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Liz Newman


Travel writing for competitions

I was recently a winner of the Exodus Travel Writing Blog Competition, which had a limit of 500 words, and I have their consent to use it here. Hopefully, it gives a few pointers as to how to go about it.

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The problems of updating

These days, online books get updated, and customers will get the newest version free of charge. Publishers want their contemporary fiction to be up-to-the-minute. But is there anything you can do to make updates unnecessary? Of course, it depends which genre you choose.

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Changing your writing space – if you’re lucky enough to have one.

When I started out, I wrote on the kitchen table. The amount of time spent clearing a space, and then tidying everything away, ate into my writing time. Not to mention wiping off the marmalade that transferred itself to every available piece of paper. I graduated from the kitchen to a shared office with my husband, which wasn’t ideal as he was a lot untidier than me. Eventually, after moving house (and husbands) I finally had an office of my own, and I began to think about what makes the ideal writing space.

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Letting a book settle

It’s only since I’ve been regularly reviewing books every month for a magazine that I’ve started to think about how I read, as well as how I write

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Basing characters on real people

f a character stays too close to someone you know, you’re always thinking, so-and-so wouldn’t do/say/ think that. The character must always serve the story, rather than the other way round.

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Howlers

As well as being a large New World monkey, a werewolf in full cry, or an unpleasant letter in a red envelope sent to someone at Hogwarts, the other definition of howler is a stupid mistake or ludicrous blunder.

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Holiday reading habits

Airports stock a lot of books for holiday reading, and if you’re aiming at a popular market in it’s a good idea to take a good hard look at what’s on sale. Crime and romance come top, but these days they all have strap-lines that sound exactly the same.

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Using magic

The main problem with using magic (with a few literary exceptions) is that it has to have rules, otherwise every problem can be solved with no effort.

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Using inanimate objects as characters

Have a look around you. What could you animate? A coffee cup that hates tea? A printer that has a mind its own? A camera that takes pictures when no one’s looking? There are endless possibilities…

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Writing characters with disabilities

If you’re going to write disabled characters, try putting one arm in a sling or wearing an eye-mask or ear plugs all day. Remember everything. And then feel thankful that your disability was only temporary.

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