Tag Archives: planning

Writing Process: Words, Words, And More Words

Writing Process: Words, Words, And More Words

I know that consistent production is hard for many writers. So let’s look at a writing process which ensures that you produce more words. This process works for both fiction and nonfiction.

Key: KNOW that you can do it. If you can talk, you can write. I write around 1000 to 1500 words an hour.

If I’m writing fiction, most of that is fairly good, for first draft material. But it’s nevertheless first draft material. It needs editing. If you can only manage 200 words an hour, that’s more than fine. You’ll get faster as you go.

Here’s your basic writing process:

  • Idea generation (know what you’re writing)
  • First draft writing
  • Editing

1. Know what you’re writing when you sit down to write

Never, ever sit down at your computer to write, without knowing what you’re writing, and exactly how much you expect yourself to produce.

Consider your creative self to be the genie in the bottle, if it helps. You need to give your genie orders.

For example, yesterday I needed to do the final edits on a novella. I wanted to publish it yesterday, and I did. I had notes on what I had to cover in the final edit, and I just followed the notes.

This morning I did just 1000 words on a new fiction trilogy. I’d done zero planning, so a lot of my fiction writing time was fiddling around, creating characters. I knew before I started that my goal for that project today was a thousand words, so I wrote them.

To repeat: give yourself instructions. Know what you’re writing before you sit down to write.

2. Get uncomfortable: try Write or Die (your word count per hour will go up)

Every month or two, I use timed writing sessions to force myself to write more words per hour. This is challenging. But it works. You can get too comfortable.

Get uncomfortable. I’ve started using Write or Die 2, because I heard good reports on it, and it keeps stats. Write or Die has two sliders, one for the minutes in your writing session, and the other slider is a word count goal for those minutes.

You don’t need an app. Use a kitchen timer, and set it for a time — half an hour, if you like. Then decide how many words you’ll write.

Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone works. Your productivity will increase.

2. Focus on scenes: write the dialogue first

When you’re writing fiction, focus on scenes.

Here’s how to write scenes:

  • Decide on the goal you want for a scene. What changes? What emotion do you want?
  • Write the scene’s first line;
  • Write the scene’s last line;
  • Write the dialogue between the first and last line;
  • Go back and fill in the extras: emotions, characters’ thoughts, movements, and so on.

The above process works for me, because once you’ve got the dialogue, everything follows from that. I tend to worry too much about characters’ emotions and thoughts. I put in too much, and slow myself — and the scene — down.

Focus on your scenes, and write the dialogue first: try it. You’ll write more, and more easily.

Have fun. 🙂

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

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Indie Publishing: 5 Tips To Get Started

Indie Publishing: 5 Tips To Get Started

You’re into indie publishing. Good for you — self-publishing has great rewards, even for new authors. Who knows, you may hit it big with your first couple of books. On the other hand your books may bomb. It’s more likely that neither thing will happen. You’ll publish, and publish some more, and slowly build your readership, and business.

A couple of readers have asked about the “risks” of indie publishing. My response: “What risks? You’re putting your books out into the marketplace. They sell or they don’t. If they don’t, you write more books. You’re in charge. You don’t answer to an acquisitions editor, a literary agent, or a publisher.”

Risks? I was baffled, until I figured it out. To new authors, indie publishing is seen as risky because you do it all yourself. You’re betting on yourself. It’s lonely. You need courage and confidence.

Writers like the validation of traditional publishing. Then you can assume that your book’s in good hands. I understand. However, if you talk to authors who’ve been traditionally published, and opted to go indie, you may feel a lot better about your choice. Not more confident — that’s impossible until you publish a few titles — but better. Your confidence will grow. It’s normal to be nervous.

Here’s a truth for you: no one knows what will succeed. No one. So you might as well keep writing.

These tips will help.

1. Build a mailing list now, before you publish

You’ve heard about mailing lists. You’ve decided that you’ll start building your list after you’ve published a couple of books.

Why, oh why???

Start building your list now.

Yes, before you publish a single book.

Write a blurb for your book, convert the first chapter into a PDF, and offer it as a free download for subscribers. Post your blurb onto a Web page, and start collecting subscribers.

An additional tip; put a link to your mailing list page in the front matter of your books, rather than the back matter.

Lists are easy to set up. I’ve been using aweber for my lists for over a decade, but there are many list providers.

2. Hire an editor, and get a cover

Editors are busy. Book an editor as soon as you have an idea of when you’ll finish your first draft. Check forums for editors in your genre, or hire one on one of the outsourcing websites.

Get your cover designed asap too. If you’re doing it yourself to save money, create the cover now. Once your cover’s designed, your book will seem more real.

3. Schedule your writing time each day

To publish a book, you need to finish it, so schedule writing time daily. Inspiration is fine, but it won’t help you to complete your book. Time spent on it will.

4. Get a large calendar, and plan the rest of 2015, and early 2016

Buy a wall calendar, or draw one yourself on a large sheet of paper. Work out your publishing plans month by month. Put the calendar where you can see it. I like this idea for creating your own wall calendar with chalkboard paint.

5. Join a writer’s group, and/ or get a writing buddy

If you’re a new author, it’s lonely. You need support. Join a supportive writer’s group. With luck, you’ll find a kindred soul who will become your writing buddy.

So there you have it — use these tips. Indie publishing is lots of fun. Take it day by day, and before you know it, you’ll be a published author.

Story Power: short stories made easy

Story Power

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

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Fast Fiction Secrets: Outline for Emotion

Fast Fiction Secrets: Outline for Emotion

I’ve had some questions about how to write fast fiction: that is, how to write a novel or short story quickly, without ending up with a horrible mess. The answer: outline for emotion. If your story has emotional coherence, readers will forgive you almost anything because you’ve given them a wonderful experience.

The writers who’ve asked about this are doing NaNoWriMo in November, so I thought I’d share my response here. I talked about it a little in my writing journal entries.

Let’s say you’ve got an idea for a novel. Your heroine is an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. She wakes up one day to a complete nightmare. The house is empty, except for her personal possessions, her clothes, and her bed. Where’s her husband, and where are her children? This idea has hints of the movie Double Jeopardy, but whatever. 🙂

Important: Think in Scenes

I like to write in scenes. I do a lot of ghostwriting of both fiction and nonfiction. Over the years, I’ve found that when I think and write in scenes, I can write well, and just get it done. 🙂

So, once you’ve got your basic idea, start making a list of scenes. I use the cork board in Scrivener. A spreadsheet also works.

Outlining Your Scenes Helps You to Write Faster

It’s easy to shape an idea if you think in scenes. Fiction is all about emotions, for the writer, and the reader. Consider the emotions you want your reader to feel. Keep reminding yourself of the emotions as you write – this will soon become automatic. I’ve found that if I’m getting bored as I write, it’s always because I’ve lost the emotional thread. Throw in more conflict. Make your characters fight for what they want.

Tell yourself your story in a paragraph or two, then map the turning points. Your story will have several turning points, so you outline from point to point:

  • First turning point: after the setup (around chapter four, or scene four if you’re writing a shorter piece)
  • The midpoint
  • Three quarter point: you’re setting up the dark moment
  • The climax: the story’s final battle

Write quickly. Don’t think about it too much; you don’t know your characters yet. You’re just getting the bones of a story down. Think of this scene list as preliminary sketches. Nothing is set in stone.

Next, create character sketches of your primary two or three characters, with their emotional arcs. Each character starts off at point A. He ends his emotional journey at point J.

For example, in our story idea above, we’ve got our heroine, Madeline. At the beginning of the story she’s at emotional point A, the ordinary world if you’re using the Hero’s Journey. She loves her life with her family. She’s a little worried about her husband, Jack. He’s working long hours. In each scene, Madeline’s emotional arc develops a little more, as lies are exposed. Madeline’s lies to herself are exposed too.

When you’re creating character sketches, consider which events in a character’s backstory get him to emotional point A, and help him to build towards emotional point J.

Tip: forget creating character bios. No one cares if Madeline likes pizza. Focus on your character’s strengths and weaknesses. You need to know what they are, so you can build your scenes.

All Done? Outline a Scene Just Before You Start Writing

After you’ve developed some basic scenes and the turning points, it’s time to start writing. I outline each scene just before I write it. I decide what I want to have happen in the scene, and what I want the reader to feel — what emotions. (Write this down – making notes will help you later, in revision and editing.)

Then I write the first couple of sentences in the scene, and the final sentences. I zoom through the scene, writing as fast as I can. This usually means writing dialogue. Then I go back to the beginning and “paint” the scene. I build the scene up, adding as much or as little as I want to, in this draft.

Each scene will change your character’s emotions. Keep asking yourself what your character’s feeling, and then show the feeling. If a character surprises you with his reactions, that’s wonderful.

So, there we have it. You can write fast, and will create excellent fiction, when you outline for emotion.

Self-publishers’ “write fast, write short” secret strategy you can use too

Learn the strategy here. When you spend time crafting short material, you’ll gain visibility and sales.

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.

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Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

eBook: $5.99

Why write serial fiction?

Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.

It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.

If you’re a new author, a serial serves to introduce you to readers. A reader may not be willing to commit to a novel by a new author, but be willing to read an episode of a serial.

More info →
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Update: May 4, 2019