Common Grammar Mistakes I

Guest blogger of Common Grammar Mistakes I, Tyrone Couch, is a Queensland University of Technology student. He's completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Creative Writing. Tyrone is currently undertaking a 100-hour internship with Gail Tagarro The Book Writing Coach of editors4you

Hello and welcome! This is the first in a series of articles intended to identify and demystify some of the most common grammar mistakes that writers make, valiantly kept at bay by their trusty editing companions.

picture of pink rose on white grammar book for post common grammar mistakes I
Common Grammar Mistakes I

English is an incredibly complex language made up of many moving parts, and this is most apparent in its grammar. For almost every rule, there is a caveat or exception just waiting to catch you and your manuscript off-guard. Though this can be frustrating at times, it can also be leveraged to bring depth, complexity and order to your prose. In future articles, we will take a closer look at some of the ways this can be achieved.

For today, however, our goal is to tackle some of the simpler matters that often catch even the most diligent of writers unawares. Are you guilty of making any of these functional faux-pas in your writing practice? Read on and find out!

i.e. versus e.g.

Writes often use these two abbreviations interchangeably to clarify the statement that came before them. But did you know they have completely different functions?

i.e. stands for ‘id est,’ a Latin phrase translating roughly to ‘that is’:

            The king was not fond of the common folk, i.e. he hated them with a passion.

On the other hand, e.g. stands for ‘exempli gratia,’ or ‘for example’:

            The king often made sport of the common folk, e.g. forcing them to dance for hours.

In the first example, i.e. provides an alternative phrasing of the initial statement. In the second, e.g. gives a direct example of the initial statement. The best way to remember the difference between the two and know when to use them is to think of i.e. as in other words, and e.g. as for example.

Misplacement of Apostrophe in Possessive Noun

True to its name, a possessive noun is a noun that possesses (or owns) something. When a noun is in possession of a single entity, this is indicated by adding ’s to the end of it:

            I went to watch my daughter’s soccer game.

In this example, it is implied that the speaker has one daughter participating in the soccer game. It is common for authors to misrepresent this by instead following the noun by s’:

            I went to watch my daughters’ soccer game.

Placing the apostrophe after the s (as opposed to before) changes the meaning of the sentence. It indicates that the speaker has more than one daughter participating in the game. (Note that if the speaker did have multiple daughters playing in the same game, this would be a perfectly valid statement.)

Here are some rules to follow to ensure the apostrophe is placed correctly:

  • If the noun is singular, place the apostrophe before the s, e.g. the woman’s glasses (there is one woman)
    • A notable exception to this rule is when the noun ends in the letter s, e.g. the actress’ reflection
  • If the noun is plural, place the apostrophe after the s, e.g. the womens’ glasses (there are various women)

Passive Voice

The passive voice is less black and white in terms of its status as an error, as sometimes it is appropriate. However, generally, it should be used sparingly and only when necessary. To better understand the passive voice, let us first define its opposite, the active voice. In the active voice, a subject performs a verb’s action:

            David appreciates Julie.

On the other hand, the passive voice occurs when a subject is acted upon by a verb:

            Julie is appreciated by David.

As you can see, the meaning of the statement is unchanged but it is more clearly and succinctly communicated in the active voice example. Also, the focus of the statement changes depending on whether it is said in the active voice or the passive voice. In the active voice example, David’s feelings towards Julie are foregrounded. In the passive voice example, Julie becomes the subject, and David’s feelings for her are made secondary.

While the passive voice example is still grammatically correct, the active voice is encouraged in most types of writing: it is less awkward and it does not distance the reader from the writing.

The passive voice is often used on signs and in instructions: Entry forbidden (short for ‘entry is forbidden’), Masks must be worn, No smoking allowed, Trespassers will be prosecuted. In these situations it is perfectly acceptable and correct. To use the active voice would sound very strange.

That’s all for Common Grammar Mistakes I. Tune in next time for Part II, where we will cover:

  • En Dash vs Em Dash
  • Use of Semicolons
  • Incomplete Comparisons

See you next time!


Acknowledgement: Image by Liza Ulyanova from Pexels


Some Resources

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

The Australian Editing Handbook, Third Edition, 2014, by Elizabeth Flann, Beryl Hill and Lan Wang. Wiley, Qld.

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell audiobook

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Writers Connect Newsletter Issue 42

Welcome to the Writers Connect newsletter Issue 42.

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for writers connect newsletter issue 41
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Inspirational Quote
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing

Competitions featured in this issue of Writers Connect cater to poets, short story and essay writers. Closing dates are from 19—30 April 2021.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

Comp 1: The Emerging Poet Prize

This competition is for emerging poets with fewer than two full-length collections out at the time of submission.

About: The organisers accept simultaneous submissions but ask that you let them know if your work is picked up elsewhere. They also accept multiple submissions, but each submission includes the reading fee. Only unpublished work is accepted

Open to: International – any poet writing in English. Other languages are accepted, ‘as long as the meat of the poem is in English’

Word count: No word count or page requirement, but up to 3 poems only – to be submitted in 1 document

Theme/Genre: Poetry

Entry fee: $20

Closes: 19 April 2021

Prize: First = $3,000 + publication. Second = $300 + publication. Third = $200 + publication

Find out more: https://www.palettepoetry.com/current-contest/

Comp 2: Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

This is a literary award for a first full-length book of poetry in the English language.

About: Manuscripts being considered by other publishers are allowed, but if a manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere, you must notify the Press in writing

Open to: International. Any poet writing in English who has not had a full-length book of poetry published previously.  A ‘full-length book’ of poetry is defined as a volume of 48 or more pages published in an edition of 500 or more copies

Word count: 48100 typescript pages

Theme/Genre: Poetry

Entry fee: $ US25

Closes: 30 April 2021

Prize: First = $5,000 + publication by University of Pittsburgh Press as part of the Pitt Poetry Series

Submission guidelines: https://upittpress.org/starrett-prize-submission-guidelines/

Comp 3: Author of Tomorrow

This competition is designed to find the adventure writers of the future.

About: This is an annual competition open to young people anywhere in the world who have completed a short piece of adventure writing in English

Open to: International, in English

Word count: 5,000 (depending on age – see Prize below)

Theme/Genre: A short adventure story

Entry fee: Free

Closes: 30 April 2021

Prize: Category 1: 16 to 21 years.£1,000. 1,500—5,000 words. Category 2: 12 to 15 years. £100 + £150 in book tokens for your school/ library/charity. 1,500—5,000 words. Category 3: 11 and under. £100 + £150 in book tokens for your school/library/charity. Up to 500 words. Each shortlisted author also has their work digitally published

Submissions: https://www.wilbur-niso-smithfoundation.org/index.php/awards/author-of-tomorrow-2019/submissions

Comp 4: Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest (repeated from prev issue)

This contest with an open theme accepts stories and essays. Stories are considered works of fiction, and essays are short works of nonfiction.

About: You can submit an unlimited number of entries. Entries may be published or unpublished

Open to: International. No restriction on age of author. All countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Crimea (due to US government restrictions)

Word count: 6,000 maximum

Theme/Genre: Theme is open. Genres accepted are: fictional story, or nonfiction essay

Entry fee: $20 per entry

Closes: 30 April 2021

Prize: First = $3,000 best story & $3,000 best essay. Top two winners receive gift certificates from co-sponsor. 10 Honourable Mentions receive $200 each (any category). Top 12 entries published online

Further details: https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/tom-howard-john-h-reid-fiction-essay-contest

Word of the Day

popple

This is a verb that means ‘to tumble around like the bubbles in a boiling liquid’. It comes to us from Middle English, around 1150 to 1450, and is probably onomatopoeic (imitating the sound associated with the word).

Inspirational Quote

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anythingMark Twain (American writer, humourist, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer, 1835—1910).

Writing Tip

Take a break to get a fresh perspective on your writing. This doesn’t mean procrastinate! I’m referring to when a chapter won’t flow for you even after you’ve been working on it relentlessly. Going for a walk out in the fresh air or even changing activities at home can work wonders for a tired mind. Because you’ll still unconsciously be thinking about your book, you may be amazed by the flashes of inspiration that come your way.


For any feedback on Writers Connect Newsletter Issue 42, or to ask about our services, drop us an email or give us a call 0405 695 534

Book Writing Coach: ask about our exciting new book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line
Gail Tagarro Book Writing Coach
Professional Editing

The Power of Words

Back in the 1980s, in a new role, I quickly latched onto the power of words. I had just started in the role of communications manager in a small business. We produced all communications for a local government body. This included their organisation-wide documentation – policies, procedures, IT manuals and user guides.

One of my first tasks was to pull together a small team of writers.

As part of the shortlisting process, I set applicants a writing test and then let all the applicants know, in writing, whether they were moving forward to interview based on their writing skills.

One of the unsuccessful applicants took umbrage at what he considered my undiplomatic wording. While this was unintentional, the applicant was very unhappy and upset.

My boss, who was fully supportive of my decision, nevertheless said, ‘Gail, we have to be so careful of the written word. Once it’s committed to paper, it can’t be taken back, and words can so easily be misinterpreted.’

Lesson: ever since, I have been mindful of the power of words.

Whenever I write an email even, I check the tone of it. If the subject of the email is challenging, or the recipient is very sensitive, I’ll often write it and then set it aside for a day or two, coming back to it and inevitably changing some of the wording before I’m satisfied it ticks all the boxes of diplomacy!

Spoken words are powerful too

Of course, spoken words are also powerful. We’ve all heard the expression, ‘People may not remember what you said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.’

We don’t know how people reading or hearing our words will interpret them, so it’s wise to always be mindful of the power of our words.

Leaving a legacy

When we write a book, I believe we do so through a subconscious desire to leave a legacy. Whether you’re writing your book as your business card to position you as an expert in your field, or for pleasure, you’re leaving a legacy either for your business community or for your family.

Even those whose aspiration it is to write a literary masterpiece, or a bestseller, in my experience, deep down, they are wanting to leave a legacy of some sort.

Writing your book as your business card

What does writing a book as your business card mean? It means that not only does it help you position yourself as an expert in your field, but you can use it as leverage at speaking events, in front of clients, in your program if you have one, and at business expos.

Over the years, you have accumulated a huge amount of knowledge in your specialist area. You have a unique set of experiences, and a unique take on your field of expertise. This unique approach to your subject can be very valuable to others who have less experience in that field.

The more mature we are, the more wisdom, knowledge and experience we can bring to our book, and the more valuable it is to our potential readership.

Deciding if you should write a book: 3 tips

If you’re unsure whether you should write a book, or if you have enough material for a book, first ask yourself these three questions:

  • Firstly and importantly, who’s your target audience?
  • Secondly, what have you got to say that is different from other books on the topic?
  • Thirdly, what ways will your book appeal to your readers – what will they get out of it that is new and different?

Another story about the power of words

A friend with a wife and young family told me that he and his wife recently had an appointment with a financial planner.

During the course of the meeting, the financial planner mentioned the word insurance. My friend related to this, because he was focused on asset and wealth protection. However, he noticed that his wife tensed up and disengaged from the financial planner as soon as he said it. Fortunately, the financial planner also noticed her reaction and changed tack, asking instead, ‘How do you feel about protection for your family?’

Her response immediately changed and she replied that of course she was interested in protecting their family.

Why did her reaction change so dramatically? Because the financial planner was now speaking her language. He had said the same thing, only with different words that made all the difference for her.

The power of words – everywhere

Everywhere we look, whatever we hear, we see evidence of the power of words. The algorithms of social media platforms such as Facebook work on the words that businesses use to present their offers to potential clients. How we react to the words and the way someone speaks to us evidences the power of words.

Choose your words well

Whether you’re writing a book as your business card, a novel, a self-help book, your memoirs … through the power of your words you are leaving a powerful legacy.

It’s important to get those powerful words right.


Gail Tagarro is a Book Writing Coach and Accredited Editor. She works with writers in any genre, fiction and nonfiction.


Acknowledgements

Images: Ocean by Griffin Wooldridge from Pexels; letters by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels


Get Your Book to the Finish Line Book Coaching Program

Have you been wanting to write a book forever? But you have no idea where or how to start writing? You’ve never written a book before and the idea scares you witless? Good news: I have the answer and I’d love to help you! Through my book coaching program, you’ll have a first draft of your book sooner than you could have thought possible.

Book a free discovery call with me

What other authors have you helped?

I’ve been helping authors with their books since the early 2000s. A small selection of more recent authors I’ve worked with are: Adam Bude The Art of Authentic Selling (business, non-fiction), Don Horsfall The Empyrean Quest (fiction, philosophical), Deb Peden 100 Ways to a Healthy 100 (nonfiction, health), Bianca Williams The Sidelined Series (fiction, rom-com), David Alomes First Adult Series (fiction, sci-fi).

Do you have any client reviews I can check out?

Sure do! Read my reviews here: Google Business, Facebook

Also check out some client testimonials

Writers Connect Newsletter Issue 41

Welcome to the Writers Connect newsletter Issue 41.

notebook coffee pencil sunglasses in cafe for writers connect newsletter issue 41
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Humorous Quote
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing

Competitions featured in this issue of Writers Connect! cater to writers pretty much across the board. Closing dates are from 1—30 April 2021.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

Comp 1: The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize 2021

There are a few rules to this competition ,but it’s free to enter and has a very generous winning prize.

About: Entrymust not have been published, self-published, accepted for publication in print or online, or have won or been placed in another competition at any time (including the Alpine Fellowship Academic Writing Prize)

Open to: International 18+. Limited to one entry per person

Word count: 2,500

Theme/Genre: All genres, e.g. prose, poetry, non-academic essays. Must be standalone, not extracts from a larger piece

Entry fee: Free

Closes: 1 April 2021

Prize: First = £10,000. Second = £3,000. Third = £2,000. The winner and two runners-up invited to attend the Fjällnäs symposium

Further details: https://alpinefellowship.com/writing-prize

Comp 2: Sana Romance Writing Contest

Sana Stories is a mobile app developed by 10th Muse for reading interactive fiction. For writers, Sana Stories is a self-publishing platform where anyone can publish interactive stories and receive royalties.

About: All stories submitted must be interactive, meaning they must have at least one choice between two different scenes for the reader to choose from. The stories must be written or transcribed with the original free-to-use Sana Writing Tool for interactive stories.

Open to: International. Participants can submit any number of stories. Submissions must be written in English

Word count: 5,000 minimum, no maximum

Theme: ‘Slow burn’

Genre: Romance

Entry fee: Free

Closes: 11 April 2021

Prize: First = 500€. Second = 200€. Third = 100€

Find out more: https://www.sanastories.com/writing-contests

Comp 3: F(r)iction Spring 2021 Writing Contest

F(r)iction is a journal that ‘ pushes the boundaries of traditional publishing’. They look for work with complex characters and a strong narrative arc, making readers feel something as they read it.

About: The organisers are looking for stories they haven’t seen before. This might be twisting or playing with genre, setting, language, voice …

Open to: International 13+

Word count: Short stories: 1,001 – 7,500. Flash fiction (up to three pieces in the same document): up to 1,000 words per piece. Poetry (up to five poems in the same document): up to three pages per poem. Creative nonfiction: up to 6,000

Theme/Genre: Categories available are short story, flash fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction

Entry fee: $10 –$15 depending on genre

Closes: 29 April 2021

Prize: First = $1,000

More info: https://frictionlit.org/contests/

Comp 4: Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

This contest with an open theme accepts stories and essays. Stories are considered works of fiction, and essays are short works of nonfiction.

About: You can submit an unlimited number of entries. Entries may be published or unpublished

Open to: International. No restriction on age of author. All countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Crimea (due to US government restrictions)

Word count: 6,000 maximum

Theme/Genre: Theme is open.Genres accepted are: fictional story, or nonfiction essay

Entry fee: $20 per entry

Closes: 30 April 2021

Prize: First = $3,000 best story & $3,000 for best essay. Top two winners receive gift certificates from co-sponsor. 10 Honourable Mentions receive $200 each (any category). Top 12 entries published online

Further details: https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/tom-howard-john-h-reid-fiction-essay-contest

Word of the Day

kangaroo word

This one’s quite cute and very Australian. According to the Macquarie Dictionary blog of 2 March, the term is being considered for the dictionary. A kangaroo word contains all the letters of one of its synonyms (known as a ‘joey word’). For example, ‘masculine’ contains all the letters for ‘male’.

Humorous Quote

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing—Margaret Chittenden (1935—), writer of short stories, articles, children’s books, and novels.

Writing Tip

Avoid using redundant phrases in your writing. An example is, ‘I’ll see you at 9 am in the morning.’ ‘am’ already indicates it’s morning. To make it clear that it’s the next day, you’d say, ‘I’ll see you at 9 am tomorrow’, or ‘I’ll see you at 9 in the morning.’ By avoiding redundancies, you’re making space for that truly engaging writing you’re capable of. You’ll find more examples here: Common Redundant Phrases and How to Avoid Them


For any feedback on Writers Connect Newsletter Issue 41, or to ask about our services, drop us an email or give us a call 0405 695 534

Book Writing Coach: ask about our exciting new book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line
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Professional Editing
Manuscript Appraisal

Trends in Writing for 2021

Many writers focus on writing their book, to the exclusion of everything else: how they plan to publish, what mediums they’ll use to promote and sell their book, and so on. It’s understandable, because writing is all-consuming. To a large extent, you have to be focused on simply getting the book written. However, it can be helpful to peer out of your writing space every now and then and observe the larger world. These trends in writing for 2021 will be especially helpful for writers in the planning stages of their book.

girl writing 2021 for post trends in writing for 2021

Publishing: the Indie Model

Clayton Noblit gives ten trends in writing for 2021 in his article (see Acknowledgements). These include the rise of the indie model, i.e. self-publishing. This is no surprise – most of my authors tend to self-publish, as have I. However, what is a surprise is that various well-known authors are now also choosing to follow this path.

Children and Young Adult (YA)

Annabel Barker, an Australian literary agent representing Australian writers and illustrators for children and YA, states seven trends in writing for 2021 in her article (see Acknowledgements). Among these are the increase in popularity of graphic novels, a trend that began in the United States around five years ago.

After so many of us worldwide have been confined to home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Barker predicts a rise in children’s and YA books on the themes of ‘getting outside’ and ‘getting back to basics’.

person drawing COVID for post trends in writing for 2021

Writers’ Centres and Trends in Writing for 2021

The menu of available courses in writers’ centres can be indicative of writing trends. An obvious writing trend for 2021 is the move to online courses. This is a superb opportunity for writers. The cost of delivering an online course is much lower than an in-person workshop, and that cost benefit is passed on to registrants.

It’s great to see some writers’ centres offering courses on increasing technology literacy for writers. The Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society in Calgary, Canada, for example, offers a course Website Basics For Writers.

The Australian Writers’ Centre offers Build Your Author Platform, and Self-Publish Your Novel on Kindle.

Trends that Never Change

Good writing technique is good writing technique, regardless of era. Naturally, readers’ tastes change over time, as does what is topical. The type of writing that readers find engaging also depends on the times we live in.

There are trends that never change, though, in crafting a thoroughly engaging story. Just a few of these are nailing world-building and the setting for your book, plotting and plot structure, getting point of view right, writing to your audience, showing rather than telling as much as possible and understanding narrative arc.

Acknowledgements

Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society, https://www.alexandrawriters.org/what-we-offer/courses/, Accessed 5 March 2021

Annabel Barker, 17 July 2020, 7 trends in children’s and YA publishing, Australian Writers’ Centre, https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/7-trends-in-childrens-and-ya-publishing/, Accessed 5 March 2021

Australian Writers’ Centre, https://www.writerscentre.com.au/online-writing-courses-you-can-start-now/, Accessed 5 March 2021

Clayton Noblit, 7 January 2021, The Top Ten Publishing Trends Every Author Needs to Know In 2021, Written Word Media, https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/the-top-ten-publishing-trends-every-author-needs-to-know-in-2021/, Accessed 5 March 2021

Images acknowledgements: Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels, Photo by Meru Bi from Pexels


Gail Tagarro is a Book Writing Coach and Accredited Editor. She works with writers in any genre, fiction and nonfiction.
gail sitting at laptop for post trends in writing for 2021


Get Your Book to the Finish Line!

Have you been wanting to write a book forever? But you have no idea where or how to start? You’ve never written a book before and the idea scares you witless?

I have the answer and I’d love to help you! Through my book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line, you’ll have a first draft of your book sooner than you could have thought possible. You’ll receive weekly coaching. The quality of your content will be mind-blowing. You’ll have access to my ‘little black book’ of reputable referral partners. You’ll receive VIP discount for editorial services. All this for a fraction of what ‘all-inclusive’ ‘one size fits all’ packages cost. Less than a sixth of most ghostwriters’ starting rates. Come on the journey with me and Get Your Book to the Finish Line. Let’s have a chat. It’s free!

FAQs about Book Coaching Program Get Your Book to the Finish Line

Is your program restricted to any particular genre?

No. I can teach you how to write any genre, fiction and nonfiction. Novels, business books, memoirs … whatever you throw at me!

What if I don’t have the time?

I’ll show you ways to fit writing into your busy lifestyle.

What if I’ve never written a book before?

That’s what I’m good at: teaching you the skills to write a book and supporting you along the way.

What’s different about your book coaching program?

  • Weekly coaching!
  • Price, compared to ‘all-inclusive’ and ‘one size fits all’ packages.
  • The quality of content. Coming from an editorial perspective, not a sales angle, my focus is on quality content in your book.
  • One of a kind. You are unique, so is your author’s voice, so is how you want your book to look and feel. I respect that and work with you to produce a product you’ll be ecstatic with.
  • VIP discount for editorial services. As a participant in the program, you will receive exclusive discounts.
  • Private Facebook Mastermind Group access. You will be able to share and leverage from the learnings of other participants.
  • Access to my ‘little black book’ of reputable referral partners. Once your book is ready, you may want to be referred to other respected professionals, e.g. in cover design, marketing and promotion, etc.

What other authors have you helped?

I’ve been helping authors with their books since the early 2000s. A small selection of more recent authors I’ve worked with are: Adam Bude The Art of Authentic Selling (business, non-fiction), Don Horsfall The Empyrean Quest (fiction, philosophical), Deb Peden 100 Ways to a Healthy 100 (nonfiction, health), Bianca Williams The Sidelined Series (fiction, rom-com), David Alomes First Adult Series (fiction, sci-fi).

Do you have any client reviews I can check out?

Sure do! Read my reviews here: Google Business, Facebook

Also check out some client testimonials

Writers Connect Newsletter Issue 40

writing tools in cafe for Writers Connect newsletter issue 40

Welcome to the Writers Connect Newsletter Issue 40.

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing
  • Word of the Day. An unusual or new word to keep your writing fresh
  • Inspirational Quote
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing

Competitions featured in this issue of Writers Connect cater to poets, short story writers and flash fiction writers. Closing dates are from 8—31 March 2021.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

Comp 1: Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law – Essay Competition

‘The aim of this competition is to encourage students to explore the fascinating questions that animals rights raise, and to discuss these questions in an original piece of writing that may inspire them to engage further with the topic in the future.’

About: Entries welcomed from various disciplines – not limited to a legal perspective

Open to: International students and researchers who have not yet completed a doctoral degree. Only one entry per person

Word count: 3,000

Theme/Genre: Animal rights and law – ‘Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting?’

Entry fee: Free

Closes: 8 March 2021

Prize: First = £750, Second = £500, Third = £250

Send: Send essay, as a Word document, and CV to Dr Raffael Fasel (r.n.fasel@lse.ac.uk)

Further details: https://animalrightslaw.org/essaycompetition

Comp 2: Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction Contest

Every week during the submission period, the organisers post one-sentence dialogue writing prompts on their social media platforms. Choose a dialogue prompt that inspires you and write a story that includes the prompt.

About: All entries must be in English and include a dialogue prompt as above. Simultaneous and multiple submissions accepted (conditions apply). Submissions must be unpublished works. The social media platforms are:

twitter.com/zizzlelit
instagram.com/zizzlelit
facebook.com/zizzlelit

Open to: International

Word count: 500—1,000

Theme/Genre: Fiction that appeals to readers from age 11 to grown-ups

Entry fee: $5

Closes: 15 March 2021

Prize: First = $1,000, Second = $500, Three finalists = $150 each

Find out more: https://zizzlelit.com/contest-rules/

Comp 3: Enchanted Forest Publishing – Poetry Competition

Your poem might be about the power of love, lost love or any other take on the theme of love.

About: ‘All about love’

Open to: International

Word count: 50—500

Theme/Genre: Love

Entry fee: £5 per poem

Closes: 31 March 2021

Prize: £10, publication and copy of eBook

More info: https://enchantedforestpublishingltd.com/submissions/

Comp 4: 2021 Horror and Fantasy Short Story Contest

This free-to-enter short story competition is for either horror or fantasy.

About: Work must be original, unpublished and copyright registered (details given at link below)

Open to: International

Word count: 2,000—10,000

Theme/Genre: Horror or fantasy

Entry fee: Free

Closes: 31 March 2021

Prize: First = $50

Further details: https://pressfuls.com/2021-horror-and-fantasy/

Word of the Day

sober curious

This term made the Macquarie Dictionary’s 1 February 2021 blog on New words to watch this month. It means ‘the exploration of a life without alcohol’. You might use this term in your writing for a character who’s a habitual drinker and who habitually ends up with a hangover. Example in sentence: ‘Ronald woke up with a thumping head for the fourteenth time that month but today, through the pounding and pulsating, he was sober curious: what would it feel like to never drink again? he wondered.’

Inspirational Quote

If you are too full of yourself, then just like an overflowing teacup, you leave no room for anything else―Unknown.

Writing Tip

Three ways to hook your reader with a good beginning to your novel.

  1. Use the literary technique in medias res, meaning ‘in the midst of things’ (see blog post In Medias Res and the Three-Act Structure) and start your story/novel in the middle of the story. The events in your story do not need to be chronological. ‘Grabbing’ your reader with an action hook, or the inciting incident of the plot, or a curious observation: it can be anything, as long as it is captivating in some way.
  2. Dialogue. You could have two characters talking about something mysterious. Intrigue your readers by telling them something through the dialogue, but not everything. They’ll want to keep on reading to see what happens.
  3. Introduce the bad guy or girl first. By starting with the baddie rather than the protagonist, you’re sure to capture your readers’ attention.

(Acknowledgement: Masterclass Articles, How to Start Writing Your Novel: 6 Tips for Beginner Novel Writers, by MasterClass, 8 Nov 2020 https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-start-writing-your-novel#6-key-tips-for-starting-the-novel-writing-process).


The Writers Connect newsletter Issue 40 is produced approximately fortnightly 🙂


Gail Tagarro is a Book Writing Coach and Accredited Editor. She works with writers in any genre, fiction and nonfiction.
Her book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line is designed to help writers get their book to first draft stage within 12 weeks. To find out more, book a free chat.

You’ll find recommended writing resources here.

 

How a Dictionary is Born

When we think of dictionaries, it seems as though they must have existed forever. Yet of course, like everything, a dictionary has a beginning. How a dictionary is born is the subject of Pip Williams’ entrancing book, The Dictionary of Lost Words. This post is a review of her book.

The title may sound like nonfiction, but The Dictionary of Lost Words is historical fiction. It is a book about words: the beauty and power of words, lost words and saved words, misunderstood and taboo words.

A Story About the OED

Williams constructs her story around the people and events surrounding how a dictionary is born: specifically, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The first fascicle (separately published instalment) of the OED, containing the words from ‘A’ to ‘Ant’, was published in 1884. Work on the dictionary was progressively published as fascicles over some 43 years. In 1928, it was finally published in full – all ten volumes.

Williams weaves a fictional character’s story into the historical narrative. Esme’s father is a lexicographer (a person who compiles dictionaries). Her father works with the real James Murray, the fourth editor of the OED.

Her Inspiration

The backdrop of this period of English Victorian history includes the women’s suffrage movement and World War I. The author’s inspiration for her novel came from asking herself whether words mean different things to men and women. If so, she wondered if something was lost in the process of defining them.

Her research for the book gave her the impression that the OED was a predominantly male enterprise – male editors, male assistants, male volunteers, male researchers. Yet when she delved deeper, she found that various women had directly contributed to the dictionary work and hundreds of others contributed indirectly to the dictionary in some way.

The author believed that with women underrepresented, this must have affected what words were included. These words, she believed, must have been influenced by older, Victorian-era men.

A Lost Word

Esme, the book’s main character, grows up in the ‘Scriptorium’, little more than a garden shed in the Murray’s garden. Here, the group of lexicographers spend their days compiling the dictionary from words written on slips of paper sent in by volunteers. A motherless child, Esme spends hours under the sorting table out of the way of the lexicographers. One day, a slip drops off the end of the table and lands in Esme’s lap. Instead of returning it to her father, she puts it in her pocket. Esme is too young to understand the meaning of the word. Nevertheless, she is afraid the lexicographers might exclude it from the dictionary because it may not be ‘solid’ enough.

As Esme grows, so does her obsession with ‘saving’ words she believes will be discarded. Grown into a young woman, she begins interviewing women at the market, recording the words they say and their meanings. These are ‘women’s words’, forbidden and sometimes salacious words, and Esme is determined to save them all. She keeps them in a trunk under her maid Lizzie’s bed, until the trunk is full of slips of paper.  

The fate of Esme’s stash of words is bound up in a poignant love story, which is for the reader to discover, not for me to reveal here.

Suffice to say that I loved this beautifully written and meticulously researched historical novel. Author Tom Keneally says of Pip William’s debut work, ‘There will not be this year a more original novel published. I just know it.’

cover of the dictionary of lost words for post how a dictionary is born

The Dictionary of Lost Words  by Pip Williams (2020), Affirm Press, Melbourne.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post ‘How A Dictionary Is Born’. Please feel free to email any questions you may have about your work in progress.


Gail Tagarro is a Book Writing Coach and Accredited Editor. She works with writers in any genre, fiction and nonfiction.

Her book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line is designed to help writers get their book to first draft stage within 12 weeks. To find out more, book a free call.


 

Questions from a Young Writer

‘Questions from a Young Writer’ came from a writer just out of school who recently contacted me for some feedback on his fantasy fiction manuscript. His questions are around helping him find the best ways to polish his manuscript and then seek publication.

Many of these questions from a young writer may also be helpful to other writers.

How do you get your novel or idea to publishing standard?

Attend writing workshops to hone your technique.

Read quality books extensively.

Read books on writing craft by well-known writers. Below are some recommended writers’ resources:

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell audiobook

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing: What the Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Memoirist, Theologian Teaches Us about the Life and Craft of Writing by Corey Latta

Have your manuscript professionally edited once it’s finished, i.e. once you have written more than one draft and got it as close to perfect as possible.

What does publishing entail 

I have covered this question in various blogs. Please refer to the following links: Everything You Need to Know About How to Self-Publish Your Book Download, Options for Publishing Your Book, How to Get Your Book Published.

What is the process of getting a cover or illustrations

Through a graphic designer. You can either choose a local designer or commission a cover through an online services provider like Fiverr. Often, book designers don’t do illustrations so you could look for a local illustrator, or find someone through Fiverr. Make sure you are very specific when you advertise on Fiverr. Think carefully about your ad. Word your instructions carefully and clearly. This is because you’ll likely be working with people whose first language isn’t English.

How can you tell if your ideas appeal to readers 

By using beta readers. You can search for online writing groups, such as Writers Helping Writers or Fiction Writers, and find people who read your genre. They generally provide free feedback.

By joining writers’ groups.

By asking other writers how they have gained feedback.

How to sell to the audience, gather a following 

Today, writers need to be prepared to self-promote. Through Amazon, clubs like Goodreads, through a landing page on your website, by having a book launch at stores (in Queensland, e.g. Avid Reader in Brisbane or BookFace on the Gold Coast), talks at public libraries, talks in front of people who read your genre.

Are there any cost-effective tips or financial assistance to young authors 

First, improve your own writing skills through ideas such as those given in the first question above. Make your manuscript as good as it can possibly be. This will reduce editing costs.

Work with a mentor who will help polish your manuscript. Writers’ centres often provide mentoring services at lower than commercial rates.

Use crowd-funding to pay for professional editing.

Contact your local writers’ centre and ask if they have any programs available to fund or assist young authors.

Can you advise of any groups or book clubs that I may benefit from

The best way to find writers’ groups and book clubs is to Google them in your area. The Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) holds many courses for writers, many of them now online and more affordable (from as little as $49). See my recent newsletter for some of these events.

On a youth membership under 25 years of age, you can join QWC as a member for $55 a year.

Also, keep in touch with events on your local writers’ centre website.


I hope you’ve found this post ‘Questions from a Young Writer’ helpful. Please feel free to email any questions you may have about your work in progress.


Gail Tagarro is a Book Writing Coach and Accredited Editor who works with writers in any genre, fiction and nonfiction.

Her book coaching program Get Your Book to the Finish Line is designed to help writers get their book to first draft stage within 12 weeks. Please phone or enquire here.

Writers Connect! Issue 39

Welcome to the Writers Connect newsletter Issue 39.

coffee notebook pen phone in cafe for Writers Connect Issue 39

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter usually has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: Livestream Writing Events
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Get Inspired
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing

Writers Connect Issue 39 features several livestream events run by Queensland Writers Centre. The first event is on Sunday 14 February 2021.

For dates and times, the events in this newsletter all relate to the time zone for Queensland, Australia, so check your time zone converter.

Livestream Event 1: Let’s Write About Sex

This workshop is about ‘the craft of writing a sex scene. From the nitty gritty of the act, to how to build tension that leaves your reader wanting more…’ This is both a live-stream and a face-to-face event. Links are given below for both formats.

Organiser: Queensland Writers Centre

When: Sunday 14 February 2021

Time: 1.30 pm—4.30 pm AEST

Presenter: Amy Andrews

Entry: $35—$49

To attend the face-to-face event: https://queenslandwriters.org.au/events/write-about-sex

To attend the live-stream event: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/live-stream-lets-write-about-sex-with-amy-andrews-tickets-131808415519

Livestream Event 2: Historical Fiction: Don’t Forget The Story

In this workshop, New York Times bestseller, Natasha Lester, takes you through the four key elements of historical fiction – character, research, setting, and plot. You’ll learn how to write ‘a compelling story that sweeps them away to another time and place’.

Organiser: Queensland Writers Centre

When: Saturday 20 February 2021

Presenter: Natasha Lester

Entry: $35—$49

To attend the live-stream event: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/live-stream-historical-fiction-dont-forget-the-story-with-natasha-lester-tickets-133172204649

Livestream Event 3: Freelance Writing Masterclass

‘Get insider knowledge from an award-winning feature writer on how to get paid for good writing!’

Organiser: Queensland Writers Centre

When: Sunday 21 March 2021

Time: 10.30 am—1.30 pm

Presenter: Christine Jackman

Entry: $35—$49

To attend the live-stream event: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/live-stream-freelance-writing-masterclass-with-christine-jackman-tickets-136384891883

Livestream Event 4: Kickstart Your Self-Publishing Career

This is both a face-to-face and a livestream event. You will learn to ‘set yourself up for self-publishing success by developing a lead magnet and learning how to distribute and market your work’.

Organiser: Queensland Writers Centre

When: Saturday 27 March 2021

Time: 10.30 am—4.30 pm

Presenter: Kylie Fennell

Entry: $55—$69

To attend the face-to-face event: https://queenslandwriters.org.au/events/kickstart-your-self-publishing-career

To attend the live-stream event: https://queenslandwriters.org.au/events/stream-self-pub

Livestream Event 5: Tight Tense Thrillers

In this workshop, you will ‘learn new skills and approaches to plotting out a compelling narrative from the killer hook at the beginning to landing the big twists throughout’. Sounds thrilling!

Organiser: Queensland Writers Centre

When: Saturday 17 April 2021

Time: 10.30 am—1.30 pm

Presenter: J.P. Pomare

Entry: $35—$49

To attend the live-stream event: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/live-stream-tight-tense-thrillers-with-jp-pomare-tickets-140616926011

Word of the Day

haboob

This Arabic word refers to an intense dust storm carried on a gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions of the world.

Inspirational Quote

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes. Essential to remain between the two, close to madness when you dream and close to reason when you write―André Gide (1869—1951), French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Writing Tip

I like this suggestion from a writer on the site Daily Writing Tips. It resonates with what I say to my book coaching clients: ‘Just write, put your internal critic on hold at first, there’s plenty of time for editing later!’

Bill Harper says, ‘Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time’ (Daily Writing Tips, 11 December 2007, https://www.dailywritingtips.com/34-writing-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer/).

Writers Connect!

Writers Connect! Newsletter 38

Welcome to the Writers Connect! newsletter.

coffee notebook pen phone in cafe

Writing is a human experience. It’s about connection with everyone and everything around us.

We understand you’re busy. So the newsletter has just four or five main items of content. A brief but satisfying read.

In this issue:

  • Write Here, Right Now: Writing Competitions
  • Word of the Day. An unusual word to keep your writing fresh
  • Inspirational Quote
  • Writing Tip

Write Here, Right Now: What’s Happening in Writing

Competitions featured in this issue of Writers Connect! cater to all types of writers. So you have time to prepare, closing dates are from 12 February 2021.

For competition closing dates, bear in mind these relate to the time zone where the competition originates, so check the relevant site.

Comp 1: Writers’ and Artists’ Short Story Competition 2021

A short story competition for both published and aspiring writers.

About: Short story for adults

Open to: International

Word count: 2,000

Theme/Genre: No prompt; writers are free choose the theme

Entry fee: Free

Closes: 12 February 2021

Prize: First = Publication & Residential Writing Course

Information & Submission guidelines here: https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions/writers-artists-short-story-competition-2021

Comp 2: Hippocrates Prize for Poetry & Medicine

This annual international award is for an unpublished poem on a medical subject.

About: The competition has an open and health professional category. You must choose ‘open’ or ‘health professional’ upon submission

Open to: International

Word count: 50 lines

Theme/Genre: Medical subject

Closes: 14 February2021

Entry fee: £7

Prize: £1000

Rules & entry here: http://hippocrates-poetry.org/the-hippocrates-prize/2021-hippocrates-prize/rules-2021-hippocrates.html

Comp 3: The Puchi Award

This is a publishing project that seeks ‘the most innovative, ground-breaking, vibrant book proposals in any genre, focusing entirely on their boldness and their links with present-day art language’.

About: Open to unpublished books in any genre or form: ‘literary and graphic projects of any kind that stand out by virtue of their premise, literary and graphic quality, originality, unconventionality or mould-shattering conception’

Open to: All authors of legal age from Spain or internationally. You may submit one or more original, unpublished works. Works may be written in any language, although a provisional translation into English of at least two pages must be submitted

Word Count: Check guidelines

Theme/Genre: Fiction & nonfiction, essays, informative literature, poetry, illustration, comics, cookbooks, geography books, combinations of these or any other type of work

Closes: 18 February 2021

Entry fee:

Prize: First = €8,000

Details: http://puchiaward.com/en/guidelines/

Comp 4: First Pages Prize 2021

The organisers ask for the first five pages of a longer work of fiction or creative nonfiction.

About: Must be unpublished. Judges want to receive ‘a sense of a bigger story emerging’ and be ‘hooked’ by your writing

Open to: International, un-agented writers, 18+

Word count: 1,250

Theme: Appears to be open; check guidelines

Closes: 21 February 2021

Entry fee: £20

Prize: 1st = $2,000, 2nd = $1,250, 3rd = $750, = – $500, 5th = $500 (USD) + partial developmental edit. First 3 winners receive agent consultation via Zoom

Guidelines & entry here: https://www.firstpagesprize.com/guidelines-and-termsconditions

Word of the Day

lagniappe

I can almost guarantee this is the first time you’ve heard or seen this word. It’s certainly a first for me! Meaning ‘Something given as a bonus or extra gift’,  lagniappe is a noun, pronounced ‘lan-YAP’. It derives from Louisiana French and its origin is unknown.

Inspirational Quote

Sit here, so I may write you into a poem and make you eternal

― Kamand Kojouri, author, poet, educator

Writing Tip

Many top writers recommend that you put on the blinders – in other words, limit your distractions – to create the ideal writing environment.

Writers Connect! publishing fortnightly!

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