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People often tell me how overwhelming the thought is of writing a book. All those pages. All those words.

But no one writes a book in one day. It takes time because words across the page are a sequential step-by-step affair.

“How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time.”

A little bit of writing every day goes a long way…
This seems so obvious, but is often overlooked.

Let me show me what I mean… Some examples:

I’m editing my science fiction mystery novel a few pages a day during the week. At the end of two weeks, I have 30 pages edited to turn into my critique group. Then after I receive their feedback, I take a few days to integrate their changes.

My client K writes about 500 words every day while she works full-time job. By the end of the week, she has meet her weekly goal of 2000 words of her first draft. In a few months, she’s completed her first draft.

My student J is brainstorming his novel using the Plan Your Novel course curriculum. Due to his busy schedule, working and being a dad, and playing at his intensive hobby of capoeira, he’s already halfway through the planning of his novel and knows so much more about his story and his characters than he did when he started, i.e., which was nothing. Soon he’ll have his book planned out and can start the day-by-day work of writing his first draft.

When I’m focused on book marketing, I send out a few book review requests each day. Over the following weeks and months, I get reviews posted on the online vendors, on Goodreads, and on reviewers’ sites. More reviews posted means more social proof and the chance that more readers will be reached. The more requests I send out, the more free books I send out, the more reviews I can get. And the more potential sales my books can make.

In writing, one word follows another.

In learning and in creating, content accumulates. In writing, one word follows another. One page follows another. Eventually you’ll have a book.

Seems so obvious. Yet, if you let yourself get discouraged and stop before you’re done, often with thoughts of “It’s not good enough; I’m not good enough; I have no idea where I’m going; I have no idea what I’m doing,” then you’ll never experience the law of compound effects.

A cake half-baked; a meal half-cooked; a race half-run… those all seem weird in real life, and few of us do such things. It’s the same with our creative work.

“How do you finish writing a book?”
“One word at a time.”

YOUR TURN

How can you use the law of compound effect in your life and take advantage of it?

I’d love to hear from you!

Post in comments how you use or will use the law of compound effects.

***

ABOUT BETH BARANY

Hi! I’m Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers.

Through my courses, programs, workshops and consultations, I specialize in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

All my courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. I run an online school for fiction writers here and a 12-month group coaching program to help novelists get published here. I also offer consultations for writers here.

The post One Word At A Time: The Law of Compound Effects by Beth Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “You Got the Look.” Enjoy!

***
I’d thought I was nearly finished with the latest installment of my graphic novel weeks ago but then something happened. I tried something new and everything changed! My books have been evolving each time but this time I tried something different that I’ve been a little nervous to try before, and it clicked. My books started out in black and white, then I started using gray and black to add a bit of depth to the backgrounds, and now the shading has evolved into actual color!

Creating graphic novels

When I first started creating graphic novels I thought it would be fun to add color, but the labor-intensive method I use (doing everything by hand) made it really difficult. I liked the look of the black and white and stuck with it for a long time. After all, I’m a fan of black and white television shows and films, especially film noir; I like black and white in clothes, décor and design. Still it was time for a change and I explored the possibilities of using shades of gray.

While gray is popular in décor and design, it could be considered rather bland in some instances, but that’s not always the case. When exploring shades of gray, I found it comes in cool and warm, and every shade within a particular “temperature” at that. Some are toward the pink or mauve end of the scale, others silver-y and pewter, and still others with a hint of tan. One reason I wanted shades of gray was because then I would still essentially be using black and white in subtle degrees, but when I saw the effect of the color tones of each shade, I decided I wanted that as well. The subtle hints of underlying color gave my drawings the look I’ve always wanted for my books. I’d felt like I was at an impasse right before I could finish this project and the rich gray tones led to my aesthetic breakthrough!

My book

My book now has a look, and one that I love. I’ve added some other shades of copper and “almond” as well, and gotten bolder using the colors of my own unique palette. It’s exciting to see my work finally look the way I always wanted, only I didn’t know it was what I wanted until I saw it. Sometimes when things take a long time to happen, we get frustrated, but when they finally do happen—joy! It’s just another step in our creative journey, and another discovery that helps us get to where we’re going, wherever that may be.
Happy writing!

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nevada McPherson lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she is an associate professor of Humanities at Georgia Military College. Nevada received a BA in English/Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She has written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, plays, short stories and the graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons. Queensgate, the sequel to Uptowners, is her third graphic novel. For more information, visit www.nevada-mcpherson.com.

The post You Got the Look by Nevada McPherson appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Today we welcome a new guest writer to Writer’s Fun Zone, Crystal Jo Reiss who is stopping by to chat with us today about “How Did I Write This Thing? Jane is Everywhere” Enjoy!

***

Over the years, there have been countless books about the writing process. Some of the best known, like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or Ursula Le Guin’s Steering the Craft, attempt to raid the imagination’s hardware store, shining a light on the nuts and bolts of this mysterious process called writing. In truth, the mystery can only begin to be revealed through direct experience.

And even after decades…

A writer still may not fully understand how he or she wrote the pages that appear in a book. What a crazy game it is!

Imagine you have wanted to write stories since you first laid eyes on a Dr. Seuss picture book. For years you read YA novels that inspire you to dream up your own. You scribble a few lines, maybe a few pages, before giving up, only to try again.

Eventually, maybe in college, you scratch out one hundred pages no one can stand to read—not even you—because you’ve had your head in too many tomes of literary criticism or have spent too many hours hovering over a centrifuge.

A decade later, after a slew of temp jobs—and maybe some long-term gigs that paid a little better—you try writing again. This time, because you can’t get a particular story out of your system, you stick with it. You get up three hours earlier than you should and park your butt in front of a computer.

You tap away, thinking this one will be a bestseller, and then you can quit your day job. And when you’re done with the “masterpiece/lump of coal” that some people might one day call a novel, you look at the pages, scratch your head, stare out the window, scratch your head again, and finally ask yourself one very unanswerable question: How the f–k did I write this thing?

Yeah, it’s true.

Nearly a decade in front of a computer (and about ten thousand cups of tea in between maybe five hundred freelance jobs) will do this to you.

Truth is, no one I know has ever been able to describe exactly how a novel gets written, except perhaps as an abstraction. Oh, yes, there’s the “three-to-four hours per day, 1,000-word minimum” answer that some writers throw at inquisitors daring enough to raise the subject. But please name the writer who can dive deeper (way deeper) than that.

So, after finally publishing a book is it absurd to ask myself what actually happened during the approximately 9,100 hours it took to write and then shape my novel, Jane Is Everywhere? I know that I began writing the piece with a sense of what I wanted readers to feel and what I wanted to convey, but I had no idea where the characters and plot would turn.

I know that much of the manuscript—the original 250,000 words that eventually lived in my computer—had to be hacked and sawed and chiseled and sanded down during more than fifteen full and maybe twenty half drafts.

I know that I sat in the Rockridge Library, day after day, through rain and shine, preferring a table upstairs in the reading room because the skylights allowed blocks of sunshine to hit the top of my head and, when it rained, gave off a gentle music—a patter patter sound—as I typed.

Finally, I know that much of the writing actually grew out of a conversation with a blank page and an amorphous “everyone” that would, I hoped, eventually read the result.

Like any conversation between people, it’s hard to follow the progression of subjects or characters entering and evolving into other subjects or characters while crafting a novel.

After all, writers are really following a conversation that lands on the page, squirms around with each revision, and then freezes in its final draft.

It’s true: characters and concepts become more concrete with each draft.

But, how did it start? And how did it end?

I began writing Jane Is Everywhere as a secret blog, because I liked the idea of writing for an audience. Yet, I didn’t want anyone to read it, so I eventually erased the blog from the webverse and pasted everything into a MS Word doc.

Beyond that, I can tell you that each word, sentence, new page bloomed into a massive and messy manuscript that seemed impossible to control.

As cliché as it sounds, it was like a bad hair day on steroids. I had too many characters (even more than now appear in the book, believe it or not!) with split ends, and I had a 100-page ancillary story that I intended to braid into the main story.

It all got too complicated. So, I cut the entire 100-page section, and I still had nearly 225,000 words. Everyone I spoke to told me that no 21st century editor in his or her right mind would consider a debut novel that massive. I cut more.

At 170,000 words, I sent queries to agents. I cut more, and there were more agents, and even a few publishers.

Years later, I now have a book. I look at its pink cover with its drawing of a woman staring at herself as she falls into what looks like an infinity mirror.

At times, I wonder if the woman on the cover is me. All those drafts. All those iterations of a story whose beginnings were invisible, hidden inside a blog that I knew no one would read.

Because there’s nothing else to do but wonder, in awe, at creation, I step back and see the entire process as a reflection of life, or an imprint of my own mind during the period in which I wrote the book.

Yes, we hardly know where or how we came to be who we are, or how we stumbled upon this place we call “here.” We simply exist. And now, so does Jane, who is everywhere, now that she (the novel) is complete.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Crystal Jo Reiss has written fiction and articles for numerous publications, including The London Evening Standard. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University, attended The Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference, and was the recipient of residencies at The Edward Albee Foundation and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony. Her debut novel, Jane Is Everywhere, was published February 17, 2018. She has read from her novel at numerous San Francisco and Oakland reading series, including Word Performances, The Octopus Literary Salon, The Bindery, and The Beast Crawl. In addition, she is the co-founder of an editorial and design business called WE Write and Edit. She lives with her husband and son in Oakland, California.

Website: www.janeiseverywhere.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaneIsEverywhere/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CR27
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17438818.Crystal_Jo_Reiss

The post How Did I Write This Thing? Jane is Everywhere by Crystal Jo Reiss appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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A lot of authors think that they need to spend time alone marketing their books to make more sales.

The reality is, if they just have other people with many followers market their books, it’s often easier to make those sales.

The approach in this article is often called OPL.

OPL stands for Other People’s Lists and it’s a way to spread the word about your book to readers who would love to read it. Lots of authors calls this activity “newsletter swaps.”

For example, Lee Child writes thrillers that a lot of readers—myself included—love. If he sent out a newsletter to his followers that included a link to get one of my free thrillers, I would likely get a ton of new readers! By doing this, I would have used another person’s list to increase my newsletter subscribers and potential new fans.

I’m going to show you how you can do your own newsletter swaps and take advantage of OPL. And at the end of this article, if you write thrillers or suspense and want to try it out, we can work together at marketing each other’s books.

Here we go!

1. Prepare a freebie.

It’s often best if your freebie is unpublished. It can be a short prequel to one of your published books to help readers fall in love with your characters and is a way to show off your storytelling and can have links to your other books on sale. This freebie is what you’ll offer readers who sign up for your newsletter.

For example, my freebie is a short sequel to my bestselling thriller The Torah Codes.

If you want to see an example of what a short prequel can look like, you can see it here without signing up for my newsletter:
http://www.thetorahcodes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Freebie.pdf

2. Find other authors in your genre.

Go to various social media sites and search for groups of authors in your genre, like Facebook groups and Goodreads groups. In my case, I joined several thriller and mystery author groups on Facebook. You can also search Twitter to find authors in your genre.

3. Reach out to those other authors.

Search for the term “newsletter swap” to see if authors in your genre are already looking for what you want. If you find a post by an author in your genre seeking out a newsletter swap, respond stating your interest and follow whatever directions they have on how to complete the swap.

If you don’t see any postings, make one of your own. I posted this request recently:

Hello, fellow authors! I’m hoping we can work together to grow our newsletter lists, so if you’re a thriller writer, please read on!

Calling all Thriller authors! Do you write irreverent thrillers (think the irreverence of Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher)? If so, I’d love to promote your freebie or giveaway on my newsletter! What’s the catch? Promote my freebie on your newsletter.

Let’s grow our newsletter subscriber lists together! I’m scheduling two authors a month. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/Barany-Newsletter-Swap-Form

An alternative is to seek out your favorite authors who write in your genre and contact them. To do that, go to their websites, find their contact info, and ask for a newsletter swap in a personal email.

4. Swap information.

Get the author’s name, pen name if applicable, email, number of newsletter subscribers (optional), the month they want to promote their book, clarity on whether their book is a freebie or a giveaway, and if there’s a time limit (will the book be free only for certain days?), URL of the freebie, book description, author bio, book cover image and profile pic.

I’ve set up a web page for the author to fill out all this information herself.
http://bit.ly/Barany-Newsletter-Swap-Form

I’ve also set up a place for the author to retrieve all of my information easily.
http://www.thetorahcodes.com/newsletter-swap-content/

5. Send out your newsletter as promised.

On the day/week they requested, send out your newsletter promoting their freebie with the understanding that they have or will offer your freebie to their community of readers in their newsletter.

I usually start my newsletter with a personal note telling my readers what I’m up to. Since my readers are thriller readers, I imagine they’re pretty impatient, so I keep it short. If I don’t have anyone scheduled for the month, I either skip the newsletter for that month, or I put out a newsletter with a link to another freebie of mine.

NEXT STEPS

If you write thrillers and have a freebie you think my readers would love, and if you’re interested in offering my free prequel to your readers on your newsletter, click here to sign up for a newsletter swap with me!

http://bit.ly/Barany-Newsletter-Swap-Form

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ezra Barany loves riveting readers with thrillers, but by order of the DMV must place a warning on every book cover, “Do not read while driving.” His first two books in The Torah Codes series were award-winning international bestsellers, and the next two books in the series—Deborah’s Number and Bullets Aren’t Kosher—are in their final edits for 2018. His books are regularly prescribed to narcoleptics to prevent them from falling asleep. More at http://www.thetorahcodes.com/.

The post Book Marketing with Newsletter Swaps by Ezra Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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So you want to be a fiction writer… here are some things you need to know, do, and be…

1. READ

If you want to be any kind of writer, read.

Anything and everything.

Yes, signs. Yes, cereal boxes. Yes, the newspaper or online version of that. Yes, magazines. Yes, novels, short stories, nonfiction. Ever-y-thing.

Words are our food as writers. You need to become familiar with all the various and sundry uses of the building blocks of our communication tool.

Drink in words; swim in them; listen deeply; speak them. Smell books and paper and all things that receive the written word. Watch those who speak words. Read with your whole self.

If you want to write a particular kind of fiction, or nonfiction, read that. Immerse your whole self in that.

How much? A lot.

I had read been reading fantasy for 28 years on my own before I attempted my first fantasy novel. And that doesn’t count the 7+ years before that my parents read it to me.

At the start of my novel writing journey, I read The Maltese Falcon by Sam Spade. I thought it was brilliant and was fired up to write mysteries. I tried my hand at one; I got as far as the opening scene in a bar. (Always bars with me…) And stalled out.

I realized that I had not read any mysteries since I was a kid and sped through The Three Detectives (right title?) and some of Nancy Drew (she seemed too old fashioned for me) and had all the Sherlock Holmes tales read to me.

I needed to read mysteries if I wanted to write them. So I did: My husband thriller writer Ezra Barany read aloud to us Michael Connelly and Lee Child, and some Dan Brown. I watched a ton of TV mysteries, binge watching Murder She Wrote; Midsomer Murders; Leverage; and enjoying for years the NCIS shows. (Yes, listening and watching stories counts.)

Fast forward 18 years later, I sat down to plan and then write my 4-book science fiction mysteries series I’m now editing. (Due out Fall 2019) I got this. I understand the mystery story form and have enough writing experience under my belt to handle all the other aspects of telling a story. (These 4 books will bring up to 16 the number of books I’ve written in the last 20 years.)

Yes, I also have been steeping myself and in science and science fiction for a long time. (Fun Fact: I read the entire Dune series while studying for finals my sophomore year at UC Berkeley. I felt like I got a political science education! And OMNI Magazine was one of favorites as high school kid. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke favorites authors then.)

2. WRITE

If you want to be a fiction writer, then write. Anything and everything. Get your hand moving across the page. Or keyboard.

This stage is physical and emotional. For you must trust that there is something to say even if it’s nonsense.

Trust your urge to write. What to say and how to say it comes with the doing it, for most of us.

Nothing replaces learning to write like actually writing. There is no way around this fact.

GET STARTED

To get started, free write for 20 minutes about anything and everything.

Do this every day for a month, 3 months, a year, you’ll have done a few things:

1. Listened to yourself.
2. Written and trained he hand-brain connection.
3. Found some story ideas.

3. STUDY

Not every successful fiction writer studies story structure, writing process, plot, character, and other aspects of storytelling. You certainly don’t need to. But if you’re confused by any of these elements, then yes, like many artists, you need to study your craft.

There are so many resources out there to help you study your craft. How wonderful!

Here are a few places to get you started:

  • Google
  • Your local library
  • Your writer friends’ recommendations
  • Your local bookstore
  • The online booksellers
  • YouTube
What topics are you curious about? Start there.

If you need help finding resources, post your question in the comments below and we’ll help you out.

YOUR NEXT STEP

From the 3 steps above, what would you like to focus on next?

Comment below and let us know so we can cheer you on.

***

OUR “LEARN HOW TO WRITE FICTION “RESOURCES

***

ABOUT BETH BARANY

Hi! I’m Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers.

Through my courses, programs, workshops and consultations, I specialize in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

All my courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. I run an online school for fiction writers here and a 12-month group coaching program to help novelists get published here. I also offer consultations for writers here.

The post So You Want to Be A Fiction Writer? 3 Practices You Need by Beth Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us about “Making Mistakes: Why We Should.”

***

I taught a four-week journaling class, and at their request, created a (unplanned) PDF from the slides along with additional material, turning the project around in a couple days.

I also created and scheduled a monthly meet-up. At the first meeting, Donna, one of the students arrived at the cafe, sat down and announced she found typos in the handout.

She was the first to find and announce my mistakes.  She had won.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. “

You have these critics in your life. We all do.

It is one of the biggest obstacles and frustrations for writers, and frankly, all creatives. Critics are righteous about being right.

They are confident where writers are timid. They are certain where artists have doubts.

Critics can be so terrifying creatives will simply stop creating anything just to avoid self- satisfied censor and negative comments.

We will work over an essay or a painting until holes are worn in the canvas and book chapters lose all color and light because we are so afraid of the critic, of making a mistake.

I thanked Donna and asked her to send me her list of my mistakes so I could correct them.

She replied, “Oh, there were just too many to count.”

In other words, she had no intention to helping, of moving a project forward. Her goal was to make sure that in this meeting, in this exchange, she was right and I was wrong. That’s it.

My own take-away was that I wasn’t completely crushed and demoralized.

Because after working on all sorts of projects and presentations I have internalized the assertion that   “credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. . .”

Gladiators are different from spectators.

Gladiators are different from spectators. What I have found is that those who work in the arena, covered in dust and sweat and blood, are much kinder to their fellow combatants.

When you know what it is like to create you are far less likely to criticize, and far more likely to be helpful and encouraging. And if you tend to be critical just to be right, here is your chance to change.

  • Do you want to criticize, or do you want to dare greatly?
  • Do you want to find fault or discover marvelous things?
  • Do you want to demoralize or do you want to inspire?
  • Do you want to experience “the triumph of high achievement. . . “ And if not triumph do you want to fail big  “while daring greatly.”
When You Write You Are Daring Greatly

You are doing, not watching. You are starting something that no one else has ever dared begin, let alone saw through to the end.

I have written seventeen books — none of which made the best seller list, a couple of which have earned enough money for a double latte no foam. Doesn’t matter.

What matters to me is I finished them, published them, and own the effort. The work was glorious and life-changing. I emerged from the arena a different person, a better person.

Some readers are helpful and give me a list of corrections. Others dismiss the whole effort because they found mistakes.

(My mother’s comment on my recent book: “I found five typos.” That was the whole of her comments).

Do consider the source. Is the critic a fellow solider, a professional in your field? Has your critic done what you’ve done? Has he or she written a book?  Submitted poems? Daily bled onto the page?

Because if not, well. . . .

If you are a writer, a creator, you have already won. Your daring, your effort guarantees that your “place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Poor Donna had never created. She never wrote, perhaps she never started her journal despite taking my class. When a person is busy finding mistakes, they don’t have time to make their own. That is a terribly cold place to live.

It is not the critic who counts

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt – The Man in the Arena

***



***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When she’s not pulling her mother out of traffic, Catharine coaches and teaches fiction, non-fiction, and journal writing.

Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach bringing her clients from idea to published book and beyond. She has written 17 novels and 3 books on writing. Her poetry appears in over a dozen anthologies including And The Beats Go On (she was editor as well) and the chapbook Ammonia Sunrise (Finishing Line Press). Her current book, Don’t Write Like We Talk, is based on her co-producer experience creating 200-plus episodes of the Newbie Writers Podcast. She is the Chief Storytelling Officer for technical companies because everyone has a story.

The post Making Mistakes: Why We Should by Catharine Bramkamp appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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In this hands-on free workshop, we’ll brainstorm the steps to create your novel—from character development to plot structure to story themes and world building—so you can start writing your novel prepared.

For beginning to advanced writers, especially for pansters, we’ll cover bite-sized exercises to help you stretch your imagination and get excited about the writing process.

This workshop is useful for you if you have never written a novel, have always wanted to, and still feel lost on how to go from brilliant idea to The End, or if you always hit that sagging middle and lose focus or interest. We’ll help you dream up exciting ways to torture, I mean challenge, your characters all the way to the resolution of the story.

Award-winning novelist, Beth Barany is a speaker, teacher, and coach, and co-founder of the Barany School of Fiction, with her husband, also an award-winning author, Ezra Barany. For a free Writer Discovery course, go here: http://bit.ly/WriterDiscoveryFreeMiniCourse.

Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 6:00-7:30pm

Where: Fremont Main Library, 2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont, CA

Free and open to the public.

More information: http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/friend.cfm?curOrg=ACL&tEvt=5520145&tfPopup=1

The post 7 Essential Keys to Planning Your Novel (Event) with Beth Barany at Fremont Library appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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As a young twenty-something, I went through an intense WHY phase. It didn’t seem to get me anywhere, just generated more guesses and more stories. A boyfriend told me that that asking WHY was a useless endeavor. I didn’t want to believe him, yet I was no closer to any satisfying answers.

Asking WHY got me searching for reasons. THE POWER OF ASKING QUESTIONS

When I was in eighth grade, Mrs. Maffei taught us how to answer essay questions. Then she gave us three-hour essay exams, like I eventually had as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. My eighth grade teacher was preparing us for college, teaching us how to analyze questions, and threw us into muddling through answering them.

From that experience, I never forgot the power of asking questions. Mrs. Maffei instilled in me a menu of keywords that acted as a decoder for any essay question. I kept that list in a plastic sleeve with other important writing resources and eventually posted it on my blog here [link].

“Want better answers? Ask better questions?”

So ask yourself, “How can I ask a better question here?”

HOW… A great word you can use to open any tight-lipped topic, like prying open a can. Just apply a little finesse and a little pressure. And voila, you have an answer!

In other words, HOW questions — like any good questions — can focus your attention for an extended period of time and spur you into action.

How is a good question to ask, like:

  • “How do I go from here to there?”
  • “How am I feeling?”
  • “How can I be ready?”
Asking HOW got my brain searching for solutions. THE POWER OF HOW AND YOUR CREATIVITY

What does any of this have to do with writing and our creativity?

When we’re stuck — when I’m stuck — it’s hard and it feels yucky.

When I remember that I can, I ask a question, like “What would I like?” Or “What am I trying to say here?” Or if I’m editing, I can ask, “How would I like this passage to go?”

Other HOW questions you can apply to your writing:

  • How can I reach my readers?
  • How can I convey this [specific emotion] in this scene?
  • How do I best get into my creative flow?
  • How can I honor my creative vision of this story and still meet the needs of my genre?
YOUR TURN

What other HOW questions can you come up with that will help you with your writing, editing, or promotions?

Share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!
***

ABOUT BETH BARANY

Hi! I’m Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers.

Through my courses, programs, workshops and consultations, I specialize in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

All my courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. I run an online school for fiction writers here and a 12-month group coaching program to help novelists get published here. I also offer consultations for writers here.

The post How is the Question by Beth Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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We may be wired for story, but we often don’t understand its structure or how a story is put together.

The good news is story lives in us unconsciously. The other good news is that we can learn the components of story structure and then apply it to our creative process. Learning story structure is one of the essential building blocks of craft.

Since one of the profound purposes of stories is to allow readers to safely test out possibilities, let’s give them a great ride.

There are lots of story structure models. In this course, we’ll cover five story models, so that you can:

Have more choice in how you plan your stories.

When you understand the building blocks of story, you can have more flexibility in how plan, craft, and edit your stories.

Decide what happens next in your story with your character and plot.

Stories are told in an organic sequence, organic to story and also to your individual story. Readers may not consciously know what’s missing, but they will know when we’ve forgotten or skipped a step, and that will throw them out of the story.

Surprise the reader.

Readers want the same but different. Agents and editors too!

Gain clarity, purpose, and confidence.

Step outside yourself and your story so that you can plan better (if you plan your stories) and can edit better.

Make a personal story road map.

When you understand story arc, character change, and the external circumstances that spark that change, then you can break story structure on purpose. The old “know the rules so you can break them” adage.

In this course, we’ll cover the building blocks of story from several different perspectives, discuss why each is useful, and brainstorm how they can help you plan or edit your story.

You’ll also have an opportunity to share your story’s structure and look at your stories in a new light. This may help you make improvements or come up with new stories.

The story structures we’ll cover include:

  • The Three-Act Structure
  • The Hero’s Journey
  • The Virgin Archetypal Journey
  • The 5-Point Plot Structure
  • The Five Commandments of Storytelling

Hope to see you there with your creativity, curiosity, and plenty of ink.

SIGN UP HERE

http://www.oirwa.com/forum/outreach-international-online-workshops-registration-form/

Class listing: http://www.oirwa.com/forum/campus/#MAY

*Scroll past the first course to see this course listing.

ABOUT BETH BARANY: YOUR INSTRUCTOR

Hi! I’m Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist, master neurolinguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers.

Through my courses, programs, workshops and consultations, I specialize in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.

All my courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. I run an online school for fiction writers here and a 12-month group coaching program to help novelists get published here. I also offer consultations for writers here.

The post We may be wired for story, but do we know how stories are structured? by Beth Barany appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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Let’s welcome back monthly columnist, editor, and novelist, Kay Keppler, as she shares with us “Evoke Reader Emotions.” Enjoy! 

***

Beginning a story—before you write the first word—can sometimes be made a lot simpler if you think of how you want to end it.

What do you want your readers to get from your story—and not just about plot.

What kind of story are you writing, and how do you want your readers to feel when they finish it? How do you want them to remember your work?

What’s Your Story?

Are you writing a romance, mystery, or memoir? Or perhaps a literary novel, self-help book, or children’s story? At the end of it, do you want your readers to be happy, sad, or nostalgic?

Do you want them to feel hopeful and determined, or disillusioned and betrayed? They’ll remember as much about how they felt about your book as the details of the plot you developed.

Figuring out how you want your readers to feel can improve your plotting. Everything you include in your plot should lead to this emotion in some way.



Evoke the Emotions of Your Tale

How can you elicit the emotions that you want from your readers? Here are six things you can try.

1. Your protagonist should lead the way.

How does your character’s arc lead to the emotion you want to evoke at the end of your story?

Plan her path, and stick to it.

Build her hopes and expectations so that you can either fulfill or dash them at the end.

Use her actions, dialogue, and body language to show how she goes after what she wants.

How does she overcome (or not) the antagonist or her inner demons?

2. Secondary characters reinforce your themes and motifs.

If your protagonist opposes the new factory because it will destroy the meadow, have another character promote the progress and new jobs it will create.

Show the residents who will have to relocate.

Show new people moving in.

What is destroyed besides the meadow?

Perhaps a way of life, or the town’s backbone agrarian population.

Tie all your threads to the ending emotion you want to create.

3. Symbols and scenery can foreshadow events.

Don’t go crazy with this, because who hasn’t read a story where a pending storm signals a big change to come?

Or a pocket watch illustrates the passage of time or a looming deadline?

But writers use these techniques because they work.

A character who grew up under the big sky of a western ranch will feel a lot differently if he’s transplanted to New York City.

How can you use scenery or symbols as shorthand for the tensions of your characters that can build emotions for your readers?

4. Single words or phrases in dialogue carry weight.

A single word or phrase can echo across chapters and live on in the reader’s mind.

A character may say something that seems innocuous, but pays off with great impact at a later date.

Or perhaps a single word or phrase is used throughout to convey in shorthand an event or emotion that the other characters—and readers—can relate to.

5. Evocative names mirror setting and character attributes.

Pick obvious, subtle, ironic, or humorous names for characters and places that reflect the emotion you want to evoke in your readers.

Charles Dickens was a master at creating colorful names that displayed the qualities of his characters—think Mr. Sloppy, Sweedlepipe, Bumble, Scrooge, and Toodle.

Just as your secondary characters can reinforce your themes and motifs, each name choice can reflect facets of your story that build to create the emotions you want.

6. Your opening paragraphs set the tone for your ending.

The first lines of your book establish what follows.

They are a promise to your readers—of the kind of story they have in their hands, who’s important, what will happen, and how it will unfold.

Your ending should echo the tone and the picture you painted in the beginning.

That brings the narrative full circle for your readers by reinforcing the emotions you created from the start.

Giving Readers the Emotional Experience They Want

People often express their book preferences by saying they want to read “a James Patterson” or “a Nora Roberts.” What they’re saying is that their favorite authors can reliably deliver the emotional experience they’ve come to enjoy.

Being able to evoke emotions in readers is probably more complex than creating a spine-tingling plot. But if you can master that craft, your readers will stick with you for a lifetime.



***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kay Keppler is an author Zero Gravity Outcasts, Betting on HopeGargoyle: Three Enchanting Romance Novellas, and editor of fiction and nonfiction –Angel’s Kiss and Outsource It!

She lives in northern California. Contact her here at Writer’s Fun Zone in the comments below, or at kaykeppler@yahoo.com to ask questions, suggest topics, or if you prefer, complain.

The post Evoke Reader Emotions by Kay Keppler appeared first on Writer's Fun Zone.

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