Our motto at Writers Write is ‘Write to communicate’. We believe in the power of words. We love them so much that you will find hundreds of blog posts on this site offering writing advice for creative writers, business writers, and bloggers.
Self-publishing can be a bit of a swear word. Examples of lousy books spread around more than self-publishing successes do. But self-publishing is important. It has challenged the idea that there should be a select group of gatekeepers who decide what can be published. This has changed the publishing landscape and created breaks for writers, if only they are open to them.
Here are five myths about self-publishing and why they are simply not true.
1. You Can Tell A Book Has Been Self-Published
A cover that looks like it has been made on Word, non-existent margins and text full of errors. These are some of the horrors that come to mind with the word ‘self-published’. The truth is that not all self-published books suffer these problems, it just depends on who worked on the book.
As self-publisher, you do not have to wear every hat yourself. Investing in a qualified editor (not your best friend), an experienced book designer (there is a distinction between graphic designers and book designers) and expert book printers can make all the difference. It comes down to understanding the anatomy of a book. This comes from experience, and it pays off to rely on the knowledge and skills of experts.
2. A Publisher Won’t Touch Your Work If You Have Been Self-Published
Self-publishing can help you make a name for yourself as an author. Success as a self-publisher can indicate to a publishing house that there is a market for your book or genre. It can show them that you’ve got what it takes to sell and promote your book. This can lead to traditional publishing deals. Independent authors may choose to self-publish again once they have discovered the benefits.
3. Self-Publishing Is Vanity Publishing
It is true that some independent authors might be releasing their books to satisfy their own sense of importance. But self-publishing can give life to crucial books. Publishers have their areas of expertise and will only take on certain book genres. Their capacities allow them to take on only a specific number of books a year. This means that some books with merit are left out in the cold. Locally, fiction is the hardest hit. The result is a limited narrative of the country. So, for poets and novelists, self-publishing can be the only option to getting their stories out there.
4. Self-Publishing Is The Process Of Making The Book
Your manuscript has been edited to perfection, you have a cover that catches everyone’s eye, the right typeface. 500 copies are printed, bound and delivered. You have now self-published your book, right? Wrong! This is where the real work begins.
Sales, distribution and marketing can be the biggest challenge for any author. Often distributors and booksellers only want to deal with publishing companies, not authors. This means the self-published author has to think of other platforms and points of sale they can use to get their book to the reader.
It takes a lot of creative thinking and hard work to get it right. You should create a plan for marketing and selling the book before you even start to write it.
5. You Are In It Alone
This is perhaps the most common and damaging myth. There are many experts who can assist you for each step in the process. And if finding and managing the right people is too much for you, there are companies offering assisted self-publishing services. They can handle it all for you. Self-publishing allows you to apply your strengths and outsource whatever you can’t do. It’s all about finding the right team to support you.
by Savannah Lucas
Savannah completed her honours degree in English Literature at the University of Cape Town. She currently is the publishing coordinator for Jacana Media’s self-publishing imprint, Staging Post, where she assists authors with publishing their books. She is also co-host to a podcast about publishing in South Africa called Interns’ Insider 2 Publishing.
What motivates your characters to act? Motivations are the reasons behind why your characters do things. What motivates them to make choices? To act and to react?
The easiest way to explain motive is to ask ‘Why?’ Why do they do the things they do? If your character is strongly motivated, it is easier to define his or her story goal.
I thought using the seven deadly sins would be a good way to strengthen your antagonist‘s motives. You can also use them for your protagonist, although it is easier to use them for the antagonist, because they are negative.
Top Tip: They need not be the only motivating forces, but combining one or two of the deadly sins to their other motivations will make the adversaries more formidable.
Remember, we use antagonists to prevent protagonists from achieving their story goals. If they are strongly motivated, it makes your plot stronger. It increases the odds.
How To Use The Seven Deadly Sins For Your Character’s Motivations
The seven deadly sins, also known as the cardinal sins, are a grouping of vices within Christian teachings.
‘Most of them, with the exception of sloth, are defined by Dante Alighieri as perverse or corrupt versions of love for something or another: lust, gluttony, and greed are all excessive or disordered love of good things; sloth is a deficiency of love; wrath, envy, and pride are perverted love directed toward other’s harm.’ (via)
Greed: Greed is the excessive desire for more of anything. It is the selfish urge to want more than you could ever use or need. We mostly use greed when we refer to money and possessions. Greed is a great motivator, because greedy people are never satisfied. Using this for an antagonist would make them relentless.
Lust: Lust is similar to greed, but it is largely a desire for something abstract. It is commonly understood to be sexual desire for another, but it can refer to things like power, knowledge, and respect. Like greed, lust is seldom satisfied.
Envy: Envy is a feeling of discontent, a covetous longing that is aroused by somebody else’s possessions, successes, advantages, qualities, or luck. Jealousy and envy are the most common motivations for crimes in real life and in literature. Envy causes a person to desire an object, a person, or an abstract notion. This person develops an anger and hatred towards the possessor of the object.
Pride: It’s good to think of yourself positively, but you can take it too far. Sometimes, admiring your possessions, your status, your skills, your accomplishments, can go to your head. It can destroy your common sense and make you feel that you are better than you really are. It is a great motivator for an antagonist, because pride goes before a fall. You can use it to set up the protagonist’s success.
Sloth: Sloth is the reluctance to work or to act. It is extreme laziness. It is also indicative of spiritual apathy and inactivity. Sometimes a passive aggressive antagonist can be effective. We can be judged equally for the things we don’t do as the things we do. This sin isn’t great for antagonists because their inaction won’t help you to actively move the plot forward.
Wrath: Wrath is the desire to harm. It can be defined as an uncontrolled feeling of violent rage. Wrath usually becomes apparent when somebody wants vengeance. It can lead to violence, injury, death and hatred. If you use it for your antagonist’s motivation, remember that reason flies out the window with this sin. Wrath quashes practical matters.
Gluttony: Gluttony is overindulging in, and over-consuming, anything to the point of waste. In pop culture, this sin is almost always associated with overeating. Gluttonous antagonists consume. They devour. They give nothing back. The perfect example of this villain is Jabba The Hut from Star Wars.
You can use these sins as motivations for negative characters because they are so powerful. It is not easy to overcome adversaries who have these vices.
Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes, and metadata.
Six Good Reasons For Using Scrivener
Outliner, corkboard and index cards, scrapbook… Scrivener unites everything you need to write, research and arrange long documents in a single, powerful app. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing.
Created by writers, for writers, Scrivener is actually tailor-made for long writing projects. It banishes page fright by allowing you to compose your text in any order, and in sections as large or small as you like. Got a great idea but don’t know where it fits? Write when inspiration strikes and find its place later, growing your manuscript organically, idea by idea.
Whether you plan or plunge, Scrivener works your way. You can hammer out every last detail before typing a word, or carve out a draft and restructure later – or both. In Scrivener, everything you write is integrated into an easy-to-use project outline. So working with an overview of your manuscript is only ever a click away, and turning Chapter Four into Chapter One is as simple as drag and drop.
Need to refer to research? In Scrivener, your background material is always at hand. You can open notes right next to your work, write a description based on a photograph, or transcribe an interview, and take notes about a PDF file or web page. You can even check for consistency by referencing an earlier chapter alongside the one in progress.
Once you’re ready to share your work with the world, Scrivener’s Compile function can knit everything into a single document. You can print, self-publish, or export to popular formats such as Word, PDF, Final Draft or plain text – or even share using different formatting, meaning you can write in your favourite font but still satisfy those submission guidelines. For more details, take a look at our website: Scrivener
Don’t take our word for it! From plotting and planning to penning and publishing, we’ve helped all types of writers from beginners to New York Times bestsellers start writing and keep writing. Take a look at our Testimonials page.
by Julie Pierce
Julie is a Director at Literature & Latte Ltd, creators and publishers of Scrivener. She lives in Cornwall, England. A former journalist, she now writes for fun – though not as often as she’d probably like. Her favourite books include anything by Margaret Atwood and Joseph Heller’s Something Happened.
There are another 800 words to go before I finish this article. Time flies, but words are escaping my head. What does it take me to write more?
To deal with the problem I have to answer two classic questions:
Who is to blame? – I am, for the lack of writing habit, self-discipline and willpower.
What is to be done? – I am going to stretch my short story long and give advice on how to write more in this article.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~Neil Gaiman
My Rule of Thumb is to Keep Writing
As soon as I go back and start reading the earlier paragraphs it’s a totally different story. I start questioning my own reasoning and logic, correct typos, look for synonyms and so on. There writing ceases. So, don’t edit when you write, just keep typing. You can get back to it later and switch to the editing mode.
It’s later that you will proofread the text and maybe use the Hemingway app to get rid of clumsy sentences and passive voice. There is a popular trick – to reduce brightness on your screen so you won’t see your lines. I prefer just not to look up. Keep my eyes down on the keyboard as if using a typewriter.
Stay in the positive frame: “I think I can do it no matter how hard it seems”. Simple, but it works. I am trying to write more on how to write more… Isn’t it better to be ridiculous than boring?
A really great tip is to start your writing day early, before the world around you awakens. I try to get to my desk early to enjoy the most productive morning hours. I switch my computer and start writing right away. The sooner I’ll focus the better. I need to get to my writing before anything else.
So NO to reading unrelated stuff online, No to Skype and e-mail, No to Facebook and Instagram. Use one of many effective apps to block social media. At least for now.
Space Around You Matters
Yes, it may sound banal, but you have to organize a comfortable writing environment around yourself. I prefer a clear desk, my phone in the drawer. My coffee mug and the keyboard, nothing else.
Here Comes My Writer’s Block…
What else should I mention? It is 439 words up to here, by the way. Maybe it is time for a short break?
Or I’ll use this time when I can’t think of the next line for researching more ideas on the topic. Or I could edit my text a little bit.
Look for Inspiration and Useful Sources
There are excellent websites and blogs that can help you move on. Neil Patel , Joe Bunting, Joanna Penn share their personal experience on how to write more and develop a daily writing habit. I really like Joanna’s advice on behavioural charts. I will definitely try that.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” ~William Faulkner
Reading increases an ability to write. It encourages more words into a thinking process and provides tools to continue.
Develop a habit of writing a minimum number of words daily. If you set a goal of writing 750 words a day – it will become a lot easier to get down to work and hit the nail on the head.
The 750 Words website is a useful recourse to keep a good pace and make your first steps to a more productive writing. It offers curves and statistics to help you see the big picture. This resource is instrumental if you want to analyse your working process. It shows how much time was spent on writing, how many words were written, breaks made, typing speed and analysis of your feelings, themes and even mindset of your words!
If you’ve never tried such things and aren’t sure if it’ll work for you, learn a little about someone else’s experience with the recourse. In my case it was Mattan Griffel’s blog.
By and large that’s all it takes to write more. Keep writing, do it as often as you can and use tools to simplify your task. Even if your topic is a meta text on writing itself, it’s doable.
by Marina Pilipenko
Marina is a marketing manager at actiTIME, a time-tracking software company. She writes about productivity and work-life balance. She loves going outdoors in her free time. Follow her on Twitter and Google+
We have written seven stories to date! Well done, writers. I am very proud of everyone.
I will accept and approve posts for Cats and Dogs (Word count: 300 words) from 11 July 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 12 July 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00) on 12shortstories.com. Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world.
Please use the correct format:
In the post title bar: Story Title by Author Name.
Just above the story: Prompt: XXXXXX | Word count: XXXXXX | Genre: XXXXXX
Warning: Please add a warning if your story is not appropriate for sensitive or younger readers.
Can I still join?
You can join the 12 Short Story Challenge in any month. So, if you start in June, that will be month one for you and then May 2019 will be month 12.
Read and comment on at least four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.
This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
Our next prompt is at the end of this post.
A few more points:
I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
NO hate speech. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
Be careful of profanity.
I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up.
Here is my short story:
Poor Man’s Cocaine by Mia BothaPrompt: Cats and Dogs | Word count: 300 words exactly | Genre: Action
The girl was slumped against the wall of the alley. Her lips blue, her eyes lifeless. Joy tried to look away, but the girl demanded her attention.
“Cause of death?” Drew asked.
“Overdose, that’s why we called you.” The sweaty detective said mid-swagger.
Joy looked away from the girl. “Why not the coroner?”
“Coroner is coming, Senorita, but this one asked to be kept in the loop.”
“And?” Drew folded his arms.
The detective opened a small glittery clutch and showed them the content. Lipstick, tissues, money and a small plastic bag. “This is Cat.” He pulled out the small baggie, clouded by a powdery residue. “Our typical poor man’s cocaine. We see a lot of it here, cheaper and the high lasts longer, but this is new.” He picked up the second bag. A small blue pill sat snug in the bottom corner. A picture embossed in the hard shell: a pit bull. “They’re taken together. It increases the high, but something has gone wrong. She is the fifth one we’ve found so far.”
“Cats and dogs. You’re kidding, right?” Drew ran a tired hand over his face. “Any ideas?” He turned to Joy.
“Carlos was working on something, but it’s not like him to push a product that isn’t ready. Dead customers are bad for business.” Joy crouched next to the girl. “Are you done?”
The detective nodded, and Joy pulled up the girl’s skirt exposing her thigh. A brand had melted into her soft flesh, the tell-tale lines of his mark etched in scar tissue. “She is one of Carlos’s.”
“What do you mean she is one of Carlos’s?”
“He has diversified.”
Drew is quiet. He looks at her. “Human trafficking?”
“That’s why you left, isn’t it?”
Joy turned and walked back to the car.
Here is the eighth prompt for the 2018 challenge:
If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.
We have written many posts about writing effective emails and how to ensure good . It is an essential skill for anybody who runs a business.
In today’s post, I want to help you format your email.
How To Set Up And Format Your Email
1. Your Address
Your company will provide you with an email address. If you do not have an address from a company, make sure you set up a professional, easy-to-access address. Gmail is a good choice. Using email@example.com is a good idea. Yahoo and Hotmail are out-dated and do not make a good impression.
Tip: Do not add a strange background in the body of your email. This makes it difficult to read, distracts the addressee, and it is likely that your email will be marked as spam.
Remember when you send an email from your company email address you do so as a representative of that company. You are accountable for what you write.
2. The Date
The email program generates the date. Keep in mind that emails are admissible in court and are considered a ‘paper trail’.
3. The Recipient’s Name and Address
Check the recipient’s name and address. Your email program has a memory of previous recipients with whom you have communicated. It will ‘suggest’ recipient names as you type. Be careful that you do not accidentally add incorrect names. It can be embarrassing for you and bad for your business if you get this wrong.
4. The Font
Use a sans serif font such as Helvetica, Calibri, Verdana, Lucida Sans, or Arial.
It should be 11pt or 12pt.
It should be black.
5. The Greeting
Always be friendly, but professional. Do not use ‘Hi’ in business emails. Hi is an interjection. It is not a greeting. ‘Dear’ is a good choice for formal emails. ‘Hello’ is good for less formal emails.
You do not use a comma after the greeting in plain English.
6. The Subject
Subject lines are important. They tell readers why they are receiving the email. Keep them short and factual. Include a brief description of the contents of the email.
6. The Text Of Your Email
The main body of your email should have single-spacing between lines and a blank line (not an indent) before each new paragraph.
Each new paragraph should start on the left hand side. Use the inverted pyramid to structure your email.
7. The Closing, Your Name, Your Signature
Leave a one-line space.
End with an appropriate closing phrase, such as ‘Yours sincerely’ or ‘Kind regards’.
You do not use a comma after the phrase in plain English.
Your signature should be set up according to company guidelines.
If you have your own business, make sure your email signature is properly set up.
Keep it professional. Do not include verses, quotes, emoticons, or glitter fairies.
Your closing, your name, and signature should be on the left hand side.
If you send email from your phone, set up your signature there.
Have look at the example below for basic set-up and formatting tips:
How To Structure The Body Of An Email
1. Include the Reason for Writing
I am writing to:
2. The Purpose
Once you have introduced the reason for writing your email, move on to the specific purpose of your email. Here are a number of possibilities:
I would be grateful if you could…
Agreeing To Requests
I would be delighted to…
Giving Bad News
I am afraid that…
3. Attaching Documents
I have attached (Do not write ‘Please find attached’. Your email is not a clue in a treasure hunt.)
4. Closing Remarks
Thank you for your help.
Please contact us again if we can help in any way.
5. Reference to Future Contact
I look forward to:
hearing from you soon
meeting you next Tuesday
seeing you next Thursday
6. The Finish
Yours faithfully (For formal emails – if you do not know the person)
Yours sincerely (For formal emails – if you know the person)
Best wishes (If your business is informal)
Kind regards (If the business is informal or person is a close business contact or friend)
We hope this helps you to set up and format your emails. Remember that we need to present a professional from when we conduct business.
You’ve finished your blog post for the week and you want to share it. It may feel finished, but are you really ready to share it?
Here are 6 questions to ask before you publish a post:
Have you made good on the promise of your title? If you have said you’ll offer ‘10 Invaluable Tips’, make sure you do. If you can get people to click on the link, you’ve done the hard work. Once they’re on your site, you need to deliver.
Have you delivered on your genre? I know it sounds as if I’m talking about fiction, but every blog has a specific audience that expects something from your posts. If I follow a blog about dancing, I don’t want to read a random food post. (The blogger could post about what food dancers should eat or about the blogger’s favourite foods or restaurants.) Otherwise, stick to what your audience expects. If you blog about writing, have a look at this post: 30 Inspiring Blog Post Ideas For Writers. It includes many ideas, but they all relate to writing.
Are you preaching? Unless you are a preacher, don’t do this. The best way to write is by revealing your experiences through story. If you have a message you want to impart, it is better to get it across by showing rather than by telling. If you struggle to do this, take a creative writing course, or do some online research.
Does your post have a beginning, middle, and an ending? Ask a question or tell us what you’re going to write about. Give us the information in the middle. Sum it up at the end. The beginning and ending do not need to be longer than one of two sentences.
Have you checked your readability? We live in an impatient world. Before you publish your blog, check that your readability statistic is above 70%. The higher the better. Make it easy for your followers to read your writing.
Have you checked your spelling and grammar? This is more important than you think. First impressions count, and while most people don’t expect you to be a grammarian, they do expect you to have taken some care before publishing. If your writing is poor, it detracts from the content you want to share. You can use an online grammar checker or your spell check to do this.
Before you share your post, use this simple checklist. It’s a great way to double-check your content.
Today, many authors keep their surnames to identify their works. However, back in the day, most writers not only chose, but felt it a necessity to write under a pen name for various different reasons.
Famous female writers like The Brontë sisters and even J.K. Rowling used nom de plumes to conceal their gender and establish themselves as serious authors amongst a field full of men. Other famous authors simply wanted to remain anonymous or differentiate from their upbringings. Whatever the reason, pen names remained a constant in the literary world.
If you want to use one, but don’t know where to start, try this nifty pen name generator created by Invaluable to help! It develops a unique name based on the genre you choose.
Plus, check out the infographic below which highlights some of the most famous authors’ pen names and why they chose them. It might help gather inspiration!
One of my most indulgent ways to spend a Sunday afternoon is reading poetry. Poetry is beautiful.
But, a novel isn’t just about pretty words. Or, rather it isn’t only about pretty words. I’ll be the first to admit that I love exquisite descriptions and evocative prose.
Some of my favourite writers are stylists rather than storytellers. (And to get away with that, you must have a seriously good style.)
For the rest of us, overwriting or “poetic” writing should be a red flag.
While showing powerful emotion or a vivid setting on the page is never a bad ambition for a writer, it can be dangerous. And it can be dangerous for three simple reasons:
It’s used to wallpaper over the cracks in a plot. Sometimes it’s used to disguise a lack of plot.
It can cause a writer to lose sight of the other elements of a story, like character development, theme, dialogue, tension etc.
It’s self-indulgent. When you “show off” with your writing, readers will be pick up on it (and put your book down).
Of course, each writer has a unique style. Some have a blunt, simple or direct style. Others write with more rhythm, colour, nuance.
Your signature style
You don’t want to bleach that out of your writing, but you don’t want style to take the place of storytelling. Remember, a painter’s signature is always a discreet squiggle in the corner of his masterpiece, it doesn’t fill the whole canvas.
Genre, too, will also often influence how much of the “poetic stuff” you can fit in. Literary or romantic fiction will have more of it, thrillers and suspense less of it.
Seeing the world through poetry
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write poetry. You should. It’s a great way to explore emotions and themes, to play with words and rhythm. It’s a great way to warm up the writing muscles before you sit down at your desk.
As Hala Alyan, author of Salt Houses, writes, “Poetry coaxes from the writer a certain attention to detail, a heightened awareness of the world around you.”