Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Editing Help

Auto Crit Editing Wizard is this week's Writer's Websites Wednesday post. This is a great  help for all writers and especially new ones.  Yes, I want to say up front I am an affiliate, however, I've used this editing software and what a  help it is for improving your writing. It picks out often repeated words to bring to your attention, points out cliches and redundancies, makes you aware of slow pacing and dialog tags. It really does bring things to the writer's attention that need to be addressed, then it's up to you as the writer to decide on the fixes. An excellent way to get through that first edit.

And, here's the great part there are a variety of memberships available and one of them is free.  It's a great way to test drive or to just use that as your editor help.  If you chose a higher membership there is a yearly fee. 

Definitely gives the writer a boost.  Try it, you'll like it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Beginning Writer

I just read an article by a writer I normally appreciate and agree with on many levels.  This time, I didn't.


The person in question was giving tips on how to get started in a writing career and how in order to begin the writer must not begin by writing books, but rather find other venues to begin with and to launch yourself.  Things like writing for magazines, swimming through the frustration, moving forward, dealing with rejection, and more.  Oh, and don't forget newspapers, she mentioned beginning writers write for newspapers.

Okay, now I'm not belittling her viewpoint as it is her own, but I don't happen to share it. 

By now you all know I'm a writer of books - books, and well, more recently screenplays.  And here's the thing.  I went totally against her rule.  I began writing by writing books. I didn't want to write anything shorter or to begin by writing articles or short stories for magazine.  That wasn't me. 

I took English courses in school, aimed at improving my writing. In high school and college I took English courses.  And I did a lot of self teaching. I dug into things, found help where I needed it.  Found ways to talk to other writers and I wrote.

I wrote a lot.

I wrote books. Novels. Fiction.

It seems a bit off the wall to me to take the position that a writer hasn't become a writer yet so therefore should begin writing with things that are not your forte or that bore you to tears. 

Do you need to develop your writer's voice?  Yes. 

Do you need to have the tools to put forth your ideas in clear and proper language?  Yes.

Magazines are fine IF you want to write for magazines.  And, yes, it might help you to earn some bucks if you can write for magazines, or newspapers, or other venues to help boost your writing abilities. 

BUT, that doesn't mean you should put your first writing love aside UNTIL you master the others.  If books; writing fiction is your first love, then write.

After you've written, proof it, edit it and pass it to others to get input.  That input may not always be good, but that is for you to decide.  Should you get professional editing? Probably. 

Here's the thing, from my personal experience, and I've published 15 books and optioned several screen plays, you must follow your joy. I've been side-tracked a number of times and have always regretted it.

One thing I have done though, is write for different genres, different venues such as articles, biography, even short stories, but most of that I did AFTER I'd had my book(s) published.

So here it is in a capsule.  

You need to learn to write tight (screenwriting can really teach you that) and your own ability to cut, cut, cut.

Learn to write fast.  This is one that really works for me.  Might not for you so much.  But the faster I write, the better.  Editing comes later.

Learn to research well. Doesn't matter what you write, you're going to have to research sooner or later, most likely sooner. So realize you have to research and learn to do it well.

Learn to listen to an editor.  Whether a pro you hire to edit and review your book or the one at the publishing house where you just sold your book. No, they're not out to get you or to make your life miserable. Generally they want to help you put out the best book you can. They're not always right, but they are always worth listening to. You can talk to them about your writing, really.

So, while having credits to show an editor is always good, it's doubtful a science fiction editor is going to do much more than glance in passing at your magazine article credits on gardening or cooking. Granted, those show you can write and meet a deadline, but they don't showcase your fiction writing abilities.

So, moral of this tale? For me it always has been and always will be, write what you love.  Follow your joy.  Oh, and if writing doesn't bring you the joy you thought it might when you started out, find something else you love. Writing should not be torture. Forgive yourself if you took a wrong turn. But if you love writing, then write what you love.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Dropbox

As writers we write a lot of stuff. We also have things we want to protect like photos, scanned contracts & more.  So what do we do if the computer crashes and takes everything with it?  Cry? 

Before that happens you might check out Dropbox.  This is a little tour to give you the scoop on what it's all about - online storage, but more. You can share, sync up with phones, etc. Basic is free, but if you need more space you can earn it by referring others to their site or purchasing more space.  Worth a look.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writing Up The Little Guys - Creating Authenticity In Your World

Our world is full or people, places and things. So should the world your writing creates. If you want it to feel real, to draw the reader in (and I know you do) then you have to write to create a living breathing world.  Whether it's just down the street in your neighborhood or set in the distant reaches of space it is imperative that you fill in the details, make things real.


Well for one thing, the world is full of 'walk-on' characters, people like waitresses, car mechanics, fast food servers, grocery check-out folks, bank tellers, pedestrians, security guards, cops, nurses - well, you get it. A good place to get a feel for this is the movies you like. Play a DVD or get a download online and pay attention to the background characters. Most are background, literally, you see them move around, but that's about it.  A few sort of cause something to happen or have a line or two of dialog, but are not a focal point in the story so they do what they do and then move on.  So with this in mind, remember your writing is going to reflect that as well.

You'll need to write in minor characters, sometimes important ones (as backdrop goes).

What about these people?

Well, they need no more than one or two lines of introduction. Probably they don't need names and just a bit of description is enough.

Focus on details.

Maybe the kid on the bicycle is skinny with a "TinTin" haircut and oversized jeans. Maybe the burger flipper is tall, skinny, wearing bright yellow and has dirty fingernails. The PTA mother could have flaming red hair and a temper to match. Maybe the baseball coach is revealed to be bald when he jerks off his cap and throws it into the dust in disgust.

You'll need to create these secondary characters with your writing so they form a backdrop for your main characters and don't steal the show themselves. They are actually more like 'things' than actual 'people' though of course they must be portrayed as real, not cardboard cut-outs.

All this means you need to strike a balance. Don't get carried away and write in too much punch for your minor characters. Through these characters give your readers taste of the environment they, and your main characters, occupy. Your minor character might even have a line or two of dialog, but what you're writing is to push the plot along.

And at times all you'll show through writing and words is a crowd scene, or a scattering of people with no real defining traits. More backdrop. If you're talking about a stadium full of people, a street scene or the opening run at Macy's bargain basement, you're not going to write descriptive passages about all the people occupying those scenes. Just the main characters and perhaps a minor character or two. The rest create a crowd and backdrop.

You might skim a couple of your favorite books with all this in mind and see how the writers of those books handled their lesser players. And if you'd like to read a bit more about creating minor characters click here.  But again, the article is about writing minor characters - not the ones who fill your written crowd scenes. 

Play with it, have fun. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - The Other Side Of The Story

I stumbled across Janice Hardy's blog, The Other Side Of The Story the other day and I must say, I like it. She offers over 500 articles on writing fiction along with online resource links, guest posts and of course info about her and her books. Lots of tips and helps in those articles and guest posts. Definitely worth a look. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Writing Your Novel - Tormenting Your Hero

It's a lovely, sunny day after much needed rain so what could be a better writing topic to discuss than tormenting your hero?

We all know that every hero needs an adversary - the "anti-hero". That pretty much goes without saying. But there's more to tension and a good story than the good guy vs. the bad guy slugging it out. There are all those other characters - sort of like the family members you might like to forget.

Think about all the books you've read and for that matter, the movie's you've seen. There are all sorts of things going on in the background that add zest to the story and there's usually that character, a good-guy character, who drives your hero or heroine nuts, inadvertently puts obstacles in his or her path, pushes their buttons, and is generally a pain for the hero/heroine to deal with, yet can be a best friend, a close relative, a meddling co-worker or any other of a thousand possibilities.

This isn't the villain, the bad-guy character, but might be a side-kick or perhaps even simply a thickheaded character as in someone in authority above the hero who cannot be convinced to the hero's cause and ends up being deliberately obstructive.

Some examples of more prickly characters to torment your hero might be a superior police officer who takes the hero off the case. Or it could be a senior reporter who won't pass along story details because he or she doesn't want the junior reporter to get the credit for a story or in politics it might be an elected official who stops an investigation that would put the folks who bought and paid for him in jeopardy. These aren't the hero's buddies, but they aren't the villain (though they can be nasty) and they most certainly serve the same purpose - distraction, tension, obstacles.

Or, if it's not a character deliberately trying to side-track the hero as in the above paragraph, it might be a friend who's always in the wrong place at the wrong time putting him or herself in jeopardy or  working at cross-purposes with the hero's intent, meaning no harm, but serving his or her own purpose. Writing these characters into your novel can create all kinds of interesting problems complicating the story by throwing up all sorts of roadblocks to the hero's progress. It can create amusing an/or deadly situations.

Whichever way you want to go, whether an overbearing authority figure throwing in 'monkey wrenches' or a more 'loveable side-kick" type remember when you begin to develop the character, it needs to be one in a position to annoy, get in the way, thwart and generally be a royal pain. With that kind of a character in the story, a sort of friendly adversary, your hero gr heroin will get plenty of chances to struggle, verbally spar and generally showcase his or her ingenuity and the stuff from which he or she is made.

Oh, and remember when writing your story, don't allow room for character confusion regarding your lesser characters. Take things as they come, don't try to throw too many characters at your reader at once. Don't refer to one character by several different names and when introducing a character for the first time give the reader his or her whole name. Then writing can proceed with just calling that character by one name, the one you stick with all the time.

Got the basics?  Okay then, go out there and torment your hero!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Dumb Little Man

Okay,  Dumb Little Man isn't only a writer's site - it's an everyone site.

I like the writing and I like the helpful tips for life. Read 3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Brainpower and check out the others. He promises to weekly provide tips that will save money, increase productivity or simply keep you sane.  Let me know if you like it too. 

I don't think he's so dumb...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Writer's Book Signings - Out & Beyond...!

First of all when we writers talk about book signings let's think if it's worth it at all. 

That depends on what you hope to accomplish.  If you believe you'll get fabulously wealthy from all the extra books you sell at the author signing event - ummmm, think again. 

It can be fun, meet your fans, renew acquaintances, sell a few books, get your name out there for recognition and future sales from lots of other sources.  That's what it's really all about. Oh, and selling a bunch of books is good too. Or maybe being part of a charitable day that helps a worthy cause and gains you some exposure.

Be aware these days, in a general sense it's more difficult to get people to book signings - and not just because you, the writer, happened to have a signing on a bad weather day.  Whatever it is: the economy, the price of gas to get there, the pressure they feel to buy if they actually attend the author signing event or the surging E-book revolution making it simple to download that new book right at home, the simple fact is fewer folks are coming out.

So time for writers to get more creative, right?  Of course there are the usual places to hold book signings: bookstores, libraries, conventions and conferences - all relating to books, right?

Those are always great and not to take anything away from them, but expanding your thinking as a writer can help as well.  If the book you've written and published is a romance perhaps you could interest a perfume, jewelry or department store with such a large department in a book signing. You'll need to talk to the store manager and get them interested. Perhaps clothing stores as well. If you promote and they promote it can be a win-win for everyone.

If the novel you've written is historical in nature and appropriate perhaps you could have a signing at an event - a Renaissance fair or a civil war reenactment or some big anniversary celebration or even in a historic cemetery (it has been done). Make the connection, then see if you can fit in.

And try to make connections with people as well. Do you already know someone connected to a store or event who you can talk to?  If not and if you do a cold call, an approach, see if you can stir up interest.  If not, thank the person for their time and move on.  If you were to succeed into pushing someone into having a book signing when they have little interest, the turn-out will be much less.

Written a book that could somehow be linked to cooking and food?  How about kitchen stores (or departments)?  Does your book in some way incorporate or revolve around a holiday?  How about checking out card and gift stores?  Plants, gardening and dirt? Maybe a nursery or at a botanical garden.  Boats and the ocean or some aspect a central force in your novel?  You might be able to take that cruise - but before you go convince the ship to host a book signing at sea. Live near a ferry - you might be able to do a book signing there if something ties in. Moving venues are fun and exciting.

Work with the 'host' - wherever that may be.  Make sure there's food and drink of some kind available. Funny how that always seems to draw people in. Oh, and be sure to have some help. If you have a great turn-out you'll need an assist to keep the food supplied and with renewing your stacks of books.

See what kind of advertising the host might provide and then don't stint on helping with your own. Announce it on your social sites, send out postcards to your mailing list if you have one. And let your host know you're doing it in such a was as to promote the shop or location as well as your book AND the event.

Use your imagination and cast your net far. Book signings live and you can have a great time doing them.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Backworlds by Sci Fi Writer M Pax Launches

 I'm excited!  This is the week! M. Pax launches her new series...

The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds
After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

It’ll take a few weeks to work its way down to free on Amazon Kindle. It will also be available on B&N and iTunes. Sign up for M. Pax’s mailing list to be notified the day it does go free on Amazon, and when the book becomes available at other outlets. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on future publications. NEWSLETTER

M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

The sequel, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, will be released in July 2012. It will be available in all ebook formats and paperback.

I've read her work before and really enjoyed it!  Get the first installment free.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Writers Cafe

Yes, yes, I know, it's actually Thursday an I missed a post last week, but well, I was on vacation - away from computers and electronics.  A very good break to take now and again. 

So, for the  one day belated post this week I offer Writer's Cafe. It offers publisher information for submissions, free writing classes, agent info, writing contests, and more.  Wander around, check it out, see what you think. I believe you'll find some good stuff here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oh, Horrors! Writing for the Horror Genre

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a horror writer though I've given thought to pursuing that line.  Nonetheless, I know a bit about it and as a professional writer I know a lot about that.  So I decided to ponder the genre a bit and discover what thoughts come of it.

First, and sadly, that particular genre is frequently depicted as bloody, violent, gory and disgusting beyond words.  Many people avoid reading in that genre just because of that.  And, while it's true there are some written that are filled with mindless violence, little plot, lots of blood and shock, there are many others that are just oozing with atmosphere, emotion and a great story.

Writing for horror means the writer has to be skilled in many ways as any other writer, developing characters, creating plot twists and snappy dialog in order to create a gripping tale.  And the horror writer goes a step further, taking us by the hand to lead us into the dark unknown. I say dark because that's usually the kind of unknown the horror writer is exploring.

I enjoy reading some horror which is why I'm contemplating writing it.  I enjoy the chills and the anticipation, the twists and the unexpected. Be they ghosts, creatures, slithering things, aliens intent on mayhem, or the great beyond.

So how does a writer get there?  Well, as with all writing we know the reader is willing to suspend disbelief, to enter the world of your creation, but the writer has to give the reader a reason to read.  There has to be a beginning hook of some kind.  The story can begin normally and slowly draw the reader into 'weirdville' or it can start out strange and just accelerate.

Description is exceptionally important while writing horror. It's a great place to practice if you want to send shivers up your readers' spines. I've noticed short passages, written well are the key.  Enough to really get me on edge, then draw back a bit. The writer who's careful not to overdo it, to hit just the right balance is the one who creates the vivid details by tapping into all the senses and alternately picking those most appropriate to the scene.

The writer, no matter what kind of characters he or she creates, be they vampires, werewolves, ghosts or aliens, must create characteristics within them that make them appealing and yes, no matter what, human.  The characters don't always (horror? - maybe hardly ever) have to be likeable, but they do have to be engaging. The reader must have characters that can be identified with.

Check out some of the more recognizable horror authors: Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, Stephen King, Anne Rice. Notice the charisma they've injected into their characters via appropriate names, appearance, action.  Notice how they've created characters who aren't perfect.  The hero or heroine of the tale often screws up, thinks unkind thoughts or does something 'politically incorrect'.  If the reader can empathize with the character then the character takes on life and breathes.

I've also noted that frequently the main character in a novel has the least amount of description.  This trick allows the reader to imagine themselves in the same situation - no matter their own 'real world' attributes. So keeping it simple seems the best route.

Now I'll mention this because it's so true, for horror or any writing for that matter.  Don't name your characters too close together.  Don't write a story with a "Mary" and a "Marie", a "Mat" and a "Cat", a "Harry" and a "Mary".  Anything which is just to close confuses the reader and a confused reader is not a happy reader.

Hmm, after writing this I may be writing a horror tale soon.  If you're so inclined as well, have at it, Read, a lot, then create your own thing that screams in the dark.

Other Posts Of Interest:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...