Saturday, 31 May 2008

Jakarta Takes the Lead

Tell Me a Story

Writers, readers, publishers, take a look at this!

A publishers group has set up a book center in Jakarta with the aim of encomapassing the whole of their publishing industry. Maybe someone over at this end ought to be taking a damn good look at doing the same for us! Good luck to 'em, I say!

For more read this Jakarta Takes Lead


Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

So, You're a Wannerbe Writer!

Tell Me a Story - advice

Anthony, could I take a collection of my writing, compile them together and turn that into a book just like some bloggers do?

Wow! Now hold on there. Success in all the arts is a long and dusty road I'm afraid. Only the determined stick it out. Sometimes I wonder if that's what the publishers are looking for .... staying power.

There are no shortcuts except for the very lucky. Disregard all stories you hear of overnight successes that certain blog-writers have had, it just ain't gonna happen again. All the authors I know, have served some sort of apprenticeship to the pen. Not all have a formal education by any means, but all have thoroughly earned their spurs.

There are milliions of writers out there, all of them chasing the same dream. Publishers know this and can afford to be choosy, so be warned. However, said that, please don't be put off, I just want you to be prepared for hard work, and to study the techniques invloved. Nobody just sits down and writes a successful book. There are standards to meet, methods to learn.

There are numerous text-books on the subject, and you should read at least a couple to see the writing world from differing perspectives. No artist in any field, ever found success without understanding everything there was to know about the subject. Writers are no different.

Join an on-line writer's circle such as , get in contact with like-minded people and you'll receive encouragement and help. Read as many blogs on the subject as you can, pick up hints and tips and see what other authors talk about.

Absolutely immerse yourself in the world of writing, and one day, just maybe, you might just get lucky. But until then .... stick at it .... and good luck!


Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Friday, 30 May 2008

Book Award

It's always good to hear of someone succeeding. Well here's one author that really made top grade. Take a bow, sir!

History professor Marcus Rediker has won the $50,000 George Washington prize for his study of the slave trade in his book "The Slave Ship: A Human History."

A story like this must have taken years of research and he justly deserves the award. Good on yer mate! I wish you well.

I'm just glad we ain't competing, I hate being a loser!!!!

The distinguished prize, given each year for the best book written about the era of the Founding Fathers, is one of the largest and most prestigious book awards in the US.

For the full story in the Washington Post please click below



Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Writing Tips - A Cut in Time

Tell Me a Story - advice .

I was recently asked advice about getting a book published. The writer had been working on a book for over a year and was worried about the time taken, asking was it their responsibility to hire an editor to correct the manuscript.

I have to say, first off, a year is NOT too long to be working on a book, it’s about par for the course, some take several years, especially a d├ębut, when you're striving for perfection.

Hone, hone, and away.

If you’ve invested all that time and effort in the writing, why not take a little more time to re-read and polish it until it shines. Adopt a professional eye and hone away ALL unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, before thinking about sending to a publishing house. Nothing screams amateur more than purple prose. Cut, cut and cut again. I know you're losing words, but you're gaining quality. It's far better to have a thousand words less but accepted, than a thousand words more rejected.

If your manuscript is accepted, the PUBLISHING house will assign an editor to make sure your book meets their high standard, it's their responsibility.

Professional critique.

However, that said, you might purchase the services of an external editor if you want a professional critique (someone like Hilary Johnson - find her on the web) before you submit your work. This service will cost approx one hundred pounds for the first three chapters - only use them if you really don’t understand what's wrong with your work.

A lower level of critique but quite genuine, can be found for free in most on-line writer’s circles such as My Writers Circle - but don't expect to submit a whole novel, just a taster.

Can it be better?

When you’re certain you can’t make your manuscript any better, trundle down to your local library, borrow ‘The Writer’s Handbook” and make a note of publishing houses who publish your genre. There seems to be a gathering trend in the UK and almost certainly in the USA to go through a publishing agent, but the same process should be adopted.

Send the selected publishing house or agent a short note asking if they'd be kind enough to read your manuscript. Enclose a very brief synopsis of your book (look to the blurb on a book jacket for guidance), explain the number words it contains, and what genre you've written. A longer synopsis should only be sent if they ask to see the first three chapters.

Then sit back and pray.


Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Rule and Damn Rules

Tell Me a Story - writing tip .

Writing rules are sometimes broken .... but only by the foolhardy, or those who know exactly why they're doing it.


To succeed at writing you must of course, have natural talent. Without talent there will be nothing no matter how hard you try. It might sound obvious, but you must also be an avid reader, you must love reading. If you don't read you can hardly write.... however, there are techniques that you must be aware of.

Try some of the links below

Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion And Write Right
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot In Your Story Brief
To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Next post on Tell Me a Story

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Writing Tips - Explaining It Away

"AJ .... Help! I'm doing a radio interview. The presenter has sent me a list of questions and one of them wants me to discuss my story. How do you explain what's going on in your book. I find it difficult to tell people what my story is about. How do you go on?"

This was a question raised quite recently. I'm no expert on radio interviews. I hate being the centre of attention, but talking about your book is fairly essential even to an introvert like me. I have to admit it's difficult getting the idea of a whole book over in just a few words. I always feel I'm underselling my work, but it can be done, it MUST be done. It just needs a bit of thought.

Concentrate on things that interest YOU in the book, what excites you about it.

  • Discuss the opening theme and how it affects the story.
  • Explain about the attitude and moods of the central characters and maybe why they're like they are.
  • Say what conflicts exist between the main protagonists and perhaps what those contrasts mean in terms of the storyline.
  • Tell them of any questions raised. Are the questions resolved at the end or partway through?
  • Explain how many main characters are in the story, and how the characters intertwine.
  • Explain whether the conflict is:- man conflicting with man; man conflicting with nature; or man conflicting with himself (read woman for man).
With a little preparation it's surprising what you can come up with.
Keep on writing.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

An interview with author, James Melzer

James Melzer is a relatively new friend of mine but he's one of those people who make you feel as if you've known him forever. He's recently finished a book and hopes to have it on the market soon. I caught up with him a few days ago and thought it might be a good idea to share his knowledge.

James, just how long have you been into writing? Is it a new thing or has it developed?

  • I've been a writer for as long as I can remember. It seems that from an early age I was always putting things down on paper, stories and whatnot. It hasn't been until recently that I thought I could eventually make some sort of career out of it.

For more please read Interview With James Melzer

Next post


Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Writing Tips - You NEED Query Letters

"AJ can you help, I've just finished my novel and was thinking of sending the manuscript to a publisher in PDF format. Is this alright or do I have to send the printed version? I'll be sending it to another country, so it could end up costly? What should I do please?"
Mark, let's make it clear; you should never send a manuscript to any publisher without first being invited. A growing number of publishers only deal with agents, so check that out as a first priority.
If the publishing house accepts manuscripts without an agent intermediary, you should send a polite letter (email) of enquiry asking permission to send the first three chapters for approval.
The letter (email) should include the word-count, your writing experience (plus any success, no matter how limited) and the genre of your work. At this early stage, include a very SHORT synopsis of your book - about 100 words or so (look to the blurb on a novel to get a feel of what to put).
IF you are invited to tender part of your manuscript, you should again include the above information, together with a slightly longer synopsis, but no more than two pages of A4 in length.
For guidelines on submissions see earlier post
When sending your letter of enquiry, never include a file attachment unless you've been specifically invited to do so. You don't want to risk an anti-virus dumping your enquiry without seeing the light of day. That would be terrible!


Monday, 19 May 2008

Writing Tips - Delete and feel better for it!

Tell Me a Story - writing tip

I was recently asked whether I spent more time on the start of the story, the middle or the end. I had to admit I really squirm over the start. The whole story has to be good of course or there will be nothing, but the start of your story has to be more than good, it has to be brilliant. It has to hook the reader.

The secret to a good start is to cut it out. Learn how and why on my Redgage article


Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Writing Tips - Unsticking Your Story

Time and again the same question seems to crop up on forums. A writer has come up against a wall and wants to know how to get moving again. My answer is always the same - most problems with writing boil down to planning.

Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Plot Thickens

Tell Me a Story - writing tip

I'm on various forums, and people keep asking me the same old questions. For some reason there seems to be a problem with PLOT and what it should contain to be successful. I thought it might clarify a few points if wrote a short article about it on RedGage.


Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better

Friday, 9 May 2008

Credibility in characters

Tell Me a Story - writing tips

I hate it when I read a story and someone in it suddenly does something out of character. I feel like screaming! I've just thrown a book to one side - and no, I'm not naming names, I don't want a lawsuit thrown at me, but you know the sort of thing I'm on about.

Characters should be real.

We've all seen it at sometime. Honestly, I wonder how some writers get away with it. For God's sake characters are supposed to be REAL aren't they? If a character is quiet and shy, they're not likely to to go out of their way to find a career as a television presenter, are they! They wouldn't do it in real life, so why in a story.

Shit, I should know! I'm quiet (well mostly), I'm certainly shy, in fact I did a radio chat show a while ago .... and I was petrified. I HATE being the centre of attention, so why put fictional characters in stupid positions? IT DOESN'T WORK!

Character's aims and reactions MUST be consistent within the framework of the storyline. Don't make them do false things just to make a cheap line seem better. Readers might just start reaching for another book....

Make your characters real, guys. Make them credible! Keep the reader turning those pages.


PAST SINS - Contemporary Romance
SHORT MOMENTS - Christian Value Stories without sermonizing

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Misconception of Conflict

Tell Me a Story - writing tips.

I'm sometimes asked for my views on conflict in a novel. I don't suppose there are hard and fast rules, but some jump to mind, which new writers ignore at their peril.

Certainly, misconception as a foundation for conflict is a no-go-area. I seriously doubt if any intelligent reader would tolerate an artificial state such as misconception. Readers simply question why the protagonists don’t enquire and resolve the problem immediately.

I've listed a few ideas. I'll never claim the list to be definitive, just a guideline that can be expanded but never disregarded.

Conflict generally falls into one of three categories. Man against man; man against nature/inanimate things; or man against himself. Of these, man against himself, has perhaps generated some of the most powerful emotions found in books.
  1. Characters should always be in a circumstance from which there is no apparent escape. If there's a way out, there is no conflict.
  2. The conflict must be plausible. Whatever the reason, the conflict must seem rational within the framework of the story.
  3. The intensity of the conflict(s) must vary throughout the story.
  4. Individuals should never go over the top for the sake of contradiction or effect. The conflict must justify the response.
  5. Only one conflict should be allowed to run through the entire book. Minor conflicts should interweave but for only relatively short periods.
  6. No chapter should be without conflict but it should vary in intensity, rising and falling throughout the book.
  7. The novel should start with the main problem, continue with obstacles of varying influence, then draw to a close with the resolution of the main problem.
  8. You must resolve the conflict you started with.
  9. You must leave no loose ends. All questions must be answered.
If anyone has anything to add, I'd love to hear from you.

Romantic Suspense

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Interview with author, Russell Ash

Tell Me a Story - interview

Russell Ash has been writing books forever.
I imagine most of us have read, or at least consulted some of his work at some time. Russell puts most writers to shame with the sheer volume and quality of words. For him, it isn't just words though, his books consume hours of research. I caught up with Russell a couple of days ago, and somehow he managed to fit in a few extra words for me.

See the full interview at The Author, Russell Ash


Right Write - 8 Cool Tips To Invoke Emotion
Story Brief - Balance, Proportion And Plot
20 Ways To Write A Story Better