Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: K.M. Weiland

Want to write a character your audience will immediately go bananas for–and will remain passionately fanatical about after your first book comes out? Of course you do. And it all starts with introducing your protagonist in a killer characteristic moment.

The characteristic moment is your protagonist’s big debut. He steps onto the stage, the spotlight hits him–and he shines. In this one moment, he shows readers what he’s all about: the good, the bad, the potential for greatness to come. The characteristic moment tells readers shows readers exactly why this protagonist is going to be worth reading about.

Today, we’re going to take a look at how to ace not just a basic characteristic moment, but a multi-faceted character introduction that conveys all the most important info about your protagonist in one fell swoop.

But first…

Welcome to the Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Series

In the wake of Captain America: Civil War, I’ve been re-watching the Marvel series and appreciating the overall scope of their storytelling vision even more than usual. Even better, I’ve been gleaning all kinds of interesting writing insights. This isn’t a perfect series, by any means, so we’re going to be looking at both the things Marvel aced (like Tony Stark’s characteristic moment) and the things they bombed on (be ye warned: the Age of Ultron post might be reeeeaallly long).

The series will be updated every Friday for the next couple months, featuring each movie in its chronological order. Which brings me right back to the beginning of the beginning and the characteristic moment that started it all…

How to Wow Readers With a Complex Characteristic Moment

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Happy writing and running, Kathy

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saturday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Jami Gold

Some in the literary community assume that genre writers don’t care about the deeper aspects of writing craft. While it’s true that literary fiction is more well-known for its use of figurative and lyrical language, genre fiction can use the same literary tools.

Now, if you’re anything like me, and your English or grammar instruction was less than ideal, you might not be familiar with the term rhetorical devices. I certainly wasn’t.

When I first heard the term, I assumed it had something to do with arguing or making a point, like a rhetorical question. Eh, in a way, I wasn’t too far off. But once I did learn about them, I quickly became aware of how using rhetorical devices can strengthen our writing—even if we’re writing genre stories. *grin*

What Are Rhetorical Devices?

Rhetorical devices are simply ways to use language to affect our audience. We probably use several of these methods without realizing there are other similar tools sitting right alongside them in the literary toolbox.

Common rhetorical devices include:
  • Similes: Comparing two things using the words like or as: “Her smile was as warm as a summer day.”
  • Metaphors: Comparing two things without using like or as: “Her eyes were ocean-deep.”
  • Alliteration: Using words with similar beginning sounds close together: “Her heart hammered.”
  • Onomatopoeia: Words that imitate the sound they describe, such as:splashplopsplooshwhiz, etc.

Why Should We Care?

It’s good to be aware of the rhetorical devices that crop up in fiction writing so we can write more purposefully. Lazy, un-purposeful writing is more likely to be filled with clich├ęs and sit limply on the page.

All of those examples above are methods for using language for a purpose. Obviously, we’re comparing, creating tongue-twisters, or making funny sounds. But we can have a greater purpose in mind with those techniques too.

Purposeful writing can add more emotion to our descriptions, rhythm to our sentences, and faster pacing to our paragraphs. In short, purposeful writing is stronger.

If we weren’t aware of a rhetorical device like alliteration, we might create a tongue-twister in our writing accidentally. Many readers “hear” the words they read in their head, so an unintended tongue-twister could pull readers out of the story while they chuckle over the collision of words.

Similarly, similes and metaphors tend to emphasize concepts, as they make readers think through the comparison. If we weren’t aware of the purpose of the technique, we might emphasize a concept that didn’t need emphasis. (Or we might create a bad comparison, like one of those “worst similes and metaphors from high school students” articles. *snicker*)

So the more rhetorical devices we know, the better we can use them when we want to strengthen our writing. And the better we can avoid using them when they’re a bad match for our purpose.

What Do We Mean by Purpose?

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Happy writing and running, Kathy

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Chris Syme

Self-published authors work hard building a personal platform. The journey to stand out, find your readers, and sell your own books is a lot of work. Your “brand” is how your readers see you and remember you. One of the most important branding strategies for authors is to build and protect your name. And that is why every author needs an account on every social media channel.

In a recent podcast interview with Jim Kukral, founder of The Author Marketing Club, Jim called the process “claiming your digital land.” I call it having an outpost strategy. Setting up an account on a social media platform and choosing to be active there are two entirely different processes.

It used to be that marketers encouraged people not to set up a social media account where they had no intention of interacting. We were worried about someone searching a name and then seeing an abandoned account with no posts, tweets, pins, or engagement. Now, that philosophy has changed. With the proliferation of people on social media and the powerful search engines being developed on those channels, it is important that people claim their branded username on all the important social media channels to insure their brand is protected.

Set Up an Outpost

I liken this strategy to the “fort” system in the old west. Before the U.S. settled the west, the military maintained an outpost system designed to protect the property and people that were settling in the area. That outpost was attached to a main regional fort or central headquarters:

A military outpost is a detachment of troops stationed at a distance from the main force or formation, usually at a station in a remote or sparsely populated location, positioned to stand guard against unauthorized intrusions and surprise attacks; and the station occupied by such troops, usually a small military base or settlement in an outlying frontier, limit, political boundary or in another country.” –Wikipedia

Your purpose will be to claim your brand name and set up a “holding message” that will direct people to places where you are active. That way, if potential readers search your name, they will be directed to your main locations. This is fairly easy to do with cover photos and pinned tweets and posts, and bio information that directs them to your main social media channel and website.

But Isn’t Social Media About Connecting?

Yes, it certainly is. But with people spread out over so many channels, it’s important to grab people where they are and send them to places where you are active. Don’t worry about not engaging on every channel. Choose the top one or two where your readers are and concentrate on building personal connections with your fans there. An outpost strategy is strictly aimed at people who are searching for you. It’s about discovery.

Start With a Consistent Username

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Happy writing and running, Kathy

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thursday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Charlotte Rains Dixon

So, you have a book…or an article…or a story that you’d like to write. (Right? Because otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.)  And you need to get that book finished, that story done.  How to accomplish such a thing?  How to make room in your schedule to get it written?

To my mind, there are two ways to get your writing done, and writers fall naturally into either group, because of need or temperament.  I have strong opinions on which works best. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in fifteen years of teaching writing and nine years of blogging, it’s that there’s not one way that works for every writer. The best I can do is offer options and opinions and let you figure it out for yourself.

The first group, and I count myself among them, are those writers who prefer to write every day, or as close to it as possible. The second group write in great chunks of time as their schedule allows. Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Daily Writing

If you’re at all like me, you prefer this schedule.  Aiming for writing every day means you’ll hit at least five days of the week, right?  This is the standard advice that most of us preach, I think with good reason.  Such as:


–This schedule is the best way to get and maintain momentum on a project. If you’re writing every day, you watch your word count grow regularly, which is hugely encouraging.

–Your story stays in your head.  I don’t know about you, but my brain is so full of random bits I’ve picked up lord knows where that I lose the train of story very easily. If I’m writing every day, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time I sit down to write. This story is right there, waiting for me.

–You don’t even have to write a lot to pile up the pages.  If you manage to eke out three pages a day, that’s 90 pages—a third of a novel—at the end of a month.

–Your writing will become more facile. The more you write, the easier it is. Writing is like anything else: the more you do it, the more adept you become at it. And if you’re writing every day, you’ll hone your skills quickly.

–You will learn more about writing more quickly. As above, the more you write the more you realize how much you don’t know—and what you need to learn. Writing every day helps you learn it.

–There’s magic in making a daily commitment. There just is.  You begin to take yourself, and your writing, much more seriously.


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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wednesday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: K.M. Weiland

What’s so hard about story conflict? You throw your protagonist and your antagonist onto the page–insta-conflict! Right? Actually, not so fast. Turns out creating a fascinating story world in which dwells a fascinating hero and an evil villain is not enough, in itself, to create integral and interesting story conflict.

I’ve read quite a few unfortunate stories in which the protagonist spent the majority of the book pacing around his base thinking about that dirty antagonist and all his dirty deeds. The protag shakes his fist at the sky, curses the antag, and promises to make him pay. Then he resumes pacing. Finally, the Climax rolls around, the protag and antag meet, they fight, the protag wins.

Of course, the author is lucky if I’ve actually stuck around long enough to read his fascinating Climax, since all that pacing on the protagonist’s part slipped me the Mickey chapters and chapters ago.

The dangerous part of all this is that it’s super easy for authors to fall into this mistake without even realizing it. But never fear! There is an easy precautionary measure you can take to make sure your conflict is alive and well throughout your entire story.

Do You Understand the True Nature of Story Conflict?

Where many authors go wrong with their conflict is simply in failing to understand what story conflict really is.

Is story conflict…

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If you missed my latest writing and marketing tweets, here they are again:
Happy writing and running, Kathy