Another Block Party tip on writing.
An interesting discussion on romance in fantasy.
LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING
The song “Love Changes Everything,” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Aspects of Love,” recently came on my iTunes playlist, and one of the verses really got me thinking about the place romantic relationships hold in fantasy literature: and by this, I mean more traditional fantasy, with sorcerers, mages, elves, dwarfs, witches, dragons, and the like. Urban fantasy with its vampires and werewolves is fine, but I don’t read it, and I’m aware the focus of these stories is often romance (thinking of “Twilight,” for instance.) I’m thinking about fantasy along the lines of “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings,” where love is NOT the major plotline. Here’s the verse that stuck with me:
Love, love changes everything:
Days are longer, words mean more.
Love, love changes everything:
Pain is deeper than before.
Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever.
Yes love, love…
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🙂 Interesting. Subplots can be useful but they can get confusing and overwhelm the main plot or simply get lost.
Today–continuing on the topic of content edits in fiction–I want to talk about subplots. About balance between subplots. It’s SOOO hard to do. It’s hard because each subplot has its own tone, mood, and theme. Each also has its own pacing.
Ideally these tones, moods, and themes, as well as pacing, will differ somewhat from the major plot arc and from each other. After all, variety is a large part of what makes a novel readable.
Each subplot brings a different focus and different approach that ideally blend in with the rest of the work without diluting it.
Perhaps “blend” gives the wrong image, though.
You don’t want a smoothie of a novel…. A good smoothie has no variety. It’s uniform throughout. While you want uniform quality, that’s different.
The fact is, good novels blend by striation. A good novel is a trifle.
You want a TRIFLE of a…
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Another view on the writing tips and advice.
This is Day 7 of the Indie Block Party Blog Hop, where participants would be sharing writing tips with newbie writers. Here are some things you can keep in mind.
Attempt first, ask later. I had one writing newbie approach a writing group I’m part of and say: “I have 4-5 lines worth of a story idea. How can I write a book with it?” You can’t. It doesn’t work that way. Put whatever you got to put on paper, even if it means you have a raw, unedited script as the outcome. Others cannot get into your head and write your story for you.
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Good advice here, some of which echoes mine, some doesn’t. Be a person as well as a salesperson.
This is Day 8 of the Indie Block Party Blog Hop, where participants would be sharing tips for newbie writers on using social media and networking to build awareness about their brands. Here are some things you can keep in mind.
Be everywhere. If this sounds like a no-brainer, think of it: how many social media platforms are you already on? How many do you think you can be on and maintain a conversation with your followers? Whatever you can stretch to, it’s a lot lesser than what’s required. And it’s a lot more difficult than you can imagine. So, set some realistic goals on where you want to be and gradually build up your presence.
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Some months ago I was approached by a fellow Goodreads author who was planning a charity anthology of dark fiction, fantasy, horror and poetry based around a summer theme. As it happened the charity initially chosen did not work out so now the royalties are to be donated to http://www.bliss.org.uk/ which is a charity dedicated to supporting premature babies and their families.
Many babies are born too early. I was, as was another family member and although we have not suffered any serious long term effects many tiny babies can be extremely poorly. Not to mention the stress and anguish suffered by the families of these wee tots. Bliss is a charity which provides support for families, including literature and publications, support groups and fund raising.
So that is the charity what is my addition to the book? The Tale of Treyna the Beloved is a short fantasy fairy tale of love, betrayal and revenge. When a god loves a mortal it rarely ends well, especially if she is coveted by another.
There should be something for everyone in this collection, horror, fantasy, romance, poetry so please take a look and spread the word. I believe it should be appearing on Kindle shortly.
Good Reads Book Page http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18395855-no-sleeves-and-short-dresses
Authors included in this work:
Sharon Atkinson – poet http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3120472.Sharon_Atkinson
Alexandra Butcher (me) – Dark fantasy/fantasy romance http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.Alexandra_Butcher
Mark Mackey – Horror and fantasy http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4901919.Mark_Mackey
Christine Steendam – Sci Fi, Historical Fiction http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6922181.Christine_Steendam
S. Cu’anam Policar – YA, Fantasy Paranormal http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126980.S_Cu_Anam_Policar
Trisha Jones – Horror http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6525111.Trisha_Jones
Social networking is important to authors, especially indies, for the World Wide Web gives a reach further than ever before. However such a beast should be treated with caution, for it has teeth and may bite back. It is useful to remember what is posted on the internet stays on the internet.
Listed below are some examples of the good and bad behaviour when dealing with social media, and suggestions of what might and might not work for you.
Spam. No one likes spam, well except Monty Python. There are many ways to promote a book online, but don’t overdo it. I made this mistake shortly after I released my first book but learned quickly form my mistake. Of course you want people to know about your shiny book, and preferably buy it but it is easy to look like a pain in the arse. BUY MY BOOK in every statement on every group on Facebook and people will soon switch off. It is a difficult to know how much is too much, but think about this – how do YOU feel when you see people trying to sell you things all the time? Check the forum/group rules before posting up promo and try and interact.
Share. Share articles, blog posts (hint) and advice. Listen to advice as well as take it. Some people find something which works for them, many don’t but often just chatting with other authors can provide enlightenment. Other writers do not have to be rivals, the market is VERY large. If you have the time to join events then they are a good way to meet writers and readers.
Facebook. This CAN be useful, there are more groups about writing, reading and books than I thought possible. As with most things some are better than other, (see below). Many let authors promote, many such as Unblocked Writers Group only allow promotion on specific days, which means on the other days the processes of writing (plus many other things) are discussed. There is a lot of useful advice. (See sharing above)
Authors Helping Authors is another good group, again promo is limited but does vary. Facebook pages, Goodreads listopia, books, freepost weekend, but again there are a lot of useful articles and support.
There are plenty of promotional groups too, which tend to be free for all. I am lazy, I rarely scroll down to the lower posts so if they are just pages of spam (funny image) then I tend to switch off. Promo interspersed with other articles is more likely to catch my attention. Try and alternate your promotion. Saying the same thing on 50 websites probably won’t help.
I HAVE bought books from Facebook promotions and I have also sold a few that way. It can work but it really depends on audience and manner of promoting. There are also paid ads, although how successful these might be I cannot comment. It is certainly worth getting an author page of some sort there.
Goodreads. I like Goodreads, I spend far too much time there. It is primarily a group for READERS and this needs to be taken into account. There are plenty of readers who will object to having an author’s book shoved under their nose. Authors can get an author account, which allows for a blog, limited librarian status as regards adding your own books to the substantial database and, I believe there are paid for ads there too.
As with Facebook, be careful. A lot of the groups don’t allow any sort of author promotion and those that do usually ask authors stick to the relevant threads. Readers can shelve books, and of course there are reviews. The reviews permissible are …wider than Amazon and as long as they don’t breach guidelines then anything goes, which is not always a good thing, but it does allow for a wide ranging mix of reviews and a lot of Goodreads folk review. There are groups for read and reviews, recommendations, Book of the Month, Author of the Week etc. so can be useful for promotion as well as finding other authors to hang out with and readers. I found Book of the Month particular useful, both as an author and a reader.
Interviews/Guest posts. These can be a lot of fun and a good way to meet new authors. A lot of bloggers run these and blog hops are popular. Spend some time on the answers and vary them, no one wants to read the same interview on seven different blogs. Running interviews on your own blog can be worthwhile as well. New fans, new followers and widening your network is never a bad thing. I have to say before I started running author interviews I wasn’t really that bothered about the authors themselves. It can bring an author closer to the reader, of course, this can back fire. If the author sounds an utter arse or dull as dishwater then they won’t do themselves any favours. I now find I like to read the interviews.
Blogging. My blog is fairly new and I was hesitant to get one as I spend too much time online as it is, I also wasn’t sure what to write. As mentioned earlier it is not just about the book, a blog is an aspect of the writer, another side if you like and a good way of getting followers who may then check out the books. It is good writing practice and the research needed for articles can be most helpful.
Blogs can provide all sorts of opportunities and although some time is needed to maintain them that is time well spent. I have found new contacts, written articles I would not have considered before and found useful links.
I have noticed, far more people look at the reviews, reader interviews and non-promo posts than the promo-related ones.
Vary your networking, no one social networking site covers all eventualities. Each is useful in its own way but together they are more powerful and will reach a larger audience.
Don’t post anything you might later regret. Whilst it is tempting to rant about that reviewer leaving you a one star review, your boss, your neighbour or whatever often it will backfire. For writers we are judged not only by the books we write but our interaction with others. Bloggers and social networkers share posts and articles and what is said in anger could soon be all over the internet.
You get out what you put in. This is obvious, if you have a blog and never post people will stop following you. If you only go online to spam then you are likely to alienate people. Mixing and matching is a fun game to play.
Do not feed the trolls. Trolls are there and love to be fed. Some people thrive on making nasty comments or winding others up to do so. Ignore them.
Find two or three networks which suit you. Spread yourself too thinly and either you will spend all your time networking and no time writing or one post every three months won’t do you much good. Less is more.
Useful sites, blog posts and links:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/authorsHA/ Authors Helping Authors.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/244350892612/ Unblocked Writers Group.
- Indie Block Party – Post 8 – Social Media & Networking Tips (sydneyaaliyah.com)
- Social Media for Authors: How to Use them (angelinadayan.com)
- Social Media Doesn’t Have to be Hard. 8 Tips to Get You Started (pegfitzpatrick.com)
- 10 useful tips for better use of social networks (part 1) (fieldoo.com)
- How to Build a good Social Media Marketing campaign??? (xpresswebmarketing.wordpress.com)
This week focuses more on sharing advice and resources than actively promoting our own books. Hopefully we can all learn from these tips and find useful links and suggestions. Most of the authors I meet are a supportive and helpful lot, which is just as well as writing itself can be quite lonely and frustrating. I have learned a great deal, and made new friends within the writing community. Shared information is valuable, knowledge is power.
Share your most helpful writing tips and advice. What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started writing?
New writers are given an awful lot of information, much of it contradictory and it is very difficult to know the good advice from the bad. Experience is a great teacher!
Here are my top 6 tips:
1) Keep writing. This is seems to be consistent advice from all the sources I have seen. A single book is great but it is hard to build a fan base with just one title and if readers like your work they may well look out for other articles and stories. I do as a reader. As your writing experience grows you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Write for anthologies, write for your blog or someone else’s or write for research. Yahoo Voices have many interesting blog-type articles and it is a way to build a fan base. Researching for your novel? Great, use that research to help others. There are lots of anthologies looking for submissions (see links below) and some pay, although some don’t. Even the free ones are useful in getting your name out there and are writing practice.
2) Have a thick skin, you will need it. There will ALWAYS be someone who doesn’t like your book, will be offended by it, hate the characters or simply not get it. We do not all like the same things, if we did the world would be boring indeed. Bad reviews hurt, but most books have at least one and unless the reviewer has a personal issue with the author (which occasionally happens) then it is one opinion. Reviews are just that – opinions, which can be as varied as the books they discuss.
No writer likes to be told their book sucks and it can be hard to deal with. One of the best pieces of advice is don’t comment, or if you feel you must then be polite, thank the reviewer for their comments and move on. Commenting, especially negatively will do far more harm, go and rant to your best friend, yell at the wall, go for a walk and release that is one person’s opinion only. The next reviewer may love the book. Even negative reviews, except the spiteful ones, have useful advice.
It is hard to work out how much store readers put on reviews, many do look and most simply filter out those which either say nothing or the obviously spiteful or overly gushing ones, but in a couple of studies I have done reviews are surprisingly low on the scale. A good cover, a synopsis which pulls in the reader and recommendations from friends seem more important. If the book is selling don’t worry too much.
3) Write the book you want to write. Now I am sure other writers might disagree with this tip but not all. Forcing a story to work, editing out important plot ideas or making characters do something they wouldn’t do may well make the story weaker. Write the book YOU want to read. Would you enjoy it? If the answer is yes then go with it. A forced plot will show itself to be just that. It may depend on whether you are intending to self-publish or whether you are intending to submit to a publishing house of course and whether you intend to get an editor.
4) Write the best book you can. No book is perfect. Even best sellers have typos which slip through, weak plots or naff characters. However if you are an indie the threshold seems to be higher…there are plenty of posts and threads berating indie self-published books as being substandard. In some cases this is true, we have all seen them but there are very many books which are great, yes some may be a little rough around the edges but the good stories and talent are out there. There are plenty of traditionally published books which are awful. That said releasing a book full of typos, terrible grammar and weak plot/characters is not advisable. Spellcheckers are useful, but invest in a dictionary, a thesaurus and a writing guide. If you can find beta readers or critique groups then do so.
If you decide to self-edit then put the manuscript aside for a while and write (or read) something new. You will see the work with fresher eyes. I know from experience I see what I think is there not what IS there. If you can afford an editor then it is advisable to consider it, but there are great books which have been self-edited. If you choose this route be thorough, it may take several passes through. Although earlier I said write the book YOU want you do need to be strict when editing. It is easy to get carried away and go off on a tangent. Does the scene add to the story/characterisation/world-building? No – then lose it.
5) Research and plausibility. This is rather dependent on genre of course but willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Fantasy gives a lot of scope, especially magic but it still needs to be consistent. Research gives the writer credibility, if you say something works which we KNOW doesn’t work in that way then at the least back it up in the story with some plausibility, or better still find something which people know does work that way. Gravity is gravity. Research medieval battle, weapons and armour, field medicine, herb-lore and such like if you are planning a fight. Movie fight scenes look great visually but aren’t really that accurate. What damage DOES a long sword do? What IS the range of a long bow. You needn’t go into too much detail in the book, but knowing if your archer can hit that bad-guy lurking in the Dark-lord’s tower is helpful. Books can educate, and encourage people to research for themselves, especially if set in a certain time period but accuracy is the key. Of course many readers won’t go on to research or have any interest in the origins of the long bow, the war horse but some might. Besides research is great, it is amazing what you can discover!
6) READ THE DAMN MANUAL! Really I mean it. Spend a bit of time not only reading writing guides but the FAQ of KDP, Smashwords, Lulu or wherever it is you choose to publish. It will make life a lot easier. There are several free books available – ‘Publish your work on Kindle’, ‘How to Publish on Smashwords’ for example. Most of the sites have extensive guidelines and forums. That is another thing most people have struggled with whatever it is you are struggling with so search the forums for answers. You are now a business person as well as a writer and it helps to know what to do.
What do I wish I had known at the beginning? Marketing is HARD. Where is the line between being a spammy needy author and promoting in such a way that people will check out your books and not be annoyed? Well that depends on who you ask…some people hate any mention of the product, some don’t mind a small amount and some say as much as you can do is the way to go. If I find the right level I will let you know.
- Writing Tips A-Z (princessofthelight.wordpress.com)
- Other indie block party posts: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/indie-block-party/
A fellow Indie Block Party member’s fav books.