Writing for Social Media—Not Any Old Tweet Can Do It

Press Release
Source for Comic: Sarah Lesson

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing and enterprise tools at a company’s disposal in an increasingly digital world. It is the new word of mouth, according to Amanda Patterson, CEO of Writers Write. 

“However, the second biggest mistake companies make is to assign a technical employee or an overburdened webmaster responsibility for the company’s social media marketing,” she says. “The biggest mistake it to outsource the role to agencies or experts who don’t understand your brand. Social media must have a personal, informal touch.”

The right voice

Although most companies are using social media, many are not exploring these platforms to their full potential. “To write effectively for social media, you first need to investigate which channels are going to work for your brand,” Patterson says. “You also need a writer who understands that social media is about PR and not shout marketing—they have to be creative, agile, and on trend.”

Those who succeed in social media understand that it is multi-directional conversation and not a static monologue. Only in this way can you create an authentic and emotional connection with the audience. “It is a way to engage their customers in a digital world where they already feel comfortable,” she says. “Your online representative must become a consistent voice and create a credible online personality for your brand at all times. They need to be curious, passionate and able to reinvent themselves to adapt to new opportunities.”

Unpredictable outcomes

Social media communication must always complement other brand-building, advertising and PR strategies. In all communication, the writer should strive to provide information and build awareness, as well create excitement around the brand. “Of course, you cannot predict social media outcomes,” Patterson says. “That is why you need a writer who understands your brand, in order to respond to a change in trend or deal with an online crisis.”

Social success
After developing a social media strategy in 2008, Amanda Patterson and Writers Write have enjoyed growing success in this space. “We recognised that the world was moving away from traditional advertising and PR and embraced the interaction social media offered,” she says. “We realised people wanted more information more frequently.”

At present, Writers Write has a social media following of more than 200 000, while Amanda Patterson has a following of more than 240 000. “We’ve taken all we’ve learned over the last six years and distilled this into an interactive, informative and fun workshop,” she says.

The Social Brand is a one-day workshop on 31 July 2014 that shows individuals and companies how to find the right strategy and structure for social media, as well as a practical guide to setting up a blog. “Social media is a great way to humanise your company, to show a side of the brand people won’t see in your company report or website,” Patterson says. If you want more information on this workshop, please email news@writerswrite.co.za

Ends

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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

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

Writers Write - Write to communicate

The Four Reasons To Use Dramatic Irony In Your Story

When we teach our Writers Write course, we find that people are often unsure about using dramatic irony.

Dramatic Irony - What is it?

Dramatic irony is a story-telling device. It is when you give your reader plot information that the main character doesn’t have until later on in the story. Sometimes you want to keep all the characters in the dark about a major plot point that will only be revealed in the climax.

The Ironic Statement

When using dramatic irony, it should tie in with your theme. The characters must make a statement in the story, through dialogue or action, which throws the absurdity, danger, or emotion of the scene into relief. The dialogue will usually have a changed or opposite meaning. Similarly, the action will be misconstrued in some way, or cause a complication.

The Four Reasons

Here are the four reasons why you would use dramatic irony in a story, together with four examples, and their ironic statements. 

1.   To create suspense. Phillipa is young detective is hunting down a serial killer targeting women. She works with her older partner, Rob. She sees him as a trusted mentor. As the story unfolds, we explore the killer’s viewpoint – and realise Rob is the killer. Eventually they arrest a schizophrenic vagrant and she thinks the case is closed. When she finds video surveillance that puts the vagrant in another location at the time of one of the killings, the first person she turns to is Rob and goes to his house, alone. Ironic Statement: ‘I came to you because you’re the only one who will know what to do,’ Phillipa says to Rob. Of course he will know what to do – kill her.

2.    To create romantic tension.  A jealous fiancée, Dani sees her boyfriend, Kyle, sitting cosily with a beautiful blonde in the very coffee shop where they met. Suspicious, she checks his iPad and finds online bookings for a romantic break for two. Meanwhile, when we are in Kyle’s viewpoint, we know the blonde is a wedding planner and he is putting together a romantic honeymoon. They eventually break up because of her misunderstanding. Ironic statement: ‘Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to,’ an angry Dani says to a confused Kyle.

3.    To create empathy. Gretchen, a widow living in a retirement village, believes her dead husband is sending her messages from beyond the grave when she finds her favourite roses on his grave. However, we know that Klaus, another resident in the village, has been putting the flowers there—he heard her tell the nurse they were her favourite gift from her husband. He forms a friendship with Gretchen but she will only love her lost husband. Ironic statement: After she dies, Klaus brings white roses to her grave in the final scene.

4.    To create comedy. The only job Denise, a qualified but disgraced lawyer, can get is as a cleaner at a law firm. David, a new lawyer, is struggling to settle a case. At night, Denise arranges his books or files with Post-Its that point him in the right direction. As David starts to solve the case, he becomes more confident. Ironic statement: When he discovers her in his office, David thinks she is stealing and has Denise fired—just before she was about to give him the final piece of the puzzle.

Of course, irony is one of those prickly topics in literature and we’ll never get our arms fully around it. The idea is not to have an academic debate about what is and what isn’t irony—but to find plot techniques that will make your story stronger. 

Four Top Tips to Get the Reader’s Buy-In

  1. Don’t give your character the whole story—keep pieces of puzzle hidden from them until the end of story
  2. Explore the antagonist’s viewpoint so that the reader has access to hidden information
  3. Build your plot twists or surprises around the ironic statements
  4. Find ways to put your theme inside the irony so that it becomes stronger

Find the perverse logic in your character’s dilemma, or create a plot idea that can be turned on its head and you’re halfway there. Give us something that will make the reader take on the emotions of the character – whether it is to cringe or cry, bite their nails or bellow at the page, ‘Don’t go into the basement!’

 by Anthony Ehlers

(If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy The Backstory Battle and Anthony's Viewpoint Mini-Series)

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.

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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

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

Writers Write - Write to Communicate

Writing a Memoir: The Ultimate Selfie

Apparently, it’s simple. You flip the camera on your phone, extend your arm and snap away. It’s not so easy for me. It takes practice, a long arm and a certain degree of confidence.

Whether you love them or hate them, avoid them or post them, selfies are here to stay. ‘Selfie’ was even selected as word of the year for 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries

Selfie Culture

Selfies are also getting a lot of flak. People who post a lot of selfies have been accused of alienating people. They are said to be shallow and have low self-esteem because they need constant approval and are prone to superficial relationships. The selfie-obsessed seem to be down-right narcissistic. Some people go so far as to call them mentally ill. (Daily Mail)

On a more positive note, they are considered empowering. They give you an opportunity to express yourself and to show pride in your appearance. They can boost your confidence, but then you should guard against becoming dependent on the opinions of others. It also allows you to control your image. (TeenVougue)

Why selfies are like writing memoirs

A lot of the above descriptions can be applied to memoirs as well. Any well-adjusted person thinks twice before posting a selfie, but when it comes to writing a memoir it seems most of us are willing to have a go. With a selfie you can make sure your best side is showing, but with a memoir there is no place to hide. 50 000 words make lies and secrets tricky. You expose yourself in many ways and on so many levels.

I have met people who want to write a memoir to ‘bare all’. The funny thing is they avoid social media because they say it is egotistical or self-serving. Just think about that for a moment. Books are written with the hope that millions will read them. You will be exposing yourself to comment, compliment and ridicule just like the 'selfie-poster' you're berating. I am not saying you have to have a social media presence to write a memoir, but consider the similarities. Taking a selfie is also a lot easier than writing a memoir.

Three important questions to answer before writing a memoir:

  1. Has enough time passed? You can’t be too close to your story. You should give yourself enough time to heal. You can only write about pain once it has been dealt with. Until then, keep a journal, collect memories, make scrapbooks. You don’t know what is important yet.
  2. Why are you writing it? Writing a book because someone, a friend, a therapist, a spouse thinks you should is a bad idea. You must want to write it because you love writing more than anything else.
  3. Can you be honest? There is no Photoshop or Instagram filter for real life.

As with all things in life there is good and there is bad. There is too much and there is too little. Just think about why you are doing it and make sure you are comfortable with the reasons.

Feel free to post a Selfie and tag me. I’ll like it. I promise.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy The Top 12 Quotes On Writing Memoirs

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. 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

Writers Write - Write to communicate

August 2014 - In Writing


Course

Description

Dates

Times

Writers Write

How to write a book

2,16,23,30

09:00-13:00

The Plain Language Programme   

Business Writing

26-27

08:30-16:30

The Social Brand

Social Media for Beginners

29

08:30-16:30

Short Cuts

How to write a short story

17

08:30-15:30

Event

Description

Date

Time

Saving Grace

Literary Dinner with Peter James

7

19:00-22:30

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

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. 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

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

Writers Write - Write to communicate

A Fabulous Resource for Writers - 350 Character Traits

Even if you adore your protagonist and loathe your antagonist, it is important to remember that nobody is perfectly good, or perfectly evil. Every character will have positive and negative personality traits. Make sure you have created real people rather than caricatures by giving your cast a selection of both.

I have compiled these lists to help you select the traits you need. Have fun, and happy writing.



 by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

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

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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 - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za 

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

Writers Write - Write to communicate

Word Crimes by "Weird Al" Yankovic

If you have pet peeves about how people use English, this song is for you.

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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 - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za 

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

Writers Write - Write to communicate

The Inconsolable Writer - From Distraction to Inspiration in Four Easy Steps

As creative people, we seek out perfection—a story we want to tell, a sculpture we want to fashion, a photograph we want to take. Tennessee Williams called it inconsolability. That’s a word I like. 

We are restless, itchy, even a bit frustrated at times. It’s the stone in a shoe. The grain of sand that makes a pearl. This is often how a good story, film, or piece of music is formed. 

Jim. Why didn’t she love me back? Why is the world so dark without her? Why do I suffer? So Jim, a musician, sits down and tries to write a love song. He tries to make sense of his pain. But he’s blocked: he can’t do it.
In our search for this ideal state of art—let’s be brave and big and call it art—we often get side-tracked. Down blind alleys that seem to take us away from the thing we were looking for. Yet we go down these alleys. Maybe we think it’s a short cut, or the graffiti is fascinating or in the distance we hear a faint throb of music. We follow. 

Jim. Jim can’t write. In despair, he packs his bags and goes to Spain. It seems like a good idea. Here he meets lots of interesting friends. One—let’s call him Stieg—invites him to help out in a refugee camp in Africa. Jim is drawn into this world. Seeing real suffering makes him forget about the girl who didn’t love him back.
So now you are seemingly further away from the thing you want—the song, the poem, the story. You feel like you’re running away and maybe you are. Running away is never a bad idea—even if you play truant from work or escape into a good book. This alley is interesting, it draws you in. You want to know what’s on the other side.

Jim. Jim is on a connecting flight to London—he promised Stieg he’d meet him at a music concert. On the plane, he meets a girl. They get talking. She’s also going to the concert—there’s a connection. There’s a first date, first kiss, a night at his hotel. It’s a summer fling. It’s the best summer ever.
Sometimes the alley leads to a cul-de-sac. There’s nothing there. Other times it opens into an open field, a place of extraordinary light—an unexpected and magical door that takes you into a new world. 

Jim. Back in his home city, Jim sits, drinking a beer in his favourite café and the lyrics for the song come. He remembers the pain of the break-up but he can even smile at the absurdity of the relationship.
Now, if he didn’t write the song that would also be fine. Maybe Jim stayed in Africa and founded a mission—his distraction led him to the thing he was supposed to be doing in the first place. Maybe he created a way for music to heal people and bring them together. It doesn’t matter. He went down the alley—he went looking for something. 

Distraction is not the end of the world.
Taking a break from your creative project can lead to places of inspiration, insight and deeper experience. They may even help you find the truth—truth isn’t as clean as perfection, but everyone recognises its smell. It will be real.

 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.

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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

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Follow @Writers_Write

Writers Write - Write to Communicate

Is it important to have an author platform?

Any author needs to have an author platform. It generates sales, it creates awareness, and it builds relationships for future sales. It also gives you credibility and establishes you as a serious writer. 

It is not only for authors who wish to self-publish. Authors who publish traditionally are also required to have an online presence. Social media interaction and blogging are large parts of the publicity strategy for the publisher. eBooks and eReaders have played a huge role in this. 

For any aspiring author it is something you need to establish as soon as possible. Your online presence is where you will direct publishers in your query letters and how you will reach readers if you wish to self-publish. Basically you want to build your following before you publish.

How do you start?

Your blog is your base; which other sites you choose to use is up to you. Spend some time on each one before you decide. You use your social media pages to direct your readers to your blog or website. You can set up a blog using any of the sites. It is free and easy. So easy even I could do it. I got stuck at stages, but Google, or a friend, could always help me out. For your author platform you should think carefully about the topic of your blog or website. You can use it as a showcase, as an informative site for other writers, as a place to express your creativity, or as a window into a writer’s life.

Authors who blog

There are so many, but I’ll mention a few, and what they do, here. 
Janet Fitch publishes a short story. Jane Porter gives us a glimpse into her writing life. Julia Quinn and Mary Balogh post encouragement and jokes and share their writing experiences with their followers. 
Michael RobothamAndrea CremerGeorge RR MartinJodi PicoultMargaret AtwoodCory DoctorowJackie Collins,Veronica Roth and Neil Gaiman interact with fans and share news of publications, book reviews and recommendations. 
John Green is a blogging legend. Paulo Coelho shares his life with his fans. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner blog about anything that interests them and suits their Freakanomics brand. 
What to do is as varied as the books we write.

Which platform is right for you?

Social media can be daunting, but by spending time online you will soon be able to find a place where you are comfortable. Start by lurking. 

  1. Facebook and Google+ are a good first stop. Most people are on one of these already. It is almost non-negotiable. Facebook, because it is so big and Google+ because Google+ is Google and Google is the internet. You cannot ignore this platform. Facebook is no longer organic. It is a money game. Google+ is more organic, and you don’t have to pay to get your posts noticed in feeds.
  2. Twitter also drives traffic to your blog, but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. You either love Twitter or you hate it. Pinterest is my personal favourite, just because I like pretty pictures. I use it more as a creative base, writing being only one of the elements. Instagram is fun and a must if your writing has anything to do with fashion or if your work is very image driven like travel or photography.
  3. LinkedIn is good to keep your CV up to date. It is crucial if you write for payment, as in copy writing or ghost writing and for non-fiction writers who wish to establish their credentials on their topic. I believe every writer should have a Goodreads profile. Update books you have read, review books you’ve read and add books you’d like to read.

And then...

Regardless of which platforms you choose, find authors who also use them and follow them. Follow publishers and agents and booksellers. It will give you a good idea of what is going on in the industry. There is no one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to social media. It’s up to you to find your fit. 

An author platform is more important than ever before. For more information, advice and encouragement join me for The Social Brand workshop on Thursday, 31 July 2014.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you'll love A Writer's Friends - how to build an author platform.

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. 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

Writers Write - Write to communicate

How to write an irresistible book blurb in five easy steps

Your blurb will be an important part of your marketing. It is vital to get a reader’s attention. To write a good blurb, you have to make it short. Cut out sub-plots. Add tension to make it dramatic. Try not to mention more than two character’s names, and promise your audience a read they won’t forget.

I’ve come up with this easy acronym to help you create a blurb. I call it SCOPE. Follow these five pointers and see if it works for you.

Setting
Conflict
Objective
Possible Solution
Emotional Promise

  1. Setting: All stories involve characters who are in a certain setting at a certain time. 
  2. Conflict: A good story places these characters in a situation where they have to act or react. A good way to start this part of your blurb is with the words: But, However, Until
  3. Objective: What do your characters need to do?
  4. Possible Solution: Offer the reader hope here. Show them how the protagonist can overcome. Give them a reason to pick up the book. Use the word ‘If’ here.
  5. Emotional Promise: Tell them how the book will make them feel. This sets the mood for your reader.

    I saw The Edge of Tomorrow today, and I decided to write a blurb using this formula.

    Example

    1. London. The near future. Aliens have invaded Earth and colonised Europe. Major William Cage is a PR expert for the US Army, which is working with the British to prevent the invaders from crossing the English Channel. Battle after battle is lost until an unexpected victory gives humanity hope.
    2. But the enemy is invincible. A planned push into Europe fails and Cage finds himself in a war he has no way to fight, and he is killed. However, he wakes up, rebooted back a day every time he dies.
    3. He lives through hellish day after day, until he finds another soldier, Sergeant Rita Vrataski, who understands what he can do to fight the enemy. Cage and Vrataski have to take the fight to the aliens, learning more after each repeated encounter.
    4. If they succeed, they will destroy the enemy, and save Earth.
    5. This thrilling action-packed science fiction war story will show you how heroes are made and wars can be won. Against the odds.

    SCOPE will work for any blurb. Why don’t you try it?

    If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy How to write a query letter in 12 easy steps and How to write a one-page synopsis

     by Amanda Patterson

    © Amanda Patterson

    Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter. Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature course, Writers Write, specializes in the teaching of fiction writing. 

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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 - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za 

    Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

    Follow @Writers_Write

    Writers Write - Write to communicate