Monday, October 16, 2017

Building a Story by Mary Deal


  

An example of how to begin a new story when your Muse has taken a vacation.

A friend of mine—I’ll call her Judy—had written a novel and was in the process of sending it out to literary agents seeking representation. She and I knew that first-time authors typically needed to have two or more completed and polished manuscripts in hand.
Publishers do not make large profits on an unknown writer’s first book but on subsequent publications instead. Money is spent on publicity for the first book to establish a reputation for an author and build readership. With these aspects already established, on subsequent books, larger profits are realized.
Too, publishers are more apt to believe that a writer is capable of turning out numbers of books if they did so of their own volition and not because a publisher waits with bated breath for another manuscript. Having more than one book shows true intent as a writer.
So, Judy needed to write another story, and fast. She had just completed the rigors of editing and deep polishing the first manuscript and felt burned out. I suggested she take a breather for a week or two; maybe even get away for a vacation. She is not one to shy away from responsibility, so she pleaded with me to help her find a way to conjure another plot because her muse had taken the vacation for her.
I never thought about how to start a new story. My stories just rolled out whenever I allowed myself to think. Then I remembered a few techniques I used in establishing characters in my first novel and passed those steps along to her.
The one presented here is the procedure that worked for her. She took more than a month conjuring characters and, not surprisingly, the story unfolded as she went along. By the end of three months, she had completed the first draft of her second novel.
Something happened along the way. Her muse evidently decided she liked the excitement of the new story and returned promptly from vacation. In following the steps given below, Judy came up with an idea for a sequel to her newly finished story and then decided to make it a serial.

* * * * *

Your hero or heroine should be the strongest character in your story. Let’s give your main characters the types of personalities that will fit their roles.
Imagine a person you’d like to have in one of your stories. From that mental image, build a character. She or he will probably be your protagonist. This may change, so beyond recording the character’s physical attributes, do not think further into the story.
If you have written a short story and identify a protagonist, you can use that character to help flesh out another one. However, the technique presented here works best when starting fresh with a character about whom you know nothing. Then you’re less likely to follow the plot line of the other story already written.
Have a sort of feel for a person and start simply by listing physical attributes: age, color of eyes, skin tone, hair color and any other details you feel you wish the person to have.
At this point, do not list anything like the fact that the lady changes hair color frequently, or has a nail-biting neurosis. This has little to do with establishing the basics of physical image. If something extra does come up in creating the character, then your Muse is beginning to feed you details of a story you have yet to consciously realize. How exciting is that? If this extra information may be too good to pass up, then you can add it, perhaps in a separate list for personality. Be simple in the primary description and make a separate list of added details as something you may include later.
Next, give the person just enough of a life so that you know what makes your character’s personality unique.

What does she or he do for a living?
How many other family members?
What are her or his best personality attributes, and worst ones?
What other relatives closely share this character’s life and how does your character interact with them?
What delicious secrets does your character hide?

Another example: Give your character habits like a facial tic or nail-biting. Try to conjure why she or he has it? Is it the result of some repressed emotion? Is it from some shock long ago? How does this unnerving habit affect people presently in the character’s life? What crisis from her past should she have to work through to eliminate the tic? Who else is involved in why she may have such a habit? If nothing like this comes to mind for your character, don’t worry. Something else is on the way!
I like the part about the secrets most. Most people hide things they wouldn’t want the world to know about themselves. Draw it out of your story people. Find some shocking information, juicy tidbits around which to build your plot, around which to motivate your characters.
See where this is going? By the time you’ve got the first character established, you will have introduced us to other people in his or her life.
Next, choose one of those secondary people and build another character sketch. You may already know which character will interact most with your protagonist. It doesn’t have to be a love-interest either. The next character can be a public figure the protagonist tries to emulate, or someone who has been stalking her, or a neighbor, or anyone among the characters who people your plot.
For the next character, you do not have to use any particular person included with the sketch of your main character. You can start fresh again and build a whole new person. Something in that creation will tell you how to bring this person together with your main character and the others.
Follow this procedure for each character whether or not they immediately interact with the main character. Have faith. Your Muse understand you need characters that will ultimately interact, so create them as they come to mind. Trust yourself!
Finally, your characters will tell you a story as you create them. Begin to write about how these people interact. By the time you get this far, you will know where your story is going. You will know your plot!
Trust the process. You will have conjured something important to say about these people, their lives and their impact on one another and the outcome.
Write without editing. Let your mind wander from the rational to the absurd. As you write, you’ll find yourself choosing which path you wish the story to follow.
Ultimately, you may not use most of the information you pack into your character sketches. However, because you have taken the time to build your characters, you will know how they react in all the circumstances presented in your plot. A morally upstanding person reacts one way to a certain occurrence; a frivolous person reacts a completely different way to the same situation. You will know these people because in building character sketches you unknowingly create their morals, ethics, and motivations, which will surely spice up your plot.


 Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

LATE OCTOBER by Patricia Crandall

Sunshine glints
June-like warmth
vastly more lovely
than wintering pines
shedding needles
on a carpet of moss.
The lake, once clear,
is murky. Aquatic life
accepts a respite
in the frosty seasons.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Future of Social Media That You Must Know








How marketing channels will change this year? The social media platforms are constantly evolving around the needs and preferences of the customers. These networks help people to connect with other people around everywhere who then build a personal connection with each other. The basic purpose of social media is to build a brand and increase its visibility. Some research studies show that social media has been an integral communication platform for the majority of the users and we have over 2 billion active social media users. Few research stats say that,

  • ·         81% of millennial check Twitter at least once per day.
  • ·         The female Instagram users are comparatively more than men. Its 38% vs. 26%.
  • ·         Instagram is considered to be the largest social network for the teenagers.

So what is in for social media this year? The ongoing social media practices for this and few upcoming years are:

The Era of Messaging Apps

That is pretty strange, but this year social messaging applications have taken over the place of social networks. In fact, social messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Instagram have more users than the big social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Most businesses have now started taking advantage of the presence of huge audiences based on social media platforms and are already taking benefits of messaging platforms like when you click on an ad it takes you the Page or the chat window of the respective brand. The brands have started to realize the value of social messaging apps and networks to have a good presence there by direct communication with the users.

The News Time

This year and so on more and more people especially the millennials are turning towards the social media as their main source of news instead of newspapers, radio or television. Get a grip on the social media to share your voice all over.

Facebook Live Is Alive

It is no more about the daily post or creating unique content; social media is now taking it to the higher level by showing up everything in real time with live videos, a better way to stay connected to the online users. Social videos have much more engagement than any other content format and have been responsible for much growth on Facebook-Live. Not only this, Facebook live videos are covering major events for the people who are not able to attend it.

What Twitter Has In The Future

We have heard the demise of Twitter lately, but the algorithms update suggest us to use Twitter to reach out to people openly, rather than only as a medium to just broadcast your message to everyone. Twitter is at its boom connecting millions of users with simple hashtags.

Paid Advertisements Are Booming

Though Google prefers organic reach the most over the next few years there are a large number of highly paid marketing campaigns is in the trend. The companies have already experienced the potential of paid marketing which is reaping good results. Most website design companies are paid advertisements via all social networks. It is predictable that in the next few years, there will be a much larger number of highly paid marketing campaigns. Companies have already practiced the potential of paid marketing and many are jumping the bandwagon. Reflecting the fact the social media platforms will reduce the organic visibility of the brands while letting them have exclusively paid rights to the social media.

Obligating Video Advertisement

With improvements in the internet quality, it is now the high time for GIFs and videos to gain popularity over the social media marketing. Visuals are always appealing than written content, and so brands are making videos to rule the internet world. Companies are also working with the idea of virtual reality and augmented reality to give their potential clients a better feel for what is in store for them.

Chatbots

Every single thing is over the chatbots now. As soon as you go to a Facebook page, chatbots are ever ready to assist the online users. This quick communication with the users over social media apps or networks has made the marketing struggle of the brands much easier as before.

What You Have For 2017?

Just posting content directly would be considered as rented and you will not be having control over the outcome whereas putting in fresh content in words, videos and posts are deemed to be owned and give you good control over the content to make a strong brand’s performance.



 About Loius Martin:
As a Marketing Manager, Loius approaches Digital Marketing not only as a profession but a creative thinking process. He knows well to connect all the points of a brand and make it appear well. With a passion for writing about content marketing, design and development he has been writing blogs since time. Get more of his articles @loiusmartin1

Monday, September 25, 2017

Unseen Background Details by Mary Deal




As a writer, you may find that TV characters can be emotionally flat time and again. What sets them apart, even what gets the viewer to like them, is that we can see them. We see their facial expressions and how they react to other people and occurrences. We see their actions, which express motivations and emotion. We see the background scenery and how they act and react in such a setting.
What we see on TV or in a film is exactly what many writers fail to include in their stories.
Details we see in a picture don't have to be explained because we see them. When writing our stories and books, we must skillfully describe the important silent background details for the reader.
A simplified example: If the reader doesn't know the character is caught out in a rainstorm, how will the reader know anything except that the character is walking down a street?
We must describe the setting. If it was raining, don’t stop there.

Was it a thunderstorm or simply sprinkling?
Did the character get caught without a raincoat and umbrella?
Was the sky dark, or was the sun shining through the rain?
Was the wind blowing?
Who else was nearby and how did they react to the rain?

We writers must include in our written works anything that might otherwise be seen when viewing the same scene on TV or in a film. Yet, we cannot over-do the details by stopping the story and describing the background.
Every detail necessary should be woven into the action as long as it enhances the scene. Which do you prefer?

The sky was dark. Lightning lit up the distant sky. Thunder rolled. The wind was fierce. It bent her umbrella backwards. She discarded it. Rain pelted down. She wore a raincoat but was now getting drenched.

Or this:

When lightning flashed and thunder rolled again and the deluge came, she grabbed the collar of her raincoat, drew it up around her neck, and began running. Her umbrella bent backwards as the wind tore it from her hands. Her hair hung in loose wet ringlets as water streamed off the ends and ran down inside her collar. How did she ever let herself get caught alone on a dark street with wind strong enough to blow her over the side of the bridge? And why had that dark sedan slowed its speed to keep pace directly behind her?


The rule is never to stop the story to describe the background or scene, but to include the surroundings among the action performed by each character and as it affects that character.





LINK TO AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE


Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Last of the Blueberries

My poem, Last of the Blueberries, won second place in Writer's Carnival Poetry contest. Please read and post a comment if you will. Thank you.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Okay Is Not Good Enough by Jean Lauzier


This past spring, I attended a semi-local writer’s conference. One of the speakers said that it was okay to publish a book that had errors in it. That it didn’t matter, because you could always upload a revised version any time you want. He also said if you were to get a bad review due to the errors, that was okay too. You just need to grow a tough skin and ignore it. Then he stated that if the reader likes your story, they will buy your next book, even with all the errors. By the time I recovered my senses, he’d gone on to promote his “how to write and publish a book in thirty days or less” book.

I don’t know about you, but I dislike a bunch of typos and grammar mistakes when trying to read. Sure, I understand a book will never be totally error-free, but we should strive to get as close as possible. I’m an avid reader and have returned books riddled with formatting issues and errors. And I certainly won’t be buying anything else from them.
Authors such as this are the reason self-publishing still leaves a bad taste in many reader’s mouths. And, I understand the legacy publishers aren’t perfect, but they do try.
As an editor for a medium-sized publisher, I see many submissions that really aren’t ready. Even though we require a professional edit before submitting, it’s amazing how many manuscripts still need editing when we get them.

One thing I often see at the start of a submission is page upon page of backstory. Naturally, the author needs to know their characters’ past. Especially since that character’s past tends to have a bearing on the story at hand. But, it needs to be woven in. A little bit here, a little bit there. Yes, it’s easier just to lump it all together, but many readers are going to skim over it or will close the book and find something more interesting.

Dialogue tags are another area where authors take the easy way. So many times, I see “he said angrily” or “she stated emphatically”.  How much better it would be to add a beat such as “He slammed his fist into the wall.” Or “She stomped her sneaker-clad foot.”  Yes, doing it this way is a lot of work, but so worth it.
I think a lot of the problem is many authors don’t study their craft. And it is a craft. A woodcarver doesn’t become a master craftsman overnight. He spends years practicing, making mistakes, starting over, and continues learning.

Same thing with musicians. Sure, there is the occasional genius who doesn’t need to practice, but those are few and far between. Most musicians start with the basics, practice and practice, then practice some more.

Writers must study our craft, too. We can’t be content with “okay”. When I read, I want to be transported into the story, to escape from my reality for a while. If I have to slog through ten or fifteen pages of backstory before something happens, I’ll find another book. If grammar issues keep jerking me out of the story, I’ll find one that doesn’t.

As writers, we can’t edit our own work. At least not well. We tend to read what we think should be there, what we meant to write. Many of us don’t know all the nuances a professional editor should. (I’m still trying to figure out commas.) A professional editor is a writer’s best friend and worth every penny they charge.  A professional editor wants your book to be the best it can be and will work hard to make it so.  And, that professional edit will get you an acceptance letter and publishing contract. 

Jean Lauzier


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

KEEPSAKES a poem by Patricia Crandall


Scraps of paper
scribbled upon,
old buttons
purple stones
the most precious,
a wilted dandelion
found in my blue jeans
jacket pocket,
Gifts
from my favorite
four-year old.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WHERE DO YOU FIND IDEAS?




When looking for a subject to write about, ideas are everywhere. Sitting on a bench in the park you have sights and sounds. Take a notebook with you wherever you go and use all your senses to capture the world around you. See the child sliding down the slide: capture the dialog and jot it down. What are people doing and saying around you? What about their mannerisms? How they walk, talk, look?

There are many things to look for when trying to find a subject matter. Look in the newspapers. Is there something that jumps out at you and captures your attention? Possibly a murder, or someone missing. Write about the search party; someone in the search party. Make the person interesting. Does he/she have anything to do with the missing person? Do they know this person? Just read the newspaper and see what you can come up with. Change the story to meet your needs.

Watch the evening news. Watch online news and events. What’s going on in the world that disturbs you and you want to write about it?

There are thousands of writing prompts online (google). Something might jump out at you and beg to be written.

I’ve always been interested in women’s issues, especially in other countries. For instance: kidnapping, female genital mutilation, child labor, unequal pay, beating of women, child & women abuse, elder abuse, animal abuse. I could go on, but you get the idea. There is so much going on in the world we could write about passionately.

Read and study about things you are interested in and start writing in your own words.

There’s a saying to not mix politics and religion together. Why? Because they are controversial issues. So, I say, write about it. How do you feel about how America has changed since you were a child? Is it better or worse? What changes have you seen? What improvements would you want to see happen? And religion. Why do you think there are so many? What’s the purpose of so many? What is the right one? How would you go about changing the views of those around you?

There is a plethora of things to write about, whether right or wrong. Someone will have a negative opinion about it anyway. But you will stir up interest. That’s what makes a good writer into a great writer.

Have you watched any good movies lately? How about an old movie…can you see a better ending? How about changing the protagonist to the opposite sex? Maybe change the storyline. Bring it up to date for today’s time.

Watch movies and read books you’re interested in. Can you see something entirely different than what the author wrote? Does your imagination take you on a diverse journey? Good! Go for it.

What about dreams. I know everyone has dreams that are dark or silly. Why not weave them into a story? Better yet, write an entire story and fill in the part of the dream that wasn’t there. Complete the dream. I’ve had some wild dreams about planes crashing around me, or bombing me. They were quite vivid and still remember them years later.

I don’t mind buying books that might help me with prompts. I bought one called, The Writer’s Book of Matches by the staff of fresh boiled peanuts. There are over 1001 prompts to start your imagination flowing. I used to run a writing group from 2001 to 2012. I used prompts in this group of writers to come up with a story each month and then we would critique: grammar, story, use of the senses, conflict and resolution and lots more. This book helped in keeping our creative juices flowing.

So, wherever you are, you can be sure to find something interesting to write about. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Your senses will pick up something interesting for your next story.

Let the journey begin, and have fun.

Article formerly posted on: Writers on the Move

BIO:

Linda Barnett-Johnson is a virtual assistant for authors, former editor, former assistant editor of Long Story Short ezine. Published many articles, short stories and poetry.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Your Writing Career: Up Your Credibility and Exposure by Writing Professional Reviews



Excerpted and expanded from the recently released 415-page book in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically

Writing great professional reviews (as opposed to writing more casual reader reviews which I also cover as part of my newest how-to book for writers!) will probably entail tackling a slight learning curve. It isn’t as steep, however, as the curves required when you switch genres from, say, experimental genres to literary or poetry. With a few basic guidelines, you can write reviews to be proud of for your blog or other online review entities. Different media outlets have different style guides.

Here is why you might choose writing reviews as a way to give your writing career a nudge (you can read that market if you want to!).

§  1. Writing reviews is fun. It is, after all, writing. And it allows you to market by doing what you like to do.
§  2. Writing reviews will help you network with all kinds of editors, authors, and others in the publishing industry who may be in a position to help you market your own books.
§ 3.  Amazon and its links to your author’s profile page are waiting for you! Each review you post there contributes to your exposure on the one place in the world where the most readers and writing professionals hang out.
§  4. Your reviews lend to your credibility in the publishing world.

Here is a style guide similar to Midwest Book Review’s guidelines for their reviewers:
  • Your review should begin with metadata including:
    • Title.
    • Author.
    • Publisher.
    • Publisher’s address.
    • Publisher’s Web site address (if they have one).
    • Publisher’s e-mail address (if they have one).
    • ISBN.
    • Retail price.
    • Page count.
    • Your name (that would be you as the
      reviewer).

  • To write an engaging review, consider:
    • Including why you selected this particular book for review. Perhaps it relates to your work, hobby, avocation, a particular area of interest, your expertise, or just for fun.
    • Adding how the author uses language and structure, illustrates his/her points, develops characters. Use brief quotations from the book to support your observations, opinions, and comments. When writing poetry reviews, include an excerpt from a poem that illustrates a point; when writing a review of a cookbook, include a recipe that appeals to you.
    • Who the book is intended for. Address how well the material relates to that audience.
    • What the author is trying to accomplish? Entertain, instruct, persuade, inform, train, teach, alarm?
    • suggestions for the author to consider next time his or her work appears in print.
    • Including a bit about the author’s background, credentials, or other titles.
    • Including relevant titles that might interest the readers of this book.
    • To submit a review to journals, follow their formatting guidelines. Lacking those, type your reviews in single spaced paragraphs with double spacing between the paragraphs. The review can be a few paragraphs or a few pages—take as much space as you feel is necessary to say whatever you want to say, unless you are writing for a specific journal, blog, or review website. In that case, follow their suggested word count.
Above all, have a good time putting your thoughts and opinions down. The best reviews are those that you would like to listen to while driving along in your car or chatting with friends over lunch. I interpret this as meaning that this journal would prefer a casual tone rather than too much formality.

Here’s one of the most important guidelines for authors who choose to review for the good of their careers. Do you remember what Flower, the skunk in Disney’s Bambi said? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We’ll just amend that to, “If you can’t find anything nice to say, don’t write a review.

If a book is badly written or not worthwhile, send the book back to the author with a polite explanation that you are not a match for this book rather than slash and burn. It will look a little like the rejection notices we authors must become accustomed to in the submission process.  This doesn’t mean you can’t include some criticism. You should. Studies show that a review that is tempered by critique sells more books than rave reviews because they are viewed as more credible. Further, just as a critique group can make a difference in an author’s technique, so can a critical comment from a reviewer.
Hint: If you plan to pursue reviewing for pay, I recommend you read Mayra Calvani and Anne Edwards’ book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing or Magdalena Ball’s The Art of Assessment. It turns out that some writers carve entire careers out of reviewing. And others manage to make enough money from it to support their poetry or fiction habits until they become rich and famous.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. They won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. She is celebrating the release of the third, How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically in the series.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Achievements with Essays and Flash Fiction by Patricia Crandall



An editor requests an essay. First of all, to me, essays were a dreaded school assignment. Admittedly, being forced to write an essay in grammar school was the beginning of my writing career. And meeting that first critical deadline proved I could produce a 
worthwhile written piece. My demanding but fair English teacher, Sister Emma Jane Marie, an Academy of the Holy Names nun clothed in a full black and white habit, discovered I could write creatively before I knew I could. Once she took me under her wing, I wrote for the school newspaper and published many of my class writing assignments in newspapers and various magazines.

Hundreds of essays later, I am still intimidated by the request for a particular essay. How do I start writing on that blank paper or computer screen? First, the ideas flow. Then word binges and thought flashes follow. The process is similar to a horse race. Ready. Set. Go! And I am amazed that words written in a ‘tight’ order can be produced so easily once the creative juices surge. And in a reasonably short time, a finished piece is ready to send to an editor.

Essays can be read in minutes – on a train, on an Uber ride, on a plane, or on a lunch break. They may entertain, instruct, and improve one’s health and well-being. It may be a reflection of our fast-paced world, however, essays are ‘in.’ Dig in the files, writers, for reprints to update into essays and flash fiction. 

As a writer, I prefer to work on short stories and novels, however, presently mainstream, ezine and small press magazines require more essays and flash fiction of 500 words or less. Even simple thoughts are sought after. Not too long ago, I was pleasantly surprised to receive in the mail, a $50.00 check for an ‘idea’ a popular woman’s magazine printed in its 'Indulgences' page. As a result of this success, I have had acceptances of additional three or four line ‘bits.’ Due to these favorable results, I bring a pen and tablet wherever I go – doctor’s waiting rooms, on vacation where thoughts stream generously and on the playground while my three grandchildren are having fun burning high energy. Their energy ignites my energy and I am on a roll.  

Essays can be read in minutes – on a train, on an Uber ride, on a plane, or on a lunch break. They may entertain, instruct, and improve one’s health and well-being. 

It may be a reflection of our fast-paced world, however, essays are ‘in.’ Dig in the files, writers, for reprints to update into essays and flash fiction.






Building a Story by Mary Deal

    An example of how to begin a new story when your Muse has taken a vacation. A friend of mine—I’ll call her Judy—had written a...