Blog Entries
Plot or Free Flow?
Category: Writing
Tags: writing plotting short stories novels

Something I’ve been giving some thought to recently is whether you should plot out your writing – whether it be short stories or novels – or whether you should just start and see where you end up.

When I first started writing, I had plenty of ideas. I would start and then get stuck and eventually abort. I still have files and files of half (or quarter) written stories. To help myself with this I set myself the challenge to write a piece of flash fiction every day for a year. I can’t say that I wrote 365 finished pieces, but I certainly got much better at being able to reach an end. I’ve heard some people say that even if you don’t know how the story is going to go, you should at least have an ending in mind; something you’re working towards.

For flash fiction it’s probably not even possible to plot out your story. But how about for longer pieces? Barbara Dynes in Masterclasses in Creative Writing says “[t]he amount of obstacles and complications you add to your initial idea depends on the length and tone of your story.” (p.11) This is her suggestion for a 2,000 word story: Problem, Obstacle 1, Obstacle 2, Obstacle 3, Crisis, Climax (pg.11). I’ve tried plotting out stories like this, but don’t find they flow particularly well when I write them. This may just be because 2,000 words is not a good length for me, or maybe it’s because plotting doesn’t work for me.

I’ve recently finished the first draft of my first novel. I didn’t plot anything. I knew the beginning and I had a rough idea of the ending and I wrote a couple of pages per day until it was finished. It will take a lot of editing, but is that any different to a plotter’s first draft? The 90-day novel, written by Alan Watt, is based around there being a story structure for the novel, which “can be applied to any story, from the most ‘traditionally structured’ to the most esoteric piece of writing” (pg. 285).

I know every writer needs to find his or her own way, but my question is: have you changed the way you write in the time that you’ve been writing? How? And why?

This Week - Monday 16th October 2017
Category: Site News
Tags: Blog Monday Muse

I’m going to pretend (please play along) that the reason “This Week” is up so late is because I wanted to wait for the blog/muses to be published first. The real reason is obviously that I forgot. Apologies to you all.

Well and truly on the Bragging Stool this week is Alyson who was not only Highly Commended with ‘Left Behind’ in the Morgen Freeman monthly comp, but also won the Mags4Dorset short story competition. And, if that wasn’t enough, her crime story ‘Sweet Revenge’ made it onto Writing Magazine’s short list. Congratulations!

Adhocers this week are Sue (on page one!), Angela, Chris, Maggie and myself.  

Monday Muse

Nicola has provided some scary muses for us this week. Here they are:

  1. You’re driving on a country road. It is late at night. You are far from home. You realize, as you check your mirrors, there is a man hiding on the floor of your back seat.
  2. You are falling. The 737 is 100 meters above you. You hear the rush of the wind, and it’s so cold. You realize you are still holding your…
  3. Something in the closet was making a strange noise, so I opened the door and…
  4. Write a story or poem that includes a church, a pumpkin and a black cat.
  5. Write a story or poem that takes place on a mortuary late at night


Jill has written a very interesting blog about what age people are when they start writing. I often think that I wish I’d started earlier, but I also think that you bring a lot more to your writing when you have experienced life a little. I’m sure it’s different for different people. Certainly interesting to think about whether your age affects your output.

October Challenges and Opportunities

Jill and I have pieces up in this section, but it’s certainly not too late to pen something for critiquing.

Meetings, etc.

The next Poetry Project (1) is scheduled for Friday October 27th 3pm.

The next Formal meeting is scheduled for Sunday October 29th with Sue in the chair.


Hope you all have a great, and productive, writing week! 

Why Do We Read?
Category: Writing
Tags: Writing reading books

Stephen King says: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” No doubt this is excellent advice, but what exactly does he mean?

How much is ‘a lot’. I read every day and feel strange if I haven’t managed to read anything all day. Reading is such an ingrained habit that it feels akin to brushing my teeth. I nearly always read before going to bed, sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes only ten minutes depending on how tired I am. I used to read on my commute to work (and was always disappointed to note how many people were playing on their phones rather than reading on the underground). On average I read a book a week. Some people I know find this a lot, but I know of many others who read much more than I do.

And what should you read? Some people advise that you should read exclusively within your genre so that you get a feel for the pace, style, vocabulary, etc. Subconsciously you absorb aspects of others’ writing that will make yours better. Others say you should read as widely as possible, from Classics and literature to trashy novels and everything in between. This gives you a ‘bigger picture’ concept and you learn from other writers’ positives as well as negatives.

And what should you do with that book once you’ve finished reading it? I used to have a blog and write extensive book reviews for the book I’d read. This made me read more ‘actively’ as I was searching for quotes to use in my reviews and looking closely at style, sentence structure and vocabulary. I also used to find out information about the author. This was also very useful; it was always interesting to learn how many books the author had written and how his or her journey to publication had evolved. Now, because my time is more limited and I’m focussing on writing, I no longer write long reviews. I do, however, have a goodreads account and write short reviews for the books I’ve read. This still makes me think about the book and it’s good for fellow authors to have reviews online for their books.

The question I’d like to leave you with is this one: do you read solely for pleasure, or do you read more actively?  


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The House at Zaronza
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The Duke's Shadow
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Foreign & Far Away
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Losing Control
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Break Out
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Deadly Pursuit
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The Calling
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Big Book of New Short Horror
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