12 Simple and Effective Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills Over Time

6. Keep a journal — and keep it casual.

12 Simple and Effective Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills Over Time

Hello,

The post above is from a wonderful blog I’ve been following for a while now and gained a lot of inspiration from, http://www.megdowell.com ‘Novelty Revisions’. Click the blue link above for the full post.

In a number of ways, 12 in fact, this post shows how taking a long term approach can pay dividends for your writing.

I’ve found taking my time has helped massively when it comes to my writing. It may seem obvious but I can write and improve and write some more at my own pace. Also, it stops me from worrying about other authors who have accomplished more in the same time I’ve been writing. Its my writing journey, nobody else’s.

Hope you enjoy it.

Twitter For Nonvultures

by efrussel   I took a Twitter break recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about Twitter. So, a Twitter post. I’m not one of those people who thinks Twitter is absolutely integral to your success as an indie writer. I think there are loads of ways to be successful as an indie writer, and […]

Twitter For Nonvultures

Hello,

The post above is from http://www.ryanlanz.com ‘A Writer’s Life’. A blog I’ve enjoyed for a while and it has loads of writing tips, information, and advice.

The post itself (https://ryanlanz.com/2019/11/12/twitter-for-nonvultures/) is about navigating Twitter for Writers. I’m still trying to get my head around myself but it can be a useful tool and the opportunities to engage with other writers are plentiful.

I’ve been working on my WIP a lot recently, a story about a man plagued by strange dreams and how he overcomes them, and have been neglecting my blog.

So, I decided to re-blog a selection of posts I have found really useful. This is the first and hopefully you will find this as helpful as I did.

My first Monster Story and the joys of the First Draft.

“Not what I thought it would be. Must try harder. But I am happy with it. I’m always happy when I’ve finished a story.”

The above is my own critique of my first attempt at writing a monster story. Back on November 5th 2019 (https://johnrsermon.com/2019/11/05/some-kind-of-monster-this-monster-lives/), I blogged regarding how I was starting my story about a rampaging monster and a curious man looking to find out more about it. As the story progressed and ultimately finished, the monster itself was not harming anyone but trying to better those who it felt were doing the most harm amongst the human race (Abusive boyfriends, Fraudsters, etc.) There was one monster for each country on Earth and each went about trying to change the world by violence against material things only and making what it has deemed to be the eviler members of the human race face up to what they have done and change. The bigger the monster, the more hate in that country. The monster disappears once the evil is removed or at least made to retreat.

Now, this wasn’t my original plan for the story. I decided to start and see where the story would take me (#pantser #pansterforever #pantserandproud) and although I do like my story and wonder what it could have been. With the monster movies I’ve been influenced by having a lot of destruction and I do really like it when monsters fight monsters. Humans killing giants’ monsters seems a bit weird to me. But behemoths raging at each other is always something I sit up straight to watch on the big screen. And sit up straight to read about, really. Obviously, the remaining who knows how many re-drafts of the story can address this, but I can already see that it will be way different than my first draft.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re writing a story and when you have finished, you immediately know that the first draft and the last will be many MANY miles apart? And possibly not even close to being related?

That’s how I’m feeling about my monster story. Sure, I am quite happy with it, but that’s what first drafts are for. I’m currently in the process of planning how I change things but keep the same themes. The monster was born from the negativity in the world. I think the other characters around the beast, the two people looking for more through curiosity and the women on a wild ride to try and kill the monster, will need to be fleshed out a bit. I feel like all I’ve done with the first draft is to draw an outline for them. The more drafts I do, the more detailed they will get. Hopefully. But, as I say, that’s what first are for. And I think I love them for it.

Hope you have a good day.

The Hunt: Part 3.

https://johnrsermon.com/2020/01/27/the-hunt-part-1/

https://johnrsermon.com/2020/01/30/the-hunt-part-2/

The hunters scaled the car wall and onto the road. Their target moved at high speed down the middle as cars calmly drove to the sides. Sam and John smiled as they received cheers from the crowd. The lizard screeched back at them before jumping down from the road and into trees nearby losing the helicopters in the process. The hunters warned off the people with their cameras on the ground from following them as they kept chase.

“You talk to me about putting the public in danger? Oh, my days! Your aim is all over the place, and you fire bullets like they’re going out of fashion.” Said Sam.

“I’m firing the bullets to keep the target in my sights. It keeps feigning to go up a tree, and I keep stopping it. Unlike you and your archaic bow and arrow. Your arrows aren’t even sticking into the trees.” Replied John. Sam elbow barged John out of the way and smiled as he fell to the ground. John glared at Sam as he ran off. The lizard had now climbed a nearby tree and was moving quickly between the branches to stop Sam from getting a clear shot. Sam withdrew an arrow, but before he was able to fire, John speared him in the back with his shoulder and knocked the arrow out of his hand. Sam rose quickly and flew at John with carefully placed punches and kicks, which John was able to parry, but when he tried to retaliate each attack did not land and was pushed away. Each hunter was equal to the other, and as they fought, the lizard slowed down and stopped still in his tree and watched for a while. It slowly descended and continued to watch from the forest floor with its head twitching in different directions before stopping still again and calmly watching the fighting hunters.

“You really are predictable.” Said John as he kicked at Sam’s head only to miss as Sam spun on the ground and tried to land his kick, which John swiped away with a stiff forearm.

“How can you say that? The same person trained us. That makes no sense.” Sam said as he pushed John away and jumped into the air to try and land a punch from above. He missed as John took two steps backwards. “You are basically a blonde version of me.”

“You wish. You’re a brunette version of me.” John said. “And I didn’t say anything.”

“Don’t you lie to me.” Sam said.

“He’s not lying.” Said a smooth voice from next to them. They stopped fighting and watched open-mouthed as the lizard morphed into a twelve-foot-tall man-lizard and stood on its back legs.

“Did you know they could do that?” Said Sam.

“No. Not at all.” Said John.

The man-lizard grabbed both men by the back of their heads and smashed them together. He recoiled and squinted as the crunching sound filled the trees and scattered some nearby birds. He then grabbed Sam’s hands and closed his eyes. Two huge black and green limbs changed into human arms and hands matching Sam’s. He carefully grabbed Sam’s bow and an arrow and fired one through John’s eye. He then took John’s hands and waited for the change to happen again. Once complete, he grabbed one of John’s guns and shot Sam through an eye. He placed the relevant weapons in Sam and John’s hands before looking carefully in John’s bag. The man-lizard found John’s spare bullets before searching Sam and locating all of his remaining arrows.

“Thanks for the chase and the fun, gentleman. And for the ammunition.” He said nodding in appreciation to the prizes he had just collected. With both eyes closed, he changed back into a lizard and disappeared into the night.

The Hunt: Part 2.

https://johnrsermon.com/2020/01/27/the-hunt-part-1/

The lizard’s arms and legs flailed up and down as it struggled to run away, knocking people into the road and to the ground as it tried to flee. Cars screeched around it and ploughed into signposts and buildings and people. John bounded over the vehicles and quickly helped as many people as he could. He bounced across the vehicle roofs with some people cheering him on as he did so. John stopped for a moment and removed and launched a dagger. He punched the air and gestured to the growing crowd as the blade grazed the side and split some of the scaly skin from the lizard’s tail. The lizard threw up its head and howled as it kept moving.

“Stop showing off. It’s making its way to the tunnel. You know it can escape to the sewers that way, right?” Said Sam as he finished moving down the building and jumped onto the pavement.

“Really? I did not know that. Thank you so much, big Sam, for pointing out the most obvious thing known to any hunter worth anything at all.” John said as he continued and jumped on top of a recently crashed car. The lizard moved fast now, hitting its stride between people and vehicles and towards the tunnel.

Both hunters pushed their way through the panicked or mesmerised crowd and made sure to thank those who actively moved out of their way. The helicopters above followed them with spotlights. Cameras big and small followed them on the ground. Some more heroic passers-by tried to slow their target down but were dealt with efficiently by a powerful lizard limb. The tunnel approached, and Sam stopped on top of a post box. John looked back and groaned through his teeth. Sam took off his coat and aimed his arrow carefully.

A Land Rover coming through the tunnel suddenly started to swerve as the driver let the fear overcome him as the giant lizard hissed closer. Sam aimed and fired an arrow into one of the car wheels that burst and the car jolted and flipped over in front of the tunnel entrance. The crash caused several other vehicles to crash, and in no time, they began to pile up and block the tunnel.

“Dam, you Sam. Don’t put the public in danger like that.” Said John as he watched the lizard scale the cars and scurry up and onto the road running over the top of the tunnel.

“It stopped the demon going through the tunnel did it not?” Sam shouted back. He put his bow away and grabbed his coat before joining John again on the chase.

The hunters scaled the car wall and onto the road. Their target moved at high speed down the middle as cars calmly drove to the sides. Sam and John smiled as they received cheers from the crowd. The lizard screeched back at them before jumping down from the road and into trees nearby losing the helicopters in the process. The hunters warned off the people with their cameras on the ground from following them as they kept chase.

Getting into the Habit: Writing in the Morning.

Do you write in the morning and if so, how long and how are you finding it?
For many years I have wrestled with the idea of writing in the morning. I’ve read many articles from authors who get up early (3 am or 4 am) and write before the rest of the house wakes up. I considered trying this and pondered that, as it is me and my fiancé only in the house, that when the house wakes up it won’t be that loud and she won’t disrupt my writing anyway.

But at 3 am? Really?

I contemplated trying this for a trial period but realised quickly that sleep is awesome. And that getting a good night’s sleep helps me to be refreshed and more open to solid, useful ideas instead of the weird ones I get when I’m overtired. Although, maybe I should start writing those weird ones down in future? Were they weird? I can’t remember. Anyway, I endeavoured to get out of bed slightly earlier than usual (my alarm goes off at 6.45am and I snooze till 7.15 usually) and write something before I go to work (my bus is at 7.43 or 7.53 depending on how organised I am. Or 08.03 when all hell breaks loose)
This endeavour has been working so far. A bit. I rarely get up earlier than 7.15 but I am managing to get a small amount of writing done each morning. I’ve been doing this now for about 5 weeks and it has been a great habit to get into. Even though I don’t write a lot in the mornings, average 300 words, it has helped me to push along with my current WIP and it is almost finished. About another week and I should be done. Hopefully.
Getting into the habit has also allowed me to read more regularly. I read on the way to work anyway but I don’t give myself as much time as I should to read my ‘at home’ book.

Having written something in the morning I can now read in the evening knowing that I have if in only in a small way, moved my WIP along. It also allows me to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ (I only started watching it when it is finished. I’m up to season 4 now. Some people at work are jealous. I’m not sad about it.) knowing that my WIP is moving along.
I know it’s not a new concept or something revolutionary but pushing myself to change my daily routine has helped. Here’s hoping it can help me in the future.

The Types of Writing Advice You Should (and Shouldn’t) Take to Heart — Novelty Revisions

Hello,

I came across this awesome and really useful article regarding writing advice from

Novelty Revisions https://megdowell.com/.
We’ve all read writing advice but it isn’t always clear which to use and which to throw away. And who to take it from. This goes a long way to helping solve the problem. Here is the first part of the article:

 

‘How do you know if the writing advice you’re being given is worth listening to?

Does it matter if someone is a published author or not?

Who is “qualified” to give the best advice?

These are all tricky questions. So here are some of the types of advice you’ll generally get about writing, who they tend to come from, and how to apply them (if at all) to your own writing life.’

For the full article, click the link below the picture.

 

How you should interpret writing advice depends on who — or where — it comes from.

via The Types of Writing Advice You Should (and Shouldn’t) Take to Heart — Novelty Revisions

The virtues of reading two books at once…almost.

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Currently reading: The Breathing Method: A Winter’s Tale by Stephen King.

Also currently reading: The Good, the Bad and Me: In my Anecdotage by Eli Wallach.

Hello,

Recently, I have been reading Stephen King’s Different Season’s and really enjoying it. I always wonder though, with every book I read, what book I should read next to keep the enjoyment going. Usually, I wing it but recently I have started to plan ahead when I was coming to the end of The Body (Stand by Me) and starting the last story of Different Seasons. I thought, why not read two books at once? I have never done that before. Let’s see how this goes, shall we…

Well, actually, I have tried two books at once before but it didn’t work very well. I just ended up focusing on one book and forgetting about the other. I would always have to go back to the beginning of book two when one was finished. This time though, I have the ten minutes or so before my second train departs to take me to work and the twenty minutes on the train that allows me to read one book in a fair amount of peace. Beforehand, the bus or tram had mostly been my method of travel. Or walking. Each with plenty of things to stop me from reading (mainly concentrating on the road and other people. Laaaaame.) But waiting and travel with plenty of space available has helped my cause.

I thought of many books that could be my second book. As I did this, I began to hear something. What do I hear? What is that noise? Thousands of little voices but from where? I follow the sounds and they get louder and clearer as I approach my lovely bookshelves. All the books and their characters giving me their own reason why I should read them instead or as well as my current book. They say “Kindle is killing books, you smell lovely, you should be worried as you’re hearing voices from books”, and so on. I looked around and saw one book I’d been looking forward to reading since Christmas. Eli Wallach’s biography The Good, the Bad, and Me. He played The Ugly (Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez aka “The Rat”) in my favourite film of all time so naturally, I wanted to read it. And so, I now have one book for home and one for travel.

I’ve found it very useful and enlightening for my own writing to read two different authors and their very different styles. Each I enjoy and each is pushing me to make mental notes to use in my own writing. Stephen King (for obvious reasons) and Eli Wallach for his straightforward and unflinching account of his life. Most of the notes lean towards helping me to describe effectively and to try and make the reader feel what I want them to feel for a particular scene.

I’m also reading fast and racing through my books. But what of the next two books? Oh no. I hear the voices again…

Before you go. Quick question, if you do read two books at once, are they similar? Or different? And for either answer, why?

Thanks for reading. Have a good rest of the week!

 

 

 

Book Review: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian.

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Synopsis (taken from Giles Kristian’s official website at http://gileskristian.com/books/the-bleeding-land/):

England 1642: a nation divided.

England is at war with itself. King Charles and Parliament each gather soldiers to their banners. Across the land, men prepare to fight for their religious and political ideals. Civil war has begun.

A family ripped asunder.

The Rivers are landed gentry, and tradition dictates that their allegiance is to the King. Sir Francis’ loyalty to the crown and his desire to protect his family will test them all. As the men march to war, so the women are left to defend their home against a ruthless enemy. Just as Edmund, the eldest of Sir Francis’ sons, will do his duty, so his brother Tom will turn his back on all he once believed in…

A war that will change everything.

From the raising of the King’s Standard at Nottingham to the butchery and blood of Edgehill, Edmund and Tom Rivers will each learn of honour, sacrifice, hatred and betrayal as they follow their chosen paths through this most savage of wars.

Hello,

I purchased Giles Kristian’s first book, Raven: Blood Eye, in 2011 for no apparent reason. I just walked past the book, had a brief scan of the synopsis, and thought ‘Why not?’ Since then, his books have been and still are a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration for me and my writing. This past Thursday, I finished reading his 4th book, The Bleeding Land and wanted to provide a review. It won’t be too long as I don’t particularly like long winded reviews. If you are considering reading a book like this, I hope that this review can help you to make your decision.

For me, the best things about Giles Kristian’s books are the battles scenes (really well described. Using most if not all the senses to put you right in the heat of the battle) and the dialogue (solid mixture of humour and relevance so that no word is wasted. EVER) and The Bleeding Land continues this trend.

As the synopsis above shows, this book has a lot going on. A country at War and family are torn apart by it. The characters, mainly Edmund ‘Mun’ Rivers and little brother Thomas Rivers, become the main points with their family members and war comrades providing good quality support. Each main and supporting character is allowed to grow and develop well and at no point did I feel that any of the characters were there just to make up the numbers. Each character had a use to move the story along and help another or their own character’s story.

The scene is set very well to allow this to happen early on. You are introduced to the River’s family and the impending conflict of the country around them. This all builds to the Civil War beginning and the brothers taking opposite sides (Mun fighting for the King and Tom fighting for the Parliament. I won’t tell you why). Once this happens, the story moves along and does not allow the Civil War around it to engulf it, keeping the River’s family at its core very neatly. Along with the men of the River’s household, the River’s women are very well represented with the mother and sister of the family, Mary and Bess, shown as strong characters in their own right.

The battle scenes throughout the book are very well described and again using all five senses, helped me to drop into the battle. Sometimes, I smelt the odours of War far too well for my liking. But, that just shows in my opinion how good an author Giles Kristian is. In particular, one of many Battles, where the Rivers women, having been left to defend their household whilst the men are away at War, become part of the War as the parliament ‘rebels’ fight to take their home from them. This spans a few chapters and is not just about a battle. There are many other things going on which made it so compelling.

The only downside I could find was that some of the descriptions went on for too long and I found myself skipping past them. In most cases, it was the descriptions of the clothing that each character was wearing. Though very clear and informative, I felt that these could have been shortened to keep the pace going.

In conclusion, a brilliant read with rich characters and a good story, I would recommend this to anyone looking for an action adventure and historical fiction novel to read. You will not be disappointed.