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.

Some Kind of Monster. This monster lives.

Hello,

I take inspiration from many things. Usually, it’s during my day job (The odd comment I ‘accidentally’ overhear mostly) or when I’m out running. But mainly it comes from when I’m watching movies. I’ve always enjoyed watching sci-fi and western movies with the occasional monster movie in-between. Like everyone who enjoys films, I have watched plenty of the awesome as well as plenty of the abysmal. But I keep watching them. Even bad movies inspire me with how not to do something.

Like I said, having watched my fair share of monster movies (such as Godzilla, Clash of the Titans, Attack on Titan, and many others) I have always wanted to write a monster story of my own. But, for whatever reason, I have put it off. Until now.

Most recently, I have been focusing on a short story for a competition. I managed to get it finished before the deadline. That story is about two hunters, more concerned with getting plaudits than actually doing their job efficiently, and the giant lizard they are pursuing. When I clicked ‘submit’ and then wondered what to work on next, that lizard started to slither its way through my thoughts. But that lizard kept growing and went from twelve feet long by six feet wide (In the short story) and got a lot bigger. MUCH bigger.

UC5Ms46

Guess what influenced my story. You’ll never get it.

Anyway, in most of my other stories, I have included demons and dragons but never have I ever written a story with a big monster at its centre. I have my idea, and I’ve started to write. The beast is mid-rampage through Manchester City Centre, and I have one man who wants to get up close and see and another who is too close and has no idea what to do. I have started to write, and the story is moving along well enough. Each man is learning, and each is getting closer to the monster and who they are. However, I am beginning to wonder, should I work on the history of the monster first before starting to write a story about it? As in, should I create a full profile of the monster before I continue?

I know the origin of the monster, and I think I’m going to link it to other attacks from different countries. Or possibly keep it contained to the United Kingdom.

All this leads me to my question, have you written a monster-centric story, and how did you go about preparing for it?

Thank you and have a good day.

 

How Evernote helped me win NaNoWriMo 2018.

Hello again,

Across the four years I’ve completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I’ve always started with the same questions running around my head:

  • Will I be able to write 50,000 words?
  • How do I break up 50,000 words over a month? (It’s 1,667 words per day. I always forget)
  • What plans do I have for November?
  • Nights out? (Well, the day after the night out when the hangover makes me forget all words and typing ability) Nights in?
  • Any guests coming?
  • What am I going to write?
  • Do I have an idea I can use or do I have to come up with something new before November? (This particular question usually comes a few days before the start of November. Every. Single. Time)

 

As I pondered these question’s I realised it mostly comes down to the time I have to complete the task. 30 days. And what hours within those days do I actually have available? When I looked at my previous years, I would write when I got home and on weekends. But I would do none during the day when I was at work. So many hours of not writing. This year, I decided to use that time. But how could I use it? Writing on a notepad? Maybe. Wait…

My phone! An app! But which one?

Evernote! https://evernote.com/

I’ve had the app for years but only really used it for taking down ideas. As the app syncs to the website I knew I could write on it and then transfer this to my manuscript when I got home. I could use my commute to and from work to write towards my daily word count.

Sounds so simple that it annoys me I never came to this conclusion before. With this in mind, I was able to write almost the whole of the daily word count before I got home from work. I could then write more at home at my leisure making the 50,000-word target more manageable. Previous years have found me having to block out full Saturdays or Sundays or both to catch up when I fell behind the target. I hated this aspect of the process. My back would kill me and I wouldn’t be able to do other things I wanted to do at the weekend. Wow…that sounds whiny.

Anyway, Evernote allowed me to catch up on my word count when I fell behind. It also helped me to keep the pressure off when I was behind as I could catch up during the day and not have to spend all evening and night writing.

In conclusion, Evernote was very useful for NaNoWriMo. If you’ve already come to this conclusion, fair enough. If not, I hope it helps in future. Making use of all the writing hours of November will be my motto going forward for NaNoWriMo. Amongst other things.

Hope you are having a nice week so far and have a nice time with what’s left of it.

Goodbye!

Another break. Another return.

Would you look at that? Its been too long (12th August was my last post) and I again have no reason for it. This seems to be a bit of trend with me nowadays. So, lets see if I can break this down and find out why I haven’t posted in a while.

Most days I hear by blog crying and having a go at me. Why aren’t updating me? What did I do? I hate you! No wait, no I don’t hate you. You created me. My blogging existence was only possible because of you. I love you!!

And so on.

My last post was the first few pages of my last finished story. I posted this to get some feedback, which I did and it was very useful. Then, I remember wanting to wait a while (a few weeks) to see if any more feedback would come. Alas, none did.

Then, I wanted to post but I decided too…. too…write another story! That’s it! It’s all coming back to me now.

I decided to write a story and focus on this alone. The story is actually a side story to go along with my main WIP that I started to write 3 years ago. I’ve been thinking about and have wanted to complete my main WIP since I started writing oh so many more years ago. The side story concerns Steven (The hero of my main WIP) who has been chosen to be one of a select few who must guard and protect all the realms (Earth being one of them) from each other when needed. Reluctantly, he was recruited and trained by the previous protectors who had grown very old and weary and could not continue to do their jobs. In total, there are 6 main protectors who have been recruited. They must recruit others to help defend the realms alongside them. However, the new protectors have to contend with old, bitter ones who wish to cause chaos…

Dun Dun Dunnnn!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cphNpqKpKc4

So far, I have written 55,992 words of my main WIP. I only realised when I started to write it that 50,000 is only a small part of the story. A really small part. With this in mind, I have decided to write side stories that will accompany the main story or potentially will be mixed into the main WIP in due course.

My thinking behind this is to write a novella or maybe novel-length stories for each of my main 6 protagonists. Each story will take each one on an adventure away from the others and see how they get on and have their characters grow. The first side story involving Steven has him thrown into a medieval type realm and an adventure with a Princess. Strangely enough, I have had not the ending of this story in my head but rather the moment they see each other again 6 months after their adventure finishes. This plays out in my head every time a particular song, Katherine Jenkins version of Hallelujah, comes on my MP3 player. It always goes the same way but before I can write that, I need to write the story that sets it up.

I used NaNoWriMo 2018 to write most of and ultimately move along with this side story. As a result, I am almost finished having reached the 50,000 target and in total, I have written 55,992 so far. I am taking a break at the moment for Christmas to concentrate on my reading but will get back to it soon. But not before posting on this poor neglected blog of mine.

As I have now successfully completed NaNoWriMo for the 4th time I will endeavour to use it to kick start my writing again and in particular my blogging activity. Here’s hoping I stick to it. Or I will see in 3 months or so.

Have a good day! And here is a quote that I have only recently found and really like.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson.

 

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!

 

 

 

Re-Blog: Top 10 Jobs for Writing Lovers by Nicholas C. Rossis.

Hello,

Came across this useful article from Nicholas C. Rossis (https://nicholasrossis.wordpress.com/), which itself was reblogged by Chris the story reading ape’s blog (https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/) about possible jobs to take up that can help your writing skills and bring in some money as well.

Here is a snippet of the article. Click the link below it to access the full thing.

‘Your passion for different things and your talent for writing can lead to a productive and profitable career. If you’re still not ready to focus on novels, maybe you should try another job; one that will help you take your writing skills to a higher level… and bring you some money.’

via Top 10 Jobs For Writing Lovers

One quick one and one…not so quick one.

Hello,

It has been a while. Again. Always seems to be the way recently. I think to myself ‘I’ll post more often’ and then stuff happens. This time it was moving house. I thought I’d have time but it has been all consuming, until recently, with setting accounts up for bills, unpacking boxes, building things, buying things to build, buying things to dig up other things, the list goes on. I’m almost completely settled now so I can get back to posting on my blog. This wonderful thing. My little soupcon of the internet.

So, since last time I have written another 1,000-word story. This one is opposed to the last one (see https://johnrsermon.com/2017/07/19/the-editing-beast-has-been-defeatedfor-now/) the last was a story based in a very dark place and this one is based in a very light place. The lightest place as it happens if it exists. I would say where it is but it would ruin the twist to the very dark story, which I will post on this blog in future.

I wanted to write an opposite story and one that occurs at the same time as the other. I have always enjoyed watching and writing chapters that have events happening at the same time but shown from different viewpoints. Anyway, I decided to write it quickly while the idea was fresh in my head.

Then I finished. Then I was living elsewhere. Then I moved out.

As I was setting everything up around the house move (bills, more bills, finding the local supermarket, and local pub etc.) And during this, a story woke up and began to run around my head. It’s been months since it had been for a run but I’m glad it managed it. And it is based in the town I’ve just moved too helped as well. The story is my take on the one man vigilante tale. I’ve watched and enjoyed plenty of them (John Wick, I’m looking and smiling at you) so I decided to write one myself. I wondered what one would be like with a person who isn’t an ex-Army, Special Forces, Gangster, Assassin, or any of them. A story about someone who just took up a number of different, readily available self-defence classes because he wanted too and then, suddenly, had to use them.

I got to work and I’ve written two chapters so far. Hopefully, I can keep it up and finish the story soon. It’s slowly building in my mind but I don’t have an ending yet.

Have you ever written anything without an ending?

It’s been a while since I have. Feels…schwifty.

So, I’ll get back to it. Hope you all have a good week.

Close to the end, I have been thinking about you for years.

Hello,

cemetery

The end is near. I’ve wondered when the end would come. Would it be soon? Would it be later? Would it be…ever?

To explain, my current story, a western about a drifter finding his true calling and a new life away from his past, is almost finished. The ending of the story has been doing cartwheels around my head for years. I have played out every second of it and I’m finally close to the point where I can write it.

At times it has been tempting to rush through and skip past the important parts of the build-up to the end. Just write less in-depth chapters to get to the last one. But why do that? That won’t help me at all? I tried to convince myself to rush but I could not and it has definitely been the right thing to do. Even though I’ve wanted to get to this point for a long time, running through it instead of walking and enjoying the surroundings was not an option.

To stop myself from running, I took in my surroundings slowly by ensuring that each character was represented well enough in the beginning and middle so that they would have a part to play in the finale of the story instead of seeming like they just turned up. I hate movies and books that have some characters that don’t really have a place. If they weren’t there, who would care? Leaving the reader wondering why they should care about their fate. Currently, how big of a part each will play is not clear. In total, there will be around fifteen characters taking part in the gunfight/brawl/slugfest/carnage that will be the end of the story. Fifteen? Hmmm…that seems like a lot now I think about it. I have all of their names but they haven’t all come together in one scene yet. This should be fun.

I have always liked writing fight scenes. Like I said, it’s been on my mind for a long time and I know every gunshot, move, and quip that will go into it. This all leads me to a question…

Have you ever had to write a scene with a lot (say fifteen?) characters involved? If you have, how did it go and was it what you hoped it would be?

Right, best get back to it, have a nice week!

 

The Magic of the Blank Page.

Hello,

 

After being quite worried that I wouldn’t be able to find an idea for my first short story of 2016, I decided to just stare at a blank page. Will I get inspiration? Will I go blind? Will I learn to hate the non-colour of ‘white’?

None of the above. It just so happens that the blank page helped me to come up with my idea. I have tried to go into the exact science of it all but I’m not smart enough and I don’t like it when my brain hurts so I’m settling on this.

The blank page is made of magic.

I can only assume the blank page has always had magical powers. Probably stemming from when it was first created whoever knows when. It somehow has the muscle to either make you start writing a story or mess with your head to the point where a simple white page could drive you insane.

I glared at the mass of white in front of me and the story sprung to mind. Just like that. No problem. My story revolves around the hero Daniel who decides to leave for work ten minutes earlier than usual. Sounds boring doesn’t it? Well, I used that question as a challenge and it has propelled my story. ‘How can ten minutes make such a difference?’ Has already pushed Daniel to sleep with the neighbor, feel sorry for her ‘boyfriend’ (or, at least, that’s what he thinks he is), call in sick for work and to help an old man with his shopping. And all within the first two hours of his waking day. I’m going to build the stories up throughout his day but my sci-fi & fantasy writing nature is screaming for me to make this become a world-saving thing. Or not. Or do I just keep it to Daniel’s world and not involve anyone else?

safety_decisions

Or do I go a completely new direction? One I’ve never written before?

All in all, it’s a pretty cool set of solutions to consider to a few problems I’m having with my story. This time, last week I was afraid I would not be able to write anything brand new.  Now, I’m close to finishing it. Well, a bit closer. I’m not sure what my word count should be.

Before I get back to my story, I would like to thank the many members of the wonderful and very useful writers group ‘Kboards Fantasy Author’s Group’ through Facebook. Those who replied to my question have provided some valuable feedback and ideas. Thank You.

Bye!

A distraction? Oh well.

Hello!

 

After finishing my last short story, which featured the last three hunters from the Town of the Mountain taking on a huge dragon currently known as ‘the big bad’(working name), I had to decide what my next short story would be about. And who it should be about more than anything. I have a few more people I want to write a short story for and set up for the sequel but I just could not decide who I should write about.

There are three names in contention. Darling Bloomflower, the new girlfriend of Markus and the very talented go-go dancer, Clifton Thomas, the owner of the main source of entertainment from the Town by the name of ‘The House’, and the Master Craftsman, the man responsible for training the hunters. Now I can think of how to start these stories and also how each of these characters may play a part in the sequel. This is now. Back then (last week) I could not think which character I wanted to write about. And then, a welcome distraction.

Writing Magazine holds many competitions each month and I plan on entering a few, or at least one anyway, this year. The latest competition is a 1000 word story competition on any genre. My head was buzzing. I could enter a story I’ve already written. Or create a new one. A new one? Hmm….I’ll have a go then.

As I started to write I chose to delve into another story I’ve written regarding Searchers (different word for hunters really) and demons for inspiration. I wrote 500 words and then was tired so went to sleep. When I came back to my 500 I realised I didn’t like it. So I deleted all of it and started again. And then it hit me. I could write a short story, or one a bit closer to a novella, to set up the sequel to my Searchers and demons yarn. So that’s what I’m going to do. And after that I’m going to get back to writing my short stories for the town of the mountain sequel. So many sequels. So little time. But it does give me a lot to write and pushes me further away from any chance of having writers block. For now anyway. And the 1000 word competition will still be entered into, hopefully.

And to finish off this entry to my little block of the internet, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is moving along nicely. The hero is getting along with his adventure as eloquently and humourlarly(is that a word? Nope. It stays in) as ever, and my commute to work and back is quick and nice. The only thing I have to worry about is the deaf population of the tram blasting their music through small, white headphones. Wish me luck.

Okidoke. Best get back to it. Bye!