Fiction

Top FIVE settings as a character

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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In great fiction, the setting is alive. These places not only feel extremely real, these places are dynamic. Evolve. And affect the characters in the story—such settings become actors.Donald Maass has said, “Powerfully portrayed settings seem to have a life of their own, but how is that effect achieved?”Writer’s Digest suggests these techniques:Line details and emotionsMeasure change over timeRealize that history is personalSee through characters’ eyesAs a child, and even to this day, my special place is a stone house on Pico Island in the Azores archipelago. The views from our home include the majestic volcanic cone, the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, etc. All of these illicit emotions of peace, calmness and tranquillity for me and my family.Throughout my own history I have seen changes that include the installation of the town’s first telephone, a bathroom to replace the outhouse, and changes to decor and furniture. In 1998 I experienced an earthquake […]

English is Complex

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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“English is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn, because it contains so many words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings.” — The Economist  English can be confusing. Well it depends. It mostly depends on the learner’s native language. For example, Germanic languages closely related to English—will find English relatively straightforward, while learners whose first language is Mandrin (completely unrelated) or Russian (distantly related) will find English much harder.  English is a difficult language to learn because it is so irregular in its spelling and pronunciation. Many words sound the same or are spelled the same and have multiple meanings. For example, the words bear and bare.  Bare. As an adjective has two meanings: (of a person or part of the body) not clothed or covered, or only just sufficient (surprisingly small in number or amount). As a verb bare means to uncover (a part of the body […]

How to Sell More Books

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by Alex CooperArticle Categories: ,

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Every day hundreds of books are published in each genre. There are lots of options to help your book stand out from the crowded bookshelves and online categories. You can pay for advertising, do endless book blog tours and try to befriend every reader you come across.  At the end of the day though, these things will help a bit, but there is only one strategy that is guaranteed to catch the right target audience’s attention—and money: Your Brand. Too often authors think that branding themselves isn’t necessary, or that their brand is simply the genre—or subgenre—in which they write. Not so. Your brand is what makes you unique. What makes you different than all those other people who are writing the same type genre, sub-genre, theme, plot, etc. Let’s look at two of today’s most successful authors and see what makes them unique. J.K. Rowling writes children’s books. So […]

Five Steps to How an Editor Reads Your Manuscript Submission

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by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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Editors receive hundreds—if not thousands—of submissions every month. Each submissions package includes (in order) a query letter, a synopsis and then the number of manuscript pages as per the publisher’s specific requirements.  Most editors evaluate a manuscript submission package like this: We read the first line of the manuscript—not the query letter. Some people are great at writing letters but not at completing full books. For a first line to be good, it has to be catchy, and hook us. This means it has to make us wonder about something, pose a problem that your book will answer, or use an anecdote that engages our curiosity. If the first line is good we continue to the rest of the paragraph, then the rest of the page, then the rest of the chapter to see if the promise of the first line is continued. If the writing sample is solid, then […]

Humanize your Villains

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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You cannot have a story that does not have heroes and villains. Otherwise, you don’t have a story. You need bad guys to create conflict and you need good guys to reduce the conflict and bring the plot to a final resolution. Or do you? Warner doesn’t seem to think so. Suicide Squad is a story about dangerous convicted supervillains who are forced to work together for the greater good. The government assembles a team of the worst criminals by either promising shorter prison sentences and by the threat of death to complete covert and sometimes heinous tasks. Something a supervillain should enjoy. There are no good guys, only a group of bad guys working together in the interests of the government. How do you move the plot forward with only villains? Two ways:  Humanize them. Write their backstory: their childhood, their mentors, persons of influence, traumatic events, chemical or […]

Five Things You Need to Know About Designing Your Book Cover

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by William TannerArticle Categories: ,

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The book cover is probably the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal. Managing it is about more than just choosing a good cover model or stock image. In fact, it is not about what you choose but rather how you use it.  Answer these questions to decide if you have thoroughly planned out your cover for the best shot at success: A picture is worth a thousand words. But try to sum it up in less than 100 words. If someone points at an element on your cover (e.g., the city horizon in the background) could you explain in a succinct sentence why that city skyline is important to the story? If it is just set in that city, but the setting has minimal impact on the plot or characters, why does it deserve to be on the cover? Color my world. Is there a dominant color on the […]

Villains in the World and on the Page

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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A few years ago, I visited friends out in the country. They were regular church attendees and out of respect to their hospitality I went with them.The church was a large and lovely building with beautiful stained glass windows and hand carved woodwork. That’s where the grace ended.The minister’s foot had barely settled behind the pulpit stand when he began his sermon: “One of the problems with society today,” he said. “Is fags.”I hoped (prayed, if you like) that he meant cigarettes. I would have stood and applauded at that. But he didn’t. He meant homosexuals. (He said it as if it were three words: homo-sex-uals.)I stood and walked out.In life and in books there are three kinds of villains. If you write fiction, you likely know about two of them: the guy you think is the big bad guy, and the guy who pursues you after you defeat the […]

Five Things You Need to Know About Being a Beta Reader

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by William Tanner Article Categories: ,

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Beta Reading is an integral part of any publishable work whether it is fiction, non-fiction, computer programming or anything in between. But how to critique a work that isn’t yours is a real skill. Though many of us have experience editing other people’s work, most of us have never been taught how to present our evaluations in a respectful, coherent and professional manner. It’s a real art. Here are some tips to help you on your testing journey:  Be clear about the parameters. Don’t enter into a beta reading position without understanding what is expected of you. Does the person just want a surface evaluation? Typos, layout, etc.? Or is the purpose to evaluate the veracity of the ideas and the effectiveness of the delivery? Don’t hand back a document with only typos highlighted if you were brought on to evaluate the information and articulation. Be Positive. If you are […]

Is Your Current Villain Ready to Be Your Next Hero?

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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What’s the difference between a villain and a hero? The same thing that’s different between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: perception. A hero believes that he is good and on the side of good and will help achieve good. A villain believes the same thing. The main difference is in the character’s motivation. Good guys often are motivated by a goal that benefit more than themselves. Villains are motivated by their own agendas.For example, a mother may be motivated to sever ties with the father of her child. For a hero this would be for reasons that would protect the child, for example if the father is abusive. For a villain, this would be for personal reasons such as her fury for his having left her. To the outside world though, both would present the same way since villains are rarely self-aware or honest.So how do you tell the difference? By […]

How I Killed Darth Vader and Lived to Write About It

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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It happened last Tuesday. By mistake. Before my eyes flashed all the Star Wars movies where Jedis tried and failed to kill him. And yet here we were…Him dead and me standing over him, bereft. Star Wars Episode 7 – The Force Awakens will be in theaters worldwide at the end of 2015. The creators released a trailer displaying the mask of the Sith Lord–Darth Vader–leaving the fans of this franchise wondering–is Darth Vader alive?  In Star Wars Episode 3 – The Revenge of the Sith Obi Wan Kenobi assumed Vader would die from his injuries sustained on the volcanic planet Mustafar. Even to the Emperor’s or Lord Sidious’s surprise: “There he is. He’s still alive. Get a medical capsule, immediately.” Despite losing his legs and being nearly completely burnt, Darth Vader survived. And a good thing too. As Lord Vader is the main protagonist and eventual hero of the story.  Back […]