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635 Posts tagged with the writing tag
4

The following idea hinges on the notion that every creative venture - whether it's writing, painting, designing a new prosthetic limb, etc. - almost always starts with two words: "What if." From those two words springs an idea. From that idea, in the case of a writer, springs a plot. From that plot, springs a story.

 

Since "what if" is such a pivotal element in the creative process, perhaps we should be asking the question more often. Just as runners train for marathons by running long distances every day, maybe we should train for creating stories by asking ourselves that question several times a day. How might one conduct this writing training? Try carrying a small "what if" notebook with you and putting yourself in situations where there's a large crowd of people, like a mall, a park, or a museum. Observe how they interact. Don't eavesdrop on conversations or intrude on anyone's privacy; just observe. Pull out your "what if" notebook and invent lives for them.

 

Your entries may look something like this:

 

  • "What if the elderly couple holding hands had just found each other after being apart for 50 years?"

  • "What if the child crying because his mother won't buy him a new toy grows up hating toys and becomes a super-villain determined to destroy all the toys on the planet so no child will ever know the joy of a toy?"

  • "What if the guys throwing a Frisbee in the park unknowingly hit a tiny alien spaceship, killing the aliens onboard and causing an invasion by a tiny, yet far more advanced race of alien beings?"

 

Will these "what if" questions ever become stories? Not likely, but simply taking the time to ask them keeps my story-forming muscles in shape. It may take dozens of entries before I ask a "what if" question that gives rise to the plot of my next book. The point is to keep asking the question until I find the one that speaks to me and sends me running to my laptop to start fleshing out the story.

 

Here's another one for you: What if this strategy leads to your next book?

 

-Richard

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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

1,304 Views 4 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: author, writers, writing, inspiration, craft
1

I recently received this e-mail from Sara, a loyal subscriber to my newsletter:

 

I'm nearing the end of my book, and it has possibilities for three different endings. I'm considering asking people I know to read all three versions and give me feedback on which one they like best, and why they prefer one over another. I'm also considering publishing this as a novella in three different versions, with each version having one of the three endings. Would you consider this to be a good way to start, for a first-time author like me? If so, could you discuss this in one of your blog columns?

 

I think asking people she knows to read all three endings and provide feedback is a fantastic idea. However, I don't think Sara should publish multiple endings. Here's why:

 

1)  Sara is a first-time novelist, i.e. no one knows who she is. If she were famous for some other reason, or if she were Stephen King, I'd say go for it! But it's hard enough for a debut author to get the word out about one book, much less three versions of it.

2)  Sara is going to confuse potential readers. For example, if she puts all three versions up for sale as an eBook, how is she going to explain them to people who are just browsing for a good read?

3)  If Sara publishes three different endings as an independent author, she's going to need three different covers, editors, proofreaders, and designers, and all that costs money.

 

Writing, publishing, and marketing a book is hard work, especially when it's your first one. So my advice is to stick to one story and do your best to build an audience for it. If over time you develop a loyal fan base, perhaps then you can play around with multiple endings. For now, however, I'd choose one and stick with it.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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The Importance of Endings

It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

1,029 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, craft, multiple_endings
2

I've stressed many times that in order to build a brand, you have to be multidimensional. Being an author is awesome, but there's only so much you can say in public forums about publishing, writing, and selling books. However, frequency is your friend when it comes to building an author platform; the more you're online and seen, the more awareness you're building for your brand.

 

So how do you achieve that sort of volume? You branch out beyond the topic of your books and harness the built-in fellowship that comes with hobbies. It doesn't matter what hobbies you enjoy; there is more than a good chance that whatever hobbies you like make you part of a group, whether you know it or not. Generally more than just one or a few people enjoy a specific hobby, especially in the global community that is the World Wide Web. There are others out there who enjoy the same things you do. Type in your hobby with the word "association" in the search engine of your choice, and chances are you'll find an online group dedicated solely to that hobby.

 

Join the group and start making connections based on your mutual interest. The hobby should always take center stage, but there are times when it's appropriate to discuss things other than the common interest. Over time, you'll find you've cultivated a wider network of friends, and an entire new group of readers. They'll have a different relationship with you than your average reader, too. You'll be their "vintage cars buddy," or their "cryptozoology buddy," or whatever the hobby. They will have a special connection with you other than your writing.

 

To build a brand, you have to have depth. It will give you the opportunity to get wider exposure for you and your books. In short, it will help you find more readers.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

Book Marketing Tip: Hold On to Your Contacts

13,979 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, promotions, branding
1

I'm feeling bad today because I'm not tortured. Wait...what? Let me explain. I grew up with the idea that writers are tortured artists. They suffer at the feet of their prose because they feel so deeply, and live in anguish over every word they write to tell their stories. When I decided I wanted to be a writer, I assumed that's where I was headed. I was trading in my happy-go-lucky lifestyle for the brooding existence of a word-jockey. 

 

The problem is that some 20 years after making that decision, I'm still happy, happier even. How did that happen? Could I possibly have done something wrong? Am I not a real writer because I'm not a tortured, dark soul tearing my heart out with each sentence I craft? 

 

I'm confident that I'm a writer. I've got the tax forms to prove it. I even consider myself an artist. The years behind me and some of the decisions I've made tell me that much. The truth is that most writers I've met have been well-adjusted and perfectly happy citizens of the world, and by the way, they're talented, too. That's not to say we aren't met with frustrations and setbacks. We are, but so is every other living person on the planet. 

 

So, where did this portrait of the tortured artist come from? Unfortunately, there are those writers who suffer for their art, and sometimes that suffering turns to tragedy. You need to look no further than John Kennedy Toole and Ernest Hemingway for examples of such writers. Their suffering became legendary and romanticized. A young writer who idolizes their talent may even get the idea that such greatness comes at a cost. 

 

It doesn't, or at the very least, it doesn't have to. There are far more authors out there who have achieved tremendous success while maintaining a healthy life balance. So if you're a young writer reading this, you're probably not destined for a life of heightened lament just because of the profession you've chosen. You can choose to be a writer and be happy; chances are you'll live a happier life for it.     

 

-Richard

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

 

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Science Can Help You Be a Better Artist!

Why Are You An Author?

1,222 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, selling, sales, writing, craft
2

More Word Mix-ups

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 19, 2013

A few posts back, I pointed out some common words and phrases I've seen writers get mixed up. Today I'd like to point out a few more:

 

What they say: That sweater really compliments your hair color.

What they should say: That sweater really complements your hair color.

 

What they say: The tickets to the show were complementary.

What they should say: The tickets to the show were complimentary.

 

What they say: I was just laying around doing nothing.

What they should say: I was just lying around doing nothing.

 

What they say: There are no acceptions to that rule.

What they should say: There are no exceptions to that rule.

 

What they say: You must except what they are saying.

What they should say: You must accept what they are saying.

 

What they say: The affect of the storm will be significant.

What they should say: The effect of the storm will be significant.

 

The above mistakes are minor on their own, but if you make too many of them, it's going to create a negative impression on whoever reads your book. That's why I strongly recommend hiring a copyeditor if you go the indie route. (I also recommend hiring a creative/developmental editor. See my post about the difference between the two.) If you can't afford a copyeditor, ask a friend, preferably one who is super particular about syntax and grammar, to do it in exchange for a nice dinner, spa treatment, etc. That way you can focus on the intended meaning behind your words and let someone else focus on the details.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Does Grammar Matter?

Everyone Needs an Editor!

1,146 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writers, writing, grammar
2

Peripeteia is when a character meets a sudden, unexpected reversal of fortune. Normally, things go from good to bad for the character. Last week, we discussed anagnorisis, a hidden truth, in Oedipus Rex. That hidden truth led to the peripeteia in the story: Oedipus' fortune changed dramatically when he discovered the hidden truth.

 

A more recent example of peripeteia can be found in a book called A Simple Plan written by Scott Smith. That moment comes when three men find more than $4 million in a duffle bag amidst the debris of a plane crash in the middle of the woods. The money represents a literal reversal of fortune for these three men, who are far from wealthy. However, things go badly for them when they struggle with the paranoia and distrust that grows between them.  

 

When Dr. Malcolm Crowe learns his hidden truth (anagnorisis) in M. Night Shyamalan's film The Sixth Sense, the peripeteia cannot be any worse. Spoiler alert: Dr. Crowe realizes he's been dead the entire time he's been treating a patient who has the ability to speak to and see the dead. Talk about your reversal of fortunes! In one horrifying moment, Dr. Crowe went from a living, breathing human being to a ghost.  

 

However, this reversal doesn't always have to send characters down a devastating path. In the film Trading Places, Dan Aykroyd's character goes from being extraordinarily successful to living on the streets in a blink of an eye, but it is not his end. It actually changes his life for the better.

 

Does your story contain perpeteia? What is the reversal of fortune for your characters?   

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.
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What is Your Pivot Point?

Elements of a Page-turner

42,994 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, movies, writing, fiction, craft
3

In my previous two posts, I asked some of my author friends where and when they most like to write. This week I asked them about preferred background noise. Personally, I alternate between complete silence and the kind of soft music they play at fancy spas. I can't have anything with lyrics or I'll get distracted. Here's how the others get the most work done:

 

  • Karen McQuestion, whose newest book is a paranormal young adult novel called Edgewood: "Complete silence. I self-distract very easily, so tuning out the world is essential in order for me to immerse myself in my fictional world."

 

  • Jezra Kaye, author of The Tattooed Heart: "My preferred noise level is zero, or maybe a little soft jazz in the background."

 

  • Raymond Bean, author of the School Is a Nightmare and Sweet Farts series: "It depends on what I'm writing. I'm a bit of a mixed bag on this one. I'll put on a game or music (no lyrics) from time to time, but silence works best for me."

 

 

I love how different we all are, don't you? Our reasons for preferring different noise levels might have to do with the type of book we're writing, or why we're writing it, or our energy levels at any given time. It also may be none of the above, just as there's no real explanation for why I like chocolate ice cream and you like vanilla. It just goes to show that there's no "right" answer to any of this. Writing is an art, not a science. So if you want to be an author, my advice is this: when it comes to churning out an entire book, the only correct way to do it is to just sit down and write.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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More Tips for Completing Your Manuscript

Inspiration Can Be Everywhere

1,298 Views 3 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writers, writing, craft, background_noise
1

There is no doubt that Oedipus Rex by the Greek playwright Sophocles is one of the most seminal pieces of storytelling in the history of the art form. The tragedy, one of a trilogy, was first performed in 429 BCE, and it is still performed today. The story is lauded for its examination of the struggle between fate and free will. It's often called the perfect tragedy because it paints the picture of a heroic king with wealth and power who is essentially undone by his own hands. It's also important to those of us who study story structure because it contains a shining example of the storytelling device known as anagnorisis.

 

Before I define anagnorisis, let's look at a short summary of Oedipus Rex. The kingdom of Thebes is suffering from a curse. The king, Oedipus, is determined to uncover the origins of the curse and how it can be lifted. He discovers that the basis of the curse lies in a prophecy that he will one day kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus leaves his homeland and adoptive parents to avoid the prophecy, only to stumble upon his birthplace where - not knowing the identity of his biological parents - he indeed kills his father and marries his mother. In his effort to avoid fate through free will, he actually fulfills his fate.

 

This is the dialogue from the play when Oedipus realizes he's fulfilled the prophecy:

 

All come to light! All the prophecies true!

O light, may you never flood my eyes again!

I, Oedipus, damned in my birth, damned in my marriage,

Damned in the blood I shed with my own hands.

 

This moment, this uncovering of the hidden truth is what's known as anagnorisis in storytelling. It is a revelation that alters a character completely. It makes a character question everything he has known to that point. More often than not, it leaves him with a crisis of identity or faith.

 

But an anagnorisis is not a sudden revelation; it is something that is revealed overtime. It still contains the element of surprise, but the journey of the story to the point of anagnorisis is often filled with hints as to what the hidden truth really is. In essence, it's a tool that keeps the readers/audience engaged and compels them to assemble the clues as they follow along, and as a result, builds apprehension and anticipation. A gifted storyteller will even manage to shed doubt on the validity of the clues that lead to the truth to keep the final reveal somewhat in question. When it's done right, it is a masterful storytelling trick to behold.

 

So, do you use anagnorisis as a storytelling tool? Can you think of other examples of anagnorisis used in literature, film, or theater?

 

-Richard

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

 

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The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

1,529 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, storytelling, craft, anagnorisis
7

In last week's post, I asked some author friends where they like to write. This week I asked them when they prefer to write. While I tend to be the most productive in the middle of the day and late afternoon/early evening, their answers were quite different:

 

  • Karen McQuestion, whose newest book is a paranormal young adult novel called Edgewood: "Morning is best! But not too early in the morning, if I can help it. I love my sleep too."

 

  • Jezra Kaye, author of The Tattooed Heart: "I love to write in the middle of the night, when the world is quiet and I can hear myself think."

 

  • Raymond Bean, author of the School Is a Nightmare and Sweet Farts series: "I write almost exclusively at night. I'm sharpest when the activity of the day is long gone and the house is quiet. I wish I could type in my sleep, I'd have so many more books."

 

  • Ellen Greenfield, author of Come From Nowhere: "Although I'd like to say I come to the page daily, the truth is that I have a pretty demanding weekday work schedule and I save up a week or more of book ideas and then dive in for marathon sessions in the studio on weekends. Once I'm in there, you can't pry me loose all day."

 

The time authors can devote to writing varies from person to person, but the important thing to take from this is that these authors are making the time. It might take some experimentation to get into a regular writing schedule, but you'll be more productive for doing so.

 

Next week, these authors will share what they listen to in the background, so stay tuned...pun intended!

 

In the meantime, let's hear from you! What times of day do you find to be most productive for writing?

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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More Tips for Completing Your Manuscript

Advice from New York Times Bestselling Author Guy Kawasaki

3,343 Views 7 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, craft, productive
4

In today's blog, I'd like to take a step back from brand building strategies and tools and focus solely on brand identity. I spend a lot of time writing about blogging, social media, personal appearances, etc. Those are important tactics for creating brand awareness, but they are not your brand. I've even said that your brand is simply you - your personality - on display for all the world to see. It is, but as an author, your brand is more than a package of your insights and online musings.

 

At the very core of your brand is your writing. The quality of your author brand lies squarely in the quality of your writing.

 

It's a point I don't reference enough in my postings about building a brand, but it's something you should never lose sight of as you move forward in your indie author career. Your writing matters much, much more than all the other things you do to build your brand. Effective marketing may lead a reader to a book, but if the book's content is sub-par, you risk one of two things: the reader tells no one about it or the reader even discourages others from reading it.

 

That's why I think it's important not only to practice the skill every day but to study the craft. Talk with other authors about their philosophies on writing. Explore the history and evolution of the written word. Try out different writing styles until you find the best one for you. Become an expert on writing.

 

Sometimes in our pursuit of book sales and brand value, we neglect the thing that brought us here: writing. Most of us didn't start writing to get rich or become famous. Most of us took up writing because it's our passion, something we love to do. We may not even be able to explain why we love it so much, but we do. We write not to build a brand; our writing is our brand.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Build Your Brand with Original Content

Building an Author Brand is Easy

3,424 Views 4 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, social_media, brand_identity
0

There is a point in a book on which all things after it depend. In essence, the direction of the story and character development relies on this integral action. It doesn't matter the genre or length of a story - that one defining moment is still there. Let's call it the pivot point; without it, a story can appear to be a meandering, pointless mess.


A pivot is a powerful thing. It changes everything. In essence, dealing with change is what stories are about. The change characters face presents itself at that pivot point. Characters are forced to choose between two paths: do nothing and remain as they are, or follow the pivot and become something entirely different. Here are some pivot examples:


  • A man finds out he has cancer and is forced to pursue an illegal form of work in order to raise money quickly so he can leave his family a nest egg.
  • A happily married couple is faced with mistrust for the first time when one of them engages in infidelity.
  • A child has to learn a new way of life when his or her parents divorce.


The cancer diagnosis, the infidelity, and the divorce all are pivot points that are the foundation of character growth and a story's action.

 

If you're working on a novel, identify your pivot point. What is the event that forces change on your characters and provides them with the impetus for growth? And by growth, I don't necessarily mean what makes them better people. What action changed them, for better or worse? If you find that pivot point, you'll most likely find the 'mission statement' of your book. Not only will it make staying on task much easier as you write, it also will make the dreaded short book description and back cover copy much easier to write when the time comes.

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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Book Marketing Tip: Stay Positive

The Author Bio is an Important (and Often Overlooked) Marketing Tool

1,049 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, selling, book, writing, fiction, craft
9

 

I used to write in coffee shops, but now I write almost exclusively at my desk, which is located in a tidy corner of my living room. It's not a separate office, but it works just great for me. I thought it would be fun to ask some author friends where they feel most productive. Here's what they had to say:

 

  • Karen McQuestion, whose newest book is a paranormal young adult novel called Edgewood: "I converted a former bedroom into a home office and it's perfect for writing! I have a mahogany desk with my regular computer, a recliner in the corner for when I use my laptop, a bookcase, and an electric fireplace, which keeps me warm in the winter."

 

  • Jezra Kaye, author of The Tattooed Heart: "I usually write in my home office, but the best place I ever wrote was on the balcony of my room on a Caribbean cruise ship (my husband had a gig, or trust me, this wouldn't have happened). Warm air, big sky, the boat cutting quietly through the ocean, oh my God it was great!"

 

  • Raymond Bean, author of the School Is a Nightmare and Sweet Farts series: "I've tried writing in different places. When I was in college, I wrote at the library and coffee shops. I don't think I'd be able to focus in a busy place anymore. Sitting at my desk with the laptop and a marble composition notebook is best for me."

 

  • Ellen Greenfield, author of Come From Nowhere:"I write in my head at all times and places: in the subway, in bed at 3 a.m., in the shower, on long road trips...but I really get down to cases in a wonderful little studio that my husband built with his own two hands. It has windows opening onto two ponds and has a nice long desk (made from an old door) covered with all the totem objects that support me."

 

In upcoming posts, I'll also ask these talented authors what time of day they prefer to write, as well as their preferred background noise levels. Should be interesting!

 

Now it's your turn to weigh in: Where do you like to write, or where is the best place you've ever written?

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Four Forms of Creativity Fuel

Creative Writing Exercises

3,665 Views 9 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, craft
1

In order to build an author brand, you have to know more than what you do well; you have to know what you don't do well. In other words, what are your weaknesses?

 

It's a fair assumption that, as authors, our strength lies in writing since that's what we do. Maintaining a blog? That may be easy for you since most of blogging relies on the written word. Participating in social media? Again, not a huge leap from our normal writing pursuits, though the style is different from platform to platform. It's a given that everyone will be better at some marketing activities over others.

 

But creating a brand goes beyond tactics and has more to do with who you are as a person. So what are your branding weaknesses? As you dive in and do a little soul-searching on the topic, look beyond the various media that make up your brand-building toolkit, and examine your personality traits as well. Are you a positive person who enjoys lifting people up? Then don't adopt a combative persona just because you think controversy sells. Are you the type of person who speaks your mind in a clear and entertaining manner? Then go for it. Don't avoid showcasing your true personality because you think it will conflict with the readers of your genre. To put it succinctly, don?t lead with your weakness just because you've seen that particular trait work for another author; lead with your strength.

 

It's absolutely essential that you know who you are in order to build a successful author brand. It's not a revelation that comes to you immediately; it's something you will discover as you build the foundation for your brand. You'll know what feels right and what doesn't each time you take an action toward building your brand. Those things that feel right, those are your strengths. Your weaknesses are those things that just don't feel quite right. Over time, you'll hit your stride and leave those weaknesses behind.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Is Your Brand Built for Controversy?

Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

1,936 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, promotions, brand, craft
2

Suspense novels rely heavily on one key ingredient to make them successful: suspense. It may sound obvious and it's not hard to define, but it sure is hard to pull off. Not only does your overall theme need to be steeped in suspense, but practically every moment of your story should contain suspenseful elements in order for it to satisfy veteran readers of the genre. In short, it needs to be a page-turner.

 

Page-turners contain three key ingredients that hook the reader over and over again:


  1. Compelling Characters - You can't have a page-turner without characters that readers either care deeply about or hate intensely. The trick is to write characters that elicit emotional responses on both sides of the spectrum. Readers should be invested in your protagonist's success, and the old adage "everyone loves an underdog" is true. A good guy in a suspense novel is usually a character who has experienced loss and has to find the strength within to fight when everything says he or she will lose yet again. On the flip side, the bad guy has to demonstrate a disregard for everything and everyone except their own selfish interests.
  2. The Slow Reveal - Using the word "slow" in reference to a page-turner is an oxymoron, but if you think about it, page-turners contain a series of events that lead to a satisfying conclusion over the course of tens of thousands of words. Each chapter should serve as a step to that conclusion. Hints and fakes as to what that conclusion may be should be alluded to in order to lead the reader into a fit of involuntary guessing games. They'll be compelled to read to determine if they're right or if you have a surprise in store for them.
  3. Unpredictably - To keep readers turning the page, you want to convince them that a twist waits for them. You do that by teasing them with the occasional predictable outcome in a scene. Lull them into a false sense of security that they know what's going to happen, only to be jolted by an utterly unforeseen action. If you can pull this dance off from chapter to chapter, you'll create readers who don't just want to read your book, they'll need to read your book.


The fourth unnumbered and unseen ingredient of a page-turner is rewrites. Never are rewrites more crucial than when trying to pull off this type of book. It takes careful crafting to create prose that will titillate a reader from page to page. All the pieces have to fit together like a puzzle. Take your time and don't be afraid to surprise yourself either. If you don't see it coming, chances are your readers won't either. 

 

-Richard

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


 

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After the First Draft

The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

19,824 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: writing, fiction, craft, branding
1

What Is a Platform?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 19, 2013

A platform is the publishing industry's term for how you will market your work. No matter what type of book you write or who publishes it, it's important to develop a platform. If you have a traditional publishing contract, you may get some marketing support, but if you go the indie route, it's all up to you. (However, most traditionally published authors still must spend a great deal of time working to build up their own platforms. I'm a good example of this.)

 

The simple truth is that the bigger your platform, the better your chances of selling books. A platform can vary based on the content of your work and whether or not you write fiction or nonfiction, but here are some general examples of elements and metrics that a strong platform should include:

 

  • Confirmed views and/or subscribers to your blog and/or newsletter
  • Monthly (unique) visitors to your website
  • Social media followers and interactions
  • Existing client base (e.g. if you write a book about financial planning, to how many clients can you promote it?), or average audience size
  • List of upcoming speaking engagements

 

Do you have any of these? If not, you really should. I've blogged about all of them at one point or another, so please look back at previous posts for ideas on how to get started.

 

Remember, if you want to make money as an author, the actual writing is just one small part of the job, at least until you get to Stephen King status. For the rest of us, for success to happen down the road, we need to roll up our sleeves and build our platforms now.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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