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777 Posts tagged with the writing tag
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Sensitive Topics

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 30, 2014

Sensitive topics: they are so hard to avoid when you're telling a story. I recently got into an online discussion about including sensitive and offensive material in a story. One author was so fed up with a particularly ugly topic they vowed never to read another book that contained a mention of it. Even more extreme, the author stated in no uncertain terms that they would encourage others not to read a book with the objectionable material.

 

I expressed my dismay at this attitude for a number of reasons, but the biggest issue I had with it is it has the effect of setting limits on what authors should write about. It's like asking painters to remove a certain color from their palette because not everybody likes it. It just shouldn't be done. The uncomfortable shouldn't be removed from a storyline in an attempt not to offend readers. One of our sacred responsibilities as authors is to go where the story must go no matter how dark that place may be. It's really the only way to write with an authentic voice.

 

A talented storyteller understands this responsibility, and he or she brings the power of context to sensitive topics, a power that adds substance and social significance to subject matters that by themselves could be deemed as offensive.

 

The pushback on my stance is that there's no reason to perpetuate and discuss certain types of offensive material, because it is so obviously offensive. I agree; some things are so horrible and ugly that you'd be hard-pressed to find any decent human being who would be proud to be associated with such material. But by putting even that type of material off limits, you are setting boundaries not to be crossed, and once it's been established that certain boundaries are acceptable, more will be set in an effort to make books even less offensive.

 

Everyone should follow their own paths as writers. Say what must be said without giving a thought to the riches or consequences. Ultimately, you will be judge of the context of what you write, even if it's a sensitive topic.

 

-Richard

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

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Should You Be Loyal to Your Characters or Your Readers?

Embracing Your Offensive Side

2,591 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, sensitive_topics
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Book Marketing Advice for Self-Publishers [Infographic] - The Independent Publishing Magazine

Advice for indie authors from around the web in one handy infographic.

                           

How Authors Support Their Writing Dreams - The Book Deal

Tips on how to find your write-work balance.    

 

Film

                                                        

Can Film Scripts Help People Understand Anxiety? - The Guardian

Has the constant theme of high anxiety in films helped society come up with more effective treatments for anxiety?    

                                          

Tip of the Day: The Critical Importance of Post Audio - Noam Kroll

Post Audio is so important yet so overlooked and underappreciated.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

3 Tips for Recording Group Vocals with a Single Microphone - The Audio-Technica Blog

Recording group vocalists separately can result in an unnatural sound.

 

Songs and Stories: Bev Barnett's Social Media Balancing Act - Michael Gaither.com

Bev Barnett is an experienced singer, songwriter, and PR person. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- June 20, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- June 13, 2014

2,108 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: music, filmmaking, movies, writing, book_marketing, recording, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, scripts, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, vocals, post_audio, marketing_advice
1

In last week's post, I explained when to use the pronouns "I" vs. "me." Today, I'd like to discuss when to use the pronoun "myself," which I've been hearing used incorrectly quite a bit.

 

Here are some common examples of how I hear "myself" used:

 

WHAT THEY SAY:

 

  • He met with George and myself (INCORRECT)
  • George, Harry and myself went to the movies (INCORRECT)
  • You can give the form to Susan or myself (INCORRECT)

 

WHAT THEY SHOULD SAY:

 

  • He met with George and me (CORRECT)
  • George, Harry and I went to the movies (CORRECT)
  • You can give the form to Susan or me (CORRECT)

 

The only time you should use "myself" is in the reflexive sense, which means you're both the subject and the object of a sentence or are referring to yourself. For example:

 

  • I gave myself a pat on the back
  • I went on vacation by myself
  • I knew that if I wanted it done right, I had to do it myself
  • I took a picture of myself
  • I introduced myself to the group

 

The same goes for "yourself," "herself," "themselves," etc.

 

My belief is that people use "myself" incorrectly because they think it sounds fancy, and they associate fancy with correct. But don't be fooled! I know this is tricky stuff; just try to remember that "myself" is NOT a substitute for "I." If you stick to that and keep it simple, you will get it right...all by yourself.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Just Say No to Random Capitalization!

Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

2,636 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar
5

There are challenges when writing multiple books, especially when the books aren't part of a series or related in any way. You have to wipe the slate clean - clear the storyboard and imagine a whole new fictional world.

 

It is particularly difficult when you decide to examine things from a different vantage point. Switching from first-person perspective to third-person or vice versa can be downright taxing to the frontal cortex. It takes more than a different approach to writing; it takes a different state of mind.

 

The best way I have found to make this 180-degree creative turn is actually a very simple solution. It's something I can correct in the course of an evening. The answer sits on my bookshelves, both real and virtual. It is reading a book written in the perspective in which I want to write. Once I show my mind's eye how other writers have done it, a fog is lifted. The mystery of writing in a different point of view is solved in a creative instant.

 

Now, somewhat of a different challenge occurs when I'm writing two books at once, each written from a different point of view. That has happened quite a few times over the years, and the only way I've been able to keep the perspective straight is to set up a schedule where I devote two to three days to writing the book in the first person, and then switch to the third-person book for a few days. The first day in both instances can be a little frustrating because I will find myself writing in the wrong perspective.

 

What about you? How do you switch perspectives from one project to the next? Do you find it difficult?

 

-Richard

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

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Too Many Characters in the Kitchen

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

3,521 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, switching_perspectives
1

All About the Setting

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 18, 2014

Setting is not where your story takes place. I should say it's not only where your story takes place. I am sometimes shocked when even seasoned authors get the meaning of setting wrong. If you ask them their story's setting, they'll reply with a description that is more accurately applied to location. They may respond with "It's in the South," or "It takes place in the woods," or "It's on a farm." These are elements of setting, but they aren't the entire setting.

 

Setting is the condition of the barn. It's the twang in the local barber's voice. It's the thick canopy of the woods that allows for only slivers of light to seep through to the heavily rooted forest floor. Setting is that thing that anchors itself into readers' imaginations and helps them sink into the story. It's your background characters. It's the smells, the colors, and the weather. It's all those details that by themselves amount to nothing more than interesting factoids, but collectively they add compelling depth to your novel. 

 

How you approach setting is as crucial as how you approach character and dialogue, yet it is the forgotten building block of storytelling. If you ask 10 writers what their strong suit is, invariably they will say either creating three-dimensional characters or writing believable dialogue. Not one of them would say they are really good at crafting a fully realized setting that draws the reader in. And it's most likely not because they are lacking in that particular talent; it's simply because they may not consider it important enough to highlight.

 

It is. Setting is the soul of your story. If it's something you do well, proclaim it. It matters. If it's something you don't do well, improve upon it, and it will take your writing to the next level.

 

-Richard

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

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Improving Dialogue                                    

Show Them Where to Look

6,328 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writers, writing, description, story, plot, craft, storyline, author_tips
0

Go Big

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 16, 2014

I was at a baseball game a few weeks ago, and I met a woman who was acting as a publicist for an author in my area. They were old friends, and she has a background in event planning, so she volunteered to help the author organize a book launch. I was lucky enough to score an invite.

 

And this isn't just any launch. The launch will be catered and will be held in an old movie theater that's used as a venue for various parties, receptions, and festivals. In other words, they are going BIG with this launch. 

 

This is a debut author going the indie route. And I have to tell you, when I first heard the plans, I cringed a little bit. My own fears of failure tainted my opinion. What if no one shows up? What if everyone shows up, but no one cares? What if the media doesn't cover the event? What if, what if, what if. When I stepped away from the conversation and let the idea twirl around in my head, I let go of my expectations, and I actually got excited for the author.

 

You know what? Good for her. She's celebrating the announcement of her debut novel with all the fanfare that was once commonplace in publishing. She's surrounding the event with pomp and circumstance, and it's bound to give all those in attendance the feeling that they are participating in something special; a feeling that will send them to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram uploading photos of their night out celebrating a book launch. It has the potential to become somewhat of a sensation, more so than if the author just sent out a tweet about her new book.

 

Suddenly, I find myself of big fan of going big with a book launch. How about you? Do you have a book launch strategy that you would like to share?

 

-Richard

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

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How To Throw A Book Launch Party For Free

The Book Relaunch

 

2,229 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, book_launch
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Jog Your Memory: The Effects of Exercise on the Brain - Michael Hyatt

An infographic that shows how exercise can help your brain stay in writing shape.             

                                                    

How a Strong Circle of Influence Can Increase Your Results - The Future of Ink

Start building contacts with skills to help effectively spread the word for future releases.    

 

Film

                                                        

How Short Should a Short Be? - Film Shortage

Where your audience will see the film makes a big difference when deciding on the length of your short.    

                                          

For Jennifer, Whomever You Are - Advice on How to Pursue Your Art - Filmmaker IQ

Helpful advice for a photographer that also applies to filmmakers.    

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Songwriter Vocal Strain: Hazards of Singing While Writing Songs - Judy Rodman

The key is to ease in and pace yourself when using vocals to write a song.

 

Know about Your Acoustic Guitar - Musician Makers

A detailed look at all the parts of an acoustic guitar.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- June 6, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- May 30, 2014

1,922 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, music, film, self-publishing, promotion, indie, movies, writers, publishing, writing, films, promotions, craft, filmmakers, branding, social_media
7

I just completed the first draft and first rewrite of a new novel, and it is now in the hands of beta readers. I'm in that horrible no-man's land where I await their feedback before I undertake a second rewrite. It's horrible because I have no idea how delusional I was in thinking this manuscript was ready to be seen by someone other than my wife or myself. A few beta readers have contacted me privately with encouraging feedback, and I must admit to breathing a sigh of relief upon receiving their messages.

 

The thing that has me so on edge with this story is the way I structured my protagonist. He's the most despicable good guy I've ever created. I've played around with various unsavory skeletons in the closets of my heroes before, but this time I fell in league with a fictional good guy that has more in common with Hannibal Lecter than he does with Harry Potter.

 

Allowing such a character to lead a story is tricky business, but here are the five rules I followed in order to create this good guy who is anything but:

 

  1. He is beloved - Even though this protagonist is an awful character, he has at least one person who is totally devoted to him and believes in him no matter what.

  2. He is resolutely loyal to another human being - Conversely, while he does terrible things, he does genuinely care for another human being and even looks out for him at tremendous cost.

  3. He is what he can't control - While he does bad things, he is a product of his past and the misfortune that was heaped upon him. He's bad because he believes being good cost him everything.

  4. He is honorable - That sounds like a counterintuitive statement about a guy who does bad things, but he never pretends to be anything other than what he is, and he never apologizes for it.

  5. He is vulnerable - He does heartless things, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a heart. He displays blips of weaknesses that give the readers a glimpse of his sensitive side.  

 

Now all the feedback isn't in yet, and I can't truly say I've nailed it, but early word seems to indicate he won't be the focus of my second rewrite. How about you? How bad are your good guys?

 

-Richard

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


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Make Your Protagonist Likable

Defend Your Antagonist

4,086 Views 7 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, craft, branding, character_development, character_arc
0

A few posts ago, I discussed a grammatical error authors tend to make when writing their own bios. Another common mistake I see in author bios is the capitalization of the titles they hold in their day jobs.

 

Here's a typical example:

 

John Smith, Author of Book ABC, is the Director of Human Resources at Company XYZ. In his free time he loves to surf, play practical jokes on his coworkers and toss a baseball around with his three young sons. He currently lives in San Diego.

 

While John sounds like a fun guy, he could use a little refresher on the rules of capitalization. Here's how it works:

 

If a person's formal title comes directly before the person's name, it is capitalized:

 

  • The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will be giving a press conference this afternoon.

 

  • It is expected that Vice President Joe Biden will also give some remarks.

 

  • It is uncertain whether Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will be in attendance.

 

If the formal title is after the person's name, it is not capitalized:

 

  • Barack Obama, who is president of the United States, will be giving a press conference this afternoon.

 

  • Joe Biden, who is vice president, will also give some remarks.

 

  • It is uncertain if Denis McDonough, Obama's chief of staff, will be in attendance.

 

As for the title of "author," it is not formal and should never be capitalized, so the following are correct:

 

  • John Smith, author of Book ABC, is the director of human resources.

 

  • The author of Book ABC is John Smith.

 

Capitalizing formal titles after a person's name is such a common mistake that you might be quite surprised to learn that it's incorrect. But pick up a newspaper and read an article or two. You'll see how the journalists do it.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Tip: Who vs. That

Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

2,414 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, capitalization, job_titles
3

No matter who publishes our books, we authors typically write our own bios, especially those that go on our websites, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages, and so on. I read a lot of them that begin something like this:

 

  • Jane Doe is a nurse that always wanted to write a book, so one day she decided to go for it...

 

  • John Smith was having trouble getting his manuscript noticed by traditional publishers, but he isn't a person that backs away from a challenge, so he chose the indie route and has had great success...

 

  • Jane Doe is a licensed therapist that works with people of all ages to help them manage post-traumatic stress disorder...

 

These are all compelling statements, but unfortunately they also contain a common grammatical mistake: They use THAT when they should be using WHO. The error immediately jumps out at me, and unfortunately it makes me wonder if their book is also filled with grammatical errors.

 

To clarify the difference, WHO refers to people. THAT refers to things.

 

Here's how each of the above should read:

 

  • Jane Doe is a nurse who always wanted to write a book, so one day she decided to for it...

 

  • John Smith was having trouble getting his manuscript noticed by traditional publishers, but he isn't a person who backs away from a challenge, so he chose the indie route and has had great success...

 

  • Jane Doe is a licensed therapist who works with people of all ages to help them manage post-traumatic stress disorder...

 

As I've said many times in this blog, if your marketing materials have grammatical errors in them, it creates a negative impression of your writing, no matter how great your writing may actually be. Do you make the who/that mistake in your bio or other marketing materials? If so, a simple fix can make a big difference!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Why Good Grammar Matters

They Should Have Paid Attention in English Class

2,357 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, writing, grammar_tip
2

Recently, I wrote a post encouraging indie authors to get excited about publishing a novel, or novels as the case may be. Any way you slice it, it's a huge accomplishment, and copious amounts of celebratory fervor are warranted.

 

Want another reason to celebrate? Look no further than your readers. The very people who give their time to read your book(s), are more than enough reason to get out your dancing shoes and thank the powers of your choosing for bringing them into your life. Something you created was read by other human beings. That's so cool, it's inspiring.

 

I don't care if you've heard from one reader or a thousand; it's something to get excited about. Not too long ago, writers had limited options when it came to finding readers. The publishing industry was funnel shaped with a herd of writers trying to find their way through a narrow passageway to the market. Only a relative few made it through to the other side.

 

You live in an age where that funnel has been converted into a bridge open to anyone with a completed manuscript. Those readers that were only accessible to a few are now accessible to us all. Thank the stars above for those readers. Reach out to them and let them know that you understand how special they are, and you appreciate the time they've devoted to reading your novel.

 

So, just as you celebrated the publication of your novel, celebrate the readers, both actual and potential. Get excited about all those readers you now have access to.

 

-Richard

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

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Supporting Indie Authors

Recognize Your Readers

1,894 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, promotions
0

The Mid-Novel Crisis

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 27, 2014

"What have I done?"

 

It's a phrase I utter often during the writing process. It usually first happens about midway through the first draft after the exhilaration of spawning a new idea gives way to the tedium of seeing that idea through to the end. I call it the mid-novel crisis.

 

I've talked with enough writers to know I'm not the only one to experience it. Turns out writing a novel is a bit like a relationship. There's that wonderful phase at the beginning where you're embraced by the warm light of euphoria. Nothing can go wrong. You write without restraint, marveling at how easily the story is coming to you. Then one day you wake up and there's a bit of struggle to get a few pages out. The subplot that you were counting on never really takes shape. The secondary characters aren't really adding anything to your story. But, you shrug it off and feel a sense of satisfaction that you've hung in there as long as you have. Tomorrow is another day.

 

The only thing is tomorrow brings more struggles, maybe even a little regret that you didn't pay more attention to the words that were pouring out of you the weeks before. You're paying for that reckless abandon now. Your free-wheeling ways have backed you into a character arc that's falling apart and a plot that is just plain blah. The thought of ditching the book altogether and starting a new one becomes a viable option, one you never thought possible in the beginning. How did it come to this?

 

Here's the thing. Writing a book isn't a relationship that will sour if you set it aside for a while. There's no danger that a story will leave you if you stop paying attention to it. I know the panic that sets in at the mid-novel crisis point. It's not real. It only feels real because you're pressing. So, take a break from the story if you're just not feeling it anymore. Start your other book. I think what you'll find is when you step away from a book that's not working anymore, your mind will give rise to solutions that eluded before.

 

-Richard

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

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The Moral of the Story

The Micro Story Challenge

1,970 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing
0

Beyond your first and foremost obligation to the story as a writer, you have a sacred responsibility to the reader, and that responsibility is to make him or her feel. Whether it's fear, anger, happiness or sadness, you publish a book with the promise that if someone takes precious time out of his or her life to read your book, that reader will experience an emotional jolt of some kind, somewhere within the confines of your story.

 

Such a responsibility can weigh heavily on writers' shoulders - so heavily, in fact, they may become conscious storytellers and step away from their instincts. The second they do that, they lose perspective and crank out page after page of thin, one-dimensional writing. Nobody wins when that happens.

 

Here's the key to telling a sad story: Include some laughs. The key to telling a funny story? Make them cry a few times. Balance is the foundation of depth. A writer who tries to manipulate the primary emotion of his or her genre usually doesn't write a book worth reading. On the other hand, a writer who steps outside the emotional bounds associated with the genre delivers a story that draws readers in and gives them a wholly satisfying experience. Make your horror novel scary, but make it poignant and funny too.

 

To fulfill your emotional contract with readers, provide them a story that includes a spectrum of emotions. If you give them a little balance as they read, it will mean that much more when you knock them off their feet with your pivotal emotional moment.

 

-Richard

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

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Don't Insult Your Readers

Feeling Emotion for Characters

1,988 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, laugh, cry, emotion
0

How to Be Cool

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 12, 2014

I have a confession: I want to be cool. Call it vanity. Call it shortsighted. Call it shallow. I can't help it. I want to be cool like Fonzie. The fact that I referenced a character that hasn't been on TV in 30 years gives you some idea how far from cool I actually am, but it's a goal nonetheless.

 

In the world of storytelling and writing, being cool means that I must write something that's clever and innovative. I have to dig deep and come up with a passage, plot or character that is subtly unique, something that strikes a chord and bends a genre. It is the equivalent of scoring a touchdown.

 

Here's the trap I try to avoid: I can't force "coolness." I'm in the early stages of writing a new novel, and by early stages, I mean I've written one line and devoted a lot of daydreaming to plot points and dialogue. I've come up with what I think is a really cool sequence of events that will culminate with some really killer dialogue and can't wait to incorporate it into the storyline. The problem is I have no idea at this point if it will fit into the storyline, and no matter how much I love this series of events, I can't wedge it into my story just because I think it's cool.

 

Don't let your love for elements of a story prevent you from cutting it if it doesn't fit with the rest of the book. As a writer, you can explore and take risks with a story. As an editor, you have to give yourself permission to cut and slash scenes, characters, chapters, dialogue, whatever doesn't add value to your novel. Sometimes you have to be ruthless on rewrites in order to be really cool.

 

-Richard

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

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When You Cut a Scene You Like, Save It!

A Good Writer Can Ruin a Good Story

2,680 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, cool
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Writing a One-Page Business Plan: 5 Questions a Self-Publisher Must Ask - Self-Publishing Review

Tap into the entrepreneurial segment of your creative mind.    

                                       

How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending - Writer's Digest

Have you mastered the fourth part of storytelling?      

 

Film

                                                        

10 Surprising Ways Famous Film Special Effects Were Made - Tech Radar

The answer to "How'd they do that?"   

 

10 Films That Can Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Cinematography - Taste of Cinema

Recording movement to establish a mood - that's what cinematography is all about.      

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Practice Your Voice without Irritating the Neighbors - Judy Rodman

The apartment complex conundrum: how to warm up your pipes without being a bad neighbor.

 

The Future of Music Discovery Is In the Numbers - Hypebot.com

Tracking who's listening to what is changing the music industry like never before.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- May 2, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- April 25, 2014

2,751 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, business_plan, strategy, voice, music_business, cinematography, plot_development, film_editing, music_exercises, special_effects, sel
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