because many of those radio stations went bankrupt it doesn’t mean that radio was a medium set to die. Radio was hugely important in the Second World War and since too. Rock & roll and the popular music revolutions of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s are just some of the things radio enabled. I believe social media will have a similarly important role in the decades to come for writers. We are now able to reach readers without the help of a publisher or a large inheritance. Could Social Media Be An Agent Of Change In Our Culture? Social media could be as much an instrument of change as radio or TV was, influencing politics, popular culture and comedy to name but a few areas. Social media, like radio and TV, is a means of mass communication. And social media is changing fast. Facebook’s shares go down again, then up again, then down again. Google+ changes its look and feel, again. Twitter is used to assess the political mood and the likelihood of a stock market crash. Soon it will be used to predict riots and stock market rallies. The impact on writers, forcing a more open and accessible personal style, is likely to have a long term effect on what writers create and how they create. And we are still at the beginning of this revolution. Try searching for #socialmedia on Twitter and you will be assaulted by wave after wave of developments in social media. Every minute. No! Every second. But where will all this lead us? I see three clear trends, each of which could have an impact on writers: The visual web. Mobile video stream, Microsoft’s HoloLens 3d headset and local YouTube feeds may allow us to travel almost anywhere and experience everything as ultimate-voyeurs. Expect artistic photojournalism, environments that change as we look at them, permanent people tracking, your visual life on a site, celebrity holograms at your local book store and rebranding sites that will let you see how you might appear with a few nicks and tucks when you win that big publishing deal. Screens may surround us and allow us instant access to the thoughts and recommendations of other people, and even to see what they are seeing, to read what they are reading. We may eventually be able to piggy back onto other people’s lives through visceral monitoring, heart, sweat, body chemicals, leading to the manipulation of our own senses, but all that is far off. Whether we get there is another thing, completely. The auto posting trend. Expect your phone to auto post your location to your life-blog and your audio feed to text tweets to Twitter. Going beyond that we may be tracked by location posting sites for curfew enforcement, remote working and spouse spying applications. Auto posts already make up a big percentage of the posts you see. That includes re-posts and posts simply made at a previous time. The question seems to be, not whether you should auto-post an update on what you are reading/researching, but why you think your followers will be interested in learning that? Perhaps we will have training courses and later, degree course in “deciding what to post” and “deciding what to listen to and who to follow”. The digital chasm. The erosion of the middle class will lead to a divide between those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to pursue writing as a career and those who are not. Fortunately, writing well is not something you can easily outsource to the 3rd world. It requires a cultural dexterity, which can take decades to learn. Instant security services, auto-taser fencing and within-a-minute by drone-extraction from urban locations may all be our future. Security zones may extend to elite stores, clubs and hotels, all invisible to the rest of humanity by their anonymous exteriors. How Did We Survive Before Social Media (BSM)? If my memory serves me we did just fine BSM. Sure, we had to wait to hear gossip, and read newspapers or magazines to find out what was happening around us, but we didn’t know what we were missing. The internet was initially about newspapers and selling or buying things and searching and we used it less (it was slow), and BSM we read more and spent more time watching TV, but I don’t think we were any healthier or wiser as a whole. BSM we just didn’t know stuff. I can’t tell you whether it’s that important in the big scheme of things that we have intimate knowledge of each other’s lives, but I believe this social media trend is unstoppable now. It’s a genii that’s out of its bottle. And I don’t know what spell will make it go back in again, but it will have to be a powerful one. The only thing I expect, which could impact our use of social media is disruption to our electricity supply. And that would lead to a lot of deaths in our electric driven world. We will, I believe, be doing social media differently in the future, but I don’t think we are going back to the days BSM. And yes, much of the above may not happen before 2020. So if you want to write about the near future, consider incorporating some of the above elements. In any case it will be your ability to tell a good story that will make or break what you write. Luck still plays an essential role in all successful writing, but you do know what they say about luck; it’s better to make your own. For me these are four of the biggest puzzles about social media. You may have other ones you think are more important. I hope you will consider sharing those with us below. Please share if you have a puzzle. For me this is one of the most intriguing aspects of social media. How it is developing. 3 Key Takeaways Some of the puzzling aspects of social media: Do You Know What Your Goals Are? Are you taking full advantage of the opportunities that social media is providing or are you just using it to help you sell books? Is Social Media Chasing Its Own Tail? Social media has real benefits. This is not just my opinion. Sure, human connections made on social media are not as strong as the connections we have with people in our local area, but you can build useful relationships with people all over the world with social media in a way that was impossible before. Is It An Agent Of Change? Only time will tell whether the changes in our societies as a result of social media are long lasting or if we will eventually turn away from technology. I strongly suspect that technology will develop further and further. It may plateau at some stage and we may need to change how we do things, such as the annual obsolescence of many devices, but software and the internet are changing too fast and more and more people are finding innovative ways to use the web and getting employed in it, so I don’t think this wave of change is over yet. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Screenwriting: Structure

It’s what sends screenwriters into frenzied anxiety attacks, rapidly losing the will to live, but Structure can seem a whole lot less terrifying once you realise that all it really means is the way your story unfolds. Think of it not as some rigid template you have to squeeze your story into, but the way the emotional needs and actions of your characters are shaping and driving the story. Keep remembering that the aim of structure is to draw your audience into an intense emotional engagement with the story and keep them totally absorbed throughout. Think of it as the story breathing – ever-developing sequences of tension and release which keep depth-charging the emotions of the audience. Having a flexible outline of pivotal events can help. A story needs something to get it going, moments that are turning points which force the character in new directions (often an emotional revelation, not just surface action), a climax and a resolution (which can be ambiguous or open-ended).Some pointers for shaping the story: Watch A Film Once, Then The Same Film Backwards The idea is to trace how the narrative thread is not just shaped but layered. You’re looking for how the whole story is paced, moments or scenes where you’re given breathing space to absorb what’s happening and so on. You’re looking out for moments that move the story forward in ways that layer and interweave. Make notes as you keep hitting the pause button. Starting from the final frame: Be aware of how each scene has been prepared for in previous scenes. You’re following the thread backwards. Try to keep in mind the overall thread – something in scene 20 may have been foreshadowed in scene 2. Make a note of what it is in each scene that is driving the story. Is what’s happening now more interesting than before? How is conflict being developed? Look out for moments where you’re registering meaning through the ways in which the story is being orchestrated not just in terms of plot. Watching backwards is a terrific way to see how not just actions, but symbolic resonances, unspoken feelings, visual metaphors, subtext, dialogue, subtext are all structuring the story. (Silence can be structure.) How are all these script elements driving the story forward?How’s the pacing? Is it varied?How much tension and release is happening? Do this with other films so you can discover some of the most powerful ways to develop the natural unfolding movement of a story. Beat Sheet This represents emotional beats and events which are pivotal to the flow of the story, and helps to focus on a clear and concise storyline. Think of it as successive bullet-points. A beat can be something happening within a scene or across scenes. Jot down a bare outline of the main critical moments in the story. This will help with pacing. Are there ups and downs? Where are the moments of dramatic tension and release?Significant turning points where things move in a new direction?Any twists that surprise? Now you’ll have a firmer idea of what other beats to add – and crucially – where they fall in the arc of the story until you have a complete sheet. A beat sheet is invaluable for assessing how an audience will stay completely connected to the story. Look at every beat and ask: Will the audience want to know what happens next? It can also help to draw a graph of beats to see at once how varied the pace is and whether you have those all-important tension and release sequences. Getting The Pace Right Make your words move, shift, change gear. Give them energy. Open your script at random and read a page out loud. Is there something moving which impels one word to the next, one line to the next, one page to the next? Now this isn’t a question of speed. A work has effective pace when everything happens at the right moment for its dramatic purpose. A stopped momentum is pace. A high-octane action sequence is pace. The key is to vary the pace. Keep asking your script questions. I strongly urge you to get some friends to do a readthrough of your script. They play the characters, one of them reads the descriptions and you listen and make notes. It’s best if the ‘actors’ can stand up and move around. You’ll soon be able to see where the story sags and needs more tightening, or has too much going on and needs more breathing. It’s the quickest way to find out whether the structure and shape of the story is working. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Author Website Essentials: A Writer’s Toolkit

You’re an author. You need a storefront. You could put a sign up in your front garden or (better idea) you could build a website. Here’s everything you need to know. 1. The Book Comes First Do you have a book cover already? If not, you must get that in place before you start to design your site. That cover will define your brand as an author. It’ll be the primary way that readers ‘know’ you. That book cover will define the fonts and images that are part of your visual brand. Your website needs to support that, not conflict. There are no exceptions to this rule. That means: if you are an indie author and don’t yet have a cover, then get one. If you’re a traditional author, then wait for your publisher to produce a cover before you start to build your website. Either way, start with the book, then roll that look out to the site. 2. Build For The Long Term It’s really easy to think small, early on. That means limiting your budget. Limiting the design energy. Using a free domain such as yourname.wordpress.com instead of just yourname.com. (Or yournameauthor.com, if some celebrity has got to the domain name first.) On balance, I’d advise writers to somehow find the extra money needed to do this right. As your writing business expands, you’ll want your core assets to be strong enough to support that expansion – and that means getting the site right from the start. What’s more, doing it right doesn’t mean a lot of investment. Once you have your book cover, you’ll have the basic look of the site right there, together with font selections and images. Generating the rest of the site should not be hard or expensive. If you’re paying more than £1000 or $1500, you’re probably paying more than you need. So if you’re a pro or semi-pro designer yourself, then build your own site. Anyone else, commission a site, but make it clear from the outset that the designer should use the fonts and images that are used in your book cover. You’re essentially looking for a technician to plug things together for you, not an artist to create something wonderful and new. And pay the small amount needed to get your own proper domain name: harrybingham.com, not harrybingham[.]wordpress.com. Those little things do count. 3. Your Site Must Be Mobile-friendly These days, it would be a crazy designer who didn’t generate a site that wasn’t mobile friendly, but still, do be explicit in your brief. And when you see a draft site, then check it. If you’re working on a laptop not a phone, just resize the window so it’s phone-sized and take a look at your site now. If your key assets and messages are being buried at the bottom, you need to re-order those things so that they float up to the top. This isn’t hard to do, and any competent designer can do it fast. 4. SEO Doesn‘t Matter For Fiction, It’s Essential For Subject-led Non-fiction Are you writing fiction? In that case, Search Engine Optimisation basically doesn’t matter. If people want to search for your site they’ll almost certainly search you by name, in which case your site should pop up at or close to the top of any search. (If it doesn’t, just go out and do a few guest post with bloggers active in your niche. Make sure there’s a link through to your site at the end of the guest post. Those links should be enough to tickle Google’s algorithms that it figures out what to do.) If you’re writing creative non-fiction (a travel book, a personal memoir, or bringing some little-known historical narrative to life) then much the same thing applies. Those sort of books can pretty much forget Search Engine Optimisation as a source of readers and traffic. If, on the other hand, you’re writing subject-led non-fiction (a book on ‘How To Build a Great Author Website’, for example), then SEO matters a lot. Your first step is probably to ditch the idea of using your name as the site’s domain name, and instead use something like GreatAuthorWebsites.com – basically embed your core search term in the website title itself. Then give proper, search-engine-friendly titles to every page on your site. Make sure the content is good. And go build some links. That recipe basically works every time . . . but this isn’t a blog post on SEO, so I’ll leave it there. Suffice to say that for this type of non-fiction author, SEO does matter and it’s a big, important subject. Go research it with people like Brian Dean and Neil Patel. 5. Don’t Confuse The Brand Are you an eclectic, interesting person, with numerous interests and passions? Great. Please don’t tell me about it, or at least not on your author website. Your website is there for readers of your books. You need to target your site at them. You need to leave everything else at the door. If you want a more personal site that shows the full range of you to a wondering world, then fine. But your author site needs to stick to its knitting, which is your books and nothing else. If you write two very different series – slasher horror fiction under one name and heart-warming children’s books under another – then you’ll need two websites. Sorry, but again no exceptions. You can of course link between the two, so readers from one can easily navigate to the other but keep the core message clear. 6. Figure Out Your Priorities What do you want your site to do? Your answer is quite likely to be ‘help sell my books’, but remember it will basically never achieve that objective. If people haven’t heard of you, they won’t come to your site. If they have heard of you and are curious about your work, they will go to Amazon. The only people likely to visit your site are readers who have read your work and who are passionate enough about it to investigate further. Certainly, you may achieve some additional sales by providing a warm and interesting experience, but the truth is, you can probably only convert one or two percent of people that way. It’s not a priority. So if an author site isn’t there to sell books, what should it do? For me, there’s one very, very clear answer to that, and only a fraction of author sites do this properly. Your author website is there to collect the email addresses of passionate readers. Why does that matter so much? It matters for two reasons: When you next release a book you can contact your core readers and tell them directly about the launch. A high proportion of those readers will make the purchase and those are nice easy sales to make – one email, to sell hundreds or thousands of books. Better still, you can time the sales you make. When I send out a sales email relating to my Fiona Griffiths novels, about 30% of my list will buy within 8 hours of my hitting send. That causes a huge wave of sales to hit Amazon … which drives my book way up the salesrankings … which means that (because most Amazon search pages promote high-selling books over low-selling ones) my book becomes more visible right across the Amazon system … which means I start attracting the interest of completely new readers. Of these two issues, it’s the second which will make you the most money, so don’t neglect it. You can get a ton more help with all this from us and don’t forget to check out our post about Instafreebie. 7. Connect, Connect, Connect These days, the first thing that someone will do if they want to learn more about you is seek you out on social media. You don’t need to be a social media junkie to succeed these days. Personally, I’m more or less Trappist on both Facebook and Twitter, and I’m perfectly happy to stay that way. Still, you do want to make yourself open to the world for all sorts of reasons. For example: You want your site to be easily shareable for those who do use Twitter and Facebook You want to be easily contactable You want to have all channels open so you can, for example, make contact with a key blogger in your area who is contactable via Twitter, but may not be easily reachable via email. Your super-fans need a way to reach you direct. You don’t have to answer every email that comes your way – and you certainly don’t have to answer promptly – but those super-fans are the absolute heart of what will drive things. Happy site-building! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Format A Screenplay

Guest author and blogger Jon Spira has written feature film scripts for Manga Live, Palm Pictures and a multitude of independent producers. He has taught the UK Film Council Screenwriting course since 2004. Screenwriting is probably the strangest discipline in the whole literary world. Unlike a novel, short story, article or poem, the finished screenplay is not really a fait accompli. Even the greatest screenplays in the world when finished and signed off are merely the first step of a highly technical process. I’ve never seen a published screenplay for an unproduced film (unless it was of huge interest due to its place in a highly esteemed film-maker’s body of work). A screenplay doesn’t really exist on its own. A screenplay is a blueprint for the production of a film. This is a good way to view it as, like a blueprint, it is a highly technical document which provides information for a very wide variety of people. Just reading a screenplay is a skill in itself. Understanding how this bizarrely, falteringly laid out piece of prose and direction could be visualized. Writing one is ten times harder. When you write a novel, you’re writing purely for your reader – to entertain or inform them. You can write the whole thing in first person if you like and just directly dump all that information into their head. A screenplay must be an engaging and distractingly enjoyable read but it also must deal with the expectations, demands and egos of far more than just one compliant reader. I’m not going to tell you how to format a screenplay – yet – but what I do want to explain to you is who you’re writing your screenplay for and what their needs are. Producers Need: To be impressed. The producer holds the purse strings and have the ultimate authority on a film. To make a producer happy, you need to, most importantly, have a good, commercial idea. This means you have written a film for a specific audience and touched all the bases that audience would want from a cinematic experience. You might think the Transformers films are cynical in this way but a film like The King’s Speech is almost identical in its awareness of what its audience demands. The producer also cares about budget, so think carefully before you make it rain in a scene or have a moment play out in front of a crowd of six thousand troops. Running time is a big issue for producers. Legend has it that many won’t even read a script that feels heavier in their hand than the 90-page product they can most easily persuade cinemas to exhibit – if you write a two-and-a-half-hour film, nobody will touch it as cinemas would have to do fewer showings, therefore making less money. The exceptions to the rule are always from very well-established film-makers who market their wares based on epic qualities. Keep it under 90 pages. Directors Need: To have control. Here’s your problem with the director. They probably hate you. There’s a gulf of ownership over a film which exists between the writer, who originates and creates the story and the director who interprets and realizes it. I’ve never held with the ‘Auteur theory’ but I can empathise with a director who slaves so hard over the job and who, really, is the person who will be held publicly accountable for its success or failure. They want to have creative control and you must give it to them. That’s your job – to make them look good. Careful formatting plays into this. The biggest no-no is to write camera direction into the screenplay (‘we zoom in’ ‘the camera pans left’ ‘the camera walks alongside them’) as this is telling the director their own job. Their job is to take what you’ve written and translate it for an audience using their vision. But you have your own vision too – you’ve already visualised the whole film in the cinema of your mind, as you wrote it. So here is perhaps the toughest part of screenwriting – you must write in such a way that the director can only interpret it as you saw it yet think that it’s their own vision. If you want a tight close-up of Billy’s eyes, you can’t write ‘extreme close up of Billy’s eyes panicking’ – you have to write ‘tiny beads of sweat form around the bags of Billy’s wildly rolling eyeballs’ – there is no other way a director can illustrate that without a tight close up. Crews Need: To have technical information. A technical crew couldn’t care less about your script or vision. They need the most basic of information and a screenplay formatted in such a way that they can get that purely by skimming. What do they want? They want clear and precise technical information. Formatting is key. You must put a slug-line at the beginning of each scene. It should look like this: 36. EXT. SCHOOLYARD. DUSK The ‘36’ is the scene number – this is important to the people who schedule the movie and make sure it’s running efficiently – the script supervisors, the assistant producers, the second and third units. The people who know what is happening when and why. You can’t say ‘we’re shooting the schoolyard scene today’ – there might be 30 of them, all differing wildly. You must number your scenes. The ‘EXT’ stands for exterior and it has a counterpart ‘INT’ for interior. Although it may be a whimsical choice to you if it is EXT or INT – for the production team, it makes a massive difference. An INT scene can be shot in a studio or closed location – it is controllable and easy and can be done with far less fuss. An EXT shoot demands issues of weather, light, sound, controlling the public – you need more crew, you must work quicker, it’s an entirely different proposal. Too many EXTs might even get the script rejected by the Producer on feasibility grounds. The ‘SCHOOLYARD’ is your specific location – something that is going to have to be secured or created by the production design team. The set builders and production managers really care only about these words in the whole screenplay. ‘DUSK’ refers to the time of day, though more common would be DAY or NIGHT but if you have a specific vision of twilight, dusk, dawn, or the like, you must make that clear. This affects art design, location management and camerawork. Also, don’t forget that anything not shot in general ‘DAY’ will cost a production a lot of money in overtime and, again, affects feasibility. Throughout the script you should also put important sounds and effects in block capitals to draw attention to them. The technical crew aren’t interested in your prose or the value of your work, they just want their responsibilities written clearly in CAPITAL LETTERS. Actors Need: To have dialogue (and just dialogue). Actors are the easiest to please. Their character names and dialogue run down a column in the middle of the page. It’s good form for everyone if the first time you mention the characters appearing in the prose sections, you do so in capital letters. It just lets people know that a new significant character is now making their appearance. Everyone writes dialogue differently – sometimes you’ll add in stutters and pauses, I think this should be a very rare thing – along with writing in such a way to reflect accent. The actors can figure this stuff out for themselves. I tend to say write the best dialogue you can and then trust the actors and director to worry about delivery and reflection. It’s bad form to write direction in brackets preceding the dialogue. The dialogue and strength of situation alone should convey the emotion. That’s basically it. Remember that all writing is altruistic but when composing your screenplay, you’re not just writing for the generic reader – you have the power to make a lot of people’s jobs a lot easier or a lot harder and these are the people who will dictate whether you get a career. And now you’re ready to format your screenplay. The lovely answer is that you needn’t. You can download formatters like the excellent Celtx for free online. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.  And when you’re ready, you may just like structural feedback on your film script, too.

Creative Writing Degrees: Waste or Wonderful Career Opportunity?

I posted a set of concerns about MA creative writing courses a while ago. I argued that they had far too little connection with the publishing market as it is today. Marketability in the Conventional Sense? After writing that, I looked at some course prospectuses. Here, for example, was the blurb in 2011 from UEA. “The MA does not function through exercises but by considering fiction as a form of aesthetic, psychological and cultural enquiry. Neither the poetry nor prose fiction strand is primarily commercial in direction and neither teaches conventional genre forms or, in the conventional sense, marketability.” Marketability in the conventional sense? If you want to be a writer – the sort who writes books that are sold in bookshops – then considering marketability in a conventional sense seems like a good idea. Here was the blurb from Goldsmiths: “The inter-relationship between theory, scholarship and the creative process is key to the Goldsmiths MPhil/PhD in Creative Writing. … Doctoral students for the PhD in Creative Writing are expected to combine their own creative writing with research into the genre or area of literature in which they are working, to gain insight into its history, development and contemporary practices. … They are also expected to engage with relevant contemporary debates about theory and practice.” I Doubt Publishers Care. They\'re Probably Just Happy Publishing Good Books. Here, really, is the point of this post. I’ve realised that the best courses do indeed do a stunning job for a proportion of their students. UEA can boast of the following alumni: Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Anne Enright, Tracy Chevalier, and plenty of others. Bath Spa says, ‘Two [of our recent students] were long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, three for the Orange Prize, one for the Costa Prize and one for the Guardian First Book Award.’ Those are strikingly good achievements. On the other hand, I’m still sceptical. A minority of talented writers may bloom to a wonderful degree and go on to have long writing careers. A large majority will, I think, end up being rejected by the industry, having quite possibly not been properly equipped with the skills that would have allowed them to thrive. What Jobs Can You Get From a Creative Writing Degree? So the conclusion remains the same. Don’t assume these courses will launch you as a writer. Research them carefully. Know what you want to write and what they want to teach. Check out your tutors. Check out what these tutors like to read, and their biases, for instance, if you’re a writer of children’s or genre fiction. Check out teaching methods. Talk to past students (and not only those who ended up with a book deal.) And if you go for it – then have a wonderful time.   Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

3 Key Steps To Building Your Author Brand

Author branding, when done right, can be critical to future success. And self-publishing authors must be able to do this right. Even when choosing traditional publishing, something many authors miss at the beginning of their careers is creating an authentic online presence to engage readers. If you’re self-publishing, though, it’s central. You’ll be your own editor, designer, social media coordinator, production team, etc., and everything traditionally done by a publishing house, you’ll need to be doing yourself. And you may not like imagining yourself as a marketer when all you want is to get on and write. In this article, graphic design platform 99designs walks you through a few key tips (and how to keep it fun, too). Why Branding Is Essential For Authors (Self-published Or Not) Building a brand for yourself helps your audience find out what your work is all about, what you stand for and what they can expect from you. It establishes a connection with your audience and takes no more than a few careful steps to consider. Step 1: Defining Yourself As An Author The following aspects can help you communicate your unique personality and engage with readers. Your author personaUse the storytelling skills you (almost certainly) possess already. Then apply them to you. What is the character of your public self? Are you snarky, quirky? Or more introspective? What is it you are sharing with your audience? Defining yourself will help you understand what you want to create. So consider your story, or “public persona”. Your readersNext, think about your reading audience. Who is reading your books right now? Who do you want to read your books? Are they the same? Think about what kind of person would represent your current or ideal audience. Then examine why they are interested in your writing. By defining who your ideal audience is and understanding what they are looking to get from you, you’ll be able to communicate with strength and clarity to the right people, and think about the community you want to create. Your specialtyFinally, and most importantly, you will need to define your specialty. You may not be the only romance or fantasy writer in the world. But whatever you are writing about, you are bringing your specific one-of-a-kind perspective, voice and way of thinking to the page. This differentiates you from other writers out there. This is your “Point of Difference”. Do you have a specific style, unusual skill or experience? Consider how these things may make you or your writing special. (But, please, never show off.) Step 2: Presenting Yourself As An Author You need the right tools to communicate with readers. So here are a few tips on presenting yourself as a writer through design and social media. Get your author website designedYou’ll need to get a website and logo designed. And both must look clean, polished and professional, no matter how wacky the design. Your logo could be your name or a graphic, as long as it works with the style of the website and doesn’t clash. The look and feel of your logo and website should depend on this vibe you are going for. Look up any images that inspire you. Note down hues and typographies you like for CSS. Then once you’ve decided on a look, keep it consistent. Whether you\'re looking to redesign or create your site, look at a few examples of well designed author websites to get inspiration. Remember to think about site function as well as site design. Those two things have to work together, always. Then build a presenceIt’s not enough to simply have a website. You also need to actively build your online presence around it. Engage with readers and other writers to have the most impact. One of the most effective ways is regular blogging, keeping your audience engaged and helping them to know you better. It’s also good to be active on social media, but consistency is everything. So select the channels you’re sure you’ll use. Stick with them until you’re happy to experiment. Share updates and answer questions, but don’t just tell us about you. Look up chat hashtags to join (i.e. #amwriting on Twitter). If you see things you like, repost and reply. Others will be likelier to reply to you, too, building your following. And engagement is better than constant self-promotion. Look also for Facebook groups, forums or other blogs, where you can comment, write posts or share your content and opinions. Brené Brown’s website, for instance, is an excellent example for author branding. Find your readers where they areThough it’s good to stick with the social media you’re confident with (especially if you’re new to it), look online for where you would find readers that could be interested in you. Say if this is Instagram (i.e. perhaps you’re a novelist, but also an aspiring poet), and you’re not an Instagram user, then it might just be time to learn. Join in the likes of Rupi Kaur and Lang Leav. Get to grips with hashtags, too. You can become part of the conversation and people will get to know you. By interacting via social media, as a general rule you can find vast groups of interested people to engage with, spread the word and start building a following of your own, leading them back to your site. Step 3: How To Stand Out As An Author The true challenge is to create a one-of-a-kind-brand for yourself as a writer that sets you apart from everyone else. To achieve this, here are some last pointers. Be true to yourselfTo really be successful, you need to be authentic. Only if you let your authentic personality shine through in all your efforts can you build a strong and compelling presence as an author. Your readers will appreciate your honest voice, so stick to who you are to build a connection. The most important core of your author brand is you. Be consistentIt’s easy now to be impressively consistent with your site design. Online tools exist to help you create matching Twitter and Facebook cover and profile photos, etc., for a polished look across your site and social media. To establish a clear idea, and so everyone knows it’s you, create a consistent style across the digital channels your audience can find you on. Incorporate your ‘Point of Difference’As discussed earlier, this is your biggest selling point. The clearer you can let it shine in all you do, the easier it will be for you to build a loyal audience. Your Aide For Success So, the obvious: good writing is what will get you read as an author. Nevertheless, building an authentic brand as a writer is well worth it, despite the effort involved. A clear and convincing image of your work to the world will be key to building a loyal and engaging audience – vitally, one which loves you not just for your writing, but also for who you are as an author. 99designs is an online graphic design marketplace. Cookbook or crime thriller, 99designs’ community can create compelling book covers to stand out on Amazon or the shelves of your local bookshop. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Developmental Editing: What It Is & Where To Get It

What is it? Do you need it? Where can you get it? Definition: What Is Developmental Editing? In the good old days, developmental editing used to have one precise meaning. It now has certainly two, maybe three, and possibly four meanings. In short: no wonder you’re confused. And no wonder it’s unclear whether developmental editing is something you need or not. But let’s start with those definitions. Here goes. Developmental Editing – Traditional Definition But we start with the first, core, and most precise definition. To quote the ever-reliable Wikipedia: “A developmental editor may guide an author (or group of authors) in conceiving the topic, planning the overall structure, and developing an outline—and may coach authors in their writing, chapter by chapter.” In other words, any true “editing” took place before the writing. It was a planning and design function, in essence. Because competent authors can probably take care of planning and design perfectly well by themselves, such editing was always relatively rare and, in fiction, extremely rare. I’ve authored getting on for twenty books now and have never once had a development edit. I’m damn sure I never will. Developmental Editing As Industry Euphemism But of course not all authors are perfect and, now and again, publishers have to deal with a manuscript they’ve commissioned, but which turns out to be absolutely dire. Think celebrity memoir of the worst sort. Or a multi-million-selling author who’s long since stopped caring about how he or she writes, because they know the money will roll in anyway. So what to do? Well, the standard solution in trade publishing is to do what is euphemistically called a ‘development edit’. What that actually means is that an editor takes on the role of something akin to a ghostwriter. They rip out everything that’s hopeless and rebuild. I’ve known a Big 5 editor who had done this a couple of times, and he said it was soul-destroying. He didn’t get any bonus for doing the work. He didn’t get a share of fame or royalties. He didn’t go on the chat shows or the book tours. And he was always dancing on eggshells with the Famous Author, because the author in question was very prickly about having his work slighted in any way. Even though the work in question sucked. Great. So that’s the second meaning of a development edit: basically a euphemism designed to disguise what is basically a ghostwriting job. Developmental Editing In Self-Publishing That second meaning – basically, “complete text overhaul” – has given rise to a third one. Unless you’ve been sleeping under a particularly weighty hardback for the last few years, you’ll have noticed that indie authors – that is, self-published ones – have done rather well. They’ve gobbled ever more market share. Their books look better than ever before. They read better than before. They are marketed superbly. (So much so, that every single notable marketing innovation of the last few years originated with the self-pub industry. That’s astonishing. You can find out more about self-publishing here.) Over time, whole sections of the market (romance, SF) have been pretty much eaten whole by these indie authors. But let’s say you’re one of the modern breed of self-pub demigods. You publish 4-6 books a year. You have a backlist of 20+ titles. You know how to exploit all the key marketing channels at your disposal, and you exploit em good. You earn, for sure, a good six-figures. Quite possibly, you’ve hit seven. A million bucks plus in annual income. Wow! Kudos to you, my friend. We mortals bow in awe. But those demigods still have to write the damn books! And do everything else! And sleep! How do they fit it all in? Well, the answer is often that those authors complete their full-length novel in 3 months – something I’ve done just once in 20 years. They’re skilled and experienced writers and they’re also just plain good. That’s why they earn what they earn. (You can’t market rubbish.) But still. A first draft is a first draft, and first drafts aren’t normally known for their wonderful excellence. So these pro authors often work with a developmental editor. That editor’s task is basically to clean up the text. Solve plot problems. Clean up sentences. Add a bit of setting and colour, if those things are sometimes wanting. Make sure that if the hero starts with blue eyes, his eyes haven’t changed colour halfway through. And so on. The author and editor will often form a team who know each other very well, understand each other’s roles, and produce genuinely excellent books together. That’s not how the traditional industry ever worked, except in crisis, but then again the traditional industry was never all that great at churning out authors earning six- and seven-figures a year. That’s the third definition, but it brings us to the last, most relevant one: Developmental Editing As Juiced Up Manuscript Assessment Now for me, the gold-standard method of improving a manuscript is quite simply the good old-fashioned manuscript assessment. You write your book. You send it to an editor. You get a report back saying, in essence, “this worked, this didn’t, here’s how to fix the bits that were off.” That sounds simple, but it isn’t. And often enough the effect of good manuscript feedback is a total revitalisation of the work. Many, many times, I’ve known a manuscript assessment to be the single most pivotal moment in a writer’s path to publication. But – A manuscript assessment is mostly just that. A long, written report. In the case of Jericho Writers, you get a fabulous editor, a report of no less than 3,000 words, and a long track record of success. But what you don’t get, or not mostly, is a page-by-page list of things to think about. And sometimes you need that too. Sometimes you need the rounded, structural commentary of the report but with detailed page-by-page advice alongside – actual annotations on the manuscript. Comments written in Word. Sample edits made to the document itself. That’s the glory of developmental editing. The big and the small. Both things delivered together. This kind of service is what we, Jericho Writers, offer by way of developmental editing. Others offer it too. It’s a very, very good service. It’s the ultimate gift you can give your work. (And yes. I know. That just sounds like a sales pitch – but read on. Developmental editing isn’t right for everyone. It’s probably not right for you.) When Is Developmental Editing Right For You? Honestly? You want my most honest opinion here? OK, here goes. Developmental Editing – Traditional Definition Do you need help conceiving, structuring, planning and shaping the manuscript before you have written it? Well, yes, maybe if you are hoping to write subject-led non-fiction. So if, let’s say, you’re an expert in optical physics. A well-known publisher wants a book on that subject for laypeople. They come to you. It probably makes sense for you to spend a day with your editor, planning the book that you will write. Your subject expertise + the editor’s market expertise = a proposition that might actually sell. I sincerely doubt that this situation applies to even 1% of those reading this article. Developmental Editing As Industry Euphemism Are you a global celebrity who has written a terrible book that needs reshaping by a pro? No? Then you do not need developmental editing of this, second, flavour. Developmental Editing In Self-Publishing Are you a self-pub demi-god? Do you pump out 4-6 books a year and earn enough revenue to employ a pro editor? If you do, then sure, you need developmental editing, but I don’t understand why you’re wasting your time reading this post. Go write another book. Developmental Editing As Juiced Up Manuscript Assessment Are you an ordinary writer slowly working your way to a manuscript (probably a novel) of publishable quality? If you are – and I’ve been in your shoes myself – then I get why you are thinking about developmental editing. It’s a sensible thing to think about and, for maybe 10-15% of you, it’s a sensible thing to purchase. The advantage of developmental editing is that it forces you to look at the big and the small. You’re asked to think about characterisation, and place, and story arc, and theme. And at the same time, your attention is being drawn to sloppy sentence structures, loose images, clunky dialogue, and erroneous habits of punctuation. That is one hell of a mix and it is powerful. Yes. So developmental editing – such as we offer – is a great service. It’s awesome. It could do wonders for your manuscript. But – Here are some downsides: It’s expensiveMany of the page-by-page points will be picked up in some way in the editorial report. You won’t normally get a complete list of (say) poor sentences, but you’ll be given examples, so you know what to look for.Very often the structural advice will demand some significant level of rewriting, which means the page-by-page comments may be less relevant.If your prose quality and general writing technique are reasonably strong, then the most important feedback will live in the editorial report anyway.If you go on to get an agent and a book deal, your publisher will end up paying for a full professional copy-edit (and proof-read), so they’ll end up addressing all the things that a developmental edit might have addressed – and more. That says, if your work is strong enough to do without the development edit, you should do without it. Someone else can pay. Those things aren’t small. If you have all the money in the world, then yes, sure, hire a developmental editor. For the rest of us, the matter demands thought. If I were advising a serious amateur writer on the subject of manuscript assessments, I’d say, “Get one if you can. It’ll probably be the biggest single jump you can make.” If I were advising the same person in relation to a developmental edit, I’d say, “Think hard. It might or might not be right for you.” Yeah. Helpful, I know. Still not sure if a developmental edit is the right choice? Then you’ll probably find this article on the different types of editing really useful. Hiring A Developmental Editor: Conclusion In the end, whether you hire a developmental editor or not is your call. It is a great service. It is expensive. The manuscript assessment alone does normally provide most (not all) of what you need. If you’re reading this post and still don’t know what you want, or which way to turn, then do reach out. Our customer service team at Jericho Writers are not employed to sell; they are employed to help. We don’t offer sales bonuses. We don’t hire salesmen. A good proportion of our workforce are writers like you. We’re on your side. I’m telling you all that, because if you want to get in touch with us to ask our advice, we’ll give that advice honestly, to the best of our ability. I hope that helps. And whatever you decide, may you and your writing thrive. In the end, that’s all that matters. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

University Courses In Creative Writing

University courses in creative writing have become ever more common in both the US and the UK. But are they worth it? Personally, I think many people who do such courses can be let down by them. I think the teaching is often far too removed from the market, and the writers who graduate can be underprepared for market realities. In the first place, it’s important to realise that agents and publishers wouldn’t care about your academic qualifications. My degree is in economics. I spent ten years working as an investment banker. There was nothing in my history to suggest I had any talent at creative writing, and no one cared. There’s only one aptitude test which matters, and that’s whether you can write a good book. Yes, it is true that agents will tend to stay in close touch with various creative writing schools, watching for emerging talent, but so what? The most that’ll do is ease your path into the industry. If your book is good enough, and you’re not a numpty about finding agents (we doubt you are), you’ll secure representation. Good genre fiction is quite simply good writing. It deserves proper teaching, as much as anything else. One of our first clients came to me after having completed a creative writing course at a highly respected university. He had written a thriller – clever, stylish, nasty, memorable. But it wasn’t right. It spent too much energy on the style, too little on the thriller. I helped that client out with a couple of editorial reviews. He had much talent and a great concept. The things that needed fixing were obvious, fixable. But why was I providing that feedback? Why hadn’t this guy’s tutors already told him what he needed to know? He said that they were all literary writers who didn’t relate to what he wanted to do and had hardly ever read the full-length manuscript. I feel that’s inexcusable. (Oh, and we got that writer a top agent within weeks of his having finished his final edit with us.) And even if your interest is in writing literary fiction, I’m unsure most courses will set you on the right track. Fifteen years ago, there was a market for the ‘slim’ literary novel. You got paid £5,000 for it. It sold 200 copies in hardback. It sold 3000 copies in paperback. It got some nice reviews. No one made any money. After two or three such novels, everyone agreed that enough was enough, and an author’s career ended. That just doesn’t happen now, and it shouldn’t. Novels need to command an audience. The best debuts are loud, clamouring, unforgettable things that demand attention. Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Audrey Niffenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated. That’s what agents are looking for. Those are the books that can launch a career. Those are the things that MA or MFA courses should be teaching. Yet the tutors often have never written such an arresting book themselves. Whilst this isn’t always the case (Scarlett Thomas teaches at Kent, and China Mieville at Warwick, and there are more besides), some tutors have published short stories and poetry, sold slim literary novels of their own, but never engaged with the industry the way that most of their students want to engage with it themselves. I do know some brilliant professional authors who used university courses to put the final finishing touches to their work, and whose careers took off as a result. I know others (more of them) who completed their courses, often with distinctions, only to find that their work was unsaleable. Creative writing tutors loved their work. Publishers didn’t. Don’t let this happen to you. If you do sign up for one of these courses, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. For example, do sign up for a course if: you genuinely just want the thrill and satisfaction of writing creativelyyou want the fun and company of going back to collegeyou want to broaden your feel for literatureyour course tutors have the kind of track record and publication history that you yourself aspire to If you want to write commercial fiction, or commercially successful literary fiction – if, in general, you want a career as a writer – then just consider carefully. As it happens, we run our own complete novel course, which is like a slimmed down MFA, but cheaper, less intrusive. There are other courses we have, though I’m not saying you ought to do our course or any course. And there will be a percentage of people for whom an MA or MFA in creative writing is absolutely what they ought to do. Only that percentage isn’t 100%. (Or 80%, etc.) Before signing up, do your research, ask the hard questions, and take care. Begin with the end in mind. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Sell A Movie Script

Is Your Script Really Ready? Review, Proofread And Then Review Again! Is your screenplay ready to go out to market? How many drafts have you done? 10- 20 is the norm. It really has to be the best it can be. It also has to be meticulously presented. Standard industry format, with no typos whatsoever. No scene numbers. Before even considering sending out your script, practise writing loglines and synopses for it. A logline is a one-sentence description of your story. A synopsis is a description of the story and characters that’s about one page in length. This offers you a final sense (reassurance?) that the whole storyline flows effortlessly, but they are also a necessary marketing step when trying to sell a movie script. However many drafts you’ve done, I urge to take one more look and ask yourself some questions. Imagine you are an industry reader late on a Friday evening, desperate to get home, or a producer who’s spent all weekend avoiding her slush pile and now it’s Sunday night and she’s tired out. Page One: Will they bother to turn the page? It has it be absolutely compelling. Keep on reading and until you’re satisfied that it is bold, original, with the words leaping off the page, don’t send it out. Wherever you send it, you get just one shot. And if in doubt, get feedback. It’s a new career you want to establish. Why wouldn’t you invest a little in getting proper, tough advice before you get going for real and try to sell your screenplay? Research Film Companies, Agents And Actors That Could Be Interested In Your Script Read the trades – Screen and Variety – invaluable info on who’s looking for what. Go online to find film companies’ websites for contact details of Heads of  Acquisitions and Development. Check out the kind of films they produce. If you want to try getting an agent (very tough now) look up online, research the writers on their lists to make sure there’s a chance they’d be interested in your type of script. If you want to try sending a script to a particular actor, call Equity in UK or Screen Actors Guild in New York or Los Angeles to get their agent’s contact details. Go to film festivals and screenwriters’ festivals. Network like mad. Join screenwriters’ forums – lots of useful info about festivals and contests – and moral support! Write A Sizzling 5-8 Lines Query Letter To Describe Your Script Do not send a script. The letter is to persuade them to ask to read it. Your query letter should be 7-8 lines maximum. No meandering, dull prose story of your life! Grab the reader in first 3 lines. Who you are, what your job is. Next 3 lines, a sizzling description of your script in 25 words or less. Make sure it’s original and intriguing. You need to spend time on getting this right. End the letter with: ‘I would like to send you my project for consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.’ Think About Your Selling Terms There are two probable alternatives when it comes to selling your script. First is an ‘option’, for a certain amount of money the producer or production company will have, for a specific time, the exclusive right to try to get funding and attach names to the screenplay. In effect, it’s a temporary sale. At the end of the option period, the producer can buy the script if it looks like the project can be produced, renew the option, or simply forget the whole thing – where the writer keeps control and copyright of the script. The second alternative is an ‘outright purchase’. After you sign this contract, you will not own the rights to your script anymore. New writers are often brought in and the screenplay dramatically changed. Consider Entering Specialised Contests To Gain Some Exposure Winning a contest or becoming a finalist or shortlisted can give your script some kudos and encourage industry professionals who monitor these contests to contact you. There are many to choose from with different criteria and entry fees. Of the most respected: Nicholls, Blue Cat, Red Planet, Zoetrope, and Page. While you wait, get onto the next piece of work immediately!  If this script doesn’t sell, it could get you commissioned to write a different script. Good luck! Other Tips Do try writing some shorts. Production companies now go to short film festivals that have mushroomed in the last few years. Join film-making groups, get involved, write a great short, get a director on board. The film could win or get shortlisted at a festival and that will mean your full length script will get taken more seriously. Several writers of shorts have gone on to be commissioned to write feature-length Hollywood screenplays. Why not you? Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How long does it take to sell a book?

Before answering this question, let’s assume you’ve got an agent. Let’s assume that you’ve done all the editorial work you need to do at this stage. Let’s assume your book is something that has potential global reach, whether fiction or non-fiction. In that case, the process will probably work a little like this. Your agent rounds up a possible 8-12 editors. That’ll mostly be editors who work at large publishers (though often in semi-autonomous imprints or companies), but there’ll be 2-3 smaller independent publishers, as well, more than likely. Your agent will introduce editors to the book, check they’re available (not off on holiday, etc.), then more or less simultaneously get the book to them. (Books used to be sent on paper. These days, it’s often electronic.)You wait. Your agent will be looking for a first offer. As soon as they get an offer:They’ll start calling everyone on the list, setting deadlines, coaxing offers, etc. A book auction chemistry is critical and delicate. Get three rival offers from three rival publishers, and you should do well, except many notionally independent publishers are connected (e.g. Transworld, Orion, Hodder, Headline), and these guys don’t bid against each other. A smaller publisher (Quercus, Faber, Profile, Atlantic) may be a wonderful publisher, but they won’t be able to fight the bigger ones on advances, so a financial outcome does depend very much on where interest lies.Then your agent will call for ‘best and final’ bids, then close a deal.A contract may take a while to follow. I’ve known it take as long as 6 months, but a verbal agreement is nevertheless something you can depend on. These agreements should never sour. So much for your home nation deal (i.e. the UK if you’re British, US if you’re American). Your agent will then start to target major overseas markets. Most agencies will have someone in charge of foreign rights, who’ll be talking to publishers or sub-agents in Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Spain. Your agent will also have a sub-agent in the US (if she’s British) or the UK (if she’s not). That sub-agent will be also start sending your book around. Note it’s often easier for US authors to get a UK deal, and harder the other way around. What’s more, books that seem obviously US-friendly are oftener ones that make no impact. Ones that seem obscurely British or quirky often do well (Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is a famous example). And once those major markets have been dealt with, your agency’s attention will start to turn to other areas where small but meaningful deals can be done. India and China, by the way, may well buy your book, but mightn’t do so for much money. This entire process can easily take about a year, perhaps more. And by the time the last paperback publication advance drops into your account, you’re quite likely not just onto your next book, but the one after that. Good luck! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What is YA Fiction? | Writing for Young Adults

Something to be conscious of as a fiction writer is the market for which you write. Young Adult (or YA) fiction isn’t a genre, but it’s a defined label in publishing, typically considered for readers aged 12-18, and those who are coming of age, though this too is fluid. Since the publication of titles like J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, YA is a term you need to know if you’re writing fiction for young adults, and want to convince literary agents and publishers that you can do it well. The most important thing is to always read debuts in your genre, and for the age you’d like to write for. These are the books publishers are looking for. Whilst it’s true publishing trends will always shift, books read by your ideal ‘audience’ are evidently the books they enjoy, so it pays (literally) to be conscious of them. Read on for our top tips on how to write a YA novel and learn about the market for this age group. Step 1: Write Your Own Trendsetter It pays to be aware of trends in young adult literature and the market, if only so you can buck them a little. This is a balance, however. Readers of The Bookseller can see regular updates on new UK book deals, and every spring, may espy annual coverage of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, with ample talk and speculation of what’s hot and selling as foreign printing rights are bought and sold. There will always guaranteed be a sentence or two on trends, on what publishers of Middle Grade or Young Adult books are hunting for. It’s as well to be conscious of trends, but what’s trendy will soon be outdated. If you’re still writing, a hot topic now could be obsolete by the time you’ve finished your novel. Trends move fast, and a single book can also change things. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight happened to be a YA phenomenon, but the ensuing paranormal romances ‘competing’ for attention with Twilight blurred a little into one another, even as the tide continued and anticipated the rise of dystopian fiction, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, and so on. The lesson of all this is to try and present an idea (even an old idea) authentically. Vampires have been written about before and Bram Stoker’s titular Dracula preying upon Lucy Westenra laid the founding of an established trope. Twilight just happened to hit a certain chord for its readership and this at once predicated and, in so doing, slightly nullified its trend. So be careful and cautious of trends, since these can be a double-edged sword. Trends are transient, they escalate and subsist again. Whilst it pays to know your audience and what’s in the bookshops, to be conscious of the books teenagers are drawn to and reflect on why this is the case, bear in mind trendsetter-novels aren’t necessarily the books you want to compete with. Satiated trends mean a saturated book market (for the time being). Even if you’re ahead of the bookshops, trying to keep up with publishing news and new book deals, what you know now won’t be the thing your writing can keep up with. You’ll need to write your own trendsetter. Step 2: Read, Read, Read YA Fiction That said, read around and shop as much as you can for YA fiction, obvious or intuitive as this may sound. Your novel can’t exist in a vacuum. It’s no good disregarding what your audience is reading now, so know YA books to know your audience. You’ll need to write in this subtle tension, conscious of taste in YA, of past commercial successes, making your novel similar enough and yet entirely original.  You must create a book that fits into the market. Read around the sort of thing already out there you’d like to write, too. It’s not that vampire-human romances hadn’t been written about before Stephenie Meyer’s Bella and Edward. It’s not that Greek gods hadn’t been written about before Percy Jackson and the Olympians from Rick Riordan. It’s been observed how similar J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of being a Wallflower are, etc. You’ll want your book to fit with a canon of similar stories, without just writing ‘copies’ of things done before. YA novels like Beauty by Robin McKinley, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas or Uprooted by Naomi Novik share links to Beauty and the Beast, but each of those books is still unique. The same is true of books like Ash by Malinda Lo or Cinder by Marissa Meyer, with ties to Cinderella. It’s just that an old idea was reworked by an author in new ways. So learn what teenagers like, then read what they like. (If you’re not sure, look up book blogs like The Mile-Long Bookshelf.) How does your novel compare to the YA books you’ve found? How do you feel your own work will be judged? It’s also worth noting that it pays to read contemporary YA fiction. Classical lyricism and verbosity needn’t concern you so much as writing a resonant, gripping story to hook modern readers. There have been various game-changers in fiction-publishing for young people. Melvin Burgess’ Junk (or Smack in the US) was one. The book won the Carnegie Prize and Guardian Children’s Fiction Award in the UK in 1996. Whilst its subject (heroin addiction) caused ripples of shock, Junk paved the way to an increasingly mandatory style of authentic, honest, raw writing that’s now commonplace in YA publishing. The success of Junk among its readers, with its prize-winning status, changed perceptions and sent publishers a message. What’s needed in successful YA fiction is resonant, emotional experience teenage readers can connect with. Step 3: Know Your Subject (And Write Sensitively About It) If you’re also thinking of writing a young adult novel on a possibly more controversial topic, explore sensitively and with all due research. Don’t just write to shock. Write to be poignant, and so to connect. The Fault in our Stars by John Green caused a stir when it was accused of being ‘sick lit’ (a pair of terminally ill teenagers fall in love). Whilst its subject seemed to ‘shock’ some adults, its poignancy that so stirred readers nullifies these sorts of ‘grown-up’ objections. Who cares? The Fault in our Stars isn’t a shocking novel. It’s a moving one. It’s been adapted for film, its catch-lines passing into contemporary language via its readership. (‘Okay?’ ‘Okay.’) Melvin Burgess has shared how his novel Junk, about teenage drug addiction, has been life-changing for some teenage readers, but it’s important to note Melvin Burgess knew his setting. He knew these emotional landscapes. More recently, Lisa Williamson wrote a resonant transgender protagonist in her YA novel The Art of Being Normal, though she herself is cisgender, but she’s spent time working for the UK’s Gender Identity Development Service. She brought her experiences to her writing. Bear in mind, though, LGBT+ is not its own separate genre or subgenre, nor should fiction be defined by country or ethnicity, as still per some bookstores. Patrick Ness’ novel More than This features protagonist Seth, who is gay, but this is incidental to its main plot and it’s okay for this to be the case. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is a high-school love story between a Korean boy and an American girl, and sometimes it need only be this simple. You needn’t write clunkily to make a point. As Rainbow Rowell herself has said: “Why is Park Korean?” The first time I was asked that question, three or four months ago, I had a pretty short answer: “Because Park is Korean.” … Because Park was always Korean. Because I think there should be more Asian-American characters in YA, especially boys. (And also more chubby girls.) Because it’s up to people like me, who write, to write them. Only by writing sensitively and incidentally can writers help make sure all sorts of characters become unquestioned players of mainstream fiction, not sectioned by ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability or anything else. Everyone, everything, should be mainstream, especially in YA publishing. Teenagers, who will be faster than adults to question norms and pick up on injustices, should be catered to in the novels they read and not be defrauded in this respect. Appreciate and accommodate for diversity in your own YA writing. It’s good also to have first-hand experience of what you’re writing, but if not, the importance of empathy and careful research to create an authentic emotional experience can’t be stressed enough. Step 4: Know Your Audience (And Keep Prose Authentic) This is important. You must know your audience. You can’t write about living in a teenage character’s shoes unless you know teenagers well. If you can’t remember or don’t care, find someone else to write about and to. YA readers will be looking for experiences outside their own, looking for ways to challenge and break rules, and will be (strongly) averse to feeling patronised or educated in fiction. Write about being a teenager, and never write to educate. Again – to best do this, read and read up on YA novels that are doing well. Respecting ‘voice’, too, author Joan Aiken has also observed adolescents are ‘lightning-quick to spot hypocrisy or artificiality’. Never patronise and never attempt a ‘coolness’ that can’t sound organic, at home and natural in your first-person narratives. An inauthentic teenage voice will destroy your book before it ever reaches a literary agent. This offers a good reason YA fiction should be taken seriously. A manuscript assessment can also certainly give you invaluable editorial feedback with insights into the commercial perspective that drives YA publishing, and to harness your own voice in a way that sounds both raw and compelling in YA fiction. Happy writing! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Screenwriting: Dialogue By Pauline Kiernan

Understanding Dialogue Dialogue functions to reveal character, impart information and move the story forward but it’s the way you make it function that’s important. How you create dialogue will determine how original it is at conveying meaning, developing the story, and drawing the audience into the emotions of your characters. Always be aware of how you can incorporate subtext into your dialogue. Subtext is the underlying meaning of a character’s words and actions. It’s when someone says one thing but means something else – usually the emotional significance behind the surface words. That’s why it connects to the audience at the deepest level. As you write see how much your dialogue can suggest the inner emotions of characters. (Oh, and if you’re after help with the same issues in the context of the novel, then you probably want to pop over to this blog post instead. Or, better still, as well.) Give Dialogue Energy Listen to your dialogue out loud as you write. If you leave them on the page you won’t know whether they’re going to come alive or not.  Use a tape recorder or the voice facility on your computer. Ask yourself how the dialogue’s going. Does it have energy, pace and rhythm?Is it original? Believable?Unique to each character?Emotional connection with the audience?Have I used subtext well?Creating tension?Breathing space?Creating conflict?How sharp is it?Each word necessary?Suggesting psychological state? Does it have energy, pace and rhythm?Is it original? Believable?Unique to each character?Emotional connection with the audience?Have I used subtext well?Creating tension?Breathing space?Creating conflict?How sharp is it?Each word necessary?Suggesting psychological state? Looking Over The First Draft Again, move around and say the words out loud or get friends to read through it and you listen and make notes. This time you’re assessing the dialogue’s role in the trajectory of the story. Ask yourself: Is this developing my characters’ inner life?What distinctive details are shaping my characters’ ways of speaking? Are they all sufficiently individualised by not only what they say but how they say it?Is it forwarding the action?What do I lose/gain if I get rid of this?Are there moments where I’m giving the audience some space to absorb what’s happening? Why is my character compelled to say this? And why at this moment?What does the audience need to know here? Better to keep them waiting?Would silence be more dramatic here?How are the words speaking to the theme of the story?How much is subtext expressing meaning? More Screenwriting Exercises Get into the habit of watching a few scenes of films and focus solely on how the dialogue and subtext are working. Choose a few movies you haven’t seen. Try watching dialogue scenes with the sound turned off. Then write the dialogue. Turn the sound up. Compare your words to those in the film. Try writing short exchanges for your characters using subtext alone Get two lovers talking. A scene of tenderness. A violent row. Making up. Get a supporting character and main character together. Make it a power struggle. How is the subtext conveying hostility? Notice how you’re creating emotion which lies behind the words (the subtext). Pauline is a screenwriter, award-winning playwright, Shakespeare scholar, and former journalist. She’s also the author of one of the best guides there is to screenwriting, Screenwriting They Can’t Resist: How to Create Screenplays of Originality and Cinematic Power. Explode the Rules. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Marketing Tips For Authors

You’ve written a book. You’ve got it all the way through production, either with the help of a traditional publisher or on your own, via self-publishing. And all that seemed like plenty of effort, did it not? You’d think that you could now lie back in the warm sun of adulation as readers flocked to your books and asked you intense questions about just how you found your inspiration. And then, you know. Reality. If you have a traditional publisher and you’re lucky with them and the book, then things really can be like they were in your dreams. Huge retail distribution. Big sales. All that adulation. But even for traditionally published authors, those things are rare. The situation for most of us (and I’m a hybrid author, both traditionally and self-published) is that we see our books – our beautiful, published books – languishing a long way from the happy sunlight at the top of the bestseller charts. So, what to do? There’s a lot you can do, in fact, and some of the tools are very potent indeed. So here’s the top 10 things to try when marketing a book. Some are more complex than others. Some cost money. Some are as free and easy as winter rain. So let’s explore. We’ll start with stuff that’s easy, cheap and relatively low in effectiveness … and move up the ladder to stuff that’s harder, but more potent. 1. Post Something On Your Blog You have a blog, right? Preferably integrated into your own website that has a domain name of the form yourname.com. If you’re not yet there, well – you need to get there. A decent looking website is necessary these days. These things can be put together for almost nothing these days, though if you’re serious about your career, I think you’ll do what you need to do to create something of quality. In any case, use your site to tell a story. Don’t sell at the reader. No one loves to have stuff shoved at them. Your best bet is to tell a story that engages in some way … and then make it unbelievably easy for readers to buy your book if they want to. That means creating easy, obvious links to your Amazon page, at the top, front and middle of your piece. Need to set up a website? Here’s how. 2. Create Author Profiles On Amazon And Goodreads Readers hang out both on Amazon and Goodreads. Both sites want authors to claim their profiles. Use a photo that feels personal. Write a short bio that feels human and engaged. If you want to reference your favourite authors (ones writing in a similar field to you, of course), then do so. These things won’t create readers overnight, but they are part of any modern author’s armoury. Basically, you must do them. Having said that – don’t misdirect your attention either. I have yet to meet a professional author who thinks that being active on Goodreads is a good way to spend time. It isn’t. You need to create an attractive profile there, then leave it. Spending hours engaging with the community will not create sales. Advertising on Goodreads is a simple way to lose money. Create a good-looking author page following Amazon’s own recipe. 3. Create An Author Page On Facebook (And Connect It To Your Blog) You don’t want to mix your personal page with your professional one, so set up a yournameauthor page on Facebook. Maintaining that page as well as your blog will drive you crazy, so make sure that when you post on your blog, that post pops up both on your Facebook author page and on your Goodreads one. The truth is that probably no one may read your blog much in the first instance – these things take time to grow and even major authors don’t necessarily have huge volumes of site traffic. But readers do congregate on Goodreads and Facebook and they do like to see some personal, engaging material on authors they may happen to stumble across. So create the material on your blog. Pipe it over – automatically – to those other sites. If you can’t do that by yourself, then pay someone to do it. You’re an author not a tech-expert, so it’s OK to pay others when you need to … and there are cheap or free ways to automate these things, so paying someone to make the connections shouldn’t cost you much. Read up on more tips for your author page. 4. Open Yourself Up To Twitter Yeah, I know. If you like Twitter, you’re already on it. If you’re not, that’s because you hate it and can’t see the point. And I hate Twitter. I don’t like the zero-attention-span, weirdly formatted, near-impenetrable texts that the damn site is full of. Also: you cannot sell stuff via Twitter. Yes, this is a post about marketing your work. Yes, I am recommending that you join Twitter. And yes, I have just told you that you cannot sell on Twitter. It’s not just me that thinks that last thing. The digital marketing manager at a major publishing house told me the exact same thing. I’ve also seen data that calls into question the degree to which even a really ‘successful’ Twitter campaign can influence sales. The only real exception is where you are already established enough that you don’t have to sell your book, but you can notify people that it’s there. All that said, you still need to be on Twitter because numerous people that you may want to connect with (bloggers, other authors, marketing types, industry folk) may not publish an email address, but are publicly and easily available on Twitter. And if you want to reach those people, you don’t just need to be signed up to the service, you do need to follow some people, and get followed back, just so that you don’t look like the only naked one in the room. It’s a faff, yes, but you’re marketing your books and you can’t ignore Twitter just because you #hateit. And – once you’ve signed up, and got properly started – then start to contact the people that matter. And remember that conversations on Twitter are like conversations anywhere. You don’t just barge in and shout and try to sell stuff. Be courteous, interested, and – when you have a relationship – you politely enquire if Person X might be interested in your very fine Y. Out of those relationships, come invitations to appear on blogs, to get book reviews, to do Q&As and all the rest of it. There are other ways to reach those people – email works, and there are some great groups on Facebook – but Twitter is still the easiest way to make that first knock on the door. Need more on getting started? Find out more from these people. 5. Use Your Ebooks As A Platform To Sell Your Ebooks If you have more than one ebook, then make sure that your ebooks are properly set up to sell each other. That means that in the back of each e-book you have a proper listing of your titles – updated, please, as new books come out. That listing shouldn’t just list the actual titles, you should also include some enticing sales copy and think about including a book cover too. The point is to catch readers when they’ve just finished your book – when they’re still half in love with your character, still giddy with the excitement of your ending – and get them to buy more stuff. So put that stuff under their noses, and make it very attractive, very engaging and very buyable. And that’s only step one! You also, crucially, need to make it unbelievably easy for people to buy the books they’re looking at. That means (for most indies) a simple link to Amazon in your mobi files – or rather three, as you’ll need different links for the .com, .ca, and .co.uk sites. Traditionally published authors can’t – for complicated reasons to do with their publishers’ contractual situation – place the same easy links to Amazon. So what you need to do is create a kind of “choose your e-store” page. That page will basically just bounce people from your ebook to the reader’s choice of e-store. You can see a fine example of such a page right here. Notice that although that page exists on my own website – harrybingham.com – it’s shorn of all in-site navigation. That is, once you arrive on the ‘choose your estore’ page, there’s absolutely nothing to do except choose your estore and move on. Also – obviously – the links are to your page on the various estores, not just the home page. Getting your ebook to sell effectively at the end of the book is essential and it’s a free and easy way to make additional sales. The best way to understand what the back end of an ebook should like is to look at an ebook that has been carefully designed to sell an entire series. My own ebooks do just that, like the back of The Dead House. Notice the author’s note, the series listing, those “choose your estore” links, and the multiple email sign-up opportunities. 6. Get Clever With Your Bisac Codes Your BISAC codes or ‘browse categories’ tell Amazon where to shelve your book. (Find out more here.) And mostly, you’ll want to shelve it in places that actually collect some traffic – so “Romance/Historical” say, rather than “Family and Friendship”. But it’s hard to climb far enough up those major categories to really find eyeballs … and one brilliant, if sneaky, little trick is to choose one BISAC code that’s so minor you just don’t need to make many sales to hit that #1 position. And once you have that #1 position, Amazon tags your book with a sweet little #1 bestseller icon … which is a wonderful lure to anyone stumbling across your book. And, in any case, remember that your BISAC codes are infinitely malleable. If your original choices aren’t working for you, then change them. Mess around and see what works. That’s free and it’s easy. If you’re traditionally published, then you won’t have direct access to these codes, but do ask your publisher what they’re doing, and test their answer. Make sure they have a strategy and are revising it if need be. 7. Get Clever With Your Keywords And Subtitles Try typing something into Amazon now. Just type the first two or three letters of whatever you’re searching for and Amazon will quickly offer you a dropdown list of things it guesses you might be seeking. Sometimes, it’ll offer you the name of an author (‘Harry Bingham’). But often enough it offers you thematic-type searches – things like ‘psychological thriller’ or ‘historical novels’. Those thematic search terms are great to use as keywords for your book – just make sure they pop up on those Amazon dropdowns, because if they don’t, then no one is searching for them. And once you’ve chosen your keywords, do shove them into your series titles or subtitles, because use of a keyword with subtitle/series title support always beats an equivalent book which lacks that support. If you’re self-published, you already know about this and are probably already doing it. If you’re traditionally published, you may well think that this is all complicated stuff and your publishers presumably know their onions. Except they may not do. A huge proportion of traditional publishers have been trained and brought up in a world of bricks and mortar print. Editors who came into the industry because they wanted to edit books may simply not want to deal with the minutiae of keywords and series titles. Results: some huge and supposedly sophisticated firms can be blithering morons when it comes to online visibility. So ask. Understand the answers. And ask again. Do not let this one get away. Learn more about keywords. 8. Pricing So easy, this, but I’ve relegated the matter of price to a long way down this list because unless you have other ingredients of your marketing platform well-set in advance, the impact of a pricing tweak will dissipate far too fast into the cloudless blue. But once you are happy with your author platform, once you have optimised your ebooks, once you do have your keywords and your BISAC codes and all the rest of your metadata straight, then press the pricing button. Dropping your price from $4.99 or $2.99 down to $0.99 will give you an immediate strong but relatively short-term boost to pricing. All the same, that boost gets more readers into your series and gives you the chance to make full-price sales of later books. I do also recommend the use of Amazon’s useful pricing tool, KDP Pricing Support (available via Kindle Direct), locked it would seem in permanent beta. The tool shows you the impact of pricing on both readers and revenues. You want revenues, of course. That’s your aim. On the other hand, nearly all authors want to grow their readership in the hope of earning even larger revenues down the road, in which case you’ll want to price somewhat to the left of that ‘revenue maximising point’. Dipping down to $0.99 or $2.99 to raise visibility, then jumping back to a higher price point makes great sense. If you live at the lower price levels all the time, you’ll find that you don’t secure any extra kick staying there. You’re better off with a kind of yo-yo strategy. 9. Email Lists If you don’t keep an email list, you need to create one. If you do have one, then you probably know how to use it. But for a whistle-stop tour of why you need one and how to make one, then here you go. A. You need your readers’ email addresses so you can contact your customers directly when you have a new product. It’s like when you buy a new dress from an online retailer: they’ll be in touch later to say, ‘Hey, you like dresses. We’ve got some more dresses. How about it?’ That tactic was and is the best marketing tactic ever invented. You’re basically talking to customers who like your stuff and have been ready to buy it in the past. They’re the very first people to go back to when you have more products available to sell. B. You collect readers email addresses by setting up a ‘Readers’ Club’. People want to be part of a readers’ club attaching to a series or author that they love. C. You can’t just take stuff (an email address), you must give, too, and what you give has got to be a lot better than one email address. But you’re a writer, yes? And readers are committed to writers. Write a long short story or a short novella and give it away for free to anyone who signs up to your club. The story should be exclusive, for subscribers only. If you sell the thing on Amazon, you’re demeaning the gift, so don’t do it. D. In terms of techie stuff, you need an email provider – most likely Mailchimp – and a sign-up page. If that sentence frightens you, then pay someone to do the necessary. Your aim is to have a landing page that functions like this one. There’s no in-site navigation, big obvious sign-up buttons, plenty of use of the word ‘free’. Oh, and don’t ask for an email straight away because that seems grabby. Only ask for an email address in direct response to a customer’s request. Only when a user on my website clicks the “Get my download now” button do I ask for an email address. In other words, let them give the orders. You only ask for the address to fulfil that command. E. Where do you get your email sign-ups from? Well, yes, from the website, except that realistically the only people who come to your website with the intent to join your Readers’ Club are people who have just read and enjoyed one of your books. The real source of sign-ups is from within the ebooks themselves. I have graphic calls-to-action in the front and back of my ebooks and text-only links underneath and a call to action in my author’s note and a further one in my series listing. That sounds horribly overdone, except that it seems perfectly natural when you have the book in your hand. And get this: I get about one email sign-up for every five ebooks I sell. That’s a very good ratio, which means I can reach at least 20% of my readers by email whenever I want. F. How do you use the email list once you’ve got it? Answer: as little as possible. People will just unsubscribe if you blast them with unwanted crap, so keep it very light. I reckon that two emails a year is (in most cases) plenty. One to announce when a book goes up for pre-order. Another to nudge people when that book is published or enjoying a special and temporary price promotion. G. And, to be clear, the real beauty of the email list is not the fact that you can collect however many hundred sales. It’s that because those sales are densely focused around the time you send the email, you can instantly jump into the bestseller charts, at which point Amazon’s own algorithms will start giving you a ton of visibility – then, consequently, a whole heap of additional sales. The email list isn’t there to sell to the people on the list only, it’s there to multiply your visibility whenever you choose to do it. Lovely! 10. The Joy Of Facebook And finally, the simplest way to promote a book and get sales is the most traditional way of all. Advertising. Placing ads is not particularly hard or technical or difficult. You simply go into Facebook and click the little down arrow on the right-hand side of the top navigation bar. You’ll get a drop down with ‘Your pages’ at the top. You want to click on ‘Create Ads’ a little further down that list and you’re off. The things you really, really need to know about Facebook advertising are as follows. First, Facebook-world distinguishes between Campaigns, Ad-sets, and Ads. The Campaign might include all the ads you use to promote a book. The Ad-sets are defined by budget and audience. The ads themselves are defined by the text and images that you use. The five great keys of Facebook advertising are: 1. Start with small budgets£10 a day is fine. When you get a sense of what works, add money cautiously to the ad variant(s) that is/are working. And don’t woosh the budget up from £10 to £100, as that can throw sand in Facebook’s ad gears. Go up in 50% increments, even if you’re impatient. Watch what works – and the key metric here is cost per click. How much does it cost you to send a qualified, interested reader through to your Amazon page? 2. Test, test and test againTry varying audiences, headlines and either image or ad text. Once you evolve your best audience, your best headline and so on, you can pile your resources in there. And don’t vary everything all at once. You need to be able to compare ads that are basically identical except for one thing changed. 3. Always include an emotional reason to buyWhat will your book make the reader feel? What mood do you want to convey? You need to make sure that your image, your text and your headlines are all in sync with that mood. 4. Always include ‘social proof’People are – rightly – suspicious of ads, because those ads want to take money off the reader. So include ‘proofs of excellence’ from whatever source you can. I have nice reviews from well-known newspapers and bloggers, so I tend to use those. Others will use things like ‘Over fifty-five-star reviews’ or ‘Readers are saying that …’ Whatever you do, make sure that your ad is conveying the idea that other people like this book. That way, no one is dumb for forking out a few dollars for it. 5. Always include a rational reason to buyPeople know that they can go to Amazon any time they want to pick up books at full price, so an ad that says, in effect, ‘Here’s just one more full-price book on Amazon’ will struggle to achieve real traction. So discount your book. Slap something on the ad that says, ‘Now only £1.99’ (or similar). Your ad has got to make people feel (i) Oooh, I like the sound of that, and (ii) better get in there now, before the price goes back up. And – of course – start modestly. Track results. Stick to budgets. And be quick to pull out or pull back if things don’t go the way you want. It’s easy to spend a ton of money on Facebook – and that’s fine only if you’re making two tons of money via Amazon. So that’s our top 10 marketing tips for authors, self-published or traditionally published. The last two of these tools are extremely potent but do work best if you’ve done all or most of the other things first. Good luck, and happy marketing! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How To Create A Schedule For Writing A Novel Start-To-Finish

How to finish writing a book and schedule your writing time. One of the hardest things about finishing a novel – before you think about ideas, characters, or plotting – is finding time and confidence with all those words to write. Maybe writing a novel seems like a mammoth task, a distant dream. Read on for tips in writing productivity, how to get organised with your writing, and how to finish your book draft. A massive spoiler: you can do it. How To Schedule Your Writing Time (By The Hour) How can you be sure to finish a novel you start? Lots of writers prefer spontaneity to planning out writing times. If vagueness hasn’t been helping, though, setting goals could help make a novel seem less imposing. Goals may adapt as you go on, too (perhaps by the day, if you’ve written something one day that negates what you were planning to do the next day, and so on). This shouldn’t be an inflexible process. Just decide on your writing days per week, how much time you know you’ll roughly have to dedicate to writing on each day. Some days, you may have an hour or two. On others, you know you may just have twenty minutes. Twenty minutes can still count. If you want your novel written, you’ll need determination – and Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope even paid someone to get him up and bring coffee, so he could write in the few hours before he went to work. Even if your designated writing times aren’t every day, they should still be fixed (as much as you can make them). Show up for your writing, keep it habitual. If you’ve been struggling to make time for writing on a more fluid basis, see if actively planning your writing like this makes a difference. How To Set Your Writing Goals (And Achieve Them) Let’s explore this idea of hours more, how you’ll make the time productive, once you’ve scheduled it into your day. Perhaps you’ll allot in your diary (or mobile calendar) an hour of each weekday to writing your novel. List its ideal outcome. Does Chapter 1 need starting? If you’re further on than that, does a scene need revising? Does a ‘filler’ or ‘bridge’ section need getting down on paper, before you go back and figure out how to make it better later? Maybe there’s a weeknight you know you’ll have limited time, so take out just twenty minutes for research, making an outline, editing, or mind-mapping ideas for a scene. Maybe there’s a weekend you know you’ll have lots more time, so set yourself a bigger task. Try giving one ideal outcome to each time you write, to help turn your novel into a manageable project (so if you do more than that, wonderful). Few people can find long stints of time to write as they’d like. The only agreed solution (between the ‘planners’ and the ‘pantsters’) is to carve writing hours into a schedule, then stick to them, making them useful. You can always break up your writing time with something called the Pomodoro technique, too – 25 minutes of work, then 5 minutes to break – rewarding yourself as you go. Or think of a time of day when you feel most creative- such as early afternoon- and schedule some time then. Bring your close family and friends along, too. Your desire to write is a part of you, so having support and understanding from others will help. How To Protect Your Writing Space (And Headspace) Whilst it’s possible to write anywhere, your headspace and surrounding environment can help you keep up a writing discipline. Surround yourself with writerly comforts. Some need black coffee, others need green tea. Some need quiet, others need jazzy playlists. Some need cushions, others need a wrist support. Some need scattered notes, others need filing systems. Make your writing spot a place you’ll literally love coming to. If it’s just not possible to create a makeshift writing space at home, settle yourself where you’ll feel comfortable, even if it’s just in bed with a laptop. (And why not?) Respecting your physical space, the bustle of a café could be less taxing than the bustle of home in terms of productivity. If you need to remove yourself from home distractions for a bit, why not take yourself to a coffee or lunch? Treat yourself to whatever feeds your writer’s brain. Perhaps during a lunch break at work, you’ll be able to take yourself and your laptop to a café somewhere. Also, any space (and anyone’s headspace) nowadays is easy to infiltrate with wi-fi. Protect focus by turning off the wi-fi. (You can always ‘reward’ yourself with the Internet later.) Keep things fun, just keep yourself to task, too. How To Keep Going And Finish Your Novel First, Start Now. There’s never going to be a time when you’re readier to write than the present. Start writing, then keep it habitual, even between projects. Carry a notebook and pen with you. Try jotting ideas on the go. If you’re a first time writer, try checking out this page for extra advice and inspiration! Second, Release Some Pressure. Allow yourself to be carried along, to enjoy and let loose. Allow your first draft to be imperfect because otherwise it can’t get written. You’ll have time to edit once it’s out on a page, but you can’t edit from nothing (editing, by-the-by, we can help with once you’re ready). Third, You Can Do It. If you’ve set yourself a word count of 10,000 words every month (as an example, aiming for between 2,000-3,000 words per weekend), you could have a first working draft in less than a year before all your structural editing and revisions go in. Fourth, Remind Yourself How Much You Want This. If you want to be published, you’ll need to be resilient, as well as kind to yourself. Getting a first draft out is hard, and a first draft is allowed to be flawed before you go back and edit. Oh, And Fifth? Get some damn help! Our editorial services are there for your assistance, as well as an incredible self-editing course that will help you on your way to finishing your novel. Most importantly, hang around in a supportive writing community, crammed with expert resources, that will help you achieve what you want to achieve. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Why Screenwriters Should Write For Television

Overall, writers are paid poorly and there is a vast over-production of supply. So professional novelists, for example, earn an average £11,000 for their year’s work, yet even so agents reject 999 in every 1,000 manuscripts that come their way. Screenwriting, to no surprise, is much better paid. The average professional screenwriter in the UK earns perhaps 5 times that meagre sum. (Check data on minimum rates of pay, average payments are well ahead of those minimums.) And we here see plenty of would-be screenwriters bringing us screenplays that range from the visibly-new-at-this-game to the excellent. So, good, right? A bunch of writers choosing to write for a market that might pay enough to give those people a half-decent living? Only not. I’d say that well over 90% of the screenwriters we see come to us with feature scripts: 100 to 120 minutes long, and clearly designed for the big screen. And that market doesn’t exist. I mean, yes, of course new British films come to the screen all the time, and those things have paid something to their screenwriter. All the same: Those British films will often be adaptations, in which case the task will always be given to writers with a track record of some sort;When the films are original, there will nearly always be a writer, director, producer team who collectively act as ‘auteur’: the creative brains behind the film. Those things are nearly always born within a production company, and when they’re not the scriptwriter is almost certainly known – personally and professionally – to the project’s movers and shakers before any contract is ever written;There are bewilderingly few UK production companies that produce a regular slate of features and endure beyond a summer or two. Most production companies are born to service a project, then vanish once that project is either delivered or killed. The only major British exception to that rule is Working Title – but again, you’d struggle to find Working Title films where the scriptwriter was a genuine newbie. And so what, you may ask. Hollywood exists, doesn’t it? It needs scripts, doesn’t it? And yes, of course – but Hollywood teems with writers, good ones, all of whom are there, are networking, and on the spot. As a newbie writer, without a track record, and based in Hull or Roehampton or Donegal or whichever spot you call home, you have an approximately 0.0001% chance of getting your speculative script made into a Hollywood movie. Quite frankly, if you want your work screened, you should simply forget about writing for Hollywood at an early stage in your career. But this post isn’t suggesting that you should stop writing scripts – the opposite, if anything – it’s a plea for you to write for the massive, lucrative, and hungry market that exists right under your nose. Just count the number of hours of TV drama that unfolds on your screens each week. By all means, deduct American imports, but do remember to count every half hour of every soap, every hour of every cop series, every minute of every drama-special. Those things need writers and the British TV industry is actually short of good ones, in a way that Hollywood emphatically is not. I’m writing this post because I recently had a lovely dinner with a former head of ITV drama and she told me that there is a shortage of good writing talent in the UK. The big networks and big production companies are actually eager to find, recruit and pay new talent. The head of a big and successful UK TV and film agency told me the exact same thing: that almost every successful screenwriter in the UK has their roots firmly in TV. Another film agent told me that, so hard-pressed are they to find good scriptwriting talent, that they often raid the stage industry to find it. In other words, if you are a committed, talented and professional screenwriter, there is a real appetite for your work. That appetite will exist today, tomorrow and in ten years’ time. What’s more, if you build any kind of track record in TV – even if it’s churning out scripts for Holby City – you will start to build the kind of profile and contacts that means those feature projects, that you still really want, will come your way: because you will now be the sort of insider for whom good things happen. Even hearing these arguments, some screenwriters remain persistent. I think that resistance normally tracks back to one of two issues, namely: The film industry is more glamorous. And it is, yes. But it’s more glamorous because it’s less industrial. And you need a proper industry, with cash, expertise and commitment, to support your craft. You can get the glamour down the road, once you have a record that enables you to make the transition. (And, by then, you won’t think the film industry is all that much more glamorous anyway.)Feature films allow a writer more creative scope to be intelligent. But actually, the opposite is true. Those dramas you adore – Westworld, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire and all the rest – are hyper-intelligent, challenging and wonderful dramas because they’re on TV and because they have the space and the time to expand into something wonderful. I know I’ve just named US dramas, but that’s sort of the point. British TV is short of top writing talent and when it finds it in programs like Sherlock, or Doctor Who, the results are fantastic. So. Screenwriters of Britain, write for TV. Think up a TV series or drama that will compel an audience. Your career will start with that script. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

What Is Middle Grade Fiction?

How aware are you of the market you’re writing for? Despite the MG label being reserved for readers aged 8-12, defining Middle Grade literature is tricky. Many young gifted readers will move out of picture books and onto Middle Grade fiction before aged 8. Other readers aged 12 or older still happily peruse Middle Grade books. This is no ‘one size fits all’ age group. (Just as for adults, there’s no ‘correct’ genre, only taste.) Books are all being tested, tried out, at Middle Grade. This outlines some things worth remembering if you’d like to write for the loose label of this age range and find out more about the world of Middle Grade fiction publishing. 1: Read All The Middle Grade Fiction You Can – And Make Sure It’s Relevant Read the popular fiction you know is being read now by this age group. Perhaps you’ve heard of L.M. Montgomery or Lewis Carroll, Anne of Green Gables or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but have you heard of Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers,  or R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder? If not, and you want to write for MG readers, start learning these popular authors writing in the market today. Begin reading their books, especially, the sorts of books you’d like to be writing yourself. Children aren’t hypocrites, and they won’t wait for pace to pick up or give a book a chance if they’re not gripped immediately. Agents, librarians, and Middle grade fiction publishers – the curators and ‘gatekeepers’ of children’s’ fiction – will be thinking along these lines. You’ll need to know what books prospective readers are reading, so understand these titles to understand your audience. Popular books are reflective of tastes. What common themes are there? Which characters seem to appeal, and which common elements do you sense are enjoyed, and which could you emulate yourself? You’ll need your novel similar enough and yet entirely original. You must create a book that fits into the market, but is different enough to pique readers’ curiosities. There are many books published about animals, for instance, like The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, or The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse. There are many books about dragons, like Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, or The Dragons of Kilve Court by Beth Webb, to name a few more. If you are writing a book about dragons, animals, or anything else, how will you differentiate your story and make it authentic, whilst still similarly appealing to all these books readers enjoy? It’s a difficult balance to find, but reading currently popular Middle Grade titles will help. 2: Engage With Complexity Certain tropes – animal stories, fairy stories – will likely hold appeal always and be revisited by authors and publishers time and again. All the same, don’t take this to feel that anything will do, or that writing for children is easier than writing for adults. It isn’t. As Joan Aiken, author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, has said, a good children’s book ‘should not be perfunctory, meaningless, flat.’ Again, reading and developing your awareness of the market is key. Look for richness. Whilst some children will always be more sensitive than others, most can handle the thrills and scares of Middle Grade fiction. Yours aren’t picture book readers, where any darker elements need to be sillier, funnier for very small children to read about. The success of books like Lauren Oliver’s Liesl and Po, or Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book shows that MG readers are often braver than adults may credit. In Liesl and Po, Liesl is held captive in her attic room, whilst The Graveyard Book’s macabre premise is set chiefly in a cemetery and about an orphan raised by ghosts, yet is still moving and punctured with hilarity. You’ll need to (gently) indicate to these children the world isn’t simplistic. Your readers are flexing and growing their imaginations. Jacqueline Wilson is just one writer exploring children’s issues sensitively through the eyes of her characters; like Andy facing parents’ divorce in The Suitcase Kid, Mandy facing bullies in Bad Girls, or Tracey facing foster care in The Story of Tracey Beaker. The voices of her protagonists are authentic, her stories never condescending. ‘If I write about a problem, I’d like to find some solutions,’ Wilson has said of her fiction. She shares hope. There’s no need to worry you’ll be dampening moods by engaging with complexity, either. You might be writing the book someone needs. Children look for literature tying in with their experiences, as well as exploring new experiences outside their own. A book could just help change a life. Alternatively, engage in pure, unbridled imagination to enhance and help build children’s imaginative faculties, like Haroun leaving this world on the back of a mechanical bird in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, or Colin Meloy’s Prue and Curtis discovering Wildwood. Whatever you write, you should always find means to convey that the world is a sprawling, dark and complex place. Children are growing, but they’re tough, sharper than some adults allow, and this audience mustn’t be underestimated. 3: Leave Room For Diversity Whilst there are topics which might not be appropriate for younger children, there’s no need to render books didactic, and many things are writable for younger audiences if they’re written with grace and deftness. Again, to have an idea of what this deftness may look like, you’ll have to read around. Read David Walliams’ The Boy in the Dress, Donna Gephart’s Lily and Dunkin, or The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. Children needn’t grow up with adult prejudices, biases that perhaps otherwise wouldn’t occur to them. Another means of handling issues, of course, is to dress them up in fantasy. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets are the only clear Middle Grade titles of J.K. Rowling’s series. The series, from an early point, has helped increase tolerance in young readers, dealing frequently  with the stigmas attached unfairly to groups (i.e. to Muggles, and to house-elves in the case of Dobby and the Malfoys). These themes are implicit early on, unpacked later; but at the close of the second book, Harry has compassion on Dobby, rescuing him with ‘clothes’. Stories can therefore lay the foundations of empathy and acceptance in the real world – and this is a big thought. You have some responsibility as a writer. Beware overt morals, beware didacticism, and write a story with implicit themes that explores, questions, shines a light and encourages contemplation. (Yes, they’re young. They can handle it.) 4: Remember What Children Are Reading For Know your audience. You can’t write about living in a child’s shoes unless you know or can remember well. If you can’t remember or don’t care, find someone else to write for. Middle Grade readers are reading to explore, to flex imagination, and to discover the world. They’ll be open to new worlds and dynamic characters, to hilarity and thrills, adventure and enchantment. Write to appease these traits and to open minds (as opposed to informing them, unless you’re writing non-fiction, which is very different). If you need more advice on your novel, a manuscript assessment can give you invaluable feedback with insights into commercial perspective driving Middle Grade publishing. It’ll help you harness your own voice in a way that sounds both raw and compelling in Middle Grade fiction. Or for more encouragement and inspiration, take a look at more free advice. Happy writing! Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Screenwriting: Writing Your Characters

Understand Your Characters Creating a screenplay of originality and cinematic power starts with your character. For me, everything in a screenplay is based on one overriding premise which I call emotional pull. How you spell-bind an audience into an irresistible involvement with your characters and keep it entranced by that magic till the end of the film – and beyond – is to arouse, provoke, intrigue, disturb, excite, and exhilarate them. Emotional pull is what powers the story. It’s what forces your characters to do what they do, when they do it and why. And when and why they try to resist it. It determines how you tell the story, the narrative impetus, the dramatic journey, how it moves and breathes, how it rises and falls in tension, how it climaxes, and how it ends. It pulls two ways. It exerts its power on the people of the story, and in turn, it pulls the audience into the story. The subject of Character in screenwriting is, then, huge. Only space here for a few pointers: Compare Scripts Choose a movie that’s moved you. Choose a movie that hasn’t. Get the two scripts here. Scroll to a few pages at random with each script.What’s happening?What are you feeling as you read?What response from the audience do you think the writer has intended here?Try to identify what differences there are between the two scripts.How would you rate each script for drawing you into an emotional connection with the character(s)?Can you identify why the second movie doesn’t move you? How were you responding to the character(s)? Talk To Characters Put your characters on the spot, challenge them with outrageous suggestions, shout at them, get them to speak back to you with urgency and rage. This creates a wonderfully fruitful tension between you. Think of your relationship as something alive and moving and growing. You don’t create unforgettable characters already formed. Allow them to grow organically and they’ll surprise you. As well as a list of age, birth order, appearance, childhood memories, friends, etc., ask your character: What’s your strongest memory?What makes you cry? Or don’t you?What makes you laugh? Who’s your favourite comedian?Do you giggle? What do you fear the most?Has anyone ever betrayed you? How? What do you feel about that experience now?Have you ever betrayed anyone? How? What do you feel about that now?If you could be granted one wish what would it be?If you could undo one thing you did in your life, what would it be?Do you hate anyone?Have you ever been in love? Are you in love now? Or have been once? Have loved and lost?Have/want to have children?Anything that keeps you awake at night?What do you want most in the world?What is preventing from that being fulfilled? Then start thinking about your character’s emotional needs and why they are not being met. Are they aware they have these needs at all? Even when a character does not know what they want, they can be subconsciously motivated to take certain actions to find out. Is there anyone your character knows who perceives the emotional needs although the character doesn’t? How will your audience recognise these needs when the character doesn’t? This last is to do with dramatic irony, one of the most powerful techniques of all dramatic writing. Basically it’s: What does the audience know that the character doesn’t? Dramatic irony makes for a terrific opportunities to weave tension and suspense into the character’s story. Backstory Powers Emotional Plot Backstory has to be mostly about the emotional past life of a character because the story being told in this story now is driven by impulses already set in motion. Don’t take the lazy way – don’t pluck a character ‘peg’ out of the air and hook it onto your character. You know the kind of thing – hard-boiled, cynical cop likes ballet. Write some scenes from your character’s past: in the school playground, as a teenager, etc. Watch how (s)he behaves. Then to make secondary characters help define your main character (they absolutely must), write scenes as though the other characters in the story inhabit the main character’s backstory. Who’s leader? Who’s the shy one, etc.? This will deepen your characterisation immeasurably. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Libel Law For Writers And Authors (What You Need To Know)

What Are Defamation And Libel? Firstly, you might hear the terms used interchangeably: libel and defamation mean effectively the same thing, and they refer to any published material that damages the reputation of an individual or an organisation. You might hear the term \'slander\' thrown about as well, which is defined as ‘defamation by word of mouth’. As well as books, this covers material on the internet as well as radio and television broadcasts – so even drama and fiction can be defamatory if they damage someone’s reputation. You can only publish defamatory material if it comes within one of the recognised legal defences. If it doesn’t, the publication will amount to libel and you may have to pay substantial damages. The Purpose Of Libel Law Libel law protects individuals or organisations from unwarranted, mistaken or untruthful attacks on their reputation. A person is libelled if a publication: Exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt.Causes them to be shunned or avoided.Generally lowers them in the eyes of society.Discredits them in their trade, business or profession. Get Your Facts Right The most important point is to make absolutely sure that what you are printing or writing is true. Do not make claims or accusations that you cannot prove. Even if you think you can do this, be cautious. Proving things in court can be very difficult. And the test of what the words mean is what a reasonable reader is likely to take as their natural and ordinary meaning, in their full context – what you intended as the author or publisher is irrelevant. If you write something that cannot be substantiated, the credibility of your site, organisation or cause may be questioned. It can also land you with an expensive lawsuit and there is no legal aid for libel cases. The Burden Of Proof Lies With The Defendant In libel cases, the burden of proof lies with the defendant (the author or publisher, in writing-example terms) and not the plaintiff. In other words, you must prove that what you write is true. The person you’ve targeted does not have to prove that you’re wrong. This is because libel laws are meant to compensate people for damage done to their reputations -- they\'re not meant to punish someone for lying. Something important to note here, as a corollary: a true statement that damages someone\'s reputation isn\'t libel! It may, however, be an invasion of privacy -- which we\'ll discuss below. Three Tips For Writing Safely Don’t rely on the literal meaning. You cannot solely rely on proving that your statements were literally true if, when they’re taken as a whole, they have an extended, more damaging meaning. Also, for example, if somebody was guilty of fraud once, calling him a fraudster in a way which might suggest he’s still doing the same may well give rise to a libel which can’t be defended. Be especially wary when referring to events in the past. Don’t exaggerate in your claims or language. For example, a company may run a factory which produces certain chemicals. For you to suggest that babies will be born deformed as a result may get you into libel trouble. Innuendo can catch you out. Your comments may not appear particularly defamatory taken at face value, but greater knowledge of a person or situation may make it problematic because of the innuendo. To say Mr Jones doesn’t recycle his waste paper may sound harmless enough. But to people who know that Mr Jones is a Green Party activist, the innuendo of the statement is that he is hypocritical in his politics. Common Mistakes And Assumptions Repeating rumours. It is inadvisable to repeat a defamatory rumour unless you are in a position to prove it’s true. Even if you are contradicting the rumour you should not repeat it. And adding ‘allegedly’ is not enough to get you out of libel difficulties. Quoting others. If you publish defamatory remarks about people or organisations made by other people you will be just as liable to be sued as they are. So if you can’t prove the truth of their statements, don’t repeat them. Drawing unprovable conclusions. It is a common mistake to draw unverifiable conclusions from the basic facts. For example, if Mr Brown is seen going into a hotel room with a call-girl, this does not necessarily mean he enjoyed a ‘night of passion’, and will certainly not prove that he did. Irresponsible adjectives. Be very careful about the adjectives you use. A misplaced word can result in costly action. If you are campaigning about a factory that releases chemicals into the atmosphere, referring to the factory as ‘poisoning the atmosphere’ is inadvisable. Defences Against Libel The law lays down a few ways in which defamatory publications may be defended. If the defences succeed, the publisher wins. But if they don’t succeed, the publisher loses: the complainant will have been libelled and will therefore be entitled to be paid damages and their legal costs. The defences are listed below. First, justification. The most usual defence against libel is to prove that the information published is true. But this can be a dangerous route because an unsuccessful plea could increase the damages against you because you will have increased the harm to the complainant. And remember, you must be able to deal with every libellous possibility, such as inference and innuendo. If your statement implies something greater, it is not enough to prove that the statement is just literally true. Merely asserting something will not be sufficient to prove that it’s true – you will need witnesses and documents to back up assertions (whether they’re yours or someone you’re quoting). Second, fair comment. This covers content, mainly opinion, that cannot by its very nature be true or false. To be properly defensible, these comments must be: based on fact, made in good faith, and published without malice. Here\'s a great example (albeit an older one): in 2001, Daily Mail lost a libel action brought by the former Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar over the remark that he was a “miser” when he ran the club because he didn’t give his manager enough money to buy top class players. The jury were not sufficiently persuaded that there was any factual basis for making this comment. They didn’t deem it fair comment. He was awarded £100,000. Last, privilege. Privilege is the defence where the law recognises that individuals should be free to speak their minds (and others to report what they say) without fear of being sued even if they get their facts wrong. It allows people to speak freely in court proceedings and debates in government, and allows for such proceedings to be reported, so long as the reports are both fair and accurate. The Right To Privacy Writers tend to think a lot about libel issues, but they would be well to consider privacy as well. As we mentioned earlier, you might write something that\'s factually true and thus not subject to a libel suit... but it might invade someone\'s privacy. Human rights law give each of us a right of privacy, so even if you are not saying anything defamatory about me, you might nevertheless reveal enough about my personal life that I’d feel my privacy had been invaded. Under such circumstances, I would in theory have an actionable claim against you. And, as it happens, we at Jericho Writers have never seen a book that was basically publishable but which fell down on libel issues. On the other hand, we have seen examples of a book that was publishable -- except for privacy issues. The case I particularly remember was a really excellent and shocking memoir by a British-Asian woman who had been forced into an arranged marriage and had been very badly treated by both husband and mother-in-law. The husband had in fact been charged with assault by a court, and convicted, so libel issues weren’t in play. The substance of the book’s allegations had been tested in court and upheld. The text was certainly defamatory, but it was most demonstrably true. So the thing that broke the book – we got an agent for the author, but not a publisher – was the mother-in-law’s right to privacy. This awful woman, who had been highly complicit in her son’s abusive behaviour, nevertheless had a right to privacy that the courts might have been willing to uphold. So all the publishers contacted by the agent refused the book. A Note On The Deceased It\'s important to note that a person\'s right to privacy expires when they expire. A deceased person cannot be libeled, nor can their descendents/estate sue for defamation on the deceased\'s behalf. However, individuals (be they descendents or no) can have grounds for a suit if they believe that their reputations have been marred by the statement as well. Satire And Parody You might be wondering about your brilliant satire of the American political system, in which you\'ve cleverly changed names and exaggerated details but where your fictional President Ronald Dump retains a certain je ne sais quoi that ensures no modern reader will be confused about who you\'re satirizing. You\'re blurring the lines between truth and fiction, but in that blurring lies your best defense. With a libel case, the facts at hand are largely rooted in the plaintiff arguing as though you\'ve said something untrue about them that has damaged their standing in the world -- but if the \'something\' you\'ve written is so obviously untrue, so completely exaggerated, it\'s very easy to have the case dismissed by pointing out that what you\'ve written is fiction, a made-up story commenting on present actions, as opposed to attempting to portray them in a realistic light. Libel & Privacy Law In The Real World Writers anxious about libel / privacy law can, in most cases, relax: It’s exceptionally rare for a novelist to be sued for libel. As long as you are not obviously writing a roman a clef, your single strongest defence to any claim will just be to point to the way the book is categorised: “This is fiction, dummy.”Let’s say you are writing and self-publishing a memoir, that isn’t vastly defamatory of anyone and isn’t very privacy invasive either. You do those real life people the courtesy of changing names and other details, so it’s not obvious who you are talking about. Let’s say you commission a print-run of 500 copies and sell a few e-books as well. Is it theoretically possible that you face a lawsuit for the issues talked about in this post? Yes. Is it practically likely? No. It will be, for most authors, a vanishingly small possibility.And if you are writing anything else non-fictiony, very much the same applies, at least 99 point something per cent of the time. Yes, the conventional advice is “take legal advice”, but that advice will cost a minimum of $5,000 / £3,000 if you’re going to a properly experienced lawyer. So for most writers, the actual practical advice will be: Proceed thoughtfully and with caution.Change names and other details. Make your characters actually different from the real world subjects.Think about privacy as well as libel.Be realistic. If you are making serious comments about public people and your work is likely to have significant readership / impact, then you can’t wing it. In all other cases, then just take good care and you should be fine. For what it’s worth, I have written fiction and non-fiction and only once have my paths crossed with a libel lawyer (paid for by the publisher, not me.) I was working with a prominent hedge fund manager and his text made some quite serious allegations about (for example) the non-tax-paying habits of GE, the huge American manufacturer. (The text made quite a few allegations about quite a few companies and people; that libel lawyer had plenty to get his teeth into.) The lawyer queried one particular point in relation to GE and said it was essential that we contact GE for comment. So we did. We sent the relevant bit of text to the head of Media Relations and asked for comment. He replied – quickly and with some heat – that the allegation was completely untrue and he rejected it completely. We responded by asking why, in that case, his company’s own annual report, in some deeply buried footnote, confirmed precisely the point we were making. He withdrew his rejection (rather gracelessly) and it was pretty clear that the big bad wolf of GE wasn’t going to sue us, or would lose if it did. The real point of all this is that you need to use your own real-world wisdom to make these calls, not just a reading of the law. If your book is going to sell enough copies to raise a real threat of libel / privacy claims, then you’ll almost certainly be working with a publisher resourced to deal with the issue. If your book is more of a private printing with a limited circulation, it’s conceivable but certainly not probable that any suit will come your way. Do the basics, and you should be fine. Disclaimer We’re not lawyers. We haven’t read your book. We don’t know your situation. And pretty obviously, if you face some real legal issues, you need to get help from specialists who do know your situation. A blog post is not the same as a legal advisor. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

How to Write a Script for a Movie: Screenwriting Tips

How to Write a Script for a Movie There is no more satisfying (or possibly more lucrative) form of writing than screenwriting. It’s one of the most technical areas; scriptwriting format is one of the hardest to get right. You need a powerful story, but using the grammar of the screen. You have to write with pictures, not words. Nearly all screenwriters should look up, at least, a foundation course in screenwriting to learn proper script structure and to get to know all the necessary parts of a script. Basics Of Screenwriting In the meantime, though, there are some important (often neglected) rules worth following, which will help you get to grips with what a movie script looks like. 1. Read Scripts It’s not enough to watch movies, you need to read them. Get scripts and read them page by page. Then watch the movie. Then read the script again. This is the way you will grasp the rhythm and feel of a script. You can download hundreds of scripts for free online. 2. Read Widely You needn’t restrict yourself to newer scripts or scripts you love (though do read what inspires). Just remember to read broadly. Read the scripts with accolades, letting your knowledge and versatility expand with each you read. 3. Learn How To Format Film scripts need to be written in the right format, so learn this. There are software packages helping with formatting, giving useful story tools, Celtx being one. Fewer people now need MovieMagic or FinalDraft. Learn more on the importance of formatting. The Next Stages Of Screenwriting You also need to: 1. Understand Structure This is the heart of scriptwriting. Read books from writers like Robert McKee or John Truby. Then absorb story structure into your film writing. 2. Understand The Scene Nearly all new screenwriters use too many words. Let your looks, scenes, silences do the talking, too. Read more tips on film scenes. 3. Understand Dialogue Dialogue is best when it’s fractured and oblique. If dialogue sounds too formal or fluent, your words are likely to sound stilted and awkward on screen. Read more tips on film dialogue. 4. Understand Character Novelists can spend 100,000 words exploring a character. You have about a quarter of that amount with which to write a movie, nut novelists don’t have actors. You do. You need to provide a framework that actors fill out, so stick to your job. Use action lines as cue in screenwriting. Read more tips on characters in films. 5. Thinking With Pictures Although camera angles are the director’s province, you need to see the movie you’re writing, and your script can do a huge amount to nudge a professional reader into sharing your vision. If you do this well, you may not just have a good script. You could have a great one. Selling Your Film Script Writing a good script is hard, but selling it is harder. Unknown novelists with no prior training are picked up every day by literary agents, and many go on to be successfully published. The film industry does tend to draw new screenwriters in from conventional routes: film schools, TV soaps, production company insiders, actors, and the professional theatre. It doesn’t mean securing an agent is impossible if this doesn’t apply to you – and if your script is strong enough, we’ll help it get read by a film agent anxious to find new talent. Meanwhile, peruse our guide to selling a film script and learn more about our script feedback. Good luck – and we’re rooting for you. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community.

Is There A Market for Poetry Writing?

The first thing to ask about the poetry market: does it exist? Few make money from poetry. Seamus Heaney may have done, but he had a Nobel Prize. There is also, of course, the rise of the Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur, Lang Leav, Atticus, and so on. Here’s what you need to know. Selling Beauty Poetry remains a niche market. Even large bookshops will typically just sell acknowledged classics, academic anthologies, and a few books by today’s most famous poets. Few poets ever reach this level. More important for beginning writers are the specialist poetry magazines and poetry presses, the heart of the poetry scene. A collection of poetry might well only sell a few hundred copies. Few will make a profit. Poets themselves seldom make any money from their work. People who buy these books are poetry aficionados and will buy these books from ads in poetry magazines, from poetry festivals, etc. Getting Published It may be easier to walk across hot coals than to become a published poet. It’s fine to write poetry for yourself and friends, but suppose you really want to get published. What then? Agents rarely accept poetry submissions, and big publishing houses are interested in making money. Your ultimate aim should really be to interest the smaller poetry presses. Even if you aspired to be an ‘Instapoet’, it really is better to know if your poetry resonates with readers at the most critical levels, before you go and post online. In nearly all cases, these presses will only pick up a new poet if they have a track record of publication in the poetry magazines. As a rule, you should aim to have had 6-8 individual poems published in magazines before it makes sense to try and publish a collection. So start submitting good quality work as soon as you can. Poetry Magazines Some of our favourite magazines are The Rialto, The North, New Writer, Ambit, and Anon – but there are zillions of others. For a good place to browse go to Poetry Library, or The Poetry Kit. All magazines have their own submissions procedures, but as a rule, you should send out no more than half a dozen poems with a stamped addressed envelope for a response. It’s competitive getting accepted, so prepare for rejections before you get anywhere, and don’t expect speed either. Three months to get a response is normal. If and when you get 6-8 poems accepted by these, then is the time to start approaching publishers. Self-Publishing There is one other option, which is self-publication. This isn’t a fast-track way to get well-known, to make money, to get your work into bookshops, or anything else. It could lead to more, but it is a way to get bound copies of your work for you to distribute (or sell) to families and friends, at least. The easiest route for most poets is simply to go to your local printer. Get quotes for printing and binding copies of your work, and go with the best. This won’t be too expensive, and you won’t be ripped off. Beware of any ‘publisher’ advertising online for your work. Real publishers don’t solicit work. Anyone who wants you to pay to publish your work will print the work, but they will not publish it in any normal sense. Your work will not appear in bookshops. You will not make money from it. And there are lots of bandits out there. (You have been warned.) Who knows, though? Rupi Kaur self-published her poetry. Now Milk and Honey is published by Andrews McNeel. Good luck. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

Profanity In Writing – When Is It OK To Swear In Writing? (The F-Bomb: A User’s Guide)

A short guide to obscenity, profanity, cussing, and creative swearing in the novel. In this post, we discuss swearing and bad language when it comes to writing fiction. (And, uh, trigger warning, guys: this post is going to use some naughty fucking language, so if that’s a problem for you, you may want to hasten away to the unthreatening pastures of Cozy Mystery or Amish Romance. Right here, on this post, we’re gonna swear like a GI with Tourettes.) Is that fucking OK with you? It is? Cool. So the questions we’re going to face are: Is it OK to swear?How much do novelists (in a fairly, though not extremely, gritty genre) generally swear?And are there any rules which govern the scale or amount of your swearing? And I should fess up. I’m not super-potty mouthed myself, but I’m perfectly comfortable with using obscenity and profanity in general fiction. This novel of mine, for example, contains 125,000 words, of which no fewer than 78 are ‘fuck’ or its variants. First Lesson: Swearing Is Ok Which suggests that the first lesson of this short post is a simple one: it’s okay to use the word ‘fuck’ for effect, depending on genre. And to be clear: mine is a crime novel. Its heroine (and first person narrator), Fi, is gritty and direct in her speech. For me and my story, not to use the word ‘fuck’ would be to betray both character and story. Because Fi often swears, I have to. There’s no other way to do it. In short, the presence of at least some swearing in the story is as important to the atmosphere and mood as the presence of the Welsh hills themselves. Bad language doesn’t have to be lazy writing: it’s often essential. Be True To Your Genre Swearing in itself doesn’t matter. All that matters are your story and your characters. If some obscenity is right for those things, then it’s right to use it. For example: War fiction (even, quite possibly, historical war fiction) is probably not going to come over as very realistic, unless there’s some bad language. That doesn’t mean your characters should swear as much as real soldiers in actual combat: your job, always, is to create the semblance of reality; your adherence to actual reality is much less important.For the same kind of reason, contemporary grit-lit, all sink estates and drug dealers, will sound wrong if characters don’t swear fairly copiously. A boozy, relaxed contemporary love story won’t probably have copious swearing, but it too is unlikely to want to avoid it completely. More broadly, swearing is exciting because it’s taboo-breaking: the amygdala in the brain actually responds differently to swearwords than it does to any other type of language. In effect, obscenity gives the writer a very specific colour that nothing else quite does. Possibly, your canvas doesn’t need that colour – Jugular Crimson, let’s call it – but if it does, or might, there’s no real substitute. And because swearing is taboo-breaking, it also introduces an edge of force, of toughness that otherwise only violence, or the threat of violence, quite can. My own crime novels, for example, do feel quite dark. That is: they speak of a world where violence is possible and where its consequences actually matter. (No Colonel White bumped off with a candlestick, and no one quite caring about his death, except that it creates a jolly good mystery.) But although my novels carry that edge of force, of possible violence, they aren’t actually especially violent at all. There’s not a lot of on-screen violence. Very few gun-fights, punch-ups, car chases and the rest. But my violence, when it comes, is, I hope, well-chosen, and a spatter of bad language in the book maintains a sense of edge, of pressure. At the same time, if my story were something quite else – a light romance set around a pensioners’ knitting circle – excessive use of foul language would be quite inappropriate. Indeed, if a mild mannered knitting grandee were brought to the point where she said something like, “Get out, damn it, get out!”, it might well be that in the context of that novel that ‘damn it’ indicated some very strong emotional turbulence. It might, in other words, work exactly the same way as “Go fuck yourself” in a less genteel novel. What To Do About Reader Emails I should say as well that any vaguely sweary author with half-decent sales will get emails from (mostly American) readers complaining about the use of the f-bomb. If you make much use of blasphemy, you’ll get similar comments. And, well, I don’t disrespect those readers or their comments. They’re not simply entitled to their views. At a guess, I’d say those readers are more likely to mow their lawns, be helpful to strangers, pay their taxes, and in countless other ways be upstanding members of society. But as an author, I think you just have to accept that you can’t please all the people all the time. You’ll kill your novel if you even try. So when I get negative reviews to the effect that “this guy can write, but it’s all a bit too dark / sweary / graphic for me”, then I just think fine. I’m just not writing the kind of book that reader was ever going to like. As long as I please “my” core readers, I ought to be happy. Swearwords On The Page Are Stronger Than Swearwords In Life Having said that, you also do need to bear in mind that swearwords sound fiercer on the page than they do in life. Soldiers may use swearwords freely. (One possibly apocryphal tale from WW2 has a Scots driver analyse his broken car with the fine sentence, ‘the focking focker’s focking focked.’) But to use them on the page as freely as soldiers do in real life – that’s probably excessive. You are imitating the effect of reality, not reproducing it. For the same reason, repetition grates on the ear, so even if you want a scene full of strong expletives, it’s probably worth tossing in some variety, or at least making sure that any repetition looks chosen, not inadvertent. Use The Expressive Power Of Creative Swearing It’s a cliché among the sort of people who don’t like bad language that the use of expletives arises from a lack of imagination. Well, perhaps, in some contexts. But in others, even an expletive can be a writerly word so long as it’s deft, well-chosen. Here’s a tiny snippet from my third Fiona Griffiths novel. (And it’s naughty, but I like it.) I have a brief interview with the duty solicitor. She seems like a nice woman – Barbara, mumsy, keen to help. I tell her to fuck off. Then sit without speaking for ten minutes. Then we’re done. For my money at least, that instance of the word ‘fuck’ is precise, neat and well-chosen. The  description of Barbara – mumsy, nice, keen to help – gets the reader thinking along one path. (Roughly, “Oh, Fi is going to hit it off with this nice duty-solicitor”). Then, boom, that swear word blows everything up. It trashes that particular train of thought. It’s particularly shocking here because Fi is deliberately being rude to someone who is actually nice and helpful. And that whole 180 degree pivot occurs in the space of a single word. The abrupt ending of our hopes for Barbara mirrors precisely what has happened in the interview room itself. For those (few) prudes who don’t like swearing, I have to ask: is there anything that could have completed that pivot more emphatically and more neatly? I want to say, no. In contexts like that, I don’t think you can say that swearing is lazy writing. I think it can be good, efficient, well-chosen writing. When Swearing Is Just Lazy There are examples, however, when swearing is just lazy. Take this snippet for example (from Old Habits): Ghost malls are even sadder than living people malls, even though malls of the living are already pretty damned sad places to be. And let me get this out of the way right now, before we go any farther; I’m dead, okay? I’m fucking dead. (My italics) The italicised bits – a damned, a fucking – are used just as intensifiers. A substitute for the word ‘very’. So here’s a plea from me: Harry’s Plea~~~ Please don’t use swearwords as simple intensifiers ~~~ Swearwords are beautiful and special things because: They are shocking – taboo-breakingThey are like a small form of linguistic violenceThey can mark character traits or moods or turning pointsThey can be used for comic effect If all your characters use swearwords in all moods, elevated or not, then you’ve basically drained the Swearword Proper of all function. You do just have another way to say “very” . . . and we’ve got a million alternatives for that already. Did you know? Jericho Writers is a club for writers. That is: we are a club for people like you. We’d love it if you chose to join us. Membership is low cost and it’s cancel-any-time, so you can just try it and see. You can learn lots more about what we do and why you might love us right here. And, you know, it’s just one click to find out more. One tiny little click. How Much Swearing Is Normal? I mentioned that my book of the moment contains about 70 uses of the word fuck (and its derivatives: fucked, fucking, and so forth.) Is that a lot? Or a little? I didn’t know, so I decided to compare notes with some crime writer buddies of mine. To that end, I created a brand new tool, which I immediately christened the Fuckety Index. You calculate your personal Fuckety Score as follows: The Fuckety Index(A) Find the number of times you use the word “fuck” in your novel(B) Take your total novel word count, and divide by 1000 (so a 80,000 word would score 80)(C) Your Fuckety Score = A divided by B Users notes:The easiest way to count your “fuck”s is to Find the word fuck and replace with the word fuck. Then hit Replace All. You’re making no actual changes to your novel, because you’re just replacing one word with the same thing, but you are also picking up all those fuckeds, and fuckings, etc. If you are using MS Word, you’ll get a message like “34 changes made” and that number is the one you need for (A) above. Fuckety Score of 0 You are writing Amish Romance. Or Cozy Mystery. I don’t know why you’re reading this article. Fuckety Score of 0.1 to 0.5 Your book is unsweary. Any mainstream fiction can have a Fuckety Score in this range and not be thought of as especially sweary. Fuckety Score of 0.5 to 1.0 This is pretty normal for any gritty genre, such as crime. I’m about average, in fact, for my genre. Fuckety Score of 1.0 to 2.0 Yep, you’re pretty fucking sweary, even if you are writing in a reasonably gritty genre. Fuckety score of more than 2.0 I’m scared of you. You are very sweary and are probably dangerous. So,um, I think your writing is great, yeah? Not too much swearing. No, no. Not at all. ** Backs gingerly away ** When Not To Swear If you’re writing for young children, then bad language is just not okay. When it comes to writing for Young Adults, swearing is allowed, so long as the themes of your novel demand it and you’re writing for the more mature YA audience (that is, one likely to be making its own book selections). US audiences too tend to be more prudish than British ones: many is the time I’ve been reproved by American readers for my use of the ‘f-bomb’. I’ve never yet had a British reader complain. On more general fiction, you just need to feel your way for yourself. If you’re writing Jane Austen era romance, you might wish to avoid obscenity. On the other hand, the probability is that past ages swore much more than we do, and a writer like Antonia Hodgson deals with the Georgian period in a very different way from Jane Austen. But it’s your call. Happy swearing writing. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 

30 Screenplays For Every Screenwriter To Read (Plus 20 Of Our Favourites)

Here’s a list of essential screenplays for every serious screenwriter to read – screenplays, not films. If you are a budding screenwriter, you can’t just watch the film and learn screenwriting from it. You must read the screenplay itself.  Watch the film, but the screenplay is the thing. Read the rhythms. See scripts unfolding.  I’ve noted a few places where you can get movie scripts online, but the web is a rich resource. You can find most things if you poke around.  Hopefully, these scripts will give you a sense of how to format your screenplay, write dialogue, create captivating characters, and more. Here’s the list.  30 Must-Read Screenplays 1. Some Like It Hot A deft blend of comedy and drama. Given there are two romances which matter, plus whether our two ‘ladies’ are going to get executed by the Mob, there’s a lot of plot to deal with and it’s done with wonderful grace and wit. A great film. (Read the script.) 2. Casablanca Is this as good as everyone says it is? Casablanca is here because it tops most lists, though for me, the film is in the acting. The script itself plays a supporting role. (Read the script.) 3. Psycho  A landmark in film-making and scriptwriting. To kill the heroine midway is a terrifically bold and (still) shocking decision, yet one that does not derail the film. If you tried the same in a novel, you’d kill the novel. Here, it works. (Read the script.) 4. Chinatown Chinatown is magnificent, packing a ceaselessly interesting plot whilst combining two stories of real human weight (a corruption tale, an incest one). Decades after its making, the film packs emotional clout. Though Chinatown is often held up as a perfect example of the three-act drama, I do question that. Isn’t it, in fact, a film that brings plot twists steadily and unexpectedly throughout the film? Read the script and see what you think. (Read the script.) 5. The Godfather  A film whose power comes from the emotional force of seeing a decent man corrupted by his family and his circumstances. The gangstery stuff is all great, but the central story is one of emotional destruction, handled so unflinchingly. Its script details the Italian-American mafia life in such rich texture, taking the film beyond its (stunning) visuals. (Read the script.) 6. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid  I love the sunshine in this film, the wit, the friendship, the lightness of touch. It’s a film willing to linger in places where plot isn’t being driven forward – a risky ploy in movie-making, but one that, in this instance, goes to create a film that is greater than a mere bank-heist Western. (Read the script.) 7. Bringing Up Baby Mismatched lovers falling in love despite apparent unsuitability has never been better handled. Yes, the acting is spot on, but forget about that. The script has a wonderfully light touch, one that’s happy to get ever crazier as the long night draws on. And that final dinosaur scene? Lovely. (Read the script.) 8. American Beauty A poignant film that starts with an astonishing script. Each character is beautifully formed, all with a convincing personality – before the actor comes to fill it – and each must deal with an aspect of appearances complimenting Lester’s own journey. That’s far too rare in movie scripts, but American Beauty shows how it can be done. Plus, on top of that, the drama is wonderful, its twists unexpected. (Read the script.) 9. Memento Memento is told in reverse chronological order, but this wasn’t just Christopher Nolan trying to be smart. Its structure is vital not just to audiences stepping into the shoes of Leonard (an amnesiac), but to unveiling the crux of the tale, revealing the story just wasn’t what we thought it was. (Read the script.) 10. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind This film serves as a philosophical exploration of identity and love. It’s moving, thought-provoking cinema, delivering fully on entertainment as well. (Read the script.) 11. When Harry Met Sally  When two graduates have a chance encounter it results in a short-term friendship. But they are forced to deal with their feelings for one another when they meet again five years later. The witty dialogue and excellent characterisation are instantly apparent in both the film and the screenplay. (Read the script.) 12. To Kill a Mockingbird  This 1962 classic is centred around Atticus Finch, a Depression era lawyer, who sets out to defend a black man, who is accused of raping a white woman. It\'s expectedly harrowing and beautifully done. The final court scene is a particular standout. (Read the script.) 13. Carol A woman who works at a department store encounters the beautiful Carol who\'s shopping for a Christmas gift for her daughter. Things take an unexpected turn when they develop feelings for one another. This film excels at drawing you into the protagonists\' worlds. (Read the script.) 14. Pulp Fiction  In this crime drama, a group of criminals and misfits are brought together in the underworld after a series of incidents. This is a much beloved classic which will entertain you as much as it will teach you about film. (Read the script.) 15. Rear Window  This 1954 film centres around a photographer who is stuck in his apartment with a broken leg. Bored, he begins to surreptitiously spy on his neighbours and, after lots of monotony, comes across something shocking. This is the screenplay to examine if you want some guidance on pacing and building suspense. (Read the script.) 16. Gone Girl The screenplay for this psychological thriller was written by the author of the book it\'s based on and it shows. The characterisation is excellent and the pacing is perfectly executed as you are drawn into the worlds and minds of a husband-and-wife pair of unreliable narrators. (Read the script.) 17. The Shawshank Redemption  A man who receives a life sentence in prison becomes a rather unconventional prisoner, all while claiming his innocence in the murders of his wife and her lover. This film has a pretty even focus on character development and plot, making it both engaging and thought-provoking. A classic which became more popular in the years after its release than when it was initially released. (Read the script.) 18. Little Miss Sunshine When their young daughter wants to participate in a beauty pageant, a family travels across the country in the hopes of making her dream come true. This film goes way beyond its premise, and tells a coming-of-age tale while also navigating family dynamics and mental illness. Sharp, funny, and brutally honest, this is a must-read (and see). (Read the script.) 19. Get Out While we all love familiar tropes and happy endings, nothing beats a good plot twist. In this horror/thriller, it\'s probably one you won\'t see coming. Or, at least, you won\'t expect every detail of it. The acting, writing, and directing all align here to create a film and screenplay which instantly captivate. (Read the script.) 20. Room After years of being held captive for seven years by a kidnapper, a young woman and her son strive for freedom. Another film based on a book (with the screenplay written by the author), the majority of this tale is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, a unique viewing point which enables the reader/viewer to comprehend things that the narrator cannot. This is as simultaneously heart wrenching and endearing on the page as it is on the screen. (Read the script.) And to complete the top thirty, hats off to these, the next 10 screenplays to read (and watch):  Annie Hall The Sting Apocalypse Now The Usual Suspects Shakespeare in Love The Best Years of Our Lives LA Confidential Raging Bull The Life of Brian 12 Angry Men  20 Of Our Favourite Screenplays If you\'re looking for more screenplays to tear through, here are 20 more of our favourites: The French Connection Little Women (2019)The Manchurian Candidate Citizen KaneBlade Runner High Noon La La Land Thelma and LouiseDead Poet\'s SocietyPan\'s LabyrinthThe Silence of the LambsGravityMiseryAmerican HustleBridesmaidsSingin\' in the RainLadybirdThe Social Network12 Years a SlaveThe Breakfast Club These scripts contain a wide range of themes and topics, and it might be helpful initially to read scripts from the genre you want to write/are writing in. But whether you\'re a screenwriter who writes comedies, or one who favours thrillers, every one of these screenplays will help you learn and grow as a writer. Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer’s community. 
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