E.Tip: Help readers empathize with your main character by giving them real situations that they can feel real emotions in, just like in life. In your novel, your main character should go through every emotion at least once: angry, frustrated, anxious, excited, sad, exhilarated, concerned, and terrified. When you’re thinking about these scenes, think about moments in your life when you felt this way. First, write down what you were doing when you felt that way. Next, write your story from the heart! Your readers will know it.
- Make a list of all the writing tasks you’d like to accomplish this summer starting with today and ending with August 30th (or whatever 3 month period works for you). What are all the things you’d like to accomplish during that three month period.
- Keep your goals posted somewhere you can see them to keep you on task. Don’t ignore them.
- Are you planning to go to any conferences or retreats?
- Make a sign for the door of the room that you write in the most to help family understand you’re working seriously on your writing during that time. It can be as simple as saying: Do not disturb. Working. Make it clear to your family that at certain times of the day you will be coming out to eat meals with them and catch up on the things that need your attention, but for the most part, you will be focused on your writing.
- Use the buddy system: find a writer friend that has similar goals who you can check in once in a while with on your own progress. Talking will help keep you both motivated.
- Stay positive. Don’t let things distract you from your goals. Believe in yourself. We believe in you! You should, too!
How are you marketing your books? What are you doing to grow your audience? Here’s a few tips that might get you thinking in a new direction! Good luck!
1) Networking Your Sales Team: Every writer has a sales team. Figuring out who your best sales people are is the trick. Here’s some examples of where you might find them.
- Social Media friends and acquaintances
- Personal Family, Friends, & Co-workers
- Writers Organizations and Critique Groups
2) Posting on Social Media Sites: What are you posting on Social Media sites? Buy my book? Or, this is who I am and these are my books? These examples help to market you and your books.
- New releases coming soon
- Summary of individual books
- Talk about links on your website
- Share an author bio
- Pictures of what you find interesting
- Book Covers
- Info on Appearances/Conferences.
- Character interview
- Tips on writing
- Guest writers or other professionals on your blog
- Links to where your books can be purchased
3) Promoting Yourself at Community Events: Meet new people and talk about what it’s like to be a writer. Pair up with other local authors to cross-promote one another.
- Talk with independent book store owners & librarians (ask them to add you to their event newsletter, if they have one and willing to)
- Readings/book signings
- Presentation for the local writer’s group or book club
- Donate books to the book store/library
- Presentations/Readings at University & High School libraries or in the classroom
- Presentations/Readings at Senior Citizen Centers/Wellness Centers/Community Events/Church Events
4) Use Promotional Materials that have your book title, book series, or your author name on them: Why? Because people will remember you if they’re holding something with your book title or name on it. It’s also a great way to get new readers unintentionally. Think–useful items.
- Book marks
- Bumper stickers
- Tote bags
- Coffee Mugs
5) Mailings: Again, be creative in how you contact your fan base. If you’re sending out an e-newsletter, have tips other people would like to learn or fun facts about your books or characters.
- Newsletters and E-Newsletters
- Fan letters
- Mass E-mails
6) Traditional Media Marketing: Use an old idea and make it new–by promoting who you are and your book(s) locally and nationally.
- Interviews on: radio, television, newspaper and blogs
- Commercials/Ads on radio, television, newspaper, streaming radio, and billboards
- Live Broadcasts at an event
Of course this isn’t a complete list, but it’s a good start. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box when thinking of how to market your books. There are readers just waiting to discover your stories!
I’m teaching a session of writing classes to a group of local writers. Some of the participants have been writing for years, and others are just beginning to take the craft seriously. My challenge to them last week was to double their word count from what they wrote two weeks ago.
Some writers wrote less than 1000 words two weeks ago, some wrote more. One woman wrote 4000 words in less than two weeks, so her challenge is to double it and write more than 8000 words by next Thursday.
Writing challenges can be a great way to get out the excess words that are built inside of us just waiting to come out. Usually not all the words will be used in a final product, but the adrenalin rush from writing so many words in such a short time span can be exhilarating!
My own personal challenge is to write 1000 words a week, or 1000 words on Sunday, my day off from editing. Some days I can write the 1000 words in 30 minutes or so, other days I have to really work at it. But whatever the challenge is, it’s a great feeling to reach my desired goal.
What are some of your own personal writing goals? Are you making them? Is it time to double up your word count and challenge yourself?
Characters are the life of every story so it’s important to treat them with respect and pay close attention to the details. However, it’s easy to get carried away and forget about some of the “don’ts” that come along with character building.
- If your reader needs to keep a notebook by their bedside every time a new character is introduced in your book, you’ve got too many characters.
- If you are having trouble keeping your characters straight in your own head, it’s time to limit the number of characters in the story.
- If your characters are screaming to have their own story, and not be a supporting role, it might be time to start an outline on a new story.
- If you have multiple characters whose names all start with the same letter like “s” or “m” consider changing two of the characters names to start with a different letter so the reader can keep the characters straight in their head. Or, decide if you really need those other characters.
- If you have a character just so the main character isn’t talking to themselves out loud, is that “friend” really necessary.
There are many more character “do’s” and “don’ts” but these are just a few I thought worth mentioning now. What are some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” you’ve learned over the years?
Recently, an author emailed me about our editing services. She was interested in revising the novel she had sold in the 1990s, and writing a sequel to it. However, what we discovered about her contract with her original publisher was mortifying.
I won’t go into the details of her specific situation. However, I can not stress enough how important it is to know what rights to your work you as an author are signing over when you sign a contract with a publisher. Not only that, but learn about who you are signing the contract with for your books. Are they a reputable publisher? How do they treat their authors? Do they sell their books on their website?
If you’re not familiar with legal jargon, ask your family lawyer to put you in touch with a trusted Intellectual Property lawyer. If your family lawyer doesn’t know one, contact us at Written Dreams. There are several IP lawyers we know of, and we’ll point you in the right direction.
There’s a lot of advice on how to write great beginnings and getting through writing the middle of stories, but what about that ending?
An ending should be everything the story has been building up towards. Powerful. Intriguing. Satisfying. To have a great ending means it needs to be satisfying to the reader. So many times when I’m editing a novel, the emotion of the story will build and build. Then, in that last page it’s like there’s a cliff there and the story just drops off the face of the earth. I’m not talking about a cliff hanger. I’m talking about an ending that builds towards the end but doesn’t have a satisfying end for the reader. An ending when the reader walks away and says “That’s it? That wasn’t worth it.”
Those are words no writer wants to hear, yet so many times in editing novels I see a writer spending so much time on crafting their beginnings –it’s imperative to have a great hook, after all–and middles, the writer will just leave their ending to just “come together.”
Don’t do that.
When you’ve finished writing the first draft, second draft, third draft, go back and read just the last five pages of your story. What is the emotion you feel after you’ve read the ending? Did you feel the tension, the sadness, happiness, or shock you as the writer were going for? Or, did you feel empty or confused?
Make sure to spend the same amount of time on your ending, as you do the beginning and middle. After all, if it’s a satisfying read, your readers will be more apt to tell others about your characters and the journey they just experienced. And isn’t that what you really want? 🙂
Take advantage of another writer’s experience to help you grow as the writer you want to be.
One of my favorite books to read for writers is Spider, Spin Me A Web by Lawrence Block. Books like this are great tools for writers to use when they’re looking for inspiration, or how to use a new tool from their writing toolbox.
Early in the book Block talks about reading, and how important it is to read a lot when you’re a writer. You learn by reading other writer’s works. And you learn when you sit down at your desk and write every day.
To see a full list of our suggested reading materials for writers, visit our page here: http://writtendreams.com/Coaching.html
E. Tip of the Day: After finishing the draft of your novel, and before sending it to your editor, do a quick proof on it. Don’t forget to check for these things:
1) No extra spaces between words or sentences: it should be one space between words, and depending on your preference one or two spaces between sentences. I prefer to use one space throughout the manuscript. It makes global searches faster. 🙂
2) Missing punctuation: make sure every sentence has punctuation.
3) Misspelled words or missing words: spell check is helpful but doesn’t check for things like a missing “c” in “exited” when it should be “excited.” Your editor should do their job and help with this, however it’s great for the writer to get into a habit of checking these things.
4) Chapter Headings are consistent: do you want your chapter headings centered? Bold? A different font size? Three hard returns above the first paragraph of your chapter? Whatever you decide, consistency is important.
5) Paragraph indents, margins, and spacing between paragraphs is consistent: sometimes this can be tricky to fix after several drafts of revising, but if you begin your novel in a certain format with specific spacings, there shouldn’t be too many issues down the road for you. Be aware of this early on.
6) Your contact info is in the top left hand corner of the first page of your manuscript: This is nice to know, just in case your editor needs to contact you. 🙂
If you’re having trouble with any of these, let us know and we can help! 🙂
Using words that are used in every day language will keep it simple for your reader.
When using unfamiliar words, it’s important to clarify what it means for the reader so they don’t have to stop and look up the definition. Unusual words can easily pull readers out of the story, sometimes making them put the book down.
We want readers to enjoy the process of reading, not get confused or frustrated. So, have fun with words! And if you have questions, feel free to contact us. 🙂