Writing Tips from Margaret Atwood

29 July, 2019 § Leave a comment

Margaret Atwood has written a broad range of work over 60 years, even though she is now especially famous as the author of The Handmaid’s Tale (based on real events in Cambodia).

She is prolific and thought-provoking in her writing. I first came across her in 1993 when she published The Robber Bride. Atwood has 17 books of poetry, 16 novels, and a plethora of short stories – many with critical acclaim. Want to know how to write? Read and listen to Margaret Atwood.

This beauty takes less than 18 minutes and worth every one.

The young interviewers in this video put professional interviewers to shame with their questions and handling of the process. I could listen to Margaret all day, couldn’t you?

Finished Your 1st Draft? Next…

4 January, 2014 § Leave a comment

There’s a great warm feeling that rushes through your veins when ‘finish’ your first draft. You type “The End”, print it out, get the satisfaction as you rap all the pages so they are all aligned and you clip it together to …

What comes next?

Lots of work. Lots.

Sadly, if you intend to publish, writing the book is actually the beginning!

You now need to have your work reviewed BEFORE submitting it to a publisher or agent, to see what’s working, what’s not and how to make it better.

Here’s a list of just some of the things you’ll need to cover off before you get it on sale.

  • What are the books strengths and weaknesses?
  • How marketable is it?
  • How solid is your plot, characterisation, pacing, structure?
  • How appropriate is it for your target market?
  • Where are the errors – grammar, mechanics, spelling, style?
  • What method and process will you use to revise the work?

What about proofreading? Sure, you’re careful, but then… grammatical errors, punctuation, capitalization, verb tense, spelling, sentence structure… Get things proofread – there are tons of people who will help you for a fee eg http://bubblecow.net/proofreading/ – or, do it yourself – http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/02/10-proofreading-tips-for-self-publishers-058/

Got a short story that needs critiquing? Know how? Try this – http://www.cod.edu/people/faculty/bobtam/website/guidelines_for_writing_a_critiqu.htm

Know how to write a query letter? Research that.  For example – http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

Know how to write a good synopsis? Look it up. For example – http://www.marissameyer.com/blogtype/6-steps-for-writing-a-book-synopsis/

Want to do your own line editing? Find out how. For example – http://www.deepgenre.com/wordpress/craft/line-editing/

Once you’ve actually written the work, the rubber starts to hit the road. How committed are you to getting it properly prepared for sale or for enjoyment by friends and family without distractions of poor style etc.

If you believe in what you’ve written, isn’t the extra work worthwhile?

How many people will read a 1st draft that collects dust in your drawer?

Don’t be THAT person. Finish the thing! Stay the course and produce your work.




What Makes You Write?

10 December, 2013 § 4 Comments

Hard to believe, I know, but not everyone feels compelled to write.

Yeah. I don’t get that either. Still, each to their own.

For those who do have an insatiable and unstoppable urge to write, the question becomes … why?

I was fortunate enough to hear a few authors talking about their journey to being published and was fascinated to find that most differed in what caused them to become published.

One such person was Steve Bisley. Steve is a knockabout Aussie actor who was raised in a typical ordinary Australian family. As an actor he has enjoyed a modestly successful but consistent career in television and on stage. He admitted that as an actor, one is always interpreting the words and works of others. It got to the stage where he decided to have a bash and write his own story.

As often happens, his first novel was autobiographical in nature in the sense that it was a rollicking recollection of stories from his childhood. He admits to never having a diary or anything but his own memory as a keen observer of life. He recalled an image and wrote it out. Steve took time out from acting to write and set a discipline of writing in longhand daily from 8.30 am and then typing it into Word. If he didn’t follow that discipline he feared the book would ‘go on’ and never be finished.

He did indeed finish, was published, and is now writing his next book. Interestingly he thought writing was tough doing his first book. Now he realises that was easy because he just had to resell his life’s stories. In his new venture, he is finding it much harder as it’s not autobiographical at all.

Steve wrote to express himself in a new creative way rather than being a vehicle for others voices. He is learning a whole new way of being in his mature years and is stimulated as well as humbled by the whole process.

Here’s a quote I grabbed from his talk that I believe is so true.


How To Write a Book in 2 Minutes

1 June, 2013 § Leave a comment


I was testing out how fast I could produce a video. Turns out … fast!

In this really quick 2 minute video I cover off the four key elements to writing a book

  1. what’s the big idea?
  2. create a plan
  3. scope out the book
  4. write!

And you’re done!

Obviously there is a lot more to writing a book but essentially these are the key elements.

Journey of a book

22 October, 2011 § Leave a comment

  1. edit
  2. re-edit
  3. finish the manuscript
  4. typesetting and design – test, review, endorsement
  5. proofing and editing – digitally printed is almost like phtsical print
  6. print
  7. publicise
  8. distribution

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