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670 Posts tagged with the writing tag
1

I had a conversation with an individual organizing a marketing campaign for an upcoming play at a local theater. I've been to more than my fair share of plays. I've seen productions big and small, but I had never been exposed to what it takes to market a play. It was fascinating to hear all the ideas. I, of course, wondered if any of the ideas could be applied to the marketing of a book.

 

Most of what we talked about was venue specific, so it wasn't applicable to an author's needs. But one idea struck me as fairly universal. The theater discussed the possibility of "adopting" a charitable organization. While part of the proceeds from ticket sales would go to the charity, they would also include the charity's information in the program, make a direct pitch to the audience before each performance, and give the organization a prominent presence on the website, Facebook page and newsletter. While the strategy was designed to give the charity exposure, it would inevitably give the theater a brand boost, and it would build positive community equity that could be used to attract corporate sponsors and a wider audience. In essence, both sides win.

 

Authors could use a similar strategy. While the payoff wouldn't be associated with a venue-based event, it could be tied to a time period. For example, you could designate a week to providing exposure for a local or nationwide charity you feel passionately about. A portion of your proceeds that week would be donated to said charity. You would devote a week of blogging, Facebooking, personal videos and so forth to your charity. You could make it an annual or biannual event. You could even volunteer to write a piece for the charity's blog or newsletter.

 

If this is a strategy you wish to pursue, the most important piece of advice I will give you is to choose a charity you feel passionately about. It will make the work and effort you put into the strategy that much more rewarding. If the charity has a tie-in to the story in your book, that is an even bigger plus.

 

-Richard

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

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Giving Back: A Cautionary Tale

Form an Author Co-op

1,379 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, promotions, charity
2

We all know subplots are basically a device to give your story a word count that will make it a book-worthy document, right? Wrong. Subplots weren't created to fatten up stories to please consumers. At least, they shouldn't be.

 

Here is what subplots can really do for your book:

 

  • Subplots allow you to add depth to your characters. Your plot may revolve around a murder mystery, but a subplot involving a troubled marriage or a struggle with alcoholism gives you the opportunity to dive deeper into a character's life. Your characters have a place in your plot and can even drive the plot. Giving them subplots gives them their own place in the story.

  • Subplots can serve as a thread to tie books in a series together. A subplot that snakes through the background of one book can grow into the main plot for the next book. It gives your story layers that can shift from book to book.

  • Subplots give your story a reality that would otherwise be vacant. Real life is messy. Books are a series of carefully constructed events. Subplots give the illusion of chaos. They make things seem real-world crazy and messy.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't use subplots to beef up your book. I am, however, suggesting you don't consider upping your word count as beefing up your book. Readers will see it for what it is: padding. Subplots should be used to give your characters and story depth. That is how you beef up your book.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Turning Subplots into Plots

The Importance of Plot Points

5,006 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, writing, characters, craft, writing_style, writing_tips, writing_advice, pace, plot_points, subplot
0

Are you ready for the big screen - err, small screen - tiny, even? The Internet has given rise to storytelling in the form of online video. Some of these stories are doled out over several short videos to form a web series. Independent producers and uber-fans have taken their favorite books and turned them into popular web series. They range from literal adaptations to quirky, re-imagined versions.

 

Beyond giving you a unique take on your indie novel, a web series gives you another avenue for marketing your book and a new pool of fans to join your community. Here are my five rules for creating a web series:

 

  1. Keep it short - Chances are, in the beginning at the very least, your series is going to be a passing object of curiosity. People aren't likely to devote a half hour or even 15 minutes to watch your series. My advice is to keep the run time of each video in your series under five minutes.

  2. Keep it tight - With the innovation of smaller screens on handheld devices, long shots have lost their effectiveness. Details get lost on those itty-bitty screens, especially for someone with aging eyes like mine. Keep your shots as tight as you can while still allowing for the necessary action.

  3. Don't forget the sound - Bad audio on a video production will kill even the greatest cinematography and render your impeccable story unwatchable. Even casting a great actress like Meryl Streep won't save your production if your audio is subpar. Don't skimp on sound equipment. Get the best you can afford.

  4. Lighting - Even the camera on your mobile device is fairly sophisticated and can adapt to various light situations, but that doesn't mean you should take lighting shortcuts. A consistent look to your production is crucial for a web series. A lot of that signature look comes from the lighting. Take your time, and do it right.

  5. Cast - If you can't act, don't cast yourself in the series. Find people in your area who can not only act, but are willing to take direction. This is your series. Take charge.

Web series are becoming more popular every day. Now is the time to evaluate your material and determine if it can be adapted to short, episodic videos.

 

-Richard

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

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Social Networking Tour - Facebook

Build Your Brand with Original Content

1,739 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, web_series
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Get in Good with Goodreads - Writer's Digest

Veteran author Michael J. Sullivan shares his secrets to Goodreads success.           

                           

Reader Question: Grammar, Second Languages, and Book Soundtracks - All Indie Writers

Poor grammar and typos in your marketing material can cost you readers.         

 

Film

                                                        

Top Five Things I've Discovered about Promoting a Low Budget Children's Film - Projector Films

Be relentless, and be prepared for the long haul.     

                                          

The 11 Principles of Leadership for Filmmakers - Studio Binder

Know thyself, and know thy craft. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Nine Reasons a Guitar Pickup Sounds the Way It Does - Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture Music Production Blog

What seems simple can actually mean everything when it comes to tone.  

  

How to Use Craigslist to Book Music Gigs - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Can a free site help find paying gigs?  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- April 3, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- March 27, 2015

1,438 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, book, music, filmmaking, author, self-publishing, promotion, indie, movies, writing, guitar, promotions, reading, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, music_industry, grammar_tip, grammar_advice, music_gigs, music_shows
1

A gentleman by the name of Matthew Jockers "did some distance similarity metric calculations and machine clustering" to determine how many different kinds of basic plot structures exist in the world of storytelling. 90% of the time when he ran the test, the answer was that there are six different plot structures, and 10% of the time, the answer was seven. Either result suggests that we are all drawing from the same plot designs over and over again.

 

 

These results beg the question: how are we coming up with so many different variations of the same plots? The answer is fairly clear. It's the amount of "you" that goes into the story you're writing. You have a style. You may not even know what your style is, but you do have one. I've suggested before that it's important that you be able to identify what that style is. It will give you more confidence as a writer, and it will give you a less cluttered path to plotting your next story.

 

 

In a monthly workshop I attend, the one question that is asked of every writer after reading their material is "What makes today different than any other day in your story?" The same can be asked when trying to define your style. What makes your story different from the other stories that share the same plot? Is it your choice of character? Is it your choice of narrator? Is it your choice of setting? What constant theme pops up in everything you write and sets you apart? What is the "you" in your writing? 

 

-Richard

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

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Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

To Be a Professional Writer, Make a Professional Impression

1,920 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, selling, book, filmmaking, author, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, writing_tips
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One of the questions that authors often ask me is: "What should I blog/tweet about?" The answer depends on a lot of factors, but the most important is the subject matter of your book. While of course you want to promote your work, if that's all you do, it's going to be hard to attract - and keep - followers. Who wants to read endless tweets that constantly shout "Buy my book!"(Am I right?)

 

I recommend providing useful information that's related to the subject matter of your book. For example, if your book is about financial planning, you can share links to interesting articles about financial planning, offer advice about taxes, provide tips for budgeting, etc. If your book is fiction, perhaps tweet or blog about something related to the content, e.g., a specific location, a period of time, a recipe, etc. The key is to provide content that your followers will find useful so they will keep coming back - and perhaps even pass along your content to their own followers/friends.

 

The 80/20 rule usually refers to a situation in which 80 percent of the effects will result from 20 percent of the causes. (For example, it's a rule of thumb in business that 80 percent of a company's sales typically comes from 20 percent of its clients.) In social media, however, it means that 80 percent of the content you share should be informative and 20 percent should be promotional. That way you're able to keep your followers engaged and informed without them feeling constantly bombarded with pitches. If they appreciate all the great content you regularly provide them for free, they're more likely to want to read your book because they will view you as a source of good information. Plus, they may just want to say thank you.

 

-Maria

 

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Social Media Swap

Your Fans are Your Brand

6,023 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, social_media
1

Author Hangouts

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 6, 2015

Are you about to head off to that dream vacation in Austin? Perhaps you have a family reunion coming up in Seattle or a long weekend trip scheduled at your nearest resort destination. Wherever you're headed for a little R & R, chances are you have connections in that location you hadn't considered. Connections that, if made stronger, can help expand your author brand.

 

I am, of course, referring to the folks in your online social networking circle. I personally know about one percent of my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. By personally, I mean I've interacted with them in the real world. The people I have that kind of relationship with are some of my biggest supporters. If I had the opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with the other 99%, just imagine how much stronger the support for my brand would grow.

 

These types of meetings go by different names: Meet-ups, Tweet-ups, Hang-outs, etc. And they're fairly easy to organize. You can set up an event on Facebook and invite those friends you know that live in the area you'll be visiting. There are apps online that will find followers in a certain location to help you organize a Tweet-up. Pick a public spot to have coffee and get to know those folks you've only talked with online. You may even want to bring a few signed copies of your latest book as a thank you for valued members of your community.

 

If you're on your way to enjoy a little vacation time, why not organize an author hangout and get to know the folks in that community?

 

-Richard

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

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The Brand and the Pseudonym

 

Looking for Marketing Tips? Here's What's Working for One Indie Author - and What Isn't

3,255 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, promotions, branding, social_media
2

When I'm working on a book, there's nothing I fear more than staring at my computer screen and not knowing what to write next. I find it paralyzing, nerve-racking, depressing, and downright scary. When I'm writing a book but not actually writing anything, I feel an enormous sense of guilt because I'm not being productive.

 

At least, that's how I used to feel.

 

Recently I've realized that just because I'm not actually typing words on the keyboard, it doesn't mean that I'm not working on my manuscript. In fact, a lot of the work I put into my books happens when I'm not even at my desk. I letthe plot unfold in my head, essentially watching it as a movie before committing it to paper. That means that technically I'm working, even if I'm in the shower, or at the gym, or taking a walk. My brain is working on the book, which is what matters.

 

My personal challenge is to be patient and give my brain the time it needs to figure out how the story is going to unravel, wherever and however that happens. I've learned from experience that trying to force the creative process simply doesn't work. It leads to frustration and a lot of deleting.

 

The creative process is different for everyone, and if there were a sure-fire remedy for writer's block, I'd be first in line to buy it. But letting go of what you think it means to be "productive" is a good step in the right direction. Just be prepared to jot down notes when moments of inspiration strike. Not all the ideas that pop up will be golden, but you don't want to forget the ones that are!

 

-Maria

 

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Gaffes of Olympic Proportions

How to Help the Author in Your Life

3,065 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, author, writers, writing, craft, writer's_block, writing_tips
0

Don't let anyone tell you rewrites are easy. They aren't. There's the psychological hurdle of facing the fact that you are essentially starting over with a story that likely took you months to create, and then there's the added stress of shredding apart a piece of art into which you poured your heart and soul. I have found that every story I have extensively rewritten has been made significantly better. The trick to mastering the rewriting process is to find neutral ground from which to operate.

 

Here are the three simple steps to rewriting objectively.

 

  1. Time – Sitting down to rewrite immediately after completing a first draft or even a second draft is like trying to hike on a trail made of quicksand. You aren't going to get very far. You need time to detach yourself from the story. It once took me 12 years before I saw a rewriting path that made sense for me on one particular piece. I was so married to the original version, it was impossible for me to recognize the glaring flaws that were obvious, over a decade later. Now, that's an extreme example. I recommend giving yourself at least six weeks before you attempt to rewrite.

  2. Feedback – Let a few trusted individuals read your manuscript and offer them freedom to be brutally honest. Explain to them that your plans are to do a wholesale rewrite and whatever they have to say will only help. Promise them you won't take their criticism personally. To prove it, buy them a small gift after they've given you their feedback. It doesn't mean you'll incorporate all their recommended changes. It means you'll get food for thought. Seeking and waiting for feedback will also give you the distance from a project that will allow you to see your manuscript more objectively.

  3. Attitude – You have to go into a rewrite with the mindset that nothing is sacred. On the manuscript I discussed above, only one character kept his name and disposition. Everyone else changed in every conceivable way. One male character even became a woman. Don't trip yourself up by refusing to let go of a piece of your story. I'm not saying you have to make those kinds of changes. I'm simply saying that you have to be willing to make those kinds of changes.


It takes a certain amount of courage to take on a rewrite. Follow the three steps above, and it should make the journey a little less perilous.

 

-Richard

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

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The Art of the First Line

I vs. Me

1,936 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, rewrites
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Lessons from a Great Book Jacket Designer - The Book Deal

Tips on how to make the cover of your book stand out.         

                           

Quit Being a Commodity: 10 Ways to Get Visibility and Stand Out - The Future of Ink

Is exclusivity the key to marketing success in publishing?        

 

Film

                                                        

Drones Are about to Change How Directors Make Movies - Wired

Do you have a better way to get that cool aerial shot?     

                                          

How to Achieve Your Filmmaking Goals Fast - Filmmaking Stuff

Start with giving yourself a deadline.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Mind-Expanding Music Marketing - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

How to push yourself and step up your marketing game.  

  

Learning to Sing Does Not Need to Take Hours a Day - How to Sing Better

Practicing a few key techniques just 15 minutes a day can make you a better singer.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 20, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- March 13, 2015

1,569 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, selling, music, design, book_design, author, promotion, indie, movies, writers, blogging, writing, films, promotions, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, social_media, singing, book_covers, firecting
2

Good dialogue can bring your characters to life and engage your readers by making them feel immersed in the fantasy world you've created. On the flip side, poorly constructed dialogue can break the magical spell of the story. When I'm reading a conversation between two or more characters and lose track of who is talking, I get confused and frustrated. And when I'm confused and frustrated, I'm not enjoying the book.

 

To make it clear who is talking without overusing "said," you can use a combination of beats and attribution. For example, here's a conversation among three characters:

 

John glanced around the party. "Do you think she's going to come?" (Glanced around the party is a beat.)

 

Jeff shrugged and took a sip of his beer. "God knows I've given up trying to figure that girl out." (Shrugged and took a sip of his beer is a beat.)

 

"Hey now, don't be mean," Shana said. "Maybe she's just running late."

 

"Speak of the devil, look who just walked in. Six o'clock," Jeff said.

 

John stiffened. "Can I look without embarrassing myself?" (John stiffened is a beat)

 

Shana giggled and squeezed John's shoulder. "I love how nervous you are. It's cute." (Shana giggled and squeezed John's shoulder is a beat.)

 

The above combination of attribution and beats makes it clear who is talking without overusing "said." Plus the use of beats shows us how the characters are feeling without telling us. (See my post on show vs. tell if you're not familiar with the concept.)

 

You want your readers to lose themselves in your story, and dialogue is a wonderful way to let them do it. Provide them with a seamless experience, and you're well on your way.

 

-Maria

 

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Avoid Confusing Dialogue

Improving Dialogue

2,132 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, dialogue, action_beats, dialgue_tags
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Are You Ready for a Book Signing? This Checklist Will Help - Book Marketing Tips

An infograph to help your next book signing be a success.         

                           

Marketing Versus Sales with Jim Kukral - The Creative Penn

Marketing is the setup, and sales is the close.        

 

Film

                                                        

Attention, Filmmakers: Six Tips for Getting Your Film Financed - Indiewire

You will find financing if you are confident, prepared and persistent.

 

Filmmaking Advice from Seven Directors with Feature Films at Sundance - No Film School

Don't wait to get experience to start your career in film; learn as you go.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Start My Music Career - Hypebot.com

Are you prepared for the many hats you'll be required to wear?  

 

Additive Synthesis - Give me more! - AudioFanzine

The art of stacking audio sounds.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 13, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- March 6, 2015

1,460 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, book, music, filmmaking, audio, author, promotion, feature, movies, writers, writing, book_signing, films, promotions, musicians, social_media, book_sales, filmming_cost
1

This is a lesson I learn every day - not always via positive reinforcement. The links you share on social media reflect on your author brand. When you point someone to an article or blog post, you're giving your tacit endorsement of that article or blog post unless you disavow the article in your status update linking to it. Even then, your comment may get lost in the virtual muck and mire of the internet, so you have to be very careful.

 

I've learned about the internet that it's very hard for people to disassociate the message from the messenger. I may link an article on my Facebook page from a blog because I think it has interesting information, but a lot of my Facebook friends will immediately attribute it to me. I have no connection to the article other than that of any other reader, but since I included it in my newsfeed, it suddenly becomes my article.

 

I tell you this not to scare you away from controversial topics or unpopular subject matter. I tell you this so you will be prepared for the criticism that may come your way. The criticism won't hurt your brand. How you respond to that criticism will. Respond in a way that will allow you to sleep at night.

 

Sharing links to articles and blog posts is a quick and effective way to build your social media circle, which in turn will strengthen your brand. But always remember that you will be associated with whatever you share. Now, go forth and share accordingly.

 

-Richard

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

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"Myself" Is Not a Substitute for "I"

Word Count Paralysis

4,117 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, branding, social_media
16

I recently read two indie books that shared the following problem: they were both infested with run-on sentences. I don't throw around the word "infested" very often, but I'm using it here to make a point. The run-on sentences ruined the reading experience for me. I was so distracted by the errors that I couldn't focus on the stories.

 

In both the books in question, the run-on sentences usually occurred in dialogue. Here are two examples, with enough words changed to protect the guilty:

 

Example #1

 

What was written?

 

"What do you mean," John said running his fingers through his hair.

 

How should it have been written?

 

"What do you mean," John said, running his fingers through his hair.

 

or

 

"What do you mean," John said as he ran his fingers through his hair.

 

or

 

John ran his fingers through his hair. "What do you mean?"

 

The problem with the original structure is that it means that John literally said the words "running his fingers through his hair."

 

Example #2

 

What was written?

 

"I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced," Lisa said giggling.

 

How should it have been written?

 

"I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced," Lisa said, giggling.

 

or

 

Lisa giggled. "I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced."

 

or

 

"I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced," Lisa said with a giggle.

 

The problem with the original structure is that it means that Lisa literally said the word "giggling."

 

Do you see the difference in the above examples? Commas are small, but that doesn't mean they aren't important! If you don't want to use them for whatever reason, be sure to adjust the structure of your sentence accordingly. Remember: you want your readers to focus on the story, not the grammar.

  

-Maria

 

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Sensitive Topics

Quick Lesson on Hyphens

5,036 Views 16 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, run-on_sentences
15

Physical Features

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 16, 2015

He was tall, six foot two, with blond hair and blue eyes. His chiseled cheeks accented a beautiful roman nose, and his three percent body fat gave him the appearance of a Greek god. His long elegant toes were those of a man who appreciated a good pedicure. If not for the irregular mole three inches above his left knee, he would have been the perfect male specimen. His right thumb was...


 

Am I crazy, or is that entirely too much description? Have you ever asked yourself how much character description is too much? I know this leans into the personal preference category, but I'm curious to know how other authors approach the task of providing physical descriptions of their characters.


 

My approach? Most of the time I use limited details when describing my characters. Perusing the introduction of two characters in my last book, I found one physical description. "Step stretched his skinny neck forward." From there, you'll find a reference to his bony fingers and his sharp jawline, but other than that I don't dive deeper. I don't get into eye or hair color. His exact height is never given. In fact, I typically don't say a lot about a character's physical features. My philosophy is that a reader can take my sparse descriptions and use them to build features with which they are familiar. In essence, their mind's eye creates a character that they recognize from their own lives. I don't have any scientific evidence that this is indeed the case, but I know it works for me. As I read, I fill in the blanks if the descriptions of physical features are not given.


 

How about you? How do you approach describing your characters' physical features?

 

 

-Richard

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

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When to Say "I Don't Care"

Why Grammar Matters

3,472 Views 15 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, physical_features
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