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968 Posts tagged with the writing tag
6

Have you long dreamed of writing a book, but for one reason or another have yet to sit down and do it? Author Meg Nocero's story might inspire you. In her own words, here's how writing began as an outlet for surviving grief - and ended up changing her life.


In April of 2011, not only did I lose my mother to breast cancer, I also lost my way. To navigate the grieving process, I turned to writing as a healing tool. I started simply. I would wake in the morning and read from a book that resonated with me. When a quote or a passage spoke to me, I grabbed my journal and channeled at least three pages of longhand about what I felt my mother would want to communicate to me about it. One day led to the next, and this routine led me to complete my first book, a self-help guide called The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss. My intention is for the book to empower readers to step into the unknown and wake up to a universe packed with possibility, because that's exactly what happened to me as I wrote it. In addition to allowing me to feel connected to my mom, it helped me muster the courage to make a career change after twenty years as a federal prosecutor. I'm now an inspirational writer, speaker and coach, which I believe is my true calling in life. Even now I turn to my book daily for clarity and direction. It is my morning meditation, it is a place where I transform dreams into reality, and it is liberating and healing in a way like no other. It is where I wrote my way out of darkness to rediscover my inner light. It is what helped me transform into a beautiful butterfly.


If that's not a reason to sit down and start writing, I'm not sure what is. Thanks to Meg for sharing her story! To learn more about her, visit www.MegNocero.com.


-Maria


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Writing tip: disconnect!

What inspires you to write?

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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.

882 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, promotions, motivation
4

A character arc is the way a character changes or grows throughout the course of a story. The change can be physical or emotional, and it doesn't have to be major, but you want your main characters, especially your protagonist, to experience some sort of transformation along their journey.


At the beginning of your story, ask yourself the following questions about your main characters:


  • What do they want?
  • What are they missing?
  • What is holding them back from getting what/where they want/need to be?


The answers to these questions can be broad or specific. For example, here are what my main characters want in my novel Wait for the Rain, which is about three college friends who reunite on a tropical island to celebrate turning forty:


  • Daphne wants to find herself after a failed marriage.
  • Skylar wants to become a CEO.
  • KC wants to have more time with her stepson before he leaves for college.


You get to decide what your characters want, so keep those answers in mind as you write. Also know that your characters don't have to get what they want. Or maybe they do get what they want, then realize they don't want it after all. The important thing to remember is that if your characters behave throughout the story in a way that is consistently in pursuit of what they want, an arc for each of them will naturally develop. And the arc will feel genuine, not forced.


Character arcs are important because they give readers something to invest in. If readers reach the end of the story and think, "No one changed at all," they will sense that something is missing, which will also leave them feeling unfulfilled. Well-developed character arcs satisfy readers, and satisfied readers turn into fans!


-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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What's the worst thing your character can think about a situation?

Torture your characters

1,037 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_arcs
5

Refresher on IT'S/ITS

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2018

Are you confused by when to use IT'S and when to use ITS? If so, you have every right to be, because the correct way to use ITS goes against the general rule we're taught about apostrophes. Here's a refresher on the difference between IT'S and ITS:


We normally use an apostrophe when something belongs to someone or something - in other words, to indicate possession:


  • This diary belongs to Daphne.
  • This is Daphne's diary.


  • I like going to that movie theater because the seats there are super comfortable
  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.


However, when something belongs to IT, no apostrophe is needed:


  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.
  • I like going to that movie theater because ITS seats are super comfortable.


  • Daphne's diary has a green cover.
  • That's Daphne's diary, and ITS cover is green.


We also use apostrophes as a contraction for a noun plus the verb IS or HAS:


  • This seat is super comfortable.
  • This seat's super comfortable. (Seat + IS)


  • Gloria has seen that movie three times.
  • Gloria's seen that movie three times. (GLORIA + HAS)


Following the contraction rule for apostrophes, IT'S is used as a contraction for IT IS or IT HAS:


  • IT IS getting dark, so I really should go home.
  • IT'S getting dark, so I really should go home. (IT + IS)


  • Are you okay? IT HAS been weeks since I've heard from you.
  • Are you okay? IT'S been weeks since I've heard from you. (IT + HAS)


Do the above examples make sense? Essentially, ITS as the possessive form of IT is an exception to the rule regarding apostrophes, so it comes down to memorization to get it right.


-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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Two abbreviations that are easy to confuse

Are you making this common grammar mistake?

852 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, book, self-publishing, writing, grammar, tip, it's_vs_its
4

Writer's block is the worst. The worst! When it strikes and I find myself sitting at my desk, staring at nothing, I often feel like my white laptop screen is snickering at me and sending me horrible thoughts. You suck, Maria! Who are you to think you can be a writer? Why don't you just give up?


Is that how you feel when you get writer's block? If so, isn't it awful? I truly hate it.


A friend of mine is a creative director at an advertising agency, and we recently had a conversation about the brainstorming process, which we agreed is similar in many ways to the writing process. She told me that when she encounters a mental block, she finds it helpful to break her pattern.


For example:


  • Make yourself get up a half-hour early.
  • Go to your office via a new route, whether it's driving/bus/subway/walking.
  • Listen to a different radio station on your commute.
  • Buy your morning coffee somewhere new.
  • Go for a walk with your head on a swivel, and look for things you normally wouldn't notice.


My friend said it's human nature to fall into a routine, and that shaking things up even a little bit can help unlock that creative energy. I liked her suggestions and plan to try some of them the next time I find myself facing the dreaded BLANK screen of my laptop, willing my brain to come up with something, ANYTHING. Usually when I'm stuck I go for a run or to the gym, but those things are part of my regular routine, so perhaps my friend is on to something.


Do you have a proven strategy for dealing with writer's block? If so, please share in the comments so we can all learn from each other.


-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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Increase your productivity by wearing one hat at a time

What inspires you to write?

1,044 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, writer's_block
5

We all know how important word of mouth is for book sales, but how and why it happens is usually a mystery. As authors, what can we do to encourage word of mouth other than asking our fans to tell their friends? There's nothing wrong with that, but even our most diehard supporters might have no idea what to do in any concrete way, even though they might really want to help us.


For that reason, in addition to asking fans to spread the word, I suggest providing tools and links they can easily copy and paste - and share. For example, here are some you can offer through your website, email, social media, newsletters, etc. In these examples, the hyperlinks are for my books, but they will give you a sense of how helpful they can be:



Marketing doesn't come naturally to most people, but (almost) everyone knows how to copy and paste. The next time a fan tells you she enjoyed your book, thank her for her support, and then ask her to help spread the word...and offer some tools. You never know who might take up your cause, so it's worth trying. A few posts on social media can go a long way!


-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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Marketingtip: make it easy for people to pay you

Book marketingtip: Put a sample on Goodreads

1,128 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, book_sales
4

My first novel, Perfect on Paper, was originally self-published before it got picked up by Amazon Publishing, but I didn't let that stop me from getting it into brick-and-mortar stores. And I don't mean bookstores! Here's what I did:

 

  • I identified my main target audience as single, professional women.
  • I went to an art store and bought a handful of cute little bookstands.
  • I headed out on foot around the San Francisco neighborhoods where my book took place and looked for boutiques where single professional women might shop.
  • In each store I asked to speak with the owner.
  • If the owner wasn't there, I found out when she would be. I learned very quickly that in boutiques, the owner is usually the lone decision maker.
  • Once I was in front of the owner, I explained that I'd written a book set in her store's neighborhood, and that my readers were a lot like her store's customers.
  • I pulled out a copy of Perfect on Paper and a stand and asked if she'd like to sell the book on a commission basis.
  • I offered to give her a signed copy for herself.


My strategy worked! Within a few weeks my book was on display (and for sale!) in seven stores, each one perfectly suited to my target readership. All seven owners enjoyed my book and actively recommended it to their customers, which helped generate a little local buzz. I was also able to list those stores on a "where to buy the book" section of my website, which gave the novel a boost in street cred to anyone who checked out my website, e.g. book club moderators I contacted.


Where do your target readers shop? Have a think about it - then get out there and see if you can get your book on the shelves!


-Maria


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Marketing tip: Stay organized!

Book marketing tip: Put a sample on Goodreads

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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.

1,467 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, writing
3

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

818 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, words, grammar, homophones
1

 

Who or what you write for and when are crucial to a book's development. Writing a book is a process that follows three basic stages. Violate the order or skip any of the steps, and it could cost you readers. Here are the three stages as I see them:


Stage one:  Write for the story. Every word, every paragraph, every chapter goes from your head onto the page with one purpose in mind: advancing the story. Your job is to poke and prod at the edges of the plot you are chasing and develop your characters along the way. Allow yourself to be outrageous, offensive, and unhinged. If you hold back here, you may be missing out on a great twist or direction for you story. Just let go and the let the words fly.


Stage two: Rewrite for the reader. Time to tear your fictional world apart and make it palpable for the reader. I'm not saying to strip it of all controversy and ugliness. I'm saying make sure every element truly serves the story. If it does, keep it. If it doesn't, cut it, no matter how interesting and well-written it is. It has to go in order to keep the reader locked in and ready to turn the next page. This isn't about making your book politically correct. It's about making your book creatively sound.


Stage three: Edit for you. Nothing is worse for a writer than a poorly edited book. I know this from personal experience. I was young and in a hurry to get a book out there and sent it to market with glaring typos and worse. It was not a confidence booster when I read the early reviews and realized what I had done. A well-edited book is an author's best friend.


-Richard

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


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Word by Word

Re-readable books

905 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, book_development
1

The questions

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 24, 2018

 

Really bad writers tell readers how great their characters are. Writing is about showing your readers how great your characters are, and the quality of your characters hinge on one thing. This one thing is actually an innate skill that successful writers possess. In a lot of books, authors construct a story based on this one thing.

 

This one thing is really a series of things, but it is the same concept repeated over and over again. The quality of your characters depends on the questions they have to face. If you're writing a mystery novel, it's chock full of questions. How your characters deal with these questions is the linchpin to their development.


And it's not just mysteries. Every genre of fiction is nothing more than a series of questions your characters face from page to page and chapter to chapter. Your readers learn about what your characters are really made of as each question is explored. The conflicts that drive plot provide your characters with the big questions, but smaller questions arise from the journey dealing with these conflicts.


These questions don't just exist in fiction. We all face unspoken questions every day of our lives, some small, some big, and the way we deal with these questions reveal our character. The stories we write simply mirror reality, most likely on a much grander scale and with much bigger stakes, but the concept is essentially the same.


If you want to write better, more engaging characters, pay attention to the questions you face in a day or week, and then put your characters in your shoes. Where would they diverge from your decision making? Where would they make the same decisions? What does that show you about their character?


-Richard


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

 

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Torture your characters

 

What would your characters do?

 

 

 

 

811 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, self-publishing, writing, characters, fiction, plot
4

Yesterday I had coffee with an old friend who wanted to ask my advice about a writing project. He said he'd been working on it for a couple years, so I figured it was a book and he was looking for guidance on how to go about getting it published.


I was mistaken.


My friend is a soccer coach and has some strong opinions on what's wrong with soccer in the United States. It turns out that his writing project is an essay about how to fix it. (For those of you who aren't soccer fans, the USA didn't qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Boooooo.)


Back to the story: given that my friend said he'd been working on his essay for two years, writing and writing and editing and editing, I balked when he asked if he could send it to me for feedback, thinking it was probably at least fifty pages long.


But again, I was wrong.


What I'd imagined to be a full-fledged manifesto was a grand total of one-and-a-half pages. That's it! His goal was to submit it as an op-ed piece to a local newspaper. That's his dream: submitting a one-and-a-half page op-ed piece to a newspaper. He has no aspirations of writing a novel or of ever getting paid to write anything. He admits that he's not very good, is way too wordy and needs a lot of help with grammar, but he doesn't care about any of those things, because he just loves to write.


Good for him!


After I left the coffee house, I kept thinking about what it means to "be a writer," or "set a goal," and how arbitrary and personal those definitions are. Have you set any writing goals for 2018? If so, 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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New Year's resolution: get writing!

Three writing tips for aspiring authors

 

906 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, setting_goals, new_year's_resolutions
3

Recently, I was driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with my family, and we passed a Maserati... Excuse me, a Maserati passed us. My sister asked no one in particular how much a car like that costs. I responded, "I don't know. The only thing I know about it is that it will go 185 mph." She was skeptical. "How could you possibly know that?" That's when I repeated the lyrics to Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good."

 

My Maserati does one-eighty-five.

I lost my license, now I don't drive.

 

That led to a spontaneous group singalong of misquoted lyrics and ended with "Life's been good to me, so far!"


It occurred to me shortly after that, Joe Walsh didn't just write a great song. He wrote a darn good story. In fact, there are several good stories contained within the song. For example, the lyrics above tell you everything you need to know about what transpired without context. He drove his car recklessly. He got caught by the authorities. He lost his license and is unable to drive. Is there more to the story? Yes. Do we need to know the details to be entertained by the story? No.


The lesson here is that good writing is as much about what you don't say as it is about what you do say. The key is to construct the story in a way that doesn't need context. Driving 185 mph is dangerous and illegal. It's not a huge leap to assume that is why Walsh lost his license.


Don't spell things out for your readers. Sometimes it's their job to do that themselves.


-Richard

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


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Show them where to look

Don't insult your readers

835 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, writing, storytelling
2

In the past, I've read a lot of books and material on the craft of writing. Mostly, I focus on fiction, but I've always been an admirer of well-crafted nonfiction, as well. Recently, I changed my focus a bit and started looking into the art of storytelling. I've come to find out that it is a fascinating world that blends fictional style with true events. A novelist can actually learn a lot from storytellers.


I should clarify. I'm talking about oral storytelling. If you've never heard a night of storytelling, I strongly urge you to find a venue that features storytellers and plant yourself in the audience. It is both fun and educational. There are public radio shows devoted to the art form as well. Type "The Moth" in your favorite search engine, and you will get back results related to a community of storytellers.


Here's what I've noticed as I've become a fan of the platform. Storytelling is about living and observing. These folks didn't sit at a desk and invent a story out of whole cloth. They went out and lived normal, sometimes extraordinary lives and they observed. They took note of the events that were shaping them. Most of the stories they tell are universal. A lot are "there but for the grace of God go I" type of stories. And a very small number are outlandish and uniquely unusual.


The lesson here for novelists like me is that by making events in our fictional tales universal we have the ability to reach a broader range of readers. I submit this can be true even in genres like science fiction and fantasy. Pay attention to the events that shape you and find a way to incorporate them into your fiction. If not the actual event, the spirit of the event. When you do, you will discover that you reach a wider range of readers on a much deeper level.


-Richard

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


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Writing using science

What do you smell?

690 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, storytelling
3

If I had to name one grammatical error I hear more than any other, I would choose the misuse of the pronoun I instead of ME.


Here's a refresher on the difference between the two:


I is a subject pronoun, which means it's used when you are a subject in a sentence- in other words, when you are doing something.


  • I am sitting at my desk.


ME is an object pronoun, which means it's used when you are an object in a sentence - in other words, when something is being done to you, for you, with you, etc.


  • Gloria mailed me a letter.


The above examples are straightforward and simple. It's when multiple objects are involved that people run into trouble.


For example, which of the following do you think is correct?


A) Gloria took a photo of David and me.

B) Gloria took a photo of David and I.


A) This isn't a good time for Gloria and me to visit.

B) This isn't a good time for Gloria and I to visit.


A) If you need an answer, you can call Gloria or me.

B) If you need an answer, you can call Gloria or I.


In each of the above, A is correct. If that isn't obvious to you, remove the extra object in each sentence, and the answer should jump right out.


A) Gloria took a great photo of me.

B) Gloria took a great photo of I.


A) This isn't a good time for me to visit.

B) This isn't a good time for I to visit.


A) If you need an answer, you can call me.

B) If you need an answer, you can call I.


See how clear it becomes? Try that trick the next time you're not sure!


-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

Are you making this common grammar mistake?

769 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip
2

The bad guy formula

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 15, 2018

 

I'm going to break an unwritten rule today and talk about a television/streaming show instead of a novel, but I'm doing it for a very good reason. This particular show, I believe, has one of the best bad guys I've ever encountered in any medium. Novelists could learn a lot by the way the creators of Godless have crafted the character of Frank Griffin as played by Jeff Daniels.


I won't give away any spoilers, but I will share with you why I think Frank Griffin is such a compelling and mesmerizing bad guy.


1. He's charismatic. Granted, his charms mostly only work on bloodthirsty outlaws, but they follow him faithfully because he shows them a kind of twisted, fatherly love. They look up to him, and that gives him a presence that outshines everyone else.


2. He knows how to show kindness. Don't misunderstand me. He's not a kind man, but he can show kindness to strangers that makes you think there's something redeeming about him.


3. He's unpredictable. You don't know what will set him off, and that keeps you on your toes with Frank Griffin. He doesn't dole out outrage equally.


4. He is ruthless. When something sets him off, he doesn't react with just rage. He reacts with an intent to destroy. He doesn't care who gets hurt.


5. He is fearless. He is convinced that nothing can kill him and that makes him even more dangerous.


As you write your next bad guy, you would do well to remember these five traits of Frank Griffin.


-Richard

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


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A messy character stew

The ordinary protagonist

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

There is one element above all others that will establish your author brand and help it stand the test of time. It is something that takes time to take hold. It isn't a strategy. It is the foundation of your brand. This one thing is trust. Readers become members of your community because they trust your talent. That trust leads to them tracking your social media activity. This is where you need to establish a new kind of trust to keep them interested and to motivate them to share your content so you can grow your community and find new readers who will discover your books when they trust the quality of the social media content you create. Think of it as an infinite loop of trust that grows with the more content you share.


And this is where you're going to groan in derision. Because, like it or not, the best and quickest way to establish this kind of trust in your content is to use personal videos. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to purchase when a product is supported by video content, particularly when a face (a person) is featured in the video. A viewer feels a connection and trust is established at an accelerated rate.


So, if you want to take the shortest journey possible to establish trust, literally use your face on video. Make it your best face. Practice before you go in front of the camera. Even if you're practicing being spontaneous in front of the camera. Make sure your video is well lit and your audio is crystal clear. Create the key element that will make your author brand rock solid, trust. 


-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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Brandingvs. marketing

You are the brand not your book

573 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, trust, author_branding
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