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#Writerslife: Interview with a character

#Writerslife: Interview with a character published on 4 Comments on #Writerslife: Interview with a character

Writers are advised to write character studies or “interview” their characters. How do you interview an imaginary character? Here to help you is my process.

Beth: Hello, new guy. Welcome to my head. Have a seat and get comfortable.

NG: [looks around] Gee. It looks crowded in here.

Beth: Yeah. I write a lot. Some people like to read it.

NG: Hey, that’s good. You should use it as a tagline or something.

Beth: [clears throat, because Beth has indeed used this a tagline] Let’s get going.

NG: [craning neck] Who are those people over there with the swords? They look dangerous.Continue reading #Writerslife: Interview with a character

#Writing Arts: Master Your Tweet Pitch

#Writing Arts: Master Your Tweet Pitch published on No Comments on #Writing Arts: Master Your Tweet Pitch

Send those Twitter pitches
Send those Twitter pitches
The newest kidz on the block are Twitter pitch events where writers pitch their books in 140 characters or less to catch the attention of agents and publishers. If interested in reading more the agents and publishers like your pitch which is an invitation to query them.

Yes. You must go through the query process. But at least you have an invite and aren’t a stranger knocking at the gate.

Pitch Events are very competitive with only eight to ten percent of submitters gaining that coveted Twitter like. So what is it going to take to make your Twitter pitch shine? What do the agents and publishers look for.

Dan Kobel, an ardent supporter of SFFPit, says that they are looking for the main character’s name, the challenge they face and the stakes.

Great.

Cool.

In 140 characters?

Argh…

Well, it goes a beyond that because let’s face it. Your pitch is a marketing tool. And here I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you want to get the attention of agents and publishers you may have to write like a copywriter.Continue reading #Writing Arts: Master Your Tweet Pitch

The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.

The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis. published on No Comments on The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.

Adverb Word Cloud Pro-Writing Aid, an online program that analyzes your writing and gives you recommendations to improve it. As I was looking at a report on a piece it gave the number of adverbs and recommended that I remove three.

I must have missed this before but I do tend to use the old editor, instead of the report on the new editor.

Hmm.

With a word count and a number of allowed adverbs in hand, I calculated the percentage of adverbs that Pro-Writing Aid said I could use.

And I was shocked.

Those of us that ply the writer’s craft are aware of all the different pieces of advice from different writers, editors, and pundits that basically boil down to “use fewer words to express your thoughts.”

Adverbs, in particular, have received a bum rap. Stephen King wrote in On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft:Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.

The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure

The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure

Over typed keyboard
Over typed keyboard
You’ve sweated, plotted and struck the nubs of your fingers into your keyboard enough times to wear indentations into the keys. The first draft is in your hands. What do you do now?

You fix it.

Even best selling authors have to repair their story structure. Kevin Hearn gives a nice accounting about the process between his editor and him. But you, I’m going to guess, don’t have an editor, at least not a developmental editor, because those puppies are expensive, so it’s a DYI exercise.

You: Hey, I’m a spiffy writer and nothing is wrong with my pretty baby.

Here is the dividing line between an amateur writer and a professional one (at least in intent)–you are willing to tear apart your work ruthlessly in order to make it better. There is no emotion involved in this except the “aw shucks” when you have to kill one of your darlings, or cut a character or scene you love but doesn’t add to the story.

So how are you going to do this?Continue reading The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure

The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener

The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener

The Hero's JourneyYou’ve plotted or pants your way through your novel, spent long months of taking your hero or heroine from there to back again, and then you read it. And die a little inside. Because even though you’ve created engaging characters, put them in gut twisting situations, and gave them a resolution that makes you weep, something is off. Terribly, terribly off.

Your novel drags in places. Goes too fast in others. The beginning is solid, but the middle is soggy. The ending seems rushed. One character seems to overtake scenes they shouldn’t. You think it’s the plotting, but you look at all the elements, and yep, everything is there that you intended as a plotter, or discovered as a pantser. Maybe this is the place you stall. You aren’t sure what to do. Or maybe you suck as a writer (hint: you don’t) and you shove the whole thing (figuratively, because you use a computer) into the furtherest corner of your desk.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

Editing You suck.

As a writer.

No really.

That’s what you are thinking as you contemplate the editing of your work. It is where you confront your worst fears as you embark on the most dreaded of writer’s chores.

Sometimes my first draft is so utterly cringe worthy, I can hardly bear to read it. “What was I thinking?” I’d tell myself when reading my words. How did I write a sentence that convoluted? Why am I using so many filler words? Can I really not find a different word to use instead of writing it three times in the same paragraph? And why the hell can’t I remember where I should and shouldn’t put commas?

Ack! Argh! Hands in face.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author

The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author published on 2 Comments on The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author

Lexical Density In which I examine Pro-Writing Aid recommendations against the efforts of published best-sellers.

In the previous three articles in this series we’ve looked at the findings of a group of researchers at Stony Brook University that linked lexical density to a book’s success, at lexical density compared to writing rules and identified the two hundred most common words as parts of speech.

Now we’ll look at some slightly different elements in the word recipe toward building a great book.Continue reading The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author

#Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach

#Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach published on 2 Comments on #Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach

blogging, writing, pagerank, keywords, how to blog
Increase your pagerank with keywords
Pagerank seems to be one of those little things that many writer-bloggers ignore. Maybe it’s because Google keeps changing the game rules, maybe because so few authors understand pagerank, or maybe because in the hectic life of a writer (must put down words, no time for anything else) it seems a tiny detail in the world of blogging.

It is not.

Pagerank is your SEO report card and if you are scoring a goose egg on pagerank, one thing is not happening. The search engines are not sending traffic your way.

Yes, I know. I gave you five sneaky ways to get website traffic, but if you are in this for the long haul you need every edge you can get. Securing a page rank is one edge. Some authors understand this better than others. Chuck Wendig has an immensely successful blog with a page rank of five for his main site and four for his blog. Kevin Hearne a page rank of four, which is pretty darn good on the Google end for a non-corporate blog. Obviously Kevin had someone do all the shiny SEO thingies to get the blog to that pagerank. The first actual author’s blog on Google, which is on page two is Advanced Fiction Writing which has a page rank of three. Now if someone is looking for author blogs who do you think is going to get that traffic?

Well, not Chuck. (Sorry, Chuck) And not Kevin, despite that page rank (Sorry, Kevin). The winner here is Advanced Fiction Writing who took the trouble of crafting the blog title around what, class? (Holds hand to ear) Continue reading #Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach

The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech

The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech published on No Comments on The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech
Lexical Density Proportions
Lexical Density Proportions

Two hundred words are said to comprise eighty percent of all English sentences. Here is the list broken down into parts of speech. Why? Because you should know what weapons you are hurling at an unsuspecting public.

It’s been nigh many years when the nuns at my Catholic grammar school made me memorize parts of speech at the age of seven and had me parse sentences at the tender age of ten. Funny thing is that my children never had to struggle with such exercises. Instead they were immersed in “whole language” where they were encouraged to write and express themselves whether or not they knew how to wield words. This is such a stark contrast to me and my classmates having to copy compositions and types of letters out of books to learn how to write such things that it is no wonder that writers today use sentence fragments and feel perfectly comfortable using them. Continue reading The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech

The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules

The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules published on No Comments on The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules

The Craft of WritingI took some creative license in the title because we all know there aren’t any rules in writing. There is just some incredibly strong advice. The “rules” vary widely from writer to writer and even from genre to genre.

But there do seem to a few general “rules” floating out there that were captured by a Guardian article where they printed the rules of Elmore Leonard, whose rules seem to be derigeur today.

1.) Never open a book with the weather
2.) Avoid Prologues
3.) Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4.) Never use an adverb to modify “said.”
5.) Keep your exclaimation points under control.
6.) Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”
7.) Use regional dialect and foreign words sparingly.
8.) Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
9.) Don’t go into great detail describing places and things
10.) Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.
Other general admonitions handed out to beginning writers are “show, not tell” which runs along thing lines of Leonard’s eight, ninth and tenth rule. Writers are encourage to “show” what is happening rather than telling or writing the story like a news report.

Leonard’s rules seem to lean toward a lean and clean prose that doesn’t bog the reader down with word thick prose. Anything not essential to the telling of the immediate story is stripped away. What he seems to be leaning toward is “readability,” the facility of the prose to communicate to as many readers as possible.Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules

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