I hated the idea of a Kindle – it seemed like being unfaithful to books. My mum offered to buy me one for my birthday a few years back and I decline (politely, of course). Besides, I wasn’t really reading enough books to warrant it.

Then, last birthday, my parents gave me some money and I decided to buy myself a Kindle. Not because I wanted to read books on it, but because I was helping lots of other people to publish their books on Kindle and I thought I should probably see what their e-books looked like in real life.

After a lot of research, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite. 

Lots of e-readers do internet browsing and fancy stuff, but I wanted something that concentrated on books and nothing else.

Here it is, in its lovely custard coloured, Amazon jacket (which you have to buy separately – of course!).


Having been fairly late to the e-reader party, I finally realised the full benefits of it and I will tell anyone who’ll listen (and those who won’t), that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my Kindle for three very good reasons. 


As a busy home-educating mum with kids who need delivering to stimulating activities many times a day, I cannot understand how I lived without my ‘little yellow library’ before. Standing on the windy seafront outside Sea Cadets, in the cramped sweaty lobby of the karate dojo, trying to be quiet whilst perched on the piano teacher’s sofa, or (currently) queuing outside the supermarket for my ‘pandemic essentials’, I can grab my novel of choice and get reading in an instant. 

I can even read my books in the bath without the pages getting soggy (it’s waterproof – apparently), and in bed without having the light on, because it has clever back-lights hidden somewhere under the screen that don’t disturb anyone else who you might be sharing your bed with (get your mind out of the gutter – I’m thinking; husband/partner and the inevitable, sleepless toddler).

From an author’s perspective, having access to cheap and often free books by a wide selection of authors – including self-published ones is an invaluable learning tool – I always recommend on my writing courses that writers read a lot to learn how other authors approach things like dialogue, tension, drama and description, etc…

I have honestly never read so many books before.


I love that you can send Microsoft Word documents, RTF and PDF files to your Kindle to read ‘on the go’ (and this may well be true of other e-readers too). I frequently send novels that I am asked to edit to my Kindle for a first read-through, which means that I can get it done wherever I happen to be (my Kindle goes everywhere with me, unlike my laptop). I will also send the latest chapters of my own WIP (work in progress) to read through.

This is done by sending your document as an attachment to the unique @kindle address assigned to every Kindle owner.


You can find your @kindle email address in your Amazon account under MANAGE YOUR CONTENT AND DEVICES, select PREFERENCES from the top bar, then click on PERSONAL DOCUMENT PREFERENCES and it will be listed below Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings.


If the previous two points haven’t been enough to convert you to ebooks, then perhaps the ecological benefit of not printing so many novels should be enough to persuade you, as a writer, to use a Kindle (or other e-reader) and promote e-books over paperbacks.

I specifically mention novels, rather than books in general, because not all books work so well in digital format. 

There is, of course the added benefit that the royalties are usually higher for the e-book version than the paperback, so it is a win for you and the environment. 

I recently took my Kindle with me to a talk at a writer’s group where most of the audience were decidedly senior and had never considered an e-reader. 

When I explained how it worked and showed them some books on mine,  there was a general realisation that the lightness and portability would probably encourage many of them to get one.

I will continue to ‘harp on’ about the ecological benefits of digital books, because I truly do believe that it is something authors can proactively do, in their own little way, to help reduce our cost to this planet.

Preaching over. 


Are you a Kindle convert? Have my arguments won you over?  Let me know.



A story has five elements: Setting, Protagonist, Goal, Obstacles and Resolution. 

If you miss any one of these elements, you will not have a complete, or satisfying story to tell. They are the ‘bare bones’ of any story and if you had to ‘pitch’ your story idea to someone in just a single paragraph, these elements would succinctly tell them what your story is about.

For example, my teen novel FREEN: The First Truth is set in (setting) Eastbourne and is the story of fourteen-year-old (protagonist) Gem, who discovers that her necklace is the key to an ancient secret. She and her friends (goal) want to reveal the truth to the world, however, (obstacle) Government agents are after them and they must (resolution) decide if the truth is worth telling.

SETTING (time period and/or location) – is the story set in a specific or recognisable time period, geographical location or other world? This should be clear and will affect the direction, style of writing and possibly, the word-count.

PROTAGONIST (the main character) every story needs a main character, i.e. the character whose point of view (PoV) is most prevalent and that your readers can become emotionally invested in.

GOAL – What is your protagonist trying to do? They need a goal, a wish, a desire or a need that makes the ‘story’. This could be; escaping from a bad relationship, finding a lost treasure, discovering their true identity or, even simply getting through year five at school – but that goal should be clear because the reader needs to be rooting for them to succeed.

OBSTACLES (or events)Who or what is stopping, or making it difficult for the protagonist to achieve their goal? Obstacles can come from a single or multiple sources and can even be some aspect of the protagonists’ character that becomes the obstacle. Without an obstacle, a story would not be much of a story.

The RESOLUTION – How does your protagonist achieve their goal, despite the obstacles? Perhaps they don’t achieve their goal but, the resolution is their acceptance of this fact.

Exercise 1

Pretty much every story can be summarised using the ‘five finger pitch’.

Test this theory out: consider a few books and/or films you have recently read or watched and see if you can identify your own answers to the following questions (in bold). Remember to think about the overall picture, rather than the specific details:


Film/Novel title: ET (science fiction film by Steven Spielberg)

Setting: Suburban California

Protagonist: the story is from the point of view of Elliot, the young boy who finds the alien.

Goal: Elliot is trying to get the alien (ET) back home

Obstacles: The government agencies who want to capture the alien

Satisfactory resolution: ET goes home



Children’s stories still have all the same five key elements, but without the complexity that an adult story/novel might have. 

Novel title: Mog, The forgetful Cat (a children’s story by the much loved Judith Kerr)

Setting: Mog lives with Mr and Mrs Thomas and their children in an ordinary house England.

Protagonist: Mog The Forgetful Cat

Goal: For everyone to love and appreciate her.

Obstacles: Mog is forgetful, and that gets her into all sorts of trouble with her owners.

Satisfactory resolution: Mog alerts the family to a burglar and becomes a hero, which makes everyone appreciate her and love her more.

Exercise 2

You are going to use a Five Finger Pitch to plot and then write your own short story of around 500 words, using one of the improbable scenarios listed 1 to 5 below. Remember to describe what you see, how you feel and any smells, sounds or sensations you might experience too.

PROTAGONIST You are the main character.

GOAL You have an important meeting that you must attend, this afternoon – your future depends on it.

SETTING When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t in my bedroom…..

Now select an OBSTACLE from numbers 1 to 5 below. You could randomise your selection by throwing a dice (create your own scenario if you throw a 6).

1 … I was clinging to the branch of a tree, in a jungle full of dangerous creatures and poisonous plants.

2 … My bed was a boat and I was in the middle of a choppy ocean, surrounded by sharks.

3 … I was on the moon with a broken spacecraft and a rather angry alien.

4 … I was trapped in a cage, hanging from the ceiling of a castle, surrounded by guards shouting, “Off with their head”.

5 … I was running through a network of underground tunnels, being chased by angry trolls. 

RESOLUTION How will you get out of your predicament and arrive at your meeting on time?

Remember, this is your story and you can write your way out using absolutely any escape plan you can think of – be imaginative – crazy even – push yourself to be as daft and inventive as possible.

I would love to hear your stories, please do feel free to post them in the comments below.

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