Here’s the underlying principle: your characters are people. People are complicated; I suspect you might know a few. Characters are much the same way. Your reader will relate to them if they behave like people, and for characters to behave like people, they need to be built like people.
You need to know your characters like you do other humans, and these six prompts will help you pull that off.
The standard rule is this: “show, don’t tell.” Instead of telling your reader that Jane is “sad,” show the reader by describing Jane’s demeanor, her tears, etc. You’re supposed to allow the reader to experience Jane’s sadness with her.
But in a 80,000 word manuscript, chances are you’ll do at least some telling. The temptation to “tell” usually arises when you need to share background information, summarize events, or provide context for what’s happening.
When self-publishing a book, every author is faced with the dilemma of creating a book cover that is worthy of their writing.
But most of us don’t have the money to hire a top-notch book design professional, or the tools and skills to create one ourselves. However, there is another way that many authors are finding is much cheaper and will guarantee your satisfaction: Premade book covers.
Inspiration comes in many forms. It may be a lovely tune from your playlist; A stunning vista in nature; A wildly creative turn-of-phrase you overhear in a coffee shop. Nearly anything. Like all creative minds, you sit down to convert this nugget of inspiration into a story.
But then you hit a wall. How do you transform raw inspiration into an actual story? How do you turn inspiration into a novel plan?
After spending years of your life writing a story, you don’t want it to be rejected in the first sixty seconds by an editor. Using pink paper for your novel manuscript submission or dressing like a chicken for your audition on America’s Got Talent both might get you attention, but it is not the attention you want.
How do you avoid the rejection pile and get published?
There are three words that can kill any dream before it leaves the ground: “As soon as …” As soon as I finish this course … as soon as I get noticed … as soon as I revise … as soon as I get a marketing plan in place … as soon as the kids are in school … as soon as I ride the glitter pony of creativity … and on and on.
Yes, it is helpful to have action steps that inform your forward motion, but for too many of us who want to do creative work, we’re waiting on something that isn’t really keeping us from our writing. Our real barriers are beliefs that tell us we have to wait for the right conditions, along with the false assumption that one day we’ll “arrive” at our goal of being a successful writer and the need to create will feel satiated.
Newsflash: those “right” conditions and that “perfect” moment are not coming.
So you wrote a story or a novel or a book. You’re proud. You’re excited. Visions of publishing dance in your head. Then you go back and read your story or novel or book, and you think, “Well, this is good and I feel proud of it. But it doesn’t match up to the stories/novels/books I know and love.”
You wrote a GOOD story, but not a GREAT one. Worse, you don’t know why.
The epigraph is simply a well-chosen quotation, set at the beginning of a text. Epigraphs can open essays, books, chapters of a book, or even each story in a book—any writing, really, which suggests its theme.
They can, however, do so much more.
After a short primer, just to get us on the same page with a working understanding of the epigraph, and a little confessional angst, you will have a couple of practice challenges to engage your new friends.
The next few months I’ve dedicated to finishing the book I’ve been working on for nearly two years. Inspired by Joe’s latest post, I’ve made the commitment to revise the second draft of my book.
I believe, though, the second draft is the hardest. Actually, it’s the worst. All the content of your book is sitting right in front of you like a huge slab of marble mined from your imagination, and you’re expected to take the formless hunk and turn it into Michelangelo’s David.
In finishing the second draft of three books and as I’m embarking on finishing this next one this fall, I’ve compiled these tips for the both of us. Here’s all I know about book editing and surviving the second draft.