Memorable Animals From Literature

Literature is filled with animals. From children's picture books to literary classics, writers have been writing about animals since the beginning.

We hope you enjoy this Infographic depicting some of the most famous literary animals.

Source for Infographic

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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

    How To Write A Beginning And An Ending That Readers Will Never Forget


    Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, says, ‘The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem.’

    The same is true for your novel. The first lines are a promise to your reader. They set the tone for your book. Will it be lyrical, crisp, caustic, humorous, or business-like? They also allow readers to create a picture of the coming story in their minds. 

    Your final sentences should resonate with that promise. They should echo the tone and the images from the beginning in some way. They should show change, woven with words, moods and senses that answer the promise.

    The exercise

    When I teach Writers Write, I always use this exercise: I ask students to pick two random characters from my character box, a setting from the setting box, and I give them a first line. I then ask them to write a beginning, using at least two of the five senses. I ask them to ground it with the objects in the setting. I suggest putting the protagonist in the picture. I then ask them to highlight the nouns and senses they have used. Then I ask them to write an ending, using some of these words.

    How does this work? 

    Example 1
    White Oleander  by Janet Fitch (1999) begins with these lines:

    "The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shrivelling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry night, my mother and I. I woke up at midnight to find her bed empty, I climbed to the roof and easily spotted her blond hair like a white flame in the light of the three-quarter moon."

    Fitch ends the book like this:

    "In the dark palm print, I could see the blurred image, but also my mother’s face shimmering on a rooftop over an unknowable city, talking to the three-quarter moon. I wanted to hear what she was saying, I wanted to smell that burnt midnight again, I wanted to feel that wind. It was a secret wanting, like a song I couldn’t stop humming, or loving someone I could never have. No matter where I went, my compass pointed west. I would always know what time it was in California."

    The lesson?  Can you see how the ‘three-quarter moon’, the ‘rooftop’, ‘midnight’, ‘my mother’ echo the beginning. The tone is sad – wistful and restless in the beginning, wistful and wiser in the end.

    Example 2
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008) begins like this:

    "When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping."

    Collins ends with:

    "Out of the corner of my eye, I see Peeta extend his hand. I look at him, unsure. ‘One more time? For the audience?’ He says. His voice isn’t angry. It’s hollow, which is worse. Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me.
    I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go."

    The lesson? Can you see the repetition of Katniss reaching out? Her fingers? His hand? The ‘cold’ in the beginning echoes with the ‘hollow’ at the end. The tone is bleak, matter of fact and loaded in the beginning; bleak, less clipped and sad at the end. 

    Why it works

    This is a powerful writing tool. It does not matter if the ending is happy or sad, if there is a resolution or not. The power is in the echo – in the images being reinforced. Even if the readers are unaware of what you have done, they will feel as if the story circle is complete. 

    As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, 'Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.'

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

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on PinterestFacebook,  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

    Lost In Translation - Six Ways To Improve Your Business Writing


    I was on holiday in one of South Africa’s popular resorts. Think fake palm trees, fake stone walls and fake waves. Yes, I was enjoying all the glory that was Sun City. One of my favourite treats is the buffet breakfast. I was waiting to order my omelette, which is unmatched in any fake-palmed resort in the world, when I overheard an interesting conversation.

    An Afrikaans woman, speaking less than average English was desperately trying to order a ‘baked egg’. The chef, who did not speak Afrikaans and spoke average English, was trying everything to figure out what she meant. This involved gesturing, demonstrating and a fair amount of charades before they both figured out she wanted a fried egg. (In Afrikaans, a fried egg is a ‘gebakte eier’ and if you translate it directly, it is a baked egg.)

    This made me smile, and luckily, them too, but it doesn’t always end with a smile. The line between desperation and irritation is thin and this was just a breakfast order. Translate this into a business situation when a small misunderstanding can lead to hundreds or even thousands of rands lost. No one is smiling then.

    Why is Plain Language so important to your business?

    We have 11 official languages in South Africa. Every week I teach between six and ten people on a course. On average, there is only one person who only speaks one language. Most people speak two, three or four. Look at this table:


    English is the accepted business language in South Africa and most people speak English as a second language. What can we do to minimise small misunderstandings that lead to big losses? Writing in plain language is one of the first steps we can take.

    What is plain language?

    A common misunderstanding is that plain language is ‘dumbing it down’. This always makes me laugh, especially when people who work in a jargon-laden industry say it. They use their jargon to explain their jargon then they need to invent more jargon to explain the other jargon. But to quote Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” 

    Plain language is simply a message that everyone understands. Jargon works as shorthand and if everyone understands it, it is great. However, most of the people I teach can only give a vague idea of what the jargon means.

    Six ways to simplify your writing:
    1. Consider your audience: This will help you to decide what information to include or exclude.
    2. New news first: What is the new information you want to share? Start with that and back it up with the reasons or information they should already have.
    3. Re-evaluate your word choice: use the simplest word to explain what you want to say, e.g., instead of saying we will leverage our resources, try we will use our resources.
    4. Keep your sentences short: Shorter sentences mean you will avoid confusion by making fewer mistakes with your punctuation and tenses.  
    5. Write in the active voice: Passive voice slows your reader down and can cause ambiguity.
    6. Use your readability statistics: Aim for a readability of 70% or higher in business writing.
    Now this won’t solve all our language issues, but it will definitely help reduce the number of misunderstandings. When readers don’t understand your message they draw their own conclusions and this leads to confusion. Confusion wastes time and costs money. The fact the many South Africans are multi-lingual is a huge advantage for us as a country. Read this post to find out why. 

    Celebrate our multiple languages and change your writing to improve your messages and to communicate clearly. Your breakfast and your business will benefit.  

    If you want to learn how to write for business, join us for  The Plain Language Programme.

     by Mia Botha

    If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

    1. Throwback Thursdays Mean Business
    2. How Being Creative At Work Improves Your Writing
    3. Because here we are now. Entertain us.
    4. RIP - The Death Of Acronyms And Initialisms

    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

      How To Plot A Perfect Scene In 10 Minutes


      Breaking up your scene into bite-size units will make your plotting and writing easier. It will also save you time because you won’t have frustrating rewrites.

      Plotting is really a ‘to-do list’ for you as a writer – you need to know what will drive the story forward, what settings you will throw into the mix, what conflict your characters will face, and where the scene will end.

      Block out the scene

      Say you’re going to write a scene of about 1,000-1,500 words, you’ll probably need 10 plot points to keep you on track. Grab an A4 piece of lined paper. At the top of the page, put your scene summary in a block. For example: Nik, the rock star that VIP bodyguard Jade is protecting, picks up a model at the hotel bar. Jade finds Nik dead in his room the next morning.

      Isolate the drama and action

      Down the margin of the page, jot down the numbers 1 to 10. Next to each write down the sequence of events – focusing only the parts where ‘something happens’ in one clear and simple sentence – make sure it has an action word. It could look like this:
      1. Nik convinces Jade to let him go to Chrome Bar.
      2. At bar, Jade has to deal with a nosy journalist.
      3. She thinks the bar is too crowded and insists they return to suite.
      4. Just then a Kim Kardashian-lookalike model arrives at the bar. Nik offers to buy her a mojito.
      5. Nik openly flirts with ‘Kim’ to annoy Jade.
      6. Nik whispers to Jade that he and ‘Kim’ are going up to his suite.
      7. She follows them up to the penthouse and does a security check.
      8. While ‘Kim’ is in the bathroom, Jade checks her purse for any cameras or listening devices.
      9. In the adjoining suite, Jade is restless but eventually falls asleep.
      10. The next morning, she opens Nik’s door and finds him naked and dead, with a bullet hole in the middle of his head. ‘Kim’ is gone.

      Tease out each plot point

      Now, all you have to do is take each plot point and write 100-150 words on each and you’ll have your scene written before you know it. This is where you can have fun with character development, dialogue, etc., knowing your ‘story spine’ is in place.

      Five tips to keep you on track
      1. Always end the scene on a high note or twist if you can. You want the reader to think, ‘What happens next?’
      2. Be clear what your character’s goal is in the scene. In this scene it may be: ‘Jade wants to keep Nik safe but can’t protect him from himself.’
      3. You can use a single setting or multiple locations, but the plot should be the consistent thread in the scene.
      4. Don’t ‘dawdle’ in the scene.  Be careful of going off on tangents. Keep the story moving forward.
      5. Put a time limit on your planning so that you’re not tempted to populate it with unnecessary detail.

      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:

          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).

          ~~~~~

          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 A Style Guide Will Revolutionise Your Organisation’s Communication

          What is a style guide?

          A style guide is a document that sets out an organisation’s ‘house rules’ about language and formatting. It acts as a grammatically correct point of reference for everyone in the organisation who writes or edits documents. 

          One example of a style guide is The Chicago Manual of Style, an American English guide to writing and citation styles used in publishing. Another example is The Associated Press Stylebook for journalists. 

          Four Reasons To Have A Style Guide

          If your organisation doesn’t have one already, why not compile one? Besides earning you serious writer or editor ‘street cred’, compiling a style guide will help with the following:

          1. Consistency: It not only allows consistency of language use and tone within a document, but allows consistency across different documents written by different writers in an organisation. It enables your organisation to communicate with one, consistent ‘voice’.
          2. Quality: Because it sets a grammatically correct standard for language use, it raises the quality of your organisation’s communication.
          3. Time: It saves both the writer’s and the editor’s time. Time normally spent fretting about a grammar rule or wondering about formatting can now be maximised, and spent on churning out high quality communication, time after time.
          4. Brand: It preserves your organisation’s brand. Do the different departments in your organisation use the same terminology when writing about your product or service? If there is a discrepancy between the terminology different departments or employees use, it could result in brand confusion within the organisation. This will, in turn, dilute the effectiveness of your organisation’s brand in the public’s eye. 

          Now that you’re convinced of the value of a style guide, you may ask, ‘What do I put in it?’

          Six Basics To Include In Your Style Guide

          1. Language rules: you can’t write a grammar book, but it will be worthwhile mentioning the rules that have bearing on your organisation, or clarifying rules that are regularly confused by employees. For example, if you work for a medical aid provider, you’ll need to know the difference between ‘dependent’ and ‘dependant’. If you work for lawyers, you’ll need to note that ‘comprise’ is correct, and not ‘comprise of’.
          2. Spelling rules: does your organisation use US English or UK English? It will determine whether you use ‘realise’ or ‘realize’, or ‘fulfil’ or ‘fulfill’. Draw up a table that shows the differences in spelling between US and UK English, and be consistent in which you use. Furthermore, you’ll need to clarify other troublesome spelling. For example, do you say ‘cannot’ or ‘can not’? Which dictionary has the last say, in your organisation, when it comes to spelling?
          3. Punctuation rules: do you say ‘e-mail’ or ‘email’? ‘Cooperate’ or ‘co-operate’? You’ll need to clarify these hyphen issues. Do you say ‘Internet’ or ‘internet’? Is it correct to say ‘bachelor of arts’ or ‘Bachelor of Arts’ when speaking about a degree? This is an example of clarifying capitalisation. What is the correct way to punctuate the separate items on a bulleted list? What is the correct way to punctuate a quote inserted into your text? Do you use single quotation marks, or double? Do you use the Oxford comma, or not?
          4. Citation: It is important to include information on how to cite sources. Do you use the Harvard style? Or do you use the MLA style? Do you cite differently for Internet sources than you do for print sources? Provide examples on how to cite each kind of source.
          5. Visual composition: are your headings uppercase, title case, or sentence case? Are they bolded or italicised? When you have lists, are they bulleted or numbered? Is there a line between the introductory sentence and the first bullet, or no space at all? What is your standard line spacing in your documents?
          6. Brand terminology: what are the standardised terms used in your organisation to describe your product or service? 

          These are only a few of the questions you’ll need to answer. When you draw up your style guide, it’s helpful to list the different elements in alphabetical order, or to have a detailed table of contents. You want your style guide to be as user-friendly as possible once you’ve completed it, so that you and other people actually use it on a daily basis when you write.  

          You can do it!

          It’s a huge task, but a worthwhile one. Don’t give up. Take 30 minutes every day at work to think about what needs to be noted in your style guide, and work on it. Perhaps you can make it a team effort and draw in others who have a flair for language. Before you know it, you’ll have something in your hands that can revolutionise your organisation’s communication.  

          If you want to learn how to write for business, join us for  The Plain Language Programme.

           by Donna Radley

          If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

          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.  

          ~~~~~

          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

          June 2015 - In Writing

          Course

          Description

          June

          July

          Writers Write

          How to write a book

          6-9

          Writers Write

          How to write a Book

          6,13,20,27

          4,11,18,25

          The Plain Language Programme

          Advanced business writing

           

          21-22

          The Social Brand

          How to write for social media

          18

          17


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

          ~~~~~

          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

          What Customers Hate About Your Brand In Social Media

          Why Writing Skills Matter On Social Media

          Disruptive Communications asked more than 1 000 consumers in the UK what was most likely to damage their opinion of a brand that uses social media. They discovered that poor spelling and grammar were the biggest turn-off. 

          The results were similar across all age groups and genders, with one notable exception. The 18-24 age group found their biggest complaint was brands not updating frequently enough, which happened to be at the very bottom of the list for all other age groups.

          Image: Disruptive Communications

          We are thrilled that Writers Write was chosen as one of  The 15 Most Inspirational Pages for Writers, Thinkers and Dreamers

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

          If you enjoyed this post read:

          1. 21 Social Media Don'ts
          2. How creating content leads to sales
          3. 180 Emotionally Powerful Words To Use In Headlines

          Writers Write was also chosen as one of the Top 50 Writing Blogs of 2015 and we were named one of the 13 Great Facebook Pages for Writers

          ~~~~~

          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 Writers Write Interview - Alex van Tonder

          Author: Alex van Tonder

          Alex van Tonder was promoting her debut novel, This One Time. Alex works full time in advertising and she has been a successful blogger. She used her experiences to create a social media thriller, with reality TV and advertising playing their part in a terrifying game.

          When she joined us for dinner, she was funny and self-deprecating. The guests enjoyed her answers, the incredible dinner and each other's company.

          The Writers Write Interview 

          Date of Birth: 8 July 1983
          Date of Interview: 21 May 2015
          Place: Winehouse, Ten Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg
          The Book: This One Time

          1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
          I would go for a conflicted hero - someone like Victor Frankenstein. He had the best intentions but his creation still turns on him. I love characters who are not portrayed as totally good or totally bad.

          2. What is your most treasured possession?
          A rose gold charm bracelet that belonged to my gran. She was given a charm by my mom and my uncles and aunts for her birthdays.

          3. Which living person do you most dislike?
          Robert Mugabe is a human rights nightmare. What he's done is heartbreaking. He has taken all the power and wealth for himself. 

          4. What is your greatest fear?
          Reaching the end of my life and not having done everything I wanted to do.

          5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
          I guess I consider my relationship with creativity to be a relationship that has outlasted everything else. It is a conflicted one that I always come back to.

          6. What is your greatest regret?
          I have quite a lot. You learn from every regret. I am more on the introverted side of life and I tend to say no more often than yes and I regret this. I act out of fear in certain situations. When I was 25 I was offered a job travelling around the world 'evangelising' online travel, but I had just been appointed to an important position in an advertising company, and I feel that I had to keep my word.

          7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
          One of the female characters in Isabel Allende's novels. They are all a bit crazy, brave, and fearless about their emotional needs. 

          8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
          Catch 22 settles my mind. It's the right balance of a good story and a sense of humour. I go back to it once a year, read a few pages and put it down.

          9. What is your favourite journey?
          I am a big runner. One of my favourite runs a coastal one around the Base of Lion's Head. It takes you around the whole of Cape Town. It's a trail run.

          10. What is your favourite quotation?
          It changes a lot. It depends on what you're doing in your life.  'We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves.' ~Mike Carey. It resonates with social media. The other is Nietsche's 'Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.'

          11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
          Cats. His name is Moolie.

          12. What do you most value in a friend?
          When you connect with someone and it's real. A sense of honesty. A willingness for people to be honest with themselves and that reflects in their character. People have to be themselves.

          13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?
          The ability to think for yourself. The courage to be yourself. A lot of women are still really scared to be who they are. I love Lena Dunham and what she's done for women. She's brave.

          14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?
          This One Time. This is my real writing voice. It's the kind of story I wan to write.

          15. What are your favourite names?
          Ariella
          Oberon - from A Midsummer Night's Dream 

          16. What do you do as a hobby?
          Olympic weight lifting, painting, running, and I write poetry.

          17. Which are your three favourite books?

          1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
          2. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
          3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
          18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
          I am inspired by the Internet and social media and the effect it has on us. 

          19. What is your Writing Routine?
          Write. Work. Run. Write. I get up at 5:30am, get to work, write for about two hours. Then I work, go home, go for a run, and write again.

          20. What are your Top Writing Tips?

          1. Write the book you want to read and the one your friends want to read. Because then even if it's not published, it's still rewarding for you.
          2. Set yourself a goal of writing and finishing a bad first draft. That's not intimidating. Once you have that you can make it better.
          3. Learn the rules before you break them.You need to be writing while you're learning the rules. It's difficult to understand them if you haven't written. 
          4. Stay physically fit. I have a day job and it helps me with my mental endurance.
          5. I start with a plot. I am advertising trained. Everything needs to have a point. Once this has been done and the boundaries have been set, I have to find the characters who will serve the plot. The characters have to be a certain way to do this and I have to find out from them why they are there and how they got there.
          6. Writing every day is important. Time passes anyway. If you do 500 words every day, you will inevitably have a book.

          Follow this link for more photographs from This One Time - A Literary Dinner

          Follow Alex on Twitter .

          Interviewer: Amanda Patterson (Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter) Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. 

          We have started a new interview for guests called The Writers Write Interview. This is based on Amanda Patterson's old format of 17 Questions and Answers for Authors. We've added a few more to make it 20 Questions. We hope you enjoy it.)

          ~~~~~

          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

          A Brief History Of Pen Names

          Pen names are as old as books. Authors have hidden behind pseudonyms for a plethora of reasons – sometimes personal, and other times political.

          This Infographic on A History of Noms De Plume will help you understand many of them. The reasons differ, but some of the more recurring motives provide an intriguing snapshot of historical attitudes.

          If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read:
          ~~~~~
          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

          10 Elementary Tips For Writers From Sherlock Holmes

          Source

          Since Sherlock Holmes first appeared in 1887, the four novels and 56 stories featuring him have never been out of print. He has become the most-played movie character in history, with 200 actors having played the role.

          Other writers have created memorable characters who solve mysteries with reason. But Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is the detective who has truly captured the world's imagination.

          To celebrate the anniversary of Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday, I thought I would put together 10 things writers can learn from the world's most famous detective. 
          1. Master your craft: Writers have to learn the rules before they break them. Sherlock Holmes is a master of deduction, but this did not happen overnight. Although he is intelligent and talented, he constantly works on improving his skills. He is a big believer in learning the basics before you rush into something complex. Holmes says, 'Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the enquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems.'
          2. Pay attention to details: Great writers are observers. They watch and they listen, they notice things that others miss. When Holmes first meets Watson, he says, ‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’ He is not a psychic. As he goes on to explain to Watson, he sees that the doctor has been ill, that he has suffered an injury, and that his face and hands are tanned. He fits them together and deduces his history from his appearance. Holmes focuses his faculties. He listens and he will not allow himself to be distracted. 
          3. Obsession works: Most writers who succeed do so because they want it more than anything else. They try harder. They are prepared to make sacrifices to achieve their goals. They love writing for the sake of writing. Holmes is equally obsessed with solving puzzles. In fact, he is prepared to do it without a fee. The thrill of solving a crime is enough for him. 'They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains. It's a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.'
          4. Take time to think:  Good writers switch off distractions and find a place to write and, more importantly, to think. They know they need solitude and quiet. Watson says, ‘I knew that seclusion and solitude were very necessary for my friend in those hours of intense mental concentration during which he weighed every particle of evidence, constructed alternative theories, balanced one against the other, and made up his mind as to which points were essential and which immaterial.’ Distractions derailed his focus. 
          5. Use all the senses: Good writers make use of all the senses when they write. Real people do not just see things. They hear, smell, taste and touch as well. Sherlock Holmes is a big believer in making use of the senses. As he says, ‘There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended on their prompt recognition.’
          6. Become an expert on body language: Good writers know that it is not just what their characters say that matters. How they say things, how they move, what they wear and how they wear it is just as important. The solution is often right in front of us. Sherlock Holmes trains himself to notice the obvious, the irregularities, and the obscure. He studies body language in order to find out the whole truth. 
          7. Learn about the industry: Keep track of how publishing is changing. Instead of fighting it,  work out ways that you can use this. Holmes studies everything and only looks at what the evidence suggests. He says, ‘It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.' 
          8. Create worthy villains: Good writers know that your hero is only as good as your villain. Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty, the seductress Irene Adler, and blackmailer Charles Augustus Magnusse are all fascinating, frightening, and complex. They are worthy opponents for his brilliant talents. Holmes says of Moriarty, 'He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organiser of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order.'
          9. Look for help: Great writers ask for help when they need it. You may need to take a course, study writing techniques, or ask a mentor for help. Sherlock Holmes needs Watson. He knows that he has certain skills that help him solve cases. He also needs a sounding board. He says, ‘Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.’
          10. Use your imagination: Good writers are creative. They put characters together who would not normally meet. They twist situations. They invent scenarios from a series of ‘What ifs’. Sherlock Holmes looks at the ordinary and pieces it together in an extraordinary way until it forms a story. He is constantly learning - which stimulates his brain. He has ideas because of this. He trains himself to be aware and in doing that, he notices moments of genius that others miss. 'Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.'

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

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