Blog: Mel's Muse

Showing posts categorised as 'Writing & Publishing A Book'

Persistence Pays

Have you ever had a book proposal turned down? You've slogged away, and you felt sure you'd done a good job - then this. I'm sure most of us will have been through many situations like this. It's pretty devastating isn't it? But it shouldn't be...

Posted at 02:49am on 25th January 2020

The Power Of Platform: How To Promote Your Product Without Being Pushy

As a writer, and author of books, do you ever feel - as I have done - that when it comes to promoting your product, you simply don't have it in you? The prospect of booking speaking engagements is beyond you. The possibility of standing before an audience...

Posted at 08:02am on 6th November 2019

The Battle Of Conflict - My Writers' Group's Take On Story


The main focus of our meeting this morning - midst laughter and chat - was the final construction and distribution of the booklet we have put together as a group. Titled Battle, and told in narrative, poetic and comic form, the theme confronts some of...

Posted at 11:21am on 23rd October 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Characteristic Conflict

In the last Creative Writing Workshop, we looked at the way in which we can go about Creating Credible Characters. Now I'm going to show you how you can bring creativity to the way you construct conflict. This is crucial when it comes to writing fiction and memoir...

Posted at 10:43am on 3rd August 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Creating Credible Characters

When we looked at the issue of Crafting Character in the last Creative Writing Workshop, I said that Characters - whether in fiction or true-life stories - need:

Credibility - to be true to life Creativity - in the way they respond to conflict Complexity - the depth which makes them three dimensional


Posted at 04:22am on 27th July 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Crafting Character

Today we're going to look at Crafting Character, and its importance in terms of plot and theme. This was the topic of the previous post in this series - the way in which The Riverbed of Theme runs through the narrative of a story, be it fictional or memoir....

Posted at 04:18am on 26th July 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: The Riverbed Of Theme

We began this Creative Writing Workshop by asking Are You On The Right Track? We then moved on to think about the necessity of Digging Deep for Plots. I trust you found the list of prompts helpful - i.e. considering a modern take on a Bible story or...

Posted at 06:28am on 20th July 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Digging Deep For Plots

In the Introduction of this Creative Writing Workshop, I asked the question, Are You On the Right Track? There was nothing flippant about this. Before you begin to write your book, there are questions to be asked. And answered!

The content of this, and future tutorials, will...

Posted at 08:38am on 30th March 2019

Creative Writing Workshop Introduction - Are You On The Right Track?

Right, let's see. Are you on the right track? Is it that you want to write a book but don't know where to start? Or that you've already written your book, but don't know how to get it published?

From past experience, over many decades, I think I...

Posted at 07:42am on 30th March 2019

So You're Planning A Book Launch. What About Pre Launch Promotion?

In my last blog post, So you're Planning a Book Launch. Do you Know What You're Doing? we considered some of the forward planning that's necessary. Now, with mine so recently behind me, I'll continue to share my experiences. We've looked at Venue, Timing, and Ease of...

Posted at 03:25am on 2nd July 2016

So You're Planning A Book Launch. Do You Know What You're Doing?


With all the trauma of the British referendum to leave the European Union last week, I can't quite believe that it's now a fortnight since the launch of my latest book, Chosen? The second novel in the Evie Adams series, it is set in Devon as was...

Posted at 04:54am on 30th June 2016

The Elevator Pitch: What Defines What & Why You Write?

In my last blog post, What Makes A Writer Write,  I mentioned the World Book Night event at Stoke Lodge, in Devon.  Invited to speak, briefly, to an audience of forty-plus about my own writing career, I began by saying that someone had asked me, ‘What is an elevator pitch?’ ...

Posted at 01:48am on 3rd May 2016

What Makes A Writer Write?

I was reading a blog post on Women Writers, Women’s Books which posed the query, Do you have to suffer to write?

It’s a valid and interesting question.


I attended a World Book Night event yesterday, at which Lesley Pearse, bestselling novelist, was speaking.  She had us...

Posted at 07:39am on 24th April 2016

My Writers' Group Feedback

We meet every other month and, midst this morning's mince pies and chocolate cake, we spent the first few minutes sharing news.
David Scott is to be congratulated for having his memoir, Death by a Thousand Clots reviewed in Devon Life, second only to Michael Morpurgo’s latest book.

Roger Steer,...

Posted at 11:11am on 25th November 2015

Creative Writing: Book Launch & Signing For Time To Shine

Not the best of photographs, but this is me telling my audience, at my Book Launch, yesterday, about my creative writing journey.  My love of books began at the age of five, when my father used to read my favourite bedtime story, Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant from the leather-bound...

Posted at 14:59pm on 29th November 2014

What Is Your Author & Book Brand?

Have you ever thought, as a reader, about what attracts you to certain books, or particular authors?  What makes you go for one rather than another?  Is it the book cover?  The price of the product?  The publisher’s marketing ploy?  The author’s nationality?

Somehow, I doubt it.  Almost certainly, it will...

Posted at 02:03am on 21st November 2014

Time To Shine - Another Excerpt From My New Psycological Mystery

Josh was still in his pjs, lying on his bed playing some computer game or other on his cell phone when Carl went to tell him the good news.  The boy seemed strangely lethargic.  Hardly surprising, Carl supposed, given the state of the room - a stinking fug of yesterday's...

Posted at 07:40am on 15th November 2014

Writing Defines Who I Am, Not What I Do!

When Fay Sampson, an author I’ve known and admired for many years, asked me to take part in a blog tour, naturally I was delighted to accept. When I heard that Donna Fletcher Crow - another author whose work I love to read - had participated -  that clinched it.  Both have...

Posted at 00:31am on 12th May 2014

Could I Really Be An Author?

Self-published novels and indie authors abound these days.  In another guest blog - while I am in the throes of moving house - I invite you to take a look at how one new writer launched his debut novel in an innovative way, and began to realise that he is,...
Posted at 09:02am on 26th June 2012

Driven To Distraction: Writing And Publishing A Book

Another guest blog, this time from a second Facebook friend and ACW member, Claire Dunn.   And yet again, this is a story of grit and determination: an inspiration to any aspiring author.   Dogged with dyslexia, Claire might well have given up on her dream of writing and publishing a book. ...
Posted at 12:56pm on 7th June 2012

Guest Blog: Self-publishing & E-books - The Ups & Downs

Although I don’t know her personally, Sheila Skillman is one of my Facebook friends. With what many of us thought considerable bravery, she recently asked for advice from other authors, concerning the lack of sales for her book. I hope she doesn’t feel she received more than she’d bargained for.

 The fact is,...
Posted at 06:35am on 20th May 2012

Preparing A Presentation For An Authors' & Booksellers' Conference

I must apologise for leaving you dangling with only half of Mel's Online Book Club discussion summary for Rob Bell's Love Wins.  The other part will be available soon, I promise.

I've been preparing my notes and Power Point slides for the presentation I shall be giving at a conference next...
Posted at 04:11am on 17th May 2012

Interviews With Authors About Their Books: Continued

I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to post the second part of this article: blame my recent appointment as Chairman of ACW - a national association for writers.  As I said in the first part of Interviews With Authors About Their Books,  a reader of my blog asked...

Posted at 08:59am on 31st March 2012

The Reality Of Being An Author: Marketing

Last month, I wrote about a reader of my website, Skye, who had written to me for advice about her first self-published novel.  Her initial question was simply one of discouragement.  I say "simply", but there's nothing simple about the sense of isolation one can feel as an author.  And...

Posted at 08:15am on 3rd December 2011

How To Be An Author: Facing Discouragement

If you are an aspiring author and are contemplating self-publishing your book, there are various issues to be considered.  I received an e-mail from a visitor to my website last month which highlighted some of these.

She recently self-published her book and has encountered several problems.  So over the next few...

Posted at 08:55am on 15th November 2011

How To Be A Writer Of Christian Fiction Books

Are you an established writer or aspiring author who is also a Christian?  Is there a novel you want to write (or have written) for which you are unable to find a publisher?  Do you enjoy reading mainstream fiction but find that Christian fiction books leave you cold?  How does...

Posted at 15:50pm on 24th June 2011

Breaking Writers Block - Two Tips

Revised: May 2011

There's no doubt about it, marketing a new book plays havoc with your writing schedule.  I told myself, when my novel, A Painful Post Mortem, hit the bookshops, that I'd give my undivided attention to book signings, speaking engagements, writing and blogging until - well, until the end...

Posted at 11:32am on 2nd May 2011

Conflict Resolution: Writers' Block & How To Overcome It

I must confess, writers' block is rarely a problem for me.  On the contrary, I'm usually brimful of ideas and can't get them down fast enough.  In fact, the last time I wrote on this subject was when my novel, A Painful Post Mortem was newly published and required all...

Posted at 19:57pm on 31st March 2011

The Importance Of An Elevator Pitch When Writing & Publishing A Book


What do you do when the book you're writing fails to impress the publisher to whom you've submitted it, on the grounds that the subject is not considered sufficiently compelling?

This was the scenario facing me two or three weeks ago, and I confess that my immediate reaction was to draw...

Posted at 15:49pm on 13th March 2011

Creative Writing & A God-like Or Omniscient Point Of View

Last week I wrote an article about the importance of Point of View (POV) if you're planning on writing and publishing a book, and a reader took me up on what I'd said.  An aspiring author, he is in the process of writing his first book, he said, and he's...

Posted at 12:02pm on 15th January 2011

Characters & Point Of View: It's All In The Mind

My husband, who is a keen cook, has a copy of one of Nigel Slater's books, Simple Suppers.  The recipes produce good, nutritious meals.  I have to confess, however, to a slightly queasiness when it comes to watching the celebrity chef on TV.  Something, I think, to do with what...

Posted at 17:40pm on 7th January 2011

Creating Your Book Marketing Plan: Mistakes Nos 1 & 2

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Take a Personality Test, sign up for Mels News, Views & Muse and receive a *Free...
Posted at 15:42pm on 24th November 2010

Online Advertising Versus Column Inches To Market Your Book

Hands up if you thought writing and publishing a book was all there was to being an aspiring author. Hands up if you’ve ever said, ‘anyone can be a writer.’ Hands up if you’ve ever looked at a successful author and thought, ‘easy peasy, I could do that.’


You’re not alone!...

Posted at 16:01pm on 21st September 2010

How Can An Author Best Market A Book?

An interesting discussion arose on one of my LinkedIn forums about the merits of using Facebook advertising to market your book. One aspiring author shared a variety of statistics proving the ‘benefits’ of doing so, by showing the increase in ‘hits’ on his website, or ‘page views’ generated by such measures. In the end, however,...

Posted at 12:19pm on 13th September 2010

So You Want To Be A Writer? Questions & Answers

I was reading a poem titled “So you want to be a writer?” by author Charles Bukowski a while ago. It begins:

“If it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything, don't do it.”

And continues with the urge NOT to “do it” if you’re after fame or fortune, status or any...

Posted at 21:39pm on 31st August 2010

One Stop Shop For Aspiring Authors & Published Writers?

Whether you are an aspiring author or an established, published writer, you will need to undertake research, from time to time, in order to provide material for the books or articles you are writing. Sometimes the research material you need may be factual; sometimes you may want to understand the emotional response to a given...

Posted at 12:04pm on 17th August 2010

Misery Memoir Genre: Do Grim Novels Dominate Book Market?

As an author I am, naturally, interested in the book market. Consequently, when I was shown a newspaper article a few months ago by a friend, about the continuing proliferation of misery memoir metamorphosing into a novel, I read it, avidly.


The misery memoir genre came to prominence in the...

Posted at 15:41pm on 14th July 2010

How Key Personality Traits Affect The Writing Process

If you are a book author and you’re writing non-fiction, how do you decide what material to put in and what to leave out? How, in fact, do you organise the content of your book?


Chances are that if you’re an aspiring author and you haven’t yet approached a publisher, your...

Posted at 11:39am on 8th July 2010

Does Your Creative Writing Style Encourage A Relationship With Your Readers?

Is it ever a good idea, as a book author, to stop writing? This isn’t a trick question: I have a genuine interest in your views – especially those of you who subscribe to my blog and are regular readers of my articles – plus it may be something you should be asking yourselves....

Posted at 19:21pm on 3rd June 2010

Ten Tips To Publication

Written The Book, Can’t Get It Published? This was the question posed on a LinkedIn forum in which I participate. In an attempt to help aspiring authors trying to find publication, I began my response by saying that, in my opinion, it's much more difficult to find a publisher for fiction than for non-fiction.


Posted at 16:03pm on 16th May 2010

Traditional Book Marketing Campaign V Marketing My Book Through Social Media

If you’re selling a product or service, can you conduct your business solely through social media? More to the point, if you’re an author, like me, can you sell books using only the internet? And if you replace the traditional means of marketing your books with internet marketing, are you in danger of throwing the...

Posted at 15:47pm on 3rd May 2010

Ebook Price-fixing: Who Gets Hurt In The End?

I'm delighted, today, to include an article by Angela Hoy, on the topic of price-fixing the unit cost of e-books - a practice which will, ultimately, lead to a monopoly and, therefore, destroy choice for the end-user - readers!

Do let me know what your views are. Comments are moderated, and your contact details will...

Posted at 17:32pm on 18th February 2010

Conflict Resolution: Relationship Psychology - And Creating Fictional Characters

What I’m about to tell you will revolutionise the way you perceive your personal relationships. It will also give you immense insight when it comes to creative writing and publishing a book and, in particular, when you’re creating fictional characters. So, whether you are attempting to make sense of your own relationships, or looking for...

Posted at 17:28pm on 6th January 2010

Creative Writing: How, Where & When?

How, where and when do you write and, more to the point, does it matter? Many bestselling novelists, whose diverse methods and locations are described below, would chant an unequivocal ‘Yes!’ And I think I would have to agree.


Perhaps because my earliest stories and dramas were written when I was only a...

Posted at 14:58pm on 7th December 2009

A True Story: How To Ghost-write, Or Write Biography

True story telling and writing has been around for a very long time but, as a genre, it really came into its own a few years ago with a spate of ‘kiss and tell’ books. These tended, at times, to be fairly lurid accounts of sexual abuse and the like and, on at least...

Posted at 17:50pm on 20th November 2009

Creative Writing: Tips For Novelists On Priming The Pump

Authors of books are urged, by writing pundits, to identify the genre and market for which they are aiming before they commit to print. This is for good reason; not least that if you are engaged in writing and publishing a book, knowing who you are writing for will affect how seriously a publisher...

Posted at 14:27pm on 28th October 2009

Creative Writing Style: Do You Have One?

We talk about certain novelists as having “style”, or say that we like "the style" of this author, but not that. But what does it actually mean to have writing style and is this something we can acquire, or foster in ourselves as writers? Or is it something that just happens?

Posted at 16:40pm on 26th October 2009

Authors: Tellers Of Tales, Weavers Of Dreams? Tap Into Your Childhood To Reveal And Nourish Hidden Emotional Creativity

Why do writers exist? What is it about the human race that makes us want to be authors and readers? Tellers of tales, serialisers of stories, weavers of dreams: what compels us? Scriptwriters, dramatists, actors, theatre-goers, radio broadcasters and listeners? Why? What inner compulsion urges us on – those of us who share our inner...

Posted at 01:00am on 23rd October 2009

How To Blog To Sell When Writing And Publishing A Book

You’re an author and you have a book to sell. Selling in bookshops is one thing; selling online another. You have a question: which is superior, social media or search engines when it comes to promoting your work?

In my last blog post I concluded that, as a reader or researcher, I prefer the latter....

Posted at 17:37pm on 15th October 2009

Writing And Publishing: Online Marketing

I wrote, last week, about the futility of relying solely on book publishing houses to promote your new novel, and the need to think in terms of self-promotion. Publishing a novel is not an end in itself (you want people to read it!) and, sooner or later, the process of creative writing has to be...

Posted at 11:02am on 12th October 2009

Writing And Publishing: Promoting Your Novel

If you are serious about writing and publishing your book, then sooner or later you’re going to have to think about promoting it. I’m not talking here about manuscript submission guidelines, how to write a publishing proposal for your book. Nor am I referring to writing a synopsis for a novel in order...

Posted at 10:00am on 7th October 2009

Creative Writing Tips: Take Inspiration From The Poets

Sometimes the sheer effort of writing seems to be almost overwhelming. Whatever inspiration you once had has evaporated. You feel tired, drained and dispirited.

We’ve all experienced it. You wake up one morning and think, what on earth am I doing with my life? All those hours spent cooped up with no one but yourself...

Posted at 21:48pm on 18th September 2009

How To Write Description In A Novel: Describing Location

Revised: 19th September, 2010

When you read a novel, you are being invited to inhabit an imaginary world: a fictional place, in which fictional characters live, and move, and have their being. If good descriptive writing is used, their experiences become yours, too, for the duration of the book. But because the medium is...

Posted at 17:37pm on 9th September 2009

How To Write Description In A Novel: Characters

Revised: 15th September, 2010

Writing and publishing a book requires an understanding of how to write description. Describing characters is a necessary part of creative writing, as is describing location. But I had to smile when I read a review in The Daily Telegraph, of the American TV drama, The Tudors. It appears that in...

Posted at 20:16pm on 2nd September 2009

Creative Writing Tips And The Definition Of Denouement

This article has been revised & updated on: 6th September, 2010.
Photo: Looking back down to the end of the funicular railway at the sea below!

I expect many of you, as an aspiring author, will know that a novel has a beginning, a middle and an end. That’s pretty obvious, I would have thought. But...

Posted at 22:56pm on 5th May 2009

Right Brain Dominant: How To Make Your Writing Flow

A comment on my post The Structure Of A Novel: 12 Tips, complimented me for my articles on writing fiction, but asked when you should give up the brainstorming and simply sit down and let the narrative flow? It’s a good question and one which I thought deserving of more attention than I could give...

Posted at 16:00pm on 24th April 2009

Writing And Editing A Book For Publication: Listening To Dialogue

Whilst it is true that editing and proof reading are an editor’s job, many would-be authors erroneously believe that they will undertake to knock their unleavened narrative into shape. However, your manuscript is unlikely to progress from the slush pile to the editor’s desk unless it has undergone some serious editing before hand. And whilst...

Posted at 16:10pm on 12th April 2009

Writing In Style Requires Rewriting & Revision

Can any one of us honestly say that the first draft of our book has been written in style? Yes, we fall in love with great chunks of our work – phrases, paragraphs, heck, whole chapters. But I’d be the first to admit that if I put my work away for a few weeks...

Posted at 20:56pm on 5th April 2009

Really Good Writing Requires Really Good Editing!

Anyone, it has been said, can write. But as any published author knows only too well, the secret of writing well is in the rewriting.


I was very fortunate in that my first book was commissioned. Actually, what happened was that what had been one book became two. It had taken me many...

Posted at 17:52pm on 3rd April 2009

What Is A Good Story? And What A Good Piece Of Writing?

"Is there a difference between a good story and good writing?"

I was asked the question by a lady living in Greece, who has been reading my blog posts for sometime, and who e-mailed me, direct. She, like many would-be authors, is frustrated by the stone-walling she has received from the publishers to whom she’s submitted...

Posted at 11:20am on 30th March 2009

The Structure Of A Novel: Twelve Tips

You’ve decided to start writing a novel but you’ve no idea where to begin. Or perhaps you’ve already made a start but haven’t a clue how to proceed. You thought that once you’d started it would simply flow, but now you’re finding that pulling all the strands together to bring the wretched thing to its...

Posted at 20:35pm on 26th March 2009

Rejection Slips And Bad Reviews Of Your Book? 4 Ways Of Coping

There’s no such thing as bad press! So says the old adage. The idea is that a literary review for your work – regardless of how damning it may be – is, nevertheless, a step up from no review at all! That may be, but how, when you’ve already waded through an emotional ocean...

Posted at 16:59pm on 18th March 2009

Issues Of Trust Between A Mother And Her Child

“Can it ever be right for a mother to expose her child in the name of literature?” I asked on an online forum. It was a question which has provoked an impassioned response. But it was, itself, a response – my answer – to a recent news story which has spread itself across the...

Posted at 16:59pm on 11th March 2009

Crafting Fiction: Understanding How Scenes In Novels Are Constructed - Part 4

By now I hope you’re beginning to understand the importance of conflict in a novel, and how to incorporate the three elements of Goal, Conflict and Disaster into each ACTION scene. I’ve had some feedback from readers via Twitter, but it would be great if you could post your comments and queries at the end...

Posted at 14:16pm on 7th March 2009

Crafting Fiction: Understanding How Scenes In Novels Are Constructed - Part 2a

I know it’s not very professional to abandon a blog post half way through, and I apologise for having done so yesterday. But when your mother’s poorly and needs you, there’s just no way round it. So in the hope that you’ll forgive me, and have come back for the second half, here it...

Posted at 16:35pm on 2nd March 2009

Crafting Fiction: Understanding How Scenes In Novels Are Constructed - Part 2

I finished Part 1 of this series a couple of days ago by saying that a scene is invariably made up of three simple elements:


In a previous post, I’ve written about what makes a story a plot, and highlighted the significance of conflict...

Posted at 19:35pm on 1st March 2009

Crafting Fiction: Understanding How Scenes In Novels Are Constructed - Part 1

How do you go about constructing the scenes in a novel? Many writers simply sit down and write, in the belief that to do otherwise impedes the flow of creativity. Others ‘story-board’ the plot in a carefully assembled series of scenes for each character, arranged in sequence on a pin board. Yet others do something...

Posted at 11:56am on 27th February 2009

Are Biblical Truths Essential To An Author's Understanding Of The Human Mind And Behaviour?

Andrew Motion, the UK’s Poet Laureate (a person appointed by a government who is, typically, expected to compose poetry for State occasions) has reportedly said that, “Children should be taught the Bible throughout their education because it is an ‘essential piece of cultural luggage’ without which they will struggle to fully understand literature.” (The Guardian 17th...

Posted at 17:13pm on 20th February 2009

Inspirational Thought: 8 Ideas To Plumb For Creative Writing

“I write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”

This is said to originate with the novelist Peter de Vries, but I think it may be George Bernard Shaw.

“Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

A variation of Thomas Edison’s observation on genius.

I was asked, recently, to state a...

Posted at 17:17pm on 17th February 2009

The Book Publishing Process Laid Bare

Photo: Author, Mel Menzies, at a Book Signing Revised: January 2011

What do you do if you're an aspiring author but can't get your novel accepted by an agent or publisher?  You've been to every creative writing course available, read everything you can lay your hands on about writing and publishing a...

Posted at 17:40pm on 8th February 2009

Descriptive Writing Styles: Conveying A Sense Of Place, Person, Personality And Mood

When you sit down to write, do you find that the bit you like best is when you can indulge your love of description? Is that the part of your prose that you feel most proud of? Does it give you a thrill when you read it back to yourself? If so, you...

Posted at 11:35am on 2nd February 2009

Creative Writing: How To Make Your Point Without Being Pointed

21st December 2009: This article has been revised so that it may be reproduced. See below

Years ago, when I was a member of a Writers’ Circle, we used to read aloud to one another, and subject each reading to a critique. One woman – a successful writer – used to stop those of us...

Posted at 15:59pm on 28th January 2009

If You're Writing In The Passive Voice, Consider Revising

I wrote, yesterday, on the need to find your Voice, and illustrated how verbs may be used in the Active and Passive voice. Now I am no expert when it comes to grammar, and if there are those who know better than I, I would ask you to correct me...

Posted at 20:08pm on 22nd January 2009

What Does Passive Voice Mean In The Creative Writing Process?

I received a piece of work, recently, with a request to look it over and comment on it. It has prompted me to write on the subject of Voice, and the merits (or otherwise) of how it is used. There’s a little bit of grammar instruction necessary here, but I will illustrate my point afterwards...

Posted at 14:42pm on 21st January 2009

Reviewing Techniques When Resolving Conflict

This is the first Post on my shiny new laptop. As I wrote, yesterday on my Twitter wall (I think that’s the correct jargon) setting up a new computer is a nightmare of mistakes, misunderstandings and misapprehension. Hence the lack of time to add anything to my blog for a few days.

So I thought, today,...

Posted at 22:22pm on 15th January 2009

Writing A Synopsis For A Novel To Submit To Publishing Houses

Your book manuscript is finished. From your Writers' & Artists' Year Book, you've chosen the first publisher you're going to send it to, written your submission proposal letter and sat back and waited. One month. Two. . .

Hang on a minute. Rewind!

Posted at 17:40pm on 12th January 2009

Manuscript Submission Guidelines: How To Write A Publishing Proposal For Your Book

It must be nearly twenty years, or so, since many of the major book publishing houses underwent a huge reshuffle. Secretaries suddenly found themselves elevated to the status of editors and, among certain authors, an aura of gloom and doom descended. Accompanying this sense of Last Times, was the advent of the (then un-named) hand-held...

Posted at 18:55pm on 8th January 2009

Manuscript Formatting


I received a manuscript, yesterday, from a friend who wants me to look it over for a client of hers (she's a Life Coach). I have to confess that with the departure of all my visiting family after the Christmas break, bed-changing, washing and...

Posted at 15:10pm on 2nd January 2009

Let This New Year Be Your New Beginning


I hope that 2009 will bring you good health and happiness. If you’re an aspiring author, let this be the year that you achieve success in publishing terms. And if you’re simply in need of a little love and understanding, may you find it where you least expect it. Read on ....

Posted at 16:44pm on 31st December 2008

The Seven Plot Lines: Rebirth

It seems appropriate to be thinking of Rebirth as the last of the seven story plots on Christmas Eve, because the birth that we celebrate tomorrow is the one that is meant to bring rebirth to the human race.

Kasia Body’s review of The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker in The Daily Telegraph (2004)...

Posted at 17:56pm on 24th December 2008

Creative Writing Tutorial: Voyage And Return

We’ve now looked at five of the seven plot lines which form the basis of all storytelling, and move on, today, to the penultimate Voyage & Return.

Rags to Riches
Overcoming the Monster
The Quest
Comedy Tragedy
Voyage and Return Rebirth VOYAGE & RETURN

Voyage and Return frequently follows not simply a physical journey, but an inner voyage of overcoming something...

Posted at 21:05pm on 20th December 2008

The Seven Plot Lines That Form The Basis Of A Creative Writing Process

I began this series by saying that, according to tradition, there are only seven basic plots which form the basis of all the stories ever told or written. They are:

Rags to Riches Overcoming the Monster The Quest Voyage and Return Comedy Tragedy Rebirth

We've already looked at the first three, and discovered that some story plots are...

Posted at 17:33pm on 18th December 2008

Seven Basic Plots: Part 3 - The Quest

I began this study on the seven plot lines that are said to be the basis of all stories, by examining what is meant by the rags to riches story, and that of overcoming the monster. Today I'm going to look at what it means to write about the quest.

Posted at 11:30am on 16th December 2008

The Seven Story Plots: Parts 1 & 2

It is said that there are only seven basic plots, to which all storylines adhere. Of these seven plot lines perhaps the best known is the rags to riches story. This, after all, is the basis of many of our favourite nursery rhymes and fairy stories. Think Cinderella, and Jack...

Posted at 00:00am on 14th December 2008

Creative Writing Techniques: How To Write Good Dialogue

I wrote, in an earlier article, about the need to give readers plenty of white space on the page, and suggested that you aim for a clotted cream effect: solid lumps of differing sizes and consistency, floating in a soft smooth cream. The cream is the narrative of your novel. And at least some...

Posted at 12:23pm on 6th December 2008

Creative Writing Techniques: How To Find Ideas For Plots

It seems that these days almost everyone is writing a book! Despite the fact that we’re told that computers have dumbed down and depleted our appetite for reading, increasing numbers of would-be authors are emerging. So with apologies to those who may already have read the following, I’m revising an article I wrote some time...

Posted at 09:00am on 1st December 2008

Writing Your First Novel: How Viewpoint Affects Show & Tell

An understanding of how to use Viewpoint correctly is crucial to the success of writing your first novel. A history book may tell you about a particular event, or period in time, on either a personal level or a grand scale; a text book on psychology may inform you about behaviour; a self-help book...

Posted at 15:05pm on 23rd November 2008

Plotting Stories: Off-topic Blogs May Be The Best Growing Medium For Your Budding Novel

One of the benefits of modern technology is that, as a writer, you have more information at your finger tips about who is connecting with your blog personality, and which content for your blog attracts most readers, than ever you could in the real world. So it’s exciting to know that, since I began...

Posted at 17:20pm on 19th November 2008

How To Hook Your Reader: Starting Your Story

Revised & Updated: 10th August, 2010

Right! You’re sitting in front of your computer to begin your novel, and you’re raring to go. You’ve read my article, Writing & Publishing A Book: Ten Tips Before You Begin, and identified your readers, as well as Fiction: Main Characters & How To Choose Them, so you know, as...

Posted at 18:04pm on 16th November 2008

Fiction - Main Characters And How To Choose Them

Revised and Updated: August, 2010

Last week, in Ten Tips Before You Begin, I wrote about the necessity for you, as an aspiring author, to identify your readers before you begin to write your book. That advice holds true whatever the genre in which you are writing. Today, we’re going to concentrate on writing a...

Posted at 15:51pm on 10th November 2008

Writing And Publishing A Book: Ten Tips Before You Begin


I remember reading, many years ago, of someone famous – a well-known pop singer – who told a story of a woman who had written to him saying: God has told me I’m going to marry you. To which the singer replied:...

Posted at 16:33pm on 3rd November 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - Plotting Is A Journey

This is the last Post in this Series. Over the past few weeks you’ve been learning how to Plot your Story. Complete the process of writing your book by subscribing FREE to the next series.

SUBSCRIBE NOW *FREE* TO THE NEXT SERIES: CREATIVE WRITING – CRAFTING THE STORY. Your contact details will be kept secure at...

Posted at 17:49pm on 26th September 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - Where To Begin

Related Posts: Joining up the Dots HOW TO PLOT A NOVEL & HOOK YOUR READER

At what point do you decide if you’re going to like the book you’ve picked up to read? Almost certainly, it will be by the time you’ve reached the bottom of the first page. If the narrative hasn’t hooked you by...

Posted at 18:36pm on 20th September 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - Joining Up The Dots


How did you get on with the last session? I hope the update on all the previous tutorials was a help. For those of you who’ve just joined, the post titled The How-to of Creative Writing – What Makes A Story A Plot? – will link you to all relevant sessions.

Posted at 10:35am on 13th September 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - What Makes A Story A Plot?

I’m sorry I’m rather late with this week’s How-to of Creative Writing. I’ve been developing my website in the hope that it will make it easier for visitors to navigate. Also, I wanted to make sure that my readers – you! – understand what it’s all about. I hope you’ll take a look around and...

Posted at 17:35pm on 10th September 2008

Creative Writing - Creativity In Conflict


Ever felt that you fall out with your partner / colleague / mother about the same thing, over and over? Not sure why this happens? Even less sure what to do about it?

This Post will, I hope, be of interest to anyone reading it, not simply to...

Posted at 22:53pm on 5th September 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - Credible Characters

A couple of days ago in the How-to of Creative Writing, I said that Characters – whether in fiction or true-life stories – need:

Credibility – to be true to life Creativity – in the way they respond to conflict Complexity – depth which makes them three dimensional

Today we’re going to look at the first of...

Posted at 18:41pm on 1st September 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - Characterisation


Last week we looked at the way in which Theme determines the subject or focal point of a story. Have you found, since then, that you’re beginning to be a little more analytical about what you read and watch?

Before I started writing professionally, I never considered...

Posted at 22:19pm on 30th August 2008

The How-to Of Creative Writing - Part Two - Theme


How did you get on last week? Did you find the list of prompts helpful - i.e. considering a modern take on a Bible story or a nursery rhyme as inspiration? I hope you've got plenty of ideas milling around in your mind. Keep a note of them...

Posted at 18:14pm on 23rd August 2008

The How-to Of Writing A Novel - Introduction


One of the flattering, if potentially fatal, aspects of being an author is that other people want you to read their manuscripts. It isn't always that they want to know how to write a book. They have, they tell you, already done so. It's...

Posted at 17:06pm on 10th August 2008

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