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Reading Out Loud

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 8, 2010

Sometimes I get into the middle of a book project, and the words become all jumbled in my head. There doesn't seem to be any real reason for it, but I just can't untangle the words and write anything that is remotely useful - or even coherent. What's my remedy for this frustrating impasse?


I print out the pages I have, find a time and place where no one can hear me, and I read what I have written out loud. It doesn't matter if I have 10 pages or 100 pages; I always start from the beginning and read every word. I'll change the tone and timbre of my voice when reading the dialogue of the different characters. I'll try to meet the intensity of each passage with my voice. It helps me get unstuck. When I read aloud, the story is outside of my head; I see it as a mental 3-D imagining of the story, and it helps me move my writing forward.


I searched the internet recently to find out what other writers thought of this strategy, and found, not surprisingly, that I'm not alone. Reading aloud is a common practice. Here's what James Chartrand of the blog Men with Pens had to say about the strategy:


Reading aloud is a valuable exercise to improve your writing. Your words become crystal clear, and they'll convey a more powerful, effective message that gets you better results. Here's why:


You'll spot paragraphs that end abruptly. You'll notice transitions between ideas aren't as smooth as you thought they were. You'll hear if your introduction sounds weak or choppy, and you'll discover whether your wrap-up encourages conversation or just stops it cold.


The real benefit of reading your work out loud is that it gives you the opportunity to totally immerse yourself in your story. When you're reading aloud, you're engaging more of your brain to relive your story, and you have to work really hard to become distracted.


So the next time you're having trouble cranking out the prose, find your spot, say it out loud, and say it proud. You may laugh at yourself a few times, but I promise, it's a good feeling to know you're jumping into your writing with everything you've got.


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


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Creative Writing Exercises
A Self-Published Author's Tough Choices, and Having the Freedom to Make Them

547 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writers, writing, writing_process
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.


Books/Publishing


Definitive List of Clichéd Dialogue - Dark Angels Blog

You look like you've seen a ghost...or maybe you just read another tired cliché. Note to self, read Dark Angels' list of clichés very carefully.


No, and Furthermore - Edittorent

Ever have trouble ending a scene? According to Jack Brickman, the best way to end a scene is to ask yourself one question.

 

Film


Open Source Filmmaking - Will It Blend? - Mat Tyler

Ever wonder what this open source filmmaking stuff is all about? Mat Tyler gives a great example of how the process works.


How Producing for the Web Can Fit into a Filmmaking Career - Broadcasting Ourselves

This is an interesting interview with a production company called the Bajillionaires Club. They got their start producing videos for the web, and they've gone on to do TV and corporate production.

 

Music


A Sample Music Business Plan for Your Band - eleetmusic

Now this is a great use of the internet. The band Northern Southerners gave eleetmusic permission to post their business plan for the betterment of bandkind.


Singers with Breathing or Rhythm Issues: Dance! - Judy Rodman

Having trouble getting the singing groove? Voice coach Judy Rodman thinks that dancing is the perfect remedy.


-Richard

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


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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - November 30, 2010 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - November 23, 2010 Edition

1,287 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, production, production, movies, movies, writing, writing, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, singing, singing
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For a while now, I've had a theory that I write better when I know the title of the book I'm writing. It sounds weird, I know, but for whatever reason, I can crank out the pages with a lot more confidence when I've committed to a title. I thought I was alone until I read this quote by Irish novelist Roddy Doyle:

 

Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it. Dickens knew "Bleak House" was going to be called "Bleak House" before he started writing it. The rest must have been easy.

 

So there it is. I am not alone. There are several reasons why I think naming your book early in the process helps you write.

 

  • A title sets the tone of a book for the reader and writer alike. When you know the title of the book, it helps you capture the mood of the work as you write and keep a consistent voice throughout.

 

  • Setting the title helps you visualize the book as a completed piece. It's something I learned from my time in athletics. We were instructed to visualize the game - play by play - before we even put our uniforms on. In essence, we played the game twice. When I have a title for a book, I am able to visualize characters, scenes, dialogue, a bound copy of the book, etc. In many ways, this can make actually writing the book seem more like a mere formality.

 

  • Knowing the title inspires you to write. There's something about knowing the name of your book that makes you want to sit down at the computer keyboard and create the content for that title.

 

If you're stuck on that next book idea, start brainstorming titles on paper. Write without thinking. Take a walk, and pay attention to your surroundings. Stroll through your local bookstore, and look at titles in your genre. Your title should speak to you and give you the inspiration to write. And if you end up changing it later, that's okay, but coming up with a title to guide you from the start can get you on the right path to writing and finishing your book.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Your First Line Can Help You Sell Books

The Importance of Endings

7,040 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, title, title, title, craft, craft, craft
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Character Building Workshop - Writer Online

An interesting online questionnaire about the characters you create. It's a great tool to help you develop multi-dimensional characters.

 

Pumping Up the Plot: 6 Vital Signs of a Healthy Plot - Beyond The Margins

Does your plot add up? Are you writing for the sake of writing, or is there purpose to your prose?

 

Film

 

Robert Rodriguez on How Technology Has Changed Filmmaking - Gizmodo

Everyone's favorite rebel with camera, Robert Rodriguez, dishes on the current state of filmmaking. His first feature was shot for $7,000 in 1992, which he thinks is about 10 times more than what he would need if he shot the film today.

 

How George Lucas Changed Special Effects in Filmmaking Forever - Techland

What do you do when you're a young filmmaker and the technology doesn't exist to create the special effects you need for your film? If you're like George Lucas, you invent the technology.

 

Music

 

5 Music Video Sites for Independent Artists - Indie Music Tech

It turns out there's more to the online video world than YouTube. Indie Music Tech shares five video sharing sites geared toward the indie crowd.

 

Back in the Groove, Like Riding a Bike - Music After 50

Just because the real world comes calling when you're younger doesn't mean you can't step back into the music world at a later date. The passion never leaves the true musician.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - November 23, 2010 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - November 16, 2010 Edition

1,244 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, music, music, films, films, musicians, musicians, craft, craft, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Finding the right ending for a book can be a difficult task. For me, it's not just a matter of wrapping up the story in a neat little bundle to make the reader happy. As an author, I want to create an ending that will make readers want more when they've finished the book - an ending that will make them hop on the internet to search for more about me and my other titles. In short, I think the ending of your book is almost like the hook you create to inspire your audience to read more of your work. I will agonize and rewrite and lament every syllable of the last sentence in an ending. I feel that if I've done this right, it will create a fan, but if it's done incorrectly, it will leave me with a reader who is likely to forget my name the second he or she has read the last line.

 

I feel just as strongly about the ending of chapters. I know, as a reader, I'm more inclined to continue on to the next chapter if the previous one ended with an unexpected twist or an unanswered question. If a writer can plant a seed of doubt at the end of the chapter that makes me question the direction I thought the story was about to take, then I'll keep reading on to either clear up the doubt or adopt a new set of expectations for the rest of the story. This "cliffhanger" strategy is a way to keep the story compelling. Chapters don't need to include their own individual sets of conclusions. The author's only real obligation is to make sure chapters contribute to the overall conclusion of the book.

 

My favorite kind of chapter ending is that of the open-ended variety. It sets up coming conflict without revealing too much. It may even hint at an unexpected element to be introduced in the very near future. It's all about teasing readers so they just won't be satisfied until they read a little more.

 

How about you? How do you like to end a chapter? And when do you know a chapter is done?

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Your First Line Can Help You Sell Books

The Point Where a Bestselling Book Lost Me

2,020 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, craft, craft, craft, craft, craft, chapters, chapters, chapters, chapters, chapters, ending, ending, ending, ending, ending
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Anatomy of a Best-Selling Novel - Structure Matters - Kristen Lamb's Blog

Story structure isn't just a convenient tool to write a great novel. It's also the best way to engage your readers.

 

Character Planning: A Little about Backstories and Inner Demons - Procrastinating Writers

A good story is driven by characters. Good characters have a history and inner conflicts the readers may never see.

 

 

Film

 

Ambition and Film-making - Film And Misanthropy

A blogger and filmmaker makes an excellent case to go ahead and write that big budget screenplay. Don't let the lack of money affect your story.

 

Why a Few Awesome Scenes Are Not Enough in Sci-fi Flicks - filmcritic.com

Sci-fi guy John Scalzi asks the question: Can a great scene save a bad movie?

 

 

Music

 

Stomach Bug and Have to Sing? - Judy Rodman

Vocal instructor Judy Rodman gives some excellent tips on how to power through a stomach virus and still make your gig.

 

Free Music Marketing Tip Sheet - Bob Baker's Buzz Factor

Music marketing expert Bob Baker is giving away a free six-page PDF of his tips for marketing your music and band. Why? He wants to know what you think of his ideas.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - November 9, 2010 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - November 2, 2010 Edition

1,231 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, filmmaking, filmmaking, promotion, promotion, story, story, characters, characters, musicians, musicians, craft, craft, screenwriting, screenwriting, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Rejection (No, This Isn't About My Dating Life)

 

Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of rejection. Sweet? I mean it. If we're never rejected, how else are going to prove people wrong? All the greats faced it. Lincoln lost five elections. Michael Jordon got cut from the high school basketball team. The Beatles were told by a record company they'd never make it because they were a guitar band. The "experts" get it wrong all the time. Want more proof?

 

Stephen King's first published novel sold four million copies in paperback. And garnered 30 rejections from publishers. One of them wrote, "'We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." Tired of rejection slips, King reportedly threw the manuscript into the garbage - but his wife fished it out again, and he decided to try one more time.

 

You can read about other famous authors and the rejection they faced on i09's website: 15 classic science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers rejected

 

Go Ahead, Make My Day...with a Memorable Line from a Movie

 

The New York Times is wondering where all the memorable lines from movies have gone. And I'm wondering if we were really better off when everyone was telling their co-workers to "talk to the hand" or replying to praise or acknowledgment with a "Yeah, baby." I love a good movie line, but there are times when hearing "we're going to need a bigger boat," grates on you just a tad. Here's an excerpt from the article.

 

It may be that a Web-driven culture of irony latches onto the movie lines for something other than brilliance, or is downright allergic to the kind of polish that was once applied to the best bits of dialogue. Thus one of the most frequently repeated lines of the last year came from "Clash of the Titans" which scored an unimpressive 28 percent positive rating among critics on the Rottentomatoes.com Web site after it was released by Warner Brothers in April. "Release the Kraken!" thundered Liam Neeson as Zeus - spawning good-natured mockery on obscene T-shirts and in Kraken-captioned photos of angry kitty cats.

 

You can read the entire article on the New York Times' website: Longing for the Lines That Had Us at Hello

 

Sometimes Showing Fans Appreciation is Hard

 

There are fans and then there are superfans. The two are similar in that they love and appreciate your work, but fans leave it at that. Superfans take real personal interest in your work and, in some ways, take ownership of your success. To truly make it big, you need the superfans. Make no mistake about it, you do owe them a debt of gratitude, but how far should you take your gratitude? According to singer/songwriter John Roderick, it's a tough line to draw in the sand.

 

Superfans want access, but bands, especially bands on tour, have to CONTROL access to themselves...Time is limited and demands are high. As bands get bigger, the demands increase and the time available shrinks. Access to the band, especially the kind of unmediated and casual access a superfan treasures, is one of the first things to go after sleep and good nutrition. It's never apparent to the fan how much energy it takes a musician to sit and have a relaxed one-on-one with them... before... a show.

 

You can read the entire article on Hypebot's website: The Hard-Knock Life Of Superfans And Musicians

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 22, 2010

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 15, 2010

1,338 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, music, music, movies, movies, publishing, publishing, quotes, quotes, rejection, rejection, fans, fans, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Since one of my favorite holidays is upon us, I decided to dedicate this blog post to the movie that shares the holiday's name and sensibility: John Carpenter's Halloween. I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I consider it to be an important component in the development of my storytelling abilities, especially when it comes to building suspense. The movie is full of solid story-building elements that I try to incorporate in my own writing. Read on for lessons from Halloween that you can apply to your own writing.

 

1. A well-defined backstory - Michael Myers suffers a psychological break as a young boy that drives him to murder his family on Halloween. He's institutionalized and raised in an asylum until he escapes on Halloween to return to the scene of his breakdown.

 

The Lesson: Carpenter gives us a clearly defined backstory, which can be summed up simply and definitively.

 

2. A strong protagonist - Laurie Strode is sweet and innocent, but once her survival instincts kick in, she'll stop at nothing to defend herself and the young kids she babysits.

 

The Lesson: With Strode, Carpenter demonstrates his character arch skills by taking her from a harmless schoolgirl to a ferocious fighter. Your characters work when they experience growth.

 

3. A sympathetic bad guy - Yes, Michael Myers is a psychotic monster with a butcher knife, but there are moments that indicate he is still a small, scared child at heart. He's done terrible things, but he's sick.

 

The Lesson: Carpenter lets us know that Michael does not understand the world like everyone else, and he kills because his mind is diseased. The audience screams when they see him on-screen, but they also can't wait to see him on-screen. If he were not so well-defined, the story wouldn't work half as well.

 

4. The secondary characters - Halloween has excellent secondary characters to propel the story forward. Michael's therapist, Dr. Sam Loomis, provides an ever-present foreboding to the story that keeps you looking over your shoulder. The sheriff is a no-nonsense lawman trying to keep a town safe and raise a teenage daughter. The two kids Laurie ends up babysitting are adorable enough for the audience to fear for them.

 

The Lesson: Carpenter didn't just make Halloween about Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Stories can't just be about the protagonist and the villain. There has to be a world around them full of people you care about. If there are developmental interactions with secondary characters, then the relationship between Laurie and Michael becomes much more interesting.

 

5. The conflict - This is as simple a conflict as you can get: Michael wants kill Laurie and those she cares about, and Laurie wants to keep everyone alive. It's a desire to kill versus a desire to survive.

 

The Lesson: Carpenter includes coming-of-age subplots that give the story depth, but he never loses sight of the fact that the story is really about good versus evil. The simpler you make your conflict, the easier it is for the audience to get involved in the story.

 

6. The unknown - The greatest part of the story is that Carpenter gives us just enough information about Michael Myers that we're fairly sure we know where he's going to pop out, but he doesn't give us enough information to eliminate all doubt. We know he's in the house, but we don't know where in the house. We know he's outside the window, but will he crash through and grab someone, or move into the shadows and wait for his victim to come outside? We know he's been stabbed, but is he really dead? It's a brilliant game of cat-and-mouse that happens inside the viewer's mind.

 

The Lesson: Carpenter never lets you feel safe. He's constantly challenging your understanding of his style and the characters' actions. To keep your audience on edge, you have to tease them. Create behaviors that make them think they know the character, and present them with enough opportunity to prove or disprove their suspicions.

 

The great thing about this structure is that you can apply these lessons to virtually any genre and be well on your way to creating a compelling story.

 

How about you? Is there a particular movie or book that you feel taught you some valuable elements of writing and storytelling?

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Creative Writing Exercises

Let Walk-on Characters Enrich Your Scenes

1,667 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, story, storytelling, craft
0

Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

 

Choosing An Editor For Your Work - Mike Cane's

Not just any old editor will do. Like any relationship, you need to find someone with whom you have some chemistry.

 

 

The Teacher's Edition Interview - Ramona DeFelice Long

Writing teacher and freelance editor Ramona Long dishes out some excellent advice in this extensive interview.

 

 

Film

 

 

Become a Successful Filmmaker in One Difficult Step - The KR7productions Blog

The best way to become a filmmaker is to...wait for it?make a great film. It's as simple and as complicated as that.

 

 

Burns on Filmmaking: A Conversation at Dartmouth - Dartmouth Now

A little known documentary filmmaker named Ken Burns shares his thoughts on film in this video. 

 

 

Music

 

 

Small Business Jobs Act For Musicians - eleetmusic

Could new small business legislation help musicians get micro-loans?

 

 

The 6 Phases of Music Marketing by Dexter Bryant, Jr. - Artists House Music

Does your music have sustained attention? How about credibility? Dexter Bryant can help.     

 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - October 12, 2010 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - October 5, 2010 Edition

1,241 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, filmmaking, filmmaking, editing, editing, writers, writers, interior, interior, writing, writing, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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From Page to Screen

 

Don't look now, but publishing companies are starting to look a lot like film studios. That might be because a few publishing companies have created Film/TV units. These departments are actually involved in the production of the film version of a book, usually partnering with a studio. Macmillan is the latest to jump into the Hollywood lights, but they aren't first and probably won't be the last. Brendan Deneen of Macmillan explains the move.

 

"We are mostly looking to develop book ideas that work both as novels and movies and TV shows," Deneen told Deadline. "We will develop the ideas in-house, and hire writers who'll share in the success of the projects. We will retain all rights and hopefully set them up." Macmillan Films properties will be shopped in Hollywood by Sylvie Rabineau of RWSG?"It's a new way to control intellectual property because in this changing world, he who controls IP wins," Deneen said. "Books will always be the core business here, but if you can be attached to the movie, the videogame and the Happy Meal, why not?"

 

You can read the entire article on Deadline New York's website: Macmillan Publishers Starts Film/TV Unit

 

 

Making Money with Your Documentary

 

Documentaries are an increasingly popular form of expression in the filmmaking community due to a never-ending supply of cultural topics to cover. If you're a master of the documentary genre, how can you make money with your film? Marke Andrews of The Vancouver Sun tackles that question.  

 

Makers of documentaries got some sound advice Wednesday at a Vancouver International Film Festival trade forum session on the film acquisition business, even if those advising them disagreed on many points. Get your documentary into film festivals to create a buzz, but don't enter too many festivals because the buzz may become over-exposure?Think about niche markets, but make sure your film's content doesn't scare off those in the niche.

 

You can read the entire article on The Vancouver Sun's website: Dos and don'ts to sell your doc

 

 

 

My T-Shirt Proves I've Been a Fan Longer Than You.

 

When it comes to concert t-shirts, it seems the older the better. In fact, if you're seen at a concert wearing a t-shirt from that very concert, you risk judgment from the masses. It's even preferable to wear another band's t-shirt to show your diverse musical tastes. Yes, even in the world of rock and roll, etiquette abounds. It appears that it's okay to be rebellious and different as long as you do it like everyone else who's different and rebellious.

 

 

However, fans will often wear the T-shirt of band playing if it is from a previous tour. The older the tour, the higher the prestige and the greater likelihood the shirt will initiate conversations about the fan's experience. On the Wedding Present's current tour, which revisits their Bizarro album, some fans are wearing shirts from the original 1989 tour, much to the delight of fellow fans.

 

You can read the entire article on The Guardian's website: Ask the indie professor: What does your gig T-shirt say about you?

 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 8, 2010

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - October 1, 2010

1,537 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, book, book, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, film, film, movies, movies, publishing, publishing, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
1

I took a creative writing class in college, and on the first day I couldn't wait to jump into the process and begin writing. My enthusiasm was soon tempered by exercises and assignments that had very little to do with actual writing. We had to do a lot of reading. We had to identify what it was we liked about certain books and short stories. We had to pick out compelling conflicts in our real life and outline them as if they were the plot of a story: What's the issue? What's driving the conflict? Describe the characters, etc. In a lot of ways, it felt like visiting a therapist three times a week.

 

 

On the rare occasion we actually did get to write, it was like opening the flood gates. We would have a week to write a short story and turn it in. The instructor would read a select few out loud without naming the author. I can remember her choosing one of my stories one week and reading it to the class. I couldn't have been more proud or terrified as I recognized the title. I sank down in my chair and hoped for the moment to pass very quickly. When she was finished, she asked the class for their opinions. I was relieved when the cute girl I was hoping to have the nerve to talk to one day actually liked the story. I sat up taller. And then the guy who eventually ended up dating her raised his hand and let the class know that he didn't like it. It was too wordy and had way too much exposition. I was crushed, and when I had a chance to look up the definition of "exposition" later that day, I was angry. He couldn't have been right, could he?

 

 

It has been a couple of decades since that class, and I can easily recall what that guy didn't like about my story, but I can't for the life of me remember what that girl had liked about my story. As a result, as much as it hurt to hear, I have to say that the guy who didn't like my story did me a bigger favor than the girl. At the time, I saw it as a profound lapse of judgment on his part, but now whenever I write, I hear those words, "too much exposition," in my head, and I strip it down. I go with the bare minimum. So, he may have gotten the girl, but I got the point, and I'm a better writer for it.

 

 

When you get criticism on your writing, take some time to think about it before you react. The hardest thing you will ever do is separate yourself from your work and look at it objectively. We all feel that negative criticism is a personal attack at times, and occasionally it is, but your job is to grow as a writer. Growth comes with pain. View negative feedback as an opportunity to get better. If the criticism is specific, revisit the areas mentioned in the critique and read it as an editor. Do they have a point? Rewrite using the critics' suggestions and ask the editor in you if they indeed make the story better. The more you make the effort to incorporate the suggestions into your work, the more likely it is you'll be able to look at both versions objectively. You may determine that your first version was indeed better, but that's okay. At least you listened. Just remember, you may find that what you don't want to hear is exactly what you need to hear.

 

 

Have you ever received negative criticism on your work? How did you turn it into a lesson to make you a better writer? Share your experiences in the comments.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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AAUGH! Rewrites!

Why Responding to Negative Reviews Can Hurt Your Marketing

2,134 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, reviews, reviews, writers, writers, review, review, writing, writing, craft, craft, criticism, criticism
0

Way back when, I once worked in a marketing department for a small two-year college. When I say "way back," I mean a time when we'd all get absolutely giddy if we actually got an e-mail, or we'd curse a website that had images because it would take forever to display on our 45-pound monitors. In other words, in an ancient, distant time before e-commerce was a viable form of business and social media wasn't even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg's preteen eye.

 

In this time, advertising was done mostly though mainstream outlets: radio, television, and print. I was working with a graphic designer on a billboard when I learned an invaluable lesson in marketing and advertising that is still applicable for today's online media. We sat in a small conference room and brainstormed idea after idea. A lot of paper ended up in the trash can and gallons of coffee were consumed before we came up with an ad that made us both happy. It had lots of registration information, our school logo, and images of students having a fantastic time.

 

We handed the concept to our marketing director and she quickly shot it down. It was too busy, she said. We were devastated and on the verge of collapsing from an overdose of caffeine. "Tell us what you want," the graphic artist demanded. The marketing director very coolly said, "I want seven words or less, our logo, and no more than two students. Your priority is to sell our image in as few words as you can." Before we could protest, she smiled and asked "Got milk?"

 

She was reminding us of a simple rule we had forgotten in our effort to be creative and clever. People don't stop to read billboards. You have to assume that they are only going to have a few precious seconds to see your billboard as they race by in their car. The best way to get your message across is to not overload them with information and visual stimulation, which actually meant we had to be even more creative and clever to capture their attention. The graphic artist and I instituted a self-imposed rule from then on out: we would never again hand in anything for a billboard - or any other print ad concept - that had more than 10 items (pictures and words).

 

Today's billboards are banner ads. Traveling down the highway at 70 miles-per-hour is very similar to surfing the web. People aren't going to stop to read your banner ad. They have a high-speed internet connection because they want to travel from page to page quickly. The best way to get your message across is to treat a banner ad like a billboard. Try to stay within the rule of 10, including no more than 10 elements in your ad, including words, logos, and images. Remember, you're not creating an ad to sell your book. In a weird way, you're selling them on the banner ad itself. You have to give them a compelling reason to stop surfing and click on your ad. The act of doing so means they are open to your material and sales pitch at that point. Be creative, keep it short, and make it pop. My experience is that simplicity rules the day with any kind of advertising. The most successful ads have people saying, "That's so simple, why didn't I think of that?" To give you a jump start on developing a banner ad, here's an article that should help: 58 Online Copywriting Power Words & Phrases. After you draw them in, you will have more of an opportunity to get across all the information about your title.

 

Have you ever tried banner ads when marketing your work? What are your dos and don'ts for this form of advertising?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Synergy - Web 2.0 Style

Rice Milk Marketing Lessons

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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.


Books/Publishing


     In Defense of Telling - Laura Pauling

Author Laura Pauling argues that "Show it, don't tell it" is a bit misleading. Sometimes you need to tell.


     How to Get Started Doing Your Own PR - BNET

The advice is meant for small business owners but authors and artist of every discipline should pay close attention to this post.



Film


     Going Bionic: Distributing Independent Films Internationally - Film Threat

There are more regional film festivals than you can shake a stick at. So which ones should you put on your short list? Film Threat shares its advice on the matter.


     5 Tips To Remember While Making A Film - sedentarismointelectual.com

How to tell a story on film and keep a lot of people employed in the process.



Music


     Twitter Overtakes MySpace as #3 Social-Networking Site - Paste Magazine

Believe it or not there was a time when MySpace was THE social network, especially for musicians. Now it's fallen to fourth place and could fall even further.


     Copyright Protection Only Costs $35 - Artists House Music

Ever wonder what it takes to copyright a song? Vanessa Kaster uncovers the mystery.



-Richard

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


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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 28, 2010 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - September 21, 2010 Edition

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Past, Present, It's All Good...Or Is It?

Believe it or not, there is a controversy brewing in the literary world involving the use of present tense in novels. It seems that three of the nominees for this year's Man Booker Prize are (or were) written in the present tense. Some believe it's a bit too fashionable, which I think is the Brits' way of saying gimmicky. They think the trend of writing in the present tense is due to a lack of courage by the new crop of writers in the publishing world today.


Philip Pullman -- author of the bestselling series of young-adult novels "His Dark Materials" -- also jumped into the fray in the pages of the Guardian, blaming an aversion to the past tense on the "timorous uncertainty" of "sensitive and artistic storytellers" afraid of the "politically dodgy" implications of seeming to know too much about their own story: "Who are we to say this happened and then that happened? Maybe it didn't, perhaps we're wrong, there are other points of view, truth is always provisional, knowledge is always partial, the narrator is always unreliable, and so on."


You can read the entire article on Salon's website: The fierce fight over the present tense

 


Love Him or Hate Him, You Can't Deny He Is Prolific

Woody Allen may be a lightning rod for controversy, but he's also a prolific filmmaker. He cranks out a new film every year. They haven't all been winners, but a few are considered cinematic classics. With 46 film projects under his belt, he's got to have a sense for what works and what doesn't, right? Not necessarily. When asked if he thought his films would be better if he took more time to develop them, he answered:


"They wouldn't be better," Allen said matter-of-factly. "I have thought about that, yes, but they wouldn't be. When I've had time to do something, it doesn't come out better. There's no correlation between the time spent and how it comes out. It's really about the luck of a good idea. If you get a good idea you can execute it quickly. Kaufman and Hart, for example, wrote 'You Can't Take It With You' in two weeks."


You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: Woody Allen is already thinking beyond 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger'

 


Has the Internet Devalued Music?

U2's manager Paul McGuinness has been making a name for himself as of late not as the megaband's manager, but as an advocate for the little guys, those indie artists who are having a hard time making in it the music industry these days. McGuinness believes that music piracy is the single greatest reason for shrinking profits, and it's not bands like U2 that are affected. It's small independent bands that are paying the biggest price.


Artists cannot get record deals. Revenues are plummeting. Efforts to provide legal and viable ways of making money from music are being stymied by piracy. The latest figures from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shown that 95 percent of all music downloaded is illegally obtained and unpaid for. Indigenous music industries from Spain to Brazil are collapsing. An independent study endorsed by trade unions says Europe's creative industries could lose more than a million jobs in the next five years. Maybe the message is finally getting through that this isn't just about fewer limos for rich rock stars.


You can read the entire article on GQ's website: How to save the music industry


-Richard

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


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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 24, 2010

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - September 17, 2010

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Enjoy What You Write

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 29, 2010

Why are the Twilight books so popular? I can speculate, and I will since this is my blog post. I have never read the books. I've tried. I bought the first one and couldn't get past page 100. I am making no judgment on Stephenie Meyer. I've lived long enough to know that tastes vary, and I'm not always going to agree with the majority. It is what it is. Just because I don't care for her style or the books doesn't mean they are bad.


I have several adult friends who are in love with the Twilight series and they know I am not a fan. They've tried to convince me that I should read them because I write young adult fiction. But reading a popular book to try and emulate it is a pointless endeavor. I'll explain why in a bit, but let's get back to my adult friends who read the Twilight books. When I ask them what they like about the novels, the most common response I get is "I don't know."


"The writing?" I ask.

"No, not necessarily," they answer.

"The story?"

"Not really. It's been done before. Awkward girl falls in love with the bad boy. Bad boy has a heart of gold. Awkward girl gets in trouble. Bad boy comes to the rescue. Awkward girl demonstrates a surprisingly strong side. Bad boy demonstrates a surprisingly tender side. It's kind of like Grease, but with vampires."

"The characters?"

"Hmmm, not particularly."

"There has to be something about the books you like. What is it?"

"They're just fun to read."


And that brings me to why one author can't effectively copy another author's success just by writing the same type of book. You have to enjoy what you write in order for someone to enjoy what they read. I can't explain it or prove it, but there is a magical element that occurs when writing from a place of utter absorption...from a place where you're no longer self-aware. You are simply enjoying the experience of telling the story. That can't be faked. It has to be genuine.


Those of us who write in the English language all use the same basic set of words and rules. Sometimes we even place the words in the same order on the page. So, writing well has to be more than using the language in a clever manner. Writing well isn't about writing at all. As corny as it sounds, it's about living the words on the page as you write them. It is a wholly metaphysical event.


So, maybe that does explain why the Twilight books are so popular. Maybe it's because Stephenie Meyer didn't write them at all. She lived the words.


Do you find that you enjoy storytelling so much that you actually forget you are writing?


-Richard

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


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Write What You Want to Know

A Self-Published Author's Tough Choices, and Having the Freedom to Make Them

1,662 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, twilight, craft
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