Wannabe a Writer?

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Peter James at Guildford Book Festival 2017

Here is a short video with highlights from the Guildford Book Festival 2017, featuring Jane Wenham-Jones interviewing bestselling author Peter James.

Wanna Write a Novel in 30 Days?

How do you fancy writing the complete first draft of a novel in just thirty days? That's your mission, should you choose to accept it. I am, of course, talking about…

NaNoWriMo crest


National Novel Writing Month

For those who've never heard of this strange beast, it's a just-for-fun challenge where you write 50,000 words in the month of November. That's an average of 1,667 words per day. It costs nothing and there are no prizes, except the glorious feeling you get on completion.

I've done this several times in past years and I can say that it greatly boosts your enthusiasm for writing by taking part. You also get to communicate with other "competitors" online, where there's a friendly and encouraging community.

I'm thinking of doing it again this year.

How about you?

Harlots & Hangers-on

More details are available from the BroadstairsLit website: broadstairslit.co.uk.

Click the image to enlarge.

Poster image for the event.

Glenda Barnett: Celia Ladygarden and the Curious Curiosity

Celia Ladygarden and the Curious Curiosity

My name is Glenda Barnett and I live in a small village in rural North Devon, with my husband and little dog Treacle.

I have always enjoyed writing since a small child and I am never seen without a notebook about my person. There is in day to day life lots of funny and interesting moments and I scribble them away for future use.

A lot of my writing has been comedy scripts and I have been writing pantomimes for the past 18 years, not as easy as some might think.

For the past 3 years my blog Celia Ladygarden, Trimming The Bush Of Life has been kindly received, so I decided to write a 'Celia' murder mystery.

Celia Ladygarden and the Curious Curiosity, was published at the end of January, my first book. Thrilling!

I have a small collection of short stories to be published in August and I am working on the next 'Celia' book, plus squeezing a new pantomime script in.

I am very pleased to have joined this group and looking forward to getting to know some of you.

A Problem Shared

Jane Wenham-Jones – agony aunt for Writing Magazine – gives advice on literary queries, writing worries and the obstacles faced by anyone hoping to be published.

A Problem Shared - Volume 1
A Problem Shared - Volume 2
A Problem Shared - Volume 3
A Problem Shared - Volume 4

The first volume is free to download from Amazon. Only 99p for the other volumes.

NAWGFest 2017

The National Association of Writers' Groups presents…

Chain logo
Chain logo

NAWGFest 2017

1st—3rd/4th September 2017
University of Warwick

What makes a writing festival the best ever?

Tutors? Published Authors? Speakers? Agents?
Find out and learn from:
  • Peter Robinson
  • Steve Bowkett
  • Fran Flint
  • Anita Loughrey
  • Stephen Booth
  • Cressida Downing
  • Tim Wilson
  • Alison Chisholm
  • Hattie Grunewald
  • Kate Nash

To book your place and for full details…


Email: booking-festival@nawg.co.uk

For brochure by post:


Or phone: +44 173 331 1680

Book now:

to get your first choice of workshops.

Great savings for NAWG members:

join NAWG now!

Rules for Writing: Good, Bad & Ugly

Rules fist

During my years as an apprentice writer, I've encountered many writing rules – things to do and things not to do when producing a piece of writing. In my opinion, some are good, some are bad, and some are downright ugly.

They can come from all over the place: how-to books, creative writing courses, other writers, people's blogs and other places on the internet. It's useful to know the provenance of a writing rule, but not essential, in order to use it. What's crucial, at least for me, is that you have to believe in the rule.

Broken pencil

Unless the reasons behind a writing rule are blindingly obvious, I have trouble taking it seriously, unless a convincing justification is given. All too often, I see rules where this is not the case. A classic example is:

"Never start a chapter with dialogue."

To this day, I've never heard a satisfactory reason given for this. Perhaps it was someone's personal preference that somehow got amplified into a rule by a Chinese whispers effect.

Wouldn't it be great if we could create and maintain a list of writing rules, including an indication of their true usefulness. Well, I propose we start one right here. I'll start it off and you can all chip in and help.


  • They're not really rules, they're just guidelines.
  • Rules can be broken, if you know what you're doing.

List of Rules

Here are a few to get us going…

Rule Description / Justification Rating
Avoid cliches. They're well-worn and will bore the reader. Good
Avoid adjectives/adverbs. Unnecessary descriptive words slow down the reader and tell them what to think, rather than letting them imagine things for themselves. Good
Don't start a chapter with dialogue. ? Ugly
Don't use prologues/epilogues. They can bore the reader with uninteresting back-story, rather than throwing them straight into the action. Bad?
Show, don't tell. Describe characters, places and things by what they do and what happens, rather than long descriptions. This will increase the narrative pace and keep the reader more interested. Good
Use all senses. Writing with five (or more) senses enriches the reader's experience. Good
Start a chapter with action. Good for narrative pace. ?
Murder your darlings. Remove pieces of text that do not help the story. Even if the author likes them, the reader may not. Good
Avoid speech tags. They can jar the reader out of dialogue if they are over-used. The word "said" is apparently somewhat invisible. ?

Please help me to complete this table by leaving comments below, or sending me a message at wannabe@darkskipper.com. What other rules do you know? Are the ones above correct or wrong, in your opinion?

Thanks — Captain Black.

Wannabe a Guest?

Guest authors wanted

Would you like to give yourself and your writing a bit of promotion? You could be an honoured guest in our guest room.

Tell us about yourself, your writing career and the things you're working on.

Interested? Leave a comment below or contact wannabe@darkskipper.com.

Themed Chats

Chatting teeth

There's an idea that's been kicking around for a while: to occasionally have themed chats in place of our usual general gossip.

A themed chat would basically be an informal questions and answers session, on a particular writing-related theme. This would take place over our Internet Relay Chat (IRC) on channel "#wannabe". See our chat room for details.

The regular chats are on Sundays at 10:30 (UK time), but other days and times could be arranged, depending on people's availability.

Would this be something you'd take part in? I suppose the big question is: which themes will be covered? Well, over to you. Why not tell us which writing-related themes would be useful. We can make a list and start with the most popular ones.

Wentworth Writing Weekend

Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire

26th, 27th and 28th May 2017

Full details on the National Association of Writers' Groups' website.

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