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Wellies or Flip-flops?
Category: Writing
Tags: Literary festival Hay Festival York Festival of writing elevator pitch

Yes, the festival season is upon us. Iím not usually one for muddy fields, improvised toilets and lots of hubbub but this year I have booked two literary festivals! Firstly, the legendary Hay Festival†in the Welsh Marches. Growing up in the Wye Valley, I remember Hay-on-Wye as a grim market town on the verge of dereliction. In 1893 my grandparents' marriage was registered in Hay so family connections in the border area run deep. But to me it was always a sad place where out-of-fashion Welsh Mountain ponies were auctioned for a knock-down price to the meat man.

But then in the 1970s entrepreneurial hippy (Oxymoron?)†Richard Booth†declared himself the King of Hay, and Hay an independent Kingdom of Books! Suddenly Hay became a destination. Hats off to the self-appointed King, he kept out corporate investors and big retail chains ensuring the town comprised independent traders that serve a lively community where sheep farmers rub shoulders with Y-generation idealists. And the cherry on the cake, the annual descent of the world's literati each spring. My line up for Hay Festival includes; Michael Morpurgo, Meera Syal, Helen MacDonald, Marcus Brigstock and an African and Welsh harp concert.

Then, in the autumn, and Iím already quaking in my flip-flops, Iíve enrolled for the†York Festival of Writing.†A mind-exploding selection of workshops awaits me AND two ten-minute slots with agents where I can pitch works in progress. But which WIP to choose of my six Nano projects? Or a totally new idea altogether? My business English students have to prepare an elevator pitch for their homework and Iíve decided I need to join them. I found this short session by Michael Hyatt especially useful for writers.

So whatís on your festival agenda this year? Will you be donning silly footwear or slip on your old faithfuls and stay home?

This Week on Writers Abroad, 20th April 2015
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing ex-pat writers anthology

The weather here changed dramatically from warm sunshine on Saturday to rain on Sunday. It's probably just as well that it wasnít fine all weekend, since I was attending an excellent writing workshop led by novelist Amanda Hodgkinson with our local writing group. It was concentrated but fun. Amanda also wrote the foreword to our last anthology, Foreign and Far Away.

Dianne has posted this weekís blog. A thoughtful piece about plotting and how she approaches it, given that she has restricted writing time. Some very useful tips, too.

The Monday Muses this week are courtesy of Alyson, with a great selection of prompts, most of them aimed at getting us started on our anthology 2015's theme of light.

The April Challenge is well underway. Jo has a 750-word story, Alyson has a fiction and a non-fiction piece and Glyn has got off the blocks with a poem for Kaleidoscope. Please give them the benefit of your critiques.

The Bragging Stool has filled up this week.

  • Glyn/John is in demand for poetry readings at literary festivals. His publisher Mosaique Press also wants to publish another chapbook of his poems.
  • Angelaís story ĎThe Cimmerian Clubí was performed live in Leeds by Liarsí League.
  • Rilla had an article in Danish about anti-immigration tendencies in Denmark published in an online newspaper.
  • One of Alysonís flash fiction stories was shortlisted in this monthís Writing Magazine.
  • And Jill has had two stories accepted by Alfie Dog Fiction website.

Congratulations to all Ė nice to see so much activity.

The Call for Submissions for our next anthology, Kaleidoscope, has been finalised. So please spread it around to ex-pat writers of your acquaintance wherever you can. Youíll find the final version on DropBox in the Anthology 2015 folder. But please remember NOT to cut and paste it, simply to copy the file to your own computer.

Glyn is also marshalling the reading groups in advance for the anthology submissions. If you are keen to be on the poetry group, please let him know (and also tell him if you want to do fiction, too). Otherwise, assume you will be on one of the fiction groups.

The next formal chat is on Sunday 26th April 11 am CET with Doreen in the chair. Apologies to Doreen/Jo please. I canít make it this time, unfortunately.

Thatís it. Let me know if Iíve missed anything. Have a good writing week.

Knowing Where I'm Going
Category: Writing
Tags: plot structure writing

I often lament about how long it takes me to get anything written during the short chunks of time I have available each day. Since my time is limited I need to make the best use I can of it. The one thing that Iíve found most helpful when Iím writing my first draft is to have the story plotted before I start writing. Then I have a map to keep me going in the direction I want to go.

I first thought about how important plotting was after reading How I Went From Writing 2000 Words A Day to 10,000 Words A Day by Rachel Aaron. The key point she came back to over and over was that you canít increase your writing output in a productive way without knowing where your story should be going. The lesson was invaluable to me.

Once I had decided that I would outline my plots before I started to write I needed to know how I should structure these plots. Iíve read a few books, blog posts and other instructional materials on outlining a plot and ended up with too many choices. Thereís the three act structure which consists of the set up, a conflict and a resolution to the problem and then thereís several plot structures that have varying numbers of points in the story arc. Most of these arcs include a set up, inciting incident, rising action, conflict and resolution. Often the theories are saying much the same thing but the whole thing does get a bit confusing.

The one that I find the easiest to remember and use is the Four Part Structure. Itís not radically different from any of the other theories Ė I just find it succinct and easy to grasp.

Below Iíve paraphrased the basics of Storyfix.comís explanation of the Four Part Structure:

The set up is exactly that. It sets up who the characters are and what the problem is.

The second part is the response. This is where the main character responds to the inciting incident in the first part of the story. Depending on the length of the story, there may be one or more attempts to solve the problem but the character isnít successful and itís not clear yet whether or not he will be.

The third part is the attack. The character finally figures out what needs to be done and attacks the problem in an effective manner. The problem still isnít solved but the character is on the right track.

The fourth part is the resolution. The character finally accomplishes what he needs to do to solve the problem.

Thatís just the basics of it. You can read the detailed explanation on Storyfixís website.

What plot structure do you use? Or do you plot before you write?

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Monday, April 20, 2015
This Week on Writers Abroad, 20th April 2015
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