All posts by Angela Booth

About Angela Booth

Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.

Fiction Writing Magic: Outlining And Connecting With Readers

Fiction Writing Magic: Outlining And Connecting With Readers

Readers have asked for more fiction writing tips on what to include when they’re outlining a novel. Here’s a big tip: connect with your plot, and with your characters. Sometimes, when we’re outlining, we focus on the plot so much that we forget why readers read.

Recently I’ve been working with an author who shocked me. She told me that she’s self-published three novels over three years, and has made NO sales at all. When I checked her books’ blurbs on Amazon (she’s published ebooks and paperbacks) I saw the problem immediately.

Plot, plot, and more plot, and no real connection to be found. Your stories need to connect with readers. This connection can be subtle, but as the saying goes, you know it when you see it. 🙂

Readers read for connection — they want to be drawn in to your novel, or short story… that connection MUST be there, in your blurb, and of course, in your outline, and in your books.

All very well, I’m sure you’re thinking… but how do you CONNECT?

Fiction writing tip: your fiction MUST connect with readers

Blurbs (book descriptions) to which readers connect sell books.

For example, the blurb for Nora Roberts’ novel Blue Smoke, begins:

Reena Hale has always understood the destructive power of fire.

Fire burns. We can relate. Just yesterday I burned my hand on a cast iron skillet. Ouch! (We’ll get to the senses and connection in a moment…)

Here’s another example, from the blurb for Joseph Finder’s novel, The Switch:

Michael Tanner is heading home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong laptop from security.

Have you ever picked up someone else’s bag? I haven’t, but last week I strolled into the supermarket car park, right up my car, and kept pressing the key in my hand in irritation.

Curses — why wasn’t the car unlocking?

Finally I realized. Heh, right color, make and model, but not my car…

We’ve all made similar mistakes. Finder makes a connection with readers, as Roberts does, in the first sentence of the blurb.

Want another example? Just check bestsellers. I defy you to find me a blurb which doesn’t connect with readers in some way. Here’s another example, this one is from David Baldacci’s End Game: A Will Robie Novel 5. And again, we find connection right in the first line of the blurb:

London is on red alert.

We connect with that. We watch the news of terrorist attacks in London, and we feel vulnerable too.

In this article on outlining fiction, I suggested that you start outlining with an image:

… start with an image: an image has built-in emotion – if you choose the right image. Fiction is all about emotion. No emotion? You’ve got nothing. Your idea, no matter how wonderful, will fizzle out. Or you’ll have a bunch of weird emotions tumbling around, which you can’t get a handle on… and the novel or short story fizzles out.

Let’s add to that: start with an image to which you respond.

Then:

  • Think about the emotion the image inspires; and
  • Think about how that connects with readers; and
  • WRITE DOWN that connection in your outline.

1. Outlining: connect via conflict — remember emotions

Fiction is all conflict, all the time. It’s easy to forget the reader connection, and create melodrama.

Let’s say that you’re great with conflict. Everyone’s upset in your novel, and fighting with everyone else.

Good work. Now make an emotional connection with your character, a highly intelligent, 30-year-old, brand new detective. She’s been taken off a case. How does she feel? Add a note about those feelings, right in your outline for the scene.

Add another note: how do you want the reader to feel? If your detective is your primary point of view character, you want your reader to empathize with the character.

2. Look for opportunities for sensory writing in your outlines: connect via the senses

Readers will connect with your fiction if you provide sensory details.

Take a moment, and glance around the room, or around the plane or around the park… You’re somewhere, aren’t you? And as long as you’re awake, you’re aware of your environment, on some level. You’re using your senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

Proust’s madeleines (biscuits) are famous, because the sense of taste is linked to memory:

The madeleine anecdote is considered one of the key passages in À La Recherche du Temps Perdu or In Search of Lost Time. It is at the heart of the book’s main theme of involuntary memory…

Readers will connect if you make it easy for them to experience your characters’ environment, via the senses. Don’t describe everything, but do choose sensory details which connect with readers.

From Georgette Heyer’s Frederica:

Wiser counsels had not prevailed with Jane: she had been determined on roses and pink gauze; and as she had inherited her mother’s shrewish disposition, and was capable of sulking for days together, Lady Buxted had allowed her to have them.

If Heyer had written: “Jane sulked until she got a dress with roses and pink gauze,” it wouldn’t have the same impact. Nevertheless the “sulking” makes a connection with readers; we all know people like Jane who want their own way.

3. YOU are your fiction: connect to your characters, and to the events in your plot

You’re your fiction. No one else has your emotional makeup or experiences. You perceive the world differently from everyone else. So, in order to connect with readers, connect with your characters, via your imagination. Then get that connection onto the page. Readers will latch onto your fiction — you helped them to make a connection.

An author’s biggest danger when we create characters and plot, is forgetting to make a connection with our characters, and the disasters we create for them.

Once you begin looking for connections readers might make, you’ll find them in your writing and in others’, and will create them deliberately.

You’ll know that you’re doing it right when you have fun with your fiction. 🙂

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly. More info →
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

You’re An Author: 4 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Book

You’re An Author: 4 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Book

You’ve finished your book. It’s published, and you’re an author. You should be very proud of your achievement. You’re marketing your book, and are making sales, but don’t stop — consider that you can get much more out of your book.

Before we go on, I need to mention that this is where self-publishers are hugely better off than any traditionally published author. Here’s why: when you self-publish, your book whether fiction or nonfiction, is an asset.

You can make much more out of your asset than sales of the book in its current form.

You’re an author: you now have an asset

Everything you write, to which you retain all rights (articles, books, videos, audios, presentations, speeches, blog posts) is an asset. Few authors (me included) make as much of their assets as they could.

Why not? Primarily because they’re busy. They get tunnel vision. They publish their book, and market it diligently. Then they write another book — or maybe not, if the sales of the first book are disappointing.

Here’s where a small knowledge of copyright comes into play. Book publication is just one form of the rights you own in a work that you created. There are many more rights, including:

  • Audio rights;
  • Video rights
  • Movie rights;
  • Serial publication rights;
  • Translation rights…

Basically when you own an asset, you own all the rights, so you can transform the work into anything you choose. You can license these rights to others, or you can use them yourself.

Your rights aren’t limited — you can choose to transform your book into anything you like, and can sell any rights you please, even rights you create specifically for that book. You may license the rights to a character in your novel to a graphic artist so he can create a graphic novel, for example. You own the character, so you get a share of the royalties from the graphic novel.

One of my friends is demon with rights; she’s making money from licensing oddball rights to books she wrote years ago. You can be as creative as you choose when you own an asset.

Let’s look at four ways you can get more out of your book.

1. Blog your book to build your brand and sell more copies

Many authors blog their books as they write them. They post chapters online. Some authors blog their entire book, leaving all the chapters online, before and after they publish, as a form of marketing. Other authors take down the chapters once a book’s published.

Whatever you choose to do, when you blog your book you’ll not only build your brand, you’ll sell more copies.

2. Offer your book in multiple formats for more sales

Many authors are diligent with this. They not only offer an ebook, but they also offer print books — hardcover and paperbacks, as well as audio books.

Offering your book in more formats makes huge sense. When you offer your book as an audio book for example, you’re tapping into a new audience. We’re all busy, and it’s handy to be able to listen to a book in your car. If that book were only available in ebook or paperback format, people who prefer audio books would ignore it.

3. Create a course, or create a series: your book is just an introduction

Let’s say you’ve written a nonfiction book about improving your memory. You can turn that book into an online or offline course.

Perhaps you’ve written a mystery novel. Why not create a series, using the same characters, or the same location?

Look on your asset, your first book, as an introduction. There’s usually a lot more you can do with a book than offer it in multiple formats.

4. (Nonfiction) Become a coach on your book’s topic

You may have noticed something about bestselling nonfiction authors. They hit the bestseller lists, and become speakers. Or they become coaches. People pay fantastic sums to hear an author talk about his topic for a couple of hours. These bestselling authors are paid five and even six figure sums for an appearance.

Other authors coach students in their topic, and they’re fully booked — coaching is another way of using your asset.

As an author, how much money are you leaving on the table?

You’re an author now. So take a few minutes, today, to consider ways in which you can use your asset. You’re sure to come up with several ways to do it. Aim to get as much out of your book as you can.

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly. More info →
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Writing A Book? Create A Writing Habit With These 3 Tips

Writing A Book? Create A Writing Habit With These 3 Tips

In Team Up I’ve been working with a writer who’s started writing a book more times than she can count. She says that she has a dozen false starts on her computer. Those books never went anywhere.

“I start out great,” she said. “Then something comes up. I realize that I need another idea, or that what I have isn’t strong enough. I’ve made up my mind that this time I’m am writing a book — I’m finally finishing a book. No matter what.”

She’s got the right attitude.

However, she needs more than that. She needs to turn writing a book into a habit.

Make writing a book a habit

Writing a book is intimidating, if you allow it to be. Your biggest ally is the disposition we all have to create habits.

Currently I’m reading Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. He reveals that we form habits, both consciously and unconsciously. Those habits, once formed, can be cued at any time; we don’t realize it’s happening. This is great when you form habits for writing a book. Not so great with habits like procrastinating, and eating junk food.

It turns out that creating a habit is easy.

Researchers have discovered how habits work. When a habit is cued, we follow the habit’s routine in expectation of a reward. When rewards occur, over time the cue, routine and reward process becomes a habit fueled by craving. This is an unconscious process.

Writing a book has long been habitual with me. I don’t think about it. Over 30 years, it’s just become a habit. Although I developed the habit unconsciously, I can see that I followed the cue, routine and reward process.

You can do it too. Here’s how.

1. Cue yourself to get words onto your computer screen

Start by lowering your expectations. Your goal isn’t to write a book. It’s to get words onto your computer screen which will, in time, become a book.

You need a cue to sit down at your computer every day. Your cue can be simple. For example, many runners cue their exercise habit by setting out their running shoes beside their bed. When they wake up, they lace on the shoes, and they’re out the door. It’s a habit. The cue enables them to follow their routine for a run. Their reward is runner’s high: the endorphins which their body creates.

What would cue you to sit at your computer each day?

My cue is simple. It’s coffee. I wake up, make coffee, sit down at my computer and start writing. One of my friends has a crossword puzzle cue: he opens his crossword puzzle app, does a crossword, then opens Scrivener and starts writing.

Keep your cue simple.

2. Form a routine: meet a daily word count goal

I love Scrivener for many reasons, especially because it allows you to set word count goals. Let’s say you’re aiming for 60,000 words for a novel. If you wrote 1,000 words a day, you’d complete the novel in two months. Or, if your goal was 500 words a day, in four months.

Set any word count goal you like — just 50 or 100 words, initially.

When you’re cued, sit down at your computer and write those words. You’ll find that if you start at 100 words, on some days you’ll go over that. Extend your daily word count goal only when you’re regularly going over your current goal.

3. Reward yourself every day for following your routine

Completed your routine for the day? Excellent. Reward yourself. Essential: keep your reward simple. Save the champagne for your book’s publication day. Small daily rewards are enough.

For most authors the satisfaction of being done with their word count for the day is sufficient, but you might like to reward yourself with a little treat.

Once you’ve created a habit for writing a book, you’re set

The beauty of habits is that they become unconscious: cue, routine, and reward. Form a habit, and soon you’re writing a book automatically, without any will power at all.

Have fun. 🙂

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular. More info →
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.