Monthly Archives: August 2017

Five Awesome Things About YOU!

Hi, Seekerville!

Welcome to awesome Wednesday. (Please note our comments are awesome and out of control today, hit load more to get to the current comment!)

To start this post,  I’d like to tell you about Mel Jolly.

Melissa Jolly is an Author’s Assistant to multiple NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors and founder of Author Rx. She has been “Keeping Authors Out of the Loony Bin Since 2009.” Her newsletters are full of good stuff. I actually look forward to receiving them.

The July Author Rx newsletter shared this quote that has been burning through my dura mater of late.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
 ― Steven Furtick
Let’s talk about that highlight reel.

A highlight reel is not unlike a movie trailer. It’s all the good bits. Social media does the same thing. All the good bits.

Come on, life is not a Pepsi commercial.  Those gorgeous put together Facebook, Twitter, Instagram posts and live ops are staged. No author I know of drives around in her car with a Starbucks cup, sipping from a straw while she tosses her perfectly coifed and highlighted blonde hair over her shoulder with a hand that displays her newly manicured nails before she smacks her lovely lips (note it’s the same color Bella Hadid uses, Rouge Dior 999 Couture Color of course!)

You know what? There really is nothing wrong with the above scenario. And if you are an author you know that books used to be our product. Today, authors are as much a part of the product as the stuff between those covers.

Just understand that it’s all staged. You see only what the author wants you to see. A perfect or slightly imperfect (to make her look like a regular Joe) slice of her life. The five-star reviews, the accolades, and all the accouterments are filtered for your viewing pleasure.  Sure, you see authors working hard, but when was the last time you saw a picture posted of an author plunging the toilet or cleaning up a furball off the floor? Not lately.

(And BTW, if you are spewing the ugly stuff on social media then that’s another post for another day!)

It’s a highlight reel. Got it? Don’t compare your everyday life to the good bits.

And while you’re at it, try to remember that we are not cookie-cutter writers (or readers!) and you do not write cookie-cutter stories. Cookie-cutter manuscripts are technically perfect and are without flavor or seasoning. They lack soul and identity.

Stay true to yourself and your voice. Never try to be someone else.

You are uniquely you. Who else could be you, BUT you? Your voice is your writing fingerprint. Sure you have to learn the rules. You learn the rules so you have the right to break them as you then work to mold and create the writer that is YOU!

No one else could write the books on our Keeper Shelf but those authors. Right?

Could anyone else have written A Passion Most Pure? How about The Husband Tree?  Or Back in the Saddle?

I’ve quoted Stephen Covey over and over in the past, so what will one more time hurt?
This is your journey.

  • Don’t live somebody else’s writer life.
  • Don’t measure yourself by someone else’s yardstick.
  • Don’t find yourself chasing someone else’s vision.

Above all, you and I are fearfully and wonderfully made. Dare I say, awesomely?

Yes, you are awesome. There are at least five awesome things about you that the world needs to know about.

Today is all about you. Tell me 5 AWESOME THINGS ABOUT YOU. 

I’m serious. Do not post in the comments today unless you are willing to share five awesome things about you.

If there are only three comments today, I’m fine with it.

You can come back tomorrow if today is too soon for you to believe you are as awesome as I know that you are.

Source: seekerville.blogspot

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing


Self-Editing Your Book And Why It’s A Bad Idea

It’s tempting to convince yourself, as a native speaker of the language you just wrote a book in, proffering your English degree perhaps, that you are in fact exactly the right person to edit your own book. What does it mean to have your book edited, and why is it that nobody can edit their own words? Editor Cate Baum discusses.

Your brain literally cannot do it

You’ve heard the phrase “wood for the trees.” This is precisely what happens to you when you try to re-read words you have written and read many times over. Instead of actually making your brain look more carefully at the words, your brain starts to gloss over and fill in the errors the more you look at a page.

We build what are called “brain maps” that allow us to take short cuts when we already know the destination, and trying to proof read your own story is a perfect example of a place that the brain is confident of the ending. It’s what ScienceABC calls “a fight between your brain and your eyes.”

Be assured nobody can ever proofread a book at a catch rate of 100% however, and it’s very prudent to have a proofread done at least twice by either a different editor, or the same editor with a break of time between the assignments so that your editor also does not suffer with “wood for trees” fatigue.

You are not trained to do it

Professional editors, with many years’ experience, will be able to proofread with an error rate of high eighties to nineties out of 100. 85% up is considered fantastic by all the major professional editor bodies in the US, Canada, and UK.

A professional proofreader looks for patterns in words rather than reading the actual text, as if the words are more like equations that must balance out. It’s basically a technique whereby the words do not become a narrative as much as form sentences and paragraphs that make the best possible sense. If you are the author, you may be more concerned with the aesthetic and emotional sensibilities of a text, and you may find yourself unable to cut out anything that contradicts your ideas “as a writer.”

The difference between editing and editing

Often a writer will think they have “edited” their book. This can mean they have checked spelling and grammar, or it can mean they are going over huge portions of the book for narrative problems such as too much “tell” not enough “show,” or plot holes.

A content/copy edit will be carried out by a professional editor as a creative assessment, but factoring in commercial aspects such as whether your book might be up for book deal, “sellability,” and trends. So even if you like a plot point, your editor might have some further information on what readers want that will transform your story to market. Don’t be stubborn here – nobody wants to sell zero books.

Are you ready to destroy your book?

A good content edit should elevate your book to an acceptable standard whatever state it was in to begin with, but bear in mind that you will be expected to work on your book after a content edit to correct, enhance, augment, and tear out whole characters, plot lines, and themes to produce a solid text. This can be very upsetting, but once you get over yourself you may find your editor was right and find yourself apologizing for the infantile outburst you had on Monday when you read that she wanted you to get rid of your favorite character or chapter. Yes folks, I have told an author to destroy three or four chapters, five characters, and one whole plot line to improve her book, and she has got constant 4-5 star reviews on Amazon up from her paltry 2-3 stars in the last edition.

Self-editing will never get your book that ripped. Sometimes you just have to take it to make it. If you can’t do it, just remember Tony Hancock in “The Rebel.” He creates a genius sculpture, hailed by critics, but when he refuses to get help on his second work, he gets called out as a hack.

Are you ready to go against your artistic feelings?

If you self-edit, how much nonsense that should have stayed in the planning stage of the book is going to stay in? How many plot lines will you feel you can’t get rid of because you enjoyed writing them, and you think your reader might enjoy them too? How much dialogue did you write like a scene from a movie, when a book should be made of descriptive scenes, not dialogue?

If you don’t address the tough issues, the reader will review your book as it is, warts and all. This can lead to low star reviews on Amazon, and any promo you did will be wasted as sales fall off.

Get An Opinion

You need a second opinion on anything in life. Did you ask a friend about the shade of lipstick before you bought it? How about that tin of beans – did your partner say which brand they preferred? And yet, this book you just slaved over for maybe years is not worth an opinion? An editor will give you a non-emotional, professional opinion that you need to finish your work.

Beta Readers – Not Professional Editors

Beta readers seem to have become “the poor man’s editors” because some authors have taken to getting friends and family to give their thoughts of the book instead of paying for an editor. This is not the purpose of a Beta Reader. Beta Readers, as the name suggests, are for the final read of the edited book before you put it on sale, and that is absolutely what you should use them for, not for editing, because they are not editors trained to edit. They are a reflection of your reader.

A word on specialist edits

Editing technical texts

If you plan to release a book on a non-fiction subject that uses technical terms and phrases, you will have to hire a technical editor from your field. Fiction editors will mostly not be able to edit your book properly.

Second-language English specialist editors

If your first language is not English, it is essential to find an editor who understands what it is like to speak another language. I have specialized in editing books for second-language English authors for years, mostly because I am multilingual in French and Spanish, as well as speaking a further three or four languages from time to time (Scandinavian languages, Italian, Latin, Catalan, German etc.). Understanding linguistics becomes more important for these kinds of edits, so seek out someone like me to help with these sorts of edits.

Remember the absolute GOLDEN RULE is that your editor must always be, no matter how qualified in other editing skills or the English language, native to the language your book is written in. There is a nuance that nobody can learn in a language that will finesse your book to a proper standard when you stick to this rule. You will never know if your editor did a good job if you yourself are not native speaking otherwise.

Children’s books

It’s not advisable in any case, in my opinion, to even try and write a book for smaller children without being utterly qualified and trained in child development. This is because most people don’t understand the stringent flaming hoops parents insist upon these days, rightly so, with anything that their precious one is consuming. Most parents stick to tried and tested books and publishers, and will not be willing to try out anything else in case it is in some way inappropriate.

The best thing to do here if you still insist on this route is to seek a children’s book specialist editor, preferably one who has worked for a big publishers that is known for its children’s books. This is the only way to get your language, readability, illustrations, design, and subject matter age appropriate and stringently in line with child developmental guidelines. Otherwise you could be heading for a massive crash in reviews on Amazon – if anyone buys the book at all.

It may be better to question why you have decided to write for small children with no experience of it. If the reason is you have a very short story, no pictures, and no idea what age group it is for, that’s a real concern. Maybe look at writing for older children or YA fiction, which is more flexible in terms of theme and language.

How to make the most of your edit

This process is followed by self-publishers, publishers, and indie publishers alike.

• Do a spellcheck using Word
• Make sure you have finished writing your book in its entirety because no editor will re-edit a book unless you pay them again!
• Hire a professional editor to content/copy edit your book – not a friend!
• Work on your book again with all notes given from your editor
• Hire an editor to proofread your book
• Put the manuscript in a drawer
• Read it after one month to check you like it
• If you don’t, go back to the top of this list
• If you do, hire an editor to proofread your book
• Hire beta readers to read your book
• Get a professional reviewer to write a review of your book. Amazon values Editorial Reviews highly, featuring them above Customer Reviews.
• Publish your book with a quote from the review on the back of your paperback, or on your Editorial Reviews section on Amazon and Goodreads.

Source: selfpublishingreview

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

B&N Needs to Get Over Its Fear

I live in Vancouver, WA, with Powell’s Bookstore in Portland about 40 miles away. I was thrilled when the B&N stores opened in the area, they were a lot smaller than Powell’s, but were closer, and had the coffee bar.

B&N has since operated like they are run by people with 2 years before retirement, they want to keep everything static to maximize their retirement. They for the most part fight the Internet, not embrace it.

My memory says that B&N had the first cheap Android tablet, but it was locked down to work only as a book reader, until hackers made it useful. Then, as a hacked, useable tablet, its sales exploded. Then, instead of giving away the razor and making money on the blades (this is exactly what Amazon does with tablets), B&N made it a profit center and failed to compete with Amazon.

B&N has operated from fear, where Amazon grabs the bull by the horns and goes, understanding that they will make errors.

For example, Amazon works with Overdrive to provide ebooks for libraries. A lot of people don’t like library ebooks because they expire in 1-3 weeks, and people like me will read library ebooks all the time. I don’t think Amazon loses much if any sales servicing library customers, but they do get them to their web site.

I don’t actually buy may ebooks from Amazon, but I own multiple Amazon tablets. They are great for ebook and videos, which is what I use them for, plus Amazon updates their tablets, unlike any other Android maker. They are also trivial to add the Google Play Store to, making them as useful as the other Android tablets. They are by far the most cost effective tablets. I own a Kindle, but don’t use it much, I read at night and it doesn’t have a backlight.

As far as B&N improving sales, one of my biggest issues is finding content I want to read. Amazon and all the web sites and services fail for a simple reason, at least for me. I like very specific genres, not best sellers. I think B&N could add value by asking me very detailed questions about the books I want to read, then giving me suggestions. Lots of services do this but fail because they don’t have enough info.

For example, I like fiction set in the middle ages that’s not romance. They exist, good luck finding it. I like post-apocalyptic fiction that doesn’t have aliens or zombies. Good luck. Every book has meta-data, I just think that if this was expanded, reader would see a much higher percentage of books they might want. World War II fiction, same thing.

I’d love to see B&N succeed, but they have to be aggressive and get over their fear.

by Randy Lea

Source: digital-reader

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing


Kindle Unlimited Funding Pool Grew in July 2017 as the Per-Page Rate Dropped

July is the last month before the new KENPC changes take affect, and it went out with a bang. Amazon reported yesterday that the funding pool rose by $1 million in July 2017, to $19 million.

At the same time, data collected by Self-Publisher Bibel shows that the per-page rate decreased significantly from June 2017, from 42 thousandths of a dollar to 40 thousandths.

That is a drop of 20% in the per-page rate so far this year (January’s rate was 00.4754 cents), leading some authors to announce they are quitting KU.

  • US: $0.0040 (USD)
  • Germany: €0.0027 (EUR)
  • UK: £0.0031 (GBP)
  • Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy: €0.0040 (EUR)
  • Canada: $0.0040 (CAD)
  • India: 0.7847 (INR)
  • Brazil: R$ 0.0098 (BRL)
  • Japan: 0.5001 (JPY)
  • Australia: $0.0035 (AUD)

P.S. Here’s a list of the monthly funding pools. It does not include the bonuses paid out each month.

  • July 2014: $2.5 million (Kindle Unlimited launches early in the month)
  • August 2014: $4.7 million
  • September 2014: $5 million
  • October 2014: $5.5 million
  • November 2014: $6.5 million
  • December 2014: $7.25 million
  • January 2015 – $8.5 million
  • February 2015: $8 million
  • March 2015: $9.3 million
  • April 2015: $9.8 million
  • May 2015: $10.8 million
  • June 2015: $11.3 million
  • July 2015: $11.5 million
  • August 2015: $11.8 million
  • September 2015: $12 million
  • October 2015: $12.4 million
  • November 2015: $12.7 million
  • December 2015: $13.5 million
  • January 2016: $15 million
  • February 2016: $14 million
  • March 2016: $14.9 million
  • April 2016: $14.9 million
  • May 2016: $15.3 million
  • June 2016: $15.4 million
  • July 2016: $15.5 million
  • August 2016: $15.8 million
  • September 2016: $15.9 million
  • October 2016: $16.2 million
  • November 2016: $16.3 million
  • December 2016: $16.8 million
  • January 2017: : $17.8 million
  • February 2017: : $16.8 million
  • March 2017: $17.7 million
  • April 2017: $17.8 million
  • May 2017 :$17.9 million
  • June 2017: $18 million
  • July 2017: $19 million

Source: the-digital-reader

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

The Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries Around the World

You can visit a new country in person, or you can travel there in a book. The folks at the editing and proofreading site Global English Editing recently released an infographic of the most iconic books set in 150 countries around the world.

The books on the list all share one common trait. Though they represent a wide variety of styles, genres, and periods they all give the reader an immersive sense of place. In the pages of these books, you can walk the back roads and countryside like a local and come to understand the history of a country through its stories.

Short of traveling there yourself, there is no better way to get to know a country than through the experiences and stories of the people who live there. Whether or not you have ever visited South America, Chile’s The House of the Spirits or The Invisible Mountain from Uruguay will transport you to the other side of the world without even leaving home.

We’ve included the infographic here, or you can head over to Global English Editing blog for a brief synopsis of the books chosen.

Forget traveling around the world in 80 days; now you can read your way around the world in 150 books.

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Here’s How to Focus on Your Writing

Over the weekend, I was working on a book project. I’ve been working on it for almost a year and desperately need to finish it. But when I sat down to work on it, suddenly everything became more interesting than the writing on the screen in front of me. It was hard to focus on writing and not the millions of distractions at my fingertips.

I stared at the wood table for too long before picking up my phone and texting back everyone I hadn’t in the last six months. I stared out the window, got a refill on my coffee, and then finally wrote maybe thirty words.

5 Things You Need to Focus On Writing

If you’re struggling to finish all of your writing projects, you’re not alone. I almost always get questions about how I focus long enough to actually accomplish all of the writing I need to get done. So for the sake of all our writing careers, I’m going to try to answer that in today’s post.

1. You Need Real Paper

Computers are incredible. They have made our lives so much easier, but when it comes to focusing, paper is necessary.

When we write, our minds have a million thoughts running through them. How do I want to organize this chapter? What are my main points? Have I already introduced this character? I’ve found that real paper and a real pen give me more power to answer all these questions and allows me to better focus on the writing when I do turn to my laptop.

2. You Need Time

The best way to focus is to give yourself a lot of time. My favorite article about this is written by Cal Newport, which explains the concept of Deep Work. There is a great benefit to taking two or three hours with zero distractions to get work done.

We focus best when we know we have an entire morning or afternoon to dive into a project. When you write, you delve into another world. You need an extended period of time to refresh yourself with where you left off and where you want to go.

3. You Need Deadlines

Deadlines and I have a serious love/hate relationship. Without them, I get nothing done, but with them, I’m often miserable. However, at the end of the day I need to pay rent and buy food, so deadlines it is.

Don’t just set deadlines for weeks and months in advance; set deadlines for what you will accomplish before lunch. You will focus better knowing exactly what you need to do before you get out of your chair.

4. You Need a Pattern

Before I established a pattern in my writing life I was lucky to roll out of bed before 10 am. I worked when I felt like it and didn’t accomplish a lot. But when I did finally establish a pattern, my whole writing life changed.

Establishing a pattern will help you write more consistently. There’s even research that proves famous writers’ sleeping habits lead to productivity and more focus. (I’m in.) Either way, we are creatures of habit and focus when we are consistent in our lives.

5. You Need a Place

You’re a creative, which means sitting in a cubicle will probably kill you. I wrote a post a while back about the importance of finding your place to write. Finding a place you know you can focus on writing is the key to getting the writing done.

Focusing Takes Practice

Although I always picture myself typing away furiously, crafting word after word into beautiful sentences, it never looks like that. About sixty percent of my time is spent staring out windows, counting the clouds, and wondering if these books will write themselves.

15 French Words and Phrases That Don’t Mean That in French

This post lists a number of words and phrases used in English that are derived from French but are no longer employed with the same idiomatic sense in French (if they ever were). Each term is followed by the literal French translation, a brief definition, and a comment about its status in French and how the French language conveys the idiom.

1. au jus (“with juice”): a brothlike meat sauce (the phrase is often incorrectly treated on menus as “with au jus”)—obsolete in French except for the slang phrase être au jus (roughly, “be with juice”)

2. cause célèbre (“celebrated cause”): controversial or emotionally weighted issue—obsolete in French, but originally referred to a sensational or unusual legal decision or trial.

3. demimonde (“half world”): fringe group or subculture, or prostitutes as a class—obsolete in French, though une demi-mondaine refers to a prostitute (in English, demimondaine is synonymous with “kept woman”)

4. double entendre (“double to hear”): a comment that can have a second, often provocative, connotation—faulty grammar in French, which uses à double sens (“double sense”)

5. en masse (“in a masse”): all together—in French, refers to a physical grouping, so when using that language, one would not refer to a chorus of voices as being en masse

6. encore (“again”): additional songs played after the scheduled end of a concert, or a call for such an extended performance—in French, “Une autre! (“Another!”)

7. en suite (“as a set”): usually refers to a bedroom and bathroom connected to each other—not used as such in French

8. esprit de l’escalier (“wit of the stairs”): a witty comment one thinks of only after the opportunity to share it has passed (when one is departing a social occasion)—nearly obsolete in French

9. in lieu (“in place of”): instead of—a partial translation; in French, au lieu

10. legerdemain (“light of hand”): deception in stage magic—not used in French

11. marquee (“awning”): sign above a venue announcing the featured entertainment—not used in French

12. passé (“past,” “passed,” or “faded”): unfashionable—in French, passé de mode (“way of the past”)

13. piéce de resistance (“a piece that resists”): the best, or the main dish or main item—in French, plat de résistance (“dish that resists”)

14. rouge (“red”): blusher, or red makeup—in French, fard à joues (though lipstick of any color is rouge à lèvres)

15. venue (“arrival”)—location—not used as such in French

By Mark Nichol

Source: dailywritingtips

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Fiction Writing Exercises for Stimulating Creativity

Do you ever feel like the story you’re writing is bland? Like it needs to be spiced up? Or maybe you want to write a story but you’re fresh out of ideas.

Fiction writing exercises are perfect for toning your storytelling muscles. They can also provide you with a wealth of ideas for writing projects.

Today’s fiction writing exercises are designed to stimulate creativity and get you thinking about storytelling from fresh angles.

Stimulate Your Creativity with These Fiction Writing Exercises

Below, you’ll find a list of simple scenarios. Each one could form the basis for a story. Your job is to come up with three story premises for each scenario. Be creative and try to avoid the most obvious premises.

Let’s use the following scenario as an example:

While hiking alone in the woods, a character comes face to face with a bear.

The obvious premise might show the hiker getting attacked by the bear or dropping and rolling to avoid getting attacked by the bear, but how could you put an unexpected twist on this scenario? Maybe the bear and the hiker strike up a conversation (fantasy or children’s literature). Maybe the bear is sick and weak, so the hiker decides to nurse it back to health. Maybe the bear isn’t a bear at all. Could it be someone in a bear suit?


For each scenario below, come up with three different premises that could be used to build a story. Try to stretch your story premises across a range of genres, including literary fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, horror, romance, historical, humor, satire, children’s, and young adult. And if you want to come up with more than three premises, go for it!


  • A cruise ship gets caught in a storm, veers off course, and then sinks far from the mainland, but many of the passengers survive and make it to a deserted island.
  • A man and a woman are sitting across from each other at a small table in a dimly lit restaurant.
  • A family watches as their cat gives birth to a litter of nine kittens.
  • Moments after arriving home from a long and difficult day at work, a character is shocked when the police show up with an arrest warrant.
  • In a mid-sized town, somebody is dressing in disguise and fighting crime — a real-life superhero or a masked vigilante?

Feel free to change these scenarios or mix them up. Maybe instead of a cat having kittens, the family’s dog is having puppies. Maybe the character who is served with an arrest warrant is either the man or woman who was dining in the dimly lit restaurant.

If you try any of these fiction writing exercises, come back and tell us how they worked for you.

Source: writingforward

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing


The Obsolete Narrative Devices Support Group

Lights come up slowly to full fluorescence on a room, drab and industrial in décor, one wall cracked in several places. Empty chairs are arranged in an uneven circle: after a moment, figures drift in and take their seats. Last to arrive is the THERAPIST, clad head to toe in black, carrying a small clipboard and sporting the sort of smile which makes small children fear what’s good for them.

THERAPIST: Hello everybody! I’d like to start today’s session with—

A thin, nervous figure puts up his hand, clearing his throat repeatedly.

OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE: Excuse me? Please? Begging your pardon?

THERAPIST: [sighing] Yes, Opening Title Sequence?

OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE: [clearing throat weakly once again] It’s just that I usually start the meeting—

THERAPIST: Yes, yes, I know. But you must understand: it’s not actually helping you, to keep doing this. As I’ve said before, you really need to find another way, if you’re going to become relevant again, yeah?

OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE: Next week. I’ll do something different next week.

THERAPIST: All right. Go on, then. But this is the last time, mind. Technically, you shouldn’t even be here. This is a support group for literary narrative devices, not TV.

OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE: [singing ecstatically to sudden cheesy music] Duh-doo-doo-doo-doo / bum-de-dum / be-bop-a-loo-la / it’s the narrative device support group show / dum-de-dum-dum-dum / we’ll tell you what you gotta know / yeah!

OMNISCIENT 3RD PERSON NARRATOR: And there’s telling, not showing, if ever I heard it.

THERAPIST: Thank you, Omniscient 3rd Person Narrator. Might I remind you this is a safe space: we do not comment on our fellow members, no matter how smart we think we are.



EPILOGUE FOR LOOSE ENDS: Why does she always get to go first?


THERAPIST: Now, now. Be nice.

EPILOGUE FOR LOOSE ENDS: It’s not even like she’s even fully obsolete! People still use backward-looking prologues all the time!

PROLOGUE FROM THE FUTURE: Maybe that’s because I’m not super lazy and unimaginative, unlike some devices I could mention?

OMNISCIENT 3RD PERSON NARRATOR: Oh, for Christ’s sake. Who writes this stuff?

THERAPIST: Enough! Prologue From The Future, please continue.

PROLOGUE FROM THE FUTURE: So what I did was, I decided to step into the shoes of an Unreliable Narrator…

Everyone groans.

CONTINUOUS PAST TENSE: I was wondering who was going to hop on the Unreliable Narrator bandwagon this week.

OMNISCIENT 3RD PERSON NARRATOR: They may be flavour of the month, but it’ll never last.

CONTINUOUS PAST TENSE: I was thinking that myself.

PROLOGUE FROM THE FUTURE: [clears throat before reading loudly and smugly] ‘If only I’d told the truth about the man with the gun, Ermintrude would not have died. But that is assuming that the truth is more than just one version of events, and my part in this is anything but a fiction…’

Discontented murmurs break out amongst the rest of the group.

EPILOGUE FOR LOOSE ENDS: But that’s not fair! She’s still being a prologue from the future!

EPISTOLARY NOVEL: Hello! I hope you know she’s just taking liberties with the exercise and using it to bolster her own profile! Sincerely!

THERAPIST: [holding up one hand] Yes, but you can’t deny that she’s also being unreliable, right?

Further discontented murmurs ripple through the room, reluctantly acknowledging this to be true.

THERAPIST: What can we learn from this? Perhaps that in order to succeed, we must build on our own unique talents, yes? Bearing in mind that we are here to cope with changes in literary fashions, with a view to becoming relevant again?

Grudging assent sounds through the group.

THERAPIST: For instance, let’s go to you, Epistolary Novel. Whose shoes did you step into this week?

EPISTOLARY NOVEL: Dear me. Well, this week, I’m going to be…

Suddenly, GRATUITOUS SUSPENSE leaps up from his seat and starts screaming and flicking the lights on and off.

THERAPIST: Gratuitous Suspense, sit DOWN!

EPISTOLARY NOVEL: …a text message!

CONTINUOUS PAST TENSE: [snorting with derision] Like nobody saw THAT coming.

EPISTOLARY NOVEL: But that’s not all! I have a whole section from a Facebook comment thread too!

EPILOGUE FOR LOOSE ENDS: I thought I’d try being a red herring. Do I get extra credit?

Suddenly a crash sounds: the room shakes and heaves, and the entire group is showered in dust.

THERAPIST: Oh my God! The wall!

OMNISCIENT 3RD PERSON NARRATOR: What’s the problem? Three of them look fine.

THERAPIST: But the one behind you has fallen to pieces! Who broke the fourth wall?

ONE-LINER BOB stands, and looks directly at you. A drumroll sounds, and he says…

ONE-LINER BOB: Badum-tish!

Source: tarasparlingwrites

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Start a Novel Right: 5 Great Tips

It’s said that in life, there are two types of people: those who look at the glass as half empty, and those who see it as half full. But for those of us who’ve set the goal of starting a novel, I think it really comes down to how we view the blank page: those of us who find it exciting—full of possibility, hope, even adventure—and those who see it as intimidating—capable of inducing guilt, anxiety, even dread.

If we’re being honest, we can probably all admit to having shifted between the two camps from time to time. It’s just too easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task.

But what better time to remedy that than at the beginning of a new year, a sort of metaphorical blank page itself? That’s where the January 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine comes in Whether you’ve been looking for the best advice on how to start a novel, trying to find ways to rejuvenate a stalled draft, or looking to take your revision across the finish line, this issue is designed to strip away any intimidation until only the excitement of the blank page remains.

It was such a pure pleasure to put together this issue that I wanted to share some of my favorite tips from its pages here.

5 Great Tips for Starting a Novel Right

1. When planning your story’s structure, start with this no-fail method: Create a Doorway of No Return for your protagonist before the 1/5 mark of your book. Everything leading up to that doorway should, well, lead up to that doorway. Look at your own novel-in-progress:

  • Have you given us a character with following?
  • Have you created a disturbance for that character in the opening pages?
  • Have you established the stakes (the higher the better) for the story?
  • Have you created a scene that will force the character into the conflict/confrontation central to the plot?
  • Is that scene strong enough—to the point that your character cannot resist walking through that doorway (or has no choice but to do so)?

2. At the beginning of your story, include minimal backstory. In her article “Weaving a Seamless Backstory,” novelist Karen Dionne offers this light bulb moment of insight:

Including backstory in the opening pages is the same as saying to the reader, ‘Wait a minute—hold on. Before I tell you the story, first there’s something about these characters and this situation that you need to know.’

In actuality, there’s very little readers need to know about our characters’ history and motivations that they won’t learn over the course of the book. Interrupting our story to tell the reader about something that happened *before* it began works against the very thing we’re trying so hard to accomplish: engaging the readers and sweeping them up into the world of our novel.

I love showing authors how they’re unwittingly sabotaging their stories up front and then watching their light bulbs go off, because the problem has such an easy fix: All they have to do is isolate the instances of unnecessary backstory, and take them out.

3. To deepen your descriptions, add character-defining sensory details. For example:

No: She was wearing Chanel No. 5.

Yes: She was wearing Chanel No. 5 like in the old days, he noticed—that sophisticated, mind-coat-and-diamonds fragrance that always quickened his pulse.

4. Make secondary characters significant. In her excellent feature article in the latest Writer’s Digest, longtime fiction editor Lisa Rector suggests brainstorming what meaningful thing a minor character might do or say that could impact the outcome of your story. Then, make sure at least one such significant moment between that character and your protagonist occurs early in your story (ideally with others following throughout the narrative). “Characters that are inactive in the opening scenes tend to remain so,” she explains. “In general it’s far more effective to have fewer characters do more.

5. Instead of “write what you know,” try writing what you feel. In an exclusive interview with WD, bestselling Jack Reacher creator Lee Child explains:

The worst [writing advice] is probably Write what you know. Especially in this market. In the thriller genre, for instance, nobody knows anything that’s worth putting in. There are three people in the world who have actually lived this stuff. And so it’s not about what you know. [Write] what you feel is really excellent advice. Because if you substitute Write what you feel, then you can expand that into—if you’re a parent, for instance, especially if you’re a mother, I bet you’ve had an episode where for five seconds you lost your kid at the mall. You turn around, your kid is suddenly not there, and for five seconds your heart is in your mouth and you turn the other way, and there he is. So you’ve gotta remember the feel of those five seconds—that utter panic and disorientation. And then you blow that up: It’s not five seconds, it’s five days—your kid has been kidnapped, your kid is being held by a monster. You use what you feel and expand it, right up as far as you can, and that way you get a sort of authenticity.

Source: writersdigest

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing