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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Only Writing Rules You'll Ever Need?

A friend of mine shared this with me last week. I thought that, overall, it had some good advice. I'm no expert on writing, and I don't write nearly as often as I should, so I felt I should explore these rules here, as they apply to my own experiences (or lack thereof):
  1. If you write every day, you get better at writing every day—This is something all good writers should be doing: we should read every day, and we should write every day. But most writers have day jobs as well (those who don't are either very lucky, or wish they did; it's practically impossible to make a living as a full-time writer, in my opinion). It can be difficult to find the time, but like any craft, practice makes perfect! For myself, I'm going to keep trying!
  2. If it's boring to you, it's boring to your reader—This one goes without saying. Write about things that excite you! Don't write simply for the sake of writing. Different people will have different tastes, so you'll never be able to please everybody. You will be able to please yourself, though!
  3. Get a writing routine, and stick with it—Wow, this is another one that I struggle with, and I'm sure you do, too! It does make sense, though. The way to develop any habit (good or bad) is to practice, practice, practice. If you decide that you're going to write every day at 16:00, then stick to it. It will eventually become habit, and you'll feel like something very important in your life is missing if you don't do it for a day.
  4. Poetry does NOT have to rhyme—I have to keep reminding myself of this, but it's true; any art form is an expression of one's true self. While you definitely need to be aware of things like spelling and grammar, you shouldn't feel constrained by rules. This is your passion, after all!
  5. Resist stereotypes, in real life and in your writing—I think that this can be the difference between a mediocre idea and a great idea. Not every dwarf speaks with a Scottish accent, not every pirate has an eye-patch or a peg-leg, and not every wizard wears a pointy hat. Be creative, be unique, be yourself! If your vampires sparkle, though, you're on your own! (Although seriously, why do you think the Twilight series is so popular?)
  6. Writers read. Writers read a lot. Writers read all the time—In my youth, I read a lot. But life happens, and I lost the habit. But over the past year, I think I've read more than I read in my whole life previously. I've read the classics, I've read modern tales. I've read fantasy, I've read horror. I've read drama, and I've read romance. Not only do I feel it's making me a better writer, it's making me a better human being, too!
  7. Make lists of your favourite words and books and places and things—This is definitely something I'm going to start doing! So often I run across an older or more obscure word in a book I'm reading, that I haven't heard in a while. I find myself thinking, "That's so cool. I must find a place to use that word!" But then I forget it. I'm going to start using those words in my day-to-day writing.
  8. There doesn't always have to be a moral to the story—Sometimes when you write, you write because you want to tell the world something. That's great, but sometimes I think we should all remember that a good story is just a good story.
  9. Always bring your notebook. Always bring a spare pen—Or your tablet PC. I also need to learn this. Inspiration can strike at any time. You won't remember later. Write it down!
  10. Go for walks. Dance. Pull weeds. Do the dishes. Write about it—This, I believe, is just an extension of rule number 1. Sometimes the reason why you don't write every day is because you've convinced yourself you don't know what to write about, or that what you have to write about is insignificant or irrelevant. Not everybody's going to read everything you write, but everything you write will help to make you a better writer.
  11. Don't settle on just one style. Try something new—Indeed. I think a fantasy writer would be amazed at what he can learn by stepping outside of his comfort zone and writing a thriller every once in a while!
  12. Learn to tell both sides of the story—My mother always told me that there were two sides to every argument. I think understanding this is an important life skill that all writers naturally have. Use it to your advantage!

I hope you've found my interpretation of the above rules useful to you. If you have, then I'd appreciate it if you'd go and check out my fantasy short story, A Petition to Magic. Just Google it—it's currently available on Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and others! After you've read it, let me know how well you think I've followed some of the rules above!

Oh, and if you're the person who put together the above poster, please let me know so that I can properly credit you.

Good luck in all your future writing endeavours!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Why You Should Like Me on Facebook

How do you use Facebook?

It seems I'm unique in my usage of Facebook—I use Facebook the way it was intended. I use Facebook to connect to my real life friends, online. I don't accept friend requests from people I clearly don't know, and have never met, in real life. Most people seem to use the social network as just another online meeting place, and accept friend requests from anyone who crosses their path.

I've always received a fair number of friend requests from people I don't know. Since I published my book*, that number has increased. It seems to me that if so many people want to connect to me on Facebook, then I should find a way for them to do that without violating my principles or Facebook's terms and conditions. So I created my very first personal Fan Page. If you Like it, you get to see my musings on writing and other random bits and bobs, and find out all the happenings of my books. If you're lucky, you may even get exclusive access to special offers from time to time (no promises, though)!

I update sporadically, with whatever takes my fancy at the time. If that suits you just fine, and if you want to connect with me, go check it out: http://www.facebook.com/writergraham/.

Maybe you'll be disappointed. Maybe you won't. Go on—dip your feet in, and find out!

* A Petition to Magic is my fantasy short story, about a wizard who doesn't want to be a wizard any more. It's available at Smashwords, Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Google it, download the free sample, and see if you like it!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Aspiring Writers: Read This Now!

This past weekend, I read the book The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. Having already published my e-book*, I'd already implemented some of the tips in the book, but it still gave me some great ideas for what to try next. Here's what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

This book is really good! I would recommend it for anyone who's ever considered getting anything published. Most of the tips in this book are things I'm already doing, or planning on doing. But it does contain a few gems (and some useful insights into how both traditional and online book retailers work), and it has helped to motivate me to do some things I know I should be doing--not the least of which is "write more books!"

I honestly think that anyone who's ever thought of writing a book, or publishing a book, should read this first. It's available as a free download at all the major ebook retailers.

*If you haven't picked up my short fantasy story yet, please do! It's available on Smashwords, Amazon, and Kobo (more coming soon!).

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

January Crossword Puzzle Winner

Well, I can't say that I got very many entries to last week's crossword puzzle. I guess the clues must've been too hard. I'll try and make the next one a bit easier.

I did get one correct entry, however. She said she had to do lots of Googling and Wikipedia research, but she made it in the end. Congratulations @wytch6 on Twitter!

Here are the answers. When you've finished kicking yourself, come back next week for the next post:

This crossword was created by Graham Downs with EclipseCrossword - www.eclipsecrossword.com

12
T S
34         
J H E A L T H
  5      6 
U S H E X A N
7     
T O E F
  89 
E N E T
10      11 
D I L L B D
12  13       
T I S P R I G
   
B U
14  15 
T E A L
 
I
16    17
R O A D
18  1920 
W A R O N
    21  22   
A O S H O U T
     
X A R
23         
R I P E N S

Across

  1. The general condition of a person's mind and body
  2. Not he
  3. A goddess in Sumerian mythology
  4. A digit
  5. To catch a fish
  6. A herb whose leaves and flowers are sometimes used to flavour food
  7. Titanium
  8. A small stem
  9. Mix green and blue into white
  10. A paved thoroughfare
  11. Organised conflict
  12. In contact with and supported by a surface
  13. Make a loud noise
  14. What happens to a fruit

Down

  1. A levy imposed by the state
  2. The handle of a tool
  3. A point that sticks out
  4. Male pronoun
  5. Prevents from seeing
  6. A UNIX text editor
  7. IATA code for Dibrugarh Airport
  8. A sweetness designation of a dry sparkling wine
  9. Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Argon
  10. Period
  11. Produced by bees
  12. A loud noise from a wild animal
  13. Commune in the Nord department in northern France


This crossword puzzle was created by Graham Downs with EclipseCrossword. Try it today—it's free!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Crossword Puzzle for Your Frustration and Enjoyment

Happy New Year, everyone!

I thought we'd start 2013 off with a bang, and have a little bit of fun with this one. Here's a crossword puzzle I put together. When you think you have the answer, tweet me @GrahamDowns. The first person to get all the answers will get a mention from me, and I'll post the correct answers on this blog. If nobody gets it after an extended period of time, I'll post the answers here, and I win! :)

Here goes:

This crossword was created by Graham Downs with EclipseCrossword - www.eclipsecrossword.com

12
   
34         
             
  5      6 
             
7     
       
  89 
       
10      11 
           
12  13       
             
   
   
14  15 
       
 
 
16    17
       
18  1920 
         
    21  22   
             
     
     
23         
           

Across

  1. The general condition of a person's mind and body
  2. Not he
  3. A goddess in Sumerian mythology
  4. A digit
  5. To catch a fish
  6. A herb whose leaves and flowers are sometimes used to flavour food
  7. Titanium
  8. A small stem
  9. Mix green and blue into white
  10. A paved thoroughfare
  11. Organised conflict
  12. In contact with and supported by a surface
  13. Make a loud noise
  14. What happens to a fruit

Down

  1. A levy imposed by the state
  2. The handle of a tool
  3. A point that sticks out
  4. Male pronoun
  5. Prevents from seeing
  6. A UNIX text editor
  7. IATA code for Dibrugarh Airport
  8. A sweetness designation of a dry sparkling wine
  9. Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Argon
  10. Period
  11. Produced by bees
  12. A loud noise from a wild animal
  13. Commune in the Nord department in northern France


This crossword puzzle was created by Graham Downs with EclipseCrossword. Try it today—it's free!