Should You Be Honest When Writing Fiction?

October 18, 2014 in Articles, Writing & Publishing

Writing honestly works. Think of the stand up comedian and note how the most successful really only tell you what you already know. It is the recognition of  something you see in everyday life, caricatured, that is funny. Writing is no different, connect with the reader and they will want to read more.

Honesty When WritingWhat Has Honesty Got to Do With Writing Fiction?

What a strange thought, I hear you say. What has honesty to do with invented, fictional characters, places and events? Actually more than you imagine.

Literary critics delight in using words and phrases that turn the milk and bore the pants off ordinary folk (but then most critics can’t write fiction well enough to make a living). They chunter on about ‘voice’ and ‘point of view’ but rarely mention the one feature that makes prose stand out from the page – honesty. Writers of humour – rare beasts – do it; the guffaw is the response that means ‘Got you. I know what you mean.’ We laugh because we recognise the truth of the unique observation these wits have written.

When writers ‘release the brakes’ and express precisely what they are thinking the impact is stronger. No equivocation: ‘That dog stinks.’ Not, ‘That dog has an unpleasant odour,’ or ‘that dog’s scent wouldn’t sell well at Harrods’. In polite company few would shout out the word ‘stink’; but fictional prose isn’t polite company. You and your reader are intimately connected – unless the work is being read out aloud for some unearthly reason!

How to Write Fiction Honestly

When writing fiction, prudent authors rarely name their characters after people they know, or locate the action in places they are fond of. Why? Because the mind plays tricks when in ‘muse mode’ and tends to pull punches rather than hit out when recognising friends and places. In other words it is deceiving itself, and in turn, you, and your readers. I can write more bitingly about a hockey player in Manchester than a golfer in London because hockey and Manchester are foreign countries to me. London and golf, however, are too close for comfort.

New writers often sprinkle their prose with a surfeit of adverbs and adjectives. What they are doing is being polite, well behaved, cautious even, not wishing to rock the boat. Now this is fine for behaviour in company; few like the idiot who shouts out ‘Cobblers!’ in the middle of a convention of bishops. But in fiction, if you want to make an impact, cause a stir, be remembered, is it really wise to behave like a wimp? No, it’s counter-productive.

Leave nouns and verbs alone and they will sing off the page. Clothe them with qualifying adverbs and adjectives and they will lose their impact and have a deadly effect on the pace of your story – and it is the story that matters, which should always ‘get on with it’.

A few examples. ‘The plane landed at Heathrow.’ Not bad, but unless you travelled by helicopter – or are a bird – you could just say ‘we landed at Heathrow. Short and to the point; all that’s needed, unless the action of your novel revolves around the plane and Heathrow. But do new novelists exercise such restraint. Oh dear me, no. For them the plane is more than plane, it becomes a twin-jetted, silver-winged Boeing; it doesn’t land, it gently touches down and Heathrow isn’t enough, it has arrived at London’s invariably busy primary airport, Heathrow.

If you want your fiction to hit submission editors, or even better…. a paying public, between the eyes, cut the waffle. Tell it as it is. Be brutal with your prose. Reserve your colouring-in for picture books. In your fiction, tell your story with words that focus on the plot and the those aspects of your characters that drive the book onwards. When your child is about to stick its fingers in the barbecue, how many words do you use – if you are ten foot away? One, two, ten? I bet just the one. His or her name, at the top of your voice. No waffle. Just an honest, animal call to catch the attention. Do that with your prose, and your readers will thank you. But often they won’t know why.

photo credit: Harpersbizarre via photopin cc

How to Write A BookHow to Write a Book or Novel by Jonathan Veale

This is an article by Jonathan Veale the author of How to Write a Book or Novel. Jonathan has worked as a professional editor and has successfully published several books. If you like his style and want to know more then his book on the subject of writing is where you need to be.

It is a concise, no nonsense account of what you should and shouldn’t do when writing a book with some great insider tips on the best way to get your book published, whether that is taking the traditional publisher route or if you prefer to be an independent author and publisher.

Still not sure? Then you can find out more about Jonathan and his books on his author page.

Tell Your Story With An Infographic

January 18, 2014 in Articles, Book Marketing, Book promotions, Writing & Publishing

Book Writing Infographic

 

The world is changing and people are being overwhelmed by information.Communication is instant, huge numbers of people use smart-phones or mobile devices and life is fast moving and hectic. So it becomes pretty clear that pages full of text and little else are probably not ever going to be read, unless they come in the form of a book of course.

But you, as an author or publisher, still need to gain the attention of a public audience.

Enter the infographic, a new way to communicate. 

Infographics convey their message through a mixture of symbols, icons, graphical images and text. They give the creator a chance to be creative and the more creative you are the more attractive your infographic will be.

I used http://magic.piktochart.com/ to create the infographic above, I signed in with my Google+ account, but it could have been Facebook or I could have created a username and password. The point being that I was registered in literally seconds and was then able to view a few very short tutorial videos. Within 5 to 10 minutes I was then designing my very first infographic on Piktochart.

How to Write A BookI will be the first to admit that the resulting infographic is not the most creative you will ever encounter, but I can genuinely say that from a standing start, of never having used the program before, 2 hours later I was able to publish the infographic that describes How to Write a Book or Novel: An Insider’s Guide to Getting PublishedHow to Write a Book or NovelWriting a book.

Why is that important? Basically because it provides another medium with which I can describe what the book is about and share it through social media sites that are very much geared towards presenting graphical information in the form of an image.

Google loves text, the search engine relies on it to decipher what a page is all about, but social media sites like graphics and they make it very easy to share a graphic. So if the infographic is good and conveys its message in a clear concise way, there is no real reason why it couldn’t suddenly go viral around the Internet bringing lots of traffic to the associated link in the process.

Social Media Sites for Graphics

Remembering that you can upload and post to many, many sites. The principal ones being Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Scoop and many more. The latter ones becoming very popular because they are pretty much ‘graphic’ based. One of my personal favourites is Pinterest and I have already seen some image based pages being re-pinned more than a 1000 times and of course every pin carries the link you provided.

There are of course many sites that provide a resource that allows you to design an instagraphic, many free and many paid. The benefit of paying for the service generally means you don’t have to carry the resource link for the site, which for many will be worth the money. But for me I am not particularly concerned so I went with the free version.

More Infographic Resource Sites

I haven’t used any of the ones above so can’t vouch for how easy or hard they are to use, but I definitely found Piktochart easy to use and I would imagine that any of these others would be equally easy.

So Good Luck With Your Infographics and please rate this post if you like what you read

Why the eBook Route?

March 21, 2012 in

Why The Ebook Route Is Attractive For New Writers

Getting published has seldom been cheaper. Or easier. And I’m not only talking about ebooks. Printed books can be produced to order, quickly, one at a time, but here set-up costs can be heavy and there are drawbacks for the unwary, with unscrupulous operators masquerading as real publishers after your business – the sort who instead of paying you, empty your pocket, and take no investment risk whatsoever.

However, with ebooks, aspiring writers with their wits about them can now bypass the submission marathon and become published authors in a matter of weeks . . . if they feel that impatient. Which I must admit most of us do!

Writing and Publishing Your eBook

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Offers Many Advantages

It’s the arrival of the ebook mass market that I’m really interested in, especially the one set up by Amazon with its Kindle ebook readers and Kindle Store. Publishers failed to appreciate what Amazon was doing to the market for their printed books, and indeed some are still protesting as their old-fashioned ways of operating are exposed for the rackets they were: ones that benefited neither reader or writer, or indeed the publishing houses themselves in many instances.

Why take the eBook route?The Kindle Store offers new writers a free platform to display their books; it’s one where they can list them, describe their merits, offer a profile of the author, and adjust the price of the ebook from one day to the next. Amazon do take a commission on each sale, but at rates that compare well with the abysmally low net royalties offered by traditional publishers. There are also ways to promote your books which may just get their heads above the precipice and into the bestseller category: Listmania, wish-lists and using your buyer profile to like them and promote the search tags. These are tools that can be used on Amazon to give a promotional push that should not be underestimated.

But if something sounds almost too good to be true, as this does, then what are the dangers, the horrors that might plague you as a newly published writer once your book is available for readers worldwide?

When you put your name on an ebook, then its shortcomings will be down to you. Nobody else. And to prepare for and ward off these disadvantages it’s necessary to split the marketing aspect into three facets:

  •  .  what does the ‘packaging’ proclaim, inform readers about treats to come
  •  .  how are the ‘contents’ displayed
  • .  how instructive, well-written or entertaining is the book itself

Taking these in reverse order, if your writing is semi-literate, poorly punctuated, and rambles as you attempt and fail to take your reader on a literary journey, then your reputation is punctured both as a writer (probably for good) and as a person (what will your friends think of you when they read it?). The same care should be taken with the writing of an ebook as you would devote to its printed cousin. Your draft should be planned, edited, proofread, and targeted from inception at an identified readership, and then it should respect it. Provide what readers are looking for and they will respect you and look out for your work in the future.

If you have a brilliant manuscript, the next thing to ensure is that it is laid out so that the software employed by ebook online retailers will display it well on ebook readers. If you pay insufficient attention at this stage – Amazon offers page upon page of advice but it’s not always easy to follow – then your work may look dreadful when viewed on ebook readers. And if that’s true, your book will neither sell or do you justice. My advice: unless you are comfortable with the jargon employed by computer and print people, invest a small sum in acquiring expert help – at least for your first book.

And finally we come to the marketing and ‘packaging’. Here we are talking about what visitors first see when they visit the Kindle Store or other online ebook retailer. Your ebook will commence with two things: a unique listing page, and a place where it sits with all other similar books in your chosen category.

To deal with your unique listing first, you will be asked to describe your book, categorise it, give it a title, price it, and provide an image of ‘the cover’, a reminder that while no ebook will ever exist outside the screen you view it on, publishers still think of it as a tangible thing that can be picked up! Every one of these things, if incorrectly done, will ruin your chances of success.

For the listings, your competitors will all be visible alongside a summary of your book, and because you are new to the listings, you shouldn’t expect to be number one immediately. You won’t be. You’ll more likely be number forty or fifty. But if everything you’ve done works as it should, your sales should rise over the following weeks as readers find your work.

One last point. I would strongly advise new writers to seek a little support when tackling this brilliant market for the first time. Editorial advice should ensure the minor literary flaws are eradicated soon enough (if they don’t then perhaps you shouldn’t be publishing just yet), technical support will guarantee a well laid out book, and an informative listing will ensure your book has a reasonable chance of being a success.

Seize the opportunity, I say . . . but take as much care as you can to produce truly professional work you can be proud of.

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