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Here are some words that sound similar but have very different meanings:


Complement vs. Compliment


Complement means to go well with, supplement.


  • That dress really complements the green in Jennifer's eyes


Compliment means to flatter


  • Gloria wants to compliment Jen on her how well her dress complements the green in her eyes.


Complementary vs. Complimentary


Complementary means goes well with, or acts as a complement.


  • That dress is complementary to the green in Jennifer's eyes.


Complimentary means offering flattery or praise. It also means free.


  • Gloria was quite complimentary of Jennifer's pretty dress.


  • The tickets to the theater were complimentary as a thank-you for her charitable donation.


Assent vs. Ascent


Assent means to agree or approve.


  • After hours of deliberation, the condo association assented to Larry's request to add a deck to his unit.


Ascent means the act of moving upward.


  • Gloria's rapid ascent of the corporate ladder was much deserved.


Amiable vs. Amicable


Amiable means friendly and refers to a person.


  • Jennifer's amiable demeanor helped her smooth things over with the customer after she accidentally spilled a cup of coffee on him.  


Amicable means friendly and refers to a relationship.


  • George and Luisa are no longer living together, but they came to an amicable agreement about how to divide up their furniture.


Refer vs. Recommend


Refer means to send or direct for treatment or information.


  • Laura's primary care doctor referred her to a specialist for her knee pain.


(There are other meanings for "refer," but this is the one that gets confused with "recommend.")


Recommend means to endorse.


  • Laura's primary care doctor recommended a specialist for her knee pain.


What word pairs trip you up? Please share in the comments!


-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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Refresher on who vs. whom

More words that shouldn't be capitalized

706 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, words, grammar, homophones
0

You never know when you're going to meet someone who wants to buy your book, so it's good to always have a copy handy. But not everyone carries around cash or a checkbook, so I highly recommend the following three payment options:


  1. PayPal
  2. Venmo
  3. Square


PayPal

If you have a free PayPal account (www.paypal.com), others who have a PayPal account can send money directly from their account to yours without a transaction fee. They can also send money through a credit card, in which case you can decide if you or they pay the transaction fee. (This is a judgment call you will have to make.) With PayPal you can also send someone a "payment request" via email, which is essentially a stripped-down invoice.


Venmo

All the rage with Millennials and also free, Venmo (www.venmo.com) account holders can send each other money on their mobile phones at no cost by entering in the recipient's phone number, email address, or Venmo username into the Venmo app. Payments can also be made through the Venmo website.


Square

With a free Square (www.square.com) card reader that plugs into your mobile phone, you can swipe credit cards for a small per-transaction fee. As with PayPal, it's up to you to decide whether to pay the fee or pass it along to the buyer. In my experience, most people are happy to pay a little extra for the convenience of using a card.


If these options seem like too much of a hassle, look at it this way: You want to make it easy for those who express a sincere interest in buying your book to do so. Yes, they can always go online later and order a copy, but even those with the best of intentions can easily get busy and forget. I'd put that percentage in the ballpark of...very high. Why take that chance?


-Maria


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


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: always carry a book with you

A holiday book marketing idea


806 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, publishing, writing, payment, promotions
2

My editor once told me that the way to write an interesting novel is to put a series of obstacles in front of the main character. A successful author offered similar advice: put interesting characters into an interesting situation, and you have the foundation for an interesting story.


These statements may sound simplistic, but they are also true. Challenges create conflict, and good stories need conflict. The way your characters respond to obstacles also shows your readers what those characters are made of, who they really are. That leads to emotional connections - positive or negative - between your readers and your characters, which keep your readers engaged. If they aren't engaged, they probably won't be your readers for long.


It can be trying to come up with obstacle after obstacle, but if everything came easily to your characters, where's the payoff for your readers? Without the struggle, what's the point?


When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I gave it to a trusted friend to read. She told me that she thought it was funny, but she also said "Everyone is so nice." I took her feedback seriously and added in some not-so-nice characters to clash with, to present obstacles in front of, my main character. At the time I didn't realize that what I was doing was adding conflict, but in hindsight I get it.


"Seinfeld," my favorite TV show of all time, was famous for being "a show about nothing." That was a marketing stunt of course, because a show about nothing would be boring. The more things that get in the way of what a character wants, the more interesting the story. So torture your characters (figuratively or literally, depending on your genre), and see how they react. Your readers will thank 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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Quirks make characters real

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

1,034 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, conflict, character_development
3

Your author manifesto

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 11, 2017

If you've lost your way, it is time to take a stand. It is time to take ownership, to dive in head first, and shout out what you believe with passion and vigor...Well, don't shout it. Write it down.


Speaking as an author, I know how hard it is to build a brand and sell books. In a word, it can be daunting. You can get frustrated, even disheartened along the way when things aren't going as well as you imagined they would. This can lead to a lack of enthusiasm and focus. Your branding efforts will falter, and you may even be tempted to walk away from your dream.


Don't. Sit down and write your author manifesto. Turn that disappointment into passion. Why did you write a novel? What do you want readers to get out of books? Are you a storyteller that just wants to get characters from point A to point B or is there subtle commentary on the state of the world in your work? Write everything that writing means to you. Remind yourself why you devoted time and passion to writing your book. Feel that passion again.


You can do this privately or publicly. I leave that aspect of the manifesto to you, but be aware, if you choose to go public, you are inviting others to comment. That can be a vulnerable position. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a little nerve-racking.


Find that burning desire you once had to write your book again. Write your author's manifesto. 


-Richard


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Why did you write your story?

Quashing self-doubt



1,163 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: author, publishing, writing, draft, craft, branding
2

Word-of-mouth is a powerful force, and there's nothing wrong with encouraging your fans to tell their friends about your book. The key word here is fans. It's clear that a person is a fan of your book if she writes a favorable review on her blog, if he sends you an email telling you he enjoyed it, if she signs up for your newsletter, etc. In those situations, ask away!


What I don't recommend is asking people who are not fans to act like they are. I recently received an email from a self-published author, whom I hadn't met, asking me to forward a one-page description of his novel, which I hadn't read, to my network of contacts. The "description" he included was essentially a glowing review of his book. It was also written in the first person. That meant that if I did send it to anyone, it would appear that I'd written it.


What would you have done in that situation? I imagine the same thing I did, which was to thank the author for getting in touch and to tell him I couldn't promote a book I hadn't read. I felt bad for him because he had clearly put a lot of effort into his outreach. His email to me was personalized, which got me to read it - good! If he'd only added in the additional step of offering to send me a copy so I could read it before possibly recommending it, who knows what might have happened. I'm always looking for a good read.


If right now you're thinking, "I don't know if I have any fans to ask for help," you can start by including a note in your email signature along the lines of, Did you enjoy my book? Please tell your friends! If it results in a recommendation, it will be an honest one.


-Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


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: make it easy for readers to contact you

Marketing idea: encourage your fans to spread the word

919 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, promotions, word_of_mouth
1

 

Not long ago, I was watching an old thriller from the '40s. It was a Jimmy Stewart movie that was film noir to the Nth degree. The lighting, the attire, the dialogue all pointed to a gritty detective story where the main character relied on wit and guile from scene to scene. It was crime genre candy. It had one small flaw. It didn't impede my enjoyment of the film, but it did momentarily draw me out of the story.


The scenario was this. Stewart's character got a phone call from an associate. The caller was frantic and anxious to talk to our wise-cracking protagonist. Stewart assures the caller that he's curious to hear his news in person when the caller arrives at Stewart's apartment. He hangs up the phone. Less than a minute later the associate knocks on Stewart's door. Astonished, the hero of the story pulls open his apartment door and delivered the following joke: "That was fast. Whud'cha do, call from the car?"


In the late '40s, when the film was released, I'm sure that joke garnered a chuckle or two. Today, it falls flat simply because calling someone from one's car is commonplace. As I said, it didn't ruin the film, but it did give me pause, and veer my thoughts off into a direction about changing technology. As a writer, you want to limit those sorts of pauses as much as possible.


I'm not suggesting you avoid technology as a device to advance your plot or to even tell a flawless joke, but be aware the more your plot relies on contemporary technology the greater the risk of writing a story that will one day be considered dated. The workaround of course is to make the plot rely on character more than technology, even if you're writing a technological thriller. If you make the story about the people, your slips into outdated technology become nostalgic Easter eggs that readers will take note of instead of fixating on.


-Richard


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Avoid pop culture references

Wordplay: anachronisms in writing

777 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, protagonist, dated_technology
0

How to scare readers

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 11, 2017

Do you want to know how to scare people? I mean really scare people. We all have our fears. Public speaking, bear attacks, heights: you name an object, animal, place, state of being or activity, and you will find someone who is absolutely terrified of it. The problem is that not everyone is afraid of the same thing. You could write a truly terrifying novel about a bear going on a summer-long man-killing rampage in a national forest, but it may only find a limited audience because you focused on the device of your horror and didn't delve into the cost. 


To write a horror novel that is universally scary, you have to do one thing. You have to make the readers care. Namely, you have to make them care about your main characters. When your readers have an emotional investment in your protagonist, they will fear the potential loss you have in store for them. If a bear stalks a stranger, it offers some thrills and tense moments, but if a bear stalks someone you've grown to know and root for, it chills you to the bone. You know the cost if the character is lost to a brutal bear attack.


As an example, the horror classic Halloween does a superb job of getting you to care and then scares you to death. First, we get to know Laurie Strode. She's a good kid that loves her parents and feels a little awkward in her skin. She has a rapport with the kids she babysits, and she's a good friend. We like her. We care about her. We are terrified for her.


Remember, your scare tactics in a novel become universally scary when you make your readers care about your characters.


-Richard


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


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Horror and the Subgenres

The Elements of Horror

818 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, horror, writing, horror_genre
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It is anatomy day today on the blog. Here are the parts of a novel:


1. The opening/the hook: Some call it the most crucial part of your novel. As a reader, I can usually know from the very first line whether I'm going to connect with a book or not.


2. Characters: For me, this is the make or break element of a novel. If you write deep, fully-realized characters, you have a book that readers will flock to. It's not easy, and you're not going to please every reader, but if you do a deep dive on your character development you have a better than good chance to woo readers galore.


3. Plot: This is your main "What if?" question. This is what drives and motivates the characters. A flimsy plot can leave your readers confused and frustrated. Give them a compelling reason to read on, and they will stay engaged.


4. Subplot: Your subplots give your readers diversions and keep them guessing as they dive into the heart of your novel. Subplots are also great character building devices for your main characters and even secondary characters.


5 Setting: Where and when does your story take place? Authenticity is the key to creating a great setting. Even if your novel is a fantasy novel, it has to feel authentic. Details help and not just visuals. Smells, weather, and the people all help make a setting authentic.


6. Conclusion: How you wrap up your plot could be the difference between having a book with huge word of mouth potential or having a book that is just a blip on the reader's radar. Give your reader a satisfying conclusion to your plot, and you have a book readers can't wait to tell their friends and family about.


7. The end: Different from the conclusion, the ending of a book is where you paint a picture of your characters continuing to exist once your reader has read the last word. This is where a writer transitions from an author to an illusionist. Make the readers believe that life goes on, even when the story ends.


-Richard

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


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Do you need a prologue or an epilogue?

Embrace the boring parts

1,118 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing
2

An essential element of any book marketing campaign is securing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, book blogs, etc. However, to get reviewers to read your book, you're going to have to send them a copy. That generally means buying print copies, packing them up, then schlepping back and forth to the post office. This process can become time-consuming and expensive, especially if you're contacting a lot of people.


Another option is to send reviewers digital copies via Amazon. Given how much cheaper most digital books are compared to their print counterparts, this is a great way to get your work out there without breaking the bank. (Tech-savvy reviewers might be up for receiving MOBI files, which don't cost anything to email, so if you're techy too, you can always try that.)


Have you ever bought a digital book on Amazon as a gift? If not, here's all you have to do:


  1. Click the "Give as a Gift" option among the purchase buttons on the right side of the page
  2. Enter the email address linked to the recipient's Amazon account (Be sure to ask the reviewer for this information because sometimes people use a different address for online shopping than they do for other things. I know I do!)
  3. Enter the recipient's name
  4. Type in a personal note
  5. Click "Place your order"


That's it! Within minutes the recipient will receive an email from Amazon with a link to download your book to his or her Kindle device or reading app. For the diehard reviewers who insist on reading print copies only, you can still do the post office thing. Just remember to request the book rate. It's way cheaper than regular mail.


An added bonus of sending your book via Amazon is that you get a royalty for each one you buy, which brings down your overall cost. (This also applies for print versions you gift directly from Amazon, which will also save you that trip to the post office.) So what are you waiting for? Get pitching!


-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

Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

3,896 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, blogging, writing, book_reviews
1

There is a popular show on a streaming service that I had been anxious to watch, given the buzz that it had generated. So, I set aside a Saturday to watch as many episodes as I could squeeze in. I got my coffee, buttered some toast, sat down in front of the TV early in the morning, and started the first episode. It was compelling from the opening shot. I was sucked into it immediately. There was something about the show that I found relatable. It seemed almost familiar.


By the end of the first episode, I realized it was just that--familiar. It was similar to the theme and structure of a series of young adult novels I had written. It wasn't exactly the same, but the similarities were there. It was undeniable. I didn't want to think that someone had stolen my idea, but I still couldn't get the thought out of my mind. So, I did a little research on the show's creators and learned that they had been influenced by the same decade in which I came of age. Suddenly, it became clear. They hadn't stolen anything from me. We had just grown up during the same era. We shared the same cultural references.


It is possible to write a book that is similar to another book without having any knowledge of the story beforehand. It happens. Don't get discouraged if you discover your book is similar to someone else's. Keep writing. Publish. There is room for different takes on the same plot. Your writing style will be enough to set it apart.


-Richard

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Give Author Modeling a Try

 

How to be a Confident Writer

889 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, story_ideas
0

Compelling

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 17, 2017

When I'm asked to describe a book I love, I will invariably use the word compelling to describe it. Whether it's the plot or the character development or some other element of the story, I have found something compelling about the book. The question is what does that really mean?


Yes, there is a clear definition of the word compelling. In short, it means I found the story irresistible. I can't tell you how to make a book irresistible in a quantifiable way. There's no formula that I can give and say, "Use this and your book will be compelling." I mean I could, but that would make me a con man who you should stay far away from.


But what I can do is tell you what I think makes a book compelling. I find a story compelling when it strikes one of two chords:


  1. It's familiar. I can relate to some aspect of the story. Either I recognize myself in the protagonist or I know the setting. I'm compelled to read more because I can picture myself living the story.
  2. It's plausible. Even in a fantasy-based story, if plausibility is the base on which the story is built, I find the story compelling. Sure a vampire might be terrorizing a town, but if some junk science is introduced that casts a shadow of plausibility on how vampires can exist, I will find the story more compelling. I don't even need full plausibility. I just need a sliver of, "Hmm, I suppose it's not totally out of the question." Of course, the more ironclad the plausibility, the greater my attraction to the story.


So, that's what makes a book compelling to me. What makes a story compelling to you?


-Richard

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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The Horoscope Prompt

The Resolution Matrix

1,084 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, character_development, story_elements
0

That one thing

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 1, 2017

 

Why you? It's a question you need to ask. You are trying to build a brand--not just a brand, but an author brand. That means there are books tied to your name. The ultimate goal is to sell those books, and your sales will stem from how you answer this question: Why you?


There are millions of books to choose from on the market. More are added every day. Every hour of every day. Readers are flooded with choices. Why should they choose your book over the others? The answer--in most cases--is you. Your writing style, your public persona, your celebrity endorsements, whatever the reason, you are the one factor that sets your book apart. Yes, quality of writing, publishing track record, and scores of other reasons are factors too, but in today's brand-driven economy, who you are is a major factor in your success.


You need to sit down and do a close examination of your brand, determine what the unique component of your brand is, and build on that. Expand your community. Call it your special ingredient. Maybe it's your sense of humor or maybe it's your spiritual perspective on life. Perhaps you're not just a science fiction author, but an actual scientist who writes science fiction.


Once you find that one thing that makes you different from other author brands, you'll have a better understanding of where to find readers, and how to keep them invested in your brand. You'll increase your readership just by being you. Now, why you?

 

-Richard

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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Evaluating Your Author Brand

 

An Active Author Brand

 

 

 

 

1,323 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, branding, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand, brand_identity
1

 

There was a time when getting T-shirts printed was a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but thanks to the Internet, that's no longer the case. So why not make some T-shirts to promote your book? I did this for my Waverly Bryson series, creating shirts in blue and pink with the following quotes from my protagonist:


"Is it worse to be fake or bitchy?" --Waverly Bryson


"I know nothing, but at least I know that." --Waverly Bryson


"Beer goggles are the lonely girl's Cupid." --Waverly Bryson


"Do not post what you ate for breakfast on Facebook." --Waverly Bryson


Almost every time I wear one of the shirts, someone stops me and asks where I got it. I explain that it's a quote from one of my novels, then smile and hand them a business card with a link to my website. Boom--a potential reader! I even wore one of the T-shirts to a Northwestern University alumni networking event in New York City, and I got a lot of attention not just for the books, but for my marketing ingenuity.


I've given away countless T-shirts at book signings and events, and I've even sold some on my website. I've also included them as a bonus gift when fans contact me to order signed copies of my books. People love free stuff, so it's a win-win. And the more people who laugh at what Waverly Bryson has to say, the better chance I have of selling more books.


If you're scratching your head right now wondering what you could put on your own T-shirts, that depends on the subject matter of your work, but I'm sure you can come up with something. It's a matter of creativity, and if you wrote a book, you are creative. Remember that.


-Maria


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


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 Idea: Set Up a Card Table on the Sidewalk

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

2,085 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, t-shirts, marketing_ideas
1

Every day?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 16, 2017

 

I'm about to give you advice that will blow your mind. I guarantee I will make some writing gurus and experts mad with what I'm about to suggest. This is about as controversial as you can get when handing out advice on writing. When this blog is posted, I'll make a concerted effort to stay off Twitter to avoid the barbs and figurative arrows.

 

Are you ready for this? OK, here we go. Don't write every day. What? Am I crazy? Have I sold my soul to the bad-writing cabal? How can I say such a thing?

 

I should add, "if you don't want to." Let me be clear, I don't think writing every day is a bad thing. I think it's great for those writers who flourish under that kind of strategy. I simply want to point out that it's not the only strategy. Some authors take breaks between writing sessions. Some of those breaks can last for weeks or longer.

 

My point is if writing every day isn't your style, don't force yourself to do it. There' nothing less productive than trying to write when you're just not feeling it. It has the potential to do more harm than good. It can ding your confidence each time you sit at a computer unable to find the inspiration to write. It's okay to wait for the inspiration to hit you before you write.

 

We are individuals. We have different approaches to writing. Don't feel obligated to adapt to anyone else's writing schedule. Find what works for you, and leave the guilt behind.

 

-Richard

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

 

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Should You Write Daily to Write Well?

 

My Writing Rules, Which You are Free to Ignore

828 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, writing_strategies
1

You have a story to tell. It's your own. You've either lived an interesting life that is full of intrigue or tragedy or inspiration, or you've experienced an event that either made you or broke you. Whatever the circumstance, your story must be told. The problem you are faced with is whether to write an autobiography or a memoir.


Yes, there is a difference between the two. Here's an explanation of both to help you decide which category best fits your story.


Autobiography: You've had an interesting life. From the day you were born, to the day you sit behind your laptop to write your story, your life has been filled with twists and turns that could, well, fill a book. Your story is told in chronological order, and there is strong possibility that you have achieved at least some notoriety.


Memoir: A major event or series of events has caused a turning point in your life. You have no notoriety, but the struggle and/or triumph you've experienced has given you a perspective that you feel compelled to share. In many ways, regardless of when this event happened in your life, it's a coming-of-age tale or an emotional awakening. And the telling of your story doesn't necessarily happen in chronological order.


While most retailers lump autobiographies and memoirs together, it is important to know the difference as an author. If the whole of your life doesn't offer something out of the ordinary, don't tell it. Focus instead on the changing event that made you who you are.


-Richard


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Presenting Fiction as Fact Can Be a Slippery Slope

Claim Your Genre

1,161 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, autobiography, memoir
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