Tuesday, January 26, 2016

5 Tips to Pacing Your Novel

I am always getting asked about how to keep the action going in a book so that the reader doesn't get bored, but no one wants to keep going full bore. Sooner or later every writer wants to slow things down, even just a little to give the reader a chance to take a breath.

Now that doesn't mean you want to let your book become boring. But you do want to check over your pacing to see that the story is still flowing even through the ups and downs.

Here are five tips that might help you make certain your book doesn't go too fast or too slow.

1. Start the story quickly.  That's a given. Just like you're heading off to work and running late, you want to get off to a quick start.  Introduce your characters and setting and set up the plot issue quickly or your readers are going to stop reading after the first chapter.

2. Introduce your characters and put them into action.  Make them do something. Give them a problem or two right away. But make them real so that your reader right away gets a feel for wanting to know more about this character and why he/she is taking a certain course of action.

3. Give them a personal stake in the problem.  Real people aren't going to care about strangers necessarily, unless they've either interacted with them or they have a personal stake in the issue.  If a woman runs over someone, she will probably worry about whether the person is going to be okay. But what if that person is watch that she knows she gave to her best friend and that friend hasn't been seen for a week.  Won't she be more interested in this person?

4.  Use emotion to keep the stakes rising even as the action slows. Once the story gets going, keep the action flowing, but also slow it down from time to time. As noted, we don't want to become breathless, but we don't want to fall asleep either. Emotional interaction can keep the flow moving up and down.

5.  Hold off on that back story and then use it in small doses. Don't put your character history in long chunks in the first chapter. That's a prescription for losing a reader almost immediately and they probably won't come back.  If you want to give some history, do it in small chunks and make certain it's necessary. 

Keep the pace moving and your book sales will keep moving too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

5 Tips for Promoting Your Book

If there is one  thing, writers hate to do, it is promote themselves.  No matter how good a salesperson we might be for others and their books, we don't like to do it for ourselves.  But as I've been told over and over, it's a necessary thing.  In these days of easily available social media it should be much easier. But still we don't like subjecting our friends over and over to a sales pitch on Facebook.

But that doesn't mean you can't try other methods of selling yourself on social media. We've all been told about most of these, but they remain valuable. Here are reminders of five different ways to get yourself out there on social media.

1. Write a Blog.  Yes, I'm sure you've been told that before. The question is what do you write in a blog? Well, you can always post blogs about how your story is coming along or pose a question to readers to engage them.  Use  your research and post a picture of a location you're working on. Offer a prize for commenters, whether it's a book or tickets to a museum. 

2. Post a video.  These are growing much more popular.  The best thing about doing a video, either about your book, or something special that you're writing about or even a location for your book, can be noticed by lots of people who might not normally be your readers.

3.  Don't forget Pinterest.  For some reason I am always getting likes or re-pins of things from my board.  The biggest hit appears to be the gargoyles I dig up.  I'm always on the look out for interesting gargoyle pictures because I am writing a story about a gargoyle who comes to life to protect his true love. But  I also get lots of visits for the Mustang pictures I post.  My first five cars were all Mustangs -- starting with a 1964 `1/2 model. The last three were convertibles.  Ah, yes, I still love them and look for pictures of Mustangs of all ages. People come to my page and while they might come for the Mustang, they must see my books as well.

4.   Try Tweeting or Re-tweeting.   Tweet about things that are not all about you and your books. Re-tweet other tweets that appeal to you. I always look for interesting tweets as I am going through my feed, and if I see something interesting, I will re-tweet. It is simple to do. I don't re-tweet political or show biz things. I figure that is too easy for people to ignore because they can see that information too many other places.

5.  Remember your Website.  This is an established place where people can always come back and get information about you.  Keep it up to date. 

I still need to do a lot of work on my postings, but we all need to promote and often it's easier doing it from a keyboard than doing it in front of a group of people.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

5 Tips for Getting Started on a New Novel

This is the time of year when we all decide we're going to start doing those things we keep talking about doing. That includes writing that book we always wanted to write.  In previous blogs I've covered how to start plotting your novel using the 5 W's. Look below for that.

But how do you get yourself going and doing the writing that counts.  The only thing I can say to that is that if you're a writer, you write.  Period!  As I just told a class I am teaching this month, I've heard the prolific Nora Roberts say (when asked how she could write so many books) "It's my job. You don't call in sick or say you'll work tomorrow in your day job. If you want to be a writer, you write."

And she is so right. When I was working in a newsroom I always knew I would be writing that day. It was how I was making my living. I was expected to turn out the stories I was assigned, or produce the newscast and that meant writing even when I didn't feel like it.

So, if you want to be a writer, you must write.  How can you make it easier?  I'm not certain you can, but here are some tips to get you moving.

1. Write first thing in the day.  When I was working full time I would spend at least an our or two every morning working on my latest story.  Even before I went to work I'd already completed at least a thousand words. If you can't write a thousand words, then write 500.  Or 100. You can always write more later.

2. Ignore the internet. Believe me facebook and twitter will still be there when you have time to look them over. The problem I run into is that I want to know what is happening in the world so I immediately want to get online in the morning and check everything out. The easy solution to that is to turn on the TV in the background or listen to the radio on the way to work. You'll get your news, but leave the internet chatter until your writing is done.

3.  Work on your story in your head while you exercise.  Okay, you might need to take your daily walk before you write. I often used to do that in the morning and I would use my walking time to think about what I wrote the day before and where my story was going today. Then I would get home and write for that hour before going to work to write my news stories. Think your story through while you run or walk. Is the plot going in the right direction? Is your character moving the plot forward? What do you want to do next? Consider the next plot point while you exercise.

4. If you can't get going, re-read your last few pages.  This is something I have suggested in the past and I've heard other writers say that is how they start every writing day. They simply sit down at the keyboard or with their notebooks and go through the last five or ten pages. Then they start to write.

5.  Try a new direction.  If you find you're stalled, rewrite a scene or try a new scene. Often we find ourselves blocked because the scene you're working on is not going anywhere. Take your plot in a new direction and see what happens.  Sometimes all you need is a tweak or two and you're heading in the right direction.

But as Nora said, the key is to WRITE.  If you are a writer or want to be a writer, then sit down and do it!


5. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

5 Tips for Starting off a New Writing Year

Okay, we're a few days into the new year, but this is Monday, and the beginning of a new work week. I have a number of writing classes that actually start today because it is Monday.  One of them is on Power Writing -- offered by Outreach International Romance Writers. In this class we go from ways to come up with stories to actually writing them and then to looking at ways to get them published.

But that got me to thinking about five ways to get started in this new writing year if you've already started something.  How can you re-dedicate yourself to your writing commitment. We're not talking resolutions here, but how to make those resolutions work for you.

So with a toast to the new year, here are five tips for getting going again, now that we're in a new year:

1.  Just do it!  One of my mottos for this year is that Nike slogan.  I've been wanting to start a new project and waiting for the inspiration to strike -- well, sometimes that inspiration is never coming. Either sit down and get started or get started on something else.  Either way, the key is to get busy with writing and don't look back.

2.  Look back to look forward.  Okay, so maybe you can't start on something new until you finish that last project. Then get going on that right from the start of the year. Make a goal to finish that project this year. One of our writing groups typically has an annual contest called "Write to the End." We put money in a pot and if you finish your book your name gets put into a drawing. One year someone won up to $240.  You might consider doing that with one of your writing groups. Or promise yourself a special night on the town or treat if you finish your project this year.

3. Take a class on something you want to try.  I'm talking writing here, but why not take a painting class if that interests you. Last year I began coloring and drawing and even water coloring. I'm horrible at art and my 11-year old niece turns out better water color paintings than I do, but it's a great way to be creative when I not writing. And sometimes I get story ideas or scene ideas while I am working on those water colors. (or maybe that's why they turn out so bad.

4.  Take a writing class. One of my classes that I am teaching this year is on Romantic Suspense and next month I'll be teaching one on Short Stories. One of my students worked with me in a previous class and wants to try her hand at Romantic Suspense, which is why she is taking the class.  She has written fantasy in the past. So why not try something new? You might find a new niche and new writing energy.

5. Be open to new opportunities.  One thing about the new year -- it always brings out people who are also looking for new things to start or new ways to express their creativity. Suddenly everyone wants to form a book club or start a new critique group.  I'm going to be more open to trying some of those things out. I've been considering a book club and the new year is a good time to start because there will be other newbies undoubtedly.

The best thing about a new year is that you get to start fresh. I'm all in favor of new beginnings!

5 Tips to Plotting

Is there anything more intimidating to a fiction writer than a blank piece of paper or a blank screen? What do you do with it? This past w...