5 Tips To Becoming A Better Writer

So we know we have a lot of book fans out there, but we also have a lot of you who love writing yourself! So for all you aspiring authors, journalists, poets and everyone else, here are our top 5 favourite tips for becoming a better writer.

1. Read
How can you expect to be any good at something if you don’t understand the craft? You need to be able to understand what other people are doing right and wrong. You need to expand your vocabulary. You need something to inspire you.

Ok, you don’t actually need these things, but they can be a big help!

And don’t just feel like you have to stick to the big, fancy authors. Nabakov and Tolstoy can only teach you so much. Sometimes you have to read 50 Shades and Twilight, even if it’s only to get an understanding of why you might not want to write like that. Read everything and understand the different styles and tones; read crime, read romance, read non-fiction, read newspapers, read blogs, read magazines, even read the back of your packet of biscuits.

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2. Make it a Habit
Get into the habit of writing. Make it something you do every day or every week. Of course, it should be something you enjoy, but even when you’re going through a rough patch (everyone gets writer’s block!), don’t be afraid to make yourself sit down during your self-scheduled time and write when you said you would, even if it’s just to get through this horrible part.

3. Be Proud of Yourself
Writing is hard so give yourself a break. You wrote another page? Another sentence? Another word? You’re AWESOME! Go you!

Sometimes the hardest part is starting and putting any words down in the first place, so when you do, don’t forget to give yourself a little pat on the back, treat yourself to another biscuit, have a cup of tea, give yourself a sticker – whatever it takes to acknowledge the fact that you’re making progress and you’re doing great!

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4. Read it Outloud
This is my favourite bit of advice. I do something similar with anything I create. I feel a bit of distance from your work can really help you see it. When I take a photo, I step back to the other side of the room and look at it from a distance. When I do a painting, I hold it up to the mirror and look at it from a different angle. And when I write anything, whether it’s a blog post, an essay for uni or a short story, I read it out loud to myself.

By reading it aloud you make it so much more real than just a bundle of words on a page. It’s a bit like hearing it for the first time; you hear it as your reader will. You start to notice the rhythms of the text, any rhymes (if it’s poetry), you noticed when a word or phrase just isn’t working and you start to pick up on little flaws – Is that really something this character would say? Does that metaphor actually sound a little bit silly?

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5. Edit. Edit. Edit.
So you’ve put down all these words on the page and you’re feeling incredible. Thousands and thousands of words all written by you! That’s a lot of biscuits you’ve given yourself along the way, you’re shaking from caffeine and you can barely see your t-shirt for stickers. You’ve done this, so why would you want to go and start deleting bits of it?

To make it the best it can be.

You’ve done all this work, you’ve put so much time into it, why not make it even more awesome? Why settle for something pretty good, when you could make it AMAZING?

Editing over and over will improve your work so much! Get someone you trust to read your work and be as critical as possible. Learn to identify your mistakes and how to correct them. Don’t be afraid to delete. Get rid of everything that isn’t essential and just keep the best of the best!

What To Read After Divergent

Read Next

Why You Need To Read Divergent

Divergent

Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is HUGE at the moment with the second film, Insurgent, having been released this week. Divergent is easily one of my favourite YA dystopian series’ out there at the minute, from the minute I started the first book I couldn’t put it down and had read the entire series in just over a week (because who needs a degree when you have a good book, right?!).

The Divergent series is set in the future during a time where society has been split into 5 factions – people are divided according to their dominant personalities traits and each faction is dedicated to cultivating a specific virtue. There’s Abnegation who always put others first, acting selflessly, Dauntless who are brave and fearless, Erudite who are focused on knowledge and discovery, Amity who are all about peace and harmony and finally, Candor, who value the truth and honesty. It’s easy to see how they all seem work together to make society work; Dauntless of course taking control of defence, Abnegation running public services, Condor controlling the justice system and so on.

This is obviously an idealised view and not everyone can make it into their chosen faction, these people become the factionless and live on the outskirts of society. However, as the series’ narrator Tris discovers, there’s another type of person – those who are Divergent who show traits which could allow them to fit into more than one faction.

As Tris makes some tough decisions, including leaving her family behind to join a new factions, she discovers growing conflict in society and begins to uncover secrets that have been kept hidden for years…

DIVERGENT (2014)

Like I mentioned, the Divergent series is completely addictive! Veronica Roth manages to create a completely believable society which may seem ideal on the surface, but in true dystopian style, hides some dark secrets where everything may not be as it seems. While the fantasy aspect of the series is enthralling – trains which never stop, zip wires from the top of skyscrapers, being taught to fight for your life at sixteen and of course, falling in love, it also deals with the types of issues that all sixteen year olds face; bullying, relationships, family disputes.

Perhaps the biggest issue the book brings up is the fact that at sixteen years old these kids have to make a choice of which faction to join which will influence their entire future and once they decide there’s no going back. This might seem a little extreme but it echoes the choices that young people have to face today at sixteen, at least here in the UK, you have to decide whether you want to stay in education or get a job and in each case what you want to do is probably going to influence what career you have for the rest of your life. I still look back and wonder how different my life would have been if I’d bothered to listen to all the people trying to tell me what to do. In the book Tris feels there’s this expectation, especially from her parents, to join Abnegation, while she decides to follow her heart and choose Dauntless. I had pressure from teachers and family to pick A Levels like French and Maths and Geography. In the end I decided to ignore them and picked subjects I was really interested in even though I had no idea how they’d impact my future.

Tris debated with herself for a long time whether she wanted to join Dauntless, these were completely different people to who she’d grown up with, would she fit in? Would she be able to keep up? If she failed to get into Dauntless would she end up factionless? Similarly, I debated with myself for a long time about whether to pick Media Studies as my fourth A Level – so many people were telling me how good universities wouldn’t like it and how it was a waste of time. I’d been told my entire academic career that I was such a good student who excelled in maths and the sciences but my heart was never in them despite the above average grades. So I decided to go in a completely different direction to what everyone expected and I studied media.

Insuregent

When Tris chose Dauntless she struggled to fit in at first but in the end her passion and hard work paid off, without giving too much away, she really excels. I used these two years I studied media to develop my photography and graphic design skills, I tried my hand at film making and learnt all about web design. Like Tris, I didn’t get on so well with everyone in my class, I felt very different to them and had a very different academic background – a lot of them took it for an easy pass, I took it because I wanted to create something and get away from the dull ‘remember and repeat these facts’ aspect of the sciences. Just like Tris I found my passion and if I hadn’t followed my heart and studied that I probably wouldn’t be here now doing a job I love! Plus, I ended up with one of the highest media studies marks in the country so all my worries about universities not accepting it were silly and I got into the uni of my dreams just like Tris got into Dauntless.

While most of you reading this post probably don’t care about my life, my point here is that I wish I’d had these books to read when I was 16 to take away all those uncertainties I had. Having to make these huge decisions which are going to impact your life when you’re so young can be terrifying but ultimately it teaches you to follow your heart and be passionate about everything you do and that way you can live up to your potential.

All that mushy stuff aside, if you’re not into that whole ‘life changing decisions’ aspect there’s also plenty of awesome action with fights and battle sequences, heartbreaking moments (I swear I didn’t cry at all… well, not much) and a romantic love story (and thankfully it’s not just another awkward love triangle!).

Check out the Divergent Books on AwesomeBooks.com now.

ARTICLE BY: RACHEL OATES

King James Bible from 1613

We love it when we find a rare old book here at AwesomeBooks and few have been more exciting that this! It’s among the first King James Bibles ever published.

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Back in 164 King James commissioned 47 scholars who were members of the Church of England to come up with another English translation of the Bible. It took 7 years and the first King James Bible was published in 1611 by Robert Barker, the King’s Printer. Our copy was published just 2 years later, also by Robert Barker.

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We’ve Found Another Rare Book!

Our lovely R&A department do work hard and they’re always finding loads of great old, rare and antique books which we sell through ebay here. This last week they’ve been lucky enough to find one of the best books we’ve ever had – it’s very old, very rare and has an incredible history!

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It might not look much from the outside but this this gem was published in 1758 by the Vatican.

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It contains a list of all books they banned along with some pretty fantastic illustrations.

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The cover is vellum which is made from Calf skin and has aged incredibly well for a book that’s over 250 years old!

Our Favourite Book Covers of 2014

2014 was a fantastic year for us book lovers – not only were some incredible books released but there were tonnes that also looked great! Here we’ve made a compilation of our favourite book covers of the year.


Missed your favourite? Let us know what it was in the comments!

Article by: rachel oates

How To Read More in 2015

1. Don’t Just Read. Make it a social activity instead.

Discuss the books you read with friends, recommend books to each other, tell each other when you’ve just finished a book. It’ll  motivate you to read more and you’ll enjoy it more because you’re not just reading but you’ll start to think about what you’ve read, develop your tastes so you’ll know how to pick books you’ll enjoy again in the future.

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2. Skip What Doesn’t Make You Happy.

Not enjoying a book? Don’t feel you have to keep pushing through it. You’re much better off just putting it aside and starting something else. You can always come back to it later if you feel like it, or not – it’s completely up to you, but there’s no point wasting time on a book you’re not enjoying or not getting anything out of!

3. Always Carry A Book.

Yeah everyone says this but it really does work! I read on the bus, I read on my lunch breaks, I read when my computer’s decided to freeze and I need something to calm me down while I worry about having lost the last half hour’s worth of work… Whenever I get some spare time when I’d otherwise be doing nothing, when I’m in the mood, I just pull out a book and have a read – you’d be surprised how quickly you can get through a book this way!

Plus, with e-books and apps on your phone or tablet for reading them, there’s literally no excuse you could carry an entire library around in your pocket if you wanted to!

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4. Always Have A Back-up. 

If you know you’re nearing the end of your book, have at least one waiting for you to read next. There’s nothing worse than finishing a book and being in the mood to read even more then just having to sit there without anything for a few days until you can get to the shop and buy another…

5. Keep Track…

I always find I’m much more motivated to do anything when I can see the progress I’v already made. That’s why I started keeping a reading journal so I can keep track of everything I read. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and means I know how close I am to the reading goals I set myself each year!

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ARTICLE BY: RACHEL OATES

Our Top 10 Christmas Songs

It’s that time of year again when the radio and music channels are playing non-stop Christmas songs! And as much as much as some people moan about them, we know everyone loves them really!

For me personally, the best Christmas songs are catchy, happy and just give you that warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling which are the criteria I used for putting together this list of my favourite Christmas songs!

1) All I Wonderful Christmas Is You – Summer Camp

A bit of an alternative one to kick off the list but anyone who knows me will know I adore Summer Camp – they are fantastic and they’ve done a couple of great Christmas covers over the years, however this has to be my favourite! It’s an acoustic mash-up of All I Want For Christmas Is You and Wonderful Christmas Time and it’s brilliant. Even if you’ve never heard of Summer Camp before, give this a listen.

2) All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

I figured while we were talking about a similar song it’d be a good time to add this into the list – it’s the one Christmas song you can guarantee everybody knows all the words to, which every girl will admit to singing along to drunkenly (or not-so-drunkely) at some point in her life.

3) Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande

A new one for this year but it’s looking like it could be a classic. It’s catchy and fun and makes you want to embarrassingly bad dancing in a bright Christmas jumper! People are comparing it to Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas… for reasons which are obvious when you listen to it, but undoubtedly it’s a great fun song which is nice and Christmasy!

4) My Only Wish – Britney Spears

I also figured I’d get all the super-girly pop songs out of the way first but I promise this is the last! I’m not sure this is one of the most well-known here in the UK, but it’s definitely another catchy and fun little Christmas song!

5) Step Into Christmas – Elton John

Ok let’s get go back to another classic with Step Into Christmas – this song always takes me back to Christmas parties at my junior school when this would always be played and everything just felt like Christmas.

6) Christmas Time – The Darkness

One that wasn’t played so much at my junior school…. but one that I still love is The Darkness’ Christmas Time – it’s a seriously fun little Christmas that doesn’t take itself seriously at all and it’s fantastic. If you don’t like this you clearly have no Christmas spirit!

7) Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Ok I lied, I’m throwing another slightly girly track but I think this one is necessary. Now I’m ashamed to say I didn’t actually discover this song until last year but when I did, I fell in love with it. That chorus is crazy catchy and the song itself tells a pretty cute story, as a cute Christmas song should!

8) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Michael Bublé

Another fantastic song which is a classic, however I chose Michael Bublé’s version because I think he does a really great job of bringing the track up to date and, of course, he has an incredible voice!

9) Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade

This is another song that reminds me of being back at school – a bunch of the teachers, including my incredible physics teacher Mr Brain, used to form a band and perform in the ‘Christmas Concert’ for us every year. Mostly they played cheesy stuff and it should have been really cringy, however, you could see how much fun they were having and their covers of Merry Xmas Everybody and Breakfast at Tiffany’s always used to be fantastic!

10) Fairytale of New York – The Pogues

Another classic Christmas song which I think most people would include in their top 10 lists. I don’t really need to say much about this, just go listen to the awesomeness:

What do you think of this list? Of course there are so many more I could have included and so many more I wanted to include, so let us know your favourite Christmas songs in the comments!

Until then, check out our collection of Christmas albums.

 

ARTICLE BY: RACHEL OATES

Winner of our Halloween Competition

We had some incredible entries for our Halloween competition this year – we asked you to share your spooky Halloween costumes with us to be in with a chance to win a bundle of 13 books and t-shirts!

It was such a difficult decision to pick a winner because there were so many we loved, so we did have to pick a winner at random, however here are a few of our favourites:

‏@toxicitygirl

‏@toxicitygirl

‏@Craigybabydavis

‏@Craigybabydavis

@JS0600

@JS0600

‏@grinnerlynn

‏@grinnerlynn

‏@jumpybilly

‏@jumpybilly

@Catherine212

@Catherine212

‏@xtracutekitty

‏@xtracutekitty

‏@Harpyimages

‏@Harpyimages

And our winner from @Luckyladyhaz…

08 Jade Hazard ‏@Luckyladyhaz