Jan 22

Balance in Fiction Writing – The Major Elements

Writing elements needed for balanced writingThere are five major elements to a fiction story and it’s the combination of these elements that make the story complete, interesting, and considered good writing.  Too much of one or not enough of another can affect the readers ability to connect with the story. So, what are the major elements of a story?

The Major Elements of a Story

1.    Protagonist
2.    Setting
3.    Plot
4.    Point of view
5.    Theme

Let’s break them down:

The Protagonist: Introduce the main character. Using your imagination you can make him unique. He can have particular mannerisms or quirks, or even distinct physical attributes. You can also make him likeable or unsavory, but remember you will need the reader to be able to create a connection to him. It’s this connection that will prompt the reader to continue reading on. Your protagonist needs to be real…believable.

The Setting: This will establish the time and place the story takes place. The setting can create a feeling and mood – if you’re writing about swashbuckling pirates, your reader will be in a certain mind set. The same holds true for any other setting you choose. It will be intrinsic to the plot/conflict and will help establish vivid imagery for the reader.

The Plot: This is the meat of the story – the forward movement, the conflict or struggle that drives the protagonist toward his goal. This involves any danger, suspense, romance, or other reader grabbing occurrence. The conflict can be emotional (an internal struggle – a tormented soul) or physical (from an external/outside force – good against evil).

Point of View: This establishes whose point of view the story is being told. It’s important to make this clear. Even if you have two main characters, there needs to be one who is primary in order to keep clarity within the story.

The Theme: This establishes what is important to the story. It usually evolves along with the story and the protagonist’s progression. If Jesus is your protagonist, establishing and promoting Christianity might be the theme. It might be the story’s view on life and the people/characters the protagonist encounters. It is the idea the author wants the reader to take away with him/her.

Utilizing each of these elements can create a unique, fascinating, and memorable story.

Just like the ingredients in a cooking recipe, writing has its own set of ingredients that produce a wonderful end product. A pinch here, a dab there – you hold the unique recipe to your story.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Jan 15

Create a Believable Protagonist with Realistic Characteristics

Create believable charactersIt’s noted that you should let the reader see your protagonist’s characteristics within the first few pages. This enables the reader to quickly identify with him. This connection will determine whether the reader turns the next page.

Unless you’re writing fantasy or science fiction, your protagonist will have ordinary strengths (possibly extraordinary, but within the realm of reality); he will also have weaknesses. These qualities need to be conveyed early on.

Here are 12 characteristics that may pertain to a protagonist or main character (MC):

1. Intelligent: Is your MC smart? If so how smart: is he a genius, did he finish college, does he gets all As in school?

2. Handy or Crafty: Maybe your MC isn’t great at academics, but is he handy, musically inclined, or crafty?

2. Arrogant: Does your character think he’s better or smarter than others?  Does he let others know it? If so, how?

3. Trustworthy: Is your MC the kind of individual that others feel they can trust?

4. Determined: Does your MC know what he wants and strives to obtain his goal?

5. Greedy: Is your MC the kind of person who wants everything he doesn’t have? Is he the type of person who wants much more than he actually needs? Does he make it obvious?

6. Dependable: Is your MC the kind of individual that others know they can count on?

7. Brave: Does your MC do what he has to even if he’s frightened? Is he known for his bravery?

8. Cowardly: Is your MC afraid of his own shadow? Does he try to avoid any kind of confrontation or adventure?

9. Caring: Does your MC demonstrate kind and caring qualities? Does his family and friends think of him as a caring individual?

10. Selfish: Does your MC think of only himself? Is he known for this unsavory quality?

11. Strong: Does your MC have great physical strength? Is he strong emotionally?

12. Weak: Is your MC weak either physically or emotionally or both?

These are just some of the characteristics you can give to your protagonist. There are many others though, such as: shrewd, cheap, a liar, a thief, a go getter, beautiful, awkward, loyal, kind, lazy, introvert, extrovert, and cruel.

It’s up to you as the creator to give your protagonist a set of characteristics that will allow him to connect to the reader – whether the reader loves him or hates him there must be a connection. This connection is what will cause the reader to keep turning the pages.

Be cautious though, if you are giving your protagonist unsavory qualities at the beginning, be sure to include at least one redeeming quality otherwise your audience may not find that connection and decide not to read on.

And, remember, you can always have the protagonist change characteristics through the momentum of the story. He can start out as a coward and through various occurrences within the story he can evolve into a hero, or whatever you choose. That’s the amazing thing about being a writer – you create something from nothing. You give your character breathe and dimension.

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Let's talk about your children's writing project

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700.

Jan 01

New Year Wishes and Gifts

New Year's Wishes

Today is the first day of the rest of your life and the beginning of a new year – make it all it can be!

Karen Cioffi, Children’s Ghostwriter

To show my appreciation to my readers and subscribers, here are two useful gifts to help you achieve your goals in the New Year! Just click the link:

Achieve Your Goals with 3 Must-Have Psychological Assets

A Simple System to Achieve Your Goals

Dec 30

2016 Coming to a Close – 2017 Just Before Us, Bright and Shiny

The new year brings amazing things . . .

The New Year brings amazing things: opportunity for a fresh start, renewed hope, possibilities, and even new beginnings.

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.”

Make 2017 a year of action rather than procrastination.

To end 2016 and latch onto 2017, Below are 11 quotes I love and find inspirational. Hope you do too.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
~ Lyndon B. Johnson

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”  ~ Dale Carnegie

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
~ Christopher Columbus

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ~ Warren Buffet

“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell

HOPE THESE QUOTES HELP YOU THROUGHOUT THE NEW YEAR!

Dec 11

6 Tips to Make the Most Out of Writing Workshops

Getting the most out of writing workshopsGuest post by writing coach Suzanne Lieurance

Six Simple Ways to Make the Most of Any Writing Workshop or Writing Class

If you’ve recently signed up for a writing workshop or writing class, in the hopes of becoming a better writer, then follow these simple steps to make the most of that experience:

1) Read! Read! Read!

Before the very first class or workshop, survey ALL the class materials so you will get an idea of what to expect.

Most good writing classes (and workshops) will provide students with a wealth of helpful materials. But these materials won’t do you any good if you don’t bother to look at them. In fact, if you have time before the workshop starts, read as many of the materials as you can. You might not fully understand what you are reading. That’s okay. Learning is recursive – which means your understanding will increase each time you study or reread the information.

If you don’t have time to read the materials before the class begins, then at least look over all the materials beforehand. Also, besides the required course materials, if there are suggested additional materials, get those too. And read them!

Also, read the kinds of things you wish to write. If you want to write stories for children, READ stories for children. If you want to write culinary mysteries for adults, READ culinary mysteries for adults, etc.

SPECIAL NOTE: Also, realize this. If you don’t enjoy reading, then you probably won’t enjoy the work it takes to become a successful (by that I mean, published) writer. Published writers are like sponges – anxious to soak up any information about their craft that they can.

2) Carefully read the directions for each and every assignment and follow the directions TO THE LETTER.

I’m surprised that so many people pay for a writing course (like the one I taught for the Institute of Children’s Literature), yet a large number of these people don’t follow the directions for each assignment.

In some cases, it’s painfully evident that they didn’t even bother to READ the directions. What they need to understand is this – usually each assignment or lesson in a writing course or workshop was designed with specific objectives in mind. If the student doesn’t bother to read and follow the directions for each assignment, then the instructor has little chance of helping the student meet those objectives.

3) Avoid defending your work to your instructor.

Generally, students pay an instructor because he (or she) has some expertise and experience in writing, which usually includes many publishing credits. In fact, you should ALWAYS look for an instructor who has publishing credits. But then listen to what that instructor has to say about your writing, then follow his advice without trying to defend your work if it goes against what he has suggested.

Your instructor knows what he is talking about. For example, many times I tell students that in stories for children, adults should play very minor roles, and the child or teen in the story should always solve his own problem without a parent or other well-meaning adult stepping in to save the day. Many students want to argue that adults save the day for kids all the time in real life, so it should be okay that Aunt Martha calling at the last minute to offer little Janie the money she needs for summer camp is the perfect resolution for their story.

Sure, this kind of thing happens in real life. But, in stories for kids or teens, editors want the child to solve his own problem. Don’t waste precious time (yours or the instructor’s) arguing about something like this. Your understanding of WHY you should do what your instructor is asking you to do (or not do) will increase over time and study. Do what your instructor suggests, without defending your reason for going against his directions, and you’ll move ahead at a faster pace.

4) Learn to research all sorts of topics. In other words.

Don’t depend on instructors, editors, publishers, or anyone else to provide you with ALL the information you need in order to become a published writer.

Your instructor will probably give you research tips and marketing information, of course. But most published writers are self-directed learners. By that I mean, when they don’t KNOW something, they figure out HOW and WHERE to get the needed information themselves (more about how to do this, next).

5) Find other writers to network with and even hang out with, and read publications for writers.

Join a local writers’ group or at least sign up for one online (at yahoogroups.com you’ll find all sorts of groups for writers). Try to find a group that includes at least a few published writers. Generally, writers like to be helpful. They will usually share marketing tips, writing resources, etc. and will help you to more fully understand what you learn in a writing workshop or writing class.

Also, talk to some of the other writers in these groups to find out how they write. Then use some of their tips to improve your own writing, writing habits, etc. Hang out with the published writers and you’ll soon learn that they probably do a LOT of rewriting before they sell any of their work.

Read publications for writers to gain current marketing news and tips, and to find out how other writers became successful.

All these things will help give you the confidence to keep writing (and to keep practicing what you learn in your writing workshop or writing course) until you manage to get something published.

6) Don’t expect writing to be easy.

And, don’t assume that if it isn’t it must mean you don’t have enough talent to succeed as a writer, so you might as well drop out of the workshop or writing class.

Actually, most successful writers will tell you that talent isn’t the most important quality for success. The ability to follow directions (which will eventually come from an editor or editors) and the willingness to continue writing and rewriting, until at least some of the many rejection letters you get in the mail turn into acceptance letters, are much more important qualities for success as a writer. If you realize this BEFORE you start any writing workshop or writing course, you will be more likely to stick with it, even when the work gets difficult.

Suzanne Lieurance is an award-winning author and an experienced writing coach. For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

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The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?
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Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Nov 13

How to Write a Story

Writing a storyToday I have a guest post by a successful writer and writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance. She talks about what it takes to ‘write a story.’

How to Write a Story
By Suzanne Lieurance

Do you long to write stories but just can’t seem to get started?

That’s probably because you don’t understand the elements needed for any good story. Learn these elements and the writing process will be much easier.

Every good story needs:

1. An interesting main character with a problem to solve. Your main character needs to want something and want it so much he is willing to overcome all sorts of obstacles to get it. This character is your protagonist; the person readers will root for as he faces conflicts and complications.

2. An interesting setting. A good story needs to be set in a definite time and place and readers need to feel they are right there in this time and place with your characters. Use a variety of vivid sensory details to transport your readers to the time and place you’ve chosen as the setting for your story. But weave these details into the action as much as possible.

3. Conflict. Something or someone who gets in the way of the main character in his quest to get what he wants. The main character who creates this conflict is your antagonist. Keep in mind that this person shouldn’t be ALL bad. He should be flawed, of course, but if he’s all bad he won’t seem like a real person, he’ll be more like a caricature.

4. A series of complications. Things should keep getting worse and worse for the main character in his quest to get what he wants. These complications will create the dramatic tension and rising action for your story so readers will want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

5. A culminating event that creates change. Something dramatic needs to occur that will change everything for your main chararacter. This event is the climax of your story or the solution. Your main character will either finally get what he is after or he will understand why it is not possible to get what he wants and he will have to make some sort of peace with that. Either way, your main character will no longer be the same person he was at the beginning of the story. He will have changed or grown somehow as a result of the conflicts and complications he faced. This change (or changes) will lead to a natural resolution as the ending for your tale.

Now, before you get started writing your own story, take some time to examine a few simple stories more closely for each of these elements. Fairy tales are good stories to use for this purpose.

For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Oct 16

Writing Success – Know Your Intent

Know where you want your writing to goIntent is a crucial factor in success. But, what exactly does this mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, intent is an aim, a clear and “formulated or planned intention.” It is a purpose, “the act or fact of intending.”

Intent is a necessary factor on any path to success, including your path to writing success. You need to know what you want, what you’re striving for. And, that knowledge has to be clearly defined.

An unclear destination or goal is similar to being on a path that has very low hanging branches, an assortment of rocks that may hinder your forward movement, uneven and rugged terrain, branches and even logs strewn across the road; you get the idea. You kind of step over the debris, look around or through the branches, you don’t have a clear view of where you’re going.

A clear cut goal is akin to walking on a smooth and clear path. No goal related obstacles to hinder your forward momentum or vision.

But, let me add to the sentence above, while intent is crucial, it’s an active and passionate pursuit of your intent that will actually allow you to achieve success. It reminds me of a passage in the Bible at James 24:26, “Faith without works is dead.” While the intent is there, if you don’t actively take the needed steps to get from A to B, walk-the-walk, rather than just talk-the-talk, you’ll never reach your goal.

To realize your intent, it would be beneficial for you to create a list of questions and statements outlining the specifics to that intent.

A few of questions you might include are:

– What is your ultimate success goal?
– What does the obtainment of your goal mean?
– After picturing it, what does success look like to you?
– How will you reach your goal?

So, how would you answer these questions?

As a writer, perhaps your goal is to write for one or two major magazines. Maybe you’d prefer to be published in a number of smaller magazines. Possibly you want to author a book a year and have them published by traditional publishing houses. Or, maybe you want to self-publish your own books at a faster or slower pace.

Maybe success to you is to make a comfortable living, or you may be very happy with simply supplementing your income. Maybe you want to be a professional, sought after ghostwriter or copywriter. Maybe you want to be a coach, a speaker, offer workshops, or present webinars. These are some of the potential goals for a writer.

Whatever your vision of success is, you need to see it clearly, write it down (it’d be a good idea to also create a vision board), and take the necessary steps to get you where you want to be.

If you find you have a realistic success vision, and are taking the necessary steps to achieve your envisioned intent, at least you think you are, but you still can’t seem to reach the goal, then perhaps your efforts aren’t narrowly focused enough. Maybe your success vision is too broad. Wanting to be a writer is a noble endeavor, but it’s a very broad target and kind of like shooting a shotgun compared to shooting a rifle or gun. With a shotgun you may hit a broader target, but it won’t be with the effectiveness and direct force of a single shot aimed at a one focused target.

Try narrowing down, fine tuning your goal. Remember, it’s essential to be specific and focused.

It might be to your advantage to create success steps that continually move you forward on the path to reaching your ultimate goal.

For someone new to writing, the first step on a writing career would be to learn the craft of writing. You might give yourself a year or two to join writing groups, take advantage of writing workshops or classes, write for article directories, or create stories. You should also be part of at least one critique group. This would be your first step to achieving your intent, your success vision.

Instead of trying to go directly from A to B, it might be more effective to go from A to A1 to A2 to A3 . . . to B. But, again, for each step, the intent, a clear-cut vision, and the driving passion all need to be front and center.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing – 6 Essential Steps to Publication
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Oct 09

10 Tips to Hiring With a Children’s Ghostwriter

10-tipshiringghostwriterBefore I get into the tips to working with a ghostwriter, let me explain what a ghostwriter is. A ghostwriter is simply a ‘writer for hire’ who will write your children’s book, article, website content, or other type of content you need to create and market your book.

S/he’ll take your idea, your notes, your outline, or your draft and turn it into a publishable story. A story that you’ll be proud to put your name on. And, if she knows the ropes, she’ll give you advice on what to do after the book is written.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the 10 tips to working with one.

1. Research ghostwriters before jumping on board with one.

Do a Google search for ‘children’s ghostwriters’ and see how s/he ranks in the search engines.

2. Visit the website of the person you’re interested in working with.

How does it look? Does the site quickly convey that it’s about writing for children? Is it neat and easy to navigate (get from page to page)?

A couple of other things to check for on the website is whether or not it’s current. Check the blog and see if it’s posted to on a regular basis.

You’ll also want to check out the testimonials page. Are there clients who are recommending and/or praising the ghostwriter?

The website is important. I’ve had clients base their decision to hire me just by visiting my website.

3. What about qualifications?

Does the writer’s About Page let you know that s/he is qualified?

One side note here: While some ghostwriters may have lots of their own books published, I for one have so many clients I don’t have the time to keep up with my own books. I have two published and a children’s picture book series in contract. I’ve been wanting to write a sequel to Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure), but just don’t have the time.

So, when looking at this particular qualification, keep this in mind for whoever you’re thinking of going with.

Look at the groups their associated with or have memberships to. Look at any other distinguishable events or awards.

4. Make sure the ghostwriter is accessible.

When you’re on the writer’s website, make sure there is an email address and phone number, so you can easily communicate.

5. Does s/he offer a free consultation?

Some people want that personalized experience – not just an email. I’ve had clients who simply wanted to hear my voice to make sure it was a real person they were dealing with. I’ve even had a couple of people who wanted a Skype consultation. But, aside from this, if you like, ask for a free consultation to discuss your project.

Most ghostwriters will be happy to talk with you about your project. Just please keep in mind that they may keep it short, maybe 10-15 minutes. So, have your questions ready before the phone call. And, have a clear idea of what you want.

6. Not a talker? Then contact the writer by email.

Send the ghostwriter a brief, but clear email on what you’d like and how s/he can help you.

7. The NDA (nondisclosure agreement).

The NDA is simply a confidentiality agreement. It protects your idea. The writer states that s/he will not use your idea for any purpose or reason.

If you’re dealing with a reputable ghostwriter this isn’t really necessary – professional ghostwriters would never disclose any information you divulge. But, for peace-of-mind, ask for one if you’d feel better.

Regarding my clients, I’d say half want one and the other half could care less.

8. About a Freelance Writing Agreement.

Most freelance writers, if not all, have a standard freelance writing agreement for their clients. It is tweaked for each individual project for those particulars, but the basic information is the same.

The agreement may include:

• Terms: What the client wants done and what the writer will do.
• The relationship of the parties.
• The time frame for the completion of the project.
• Compensation.
• An NDA.
• Termination information.

9. Does the ghostwriter offer payment options?

This is important. Most writers will offer payment options and scheduling.

For example: For picture books, I have a three-payment schedule. For chapter books and middle-grade, the number of payments depends on the length of the book and time frame involved.

10. Is the ghostwriter easy to work with?

This you won’t really know until you start working with one. But, often the testimonials will give you an indication of how they work.

But, even before you hire one, you can have some indication by:

• Did s/he answer all your questions?
• Did s/he get back to you promptly?
• Is s/he friendly and approachable?
• Does s/he sound knowledgeable?

Sometimes, just speaking with someone can let you know if s/he is the ghostwriter you’d like to work with.

11. Yep – a bonus tip.

Find out who’ll actually be writing your book. Does the site farm out their writing projects or use subcontractors? Is it a staff of writers? This is not to say the latter is bad, but it’s good to know who you’ll be working with.

So, there you have it, 10 11 tips to getting started with a children’s ghostwriter. I hope it’s helpful in choosing one that you’ll feel comfortable with.

If you’re thinking of hiring a children’s ghostwriter and have questions or would like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your project, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Or, shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice—@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips