Here’s a writing prompt for today. Using an unusual setting for your story can really help to develop your characters.
Everyone has a writer friend, right? That person in their life who’s never without a notebook and pen, whose head is forever in the clouds. So what do you get them for their birthday or for their graduation present? Don’t worry, we’ve got a few ideas to keep you covered.
A Book of Writing Prompts
Every writer uses writing prompts to help get their creativity going, so what better present to get them than a book choc full of them? There’s plenty in The Write-Brain Workbook, with great variety for different moods. Go on, have a look…
A Magazine Subscription
Not just to any magazine, to the magazine; The Writing Magazine. It’s a must-have for all writers, full of writing tips and competitions to enter. It doesn’t have to be to this particular magazine, there are plenty of others out there, but I find that this one is cracking.
These are amazing! They’re dice that you role to give you ideas for stories. I know many writers that use and collect them, and I’m sure your writer friends will find them super useful too. You can have lots of fun with them, in a group and by yourself. And, when you get bored of using the same set of dice, there are plenty of Story Cube expansion packs that you can buy.
A Poetry Card
You might remember that a few weeks ago we reviewed a poetry pamphlet by the wonderful Candlestick Press. They make great substitutes for birthday cards, and with the variety of topics available there’s something for every writer. You can take a look at them here…
An Editing Gift Card
For a writer to submit their work to competitions and literary agents, and even publishing companies, they need to have their work edited. We offer gift cards that you can give to them to help pay towards their editing services. Take a look at them here. They’re available in different designs and at different prices.
A Novel Writing Book
Writing a novel is hard, but this book here, Ready, Set, Novel!, is great for helping to plan the plot along with the characters. It’s a must-have for every writer, and your friend will love you forever for getting it for them. Don’t believe me? Take a look at it and see what you think…
A Novel Poster
These make A M A Z I N G presents! If you know your friend’s favourite classic novel, buy them a poster of it. These posters have the entire novel written on them, really small, shaped in an image relating to the book. I love this one of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea! You can read every word on it, so it’s like buying them a book that they can frame and put on their wall.
Hopefully we’ve given you an idea or two on what to get your writer friend for their special event. Tell us in the comments below the best present you’ve ever been given as a writer to give us more ideas!
Towards the start, when we first started writing our blog, we wrote a post on how to structure your novel. This novel plan works perfectly fine for every genre, whether that’s fantasy, crime or erotica, but if you’re writing a romance there are a few other things you might want to add…
The First Sight
When and where do your love interests meet? Do they talk on this first meeting, or do they just see each other? What are their first impressions of each other? These are all things you’ll need to cover when talking about your soon-to-be couple meeting for the first time. I think one of my favourite examples of this type of scene is in Bridget Jones, when Bridget meets Mark Darcy for the first time. Humour is used well in this scene, through the use of dialogue and Mark’s ridiculous Christmas jumper.
The First Kiss
When do they have their first kiss, and what sort of kiss is it? Are they angry, drunk, was it accidental, or part of a game? The first kiss can help to shape how their relationship forms over the course of the novel, and you can even use it as foreshadowing for their big finale snog, or something like that.
The First Date
This scene is sort of optional, although I imagine it will pop up in your novel. What is their first date? This could be anything, from a romantic dinner to a sports game to a night in. Make it suit the characters, and choose your setting based on how the date is going to go. If you want the date to go wrong, pick a setting that will help enable the bad things to happen. Similarly, if you want this first date to be funny to the reader, pick a scene that will help add to the humour.
The OMG THEY’VE BROKEN UP Moment
This is the moment where it appears all is lost and your reader’s new favourite couple weren’t meant to be. There’s no love there anymore (for at least one of them), and it looks like there will never be love there again. Your protagonist starts to move on with their life, because the conflict that instigated the breakup seems unsolvable.
Would you believe it? They’ve found a way through their problems! This is your big finale, the moment your two lovers realise that they can and will be together. They’ve sorted out the conflict and they’ve declared their love for each other. There’s a commitment between them, whether that’s an engagement, a promise to be monogamous or just a lot of sex. This. Is. It.
So there they are, the super important extra scenes you should be including in your romance novel. Happy writing!
Today, we thought we’d do something a little different. Instead of writing something ourselves, we thought it’d be great to get to know you a little. Don’t worry though, we’ll be back posting our usual tips next week!
So all we’d like you to do is tell us a little something about yourself in the comments and/or post a link to your blog for people to have a nosy at. The more writing-related it is, the better!
I’ll start you off. I’m Eleanor, and although I spend most of my time proofreading and copyediting, I also love writing crime and sci-fi. In fact, I just finished writing my first crime novel a month ago. Woop!
Now it’s your turn…
Writing a novel is a difficult process, but it’s also meant to be a fun one with a learning curve. If you’re going to be writing on your computer/laptop, there are plenty of writing programmes to choose from. We’ve picked out our favourite three, and written you a pretty swift analysis of each.
Although it’s not made specifically for novelists, this proves to be a great tool for writing your novel. It’s probably the simplest programme and the one that you’re most familiar with using. All you do is open a new document and type, easy. No frills, no automatic chapter layout, just a simple programme where you can type your novel. Although this programme has no benefits to you as a writer, it does provide the format that most publishers require when receiving manuscript submissions. You can easily change the language setting to numerous languages (there’s even separate settings for American English and UK English) then it will highlight for you all spelling and grammatical mistakes for that language. Also, because it’s such a widely used programme, there are plenty of online tutorials to help you become an expert at using it. Still, without this advanced knowledge you can still easily type your novel, no problem.
Scrivener is the dream tool for writers. It’s easy to use and has many extras that will really help when it comes to writing your novel. I love that you write your novel in sections rather than as one long document, whether that’s scenes or chapters, and all of these sections are separate to each other. This is super useful, as it makes restructuring your novel easy and effortless, especially through the use of the cork board. There’s also a really useful ‘research’ section, where you can store anything and everything you have relating to your novel. This includes things like inspirational photos, PDFs full of information, and anything else that may come in handy whilst writing. As someone who uses index cards during the planning of my novels, I love that they’re a feature in Scrivener. You just create a new index card for each section and write a small synopsis on it. It’s really easy to use as a beginner, and can be really useful for planning and writing your novel. In other words, Scrivener is the bees knees. Give it a go.
Celtx is technically a script writing programme (and is really great if you do write scripts), but I think it can also be used pretty well for novels. It’s pretty simple to use, and free to download too. You just type on the main editor, not bothering with things like pages and word counts, so you can just write without having to worry about reaching a made up target. It has a useful chapter heading tool, so every time you start a new chapter you use the tool to highlight it, then it appears in a sidebar. You can then skip to different chapters to look back at what you’ve previously written. This programme also has an index card tool, and it’s especially useful if you’re writing a story with more than one plot. There’s a selection of seven different coloured index cards, so if you’re writing the main plot you can use yellow cards, and if you’re writing about a secondary subplot you could use blue cards. I really enjoy using Celtx. Sure, its main use is for script writing, but it does have a novel writing section that is easy to use and that has useful writing tools for any novelist.
There are many other writing tools out there, all of which have different extras to help you write your novel. It’s probably worth trying quite a few of them before settling down on one; this way you’ll find the perfect tool that will help you to finish writing your novel.
There’s a common idea amongst many people that writing for children is easy. This isn’t true. In some ways writing for young children can be harder than writing for adults, as things like word choice require a lot more thought. Still, there are always tips to give for all types of writing, so here are ours for writing for young children.
Decide on a reading age
As children work their way through primary school they very rapidly expand on their reading knowledge. One year they’ll be stuck on simple sentence and the next they’ll be more than happy to use compound sentences. This means you’ll really need to know your target audience before you write. If you’re not 100% sure on what words are best for your audience, buy a literacy teaching exercise book for your age group and have a look at what words are suggested in those.
Make it a challenge
Books should challenge children, as it’s this slight difficulty that helps them to expand their vocabulary. Use a few words in the book that are a little above their reading age but that can still be sounded out. This way they’ll either be able to guess what the word means by the context or they’ll ask a parent or teacher. Don’t make these few extra words too advanced or too frequent though; you don’t want to put them off reading.
Make it aspirational
For children, a lot of their time is spent thinking about what it’s like to be older, whether that’s being year six and sitting on the benches in assembly or year three and being in a different section of the playground. Similarly, your books for six year olds shouldn’t have children of that age as the protagonist. The protagonist should always be a couple of years older so your readers can aspire to be like them.
Think in threes
This is best for books written for really young children, but in theory it works well for all readerships. Think of fairy tales; there are the three little pigs, the three billy goats gruff, the three wishes, everything is in threes. This is because they provide a pattern for the children without dragging the story out too much.
Repetition is a great way to make children’s books interactive. I remember We’re Going on a Bear Hunt was my favourite book as a child because I loved joining in with the repeated bits. Not only does this repetition make the reading fun (and so encouraging children to read more), it also helps children to recognise and learn the words on the page.
These seem like pretty simple tips, I know, but follow them and you’ve got the makings of a great children’s story. If you’re ever stuck just think back to when you were younger and take a good look at your favourite book then. What made you love it so much? Chances are, the reason you loved that book will be the reason your readers love yours.