Social Media – A Cautionary Tale

What do we do when Facebook changes the rules?

Source for Comic

As a writer I am constantly reading and hearing about the importance of my author platform and my own brand. But Social Media does not come naturally to me. Not only am I late adopter, but I have sometimes felt like a forced adopter. 

I finished reading the The Circle by Dave Eggers this weekend. I enjoyed the book. It was chilling. It is a work of fiction, but it certainly struck a chord. It is all about transparency, communication and connecting, but when are we too connected? When should it stop? What are the boundaries? The Circle starts out as platform similar to Facebook but it allows no anonymity and only one online identity. That means no trolls, no nameless comments, and no hacks. Dave Eggers creates a world where nothing is hidden, nothing is deleted and everything is shared. Everything. Sounds good, right?

It is written as a first person account of a woman who sounded as if she were joining a cult. It was a scary balance between believable and ridiculous, but Mae, the protagonist is so convinced the company is right that you have to keep shaking your head to remind yourself that it is a bad idea.

After I finished this book Amanda Patterson sent me a few links. We have been discussing the Writers Write views and likes and shares and tweets that these posts generate and how to improve them. We agree that we prefer organic growth and do not believe in paying to promote posts or paying for likes. Turns out we were right. Paying for likes doesn’t help, especially when that like is generated by a robot and not a person. You can read the full article here: The End of Facebook .There is also the problem of the filtered feed and how your reach decreases as your page size grows. Read the article here: Why Is Facebook Page Reach Decreasing?

It seems we are stuck between two extremes. Knowing too much and not knowing enough. Who gets to decide what we are privy to and what remains a secret? What is real and what is not?

Should people be allowed to post anonymously? Should we have multiple identities and hide behind pictures instead of real profile pictures? One true identity means that Facebook won’t be able to generate fake likes, but anonymity is my privilege is it not?

It sure made me think. I understand that it is silly to base my fears on a work of fiction, but it gives me pause. I am probably naïve to believe this hasn’t been happening all along. But my question is: Should I be investing as much time as I am as a writer on any platform that can be manipulated in a world that isn’t physical? I am sure the other social media platforms will be doing this soon, if they aren’t already. And if we don’t use social media what do we use?

 by Mia Botha

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

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za 

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International Day of the Book - 23 April - William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event on 23 April, organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It is hoped that World Book and Copyright Day will increase people's understanding of copyright laws and other measures to protect intellectual copyright.

In the United Kingdom, the day is instead recognised on the first Thursday in March.

World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on 23 April 1995. The date is symbolic for world literature. Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died on 23 April 1616. 

23 April has also been taken as Shakespeare's birthday (he was baptised on 26 April 1564, and his actual date of birth is unknown). This year, 2014, marks William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday.

The Top 12 Shakespeare Quotes

  1. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. (Julius Caesar)
  2. To be, or not to be: that is the question. (Hamlet)
  3. The course of true love never did run smooth. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  4. If I lose mine honour, I lose myself. (Antony and Cleopatra)
  5. All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. (As You Like It)
  6. Now is the winter of our discontent. (Richard III)
  7. Brevity is the soul of wit. (Hamlet)
  8. Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em. (Twelfth Night)
  9. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.  (All’s Well That Ends)
  10. Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow. (Romeo and Juliet)
  11. But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve. (Othello)
  12. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Hamlet)

A few fun Shakespeare facts

Source for Images

 by Amanda Patterson

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template

Last week, I wrote about the reasons we use persuasive writing in business. This week, I want to talk about the process.

Before you start writing, it is a good idea to ask these questions:

1. The Reason
Why are you writing this?
2. The Result
What do you want?
3. The Reader
Who are you writing for?
4. The Reader’s Needs
What is your reader’s emotional state?
5. The Response
What response do you want to achieve? Sales? Credibility? Awareness?
6. The Promise
What is the offering?
7. The Delivery
Why should the reader believe you are able to deliver?

Once you have done this, we recommend that you use our Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template to polish your argument. 

(Read about more about the Ethos, Logos, Pathos of persuasive writing.)

Email news@writerswrite.co.za to find out more about our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme. 

 by Amanda Patterson

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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Examples of Character Archetypes

We found this useful list of archetypes on Stephanie Morrill's website.

Stephanie is the author of The Ellie Sweet Series. These downloads are from Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book by Stephanie Morrill. Find more downloads here Free Downloads for Teen Writers

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za 

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Writing Tip - Between you and me

It is always correct to say ‘between you and me’. It is always incorrect to say ‘between you and I’. 

Read more about this common mistake here: Between you and me.

Email news@writerswrite.co.za to find out more about our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme. 

 by Amanda Patterson

Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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Eight Personality Disorders

We found these fun comics illustrating common traits associated with personality disorders by Julie Ha at Where's Cheese. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Follow the links below for more:

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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The Top 10 Writing Posts for March 2014

These were the Writers Write posts you enjoyed most in March 2014.

  1. Your Writing Style - Which famous writer's style is most like your own? 
  2. The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists  - Strong women in fiction
  3. 39 Synonyms for Run - A resource for writers
  4. Writing Children's Books - A Cheat Sheet
  5. Crime Writing for Beginners - An Infographic
  6. Reasons not to write a book - a comic for writers
  7. Commercial or Literary? What is the difference between a commercial and a literary plot? 
  8. Breaking the Blues – how to write even when you don’t feel like it 
  9. Writing Sex Scenes - Part One 
  10. Writing Sex Scenes - Part Two - Six Male Archetypes 

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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The Locked Room – A simple way to test your plot

A trapped character comes alive on the page or screen because he has to fight his way out a corner. The character has to push back against the predicament placed there by the plot—giving us conflict, intensity, and barriers we can define. The locked room is a way to interrogate your plot. 

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The character can be someone accused of murder who is trapped in a witness box by a dogged prosecutor. It can be a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and career, with no window or door to help her escape. It can be someone stuck in a deep depression or illness—the locked room is an inner demon or addiction.

It doesn’t matter. The idea is to put your character in a room. Lock the door, bar the windows, take away food and comfort— and see what happens. As a writer, you have to get him out the locked room.

  1. Who locked him in the room? 
  2. Why did they lock him in the room?
  3. Why does he need to get out the room? What will happen if he doesn’t get out the room?
  4. Is there anyone else or anything else in the room with him?
  5. How is he going to get out of the locked room? With force? Words? 

This is what the locked room could look like on the page:
A naïve young heiress is persuaded into an engagement with a wealthier older man. This is the 1920s—so the locked room is the morals, pressures and expectations of the period. She needs to get out of the relationship because she fears she will end up a miserable uptight snob like her mother. 
The only person who can understand, and help her, is a free-spirited and rebellious female journalist—who encourages her to break from her rich family and find her own identity.

When we’re writing or planning our stories, we sometimes wander off course. We have interesting characters doing things in great settings with some lovely description—but there’s no conflict or consequence. The locked room test is a great way to get back inside the plot.

As the writer Luke Short once said: ‘First I write myself onto a corner. Then I write myself out.’

 by Anthony Ehlers

Anthony has facilitated courses for Writers Write since 2007. Published both locally and internationally, he was twice a runner-up in the Mills&Boon Voice of Africa short story competition. In 2013, his crime short story was included in Bloody Satisfied, an anthology sponsored by the National Arts Festival SA.
As a scriptwriter, he has written three television features. In 2014, his short films were short-listed for the Jameson First Shot competition, as well as the European Independent Film Festival. Follow Anthony on Twitter and Facebook.

(Start writing your book with Writers Write - how to write a book on 10,17,24,31 May in Johannesburg.)

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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What your writing equipment says about you

Comic created by Writers Write at Someecards

We spend our days clicking away on our laptops, desktops, tablets and phones. We write memos and type reminders and fill documents using things like auto correction and spell check. We race the cursor and watch as our word count climbs, but when the electricity is off and the batteries need charging, we reveal our inner writer.

When you have to write by hand, what do your chosen tools say about you? 

  1. Pencil: Pencils can be either dark (B’s) or light (H’s). Writers who prefer pencils tend to be commitment phobic and flit from project to project. The lighter the pencil, the more insecure the writer. The darker the pencil the less the chance the person is actually a writer. They are most likely the talkers or visually impaired. Writers who use HB pencils should grow a pair and just commit to one of their projects. 
  2. Pen: Pens are divided by price and levels of self-censoring. The more expensive the pen the more repressed the writer and the more self-censoring occurs. The story is there, but because these writers refuse to be honest with themselves, their writing remains flat. Writers who choose pens however, are tenacious and will never give up, regardless of a disastrous plot or blatant and repeated rejection. Writers who like pens that click have obsessive personalities and will spend time in rehab at some point in their careers. 

Subcategory of the pen - Ink colour

  • Blue: You still write like you did at school. Long-winded essays wrought with unspecified adjectives and lazy adverbs. 
  • Black: You steal pens and you might actually make it as a writer if only you could get out of your own way. 
  • Red: You have masochistic tendencies. 
  • Green: There is something wrong with you, but as long as no one else gets hurt we’ll leave you be. 
  • Any other colour: Seek professional help. Immediately. 

Erasers and sharpeners: 

  1. Writers who choose pencils with erasers attached to the end tend to be skittish, fragile creatures who kill ideas faster than they can create them. The ideas might be good, but we never know because the ideas are erased as fast they are written.
  2. If a writer prefers a large eraser with sharp corners they are most likely a dark pencil user and not really a writer.
  3. If you have a tiny piece of rubber that used to be a big fat eraser you might actually have the ability to become a writer. 
  4. The same can be said about having a desk-mounted pencil sharpener - this is how you know you are indeed a writer. Regardless of the type of pencil used, this is the mark of a true wordsmith.
  5. Small, hand-held sharpeners can only be used in the direst of situations or on out-of-office writing days, and then only if they are embellished with some kind of animated character. 
  6. Writers who use Tippex are imposters and can’t write a word. Seriously, who waits for Tippex to dry?
  7. Lastly, if writers chew on their chosen implements, they are hungry and should be fed. 

If you have read through this entire post trying to find you ideal implement/corrector combo you have proved that you are indeed a writer and a master procrastinator. That said you should be writing and not reading posts about writing tools. Your implement does not dictate your writing fate. You do.

 by Mia Botha

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

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za 

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

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Literary Periods with a Timeline

The Literature Network created a graphical timeline representing literary periods and movements, as well as major events and authors, from literature history. To learn more about specific eras, browse through their Literary Periods page.
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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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Writers Write - Write to communicate