Building Your #Writer’s #Brand – Sound Advice from E. Denise Billups

Writing can be easy…and hard.  The easy part is jotting down all the wonderful story ideas that float in our heads.  The harder part comes with editing and getting the finish product before the masses. Knowing what to do or how to do it can be frustrating.  But with great advice on brand building from fellow writers like E. Denise Billups, how can we ever fail.

E. Denise Billups, Writer

Indie authors are jack-of-all-trades. Not only are they writers, but also promoters and marketers of their finished product. This for most writers is difficult and for some an afterthought. Before you finish your book, you should have a well-defined marketing plan established and the first step is to create a mission statement.

In simple terms, a mission statement is short, concise sentence or paragraph describing your business and purpose (who you are, what you do, and your purpose or goals). This single statement is your marketing message, disseminating your brand, and the writer’s guide to reaching his/her ultimate goals.

Most people believe a mission statement is for major corporations or nonprofit organizations but for anyone building a brand whether you’re a painter, architect or writer, a mission statement is a crucial piece to crafting your image. For indie or traditionally published authors, a mission statement conveys your passion, your expertise, and…

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Short #Story vs. The #Novel

The best things come in big packages, right?  What about the small ones?

When it comes to short story versus novel, the perspective on which is better is best decided by the reader.  Each has its strong points and drawbacks.  However, for a writer, the decision may be based on focus, time, and desire.

For those choosing the shorter route, K. M. Pohlkamp has practical tips on writing a great short story.

K.M. Pohlkamp - Author Website

The obvious difference between a short story and a novel is well, a short story is shorter. That profound statement did not require a degree in rocket science.

And with a shorter word count, short stories must be easier, right?

There is no hard rule, but as a general frame of reference: a short story is between 1,000 to 20,000 words, but most short stories are between 3,000 and 5,000 words. A novel is anything greater than ~55,000 words.

Having just completed a draft of a short story myself, I’d argue a short story takes less time, but not less skill or thought. Short stories simply require a different approach.

In fact, I think the challenge with short stories is the word count. This provides limited space to intrigue the reader, introduce characters, provide concept of their world, and overcome a dilemma.

How can so much be accomplished in…

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11 Steps for #Writing the Perfect Scene

Ever have a great scene in your head, but when you write it all down, it seems flat?  I’ve certainly been there.  It can be frustrating to visualize everything, and even come up with a bunch of eloquent words that do absolutely nothing for the story.

A writer can show and tell all they want.  But when a story feels dull, chances are the book will be placed on a shelf or table to collect dust.  I certainly don’t want that.  So I enlisted the trusty assistance of Google to help me figure out how to improve my scene.

Lucky enough, I found Continue reading “11 Steps for #Writing the Perfect Scene”

#Novel Planning Part II: Different Ways to #Plan a Novel

Just like Juliana Rose, many writers (including myself) attempt to find ways to better organize their story ideas.  When I started my first novel, my method of planning was pantsing. I figured I could take the story as it popped out in my head and everything would turn out great.

Wrong!

I completed the first draft, which was a wonderful accomplishment, but editing was a nightmare (one of the reasons I shelved it). For example, I’d referenced events and people late in the story without mentioning them earlier. A reader would definitely be confused. Plus it’s harder to keep track of all the details without noting them somewhere or rereading tons of pages.

So I decided to roll with a modified outline as my planning method. Instead of bullet points and lists, I write Chapter 1 and place a check box in front of it.  Then I create a summation of the chapter.  Usually 2 or 3 sentences, but could be a fuller paragraph. Below is an example.

[X] Chapter 1 – Mary, a shepherd’s daughter, becomes attached to one of the lambs in her father’s flock. She’s the only one who can make his wool as white as snow.  Because of this, Mary is approached by a laundry detergent company to appear in ads. While Mary is excited about the opportunity, she fears leaving her country roots behind.

[ ] Chapter 2 – Mary talks to her father about the job. He encourages her to go for it.

[ ] Chapter 3 – Mary does the commercial, but the lamb won’t cooperate. They are at odds because she is fired.

As I complete each chapter, I check it off and move on to the next. Using this method helps me with plot holes, ensuring story flow, and helps with tasks like book blurbs, etc. It’s also a good way to make sure you meet the goal of the chapter.

Photo: bluestar_tam Frantic writing via photopin (license)

Juliana Rose

Planning Plans

Before you plan, you have to make a plan for planning. Whew.

I’m going to be honest: none of these have worked well for me. In my next post I’ll explain what I actually do, but I want to talk briefly about these planning methods because everybody’s different, and maybe for you they’re just the thing.

The snowball method: Basically you start off with a good, one-sentence summary of what your novel is about. Then you expand it into a paragraph, then two paragraphs, and you get the idea.

Why it doesn’t work for me: I need things in order. This is less about planning, and more about writing and getting started. This method doesn’t have enough planning for me, and I have the problem of tying my own plot in knots and getting stuck without knowing where to go. Basically, with this method I still feel like…

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What’s in a Name? Choose #Character Names Carefully

photopin_25563085275_efcc3aae49_cMany of these wonderful tips I use.  In addition, I keep a log of names that come to mind so that when I write, I have something to choose from.  I’ll look up the definitions to see if it fits the type of character I’m creating.

Photo: Typography via photopin (license)

A New Fiction Writers Forum

Elmore Leonard once told a story about the difficulty he was having with one of his characters. He just couldn’t get the character right and it frustrated him. Then he realized what the problem was. The character had the wrong name. He thought hard about it and renamed the character and then the character came alive for him.

Character names matter and writers should consider carefully the names they give to their characters. A character’s name evokes an image in the mind of the reader. A character named Bruiser gives the reader a different picture than one named Bartholomew.  A character’s name must be consistent with her background and the time period in which the story takes place.

Here are some tips in coming up with strong character names:

  • Make it easy to pronounce. A character named Zbsyskrksi will stop the reader dead every time.
  • Avoid generic names. A character…

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How to Create Your Own Fake Town

Great questions to consider for creating new towns or using actual ones.  For most of my works, the name of the towns/cities are fictional, but the history behind them is a collaboration of places I’ve lived or visited.

Scott Tracey - Young Adult Writer

So one of the things I’m a fan of in novels is the “fake town.”  Also known as the “fictional city,” the “imaginary inlet,” or the “hypothetical hot spot.”  Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks of them like that?  Ahem.  Okay, moving on.

So what’s the point of crafting your own town to set the story in, versus using an established city.   I think the main benefit is the ease with which you can write.  If you use an established city, then you’re expected to do more research.  But if you create your own town, you can just make it all up as you go.  Now there are pros and cons to this.ptaerial

The pros are obvious:  you can build up the town however you like, and whatever’s going to make your job easier.  It has whatever history you want it to have.  Who cares if there’s not…

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#Writing Your Book–Getting Started

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This is wonderful advice that can save a lot of time and headache.

The Daily Practice

I’ve been asked a lot lately about how to get started writing a book. Writing a book may seem to be mystical and magical, but there’s actually a process, or can be. These are some tips I offer to writers who are having trouble getting started.

Decide Why You Are Writing

Are you writing a romance novel, an autobiography or a how-to book? It is important for you to know your ultimate writing goal. Do you only intend to write short ebooks on some technical skill? Is your full-length book intended to be part of a series of books? If you are writing in the personal development genre, do you intend to build a business around your book? It is important to know these things because they could have an impact on the content of your book, It doesn’t hurt to spend some time studying your particular genre. If you are writing romance, it…

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