How to write a book

rules to better dialogue

#ThrowbackThursday

Today’s #ThrowbackThursday’s blog is taken from October 2017’s #AuthorToolboxBloghop and gives us the 8 rules for better dialogue. To read this month’s #AuthorToolboxBloghop blog on the dreaded passive voice, go here.

8 Rules for better dialogue

Rules for better dialogue

One way to make your characters memorable, is to give them better dialogue. Click To Tweet

One way to make your characters memorable, is to give them better dialogue.

Continue reading 8 Rules for Better Dialogue #ThrowbackThursday

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The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, including how to outline your novel

“O” is for outline in today’s #ThrowbackThursday

The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, including how to outline your novel

The Plot Thickens

“O” is for outline is lifted from 2017’s AtoZChallenge.

I’m borrowing content for today’s subject of how to outline a book from The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel, a book I and a writing partner published about plotting.

IT’S TIME TO PUT SOME of these lessons into practice, and outline your story. I’m a big fan of outlining; it helps me stay organized and focused, and keeps me drifting off subject.

Your outline should be a living, breathing document, able to change as inspiration and your characters take you in new directions.

You’re going to spend a lot of time on your outline, tweaking it until order starts to take shape. Don’t be discouraged; it’s all worth it in the end.

First, brainstorm the heck out of your story. Nothing is off limits, nothing is a stupid idea. Write down all the elements you want to appear in your novel—the characters, their situations, the setting. Once you feel you’ve exhausted your imagination, start funneling your ideas into something more manageable by writing a summary, an abbreviated version of the main body of work.

Your outline should be a living, breathing document, able to change as inspiration and your characters take you in new directions.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

Some of the things to consider:

  • Who is your main character? What happened in his back-story to shape him and prepare him for his challenge? Some authors make a complete character sketch for their major players. Some choose pictures, write bios, or create a vision board. Use whatever you’re most comfortable with to get a handle on your characters.
  • What conflicts will they face in the novel and how will they solve them? Remember, their problems will move the story.
  • What are their motivations to accept the challenges they’ve been presented?
  • What are they trying to achieve (their goals)? Their goals, motivations and conflicts should be internal as well as external.
  • Build your fictional world through setting.

Now list the plot points, the major milestones your character has to experience to get him to the end of the story. Use the Hero’s Journey section of this book to define them.

These plot points will become your scenes. Each scene must have a purpose. Something has to happen which drives the story forward. It will produce a change molded by conflict.

Summarize each scene in a few sentences. Use index cards, Post-Its, an Excel spreadsheet or (my favorite) Scrivener, to organize them.

Elements of a scene:

  • Who is in the scene?
  • Where does it take place?
  • Whose point of view is used?
  • Do the decisions made by the character move him closer or further from his goal?

Do your subplots tie into the main story?

Does your character suffer and grow and change until he can’t go back to the way he was at the story’s beginning?

You probably have an idea of how long you want your novel to be. Using the three or four act structure, break your estimated word count into the appropriate sections. Place your “must-have” scenes where you think they should fit in the overall structure. Take a step back.

Believe it or not, you’ve outlined your novel! Don’t be surprised if you deviate from it. Characters have a habit of taking over, but you’re in the driver’s seat!

Congratulate yourself and start writing!

Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge* will focus on the letter “P”.

#AtoZChallenge

 

 

 

Blessings until then,

Cheryl

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Twilight, Arizona supernatural short stories

Lessons learned in the 2018 #AtoZChallenge

This year, I participated in the #AtoZChallenge for the second time. Last year, I jumped on the bandwagon days before it started and scrambled to post all twenty-six articles. In 2018 I approached #AtoZ as a project. Here are some lessons learned:

1. Lesson learned: Have a plan

Lessons learned in 2018 AtoZChallenge. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

In 2017, in a panic, I wrote about what I knew—writing and book marketing. This time, I took an idea, the unexpected, unexplained antics of a bunch of retirees, and fleshed them into twenty-six stories. Characters crossed over into each other’s stories or reappeared from earlier stories. I strove to attain stories that could be read separately or as a collection.

2. Lesson learned: Start early

Part of my plan included a timeline. Lessons learned in 2017 taught me to allow plenty of time to write the stories. Starting in January, I wrote five stories every two weeks and shot them to my alpha reader for feedback. The last two weekends in March, I edited the stories, formatted them, added images, checked SEO, introductory matter, and ending matter, including links to previous posts. By April 2nd, the date of the first post, the posts were scheduled and ready to go live on their prospective dates.

3.Lesson learned:  Read, comment, share

Part of the fun (and challenge) of #AtoZ is to read as many other posts as possible by other participants. For the most part, I stuck with the #BlogchatterA2Z list. I didn’t visit every blog by every member (more than 60 listed per day) but I tried to spread out my reading time.

Comment. Commenting on each blog I visited validates the blogger’s time and effort. Be kind. Leave a comment.

How to use Facebook Groups to connect with customers

Sharing. Sharing other’s posts on social media is an objective and a perk to participating in the challenge. You might only have X followers, but someone sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and other venues might have XX followers. My Twitter followers increased by 50 in April.

4.Lesson learned:  Respond to comments on your blog

It’s common courtesy to thank your visitors for their comments. Even if they don’t check the box to see any further comments, others will see your answers and know you’re paying attention. Be human. Be nice. Thank your visitors. Make the answers personal.

5. Lesson learned: Promote your blogs

Remember the images I created in Step 1? I threw them into a file along with the one sentence teaser introducing each story. Every morning, I posted both onto my social media as well as theblogchatter.com page dedicated to the day’s posts. I also used scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to ensure the posts showed up later in the day.

I learned how to make an Adobe Spark video and posted it several times. Pretty proud of myself!

6. Lesson learned: Take advantage of the opportunity

At the conclusion of the challenge, #Blogchatter offers anyone a chance to turn their blogs into an ebook. (It doesn’t have to be the #AtoZ blogs, either. It can be any ebook). In exchange, #Blogchatter will answer questions, offer mentors, and guide writers through the process. They will host a free download of the book on their site for two months (the book cannot be offered through any other distributor) and they will promote it for you.

I took advantage of their offer in 2017. This year, because I did so much work upfront, I collected and published the collection on Amazon for 99¢

Twilight, Arizona supernatural short stories

See the bold phrase up above? Offer mentors? #Blogchatter asked if I would like to mentor this year’s ebook authors, guiding them through the process of publishing their works. Of course, I said yes!

On April 15th, I took part in #AMACarnival, a live Twitter chat, and answered questions from new writers.

On April 27th, I took part in a live Facebook chat.

I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring, but I’m excited about sharing what I know about writing and publishing with others. If only someone had been around back in 19XX when I started!

7. Lesson learned: Look to the future

Don’t be like millions of Americans who are surprised when Christmas rolls around each year and they don’t have any money saved. Look to the future. Toss around some ideas about what to write about in #AtoZChallenge2019.

I had a great time, read a bunch of amazing posts, and plan on being part of #AtoZChallenge2019. Thank you #BlogchatterA2Z and all your writers!

Blessings until my next post,

Cheryl

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