Monday, May 22, 2017

Overcome Writer Fear

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Listen To Your Characters

characters in conversation


First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him! – Ray Bradbury

The Writer’s Surprise Gift

Writer’s know when they are in the zone and the story flows. If you use an outline to hit the main beats of your story, you’ll know what you want to accomplish in the scene. Your characters may be sitting on a park bench in the snow, digging a ditch as Nazi prisoners, chasing the bad guys, or any other scene you have imagined You begin a dialog between characters and all of a sudden they are saying things you hadn’t planned or considered.

Listen To The Characters

If you are into your story and know what makes your characters tick, when words start coming, listen. Your characters will add new dimension to the scene. You already know to dispense with banalities--hello, it’s a great day, etc.--and get right to the conversation. Think of your dialog in the same way as the scene: start late, leave early. Tweet: Think of your dialog in the same way as the scene: start late, leave early. Dialogue that begins in media res (without preamble) is a strong way to begin a scene, drawing the reader in. Dialogue that ends early is a structured way to end a scene or chapter, often with a cliffhanger moment to keep the reader turning the page or, at the end, waiting for the next book in your series.

Add To The Story

As a storyteller, those unexpected words from a character can foreshadow a later moment in the story, add depth to both characters, complicate the plot, deepen the relationship within the story, and other story dimensions. The benefit of having a rough outline is that as the dialog hints of story change you can make notes in the outline that further incorporate the discoveries as your characters speak. Those surprise moments from the characters often lead to other conversations later in the story.

Character Talk

In order for your characters to have conflict within their conversations, you need to know them inside and out. Know the backstory that is never mentioned that would prompt a character to think, respond, and say the words. Know how the two characters relate to each other with friendship, love, annoyance, hate, or unsuspecting naïveté. The better you understand your characters, each one, the more surprising words will pop out unbidden. Then listen.

Zara Altair

Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos, are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Character Change for Dynamic Story

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Secret Source of Support: Fellow Writers


Fellow writers provide a rich source of knowledge. You can use this knowledge to expand yours. From writing groups to indie author idea exchanges you can build your personal knowledge base on writing and publishing skills.
New writers, especially, can fall into the trap of spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on writing and publishing courses. Before you do that seek out fellow writers for critiques of those courses before you buy in by midnight tonight.
I’m not saying don’t take courses. Education is beneficial. First get feedback on the cost reward of the program. Build a network of fellow writers to learn which courses and which paid blog or advertising spots will serve you well.
There are many ways to gather invaluable knowledge for other writers and authors.
  • Join a critique group — before you self-edit, and then send your manuscript to an editor, your critique group will help you find your blind spots from punctuation, spelling, typos, and grammar to plot holes.
  • Join a local writing group — this may cost you a few dollars a year, but you will meet a wider circle of writers and authors and have the opportunity to attend group events where you can expand your knowledge even more.
  • Join an online group — expand your knowledge globally by exchanging ideas with fellow writers. Social media like Facebook and Google+ have groups and communities where you can exchange ideas, get reviews of courses and paid advertising opportunities, and even get feedback on book cover ideas. Keep in mind the writers are not graphic designers. Or get suggestions on cover designers familiar with your genre. Get tips on what works and doesn’t work with Facebook fan pages, Amazon marketing, Facebook marketing, genre specific book descriptions, or just dealing with Amazon and other book retailers.
  • Join a professional writers organization — a good choice is one that is genre specific. Join forums to where authors discuss details of publishing and marketing.
  • Attend conferences — meet writers, agents, publishers and learn from experienced authors. If you are working with a limited budget, find one that is close to reduce air travel, stay with a friend to reduce hotel costs. Remember that much of the great conversation and discussion happens outside of the formal presentations. Socialize.
By the time you have expanded your circle of writing and author friends you will know more about how to improve your own writing, where best to spend your writing budget, and you will discover tips and resources you would not have imagined if you had not connected with other writers.
These suggestions are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning from other writers. You’ll find offhand remarks that change your thinking and tips that refine your writing, your publishing skills, and your professionalism.
Zara Altair
Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos, are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.
She consults with a select group of writers as The Story Bodyguard.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Interior Setting in Historical Fiction

Join the Argolicus Readers Group. Enter an ancient world.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Get To The Story

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Plan Your Book Launch

Monday, March 20, 2017

Writing Advice From Raymond Chandler

the psychopathology of everyday life - Adrian McKinty's blog: Writing Advice From Raymond Chandler







A long time ago when I was writing for pulps I put into a story a line like "he got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the entrance fell across his face like the touch of cool water."  They took it out when they published the story.  Their readers didn't appreciate this sort of thing: just held up the action.  And I set out to prove them wrong.  My theory was they just thought they cared nothing about anything but the action; that really, although they didn't know it, they cared very little about the action.  The things they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of his death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain on his face and his mouth was half open in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death.  He didn't even hear death knock on the door.  That damn little paper clip kept slipping away from his fingers and he just wouldn't push it to the edge of the desk and catch it as it fell."

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Author, Don't Be Shy


You Want Readers. Tell Them About Your Books.

When readers see your header on your website or on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or anywhere else, do they know your genre right away? If you don't tell them, they won't know. They're not going to scroll down your page or your social media posts to try to discover the type of story you tell. More importantly, you are missing potential readers by hiding that information. Even a header with book covers may mislead them. Tell them right up front. Romantic fantasy. Horror. Thriller. Entice new readers with a straightforward tip on your genre. Take a look at the image above. Are you ready to read Miranda's books? I'm a member of several author groups. Recently in two groups, there was a call to post Facebook pages and websites. I was astounded at how many headers told me nothing about the books. I had to dig around--these were fellow group members--to discover the genre or look for books by the author. Their headers were as mysterious as the one above.

Your Name, Author. Won't get you readers.

Your responsibility as an author is to let readers know what you write.  Appeal to readers who resonate with your story elements. Your Name, Author, may be an ego boost but does not invite your core readers to find out more or buy your books.

Simple Promotion

Adding a bit more for your readers will help new readers discover you and lead to more book sales.
  • Your Name
  • Your Genre - A tagline.
  • Where to buy your books
Adding your genre and where to buy your books directs the right readers to your books. Big name authors often have just their name in the header, but indie authors need to work just a bit harder. Graphic designers don't always know about marketing. If you hire someone to create your header give them explicit direction and the actual words you need on your header. If your budget is limited, Canva provides simple, easy to use templates or you can create your own from scratch. I used a simple template to create the image for this article.

Robust Author Promotion

Your header is the first visual people encounter when they reach your website or social media site. Give potential readers the basics. You want readers who love your genre. They will be happy to discover a new author if you give them the right clues. However much you prefer writing to building your author platform, give the platform a boost with simple cues for your reader audience. Zara Altair Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder. She consults with a select group of writers as The Story Bodyguard.d

Monday, February 20, 2017

Reality for New Novelists

Tuesday, January 31, 2017