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August 2016
1

 

An author brand is not a corporate brand, and an author brand isn't just a personal brand. An author brand is unique in that it combines approximately nine-parts personal brand and one-part corporate brand. Incidentally, you should know that part of my brand identity involves making up numbers to illustrate a point.

 

 

The point is that your author brand will reflect your personal identity while preserving the reality that you are also involved in a commercial endeavor: selling books. That is to say, you have the luxury of being candid about your beliefs and lifestyle, a strategy that corporations don't employ in an effort to appeal to as many consumers as possible. Your aim as an author is to find a narrow group of passionate consumers who will become your advocates and volunteer sales force. In order to engender this level of passion you will have to make a personal connection with your readers. In other words, your beliefs and lifestyle are essentially commercial tools to make that personal connection.

 

 

Your aim is to become a cultural representative, and that culture is of your own making. You set the rules. You define the philosophies. You guide the community that you will inevitably create, and you do all this by championing your own set of principles. You are a movement. Think about it, books can start conversation. They usher in trends. They can unite people from around the globe. A book is a powerful tool, and as an author you have the opportunity and responsibility to build a brand that becomes a cultural bellwether by simply being you.

 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

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Branding 101: Tools for Branding

 

 

Passive Income and Marathon Branding

 

 

 

 

1,116 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, promotion, publishing, author_marketing, author_brand, author_advice, personal_identity
1

Last week I received a lovely email from a man named Keith. He'd recently self-published his second book and signed up for my newsletter looking for any and everything he could learn about marketing. Beneath the message he included his name and a (long!) hyperlink to his book's Amazon page, so in my reply I suggested that he embed the link into the text to keep the signature cleaner. This is something I recommend authors do not just in email signatures but in all marketing materials, e.g., a bio, a book's description, or emails about a book.


Keith's reply to my suggestion made me smile. He called himself "a senior citizen with limited technical abilities" who didn't know how to embed hyperlinks in text. But he was eager to learn, so in an email exchange I showed him how to do it. He found my explanation quite helpful, so I thought I'd share it with you here:


For email programs, here's how it usually works:


  1. Use your cursor to select and copy the URL of the link you want to include. For this post I'll use my own Amazon page, which is: https://www.amazon.com/Maria-Murnane/e/B002BLP3B2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1469804374&sr=8-1
  2. Use your cursor to select and highlight the word(s) into which you'd like to insert the hyperlink. Let's say those words are "Amazon page."
  3. Somewhere on the screen you will see the icon of a chain. Click the chain and paste the URL to your Amazon page there.


Then, instead of a messy URL, your signature will look like this:


Please visit my Amazon page


For other marketing materials (e.g., the general text of an email or documents written in a word processing program), the process is similar:

 

  1. Use your cursor to select and highlight the words into which you want to insert the hyperlink.
  2. Right-click and look for the drop-down menu that says "hyperlink."
  3. Paste the URL into the "link to" or "address" field, and then your text will look like this:


Learn more about Maria's books here


See how much cleaner that looks? If you have additional questions about how this works, please drop me a note here.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Marketing Tip: Keep Your Email Signature Clean

Marketing Tip: Use Text in Your Hyperlinks

1,879 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, writing, promotions, hyperlinks, marketing_copy
0

Get to the kissing

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 29, 2016

I attend a couple of writer's workshops every month where we all bring in material to be read aloud. After the readings, we are critiqued and then sent on our merry way. The one rule that both groups share is that all criticism must be constructive without being rude. The core group in one particular workshop has been together so long that we've also found a way to be blunt without being rude. We all know one another, and we appreciate that we only have one another's best interests in mind.


My favorite bit of criticism by one of the moderators is a pearl of wisdom that he often repeats. It is blunt. It is concise. It is jarring, particularly for first-time participants. I can't post the actual phrase here, but I can give you the PG version: "Get to the kissing."


The first time I heard him say it, I had two reactions. One, I let loose a loud, hearty laugh, and two, I instantly understood what he was saying even though the story in question did not feature anything resembling such intimacy. What he was saying was to stop writing and get to the point. Don't ruin a perfectly good conceit by watering it down with a lot of unnecessary prose. You risk losing the reader's interest by relying on layers of buildup.


Don't spend your time and words trying to impress readers because such a tactic will most likely have the opposite effect. Instead, focus your talent on developing pacing. Find the rhythm in your story that allows you to get to the kissing before your reader loses interest. My advice is to find a group of writers that will help you find that rhythm.


-Richard


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


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Authors Criticizing Authors

 

A Guy, a Girl and a Bad Critique

 

975 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_workshops, overwriting
1

Reader profiles

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 24, 2016

You aren't just an author. You are a special agent, a very special agent. Your mission? Become a top-notch profiler. Who will you be profiling? Readers. The best way to reach your readers is to know who they are, and building a reader profile is the best way for you to know them.


    Here are the demographic categories that will help you in your profiling efforts:


  1. Age group: We are divided into groups based on common experiences. There is perhaps no greater cohesive grouping than those that are defined by age. People in the same general age range share a lot of cultural similarities, especially when it comes to music, movies, and literature. If you can clearly define your genre, you'll be able to fairly easily find the average age range of your readers.
  2. Gender: In the world of publishing, knowing the gender of your average reader can help you spend your marketing dollars more effectively. Certain genres appeal to one gender over another.
  3. Region: In some cases, what you write has geographic appeal. As an example, Southern thrillers will obviously have wider appeal below the Mason-Dixon Line. That's not to say it won't have fans that extend outside the region, but the greatest concentration of your readers will be Southerners.


You can parse the demographics down to even finer points. Hobbies, careers, politics, marital status--all of these are identifiers, and you can probably find information online that will help you build your reader profile. The more details you have, the narrower you can make your focus, and the better results you'll have with your reader outreach.


-Richard

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

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The Marketing Maze

Mingle Marketing



1,196 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, promotion, readers, target_audience, marketing_research, marketing_appeal
0

 

A great way to get your readers to tell their friends about your book is to stay in touch with your readers. A newsletter is certainly one method to do this, but it's not the only one. A creative way to maintain a relationship with your readers over time is to bring your main character to life through social media. I've done this for the protagonist of my Waverly Bryson series via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. It's been useful, not to mention a great deal of fun, for the following reasons:


  1. It allows me to connect one-on-one with fans in a semi-public forum.
  2. It allows me to share information about books my fans haven't yet read (e.g., posting a link to the first chapter on a friend's page as a birthday gift).
  3. It requires me to stay in character outside of the context of my books, which is good exercise for my brain.
  4. It allows me to maintain a presence between books.
  5. It gets me to log in regularly (especially the birthday feature on Facebook).
  6. It allows me to see what my readers are reading in addition to my books.
  7. It allows me to see what my readers are doing when they're not reading my books.
  8. Sometimes it's easier to have my protagonist ask readers to tell their friends about my books then it is for me to do so.


I could go on and on with more examples, but you get the point. If you have a character that readers really seem to enjoy, why not give the social media thing a try? Like most book marketing strategies, you never know if it will work until you put it into action.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Marketing Tip: Put Your First Chapter on Your Website

 

MarketingTip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

2,154 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, promotions, social_media, marketing_tip
0

Everyone I know

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 22, 2016

I am frequently asked if my characters are based on anyone I know. I'm sure most writers get the same question. To me the question is a bit baffling because the characters in my stories don't often represent the best of humanity. Even the good guys are extraordinarily flawed. Why would I admit to them being modeled after people in my life? My standard answer to that question used to be, "No, absolutely not." And it was an honest answer. I didn't think I knew anyone like my characters walking among us in the real world.


But the older I get and the more I write, I realize that my denial wasn't completely accurate. I still maintain that my characters aren't based on any one person I know. They are, however, based on everyone I know. I've come to recognize certain individual traits in my characters from people I've met. They are often exaggerated versions of those traits, but they are similar to the real world edition. And one character may possess different qualities from a wide range of people in my real life, a mashup of the most interesting--and often most troubling--aspects of real world folks. And, I'm more than confident that a few of my own shortcomings appear in the characters I create.


The point is that I don't live in a vacuum with no other people around. I can't help but pick up, on a subconscious level, those traits that I find interesting from the people around me. Whether it's a speech pattern or an attitude or even something as simple as the way someone smiles, those things are going to seep into my writing. But for those who know me, rest easy, I'm not writing about you. I'm simply borrowing an interesting aspect of your personality that makes you refreshingly human and can give my characters depth.


-Richard


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


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Connect with Your Characters

 

What would your characters do?

978 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
0

Embracing selfies

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 17, 2016

As a person who inexplicably refers to himself as middle-aged, despite the fact that I'd have to live 24 years beyond the average life expectancy to actually be at the halfway point of my life, I feel comfortable speaking for my generation when I say we hate selfies. Loathe them. We don't understand them. We question the need for them. It's not a particularly rational objection. But it is the purview of older generations to not understand trends embraced by newer generations.

 

 

Here's the thing: selfies are excellent marketing tools. The criticism is that they are a bit self-indulgent, and they certainly can be, but they are for the most part, innocent records of one's journey through life. In your case, you would be recording a writer's life. Not self-indulgent as much as self-promotion.

 

 

I acknowledge that most of us are uncomfortable with that particular aspect of being an author. Promoting oneself does not come easily. It's downright painful in most cases. That is the beauty of selfies. It's a picture with a caption and you're done. At a book signing? Snap a picture of yourself with a few readers and post it to social media with a description that states how thrilled you are to meet your readers. Encourage your readers to do the same. In fact, post a sign that says, "Selfies with the author encouraged"

 

 

Never pass up the opportunity to snap a selfie. They are fantastic marketing tools, and they require very little effort. Just a little tip from an author who longs to be middle-aged again.

 

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Building an author brand: your appearance

Six-second branding with apps

1,066 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, book_signing, book_marketing, promotions, social_media
1

I'll never forget when my older sister's childhood friend Julie had her first child. She was in her early 30s at the time, and she told my sister that even though she and her husband didn't think they were ready for the responsibility of being parents, they decided to go ahead and do it because they realized that they would probably never be ready for that responsibility, even though they knew they wanted kids. I thought--and still think--that was one of the wisest things I'd ever heard.


In my opinion, if you want to write a book but are dragging your feet because you don't feel you're ready, you should take Julie's self-awareness to heart. You may not feel like you're ready to write a book, but when will you truly be ready? Probably not anytime soon, right? Writing a book is hard. Period. It takes discipline, mental effort, and a lot of time. It's never going to be something you can do in a weekend.


I'm not suggesting you should start writing a book without an idea for a plot. If you have trouble putting a sentence together and need to work on that first, you should. But if you have an interesting story that you want to tell, tell it. It really comes down to that. You can take as many writing classes as you want or put together as many outlines as you want, but be careful not to use those things as a method of procrastination. It's always going to be easy to put off writing that first sentence/scene/chapter, but if you want to be an author, at some point you just have to sit down and start. You can do it!


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Writing tip: stay committed to the process

Writing tip: don't let fear hold you back

 

1,542 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, author, self-publishing, writing
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POV rewrites

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 15, 2016

I recently watched a documentary called the Beaver Trilogy. It's a story of a filmmaker's chance encounter with a colorful character in the parking lot of a TV station. The filmmaker became obsessed with the young man and did a documentary on him. Then over the years that followed, he created two narrative films based on the original documentary. In all, he produced three films that were virtually identical in story and structure, only the participants changed. The same story was told three times, and each one stands on its own, while also complementing the others.


You can use the same strategy as an author in a couple of different ways:


1. Point-of-view switcheroo: Tell the same story from another character's point-of-view. Same plot, same conflict, same conclusion, just a different protagonist. You have a whole new universe to explore in the same world.


2. Gender swap: Again, borrowing from the film industry, this could put a whole new twist on your story. Ghostbusters is, of course, the most recent gender swap experiment in storytelling. Both films are entertaining and have their legions of fans.


It would be challenging telling the same story in a different way, but we as artists welcome challenges. That is when we are our most creative. That is when we have the most fun. Your challenge is to make a familiar story different enough to keep readers engaged and feel like they are experiencing something new. I'm not talking about a word-for-word remake. This is an exploration of the same theme from a different point-of-view.


-Richard


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


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You have more than one book inside of you

 

Rewrite for new life

 

827 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, point_of_view, pov
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The arts community

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 11, 2016

 

I fear that you are missing a fruitful networking opportunity. You are more than a writer. You are more than an author. You are more than an entrepreneur. You are an artist. Even if you write commercial fiction, you are an artist. It's a label we indie authors are reluctant to claim. But let me assure you, you are an artist, and as such, your peer group expands beyond the writing community. You are in the broader community that includes playwrights, musicians, actors, filmmakers, screenwriters, etc.


You may already be a member of a local writers' group or association, but what about organizations that cater to the entire artistic community? You can go online and search for meet-ups in your city, and I'm willing to bet you will find a number of networking opportunities. I belong to playwrights' groups as well as groups for novelists, and by expanding my network, I've met musicians, painters, actors, and filmmakers who have explored the same kind of network expansion. We're all interested in supporting one another because we all know how hard it is to make it in the arts.


That's the key to making this type of networking effective. You have to support your fellow artists passionately. Go to their plays. Attend their gigs. Participate in their showings. Be a familiar face. They will appreciate your support. When you have a book release, they'll remember you were there for them. They'll be happy to return the favor by helping you spread the word.


Go. Expand your network. Embrace the arts community.


-Richard


 

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


 

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You Are an Artist

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966 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, entrepreneur, arts_community
2

When I speak with indie authors about their marketing efforts, one thing I hear quite often is that they have no idea how to find people who will review their books. For many this is a huge source of frustration, not to mention disappointment, which is completely understandable given all the time and effort they spent writing the book.


If you're in that boat, one great way to secure reviews is to reach out to book bloggers. Book bloggers love reviewing books, and most of them don't care who the publisher is. As long as the genre is up their alley, they are interested!


Here are some useful links for finding relevant bloggers for your book:

 

 

Book Blogger Directory

Book Blogger List

100 Best Blogs for Book Reviews

Blog Rank

Book Bloggers International

 

The key is to send each blogger you contact a personalized note that makes it clear you aren't just spamming everyone in the universe with the same request. You can use a templated blurb about your book, etc., but always begin your email with something specific about the blogger in question. Doing so takes extra time, but it's well worth it as you're much more likely to get a response.

 

Here's a useful trick: once you identify a blog that's perfect for your book, check to see which bloggers that blogger follows. Most book bloggers post links to their favorite book blogs, so why not contact those book lovers too? It's an easy way to find more target readers, and you can repeat this process over and over and over.

 

Another great thing about book bloggers is that if you ask them, in addition to posting their review of your book on their blog, they will usually post it on Amazon. Just remember to ask! In my experience avid book readers are very nice people, so there's no reason to be afraid of them. They love books, which means they love authors. And that means you!

 

-Maria

 

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

Marketing Tip: Reach Out to Bloggers

21,137 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, social, book_reviews, bloggers, author_marketing, author_advice
2

The secret to writing a great book is rewriting a good manuscript. The secret to rewriting is waiting. Just as tragedy plus time equals comedy, the euphoria you feel from finishing your book plus time equals sound editorial judgment. The more distance you give yourself from a completed story, the better your perspective.


When I finish writing the first draft of a book, the first thing I feel is relief. The second thing I feel is an unbreakable loyalty to every word. I don't want to change a thing. I can't change a thing. I had worked so hard and for so long, how could the words I committed to the story now be wrong? And not just the words, but the character choices, the plot twists, the order of the chapters. Everything is perfect.


The sense of perfection diminishes hourly. Slowly. The more days that pass, the more I realize that I'm not nearly finished. I'll read the manuscript. I'll find some things I like, some things I can live with, and some things I'm embarrassed I wrote. But I won't rewrite at this point. I'll let a few more days pass, and I'll read the manuscript again, making notations and small edits. No major changes yet. When approximately six weeks pass, and after I've read the manuscript a few more times, that's when I tackle the big changes--and I mean big. I've changed the gender of characters. I've rearranged chapters to change which character is the protagonist. I've even changed the names of characters, which forced me to change the title of the book.


When it comes to rewrites, step away from the manuscript for a number of weeks. Read and reread your book. Reenergize yourself, and give yourself the mental wherewithal to make big changes.


-Richard


 

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


 

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Rewrite for New Life

 

Rewriting with Purpose

 

1,117 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, rewriting, editorial_judgment
2

     You can promote your book without spending your life savings. Think locally. Design an ad that highlights both your book and its local author (you). Now find outlets around your community to promote your book. That's it. It's that simple. Okay, see you next blog post...I guess I could make a few suggestions on where to promote your book. Here are five businesses to approach about promoting your books:

 

  1. The Stage: Communities large and small have at least one playhouse that produces four to six shows a year. Each one of those shows has programs with bios for the cast and crew. They also sell ad space in those programs, and it's quite affordable.
  2. The Silver Screen: Find the nearest independent movie house and look for promotional opportunities. You may be able to create a slide for those pre-show images that cycle through on the screen, or you might even be able to hang a flyer/poster near the concession stand for a nominal fee.
  3. The Weekly: Metropolitan areas in particular have weekly alternative papers that offer advertising space at a reasonable rate
  4. The Coffee Shop: Independently owned coffee shops and/or bakeries may let you hang a flyer/poster in their establishment. If not free, the cost would most likely be negligible.
  5. The Farmers' Market: The Farmers' Market has become a staple of most communities these days. Horticulture artisans and craftsmen of every ilk set up tables and sell their wares. If you don't want to set up your own table to sell your book, perhaps individual vendors would rent out a corner of their tables for you to display your flyer/poster.

 

That should give you a head start in finding inexpensive local promotional opportunities. I'm sure you can think of even more on your own. Don't forget to share your marketing efforts on your social media accounts.

 

-Richard

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

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Small marketing steps: alternative newspapers

Coffee and books

1,914 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, selling, self-publishing, promotion, marketing_strategy
2

Did you know that you automatically have an Amazon Author Page if you have a book for sale on Amazon.com? To find yours, do a search on the site for your book's title, then click on your name, which appears directly under the title. If you haven't touched your Author Page yet, you'll see just a list of your book(s), but you have the option of adding things like the following for your current (and future!) fans to enjoy:


 

  • Your bio—Tell your readers something interesting about yourself!
  • Your headshot—A professional photo is always a good idea
  • Your Twitter feed­—I'm not techy at all, yet I was able to connect mine
  • Your videos—Same as above
  • Your email address—Maybe someone wants to interview you or order a signed copy of your book
  • Your website address—A great place to send readers who want to learn more about you and your work
  • Your Facebook page—Same as above


To edit your Author Page, create an account in Amazon's Author Central by clicking on this link.


Even if you have an author website and/or Facebook page, I highly recommend creating an Amazon Author Page too. It's free, and it's a great way to connect with your readers­­. You never know who might want to contact you, so I'm a big advocate of making it easy for readers to find you. (If you're worried about spambots, list your email address with AT and DOT COM spelled out.)


For the lucky authors out there who are selling millions of books without doing any marketing at all, maybe an Author Page isn't necessary. For the rest of us, I believe the more you can do to pique the interest of a potential reader, the better!


 

-Maria


 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


 

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Make it easy for readers to find you

 

How to connect with your readers

 

2,256 Views 2 Comments Permalink
0

Scars

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 1, 2016

 

I want you to be unkind to a character. Just for a development exercise. In fact, I wouldn't even call it being unkind. I would call it being cruel to be kind. Hardship builds character, and that's what you're going to do with this exercise. This doesn't have to be a part of your story. It can be background material, or it can be used to help you break through writer's block.

 

I want you to pick a character that you're having a particularly hard time connecting with. Now give the character a scar. Make it as big or as small as you want. Place it where you want. Make it any shape that you want. Describe it in great detail. This scar has a story, and you're going to write it. Scars are essentially snapshots of traumatic events in a person's life. Keep in mind that trauma doesn't equal tragedy. Cesarean scars represent trauma but not tragedy, in most cases.


Beyond the event that caused the scar, you also want to explore how the scar affected your character on a daily basis. Did it change the way he or she interacted with other people? Did it change the way he or she dressed? Did it shape his or her personality, for better or for worse? It's possible this scar is tethered to every significant event in your character's life, and it is the essence of who he or she really is. Or it may carry no significance at all. You decide.


By giving your character this scar for the purposes of this exercise, you are giving yourself a simple way to uncover the core of who your character really is and make that connection you've been unable to make.


-Richard

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

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Your characters, warts and all

 

Taking a character from good to bad

 

 

 

 

1,035 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, character, character_development, characterization, character_arcs

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