Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Those of you following me on Twitter or Facebook have recently been drowning in a deluge of quotes from Stephen King. My propensity to share the words of this man with my writer friends stems from my current submersion into his memoir of the craft of writing. Let me explain why I am so late to the game.
I grew up in a very protective religious environment. In an attempt to protect me from the evil of the world, indulgence in or association with anything that resembled evil was forbidden. I am not besmirching my parents by any stretch of the imagination. They encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Yet, this upbringing prevented me from experiencing the fullness of King’s writing prowess.
Recently, while researching sources for inspiration regarding writing tips for my blog, I came across Jane Friedman’s Top Ten Books on Writing. The one with the most reviews was On Writing by Stephen King and I had never read it. Hoping to remedy this as quickly as possible, I ordered a copy and anxiously awaited my date with corruption.
In this book, I have discovered a treasure trove hidden beneath my nose for so many years. Each page compels me to and yet I refrain from tweeting every other sentence. I have already experienced inspirational tales of personal writing lore and insight that rekindles a return to foundations forgotten and an avidity to write ceaselessly. Although I am only half way through my voracious consumption of the mind of King, I quell an urge to rush to the Paris stock exchange to purchase as many shares of Bic Highlighters as I can afford.
I implore the tribunal of King aficionados for patience. Everyone else join me in my primordial journey into the writing mind of a 350 million book bestselling author.
Need help with writing, editing, design, or marketing? 918-394-2665
Monday, December 14, 2009
I have determined that reading and writing late at night is the best time for me. Everyone else is asleep. It is so quiet; I can hear the air wheezing through dust- riddled vents in the ceiling. There are no children tugging at my shirt. My wife has given up her quest to enlist my involvement in the completion of household chores. I can focus all of my energies on the transference of the words dancing in my head to the digital dance floor before me.
The best place for me to write is in my Lazy Boy. I extend the leg rest and push back until the maximum point of reclination is reached. I prop my knees up to position the laptop keyboard to be readily available to my finger tips. This may sound cumbersome, but it works for me. You might be different. Comfort is most important. It will be hard to focus if you have to adjust your position in a search for comfort.
Setting a daily goal is as important as determining a place and time. Some people set a goal to write a certain number of words each day. I find that setting a chronological goal works best for me. I set a goal to write for at least one hour each day. Some days I am able to write more words during that hour than others. Whatever strategy works best for you is fine. Contact me for a free consultation. 918-394-2665
Friday, December 11, 2009
Writing in general can be a tough business; writing for children is even tougher. Writing for children has its own unique tricks, processes, and rules; one of those rules is using words that are age appropriate.
How this differs from writing in general is that the children's writing arena is divided into specific age groups. There are picture books and rebus stories for the very young child. The story line and text are simple; they need to tell a story including basic conflict and action, but they are geared toward the comprehension of young children.
Next comes early readers. Again, the words used and plot are relatively simple to help the child learn to read. The next genre is chapter books. Here the plot and words grow just like the child has. The story can be more involved and geared to hold the child's attention with mild mystery, suspense, and fantasy.
Then it's on to middle grade. At this point, the child has grown and has greater comprehension and vocabulary, so should the stories for them. The plot and conflict can be more complex than the earlier chapter books.
Finally, it's on to young adult. This genre's stories can be sophisticated and involved enough to attract adult readership. But, it obviously should still be written avoiding hard core subject matter. While it can deal with just about all topics, it should be void explicit adult context. Writing for adults is simpler; the writer usually writes with the vocabulary he/she is use to.
The question is: How does a writer know which words are specific to a particular age group? Unless you are an experienced writer and have become very familiar with the different age group vocabularies, you will need help in this area.
Three Sources/Tools for Finding Age Appropriate Words
1. A source that I've found very useful is Children's Writers Word Book, 2nd Edition, by Alijandra Mogilner and Tayopa Mogilner. It lists specific words that are introduced at seven key reading levels (kindergarten through sixth grade). It provides a thesaurus of those words with synonyms, annotated with reading levels. In addition, it offers detailed guidelines for sentence length, word usage, and themes at each reading level. I find it a valuable tool in my writing toolbelt.
2. Another great source is Intervention Central ( http://www.interventioncentral.org/htmdocs/tools/okapi/okapi.php ) which utilizes Spache and Dale formulas. This is an amazing site that allows you to input up to 200 words, choose a readability formula (what grade level you are writing for), and click for the results. The program, OKAPI (an internet application for creating curriculum-based assessment reading probes) will return a readability analysis of your text, indicating what grade level the particular content is appropriate for.
3. Next is Englishraven.com ( http://www.englishraven.com/ttools_dolch.html ). This site provides Dolch (sight word listed for frequency and importance) wordlists for each grade level. The lists are limited, but it does give a good indication of appropriate words for the particular age group you are writing for.
All three of these resources are useful in finding just the right words for the children's writer. There are also other books and sites available that will help you in your search for those age appropriate words for your children's book, just do a search.
If you need hands-on help, DKV Writing 4 U ( http://dkvwriting4u.com ) is a writing service that is professional and affordable. It offers guidance, proofreading, basic editing, and critiquing of your children's manuscript. It also provides two FREE e-books, Writing, Publishing, and Marketing - You Can Do It! and Power of Article Marketing, just for subscribing. There's also a gift just for visiting! The free gifts change periodically.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
If you want to learn to write children's books, you should absolutely start by reading some of them, this is because after you have read a few, there are a few things that snap into focus. The first thing that you will likely notice is that all of these books have some sort of conflict that is resolved at the end, and after you have created a good character and a good setting, you are going to need a conflict or a difficulty that he or she needs to overcome. The conflict gives your character something to do, and something to fight for; essentially it gets the story off to a good start.
Remember that particularly if you are writing children's books, you do not need the conflict to be very large or very earthshaking. On the other hand, just because the conflict does not seem large or upsetting for you as the writer that doesn't mean that it can be the same for the character! Your character needs to be involved in the conflict, and they need to be dedicated to resolving it. Whether your character's conflict is conquering the monster under the bed or just wondering where the missing sock went, you'll find that he or she needs to be involved in solving it. If you can make your character care about the issue, you can likely make the audience care as well.
In some ways, children's books have the same requirements as adult books. Think about reading a story where the hero goes to the store to pick up some milk; unless something interesting was happening or unless something was being resolved, it would make for a dull read. A children's book where everyone goes to the zoo and looks at the animals might work for very young children who just want to look at the animals, but older children will swiftly want a story where "something happens," and if you want to learn to write, this is something that you need to provide your reader.
That being said, come up with a problem for your characters to solve. It can be a large effort or it can be a small one. Think about what your character wants and think about what he or she would do if that were taken away from them. A fraction of how you learn to write is going to be answering questions like this. Knowing your characters and what they want is extremely important, and you will find that once you give them a problem to solve, you have your story right there!
If you are interested in learning to write, remember that your conflict is going to be an important part of how your story will move forward. Remember that if you want to write children's books, conflict is going to be an important part of how you move ahead and what your needs are and you should learn to write conflict well. Take some time to recognize conflict in other people's children's books and to make sure that you understand how it is going to work in yours.
http://www.learntowriteachildrensbook.com. Sign-up for the free newsletter that will bring you regular writing tips and articles, straight to your inbox, on writing for children. It's well worth checking out!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Are you looking for attention from reviewers for your newly published or about to be published book?
I am pleased to announce a new program designed just for you. We will be emailing a monthly newsletter to our email database of more than 1,000 book reviewers. This will give you the opportunity to expose your book to reviewers at print/Internet magazines, daily/community newspapers, and television/radio stations.
To introduce this new program, we are offering a low introductory price of just $99 to include your book in our first monthly email scheduled for December 15th. We will include your provided front cover image, your 150-word or less description, and your contact information so that reviewers can contact you directly to request a review copy of your book. Be sure to have some of your book ready to send out.
There is no way to know for sure how many will request a review copy, however, if you don't do something to get the word out about your book, nothing will happen.
Contact us if you are interested: Book Reviewer Program
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It's neither a dash nor an underscore (_), the hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark most commonly used to join two words to make one - and for such a small character, it has an important role in any text document. In fact the hyphen has an entire function dedicated to its use in Word 2007.
Hyphenation deals with the role of the hyphen when used to separate words at the end of a line. A word that appears at the end of a line, but is too long to fit completely on that line, can be hyphenated. This is especially helpful if turning the word to the next line avoids unsightly gaps in the text on the previous line.
Obviously the difficulty is that, when inserting a hyphen in a word at the end of a line, it does not form a permanent part of the spelling of the word. The rules for deciding where to insert a hyphen, therefore, can sometimes cause confusion. Some prefer to divide words between consonants - for example 'splen-dour'; and some between vowels - 'appreci-ate'. Words of one syllable should never be divided - for example 'rhythm'. As a rough guide, the hyphen should be positioned in the word at a place that eases reading the text.
Word 2007 has a sophisticated hyphenation function, which undertakes most of the decision-making for you. The hyphenation feature can be used to prevent gaps in lines when text is justified, or to make text more equal on lines when using 'ragged' copy. Hyphenation also prompts a better understanding and awareness of the shape of the words on a line, and enables the author to create a more professional and polished looking document.
The hyphenation feature can be set to automatically or manually hyphenate text, insert optional or non-breaking hyphens, and set the maximum amount of space allowed between a word and the right margin without hyphenating the word.
By selecting Automatic Hyphenation, when a word is too long to fit on to the end of a line, Word 2007 automatically hyphenates the word over two lines. Automatic Hyphenation is a great facility if you are confident of where a hyphen will be inserted. If the text is edited, then Word automatically re-hyphenates the altered text as required.
Manual hyphenation gives the author more control to select where a hyphen should or should not appear. Again if you edit the text, Word will offer any alternatives to new line breaks, and will not automatically hyphenate words. This is particularly useful when using compound nouns and verbs such as 'in-house' or 'e-mail' and where house style dictates the spelling.
An optional hyphen can be used when you want to ensure that a word will only be hyphenated at the end of a line in a certain place. For example, to ensure that the word nonhyphenated is never broken as 'nonhyphen-ated'. An optional hyphen can be inserted after 'non' and before 'hyphen'. To insert an optional hyphen, use the keys 'CTRL+HYPHEN'. To view optional hyphens, select the function Show and Hide from the Paragraph group on the Home tab.
A non-breaking hyphen can also be inserted in words or phrases that you do not want to be broken at the end of a line. For example in the sequence of numbers, 'Telephone: 555-5555' the telephone number should not be broken over a line.
A non-breaking hyphen can be typed to ensure that the number will not be split over two lines. To insert a non-breaking hyphen, click where the hyphen appears and key 'CTRL+SHIFT+HYPHEN'. Now the entire number will move on to the next line and will not be split at the hyphen point.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Everyone uses metaphors. Rightly so. They're a natural way to illustrate. Use them wrong, though, and they can really foul you up.
Don't want to get fouled up? Then know the 3 good rules about metaphors (and all other figures of speech, for these apply broadly).
1. Don't mix them. Saying something like "knowing the ropes paves the way for a fruitful harvest," for example, as I saw in a real memo once, is illogical. (Ropes, pavement, and agriculture have nothing to do with each other.) Why does logic matter? Because if you mix imagery like this, you'll rightly be accused of not thinking through what you're writing.
2. Don't set off your metaphor with "quotation marks" or the British 'inverted commas'. It's amateurish. Your reader is smart enough to know when you're using a figure of speech. You'd only use this punctuation if you were defining some unusual or made-up word. This is called a "neologism." Even with a neologism you'd only use quotation marks once, when you defined your new term; ever after, your reader wouldn't need them. Neologisms aren't usually metaphors, in any case. So just remember, no special punctuation for metaphors.
3. Make up your own metaphors. Don't use ones you've already heard. This is important. First, using someone else's one makes you look lazy, which you are. Second, because it's lazy, sooner or later you'll accidentally mix one, or you'll use one that isn't quite right for the situation. And you'll lose your credibility. So never talk about needles in haystacks, or taking bulls by the horns, or anything else you've heard before. Invent new ones.
Here is some vocabulary to be clear about. These are three terms you'll hear from time to time, whenever people are talking about figures of speech. A metaphor, technically, is an implied comparison, such as talking about all world being a stage, and the people on it players. A 'simile' (pronounced SIM-uh-lee) is the same idea, only more obvious, and it employs 'like' or 'as'. So, her tears fell like rain; her lips were sweet as wine. That's a simile. And finally: 'cliché'. This is what printers used to call the plate used for stereotype printing. Now it refers to any term, phrase, or idea that's repeated so often as to lose its meaning. (You can see why 'stereotype' is now used the way it is, too.) 'Wallowing in self-pity' is an example of a cliché. The term is overused. When it's applied imprecisely to a situation, it is said to be 'trite'.
Okay? Now stoke those fires, keep your powder dry, clear the decks, and write.
For 20 years Duncan Fisher, PhD, has been showing people how to get their writing chores done and out the door fast, no matter what kind of training they have (or don't have). He's got an easy system that guarantees your success! Duncan's motto? "Start writing now ... even if you can't write!" Visit him at http://www.instantwritingsuccess.com today!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Usually the term toddler is applied to one and two year old children. The toddler stage is very important in a child's life. It is the time between infancy and childhood when a child learns and grows in many ways. Everything that happens to the toddler is meaningful. Therefore books for toddlers should be written with meaningful insight into learning and enjoyment. Learn how to write books for toddlers and young children the right way from the beginning and you'll be on your way to success in no time!
If your interests lye with writing stories for toddlers and young children, there are a few things you should know before getting started. Toddlers go through many changes at this stage of life. This can give you an advantage when your writing for this age group. Parents and caregivers are always on the lookout for that great book to help their toddler with transitions. Potty training, having a new baby, divorce and moving house are good examples of transition books for toddlers. I'm sure we have all been through a transition in our lives and have a special way of dealing with it. What about a story that could of helped you at a certain time? Use your idea's and experiences when writing about transitions. Put a funny twist on the story. Toddlers and young children will find it funny, turning everyday experiences into a joke, it may drive caregivers crazy for awhile but at least you can get the job done!
Typical books for toddlers consist of simple stories and educational themes like ABC's, colors, numbers, shapes etc. Many toddlers enjoy reading picture books with mum and dad and grandma and grandpa. Especially if started at a young age, its nice bonding time. Although, be aware that toddlers will more often than not have someone reading with them, so your story will need to flow when read out loud.
Here are the 5 top tips to follow when writing books for toddlers.
1. Use language that is simple and easy to understand. Some books for toddlers and young children will have very limited word counts.
2. Keep the story cheerful. Toddlers are a bit too small for to much drama, they are sensitive so keep the story light hearted, fresh and fun.
3. Create characters that toddlers will identify and relate to. A good idea for books designed for the younger audience is to create a hero type character and make them a child. Children like to see children do well! Builds a healthy sense of self esteem.
4. Keep to the point of the story and keep it short. Always think about the attention span of toddlers and young children, it's very short. Try to keep the story moving.
5. Always finish with a happy and satisfying ending. Always finish books for toddlers and young children in a nice way. You want to leave them feeling safe and secure with intention to go back and read it again.
These 5 success tips to writing books for toddlers are a guideline, you should always do your research according to what your publisher is looking for when producing books for this age group. Whatever type of book you choose to write for toddlers, don't let the age group fool you! Your story will still have to follow a process.
If you are interested in how to write books for toddlers and young children, go to http://www.learntowriteforchhildren.com. Get the support you need to successfully complete and publish your children's book.
When you are ready to publish, check out our new Children's Best Seller Package!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Writing a book can be an intimidating process, especially for a first-time author. Before you delve any further into the project, take a few preliminary steps to write a book.
Step #1: Figure Out What You are Going to Write About
This may seem like an obvious preliminary course of action, but it is important to pinpoint specifically what it is you are going to write about.
You will want to write about a topic you enjoy. If the medical profession bores you, it is probably best to stray from the subject. Writing anything - especially a process as involved as a book - should be an experience you enjoy.
Step #2: Look Around at the Competition
If you were going to write a book on gardening, it would be wise to scan bookstores, libraries and look around online to see what has been written on this broad topic. Perhaps there is a particular subtopic that has not been written about extensively. If there are many books devoted to growing tomatoes and cucumbers, but few uncover the wonders of cultivating parsley and onions in your backyard, this could be a niche.
While books of all genres sprout up constantly, there is always a need to write new ones, especially on the nonfiction side, because new information and discoveries are always emerging.
Step #3: Map Out Your Book
Before you get bogged down with the nitty gritty details, it would be helpful to sit down and write about specific topics you would like to uncover in your book. It does not have to be set in stone, but creating a list of tentative chapters could be a helpful exercise. Determine how narrow or broad the scope of your book is going to be.
If your book is going to recount the history of Wisconsin, how far back do you want to go? When the region was first settled? Or when it was admitted into the union and formed as a state? Or perhaps you want to start at a specific point in history, such as 1900? Determining the answer to this question is an important step.
While pounding out a literary work can give any author anxiety - particularly a first-timer - zooming in and taking a few preliminary steps to write a book can be an invaluable method of easing the process.
If you're interested in steps to write a book, Profitable Storytelling is a fantastic site!
And for an incredible source of motivation, you really need to look at Blind Mentor. You'll be really glad you did!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Don Winn’s “The Tortoise and the Hairpiece” from Yorkshire Publishing, is a delightful children’s book celebrating diversity and individuality.
“The Tortoise and the Hairpiece” is told from the perspective of Jake, a young tortoise who is traveling a road of self discovery. All too aware of his lack of hair, Jake wants more than anything to fit in with other animals. With help from the Buzzard, he gets in more and more trouble as he tries to change himself. Ultimately, the wise Owl intervenes and Jake learns a powerful lesson about accepting himself for who he is.
Included at the end of the book are eight questions that parents can utilize to stimulate conversations about the issues that are raised in this delightful book.
· In what ways do you feel different?
· What did you learn from this story?
· Why do you think Jake was unhappy?
· What made Jake realize that being different is good?
Don Winn delivers an outstanding narrative, with a lesson that children of all ages can embrace and share with others. A poet for over ten years, Winn brings his excellent writing skills and personal experience to his work. Motivated by his desire to celebrate each reader’s distinctiveness, Winn delivers an outstanding teaching tool to parents and educators alike.
Drawing from his observations and personal challenges, Winn reminds readers that we all face obstacles and difficulties. Winn’s universal message teaches acceptance, personal fulfillment, and understanding to children growing up in a world of differences. With discussion questions at the end of the book, the author seeks to open dialogue with parents, teachers, and children in order to discuss these challenges. Inspired by a number of well known poets and authors, Winn looks forward to the release of more children’s book in the near future.
To learn more about “The Tortoise and the Hairpiece”
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Monday, October 5, 2009
Have you ever thought about writing - planned to write - but somehow just weren't getting to it? Sometimes it takes a little trick or two (and some wisdom) to get moving on our writing projects. Here are five tricks that you may find useful (as I have):
1. Write early or write late. One is not better than the other in general, but one is likely to be preferable for you. Figure that out, then target and protect that time for your writing. Very early or very late work quite well for many people because others are still asleep and you are less likely to be interrupted and/or there are fewer requests for your presence at other meetings or events.
2. Schedule writing time like an appointment. If you have a hair appointment, an eye doctor's appointment, or an appointment for meeting with your child's teacher, you show up. If you consider your writing to be as important as getting your hair cut, your eyes checked, and/or conferring with your daughter's teacher, then set it up as an appointment - and then show up. You can't get your eyes examined if you don't show up for your appointment and you won't get your writing done if you don't show up.
3. Create deadlines. Setting up your own deadlines is a mental trick that works for some brains and not for others. Having a real deadline, however, actually does the 'trick' in many cases. Obviously, if you are writing for a journal with a deadline, writing a grant proposal you intend to submit by the deadline (duh, why else would you be writing it?!), revising your final manuscript to send to your book publisher to meet the editing/printing deadline, and the like, then you have real deadlines that are already established. Other times, you have to create your own 'real' deadlines. Here are some ways to do so:
a. Announce the availability of a product on which you won't be able to deliver if you don't get your writing completed.
b. Schedule an appointment to show your writing to someone who may be able to represent you, publish your work, or make an introduction on your behalf to someone else who would be interested in your work.
c. Meet regularly with other writers who hold you accountable for getting your writing done (because you also do the same for them).
4. Close the door - both literally and figuratively. Heavens knows we can self interrupt when we are supposed to be writing. However, being interrupted by others just when we're making great progress on a piece is frustrating and aggravating. By literally closing the door - and even putting up a sign, you cut out walk-by traffic, drop-in visitors, and others who would divert you from your focus. By 'figuratively' closing the door, you mentally shut out other thoughts, tasks, and diversions. Your mind is powerful and you can use that power to block out distractions - even from yourself.
5. Clear your mind/get in the zone. Related to the previous trick, you can go through a clearing exercise as you begin to write, particularly if you have set aside a significant amount of time to write and/or if you must be hyper-focused in order to accomplish your writing goals. For me, my current ritual involves 1) going to the restroom and drinking a large glass of water; 2) shutting down all electronic distractors, e.g., MS Outlook, telephone ringer; 3) putting all materials that are not pertinent to the current writing project away; 4) wiping off my work area with a wipe, and 5) making sure I have any materials that are necessary for my current writing project at my fingertips. This whole routine takes no more than 5 minutes and is worth every second because it signals my brain that we are about to get ultra-focused and productive with our writing.
Now, stop reading these, put one into practice and start writing...
Hey, we're all in this together, right? If you would like to get inspiration, direction, and structure for your writing, join us for the upcoming tele-workshop & coaching event, "30 Articles in Just 30 Days." Here's where you can learn all the scoop:
You will see what others who have participated in previous events have to say. Check it out!
(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., "The Ph.D. of Productivity"(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh works with bright people who want to be more productive so that they can consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Many first time writers have no idea what parts a book should have in it. I will dedicate this post to giving you the list with brief descriptions based on the Chicago Manual of Style. For much more detail try a free trial at www.ChicagoManualofStyle.org.
Your book may not need all of these nuts and bolts, but here is the entire list in order as they would appear in your book if you used them all:
Front Matter: parts of the book that come before the text
Half Title: a page with just the title on it
Title page: a presentation of the full title of the book, subtitle, name of author, and publisher
Copyright page: the CMS has 21 entries about this page, but the basics are the copyright information and publisher information
Dedication: I love you, mom!
Epigraph: a quote at the beginning of the book. You may also put one at the beginning of each chapter and at the end of the book.
Table of Contents: I think you all know what this is.
List of Illustrations and List of Tables: You should only consider this if you have a large quantity of illustrations or tables.
Foreword: Many spell this incorrectly. This is a statement by someone other than the author. I recommend someone of prominence in the genre or subject matter of your book.
Preface: why you are writing this book
Introduction: This may be written by the author or another person and is normally about the book. i.e. Its origin
Text: This is your argument (non-fiction) or story (fiction).
Parts: Usually numbered and contain two or more chapters each
Chapters: divisions of the book with titles, preferably short and descriptive
Subheads: divisions within long chapters
Epilogues, Afterwords, and Conclusions: these nuts and bolts are an opportunity for the author to make a final statement about the story or subject presented
Backmatter: all the stuff after the text
Appendixes: may include content not absolutely necessary, but supportive for clarification on argument or story
Chronology: a chronological list of events pertinent to the argument or story
Endnotes: these would be the notes from each chapter
Glossary: contains foreign word or unfamiliar terms
Bibliography or reference list: this is self-explanatory
List of contributors: this is usually only used in the case of many contributors
Index: You know what this is.
Colophon: the description of how and by whom the book was designed and produced
If you need any help with editing, design, printing advice, or marketing, contact us for a free consultation:
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
There are millions of bloggers around the world. They all have individual opinions and niche blogs they write for. This is one of the most well used forms of publicity. It is smart to use this medium as an avenue to advertise for your book.
Even after your book has been released, you can use blogging to get the word out for your book. Authors many times use blogs as a means of sharing with potential readers. Some even choose to use this form in lieu of traditional websites. Blogs can be set up to mimic websites and are useful in marketing.
One use of blogs in the marketing process is to announce dates of book related activities. You can write daily on your blog. Most bloggers have some following. This could be a small number of readers, or up to hundreds. Readers tend to pass on information to others. This will allow you to have even more potential traffic.
After your book has been released, you can still use your blog to market. You can write specific information about you book or related to your book in your daily or weekly posts. I also recommend posting information that would be helpful to your potential reader even if unrelated to your book. Example: If you are a children’s author, post some parenting tips. This will allow you to advertise your book and dialogue with potential readers. Fans are created through building a personal connection. What better way to help this process along than to use a blog?
Blogs allow readers to comment about individual posts written by the author. Through this technique people communicate with each other. This communication eventually encourages a following for the author.
Some use their blog to express their individual opinions on literary issues. When readers like your writing, they are more likely to want to know more about you personally. Blogging allows visitors to discover all sorts of things about authors. They also become aware of their new and future projects.
You can generate traffic to your blog by using social networking platforms that allow you to post updates. I use Hootsuite.com because, in addition to many features that would be a post of its own, it allows me to update all of my SNPs with one interface. I schedule the release of posts to occur throughout the day and use links to posts to answer people’s questions on twitter.
Blog tours have become another creative method of marketing books. There are a number of ways to perform a blog tour. Typically bloggers agree to host information about specific authors and their work. This is especially useful when new books are released. This group of bloggers will provide author bio information and links to their sites.
When multiple bloggers participate in a blog tour there may be potentially hundreds if not thousands of readers. Since each blogger has his or her following, this is compounded when there are many participants. With each set of followers, an author will have the opportunity to get publicity for their book.
If even a small percentage of the followers visit the author’s website, the tour will have been successful. This is ultimately true when the visitors turn into customers. Just like a regular book tour a blog tour is beneficial when sales are created.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Chantel “Chani” Christie is a recording artist, model, actress and author. Chani is the United States Youth Ambassador for HIV/AIDS Awareness, as well as a YMCA Youth Spokesperson. Hot on the heels of her bestselling debut book, I Want to Live: A Teenager’s Guide to Finding Self Love, Chani will release her second book, A Girl Has to Look Good! A beauty, fashion and lifestyle Guide. This teen phenomenon is just getting started!
With the 2009 Martin Luther King, Jr. “Excellence in Hip Hop” award already under her belt, she has no plans of slowing down. She has already garnered much attention in the music industry with her debut album entitled “My Dream” selling out twice. “My Dream” is also the work of a number of great producers in the recording industry. Producer Ralph B. Stacy, who has worked with recording superstars Paula Abdul, Pink, Mario, and many more, had this to say about Chani- “Chani is a breath of fresh air and a producer’s dream. [She] is great to work with because of her versatility as a singer.” Chani’s upcoming, and much anticipated, new single is sure to make her a force to be reckoned with.
Chani, currently a junior in high school, has a passion to lead the youth worldwide by not only educating them about HIV and AIDS, awareness but also through her music and books. Beginning her modeling career at the age of three, Chani has over 100 fashion print and runway appearances to her name. She is currently cast to star in the new screenplay, “Proud to be a Colored Girl”, an adaptation of the new bestselling book by the same name, and Chani is sure to light up television screens everywhere in this role.
"I feel as though teens will listen to teens. More so than a parent or guardian speaking down to them, teenagers prefer talking, as well as listening, to their peers. I am beyond blessed to be in a position where I can have a platform to speak to the youth and stress the importance of practicing safe sex, although abstinence is key," says Chani, speaking about her ambassadorship as the United States Youth Ambassador on HIV/AIDS awareness. "A lot of times teens fall victim to bad situations that they become involved in, I want to be a positive role model and encourage them to do the right thing. Go to school and finish their education, set goals and aim for the moon. I feel as though the sky is the limit. If you believe in yourself, have faith that you CAN do whatever you put your mind to and have a positive attitude, you can accomplish everything you want,” Chani said. Chani Christie is wise beyond her years and a role model for youth and adults alike.
New books are published every day, but usually not by an eight year old! Douglas ‘Dougie’ Christie Jr. is ready to publish his second book!
The son of NBA star Doug Christie and model-designer Jackie Christie, Dougie, is fresh off the heels of his first book Dougie Learns to Ride. The extremely popular 32 page fully-illustrated children’s book chronicles Dougie’s challenges in learning to ride his bike. With help from his father, Dougie is able to overcome the difficulty and fear of learning to ride his bike for the first time and then to ride without training wheels; all the while making it a fun learning adventure. Published in December 2008, Dougie Learns to Ride was the first book in the Dougie’s Life series.
The Dougie’s Life series is designed to not only entertain kids across the globe but also to inspire, encourage, and share the powerful lessons that Dougie has learned as well.
In his new book, Dougie Goes to School, Dougie shares his fears, as well as his excitement, about the first day of school. With many children entering school for the first time, or heading back after a long summer, Dougie’s book can be used to ease their own fears about that, often, dreaded first day of school. And to teach them they can overcome anything they set their minds to.
When asked what writing this book meant to him, Dougie said, “I really feel honored to be able to once again share my life, and lessons I have learned, with kids from around the world.”
Dougie spends much of his time reading, studying, or playing outdoors. He also enjoys watching the TV shows “Zack and Cody” “That’s So Raven” and “Hannah Montana”.
Dougie's book is available on Amazon, and everywhere books are sold.
If you need help with illustrating and publishing your children's book, contact us for a free consultation.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
There are many fiction awards given each year to authors around the world. These awards go to some of the most talented fiction writers in the field. The authors nominated for these awards work in all genres of fiction. Each award has its own reputation and prestige. Although there are many fiction awards, there are 5 that are widely sought after.
Guardian First Book Award
The Guardian First Book Award is given to new authors of fiction. These are authors who have not yet published their work. The Guardian First Book Award was first awarded in 1965. This is a British literary award. The winner of this award receives not only accolades; they also get a cash prize. The prize is $5000.
One of the greatest things about this specific award is the fact that it goes to an author who is unknown. This is a way to celebrate new authors, and to encourage future ones.
Young Adult Fiction Award
The Young Adult Fiction Award is an adolescent fiction award whose theme comes from the Michael L. Printz Award. This award targets the area of fiction which focuses specifically on adolescent writing. Today, this portion of fiction is some of the most popular and lucrative. Millions of copies of adolescent fiction are sold in bookstores each year.
Because of this, audiences and publishers are taking notice of this specific genre. Readers can look forward to seeing more and more of these books on bookshelves.
ABC Fiction Award
The ABC Fiction Award is an Australian literature award for the best original, unpublished, adult fiction manuscript. This award also comes with a cash prize of $10,000. The winner will also have their manuscript published by ABC Books.
This award is truly one of the most sought after awards. If the cash prize wasn’t enough, the opportunity to publish is incentive for writers.
Independent Spirit’s Truer than Fiction Award
The Independent Spirit’s Truer than Fiction Award is awarded by Film Independent. Although this award doesn’t hold a cash prize, winning it is prestigious. Many past winners have gone on to accomplish big things in the literary community.
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
The PEN/Faulkner Award is given to the best writer of American fiction. The winner of this award is awarded $15,000. The next 4 runner ups also receive cash. They each get $5,000 awards.
Winners will also be treated to a trip to Washington, D.C. Here, their works will be read aloud in the Great Hall of Folger Shakespeare Library. This award is truly special and comes with wonderful incentives. Because of the reputation that goes along with this award, many fiction writers hope to be able to participate.
Each of these 5 fiction awards are honorable ways to celebrate the great work being done in fiction today. They not only acknowledge the authors of these works, but they also serve as encouragement. Many writers are inspired to work harder, because of their chances to win some of the top fiction awards in the literary world.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Children’s books are a very unique type of fiction. These books need to be patterned to the specific age group the author is writing for. If one is writing for young children, the subject matter should cater to them. Not only would these books be simple to read, they would contain illustrations.
When an author is writing for older children, the writing must mature to their age level. Taking these things into consideration is important when writing children’s books. Children know what types of books interest them and can be harsh critics. This is one reason why children’s books range in not only age levels, but in variety of subject matter.
Authors who want to write for children must come up with an original idea or theme.
This doesn’t mean that the author must think of something that hasn’t been thought of before. There’s not much on that front. It simply means, however, that his or her approach should be original. This requires the author to put his or her personality into the story itself.
Most often these books are brought to life by the presence of a good idea. The author may take similar points from adult books and change them to fit a younger crowd. Some authors simply use their imagination when coming up with unique ideas for books for children. These are some of the greatest sellers in this genre.
Other authors simply begin their writing process with a theme. For instance, the theme could be related to insects. From there the author would expand upon the theme, and add more and more to it. Finally, they will have created, a wonderful literary work, which appeals to the intended audience.
The overall story line is very important when writing a children’s book.
Children know when they read a boring book. In fact, if a work is too dull, a child may not continue reading it. One of the things that makes a work, dull is a flat story line. Authors must place extreme care into the development of their story lines. This is just as important in children’s writing, as it is in adult books.
Story line is even more crucial when it comes to nonfiction. A work of fiction may easily grab the reader’s imagination. But nonfiction must find a way to hit the point directly, while remaining interesting to the reader. Keeping this in mind for young readers will be instrumental in the success of the book.
Creating memorable characters cannot only spark the interest, but also create a following.
Children’s books, particularly fiction, have recently become some of the greatest top sellers. For this reason, authors and publishers are taking notice of this segment of readers. Character development is the main reason why young readers enjoy the books they read. This is certainly the reason why they continue to read a certain author’s work. The most popular characters are the ones that are not only intriguing, but also relatable.
Children enjoy reading about characters, which have similarities to themselves. The experiences may be totally different, but the emotions are understandable.
Whether you choose the traditional or self publishing path, you will need a good illustrator. With 30 illustrators on our team, we can help you properly illustrate your children’s book idea.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Publishers have known for decades that book cover design can be instrumentally connected to sales. Professionally designed book covers draw the attention of potential readers. The visual appeal of a book makes it more likely to be purchased. One that is poorly designed will most often end up remaining on the shelf.
There are a number of ways to ensure that your book’s cover looks great. Traditional publishers rank this topic high in the publishing process. Their goal is to print books that will produce sales, which is why design is crucial. For this reason, most publishing companies have entire departments dedicated to the designing of book covers.
The design department doesn’t haphazardly choose a font.
The font style of titles and subtitles are chosen with direct purpose. They are not lazily chosen for individual book designs. Fonts are selected for two basic reasons. They are to demonstrate the forcefulness of the wording itself. If the title is bold and to the point, a font will be used that illustrates that feeling. Softer topics are shown through the use of more relaxed fonts and colors.
The other important consideration is the book’s subject matter. Books that focus on specific themes often have complimentary fonts. Lettering is used to accentuate the book’s overall subject.
Color also plays an important part in the process of font choice. The color of the letters has to match the rest of the cover’s design. Title and subtitle colors don’t have to be the same as the entire color, but it doesn’t usually clash. If the colors do clash, be sure that it wasn’t an accident. There was a marketing and strategic purpose for the choice.
Cover design takes the theme of the book and brings it to life.
It is common to see a book of a certain subject matter, displaying as much on its front cover. Books that focus on sailing will most likely have some form of a sailboat on the cover. The graphic designs of covers are used to complete an entire theme through the pictures that are used. How the cover is set helps later on in the marketing phase.
What will the book look like spine out from 3 to 6 feet away?
When someone is browsing through a section, they will be looking at your book spine out. Have it designed with that in mind. The title needs to be clearly legible on the spine.
Concerning the front, the title needs to catch the attention enough to get the potential buyer to read the subtitle or turn the book over to read the description and bio.
If you use a subtitle, which I highly recommend for non-fiction. It should clearly define what the book is about in 5 to 7 words.
The description on the back should have one powerful sentence at the top that entices the reader. The paragraph following should be 6 to 10 sentences that sells the book. I recommend an author bio at the bottom.
The title, cover design, and bio are important tools that assist in producing book sales. They are paramount to the whole marketing process. If any of these are poorly designed or placed, it could result in low sales.
Here is an example of a perfect cover design: All the Way Home
If you need help with cover design, call our office for a free consultation:
Friday, September 18, 2009
The cover of your book will often make your first impression with readers. Everyone knows that first impressions are very important. They should be done to the best of the author’s ability. Thought and purpose must be given to cover design. Publishers have long known that a book’s cover is instrumental to the marketing process. In fact, if the cover of a book fails, so does the book.
Publishers value the investment which goes into the publishing process. For this reason, they pay strict detail to how their books’ covers look. The cover represents the author by and large. But it also relates to the publishing company that published it. No publisher wants to be known for poor quality. To ensure this doesn’t happen, entire departments are typically devoted to the production of professional appearing book covers.
Traditional publishing companies invest a significant amount for cover design.
As stated before, specific company departments are dedicated to cover design. Here we could have artists, as well as, graphic experts. Their purpose is to produce the best cover for your book that is possible. There are a number of considerations that go into the whole process.
Cover designers use pictures, graphics, and fonts with concerted effort. None of these cover components are done without a purpose. Each is placed and designed in order to yield the best profit. These departments focus on marketing and pride themselves on producing quality covers.
Self publishers must take cover design as seriously as traditional publishers.
Many companies that help authors self publish, have a cover design option. This option allows the author to pick through some standard templates for their cover design. I do not recommend template covers. You want your book to look as good as a New York Time Best Seller.
Prior to participating in this phase of publishing, an author should familiarize themselves with two things. He or she needs to understand basic marketing techniques. How does cover choice connect to the buyer? What colors are distracting? Study the covers of the top ten bestselling books in your genre.
This is important information. The author should also understand what message they are trying to communicate to the reader. The design of the cover will communicate something, whether positively or negatively. The most effective message an author should want to relay is that of their book’s theme. Covers shouldn’t be chosen because they are liked. They must be chosen for effectiveness as well.
Independent designers will happily produce the cover you want.
Some authors have a specific cover idea in mind, but need help bringing it to life. For this reason, there are many independent graphic design companies. These companies offer a variety of services, some of which include cover design. Working with this type of service doesn't have to be expensive. It may, however, be the best way to ensure that your idea is communicated through your book’s cover.
Designers work to make your idea a reality, and then send you a completed file. Sometimes these projects have to be worked on over time. They can take months in some cases. Once completed though, this file can be used to create the book cover you’ve always wanted.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I reserve the right to try to talk you out of this, but here's how it works.
Traditional publishing companies exist in various sizes and capabilities. Some of these publishing houses focus on specific types of books. Others work with authors of many different kinds of work. This often depends on the size of the company and the number of submissions they are able to accommodate during a given period of time.
There are some publishers which only work with authors of fiction, while others focus on nonfiction books. Depending on the writing projects you are looking to publish, keep this in mind. For instance, if you have a nonfiction manuscript, it many be best to seek publishers who work within your genre.
Looking at the sizes of publishing companies is a great way to determine if they offer what you are looking for. This type of information can only be determined fully by doing research on the differences of these companies. Each provides unique services and benefits for authors.
Authors are required to query publishers about their books. The majority of publishers out there today, do not accept unsolicited manuscript submissions. Some of them, however, will accept a query letter.
In your query, you will give basic information about both your book and yourself. Publishers looking for new work will sometimes respond to your query. They will either want to see some of your manuscript, or they will not.
If a publisher does want to see your work, this doesn’t mean you are going to be offered a publishing contract. This simply means that one to three chapters of your book will be reviewed as a possibility for their company. Both small and large publishers receive many queries and submissions per week. Keeping this in mind, any specific publisher may not respond to your query.
If you receive a response, it may be weeks or months coming. When considering a small publishing house, it is important to note that they generally have a small budget. This means that they probably would not offer you an advance for publishing your book. They may pay some of the expenses necessary to advertise a published manuscript.
Small publishers commonly do what is necessary to make your book available in bookstores. There will be a bulk of work on your part to present your work to the public. You will be expected to participate in book signings and other promotional activities.
Large publishing companies usually offer authors much more than smaller companies. They are able most often to pay higher royalties. The drawback they present is that they typically don’t work with first time authors, especially those without credible agents. Many first time authors look for agents to assist them in the submission process.
The most effective way to decide which type of publisher is best for you, will require further research into their differences. Don’t be afraid to try multiple avenues to present your work to the world. Patience and perseverance are the keys.
We are now offering a package to help you get started on this path. We will professionally write your query letter, copy edit the first 2 chapters of your book, develop a list of 25 key publishers or agents that would be a good fit, and send out and track your query letters. Price: $497
We can also help you self publish including editing, design, printing, distribution, and marketing with retention of 100% of the profit.
Call us for a free consultation.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Because so much of my writing history at the time I created The MoonQuest was linked to desks, deadlines and other people’s projects, the only way I could banish old associations that felt anything but free-flowing was to break all the patterns of my previous writing life.
First I abandoned the computer, composing The MoonQuest’s early drafts with pen and paper. Next, I abandoned my desk, bound as it was to the soul-numbing words that had so recently comprised my livelihood.
Mornings, with a pad balanced on my knee, just before or after breakfast, I allowed The MoonQuest’s scenes to pour from my pen onto the blank page.
Evenings, I input the day’s jottings into the computer.
Some days I needed a more dramatic break from the old to connect with my nascent story.
On those days, I often drove over North Mountain to Baxters Harbour on the Bay of Fundy. There, as the Atlantic surf crashed on the rocky Nova Scotia shore, I sat in the car or on a boulder and let the ocean tell me what to write next.
A one-day change of habit and venue was all it took to put me back on track.
When you feel blocked in your writing, one way to get unblocked is to break the pattern of your normal creative routine.
• If you tend to write on the computer, switch to pen and paper.
• Write in the morning instead of the afternoon or evening, or vice versa.
• If you generally write at your desk, move away from the perceived pressures of your “work” environment.
• Go for a walk to clear your mind.
• Take pad and pen and curl up in a comfortable chair.
• Sit out in nature.
• Move to a favorite café.
• Drive to some place quiet...different...inspirational.
And feel the creative power of your new rhythm.
When you feel blocked in your life, the same principles apply. Break your routine. Get of your rut. Take a risk. Step out of the cocoon of your comfort zone. And discover the new light and life of your infinite potential.
What can you do today to break the patterns that are keeping you rutted in routine? Whatever it is, do it. Now.
MARK DAVID GERSON has taught and coached writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for more than 15 years and is the author of two award-winning books, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy. Mark David is an editor, project consultant and script analyst and a popular speaker on topics related to creativity and spirituality. This article first appeared in his blog of tools, tips and inspiration for writers, The Voice of Your Muse.
Success, and life in general, is a multi-faceted process. Anyone who purports to tell you the one key to success or happiness is either misguided, mistaken, or short-sighted. Each of us have many elements within our daily lives. You have your professional or work life, your family or home life, your friends or social life, as well as your finance, faith, physical health, community involvement, etc.
Overwhelming success in any one area can be totally negated by failure in another area. If you make billions of dollars but have an impoverished family or home life, we could not call you a success. If you have a great career but neglect your physical health, you could not be considered successful.
Success is much more of a balancing act. You must master each of the elements that matter most to you. It is not a snapshot but much more like an epic motion picture. It is always changing, growing, and evolving. You do not achieve success in gardening one time and reach your goal once and for all. Having a wonderful garden is a process. It is always either improving or declining.
One of the most critical elements you must balance to achieve success is your ongoing passion and drive. This is difficult, because you want to also enjoy the process, be thankful for where you are, and take time to smell the proverbial roses; therefore you must strike a compromise between being grateful and being hungry.
If all you want out of life is to earn more, own more, and have more, you will never be successful nor content. On the other hand, if you are totally satisfied with your current condition, you will never reach your potential. I believe that it is easiest to find this balance when we realize that our past success--as well as our hope for future success--is not only about us.
You can experience overwhelming gratitude for the success you currently have when you reflect upon the people that made it possible. No person is an island. All of us are a product of many contributions toward our success made by others, both known and unknown.
You can stay hungry when you recognize that your future success is not simply a matter of you getting more than you have now. We must remember that success comes from the service that we provide to humanity. Just as you cannot succeed without the help of others, you cannot experience more success without being a help to others.
As you go through your day today, be grateful for the people who helped you to get where you are, and be hungry to help others through your future success.
Today’s the day!
For more information about Jim Stovall: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ultimateproductivity.com
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Regardless of genre, there is no hard and fast rule about how many pages or words each chapter should contain or how many chapters should be in a book. However, there are some general guidelines in this article that may help you determine the page count and chapter length needed for your book.
Pages in a Chapter:
Many people read in spurts, at lunch time, or on the subway to work, readers enjoy chapters that can be finished in ten to fifteen minutes.
I try to set my chapter lengths by how long it takes me to read the material. If it goes past fifteen minutes, I may decide to divide a chapter in half and make two chapters out of it. Take into consideration that I write mostly non-fiction.
As you probably know, there's a difference in the way fiction and non-fiction are handled. In a fiction book, writers use shorter chapters. Some are only one page if that is all it takes to catch the reader up on the action of other characters in other scenes. When writing non-fiction, your chapter content needs to be specific to your chapter's heading or title.
Twenty pages per chapter is a good rule of thumb, but the most important thing is to include everything that relates to a particular topic in one chapter. For example, if your book is about fishing, you want to include the bulk of your information about fly casting in one chapter. All your info about bait and lure would be in another chapter.
Chapters/Pages in a Book:
These guidelines should give you a general idea of how to determine the length of your chapters and your book.
If your book is titled "The Accuracy of the US Census" you may have 52 chapters (one on each state). If your book is titled "Ten Tips for Marketing" you may have only ten chapters. There's no rule about how many chapters a book can or must have.
In order to be considered a book rather than a pamphlet or booklet, a book needs to be at least 10,000 words. If your book has more than 475 pages, you might want to consider producing it in two volumes.
Because you will submit your manuscript as an 8.5" x 11" word-processing document, you cannot be certain of its final length until after your publisher formats it for print. I have found that 250-300 words will approximate one page of 12-point font text in a standard size (5.5"x8" or 6"x9") perfect-bound book.
Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS). She and her team of ghostwriters are ready to assist you with writing and editing for books, eBooks, Web text, business documents, resumes, bios, articles, and media releases. For more information about writing, networking, publishing, and book promotion, or to sign up for free email delivery of WITS newsletter, please visit http://www.writersinthesky.com New subscribers receive a free eBook Tips for Freelance Writing.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
You can't beat dialogue for breathing life into characters. Letting them express their own views with their unique speech habits makes them believable. It pulls readers in and involves them in the story. Most writers know this, but many shy away from dialogue. They may believe the myth that you have to be born with a gift or "ear" for it. Others are uncertain about the technicalities, or simply timid about trying something new.
The myth is not true. Dialogue is a skill, and although it does come more naturally to some than others, it can be learned and mastered. The first step is to study the basics. The second is to practice. Keep those fingers moving. The following five tips on writing dynamic dialogue will help you hone this skill.
1. Write like people talk. Spend a lot of time eavesdropping, listening not to content, but to the way ideas are expressed. Immerse yourself in rhythm, local idioms, patterns of interruption and other quirky things. If you are writing memoir, take time to replay mental tapes of the person you plan to write about. Once you get a fix on the sound of their voice, their words will flow from your fingers. Write it just like they'd say it.
2. Tidy up the mess. Every day speech is full of litter words: uhm, er, well, so... and similar noise. People begin sentences and stop halfway through. They interrupt and finish sentences for each other. Leave in just enough of this messiness to keep the dialogue pliable, but prune most of it to give focus and shape to the passage.
3. Make dialogue do double duty. Beginners are inclined to find a spot where they can drop in a few lines of dialogue to meet some imagined quota. While it's true that one main benefit of dialogue is to break up long passages of narrative, that's not a sufficient reason to include it, and it's likely to sound stiff and contrived. Make sure dialogue meets at least one of these criteria:
- It moves the plot along by conveying information, building suspense, or setting a mood.
- t develops characters by showing them in action and allowing them to speak for themselves rather than telling about them.
- It reveals motivation. Readers would far rather hear characters explain themselves, explicitly or by their behavior, than read your explanation of motives.
- It streamlines information. A few words of dialogue can sometimes replaces a full page of narrative.
4. Use precision in tag wording. Dialogue tags describe who is speaking and/or the speaker's behavior. Use the tag words "said" and "asked" sparingly. With a little thought and a good thesaurus, you can find well over one hundred words that can express a combination of state of mind and behavior with precision, adding value to the dialogue.
5. Keep things in balance. Dialogue adds life and vigor to stories, but too much dialogue makes them read like screen plays. There is no magic ratio and some stories call for more than others. Use your judgement and ask discerning friends or writing partners for an opinion if you aren't sure.
Follow these rules, and with a little practice, your characters will leap right off the page.
Sharon Lippincott, the author of THE HEART AND CRAFT OF LIFESTORY WRITING is the go-to gal for anyone who aspires to leave a written legacy of their life for future generations, or to write about their life for fun and personal growth. She conducts classes and workshops on lifestory writing and coaches individuals by phone and e-mail. Contact her via her blog or website for further information about coaching services or an entertaining and enlightening program for your group or conference.
Visit her website at http://www.sharonlippincott.com to download free eBooks and essays. Check out her blog at http://heartandcraft.blogspot.com for hundreds of tips about how to write your lifestory.
There are many elements that go into making a work of fiction worthy of being read. While each part is essential, there are four elements that are vital in transforming your work from a boring jumble of words to a true work of art.
1.The idea - This is where every great work of fiction begins. Ideas can come from various places. Sometimes an idea will just pop into your head or wander in from your imagination, but more often, something in your life will trigger a story idea. A personal experience is a wonderful source for an idea. Many writers come across new topics while working on a completely different project. Ideas can be gathered from television, newspaper articles, or overhearing a story in the checkout line of the grocery store. Story ideas are all around you, so it's important to keep a notebook with you to jot them down when they come to you.
2.The plot - There have been many discussions on whether you should choose your plot or your characters first. Personally, I think you should pick your plot. After all, how do you know who your characters should be if you don't even know what they are doing? The plot is the element that takes your idea and transforms it into a story. It is the part that moves the story from "Point A" to "Point B." In order for your story to be exciting, your plot needs to be exciting. Think of it as a roller coaster. Up, down. Fast, slow. Twist, turn. Your plot should do all of these. The best plots are those that have the reader experiencing opposite emotions in the same chapter. Happy, sad. Scared, relaxed. Assured, in doubt. Keep the story moving, and your reader will continue to flip the pages. Let the story stall, and your book is likely to wind up on the shelf. That's how important plot is!
3.Characters - The next thing every good story needs is good characters. Notice I said "good characters" not just "characters." The character is the person (or sometimes animal) who is living out the story. For the story to be believable, the characters must be believable. Unfortunately, there are many good plots out there that lack realistic characters. The people are dull and lifeless, making it hard for the reader to relate. Make your characters come alive with action, dialogue, and description. Know your character, and help your reader to know him as well.
4.Setting - While this element is not as important as the other three, setting often plays a vital part in a story. Not only does setting tell the reader "where" and "when," but it can also help set the mood. For example, if your setting is on the field of battle in the middle of the Revolutionary War, there is a mood of fear, sadness, and regret. If your story is taking place in a dark creepy house on a stormy night, you have set it up for the perfect mystery.
While there are many other elements in a work of fiction, these are the most important. Master them, and your story will be worthy of being read and hopefully even being published.
Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian freelance writer living in Greenville, SC. For more information on fiction writing, check out LearnWriteNow.com. While you're there, be sure to sign up for the FREE Writing Nuggets.
For daily encouragement, visit her blog, A Word Fitly Spoken.