Friday, January 27, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 156

I'm pleased to report my cold symptoms are pretty much gone--well, except for the "I feel like sleeping all the time" part. I've struggled to stay awake during work this last week, especially during those "after lunch" meetings, but what's REALLY been hard is finding the motivation to write. The only reason I've managed to write at all is because my crit group submission is due tomorrow. Needless to say, my blog reading has been severely impacted for the past couple of weeks, so I apologize to all of you whose blogs I haven't visited in a while. 

In other news, all the work I'm putting into writing is finally having a positive effect on my family. Last weekend, we saw the new animated movie, SING! I won't give away any spoilers, but an epic disaster occurs three quarters of the way into the movie (right when it's supposed to happen according to standard story structure). My daughter leaned over to me and asked, "This is the "all-is-lost moment, right?" I nodded, pleased that she'd spotted it. Then my wife, who was sitting on my other side, leaned over and whispered, "The all-is-lost moment, right?" 

I nodded again, then wiped the tear from my eye. I've never been prouder as a writer. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


The Most Important Question in Storytelling: “Why?”

"Going Wide" Part 2 - Gaining Traction on Kobo

Selling Books Through Social Media Vs. Selling Books Through Ads

How to Write First-Person Internalization

How to Keep Readers Happy When Your Character’s Unlikeable

How to Liven Up Your Mentor Character

Story Genius on Backstory

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Writer Versus the Reader

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

It occurs to me that the writer and the reader are often at odds. This may seem surprising since both would appear to want the same thing—a great plot, colorful characters, fantastic settings, emotions that bleed through the page, etc. Where they disagree, however, is on how to get there. 

Consider the relationship between the reader and the main character. Writers expend a lot of energy getting the reader to bond with these characters, with the expectation the reader will want to cheer for them and root for a happy ending. But then what does the writer do? He/she has the character do something that makes the reader want to scream, “No, you idiot! That’s the wrong choice!” 

We’ve all read books/seen movies where the guy decides not to ask the girl out on a date because of his fear that she’ll say no, despite it being patently obvious to the rest of us she’s desperately in love with him. Or the characters whose story-worthy problem would be solved if only they had made the obvious choice in the first place. Or the superhero who could pulverize the bad guy in the first quarter of the book if only they’d get off their butt and act. Arg!!! 

Of course, the writer does this for a reason. Stories are about the hero’s journey, not just the final outcome. Otherwise books would end way too soon and the reader wouldn’t receive the appropriate dopamine rush. Of course, once they’ve finished the story, readers will tell themselves they’re happy the character took the wrong path, because it made the final victory sweeter, but who do they think they’re fooling? Those readers spent most of the book desperately wanting to reach into the book and wring the character’s neck. 

And what about when the writer keeps throwing challenge after challenger at the character. The main reason readers turn the page is because they want to see the character they’ve bonded with succeed in the end. But every time the writer throws in a new challenge, the reader has to wait that much longer for gratification. After a while, they just want the writer to stop tossing in obstacles and let the character win. “But the dopamine rush will be greater if I delay the end as long as possible,” the writer calmly explains. To which the reader screams, “I don’t care. I want my happily-ever-after now, even if I have to skip to the end of the book.” 

So it all comes down to a balancing act. As a writer, it’s your job to frustrate your reader as much as you can for as long as you can, without the book being hurled across the room in frustration. And the reader’s job is to appreciate the journey and keep reading to the end, no matter how much they want to scream at the character/author during the first three quarters of the story. 

What book has made you scream the most?


Friday, January 20, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 155

My cold is mostly gone. Yay!  Unfortunately, the wife and kids now have it. I won't even bother to predict how much writing occurs this weekend.

Check out the following Dilbert cartoon.  Writers will appreciate the humor.  Due to IP concerns, I'm only providing a link instead of embedding the cartoon into this post. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the rest of the writing links!


Story Structure and The Hollywood Formula

The Ultimate Guide to Pitch Writing

Free Books: The Dilemma

The Craft of Characterizing on the Page

Why I Launched a Secret Pen Name

The Triangle of Likability: How to Make Your Characters Come Alive

4 Core Components of an Awesome Sidekick Character

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 154

Question:  When is the worst time to come down with a cold and chills?

Answer:  The day after your furnace breaks down.  

It's not quite as bad as it sounds.  The furnace is partially functioning, so the house is holding somewhere around the low 60's.  And we have a gas fireplace that helps keep the family room warm.  

Last night I attended my monthly critique group meeting and received some positive feedback on my story.  That's the kind of thing that fires up my creative writing juices and I usually attack my manuscript the next day with a vengeance.  Right now, however, all I feel like doing is crawling under an electric blanket and sleeping for a day or two.   Hope this cold goes away soon.  

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Creating a Print Book Box Set

The Perfect Back Cover Blurb

Crafting a Powerful Set-Up

How to Use Instagram As An Author Plus 10 Ways to Grow Your Account Organically

Planting the Clues and Hints in Your Story

Negotiating Options in Publishing Deals

How to begin a novel: 7 steps to captivating first chapters

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Silly Ways to Pull Me Out Of A Story - Example #1

The other day I came across the following advertisement for a book. 

 Earth Has Been Found 
by D F Jones 

From a world far beyond our own, the ultimate invasion is here. Earth has been found by a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent – sinister parasitic creatures that took to their human hosts with deadly speed and bloodthirsty precision. 

Note the words I italicized: “a horde of creatures that not even the wildest imagination could invent.” Hmmm… If that's true, then how on earth did Mr. Jones invent them?  Is he from another planet, perhaps, one that has these creatures running around for him to see? 

Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Mr. Jones. This is only an advertisement and one expects a certain amount of hyperbole in sales copy, but it reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. 

How many times have you watched a television show (or read a book) where the main character is questioning a suspect about a crime they’re accused of committing, and after the suspect fervently/tearfully/dramatically protests his innocence, the main character turns to his partner and says, “This guy must be innocent. No one’s that good an actor.” Of course, that suspect is an actor, so not only does the statement strike me as ridiculous, it reminds me that I’m watching a television show instead of experiencing it as a spectator. 

Or how about when a character announces that he believes someone else’s crazy story because “no one could dream up a story like that.” Uh, you mean besides the person who wrote the show in the first place? Makes me wonder what a writer feels inside when he makes a character say “you have to be a genius to have come up with this idea.” 

Perhaps this doesn’t bother anyone else, and I’m happy for you if it doesn’t, but lines like this pull me right out of the story. It’s like the writer is kind of bumping up against the fourth wall without actually breaking it. 

Anyway, that’s my lame rant for today. 


PS, if these kind of lines didn’t bother you before, but they do now after reading this post, I'm sorry.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 153

It's cold up here in southeast Michigan. 

Now I'm sure people in the Upper Penisula might scoff at this, along with people living in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, etc., but I don't care. January is just too early for the really cold weather to be upon us. 

You'd think this kind of weather would keep me indoors as much as possible (and you'd be right) and that my writing production would increase proportionally, but you'd be dead wrong. Between the cold temperature and the early onset of darkness, I find myself thinking about how nice it would be to crawl under the covers with my Kindle long before bedtime rolls around. Sitting in front of my computer and typing just doesn't give me the same warm fuzzy feeling. 

I'm sleeping late tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see if I manage to stay up and write tonight, or if I cave and go to bed early. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Using Amazon KDP Ads to Sell Your Ebook on Amazon

Using a narrator character to create a mythic story

Backstory isn’t Character

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Master Plan?

Surprise me

Tips for Weaving Romance into Your Novel

Selecting the Right Sentence Structure for the Right Emotion

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Being Positive

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

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Perhaps this isn't an appropriate attitude for an IWSG co-host, but I don't care.  We're only four days into the new year, and my plan is to meet the new year with unbridled optimism.  No worrying about being a slow writer.  No worrying about whether my words are good enough.   Heck, I even found an inspirational quote for you.  

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

But wait! There's more!  The winners of the IWSG Anthology are being announced today. Woohoo! And if that's not enough to get your writing juices going, Tara Tyler has stopped by to talk about her love of dragons! How much more inspirational can you get? 

But before we get to Tara, let's tackle January's IWSG question.

What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

For me, it's the rule that says showing is always better than telling. Showing does have its place, and when applied correctly, has made my stories much, much better. However, the time I've spent stressing over whether a minor phrase is or is not telling has cost me too many sleepless nights and brought my productivity to a standstill.  Experience has since shown me that readers just don't care about details like that.

Now that that's out of the way, take it away, Tara.  

I <3 Dragons!

I've been enamored of dragons since I could read. Sorry, not the scary Chinese dragons, but the dashing, dangerous dragons that knights went out to fight. I enjoyed reading many dragon stories such as the Anne McAffrey series and Piers Anthony's  Xanth series had loads of diverse dragons. I also adored many dragon movies - Dragonheart, Dragon Slayer, Desolation of Smaug, HP and the Goblet of Fire, and my favorite favorite - How to Train Your Dragon!

image courtesy of Cartoon Bros
I was crazy about dragons - so of course I collected them... This is my room during my senior year of high school. I was a complete nerd!

It just makes sense that I would write about dragons! In Broken Branch Falls, the beasts befriend a dragon prince, become dragon friends, and ride dragons. In Cradle Rock, Flora is on the cover and she's an integral part of the story - innocent and shy, but strong-hearted, and she has allergies making her sneeze fire at the worst times...

I still dream dragon-size. I even dressed up as a dragon for a sci fi con this summer...

How about you? Do you like dragons? Have a fave? Remember any collections from when you were a kid?

Thanks so much for having me, Ken! I hope you all had a great holiday and are starting off the year on a good note! La!

Thanks again, Tara.  I don't know anyone who doesn't like dragons.  
By the way, the other co-hosts for this month are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardnerso be sure to stop by their blogs and thank them.


CRADLE ROCK, Beast World Book Two
by Tara Tyler

Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently she has two series, Pop Travel (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures). To squeeze in writing, she economizes her time aka the Lazy Housewife. Make every day an adventure!

Talk to me!
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