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October 2004 - Writers Magazine

News Review

  • Man Booker winner is 'exciting, brilliantly written', but why does the prize work better than America's National Book Awards?

  • ‘The world’s most popular search engine has swallowed four billion web pages, and is now coming after books. The prospect is both thrilling and frightening for the book industry…’ The Bookseller

  • News Review looks at the boom in self-publishing and asks: is this really a good route to publication for writers who can't find a publisher?

  • This week's Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two. is the biggest annual gathering of the book world, but it's strictly business only...


  • Can an advance be too big? 'But instead of doing a extravagant champagne-for-everyone, I thought: God.' Hari Kunzru

  • 'All too often, it isn't the editor who calls the shots, but the dark forces of sales and marketing - the engine room of the business.' Simon Trewin of PFDRepresents authors of fiction and non-fiction, children's writers, screenwriters, playwrights, documentary makers, technicians, presenters and public speakers throughout the world. Has 85 years of international experience in all media. PDF now have a POD section. Some good advice for those seeking a representative., in the Independent on Sunday

  • ‘Learning how to type does not make you a writer... I’m in my late 30s now and I’m still working in those messy little notebooks I had when I was six.’ Donna Tartt in the Observer

  • 'At its best, internet reviewing provides a refreshing directness, a place where people say what they like and dislike without any of the baggage of literary criticism or knowledge of previous form, or grammar... ' Ben McIntyre, The Times

Writers' Quotes

  • ‘Being a writer in Hollywood is like going into Hitler's Eagle's Nest with a great idea for a Bar Mitzvah.'
    David Mamet

How Not to Write a Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author

Our seventh excerpt from David Armstrong's entertaining book:

On How-to books:

Writers are ' a mixed bunch, male and female, British and American, tall, and short, gay and hetero, but they have one thing in common: none of them has learned to do what it is they do by reading a book about it.'


Magazine - Sailing

Print on Demand self-publishing

'An author willing to gamble on this self-publishing model can make ten times as much per book sold as compared with royalty income from a major trade house.' We reprint an article from Foner Books showing how, unless your books are bestsellers, publishing your own book can make much more money for you.

Picture libraries

Sourcing pictures for your book and links to the online picture libraries which allow you to find what you want quickly and easily.

Review of Storybase

Ashley Wilde Inc

$99 for download version

I recently presented a paper at an archaeological conference where the subsequent debate centred around the definition of some words we thought we all understood. The distinction between information  and interpretation became vital. And where exactly does data turn into evidence?

Understanding terms is essential if you want to take full advantage of Storybase. What you might loosely term ‘plot’, is broken down into conflicts and leads. Each Conflict is written from the point of view of the Protagonist. It is the Protagonist who drives the story forward, but you can change the character list to create several storylines. So, once you have extracted the Leads, you can juggle the names to view things from the viewpoint of the other characters.

The other characters are Antagonist, Friend/Lover, Family and what is called Object X. You need to give the individuals names to keep track of them. So a little bit of pre-planning is required. The nature of the relationship between the Protagonist and the others can be created by defining their Mindset. You have 26 mindsets to choose from and you are limited to 3 choices. The final output works best when the choices have been sensible and consistent.

How the Mindsets interact, depends on which of the 34 Thrusts you select. The Thrust defines the situation or context, such as death or seduction. The output is called a Conflict. These are a set of sentences generated by Storybase. These can be copied and pasted into your developing story.

Finally there are Leads. These are really plotlines. They are broken into Leadins, that come before a Conflict and Leadouts suggesting what comes next with a linkline in the middle. You can click through these separately or let the software link the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ for you.

So much for the functions, but what does this achieve? Storybase is not a ‘one-click’ solution. You need to play around with the various suggestions, explore your characters and think about the output. When you see something that appeals to you in the conflicts or leads, you can copy and paste it into your word processor.

The value of this software depends on how much you need to generate the emotional framework for the characters in your story. If you are writing short stories or have to provide regular scripts for a series, Storybase could provide invaluable inspiration. You will need to shuffle the names around to see how your cast of characters interact. If you are prepared to spend an hour doing this, you can come away with many potential paths for your story to follow.

Storybase helps you define the essence of your story. It was easy to install and getting started takes just a few minutes. Like all tools, you need to spend a few hours to get to know it. Try to generate a few story outlines to understand how you can explore its potential. If you are a well-organised writer who produces detailed sketches, you can survive without this software. If you are in a hurry, and want some novel angles, Storybase might help.

Storybase suggests that non-fiction would benefit from the same approach to hold the attention of the audience. Unlike some other packages, Storybase does not generate pages of text. Instead it provides you with leads that you, as the story-teller, can expand. Storybase might be overpriced for the limited task that it undertakes, but it is a useful tool for those skilful enough to exploit it.


Storybase - screenshot

© Chas Jones 2004

writing software

'The value of this software depends on how much you need to generate the emotional framework for the characters in your story.'

Check it out to see if you want help with defining the essence of your story.

NAWE conference

Details of this autumn's conference in York, England

NAWG 2004

Report on the National Association of Writers' Groups get-together in Durham

Bob's Journal goes into its 4th volume

Bob debates the relative importance of Balliol College, Oxford and the city library:

''Which, I wonder, has contributed most to the well-being of the nation? Which could we least do without? Which, if it came to it, would I choose to keep?'

 This week

Agency listings

New this month - the UK, US and international agents' listings from the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook

Writers' ForumBritish writers' magazine which is highly recommended for all writers. It features wide range of news and articles which help writers to improve their work and get published:  Column

Sir James Barrie - 'When asked to join a committee to raise funds for the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children he declined but then, with typical Scottish financial perception, he generously granted the copyright of his play Peter Pan to the hospital... all proceeds direct to the hospital with the minimum of administration.'

From the Editor's View, written by the Editor of Writers' Forum magazine.

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