Give Up Your Make-up

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I need to free up more of my time for writing.

I used to shave off sleep time—go to bed later, get up earlier. That can only work for a few days if one is in a pinch. However, over the long run, being tired and being creative aren’t compatible.

What I need is a good, productive chunk of time. So, I’ve decided to do the unthinkable.

Two days a week, I am not going to wash my hair, put on makeup, or go to my exercise class.

I know, huh?

But, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I’m also considering having my husband pick up take-out food on his way home and having him walk the dog.

All in all, I can squeeze four more hours out of my day—and allocate all of it toward writing.

Are you feeling the need to increase your writing time?

Think outside the box.

What can you do to get more hours in your day?

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Choosing a Genre

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Should you write in the genre you enjoy or write in a genre that “sells?”

That’s a complicated question, isn’t it?

If your “genre-of-choice” is one which isn’t hugely popular—and if getting sales is your primary objective—then jumping over to a more sought-after genre may be just the ticket to get you discovered.

However, if you have misgivings about writing in a particular genre (Erotica, for instance) or simple no interest in it (say, Westerns), then don’t switch over.

It’s like selling yourself out.

Why? Because we are writing for the joy of the craft…because it makes us happy…it fulfills us the way nothing else can.

What is the writing experience worth to you?

Figure that out and then you’ve answered my original question.

For me, it has nothing to do with chasing the dollar. 

It’s all about the journey.

Know It All

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Today, we will tackle the difficult to define—and even more difficult to write—Omniscient Point of View.

In this POV, the story is told from the perspective of the narrator, who knows all and sees all.

In this POV, the narrator reveals the actions, thoughts—even the motives—of any and all characters, all the while maintaining a god-like distance.

The narrator is unbiased and simply reports the story. Because of this, writing in the Omniscient POV often ends up in telling—not showing—which, of course, is a writing “no-no.”

Writing in the Omniscient POV is very difficult and has largely fallen into disuse. Many writers who attempt the Omniscient POV are accused of “head hopping” (when a narrator jumps without warning from the perspective of one character into the perspective of another).

In Omniscient POV, the narrator observes the mindsets of the story’s characters. Thus, it is ever so tempting to portray these thoughts in the characters’ voices. But, be warned: no direct thoughts are allowed in this style of POV.

Before trying your hand at Omniscient POV, read several books written in this style. Doing so will give you a good idea of how other authors have tackled it—and if you even enjoy writing that way.

Some books written in the Omniscient POV are: Bleak House by Charles Dickens; The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky; and Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.

Enjoy challenges? This is one on a grand scale. However, if you master it, I guarantee you will stand out in the crowd.

Rocky Road, Anyone?

 

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The subject of writing a series of books has come up, again. 

Since a series has value for both authors and readers, let’s look at just how authors can accomplish this.  

The key to writing a series is to find a commonality and then keep reproducing it.

You can:

1- Tell virtually the same story, but from the viewpoints of different characters.

2- Tell different stories in the same setting. (Stories set at the beach, a certain city, etc.)

3- Tell similar stories in different settings (CSI is a good example of this)

4- Stories around the same theme or profession (sports, babysitters, cooks, teachers, fire fighters, doctors)

5- Stories of characters that were once children, and are now grown up.

6- Characters who have different adventures by traveling to different countries. 

7- Stories that simply continue from the previous book.

Look for that common thread and then weave your story in a new and exciting way.

If a reader enjoys your first book, chances are they will buy the second in the series. Then, if that second book delivers, consider them hooked. 

However, even good things can get boring. My husband can attest to this because he is finally getting tired of Rocky Road ice cream, which he has been eating for YEARS. He is trying different brands right now hoping for a slight change in flavor. (The latest favorite has chocolate covered almonds).

Something similar may happen when readers tire of mysteries and seek out different authors who may use a fresh twist to their plots. 

So, be careful not to make your series too long and too predictable.

Write each story so that it can be enjoyed on its own merits, while giving readers just enough pertinent background information from previous books in the series. 

Do everything you can to make sure your road to success isn’t a rocky one!

 

Now Available on Audible

 

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The Choice: Will’s Last Testament is now available on Audible. In a few days, it will also be available on iTunes and Amazon. The amazing C.J. Stephens produced it for me. His exciting voice makes the words come alive in this emotion-filled Christian Fiction book. Be sure to listen to the audio sample on Audible.     Brenda Poulos

Free Fries!

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My husband and I had been going to our favorite sandwich shop for several years. We had even recommended it to our friends.

You can imagine our disappointment at our last visit when there was hardly any meat on our sandwiches. 

I went up to the counter to talk with the manager, knowing that there had been some mistake. He said, in fact, that the sandwich had been made correctly. He had been faced with a tough decision: put less product on the sandwich, or raise the price. 

He had opted for the “skinnier” sandwich, so we went away hungry…angry…feeling cheated. We haven’t been back since.

When your customers read your books, you don’t want them to feel disgruntled. You want them to feel like they got their money’s worth—a generous helping of meat in that story sandwiched between the front and back covers.

That doesn’t mean that the book has to have a spine of a certain thickness, but the content has to be satisfying.

So, how do we achieve this? There are several ways (and if you think of more, please share them).

First of all, create characters which seem real and with whom readers can identify in some way. Write them in such a way that the readers become invested in their story and cheer for them to succeed.

Secondly, deliver a main character who struggles—and then succeeds—in reaching his goal.

Thirdly, take readers on an emotional journey.

Give them a satisfying “ride.” Depending on the genre you write in, deliver to the reader what he is expecting. 

Sci Fi or Horror readers want thrills, goosebumps, heart throbbing action, even fear.

Those who read Christian devotionals expect comfort, peace, or uplifting content.

A humorous book should give readers a good laugh, while non-fiction should supply information.

It is important that we make each book we write fresh and unique in its own way, while still meeting the expectations of our readership.

Don’t leave them feeling cheated.

Give them the meat!

Then, give them a surprise…more than they thought possible. Exceed their expectations.

Throw in some free fries!

Follow the Pattern of a Skirt

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I remember writing assignments in our ninth grade English class. One of the inevitable questions that would be asked was, “How long should it be?”

Mr. Dee would always answer: “Like a skirt: Long enough to cover the subject; short enough to be interesting.”

That’s still good advice.

Our books, articles, stories—whatever we are writing—shouldn’t feel “padded” with information or scenes that don’t contribute to the overall project.

If characters are introduced by name and are given space in our writing (in other words, if they are elaborated upon by giving them a name and background and some sort of importance in the story) then they should lend to the total story. Otherwise, just say that the waiter brought the food. Period. Don’t give him more than a brief one or two word description.

Granted, there should be a certain amount of description of our characters. They should also share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And, of course, they need to interact and DO SOMETHING. Hence, the plot unfolds with ACTION.

But, if a character doesn’t move the plot forward–doesn’t have a purpose in the overall story–they shouldn’t be given much, if any, line space.

However, it is not just superfluous characters that unnecessarily pad a story. One thing that is often overused is description (think weather, appearance, terrain, nature, and so on). As a matter of preference, some readers enjoy books with long, flowing descriptions that can take up pages, while others prefer more dialog, or action.

I recently read a book that had four consecutive pages devoted to description of the clouds–and this was NOT a book about clouds, the weather, or anything close to it. But, some people enjoy knowing every minute detail and others are content with reading “a dark storm cloud” and letting it go at that.

So, the point is, give us examples, take us on a journey, fill our hearts with joy–or suspense– but keep the story moving.

Don’t pad it with things we will want to skip over. Don’t give us hundreds of pages of nothingness in order to make the spine thick enough to showcase our names or a certain number of pages so the reader will think they’ve gotten their money’s worth.

Remember Mr. Dee’s advice and make your story long enough to cover the subject; short enough to be interesting.