Friday, October 31, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins (If You're a First Chapter)

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes an updated look at first chapter sins, dedicated to everyone starting a NaNo first chapter Saturday morning. 

The one benefit to first chapters being the most-read of all chapters (even if we decide we don't like the book we at least read the beginning), is that there's a lot of data on what works and what doesn't out there. If we get stuck or we know something is off and don't know what, there's bound to be multiple articles written to help up solve the puzzle and get back on track.

One such article is about seven reasons agents stop reading your first chapter,  sent to me by a friend several years ago. It's a great breakdown of common problems, so let's look at those reasons and explore ways to fix them. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Media Kits - Easy as 1.2.3.

By S.R. Johannes, @srjohannes

Part of the Indie Authors Series 

Every author needs a media kit or press kit.

A media kit should be information for a variety of different audiences. It should get someone up to speed about you and your book in just a few clicks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Using Layers to Pre-Write Your Scenes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Like thousands of other writers, I'm gearing up for NaNo, and this year, and I'm doing a lot more prep work to maximize my writing time during November. I've always been a planner, but I enjoy a loose outline that still allows for a lot of spontaneity.

Not this year.

This year, I'm trying something a little different.

I'm writing a much more detailed summary of every scene before I write it to work out all the snags and bumps ahead of time. I'm still leaving room for the story to develop organically, but I want to know what the scene is going to cover so I'm not sitting there staring at the screen trying to figure it all out when I should be writing (Let's say I was inspired by Rachel Aaron).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Switching from Adult to Young Adult

By Gail Carriger, @gailcarriger

Part of the How They Do It Series

Writers are readers too, and most of us enjoy reading in multiple genres and markets. It's no surprise that many of us also like to write in multiple genres and markets. Please help me welcome Gail Carriger to the lecture hall today, to share some insights on making the switch from writing for adults to writing for young adults.

Gail Carriger writes comedic steampunk mixed with urbane fantasy. Her Parasol Protectorate books, their manga adaptations, and the first two books in her YA Finishing School series about Victorian girl spies were all NYT bestsellers. She also successfully kickstarted and produced a full cast audio adaptation of her YA sci-fi Crudrat. Her newest book, Waistcoats & Weaponry is out November 4th. She was once a professional archaeologist and is overly fond of tea. She also has a ridiculously silly newsletter, The Monthly Chirrup. You can find out more about Gail's books at

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Gail...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Real Life Diagnostics: Bringing Out the Emotion in First Person POV

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 blog. 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 November 7.

This week’s questions:

Does this point of view fit the story? Is the main character someone you can feel sympathetic for? Does this make you wonder who stabbed him (and why), and why the sentries are so feared? Can you get a sense of the panic he's facing (such as him thinking short thoughts, worrying about something not that important, etc.) Most of all, does it make you want to read on?

Market/Genre: Young adult

On to the diagnosis…

Friday, October 24, 2014

Clarifying Thoughts: Revising Your Outlines to Make the Writing Easier

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week's Refresher Friday takes another look at revising your outline (now with helpful links!), in honor of those who are in the final frenzied planning stages for NaNo. Enjoy!

We talk a lot about revising our prose, but what about revising our outlines? Refining your story ideas and general plot breakdown in the outline stage can get a lot of the "first ideas" down on paper and leave you fresh to be more creative--and original--during the actual first draft.

After you've finished your outline, try reading through it and adding any ideas that pop into your head. Snippets of dialog, a great way to end a scene, an important tidbit that would be perfect for that chapter. Let your mind wander and whatever hits you, write it down. Go ahead and brainstorm on paper.

Once you're happy with your general story, check to see if the narrative is flowing. Some details you won't have yet (and that's okay) but look for the underlying structure of the novel. Ask yourself:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Reviews, or How to Hide the Bodies

By Dario Ciriello

Part of the Indie Author Series

Any author who’s been following the bizarre Kathleen Hale review-stalkergate dustup may, like myself, be wondering whether we might be better off never looking at a review of our work again. In fact, multiple award-winning editor/author Gardner Dozois told the Clarion West class I was in a dozen years ago not to pay attention to reviews; another famous author I know never reads any reviews of his work, not even the mainstream ones by professional reviewers and critics. Not even the good ones.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pick Six: The Character Creation Game

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

My monthly post is up over at Pub(lishing) Crawl today. I've created a fun game to create characters based on the Five Personality Traits we talked about Monday. I had such a blast just doing the examples that now I want to write a book based on that character. I'll have to see if I can slip them into an existing story. Maybe Bob and the Zombies? Hmmm....

Anyway, come on over and play, and share your random characters!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Finding Rhythm and Voice for a Beginning that Sings

By Karina Sumner-Smith, @ksumnersmith

Part of the How They Do It Series

Starting a novel can be a scary time, especially if things aren't going well or you get off to a slow start. There are things you can do to shake up the muse and find the spark to get your opening working again. Karina Sumner-Smith visits the lecture hall today to share a few tips to make your beginning sing.

Karina Sumner-Smith is a fantasy author and freelance writer. Her debut novel, Radiant, was published by Talos/Skyhorse in September 2014, with the second and third books in the trilogy to follow in 2015. Prior to focusing on novel-length work, Karina published a range of fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories, including Nebula Award nominated story “An End to All Things,” and ultra-short story “When the Zombies Win,” which appeared in two Best of the Year anthologies. Visit her online at

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Take it away Karina...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Traits to Help You Create Your Character's Personality

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Creating a character is more than choosing a name and physical details. Who they are and how they act plays a much stronger role in how a novel unfolds. There are dozens of ways to develop the inner depths of a character, and one way is by understanding their personality.

Psychologists over the last sixty years have broken personality down into five traits that determine a person's personality, which influences how that person interacts with the world. These traits can be beneficial to determining how your character might interact with your story world.