This is the greatest opportunity for publication you will ever have.
Welcome to Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest. This is going to be our biggest and best contest yet. In a small fee-based contest like this, the competition is much less and your chances of winning are much greater. Our fee is the price of a Starbucks’s cup of coffee and it helps subsidize our nonprofit charity contest, so invest in us and at the same time invest in yourself.
Publication: we will publish the first, second and third place winners, two honorable mentions, and ten additional Judge’s Pick stories in our fifth annual anthology, along with best-selling guest authors and stories written by Creative Writing Institute’s staff. Enjoy the competition. Join the fun!
Judge’s Pick: you may be asking what a “Judge’s Pick” story is. That is a story that impressed a judge so much that he/she nominated it for publication, even though it was not a winning entry. A very high commendation for the author!
* $150 and Gold eMedal OR a free, privately tutored writing course valued at $260
* $100 and Silver eMedal OR $200 applied toward a privately tutored writing course
* $50 and Bronze eMedal OR $125 applied toward a privately tutored writing course
Fourth and Fifth place:
* Honorable Mention eMedal
In addition, we will publish ten Judge’s Pick stories.
For the First Time — the Lucky Draw!
We would like to express our gratitude to Microsoft and TechSoup for donating a Norton AntiVirus Package for five computers, valid for one year. *The Norton Package will only open in the USA, but that’s fine. You have 15 other opportunities to win!
eMedals: You will love the classy eMedals. Make them any size you want. Post them on your site and on social media!
Revealing our Cover: for the first time, we are revealing our cover for the next anthology, which will be titled LOST. (You can see the enlarged picture at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.)
The theme sentence is below the picture. Be sure to use it in your story.
“I am completely and utterly lost.”
- Open genre
- One prize per person
- Entry fee: $5 per submission
- Submit each story individually
- Word limit is 1,500 to 2,000 words.
- Story may not have been published before.
- No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
- Your story must include this theme sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.”
- Winners agree to minor editing rights and will grant first, non-exclusive, electronic rights.
- All Rights return to the author upon publication.
- Accepting submissions until August 31, 2017, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
- Apply the theme sentence to an emotional state, a physical location, fighting illness, or any other application that comes to mind.
- Copy and paste your document into https://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/submit.
Do NOT send your submission as an email attachment. We will not open it. Direct questions to head judge Jianna Higgins, at email@example.com.
Get thirty short stories written by short story contest winners, invited best-selling writers, contest finalists, judges, CWI staff, and guests! The perfect gift for relatives, readers and writers. For a chance to win a FREE $10 Amazon gift card, share this ad on Facebook Dec. 6. Every time you share it, your name goes into a drawing. We will draw THREE winners at midnight Dec. 6, EST. Winners will be announced at www.CWInst.com. Get the new anthology, called EXPLAIN, at http://amzn.to/2gQiKCH.
Creative Writing Institute, at your service, meeting all your writing needs.
The only school where very student gets a private tutor!
Secrets of Winning a Writing Contest
by Bob Bruggemann
If you want to win a contest, the first thing you must do is follow the guidelines. Many submissions are disqualified because they don’t meet all the requirements. If the rules state a maximum of 1,000 words, a 1,025-word story, however brilliant, will hit the trash. (Do not include the title or byline in the word count.)
If the contest calls for G-rated material (which means no swearing, vulgarities, or erotica) and your entry contains just one swear word, it will be discarded. If you are in question as to whether a word will be considered a swear word, don’t use it or write to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask.
Assuming you follow the guidelines, the judges will look at the following four elements.
Some contests give you a theme, such as, “Wedding Day.” What’s the first story idea that comes to mind? Whatever it is, forget it. You can bet everyone else will have thought of it, too. A large percentage of submissions will be so similar that the competition will be fierce, but if you use an original angle, the judges will love it.
Don’t wrack your brain for an idea. Relax. Get your conscious, critical mind out of the way and allow ideas to bubble up from your subconscious. In other words, daydream.
Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, how, and ‘what if?’ Let your train of thought go where it will. Before long, you’ll have an idea for a unique story.
In short story contests, you’ll never wrong with the KISS method: (Keep It Simple, Sweetie.)
Don’t try to impress the judges with $3 words. Like any other reader, they want a story that is easy to read.
Every sentence must move the story forward. The reader doesn’t want flowery descriptions of a rose garden in the moonlight. He/she wants to know what the girl is doing there at two in the morning and what will happen next. Stick to the point.
A short story contest calls for three distinct parts: the beginning, middle, and end. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The beginning introduces the main character and the action and what the story is about. The middle develops the theme and keeps the reader hooked. The ending must be believable, resolve the problems, and leave the reader satisfied.
Above all, don’t overlook simple formatting rules.
- Make a new paragraph for every new speaker
· Single space your short story and indent paragraphs
· Run the spellchecker!
· Watch your punctuation
Last, but not least: write an original story specifically for the contest – but assuming you don’t follow that good advice, at least rewrite your story to fit the guidelines.
Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest is now in session and accepting entries until September 15, 2016. This is a small contest and your chances of winning are good. Invest in yourself and get your entry ready! For details and submission instructions, visit http://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/.
Prizes: First prize is $100, a first place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.
Second prize is $50, a second place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.
Third place is $25, a third place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.
*We will also recognize honorable mentions and several “Judge’s Picks,” which means the story didn’t place, but at least one judge really liked it and it will be published in our anthology. Judge’s Pick winners will receive a Judge’s Pick ribbon.
Above all, have fun! Hey! Wait a minute! “Like” us before you go, will you?
See guidelines at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.
First, second and third place winners and seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our fourth annual anthology. In addition, we are giving cash prizes and professionally designed eMedals to post on your site. (See medals below.)
First place: Professionally designed Gold eMedal and $100, plus publication
Second place: Striking Silver eMedal and $50, plus publication
Third place: Brilliant Bronze eMedal and $25, plus publication
Fourth and Fifth place: Finalist eMedal and publication
This is a themed contest and this exact sentence must appear in the story:
“Explain how that happened.”
- Your story must be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
- No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
- Your story must not have been published before. Winners grant minor editing rights for publication; Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Pick stories in our anthology. All Rights return to the author upon publication.
- ONE submission per person, please.
- Accepting submissions from July 15, 2016, until September 15, 2016, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
- Entries will only be accepted through the form at https://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/submit.
- As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document. Do NOT email attachments.
- Entry fee $5.
Sign up for The Writer’s Choice newsletter to receive articles that teach you how to win contests. Top right corner of http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.
Last week we talked about asyndeton – a method of listing items without using a conjunction for the purpose of showing more by saying less – and the week before was onomotoepia.
Today we will study polysyndeton, which is diametrically opposed to asyndeton. Polysyndeton is the repeated use of conjunctions for the purpose of intensifying the scene, building the excitement and indicating (like asyndeton) an endless and innumerable list.
Our thanks to Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers for this example. This quote comes from Charlotte’s Web where a rat is telling Wilbur the pig, in no uncertain terms, what he expects.
“Struggle if you must,” said Templeton, “but kindly remember that I’m hiding down here in this crate and I don’t want to be stepped on, or kicked in the face, or pummeled, or crushed in any way, or squashed, or buffeted about, or bruised, or lacerated or scarred, or biffed.”
Do you think Templeton made himself clear? And how did he do that? He drove the point home by using the repetitious ‘or.’ You will find a lot of this in children’s books. If you will listen to children talk, they use a lot of polysndeton when they talk:
“Mommy, I want ice cream, and chocolate, and nuts, and whipped cream.”
Do you see how these examples build the scene by intensifying repetition? This is a simple technique, but don’t discount its importance.
P.S. Did you notice this example uses antiquated language? Writing styles are always morphing and wise is the writer who morphs with them. Today’s writer would have written “Templeton said” instead of “said Templeton.”
Write three sentences using ASYNDETON and three more sentences using POLYSYNDETON. Send them to DeborahOwen@CWinst.com. Memorize these words and know what they mean.
See http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com for all your writing needs. Sign up for our newsletter, The Writer’s Choice, on the front page, top right corner.
Writers have developed innumerable techniques to nail their reader’s eyes to the page, and one of those secret weapons is called asyndeton. However, there is nothing new under the sun. We have simply learned how to describe what we do and have tagged it with a name. These techniques have been around since Adam and Eve told stories to Cain and Abel.
Asyndeton means disjointed and unconnected. In literature, it is the art of stringing a list of clauses together without the use of conjunctions. Doesn’t sound that exciting, does it? But wait until you see the examples!
From Double Indemnity: Why, they’ve got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by color, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poisons, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth.
Writers aren’t the only ones who use this effectively. Orators and statesmen use it, too.
Julius Caesar said, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Sir Winston Churchill used it in 1940 in the address known as “We shall fight on the beaches:”
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
And John F. Kennedy used it: “…that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Now it’s your turn. For hard core impact with a dramatic effect, try asyndeton!
For more great writing tips, subscribe to The Writer’s Choice (top right corner) at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com, the writing school that supplies every student with a private tutor!
Don’t Read This
You Might Learn Something
by Deborah Owen
If you are a writer, it means you have courage! Every time you write, you’re revealing your deepest innermost feelings and attitude toward life. Not only that, you’re risking public judgment. Anyone who can face those odds can go the rest of the way and be published, but publication isn’t the end of your learning experience. It’s just the beginning.
Everything in life is a story that needs to be told. You still carry that small notebook, don’t you? The one you used to tell about the deer carcass on the road, the flashing ambulance and fire truck on their way to a wreck, the motorcycle club that held you up forever at an intersection, and the idiot with road rage. All of these are bits of a story yet to be told. Note them.
Learn from your “failed stories.” You know. The ones that didn’t sell. There is something to be learned from all of them. Reread them and ask yourself what is wrong with them. Are they wordy? Did you write yourself into a corner? Too many characters for the length of your story? (Two main characters and one or two more for flavor is all a 2,000 word story will comfortably hold.) Did your characters lack development? Did you force them to do something that went against their grain? Did you describe them so the reader could identify with them? Were your scenes in chronological order? Did you have enough conflict? Did the plot climax at least 2/3 of the way through? Did the middle sag? Spice those old stories up with alliteration, asyndeton, polysyndeton, similes, idioms, metaphors, and other advanced techniques. Don’t know what they are? Stay tuned. That’s what we’re going to study next.
When you hit a dead end, ask yourself two questions: what is the message of my story? How can I complicate the plot?
Don’t let your characters take the reins and write their own story. They will lead you places you don’t want to go. When that happens, stop and recapitulate. Roughly re-outline the story (you DID make an outline… right?) and follow it.
Remember your early writing days when you tried to decide whether ‘this sentence’ should go in ‘this’ paragraph or the next one? When you looked up the rules for ‘laying and lying,’ ‘further and farther,’ ellipses, quotations, italics, etc.? Remember your first story? Your first publication? Remember thinking how you would like to go to school, but it cost over $400 for a six-week course?
Now you can take that course. Creative Writing Institute offers eight-week courses with a private tutor for only $260. No money? We have a payment plan with no interest. And… well… we would do your homework for you, too, but it would be best if you put forth a little effort. 🙂
by Mr. E. Lynn Carroll, Creative Writing Institute Tutor
My assignment was to write about unique ways to say “I Love You” on Valentine’s Day. I looked, I Googled, I read, and I researched and what I found sounded so off the wall that I decided to just tell you what I do. If your beloved isn’t satisfied with the traditional gifting, try my simple solution.
I used to give my wife flowers on her birthday and being the practical, sensible Asian she is, she said, “Why you spend money on something I cannot eat, spend, or wear? These will die in a few days. You have foolishly wasted your money.”
Devastated, I determined to do better for Christmas, so I spent a lot of money on a nice winter coat. When she opened the present, she seemed happy. She never wore the coat. When I asked her why, being the practical, sensible Asian she is, she said, “It’s nice, but not something I would have bought.”
Doubly devastated, I gave up buying her anything for holidays, and being a stoic Asian, she never mentioned it. Nevertheless, I love her and for years, instead of buying presents, I gave her money. Still, I was unhappy. How could I solve this problem?
Now, my mother, being the acquisitive, materialistic, loving Western woman she was, brought me up to put all women on a pedestal, which is why I ended up snagged on these horns of hell. I wanted to please my wife, but material things didn’t do the job.
One Valentine’s Day, years ago, I thought about a Valentine’s card and a heart-shaped box of chocolates, but I knew it wouldn’t do. Tormenting my brain, the only thing I could come up with harkened back to grade school where we passed little notes to the girls we had a crush on. Thus, a new idea.
I decided to leave little personal love notes all over the house. Simple stuff like, “I love you. How much? The whole wide world.” I posted notes inside the refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror, under her windshield wiper… everywhere I knew she would look.
She went to work before I did, but I knew she had seen them because they were gone. When I got home that night, she had my favorite dinner, candles lit, soft music, and the whole Shtick. Bingo!
Over the years, I’ve fancied the cards up a bit. I print and cut out pictures of cute animals, beautiful scenes gleaned from online pictures, pictures of ourselves in happy poses, and then glued them to green Christmas tree shapes or red Valentine’s hearts cut out from colored construction paper, accompanied by little messages from my heart. It seems like the cornier the better. 🙂
You’re a writer! Try adding a little old-fashioned ingenuity this Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t cost a lot, it’s fun, and the rewards are amazing!
*Check out http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com for all your writing needs. The school where every student receives a private tutor! We give free writing evaluations, too!
It takes courage to embrace a dream.
In order to succeed, your desire for success must be greater
than your fear of failure.
Success depends on your courage – not your circumstances.
U are in control of your own destiny.
Confidence is a necessity. If it isn’t real, fine. Fake it ’til you make it.
Creativity is key. Approach articles and stories with a unique angle.
Evaluate strengths and weaknesses. Refresher courses motivate.
Stop making excuses.
Simple planning will yield success in 2016.
- Have business cards made. They aren’t expensive, so pass them out freely and declare yourself to be a writer. People will expect you to live up to your proclamations.
- Don’t try to sell anything without having it professionally edited.
- Trying to succeed without the proper education is a good recipe for failure.
- Learning to write is one of the least expensive vocations you can pursue. Most people can learn the basics with three courses, taken within a year. What other vocation can you learn in less than a year for under $800?
Thank you for ‘liking’ our posts. Like everyone else, we need encouragement.
Count on http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com for all your writing needs. Personal tutors will guide you through the maze of writing rules step by step.
Creative Writing Institute’s Annual Short Story Contest
No Entry Fee
First place: a FREE writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260 USD.
Second place: $50 Amazon gift card or a credit of $150 USD toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260 USD.
Third place: $25 Amazon gift card or a credit of $100 USD toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260 USD.
*Plus, two honorable mentions and TEN additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our 2015 anthology and Ebook.
This is a themed contest and this exact sentence must appear in the story:
“I got more than I bargained for!”
We would like to encourage mystery stories, but the genre is open. (See http://www.cwinst.com/ for definitions and complete rules.)
- Story must be 1000 – 2000 words.
- No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
- Entry must not have been published before.
- ONE submission per person, please
- Accepting submissions internationally from July 15, 2015 until August 15, 2015, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
- All entries must be in English
SEE MORE DETAILS at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com
PERSISTENCE in WRITING
Persistence in writing DOES pay off! Win-win propositions pay off, too. Editors love the phrase “win-win,” which means you have a deal whereby both ends have something to gain. I remember the first time I used that term.
The American Legion’s upcoming 75th Anniversary Edition was in preparation and their national office was in my back door. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that soon enough and when I called to ask about a job, the kind editor, Mr. Greenwald, said he had filled all positions.
Somewhere on the path of life, I had heard not to take no for an answer so I called again the next day and said, “This is Deborah Owen again. I called yesterday to ask about a position… “ and the not so kind editor cut me off mid-sentence with, “As I said yesterday, I have no positions available. Thank you for calling.” *click
I didn’t sleep much that night. Instead, I laid in bed and devised a plan whereby Mr. Greenwald would have to hire me. By morning, I was ready. With a dry mouth, I called him a third time and literally read from a written script, faking a voice of bravado and excitement:
“Hello, Mr. Greenwald. This is Deborah Owen again. I understand you don’t have any openings, but I have a win-win proposition you won’t want to pass up. I’d like to treat you to lunch one day this week to discuss it.”
He tried every way in the world to finagle the proposition out of me, but I knew it would be good-bye for the last time if I told him, so I said, “It’s too complicated to discuss on the phone. You choose the time and place and I’ll tell you in person.” He hesitated. [Never get in a hurry when waiting for an answer.] But, sensing he was about to say no, I added, “I promise to be brief.”
I was beginning to feel like I had leprosy when he finally agreed.
We met at his office Friday and walked two blocks to the diner. All the way there he wanted to know about my proposition but I played for time. “For now, let’s just get to know each other.”
I asked how long he had been editor at The American Legion, where he worked before and what his goals were in life. I kept him talking about himself – which is always a great strategy. At the end of the meal he asked about the great win-win proposition. I knew it was now or never, so I waded in and tried to look confident and enthusiastic (best done with a smile on one’s face).
“I’m a published freelance writer but I have yet to work inside a magazine. I understand the importance of a deadline and I’m never late. I’m meticulous in researching, and I was once a secretary for five men so I have good office skills. I’m a touch typist and a quick learner. Here’s my proposition: I’ll work for you free of charge. I’ll research, write, edit, or sweep floors if you’ll just let me work on the 75th Edition with you. Teach me. I want to learn. I’ll be the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. No matter what job you give me, you can count on it being done well. Now if that’s not a win-win proposition, I don’t know what is.”
With a smile, he answered, “Let me give you some advice, Mrs. Owen. Never offer your services for nothing. Someone may think they aren’t worth anything, and everyone is worth something. I’ll see you Monday morning at 8 am… and I will pay you a salary. I met you because I was curious, and I hired you because you were persistent. Persistence is a good quality. You’ll intern directly beneath me and you can have the desk right outside my office.”
I earned over $400 as I researched original WWI history and drafted 37 articles. No other job taught me so much in such a short amount of time. This is where the story should end on a high note, but there’s more.
One day Mr. Greenwald sent me to see a woman who was a higher up in the American Legion Auxiliary. In front of a third party, she lied to me to my face and I called her on it. I told Mr. Greenwald about it immediately (to build some insurance, in case he heard about it later). Three weeks came and went and I forgot about the incident, but the lying shrew didn’t. Mr. Greenwald called me in and said orders came down from way over his head. He had to fire me, as she was calling for my job and nothing less would please her.
“But I told you what happened,” I said. He lectured me on the urgency of good politics. So there I was. Out of the best job in the world.
The highs of digging through authentic files as direct intern beneath the American Legion’s National Headquarter’s editor was too high, and the low of losing that job was too low. I didn’t even know how much of my work went into the edition until it came out. ALL of it went in, and the “I Remember” section was completely my work, including the idea for it. Still, I couldn’t pull out of the depression, so I did the worst thing possible. I dropped completely out of writing for ten years. I let go of writing, but writing wouldn’t let go of me, so here’s the lesson:
When the doors don’t open easily, take a crowbar! Know what you are going to say. Practice saying it out loud (in front of a mirror), and then go for it! What do you have to lose? Groom yourself properly. Dress for success. Greet the editor with a strong handshake and take him out for lunch. And by the way, don’t leave your wallet at home (like I did) and… lastly… learn when to button your lip.
Editors want to hire writers who practice tactfulness, not brazen personnel that casts their magazine in a bad light. Writing persistence and “win-win propositions” will take you far but in the end, it depends on how much guts you have.
Mr. Greenwald was one of the main stepping stones in my writing life. If not for him, I wouldn’t have founded two writing schools later. The future is exciting!! If you could only see it. Every single day, you are affecting your future… so go after it, and swing by http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com on the way.
You’re probably wondering what happened to my blog since we posted regularly for years and then suddenly vanished for months. I’s been one very sick puppy. 😦 After four surgeries and two bouts with bronchitis, I’m rearing to go, so this blog is aimed at the procrastinator in all of us.
I Haven’t Been Writing Because ________
by Deborah Owen
Do you feel unfulfilled? Like you’re barely surviving life, and not really living it? Like things “are getting done,” but you aren’t enjoying the journey of life? When a writer doesn’t let the words out, life gets very sour.
Are you ready to face the truth? Seriously. Are you ready? No lie? I can’t tell which way your head is bobbing. You’re really sure? Okay. If you insist. You haven’t been writing because you don’t make writing a priority. You don’t look impressed.
If you want to state it in kick-butt style, you might say: “Writing was less important to me in the past _____ weeks than everything else.” *ouch
Life is too short to coast from one week’s heart attack to the next, to the next, to the… before long, your kids will be gone and you’ll be studying dandelion roots from the south end. For however long your body stays in the grave, you’ll stare at the tombstone that should have read, “Here lies the greatest wannabe writer ever born,” but your loved ones will be too kind to write that.
Writing is a learned skill. No one is born knowing how to write, but there are varying grades of writing aptitude. If you don’t commit to at least three writing courses to learn the basics, how will you know if you could have succeeded?
It’s time to quit playing games and get serious.
Where to Begin
- Organize your life. For instance, my list might look like this:
Worship, family, job, WRITING, clean underwear, food, sleep… see? Put the unnecessary things last. 🙂
- Establish the best time of day to write. Maybe you can only write 15 minutes on your lunch hour. Fine! Do what you can. At least you’re trying.
3. Commit to a writing education so you’ll know what you’re doing.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, yours truly had the attitude that she didn’t need writing courses so she wasted ten years writing a heart-wrenching novel. There I was with a finished manuscript in my hand, thinking, “Where do I sell it? How do I pitch it? Where do I even find an address to send it? Well, maybe I should take just one course.” [You would think these things would have crossed my mind earlier, but no one can teach a know-it-all anything.]
So I plunged into advanced marketing on my first course! No lie. And by the end of that course, I learned I didn’t know diddly-squat about marketing, writing or even how to break into the writing industry. Today I have a copy of that unprinted novel in every room of my house to remind me how a beginning writer thinks.
Are you ready to get serious about this craft? If not, I promise, you will regret every day you procrastinate.
Choosing the Right Course
Begin with nonfiction writing, even if you hate the very thought of it. Next, take Creative Writing 101, followed by Short Story. At Creative Writing Institute, real people will really care about you. Our courses are written by published professionals and you will have your own private tutor.
Sign up today and start tomorrow. Make your writing dreams come true at Creative Writing Institute, a nonprofit charity that sponsors cancer patients in writing courses.
Spring into action to receive a tutored writing course for only $237! Use our no interest payment plan!
How long have you been promising yourself you would take a writing course? You’ll never know what could have been if you don’t give it a shot. Can’t begin now? Fine. Take up to one year to complete your course.
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Sale ends March 31, 2015. Hurry! Only 12 to a class!
Re-ignite your writing passion
by Fahreen Gani
New Year means resolutions for most of us. Finishing a novel might be yours, but how many will achieve that goal? Take this survey to find out.
Do you leave stories unfinished?
Does every story have to be perfect before you submit it?
Do you shred your work (and confidence) every time you edit?
Do you fail to write two or more days per week?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are suffering from Bad Writer’s Habits Syndrome (BWHS). Studies show it can develop into a serious case of writer’s block, which if left untreated, can culminate in psychological writer’s death, evidenced by lack of ideas.
If that triggered a little panic, great. It means the writer within is still alive and your story can be salvaged.
To see how advanced your BWHS is, you need to do a passion scan. Ask yourself this: has your passion for writing cooled due to frustration, rejections, and plot paralysis? After assessing the why and what is causing the lack of excitement, take a deep breath. Here’s how you can reignite your passion.
Delve into your mind, heart and soul. Ask yourself why you want to be a writer. Focus on those answers to stir your passion.
To keep your Bad Writer’s Habits Syndrome in check, take the following steps when necessary.
Keep a bottle of ideas handy. Although they are everywhere, keep your notes updated.
- Don’t wait too long to use them and don’t churn them out too quickly. Be patient, and allow them to take on a life and grow.
- Do regular writing checkups. Do you use repetitive words? Do your grammar skills need work? Find your weaknesses and strengthen them.
- Borrow a cup of encouragement from a friend.
- Supplement with doses of Self-Motivation.
- Take a shot of Constructive Criticism from a peer.
- For a speedy recovery and booster, take a writing course.
- Participate in a contest.
- Research your setting.
- Conduct interviews with your characters.
- Figure out what’s wrong with an old story.
- Use active voice instead of passive.
- Do writing exercises. Flex those writing muscles every day.
- Working on novels and stories gets exhausting. Take frequent breaks to preserve your sanity and keep your piece fresh.
- Distractions can be injurious. Avoid them. When the perfect word eludes you, don’t give in. Highlight the area and go back to it later.
- Read! It produces antibodies (new ideas) to fight writer’s block.
- Discipline will bring success. Enjoy your writing.
Make these your new year’s resolutions. Flaunt your writing masterpieces. Enter contests this year and we will applaud you for overcoming bad habits.
Go to www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com to find out about our creative writing courses
by Deborah Owen
Note: The astute reader will notice a strong inconsistency in the pictures. What is it? I’ll give you the answer to the mystery question at the very end.
Oh, you did come! I’m so glad! Come in and meet my family. We usually gather on Christmas Eve so everyone can be home for Christmas, but this year the family gathering is on December 28.
Okay, from left to right, Mom is first. She’s 96, can you believe it? *whisper* She’s a pistol. Don’t get her stirred up. And that’s my twin standing next to her. (Okay. I lied. I don’t have a twin, but it sure mixes the story up if I don’t use that slight embellishment. Yes, I know I don’t look like my picture. It’s a bad hair day and I’m not photogenic.) The little guy in blue is my youngest grandson, now 14, and the cutie in the white top is my oldest granddaughter, now 22, who just made me a great-grandma! Back to the left, behind Mom, is my precious daughter, Dory; her hubby is peeking over Mom’s head. Next to him is my beautiful younger granddaughter, now 18. See the big ham in the back? That’s my oldest grandson, and next to him is his father (my son), then my sweet daughter-in-law, and the old fellow on the right is my husband. We’ll celebrate our 55th anniversary on December 30. I’ve decided to keep him.
We all welcome you! This isn’t the first time we’ve had a visitor for Christmas. Today, you are our honored guest.
Did you see all the food in the dining room? Bet you smelled the ham the minute you came in.
We have ham sandwiches, chips, Dory’s special Jello-mold salad – out of this world – and various other treats and desserts. Stuff yourself! We also have Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Root Beer. What? You’ve never heard of Root Beer? Oh, I love it! It’s a soft drink that foams and spritzes your nose when you take your first drink. It has a little licorice flavoring. Here. Have a taste… oh dear. That bad, eh? Okay, maybe you’d rather have Coke.
Let’s grab a sandwich and hog the seats in front of the fireplace! *giggles Isn’t it beautiful?
No stress is allowed in this room. Let’s sit on the loveseat. There’s a handle on the side. Pull it out and a footrest will pop out. Whoops! Ha ha… you weren’t quite ready for that, were you?
Hmm? No. That’s not real wood in the fireplace. It’s a fireplace log. It’ll burn six hours and won’t cause creosote to build up in the chimney. We had a chimney fire at our house one time. The neighbor called and said, “Do you know you have flames shooting 50 feet out of your chimney?” Well, duh, no! We ran outside, and man alive! We were lighting up the sky! It’s a miracle the house didn’t burn down, but I love fireplaces, don’t you? We used to burn Christmas wrapping paper and watch the flames turn different colors. [It doesn’t take much to entertain us. lol]
Hey! It’s time to open presents. Let’s go in the living room. Isn’t that a gorgeous tree? I love it.
As soon as everyone gathers, my son-in-law will read the first twenty verses of Luke, chapter two, that recounts the birth of Jesus. Sometimes we talk about it for a few minutes. You know, according to the customs of Bible days, Mary may have been as young as 16 or 17. Can you imagine having a baby in a barn? I wonder how long she labored, and what baby Jesus weighed. Mary had a wonderful husband. He wrapped the baby in swaddling clothes, which in those days, were burial shrouds, and laid Him in an animal’s feeding trough. The swaddling clothes were a prophecy that this baby would live a perfect life and die to pay our sin debt. We certainly can’t pay it ourselves. Anyway, after we pray, we’ll open gifts. We don’t spend a lot on one another. We give sweaters, scarves, books, DVDs and the like. Our gifts are meant to show our love for each other, just as God showed His love by giving us His Son.
By the way, we thought you might be coming tonight, so each person bought you a token gift. Now don’t feel bad about it. You’re our guest and we want to be a blessing to you.
Since Ethan is the youngest, he’ll probably pass out the presents. When we get them, we shake them and try to guess what’s inside. Dory usually has the two boys open one gift, then the two girls open one, and the kids alternate like that until they’re done. Then they go into the other room while we open ours.
Last year we had a White Elephant Christmas, which was almost like a game. Everyone brought something from home that they didn’t want, and the gifts were wrapped. We took turns choosing a mystery package. I chose the biggest one, of course. The gang went into an uproar!
I should have chosen the gift my oldest grandson chose.
Here is my personal Christmas gift to you… a cherished memory, complete with glaring errors… the first story I ever wrote, at age 15. Believe it or not, it won third place in the high school writing contest and was printed on the front page of our school newspaper. Sharing it now for the first time makes me feel like I’m naked in Times Square. Little did I know I would become a writing tutor and found a writing school as a nonprofit charity. By the way, the setting for this story was a Quonset hut that sat behind our property.
There’s a place for comments at the end. Be kind. lol
Poverty Stricken Children Keep Belief in Santa Claus
by Deborah Owen
At night, I always take a walk, no matter what the weather. Sometimes I walk a mile and sometimes more. I often take a friend along. Tonight I would like to take you with me.
Last week I found a little house, more like a hut, in the woods. As I drew nearer, my eyes pierced the broken pattern of the frosty window. I saw a family of seven huddled around a small, pot-bellied stove. The children were shabbily dressed.
One boy, about the age of nine, wore pants almost up to his knees. The little girl was about six. She wore a short dress far above her knees. She was shivering, and her small, frail arms were bare as was most of her body. The other, youngest child, about one, lay contented on his mother’s lap. The other children were girl twins about three, with long, blonde hair. They wore different colored sleeveless dresses with no buttons on them. They shivered from the cold, cutting winds that bypassed the sagging door.
The room itself was bare of furniture. The only furniture in sight was the pot-bellied stove and a single table and chair.
No Christmas Tree
So far as I could see, there was only one other room but there was no way for me to see into it. There was no Christmas tree as you might expect to see, this being the night before Christmas Eve.
Needless to say, these people are poor and can’t even clothe themselves and their children, let alone buy a Christmas tree and gifts for the children.
At one time, these children knew as happy a Christmas as anyone until their father fell seriously ill and lost his job. Then they were put out of their home and by chance, found the little hut where they now live.
This would be the first Christmas without Santa Claus. Their mother had tried to explain to them that he had so many children to visit that he might forget some. Since they lived so far back in the woods, he might not see them. But even then, the children had faith in Santa Claus and five stockings hung on the wall for him to fill.
It broke the parents’ hearts to know the children would be so cruelly disappointed. But Ann, the six-year-old, kept saying, “Don’t worry, mommy, Santa Claus never forgets.” Anne had even given up her slight supper for him, explaining that she didn’t want Santa to be as hungry as she was.
Christmas Eve came and went as normal as any other day, in most respects. They never had anymore than canned beans and some leftover meat – no milk and no coffee.
Parents Dread Christmas
The parents were dreading the coming Christmas, dreading to witness the first real heartbreak of their children’s young lives, not knowing how to prevent it, but never ceasing in their efforts to lessen their coming grief.
It was Christmas Eve when all the children said their prayers. There was no need to pray that Santa Claus might not forget, for they sincerely believed that he wouldn’t. The coming Christmas would be one of sorrow. It would be one in which all faith and confidence would be shattered.
It was getting late, and the children were asleep. There wouldn’t be any chicken dinner for them. It would be the same canned beans they ate every day.
Then I started home, for it was getting late. As I prepared for bed, the peace and contentment that surrounded me gave way to the horizon of a new thought! The night was a busy one.
In the morning I returned to see the results of my surprise. I woke early on Christmas Day. My first thought was the poor family I encountered on Christmas Eve.
A White Christmas
Silently, I dressed and slipped out of the house. As I left, I noticed it had snowed during the night. It would be a white Christmas. I made my way to the house in the woods some two miles away.
As I neared, I saw the children jumping and laughing through the window. Ann was holding a doll in her arms, not new, but in good condition. Her big brother had a used glove and a baseball.
The twins had twin dolls, and the baby held a teddy bear. Their mother was admiring a plump chicken ready to be cooked which had a red ribbon around it and a note reading, “Merry Christmas,” and as she read the note, Ann said, “See, Mommy, I told you Santa wouldn’t forget.”
And her parents agreed with her, as they knelt to thank the Lord for another MERRY CHRISTMAS.
by Ariel Pakizer
Pick your audience before you start writing. or even plan, an article. Waving in western culture is a friendly gesture, but an open palm is the equivalent to “flipping the bird” in some Hispanic cultures. Writing without knowing your market is like waving in Spain, you’re saying hello, they’re seeing a curse word, and everyone is confused.
Selecting a market is tricky. “High Fantasy fans” is too large, but “twenty-year-old white men” is too small, so target a market in between the two. Choose an age range and a topic. Focusing on one interest is wise, since art students and sports scholarships typically aren’t interested in same type of article.
You have the idea, now where does it fit best? Decide what focus (if it’s a story, or angle if it’s an article) your piece should take and target your particular market from there. If you don’t know what your audience wants, you need to do more than targeting a market.
If you’re a thirty-year-old woman targeting men going through a midlife crisis, you’ve got some research to do. If you’re willing to plan, research, and edit your article, you can spare a few hours for researching your market.
Once you understand your market, tailor your story to it. Write what your chosen audience wants to read. Every market has a tone and length they enjoy, so try keeping your article to the appropriate word count. If you’re writing a short story, write the characters with strengths they’ll admire and not quirks they will find annoying.
Writing for an audience isn’t easy and only practice will make you better. Learn to blend your writing with what others want to read. Write a few pieces for a specific audience, and then try selling them.
You can aim for a local magazine, newspaper, or reach out to an online journal. Why not find an internet magazine, learn about its target audience, and write a short story specifically for it?
Work on a piece for a few weeks, but set a deadline. It will turn a project into a goal, and the finished work into an accomplishment. So, go for it, write and sell a piece to a target audience by March 31st. Don’t sit and think, “I couldn’t do that!” because you can’t know that’s true until you try.
Sponsored by http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com, YOUR place to find writing fulfillment with a private tutor. No need to wait. Sign up today and start tonight!
by Farheen Gani
An imaginary tale that amused classmates. A prize-winning essay. A funny poem. Isn’t this how we fall in love with writing? The love deepens over time. You start dreaming of publishing your own novel. Until you realize, it’s now or never. That’s how Lisa Carter published her first book.
Mrs. Carter is a Southern romance writer, which by her definition includes hospitality, extended family circles and barbeques. When not chasing her muse, she indulges in quilting, teaching and music. In this interview, she talks about the joys and challenges of writing romance…
- Why did you choose romance as the main theme of your writing?
I love the process of two people finding each other against the odds and daring to love each other. I fall in love a little bit with each of my characters as their romance unfolds in my story.
- While romance is perceived as an easy genre to write, which is the most difficult part about writing it?
The endings are often hard to craft so that the story will not be clichéd, but fresh and satisfying. There is no surprise in romance—readers understand that in the end these characters will be together. That is essential. But the joy and the surprising twists in the journey it takes the characters to reach, this place is the fun part.
- Is there anything you do to get in the mood of writing an intense scene?
Music can transport you to the theme or emotional tone of a scene. I always read the scene I wrote the previous day to get myself back in the moment. Taking a walk or doing something that doesn’t require a great deal of focus like housecleaning also helps the stream of my subconscious to flow.
- How do you differentiate your central character’s voice from your own?
There are pieces of me in every character I write—the good, the bad, the ugly. But the lead character has a voice of her own, her own back-story, and experiences that are different from me and how I would react to her current situation.
Sponsored by http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com, YOUR place to find writing fulfillment with a private tutor. No need to wait. Sign up today and start tonight!
by Angela Butler
Halloween writing is perfect when ghosts, goblins and witches abound. What an opportunity to soak in all the sensations of the season and create a haunting story. As you engage in festive activities with family and loved ones, take a few minutes to jot down what you see, hear, smell, and feel.
And, of course, Halloween writing must include the foods of the holiday! What candy do you snitch from your children’s trick or treat bags? How many times do their tummies cramp from too many caramel covered apples and chocolate chip cookies?
When you visit a pumpkin patch, be mindful of everything around you. Feel the autumn chill in the air as the sun goes down and remember how cozy it feels to wear long pants and a fleece jacket. Notice the aroma of fresh cut hay bales and corn stalks as you wind your way through a corn maze. As you stumble through the pumpkin patch, listen to the crackling of brittle vines, fallen leaves, or the yell of “help” when your little one needs help to carry the biggest pumpkin he’s ever seen. Which one has he picked? Is it bumpy, smooth, deformed, perfect, robust or lanky?
When you take the pumpkins home, carve them, and set them out, what feelings emanate? Do you remember how your mom posed you with your pumpkin on Halloween night? Can you still hear her voice insisting that you smile behind the leopard mask? And you said, “I am smiling.”
How does it feel to watch your children go through the same paces? Reflect on your past as you help with costume changes. Of course, you’ll be tired and the kids won’t want their dinner, but remember your giddiness at their age?
As you peek through the camera lens, the ghost of Halloween past may visit again. Mother saved your leopard suit for your children, and now the oldest is wearing it. “Smile,” you say to the masked face, and a muffled voice replies, “I am smiling.”
Taking good notes on Halloween’s aromas, pumpkin selection, trick or treating, tummy aches, costumes, and seasonal traditions will capture the detailed essence needed for Halloween writing. Use it to write either fiction or nonfiction. Submit your entry to small online markets five to six months in advance and relive the experiences again when you see your byline in print. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!