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Creative Writing: Beginning

By Creativity, ThinkingNo Comments

In this three part blog post series, I’ll be sharing some of what I’ve learned about creative writing over the last few years.

I want to start this blog post with a short video, which is just over a minute long. In this video Stephen King describes a magic moment after reading a book where you think to yourself: This really sucks. I can do better than this. This magic moment is usually the trigger for someone starting to write creatively. But what drives a Writer is a need or deep desire to tell a story.

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Inkwell & Quill.
(Image Copyright: Sye Watts/Antony Simpson.)

1. The Idea
The idea should be imaginative and well thought out. No idea is orignal, everything has been done. But what makes new literature unique, is the Writer’s showing and telling of the story. The unique voice of the Writer.

2. Scope & Size
Consider the scope and size of the story before you begin. According to Wikipedia here are approximate recommended word counts for different types of creative writing projects:

Short story – under 7,500 words
Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
Novella – 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novel – over 40,000 words
(From: Wikipedia, Last Accessed: 11/02/2016)

I would add in word counts for the following:
Blog Posts – Up to 1,500 words
Flash Fiction – 200-300 words
Poems – Unknown, but generally quite short.
Music Lyrics – Unknown.

If journalism is your thing, online magazine The Gay UK has submission guidelines for word counts. They are as follows and likely to be inline with industry standards:
Reviews: 300 – 500 words
Interviews: 1000 – 2500 words
Columns: 400 – 1000 words
News item: 500 – 900 words
Top List: 300 – 500 words

These word counts are not set in stone, you are allowed to be a little under or be a little over. But if you are hundreds, or even thousands of words over, then the scope of your idea is either too big or you are likely to have overwritten and will need to cut in the editing. Editing will be discussed in detail in the next blog post of the series.

If you are planning to submit a piece of creative writing somewhere, ensure you know the word count limits before you start and adhere to the word count. It is unlikely that the person or people reading submissions will read a piece of work over their stated word count. No matter how good it is.

Next let’s discuss essential elements of any story.

3. Characters
Characters should be:

  • Believable.
  • Interesting.
  • Flawed.
  • Have room for growth and grow throughout the story, or the part of the story that they are in.
  • Be three dimensional and as complex as any person that you know.

Characters don’t have to be likeable or liked by the reader. In books that I’ve read, some of my favourite characters are bastards. If people read your work and care for your characters, you’re doing well. If readers are disinterested, don’t care, are irritated or frustrated by your characters, then you have some more character development work to do.

4. Storyline / Plot
Every story should have a Beginning, Middle and End. There needs to be conflict and resolution. Plot should be captivating. It should not have long periods where nothing happens. Be aware of genre conventions. It’s okay to make the reader work for the story, but don’t make them have to work too hard. Bare in mind The Seven Basic Plots:

  • Overcoming the Monster
  • Rags to Riches
  • The Quest
  • Voyage and Return
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Rebirth

A great article on plots, one that I would recommend every Creative Writer should read is The “Basic” Plots in Literature.

5. Research
If your story is set in the past, another country, or has a character with specialist knowledge you as the Writer need to do the research. You need to make yourself an expert in subject matters related to your story. Although you need to be an expert, you don’t need to show or tell the reader everything that you know.

6. Perspective
The choice of perspective is really important when writing any story. You can show and tell the story from character’s perspective, omniscient perspective or from several perspectives. A good article on perspectives is available here: The Writers Craft – Point of View in Literature.

7. Pacing
Pacing is bit of an art. Elongated sentences with detailed description helps to slow down a scene. Whereas, short. Sharp. Snappy sentences speed up scenes. Short sentences are ideal for action scenes.

8. Other Tips
You should write lots. Every day if possible. Writing, like anything, people get better at the more they practice it.

Get the show and tell balance right. Generally show more than you tell.

Your story should have hooks, things that grab the readers attention and encourage your reader to read on.

As a Writer you should read lots. Especially in the genre you wish to write in. If you’re unsure what genre you want to write in or type of story you want to write, read a variety. But don’t just passively read. Study the things you read. Look at the elements mentioned above, along with what you liked and disliked about the work. Try to understand:

  • What did the Writer do? Did they do it well or not?
  • Where in the piece of work did the Writer do what they did?
  • Why the Writer might have done what they did?
  • How did the Writer do what they did?

In the next blog post of the series, I’ll be writing about keeping going, the development of the Writer’s voice and the importance of backing-up your work.

Want to share your thoughts on writing? Leave a comment below.

Write soon,


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Book Review: Above by Isla Morley

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
Above-Isla-Morely-Book-Cover Wow! Above by Isla Morley is amazing and phenomenal. I’ve never described a book as phenomenal before, but it really is the best word to describe this novel. You’ll be missing out on something incredible if you don’t read this story. Let me tell what it’s about:

Blythe is 16 years old when she is offered a lift home by librarian Dobbs. She accepts and he abducts her. Dobbs is convinced that the world is going to end and takes her to an underground missile silo. Below ground she shall live for years, have a child and eventually return Above ground. But will the world be as it was or how she imagines it to be? Above is Blythe’s story. If you think you’ve got an idea what’s going to happen – you really don’t.

Above is written from Blythe’s perspective and in present tense, which is excellent as it enables the reader to emotionally connect with her from the first page.

Blythe is a loveable character as is her son, Adam, who is born about midway through the book. Adam is wonderfully innocent, curious and stubborn. Traits that become clear when they finally escape the silo. All of the characters were well thought out and it was great to read their development throughout the story.

Above is perfectly paced and has a well plotted storyline. It was captivating and there were times I couldn’t put it down. It felt like an emotional roller coaster; every time something good would happen it was followed by something bad. I felt for Blythe who above ground discovers she has lost so much, but can’t give up or breakdown because of Adam.

The description is superb throughout with a Morley showing the story rather than telling it. There’s some particularly beautiful description, particularly when Blythe & Adam are above ground.

Above has been unfairly compared with Room by Emma Donoghue. Yes the idea starts similarly, but the telling and direction of Above are completely different. Above is darker, more beautiful and a somewhat sentimental read.

Above causes the reader to question and examine their own moral compass. It made me reconsider my perspectives on life and the world around me. Above is let down by a weak ending, one that left Marcus’ character at a loose end. However the reader can and does forgive Morley for this.

Above is an absolute must read and is available to buy on Amazon. Morley is such a fantastic storyteller that I will be buying Come Sunday, her first book and be keeping a close eye out for her next one.

Review soon,



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Book Review: The Wolf in His Arms (Runes Trilogy Book 2) by Adrian Lilly

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
wolf-in-his-arms-cover-adrian-lilly The Wolf in His Arms is the second book in the Runes Trilogy. The first book is The Wolf at His Door, which I reviewed here.

Alec & Jared the gay, werewolf lovers are back. With Lucy, Alec’s sister, they set out to reveal the truth about what happened to them by decoding documents they found in a underground lab and to find their pack. But they are not the only ones looking for their pack. The Wolfs are hunting members their pack and offering them a choice: join them or they’ll kill them and their family.

Along the way, Alec & Jared are at it like rabbits while Lucy is coming to terms with her new inner wolf. They track-down other members of their pack including:

Maxwell another gay werewolf and his best friend Haley, and Nadia and her mother Helena.

Alec, Jared & Lucy discover the Wolfs have much bigger ambitions, than just recruiting their pack. The Wolfs are bent on world domination and already have a plan set into action. Alec, Jared & Lucy decide they must stop them. They learn about the elusive Tutelars, protectors of humans. Will the Tutelars recognise that Alec, Lucy and Co are trying to help or just seem them as another pack of werewolfs?

The story builds to a fantastic ending as the Wolfs set their plan into full motion, sending human society into panic and disarray. Can Alex, Jared and Co stop them or is it too late? This is where the book ends and it leaves the reader wanting more.

The Wolf in His Arms is written in third person with a good show and tell balance. It keeps the reader hooked throughout with it’s fast-paced, ever-twisting storyline. The Wolf in His Arms is a brilliant, superb and reasonably told story.

At times, a lack of editing did let The Wolf in His Arms down. It was repetitive on occasion, overly used description of weather – which wasn’t always consistent and used dialogue tags that distracted from the dialogue.

I recommend reading The Wolf at His Door before The Wolf in His Arms. The Wolf in His Arms gives an adequate backstory, but doesn’t give the reader the same emotional connection as The Wolf at His Door does. I can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

The Wolf in His Arms is available in ebook format only and its short chapters mean that it is perfect to read on bus, train or tube to work. The Wolf in His Arms is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,


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Film Review: I Want Your Love (DVD)

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
I Want Your Love is collaborative film between gay porn studio NakedSword and independent filmmaker Travis Mathews.

Jesse is an aspiring artist who feels creatively blocked because of the state his finances and his massive amount of debt. After spending the last decade in San Francisco, Jessie decides to move back home to his parents in Ohio, the Midwest to free himself of the financial pressure.

I Want Your Love is the story of his last weekend in San Francisco with his friends, roommates and ex-lovers coming to his leaving party.

i-want-your-love-1 Sex plays an important role within this film and there are uncensored sex scenes from the start. Sex is used to show character development, intimacy, move the storyline along and the development of friendships: those that start with clear defined boundaries but turn into something more – entering that grey area between friend and lover.

Whatever type of man you’re into, you’ll find them in this film and I can guarantee that they’ll be in a graphic, all-exposed sex scene. Whether your taste be: bears, twinks, older, younger, white, black, asian, muscly, ordinary or just an all-round lover of all.

The film is extremely erotic and at times felt like watching a porn film. There’s even a threesome scene. The obligatory porn “I’m going to come!” scene followed by – well use your imagination, makes several appearances in this film. Arguably the storyline gets lost at times in the incredibly hot, but distracting sex.

i-want-you-love-2 Jesse is completely likeable, relatable and discovers that he’s searching for his true self. Over the course of the weekend he redefines what it means to him to be an artist, gay, and an adult. However the ending was a bit of an anti-climax.

It’s brilliantly directed and shot in a way that makes you feel like your sharing the characters most intimate moments. I Want Your Love is at times: funny, emotionally touching, romantic and sentimental as well as being abundantly horny throughout.

There were slow scenes of sparse dialogue that were followed by peaks of rampant high-paced sex. There was an annoying character – one who really grated, but luckily he wasn’t in the film much.

Mathews stated that he wanted to give an ‘honest and relevant’ representation of everyday gay life for men in San Francisco. I’m not from San Francisco so I can’t comment; but if that’s what it is really like – get me on a plane!

I Want Your Love is the perfect film to watch with your partner or other very close friends – not only thoroughly entertaining, it will give you plenty of ideas in the bedroom department. I Want Your Love [DVD] is available to pre-order/order on Amazon.

Review soon,



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