eBook Review: Write the Fight Right

Write The Fight Right

Write The Fight Right by Alan Baxter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s a lot to be said about the common writing tip, ‘write what you know’, and Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter is testament to that. Alan is a writer, but his passion for the martial arts truly comes through in this book. His knowledge and understanding on the subject makes this book a resource I’m grateful to have purchased.

All writers have to face a confrontation at some time, or their characters do at least. I find it one of the hardest things to write, so when I found out about this ebook I was quick to get a copy because I need all the help I can get. Also, in a fight or flight situation, I’m the ‘flight’ type of person. I’ve never been in a punch up of any kind…except with my younger brother when we were kids, but that doesn’t really count as those ‘confrontations’ were never serious. I’ve never had any self-defence classes either, so I have no experience to draw from. If faced with a precarious situation my first option would be to flee, if that wasn’t possible I’d probably die of fright.

Write the Fight Right is written in a way that kept me enthralled. Honestly, the words flow so nicely and I was pleased to see little examples which reinforced what the author was trying to get across. He touches on things that a novice to fighting wouldn’t even consider when writing a fight scene. And most importantly, he brings the fight alive on the page and made me believe I could do the same!

If you are a writer, then I highly recommend this book. It’s a resource you cannot be without, especially writers who are not fighters.

Editing Course: Be Aware of What You Edit

As an editor it is part of your job to watch out for things like offensive language and discriminatory wording — but only when it is out of context.

Most of the time, the author does not intend harm or it may be a case of misinterpretation, but the editor must be objective and consider the ramifications of inappropriate use and bring it to the author’s attention.

There are many grey areas that make this difficult such as cultural differences, freedom of speech and inconsistent laws, but the key here is keeping it within context. Ultimately, it is the author’s decision if the wording is changed or not.

Professional Integrity

It’s important to maintain objectivity and independent judgement in thinking when working as an editor, copyeditor or proofreader.

This means being able to think for yourself and being able to discuss potential problems with your clients, and remain professional when doing so.

Objectivity means being impartial, intellectually honest and free of conflicts of interest. An editor must be able to put their personal views aside and approach their work on an individual basis. It may mean that you do NOT take on a particular job because you feel so strongly about the topic. Whatever the case, you must always stand back, keep a clear head, do not pass judgement on what you are reading and stay professional.

Confidentiality means that you must never disclose information about the editing project to a third person. Never discuss manuscripts, never share company details, never gossip about your clients. If you do, your client can take legal action against you.

Cultural Awareness means understanding that groups of people have patterns of behaviour and beliefs that may impact on the way they do, say and write things. Words and meanings can be totally different with the groups. What does not offend one group, may highly offend another group. The editor should arrange a client pre-brief (in person or by phone) before editing material to discuss what the author’s intentions are as this will often be beneficial to the editor.

Some Terms You Should Know

Defamation is ‘the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image’. Source Wikipedia.

Slander is the spoken form of ‘defamation’.

Libel is the written form of ‘defamation’.

Discrimination is the unfavourable or unfair treatment of a person based on their sex, age, religion, physical appearance, sexual orientation or race.

Blasphemy is ‘irreverence toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs’. Source: Wikipedia.

Editing Course: Moral Rights and Plagiarism

The following notes are extracts from the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) website.

Copyright Agency Limited
Level 15, 233 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9394 7600
Fax: 02 9394 7601
Email: info@copyright.com.au
Website: www.copyright.com.au

What are moral rights?

Moral rights are provided to the creator of works under copyright laws to protect their reputation and their work.

In Australia, moral rights provide creators with three rights:

1. The right of attribution of authorship.
2. The right not to have authorship of their work falsely attributed.
3. The right of integrity of authorship.

This protects the creator from their work being used in a derogatory way that may lead to their reputation suffering.

Moral rights last for the same term as copyright — 70 years after the death of the creator.

Why are moral rights different?

Copyright protects the ‘economic rights’ of a work. In other words, it is aimed at the financial side of things.

Moral rights protect the reputation and integrity of the creator.

Moral rights cannot be held by a company, so the person who wrote the piece retains the moral rights.

What types of works do moral rights apply to?

Moral rights apply to a wide range of works including books, articles, textbooks, poems, songs, plays, film scripts, drawings, paintings, sculptures, musical works, computer programs and films.

What would be considered an infringement?

There are numerous ways that moral rights can be infringed:

  • not attributing a work to its rightful creator
  • falsely attributing a work to someone else
  • producing a falsely attributed work
  • treating a work in a derogatory way (including altering the work)
  • dealing commercially with a work that has been treated in a derogatory fashion

 

However, the creator can give written consent for their work to be used in another way than how it was created.

Other considerations to be taken into account are the nature of the work, the purpose for which it was created, if the work was created while in employment and if there are more than one author. Some of these may not constitute a breach in moral rights if the use of the work is considered ‘reasonable’.

The law also takes into account ‘relevant industry practice’. For example, an advertising team brainstorm an idea for a single advertisement. It would be difficult to attribute moral rights to every person or a single person, so no attribution would be permitted.

Can moral rights be sold?

No. Unlike copyright, moral rights cannot be transferred or sold.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when someone tries to present someone else’s work as their own.

An editor and/or publisher must keep an eye open for two things:

1. Work that is a direct copy of another person’s work but has their client’s name on it.
2. Work that paraphrases or summarises someone else’s work but does not credit the original author.

Citing a work means referring to the creator of the work. This can be done in the text or at the end of the text.

Example:

[quote style=”1″]The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
— Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)[/quote]

What is NOT plagiarism?

  • new and original ideas
  • writing that comes from your own experiences, thoughts and observations
  • writing that is written in your own words and your own voice
  • work written from your own conclusions from studies
  • compiled and stated facts

 

What is a copying licence?

Copying licences allow organisations to access information but fulfil their legal copyright requirements. The organisation pays an annual fee to CAL and this allows them to use copyright material as long as it is important to their business.

Go to the CAL website to find out more on copyright licences.

Editing Course: What is Copyright?

Most people recognise the copyright symbol, but everyone in the publishing industry needs to know what might cause a copyright issue.

© This is the worldwide symbol that signals a work is owned by someone and no one else has the right to use it. Sounds simple, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Firstly, each country has its own laws. In Australia, our laws are administered by the federal Government. The Australian Copyright Council is a non-profit organisation that offers free advice, information and training.

Australian Copyright Council
3/245 Chalmers Street, Redfern NSW 2106
Phone: 02 9318 1788
Fax: 02 9698 3536
Email: cpright@copyright.org.au
Website: www.copyright.org.au

Who Owns the Work?

Anything you write, be it a book, play, course, or piece of music is copyright. To assert your intellectual property right you can use the copyright symbol in the following manner:

© The Publishing Company 2010
© Karen Lee Field 2011

You may also insert the word ‘copyright’ too:

Copyright © The Publishing Company 2010
© Copyright Karen Lee Field 2011

If someone copies your work, it is known as a copyright infringement. However, sometimes you do NOT own the copyright even when you wrote the piece.

If you work for a company or contract to a company and you are paid to write the piece for them, then the company owns copyright, not you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve signed a contract without a intellectual property clause, it is still implicit under the law.

This means you cannot sell the piece to another person or company, as you do not own it. However, there is nothing to stop you writing a similar piece to sell.

Defending Your Copyright

Most authors cannot afford legal representation. This is also the case for many small publishing companies. Mega companies can and do defend their copyright and it costs a lot of money.

Nevertheless, as an author, editor or publisher you must be responsible for making sure you do not breach copyright.

As an editor or publisher, if the manuscript you are working on appears to be a copy of a book you’re read, mention this to the author. People do have similar ideas and maybe it is a coincidence. If, however, it is word for word alarm bells should be ringing. No publisher should publish a manuscript that breaches copyright as they could possibly find themselves in court!

When Does Copyright Expire?

Generally, copyright lasts for seventy years after the death of the creator.

In many cases the rights to books, artwork, songs and other works may have been purchase by another individual or company so copyright continues for much longer.

Never assume a work is out of copyright. You need to be 100% sure before using anything that may be considered an infringement.

What About Book Titles?

Titles are not copyright yet you must be careful as using a title of a highly successful book may be seen as a breach of copyright.

For example, say a book is published with the title ‘Cats’ and, as an editor, you are working on a manuscript with the same title. ‘Cats’ is a word and anyone can use it, but it may be worth mentioning this to the author due to the possibility of future confusion.

Having said that, if the manuscript has the title ‘The Da Vinci Code’ then the publisher would be taking a huge risk and would be wise to suggest the author change the name as the title is synonymous with the successful book and to try and reuse it would be unthinkable. Something related to the title would be much better.

Trademarks

Never use a trademarked name and then defame the owner of it. However, it’s fine to refer to the trademarked product in general.

Example: Jenny took her parents to Gloria Jeans for coffee.

There are two types of trademarks: ™ and ®

™ means registration of the trademark is pending. This can often take months, sometimes years.

® means registration has been approved.

It is illegal to use ® unless approval has been granted.

Writing Course: Fact to Fiction

Before I get started with the course notes, I have to say that this unit is proving to be extremely difficult. Today, I spent two hours attempting to answer vocabulary questions that left me feeling … well, ‘stupid’ is the word that comes to mind. My score left little to be desired and an ‘oh dear’ taste in my mouth. Not good. My notes, however, do not reflect this part of the unit. Really, if you’re having difficulty writing short stories you should consider doing a course as it’s not the same as reading someone else’s notes, it’s far better!

Fact to Fiction

Fiction is fact and imagination put together. You’ll be amazed by how many ideas for your stories come from what you’ve experienced and what you observe happening to other people.

There are two types of short fiction – literary and genre. Genre fiction has its own conventions and rules so we’ll look at literary fiction first. When you know the basics, then you can move on to genre fiction.

Ideas

Ideas come from everywhere, everyone and every situation. Yet still people have trouble coming up with ideas. Perhaps the simplest way to start fiction is to start with an anecdote.

Example: One day, after work, you are running late and have to run to the station, but it’s raining and slippery so you fall over, flat on your face, but get up and just manage to get to the station on time.

An anecdote is straightforward, often uninteresting and nothing much happens. Next you must insert something interesting.

Example: One day, after work, you are running late and have to run to the station, but it’s raining and slippery so you fall over, flat on your face, knocking yourself out for a few seconds but when you stand up again you can’t remember who you are.

Now you have a situation, a problem. Now the character has to make a decision and the reader will wonder what the person will do. Now you have the beginning of a story.

Vocabulary

Words are the writer’s only tool. It is essential to learn to use words effectively as you cannot be there to explain what you mean to the reader.

Writers should be avid readers too. It’s also important to refer to a dictionary whenever you encounter a word that is unfamiliar to you.

Story Length

Stories can vary in length, but often the length will determine where it might be published.

Length What it Means
500 words a short, short story or flash fiction
1000 words a length specified by magazines or some competitions
2000 – 3000 words the average length for literary or mainstream markets
3000 – 5000 words a popular length for anthologies, some of the best short stories fall into this category
5000+ stories over 5,000 words can be difficult to place

Problem Solving

If you experience problems in your writing then read below as there may be a simple solution.

Starting a story – If you cannot seem to start a story, then start wherever you feel comfortable, even if it means writing the final scene first. It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start.

Showing not telling – This comes with experience. You will find scenes that can be better illustrated with dialogue or more descriptive words. Find beta readers to help flush out these pesky areas.

Continuing beyond the first paragraph – If you can’t seem to write beyond the first paragraph/page then you must learn to let go and simply keep writing. Don’t stop to fix errors, including typos, just write and write for a full 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much can be written in a short space of time.

Knowing when to let go – Striving to continue on with an idea that isn’t working for you is not recommended. Let it go and move on to the next idea, preferably one you feel passionate about.

Dialogue – If you feel you cannot write convincing dialogue, try writing a short story without it. It will mean you’ve finished a short story. It will also eliminate the problem area. Of course, you will have to master it eventually, so sit and observe groups of people as they talk. Write down their actions, facial expressions and other movements as you listen to their conversation. This will help you integrate all these things into your short stories.

Publishing Update

When Cat’s Eyes was published in December 2010, there was an indication at the back of the book that Cat’s Paw would be published three months later – in March 2011. It’s obvious that hasn’t happened. Why, you may be asking.

The printer used for Cat’s Eyes used to be quite good. The first time I used them, for Speculative Realms, the service was great. My lack of experience meant I had to seek help several times and I always received it within 24 hours, and the instructions were clear and concise. Two years later, when I was ready to publish Cat’s Eyes, I returned to them and noticed a definite change straight away. All indications showed a plummet in service level, to almost non-existent. There were so many bad stories going around and ignored pleas for help, that it made me wonder if I were doing the right thing using the company again. However, for various reasons, I decided to forge ahead and, luckily, do not have to add my name to the list of people who needed help and didn’t get it.

Yet, my gut tells me not to take such a risk again. And I’ve decided to listen to my gut as it usually (but not always) serves me well.

At the beginning of this year, I started looking for another printer. I would have preferred one in Australia but every quote I received (and there were a lot) was VERY expensive. In truth, not even close in comparison to the printer I had already been using. This made me feel a little concerned, but I chose to continue looking.

Then I discovered Lightning Source. I researched the company, what people were saying about them, their prices and whatever else I could find out about them and discovered a possible replacement. Their offices were overseas, which wasn’t a problem, but the one recurring comment I kept seeing was their postal fees were high. I decided to start an account with them so that I could do some comparative research, but I kept getting this niggling feeling about the whole thing, which made me hesitant. That’s when I discovered they would be setting up shop in Australia. At that point, I made the decision to put everything on hold.

Today I found out the Australian office is open for business. At the news, I went straight to Lightning Source and asked some questions. It’s the weekend, so I don’t expect a response until Monday but my gut is telling me to follow this through to the end. When the account is set up and the comparative research done, I’ll decide what I’m going to do next.

At this stage, I believe I might have a new printer in Australia, but let’s not count our horses too soon.

Writing Course: Elements of Short Story Writing (Part 2)

You might want to read Part 1 first.

Setting

A setting doesn’t need to specify a country, it can be confined to a town, house, room, car, park, tunnel or anywhere else. The setting needs to be there but doesn’t need to take on a role. However, some authors manage to make the setting as alive as their characters.

Setting, if used artistically, can help build your characters and strengthen the plot. Think about it, an untidy bedroom tells the reader a lot about your character.

Structure

An author must make decisions on how to structure a story. Where does the story start? Where does it end? How will the story be told?

Traditional story telling follows this pattern:

  • introduce a situation
  • the situation becomes complicated, there’s a confrontation
  • the complication/confrontation is resolved

 

Time Structure

Traditional stories move chronologically through the story from beginning to end. It is often necessary to remind the reader of facts that have already been revealed, or give them other information to help them understand what is happening. There are ways of arranging your story to help you do this.

Foreshadowing helps build suspense and prepare the reader for things that will happen later in the story. For example, if the loss of a pet is going to become an issue in the story it is better to show the relationship with the pet early in the story rather than when the loss occurs.

Flashback is when the character remembers something from their past that is important to the present. It is recommended that flashbacks be used sparingly in short stories under 3000 words in length.

Sequence of Events is a story told from beginning to end but this is not always affective. However, it’s the best way to ensure the reader does not become confused.

Details and Summary

When we tell stories in real life, we gloss over the uninteresting bits and dramatise the exciting bits. This is story manipulation and it’s something writers do when writing a story.

Pace is essential. Some parts of the story might race along while others are slower and more thoughtful. Pace is controlled by word choice, length of sentences and passage content. Pace helps make the story exciting.

Plot is easily recognised in some stories but quite obscure in others. Genre stories aim to keep the reader entertained, thrilled or terrified. The traditional plot is a series of events involving conflict, which lead to a climax and then a resolution. The best planned plot is built around a well developed character.

Some questions you might ask yourself once you have written the first draft are:

Whose story is it? Whom do you most care about? Why?
Is the character’s goal specific enough for the reader to care?
Are there obstacles stopping the character reaching the goal?
What is at stake? If nothing much then the reader will be bored.
Are the events linked? Is it clear the character is in the grip of fate or is the victim of someone or something?
Is the resolution obvious, predictable or inevitable? If so, have you got to this stage in a fresh way? Does the story encourage the reader to think?
Once you get to the climax, is the story quick to end?
Has every scene contributed to the whole and to the development of the character?

Narrative

Narrative is the section of the story that is not dialogue as well as the whole of the story’s text in terms of elemental construction.

A skilful writer will inject pace into the narrative and will not include unessential details.

Never try to ‘draw the story out’ in the mistaken notion that it creates suspense. It has the opposite effect on the reader who wants the story to ‘move on’. It is also important not to rely too heavily on ‘telling’ a story as the reader will feel important facts are being glossed over and the story becomes shallow.

Elemental Construction refers to the narrative elements within a story that structure it in a particular way. This includes the choice and balanced arrangement of the following:

Location: Why here and not there?
Time: When did or will it happen?
Narrator: Who should tell the story?
Characters: How many, who are they, and how do they interact?
Length: How long should the story be?
Style: What word arrangement will be most effective?
Type of Narrative: Plot or character driven? Present or past tense? Circular or linear in its telling?

Style

Writing is generally about two things — what you write and how you write.

Style is the name given to the manner in which a piece of writing is expressed and the quality of that expression.

Style is a complex topic but here are a few basic styles and their characteristics:

Clear, lucid – simplicity of word and sentence, orderly, coherent.

Strong, virile, vigorous, forceful – exotic or exalted nature, choice of less common words, elaborate sentences.

Graceful, elegant – careful selection of words, mastery of the meanings or words, felicitous expressions, artistic structure of sentences.

Vivacious, animated, racy – concrete and picturesque expressions, spirited flow of sentences, rapid progress in narration, judicious use of dialogue.

The classifications above are not rigid. There are many ways to describe style. For example, simple, curt, crisp, vivid, urbane, lofty, serious, conversational, rambling, strained, illogical, harmonious, consistent, bombastic, quaint, absurd, delicate, light, quirky, ornate, whimsical, sensory.

Poetic concepts are also used by some short story writers. They are devices to enhance style and include things like using words commencing with the same letter, which is called alliteration, or the resemblance of sound between two words, which is called assonance.

A Writer’s Style

Style is your literary fingerprint. It allows you to sound different to other writers. It can, if you manage to develop an individual style, become so well known that readers will not need you to include you name to know something has been written by you.

Writing Course: Elements of Short Story Writing (Part 1)

The elements of short story include:

  • characterisation
  • dialogue
  • point of view
  • setting
  • structure
  • narrative
  • style

 

Creating Believable Characters

Most mainstream short stories are ‘character driven’ rather than ‘plot driven’. For this reason, it is important for fiction writers to develop their characterisation skills.

The best place to start is by reading short stories written by other writers to see how they bring their characters alive on the page. Creating characters who feel ‘real’ to the reader takes skill. The time frame is brief in short stories and there is not enough space for lengthy physical and physiological descriptions. You must learn to develop a technique that builds the character without spending unnecessary time and words in doing so.

Exercise: Write two short pieces, about 100 words each, using first person. Offer different ‘points of view’ of the same person. For example, husband and wife, brother and sister, two friends. This exercise will show you how we perceive ourselves and how another might see us in a completely different light. This is a way of also showing the reader different aspects of your characters and will give your characters more depth.

Knowing Your Characters

You, the writer, need to know your characters extremely well. You need to know everything about them, even if you don’t use everything you know in your stories.

It is best to know what makes your characters do what they do and why they are motivated to act and react the way they do. This knowledge will reflect in your writing. Most serious writers tackle this in the planning stage, prior to writing a single word.

It is useful to complete a character profile for each major character. The information on the sheet may include the following, but feel free to add what you think is important and remove those that are not.

Character’s name
Age
Sex
Physical appearance
Education
Occupation
Marital status
Family
Diction, accent
Relationships
Hobbies
Obsessions
Religious beliefs
Political beliefs
Ambitions
Superstitions
Fears
Prejudices
Strengths
Weaknesses
Pets
Taste in books, music, film
Food likes/dislikes
Allergies
Talents

Remember: If you are writing a real person into your story, you would be wise to disguise the character to avoid libel action being taken against you.

Use of Dialogue

Dialogue is important. It must sound like ‘real’ speech but must not imitate everyday speech at all. The reason for this is that real conversations contains lots of pointless chatter and short stories cannot accommodate anything that does not move the story forward and strengthen the character.

In real life, everything is said. In fiction, everything is condensed.

During dialogue, characters confront each other. This confrontation is a sharing, it is a scene, an event. It is never ideal chatter!

Point of View

Who is telling the story? Whose eyes are we seeing through? This is the point of view. Then we need to decide if the story is best suited to first or third person, although there is also second person (what I tend to write in these posts), but second person is rarely used in short stories.

First Person Subjective Narration is when ‘I’ tells the story.

The advantages of first person is that the telling can be very intimate and brings the reader close to the character. The reader is usually drawn into the story immediately and can often see the irony of situations. They also get to explore the thoughts and feelings of the character, even when the character is wrong in their thinking. First person point of view suits a quirky style of writing.

The disadvantage are that the story can only ‘see’ and ‘hear’ what the character sees and hears. The author cannot show other pieces of information that the reader may need and the reader cannot know what’s in other characters minds except by use of observation and dialogue. For this reason, first person can be limiting. There is also the danger of the story turning into a long complaint, one of self-pity, which may lose the reader’s empathy.

Third Person Limited or Subjective is when ‘he’ or ‘she’ tells the story.

Using third person limited allows the writer to leave the sight of the character to report what’s happening elsewhere. Having said that, the writer is still constrained to the inner thoughts of one character.

The advantages are that the writer can step back a little, which can give more scope. And it is acceptable to do other scenes from the point of view of another character so that the reader understands how the plot is unfolding, even if the characters do not.

The disadvantages is that the reader is not as connected with the characters as with first person. It is also easier for the writer to go off track, and ramble on a bit, and the pace can be a little slower, which means the urgency can be lacking.

Sustained Point of View

It is important for a writer to sustain the point of view they select when they start writing. If not, you will only confuse or distract the reader and that will cause a real danger of losing them. And that may damage your reputation as they may never read your work again.

Go straight to Part 2.