Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Links of Interest

CREATING CHARACTER ARCS:


THE POWER OF THE PERSONAL MYTH:


WAYS TO FIND THE RIGHT TITLE:


CREATING AN EDITORIAL MAP FOR YOUR NOVEL:


CHOOSING THE RIGHT ANTAGONIST:


THE AUTHORS WIN SUIT AGAINST HARLEQUIN:


WRITING SCENES, PART 2:


WHEN SHOULD AN AUTHOR INCORPORATE?


FINDING THE RIGHT CLUES TO HOOK YOUR READER:


WHO IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?


DYNAMIC CHARACTERS:


SELF PUB DO IT YOURSELF PUBLISHING SOFTWARE:


DIFFERENT GENRES LISTED AND DEFINED:


FIVE SCENES YOU SHOULDN’T WRITE:


USING BOOK DISCOVERY SITES, INCLUDES LIST:


TWO GOODREADS FEATURES TO USE FOR PROMO:


BEING GENRE SPECIFIC, PART 2, DEFINES TYPES OF GENRE:


THE IMPORTANCE OF A CHARACTER’S NAME:



Monday, September 19, 2016

Using Context to Define Terms

QUESTION: I'm writing a Victorian steampunk novel, and I'm trying to be accurate about the period by using correct terminology for everything, but I'm afraid terms like "gaiter" will stymie readers.  What can I do?

Give some clue in the writing's context. 

You could say something like 

Miranda lifted her skirt slightly and glanced down at her feet. Blood spattered her gaiters.


The reader then would think, "Oh, shoes," which is close enough to what gaiters are for the reader to understand.

If the heroine removes the gaiters from over her shoes to hide the evidence that she'd been near the body, then the reader would get a closer hint that the gaiter partially covers her shoe.

Either way, you would not be talking down to the audience, and you'd give them information that they need as well as a hint they may or may not need.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Links of Interest

COVER DESIGN RESOURCES:


ARE YOUR CHARACTERS CONTRADICTING THEMSELVES?


THE HERO’S JOURNEY’S CALL TO ADVENTURE AND THE INCITING INCIDENT:


SHOW VERSUS TELL 101:


GETTING THE RIGHT BALANCE OF BACKSTORY:


IS YOUR STORY STRUCTURE WORKING?


FINDING AND AVOIDING REPETITION:


BOOK COVERS 101:


FIXING THOSE BOOK MISTAKES:


LINKS MAINLY FOR WRITERS OF CHILDREN’S LIT:


FORESHADOWING:


CAUSE AND EFFECT IN WRITING:


QUERY LETTERS:


WHAT A SCENE NEEDS:


CRAFTING YOUR AUTHOR MESSAGE:


CREATING A GOOD BOOK DESCRIPTION:


DANGEROUS MYTHS ABOUT PUBLISHING:


PUBLISHING CONTRACT RED FLAGS:


PROMO, DO GOODREADS GIVEAWAYS WORK?


BASICS OF BUILDING YOUR AUDIENCE:


CREATING BELIEVABLE URBAN FANTASY:


FIGHT SCENES, DUELS:


THE SUSPENSE THRILLERS 10 KEY SCENES WITH EXAMPLES:


DEALING WITH MULTIPLE DRAFTS DURING REVISION:


WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER WHILE WRITING THE MIDDLE OF YOUR NOVEL:


CREATING SUBTEXT:


STRUCTURAL EDITING GUIDE:


WRITING DESCRIPTION:



Monday, September 12, 2016

The Muse Myth and Other Musings

Some writers believe that you must physically experience something before you write it. There's nothing wrong with this, but writing is about the imagination and informed research.  I've never beaten anyone to death, gone diving in a lake, or flown a space ship, but my characters have done all these things, and I've never had anyone say I wrote these things wrong.  It helped that I researched carefully and asked experts to read it when I wrote about real world experiences I'd only researched, not lived.  

But nothing can replace the emotional experience that an author needs to create characters.  You don't have to murder someone to write from a murderer's viewpoint, but an understanding of rage and the fear of being discovered for something bad you've done, no matter how minor, must inform that viewpoint.  

~*~

Craft can be taught, but the ability to tell stories and create real people can only be honed. Some are natural storytellers, some create real people, and the real geniuses can do both as well as add magic to the page. Those who have neither ability can still write novels and stories, but those stories are instantly forgettable and leave a reader searching for something with more substance to it.

~*~

I was considered a decent poet before I started writing fiction, and they are two different disciplines with different rules. The only real similarity is in the important choice of words.

~*~

Anyone who believes the drunk author fallacy that alcohol fuels great writing is just a drunk looking for an excuse to drink. Hemingway was a mentally ill suicide and a drunk so he’s not a role model any of us should emulate. Alcohol and drugs are just a modern version of the romantic muse myth that inspiration will magically happen and write your story for you.

Writing is HARD.  It is sit on your butt in front of a computer for long periods of time.  It is years of learning craft, editing, and honing your stories. None of that is fueled by drugs or alcohol.

~*~

The MFA has its value. It teaches literary writers how to craft stories for NY literary editors, and the teachers have contacts within the NY literary community. Lots of money can be made if one of its graduates hits the current sweet spot of taste.

In most cases, a MFA is totally useless for a genre writer, and the writer will have to relearn how to write for that market.

Anyone who wants to learn to write genre would be better served by many of the excellent online writing schools for specific genres as well as courses from various RWA chapters.

~*~

Being unpublished is the perfect time to experiment with different genres and subgenres. That's how a writer discovers their own strengths as a writer and their own voice. 

From my own experience, I tried for years to sell in category romance (Harlequin and Silhouette), and I even had two very successful category authors as mentors, and I simply couldn't sell in that market. It took me those years to figure out that I would never sell there because it was counter to my voice. I rewrote some of those books as I wanted to write them, and they won fans and numerous awards. 

Once a writer's published in a specific genre or subgenre, she will be trapped, for the most part, in that market, and it would be a very sad thing if she discovers another type of book she'd prefer to write.

~*~


“To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”  Lady Bracknell, Act 1, “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.


In a book on playwriting I read some years ago, a famous playwright talked about what is tragic.  He said that if an elderly widow loses one of her sons, it is a great tragedy and the audience cries.  If she then loses a second son, the audience weeps.  If she loses a third, the audience begins to laugh because the line between the tragic and the ridiculous has been crossed.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Links of Interest

PROMO LIST FOR SELF-PUBS, USEFUL FOR THE REST OF US, TOO:


CUTTING WORDS FROM A MANUSCRIPT:


YOUR NEWSLETTER PLAN, PART 2:


MORE RESOURCES FOR FINDING CRITIQUE PARTNERS:


MAKING A SHORT NOVEL LONGER:


HOW BACK STORY MAKES CHARACTERS RELATABLE:


PERFECTING THIRD PERSON, PART 2:

PLOT AND CHARACTER SHOULD BE THE SAME THING:


ISBNs AND BARCODE:


REVISION TOOLS:


WORDS TO REPLACE “VERY:”


TOOL TO FIND REVIEWERS:


HERO’S JOURNEY PLOT STRUCTURE:


USING ARCs TO PROMOTE A NEW BOOK:


KEY SCENES FOR YOUR VILLAIN:


HOW SEXUAL PREDATORS WORK:


THE TEN SCENE STRUCTURE FOR YOUR NOVEL:


HOW CHARACTER TROPES CAN HELP YOU SHAPE YOUR NOVEL:


KINDLE SELECT, ONE AUTHOR’S EXPERIENCE:


DIALOGUE MISTAKES, NO CONTRACTIONS:


FINDING A GOOD EDITOR:


THE BASIC PLOT LINES IN FICTION:


USING REAL WORLD PLACES TO INSPIRE YOUR FICTIONAL PLACES:


FINDING BETA READERS:


CREATING MEMORABLE CHARACTERS:


QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU START YOUR STORY:



Monday, September 5, 2016

Bad Blurbs in the Real World, Part 2


A book description or back cover blurb is the third-best promotion you have.  (The first is name recognition, the second the cover.)  The first two may get a reader to glance at your offering, but a good or bad blurb can make or break the sale.  

I receive a number of ebook promotion emails like BookBuzz and Fussy Librarian, and some of the book blurbs have been so bad that I’ve started collecting them.  

Here are a few with the author and book title removed to protect the incompetent.  My comments beneath each one.

NOTE:  To see how to write a good blurb, please read my article on the subject or do a search of my blog with the term “blurb” for links in my “Links of Interest” articles.  To learn how to figure out your genre, clink on this.  


HORROR 

INSPIRED BY THE LEGEND OF THE WHITE RIVER MONSTER NEWPORT, ARKANSAS. 

The White River Monster has eluded people for over a century. Manhunts were brought to a fever pitch in Newport, Arkansas, where people were anxious to prove its existence of the river monster. But, it went unfounded. 

For years, sightings were reported up and down the White River, but no physical evidence ever came forth. Soon the monster faded into obscurity and was dismissed as a legend never to be solved ... that is until now! 

Thriller writer ******  brings this cryptozoological mystery to life -- in a classic tale of drippy, slimy, and deadly horror!

Yes, it’s about a legendary monster.  We got that the first time you said it.  You didn’t have to keep repeating it.  Get to the point already.  Also, what is the threat that makes us want to keep reading?

*~*

YOUNG ADULT

Three months ago, I was the girl who wore her hair in a saggy ponytail, the girl with the stutter. I despised my mom's cooking, gamed too much, and laughed at all my dad's corny jokes. I'd never been kissed or gotten into trouble. I was *****, human, prone to screwups and mishaps. No more, no less. Three months ago, my new life started. And nothing's been coincidence since.

A good start with a character description then ends with so much vagueness that the reader has no idea what kind of novel it is.  She could have gotten a makeover, become a vampire, or died.  

“Coincidence” is the wrong word.  “Ordinary,” maybe?

*~*


MYSTERY

Meet retired cop, Sam Prichard. Sam opens his practice as a Private Investigator, and gets his first real case almost instantly: Find Barry Wallace, a local rock singer who was on the verge of making it big, and vanished suddenly! When Barry's body turns up minus his head and hands, the case becomes ominous, and now he has to find a killer, instead! 

Meet this author who can’t punctuate sentences correctly and really, really loves exclamation points!!!!!!


*~*

COZY MYSTERY:

Out of work reporter Clarissa Spencer is being stalked by a stray cat. She can’t cook to save her life, her garden is an overgrown mess and her chocolate chip cookie addiction is out of control. Then to top it all off, she gets struck by lightning!  

Clarissa thinks she has it bad - until she learns the town mayor has been shot to death and his widow has been falsely accused of killing him.  Okay, so it could be worse…

Clarissa makes it her mission to expose the true killer before her arch nemesis - an infuriatingly handsome reporter from the city newspaper - can.  Unfortunately, solving a murder is easier said than done...especially with the lunacy in Clarissa's life!

The cover with a witch and the title both say magic, but the blurb does not.  Sometimes, the blurb is the only selling tool you have so you need to make the genre known.  Also, too much space is spent about gardens and cooking which have nothing to do with the plot.  The author should have used it to up the paranormal element.  

*~*

HORROR:

Does the Devil exist? there really a fallen angel named Lucifer? Are the temptations that beset mankind really the products of an evil Satan? Are the fires of Hell a reality? And your answers to these questions are:_____? Undecided, perhaps? Then, read on. Compared favorably by many to renown authors of horror and suspense such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Bram Stoker, Russia's Master of Horror ******** introduces us to his world... the world of angels and devils, of Lucifer and Lucifer's son, the world of temptation and seduction in his latest masterpiece of deviltry and suspense. In a world of horror and fear that is almost too realistic to be fiction, *****’s characters burst from the pages, come alive and open up their innermost beings... revelations that will shock and mesmerize the reader, who--while filled with fear and anxiety--will be unable to put ***** down until the last terrifying conclusion.

Since the answer is a foregone conclusion, the first sentences are an utter waste of space when the writer should have been concentrating on what the dang book is about.  Which he doesn’t do, by the way.  A nice presentation of the author’s credentials, though.

*~*

MYSTERY

With her romantic life in turmoil, reporter Jenessa Jones makes dangerous enemies when she digs into a cold case… Twists and turns abound in this delightful mystery! 

This isn’t a dreadful blurb, but the bit about the character’s romantic life really doesn’t add anything since it’s a mystery, not a romance, so the space would be better spent on the mystery.

*~*

ACTION ADVENTURE

John ****  is the man the government depends on when all else fails. Can someone with such valuable skills ever hope to lead a normal life? 

Action/Adventure isn’t about finding a normal life.  It’s about having an extraordinary life that the reader can live vicariously.  

*~*

FANTASY/PARANORMAL

His precious touch could prove deadly… When Taylor **** moves from New York City to Big Bear Lake, California, her life is forever changed when she meets a hot guy with winter-blue eyes named Jesse. Their attraction is instant, the chemistry undeniable. But sadly, things aren't adding up. Taylor wonders what her 'crush' is hiding.

“Precious?”  A very poor word choice.  

Also, this description sets up a romance, not a fantasy/paranormal novel.  

*~*

HORROR

The Shade a Vampire has left in my family is still hunting me, making my life a restless chase.It's not only my job, I have a personal vendetta to carry out against vampires. 

Huh?  

*~*

SUPERNATURAL SUSPENSE

When Eve moves to the big city, she’s determined to discover the life that enchanted her mother so long ago. Can a cranky ghost help Eve find her own place in the world? 

Supernatural suspense is about suspense, danger, and maybe a bit of horror.  This book description is about none of these things.


*~*

MYSTERY

The girl’s body lay on the riverbank, her arms outflung. Her blonde hair lay in matted clumps, shockingly pale against the muddy bank. Her face was like a porcelain sculpture that had been broken and glued back together: grey cracks were visible under the white sheen of her dead skin. Her lips were so blue they could have been traced in ink.

Mysteries are about the solving of the murder, not a visual of the body.  The reader wants to know about the sleuth and/or the killer.  There’s no hint here of either.  Plus, the first sentence has a misplaced modifier, and the rest of the sentences are repetitive in structure.  Visuals are nice, though.  

*~*

MYSTERY

“Emergency!” “Christ! Who shot her?” “Don’t know.” “What a mess.”“Better call Dr Warburton.” ***Bright lights. A sharp, antiseptic smell. Pain. Nausea. Feel so weak. The cat, who’ll feed the cat? “Marlowe.” “She’s babbling.” “She’s lost a lot of blood.” Blackness. “Have we lost her?” I don’t want to die! 

It’s certainly viscaral, but, again, the emphasis is on the inciting event, not on what the book is about.  A humanizing touch, though, when she worries about her cat.