Point of View: Avoiding Exposition, or what’s commonly known as ‘the info dump’

How do you convey a character's point of view without resorting to the infamous 'info dump' on your reader? Sonny Whitelaw tells us how.   Read Part 1: Point of View Basics: Whose Point of View is it, anyway?   Read Part 2: Point of View: How exactly do I write in limited third person perspective?   What is Exposition? In any scene, characters don’t generally take notice of familiar surroundings, because they have become de-sensitised to them, just like we generally take our own surroundings for

Point of View: How exactly do I write in limited third person perspective?

Okay, you now understand the basics of third person narration. So how exactly do you write in limited third person perspective? Sonny Whitelaw explains.   Read Part One: Point of View Basics: Whose Point of View is it, anyway? Read Part 3: Point of View: Avoiding Exposition, or what’s commonly known as ‘the info dump’   The basics: grammar, punctuation, and formatting Yes, they really, really do matter, and your story is no exception. An editor isn’t going to ‘fix’ your grammar gremlins for you. The

Whose point of view is it, anyway?

One of the most common problem writers have when learning to write fiction, is maintaining point of view (PoV). Here, Sonny Whitelaw explains what point of view is, why it matters, and what tools you can use to create and maintain point of view.   Read Part 2: Point of View: How exactly do I write in limited third person perspective? Read Part 3: Point of View: Avoiding Exposition, or what’s commonly known as ‘the info dump’     Understanding first, second, and third person narratives At

Genres: Do You Know Your Horror From Your Romance? By Hannah Green

What are genres and how do we tell them apart? Genres are used to group stories that contain common elements, such as themes, settings or characters. They are useful (if not necessary) for publishers to know whether your story is marketable or not, and for readers to know what type of book they’re in for. Blurbs can be sometimes be misleading and without genre classifications you may find out that the romance novel you were expecting turns out to be

An Interview with Alex Smith

    Alex Smith is a well-known creative writing tutor for novels and short story writing at the Writers College, but she is much more than that. A social editor, English teacher and the author of five novels. Her writing has been nominated for the SA Pen Literacy Award and the Cain Prize for African writing. Her latest novel is Devilskein and Dearlove. Here Alex gives an insight in to her interesting lifestyle and travelling around the world. BY KELVIN MACFARLANE   How did

Weird, Minus One House-Point

  BY CARMEN MARCUS   It was the summer of 1984 and Lady Di was just about to marry my toy gorilla, Gogo. My mum was standing watching the rain and then she did something extraordinary. She thrust her hands through the glass pane of the back door. My dad grabbed Lady Di’s (aka Barbie) long wedding train (a pillowcase) to bind my mum's wrists. Then the ambulance came and Mum was taken away and Di’s broken head was left on the floor. Children

Redigeer jou werk in 20 stappe

    Is jou skryfstuk uiteindelik kant en klaar en jy gereed om dit aan ʼn uitgewer te stuur? Jippie! Maar voordat jy daardie ‘stuur’ knoppie druk, maak eers seker dat jy dit volgens hierdie belangrike stappe geredigeer het:   STAP 1: Doen jy die moeite sodat jou leser nie hoef nie Laat jou kreatiewe sappe vloei en skryf die eerste weergawe sonder om jou teveel te bekommer oor grammatika, spelling of vorm. Om jou analitiese linkerbrein te vroeg aan te skakel wurg al die

How to Achieve Your Writing Goals

  After over a decade of teaching writing courses, we noticed that the students who succeeded as writers were not necessarily those who could craft the best sentences or tell the best story. They were the students who wrote often. They persisted. They got the job done. So here are seven tips to help you stay motivated and determined on your journey as a writer. BY NICHOLA MEYER   1. Dream Big; Act Small Setting unrealistic writing goals is a sure-fire way to make your writing dream

Q & A with Author Trevor Bentley

    Trevor Bentley’s passion for pre-Treaty European Maori relations, captives and cannons, has resulted in four published books and a fifth on the way. But his writing life began in a sweet way with a winning slogan and a year’s supply of chocolate.    BY CHERIÊ PASCOE Q: What got you started as a writer? A: Unlike many published writers I did not write enthusiastically as a child, but I was a voracious reader. I blossomed as a writer in secondary school as two wonderful

How to Get the Twist You Never Saw Coming

  The twist in the tale is the writer’s equivalent of magic. A sleight of hand, a puff of smoke and Kazam! we make something appear or disappear. Much like a mesmerizing magic trick, the art of the twist takes skill and practice to perform well, and as magicians have their tools of the trade, so too do writers.   Warning! Contains plot spoilers!   - by HANNAH GREEN   What is a twist in the tale? It’s the place where a story takes a sudden turn. At

Show, Don’t Tell

  What does the most common advice dished out to writers - Show, Don't Tell Your Reader - actually mean?     What Movies and Good Writing Have in Common Movies show. They use scenes. They present characters who talk and react to each other, in a particular setting with a backdrop. Movies give us images, and these pictures instantly captivate viewers. So should your writing. We need to see your characters acting out the plot, not be told about them. So as you stare at your

Q & A With Nametso Dorothy Ponchi – Writer and Poet

Born in Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, Nametso Dorothy Ponchi is just getting started. At only 26 years old, she is already a published writer and a multilingual spoken word poet. Quite an achievement when you are from such a small country! Nametso's work has seen her performing for international platforms such as Maun International Arts Poetry Festival and the Gaborone International Music and Culture week. She describes herself as a live performing poet, a published author and an

Q & A with Author, Ekow Duker

    Ghana-born author, Ekow Duker, is an oil field engineer-turned-investment banker-turned-business developer, with three published novels under his belt: Dying in New York (PanMacmillan), White Wahalla (Picador Africa) and The God Who Made Mistakes (Picador Africa). Having globe-trotted for studies and work, he has now made Johannesburg his home. LERATO MOTSOALEDI speaks to this versatile talent about his successful part-time writing career.     Q:     How did you become a writer? A:      I wouldn’t call myself a writer because I write primarily for pleasure. I’m a

A Writer’s Inner Workings: Andrew Salomon

  Andrew Salomon is the author of  the novels The Chrysalis (Oxford University Press) and Tokoloshe Song (Random House Umuzi). His writing was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award, and twice shortlisted for the Science Fiction and Fantasy SA Short Story Competition. He was one of the winners of the PEN/Studzinski Literary Award for African Fiction, as well as the winner of the Short.Sharp.Stories Competition. Andrew is a tutor for the Write a Novel Course at SA Writers College. GREG SEEBREGTS

Why poets are eternal beginners

– BY FIONA ZERBST   There are no short cuts in poetry. Even if you have been writing for over 20 years, you start at the very beginning when you sit down to a blank sheet of paper. In fact, if you have written good poems in the past, there is no guarantee you will write good poems in the future. You cannot predict that you will write a great poem, even if you have mastered some poetic forms and you feel reasonably

How to Keep Your Point Of View Consistent

Every story is told from a specific point of view. This enables the reader to experience the world they are reading about. When the point of view shifts without warning, it breaks the reader’s concentration. It not only disrupts their experience but can confuse them about what is taking place in your story. So let's understand what point of view is, and then, common mistakes writers make with point of view. BY HANNAH GREEN   What exactly is point of view? The three points of

What’s Wrong With My Story?

Having a hard time getting your story to the level that you want it at? Struggling to sell it or get positive feedback? As writers, we often feel too strongly about some things and not strongly enough about others, so a fair amount of errors can be grouped under 'over-doing it' or 'under-doing it'.   Here are some of the common mistakes that writers can make...   BY HANNAH GREEN   Over-doing it   Drama, drama, drama: One of the keys to good fiction is keeping your characters

Can You Make A Living Writing Short Stories?

Most fiction writers want to know if they can live off their income from writing. Sadly, the short answer is no. Only a handful of writers of this genre make enough to support themselves purely from selling their stories. To earn a living as a short story writer, you would have to supplement your income with writing articles for blogs and magazines and other media that pay a lot better. Also, breaking into the short story market can be tougher than

Verbeter Jou Kans Om ʼn Kortverhaal Kompetisie Te Wen Só

    Na tien jaar se ondervinding met die evaluering van nasionale kortverhaal kompetisies, het ons Writers College beoordelaars ʼn lys van agt basiese stappe saamgestel wat jou in die regte rigting sal stuur om die kortlys te haal. Voordat jy skouer aan die wiel sit om jou kortverhaal vir die kompetisie te begin skryf, sal dit tot jou voordeel strek om eers ondersoek in te stel oor wat ʼn kortverhaal regtig is - en nie is nie. ʼn Kortverhaal is nie ʼn uitlegging

Q & A with Laurie Halse Anderson: Writer

  Her first novel for young adult (YA) fiction was not only a New York Times best-seller in 1999, but was also later adapted into a film starring a young Kristen Stewart in 2004. Laurie's latest YA novel Wintergirls received five-star reviews and nominations for state awards, and was also debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list.   Lucy Mansell interviews Laurie Halse Anderson about the ideas and inspiration behind her best-selling novels Wintergirls and Speak.      Q: What can you tell me about

Seven Tips for Creating Tension in Your Fiction Writing

By Hannah Green How do you create that nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat page-turner? How do best-selling authors create tension in their writing? Here are seven tips to help you keep your reader gasping for more.   (1) Name the stakes How much does your character have to lose? Make it clear to your reader what is at stake, and show them how and why your protagonist is doing what needs to be done. Imagine that your protagonist is a tightrope walker: is he balanced on the rope

An Interview with Short Story Writer, Ginny Swart

Ginny Swart was one of the first writers to join us when we started our writing college in 2005. She designed the Short Story Writing for Magazines Course. One of our best-loved tutors, Ginny has been an unfailing support for novice writers on an international level.     Q. How did you become a writer? By accident! I’m actually trained as a graphic designer but have had various jobs and one was selling advertising for a weekly trade paper. One day I sold a full page advert

How You Can Write Clear and Clutter-free Fiction for Children

  Pruning your writing of unnecessary clutter is a great way to energize your prose. Here are six tips on cutting back on verbiage. BY HELEN BRAIN   1. Keep it Simple Choosing a complicated word when a simpler one will do can dull your writing. Cluttering your sentences with unnecessary words will do the same thing. A pedantic teacher might tell his class, 'Kindly ensure that the required apparel, as specified on the information sheet, has been purchased.' He would get his message across more

Is Memoir Writing a Form of Therapy?

People who want to write a memoir often compare the process of writing that memoir to therapy. They say things like, I need to tell my story, I want to feel better about what happened to me, I want others to know my experience. But is writing a memoir like therapy? BY LISA LAZARUS   I am a memoir and fiction writer who trained as a psychologist and worked as a therapist for a number of years, so I find the links between

Four Habits of Successful Writers

Books, blogs and courses offer valuable advice and guidance for writers, but to make the most of them, there are four vital habits we have to establish for ourselves.   BY TRISH NICHOLSON   1. Create a writing support network Putting words onto paper or the screen is something we do alone and it can be lonely. Not only that, inspiration comes not from staring at a blank space waiting for the muse, but from  engaging with life past and present, observing, recording, thinking and

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