Thanet Creative: Writers


All Genre feedback

November 13, 2018 in events by Matthew Brown

This evening marks the first meeting of our revived all genre feedback sessions.

When Thanet Creative started back in 2013, we started as a place for writers to bring work and get support and feedback from other writers. That has been a part of Tea and Chat but as the event has matured it has become its own thing quite distinct from our feedback and critique events.

That is why we have been talking about holding a dedicated beta reading, feedback, and critique evening for some time now. That time is now. Literally, today.

The first meeting of the All Genre Feedback group will take place at the London Tavern (Margate) in the Black Room. That is the same venue that we have held writer and creative socials before.

We will kick off at half past seven (1930) and end arround ten.

The venue

The event will take place on Tuesday evenings at half past seven in the London Tavern, Margate.

The London Tavern Margate offers a range of drinks (including real ales) and the privacy of a function room so we can relax, spread out, and get support from fellow writers. There will be plenty of space if you just want to write in good company but our main focus will be reading each others writing and offering our helpful and constructive feedback.

The London Tavern is located in Addington Street, near Cecil Square.

There is on-street parking just outside. The nearest bus stop is a short walk away at is Cecil Square.

What to expect

I will bring along copies of the beta-reading feedback sheets that we have previously shared in our Facebook group should you want to use them.

Writers and creative people of all types are welcome to simply come, socialise and offer feedback to other writers. You do not have to bring anything but if you want feedback, bring four or five copies of something we’ve not seen before and try to limit it to five sides of A4 in a readable font size.

You can read your work out if you want but, usually, we quietly read and make notes in the margin. After reading (or hearing) the group will offer a few minutes of feedback.

If there are too many of us we will split into two or three groups of four to six people (along very approximate genre lines) so everyone can get the benefit of some peer-sourced feedback.

You do not have to be a Thanet Creative member as this event is open to everyone. All that we ask is that you have a genuine interest in writing or supporting writers.

For more information check out the event page on Facebook.

Tips for Winning NaNoWriMo

October 30, 2018 in advice by Matthew Brown

So you have decided that NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to write that novel you have been wanting to write. Now “all” you have to do is write it.

Here are ten tips to get a novel written in 30 days. (Yes it is possible).

1. Set goals and track progress

To be an official winner, you need to have written 50,000 words in 30 days. Even if you only write half of that, you will have written a lot more than all those people that want to write but never started.

50,000 words in 30 days amounts to 1667 words a day. Or three daily sessions averaging about 560 words. Which is about a page and a half.

Some people like to write 600 before work, 450 to 600 at lunch and then 600 or so in the evening. Others, like me, like to bash out 1667 words in a single sitting.

2. Have a plan

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Even if you just intend to make it up as you go along, some sort of plan can really help.

I found that when I had my chapters planned out with three to five bullet points of what would happen, I got to 75,000 words in 28 days. I was a bit pleased with myself that year.

Other years I simply have a destination in mind and an idea of who the characters are. Then, when I get stuck (and I do get stuck often) I simply have to ask myself what will carry me towards the destination. Then I write that.

3. Don’t try to be perfect

necessary mess

This is a first draft. You are allowed to have spelling errors, continuity errors, passages that make no sense, and holding text. There is nothing wrong with writing something like “write a scene where he apologizes and add it here“.

We’ve talked before about embracing necessary mess. Embrace the messiness of your process and just write something. This is the only way this will work. You have a lot of words to get out and not all of them will be gems. However, it is far easier to revise a bad manuscript than it is to write a great one from scratch when all you have is a blank page.

4. Give yourself wriggle room

By Pete Nawrocky (Pete Nawrocky) [CC BY-SA 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Pete Nawrocky (Pete Nawrocky) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Life can get in the way of the best plans. So factor that in to your timetable.

I like to try and have some super sprints near the beginning so I can take it easy at the mid point. This is a marathon after all.

Another thing I like to do is plan days when I will be able to do a lot more writing. Those days, I unplug the phone, disconnect the Internet, and pretend I’m not in. Stuff gets written.

5. Have fun with it

group
Make it fun.

When writing feels like play and not work, it is easier to stay motivated. I created a whole RPG setting from one year’s NaNoWriMo.

Sometimes it can be fun to simply put interesting characters “on the stage” and let the situation play out. He said this – she said that… And so on until suddenly you have pages of amusing dialogue and a whole bunch of new subplots.

Whatever you do – enjoy writing your story. Write it however you want to. Have fun; make art.

6. Ignore the blowhards

Canute rebukes his courtiers
Ignore people that are full of it.

The sad fact of life is that there will always be pompous blowhards that tell you it cannot be done and everything you write sucks. Or worse, egotistical blowhards who tell you that you are doing it wrong.

What do they know anyway? You are the one writing a novel. There are just sitting there failing and trying to bring you down with them.

Politely thank them for their opinion as you swiftly show them the door and forget they ever spoke.

The same goes for well meaning folks that tell you everything you have written is bad, derivative, or no good. They are not in your target readership and don’t understand what a privilege you offered them by letting them see an early draft.

If you are really stuck for decent feedback get along to a NaNoWriMo write in, or – if you live in Thanet – a Thanet Creative event like Tea and Chat.

7. Write every single day

Just make words…

Remember that we said that 50,000 words is just 1,667 if you break it up. The secret source is to just write. Every day. Write even if you write crap. Write when you have inspiration. Write when you are clueless. Just get words down on the page.

There are all sorts of tricks WriMos (people that take part in NaNoWriMo) use to get word counts up.

Dares, character arguments, dreams (I don’t like these), sprints, poems, fireside chats, challenges, and all sorts of things like that. NaNoWriMo have a whole forum dedicated to word count advice, including down and dirty tricks to get the word count going.

8. Attend write-ins

woman typing writing
Write-ins are cool.

Write-ins are where WriMos get together and write – together. These have proven to be incredibly motivational for a lot of people.

Here is some information (official) about NaNoWriMo write-ins happening in Thanet. There may be unofficial gatherings but try an official one first.

9. Tell everyone what you are doing

exchange of ideas
Spread the word

This may seem like strange advice but this was what I did the very first NaNoWriMo I did. I literally told every human being I met for the month leading up and then all of November. The very next time I met any of these humans, most of them asked how the novel was going.

I cannot tell you how motivating it is to know that failure will be quite that public. Just needing to be able to say “yes, my word count is on target” was now the guiding point of my day.

Tell everyone. Brag about your novel which will have a first draft by December. Not only will people be impressed that you even have part of a  novel draft but, should you hit 50,000, in their eyes, you can call yourself a writer forever.

If you are feeling brave, you could blog each days writing so people can read it as you write it. Grab a free Author Buzz UK blog if you need a blog.

10. Just don’t give up

Do not listen to the Dark Editor. As you write, self-doubt will set in. Ignore it. Ignore it as hard as you can.

Dark Editor
Ignore the dark editor

Whatever it takes, just keep writing. Never give up, never surrender.

You are a writer now.

NaNoWriMo in Thanet

October 29, 2018 in events by Matthew Brown

Every year millions of people challenge themselves to write a novel in a month and then actually do it – the even is called NaNoWriMo. 

What is NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is a charity that raises over a million US Dollars each year to support enabling creative expression through writing. they do this by challenging people to write a novel (yes an entire novel) in just one month.

Official NaNoWriMo write-ins

Despite certain groups locally making a big noise about running NaNoWriMo events, I strongly urge you to check the Kent ML section of the NaNoWriMo website to find official and recognised NaNoWriMo events.

Make sure that the event you attend supports NaNoWriMo and not someone trying to cash in the event’s popularity. You can find events in Kent (including those in Thanet) on the NaNoWriMo website.

NaNoWriMo: Thanet

Currently, there is only one official Thanet NaNoWriMo event hosted by Helen J Perry. The writing event takes place each Sunday between 10:30 and 16:00 at the Turner Contemporary cafe – Rendezvous.

At the write in, writers come together and, well, write. The sense of not writing alone can help you to stay motivated and just get something written.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo support at Thanet Creative

If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo, you can bet your fellow Thanet Creatives are too. Why not bring along some of what you have been writing and share it?

If you are looking for low-key write ins during the month our lovely group will be more than happy to talk about setting one or two up. Remember there is already the official write ins each Sunday and on other days if you have access to transport out of Thanet. But if you want to meet up for a casual coffee and some writing company, we can do that too.

Cover: Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Novelists Writer’s Circle

October 24, 2018 in events by Matthew Brown

Self-published novelist Lee Russell is looking to set up a writer’s circle of no more than 6 of Thanet’s writers.

Lee recently posted in the Thanet Creative: Writers group on Facebook in the hopes of finding like-minded authors looking to work together. Thanet Creative was founded to help support and encourage writing (and creativity in general) so we are very excited about Lee’s plans.

Writer’s Circle Pitch

Within the Circle we will talk directly with each other when we want to share work for feedback and advice – I won’t be functioning as an Admin/secretary for that. I will organise a monthly Skype meetup so we can share experiences, sound each other out, ask for help etc.

Lee Russell

Find out more

If this sounds like something you would like to be involved with you can find how to contact Lee by reading his post in our group.

Getting Started with Story Writing

October 19, 2018 in being-a-writer by Matthew Brown

Getting started as a writer can often be the most intimidating part of the whole writing process. However, getting started need not be too much of a big deal. In this post, I hope to show you that the most important part of getting started is to, well, just get started.

Stories are essentially very simple things. The basics of every story look something like this:

Every story is, at its heart, this: An entity wants something while another entity is moving in the opposite direction. They contend until one prevails.

Chose your approach

There is more than one way to get started with writing – the writing itself or the planning of the writing. You could say that there are basically two approaches to writing a story.

  1. Start planning and write later.
  2. Start writing with no plan at all.

Some people will try to tell you that only one of these is the right way but the truth is: If it works for you, it is right for you. There is nothing wrong with trying out a few different approaches and seeing what works for you.

Less planning generally means more revising later while more planning means fewer opportunities to go off on tangents. Whichever you pick some stages are going to feel like work. Sorry but that’s just the nature of the beast.

Pick a story you really care about telling. That way when you get to a part that feels like hard work, your passion for the story will carry you through. Regardless of your approach to getting started your first draft is likely to be messy – this is normal.

Don’t worry about point of view

Something that can stop you getting started is to worry about point of view too much. First person, third person, (funky weird second person), past tense, present tense prophetic future tense, omniscient narrator, limited narrator, reliable or unreliable, multiple, single… You have so many options that you could spend a lifetime exploring them and never getting started.

Instead, just pick one that is similar to the books you read most often and run with it. You will soon know if it is right for you. If in doubt stick to the past tense (trust me, this will save you many headaches) and pick a character to tell the story or narrate it as some outsider (you) telling the story. Then just run with it.

Thinking about the protagonist

When getting started, you are (most likely) going to begin with your protagonist (the person the story is about). Most of the time, the protagonist is the entity that wants something.

A solid protagonist may leap fully formed onto the page but more often than not, they will be a someone you shape over time. Regardless of if you explore this in planning or when telling the story, you should consider getting to know your character.

In the Author Buzz UK forums, there is a thread filled with interview questions for your protagonist. One way to get to know your character is to write an interview with them and see what pops out.

Here are a few questions you might like to ponder.

  • Who is your protagonist?
  • What do they want?
  • How do they plan to get it?
  • What stands in their way?
  • How do they handle setbacks?

Thinking about the setting

Stories take place in a location. Well, unless you are writing some concept piece that is literally set nowhere. For those of us that like getting started with our writing without much of a plan (or no plan at all) we discover the place as we write. Those of us that plan, tend to have a good idea of the setting before we begin. If your setting is the real world, you may already be quite familiar with the setting.

Either in your first draft or later drafts, you will want to give your readers a sense of place.

Some questions you might like to explore either in first draft or planning (depending on your approach).

  • Where is the protagonist?
  • Where do they come from?
  • What are the notable features of the setting?
  • Will the setting itself help or hinder the protagonist?
  • How does the setting influence character attitudes?

Getting started

All you need to do now is stop reading and start writing. Except you are probably thinking “where do I start?”

In almost all cases the best place to start a story is the moment the first interesting thing happens. The first part you should write, however, is whatever part you feel like.

The sooner you start writing, the sooner you will be a writer.

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