Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Using a Blog to Market Your Book

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 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

Meet the 16 Year Old Triple Threat They Call Chani

by Ryan Sheehan

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.


by Ryan Sheehan

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

What are the Top 5 Fiction Awards?

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

How to Write an Award Winning Children’s Book

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

How to Design a Cover that Sells

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

What’s the Big Deal about Book Covers?

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

How to Get Traditionally Published

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

New Rhythms, New Routines

By Mark David Gerson

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 cafĂ©.
• 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.

Grateful and Hungry

by Jim Stovall

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: or

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Writing - Page Count and Chapter Length

By Yvonne Perry

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 New subscribers receive a free eBook Tips for Freelance Writing.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Five Tips For Writing Dynamic Dialogue

By Sharon Lippincott

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 to download free eBooks and essays. Check out her blog at for hundreds of tips about how to write your lifestory.

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Is Your Fiction Work Worthy of Being Read?

By Dana Rongione

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 While you're there, be sure to sign up for the FREE Writing Nuggets.

For daily encouragement, visit her blog, A Word Fitly Spoken.

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