Archives for Nonfiction Tips

New Year, New Writing Exercises

  My fingers are buzzing with anticipation. Now that the holidays are over, I can get back to uninterrupted writing (relatively speaking). And every year, every week, every day, my goal is to get just a little bit better than I was before. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s just finger exercises. So to help keep myself from meaninglessly wearing out my fingers, I’ve come up with a few new self-study exercises that I thought I’d share. Mimic—Take a close look at a story you enjoy and use it as a template. (It’s kind of like fan fiction, but the
Read More

Are Genre categories stifling your sales?

  WARNING: Do not read unless you have already eaten!   Forget what you ever thought you knew about books. Why? Because YOU don’t decide what you read… Empirical Science does! A sweeping statement, perhaps… or is it? Let’s examine one of the most frustrating problems an author can face in today’s writing paradigm. And before I continue, I should make clear I’m not talking just about Traditional Publishing. Now IMAGINE for a moment you find yourself in a supermarket; we’ve all been there, right. You entered without any clear idea of what you were going to buy; no shopping
Read More

Time for a Selfie! (A newbie’s guide to the Self-Edit)

I often use the analogy of movies when talking about writing novels because they do have a number of things in common. This is yet another, although here there is a marked difference. This is yet another one, although here there is a marked difference. Without a doubt this is possibly the most soul-destroying event any new writer will experience. When making a movie, the Director will film many takes that will not end up in the final version of the film. These could be because the actors made a mistake, burst out laughing in the middle of filming, or
Read More

I think I should warn you about something…

In my last article about Show and Tell (here), I briefly mentioned Foreshadowing. I have been inundated by five emails demanding I explain a little more about this useful writing tool. So here goes… Many eons ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died out, I decided to become a writer. Little did I know what the future held in store for me… That’s foreshadowing for you. What have I just done? I have created tension, expectancy in my readers – yes, I’ve manipulated their emotional response again and pressed the ‘Reader Engagement’ button. Now that’s just one way you can use
Read More

New Writers Beware–Don’t trust the one with the shiny apple!

“Thanks, but no thanks.”  This is a phrase I find myself saying more often than I care to. As an indie author, it can be a challenge to find the right people for your team. Your team may consist of: 1.) A graphics person for that “just right” cover look. 2.) A proofreader/copywriter to crisp up pages and catch errors. 3.) Someone to format the final manuscript. 4.) A marketing person, if you’re not doing it yourself. 5.) And depending on how busy your schedule is, someone to make sure all these things are running smoothly, so that everything will be ready-set for your projected release date. But, buyer, BEWARE! There is always some damn wolf in sheep’s
Read More

Want to write? Not sure how to start? Lots of friends here…

This morning I woke with the idea this was going to be a normal, productive, writing day. I knew I wanted to add a couple of things to my website, and I had some non-writing stuff to get out of the way first, but my main idea was to sit down in front of my computer and write for ten or twelve hours. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way. I did my non-scribbling things hastily, driven by the need to take up the current novel where I’d left it last night. Then I spent an hour on my web update.
Read More

How to avoid the 50-page Burn-out.

I’ve spoken to hundreds of people over the course of the years, all of whom had one thing in common. OK, two – they were all frustrated and they all classed themselves as ‘aspiring’ writer. Why aspiring? I would ask. Those of you who read my occasional blogs know that my position on this is either you write or you don’t. I think it was the Bengali philosopher and poet Rabindranath Tagore who said “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” Their confusion with my posture is that they confuse ‘aspiring writer’ with ‘published
Read More

Tips for the would-be author

With indie publishing booming and e-readership expanding daily, there’s never been a better time to become a writer. As a published author and writing instructor, my advice to the “would-be” author is this: Write your book. Plenty of people say they are going to write a book someday, but they never do. If you’re serious, then stop talking about it and start writing. Re-write until you never want to look at your book again. I know this probably sounds crazy, but if you read about successful writers, you’ll find that most have this in common: by the time they finished
Read More

Formatting Matters

Let’s get it right. Far too many of the books launched on Amazon.com by indie publishers are improperly formatted. In particular, the paragraphs are not formatted properly. Sometimes there is no indentation to signal the start of the new paragraph throughout the book. In other books, the indentation seems almost haphazard—some paragraphs are indented and others are not. This seems to happen most often when there is short dialogue. Let’s get it right. No self-respecting traditional publisher would release an e-book on Amazon or anywhere else that looks like these books do. And we shouldn’t either. Why take the trouble
Read More

Should I bother with Writing Rules?

All my writing life I have come across Rules. Of late, however, the prevalence of these, and worse, people happily quoting them as though they were The Only Way To Write, has become a bane. Let’s get a few things clear, especially for newbie writers out there who may be inadvertently lured in by these snippets of writing wisdom. Writing Rules are usually written by successful writers; often quoted out of context; offer no guarantees whatever (thank God!); and can easily lead a writer astray. You may be mistaken for thinking that if you follow Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for
Read More