Posts by Jo Gatford

What To Do With A First Draft

  Whether you’ve just smashed NaNoWriMo in record time, or have been slogging out this novel for a decade, reaching the end of a first draft is a huge great…

WRITING EXERCISE: Endurance

To finish any writing project, endurance is the key ingredient. Endurance through the discovery of a first draft. Endurance through the repetitious slog of editing. Endurance through self doubt, imposter…

WRITING HACK: Harvesting Kids’ Ideas

Writing is theft. We steal mannerisms and snippets of dialogue and memories and life experiences all the time. It’s what we DO. And you know where the very richest seam…

WRITING EXERCISE: Walk it out

We’re going on a story hunt… It’s summertime. Forget about the housework. Slap on some suncream, stick on your stomping shoes and let’s get out of here. Today’s task is…

Get in the writing ZONE

Ahhh ‘the zone’. That mystical plane of existence in which the words flow and inspiration is channeled directly into our brains and we become mere vessels for unbounded creativity and…

WRITING EXERCISE: Location, location, location

The ability to transport yourself into a fictional location is pretty vital for a writer. But it ain’t easy. Describing imaginary places and spaces so a reader can vividly visualise…

Writing Lessons From Groundhog Day

Well hey there. Who’s ready for some tough talk about how setting yourself up for failure can be one of the most helpful approaches to writing? Yes! Failure! One of…

Deconstruct Your Summer Read

Hey. Watcha readin’ this summer? Something light and fluffy or something deep and meaningful or a mix of both? Something you’ve read a zillion times before? Something someone recommended to…

The Story Genius of Moana

If you’ve got (or have ever had) small children in the house, it’s likely you’ve watched and re-watched your fair share of animated movies, possibly to the point where you…

How to Write in 30 Second Bursts

No time, no motivation, no muse, no brain, no writing, blahhhhh mehhhh ughhhh etc. Fuck that. None of us have time. Motivation is self-propellant. The muse is a slippery bitch.…
writing exercise overheard voices

WRITING EXERCISE: Overheard Voices

Dialogue! One writer’s bane, another’s best friend. Some characters are naturally chatty while others find it hard to string a sentence together. And do they always say what they actually…

Pep & Prompt #8: Make A Book Cover

Today’s Pep & Prompt is ripped straight from our super productive (no, really) mini course: Seven Ideas in Seven Days! Have a bit of pep, do a lil’ prompt, then…
turn a day out into a story

Turn A Day Out Into A Story

This one goes out to all my parental homies wrangling ankle-biters and grouchy tweens and hyperactive screen-addicted little womb-fruits over the summer holidays (and, like every day). Chances are HIGH…
mindful writing

Mindful Writing (without the wafty bits)

Let’s start with a little disclaimer, shall we? Although we all love a bit of yoga and nature and witchiness at WHQ, we’re not exactly the most mindful bunch. We’re…

Pep & Prompt #7: Switch the POV

A brief pep, a brief prompt, then come and chat to us on our community forums for feedback and chat. Howsabout a little light psychology to fuel your writing brain…

WHQ Flash Quarterly Round 2: THE WINNERS!

  Holy flapping melonballs. It’s time to reveal the TOP THREE stories in Round 2 of our Flash Quarterly contest. The WHQ judges have deliberated and conferred and got all…

Pep & Prompt #5: What’s the point?

A brief pep, a brief prompt, then come and chat to us on our community forums for feedback and chat. Another rejection came rolling into my inbox this morning. <le…

Break Through the (Writing) Blockage

Frustrated af with your writing? Stuck? Hit a wall? Feeling totally meh about the whole thing? Looking for a way out of the world of sticky writing blockages? (ew) Ok, how’s…
characterisation tropes

WRITING EXERCISE: Let’s get subversive

Okay, let’s be honest. We’ve all started writing a character only to realise that we’ve inadvertently borrowed traits from well-known, well-worn stereotypes or tropes. In most cases, it’s down to…

Get Excited About Your Writing Again

Look, we get it. This writing thing can be exhausting, right? Forging through a first draft can often feel a bit like wading through treacle. Editing the living heck out…
writing exercise no regrets

WRITING EXERCISE: No regerts

<LE SIGH> Where does the time go? All those things you planned on doing (like writing your novel – natch), all those things you wish you’d appreciated, all those things…

WHQ Flash Quarterly Round 1: THE WINNERS!

… DRUMROLL PLEASE… The time has come to reveal the TOP THREE in Round 1 of our Flash Quarterly contest. The WHQ inner sanctum is finally in agreement. And we…

WHQ Flash Quarterly Round 1: THE SHORTLIST!

  It’s time. <heavy breathing> Round 1 of our Flash Quarterly competition is over. We’ve read and re-read and re-re-read over 400 entries from almost as many writers. We have…
writing exercise start at the end

WRITING EXERCISE: Start at the end

Here’s a quick ‘n’ dirty game to spark off a brand new story idea: 1) Grab a novel from your bookshelf 2) Flip to the very last page 3) Copy…

Writing Competitions & Opportunities – March 2019

Hark, what spring-like sunshine through yonder window breaks? Quick, before the climate apocalypse descends, write something worth publishing and send it out into the world! Join us in our #Submit2019…

Storycraft #5: Sowing Story Seeds

You know when you read an amaaaazing novel and you think: “Gosh, that’s so clever the way the author interweaved all those little clues and hints together, dropping breadcrumbs all the…

Storycraft #3: The Magic Of Scene Summaries

  Saddle up, novelleers, ’cause today we’re gonna talk about how to make the whole ‘writing 70,000+ words of coherent narrative thang‘ feel a leeetle bit less like conquering Everest…

From LGBTQ+ With Love: THE WINNERS!

Drumroll please… After much deliberation, much love, and much excited squeeing, we have in our hands the winning stories from our Fight Back Flash Competition… Gird your goshdarn loins –…
writing prompt

WRITING EXERCISE: Forbidden words

  For today’s exercise, writing is hereby FORBIDDEN. Wait, what? Only kidding. But what would you do if fiction was illegal? What would you do if you were no longer allowed to…

From LGBTQ+ With Love: THE SHORTLIST!

You guys. We have a shortlist. Ten amazing LGBTQ+ stories, chosen by our illustrious judges Kirsty Logan and Paul McVeigh, from which the final 4 will be hand-plucked verrrrry soon……

Storycraft #4: Suplots Ahoy

Wait a second… Dealing with the main plot is a big enough pain in the arse, and now we have to worry about subplots, too?! Uh huh, pull up your…

From LGBTQ+ With Love – THE LONGLIST!

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you to all the writers who submitted to our LGBTQ+ Fight Back Flash Competition. We had over 300 entries, raised £277.37 for MindOut,…

Storycraft #2: Narrative Voice

No matter how good your premise, how twisty your plot, how loveable your characters, if you don’t nail that narrative voice, you won’t do your story justice. You know when…
writing exercise

WRITING EXERCISE: On The First Day

Saddle up, peeplets, it’s time for a fresh start. Here’s a quick ‘n’ easy writing exercise to spark off some new ideas. It’s about as simple as you can get…

How Not To Write A Novel #2

Uggghhh so it turns out writing a novel is, like, super freakin’ hard? And, like, you actually spend a massive proportion of your writing time, like, NOT writing? Right? Well,…

10 Ways to Write Like a Kid

Over the last five years we’ve run hundreds of writing workshops for both adults and kids. The adult ones tend to be a lot more sweary and the kids’ ones…

Shiny Thing Syndrome: A Writer’s Malady

In the spirit of our ‘Beginnings‘ series, Jo Gatford tackles an all-too-familiar complaint of the garden-variety writer – when the grass is always greener… We’re here today to talk about…

How To Cope With Rejection

In the latest instalment of our Fear & Failure series, here’s a little treatise on REJECTION and how ‘no’ does NOT mean ‘you’re a terrible writer, you might as well…

100 Submissions in 2018

To celebrate our Fear & Failure series, let’s all make a great big commitment to REJECTION and make story submission a weekly habit…  What’s this? What’s this? YOU WANT US…

The 7 Stages of Literary Submission

Stage 1: Nausea Clamp your lips tight, clench your buttocks, and click the ‘send’ button while your stomach tries to escape through your throat and your guts play Cat’s Cradle.…

Editing a novel: What the frick is a zero draft?

First things first: if you’re here because you’ve finished your first draft and are venturing into the big bad world of editing… HUGE FUCKING CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU! No really, take a…

WRITING EXERCISE: Increments of a Story

Where do story ideas come from? And how do you grab hold of those raw ideas and turn them into something more.. story-ish? How come some people are able to…

Beware the overused novel opening…

If you’ve already read our blog on How to Write a Kickass Opening Chapter then you’ll know it should be full of intrigue and engaging characters and conflict and all…
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