Writing Fiction: The Easiest Way To Improve Your Writing

Writing Fiction: The Easiest Way To Improve Your Writing

I love writing fiction. It’s a giggle. You get paid to write stories… what’s not to LOVE about that? It’s easy, and it’s profitable too. That said, before you get paid, you need to write, and that’s harder than it needs to be for some authors.

You biggest challenge when writing anything is YOU; that’s especially so with fiction. You try too hard to “write well” and you get blocked.

Trying blocks you. By “blocked”, I mean:

  • Your writing doesn’t flow. It’s stilted. It reads like “writing”;
  • You’re uncomfortable with your characters;
  • Your creative muse has decamped. She’s either on vacation, or has given up on you.

The more you try, the worse it gets.

Here’s the secret: STOP TRYING!

Stop trying: allow the words to flow

You’re telling yourself a story first — forget your readers while you’re writing. Tell the story.

And take this to heart — whatever the problem, YOU CAN FIX IT LATER.

Fix it later: “re-vision”

When you’ve completed your first draft, it’s your chance to revise… to re-vision the material.

Here’s an example of revision and “fixing it later”. About a month ago, I completed the first draft of a romantic suspense novel. I let the material lie for a couple of weeks, so I could approach it with a fresh eye. I wasn’t happy with the emphasis. I decided that I needed more romance, while maintaining the suspense.

I also liked the two main characters far too much. It seemed a shame to limit them to just one novel. I was reluctant to let them go. The heroine was fun, quirky, and frighteningly competent. The hero was gorgeous.

So — re-vision. What if I ended the novel not as a Happily Every After (HEA) but as a Happy For Now (HFN)? With a HFN ending, I could turn the material into a trilogy — two more novels, with these two main characters.

Assuming that the first novel sells, of course… :-) Today, we’re in publishing heaven. You can do what you like. No editor or literary agent can tell you: “Yes, but… that won’t sell.” You can find out for yourself, very quickly, whether something sells or not. When you publish your ebook, readers buy your novel, or they don’t.

I started the rewrite of the novel this morning — I’m having huge fun, and I’m not trying.

I don’t need to try, and neither do you.

Stop trying. Just do… without doing.

Wu Wei: discover how to do… without doing

Wu Wei is the Taoist concept of doing, without doing. Without trying, in other words.

From A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying:

“The advice is as maddening as it is inescapable. It’s the default prescription for any tense situation: a blind date, a speech, a job interview, the first dinner with the potential in-laws. Relax. Act natural. Just be yourself.”

Several years ago, I read Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh. It’s a lovely little book; Hoff discusses Wu Wei. From a blog post by Kathy Gottberg:

“Hoff goes on to say, “When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole.  No stress.  No struggle…Wu Wei doesn’t try.  It doesn’t think about it.  It just does.  And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything.  But Things Get Done.””

Stop trying. Write.

Ebook Dominance: sell more copies of your ebooks, every day

Ebook Dominance: Market and SELL Your Ebooks In Just 15 Minutes A Day

Discover the marketing secrets of bestselling authors — you can market in minutes, from the comfort of your sofa…

How would you feel if your sales doubled, then tripled — and then YOU hit the Kindle hot sellers’ lists?

Ebook Dominance helps you to turbocharge your marketing, and sell more ebooks today.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Ebook Marketing Panic: The Solution

Ebook Marketing Panic: The Solution

You’re writing ebooks, and publishing them. However ebook marketing is a mystery. A huge wave of content streams onto the Web daily, and you know that many thousands of ebooks are published each month. How do you stand out from the crowd and SELL your ebooks?

The rich get richer…

Nowhere is this more true than in ebook marketing. Once you have sales, Amazon will happily promote you, which leads to even more sales.

How do you get those initial sales to kickstart the process? It’s not easy. Time was, you could create a blog and sell, easily. That happy state of affairs ended in 2012, when corporations woke up to the power of the Web. Today, large companies flood the Web with content.

In 2015, small ebook publishers struggle, because for new bloggers, blogging isn’t the sure route to instant sales that it was three years ago. Of course, if you already have a well-established blog, kudos to you. :-)

“My ebook marketing isn’t working…”

Over the past few months, we’ve received daily messages from ebook authors telling us that their ebook marketing isn’t working. Authors are spending more and more time promoting their ebooks; marketing is turning into a full-time job.

Some authors give up ebook marketing altogether — it’s just too hard. They don’t have a strategy, and are confused with their options.

Paying to play works. However, you need to have initial capital, because you’ll need to spend money to see which advertising options work for your ebooks. It’s a challenge to discover where the readers for your ebooks hang out, so you can advertise to them. When you do discover an advertising venue which works, it may well be too expensive to be viable over time.

The 15-minute ebook marketing strategy to help you to sell more ebooks

I developed a 15-minute ebook marketing strategy for those of my personal coaching students who are struggling ebook authors. They’re thrilled with the results.

If you’ve got 15 minutes a day, and want to sell more ebooks, check it out.

Ebook Dominance: sell more copies of your ebooks, every day

Ebook Dominance: Market and SELL Your Ebooks In Just 15 Minutes A Day

Discover the marketing secrets of bestselling authors — you can market in minutes, from the comfort of your sofa…

How would you feel if your sales doubled, then tripled — and then YOU hit the Kindle hot sellers’ lists?

Ebook Dominance helps you to turbocharge your marketing, and sell more ebooks today.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

5 Super-Easy Fiction Writing Tips You Can Use Today

5 Super-Easy Fiction Writing Tips You Can Use Today

Want to write more fiction? You can. Let’s look at some easy fiction writing tips which will help… some of the tips may feel counter-intuitive, but they work.

Write More: 5 Easy Fiction-Writing Tips

To speed through a novel, or short story, you need to have a process.

Here’s a simple process:

  • Create a concept/ basic idea: I use the fast-start process. Try it, it works;
  • Create two characters and their goals. One’s the protagonist; the other’s the antagonist — I think of them as the goodie and the baddie;
  • Plot the major scenes which are the turning points of the story;
  • Write a fast draft;
  • 2nd draft — this is where the real writing happens;
  • Editing.

Plotting happens while you’re writing — we talked about layers. Never miss an opportunity to make your story more exciting.

1. Stop writing when there’s nothing there

You’ve been writing your story, and it’s magic. You wake up excited and eager to get that day’s writing done.

One morning (or whatever time of day you write fiction)… nothing. You’re uninspired, or just tired. You don’t want to write.

When your book’s been going well, this is resistance. It’s your subconscious mind waving its hands and yelling — “stop! You’re going the wrong way…”

Pay attention. Stop. Sleep on it.

Next day, you’ll either have the solution to the problem you didn’t know was there (but your subconscious mind did), or you’ll find the problem when you read through the draft.

Vital: to write more, pay attention to your intuition. Listen. The answer will come.

Your challenge here is to identify those times you’re being lazy. If you suspect you’re just goofing off, push through it. Write anyway.

2. Write in scenes: diagram them first

One of the challenges with fiction is logistics; moving people around in your scenes. Two people in a scene are manageable; more than two are a challenge.

Before I start a scene, I like to draw little diagrams on index cards. I identify each person in the scene, what his or her goal is, what secret they’re keeping from the other characters, and anything else that’s important.

When you think through a scene before you start writing, your writing will flow, and you’ll write more.

3. Write in scenes: goal, first line, last line

I also write the first and last sentences of a scene before I start, as I explained in this article.

When you know where you’re going, you’ll get there faster. :-)

4. Stop writing when you’ve answered the “story question”

The story question is the point of your novel or short story. It’s when your main character has achieved his goal. In a mystery, it’s when the sleuth confronts the killer; in a romance, it’s when the guy gets the girl.

Your characters may or may not live happily ever after — end the story when it’s done. We talked about outlining and big scenes here. Your biggest scene is the story’s climax. Once it’s over, so is your story.

5. Don’t “write”: see it, feel it, and then write it

If you’re a new fiction writer, that is, you’ve been writing fiction for fewer than five years, your focus tends to be on the words. When readers read however, they don’t care about the words — you don’t stare at the painter’s brush strokes when you’re looking at a painting, do you?

Just as you experience a painting, your readers experience your fiction. That means that YOU need to EXPERIENCE it.

See your scenes in your imagination. Experience what your characters experience. For your readers to feel it, you need to feel it first.

Robert Frost said:

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

See it and feel it first. Then write it. You’ll write more, and your readers will get their money’s worth.

Hot Plots: Craft Hot-Selling Fiction in 5 Minutes (or less)

How To Write Commercial Fiction With Hot Plots

The big secret of making money from your fiction is writing a lot. And publishing strategically and consistently. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program ensures that authors can make money from short stories, and all kinds of fiction. Moreover, whatever you’re publishing, you have a global audience.

You’re about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you’re writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. Discover Hot Plots.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Selling Your Ebooks Via The Subscription Model

Selling Your Ebooks Via The Subscription Model

If you’re an author, writing ebooks is easy. Easier than selling your ebooks anyway, for most of us. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) has made selling easier for many authors, me included.

KU, which gives authors an easy way to get readers, and to get paid for readers who read their ebooks for free, is switching to payment for pages read on July 1.

There’s lots of discussion around about  this. Some of it is informed discussion. Some of it is not. Some authors are outraged, others love the change to KU:

“I am a romance author with two series in KU, and currently make enough off KU alone to pay my living expenses. Since my books are 200+ pages, I for one look forward to the imminent change. Apart from the money, it will be highly motivating to know how many pages of my books were read every day.”

I’m in the “love” camp. KU works for me, and for my students.

A subscription model makes sense for authors

Subscription models for anything and everything have worked for decades, long before the digital age: books, wine, cosmetics… Today there are subscription services for ebooks, music, and movies.

People subscribe to these subscription services, and creators get paid, in money, as well as in exposure to a wider audience. In general, I’m against writing for “exposure”. It can be a real con. However, that’s not the case with KU. In KU, you get paid once a reader reads 10% of an ebook — until July 1, 2015. After July 1, you’ll get paid per number of pages read.

There’s just one reason to use KU: it gives you a chance to win readers who might otherwise never see your ebooks, let alone read them. Consider that hundreds of thousands of ebooks flow into the Amazon Kindle Store each and every month. That’s a lot of ebooks.

KU is a service: use it in a way that makes sense for you

With KU, Amazon’s providing a service which you, as an author, can use in any way you wish.

Don’t use it if you don’t want to — no one’s compelling you. Indeed, considering that Amazon wants an exclusive for ebooks enrolled in KDP Select, so that those ebooks are available in KU, you’re cutting yourself off from any sales which you might make if you used several ebook retailers.

On the other hand, KU is a wonderful way to get paid for the number of pages which KU subscribers read. What’s not to like about that?

Selling your ebooks is a challenge. Amazon’s KU subscription service makes selling your ebooks easier. That’s my experience. Your mileage may vary, of course. However, don’t be put off from experimenting with KU: when it works, it will lift your overall sales, and that’s a very good thing.

Kindle Short Fiction Domination: Today’s Blueprint For Writing Success And Income (4-week class)

Short Fiction Domination

Want to write short fiction and build a successful career? For the first time in decades, it’s possible to write short stories and make a great income. Each week, for four weeks, you receive a new lesson, in PDF format, via a download link sent to your email inbox.

As we move through the class, you’re not only writing your own short stories, you’re also discovering the Kindle short fiction BLUEPRINT… What to publish, and when, so that your Amazon income steadily increases. Join us. :-)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Writing Scenes In Fiction: 3 Powerful Tips

Writing Scenes In Fiction: 3 Powerful Tips

Do you love telling stories? You must do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. If you’re a new author however, chances are that scenes in fiction are a mystery to you. When do you SHOW something in a scene, rather than TELLING, in a narrative? How much dialogue can you use?

The more you write, the more automatic these decisions become. You won’t consciously think about them anymore; you just write. Actually “just write” is good advice for your first draft. When you constrain yourself, you can choke off your creativity, and block.

Scenes are magic. They keep readers reading, because… Scenes are action. Something’s happening. Characters are fighting. (If there’s no conflict, get some… we talked about characters’ thoughts and emotions here.)

Once you become comfortable with scenes, you’ll love them, because they’re easy to write — you just toss your characters together, and they fight. You enjoy it, and your readers do too.

These tips will help you to write powerful scenes.

1. Write your VITAL scenes: never cheat readers

You’re writing a romance novel. Which scenes are vital? The romantic ones, of course. You need to SHOW the romance, so make sure that you write those scenes. Otherwise readers will feel cheated.

Writing a mystery? Similarly, write those scenes which are most important: the discovery of the body, finding clues, interviewing suspects, and so on.

From this, you’ll see that your “vital” scenes are those scenes which the readers of your genre expect.

Plotter? Excellent. You’ll be able to plan your vital scenes before you start writing. Once you’ve plotted your short story or novel, mark your “must-show” scenes — the scenes which are the highlight of your novel. Those scenes will be the turning points of your story.

If you’re a pantser, you won’t know which of your scenes are important until you’ve written your story. Now’s the time to outline your story, and choose your vital scenes. Punch up these scenes.

2. Use senses to convey the point of view (POV) character’s mood

You need to use sensory details throughout your fiction of course. They drop the reader right into your story. Sensory details convey mood. You can convey a lot of emotion depending on what your POV character notices in a scene.

An example:

“I have never felt more alive in my life. It is a bright blue sky day, the birds are lunatic with the warmth, the river outside is gushing past, and I am utterly alive.”

From Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

3. Skip the small-talk: jump into the scene as close to the end as possible

How to Write Scenes in Novels and Short Stories

How to write scenes

It’s vital that something happens in a scene.

At the end of a scene, your characters know more than they did before. Your POV character has either achieved his goal for the scene, or he hasn’t. Either way, he needs to deal with it.

Start your scene in the middle. If you need to convey some information, you can do that with your POV character’s thoughts, after you’ve started the scene. Once you’ve established the conflict in the scene, you can devote a paragraph or two to showing how your character got from Paris to New York, or whatever you need to establish.

Avoid the boring stuff

In a TV show or film, you’ll see the main character driving to a meeting, or walking into a room. Avoid doing that in your fiction. Avoid all slow build-ups to scenes.

While we’re talking about slow build-ups, avoid showing your main character waking up in the morning (unless he wakes up next to a dead body), or experiencing something or other that turns out to be a dream.

Slow build-ups are just authorial throat-clearing. You write it because you’re gearing up to something. Write it by all means in your first draft, then be ruthless and slash it in your second draft. Build-ups are boring.

Only keep the good stuff, where something’s happening. (We’ve talked about backstory, and why you should eliminate it.)

There you go: three tips which will help you to write powerful scenes in your short stories and novels.

Kindle Short Fiction Domination: Today’s Blueprint For Writing Success And Income (4-week class)

Short Fiction Domination

Want to write short fiction and build a successful career? For the first time in decades, it’s possible to write short stories and make a great income. Each week, for four weeks, you receive a new lesson, in PDF format, via a download link sent to your email inbox.

As we move through the class, you’re not only writing your own short stories, you’re also discovering the Kindle short fiction BLUEPRINT… What to publish, and when, so that your Amazon income steadily increases. Join us. :-)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.