Category Archives: Writing tips and advice

Crowdfund your novel – new ways to get your fiction published

We have an occasional writer Ivy Ngeow. She has had many short stories published, and has a new novel on the Unbound (part of Penguin, Random House) writers’ crowdfunding site.

NEWS Jan 16 2017: 44% funded in first month (two months to go)!
Visit the new crowdfund novel Heart of Glass by Ivy Ngeow here >

Ivy Ngeow novel Heart of Glass pitch video
Ivy Ngeow novel Heart of Glass pitch video

It is a finished and agent-edited thrilling novel about crime in Chicago and Macau, near Hong Kong China. You make a pledge (pre-purchase) and get your name in the credits inside the book. If the pre-sales don’t get to the target figure, the crowdfund stops, and you get all your money back, so there is no risk.

Heart of Glass novel crowdfund Ivy Ngeow 2017
Heart of Glass novel crowdfund Ivy Ngeow 2017

It is set in an anxious time, when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States, who was seen as very inexperienced. There were problems with Russia, which was still Communist at the time (and was the USSR – how long ago that sounds!). Of course, now we have Trump, Russian problems, etc. Perhaps there are historical parallels? You’ll have to read it to find out.

The way the crowdfunding works is that the publisher remove their risk by making the author raise the full cost of the first print run, before they publish it. The figures are high – £4000 for Ivy Ngeow’s novel, and can be much higher for non-fiction books or very long illustrated novels. This is a lot of pre-sales. Once it has succeeded, the publisher will take it on as a ‘normal’ book and market it via their channels. Unbound (Penguin) had a big hit last year with The Good Immigrant (essays) and have many successful books out.
So support our own writer here:
Crowdfund novel Heart of Glass by Ivy Ngeow here >

British writer Hanif Kureshi on creative writing corses

Hanif Kureishi creative writer
Hanif Kureishi creative writer
There is a good interview in The Irish Examiner with the great and celebrated writer Hanif Kureishi (link at bottom).

He discusses the value of writing courses, which is not always immediately apparent. He compares fiction with rock and roll this might be wishful thinking as he always liked that side of culture. Kuresihi wrote The Buddha of Suburbia which was later filmed for TV with David Bowie providing the music. He also weighs into the Brexit debate. People forget that large-scale immigration did not start with the EU. Britain is a reasonably peaceful place, which largely ignores new groups and lets them get on with it. Whether that changes now is to be seen.

Read the interview with Hanif Kureishi here >

Photo credit from online Irish Examiner, reduced.

Flash fiction – the root of all

Thrills of fast flash fiction
Thrills of fast flash fiction

A writer friend suggested I try flash fiction – very short stories, usually under one page. So around 300 words.
Next day I had to have a root canal on a molar, and to think about something else, I thought about a story. I had a rough idea – actually just a concept – and expanded this into a story. I had in mind 300 characters since I had been doing software descriptions for my new writing app Notes Story Board.

Anyway, once I had got it down to 300 characters – about 50 words – I remembered I was aiming for 300 words (at this point the tooth and one root was out).

Perhaps that is a good discipline – create a summary, a short elevator pitch, as recommended by books like Save The Cat (about script-writing, not cats).

So I expanded this story idea a day later in a café, writing using note software on my phone. Got the story down in around 200 words. Well, any more was just padding. I ended up with an interesting little piece, so I entered it into a competition.

It was great to start and finish a whole story so quickly, as I find long-form writing hard… too easy to lose the motivation and then forget the atmosphere, the germ of the idea in the first place, the feeling of a story that is not written or even known yet. (It seemed to be easier in the past when I would write a novel almost as an end in itself).

But that still leaves the basic question.

Is flash fiction just an internet fad? A short form for a low attention span.
So why bother with it?

The root of all

I have also got kind of stuck with a novel. This has been in the plotting and note-taking stage for years.

A few months ago I changed it (not much, only a few thousand words at the start) to an ‘epic poem’ to speed things up a bit – converting it to short broken up texts, with a ragged right margin, like a ‘proper poem’. This was quite an interesting process, but again was a delaying tactic, substituting craft for creativity.

Now my plan is to rewrite all the plot scenes as flash fiction – each small scene has a beginning, middle and twist, to quote R. L. Stine, as spoken by Jack Black in the film Goosebumps. This might not be suitable for most of the scenes but you get the general idea.

So try that – take a long boring text, and condense it down to a page. If nothing else, it can improve your style.