BibBornem / Pixabay

I love reading, have done ever since I was a child and cannot remember a time when I was unable to read. When the stories continued in my head after I’d finished the book, I thought I can do this—and proved that I could! However, there is a drawback to being a writer, a story-teller—I automatically read the novel on two levels. Firstly for enjoyment, of course, and like you, I try to second guess the villain, but my mind also takes a branch line and corrects errors, cuts unneeded words .and bits that don’t move the story on…and established writers are sometimes guilty, too. Or perhaps their editors!
You must all have heard the phrase “Show, don’t tell!” You know the kind of thing. Page after tedious page of description of surroundings, the heroine’s appearance and the hero’s feelings, when a few carefully chosen words of conversation would bring the most wooden of characters to life and set the scene. I sometimes wonder if the author has been told to get the word count up, hence all the padding!

Which brings me nicely back to my current novel Church Close, I’m still working through it again bearing all my advice in mind!

Another tip. Next time you’re on the bus, or in the supermarket, listen to the way people speak to avoid stilted conversation.

Regards, Betty.






zela typing

Hello Friends,
I hope that some of you have followed my previous writing tips and are persevering with working on a novel of your own. Or maybe how to start is eluding you?
I’d like to share my extra writing tip with you, the bones of my story construction…
I always have characters milling round in my mind. Could even be people from one of my posts… There are five questions I consider important when they start out on their adventures between the pages of my book…


WHO is going to take centre stage?
Be the Voice? Who will be their family, friends, employers?

WHAT is going to happen?
Something which will alter their life. An accident? Lovers reunited? Passing an exam? Getting a new job?

WHERE is it going to take place?
In which town or country? Indoors or outside? Summer, winter? At home or public place?

WHEN will this happen?
Today, present time. Yesterday, last year or sometime in the past. Tomorrow, looking ahead, planning a future.

And most importantly WHY?
There must always be an interesting reason for what is befalling your heroine/hero.

I’m not planning another novel yet, I already have two on the back boiler and a third in progress. This one is a memoire of wartime, a break from my usual genre…I’m at the halfway mark.
Happy writing, Betty.

Copyright © Betty Woodcock 2015
Photo by courtesy of zela rgbstock.com



final cottage

<><> <><> <><> <><>HERE IS THE COVER FOR THE COTTAGE <><> <><> <><> <><>

THE COTTAGE is 24,000 words long and, in writer-speak, classed as a Novella. I aborted the page-set for print when I realised it translated into only seventy-three pages… a very thin book! So, sorry, people, it will be published as an e-book only. I aim to have it on the Kindle shelves by the weekend.

Just to jog the memories of those of you following my previous writing tips and are constructing a novel of your own…

A SHORT STORY – is shorter and more focused than a novella – usually deals with a single episode and often a single character. Length is generally between 2,000 and 10,000 words.

A NOVELLA – is often set in a brief period of time, such as a day, week, or month. A novella often concentrates on character study. Length usually around 17,501 to 40,000 words

A NOVEL – is of considerable length, usually having a plot that unfolds by actions, dialogue and thoughts of the varied characters. Length 40,001 plus words. Please note: Most print publishers prefer around 70,000 words for a first novel.

Keep writing!


Monday again … and an extra writing tip

computer  rgbstockHi, everyone…

Monday morning again. You must be tired of me saying this, but they come round so quickly. I get the feeling that they’re elbowing their way through the predestined order of things and jumping the queue!

Did you read the final episode of Brad and Lucy yesterday?

I’m so happy to be rid of them, at last! They took over my life, pushing for attention—  all me, me, me! I wrote this story each Saturday and Sunday when it was needed for the post – with one eye on the clock – and no time for my usual edit.

This edition is called a first draft. I will read it over in a few weeks time, from start to finish, and I’m quite sure I’ll be appalled at the errors which have slipped through. I’ll feel compelled to polished it up, perhaps add bits here and there, and who knows? It may end up on Kindle. I’ll let you know. Oddly enough, I have a photo of my own I could use as a cover. The lack of a suitable cover is holding up the publication of The Essay…for that I’ll blame the time spent on Brad and Lucy!  The word count of Brad and Lucy is 23,150, which puts it in the novella niche of 17,500 to 40,000. A novel clocks in at 40,000 plus, and I doubt it will reach that length.

In passing…how is your novel coming along? Have you put my writing tips to good use and made a start?  Here is another tip for you … Write a little every day, make it a habit. Doesn’t matter if it’s world shattering or just rubbish. Your brain is a muscle, exercise it! If you commute by bus or train put the journey to good use! Write! Assess your fellow passengers…could they be a character? Keep a notebook handy so you can jot your ideas down. What seems a brilliant idea in the middle of the night usually proves elusive next morning. For me, it never seems to hang together in the same way…or have the same zing—which is true of a short story I’m working on. It will turn up on my page sometime this week…

Now Brad and Lucy are gone, I can turn my attention back to finding a cover for The Essay…

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Photo by courtesy of rgbstock.com

See you again tomorrow…

Tips on writing … 2

  I presume you’ve decided which type [genre] of novel you’re going to write?

What about your characters?

To a fiction writer characters are the ‘brick’ of the story. They interlace with each other…without their actions the story wouldn’t exist.  They come in two ‘flavours’—flat and rounded.

The flat characters are one-dimensional, or cardboard, and they don’t engage the readers interest for long. In a theatre it would be called a walk on part, but they can be dramatic, colourful, amusing …but always minor.  They are easy to spot because they display only one characteristic or trait. Maybe greed, lack of education, cowardice etcetera, and are used to help the scenes along, make them more believable. Like the workforce of Grafton Engineering in ‘Shifting Shadows’

The rounded characters are three-dimensional, more complex, and have major parts to play. All your lead characters should be in this category. They are the people your readers will identify with and love to read about their ups and downs.

Just like real people, they have their faults and praiseworthy moments…but just like real people, they slip-up. But they aren’t real people, are they? They only appear so because you have spent time creating a back-story—what happened in their past will shape the way they behave. By doing this you know how they tick…how they will react in the situations you create. You can mention how your hero was affected by Uncle George’s death in a car crash— BUT don’t jolt the reader out of the story by relating every detail of his life from birth to now!

You know them of course. You have a file listing all the details which constructed your hero, lovable or otherwise.  Fictional characters are allowed to be more everything than a real person… better looking, prettier, more handsome, more lovable, etcetera…even more ugly and bad tempered… in short they are allowed to be exceptional because they are make-believe people.

The readers will expect your characters to deal with everything thrown at them. You, the author, have given this impression by sharing the characters lifestyles, their likes and dislikes, their thoughts and emotions, their flashpoints when angry … these things hint at the way they will react in the crises you provide.

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Any questions?


More about creating your characters tomorrow…

Tips on Writing … 1

Writing Tips.

I went to my Writing Group last night. A gen-u-ine group, not fictitious like The Writing Class. But exactly like them in one respect. We are a mixed bunch of people…different ages…different backgrounds… different personalities …and most importantly, friends.

Because we’d had a break to match the school holidays there was a lot of catching up to do re families and writing projects before we got down to the nitty-gritty of writing.. Most of us had been in email contact… what would we do without the internet! We also had a mini-meeting in my home, a couple of weeks ago, but it’s not the same when everyone isn’t there

First on the Agenda was my website. I’m the only member who has one. We discussed it’s surprising [to me] worldwide popularity and passed on to my books, which have slipped in the ratings. At the moment they aren’t the same resounding success as my website. [Oops! Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that!] And what had I done over the break? Easy.., my fourth novel is well on the way, plus a collection of short stories is in the pipeline and, of course,  a follow up to Deception Unlimited and the crazy life of Thomasina Bennett. Not to mention the weekend serial, Brad and Lucy, which takes up so much time… and this Blog.

Believe me, being a writer is harder work than being employed!

We do have other published members. One moved about a hundred miles from the area to be nearer family and the other is having a Sabbatical. Two members with completed novels are actively seeking agents. The rest are learning the craft.

Because, friends, writing is a craft.

If you are considering writing a novel the first thing to decide is the genre. This will probably  be influenced by the type of books you read.Romance, bodice ripper, suspense, horror, murder mystery, police procedural, science fiction, children’s fiction, paranormal, non-fiction etc.

I’ve mentioned before that writing comes easy to me but when I decided to upgrade it from a hobby, I bought innumerable ‘How to do it’ books, a couple of A4 pads, a pack of pens, and joined a Creative Writing class. One of the first things I was told was ‘chose something you feel comfortable with. Write about what you know.’

O—kay. That made sense. Until I thought about it.

How many people writing murder mysteries had actually killed someone? Fallen in love with a vampire? Travelled in outer space?  I felt I could possibly have a head start…I had actually seen ghosts.

So the first thing I wrote was a cv listing the many things I could use in my writing.

I got the job!

The Pram  http://tinyurl.com/pxcgcrc 

Shifting Shadows  http://tinyurl.com/cwf3uhw

Deception Unlimited  http://tinyurl.com/nhbamky

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