My Writing:, Other Projects, Resources

Short Story Tips

I’m experiencing serious problems with two short stories I’m writing. One is for younger readers, 9 to 12 year olds, and the other is for readers in their late teens. The problem is the same in each story, which tells me something. The problem is actually me, or the way I write — not the story itself.

This afternoon I set about researching tips for writing short stories in the hope that the problem can be fixed. Lots of the information I’ve read today is common sense and most of it I’ve read before. Having said that, I feel a writer can forget the basics when attempting to put together a strong story. And it’s also possible to get caught up in what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Nothing really helped me until I came upon Short Story Writing Tips by Short Story Group. There are five tips, but I will only quote one of them:

Have a clear theme. What is the story about? That doesn’t mean what is the plot line, the sequence of events or the character’s actions, it means what is the underlying message or statement behind the words. Get this right and your story will have more resonance in the minds of your readers.

This simple paragraph helped me to realise that the themes of my two stories have been lost in the telling. The story is fine, the author (that’s me) has lost sight of the theme. That’s the problem! That’s why I can’t fix them!

Now, armed with this knowledge I’ll be able to revise my stories again and this time, hopefully, get them back on track.

Indie Publishing, My Writing:, Personal, Resources, Writing:

Indie Author Community Board

I must be a glutton for punishment. Honestly, I cannot believe I’ve done this…but I have. I’ve reopened the old Scribe’s board. However, Scribe’s will never return. I’ve changed in the last 14 months. My outlook and goals have changed too. Now, I want to be a part of a community. I miss being with people who care about the things I care about. Hence, the birth of…

Indie Author Community Message Board

Yes, there’s a section for writing, but the main focus of this board is indie publishing. As I learn the ropes, I’ll share my experiences. If you want to learn with me, then feel free to join the board and share your experiences too. If you’ve already travelled the indie road and have information we might be interested in, then please join the board and share. And, yes, if you’re a writer and haven’t even thought about publication yet but want to mingle with other writers, then join the board…ok, I won’t say it again. Anyway, the more the merrier.

I don’t want the community to be swamped with rules and regulations. Not like last time. Use common sense and respect and everything should be fine.

I hope to see you at the board soon. 😀

Resources, Writing:

Finish Your Manuscript

These days, many people want to write a novel. They talk about it. They may even plan it in their head. Others will go as far as making notes. Several of them will even open a blank document and start writing. But very few of them will finish the manuscript.

There’s no trick to finishing a manuscript. Except, perseverance and dedication. If you truly want to finish a manuscript, you will. There will be no excuses, distractions or hard luck stories that will stop you. You’ll want to sit and write, so you’ll find the time or make the time to do it. It’s that simple.

If you do make excuses, then maybe you don’t really want to write. Maybe the idea of writing is pleasing, but the actual hard work of writing isn’t for you. That’s for you to decide.

Yesterday, I wandered onto the site of Timothy Hallinan and found a page called Finish Your Novel. If you decide you do want to be writer, yet you’re having trouble getting the words down, then maybe the articles of Timothy’s website will help you.

Resources, World Building, Writing:

Medieval Demographics Made Easy

It’s common for fantasy stories to have a medieval backdrop – castles, men (or women) on horseback and fire torches instead of battery operated torches. Of course, writers don’t have to use this setting. They can do whatever they want, because it’s fantasy! That’s the beauty of the genre.

Anyway, by accident I stumbled on a great resource for those of you who do have a medieval type world (like me). The page is called Medieval Demographics Made Easy and I believe it will help anyone get started on a world that is believable.

My Writing:, Other Projects, Resources, Writing:

Varuna The Writers’ House

Varuna The Writers’ House is situated close to me, but I had never heard of it until today. I’ve spent some time today going through the awards, competitions and events and feel this website could be useful to me.

I have already put my name forward to be added to their mailing list. Unfortunately, they had the Sydney Writers’ Festival last weekend and the Sunday program was of interest to me, but I missed out which is a shame.

However, there is a short story program coming up that I’m thinking of submitting to. A selection of stories will be published in an anthology in 2011 in Scribe’s (not associated with me) New Australian Stories 2.0. I have to write a short story first!

General:, Resources, Writing:

Australian Writers Marketplace Online

All serious writers will eventually purchase a copy of their country’s writers marketplace. Most countries have them, as far as I’m aware, but they might have slightly different names.

Over the years, I’ve purchase a couple of these reference books. The first time I hardly used the book as I was over eager and purchased it too quickly. However, the fact that I had a copy sitting on the desk beside my computer often inspired me…and you can’t put a price on that. The second version I bought got a lot of use. There’s still post-it notes sticking out of it and pencil notations throughout the publisher section.

The only thing I have against these books is that they are 1) expensive (my last copy cost around $50), and 2) they are too soon outdated. I hate wasting money, but sometimes a writer really needs the information only found in these books.

So imagine my delight when I discovered the Australian Writers Marketplace Online website. Don’t be fooled, there’s no saving to be had here, but at least you’ll have access to up-to-date information.

It’s an option to remember for the future. 🙂

General:, Resources

Software Review: Snowflake Pro

Some weeks ago I purchased a copy of Snowflake Pro, writing software based on the Snowflake Method of Writing a Novel technique. I use the technique, or parts of it, all the time, so I was eager to try the software and see how it compares.

The creator of the software has used the KISS method – keep it simple stupid – which I found to be perfect. However, in my opinion, I think anyone new to the technique would be looking for more thorough information at each step as not enough is included and I remember how confusing it was to begin with. To those people I suggest using the software and the creator’s website in conjunction with each other.

The software is simple to use. There are ten or so tabs (one for each step) at the top of the page, so it’s easy to move back and forth between steps as the ideas start to take shape. There are a couple of “tip” buttons, which can be used as reminders as to what you should be doing in each step. And…there’s an audio tip button too, I found this very helpful (and even inspiring in a way as it felt as if someone was interested enough in my writing to give me that little extra push).

You start out by filling in the basics, such as story title, author name, genre, approximate word count and target audience. Then you move into an area where you give more details about the author (you) such as providing your mailing address, contact phone numbers and email address, together with a short biography. Then you get stuck into planning your story/novel.

You create a list of characters and then you write a brief description on the setting. You alternate between characters and setting in each step, so that the overall story is progressing altogether. The list of characters is built on so that you have backgrounds, reasons, motivations, goals and conflicts. The brief description of the setting becomes a fully realised world and believable plot.

By the end of the process, if you’ve put in the hard yards and seriously put a lot of thought into it, you will have created well-rounded characters, a realistic world, a strong plot and you’ll have a two page synopsis ready to use in your submissions.

But there’s more…at the very end, there’s an extra special step where you can click on “print” and it will print out a complete proposal for you to use to submit to publishers…and it’s set out exactly how it should be too. Wonderful!

Of course, you don’t need the software in order to get the same results. You could set up documents and follow the steps on the website and you’ll end up with everything mentioned above, except the proposal. But even that can be achieved if you put in some time and research.

However, I like the software because it makes the process easier and tidier. I’ve used the manual method and having to open and close documents to find the information I’m looking for is tiresome. With the software it’s all filed right there in front of me and I use one screen to get to anything I’m looking for.

I recommend this software to writers who like to plan their stories before they write. If you’re a seat-of-the-pants writer, then you’ve just wasted your time reading this post, but then again it is nice to know what other people might be doing. 😉

No matter what type of writer you are, why are you still here? Shouldn’t you be writing?!

General:, Resources

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly – International Book & Bookselling News, Reviews, Bestsellers – is a website that acts as a news room for the publishing industry. Visitors to the site can see what’s happening, where it’s happening and to whom. I’ve seen articles about new publishers looking for submissions, indie authors cracking into mainstream publishing and the latest reviews on all types of books. There are also author interviews, helpful tips and the latest deals.

General:, Resources

Resource Central Directory

As a writer I’m always looking for new resources, so when I came across this website I had to share it here. The website is called Resource Central Directory – World Resources for All – Study, Learn, & Research.

This site is jam-packed with links to reference sites on a large variety of subjects; including coin collecting, volcanoes, pollution, crop circles, pyramids, astronomy, comets, ships, the railway, mythology, bee keeping, knot tying, sky diving and much more.