Tag Archives: fiction

5 Simple NaNoWriMo Writing Hacks You Can Use Today

5 Simple NaNoWriMo Writing Hacks You Can Use Today

It’s the first day of NaNoWriMo, and you’ve got some 1700 words of your novel to write today.

Firstly, kudos if you’re taking part. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, and with any luck at all, you’ll write and publish your novel.

NaNoWriMo hacks: easy tricks to survive November

Anytime I’ve got an important writing project, I take half an hour or so to plan the project, and to do a mini SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. So that’s our first hack.

Let’s look at some fun tricks to make NaNoWriMo easier.

1. SWOT it first: an analysis is fun, and often surprising

Grab a notepad, or an index card. Use a card if you’ll be writing in different locations; you can take the card with you.

Print SWOT vertically down the page, leaving some lines between the letters.

Now think about:

  • Your strengths, whatever they may be. Maybe you’ve got an amazing outline, and have scheduled each day’s writing carefully.
  • Any weaknesses. Are you terrified because it’s your first novel? Maybe you’re writing in a genre new to you.
  • Opportunities. Can you think of any opportunities which you might get as a result of doing NaNoWriMo? Perhaps you’ll write a bestseller… 😉
  • Threats? You know yourself — maybe you’re worried that you’ll procrastinate, or will get bored…

Here’s why a SWOT helps, even if you just take five minutes to do it very quickly. It gets the benefits and challenges out of your head, and onto the page. Your subconscious mind will begin working on solutions to threats, so that you can overcome them.

2. Do writing sprints with a countdown timer

The first four days of any novel are slow if you’ve done zero preparation — and even if you’ve done lots of preparation. You’re finding your voice for this novel.

However, often the idea that “the first days are slow” can merely be an excuse. When I catch myself getting too relaxed and lazy, I fire up the countdown timer in my phone. Then I write as quickly as I can while the timer ticks down.

Writing sprints of 20 minutes or half an hour are useful — you’ll increase your word count for the day relatively painlessly, particularly if you focus on dialogue. After the 20 minutes, you can go back and fill in the blanks of the scene you’re writing.

3. Create a BIG mind map, and update it daily

I work on several novels and short stories at any one time; my own, and others’. I have a “novel” mind map template, and have these branches from the central idea:

  • Characters;
  • Settings;
  • Story question;
  • Time line;
  • Open loops.

It’s easy to add to the mind map while you’re writing. For example, I might have these branches off “characters”: attributes; physical appearance; REMEMBER.

I have REMEMBER coming off each of the major branches, because there’s always something which I know I’ll forget, especially anything related to minor characters. In mysteries, there’s always red herrings; I need to remember where I planted them, and how I’ll resolve them.

The “open loops” branch is handy. Anytime you leave readers wondering about something, it’s essential you start closing your open loops at around the 60% done mark of the novel.

4. “Outline” at least two scenes ahead: just one sentence is fine

As I point out in Map It, my book on outlines for writers who hate outlines, I’m not huge on outlines. I like to work things out as I go.

One thing I’ve found however: I notice this in my students who prefer pantsing too… if you don’t write down at least a sentence about the upcoming scenes, you’ll block. Or you’ll head down a useless tangent.

Your brief notes for upcoming scenes kick your creative self into action. Those notes make writing easier.

5. Warm up with timed writing: five minutes each day

Speaking of easier writing.

When you sit down for that day’s writing session, do five minutes of free writing first. Just write as much as you can in five minutes.

It doesn’t matter what you write:

  • Ideas for upcoming scenes;
  • Character sketches;
  • Dialogue…

This brief warmup clears your mind, and gets you into a writing mindset. Words and ideas will come more easily.

OK — there you have it. I hope these simple hacks help you with NaNoWriMo — and with all your fiction, for that matter. 🙂

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99
Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters. More info →
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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

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Fast Short Stories: New Online Writing Class

Fast Short Stories: New Online Writing Class

Over the past year or two, authors have discovered the value of short stories. Not only can you charge as much for a short story as you’d charge for a novel, readers in several genres love them.

On Amazon, the term “short stories” has a respectable monthly search volume of half a million searches, which shows that readers are searching for snack-sized fiction and are buying it. If you’re not using short stories in your self-publishing program, you’re missing out on an opportunity.

In Easy Fiction Writing: 4 Profitable Ways To Use Short Stories, we said that short stories are fun part-time projects. You can write a short story and publish it as an ebook within a few hours.

A tip: authors ask me “how long” a short story “must” be, if you want to publish it as an ebook. There are no rules — it’s up to you. Traditionally, a short story was fiction up to 15,000 words — beyond that, it’s a novella, and after around 30,000 words, it’s a novel.

Publish Fiction In 8 Hours Or Less: Conquer Short Stories

Enrollments are open for our new online writing class, Publish Fiction In 8 Hours Or Less: Conquer Short Stories. I created the class because writers were stumbling with their stories, and not getting as much out of them as they could.

When you’re writing short stories, it’s essential to know which genres sell. For example, the Mystery/ Thriller genre sells less well than several other genres, and we cover that in the class.

We also look at:

  • Clever ways you can use short stories;
  • Short story pricing;
  • Essential tactics to make your short stories satisfying to readers; and
  • How to make the most of Amazon’s Short Reads categories.

I’ll guide you through writing and publishing a short story step by step. By the end of the four week class, you’ll have written a complete short story, and will have received feedback on every stage of writing it.

The writing class’s structure and what you’ll get out of it

I’ll be offering this class at intervals of a month or two, depending on how busy I am with other commitments.

The class is strictly practical — you’ll be writing, rather than stuffing your head with knowledge. 🙂 By the time the class ends, you’ll know exactly how to use short stories in your publishing plans for 2018 and beyond, and how to write them quickly.

You’ll receive everything you need for the class each week, via a download link sent to your email address — PDFs, audio, and video — so no other purchases are required.

Estimate that you’ll spend an hour or two a week on the class.

Class begins on October 16, and enrollments are limited.

NEW CLASS: Publish Fiction In 8 Hours Or Less: Conquer Short Stories

New fiction writing class: write and sell short stories

Discover a brand new, step-by-step, class to writing and publishing short stories FAST. You can publish within hours.

This class is easy, fun, and practical. If you’ve got an hour a week, you’ll master short fiction writing and selling in just four weeks.

Join us, and take control of your fiction writing career.

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

eBook: $5.99
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell. More info →
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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Easy Fiction Writing: 4 Profitable Ways To Use Short Stories

Easy Fiction Writing: 4 Profitable Ways To Use Short Stories

This week’s blogging theme is short stories, here and on Fab Freelance Writing.

I receive lots of questions about writing short stories. Writers often find that writing a short story convinces them that they can write salable fiction.

For me, the biggest benefit of short stories is that you can grow them into novels without much difficulty.

You can expand short stories into novels

My favorite way to get more mileage from a short story is to develop it further, into a novel. I’m so fond of this strategy that I need to rein myself in. A ghostwriting client is far from pleased when I tell him that — oops, sorry, your short story grew on me. It’s on the way to becoming a novel. Please bear with me while I write something else for you… 🙂

As I suggested in From Writing Short Stories to Writing Novels: 3 Simple Tips, the primary difference between a short story and a novel is that a novel has more characters than a short story, and more depth to the characters.

Let’s look at other profitable ways to use short stories.

1. Short stories are the perfect introduction to your other fiction

On several of the online groups of which I’m a member, authors are complaining about their sales. Nothing new in that. It can be discomfiting when your Page Reads in KDP Select go down, or when your books stop selling, no matter how much advertising you do.

Here’s my suggestion if you find that your self-publishing income is dropping: write short stories.

Short stories make wonderful content for promotion, and you can write a short story in an afternoon.

From A Writing Income From Short Stories: 3 Vital Questions Answered:

Before you publish a short story, offer it free to your blog’s readers for a limited time. If you offer a “free short story a month” or whatever schedule you choose, it gives you a boost in readers — and increases sales of your other fiction. Important: REMOVE your short stories from your blog before you offer them in Select as an Amazon exclusive, otherwise you’ll annoy Amazon.

2. Short stories are fun part-time projects

We’re all busy. You may not have time to write a novel: write short stories instead.

A friend writes short stories in her “spare” time — the time she spends ferrying her three children around to their various activities. She sits in her car, and taps her latest story into her tablet. She reports that she’s managed to turn this time which she previously wasted into a real boost for her self-publishing career.

She publishes her stories on her blog, then when she has enough for a collection, she publishes them as ebooks (after removing them from the blog) in KDP Select. Some months her KENP Pages Read income is better than her sales.

3. You can bundle your short stories into books — your own, and others’

You can publish your short stories as ebooks individually; you can also publish them in collections — bundles.

Authors experience a boost in sales when they collaborate on bundles. Because the price of a bundled collection is low, their direct income from having a story in a bundle is low, or non-existent. However, with each author promoting the bundle to his audience, it extends authors’ readership — and builds sales.

4. Need cash? Visit the freelance marketplaces and bid on short story projects

Publishers are always looking for ghostwriters. If you enjoy writing short stories, you can write them for cash. Visit the freelance marketplaces. You’ll often find projects asking for short stories in various genres, particularly in romance.

Changing genres? Write short stories

My own favorite use for short stories is to use them as my own little focus groups. If I’m thinking of writing in a genre for a ghostwriting client, I write a short story first. No sales? That shows that that genre isn’t for me. It may be at some time in the future, but not right now.

Have fun writing short stories; they may add to your income, painlessly.

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

$5.99
Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction. More info →
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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 →
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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.