Free Writing Competition March

We asked you to write the next line of dialogue using this photo for inspiration. You had just 50 words. Congratulations go to Pauline Leech with her winning entry below:

Pizza Express? That’s a joke! What do you mean you can’t deliver until I’m back home? I’m having a picnic and I want pizza….now!

Pauline wins 3 months membership to the Creative Competitor Premier1 Membership.

Four Creative Writing Exercises You Can Start Right Now

By Mark H Peterson

1. Read every day.

This is popular advice for beginners, simply because it really helps. You should aim to read everything you come across. It doesn’t matter how obscure or how out of your usual genre it is – read it! Every single piece of writing is an opportunity to learn something. You will be exposing yourself to new methods, new styles and new vocabulary.

The modern age has provided us with a never-ending stream of reading material. It’s important that you never limit yourself to one category, and it would be stupid to do so with so much out there. There are blogs, journals, scripts, poems… Read wide and read plenty.

2. Write every day.

So now you’re reading every day, absorbing new information and gathering ideas. Great! We aren’t done yet though. Obviously, the best way to get better at something is to practise. Writing is a skill, and just like any other, it needs to be trained.

Establish a regime or pattern for yourself and stick to it. If you want to be a good writer then you need to be in the habit of doing it every single day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes per day to begin with, just do it.

3. Stop censoring yourself.

Even the best writers will tell you that the first draft always sucks. You must learn not to be so critical of what you’re writing just yet. Write first, edit later. It’s way too easy to hate your own work or become disheartened early on and give up. DON’T. You’re writing and this is an awesome thing!

Remember, you have nothing to gain from not writing. Transferring an idea from mind to paper is never easy, yet the process of vocalizing your thoughts is invaluable in creating concrete, solid writing.

4. Carry a notebook.

Give yourself as many opportunities to write as possible. I often hear the complaint “I don’t have time to write”. Nonsense! You love doing it right? You will find the time. Think about the percentage of your day spent waiting for something or someone… the kettle to boil, the bus to turn up, the computer to turn on. Well, there’s your time. Get out that notepad and get writing.

This isn’t the only thing going for it and I’m certain you’ll be surprised at how useful a notebook is. I find it invaluable simply for catching those fleeting ideas and phrases that pop into my head at the most inopportune moments throughout the day (and often night). I would hate myself if I didn’t have a notebook on hand to furiously scribble them down before they retreat into some dark corner of my mind.

In essence it’s very easy to summarize this article: Read wide, write plenty. These are the basics to getting better at writing. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Writing can be a very daunting task for the beginner, which is why I’ve created an entire website dedicated to posting the best   creative writing exercises and prompts. If you liked this article, I’m sure you’ll love it, so please stop by at: http://creativewritingexercises.org and let me know what you think.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Four-Creative-Writing-Exercises-You-Can-Start-Right-Now&id=6498603] Four Creative Writing Exercises You Can Start Right Now

Let Your Verbs Run Wild And Free

By Dara Lurie

I said this recently to a writer in a workshop reacting spontaneously to the wonderful story I could see trapped behind the bars of overly condensed description.

This kind of thing happens a lot. Rushing to make our point, we summarize and condense the life out of our stories. Instead of allowing our language to expand and transport us somewhere unexpected, we harness it for our predetermined goals. This approach works well for reports, memos and academic papers but not so well for literary writing.

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert Olen Butler, writes that:

Fiction is the art form of human yearning. That is absolutely essential to any work of fictional narrative art — a character who yearns. And that is not the same as a character who simply has problems….. that yearning is at the heart of all temporal art forms.

The same idea holds equally true for poetry, memoir and to a certain extent, the essay: the reader needs to connect at an intimate level with the driving force within the narrator. Otherwise, they won’t care.

Consider the author’s use of verbs & imagery in this excerpt from Janet Fitch’s “Oleander”

In the afternoon, the editor descended on the art room, dragging scarves of Oriental perfume that lingered in the air long after she was gone. A thin woman with overbright eyes and the nervous gestures of a frightened bird, Kit smiled too widely in her red lipstick as she darted here and there, looking at the design, examining pages, stopping to read type over my mother’s shoulder, and pointing out corrections. My mother flipped her hair back, a cat twitching before it clawed you.

“All that hair,” Kit said. “Isn’t it dangerous in your line of work? Around the waxer and all.” Her own hairstyle was geometric, dyed an inky black and shaved at the neck.

My mother ignored her, but let the X-acto fall so it impaled the desktop like a javelin.

Notice how the editor doesn’t walk into the room but ‘descended……..dragging scarves of Oriental perfume that lingered” She never walks, in fact, she ‘darts’ like a ‘frightened bird’ intruding on everyone’s space.

In contrast, the narrator’s mother ‘flipped her hair back, a cat twitching before it clawed you.’

Evocative use of verbs & image economically sets up the tension of this moment.

You won’t necessarily find the clearest, most potent language in the 1st or 2nd drafts of your piece though you probably will find a few jewels buried in the clutter of ideas. So where to start?

Read more at http://www.Transformative-Writing.com

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Let-Your-Verbs-Run-Wild-And-Free&id=6463495] Let Your Verbs Run Wild And Free

Twist in the Tale Winning Submission

Changes

 by Penny Carter 

Twenty years of marriage and this was the worst set of arguments that they had ever had. Not even the trials and tribulations of raising twins had caused them to fall out on this scale. Marilyn breathed in the familiar scent of her husband’s cologne, loving his silent form so much that it hurt. She had brought the cologne for him on his birthday a few months ago and now the evocative scent brought her memories rushing back. They had spent such a perfect day together, no children, just a peaceful day out on the river, splashing about as if they were young and carefree and not venturing into their 40’s. Who could have predicted that their love would be under such pressure just weeks later? His anger and hurt, resolute and firm from the moment she had told him her news.

 Marilyn couldn’t sleep. Butterflies danced in her stomach and she felt sick, more than sick, terrifed. She had made a mistake, the biggest mistake of her life probably.  Marilyn turned over, sliding her arm around the sleeping form of her husband, sighing as she realized that he had fallen asleep as far away from her as possible, and he lay facing the wall in preference to her.

The alarm clocked ticked away the minutes until the pale streaks of dawn stretched fingers of light across the sky and through their partially drawn curtains.

Marilyn slipped out of bed, throwing her silk dressing gown around her ample frame. She needed coffee, hoping that the caffeine would filter energy into her tired body. Nursing the hot cup and sipping the strong black liquid, she considered her options, not relishing any of the suggestions that popped into her mind. She had never been one to quit but now….she would do anything to turn the clock back and to avoid making the decision that was threatening to tear her life apart. Perhaps she should apologize to Malc, say that it wasn’t worth falling out and it was just a silly, silly mistake and that she had changed her mind? Marilyn didn’t realize how long she had sat there with tear blurred eyes but she was suddenly aware that she wasn’t alone, she glanced hopefully in Malc’s direction but he was intent on making his own coffee, ignoring her as if she was no longer a part of his life. His grey eyes were remote and showed his disdain for her actions.

Marilyn walked away to get ready for work. It seemed Malc had made the decision for her, he didn’t want her and she couldn’t afford to lose everything. Fortunately, make-up held the power to dim the shadows under her eyes and to reduce the sleep deprived strain away from her features but this wasn’t how she had imagined looking and feeling.

Her arrival at the office caused a stir and she hardened her resolve to paste a confident expression on her face when every little step only increased her sense of dread. She hadn’t realized just how long the walk was through the open plan office and it seemed as if everyone was there witnessing her journey through the plush suites towards the office where no doubt a confrontation awaited her.

Swallowing her sense of dread, she re-played the years of study that she had endured to reach this moment in her career, months of juggling home-life with study, caring for their children and forcing herself to push her work to an ever higher academic level that had kept her active brain from turning to mush.

Finally, she entered her own office, the brass plaque on the door ‘Marilyn Walters – MD’ on the door silently mocking. The office led to an outer reception where her PA’s worked, she knew one but not the other and still hoped she would receive support of sorts in these early stages, Marilyn wasn’t sure she could cope with this role if she was truly alone. All those years of study hadn’t prepared her for the sense of isolation she felt right at this moment and any feelings of achievement were marred by the tattered remnants of her marital situation.

Sighing, she noticed a large bouquet of flowers lying on the desk, and reaching for a card, reading eagerly, tears welling up as she recognized the handwriting…

 

You have my support..as always..Good luck in your new role, boss!  Malc

Tears welled up in her eyes as she turned to look at the PA’s desk, absorbing the look of love emanating from her husband who was big enough to welcome her into his work environment as his boss and yet, who would still be there to support her in this brand new role after all.
 

Writing Tip of the Week 6

Timed Writing

If you struggle to fit writing into your busy schedule, don’t let all that creativity go to waste, plan some ‘timed writing’ into a spare  ten minute window in your day and write profusely for the full ten minutes.

You can give yourself a set theme to write about or use your surroundings for inspiration. The objective is to just write freely for the designated time period and keep the creative process oiled.

Writing Tip of the Week 4

‘Points of View’ can be difficult for a writer, but quite simply, it is about looking through someone else’s eyes and capturing their thoughts, feelings, dialogue and expressing this to the reader but here is a quick project to help you out:

Think of an argument or disagreement that you will have had with someone close to you, recall how you felt at that time. Write down the article but from your own point of view, this should not be too difficult because your own emotions were involved.

Once you have finished this, write the same argument but from the other person’s point of view so that you try to capture how they would have been feeling. Try to understand their frustration at getting their point across to you. You can use dialogue and descriptive writing, but make the words flow naturally.

Going on Holiday? Write Travel Blogs

 
It’s human nature for people to share in the experiences of others and that’s why travel blogs are so popular.  Not everyone can afford to travel to exotic locations certainly on a regular basis so why not marvel at the experiences of those who do travel across the globe and who are willing to put pen to paper and share their adventures. I’m probably not the most well-travelled person although I hope to change that, so getting a feel for an area through the simple perspective  of another is quite frankly appealing. I have stayed in hotels and locations that are  in direct contradiction to the glossy travel agency publications and so to hear a firsthand account of a particular area is much more interesting as it denotes the human angle and not a sales one.
 
For example, I had a chance encounter with an old friend the other day and he regaled numerous stories and anecdotes about areas that I had often thought about going to, his truthful and yet enthusiastic approach to travel made me wish that I had travelled more and witnessed the same scenes as he for myself.
 
If you are going on holiday and enjoy writing, then seriously consider putting your skills to good use and sharing your stories with the rest of the world. Not only is writing a blog strangely therapeutic (dear diary syndrome) but it captures your thoughts and feelings and memories of your trip forever.  Writing a blog post is not difficult and if you haven’t already established a web presence as a writer, it really is time to do so.
 
When planning your holiday, research the area thoroughly because planning in advance will help you to see beyond the main tourist areas (unless of course that’s exactly what you want from your holiday) if you are prepared to be a little adventurous, going off the beaten track and mixing with the locals, will afford you a much greater opportunity to see the location from a more human and realistic perspective. Whilst you are enjoying yourself, allow one part of your brain to stay analytical and remember to make  notes and take photos too. Whatever your thoughts and feelings of the place, be honest when writing your travel blogs,allow your personality to shine through and connect with the reader, that’s what makes writing  travel blogs so much fun because it’s a universal connection as we all go on holidays and sharing the experience will allow you to reach out and connect with others on a worldwide scale.

Writing a fantasy story? Free your inner child

I don’t know about you but the thought of writing a fantasy story is quite appealing, it isn’t a genre that I have dabbled in much but I can imagine that it conjures up a sense of freedom in a creative sense.

After all, there are so many rules and techniques associated with any type of writing that it must be good to allow your imagination to have free rein and to explore areas of creativity that previously may have never been utilised. Fantasy stories means conjuring up not just the basic storyline but being able to create, expand and build a fantastical world around the central characters.

For a writer, it is like an explosion of creative colour as you paint a descriptive picture of the environment you have dreamed up and you can hook your reader by stretching their imaginations to new bounds.
Gone are the usual limitations of reality.

As adults, we strive to do things the right way, to live by the rules, to abide by laws. How exciting then that a whole new world may be awaiting borne out of our own imaginations and accessed simply by flicking that creative switch so that we can step right into this new realm in the blink of an eye.

I believe that even when writing a fantasy story, there must be elements of realism in place –think of the success of the Harry Potter books. The main characters experience every range of emotion possible throughout the myriad of danger and evil and the reader experiences those emotions too . Whatever characters you decide to create, allow the reader to connect with them even if on a subtle level and they will hang on to every word.

If writing a fantasy story is on your to-do list, then enjoy releasing your inner child and create a world that is magical, mystical and inspiring, I know I’m going to….

Writing – It Can Seriously Take Over Your Life

If like me, you are passionate about your writing and you think about it constantly, your brain can be on constant buzz alert and as a result, it can be hard to switch that level of creativity off.

I have heard some people say that writing should not consume too big a part of your life but how can it not when you  have trained your brain to recognise creative opportunities as they occur? My brain literally digests snippets of conversations that can be used to improve dialogue, it absorbs events as they occur around me and if I start people watching, I get an influx of possibilities through body language, movement and facial expressions. As fiction echoes life, I get masses of ideas on a daily basis and ok, sometimes too many for me to be able to focus on.

I personally think that if writing forms an integral part of your own make-up, then why fight it? For example, I am going to visit family in France in about three weeks time and although I am going with a friend, I have warned her that I will be taking my laptop with me (she did pull a face but knows me so well that it was pretty much a given)and I know that I will have to do some writing over there as I can’t imagine not doing any for a week. Think of the withdrawal symptoms! I love fiction but lately have had to spend a large amount of time writing articles but know equally that there will be so many potential non-fiction ideas whilst over there and who knows, I may even do some travel writing as a result.

Whilst writing may seem like some sort of addiction to the non-creative, it brings an innate feeling of relaxation too and a way of escaping the sometimes doom and gloom of reality even for a little while and writing generates so many opportunities to stretch yourself in new creative areas. What other profession offers so much variety?  I could be writing a travel article in the morning whilst sat admiring stunning views of the Pyrenees, dream up ideas for short stories whilst sipping coffee in a cafe at lunch time and may curl up in the evening whilst planning my next ebook –aided by a large glass of wine of course.

I love the fluidity of the writing life and if writing has taken over my life, I say, bring it on.

What about you?