productivity-secrets

Many people are constantly trying to make the most out of their working days. Sometimes, it means working until late and drinking a few additional cups of coffee. This method, although applied by many, is largely ineffective because it includes working harder and longer. Why not work smarter?

To increase the efficiency of your work and avoid spending unnecessary additional hours at the office, we need to analyse the latest knowledge provided by the experts. This is exactly what the infographic below by www.assignmenthelper.com.au does.

For example, it reviews many important factors that influence productivity and are often ignored by people, such as cleanliness of the working desk. Who would have thought that files on the desk distract more than they stimulate???

So, if you’re struggling to improve your productivity and achieve more, consider these eleven habits. Each of them is not hard to develop, but could have an appreciable impact on your work performance.

For example, did you know that people who work 56 hours a week are as productive as those who work 70? So, staying in the office to work afterhours might actually have more disadvantages than advantages. Knowing this fact will certainly help you to make smarter decisions in the future.

Well, enough talk! Let’s get to discovering more facts about productivity and how you can become a top performer without applying a lot of effort. Work SMART, not hard!

More on this blog about productivity:

How To Set Meaningful Goals & Stick To Them

12 Unusual And Achievable Productivity Hacks For Writers

Top 10 Tips For Being A Productive Writer

6 Tips For Boosting Productivity

5 Habits Of Highly Productive Writers

11 Habits That Can Absolutely Transform Your Productivity

BIO: Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Also Lucy has her own blog ProWritingPartner where you can check her last publications. If you’re interested in working with Lucy , you can find her on FaceBook

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A bit of fun today … Now I don’t drive, but even I have to admit there have been PLENTY of iconic vehicles in movies and TV! Which ones would you add to this list? For me, it would have to be the QUATTRO, driven by the legendary Gene Hunt in Life On Mars. What about you?

back-to-the-future-delorean-transport-dezeen_936

Motoring enthusiasts and film fans alike were celebrating recently when news broke that the DeLorean Motor Company is putting the iconic DeLorean car — which shot to fame for its starring role in the Back To The Future trilogy — back into production starting from 2017.

To celebrate the occasion, the UK’s largest used van retailer Van Monster has come up with a list of famous vans from TV and movies which are due a revival!

little_miss_sunshine_van

1) 1973 Volkswagen Transporter (Type 2)

Type of van: Camper van

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Little Miss Sunshine

Memorable moment:

The Hoover family had to push start the classic Volkswagen bus when the vehicle showed its age and became increasingly unreliable during the two-day journey to get young Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine junior beauty pageant in California.

Essential driving stats: Power — 72 horsepower. 0-60 mph — 22 seconds. Top speed — 75 mph.

 2) 1984 Ford Econoline

Type of van: Multi-purpose vehicle

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Dumb and Dumber

Memorable moment:

When taking the Mutt Cutts van on a cross-country adventure of America, Harry and Lloyd offer to give hitchhiker Joe Mentalino a lift and proceed to make comedy gold with the ‘want to hear the most annoying sound in the world’ moment.

Essential driving stats: Power — 114 horsepower.

09516a9b8d914d0aa7ed221a3613b8a6--kill-bill-bill-obrien

 3) 1997 Chevrolet C-2500 Silverado Fleetside

Type of van: Truck

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Kill Bill

Memorable moment:

Early in The Bride’s quest for revenge — which involved her working through a hit list of the people who have wronged her — the lead character acquires the bright yellow Chevrolet after finding the keys in the pocket of her second victim. The truck stood out even further for its ‘Pussy Wagon’ nameplate.

Essential driving stats: Power — 255 horsepower.

MysteryMachine1

 4) 1963 Ford Econoline Custom Van

Type of van: Multi-purpose vehicle

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Scooby Doo

Memorable moment:

In the fifth episode of the first season of the TV show What’s New, Scooby-Doo — the Mystery Machine goes from friend to foe. By the end of the episode though, viewers discovered that the van hadn’t gone rogue but had been under the control of a culprit using wireless controls.

Essential driving stats: Power — 85 horsepower at 4,200 rpm.

1951-ford-f-1

 5) 1951 Ford F1 4×2

Type of van: Full-size pickup truck

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Sanford and Son

Memorable moment:

While the Ford truck made many appearances throughout Sanford and Son, it’s how relevant the van has remained following the end of the show in 1977 that is especially impressive. The truck was one of the standout attractions at the 2011 4th of July parade in Argos, Indiana, and made further headlines when it was reunited with one of the show’s main stars, Nathaniel Taylor, at the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, in Cleveland, Ohio, in June 2016.

Essential driving stats: Power — 100 horsepower at 3,600 rpm.

6) 1983 GMC G-15

Type of van: Full-size van

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: The A-Team

Memorable moment:

Rather than just pick out one scene, it seems more appropriate to honour just what the A-Team van went through during the TV show and movie. This is because B.A. Baracus’ vehicle stood strong even when put through various gun battles, incredible jumps, accidents and even being stripped apart.

Essential driving stats: Power—110 kW (150 PS(Hp))

JPREx

 7) 1993 Ford Explorer XLT

Type of van: SUV

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Jurassic Park

Memorable moment:

One of the most memorable scenes in the entire Jurassic Park franchise has to be when the park’s electricity shuts down in the original film, causing the electric cars and its occupants to become stranded. Who can ever forget watching the glasses of water ripple ahead of the rampage of a terrifying tyrannosaurus rex?

Essential driving stats: Power — 160 horsepower. 0-60 mph — 11.3 seconds. Top speed — 110 mph.

 8) 1968 Volkswagen T2A

Type of van: People Mover

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Lost

fcd7f57dcd7a6218ec19b628e8bb1dcbMemorable moment:

The Volkswagen bus made its entrance in Lost during the episode entitled Tricia Tanaka Is Dead — episode ten of season three. It would pave the way for one of the main plots of the episode, as everyone’s favourite good guy Hurley went out of his way to get the abandoned vehicle started again. The conclusion was a very heart-warming moment for the series.

Essential driving stats: Power — 57 horsepower at 4,400 rpm. 0-60 mph — 37 seconds (estimated). Top speed — 65 mph.

 9) 1986 Fleetwood Bounder RV

Type of van: Motorhome

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Breaking Bad

Memorable moment:

One of the most memorable moments of the 1986 Fleetwood Bounder in Breaking Bad also happens to be one of the first that fans saw when watching the series. In the pilot episode of the show, Walter White would proceed to crash his newly acquired RV into a ditch in the New Mexico desert before going through a chain of bad luck that culminated in the protagonist standing under the hot sun in only his underpants.

Essential driving stats: Length — Up to 40 feet long.

 10) 1973 Reliant Regal

Type of van: Three-wheeled vehicle

Movie/TV show where it shot to fame: Only Fools and Horses

Memorable moment:

It has to be in Dates — the 1988 Christmas special of the hit BBC sitcom — when Rodney attempts to impress his date, Nag’s Head barmaid Nery. The situation soon gets out of hand though and the duo get involved in a high-speed chase where the Reliant Regal is pursued by a gang in a much flashier sports car. Watch out for the moment where the three-wheeler achieves incredible hang time.

Essential driving stats: Power — 30 brake horsepower. 0-60 mph — 25 seconds. Top speed — 75 mph.

del

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B2W_brick wall_2017

So, fresh off my Live Script Edit at LondonSWF 2017, I’m going to be talking about WRITING CRAFT today. By ‘craft’ I mean the actual mechanics of writing – what’s physically there on the page. I always think of writing craft as something we BUILD, kind of like a wall or house – we lay the foundations first, then pile one brick on top of the other, until we get to the top and finish.

As writers, somewhat unsurprisingly, when it comes to craft we’re judged by what is on the page (or not, as the case may be). From the words we choose and the way we attempt to form the story, readers – like B2W – will form a notion of whether you are a ‘good’ writer or not.

(DO NOTE – some of these notions will be correct and/or fair; others will be incorrect and/or unfair. Subjectivity does happen; readers are not robots after all! And yes, it happens to all of us, even (especially?) pro writers).

Just 3 Things Separate Your Writing From Greatness

You probably know what they are already, BUT it hasn’t moved from your head to your heart to the page. These magic 3 things?? Check these out for size:

3 craft elements of writing_infographic

That’s right – structure, character, visuals.

If you thinking ‘Le Duh!’ – well, I don’t blame you. It IS obvious.

If you’re thinking ‘But where’s dialogue??’ – standby for a slap and this reminder.

Harsh But True

So yeah, it’s totally obvious that every great, well-written screenplay (or novel, now we mention it) should have an iron-clad structure; brilliant differentiated characters with clear motivations and role functions; and strong visuals that really paint a picture.

But most in the spec pile DON’T.

The reasons may be varied: structure may be skew-whiff; characters may be the same-old, same-old; there may be chains of dialogue and scene description that is underwritten, overwritten or just plain old BAD. Whatever. It all adds up to one thing:

PASS. No thanks. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out. 

So Ask Yourself …

… How much do you know about:

  • Structure?
  • Characterisation?
  • Visual writing?

Be honest with yourself now:

– How many screenplays and or movies or TV shows could you cite as being great examples of the above? Can you describe WHY, beyond just liking them (or not)? 

– Have you received notes and feedback on your writing about the above, then gone on to research those craft elements yourself independently? 

– How much have you read about these three elements of craft and writing? Do you have lots of notes about them you’ve made yourself … Or have you only ever read the one book? Or even just read ABOUT those books? How many seminars or workshops have you been to? 

– Do you have the VOCABULARY as well as the understanding to talk confidently about craft – and WHY certain things work and others don’t?

– Can you offer more than just your opinion? Can you offer multiple ways of approaching characters, structure or visuals that have issues, linking them to things that HAVE worked in produced content? 

Unless you answered ‘Yes’ to all of the above, with concrete examples, I would wager you need to learn more about structure, characters and visuals.

Stay Up-To-Date

When writers say they are ‘always learning’, one thing they ALWAYS need to learn more about is craft … but many, shockingly, stay ‘still’ in their learning journey when it comes to this.

Those same writers may strive to learn more about submissions, careers strategies, marketing and what-have-you … But still operate on a NEWBIE LEVEL OF ACTUAL WRITING CRAFT! True story.

Whilst it’s true ‘practice makes perfect’, writers can vastly ACCELERATE their writing craft and stay up to date (and potentially advance their careers!) by actually taking the time to consciously learn more about what’s wrong with their OWN writing on the actual page.

So what NEEDS WORK in your writing? Structure … Characters … Visuals? All three?

By finding out yourself, you can take the reins for your own writing and not only improve your writing, but your CHANCES of getting your work picked up. Furrealz. Good luck!

More on this blog about CRAFT:

15 Reasons Your Story SUCKS 

8 Things Readers Want From Your Screenplay

7 Things Readers Can Tell About Your Script On Page 1

5 Openers That Make Script Readers GROAN

Top 5 Craft Mistakes Writers Make

Find out your own craft issues and FIX THEM asap!

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We all know format is the LEAST of our problems as screenwriters … but *how* do we improve our writing craft?? My course with LondonSWF, THE CRAFT CRASH COURSE runs for the first time this year, Nov 11-12th, at Ealing Studios, London. Over two days, we will put writing craft under the microscope & you will learn tricks to elevate your writing to the NEXT LEVEL. Don’t miss out! CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic above). We expect it to sell out , so act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!

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We all have a stereotypical vision of a writer. You know the type: s/he doesn’t manage his or her time properly, so spends too long arsing around on the interwebs; chatting too much on social media, even playing on games sites like https://www.lapalingo.com/en … then it’s PANIC STATIONS! S/he ends up overdosing on coffee and staying awake ALL NIGHT to finish those deadlines! And sure, this does happen sometimes, but thankfully not too often.B2W_coffee heartbeat

Now, you might remember that only recently I asked if you Bang2writers like to BINGE on writing, or write every day – and I was surprised with the results. 77% (so far) confessed to being a binge writer!

I’ve been appearing at LOTS of conferences this year for both my book, The Other Twin and writing events like London Screenwriters’ Festival, so I decided to ask whether writers there are ‘bingers’ like me or more disciplined and write every day. I found the answers broadly echoed what we discovered for the blog post, which was interesting. Given that ‘write every day’ is such standard advice, I’d envisaged far more writers doing this, so I now don’t feel so guilty about my binges! YAY!

Another big divide

However, during my querying, I happened upon something else interesting. It appears there are TWO MORE approaches that divide writers:

  • Those that LOVE the first draft. These writers will often say they feel ‘anything is possible’ and it’s the ‘best bit’ of writing. They may confess to hating the rewrite/editing process, likening it to an ‘uphill slog’.
  • Those that HATE the first draft. These writers may call the first draft a ‘rush draft’ or even a ‘vomit draft’ – they might confess they would FAR much rather get the bones of the story down, then tinker about with it, re-structuring and tweaking; combining and merging characters at will.

Screenwriters Versus Novelists?

Since a screenwriting adage is ‘writing is rewriting, I do wonder if First Draft Haters are more commonly screenwriters? I’ve even heard of big names like Charlie Kauffman admit it’s a struggle.

This makes sense I think. Structure is SO important in this medium – it’s not a good idea to start a script without knowing the ending, for starters! On this basis, maybe REWRITING feels much more like progress, because we have created the perimeters of what we’re working on? ‘You can’t fix a blank page’, after all!

In comparison (from my limited, anecdotal research) it would seem novelists are more likely to say they LOVE the first draft. Again, I would argue this makes sense. Though obviously structure is important in ALL storytelling, novel writing is much more ‘free’ in terms of style and format. Whilst B2W always recommends planning in advance, plenty of novelists are ‘pantsers’ – those who don’t plan (hence ‘by the seat of their pants’). It’s also possible to not know the ending in advance of writing a novel, whereas this is nearly always a disaster in screenwriting.

Of course, there will always be exceptions. I am a novel-writing screenwriter (or a screenwriting novelist?) and always plan my books like my screenplays. Predictably, I LOATHE the first draft.  I find writing my first drafts absolutely EXCRUCIATING … Every page is a struggle!!

What about you?

As before, I’ve created a badge for you to download and share on your social media if you wish. You can also add your vote to the poll and/or share your thoughts in the comments section. Over to you!

Download the HATE badge, HERE

Download the LOVE badge, HERE

Take The Poll …

Can’t see the poll? CLICK HERE.

Happy Writing!

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popcorn-1433327_1920

Whatever you write fiction, an essay or a blog post, you need to be precise and innovative. But what if the muse is mute and you suffer from the writer’s block? Take a bowl of popcorn and watch your favorite old-school movie!

Just as writers, filmmakers know their audience. Because of this, some of them create masterpieces you’ll never forget once you see them. This fab infographic from EssayService reveals 5 tricks a writer can learn from cinema. Let’s look at them!

1. Create vivid images

Film directors together with their cast and crew work towards creating memorable moments and characters. Travis Bickle looking at himself in the mirror in Taxi Driver or Samara crawling out of TV in The Ring flash up into our memories just like pictures.

Vivid imagery is as beneficial to films as it is to creative writing. Use associations to engage your reader and help them understand your message.

2. Organise your story

Remember how interested and excited you were while watching Shutter Island or The Silence of the Lambs. Surprise your readers with tricky plot twists!

Films and novels have the same structure. This approach is also suitable for writing short stories, blog posts and narrative essays. Develop the dynamics of your narration. Interchange expository details with your outstanding ideas!

3. Make controversial statements

The best directors are the most outrageous. A Clockwork Orange is very controversial due to graphic violence and conflicting opinions. However, it has many fans and is considered one of Stanley Kubrick’s best works.

The next time you write a post or an essay on the topical issue, try to look at things from a new angle. Feel free to express your point of view! If you start a novel, remember that people like reading what they disagree with.

4. Add humour to your writing

Humor brings lightness into the film. Tarantino’s unique and recognizable style consists of blending violence with humor that elevates it with facetious wit.

Be careful with jokes in formal writing. But a funny story or an anecdote related to the assigned topic will do as a great attention grabber in the introduction.

5. Write what you love

You’ll never create something outstanding if you’re not passionate about it. Can you imagine films like The Godfather or Citizen Kane went unnoticed? If you don’t have a deep interest in the topic, quit it and find another one.

As a writer, always have your audience in mind. You want them to understand you and like your work. Don’t be afraid to be different and follow your fundamental idea. It is a hard work but it brings a lot of joy!

cinematic-arts-infographic

BIO: Michelle Brooks is the independent writer and blog editor at the EssayService. Her specialisation includes education, business and lifestyle. Michelle is never against discussing art and cinema.

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6

So, I’ve posited before that of ALL the people who might get in the way of their progress? It’s actual writers themselves.

Many writers may go so far to express disbelief at this. It’s not hard to understand why. When they’re just beginning on their writing career path, they’ll say things to me like:

‘I can’t wait until I ‘make it’!’

‘When I get my first opportunity, I’m going to grab it with BOTH HANDS!’

‘I’m gonna do this, whatever it takes!’

I don’t mean these guys don’t mean the above. I believe absolutely they do. But they still get in their own way. I’ll explain how, next.

Writing Prodiction

It used to be that writers were incredibly impatient. They wanted everything NOW. They didn’t want to work on their craft, or their relationships, or their branding or whatever. They wanted to write the perfect script and they wanted it to open doors and goddammit they wanted it all YESTERDAY.

Of course, this did create issues. Writers would blot their copybooks in any number of obvious ways: they’d rush out work (that could have got somewhere) too early; they’d screw up meetings and isolate their potential contacts; or no one could find them online and so on.

Nowadays, writers have a different problem. That issue is WRITING PROCRASTINATION ADDICTION – ‘Prodiction’ for short.

I’m not talking staying too long on social media and wasting time when you could be writing, either. I’m not even talking about writing too much, when you should be allowing various concepts, ideas and feedback to ‘marinate’ in your brain, either.

Big fish, small pond

It’s said there’s a LOT of wannabe writers. This is true, but the number of those who have a shot of making a career as a pro writer is still relatively small. This is because most wannabes do not commit to a career strategy. They ONLY write. This is obviously fine, but makes them hobby writers, not potential professionals.

Of the ‘potential professionals’ then, writers suffering from Prodiction rise to the top of this small pond relatively quickly. They may be the ones you interact with most online; their names will appear on various lists and at various events.

But they’re yet to ‘break through’. They’re yet to get any credits, or published works. They’re good, but they’re still on their way.

A Typical Case

So, the writer who suffers from Writing Prodiction is the one who has gathered his or her contacts; has worked incessantly on his or her craft; and has created a useful online persona.

S/he has also probably made a splash in other ways too – perhaps s/he’s staged various script readings; got an agent; or had persistent film festival or competition placings maybe (you know the type: you see their names again and again).

Yet, for some reason, that writer refuses – yes, refuses – to move forwards in his or her career.

Instead, the person suffering from Writer Prodiction will stay, hovering above potential greatness. They’ll say, ‘IF I win this contest / IF I get a read request or option / IF I get this production company interested / IF I get onto this shadow scheme …”

It’s a vile and horrible word, IF. In other words, these writers will place their whole writing lives – not to mention their sense of validation – in the fickle hands of fate.

5

One step forwards, two back

Sometimes, it’ll work out for these writers. This will be by accident for a writer suffering from Prodiction, so very often they FREAK OUT. They won’t know how to deal with getting what they want, quite literally! This may lead to them:

Of course, there are always REASONS why the above happens for the writer suffering from Prodiction. But in reality, there is only one:

That writer with Prodiction would rather be a big fish in a small pond of ‘wannabes’, rather than take that leap into the BIG SEA of the industry. 

Do You Have Writer Prodiction?

So, if you’re a writer without credits or published works, it could be you have Writer Prodiction. If you find yourself thinking, ‘If I could **just** …”

get an agent 

.. win [this contest / a place on this initiative]

… get some credits or a novel published 

… get some more feedback on my script or novel before I send it out

… get [this producer/ publisher] to READ my script or novel

Then it’s possible you have! I spend so long with writers, one key element I find is they nearly always think they have to be PICKED BY SOMEONE ELSE.

But this is not the case.To eschew Writer Prodiction and advance in your writing career, here’s what you do

Pick Yourself!

Back in the day, I used to have Writer Prodiction. I thought that if I ‘could just do X‘, I would move forwards with my career.

Nope! I moved forwards … because I quit stalling. I decided to commit to being a pro writer and throw away any thoughts of being anything else. I would take that leap and TRUST that it would happen.

And guess what — it happened!!!

That doesn’t mean it came to me by magic. I still had to work hard. But I made concrete decisions & goals, instead of abstract wishes.

I decided I would be a script editor and a novelist … and set about finding ways of ensuring I became one. SCREW everyone else. I was going to do it myself!!

Concluding

So, if you’re tired of being on the edge of greatness, you need to take into account HOW you’re stopping yourself for ‘making it’, by:

  • Commit to a specific, concrete goals – and evaluate them at specific intervals
  • Forget about others, contest places, etc validating you. Only YOU can do that
  • Network with people you want to work with, for specific reasons … If you help them, they will help you
  • Have the guts to FINISH your scripts and novels (don’t tinker with them forever!)
  • Quit stalling and LEAP! You got this

Quit Stalling & Take Your Writing Craft To The Next Level:

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We all know format is the LEAST of our problems as screenwriters … but *how* do we improve our writing craft?? My course with LondonSWF, THE CRAFT CRASH COURSE runs for the first time this year, Nov 11-12th, at Ealing Studios, London. Over two days, we will put writing craft under the microscope & you will learn tricks to elevate your writing to the NEXT LEVEL. Don’t miss out! CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic above). We expect it to sell out , so act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

THE OTHER TWIN_LVH

Theme is probably one of the most-asked questions I get ‘off blog’ when working on writing projects with my Bang2writers. These writers will fret people may not ‘get’ their theme or message, or perhaps even claim the point of their story is ‘wrong’ somehow.

But this is the thing. People WILL disagree about the theme or message of your story — even with you, the writer! Whilst sometimes this goes waaaaay off-piste, 9/10 this is actually a good thing … It shows how your reader or viewer has participated in breaking down your story for meaning. This is brilliant!

Let me illustrate

When I finished writing my debut crime novel, The Other Twin, I believed I had written a novel with the theme of toxic relationships and control. That’s what I set up from the beginning as I was drafting and what many beta readers agreed it was ‘about’.

So, I was both delighted and intrigued to see many of the initial reviews talking about how The Other Twin’s theme, to them, was one of identity. These reviewers latched on to a number of elements in the plotting – especially the online/social media parts – and praised this theme as being relevant and modern, saying The Other Twin is a cautionary tale for the various personas we may have in various settings, both on and offline.

So who is right? BOTH

As the writer and architect of The Other Twin, I ‘know’ the book from its very inception and through its many (torturous!) drafts. Over the fifteen months I was writing it, it morphed through a number of different ideas, drafts, redrafts, page 1 rewrites and sheer hysteria at one point when I was going to delete the entire thing! TRUE STORY.

On this basis then, I am both the mother AND midwife of The Other Twin – I conceived and nurtured it from the beginning, before letting it out into the world.

But once it was out in the world, I could no longer control my readers’ responses to my book. Happily for me, my agent and Orenda Books, the overall response has been overwhelmingly positive. But whatever that response was, all we could do is the best we could with the story before releasing it out into the wild. That’s it.

You have to let go

So when writers come to me, worried about readers’ and viewers’ reactions to their work, I always tell them:

“You don’t get to choose how people respond to your writing.”

Sometimes, people will get EXACTLY what you’re going for in your story. This always feels fabulous, because it’s like they have peeled away the ‘top layer’ of your writing and seen your intention shining underneath. It fulfils and validates you as a writer. You get to preen a bit and I’d wager most writers like that; I know I do.

Other times, the experience is not so good. People may decide they don’t like the theme or message of your work, or not understand what the point of it was. Most of the time this is okay (though this can turn toxic in the age of ‘Call-out Culture’ on social media). But usually, bygones will be bygones – no one will like everything you write and that is okay. (Though it can smart!).

But there is a third option everyone forgets – and it’s actually my favourite. This is when the reader or viewer takes his/her worldview and experiences and sees something relevant to themselves in YOUR story. It’s often not remotely what you intended, but that’s okay – because as soon as they describe what they ‘saw’, you immediately go, ‘Omg! I love it!’ Best of all, now you can see it too.

DisneyQueenHearts

Queen of Hearts

This was one of my favourite reviews of The Other Twin, courtesy of Book Blogger Sharon Bairden at Chapter In My Life:

“I can’t help but compare my reading experience to Alice in Wonderland – with the White Rabbit as the spark of Poppy’s curiosity and desire to discover what lay behind her sister, India’s apparent suicide. The mysterious King and Queen of Hearts (the invisible narrators throughout the book) with their control over their “followers” and the whole notion of the “Mad Hatters Tea Party ” concept in which societal “norms” are abused and used to the advantage of the narrators.” — Read the whole review, HERE.

I LOVE Sharon’s comparison of my story to Alice In Wonderland. Even though I never once consciously thought about this story when drafting the novel, I can totally see why Sharon was drawn to this comparison. It’s a great contribution to the discussion and immediately opens up loads of other avenues.

What’s more, I suspect I was more subconsciously influenced than I realised: I was a big fan of Lewis Carroll and pored over it as a child (I still have his full collected works on my bookshelf) … Plus as a script reader now, I probably read 2-3 adaptations of one of the Alices or his nonsense poems every single year! 

Basically, without Sharon’s contribution, I wouldn’t have put my finger on all this. Wow!

The moral of the tale?

I’m not making a value judgement when I say writers don’t make the ‘best judge’ of storytelling. Writers obviously know their works inside out and know what they intended.

But unless we are hobby writers, our stories have to go out to our audiences at some point. Sometimes our carefully crafted stories and that theme, point or message within them won’t get through to the writer’s intended audience. This may be because of bad writing; bad marketing; crappy luck; or something else. Same difference.

With this in mind then, us writers need to decide on our own theme, point or message … but also learn to LET GO of our stories too. There is literally a limit to what we can do and we can’t control everything. Nor should we! People will see what they think is ‘right’ in our stories (or not). This is okay.

What’s more, occasionally someone will see something even YOU didn’t realise about your own work. That’s pretty special.

Happy writing!

More on this blog about theme, plot & story:

Many thanks to Reedsy for this brilliant infographic! CLICK HERE for more at their site about theme.

iceburg

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You’ve got a plot, you’ve got characters, you want to dive right in. I get it! But the road to Le Yawn is paved with premature outpourings. Sometimes a good reference book makes all the difference. These are five of my all-time favourites:

1) Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang

Nothing conveys a better sense of time and location than the right idiom. Believe me, it matters if he’s a dude or a bro, a good egg or a gazob. If she’s a dame, a floozy, or a diamond! ‘He stole a bottle of liquor’ – dull. How about ‘He helped himself to a five-finger discount in the liquor store.’ Same meaning, a lot more fun.

2) The Guinness Book of Baby Names, Leslie Dunkling

I can’t write a character if the name is wrong. Can’t. backstory, character, attitude, all hinges on the name. Which is where this book comes in. Fashionable name in the 1950s? Check. Greek or Hawaiian, with deep cultural meanings? Check. I get first names and last names, their history, use, heck, I can check out street names, pub names, anything.

3) Roget’s Thesaurus

You can find synonyms and antonyms easily online, but leafing through this book makes me think harder about the right word, and I come across other gems that I might want to use. Plus, I can stay offline while writing, so I won’t be tempted by emails or social media.

4) Eats, Shoots, Leaves by Lynne Truss

Grammar matters. Punctuation matters. While we all adore the spelling and grammar check function, sometimes it’s not enough. Doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, screen or stage play, you don’t want to confuse or worse, irritate, the reader. A little learning goes a long way.

5) Travel books and magazines

I’m obsessed with them. Old and new. The more photos, the better. They give my writing a sense of place that Google maps can’t. I’m currently researching the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop for a possible sequel, and another three books take me back to prohibition era New York. Nothing beats the real thing for authenticity.

Happy reading … it leads to GREAT WRITING!

BIO: Carmen Radtke is a screenwriter and novelist. Her debut novel The Case of the Missing Bride (Bloodhound Books) is out TODAY, 5th September 2017! She also writes under the pen name Caron Albright. A Matter of Love and Death will be published by Bombshell Books. Follow Carmen on Twitter: @CarmenRadtke1  and visit her WEBSITE.

More about Reading & Writing:

Teach Yourself To Speed Read

Adaptation Showdown: Which is better – the book or the film?

How To Keep Your ‘To Be Read’ Pile Fresh

1 Simple Habit Guaranteed To Lower Your TBR Pile

5 Things That Help Me Read & Write

My Top 10 Reading & Writing Products

1o Sensational Classics To Read Right Now

Top 10 Awesome Books That Influenced Me As A Writer

Top 10 Essential Book For Screenwriters

15 Quotes From Children’s Books Every Writer Should Know

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There is a significant difference between being a writer and treating writing as a profession. Obviously, without a serious attitude, one cannot become a well-known expert who knows how to impact the readers in a profound way. Therefore, if you want to succeed in this field and master your writing skills, you have to learn the essentials of the profession.

Every profession has essentials that allow to produce top quality work. In writing, for example, they set a memorable text apart from mediocre work and help to attract the interest from readers. Today, people with a lot of reading experience can recognise a mediocre, amateurish text right away, so there is no way you can be a best-selling author or even a good author without the knowledge of essentials.

In the infographic below, Awriter.org reveals ten essential skills that will make your writing fundamentally sound, engaging, and clear. It also suggests learning about The Ladder of Abstraction, which takes us from the abstract to the concrete (learn more, HERE).

The infographic also outlines a plan on how to find original ways to express things, construct scenes, and create multi-level dialogs. By using this plan, you can develop a personalised vision of how you can improve in each of these areas.

Lastly, the infographic has some good advice for those who want to be published. Indeed, a writer should not only know how to produce a good book but also develop a publishing mindset that helps to learn from each failure and move forward. It is a known fact that even one rejection from an editor can feel like a major setback, so learning how to deal with it a highly valuable skill.

Let’s get to reading the infographic now! Hope it will help you to create your first real masterpiece, which will be the first of many.

If you found this infographic helpful, please feel free to repin it, retweet it, or share it. Good luck out there!

10 Essential Skills for Every Writer

BIO: Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Also Lucy has her own blog ProWritingPartner where you can check her last publications. If you’re interested in working with Lucy , you can find her on FaceBook.

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If you want your readers to NOT get bored with a stereotypical ending and/or to keep them hooked, then it is high time for you to learn about The Art of the Unspoken!

This technique can be hard to grasp and utilise effectively at first, but it means you will give your readers chance to fill in the rest WITHOUT you needing to be ‘on the nose’ with it.

These 7 tips will make your journey to creating the breathtaking mysterious atmosphere easier. Chew on these for size:

1) Pacing

With a purpose to create a mystery you need to control the rhythm and pace of the narration. In other words, it’s your call how to present the events. Pacing depends on the planned length of your story. For sure, the events will unfold faster in a short story and told in a leisurely manner in a voluminous epic.

KEY TAKEAWAY: All you need to do is to take a sheet of paper and write down all events you’re planning to depict in your story. Analyse them and decide, which of them are major, and which of them are just needed to support those major events. MORE: 3 Things To Remember For Act 3

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2) Purposeful omission

Leaving out the details is crucial, if you intend to create a mysterious atmosphere. This device gives you an opportunity to play with the reader’s mind and the reader gets an opportunity to get involved in your story.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Leave some hints here and there in the story, and you will be surprised how compelling your story will get. Make your readers hesitate, doubt everything they read about, even their favorite characters.

3) Ambiguous ending

Best depicted on the big screen, uncertain endings play with readers’ mind and resort to their creativity. Remember movie “The Butterfly Effect”, where the directors offered several endings

for the most demanding viewers? This is a classic example of uncertain ending.

The same effect can be reached while writing the story. Back in the days, Charlotte Bronte was one of those, who forced her readers to keep guessing about what had happened to the heroine of Bronte’s novel “Villette”. In the modern literature creating an ambiguous ending remains crucial for the storytelling as the device to keep readers excited and involved.

KEY TAKEAWAY: We all know that any romance often ends with two lovers being together, any detective folds up with a mystery being solved and an antagonist being punished… Blah Blah Blah. Remember that as a writer you have an opportunity to engage your readers’ creative potential. Let them determine character’s fate on their own and make up their own ending. Give them some “Food for Thought”. MORE: Top 7 Writing Tips For Great Characterisation 

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4) Mysterious characters

Don’t be disoriented by the word “mysterious”. In most cases, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to create a grumpy, moody and silent character. In the 2017 screen version of a certain superhero movie, the antagonist may first be perceived as helpful, easy-going man with no obvious “evil” traits … So revealing him as the main enemy of the protagonist created the necessary effect that screenwriters needed.

KEY TAKEAWAY: So, to master the art of the unspoken, creating mysterious characters is utterly necessary. But try not to overdo yourself and put your story into danger of being too predictable and boring. Everything is good in moderation.

5) Structuring the sentences and correct word choice

Behind the sentence structure and words, you are picking out for your story lies the purpose of the narrative. Onomatopoeic words depicting different sounds, suggestive verbs breathing life into the narration will create the effect of mystery you’re striving for.

Binding your words into sentences, creating metaphors, similes and paradoxes will definitely enliven your story and create necessary atmosphere. Active and energetic language will smoothly lead your story and engage the readers.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Try not to spoil your narration with incessant “verbal diarrhoea”. Avoid using prepositions when possible in order to make your story more readable. You can try to use stylistic devices and expressive means, don’t you? Goddamnit, at least you could do that! (ARF). MORE: 10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now 

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6) Pressure the readers by pressuring your characters

For example, make your protagonists deal with seemingly unsurmountable problems, so they stain their skills, knowledge and creativity to escape the situations you’ve put them into. Put the characters your reader care about the most into jeopardy. Make your readers fear and worry!

KEY TAKEAWAY: Make the reader effectively stand in the characters’ shoes by emphasising their emotions. It doesn’t matter what they have to get through: sufferings, eminence or injustices, all the feelings about them should be believable.

 7) Making your readers anxious!

This is a tool which also creates the necessary effect of suspense. The essence of suspense lies in promising your readers something, but delaying it to the necessary moment, which is often found in the climax. But don’t make your readers disappointed – fulfilling the suspense is crucial. Readers always need to be satisfied after reading the story.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Guide the reader through your story. Make them compulsively turn the pages of your novel, get them worried and sympathetic, and your audience will be unbelievably grateful to you for the wonderful journey you’ve invited them to join. MORE: 12 Character Journeys We Can Learn From

BIO: Scott Ragin is a passionate writer who draws the inspiration from something that really means the most to him: his readers. He never ceases to find new methods of enriching his writing. Scott is a writing expert at college paper writing service. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

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