Friday, March 28, 2014

Plotting Your Novel Part 2

Onward and upward, I always say, and now it is time to work on the second half of plotting your story.

After you have begun to plot out what happens next in your story, you will see that it's not a difficult task to plot. I know writers hate to do this, but it really does help and will move your book to become finished faster.

Now onto the middle:

1. The middle of the book is how the character deals with the problems and tries to get themselves out of their predicament. Where will their journey take them to get through this issue? Here is where the character "grows' as it were. They discover things about themselves they never knew existed inside them and hopefully these are good attributes. Sometimes their not, like they end up killing someone, or cause a death. maybe they cause a divorce or an accident, but whatever the case may be, they have to fix the problem.

They will discover who is their enemy and who has their back. Also, they will find out what the new rules are of this new world they've landed up in.

2. Next they realize they need courage to accomplish whatever the task may be. They will find out what their made of to get through this. But you need to give them two steps forward and one step back. It keeps the action going and the reader reading.

3. This is where your mini-plot comes in to the picture. Maybe they discover drugs hidden in the closet of a person their trying to help, or someone is trying to kill them to keep them from finding out something. Or maybe their closest friend is a turncoat and sent them in the wrong direction.

This is where figuring out on the side what's going to happen helps the plot to thicken. Conflict is our friend and we need them to move the story along. 

4. Once your character has a resolution, or at least with the smaller issue (the sub-plot) then the emotional factor of realizing there was a setback comes into play. So now the character needs to get themselves back on track to finally meet the ultimate goal, whatever that might be. 

5. Next, more sub-plots. You must keep the excitement building and the reader on the edge of their seat. The character can't always succeed and maybe needs to go a different route to get to the end goal. More sub

-plots are great in stories, especially thrillers and fantasy. You don't want to make it easy for your main character. That's too boring.

6. Have the character end up in a worse position than they were initially. Find them licking their wounds and wanting to give up. Everything is too hard to continue on. But suddenly either another character pushes them past their pity-party and they decide to figure out another way through the maze, or something happens to motivate them to change their minds and continue on.

They pick themselves up off the proverbial floor and dust themselves off, time to get tough and get through this to the end.

The ending:

Now onto the ending of the story. Once the character has hit rock bottom and they have something happen that pulls them back out, it's time to wrap up the book plot. There can be different reasons for what caused them to get moving again, but mine would be the "do or die" scenario. In other words, you can't just lie there and die, you have to keep going.

1.  The Epiphany. this is the moment of understanding, the moment of realization that has brought them to this dilemma. This understanding is something that's been staring them in the face all along but they were either too stubborn or blind to see the truth of it. Of course, you as the writer have given clues of this all along.

2. They have their eye on the way to accomplish their goal. You show them fighting through the crowd to get the bad guy, or to reach the girl of their dreams. They are still struggling a bit but there's light at the end of the tunnel. You give them a last little bit of doubt, but in the end they complete their destination.

3. If this is a series, there's nothing wrong with not giving away everything but to keep the reader wanting more. If it is the end of your story, make sure you wrap things up neatly. Let the reader know what happened to each of the important characters, basic outlines as it were. But there are times where you don't want to give all away to leave some of it to the readers imagination to figure out what they think ultimately happened, maybe to someone who was more obscure in the story.

Plotting out the basic points of your novel, even if they end up changing, will help you to revise your masterpiece and within a deadline time frame. You will see what works or not, and it can help you to sort everything out that's in your head.

I hope this has helped some of you with writing your novel. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask away.

Until next Friday, have a great week everyone!

Love, Lisa 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Plotting Your Novel Part 1

In the last week I have talked with two different writers who are having trouble plotting their stories. One, who said she was stuck, and the other, my friend Jodi, who is trying to see her book and how she should proceed with the story. In other words, what steps should happen.

When Jodi and I started talking, I realized she needed to plot out her chapters. That way she can see the book and how it should progress, and if my other friend would start plotting and not write by the seat of her pants, she wouldn't run into being stuck.

I know there are writers who think it's okay to be a pantser, but as my other friend soon found out, you can get stopped. Sometimes, you can write yourself into a corner. That's why I will be talking about plotting the next two posts. 

I will split it up so I can cover more information for those of you needing help with this particular subject. 

There is, of course, the beginning, middle, and end to your story, but I will touch on hints that hopefully will set you on the right path. 

The Beginning: 

When you first decide on your basic story it needs to begin at the correct spot. I talked about this a few post back. Sometimes you just have to write the rough draft and then when your ready to do revisions you can look at the place where the book should begin.

1. As I said before, your first chapter needs to hook the reader. There are two basic principles in doing that. 1, a compelling character, and 2, a promise of a gripping story. If you can simply create a character that the reader will care about, they will continue to read. The character needs to be likable and not perfect, especially since none of us are. Again, this goes back to character outlines.

2. Don't introduce to many characters in the beginning. The reader will get confused as to who is who. Keep it simple and build from the first chapter about what will happen next.

3. Make sure you are keeping to the first chapter true to what is to come. If it is action, then give them some. If it is a troubled person, then give them a taste of the issues facing that character. 

4. Devote extra time to your first chapter. It will help you outline what is to come and hopefully will hook the reader into wanting more. As I said before, we rewrote chapter one at least 10 times before we felt it was compelling enough to grab the reader and hold on.

On to plotting:

1. You've set up the beginning and know how the story will end. Now to figure out what needs to happen to get you from point A to point Z. Of course, the first step is going from A to B. At first things are basically normal. Your character is doing their normal routine, paying the bills, going to work, whatever. But soon you need to have something happen to them that gets the story rolling. 

2. A phone call that changes everything, a stranger watching them, a car trying to run them off the road. You get the picture. Now they are going from the mundane to excitement, even if it's not excitement they wish to face.

3. This is where you begin to plot how the character(s) deal with the situation and how they manage to get themselves out of the issue facing them. 

4. Write out a simple step by step outline as to what the character will do in each scene, starting with the initial incident. Maybe you figure out each scene and each chapter for the first 5 chapters, and then you need a sub-plot to keep the action coming. That is usually saved for the middle of your story.

5. Once you have written your basic outline you can see what will happen next to advance the story and keep the reader turning the page.

6. As with anything, things can change, so if you find that what you thought would happen next changes, that's okay, at least you know how the outcome will be since you created a starting and ending plot. As long as it rings true, such as how the police would react in a situation, or how the best friend would help, you will know what direction your story needs to go and what new problems will arise. 

7. As I said before, you need to know the ending of the book before you can plot out the story. And your plotting needs to bring you to that end. It helps to see your entire book in front of you so you can find where the problems lie or where you need to add action  since your story is sagging. 

8. If your story is sagging, it needs sub-plots, in other words, more problems the characters need to face. But it should all come back to the original goal or quest and accomplishing it. 

I will go into the middle and end next Friday. If you have any questions about how to plot out your beginning scenes, leave me a comment. I would be glad to help. It is basically brainstorming each scene and each chapter and writing the steps down. 

In the mean time, have a great weekend all and I will meet you back here in one week!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Your Secondary Characters

As writers we tend to put most of our energy into building our protagonist and antagonist, and not our secondary characters. These characters are just as important as your main ones.

In fact there have been people who have read our books and tell us how much they love Jack or Wood. Now that's not saying they don't love Stevie, it's just those two characters are fun ones. They are always picking on each other and Jack is a funny dude!

You can have just as much fun building and creating your secondary characters and sometimes even more freedom with them. They don't have the pressure of being the hero/heroine or the villain. But as you build these characters you do need to have a strong back story for them as well.

You will have certain characters that will only enter for a short scene or two and won't need as much creating, or even describing, but all your characters need to have some kind of importance to be there.

Creating your imaginary world needs to ring true with the reader so you need to make sure you build strong backgrounds and to understand why these characters are important.

For us, we were starting with a teenage main character so she needed to have loyal and trust worthy friends. Those she could rely on. I based her friendships on the ones I had as a teen. Most of my closest relationships were with guy friends, but I always had one close friend that was female. 

Since Stevie wasn't a cheerleader or the most popular girl, I tended to believe she would have a good male friend. When I was in school those types of girls were surrounded by other girls.

When you develop your characters you will go with what you have experienced in life. Sometimes, as my friend Johnny informed me, you might base a character on a specific person you knew. There is nothing wrong with that. 

Just make sure that your character outlines match with back story and the behavior they exhibit in the book. As long as you do that, then as you write you will know what your characters will do in situations, or won't do.

The reader will pick up if you place your character in a situation and they react differently than they should have. It will take them away from your story.

If you have any questions or comments about character development I would love to hear them. Or if you have any information to help us, leave us a comment.

Just a quick note: I will be scaling back on the blog. I am going to one day a week starting next week. I will be posting on Friday's. I would love to continue but I need to put more energy into writing so you enjoy my books and hopefully come visit me on my blog. 

Once we launch our website there will be a blog on that also and I will resume then to the two day week, once on this one and once on the other. I have decided the other blog will be more interactive with the books so I hope you join in when we get it up!

Take care and I hope all of you have a wonderful week.

Thanks for all of your support! Lisa

Friday, March 14, 2014

Character Building

This Sunday our class will be talking about character building. This is a subject I have stressed for writers to do along with your outline. Writing a character outline is just as important to breathe life into your characters and to stick with what they would normally do when faced with certain issues, or climactic scenes.

Not only what they would do every time, but to show characters changing and maybe even growing as things happen to them.

Stevie, our main character, is a perfect example. She is a typical 18 yrs old, growing up in an American town. Yet she becomes into her own as a Guardian and leader of her people. What helps to change her and make her take on this responsibility?

There are certain steps to character development that will help you, but you also have to use your imagination and picture this character coming into their own.

With each character in your book, start with the basics - their height, hair color, age and who they are. After that these steps should help you to increase their personalities.

1. Personality traits. Does this person have certain quirks such as, twirl their hair, bite their nails, or like is Stevie's case, she goes into the bathroom and puts a hot cloth on the back of her neck to relax. Do they say certain things all the time, like Jack always says, "Whassup".

2. Who are they?  What is their job? What relationship do they have to the main character? Mother, father, best friend? How long have they known each other, in other words, build their relationship to each other.

3. The character's past. Do they have a degree? How long have they been a police officer? Have they been in jail? Did they do magic as a child but lost the ability? Painful experiences that shaped them into who they are. Not little details, but the important ones. Torren is a good example here. We showed the reader in Fated what he went through as a child to become the evil jerk he is today.

4. Strengths and weaknesses. What is it about them that makes them a leader, or a coward? Are they good with a sword or bow? Are they the best at figuring out strategy? Also, are they the worst at telling other's what to do? Are they followers instead of a leader? These characteristics comes from their past. They need to match with who they are today.

5. What is their goal. As you know who these characters are in your book, you can figure out what their ultimate goal is in the book. Stevie, our protagonist, is to become this Guardian for her people and to stop Torren and protect the Orbs that she is bound to by blood. Torren, our antagonist, his goal is to control all the Orbs so he can control both worlds. 

6. What makes them mature. this is a little harder, but think about the issues you've gone through and what they did you change you. After all, your characters are each a part of you. The protagonist is your "I want to be" character, and your antagonist is the one that is the "hurting" side of you. 

I know that's hard to believe when your writing a murder mystery, but we all have a good side and a dark side. But what truly causes a character to come into themselves? Is it mastering a feat? Is it a pressure filled scene that brings out their courage? Is it a near death experience of their own or someone they care about? That's how it is usually in life. They say until a drunk hits rock bottom they won't stop drinking. It's a good way to show a change in your character. 

As you develop your character(s) you can add to them and create a "whole" person. This helps when your writing them to stick to how they would handle a situation, or what they would say when an issue arises. You can ask yourself would my character really say that or would he walk away? 

You will find as your doing this the characters will come to life for you. Maybe even start talking to you and telling you what they will or won't do. You will begin to understand them and know them completely. It is much easier to develop your characters before you begin writing but not always easy to do. Sometimes you have to revert back to your outline and add things as you go along.

It might even change your story in your rewrite, but possibly for the better. By taking the time to know them completely will give your book the richness it needs and help your readers fall in love with them. 

What have you done in the past to know your characters? Do you list them or just write them as you go? Leave me a comment and fill me in!

Until next week, I hope all of you have a fun filled St. Patty's day weekend and I will see you next week!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Your First Web-Site

Have you ever web-site hopped? I'm not talking about surfing, I'm talking about seeing how they're set up, what information they have to offer, or products? Maybe you're planing to set up your own web-site so you need ideas...well I've done that a lot lately, not to mention, reading up on ideas or do's and don't's. 

There's quite a bit on information out there, but really, the most important is deciding what you want for your web-site and going from there. I do have the advantage of having built one in the past, so I'm up a notch on knowing what works and what doesn't, but I've never had a site for our book(s). A totally different animal.

When looking to build a web-site I believe there are a few things to consider and a few rules you DO need to follow. Of course it should be uniquely yours, and show off some of your personality, but it should not be too busy.

The first thing you should take into account is your genre. Your theme should speak to what you write about, such as pictures you've had done about your characters or scenes. Another way is book trailers, they are becoming more popular, and of course showing off your books.

You don't want too many "pages" on your site, just the basic. Your home page shouldn't be too busy. A brief synopsis about your story, or if you have multiple books, such as a lot of romance writers do then you might want to show off your latest published work. You would want to put your trailer here, and if it's a series or trilogy maybe talk about the main characters.

You should have a page about you. Not too long, just basics and how you began your journey as a writer. Next a page with your books listed and don't forget links to where to buy your books. You could attach a blog and or a gallery of pictures, and an event page for upcoming conferences or workshops and here you could do pictures from those events. 

And last, but not least, a page for contact. 

When starting out you don't need a fancy web-site. As time goes on you can always add to it or change it. Most of all, it should speak volumes about your books. After all, that's what it's for.

Until next week, have a wonderful weekend and if you have any ideas you wish to share, feel free. We are starting to set up our own web-site and we could always use ideas and thoughts to consider.

Love, Lisa

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Business Plan For Self-publishing Authors

One of my author friends gave me a great idea for this post, writing a business plan for self-publishing. If you already have a book out, this plan should be a great outline for you to follow, but if you are still in the process of getting your first book out there, your plan will be a little different.

I will touch on both areas of a writer's journey. 

Still working on your first book.

1. Whether you are already public or not, the first thing is coming up with a business name. Yes, you will be a business once you upload that book to Amazon so you will need a business name. Next will be setting up an LLC with your state.

2. Writing goals will be your guide at the juncture of a business plan. If you haven't already started a goal setting guide, this would be a good time to do this. You should list the name of your project, and then a list of what you would like to accomplish monthly, quarterly, and yearly. This would be a good guide for your monthly plan. 

A. Your word count daily and monthly
B. Your schedule with your critique partner
C. Classes you are participating in and any writing groups
D. Platform building
E. Your outline and character outline

3. At quarterly you check your goals and see if you met them for the 3 months. Then list your next goals for the following three months, such as adding more to your word count, finishing your rough draft, and starting your revisions.

4. Your yearly might be something like, starting a blog, building a presence on the sites you like, and finishing your book. You should write up your yearly goal in the beginning and at the end of the year see if you met those goals or if you need to concentrate on certain ones.

Now onto the writer who is ready to publish or has taken the plunge.

Once you have accomplished writing your book the next phase of goals will still have a lot of the same ones you had for writing your book. But you will be adding new ones to the actual business plan.

1. Description of your book and a brief synopsis. 

2. Marketing strategies to get you and your book out there for people to see. This one will be on going but you might decide to add a web-site and finding different book sites to upload your book to for availability. 

3. Working on your next book. This is critical because one book is not enough to carry a business. The more books you have the more your name will get out there to the public.

4. Continuing to hone your craft. We all are learning continuously. Like everything else in life, there is nothing wrong with bettering yourself. No one is a perfect writer and there are those out there who can help you to learn how to tighten your writing and putting out the best books you can. The better your writing the more popular you will become.

5. Analysis of your book. Tracking what works helps you to see what the reader likes, or doesn't. When the readers are present on the sites you use for your platform building, and what topics work the best for your blog posts.

6. Developing your timelines. The more you write, the faster you should be able to accomplish having the next book ready for publication. Also, the more you work on your personal goals, the more you will push yourself to accomplish higher standards for your output.

7. Budgeting for your next book. As with anything, it cost money to publish a book, self-published or not. You will need to pay for your cover, editor, book orders for any events, any extra's such as business cards,and book marks, and any party favors you plan for your personal events, like your book launch.

8. Opening a business account. Keeping your book money separate from your personal money is important plus it helps to develop your business. Sure you will have to use some of your personal money, at first, to pay for certain things, but keep track of everything with receipts. 

9. And don't forget to continue to set monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. Your list will be longer now than the one above. You will have projections for sales, finishing your next book and having it ready for publication, and events you would like to participate in, such as conferences.

10.To continue to set new goals and to up your goals are the key. Eventually you will be able to set a five year goal. 

There are a lot of "little" things you will need to add to your list that you will come up with over time, such as signing up your book(s) with the library of congress, the price of a website, and any other costs for swag. It will continue to grow if all goes well.

What are your goals for your writing? Is there anything you can add to help writers along the way? If so, please add your ideas and or, thoughts in the comment box. Hey, we should help each other along the way!

Until next week, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writers, Buckup

I recently read an excellent article about writers feeling burnout from social media and platform building. I totally understand the need to whine with this subject, but I loved the message the author gave their followers - buck up!

We writers want to write, not hang out on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and whatever else is out there. Not that we have an issue with these sites, it's just it can be depressing to spend loads of time on line to sell 3 books a month.

But I think the answer to this problem is simple, you need patience. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will be your fan base. It takes time to get the word out there and have people share your book(s) because they loved it.

It is a slow process, but think of the great people you've met and the wonderful relationships you've built along the way. It is true there is only so much time in the day so you can't hit all of the sites. Set yourself time limits and stick to them, but make sure you do have a presence on line. Your work will not pay off if your not working hard at it.

I think the word of the day here is - Relentless. You need to be relentless, you need to go on Facebook and the other sites, and you need to write a blog.

People want to get to know you and if they like you they will check out your book. In fact this is all about building relationships. Your fans will be loyal and the more fans you gain the better. Especially if you remember to thank them, too!

It is all hard work though, just like anything else. I hear the excuses of "I don't have time", or "I'm on the computer all day the last thing I want to do is go home and get on the computer". Well, look at this as your business and change your mind about the way you are thinking.

Try to be positive and give of your time twice a day for 15 minutes each time. If you have a smart phone this helps. You can go on your Facebook and Twitter and whatever else you like on your breaks if you work, or when your watching TV. 

Be patient, it will all be worth it. But again, like a good wine, it takes time!

Do you ever feel this way as an author? Do you ever ask yourself why am I doing this? Drop me a comment and let me know what you do to get through the social media blues!

Until Friday, have a great week everyone and don't forget to thank your fans!

Love, Lisa