Give Them What They Want

Do you like the familiar—what’s comfortable and predictable? Or, do you crave the thrill and excitement of change?

I was talking to my neighbor at our yard sale and he told me that his wife reads several books a week—all Christian Fiction Novels. He stopped counting last year when she announced she’d already read over 300 since July.

While Christian Fiction is definitely what she likes to read, there are others that read a variety of books—some recommended by friends or those they see receiving five-star reviews.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Statistics tell us that far more people read exclusively from genres they enjoy than those who “mix it up.”

These readers also tend to read books from authors they like, moving on to another author only after they have exhausted all their preferred author has to offer.

So, if you are a writer, in order to gather a following, choose a genre you like and stick with it. Readers will find you—and be loyal fans—if you continue to give them more of what they want.

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Go for the ‘Bigger Story’

We are in the process of moving, so I am not spending much time writing or looking for information online that I would like to pass along to you. 

But, that’s the way life is, isn’t it?

We have our private lives, and then we have our writing lives. And they are often at odds with one another—vying for one’s available time.

We make our choices and have to live with them. Our move to Nevada is for personal reasons, but it will affect my writing life, too.

I have always been the member of a critique group. Their input is invaluable. Because, as author Colleen Coble has said, “…brainstorming with partners takes us to a bigger story… on a deeper level.” 

My group meets one Friday per month as we each are given the opportunity to submit several pages of our current writing. 

However, the state we are moving to does not have any writing/critique groups listed online, so if I cannot find another group to work with in NEVADA, I have enlisted continued support from my Arizona group. We are going to try mailing critiques back and forth, first. But, if that proves too worrisome, we may try using FaceTime. 

My point in telling you this?  1) In case you are a writer in Nevada that knows of an existing critique group with an opening for a “new” member, please write in and let me know.  2) If sometime in 2023 I start a new writing group in Nevada—and YOU live in Nevada and would be interested in participating—please leave me a message on my website and I will put you on my list.

My website address  is brendapoulosauthor.com

Stick to What Readers Want

In addition to writing, we authors read a lot, don’t we? And it’s no small wonder that when we read, we critique (even though we are reading for enjoyment, we just can’t help that instinct to do so).

So, here is what I am noticing lately: even though writers live by the mantra “show, don’t tell,” many revert back to telling when they write epilogues. It seems that in an effort to wrap things up nice and neat for their readers, they forget that the same rules apply to the epilogue as to the book as a whole.

This is just a reminder not to abandon our good writing habits at the end of our books. We need to give our readers excitement and great visuals that keep them loving our books to the very last word.

The Great Anticipation

Our plans sometimes do not go according to THE PLAN. 

We were sick in a hotel room all week. The only glimpse of Hawaii we saw was the ocean from our hotel room. 

We are now back home, feeling only slightly better. But we have, as always, great anticipation of the coming year.

So, I will simply wish you all a Joyous, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year!

Christmas Plans

Our plans sometimes do not go according to THE PLAN. We are sick in a hotel room and may not even feel well enough to attend services at a local church. So, I will simply wish you all a Merry Christmas and send a regular post next week.

May your Christmas celebration be filled with the love of family and friends. May Jesus be exalted in your lives and mine.

The Christmas Gift That Costs Zero Dollars

Want to give your friends a gift they’ll love and costs you absolutely no money?

If you’re an avid reader like me, you likely have read dozens of books this past year. Right?

If you haven’t already given them to a used bookstore, consider starting a new tradition with your reading buddies.

How about agreeing that this year you will select books from those you’ve read for gifting each individual on your list?

If your books are in good condition, who wouldn’t want to receive a book handpicked for your enjoyment from a friend who knows the kind of books you like to read?

With Christmas cards inside and tied with bows or put in glittery bags, they are sure to be a hit without being a drain on your finances.

Make it a Team Effort

When I was first learning about the craft of writing, I spent time reading and going to conferences. But once I actually started writing, I learned that being an author can be a lonely venture. I was in my home office most of the day by myself. 

Not a good thing.

That’s when I learned about Beta Readers and Critique groups. And over the years they have become a critical piece in my writing. I look to them for sharing of  ideas and viewpoints, giving encouragement and support, but also for getting me out of the house and interacting with others.

People are social animals. We grow and feel a part of our environment/community when we collaborate, brainstorm, and interact.

Have you written yourself into a lonely rut?

Take a break. Take a walk. Visit with a friend. Join a writing group. Form a group of Beta Readers. Go shopping. Meet a friend for lunch. Listen to holiday music. 

You’ll be happier and more productive—because writing should be a Team Effort.

Do You Love to Read?

I have written before how my mother loved to read, so it was no wonder that I followed in her footsteps. Later, as an elementary school teacher, I hope I instilled a love for reading in my students. (My favorite part of the day was reading aloud to my students for twenty precious minutes after lunch recess).

In those days, we used a program called the Writing Road to Reading. The basic idea being that reading and writing go hand-in-hand. The phonics-based total language program, is still taught in many classrooms throughout the U.S. today.

Romalda Spalding believed that the immediate incorporation of spelling and handwriting with phonics instruction reinforced all the skills.  Students create and add to notebooks everything they learn.

Children learn to put sounds together, form meaningful words, write meaningful sentences, and develop their creative minds. Through it, children learn to enjoy the great works of children’s literature.

I wasn’t taught to read this way myself (I taught myself to read before I entered first grade). However, when I began to teach both regular and remedial classes using this method, something inside me clicked and “filled in the gaps” in my learning.

I’d always loved reading, but now as a teacher, my passion for reading exploded. I began reading children’s books and worked my way “up.”

I am guessing that readers of this blog are either avid readers, writers, or both. I would love for you to share how your love for reading/writing began. I will reprint your stories in this blog in the near future.

Plot Outline and Synopsis

Writers are said to be either plotters or pantsers. Meaning either that they plan out the chapters in their stories ahead of writing, or they write by the seat of their pants—with little or no advance planning.

If you are a plotter, knowing about using a plot outline is essential. A plot outline is a thorough summary including the basic plot twists in each chapter. It is written before you write your book and is used to guide your writing to completion. It is much longer than your synopsis will be.

Both plotters and pantsers will need to write a synopsis which summarizes without giving away all of the details of the plot. It is written after you finish writing your manuscript. In it, be sure to include what is unique about your story and/or characters. 

Remember, the synopsis will be used to pitch your story to agents and publishers. Use your plot outline to get you to a satisfying end.

Summary vs. Synopsis

The terms summary and synopsis are frequently used interchangeably. But are there differences between the two?

It seems there is a slight difference and which you decide to write will depend upon who you are sending it to and your ultimate reason for writing one.

A synopsis is a short (and concise) description of a book, while a summary is a lengthier condensed version. While the summary focuses on what happened, the main ideas, and facts, the synopsis is more subjective and reveals the underlying themes, meaning, and so on.

The goal of a synopsis is to help the reader or agent to decide if they want to read the full book. And, in the case of an agent, to determine if they want to pursue representation.

There are times when you’ll be asked to write both of these, so it’s a good idea to look at examples and/or find books which delve into the writing of each.