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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

#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 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 Writer’s Craft: Do You Need A Blog?

The Writer’s Craft: Do You Need A Blog? published on 2 Comments on The Writer’s Craft: Do You Need A Blog?

To blog or not to blog I recently read a blog post by an editor and writer who said that writers don’t need a blog. She advised that the time spent on blogging could be best spent writing. Yes, I said that correctly. I read this on her blog.

Her previous entry was about building an online presence.

Okay, who’s zooming who?

Do you absolutely need a blog?

No.

If you are a fantastic undiscovered literary genius who is only waiting on the publishing world to wake up to your fabulousness, much like J.K. Rowling with her twenty-one rejections of the first Harry Potter book, you don’t need a blog. Are you that writer? Good. You probably should have a blog to share your genius, but you don’t need one.

Should you have a blog?Continue reading The Writer’s Craft: Do You Need A Blog?

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

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