Writing Perspective – Day 31 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 31 – Marketing

It’s the final day and the final tip, which is good because I can’t think of any more. I need this one as much as anyone. Today’s topic—Marketing.

Your novel is finished and available. How do you market your work?

Set up your author page on Facebook. I’ve done that. Let people know when your book will be available, if you’re still writing, or where they can get a copy if it’s available. Post your book on Goodreads. Announce it on social media—not only Facebook but Twitter and LinkedIn and other sites that will help with getting the word out.

Have book signings. Get your business cards from Vista Print. You can also get postcards made and send them in the mail. Hand out your business cards to everyone you talk to. I’ve been doing that. Have books on hand to sell when people show interest. I have a few in my car, so they are always handy. Visit your bookstores to let them know you have books available. You might get them interested in putting them on their shelves.

If you’ve self-published, it’s difficult, but I’ve heard of people getting it done. They might even allow a book signing at the store.

Inform your television and radio stations you have a book coming out or available.

These are all the marketing tips I’ve heard about and/or tried. Good luck marketing your book. If you have any other marketing tips, please share.

Thanks for reading.

Writing Perspective – Day 30 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 30 – Brainstorming

In a book called Book in a Month, I found another gem.

Brainstorming. I know this is a duh topic. When it comes to writing, you need to brainstorm. Everything in your story earns a gold star for this one.

You brainstorm your topic, characters, scenes, turning points, cliffhangers, setting, conflict, triumphs, tragedies. Nothing is left to chance when it comes to your story.

You brainstorm your characters – how many, who are they, where do they live, what are their occupations.

With that, you get your setting. What is the theme of your story, what roles do your characters play in the story? How will they get from point A to Z?

As you brainstorm your story, you put flesh and bones on your story. You get to know everything about your characters, you research where they live if you don’t already know. You research their backgrounds unless you’re intimately aware of that background.

If you’re reading a book, I guarantee the author brainstormed to get it where you can’t put the book down until you read the last page.

If you’re writing a blog, you brainstormed to determine a topic for the post. When you get near the end of your project, you start brainstorming the resolution of the story. How does it all fit together? What did your characters learn along the way? How did they grow?

There’s a lot to writing a novel, a blog, even a letter to a friend. It all takes thought and brainstorming.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Marketing

Writing Perspective – Day 29 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 29 – Time Management

So, you want to write. How do you begin? There are many ways to begin as I’ve already discussed. However, one I haven’t is Time Management. Look at your schedule. What is your daily routine? Do you have room to squeeze in one more project?

If you’re serious about writing, you need time to put your butt in the chair and write.

One author had only time after his kids went to bed, so that’s when he wrote. Others can only write in the morning before everyone else is up and the day gets busy.

You write when it’s best for you or you make time. Since I’m retired and my time is my own, I write whenever I have the opportunity. Usually, it’s in the afternoon.

Along with Time Management is your word count. How much time you have will determine how many words you can write in the amount of time you give yourself.

There was a time when it was easy for me to write 5,000 words a day without thinking about it. I haven’t seen a 5,000-word day in a long time. My most now is half that. Still, it takes butt in the chair time to make those words happen and without time management, it won’t.

Another important aspect of Time Management is where you write. Some people need noise, some solitude, some need to see what’s going on, some need to be away from every form of distraction.

What is your need? How do you focus on your writing? For me, I need quiet, but I also need a window on the world. I need to see what’s going on in the outside world. Sometimes what is happening out there is an inspiration for what goes on the screen or paper.

There is also the time when you need inspiration, so Time Management means you’re out taking a walk in nature or going to a museum, park, the mall, any place where inspiration strikes. Be sure to take a notebook and pen/pencil with you so you can write down what you see and hear.

Time Management isn’t only for the office. With today’s technology, you can take your office outdoors. Take your laptop to the park and write, provided it’s not raining or snowing when you decide to work outdoors. Take it to your patio. Let the outdoors be your inspiration for what you write on that particular day.

Time Management isn’t limited. It can do whatever you need to do as long as you’re filling that time with writing.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Brainstorming

Fishing & Writing: How to Tell the Difference

By Larry Wilson

Writing to me is a lot like fishing.

I pick a lake, bait, and the perfect rod and reel combo, watch the weather, venture out with a plan to catch my limit of walleye, perch or even a meal of bluegills. 

I head out with high expectations, ready for anything.

And I get skunked. Nada, Zip. Not even a bite.

Some days Lucy yanks the ball away, again.

I did do a little better than that on a recent trip to Fox Lake. The water was just a little green with August algae. Heck on some days it looked like pea soup.

The guy at the bait shop informed me “…getting Northern, a few Panfish but no Walleye to be found.”

The best-laid plans.

Likewise, a story outlined, researched, rough draft, second draft, edited, revised, re-written, and reviewed, then offered for critique, edited again and again, and submitted for publication.

Only to be rejected.

Why bother at all?

It’s like the mountain to a climber. It’s like chasing the fish. Because I need to.

It doesn’t take much to keep going. A bite here a nibble there. Catch a positive review from someone — encouragement from a peer.

I caught a bullhead-that’s something.

Some days I had to force myself to face the dawn, climb into the boat with coffee and bait and venture out in search of perch.

It’s the same with writing.

Put butt into chair. Bring coffee. Do whatever it takes to put words onto paper. Share with someone.

Repeat.

I need to savor the process, whether it’s waves lapping the boat, or tapping at the keyboard. Watching a bobber or reading the latest revision.

Breathe the fresh air or listen to old-time rock ‘n roll.

Right now I’m looking out the window watching the waves from an easterly wind blowing through gray clouded skies.

“When the wind is from the East, fish bite the least.”

So I might as well write.

Writing Perspective – Day 27 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 27 – Dramatic Through Lines

Today’s tip comes from the book, Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.

Selecting a Dramatic Through Line. A dramatic through line is the main direction of your characters whether you have a plot-driven or character-driven book, the through line is what makes your characters achieve their goals—in most cases staying alive to the end, especially when you’ve got a lot of dinosaurs chasing you as in Jurassic Park. Or aliens coming to take over your world as in Independence Day.

It might not be staying alive that drives your character. It might be finding love as in romances, finding the reason why as in mysteries.

Your through line is what keeps your readers reading, and the more dramatic you make it, the more they will keep turning those pages.

There are five types of dramatic through line:

1. The main character succeeds

2. The main character is defeated

3. The main character abandons his goal

4. The main character’s goal is undefined

5. The reader creates the goal

No matter what kind of story you’re writing, there wouldn’t be a dramatic through line without characters. What are your favorite types of books based on those five types of dramatic through lines?

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Conflict

Writing Perspective – Day 26 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 26 – Beginnings

The Hook—good beginnings.

Every writer wants his or her work accepted. How do you make a good beginning that will keep the publisher reading your work, and see your story published? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a short story, poem, or novel. If you don’t grab the publisher in the first few paragraphs it won’t see the light of day.

To help with that, several years ago, I bought a book called Hooked by Les Edgerton. There are a lot of good ideas to not only keep the publisher reading but your reader as well.

The beginning of your book sets up the problem, the scene and you meet the characters. It gives just enough backstory to keep the publisher interested, but not too much that it ends up in the slush pile. You want to avoid the slush pile at all costs.

I’ve heard authors will spend more time on the beginning paragraphs and the first chapter of the book than the rest of the book.

If you don’t know what hooked you with your favorite book, take it off the shelf and read the first paragraph. Not only were you hooked, but more importantly the publisher of that book was too.

I admit I’ve struggled with the opening. I want to get it right. I want to build tension. I want to set the scene. Before I presented Thread of Evidence to my publisher, I read it at Writer’s Guild to get feedback. I value their feedback. I had way too much boring information in the opening paragraphs, boring information best left for other parts of the book and filled in as backstory where it wouldn’t be boring, or taking it out altogether.

You want to give your reader/publisher the setting, what is going on in the opening paragraph. Your publisher/reader needs to know in that opening if they are reading a historical novel, science fiction, contemporary romance, mystery, or another genre.

Does this grab your attention? Why or why not?

————-

Ten-year-old Jo-Ann Carter stood in the drawing room, arms crossed, with a stubborn expression on her face. Her pale green eyes flashed angrily as she watched her mother tie a blue-gray bonnet beneath her chin, matching her long flowing fitted-waist satin and taffeta dress. She stomped her black-shoed foot on the floor, a pout on her face. “I want to go too!”

—————–

That is the opening paragraph of Scarred. Do you want to know what comes next? Wanting to know is the reason behind every book on bookstore shelves and on your bookshelves. You wanted to know what’s next. Keeping your publisher interested will keep your reader interested. Keeping your reader interested will result in books sold and money in your pocket. And that is what every author wants, money in their pocket. It won’t happen without a good beginning. So, get the hook right and you will be on your way.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Dramatic Through Lines

Writing Perspective – Day 25 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 25 – Avoid Shortcuts

Welcome to day 25 of writing tips for any kind of writing – novel, short story, poetry, blog.

I’ve discussed many different areas important to writing. Looking through the material I received from a recent UntitledTown conference, I find another gem.

Shortcuts. Don’t take them. The idea is to be creative, not a duplicate of someone else’s writing. As I’ve seen on the blog site I blog on, many occasions people get inspiration from posts and ideas come forth and become new posts. Some are answers to questions in posts, some go off in a completely different direction from what the person wrote. We have many people who inspire us to write further on a topic or create a spinoff on the same topic.

In the same way, novelists can use or leverage what others have written to create something new and vital, breathing life into what might have been a dead subject.

You can glean ideas from a myriad of places, not only in books you’ve read but in news stories, conversations you have with friends, or people in general. Ideas are everywhere. Ideas lead to creativity, and creativity leads to a finished story.

As you’re expounding on what others have written, don’t take shortcuts. Don’t plagiarize. Make it your own. We all have opinions on what we read or hear. Great conversations come about from a single thought or idea. The same is true in writing. Opinions matter.

Don’t take shortcuts by making what someone else wrote a template for your writing. Make the story new and genuine. You know what a template is. It’s a basic form that follows a pattern. Romance books are good examples of template writing. The template is the same for every book. The only difference is the names of the characters and their locations. There’s no imagination in that kind of writing, and very little research either for that matter. Throw the template away!

Don’t take shortcuts with your writing. You have an idea, so find out everything you can about your idea. Don’t expect that someone else’s legwork, research, is the unvarnished truth in the matter. Search it out yourself.

In a book I’ve written and am currently working on, I relied on a movie I saw as total truth with the information provided in the movie. That is, until I did my own research and found out the animal in the movie for that location wasn’t native to that location and isn’t found there.

No shortcuts. Do your own legwork and be creative. That’s what writing is all about. When you do the work, and you know you’ve done it well, you can sit back satisfied your reader will appreciate the work you did when he or she reads it and then recommends it to others. You might even find good reviews of your work. When you do, you know you’ve passed the test and your reader will look for more of your books because they trust the one you wrote.

Have you read books that look like the author took a shortcut, used a template, and fell short of your expectations on the topic? Or have you read books where you know the author did their best to create a good story and got all their facts right? Have you recommended books, given reviews on books, or passed those books to other readers? If you have, the author did a good job with the subject.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Beginnings

Writing Perspective – Day 24 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 24 – Show vs. Tell

Showing versus telling has been one of those areas that always confused me. However, when I did the research on it, I can say with certainty that yes, yesterday’s example from New Horizon’s – Predators and Blue Fire was a perfect example of Showing.

Not only was I giving you an example of how not to give too much information at once, but also showing you the action instead of telling you what was going on.

When you watch a movie, you don’t need anyone to show you what’s going on in the scene, it’s evident. However, how do you make that same scene come alive in a book so the reader can see the scene in their head as they read? You do it through showing.

Show the reader a person is cold with stamping feet, shivering, blowing on mitten-less, glove-less hands, fog in the air as the character breathes. Those are clear images of showing. Don’t just say your character is cold. You’ve done nothing to show your reader.

Dress your reader in layers – a heavy knit sweater, wool knit hat, large overcoat. What time of year is it? Sweat dripped from his brow and clung in cloying stickiness to his skin. Snow crunched underfoot. He had to crack the ice in order to get water from the well. Humidity hung in the air and took the breath away as she stepped outside. Her nostrils felt like they would freeze together as she stepped into the windless starry night. Color flooded the landscape and crunched underfoot as she walked in the countryside. The air was soft and gentle, the trees budded with new life. Green tongues poked their way through the earth after a fiercely cold winter.

Can you see it? Can you feel it? That’s showing and that’s what you want your reader to see and feel when you write your stories. There are times when you need to tell. Keep the telling to a minimum.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Avoid Shortcuts

Writing Perspective – Day 23 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 23 – Reader Engagement

Today’s writing tip concerns the info dump. When you start writing, people tend to start with the backstory and tell everything about the situation and in doing so, lose their audience before the end of the first paragraph.

You want your reader to know your characters, their personality, and the time period they live in or the planet they’re on, depending on what genre you’re working with.

However, there’s a right way and wrong way to do that. I once picked up the book Ben Hur from the library. I couldn’t get past the first couple of pages because it was all information about the time period. How do you overcome that and get your reader interested in your book? Sprinkle it in where appropriate. Not all at once.

You might start with a paragraph showing location for your character but get to the dialogue as soon as possible. Interaction between characters can show as much information about the time period, genre, location as several pages of info dump does. And it does a better job of keeping your reader engaged in the story.

As your story moves along, your reader will get a good idea of where your characters are and what they are doing from the dialogue. Yes, the description is necessary to the book, but don’t over describe. Don’t under describe either. You don’t want to leave the person wondering what just happened and cut him out of the story.

Remember, your reader is on the same journey as your characters. Let them look around the location and see where they are. Build tension with dialogue. You won’t get tension in an info dump.

Below is an excerpt from my book New Horizons – Predators and Blue Fire. I hope it shows you what I’m talking about. Information, but not too much. It’s the end of the first chapter.

———-

They finished a late-night snack when the plane went through an electrical storm. Lightning flashed around the plane, but there weren’t any clouds in sight, at least none Shanara could see as she gazed out the window. It reminded her of movies about a spacecraft forced through space at an excessive speed.

She expected to see dark billowy clouds below them, indicating rain, but there was nothing. She also found it strange that flying above the clouds, they would get caught in an electrical storm, something she would expect below the clouds. However, she couldn’t see the sky or clouds.

The seatbelt sign came on, and everyone put their seats in an upright position, preparing for the worst. Only the worst didn’t happen, at least not from what Shanara could see, or not see.

“That was a strange storm. What can you see out the window?” asked Michael.

“Nothing. I mean, literally, nothing. Before the storm there was an ocean beneath us, now there isn’t even water.”

Suddenly, the plane took a sharp turn upward, and Shanara could see the mountain peak in front of them.

“Where did that come from?” asked Michael.

“I have a feeling we’re not on earth anymore,” said one of the passengers, her eyes glued to the window.

“I bet you’re right. Nothing looks familiar,” said a male passenger.

As soon as the plane righted itself, the captain came on the intercom. “I know many of you are wondering where we are. So are we! Our navigational charts are useless. We passed into what is known as the Bermuda Triangle, and though I’ve flown this route many times, nothing like what we experienced has ever happened before. Some of you saw an electrical storm out your window. That wasn’t an electrical storm. It was a wormhole. I know what you might be thinking. You’re not in the Twilight Zone. However, wormholes are a theory which just became fact. We are looking for a place to land and hope we can find a civilization who will not shoot first and ask questions later. For now, please remain calm. You will know what is happening at the same time we do. Captain Fredericks out.”

“Okay. Now I’m glad I packed as much as you did,” said Michael.

“That’s not our moon,” said a male passenger behind them.

“No, it’s not,” said Shanara, seeing a larger moon than she was used to seeing.

“Look over there. Is that another planet?” pointed a woman, a few rows ahead of them.

Shanara focused on the terrain below them and the moons or planets she saw out the window amid a vast array of stars. It was clear they were no longer on Earth, but where they were, she hoped they would soon find out.

—————-

I hope this helps show you how to give your information to the reader and keep your reader engaged in your story.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Show vs. Tell

Writing Perspective – Day 28 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 28 – Conflict

Looking through Story Structure Architect, I found an obvious one I forgot – Conflict.

Conflict is important to any story. You need conflict or you don’t have a story.

It doesn’t matter what genre you’re working in. Your conflict takes up the middle of your book. It’s what needs resolving. You can have a simple conflict with a simple solution. Those are usually your less than 300-page books. Or you can have your complicated conflicts with more than one issue. You can also have one compounded issue. When you think you’re getting close to the answer, something else happens and throws you off track and in another direction.

Personally, I like complicated and compounded. It makes for a better read.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Time Management