Showing posts from 2005


What clients are saying about the Story Sensei critique service Camy and I worked together on a series of synopses and I found her ability to pinpoint the heart of the story incredibly helpful. Once I had that, plot holes were easy to fill in and my characters' journeys became more fulfilling--both to write and to read. Thank you, Camy! -- Shelley Bates , author of RITA Award winner Grounds to Believe (Steeple Hill 2005), and Over Her Head (FaithWords 2007) In today's writing industry, grabbing an agent's or editor's immediate interest is a must--it can mean the difference between a request for a full manuscript and a form rejection letter. As agents and editors have limited time, a winning synopsis can make them dive into your sample chapters with interest. Camy Tang is a master synopsis sensei--highlighting where to pull out the vital information and showing you where to tighten and enhance your structural plot in order to make your synopsis sing. I highly rec

Internet marketing - blog tours

This article originally appeared as a series of blog posts. 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 co

Deep Point of View

This article is a collection of the Deep Point of View blog post series. Deep Point of View, part one The point of going deeper in your limited third person point of view is to stick the reader in your character’s skin. This will often result in a more powerful emotional experience for your reader. There are some tips to follow that pull the reader deeper into the character’s point of view. Often a judicious word choice does the trick for you without changing the text. These things will work to pull the reader into the story world and experience the story through the character’s eyes, in the character’s body. It usually gives more intensity to the reading flow. Eliminate emotion words. Many times, when a writer names an emotion, it distances the reader from the character. For example: Anxiety trembled in her stomach. Anger coursed through her. She shivered as fear tiptoed down her spine. It’s not that it’s wrong to name the emotion—in fact, sometimes it makes the

Basic Point of View

This article originally appeared as a 12-part blog post series. Many beginning writers are confused about the concept of point of view. I’m hoping this series of blog posts will help you out. After I finish the series, I’ll condense it into one blog post article. What is point of view? It’s the type of narration of a story. For the purposes of a writer, it’s easiest to think of it as the eyes through which your reader sees the scene. There is third person, second person, and first person point of view. First person is told from the character as the narrator. I’ll be covering that later. Second person is not used often. It’s the type of narration where the character is referred to using personal pronouns, which serves to make the reader into the character. I remember this type of narration in the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Third person is most often used. In third person, the characters are distinct from the storyteller, who is essentially the author. Most readers

Writing Styles: Confessions of a Plotter Who Used to Be a Pantser

What in the world are "pantsers" and "plotters"? There seems to be lots of discussion on the web about the two different writing styles, "pantsers" and "plotters." There are "pantsers" who write off the seat of their pants--they have the important aspects of the plot in their minds, and they write to see how the story unfolds. They are also known as “fly into the mist” writers. Then there are "plotters" (sometimes affectionately termed “plodders”) who outline everything beforehand so they know what they need to accomplish in their chapters as they write. Some people are a little bit of both. Ultimately, whichever writing style you choose is based on your personality and preference. When I first started writing, I was a "pantser". But as I wrote more, I experimented with "plotting" and discovered that style enabled me to write my personal best. Plotting became a painful but necessary process for me

Writing Fight Scenes

I love martial arts movies and action flicks. So naturally I'd write action scenes. I discovered that it takes a slightly different writing style. These are some of the things I learned, although this list isn't exhaustive by any means. Action-Reaction A fight scene is always Action-Reaction. He punches, she staggers back. She kicks, he blocks and swings a fist at her. Watch out for putting your reaction before your action: She staggered back when he slammed his fist into her shoulder. The rule of thumb is to have each action-reaction have its own paragraph, although that’s not always possible. Sometimes the sentences are too short for their own paragraphs and can be combined. It’s up to the writer how to format it: He swung a roundhouse punch. She bent backward and felt his knuckles swish past her nose. versus: He swung a roundhouse punch. She bent backward and felt his knuckles swish past her nose. Short sentences = fast reading flow Use short sentences and phrases to make re

The First Chapter: Hook, Description, and Backstory

This article came out of the contests I've judged. These are some of the common things I see in most entries when it comes to hooks, description and backstory. Starting with description--pros and cons. There are two camps about starting a scene with description: 1) Most historical writers and some sci-fi/fantasy writers like the whole idea of the novel like a movie camera, panning into the scene and describing the setting in detail to place the reader there before anything starts to happen. 2) Most suspense/mystery writers tend to start with action, and to give details of the surroundings and what's happening through subtle hints in the dialogue or narrative. Each method can be done poorly. If you spend too much time setting the scene or if you don't do it well enough, an editor won't get past the first page because it's too boring--nothing going on. On the other hand, if you land the reader in the middle of action but don't do a good enough job orienting the re