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Showing posts from 2007

On haitus for the holidays

I'll be back after the holidays! As always, if there are topics you want me to cover, just comment and let me know!

Utilize reader statistics

The Gallup Poll website is fascinating. Okay, I admit, I’m a geek.

However, it’s also useful in gathering information about the book business, which is important for a writer.

Sometimes the statistics are a bit depressing—about 60% (depending on the house, genre, etc.) of all fiction books don’t make back their advance, for example—but other times, the stats can help writers.

This is the poll that talks about readers. It’s from 2005, but I think it’s mostly up to date—especially because the numbers are not much different from the 1999 stats, which are also presented.

Which of the following is the main way you generally select the books you read -- [ROTATED: based on a recommendation from someone you know, by choosing an author whose books you like, based on book reviews you've read, by browsing a bookstore or library, based on an advertisement you've seen, by browsing an Internet site] -- or do you select them another way?BASED ON 855 ADULTS WHO READ AT LEAST ONE BOOK IN THE PAST …

Characters – external conflict

Your main character’s story problem should be a big enough problem to carry them through the entire story and not be resolved until the climax. If the story problem resolves in the middle, it’s not a strong enough problem.

For romance, you also want strong conflict between the hero and heroine so they can’t get together during the story without some serious consequences. There has to be some type of relational conflict keeping them apart.

For non-romance, there should be strong conflict between the protagonist and an antagonist. Again, it should be strong enough to keep them from resolving their differences halfway through your story. They should be pitted against each other—with good reason to fight each other—all through the book, not resolving their differences until the climax.

The story problem should be deep and personal. Beyond external events, the characters have deep motivations that drive them to fight each other.

My friend Janet Dean quoted me this, which she got from bestselli…

Growing attraction between characters

I love romances—I write them and read them—and so I tend to be picky about how romance develops between characters.

I got two tips from a workshop given by Jennifer Crusie:

Trigger pleasant childhood sensory memories.

Early in childhood, we develop sensory memories tied to pleasant events. The cottony smell of Mama’s sewing room, or the buzzing sound of Dad running the saw in his workshop. Happy times linked to smell, sound, touch, taste, or specific visual cues.

When two people start to fall in love, one person will trigger one of those pleasant sensory memories in the other.

For example, Jenny Crusie gave a scene from her book where the heroine fried eggs in butter for the hero for breakfast. The smell of the butter brought back happy memories of the hero’s mother cooking for him.

Another example was when the heroine first glimpses the hero, and he reminds her of the one person she trusts in the world, an old mobster named Joey—the visual cue triggered pleasant memories for her because s…

Pacing, part two

There are certain elements that can slow your pacing too much, especially in Scenes. While none of these are absolute no-nos (there are few rules in writing that are completely unbreakable), most of the time, these things slow pacing too much in a story and gives the reader a chance to put the book down.

Too much introspection.

In a Scene, give your character a scene goal and make it happen. Don’t spend too much time in the character’s head, ruminating over things. Focus on action rather than thought.

You can have the character emotionally react to things that happen in the scene, but keep it short. Save the introspection for the Sequel.

Too much backstory.

While you might think the reader needs this information about the character’s past in order to understand the scene, most of the time, the reader can figure things out pretty well.

Keep backstory to a minimum. Pepper it into the scene in a single sentence here and there rather than having a paragraph or three all at once. See my article …

Pacing, part one

First off, pacing is often a bit subjective. What one reader considers un-put-down-able could be too fast to another reader. What one reader considers lovely, poetic prose could be boring and slow to another reader.

You are not going to please everyone. Get used to it.

So how do we find the right pacing for our books?

Aim for a pace that is right for your story—fast enough to keep the reader enthralled, with “sequels” so that they can catch their breath.

Be your own critic in this case. Analyze your story’s pacing and figure out if it needs to be faster, or if it needs more breathing room.

Also depend on your critique partners. Often, an unbiased third party can tell you if the pace is too fast, too slow, or just right.

Utilize Scene and Sequel.

Dwight Swain in Techniques of the Selling Writer says that pacing is dependent on Scene and Sequel. A strong, goal-oriented Scene will increase the story pace because the reader is following the character’s scene goal. The following Sequel allows th…

Before you query: To finish or not to finish

You’ve heard the saying from dozens of industry professionals and published authors: Finish your manuscript before you query an agent or editor.

But I’ve heard the very valid point from writers that often it takes 4-6 months before you hear back from a query. Why not do 3 chapters, then query, and finish the manuscript while you’re waiting? Why not get the idea out there while you’re working on it?

Here’s the reason—the agent/editor may not take 4-6 months to get back to you. They might take 4-6 DAYS. And in this industry, timing is everything.

If an agent/editor reads your query and wants the story, they might be thinking, “I know an editor who would want to see an idea like this right now,” or “This type of story idea would be perfect for an empty slot in our line.”

If you can’t send them the partial or full manuscript as soon as they ask for it—say it takes you 3 months to finish the manuscript, or let’s be optimistic, say it takes you one month. That one month might already be too lat…

Dialogue—interrupting

In real life, people interrupt each other all the time (especially in my family). Why not have your characters do it, too? It adds a bit of realism and depth to the dialogue, making it sound more natural.

Interruptions can also create more variety in your dialogue rhythm. It adds a nice change of pace without being too much of a hitch in the reading flow.

Now, don’t go overboard and have people interrupt each other all the time (even though we know that in real life, that can happen). Moderation is the key, as with any writing style.

Finishing a sentence:

This is a fun type of interruption, when the other character finishes the person’s sentence for them.

“This is a private Christian school, kiddo. You sure you’re supposed to be saying that kinda word around here?” Joel asked.

Bradley jerked his head around, his eyes rapidly scanning the perimeter as if they’d just come under enemy fire. “N-no. I ain’t supposed to. Good thing my teacher’s not—”

“Right behind you, Bradley?”

--From A Soldier’s …

When to use italics in first person POV

When do I use italics in first person POV?

The beauty of first person is that it’s immediate. It’s like constantly being in the person’s head, constantly hearing their direct thoughts.

In third person POV, direct thoughts are indicated by italics. For example:

This is from Only Uni. My heroine, Trish, has just showed up for a New Year’s party.

Here’s the original with lots of italics.

She glanced down at her dress. Well, at least the cut makes me look curvier and slender at the same time. Ha! I love how well-tailored clothes ensure I don’t have to work as hard to look good.

She kicked off her sandals—Oh look, my toes have turned blue from the cold—and they promptly disappeared in the sea of shoes filling the foyer. She swatted away a flimsy paper dragon drooping from the doorframe and smoothed down her skirt. She snatched her hand back and wrung her fingers behind her.

Here’s the revised version:

At least the expert cut of her dress made her rather average figure curvier and more slender at …

Hiding Emotion

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

Joan stared at the device. A bomb. She’d expect no less of those who’d come after her. Would motion set it off? Afraid to move, she prayed.

From nowhere, Joshua appeared. He rushed toward the explosive. “I’ll handle this.” He defused the bomb before she could answer.


Enjoyable? Fulfilling? I think not. Too often we write deus ex machina into our story—God from a machine (a concept derived from Greek tragedies)—where a hero/god swoops in and saves the day. Maybe that’s our way of trying to protect our character. Have you ever done that? Become so immersed in your story, that an idea pops into your head. And you think, “Oh, that would be very bad. I can’t let that happen.”

How do you respond? Do you let the “very bad” thing happen? Or do you pad protective clutter around your character and story, stifling what could very well be a powerful, emotional experience? I say, LET GO! Let your character experience pain. Allow the villain or circu…

Actions to fit your characters

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

The scene was set. My heroine finally knew she’d fallen in love with the hero. As they stood on a beach, he told her they’d have to keep their distance because he couldn’t focus. So, what did my feisty, independent woman do? She kissed him back.

I stopped writing. Staring at the screen, I wondered if that was right. Did it fit with her character? How do you know what is right and what isn’t? Have you done the research to understand personality styles and characterization? Without this vital research, you might have a maiden leading a crusade for women’s liberation.

Okay, sure. Anything is possible—but only with the right framework. Only if you’ve established credence to why your character is responding in such a way. For me, the above scenario proved right. My heroine demanded control of a situation. When the hero draws the line, she steps over it. Without the knowledge that my heroine had this flare in her personality, I would’ve rewrit…

Squashing our Protective Urges

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

I work in the children’s department at a national department store, which means I see a lot of adorable little faces smiling up at me quite often. But every now and then, I see a situation that I know is doomed to end badly. My urge is to rush to the rescue. Protect that child (and yes, the store from a law suit! LOL). We all have instincts and urges to protect others. Unfortunately, those very urges can stifle or even kill our fiction.

Recently I read a chapter for one of my critique partners. The story was enjoyable and the writing very good. However, I felt the author was protecting the heroine by not wanting to push her. How often have you done that? Go to write a scene and you stop, thinking, There is no way I can do that to my heroine/hero.

Why not? Why can’t you put your characters through the grinder? It happens in real life every day. I challenge all writers to push your characters PAST their limits, see what they’re made of. Wh…

Writer...Interrupted Carnival of Christian Writers

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Christmas gifts for writers

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas...

A few years ago, I came across an article on gifts for writers, and I expanded on it with an article of my own. If you have ideas, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it might help jump-start some other creative ideas. Some of these taken from All I Want for Christmas by Diana Rowe Martinez. I also have several Levenger.com products because I like them and think they’re wonderful gifts for readers/writers.

• Gift certificate to any of the major bookstores--Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks, Borders, Christianbook.com, or my favorite, Amazon.com (cheaper books, free shipping on orders over $25, and no sales tax)

• Gift certificate to Office Depot or any office supply store

• Dictionary and/or Thesaurus--one of the biggest and most comprehensive. My favorite thesaurus is the Visual Thesaurus, which you can purchase as a CD and/or subscribe to the online version, which is constantly updated.

• …

Cliche characters

I just got back from vacation so I'm gearing up for more posts.

In the meantime, here's a post on cliche characters and contests at the Seekerville blog.

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 9

After the blog tour:

Take a breath and rejoice—it’s done!

Take time to thank everyone who participated. If anyone did a book giveaway, remind them to draw the name and give you the mailing address (if you’ll be mailing the books to the winners).

Now look at see what could have been done better.

Did it take way too much of your time? Consider hiring someone to do the emailing and blog posting for you next time. You’ll still need to do the interview questions and write guest blog posts, however, so schedule time in for that. Or maybe you don’t care about original content and would be happy with just the book blurb and your bio on a bunch of blogs during a few days. Decide what you want and how much time you’re willing to spend on it.

Did you get people their interview questions or guest blog posts in time? If not, then try to schedule more time for yourself next time before the blog tour starts. Also, what I do is do the interview the day I receive it (or the next day if it’s late in the ev…

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 8

During the blog tour:

Permalinks: During the blog tour, post on your blog each day and link to the blog hosting you for that day. When the blogger has put up your post, change the link on your daily blog post and your Blog Tour Schedule to the permalink for that particular post.

For example, before the tour started, I had:

Alison Strobel Morrow interviews my chick-litty self, and I give the original blurb for Sushi for One that I used for my proposal.

The link to Alison’s blog was just her main blog page, http://alisonstrobel.blogspot.com/.

However, after she posted the interview with me, I changed the link to http://alisonstrobel.blogspot.com/2007/09/sushi-for-one_14.html, which is the permalink on her blog for that particular post.

Alison Strobel Morrow interviews my chick-litty self, and I give the original blurb for Sushi for One that I used for my proposal.

That way, when people click on the link to Alison’s blog, it will take them directly to the post with the interview.

I changed the l…

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 7

Logistics, continued:

The Blog Tour Schedule, continued:

If you have a blog, prepare a post for each day that will highlight that day’s blog stops. You can pre-date the posts so that they’re ready to just post when the day arrives.

Here’s an example of day thirteen on my blog tour. I pre-wrote each day’s post (day thirteen, day fourteen, etc.) so that as each day came, I just posted and didn’t have to worry about writing anything. Essentially, I just copied the short sentence from my blog tour schedule.

Email reminders: Ahead of time, write an email for each person on the blog tour to remind them that they’re posting “tomorrow, [Month, date].” Save these emails as drafts so that you can just click and send the day before the blogger is scheduled to post for your tour.

In these emails, resend your Interview questions or Guest Blog post, and also resend .jpgs of you and your book cover.

Giving away books: This is an option you can offer to your bloggers. They can give away books however the…

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 6

Logistics:

Make sure you’ve scheduled everything on either a spreadsheet or a calendar.

For each day of the tour, make sure you have written down which blogger, their blog address, and whether they’re doing a review, interview, or guest blog post, or a combination of all three.

Also write down if you’ve received the interview questions yet. If you haven’t, email them to remind them to send them to you so you have time to get the answers back to them in good time.

Also write down if you’ve written their guest blog post yet. Try to get that done before the blog tour even starts.

Pictures: Make sure you’ve emailed everyone .jpg files of yourself and your book cover so they can post them with the review, interview, or guest blog post.

The Blog Tour Schedule: If you have a blog, prepare a draft of a post that will include all the stops on your blog tour. Link each stop to the blogger’s blog address so your blog readers can click on it to get to the blog.

If you don’t have a blog, you can also ema…

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 5

Content, continued:

Guest blog posts: The blogger will ask you to write a short blog post, often on a topic of their choosing. Usually the topic is in line with the blog’s theme or the blogger’s interests.

Sometimes they’ll say to just blog about whatever you feel like. Even when given carte blanche like this, try to aim the blog post toward the blogger’s theme.

For example, when blogging for Sharon Hinck, I wrote about superheroes in my life since her theme is “The Superhero in all of us.” When blogging for Mary DeMuth, I wrote about authenticity since Mary’s blog is very authentic. I also managed to sneak in info on my writing and my books, since the blog tour is essentially to get the word out about you.

Try to keep your guest blog posts SHORT. I try to aim for 250 – 500 words. Do NOT run on for more than 750 words maximum, and only do that if the blogger has asked you to address several things in your blog post.

Scheduling:

Some blog tours schedule one person per day. Others let the blo…

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 4

Content, continued:

Interviews: The blogger emails you about 5 questions to answer. This enables the blogger to ask questions that tie in to their blog’s theme if they choose. For example, my blog is light, funny, and quirky, so I’ll ask quirky questions when I send interview questions.

Make sure that even if people ask the same questions, that you don’t just copy and paste answers. Make each answer original writing. If you can, give a different spin on the answers for each blog.

For example, I was often asked how I came up with the idea for the Sushi series. My answers from three different blogs is below:

From Robin Caroll's blog: What was your inspiration for Sushi for One?

I promise it wasn't my family! My grandma (and my parents, and my other relatives) are nothing like Grandma Sakai. GS was a conglomeration of stories I heard from friends about their parents/aunties/siblings/grandparents. Of course, once I had Grandma Sakai, what better than to pit her against Christian singl…

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 3

Content:

The best blog tours have completely original content on each and every blog.

You can have a blog tour where each person posts the same pre-written interview or just the blurb of the book and your bio, and those are still good blog tours because the large number of blogs that post about you and your book is still generating some internet buzz.

However, you ideally want an interesting, interactive blog tour, one where people will visit every single blog on the tour. For that to happen, you must have original content at each “stop.”

This requires pre-planning on your part. When you email your friends to ask them to be part of your blog tour, give them three options: to post a review, to post an interview with you (where they email you about 5 questions to answer), or to post a guest blog post written by you about whatever topic they prefer.

If you do your blog tour in conjunction with another group like the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, try to encourage people to email you to get …

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 2

Setting up a blog tour, continued:

Important etiquette: Generally, if someone agrees to be part of your blog tour, you are required to send them a free copy of your book to read.

If they want to give a copy away on their blog, then you provide another copy for them to give away. Another method is to have them email you the mailing address of the winner, and you can send the winner their copy directly.

Pictures: Make sure you send everyone .jpg files of your book cover and you so they can post it on their blog.

Central website: Mary DeMuth recently had a blog tour where she had a central website page that included everything for the tour. This is an excellent tool and I intend to use this next time. Her centralized website included:

--links to pictures that people could use
--book blurb and links to buy her book
--link to excerpt
--the Blog Tour Schedule
--canned interviews people could use
--links to examples of reviews and interviews
--detailed instructions and HTML code for those so inclined

Internet marketing – blog tours, part 1

Because of the nature of the web, blog tours have become an effective marketing tool. However, like most marketing strategies, it’s hard to quantify how effective it is in terms of sales.

Regardless, blog tours are low cost and get the word out (buzz) about you and your book, and that’s never a bad thing.

Also, if you’ve got a website contest going on, a blog tour is a great way to get the word out about it, because you can mention the contest at each blog on the tour.

Please use the following guidelines to help you schedule the time you’ll need for the blog tour. You’ll need time the month before the tour in setting it up (contacting people, writing guest blog posts or answering interview questions), and you’ll also need time during the tour to email reminders, to post the daily stops on the tour, to comment on each blog on the tour, and to correct any mis-posts.

Setting up a blog tour:

You can hire a publicity company to do this for you, or you can hire a virtual assistant privately to s…

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part III

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

Welcome back for the final installment of THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER. Today we’re going to use me and my writing as an example. A bad example.

In the first full-length novel I ever wrote, I had a lead character named Maggie. She was strong, she was tough, she was smart, she was sweet and she was beautiful. My critique partners called her Spy-Barbie.

SIGH.

It took me a while to understand why this was a bad thing.

Maggie was a perfect character. She was as plastic and fake as Malibu Barbie. She was the woman I want to be, with no faults, no vices and no warts.

She was possibly, the most boring character I have ever written. She never struggled with the choice between good and bad, she never woke up cranky in the morning and she could eat more than a starving truck driver and never get fat.

THAT IS JUST NOT POSSIBLE!! (Ahem, I may be over-reacting slightly to that last part. Moving on.)

No one could relate to Maggie because she was perfect …

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part II

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing that.

Have you ever met someone who’s a chronic over-sharer? There are lots of people like that. People who feel the need to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about their life story.

Writers can do that too. They can bog the reader down in a character’s backstory explaining everything, from why they hate cheese to telling about the day they got their first bee sting. And it’s boring. All of it.

On the other hand, have you ever met one of those people who doesn’t burble out their life story in one sitting, but the few details that they do share are captivating. Like when they tell you about that time they were on a nuclear submarine in the Bering Sea… That makes me want to know more, how about you?
As a writer, you need to do the same thing.

It’s your job to make people long to hear the story you have to tell. You can’t do that when you toss in important facts about your c…

THE SELF-SABOTAGING WRITER Part I

by Sara Mills from Double Crit editing service

Self-sabotage. I’m not talking about ‘accidentally’ deleting your My Documents folder in a fit of post-critique frustration or sending a nasty email to an editor, I’m talking about writers unintentionally sabotaging their own stories. I’ve found three main things that writers do that works against them in their story.
The first one is letting the reader know what’s going to happen before it happens.
Have you ever watched a movie with a friend and it’s getting a little tense, the music is building and you’ve got that pillow ready just in case you need to cover your eyes, and then the friends bursts out with “He does it. Strangles her, but she’s not really dead. She’s going to shoot him and everyone lives happily ever after.”

SIGH. It’s like deflating a balloon. Pfftt, there goes the tension and it slides neatly into annoyance. I find that writers often do the same thing in their stories. They’ve got a nice mood going, some tension,…

Characterization and Garnishing

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

My husband won a gift certificate to one of Dallas’ finest restaurants. They had a waiting list out the wazoo. We won’t mention the Lamborghinis or Ferraris at the valet parking (bet those attendants enjoyed their jobs!). Everything delivered to our table had the best presentation and garnishing, along with respect. All together, these finer elements made up the most impressive meal I’d ever had in my life.

We need to learn from the restaurant industry. We want our readers to go away satisfied, ready and willing to trust us as writers when our next book comes out. So, how do you garnish your story? How do you impress a satisfying story upon your reader? You start with your character, having interviewed them and defined their personality, you add quirks, obsessions, or paralyzing fears. These garnishings make your character tangible to your reader. That’s the sprig of parsley on your $100 steak, the shaving of chocolate on your tira misu.

I…

Characterization and Psychology

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

Last time, we wrote about ice cream and characterization. Did I make you hungry for more (pun obviously intended)? Well, let’s feed that hunger with some healthy sustenance. Psychology—the protein of solid characterization. No, seriously. You heard me right. In order to write compelling characters, you need to have strength in the way you ‘draw’ them. You need to understand that character.

I understand people. Maybe it’s a gift, maybe it’s my degree. I’m often able to see past the action to the source that triggered the reaction. And that is exactly what we need to do in our writing. Scramble up some eggs, er emotion, and craft your character in a compelling way. Add some sausage (yeah, the artery-clogging stuff)—quirks—for flavor. Recently, I encountered a scene where I floundered, wondering what my heroine would do in response to a situation. Not knowing her well enough impeded the “feel” of that scene and made me realize I’d lost tou…

Characterization - Founder’s Favorite

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

I love ice cream. Not just any ice cream. I’m addicted to Cold Stone—and not their plain Jane flavors. Mix it up. Make it unique. Founder’s Favorite blend with cheesecake ice cream instead of regular. And I’m just as picky when it comes to my characters. James Scott Bell in his book Plot & Structure says not to let your character “plop into your plot like plain vanilla.” If your reader does not care about your character, they won’t finish the story, which means that great scene you have planned for page fifty-seven will never get read. The most important part of any story is the character.

So, how do you make a Founder’s Favorite or a Strawberry-Banana Rendezvous? How does one get past blasé and thrill until the reader needs an oxygen mask? The key, of course, is your character. Have you interviewed your main character? Had a chat with her over a latte? Inquired about his relationship with his father over a juicy burger? No? Why not? …

Scene goals

I’ve had a couple people ask me about scene goals.

Basically, your point of view character should have something they need to accomplish when they walk into that scene. It could have something to do with the character’s External Goal, or it could not.

For example, Grissom needs to find Sarah, who’s been kidnapped by the psycho miniature killer (bear with me, I just watched the season premier of CSI). This is his External Goal. But when he goes into the interrogation room to question the suspect, his scene goal is to get the psycho killer to tell him where Sarah is. (For you CSI fans, you know he doesn’t get his information and he fails his scene goal, but he hasn’t failed his Story Goal. Yet.)

Here’s an example from Single Sashimi, the third book in my Sushi series (I just turned in the macro edits for this puppy, so it’s fresh in my mind): My heroine Venus is on her way to her cousin’s house to indulge in chocolate truffles. Her determination to have chocolate within the next hour is he…

Fictioon 101 and 201 sale

I just got this message from my friend Randy Ingermanson. If you're an auditory learner, this is a fabulous writing series and a great deal:

Today, September 27, 2007, I am running a rare event:
a 24-Hour Special on my two top-selling products,
Fiction 101 and Fiction 201.

These are my flagship products. I've taught these courses
at writing conferences across the country.

Last year, I created them as software products that run
in any web browser. They let you SEE my notes and
HEAR me lecture.

Fiction 101 and Fiction 201 are available on CD or as large
electronic downloads.

The reason for this 24-Hour Special is to celebrate freedom.

Recently, I've outsourced the CD distribution to Kunaki.com.
That means FREEDOM for me from the drudgery of packing CDs
in envelopes and mailing them off. It saves me MONEY, which I
can pass on to my customers in lower prices. I have already cut
the price of the CDs by about 20%.

To celebrate that FREEDOM, I'm slashing the price of a CD by
ANOTHER 50%. Just …

Traveling

Hey guys,

I'll be traveling and at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference for the next couple weeks. I'll try to blog writing tips I hear at the conference, but no guarantees. I should be back in business on Friday, September 28th for sure.

Camy

Hooking your reader to your character

When I start a novel, I give the author about three chapters for me to like the main character. I’m actually pretty generous—in a bookstore, your average book buyer reads the first page, maybe the second. Usually not more than that.

Depending on how fast they read, the first page or two takes approximately twenty seconds.

That’s it. You need to hook your reader into the story and give them a character they can like within those first few pages.

In Writing for Emotional Impact, Karl Iglesias lists these three “categories of appeal”:

* We care about victims—characters we feel sorry for

* We care about characters with humanistic values

* We like character with desirable qualities

Victims—You don’t have to just think stalker victim here. Don’t we love the underdog? The downtrodden? The kid who gets beat up in the schoolyard? The man without enough money to pay for coffee? The woman beat up by her husband? The teenager who can’t read?

Humanistic values—Show your character doing something nice or b…

The lowdown on marketing for writers, part two

Okay, we talked about brand. Now buzz.

Internet marketing is like regular marketing, there's really no way to know if it's doing a whole lot of good. But it's stupid not to do internet marketing because it's so easy and cheap.

Website—This is a non-negotiable. All writers must have a website, whether you’re published or not. It’s your business card on the web. Keep it updated once a month.

Blog—Only blog if you enjoy blogging. Too many people blog who don't really like it, and I think that a bad blog is worse than none at all. If you don't like blogging, don't let anybody make you feel guilty for not blogging. Only do what you like doing, because life's too short to waste on stuff you don't want to do.

Email loops and forum boards—This is something unpublished writers need to start doing early. And I'm not talking just writers loops and boards, but non-writing loops and boards. And if the loop topic touches on your brand, all the better.

Participatio…

The lowdown on marketing for writers, part one

Marketing is two things for an author: brand and buzz.

Brand: This is where you decide as an author what to write so that you stand out in the market.

Jenny Crusie is the queen of real-life snark.
Tom Clancy is spy action.
John Grisham is legal thrillers.
I am Asian Christian chick lit.
Robin Caroll is Cajun/Southern romantic suspense.
Cheryl Wyatt is military action romances.
Deeanne Gist is slightly edgy historical romances.
Brandilyn Collins is small town suspense.
Colleen Coble is small town romantic suspense with animals.
Donna Fleisher is angsty military women's fiction.

This is the hardest part for writers to figure out. You have to actually tweak your writing so that your books will stand out from all the other pitches editors hear.

If you have a solid brand, editors are much happier to read your stuff because you're classified in a certain file in their heads. They can sell you easier to the VP of Sales and VP of Marketing because you're branded. An editor may love you but th…

Scene transitions – POV, time, and place

When you start a book or any new scene, you’re setting your reader down in a completely new place, often in a new time, sometimes with a new character. Make your point of view character, time, and place obvious in the first couple paragraphs.

You don’t need long descriptions of the new room the heroine is in, or to tell the reader that we’re now in the hero’s head, or to let the reader know that six months have passed. These things can be conveyed with a well-chosen phrase that immediately triggers a certain picture in the reader’s head.

For example, say the previous scene ended at night in the hero’s POV.

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A girl could choke on the cholesterol in the air.

She stood in the doorway to the diner, cringing beneath the sticky cloud of bacon grease mingled with the perfume of over-cooked eggs and maple syrup.

The reader immediately knows it’s (a) the heroine, (b) a greasy diner, and (c) the next morning.

Go through your manuscript and look at scene openings. Can you add a well-chosen sentence …