2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 21

For today’s prompt, write a danger poem. There are various levels of danger out there–from physical danger to the danger of being discovered doing something you shouldn’t (or doing something that might embarrass you–or someone else). Even the act of writing and sharing a poem brings with it the potential for danger.

*****

Re-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Danger Poem:

“crossed signals”

you’re a bell
& you signal danger to me
can’t you tell
why i am terrified to be

on your mind
it’s a truly dangerous place
where i’ll find
what is hiding behind your face

ring away
if that is what you need to do
i won’t play
because i’m scared to death of you

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He just recently found out he belongs to the Hufflepuff house on Pottermore.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

The post 2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 21 appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-21

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What to Do When You’re a Memoirist and Memory Fails

By Natalie Singer

The memories that glimmer strongest in my mind, that pop up repeatedly as though they have an agency of their own, act like cosmic bulges―moments that wink like the star-studded center of a spiral galaxy, like Roland Barthes’s photographic punctum. These bulges frustrate me as a clumsy human with a hard-to-control yo-yo brain but seduce me as a writer. I want to capture them because I know they’re where the stories are.

Autobiographical and emotional memories are powerful and can be very generative for us as writers. Virginia Woolf called the feeling of returning to a memory of early childhood, in which she experienced the sound and wind and light of a moment in her nursery, “the purest ecstasy I can conceive.” Even in the case of a negative or painful memory that shocks, Woolf wrote, “the shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole.”

[Online Course: Memoir 101 with Gloria Kempton]

For writers, memory can be the medium and ultimately also the message when a story, event or feeling emerges from the darkness into the light of conscious knowing.

But what happens when you can’t remember?

Sometimes the memories we want to access most, those that make up the gray space we need to fill in, are elusive. Looking to fill in my own blanks, I sometimes reach for those groups of neurons where memory is stored but come up empty, as though my memories have been disappeared like witnesses to a mob crime.

While working on my book California Calling, A Self-Interrogation, which is a coming-of-age memoir, this elusiveness of recollection plagued me.

There are reasons some memories shine brighter than others—traumatic memories, for instance, often stand out; key experiences during window of time between ages 12 and 22, when our brains are rapidly developing and emotions are heightened, seem to imprint upon us in a way we remember like it was yesterday, for decades and decades.

Yet so much is forgotten—stuck in our minds but not easily accessible. Researchers in Canada have found that children can remember events even before age 2 but those memories are fragile and typically disappear by age 10. Many of us have had the experience of wondering why we remember a handful of the really good and really bad things, but the events, conversations and feelings of our quotidian lives seem to fade away.

Scientists are evolving the study of memory—soon we might be able to preserve our memories more easily, access them more accurately, and even manipulate or erase them, possibilities that hold much promise for the person with dementia or PTSD and, maybe, for the artist.

Until then, what to do?

While researching and writing my memoir, I used several techniques to jog memories to the surface and deal with the problem of not recalling. Here are five of those strategies.

Watch for sensory cues.

Sensory cues are particularly powerful: In his book In Search of Lost Time / A La Recherche Due Temps Perdue Marcel Proust was able to reconstruct a whole picture of his childhood by taking a bite of a madeleine.

The most magical, promising and terrifying memories for me are those that come, involuntarily, from sensory cues.

One came upon me recently, while I walked home from a friend’s through the dark, quiet streets of my neighborhood. My family was far up ahead, and I went forth slowly, noticing the way the poppies looked in the shadows and watching for cracks in the sidewalk. Suddenly I looked up to see a tree—trunk, branches, leaves, illuminated white by the moon floating behind it in the black sky. Immediately my mind flipped, like a channel changing, to a nighttime fair in the dark of a Florida winter evening, a 30-foot tree that had been decorated for the holidays, the first Christmas tree I had ever seen glowing bright, the scent of the ocean and of cotton candy for sale, the heavy damp weather, the prickly fear of the KKK that marched regularly through our streets. This became a scene in my book.

It’s hard to plan ahead for sensory cues—they tend to arrive unexpectedly as a taste or smell or sight. But we can be ready for them by recognizing their value to our writing and take notes when they happen to capture the memories they reveal before they fade away again.

Turn on the music.

Music is powerful conjurer, a subset of sensory cues that stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers and triggers memory. No memento, no psychic trick can better summon a complete sensorial, emotional recall of my childhood (what the great memory scientist Endel Tulving called autonoetic consciousness) than the music my parents played when I was 1, 2, 3 years old. The Bee Gees. Donna Summer. The Jackson Five: Just thinking of some of those lyrics, I’m already gone, as The Eagles would say.

One way that I spur these memories along is to look up the top 50 or 100 songs from the year or years I am writing about. Scanning the list, then listening to whatever songs jump out at me, has conjured many memories that had previously been obscured.

Plumb artifacts and personal accounts.

Returning to journals, letters and pictures is another way to bring experiences from the past to the present. To exhume a romantic relationship—my first love—I unearthed a stack of letters my teenaged boyfriend had handwritten to me after I moved away to another country. I didn’t have my replies to him, but his letters opened enough of a crack into the past to remind me of some experiences and feelings that had long since slipped away.

In her searing memoir of girlhood and sexuality, Love and Trouble, Claire Dederer relies on a collection of old journals to transport her current-day narrator, angsty with mid-life questions and rekindled desire, into the past. The exploration of the journals, which she sometimes excerpts in the book, and her conflicted feelings about their meaning, serve as a scaffold for the story.

In Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, author Sarah Manguso uses her 25-years-long journal to fuel an interrogation into what it means to live as time keeps moving ever forward. Manguso never quotes her diary, allowing it to become an invisible force behind her memoir, mysterious but all-powerful.

These types of artifacts can both prod our thinking and become part of the story themselves.

Employ historical and geographical research.

To reanimate events from my past, I’ve also turned to research. I knew that during a summer internship at a newspaper in the California Sierras I was transformed in some hard-to-pinpoint way, but I had a difficult time remembering specific events from that summer in my life. I had written news stories while there, published in the afternoon print newspaper of a sleepy, isolated town, but they had never been put online so I had no record of them.

I recalled, however, that a series of tragic crimes had occurred at the same time I was living in the town. By reading numerous media reports of the serial murders that I could find online, as well as researching the geologic and geographic history of the region, I was able to conjure not only a clearer picture of the place I spent time in—its feel, its cultural and political concerns, its seeming impenetrability—but also of the interiority of my experiences.

Embrace forgetting.

We think of memories as facts, or files, to access, but memory often lives partly the dimension of imagination—the middle ground between light and shadow, to make a Twilight Zone analogy. As writers, we can embrace this middle ground and put it to work for us when we cannot remember all the details we would like. I’m not talking about lying, which isn’t the realm of creative nonfiction. I’m talking about working with unknowability.

A technique when you cannot recall something is to simply acknowledge that. In my memoir, which relies on a scaffold of questions in which the reader is introduced to an interrogative voice seemingly separate from the narrator, I occasionally own up to not remembering. I utilize the experience of finding the mind blank of specific details to investigate the reliability of ethnographic story and to poke at the accuracy of personal myths. I lean on the lack of recall to bring to life, if not the actual events that elude me, then the feeling of being left wanting to remember. In one place, I write:

Later I will try to recall the names of all the places I went in California, the spaces I passed through and passed through me, their location, their feel, like a gouge in the granite of some northern mountain. But I remember few details, so much feeling and so few facts. Gouge, the word, is so close to gauge, as in measure, as in witness, as in all the minutes and hours and days spent silently gauging my own level of comfort, or discomfort. My belonging. Gauging the likelihood of my voice catching in my throat.

As writers, we can entertain the question: can our state of amnesia become a part of the story itself in some way?

And we can acknowledge that not remembering is also alright. It is a known fact that ignorance moves us. It feeds our souls. John Keats termed the willingness to embrace the unknown and accept mystery “negative capability” and believed it was essential for creativity.

If we no longer needed to seek answers, if we knew everything, what would motivate us? Is it the collection of answers—of autobiographical memories that, perhaps, one day very soon through science and technology, will be made as available as any Internet fact—that will bring us meaning? Or is it the search itself, that plumbing of the unknown, memory scrap by memory scrap, that fuels our imaginations?


Natalie Singer is the author of the memoir California Calling: A Self-Interrogation (Hawthorne Books, March 2018). Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in journals, magazines, and newspapers including Proximity, Lit Hub, Hypertext, Literary Mama, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, ParentMap, Alligator Juniper, Brain, Child, Largehearted Boy, Full Grown People and the 2015 anthology Love and ProfanityNatalie has been the recipient of several awards, including the Pacific Northwest Writers Association nonfiction prize and the Alligator Juniper nonfiction prize. California Calling was first runner up for the Red Hen Press nonfiction prize and a finalist for the Autumn House Press nonfiction prize. Natalie has taught writing inside Washington State’s psychiatric facility for youth and Seattle’s juvenile detention center, and she has worked as a journalist at newspapers around the West. She is a 2017-2018 writer-in-residence at On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts collective in Seattle, where her writing responds to the season’s works and creates a conversation with the community. Natalie earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington. Originally from Montreal, she lives in Seattle. (@Natalie_Writes; @NatalieSingerAuthor)


The post What to Do When You’re a Memoirist and Memory Fails appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/memoir/what-to-do-when-youre-a-memoirist-and-memory-fails

Staying Alive: How to Thrive in the Publishing Industry

[Earn the recognition you deserve. Enter the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition.]


Staying alive, staying slive, ah, ha, ha, staying alive. Here, Jenny Milchman explains how to not just survive, but thrive in the publishing industry.

There are two main trajectories for success in this biz. It usually bugs me when people claim that there are two kinds of X or Y, because we live in a world where there are a bajillion varieties of everything, and for any list of strategies I compile, someone could probably add another. But when it comes to writing, I always return to two paths that describe some of the biggest success stories in the industry.

The Phenom vs. the Slow Build

One is what I call the “phenom” book. Most of you have probably read, or at least heard of these. Christina Baker Kline’s finely wrought Orphan Train and Sara Gruen’s beautifully realized Water for Elephants hit a cultural or historical zeitgeist. One had a twist that got people talking: William Landay’s Defending Jacob. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize. E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey…well, you know. In recent years, two had the word girl in the title, initiating a string of “girl” books that had differing degrees of success.

There’s no single element that integrates these megahits, which is inherent to the very concept of a phenom. Our understanding of what made them succeed arises only in hindsight, and that is just guesswork really. A phenom book isn’t predictable. Anything could become one, and anything, despite expectations to the contrary, could fail to become one. They are the black swans of the book world.

The other path to blockbuster success can be termed the “slow build.” It’s the series that breaks out after four, eight, even eleven installments—Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett, respectively.

It’s the author who creates a brand by writing one after another of the same-but-different kind of book until an appetite has been whetted: Jodi Picoult’s unique blend of human drama combined with ripped-from-the-headlines issues, Liane Moriarty’s excavation of the ordinary life that readers come to realize is actually quite extraordinary.

This trajectory is more predictable than the phenom—the author who writes a certain character or type of story, and can continue to do so, similarly enough to satisfy the taste for it, while at the same time keeping things fresh, can have a reasonable hope of reaching success once enough books are out there.

Since you can’t count on any book becoming a phenom, then the slow build seems the more reliable path to pursue. (As if anything in publishing can be deemed reliable!) However, there are obstacles along this path too, and being aware of them is the surest way to avoid them.

The slow build requires a runway; one or two titles won’t do it. Authors whose series are dropped by their publishers too soon are in a tough spot. If a new publisher won’t pick up the existing series—which most are loathe to do—then the author loses the foundation that was laid. Some writers in this position choose to continue by self-publishing so that early fans don’t have to give up on a character they were coming to like. By taking control of your own publishing, you can reach the volume of titles required to have a chance at breakout success.

Writing a Trilogy: Essential Tips for Crafting a Three-Part Series

The slow build path doesn’t apply only to series, though. Writers who are creating something novel and new can hope to incite in readers a taste for their unique brand-to-be. Since we all do something original with our work, any writer can try for the slow build path to success. Here’s what you do.

How to Achieve Slow-Build Success in the Publishing Industry

First, identify what’s special about your books. What is the reason you do this in the first place, the thing that makes you love writing (or continue to write despite not loving it)? What quality in your work hasn’t been seen in quite this way before? Then, give some thought to how you can create a similar thing anew with each subsequent release. Mind, you’re not trying to write to a formula—even one of your own invention. You’re attempting to drill down to what lets you tell a story no one else could, to clarify the element that takes you from that-could-be-interesting to sit-down-and-pour-out-your-soul. That key element can become your brand.

A runway is still required to produce a succession of books, but unlike with a series, the same-but-different model gives the writer the advantage of being able to change publishing houses while growing his or her brand.

My first three novels were all published by Ballantine/Penguin Random House. They typified the same-but-different model: psychological thrillers set in a fictional town with secondary characters in one book playing bigger roles in the next and vice versa, the life of the town rippling outward as my list of titles grew.

Then, unexpectedly, my editor was let go. Suddenly, I was on submission again, a place I’d never hoped to be.

Many writers get stuck behind roadblocks that crop up along the road to publishing success. They get dropped by a house, orphaned by an editor, their agent leaves the business. One particularly sad outcome is that any of the above can thwart the slow build approach to success.

Online Course: Read Like a Writer: Learn from the Masters with Mark Spencer

In my case, my agent was able to lead me to a publisher that seems an even better fit. Having a devoted agent who really knows your work and your goals is one key component of achieving slow build success: you need someone with you for the long haul, because publishing is nothing if not a long haul.

Five-decade publishing legend and father of Rambo, David Morrell, attributes his success in part to having “shifted approaches before I was typecast. I’ve written in many genres and never wrote more than three books in any series. Instead I followed my interests and tried to evolve.” Morrell represents a blend of phenom and slow build. His debut novel, First Blood, birthed the iconic Rambo, while his recent Victorian era mystery trilogy is an altogether different literary animal, proving Morrell’s ability to reinvent himself and stay relevant.

New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Reacher franchise, Lee Child, speaks to the slow build truism when he says of publishing success: “The fundamental issue is unchanging—can you hang in there until you get discovered?  You used to have longer, and now you have shorter, but the key is always to write a great book—one that somehow convinces readers and publishers that there are more to come.”

In order to achieve slow build success, it’s worth understanding how it works. Two concepts apply, the first being straightforward multiplication. When a writer has several books out, readers who discover one of them will often go out and buy the others, turning one sale into many.

The other relevant concept is a bit more abstract. Malcom Gladwell applies the term “tipping point” to the idea that at a certain level, things aren’t additive or even multiplicative anymore. Instead they explode exponentially. There comes a time when a writer has enough books on shelves and in cyberspace, when his or her name has come up enough times in reviews and articles, when he or she has done a sufficient number of appearances at conferences or events, that he or she becomes known and is suddenly everywhere. This is the overnight sensation who was a decade or more in the making.

That writer can be you.

You just have to stay alive.


Jenny Milchman is the USA Today bestselling and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of four psychological thrillers, including the forthcoming Wicked River.



Writing Without Rules:
How to Write & Sell a Novel Without Guidelines, Experts, or (Occasionally) Pants

The post Staying Alive: How to Thrive in the Publishing Industry appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/getting-published/staying-alive-thrive-publishing-industry

IELTS Speaking test in India – April 2018

S recently took the IELTS test in India and remembered the following Speaking questions:

Speaking testIELTS test in India

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– Do you listen to music while studying or working?
– Do people listen to music much in your country? Why?
– What type of music is popular? Why?
– How important is music in people’s lives?

Cue Card

Describe an event that was celebrated recently in your country. Please say

– What was the event?
– How was it celebrated?
– Did you like it? Why?

Discussion

– Who was there with you on the celebration day?
– Was this event important to you? Why?
– What other events do people celebrate in your country?
– What makes an event special?
– Do you think food plays an important role in the event? Why?

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from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-speaking-test-in-india-april-2018/

2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 20

For today’s prompt, take a line from an earlier poem (preferably from this month) to begin your poem for today. For instance, I took the final few lines of my poem from day 12 to start my example poem below. So scan through your earlier stuff to figure out where to start today.

If you need to, try out Anders Bylund’s poem-a-day search tool to scan poems from earlier in the month. Click to continue.

*****

Re-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an Earlier Line Poem:

“if we don’t speak, there will be so much left unsaid”

if we don’t speak, there will be so much left unsaid,
because i don’t understand love, that dance & kiss
following me through sleepless nights pulling the thread
of memory reflecting what the others miss,
or do they? do i cling to things others release?
a dance? a kiss? there is so much we’ve left untold,
& i wonder if you wander the past with ease
or if you try to revive a love that’s grown cold–
maybe it doesn’t matter. & then, maybe it does
even if it’s never resurrected, never
returned from the dead. ghosts, like excited bees, buzz
through time & space–a current that can’t be severed–
& here i buzz; i hover. we may recover
again, lover, but for now, our song is over.

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He knew he’d get around to writing a sonnet eventually this month.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

The post 2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 20 appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-20

Marrying Fiction and Nonfiction in Business Books


In my latest book, Match in the Root Cellar, I tell the story of Carolyn, a newly appointed CEO in charge of dismantling her company’s default culture of complacency and discontent. Many people reading her story might assume she is a fictional character in a fictional company. In reality, both Carolyn and her company are composites of very real people and organizations I’ve encountered in my 30 plus years in the industry.

Blending fact and fiction isn’t a new idea in business books and management literature. Many authors before me have used fictional narratives as vehicles for management allegory. What makes my book unique is its multifaceted approach to story-telling, graphic illustration, and practical advice. Match in the Root Cellar takes a holistic approach to educating and engaging its readers. The result is that readers across a wide range of learning styles will find something that draws them in.

Blending narrative, graphics and practical advice

Match in the Root Cellar is a two-part book. The first part uses Carolyn’s story to illustrate—both narratively and graphically—the challenges of working within a default culture. The second part is a straightforward field guide that provides actionable steps to transforming a default culture into an intentional culture of peak performance. Some people look at problems within their organizations as holes that can be filled with expensive strategy and methodology. Poor customer satisfaction? Buy the latest Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Poor job performance? Implement a Lean transformation. Yet, these seldom fix the problems they were intended to solve. This is because people are focused on solving symptoms of a default or incongruent culture. I wanted to create a quick, easy to reference field guide for leaders to treat the root causes of their organizations ailments. 

Jeff Guinn: Conducting Field Research for More Authentic Nonfiction & Historic Fiction

Planning and iteration

People today are flooded with information. An endless stream of emails, text message, and phone calls fills our daily lives. In today’s digital era, visual management is critical to engaging stakeholders. Strong visuals serve as memory anchors, helping us create meaning in the chaos of information overload. This is why the first thing readers will notice in my book is the graphic depiction of key characters in Carolyn’s story. The pictures weren’t added out of creative whimsy, they were carefully designed over the course of many iterations.

For instance, when I showed my wife the first draft of Carolyn, she took one look and said, “No female executive would dress like that.” We went through several versions of Carolyn before we found the right one. It was important that we got the look and feel of each character right. I wanted the characters to resonate with people reading the book. I wanted readers to take the journey with them, to see their physical and emotional transformations.

Similarly, in the field guide, it was important to both describe and visually represent the three ways of being and the seven disciplines to practice in order to achieve a peak performance culture. For instance, being persistent is one of the three ways of being. I not only describe what that means and the implications of it, I also visually depict it. This ensures the manual is equally engaging and useful for those who learn best with words and those who learn best with pictures.

[Online Copyediting Certification Class with Kim Catanzarite]

Setting the context

Through my experience, I’ve come to understand the simple reality of culture: It is as old as fire, as pervasive as wind and as inescapable as gravity. It’s a part of the human experience, and it will always be around you. It can be hard to see the culture of your own organization. As the saying goes, “I don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish.”

Carolyn’s story provides a useful framework for people to recognize and examine the issues they might be experiencing within their organizations. This powerful new perspective allows people to recognize their culture and the behaviors that define it.

Above all, my intention was to use Carolyn’s story to get people to realize that culture isn’t some amorphous monster somewhere in the ether, it’s as real as steel and it is something you must intentionally generate and shape every day. This is a book for leaders who want to move away from a default culture and learn how to change the tide of culture in their workplace, right now.

Putting it all together

Ultimately, people need to see culture as a difficulty to manage rather than a problem to solve. There is no quick fix and there are no shortcuts. Shaping and sustaining a peak performance culture requires a disciplined commitment. The good news is that change generates momentum. Leaders can use this momentum to take their organizations out of their default cultures and open up extraordinary possibilities for themselves as leaders and for their organizations.


Chris McGoff is the co-founder of The Clearing, Inc. a Washington, D.C.-based management consulting firm where his client list includes many U.S. Federal Government agencies, IBM, AARP, Consol Energy, Benesch, Coffman Engineers, Harris, Lazard, the American Petroleum Institute, SalientCRGT, DuPont, the United Nations, and Boeing. He is the Washington Post bestselling author of The Primes,  and his new book Match in the Root Cellar (Forbes Books) publishes February 6, 2018.


By the Editors of Writer’s Market

This collection of articles and essays drawn from the best of Writer’s Market, offers timeless advice to help writers achieve their goals, all in one handy reference. The Craft & Business of Writing teaches you not only the basics–from concepting to drafting and finally submitting your work–but also offers insight into more advanced writing and publishing topics. The book covers finding and working with an agent, negotiating contracts, and conducting book tours, as well as timeless advice about crafting more vivid characters, writing in rhyme, and testing article ideas—all from the source writers have trusted for decades: Writer’s Market. Get it here.

The post Marrying Fiction and Nonfiction in Business Books appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/nonfiction/marrying-fiction-with-non-fiction-in-business-books

IELTS test in Australia – April 2018 (General Training)

Our friend P remembered the following questions from a recent IELTS exam he took in Australia:

Writing testIELTS test in Australia

Writing task 1 (a letter)

You have recently experienced a problem with your rental house. Write a letter to your landlord and say

– What is the problem?
– What did you do?
– What do you expect your landlord to do about it?

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Many people prefer to live in their own house, while others are prepared to live in rental properties. Discuss both views, give you own opinion and examples.

Speaking test

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– Where do you live now?
– How far away is it from the exam centre?
– How did you get here today?
– How often do you use a dictionary?
– What dictionary do you prefer: a book, an e-book or a mobile app?
– Why is it so?
– What dictionary would you prefer as a present? Why?

Cue Card

Talk about a foreign country that you would like to live or work in. Please say

– What country is it?
– Why did you choose it?
– Explain how you plan to achieve it.

Discussion

– What do you plan to do there?
– Did you get some advice or help from somebody regarding your plan?
– What do you like and dislike about your home country?
– What do you like and dislike about your current job?
– What job would you like to do in the future? Why?

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from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-test-in-australia-april-2018-general-training/

2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 19

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) Thread;” replace the blank with a word or phrase; make the new phrase the title of your poem; and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “New Thread,” “Old Thread,” “Twitter Thread,” and “Blue Thread.”

*****

Re-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a (Blank) Thread Poem:

“Tie Me to a Piece of Thread”

please tie me to a piece of thread
& i will ring both night & day
happy to go wherever led–
so tie me to a piece of thread
or lay me on your lonely bed
& tell me what i need to say
for you to pull this piece of thread
held tight for you both night & day

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). When in doubt, he writes a triolet.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-19

Literary Agent Alert: Writers House Literary Agent Lindsay Auld

About: Lindsay grew up by the ocean in San Diego and studied English at Bowdoin College. After college, she taught fourth-grade as a member of the Teach for America program and spent a great deal of time trying to find the perfect book for each child in her class. She began her publishing career in the children’s marketing department at Harcourt before joining the West Coast office of Writers House as Steven Malk’s assistant. She soon began representing her own picture books, middle-grade, and young adult titles and helped launch the careers of several bestselling authors. After taking time off to start a family, Lindsay has now re-joined Writers House and currently divides her time between the UK and the US. She has always been passionate about children’s and young adult literature. Growing up, she loved stories by Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, Philip Pullman, Katherine Paterson, E. L. Konigsburg, Lois Lowry, Beverly Cleary, and Judith Viorst.

She is seeking: Picture book, middle-grade, and young adult manuscripts. She particularly loves mystery, fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, nonfiction from a fresh perspective, and stories with humor—light or dark or both.

How to query: For submissions, please send a query and the first 10-15 pages of your book to: lauld@writershouse.com.


Live Webinar: What Agents and Editors are Looking for in First Pages

Writing your query is the first step to grabbing the agents’ attention, however, many writers are not aware that agents sometimes go directly to the first pages to even see if the writing is something to have a closer look at. Join agent Katie Shea Boutillier to discuss in detail what we are looking for when we approach your first pages.

Katie will go step-by-step to demonstrate the importance of strong first pages, focusing on voice, tone, mood, setting, urgency, pace, description, dialogue and your natural approach to your characters. Your ultimate goal is to make sure your reader (agent, editors, and beyond) are into your work immediately, and Katie will guide you with her knowledge and experience what makes impressive first pages to readers.

The post Literary Agent Alert: Writers House Literary Agent Lindsay Auld appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/literary-agent-alert-writers-house-literary-agent-lindsay-auld

The Importance of Small Details in Fiction Writing

This article is excerpted from the WDU online course: Read Like a Writer: Learn from the Masters with Mark Spencer. Learn more and register today.


A work of fiction must be created, as it were, brush stroke by brush stroke. The writer may have a vision of the big picture, but nothing works, particularly a plot, if the small, vivid, authenticating details are not there. Small, concrete details are usually the difference between a story that works and a story that fails, between a good piece of fiction writing and a great piece of fiction writing.

As a writer, you should be considering things like the books on a character’s book case, the paintings on his walls, the colors of his walls, the kind of car he drives, the kinds of clothes he wears, his tastes in food, in music, in movies, in lovers, in wines…  

You do not necessarily have to have a lot of details. Certainly, you don’t want gratuitous details that will only bore your reader. Again—context is everything. In some stories, it may not be necessary to describe the main character’s looks at all or to mention what kind of car he drives or the town he lives in because those things may not be important to that particular story, but of course something else will be. For instance, in Ernest Hemingway‘s, “Hills Like White Elephants,” there is no description of the characters. How they look is not important. How they feel is. And their feelings are powerfully evoked through their dialogue. Knowing what the characters look like would not add to the story. Their physical appearances are just not important, not part of the issues they are struggling with or the emotions they are feeling.

You want to avoid details that don’t contribute to the reader’s intellectual and emotional pleasures, but more often than not, fictions are weak not because of gratuitous details but because of the lack of effective, sensuous details. Your reader should see, hear, feel, taste, and even smell the fictional world you’re creating. And you can stimulate your reader’s senses only with concrete, sensuous details.

Take risks. Avoid flat, merely authenticating details that the story may be better off without, but don’t be afraid of details with some emotional charge. Writers will sometimes, out of their fear of being sentimental, destroy an early draft of a story by stripping it of the details that gave it vitality. If you are moved by a detail as you write a story, there’s a chance the reader may also be moved. If you’re afraid of being called sentimental or of revealing something about yourself, you’re taking the risk of never being poignant and of committing the greatest sin—the one fatal sin that a writer can commit: being dull.

It’s generally the small details that will provide your fiction with not just immediacy but also with originality. If you write honestly about the way you view life, about your characters and the situations they find themselves in and the meanings and consequences of those situations and if you write vividly, stimulating your reader’s senses and making him feel truly a part of your fictional world, then the originality will exist in your work.  It will exist primarily because you are a unique human being. No one in the world is going to imagine, interpret, or present exactly the same story.

“The big picture” premise of a story might not be much of anything new.  Take, for instance, the first Rocky movie, the Academy Award winner for best picture in 1976.  There’s much about the premise of Rocky that would strike a lot of people as trite: a down-and-out boxer named Rocky gets a chance at the title. Nothing very original about that. But what makes the movie work is that the characters come to life so that the audience knows them and is interested in them. Little details like Rocky’s pet turtles, the photographs on his walls, the hole in his tee-shirt, the phrases he uses habitually–all these small things play a big part in his character development.  (The same would be true, of course, if Rocky were a short story or novel or memoir.)

By the way, the sequels to Rocky don’t work as well because the focus isn’t so much on the people and the small details as they are on training scenes and fight scenes and melodramatic arguments between the characters—the sensational rather than the human elements.

The subject of a story is almost always people, whatever else the story might concern, and originality comes not from the subject so much as from the treatment of the subject. You don’t need to search for something bizarre to write about—like a bigamist professional wrestler (although the story might be fine). You can write about something that sounds, when summarized, mundane—for instance, an old lady who lives alone in a cottage in the woods and does nothing except work with flowers in her yard and drink tea before going to bed at night.

It all comes down to the small details. In the hands of a good writer, that old lady, her cottage, her flowers, and the smell and taste of her tea, as well as the feel of the smooth, porcelain cup in her hand, become quite real for the reader, and the story ends up being truly compelling.


This article is excerpted from the WDU online course: Read Like a Writer: Learn from the Masters with Mark Spencer. Learn more and register today.


Mark Spencer is the author of Ghost Walking (novel, Moonshine Cove, 2016), A Haunted Love Story(nonfiction novel, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2012), The Masked Demon (novel, Main Street Rag, 2012),Images of America: Monticello (local history, Arcadia Publishing, 2011), The Weary Motel (novel, winner of the Omaha Prize for the Novel, published by The Backwaters Press), Only Missing (a novella, winner of the Faulkner Society’s Faulkner Award for Fiction), Love and Reruns in Adams County (novel, Fawcett-Columbine/Random House), Wedlock, (two novellas and three short stories, Watermark Press), Spying on Lovers (short stories, winner of the Patrick T.T. Bradshaw Book Award sponsored by Amelia Press) and Trespassers (Main Street Rag, 2014), a short story collection. Mark is a professor of English and Creative Writing in the MFA program and Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Several times, Mark has been named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

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