37 Fictional Drugs And Substances - Infographic

If anyone offers you Moloko Plus or Morphling, you'll know to say no after you read this infographic of fictional drugs and substances.

Source: J.Adler and Associates 

If you enjoyed this infographic, look at these:

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

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

The Top 10 Writing Posts From November 2016

These were the new Writers Write posts you enjoyed most in November 2016:

  1. 127 Prompts To Finish Before You Write About Yourself
  2. 6 Ways To Shorten Your Sentences And Improve Your Writing
  3. 10 Ways To Create Dangerously Nuanced Antagonists
  4. Stay On Track With Our NaNoWriMo 2016 Calendar
  5. P.S. It's Time To Remove Those Adverbial Dialogue Tags
  6. Why You Should Not Use Nominalisations When You Write
  7. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 44: White Hot Writer – 7 Tricks To Write Faster
  8. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 46: 3 Lessons On Theme, Character, And Plot
  9. 33 Commonly Misunderstood Words & Phrases
  10. 12 Common Writing Mistakes Bloggers Make

Previous Posts

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

Writers Write - Our Book Reviews - December 2016

We have 60 books for you this month. We hope you find one or two that you will enjoy reading from the list. If you haven't read our reviews before, we have a rating system, which is explained below. 

Our reviewers rate books from 1–5
  1. For use as a doorstop only
  2. Keep for publishers’ and booksellers’ strikes
  3. A great holiday read
  4. You’ll remember this with enthusiasm a month later
  5. Unforgettable

If you're looking for reviewing tips, read our popular post: How To Write A Great Book Review.

Here are the reviews:

  1. 113 Minutes by James Patterson with Max DiLallo (Book Shots)
  2. Adam's Navel by Michael Sims (Penguin)
  3. ADHD Nation by Alan Schwarz (Little, Brown) 
  4. Africa Solo: my world record race from Cairo to Cape Town by Mark Beaumont (Bantam Press)
  5. Agents Of The State by Mike Nicol (Umuzi) 4/5
  6. Andy And His Magic Phone Visit The World Next Door by Kim Ebner (Struik Children)
  7. Awakening The Heroes Within by Carol S Pearson (Harper Elixir)
  8. Beyond The High Blue Air by Lu Spinney (Atlantic Books) 
  9. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah (Macmillan) 5/5
  10. Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding (Jonathan Cape) 
  11. Broke And Broken by Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki (Blackbird Books)
  12. Christmas Under The Stars by Karen Swan (Pan Macmillan) 4/5
  13. Conclave by Robert Harris (Hutchinson) 5/5
  14. Double Echo by Francois Bloemhof (Penguin)
  15. Duty And Honour (Jack Ryan Universe #21) by Grant Blackwood (Michael Joseph)
  16. Elephant Dawn by Sharon Pincott (Jacana) 5/5
  17. Fear Of Dying by Erica Jong (Canongate)
  18. Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett (Penguin) 5/5
  19. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (Mantle) 4/5
  20. Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Hamish Hamilton)
  21. Insanely Gifted by Jamie Catto (Canon Gate) 5/5
  22. Jack Simons: Teacher, Scholar, Comrade by Hugh Macmillan (Jacana) 4/5
  23. Lament For The Fallen by Gavin Chait (Doubleday)
  24. Managing Diabetes by Dr Arien van der Merwe (Human & Rousseau)
  25. More Braai The Beloved Country by Jean Nel (Jacana) 5/5
  26. Never Go Back by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
  27. Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox (Century)
  28. Nomad by James Swallow (Macmillan) 4/5
  29. Nutshell by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape) 4/5
  30. Orphans Of The Carnival by Carol Birch (Canongate) 4/5
  31. Ratner’s Star by Don Delillo (Picador)
  32. Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me by Andy Martin (Bantam Press)
  33. Sbonelo Snoop by Sarah Groves (Struik Children)
  34. Shepherds And Butchers by Chris Marnewick (Umuzi) 4/5
  35. South by Frank Owen (Corvus)
  36. Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker (Twenty7) 
  37. Tannie Maria & The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrews (Umuzi) 4/5
  38. Terrestrial Game Birds & Snipes Of Africa by Rob Little (Jacana) 5/5
  39. The Affair by Sue Hickey and Philippa Sklaar (MF Books) 5/5
  40. The Bedside Ark by David Muirhead (Penguin) 
  41. The Black Widow by Daniel Silva (Harper Collins) 4/5
  42. The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick (Harvill Secker) 5/5
  43. The Fireman by Joe Hill (Gollancz) 4.5/5
  44. The Ice Lands by Steinar Bragi (Macmillan) 4/5
  45. The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble (Alma Books) 4/5
  46. The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (Michael Joseph) 4/5
  47. The Last Star by Rick Yancey (Penguin)
  48. The Long Wave by Tom Dreyer (Penguin Books)
  49. The Owl Always Hunts At Night by Samuel Bjork (Doubleday) 4/5
  50. The Safest Place You Know by Mark Winkler (Michael Joseph) 
  51. The Shadow Sister - Star’s Story by Lucinda Riley (Macmillan) 4/5
  52. The Steel Kiss by Jeffery Deaver (Hodder & Stoughton) 5/5
  53. The Street by Paul McNally (Macmillan) 
  54. The Supernotes Affair by Agent Kasper (A&U Canongate) 
  55. The Woman In The Photo by Mary Hogan (William Morrow) 
  56. Thrive! by Dr Greg Venning (Vital Press) 5/5
  57. To Quote Myself by Khanya Dlanga (Macmillan) 4/5
  58. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (Michael Joseph) 
  59. Trump & Me by Mark Singer (Allen Lane) 
  60. Zodiac by Sam Wilson (Michael Joseph) 4/5

We want to thank PanMacmillan South AfricaJonathan Ball PublishersPenguin Books South AfricaRHS and Jacana Media for the review copies.

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

Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 48: 5 Elements You Need In Chapter One To Hook Your Reader

Welcome to week 48 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

Goal setting
  1. Focus on polishing your first chapter.
Breaking it down

Your first chapter is the window to a showroom, beckoning us with a display of shiny new cars that promise adventure, an exquisite new dress in a shop window that hints at romance, or a candy display at a market promising the best sugar high ever.

How do you make sure you entice the reader in? How do you make that first critical chapter a moment of seduction, one the reader will never forget? In short, how do you get them hooked?

①  The first line is your last chance to grab the reader.
‘My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.’ This is the first line of Melina Marchetta’s Young Adult novel On the Jellicoe Road.  It would be hard not to read on from that first line, wouldn’t it?

I’ll make a confession. For the last few nights, I’ve stared at my opening line. I’ve rewritten it, deleted it, scratched out a previously discarded version – I’m still not happy with it.  I’m obsessed with it – you could say I want too much from it.  I want it to be perfect.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

There’s an exception for every rule, I know, and I think we should be aware of that. The first line should be simple – no more than 10 or 12 words. But they can be complex too, if that’s the style of your novel. It can be surprising, tense, absurd – but it should grip the reader.

The first line can be a sledgehammer breaking its way into an action-packed narrative. It can be a soft feather to tickle and entice the reader into a romance. However, you can try too hard sometimes. If you force something dramatic and the result will come across as contrived. 

In essence, I think it’s about giving the reader a way into your story – it’s about picking up a thread, opening a door for a glimpse inside and engaging the senses.
②  The world on the first page.
When we’re writing our opening scene or chapter, we’re building a bridge between the world outside of the covers of the book and the fictional wonderland within. It’s like a child’s pop-up books – but you have to build that cardboard castle with words.  You have to engage the reader’s senses, colour their imagination.

I find it’s always best to start orientating the reader sooner rather than later – in other words, point them towards north. For me, that’s about giving a sense of setting — a fantasy kingdom or downtown Miami, it doesn’t matter, let us know the frame. 

That takes care of the pictures in their mind. Next comes the style. This is where a lack of confidence as a writer will trip you up. The voice of your story must come through — from the tone to the theme, this must be the most consistent element throughout your entire novel, so it’s important to get it pitch perfect. Whether you’re using a first person narrator or a third-person viewpoint, we must trust the voice of the story.

③  
An unforgettable character or characters.
In Kiran Desai’s Man Book Prize-winning novel, The Inheritance of Loss, we open on a cold mist-shrouded scene in the Himalayan mountains — and a house occupied by three characters: a girl waiting for her tutor, an old man waiting for his tea, and a cook waiting for a letter from his son in America.

Even though the story unfolds at a slow pace, we’re introduced to the characters that hold the story together – we identify with them, they start to come alive in our imagination. That’s all the reader wants from the opening pages.
 ④ A challenging or thought-provoking question.
One thing we tend to forget about readers is that they love to believe they’re one step ahead of the story. Paradoxically, they love to be proved wrong – they’re waiting for the trapdoor. Waiting for you, as the author, to surprise them.

What’s going to happen in this story? What is this character all about? How would I react in that situation? These are all questions that play at the corners of our minds when we’re reading. The mistake we as writers make is that we try to answer all those questions in the first chapter. Don’t.

If your reader is a fish, you should be drawing them in with a beautiful lure, not blowing them out the water with dynamite.  On the other side, you don’t want to give them just one sad worm at the end of your hook. Balance is critical. It has to be just enough.
A last page that promises more.
The last page of your chapter is not the most important page in your book – it’s not where you make the sale. It’s cocktail hour, an hors d’oeuvre, rather than the raucous party that’s waiting deeper in the book.

For this reason, and it’s a personal reason, I don’t like emphatic endings to chapter one. I prefer a little mystery, something elliptical … something that will lead me seamlessly into the next chapter. Of course, you can end chapter one with a bang but just remember you only have another five bullets left in the chamber. Use them sparingly.
Timelock — 3 to 4 hours

Spend a morning or afternoon refining your first chapter.

5 Quick Hacks
  1. Rewrite your opening line at least 10 times in 10 different ways. Experiment.
  2. Cut the first two paragraphs from your opening chapter – and see if it doesn’t read better.
  3. Describe your character in twenty words or less. Try to distil the essence of him or her into the first two pages.
  4. Lists as many of the senses you use in the first few pages of your novel on a separate piece of paper.  Group them by smell, taste, etc. Have you used enough? Too many?
  5. Cut the last two paragraphs of your chapter – could it be used to open Chapter Two?
Pin it, quote it, believe it:

‘Another word for talent is obsession.’  — Marion Dank Bauer

Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

 by Anthony Ehlers

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

If you enjoyed this post, read:
  1. Write Your Novel In A Year: Week 47: 3 Secrets to Successfully Submitting Your Manuscript
  2. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 46: 3 Lessons On Theme, Character, And Plot
  3. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 45: How To Find A Top Literary Agent

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

Writing Prompts For December 2016

'Write. Sometime, someplace, every day, honour your writer-self and spend some time writing.' ~Judy Reeves

If you're unsure of the benefits of writing every day, and if you would like to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts

Do you want a daily prompt?

Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

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

10 Ways To Create Dangerously Nuanced Antagonists


Better antagonists create better protagonists. Our novels revolve around these characters. Without strong adversaries, our heroes have nobody to test them. Great antagonists force them to learn about their weaknesses and to realise their strengths.

If the antagonist exists to make or break the protagonist, it follows that we need to create a worthy character for this role. Two-dimensional villains are not good enough. If they are weak, our protagonists will easily find ways to beat them and we will bore our readers. 

By crafting a worthy adversary who is able to push the protagonist’s buttons, we write better stories. Readers want us to show them antagonists who are as interesting and as nuanced as they are dangerous.

How do we do this? 
  1. Make them complex. Our antagonists should be the most complex characters in our books. They expose our protagonists’ fears and weaknesses, and they are a constant source of conflict. Shallow, obvious antagonists are tedious for both readers and writers.
  2. Make them ambitious but not obvious. Nakedly ambitious people are too predictable. Their aggression often defeats them because their actions force us to reveal their true nature too early in a story.
  3. Make them enjoy their work. We spend most of our lives working so a successful antagonist who is happy at work would be much more dangerous than somebody who hates what he or she does. 
  4. Make them curious. People who never stop learning are dangerous. They will out-think and outwit us. This quality gives them the depth and the ability to surprise and shock us. A lazy antagonist is boring.
  5. Allow them to explore the world. Let them travel. Expose them to different ways of life and different world views. They can use this knowledge at unexpected moments.
  6. Unleash their creativity. Let them paint or draw or write. Creative people look at problems differently. They are more likely to find ways to beat the odds and to get themselves out of difficult situations. Examples: Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr Ripley paints and gardens; Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair sings, acts, and plays the piano.
  7. Make them fit in. Even if they don’t really, and even if they are loners, their ability to adjust to their surroundings and make allies makes them stronger.
  8. Make them care about the details. The devil is in them, after all. People who notice things can use them to their advantage. 
  9. Allow them to be flexible. They should know when losing a battle will allow them to win a war. They should be able to take no for an answer, and to deal with setbacks.
  10. Create them first. Taking our antagonists seriously and creating these characters before we create our heroes will stimulate our imagination. It gives us a unique perspective, which will add depth and texture to our storytelling.
Antagonists drive our protagonists because they create the impetus for them to act. They force them to change and to want something different. This is what makes their lives interesting and this is why readers read novels. They are too important to be shallow.

'You don't really understand an antagonist until you understand why he's a protagonist in his own version of the world.' ~John Rogers

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

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

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

200 Ways To Say 'Good'

Does the overuse of the word 'good' annoy you? Good weather, good movies, good music, good life, good this, good that…

Are you looking for words that convey what you mean more effectively? If you are, you may find this infographic to be helpful.


Infographic created by Jack Milgram.

If you enjoyed this infographic, look at these:

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

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

The Next 5 Months In Writing

Course

Description

Nov ‘16

Dec ‘16

Jan ‘17

Feb ‘17

March ‘17

Writers Write

How to write a book

5,12,19,26

 

 

4,11,18,25

4.11.18,25

Writers Write

How to write a book

7-10

5-8

 

20-23

27-30

The Plain Language Programme

Advanced business writing

15-16

 

 

7-8

 

Blogging and Social Media Course

Write for the web

22-23

 

28-29

14-15

14-15

Short Cuts

How to write a short story


 

 

 12


kids etc.

How to write for children

27

 

 

 

 19

Email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

Gift Vouchers

Are you looking for a life-changing gift for a relative, friend, or work colleague who wants to write? Why not buy a gift voucher for one of our writing courses? Click here to find out how it works.

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Write Your Novel In A Year: Week 47: 3 Secrets to Successfully Submitting Your Manuscript


Welcome to week 47 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

Goal setting
  1. Write your query letter
  2. Write your synopsis
  3. Prepare your first three chapters
Breaking it down

Finding an agent or publisher for your novel is like making a good marriage. It’s all about relationships.

Your query letter is your first date. Your synopsis is your best weekend away. And your partial manuscript is an engagement party – a dress rehearsal for the real thing. If you get all three correct, it will lead to a marriage contract.

But there’s a lot of work to do before you get to the wedding bells.

1.  Your query letter: Show up looking your best
A first date is about putting your best foot forward. The same goes for your query letter. You want to show up looking smart, not in your oldest pair of jeans with your shirt tail hanging out. 

There’s that old saying, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ It’s never been truer than for your first shot at a publisher or agent.  Make sure your query letter is as polished, slick, and engaging as you can make it.

While you’re still sussing each other out, a first date usually involves a drink or a coffee — it’s short, it has a purpose. Do we like each other? Is there any potential for a match? For the same reason, keep your query letter to one page.

Start with a punchy description of your novel – one or two lines. If you can do it in less than 50 words, that’s good. If you can nail it in 25 words, even better.  Don’t forget to call out your title and your genre.

You can include an intriguing question. For my book, I may use just such a hook. What if a one-night fantasy turns in a terrifying nightmare for a perfect couple?

You can also ‘shorthand’ the concept of the novel using other current publishing or pop references. When people ask me what my book is about, I often say, ‘It’s Fatal Attraction with a couple.’ It may be a bit lazy, but it does get the point across quickly.

You can also make a bold statement, something that really anchors the story in the imagination. Some examples I’m playing with: If you’re in an open relationship, be careful who you let in.

Once you’ve got the reader hooked, you can give one or two more paragraphs that tease out the plot conflicts, character struggles, and even a bit of the setting.

Finish off with a brief author bio. Here you can briefly mention your writing credits and ambitions, but it’s also a good idea to give the editor or agent a glimpse of who you are away from your writing desk. A flavour of your personality.

2.  Your synopsis: Pack just what you need
If you’ve ever been away for a weekend, romantic or otherwise, you know you can only really take one small suitcase or travel bag. And it’s the same with your synopsis – you want to fill this two-page document only with the essentials of what you need.

Writing a synopsis is a tricky business. If I can go back to that travel bag for a moment. If you try to stuff too much in it, when you get to your destination, all your clothes will be creased, even a bit jumbled.

And if you pack to little, you’ll be walking around in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers all weekend – not your best look either.  So… what do you ‘pack’ into your synopsis?

Well, the essentials to start with.  Something about the characters to start - name, age, profession, looks.  In my synopsis, I describe my antagonist quickly. Monty (20), varsity dropout, spends his days at gym, nights drifting around Cape Town’s nightlife.

Next, you need to give the basics of plot. Here you can focus on the six indispensable plot pivots we spoke about in a previous blog. Perhaps just a line or two on each – from the inciting moment to the climax and ending.  (Yes, even the ending: this isn’t a teaser, it’s a summary.) Spend some time refining and sharpening these.

Once you have these packed, you’ll see how much room you have left. And you can fill in the spaces between each plot point or pivot. And fill only bits you need to build a bridge between those main storyline elements.

In my story, for example, I have a subplot about Jenna’s career – but I won’t waste space in my synopsis with this because it doesn’t relate to the main storyline.

Once you’re done, read the synopsis aloud. Go through it with a red pen. Take out every word you don’t need. See if you can shorten paragraphs into one sentence.  You’ll work hard at getting this right – but it’ll be worth it.
3.  Your first three chapters: A perfect arrangement
Your first three chapters are a taste of things to come. Provided an editor or agent liked your query letter and synopsis, this is your chance to really impress.

Your first chapters should contain a few crucial elements if they’re going to capture the attention of an editor and, later on, the reader. You need to show what the world your main characters live in. And not just the setting but the moral, social, sexual, political etc. world they live. How will readers identify with them? Are their fears, struggles, desires universal?

By the end of the first three chapters, you should have included your inciting incident. Maybe your novel has a hook right on page one, or maybe you build up slowly to a moment of change — but there has to be something or someone for your main character to pursue or escape.

Don’t be too nervous about committing to these chapters.  They’re not going to the printers tomorrow. This is the engagement party – not the wedding.

Some authors have many other drafts after their novels have been submitted and accepted. And that’s exactly what you want from an agent or editor.

A good agent or editor will be able to give you advice and work with you to make your book better and more marketable.

Timelock — 8 to 10 hours

Spend as much time as you need creating these three elements.

5 Quick Hacks
  1. Write the opening hook of your novel as a Tweet (maximum 140 characters)
  2. Talk about what your book is really about to yourself. Record your voice. Listen to it a few days later. How can you make your pitch stronger?
  3. Create a synopsis for the last movie you watched or a book you read.  
  4. Challenge yourself to cut at last 10 per cent from your first three chapters.
  5. Consider using an appraisal or editorial service to help you polish your submission.
Pin it, quote it, believe it:

‘Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.’ — Stephen King

Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

 by Anthony Ehlers

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

If you enjoyed this post, read:
  1. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 46: 3 Lessons On Theme, Character, And Plot
  2. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 45: How To Find A Top Literary Agent
  3. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 44: White Hot Writer – 7 Tricks To Write Faster

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

NaNoWriMo: A Writer's Checklist For The Final Stretch

This is it. Week four of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). You are so close. Hopefully you are nearing 40 000 words. This is the final stretch. 

By this time, you have replaced caffeine with green tea, just because your brain is screaming at you and your mother should have brought over a casserole by now, because three weeks of only eating cheese nacks is going to get you killed.  

But before all is lost here is little checklist to get you through the end of your story: 

1. Have you written 50 000 words?

If you have, it is time to proofread. You may find you’re missing a few words. You need those.  

2. What is the story goal? 

This helps you to figure out if your story makes sense. The goal can change, but your character must still fight for it. 

3. Did your protagonist achieve his/her story goal? 

Your character can fail or they can achieve their goal. For example, they can lose, but still get the girl. Whatever happens, it’s up to you. Figure it out so that you know where you are going. 

4. Have you tied up the subplots? 

We don’t want to get to the end of the story only to remember you left the girlfriend tied up in the jungle somewhere. Go save her ass. 

5. Have you tied up all the loose ends?

The same goes for clues, other characters and red herrings. Remember Chekov’s gun. Make sure it has fired. 

6. What kind of ending does the story have?

Simply decide if your ending is happy, sad, or ambiguous? 

7. Have you put the champagne in the fridge?

This is obviously the most important point. Even if you can’t tick anything except 50 000 you deserve to celebrate. You have achieved something amazing. Give yourself some time to celebrate. And then get some sleep. 

Good luck for the last stretch. You are so close.  

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

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