Tag Archives: writing tips

Poetry Prompts for Ranting and Raving

It’s easy to think of poetry as soft, flowery, and convoluted. It’s the stuff of Shakespeare, greeting cards, and children’s books. It’s precious, sweet, and erudite.

But some of the most exciting modern poetry defies all those stereotypes, and you need look no further than the slam poetry and spoken word communities to see how poetry can be infused with rage, passion, and humor.

These poets have mastered the art of ranting and raving with passion via performance poetry. It’s no wonder that during live recordings of some of their most impassioned poems, the crowd can be heard hooting and hollering.

Today’s poetry prompts encourage you to write a poem that unleashes your passion.

Poetry Prompts

You can use these poetry prompts to write any kind of poem you want. But for some reason, poems that rant and rave work exceptionally well in performance poetry. These pieces have luster on the page, but they explode when read aloud, so I recommend working on a poem that is meant to be performed. There is a list of links to some excellent recordings of performance poetry at the end of this post.

How to use these poetry prompts:

Choose one of the lists below and write a poem using all of the words in the list. You can also write a poem mixing and matching words from these lists or using all of the words from all of the lists.

Social Consciousness Personal Affronts Road Rage & Pet Peeves
humanity
corruption
eager
hunger
fair
power
greed
redemption
freedom
insult
betrayal
violated
lost
rude
bully
robbed
forgotten
liar
curse
line
impatience
thoughtless
chatter
hurry
spam
stop
gesture

Explore Performance Poetry

Need some ideas to help you get started with these poetry prompts? Below are links to a few examples of performed poems that are beautifully executed — well written and brilliantly performed. Once you follow the link, you’ll need to click the pod icon to listen to the performances.

WARNING: some of these poems may contain offensive language. But they show the breadth of subject matter that a performance poem can tackle. Some are full of anger, others are imbibed with grace, and a couple are sprinkled with humor. Enjoy!

All these poems and many more can be found on IndieFeed Performance Poetry, one of my favorite podcasts that is unfortunately no longer active; but the archives remain online for all to enjoy. I highly recommend checking it out (you can also access it via iTunes).

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

3 Types of Conflict and Why You Need to Use Them

Conflict is necessary for all stories. It doesn’t matter what kind of story it is — novel, short story, mystery, romance, thriller, children’s, adult — it will always need conflict. In order to keep the plot interesting and exciting, some type of conflict must be there. It gives your characters obstacles they have to overcome before they can reach their goals.

But how do you create conflict for your characters?

3 Types of Conflict

Conflict can come in innumerable shapes and sizes, but they can ultimately be broken down into one of three categories. Are you using these three types of conflict in your stories?

1. Conflict between your characters

Characters can argue, disagree, disobey the others’ wishes, keep secrets from each other, betray each other, and do many other things that would cause two or more people to butt heads. The most common kind of conflict between characters is when the protagonist and their enemy end up in the same room together.

That’s not to say friends and family can’t fight, though. In fact, conflict between allies can make a difficult situation a thousand times more interesting.

2. Conflict between your characters and the outside world

When events outside of your characters’ control occur — unexpected illness, a sudden loss of money, a death in the family, an injury, global events, etc. — characters are forced to react. Whether they deal with their situation in a poor or healthy way is up to you, the writer, but nevertheless, it reveals a truth about your characters and feeds the fire of your plot.

3. Conflict between your characters and themselves

This is quite possibly my favorite type of conflict, mostly because it can be the most frustrating for your characters. When there are problems your characters have no power over, they can place their anger on an outside person or object. But when the problems your characters face come from themselves, they can only turn their anger inward.

This can be difficult to write, but if it is portrayed well, it is extremely rewarding.

Internal conflict can result from your characters losing faith in their religion, deciding whether or not to break or bend the rules for “the greater good,” wrestling with addiction, doing what’s right versus doing what’s easy, feeling out of control, and more.

Experiment With All Three Types

Stories can have any one of these possible types of conflict, or they can have all of them. What matters most is that there is plenty of it and that it is carried out in the most interesting way possible.

Avoid clichés, play with characters’ relationships with each other, put your characters in the most difficult situations possible, and think about how they will handle these obstacles in a way that is true to their personalities.

What’s your favorite type of conflict? Let us know in the comments.

By The Magic Violinist
Source : thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Writing Prompts: 7 Inspirational Ideas to Spark Your Creative Writing

7 Creative Writing Prompts to Spark a New Story

While the event doesn’t officially start until Monday, you may be wondering what to write about each day. Here are seven inspirational ideas to fuel your creativity as you tackle each 1,000 words of the challenge! What kinds of stories will these writing prompts lead you to tell?

1. Tell a “True” Story

The truth is, indeed, often stranger than fiction. Changing names and events as necessary, tell a true story from your own life and childhood about characters other than yourself. As an example, I’m currently workshopping a story from my hometown where a disgruntled employee blew up a gas station.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What crazy character from your own life is empathetic, at least in his/her goals or desires?
  • What happened before-and-after a memorable childhood event? How can I explore the causes and effects that I didn’t witness?

2. “Travel” to an Extreme

With a quick Wikipedia and Google Map search, you can “visit” the South Pole, Mt. Everest, the mouth of a volcano — darned near anywhere. Set a fifteen-minute timer (so you don’t get too distracted) and do some super quick research, and then start writing!

  • Who visits this place regularly as an employee or family member? For whom is this “normal?”
  • What important object or goal would one pursue here? Why?
  • What unlikely or surprising reason might someone travel to this location? Explore that possibility!

3. Explore an Abandoned Location

The world is filled with once-glorious places that have since been abandoned. These incredible locations easily inspire the imagination, and website Bored Panda shares dozens of hi-resolution shots to fuel your pen!

  • What did ordinary life look like in these places before the end came?
  • What did that fateful day bring when everyone had to, or chose to, leave?
  • What happens to when a team of explorers go there today?

4. Change a Law of Physics

Science fiction and fantasy stories begin with one simple idea: The laws of physics aren’t actually laws.

Inspire yourself by asking, what if gravity, light, chaos, color, or practically anything related to a law of the world, was different? Let your story explore the possibilities!

  • Does everyone experience this, or just one person? Is that your hero?
  • What goals would someone want in this different world?

5. The Past, but From a New Point of View

History is usually agreed upon by most of its students. But what about the men and women who lived these events? What about the people who lost, died, or were pushed to the side, even if they were in the moral right?

Give “historical fiction” a twist of your own with this fun spark to your inspiration!

  • Were any of history’s villains empathetic? Whose story would be fun to tell?
  • Who was a witness to a famous historical event, and how was his/her life changed by that event?
  • What common, everyday (boring) goals were our great historical ancestors pursuing that might be surprising?

6. Dialogue Piece

Set yourself comfortably in a busy place with lots of conversation, like a coffee shop, restaurant, or waiting room. Listen specifically for a conversation with some conflict in it. Without being conspicuous, take over the conversation with your pen and explore where it goes and why.

  • Why do people speak with certain speech patterns or habits?
  • What motivates people to curse or use certain terms of endearment?
  • What aren’t your characters talking about, but avoiding or disguising?

NOTE: This is a great starter for folks with “writer’s block.” Don’t let the pressure to be “good enough” stop you from creating! Just have fun and try new things!

7. “What if I Lost It All?”

With this prompt, we force a protagonist to take a risk and lose everything. Then, we have to answer, “what then?”

Take a character from a work-in-progress, or quickly dream one up by giving him/her a goal and a problem. Then, immediately describe that character making a choice to pursue his/her goal, and failing.

  • What physical consequences would arise, and how would your protagonist deal with them?
  • What new goal would the protagonist find, and how would he/she begin pursuing it?
  • What other characters might appear in this moment of total loss?

Get Inspired!

There are so many other ways to get inspired, and these seven ideas barely scratch the surface.

So don’t give up on your commitment to the 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge! No matter what, dig deep and find something fun to explore and write about.

You’re worth it. Your passion to write is worth it. And to give that passion the writing habit it deserves, you need to complete the 7 Day Creative Writing Challenge like a champ.

Because that’s what this is all about: Building a writing habit.

What inspirational idea helps you write something new? Let us know in the comments! 

By David Safford

Source : thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

How to Construe and Convey Tone in Poetry

In literature, tone is the mood, attitude, or emotional sensibility of a written work. In poetry, tone expresses the narrator’s disposition toward the poem’s subject, the reader, or the narrative itself.

We might describe a poem’s tone as irreverent, relaxed, sarcastic, solemn, jubilant, or desperate. Tone can be any emotion or state of mind, and a single poem can include a combination of tones.

When we’re speaking, our tone is expressed through inflection. We use pitch and stress to communicate the attitude behind the words we’re saying. If I say, “Get out of here!” the tone of my voice will let you know whether I’m literally telling you to leave the room or whether I’m figuratively saying, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In writing, we must approach tone with care, because it is often and easily misinterpreted. For example, sarcasm is commonly misread in text messaging and on social media. Someone types a sarcastic statement in jest, but the recipient takes it literally and may get offended or confused. Some people mark sarcastic remarks with to ensure clarity for this reason.

If communicating tone is so difficult, how can we interpret and communicate it effectively in poetry?

Tone in Poetry

Tone is conveyed through every aspect of a poem: imagery, connotation, even rhythm.

Consider two poems about death. One poem might use an image of a sunset while another uses dried flowers. The image of a sunset is warm, restful, even relaxing. But the dried flowers are brittle and lifeless. The image that the poet chooses will determine whether the poem’s tone is comforting or despairing.

Connotation is similarly crucial in poetry. Think about the difference between the word bum and the word pauper. Although these two words might be used to describe the same person or situation, they have strikingly different connotations. In a poem about poverty, the word choice will tint the meaning and reveal the poem’s attitude about the poor.

A poem’s rhythm can also contribute to its tone. As mentioned, when we speak, our inflections help listeners determine the attitude behind the words we’re saying. Rhythm is used similarly in poetry to affect tone. Short snappy lines could make a poem feel frantic or excited. Lengthy lines with a lot of long vowels can give a poem a relaxed or haughty tone.

These are just a few examples of elements that convey tone in poetry. Can you identify any other literary devices that are common in poetry and explain how they might be used to convey tone?

Studying Tone in Poetry

Consider the confident, sassy attitude of Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” contrasted with the sorrowful yet playful tone of “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E.E. Cummings. Or contrast the tone of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” with the tone of Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” How do these poems differ in tone? How did the poets convey tone? And how does the tone of each poem affect the reader?

Select two poems from the literary canon and for each one, choose one to three words that describe its tone. Then look for the elements within each poem that convey its tone (metaphor, imagery, etc.) and note those as well, pulling lines, phrases, and words from the poem to support your interpretation. Finally, write a short essay of about one page comparing and contrasting the tones of the two poems and explaining how each poem communicates its tone.

How Do You Tone?

When you review your work, do you check for tone? Have you ever made revisions because the language in a poem wasn’t conveying the right tone? Share your thoughts on tone in poetry by leaving a comment, and keep writing poems!

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Story is Conflict

If a story were a bus, conflict would be the driver.

Conflict steers a story, moves it forward, reverses it, stops it in its tracks, and slows or accelerates the pacing.

More importantly, conflict keeps readers glued to the page. Readers want to see how the characters will deal with conflict. Will they find solutions to their problems? Overcome their challenges? Resolve their issues?

Stories contain conflicts large and small, from an impending threat that would wipe out life on planet Earth to minor scuffles in which characters can’t agree on what to have for dinner. When well crafted and worked deftly into the plot, any kind of conflict can be interesting. 

Conflict is Difficult

Conflict makes life difficult for the characters, providing obstacles for them to overcome and challenges they must face head-on. It’s obvious that conflict is at the heart of any plot: the hero must overcome the antagonist or the central story problem. But the core conflict often looms over the many smaller conflicts that are peppered throughout a story, obscuring them.

Let’s look at Star Wars: A New Hope as an example (spoiler warning!). The story is set amidst an epic conflict between a rebellion and an authoritarian regime. The story’s hero, Luke Skywalker, finds himself caught up in this conflict as he sets forth on a journey to become a Jedi knight. Conflict abounds in the story: Luke’s uncle won’t let him go to the pilot academy; the new droid runs away and Luke must find it; the sand people attack Luke; his farm is raided by Stormtroopers who kill his aunt and uncle; Luke gets assaulted by strangers in the cantina; he embarks on a friction-riddled relationship with the smuggler Han Solo. And those are just a few examples of conflict from the first act. Conflicts large and small thwart Luke and his companions along every step of their journey all the way through to the end of their story.

Some conflicts are more challenging than others, but this constant onslaught of conflict makes the characters’ path through the story’s events challenging — and interesting. Some conflicts result in failure; others lead to success. Ultimately, the payoff is worth it: Luke begins learning the ways of the Force, rescues the princess, and joins the rebellion to help them destroy the Death Star. Victory is sweet.

Conflict is Everywhere

The conflicts in Star Wars range from interpersonal (friction between Luke and Han Solo) to physical (the scuffle with patrons in the cantina) to internal (Luke faces an internal struggle in which he must choose between joining the rebellion or remaining on his uncle’s farm) and environmental (Luke and his companions get trapped in trash compactor on the Death Star).

When looking for more conflict to bring into our stories, we need look no further than the plot, characters, and setting that we have established.

  • The plot, or events in the story, provide conflict by creating challenging situations for the characters.
  • Characters are perhaps one of the richest sources of conflict. From love triangles to minor arguments to major blowouts, relationships are fraught with friction.
  • The story world, or setting, often provides ample conflict — from major events, such as natural disasters, to minor inconveniences, like a leaky roof, a story’s setting can present plenty of conflict for the characters.

Conflict is Story

Every conflict heightens readers’ engagement, because in large part, we read to see how the characters will resolve the many conflicts that arise throughout a story — the big ones and the little ones.

That doesn’t mean you should stuff your story with conflict just for the sake of doing so. Each conflict should move the story toward its ultimate conclusion. You might find dozens of opportunities within a story where two characters might disagree with each other, and these conflicts could be interesting. But how do they contribute to the characterization, the plot, and the themes — or do they? Conflict is good for story, but it needs to have purpose or meaning. It needs to support the story.

How do you approach conflict in your stories? Do you focus on the central conflict and let other conflicts arise naturally? Do you find yourself going off on tangents based on minor conflicts? Share your experiences with story conflict by leaving a comment, and keep writing.

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Fiction Writing Exercises: Step Out of Your Shoes

I recently shared a writing exercise that encouraged you to get into a character’s head. Today’s exercise asks you to go a step further and explore characters and ideas that are your polar opposites.

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of being a writer is creating characters. It is an opportunity to step outside of your own reality and take on a completely different persona. Unless you’re an actor, an undercover agent, or just plain crazy, you don’t get many chances in life to do that.

Writing also lets us explore ideas and share our thoughts, opinions, and feelings on a wide range of topics. To Kill a Mockingbird addressed racism, The Da Vinci Code critically explored religious doctrine, and The Hunger Games examined troublesome aspects of our society, particularly glam culture, class systems, war, and violence among teenagers.

As a fiction writer, there will be times when you need to get into the head of a character who is your polar opposite. You’ll need to have a deep comprehension of ideologies that are not aligned with your own. If you can’t do that, then your story will lack believability.

Today’s fiction writing exercises give you practice in stepping out of your shoes so you can walk in someone else’s.

Realistic Characters

For characters to truly resonate with readers, they must be vibrant and stir the audience’s emotions. Readers need to become attached to the characters, feel sympathy, compassion, even love (or hate) for them. It’s not easy to fabricate people (or other beings) that don’t really exist, have never existed, yet make them seem real. But it can be done.

So how do writers achieve this great feat?

Much credence has been given to the old adage write what you know. Base a character on a friend or family member or yourself. But what fun is that? If you’re an accountant by day, do you really want to play an accountant in your fantasy world too? Probably not. And when you create a character, that’s pretty much what you’re doing, playing a role. You must get into the character’s mind, live the life, absorb the environment in which the character lives. You have to be your character, even if you have absolutely nothing in common with that character.

Fiction Writing Exercises

Each fiction writing exercise below encourages you to get into a mindset that opposes your own way of thinking or existing. Try one exercise or try them all — just make sure to have fun.

Exercise #1: Write a personal essay from the perspective of someone who is your polar opposite.

If you grew up in the big city, write as a country dweller. If you grew up on a farm or lived in a small town all your life, write about an army brat who was raised living in dozens of towns, going to different schools each year. Are you a stay-at-home, married parent? Write as a swinging single making it big in the big apple. If you’re a successful businessperson, write as a prison inmate who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.

You can also write as your ideological opposite. If you’re Buddhist, write from the perspective of a Christian. If you’re Christian, write from the perspective of an atheist. Are you a political junkie? Write from the viewpoint of the political party you oppose.

For the essay, focus on something you have never experienced or that you disagree with. If you are from the city and you’re writing about the country, write a descriptive essay about a farm setting. If you’re a liberal writing as a conservative, choose an issue and write an essay arguing for the conservative position on that issue.

The idea is to get outside of your comfort zone and explore a different way of life or mode of thinking than the one you know. You can then use this exercise to develop a character who is wildly different from you.

Excercise #2: Write a scene with two characters who are opposites.

Create two characters: one who is just like you (write yourself into the scene if you want) and one who is not like you at all. Write a scene that explores their differences. Here are some suggestions:

  • An old-fashioned rancher and a highly successful, modern urban businesswoman are seated next to each other on a plane.
  • A Democratic state politician and a Republican lobbyist get stuck in an elevator together.
  • Someone who is devoutly religious gets into a deep conversation with an atheist at a party.

There is only one rule here: Both characters must be sympathetic. In other words, you cannot make the character who is your opposite into any kind of villain or antagonist, and neither character will change his or her views or lifestyle by the end of the scene. Your goal is to gain understanding, not make a statement.

Exercise #3: Live your dreams and realize your nightmares.

A lot of people are terrified of public speaking. They may or may not have the desire to get up and talk to a crowd, but it doesn’t matter because their fear prevents them from doing so. And we all have dreams — some are goals that we can or will pursue, but other dreams are far-off fantasies that we know will never come to fruition.

For this exercise, you’ll write a short story or scene in first person. In the scene, you’ll do something that you’ve never done — something you may never do in reality but can certainly tackle in a piece of fiction.

Here are some examples:

  • Greatest fear: Either write a scene where you overcome your greatest fear and face the thing that terrifies you, or write as a character who does not have this fear and therefore faces it with ease. For example, if you have a fear of flying, write as an airplane pilot.
  • Dreams and goals: Have you ever wanted to travel somewhere but haven’t gotten around to it? Do you hope to someday find the love of your life or become a star in your career field? Are you working toward your dreams and goals? Write as a character who is living the life you hope to live someday.
  • Fantasy: Do you have a crush on a celebrity? Have you ever wished you possessed magical powers? Ever wondered what it would be like to live in the far-off future or the distant past? Write as a character living out your fantasies.

The idea here is to do something in writing that you’ve never done in real life. It can be something you might still someday achieve or it could be something impossible or unlikely.

Fiction Writing Exercises for Fun and Focus

Fiction writing exercises like these will help you when you’re writing about characters who are not like you in significant ways. These exercises will also expand the types of characters you feel comfortable bringing into your stories.

If any of these exercises stick and you get really into it, write several pages, or try doing the exercise again with different characters. You might unveil a new side of yourself that you didn’t know you had. You might find it completely uncomfortable and decide to go back to writing what you know, but at least you will have tried something new.

Remember, fiction writing exercises are supposed to be fun, but their purpose is to challenge you to try new things and think in new ways, so be sure to truly step out of your shoes and go beyond your comfort zone.

Feel free to post comments about your character. Who or what will you become? What shoes are you going to step into when you step out of your own?

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Is It Plural or Possessed? When to Use Apostrophe -S

It’s one of those grammar glitches that makes English teachers twitch, and it’s a perplexing punctuation problem.

Knowing when to use an apostrophe and when to use apostrophe -s can be tricky, but this grammar quickie provides all you need to know about plural versus possession when it comes to apostrophe -s.

Pluralization

You can have one or you can have many. Do you have a dog or do you have dogs? Generally speaking when you’re indicating more than one, you simply add an “s” to the word. That’s it, you’re done.

Possession

Is it plural or is it owned? If you’re showing ownership, then you’ll usually add apostrophe -s to the word. You have a dog. Your dog has a collar. That is the dog’s collar. If something (collar) belongs to something else (dog), it is given the apostrophe -s to show possession.

Multiplicity

But what if you have more than one dog and they each have their own collar? You have dogs. They have collars. Those are the dogs’ collars. When you’re dealing with more than one owner, the plural “s” is added and the apostrophe follows.

Apostrophe -S and the Word It

One of the most common spelling mistakes happens with the word it, especially when people try to indicate possession. Should you add the apostrophe -s or not? When does it take apostrophe -s and when does it just take an s?

The Exception to the Rule

One word in the English language stands out as an exception to the rule when it comes to plural versus possession. The word it is treated a bit differently. In fact, there is no plural possession at all because it is inherently singular (the plural form is another word altogether: they). That’s a relief. But what about when “it” owns something?

When you’re showing possession with the word it, you simply reverse the rules and lose the apostrophe. The car has wheels. Its wheels are round. See? No apostrophe when something belongs to it.

What About It’s?

It’s is neither possessive nor plural. When the apostrophe -s is added to it, what you’re seeing is a contraction, or a shortening of two words. The phrase it is is being shortened. If you have a hard time remembering this, try saying your sentence or phrase by replacing “its” or “it’s” with “it is.” If “it is” works, then you have a contraction and the apostrophe is required. If not, then just an s will do.

Remembering the Punctuation Rules for Apostrophe -S

Remembering the rules is easy. All you have to do is remember that if there’s ownership or possession, then the word should take apostrophe -s. If there are many (the word is plural), then just an “s” will do. If a word is both plural and possessed, it gets an followed by an apostrophe. And for the word “it,” the rules are reversed.

Grammar and Exceptions

Like most grammar rules, there are exceptions to the rules that dictate how we use apostrophes, and they are many. For example, when there is more than one goose, you don’t say “gooses,” you say “geese.”

The English language is fraught with such exceptions, and plural forms of many words require more than adding an “s” to the end. Learning all the exceptions takes patience and time, and requires that you constantly pay attention to words with special rules. Always keep an eye out for them.

Do you have any tips to add for remembering the punctuation marks and grammar rules for plurals and possessions? Do the rules for using apostrophe -s ever confuse you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

By Melissa Donovan

Source: writingforward.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

Writers’ groups are really made for writers

“Marketing is a long and arduous process that I wish I would have known more about in the beginning…” opens today’s Publisher’s Weekly article about the professional benefits of joining a writers’ group. The quote came from Deeann Callis Graham, whose book, “Head On,” addresses the issue of areata, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness in men and women. Indeed, many writers embark on their craft in with the idea that a knight in shining armor attached to a publishing house will do the marketing, when in reality, it is largely you, the author, hustling for publicity, and putting your name and face and work out there for all the world to critique. Perhaps if many did know about the marketing process there would be even fewer writers.

But I digress. The PW piece likens writers’ groups to a kind of group therapy, where members strive to raise each writer’s spirit and technique, while offering constructive advice in a safe place. According to Graham, “Our group of seven are personally invested in our individual and shared successes, and we inspire each other to reach our writing and marketing goals.”

In addition, having a strong writers’ network, though it may not comprise Stephen King or Toni Morrison, nevertheless makes writers – especially first-timers – feel less alone while navigating the wild, wild world of publishing. Members learn from others’ successes and mistakes, and grow their network beyond a notoriously solitary writer’s world.

Graham self-published “Head On,” which a PW review called “heartwarming” and “a powerful compilation of profiles with a sincere and encouraging message.” Graham believes she would not have gotten this far without her group of creative cheerleaders. So if you need a kick in the rear to get going, or you’ve already in the middle of a manuscript you think has potential, consider sharing it with a group of your peers first, not only to learn about writing, but about the industry. Groups can be found at Meetups, indie bookstores (yes, they still exist), or, if push comes to shove, perhaps by starting your own.

By Heather Quinlan

Source: slushpile.netslushpile.net

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Ready for More Social Media Clean-Up? Here’s How To Go About It (Part 2)

Did you do Part 1 of the social media clean-up yet? If not (and come ON already, why not? It’s not like you have writing or work to do. I mean), get on with it already. If so, yay you! I covered key updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Here’s your next assignment, should you choose to accept it (sorry, had to):

  • updating Instagram,
  • LinkedIn,
  • your blog/website and
  • Amazon author bio (if you have a book out).

Let’s do this thingy.

Social Media: Instagram

Many writers and bloggers either aren’t Instagram at all, are on it and post photos of their cats (*raises hand*), aren’t sure what to post so don’t post anything, or are caught up in nothing but selfie culture (ugh).

We can do better, writer friends! Instagram is no different than any other social media channel — be strategic. Use your keywords as a basis for your personal branding. Share what makes you, you.

Key ways to update your Instagram now:

  • Is your bio complete and updated? You have 150 characters only, so make the most of them. More than anywhere else, this is especially key here as it’s the only place on Instagram where you can have an active hyperlink (links do not work in individual posts unless you are paying to advertise). What do you want to link to? I suggest your most recent release, however, some writers prefer to link to their website. Your call.
  • TIP: You can update this hyperlink frequently (if you want to), based on your sales objective. Here’s mine as an example (follows appreciated):

Ready for More Social Media Clean-Up? Here’s How To Go About It (Part 2) by @BadRedheadMedia

  • Have a giveaway or an event? Change the link on your bio.
  • Have you transitioned to a Business Profile yet? It’s free and allows you far more options! This post walks you through every step. Why bother? Paid advertising. It also links to your Facebook Author Page — if you pay for advertising on your Facebook Page, the ad also shows up on your Instagram (and vice versa).
  • Find readers using hashtags in Search. This is NEW.
  • Use pertinent hashtags in your posts to attract readers.

Social Media: LinkedIn

  • Is your bio complete and updated? This is trickier on LinkedIn — there’s a lot to fill out. Here are some key tips from Grammarly on exactly how to do that.
  • Do you need to be there at all? I get this question a lot. Well, think about this: who’s your demographic? Do they work? Probably. Are they digital readers? Probably. Boom. That’s why you should be there. It’s also a great way to connect with others in the writing and publishing community.
  • Here’s a great read on how to make the most of your bio and connections (so you don’t have to just take my word for it). Plus, if you have a side business, you can create a ‘company profile’ attached for your personal profile (e.g., my LI profile is under Rachel Thompson, and I have a BadRedhead Media Company Profile).
  • Utilize LinkedIn Pulse (their blogging section). Why? Visibility! Either take posts you’ve already written or write original content. Either way, you are helping your SEO.

Not Social Media, But Still Super Important: Your Website About Section (aka, Bio)

Little bit different format here, so stay with me. What is the point of your Author Bio? It’s not really to list all of your accomplishments like on a resume (or Tinder for you young’uns); it’s to help the reader decide whether you’re interesting enough (sad, but true) for them to pay attention to and possibly buy books from. Here are a few expert tips on writing the best bio possible from Hubspot:

  1. Always write in third person (I know it sounds weird, but think about this: people will share your bio when you do things like blog tours, guest articles, and events — so having your bio in first person will be even weirder in those situations.) TIP: Create a media kit people can download for these occasions OR give permission for people to copy/paste your information.
  2. Remember: It’s not really about you. It’s about your reader. What will they gain from reading your blog posts, articles, and books?
  3. Establish credibility — truthfully. Everything is searchable, so be absolutely truthful with everything you share in regard to your credentials (not that you shouldn’t have been before, but you know). If you share that you’ve written for Forbes, link to the article. If you cannot provide that link, do not list it in your bio.
  4. Explain what you do. Most writers will say: I’m an author. Most bloggers will say: I’m a blogger. Yea, we got that. Do this instead: What will reading your books DO for people? What will they feel? What will they learn? What problem will it solve? Food for thought.
  5. Add a CTA (Call to Action). Your bio can be an appropriate place to add a simple Q&A pitch, e.g., “Want to learn more about rocking your book marketing? Buy BadRedhead Media’s 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge here (add link).”

Finally, and most importantly, be sure your book covers, banners, visuals, and links are all updated, and do this on a regular basis. TIP: go back through your old blog posts and update your book links, book covers, etc. I’m doing that now myself since I’ve republished all my books and the old links are dead.

Amazon Author Bio

Many authors upload their books to Amazon and think, okay, cool, done. Not so fast. You need to go to Amazon Author Central and create your Author Bio. Here’s a link to Author Central and info how to do the basic set-up.

Whenever you publish (or re-publish) a book, you must claim it through author central for it to show up under your author name on Amazon (this also counts toward books you’ve contributed to, e.g., anthologies). This helps expand your backlist, makes your bio page more robust, and it’s totally legit. You did the work, so take the credit.

Other items you can (and should) add:

  • Your blog RSS feed
  • Events (e.g., speaking engagements or signings)
  • Up to eight photos — feature new books, upcoming promos or giveaways, even awards you’ve won. Remember, though: whichever photo you place in the first spot will be the one featured on your page (so if it’s an award and not your face, that’s what readers will see). **Update these photos frequently if you are using them for promos/giveaways which will be short-lived.
  • Videos – book trailers, typically, though you can share a YouTube video or FB Live video as well (or a speaking event if it fits your theme).

An important final note: all this work is for your Amazon country of origin only, meaning you need to repeat this process for international pages. You can’t do every country, but you can create additional pages in the UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Here are the links to all those Author Central sites:

I don’t personally speak French, German, and Japanese (I don’t know about you), so I hire someone who can help me. You can also use Google Translate and hope for the best.

And that’s it for now. Do the work, keep writing, and you’ll be set for 2018!

Source: badredheadmedia.com

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Personalizing Your Character’s Emotional Wound

Emotional wounds are tricky to write about.

Abuse, betrayal, victimization, and the death of a loved one may exist in our characters’ pasts and so must be explored.

But these are also real life events that cause damage to real people.

So as I talk today about personalizing wounds for our characters, please know that I’m aware of the pain they cause in our world, and I applaud the courageous individuals who fight to come to grips with them every day.

Why Wounding Events Matter in Fiction

Wounding events greatly affect a character’s development, so they’re important to identify.

These painful experiences are deeply impactful, giving birth to life-altering fears, new habits and behaviors, even flaws meant to protect her from facing that pain again.

Wounding events are aptly named because they change who the character is; until they’re faced and addressed, she will never be whole.

But pinpointing what that event might be for a character is just the first step.

Traumas affect people differently; something that would destroy one character may have no lasting impact on another.

The wounding experience should be one that stops the protagonist in her tracks, making it impossible for her to achieve that story goal that will result in personal fulfillment.

However, you can maximize the impact of a traumatic event on a character by making it more personal.

You can accomplish this by knowing the following factors that can impact a wound and incorporating them into your story:

Personality

Some people are simply better equipped to deal with difficulty than others. An anxious or embittered person may find it harder to deal with a traumatic event than someone with an optimistic outlook or an adaptable nature.

So build the necessary traits into her personality before tragedy strikes.

Support

A strong support system is hugely helpful in facilitating healing for a victim. Loyal loved ones, a steady faith, or a supportive community can make it easier for someone to spring back, whereas a victim suffering alone may have a harder time.

Physical Proximity

The closer the danger, the more traumatic it can be.

A violent bank robbery may impact the employees, the customers, a security guard, etc. But the teller with the gun stuck in her face may take longer to recover than anyone else.

Emotional Proximity

It’s harrowing to be conned by a stranger, but someone you know causes even more damage, breeding self-doubt and making it difficult to trust others in the future.

Responsibility

It’s commonplace to replay a horrific event, picking it apart to figure out how it could have been avoided. This often results in the victim blaming herself, even when she was in no way at fault.

So if you need to intensify an already difficult circumstance, add an element of self-blame.

Justice

Seeing the perpetrator pay for what he’s done often provides closure that can set the victim on the path to healing.

On the other hand, knowing the criminal is still out there and free to strike again can cause a wound to fester.

Compounding Events

A trauma is horrible enough, but it often sets other events in motion that the wounded character is ill equipped to deal with.

Someone who has lost a child may also face divorce, be unjustly blamed, or lose a job due to depression.

Compounding events are the equivalent of someone kicking the victim when she’s down.

Just as you can use these factors to make a rough circumstance more difficult for your protagonist, you can also tweak them to soften their impact on other characters.

So as you dig into the backstory to unearth your characters’ pain, consider how deeply you want them affected.

Despite having experienced wounding events of our own, applying them to our characters can be daunting.

I’ll be lurking around the comments section to answer any questions.

Thank you, Jerry, for hosting me today!

By: Becca Puglisi
Source: jerryjenkins.com

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