Idea Development

If you don’t already have an idea, check out these 102 ways to formulate ideas. ; if you want a structured way to develop your characters and plot, please feel free to use this booklet (it’s still in development, so any feedback would be appreciated!)

If you already have an idea you’re hot on – welcome, welcome, to the idea development workshop! The biggest problem people have when it comes to successfully plotting and outlining really boils down to having an under-developed idea.

Not true – I hear you cry.

No doubt it feels more like one of these bad boys is the issue:

  • Writers block
  • Lack of research
  • “It’s just not good”
  • Unruly characters
  • Stagnation and ‘waffling’

Well, the truth is it could be that you haven’t researched quite enough… but unless you’re writing historic fiction there really is a limit to how much research is prudent. If you are writing historic fiction and you want tips on historical researching for authors click here. Likewise, if you feel your characters are causing the issue, you might need to develop them just a little more!

If, however, you feel that you’re blocked, that the idea is just bad, or that it’s losing drive and ‘waffling’ (meandering, losing focus, has no main point etc) then I can assure you it’s because you need to develop your idea.

 

Why, How, And, Then – The Four Questions of the Apocalypse

If you want to develop your idea and find a new angle to come from you need to ask questions of it. For example; ‘a man is getting ready to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge, but a cop steps in and saves him’ is an idea.

It’s a decent idea with the potential to make a compelling story, but not as it is.

Now you could wrestle with that simple, clunky idea like a woman trying to French braid her own hair behind her head with no mirror… (no I am not salty that I can’t do this), or you could develop the idea into something that plots itself.

How?

I’m glad you asked that question, because you’re going to need it!

 

No-one Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Except you should:

  • Readers
  • Editors
  • Agents
  • Publishers

These people will all ask many questions of your plot, and so to ensure that they are merely small ones, not huge, terrifying ones that expose plot-holes, you need to interrogate your idea long before you write.

 

Here’s how; we take our idea from earlier (handily lifted from one of my own short stories), and we question it like it’s a teenager just in after dark smelling of weed and covered in hickies…

A man is getting ready to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge –

Why?

He lost his job and his house because of his mental illness and feels he has nothing to live for.

 

Ok – that’s a more developed concept, but it’s a bit hackneyed. What about this instead;

 

He doesn’t actually want to jump – he’s late for a big, life changing meeting and his presentation script blew out of his hand. It’s on the very edge of the ledge, caught under his foot, but he’s too scared to move. 

 

That’s a bit more unique. What about the cop? Now we know the cop is out there because they think he’s a jumper, but what happens if they find out he’s not?

A cop goes out to talk him down, and finds out why he is actually out there.

And?

They lean down, pick up the paper, and he makes it to his presentation with hours to spare.

 

It works, but seriously? YAWN.

Ok, what about this;

 

A 24 year old entrepreneur is on their way to a lifechanging business meeting, hours early, reading their script, when a wind blows it away. 

And?

They chase it all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge where it gets caught on the ledge, by pure luck.

So?

They climb out to get it, trap it under their foot, and suffer sudden vertigo when they look down. They freeze and a passing police officer thinks they’re going to jump. 

Then?

The cop finds out they aren’t going to jump, but are simply stuck. They chat, and the cop tries to get the paper from under their foot. 

But –

A strong gust of wind throws it out over the river.

Then?

The cop suggests that they print another, but they can’t, it’s unique. And so the cop suggests they go looking for it as they saw it blow towards the nearest river bank.

Why?

The cop is new to the area and wants to make friends, and anyway it’s a slow day.

 

So?

They search for the script together, find it, and race across the city to the entrepreneurs meeting, making it just in time. 

 

So, as you can see – by taking that one concept and prodding it until it bled I took a hackneyed, cliched idea with potential, and made it into a short story outline (which I am now getting ready to send out – I’ll let you know how that goes).

 

Once you have your idea you can begin to flesh out your characters, and strengthen your plot.

 

 

 

 

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3 Differences Between Genre And Literary Fiction

Literary fiction is popularly thought to be un-publishable; it’s too dull, too dry, too convoluted. This isn’t the truth, though. There are many published. successful authors who write literary fiction. Barbara Kingsolver, for example, has written The Poisonwood Bibleand The Lacunaamongst others, both of which are classed as literature.

These are seriously well-known and loved novels, too! The Poisonwood Bible was part of the Oprah Book Club for Christs sake!

So – where did this myth come from? I honestly don’t know, and that’s a question for another day. What I do know is how to tell whether your novel is literary or genre fiction!

 

The 3 Main Differences

  1. The Subject Matter: Literary fiction tends to deal with macro ideas and happenings. I.e. literary fiction deals with themes and ideals, not, generally speaking, the day to day milleu of life. If you write a literary novel about the Jacobite Rebellion it will most likely be a sweeping social commentary which covers the whole affair. If you write a genre novel on the same subject its more likely to be an action-packed, romance laced retelling of the most pressured events.
  2. The Pace; Genre fiction is quicker, more agile, and more compact, generally speaking. This doesn’t mean the number of pages, by the way, the inimitable and haunting The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (I know, I know, if I ever stop ranting about this book assume I’m dead) is a slim literary volume, but its pace is steady and calm. No, genre fiction tends to take place over a shorter period of time (in story), and will generally move between major plot points with more alacrity. Literary fiction, however, more commonly takes place over generational timescales and may play loosey-goosey with the very concept of a hard and fast plot point.
  3. The Character Plot Balance; the real, telltale sign however is the balance between plot and character. Genre fiction is most likely to lean towards being plot driven. In fact, in some minimalist genre fictions we may learn very little about the largest parts of the character cast. Consider Garth Nix’s Sabrielfor example. We spend a fair amount of time with Sabriel, but we don’t learn as much about her as we might have assumed. We know about her father, her schooling, and her magic, but we very rarely see into her mind. In Julian Barnes’ haunting novel The Sense Of An Endinghowever, the “plot” seems to be nothing more than an endless unravelling of the innermost fears and failures of the protagonist. Literary fiction is driven by the exploration of philosophies, ideas, and characters, whereas genre fiction is driven by the events of the plot.

 

Simple, no?

Now you just need to write the damn thing!

Blog Class: Writing, Presenting, Selling. — THE EDITOR’S JOURNAL

AA said… My hope is that my stuff isn’t cluttered and rife with poor writing. I am writing fiction most of the time, so a large audience would be quite surprising, albeit pleasantly so. It would need to be a patient audience, given the glacial span of my updates. I’m barely able to read most […]

via Blog Class: Writing, Presenting, Selling. — THE EDITOR’S JOURNAL

How A Professional Editor Can Improve Your Essay And Up Your Grades

Why Editing Academic Essays Is Important

If you are one of those students who takes time to edit, proofread, and critique your own essays before they are handed in I applaud you.

No really; some essays are a nightmare to read, or even decipher.

If your professor is struggling to understand you they’re going to become frustrated, stressed, and angry. They might think you haven’t prepared at all, and the likely outcome is a low grade. For some people this is a result of lack of work or understanding, but for many it’s just miscommunication and poor articulation. In these scenarios the help of a professional editor and proofreader can make all the difference.

 

The Benefits Of Hiring An Essay Editor

The benefits of having your essay looked at by a professional proofreader and editor are many;

  1. A Fresh View; when we review our own work we fill in the gaps and skip typos (unintentionally) because our minds expect to see what we think we have written. Having a fresh pair of eyes to edit and proofread your essay can catch small typos and errors.
  2. An Extra Set Of Hands; when the end of the year rolls around deadlines begin to pile up. When you have three or four essays to finish in a short space of time, handing them off to an editor for proofreading can take some of the stress off of your shoulders.
  3. Development And Growth; a good editor and proofreader will also provide you with feedback and suggestions for improvement. If you act upon this advice you may well end up writing better essays first time round in the future.
  4. A Head And Shoulders Above The Rest; if you wish to stand out as a student who is really seeking to get ahead it is key that you always make your deadlines and that your essays are consistently high-quality. An editor can put a little extra polish on your hard work.

 

Making Sure You Get The Most from Your Essay Editor;

Whenever you pay for a service you want to be sure that you are getting the best deal for your money. Here’s how you can do that when you pay for essay editing services;

  1. Ask To See Their Write Up; most editors will work on a word document these days, so seeing their original comments and thoughts is as easy as asking for it. Sometimes you’ll get an old-fashioned person (like me) who works on hard copy – check which your editor is and ask to see their original write-up if they work on paper.
  2. Ask For Critique; as well as seeing their original notes, ask your editor to sum up what they think you do right and wrong overall. This will help you to understand why they recommended certain changes.
  3. Get An Editor Who Does Multi-Draft Work; most proofreaders and editors will be happy to go back and forth with you if you need to have your essay re-touched, but multi-draft work is something you should raise from the start. If you let an editor know that you will be coming back to them for a full re-evaluation after you make edits they’ll ensure they have the time to really help you.
  4. Talk Numbers; proofreaders and editors are busy and skilled people. In short, they need to be paid. However, if you plan on giving someone a lot of business they make work out a better rate for you, especially if you pay up front.
  5. Leave Your Ego At Home; remember, when you hire an editor or proofreader their job is to help you improve, not to flatter you. They will give you constructive criticism where it is needed; do not take it personally.

 

If you’re in need of an essay proofreader or editor you can see what services I offer, or contact me.

 

 

 

 

Articles 11 and 13: Why You Should Worry

Somehow, we’ve gotten to the point where, with just over three weeks to go, the internet as we know it is about to change indelibly for the worse. Yes, for those of you in the know I am talking about the EU’s proposed Copyright Directive. This new directive will be debated on the 20th and 21st of June 2018, and could honestly be bad news for our internet.
***UPDATE – Article 13 was not removed on June 20th; On July 4th – 5th MEPS will get to vote on this; please contact your MEPS AND SIGN THIS PETITION****
Now many educated and intelligent people have trodden over this ground already. As such I’m not going to dive too deep into the nitty-gritty. Instead I’m going to break down
the ways this could go tits up for fandoms, content creators, small websites, blogs, and small news outlets.
ARTICLE 11, IF PASSED, WILL

 

Make It Harder To Utilise News In Your Content; 

  • It creates broad rights of ownership in terms of news and other information. The rights will be territorial and they will stack which means you could face a spaghetti junction of copyright and ownership red tape before you ever get to discuss, dissemble, or report news on a small scale.

 

Make News And Blogging Pay To Play;

  • The huge onslaught of rights for established players would send transaction costs through the roof. Permissions would need to be sought for pretty much any usage.
  • Using the smallest part of press coverage, unless its for private use, would see you running into a paywall.
  • Small news outlets will be priced out of business, as will informal news blogs.

 

Help Big News Will Again

  • The pay-to-win dynamics mentioned above will likely make existing power imbalances worse. 
  • Photographers, citizen journalists, freelancers, and non-institutional creators will be priced out of business.

 

Furthermore, a collective of 169 European Academics (two thirds of which are full professors) found that Article 11 actually provides no protection from fake news and there is “no sound economic case” for its introduction.

 

ARTICLE 13, IF PASSED, WILL

Make Coding Utter Hell; 

  • One of the most contested parts of Article 13 involves the idea of mandatory content filtering via “censorship machines”. These have caused concerns for reasons of privacy, free speech, and doubts about their actual effectiveness… However, it’s the effect on small software developers that could be really catastrophic.
  • Abby Vollmera discussed how this will be a nightmare for code-sharing platforms which operate on the basis that creators want to share their code.
  • Now, false positives are likely for these filters anyway, but with code it becomes much more likely. Requiring code share platforms to automatically scan and remove “offending” code will drastically impact software developers.

 

No Parodies, No remixes, No Memes

  • With the definition of rights becoming so broad, so vague, and so changeable from country to country there’s a very high chance that remixes, parodies, and memes will be put at risk.
  • Such user generated content could be seen as a breach of copyright and make those who create and share it at risk of losing it suddenly, or even in the path of legal action.

 

So, What’s The Tea?

If you create, share, enjoy, or otherwise follow non-mainstream news, fanart, memes, creator content, or you want to include links in your personal blog you should be paying attention.

 

You could find yourself on the wrong side of the paywall very, very soon.

 

What You Can Do:

Resources; 

Official Documentation

Academic Break Down of Article 11

GitHubs Take On Article 13 For Coders

A Break Down Of Article 13

Simple Overview Of The Issue

Open Letters Discussing The Issue Sensibly

FAQs