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J & T Dorrington is a language centre that offers:

•English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
•Business English to adults
•Assistance with study skills and essay writing
•English grammar and literature tutoring
•Exam preparation for all ages
•Editing of Master’s and Doctoral theses
•Editing and proofreading of documents and books
•Editing of film scripts
•Writing of books, autobiographies etc.
•Writing courses.

  • J&T Dorrington is a business where language is the main focus.

    John, our editor and tutor, is passionate about the English language and, being a friendly and caring person who relates to people of all ages and nationalities, would like to pass this knowledge and passion on to a wider range of people. Find out more about us

  • Contact us for a price

    Prices vary depending on which service you're looking for, but we'll give you a general idea of our rates if you click below. Please do contact us for a more informed quotation. Get an overview

  • Our Editor

    John is a professional researcher, writer, proofreader, editor and tutor. He ran a printing business successfully for 20 years and, after selling the business in 2002, turned his love of languages into a full-time writing, editing and tutoring career. He has a BA English, History & Latin from the University of Cape Town and has recently done a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign language Certificate). Find out about John

  • What people think

    Dear John,
    Just a quick note as I run out the door to tell you how much I appreciate your quick turn around of the edits and, of course, your invaluable input. There are truly no words...but thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    It is just a few painful steps from actual printing and then not only will it be available online but at the museum.

    Thank you thank you thank you (no commas on purpose : )

    Lots of Love, Sherri

    Dumb Dog Productions LLC
    USA See more

How to craft a character and plot that fit together seamlessly

Character and plot in a piece of fiction are inseparable. So if you are planning to write a novel you will need to find not only a plot but also the sort of characters that will suit that plot.

So what exactly is a plot? In simple words a plot (or storyline) is a literary term which outlines the series of events that constitutes a particular story. But that is by no means the full story. A plot is far more than merely a starting point and a logical conclusion. If that was all it involved it would be very boring.

Perhaps a fuller description is: a sequence of events determined by the actions and reactions of the characters; these actions and reactions create a chain of causes and effects; and how these events and the various characters relate to one another.

Right, so that sounds fine. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Each element of a plot must come from something in an earlier part of the story. So you need to create sufficient dramatic impetus to carry readers through to the end of the story by creating a series of mini-climaxes that builds up to the main climax. Or, in other words, you get your hero into trouble and keep him there until the resolution in the final chapter.

A plot pulls together all the characters, settings and voice with a major dramatic and pressing question. This question is usually fairly straightforward and is answered by the end of the story.

Consider the character and plot in the following novels and see what questions the reader wants answered:

• In Pride and Prejudice, the question posed by Jane Austen is whether the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet will accept the proud Mr Darcy
• The question in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is whether Robert Jordan will escape his apparent fate by surviving his military mission in the Spanish Civil war
• In Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë’s dark novel of revenge, the reader wonders if Heathcliff will ever find inner peace after the death of his beloved Catherine
• In J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye we wonder if the adolescent Holden Caulfield will ever grow up and find his true identity
• In Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd the question is whether Gabriel Oak will finally win his true love, Bathsheba
• In Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands will Davies and Carruthers get to the bottom of the Kaiser’s plot to invade Britain and thwart the intrigues of the renegade former English naval officer?

Look at any well-written novel and you will see that the main reason we keep reading is because of the suspense the major dramatic question creates. We can’t wait to find out the answer. This is called the denouement, the part where all is revealed.

But let’s leave the plot for the moment, although we agree that character and plot are intertwined, and move on to characterisation.

In fictional narrative writing the literary element known as characterisation deals with the art of creating characters. Characterisation may be portrayed by means of a description of the characters as well as through their actions, speech, thoughts and interaction with other characters.

Characters lead the readers through the story, helping them understand plots and themes. Characterisation allows the reader to empathise with the protagonist and the secondary characters by bringing them to life. Dialogue is a very important part of characterisation because it allows the reader to gain a better insight into their thought processes. It also helps to move the story along.

‘Character’ includes moral qualities and ethical standards or principles – or lack thereof – and is a combination of all the features and traits that form a particular character’s nature or personality.Writers make use of different types of characters to fulfil the different roles in the story.

Here are examples of how character and plot go together:

• Characters are described as either dynamic (those who undergo a developmental change in the story) or static (those who remain the same).
• Dynamic and static characters must not be confused with flat (two-dimensional) or round (complex personality) characters.
• Major (or central) characters are essential in that the plot revolves around them.
• Minor characters complement the major characters and help move events forward.
• The protagonist is the central person in a story. He/she need not necessarily have admirable qualities (e.g. an anti-hero).
• A character who represents a particular class or group of people is known as a type. Allied to this is the stereotypical stock character. Literature is full of them: the wicked schemer Iago in Othello; the miser Scrooge in A Christmas Carol; or even the absent-minded genius Professor Calculus in the Tintin comic series.
Note that the above characteristics are not necessarily mutually exclusive and many of them may be combined at the same time.

To sum up, it doesn’t matter how good your plot is if your characterisation is poor. So make sure character and plot fit together like a hand in a glove.

John DorringtonJohn Dorrington (27)

John is a freelance copy-writer, editor and proof-reader, and has written four books. He has edited several novels and factual books, although much of his work involves editing students’ academic dissertations, including several Master’s and Doctoral theses. He is a graduate of the University of Cape Town where he studied English and History

A book editor will get right inside your book and make it shine.

A book editor will get right inside your book, look at it from every angle and make it shine. Another thing is that a book editor is essential simply because no publisher or printer will touch a manuscript unless it has been carefully checked. That is the bottom line.

But another way of looking at it is that people are generally blind to their own shortcomings and failings, although these same people are usually pretty quick to see the exact same defects in others. Most likely this can be attributed to human nature.

Now it’s a fact of life that many authors, no doubt also being human, are not immune to this trait. They often judge their writing less harshly than it deserves, and with less of a critical eye. They are inclined to be subjective, and refuse to accept that their manuscript is crying out for some serious editing – as any impartial, less subjective person can see. Few authors are their own harshest critics – especially first-time authors. Yet no manuscript exists that cannot be improved, however good it may be.

A book editor steps in to create order in a book

That is where the book editor steps in to create order out of potential chaos. Professional book editors have usually spent many years – often many decades – honing their skills. They know what to do and what to look for in a manuscript, what pitfalls to avoid, and how to rectify an author’s mistakes. Having a second pair of eyes, as it were, they offer a different and unbiased perspective and can quickly spot what the author has missed, or ambiguities and repetitions that the author is completely unaware of.

Remember, there is no manuscript that cannot be improved – no matter how good it is. And first-time authors are advised to swallow their pride and cultivate a good working relationship with his or her book editor. It’s worth it – for the sake of the book.

So if you have written a book and need a book editor to take a look at it you can contact John and he will be only to happy to give you a quote.

John DorringtonJohn Dorrington (27)

John is a freelance copy-writer, editor and proof-reader, and has written four books. He has edited several novels and factual books, although much of his work involves editing students’ academic dissertations, including several Master’s and Doctoral theses. He is a graduate of the University of Cape Town where he studied English and History

Creative writing ideas to get new authors started

Creative writing is where you express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than convey information. So creative writing would be for a novel, poem or short story and, at the same time, you would also use descriptive writing to describe people, places, scenes or objects in such a way as to form a picture in the reader’s mind.

For creative writing you need to come up with ideas to write about and this is what we are going to tackle here.

Ideas are everywhere. You may be inspired by a childhood memory or something that is going on in your life at the present time. Imagination and inspiration are the key factors when you need to come up with ideas for creative writing, but there are some tricks and tools that you can use as well.

I am going to call this stage of the writing process the invention stage and it usually involves you asking yourself many questions and employing a whole lot of strategies before you can get started with the writing process.

The creative writing process strategies:

•Read as many books as you can in your chosen genre e.g. fiction or non-fiction, poetry, short story, novel, children’s books etc. For an in-depth look at the different genres have a look at Wikipedia
•Gather as many ideas, good and bad, as you can
•Keep adding to your list as ideas pop into your mind (use a notebook)
•Take in what is going on around you all the time and listen for lines of dialogue
•Just get going, write and write some more
•Don’t worry about the quality of the work you produce at first
•Write every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes
•Use the writing prompts that you will find on our resources page
•Do various exercises such as writing a series of very short works starting with a particular phrase or using only words that don’t have the letter ‘e’ in them
•From the word go you need to ask questions
•These questions lead to more questions
•Ask questions until you can’t think of any more.

By now you should have quite a lot of ideas to work with and it would be good to think about what main elements should be included in your work.

The main elements in creative writing

These are the main practical elements that you need to take into account when you start writing:


So if you are feeling a bit more inspired now you can get busy with some creative writing and see where that takes you.

Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.

Writing process series to help new and experienced writers find their own writing process.

The writing process is different for every writer and established writers will certainly have a process that they can follow with ease. New writers, however, have to develop a writing process from scratch and this can sometimes be very difficult.

It can be a problem to get started whether you are writing a blog post for your website, a short story or a full length book. Usually an inexperienced writer will simply put the job of getting started off to the next day and, in the end, the work will never be written.

Even an experienced writer can struggle when changing formats and find that they just don’t know where to begin. For instance someone who has written many books, may have a problem writing a blog post for the website to promote his work and so the process of trial and error begins, in order to find your own writing process.

Before starting the writing process arm yourself with information:

• What style of writing is required for the task at hand
• Do I need any other knowledge such as search engine optimization for a website or resources that will assist me with my writing
• Come up with ideas for the subject or plot
Add to your idea
• Research your subject

Now start the writing process:

• Start your first draft
• Write your article, short story or book.
• Revise and polish
• Edit you first draft
• Employ an editor
• Publish

Sounds easy but we all know that it is not that simple. A lack of self-belief, failure to come up with an idea and writer’s block are just a few of the problems that can stand in your way and prevent you from writing your first work.

Unfortunately there is no ‘one fits all’ solution and you need to be patient with yourself until you come up with a winning formula. In this series of articles we will attempt to point you in the right direction so that you can find your own writing process. The ‘we’ that I am referring to are John and Trish of J&T Dorrington.

I have been writing copy for websites for years and can complete an article in under an hour. I didn’t believe that I could write a book until I did a course on writing children’s picture books. The course advised that you find your pictures first and the book would follow. I followed this advice and my children’s picture book was produced soon after that.

John has written books and is a wonderful editor, but he nearly freaked when I told him that he had to write articles for this website. He is still struggling with the concept but, with my expert guidance, he is getting there.

So join us on this journey to find your writing process and let’s see whether we can make an author out of you.

Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.

Writing style is what makes each writer unique

Writing style is what makes each writer unique. Obviously there are not enough writing styles that every author can have an absolutely unique style, but every author will have a particular tone to their writing that will make it distinguishable from someone else’s tone.

An author will also have a different tone for different types of writing. For instance writing for the internet, children’s books, cookery books and a novel would each require a different style, but it is not inconceivable that one author would write a book in more than one category.

The writing style should fit the context, purpose, and audience of each project and by choosing certain words, sentence structures and flow of words the writer will develop a voice.

Style is not only for writers such as P.G. Wodehouse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce who are well known for their distinctive writing styles but also for journalists, historians and all other informational writers. Another famous writer to add to this list is e.e. cummings who never used capital letters in his writing, including when spelling his name.

Elements of writing style

There are three main elements of writing that contribute to an author’s style:

• Word choice
• Sentence fluency
• Voice

Word choice

1) Your writing should be concise so you should choose the exact word to convey meaning
2) Use adjectives sparingly and adverbs rarely. Let nouns and verbs do the work
3) Chose words that contribute to the flow of a sentence. Construct sentences that roll off the tongue and make reading easy
4) Use romantic or long words (languorous, pearlescent, meandering) to slow down the pace
5) For a feel of adventure use staccato words to give an impression of haste
6) Use short breathy words to calm down and provide a more more dreamy feeling
7) Long sentences using descriptive words will expose readers to unfolding scene
8) To instil a sense of urgency use short sentences. Words should be quick-fire with no commas

Sentence fluency

1) Sentence fluency is the flow and rhythm of phrases and sentences making them easy to read
2) Vary sentence structures to achieve different effects and avoid monotony
3) Arrange ideas within a sentence for greater effect by choosing your words carefully, delete extraneous words and making vague words more specific


1) Voice is an essential element of style as it reveals the writer’s personality
2) Voice conveys feeling and is aimed at the audience of the work
3) Some of the feelings conveyed can be authoritative, reflective, objective, passionate, serious, funny, impersonal or chatty.

There are also four different types of writing:

• Expository writing
• Descriptive writing
• Persuasive Writing
• Narrative Writing

For each of these types of writing you would use a different style of writing which would fit in with the feel of the document as follows:

Expository or Argumentative style:

1) Subject-oriented style.
2) Author does not express own opinion on the topic
3) Furnishes relevant facts and figures
4) Found in text books, instruction manuals and ‘how to’ articles on the internet

Descriptive style:

1) The author focuses on describing an event, character or a place in detail
2) Often poetic in nature and describes an event, object or person
3) Usually incorporates sensory details.

Persuasive style:

1) The writer uses persuasion to win the reader over to his point of view
2) It contains the opinions, bias and justification of the author
3) Advertising copywriting is a type of persuasive writing,

Narrative style:

1) The author narrates the story as if he were the character
2) Narratives are works that provide an account of connected events
3) It is used for novels, dramas, short stories, poetry, etc.
Developing your writing style is a unique art that requires a lot imagination, creativity and dedication. With practice you can write about any topic and present your work to readers in a way that will have them hanging on every word.

Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.