Friday, March 20, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 68

Not much happened this week in terms of writing. Too many other things going on around the house, including my wife's bout with a really bad intestinal flu. Thank goodness, she's beginning to feel better now.

For those of you who stopped by here on Wednesday expecting my scheduled post and found nothing but last Friday's writing links, I apologize. It was nearly time for dinner before I finally managed to finish it. I promise to do better next week.

Enjoy the links!


Reinventing Clich├ęd Scenes

Promo and Business Tools for Writers

Day Twenty: Streamline the Dialog  Janice is doing a whole month of these posts, so be sure to check out the rest of her blog.

Creating an Author Business Plan: Identifying Your Audience

8 Ways Writers Can Be More Reader-Friendly

Increase Tension in Your Screenplay with a Ticking Clock

Want to Start a Writing-Related Company?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to Lead Your Reader by the Nose

Leading your readers by the nose doesn’t sound like something a writer would ever want to do, does it? But when you think about it, all good writers do it. And the successful writers are the ones with enough skill to hide this fact from their readers.

When readers pick up your book, they’re much like newborn children, ignorant of the rules of your world, but eager to learn how it all works. They scour through your words, trying to piece together how your world and characters tick. They pounce on clues, or everything they think is a clue, like a starving person at a buffet.

This is a good thing.

Unfortunately, this also means if you aren’t proactive enough, it’s easy for the reader to head down the wrong path. If you spend too much time on a description, for example, they’ll assume the object/person/setting being described is important, regardless what you meant for them to think. If you neglect to guide the reader via interior thoughts of your characters, you might be shocked by the conclusions your readers come up with on their own. As a writer, it’s your job to ensure every word in the story leads the reader down the right path.

But that isn’t always easy. If you aren’t subtle enough, the reader will know he’s being led by the nose and will resent it. On the other hand, it’s easy to be too subtle. Since you know so much more about the world, what might seem like a clever and subtle hint to you might be darn near impossible for the reader to understand.

I recall a D&D game I played back in college. The dungeon master led us into a maze located within a forest. We spent five or six hours wandering aimlessly around the various twisting paths, battling monsters at every turn, before we reached the treasure at the center of the forest. When the gaming session ended and we packed up our stuff to go home and get some much needed sleep, the dungeon master expressed surprise that it had taken us so long to find the treasure. Apparently, he had experimented with the map ahead of time, trying to judge how long it would take us to reach the goal, and had concluded it shouldn’t take us longer than an hour. The only assumption he made was that whenever a path branched off in different directions, we’d pick the path that moved us closer to the center of the forest, since, as everyone knows, that’s where the treasure usually is. :)

Impeccable logic, to be sure. Trouble is, we didn’t know where the center of the forest was located! Since he had a map with an outline of the forest, he knew exactly which way we should go in every case. But since we had no idea where the forest boundaries were, we had no clue which way to turn. Lesson learned.

So what’s an author to do? How can we know if we’ve struck the right balance? Simple. Find lots of critique partners and beta-readers… and then listen to what they have to say.  And if they ever use the words "I'm confused," sit up and take notice!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 67

It's Friday, the 13th!  Does that worry any of you?  Or do your writing woes far outweigh anything that could possibly happen to you today?

As you've probably already noticed, there was no Wednesday post.  What can I say?  I was still recovering from my vacation.  Besides, I was too busy celebrating the fact I can now see patches of grass around my house again.

Anyway, have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


Should We Change Our Blogging Style?

Deepen the World Building and Setting

Protecting Your Copyrights Online

Marketing Your Series: a Plan for a Solid Launch and Sales for Years to Come

Tips When Writing Multiple POV Novels

How to Build Your Platform and Sell More Books with Podcasting

How To Clean Up Your Manuscript Formatting In MS Word

Friday, March 6, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 66

I wrote this post early (a rarity for me these days) since I'll be flying down to Missouri to visit family on Friday.  Although I'm taking my laptop with me, history suggests I won't accomplish more than thirty minutes of writing  by the time I return on Monday.  Oh well...

I'm still recovering from co-hosting the Insecure Writers Support Group on Wednesday. Whew! Don't know how Alex manages to keep everything running so smoothly.  Thanks to all who stopped by and left comments.

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend!


Use Attitude When Introducing Characters

Book Giveaway Promos Compared: Goodreads, Rafflecopter, and the New Amazon Giveaway

Cut Down Your Word Count with Trust, Trust, Trust

Amazon Advertising Services for Indie Authors, Yea or Nay?

Book Trailers And Using Video For Book Marketing

A Step-by-Step Guide to Dealing with Content Theft

How to Punch Up a Blurb or Query

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Insecure Writer and Remembering Everything I've Ever Learned About Writing

Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Today, I'm co-hosting the IWSG, along with Suzanne Sapseed and Shannon Lawrence. Be sure to drop by their blogs, too!

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fit everything I’ve either learned, or have yet to learn, about writing inside my head without my brain exploding.

Seems as though every week I either learn a new writing technique or, more often, read about a technique I’ve seen before but have since forgotten. Usually, I’m so excited by this new trick, I’ll immediately apply it to whatever scene I happen to be working on. This is a good thing, of course, but I’ve noticed that by the time I get to the next scene, I’ll have come across another good writing technique and will concentrate on that one instead, allowing the previous technique to wither away, forgotten until I read about it again in six months. So I end up having one scene where I focused on changes in emotional levels, another scene where I nailed the descriptions, and a third where I’ve used setting to set the mood. It’s as if I can only handle one technique at a time.

I know many authors use multiple passes to hone their chapters, but I’d have to do fifty passes to apply all the bits and pieces I’ve learned so far. What I need is a scene worksheet. A checklist that forces me to incorporate everything I’ve ever learned into every scene, and not just the technique du jour.

 Do any of you use scene checklists?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 65

Received a lot of good feedback from my online critique group this week.  Not the kind of feedback that makes you want to throw the manuscript into the trash.  The kind that makes you sit back and think "Yeah, these suggestions will definitely make the chapter even better."  The kind that makes you want to immediately jump right back in and rewrite that scene instead of moving on and writing the next chapter like I probably should.

Thought of the week?  I wish Candy Crush had a replay button so I could figure out why seemingly simple moves sometimes result in outcomes vastly different from what I expected.  Sometimes I think the game cheats.  Doesn't stop me from playing it, though.

Enjoy the links and have a great weekend!


Writing the Tight Synopsis

How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?

Getting Your Self-Published Book Into Bookstores And Libraries

The Dark Side of Digital

Going Pro—Earning Rhino Skin & Learning Which Opinions Matter

Volunteering: Marketing’s Best Kept Secret

Follow the Leader: Moving From Scene to Scene

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Character Name Woes

I’ve probably written about this topic before, but I’m too lazy to search through my previous posts. Doesn’t matter, though. I’ve suffered from this problem for years, and as far as I can tell, will continue to suffer from it for many more.

I’m terrible at choosing character names.

I mean really, really bad.

I know other writers suffer from this malady too, but I take it to another level. Consider the fanfic story I’ve worked on for the past six years (Okay, so I’m a slow writer.). Almost half the characters still have placeholder names. Names I’ve ripped from other stories with vaguely similar characters. Names of personal friends. Names from RPGs.  Silly names suggested by my kids. Sometimes I just call them XXX and YYY, which drives my crit partner nuts.

I’m four chapters into my paranormal YA and I haven’t even decided upon a name for my protagonist yet. I toyed with the idea of using “Karen” for a while, but most of my crit partners hated the name, including a CP whose name is Karen. Said it sounded too old for an 18 year old. They suggested I look up common baby names for 1997, which is a good idea, but after perusing the lists, I still haven’t found a name I’m comfortable with.

Strangely enough, I did come up with a name I loved for the protagonist of the MG fantasy I wrote during Nano a few years ago. Unfortunately that manuscript has since been moved to the back burner to let the plot simmer, so it will be a while before I get back to enjoying the benefits of having a permanent name for my MC.

Such is the life of a newbie writer.

So how do you guys pick your character names?

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