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578 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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In a previous post I encouraged authors to let me know what marketing efforts had worked for them. Joni M. Fisher got in touch to tell me she had recently completed a successful Goodreads giveaway but wished she had done a couple things differently. I thought my readers would be interested to learn from her experience, so I asked if we could do a Q&A, and she graciously agreed. Her book is called South of Justice, which she describes as "suspense with elements of romance."


Maria: How many Amazon reviews did you have before the promotion?

Joni: None, because I ran my promotion leading up to my book's release date on May 15, 2016.


Maria: How long did it last?

Joni: April 24 to May 15. I wish I had run it a full month, but I was still finding my way around Goodreads, and Amazon, and all the other places to list a book.


Maria: How many books did you offer?

Joni: 25 trade paperback copies. I noticed that many other authors offer only five or 10 books. As a first-time author, I wanted people to discover my book. My reasoning for giving away more books was that readers would consider their odds better, so they'd click to join the giveaway. They risk nothing to try the unknown author's work.


Maria: How many people signed up?

Joni: 845. Many of them automatically added my book to their To-Read list, which tells all their friends that they are interested in the book.


Maria: How many wrote reviews?

Joni: 19 as far that I can tell. According to the Giveaways Best Practices on Goodreads, winners are not required to write a review, but the site does encourage them to.


Maria: What would you do differently next time?

Joni: In the future, instead of doing a giveaway with 25 or 50 books, I would run multiple giveaways with fewer copies of the book. This keeps the title on the giveaways feed longer.


Maria: Final thoughts?

Joni: I'm glad I did the Goodreads Giveaway for South of Justice. I gained exposure for the book, gained wonderful reviews, and received my first ever fan mail. One of the winners sent me a card thanking me for the book and also gave a lovely review. I'm saving the card. During the long days of writing and editing, that card reminds me that someone appreciates my efforts.


Many thanks to Joni for sharing the details of her campaign. If you have a marketing success story for me, please get in touch!


-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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Promote your book with Goodreads

Marketing tip: always carry a book with you

 

 

 

 

882 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, goodreads, promotions, giveaway
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You shouldn't just be in a writers' group. You should run one, or co-run one, at the very least. Here are five tips to running a writers' group:


  1. Introduction: At the opening, introduce yourself and invite attendees to do the same one at a time. Acknowledge the space and the party responsible for letting you use it. Go over any "house rules," and then get into the rules pertaining to the readings.
  2. Focus on the Reader: If at all possible, don't let the author read his or her own material. They need to hear the pages. The reader should be the focal point of the room. If you have a stage, all the better. Place them on it and give them the go ahead to start when they're ready.
  3. Focus on the Author: Once the reader is done, the author now becomes the focal point in the room. Again, if you have a stage, he or she will now take it. Ask the author what kind of feedback they would like to hear. Encourage the author not to respond unless specifically asked to respond. Your goal is to make sure the author doesn't start defending his or her material.
  4. Criticism: Keep the criticism on track. If someone veers off into territory that you don't feel is appropriate, politely cut them off and move onto the next question or dismiss the author.
  5. Closing: When the night is done, thank everyone for their participation, and make sure you have everyone's email address so you can send out reminders for the next scheduled reading.


A writers' group can be much more than a number of artists sharing their passion. It can be a group of friends supporting one another's craft.


-Richard


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


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Form an author co-op

Why novelists should join a playwrights' group

878 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_groups
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Every author has a different way of getting to the finish line, but is there a best way? Expert Anne Janzer, who wrote a book called The Writer's Process, says the path to publication includes researching, thinking deeply, outlining/structuring, drafting, revising, and editing. I asked her for her top three process-related tips for aspiring authors, and here's what she came back with:


1.    Divide and conquer

Some phases of the process require focused attention, while others call on the associative, subconscious parts of your mind. Understand what you need and when you need it. You might love drafting while sitting in a coffee shop but need total isolation for revision. Knowing the phases of the process, you can match the work to your mood and environment.


2.    Schedule breaks to incubate the work

Focused attention can block creative inspiration. Add activities that do not require focus to your writing day. Many writers go outdoors, play piano, or do something physical as part of their schedules. This gives other parts of the brain a chance to contribute. You may be more productive when you next sit down to write.


3.    Trust the process

Process is invaluable when you're working on a book. During the long haul, you may doubt your ability to finish the project. But you only need to summon the courage to take the next step in the process. The path forward is clear, and you can keep going.


As for my own advice to aspiring authors, I love the way Anne states it on page 19 of her book: "If you are all inspiration and creativity with no discipline and focus, then your wonderful ideas never make their way from the brain to the world." In other words, just sit down and write. That's really all it comes down to.


Many thanks to Anne for her insight! You can find more tips from her at annejanzer.com.


-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: Just Keep Going

1,567 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_tips, the_writer's_process
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I like uncertainty--not in life, but in fiction. Think about it. There is pleasure in not knowing, in being surprised, in being shocked even when reading a novel. Unexpected moments can make an otherwise adequate story a truly memorable and great story.


Most writers understand this aspect of storytelling. They know to shake things up and try to give the reader something they didn't see coming. They know this until it comes to the ending. I see too many authors try to give an ending that closes all the loopholes, answers all the lingering questions, and satisfies the readers' expectations. Some endings read like summaries for the entire novel, and that is a major misstep.


Uncertainty, that element that kept your readers riveted and turning the page, is also an element that can make for a perfect ending. The readers don't have to close the book with all the answers. In fact, I would make the argument that a book that ends with questions is a better option. Readers are left to entertain their own possible conclusions based on what they know from your story. They become participants, not just readers.


Don't get caught up in putting too fine a point on the ending of your book. Trust your readers' ability to think their way through the unknowns and find an ending on their own. It's a risk, yes, but I think you'll discover more discussion surrounding your story when you choose to end it with uncertainty.


-Richard


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


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A Satisfactory Ending

When Do You Know The Ending?

665 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, ending, uncertainty, fiction_writing
7

Do you spend hours tinkering with a single paragraph to get it just right? I used to do that too. When you're not sure what to write next, do you go back and polish what you've already written? Same here. When I was writing my first novel, Perfect on Paper, I spent a lot of time tweaking every little thing. In fact, some days I wouldn't write anything new because I'd spend all my time (and mental energy!) improving what was already there.


For a long while I thought this "always editing" approach was a productive use of my creative spirit. I finally realized it was the opposite of productive, that in fact, it was a crutch that I was using to avoid doing the hardest part of writing a novel, which is pushing the story forward.


In my opinion, coming up with an idea that is interesting enough for an entire book is the hardest part of being an author. (And on a more granular level, deciding what will happen chapter by chapter.) Once I determine what a scene is going to be, writing it is easy. I now realize that I can––and will––go back and tweak later, after I've finished the first draft.


Because of all the editing I did along the way, it took me 18 months to finish the first draft of Perfect on Paper, and I still ended up doing a ton of editing after the fact.


Since then I've written seven more novels––and none of the first drafts took me more than four months to write. It's always tempting to go back and edit, especially when I'm having trouble thinking of what to write next, but I force myself to stay focused and press the story forward. Write now, edit later. The sooner you learn to do that, the sooner you'll have a completed first draft!


-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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Save the Wordsmithing for Later

Writing Tip: Just Keep Going

6,814 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, editing, author, writing, rewriting
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I'm not a huge best-selling author. I don't appear on morning talk shows. I don't own yachts, sports cars, or multiple homes. I'm just a regular guy who writes and publishes books. I sell enough to put a smile on my face and encourage me to keep writing and publishing.


I say all that to say this: there is a very successful author out there who has acquired incredible wealth through his writing. So, he's hit a sweet spot I haven't yet found. He knows the marketing end of the business better than anyone, and yet, I'm not wild about a trend he's trying to start. He's writing and publishing short books that, in his words, don't include the boring parts.


I like the boring parts. Stories have a rhythm, a beat, if you will. That rhythm, in my opinion, needs the boring parts to balance out the action. Stories have to have room to breathe. They need spots where you develop character in quiet moments. These quiet moments reflect reality. Realism draws readers in and allows them to make connections with characters. These connections create avid readers who become totally engrossed in a story. It seems to me that a book without the boring parts creates casual readers who don't experience any sacred moments in the reading of such a book.


Embrace the boring parts. Allow yourself the room to draw your readers in. Buck the trend. Take the risk. Your readers will love you and your book for it.


-Richard


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


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The Boring Parts of a Novel

Exposition or Extraneous?

911 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, story_development
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By far the most common complaint I hear from indie authors is, "I have no clue about marketing!" A close second is, "I have no money to spend on marketing!"


Here are two things you can do that won't cost you more than time and effort:


1.    Reach out to book clubs and offer to attend their meetings (or call in) if they select your book


A great way to find book clubs is to create a free account on meetup.com. Using keywords, you can search for appropriate groups either near where you live or across the country. Each group has a "contact the organizer" button, so get in touch! Every book club I've attended has been thrilled for the chance to meet a real live author. (While your humble self may think it's not a big deal that you wrote a book, for most readers it is a big deal!)


2.    Look up alumni chapters of your alma mater and ask to be featured in their newsletters


To find local chapters, go to the national alumni page of your college or university--you'd be amazed at how many there are, even for tiny schools. Many of those groups have a monthly or quarterly electronic newsletter and are thirsty for interesting content about fellow alums. (This is another reason why having a brief and compelling description, cover art, and a professional headshot are so important. And if you have a website they can link to, even better!)


Note: Many college alumni chapters also have a book club, so be sure to ask if they do. Your book may not be a fit for the makeup of the group, but you never know.


For the above campaigns I strongly recommend tracking your efforts on a spreadsheet. If the only record of your outreach is the outbox of your email program, following up is going to be difficult. Now start 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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Three grassroots marketing tips to put in place today

How to throw a book launch party for free

1,312 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, book_promotion, newsletter, book_clubs
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Writing a novel comes easier to me when I know the title of the book I'm writing. I can't explain it, but once I have the title ensconced in the creative centers of my brain, I tend to find the "zone" effortlessly. When a title hasn't taken root yet, I'm more prone to meander and get distracted, making for a far from satisfying writing session.


For me, the title reflects the tone of the book, and for me, tone is a big part of finding comfort with a story. It establishes the emotional baseline of the book, and that is key for developing character and defining the rhythm of a story.


Jaws by Peter Benchley is a perfect example of how a title reflects the tone of a novel. You know by the title that fear is the emotional baseline of the story. The word "jaws' alone is enough to inform the reader that something sinister may be afoot. You don't need to see the cover. You don't even need to know that the book is about a giant shark. The title hints at a terror-infused story.


Now, I have no idea if Benchley came up with the title first or if it came at some other point during the writing process, but based on my experience as a writer, as soon as the title is chosen, it influences the writing choices thereafter. Whether it's the first draft or rewrites. I would be surprised if the title Jaws didn't affect the tone of Benchley's book once it was established.


What is your process? Does the title come before you write, or does it come after you start writing?


-Richard


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


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Can your book title affect the way you write?

What is the tone of your novel?

932 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, novel, writing, title
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The following words are super easy to confuse with each other, so here's a quick explanation of the difference:


Complement/Compliment, Complementary/Complimentary


To complement (verb)is to complete or make whole

  • That necklace really complements your outfit


A complement (noun) is something that completes or makes whole

  • That necklace is a great complement to your outfit


To be complementary (adjective)is to go well with something, to serve to complete

  • That necklace is complementary to your outfit


To compliment (verb) is to offer flattery

  • Thanks so much for complimenting me on my outfit


A compliment (noun) is a flattering comment

  • Your compliment about my outfit made me feel good


To be complimentary (adjective)isto be free of charge orto be expressing praise

  • An open bar means the drinks are complimentary
  • He loved your book and wrote a complimentary review


Elicit/Illicit


To elicit (verb) is to bring out

  • I hope my new book elicits both tears and laughter from my readers


To be illicit (adjective) is to be unlawful or not morally acceptable

  • She could no longer trust her fiancé after she found out he had repeatedly engaged in illicit activity, so she called off their wedding


Forward/Foreword


Forward (adjective) is to be near or at the front of something, or to be somewhat brash

  • First class baggage always goes in the forward overhead bins
  • Some may say she's a bit forward for their taste, but I love how she always speaks her mind


A foreword (noun) is a message at the beginning of a book that is written by someone other than the author

  • I was thrilled when my good friend Gloria offered to write the foreword to my new book about grammar


Which words do you find easy to get mixed up? Please let me know 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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Are you mixing up these words?

More Grammar Pet Peeves!

865 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, word_choice, mix-up
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The plot

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 10, 2016

"What if?" That is the question that you asked yourself before you started writing your novel. You may not have even realized it. The question is innate. It is tattooed on the creative psyche of every writer who's ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.


Your "what if" question is the main plot of your novel. It is the reason for your novel. You will add backstories and subplots along the way, but what your book is about is in the "what if" question that lit your creative fire and sent you on your novel writing journey.


How you answer the question relies completely on your writing style and author voice. Recently, I just finished writing a novel that was structured around the following "what if" question:


What if a small town deputy accidently uncovered a human trafficking ring in the mountains of East Tennessee?


You can see that the plot is clearly defined. The genre is apparent, and you even get an idea of tone and setting. All that was left for me to do was to add supporting characters, action, and resolution. OK, so that's still a lot of writing, but the writing process was fairly painless because I knew the central theme of the book from the first word I committed to the page. I also knew the genre, and knowing the setting gave me a lot of room to play around with colorful characters who would do my bidding.


My advice is to identify your "what if" question early on in your writing process. It will make you more confident as a storyteller and help you develop a rich, engaging novel.


-Richard


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


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The Importance of Plot Points

The Plot Plight

772 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, plot, what_if
1

Last Saturday I met up with a friend to visit a store I wanted to describe for a scene in the novel I'm currently writing. It was dreadfully hot that day, so after I'd finished my research we made a beeline for a quiet (and air conditioned!) pub on a random side street in Manhattan. As soon we'd ordered our drinks I looked around and thought to myself, This would be a great spot to have a book launch party. I didn't even know what the place was called, and it would be months and months before I had a new book coming out, but I just had a feeling about it. When I mentioned the idea to my friend she told me she'd been there several times for going-away parties, and that the owners didn't charge a fee for use of the back area.


Perfect!


I approached the bar and asked for a card. The bartender didn't have one, but he handed me a matchbook, which I tucked into my purse for safekeeping.


Many first-time authors think launch parties have to cost a lot of money, but that hasn't been the case for me. All I do is find a bar like the one I mentioned above and ask the owner/manager if it would be cool to bring in a bunch of people who will buy drinks (and hopefully books) while I sign books at a table in a corner. If the answer is yes, I'm good to go! It really is that simple. Of course it takes effort to get people to attend, but that's my time I'm spending, not my money. (In my experience, the most successful book marketing strategies take more time than money.) So keep your eyes open the next time you head out for a drink. You never know when you might stumble across the perfect location for your book launch party!


-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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How To Throw A Book Launch Party For Free

Book Parties Don't Have to Cost Money

597 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, book_launch_party
2

Earlier this year I did something I never thought I'd do: I pulled the plug on a novel I'd been working on for more than a year. It was sad and painful and caused me a great deal of stress to make that decision, but you know what? I should have done it a lot earlier for two reasons:


1.    It wasn't an interesting story


If I've learned anything about writing novels, it's that you have to have an interesting story to tell. In my case I'd just finished a previous novel and put too much pressure on myself to begin a new one too fast. I did this because my books pay my bills, so if I'm not writing I feel incredibly guilty and stressed out. Instead of stepping back and taking time to come up with a solid idea, I started writing with only a half-baked plot that wasn't compelling, and then I dug myself into a hole and kept digging and digging.


2.    Writing it wasn't making me happy


Normally I enjoy the writing process, but in this case it was making me miserable. I would spend most of the day procrastinating before sitting down and forcing myself to hit my word count (1000), and even then I would find myself adding adjectives to beef it up. More than once my mother commented on how I'd clearly lost my love for writing, which she found alarming. But I didn't listen to her because I thought I could get through it and turn my uninteresting story into something worthy of publishing. I was wrong.


After I (finally) pulled the plug on the novel, within two months a new idea came to me. And it was a good idea. I ran it by my editor, and she agreed. So I sat down and started to write, and last week I finished the first draft, less than three months after I began. Now I have 1) an interesting story that 2) made me happy while writing it. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to get here. Please learn from my mistake!


-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: don't be afraid to cut

 

When to walk away from a story

 

8,415 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_process
0

Each time I go through the process of writing a book, I find that ideas of things to include frequently pop into my head but not always at the right time. For example, I'll be out to dinner with a friend, and she will say something funny that I might like to use in my story at some point. Whenever that happens I whip out my phone and send myself a text message, then later add the item in question to a document that is literally called "To include at some point."


Over time both my first draft and the list of potential additions grow, and now and again I look through the additions document to see if there is a logical place for any of them in the latest version of the story. I write contemporary fiction/romantic comedy. Here are some examples of the additions I've jotted down over the years, all of which made it into one of my novels:


*Guy shows up on first date wearing one of those tuxedo T-shirts

*Something how the "dang humidity" ruined her blowout the second she left the salon

*Have Daphne toss a rock into the ocean at the end

*Make sure she mentions that she's a late bloomer

*At some point have them do something with heights so Daphne can conquer her fear

*Sprinkle in highbrow vocabulary words for Daphne


When the first draft is complete, I give the document one more look to make sure I've used all the items I feel will complement my story. For those remaining, there is always the next book! I also find that consulting the list is helpful during those dreaded bouts of writer's block. Sometimes it just takes one fresh idea to rekindle the creative spark.


-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: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

Writing Tip: Keep the Story Moving Forward

960 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writer's_block, creative_spark
1

The imperfect writer

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 19, 2016

One of my literary idols, Erskine Caldwell, was a deeply flawed writer. He cared almost nothing about plot. He focused all his efforts on developing characters, and his characters aren't particularly likable. They are fascinating, to be sure, but they rarely have any redeeming qualities. I know all this, yet, as I stated previously, Caldwell is one of my idols. In fact, I count one of his books as my absolute favorite.


So, how is it that an author who is weak at plotting a novel, a crucial element of storytelling, is one of my favorite writers? I simply connect with his quirky characters. The messy, ill-defined plot doesn't really bother me because I'm so engrossed by his multidimensional characters.


I'm faced with the knowledge that one of my literary heroes isn't a perfect writer. It didn't hold him back. He was highly successful in his day. I would even go so far as to say that he was so successful because he wasn't perfect. He had a passion for writing stories that featured colorful characters. That passion is evident in the final result.


Chances are you are not a perfect writer either. There is no shame in that. It's OK to not master every element of story. Every writer has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths exist because they are rooted in your passion. Don't drive yourself crazy honing and fine-tuning a novel to try and make it perfect. Do rewrites, of course. Carefully edit your manuscript, of course, but don't let elemental imperfections prevent you from publishing. Embrace your strengths, and publish with passion.


-Richard


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


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Taking a Character from Good to Bad

The Importance of Plot Points

937 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, imperfections
2

An individual who moderates a writer's group I belong to has one primary criticism or concern when he provides feedback on material. We meet once a month, and for the seven pieces that are read during our meetings, he will ask every writer to consider this particular element of story. He'll even insist that it is the foundation of every story worth telling. You are first baffled by his question because you think the answer is obvious. By the time you've heard the question from him three or four times, you become frustrated because you feel like he's just asking the question for the sake of asking it. Then a funny thing happens when you sit down to rewrite your piece or write something new; his question is all you can hear as you write. Without even realizing it, he's turned you into a more conscientious storyteller.


What is this puzzling, annoying, crucial question?


     What makes today different from any other day?


That's it. There's nothing more to his inquiry. He won't even allow you to answer the question. If you attempt to do so, he usually replies that he doesn't need to know the answer. He simply wants you, the author, to know the answer. What event or feeling or interaction for a particular character is different from any other day? You'd think that's a simple question to answer and sometimes it is, but there are a surprising number of times when it is difficult to answer. Examining the question forces you to justify the existence of an element of your story. It's an extremely powerful storytelling tool.


Pick a chapter from the book you are writing, and as you read it, ask yourself, "What makes today different from any other day?" If you have trouble answering the question concisely, you more than likely need to do a rewrite.


-Richard


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


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Split Personalities of Indie Authors

The Perils of Rewriting

722 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, rewriting
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