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658 Posts tagged with the writing tag
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Let's face it: as novelists, we often have to do awful things. Even though the awful things we do are to imaginary characters in works of fiction, they still don't always come easily. Our jobs are to bend, break, and build characters.

 

I've said many times on this blog that you can't let yourself worry about the reader when you write. Uninteresting novels with flimsy characters are what happens when you write for the reader. You must remain committed to what's best for the story in order for it to be authentic and worthwhile. We all know that sometimes what's best for the story is to challenge characters in unthinkable ways.

 

And this applies no matter what category or genre you specialize in. Let's look at an example from a children's book: how many of us were devastated when E.B. White did not let Charlotte live in Charlotte's Web? Wilbur had to face the loss of his dear friend. He had to experience grief and anguish.

 

Try to think of what would have happened if Charlotte hadn't died. What if E.B. White couldn't bring himself to do that one awful thing and he spared the beloved spider? You'd end up with a story that lacks any kind of depth. In fact, I'm willing to bet the story would have been somewhat of a disappointment, and it likely wouldn't have gone on to influence generations of young readers.

 

Do those awful things, not because you're a bad person, but because it's the right thing to do for your story. Your characters will be richer, your plots will be better developed, and your readers will have a much more fulfilling reading experience for it.

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Peripeteia: Another Storytelling Tool Explained

1,089 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writing, characters, craft, character_development, character_arc
1

Adverbs are words used to modify verbs or adjectives. For example:

 

  • He is highly paid.
  • She reacted negatively.
  • We cheered wildly.
  • She is extremely friendly.

 

(A trick to identifying adverbs is that they can't stand alone. You can say "She is friendly," but you can't say "She is extremely.")

 

Adverbs can add great color to your writing when they are sprinkled in here and there. But if used too often or in place of crisper descriptions, especially in dialogue, they can have the opposite effect and make your writing appear bland and lazy.

 

For example, which of the following sentences paints a better picture in your mind of what is happening?

 

Scenario A (adverbs are in bold):

 

  • When Susan heard the news, she reacted extremely negatively. "I won't stand for that!" she replied dramatically.

 

Scenario B: (no adverbs)

 

  • Susan stomped her foot twice upon hearing the news and shouted, "I won't stand for that!"

 

Or these:

 

Scenario A (again, adverbs are in bold):

 

  • Jack had been dying to see that movie. "What are you doing with that extra ticket?" he asked Jane hopefully.

 

Scenario B: (no adverbs)

 

  • Jack had been dying to see that movie, so with the best please invite me! look he could muster, he tapped Jane on the shoulder. "What are you doing with that extra ticket?"

 

Do you see my point? Using too many adverbs, especially in dialogue, violates the "show vs. tell" rule of writing, which I'll address in next week's post.

 

-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, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

More Word Mix-ups

6,317 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, craft, adverbs
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Ten Ways Self-publishing Has Changed the Books World - The Guardian

With revolution comes change.

                                                    

From Spark to Story: How Books Get Started -The Book Deal

Finding that magic place where stories come from.              

 

Film

                                                        

Warning: Do Not Try To Make a Movie without Pre-Production - Film Courage

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again...as long as you learn from your mistakes.

                                          

Stay Indie: Develop a Unique Filmmaking Process - Fugitive

Indie isn't just a style, it's a philosophy.

                                    

Music

 

The Writing Voice: Punctuation Communicates! - Judy Rodman

The typo bug infects the music community.

 

The Times Are Changing for Artist Investors - Hypebot.com

Technology not only has changed how music is created and sold, it also has changed the way the industry tracks musicians.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - April 26, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - April 19, 2013

812 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, selling, music, filmmaking, film, promotion, indie, writers, publishing, writing, films, musicians, filmmakers
1

Hey, Let's Tweet Up!

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 22, 2013

Today, I'm going to talk Twitter and tweeting, the art of social sharing through 140-character updates. Twitter is a powerful tool for authors, as it can be a catalyst for interaction with readers. It strips away the barriers that once prevented readers from directly accessing their favorite authors.

 

Authors use Twitter for many things. They announce their next personal appearance. They tweet out their latest word count. They even fill tweets with samples from their latest book - 140 characters at a time, of course. But one of the most unique uses of Twitter by an author that I've seen was using it to organize "tweet-ups" with readers.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a tweet-up is simply a gathering, or meet-up, organized via Twitter. This particular author had decided that instead of doing a typical book tour with personal appearances and readings, he would organize these tweet-ups with his Twitter followers in various communities at a cafe, bakery, or wherever his followers suggested and buy everyone a coffee. As a bonus, he would bring his books along, too, and give out signed copies. Such an outing provides for a much more intimate environment and prevents having to go through the experience of poorly attended readings or signings.

 

It's an extreme marketing strategy, but it has the potential of big returns. These Twitter followers are now part of his word-of-mouth army, and they are bound to recruit others into the fold from their list of followers. The only downside is the next time he does a tweet-up, he may have to provide a lot more coffee for all his new fans.

 

-Richard

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

 

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How to Connect with Your Readers

Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

961 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, promotions, twitter
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

When Visibility Doesn't Lead To Book Sales - Let's Get Digital

Mainstream media exposure may not be the best way to sell books.

                                                    

How NOT To Sell Your Book on Twitter! -BadRedhead Media

Drive-by marketing is a huge waste of time in today's interactive media world.                      

 

Film

                                                        

How Do You Sell a Movie with Split Reviews? - Making the Movie

A brilliant way to use bad reviews in a marketing campaign.

                                          

Very Independent Filmmaking - Trust Your Instincts - NOHO Arts District

Embrace your instincts. Even if you make a mistake, it will only make you a better filmmaker.            

Music

 

The State of Digital Music, 2013 [Video Infographic] - Audiolicious.tv

It's a digital world. Can you see the music matrix?

 

Music Marketing on Facebook & Twitter, What & When to Post - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Your social media time is valuable. Make the most of it.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - April 5, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - March 29, 2013

1,000 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, selling, music, filmmaking, movies, writers, writing, films, musicians, filmmakers, branding, social_media
2

Picture this: you're in an express elevator and Steven Spielberg steps on just as the doors close. He presses the button to the floor just below your destination. You suddenly find yourself with some alone time with one of the greatest filmmakers of in the history of cinema. You've been told time and time again that your book would make an excellent movie. Here's your chance to bring your book to the attention of a living legend. You can't pass it up. Knowing you don't have much time, you introduce yourself and quickly make your pitch.

 

But what if your dream scenario turns into a nightmare when you can't deliver a clear and concise description of your story? Your pitch is full of backpedaling moments as you try to fit in every cool subplot and minor twist you carefully crafted into your novel. The most common phrase you utter is "Wait, I forgot to talk about what happened before..."

 

Don't let this happen to you. You should always be prepared for a chance meeting with Steven Spielberg or anyone who could catapult your book into the upper stratosphere of sales. Know your quick pitch. Practice it. Test it on your family and friends. Work it into conversations at parties and other gatherings. 

 

With this sort of pitch, there is no time to relay detail upon detail; there is only time to divulge the main conflict. That is your pitch. Everything else that happens in your book may be crucial, but save that for the discussion about your book that follows your pitch. Your pitch is the device that hooks them and leaves them wanting more. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Passive Marketing is Important Too

Building Buzz Before You Publish

2,282 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: selling, book, movies, writers, writing, films, branding
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Nate Silverizing Book Recommendations - Stephanie Sun

Stephanie Sun uses math to decide which book she will read next.

                                                    

How to Develop Any Idea into a Great Story -Writer's Digest

Sometimes it takes the mind of an inventor to turn an idea into a story.                    

 

Film

                                                        

The Roles of a Producer - filmmaking.net

A film can have half a dozen producers or more. What do they all do?

                                          

The Biggest Filmmaking Mistake - Filmmaking Stuff

Are you letting obstacles impede you, or motivate you?

                                    

Music

 

The Musician Entrepreneur - Getting There

If you're a professional musician, you're an entrepreneur. Are you making the right business decisions?

 

Music Mastering Engineer: Do You Need One for Your Mix? - Musicgoat

An experienced engineer can be pricey. Are they worth the expense?        

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - March 29, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - March 22, 2013

1,040 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, selling, music, filmmaking, film, indie, movies, writers, writing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding
9

When I first decided I wanted to write for a living, I assumed it required a special knowledge of placing one word after another. And I guess to a certain degree it does. Applying the rules of grammar correctly is an important skill, and spelling is a feather in your cap if you've chosen writing as a profession. But beyond that, writing doesn't require a great deal of training. It simply takes an exceptional amount of doing it in order to master it.

 

Sitting down at my electric typewriter in those early days - yes, I'm that old - I sometimes spent days on a paragraph trying to make every word unique and important. It was my goal to write something that had never been read before. Instead, what I was managing to do with a great deal of success was to make everything I wrote sound manufactured and forced, and I was also frustrating myself to the point that I sat down in front of the typewriter with less frequency. 

 

It was in a creative writing class in college when everything changed for me. I sat at my desk and listened to the instructor read stories written by the class, and most of them sounded like mine: unnatural. It was as if we were trying to show how many cool words we knew. It was almost torturous to hear what we had actually written until the instructor started reading the last story of the day. 

 

This story was different. It was compelling and inspiring. We all leaned forward in our desks listening carefully to every word. And these words weren't like the words in the other stories we had heard; they were words we actually used in our day-to-day lives. They were simple and didn't require a great deal of thought to process, yet we were all completely immersed in the story.

 

When she was done, the instructor smiled and said, "That was a story written by a storyteller, not a writer." She went on to explain that there is room for both in literature, and if we were serious about writing for a living, we had to decide which we wanted to be: a storyteller or a writer. In her class, choosing both was not an option.

 

I chose then and there that I wanted to be a storyteller. There was no question about it. That made sitting down in front of my typewriter fun. I could do that without getting discouraged. 

 

So, which do you choose? Storyteller or writer?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Are We Tortured Artists?

Peripeteia: Another Storytelling Tool Explained

13,605 Views 9 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: writers, writing, craft, stroyteller
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

1,318 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

1,039 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

14,038 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?

1,249 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!

1,171 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

43,566 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

1,324 Views 3 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writers, writing, craft, background_noise
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