Blog Entries
Go Forth and Meme
Category: Writing
Tags: memes marketing

So what’s a meme? Although they’ve been around for a few years and I’d noticed them, I only discovered what they were called last month. Basically, memes are images combined with short captions. Videos and animated gifs can be included but let’s just stick to static images for this post. Often they are funny or ironic. You could say they are online posters to entertain net surfers (remember the paper ones that used to be pasted to walls and billboards?). And, if they are done well, they will resonate with the reader and stay in his memory.    

     Since this blog concentrates on topics of interest to writers, why have I chosen to write about memes? The answer is that, although they may have started out to amuse and entertain, if used skillfully, they can also be a great marketing tool. It’s a fact of the modern writer’s life that it’s necessary to promote your work to find readers. Memes can be a form of online ‘word of mouth’ marketing to draw readers to a writer’s website and social media pages.

     Until a couple weeks ago, when I was reading some of the witty memes making the rounds on the internet, it never occurred to me that I could create them too. I’m not a technical whiz so I figured it would be beyond my capability. But the popularity of memes means that loads of free, easy to use websites have appeared which you can use to make your own. All you have to do is either choose an image from the website’s stock images or download one your own to get started. Next you write a caption on the form they provide then you are ready to preview your meme. If you like it, you can save and keep it. Or you can try again until you are satisfied with your creation. Sites where you can make memes include,, and  

     One of the most important things to remember when using memes you create to promote your author platform (whether you have a website, Facebook page, Pinterest page, Twitter account or any other social media presence) is that subtle is best and most effective. Creating and posting an image of your latest book with a ‘Buy Me’ caption on it, isn’t a meme – well, not one that many readers are likely to read and pass on to their friends. The trick is to create relevant memes that will entertain and intrigue – and possibly inspire – so that the reader wants to find out more about you and your writing, and will also pass on the meme so others will discover you too.

     The type of memes you decide to create will depend on the genre your books fall into. Since I write mainly historical fiction I often create memes using historic photographs with captions relevant to my genre or even quotes from my own stories. I also throw in the odd meme which features a recent photograph with a funny or catchy caption related to reading or writing.

     Now that I hope I’ve piqued your interest in memes, I’ll stop here. I’m afraid this post is only a very brief introduction to memes and how you might use them. If you’d like more detail, Karen Yu’s article is a good place to start:

     Then why not give it a try? Create memes your readers will enjoy – and will pass on and on. Go Forth and Meme.


This Week On Writers Abroad, 11th May
Category: Site News

As we gear up for our next anthology, we take this opportunity to wish Val all the best for the future in her life and her writing. She is leaving the group but, before she goes, will contribute a poem to the anthology.

Monday Muse – Vesna has given us a variety of prompts to get us thinking and writing: a list of objects and concepts to mix and match, several last lines, three themes and a selection of images.

Blog – Chris N has written Time and Tide, our blog entry this week.

Bragging Stool – Glyn placed second in the Poetry Pulse competition. Paola’s piece about her appearance, with Rilla, on Ittadi, a popular Bangladeshi television show, has been printed in the June issue of The Oldie.

Anthology: Submissions for the next anthology are open. We have begun to read the material received and vote on it, as well as getting to work on our own submissions.

Our next formal chat is on Sunday, 24th May.

Hope everyone has a productive writing week. Happy writing everyone!

Knowing Where I'm Going
Category: Writing
Tags: plot structure writing

I often lament about how long it takes me to get anything written during the short chunks of time I have available each day. Since my time is limited I need to make the best use I can of it. The one thing that I’ve found most helpful when I’m writing my first draft is to have the story plotted before I start writing. Then I have a map to keep me going in the direction I want to go.

I first thought about how important plotting was after reading How I Went From Writing 2000 Words A Day to 10,000 Words A Day by Rachel Aaron. The key point she came back to over and over was that you can’t increase your writing output in a productive way without knowing where your story should be going. The lesson was invaluable to me.

Once I had decided that I would outline my plots before I started to write I needed to know how I should structure these plots. I’ve read a few books, blog posts and other instructional materials on outlining a plot and ended up with too many choices. There’s the three act structure which consists of the set up, a conflict and a resolution to the problem and then there’s several plot structures that have varying numbers of points in the story arc. Most of these arcs include a set up, inciting incident, rising action, conflict and resolution. Often the theories are saying much the same thing but the whole thing does get a bit confusing.

The one that I find the easiest to remember and use is the Four Part Structure. It’s not radically different from any of the other theories – I just find it succinct and easy to grasp.

Below I’ve paraphrased the basics of’s explanation of the Four Part Structure:

The set up is exactly that. It sets up who the characters are and what the problem is.

The second part is the response. This is where the main character responds to the inciting incident in the first part of the story. Depending on the length of the story, there may be one or more attempts to solve the problem but the character isn’t successful and it’s not clear yet whether or not he will be.

The third part is the attack. The character finally figures out what needs to be done and attacks the problem in an effective manner. The problem still isn’t solved but the character is on the right track.

The fourth part is the resolution. The character finally accomplishes what he needs to do to solve the problem.

That’s just the basics of it. You can read the detailed explanation on Storyfix’s website.

What plot structure do you use? Or do you plot before you write?


Who's Online
Site News
Monday, October 12, 2015
Site news 12 October
Recent Blog Posts
Does Writing Have to be Done Alone?
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Recently I’ve started going to a writing group. Not a critique group, but a writing group. On the mailing list there are about twenty people,...Read More

Rules, Restrictions and Darn Right Spontaneous!
Posted by Crilly

George Bernard Shaw famously declared -

‘The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.’

We have rules to create boundaries by which we can live safely. A simple example is road rules. In Australia we drive on the left and as a  rule  most people adhere to that. (Imagine the carnage if we didn’t!)

It is compulsory to wear a helmet when riding a push-bike, swimming pools must be fenced and there has to be soft-fall on the ground in children’s playgrounds. These are just some of our many rules here in Australia.

If you are like me, you check your emails daily. Perhaps also, you find there are invariably some concerned with writing.

The types that say – ‘Avoid using this or it is better to do that.’

This got me thinking about how the myriad writing rules or suggestions affect spontaneity.

I wondered if for example, Charles Dickens worried about run-on sentences when he appeared to be more concerned with poverty and the lack of social welfare in Britain at the time.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..." from  A Tale of Two Cities

Equally, was Jane Austen anxious about adverbs and adjectives when writing about the delicate and sometimes risky economic situations the women of that era found themselves in? It seems she also got away with double negatives as shown below.

"She owned that, considering everything, she was not absolutely without inclination for the party." from  Emma 

When hunched over a small table and squinting by candlelight, were these great writers constrained by the so-called writing rules? It seems not.

On researching this, I found articles saying ‘Never open a story with the weather.’ Use patois sparingly. Avoid exclamation points and the old chestnut, ‘Show Don’t Tell’ can be found everywhere!

V.S. Naipaul recommends never write long sentences, a maximum of 10-12 words (sorry, Mr Naipaul, I failed you in this blog!)

Use the active voice unless specifically requiring the passive and don’t get me started on irregular past participles and those awful dangling modifiers! There are times when I’m convinced I slept through some English lessons at school or like taxation laws, have new rules have been introduced merely to confuse?

After writing that first draft do you go back to the beginning and alter this or delete that aware that unless you do, it may cost you the writing competition?  What if the judge is known to have a predilection about this or that, do you adjust your writing to better your chances?  

 Are there rules that really annoy and frustrate you and inhibit free-flowing, spontaneous writing?

Or in conclusion, do you ignore the rules and scribble darn right spontaneously?

Then again, maybe you think like G.K Chesterton did when he declared...

‘There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.


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