Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 30

Include It or Forget It by Mary Deal

Include It or Forget It
by
Mary Deal

For those of you just starting out in the writing profession, you may be having doubts as to your ability. You may have the makings of a great story. You may know how to write well. But how much do you include in your story to make it appealing to readers of your genre?

When I first began to write, I thought I would never include the obligatory bedroom scene. Me? Write about sex? My heart thumped and it wasn’t from excitement. It was from fear of making myself look stupid. That soon changed. As I read more and more published books, I learned I didn’t have to write graphic scenes. I wasn’t writing porn or anything for shock value. I found a way to know exactly how much to include.

My way was to write out everything about the first bedroom scene I needed to include in my story. I wrote everything, including all the sighing and grunts and groans, conversation, even emotion, color of the bed sheets, the sound of fingernails scratching against skin, everything I thought the characters might experience.

Wrote it all.

Wrote it all from a vivid imagination and felt my own eyes pop out of my head as I stared at the page reading and beginning to laugh at myself.

Then I deleted the whole thing after reading it, knowing I could write a great bedroom scene to fit whatever my story required. If I could write everything about sex once, just once, I could write only what I needed for my story.

What a lesson that was!

I encourage you to write out the thoughts you have on a difficult area you need to develop or perfect. Once you have written all you think you know, you will have no difficulty knowing how much to include and what you will thankfully omit.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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May 23

Mary Deal Talks About Wasting Stories

Wasting Stories
by
Mary Deal

Many people say they “could have written a better story.” They “should be a writer.” These people talk about the negatives of writing or the supposed flaws of stories they’ve read.

It’s okay to critique. Perhaps these people would make great critics or book reviewers, providing they can temper their egos.

Many people complain about others’ prose because they feel they can write a better plot, better characters and so forth. My wish is that they would begin to write. Put their thoughts into solid form and stop wasting their own stories.

Often times, when those who complain will take the time to write out their gripes, they either learn they are correct, or they find they are way off beat. Many of these people could easily become writers because writing out thoughts and ideas often form stories of their own accord.

One such friend began to write out her frustrations and learned from others who read her scribbles that she has a dry wit, at other times a raucous sense of humor.

We stand to learn a lot about ourselves as writers if we will simply examine our thoughts, motivations and frustrations.

This is a great way for a writer to improve. When you read another author’s prose and feel you can write better, at that moment is when you should delve deeply into your thoughts and come up with a better story. Your muse is trying to tell you that you have it in you to write and write well. Otherwise you wouldn’t be seeing the flaws in others’ work. Your muse is ready to help you write a better story. Why waste opportunities to create your own great prose?

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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May 16

Are You Afraid to Publish?

Afraid to Publish
by
Mary Deal

Two people I know have written books. One is a fiction, one a nonfiction. Both of these authors are afraid to publish.

People afraid to publish need to analyze their motivations for writing in the first place and then take a good look at what motivates them not to publish.

The reasons for hesitation could be many. Let’s look at some of these:

Unsure of the information you’ve included

If you’ve written nonfiction, all your facts must be accurate. Your publisher will verify the facts. If they cannot be verified, your book may not be published. If you’ve offended, your publisher may hesitate. However, without a publisher to gauge the accuracy of your work, it’s up to you. If you feel unsure for this reason, then you must do the verification yourself. Be sure your facts are correct. Be sure you are writing about something people need to know. Be sure you are not writing out of hate or anger, or simply to ease your own conscience. And most of all, once you have these assurances, publish that book before your news becomes outdated.

Unsure if you’ve told a unique tale

It is said only 20 real plots exist in fiction. All stories are derivatives of these twenty. What makes all stories difference are the story settings, the scenes that you create, your characters and so forth. Most of all, it’s your unique spin – your style, your voice. No one can write your story like you can. Simple.

Worry about errors

If you are afraid of having errors in your work, what type of errors? Whether fiction or nonfiction, if you feel you’ve said something wrong, change it. Write it a different way. If you’re worried about typos and grammar, follow sage advice and get your manuscript edited. This is the best way to know that you are truly ready to publish. A good editor could also tell you if your story truly hangs together. This is the best way to assure yourself. It puts your mind at ease.

Afraid of offending someone

In nonfiction, it’s easy to offend someone or anyone. If you’re written something offensive, all the more reason to be accurate in your facts. You might also consider if your information is something people want to read. Are you bashing someone simply to ease your own frustration? Are you writing about true experiences, exposing another person and playing like one of the powers-that-be? What is your motivation for doing this?

Nonfiction information tends to be timely and can get old quickly. Do what you must to help you feel rewarded that you’ve spent all those hours gathering facts and writing out your opinions. When you began your project, you had a reason for doing so.

Fiction requires a good tale told in an exciting way that doesn’t sound to the reader like they have already read something similar. Develop your voice and style.

These are but a few reasons why writers hesitate to publish or seek publication. Above all, for writers of any prose, if you’ve followed a certain set of rules that lead to good writing and editing, no reason exists not to publish. If after you’ve come this far and you still cannot bring yourself to present your work to the world, then I would suggest you begin to examine your psychological motivation as to why you delay your rewards.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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May 14

Mike Angley Interviews Author Carl Brookins

MA: Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers … Read More

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May 09

‘An Advantage of Self-Publishing’ by Mary Deal

An Advantage of Self-Publishing
by
Mary Deal

As many know, I used to use a POD publisher. I was happy for a while, however, I found self-publishing to be to my advantage. It’s expensive to have your publisher re-publish your book when they and you do not catch all the errors.

If your publisher even begrudgingly re-publishes without charging you, jump for joy! Some POD publishers charge $300 and upwards just to pull the book, correct last errors and re-publish.

The beauty of self-publishing is that you perfect you book to the point you think you and your editor have caught all the errors. But once you publish, you find, perhaps, one glaring error overlooked after all. It’s not a missing comma or period, nothing that simple. It’s a big misspelling error that might make people shudder.

A case in point: In my latest thriller, The Howling Cliffs, A Sara Mason Mystery, I was sure we had caught all the typos. Once I pulled a copy to read on my Kindle, I found something that stuck out like a big red tomato in a lettuce patch.

The story takes place mostly on Kauai where I live. I included lots of local scenes and people. In the big car accident scene, HAZMAT was needed to clean the highway of the gas and diesel spills. However, as many times as I’ve seen that big red Fire Department truck around town, I never realized that in my story I spelled HAZMAT with an S instead of a Z. HAZMAT is short for hazardous materials. How could I have not put that together when writing the scene.

So an advantage of self-publishing is that I could go to Smashwords and Amazon and re-upload the corrected version. It’s a simple process. It’s free.

This is not to say we should publish first and then catch errors. As self-publishers, the total responsibility for perfecting our manuscripts falls on us. They should be perfect or as close to perfect as we can make them before we publish the first time.

I encourage all who self-publish to re-upload corrected versions of their manuscripts when errors are found. If you must re-upload, re-read your entire manuscript first and thoroughly for any other errors that might have been missed. Self-published books often contain more errors than others. The author should read the entire story again, after it’s published. When errors are found, they have a free option to re-publish.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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May 02

Part Three of a Three Part Series: ‘Elusive Endings’ by Mary Deal

Elusive Endings
by
Mary Deal

If you have not yet read part one of the series, Magnetic Beginnings, be sure to check it out. Part two, The End of Sagging Middles, is also archived for your enjoyment.

When you set off for a vacation, do you plan ahead and know where you’ll end up? Narrowing down this concept, when you go grocery shopping, do you know where you will shop?

In creating a story, if you know what you wish to take your characters through – the plot and reason for writing the story – there can only be one, possibly two good endings.

If you write romance, your two lovers can only end up together or separated somehow.

If you write thrillers, your killer has to get his comeuppance.

Even if you write about everyday lives of some people, they will have to end up changed in a certain way. It’s called the character arc. These are but a few examples. The endings are almost standard and dictated for you if you know the genre of your story and have written it thoroughly. It’s up to you to write the ending scene(s) as exciting as possible.

What you might do is write out a few thoughts beforehand. Say you have a thriller with a serial killer who must be caught. Of course he gets caught. But if your story prior to the ending makes him out to be gruesome and evil, then his getting caught and punishment must carry the same caliber of excitement.

A gruesome psychopath cannot simply be caught when the police creep into his bedroom and wake him with guns drawn. It’s too easy. You must raise the ante and make him almost escape before he is, perhaps, wounded. Still he runs and becomes more elusive. So you write the chase and his capture and you throw in as much opportunity for him to escape before the police dogs tear him apart.

If you know your story and have written it toward what you consider an elusive ending that you can’t seem to pin down, you may have too many loose ends not tied up within the plot. There can only be one or two really good endings to any story. Then it’s up to you to use your imagination and make it exciting enough to fit the rest of the action, or exciting enough to make the ending the best of the story. Remember, only one or two endings exist to choose from. It’s a matter of reasoning it out in your mind.

Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More

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May 01

Marilyn Meredith Returns to Talk About ‘No Bells,’ Her Latest Rocky Bluff PD Mystery Novel

MA: I am honored to welcome back to my blog, Marilyn Meredith, arguably one of the most prolific mystery writers who has ever guested with me. Marilyn first appeared on my blog back in 2010 when I interviewed her about her then newly-released novel, Dispel the Mist, her eighth in the Tempe Crabtree mystery series. You can read that former post by going here: Marilyn Meredith Sleuths In For An Interview With Mike Angley.

F.M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 30 published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest being Bears With Us from Mundania Press.

Marilyn is a member of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, and Mystery Writers of America. She is also on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America.

Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

CONTEST: The person who comments on the most blogs on Marilyn’s tour will win three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series: No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost. Be sure and leave your email too, so she can contact you! Read More

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