Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Perhaps you have heard of this. It's a contest for bad writing! Edward George Bulwer-Lytton wrote a famous sentence in his novel Paul Clifford. Here is the sentence:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

The first phrase of this sentence is the one with which Snoopy, of "Peanuts" fame, starts his famous novel.

Every year a contest is held to find a writer who can write a bad opening to a novel, and this website describes the contest and has links to some of the winners and to news articles about the contest.

Read it for fun, and perhaps you will be inspired to enter the contest yourself!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

From the Archives: Questions about Copyright?

Copyright issues can be complicated. Where can you find information to help you out? Here are three links with varying degrees of information and explanation.

United States Copyright Office

The Publishing Law Center

Copyright Website

You're bound to find answers to your questions at one of these sites.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Search for Writing Ideas

There are several things you can do to help you get ideas of what to write about and what types of writing you want to try your hand at. One thing is to think about what you enjoy reading--novels? short stories? essays? poetry? Do you like mysteries? Nature writing? Biographies? History? This alone will give you an idea of what you would most enjoy working on and would be a great place to start. If you enjoy reading mystery novels, try your hand at writing one. If you enjoy nature poetry or history essays, try writing those.

Another idea starter is to read brief blurbs about what a movie or book is about--Amazon is a good place to start. Sometimes those little blurbs can sound quite intriguing and give you an idea for a novel, poem, or essay. It won't be at all like the book or movie the blurb was for because you'll give it your own twist and write it the way you would like to see it written.

Still another place for harvesting ideas is in the literature of other countries. Google Japanese literature or Spanish literature or whatever country or region strikes your fancy. Read a little literary history to see what they wrote about. Mix and match with other ideas you've come across. How about a Spanish mystery novel or a Japanese nature essay?

News stories can give you ideas, too. Do you see a mention of a country that sounds interesting? How about a profession? It doesn't necessarily have to be the main topic of the news story--it can be a brief mention of a small detail in the story that makes you curious.

Just some things to think about as you search for writing ideas.