Writing Wednesday: After Writing

You’re a writer because your head is full of stories that you need to tell. If you have the self discipline to keep writing, you eventually end up with a first draft.

Writing

You put it away to get some perspective and come back and edit it to death. If you’re not going to chase agents and publishers, you decide to self publish. That means you’re responsible for everything.

I quite enjoy editing. I’ve written before about writing, how it’s art and craft: the first draft is the art, after that it’s craft. The craft involves editing, critique partners, an editor, beta readers and all sorts. Whatever help you use, eventually the novel is finished. What happens after the writing?

Finish

That’s where I am now, and although it’s exciting, it’s driving me mad! There are already the starts of three further novels in the series, and I want to write. But, as Michelle Mason Evans says, ‘You can’t sell a secret.’

The book needs a cover (ordered), a blurb (done), a media kit (almost done). Then it will need uploading to Kindle and Create Space, and promoting like mad. I want to make a better job of it this time, as I have experience and more good advice. Social media and blogging can be fun, but you’ve got to put the work in, and I WANT TO WRITE.

That is the hardest balance to find: between the writing and the promotion. There’s no point writing a book that nobody reads, and no one will read it if they don’t know it exists. You need to be on social media, you need a ‘platform’, which I’ve written about and have some notes on – which are free when you sign up to my mailing list. I’ve also written about platform automation, which is great, but you do have to set it all up and monitor it.

One of the important things, which I’ve neglected before, is reviews. I’ve asked friends to review my books, and some of them have, but it’s not enough by a long way. Readers judge books by the reviews, so you need a lot. I’m reading up on guides on how to get reviews and searching the internet for sites that might help me (but I’ve been told never to pay for reviews).

After a while you may gather a lot of followers, friends etc. on the various social media platforms, but if you make genuine connections with people with similar interests, they can promote your book to all their followers. Then you do the same for them. Not only do you reach more people, but you come recommended.

BUT it all takes work, and time, which you have to commit yourself to. All these things come after writing, if you want your book to be a success.

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Thinking Thursday: Who Do You ‘Like’?

Who do you ‘Like’? Facebook Like

In the days before Facebook, you decided if you liked someone only after you had met them, or at least had some communication with them. To say you liked a person was to say that you had had time to get to know them a little, and found their company pleasant and enjoyable. Liking was a step on the road to friendship, the sign of a developing relationship.

Today, on Facebook, you can ‘Like’ people and organisations that you’ve never met or even heard of before. So what does a ‘Like’ mean?

Facebook Friends

Why do you ‘Like’ or ‘Friend’ someone online? Does it mean you’re curious about them? You want to get to know them better? Or are you just collecting numbers? Do you want to have more Facebook friends than your real friends?

What about Jesus? It’s comforting to think of him as our friend, but Jesus doesn’t ask us to like him, be friends with him or to +1 him, but to follow him. It’s not the same thing at all.

He who is not with me is against me. (Matt.12:30)

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matt.10:37)

These statements of Jesus are very strong, they’re meant to shock, to make people stop and think. It’s no good telling Jesus that you think he’s a good bloke, that you’re interested in what he’s doing or that you applaud his philosophy. You have to give him everything. You have to make him the most important thing in your life.

After all, he gave everything for you.

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Writing Wednesday: 2015 Writing Roundup

Before we get too far into 2016 I thought it would be good to do a recap on the writing posts for last year. They fall into four categories: writing advice, advice from other authors, advice about post-writing topics, and book reviews. I hope you find some posts here that maybe you missed last year, or you’ve forgotten.

Writing Advice

Overcome Procrastination
What a Stroke Taught Me About Focus
Seize the Day
Write What You Know
One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison
It Starts With an Idea
Inspiration and Perspiration
6 Things Newbie Writers Shouldn’t Do
Writing Layers
Making the Cut – Editing

Advice from Other Authors

Writing Historical Fiction [Phil Carradice]
Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Historical Fiction
To Make a Short Story Long
Creating Characters
Stephen King on Reference Books
Owen Sheers Forgetting

Advice About Post-Writing Topics

Platform Automation – It Works By Itself!
Why I’m not looking for a publisher
Why Every Writer Needs a Media Kit
Print On Demand
How to Run a Book Launch
The Importance of Book Reviews
Formatting Print vs Ebook
Promotion for Authors

Book Reviews

Review of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide
Review of Getting Into Character
Author, Publisher Entrepreneur Review
Review of David Baboulene’s Story Theory Books
Review of The First Five Pages
Review of Writer’s Doubt

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Thinking Thursday: Accused [my poetry]

Book

The line of the accused stretched off into the mist,
the clerk of the court was working through his list.
To each of the accused he gave a big fat file,
“Read your charges to save time, ” he said with a smile.

As they read, some people wept, some groaned and some stared,
this was not what they’d expected, they weren’t prepared.
“Where’s the angels and the harps and the life of bliss?
I want my friends and family, I don’t want this.”

They all looked through their files with dismay and despair,
as they saw all their thoughts and their actions laid bare,
and they knew they were guilty and saw on each face
they had lived without God and in heav’n had no place.

But sometimes came someone who didn’t have a file,
the clerk gave them a slip of paper with a smile.
The people crowded around the paper to see.
It was signed, ‘Christ’ and said, “This one belongs to me. ”

When the turn came for them to be judged by the court,
the judge looked at the slip and said, “This one is bought.
There is no case to answer, this one can go on
to receive their reward that was bought by my Son.”

When you find at last you have reached that final state,
despite your good intentions it will be too late.
The file that stands against you with the charges made:
They have to be answered and they have to be paid.

You know you can’t do it but there’s a hope speaks true:
Jesus paid the price so it wouldn’t fall on you.
You need to face the truth now while time still remains:
Surrender to Jesus and be cleansed by his pains.

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Writing Wednesday: Writing Layers–Structure

As I learned and grew as a writer, I went back over and over my novel to add more layers to it. In this series I’m writing about each of my ‘layers’ in the hope it will help someone who is starting out. This week we finish by looking at structure.

bamboo-scaffolding-01

Of course, structure is really the foundation of the novel, on which all of the other layers are built.  The reason I’ve only mentioned it now, at the end of my series, is because it has just jumped up and demanded my attention.

My first science fiction novel was finished, edited and polished. I sent it out to beta readers with instructions to mark wherever their reading was interrupted by a problem, and a list of questions to answer afterwards. Two of the things highlighted were structural problems.

One of my subplots was interfering with the main action, and there was a major problem with my ending that I didn’t know how to fix. When you live with a book for a long time, you get too close to see it objectively. I hadn’t even noticed the problems, it took my beta readers to see them.

Maybe that’s because I have grown the novel in these layers that I’m writing about. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t planned at all! The planning I’ve done has all been later on, trying to sort the novel out. (In case you’re wondering, I did work out how to fix the problems.)

There are lots of schemes for how to structure your novel. The favourite is the Three Act Structure, like a play. In Act One you put the start of the excitement and end with a major setback or crisis. In Act Two there are one or more setbacks. In Act Three the hero overcomes the final do-or-die crisis and the story is resolved.

Obviously, there’s more to it than that. For more help, you could try Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method, David Baboulene’s method, or Shanan Haislip’s 4D’s.

Without structure your novel will meander about, and will fail to grab readers so they keep reading. If you are a writer who writes ‘by the seat of their pants’ you still need structure in your novel, even if you work on it after the first draft, as I did.

Other posts in this series:
Introduction
Characters
Conflict
Subplots
Description
Feelings & Senses

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Writing Wednesday: Writing Layers – Feelings & Senses

As I learned and grew as a writer, I went back over and over my novel to add more layers to it. In this series I’m writing about each of my ‘layers’ in the hope it will help someone who is starting out. This week we look at feelings and senses.

Head in hands

Your characters will come across as wooden if they don’t show emotions, but don’t take the shortcut of having them say how they feel. Show it and let the reader work it out. It will draw the reader in as they feel along with the characters and give them a sense of achievement as they guess correctly. Don’t have a character say, ‘I’m so angry, ‘ show the thin lips, the tapping foot, the clenched fists.

A good way to improve on this is by people-watching. Maybe you can’t hear what two people are saying out in the street or across the bus station, but can you guess how they are feeling? What clues help you? Keep notes about what you observe to add to your writing.

I talked in a previous post about description, and this should include the senses. What can the person feel, smell and taste, as well as hear and see? Have you ever had a powerful memory recalled by a certain scent? Or been in a smoky environment that had a certain taste? All the details bring your story to life.

I like to think about a scene I’m writing and let my imagination run free, often when I’m drifting off to sleep. How would I feel if I was that character in that situation? What would I hear, smell, touch, taste? As I relax, I get lots of good insights.

As a writer, reading is essential. I find it hard to analyse what I’m reading, but next time you find yourself really drawn into a scene, try to pull back and analyse how the writer did it.

Other posts in this series:
Introduction
Characters
Conflict
Subplots
Description
Structure

 

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Thinking Thursday: A Proclamational People

Christians are a proclamational people.

Man loud

When Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”  (Luke 9:20) He had seen the truth and he had to speak it.

If you are a Christian, you are committed to Jesus. Committed to serve him but also to proclaim him. You have seen the truth, and you need to proclaim it. This doesn’t mean shouting on street corners. A quiet word in an appropriate moment is good too.

We should proclaim by our words but also by our lifestyle. There is an old saying: I cannot hear what you say because what you are speaks too loudly in my ears. Is your lifestyle different enough for people to notice? Peter said, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to those who ask you the reason for the hope that you have. ‘ (1 Peter 3:15) But do people ask you? Is your life a proclamational life?

Church doors are open during services because we are a public confessing people. We do things in church that cause people to reconsider their attitudes. For example, Jesus was counter cultural about children. He brought them forward and blessed them at a time when they were kept out of sight and considered unimportant. How counter-cultural is your church?

Although we are not sinless we should sin less. While I’m not what I should be, I’m certainly not what I was. (Tony Campolo)

We should take Jesus’ commands more seriously.

We do Christian things on Sunday, but what does our Monday morning say about our relationship with Jesus?  What needs to change to be more reflective of who Jesus is? Radical change is hard, but you could make a one per cent shift.

A man in our church said that on Monday morning people always ask: What did you do at the weekend? He used to say: I watched the rugby, or, I went to the beach. Now he says: I went to church. The next stage will be to talk about something that happened in church. It’s just a small change, but they accumulate over time.

What small changes can you make to be more representative of Jesus? How can you make a one per cent shift towards being a proclamational Christian?

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