Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Guest: Wolf Schimanski

My Guest this week will have your heart thumping in your chest as you read one of his fast-paced action thrillers. But what makes an author choose to try to give you a heart attack? Ladies and Gentlemen...


Wolf Schimanski


My Writing and Motivation Influences

I really cannot say I have any experience in blogging whatsoever so I thought I would share some ideas and facts about how I came to write and who and what has influenced me along the way. My Mom was an insatiable reader and devoured books by the hundreds if not thousands throughout her 94 years on this planet. That passion must have been genetic as it was certainly passed down to me. Anything that looked remotely mysterious and suspenseful, I picked up and tore through. After some time, however, I started looking for that unique blend of excitement, suspense, action, spice and humor that only the Masters of my action/thriller genre could provide.

Amazon Link
I call them the Masters not only because of the millions of books they have sold world-wide but because of the way they have touched, motivated, inspired and influenced me. There is a long list of them but I have really concentrated on four to whom I am extremely grateful. First and foremost is the late and great Robert B. Parker whose dry wit, short sentences and unique stories amaze me every time I read one of his fabulous books.

Secondly, the amazing James Patterson; not so much his current work but his earlier Alex Cross series just blew me away and still gives me spine tingles every time I re-read those books.

Thirdly, Greg Iles has now become my favorite current author. His vivid descriptions of life in the deep south along with his scorching plot lines keep me turning those pages in awe. And last but certainly not least, John Sandford, just a terrific novelist and master storyteller of whom I can never get enough of.

Steven King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham and so many more have also managed to touch my thriller soul and to these authors I will always be thankful for what they were able to share with the world and myself. Because of these great writers, I was sitting around reflecting a number of years ago and a strange, wonderful and exciting thought came to me. “What would I like to read next?” And with that came, “Why not write the story I would like to read most that my favorite authors have not written?”

Now that I had a mission, how was I going to fulfill it? I started with a correspondence course on the essentials of writing as after all, just being a reader, what did I know about writing?  I had written some articles for a high school entertainment paper years ago but that hardly qualified me as a writer. So after learning the basics and being tutored by a successful author in his own right, the “Meter” series was born.  Once I finished the first book, 'Meter of Deception', my problem was now what do I do to get the message out to all the people out there that just could not wait for it, right?

Wrong. I had to figure out how to publish and market the book as well. After some unanswered query letters, I decided to take the book by the horns and do some research into what type of options were available for someone like me,  eager to  see my stories in print and get it into the hands of thriller fans. I found one such company called Createspace who designated a talented team of professionals to work with me on shaping and creating my dream, my first novel in print.

Amazon Link
The lessons learned from the first book were transferred into the second one, 'Meter of Corruption' which was published in early 2014, using the same characters from the first book. The reason being that I felt the characters had much more growing and experiencing to do so why not see what happens to them 5 years later? And so far my readers have agreed with my decision which has led me to work on my third book 'Meter of Redemption' to be completed sometime next year hopefully. This will complete the “Meter” series and give these unique and interesting characters the closure they deserve.

Anyone that has read Parker, Iles, Patterson and Sandford and then my books, will see where my influences and inspirations come from. I have never hesitated giving credit where credit is due. I owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude along with my wife who is also my editor and staunchest supporter and all the readers and reviewers who have read and enjoyed my books so far. 

This whole journey has been a learning experience to this point and there is nothing more gratifying when a happy reader stops me or sends me a note to say, “I loved your book and cannot wait for the next one.” It proves that out of a crazy, totally obtuse idea, magic can happen; not only magic in my own life but magic in other people’s lives. It’s exciting to know I have the power to do that through a keyboard and some dear people that believe in me. 

So I will continue on my quest to write the most scintillating, exotic, thrilling and exciting page turners that I can and will never stop paying homage to the great writers that have inspired me and so many others, the Masters of my Action/Thriller genre.

BIO:


Wolf Schimanski is a man of many interests and talents. He has trained in martial arts, enjoys a variety of sports and is an accomplished guitarist and musician. Professionally Schimanski worked many years in the information technology, management and financial planning industries.

An avid reader turned breakthrough author, Schimanski brings his own unique spin to the action/thriller genre and thus far has released two exceptionally gripping, fast paced works of fiction - 'Meter of Deception' and 'Meter of Corruption'.

Schimanski lives with his wife Terri and divides his time between their lakeside home in Mount Forest, Ontario in the summer and their winter residence in London, Ontario, Canada.  He is currently working on his third novel, the final installment in the Meter trilogy.

When Wolf is not penning his action thrillers or plucking guitar strings, he can be found here:

Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/Wolf-Schimanski/e/B0094JVA8O
GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7066889.Wolf_Schimanski
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wolfschim
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorWolfSchimanski

Thank you, Wolf, for talking about a subject most writers seem to shy away from, the Masters who've influenced their own work. Best wishes for book 3 in the series, 'Meter of Redemption'.

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to turn an IDEA into a novel

Another PRACTICAL post this week about what to do if you have an idea, but can't turn it into a storyline. This dilema faces all writers at some point. 
Okay, we have a potential source of ideas – everything! Reading outside our comfort zones helps stimulate our minds and you could easily find apparently disconnected seeds growing together to form a huge tree. 

But, what if you can’t see how to turn that idea into a story? What then?

As I’ve mentioned a few thousand times, I have been professionally trained in problem-solving. There a particular technique that I’ve often applied to my writing, which I am going to share with you now. This trick is not just for turning a germ of an idea into a potential storyline, it also works wonders when you are ‘stuck’ at a particular point in your tale and can’t see the way forward. When I was taught this, I was told it was called the ‘Word Analysis’ technique – call it whatever you will – labels are unimportant as long as something works. Remember my Sensei? “Use what is useful, throw the rest away". 

The guy who taught me this particular technique used to say that 90% of all solutions resides in the correct definition of the problem. The way it works is this: take a blank sheet of paper and describe you problem. Let’s work through an example to make this crystal clear – it does sound complex at first, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it and find yourself applying the technique in your head while driving the kids to school, walking the dog, snail-wrangling in Peru...

Definition of problem: X is allowed to walk free from a courtroom after having murdered someone, been caught, tried before a Judge, and found guilty. [This is our idea - if you have read 'Outsourced' you may recognize where the opening chapter originated.]

Sounds like a good premise for a John Grisham-type novel, right? Only problem, you can’t figure out how to turn the idea into a novel.

Before continuing, spend five minutes thinking about the idea – note down what you can come up with, then carry on reading. Some visual food for thought on the left.


 Now let’s apply the technique:

Step one: Question your basic assumptions

Did X really murder the victim? How was X caught? What evidence was available? How was X convicted? What would make a Judge release a convicted murderer? Would the Police agree to the release? And the Prosecuting Counsel? Is X the only person being allowed to walk? Is this something the Judge has done before?

Already you will notice two things – none of the questions are ‘What if?’ and your mind is already filling in some of the answers.

Step two: Go back to the definition and read the language you used. Consider the key words themselves and come up with alternatives, if these exist.

Key words here could be walk, courtroom, free, allowed, murdered, caught, trial (tried) and judge.

We said ‘walk free from the courtroom’ – nicely dramatic, would make a good opening scene perhaps. But how ‘free’ is X? Is he (I’ll use ‘he’ just to make reading this easier) on a leash of some sort? Is he free as long as he does something else – for the police, the Prosecutor or the Judge? Or is it bigger? Does he have to do something for the country or Mankind?

Now we have much more grist for the mill. The genre we have chosen to use will also suggest options. Suppose it’s Sci-fi, then X’s penance for freedom could have something to do with defeating an invading population of aliens by becoming infected with a deadly virus strain and transporting himself to their home planet.

Maybe it’s just straight thriller material: could X’s accomplices have the Judge’s family under wraps? Are the cops in on this too? Does the Judge secretly want someone else killed and by freeing this person, someone he knows is a killer, on a technicality, he can subsequently use X against his own target.

And so on…

By using alternative words for our key words, even more options emerge:

Walk – alternatives: carried, flee, kidnapped, escape.

Step three: Look for connection in the key words

Was this the Judge who convicted X or was it someone else and this is the appeal? What could happen to nullify the evidence against X? Was the trial and subsequent conviction legitimate, or is this Judge running their own private courtroom because they are a vigilante of sorts?

Step four: Now ask WHY?

This will highlight motivation and provide a solid basis for the story to evolve.

You see just how quickly we have progressed from having a problem to having a surfeit of possible solutions?

It’s a technique that usually works…

Until it doesn’t.

Sometimes you may need something else to get you jump-started, so the following should also prove useful:

Ask the Why question 7 times.

Why was X freed?
Why did the cops allow this?
Why did the Prosecuting Counsel allow this?
Why did X leave the courtroom and not the prison?
Why did…

You may not find 7 Why’s but it will get you thinking.


Look for humor in the situation.

Don’t worry about the genre you wish to use for now; is this in any way funny? Has X eaten the evidence in the courtroom, for example? Yes, I know it’s outlandish, but it will get you thinking.


Look at the situation from different viewpoints.

When you wrote the definition, there was an implied ‘this is X’s story’ feel to it. So, how would the cops, Prosecutor, Judge, Defense Counsel, Press, courtroom security guard, public, etc. react? This could be their story.


Best-case/Worst-case scenarios

What is the best and worst that could happen to X, the Judge, the cops, the Prosecutor, the Defense Counsel, the public etc. as a result of this decision? More ideas, right?

Ask someone else.

Not the dog (cat). You may find that a friend, spouse, child, the local barman, whatever, has a fresh opinion that stimulates your thoughts into a new direction. In the case cited, I’d try to find a Police Officer and ask them – they just might have experienced something similar, you never know.


A last word:

When trying to kick-start a novel idea, you need to always assume you have a GOOD idea to start with – only after tearing into it for a few days and not getting anywhere, should you leave it annotated in your notebook for some future time. You will know when your idea is beginning to take shape when you start to see the motivation behind your characters’ actions.




The above was extracted from the chapter on Turning Ideas into Stories in 'How NOT to be an ASPIRING Writer' by yours truly. It's aimed at anyone who's new to this writing business and, using a witty, chatty style, I will walk you through the minefield that is the new publishing paradigm; from how to generate an idea to using Social Media and all the interesting stuff in between.

If you want to lose that 'aspiring' word or simply become better at writing fiction (any genre) then this is for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Navel-gazing for the uninitiated

Easter is upon us and, taking a break from hosting Guests, this week I present you with a popular post from the past (try saying that with a mouthful of popcorn). It's time for a Selfie...

"From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it."

- Groucho Marx, comedian and Genius (immortal)
Amazon Link


I often use the analogy of movies when talking about writing novels because they do have a number of things in common. This is yet another, although here there is a marked difference. Without a doubt this is possibly the most soul-destroying event any new writer will experience.

When making a movie, the Director will film many takes that will not end up in the final version of the film. These could be because the actors made a mistake, burst out laughing in the middle of filming, or simply because the Director just could not produce what he wanted. These days, this material is not lost on the Cutting-room floor when the Director and Film Editor put their heads together to create the final version of the movie, the one we will see in the theater. Usually these ‘outtakes’ appear as Extras on the DVD version of the movie, so at least the Director has the opportunity of placing more of their work before the viewing public.

Not so in the Writing world.

Once you have completed your First Draft, where, if you’ll recall, your sole objective is to transfer your story from your mind onto the page, the next step is polishing it. This is known as Hara Kiri Editing and there are several steps you should follow.

When you have literally, or mentally, typed ‘THE END’, a feeling of achievement, tempered with fear, will wash over you like a Tsunami. Yes, you can understand the achievement bit – it’s been a hard slog, but finally you are there – you have written a novel! 

No, sorry, you haven’t written a novel; you have written the first draft of a novel.

I said ‘fear’; why fear? Come on, search within and recognize that YOU KNOW you made compromises, especially as you neared the end; you know you CAN do better; you know there is room for improvement. Don’t be ashamed; we all do this, although many will not admit it.

As a creative writer, yes YOU, we now leave behind the pure abandon of fabricating something out of thin air and take a step to a hybrid situation where we will force ourselves to modify our creation while still trying to keep that freshness that abounded when we were pounding the keys. It’s a bit like Dr. Frankenstein deciding his monster would look better with blue eyes and less of a hooked nose…

Let’s take a look at the first part of the editing process, step by step.

The first step, as soon as you have finished you novel is:

GO DO SOMETHING ELSE!

You need a rest, a brief one, from what you have just written. I know the ‘just written’ bit refers to an extended period of time, months, maybe even years, but you have to distance yourself from your creation for a while and gain some perspective. It’s like a surgeon operating on a family member; unless you are objective, things are not going to go well!

But I’m finally a writer… I want to write, you say.

Fine, then write… something else. Try your hand at a short story, or an article, or a blog entry, or anything not related to your novel. It will still be there when you come back; don’t let impatience be your downfall after working so hard for so long.

After a couple of weeks you can pick up your story again and you may note your attitude towards it has subtly changed. It’s now easier for you to extract the scalpel and start cutting.

I know you have agonized over every word; battled the demons of randomness to memorize the Thesaurus and select the most suitable syllable to relay your ideas to your reader. But… you now have to make your book Lean and Mean!

Step two is a Selfie. No, I’m not suggesting you take a self-portrait for the back cover; I’m talking about a Self-Edit.

This is a multipart activity, as we will see.

First label the data file that is your novel ‘[title] FIRST DRAFT’ and make at least two copies of this, if you haven’t already done so, on pendrives and remove them from the vicinity of your computer. I’m a little Old-School too, so I always print out a full copy – What for? Read the article on Copyright on my website and you’ll see. Then run the whole novel through your Word Processor’s Spell Checker. Okay, you’ve been doing this as you went along; fine, but do it again now. Make sure you have the right version of English selected (UK, US, whatever) and all the checking options switched on.

Done that? Document come back clean and approved?

Now read this:
I have a lovely spelling check
That came with my PC,
Witch plainly marks, four my revue,
Miss takes I can not sea.
I’ve run this poem threw the thing.
I’m sure your please too no.
It’s latter perfect in every weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.


Many years ago, an anonymous writer produced the above and it’s as true today as it was when it was first parsed through the spell checker – it comes out clean – no errors!

These are Homonyms and they are the bane of any Spell Checker. A Homonym can be at the same time a Homograph (words that share the same spelling, regardless of their pronunciation) and a Homophone (words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of their spelling). There are a few obvious ones that will now be lurking in your novel: there and their and they’re; we’re and wear; for, four and fore to name but a few (phew?), but the list is long, believe me – Google ‘Homonyms’ and the Internet will provide you with a huge list. You could type these into the ‘Find’ field in your Word processor and check each one, but there are easier solutions, as we’ll (wheel, well?) see (sea?).

Just a minute. Didn’t you (ewe) say we should read through our work and catch stuff like that?

Yes, but…

Now read this…

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

No, this is not a joke; it’s a real study done a few years ago at Cambridge University which basically concluded that if you retain the first and last letters of any word in their correct position, and all the others are present, our brains can correctly interpret the sense in short paragraphs of text. There's an old joke by comedian Eric Morecambe about playing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order. It’s pattern recognition, which is how we read.

Okay, the spell-checker would catch all of those.

Then there’s this:

 Your memory will recognize the
the words and convince your
your brain it is reading what should
be on the page.


Nothing wrong with that, right? 

Look again. 

Still not spot it? Read it aloud.

So if we can’t trust the Word Processor or our own brains…

I’ve mentioned the existence of self-editing software before. This is not just a spell-checker on steroids, as so many are, offering little more than your Word spell check. It’s much more and a boon to writers of all levels. It’s easy to use and its job is twofold: 

a) enable you to do a Selfie far more diligently and effectively

b) improve how you write.


Check out Stylewriter (just click on the name to visit the site – there’s a FREE trial of the software too) as a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I thoroughly recommend it. Also the company that produces it not only have the editing software, but a really useful website to teach you, using videos, how to get the most out of it. There’s even a Writing Course. When using the software, remember to switch on all the options, especially things you may think are not necessary such as checking quoted text (dialogue) where you may deliberately break the rules.

This stage of the Selfie will take time; three or four FULL days at least for a full-length novel, as you examine everything reported (including Homonyms) and make changes as you go along. Save your document as ‘[title] FIRST DRAFT’ – yes, I know we already did that, but we are only just getting started. We won’t move on to the SECOND DRAFT until we finish the Selfie.

Don’t forget to update the security copies you made after every editing session, to!

Next, PRINT the whole thing out – single side, double-spaced with a wide (two inch, five centimeter, right-hand margin and an inch on the left) margin. Yes, I know you only want to produce an eBook… bear (bare?) with me.

Now the hard bit…

SWITCH OFF YOUR COMPUTER.

Hang on! Shouldn’t I be giving this to friends and family to read and check my novel for me?

Not yet.

Find a quiet room where maybe your furry foot-warmer can accompany you but where other family members, friends, visitors, Joe Public in general are banned!

Close the door, grab a pen or pencil, find a comfortable chair, turn to page one and…

…read your novel ALOUD.

No, I don’t mean just move your lips… act it out!

Imagine you were reading it to an audience.

Read exactly what’s written, obeying all the punctuation marks (pausing for commas, semi and full colons, full stops/periods, ellipsis, etc; exclamation and interrogation marks should be treated accordingly too).

Dialogue should be read and infused with emotion – imagine your work is now a movie and you are hearing actors representing it on the screen.

Yes, you will find yourself saying “silly me; I’ve made a mistake there” (or shorter words conveying the same sentiment) and pausing to make use of the acreage in the margin – good, you’re getting the idea – don’t stop to rush to your computer to make the changes yet though. Work through the complete novel – it will take days, but it will give you a great sense of the rhythm and flow whilst drawing your attention to things you have forgotten to include (!) or stuff that needs cutting (!!) because it doesn’t add anything to the narrative. You may even change the order of events (!!!), even whole chapters (!!!!). You may decide to eliminate complete characters (!!!!!!).

I told you it was hard work, but comfort yourself with the knowledge that your novel will be all the better for this.

My very first draft of ‘2012’ (note use of lower case – I refer to the copy that was the input to the process described above) was 118,000 words in length; the published version was 88,000 words. Yes I did just say I chopped 30,000 words from that novel!

A trick I have for this stage of the Selfie is to use the right margin for making corrections (I always choose a contrasting ink color that’s easy to spot against the black ink on the page), underline the text where the correction needs to be applied, and then put a large X in the left-hand margin at the start of the line. I also fold down the top left-hand corner of any pages that have any corrections to make them easy to locate. You will probably find that most pages will end up like this; at this stage in ‘the CULL – Bloodstone’ only four pages out of the complete novel did not have bent corners, and one of those said ‘THE END’!

Finally, if you haven’t been carted off to a mental institution at the behest of worried family members after hearing you talk to yourself for days on end in a locked room, you are ready for the next bit of the Selfie.

BACK TO THE BATCAVE!

Apply all the changes. When you finish each chapter, save it (backup copies as well) and go back and read it aloud again, this time not only checking you haven’t missed anything, but evaluating the PACE of what you’ve written. Try to be as objective as possible, and ensure you are judging ONLY the Pace. Try to isolate your assessment so it doesn’t take into account preceding or following chapters (you have an unfair advantage over your readers in that you know what’s coming, remember). If you want some tips about playing with Pace, see this recent post: Attacking the Speed Trap

When you have finished, run the whole beastie through the self-editing software again. Then, and only then, you can change the resultant document’s name to ‘[title] SECOND DRAFT’.

If you are doing this right, you are getting pretty bored with your book by now. That’s a GOOD sign. Soldier on; we’re getting there.

Now, if you wish, you can post your work on review sites or have friends, Romans and countrymen Beta read the creation.

Finished, right? Just need to see what the amigos think of your masterpiece. Only a question of waiting now…

Sorry. Now’s the time to get the Professionals involved...


The above was extracted from the chapter on Editing in 'How NOT to be an ASPIRING Writer' by yours truly. It's aimed at anyone who's new to this writing business and, using a witty, chatty style, I will walk you through the minefield that is the new publishing paradigm; from how to turn an idea into a story to using Social Media and all the interesting stuff in between.

If you want to lose that 'aspiring' word or simply become better at writing fiction (any genre) then this is for you.



NEWSFLASH

To celebrate the appearance of book 4 (the CULL - Blood Demon) in the series, Book 1 will now be available for .99 (cents/pence) from April 1st onward.

Your Amazon Link


A selection from the many reviews:

"I was captivated throughout the novel by all of the suspense and mystery hidden behind the words. This book is James Patterson meets Dan Brown, while remaining entirely unique."

"Eric Gates is an intense writer with an intense background, experience and imagination that he has masterfully transferred into 'the CULL' series, an amazing story about two strong women, FBI agents, in pursuit of a serial killer. Amy is young, inexperienced and brash and Katie is her older, wiser partner and mentor. An interesting take on vampire legend, the tale is multifaceted - truly a story of good vs. evil and right vs wrong - and a commentary on religion, trust and the ideal of live and let live. The "good folks" are not necessarily good nor or the bad always bad. The plot is so well constructed that you are never quite sure what will happen and while you think you may know what will happen, in fact you don't. The twists and turns in the plot are unexpected and dramatic and the dimension of the characters is extraordinary."

Be Warned - Read with the lights on; Highly addictive; Food and drink WILL go cold!

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Guest: Max Raku & Aesop Magazine

My Guest on this week's blog... is not a writer. However he brings some superb practical advice and a wonderful opportunity for readers and writers alike. Intrigued? Ladies and Gentlemen...




Max Raku
(Aesop Magazine)



3 Short Tips
to Improve Your Writing


To begin with, I think it worth mentioning that I have the utmost respect for the dedication of all writers to their craft and adoration for the phenomenal literature that all too often emerges as a result. 

Aesop Magazine website
Great fiction breaks down barriers by offering a window into the minds and thoughts of others. It reveals not only the ways in which we diverge from one another, but also our interconnected aspirations, intrigues, fears and sensitivities - played out inside an innumerable multitude of characters and scenarios.

Though you will find no published novels or short stories with my name attached, for the topic of my guest post, I thought it only logical to offer up a few insights on writing that I have gleamed over several months spent as editor of the soon to launch short story magazine 'Aesop Magazine'. I hope that my experiences in selecting and editing stories for publication will prove invaluable to novice and expert writers alike in honing their skills.

The first and foremost piece of advice I would like to offer up is to have confidence in yourself and to write to your strengths. Use insights gleamed from your own experiences to help shape your narrative and share your work with others to gain feedback and criticism.

The difference between an award winner and unpublished author is all too often vanishingly small, and in a fiercely competitive industry, minor changes can lead to drastic differences in the reception of your work. 

To me, the best fiction should have the capacity to immerse the reader inside itself. The more contrived a story feels, the more detached the reader will become. While this is certainly not saying that a story needs to be grounded in the real world, inside the world of the narrative itself, events, characters and interactions should feel plausible and conceivable, no matter how shocking or surreal they might be. 
 
Alice in Wonderland may have little correlation to our everyday experiences of the world, but its success was in no small part due to the understanding by Lewis Carroll of the kind of world he created and the implications of this for his characters and their interactions with one another.

Having talked about the importance of staying true to the world you have created in your writing, it is also worth mentioning that the rubber [Eric: that's eraser for those across the Atlantic] is far more important than the pen(cil) for any writer in bringing their stories to life. And this is a point I have found to be equally true for writers of all abilities and most definitely of myself.

Whether it's a sentence or paragraph that drags on for too long, an over abundance of particular words in close proximity to one another, or inconsistent spellings of names and places, there are literally thousands of small ways to break immersion with a story. 

Though you might not catch them all, if you can minimise their frequency, the result will invariably be a better flowing narrative that will hold your readers' attention for longer - giving you an edge against others, who have been less scrupulous in their self-censorship. 

For shorter chunks of text, there are several great (free) websites that can help with this kind of thing. Wordcounter is just one example and provides all sorts of useful information. By copying and pasting in your text, it can instantly tell you your most frequently used words and how often they appear, how long your sentences are, how many paragraphs you have and more. 

If, like me, you're in the habit of writing long sentences with lots of clauses, or paragraphs running into hundreds of words, then tools like this can serve as a great reminder to go back and break up your work - making it more approachable to the casual reader.

As this article begins to creep ever closer to the thousand-word mark, it seems an appropriate moment to offer up one final pearl of wisdom. This is that brevity is key. 

Although there is nothing wrong with fleshing out the world you have created, extraneous 'filler' content should be avoided at all costs. Writers often feel compelled to include various forms of deviation from the central plot. While they can serve to enrich your story, it is worth taking the time to ensure that they don't do the opposite. When it comes to the world of writing, particularly with short fiction, it is all too often true that less is more.

If you are unsure about a segment of your story, the safest bet is to remove or reconstruct it, rather than leaving it as is.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all who have taken the time to read this far, but particularly to Eric for offering me this slot and taking the time to curate this wonderful blog. I hope I have provided some small insight into the thoughts and considerations at play when selecting a story for publication and that as a result you will notice a subtle, but visible improvement in the quality of your work - and successes with future stories.

For those who are interested, you can subscribe (for free) to Aesop Magazine via our website, or submit a story to appear in one of our future issues. I look forward to reading any submissions you might make and hope you'll love the final product as much as I've enjoyed making it.



Aesop Magazine will appear MAY 4th. Watch out for it if you are on the London Underground, or order your free electronic copy from anywhere else via the link below.


Bio:

Following the completion of a Masters in Cultural Studies in 2012, I worked as a copywriter, and subsequently as an executive at a branding and design agency. As rewarding as these jobs were, I decided to pursue my dreams and in September of 2014, the idea of the free to read short story magazine 'Aesop Magazine' was born. For the past several months, I have had the pleasure to work as editor of my own magazine, and am currently in the process of orchestrating the final details before the inaugural issue of the magazine is launched.


Important Links:


Subscriptions for electronic copies: http://www.aesopmagazine.com/home-1.html

Submissions for future issues: www.aesopmagazine.com/submissions


Thanks, Max, for those useful tips. I wish you the greatest success with this endeavour. I expect to see thousands of copies of Aesop Magazine in the hands of commuters on the London Tube soon,,and for those of you not on the Underground, get your free electronic copy via the subscriptions page on their website.