Sunday, October 17, 2021

Techniques for Cultivating Creative Writing Ideas by Deborah Lyn


Make cultivating ideas part of your writing process. Creative writing needs inspiration—motivation will follow quickly to get that personal essay, story, or novel written!

“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” And
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein.


Whether we write fiction or non-fiction stories, growing our list of project ideas is vital. As our list grows and our process expands, we’ll foster descriptive writing techniques. We will use sense words—sight, sound, smell, taste & touch to enhance our writing.

So let’s get playful!

The “What If” game is great for exploring ideas outside the box.
“What if I could…?”
“What if my hero…”
“What if I had made a different _______________ choice?
“What if someone found out…?”
Continue to ask “What Ifs” to use now or later for inspiration.

Be curious with “Why” questions:
“Why a story instead of a poem?”
“Why set it in the country rather than a metropolis?” Rural vs City dwellers
“Why not write from a different perspective.
•    How would my favorite author describe this?
•    How would a four or five-year-old describe this scene?
•    Describe a scene from a fast-moving train or flying in a single-engine plane, or better yet, a helicopter.

•    Use story structure basics, then branch out to make it original, even inventive: A character struggles to overcome a problem, and meets with eventual success.
    -Jane Austen used this format to create great original variations. She borrowed and created new.
    -Heidi is another example: orphaned children journey to find a home
    -It’s a Wonderful Life, classic Christmas movie
    -Cinderella: cruelly and unfairly treated, in the end she’s the heroine

•    Try using TV listings, or movie synopsis as prompts to stimulate ideas
•    Magazine and online images can be great writing prompts, for story or free writing
•    Folktales retold your way
•    Coming of age struggles, confusion, and solutions
•    Contemporary prince or princess in love with a commoner
•    A school for superheroes to rescue ______________
Keep building your ideas list.
It’ll be hard to keep-up with the rush of thoughts!

Good practice points for a satisfying writing life:
•    Don’t wait for inspiration. Do something you love, it will spark ideas.
•    Set aside your best time to write for 20-30 minutes, make it an appointment and keep it.
•    Let go of perfectionism! It defeats playfulness.
     -Change things up—write by hand, write on scraps of paper, be messy, break rules, whatever works to stay playful!
     -Forget mistakes. You can fix them easy enough on the next draft.

Just Write!
Try Stuff, First Get It Written, Revise the Next Draft


See post: WOTM: 9.17.2021 Read Well, Creative Writing Resources, by Deborah Lyn Stanley


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/   

Visit her caregiver’s website: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/
Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love on Amazon



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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Using Psychology to Write Characters

By Mindy Lawrence

One of the first writers I fell in love with was Edgar Allan Poe. His gothic horror latched on to my mind. I was powerless to save anyone from going over the precipice. He not only got into the heads of his characters but also into the heads of his readers.

Using psychological information to reach out and grab your audience can create unforgettable characters that burrow into the psyche. Questions you can answer to create memorable protagonists and antagonists include:

What are my characters afraid of?

Is your character afraid of water and has to take a trip at sea? Is your protagonist raised by a family that strongly believes in hell and tortures them with the fear of going there? Fears like these can drive characters to do what they might not have done without their unconscious psychological upbringing. Decide what triggers those in your novel to fear.

What do my characters hate and why?

Did your protagonist or antagonist grow up in a household that hated cats? How about people or another religion or background? Making your characters try to overcome their faults (or carry through with them) can drive your story.

What are my characters’ oddities and what caused them?

When I think about oddities in characters, I think about Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. In the first few pages, we get a snapshot of Ignatius that we picture in our heads throughout the entire book. He hates so many things. He writes his worldview in Big Chief notebooks. He’s obviously unsound of mind but winds up solving a crime by accident.

What backstory affected my characters?

What does the character(s) go through before the story begins that causes them to react as they do? Were they raised in a cult? In poverty? In a well-to-do family? All this affects the way the character thinks and acts.

Is there any salvation for my character(s) or is the story destined to follow the path it takes?

Like Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, does his hate doom him from the beginning? Or like in Lord Jim does the main character find his own salvation and come to terms with his actions?

Characters that remain in our heads come from good development. Consider building your story using psychology to grab your reader, maybe forever.

Take some time to dig into the minds of your creations.


LINKS (For those not hyper, just copy and paste into your browser.)

Character Development Fears
https://unblockingwritersblock.tumblr.com/post/110467516538/character-development-fears

Imagined Human Beings: A Psychological Approach to Character and Conflict in Literature
http://plaza.ufl.edu/bjparis/books/imagined/imagined.pdf

What Really Drives your Characters?
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychology-writers/201109/what-really-drives-your-characters

The Psychology of Character
http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/02/17/the-psychology-of-character/

How to Diagnose your Character
https://www.amazon.com/How-Diagnose-Your-Character-Depth-ebook/dp/B00CH3WERA

How to Craft Characters Scene by Scene
http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-craft-characters-scene-by-scene


==


Mindy Lawrence is a writer and artist based in Farmington, Missouri. She worked for the State of Missouri for over twenty-four years and has retired to her sumptuous home office where she’s writing, doing calligraphy, and making a mess. She has been published in Writers Digest magazine and interviewed by All Things Considered.

 

 



Saturday, October 9, 2021

Podcast Guesting: 10 Ways to Find Podcasts Where You Can Pitch Yourself



There's nothing like sharing your enthusiasm for your projects through a podcast. When you are interviewed - whether it's on camera or audio-only - you get to share your expertise, as well as talk about your books and your business. Plus, it's so much fun!

As an extrovert, I love interviewing - I host the #GoalChat Twitter chat, #GoalChatLive show on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast - and being interviewed. 

The challenge for authors, experts, and entrepreneurs is finding good podcasts, along with hosts who ideally share your interest, values, and energy.   

Last month, I wrote about how to be a good guest on a podcast, video show, or blog. In this post, I will share tips for finding podcasts to pitch.

But I am getting ahead of myself...
 

Here are 10 Ways to Find Podcasts to Pitch 

 

1. Check Your Podcast Player. What podcasts do you listen to? Are any of them a good fit for you as a guest? As a fan of a podcast you pitch, you are at an advantage, since you know the show.

Get Recommendations. You can ...

2. Ask Your Friends. Who has a podcast? Who listens to podcasts? 

3. Post to Social Media. (Same questions as #2.)

4. Ask Hosts. The podcast community is small. After you are interviewed, see if the host can recommend you as a guest to any friends.

5. Check Your Peer's Media Pages. See where your friends, as well as your competitors, have been interviewed.  

6. Suggest Podcast Swaps. Interview your peers and ask that they do the same. 

Do Podcast Networking

7. Join Facebook and LinkedIn Groups. There are plenty of social networking groups dedicated to matching podcasts with guests. Do a search. 

8. Sign Up for Podcast Matchmakers. Options include 

9. Go to Podcast Meetups. Groups, such as Speakers Playhouse and Podcasters Connect & Collaborate, run the speed-dating version of podcast pitching. 

10. Attend Online Mixers. Meet new people, so you can expand your network. You never know who the people you meet know... Then go back to #2 and #3.

* * *

Before pitching a podcast, be sure to listen to at least a few episodes. You want to have a sense of the person you are talking to and their beliefs. For instance, if you are a vegetarian cookbook author, the Meat America Podcast would not be a good fit. (Yes, a googled it. That podcast does exist!)

Once you find a podcast you like, write a review, tweet about it, and interact with the host on social media. That way, when they receive your pitch, it will not be from a total stranger.

When you pitch, you want to stand out. Be sure to personalize your email: call the host by their (spelled-correctly) name and reference something specific as to why you like the show. Share who you are, why you are a great fit for their podcast, and talking points. Bonus points for referencing your social media following and how you plan to promote the episode.

* * *

When you pitch yourself to be on a podcast, let your enthusiasm shine through. After all, you are doing the hosts a favor, as they are always on the lookout for great guests! 


* * *

What's your best tip for finding podcasts to pitch? Please share in the comments.


* * *

Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, Deb works with entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women's National Book Association; host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat, #GoalChatLive on Facebook and LinkedIn, and The DEB Show podcast. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Writers on the Move Contributor Carolyn Howard-Johnson Talks Book Covers


 
 To One Degree or Another

Why and How Your Book Cover Is Always Your Business 

Most authors start dreaming about their book covers well before their manuscript is ready to publish. They start paying attention to what they encounter of the internet, which is often more disinformation than something they can or should use. One of the least helpful tells them that if they are going the traditional route, they should expect their publisher will not welcome their ideas or expertise (if any exists) to be used under their trademark. In fact, an effort on the part of the author will be an annoyance. Basically, they are told to butt out. Actually, the professional thing an author should do when they have a question is to ask—in the publishing process or—even better—in the contract-signing process.
 
My series of books for writers is a case where these naysayers were wrong. The publisher of Modern History Press made an effort to work with the book cover designer I used when I was self-publishing the series. We ended up with his designer and both publisher and designer accepted most of my suggestions or helped me understand why it wasn’t viable. In fact, occasionally they asked me for ideas or suggestions.
 
That is the reason authors—no matter how they hope to publish or how they end up publishing—will benefit if they start considering what their book cover should look like beyond what they see in their dreams.
 
Here are five things that an author can do to better prepare them for whatever role they play in the publishing process:
 
1.     We can learn a lot about what makes a good book cover by just looking at the best of them--in airport bookstore windows and in our favorite bookstores.
2.     We can learn a lot about what not to do by looking at book covers on Amazon where they are often only thumbnail size. I got a reminder about the importance of bookstores as I was scrolling through the books offered on an online book promotion service as I was trying to decide which books to retweet to my 40,000 plus publishing industry followers. I had to bypass many that might have otherwise worked for me but for lack of a prominent author's name on the cover. A cover must feature the name of the author big enough to be seen from a distance or in an image shrunk to accommodate the layout needed for online bookstores’ formats. That author name should be defined by color, outline, font style and more to be read. You’ll see some with the authors’ name in three-dimensional gold foil! Keep in mind you, the author, may one day be a star and it will be your name people remember, not necessarily the title of the book.
3.     Even poetry and fiction authors should watch how poorly (and well!) some book covers use subtitles. It’s a good idea to jot down ideas that occur to you and put them into Notes or some other file.
4.     Pay attention to the way front and back covers blend into the design of the spine. Having a hard delineation for what can be an imaginary line can cause big problems for a printer. (You may end up publishing independently and will be ahead of the game if you’re aware of this before your select your professional designer. You will be her or his partner and boss.
5.     Pay attention to the covers of already-published books in your genre. It will teach you what you like and what to avoid. 

So here is the new book cover of my recently published  second edition of my booklet "Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers" (Modern History Press). I broke the "rules" and suggested a larger author name for my problematical name, a very, very long one. I quickly learned, all my “advisors” had been wrong. Victor Volkman, the publisher, was able to magically improve it by using what is widely regarded as the most easily read font of all, Times New Roman, using more contrast in color, and choosing a font that doesn't take up a lot of space—that is the letters are naturally narrower than in some other fonts. And he did it by using a readily available font—no special, expensive font design needed! And we were able to keep the retail price of the book down by using an appropriate image from an online catalog. They are sometimes reasonably priced, but they are often free. You’ll probably have to poke around a bit on image services to find the perfect one for your book.


Note: I am fussy about what I called “canned images.” Some authors select something that other authors found useful, many others. See the suggestion about paying attention to books in your genre that have already been published.
 
Now you can do this for the next book you publish with Kindle Direct Publishing or anywhere else that offers handy (and frugal!) cover templates. Remember what I tell my clients. "You may love Stephen King.  But quick! Name all of his books. OK, name three." You can see that your readers remember you better than they remember your titles--even if you are as famous as King. 
----
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically launched to rave reviews from Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews and others:
 
“How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically [and other books in the series] could well serve as a textbook for a college Writing/Publishing curriculum.”

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Friday, October 1, 2021

Foreshadowing in Fiction

 


Foreshadowing is a literary device used to make the reader wonder. It gives the story a sense of mystery or anticipation. It can also create tension.

According to Literary Devices, using this device, “a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story." (1)

Foreshadowing is a great device to keep the reader involved in the story and the characters.

There are a number of foreshadowing strategies. Below are four of them.

An Approaching Event

An example of this type of foreshadowing is in “Walking Through Walls.” Wang (the protagonist) listens as his friend, Chen, tell how neighboring warriors kidnapped his sister.  

The reader surmises or anticipates that there will be an upcoming battle to rescue Chen’s sister.

The Pre-scene

A pre-scene hints at something on the horizon.

Another example might be a new student entering a classroom and another student eyes him up and down. Nothing else happens in that particular scene.
 
The reader automatically anticipates there will be trouble between the boys down the road.

In an article at Novel Writing Help, “a pre-scene is simply a smaller version of a larger scene to come. They are not significant by themselves, but they imply that there is something more spectacular waiting to happen right around the corner.” (2)

The Loaded Gun

This strategy is attributed to Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov.

He said, "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on a wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there." (3)

This type of foreshadowing doesn’t have to use a gun; it could be any object.

For example, suppose a boy is cleaning out the attic of a hundred-year-old home for a neighbor. He finds an old corroded coin. He absent-mindedly shoves it in his pocket.

The reader knows that coin is significant and expects something to happen pertaining to it in the story. If the writer is smart, she will fulfil the reader’s expectation.

The Prophecy

With this type of foreshadowing, a glimpse of misfortune to come from something that happens is given to the reader.

As an example, the albatross is a sign of good luck if seen by sailors. With the reader being privy to this knowledge, a sailor sees one fly over his ship at the midway point on every voyage he’s on. But, on this particular voyage, there is no albatross to be seen.

The implication to the reader is that there is going to be trouble for this sailor and this voyage.

Don’t Overdo It

While adding foreshadowing to your fiction story is an effective writing device, you don’t want to overdo it.

In an article at NY Book Editors, it explains that “to balance your story, there needs to be revelations and circumstances that catch the reader off-guard. If your reader is in a constant state of analysis [over foreshadowing], your pacing will suffer. To strike the perfect balance, introduce hints but then jolt your reader with something unexpected.” (4)

If you’d like to read more about foreshadowing and your fiction writing, check out the references below.

Foreshadowing is an excellent literary device when used properly. As mentioned early, it creates reader anticipation among other things.

References:

(1) https://literarydevices.net/foreshadowing/
(2) https://www.novel-writing-help.com/examples-of-foreshadowing.html
(3) https://www.writingclasses.com/toolbox/ask-writer/whats-this-business-about-chekhovs-gun
(4) https://nybookeditors.com/2018/03/how-to-foreshadow-like-a-pro/

This article was first published at:
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2018/04/08/writing-fiction-what-is-foreshadowing/  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting, rewriting, and coaching business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact Karen at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi. And, check out Karen's The Adventures of Planetman picture book series.

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Techniques for Cultivating Creative Writing Ideas by Deborah Lyn

Make cultivating ideas part of your writing process. Creative writing needs inspiration—motivation will follow quickly to get that personal ...