Articles Farticles – Relevant Information and How to Get It

When writing an article, you need to have the relevant information in order to, well, write it. But where can you get this information from?

You can get interviews: ask the person or persons a list of questions, note the answers, or things they say; if you’re lucky, you can use a dictaphone, but remember that transcribing can be a lot of work. Alternatively in an interview, you can set the person off talking and just record what they say. This can provide lots of material, but you might not get the exact answers you want.

Well, there’s interviews, online, books, in passing (eg talking to people), speeches, newspapers… Literally, everywhere. But with so much information it’s hard to condense it down into information that’s useful, and stuff that can be chucked away.

So, you have all of the information. Now, imagine you’re reading it. What do you want to know? Great! Now you know what to put it. Highlight the information you want to put in, write it in a new list, do whatever you have to do. Make sure you only put in the information you’d want to read; and, hopefully, it’d be the stuff that your readers will want to read.

Mad World [Short Story]

Mad World

Wordcount: 1391

Prompt: You wake up and find that you are not in your room where you went to sleep last night but you’re in a dark room that only has a clock. The clock is counting down from 24 hours. You then hear a voice over an intercom tell you that you have been selected to take part in a competition. You have 24 hours to complete 3 tasks or else you will suffer painful consequences. What happens?

Here’s a song that goes with this story. You don’t have to listen, of course, but I thought it would be nice. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa-ae6_okmg

~

Mad World

~

Esmerelda hated nightmares. Since she was 3, they had plagued her mind, terrifying her into staying awake. But when she’d started having a drink the doctor had given her, they’d dithered away until they’d vanished.

Still, nothing stays away forever. She breathed in the musky, damp smell of the floor, grit rubbing underneath her fingernails. Sitting up, she tugged down her nightie. Strange. The dream seemed awfully real. Continue reading

Hullo

Hello everyone! Sorry for the late update – I got sidetracked by ‘Inside Out’ on TV. Ahem.

Me 

I survived Sheffield. I survived the week. But. Something AMAZING happened on Tuesday, 16th September 2014.

Can you guess?

Have you guessed YET?!

Okay, I give up because I’M TOO EXCITED AND HAVE TO TELL YOU:

I FINISHED TOAST!

Yes, the script that started in July has FINALLY been completed! My first ever film script! I’ve done it! I even shed a little tear as I wrote ‘the end’.

But, that’s where the easy bit ends. I still have to edit. I’m going to finish my novella, An Icy Collisionfirst, then I’ll get back onto editing. :) I already miss my characters!

The Blog

Everything normal, I think, this week, but now we have the readdition of the Weekly Wednesday Challenge! :D

Hope you all have a great week guys <3

The Naked Storyteller by Laura Michelle Thomas

The Naked Storyteller

The Naked Storyteller was the first novel I read on my Kindle. Baring in mind that I’ve had it since, ooh, 2011, it needed quite a book to get me reading. Thank God this came along. In a very cliché manner, right from page 1 I was hooked.

The protagonist, grumpy, overweight, life-hating Harry Tyke, ‘lovingly’ nicknamed ‘Beast’ by his students, isn’t perhaps the most obvious candidate for this role. In fact, he’s the least obvious. But Harry has one thing that means he is suited: his character wants to change.

Harry Tyke is on the verge of a mid-life crisis. Living in a house he doesn’t want, doing a job he doesn’t like and teaching rude, arrogant, screen-addicted kids, there’s more that can be changed than can’t be. Cue Olga: a sexy, teacher-turned-storyteller, with her workshop ‘The Naked Storyteller’. Dragged along by his friend, the charming James, Harry’s world suddenly erupts with passion, stories and red high heels.

Aside from Harry, as soon as he appeared on the page, I fell in love with his ‘sidekick’, James. Charming, clever and caring, he helped Harry throughout the novel, even providing life-changing comments which caused Harry to do drastic things. But James wasn’t the only one who was helped – on a trip to see Harry abroad, James meets…ah, but that’d be telling!

Olga, with her red, shiny heels, is the obvious love-interest. She’s the one who starts off the whole naked storytelling malarky, and, although I liked the concept of her, the actual character annoyed me. I found her whiny, and too quick to cry. Don’t get me wrong, everything else about her was great – the ideas she came up with, the acceptance in her heart – but she seemed to cry rather a lot. However, I liked how Thomas showed Harry’s different personalities with Olga and James; character development, eh?

Going back to the naked storytelling thing, I absolutely love the idea. I have never heard of it before, and I wish I had teachers like Harry who would do that for their students (hell, I wish I had FRIENDS who would do that with me!). It seems like such a fun, free thing to do; probably something every person should do at least once in their lifetime.

During the course of The Naked Storyteller, Thomas raises some important issues – for example, the fact that, in increasing numbers, kids and adults alike are becoming screen-obsessed. Even as I write this longhand, I check my phone for the time instead of the clock to my left. Although she pokes fun at the problems arisen – such as teacher strikes – Thomas does it in such a gentle, comedic way, you really can’t negatively criticise it. Furthermore, she offers solutions to the problems – the storytelling for example –and you can’t help but agree.

The essence of this book is to not give up on your dream, and the fact that it’s never too late to try. With so many people these days working in jobs they hate, this message is so important. Have you ever hauled yourself out of bed in the morning, glaring at your sleep-deprived reflection, dragging your feet into work, grunting instead of offering the usual, human response? Perhaps this book is for you.

Aside from the issues raised and characters, Thomas’ writing style is addictive and very moreish. The story is told in such a way that you forget you’re reading and begin to live it. Let me put this into perspective: I’ve been stuck on one book for a month, and The Naked Storyteller took me 4 days to read. 4. Days. I honestly struggled to put it down and am now writing this with very tired eyes. I even took it to my mum’s birthday lunch (don’t worry, I didn’t read it at the table!).

In conclusion? I absolutely completely and utterly recommend this book. And if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and buy myself a sledgehammer.

Read more book reviews here

Articles Farticles – Structure and Presentation

Articles, interviews, features. We see them every day, be it in a newspaper, magazine or online. But how do you write them? Well, in this four-parter (the next in the coming weeks) I’m going to tell you.

First up: structure and presentation.

Your audience want to see a nice looking article. If it’s completely out of order and they’re unable to understand what the Jolly Roger is going on, they’re not going to read it, not going to pass it on, and they’ll probably give you a bad comment if it’s online. Presentation is what they look for: paragraphing, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and if you have pictures make them pretty.

Speaking of pictures; if you are going to use any, make them relevant to what you’re writing about. Don’t do what I do and include pictures of spoof L’Oreal adverts where they’re not wanted (unless you’re writing for BuzzFeed. In which case, they probably are wanted).

Let’s face it, though: Orlando Bloom is GORGEOUS.

Moreover, don’t fill your article with random bits of odd-looking text. It’ll turn your audience off. Often, in news articles, text is only bolded if it’s a date, a name or an important fact. I’m not saying there are rules to this, but just make sure you don’t go completely overboard, you know, emphasising every bit of unnecessary text.

Now, to structure. This article has a structure: I’m doing presentation then moving onto the next bit. Notice how I haven’t fitted in parts about structure into the presentation bit, and I won’t do it the other way around.

Articles aren’t necessarily completely chronological (the events are written about in the order they happened in) but they have to have some structure. If it’s easier, you can use subheadings or bullet points. You may be writing about an event that happened in 2014, but something important that happened in 2002 needs to be mentioned. You don’t need to start with the 2002 bit (unless that’s where it needs to go) but make sure that it’s not jammed in when you’re talking about another important thing that happened in 2013, for example.

A reader also needs to be able to follow the structure. Don’t skip to far ahead so that they lose track, and don’t jump around too much between dates and events. Have it run smoothly, and their reading will go smoothly.

Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule; if your article calls for it, jam that piece of 2002 information into the 2013 section, go wild and bold and italic random sections (if you’re a real hardcore, you can even go for underlining!). I’m not the perfect journalist (yet, anyway!). I’m just an amateur who enjoys writing articles and (perhaps) helping other people with my random pieces of advice.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D

Others:

  • Relevant Information and How to Get It
  • Where To Send Your Article/Pitching
  • Dos and Don’ts for Article Writing

g gtfgh

As you may be able to tell from the title, that’s the kind of week I’ve had/am having. Yeah. Sorry ’bout that.

Me

College isn’t terrible, just tiring. But tiring takes a lot out of you so y’know.

My novella is coming along pretty well – I’m currently on 6000+ words and hope to write more tonight!

I’ve starting running! Yes, that strange ‘sport’. I only run 4 days a week though – on those days, I work on my novella, and when I’m not running I’ll work on my script. Simple way to get them both done at the same time, really!

Homework is stressful – I spent four hours on English yesterday. Four. Hours. On one piece. History took me 3! *le gasp* *le faint*

Other than that, yeah. I’m alive. I’m going to Sheffield (about 4 hours in the car from my home) to visit my grandparents’ grave, so I won’t be able to respond to messages/comments until late Saturday or Sunday. Just so ya know. :)

The Blog

I’m really sorry about the lack of a book review on Sunday. Truth is, I hadn’t actually read fast enough to write a review…

BUT fear not! For I have finished a book today, and the review will be up by Sunday (spoilers: It’s The Naked Storyteller by Laura Michelle Thomas. Fabulous read but only available on Kindle (I think)).

Other than that, everything should be as per normal… :)

Adios amigos!

D’aww <3

Dammit Procrastination!

Ugh, I hate it when you’re avoiding doing what you want to be doing. Right?

First of all, procrastination makes no sense. Sure, if it’s something you don’t want to be doing, I understand. But I want to be writing; I want to tell my character’s stories. So why can’t I – and why can’t you?

  • Can’t be arsed. Basically, what it says on the tin. When you’ve had a long day, and you just don’t want to.
  • Written yourself into a plot hole. Those little plot bunnies burrow their way into your work and then undermine all your lovely plans. They’re terrible, I know.
  • Something else is distracting you. A looming deadline, screaming kids, the moon being too bright. The usual.
  • You don’t want to do it. Is it an article that you’ve been putting off because the subject makes you yawn?
  • The deadline is looming. Funnily enough, I work brilliantly under pressure – just ask my GCSE grades. But some people – most people, probably – don’t. Like, at all. And when a deadline is coming up, especially if you know this could make or break your career, it just seems to oddly give you more of a reason to avoid it.

Procrastination affects most people in their lives. Be it for a college application, picking the kids up from school (writing, kids, writing, kids…) or even going to bed, it’s there.

So, what can you do about procrastination?

  • Make yourself be bothered. I normally devise a punishment for myself if I don’t do it. I want to lose weight this year, and if I don’t hit my goal, I’m having a cold shower. May I remind you that by this time it will be December and our house freezes.
  • Look back over stuff you’ve written, and see if you can figure yourself out of what ever hole you’ve written yourself into. Maybe you forgot something and it made you take a completely different path to the one you had thought out. Sure, it may mean you have a rewrite a lot of it, but it’s better than finishing and your manuscript being a mess.
  • Get rid of distractions. Some people tidy their rooms if their procrastinating. Tidy them before you try to start work. Hell, lock yourself in a box (without WiFi, phones or a book) and make yourself write.
  • If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it (NOTE: this doesn’t apply to homework). Also note that this applies only if you don’t need the money… That article you don’t want to do? Don’t do it! If you have to, then yes, by all means, do it. But if you really really don’t want to do it, it’s making you miserable and you just can’t even bare thinking about it…don’t do it.
  • If you can, move the deadline to a later period. If you can’t, get your butt into gear. Sometimes, you just have to give up and do it. I want to start writing in 10 minutes, working on my novella – hence, I’ve got my butt into gear and written this article!

Remember, writing is supposed to be fun. Have fun with doing it. If it’s making you unhappy, get yourself another hobby (if it’s your job, find a new job!).

But just because I’ve said that doesn’t mean that some days you just don’t want to write. And that’s okay.

Procrastination is basically just an annoying kitten that won’t leave you alone. Sometimes you just have to give it some attention and play along before it goes off to sleep.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D 

PS Sorry this post may be a bit scattered. I’m tired, all right?! :P

College

Hello all! Apologies for not posting yesterday. I started college and the ending of the day wasn’t exactly as I had hoped, but there you go.

Me

As I just said, I’m at college now (studying English lit&lang, Classical Civilisations, Late History and Psychology, if you were interested). It’s harder than I expected, but still pretty fun.

Also, I got new glasses at the weekend and they keep slipping off my nose and IT’S REALLY ANNOYING. Grr.

Me right now

The Blog

Normal Friday and Sunday posts…. I don’t know if there’ll be a Wednesday post. I could do an extract of my latest thingy I’m working on? Maybe? Maybe not?

I don’t know.

Also, I’ve just added a new category called ‘characterisation’. You can find it underneath ‘writing advice’ on the left hand side when you go onto my main blog page. So when those characters are being irritating and you want nothing more than to shove their head down a toilet and push the button, it’s somewhere to go!

Have a nice week, guys! :) 

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

True History of the Kelly Gang

It took me three weeks to read this book. Three long weeks, and I read most it in the final three days when my deadline was coming up to it.

True History of the Kelly Gang tells the story of Ned Kelly, the notorious Australian outlaw, and his ‘gang’. Told in the voice of Ned Kelly, it chronicles his life from 3 years of age until his death. Carey ‘wildly and passionately’ brings this bushranger to life.

Let me get one thing straight. This book uses two pieces of punctuation: full stops and capital letters. Aside from in articles that have been ‘stuck in’, when they use commas.

Reading this book was like breathing in a small, dusty cupboard with no lights. I felt kinda like Harry Potter to be honest. Imagine taking a huge breath, then reading as much as you can without pausing. When you’re reading, you’re mainly breathing normally, but it still feels quite claustrophobic. That was something I really didn’t like about the book.

However, the actually book had good content, was engaging and the descriptions are incredibly vivid.

I don’t know much about Ned Kelly. I’ve heard of him of course, I knew he was Australian, but that was about it. Think Ned Kelly’s a bad guy? Believe this book and you’ll think again.

Told in 13 ‘parcels’ (which are basically just really big chapters), it’s not very easy to read one ‘parcel’ a night. The best way to read this book is in short, sharp blasts – but don’t leave too many gaps between each one, or you’ll be reading forever.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in the Kelly gang (duh), history or just action. It is a good read; but I wish it could have been shorter. And if you’re even more curious about the Kelly gang after reading, check the acknowledgements section: it lists some great books.

Strip Off!

keep-calm-and-strip-off-not-literally

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to walk around naked. And, I’m assuming, neither do your characters.

Characters need clothes (duh). But not all characters dress the same.

Let’s take a historical period – Tudors. Women would wear long dresses, platform shoes if they were out, and often something on their head, like a bonnet or headdress. Men would wear big hats, long coats, shirts and those funny poofy trousers.

But that’s not all. There were jesters (I’m sure you all know what they look like), peasants in cloths and children would often just wear one full dress, especially if they were babies.

Nowadays, there’s a whole array of fashion. Crop tops, jumpers, jackets, t-shirts, long shirts, three-quarter length shirts, shirts with collars, button up shirts, pull over shirts. And that’s just tops.

You have shoes to think about, trousers (or ‘pants’ as Americans like to call them – actually, speaking of pants, you have underwear as well! Are your characters thong people?(!)), head wear, like a motorbike helmet, glasses, scarves, bags…

So when you dress your characters, keep in mind that they don’t all wear the same. One character might be a ‘chav’ – wear jogging bottoms, hooped earrings, cropped t-shirts. Another might be a more casual dresser, and wear jeans, a t-shirt and trainers. Another might be a cosplayer – seriously, imagine how much fun you’d have with that!

Even in historical contexts, not all characters dress the same. They might wear a different colour, have a headband whereas another does not, or have a different trim of lace.

The biggest difference between character’s wear is men and women – traditionally, the trousers vs. dress argument. Keep this in mind when you’re writing. If you’re going for a Mulan-like story, sure, your female character can wear trousers. But, more often than not, this wouldn’t happen. If you’re going for a real-life example, the only crime Joan of Arc was convicted of was wearing men’s clothing.

People don’t wear the same, so characters don’t either. In the novella I’m writing at the moment, one of my characters is going through a phase of wearing long, Lord of the Rings style dresses. Another just wears jeans and a t-shirt. Another likes shirts with collars. Another likes darker coloured clothing.

So mix-and-match with your characters clothing, and make them stand out.

More importantly, make them real.

Top tip: use a website like Doll Divine to have fun at creating different outfits. Sure, it seems childish, but it’s actually strangely addictive…

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D