Sep 21

What Makes a Good Fiction Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven

Plot driven vs. character driven

Stories can be plot driven or character driven, so which is the best formula to use when writing a story? Knowing a little about both methods should help in making a decision.

Plot Driven Story

A story’s plot moves the story forward, from point A to point B. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a straight line; in fact a course that twists and turns is much better. This type of plot creates movement and interest. It’s the twists and turns that will keep the forward momentum fresh, as well as creates anticipation. Anticipation will hold a reader’s attention.

The plot also provides reasons and explanations for the occurrences in the story, as well as offers conflict and obstacles that the protagonist must overcome to hopefully create growth. These elements create a connection with the reader. It entices the reader to keep turning the pages. Without a plot it is difficult to create growth and movement for the protagonist. It might be comparable to looking at a still photo. It might be a beautiful photo and may even conjure up emotions in the viewer, but how long do you think it would hold a reader’s attention?

Along with this, the plot molds the protagonist. It causes growth and movement in the character. Assume you have a timid woman who through circumstances, the plot, transforms into a brave, strong, forceful hero. Where would the story be without the events that lead this timid woman to move past herself and into a new existence?

Character Driven Story

On the other hand, a character driven story creates a bond between the protagonist and reader. It is the development and growth of the character, the character’s personal journey, which motivates the reader to connect. There doesn’t need to be twists and turns, or fire works. The reader becomes involved with the character and this is all the enticement the reader needs to keep reading.

In addition to this, the character works hand in hand with the plot to move the story forward. As the character begins her transformation the plot moves in the same direction.

In some instances, such as short stories, a character driven story can work amazingly well, such as in The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. In cases such as this, the connection developed between the character and the reader can be more than enough to satisfy the reader. But, all in all, it seems to be the combined efforts of a well plotted and character driven story that works the best.

The Best of Both Worlds

According to science fiction and fantasy writer, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., “The best fiction should be an intertwined blend of character, plot, setting, and style.” I agree; all elements of a story working together create stories that will be remembered.

All the aspects of a story should complement each other, should move each other forward to a satisfying conclusion, and should draw the reader in. If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short. As with all things in life balance is necessary, the same holds true when writing a story.

MORE ON WRITING FICTION

Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules
Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Sep 14

Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors

You’ve been working on your story for a while now and you think it’s just about done. It’s been critiqued numerous times and you revised it numerous times. Now, it’s time for editing. This entails proofreading and self-editing. You don’t want to short-change yourself on the last stretch, so get ready to put the final layers of polish on your manuscript.

While this article is geared toward children’s writers, it has information for just about all writers.

Here are 10 tips you can use to help fine-tune your children’s manuscript:

1. Check for Clarity

Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. It’d be a good idea to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.

2. Check for “Telling” and lackluster sentences

Check each sentence for telling. While you will need some effective telling, you want to have more showing.

Example: Joe hit his head and was dazed.
Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a moment and fell to the ground.

Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.

A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) to create a living character; this will help breathe life into your story.

Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.

Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.

3. Watch for head hopping

Checking for head hopping is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.

If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there.

If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, it wouldn’t be advisable to say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture.

You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair; they were friends for so long.

Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what’s wrong?”

4. Watch for story consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow

Checking for consistency, conflict, clarity, and flow is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer it’s even more important. Children need a structured story that’s consistent. The story also needs to provide conflict and action to keep the child engaged, along with clarity to help with comprehension. It should also flow smoothly with one paragraph, chapter moving seamlessly into the next.

5. Use spell-check

Make sure you write with spell-check on or use your word processor’s spell-check when you’re finished with your manuscript. I like writing with it on.

Just be careful here because while spell-check will catch misspelled words it won’t catch words that are spelled correct, but are the incorrect word in regard to meaning.

Example: He was to tired.
Correct: He was too tired.

These words are called homonyms and spell-check will not catch them.

A homonym is a word that sounds like another word, but is spelled different and has a different meaning. Examples of homonyms are: hare/here/hair; bare/bear/; stationary/stationery; peek/peak; principle/principal; capital/capitol; compliments/complements; cite/site/sight.

6. Use the FIND function on your word processor

This is a great tool to check for “ly” words, “ing” words, weak verbs, and over used words such as “was.”

7. Watch for redundancy

Check the story for repeated phrasing and even paragraph beginnings. You don’t want several paragraphs in a row beginning with “the” or other repetitive wording. When editing your manuscript use the Find function in your word program and look for overused words.

Another aspect of redundancy is using unnecessary words.

Example: Sit down on the chair.
The word ‘down’ is redundant; ‘sit’ implies down.

Example: She whispered quietly.
The word ‘quietly’ is redundant. Whisper implies quietly.

8. Check for tight writing

In today’s market, tight writing is important—readers have a shorter attention span. So, get rid of unnecessary words and text.

Example: Joe had a really hard time lifting the very heavy and big trunk.
Alternative: Joe struggled to lift the huge trunk.

Also, watch for words such as “began” and “started.”

Example: He began to lift the trunk.
Alternative: He lifted the trunk.

9. Check for punctuation and grammar

There are a number of great books and even online articles that will help you learn proper punctuation and grammar. Two books that I use are: The Frugal Editor by Carolyn Howard Johnson and The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek.

You can also do a Google search.

10. Take illustrations into account

When writing a picture book you need to allow for illustrations. Picture books are a marriage between content and illustrations—a 50/50 deal. So, watch for text that an illustration can handle. With picture books your content doesn’t have to describe every little detail—the illustrations will embellish the story.

Well, this completes the 10 tips, but please know that self-editing is a tricky business and this is not an all inclusive list. Even knowing all the obstacles to watch out for, self-editing is still tricky. It’s almost impossible for us writers to catch all our own errors; we’re much too close to our work. We know every nook and cranny of the story and that makes it difficult to read it in a fresh manner. Even if we think we’re reading every word, our mind is way ahead of us, that’s why it’s advisable to look into hiring an editor.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put ‘Children’s Writing Help’ in the Subject line)

MORE ON WRITING

Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
Characters or Story – Which Comes First?

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.writersonthemove.com/2011/08/self-editing-10-tips-checklist-for.html

Sep 07

Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips

Manuscript submissions

Writing is a personal experience. Each writer faces his or her own obstacles and processes. But, one common aspect of writing is it always starts with an idea. You may take that idea and turn it into an outline. You then take your outline and sprinkle it with letters and words and watch it grow. Words turn into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters.

The writing journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Time passes, and finally the day arrives – your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

There are eight steps that every writer, especially those new to the business of writing, should follow before submitting a manuscript:

1.    Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then self-edit your story until it’s the best you can do.

2.    Make sure you belong to a critique group in your genre. Submit your ms for critique.

3.    Revise your story again taking into account the critiques you received. Here you want to use common sense in regard to which critiques you listen to. If all your critique group members tell you a particular section of your children’s story is age inappropriate, listen. If one member tells you he/she doesn’t like the protagonist’s name, use your own discretion.

4.    Resubmit the manuscript to the critique group again. See if you’ve revised or removed all the problem areas.

5.    Proofread and self-edit the manuscript until you think it’s perfect.

6.    Print the manuscript and check it again. You’ll be surprised at the different types of errors that will be found in this format. You should use a colored pen or pencil for these corrections so they’ll be easy to spot later on.

7.    Now, it’s time for the final corrections. Give it another go over.

8.    Have your manuscript professionally edited.

If you’re questioning why you need to have your manuscript professionally edited after going to the trouble of having it critiqued and worked on it meticulously and endlessly, the answer is simple: An author and a critique group are not a match for the expert eyes of a professional editor.

Did you and your critique group catch all the punctuation errors? How about knowing when or if it is permissible to use quotation marks outside of dialogue? Do you know about the Find function on your word program to check for over used words, such as was and very. What about ellipsis dots, or the over use of adjectives and adverbs? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it understandable why it’s important to take that extra step, and yes, expense, to have your manuscript edited. If you’re undecided, ask the professional writers you know if they recommend it. You can also ask if they could recommend a qualified and affordable editor.

The powers that be, editors, agents, reviewers, and publishers, all know the difference between a professionally edited manuscript and one that is not. Every house needs a solid foundation, right? Getting your manuscript professional edited is the same thing – it will provide a solid foundation. The number of authors seeking publishers and/or agents is staggering. Yet, the number of publishers and agents is limited. Give your manuscript every advantage possible. One of those advantages is having it professionally edited. It can be the deciding factor in whether your manuscript makes it to the editor’s ‘to read’ pile or the trash pile.

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a publishable book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Send 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.

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing
Critiques are Essential for Writers
5 Must-Know Tips on Writing a Powerful Thriller (and most other fiction stories)

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Aug 24

Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing

The writing craft

In the June 2010 issue of The Writer, author Jane Yolen discussed the need to learn the craft of writing in an article titled, “Dedicate Yourself to a Writing Apprenticeship.” She explained that the process is slow and long, but is necessary to being a writer, to learn the craft of writing.

If you’re wondering what the craft of writing is, it’s proper writing technique, grammar, and style. These writing elements include structure, formatting, clarity, and in fiction writing, plot, character development, point of view, and dialogue. Even knowing the particulars in the genre you write is important.

So, what exactly is the meaning of the word ‘craft?’

Wikipedia’s definition is, “A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work.”

Merriam-Webster refers to ‘craft’ as an occupation requiring “artistic skill.”

And, TheFreeDicitionary.com mentions membership in a guild.

Between all three definitions we know that a ‘craft’ is a branch of a professional group or guild. It is a career or occupation, not simply a hobby.

Interestingly, there are various avenues that can be taken to become an accomplished or professional writer, but each one has the need for learning, practice, time, and commitment. Some writers may go to school and get degrees, others may learn from a coach or mentor, others from trial and error, failures and successes. But, whichever path is taken, there is a lot of work that goes into becoming experienced and knowledgeable, in being a writer. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

But today, with the easy-to-do-it-yourself self-publishing explosion, writers may not be viewed as professionals. Certainly, most people have read a self-published book or e-book that lacks proper grammar, structure, and even clarity. These products are easy to spot, but yet they’re available for sale, and the authors consider themselves writers.

While it’s great that those who want to write have a vehicle to publish their own work, especially in this overwhelmed publishing market, those who don’t take the time to learn the craft of writing do themselves and others an injustice. They make the self-publishing book market murky and the label of ‘writer’ less professional.

This shouldn’t be the case.

Think of a professional musician. Imagine him playing an amazing piece, smooth, fluid, and beautiful – every note is perfect. Now imagine another musician; this one isn’t in tune, can’t read the music, misses notes, and sounds awful. Which musician do you want to be?

You should want to be the professional; the one who offers polished and experienced work; the one who earns a reputation for quality.

According to WritersHelper.com, it doesn’t matter what your experience level is, there is always room for improvement. Writers should strive to “study ways to improve their craft.” While this may take time and work, it is easy to find the needed help and resources.

To begin, do a search for online writing instruction; try the keyword “learn to write.” You can also check your local schools for adult education classes, or take some college writing courses. There is an abundance of writing information available, much of it free or very inexpensive; take advantage of it.

Being a writer means you need to learn the craft of writing, and continue honing your skills.

Originally published at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2012/01/being-writer-learn-craft-of-writing.html (site no longer active)

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Finding Children’s Story Ideas
Writing with Clarity
Imagery and Your Story

Need help with your story?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your 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, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

Please Share!
Aug 23

Critiques are Essential for Writers

Critiques and AuthorsAs an author, editor, ghostwriter as well as a former book reviewer, it’s easy to tell which authors haven’t bother to have their work critiqued or edited.

Any advice I give, whether in articles or e-books on writing for children or writing in general, I always include the importance of belonging to a critique group. Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides.

The critique group can catch a number of potential problems with your manuscript:

1. grammatical errors
2. holes in your story
3. unclear sentences, paragraphs, or dialogue
4. the forward movement of the story
5. overuse of a particular word, adjectives and adverbs
6. unnecessary words to help create a tight story

The list goes on and on. And, there are even more potential problems to be watched out for when writing for children. It’s near impossible for even an experienced writer to catch all his or her own errors.

Your critique partners will also provide suggestions and guidance. Note here, it is up to you whether to heed those suggestion and comments, but if all the members of your group suggest you rewrite a particular sentence for clarity, hopefully a light will go off and you’ll pay attention.

Along with having those extras sets of eyes to help you along, you will begin to see your own writing improve. You will also be able to find your own errors and those of others much quicker. This will help you become a better and more confident writer.

Now, while the critique group does not take the place of an editor, they do help you get to the point where you think you’re ready for submission. At this point, it is always advisable to seek an editor to catch what you and your critique group misses. And, believe me, there will be something in your manuscript that wasn’t picked up on.

When looking into joining a critique group, be sure the group you join has both new and experienced writers. The experienced writers will help you hone your craft just through their critiques of your work.

So, today’s tip: if you’re not already a member of a critique group, join one today!

MORE ON WRITING

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path
Children, the Environment, and Story Telling
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the subject line)

Aug 17

Finding Children’s Story Ideas

Children's writing and finding ideasSitting at the computer with a blank word document in front of you may be intimidating for a writer. You just finished one manuscript, or you’ve hired out to ghostwrite a story, or whatever the reason is, you need to begin writing a children’s story.

Hmmm. What should it be about? You think and think. You gaze out the window. You draw a blank.

Alexander Steele wrote a short article in the October 2010 issue of the Writer, “Where can you find the seeds of a good story?” It was interesting to read that Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, had his own whaling adventures which he used to create a wonderful and everlasting story. Steele advices, “Probably the most fertile place to look for ideas is right inside the backyard of your own life.”

You might be thinking you don’t have close contact with children and your childhood was boring, so you don’t have any experiences do draw on. Or, you may be so busy living your life and raising your children that you don’t have time to stop and see all the amazing story opportunities that are right in your own backyard. Well, even if these scenarios fit, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

Finding Story Ideas if You Don’t Have Close Contact with Children:

1. Turn on the TV. Yes, this is an excellent source for story ideas, as well as watching children’s behavior. While it may be in the confines of a scripted show, the writers of these shows try to keep it as real as possible. Take note of the situations, the attitudes of the actors, the scenes, and everything else. Even children’s cartoons have engaging storylines. It may be just the spark you need.

2. Go to a playground with notebook in hand. Watch the children play and listen to them talk. If you’re a professional writer (ghostwriter), or you’re already published, consider asking your local age appropriate school if you could sit in the lunchroom during lunch periods. A useful way to get a positive answer would be to first ask if you could give an author or writing presentation to the students. The principal would need to be sure you are a legitimate writer. Please note though, there may be legal and safety aspects a school would need to consider.

Note: If you do go to a playground or other area where there are children, be sure to inform parents/guardians of what you’re doing. It’d be a good idea to bring a copy of one of your published books with you, so they feel comfortable that you are indeed a writer. It’s a crazy world, always take precautions, and keep the safety of our children at the forefront.

3. Read newly published children’s books, and reread ones you enjoyed as a child then reinvent a story. This is a tip I took advantage of with my own children’s fantasy chapter book. I read an old Chinese tale and reinvented it for a children’s book. I was recently reminded of this ‘story idea source’ by multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke.

Finke advised to study books you like; pay attention to why they work, then “craft an entirely new story.” She explained that, “quirky and fresh” wins publishing contracts today.

Finding Story Ideas if You Do Have Close Contact with Children

1. Study the children you do have contact with, whether your own children, your grandchildren, or other relatives. Children are an amazing source of inspiration and ideas. They have an innate ability to make you feel: just looking at a picture of children may make you smile; hearing a baby laugh can actually make you laugh.

Watch the children, notice their mannerisms, body language, movements, attitudes and emotions, speech, and their interactions with other children and adults. You’ll not only get story ideas, you’ll also get dialogue and ‘showing’ descriptions.

2. If you have regular contact with children, you really shouldn’t need any other steps, just listen, observe, and take notes. But, if the character’s age of your new story differs from the ages of the children you see, use the steps noted above.

MORE ON WRITING

Writing – Are You Showing or Telling
Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your 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)

Aug 03

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path

Writing and Publishing

Children’s books fall into one of three primary categories: picture books, middle grade, and young adult. And, children’s writers need to take the necessary steps to achieve success whether aiming at traditional publishing or self-publishing.

In regard to traditional publishing, there are four steps in a writing career: writing, submissions to agents and publishers, book sales, and a writing career.

1. Writing

Actually writing, and all that it entails, is the basis of a career in writing, whether writing books, articles, becoming a ghostwriter, or copywriter. And, each of these career goals takes a number of steps that involve time and effort. But, we’re focusing on writing for children.

A. The first step is to write, but in addition to writing, the new writer will need to learn the craft of writing, along with the particular tricks of writing for children. Children’s writing is more complicated than other forms of writing. The reason is because you’re dealing with children.

Rules, such as age-appropriate words, age-appropriate topics, age-appropriate comprehension, storylines and formatting are all features that need to be tackled when writing for children.

Within the first step rung, you will also need to read, read, and read in the genre you want to write. Pay special attention to recently published books and their publishers. What works in these books? What type of style is the author using? What topics/storylines are publisher’s publishing?

Dissect these books, and you might even write or type them word-for-word to get a feel for writing that works. This is a trick that writers new to copywriting use – you can trick your brain into knowing the right way to write for a particular genre or field. Well, not so much trick your brain as teach it by copying effective writing. Just remember, this is for the learning process only – you can not use someone else’s work, that’s plagiarism.

If you need extra help writing your story, check out my book on writing for children: How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.

B. The next step, number two, is to become part of a critique group and have your work critiqued. Critiquing is a two-way street; you will critique the work of other member of the critique group and they will critique yours. But, there are advantages to critiquing other writers’ works – you begin to see errors quickly and notice what’s being done right. This all helps you hone your craft.

C. Step three on the writing rung is to revise your manuscript according to your own self-editing and critiques from others. It’s also recommended to put the story away for a couple of weeks and then revisit it. You’ll see a number of areas that may need revising that you hadn’t noticed before.

There are also some self-editing steps you can take to help the process. You can check out:

Ten Tips Checklist for Self-Editing

D. It would also be advisable if you budget for a professional editing of your manuscript before you begin submissions. No matter how careful you and your critique partners are, a working editor will pick up things you missed.

2. Submissions

Before you think about submitting your work anywhere, be sure you’ve completed the necessary steps in number one. You’re manuscript needs to be as polished as you can possibly get it.

Submissions can fall into two categories: those to publishers and those to agents. In regard to submitting to agents, in a Spring 2011 webinar presented by Writer’s Digest, agent Mary Kole advised to “research agents.” This means to find out what type of agent they are in regard to the genre they work with and the agent platform they provide: do they coddle their authors, do they crack the whip, are they aggressive, passive, involved, or complacent. Know what you’re getting into before querying an agent, and especially before signing a contract.

Here are a couple of sites you can visit to learn about agents:

http://agentquery.com
http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/

The same advice works for submitting to publishers also. Research publishers before submitting to them. Know which genres of children’s books they handle and the type of storylines they’re looking for.

Whether submitting to a publisher or an agent, always follow the guidelines and always personalize the query. There may be times the guidelines do not provide the name of the editor to send the query to, but if you can find that information, use it.

According to Mary Kole, it’s also important to know how to pitch your story. This entails finding the story’s hook. Agents and publishers also want to know what the book’s selling points will be and what successful books it’s similar to. In addition, they will expect to be told what your marketing strategy will be. It’s a good idea to create an online presence and platform before you begin submissions; let the agents and publishers know you will actively market your book.

Along with the story’s hook, you need to convey: who your main character is and what he/she is about; the action that drives the story; the main character’s obstacle, and if the main character doesn’t overcome the obstacle, what’s at stake.

Ms. Kole recommends reading “the back of published books” to see how they briefly and effectively convey the essence of the story. This will give you an idea of how to create your own synopsis.

When querying, keep your pitch short and professional, and keep your bio brief and relevant. You will need to grab the editor or agent and make them want to read your manuscript.

3. A Contract and Book Sales

If you do your homework, you’re manuscript will eventually find a home. Don’t let initial rejections, if you receive them, deter you. A published writer may not be the best writer, but she is definitely a writer who perseveres.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point begin editing with the publisher’s editor. From start to actual release, the publishing process can take one to two years.

A couple of months prior to your book’s release, you should begin promotion to help with book sales. After its release, you will want to take part in virtual book tours, workshops, webinars, blogtalk radio guest spots, school visits (if available), and all the other standard book promotion strategies.

Be sure to also create your Amazon Author page and fill in everything you can to make readers aware of you and your books.

And, don’t forget to get reviews. Book reviews help sell books. You can find out more about getting and using book reviews effectively with How to Get Great Book Reviews by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

4. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). The next and final step is to repeat the process. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so hopefully you’ve been writing other stories. If not, get started now. On average, an author writes a book every one to two years.

Along with keeping up with writing your books, having published books opens other writing opportunities, such as speaking engagements, conducting workshops and/or teleseminars, and coaching. There are a number of marketers who say your ‘book’ is your business card; it conveys what you’re capable of and establishes you as an expert in your field or niche. Take advantage of these additional avenues of income.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional
5 Must-Know Tips on Writing a Powerful Thriller (and most other fiction stories)
Characters or Story – Which Comes First?

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Send an email to: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Please Share

Jun 21

5 Must-Use Tips on Writing a Powerful Thriller (and most other fiction stories)

Tips to writing fiction

In Brian Klems’ Writer’s Digest Column on Writing, I read a great article titled, “The 5 C’s of Writing a Great Thriller Novel.”

While I’m not a thriller writer, the information in this article is applicable to just about all fiction writing.

There are fundamental elements needed in all fiction to make it reader engaging and friendly. In other words, to make it ‘page turning good.’

The five C’s of writing a great thriller the article mentioned are:

1. Make Your Characters Three- Dimensional

The characters in your story need to be carefully chosen and they need to be three-dimensional. Your hero can’t be ALL good and your antagonist can’t be ALL bad.

Klem’s explains to create “complex characterization” and to “brainstorm a list of at least 10 inner demons your hero has to fight.”

2. The Name of the ‘Fiction Writing’ Game is Conflict

Every story needs conflict. Klems calls it ‘confrontation.’ The hero needs to overcome obstacles to finally reach his goals.

Having the antagonist battling his own demons or righting some wrong that makes him act unethical or even murderous is additional conflict you can season your story with.

You need to create ups and downs and interesting multi-faceted characters.

3. Twists and Turns

‘Careening,’ as Klems puts it, is about creating twists and turns that keep the story from being predictable.

This element of the story keeps the reader on her toes. Klems says, “Part of the fun for readers is thinking a story is going one way, and getting taken completely by surprise.”

4. Make Your Reader Feel

This story element is essential for all fiction, but especially in a thriller. You want your reader to feel what the character is feeling and you want it to read authentic, believable.

You need the reader to be scared or hold their breath with anticipation.

To do this, Klems suggests “recalling an emotional moment in your life, and recreate each of the senses in your memory (sight, smell, touch, sound, etc.) until you begin to feel the emotion again.” He calls this story element, ‘coronary.’

Once you start remembering, you will begin to feel what you did at the time. Then write it down. Write what you felt.

5. The Take-Away (intended or not)

Most writers want their stories to have some take-away value. It could be some kind of moral enlightenment, food for thought, or other tidbit.

The same holds true for thriller writers.

Klems explains that “you ought to spend some time asking yourself what your thriller is really about. Does it offer hope for justice? Does it end with justice denied?”

Another very interesting point Klems brings out is that some writers, especially “aspiring thriller writers,” don’t see the value in thinking about a take-away value for the story. “There’s nothing wrong with this approach, as long as you realize that you will be saying something. Why not be intentional about it?”

This is such a great point. Don’t assume the reader will be content with ending their reading with the thrill and action. Inevitably, they will take something else from the story, possibly something you didn’t intend. At least lead them in the right direction.

There you have it, five tips on writing a great thriller and on writing other fiction that will have the reader turning the pages and coming back for more.

Reference:
http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-5-cs-of-writing-a-great-thriller-novel

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MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory
Learning to Write for Children – It’s More Than Just ABC
Imagery and Your Story

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a publishable book you’ll be proud of.

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

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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May 25

Characters or Story – Which Comes First?

Which comes first, characters or story?A number of articles about writing for children, and other genres suggest knowing your characters inside and out before beginning the story. In fact, information suggests that the author build the story around the characters once they are fully developed.

While this is good advice, and many experienced authors recommend this technique, there are some authors who occasionally watch their characters unveil themselves right before their eyes.

This is such an interesting method of writing. Your character introduces himself and gradually reveals bits and pieces, and blossoms as the story moves along. Sometimes a story doesn’t begin with this intent, it just happens. This is known as the seat-of-you-pants method of writing.

You do need to be careful with this method though, you may lose track of all the bits and pieces that make up the character. So, a good way to keep track of those quirky telltale marks, expressions, behavior patterns, and physical features is to note them on a separate page or character card as they become unveiled. You wouldn’t want your character to have brown eyes in one chapter and blue eyes in another – unless of course, it’s a science fiction or paranormal and part of the storyline.

So, is there a right or wrong answer to the question of which comes first, characters or story? That depends on the writer.

While it may be important to know your characters, and even have a family and background established for them, even if they are not used in the story, you can also become acquainted as you go along. As your story develops you may find out if the character is fearful in certain situations, or if he is heroic. Sometimes it’s impossible to know this about a person, let alone a character, until circumstances create the possibility of the question.

It is one’s environment and circumstances that help develop his or her characteristics, fears, hopes, and so on. The same holds true for your character.

Using an example: How would a child who never saw a mouse before react to one? There’s no way to answer that question until it happens.

So, having the story help develop the character can be a useful tool. But, again, be sure to keep track of all the new features your character unveils along the way.

I usually come up with the story idea before getting into the characters. Then I let the characters unfold and develop as I go along.

How do you write? Story first or characters?

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MORE ON FICTION WRITING

How Do You Make a Good Story Worth of Getting Past the Gatekeeper
Learning to Write for Children – It’s More Than Just ABC
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / STORY?

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into a publishable book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Apr 29

Are You Showing or Telling?

Showing and telling in your writing

I’ve written about showing and telling before, but it’s such an important topic that I think more information is always helpful.

Writing is an ongoing adventure…always something to learn and tweak and hone. A while ago I wrote a children’s story and found I still had a bit of showing in it, noted by writing coach and children’s author Suzanne Lieurance who gave it a critique.

I was toying with the idea of submitting my story as a picture book, but was advised it would work out better as a children’s magazine article, unless I wanted to rewrite it specifically for a PB.

Anyway, I noticed that when I write, and I think this goes for most of us, my thoughts precede my reading and writing ability – so I don’t catch my own errors. This happens because I know what I wrote and what I intend to convey. This makes it almost impossible for a writer to edit her (or his) own work. You can get close, but as the saying goes, Almost Doesn’t Cut It.

What do I mean? Well, let’s look at a simple sentence:

In a daze, Pete stumbled to his feet.

While this isn’t the exact sentence in my story, it is similar. I revised my article and reread it numerous times and didn’t notice that “in a daze” is telling, not showing. And, what’s the KEY to writing in today’s fast paced, no time to waste world? FOCUS AND TIGHT WRITING.

In fact, the fast paced reader of today is getting even more impatient and ready to move on in the blink of an eye. So, we need to take this into account in our writing and marketing.

Okay, back to the focus of the article…

So, how do we change the above sentence into a showing only sentence?

Dazed, Pete stumbled to his feet.

Really simple when you are able to actually read what is written rather than already know what you intended.

What are the important tips to take away?

1. Make sure you are part of a critique group. These groups can be super-helpful. If you’re a children’s writer, you can find one in the forum of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrations (SCBWI). There’s a yearly fee, but it’s worth the investment.

2. Belong to writing groups in the genre you write. Usually, you can ask questions and get answers.

3. If your budget can afford it, get at least one grammar editing tool. I use Grammarly and ProWritingAid. They may not specifically tell you you’re ‘telling’, but they will tell you if you’re using passive writing.

Just be careful not to depend on it solely. I’ve had both tools miss an ending dialogue punctuation on a client’s work.

For more on showing versus telling (the article has been updated):

Writing – Showing vs. Telling

4. Do not submit your work to a publisher or agent before you’ve edited it and proofed carefully. It’s important to have someone who knows how to write to review or critique your manuscript for you (if you’re not already a part of a critique group).

5. If it’s in your budget, have it professionally edited.

MORE ON WRITING

Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory
Learning to Write for Children – It’s More Than Just ABC

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your story into a publishable story that you’ll be proud of.

Just send me an email to: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.