Dare To Compare – 5 Ways To Check If Your Ending Suits Your Genre

How will your story end? 

Will someone die?  Will your heroine walk away from a bad relationship? More importantly, is your ending consistent with the genre you’ve chosen?

I discovered a quick way to test your plot and put in forces that will make it stronger.  It shows you what has successfully worked for other stories and what could work for yours.

It’s a catastrophe

Say you’re writing a disaster or catastrophe story. Have a look at what happens in your favourite catastrophe films — and isolate what happens at the end. (Warning: spoiler alert)
  1. Titanic. After the doomed ship sinks, poor artist Jack dies in the icy water to allow upper class Kate to stay alive on a floating door. His self-sacrifice allows her heart to go on.
  2. Twister. Jo and Bill survive the final deadly tornado and prove that their research device is successful – they also manage to repair their estranged marriage.
  3. The Poseidon Adventure. A minister Scott — who believes God helps those who help themselves — sacrifices his own life by keeping a valve door open to allow the remaining six survivors to escape the capsized ocean liner.
  4. Outbreak. Sam manages to stop a disease-infected town from being bombed by an obsessed army Major – he averts a mass-scale tragedy. He also reconciles with his ex-wife.
  5. Armageddon. Astronaut Harry stays behind on a space mission to detonate a bomb to destroy an asteroid on a collision course with earth. Before he dies, he gives another young astronaut his blessing to marry his daughter.
What pattern emerges?

Immediately, you’ll spot some similarities between these movies that you can use to help your own story.
  • Firstly, it seems that the theme of self-sacrifice seems to be used a lot in catastrophe stories. Is it possible to have one of your main characters give his own life to save others?
  • Secondly, it seems that a love story is a popular subplot in this genre. Is your love interest playing a big enough role in the story? Have you created a relationship storyline that will balance out the action of the main storyline?
Avoiding the cliché

Of course, you don’t want to create a weak copy of a famous storyline or fall into a clichéd denouement, but keep in mind — these endings are used because they work. This is where the hard yards start. Now you have to find a way to make your final story points stronger, fresher, and more surprising. This is where you brainstorm, throw ideas around, sweat and pray into the early hours of the morning — until you have what works for your story!

Tip: You can do this exercise with other elements of the movies you choose — like the beginning or middle of a movie, or even the themes and types of characters.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

       by Anthony Ehlers

      If you enjoyed this post, read:

      ~~~~

      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

      Seven Ways Blogging Improves Your Writing


      Today, it seems that everyone is a blogger. Setting up a blog is simple. If your mother can set up a Facebook profile, chances are she will be able to set up a blog.  

      So, if it is that simple, why are you not blogging? Not everyone wants to write about his or her life. An online diary is seriously not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you spend time online, you will notice not all blogs are personal diaries.  Those, which are personal blogs, are well written and have compelling stories, and they are entertaining.

      As a writer, you should be building an author platform, so if you don’t want to tell us about your session in the gym you can tell us about your books, your writing and what you are reading. Start building relationships with your future readers now.

      If that is not enough motivation to get you blogging, consider these seven points:
      1. It gives you a deadline. Writers always perform better with deadlines. It forces you into a routine and helps you remain focussed.
      2. It gives you something else to write. Sometimes we need a break from our novels and blogging will help with that.
      3. It is a daily, weekly or monthly commitment that forces you to write. 
      4. The comments are great. They give you immediate feedback. However, some comments are not always great, but consider it a good way to start developing a thick skin.
      5. You can write about anything. It is a wonderful creative outlet. Consider it a place to explore and take risks with your writing that you wouldn’t usually take in a full-length novel.  
      6. Consistent blogging will help you create a body of work over time that comes in bite-sized chunks.
      7. It allows you to create a platform to promote your books.
      Blogging is a big commitment and it takes time, but it is worth the investment. Spend time online and find blogs that you enjoy. Then take the plunge and start your own blog. 

      If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media,  email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

      Source for mug: TheTrendySparrow

       by Mia Botha

      If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

      1. Six Reasons To Use A Sub-Plot
      2. The Three Surprises You Need In A Story
      3. So You Want To Be A Writer?

      ~~~~~

        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        Suspending Disbelief – Three Tips to Keep Your Reader Hooked


        I have been reviewing books for about a year and a half now, and it has been interesting to see what I like and don’t like in a book. A big deal-breaker for me is when a book requires too much suspension of disbelief. 

        What’s that?

        Suspension of disbelief can be defined as ‘the semi-conscious decision in which you put aside your disbelief and accept the premise as being real for the duration of the story.’ Instead of the disbelief you would normally experience when faced with something that isn’t real, you choose to suspend that disbelief. When an author stretches our willingness to do this to the extent that we feel betrayed, we give in to disbelief. At this point, I feel like throwing the book across the room.

        Walking a tightrope

        In our Writers Write course, we encourage writers to create characters that are larger than life. Their lives have to be more vivid than readers’ lives, or they won’t capture readers’ interest. Even when characters are intentionally dull and boring, they must be extraordinary in how dull and boring they are.  In doing this, the writer walks a tightrope. Characters need to be larger than life, but not be someone or do something that would make the reader say, ‘That’s so unrealistic. I’m outta here.’ 


        How do you, as writer, keep that balance?

        There are three simple tools you can use to keep readers willing to go along with your story. 
        1. Use simple language. Every time your reader has to exit the story world you’ve created because of an unrecognisable word, you put strain on the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief. It’s jarring, much like popping your car into third gear on the highway. It doesn’t mean you can’t create beautiful sentences. Just don’t be so taken with your own vocabulary that you make it difficult for the reader to experience the world you’ve created.
        2. Maintain internal consistency. Confession time. My husband and I are total Trekkies. In fact, we love all things sci-fi. Occasionally, he laments the fact that a sci-fi movie wasn’t plausible. Of course, I find the irony delightful, because nothing calls for the suspension of disbelief like an alien with three heads. Yet, we happily do it. The reason? It doesn’t matter how weird a story is, it remains believable as long as it is internally consistent. The moment you lose internal consistency, you lose the reader. Think of continuity errors in a film that sabotage its credibility. Never let ‘em see the zip in the back of the alien costume, folks. 
        3. Create flawed characters. Some genres are more lenient when it comes to having a ‘superhero’ character. This kind of character can intercept and decipher encrypted messages, single-handedly track down the evil leader of a crime syndicate, kill all 48 of his bodyguards while only sustaining flesh wounds, defuse a nuclear bomb in 30 seconds, and save the world by killing said leader. Readers tend to be okay with this … to a point. If he also does his taxes on time, donates to charity, is a brilliant kisser, and can roast a leg of lamb, you’ll lose them. Create plausible characters whose traits and reactions line up with each other. Let your character smoke, despite the fact that his mom died of lung cancer. Let him forget to feed the cat. Give him scars that don’t look cool. 
        Here’s to keeping it as real as one can in fiction. Happy writing!

        If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

          by Donna Radley

        If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

        ~~~

        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

        Social Media 101 - What is Facebook?

        In last Monday's post, I wrote about the importance of blogging in social media. Today I am going to talk about Facebook. 

        What is Facebook?

        The network allows users to share content and conversations, create events and, more recently, add targeted advertisements. A public page allows you to establish a direct link to your readers through wall posts, discussions, and polls.

        Why is it important?

        Facebook is the world's largest social network and it is one of the most powerful social media platforms because of this. 

        How to set up a Facebook page
        1. Go to facebook.com/pages/create.
        2. Click to choose a Page category.
        3. Select a more specific category from the dropdown menu and fill out the required information.
        4. Click Get Started and follow the on-screen instructions.
        Or visit How do I create a Page? on Facebook

        How to use Facebook

        You should generate new and nurture existing relationships with followers. Because users choose what to look at and what to share, you can grow a loyal, relevant, industry-specific fan base. Facebook is about a long-term commitment and you will have to work hard and spend time before you reap the rewards. 

        You can use it to:
        1. Link to your blog posts, videos, and website content.
        2. Create discussions around your products and services.
        3. Read and respond directly to comments and questions from people all over the world.
        4. Post external links to news that will be of interest to your followers.
        5. Target specific demographics with Facebook advertising. You can track the advert with Facebook analytics, which are available to every Facebook page, and are easy to use and understand.
        To succeed on Facebook

        Make use of the Insights section for your page. You will have access to all the information you want, including where followers find your page, which countries and cities they come from, gender breakdowns, which posts are successful, how many new followers you have, and how many click through links your post has generated

        Facebook tips

        Facebook is not about selling. It really is about sharing your stories. Your goal is to let customers get to know your brand, and sometimes the people behind the logo. Show your business in a friendly light. Show it as a place where customers are treated well.
        1. Give your followers lots of free information. Entertain them with links to blog posts that amuse, inspire and inform. 
        2. Focus each post on a single subject and include a question, link, or call to action to boost engagement. 
        3. Share quotations that are relevant to your brand. 
        4. Share cartoons and pictures that relate to your industry. Ask users for feedback.
        5. Post regularly. A week-long absence is a lifetime in social media. 
        6. Use a conversational tone and avoid marketing and sales jargon. Do not flood your page with special offers or advertise directly on your page. 
        7. Make sure every link or post is valuable in some way for your followers. Your blog needs to be continually updated so that you can share posts about your brand on this page. 
        8. Add appropriate comments when linking to anything. 
        9. Address customer complaints quickly and cleanly. Take lengthy back-and-forth type of complaints to email, or offer to call the customer. If the discussion turns negative, then it is open to the trolls and it degenerates into a bloodbath.

        If you want to learn how to write for social media,  email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

          Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter

          If you enjoyed this post, read:

          ~~~~~

          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          August 2015 - In Writing

          Course

          Description

          August 2015

          Writers Write

          How to write a book

          3-6

          The Plain Language Programme

          Advanced business writing

          18-19

          The Social Brand

          How to write for social media

          20

          kids etc.

          How to write for children

          15

          Secrets of a Memoirist

          How to write a memoir

          24-27

          If you want more details, please email news@writerswrite.co.za

          ~~~~~

          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          The Benefits of Reading - An Infographic

          'A man’s bookcase will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about him.' ~Walter Mosley

          At Writers Write, we know reading makes us feel better and we love collecting quotes by famous writers on reading. We also know it makes us better writers - in business and in novel-writing. We recently posted an article on how reading is vital for human development. It has also been said that reading different genres could improve different aspects of your writing.

          This infographic, from Raphael Lysander’s blog, The Metamorphosis Journal, explains why reading is so good for us.

          If you enjoyed this post, read these:

          ~~~~~

          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

          How A Believable Theme Builds A Believable Plot

          If you’re struggling to find a plot — and a plot strong enough to hold your entire story together — going back to the theme of your story is never a bad idea. Plot is theme in action.

          Theme doesn’t have to be seen as some grand concept or the preserve of literary fiction. It’s just the way you see and question the world around you, or your opinion on a subject that intrigues you — in short, what you believe. If you believe in your theme, you’re more likely to build a believable plot. What do you believe?

          Example One

          Theme: You believe that a mother’s love for her child will always be stronger than that for anyone else.

          Plot:

          1. In the year 2115, children are separated from their mothers to be raised in a special government programme — but your heroine feels a strange devastation when her child is taken away.
          2. In the middle of the story, she has infiltrated the programme and is almost convinced the programme is the right approach to child rearing until she sees how one aggressive child is subdued by drugs.
          3. In the end, she has to make a choice if she will save just her child or risk losing her child to save even more children. What do you think she does?

          Example Two

          Theme: You believe that there’s always a second chance at love even if you’ve had your heart broken before.

          Plot:
          1. After being left by her high school sweetheart, your young heroine is so heartbroken she gets drunk, causes a public disturbance, and is sentenced to community service where she meets a bad-boy pop star.
          2. In the middle of the book, she is starting to trust the pop star – especially when she learns that he’s had heartbreak of his own in the past and his bad-boy image is just a mask.
          3. At the end of the story, when she learns that the pop star has been arrested again, she is thrown by the news — even when he tells her it’s been a misunderstanding. Does she believe in him or does she suffer another heartbreak?

          Plot is a way to explore your theme.

          It’s a way to test what you believe as the writer through your characters. If for example, in the sci-fi story, your heroine goes back to save the other kids – does this change what the writer believes? If, in the romantic comedy, she rejects the pop star — does that undermine our belief in the ‘happily ever after’?

          Once you starting digging into and exploring your theme, you’ll start coming up with great conflict points to build out your plot.

          If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

               by Anthony Ehlers

              If you enjoyed this post, read:

              ~~~~

              Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

              Six Reasons To Use A Sub-Plot


              When it rains it pours, right? When you have a huge project due at work on Friday, your kids get sick, your car breaks down and your computer dies for no apparent reason. The same thing should happen to your protagonist. 

              Just because your protagonists must do everything in their power to achieve their goals, it doesn’t mean that it is the only thing they must do. Nothing happens in isolation. That is where the sub-plot comes in.

              What does a sub-plot do? 
              1. A sub-plot adds to the tension and pace of a story.
              2. It is a great alternative source of conflict.
              3. It helps to show your characters as rounded people. Using characters like the friend and the love interest are great for sub-plots. Think whacky best friend or emotionally unstable love interest
              4. It can provide comic relief or lightness to a heavy story line or it can add weight to a light- hearted story. 
              5. It can help you to explore or illustrate the theme.
              6. It can help you increase your word count if you are a few thousand short.  

              There are a few things you should keep in mind: 

              1. Introduce your sub-plot only after you have introduced your protagonist and antagonist and after you have established the story goal and the threat to that goal. 
              2. The sub-plot must relate to the main plot. 
              3. Make sure the sub-plot doesn’t overshadow your main story. If you are writing a crime novel, but 50% of the scenes are dedicated to the detective’s love life, you should reconsider your genre. 
              4. Alternate the sub-plot with your plot regularly. Where and when it fits depends on you and your story.     
              5. Tie up your sub-plots in the third part of your book. Resolve the least important first, but it is a good idea to leave the romantic interest (if there is one) for last. It makes us happy.
              6.  Do not leave a sub-plot unresolved. 
              7. Try to keep your sub-plots down to two. Too many sub-plots spoil the story. 
              8. Choose scenarios that would fit naturally into your protagonist’s life. That is why the friend character and the love interest are great to use. They are already there.  
              There are as many devices and ideas for sub-plots as there are story ideas. This is the part I plan the least; the sub-plots develop and become clearer as I get to know more about the characters and the story. 

              Happy sub-plotting.

              If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

               by Mia Botha

              If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

              1. The Three Surprises You Need In A Story
              2. So You Want To Be A Writer?
              3. Identify Your Protagonist And Antagonist

              ~~~~~

                Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

                Ernest Hemingway – How he changed the writing landscape


                21 July is the anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birthday

                One of the greats

                Ernest Hemingway, born 21 July 1899, was one of the great American novelists of the 20th century. From the 1920s to the 1950s, he produced seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. 

                His life was an adventurous, but chequered one. He was an ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War 1 and was present at the D-Day landings in Normandy in World War 2. He married four times and divorced three times. He was a functioning alcoholic all his life. After struggling with depression in later years, he committed suicide just as his father had, on 2 July 1961.


                His inspiration

                The inspiration for his first novel came while living in Paris as a foreign correspondent. It was here that he made friends with other artists and writers who would shape his literary life. Among them were Ezra Pound, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein, who became his mentor for a time. He was a key part of what Stein called ‘The Lost Generation’, which was the generation that came of age during World War 1 and bore its mark indelibly. 

                His writing style

                His writing style is distinctively lean and economical. This is thanks to his journalistic background and his willingness to swim upstream from the elaborate prose popular in his day. His tight style and declarative sentences changed the landscape of American literature, and his writing continues to impact readers and writers alike.

                10 Hemingway Quotes On Writing
                1. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
                2. There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
                3. Write hard and clear about what hurts.
                4. All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.
                5. The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
                6. If a writer stops observing, he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.
                7. I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.
                8. Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
                9. The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.
                10. It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

                If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

                  by Donna Radley

                If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

                ~~~

                Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

                Social Media 101 - What is a blog?

                Sometimes the world of social media seems overwhelming. Over the next few weeks, I will post a series called Social Media 101. I will include the basics of what you need to know about blogs and social media platforms. I am going to start with blogging.

                What is a blog?

                blog is a website in the form of a diary. Originally known as a weblog, a blog allows individuals or companies to write regularly about topics that are important to them and that offer value to their followers. A blog has up-to-date written content and includes photos, cartoons, videos, Infographics, and links. It also allows readers to comment on posts. 

                Why is it important?

                In social media marketing, your blog is your base. Without it, you will have nothing new to offer your followers and they will lose interest in your static website.

                How to set up a blog

                There are many sites that offer free blogging. Tumblr or WordPress are good blogging platforms for beginners. Both sites offer free templates and tutorials and you do not need any special skills. WPBeginner is a free WordPress resource site for beginners. If you want a specific design, use Elance or fiverr to find a designer at a reasonable price.

                How to use your blog
                1. Find a group of talented content creators who will help you write for your blog. Use people who work for you or who consult for your company. They understand your brand and they know what your followers want.
                2. You can decide on how many articles you want to feature daily or weekly on your blog. The more types of content you have, the more material you will have to share across your social media platforms.
                3. If you post on your blog regularly, you will increase your visibility in Google searches and you will promote your writers as experts in their fields.
                4. Keep an eye on the calendar for events that are important to your brand. At Writers Write, we take advantage of literary events such as National Novel Writing Month, Banned Books Week, International Literacy Day, the anniversaries of book releases, literary prizes, and famous authors’ birthdays. We also use celebrations as themes for posts, for example, Mother's Day and Father's Day. We try to plan blog posts around these dates.
                5. Create a set of blogging guidelines for your contributors.
                To succeed in blogging
                • Blog about something that drives, motivates, inspires, and interests you. Do not blog if you are not passionate about your subject. Readers will see through the pretence. It is even better if you choose a topic where you can show your expertise.
                • Be prepared to make a long-term commitment if you want to start a blog. If you do, you will be rewarded. Your creativity and passion will have an outlet and you will build a following in a community that supports your interests. 
                Three blogging tips
                1. Your posts should be easy-to-read. Use a simple font. Do not have more than two or three colours on your page. Make sure you have lots of white space. Use bullet points. Avoid flashing images.
                2. Include images in every post. Create your own templates or use free photographs from a site such as Pixabay. You can also include media, such as videos and podcasts.
                3. Take it seriously. Treat blogging as a job, or a dedicated hobby, with deadlines and rules, and people will follow you.

                If you want to learn how to write for social media,  email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

                ~~~~~

                Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate