Halloween Writing

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!

*Angela Butler is a volunteer staff member. You can visit her blog at www.angela-wholehearted.blogspot.com. Get more great writing tips at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.

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Develop your Priorities

by Brent Middleton

          Developing your priorities is one of the most important things you will ever do. At one time, Jeff Kinney was in your shoes. Who is Jeff Kinney? Ask any elementary-middle school kid what the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is, and they’ll look at you like you just asked them how to blink. Author Jeff Kinney didn’t always want to be a children’s author, but with over 60 million copies in print and over 80 million online hits, he isn’t doing too bad.

Like many students, Jeff didn’t know what he wanted to do until he discovered comic strips at the University of Maryland. As the campus newspaper grew, he knew that he wanted to become a cartoonist.

Unfortunately, Jeff couldn’t get his comic strips syndicated, so he turned to creating a book to house his creations. He worked on it excessively for six years before publishing it on Funbrain.com in 2004. The book, entitled Diary of a Wimpy Kid, became an instant hit with online viewers. Today, 70,000+ kids read it daily.

After the huge success with Funbrain, publisher Harry Abrams offered a multi-book deal and has since put nine Diary of a Wimpy Kid books into print, including the original. The books were an immediate sensation with kids worldwide, with the first two reaching  #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Jess hasn’t looked back since, releasing three movies based on the books in 2010 (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), 2011 (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules), and 2012 (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days).

Jeff still works as the editorial director for Poptropica.com, a kid-friendly gaming website that he created in 2007. Today, he lives in Plainville, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julie, and their two sons, Will and Grant.

  • Where do you want to go in life?
  • What do you want to do?
  • How much are you willing to sacrifice to recognize your dream?
  • He who aims at nothing hits same.
  • Develop your priorities now.
  • Make a bucket list of ten things you’d like to do and then number them by rank.
  • Concentrate on the top three and leave the rest for another day.

Who knows… maybe you’ll become the next Jeff Kinney.

Don’t forget to ‘like’ us before you leave. For more great tips, sign up for The Writer’s Choice Newsletter (for free) at http://cwinst.com/newslettersignup.php.

16 Golden Rules of Creative Story Writing

Storytelling at its Finest

by Deborah Owen

Stories will differ in message, content, and characters, but each one must have more than theme, plot, and dialogue to be complete. Check your stories to ensure they contain the following 16 elements:

  • Theme – This is the thread that runs seamlessly from beginning to end telling the underlying morals of the story. For instance, Gone With the Wind is not about romance and war. It is about control, manipulation, and weak character.
  • Plot – Usually encased in the central climax scene, or possibly in a series of events.
  • Arcing – The gradual increase of momentum and interest that builds at the beginning, reaches a fever pitch in the middle, and declines into the resolutions of story conflicts at the end. Does your arc come too soon? Too late?
  • Pacing – Some stories move fast and some slow, but all of them move at some rate of speed. Use pacing to make them a combination of fast and slow according to the scenes. High climax scenes move fast.
  • Outline – Whether you do it mentally or by proper analysis, most writers will profit by some form of outlining. Knowing where your story is going will save on rewrites and editing.
  • Resolution – Have you ever watched a TV show and watched the story end, only to say, “But what happened to… ?” Be sure to tie up every loose end.
  • Hook – If you don’t have a hook in the first or second paragraph, you won’t have a reader to worry about entertaining!
  • Point of View – Which will you use? Right now, stories written in third person limited are the best sellers.
  • Story Essence – Every story has characters, theme, plot, and resolution. What makes your story different? Answer: The details.
  • Dialogue – The trick is to make it sound natural. Use contractions, poor English, and half sentences. Become a good eavesdropper and you’ll learn to write excellent dialogue.
  • Characterization – Every character must bear their own bag and baggage of physical descriptions, emotional hoopla, and psychological concoctions. This is what makes a character 3D. Make a list of the 50 characteristics of your two main characters.
  • Research – Absolutely essential! Sometimes it may only define how insane a person can be, how irresponsible parents are, or how careless children can become – but it’s still research.
  • Timeline – Are your scenes out of order? Does your flashback convey the reader back and forth in the proper way? While some authors may dwell on the same scene for a whole chapter, others will skip years in a single sentence. Make your timeline clear.
  • Setting – Your reader is landing in a new story. Let him know where he is. Hint: All stories use settings, but elite writers use imagery – settings that are mixed with one of the five senses. For example: The smell of salt in the air.
  • Verbiage – Believe it or not, you can delete 300-500 words out of every 2,500. Fall out of love with your work. Delete favorite phrases. Slash words that end in ­–ly. What remains will be solid meat.
  • Show, Don’t Tell – Every story must use some “telling,” but hold the narration down and show the scenes instead of telling them. One good way to do this is with dialogue. Here is an example that displays the difference between showing and telling.

Telling: “Mrs. Adams walked into the classroom with bloodshot eyes, visibly upset.”

Showing: “Mrs. Adams stormed into the classroom and slammed her books on the desk. Without looking at the class, she picked up the chalk and began writing on the blackboard. Her shoulders started to shake and she let out a sob.”

See the difference? In the first, you’re thinking for the reader. In the second one, you’re painting a picture and allowing the reader to think for him/herself. That’s the difference between showing and telling. General rule of thumb: never narrate emotions; always show them.

If you include all of these things in your story and it still doesn’t sell, either you need more help in some of these areas, or your sentence structure isn’t up to par. Best of luck!

And as always, be sure to check out www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com and look into one of our fantastic creative writing courses!

Get Published Now!

Get Published Right Away
Where do I submit my stuff?

By guest blogger, Annie Evett

Where do new writers get published? You’ve just finished writing material that you think is pretty good, but you’re not sure where to send it. Most writers begin their career by submitting to free publications such as e-anthologies (ebooks or pdfs available online), e-zines (online magazines or newsletters)or local newspapers. The thrill of seeing your name in the byline is reward enough, but accepted and published work also reinforces the belief that your work has some quality. It exposes your talents to a new audience, boosts your ego, and may pave the way to paid work.

When seeking publication, be sure to:

1. Check your work for:
• Grammatical and spelling errors
• Beta read by at least two other people. (Beta readers are people outside your immediate family or friend circle and who are more likely to give you constructive feedback. Their role is to give an impression of how your piece will be received by the audience you’re targeting. Beta readers don’t edit or correct your piece. Try to find someone with some writing experience.)
• Act upon their feedback
• Rewrite to perfection
• Submit to an editor (know the editor’s name)

2. Craft a cover letter and a short biography (up to 50 words)

3. Submit a publicity photo (clear head shot) of yourself in electronic format. Most publications will include this in your byline at the end of your piece.

4. Write a publishing goal for yourself and make a specific date. (Answer such questions as what is most important to you? To be paid? How much? To be published? Be recognized? Why? By whom?) Post your goal in a prominent place near your writing area. These answers will arm you with a basic level of professionalism.

Data bases of markets open to emerging writers:

Duotropes http://www.duotrope.com/
Worldwide Freelance http://www.worldwidefreelance.com/
Fiction Writing Markets http://www.writerswrite.com/fiction/markets.htm
The Short Story http://www.theshortstory.org.uk/prizes/
Writers Weekly http://www.writersweekly.com/markets_and_jobs.php
Womagwriter http://womagwriter.blogspot.com This blog highlights magazines that accept short story submissions across several countries. They also provide writers guidelines and the blog will keep you up to date with what’s happening in the market.

Also Open for Submissions:

Untitled http://www.untitledonline.com.au Fiction of any genre – 350 words to 5000 words.

Ether bookshttp://www.etherbooks.co.uk/ – open to any genre in fiction. Specifically looking at short stories or serial stories. This platform publishes to mobile devices and are available through itunes.

Global Short Stories http://www.globalshortstories.net – all genres all themes – short stories under 2000 words.

Noble Romancehttps://www.nobleromance.com Sweethearts (no sex or sexual overtones) and Erotica (more saucy)- Short Stories– 3-10K words. Novellas 10,001-29,999K, 30+K words and up for novels

Wet Inkhttp://www.wetink.com.au A magazine of new writing – open to fiction (including genre fiction), creative non-fiction, poetry, memoir, essays and opinion pieces

eFiction http://authors.efictionmag.com/ online monthly magazine – all genres

Red Asylumhttp://theredasylum.webs.com/ Quarterly online magazine, devoted to the discovery and publication of dark and twisted stories.

Lyrical Press http://www.lyricalpress.com Seeking erotica, romance, and urban fantasy short stories (15K) through to novels

Got your stories posted on your site and want some readers? These sites are community-run listings of online fiction where you can post a link to your stories and go and check out other writers work. This is particularly handy in order to get feedback from other writers and build your own support group.

Webfiction http://webfictionguide.com/
Write Anythings Fiction Friday http://wa.emergent-publishing.com/writing-prompts/
Mad Utopia http://MadUtopia.com/blog/fridayflash/what-is-fridayflash/

Make sure you follow the submission guidelines carefully – and good luck!

For more great tips, get The Writer’s Choice Newsletter at http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com. Please take a moment to rate this article and make a comment. Bookmark us! Happy day!