IELTS test in London, UK – February 2018 (General Training)

Our friends L and K took the IELTS test in London and remembered the following Writing and Speaking questions:

Writing testIELTS test in the UK

Writing task 1 (a letter)

You have a neighbor who is often burning rubbish at their house. Write a complaint about it to the local council and say

– What is happening?
– How is your family harmed by that?
– What could be the solution, in your opinion?

Writing Task 2 (an essay)

Some people think that several short holidays from school are better, while others think one long summer holiday for the year is better for children. Discuss and include your own opinion and relevant examples from your experience.

Speaking test

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What subject are you studying?
– Why do you think people choose such a subject in your country?
– Do you like reading books?
– What type of books do you read?
– Are you reading a book presently?
– Would you like to write a book in the future?

Cue Card 1 (that L had)

Talk about a situation where you had to be very polite. Please say

– What was the situation?
– How did you keep being polite?
– How did you feel after that?

Cue Card 2 (that K had)

Talk about a museum you have visited. Please say

– What did you like or dislike there?
– What was the theme of this museum?
– Who did you go there with? Why?

Discussion

– Do you like to travel long distances?
– Why or why not?
– Would you like to travel to the space?
– How many public places do you know?
– Do young people like to visit the same public places as old people?

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from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-test-in-london-the-uk-february-2018-general-training/

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10 Ways to Overcome Lonely Writer Syndrome


One of the downsides to becoming a fulltime author or writer is that, by its very nature, writing can be a very lonely business. Typically, it’s just you and a computer, shut off from the rest of the world, all alone with your thoughts.

If you’re someone who is not totally comfortable being a literary hermit like me, you might experience feelings of loneliness and depression, or what I call Lonely Writer Syndrome.

There are things you can do to avoid such feelings. It starts with changing your surroundings and your routine. To that end, here are my Top 10 Tips on how to avoid lonely writer syndrome and become a happy hermit.

2. Create A Positive Workspace

For me, it all begins with the space where I spend most of my day writing, which is my home office. The space must be comfortable and convenient to work in, and conducive to the task of writing. Otherwise, you may spend most of the time being distracted by negative things like a messy desk or rickety chair, or outside distractions like traffic noise or the kid next door banging a ball against the house.

I’m also a bit of a neat freak. If my workspace is a mess, I’m unable to focus on the writing, so my creativity goes to pot. There is nothing on my desk but a computer and the legal pad and pen I use to doodle when my brain needs a break from writing. I don’t buy into the adage that “a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind.” To me, a messy desk is a sign of a person too lazy to clean up their desk.

The same is true of the ergonomics of the profession. Writers sit a lot, usually hunched over a desk or a table at Starbucks. If your chair is uncomfortable or your setup awkward, you could suffer back or wrist pain, or lose feeling in your backside. That’s going to affect your creativity and your mood.

Investing in a chair or desk that is ergonomically-designed for how you work could be the best money you’ll ever spend. Notice that I didn’t advise you to buy a comfy chair. It’s been my experience that getting too comfortable can be just as detrimental to the writing process as being too uncomfortable.

Remember high school typing class from the dark ages, boys and girls: feet flat on the floor, spine straight, shoulders back, arms extended at the elbows, wrists in a relaxed position, fingers on keys. Who knew that old Mrs. Reed the typing teacher really knew what she was talking about?

2. Invest in Modern Technology

Nothing is more frustrating (at least to me) than being in the middle of a thought and having my computer crash, which is why I recommend investing in a good computer that doesn’t freeze up every time you launch Word or Scrivener.

Trying to write on a 10-year-old laptop is like hammering words into a stone with a dull chisel.

Basic, reliable computers are cheap. Buy one. Today. You’re welcome.

[Scrivener 3.0 Update: What’s inside, and is it worth the cost?]

3. Take Frequent Breaks

When I tell people that I make my living as a writer, they say witty things like, “It must be great being a writer. All you do is sit all day long.”

What they don’t understand is that sitting too long at a computer can be mentally and physically exhausting. I’ve found that taking frequent breaks helps refresh my body, mind, and mood.

I write in thirty-minute chunks, which means every thirty-minutes I get up and stretch for a few minutes, or grab a cup of coffee, or just walk around the house. Thirty on, ten off is what works for me. Try it and you’ll soon figure out what works best for you.

4. Get Out of The House

At least once a day I shut down the computer and get out of the house for an hour. I may go out to lunch, take a walk around the neighborhood, go to the gym, or run errands. The point is to disconnect the digital umbilical and come out of your cave for at least an hour every day, even if you have no particular place to go. I find that I’m usually eager to get back to work after such a break, which increases my productivity and satisfaction.

5. Interact with Others in The Same Boat as You

As I said in the beginning, writing can be a lonely business. That’s why I recommend that you find ways to interact with other writers, virtually and in the real world.

Joining online and local writer’s groups is one of the best way to do this—if you can avoid the aspects of such groups that often eat into your writing time (drama, committees, you read mine and I’ll read yours).

Spending time with others in the same boat as you will often keep you from having those feelings that your boat is sinking.

One additional word of warning: don’t waste time writing long Facebook posts or getting into philosophical arguments in forums to prove how well you can write or how smart you are. These groups can have positive and negative effects, so participate and contribute wisely.


Upcoming Online Courses:

Advanced Novel Writing with Mark Spencer
Writing Nonfiction with Carolyn Walker
Short Story Fundamentals with John DeChancie
Query Letter in 14 Days with Jack Adler
Writing the Picture Book with Terri Valentine


6. Attend Writer’s Conferences

This takes No. 5 to the next level. If you can afford to travel, check out the various writers and publishing conferences that are held around the country every year. Choose the one or two that you feel are best for you and plan to attend. Some writers prefer small regional conferences while others enjoy the big nationals.

My advice would be to choose a conference that fits your niche and needs (romance, sci-fi, etc.) rather than a large general conference that may not focus on things you’re most interested in.

Either way, conferences are a great way to meet other writers, agents, editors, and publishers. I always come away from conferences with a renewed energy and list of new contacts. Since attending conferences can be expensive, do your research and attend only those that you feel will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

7. Coauthor with Other Writers

This is one of my favorite ways to shake off those feelings of loneliness and depression because it forces you to communicate with others on a regular basis.

Coauthoring simply means that you write a book (and share credit) with a writing partner, or someone who can provide complimentary skills to your own.

For example, I coauthor with several writers in the science fiction and space opera genres. Sometimes, we both contribute to the writing equally while other times I might do the lion’s share of the writing while they handle most of the editorial and marketing tasks.

Coauthoring is a great way to build your brand and reach a wider audience. And while the project is in full swing, you will have frequent chats with your writing partner. You may find coauthoring so appealing that you never want to work alone again.

8. Ignore the Bad Stuff

There’s nothing more depressing to some writers than getting a bad review or receiving yet another rejection letter. Those things used to bother me, too, but now, not so much. If I get a bad review, I determine whether it’s just some jack wagon who didn’t even read the book or a serious reader with something genuinely worthwhile to say.

Genuine reviews, negative or not, should be considered valuable feedback from readers, and can give you great insight into what you may need to do differently next time.

Don’t let the bad reviews get you down. Garner what lessons you can from them and move on.

The same is true with rejection, typically from agents or publishers. I have enough agent rejection letters to wallpaper my master bathroom.

Every author, from King to Grisham to Rowling has been rejected dozens of times. Consider yourself part of the elite club: authors who are not afraid to try.

9. Learn to Meditate

One of my favorite ways to recharge my mental batteries and shake off feelings of loneliness and depression is through meditation. The thing I love most about meditation is that I can do it anywhere, anytime, all I need is ten minutes and a quiet place to sit.

You don’t have to take classes or read books to learn how to meditate. I simply go into my den or office where there’s no noise or distractions, sit in a comfy chair, close my eyes, focus on my breathing, and let my mind wander for a few minutes.

At first, you may find turning off your thoughts to be difficult, but over time you will learn to shut out the world. In the meantime, you can wear noise-cancelling headphones or listen to soothing music to block out noise.

The key is to keep at it until you are meditating for at least ten minutes a day. Or ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the afternoon. Or whenever you feel stressed or alone. Meditation is a tool you can use at will. I highly recommend doing so. I think you’ll find it to be a great way to keep the writing process positive and productive.

10. Listen to Upbeat Music

When I write, I prefer a quiet environment, but many writers believe that listening to upbeat or inspirational music helps them stay motivated and in a creative mood. The key is to listen to music that inspires rather than interrupts the thought patterns, which is why many prefer instrumentals. If you find yourself singing along rather than writing, you might want to change your playlist.

[Want some music recommendations? Check out Robert Lee Brewer’s 20 Best Songs for Writers and About Writing.]

Once more, writing can be a lonely business, but there are ways to help battle those feelings of loneliness and depression.

Give these tips a try to see if you find them helpful. And feel free to share other tips you might have in the comments below!


The post 10 Ways to Overcome Lonely Writer Syndrome appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/writers-perspective/the-writing-life/how-to-avoid-lonely-writer-syndrome

Literary Agent Interview: Claire Draper, InkWell Management

Claire Draper is a new literary agent at InkWell Management. She’s studied Queer Diversity in Children’s Literature at New York University. Before becoming an agent, she interned at Rare Bird Lit, InkWell Management and the Children’s Book Council. This Southern California native now lives in Brooklyn. She enjoys young adult fiction, graphic novels and the latest collection of feminist essays. She is seeking diverse novels with strong LGBTQIA representation.

How did you become an agent?

I’ve wanted to be a part of books for years, so my intention with going to college was to eventually be a part of publishing. I interned at InkWell Management while studying Diversity in Children’s Literature at NYU, and ended up loving InkWell so much that when it was time join publishing long term, I came back to the place that had taught me so much. Then, I signed my first client a little over a year later from a #PitMad entry, and officially became an agent.

What’s something you’ve sold that comes out now/soon that you’re excited about?

Being as new to agent-ing as I am, I haven’t sold anything yet, but my clients have some projects in the pipeline that I can’t wait for the world to see.

Are you open for submissions? If so help writers understand what kind of fiction and nonfiction projects you take queries for.

I am open to submissions! Ultimately, I am really looking for authors who are diverse with stories that are as dynamic as the world we live in. No matter the genre (sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, romance), we need more YA and graphic novels that tell stories we haven’t heard with voices that have been pushed aside. I want more stories where a main character is coping with their mental health and in addition to having an adventurous storyline. Just tell me a story I haven’t heard before from a point-of-view I haven’t heard it from. On the nonfiction side, the same thing goes, but I am more specifically looking for feminist memoirs/essay collections. And I am also a sucker for poetry.

Besides “good writing,” what are you looking for right now and not getting?

I always have more interest when it’s a good opening. Tell me you’ve done your research by opening with how you found me and why I stuck out to you as someone worth querying. And ultimately, I am looking for more queer stories and more mental health stories. Those to me are a big part of my life, and I really want to read more manuscripts with characters that have these as a part of their story.

What are you tired of seeing?

I am not quite a fan of stories where the diversity is all in the background or existing in secondary characters. Of course, it needs to be in those places, but I really want to see it in the main character and their story line.

What makes a manuscript stand out on a first read?

Tugging on my heart strings always stands out to me over anything else. If it’s not making me sob or want to throw the book, it’s not pulling at my emotions enough.

What do many emerging novelists often get wrong and how can they correct it?

Revising. As has been said before by many greater than myself, writing is mostly revising. You’re going to have to do a lot of revising in the editorial process both with your agent and your editor, so get comfortable doing it on your own first. The draft you send out to agents should be your best foot forward and much like writing an essay for a teacher, reading, rereading, and writing multiple drafts is incredibly important to creating your best work.

Do you have any tips for querying authors? 

Do your research. There’s nothing more flattering than someone who took the time to find out that their writing and my taste really align. And proofread! If your query letter isn’t beautifully written, I can’t be sure that your manuscript will be either.

What things should writers avoid when sending you submissions?

In the same way you wouldn’t want a form rejection, don’t send a form query. Some of the details can be the same (bio, summary of the manuscript) but catering your letter to each agent will go a long way towards getting your query read. You’ve spent a lot of time on your manuscript; spend a lot of time on your query letter, as it is a representation of you and your work.

What genres or types of novels are selling the most?

Contemporary stories dealing with activism in some way and dark fantasy with strong female protagonists are doing really well in terms of what people are reading.

What markets do you believe are oversaturated or are not selling as well?

I think we’re stepping away from the dystopian stories, just because it’s already been done so well.

What misconceptions do you think people have about agents?

I think people tend not to realize how important an agent is to your writing career. Agents want you to succeed and are going to their best to get you there. Once the book is sold to an editor, there’s still tons of work to be done, even long after the book is published.

What questions should an author ask an agent when they call to offer representation?

How do they envision pitching your book? What imprints do they have in mind for submitting your book? What revisions do they want you to make to your book before it goes to editors? They should have a vision for your book and your career if they’re serious about taking you on as a client.

Do you have a dream client?

My dream client (though I already have two dream clients) would be one where their work accomplishes more than just creating entertainment for the reader, but also changes the world, if even just a little bit.

Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?

I’ll be at the Writer’s Digest Conference here in NYC this August, but am open to doing other conferences this year.

New Literary Agent Alert: Kieryn Ziegler of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

Is there something personal about you writers would be surprised to know?

I’m pretty much an open book, but most people are interested to hear that I love crafting in my free time. If there’s a how-to article on Pinterest, I’ve already read it and made it.

And finally, any last piece of advice for writers seeking an agent?

I can’t say this enough but do your research and proofread are the big ones. But also try to get your work published in magazines or other small publications. Agents want to know that your work has been read and received well by other people. It bodes well for trying to get an editor to love your work as much as they do, if another publication liked your work. Try getting short stories published elsewhere in the process of trying to find an agent would be my last bit of advice.

How to Submit: submissions@inkwellmanagement.com

In the body of your email, please include a query letter and a short writing sample (1-2 chapters). Emails with large attachments will be discarded. We currently accept submissions in all genres except screenplays. Due to the volume of queries we receive, we may not be able to respond to your query. If we are interested in reading more, we will respond within two months.


The post Literary Agent Interview: Claire Draper, InkWell Management appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/literary-agent/literary-agent-interview-claire-draper-inkwell-management

A Spark to a Story: Listen to Your Instincts to Find Story Ideas

By Sara Ackerman

 Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers is a wartime tale set on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1944.  It centers around three women and a young girl whose lives are forever changed by the war and the American soldiers on their doorstep. Between a missing husband, accusations of espionage, and an African lion smuggled in by the troops, the women band together to prove that few things are stronger than love, friendship and homemade pie.

Every author has a different process in terms of how they get the idea for their next book. There is no one way, but I want to share with you my way. With me, it’s always the same: a tiny, nagging idea. One singular person, place or object that I can’t seem to shake, visiting me while I’m walking in the forest, swimming, driving, sleeping. In the case of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, that spark was a lion named Roscoe.

I first heard of Roscoe when I was a young girl growing up in Hawaii, listening to my grandmother’s war stories. A few of the Marines had managed to smuggle an African lion over on the ship, and had miraculously been allowed to keep him as a mascot at Camp Tarawa in Waimea, where they trained. Soon after Pearl Harbor, civilians were encouraged to flee to the Mainland, but my grandfather was the school principal in nearby Honoka’a, so they stayed. My grandmother never called the lion by name, but she always had a twinkle in her eye when she spoke about him and I hung on her every word. Fast-forward to several years ago, when I had written three other novels and was trying to decide on the subject of my fourth, when an idea struck.

You need to write a story about that lion!

First things first — research. It is crucial to do your homework. Eager to know more, I began to look for information online and I found a handful of photos and learned that his name was Roscoe. I sent my sister a picture of Roscoe perched on the front of a jeep with kids all around him and she emailed me back right away. “Do you recognize anyone in that picture?’ she said. I looked more closely, and as it turned out, my mother was one of the kids in the photo, with a big smile on her face as she held her hand out towards the lion. At that moment, I knew this was the jumping off point for a story.

As writers, we have to act on these instincts, most of us have a spark inside of us but not everyone knows what to do with it. I always let it simmer for a few months and then start writing. Don’t wait until you think you are ready, or for that elusive day in the future when you have the luxury to lounge around all day in your pajamas sipping lattes and dreaming up plots. Don’t read every book there is on writing, or outline your story to death.

Write now. You will have the chance to revise and rewrite later, trust me. I’ve been to writers conferences with people who are there to learn, but haven’t written anything yet. It should be the other way around. Write first and you will get so much more out of your conferences or books on writing. Give the spark a chance to come alive and you will find that one thing leads to another and before you know it, maybe six months down the road, you will have a novel.

To begin fleshing out my story, I pored over accounts of servicemen that had been here in Waimea, old newspaper articles, and interviewed my parents, my uncle, and others that had lived through the war here in Hawaii. The early 1940s were dark times, to be sure, but I also got a real sense of nostalgia from my grandmother when she talked about those years. Mixed in with the fear and the horrors, was a deep sense of connection and love and hope. People banded together and leaned on each other. Lives were lost and friends were gained. So much has been written on the horrors of war, so I wanted my story to portray the indomitable strength of the human spirit. I wanted it to show both the dark and the light — that though the war years were some of the worst years of my grandmother’s life, they were also some of the most meaningful.

As Ella, the 10 year old in my novel, says, “…everyone should know what it feels like to live through a war. I can’t remember life any other way, which may not be a good thing. Blackouts and bunny suits. Shortages of sugar and air raid drills. Collecting metal scraps. And how for each soldier out fighting, there are people suffering at home, hoping their loved ones are spared. On both sides. But not everything is bad. We made pies, we made friends. We fell in love.”

For me, a spark that began with one little lion developed into a story centered around a group of women, a young girl, and a handful of Marines. Truly one of the magical things about writing is that characters often appear along the way and help tell the story. Don’t stress if you don’t have all of your characters developed at the very beginning, as with my case, sometimes, they come naturally. Play off your protagonist and let things happen organically. Violet, the protagonist in my book, is very loosely based on my grandmother, but all the other characters came to life of their own accord. The men that I wrote about were pieced together in my imagination from dozens of accounts I read. I got to know them as I went by asking them questions and seeing how they would answer, or putting them into situations and watching how they handled themselves. Your characters want to help you!

So, next time you have a tiny nagging idea in your head, don’t ignore it. Act on it! Use it as fuel, as inspiration. Do the research and find your story! And above all, keep at it. In this profession, you will be humbled and the thickness of your skin will be tested over and over again. You will want to tear out your hair and be unable to see straight for days on end. You will probably cry––a lot. Patience and perseverance are non-negotiable. And yet it is such a thrill to sit down every day and see what is going to happen next.  That’s my favorite thing about writing, watching a spark turn into a story.


Sara Ackerman is the author of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Oriental Medicine. When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean.


Upcoming Online Courses:

The post A Spark to a Story: Listen to Your Instincts to Find Story Ideas appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/inspiration/spark-story-listen-to-instincts-story-ideas

Langston Hughes, Singing America: Thoughts on Authorship and the Importance of Black History Month

“I, too, sing America,” wrote Langston Hughes in the opening lines of one his most memorable poems, “I, Too.” In this line, Hughes forces a conversation about his place in American poetry by calling out one of the fathers of American poetry, Walt Whitman. Generations before, during the Civil War, Whitman wrote, “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear.”

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides, 
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

In the lines that follow, he provides a litany of Americans who contribute their voices to the song that comprises America. A variety of occupations receive attention, mechanics, carpenters, masons. A mother, a wife, a girl are mentioned. But no one’s race is discussed.

As many of us are aware, February is Black History Month in America. Black History Month evolved from “Negro History Week,” which was begun by Carter G. Woodson in 1926 with the goal of integrating black history into the history curriculum currently being used.

However, even now, black history is taught as separate from American history, being given a designated and limited place in history and literature books. In high school, students most often encounter Hughes in the context of what is termed the Harlem Renaissance. The word “renaissance” as it is used here also recasts the movement in terms more comfortable to a Eurocentric audience. (It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, at the time, the movement wasn’t known as the Harlem Renaissance, but rather as the “New Negro Movement.”)

Calling to mind marble statues and paintings of the Virgin Mary, using “renaissance” gives Harlem the appearance of prosperity and glamor. The reality was somewhat different. In “Theme for English B,” we hear Hughes detail his decent into the guts of Harlem from the “college on a hill”—where he is the only black student in the class. The poem’s speaker takes an elevator to his room at the Harlem Branch Y to complete an assignment: “Go home and write / a page tonight. / And let that page come out of you— / Then, it will be true.”

This assignment comes with a set of unstated expectations about the student who is to complete it. The speaker wrestles with writing, asking himself how he is any different from the instructor—he likes music, he likes to smoke a pipe. What is different is his race. The speaker asks, “So will my page be colored that I write? / Being me, it will not be white.”

Black history is American history. But when American history is white, how can we discuss black history? Andre M. Perry—a scholar on race, education, and economics at the Brookings Institute—discusses the many issues that arise when black history is separated from American history and relegated to a single month. He states, “White history as we know it can no longer be the standard in a multicultural society which is supposed to maximize the potential of all its members.”

Astonishing black authors are writing today in every genre. They might not be on the “Black History Month” tables at your local bookstore, which is likely crowded with books about black history or with books from famous black authors (most likely deceased) whom people are familiar with. By all means, read those books. But also, use Black History Month as an impetus to search out black authors whose poetry and prose will stick with you long after February ends.


The post Langston Hughes, Singing America: Thoughts on Authorship and the Importance of Black History Month appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-genre/poetry/langston-hughes-singing-america-black-history-month

Blooper-Proof Your Novel: How to Find and Fix a ‘Reality Violation’

by Jessi Rita Hoffman

Scene time and place: A Civil War combat zone, just after a skirmish. Soldiers limp away from the conflict, weary and depleted. One falls to the ground, too weak to make it back to camp. The ground is littered with bodies of the wounded and dead. Far in the background, a white SUV speeds across the battlefield. 

Whoops! It’s a goof in a Hollywood production, and we congratulate ourselves on catching it. We all get a laugh out of bloopers we find in the movies, but when they show up in a novel we’ve written, they aren’t quite so funny. There’s no better way to lose the respect of readers (or of a prospective agent) than to pollute your story with eye-rolling inconsistencies.

Yet this is a common mistake for aspiring fiction authors. I call such bloopers reality violations—inconsistencies of time, place, sequence, physics, or world-building—and they can main your novel before it gets out of the starting gate.

A reality violation occurs when something you’ve written is at odds with the way the world works—either the actual physical world (if you write realism), or the imaginary world (if you do world-building, as in sci-fi or fantasy). A reality violation is a blooper, or something that doesn’t make sense in terms of your story or scene’s physical reality.

Here are some real-life examples from books I’ve edited for clients:

Example 1: We’re told today is Thursday and the wedding will take place Saturday. The author goes on to narrate events that occur today, the next day, and the next—all of them before the wedding day.

But there’s only one day between Thursday and Saturday, not two. A calendar reality has been violated.

Example 2: A woman unlocks her front door, slams it shut, drops her purse on the sofa, and shuffles into the kitchen. She lays the mail on the table, sinks into a chair, and opens her purse.

But how can she open her purse in the kitchen, when she left her purse on the sofa? The author forgot the sequence of actions she established. A careful reread would have revealed the discrepancy.

Let’s look at more examples from manuscripts of real-life aspiring authors:

Example 3: Maggie asked for a salad, and Jack ordered the steak. Then they continued their argument. Jack couldn’t understand why Maggie was being so unreasonable. It wasn’t like her to get this worked up. The waitress returned after what seemed like hours. “Be careful. Those plates are hot,” she said, placing the food on the table.

But Maggie ordered a salad, so her plate would not have been hot.



Example 4: Jack took off his soiled garments and tossed them on the floor, then filled the sink with warm, soapy water. He lathered a washcloth, and cleaned his face and armpits, at last feeling refreshed. He toweled himself dry. The cell phone rang, but Jack ignored it. He hurried to the kitchen, grabbed an energy bar from the cupboard, and rushed out the front door.

The author forgot to include the step where the man dressed himself. Unbeknownst to the writer, his character just left the house naked!

What if, instead, the author had written the following?

Jack stopped by the house to shower and grab an energy bar before hurrying to his court appointment.

In that case, it would not be necessary to tell us Jack got dressed, because the author is summarizing Jack’s actions, not giving us a blow-by-blow, sequential account. See the difference? If you’re narrating every move, you must narrate every move. But if you’re summarizing action, you can leave it to the reader to make the obvious assumptions.

See if you can catch the reality violation in this next example:

Example 5: Carl leaned against the fence post, watching Patrice ride her new horse into the corral. She tossed him a flirty glance.
“Good ride?” he asked.
“The best,” she said, patting Lightning’s neck. “He’s a winner.”
“Maybe tomorrow I’ll ride with you.”
“I’d like that,” she said, tossing her hair over her shoulder.
Carl grinned, leaned down, and kissed her.

But he can’t lean down and kiss her if he’s on the ground and she’s on the horse—Carl would have to be 15 feet tall. The writer forgot to get the girl off the horse and get Carl over to the girl. Essential actions were forgotten in the sequence.

I said these are real-life examples from books I’ve edited, but in this horse example, I omitted a paragraph where Carl and Patrice chat a while before he kisses her. The author missed the blooper because, by the time he got around to writing about the kiss, he forgot he still had the girl sitting on top of the horse. Reality violations are harder for writers to catch when the actions are spread out across more paragraphs, with more dialog in between, because it’s easier to forget where your characters are standing or sitting and what you last had them doing.

Example 6: The road was always busy, but this morning was worse than usual, and it took Marisha longer than it should have to reach the library. She spent a couple of hours lost in genealogies, but couldn’t find the information she was wanting. Annoyed and frustrated, she gave up, called “goodnight” to the librarian, and left.

But if Marisha started out in the morning then spent two hours at the library, it would have been morning or early afternoon when she left, so she would not have called out, “Goodnight.”
Bloopers—reality violations—fall into the blind spot of the author who makes them, and most of us have this blind spot. But just as you can work around your automobile’s blind spot by checking your mirrors and looking over your shoulder for “invisible” passing vehicles, you can work around your writer’s blind spot by diligently checking for “invisible” inconsistencies when you do your revisions.

How to Detect a Reality Violation

To detect reality violations, one trick is to reread each scene after you write it, taking care to visualize it exactly as you worded it. If a character crosses the room, picture her crossing the room. If she drops her purse on the couch, picture her doing that as you read it. If you create a vivid mental image of exactly what you have written, most inconsistencies will pop out at you as clearly as that SUV on the Civil War battlefield.

Another trick that helps is creating a clock or calendar for the action of your novel. This works for catching time inconsistencies. Charting out the sequence of a string of events as you read through your draft will make any discrepancy in the time line show up immediately.

Making the effort to blooper-proof your novel will pay off in the reception it receives, whether you self-publish or hope to go the route of traditional publishing. Reality violations shout, “Amateur!” to anyone reading your story, so make sure to weed them out before exposing your precious manuscript to the world.


Jessi Rita Hoffman is a book editor and writing coach who works with beginning writers and with award-winning, agented authors. She specializes in thrillers, YA, historical lit, women’s lit, and Christian fiction. She also helps authors structure and revise their nonfiction books. Visit her website and blog at www.JessiRitaHoffman.com.


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The post Blooper-Proof Your Novel: How to Find and Fix a ‘Reality Violation’ appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/blooper-proof-your-novel-how-to-find-and-fix-a-reality-violation

Jeff Somers and the Rough Beast, Episode 1: How to Write a Novel

This video series follows author Jeff Somers (Writing Without Rules, coming from WD Books in May 2018) as he begins and works on a new science fiction novel, tentatively titled Rough Beast. Demonstrating the tips that appear in his upcoming WD book, Jeff checks in at regular intervals to discuss how to write a novel, as well as the progress he’s made (or the lack thereof), the problems he encounters, and the decisions he makes as he goes from Chapter One to an 80,000+ word novel over the course of several months. Along the way, he is frequently assaulted by cats, suffers frequent existential crises, and discusses the art and craft of fiction in detail.

Episode 1: How to Write a Novel

Author Jeff Somers (Writing Without Rules) commences work on a new science-fiction novel in a style similar to his popular Avery Cates series, tentatively titled Rough Beast. He plans to Vlog about the experience in real-time, creating videos along the way to discuss his progress, the challenges he encounters, and how his many cats are driving him insane.


The post Jeff Somers and the Rough Beast, Episode 1: How to Write a Novel appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/writers-perspective/jeff-somers-and-the-rough-beast-episode-1-how-to-write-a-novel

Finding Your Squad: 4 Benefits of Joining a Critique Group


By Tami Charles

Deadlines. Writer’s block. Admin duties. We all know the drill. This “writing life” ain’t easy, nor is it glamorous!

Take me. Exhibit A. As a full-time writer, I wake up daily at around 4 a.m. to work. Half-awake. Foggy-brained. Keurig revved up. It’s my best time to get things done because the house is blissfully quiet.

Depending on the day and task, my writing is split into two arenas: the creative world and the “bill-paying” freelance one. Equally important, equally difficult.

On the freelance end, my work involves research, evidence-based theories and straightforward text. No fluff.

On the creative side, however, there is much to consider: characters, dialogue, setting, worlds to build. The list is never ending!

When I first decided to pursue writing as a career, I had the good fortune of finding the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and Women Who Write. These two organizations connected me with critique groups, which essentially gave me the boost I needed to jump-start my career.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, I think participating in a critique group is beneficial in many ways. Here are four critical ones:

1. Flexibility

There are many options for types of critique groups to join. There are online groups, face-to-face meetings and a hybrid of both. Whichever type of group you choose affords you the benefit of connecting with other writers, socializing and growing together in your craft.

2. Craft

Speaking of craft, participating in a critique group helps you greatly improve your writing. Sharing your work with members and reading their work as well allows you to pinpoint sagging plot lines, breaks in character and more. The give-and-take, along with the honest feedback, is a win for all involved.

3. Accountability

There’s nothing like having other people waiting on your submission and feedback to get your butt in the chair. The pressure alone is enough to get you reading their work and fixing up your own. In this case, pressure can be a good thing!

4. Networking

I cannot stress this benefit enough! I joined my first face-to-face critique group in 2009, remained active until 2014 and then transitioned to strictly online thereafter. Over the years, I’ve met writers from all walks of life. Each one has come with their own set of unique experiences. I appreciated their willingness to share advice and contacts related to elevating our collective writing career goals. For example, one fellow writer-friend provided me with freelance writing resources, which landed my first writing gig. (Thank you, Laura!) Two others researched and helped me plan ways to meet Vanessa Williams, the subject of my debut novel, Like Vanessa. Meeting Ms. Williams was a dream come true! I was able to give her a copy of my novel, which she read, and later gave a glowing endorsement for the cover.

Had I not met the wonderful writers in my critique group (Special shout-out to Christine and Lynda!), I honestly believe none of this would’ve happened.

I believe 100 percent in the power of networking, but most importantly, in the necessity of critique groups. What begins as a businesslike arrangement among writers can develop into a group of friends, cheerleaders and confidants who will rally for your success, while also building their own.

Writing can be a lonely process, but it doesn’t have to be. A simple Google search will help you find the critique group that’s right for you.

Find your squad. Receive feedback with a grain of sugar.
Spread the writerly love.

Repeat.
Repeat.

I wish you luck in your search!


Tami Charles is a former teacher, wannabe chef, and debut author. She writes picture books, middle-grade, young adult and nonfiction. Her middle grade novel, Like Vanessa, debuts on March 13, 2018. Thus far, the novel has earned starred reviews from Kirkus and Foreword, been selected by the Jr. Library Guild for Spring 2018, earned a spot in the Top Ten for ABA’s Indies Introduce List, and won the SCBWI Book Launch Award, along with glowing reviews from Vanessa Williams and NYT bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia. Charles has more books forthcoming with Candlewick and Charlesbridge, including the picture book Freedom Soup debuting in Fall 2019. She is represented by Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Find Charles online at tamiwrites.com, on Twitter @TamiWritesStuff or Instagram @tamiwrites.


The post Finding Your Squad: 4 Benefits of Joining a Critique Group appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/breaking-in-writers-digest/finding-your-squad-4-benefits-of-joining-a-critique-group

IELTS test in New Zealand – February 2018 (Academic)

The topics and questions below were shared by an IELTS test taker from New Zealand:

Listening testIELTS test in New Zealand

Section 1. A phone conversation between a staff member and a lady interested in a part-time job as a cycling leader.
Section 2. Map of a zoo.
Section 3. Don’t remember.
Section 4. History of bicycles.

Reading test

Passage 1. The history of graphite pencil.
Passage 2. Innovation in sports.
Passage 3. Different theories on the formation of planets.

Writing test

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given a pie chart describing the satisfaction level of full-time and part-time students with the services offered by the university library.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

These days the tradition of families eating meals together is declining. Why is this happening? What are the effects on families?

Speaking test

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– When is your favorite time to study?

Cue Card

Think of a time when you had to be polite. Please say

– Where did this happen?
– How did you do this?
– Why did you have to be polite?

Discussion

– Should children be allowed to say what’s on their mind or do they need to be controlled by parents?
– What are your thoughts on showing respect as a tourist traveling to a different country?

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from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-test-in-new-zealand-february-2018-academic/

IELTS Speaking test in India – February 2018

When A took the IELTS Speaking test in India, he was asked the following 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 subject are you studying?
– Where do you live now?
– How long have you been in this place?
– Do you read newspapers?
– Did you read newspapers in your childhood? Why?
– What pages do you usually read in newspapers? Why?
– Where do you see crowds in your town?
– Are there any other places you know?
– Are people always interested in attending these places?
– Why is it happening in your opinion?

Cue Card

Describe a place that you would like to visit with your friends. Please say

– What is this place?
– Why do you want to visit it?
– When do you want to visit it and with whom?

Discussion

– Why do people visit that place?
– Do people understand social responsibilities?
– Why do you think people are more interested in social responsibilities these days?
– Does joining any clubs help people to socialise?
– What impact does it have on the society? Why?

Related posts:

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