If you’re a regular here, you’d know that the past few weeks have been building up to the ten plus writing resources launching this August. For us, August is a great time of the year because it’s hot, you can write easier, and you can take walks for motivation.
But the one thing we didn’t mention is… it’s FREE.
At Yellow Scribe, alongside coaching students to writing success, we like to supply you with documents, printable PDFs and other useful resources so you can feel right at home where you belong, in the comfort of your own home. The writing resources available at Yellow Scribe are FREE and you can boost your writing game at home with the short amount of time each one takes.
Grab 10+ writing resources including:
- 10 Writing prompts
- A Story Mountain Planner
- A character planning sheet
The August Explosion is Yellow Scribe’s newest info drop containing a plethora of different writing resources, including…
The Yellow Scribe Story Mountain
The Character Profile Plan
This in-depth character plan gives you all the resources and prompts necessary to plan out your characters methodically, not missing a single detail.
The character worksheet allows you to include the most important pieces of information about your characters. Just print off the amount you need and plan out every character in your book.
Why this? Why can’t I plan out my characters myself?
Good question, and here’s the answer: you can! You can absolutely plan out the characters, but unless you have superhuman powers you could miss out a few details, or it might not be as sharp as expected. Ensure your characters are developed perfectly with a character planning sheet!
Everyone thinks they’ve got a book inside them.
I sat next to a mechanical engineer on a plane last month who was the most boring man I’ve ever met. When he found out I was a writer he said, ‘Oh yes – I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’ve had so many interesting experiences travelling the world with my job.’ I’m pretty sure his experiences were actually of no interest to anyone, anywhere, but I’m also absolutely certain that he is never, ever going to sit down and start writing it.
This might sound daft, but starting really is the most important thing. Well – one of the two most important things – finishing is the other. If you can start and finish a book then you’re already a million miles ahead of all those people who talk about wanting to write a book.
One of the points I make later in my tips is that writing a book is not easy. It truly isn’t. I thought it would be when I started writing, I thought it would be a doddle and I was very, very wrong. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to bear this in my mind when you start.
So – if you’re prepared to start and finish a book, even in the knowledge that it’s going to be a total nightmare, read on …
Read a lot
Read stuff that’s similar to what you’d like to write and then read stuff that’s more literary, too. While you’re reading, analyse what it is that you like and don’t like about the book. Work out how the writer moves the story along, gets you into the heads of their characters, describes feelings and places. Don’t let the words wash over you – treat it like studying.
Write about what you know
It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Unless you’re very keen on research and are willing to learn other subjects in great depth, stick to your own experiences and feelings – you’ll sound more convincing and sincere.
Have your own voice
Don’t try to be the next Nick Hornby or the new Martin Amis. Just be yourself, and if people like the sound of your voice and what your voice is saying, then they’ll like your book. Agents and publishers are always looking for something ‘different’, a fresh viewpoint and a new voice, not just re-hashed versions of stuff that’s gone before.
Do a creative writing course
You don’t have to do this – most writers don’t. But I did one (one evening a week – three terms – adult ed. college) and it really helped me. It taught me to get into the habit of writing regularly, it gave me the confidence to have other people read what I’d written and accept constructive criticism (very important – criticism is the only way you’ll learn) and it was a good way of discovering whether or not I could actually write well enough to attempt a novel.
Decide on a genre
Do you want to write a thriller? A romance? A drama? With a book like mine, it was more important to concentrate on characters, as they were what led the book. The storyline came from them. However, with a thriller or a drama or a crime novel, you’ll have to do much more forward-planning – map the whole novel out before you start.
Write the ending first
This is what a lot of writers do. I don’t, personally, but it might work for you.
Do a first draft
Again, this isn’t something I do – but most other writers do. It’s like laying down the skeleton and then going back afterwards to put the meat on it. Start with a synopsis and take it from there.
Don’t be afraid to self-edit
My creative writer teacher called it ‘killing your babies’. You might have a cute sentence that you really like, or a character who you’re particularly fond of, but you have to be objective enough to see when something isn’t working and just scrap it. Every time I write a book, I run two documents concurrently – the manuscript and another doc that I call ‘scrap’ and every time I cut something out of the MS I paste it straight into ‘scrap’. ‘Scrap’ invariably ends up being a bigger document than the MS! Just because you’ve written something, it isn’t set in stone. You need to be flexible, even to the extent of cutting out an entire character if necessary. The MS should be a fluid thing, that evolves and changes all the time. Don’t become too attached to things.
Even if you can only spare a few hours a week, make sure that you sit at your computer for as long as you’ve said you will. You’ll find that you spend a lot of time staring into space, playing computer games, checking your email and making phone calls. But as long as you’re there at your computer, you’ll write when it comes to you.
Keep a notebook
Carry a book around with you, because, without wishing to sound too poncey, inspiration does tend to strike when you’re least expecting it and by the time you get back to your computer, you’ll have forgotten it.
Don’t give up
Writing a book is not easy. It sometimes looks like it is when you’re reading an ‘easy read’ book like mine. It was actually reading High Fidelity that inspired me to write a novel – Nick Hornby made it look like a piece of piss! I soon realised that it’s incredibly hard. It’s frustrating. You can spend a whole day writing and then just delete it all at the end of the day because you know it’s wrong. I deleted 100 pages of my second novel while I was writing it – three months work – that hurt!
You can get stuck for days on end without a clue how to move to the next section – you know what you want to happen next but have no idea how to get there. It’s a bit like being lost on a journey, really. But the thing to remember is that all this is perfectly normal, and even though it feels like you’ll never finish, actually, YOU WILL, and that’s the key. Finishing is the key. That’s what most people who want to write a novel never do. And just the very act of putting the last full stop on the last sentence puts you leagues ahead of everybody else, even if you’re not the greatest writer in the world.
Give it to trusted friends to read
I did this, and it helped no end. Other writers say they’d rather eat their own leg than let someone see a ‘work in progress’. It’s up to you!
Now – presentation
Agents are totally anal about it and most people just don’t bother getting it right. The wrong presentation, basically, puts an agent in a negative frame of mind before they’ve even started reading. Below is the advice that my agent sent me, after I sent her the first three chapters:
Use double spacing on one side of the paper only.
Left hand margin should be one and a half inches, right hand three-quarters of an inch.
Do not justify the right-handed margin, ie. you must have a ragged edge. (Justified margins cause unnatural spaces between words. This is a cause of eye strain).
Use a typeface that most resembles a type-written font ie. Courier. Font should be at least 12pt, if not 13pt.
Indent paragraphs. Do not leave a space between paragraphs unless it is to show a time break.
Punctuation should be within quotes, thus:
‘I love you, John,’ she said. NOT
‘I love you, John’, she said.
Always use a comma before a name in dialogue – thus:
‘Has the doctor seen her, Fanny?’ NOT
‘Has the doctor seen her Fanny?’
Learn the difference between ‘its’ (possessive) and ‘it’s’ (it is).
Number each page consecutively, do not start again at each chapter or part. (It is very important to number pages).
Do not put your name, title, lines, etc. on each page, just the page number and the text.
Start each chapter on a new page.
Do not bind your pages, or use staples. Hold together with paper clips or rubber bands, or in a folder.
Once you’ve got your immaculately presented, completed manuscript, go out and buy a book called the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. This is an industry bible and contains comprehensive listings of every agent in the UK and US. Don’t send your work direct to publishers (unless you know someone there) as they don’t even have the time to read them these days.
There is a bit under each agent which tells you what sort of work they handle – be careful to choose only agents who handle the sort of work you’re sending them, otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. Send them the first three chapters and a nice friendly covering letter, telling them a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write. Don’t do a hard sell or try and tell the agent that you’re going to be a bestseller or the next John Grisham. This goes down very badly. If your work is good then they are skilled enough to know this within a few pages. If you’re attractive, it wouldn’t do any harm to send a photo as well. (But just one small one – don’t overdo it!)
The most important thing, however, is to enclose return postage. If you don’t then you’ll never see your work again and you won’t get any feedback.
For a more in-depth view of the publishing world and what you should be aware of before attempting to crack it, I’ve just read the best ever book about writing and being published. It’s written by an ex-editor and now agent and it’s essential reading. The downer is that it’s only available in the US and only in hardback, so it’s a bit pricey, but if you can afford it I really would recommend that you get yourself a copy. It’s called The Forest for the Trees – An Editor’s Advice to Writers and it’s published by Riverhead Books (an imprint of Penguin Putnam).
There you go. What are you waiting for? Get writing!
Up and coming artist Yoan Maukar has made a mark in the publishing world with an outspoken take on romance, loss and the heartbreak of loving somebody you can no longer have. Maukar is a young poet and authoress based in Indonesia, the largest Nation in South East Asia.
Maukar contacted Yellow Scribe in late June to discuss her debut poetry book, along with an in-depth preface about herself attached with the manuscript. Maukar’s book was promptly accepted and Yellow Scribe has been working non stop since Maukar sent her works in, to get it as perfect as possible.
The approach Maukar takes when attacking the volatile subject of heartbreak is a brave one, opening up oneself to the world and prospective publishing houses is gut-wrenchingly difficult; not all of us have the confidence to put our heart on our sleeve. Yoan Maukar made a huge splash in the ocean of Yellow Scribe’s publishing community – and her readers are eagerly awaiting the book’s drop on August 1st.
You can click ‘follow’ on this blog to receive updates on this case if you want to know as soon as Maukar’s debut book goes live – we are so excited to share this raw piece with our fanbase and followers.
Dear all the writers that haven’t published a book yet – there’s no rush. Spend this time learning, planning, building and caring for yourself. Drink some water, try a cup of coffee! Eat three whole meals a day.
Did you know coffee is scientifically proven to help our creativity? That’s why so many writers are known to drink coffee 24/7. Oh, and the insomnia.
Check Yoan out on Instagram at @yoanmaukar or read her author’s profile here.
If you want to become a better author, learning how to end a book well is crucial. After the final page, the reader shouldn’t feel how Dorothy Parker did when she (allegedly) wrote in a review, ‘This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force’. Here are 8 tips to write better story endings:
1. Build to an intriguing climax
2. Make sure your ending is earned, not improbable
3. Leave room for readers’ imaginations
4. Review the best novel endings for insight into how to end a book
5. Bring home how your characters have changed
6. Use the ‘5 W’s’ to create finality
7. Keep in mind how not to end a novel
8. Think about types of story endings that would suit your book best
Let’s examine each of these points in more detail:
Build to an intriguing climax
A great ending is all in the build-up. A taut climax isn’t equally important for every genre. A novel that relies on twists, turns and tension (a murder mystery or thriller, for example) will require a stronger build-up.
Books that aren’t as reliant on suspense, such as romance novels, also benefit from a satisfying build-up. Placing complications between your would-be lovers that get in the way of their happy union until the final hour keeps readers interested in what will happen next.
How do you build to a climactic novel ending?
- Make it harder for characters to reach their objectives – what stands in their way?
- If applicable to your story, increase characters’ peril.
- Vary pace – write shorter scenes and chapters to increase momentum.
- Keep the largest confrontations between characters for your final chapters. Hint at their approach.
Make sure your ending is earned, not improbable
A story with an improbable ending is frustrating because it rings untrue. Usually the ending that makes sense follows the simple logic of cause and effect.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot have an outlandish, fantastical or unexpected ending. There are very few absolute rules when it comes to writing fiction. Yet laying groundwork for your ending and building the anticipation of a specific outcome (even if the outcome itself proves different to what you’ve led readers to expect) creates a sense of direction and objective.
An irritatingly unlikely ending may result if you get yourself into tricky tangle in your plot. Many fictional characters are a little too lucky and are saved by the bell. Be careful of letting a strong sense of cause and effect slip away in your closing chapters for the sake of convenient resolution.
Leave room for readers’ imaginations
An ending doesn’t have to be the last nail in your character’s coffin. Many readers were frustrated by J.K. Rowling’s epilogue [no spoilers] to her Harry Potter series.
Rowling’s prologue leapt forward in time, like the ‘where are they now’ segments that roll with the credits in documentaries. For some, this seemed a ploy on Rowling’s part. It seemed a device to announce there would be no more novels in the series (or, at least, novels about her three main characters’ student years).
Story endings that leave room for readers’ imaginations are enjoyable because readers get to picture what comes next, without being told. A little mystery, a little bit of incompletion remains.
This is especially important when you write series. Make sure that your final chapters convey a sense of something new developing or beginning, even as this particular narrative thread draws to a close. A serial killer anti-hero, for example, is witnessed disposing of evidence by an unknown observer.
Review the best novel endings for insights into how to end a book
The best novel endings are masterclasses in how to end a book. Think of the closing lines to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, for example:
‘And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. […]
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
Fitzgerald’s ending, where his narrator Nick Carraway muses on everything he has learned about his mysterious neighbour Gatsby (and life in general), is compact and powerful. The tone, like much of the rest of the novel, is elegiac and nostalgic. The ending reminds us of the events of the novel while simultaneously looking to the future.
When you write your ending, pick up a few of your favourite books. Read the final paragraphs. Note:
- How the book’s ending connects to preceding chapters (does it repeat memorable imagery from earlier? What is ending-like about its language or ideas?)
- The tone of the ending – does it fit with everything that precedes it?
Bring home how your characters have changed
Story lies in change. Showing how your characters have changed at the end of your novel as they’ve reached (or fallen short of) their objectives creates a satisfying sense of development.
In the example from The Great Gatsby above, Fitzgerald’s narrator and protagonist Carraway has learned that a person’s past can dog him but he still has to keep moving forwards – ‘tomorrow, we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther’. There is a note of resolve and determination to keep persisting despite Carraway’s awareness that history tends to repeat itself.
In your novel’s closing chapters, show how your characters have changed. What have they learned and how have they grown? You can convey this information via actions, dialogue or narration.
Use the ‘5 W’s’ to create finality
In addition to showing how characters have changed, use the ‘5 w’s’ – who, what, why, where and when – as a whole. Shifting to a climactic location for your closing chapters, for example, adds to the sense of an ultimate destination.
This is what Tolkien does effectively in his Lord of the Rings cycle. Frodo and Sam venture further and further into the heartland of Mordor, the domain of Tolkien’s villain. The change of place – to the homeland of Middle Earth’s malevolence – helps to establish a sense of climax and direction.
Similarly, use shifts in setting along with character goals and motivations to show that your story is reaching its final destination.
Keep in mind how not to end a novel
A bad ending that fizzles out or miraculously rescues characters from a tricky situation can ruin a good book. Anti-climax, of course, is a valid literary device in itself. For example, Kazuo Ishiguro makes the reader expect a major event in his novel The Unconsoled, only for it not to happen. Even so, this is a risky path to take as some may see not delivering what you have foreshadowed as a cop-out.
When you write your novel’s ending, avoid (or at least put a different spin on):
- Cliched twist endings (e.g. ‘it was all just a dream’)
- Miraculous rescues (lightning strikes the villain just as they’re about to kill your protagonist? Thanks, nature!)
- Total lack of resolution/continuity (the protagonist spends the entire novel preparing to face the antagonist but decides to move to the Bahamas instead?)
Think about types of story endings that would suit your book best
There are many different options when you decide how to end a book:
- The full circle: Everything comes back to the beginning scenes
- The surprise twist: Novels such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn pull the rug out from underneath readers, keeping readers guessing to the end
- The ‘choose your own adventure’: Some novels’ endings are open to interpretation. The reader must decide how to interpret the outcome with fewer certainties
- The ‘happily ever after’: Everything resolves tidily, fulfilling expectations established in the course of the novel
These are just some possible approaches. Think about the structure of your novel. Will your ending make readers see preceding chapters in a new light? Or will it simply confirm the impressions and expectations you’ve fostered up to this point regarding how your story will pan out?
If you’re not sure what type of ending to use, write multiple endings and let them sit a while. Read through your entire manuscript from the beginning and see which flows best and makes the most cohesive sense for your story as a whole.
Writing the end of your novel? Get constructive feedback on your closing chapters from Now Novel’s writing community.
Upbeat music is stronger than coffee! It’s rhythmic, fun, and gets you singing and dancing yourself out of a bleh day! If you’re looking for some really happy tunes and the story behind them to lift your quarantine season spirits and even get you moving to the beat in your living room, you’re in good hands with Goodnet’s happy video playlist, enjoy!
1. Happy — Pharrell Williams
It’s hard to believe that this up-tempo song from the Despicable Me soundtrack, which has already become a happiness anthem of the 21st century, was only released in 2013! Written, produced and performed by American singer, Pharrell Williams, whose falsetto voice has been compared to that of Curtis Mayfield, it was the best-selling song of 2014 in the US. “Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth” sings Williams as the jaunty tempo gets your head nodding.https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZbZSe6N_BXs?enablejsapi=1
2. What a Wonderful World — Louis Armstrong
This is a beloved jazz song for many people, perhaps because it reminds us that there’s still tons of good news happening around us, despite the stories that grab headlines. Recorded in 1967, this song says there’s always something inspirational you can enjoy and learn from in our world when you intentionally seek out the magic within it.https://www.youtube.com/embed/A3yCcXgbKrE?enablejsapi=1
3. I Gotta Feeling — The Black Eyed Peas
Queue this up when you need to get energized, even if you need to remain at home, and the farthest you’ll get is probably your yard! It’s a fast-paced dance-pop tune featuring futuristic synthesizers, electronic influences and a tick-tock rhythm. The song starts in a restrained manner and then moves into a throbbing dance beat of changing patterns. It’s written and composed by all members of The Black Eyed Peas, together with French producers David Guetta and Fred Rister.https://www.youtube.com/embed/uSD4vsh1zDA?enablejsapi=1
4. Walking On Sunshine — Katrina & the Waves
Walking on sunshine is a gorgeous metaphor for feeling good. This jam from 1983, still a karaoke favorite, makes you feel ready to get your day glowing. Its mood-boosting effect has seen it used in multiple commercials since. Originally conceived as a ballad, songwriter Katrina Leskanich decided to sing it as a more upbeat song and the rest is history!https://www.youtube.com/embed/iPUmE-tne5U?enablejsapi=1
5. My Baby Just Cares For Me — Nina Simone
When the iconic Nina Simone recorded this song in 1957 for her debut album, she added her unique style to this jazz standard. This track remained relatively unknown, however, until it featured in a television commercial for perfume 30 years later, giving it the audience it deserved. It has since been made part of the soundtrack of several movies.https://www.youtube.com/embed/7z5a7UUBuwA?enablejsapi=1
6. Mmmbop — Hanson
Listening to this optimistic boy band singing their own song in 1997 is great when your day needs a boost. In an interview with Songfacts, singer Zac Hanson said “What that song talks about is, you’ve got to hold on to the things that really matter… the people you’ve nurtured and have really built to be your backbone and your support system.”
One of the reasons we’ve included it is the comment recently shared by Martha, an Italian mom, about the impact of the song: “My eight years old daughter loves this song in 2020 during the quarantine. Greetings from Rome,” she posted on YouTube.https://www.youtube.com/embed/NHozn0YXAeE?enablejsapi=1
7. Happy Together — The Turtles
Happy Together first moved people in 1967. This quintessentially ‘60s love song has been covered by several singers since, and been featured in many films and TV shows, most recently in the trailer for the 2019 film, Pokémon: Detective Pikachuhttps://www.youtube.com/embed/LhhcHMkmyF8?enablejsapi=1
8. Uptown Funk — Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars
This song is performed in a sing-rapping style, and blends funk, pop, soul, boogie, disco-pop and a Minneapolis sound. Critics praised its instrumental style and 1980s funk music influencers. The video made by director Cameron Duddy featuring Ronson and Mars singing, walking and dancing in a city street was, by November 2019, the sixth most viewed YouTube video of all time!https://www.youtube.com/embed/OPf0YbXqDm0?enablejsapi=1
9. For Once In My Life — Stevie Wonder
The most famous version of this enduring Motown song is an up-tempo arrangement of the original slow ballad speeded up and recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967. The song’s about finally finding that special someone who gives you a feeling of boundless happiness. It has captivated several artists as well as the public, with versions from The Four Tops, Diana Ross, The Temptations and Tony Bennet. https://www.youtube.com/embed/imsB543zqSM?enablejsapi=1
10. Don’t Worry, Be Happy — Bobby McFerrin
Released in 1988, this was the first a cappella song to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. McFerrin, who wrote this song, was inspired by the simplicity of inspirational cards and posters of the ‘60s that he came across in San Francisco.
One YouTube talkback from Jasmine says “This should be the theme song for the next few weeks as we deal with the coronavirus.” Many fans do see it as a formula for dealing with life’s trials.https://www.youtube.com/embed/d-diB65scQU?enablejsapi=1
11. Shake It Off — Taylor Swift
This bright dance-track from popular American singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift, was greeted with surprise when it was released in 2014. This is because it was seen as a departure from Swift’s earlier country pop music style. It’s all about her bid to shake off the intense criticism that came with fame and take back the narrative.
As she told Rolling Stone: “I’ve had every part of my life dissected—my choices, my actions, my words, my body, my style, my music. When you live your life under that kind of scrutiny, you can either let it break you, or you can get really good at dodging punches. And when one lands, you know how to deal with it. And I guess the way that I deal with it is to shake it off!”https://www.youtube.com/embed/C-Fruwatviw?enablejsapi=1
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Reflection is a powerful way to pause, slow down, and evaluate your life. Taking time over the weekend to reflect on the week that has past will help you keep your life in progress and your goals on track. Small changes on a daily and weekly basis can have a BIG effect.
Make a commitment to spend 15-30 minutes over the weekend (Saturday or Sunday) to first, look back and then, look forward. I have outlined a few questions, best answered in writing, to help get you started.
- What did I accomplish?
- What didn’t I accomplish that I wanted to? Why?
- What did I learn?
- How did I grow?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- Who or what was my greatest blessing?
- What are my top priorities for the week ahead? Why?
- Based on my review of last week, what might I do differently in the coming week?
Use the power of reflection on a weekly basis to help you learn, grow, and keep moving forward.
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Authors and everyone who writes or works at a computer needs to pay attention to proper body posture/position, alignment, and movement — if you want to be a faster writer and be a happier writer, you must learn about writing ergonomics.
What Is Writing Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the science of work. When specifically applied to writing, it addresses how you should position yourself and how you should move when writing so you maximize productivity, minimize physical discomfort, and prevent damage to your body. We’ve already examined how to minimize eyestrain when writing at the computer in a past post, so now we’ll look at the details of what else you need to do.
Posture, Alignment, and Movement for the Sitting Writer
Your Writing Chair
You want a high-quality chair that provides a cushioned seat, excellent support for your lower back, and the ability to adjust the height of the seat and the position of the backrest. Go to an office supply store with a large selection and make sure you get one that really feels good, regardless of price. Don’t skimp on your chair; outside of bed, it’s probably where you spend most of your time.
Your Writing Posture
Think 90-degree angles between:
1. Your feet and lower legs (ankles)
2. Your lower legs and upper legs (knees)
3. Your upper legs and torso (hips and lower back)
4. Your lower arms and upper arms (elbows)
Note that you may need to get a different desk so that you can maintain the 90-degree angle at your elbows. Frequently desks are too high. You can compensate by raising the height of your chair; if necessary, get a good, properly sized footrest so you keep your lower legs in the proper alignment.
More important posture pointers:
1. Keep your weight evenly distributed on your buttocks and hamstrings, and let your feet take the weight of your lower legs.
2. Distribute weight evenly across all major surfaces of the foot.
3. Elongate your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head (the point on your skull directly above the tops of your ears).
4. Rotate the bottom of your tailbone forward and the top of the sacrum backward, but don’t force it.
5. Pull your chin back gently; seek to have your ears directly above your shoulders.
6. Relax every muscle that is not needed to either keep you in proper posture or to do the task at hand.
Your Typing Hands
You know that your elbows need to be at 90 degrees. Here’s how to protect your hands and wrists:
1. Keep your wrists in line with your forearms and palms. Don’t let your palms droop or rise up.
2. Consider using a wrist rest: a rectangular, soft pad you place in front of your keyboard. (Although some experts say you shouldn’t use a wrist rest.)
3. Don’t write uninterrupted for long periods of time.
4. Occasionally stop and trace clockwise and counterclockwise circles with your fingers; also massage your palms and do gentle wrist stretches.
Using Your Computer Mouse:
1. Maintain the 90-degree angle at the elbow as much as possible.
2. Hold it gently.
3. Initiate movement from the elbow, not from the wrist.
4. Keep your hand off of it except when you need to use it.
Movement at the Computer
Even when sitting at a desk clicking away at the keys, you’ll occasionally need to look at research materials on your desk, grab a pen, etc. Here are 2 important points:
1. Maintain proper body alignment as much as possible. For example, don’t let your head jut forward or allow your spine to slump.
2. Stay relaxed.
Writing on a Laptop: Posture and Alignment Tips
Some writers, and I was one of these for nearly a decade, only use a laptop. Laptop use necessarily involves some postural compromises. Here’s how you can minimize body strain:
1. Keep the top of the screen at eye level, or as high as practical.
2. Use a separate mouse rather than a trackball or other cursor-moving device.
3. Consider using a separate keyboard.
Other Posture/Alignment/Ergonomics Resources
Visit these sites for more details on proper ergonomics:
- Office Ergonomics, from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
- Computer Workstation Ergonomics from Cornell University
- Ergonomics at Wikipedia
Suggestions for Improving Your Writing Posture
1. Check yourself frequently to make sure you adhere to these principles.
2. Print this post and keep it right by your computer for easy reference.
3. Evaluate your work area for all ergonomic considerations. Be willing to invest time and money in your health by purchasing the right equipment.
4. Consider using software programs that send you scheduled messages to take breaks and monitor your posture and degree of relaxation. I haven’t used any of these (yet), but I’ve heard good things about them.
5. Take regular breaks from the computer. Get up and take a short walk, or do some stretches, or drink a glass a water. Shoot for at least 5 minutes of movement for every 60 minutes you spend at the computer.
How’s your body alignment when you’re writing? What can you do to improve? Any suggestions to add?
Many of us, who are naturally gifted, can brainstorm and get ideas by merely getting in the shower or laying in bed and staring at the ceiling. However, others find it pretty hard to force themselves to sit and think. Here is where I come in to help you out and suggest some ways that might help you brainstorm for that ‘amazing’ book. The most important, stage of writing a book is brainstorming, which is the base. If you don’t spend enough time doing so, you will not be able to build on it.
For this reason, gather your brainstorming tools, and let’s get right into it. Your instruments could be anything from a pencil & a piece of paper to a cell phone or laptop. Don’t force yourself to brainstorm like someone else. Think deeply about it. What helps you most and what would be useful for brainstorming?
Here are five various and different ways in which you can quickly brainstorm:
- Use Writing Prompts
I’m always on Pinterest looking for writing prompts. You can search for some, and you will be amazed by the number of ideas that you can get. You can create a board for writing and save all the posts that you find helpful. You will always be able to refer back to it once you are stuck. Likewise, you can find many writing prompts on google too. However, I would suggest using an app or website that gives you the option of saving them or compiling them all in one space; this will help keep you organized.
2. Create a mind map
Mind maps can be made in several different ways, and this is why I find them pretty interesting to use. If you are the type of person who finds difficulty focusing on one thing, then a mind map will be your new best friend. If you enjoy journaling, then you can pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and start jotting down anything that comes up to your head. Try linking them using arrows or lines if they have anything in common, like the picture below.
Conversely, google mind map tool is another option to help you share and understand complex information online. You can create your diagram digitally instead of writing it down.
3. Post-it Wall
Buy your colourful sticky notes and get ready to decorate your wall! Post-it walls are a brainstorming technique for the creative and artistic people who find jotting down information boring. You can buy different colours and use them as codes while brainstorming. Instead of writing down your ideas on a paper, write them down on the sticky notes and stick them to your wall. Start making connections using the different colours you have. You will not only have your brainstorming done, but you will have a pretty decorated wall as well.
4. Talk to someone who inspires you
Sometimes all you need is just a bit of inspiration. Talk to someone who inspires you and get motivated. I’m sure all the ideas will come running straight away. However, try not to use someone else’s concept in any way. Your idea should be unique to be published and sold. One of my teachers once told me, “Research your concept before proceeding with it. If you find it on the internet, this means that it isn’t unique enough.“
5. Force yourself to do some research
I’m aware that researching might sound annoying, but it is crucial. Research is the key to brainstorming. It enables you to become more knowledgeable and find answers to the unknown. Try encouraging yourself to read one article every day to enrich your learning. To put it concisely, whether you love it or hate it, you will need to do it.
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1. A Weak Introduction
First impressions are everything. Often, writers will start with a long description of the setting, or a mundane event like waking up from a dream or talking to themselves in a mirror.
Not only are these clichés, but we don’t learn anything about the story or the character.
Readers will keep reading when you make them care about a character and their motivations. Who are they and what do they want?
That’s why the first paragraph – no, the first sentence – is important to hook your readers right away. For more tips on writing introductions, see here.
2. Too Much Backstory
Some backstory is good to introduce your character. But save some for the rest of the book.
Whether you’re writing a thriller, romance, YA, or any other genre, some detective work on the part of the reader is what keeps them curious.
Besides, too much backstory in the beginning derails the story when it should be moving along.
Give your readers time to get to know your characters and fall in love with them.
3. Lack of Research on Genre
Different genres have their own set of conventions about word count, character ages, etc. Some new writers end up with a manuscript that’s too long, too short or a premise that doesn’t clearly fit into a category.
Genres exist to make it easier for publishers to market a book and for bookstores to know where to shelve a book.
Even if you’re doing a cross-genre, clearly decide under which category your manuscript falls under. It will likely fall under one genre more than the other.
If you want to reinvent the wheel and do away with genres, realize the risks you’re taking. Alternatively, you can always self-publish if you don’t wish to go the traditional route.
4. A Weak Plot
Plotting is one of the most challenging aspects of crafting a story. No plot = no story. Sometimes writers make the mistake of thinking a series of events equals plot.
A plot has a beginning, middle and end. Think back to your high school or creative writing classes regarding the elements of a plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
For more tips on how to outline a plot, see here.
5. Telling, Not Showing
The art of writing is also about how well you can pull readers into your world.
Instead of simply explaining to your readers what’s happening, let them experience it as if they were actually there.
Engage their five senses: see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
6. Writing Like it’s 1889
All writers look to other writers for inspiration. And what could be better than the classics? They’re a classic for a reason, right?
This is why some writers end up writing overly flowery language or just end up sounding like they’re from a different era.
There’s nothing wrong with reading the classics. But realize that audiences now are different and the way we communicate has drastically changed since the Victorian era.
Unless you’re writing historical fiction, write for a contemporary audience.
7. Lack of Editing
New writers may think writing will take up 75% of their time, and editing only 25%.
Reality is the opposite. The first draft is rarely the final draft. The real work happens when you start editing and revising your work.
Editing is not just checking for spelling or grammatical mistakes. You have to watch for plot holes, inconsistencies, flow, etc.
The final draft might not resemble your first draft at all! Having another set of eyes, like a friend or a writing group, read over your work and give you feedback is often useful.
8. Query Too Soon
It’s understandable to get excited once the first draft is done. New writers tend to skip the editing and dive straight into querying.
The problem is, once you query an agent or publisher and get rejected, you’ve lost your chance.
Don’t rush. Remember to get your work into the best shape possible before querying!
9. Lack of Research on Agents and Publishers
Sure, it can be tempting to shoot for as many agents or publishers as possible, hoping one of them will bite.
But using a targeted approach will give you more chances of success.
10. Not Reading Enough Books in Your Genre
As you’re doing research on the genre you’re writing for, it’s helpful to read as many books as you can in your specific genre.
This way, you’ll get a better feel of the style of writing in your particular genre and the audience that might read it.
Now that you know not to make the common mistakes new writers make, you can start polishing that manuscript. Enjoy the bumpy ride!
As I sat on my armchair, third book of the week in my hands, the spread pages travelled through my eyes and into my mind. Every word i absorbed drew me in further, and no matter the story, this was always the case.
I didn’t often used to be a reader – I wrote a lot of stories when I was younger, but I never read the Harry Potter books, however I did get engrossed in Lemony Snicket’s world of ‘The Series of Unfortunate Events’. I bought all 12 books, including other books by Snicket pertaining to the wider storyline of the books.
At age 18, I have not read many books. But, I can tell you, that out of the loneliness of lockdown and quarantine, I found myself embarking upon the journey of being more mindful and, henceforth, reading more.
Humans love drama
Humans love immersing themselves in drama, exciting news, storylines, plot lines… But, there’s a sense of fear that takes us over when we imagine actually experiencing the story in its entirety. So, we enjoy reading the book, following the storyline, absorbing the plot, but not to actually be inside the story. Humans enjoy picking up a book when they need to relax, and putting the book down when they want to move onto other things.
It might worry you to imagine yourself inside the story, which is why we tend to rely on others to create the story for us.
I enjoy reading because, primarily, it allows me to escape, accomplish something, and learn something.
Which moves me on to my second heading.
We love knowing that we accomplish things. I’ll share a secret with you now – I have read one ebook. I can’t read them. I really, really cannot enjoy reading from a screen. Some of the reasoning is behind this point.
I love looking at my pile of books on the desk aside my comfy armchair, using a full cup of steaming coffee as a book weight to stop the flayed pages from springing upwards. I used to think of a thick book, like The woman in the Window or The Family upstairs, and think god, I can never read that. But the ease of reading a book in five hours overthrew me. I could do it!
After I finished The family Upstairs in 5 hours, I felt a surge of pride, productivity, self-improvement, and I went to tell my family. The support and happiness that shone onto me as I bragged about finishing a 400-page book in 5 hours was just what I needed to move onto the next one. I am now half way through the next.
I want to emphasise why we humans love reading in this second reason – we love physical accomplishments. We love the concept of bookshelves, a large frame with supporting beams, suspending a plethora of information. Read that, you could think, as you skim the bookshelves with your eyes. This is a great one, you could say, handing a book to a friend and letting them borrow it.
Reading supplies us with infinite knowledge, and the magic of hand-me-down books is a part of the beauty of reading.
This second point is tangibly paramount to the importance of reading, and although not everybody will agree that the physicalities of a book matters, but I absolutely believe that the crisp smell of an old book, or the shiny cover of a hardback makes me and others very happy.
Reading helps us learn
Reading teaches us, whether we notice it or not. Learning from others as they write it into a comprehensive paperback book, is in my opinion, one of the best kinds of learning.
For example, I read ‘courage’ by Osho and instantly felt an emotional and physical growth within myself.
There are many genres to dive into… self-help is close to my heart. I love reading fiction, specifically thriller and horror. Others choose to indulge in romance stories, books of history, geography, philosophy…
The reasons we read aren’t carved in stone – however we need to acknowledge that books, reading, and literature are the physical foundations of our culture. Information is stored in books, tablets, phones, our minds…
By: Fairouz Tamer
What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face…or kiss the boy next door? Maddy, a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, and Olly, the boy next door who won’t let that stop them.
Maddy is desperate to experience the much more intriguing outside world and the promise of her first romance. Gazing through windows and talking only through texts, she and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together, even if it means losing everything. Love can make you do crazy things.
Moreover, since I am so in love with this book, I read it a thousand times. Here is what this romantic and dramatic novel taught me:
- “Doing anything is a risk, not doing anything is one too. The choice is yours.”
- “Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”
- “Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.”
- “You’re not living if you’re not regretting.”
- “Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.”
- “There’s more to life than simply existing.”
- “You don’t exist if no one can see you.”
- “Life is hard, honey. Everyone finds their way.”
- “You can find the meaning of life in a book.”
- “Love is worth everything, everything.”
- “Sometimes, words are just not enough.”
- “Sometimes you do things for the right reasons, and sometimes for the wrong ones and sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference.”
- “The greatest risk is not taking one.”
- “Isn’t growing apart from one another, a part of growing up?”
It’s difficult to live when everything in the world kills you. So find yourself someone like Olly to make things less bad, charmingly bearable.