Category Archives: creative

Think big

Author: Let Readers Read Your Writing

You’ve written a book – a novel. You’ve had friends read it and have received encouraging comments. You could go ahead and publish on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, CreateSpace or Smashwords. (These links take you their publishing pages.)

However, if you’re not quite ready for total exposure you can take advantage of Wattpad – a website that publishes new and old writing a chapter at a time.  You can read another writer’s style and decide whether it is for you, then go look for them in the online book stores. Or you can simply sample and read on – a chapter at a time – the work of authors who appeal.

That sort of dip-in and leave or come-again reading without having to commit any cost is useful in many ways. You can use the talents of others to compare or lift your own writing style.

James Joyce  – masterful writing still

I was able to click into “The Dubliners”, a collection of short stories by James Joyce (now out of copyright). I read Joyce’s story “The Sisters”. It’s written in the style of last century, but what stimulated my writer mind was the subtlety of the revelation of characters. It was not the sisters but the character of the priest which is revealed, hint by hint. Joyce’s use of language, though now apparently old-fashioned, is masterful still.

Wattpad for aspiring authors

Here are a few trending titles on Wattpad right now:


The real benefit of Wattpad for an indie author with a completed book is the option you have of uploading your own works to the website (unpaid, of course) and testing out the response of readers. You could actually write your story online in their text editor, but I would urge you to copy and paste into the editor and follow the instructions to upload your story. It’s a great way of testing out the potential popularity for a serial.

Be careful, though, that you’re not infringing any of the rules of the websites where you may want to publish later, e.g. Amazon has strict rules about how much of a work may be published elsewhere if you choose to enrol in the Kindle Direct program and receive higher percentage royalties.

Become an educated author

No I’m not advocating that you go out and spend megabucks on books and writing/publishing or marketing courses. The information is out there and ready for the taking if you are prepared to spend time sifting through the dross. Look for blogs by successful writers – those with more than one book on the online shelves. Here are two I suggest you check out:

  • Non-fiction author Tim Ferriss’ How to Write a Bestselling Book This Year blog. This link to Tim’s blog is littered with other links that will take you to more information. Tim is author of the “Four Hour Workweek”, “The Four Hour Body” and several others in the same vein.
  • Well researched fiction author, Joanna Penn writes at The Creative Penn blog and invites in equally talented authors to talk about the processes they use to make them great. Joanna adds podcasts to her blogs which you an download and listen to at a later date.


Of course, I’d like you to check my own WriteGear Facebook page where I post many links to the results of my research, and you can enrol at my website to access the long list of how-to writing and publishing videos.

All of these blogs and websites require you to register, but the pay-back for writers who want to learn and succeed will be tremendous.  And who knows? You might even discover new authors you’d like to follow.

In the creative flow – Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

What is a ‘Failure’ in Writing

I was talking with my daughter, also an accomplished though technically ‘unpublished’ author, and she reminded me of a truth I’d overlooked: writing and sticking at it is ‘success’.

November is when you write MORE

In 2014 I entered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s a website invention of Americans, but now world-wide, where writers set themselves the task of achieving at 50,000 words in the month of November. The ideal situation is that you clear your month of any distractions and write rapidly from the heart to get as many words as possible down on paper.

My writing distractions

Well, my November was far from empty of distractions:

  • I was away from home for two weeks working
  • I was trying to supervise rather stressful and ever extending earthquake repairs on two properties
  • I was sleeping rough in one room of one of the houses under repair
  • I was completing interior painting at night after the workmen left (I wasn’t supposed to be on site during the day)
  • In the two weeks I was at home I was catching up and trying to prepare our home so that others could rent it for six weeks
  • And (did I mention?) I was trying to write

Success in writing

I didn’t reach 50,000 words. I managed only 42,000 in that month – a failure, I assumed.

My daughter, bless her, pointed out that 42,000 words is a lot of writing and far from a failure. It is for many half a novel and far more words than many ever write. And I am continuing to develop that novel, which is another success.

Writers who worked other jobs while writing

It would be ideal to have endless days in November in which to write. However, that is not what many successful writers experienced. In New Zealand, for example, Margaret Mahy produced her internationally successful children’s books while working full time in a library and bringing up two daughters.

T.S. Eliot worked full time at a bank, according to biographers. 

Environmentalist  (The Wilderness Letters) Wallace Stegner, and author of novels Crossing to Safety  and The Spectator Bird, wrote four hours early in the morning, then went off to teach at prestigious universities. 

How fast should you write?

Author and blogger James Thayer suggests a less rigorous schedule for writing than NaNoWriMo:

  • “Initial plotting:  one or two weeks.
  • Research and further plotting:  four to six weeks.
  • Drafting outline:  two to three weeks.
  • Writing the novel:  one page (300 words) a day.   Finish the novel one year after starting the first manuscript word.  If you work full time, 300 words a day is a reasonable goal.
  • Editing the completed manuscript:  about one month.

“Not only will a schedule prompt you to steadily produce words, it will—when the undertaking at times seems overwhelming—offer a liberation date, “ suggests Thayer.

Avoiding NaNoWriMo Failure

Plot and Outline

Two of the things I did not do prior to starting my NaNoWriMo experience were:

  • Initial plotting and
  • Drafting an outline

I had no idea what to base my new novel on. I had another project on the mental boil but wasn’t ready to start on that. Then I picked up on an idea I’d started years before which was basically in note form.

After the first 3000 words I realised the concept would have to change dramatically so I started again and created a short biography of the characters – a large family, and an initial outline. By this stage five of the 30 days had gone.

Tip 1 – Don’t start NaNoWriMo before both those above tasks are complete

Researching the era

I had a clearly defined era that I wanted to set the novel in, but I discovered as I wrote there was so much I had forgotten. For instance:

  • What implements and appliances were around then?
  • How did people dress?
  • How did the ‘morality’ of different strata of society differ?

All of this information is pertinent to my new novel and I have had to stop writing to check if some plot twist could have happened.

Tip 2 – Think about and research the era in which your novel is set

Get started

This is the most important of all. Getting going was a major triumph in itself. I could have so easily decided that with all the distractions and lack of preparation and set-backs it was all too hard. But I started. and here I am over halfway through a novel I’m really pleased with.

It doesn’t matter that I only achieved 42,000 words in November – I started a second novel.

When you write those first words and the computer tells you you’ve written 492 words and your target is 90,000 the task may feel overwhelming.  But remember: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” according to that famous quote by Chinese philosopher Laozi. 

Every 90,000 novel, every 150,000 novel started with just ONE word.

Tip 3 – Don’t let the possibility of failure stop you from starting to write – just start

Heather Sylvawood, emerging novelist and Amazon Author

Can you write an accent into your stories?

Loik whatcha red, mate? Dun wanna do ya hed in wif awl vat stuff. No watta mean?

Watcha sayin’, I gotta accent? I speak like we awl do – proppa hinglish.

Here are a few videos that will attune your ear into the differences between accents.

New Zild

The New Zealand accent is an amalgam of many influences.


Australian versus New Zealand accents

Listen carefully to Amy’s distinction between long and short vowels.

British versus North American accents

Here a few words that are said quite differently between these northern hemisphere countries. You can use vowels and even hyphens to exaggerate the syllables and length of the word sound.


Writing accents

So how do you write an accent on the page?

Identify key words where accent differences show

Get creative with your written words.  In these videos (above) key words were mentioned where there were distinct differences in pronunciation.  Often the differences are around the length of the vowels. Use these options

  • A (a, e, i)
  • E (e, ee, eh)
  • I (i, e, ee, eye)
  • O (oh, oo, o-a)
  • u (oo, uh, a )

Using these letters in place of the normal spelling can alter the way the word is ‘heard’ in the reader’s brain. Only a few words will start them thinking in the accent and add credibility to your dialogue. You don’t even have to continue beyond a page or two – just keep adding in the odd word in the accent and the reader will make up the rest.

English was always a bastard language or change is inevitable

Take this history of English as you’ve possibly never seen it before:

English influences were bound to mould the way we speak.

Let’s have some comments in a favourite accent and we’ll see if we can work them out!

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author