How to write successful scenes

Wonderful graphic to keep handy, so you make the most of your scenes.

Writers Write

Scenes

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Reality 301 with @heidicullinan

Oh dear. Kendall Grey is the poster girl for author idiocy online. Words fail me on this one.

The Amazon Iowan

 

Tonight Twitterverse roared with outrage over Kendall Grey’s post on Authors for Life where she bemoans the fact that sometimes, publishing is hard. Grey spent four years writing and a great deal of money and effort promoting an urban fantasy trilogy; it tanked. She wrote an erotic novel she describes as a “piece of trash” in two months, spent much less in promotion and gave it much less effort, and that book made some decent money. She’s angry that she wasn’t rewarded for her “beautiful, artistic” book and that by selling out she made money. Grey writes:

I know it’s depressing to hear that in order to find success, you may have to compromise your principles. I’ve come to grips with the fact that in the current market, trashy smut sells, and urban fantasy does not. Tough shit for me. If you want to sell books, you have to…

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How to Pitch Your Book Even If You’re Terrified

presentation

We’ve been discussing pitching this week on our freelance writing blog. A couple of readers asked me about pitching your book. They’re going to a conference, and want a quick pitch they can make to agents.

Here’s the best advice I can give you for live pitching: rehearse, and demo your pitch. Rehearse until you know your pitch by heart, and can repeat it in your sleep. Then demo it to everyone you know. Say it. Over and over again. Until you hate it and your friends are plotting to do away with you because they’re so sick of it too.

I covered the basics of pitching a book even if you hate it here:

Should you send your pitch to one agent at a time?

I’m often asked whether you should send your pitch out to many agents simultaneously.

You can do whatever you feel is best. However, I suggest one agent at a time. Research the agent online first. Read her/ his blog. Study the agent’s client list.

Personalize your letter/ email message, to ensure that the agent knows that you’re not sending out a mass email. Write something like:

“I enjoyed your blog post on _________ (whatever. Tell her why you enjoyed it.) _____ (Author name) is one of my favorite authors, I loved his ________ (whatever) book.”

Terror is natural when you’re doing something which is new, and important to you. Rehearse until you’re tired of it. I dislike pitching in person too, but rehearsing until you’re bored truly works. You’ll get to the point where you’re no longer self-conscious.

 
photo credit: Louisville Joe via photopin cc

How to Get Inspired to Write NOW

Calvin and Hobbes

Want to get inspired to write? That’s easy. Write. Inspiration comes when you’re writing:

Like Chuck Close (“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), E. B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”)

Write a word. Then another one.

You prime the writing pump with words.

Sooner or later, inspiration will find you, and the words will flow. Try it.

 

Write Your Novel: Make the Emotional Connection With Lists

Awake to Darkness

Awake to Darkness

Writing a novel? You want it to sell, don’t you? Yes, I know, it’s a stupid question. However, it’s easy to get so caught up in the writing, that you forget that the reader wants something… an emotional experience.

Lists can help with that:

If you’re disappointed with the sales of your Kindle novels, there’s usually just one answer — get more emotion into your books. Readers will forgive you just about anything, as long as they get an emotional payoff from your books.

Read the above article, and start using lists.

Share your experiences with lists in the comments, I’d love to hear how they work for you… 🙂

photo credit: Rakka via photopin cc

Writing a Novel? You Don’t Need to Be Perfect, But…

Parts of a horse

Parts of a horse

Writing a novel is exciting. Your imagination helps you to build an entire world, into which you take your readers. For a few hours, you allow your readers to escape their daily lives. Their heartbreaks, stress and boredom drop away. You’re giving them a gift.

Be careful: don’t snatch away that gift, and jolt your readers awake. It’s easily done.

Last week I was reading an historical novel. I loved the world of the novel, and surrendered to it.

Suddenly I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The hero helped the heroine onto her horse, and she kicked it in the withers to get it moving. Withers?! What on earth was she, a contortionist? The withers are just above the shoulders on a horse, they’re the highest part of the back. I would have loved to have seen anyone, in a sidesaddle no less, kick a horse in the withers…

A little grumpy, I went back to reading. She kicked the horse in the withers again. AND she called her horse’s fetlock something else, I forget what.

At that stage, I removed the novel from the Kindle app on my iPad. My fictional dream was destroyed, by a careless author.

How challenging would it have been to look up the parts of a horse on Wikipedia?

When you’re writing your novel, you WILL make mistakes.

As I said in this article:

It’s impossible to write the “perfect” novel, and never make mistakes. You will make mistakes in every novel you write. However, those mistakes shouldn’t be egregious. If something’s easy to look up — details of crime scene procedures, Regency-period forms of address — look them up.

The fear of making mistakes shouldn’t stop you writing. You WILL make mistakes. That’s fine. Just do your best to correct mistakes. ASK questions. Check your facts. For aficionados of a genre, an author’s mistakes, especially if they show the author’s been lazy, show disrespect for readers.

No one’s perfect. Have fun writing your novel. When you’re writing, focus on it completely, and let yourself go. However, at some stage before publication, check facts carefully. You owe it to your readers, and they’ll love you for taking them away from their woes for a few hours.

 

Can’t Write? Tell a Story

Alice in Wonderland

Use your imagination: tell a story

Over the weekend, I chatted with a writer who’s written several nonfiction books, and wants to write a novel.

He’s used to doing lots of research, coming up with ideas, testing the ideas, and writing. But he’s procrastinating on his fiction.

My advice? Start writing. Fill the computer screen with words.

As I said in this post on writing what you don’t know:

Please take this to heart: all writing is discovery.

Let’s say you want to write a thriller about a hit man (or a hit woman.) This will be a real challenge for you if you’re anything like me, and are squeamish about using snail bait, or swatting a spider.

Nevertheless, if I had a great idea for a book, and the main character happened to kill people for a living, I could write it. And so could you.

Here’s why. Fiction is all about emotion. You’ve had every emotion everyone else has had. You’ve been angry — and you’ve gone beyond anger to primal rage. Neither feeling is comfortable. You may want to tap into that when you’re writing about your hit person. Not for the killer, but for the person who’s hired him.

I suggested that he tell himself his story first.

Start with “Once upon a time…”

Like so:

Once upon a time, a man called Chris lived with his wife, Pamela, and their little boy, Jesse. Chris loved his wife, and was shocked when one day, someone at work told him that his wife was having an affair.

At first, Chris didn’t believe it. Then, he decided to…

See how it works?

Just pretend that you’re telling someone a story. I like to record these musings into Dragon Dictate. After ten or 20 minutes, I’ve got the bones of a story.

This is a painless way of getting the kernel of a story. Just start with a couple of characters, and a situation. Once you’ve got that, you can either outline your scenes, or you can start writing. I tend to just start writing; I create an outline once I’ve got around 10,000 words. Do what feels right to you.

have fun. 🙂
photo credit: maize// via photopin cc

The Author Exploitation Business

(Sigh) I used to respect Penguin. That’s no longer possible. If you’re a new writer, and you’re writing a book, you need to read this. As David points out — you don’t need to spend money to publish your book. You can do it yourself. Seriously.

David Gaughran

penguin (1)Writing is a glamorous occupation – at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness.

Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It’s a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits.

Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations who claim to help writers, to respect them, to assist them along the path to publication are actually screwing them over.

Before the digital revolution made self-publishing viable on a…

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Writing Career: 11 Easy Writing Tips

Wedding Writer

Want to make money writing? These tips will help, whether you’re a seasoned writer, or a complete beginner…

Write stuff people want, and for which they’ll pay TODAY

It’s a thrill to write something, and get dollars in your PayPal account quickly.

A couple of months back, I wrote a series of blog posts on making $500 a day from your writing.

If you read those posts, you’ll see that people pay for many different kinds of writing. Make a list of what YOU could write, for which people pay.

Read the rest of the article here.