Happy NaNoWriMo!

Participants in National Novel Writing Month begin writing on 1 November. The goal is to write a 50 000-word novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30. Find out How NaNoWriMo Works

Read some of our previous NaNoWriMo posts:

  1. Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo - Five Life-Saving Tips for Writers

  2. 30 National Novel Writing Month Tips 2012

  3. November is When Your Novel Happens

  4. November is NaNoWriMo - A Comic

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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

From Samhain to Halloween

A Short History of Halloween...

Samhain is an ancient Gaelic festival celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November.

Many important events in mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It is seen as a liminal time, when spirits or fairies can more easily come into the world. The souls of the dead are also thought to visit their homes. 

Samhain was a time of feasts. Dressing up was part of the festival, and people went from door-to-door in costume or disguise, reciting verses in exchange for food. 

In the 9th century, the Catholic Church moved All Saints’ Day to 1 November and 2 November became All Souls’ Day

Over time, Samhain and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day merged and became Halloween.

I posted these Seven Memorable Quotes For Halloween two years ago. I hope you enjoy them.

Source fro Image

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

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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

Finish That First Draft – Five Fantastic Tips to Keep You Moving Forward

Created by Writers Write

In Writers Write, we cover a lot in a month of Saturdays – practical writing exercises, a discussion of theme and genre, building plot and characters, as well as pacing and publishing. 

However, when getting the first draft of a novel down, never forget your most important role – to be a storyteller.

Style is great, structure is essential, hitting certain plot highs and lows will give your story a rhythm but none of it is as important as capturing the heart of your story.

Keep these five pointers in mind when knocking out that first draft or if you’re attempting NaNoWriMo next week!

  1. Excitement, not perfection. A passion for your story is more important than first-time-round perfection. Readers will respond to this initial energy even when you’re finished with the edits.
  2. Curiosity feeds the Cat. An outline or synopsis is invaluable to keep you on tack but don’t let it constrain you. Think of it as a blueprint rather than a finished building.  Let the story ask questions – and follow the answers in your writing.
  3. Date your Characters. Your characters will come to life in your first draft - this is the equivalent of those first nights out with a new date.  Find out as much as you can about them as you write.
  4. Find your Voice. Don’t try to imitate your favourite author, listen to your inner voice and try to get that on paper. If you’re writing in first person, try to ‘hear’ this character’s voice in your head.
  5. The Finish Line.  Don’t, don’t, don’t go back and edit and change. Stick with your first instinct and idea for the novel until you’ve written ‘The End’. Trying to start again when you’re in a first draft is like trying to reverse a freewheeling car on a downhill slope: impossible.

Nothing beats the sense of excitement when you finish a first draft.  Editing is the hard work – and it will come soon enough – but your first journey on a clean page is pure adventure. Embrace it.

 by Anthony Ehlers

(If you enjoyed this post, you will love Five 10-Minute Fixes for Your Short Story)

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. 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

Masks reveal more than they conceal

What would your protagonist wear for Halloween?

What do Tutankhamen, Zorro and Batman all have in common? They all wore masks. Granted, Tutankhamen’s most famous mask was worn posthumously, but he did wear a fake beard while he was alive. Just like Santa - the fake one in the mall, not the real one. The real one obviously has a real beard.

Even today, we wear masks. The most common celebration of masks for most of us is Halloween. The costume or mask you choose to wear reveals a lot about you. It allows you to express a part of your personality that you usually hide or repress.

The history of masks

We have been wearing masks and costumes for centuries. Death masks, fertility masks, funeral masks, plague masks. 

We wear outfits and masks to keep us safe - consider the hazmat suits worn by doctors and aid workers in West Africa. We wear them as disguises - think of bank robbers or actors. We wear them for occupational reasons - consider welders, astronauts and firemen. We wear them for sports - think ice hockey and American football. We even wear them for punishment - think of muzzles, a la Hannibal Lector. Ok, there might be a debate about punishment or pleasure in some circles. For me, it would be punishment. Can you see how I am revealing myself?

In comics

Super heroes, as an example, wear masks to hide their identity. Those masks change their behaviour. Peter Parker is awkward and fumbling, but add the suit, and he turns into a web-slinging-swinging-villain-fighting machine. Clark Kent is a super geek, but Superman is well, super. Masks and costumes allow us to have alter egos.

Like super heroes, masks allow us to hide who we are as well. At best, they give us freedom. A chance to have fun and misbehave. At worse, they give us distance from our responsibilities and ourselves. We no longer hold ourselves accountable. Everyday women wear make-up to change, improve or conceal appearances. Think of how far Renée Zellweger took that.

In books

In The Lord of the Flies by William Goldberg, the boys paint their faces. This allows them to set their animalistic natures, their ‘beasts’, free. In Phantom of the Opera, Erik wears a mask to hide a deformity.

As writers

As writers, we reveal much of ourselves in our work. We hide behind our characters; we live lives different to our own. It seems the more we try to hide, the more we show. We choose our characters as we choose our masks; to live a different life. We write to escape. Why do you get dressed up for Halloween? To stay home and stay sober? I think not. Consider this quote from Oscar Wilde: 

Source for Quote

Think back to your past Halloween costumes or think about the last fancy dress party you attended. Why did you choose that particular costume? What were you trying to say or not say? In your fifteen-year-old-Goth-phase, what did you choose to wear? In your awkward shy twenties did you dress as a sexy librarian or a warrior woman? These decisions tell us a lot about where you were at that time of your life. 

In character

Use this to explore your characters. What masks or costumes would your characters choose to wear?  Why? What did they wear five years ago? Have they ‘progressed’ or are they still the same get-drunk-every-Friday-night-university-kids they were a few years back? Did your character wear the same costume for four years straight? What we hide and what we think we hide are closely related. 

What mask do you wear? What mask does your character wear? 

 by Mia Botha

If you liked this post, you will enjoy Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo - Five Life-Saving Tips for Writers

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

    Keep Calm - NaNoWriMo

    If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you have 30 days to write a 50 000-word novel. 

    Created by Writers Write at Keep Calm-O-Matic

    If you want to find out more about this event, read Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo - Five Life-Saving Tips for Writers. If you still decide you want to participate, you may find this NaNoWriMo Calendar useful.

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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

    Five guaranteed ways to bore your reader

    Source for Image

    There are times when I pick up a book and I think, 'I can't carry on.' Even though I try to finish most of the novels I start, life is just too short to read badly-written, boring books.

    Why are these books boring?

    Most beginners overwrite - padding their prose with unnecessary descriptions and characters. This is mainly because they do not have a structured story with well-drawn characters and a cohesive, well-paced plot. 

    I have put together five sure-fire ways that will help you if you want to bore your reader to tears.

    1. Add heaps of backstory. Every page is important. Readers, publishers and literary agents make decisions about whether to carry on reading a book based on the first few pages. Do not waste anyone’s time with unimportant setting details and character histories. Introduce your main characters. Tell us where we are – briefly. Set up a great conflict with an exciting inciting moment. And write!
    2. Do not structure your novel. Reading a book seems incredibly daunting if you are lost in an inexperienced author’s stream of consciousness. A great story does not meander from one unrelated event to another. It needs to follow a path. Otherwise, readers will lose interest. They will worry about wasting their time as you muddle through the details.
    3. Do not create empathetic characters. It does not matter if you happen to love your unsympathetic psychopathic hero. The truth is that nobody will continue to read a novel without having an emotional connection to the main characters. They can be heroes, anti-heroes or villains, but they all need flaws and redeeming qualities. Readers read stories because they want to relate to someone in the book. We want to know why the characters are acting the way they do. 
    4. Leave unnecessary scenes in the book. I walk out of movie theatres when I watch a film where nothing happens. I stop reading books for the same reason. Authors cannot simply place characters on the page, add some dialogue and description and not move the story forward. Scenes should move your characters and your plot to the resolution of your story. If they don’t, cut them. Removing scenes keeps your story focused, your pace intense, and creates tension so that readers can't stop reading.
    5. Describe everything. You do not have to tell readers everything. They are not stupid. Reveal information through action and dialogue. This does not mean that you leave description out. It means that you do not tell us what every character, town, tree, or house, looks like in mind-numbing detail. Your characters should interact with the setting. A reader should be able to see and hear and smell the novel through the words on the page.

      Please do not make these five mistakes when you write. Remember that you are competing for a place in a crowded market. The Internet, television, movies, and smart phones have taken their toll and today’s reader will not tolerate long flowery sentences, insipid characters and pages of boring backstory. Writing like this is a guaranteed way to lose your reader in the first few pages.

      If you enjoyed this post, read Making a Stand - Three simple ways to get your hero to make a stand, and What does it take to write a book? - The five qualities published authors share.

      Join us for Writers Write - How to write a book

       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 WriteThe Plain Language Programme, and The Social Brand

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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

      12 of the Most Misused English Words

      Good writers share many qualities, but simplicity and clarity are two of the most important. This infographic highlights some of the most commonly misused words in English. If you want to appear competent, try not to make these mistakes.

      Source for Infographic: Listmonde

      If you are looking for more ways to make sure you communicate clearly, you may enjoy these posts:
      1. Begin at the end - the one essential email trick every business writer should know.
      Join us for our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme.

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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

      NaNoWriMo Calendar

      If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you have 30 days to write a 50 000-word novel. This calendar breaks it down into a daily word count.

      Source for Calender

      Do you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo? Read these posts:

      1. Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo - Five Life-Saving Tips for Writers
      2. November is When Your Novel Happens - Could you write a novel in a month?
      3. 30 NaNoWriMo Tips - Tips for participants
      4. Five things to do before NaNoWriMo starts - Advice for beginners

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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

      November 2014 - In Writing


      Course

      Description

      Dates

      Writers Write

      How to Write a Book

      8,15,22,29 Nov

      The Social Brand

      Writing for Social Media

      14 November

      The Plain Language Programme

      Advanced Business Writing

      18-19 Nov

      Writers Write

      How to Write a Book

      1-4 December

      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. 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

      Halloween Costume Ideas From Famous Writers

      This light-hearted infographic, created by Essay Mama, offers readers and writers some unusual ideas for Halloween costumes.
      Source: Essay Mama

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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