Showing posts with label setting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label setting. Show all posts

Use your Setting to Market your Novel

Leverage your Setting:

People have an insatiable lust for new experiences, as shown by the popularity of TV, movies, and novels.  This lust also propels another passion:  travel.  When your novel takes its readers to another place—a virtual vacation—you can easily marry the two passions.  In marketing your novel, take advantage of the huge travel industry. 

Travel websites are very popular, and can be a good way to connect meaningfully with readers who crave adventure.  If the settings of your novels are real, and especially if they're important to the flavor or plot, publishing related travel articles can hook readers who are interested in exploring more on the subject.

You may think you're not a travel writer, but you are a writer.  If you've done on-the-ground research by traveling to the places your book takes place, or if you set it in your home state or city, then you have enough expertise to write a travel article.

How to Begin:

1)  Think of the type of article that would complement your book.  You want to make magazine readers buy your novel in order to see more of the scene you've painted. 

For example, if your characters go rafting through the Grand Canyon, and you've done this yourself, you could write a meaty how-to article on planning such a trip.  If your novel is a coming of age story set in a small town in the Midwest, you could write a narrative about small-town life where you grew up, humorous or not, depending on the tone of your novel.  If your book is a wilderness survival story, you could write a philosophical reflection on the grandeur of the Alaskan Bush in comparison to our own smallness.  If your main character meets her love interest in a dance club in New York, you could write a roundup on the best dance clubs in the city, including addresses and costs and best times to go. 

2)  Research  possible e-zines to submit to.  See the lists below or Google travel magazines.  Read their guidelines carefully and pay attention to word count.  Many e-zines are looking for specific ranges, usually somewhere between 300-1500 words.  Online, shorter is often better, so the 500-800 range is quite popular.  Check out the type of stories each magazines publishes.  Make sure they include author bios, so fans can follow your work.

Start small.  Breaking into professional travel writing is difficult, and most likely isn't your goal.  However, many online travel magazines are very open to amateur freelancers, and still have good readership.  Most don't pay contributors.  The benefit lies in exposure and free marketing.  It's also something to add to your credentials in query letters and the like.  Some sites do pay small sums, usually between $10-50 per piece.

3)  Write your article.  Revise.  Polish.

4)  In your short bio, include a teaser about your novel, and how it relates to your article, so it doesn't feel like gratuitous advertising.  Be sure to include proper links so people can easily buy your work.

5)  Submit until you get published.

6)  Advertise its publication on your blog, website, social media, etc.

7)  Repeat.

Some travel magazines that currently pay contributors (a small sum) and are open to freelancers:

Literary Traveler (articles about journeys inspired by authors or literature)
2 Camels (all about festivals and events)

A few of the many travel magazines that don't pay but still give you exposure:

Real Family Travel Magazine (articles on vacations for families with kids)
US Passport Service (only international destinations)
Regional magazines and newspapers

Melinda Brasher is the author of Far-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel, and Leaving Home, a collection of short stories, travel essays, and flash fiction.  Her travel writing appears in The Expeditioner, Travel Belles, Go Nomad, International Living, and more.  Visit her blog for all the latest:

Show Me!

            Experienced writers have learned this less well, but less experienced writers are still learning it or have it yet to learn. Even for experienced writers it is good to review it every so often. What am I talking about? The “show, don’t tell” rule of writing. It sounds so simple, and yet it is one of the hardest to learn for some of us.

            Telling is what you see with narratives, and it is okay in the proper prospective. But you do not want to fill your book with telling your story. Your readers like action, dialog, descriptions, emotions, all the things that your readers can take and create a picture in their minds.

            Show your story. Give it characters your reader can fall in love with and want more of them. Give them a setting or location that their mind can grab hold of and feel they are right there with the characters. Make the characters speak to them and create action that keeps the story moving. Give descriptions of the setting and characters through narrative and some through dialog, but do not insult your readers by giving them every little detail. Readers like to be a bit creative themselves so give just enough to stimulate their own imaginations, and let them run with it.

            When you have fast-paced scenes, it is good to slow things down and give your reader a chance to breathe. Your story should run in waves of fast pace and slow pace. That is where the narrative comes in. You can use it to slow down the pace of the story.

            Someone once told me to read through my story; and if there are areas where I am telling, ask myself if there is a way I can show it rather than tell it. If there are, then I need to change it.

            Narratives do serve a purpose, so remember not to change all of them. Also remember, it is the author’s responsibility to create a world in which his/her readers can get lost and want more of it.

            Following are some points to remember when self-editing your work:  1) How often do you use narrative summary?  2) Which sections do you want to convert into scenes (action)?
3) Do you have any narrative summary? (You do need some.)  4) Are you describing your characters’ feelings or are you showing them?

Faye M. Tollison
Author of:  To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books:  The Bible Murders
                                Sarah’s Secret
Member of:  Sisters In Crime
                      Writers on the Move

Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?

Writing can be thought of as a recipe, a handful of plot, a quarter cup of setting, a third to a half cup of dialogue, and a half cup of action and forward movement. Then you also need to add just the right amount of theme, character, and style. Stir it all together and bake for several months (might be longer, depending on your oven), and that’s it.

Ah, if it were only that simple.

Today, there are a number of rules to writing that didn’t plague writers years ago when the world was slower and people actually had time to sit and read at a leisurely pace. Writers had the luxury of setting scenes in detail and didn’t have to worry about ‘telling’ too much.

Now, publishers want your story to begin with a BAM. Grab the reader right away, or you’ll lose her. And, it’s important that setting and telling are limited. In addition, don’t forget to magically weave backstory for your characters seamlessly into the mix.

So, what is the right balance of writing elements that will create a successful story?

Well, there really isn’t a pat formula. Each story will call for its own particular amounts of elements, and each publisher will have her own set of rules that the author must adhere to. But there are certain basics that all stories must contain.

The five basic elements of a story are:

Plot: The arrangement of circumstances and/or events in the story, including conflicts and resolution.

Character: Without the main character and supporting characters the plot is useless. It is the character’s struggle to overcome the conflicts or obstacles in his path that gives the plot life.

Setting: This element includes the physical backdrop of the story, the time period and location.

Atmosphere or Tone: The mood, including the setting, characters and their clothing, weather, and other elements within the story, determines the tone of the story.

Style: The author’s way of expressing herself is the style. Sentence structure, diction, choice of words, point of view, imagery, and symbols are all means of conveying a story that is unique to the author.

In regard to the amounts or balance of each element, the objective is to create a story that continually moves forward toward a satisfying conclusion while holding the reader’s attention. You can have a plot driven story, or a character driven story, you can also have a story with a lot of dialogue, but you need to be sure the story is focused, coherent, and engaging.

Often, as you self-edit your own work, you won’t be able to see if the elements are just right; you should have it critiqued and have an editor take a look at it to see if you’re on the mark. And, then after all that, it will be up to the publisher’s editor to give the final say on whether you have just the right balance of writing elements for a successful story.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

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