Productive Ideas That Create Creativity

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ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

No matter what type of creativity you crave, chances are you are always looking for inspiration. In the writing world it has never been easier to share our imagination, ideas and creative thoughts with others through proper use of the internet. It is also tougher as well. With all the distractions life has to offer, and all the others available online, a writer of any level can find themselves far from where they want to be creatively. Below is a short list of tips that may help to get your creative juices flowing, some will help to provide productive distraction that eventually leads you back to the creative world, while others will provide you with a new outlook on your approach to writing.

Productive Ideas To Create Creativity:

  • Write it out. No matter how silly, strange or unstructured, get it on paper so it is not stuck in your head.
  • When inspiration hits, drop everything and indulge.
  • Play with children. They see the world differently and can be a huge source of inspiration.
  • When you are not inspired, don’t write. This is the ideal time to enjoy distractions, who knows maybe they will spark an idea.
  • One small idea can be just as great as 100 big ones.
  • If something is messing up your mojo, move it or lose it entirely. This includes people.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break. Spending too much time on one task creates stress and leads to less productivity in the long-run.
  • Get up, get out, get moving. Exercise and human interaction are excellent for the creative brain.
  • Make it fun. If you are feeling really blocked make your work into a game. Try naming 100 things that start with B, or that are red. When you make writing fun again your brain is more likely to co-operate.
  • Don’t force an idea. It is better to let an idea enter your mind itself than to try to force it. Forcing the idea too early often leads to frustration and eventually confusion due to over-thinking. Let it simmer, it’ll come.
  • Change the way you write. Sometimes a simple change of style is enough to get you back on track.
  • Seek inspiration in the small things. A short post about anything takes the same level of creativity as a large piece, but less time and sometimes more freedom. Spend time writing small things, even if you never publish them, they can be useful sources in the future and often lead to larger works down the line.
  • Write everything down. If you are a writer you should have a pen and paper (or something of the sort) at all times. As soon as an idea strikes write it down. Be sure to add as many details as possible so you are not looking back at a note later wondering what “One Eyes Pete and the laser of life” means.
  • Share what you have learned with others. Teaching others is a wonderful way to inspire yourself.
  • Update the past. If you are at a loss pick up older pieces and give them a fresh start, or a face lift.
  • Nix the negativity. Whether it is your own self-inflicted negativity or the criticism of others, dwelling on it is not going to get anything done. Lesson number one in life: You will have far more haters than you ever will fans. (So it’s probably best if you are on your own side.)
  • Stop aiming for perfection. The best thing you can do is write it, and get feedback. Don’t try to make it a final draft the first time around, you will end up miserable and overworked, with a wreck of a story that has been hacked to death. Remember the worst that can happen is that it will suck…. Guess what? It can be deleted and re-written!
  • Enjoy yourself. If it’s not enjoyable for you then don’t do it at all.

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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The Different Types of Writer’s Block (And How to Battle Them)

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Writer’s Block ia a subject that we have discussed many times on this site in the past. It can be a frustrating and often overwhelming condition that writer‘s of all levels face at one time or another, no matter their style or expertise. What you probably don’t know is that writer’s block comes in various forms and each requires a different approach in order to overcome the obstruction and take back your creativity.

The Different Forms of Writer’s Block (and How to Tackle Them):

Lack of ideas

This is the most common form of Writer’s Block and consists of literally staring at a blank page. Perhaps you will manage to write something down, but chances are you will delete it shortly there after. This can be a very frustrating experience and usually you can’t even get started because you have no idea what to write about. You are halted before you have even begun.

There is good news for those that are suffering from this type of Writer’s Block, this is one of those times when ‘doing a writing exercise’ may actually work. Try, for example, free-writing for a few minutes. This means writing without thought, simply put your pen to the page (or fingers on the keyboard) and let the words flow from your mind. Don’t worry about editing, or making sense for that matter, set a timer and simply write whatever words come to mind. Once you are done you can read through what you have written and pull out any ideas that may be useful. Another way to generate ideas is by reading, pick up a magazine, visit your favorite bogs or utilize online bookmark sites. (StumbleUpon is a great source of inspiration) By reading different materials you can generate ideas for your own writing. You may find a topic that needs more in-depth information, a different point of view or slight expansion, just be sure you share your source of inspiration so the original author gets the credit they deserve. Be sure to check out writing prompts (there are many listed on this site and even more that can be found though a simple Google search) sometimes simple inspiration to get you started is all you need to break through this barrier.

An abundance of ideas, but a lack of discipline

Another form of Writer’s Block is the challenge of having a ton of ideas but the lack of discipline to follow through with any of them. This common case of Writer’s Block is the type that I struggle with most often, I will have an ample amount of ideas about what I want to write about, but I lack the discipline required to complete the writing. Perhaps you have lists of topics you want to write about, you may even begin each piece, but somewhere along the way you get sidetracked and these pieces never get completed. I have files full of half-finished articles, stories and blog posts that require a bit more attention. The best resolution to this form of Writer’s Block is to file them away until a time when they do get your creative juices flowing. Chances are eventually you will be able to turn them into something in the future, but trying to force them out now will only result in disappointment. Set them aside until a later date or try putting a new spin on them, but don’t force them to work or you will wear yourself out.

The fictitious brick wall

We have all faced this obstacle in our writing lives. You start out with a great idea and the ideas are flowing freely. You are writing up a storm and all is going well, then suddenly you hit a fictitious wall and you get stuck.  It is moments like this that make you think about the art of outlining. Some writers work well with outlines, others are far better off just jumping into a story feet first. Outlines aid in creating a road to follow, but the good news is that they can be introduced at any point.

Creating an outline can help you break through any obstacles or barriers you come across in your writing, but they don’t necessarily have to begin at the beginning. Using an outline to get from point A, to point B, to point C will work just as effectively to get from point F to point G. If you find yourself ‘stuck’ create a quick outline of what you want to have happen next, and consider how your character is going to get there while staying true to themselves and the story-line. An outline, whether created at the beginning or the middle point will simply prevent you from travelling off-route and keep you in-line with your ultimate goal. So many times I have gotten stuck and ended up far-off from the point I wanted to end up at because I allowed my mind to wander freely without direction, and though this is not always a bad thing, you run the risk of taking a wrong-turn a hundred pages back and not realizing the result until it is too late.

The bold beginning without an end

This form of Writer’s Block runs along the same lines of the fictitious wall, you have a great story idea and your writing is going well then you suddenly realize that it is time to end the story and you have no idea how you are going to accomplish this goal. A good, even grand ending can make or break a book. (or article, or even blog post) Your ending should leave the reader satisfied, yet thinking as well. You can not be barreling along and suddenly come to a halt, nor can you end your piece without tying up all your loose ends. I have read so many books that have my undivided attention and then out of nowhere they come to an abrupt end leaving me stunned and somewhat disappointed.

This is another time when the outline comes in handy, consider also brainstorming to come up with ending options and choose the one that makes the story feel most complete. Make a list of all the loose ends you need to tie up before ending the story in order to prevent readers wondering what happened next. There should always be room for imagination, or continuation, but there should not be unanswered questions.

Chaotic characterization

Characters can create a whole other type of Writer’s Block. Perhaps you have spent hours creating these bold, substantial and vibrant characters with depth and detail. You have written pages and pages about them, they way they look, where they live, what they do and who they are in general, but they don’t seem to be ‘doing’ anything.

Strong characterization is important to your writing, but over-characterization is just as dangerous as none at all. Spending too much time chalking out your characters personality leads to boredom and inactive plots. You can quickly fond yourself without a story for this amazing character to act out.

Don’t get discouraged, it is not a complete loss. Sometimes spending time writing pages of nothing actually leads to something. By creating in-depth information about your characters you are getting into their world and once you set out to start the story you will know your character inside and out. The downfall to this approach is that most of what you have wasted time writing will need to be cut out during the editing process. Consider instead creating a ‘character questionnaire’ that you can answer for each of your main characters before you begin writing, this is like a story outline for your characters. Include questions such as, Name, birth date, zodiac sign, career, likes and dislikes, etc. Gather as much detail as you possibly can and keep this list close during your writing, adding information periodically when it fits in the story. The aim is for your reader to develop a full picture of your character over time, while the story unfolds around them.

Debilitating self-doubt

Self-doubt is one of the biggest causes of Writer’s Block. You start with a great idea, you begin writing, then you start questioning what other people are going to think and you lose your momentum.

Your inner critic can be your biggest setback and until you complete your first draft, that voice needs to be drowned out in any way possible. Don’t focus on the feedback you are going to get later, or later will never come. Chances are the problems you are imagining are simply that, imagination. You are never going to get ‘any’ feedback if you don’t first write. So tell that inner voice to shut-up and focus on getting your ideas down on paper. You will need that inner critic at a later time, during revising, so tell it to sit tight until then.

A Lack of Language

Another huge barrier that writers face is the challenge of finding the perfect words to convey their message. This is important if you are writing poetry or trying to set the imagery of a specific scene, but for the most part during the first draft the exact wording is not overly important. Rather than wasting time trying to find the perfect word to describe something, use the first word that comes to mind and highlight it in some way to be edited later. If you waste precious time on single words you will lose sight of your final goal and you runt he risk of this obsession over-taking your mind. Save simple changes for a later time and move on with your story and information.  If moving on is not an option, for example, finding the perfect word is all a part of visualizing the next scene in your head, than by all means take your time or take a breath until you can move forward with your piece.

From the inside out

This type of Writer’s Block forms with a fantastic idea you have inside your mind, you have a plan and you just know it is going to be great. You begin writing your idea down and suddenly it doesn’t seem so fantastic after all. Is this simply your inner critic getting the best of you? Perhaps, or perhaps there actually is a problem with your idea that you are only seeing for the first time in black and white.

You have two options with this type of Writer’s Block. You can choose to motor on forcing the idea out of your head in the hopes that it somehow takes the shape you dreamed of, or you can cast it aside and set out in search of greener pastures. There is nothing wrong with letting a bad idea die incomplete if it means opportunity to begin a new piece that may be closer to your ultimate goal. If you decide to let the idea go, don’t delete it, simply set it aside for future review. Sometimes old pieces of unfinished work turn into treasures after your mind has had a chance to focus on other adventures. These long forgotten pieces may become a missing link to a future story, so keep them on hand for inspiration.

If you choose to follow through with your idea be prepared for disappointment. If you are ‘forcing’ your writing, chances are you will never be completely happy with the outcome, but this does not mean it is a complete waste. As with the previous option, if even after completing your project you are still not happy with result simply set it aside for revision later. A fresh mind, and a few changes, may be all it needs to become the idea you once held inside your mind.

Writers often spend so much time developing and idea inside their mind that by the time it gets to the page it is twisted and contorted into something it never was, save time with an outline and a clear idea of the result you are looking for.

Erratic over-editing

The last form of Writer’s Block comes from erratic over-editing. This is when you continuously edit as you write and eventually lose sight of what you were writing in the first place.

One of the hardest things for writers to learn is to avoid editing until you have completed the first draft. There is no harm in correcting simple spelling or grammar as you go, but complete revisions of characters or story-lines should be saved until the entire piece is complete. You must let the story unfold before you truly know what changes need to be made. No writer has ever sat down to write a novel in one sitting, so stop trying. Focus on getting all the main ideas out of your head and on to the page before you try to perfect the product or you will find yourself stuck half-way through with no idea where you started or where you aimed to end up.

If you do find yourself in this predicament the best thing you can do is read through what you have previously written (without changing anything) and hope that the inspiration returns. If all else fails look back to the original idea (or the outline) and start over if you truly hate what your piece has become.

No matter what form of Writer’s Block you are suffering from, the best thing you can do is to keep writing. If a project has truly got you stumped move on to something else. Often times changing they type of writing you are doing, even temporarily, is enough to clear your mind of its obsessive focus. Take a break or try looking at things from a different perspective. Ask for help and always seek out new and interesting forms of inspiration. If you are truly stuck and suffering feel free to utilize our ‘Get Connected’ section here on Perfectly Prompted or email your questions, comments, issues, submissions, or even frustrations to: perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Until Next Time…

Write On!

How do you cope with Writer’s Block?
What is your most common type? 
Share you tips, tricks, advice and stories in the comment section below. 

Write When You Don’t Want To…

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We all have those days when no matter which way we look at it we just don’t feel like writing, but avoiding your work if you truly hope to succeed is not the way to accomplish your goals. Procrastinating or pushing aside your writing once leads to further avoidance and before you know it too much time has passed without a single written word.

You do not have to spend hours writing to get things done, in fact, often times just a few focused minutes will do just fine. Below are a few ways to get yourself writing, even when you really don’t want to…

  1. Make Lists – A large number of my posts on this site, and others are built around lists. Making lists is a great way to generate ideas while keeping your thoughts focused and organized. Build a list of your favorite sites, quotes, or even post ideas you want to complete in the future. Creating the list will get you writing and chances are it will lead you to completing, or at least starting, one of the items you have come up with.
  2. Create Catchy Headlines – Lets be honest, after a long day it can often be overwhelming to consider writing a long detailed post. Instead of wearing yourself thin trying to come up with an entire article write only headlines. Writing and creating headlines works a lot like writing lists, it generates ideas and gets your writing gears moving in the right direction. Don’t feel as if you have to finish anything at that moment, simply create ideas for a time when you have the time to write.
  3. Edit Old Posts – If you are really stuck for new topics consider looking to the past. Editing old articles or posts can be very inspiring and often leads to new ideas that are expanded from old ones. Visit the early posts of your site and re-write one of your posts, you will probably be surprised by how much your writing has improved in just a short time.
  4. Clear The ClutterWriter’s block can happen because our minds are filled with too much clutter and we have no room for new ideas. Make room for inspiration by clearing out the crap that is cluttering up your brain. To accomplish this all you need is paper and a pen (or your computer) and a few minutes of your time. Sit down somewhere quiet and simply write whatever comes to mind. Don’t think, don’t attempt to make sense, and most of all don’t edit it in any way… Just write and get it all out of your head and on to paper so that new ideas can fill the empty space you have created in your mind. Remember to keep this ‘free-writing‘ sheet and look at it in the future, you may be able to pick out useful pieces out of the chaos that was inside your head, but if not don’t stress the point is to simply clear your mind, inspiration and usable content is not important.
  5. Relive a Resolution – One sure-fire way to get something written is to write about a problem that you were able to solve. Perhaps you figured out how to get grass stains out of your 8-year-old’s favorite jeans, found a solution to rebellious teens, or simply discovered a quicker way to clean the kitchen, writing about how you solved a problem is a great way to get writing, and it might help others who are facing the same dilemma you once were.
  6. Seek Inspiration Elsewhere – It might sound strange but you can easily find inspiration in other people’s writing. Visit your favorite blog and read through the content than take a piece and re-write it with your own spin. (Remember to link back to the original author) If you are uncomfortable re-writing someone else’s idea than consider expanding on their piece instead, again being sure to link back to the original post to give the author the credit they deserve.
  7. Answer a Question – Much like sharing a resolution, answering a question can be a great way to get a post on your site. Ask readers to send in questions, or simply create your own based on your site’s content. Sharing information about yourself or your business helps your readers to connect with you on a different level and opens up ideas for future posts.
  8. Explore Unusual Genres – Many times when I am stuck for something to write I will turn in a completely different direction for inspiration. I find writing in an unfamiliar form to be very inspiring. If I am having trouble finishing an article I will step back and pound out a poem or short story. Doing this keeps me in the writing mode, but allows me to look at things from a different perspective. By the time I am ready to tackle my original task I usually have an open mind and plenty of new ideas to write about.
  9. Outline – Outlining is a great way to get started without having to get too in-depth. If you are not in the mood to write try outlining something. You never want to avoid writing because it will lead to lost time now and later, the more you avoid it now the greater chance your writers block or lack of motivation will grow and lead to further avoidance. Instead of walking away from your goals do something that will help them move forward. Outline a post, short story or article that you can write in detail later, this way you are still writing, but you are not forcing yourself to spit out usable content that could have been better written when you are in a writing mood.
  10. Write a Letter – If posts, poems, and articles are simply out of the question for your writing mind at the moment than write someone a letter. When was the last time that you sat down and wrote a letter (not an email) to a friend or family member? Letter writing is a dying art, but I am seeking a revival. Writing some one a letter (even if it never gets sent) is a great way to get yourself writing without the pressure of having to do it well.
  11. Be a Teacher – We learn a great many things in our lives, why not share those lessons with others? Teaching is a wonderful thing, you don’t have to be an expert to teach people something, simply having some experience and an opinion is more than enough. In the modern-day it is easy to sill in the holes that you may not be sure of and with a bit of research you can create a factual post in no time. Use your life lessons to teach others and help them accomplish the same things you have without the hassles you had to face.
  12. Seek Out Strangers – Lastly, if you are really stuck for something to write about, look out the window. Pick a stranger on the street (or from a photo if no one is around) and write about what the picture tells you about them. The man in the park feeding the birds, the woman with her child that has tears in her eyes, the teenage girl with the pink spiky hair… Look around you, there is endless inspiration to be found in every face you see. If you are feeling really gutsy then strike up a conversation with someone and see where it takes you. You never know who you are going to meet.
If you want to succeed as a writer you must write. This is not to say you should force yourself to create amazing works of art when your heart, and mind, are just not in it, but you need to keep writing no matter your mood. If you have decided to be serious about your writing than you have probably scheduled daily writing time into your routine, it is important that you keep this appointment with yourself. Use the ideas above as inspiration on those days when you really don’t want to write and work yourself thorough it. It is not about writing something amazing, it is only about writing. Don’t pressure yourself to be amazing, just be the writer you know you are inside.
Until Next Time…
Write On! 
How do you cope when you don’t feel like writing?
What inspiration do you use when you face writer’s block?
Share your tips and thoughts in the comment section below and remember that questions, comments, thoughts and submissions can also be emailed to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca

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!

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!

Important Things Every Writer Should Know

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There are a million and one pieces of advice out there for writers. You can learn a lot if you look around. The web provides amazing advice, blossoming communities and ample resources for writers to enjoy. You can easily educated yourself on every aspect of writing, but some times knowledge isn’t everything and often times it is action that teaches us the lessons we need to learn. If you must educate yourself through written word and obvious advice than below are a few pieces things that every writer should know.

Important Things Every Writer Should Know:

  • You are not alone. There are literally thousands of writers out there on the web, which can be both a blessing and a curse. A curse because of the constant competition and lack of individuality, and a blessing because of the strong support network you are able to build with other people who have the same common interest as you. (Most of whom are more than willing to help out a fellow writer in need of guidance.)
  • The basics are the basis of your career. As tempting as it can be to throw the basic writing principles to the wind and simply start writing, proper word usage and even comma placement can make or break a piece if you truly hope to get published. If you are writing simply for your own pleasure, or personal page, than by all means write any way you want to, but if you hope to get your writing published then it is best you refresh your mind before you actually write.
  • Being a successful writer takes time, lots of time. No one creates a best-seller over-night, (Not even James Patterson, who seems to come out with 10 damn books a year) making a name for yourself in the writing world takes time and effort on your part. The truth is that practice and persistence are the key to success in the field. The writer you were at the beginning will be very different than the writer you will one day become.
  • Education isn’t everything. The truth of the matter is anyone can write, all it really takes is a talent for words, a way with storytelling and a desire to write both down. Education only helps with style and the basic foundations of the art, it has absolutely nothing to do with the raw talent that some writers are simply born with. You could attend the best schools in the country, but if you don’t have ‘it’, you just don’t have it.
  • Despite the fact that there are thousands of writers out there your story will always be uniquely yours. The magical thing about writing is that every story is different. Even when several writers are given the same plot, characters and even story line, each one creates a different story. The creative mind is a magical thing and is one of the reasons that writing is so amazing.
  • You hold the power. The only person to blame if you are not content in your writing is yourself. It is not your schedule, your audience or your reviews that make your writing, it is you.  If you want to be a successful writer you need to make that choice and stick to it like glue. Stop making excuses and start writing. Talent, skill and creativity are only half of what makes a writer successful, persistence is the other part. So get in gear, and get writing!
  • Loosen up. If you take every rejection you receive personally you are doomed to a life of misery. If you want to make a name for yourself you better toughen up. Getting editors to look at your works is difficult, getting it published is even worse. You are going to get ten times the rejections than you do acceptances, don’t take it personally or you are set to sink yourself. Instead take each and build upon it, edit, revise and try again. Keep moving forward and never give up.
  • It’s not just about the writing. Oh the joys if it were simply about writing. What a simple life that would be. Unfortunately the writer is not just a writer, they are an editor, a publicist, a marketer, a blogger, a designer, a reader, a speaker, a lawyer, a trouble-shooter and a person with many needs.  In today’s world they are an even greater number of things. With the world wide web and the popularity in online publishing, a writer has to be somewhat of a technical genius as well. It is a busy, complicated, stressful life, but given the effort it is worth it.
  • It’s a bit about ‘who you know.’ As I said above, writers make up a large community, which can be an excellent source for networking. Being a successful writer sometimes has to do with having the right connections. The best thing you can do is communicate with other writers, through communication with others you will learn about new opportunities, job openings and different venues for your talent. Make friends, get to know other writers and learn as much as you can.
  • Clarity is king in the writing world. The number one thing for a writer to remember is to write what you mean. If you are clear in what you are saying, it will be clear to read, and that is the key to good writing, not the only key, but an important one just the same.
  • Live to write, or write to live. Though being a good writer and writing a lot are great ways to find success, you must remember that in order to have something to write about in the first place you must have lived your life. So get out there and travel, learn and enjoy life so you have stories to tell and things to write about.
  • Keep in mind that the worst thing that can happen is that your writing will be boring. There is no point in stressing about what you write, because the worst case scenario is that it will suck, people will think it’s boring, and no one will want to read it. Really, who cares! If you are happy with what you write, you put effort into it, and you are enjoying the time you spend doing it, what everyone else thinks is not important. So get over your silly fears and write what makes you feel good.
  • Lastly, Stop reading advice about writing and get writing. Tips, tricks and advice are great, they will probably teach you something, but the fact is that unless you actually write something, you will never be a writer. So get out that pen, or sit down in front of your computer, and get writing. Start a piece and finish it. Write from your heart and edit until it is perfect. Remember that the choice is yours and only you can stop yourself, so if you really want to be a writer than you better write something down.

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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