Thursday, March 26, 2015
Rules about creative pursuits are slippery.
Just today I read a post from a young writer saying she didn't realize there were rules when she started and another from a veteran writer saying ignore the rules and write your heart out.
There are rules for spelling and grammar that need to be understood and adhered to or our writing would be unintelligible.
There are genre expectations that readers have. Sometimes those expectations can be turned on their heads for great effect, BUT that sort of thing is best done by someone who totally understands the genre. A mystery must be solved. The killer must be caught. The price of magic should be dire. The question put forward in the beginning of the story must be answered by the end.
All the rules put forth by advice books are mostly reminders to write as cleanly and clearly as possible. The war on adverbs fascinates me. I have a friend who cannot abide the use of the word just. Absorb that advice but don't let it inhibit your writing. Let it steer you to more careful and efficient use of language. We all have a word or phrase that we overuse. Be aware of your own bad habits and clean them up in the second draft.
To me, it all comes down to learning to be a competent storyteller. Once you understand the flow that a story needs to draw the reader along, you've learned all the rules you need. Then there is the presentation of that story which is a craft that should be constantly evolving.
Read, write, repeat. Reading in and out of your genre helps you pick up techniques to improve your own work. Writing is practice and every time you build a story you get better at it. Keep learning, keep an open mind and your skill will grow.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
I have made a mess on Twitter. Luckily, I have so few followers, no one will notice.
I joined a site that offered help with social media. It said to use a specific hashtag and all the other members of the site would retweet your message. Sounds great. What goes around, comes around, right? So I found a retweeting service and dropped in that hashtag. Right away I started getting lots of thank yous for the retweeting. However, I didn't seem to be getting that many retweets of my own messages.
Then I read an article where a man said he checked the feed before following anyone on Twitter, and if it was just a run of Buy My Book tweets, he passed. I agreed. I hate seeing that stuff myself. But it made me wonder what my feed looked like. I was horrified when I checked.
My Twitter feed was a long list of authors crying Buy My Book! People I didn't know selling books I'd never seen. Yikes. It was like I was standing on a street corner shilling whatever a passerby handed me. That was not what I wanted people to see when they checked me out on Twitter.
So I turned off the automatic retweet.
Then I thought about how people say to have a conversation. Hmm. Where are these conversations? When I look at my Twitter home page it rarely has anything resembling a conversation. I was obviously looking in the wrong place.
I bit the bullet and signed up for TweetDeck. Eureka! I think I have found the conversations.
When I started following people on Twitter I put everyone I followed in a list, as had been suggested by a number of articles. Tweetdeck can give me a feed of each list. And that allows me to finally make some sense out of the barrage of tweets.
It also showed me the life of a tweet...not even a second? Tweets fly by so fast I can't even read who's sending them. Wow. I need to rethink and rework how I approach my tweeting.
Please leave any suggestions, tricks or gaffs in the comments.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
I am experimenting with Story Cartel for Dark Deeds. It's a great set up for readers and authors. You can get any book on the site for free with the request that you give it an honest review.
You can get Dark Deeds HERE
Reviews are so important for authors. Not only do they help readers decide to purchase, they are a requirement for some advertising. A few of the better sites require a certain number of reviews at a certain average. For example - 5 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5 star average.
For new authors getting reviews is difficult. I have sold about 40 ebooks of Lethal Seasons and I have 1 review on Amazon. There are a few more reviews on other sites, but for some advertisers only Amazon counts.
I've had friends balk at giving a review. "I loved the book, but I don't know what to say."
It isn't a book report, so get that childhood trauma right out of your head. A rehashing of the plot isn't what people want to see. As a reader, I want to hear about pacing and characters. Other people notice different things. I once got a review that said my sentences were too short.
A few lines about how you feel about the story is best.
"A face-paced story that had me on the edge of my seat."
"The pace plodded and I lost track of the characters."
"Loved the hero in the beginning, but he turned out to be a wimp."
"The side-kicks were hilarious. I want to see more of them."
As an author, hearing feedback like that might influence my next book. I don't write for the critics that will give me a finely honed review on all the nuances (or lack there of) in the story. I write for people who tell me they love the characters and want to visit with them again.
My favorite review so far is only 2 words: "So good." I wish s/he'd written a bit more. It would be great to know which parts they liked best, or least. But I am thankful s/he took the time to write a comment.
The next time you finish a story, remember to review it where you bought it!