Pam's Pen

News, views and stories from Pam

Publication day is coming around fast!

Always In My Heart will hit the shelves on June 15th. This is my seventh saga and this time it’s slightly different. It centres around Shirley and Tom who have been evacuated to Angmering, a small village four miles from Worthing. Their mother, Florrie has just been diagnosed with TB and faces a long regime of treatment. Shirley and Tom are sent to a run-down farm where they are expected to do their share of the chores. The farmer’s wife is heavily pregnant and when the baby comes, it falls to Shirley to help her. They become friends but then Shirley stumbles across a dark secret which will alter all their lives for ever.

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How a story works: The structure

The beginning >           The Middle >                                     The End  

Set up                           Confrontation (Black moment)          Resolution

At the Beginning you introduce the reader to the setting, the characters and the situation. You set up the situation which will drive the main character from their ‘normal’ life toward conflict. Great stories begin with a dramatic thrust which takes  the main character right into the thick of things.

In the Middle of the story you should develop a series of complications and obstacles, each leading to a mini crisis. Though each of these crises are temporarily resolved, the story leads inevitably to an ultimate crisis—the Climax. As the story progresses, there is a rising and falling of tension with each crisis, but there should be an overall rising tension which brings us to the Black Moment. This is when all seems lost and the reader can’t see how the main character will get out of the pickle he’s in.

At the End, the Climax and the loose ends of the story are resolved. Tension rapidly dissipates because impossible to sustain a reader’s interest for long after the climax has been reached. Finish your story and get out.

A Girl Called Emilie

The letter had come as a bit of a shock.

Of course he knew he had been there. It was the place where they’d stayed in that amazing old manor house. He’d been with a crowd of mates on a so-called cultural exchange to Poitou Charente in France, organised by the local council. The idea was to foster relations with the people of the area as part of the twinning of their two regions.

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Telling your life story

A lot of people want to tell their own life story, but how do you begin?

First, get a clear idea of what you actually want to do. Ask yourself ‘why do I want to write my story?’
Is it:
to remember
to tell your side of the story
to celebrate your life
to share your wisdom
to bear witness to an event or a time because you were there
for inner healing
to leave a legacy for your family or future generations
to show your connection to the community in which you live
OR; do you simply want to talk about something you’re passionate about?

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20 common publishing failures

writing-tips[1]Twenty common reasons why a short story failed to get published.

  1.  Well-worn theme – the magazine may already have a glut of the same type of stories. Study your market and try a topic that’s a little different.
  2. Too dull.
  3. Too melodramatic.
  4. The wrong central character.
  5. Slow beginning.
  6. Uninteresting characters.
  7. Change of view point. Whose story is it?
  8. Time span too long. A short story cannot cope with a War and Peace epic.
  9. Plot too contrived. The ending has to be logical.
  10. Trivial (another word for boring).
  11. Over-blown descriptions.
  12. Muddled or confusing.
  13. No shape – have a clear structure with a beginning, middle & end.
  14. Lack of conflict (boring again!).
  15. Too little dialogue.
  16. Unbelievable dialogue.
  17. Goes off on a tangent. Stick to the point.
  18. Bad writing.
  19. Bad spelling and punctuation.
  20. Unsatisfactory ending. It doesn’t need to be a Hollywood-swell-the-music ending but the reader feel it was worth taking the time to read it.

Setting out a manuscript

This is an example of the way in which you should set out your manuscript click on the link to view a .PDF (opens in a new window) of an example manuscript page.

Setting out a manuscript PDF Example

Thinking about Plot

Every story needs a plot but what is it and how do you write it?

Plot is simply what happens to your character.

Definition of Plot: It is the series of events, which can be chronological or told with some flashbacks, which move the story from the beginning to the end.

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Writing a Memoir

I am a hoarder and I keep silly things. I have a small suitcase of tickets, letters and meaningless fodder which trigger memories whenever I look at them. I realised that when I’m dead and gone, they would be the first things to go straight into the bin. I wanted my children and grandchildren to understand why they were important to me so I bought two expensive photo albums and over the next two years I created two almost identical ‘scrapbooks’ interjected with my story. Now the bus ticket had meaning, and the front and back covers of my lunch vouchers told a story.

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Writing Non-Ficiton

When it comes to writing a Non-fiction Book:

  • You need a ‘new angle’ on your subject. Re-inventing the wheel will not get you published. Find a few sentences which will convince the publisher this is a book with a difference.

  • Read other non-fiction books, especially those books already published by your chosen publisher. Every publisher had a ‘style’.

  • Make your work as perfect as possible. If giving instructions, make sure they are idiot proof.

  • Send synopsis and first chapter. Include table of contents. Remember you only get one shot with each publisher so make it as professional as possible.

  • Use Writers’ & Artists Year Book / Writers’ Handbook to find the ideal publisher for your book.

  • Make your cover letter brief and to the point. Remember it’s a business letter.

  • State your qualifications for writing this book. (You’ve got a Master’s Degree in pot scouring/ or spent fifteen years of following the team, etc.)

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12 writing Rules

12 Writing Rules

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  1. Write every day.
  2. Don’t give up the day job. It’s hard for a writer to earn a living from their work.
  3. Use the best part of your day to write. If you’re a morning person, get up early. Make space to write when it best suits you.
  4. Jot down ideas whenever you have a moment.
  5. Read constantly.
  6. Get the first draft done (warts and all), then edit your work.
  7. If you’re having problems with a part of the story, ask yourself, ‘is this bit really needed?’
  8. Take a break every now and then to think your story through.
  9. Rewrite as many times as it takes to get it as perfect as you can.
  10. Cut out any unnecessary words and anything which doesn’t move the story along.
  11. When you’ve finished, leave your work for a period of time then re-read and re-edit.
  1. When you are satisfied that you’ve done the best you can, send it off and begin the next project.