Why poets are eternal beginners

– BY FIONA ZERBST   There are no short cuts in poetry. Even if you have been writing for over 20 years, you start at the very beginning when you sit down to a blank sheet of paper. In fact, if you have written good poems in the past, there is no guarantee you will write good poems in the future. You cannot predict that you will write a great poem, even if you have mastered some poetic forms and you feel reasonably

How to Keep Your Point Of View Consistent

Every story is told from a specific point of view. This enables the reader to experience the world they are reading about. When the point of view shifts without warning, it breaks the reader’s concentration. It not only disrupts their experience but can confuse them about what is taking place in your story. So let's understand what point of view is, and then, common mistakes writers make with point of view. BY HANNAH GREEN   What exactly is point of view? The three points of

What’s Wrong With My Story?

Having a hard time getting your story to the level that you want it at? Struggling to sell it or get positive feedback? As writers, we often feel too strongly about some things and not strongly enough about others, so a fair amount of errors can be grouped under 'over-doing it' or 'under-doing it'.   Here are some of the common mistakes that writers can make...   BY HANNAH GREEN   Over-doing it   Drama, drama, drama: One of the keys to good fiction is keeping your characters

Can You Make A Living Writing Short Stories?

Most fiction writers want to know if they can live off their income from writing. Sadly, the short answer is no. Only a handful of writers of this genre make enough to support themselves purely from selling their stories. To earn a living as a short story writer, you would have to supplement your income with writing articles for blogs and magazines and other media that pay a lot better. Also, breaking into the short story market can be tougher than

Verbeter Jou Kans Om ʼn Kortverhaal Kompetisie Te Wen Só

    Na tien jaar se ondervinding met die evaluering van nasionale kortverhaal kompetisies, het ons Writers College beoordelaars ʼn lys van agt basiese stappe saamgestel wat jou in die regte rigting sal stuur om die kortlys te haal. Voordat jy skouer aan die wiel sit om jou kortverhaal vir die kompetisie te begin skryf, sal dit tot jou voordeel strek om eers ondersoek in te stel oor wat ʼn kortverhaal regtig is - en nie is nie. ʼn Kortverhaal is nie ʼn uitlegging

Q & A with Laurie Halse Anderson: Writer

  Her first novel for young adult (YA) fiction was not only a New York Times best-seller in 1999, but was also later adapted into a film starring a young Kristen Stewart in 2004. Laurie's latest YA novel Wintergirls received five-star reviews and nominations for state awards, and was also debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list.   Lucy Mansell interviews Laurie Halse Anderson about the ideas and inspiration behind her best-selling novels Wintergirls and Speak.      Q: What can you tell me about

Seven Tips for Creating Tension in Your Fiction Writing

By Hannah Green How do you create that nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat page-turner? How do best-selling authors create tension in their writing? Here are seven tips to help you keep your reader gasping for more.   (1) Name the stakes How much does your character have to lose? Make it clear to your reader what is at stake, and show them how and why your protagonist is doing what needs to be done. Imagine that your protagonist is a tightrope walker: is he balanced on the rope

An Interview with Short Story Writer, Ginny Swart

Ginny Swart was one of the first writers to join us when we started our writing college in 2005. She designed the Short Story Writing for Magazines Course. One of our best-loved tutors, Ginny has been an unfailing support for novice writers on an international level.     Q. How did you become a writer? By accident! I’m actually trained as a graphic designer but have had various jobs and one was selling advertising for a weekly trade paper. One day I sold a full page advert

How You Can Write Clear and Clutter-free Fiction for Children

  Pruning your writing of unnecessary clutter is a great way to energize your prose. Here are six tips on cutting back on verbiage. BY HELEN BRAIN   1. Keep it Simple Choosing a complicated word when a simpler one will do can dull your writing. Cluttering your sentences with unnecessary words will do the same thing. A pedantic teacher might tell his class, 'Kindly ensure that the required apparel, as specified on the information sheet, has been purchased.' He would get his message across more

Is Memoir Writing a Form of Therapy?

People who want to write a memoir often compare the process of writing that memoir to therapy. They say things like, I need to tell my story, I want to feel better about what happened to me, I want others to know my experience. But is writing a memoir like therapy? BY LISA LAZARUS   I am a memoir and fiction writer who trained as a psychologist and worked as a therapist for a number of years, so I find the links between

Four Habits of Successful Writers

Books, blogs and courses offer valuable advice and guidance for writers, but to make the most of them, there are four vital habits we have to establish for ourselves.   BY TRISH NICHOLSON   1. Create a writing support network Putting words onto paper or the screen is something we do alone and it can be lonely. Not only that, inspiration comes not from staring at a blank space waiting for the muse, but from  engaging with life past and present, observing, recording, thinking and

Hoe skep ‘n mens spanning in ‘n verhaal? Deur Wilna Adriaanse

“Niets is zo moeilijk als schrijven over vrede, geluk en lachende baby’s. Botsende krachten zijn nu eenmaal de grondstof van fictie.” - Renate Dorrestein   Stories gaan primêr oor konflik/ besluite/kruispaaie. Die konflik kan uiterlik of innerlik wees. Daar word beweer dat daar slegs twee storielyne vir al die stories in die wêreld is, naamlik: Stranger comes to town. Hero leaves home. Eerstens is daar ‘n bestaande orde wat gevaar loop om te verander of omver gewerp te word met iemand wat skielik op

How I started writing, and finally self-published my book

      by Louis Wiid   The beginning of a new journey Sitting through hours of traffic jams every day on my way to and from work, snailing through the streets of Sandton, I found myself stuck in a rut. I needed an escape from the drudgery, so I started listening to audio books, and was soon immersed in the adventures of Ken Follett, the Clan of the Cave Bear series, among many others. I’d be listening to 20 hours per title, slowly working my

How to Achieve Your Writing Goals

  After over a decade of teaching writing courses, we noticed that the students who succeeded as writers were not necessarily those who could craft the best sentences or tell the best story. They were the students who wrote often. They persisted. They got the job done. So here are seven tips to help you stay motivated and determined on your journey as a writer. BY NICHOLA MEYER   1. Dream Big; Act Small Setting unrealistic writing goals is a sure-fire way to make your writing dream

Publishing Poetry Online

  Poetry has seen a huge revival over the past few years. Beginner poets can now join a multitude of online communities to showcase their work, and young and old poets alike have been captivated by the thrill of slam poetry. One question that aspirant poets have - after they've managed to write a few poems - is where to submit their poems for publication. There are thousands of options available, especially for online journals and e-zines, but finding a popular, respected and credible

Karakterisering: Hoe om geloofwaardige karakters te skryf – deur Wilna Adriaanse

"If you treat your characters like people, they'll reward you by being fully developed individuals."                                                                                                              - Don Roff Een van die grootste uitdagings vir ‘n skrywer is om karakters te skep waarmee ‘n leser kan identifiseer.  ‘n Karakter kom meld hom of haar as ‘n blote gedagte by jou as die skrywer aan en dit is jou verantwoordelikheid om aan daardie karakter diepte en geloofwaardigheid te gee. Elke skrywer het sy of haar eie manier hoe hulle karakters skep, maar daar is

How to Get the Twist You Never Saw Coming

Warning! Contains plot spoilers!   The twist in the tale is the writer’s equivalent of magic. A sleight of hand, a puff of smoke and Kazam! we make something appear or disappear. Much like a mesmerizing magic trick, the art of the twist takes skill and practice to perform well, and as magicians have their tools of the trade, so too do writers.   - by HANNAH GREEN   What is a twist in the tale? It’s the place where a story takes a sudden turn. At

How to Master Flash Writing

  Want to produce really flash stories? Sharpen your writing skills with flash fiction. BY TRISH NICHOLSON Sometimes called micro or short-short fiction, flash fiction has been around since Aesop wrote his fables around 600BC. Here is one of my favourites: “A vixen sneered at a lioness because she never bore more than one cub. ‘Only one,’ she replied, ‘but a lion.’” That line could make a good comeback for a one-book author. Flash fiction has become so popular that it is now a distinct literary form.

Q & A with Lotta Dann – Writer, Blogger and Recovery Advocate!

  When Lotta received her ‘Local Hero’ award in 2014, she celebrated it with lime and soda rather than bubbly. Lotta wrote her way sober with a blog called 'Mrs. D Is Going Without', attracting such a huge following that she wrote her memoir of the same name three years later. JEANNA THOMSON chats to Lotta Dann about writing and the role it has played in her recovery from alcohol addiction. Q: How did you become a writer?  Tell us a bit about your

Q&A with Crime Writer Michael Robotham

  Best-selling crime author, Michael Robotham, continues to make his mark in the fictional world of murder, mystery and twists. BY MATILDA TULLIE Michael Robotham started his writing career as a journalist, but is now one of the world’s best crime writers. The Australian author has sold over six million books, and has received and been shortlisted for many awards, winning the prestigious Gold Dagger crime writing award in 2015 and the Ned Kelly award for best novel in both 2005 and

Q & A with author of ‘Namaste Life’, Ishara Maharaj

Ishara Maharaj completed the Write a Novel Course at SA Writers College a few years ago.  Since then her debut novel Namaste Life (Modjaji Books, 2016) has been published. We ask Ishara about her writing journey that led to her success. Q: Ishara, you have written a non-fiction book, but Namaste Life is your debut novel. Can you describe the process you went through to find a publisher? A: As a novel for young adults, particularly for female readers, I looked at

Why you need feedback on your writing, and how to get more…

One of the fastest ways to progress as a writer is to receive feedback. Here's how to get more of it.   A writer's task is to create a virtual world inside your reader's mind and then take them on a journey.  To create powerful writing requires insight into how your reader will react to each word - both emotionally and intellectually.  Being a writer is a naturally insular pursuit, so gaining a deeper understanding of readers' thoughts and feelings can only

Point of View: Avoiding Exposition, or what’s commonly known as ‘the info dump’

How do you convey a character's point of view without resorting to the infamous 'info dump' on your reader? Sonny Whitelaw tells us how.   Read Part 1: Point of View Basics: Whose Point of View is it, anyway?   Read Part 2: Point of View: How exactly do I write in limited third person perspective?   What is Exposition? In any scene, characters don’t generally take notice of familiar surroundings, because they have become de-sensitised to them, just like we generally take our own surroundings for

Sukkel met skrywersblok? – deur Wilna Adriaanse

"There is no rule on how to write.  Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: Sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges." – Ernest Hemingway Alle skrywers vrees die welbekende “skrywersblok”:  wanneer jy die wit bladsy voor jou het, pen in die hand, gereed vir die eerste word, maar niks gebeur nie.  Daar is nie ’n enkele gedagte wat jy op die papier kan neerskryf nie.  Dit kan op enige stadium gebeur.  Halfpad deur ’n manuskrip of

Point of View: How exactly do I write in limited third person perspective?

Okay, you now understand the basics of third person narration. So how exactly do you write in limited third person perspective? Sonny Whitelaw explains.   Read Part One: Point of View Basics: Whose Point of View is it, anyway? Read Part 3: Point of View: Avoiding Exposition, or what’s commonly known as ‘the info dump’   The basics: grammar, punctuation, and formatting Yes, they really, really do matter, and your story is no exception. An editor isn’t going to ‘fix’ your grammar gremlins for you. The

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