Describing Antagonists




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A writing Exercise-Your Favorite Clothing

Not celebrating the holidays here in the U.S. ?  No worries.  How about some writing exercises to challenge you beginning with, “Your Favorite Clothing”.   You can e-mail your work to me or not.  Up to you.  This is a fun exercise, not drudgery, so have some fun.

Here is my e-mail address:

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Writing fiction Rules from Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction 


Margaret Atwood is a Canadian author of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction. She was born 18 November 1939.

She is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman, The Robber Bride, and The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker Prize in 2000.

Atwood’s work has been published in more than 40 languages and many of her books have also been adapted for television and film, most notably The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace. HBO is currently adapting her Maddaddam TrilogyOryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam.

Her latest novel, The Testaments, was joint winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, alongside Bernardine Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other.

Here are her 10 rules for writers, which first appeared in The Guardian.

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction 

  1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
  5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

Source for image: Curtis Brown

How to self-edit your writing: 8 tips


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Learning how to self-edit your writing empowers you to polish your prose. Ernest Hemingway famously quipped that you should ‘write drunk and edit sober’. This might not be good advice for teetotallers (or in general). But there is a grain of truth in Hemingway’s words: you need a state of mental clarity that allows you to be methodical when editing. A professional editor who has polished many novels can turn your promising manuscript into a sleek novel. Yet if you can’t afford professional editing services at present, or want to tidy up your work before showing it to an editor, you can learn how to self-edit well. See the infographic below for top tips on editing your story:

How to self-edit - 8 top editing tips for fiction writers
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It often pays to read what published authors have to say on the nuts and bolts of writing. Here are three additional quotes to keep in mind when editing your own writing:

How to self-edit: Advice from great writers

1. Dr Seuss, author of much-loved children’s books, was a master of concision (packing as much meaning into as few words as possible):

‘So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.’

2. Popular novelist Jodi Picoult reminds us that it is useful to have different strategies for writing and editing. You don’t have to be meticulous when drafting, but you must be when you edit your writing:

‘You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.’

3. Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s songs are full of witty wordplay and pack complex emotions into brief musical numbers. He advocates not editing as you go but separating the writing and editing stages:

‘The worst thing you can do is censor yourself as the pencil hits the paper. You must not edit until you get it all on paper. If you can put everything down, stream-of-consciousness, you’ll do yourself a service.’


Great advice and tips from: