What Writers Need/Would Like

Naturally, what writers need and what they would like are not necessarily the same!

Facebook – General

What do all writers need?

1. Stamina.

2. The ability to accept rejections happen.

3. Commitment (10 minutes a day IS commitment so don’t be put off if your time is limited. The time you can spend on writing mounts up and besides this is not a competition). It is a case of working out what you can do and then sticking to it.

4. Reliable PC/laptop and printer (for running out those stories you need to edit on paper).

5. The ability to accept feedback, especially when it is critical. (What you’re looking for here is feedback that is honest but also says why something didn’t work for the reader concerned. “I didn’t like it” is not exactly helpful! “I didn’t like it because I thought the character was weak” is better. You then need to look at the character carefully and see if they are weak. If they are, there is work to do. If you honestly feel they’re not, then this may be this reader’s perception but something didn’t come across well and that is something you could look at).

6. Willingness to allow enough time to feed your own imagination and that means reading widely and across genres, including non-fiction.

7. The ability to plan out what work you will do when. My shorter writing sessions I use for flash fiction. Longer ones I give over to the novel or longer short stories. Planning how to use the time you’ve got will help you get more done.

8. Pens and notebooks. Jotting down ideas has to happen somewhere so it may as well be in a nice notebook. (Do ask non-writer family and friends for notebooks and pens as presents. You can’t have too many…!).

This is by no means a comprehensive list but I didn’t want this rivalling War and Peace for length!!

 

I listed yesterday some of the things writers need including stamina, the ability to accept rejections happen and so. Tonight I thought I’d flip the coin, so to speak, and look at what writers would like to happen.

1. Publication, obviously (and then to keep on being published).

2. Reviews (on Amazon and Goodreads particularly. They don’t have to be long reviews either).

3. Support from other writers and family/friends. It really does help especially for those times when your writing seems to be going nowhere.

4. An endless supply of pens/notebooks/toner cartridges/A4 etc etc.

5. An endless supply of tea/coffee etc while writing.

6. Always being able to go to your favourite writing events!

7. To never be short of things to write!

Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list!

What are the things I’ve found most useful as a writer? These are not in any particular order. All are invaluable.

1. Scrivener

2. Evernote

3. Smartphone (am a late convert to these but I get so much writing done when travelling by train thanks to this and it saves me lugging a laptop about. Biggest bugbear = my local train company, on taking over from the old one, blanking out all the recharging points on their trains. Why for goodness sake? This was a useful service to passengers. I can’t believe we’d have drained the train!!). Also incredibly useful for photos.

4. Notebooks and pens, naturally.

5. Good supplies of information on markets/competitions/writing conferences to go to (and this can be from something like Writing Magazine to informative Facebook groups to writing organisations).

6. Supportive writing friends/supportive friends and family who don’t write but root for me doing so!

7. The internet (it is useful for research. The clever bit is focusing on what you want to find out and not allow yourself to be distracted).

8. The indie press! (Take a bow Cafelit, Bridge House Publishing, Iron Press, Chapeltown Books etc).

9. The Society of Authors and ALCS.

10. My laptop and my printer aka Old Faithful. (Has seen off at least three “cleverer” colour printers with duplex printing. Old Faithful is strictly black and white and one side at a time and keeps going and going and going).

11. Liquid refreshments while writing (what I have here depends on time of year and my mood!).

12. My Slimming World Hi-fi bars for when the munchies strike while writing stories or blog posts.

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Murphy’s Laws for Writers – An Occasional Series…

1. You have lots of ideas for stories or none.

2. You have lots of time to enter competitions or very little.

3. A competition that would have suited you perfectly has just passed its closing date by the time you spot it.

4. You run out of pens yet know you have loads on your desk. They just vanish into thin air when you try to find them.

5. You’ve finally got around to picking up a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook but within a week the next year’s edition is out. You are not best pleased.

6. You are delighted to be able to support your friends’ writing and are thrilled when they’re published, you tell them you’re looking forward to their books coming out, plan to get to their launches etc. However, you don’t know what to do when you discover they’re holding book launches on the same day and at opposite ends of the country. Hmm…

Am not going to say which ones I’ve been guilty of!

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned before that flash fiction works best with one character (at a pinch two), but it is also true said character should have only one goal to achieve/problem to overcome. There isn’t the room for more.

You want to keep things simple. Flash is direct. You are focusing on one character, one problem. Anything not to do with that is surplus to requirements and should be cut.

Simple is not the same as (a) easy (it really isn’t!) and (b) simplistic. You are looking for a prose style that flows and carries your readers along, keen to find how you get your character out of the horrible situation you’ve put them in. Do they sink or swim? Have they the right character traits to be able to swim? If they start to sink, how can they turn that around?

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It’s about time for some one-line stories again. Hope you like these.

1. When the red, red robin came bob, bob, bobbing along, the cat had a field day.

2. The problem with wishing on a star is, unless you have space equipment on and a decent supply of oxygen, you’re not going to be wishing for long.

3. The Magic Roundabout can carry on without me – I am currently stuck in Swindon’s version.

(For those not in the know, Swindon is renowned for its system of multiple roundabouts in one big one and The Magic Roundabout was a well known children’s TV programme back in the 1970s. Well, that was when I watched it! Oh and for the record, I’ve only been to Swindon by train to visit their excellent Steam railway museum!).

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It is often advised to keep a notebook handy so you can jot down story/blog post/novel ideas etc whenever they come to you. To be fair, this is very good advice.

However, it has never worked for me. Partly because when my head hits the pillow, I’m out like the proverbial light. No chance of me getting ideas during dreams.. I just sleep!

Secondly every other place where I have had ideas for stories has been too awkward for reach out and grab the notebook. It’s not unknown for ideas to come to me while showering or on the loo.

Why do ideas never come like that when you really COULD pause for a moment and jot them down the way you’re advised to? I refuse to believe this is just me!😀😀

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I relish that moment in fiction writing when the character takes off and I know I’ve got a good story in the offing as a result. I do believe a great story, regardless of its genre, is down to the great characters fuelling it. But up until that point, there is always that wondering “is this character going to work as well as I’d thought?”, “what if this falls flat?” etc.

Sometimes the character doesn’t work out and the story does fall flat. What I do here is, after some time away from it, I look at the story again and analyse what worked and what didn’t. It is nearly always a case for me that the character’s voice wasn’t strong enough. I can then look to see if I can improve that and rescue the story. If not, it’s a lesson for next time.

I’ve got to be able to hear a strong character voice coming through the narrative. Without that, I don’t think any story will work properly. To get that strong character, you have to know who they are, what they would risk everything for, and, in your story, are the stakes high enough for them to care about the outcome? If not, then the story will fall flat and no reader would care either.

Goodreads Author Blog – Settings in Books

Does the setting in a book matter to you?

I was always gripped by Kirrin Island in the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. (I guess the nearest I got to visiting anything like it was when I went on a day trip to Brownsea Island, just off Poole! I lacked the lashings of ginger beer though… sighs…).

One of the things I love about The Lord of the Rings is the way The Shire is conjured up as a lovely place to live. Mordor is anything but! The films did full justice to this too. (Not always true for film adaptations either).

A really good setting is almost a character in its own right and the authors treat them that way too. This is true for Narnia, Winnie the Pooh (I’ve just got to say 100 Acre Wood and that will conjure up the world of Pooh immediately – to me at least!), amongst many, many others.

Do I need intensive descriptions of settings? Not really.

What I look for is enough for me to be able to visualise that setting for myself. Also, the characters should fit the setting – Jeeves and Wooster are great examples of that. There shouldn’t be any feeling of anything of anyone being out of place. Even the villains in a story should fit (think of the weasels in The Wind in the Willows for example – they still fit in that world).

Which are your favourite settings and why?

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