Showing posts with label writer's life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writer's life. Show all posts

Friday, September 28, 2018

Start your book with a bang! The importance of chapter one 🀩

Chapter one is your chance to grab readers by the throat and make them want more!

We see it all the time in television show pilots. It's up to that original episode to captivate its audience and make them coming back for another week. Something has to shake things up in order to create an interest with the viewer and books are no different. 

So what do people want to see? It really depends. Some people are drawn in by action, adventure, drama, violence, and sex, while others might be intrigued by a unique character, an unexpected action or perhaps the protagonist is going through something that connects with the audience. The main point is that the start of anything, whether it be a movie, book or television show must make the reader or viewer want more. 

I always say that you should start chapter one in the middle of something relevant to the rest of the book. For example, in my last book And the Devil Will Laugh, the protagonist and his associate are visiting the (soon to be) editor of a large newspaper in hopes of swaying him to write articles in favor of both himself and a political candidate he is backing. Meanwhile, across town, the protagonist's wife is murdering the current editor, who didn't go along with his previous wishes. This ties in with the rest of the book because violence and media manipulation are a huge part of the entire book. Also, this is in the middle of the action. I didn't start chapter one with the characters discussing their plan to bully the media or the protagonist having breakfast before he left the house, I jump right into the action. 

Catching a reader's attention is very important. With so many other books, the Internet and of course, Netflix as ways to be entertained, readers can easily pass up on your novel and move on to something else; so give them a good reason to not want to put it down.




Saturday, September 22, 2018

How Do I Start my Book? πŸ“š

I will admit that there is a lot of time and effort involved in writing a book. However, once broken down into small, manageable tasks, it actually isn't bad. Of course, it also has to be something you enjoy, otherwise, you will be struck with writer's block, find excuses not to work on it or probably toss it aside altogether.

So let's begin!

Your tenth-grade creative writing teacher probably told you to outline everything before you start writing. I disagree. For me, this would never work. There has to be a certain amount of spontaneity involved to keep it fresh and interesting. If you can easily plot out the chapters and figure out the ending before getting past chapter one, chances are your reader will too. Remember, readers are very savvy and automatically try to figure things out as soon as they pick up a book. If you have no idea what is going to happen until you're typing it, chances are they will be just as surprised.

Not to say you shouldn't jot down ideas but I wouldn't bother organizing right away. You can picture specific scenes, conversations, events and know they're going to fit in somewhere, you just don't have to know where yet. Also, you must follow the natural flow of the story and take the characters into consideration; how will each action affect them? What is their own unique path or struggle? How does it fit in with the rest of the story?

Of course, I'm talking about fiction but what about non-fiction? Are the rules the same?

I probably would have an outline for something that falls under non-fiction, but with room to breathe so that you can see how the story flows and which angle it takes. Make sure it is factual and be ready to list any sources you might be using. Remember, you don't want to get sued.

Regardless of what you write, the first draft should be fun. Editing is another story. Let's not go there today. ☺️





Thursday, September 20, 2018

Why do authors bug the shit out of you for a review! πŸ™„

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not shy to ask for a book review.  It doesn't have to be a long review, it doesn't have to have a lot of detail, it just has to be some reflection on what the reader thought of the book. A simple 'I enjoyed this book' would be sufficient.

And it's not about ego. Authors don't chase down reviews to feel good about themselves but because it gives new and potential readers some insight into what kind of books you write. I can say whatever I wish in my YouTube videos or blogs, put what I want on social media or create a terrific description for the back cover but sometimes what people really want is an outside party's point of view. What kind of book is it? Was it a fast read? Did it keep you hanging on? Was it exciting? Did it leave you wanting more?

Not that authors don't appreciate positive comments outside of reviews. In fact, we love them!! Like, with all the big hearts in the world ❤️❤️❤️we totally love them but unfortunately, people who aren't familiar with us or our work might be skeptical. Many readers stick with the tried and true authors, the ones everyone is raving about online and whoever is on Oprah's reading list and that's understandable but it makes our job finding readers a bit more difficult.

A review can make a difference. I know I've certainly hesitated to purchase a product (especially online) unless I was able to compare reviews to see what other people think. I've also heard it can affect your ratings on Amazon too but I'm not really sure if that is true. I'm guessing it can't hurt though. ☺️

So that's why authors bug the shit out of you for reviews.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Why do we love the anti-hero? πŸ”ͺ

Oh, those bad boys and girls! Don't we love them?

There's just something about the rebellion and going against the grain character that we love. Perhaps it is the fact that these characters sometimes do what we wish we could in real life? Is it because we get a small thrill about 'sticking it to the man'? Is there something attractive or sexy about the character that thumbs their nose at the world? What is the draw to this character?

When most of us were children, we were often given the impression that there were 'good' and 'bad' guys in life. The good guys could be trusted. The bad guys should be avoided. It was pretty simple and to the point. Bad guys always had mustaches and looked shady, while good guys wore a suit of some kind of 'respectable' uniform (so, like, not the one from when you flipped burgers in college).

However, if life teaches us anything (especially now that the Internet sheds light on a lot of dark corners) it is that the lines in the sand aren't always so clear. Maybe the religious figure from your youth turned out to be a pedophile or you witnessed a cop beat the crap out of an innocent citizen. Whatever it was, you may now have a slight aversion to what you once viewed as the 'good guy' and find yourself slightly intrigued by the 'bad guy', therefore making you drawn to characters who don't exactly play by the rules.

Of course, I could be overanalyzing. Maybe we just like watching bombs blowing up everywhere and some devilish character pushing the button. What do you think? Why do you love the antihero (assuming you do)? Maybe the answer might surprise you.


Friday, September 14, 2018

The Curse of Chapter Two! ✌🏼

For some reason, I often have issues writing chapter two. I guess it's because there is so much drama in chapter one that it seems to kind of fall flat in comparison. Also, I'm responsible for setting up the story and introducing the characters in the first couple of chapters and after all the crazy events (hopefully!) in chapter one, suddenly I'm left to pull it all together.

At least, that's what I try to tell myself.

In honesty, since recording this specific YouTube video talking about the issue, I've been going out of my way to make chapter two as dynamic as chapter one. I learned that it was important to keep up the same energy For example, in my book The Devil is Smooth Like Honey, I have a very interesting scene between Jorge Hernandez and Paige NoΓ«l after they meet under unusual circumstances. In fact, this is probably one of my better chapter twos.

Is there a curse of chapter two? Perhaps it was a challenge I merely had to take on.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Why it's important to see through the character's eyes πŸ‘

One of the really cool aspects of writing for me has been able to get inside a character's head. I love being able to see things through their point of view, to understand where they are coming from due to their experiences and being able to demonstrate this to the reader. There's something really awesome about seeing through someone else's eyes and I wish everyone could do it more in everyday life. It's really easy to judge or put people in categories but it's much more difficult to step back and get a sense of understanding; then again, that's possibly why most people don't make the effort.

With characters, you simply have no choice but to understand and appreciate their journey. This is probably one of the biggest lessons I've learned from writing and probably one that I apply to my everyday life. Actually, when I first started to write as a teenager, I remember that as one of the key reasons why the whole process appealed to me. I felt there wasn't enough understanding of other people and that through characters, we could all open our eyes a little wider and perhaps show some compassion as opposed to ignorance.

Fast forward to years later and I think this lesson is even more relevant than ever. When we look at our world today, we definitely see a strong disconnect, a lot of judgment and even more so, a vast divide. One of the beautiful things about the characters I write about is that they come from many different backgrounds and experiences and I make great efforts to show how this relates to their current situations.

Interesting enough, real life isn't that much different if we take the time to investigate.





Sunday, September 9, 2018

Do we judge women writers differently? πŸ‘©πŸΌ

Female writers. Lots of us out there. I'm just wondering if many women writers are conscious of whether or not their book comes across as being too feminine? Do women worry about covers that look too girly or do they avoid topics that suggest wedding bells, hearts and flowers? Is there a concern about making the male characters 'too soft' or not making their female characters strong enough? Do women writers feel they are taken as seriously as men in the business?

I'm just curious. I've noticed some comments in the media that have suggested that women writers sometimes feel that they aren't taken as seriously as their male counterparts, especially if they write romance or anything to 'fluffy and frilly'. Having said that, the romance industry is actually vastly popular, so this shouldn't be the case and yet, I've heard it is. 

Personally, I tend to write about darker topics such as rock stars, gangsters and vampires; all of which probably have a more masculine vibe but regardless, I am very conscious of my potential audience when I'm doing things like picking out a cover. I know women will grab a book with a masculine cover but men, on the other hand, are less likely to go for anything that looks too 'girly'. It's kind of sad that we even need to have this discussion in 20-fucking-18 but chances are things aren't going to change anytime soon. 🀭

And so, when I pick out my covers, I think about this kind of thing. When I'm writing my synopsis, I think about this kind of thing. When I create my characters, I think about this kind of thing. I like to believe that all my books are potentially appealing to both men and women. 

In fairness, I make sure all my characters are strong (or become stronger within the book) because I really don't like 'soft' characters, regardless of their sex. There's nothing appealing about a male or female protagonist that whines, cries and complains all the time (God knows we have enough of those people in the real world, why read about them too? 🀭) or is simply too soft. Honestly, I don't think this appeals to anyone. 

The truth is that I often feel, that as a women writer, I am kind of judged and therefore maybe work a bit harder to show that I can play with the boys. No one could ever accuse me of having 'girly' books but even if I did, should I be ashamed of it? Should any female writer?