Instead of sharing advice about what writers should be doing, author Janice Hardy explains how to apply the industry’s advice to your work, including tips on how to plan, write, edit and publish a novel. She also pulls back the curtain on how other successful authors and writers manage their creative processes.
This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at writing person vs. society conflicts.
All stories need an antagonist, but not all stories have a villain. At least not in the literal sense of the word. We'll see an antagonist one from of the four basic conflict types, but that covers a variety of situations. We've discussed the person vs. self antagonists, and person vs. nature conflicts, so today, let's talk about the person vs. society conflicts.
A great example of a person vs. society conflict is the movie In Time. It's a world where people have been genetically altered to stop aging at 25, with a one year advance on their lives after that. To continue living, then need to get more time. They work and are paid in actual time (as in it gets added to their lives). The rich live for centuries, the poor struggle with just days (or less) left. The protagonist is a poor guy named Will who is living hour to hour so to speak. Read more »
By Jaimie Engle, @theWRITEengle Part of the Indie Author Series
Since 2012, I’ve written 11 books and published 7 of them as an indie author and I’ve blown expectations for average book sale out of the water. The general expectation is 50-500 book sales over the lifetime of your book. In 2017 alone, I sold 987 books, mostly in face to face encounters. I’ve found two distinct ways to make an incredible living in addition to being a published author, through teaching and appearances.
But first, I had to learn the value of my book. What does that even mean? Your books and my books provide value, but in order to know that, I had to learn how to translate that value to the right audience. And that was harder than writing or editing any novel.
As a fantasy writer, I’ve long understood the importance of keeping a story bible. A created world has a lot of details to keep track of, from city names, to characters, to rules of magic. Even non-genre writers use story bibles to remember details and characters in a long-running series. But keeping track of details has another use, and one we might not always consider in a first draft.
We don’t always remember the little details that slip in while we’re drafting, and often, those details are pretty darn cool.
I’m not talking about the big details we plan for and write down, but the organic details that emerge as we write a scene. Even the most dedicated outliner is bound to have details spontaneously appear as they write (it is a creative process after all), and these details can be pure gold—as long as we remember to use them or do something with them. Read more »
Part of the How They Do It Series (Monthly Contributor)
I admit I am bad at this. I have a terrible tendency to craft stock, cardboard bad guys—one of the things I am most critical of in my own writing. So it is in the spirit of the old adage ‘those who can’t do, teach’ that I am sharing the following traits which, as an observer, I’ve found to be the most authentic ‘clothing’ a villain can wear:
1. A Flawless Face At first blush this one will seem like a cliché—the gorgeous villain—but bear with me through a little psychology behind it. Many villains have narcissistic natures; self-absorbed, grandiose, prideful and propelled by an astonishing level of arrogance. So egocentric that they are devoid of the capacity for empathy and compassion that would otherwise make them fully human.
Writing is an activity that requires of a lot of brainpower. We tap into our intellect, or emotions, or sense of empathy, and draw from within to create a story. When life throws us a curve and sends all our brainpower in one “this sucks” direction, writing screeches to a halt.
Last week was a bad week for me. It started out great with the last days of a fantastic conference in Alabama, seeing old friends and making some new ones, then a lot of bad news crashed down on me at once. Just trying to write a post for today was difficult, and I stared at my list of topic ideas knowing I wasn’t going to be able to write a single one.
Hence, this post.
Life gets hard for lots of folks every day, and there’s a good chance many of you are having a rough time right now, too. I’m on deadlines, I have things I need to do, so curling into a ball and ignoring the world for a week or two isn’t an option. It’s even less of an option for writers with kids and jobs and many more obligations than I have. Read more »
Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and we diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.
If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.
Submissions currently in the queue: Four Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through April 14.
This week’s questions:
Was the opening paragraph a good hook? Are there any show/tell issues in the first person POV? Is there really conflict here or is it an improved character study?
This week's Refresher Friday revisits an oldie but a goodie, on the difference between the idea, premise, plot, and story of a novel.
Ideas come to us every day, from big bolt-from-the-blue inspiration to smaller “what if” musings. What's sneaky about ideas is that they're easy--it’s figuring out the story behind the idea that can be the hard part. I’ve had many a premise get me excited, only to discover later that I didn’t have a story, much less a plot, that would go with it.
This is one of the reasons some novels stall after fifty or a hundred pages. The writer gets an idea, dives in too soon, and then the story go splat. Read more »
$74,000. There’s the number. It’s tax time, so numbers are what we’re all about this time of year, and that one’s mine. That is my income for 2017. It’s a decent number for my part of the world, enough to live on and pay the bills for a family of two with one income. It isn’t the million dollars that some folks make, but it also is a nice, steady increase over my income of previous years. It’s about what a teacher in my school district makes, if they have a Master’s Degree, National Board Certification, and 30 years of experience. So it’s a solid, professional-level salary.
I make my living from my writing. This is my day job, and my side hustle. I don’t have a safety net, and I don’t have a Plan B. This is all I’ve got, and I’m both happy and a little proud to be able to make a full-time living from my work. I published my first book, a collection of poetry and short stories, in 2009, so eight years into this career, that’s where I am. Not bad, since eight years into my first career I was sitting at around $32K/year. That was also 2003, so there’s a slightly different lens we use when looking through the wayback machine. Read more »
When we’re developing characters, there’s a lot to think about. We need to create names, backgrounds, personalities, likes, dislikes, flaws, strengths, the list can go on and on. But at the center of all those traits is a guiding force that influences them all.
The character’s emotional core.
Although people (and thus characters) can be complicated creatures, the emotional core is a simple thing.
It’s the primary driving emotion behind a character’s thoughts and behavior. Read more »
Written by Janice Hardy. Fiction-University.com
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