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The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book published on 1 Comment on The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Secret To Writing Now, not to disparage those writers that have spent the last four decades polishing their magnum opus, but there comes a time to finish a book. Like a relationship gone bad, it’s a bit ripe and it’s time to move on already. Aren’t there other stories you want to explore? Don’t you have a folder of story ideas that are weeping for your attention. You know there is. So how to do it?

Now confession time. I’m sitting on my high horse here, even though I’m one of though aforementioned authors. But things have changed for me in writing land as I’ve taken on some ghostwriting projects, (because you know, a girl’s gotta eat) and nothing is a daunting as writing up someone else’s ideas on a schedule. A very tight schedule. It’s the type of schedule where you mess around all weekend and come Monday you have 10,000 words due on Wednesday and you don’t get paid if it doesn’t get done. It’s like doing NaNoWriMo everyday of your life.

To do it you have to have a master plan, as well as a decent typing speed. I’ve developed a strategy that’s helped tremendously. Do you want to hear it? No? Well I’ll tell you anyway.

It starts with Scrivener.

Scrivener is such a useful tool that I’ve never regretted the forty bucks I spent on it. This is unusual for me, because as cheap as I am, I regret spending money on the laundry. Scrivener however, makes writing books fast and easy.

There are always discussions about being an outliner or a pantser, and each writer has his or her style in putting out a story. Using Scrivener doesn’t make a pantser an outliner, but it sure can help you set up your goals into manageable pieces. Instead of looking a blank page you can look at blank folders ready to fill with your writerly goodness.

Step one: decide your word count. Now wait? Doesn’t your story evolve organically? How can you decide a word count? Well the industry does that for you, with different genres having a different word counts that are considered more desirable than others. A romance book can get away with 50,000 to 60,000 words, but a SF epic can’t get away with less than 80,000. Your word count is pre-decided based on your genre. Don’t worry. You’re a writer. You can do this.

Step two: decide how many chapters you want. This is highly dependent on what you are writing. If you are writing short e-books, depending on the word count you will 5 to 10 chapters. Larger works will have more. But if you aiming for 60,000 words, you’ll end up with 20 to 25 chapters. Just pick a number. It’s not set in stone. That’s the beauty of writing. You are working with words, not paint or clay that dry up while you work.

Step three: Divide word count by chapters. Viola, you have target word counts for each chapter.

In Scrivener you will now go and set up folders for each chapter. And after you do that add sections to each folders for scenes. I usually set up three to four scenes per chapter, though again, that’s not set in stone. It is good to add variety to the number of sections you use per chapter. Let your creativity be your guide as you write.

Now, here is the thing that will have you shaking your head. Set a word count for each scene. Yes! You will do exactly that. You’re a writer. You have words to get out and you don’t have time to shift this little thing to that little thing to make a decent chapter. Nope. You are going to do this from the get-go.

Say I’m working on a 10,000 word ebook. Here I’ll set up 5 chapters at 2,000 words each. In each chapter I’ll set the opening scene at 400 words, the second at 1000 and the last at 600. This gives me a frame work to move from chapter to chapter, though if inspiration strikes, that goes out the window. Still I know I’m going to hit the target of 2,000 words for that chapter. So if I’ve got 400 words to fill one section that’s what I’m going to do. It calls on your creativity, and you may get more detailed than you originally intended, but that’s good. Hit 2,000 words, wrap it up, move to the next chapter, wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s how you finish books.

It’s what Chuck Wendig says, write as much as you can, as fast as you can, and finish your stuff!

Editing it. That’s another post.

Happy Writing.

Mug is Chuck Wendig’s Secret to Writing available here.

The Comeback of Serial Fiction

The Comeback of Serial Fiction published on No Comments on The Comeback of Serial Fiction

Buck Rogers Serial Poster The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Do you remember Buck Rogers? Not the campy television show, but the shorts that used to come on in the movies before the main show? Okay, I’m dating myself here, even thought by the time I got to see them they were filling a hole in the Saturday morning cartoon slots.

During the first part of the twentieth century serialization of stories was the norm. Pulp SF magazines serialized novels, radio shows serialized all sorts of stories (Who knows? The Shadow knows. Mmmaawwhha.) Eventually television came along, and television series arose, building on the dying bones of the radio series.

But somewhere between the late twentieth century the culture changed. It was a slow implosion that shifted readership of many different forms of print. The people who best documented this was the newspaper industry. Up to the 1990’s daily circulation rose and then held firm at a little over 60,000,000 households. Then, despite the growing population, circulation numbers started to fall, like a rock. And curiously, though, during the years of 70’s all to the current year the number of households grew. And another trend emerged. During the 1970’s nearly every household in the United States took at least the daily newspaper. By the nineties this was no longer true. Despite a rapidly growing population, people read the paper less.Continue reading The Comeback of Serial Fiction

Writing: #Whatyoucan’tdo

Writing: #Whatyoucan’tdo published on No Comments on Writing: #Whatyoucan’tdo

Freelancer Process Being raised a #goodcatholicgirl I got a big dose of “#whatyoucan’tdo”. I even had an older male relative tell me when I eight years old, that girls didn’t become doctors. Geez. It was an overdose, really, enough so I immediately threw out all the rules as soon as I left home for good.

During my life breaking or bending the rules became a personal theme for me. Oh, not in and out-n-out rebel- without-a-clue way. And no, you don’t get details. But in dealing with my corporate career I broke more than a few, to the chagrin of my employers. They punished me with successive promotions. So when I hear “you can’t do that,” my response is “watch me.”

So when my college age daughter told me that her college writing professor told her that “you can’t make a living freelancing,” that raised a few hackles on the back of my neck.

Sure, no one said it would be easy. And it requires a different skill set than getting up in the morning, buying your latte and sitting you butt in your cubicle each day.

There’s marketing yourself for one thing. Calling up or emailing people saying, “do you want an article on” sort of thing. Making connections. Getting people to know who you are. Using social media, correctly, as in “not spamming, just hamming”, way.

Then there is time management. The temptation to play Zimbio games must be ignored in favor of making some queries to find work. Then, once securing such work, doing it and sending it in.

And employing the ability to wait for payment, graciously. Yes, it is strange in this era of Paypal, to have to wait for payment, but I have a few clients like that. So sometimes I have to make a few other calls, as in to the electric company, to smooth over our latest “misunderstanding.”

Yes, diplomacy is part of the skill set. Especially in getting along with my boss. Working for myself isn’t the easiest thing. I’m a real bitch to work for.

But I have to do it. No other profession merges so well with my heavy television watching schedule.

“I make money, daughter.” I replied. “You can make money freelancing.”

She smiled. “But you have a niche. People know who you are.”

And right there is another clue about how to freelance successfully.

So don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. (Though, please be sensible and don’t do self-destructive things.) When someone tells you that you can’t make a living freelancing, tell them:

“Watch me.”

Photo published under a Creative Commons License issued by Flickr user JamesCarlson

Writing Evocative Book and Story Titles

Writing Evocative Book and Story Titles published on 2 Comments on Writing Evocative Book and Story Titles

How much thought do you give your titles? Do you wonder what makes a good title and one that’s so, so? Is there any way to know? Yes there is.

In my newspaper circulation days, we would regularly look at what headlines sold the most newspapers. I would even write reports about what kinds of headlines were more effective from a sales standpoint. Not so unusually the journalist editors would look at me with a jaundiced eye. They were there for reporting the news. Sales was not their responsibility. But they would complain if they thought that the newspaper wasn’t selling like it should. Somehow I was supposed to pull the magic selling fairy out of my nether regions and get those papers to fly off the shelves.

They were wrong. Headlines and titles have everything to do with whether or not people pick up that paper, read that story, or buy a book. We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to reading material, that is exactly what we do.

So what do we do to make a title evocative?

According to Advanced Marketing Institute, we need to up the emotional content in it. They divide up emotional content into three categories, Intellectual, Empathic, Spiritual. No one category is better than the other, but one category fits better with the market you are trying to reach.

Additionally, you need to keep your titles short, under five words and the fewer the better.

Once I initially discovered the Title Analyzer I started looking at how I wrote blog titles. Now, writing blog titles is different from writing titles for books and stories because you have to write SEO words into the title to get search engines to recognize you. But anecdotally I can tell you that once I became aware of using emotive language in the titles, my readership went up on blog posts that used emotive language. Titles matter.

For example, one of my most successful evergreen posts on Astrology Explored is this one:

The Astrology of Relationships: Fated–The Yod in the Composite Chart

You can see the SEO. The title contains the keyword “astrology”, but except for two words, “relationship” and “fated” the rest would be gibberish to the average reader. I don’t expect the average reader to understand “yod” or “composite chart.” But people do understand fated relationships. And those two words made all the difference. That post stood number one as the most read until just recently.

Since we are all writers, we understand emotive language. So push for the most emotive, evocative language you can for your title.

But how do you know if your title works?

The Advanced Marketing Institute offers a Headline Analyzer which is effective. You enter a title and it tells you on a percentage rating how it does using evocative language. Unfortunately, the Advance Marketing Headline analyzer only works as a one shot deal. Once you enter a title and get a quick report, it doesn’t allow you to enter a rework work of the title. It didn’t used to be like that, but they changed it, so as it stands, their Headline Analyzer is useless to help you get the best title possible.

But I did find something that is almost as good. The Lulu Title Scorer will analyze your title and compare it to best-selling titles of the past to give you a projected percentage of how it stacks up. And you will be surprised at just how sensitive even minor changes can impact the marketability of your title.

For instance, the title of my first novel is Mindbender. For the longest time, I didn’t know whether to use the title as one word or two. Using the Lulu title analyzer I finally made my choice. Mind Bender has a 35.9% chance of being a best-selling title, while the single word Mindbender 63.7% chance.

Now, let’s check another title, this one a current New York Times best seller, Missing You. That title, according to Lulu has a 55.4% chance of being a best seller.

While titles aren’t everything, it doesn’t hurt to give your book or story the best chance possible of being read.

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