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Author Up Close Series: Learning From Successful Authors

Though you may not know it by the prevalence of clickbait headlines sounding the death knell about author careers, successful authors are out there. Lots of them. And I’m not just talking about the ones who top the bestseller lists week after week. I’m talking about the authors whose names you may have never heard, who are quietly writing and earning income from their books. And while there is no formula for becoming a successful author, or even a consensus about what defines “success,” there is much that can be learned from studying authors who are already where we hope to be one day. I’m fortunate to know several of these authors. I’ve had the benefit of their wisdom and expertise for years and wanted to share some of that wisdom with you. So this year, in my posts for Writ Read More

Sunday Writing Tip: Make Sure Your Scene Endings Hook Your Readers

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript. This week, check how you end each scene and/or chapter and make sure you’re giving readers a reason to turn the page. A scene break or chapter ending is a natural place for readers to put down a book, and sometimes we write it that way without considering the downsides. Characters go to sleep, they leave for a journey, they settle in to wait—they at in ways that say “pause the story here” in some way. But when we end a scene with something tha Read More

Smitten Kitchen Shows You 100 Ways to Promote Recipes

One of the things food writers struggle with most is how to promote recipes in a way that sounds authentic and not too braggy. You know your recipe is “the best,” but you can’t keep saying that for every one you write. So what can you do to improve your blog posts, recipe headnotes, and social media blurbs? First, I went back to my most visited post: 100 Verbs for Recipes, from Julia Child. Who else could I research, I wondered, who would give me a similar list of fabulous terms? I found inspiration on Smitten Kitchen’s Instagram feed. Deb Perelman is a master of promoting her recipes in a way that sounds effortless, fun, and full of personality. Incredibly, there was no repetition of her phrases in the 100+ pitches I reviewed. I could probably give you 200 pitches. But I thi Read More

How do they do it? The Literary Masters of Suspense and Their Secrets

How do they do it? The Literary Masters of Suspense As a mid-career novelist, I am attempting to forge fiction that is a hybrid of the literary and mystery and suspense genres.  And I have my role models, novelists whose work while suspenseful, also showcase in-depth characterization as well as consistently elegant and thought-provoking sentences that rival anything published in the “literary genre.” One preeminent writer of this sort of fiction is the late Iris Murdoch, a Booker Prize-winning novelist as well as a professor of philosophy at Oxford, whose deeply thoughtful novels are often characterized by gruesome acts of violence and torture (both physical and psychological) and delicately wound in a golden thread of suspense. Two of her books, each of which involves small-town lif Read More

WITS Throwdown: Putting the “Social” in Social Media

The real title of this post is How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time. That's a heavy promise, right? Social media does like to suck up valuable family time, writing time, down time. If you think about it as a big vaccuum that gives nothing back, you WILL be resistant to this whole "online social thing." This post is about how pick your online locations carefully and develop habits that help fit social media into the life you actually have. It's about how to make connections during the time you choose to spend online. And of course, I share what I do to keep my love alive. We've had two posts in this throwdown already. One from Fae, who pretty much detests it. One from Julie, who has found the one place in social media that doesn't give her Read More

How Writing and Submitting Short Stories Improved My Novel

If you’re writing a novel and are nowhere near the end, why spend time on short stories? Doesn’t that distraction delay getting to the end of the current draft, a moment that always feels months away? I thought so once. One year, I wouldn’t let myself touch any other project until I’d worked on my novel every day. This lasted five months until I revisited “The End.” Again. Why should a novel writer devote precious writing time to short stories? After five novel drafts, two years of submitting shorter fiction, and seven publications, here are my reasons. Do Something With All Those Ideas Not every idea deserves a novel. And there’s something cathartic about expressing an idea soon after inspiration strikes. I’m not holding my breath and suffocating the idea because I have t Read More

4 Ways to Make Your Writing Easier

  Why Do We Say that Writing is Hard?   I don’t think writing is hard – wooden tables are, gemstones are, and sometimes my head is, but writing? No. It’s as simple and complex as having an idea, putting words together, adding the thoughts or feelings, linking to the research, and using keywords for SEO.     1. The Idea is the Starting Point   If you’re writing a blog about a particular subject, you’ve always got an idea. Can you present it from a different perspective? Are you an expert on the topic? Do you have credibility when it comes to that subject? If you’ve answered, “Yes”, then maybe you’re just bored with the idea. That happens. How many times can I write, “Recovery works” to try and encourage someone struggling with their addictions? So far, I Read More

The Underworld and How to Use it in Your Story

The underworld is perhaps the most important motif in mythology and literature – tied up with ideas about life, the afterlife, belief, culture, storytelling, and the psyche, it’s the setting of humanity’s reckoning with the ephemeral nature of mortality. As writers, we can use the motif of the underworld in two aspects: The underworld as world of adventure The underworld as world of the dead Why write the underworld? Create an internal or external site for the change your character undergoes, and the wisdom they extract from their experiences in the story. Explore your character’s unconscious, and how the archetypes of the collective unconscious manifest in their life. Explore your character’s reaction to the unknown in themselves or in the world. Explore your character Read More

19 inspirational words to define 2019

At the beginning of this year, we asked you to think of just ONE word to define or sum up your year ahead. No wrong answers – simply one word that captured what you wanted to achieve or tapped into something that spoke to you. Well, turns out it was a popular task! HUNDREDS of replies flooded in – thank you so much, we read them all and feel motivated for you. While we cannot share absolutely all of them, we thought we’d pull out some of the most popular words chosen, along with a few other favourites that stood out. We hope they motivate and inspire YOUR year ahead. FOCUS This was one of the most popular words that we received. Among the responses, Margaret C wanted to live 2019 “in a focused way so as to own my life and enjoy the moment’s pleasures”, while Tara D was far mo Read More

Should You Keep Writing Even if It’s Not Fun Any More?

I mentioned in the Aliventures newsletter a couple of weeks ago that I finished NaNo on 23,000 words: not all that close to the 50,000 words I’d been aiming for! So what happened? Several things: I had a bad cold, my kids were poorly, and we had a few unexpected little things go wrong. Some good stuff happened, too: I started volunteering one morning a week at my daughter’s school, and I picked up some more freelancing work. All of this meant for less novel-writing time. But one key thing that happened, perhaps more important than all the practical difficulties, was that I just wasn’t enjoying writing my novel. Aiming for 50,000 words in a month was, frankly, unrealistic – and it was stressing me out! On Sunday 11th November, for instance, I’d spent the day looking after Read More

Resources For Writers

I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page for all of your writing needs. All of these are tools that I use and recommend. They help me work more efficiently and share my writing with the world. This page will evolve over time as I discover new resources so I’d recommend bookmarking it! Please Note: Several of the links below are affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you buy the item at no extra cost to you. These small sales are how I keep the site up and running. Thanks for your support! Blog Hosting Every writer should have a blog. It’s one of the best ways to share your writing with a wider audience. Read my how-to guide on setting up a blog here. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. You can set up a free blog at WordPress Read More

100 Story Ideas

Here are 100 story ideas you can steal right now. And if that’s not enough, generate your own with the Idea Engine, or peruse these lists of scene ideas, flash fiction prompts, and writing prompts. Story Ideas Write a story about… A character with an addiction who discovers that they’re someone else’s addiction. A historical character who travels to the present day and causes chaos when they steal back something that originally belonged to them. An alien species that lands on earth but is only detectable through literature. A world where every other person is born with wings and the history of how this came about. A magical object that teleports into the hand of anyone who thinks about it, and the difficulties this causes for its owner. A character who’s seeking justice Read More

A Hook that Breaks the Rules

It’s a given in most writing circles that you should never open your novel with a scene in which little happens, especially if that scene involves a flashback.  This is normally good advice, but this morning’s passage is an example of when good advice should be ignored. As always, it’s hard to be certain without reading the entire manuscript, but given that Tess is thinking about going back in time and changing history for the sake of her friend, it’s safe to guess this is what the story is about.  Decisions that momentous don’t drive subplots.  So even though the only action in this passage is that Tess lies in bed with her dog against her legs, has a flashback, and makes a decision, that decision is where the story starts. This doesn’t mean the passage couldn’t be more Read More

Showing Character Emotions Using the Leaf Technique

Often we assume that to show a character’s emotion we have to focus on the character. We write that her fists are clenched, that he was stunned speechless by her beauty. Or we describe the feeling itself: how anger whirled inside her, looking for an outlet, how he felt a powerful attraction unfurling in his chest. These are valid techniques, but they’re straightforward, front-door options, and too often they tend toward cliché or generic. If you have five descriptions of anger in your story and they are more or less interchangeable, you’re missing five unique emotional opportunities. You can take advantage of those opportunities with a method I call the leaf technique: Show your character’s feelings by writing their thoughts about an object or event that is seemingly unrelated. Read More

Writing a Mystery: Do Your Research Right

When writing procedural fiction, research is the hot, molten core that determines how good your story is going to be. This is especially true when it comes to writing a mystery, where your story depends on thrilling twists, on-point procedure, and accurate finer points, ranging from how a firearm should act to what happens to a human body after death. It takes a lot of research to get procedural fiction right, but it doesn’t have to be a complete mystery. Here’s how to approach intensive research for your mystery fiction novel or short story by jumping right into the deep end. Learning Procedure Successful mystery fiction relies on understanding proper and legal police procedure. If a real detective can read your novel and not find a single error in procedure, you’ve done your job w Read More

Want to Improve Your Writing? Change Your Thinking

A mental shift in how we think about our writing and process can change our perspective, and thus, help us see the things we’ve been missing. A long time ago, when I was still fairly new to writing, I had my mind blown by a simple “change of perspective” in how I looked at writing. It was a light-bub moment that finally made me understand something I’d been struggling with at that time—point of view. In the years that followed, I’ve had plenty moments where changing how I viewed or thought about something writing-related helped me understand it, or use it better. As I’ve spoken with other writers, I’ve seen the same lights go on in their eyes as they looked at something they’d struggled with and finally saw things click into place. There’s a reason there is so much wr Read More

How to Restore Your Love of Writing

When the money doesn’t come flowing in or when the market ignores your book, it’s easy to lose the joy in writing. Fortunately, you can get it back. What Rewards are Writers Seeking? In almost everything we do, there are two types of rewards involved: Extrinsic rewards are those we get from the outside world, including money, recognition, prizes, and praise. Intrinsic rewards are those we get from inside ourselves, including a sense of accomplishment, personal satisfaction, mastery of a craft or skill, or simply the pleasure of pursuing something we enjoy. Though both methods can be effective when you’re pursuing a goal, it depends on what kind of goal it is. Some research has suggested that extrinsic rewards—particularly money—may in some cases be detrimental to creative g Read More

Why The More Successful Writers Fail The Most

Successful Writers Sometimes, we meet/discover a writer who is super successful.  We think they must have been super lucky, too. Right place, right time and all that. If only we were so lucky! But what if I told you they’re super successful BECAUSE they failed … A LOT. Seems like an oxymoron, right? Except it isn’t. Many amazing writers are ‘successful failures’. The above quote is from J K Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech, The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. Being as successful as she is, it’s hard to think of her as a writer who failed. But she did and so have countless other success stories.   Failure Is Not Fatal Maya Angelou is another amazing writer. She came up against huge obstacles in her life, yet she saw the value of failure Read More

All About Productivity

Productivity is a key concern of Bang2writers. It’s not difficult to see why: procrastination is a huge problem for writers. It’s easy to get stuck in a non-productive rut. We are daydreamers after all! So, if you’re a hobby writer wanting to turn pro, or a pro wanting to get more done, you need to learn how to boost your productivity. Luckily, we at B2W Headquarters have put together this handy round-up to help you make the most of your writing time. 1) 11 Habits That Can Transform Your Productivity Create good habits. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?? Yet it’s something many creatives struggle with. Working for yourself, sometimes with little to zero pay, can damage productivity and good habits. HERE are some tips to help stay on track. 2) The Weird and Wonderful Habits of 20 Famous Read More

What it Feels Like When Your Writing is Rejected – and How to Bounce Back

One reader asked me: “I’d like to know what it’s like to get rejected by a publisher or several (if that’s ever happened to you) and how you bounce back from it.” It has indeed happened to me – as you can see from the photo above! Those are all the rejection letters I received in 2007 – 2008, for a fantasy novel that I was shipping around to agents/publishers, and for short stories that I was sending to magazines. I’ve had plenty of rejections since then, too: competition entries that didn’t even get placed, guest posts pitches that were turned down, reviews of my novels that were less than stellar. Rejection is simply part of the business of writing. Of course, it would be great if everything you wrote was loved and snapped up by the first editor who saw it. But agents Read More