I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can’t read through a long information dump. It’s just too boring.
Almost every writer has a dream about breaking out—or achieving best-seller status. Many of us think it’s an impossibility, but recently I read something to change all of that.
I haven’t featured any new authors for the longest time and I’m thrilled to be able to highlight multiple award-winning author Susan Whitfield. She writes in a variety of genres.
Back in the 12th century folks were married off to each other with no regard for love or likemindedness. Goeffrey Plantagenet had never seen Matilda until he traveled to Rouen to be knighted and then with the king’s entourage to LeMans Cathedrale for the wedding. Matilda at once loathed Geoffrey because even though he was handsome, he was a mere count and only fifteen years old. She was 26 and had been previously married to the Emperor of Germany. She made his life difficult, indeed.
I have on occasion been a pantser but for Sprig of Broom it was crucial to be a plotter because I wanted to be as accurate as possible with the time period, architecture, travel, battles, and historical facts about their marriage and life together. Large gaps in time gave me the space I needed to let my imagination take over but I still wanted the novel to be believable.
I’m thrilled to have just finished writing the first complete draft of my debut psychological thriller, and novella, “Sheer Panic.” Although I had already started writing this story with no outline, and not knowing how it would progress, I decided to stop and get the outline down.
Here’s the start of it.
1. Tori avoids Roderick, ‘the Freak’ as she enters the cafeteria at college. He has been harassing her for a while and she is afraid to report him, in case he retaliates. (Here’s where I know I should make a new chapter — each chapter should be one scene.) Later, Dorky Dorian tries to flirt with her when she is putting her stuff into her locker. Her friend Janet tells her she’s weird because she has opted not to go to Panama City Beach at Spring Break. Instead, she has agreed to babysit her niece so her sister can go. She never discusses the real reason she is afraid to go with her friends.
2. One afternoon when Tori is taking her neighbor’s dog, Panda, for a walk in the park, Dorky Dorian tries to force himself on her and the dog attacks him. Panda’s owner, Mrs. Stanley tells Tori she should get a dog of her own for protection. Tori reflects on her love life. She knows it’s a total disaster, and if she had a steady boyfriend the weird men would leave her alone.
3. Tori is friended on Facebook by Lance, the boy she chased at high school to no avail. Although it seems a little odd that he has suddenly had a change of heart, and decided to pursue a relationship with her, she is still totally smitten with him, and she goes along with it. She hopes it will turn into something serious, and take her mind off the stolen kiss with her sister’s boyfriend, Dan that has been plaguing her. (This scene needs something to make it more exciting.)
4. Tori takes her niece, Shari horse riding and sexy Joaquim …. etc.
Once I had completed the outline, it was easy to write the story, although it’s still in the first draft rough format. I found that I deviated a little from the outline when I came up with a better idea, and as I went along, I changed the outline at times. I love the finished draft.
Here are some other things James talked about in his videos:
- First lines — We all know it is essential to capture your audience right away, yet so many writers start with something mundane and boring. Mine is: “I just don’t get why your love life is such a total mess,” Janet said. “It’s just not right. It’s not that hard. You must be the only nineteen-year-old in the whole school who isn’t getting laid.”
- Be yourself. Imagine you’re sitting across the table from your best friend telling them the story of a movie you watched. If you wouldn’t use pompous and puffed up language and fancy words when speaking to them, you shouldn’t be using them in your writing.
- Try writing a couple of different endings. Make them as outrageous as you can. I did this and absolutely loved the new one I came up with. It was far more exciting than the original ending.
- Try writing the same piece in the POV of more than one character. You could fall in love with a version you never thought about before.
- Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Whatever works for you is okay. We’re all different, and so are our readers.
- Do your research. Don’t just wing it. You must know what you are writing about to build credibility.
- Don’t be afraid to rewrite if it doesn’t feel right to you.
More in my next post.
Editing is an essential part of the publication process. Whether we like it or not, it is almost impossible for a person to see all of his or her errors. Everyone needs an editor–even the world’s best selling authors, and I don’t mean searching for typo’s and grammatical errors–I mean content and development editing.
I belong to several online organizations, where writers share their work free, either in return for a guaranteed review, or just for added exposure. I usually select romantic suspense or suspense novels, and download them to my Kindle.
Every now and then I discover a new author whose work I love, and I give them a review and I buy their other books.
More often than not, though, I only read a few pages before giving up on a story and moving on to the next book. The problem I find to be the most common, is that authors have self-published without the aid of an editor, and their work just doesn’t flow. I don’t feel comfortable giving these writers a review, because negative reviews can cause terrible harm and discouragement. It’s easier just to move on. The most common problem I see is head-hopping and author intrusion. A lot of writers don’t know that in today’s publishing world, fiction is written as if the characters are telling the story, and there is no narrator/author.
When I was ready to publish my first novel, the Internet didn’t exist as we know it today, and I had to go the traditional route, and submit my manuscript to several publishers, knowing that rejections were part of the process. Since then, the Internet publishing business has taken off, creating exponential opportunities to those who want to write. I will always be thankful I had to submit my work to publishers, because even now I still prefer to go that route for a very good reason.
Reputable publishing houses, run by people who know the publishing industry, will always have at least one accredited editor on staff, who will work with each author to help hone their work, and make it best it can be before publication. (The downside is that not all publishing houses are genuine, and it is difficult if not impossible for a new author to recognize a scam.)
Jude Glad, my editor and a part owner of Uncial Press, has been a wonderful mentor, and has taught me more than I could have learned in a couple of years of college classes on creative writing. I will always be grateful to her. My Zodiac Series is published by Soul Mate Publishing, and owner/editor Debby Gilbert has added to my bank of knowledge in a very positive way, and I don’t know where I would be without either of them.
I was so inspired by them, that I decided to pay forward and give back to other writers what I have learned, and I started my online editing business to assist self-published authors, and give them a better chance at achieving their dreams. I have made my pricing extremely competitive because I know most writers don’t have a lot spare cash lying around. I wish I could do it for free, but editing is time-consuming, and it does take away some of my writing time.
I have done very little active promotion, but have always been busy since the inception of my editing business, thanks to word of mouth recommendations from some of my wonderful customers. I am only one person so I can only handle one manuscript at a time. I’ve had the privilege of reading and helping to optimize some wonderful stories, and fascinating non-fiction by some very talented authors.
My services include development and content editing, formatting for, and uploading to Amazon’s CreateSpace and KDP Direct, and other online self-publishing platforms, plus cover creation, I’ve also recently been asked to write someone’s memoirs, and I’ve added that. I also build websites or help create and format blogs.
Here is my address: Youselfpublish.com