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11 Posts tagged with the writing_tip tag
1

When I'm working on a book, I find that one of the hardest things about the process - in addition to coming up with what to write - is getting myself to sit at my desk and focus. "Focus" is the key word here, because once I let myself stop and check my email, browse Facebook, etc., it's amazing how quickly what I intended to be "a quick break" morphs into the whole day. Once I engage with the outside world, any creative spell I've been under is instantly snapped, and it's hard to get that back.


On the flip side, if I stay in the zone and ignore the lure of the Internet and my phone, it's amazing how much writing - good writing - I can get done in a short amount of time. It's like when Han Solo and Chewy switch the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive. Suddenly, they're halfway across the galaxy!


So there you have it. Stay away from your devices to improve productivity. That sounds so simple, but I know it's not because I still have trouble doing it! (Tools such as Freedom will block the Internet for you if your will power repeatedly falls short.)


In a way, sitting down to write is like working out. You may have the best of intentions to do it, but actually working out means not doing something else, and the pull of the "something else" tractor beam is powerful. If you can get yourself dressed in your workout gear and out the door, that's half the battle. Actually, it's probably most of the battle. So think of disconnecting as the digital equivalent of putting on your workout clothes. Put your phone on mute, turn off your Internet browser, and get to work!


-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 notebook by your bed

Writing tip: be careful not to overdo the beats

264 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, procrastination, writing_tip
1

In a previous post, I discussed how useful beats are to show your readers instead of telling them. I also advised against using beats too often because it can dilute their effect. Another way to devalue the impact of beats is by telling readers what those beats are already showing.


For example, the following beats do a solid job of letting us know what the character is thinking:


  • He slammed his cup down so hard that it broke. (His actionshows us that he's angry.)
  • She rolled her eyes. (Her actionshows us that she's irritated/exasperated.)
  • She batted her eyelashes at him. (Her actionshows us that she's being flirtatious.)
  • He cocked his head to the side. (His action shows us that he's confused.)


When writers tell us what the beats are already showing us, it can become a problem if done too frequently. I recently read a novel in which the author included an explanation after almost every beat, and as a result I found myself repeatedly thinking, "Why is she telling me this? Doesn't she see how obvious it is that (insert name of character) is (insert adjective)?"


Here are some examples of what I mean:


  • He slammed his cup down so hard that it broke, furious.
  • She rolled her eyes, exasperated.
  • She batted her eyelashes at him, clearly flirting.
  • He cocked his head to the side, confused.


Am I the only one who finds these explanations unnecessary? I doubt it. Readers are smart, so respect that intelligence. We might all have a tendency to tell too much in the first draft, but that's what revisions are for! It's never fun to cut your own words, but your writing will be better for it, and your readers will appreciate it. I promise.


-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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Turn the Beat Around

 

Use Beats to Show, Not Tell

 

1,222 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, writing, promotions, action_beats, writing_tip, dialgue_tags
1

I've written multiple blog posts about beats, which use action to show readers how a character is feeling instead of telling them. For example:


Krista slammed the refrigerator door shut. "I told you to leave me alone!"


Compare the above to this:


"I told you to leave me alone!" Krista shouted, furious.


Having Krista slam the refrigerator door not only shows us that she's furious instead of telling us, it also gives us a visual of what is happening. Both of those things are good. However, it's important not to use too many beats, because they can become distracting--and annoying.


When I received the first draft of my most recent novel back from my developmental editor, she noted that I'd used a large number of beats and suggested that I delete many of them, which I quickly did. I didn't think too much about it at the time, but then last week I read a novel that used beats so often that I quickly found myself getting distracted by them, then annoyed by them, and eventually I wanted to throw my Kindle out the window. Here's just one example of a conversation in the book, with identifying details altered:


"You seem distracted." Leslie tossed a pen at Jesse across the desk.


"Sorry." Jesse leaned back in his chair and crossed his hands behind his head. "You know I'm terrible at this part of my job."


"You mean the paperwork?" Leslie leaned forward.


Jesse leaned forward too, elbows on his knees, head hung low. "Yes."


Do you see how distracting beats can be when used too often? To me, the above reads like stage directions, not a conversation, and the beats cumulatively ruined the reading experience for me. I realize now what great advice my editor gave me. Like fine wine and high-calorie desserts, beats are best in moderation!


-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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Use Beats to Show, Not Tell

Dialogue Tip: Make It Clear Who is Talking

1,125 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, action_beats, writing_tip, dialogue_tags
2

 

This morning I woke up and knew I'd come up with an idea for the book I'm currently writing, but I had no idea what it was. Absolutely none. Instead of fretting about the lost inspiration, however, I reached for the notebook in the drawer of my nightstand and read the following, which I had jotted down in sleepy chicken scratch sometime during the night:


  • At BK Flea: "So nothing for Derek then?" "No. Argh, **** it. I forgot to call him." "Has he called you?" "No."
  • Mention Daphne toast to Skylar


The above notes may look insignificant, but they are anything but. They resulted in additional scenes/conversations that added considerably to a side plot and the emotional growth of the main character. Both areas had been giving me trouble, but I'd been unable to figure out what to do about them. If I hadn't written down those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night, I would have come up with a solution eventually, but it sure was nice to have it right there in front of me. In my opinion the writing is often the easy part; it's coming up with what to write that is hard.


I've learned my lesson about the notebook thing. More than a few times I've woken up at 2 or 3 a.m. with an idea but no notebook nearby and thought, I'll remember it in the morning, then promptly fallen back asleep. How many times have I remembered those ideas? Zero. Now, no matter how tired I am, I force myself to reach for my pen and make a note when an idea strikes. Often that paper ends up in the recycling bin and I ask myself, what in God's name was I thinking, but just as often those flashes of creativity end up in the pages of a book. Better safe than sorry!


-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: Save Deleted Scenes and Language

Writing Tip: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

912 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_ideas, writing_tip
0

Keep it simple

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 14, 2016

 

    When you sit down to outline your marketing strategy, there is one thing above all others that you want to keep in mind. Keep it simple. Don't feel like you have to reinvent the wheel. The tried and true work; otherwise, they wouldn't be tried and true. Here are three reasons why keeping your marketing strategy simple makes for more effective results:


  1. Keeping things simple offers the least number of obstacles. If you try to overthink it and come up with something never seen before, you are creating impediments that will likely frustrate you and could lead you to not follow through. Study what others have done before you and repeat.
  2. Overcomplicated planning usually makes for overcomplicated outcomes. Being creative with your marketing strategy isn't bad, but being too creative can confuse the readers you are trying to reach.
  3. Keeping things simple most likely means you are incorporating strategies that have been tested before, which means you most likely have data to justify your strategy. It worked before. It will most likely work again. The hard work has been done for you. Most of the obstacles we discussed earlier aren't there. You can just plug in your book and go.


Of course, keeping things simple with your marketing strategy doesn't mean it will be easy. You are still going to have to do your research and determine what will work for you, but the good news is that the research is usually just a search engine away. Good luck, and keep it simple.

 

 

 

 

-Richard

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

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Exclusive versus inclusive

 

The Grassroots Marketing Ripple Effect

 

 

 

 

1,683 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, writing, author_tips, writing_tip
2

In last week's post I addressed how using too many exclamation marks in dialogue can (negatively) affect the reader's experience. To catch the issue, I suggested that authors read their dialogue out loud.


While that was a post was about an overuse issue, reading your work (not just dialogue) out loud can also help identify another common problem I see in books that haven't been professionally edited: underuse of pronouns.


Too often I encounter writing like the following, which is similar to the language in a book I recently read. Actually, that's not accurate. I gave up reading after about 50 pages because I couldn't take it anymore. I've changed enough words to protect the identity of the author.


In the following paragraph, Lucy is alone:


Lucy crossed her arms in front of her chest and sighed as she gazed out over the water, feeling sad and lonely. It wasn't the first time Lucy had felt this way, but that didn't make it any easier. There was just so much history there, and so much pain. Lucy knew she needed to move on with her life, but she just couldn't.


I find it hard––if not impossible––to believe that if the author of that passage were to read that paragraph out loud, she wouldn't immediately realize how jarring it sounds to hear the name Lucy over and over again. It's clear that the scene is about her, so it's not necessary to keep repeating her name. After the first reference, a simple "she" will do just fine.


If that's not making sense to you, think of it this way: When you tell a funny story about something your dad did when he was on a solo fishing trip, most likely you begin with "My dad was fishing by himself," and from then on you'll use "he" or "him." There's simply no reason to use "my dad" more than once because it's not necessary.


Just like listeners to anecdotes about your dad, readers of your novel are smart enough to "get" it, so respect them! If not, they might not make it past the first 50 pages.


-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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Listen to Someone Read Your Story

 

Writing Tip: Be Careful, Don't Overuse Uncommon Gestures and Actions

 

1,546 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, writing, pronouns, writing_tip
0

It goes without saying that when it comes time to revise the first draft of your manuscript, much of it is going to end up on the cutting room floor. Whether it's due to shifting plotlines, characters that no longer work, or scenes that are too long, removal is part of the process. (And of course, some of what we all write the first time around is simply...awful.

 

The delete key doesn't have to mean the end, however. For those snippets of dialogue that you like but just aren't a fit, or the descriptions that are no longer necessary due to a change in setting, why not keep them around? That's what I do. Anytime I cut something I like, I create a new Word document and save it for possible future use.

 

For example, years ago I wrote a scene about a burglary that I ended up not using for various reasons. I liked it though, so I saved it in a document as "Burglary scene." Fast forward to a few months ago, when I was working on a new novel and thought, "Hey, I bet a burglary would work well here." So I went into my files, found the "Burglary scene" document, and pasted it in. Granted I had to massage it to make sure it gelled with the new plot, characters, etc. But the essence of what I'd originally written remained. And being able to use something I'd been so fond of, albeit years later, felt great.

 

Cutting anything from a manuscript you've worked so hard on is never easy, but saving the phrases, scenes, and descriptions you like makes doing so much easier to swallow. And who knows? One day you just might find a home for them.

 

-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: Just Keep Going

 

1,121 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_tip, cutting_scenes
1

When you first begin working on a book, it's easy to go back and read from the beginning to refresh your memory about key plot points, timelines, character insights, etc. The deeper you get into the writing process, however, the more unwieldy and time-consuming it becomes to read the entire thing. To avoid getting derailed by that habit, I suggest creating a chapter-by-chapter synopsis that you update as you progress. That way you can quickly reference the synopsis as needed instead of spending valuable writing time searching through your manuscript.

 

To give you an example, here are some snippets from the synopsis I wrote for my novel Wait for the Rain, which came out earlier this year:

 

Chapter 1- winter Sunday

Daphne is at her house in Columbus waiting for her neighbor, Carol, to take her to the airport for a week trip to St. Mirika to celebrate her 40th birthday with her two best friends from college. We learn that Daphne's ex-husband Brian has recently moved in with his girlfriend, and that the two of them are taking Daphne's 15-year-old daughter Emma skiing for spring break.

 

Chapter 2- Sunday

On the way to the airport Daphne tells Carol about her friends. Skylar is a successful sales executive in NYC, and KC lives with her husband in Southern California. We learn that Daphne started at the same company as Skylar years ago but quit to get married and have Emma. We also learn that she hasn't seen her friends in years and is anxious about what they will think of her now.

 

As you can see, the synopsis doesn't have to be pretty, but jotting down the basics will help keep you focused on moving the story forward, which is critical if you want to finish that elusive 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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A Synopsis Can Be Quite Helpful

Writing Tip: Keep the Story Moving Forward

2,763 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, synopsis, writing_tip, first_draft
1

Today I'd like to talk about tenses, specifically when to use the preterit (past) tense versus the pluperfect (past perfect) tense. While both tenses refer to things that have already happened, the pluperfect reference point is earlier than the preterit reference point.

 

Here are two examples:

 

Preterit tense: I wrote a book

Pluperfect tense: I had written a book

Both together: He wrote to me yesterday to tell me that he had read my book (he read my book before he wrote to me about it)

 

Past tense: Last year was hard for me

Pluperfect tense: Things had been hard for a while

Both together: It was hard to open the window because someone had nailed it shut (the window was nailed shut before I tried to open it)

 

I recently read a book that was written in the preterit tense. The problem was that the author kept using preterit and pluperfect tenses as if they are  interchangeable. This resulted in a bunch of sentences that sounded really strange and didn't make much sense together.

 

For example:

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR WROTE:

Things were now much more difficult. Over the last six months my disease progressed to the point where I was in constant pain.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN:

Things were now much more difficult. Over the last six months my disease HAD progressed to the point where I was in constant pain.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR WROTE:

He knew what he needed to do. He fell in love with her, and it was time to tell her.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN:

He knew what he needed to do. He HAD FALLEN in love with her, and it was time to tell her.

 

Do you see the difference between the tenses? If you confuse your point of reference, you will confuse your readers. And you want your readers to be entertained, not confused!

 

-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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More Grammar Pet Peeves!
Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

4,102 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writing, craft, grammar, spelling, writing_advice, author_tips, grammar_tip, grammar_advice, writing_tip
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Why Every Writer Should Keep a Travel Journal - Writer's Digest

Your experiences on the road may be worth some money.        

                           

Write More: Seven Tips for Dealing with Writing Distractions - Beyond Paper Editing

Maybe it's time to go old school and ditch your fancy laptop for a more low-tech approach.          

 

Film

                                                        

Ed Burns on The Brothers McMullen, Finding Your Voice, and the Meat Grinder of Independent Filmmaking - The Week

The filmmaker who helped usher in today's modern independent filmmaking movement.      

                                          

Becoming a Full-time Filmmaker: When to Quit Your Day Job - Filmmaking.net

When should you let go of your security net?  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Three Email Marketing Mistakes Musicians Make that Cost Them Fans and Money [Podcast]- Musicgoat.com

How to make your email marketing more engaging.  

  

Vocal Strain: What is it and What Can You Do about It? - Judy Rodman

Don't ignore vocal strain, or you might do permanent damage.    

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 27, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- February 20, 2015

1,983 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, film, author, self-publishing, movies, writers, publishing, writing, journal, promotions, filmmakers, branding, social_media, independent_film, email_marketing, vocals, writing_exercises, writing_tip
0

Don't Force an Ending

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 25, 2015

I just want to warn you that there's this little-known song from a movie that barely made any money at the box office that I'm going to reference in this blog post. It comes from an obscure animated flick called Frozen and the song title is "Let It Go." Oh, you've heard of it? Good, then I can spare you the video of me singing this catchy tune.

 

 

That is the wisdom I wish to impart on you today: let it go. Can't find an ending for that book you've worked so hard on for months? Let it go. What? You say it's been years? Let it go. Endings can't be forced. Well, they can, but they usually come off sounding that way. Your best strategy is to move on to the next project. Shed the frustrating missteps from your mind when it comes to finding the perfect ending, and redirect your creativity.

 

 

Albert Einstein didn't come up with the Theory of Relativity sitting in front of a chalkboard hammering out formulas and chasing mathematical equations down a rabbit hole. He came up with the idea as a clerk at the patent office staring out the window. In other words, he wasn't focused on revolutionizing physics. He was daydreaming. Had he been focused on making a great discovery at that particular moment, who knows, would he have developed the most famous scientific discovery of the modern age?

 

 

The ending will come to you when you let go of the need to find the ending. In a weird metaphysical way, stories don't like to remain unfinished. Your brain will find its way there on its own. If you force it, your brain will fight you and give your story an unsatisfying ending. Stop fixating, and start daydreaming. Let it go.

 

 

-Richard

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

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When Do You Know The Ending?

Know Thy Story

2,877 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, book, writers, publishing, writing, craft, ending, writing_advice, writing_tip


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