How Novels Like “Circe” Show Ancient Stories In A New Light

“How Novels Like “Circe” Show Ancient Stories In A New Light”
| October 22, 2018 | Buzz Feed News

How Novels Like _Circe_ Show Ancient Stories In A New Light

Ben Kothe / BuzzFeed News; Getty Images

In three recent novels that reimagine ancient epics — CirceThe Mere Wife, and The Silence of the Girls — authors wrestle with both their source material and the centuries of cultural baggage it carries.

Writers have always come back to older texts, finding new twists on old legends. Jean Rhys and James Joyce weren’t the first in the Western tradition to do it, when Rhys reimagined Jane Eyre’s doomed Bertha Mason in Wide Sargasso Sea and Joyce sent Odysseus walking the streets of Dublin in Ulysses. Virgil, Chaucer, and Shakespeare all found the roots of some of their plots in stories from other writers. Even now, with more stringent concepts of originality and plagiarism, adaptations of classic texts are a healthy part of our literary ecosystem, from Hogarth Press’s Shakespeare adaptation series to an ever-expanding array of Jane Austen homages.

Retelling old stories is not just a chance to revisit familiar and beloved characters or settings, but to bring out something new. Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird is an uncanny take on the Snow White fairy tale and delves into the politics of racial passing. Emily Wilson’s much-celebrated translation of The Odyssey uses its language to draw attention to the hypocrisies within the original text, while picking a fight with centuries of misogynist translation. In adaptations, writers can expand the breadth of a text or a narrative, to say something about their own historical period… and to shed new light on the original text.

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“How Publishing Works: A Book Designer’s Perspective” | Zoë Sadokierski | 13th November, 2014 | Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.


Publishing is the process of getting the author’s story out of her or his head and into the hands of a reader. Zoe Sadokierski

Authors don’t write books, they write manuscripts. Publishing is the process of getting an author’s manuscript into the hands of a reader, by materialising it – giving it form, as a book. This may be printed (a codex) or digital (an ebook).

The author’s manuscript is either solicited (the publisher asks them to write it) or unsolicited (the author writes it, then shops for a publisher). Being rejected is awful and publishing contracts are complicated, so many authors employ an agent to negotiate a deal with a publisher.

The “publisher” refers to either the publishing house (such as Penguin Random House or Text Publishing), or the person whose title is Publisher. Within a single publishing house there may be several publishers, each overseeing a different list based on genre. For example, there may be a literary publisher, an academic publisher and a non-fiction publisher within the same publishing house.

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5 Things Breaking Bad Can Teach Us About Writing

TV_BB_bl“5 Things Breaking Bad Can Teach Us About Writing” by Cris Freese | 26th November 26, 2016 | Writer’s Digest.

“I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other week, I’ll bring you takeaways from some of the best television shows out there. These are meant to be specific concepts, themes, techniques, etc., that a writer can learn from the show. This post will help you understand the intricacies of plot.

This week we’ll take a look at Breaking Bad. Potential spoilers follow. This post will focus specifically on some crucial elements of storytelling, and how you can use them to develop an excellent plot. Each one of these elements is used successfully in the hit show Breaking Bad. I’ll show you how each one is used in this show, and provide a potential application for your own plot.”

1. Craft Unique Character Motivations
The number one thing you need for a successful and compelling plot is character motivation. Every character in Breaking Bad has terrific motivation for their actions.”

2. Develop Multiple Conflicts
Good plots are nothing without good conflict. With multiple characters who all have unique motivations, you can create conflicts between each of these characters.”

3. How to Use Foreshadowing Effectively
Breaking Bad uses foreshadowing throughout the plot. Sometimes it’s more heavy-handed than other times.”

4. Utilize Flashbacks and Flash Forwards
I don’t recommend using these two techniques often in fiction, but using them sparingly can be effective in creating suspense in your plot.”

5. The Importance of Recurring Plot Elements
Recurring elements are important because they draw plot lines together. They connect stories and people, and they recall to earlier points in a story, or point to something in the future.”

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Do You Need an Author Platform?

author_platforms“Do You Need an Author Platform” by Mia Botha | 16th July, 2014 | Writers Write.

Is it important to have a platform?

An author needs an author platform. It generates sales, it creates awareness, and it builds relationships for future sales. It also gives you credibility and establishes you as a serious writer.It is not only for authors who wish to self-publish. Authors who publish traditionally are also required to have an online presence. Social media interaction and blogging are large parts of the publicity strategy for the publisher. eBooks and eReaders have played a huge role in this.

For any aspiring author it is something you need to establish as soon as possible. Your online presence is where you will direct publishers in your query letters and how you will reach readers if you wish to self-publish. Basically you want to build your following before you publish.

How do you start?

Your blog is your base; which other sites you choose to use is up to you. Spend some time on each one before you decide. You use your social media pages to direct your readers to your blog or website. You can set up a blog using any of the sites. It is free and easy. So easy even I could do it. I got stuck at stages, but Google, or a friend, could always help me out. For your author platform you should think carefully about the topic of your blog or website. You can use it as a showcase, as an informative site for other writers, as a place to express your creativity, or as a window into a writer’s life.


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5 Elements You Need In Chapter One To Hook Your Reader

“Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 48: 5 Elements You Need In Chapter One To Hook Your Reader” by Anthony Ehlers | 2nd December, 2016 | Writers Write.

WRITE_YOUR_NOVEL_Week_48_5_Elements_You_Need_In_Chapter_One_to_Hook_Your_ReaderGoal setting

  1. Focus on polishing your first chapter.

Breaking it down

Your first chapter is the window to a showroom, beckoning us with a display of shiny new cars that promise adventure, an exquisite new dress in a shop window that hints at romance, or a candy display at a market promising the best sugar high ever.

How do you make sure you entice the reader in? How do you make that first critical chapter a moment of seduction, one the reader will never forget? In short, how do you get them hooked?

①  The first line is your last chance to grab the reader.

②  The world on the first page.

③  An unforgettable character or characters.

④ A challenging or thought-provoking question.

⑤ A last page that promises more.

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World-Building for Every Genre: A Checklist

“World-Building for Every Genre: A Checklist” by Mia Botha | 13th July, 2016 | Writers Write.

“Last week I discussed the importance of setting and what we can learn from sci-fi and fantasy writers about world-building. By following  their guidelines, we can strengthen our setting and make our worlds more complete.

Here is a checklist to get you started. Below the checklist are questions you might consider for each category. I tried to use examples that are not considered fantasy or sci-fi.Word_Building_For_Every_Genre-1

  1. Genealogy
  2. Work life
  3. Clothing
  4. Food
  5. Hygiene
  6. Rituals and holidays
  7. Technology
  8. History
  9. Religion
  10. Language
  11. Gender roles
  12. Family life and structure
  13. Procreation
  14. Politics
  15. Education
  16. Geography
  17. Water and resources.

I have left a few blank squares for you to add your own ideas. This will vary from story to story, but I hope it will help you shape your story to create a complete world.”

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Comma Splice

CommaSplice“Comma Splice” by Mignon Fogarty | 24th June, 2010 | Grammar Girl.

“I decided to write about comma splices because my friend Scott Sigler has a book coming out this week, Ancestor, published by Crown. Over three years ago, when he was publishing an earlier version of the book with a smaller publisher, he asked me to read it for him and be as brutal as possible with my comments. The biggest problem I found was comma splices.

How to Use Commas
Commas are tricky because there are so many different ways you can use them, but one of the most common ways to use commas is to separate two main clauses that are connected by a coordinating conjunction.”

What Is a Comma Splice?
Comma splices seem to be Scott Sigler’s biggest problem. Here’s an example from page 114 of the original Ancestor book, where one of the characters is talking about a cow named Fonzie:

Sara obviously named that one, she was a sucker for those old “Happy Days” reruns. (wrong)

It’s easy to see in that example why the error is called a comma splice: it’s because the comma is used to splice together two complete sentences when that isn’t the function of a comma.”

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Building Your Brand as an Author

medium_week50“Building Your Brand as an Author” by Anthony Ehlers | 14th December, 2016 | Writers Write.

“Building Your Brand As An Author – Where Do You Start?

Goal setting

  1. Create your author platform and brand.
Breaking it down
I was lucky enough to attend an author evening with the bestselling Australian ghostwriter and novelist, Michael Robotham. His advice to aspiring writers was to treat writing like a ‘passionate hobby’.  Great advice.
I think it keeps you focused on why you’re writing, rather than becoming obsessed with getting published. However, at some point, you have to treat writing as a career or even as a small business. And that means becoming more professional. Marketing yourself. Taking some time to understand what your brand is as an author.
You have to start acting like an author – how else will people take your seriously?
First readers
Finding first or beta readers for your novel is much like testing your product – like a focus group for a new lipstick or beer.  You want to get some feedback from a small group before you launch it to the world.
When looking for beta readers online, it’s important to find the right readers – readers who typically enjoy your genre. It’s no good inviting people who read Young Adult fiction to read your Action Adventure story.  There are quite a few platforms for beta readers online – so it’s worth doing some research before you go this route. Often it’s a good idea to start as a beta reader yourself – this will give you a better understanding of the process.
If this doesn’t strike you as a good idea – or if you’re a bit technophobic – then you can approach your writing group for a critique.  I have a handful of trusted friends who are also writers with whom I’d share my manuscript.
No writing group?  That’s not a problem. You could always show it to one trusted person – it may be your wife, your partner, an old school friend whose literary opinion you trust.  You’ll be in safer hands than a hundred anonymous readers.


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P.S. It’s Time To Remove Those Adverbial Dialogue Tags

medium_dialoguetags“P.S. It’s Time To Remove Those Adverbial Dialogue Tags” by Amanda Patterson | 20th November, 2016 | Writers Write.

“Do you pepper your dialogue tags with adverbs? Do you have to make your character’s tone clear, just in case the reader didn’t get it from the dialogue?

What is a dialogue tag?

Dialogue tags tell us when a character is speaking. They are every ‘he said’ and ‘she asked’ in the books you read and write.

They are important, because they tell us who is speaking. Readers do not like to be confused and you do not want them to lose interest and stop reading.

They are also useful when you want to:

  1. Break up long pieces of dialogue.
  2. Create or cut tension.
  3. Insert an action or a reaction.
  4. Add body language.
  5. Give us an idea of your character’s rhythm of speech.

Good writers make these tags disappear into the story. They do not litter their writing with detracting synonyms for ‘said’, like ‘urged’, ‘whispered’, ‘uttered’, ‘exclaimed’, and ‘grunted’. (I’m even cringing as I write them.) They do use these, but they do so sparingly.

Just as importantly, they stick to ‘said’ and ‘asked’ without over-indulging in adverbial abuse.”

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4 Remarkably Simple Tips To Help You Write Anywhere

medium_write_anywhere“4 Remarkably Simple Tips To Help You Write Anywhere” by Mia Botha | 5th October, 2016 | Writers Write.

“You know that scene in Love Actually where Jamie, Colin Firth’s character, goes on holiday and sits on an old jetty, under a wood gazebo and Aurelia, the beautiful housekeeper serves tea and sandwiches as he types away on an old typewriter filling page after page with words? That, I can tell you, is what writing is not. At least, not in the beginning.

If you’ve read Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, you will remember that he wrote with a typewriter on his knees when he lived in a trailer. That is a more accurate account of writing.

Now, I’m not saying move to a trailer, but we tend to think the circumstances have to be ideal to be able to write. Well, they are rarely going to be ideal. We think we have to wait for the muse to infuse our hearts, minds, and fingers before we can write. We think we can only start once we have an idea. We couldn’t put a word to paper if it hasn’t been perfectly plotted and planned. And, as Louis L’Amour said, ‘The water doesn’t flow if the faucet isn’t turned on.’

We need to learn to write ‘on demand’. Anyone who has been paid to write will snigger now. When someone is waiting for an article you get it out. You don’t know how, but you make it work. You need to do the same with your writing.”

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