How to Refine Your Raw Writing Talent – by Jerry B. Jenkins

Discouraging, isn’t it?

You write a few blog posts and friends sing your praises. You dream, Maybe I’ve got what it takes to score a publishing deal.

But then you run your idea and your samples past an agent, an editor, or a published author, and the music screeches to a halt. You interpret their “meh” as a scathing critique and you’re rudely awakened from your dream.

Special Note: This is a guest post by New York Times Bestselling author, Jerry B. Jenkins. Jerry’s one of the most successful authors of our time with over 70 million copies of his books sold. Visit: jerryjenkins.com

Unfortunately, I’ve seen it over and over.

Writers ask me for feedback. I believe they want real input, but when they see my suggested edits, their faces fall.

I know they were dreaming I would say, “Where have you been? How has a major publishing house not found you yet?”

They weren’t really looking for input—they were looking to be discovered.

You might have a boatload of talent—enough to tell compelling stories in fresh ways. But if you can’t accept criticism from those in the business, you’re not going to succeed.

I’ve written and published 195 books, including 21 New York Times bestsellers, yet I still need fresh eyes on my work. And I’ve had to become a ferocious self-editor.

Writing is a craft.

That means you must build your writing muscles and learn the skills.

Writing is a craft. That means you must build your writing muscles and learn the skills.

Regardless how talented you think you are, writing takes work. Many talented athletes never become pros because they believed raw talent alone would carry them.

That doesn’t have to be you, as long as you cultivate your skills.

3 Ways to Hone Your Talent

1. Read, Read, Read

Writers are readers. Good writers are good readers. Great writers are great readers.

Writing in your favorite genre? You should have read at least 200 titles in it. Learn the conventions. Know the rules you plan to break.

You’ll become aware of what works and what doesn’t. And you’ll likely see a vast difference in your writing.

2. Write, Write, Write

Dreamers talk about writing. Writers write.

Don’t expect to grow unless you’re in the chair doing it. 

Write short stuff first. Articles, blogs. Learn to work with an editor. Learn the business. Get a quarter million cliches out of your system.

3. Welcome Brutally Honest Feedback

The fastest way to shave years off your learning curve is to seek real input from someone who knows.

But be prepared. Your ego may take a bruising.

Yes—the red ink hurts. During my early years in the newspaper and magazine business, editors tore my work apart.

But it made me the writer I am today. Without that scrutiny I don’t know where I’d be, but it wouldn’t be on any bestseller lists.

Expect to be heavily edited and learn to aggressively self-edit.

Take advantage of every opportunity to grow. Assume there is always room for improvement.

I am still learning and trying to sharpen my skills, after over 50 years in this game.

By Bryan Hutchinson

Source: positivewriter.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – July 2019

By Amy Collins

So many authors launch their first book (or second) before building a list of readers and fans and THEN start working on attracting readers. They labor under the false idea that they need a book FIRST and then they can start building their readership. I mean, how ELSE do you build a base of fans and readers until you have a book?

Well, Nicole Evelina, the author of The Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy did just that. While she was working on her first book she decided to start drawing readers into her online “web.” This self-published author is now so popular with readers that when she has a new book coming out, thousands of rabid fans crash into each other buying her newest release.

So I asked Nicole to share with me:

  • What were some of the early steps that she took and found successful to help draw and attract readers?
  • How did she get started BEFORE she had a book?

What She Did

The first thing she said was that she blogged frequently long before the first book was out.

She is a writer of historical fiction so, like many novelists, had a lot of research from which to draw for her blog. According to Evelina, only about 1% of the research that she does for any type of book actually ends up in the book because she doesn’t want to bore her readers with all the details and stuff that makes up the backstory and fills the characters personality and experiences.

So for her, a blog was a great outlet for that. And to this day, her most trafficked pages on her website are some of those early posts where she wrote about Celtic life. She wrote blogs about the 12 types of Celtic marriage and another about the weaponry that that the Celts would have used. Another blog covered the way the Celts would cook…

That helped attract people to her that who were interested in historical elements and readers. She found that those interested in what they used to call dark ages, now call early medieval history, were often also interested in Arthurian legend because that’s the time period where it’s set.

She also actively encouraged those readers and blog subscribers to join her online in social media. By doing that on twitter and Facebook, she was able to reach out to friends and connections of her current online buddies. Her reach grew a little each day.

What She Does Now

ASK!

Just this week, I saw a post by Nicole where she said (in essence) “Hey folks, who’s got a blog, who’s got a newsletter, who can talk about my new book?” It was brilliant, she just ASKED! I watched a TON of people respond by saying YES.

Her book is now in the top 10 of historical fiction because these fans all jumped in and shared the posts, ads and recommendations she asked them to.

Because she has worked so hard to build a group of fans, she had a great response.

What We Should Do Now

We, too, can develop a team of readers who are willing to help us build our careers. This works for big-name authors and self-published authors alike…the key is ATTRACTION. There is no need to pound people over the head with a newsletter or offers to join a private fan group. It needs to be voluntary from readers. These readers/fans need to care about us and love us enough to want to support us.

Don’t be afraid of working this attraction angle…. I know every author out there has other authors that they love. If your favorite author asked you to read an early copy of their next book…. would you be willing to read it and post a review on, on a publication day or be willing to give it away on your blog, or share it on social media? Of course you would! So would your future fans. But they need to be ASKED.

We need to build our own team of fans and readers… even BEFORE our books are out. The reason this works for Nicole is because she is so genuine and real online. She spends 80% or more of her time online sharing truly personal items or asking folks about THEM. She genuinely wants to get to know people. I see her wishing folks happy birthday or offering condolences when somebody’s pet passes away… that’s a human connection, and it’s the stuff that builds fans. What does not work is pushing your book over and over.

You have heard me say this million times over: “Authors are not your competition. They’re your community.”

Join and build your community. If you do not enjoy social media, you have to figure out a way to build your community without it or learn to love it. And if you DO enjoy social media, you will enjoy a great deal of success. This is what it’s all about. Not hiding behind a typewriter or word processor. It’s about getting out there and being part of your community.

There you have it…. You CAN build your readership and fan base before you have a book. Honest. (And, you should!)

Source: thebookdesigner.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

8 Steps To Analyse A Successful Story

Bang2writers have been asking me how to analyse a story to help their writing. It’s something I recommend, because it gets us into the analytical frame of mind. This in turn helps us think about our own stories and what they need. You can read all my #B2WReviews here. 

But how do we get into this mindset? It’s worth remembering that emotion and anticipation go together. This means, the more you know (or thinkyou know), the more likely you are to be disappointed by a story. It’s just the way it goes.

Disappointment can breed negativity and that’s rarely productive for our writing. Analysing a story is neither about emotion or anticipation. Here’s the dictionary definition:

Analyse (verb): to study or examine something in detail, in order to discover more about it. 

There are some obvious key words there, in bold. Analysing a story is to look at all its parts and make a decision on how successful it is, based on the evidence available to us. Let’s go!

1) Empty Your Mind Of Preconceptions

If you want to analyse a movie, book or TV series effectively, avoid doing lots of research about it beforehand. Try not to watch trailers, or get into lengthy threads about it in advance. Empty your mind of preconceptions. Show up solely for the story and characters.

Obviously in the age of social media this will be more difficult for some stories than others. But don’t forget you can ‘mute’ key words and users. I do this all the time. I must have had about 100 social media accounts and sites muted in the months running up to Avengers Endgame being released!

2) Engage With It Alone The First Time

Lots of writers watch or read stories ‘for work’, then don’t actually do any work.! They let the story wash over them while they’re on the phones, talking, eating etc. They don’t give the story their undivided attention. OI, WRITERS, NO!

But we need to concentrate if we want to analyse. It helps then if you engage alone, at least until you get into the swing of analysing stories. If you really must go to the cinema or stream something with a friend or partner, make sure they know you’re working.

By the way, on social media watch parties, tweet-alongs and book debate threads are a thing. These are fun and the discussion they create can be really useful … IF you have watched/read the story before. Try not to do them the FIRST time, though.

3) Watch/Read In One Sitting

If you’re watching a movie or TV episode, this is obvious. Try and stay ‘in the moment’. That doesn’t mean peeing your pants if you’re desperate, but try not to leave the cinema or pause your Netflix.

The same goes for reading screenplays. Books are more of a challenge. Most need between four and six hours’ reading time, sometimes even more. If you can dedicate that amount of time, great. Do it. If you can’t, that’s obviously okay, but do try and keep your reading bursts close together so you can stay as connected to the story as possible.

4) Make Notes

I don’t mean write in-depth observations, just reminders. Stuff like:

  • Character names and role functions
  • Interesting and impactful scenes or moments
  • Genre or plotting conventions or twists you notice
  • Snippets of dialogue
  • When you feel bored

Whatever you like. The key is not to get carried away, just write ‘notes to self’ for later.

 

5) Initial Thoughts

With the story still fresh in your mind, take another look at your ‘notes to self’ from watching. Now is the time to write down  any strong emotions you feel about the story, positive or negative. I like to do this straight after finishing the movie, TV episode, script or book. Some people like to wait an hour or two. Try not to leave it any longer than this though, so it doesn’t affect the next step.

6) Revisit Those Initial Thoughts

Any strong emotions you felt about the story have probably dissipated by now. You may have changed your mind completely, or you still like or dislike it. You may discover you feel neutral. Ask yourself WHY your feelings may have changed, or stayed the same. Anything that occurs, along with anything else that may seem relevant now.

7) NOW Do Research

Now is the time to do some research on the story you’ve just watched or read. You may want to consider things like …

  • Craft. How does it bring concept, character and plotting together? Is it ‘good writing’? If so/if not, how do you know? What evidence can you provide? Maybe it is ‘bad writing’, yet it is still dramatically compelling or interesting. Maybe it breaks those supposed writing rules, but in a good way. Or maybe it appeals to some kind of universal ‘thing’ people can’t resist. What is it?
  • Who is this for? Perhaps you have watched or read something that is not ‘for’ you. But just because you did not enjoy it, does not mean it has zero value. So consider who it is for, instead. Why would the people in that target audience enjoy it?
  • Thematics & voice. What is the message, theme or point behind this story, do you think? Why o you feel this way? Is the writer well-known for a particular type of story, style or message and if so, why?
  • Production /Writing. Were there any problems in the production or audience reception of this story? If you liked it and others hated it (or vice versa), what were their reasons? Are these reasons backed up with emotion, or analysis? Were there any big changes or constraints that meant writers and filmmakers had to go another way from what they first intended?

8) Make Your Conclusion

Those who have taken B2W’s Breaking Into Script Reading course will know I believe there are two essential questions in script reading. These are ‘What’s working?’ and ‘What needs further development?’ I think this is a useful way of thinking about produced and published content, too.

With the above in mind then, I ask myself:

  • Do we know what this story is supposed to do?
  • Is it successful at what it’s supposed to do?
  • Why / why not?

I then utilise my ‘notes to self’ and initial thoughts and research to make my conclusion.

To Analyse = Evidence over Emotion

Obviously I am not saying you can’t get emotional about storytelling. As writers, we love movies, TV and books. It would be nonsensical to say we have to leave our emotions at the door. They are the lifeblood of all good storytelling.

But good analysis is about reason, not emotion. If you want to analyse a story of any kind, you must resist the urge to get angry or squee all over the place. Instead, you must collect the evidence and make a conclusion based on these things. Only then can you analyse effectively.

Here’s some B2W movie analysis to help you get into the swing of it:

25 Years Of Jurassic Park: What Can Writers Learn?

How Blade Runner 2049 Confuses All Its Critics

6 Important Writing Reminders From The Shape Of Water

How Wonder Woman Proves The Power Of Untold Stories

How IT Demonstrates The Enlightening Power Of Subtext

Why Paddington 2 Is The Best-Written Family Sequel, Ever

Good Luck!

 

By Lucy V Hay

Source: bang2write.com

 

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

The Ultimate Guide to Editing a Book

Congratulations! You’ve finished your first (or second, or fourteenth) draft, and now your baby is ready for those polishing touches that will make it truly shine. It’s time to edit your novel.

Ah, self-editing. Some writers swear by it, some writers swear it will kill them first. Either way, it must be done. Or mustn’t it?

Should I Bother Self-Editing My Book?

If you plan to self-publish, the answer is, absolutely.

If you plan to publish traditionally, the answer is, definitely.

Here’s why.

Self-publishers:
No one can truly edit their own work. Spare yourself the 1-star reviews, and have your novel edited professionally before you publish it. However, self-editing your book first helps cut down on rates. The more you do yourself, the better quote you’ll receive.

Submitters:
Yes, you will likely be assigned an editor before publication. But in order to get there, you have to catch the publisher or agent’s attention. To that end, your manuscript has to be as clean as you can make it on your own.

Before we sit down to work, let’s go over the different types of editing a book might require.

Types of Editing

A lot of work falls under the word “editing” or “revising,” but it all comes down to three types: developmental editing, line editing (also known as copyediting), and proofreading.

It’s important to identify the types of editing your novel needs–and do them in the right order. Developmental editing, for example, will probably make you revise huge blocks of text. There’s no point proofreading before you do that, because all your effort and time will go to waste.

The correct order is as listed above: developmental editing first, then copyediting, and finally proofreading.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need all three. If you’re submitting your manuscript, all three should be provided to you at no cost by the publishing house.

Here’s what each of them means.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editors take a deep look at the novel structure. They look for plot holes, character development, pace and suspense, tight scenes, and other story-level details.

Self-editing on this level is almost impossible. It’s the Curse of Knowledge: you’re too close to the narrative, you know the facts too well, and you can’t imagine how new readers would perceive the story. Is it clear enough? Entertaining? Suspenseful? Engaging? You’re the wrong person to answer these questions.

You can find professional, hand-vetted developmental editors over at Reedsy.

If that option for editing your book is a bit too pricey for you, you can find developmental editors on non-vetted platforms such as Guru, Upwork, and Fiverr.

Either way, be careful to interview your candidates and make sure they are masters of your genre.

Developmental editing rates for fiction manuscripts run anywhere from $0.03/word to $0.90/word. Some editors quote by page. The standard page has 250 words, so costs are usually $7.50 to $22.50 per page.

For example, a YA Fantasy manuscript usually runs about 60,000 words. Be prepared to spend at least $1800 on developmental edits.

Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Oh yes. The right developmental editor can make or break your novel.

Line Editing / Copyediting

At this level of editing the manuscript, story is no longer an issue. Language is. But not usage and spelling issues. Copywriters look at your voice, word-choice, paragraph and sentence structure, readability, and so on.

This is something you can and should do on your own! Do it before you send your book to be professionally edited, and all the more before you submit your novel anywhere.

Expect to pay $0.012/word to $0.02/word. Per page, the cost will be $3 to $5.

For a 60,000-word manuscript, that’s about $1,020.

Proofreading

The last but not least editing pass will weed out grammar and spelling errors, typos, inconsistency in names, and the likes. It’s a language-only pass.

Expect to pay about $0.01/word to $0.015/word. That would be $2.50 to $3.75 per page.

The same 60,000-word manuscript would cost about $720.

Some professional editors will lump line editing and proofreading under the same service. This combined service should cost about $0.02/word to $0.03/word. That would be $5 to $7.5 per page.

Getting Ready to Edit a Novel

Four more steps before we tackle the checklists.

  1. Let your manuscript breathe. Put it aside once you finish writing it (Stephen King recommends 6 weeks). This pause will let you come back to it with a clearer view. Instead of remembering what each word should say, you’ll be more able to see what each word actually says. Then you can judge if it works or not.
  2. Arm your vision. Install Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or a similar piece of software to help you catch grammar and spelling issues. They’re not enough, but they’re absolutely a good beginning. (Both Grammarly and ProWritingAid have free versions, but ProWritingAid’s is more limited.)
  3. Arm your ears. Install or bookmark a text-to-speech service to help you catch spelling errors, typos, repetitive sentence structure, overly long sentences, and so on. Natural Reader is a good free choice, for example.
  4. Pace yourself. Don’t attempt to edit huge blocks of text every day. The more tired you are, the more issues you’ll miss. Then you’ll just have to re-edit your work on the next day. Take frequent breaks to stretch, close your eyes, or do some deep breathing. This will boost your efficiency.

Now that you’re ready, let’s get to editing!

Self-Editing Checklist for Line Editing (Copyediting)

  • In every scene, make sure the reader knows who the POV character is, what characters are present, and where the characters are situated in relation to each other. Don’t dump this information in bulk. Instead, sprinkle it over some dialog and action.
  • If you’re writing a limited POV (first person or third-person limited), stop after every sentence and ask yourself: Can my POV character know/hear/think/see these details? For example, a character cannot see the color of its own eyes or the expression on its own face. Edit out whatever your POV character can’t perceive.
  • When you write a description, make sure it plays on all five senses (unless your character can’t sense that way). Go for the unusual details: the smell of dust in the air of a construction site; the cool, dry air of a well-maintained library; the explosive taste of sun sugar tomatoes on a pizza.
  • For limited POV, ask yourself after every description: Would my POV character notice these details? Would my POV character care about these details? Edit out or downplay whatever your POV character won’t bother focusing on. For example, if your POV character is fashion-blind, he probably won’t notice someone’s blazer cut—he might not even know it’s a blazer rather than a jacket.
  • Also for limited POV, make sure you describe objects and places not the way they are, but the way your POV character would perceive them. For example, if someone at a café is working on a new laptop, a poor character wouldn’t describe its model and maker. She’d describe it as a sleek laptop she could never afford herself.
  • Make sure each paragraph has a single key idea. If there’s more than one idea in a paragraph, break it into as many paragraphs as needed.
  • Generally speaking, keep the page “airy” with white space. Huge blocks of text scare away readers. To avoid that, vary your paragraph length, and use large paragraphs sparingly.
  • In dialog, start a new paragraph whenever someone begins speaking. Different speakers should not be in the same paragraph unless they’re talking at the same time, kind of like this: “I know what you did,” Jeremy said at the same moment that Louisa said, “I don’t care.”
  • If your dialog runs long, break it up with action that reconnects the characters with their environment. Otherwise, you’ll get the “floating head” syndrome, where the reader loses all sense of the scene except for the dialog itself. Have your characters interact with objects around them as they talk. We humans rarely remain at complete rest during conversation.
  • Destroy all exclamation points outside of dialog. An exclamation point, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, is like laughing at your own joke.
  • Use varying sentence lengths. Keep most of your sentences short-to-medium, with only the occasional long, winding sentence in between.
  • Use varying grammatical structures. “He verbed” can only get you so far. But steer clear of the “Verbing, he verbed” structure (for example, “Sitting, he looked at…”). For one, it sounds amateurish. For another, if you use it a few times, it sounds conspicuously repetitive.
  • If you do use “Verbing, he verbed,” only do it when the two actions are supposed to happen at the same time. That’s what this structure means. If one action is supposed to take place before the other, use a different structure.
  • In 99% of all cases, use the active voice: “I ate the cookies,” rather than, “the cookies were eaten.” Apply the Zombie Test if you’re not sure—try adding “by zombies!” after the action. If it sounds right (albeit hilarious), that’s the passive voice. Change it to the active.
  • Use a word frequency counter to weed out overused words. Readers will start noticing these after a while, and it will throw them off. You can use a free online counter such as Word Counter.
  • Weed out most adverbs and replace them with stronger verbs. If he talked loudly, he shouted or called out. If she walked quickly, she strode. If he ate fast, he gobbled down the food. In addition to manually catching adverbs, run a search for “ly” and double-check those words.
  • Weed out weak words such as very, almost, nearly, suddenly, started to, began to, really.  They add little to the narrative.
  • Weed out weak sentence structures. Watch out especially for sentences that begin with “There was,” “There is,” “It was,” “It is,” etc. Use them sparingly.
  • Weed out filter words, such as “think,” “see,” “hear,” etc. when they are outside of dialog. Instead of “Johnny heard her scream,” use simply, “She screamed.” The fact that you mention it implies that Johnny is hearing it.
  • Weed out 99% of “that,” “things,” and “stuff.” Use precise words instead, unless you deliberately want to sound vague.
  • Watch out for “Saidism,” the excessive use of “said” synonyms. Use “said” or action tags most of the time. Only when the tone cannot be inferred from the words, consider using a different verb. For example, Nicky can say, “To hell with you!”  There’s no need to shout it, because the exclamation mark is enough of a shout.

Self-Editing Checklist for Proofreading

  • Start by running your manuscript through Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or the like. Don’t automatically accept every suggestion, but do consider every suggestion to see what’s unclear about your phrasing.
  • Next, run your manuscript through the text-to-voice software of your choice. Listen to the narrator closely. If you find it hard to focus on sounds while you read, put away the manuscript and just listen. If there’s anything that sounds even a bit off, pause the narrator and check your manuscript. Keep an ear out for overly long sentences, too.
  • Search for known trouble-makers:
      • Their (belonging to them) / they’re (short for “they are”) / there (that way, in that location)
      • Farther (more distant) / further (more advanced)
      • Affect (a verb meaning “to influence”) / effect (a noun meaning “a result”)
      • Who (like “he”) / whom (like “him”) / whose (like “his”) / who’s (short for “who is”)
      • Its (belonging to it) / it’s (short for “it is”)
      • That (refers to inanimate objects) / who (refers to people)
      • Then (“at that time,” or “next”) / than (used for comparison)
      • Lose (the opposite of “to win”) / loose (the opposite of “tight”)
      • There are no such things as “alot” (it’s “a lot”) and “infact” (it’s “in fact”).
      • There are many more. If you’re unsure about any word in your manuscript, look it up in the context of a sentence example to make sure you get it right.
  • Search and replace all double spaces. They are relics of a publishing world long-gone. In your word-processing software, start a new “Search and Replace.” In the search phrase box, hit the spacebar twice. In the replace phrase box, hit the spacebar once. Select “Replace All.”
  • Print out the manuscript and read it carefully. Highlight errors and typos. Write comments on post-it notes and stick them directly onto the relevant page.
  • Mind how you capitalize and punctuate dialog.
  • Keep your tenses consistent. If you’re writing the story in the past tense, present-tense verbs have no place in it.
  • Scene break? Use an extra empty line, or centered asterisks (* * *), or a single centered pound sign (#).

A Note on Editing a Book

Remember, no one can completely self-edit his or her own manuscript. You’re bound to miss things. That’s okay. Self-editing is not meant to replace professional editing by a fresh set of eyes. Its job is to increase your chances with traditional publishers–or to save money when hiring a professional editor for self-publishing.

And finally, learn to enjoy, or even love, editing. Think of it as a golden opportunity to squeeze the most juice out of every word you use in your novel, or to sharpen the arrow which you will fire into your readers’ hearts. Make the most of it, and it will make the most of your novel.

By Tal Valante

Source: refiction.com

 

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Want to be funny? Here are 5 simply ways to mix humor into your writing!

Creating content that puts smiles on the readers’ faces can be very challenging. Not only is humor very subjective but you also need to know how to use just the right dose. This doesn’t mean that you are facing an impossible task. It means that you’ll need to add a bit of strategy to your creativity.

Depending on the type of content you want to produce, there are different ways of incorporating humor. For some inspiration and motivation, the following five ways of incorporating humor in your writing will give you some helpful ideas.

How to do it without overdoing it?

What you need to understand about humor is that not everyone finds the same jokes funny. That is actually not your problem, but what can be your problem is if you cross the line and offend your readers.

So, how to avoid such an inconvenience?

Here are some don’ts that you should keep in mind before you risk getting chased with pitchforks and torches:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Putdowns
  • Dark humor
  • Corny, used-up jokes
  • Bashing your competition

Now that we know what type of humor should be avoided, let’s get to the useful tricks.

1. The joke is on you

Show your readers that you are not a sensitive little flower and that you can handle a good joke. According to a study (HSQ; Martin, Puhlik-Doris, Larsen, Gray, & Weir, 2003), people who make themselves the butt of their own jokes actually demonstrate greater levels of happiness and self-assurance.

Self-deprecation is a safe choice, meaning that you won’t risk offending anyone and you’ll portray yourself as a confident individual.

Who knows you better than yourself? Take all those funny and cringy stories, stereotypes, and flaws and use them in your writing.

There is more to it than just making people laugh by joking about yourself. Readers will be able to relate and create a connection with you if you open up. It shows that you are honest and willing to accept your flaws.

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable with this type of humor don’t force it. It is important that you truly feel good about yourself and are ready to share with the world some of your embarrassing stories and insecurities.

2. Are you ready to compare?

Those of you who have read Robert Schimmel’s book Cancer on $5 a Day (Chemo Not Included) might have noticed the following part:

This stupid hospital gown is riding up my ass. I try to pull it down and it snaps right back up like a window shade. I cross my legs and suddenly I’m Sharon Stone.

When using comparison it is crucial that you use situations that are generally known or popular. Like Robert did with Sharon’s famous scene in Basic Instinct.

Writers are used to using comparisons and metaphors in various styles so this shouldn’t be a difficult challenge.

Just think through what depicts the situation that you want to describe. Is it painful, sexual, embarrassing? Then brainstorm and wait until something valuable comes to your mind. It should just come instinctively.

3. Get playful with words

Jazz up your writing with simple word twisting or word tweaks. Whether you want to use the already existing ones or make something up, it is up to you. The choices are endless.

For example, what do you find to be funnier skedaddle or hurry? A promiscuous man or a mimbo?

Using simple but funny words will give a humorous tone to seemingly ordinary sentences.

You can even make some of your own word combinations. Go wild and come up with new words that can add that something extra to your writing. Who knows, maybe it will even end up in a dictionary one day. Dare to dream!

4. Go big or go home

A little exaggeration can’t hurt anyone, can it? This has always been a popular technique among comics and humor writers and for a good reason.

There are writers who base their work on exaggeration. Just look at the work of Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize winner for humor writing. He is the master of exaggeration, but don’t take my word for it. Let his work speak for himself:

  • Eugene is located in western Oregon, approximately 278 billion miles from anything.
  • I have been a gigantic Rolling Stones fan since approximately the Spanish-American War.
  • If you were to open up a baby’s head – and I am not for a moment suggesting that you should – you would find nothing but an enormous drool gland.
  • It is a well-documented fact that guys will not ask for directions. This is a biological thing. This is why it takes several million sperm cells … to locate a female egg, despite the fact that the egg is, relative to them, the size of Wisconsin.

Is this enough to convince you?

5. Get down to details

Besides helping the readers to really picture what you are describing, including all the small details can sprinkle some humor on any situation.

Think about these two examples:

  • She was holding an old, rag doll.
  • She was holding what seemed to be an old, rag doll. However, it was more like a yellow ball of fabric with two black-ish patches for the eyes and a crooked smile (maybe it had a stroke, who am I to judge).

The more details you give, the scene will look more absurd and comical. Really picture all the little things that make that specific thing what it is.

I’m not saying that generalization can’t be funny, but when you really get down to specifics that is when things get spicy.

Joke ahead!

Hopefully, the above-mentioned tips have given you some inspiration and ideas on how to add that humorous effect to your writing.

It is up to you in which direction you will go, but as long as you don’t hold back, I’m sure that you will manage to create something great and worthy of every laugh.

What’s the funniest piece you ever wrote? Is it published on a website or on your blog? If so, link to it and share it with us in the comments below!

By Bryan Hutchinson

Source: positivewriter.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Always Have a Bagful of Exciting Writing Ideas

How intimately do you know the blank, virginal screen?

Do you have a love-hate relationship with it?

On the one hand are many writing options, waiting to unfold.

On the other, a dread of the unknown that freezes your fingers.

And always, that vast, nagging question: what shall I write about?

Take heart!

You’re surrounded by brilliant writing ideas waiting only for you to grab them and transform them into riveting pieces.

Whether you write a blog, fiction, or non-fiction, inspiration is all around you. Here are some ways to make your daily life an endless source of writing ideas.

1. Mix Up Topics

Interesting things happen when you choose a topic you care deeply about, and then combine it with something completely outside your experience.

For example, perhaps you are pro-life, with strong opinions about abortion. Let’s combine that with something you know absolutely nothing about. Say, motorcycles.

You could write a book about the member of a motorcycle gang whose girlfriend is pregnant. She doesn’t want the baby; he already visualizes it developing in her womb.

When the baby is born, she disappears into the smog, and the biker is determined to raise the child himself. He wants his son to experience the world as he never had the opportunity to do. So he sets off on a journey across the country with his toddler.

This can be a heartwarming novel, a hopeless tragedy, or even a comedy. It’s up to you. The possibilities are endless, even within this one scenario.

2. Be a News Hog

The news offers exciting possibilities.

Make a habit of reading about what’s going on around you, especially the slice-of-life articles. You can build on these stories, making them your own.

Some ways of doing that are:

  1. Imagine where the story could go next, and create a new ending of your own.
  2. Imagine alternative beginnings to the story. What could be the background of the characters involved?
  3. Change one major detail in the story. How would it impact the story? What new possibilities would that create?

Last week I read about two burglars who broke into a private residence and stole jewelry worth thousands of dollars. Did they get away with it?

No.

They were quickly apprehended because one of the felons was caught staring straight into the house’s security camera, revealing his unmasked face.

This seems to be an open-and-shut case. And yet, it made me wonder…

The burglars were obviously experienced. They broke into the house without a problem, and they searched it systematically for valuable goods. It was clearly not their first job.

So what caused the rookie mistake of not wearing face masks?

Could it be that the burglar caught on camera was distracted as he was making his preparations for the robbery, and so forgot to cover his face? What could have distracted him? Was it a subliminal desire to quit this dark line of work?

What made him go into house-breaking in the first place? And how did he feel when he looked directly into the camera, and probably realized he was in trouble? Why not try to deactivate the camera or find out where it was transmitting to?

Don’t get me wrong.

The true answers to these questions are probably boring: he was becoming overconfident after a long run of successful jobs and forgot to cover his face, or some such thing.

But the possible answers are much more interesting. I can almost feel the conspiracy thickening around this man.

Or maybe it’s a comedy of errors?

What would you make of his circumstances?

3. Capture Your Dreams

Dreams can be a fertile ground for inspiration. They are the essence of imagination run amok.

Your sleeping mind thinks up ideas that your waking mind might reject before you’ve even had a chance to register them.

These ideas can be precious writing material.

Your dreams are a gold mine, but so are other people’s dreams. When friends, family and strangers tell you about their dreams, that’s your chance to listen carefully.

A friend of mine received the inspiration for her entire novel from a dream her husband had. (Her story wasn’t based on his dream, but relied on the unreal atmosphere it created.)

Children’s dreams, in particular, are rich and free of filters. For example, your son’s dream about purple, diesel-drinking plants may inspire you to write the environmentally sympathetic version of The Day of the Triffids. How cool is that?

4. What If?

This is probably my favorite question ever. I turn to it whenever I’m out of ideas.

  1. What if time travel were possible? Where would my character go?
  2. What if three sisters decided to assassinate a tyrannical African despot? How would they do it?
  3. What if my husband decided that we should buy a motorhome and live on the roads for a year?

Try it!

Put together a long list of what-ifs.

There’s nothing more liberating for the imagination than that little two-word phrase.

5. Journaling—The Straight Way

Keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings and experiences can help you capture great ideas from your own life.

Write To Done has already covered this subject with two fascinating articles: How to Journal and 5 Ways Your Journal Can Take You Deeper Into Your Story.

These will set you on the road to journaling success. And great story ideas.

6. Journaling—With a Twist

What if you hate journaling? What if you think your life isn’t interesting enough to write about?

Well, make your life more interesting!

What is a writer if not an astute liar, at the end of the day?

Start with the truth—always a good place—and then embroider.

Suppose you stood in a long checkout where the sales person was rude and obnoxious. In truth, you may have done nothing but await your turn, bear it, gather your groceries, and leave.

But what would you like to have done?

Don’t write the truth. Fantasize, fabricate, lie. Re-create yourself as a character you’d like to read about.

And think how surprised and impressed your children or grandchildren will be when they discover your journal!

Life is full of opportunities. Don’t let them pass you by!

Try one of the exercises above and see where it takes you. Make it a habit to do a few exercises every day and you’ll never again lack writing inspiration.

What do you do when you’re looking for fresh writing ideas? Share in the comments, please, and help inspire others as well!

By Tal Valante

Source: writetodone.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Make Your Writing and Marketing Captivating with the Cliffhanger Technique

Cliffhanger endings have been delighting and frustrating readers ever since the 1800s.

The term “cliffhanger” was coined when Victorian author Thomas Hardy serialized the chapters of one of his novels in a newspaper.

One chapter ended in suspense with the hero hanging desperately from a cliff. Would he plunge to his death or not?

The Victorian ladies and gentlemen were probably quite flustered during their games of whist as they traded fan theories and waited impatiently to find out what was going to happen in the next chapter.

I’m sure you can probably relate to their plight. Cliffhanger endings have become a staple of TV show episodes and sometimes even appear in movies.

This year, you might have been one of the Marvel fans who flocked to see Avengers: Endgame. The previous film Avengers: Infinity War ended with a cliffhanger — the seeming victory of the film’s villain, Thanos.

Fans were left in suspense, wondering how the superheroes would manage to defeat the villain and undo all of the destruction he had caused. People were so eager to find out what was going to happen in Endgame that it became the second highest grossing movie of all time. (Shhh–no spoilers in the comments. I haven’t seen it yet.)

Something similar happened back in 2003 when Return of the King was released in theaters. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers had both ended on (you guessed it) cliffhangers, and fans rushed to see the final installment in the fantasy trilogy.

Funnily enough, back then Return of the King became the second highest grossing film of all time too.

That’s the power of a cliffhanger ending. It makes people become so invested in your work that they wait with bated breath for your next creation.

In today’s post, let’s look at how you can use the power of cliffhangers to make your writing and marketing captivate your audience too.

Why Cliffhangers Are so Powerful: The Zeigarnik Effect

Before we dive into how you can use cliffhangers, it’s helpful to understand why they are so powerful.

Cliffhangers actually trigger a psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect.

In the 1920s, Lithuanian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik observed that restaurant waiters were able to remember a complex order when they were in the process of delivering the order. However, once the order was completed and paid for, they promptly forgot that information.

Zeigarnik’s research showed that the human brain dislikes unfinished tasks. Those waiters were able to remember the complex order because their brains were in a state of tension. They were anxious for the task to be resolved, and so the information about the order was at the forefront of their brain.

Similarly, when you watch a movie or read a book that ends on a cliffhanger, your brain anxiously awaits the resolution.

Movies like Fellowship of the Ring or Infinity War don’t stand on their own as a complete story. You have to watch The Return of the King or Endgame to find out how all of the loose threads will be neatly tied up.

Important note: This is different than a book or movie that has a satisfying ending, and then the author or director decides to create a sequel.

In that case, you might read (or watch) the sequel because you love the characters and the world of the story, but there isn’t the same urgency to find out what happens that a cliffhanger creates.

How You Can Use Cliffhangers in Your Writing & Marketing Campaigns

When used correctly, cliffhangers can make your writing and marketing more fun and engaging. Let’s look at several ways you can use cliffhangers effectively.

1. The Cliffhanger Technique in Books and Blog Posts

As we have seen, you can use cliffhangers in a book’s conclusion to create anticipation for a sequel.

But, if you’re not writing a series, you can use still use cliffhanger endings in your chapters to keep your readers glued to the page.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to do this with every single chapter (that will probably be exhausting for your reader), but, where it makes sense to do so, you can end your chapter with a line that teases the upcoming chapter.

In fiction, this is pretty straightforward. End your chapter when the suspense level is high. Your hero is hanging from the cliff, and it seems his doom is sure.

Or maybe you end the chapter just when the hero is going to discover a vital piece of information. Your reader has to read the next chapter to find out what that information is. Cliffhangers ensure your story is fast paced and keeps the attention of the reader.

And you can use them in nonfiction too!

At the end of a chapter in a nonfiction book, you might write something like,

You probably have questions about how you can implement these strategies. Don’t worry. In the next chapter, we’ll dive into exactly how you can do just that.

And you can do something similar with your blog posts.

If you’re writing about a complex topic, you might be able to break your blog posts up into a series.

For example, let’s say you’re writing about how to become a successful freelance writer. Your first post might be about how someone can improve their writing skills, your second post about how to get clients, etc.

At the end of each post, you can acknowledge the questions your readers still have, tease your upcoming post that will answer them, and tell readers to stay tuned.

(I share more about writing engaging blog posts here and here.)

2. The Cliffhanger Technique in Emails

Do you send newsletters to an email list? You can use the cliffhanger technique to increase your open rates and engagement.

For example, if you use your emails to share links to your latest blog posts or other resources with your email subscribers, you can tease an upcoming resource you’re creating.

Let’s say you write about minimalism. You might include several lines at the end of your email like this:

P.S. Today, I shared with you why I became a minimalist. Next week, I’m going to share the rest of the story: what happened when I threw away 80% of my belongings and moved to a tiny house. Keep an eye on your inbox on Tuesday when I’ll send you the link to that post.

If your readers love your blog posts and are interested in the topic you’re writing about, they’re definitely going to be watching their inbox on Tuesday for your email.

3. The Cliffhanger Technique in Social Media

You can also use cliffhangers on social media to increase engagement. Brandon Stanton, who created the photoblog Humans of New York, does this effectively on his Facebook page.

Brandon shares portraits of people he encounters on the streets of New York City. In the photo’s caption, he includes a quote from the conversations he has with them. Usually, he shares one photo of a person accompanied by one quote.

But sometimes the interview requires a longer series of photos and quotes. For example, he’ll post the first photo and note in the caption that it’s the first in a series of three. The caption often tells a suspenseful and emotional story, breaking off right at a critical moment.

Stanton will wait a few hours before posting the next installment.

His fans go crazy in the comments. “Can’t wait to read the rest,” they type eagerly. Or: “There goes the rest of my day waiting for the next two parts.”

The next time you’re creating posts for your social media accounts, think about whether you can create a series with cliffhanger endings like Stanton does.

4. The Cliffhanger Technique in a Product Launch

Finally, cliffhangers can help create excitement and anticipation from your audience when you’re launching a new product or service.

Internet marketer Jeff Walker created the “product launch formula” that taps into the cliffhanger technique. You’ve probably seen it followed by many bloggers who sell online courses.

They create a series of videos usually marketed as a free training to their email list. (To be most effective, the training should be very helpful and valuable and not just a marketing ploy.)

Each video introduces a problem, presents a solution, and then introduces another problem which will be solved in the next video (the final video is often a live webinar with a sales pitch at the end for the product).

Let’s use the minimalist as an example again. Maybe she’s selling a membership to an online minimalist community.

Her first video might explain why you should become a minimalist, but then ends with the problem of how to get started (a problem that she promises to solve in the second video). The second video offers a solution, but then presents the problem of how easy it is to get discouraged on your minimalist journey. And…you get the idea. 😉

The cliffhangers in each video make people keep watching and also make them eager to learn more about the product when it’s finally pitched at the end of the training.

Because of the Zeigarnik effect, people are excited to find out how your product or service can help them.

The Takeaway

The cliffhanger technique is a fantastic way to hold the interest of your readers and make your writing and marketing more effective and engaging.

However, because it does create tension in the minds of your audience, it’s best to use it moderately.

You don’t want your audience becoming frustrated with you because every piece of content you post ends on a cliffhanger.

And you also don’t want to dilute the power of the technique. Brandon Stanton’s audience is always very excited for his 3-part photo series because he only does them occasionally each month.

They’re unlike the other photos he shares and that makes them unique and special.

Experiment and see how and how often you can incorporate cliffhangers into your writing and marketing. I’d love to hear from you in the comments how you will use this technique.

And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend who you think might find it helpful too. Thanks for reading!

 

By

Source: nicolebianchi.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

How to Unleash the Writing Genius Inside You

The biggest enemy any writer faces is one’s self and often appears as writer’s block.

If left untreated, it can be devastating to your output and your writing career. Nobody wants that, so let’s solve this problem!

Maybe you’ve heard of writers who get up every morning and put paws to the keyboard for an hour or two before breakfast. These are the people who churn out three or four novels a year like it was nothing (it’s not, of course). If you’re not doing the same, your gut reaction is likely to be jealous – crazy jealous.

How do they do that anyway? Do they add a magic potion to their morning coffee? Do the writing gods live in the spare bedroom of these high producers? Are they directly related to King Midas so every book they publish turns to gold?

It’s an entertaining notion to think successful people are born with innate talent that you don’t have. That lets you off the hook and justifies your complaining.

But it doesn’t get your book written.

If you suffer from any kind of writer’s block, you know all too well it’s a real thing. Sometimes it feels like a writer’s wall that is so high all the ideas on the other side are trapped there, forever out of your reach.

Unleash the genius one block at a time

Writer’s block doesn’t have to be forever.

Seth Godin makes the bold assertion that he never has writer’s block. To him, writing is another form of talking, and he is never at a loss for words.

If you’re an introvert, that might not comfort you much.

The truth is, words are readily available. You just have to reach out and grab them. The Muse loves the chase, and you can’t catch her by complaining about not being able to catch her.

In this post, you’ll learn how to hunt her down and make her do your bidding.

First, let’s identify the common blocks we writers face every time we sit at our desks.

Perfectionism. “If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth doing,” you might say to yourself.

Really? What is “perfect” anyway? Compared to what?

Everybody’s definition of perfect is different.

Aim to be effective instead.

Procrastination. “I’ll get started writing the moment this episode of Game of Thrones is over.” Or right after you unload the dryer. Or as soon as you wake up tomorrow.

The longer you wait, the easier it is not to start at all.

When you finish reading this post, you’ll face every blank page with confidence.

Fear. Someone might criticize you. Someone else might leave a nasty comment. Or worse, nobody will read your work at all.

Fear makes you freeze. Breathing is hard, and thinking becomes impossible. Except for worst case scenarios. Amazingly, you can come up with an endless supply of those.

What if you could blast past all your fears and tap into the writing genius inside you? What would that do for your production? Your confidence? How would the quality of your writing improve?

Forget about fear for 30 minutes a day

When we don’t want to do something, we do something else.

The dishes are piled up in the sink. But it’s been a long day and you’re tired. So you watch an episode or two of Black Mirror on Netflix. After that, you’ll feel more like dealing with the dirty dishes.

But you fall asleep on the couch instead.

What if you just went into the kitchen right after dinner and loaded the dishwasher before you plop onto the couch? Sure, it’s not fun dealing with the dishes. But it won’t be later either. Just get it over with.

When you’re done, you can rest in peace.

Dorothea Brande taught writers to get up and spend the first 30 minutes of the day writing “as fast as you can.” She gave that advice in 1934 and it as sound today as it was then.

Why did she recommend writers do this?

Because for those 30 minutes, you’re focusing on writing and nothing else. You’re ignoring everything in the universe besides putting words on paper. Call it freewriting, a stream of consciousness, a brain dump, or whatever you want.

How to make freewriting work for you today

It might sound crazy to have rules for “free” writing. But there are a few important ones.

And don’t worry, they won’t hamper your creativity at all.

First, set a timer. It can be for 5 minutes or 5 hours. You choose. If you’re just starting out, 5-10 minutes is plenty of time.

You might want to use the first 5 minutes to warm up your writing muscles. You can write about anything you want:

  • What you dreamed about last night.
  • The weather yesterday, today, or tomorrow.
  • How sleepy you still feel.
  • How stupid this seems.
  • How much you enjoyed watching Black Mirror last night.

The point is you’ll be putting words on paper. Set the timer again for 10 or 20 minutes and you can get more focused. Start with a prompt and write whatever comes to mind about it.

Second, don’t edit as you go. Please. You’ll be using both sides of your brain at once. That’s like drawing a picture, and erasing it at the same time.

The main reason you don’t want to edit while you write is that you risk wiping the flavor out of it. Try this instead. Write for 30 minutes or an hour. Take a break. Go walk. Load the dishwasher. Watch an episode of Breaking Bad. After you’ve put some space between you and your writing, then come back with a less critical eye.

Maybe you can even pretend your best friend wrote it.

Third, make sure you’re totally isolated when you write. Turn off the internet. Don’t answer the phone. Turn off the TV. Let your loved ones know not to bother you because it’s “writing time.”

If you need noise, listen to your favorite music. Just make sure it puts you into a peak state so you write something awesome.

When the timer stops, you have to stop, too.

If you can’t, I say keep going until you exhaust your idea mill.

If there’s one rule you can break, this is it.

Fourth, set a time limit for editing, too. Why edit forever? The more you slice away, the blander your writing becomes. Decide what you want to achieve and edit for that. Leave the spice in.

Proofreading doesn’t count as editing. Of course, you should do that, too. Fix the typos and read your work aloud. Does it sound human and conversational?

Perfect.

And I mean perfect by anyone’s standard.

Especially the reader’s.

In the end, the reader’s opinion is the most important one.

Now go pour out your soul on paper

We don’t want another “me, too” writer. We want you at your gloriously imperfect best. Entertain us with your wit. Dazzle us with your insights. Be bold in your creativity and share the story only you can tell.

If you’re not freewriting already, today is the day to begin.

If you are, share your experience in the comments. Pass this post to your friends who struggle with writer’s block. Let’s start a movement of creative geniuses changing the world with their words!

By Frank McKinley

Source: positivewriter.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

5 Super Powerful Ways to Mine Your Own Life for Writing Inspiration

One of the most challenging parts of being a writer is keeping things fresh. You always need new ideas and new things to write about.

Staying inspired can be tough.

Thankfully, you have access to unlimited writing inspiration when you look to your own life. Your life is full of inspiration, you just have to know how to uncover it.

Before you read the rest of this post, I highly recommend you grab a notebook and a pen. You’re going to start digging right now.

Ready?

Here are 5 ways to mine your life for writing inspiration:

1) Write A Sentence A Day

You’ve heard of keeping a scrapbook or photo book of memories, right? Well this is a similar thing, only you write the memory down.

Grab a notebook or journal and put it by your bed. Then right before you go to sleep every night, write one to two sentences about your day. Be sure to add the date for reference purposes.

This is an opportunity for you to reflect on your day and keep track of key moments in your life.

Here are some ideas for what to write down:

  • The best thing that happened to you that day
  • The worst thing that happened
  • What you learned
  • Your favorite moment of the day
  • A memory from that day you want to remember
  • What you did that was fun
  • Something that inspired you

Do this consistently for several months and when you look back you’ll have a collection of memories you can expand on for your writing.

2) Keep Track of Your “Most” Moments

You know your “most” moments? Everyone has them.

The most inspiring thing that’s ever happened to you. The most fun you’ve ever had. The most afraid you’ve ever been. The most happy. The most loved you’ve ever felt.

I can keep going, but I think you get my point. We all have “most” moments in our lives and these moments are ripe for writing inspiration.

Grab your notebook and write “My Most Moments” at the top of the page. Then make a list of all the “most” moments you can think of from your life.

Add to the list when another “most” moment happens or when something bumps another “most” moment from its spot on the list.

Refer back to this list anytime you need writing inspiration.

3) Recall the Transformations You’ve Made

If you’re alive, you’ve grown at some point in your life. Growth is the basis of making a transformation.

And transformations are perfect inspiration for your writing.

When you make a transformation, there’s always something you learned or got out of it, and that’s what makes good writing. There’s also a potential “how to” in there.

Get your notebook out, open to a new page and then divide the page into three columns, vertically.

At the top of the left column write, “Transformations I’ve made.” At the top of the middle  column, write, “How I did it.” At the top of the right column, write, “What I learned.”

For example, did you lose 100 pounds? What specific steps did you take to do that? What did you learn from making that transformation? Write that all down in the designated columns.

Readers want to be inspired, entertained, educated or all three. Writing about a transformation you’ve made, how you did it and what you learned is a great way to deliver all three of those things.

4) List Out the Lessons You’ve Learned

Piggybacking off the transformations you’ve made, I’m sure there are all kinds of lessons you’ve learned over the course of your life from what you’ve experienced and been through. Well, that’s all writing inspiration too.

Grab your notebook again. Open to a new page and then draw a line down the center of the page, vertically.

At the top of the left column, write “Lessons I’ve Learned.” At the top of the right column, write “How I Learned This Lesson.”

Take some time to brainstorm the lessons you’ve learned, along with how you learned them.

For example, did you learn that “you have to stand up for yourself” after being in a relationship where you never stood up for yourself? Write that lesson in the left column and the specifics about “how you learned it” in the right column. Now you have a lesson along with a story you can write to inspire your reader.

I recommend spending some serious time on this one. We often forget how much we’ve learned in our lives and how we learned it. This is a simple way to keep track of that stuff and have a well of inspiration for your writing.

5) Think Back On Experiences You’ve Had

The final way to mine your life for writing inspiration is to think back on the things you’ve experienced. You’ve done things, been places and met people who are worth writing about.

Grab your notebook one more time. At the top of the page, write: “Experiences I’ve Had.” Then make a list of all the experiences you’ve had that stand out to you.

For example, maybe you met the love of your life while standing in line for coffee. Write that down. Maybe you traveled the world for a month and experienced a wide array of places and cultures. Write that down.

We often discount our experiences and consider them “normal” or “average” because we’re the ones experiencing them. Yet so many people have never done what you have, which means your experiences are worth writing about and sharing with others.

Whether you’re writing a blog post, a memoir, a personal essay or even fiction, mining your life for inspiration is the perfect way to always have something to write about.

Now that you have a few ideas on how to mine your life for writing inspiration, well, then, let’s get to it! 

By Bryan Hutchinson

Source: positivewriter.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Professional Athlete

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Professional athlete

Overview: Professional athletes play a sport for a living. They make money off of ticket sales, medals and top placements they receive in sporting events, endorsements, corporate sponsorships, grants, merchandising, book sales, and by working part-time jobs to cover the bills. While most athletes don’t reach the millionaire level of fame and fortune that star players do, many can make a living as long as they stay healthy and on top of their game.

While much of an athlete’s time is dedicated to practicing their sport, their workday might also be spent reviewing footage of past performances, analyzing an opponent’s practices, working out, adhering to a fastidious diet regime, participating in promotional activities, and attending meetings with agents, coaches, and team members. Players of certain sports can live where they want and travel to and from sporting events. Athletes who can be traded at the whim of management may need to relocate multiple times throughout their career.

Necessary Training: Professional athletes only reach their level of skill through extreme discipline and years of diligent practice. Many work with private coaches to speed up the learning curve. Most athletes begin playing their sport as a child and continue honing their abilities through high school and college. While some athletes begin their professional careers directly after high school, most are drafted out of college, so they must have the academic foundation to get into a university and succeed there as they wait for the right opportunity to arrive.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, high pain tolerance, promotion, strategic thinking, super strength, swift-footedness

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Ambitious, analytical, confident, cooperative, decisive, disciplined, enthusiastic, focused, inspirational, passionate, persistent, responsible, studious, talented, uninhibited

NEGATIVE: Confrontational, obsessive, perfectionist, workaholic

Sources of Friction: A nagging or career-ending injury, having a bad day when an important scout is present, negative social media interactions being resurrected and tainting one’s reputation, trusting the wrong people (a greedy agent, friends who are only interested in one’s fame or money), failing a drug test, being replaced by a younger and more talented athlete, pressure (internal and external) to perform and succeed, a crisis of confidence, being traded and having to move one’s family to a new location, falling into temptation while on the road (one night stands, drugs, etc.), an unfavorable change in management or coaching staff, a coach that plays favorites, making poor choices with one’s vast amount of money, being accused of sexual harassment or fathering someone’s child, being sexually harassed on tour, losing a key sponsor or endorsement opportunity

People They Might Interact With: Teammates, competitors, coaches, agents and managers, personal trainers, nutritionists, doctors, physical therapists, fans

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: An athlete who is unable to deal well with the constant criticism inherent with this career may quickly find their self-esteem bottoming out.
  • Love and Belonging: Athletes who have to travel a lot or move away temporarily from family members may find it hard to maintain loving and loyal romantic relationships.
  • Safety and Security: Most career athletes last less than 20 years in their sport due to injury (this varies, depending on the sport). Career-ending and dangerous injuries, such as concussions and the like, can present a safety threat for professional athletes.
  • Physiological Needs: Athletes have been killed while competing, so while it’s unusual, it is a possibility.

Common Work-Related Settings: Airplane, airport, archery range, black-tie event, bowling alley, fitness center, golf course, green room, gymnasium, hotel room, house party, mansion, marina, outdoor skating rink, penthouse suite, skate park, ski resort, sporting event stands

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Stories about athletes typically involve the underdog hero going up against the well-funded, well-connected, legacy-type antagonist. Keep this in mind and switch up your characters to bring something fresh to the page.

Also consider the sport your protagonist will pursue. Popular sports are, well, popular for story fodder, but what about the less-romanticized activities? Sports like skeet shooting, equestrian dressage, fencing, wrestling, rowing, and paralympic events can provide the same competitive and stressful environment while allowing you to cover new ground for readers.

By BECCA PUGLISI

Source: writershelpingwriters.net

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing