Posts Tagged Dropbox

Short Story Writing Tips & a Launch!

I’ve been busy with the feather duster in my Dropbox repository and have rediscovered several of my favourite short stories that missed their target. These are the stories which didn’t land on the right editor’s desk at the right time or failed to catch the imagination of a competition judge.

Short Story Writing TipsThis exercise made me think about two things: What are the best tips or rules for short story writing? And how can I best utilize these short story ‘misses’ in this age of recycling and ‘waste not want not’?

Here are the five top short story writing tips I came up with:
1. Have only a few characters. Any more than three or four makes it difficult for the reader to get to know them in a short space of time. Make sure all their names begin with a different letter – this makes it easier for the reader to differentiate between them. Don’t give names to ‘walk-on’ characters such as the postman or policeman – this will only add to any confusion in the reader’s mind.
2. Be clear whose story it is i.e., from which character’s point of view are you telling the story. That person should have the most to gain/lose from the action. Ensure the reader becomes emotionally invested in that person.
3. Have the action take place in a short timescale. Focusing on a single moment in time works best because the story is ‘immediate’. Avoid a long buildup of backstory. If back story is essential, drop it concisely alongside the action.
4. Conflict should be at the centre of the story. The main character should be facing a dilemma or decision of some kind. This character should solve the dilemma himself rather than have it sorted out by someone else, coincidence or fate.
5. Edit! Give the story more impact by removing words like ‘very’ and ‘just’. Replace adverbs with more specific verbs, for example ‘run fast’ becomes ‘sprint’. Combine characters, for example does the heroine need two friends or will one work just as well and make the story neater?

And what’s happening to those short story ‘misses’? They are now getting their fifteen minutes of fame in Hit or Miss? 33 Coffee Break Stories. womens short storiesI’ve mixed the stories up with others that DID land on the right editor’s or judge’s desk at the right time, and I challenge YOU to decide which were hits and which missed their target.

Hit or Miss? 33 Coffee Break Stories is now available on Kindle, in paperback from Amazon and on Kobo.

It would be lovely to get the comments started on the book’s Amazon/Kobo Review pages to indicate whether or not you agreed with those editors and judges.

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Cloud Backup or External Hard Drive?

Over the last couple of weeks the computer gremlins have invaded our household, throwing up the ‘blue screen of death

Clouds over Tahoe HDR #1

Image by Bill Strong via Flickr

on the desktop PC and various funnies/frozen screens on my daughters’ laptops. This made me nervous and I decided we needed to have a proper back up copy of everything. I’ve mentioned the importance of regular backups before on this blog (see here) but I’ve still been bumbling along with a memory stick for documents and the occasional backup of photos to CD when we remember to do it.

So off we went to buy an external hard drive. But the nice man in the shop talked us out of it and into buying a Cloud back up instead.  This would mean we could access our data from any PC, it would be equivalent to an ‘off-site’ backup and my elder daughter wouldn’t have to cart yet another bit of kit off to university with her. It seemed a great idea so we bought it and set it to save everything that was on my elder daughter’s laptop – music, photos, university work etc.

It took hours and hours and hours and sent us way over our internet usage allowance (I suppose if I’d thought about it I would have realised this would be the case). Then we had trouble trying to determine whether the scheduled hourly scan & save for changed documents was actually happening. I tried phoning the Cloud support line but a machine told me all queries must be logged via the website.

We concluded the Cloud was a bad idea and went back to the original, external drive idea for the other PCs. It was so much easier! A few ‘copy and pastes’ and everything was saved and we could easily see it was there.

I’ve previously used the limited free cloud storage provided by Dropbox (and recommended by Simon Whaley) for some of my documents and will carry on using it. But it seems to me that if you have large amounts of pictures or music then an external hard drive is the better choice (especially since they don’t tend to change very often and it’s easy to remember to back them up each time you download a new bunch of photos or an album).

Does anyone else have experience of Cloud backup – am I the only one that struggled with it?


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