Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Can You Work Through an Information Dump?

I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can't read through a long information dump. It's just too boring. 


If you're on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they've enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.

What is an information dump?  It's when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an 'omnipresent third person' (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.


The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn't the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.

I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it's not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That's a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn't mean anything to me.

As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won't be in the future. In fact, I'm currently working on 'Fat Girls Rock' and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I'm doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It's not easy, but I think I'm keeping it credible.

Something to think about.

Can You Work Through an Information Dump?

I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can't read through a long information dump. It's just too boring. 


If you're on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they've enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.

What is an information dump?  It's when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an 'omnipresent third person' (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.


The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn't the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.

I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it's not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That's a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn't mean anything to me.

As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won't be in the future. In fact, I'm currently working on 'Fat Girls Rock' and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I'm doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It's not easy, but I think I'm keeping it credible.

Something to think about.

Can You Work Through an Information Dump?

I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can't read through a long information dump. It's just too boring. 


If you're on Goodreads you will know that your friends can recommend books they've enjoyed. I usually prefer to choose books on my own, but I weakened and downloaded a book that was recommended to me. I thought the blurb and the plot sounded like it would be the kind of book I enjoy. But no. I never found out if the story was any good or not.

What is an information dump?  It's when an author wants to tell you the back story of the characters. This can be done in a few different ways, but one way is for an 'omnipresent third person' (OP3) a.k.a. the author, to tell the story. Another way is to have the characters think back, and the third (and best way in my opinion) is through dialogue.


The problem with the first method is that, apart from the fact that it isn't the way books are supposed to be written these days, we as readers need to become invested in a character before we care about their back story.

I am not going to mention the title or author of this book because it's not my intention to discredit anyone, but the author took the reader through four decades of back story of the four women who have played bridge since they were in their twenties. That's a very large information dump. I hardly knew any of the characters, so it didn't mean anything to me.


As an author, I have probably been guilty of the same thing in the past, but I most definitely won't be in the future. In fact, I'm currently working on 'Fat Girls Rock' and because it is the 4th in a series, (Redneck P.I. Mystery Series) I have to keep giving information about what has happened in the past. I'm doing so by breaking it up and spreading it out as far as I can and using as much dialogue as possible. It's not easy, but I think I'm keeping it credible.

Something to think about.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Best-Seller Hopes for Authors

Almost every writer has a dream about breaking out—or achieving best-seller status. Many of us think it's an impossibility, but recently I read something to change all of that.



I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA), and one of the two significant positives I've gained from belonging to the organization is their monthly magazine. In the March issue, five authors who have recently broken out are interviewed. The crazy thing—no one author could offer a single specific strategy that caused her book to break out.
Brenda Novak says she didn't do anything particularly different with Trust Me, her seventh single title.
Robyn Carr broke out with her 25th novel, Virgin River Christmas, 30 years after selling her first book. She had embarked on an aggressive marketing promotion when she started her Virgin River series, but she didn't do anything to focus on that particular book, the 4th in the series.
Susan Mallery broke out 16 years after her first book was published with Accidentally Yours. She didn't do anything different to promote it, but attributes her success in part to likeable characters.
Marie Force's 25th published book, Waiting for Love was book eight in the Gansett Island Series. She self-published the book, and spent a lot of time building a Facebook following. She believes the world she has created in the series is what readers responded to.
Kristan Higgins made the best-seller list with her fourth book, Too Good to be True.
The information I got from all five interviews was this:
―You must keep writing. Like everything else, it takes practice to hone the craft.
―Create likeable and memorable characters.
―If the setting is unforgettable, readers will want to visit it again.
―Most importantly it is the readers who make your book a best-seller.

If you write romance, it probably wouldn't hurt to read all of their books and learn from them. Even if you don't write romance, I hope if you are an author, you'll find this info useful and accept that writing a best-seller takes time and experience. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Interview with Author Susan Whitfield

I haven't featured any new authors for the longest time and I'm thrilled to be able to highlight multiple award-winning author Susan Whitfield. She writes in a variety of genres.


Q -- Welcome, Susan. It's so good to have you here on my blog. Please tell us about your writing – the genre/s, and why you chose it or them.

This is a loaded question, Trish! I started out to write a short story and it turned into a mystery novel, Genesis Beach. I liked the protag so much that I wrote a series about her, a tough North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent.  Since I’ve live in this state all my life, I decided rather than have Logan Hunter stay in one place, I’d move her around the state to showcase not only our beaches but our mountains and all parts in between.  Just North of Luck is set in the mountains, Hell Swamp along Black River where I grew up, Sin Creek along the Cape Fear waterfront in Wilmington, and Sticking Point in Beaufort. I decided to end the series and try on a few more hats.

I wrote a women’s fiction, titled Slightly Cracked and hope to write another novel in this genre. I had a blast writing about these two lifelong friends and their antics.

My brand new Sprig of Broom is historical fiction. I am the lineal descendent of a Knight of the Bath and wanted to write about him since he married King Henry’s daughter Matilda and fathered the long line of Plantagenet kings. He often wore a sprig of broom in his hat, hence the title.

I love to read many genres and I suppose it just seemed natural to try to write multiple genres as well. I’m easily bored so this has added adventure and challenge to my life.

Q -- Wow! I love that. So glad you chose to feature the historic book.

Sprig of Broom is the new book. It can be labeled historical fiction or creative nonfiction. It is a stand-alone. Here’s a synopsis:

Sprig of Broom is a coming-of-age novel about Geoffrey Plantagenet, a count, who at the age of 15 marries King Henry’s daughter, Empress Matilda, and fathers the dynasty of Plantagenet kings. The story begins with the count on his journey to Rouen in Normandy to become a Knight of the Bath. From Rouen, he and the king’s entourage travel to LeMans where Geoffrey is wed to Matilda. And the loathing begins . . .
Sir Geoffrey Plantagenet has much to learn, and over the course of his life’s journey he develops a better understanding of himself, fathers a long line of kings, endures adversaries—especially his own wife—and boldly faces the world of chaos around him.


Q -- Fantastic. Please tell us more about the main character(s).

Back in the 12th century folks were married off to each other with no regard for love or likemindedness. Goeffrey Plantagenet had never seen Matilda until he traveled to Rouen to be knighted and then with the king’s entourage to LeMans Cathedrale for the wedding. Matilda at once loathed Geoffrey because even though he was handsome, he was a mere count and only fifteen years old. She was 26 and had been previously married to the Emperor of Germany. She made his life difficult, indeed.
  
 Q --   Are you a pantser--you write by the seat of your pants, or a    plotter?

I have on occasion been a pantser but for Sprig of Broom it was crucial to be a plotter because I wanted to be as accurate as possible with the time period, architecture, travel, battles, and historical facts about their marriage and life together. Large gaps in time gave me the space I needed to let my imagination take over but I still wanted the novel to be believable.

Q -- Understandable. Promotion is the hardest part of being a writer. What do you do to promote your stories?

I have a blog at www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com and a web site at www.susanwhitfieldonline.com I’m also a member of many writers’ groups including www.booktown.ning.com, www.coldcoffeepress.com, www.booksinsyn.com, www.bookemnc.com.

Here's a short excerpt of Sprig of Bloom:

“I will see Henry, my son,” I said sternly. I backed away from her bed and walked into the nursery, where the baby still fretted in a nursemaid’s arms.
“Is he ill?”
“No, my lord. He is a babe being a babe. Lady Matilda has not the patience needed—” She stopped her words and her face reddened. “Oh, I beg your pardon sir!”
I smiled and nodded, understanding at her candor. “No pardon is needed, but I do wish to hold this fussy moppet.”
I gathered the bundle in my arms and the future king quieted and looked at me with bright blue eyes. I walked to the high window’s sun and looked him over. He smiled up at me and if he had not already held my heart, he stole it then.

~***~


Biography:

Award-winning multi-genre author Susan Whitfield is a native of North Carolina, where she sets all of her novels. She is the author of five published mysteries, Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, Sin Creek and Sticking Point.

She also authored Killer Recipes, a unique cookbook that includes recipes from mystery writers around the country.  All proceeds from this book are donated to cancer research.

Slightly Cracked is her first women’s fiction, set in Wayne County where she lives with her husband. Their two sons live nearby with their families.

Sprig of Broom is her first historical fiction about a medieval ancestor.

Susan’s books are available in print and all ebook formats.

LINKS:



Sunday, July 5, 2015

More About What I learned from James Patterson

I'm thrilled to have just finished writing the first complete draft of my debut psychological thriller, and novella, "Sheer Panic." Although I had already started writing this story with no outline, and not knowing how it would progress, I decided to stop and get the outline down.

Here's the start of it.

1. Tori avoids Roderick, 'the Freak' as she enters the cafeteria at college. He has been harassing her for a while and she is afraid to report him, in case he retaliates. (Here's where I know I should make a new chapter -- each chapter should be one scene.) Later, Dorky Dorian tries to flirt with her when she is putting her stuff into her locker. Her friend Janet tells her she's weird because she has opted not to go to Panama City Beach at Spring Break. Instead, she has agreed to babysit her niece so her sister can go. She never discusses the real reason she is afraid to go with her friends.

2. One afternoon when Tori is taking her neighbor's dog, Panda, for a walk in the park, Dorky Dorian tries to force himself on her and the dog attacks him. Panda's owner, Mrs. Stanley tells Tori she should get a dog of her own for protection. Tori reflects on her love life. She knows it's a total disaster, and if she had a steady boyfriend the weird men would leave her alone.

3. Tori is friended on Facebook by Lance, the boy she chased at high school to no avail. Although it seems a little odd that he has suddenly had a change of heart, and decided to pursue a relationship with her, she is still totally smitten with him, and she goes along with it. She hopes it will turn into something serious, and take her mind off the stolen kiss with her sister's boyfriend, Dan that has been plaguing her. (This scene needs something to make it more exciting.)

4. Tori takes her niece, Shari horse riding and sexy Joaquim .... etc.

Once I had completed the outline, it was easy to write the story, although it's still in the first draft rough format. I found that I deviated a little from the outline when I came up with a better idea, and as I went along, I changed the outline at times. I love the finished draft.

Here are some other things James talked about in his videos:

  • First lines -- We all know it is essential to capture your audience right away, yet so many writers start with something mundane and boring. Mine is:                                                          "I just don't get why your love life is such a total mess," Janet said.  "It's just not right. It's not that hard. You must be the only nineteen-year-old in the whole school who isn’t getting laid."
  • Be yourself. Imagine you're sitting across the table from your best friend telling them the story of a movie you watched. If you wouldn't use pompous and puffed up language and fancy words when speaking to them, you shouldn't be using them in your writing.
  • Try writing a couple of different endings. Make them as outrageous as you can. I did this and absolutely loved the new one I came up with. It was far more exciting than the original ending.
  • Try writing the same piece in the POV of more than one character. You could fall in love with a version you never thought about before.
  • Don't be afraid to break the rules. Whatever works for you is okay. We're all different, and so are our readers.
  • Do your research. Don't just wing it. You must know what you are writing about to build credibility.
  • Don't be afraid to rewrite if it doesn't feel right to you.

More in my next post.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reading and Editing

Editing is an essential part of the publication process. Whether we like it or not, it is almost impossible for a person to see all of his or her errors. Everyone needs an editor--even the world's best selling authors, and I don't mean searching for typo's and grammatical errors--I mean content and development editing.

I belong to several online organizations, where writers share their work free, either in return for a guaranteed review, or just for added exposure. I usually select romantic suspense or suspense novels, and download them to my Kindle.

Every now and then I discover a new author whose work I love, and I give them a review and I buy their other books.

More often than not, though, I only read a few pages before giving up on a story and moving on to the next book. The problem I find to be the most common, is that authors have self-published without the aid of an editor, and their work just doesn't flow. I don't feel comfortable giving these writers a review, because negative reviews can cause terrible harm and discouragement. It's easier just to move on. The most common problem I see is head-hopping and author intrusion. A lot of writers don't know that in today's publishing world, fiction is written as if the characters are telling the story, and there is no narrator/author.

When I was ready to publish my first novel, the Internet didn't exist as we know it today, and I had to go the traditional route, and submit my manuscript to several publishers, knowing that rejections were part of the process. Since then, the Internet publishing business has taken off, creating exponential opportunities to those who want to write. I will always be thankful I had to submit my work to publishers, because even now I still prefer to go that route for a very good reason.

Reputable publishing houses, run by people who know the publishing industry, will always have at least one accredited editor on staff, who will work with each author to help hone their work, and make it best it can be before publication. (The downside is that not all publishing houses are genuine, and it is difficult if not impossible for a new author to recognize a scam.)

Jude Glad, my editor and a part owner of Uncial Press, has been a wonderful mentor, and has taught me more than I could have learned in a couple of years of college classes on creative writing. I will always be grateful to her. My Zodiac Series is published by Soul Mate Publishing, and owner/editor Debby Gilbert has added to my bank of knowledge in a very positive way, and I don't know where I would be without either of them.

I was so inspired by them, that I decided to pay forward and give back to other writers what I have learned, and I started my online editing business to assist self-published authors, and give them a better chance at achieving their dreams. I have made my pricing extremely competitive because I know most writers don't have a lot spare cash lying around. I wish I could do it for free, but editing is time-consuming, and it does take away some of my writing time.

I have done very little active promotion, but have always been busy since the inception of my editing business, thanks to word of mouth recommendations from some of my wonderful customers. I am only one person so I can only handle one manuscript at a time. I've had the privilege of reading and helping to optimize some wonderful stories, and fascinating non-fiction by some very talented authors.

My services include development and content editing, formatting for, and uploading to Amazon's CreateSpace and KDP Direct, and other online self-publishing platforms, plus cover creation, I've also recently been asked to write someone's memoirs, and I've added that. I also build websites or help create and format blogs.

Here is my address: Youselfpublish.com