Tuesday, February 19

Author Solutions: The New Carnys?

I love carnivals and respect the hardworking folk who run them, but ever since I read Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz I've associated the word "carny" with "benign shyster". Like Vegas, no matter what you do, the house always wins.

We accept this if we gamble, but would feel quite differently if the guy who came to fix our refrigerator sold us parts we didn't need and inflated what would have been a $400 charge into a $4,000 one.

That's not cool.

Here's the definition of fraud, courtesy of Google:
  1. Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
  2. A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
I'm not a lawyer, but I've often marveled that at a time when traditional publishing houses are closing their doors forever, Author Solutions isn't just surviving, it's thriving.

Author Solutions: Why It Should Be Called 'Author Problems'

Recall that Pearson, Penguin's parent company, bought Author Solutions in 2012 for $116 million. Why did Penguin buy Author Solutions? I'll let David Gaughran explain:
What does Author Solutions bring to the table? Well, for starters, around $100m in annual revenue. Roughly two-thirds of that money comes from the sale of services to writers, and only one-third from the royalties generated by the sale of their books.

Pause for a moment and consider that statistic. Penguin isn’t purchasing a company which provides real value to writers. They are purchasing an operation skilled at milking writers.
That's right. Author Solutions makes most of its money not from selling books but from selling services to authors.

Here's an example of what this means for authors.

Jean Rikhoff's Experiences With iUniverse, a subsidiary of Author Solutions

Jean Rikhoff is a celebrated writer (see Jean Rikhoff's Wikipedia entry).
Jean Rikhoff has written seven novels and two young adult biographies, collaborated on two anthologies, and founded "Quixote" an Anglo-American literary review. She also helped found The Loft Press, taught English, and served as an English department chair at Adirondack Community College. Rikhoff, now retired, lives in Upstate New York. (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: A Memoir)
 Here are a list of Jean's formal complains against iUniverse:
- iUniverse assured her they could embed the pictures she wanted included in her book. They gave her a contract and took her money, but later told her their machines were not able to print her books as she had requested.

- Once Jean was turned over to the editorial staff at iUniverse, she received numerous phone calls about services not covered under her initial package. They told her she would want to take them because she had been awarded Editor’s Choice, a tactic Jean charmingly refers to as a “buttering up for the skinning.”

- Jean was sold copy editing services from iUniverse that she was told would cost close to $400. She agreed, and her credit card was charged $3,794.33. She disputed the charges with her credit card company.

- She went over the “editing” iUniverse provided and found more than 100 errors.

- Jean attempted to get resolution for her issues, but iUniverse employees stopped responding to her. She emailed at least four different employees. Finally someone named Joseph said he couldn’t help, but he’d try to get someone who could. Her original contact was gone, there was a “reorganization” within the company.

- Jean eventually got a final proof that was riddled with formatting problems and copyediting errors, even though they’d charged her nearly $4,000 for editorial review. When she complained, the response from iUniverse was, “The designers do not go page by page looking at the formatting.”

- Jean got one softcover and one hardcover book; she never received the remaining author copies she paid for as part of her initial publishing package.

- They spelled her name wrong on the jacket, despite her correcting this on the proof numerous times.

- Royalties were never paid. (Jean Rikhoff Takes iUniverse & Author Solutions Complaints to Indiana Attorney General)
That's an impressive list! Jean was told editing would cost her $400 and then iUniverse charged her $4000, wow. That's incredible.

David Gaughran reminds us that over 150,000 writers have suffered at the hands of Author Solutions and that number is sure to grow now that Penguin has given them a patina of respectability.

DG points out, though, it's not just Penguin who seems comfortable with Author Solutions' business practises.
Presumably Random House has no issue with Author Solutions, given that they are merging with Penguin, and operations are expanding.

Simon & Schuster must feel the same way, given that they hired Author Solutions to run their own self-publishing operation, as did Harlequin, Hay House, and Harper Collins-owned Thomas Nelson.

That’s four of the “Big Six” involved with Author Solutions in some form or another – along with the biggest Romance publisher in the world.
And now Author Solutions is expanding into India (see: Penguin India Launches Partridge – a Self-Publishing Service for Suckers). 

Buyer--or in this case writer--beware.
Have you, or anyone you know, had business dealings with Author Solutions? If so, was the experience positive?

Other articles you might like:

- Structured Procrastination: Procrastinate And Get Things Done
- Joanna Penn's Tips For Writing Realisitic Fight Scenes
- Story Craft: Five Important Questions

Photo credit: "'Children's Carnival' - Paul Landacre - Wood Engraving - 1946" by Thomas Shahan 3 under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Structured Procrastination: Procrastinate And Get Things Done

Writers are often world-class procrastinators. Rather than writing now, we write later. The good news is that you can be a world-class procrastinator and still get things done.

John Perry writes:
[T]he procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.
.  .  .  .
Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being.

At this point you may be asking, "How about the important tasks at the top of the list, that one never does?" Admittedly, there is a potential problem here.

The trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list. The ideal sorts of things have two characteristics, First, they seem to have clear deadlines (but really don't). Second, they seem awfully important (but really aren't). Luckily, life abounds with such tasks. In universities the vast majority of tasks fall into this category, and I'm sure the same is true for most other large institutions.
To learn more, read Structured Procrastination.

Other articles you might like:

- Story Craft: Five Important Questions
- Joe Konrath Made $15,000 dollars over 7 days using Amazon Select
- Screenwriting Software: Adobe Story

Photo credit: "¿¿¿???" by Luz Adriana Villa A. under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, February 18

Joanna Penn's Tips For Writing Realisitic Fight Scenes

All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.

Tips For Writing Realistic Fight Scenes

Jarrah Loh is an international kickboxer and here are his tips for writing realistic fight scenes:
(1) Watch some fights, not just movies. Jarrah does recommend UFC as the closest to a street fight.

(2) Go get in a fight – but in a controlled environment, for example, a martial arts class. You will be shocked by how you feel. I mention that I went to a Krav Maga class (as Morgan Sierra, my protagonist, is ex-Israeli military). They kicked my ass and it took me days to recover!

(3) Don’t explain the fight too much, but describe the heat and fury and emotion of a fight rather than the exact physical movements. Keep the pace moving.

Gender differences in fighting. UFC are just introducing a women’s division and there are women fighters. Jarrah explains that the female fighters he knows have a lot of self confidence, for example, Bec ‘Rowdy’ Hyatt, has 2 children and went from overweight to a champion fighter who turned her life around with martial arts.
To read the rest of Jarrah's tips click here: On Violence And Writing Fight Scenes With Jarrah Loh

Other articles you might like:

- Story Craft: Five Important Questions
- Roleplaying Games, Writing, And The Creation Of Magical Systems
- How to record an audiobook at home

Photo credit: "Devotion" by Bert Kaufmann under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Story Craft: Five Important Questions

The most useful advice I've ever read was Stephen King's admonishment in On Writing that, above all else, one's writing must be clear.

But how can we cash this out? How can we ensure that our writing paints a vivid picture?

C.S. Lakin, in her recent article, 5 Key Questions to Ask as You Write Your Novel, talks about the importance of asking questions.

Questions Create Story

Why are questions important? C.S. Lakin replies: because questions create story. After all, what is a novel except one huge "what if" question?

Here are 5 questions that C.S. Lakin asks whenever she writes a novel.

1. Where is the scene taking place?

One thing I love about Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series are his descriptions. I don't think I've ever had the feeling of being 'blind' when reading about one of Harry's adventures. The first time JB takes us to a new location we get a detailed description, after that a few well-chosen words suffice to reorient/remind us where we are.

Don't forget to include smells, sounds, textures, and so on, in your description.

I find that doing a short warm-up exercise before I begin writing for the day can help put me in the right frame of mind. I try and describe a place using information from at least 3 senses.

2. How much time has passed?

Whenever a change of place occurs so does a change of scene, but a change of place often coincides with a time jump as well. Make sure it's clear whether 5 minutes or 5 days have elapsed.

3. What is your character feeling?

The goal of writing--at least, why I write--is to entertain. In order to entertain readers with a story they need to care about the characters our story is about. How do we accomplish this? By showing the reader our character's emotions.

Yes, absolutely, the characters thoughts are important, but we need to know how story events affect our characters emotionally.

Think of the last movie you saw. How many times was the main character afraid? Worried? Happy? Vengeful?

Let me put it another way. Why would your readers care about the antagonist's eventual defeat (or victory) if the main character doesn't seem to?

Show what your character is feeling, show their reactions.

C.S. Lakin writes:
For every important moment, your character needs to react. First viscerally, then emotionally, then physically and finally, intellectually. Often a writer will show a character reacting with deep thought about a situation, when their first natural reactions are missing.

If you get hit by a car, you aren’t going to first think logically about what happened and what you need to do next. First, you scream or your body slams against the sidewalk and pain streaks through your back.

Keep this adage in mind: for every action, there should be an appropriate, immediate reaction. That’s how you reveal character.

4. What is the point of the scene?

How does this scene move the story forward?

Your point of view character has a goal. Chances are, they're not going to accomplish this goal, or if they do, they'll have to defeat various obstacles in their way. If the protagonist never has to struggle to get what he wants we aren't going to care very much when he,  eventually, gets it (or fails to).

We need to see character under stress, we need to see them improvising, scheming, hoping, developing other ways to achieve what they want, a way that might not work.

A terrific example of the hero being blocked and improvising ("Yes, but .../No, and") happens in Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark: 
Conflict: Do Indie and Marion survive the pit of snakes?
Setback: Yes, they use torches to keep the snakes at bay BUT the torches are about to burn out.

Conflict: Do Indie and Marion escape the pit of snakes before their torches burn out?
Setback: Yes, Indie crashes a pillar through a wall providing them a way to escape BUT the room they enter is filled with skeletons that--for Marion at least--seem to come alive.

Conflict: Will Indie and Marion escape from the ancient burial vault they've been entombed in?
Setback: Yes, BUT the bad guys have the ark and Indie needs to get it back. (Making A Scene: Using Conflicts And Setbacks To Create Narrative Drive).
Bottom line: If the point-of-view character doesn't have a goal, or the goal is unrelated to the story goal, then the scene can't move the narrative forward.

5. What is your protagonist's main external goal?

Your protagonist needs a goal. No goal, no story.

The protagonist's goal will likely change over the course of the story. For instance, Mitch McDeere's goal in The Firm changes midway through from making partner at of Bendini, Lambert & Locke to staying free and not getting disbarred.

C.S. Lakin writes:
That goal [the protagonist's main external goal] should drive the story and be the underpinning for all your scenes. That goal is the glue that holds your novel together. It may not be a ‘huge’ goal, and in the end your character may even fail to reach that goal—you’re the writer; you decide. But have a goal.
These aren't the only questions to ask, there are many, many, more. One book I find immensely useful is Donald Maass' Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook. For instance, here are the questions at the end of his first chapter:
Step 1: Who are your personal heroes? Write down the name of one.
Step 2: What makes this person a hero or heroine to you? What is his or her greatest heroic quality? Write that down.
Step 3: What was the moment in time in which you first became aware of this quality in your hero/heroine? Write that down.
Step 4: Assign that quality to your protagonist. Find a way for he or she actively to demonstrate that quality, even in a small way, in his or her first scene. Make notes, starting now.
When you write, what questions do you ask yourself about each scene?

Other articles you might like:

- Joe Konrath Made $15,000 dollars over 7 days using Amazon Select
- Screenwriting Software: Adobe Story
- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know

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Sunday, February 17

Joe Konrath Made $15,000 dollars over 7 days using Amazon Select

It looks like Joe Konrath has returned to blogging. And what a return! He writes:
In the past seven days, on Kindle, I've made about $15k. I currently have two ebooks in the Top 100 Free list--the same ebooks I blogged about two days ago. Dirty Martini and Trapped are #3 and #4, and Tiemcaster will hit Top 100 later today. I also blogged about four other ebooks by my friends Barry Eisler and Blake Crouch. Both of Barry's ebooks hit the Top 100, peaking at #3. One of Blake's did, and it is still #1 in the UK.

In the past 60 hours, I've sold 2200 ebooks in the US, and had over 400 borrows.


I have a hypothesis.
Here's Joe's Hypothesis: All things being equal, when you're looking for a book "You're going to take what is right in front of you, currently under your nose". He writes:
I have no doubt that bestselling authors have a lot of fans. But it's one thing waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out, and its another seeing the latest Patterson on the new Release table and picking it up because it is there.

I'm not knocking Patterson. The guy is a genius, on several levels. But how many fans have read every Patterson book vs. every Potter book?

Joe Konrath's Secret For Selling $15,000 in 7 days

Joe attributes his huge bump in sales to Amazon KDP Select. He writes:
So what am I doing differently? I have no new releases out. Yes, I self-pubbed my Jack Daniels series for less money than my previous publisher had, but during the first few days those sales were steady, not explosive like they've been.

What's changed has been making titles free using the Kindle Select program.

To wit: there are millions of people with Kindles, and the majority of them haven't heard of me, haven't come across my titles, haven't read me before. So by getting three ebooks on the Top 100 Free list, I am making myself known to them.

I am a tasty, free morsel directly under the nose of hungry readers. And they snatch it up.

Not all will read the free ebooks they download. But I still benefit, because the more ebooks I give away, the higher the bounceback will be on the paid bestseller lists. And when I'm on the paid lists, I'll be seen be those who have never seen me before.

Also, I have a hunch some people are reading the freebies immediately. This is why my sales are booming. A rising tide lifts all boats, and some people snatching up the freebies are also buying some of my other ebooks.

Whiskey Sour is #529. Bloody Mary is #411. Rusty Nail is #1121. Afraid is #586.  Endurance is #1439.

Last week, most of these were ranked at #10,000 or higher.
That's quite a bump!

Joe Konrath's Tips For Independent Authors

Here's Joe's advise for how indie authors can improve their sales:
1. Publish books with Amazon Publishing. They do a lot to announce their ebooks to readers.

2. Use KDP Select to make your ebooks free. I suggest using all five days at once. The more ebooks you give away, the higher the bounceback.

3. Have a lot of IPs. The more ebooks you have available, the more virtual shelf space you take up, the likelier it is for a customer to see one of your titles.

4. Cultivate fans. Have a newsletter, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, so people can follow you and get the announcement when you put something new on sale. But remember this will be supplementary, not primary, and no one will follow you if all you're doing is advertising.

5. Announce via third parties. I found BookBub.com to be effective in helping me give away freebies. So is Pixel of Ink.

6. Keep at it until you get lucky.

I can't stress #6 enough. It is easy to get discouraged with promotion, because it may not get the results you seek. You have to have the right book in the right place at the right time, and cross your fingers.
Publishing books through Amazon KDP Select can be intimidating! You worry about whether folks will hate your work, whether anyone will download it, whether you'll get horrible reviews. Don't forget, though, you can publish anonymously and, even if the whole thing's a disaster, use your failures to hone your writing and publishing skills.

Have you ever published through Amazon KDP Select? If not, has Joe Konrath's experience of making 15 thousand dollars over 7 days through Amazon Select changed your mind about the program?

Other articles you might like:

- Screenwriting Software: Adobe Story
- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know
- Writing A Feel Good Story

Photo credit: "Sloth in the Amazon" by Praziquantel under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Screenwriting Software: Adobe Story

Screenwriting Software: Adobe Story

Adobe Story

Most people I've talked with don't know Adobe has developed Sreenwriting software: Adobe Story. Of course, saying Adobe Story is screenwriting software is a bit like saying a smart phone can make phone calls. The statement is true enough, but it barely scratches the surface.

 Here are a few things Adobe Story can do:

 - Reduce shooting time. Adobe Story works with other Adobe tools--programs such as OnLocation and Premiere Pro--to speed up production time. For instance, Adobe Story can automatically generate shot lists, dialogue, and so on.

- Collaboration. Often more than one person is involved in the creation of a script. Adobe Story allows everyone involved to collaborate online by tagging and tracking whatever changes are made.

This shortish video (7 minutes and 54 seconds) gives a great overview of what the software can do:

Instant Adobe Story Starter by Christopher Tilford

One of the reasons I'm posting about Adobe Story is that Packt Publishing asked me to review Christopher Tilford's book, "Instant Adobe Story Starter" (they sent me a review copy of the book). Although I normally don't do reviews, I have fiddled around with Adobe Story and it seemed like the sort of tool I would want to consider using if I were a screenwriter. That said, I don't know how it compares to other screenwriting programs (for instance, Final Draft or Movie Magic).

As computer programs become increasingly complex I sometimes find myself wishing I had a manual, but these days comprehensive users guides don't come with software programs, you have to buy them separately.

This is where Christopher Tilford's book, Instant Adobe Story Starter, comes in. Christopher has written a nuts and bolts guide to navigating Adobe Story. His book gets right to the point and doesn't include a lot of filler (here's an example).

I feel I should mention that Adobe Story has an online manual that, from what I've been able to see, covers everything that Christopher Tilford does and it's free! (See: Using Adobe Story)

The Bottom Line

I wish I could have been enthusiastic in my endorsement of Instant Adobe Story Starter but the bottom line is that Adobe puts out a free document that covers the same information. That said, Instant Adobe Story Starter isn't a bad book--I would give it three out of five stars--it just needs more original content. I look forward to reading Christopher Tilford's next book.

Have you used a screenwriting program? What did you think of it?

Other articles you might like:

- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know
- Writing A Feel Good Story
- How To Write Short Stories

Photo credit: "With great powers comes great responsability" by Juliana Coutinho under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Friday, February 15

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know

I was going to post an inspirational quotation having to do with writing but then I saw Chuck Wendig's latest Flash Fiction Challenge (Flash Fiction Challenge: Write What You Know) and it was just too good not to post about!

Here's the challenge:
I want you to grab an event from your life. Then I want you to write about it through a fictional, genre interpretation — changing the event from your life to suit the story you’re telling. So, maybe you write about your first hunting trip between father-and-son, but you reinterpret that as a king taking his youngest out to hunt dragons. Or, you take events from your Prom (“I caught my boyfriend cheating on me in the science lab”) and spin it so that the event happens at the same time a slasher killer is making literal mincemeat of the Prom King and Queen.
Length: 1,000 words

Due by: Friday, February 22nd, noon EST.

How to enter: Post your story on your blog or website and leave the link in a comment to Chuck Wendig's post.

Photo credit: "Project 50 - Day #1 (Moleskine)" by seanmcgrath under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Writing A Feel Good Story

Writing A Feel Good Story

Occasionally I set out to write a certain kind of story--a horror story for Halloween, an inspirational feel-good story for Christmas or Valentine's Day--one where I'm interested, above all, in creating a certain kind of emotional response in my readers.

I've been thinking and writing about short story structure lately so, after I read Sophie King's chapter, How To Write Feel-Good Stories or Tug-At-The-Heart Tales, I thought I'd do a post on this.

1. Getting the Idea

Think about the state you are attempting to create in the reader at the end of the story. To help fix this in your mind think of either a real life situation that made you feel good about life in general or think about a movie which made you feel this way.

It's corny, but for me that movie is It's A Wonderful Life (1946) with James Stewart. If I was going to write a feel-good story I would watch that movie again and pay special attention to how the movie accomplished this effect.

2. Topics

You could write a feel-good story about anything but a few topics seem tailor made to bring out the emotions.

- Christmas
- Valentine's Day
- Graduation
- The big game
- Reuniting with a loved one
- Finding Mr. or Ms. Right

3. Conflict: There Are Two Sides To Every Coin

Often the conflict required by a feel-good story is contained in the premise. Here are two examples of what I mean by this.

a) Christmas

Christmas is heart-warming because it's a time for friends and family to renew their friendships, to feel that they are a part of something larger than oneself.

The flip-side of camaraderie, of community, can either be the character's beginning state or what she will face (or fear she will face) if she fails the guest.

b) Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day presents the hope of finding 'The One', the person one fits with, like a key in a lock. The one person, in all the world, who can make like complete.

The flip side of this is the fear that the protagonist has (let's call her Jane) that there is no one for her. Or, more concretely, that when she goes out on a date she'll either meet a creep or, what's worse, someone she thinks could be her special someone but who really just wants to use her for their own ends.

For instance, Jane could met two men, Adam and Darren. One of them, Darren, wants to use Jane for his own ends and he bends over backward to charm her, saying what he thinks she wants him to say regardless whether he means it.

At first Jane can't see through see Darren is being fake. The man who genuinely likes her--Adam--bungles things and makes mistakes.

At the 2/3 point--the All Is Lost or Major Setback plot point--have Darren propose marriage. The reader should know by this time that Darren is the wrong guy. Have Jane accept. At the climax of the story--the 3/4 point--Jane recognizes her mistake and chooses Adam (Mr. Right). Jane and Adam live happily ever after.

4. Make It Universal

Whatever topic you choose to base your story on, make sure the emotions are based on life experiences most people can relate to. Events which mark significant life experiences like a graduation, a wedding, or holidays like Christmas or Valentine's Day. The possibilities are endless.

5. The Test: Is The Mood Right?

When I write a horror story if I'm not even a little bit scared then I know I need to step the tension/conflict up a notch or three. It's the same with feel-good stories. If I don't feel at least a little bit warm and cozy thinking about the ending then I need to ratchet up the conflict. Perhaps this means adjusting the stakes (what the protagonist will win and what they'll lose if they fail), perhaps it means adjusting the characters, making the antagonist a bit more callous, making the good guy or gal just a bit more heroic.

Tomorrow I'll talk more about short stories and their structure.

Have you ever written a feel-good story? Was it a novel or a short story? Did you succeed in eliciting emotion in your readers? If you had it to do over again would you do anything differently?

Other articles you might like:

- How To Write Short Stories
- Fate Core And The Creation Of Magical Worlds
- Roleplaying Games, Writing, And The Creation Of Magical Systems

Photo credit: "Lemon Drops" by LadyDragonflyCC <3 data-blogger-escaped-a="" data-blogger-escaped-amsung="" data-blogger-escaped-canon="" data-blogger-escaped-vs=""> under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Thursday, February 14

How To Write Short Stories

How To Write Short Stories

I've been reading How To Write Short Stories for Magazines--and Get Published! by Sophie King. She gives wonderful tips on how to develop characters so I thought I'd share my notes.

Thumbnail sketch of a character

Goal: give each character a unique voice, something that will make that character stand out in a reader's mind.

In a couple of paragraphs we need to communicate how a character
- thinks
- talks
- behaves
- interacts with other characters

First Layer: Behavioral Quirk

In real life you know people you'd describe as a "character", people who you might not like but who you can't stop thinking about.

Make a list of these people and one quirk that stands out in your mind. For instance:

- A woman who looks in the mirror every time she passes one.
- A person who has a strange voice, either too high and squeaky or too deep.
- A person who is always dropping names.
- Someone who is always telling stories, jokes.

Second Layer: Dialogue: Trademark phrase

Have one or more of your characters overuse a figure of speech. For instance, a character who says "know what I mean?" after each sentence.

Third Layer: Characteristic Mood

For instance, one character might be a worrywart, another might be kind to a fault, and so on. (This is also known as a Trait. See: Tags, Traits and Tells.)

For a list of mood words, click here: Mood Words.

Fourth Layer: Helping Characters

For instance, your main character might take her dog everywhere she goes. It could be small and yappy or huge and friendly (or vice versa). This also creates opportunities for conflict with a character who hates animals.

The helping character doesn't have to be a pet, it could be a child or a needy neighbor, or a moody teen, the possibilities are endless

Number Of Characters

Sophie King advises that in a story of 2,000 words or under to try and keep the number of characters to three or four.

Make sure every character is essential to develop the story

Here's an exercise to help determine if a character is essential to the story:
- List all the characters in the story.
- Beside each character list their role in the story.
- If you took this character out of the story what would you lose? If the answer is 'not much' then cut them or combine them with another character.


Something significant should happen every three or four paragraphs.

- A change of scene
- A character makes a discovery
- Character talks with someone new

Other articles you might like:

- Fate Core And The Creation Of Magical Worlds
- Roleplaying Games, Writing, And The Creation Of Magical Systems
- Analyzing Story Structure

Photo credit: "رقص گلبرگ" by seyed mostafa zamani under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Part of the storytelling ability is simply the anticipation of boredom and the introduction of a sudden surprise

Part of the storytelling ability is simply the anticipation of boredom and the introduction of a sudden surprise, Phillip Lopate
Part of the storytelling ability is simply the anticipation of boredom and the introduction of a sudden surprise. To be a good storyteller you need to have first internalized the audience: that subvocal groan that says, “Okay, get on with it.” Not that you always have to cater to the audience’s expectations: you can cross them up, frustrate them, prolong their tension, though that too can be a way of entertaining them. In any case, you have to be aware of their demands, whether you satisfy them or not.

To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction
I came across this quote on Advice To Writers.

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