Friday, July 29

Fiction University Has its Own Facebook Page!

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It's long overdue, but you can now follow Fiction University on Facebook. You'll find all the daily articles, plus great posts and news from the Faculty, as well as interesting writing and publishing information and articles from around the web.

Come on over and say hello!

Thursday, July 28

Finding Your Audience Part Three - Create Your Own Community

By Angela Quarles, @AngelaQuarles

Part of the Indie Author Series

In the first post of this series on Finding Your Audience, I talked about the pre-release steps you can take to find your audience. Last month I tackled one aspect you can do to find your audience after you're published: building relationships and creating reader lures. In that post I mentioned that I'd tackle the second part of building relationships in this post -- create your own community.

Sometimes it can be tough finding your "reader tribe" already in existence, so one thing you can do is create this tribe.

Wednesday, July 27

Three Words That Are Killing Your Manuscript

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

There are no bad words in writing, but there are some that like to hang around with unsavory prose and encourage us to be lazy writers. They want us to take shortcuts, expect our readers to know what we meant to say, and whisper in our ears that the rest of our writing isn’t good enough to get our ideas across.

It’s not their fault, they just want to be helpful, but they don’t realize that good writing comes from strong words, not shortcuts and half measures. They have no idea they're killing your manuscript and mucking up your story. Sometimes they step up and do their job, but more often than not, revising to eliminate them from your manuscript is best for everyone.

Tuesday, July 26

Once More, With Feeling: Writing Emotionally Strong Characters

By Bonnie Randall 

Part of the How They Do It Series (Monthly Contributor)

I recently finished reading an excellent novel; the setting was unusual and drawn with such authentic detail I was captivated. The mystery was just the right shade of murky, and the atmosphere! Wow. I am sure I have never read a book that was able to stay within such a dark and dismal tone from wire to wire. It was so well done that I was shocked, actually, at how the protagonist completely lost me. Deeply flawed and saddled with (atypical) horrors from her past, this character struggled through every situation and I wanted, so badly, to root for her, but…she had one range of emotion: dreary. She was dreary when she worked. Dreary when she discovered clues. Dreary when other characters tried—valiantly—to befriend her. She was dreary when she made love.

Monday, July 25

Do You Want to Write Better Fiction?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Then I've got some good news to share with you. To celebrate the release of my newest writing books (the Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel, and Understanding Show, Don't Tell), I'm heading out into the virtual world on the Better Fiction Blog Tour! August 1 kicks off the start of three crazy months, three book launches, and three chances to win a ten-page critique from me.

During the tour, I'll be talking about plotting and developing a novel and turning your idea into solid story, ways to revise a novel and turn your first draft into a finished draft, and how to spot, avoid, and fix those pesky show don't tell problems. Each tour leg will also share excerpts and exercises from one of the books, and offer a critique giveaway.

Sunday, July 24

Writing Prompt: The Chain Story: Quite the Delay

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt is a chain story! I’ll give you the first line, and someone else comments and builds off that line. Next commenter will build off that line, and so on.

In the event of two commenters posting at the same time and sending the story in different directions, just pick the line you like best, or try to incorporate both if you can.

The flight was delayed and no one would say why.

Let the fun begin.

Saturday, July 23

Real Life Diagnostics: Trust Your Reader and Show Your Scenes

Critique By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.

Submissions currently in the queue: Two 

Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through August 6.

This week’s questions:

1. Does the mini-prologue work, or would it be better to start with the next segment (which goes on to explain how she selected the target and executed the kill plan) and end with this snippet of the man's demise?

2. Is there too much "tell" in the opening?

3. Does mentioning her reason for killing come too early and give-away her motive?

4. Is there enough tension?

5. Would this beginning entice you to read more?

Market/Genre: Thriller

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, July 22

How to Write (and Not to Write) an Author Bio

By Gail Carriger, @gailcarriger 

Part of the How They Do It Series

I still have readers who tell me they purchased my first book because they liked the bio. Sure, the cover got them to pick it up, and the description got them intrigued, but they bought it because of the bio. I think this is uncommon. I took a risk with my bio and it worked.

But first, here's what most authors do...

Thursday, July 21

Writing to Market: What Is It and Should You Try It?

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy 

Part of the Indie Author Series

For decades, traditional publishing wisdom has said don’t chase trends. It made sense. A book in traditional publishing usually takes two years or more from finished draft to for sale. By the time a traditionally published book hits the market, whatever trend the writer was chasing is long gone.

But, as indies, one of our major advantages is that we’re quick and agile. In many ways, we’re only limited by how fast we can write and find slots with our chosen editors and cover designers. Because of this, self-published authors have an option that traditionally published authors don’t. We can experiment with writing to market.

Wednesday, July 20

You Spin Me Round: Making Clichés Work for You

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I've been knocked flat by a nasty cold for a week now, so please enjoy this visit to the archives for another look at using clichés. With luck (and a lot of chicken soup and NyQuil), I'll be back on my feet and at the keyboard soon. 

One of my favorite writing T-shirts says “I avoid clichés like the plague.” But clichés are so ingrained in our day-to-day lives that it’s hard to eliminate them completely from our writing. For me, the more casual the situation, the more often I use them. (You’ll see them a lot more on the blog than in my books, for example.)

Clichés are not bad. (Didn’t expect that, did you?) They’re cultural shorthand to convey an idea. However, it’s this ease of communication that makes them undesirable in our writing. We’re writers. We’re supposed to be original. Using something that’s been used "for ages" is taking the lazy way out and making the reader do the work. Even worse, because clichés are so culturally known, readers aren’t surprised by them. How many TV/movie plots have you ever figured out right away because of the clichés used? I’d guess a lot.