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How to write advice

FREE writing creativity app and How to Write ebooks

Story Lite has a bigger and better sibling, NOTES STORY BOARD v2.2 – with images and a lot of clip art and free templates, advice files etc.

There are also How to Write ebooks.

Please visit the new site for latest offers, many free.

The new site is at NOTES STORY BOARD if you want to visit that.

Crowd fund your new novel or story this way

One of our occasional writers, Ivy Ngeow, also writes fiction. She has been published and won awards. This might smooth your way to a publishing deal, but the new way involves crowdfunding, or rather, pre-selling enough copies of the book (which is completed). It is set in Chicago, USA, and Macau near Hong Kong, China, and is set in the 80s, with Reagan the untried new president, parallels with Trump there.
Check out her entertaining video here on the Unbound site now >

Heart of Glass novel by Ivy Ngeow

Heart of Glass novel by Ivy Ngeow

The pre-sales have to reach a target, such that the publisher (in this case, Unbound, part of Penguin/Random House) can remove any risk. The book is only published when pre-sales have got to a level where they will at least make some profit even if nobody else buys the book. This is like the opposite of an advance, the writer has to do all the marketing and selling to get the book out at all. It seems to work though, as many interesting and successful books have appeared via Unbound.
Unbound have just had a massive hit with The Good Immigrant, a collection of essays about being an immigrant in the UK. And Robert Llewellyn, an actor from the SF series Red Dwarf, has had many novels out through them.
Ivy will be discussing her crowd funding techniques, using Facebook, blogging, email etc, on this site soon.
I am preparing a pitch video for my next novel now!

Check out Ivy’s new crime novel here on the Unbound site now >

Writing Courses site, on the shapes of stories by Kurt Vonnegut, Houellebecq and Murakami

Just added a new blog to the Writing Courses site, on the shapes of stories by Kurt Vonnegut, with reference to Michel Houellebecq and Haruki Murakami >

So what should I write? A summary

This is a summary article of types of writing. It is written by our Fiction tutor, Karena. If you wonder what is the point of trying to write, read on…

Irina Hakamada - writer politician

Irina Hakamada - getting an award - politician and writer. Image licensed from Dreamstime, do not copy

We are surrounded by writing. Everywhere you look when you go out anywhere there is writing. You hear it on the radio, you hear and see it on television or in movies, and read it in books, magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, flyers, brochures, and all over the Internet.

Anyone become a writer with proper training and practice and guidance, and with the Internet, anyone can become a published writer. The Internet connects us all and allows us to share, but more than this it provides entertainment, information and news.

Somebody has to create all of that. The Internet is a voracious machine, gobbling up content as fast as people can make it. If you can learn you can write. If you can talk you can write. And no matter what you write, there’s a place for it.

See our general Writing Courses list >

So let’s look at all the different kinds of writing.

The first distinction is between fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction simply means that it is not all true. However, fiction is always based in truth or we wouldn’t bother to read it. Believability is a strong concern for fiction writers.

Non-fiction is, by definition, factual.

Between fiction and non-fiction the types of writing that are done today include everything that you see around you: books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television shows, radio shows, comic books, animations, speeches, newspaper reports and articles, reports for industry the government or the people, children’s stories and kinds of content for the Internet.


So what about the forms? Fiction has many forms.

Short stories may include postcard fiction, flash fiction or stories for film or plain old short stories for publication, or reading in a writers’ group.

Longer short stories are just called short stories. If it’s longer than a short story but not long enough to be called a novel, it is a novella.

Novels and novellas can be serialized and short stories can be grouped and presented like a serial with each using the same characters and different stories.


This ranges from little pamphlets and cookbooks, how to brochures and articles for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, encyclopedias, and the Internet. Full-length non-fiction books can be written on literally thousands of topics.

Textbooks are special, since they usually include a number of exercises and assessments.

Coffee-table books are more illustration than text, but the text still has to be written by a writer. Some coffee-table books are the works of one person doing both the illustration and the writing. Usually they are a mix of photography or art, and writing. Layout is very important so a designer is also vital.

Academic writing is a genre all by itself, and includes research papers, theses, and dissertations.

Essays are written by school children of all ages. And also by newspaper and magazine columnists, some of whom are famous, win awards, and get huge fees. Essays can get syndicated and anthologised.

Drama and scripting can include both fiction and dramatised non-fiction.

Anything on television has to have a script. Even talk shows or discussion groups have to have a working script.

Then there are a number of different kinds of entertainment shows that draw on fiction. These include weekly series on crime, action and adventure, humor, serialized drama (soap operas), reality shows, made for television movies, miniseries’, romance, horror, science fiction and fantasy.

All of these are separated according to the audience at which they are aimed.

Television , broadcast or online, also has a great deal of non-fiction that must be scripted. This includes the daily news, documentary shows, self-help and how-to’s, children’s informational shows, nature and science shows and political messages.

Drama also includes skits for presenting live on stage, one-act plays and full-length plays, usually three acts. Two offshoots of these are the musical and Opera.

For the Internet, content ranges from hundred word articles to many-paged documents and books.

In addition, animations, movies, filmed informational shows, podcasts, blogs, informational booklets and ad copy.

It is tempting to include advertising copy (ad copy) as non-fiction, but that’s not always true. Ad copy is special and it has close connections to poetry, another odd kind of writing, because part of the aim for each is the same, to touch on a very deep level not with the words, but with the audience’s reaction to the words.

There are many other names for most of these things I have mentioned and some odd types of each, such as reports may be white papers, which are designed to sell, scientific research reports, or news reports, or any of dozens of other types.

Reports or White Papers are non-fiction, generally designed to inform or provide facts. These must be factual, but they are designed to get people interested in a company or a product.

So not only is the range of writing high, which requires legions of writers to supply it.

When you add the Internet to this mix the demand is far outreaching the supply.

So if you want to write, all you have to do is figure out what you want to write, why, and then get somebody to help you learn to do it.

If you don’t know what you want to write, try starting with what you read. What do you like to read? Maybe that’s what you should write.

This doesn’t mean you’re going to become the next Norman Mailer or Maya Angelou or any of 1000 other great writers, but we don’t spend most of our time reading them.

Think about what you read every day, and most of it is written by people just like you.

See our new courses on the Writing Course with Story Live free site:

Writing Course for Fiction & Narrative > and

Writing Course for Movie & Film Scriptwriting >

Also the general Writing Courses list >


New writing course online now with free option

We have just launched a new writing membership site. For users of Story Lite, you can use the new online version STORY LIVE.

Visit Writing Course with Story Live site to improve your writing >

The site has two courses in Fiction & Narrative, Movies & Film Script Writing, genres, many extras, forums, competitions, and coming soon, a social media system. More courses are also being added over the next few months.

The courses have top pro tutors who are all published authors and script writers.

We are also publishing an Anthology of New Writing which is a chance to see your name in print!

Story Live has up to 10 boxes which can be dragged about the screen. There is a secure account to save files to, and they can also be exported as usual to your hard drive. The layout can be retained for further use in Story Lite.

You can use Story Live online anywhere, on tablets like the iPad too, so it is a useful notebook for anything.

If you do a course, you can do your exercises online in Story Live and save online. Then save the file and send it on to your Tutor for feedback, essential for any course.

There is a free Silver level and a Gold level with a low price high value monthly sub.

Why not visit Writing Course with Story Live and improve your writing and have some fun too?

Paranormal romance, SF, Fantasy, vampires, aliens, time travel, mixed race, Star Trek, telepathy

Paranormal romance - the horror, the horror

Paranormal romance - the horror, the horror

I noticed this intriguing sign in our local library. I assumed Paranormal Romance was a sub genre of Horror, but is apparently part of Romance.

So that is Mills and Boon with ghost, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.

Or SF with a bit of love.

There is a series on UK TV now about mixed race relationships, looking at the opposition people met from conservatives, racists, etc. to mixed race couples. This has become less obvious now but is still around, it has just got a bit more subtle. For instance in the UK Channel 4 series Little Britain, the only race-related jokes were aimed at a Thai woman who was married to an English man. Because Thais are not Black or Islamic, the series would have no organised negative viewer response, as South East Asians usually try to blend in rather than assert their identity.

So what does paranormal romance with vampires and aliens signify for mixed race relationships?

The genre is mainly aimed at a young readership. Are they more open-minded, due to the ubiquity of mixed race children (supposedly 10% in the UK), and the constant emphasis in education of the global village concept, planet consciousness, and so on?

What are the main characteristics of paranormal romance?

In no particular order:

Humans getting it on (or not, which makes for the narrative) with vampires, aliens, ghosts (disembodied souls), rarely hairy werewolves, cyborgs, robots.

Vampires? Just neurotic humans with cold hands.

People yearning so much they get into telekinesis, telepathy, a kind of ultra empathy. This is very adolescent, passive activity in the psychic realm. ‘Passive activity’ might be the term for all this psychokinetic, psychoactive area.

SF or Sci Fi romance – aliens, lust, domination – like Captain Kirk in Star Trek and his alien romantic dalliances. But more so. Feature exotic locations (no, not Sandals) such as alien planets, space stations, Dyson worlds, add a bit of teleportation, some additional body parts.

Bromance – talking of Star Trek, in the recent film, there was the famous bromance (brotherly romance) between Captain Kirk and Spock. This is straying into fan fiction territory.

Time travel – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a global hit with ensuing film. Why? No one has any time so let’s conjure some up out of a gadget. Then have a love affair.

Will you be staying for breakfast?

See our Story Software page of vampires and romance for teenage readers >

Top 10 uses for Story Lite productivity software creativity

We have just added a page of top 10 uses of Story Lite showing the huge range of things you can do with it. OK, in the realm of productivity and creativity software!

See Story Lite Top 10 uses for creativity productivity software >

Solar system Earth Sun to scale

Solar system Earth Sun to scale

How to Tips for exciting stories or novels – The Pianoplayers, Anthony Burgess

The Pianoplayers 1986
Anthony Burgess

Burgess The Pianoplayers

Burgess The Pianoplayers


What he wanted in a film:
Plenty of variety
Which means:

  • A railway train
  • A house on fire
  • A scene by the lake for lovers
  • Galloping horses
  • A fist fight that did not go on too long
  • A ball scene with the Blue Danube waltz for preference
  • Soldiers marching down the street coming home from war
  • No battle scenes
  • (machine guns OK, big guns, not OK)

‘He’ is the narrator’s Dad, who is a piano player at a cinema in the time of silent movies… which explains this list.

This is a very readable novel, it is more like a memoir than a conventional novel. Which is what it is supposed to be, an old lady reminisces about her life, mainly her early life with her father, an itinerant and drunken piano player.

How to write a story or book – try some of these in a short story and see how it goes – if your imagination is stuck, use some of these as modifiers. For instance, add Galloping horses – this will always liven up a scene. Perhaps use them as a metaphor if you do not want actual horses charging about in your existential office drama.

Science Fiction – SF – Sci Fi – glamor space gnomes – how to write

“Science fiction is a genre that makes use of the political, the historic and the social to garb space gnomes in a cloak of glamor that they are unlikely to have achieved in actuality.

The standard-issue content is a result of its barely-examined acceptance of progress in technological, ideological, economic religious and social life.”

Alfred Bork: ‘Deep Vanishing’ in Jeff Lint’s Science Fiction. Jeff Lint is a great and underrated writer.

There is also the tragedy of the person who wants to be an artist but has the mind of an inspector, perhaps they end up writing science fiction, which has the most literally described fantasies. Star Trek is full of this invented technical gobbledygook.

Gnome sf sci-fi use of weapons iain m banks

Gnome sf sci-fi use of weapons iain m banks

Jeff Lint is very interested in the philosophy of ‘tentacled beauties‘ – which covers nearly all alien types (all of which are invented, despite their looming preponderance in the modern world) – just think how much better Darth Vader would be with tentacles instead of (as well as?) the Force.

Just watched movie Skyline – lots of tentacled beauties in there. War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise, Independence Day… all those tentacles.

Michael Crichton [RIP] added a giant squid scene to Pirate Latitudes – although this had the feel of a book that had not been given the final gloss, so that scene might have been cut if he had been working on it.

How to Write task: add a tentacled beauty to a new story, whatever the genre. Try adding a tentacled beauty to a dinner party scene.