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Monday, November 30, 2015

What is Outlining a novel?



I've written a book through trial and error. When I first started I thought --Hey, all you have to do is write words and it will come together.

Ha, I say, Ha. Not so. I haven't met one author that has been able to bust out a perfect first draft that landed a publishing contract. From my experience I've learned the entire process goes much smoother when I actually write out histories, personalities, the setting, and my overall story plot.

Next, I take an actual notebook, yes lined paper, and I write out EACH chapter as its own small story. I outline the motivation of the characters, the conflict which will occur in my chapter, I write a small climax that hopefully will encourage readers to keep reading onto the next chapter.

The first book in my trilogy took me nearly three years, and it's currently still in a final developmental editing phase. It's done, but before I put my name on any book I want it to SPARKLE! Anyway, I was more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer when I began. I have probably--no exaggeration--written 12 drafts! My story has changed enormously over the years and I almost lost my mind, almost. It was enjoyable, and I loved writing it, but I believe I didn't choose the best way. As I've begun to write my second installment in the series I've already made it to chapter 5 within a month. It took me an entire month to write the first chapter in the first book.

What's the difference you ask? I outlined the second. Granted it is easier since I have a very clear knowledge of who my characters are, and what they want. I  know where my story is going and I've already created the setting. But instead of just typing it all out, I outlined each chapter like this:

Chapter 1

  1. What needs to happen to hook the reader? (I proceed to write my idea for the chapter)
  2. What are the goals of the characters?
  3. What is the motivation of the chapter to the end of the story
  4. What is the climax to keep readers engaged
That's all. I do that for each chapter. On chapters 2-the end keep in mind your chapter breaks are important. Chapter breaks are where you end the previous chapter. If you end it in the middle of an action, make sure you add a sentence or two catching the reader up for when they pick up the book again. Maybe they went to bed during the previous chapter, If you remind them what's happening they won't have to go back to the previous chapter and it will get them closer to all the juicy stuff I know you've got planned.

Each author has their own system. I edit on my computer, I know authors that print out their manuscript and edit on paper. I still outline in a notebook, I only turn to the computer when I'm ready to write the actual words. 

Find your own system, I recommend using some type of outline, even if it's small. It will help you avoid holes in your story and more. 

Tell me your process, I'm all ears. I'm a wannabe after all. There are always things we can learn from others. 

Happy Writing! (and outlining)

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Step 1 in improving your writing



I have a tip to you all if you are trying to improve at something. I personally am trying to improve my writing skills, and be the best authorpreneur I can be. So how do you get better at something, I mean besides practice (come on I knew you were going to say that).

Any guesses?

Study it.

Yes, that's right. Study your passion. Practice is wonderful and truly necessary, but you also must study and make effort to become a wannabe expert in your chosen desire. Using writing as an example, if you have the means attending writing conferences is a perfect example. Join critique groups, listen to podcasts from experienced authors such as:



I recommend reading blogs from other authors (look you're reading this so you're studying already). The more you can learn and take action the greater a product you will produce someday. There is a slush of information available, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Write a daily goal and read one article, submit your work for one critique, buy a How To book, and read. Ponder about your idea, visualize it, whatever you do break down the amount of information into small daily steps and you won't be as burdened by the vast wall of info dumping out there.

Here are some helpful links to books or blogs I've found quite helpful in my journey of writing and personal growth:

Happy Writing!





Agent Query Connect (helps with critiques if traditionally publishing)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Motivation for a Monday



Here is a thought for your Monday. Never give up on what you are trying to accomplish. If you don't do it, someone else will.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Self Publishing vs. Traditional

Let's face it, the publishing world is changing! For the last few years I have been educating myself on how I would publish a book. I have an eBook floating out in the great Amazon jungle inspired by my food blog Eat Yourself Healthy and Happy. The book was self-published and it was a lot of fun. I did not make millions, I made spending money. However, that was almost three years ago. I published a book without doing much research and left it at that--the end. Since then that nagging impulse to write and publish my ideas and stories will not leave . My eBook was a non-fiction book, but my brain is full of wonderful (I think at least) fictional stories that have to be written down so I have enough room to remember my car pooling duties! So for the last three years I have studied, I have learned and found I am much more educated on the different publishing venues available to writers.

Traditional: We'll start with the traditional folks. The get-an-agent-submit-my-work-and-wait people.

Pros-

  • Excellent connections
  • You get into brick and mortar stores and create a fan base
  • Professional editing and cover at the expense of the publisher
  • They can bring your name places you may not be able to go on your own.
  • Advances* (I have more to say on these)
  • It says something about your story if you make it past all the gatekeepers of traditional publishing and land a deal...in my opinion. 
Cons-
  • Waiting. It can take YEARS to get an agent and then YEARS to be accepted by a publisher
  • In all honesty there is a slim chance your book will be read and reviewed, let alone accepted. Don't give up if that's your dream, just don't expect acceptance on your first go around. (J.K. Rowling was rejected at least 12 times before Harry Potter was picked up)
  • Slim royalties (most publishers give their author's 10-20% of sales)--my issue with this is...the author wrote the dang book!
  • Publishers will market to the distributors, they don't tend to market to the needs of the readers.
  • You don't have control of your book, (depending on your contract)

Self-Publishing: In other words Indie publishing. There is a lot to be said about the new digital age, it is not shameful, and it doesn't mean your book is awful if you self-publish.

Pros-
  • Control and rights to your book
  • Opportunity to make a full-time income if you publish multiple books and series(research the funnel system)
  • You can publish in a day if you wish, no waiting.
  • eBooks are a GIGANTIC market in today's world.
  • You are in charge of your own promotions and can gauge what your readers want and change your marketing as desired.
  • You receive 65-70% royalties on most sites
Cons-
  • You have to market everything yourself
  • You must keep publishing if you wish to earn an income (unless you are E.L. James and hit the lottery with 50 shades) Even Amanda Hocking wrote several books and series to make her income.
  • You have to pay for your editing and cover design. This can be positive since you are dishing out the money you can have all the say on how it is done.
  • You do your own formatting (unless you hire out, it just takes more $$)
  • You have to view self-publishing in a business sense. I actually do not view this as a con, although some do. I have found it an exciting world to look at the possibilities of creating a writing business! 
There are success stories in every type of publishing. In my research both require professionalism, solid editing, great cover and formatting, and a lot of persistence and love of your book.

What are your thoughts on the publishing world? What direction would you take?

Some great resources for writing
How to Write a Novel By: Nathan Bransford (for traditional or self-pub)
Write. Publish. Repeat By: Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt (focuses on Indie)

Happy Writing.





Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Write a Book



The age old question every wannabe writer asks themselves - How do I write a book? 

How do I start? How many words will I write? What genre should I write? It's maddening when you think about it.

The best way to write a book is...well it's to start. Now, hold on don't go back to browsing Facebook just yet. It's true. You have to actually sit down and either plan or write 'Once upon a time...'

One of the comments I've heard the most in my writing process over the last three years is: I wish I could write a book, or I've always wanted to write a book. Uh, okay...why haven't you? That is my whole mentality of this process, not just writing books, but accomplishing something you've always wanted to do. I don't know what will come of my stories, I hope great things for them because I know I have a solid, unique story with incredible new worlds and characters. However, The Curse of Infinium, is still in the final "fill all the itty, bitty holes in the plot" stage. But I've done it, I've written a book--something I've personally always wanted to do.

What I've learned through this process is personal growth. Making time in my busy life to achieve a dream. Now, since I write that is what I'm focusing on in this post, but I like all sorts of friends so if you aren't a writer, and you just wanted to read this post...please pertain it to something you have always wished to accomplish in your life.

You want to write a book, let's get started. I've broken down my process...my first five action items. These may change as your story progresses, but the point is to just get you started.

Action #1: Set aside 15-30 minutes the first day to really develop your protagonist, antagonist and other co-characters. Write their physical appearances, where they are from, how they speak, their core personality traits. In my wannabe opinion, you have to really know your characters. They have to be alive in your mind, if they are real to you (in a not creepy way) they WILL be real to your readers.

Action #2- On the next day take 15-30 minutes to really write out the character motivations. What are their goals? What drives them, what scares them? Every character must be motivated by something in a story, through every chapter, or they will fizzle and lose the reader.

Action #3- Put these characters in a setting. What does the world around them look like? What obstacles does the world around them create for their progression toward their goals? What is  unique about their world, is it dangerous, is it bright, is a New York subway station? Is it another dimension? What is the logic in the culture. You cannot create a world without a system that makes sense. Does that make sense?
In the Relic series, one of the four realms from the story, has no sun. Okay, if a world has no sun what does this mean for their animal life? What does it mean for the people? What does it mean for the plants? Well ,if there is no sun there is no photosynthesis (I'm no scientist, but plants need sunlight, right?) so I created an ecosystem of "moon-plants" dark colored leaves, plants that shrivel in extreme heat etc. The people as well are pale, they don't require Vitamin D to be healthy, and have eyes that cannot tolerate bright light. When they are visiting another area there are simple protective glasses they must wear to protect their sensitive eyes. These are just examples, but it's the little details that will help your story. I will be doing an entire post, or video series on world building/setting. There's a lot.

Action #4- Take the motivations of your characters from Action #2 and begin developing your plot line. How do these motivations develop into a story. What is at stake? That is VERY important. There must be high stakes or there will be no reason for a reader to continue on with your characters and their journeys. How will the differing motivations of each character conflict with one another. Marvelous stories have conflict: embrace it, accept it, write it. Now is the time to take out all your frustrations on your unsuspecting character creations and send them through the ringer in an exciting new story.

Action #5- Begin chapter outlines. Each chapter can be viewed upon as a short, simple story. There should be an opening, a conflict, and a climax conflict to keep the reader engaged. Don't have your character walk down the street the entire chapter, until he gets to another character's house. Have him walk down the street and trip into a pot hole, slicing his hand on a rusted bike rack, causing his hand to burn and bubble and seep an electric purple liquid, indicated he may not be from this planet. Or...if you're not into aliens, maybe he is on his way to his new girlfriend's house with a fragrant, bouquet, but suddenly he sees her--his first love, but how can that be? She died two years earlier.
You get the idea. Use your developed motivations, and you should know your characters and their personalities by now to know how they will react in each chapter situation you throw at them.

Voila! You've begun to write your novel. I wish I could say you will bop out a perfect draft in no time...but that wouldn't be true. You may be awesome and be able to create a fairly clean, near perfect first draft. I'm not that awesome and my book has changed so much plot wise from my original idea I don't even recognize my first chapters from years ago. However, motivations, histories, and my character's personalities haven't changed much. They have stayed constant and that has helped me during the head-banging-against-the-keyboard-writing-sessions

to at least work through problems because I know how they would react.

Bottom line, get an old fashioned pen and paper and start writing histories, get to know your setting, plot and characters. Write out logistics and when you actually start typing you will be amazed how it begins to mold together!

Happy Writing Wannabes!