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Category Archives: short stories

Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 20th Feb 2017

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… five currently half price and and two FREE! (coupon codes on the online courses page) and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 1068: Monday 20th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1068-woman-1031000_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: trump, nine, independent, cost, earth
  2. Random: driving me insane
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Monologue Monday: first-person poem about spending a week with a parent

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!

Story Writing Exercises 1072: Monday 20 February

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… five are currently half price and the other two are FREE (when using coupon codes)!

Time yourself for 15 minutes for each one, then either have a break or move on to the next one. When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1072-pair-dog-1086286_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: people, just, job, keep, hang
  2. Random: watching a whole series
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Monday Monologue: your character is waiting for someone in a bar

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished).

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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in ideas, poetry, short stories, writing

 

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Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 17th Feb 2017

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… five currently half price and and two FREE! (coupon codes on the online courses page) and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 1067: Friday 17th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1067-truck-24360_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: economy, hall, challenge, persuade, rest, heading
  2. Random: showing unity
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. One-word prompt: minimum

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!

Story Writing Exercises 1071: Friday 17 February

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… five are currently half price and the other two are FREE (when using coupon codes)!

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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in ideas, poetry, short stories, writing

 

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Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 16th Feb 2017

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… five currently half price and and two FREE! (coupon codes on the online courses page) and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 1066: Thursday 16th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1066-statue-of-liberty-500700_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: support, speaking, confer, also, Wiltshire
  2. Random: a wilting flower
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Thursday Title: Excavating the Jungle

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!

Story Writing Exercises 1070: Thursday 16 February

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… five are currently half price and the other two are FREE (when using coupon codes)!

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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in ideas, poetry, short stories, writing

 

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Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 15th Feb 2017

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… five currently half price and and two FREE! (coupon codes on the online courses page) and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 1065: Wednesday 15th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1065-seagull-115618_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: real, avoid, rewrite, shadow, change
  2. Random: news at one
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Sentence start: Missing that one special…

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!

Story Writing Exercises 1069: Wednesday 15 February

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… five are currently half price and the other two are FREE (when using coupon codes)!

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in ideas, poetry, short stories, writing

 

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Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 14th Feb 2017

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… five currently half price and and two FREE! (coupon codes on the online courses page) and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 1064: Tuesday 14th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1064-plate-1365542_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: instead, renew, review, licence, dancing
  2. Random: keeping the CDs
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Tuesday Title: Was Willing

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!

Story Writing Exercises 1068: Tuesday 14 February

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… five are currently half price and the other two are FREE (when using coupon codes)!

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in ideas, novels, poetry, short stories, writing

 

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Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 13th Feb 2017

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… five currently half price and and two FREE! (coupon codes on the online courses page) and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 1063: Monday 13th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

1063-music-363276_640Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: repeat, married, four, glad, met
  2. Random: gesturing wildly
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Monologue Monday: first-person poem about breaking up

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!

Story Writing Exercises 1067: Monday 13 February

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… five are currently half price and the other two are FREE (when using coupon codes)!

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in ideas, poetry, short stories, writing

 

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Book review – for readers and writers – no.172: Morgen Bailey reviews Silent as the Grave by Paul Gitsham

Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

Paul Gitsham’s Silent as the Grave

pg-satgSynopsis: The body of Reginald Williamson had been well concealed under a bush in Middlesbury Common and the murder efficiently carried out – a single stab wound to the chest. Reggie’s dog had been killed just as efficiently. With no clues or obvious motive, the case is going nowhere. Then he (Morgen: Warren not the dog!) gets a break.

Warren’s instincts tell him that the informant is dodgy – a former police officer under investigation. But when Warren hears the incredible story he has to tell, he’s glad to have given him a chance to speak. Suddenly, a wide criminal conspiracy, involving high-level police corruption, a gangster and a trained killer, is blown wide open… (Morgen: repetition of ‘wide’!) and Warren finds that this time, it’s not just his career under threat, but his family – and his life.

This novel is available via https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Grave-Warren-Jones-crime-ebook/dp/B00ULOOOIY and https://www.amazon.com/Silent-Grave-Warren-Jones-crime-ebook/dp/B00ULOOOIY etc.

Review

  • Like all good crime stories, we start with a dead body… two in fact. There are lots of threads going on but not so many that we can’t keep track as they weave throughout the story.
  • The character names are distinctive so readers shouldn’t get confused. I always recommend not having characters names with the same beginning letter (as it’s how we remember them if they’ve not been mentioned for a while) and not look similar, e.g. Tim, Tom, Bill, Will etc.
  • There is a lot to like in this novel including ‘”Whatever the crisis, boil the kettle” was based on solid, empirical evidence in Warren’s experience.’ It works for me. 🙂 Warren is, especially as a boy, an avid reader so I like him all the more.
  • Paul is great at characters especially their description (Windermere is brilliant) and with a rogue ex-boyfriend being one of them, it’s easy to feel even more sorry for the murder victim’s niece.
  • Writers should pull at their readers’ heartstrings (to use a cliché!) and having read the first two novels in this series, the mention of Warren’s father’s death pulled at mine.
  • I suspect that Warren’s choice of radio stations (BBC Radio 2 and Heart) are also Paul’s favourites, as he and I are similar ages and they’re my favourites too.
  • There are some technicalities in this novel, especially when talking about body temperatures. The worst thing to do when writing any kind of fiction is to get a fact wrong as there will always be readers who know what you are talking about and if there’s one thing they don’t believe they will loose faith that you either know what you’re writing or that you’ve done your accurate research. Paul is a teacher rather than having a police background but it all felt authentic.

And now for writers…

  • The title is a cliché but that’s fine because it’s the title. Clichés are best avoided (unless said by a character who uses them which makes them distinctive) in the narration and I spotted ‘clutching at straws’, ‘snow white’, ‘like the back of his hand’, ‘as white as a ghost’, ‘as long as your arm’, ‘grabbing at straws’, ‘bolt upright’, ‘spun on his heel’, and ‘pitch black’ (the latter in the free short story after the novel).
  • There is some switching of points of view in the same scene, e.g. ‘If she thought the question strange, she didn’t let it bother her.’ Most readers wouldn’t pick up on this but it does slip from Warren’s point of view to the woman, because we’re talking about her emotions and she may be bothered but not showing it. Everything that’s narrated has to stay with the main character’s point of view so it should have been ‘‘If she thought the question strange, it didn’t show.’ In a scene where Sheehey and Warren are talking about Warren’s father’s death, we are both the two characters’ points of view whereas we should only be in Warren’s, so be careful with your writing that you stick with your main character only unless you start a new section with the other character taking the lead. Then in chapter 26, Warren has woken up after a nap and the scene with his wife going into her point of view as well as his.
  • Ago versus before: when writing (narration) in past tense, timings change, e.g. yesterday isn’t yesterday because you’re already in the past. It’s ‘the day before’ or ‘a day earlier’. Ditto ‘ago’ e.g. ‘until he retired a few years ago’ should be ‘… a few years earlier’. Characters speak in present tense so timings are accurate for them.
  • There are very few other slips in tense with ‘the man that they believe is behind the operation’ that should have been ‘believed was behind’.
  • Whilst vs while: I’ve been picked up (in a review) for using the old-fashioned ‘whilst’ rather than ‘while’ and there are 58 ‘whilst’s in this manuscript (thank you, Mrs Kindle search) so they do become obvious after a while… whilst. 🙂
  • ‘Well’ is one of my bugbears when used as a dialogue pause. We say it but we also so ‘er’ and shouldn’t use them in our writing.
  • A lot of writers (in my experience) have said ‘started to’ (or ‘began to’) unnecessarily, e.g. ‘John started to sing.’ You only need the ‘started to’ if he’s interrupted.
  • Another issue to be careful of it when you have two characters of the same gender; make sure that all the ‘he’s and ‘she’s refer to the last character name mentioned. If there could be any doubt, it’s something that could make the reader come out of the flow of the story – it happened to me here – and you want to avoid that.
  • Something else I come across is the shaking of hands. You wouldn’t think it would be too tricky but here we have ‘Taking his cue, Warren stood up and stuck his hand out. Jordan met him, shaking firmly.’ The reader could think that Jordan’s body was shaking so it should be ‘shaking it firmly’. *which itself is a split infinitive so should be ‘stuck out his hand’.
  • Again, it’s seeing our writing from a reader’s point of view. We know what we mean by something but regardless of how good a writer you are, you always need someone else (at least one person, and ideally a professional) to look through your manuscript to tell you something they don’t ‘get’. An example here was when a character was ‘dragged into the living room by a foot’. There are three possibilities here: they were only dragged a short distance (a foot = twelve inches), someone was using their own foot to drag them, or what I assume was intended: they were dragged by one of the feet.
  • Other repetitions: ‘Pretty scrupulous / pretty much’, at least two ‘back to the present’, a few licking of lips, ‘we were able to build that link between him and the case we’d built’, and ‘to reconstruct the ancient structure’ jarred with me. Later there is ‘tall man in his early Although he’d lost the brawn of his early…’ Also slipping through the net was ‘…kill him after all these years? After all, … your father’s death. He did him a favour, after all.’ And ‘…never turned coffee down* – and sent me down… jotted a few numbers down*’, ‘could have lifted him off the floor and twisted his head off*’. It’s all too easy not to spot this kind of repetition but it becomes more obvious when reading our work aloud (in my case via my Kindle Fire’s text-to-speech function). I’d recommend everyone doing that. *split infinitives should be ‘never turned down coffee’, ‘jotted down a few numbers’, ‘twisted off his head’.
  • There weren’t many typos but I spotted: ‘It is alleged that while he one of the most successful crime lords…’, ‘What did do Reggie afterwards?’, ‘little more that hearsay’, ‘I need you to take (the) briefing’, ‘he prayed silently as (he) took…’, ‘she needed to tell to you…’.
  • Finally, this is a very personal bug bear but I really don’t like ‘long moment’ / ‘long second’ and we have both in this story. Like a reader not reading a prologue – I don’t if they’re more than two pages – it’s not the writer’s fault if there’s a phrase a reader doesn’t like so if you like those phrases then keep them in.

Conclusion

A very enjoyable read for fans of crime novels with solid characters, vivid description and realistic dialogue.

Rating: 4 out of 5

*

Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction CompetitionRONE 2015 Judge.

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