Get on Track to Productive Writing

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The year-end is fast approaching, and for many this is a remind of the resolutions they made at the stroke of midnight many months ago. For some these resolutions were aimed toward a healthier lifestyle, a happier lifestyle and a more productive lifestyle. For others these resolutions were aimed towards their writing, if you resolved to be a more productive writer this year and have found yourself falling behind, don’t get discouraged, you still have time to get back on track…

Helpful Tips to Get Your Writing Back On Track:

  • Write Every day.
    Being productive in your writing does not need to be difficult, it is more about actually writing than it is about the amount of usable content. Resolve to take 60-90 minutes each day and focus on only your writing. Choose a time when you are relaxed and able to focus distraction free, early morning and late evening seem to be the best times for most writers, but choose a time that works best for you. Perhaps you have free time in the afternoon while the little ones are at school or down for their nap, whatever time you choose use it to focus on your writing and only your writing.
  • Don’t Stop.
    Once you have found the time to devote to writing every day, do it without stopping. Don’t think too much about what it is you are writing, simply write. Don’t allow your mind to stop for at least 30-60 minutes or you run the risk of getting distracted by other responsibilities and losing your train of thought.
  • Don’t Stress.
    Stop worrying about the way you are writing and just write already. It can be hard not to compare yourself to other writers, but remember that there is no writer in the world that doesn’t produce an awful first draft of their writing. (well they might be one or two, but they are freaks of nature and we don’t like them very much at all!) Accepting that your first draft of anything does not need to be perfect should relieve a lot of stress and allow you to focus on getting the words down on paper. Don’t waste time stressing about perfection, just focus on getting your thoughts out of your head where they can be read, edited, re-read and re-edited at a later time. shaping them in to the final piece of art you are wasting time trying to create right now.
  • Write The Way You Talk.
    You will save yourself an ample amount of time if you simply write the way you talk. There is nothing complex about this statement so don’t bother over-thinking it, do as it says and write exactly the way you would talk to your best friend. A large amount of time is wasted trying to get a first draft to sound, or read, just right… This is unimportant at this point, the main focus should simply be getting the content on the page to be edited later, so write the way you talk and you will find that your writing flows more easily and you will produce more usable content.
  • Don’t Give Up.
    Every writer has a bad bout, moments when no matter how hard they try they are unable to really write. If you find yourself facing a major block simply wait it out without giving up. It is important that you still write during these times, even if what you are producing is junk, it is about working through the wall and getting into the next batch of ideas. If you find you are unable to focus on one project, test out some lighter writing. Writing poetry, stories or different forms of writing than you would regularly write can be a great way to beat a block and open up your inner muse. The point is to battle on and never give up on your writing.
Remember, it is never too late to get back on track with your writing. Don’t put yourself down because you have not accomplished your goals, instead make new goals and start towards them without regret.
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Essentials of a Good Scary Story

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October is the month of ghosts, goblins and vampires. It is the season of fear and the home of Halloween, it is also the ideal time of year to read, and write, scary stories.

The history of the horror story dates back to the beginning of time, and modern-day horror stories fly off the shelf as fast as they are printed. Authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and even Edgar Allen Poe have turned the art of the horror story into the popular genre it is today.

Writing horror can be rewarding, and interesting work, but there are basic essentials that every horror story should have if it hopes to gather an audience and frighten the reader enough to keep them coming back for more.

The Essentials of a Good Horror Story:

The basics of good horror are not much different from that of any written work. Good characters, good plot and plenty of detail make up a great portion of any story, but there are things that a horror story must contain if it hopes to be successful and the least bit scary.

  1. Suspense – Every good horror story or movie is built upon suspense. It is that ‘what is going to happen next’ or the ‘I know something is going to happen next’ feeling that pushes the reader to continue on. Good suspense can be built in two ways, either with the reader know what it is that is going to happen but not knowing when, or with the reader not knowing what is going to happen or when it is going to occur. The first example is one of the most difficult to achieve as a writer, Stephen King is the master of this form of suspense. King has the amazing ability to take an event and turn it into pages upon pages of suspense, all while keeping the reader hooked on each and every word. Creating good suspense requires practice, but one of the easiest ways to achieve this is to feed your reader only pieces of the story, little bits at a time. This action causes them to read further in the hopes that the puzzle will all fit together in the end. There is no short cut for creating suspense, it is all in the details and it takes time to write. Be patient and prepared to edit often.
  2. Death – Death is a major part of fear in humans and is a major detail in all, scary stories. Death in your writing does not have to be gruesome to create fear, but it has to be realistic. Using death to induce fear in your reader is not a difficult skill to master, it is about leaving blanks of information to be filled in at a later time. It goes hand-in-hand with suspense and all other aspects of horror writing and again, it all takes time.
  3. Realism - No matter the plot of your story it has to have some sort of realism. What was considered scary 10 and 20 years ago is not the same as today. Society has been desensitized to the horror story over the years, ghost, goblins and alien invaders are not considered the doom they once were. Horror stories today have far more realistic plots and min-altering story lines that leave the reader wondering if they could possibly be true. You can still utilize the old favorites of ghosts and vampires, but you need to be sure that you will be able to use them in a new and exciting way. No longer can a writer simply ‘create’ something and claim it to be true, today’s stories must back up their creations with proof if they truly hope to induce fear.
  4. Suggestiveness – This is another element that helps to build upon suspense, to induce fear and write a good horror story you must leave it to the reader’s imagination. Feed your readers only what you must to make the story move, but allow their imaginations to create the rest, right up until you bring on the ‘big twist’ and the shocking end.
  5. Strong and believable characters – As with any other genre, believable characters play a major role in the horror story. Your readers must connect with your characters, they must want them to live, and they must be engrossed in their battle to survive. Also, you must have that character that your readers hate as well, that character that they know is doomed, and they truly don’t care. Be sure that you spend a lot of time on character creation if you are planning on writing a horror story, as with every other element involved, this will take up time but the result is worth it. Horror stories are often character driven, so if you go wrong here you run the risk of ruining the entire story right from the start.

Things to Remember While Writing Horror:

If you want your story to be a success remember the following…
Avoid clichés – Too many scary plots have been played to death, avoid the obvious fearful situations such as, a woman alone in a dark house, the experiment gone bad, the haunted woods, and the Ouija board are just a few. If you have seen it a hundred times, read it a hundred times, or told it around a campfire when you were 12, choose another scenario.
Be Realistic – You can not get away with writing a story these days that is based solely on fantasy, it just won’t fly. Readers want stories that are realistic in at least some sense. Even if your idea is based on fantasy you must have some realistic elements to back it up. Scientific evidence is a major part of today’s top-selling horror novels, it requires a lot of research on the writer’s part, but it also helps make the story more believable and thus more frightening.
Be Aware of the Gore – There is a fine line between gruesome and grotesque, be aware of the gore content in your writing. You want to scare your readers, but not completely gross them out. Keep the gruesome details to only the necessities  and avoid going overboard.
Keep it Organized – It is absolutely imperative that you keep your information organized or you risk losing your reader’s attention. There is a ton of prep-work to be done when writing scary stories, and keeping organized notes can make the whole process a lot easier on you as the writer.
Set the Stage – Both your characters and your setting should help set the stage for your main point of conflict. Right from the start of your story you need to connect the two and create instant suspense.
Remember that God is in the Details – There is nothing more important that good detail to the writing of a horror story. Use descriptive words, explain and describe the surroundings, characters and emotions. Horror relies on the reader being able to visualize the scene in their mind so the more vivid the image the more fearful they will be when the time comes. There is no need to go overboard, but make sure that your readers can see the scene as you do being the writer.
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Fun Fridays – In the news

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Newspaper

All across the web you can easily find collections of funny newspaper headlines. The ones I am sharing with you today come from a great collection over at: http://www.alphadictionary.com and they serve as a reminder of why reading, and re-reading, your work is so important as a writer….

Enjoy!

 

Funny Newspaper Headlines

  • Autos killing 110 a Day; Let’s Resolve to do Better
  • Blind Woman Gets New Kidney from Dad she Hasn’t Seen in Years
  • Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
  • Deaf Mute Gets New Hearing in Killing
  • Drunk Drivers Paid $1,000 in 1984
  • Eye Drops Off Shelf
  • Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One
  • If Strike isn’t Settled Quickly it May Last a While
  • Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
  • Juvenile Court Tries Shooting Defendant
  • Kicking Baby Considered To Be Healthy
  • Robber Holds Up Albert’s Hosiery
  • Smokers are Productive, but Death Cuts Efficiency
  • Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say
  • Stiff Opposition Expected to Casketless Funeral Plan
  • Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
  • Two Sisters Reunite after Eighteen Years at Checkout Counter
  • War Dims Hope for Peace
Hope these made you giggle, be sure to check out the entire collection over at alpha dictionary Happy Friday!
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Mad Gab Mayhem Answers

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Last Weeks Wordy Wednesdays Mad Gab Mayhem Answers

1. Cited for Contempt
2. Library of Congress
3. High-Speed Connection
4. Romeo and Juliette
5. Spy Kids
6. Chicken Soup For The Soul
7. No Strings Attached
8. The Measles
9. My Name Is Bond
10. One Dollar and Ten Cents
11. What a Pair
12. My Car's in the Shop
13. You'll Ease My Mind
14. Tony Soprano 
15. The Full Monty
16. A Country Mile
17. Worth its Weight in Gold
18. Jack of all trades
19. If the shoe fits, wear it
20. Dr. Seuss
21. Universal Studios
22. A Pillow Fight
23. Paparazzi
24. Taxi Driver
25. We Didn't Start The Fire

Amazing Autumn Inspiration

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Fall is the season of change and with all the beautiful colors and the crisp air it is one of the best times to get outdoors.

Being outdoors can be very inspiring, especially with beautiful landscape and amazing autumn colors. Why not take a short walk and use the outdoors for some writing inspiration?

Below are a few Fall Writing Suggestions for you to try out. Feel free to post your results, or your own ideas, in the comments section below.

 

Fall Inspired Writing Prompts

  • Write a story or poem from the point of view of a leaf getting ready to fall from the tree.
  • Write a story about a squirrel getting prepared for the winter weather.
  • Recall a memory from your childhood that has to do with fall. Did you jump in the leaves?
  • How do you feel about raking the lawn? Love it, Hate it or Leaf Blow it all away?
  • Does fall weather inspire you? What do you like/dislike most about this time of year?
  • What is fall like where you live?
  • What is you favorite way to spend a nice fall day with friends/family?
  • Write a haunted Halloween story, poem or other piece.
  • Write about Thanksgiving.
  • Write a story or poem about the colors of fall.
  • Write a post about the best places to visit for fall colors.
Have fun and get inspired, as always comments and suggestions are always welcome. You are welcome to post in the comments section below or submit your inquires to: perfectlyprompted@live.ca
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Mad Gab Mayhem – Wordy Wednesday’s Fun With Words

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This Wordy Wednesday I thought I would keep things light challenge your minds while having a good giggle. If you had a childhood like mine you probably remember the game ‘Mad Gab‘ it was one of our family favorites, along with Scrabble and Monopoly, so this Wordy Wednesday’s Edition is a ‘Mad Gab’ Challenge.

Below are a series of saying that are not what they appear. The puzzles below contain a series of unrelated words. When you read them aloud they sound like familiar names, places, phrases, etc.. (For example: Plea Sleeve Amass Itch = Please Leave a Message) See how many you can figure out and post your responses in the comments section below. (I will post the answers at a later date.) This game can be a lot of fun and is a great way to get your mind in gear while having a good laugh. It is best played in groups, so gather up some family or friends and read these phrases aloud for a good group laugh and a ton of fun.

So without further delay; Get Mad…and Start Gabbing…

  1. Sigh Ted Fork Tempt
  2. Lie Berry Off Cone Grass
  3. Ice Peed Gun Hex Shun
  4. Rome He Owe Hand Jewelry Yet
  5. Spike Ids
  6. Sheik Cons Hoop Fur Thistle
  7. Nossed Ring Sat Hatched
  8. Theme Ease Else
  9. Mine Hey Miss Pond
  10. Wand Doll Iran Dense Hence
  11. Wad Ape Hair
  12. Mike Arson Dish Hop
  13. Yule Lees Mime Hind
  14. Too Niece Oprah Know
  15. Thief Hull Mound He
  16. Ache Hunt Trim Aisle
  17. Were That Sway Ten Cold
  18. Shack Cough Alt Raids
  19. Hefty Chew Fit Swear Hit
  20. Dock Terse Ooze
  21. You Knee Verse Sail Duty Owes
  22. Uphill Love Height
  23. Pop Hair Yahtzee
  24. Tack Seed Rye Fur
  25. Weed Hid Dents Tart Thief Higher

 

Have fun, and be sure to share you answers in the comment section below and check out the rest of the site.

 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

 

 

Have a suggestion for the site? Something you want to see? A submission of your own?
Questions, Articles, Submissions and any other Inquires can be sent to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Print vs Web – Interesting Facts for the Online Writer

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In this information age the World Wide Web is the go-to for everything from news to reviews. It is the main source of information today, and it is great place for a writer to build themselves a name and get their content published. Although, writing for the web is very different from writing a newspaper or magazine article and it is these simple, yet important, differences that can make or break a writers online pursuit.

Web Readers want to go places, they are engaged in what they are reading and are often in search of specific information. They know there is a plethora of sites to see and they want to keep moving.

Print Readers are aiming more towards relaxation and are in a relatively passive state. They are geared towards being entertained, and are often seeking pleasure rather than factual information.

The differences between writing for print (such as a newspaper article) and writing for the web may seem simple, but they require some basic knowledge of reading styles, and a different approach to the content itself.

Headlines are the first place that you will notice a difference between print writing and the online media. Where a newspaper might use a catchy headline to grab a reader’s attention, web writers need to be very specific in their wording in order to have their content found in the search engine results. A rule of thumb for online headlines is that they must have keywords, details, and facts. A newspaper has the advantage of attaching a visible photo which coupled with the catchy headline, helps to reel readers in through curiosity. Web writing relies on search engines to gather readers and most titles are listed in plain text, thus they must clearly state what the piece is about. An article about the effects of ballet on the feet in a newspaper might get away with a title of ‘Tippy Toes‘, but online it would be lost among the excess of articles, and would surely be beaten out in the search engine by results that are more specifically worded.

When you are writing headlines for a piece online you must consider exactly what a reader will type into the search engine in order to find your page, the closer you are to their wording, the higher you are on the lengthy search results list. Clarity over cleverness is key to writing on the web, and clarity can be achieved by using informative text in the first 3 words of your headline. Web writers speed read and scan and thus they rarely see a link in its entirety, be sure you catch their attention with clear, concise headlines and follow-up with easy to read factual information.

The web is aimed towards more specific information, so an article about the effects of ballet on the feet should include reviews of ballet shoes, solutions to the issues, and suggestions for preventive measures. Where a newspaper article will skim the surface of an issue, feeding you the basics you need to know, an online article needs to dig deep and cover all the bases. A good online article will tell you not only how to avoid, ease or erase the issue at hand, but will specify exactly who to see, what to buy, where to go, and how to do so.

Another major difference between print and online media is the tone. Print publications are geared more towards relaxation and entertainment than solution-hunting. In print writing you can use a more personal tone to ‘tell a story‘, where writing for the web requires the use of much more factual information. Storytelling online is often viewed as filler, and tends to slow the reader down, or stop them altogether. Web readers are in search of information, and they often want to find it fast. Ensuring that you have all the facts in place, in an easy to read format, will help your readers gather the information they require without the added effort.

Keeping content to the basics is an important part of online writing. Web readers will often only skim through content to find what they are looking for, and a ‘story‘ that would be otherwise amusing become a road-block on their immediate mission. Sentence structure and detailed paragraphs become somewhat unimportant in comparison to easy to find facts. Keeping your word count and content to a minimum is actually a plus in the world of web writing. Be sure that you get to the point quickly and provide only the essential information.

The last major difference between print and web is the readers requirements. Print such as newspapers, magazines and even television are author-driven and the reader is often willing to tag along for the ride in the hopes of being entertained. Writing on the web is different, readers online want to be in control of what they see and read, thus the content becomes reader-driven and often needs to be more in-depth and flexible. Web writing is an action based media that allows the reader to choose which information is important to them, and which they don’t care to see at all. This is an important fact to remember when writing for the web and can easily make (or break) your site and its content online.

These rules do not apply to all styles of online writing, and like any other advice, it is simply advice and there are always examples of these rules being broken with great success. Always do what you think is best for you and remember to have fun with your writing.

Do you have any online writing tips you wish to share?
Feel free to post your tips, tricks, advice, and questions in t comments section below or email your submissions to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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