I already touched on this topic in Blog 37: On The Importance Of Words, but I wanted to write more about the language and terminology that we use.
As a writer getting the language and terminology right for your characters, setting, plot and storyline is important. The writers who nail this often have the best-selling novels, whilst the writers who don’t, often trail behind. Now that’s not to say that every best-selling novel is a good book and every other book is bad, but you can definitely tell when a book is more likely to be good, based on the language and terminology that the author uses.
Language and terminology can be used to add colour and complexity to your characters without compromising on your word count. Sticking to stereotypes for now, the evilness of your antagonists can be increased with the language and terminology that they use. If their language is mean, cold, and/or condescending, it is likely that the reader will ‘dislike’ these characters. Similarly, the goodness of your protagonists can be amplified by the honesty, good-will and politeness that may shine through in how they speak and interact with other characters. Not only this, but the language and terminology used by characters when they talk about other characters, can be used to paint pictures and nudge the reader’s opinions of those other characters. This happens all the time in real life, you see it in advertising, music, the media, and pretty much every single thing that is written, everyone has an opinion and their own lives, and naturally this will come through in their work, their mannerisms and what they say, even if they’re not aware of it. read more
When I was in high school and studying English Literature, we read books like ‘Of Mice And Men’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’. One day that I remember clearly, a student asked the English teacher why we were bothering to study the sentences in such detail. This student was sure that writers would not and did not plan every single sentence they wrote. They thought that if a writer chose to write that the curtains were blue then they simply were blue and that it was not a subtle attempt at drawing out feelings of sadness from the reader. My teacher didn’t have a reply at the time, but after writing a book, reading hundreds of other books and many years later, I do have a reply. read more
Outlet Publishing and their team have kindly asked me to help judge their short story competition, and even though I haven’t written a short story myself, yet, and I’m certainly no expert. I am an avid reader and I have been through the writing and publication process, so I do feel in my humble opinion that I have a basic understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Over the past two months I have read dozens of entries written by young, hopeful candidates. Some have been very good, others not so, but as the entries have been piling up around me I have noticed similarities and reoccurring patterns. The same mistakes have been cropping up again and again, and there appears to be a preference towards particular genres and themes. The latter is neither strictly bad nor good, but the former is most definitely bad. With this in mind, I am going to share with you some insight into what I feel short story competition judges are looking for, and hopefully help you and your short stories shoot to the top of the winning pile.
Tip Number 1: Read The Rules.
This may seem obvious, but make sure you read the competition’s specifications, rules and guidelines. I don’t know if it was because candidates couldn’t be bothered to read the rules or if they simply misread them, but a couple of the short story submissions I have recently received didn’t sit within the required word count. Judges may be able to forgive a word count that falls 10% above or below the maximum and minimum requirement, but if your story is more than 10% above or below then don’t submit it. Also, some competitions state a specific age range or country of residence, so make sure you read everything carefully before submitting your work.
Tip Number 2: Quality Over Quantity. read more
Q1) Briefly, how would you describe ‘In the Depths of Darkness’ to someone who hasn’t read any of your previous work?
In the Depths of Darkness follows a group of outcasts blackmailed into joining the oppressive Earth Alliance army, only to discover they’re the test subjects for an advanced neural Chip that will make them into super soldiers. If they survive. But once the rest of the galaxy finds out they have the Chip, they are forced to go on the run and find somewhere—anywhere—safe.
It’s a YA Star Wars meets Firefly with some Ender’s Game thrown in.
Q2) How long did it take for you to finish and publish ‘In the Depths of Darkness’?
This was my most ambitious project to date. Book one took me about six months to write and do my edits on. Then another 2-3 months to have readers/editors take a look and input their edits. I was actually done with it near the middle of 2016, but I held off to release it so I could get the second one started. I haven’t released Book 2 yet, but it’s done, and I have just a little editing left before letting other people look at it. read more
Have you ever read a book where a character does or says something that seems to be completely bizarre? I don’t mean a plot-twist, I mean when a character literally does not follow ‘normal human behaviour’ causing the story to lose its believability and you, as the reader, end up questioning what planet the author was living on when they wrote their book? Unfortunately this seems to happen from time to time and it can cause readers to lose interest in, or give up on, a book entirely.
As much as every person is unique and reacts differently to different situations, and of course you will always have the anomalies (or rather the few that don’t behave like the majority), sometimes characters react in ways that you just cannot fathom, and when this happens your brain will point out everything that it views as flaws. Sometimes this is down to the individual reader but often it is the author’s fault, whether it be poor writing, or poor structural editing, or a seemingly lack of understanding in basic human reactions. Sometimes authors write sentences, paragraphs and even chapters that your brain just cannot get on board with. Before I go further, it is important to point out here that not everyone will enjoy or understand a particular book, everyone has different tastes, and even the famous authors receive bad reviews. read more
I’ve scoured Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and the internet for groups, pages, blogs, channels and websites specifically aimed at authors, writers and readers. I’ve picked out a few and listed them below to help you get started, but there are plenty more out there to choose from…
Facebook pages & groups for Authors/Writers
BooksGoSocial Author’s Group
BooksGoSocial Book Review Club
The Writer’s Circle
Writers Write read more
Writing is hard. Writing a story with nail-biting suspense and epic plot twists is even harder. How can you give your reader the unexpected, make it believable, and keep them hanging onto every word? I have to talk about a particular author here, one who until recently, I knew nothing about.
Let me introduce you to Ryan Casey, author of Dead Days. He writes magnificent, post-apocalyptic horrors and thrillers. Now I know this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but from a literary viewpoint, Ryan Casey’s books are gold. I rarely come across books that make me feel so uncomfortable, cringe, gobsmacked, heartbroken and keep me rooted to the spot. I read both Season One and Two within a couple of days, the latter within four hours.
How did he keep me hooked? read more
Becoming an author is not an easy decision to make. New writers have to convince an agent or publisher to take them on, write a novel that will appeal to readers, learn about the industry, improve their writing skills, and in most cases balance a job and family commitments too. At times it feels like trying to climb a literary equivalent of Mount Everest. It’s not easy, and not everyone is understanding. Your ideas will be rejected, probably by hundreds of publishing houses before one actually takes you on. Your family and friends may also reject the idea of you being a writer. I’ve heard many phrases such as, ‘A writer? that’s not going to earn you money,’ or ‘When are you going to find a real job?’ or ‘How about you take a dentistry course instead?’ and my favorite, ‘When’s your book going to be ready?’ Do any of these sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, everyone goes through this, myself included.
The truth is, being a writer means that you are deciding to be self-employed, an authorpreneur so to speak. The majority of people would never consider being self-employed, it scares them and to be totally honest it is scary. Most people read more