Writing Advice

Learn how to write fiction and non-fiction and earn money as a freelance writer

What you need to be a good writer

I visited a junior school recently and, while I was there, I came across this amusing definition of what you need to be a good writer (see above). To be...

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Cultivate your skills of observation

On my journey back from a recent holiday in wonderful Lake Garda in Italy, I pondered on the best way for writers to make the most of their travel experiences. When I went away, I was determined to take a pr...

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Is a simultaneous submission OK?

I recommend that short story authors write according to the editor's requirements after they have researched the markets. But some writers want to be able to maximise their chances by targeting a few publications in the same market. However, whilst some magazines within ...

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Do characters have to change in a positive way?

In one of my online courses, I advise students that: 'The character must succeed or fail through his or her OWN efforts and, as a result of that effort, grow or change in a positive way.' One of my students contacted me recently to ask whether it is enough that the character changes...

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How do you know if your story is any good?

Recognising whether your story works well is something that comes with practice. It’s not always easy to analyse and critically dissect a story that you have painstakingly put together. However, if you can learn to become your own harshest critic, you will soon discover how to improve...

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How to begin your ending

January is a time for new beginnings, but I’m going to buck the trend and talk about endings. How to end your stories that is. One of my online students recently asked me to elaborate on something I’d talked about in my short story writing course. In one of the lessons,...

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The pros and cons of writing competitions

Have you noticed that more and more writing competitions are offering huge cash prizes these days? For example, The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award offers £30,000 to its winner, making it the rich...

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Make your writing dreams a reality

When I first started to write, I often felt overshadowed by the people I met at writing conferences or talked to in my critique group. They all seemed so experienced and successful: I felt inept and naïve in comparison. Perhaps those feelings were triggered by my la...

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A renaissance for the short story?

I’ve just finished reading this article on the telegraph.co.uk website that suggests that the short story form could be experiencing a renaissance. The ...

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Short story and novel: the differences

One of my students recently asked me about the difference between short story and novel writing, and I thought it would be a good subject for a post. In my opinion, there are many similarities, but there are differences too. I have written a novella (unpublished) and...

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