Three Ways To Take The Twit Out Of Twitter

The Tweet (with a capital T)

Justine Sacco. Does the name ring a bell? Try ex-senior director of corporate communications for IAC. No? Okay, try: Justine who tweeted ‘Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!’ before she boarded her international flight, and was fired by the time she landed in Cape Town. Yes. That Justine Sacco.


What was she thinking?

Jon Ronson, journalist and bestselling author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, interviewed Justine three weeks after her trip to South Africa. She said, ‘Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the third world. I was making fun of that bubble.’ What was seen as a racist tweet born out of white privilege was actually intended as a reflexive critique of that very privilege.

Sadly, most people will probably remember Justine for what she said, and not what she meant to say.

Remember these three tips when tweeting:
  1. Cover all the angles: world views are as varied as the people who hold them. Draw up a mental checklist of all the possible audiences that could read your words, and view what you’ve written from their perspective … pre-tweet.
  2. Work those words: after you’ve constructed your tweet, keep rewriting it until it can’t be misunderstood.
  3. Let it lie: don’t give in to the urge to tweet immediately so you can say something clever or funny ahead of everyone else. Cultivate the habit of letting time elapse between when you type your tweet and tweet it, even if it’s only a few minutes. Those few minutes could save you a lot of pain later.

 by Donna Radley

Donna is a creative writer who has tinkered with words for years. She has written newsletters and online articles, translated a book, and edited a variety of documents. She also reviews books. She owned her own training business and now facilitates The Plain Language Programme for Writers Write. She is currently working on her novel, which involves drinking lots of sweet tea. You can view her profile on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.  

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Dr Seuss On Writing

Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist who published 46 children’s book including Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. His works have been adapted for television, film, and theatre. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award twice.

Today is the anniversary of Dr Seuss’s birthday. He was born 2 March 1904, and died 24 September 1991.

His birthday has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative created by the National Education Association.

Six Quotes
  1. You can fool an adult into thinking he’s reading profundities by sprinkling your prose with purple passages. But with a kid you can’t get away with that. Two sentences in a children’s book is the equivalent of two chapters in an adult book. For a 60-page book I’ll probably write 500 pages. I think that’s why it works. I winnow out.
  2. Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.
  3. Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humour, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humour has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack.
  4. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it alive and vital. Virtually every page is a cliff-hanger—you’ve got to force them to turn it.
  5. You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
  6. I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it’s fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. It’s very flattering, that laugh, and at the same time it gives pleasure to the audience and accomplishes more than writing very serious things. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that’s an exaggeration. It isn’t.
Dr Seuss On Writing

It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is.

Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the United States Army, where he wrote Design for Death, which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

 by Amanda Patterson. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature courses are  Writers Write,  The Plain Language Programme, and  The Social Brand. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Understanding Phrasal Verbs - Two Word Verbs with ‘bring’

'Phrasal verbs' are two word verbs with meaning beyond the individual words. This infographic illustrates phrasal verbs using 'bring'. (See the previous post using 'get'.)

Source for Poster: Grammar.Net

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If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

John Steinbeck - 'A morally bankrupt turn of events'

Today is the anniversary of John Steinbeck's Birthday. He was born 27 February 1902, and died 20 December 1968. 

Steinbeck is well-known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and the novella Of Mice and Men. He wrote 27 books and five collections of short stories. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Before he became a full-time writer, he worked as a caretaker and a tour guide at a fish hatchery. He had a deep affection for great teachers - 'I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.'

In 1959, he wrote about the greed and cynical immorality that was becoming part of everyday life in America. We wonder what he would have to say today.

We found this letter on Letters of Note

In November of 1959, as a shocked American public were hit with the news that a number of their favourite quiz shows had been rigged for some time, author John Steinbeck wrote the following letter to his friend, politician, Adlai Stevenson, and spoke of his concern at such a morally bankrupt turn of events occurring in his increasingly gluttonous country.

New York
1959
Guy Fawkes Day

Dear Adlai,

Back from Camelot, and, reading the papers, not at all sure it was wise. Two first impressions. First, a creeping, all pervading nerve-gas of immorality which starts in the nursery and does not stop before it reaches the highest offices both corporate and governmental. Two, a nervous restlessness, a hunger, a thirst, a yearning for something unknown—perhaps morality. Then there's the violence, cruelty and hypocrisy symptomatic of a people which has too much, and last, the surly ill-temper which only shows up in human when they are frightened.

Adlai, do you remember two kinds of Christmases? There is one kind in a house where there is little and a present represents not only love but sacrifice. The one single package is opened with a kind of slow wonder, almost reverence. Once I gave my youngest boy, who loves all living things, a dwarf, peach-faced parrot for Christmas. He removed the paper and then retreated a little shyly and looked at the little bird for a long time. And finally he said in a whisper, "Now who would have ever thought that I would have a peach-faced parrot?" 

Then there is the other kind of Christmas with present piled high, the gifts of guilty parents as bribes because they have nothing else to give. The wrappings are ripped off and the presents thrown down and at the end the child says—"Is that all?" Well, it seems to me that America now is like that second kind of Christmas. Having too many THINGS they spend their hours and money on the couch searching for a soul. A strange species we are. We can stand anything God and nature can throw at us save only plenty. If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick. And then I think of our "Daily" in Somerset, who served your lunch. She made a teddy bear with her own hands for our grandchild. Made it out of an old bath towel dyed brown and it is beautiful. She said, "Sometimes when I have a bit of rabbit fur, they come out lovelier." Now there is a present. And that obviously male teddy bear is going to be called for all time MIZ Hicks.

When I left Bruton, I checked out with Officer 'Arris, the lone policeman who kept the peace in five villages, unarmed and on a bicycle. He had been very kind to us and I took him a bottle of Bourbon whiskey. But I felt it necessary to say—"It's a touch of Christmas cheer, officer, and you can't consider it a bribe because I don't want anything and I am going away..." He blushed and said, "Thank you, sir, but there was no need." To which I replied—"If there had been, I would not have brought it."

Mainly, Adlai, I am troubled by the cynical immorality of my country. I do not think it can survive on this basis and unless some kind of catastrophe strikes us, we are lost. But by our very attitudes we are drawing catastrophe to ourselves. What we have beaten in nature, we cannot conquer in ourselves.

Someone has to reinspect our system and that soon. We can't expect to raise our children to be good and honorable men when the city, the state, the government, the corporations all offer higher rewards for chicanery and deceit than probity and truth. On all levels it is rigged, Adlai. Maybe nothing can be done about it, but I am stupid enough and naively hopeful enough to want to try. How about you?

Yours,

John
Read these 18 famous quotes by John Steinbeck

Source for Image

 by Amanda Patterson. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Follow her on  Facebook,  Pinterest,  Google+,  Tumblr and  Twitter.  

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

The Writer's Journey – Three ways to craft your future

Last week I wrote about The Writer's Journey - Five exercises to get you started. This week, I want to offer three ways to help you craft your future.

As you start to explore writing with more confidence, you start to get passionate about the craft of writing. Just as an artist spends months and months learning to sketch a hand, or a sculptor making hundreds of woodcarvings, this practice grounds us. Write every day. It gives us a baseline, a foundation, a sense of security.

1. Tear into it

In her book, Practical Tips for Writing Popular Fiction (Writers Digest), novelist Robyn Carr suggests you study fiction to become a better writer. This is great advice. Read a book once as a dreamer, a second time as detective. Start looking at how other authors are doing it. How do they structure their sentences? How much dialogue do they use? What are the main plot points? Don’t just do it on good books but on those that disappointed you. Try to find the knocks in the engine.

Picasso said to copy others was necessary but to copy yourself is pathetic. That’s a good point. I’m not suggesting you copy or steal other stories – but to look at the structure behind the stories of others. You then start to use this to build your own stories.

Tip: Type out the first page or chapter of a novel you’ve read. You’ll be so close to the work, you’ll see the structure emerge first hand.

2. It’s in the detail

When learning our craft, we learn to pay careful attention to detail. We start to see how important it is to paint our words with the right colour, shape and size. The right detail makes your writing come to life, and helps us build a believable story world.  Sometimes we forget that what we see in our minds as writers isn’t available to the reader – we have to make sure it’s on the page. We learn to gather and organise these so they draw the reader in.

Tip: Visit a coffee shop. Write down all the fascinating and mundane descriptive details. Fill a page or ten pages.  Find the ones that give a mental picture of the place. Choose just five sentences from your pages that give the best ‘snapshot’.

3. Take off the training wheels

Reading and studying about the craft of writing can teach us a lot – and writing is about learning and improving all the time. But ‘studying’ can also turn into a form or procrastination. We don’t get back to our stories and put (perfect) theory into (sometimes-clumsy) practice. 

We all have our own approaches to writing. No one can tell you how writing will work in your life and your career. This is something you have for figure out for yourself.  But as they say: ‘Learn the rules before you break them.’

Tip: Have a Journalist Day. Find the one event in your day – or even a friend’s day – and write a 300-word article, poem or mini-story about it. Give yourself a 5pm deadline. Keep it. Get in the habit to writing to a deadline. 

Making up stories is easy. Finding the language, structure and focus to shape your imagination into a novel, screenplay or short story is a lot of hard work.

If you enjoyed this post, read:

 by Anthony Ehlers

Anthony Ehlers is a reluctant blogger. A child of the 70s, he’s a late converter to the (sometimes scary) world of social media. As a creative writing facilitator, he loves sharing ideas around storytelling and the blog post is another way to reach out to fellow writers no matter their stage of the journey. He always encourages delegates with energy, humour and his insights into novels, short stories and scriptwriting. He sometimes lurks on Facebook and flits on to a branch of Twitter  when his Inbox is empty (which isn’t a lot these days).

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Four ways to remove padding words

Modifiers and qualifiers are padding words that add little to your writing, but they sneak in anyway. Take note of the words: a bit, a lot of, almost, every, nearly, quite, and very. Also, consider your use of adverbs and adjectives in general.

Look at what happens when we use them.

Example 1: 

Jane was a bit nervous. This was her first night. The bar was very full. It was half-price drink night. 
“Waitress, get your sexy little ass over here,” the very hairy man called loudly. He hit the table quite viciously with his fist.   
Jane was very annoyed, but walked quickly to get to his table. 
“About bloody time,” he said, looking at her rudely. 
The tray nearly tipped and she almost spilled the drinks all over the man. He ducked a bit avoiding the tray, but she luckily managed to right it before it fell. It was a bit noisy and she had to speak up, “I’m sorry.” She smiled and placed the drinks on the table. Hoping he wouldn’t complain to the manger. 
She nodded and was just about to turn when he put his fat hairy hand on her butt and squeezed.  She was quite offended. 
Then he said, “Thanks babe, no need to apologise. I’ll duck under you any time.” 
Her smile remained very firmly in place as she leaned back over the table. He looked very excited. 
She moved a little closer, pushed his chin up with her finger, forcing him to look at her. 
“Like you said - no need to apologise.” She took his beer and poured it all over his lap. She walked very slowly back to the counter.


Look at what happens when we remove them.

Example 2:

Jane clung to the black plastic tray. Her first night, half-price drink night. The place was teeming, a mass of semi-pissed humanity. 
“Waitress, get your sexy little ass over here,” the hairy ogre bellowed and slammed his fist on the table. More than semi-pissed already.
Biting back a retort, she strode to him. 
“About bloody time,” he said, casting his beady red eye over her. 
The tray tipped, the glasses teetered on the brink, but she saved them in time. He ducked, avoiding the tray. Pity. 
The music thumped, she raised her voice, “I’m sorry.” She smiled, arranging the drinks on the table. Hoping he wouldn’t complain to the manger. 
She nodded and turned to leave. His hand snaked around her, his thick fingers sinking into her butt. He squeezed harder. 
“Thanks babe, no need to apologise. I’ll duck under you any time.” 
Fury blossom, but her smile remained in place as she leaned back over the table.
He licked his pink, fish lips in anticipation, his eyes glued to her chest.
She moved closer, tilted his head up with her finger, forcing him to look at her. 
“Like you said - no need to apologise.” She tipped his beer into his lap and strolled back to the counter. 

Regardless of Jane’s career prospects (I believe the manager was cheering her on from behind the bar) we can tell more about the story in the second example than we can in the first. It is also simpler, stronger and easier to read.

Try the following:

  1. Remove modifiers and qualifiers. Most of them are supporting weak nouns and verbs.
  2. Use strong nouns instead of adjectives. Be specific.
  3. Use strong verbs instead of adverbs of manner. Be specific. 
  4. Show. Don’t tell. Always. 
The more you practise, the easier it will get. 

Happy writing. 

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. Three Steps To Help You Write Brilliant Descriptions
  2. Active vs Passive
  3. Five Incredibly Simple Ways To Help Writers Show And Not Tell 
  4. This Theme Thing
  5. Why you need strong verbs when you write

Mia Botha facilitates for Writers Write. She is also a novelist, a ghost writer, and the winner of the Mills&Boon Voice of Africa Competition. When she isn’t writing, she is the mother of two children and the wife of a very lucky man. Follow Mia on Pinterest and Facebook and  Tumblr and  Twitter.

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

    Writers Write - Write to communicate

    Six Simple Ways To Handle Viewpoint Changes

    What is viewpoint?

    Our viewpoint (point of view) characters are the filters through which we tell the reader the story. Once we have decided on a character, we need to choose a viewpoint for him or her. We have three choices: first person, second person, and third person.

    It is important to know which viewpoint you are going to choose when you tell your story. Most authors prefer third and first person. It is unusual to use second person, but it can be effective.

    How do we know which viewpoint to use? Read 10 Ways to Tell a Story

    Using third person is the usual way of writing a novel. Readers, agents and editors like this format because it is flexible, accepted and easy to use. It is used in most genres and it is good for action-packed plots, particularly in the crime, family saga, fantasy, and science fiction genres. Multiple viewpoint characters in third person offer the author many plotting options and this technique has been used in countless best-sellers.

    However, I become irritated when I do not know which filter the author is using. This usually happens when the characters are too similar, or when the author head-hops (switches viewpoint) in one scene, or when the author has not made the change in viewpoint clear. All of these problems show an author’s inexperience. How do we prevent this from happening?

    Six Simple Ways To Ensure That Viewpoint Changes Work
    1. Limit the number of viewpoint characters in a book. As a rule, you should have three or four viewpoint characters in an 80 000-word novel. There is nothing that annoys a busy reader more than having to get used to 15 viewpoint characters who are not vital for the telling of the story.
    2. Rotate the viewpoint characters regularly. The most important characters get the largest number of scenes; the minor characters get the others. Make sure that you do not leave a viewpoint character out of the book for so long that we wonder who it is when he or she reappears. 
    3. Introduce your viewpoint characters in the first chapters of your novel. I will abandon a novel if a new viewpoint character is introduced more than a quarter of the way through the book. I have spent time getting to know everyone and I am emotionally invested in the story. Then the author throws an amateurish curve ball into the mix. Do not do it.
    4. Show viewpoint changes by a chapter break or a scene break. Give your reader a chance to breathe and adjust to the change. The start of a new scene or chapter will do the trick. There is little chance of confusion if you stick to this.
    5. Show which viewpoint character it is within the first few sentences after a break. You can do this by naming the character or having someone name him or her. If you are writing in multiple first person viewpoints, you can simply put the character’s name at the start of the chapter or scene.
    6. Make sure that each character is unique. I want each viewpoint character to act as a unique filter for your story. If they are too similar, I will become confused. As a reader and writing teacher, I will wonder why you have not bothered to make this clear. Try to imagine the story from each character’s perspective through their five senses, their backgrounds, their motivations and their goals.

    Once you have covered these six points, you should not have problems with changes in viewpoint.

    If you enjoyed this post, read:

     by Amanda Patterson. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

    © Amanda Patterson

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

    Writers Write - Write to communicate

    Why you can't postpone investing in social media

    The Internet brings Writers Write more than 90% of its business. Almost every query we have for a course, a consultation, or a service originates through social media channels and our blog. Placing content in print media, on the radio or billboards would be a waste of time and money for us. 

    If you look at the statistics below, we know we're not the only ones. South Africans spend more time on the Internet than Americans and Europeans. 

    Last year, social media users increased from 2 billion to 3 billion users. It is mind-boggling, but it cannot be ignored. 

    The graphs from this report includes statistics for more than 240 countries, and it profiles 30 of the world’s biggest economies, including South Africa.

    The average internet user spends 4 hours and 25 minutes using the net each day. South Africans average more than 5 hours of use per day:

    Source for Image: wearesocial.net

    The average social media user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using social networks and microblogs. South Africans spend 3 hours and 12 minutes every day on social media.

    Source for Image: wearesocial.net

    Simply having a social media presence will not bring you business. Mindlessly tweeting and posting special offers on Facebook will not work. Social media without a blog will not work. You have to learn how to use it so that you can turn it into a reward for your business. 

    If you want to find out more about how social media works, join us for The Social Brand, our social media workshop

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    If you enjoyed this post read:

    1. Social Media Explained
    2. The Seven Points You Need To Build A Story For Your Business
    3. Social networks need a ‘constant gardener’ to grow and sustain them
    4. The Most Important Lesson for Building a Social Media Following - Being There
    5. Three Top Tips for Writing for Social Media

    News Alert: Writers Write has been announced as one of the Top 50 Writing Blogs of 2015. We were also named one of the 13 Great Facebook Pages for Writers

     by Amanda Patterson. Her signature courses are Writers Write,  The Plain Language Programme, and  The Social Brand. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.  

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

    Writers Write - Write to communicate

    March 2015 - In Writing


    Courses in March 2015

    Writers Write

    How to Write a Book

    9-12 March

    Writers Write

    How to write a Book

    7,14,21,28 March

    The Plain Language Programme

    Advanced Business Writing

    17-18 March

    Kids etc.

    How to write Children’s Books

    1 March

    If you want more details on any of these, please email news@writerswrite.co.za

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

    Writers Write - Write to communicate

    The Opposite Habits of Famous Writers

    Mike Hanski has created this wonderful Infographic detailing the habits and preferences of famous writers across the centuries. You can read his full post here.

    Source for Infographic: Bid 4 Papers

    If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

    1. Writers of Substance (Abuse) - Famous Writers and their Addictions
    2. 50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected 
    3. The Fascinating Writing Habits of 31 Famous Authors
    4. 17 Authors Being Honest

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

    Writers Write - Write to communicate