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Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing

Jo is still away, so I’m standing in for this week’s update.

  • Countdown to our Writers Abroad Anthology publication has started! National Short Story Week starts on 22 November and our anthology will be published in a free e-book version to coincide with it. More news later this week about marketing efforts and publication details. A big thank you to everyone who has helped with it and particularly to Jo, who has kept it all together.
  • Nicola has posted a couple of pictures as this week’s Monday Muse prompts – one celestial, the other more earth-bound I think. They ought to inspire some interesting ideas.
  • I have posted this week’s Monday blog about the importance of presentation.
  • Our NaNoWriMo writers are entering week 3 – half way through. Keep going: there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
  • Still plenty of time to post something up for the November challenge (Marit’s competition or a work in progress). Reminder to self: just do it.
  • Formal meeting next Sunday, 21 November 14:00 CET. Paola is (provisionally, depending on which continent she is in) in the Chair. Agenda to follow in the meetings forum. Please feel free to add any items or email Jo or me with them.

Have a good week, everyone, and get plenty of stuff written. 


Presentation, presentation, presentation Tags: Writers Abroad writing

I learnt about presentation at an early age. Once, our biology homework was to draw an eyeball in section, with all the parts clearly labelled. When I got my exercise book back, I was a bit shocked to see that I had been awarded only C-. There was no other comment. 

During the next biology lesson, I took my book to the teacher and asked her what was wrong with my diagram. Big mistake. She held up the book to the whole class and said, “Vanessa wants to know what’s wrong with her homework.” She proceeded systematically to criticise my efforts in public. My face red with shame, I crept back to my desk. 

On reflection, I realised that of course it wasn’t good enough. The eyeball I had drawn looked as though someone had sat on it. And the labelling was marred by crossings-out and the odd splodge of ink. I had thought it would do, so I didn’t put enough effort into it. 

The main lesson I learnt from this (apart from not questioning the teacher’s judgement in front of my schoolmates) was that you cannot separate presentation from content. Whether it is a short story for a competition, a magazine article, a pitch to an editor or a simple email, the way it looks really does matter. 

I’m not trying to suggest that presentation is everything. Good presentation will (or should) never conceal bad writing. However, good writing can be negated by poor presentation. Spelling or grammatical mistakes or apostrophes in the wrong place will prejudice the reader against the piece at once. 

Competition judges no doubt tear out their hair when they receive poorly-presented submissions. When selecting the submissions for our own anthology, I was frequently surprised at the lack of effort some authors had put into checking spelling and grammar and at the sloppy formatting of their stories. I was disinclined to accept even good stories under those circumstances.  

Following a few basic rules can make a big difference: 

  • Paying attention to formatting so that it looks clear and neat. Making sure it’s all in the same font and typesize; removing any extra gaps that have crept in between paragraphs; ensuring you are consistent in the use of bullet points. 
  • Editing the piece in hard copy, not just onscreen. The spellchecker is not infallible: it won’t distinguish between ‘form’ and ‘from’, for example. The number of mistakes I miss onscreen always amazes me.
  • Getting someone else to read it through. They might notice mistakes you missed and will tell you if they find the typesize etc easy to read.

So, while substance is the most important thing, style does count, too.

[It's with some trepidation that I have posted this up, hoping that I have practised what I preach here!]


Category: Site News
Tags: writing writers abroad site news

Hi all, Jo has had to go to the UK urgently, so I'm in the hot seat for site news this week:

  1. Our courageous NaNoWriMo writers started off last week and are working hard to produce their 1600 or so words a day. Week 2 is the hardest, I'm told. Good luck and keep going!
  2. Mary has posted up a very interesting Monday blog about the origins of storytelling - at least we're not likely to suffer the same fate as our forebears if our audience doesn't like our stories!
  3. Nicola has come up with some great prompts for this week's Monday Muse, based on newspaper headlines, so get your thinking caps on.
  4. A reminder that November's challenge is Marit's competition, entitled 'Yesterday', or you can submit a work in progress.
  5. The NSSW Anthology is coming on apace, despite some last-minute formatting problems which have had Jo tearing her hair out, but hopefully those are sorted and we're on target to publish the e-book version in time for the week itself, starting on 22 November.  
  6. Yesterday's informal meeting was enlivened (if that's the word) by the news that Spruz is planning to charge to host the WA site. Further news on this to follow when we're clearer about implications.
  7. Next formal meeting will be on Sunday 21 November, 14h00 CET.

That's it, folks. Happy writing!


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