The Amazing Angela Ackerman and I are doing a blog swap today, so you can find her here and me over at The Bookshelf Muse sharing some tips on style (from a prose standpoint of course). When you're done here, pop on over and take a peek there and join in the fun. Angela's blog is a treasure trove of information and her extensive thesaurus posts cover everything from emotions, to character traits to settings.
Angela is one half of The Bookshelf Muse duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression. This show-don't-tell brainstorming tool contains lists of body language, thoughts and visceral sensations for seventy-five emotions, ensuring writers will find the right description for any emotional moment.
Take it away Angela...
I tell you, there is probably no more attractive a phrase in the English language than the words above. It doesn’t matter what we do, what industry we’re in...we all want the same thing: to succeed. People will tell you there is no golden monkey, no genie in the Coke can, no magical slurpee. And they’re right. But there is a key to success, and I’m about to give it to you. Are you ready?
Make Your Own Luck.
Yes, that’s right. These four words hold the key to your success. Read them again, and cement them into your brain.
Each of us knows how to work hard at writing. We read, we study, we write. We join critique groups, network and find mentors. This is the biggest part of success. But often hard work alone isn’t enough. We can hang there on the cusp, feel the air vibrating with greatness. Yet it dangles just beyond our fingertips.
This is where we need to do something that many of us don’t like. Something that goes beyond our writerly, keyboard-between-me-and-you selves...move out of our comfort zone. We need to learn to Make Our Own Luck.
It would be nice if Success would be decent enough to slide over an inch or two and meet us, but life doesn’t work like that. So we need to grab it. And how we do that is by filling in the blanks:
If I could ____, then it would help me succeed.
If I could catch the eye of an agent, then it would help me succeed.
If I could build up an audience online, then it would help me succeed.
If I could launch my book well, then it would help me succeed.
Whatever your blank is, instead of thinking that it’s too hard to do, or something out of your control, I want you to remember to Make Your Own Luck.
How can you increase the chances of getting an agent’s attention? We all know there are a billion blog posts on this. Butt in chair, read them, then put everything you have into research, perfecting your query and making sure your manuscript is amazing before sending it out the door. Don’t accept anything less but your very best. This is how you Make Your Own Luck.
How can you build up an audience online? Think about who your audience is for starters. What do they need most? How can you give it to them? Where are they now? Create a list of where your audience can be found and strategize on how you can interact with them in the places they frequent. Then plan a way to bring them to you. This is how you Make Your Own Luck.
How can you market your book well? Think about your target book buyer. Where are they? How can you reach them? How can you think outside the box and catch their eye? What new marketing ideas can you try that will cut through the ennui of Social Media promotion? How can you make people pay attention to your book release over someone else’s? Come up with a plan that is unique, ties in with your book, and do whatever you have to do to create a Break Out Book Launch. Dare to be different. This is how you Make Your Own Luck.
Making Your Own Luck is also about thinking creatively, and taking the “I” out of the equation. Define your gatekeepers. Who is the ambiguous ‘they’ that’s keeping you from success? Whoever it is (agents, competition, publishers, etc.) think about what they need and want. What you can do to be different, better. What will make you stand out. Open your eyes to opportunity, and take advantage of it.
Each of us have something we must face. There are lots of things I hate, situations outside of my comfort zone. Things I would happily avoid...if you know, they weren’t in the way of me making my own luck. For example, I am terrified at the idea of standing in front of a room full of people to present about writing. All this negativity clouds my headspace just thinking about it--who am I to teach anyone about anything? I’m a total poser and everyone will know it! Yet I know that for The Emotion Thesaurus to succeed, I need to reach writers. I need to convey how the book can help them with emotional showing. So...after finding out about a local writing conference, I put myself out there. The result? I’ll be presenting at When Words Collide this August.
And I’m still terrified. But, I’m making my own luck. I hope you will too.
About The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.
Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.
This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.