Tag Archives: For Writers

WRITERS – WEDNESDAYS VISUAL WRITING PROMPT CAN SHOW YOU WHAT FAMOUS AUTHOR YOU WRITE LIKE

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Wednesdays hit mid-week when the stress in our lives is hopefully at it’s lowest point. We’ve managed the Monday Rush and the Tuesday catch-up, and are ready to breathe a little. Now is the perfect time to get your writing mind back in action!

If You Don’t Use It – You Lose It

It is important that you exercise your writing ability. There is always room for improvement, and with a regular schedule of flexing your creative writing habit, you could be just one writers prompt away from that New York Times best seller!

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when your done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.  

Michelle Rene

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits)


For Professional Cover Design & Illustration See Michelle Rene

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AUTHOR MARKETING TIP – CREATE A PROFESSIONAL MEDIA KIT

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The key elements of an Author Media Kit?

An author bio

You’ll need two bios: one short and one long. Or, at the very least, one long bio where the first paragraph or two can stand on their own.

Some quick pointers on your author bio:

Be engaging. Unless you are writing cat books for an audience of cat lovers and want to get interviewed on cat.tv, no one cares about your cats (I do, I love cats, but the media doesn’t). However, if your cat once dragged in an old key, covered in moss, which inspired you to write your first adventure novel, well that is engaging and has to go in the bio.

Be yourself. Try and inject as much of your personality as possible into your bio. Don’t force humor into it if you don’t have a funny bone in your body. Try and show people that you are not just an author, but a real live human being as well and they may just form a connection with you.

Try and include anything that will make you stand out from the crowd.

EXAMPLES
[Your name here] is the author of [your genre here] novels [your book titles here].

She started writing horror stories after being trapped in an archaeological dig for 2 days. This was the subject of her breakthrough novel.

He started writing (sometimes corny) Science Fiction after seeing a worm hole in an apple.

After having her life saved by a man dressed like Sherlock Holmes she became fascinated with him and started writing fan fiction.

An author photo

This is all about you building a brand. Go and get a professional author photo. Go and do it now. Actually, wait, finish reading this and THEN go and get it done. Once you have an author photo NEVER CHANGE IT!

It will be something that people identify with for years to come. When Ian Fleming’s photo wasn’t included on the cover of one of his books, readers were up in arms.

Look at self-published author David Gaughran, his photo is brilliant, it’s instantly recognizable.

If you’ve got amazing photo skills (or have a friend who does) then by all means do it yourself. Include a prop, smile, be sincere, whatever it takes to reflect yourself and your personality.

Make sure you have copies of the photo in 300dpi resolution (for print) and 72dpi for the web. If you want to go all out, have a choice of photos and provide them in B&W as well.

Here’s a great example of an author press kit with a lot of photos.

Reviews / Awards

If you have reviews then you need to include a few of the best here. Don’t include too many, just keep it short and sweet. Do include the one from the New York Times, don’t include the one from your mum, her opinion doesn’t carry any weight here (unless she’s the editor of the New York Times Book Review).

You should also include any awards you have won, especially if they have a shiny badge that you can embed on the page. It’s all about verification.

Relevancy

What you need here is to show that you have actually thought about your target market and who your book appeals to. If you can lay out a reason why your book appeals perfectly to a certain cross section of the disaffected youth of today, then the editor of Disaffected Youth will be far easier to convince to cover your story.

The media are only out to provide stories that are relevant to their audience, so it is your responsibility to make yourself relevant to the right people.

Press contact details

If you’ve got someone doing publicity for you, or even a publisher, then make sure that their contact details are immediately obvious. If a journalist likes what you have to offer, they will be in touch for a follow up.

If you are a multitasking independent author, then try and provide contact information that looks professional. For example, a phone number and an email address that isn’tme@gmail.com but press@myauthorwebsite.com (you do have an author website, don’t you?).

Some sample interview questions

In keeping with the theme here, we’re trying to make it easy. Journalists don’t want to have to think too much. Give them some sample interview questions that allow you to showcase your amazing personality and your life changing book. You can be straightforward or creative, it’s entirely up to you and does of course depend on your genre. A book on poverty in the third world is going to need a different approach to a quirky Young Adult novel.

You can even pre-answer the questions, it just make things easier for the really lazy busy researcher.

Social media, videos etc.

Provide a list of links to all of your social media profiles. People do want to see what else you are up to.

If you have done interviews or podcasts then embed them, or at least provide links to them. People will want to see if you come across well on the screen or if you have an appealing voice. If you haven’t done any interviews yet then I would strongly recommend doing a video interview with a friend, recording it and putting it in.

Press release

Include the latest press release for your book. While your press release will of course have been tailored to each and every media contact that you send it to, you should also have a generic one. Put a link to it here.

Speaking engagements / Events

If you’ve got some exciting events lined up then include them, but don’t go overboard.

Okay, so we’ve got the essentials of your author press kit together. Now what?

First rule of author media kit success: Keep it updated. New books, new photos, new press releases, new events? Make sure they find their way to your kit.

Second rule of author media kit success: Make some noise. Generate some publicity. Approach media contacts with carefully designed press releases. You get the idea.

Third rule of media author kit success: Make it visible on your site. Put a menu item in your navigation bar, right next to the “about” and “books” links.

That’s it! Your next step is to get back to your writing so that you have plenty of books ready to sell when Oprah, the New York Times, or even your local college radio show come knocking at your door.

And to give you some inspiration, here are some Author Media Kit examples:

Fiction Author Media Kits

CJ Lyons | Stefanie Sloane | Adrienne Giordano | Carly Phillips | Lisa Jackson

Non-Fiction Author Media Kits

Tim Ferriss | Mardie Caldwell


For Custom Cover Design & Illustration See Michelle Rene

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Source: http://www.standoutbooks.com/author-media-kit/

Writing the Unlikable Character and Why You Should

Nope. Not this reader.

I love unlikable characters. It’s fair to say that if there’s a no-good, dirty, rotten scoundrel in the lead, I am 100 percent on board. But it seems incongruous, doesn’t it, that a character who is wholly unappealing—repulsive, even—should be something readers might seek out. And one step further, it seems counterintuitive to recommend that you write characters that readers will rightfully dislike. And here, I think, is where unlikable and uninteresting are confused.

Be they bad apples or good eggs, a character needs to exhibit enough agency to earn a reader’s attention—regardless of whether that attention is positive or negative. And herein lies the key: You can make your protagonist as low-down and dirty or as mindful and generous as you please, but she has to be the engineer of her own conflict to earn readers’ interest. A character—good or bad—must be an active participant in her own story. And if you want a character with a built-in conflict machine, you should go low-down and dirty.

Some characters are difficult to connect to simply because they do little to engage a reader. A character who lets the world act upon her and doesn’t influence a change in her situation could be unlikable or lovable, but either way she’s uninteresting. She’s too passive to warrant concern. You can’t care about this character, and as a result you can’t care about her story. You’ll lay the book aside and tell your reader-friends that the character is unlikable. But a more accurate sentiment might be that the character isn’t interesting or compelling—all things that even a good-girl character needs to be if she wants readers to care about her enough to finish the story.

But the opposite—a character who sets himself up for conflict and consequences through the dastardliness of his doing—is surely unlikable, yes, but also magnetic. You want to watch him ruin his life. He repulses you in the same way a car accident is simultaneously disturbing and hard to look away from. This character is a train wreck, and it is glorious to behold. Every time he does something unwholesome, immoral, felonious or just, like, super-rude, he creates a conflict. The anticipation and delivery of that consequence is deeply satisfying for a reader, and by their very nature, not-nice characters create these conflicts almost constantly.  In the words of Oscar Wilde, “The suspense is terrible; I hope it will last.”


charactersOne of the most important steps to writing a book is crafting characters that pull readers into the story. From concept and naming to choosing point of view and writing convincing dialogue, it takes skill to write characters that come to life on the page. Creating Characters collects the best instruction on how to write a novel with compelling and significant characters. The featured essays and articles compiled by Writer’s Digest editors will help you make the right choices when building characters for your stories.


Think about this: You have an idea for a novel. You’ve been working on it for quite a while now, but something isn’t clicking. Your protagonist is a woman who’s down on her luck. She is now in a bind and needs some help. She’s lost everything: her boyfriend, her house, her job. Even her cat disappeared. Man, what a mess.

In Scenario A, your protagonist asks her parents for money, but they can’t give her that. So Instead, they let her stay in their home until she can get back on her feet. Maybe she doesn’t love living with her mother. Maybe she never finds a job. Maybe she’s camping out in the basement for so long that her parents leave and tell her to keep the house. Win-win, and your character is still a nice girl. That was easy, right? Yep, and honestly, pretty boring.

In Scenario B, no one can (or will) help her out. Your protagonist is living in her car and yet no one is there to lend a hand. Why not?, you’re asking. Good question. If she’s a good person and her circumstances truly are outside of her control, then surely someone can give this nice lady a hand. But lets pretend she’s not a nice lady. Maybe she kicks puppies on her lunch break. Cheats on her taxes. Kidnaps kids for ransom. Kills her boss in a fit of rage and frames her coworker (the nice guy, of course). What if we find out, for example, that her house and boyfriend and even her cat are gone because she’s a manipulative sociopath who tied the guy to the bed and then burned the place down so he couldn’t leave her? That is much more interesting than a girl who needs to sofa-surf at Mom’s until that next job interview.

The character from Scenario A may well be the sweetest, kindest woman who ever existed in print. In fact, I’d put money on it. Poor girl just had a bad week. But the protagonist from Scenario B is going to be infamous, and even if we hate her (and we will, that murderous wretch), we’ll still think about her after the book is back on the shelf. (Both Senarios were made up on the fly as I typed this; if they resemble actual works of fiction, my apologies. If not, those ideas are free to use.)

Let’s look at some fictional characters who are generally considered unlikable.

Rabbit Angstrom, the protagonist of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run and its sequels, is a (slightly) less sadistic character who manages to ruin the lives of every woman he meets. And as often as he isn’t doing the hard work of being gainfully employed or staying faithful to his wife, Rabbit is no slouch when it comes to creating an avalanche of consequences for himself. He’s an aimless, unkind, jealous cheat, and watching him scramble to avoid the falling walls of his life is as entertaining as a story gets.

Lolita‘s Humbert Humbert is a monster by every definition, a “detestable, abominable, criminal fraud” according to his wife (and Dolores’ mother), and a “vain and cruel wretch” in Nabokov’s own words. The reader understands that he’s both human and inhumane, and because he chooses to give in to his baser instincts, he earns both the consequences of such and the dislike of readers.

Frank and April Wheeler, the lead characters in Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road are unbearable, conniving snobs. Their shortcomings and pettiness and self-righteousness and backstabbing create every major plot point in the story. Yates’ debut novel remains among my favorite because I’d never want to know them, but it’s not very difficult to imagine the Wheelers living next door, driving each other insane.

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl features two of the most despicable characters to ever grace the page. I stayed awake reading through the night to find out who I was supposed to be rooting for, and in the end I hated Nick and Amy Dunne equally and fully and I loved every word of it. Unlikable? Absolutely. Uninteresting? Not for a second. The novel could accurately be retitled Two Cats, One Bag.

The compelling unlikable character exists in every medium. Books, film, TV, plays, you name it. Add Joffrey Lannister (Game of Thrones), Javert (Les Miserables), Yvonne “Vee” Parker (Orange Is the New Black), Alonso Harris (Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day), Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces), the Narrator in Fight Club (or more broadly, possibly every character in every Palahniuk novel), Holden Caulfield, Jack Torrance … there’s no end to this list.

But in every case, the unlikable character who earns our attention is generating problems that require resolution—problems that carry the plot forward in a logical, organic way. The unlikable character is a one-man plot-building machine, and I wholeheartedly encourage you all to try it at least once.


Source: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/writing-the-unlikable-character-and-why-you-should


The Study – For Writers – How to Write a Character Sketch

Portrait of Grief by artist Michelle Rene Goodhew
drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com

A sketch is a starting point. In the visual arts, artists carry around sketch pads to practice and develop the fundamental skills of their craft with the aim of producing paintings that seem to jump off the canvas, or sculptures that seem to move in just the right light. The same is true for authors who use character sketches. Writers use this tool to develop and rehearse one of the fundamental skills of their craft—characterization. However, the final goal is not to have a notepad full of character sketches. An author should get to know his or her character through this practice. While not everything that an author writes in a character sketch must be included in the novel, the author should develop an in-depth and all-encompassing knowledge of every facet of the character’s personality in order to create a consistent and engaging persona. The ultimate goal of a writer is to take these character sketches and use them to craft a wonderfully engrossing, character-driven work of fiction.


drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com
drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com

A sketch is a starting point. In the visual arts, artists carry around sketch pads to practice and develop the fundamental skills of their craft with the aim of producing paintings that seem to jump off the canvas, or sculptures that seem to move in just the right light. The same is true for authors who use character sketches. Writers use this tool to develop and rehearse one of the fundamental skills of their craft—characterization. However, the final goal is not to have a notepad full of character sketches. An author should get to know his or her character through this practice. While not everything that an author writes in a character sketch must be included in the novel, the author should develop an in-depth and all-encompassing knowledge of every facet of the character’s personality in order to create a consistent and engaging persona. The ultimate goal of a writer is to take these character sketches and use them to craft a wonderfully engrossing, character-driven work of fiction.

A Character Sketch is a great way to assess the characters in the literature you are reading or people that you are researching about. It can give you tools of observation as you look at the many details about another individual.

When studying a specific character in a literary piece the sketch gives you the freedom to be a detective and try to find out what the author is expressing through their characters. You can sketch the protagonist ( the favorable hero or heroine in the story,) or the antagonist ( the character which causes the conflict for the main character), or the supporting characters. This sharpens the skill of observation and note-taking as you focus on one specific character and the traits that make them ‘who they are’ in the book.

Can you write a sketch without a book to study? Absolutely!  A great way to practice is to sketch someone you know in real-life.

When you are writing a Character Sketch, want to look for qualities of character and/or personality traits that you see in the person you want to write about.  The main goal of this is to be able to tell something  about the person you are researching. Think of it like an introduction.  In essence, you are introducing the reader to the person you are writing about.


drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com
drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com

Be sure to use strong visual words in your writing. You want to provide a lasting mental image of the person or character you are writing about. The use of quality adjectives and feeling in your writing, using words that relate to the five senses,  elicit an emotional response from your reader.  This will allow your reader to not only connect with you and the character but will show how you felt when reading a piece or spending time with the person you are writing about.

This type of writing only requires you to give a brief glimpse of the individual. When you are preparing to write make a list of the traits or details you want to include. It is possible to assign the number of traits equal to the # of paragraphs or supporting topics needed.  Or you can categorize the subjects into a broader spectrum which allows you to have multiple supporting points for each topic.  It is always best to outline your writing material first so you have a good idea what you are writing.

Your outline should include descriptions on the following details:

°  Tell about their physical features. ( hair color, height, etc.)

°  Tell about the character’s personality. ( are they funny, serious, quiet, etc.?)

°  Their  likes or dislikes( What you know about their preferences and why?)

°  Talk about their family ( siblings, family history, etc)

°  What are their  beliefs or  hobbies?

°  Include anything that makes us see “who” they are.

°  What do you like or dislike about them?

°  Why are you drawn to them?

drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com
drawing by Michelle Rene Goodhew at http://michellerenegoodhew.com

Here is a sample outline for you to follow. It is a basic 5 paragraph ( approximately 500 wd essay outline)  Feel free to take this and make it your own or make your own outline using this a s a guide.

 

  1. Introduction:

This section will introduce the character and is typically the 1stparagraph in  your paper.  It should include the following:

  • Your thesis statement ( the overall theme of the paper or the main idea of what you are writing) . The Thesis statement should  include the most  important character traits.
  • The subtopics ( these become the topic sentence in your body paragraphs) should be included in this paragraph as well. For example: use 1 – 2 sentences to list the traits that you are going to talk about. End with a transition sentence that ties into the 2nd paragraph.
  1. Body:

This is paragraphs 2-4 or the in between paragraphs. The body comes between the Introduction and the Conclusion. These paragraphs detail the traits listed as the subtopics from the Introduction. Those subtopics should be the topic sentences in each body paragraph.

  • Always try to include the most important trait 1st, the second most important detail next, and so on.  Each paragraph has 1 trait which is discussed in detail. Include information  about experiences that support the trait which is being discussed.
    • Remember!  You want to pull your reader in so include details that will connect them to your main character.

   III.            Conclusion:

This is the last paragraph in your paper. Try to conclude with a final comment, pointed and well-expressed, that highlights the traits discussed in the paper.

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Remind the reader of your most important points.
  • Close with a solid statement which finalizes all you are trying to communicate to the reader.
Brandy copy small
by artist Michelle Rene Goodhew http://michellerenegoodhew.com

Another Approach Recommended by Most Editors

 Who is your character physically?

Physical characteristics are the first things we notice when we meet someone. Therefore, this is a good starting point when writing a character sketch. Is your character a woman or a man? Is he or she tall or short? Is your character bald? How old is your character? Does he or she have a disability?

Authors, eager to explore the in-depth psychology of their written subjects, might discount these details as unimportant and base. But it is often these very details that lead to conflict or are the means through which we explore a character’s psychology. As an example of this, we recommend reading Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People; in this short story, the physical details of the main character are representations of her internal state. Without a vivid description of this character’s physicality, a critical dimension of the plot would be lost and the central conflict would be nonexistent. Answering questions about your character’s physicality is the first step in creating a fully realized character.

What is your character doing?

This is the next question to ask because it brings into account other aspects of story writing such as setting and time. The answer to this question will also affect other aspects of your sketch, such as what your character is wearing or how he or she is feeling. Is your character walking down the street? Is he or she sitting in a park? Is your character working on a boat? Asking what your character is doing will not only help you understand your character, but also his or her relationship to the setting in your story.

Authors may be tempted to gloss over this part of characterization. When asked what his or her character is doing, an author might give a cursory answer; he or she may answer that the subject is at the movies, for example. But consider all that there is to do at a movie theatre: Is the character waiting in line for tickets or at the concession stand? Is he or she waiting to talk to the manager? Perhaps the character is sitting impatiently waiting for the movie to begin. Getting as specific as you can when answering this question will not only help you define your character, but will also help to define the other elements of fiction.

What is your character feeling?

This is probably one of the more complex questions you can ask about your character. Is your character angry? Is he or she happy, sad, tired, or depressed? Does your character love something or someone? Asking questions about your character’s emotional life might evolve into the production of a character history. While this may be tempting, you have to focus on what your subject is feeling within the context of the story you are writing. Although the answers to these questions are important, they are rarely explicitly stated in the story.

Authors may be tempted to start with the emotional or psychological state of their characters and they may even explicitly state them. This can lead to one of the cardinal sins of fiction writing: telling instead of showing. Implicitly showing how your character is feeling by his or her interactions with other characters or the setting is infinitely more interesting to read than explicitly stating whether your character is happy, sad, elated, joyful, or miserable.

Remember a good paragraph is 3-7 sentences. All sentences need to have a subject and a predicate. They should be a complete thought. Utilize tools of dress up in your writing. ie: quality adjectives, strong verbs, adverbs, prepositions, adverbial and or adjectival clauses etc. Write your rough draft and then walk away for at least a day or two. Then go back with FRESH eyes and re-read it.

The Characters by Michelle Rene Goodhew
by artist Michelle Rene Goodhew http://michellerenegoodhew.com

Sources:

http://www.journeysingrace.com/home-education/lesson-plans/literature/how-to-write-a-character-sketch/

http://www.scribendi.com/advice/how_to_write_a_character_sketch.en.html