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487 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag

Years ago I got into a discussion with some folks about what makes a young adult novel a young adult novel. It was sparked by a panel at a conference taking on the topic, and what I discovered is that there is no real consensus on the matter. Every element supposedly exclusive to young adult material was eventually discovered to exist in adult titles, and the reverse was true.


So given that there are no rules for young adult novels written in stone, let's examine three--let's call them observations--uncovered in that discussion. Invariably, there are exceptions to each item in the list to follow, but that's okay. This is just a jumping off point.


  1. Coming-of-age element: Young adult novels usually cover a rite of passage. That is to say the main character moves into a new stage of life that brings him/her closer to adulthood. We call these coming-of-age stories, and while the stage in question may be something as innocent as experiencing a first kiss, the obstacles overcome and the lessons learned on their way to that first kiss are the crux of the story.

  2. Hope: More so than in adult themed novels, hope seems to be an ever-present theme in most young adult novels. As bad as things get, even dystopian bad, the main character always finds a way to win. The message consistently seems to be to never give up. Victory is just a miracle away.

  3. Avoiding trends: When an adult writes a book for a young adult market, the temptation is to learn the slang of the day and try to speak their language, but the young adult novels that stand the test of time, by and large, don't jump on language trends. Doing so appears as if the author is trying too hard to relate to the readers, and it just doesn't work.


Those are the observations that came up in my discussion. What say you? What do you think is unique to a young adult novel or key to a young adult novel's long-term success?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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What is a Young Adult Novel?

Claim Your Genre

1,098 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, young_adult

I'm always looking for ideas for this blog (as well as a good book to read), so I spend a chunk of my day keeping tabs on the publishing industry. Often when I stumble across an article about a new author, especially a new indie author, I head to Amazon to check out the book and the author's page. Who knows? I may buy the book or even contact the author about a possible interview.


If I see grammatical errors in an author page, however, I quickly move on.


For example, I recently visited the Amazon page of an author whose bio included the following mistakes (specifics changed to protect the author's identity):


What she wrote: Lisa Sue is the Author of five mysteries.


What she should have written: Lisa Sue is the author of five mysteries.


What she wrote: Her favorite topic's are X, Y and Z.


What she should have written: Her favorite topics are X, Y and Z.


What she wrote: Lisa Sue is a woman that has always worked hard for what she wants.


What she should have written: Lisa Sue is a woman who has always worked hard for what she wants.


I've said it countless times in this blog, but you only have quick moment to grab a (potential) reader's attention. If the impression you give is that you don't understand the basic rules of grammar, the potential reader is probably not going to buy your book, no matter how good it is. Perhaps the above author was in a hurry when she wrote her bio and didn't notice the mistakes, but to an educated reader the errors are distracting and unprofessional.


Think of your author bio the way you would your book's cover. People shouldn't judge your book based on it, but many will.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Common Mistakes a Professional Editor Sees

Grammar Tip: She vs. Her/He vs. Him

3,968 Views 24 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, grammar, author_bio, grammatical_errors

In a previous post, I explained the difference between a developmental edit and a copy edit. Today I'd like to dive deeper into the value of a skilled developmental editor by asking a pro, Christina Henry de Tessan, for the most common issues she encounters. Here are her top four:


1) Show vs. tell: We all know the old adage, "Show; don't tell." It can be harder, however, to resist the temptation to show and tell. But if you've told us that "Isabel wiped her clammy hands on her too-short skirt and felt a flush of heat in her cheeks when the teacher asked her to stand up and read aloud," you don't then need to tell us that "She was nervous about getting up in her front of her classmates." Nail the details, then trust your reader to figure it out.


2) Dialogue: If you want your writing to shine, it's essential that you get this right. At one end of the spectrum, you want to avoid making your characters sound stilted or bland. At the other, you want to avoid the small talk that can drag down a snappy back-and-forth: "Hi." "Good to see you. How's it going?" "Ok. You?" Finally, read it all out loud.


3) Beware of metaphors and similes: These tempting little crutches can yank a reader right out of the story. "The clouds meandered across the sky like exhaust from an ailing diesel truck" is just distracting. Creative license has its moments, but straightforward language is often the best way to go. If you can't help yourself, just use sparingly and make sure your selected imagery feels appropriate to the story. Finally, keep an eye out for the dreaded mixed metaphors!


4) Character is everything! We don't have to love them, but we do have to care. If your characters are falling flat, you're going to lose your readers. Make them flawed, quirky, arrogant, confused. But more than anything, make them real. And then make them learn something along the way. Write a character who evolves in a credible and compelling way, and you're well on your way.


Many thanks to Christina for lending her expertise to this post!


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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3 Things To Be Aware Of When Editing Your Manuscript

Vishaal Behl - The Top Ten Tips For Editing Your Own Book.

2,255 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, editing, writing, dialogue, show_vs._tell

Okay, it's time for a paradigm shift when it comes to an author's thinking about branding. The artists in most of us don't really cozy up to the idea of branding and marketing and all that commercialism. Still, we want to make a living as authors, indie or otherwise, so we suck it up, and we build our platforms. We write our blog posts, we record our personal videos, we join social networks, etc. And then, invariably, after a particularly hard day or bad week, we look at ourselves in the mirror and we ask, "When do I get to stop doing this? When will the books start selling themselves?"


The answers to the above questions: never and most likely never. Branding is a never-ending journey. The marketing that supports your brand is the fuel needed to continue that journey. With the growing numbers of titles vying for readers' attention every day, week, and year, there is no break in the action if you want to be and stay noticed.


Branding is not a task. It's a way of life. It is you in a public forum being you. It's not something you have to invent. It's something you already are. You're just using you to support your book sales. Stop thinking of this as something you have to do. It's something you're already doing. You're just doing it on a grander scale, and the grander the scale, the more books you sell.


When it comes to building a brand, don't get bogged down with the idea of having to do something. You've already done it. In essence, you're just introducing people to your brand.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Branding 101: Tools for Branding

To Brand Or Not To Use Creative Branding - Learn The Real Marketing Secret

4,248 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, self-publishing, writing, promotions, branding

My writing philosophy is that my only responsibility is to serve the story and the characters within that story. The impact on the reader doesn't come into play when I write. You can agree or disagree with that philosophy. That's not the point of this post.


The point is that when I sit down to write I have this parameter in mind. It's my guidepost. Every time I write something that may be a bit outside the normal social bounds, something that makes me personally uncomfortable, I remind myself of my writing philosophy and recommit to the story with a sense of duty. It's a great device to stay on task and rid myself of that internal judge that may be preventing me from doing what needs to be done in my fictional world.


If you don't have a writing philosophy, I can't encourage you enough to develop one. Write it down and post it somewhere in your writing space, so you can have a visual reminder of why you do what you do whenever you need it.


Once you have your philosophy, make a commitment to hold true to that philosophy. Make a sacred agreement with yourself in good times and difficult times that you will stay committed to honoring that philosophy. Doing so will give your writing a consistency that will serve you well. You'll find yourself writing with more confidence and with a greater passion because you feel as if you are on a mission. Be true to your writing philosophy, and it will serve you in developing a unique literary voice.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Make Your Own Rules

Write without Judgment

905 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_philosophy

Write for No One

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 31, 2015

No one will read your book. That's what you should tell yourself every time you sit down to write. I don't think that's true. In fact, I have every reason to believe that your book will be a bestseller that will break every sales record in the publishing industry. I just don't want you to write with the reader and how many copies you will sell in mind.


If you start thinking about the reader when you write, you stop thinking about the story you're writing. What the reader will and won't like is irrelevant to you as a writer. Your job isn't to conform to expectations. Your job is to set expectations. Be bold if that's what your story requires. Be fierce if that's what your story requires. Even be predictable if that's what your story requires.


It's an old refrain of mine. You have no obligation except to those characters playing out the madness you're dreaming up. Think of them and only them when you write. And remember, you're not doing what's best for them. You're using them to fulfill the promise of your story. They are used for the good of the whole. The struggles and conflicts they face are the heartbeat that gives your story life. If you construct those struggles and conflicts in order to please the reader, you're writing an uninspired story with an artificial heartbeat.


Don't find your motivation to write in the reader. Find your inspiration to write in the story you're creating. If you see it from that perspective, it will be a liberating moment for you as you rush to finish your first draft.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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The "You" In Your Writing

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

4,231 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing

Do you feel the creative juices drying up? Has the stress of the day or the week or the “pick your period of time” got you struggling to put down a coherent passage on paper (computer screen)? Never fear because I have just the thing for you. Here are my five cures for those times when you lack the energy to be creative:


  1. Free thought time: Find a hobby centered on creativity outside of writing. Get out of the writer head-space, and redirect your creativity to another activity--something that involves a different way to create. Whether it’s photography, sketching, painting, knitting, etc., alternate creative endeavors can give your creativity more depth and distinctiom.

  2. A walk in the woods: Or on a greenway or in a park, walk wherever you connect with nature. Nature can do wonders to reboot your creativity. The crisp air, the smell of the greenery, the thrill of watching wildlife, there are countless ways in the wild to disconnect from hang-ups and kick-start your creativity.

  3. Work it out by hand: Step away from the computer and your normal writing space, grab a pen and notepad, and start writing without judgement. Just let it flow. You will most likely do some of the worst writing you’ve ever done using this method, but the quality of writing isn’t the point. The point here is to clear your mind of all that junk so you can make way for creative excellence.

  4. Meditate: I’m a student of Transcendental Meditation, and I can tell you from personal experience that meditation makes you feel more balanced and less stressed. Sitting in the dark with your eyes closed for 15-20 minutes focusing on nothing is an excellent way to make for a more fertile, creative mind.

  5. Set yourself up to be inspired: A great book, film or play often inspires me to start creating. I find inspiration in the author’s/creator’s talent, and I’m driven to improve as an artist.


These are five methods I’ve used to help get the creative juices flowing. What’s your strategy? How do you kick-start your creativity?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Unblocking Writer's Block

Is the Early Bird More Creative?

3,911 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self-publishing, writers, writing, creativity, writer's_block, writing_tips, writing_advice, author_tips, advice_for_writers

When your book comes out, it's natural to want to shout it from the rooftops--and you should! So many people want to write a book, yet few actually do, so you should celebrate your hard work. It's fun to say "Hey, I wrote a book!"


If you want your book to sell, however, you need to do more than just announce that it's out there. And that takes a different kind of work, one that isn't as fun. Promoting a book involves continuous outreach to multiple audiences via multiple channels, each of which might require a significant amount of follow-up. If you don't keep a record of whom you contact and when, it's easy to lose track of your efforts--and your momentum might die on the vine.


For example, imagine the following scenario:


Gloria goes online to look up regional alumni groups of her alma mater, UCLA. She finds that dozens of them have websites, so she contacts a bunch to see if they have book clubs, and if so, how to reach the organizers.


If Gloria has a system for tracking this part of her marketing campaign in place (I recommend a spreadsheet), she will:


A)   Know which alumni groups she has contacted--and when

B)   Have the contact information for the alumni groups stored in one place, so she won't have to research them again in the future

C)   Know which groups have book clubs, and which of those she has contacted

D)   Know which groups said yes, no, or maybe so and be able to follow up accordingly


If Gloria doesn't have a system in place, the only record of her campaign will be the outbox of her email program. She may have some success with that approach, but given how much follow-up is necessary to make things happen in a world where the people you're contacting are busy with their own lives, chances are a lot of her efforts will be for naught.


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at


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Marketing Tip: Create a Master Spreadsheet

Book Marketing via Email: Blind Copy and Newsletters

4,662 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, book_clubs

This post is going to be a little awkward because I'm going to encourage you not to draw attention to something by drawing attention to that very thing. Confused? Bear with me because I have my reasons.


Recently I was tested. I got a bad review for one of my books. My philosophy has always been not to take bad reviews personally. I've even celebrated a couple of the bad reviews I've received over the years because they were particularly witty or slightly too enormously outrageous in their criticism. My favorite bad review is when I was called evil. If you've never been called evil, let me tell you, it's not that bad. In fact, I consider it a kind of badge of honor.


The most recent bad review left me a little shell-shocked. The second half of the review I found acceptable. It actually addressed problems the reader had with the book. That's fair. We all have different tastes, and I can't expect everyone to be happy with what I write. The first part of the review had me--let's call it seething. The reviewer not so subtly insinuated that I must have paid for the positive reviews the book had received.


Here's what bothered me about that accusation, besides it not being true, it is something that could potentially hurt my brand. I felt a sudden rush of panic to fight for myself. I went to Facebook, typed an indignant status update spelling out my outrage, and then walked away from the computer to think of other clever and insightful ways to express the injustice of this review. Instead, I took the time to reflect on the potential damage I could be doing by throwing such a public hissy-fit. In the grand scheme of things, one unfair review that bordered on a personal attack really doesn't matter. I deleted the status update and went for a walk, feeling a little, but not markedly, better when I got home. By the end of the week, I had forgotten all about the review.


Well, not completely. Obviously, I'm mentioning it here today, but I'm doing so not because I'm still angry. I'm doing so because I'm not angry anymore, and the review didn't change my sales stats in the least. It did not damage my brand. Had I allowed myself to post my complaints and share it with my friends and followers, I would have most likely done more harm than good. My advice if you get a review that you believe is unfair and went over the line? Walk away, and don't draw attention to it.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Branding 101: Brand Sabotage

Why Responding to Negative Reviews Can Hurt Your Marketing

2,138 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, promotions, bad_reviews

Today's post is a bit different than ones I've done in the past. It's a request to my fellow indie authors. I know the struggles first-hand that you experience trying to bring attention to your brand and generate sales for your book. It's hard, relentless work that takes stamina and sustained energy to find success. We authors are constantly looking for angles to increase sales and find our marketing groove.


The one angle that I highly recommend staying away from is utilizing a tragedy to shift attention to your book. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about without naming names. A gentleman has a talk show where he frequently interviews people who've undergone unspeakably horrible events in their lives. On occasion, when a particular event fits the theme for a book he's written, he will overtly suggest that the audience should buy the book on his website. I have no doubt that he generates sales this way, but it is the grossest form of marketing. And, in my view, it stamps his brand with a severe lack of tact and ethics.


You most likely don't have a TV show to compete with this gentleman's outreach, but you do have a forum. You have your social network. If you plug a book in a thread about a national tragedy because you feel the subject matter fits your book's storyline, you invite a string of moral indignation and run the risk of severely damaging your brand. So, my request is that you don't do it. Avoid the temptation to grab that kind of marketing opportunity. You will feel better about yourself for doing so.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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How Not to Market

Use Common Sense in Book Promotion

2,255 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, book, author, promotion, book_marketing, promotions, branding, social_media, marketing_strategy, marketing_tip

Finding the Blue

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 17, 2015

It is the magic place where ideas come from, that mystical wonderland of creativity and ingenuity. All human beings look for it when they need to tap into their imaginations. We think of it as being outside of ourselves, but in actuality, it's not. It's in us, but many of us don't know how to find it when we think we need it. The truth is, I believe, it finds us when it needs us.


I am talking about the "Blue," the place where ideas come from. How many of us have answered the question, "How did you come up with the idea for your book?" with the response, "It really just came to me from out of the Blue." Of course, what we're saying is that we don't really know where the idea came from. It just came to us.


But, in a quasi-mystical sense, the Blue is an ethereal idea factory that is never short on inventory. The question for creatives like us is how to tap into it and gobble up as many of those ideas as we can. How do we find the Blue?


The first rule of finding the Blue is that there are no rules for finding the Blue--kind of. I believe strongly that there is an observer effect on the Blue. That is to say the Blue, when observed, changes behavior and cranks out tired old ideas that no one wants. But if you find a way to ignore the Blue, a way to keep your mind off it and go about your life forgetting you even know the Blue exists, then it will deliver a truckload of inspiration to your door.


So, how do you ignore the Blue? You enjoy your life. You find activities that will remove you from the world of writing and creating, and you find something that directs your focus so completely that the Blue is the last thing on your mind. For me it's walking my dog, nature photography, and time with family.


It's an odd paradox, I know. You have to hide from the Blue to find it, but as I said earlier, it needs you. Find you, it will.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Embracing Inspiration from Real-Life Moments

Unblocking Writer's Block

1,727 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, out_of_the_blue

Author Platform 2015

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 12, 2015

The author platform is a concept that grew out of the Internet age. Before the rise of virtual communication, the term or concept didn't really exist. Other than mainstream media personalities turned authors, there was no easily accessible way for authors to promote themselves on a consistent basis.


But when blogging became popular, authors found a way to insert themselves into the conversation on a daily basis. Then social media made it possible to interact with readers on a more intimate level. Then personal videos and podcasts became a part of the zeitgeist. In a short period of time, the idea that any author could have a platform to connect with readers wasn't only feasible, it became an absolute necessity.


So what do author platforms look like in 2015? In the past five years, little has changed in the way of social media sites. The major players remain unchanged. The same can be said about video sharing sites. Blogging has waned, but it's still an important cog in the author platform. The biggest change is that authors are now taking less of a diversified approach and committing a great deal of their time to one element of their platforms. They haven't abandoned the other tools, but they are now making one of the tools their primary focus. Which one depends on an author's skillset and comfort level. I've committed more of my time to social media where I can have almost immediate back and forth with readers. Other authors have made personal videos their major emphasis, while a smaller segment of the author community has found success with blogging.


What does the future hold for author platforms? It's impossible to tell, but long form online communication is becoming less and less popular as content competes for attention. Branding designed for tablets and smartphones is quickly becoming the norm. Here's what you need to keep in mind as you continue to develop your author platform: people are staring at relatively small screens, absorbing content on the go. Their time is precious, and their attention is easily diverted by their surroundings. Design your message to fit the technology. Your best bet is to keep your eye on sites like Mashable and Wired to stay tuned in to the trends and developments to increase your chances of becoming an early adopter of new technological advances and make the most of your platform opportunities.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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An Active Author Brand

Build Your Brand with Original Content

2,172 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, social_media, author_platform

I get a lot of emails from authors who are discouraged because they aren't having much luck with their marketing efforts. They want to know what my "secret" is because they think I have it all figured out.




Can I tell you something?


My "secret" is that I get discouraged too!


Let me share a true story: A few months ago I began chatting with the organizer of a book club that wanted to read my latest novel, Wait for the Rain. I live in New York, and they are in California, so we scheduled a Skype call. The group is part of a large social organization that has a Facebook page and Twitter account, so for weeks before the event they were promoting it all over social media. I wasn't sure how many women would be in attendance, but I was expecting a pretty good turnout given how much promotion they'd been doing.


The day of the meeting, the organizer sent out a final tweet of excitement. That evening I got my laptop all set up, logged in to Skype, and was all ready to go. The call was set for 9:30 p.m. my time.


Then 9:30 came and went. Radio silence.


At 9:40, the organizer emailed me to tell me that she was mortified. Only one other person had shown up to the meeting, and neither of them had read the book.


What did I do? I laughed. What else could I do? Sure, I was disappointed, even a little embarrassed, but I wasn't going to let it get to me because I'd learned not to let it get to me. If I'd given up on my marketing efforts the first time something like that had happened to me, I wouldn't be where I am now.


As I wrote in a recent post, book marketing is a numbers game. You have to keep playing--and laughing. I guess that's my secret!


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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Book Marketing Takes Persistence

Three Easy Marketing Ideas

5,838 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions

Most authors commit themselves to writing in one or maybe two genres. We do so because we are fans of the genre. It's what we grew up reading, and we usually subconsciously know the rules of the genre. It's what we know. It's what we love. It's what we prefer to read.


That's all well and good, but one can fall into the trap of the genre if one isn't exceedingly careful. I'm talking, of course, about writing material that is full of clichés. The more you're familiar with a genre, the more likely it is to happen. It's not something a writer sets out to do, but genres contain an unseen rhythm that writers can find themselves adhering to without even trying. It's an engrained pattern of story structure. Plots, setting, villains, protagonists--they all follow paths that are similar to other offerings in the genre.


So, how does one avoid the cliché trap? You become a genre bender. Shake things up by creating a new pattern. Personally, I think the easiest way to disrupt a genre without upsetting fans of the genre is to dive deeper in the character department. Make your villain vulnerable. Make your protagonist an antihero. Give traditionally male roles to a female. Expand the expected by doling out unexpected twists with character development. A writer who masters the art of creating character from the broad strokes of physicality to the nuanced elements of psyche is a writer who helps grow a genre and creates something new the next generation of writers will use as their guide to the genre.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Write a Genre-Bending Novel

A Genre Conundrum (and Solution)

1,995 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing

I'll admit it. I do it. When I smell the end of a book I've been working on for weeks or months, I will rush to a conclusion. Writing a book is a long journey that requires hyper-focus and almost inhuman mental stamina. You do more than invest time in a book; you invest your mind, body, and soul to write a coherent and engaging story. In short, it can get rough.


The temptation is to cut corners when you near the end. I mean, you've already devoted tens of thousands of words to this masterpiece you're writing. Will skipping a detail here and there over the next couple of thousand words really make that big of a difference? The obvious answer to this question is, yes, of course it will. Speeding to finish leaves room for mistakes, and it shows an indifference to those for whom you are most responsible--your characters.


Here's my advice if you find yourself getting closer to the end. Stop writing. Take a break from the project for a few days. Do your best to distract yourself from the story. Have some fun. Catch up on some sleep. At the end of the second or third day, print out a copy of your manuscript, find a secluded spot and read it, aloud if possible. Read it all the way through and then outline the conclusion. Make it crystal clear what you want to accomplish with the closing pages. Remind yourself what your story is about from a fresh perspective.


Then write those final pages, and commit yourself to making them even better with rewrites.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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A Satisfactory Ending

When Do You Know The Ending?

2,027 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, publishing, writing, drafts, rewrites, ending, author_tips, story_writing
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