Tips for Indy Authors part 2: Finding the time

Unless you’ve got all the time in the world to dedicate to your writing you may feel pressured and distressed that you just can’t find the time to get those words down.

You work all day, might have to look after the kids etc, writing is sometimes the last thing you want to do with your precious free time. Sometimes you just want to relax and do nothing which is fair enough. However, I’ve come up with some ways to ensure that you can get at least a few words down per day.

In my day job, for example, I work as a content creator which often sees me writing creative pieces and newsy type articles throughout much of the day. Sometimes I wish that the words I was putting down for work were going into my books and other days I simply wish I could be as creative for my own stuff as I am in my daily job. Sometimes the last thing I want to do after a 9-hour day is getting home and whipping out the computer and write.

Writing a novel is a time-consuming business. A 50,000-word novel is at least 50 hours’ worth of work just to hammer out the first draft not to mention all the planning and thinking that it entails. With rewrites, design and marketing efforts included, an Indy author could spend 100’s if not 1000’s of hours on their projects.

It’s a battle of will

I know I need to get those words down if I’m ever going to finish the blasted book, so it becomes a battle of will with yourself. All I can say is that it doesn’t help to work yourself up about it. Taking a break is no bad thing when it comes to writing. Putting pressure on yourself and forcing those words out has often in my experience directly caused the dreaded writer’s block.

Writing should be a fun experience, by turning it into a chore or job can take that fun out of the experience which in turn will make you even more frustrated if you can’t find some time to do it. You need to ask yourself why you’re writing in the first place. Is it just a hobby? Do you want this to be your career? You need to ask this fundamental question before deciding on how much of your precious time you should devote to it.

Try what’s best for you

Early bird?

Some people get up and go the gym stupidly early in the mornings if you’re a writer and an early bird than why not do something similar? Get some words in before the kids’ wakeup or before you must go to work.

Make the most of lunch hours

Doctors will probably frown at this suggestion but what about writing throughout your break times at work? It’s no different than colleagues who choose to watch some TV during the lunch hour. I would suggest, however, that you get out for some fresh air and eat something too. Don’t squander that precious hour. With smartphones, you can easily download a writing app and get some words down.

Can you write on the commute?

Do you have a long commute in the mornings or evenings? When I used to work in Bristol, I’d have to take an hour-long bus journey in the mornings and evenings to get to and from work. During those often-dull times stuck in traffic, I’d whip out my Kindle and use a word processing app to write. It was doing this that allowed me to write much of The First Fear.

Have an end goal in sight

This is something I myself need to work on more and that is setting yourself a strict deadline and sticking to it. One of the pros of being an Indy author is that there is no time limit put on you by a publisher – but it can also be a negative. It’s also easy to say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow or next week’. There’s no rush or pressure on when you get that book finished except the pressure you put on yourself.

Don’t be selfish

I know this is one is easier than it sounds. Most of us have other commitments and people we love in our lives. Do not neglect them and try to make a compromise. You don’t have to spend every moment with each other but ensure that your writing time is understood by a partner or family members and be sure to limit that time. Locking yourself away for days on end may work for some folks but just think about the other people in your life.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

Tips for Indy Authors part 1: Planning

Hi everyone, I was working on my latest book and being distracted by social media (Damn you Facebook!) when I realised that there are so many writers out there that don’t have a clue how about getting their work out there. In this new series of blog posts, I’ll be covering some of the basics.

Now you may be thinking that it might be a bad idea to help other writers. After all the competition out there is fierce and I myself would be classed as a struggling author. In reality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the years is that helping one another is really important.

One of the most common questions I see on social media is about how authors go about getting started and planning their books.

It all starts with an idea

A muse, creativity, imagination call it what you like but there has to be something that creates that initial spark. Not everyone possesses such a thing whereas others can be consumed by it. In my case, I get inspiration from the world around me. The news, hobbies such as gaming, people watching (not in a creepy way) and history are great sources of inspiration. It’s hard to describe the feeling when an idea takes root but you know it’s a good one when your mind constantly goes back to it. This where the idea of a muse comes in, a little voice in your head that nags you to look into it more. Sometimes an idea can be tenacious, other times it can hit like a lightning bolt or a Eureka moment.

In fantasy especially, I often start out by creating the world the story will be set in. I’ve written about world building before so check those posts out here. At this phase, you can get lost in creating a history or lore of the world and its during this phase that planning rises to the fore. I have notebooks and word documents filled with timelines, character and place names. I find it helps to write them down by hand first and then compile them onto a computer later.

Once this initial burst of creativity has occurred the actual story is the next step. Now, this is where being an author gets a little weird. In effect, you become something like a god. You create characters that in your mind might be as real as you or I and then you plop these ‘people’ into the world you created. I myself have experienced and been told by other writers that once they do this their characters often do unexpected things that shift a story into an entirely unexpected direction.

I’ve been experiencing this in my current project and while interesting such detours can put a spanner in the works of the story you’re trying to tell. This is why planning is so important.

Pantsing vs Plotting

I am what would be considered a pantser writer which means aside from having a broad outline of how I want a story to go I just let my mind run free and make it up as I go along. Others really struggle with this method and instead intricately plan out every page of a story. No method is better than other as a pantser can often write themselves into a corner thanks to troublesome characters not behaving and a strict planner can become stifled and trapped by their plan to the point of feeling trapped. The perfect method would be to incorporate the two, which is something that I myself am trying more and more.

raybradburyplot

In my current project, I still have a beginning and an endpoint that the story has to reach but whereas before I would wing it and see what happens to reach that end, I am now creating strict plot points that each chapter has to hit. How they are hit however is left to my imagination and it can be tricky reigning in a plot that is trying to go off on a different tangent.

There is software that provides plenty of planning functions and options but for me, a good old-fashioned notepad works best.

Writing is a learning experience and we all develop our own ways of planning out our projects. I’d love to hear what techniques you use. Are you a pantser or a strict planner? Let me know in the comments.

In part 2 I’ll be covering the common question of ‘How do you find the time to write?’.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, oh and please subscribe to my mailing list for the latest news and book deals.

 

What to do for NanoWriMo 2018?

So, it’s nearly that time of year again when writers both professional and amateur start to think about what they’re going to write for National Novel Writing Month.

What is NanoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.

It sounds impossible right? And it certainly is a huge challenge. I’ve entered it a few times now and have only hit that magic 50k mark twice. Last year I wrote some tips on how to succeed which you can read here.

So, what do you write for it? In my case I think I’m going to use it to help me put down as many words as possible for both The Empowered Ones book two and Book four in the Sundered Crown Saga. The problem is which do I choose?

Have your say

Which title should I work on? Which is the series you want me to crack on with the most?

In other news, if you’re a mailing list subscriber keep an eye out for my next email which will give you access to a little gift for Halloween. If you’re not a subscriber please sign up to it here

There’s also some news on the promotional front so keep an eye out on my social media pages for the announcement of special book offers next month. There’s a big SPFBO promotion coming up which will be a great opportunity for you to get some excellent fantasy books.

Are you taking part in NanoWriMo this year? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments or via social media.

Get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter

 

What I’ve Learnt About Self-Publishing – Writing is not for the faint-hearted

Being a writer is a profession that leaves you wide open to critics from all walks of life and backgrounds. You may think you’ve written the best thing ever but be assured that someone somewhere will think its terrible and will most likely relish the chance of putting the boot in.

Now I’ve received this treatment in both my working career as a copywriter and as an Indy Author. Sometimes there is just no pleasing people. A lot of the time the criticism is constructive (no-one is perfect especially me!) but sometimes, just sometimes you encounter people that simply defy all logic and reason. I’ve had people complain about a piece of content I’ve written, but not give any reason whatsoever as to why they disliked it and then I’ve had it where an article I’ve drafted is literally waved in front of my face and been told its crap. Writing is not for the faint-hearted, and it’s a bloody tough profession to succeed in.

So many Indy authors experience the annoyance of obtuse or downright nasty negative reviews on the likes of Amazon. I’ve had some that have said I’m the worst writer ever, others that they simply hated the book and that’s that.

When I was still fresh to self-publishing, each of those reviews stung, and I was personally offended by them (so much so that I even replied to a few). Now though I simply shrug my shoulders and say to myself ‘Each to their own, you cannot please everyone’. As tempting as it is, as upset as you may become, do not respond to negative reviews.

Now don’t get me wrong, don’t just ignore the comments of bad reviews, if they’re genuinely critical then take on board what they have to say. For example, I’ve had a 2-star review that outlined things that I could improve upon, and I am genuinely grateful to that person for writing it as they were correct to highlight things that could and were improved in later titles.

Some reviews, however, are just nasty for the sake of it, and it seems some people simply get a kick out of abusing indy authors. My favourite one has to be a 1-star review from a guy or gal who named themselves The Hater. This sad act of a human being trawls through Indy books on Amazon and just 1-stars them all for no good reason.

There’s a great thread on Goodreads about 1-star reviews that you can check out here

Which brings me to the fact that as an Indy writer you WILL encounter plenty of crazy individuals. I guess as writing falls into the same category of the arts this is to be expected. It draws out all manner of eccentric personalities, (hell, just check out some of the writer’s groups on Facebook for proof of that!)

At the end of the day if we want to succeed at this we all need to develop a thick skin (easier said then done). Learn from every piece of genuine criticism and ignore the bullshit (there’s a lot of that out there). We suffer through the bad times and the negativity because we are writers and it’s what we love to do. Never let the bastards grind you down, keep going, and one day you might just succeed. I’m trying to do just that.

Leave a comment below or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter

What I’ve learnt about self-publishing – Book Promotion is Changing

Often when indy authors are asked; ‘What is the thing you need the most help with?’ the answer is most often ‘marketing’. And it’s because of this answer that there are now hundreds of different services offering to promote your books.

Since publishing Heir to the Sundered Crown back in 2014 I’ve experimented with a wide variety of these services. Sites such as Booksends, Fussy Librarian etc are basically businesses that have large mailing lists that they send daily deals to their subscribers. An author pays them for a spot on one of their mailing lists (often sent out on a specific day) and these prices can vary from as little as a single Dollar to hundreds of Dollars.

Bookbub

The holy grail of these sites, however, must be Bookbub. With a mailing list of hundreds of thousands from across the world, landing a promotion with this site is incredibly difficult due to the sheer number of authors applying for promotions. This fact alone tells you just how highly regarded Bookbub is to many Indy authors.

Personally, I’ve only ever managed to get a UK Bookbub promotion and that was a good few years ago now, the results of which were by far the best I’ve ever had in comparison to other promoters. Now don’t go thinking Bookbub will propel your book to the top of the sales charts, the book still has to be good enough for people to want to buy it which means having a professional looking book cover and quality writing.

The market is changing

As I mentioned in my previous post I’m part of a small group of authors called Firebound Books. We regularly compare our promotional data and the main thing that we’ve all discovered is that the market is changing. Whereas a few years ago a promotion on the smaller sites would guarantee a decent amount of sales and a boost to the sales rankings. Today, the payoff from the same sites is a lot smaller for paid titles. Even 99p/c sales result in very few sales and often fail to cover the initial cost of the promotions. As I’ve discussed before (read here) it now seems that the only way to guarantee large numbers of downloads is to give your books away for free.

The main cause of this seems to be that the majority of the promotion sites are massively oversubscribed with authors. Some of their mailing lists have gone from advertising just three books per day to ten and if your book is put at the bottom of the list then you’ll likely see a poor return for the investment.

To overcome this decline in returns we must do things differently. The market is now swamped with books and only by improving the quality of indy books can we hope to continue to make a dent in the market. Good book covers and most importantly well-written books are key. Unfortunately, Indy authors are often given a bad name because of the countless poor-quality books produced. We need to up our game if we are to remain competitive in this ever-changing marketplace.

For a list of book promotion sites look here.

Leave a comment below or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter

What I’ve learnt about self-publishing – It’s a collaborative effort

Writing is a lonely profession. It’s a fact. Sure you can talk to people for ideas, but when it comes down to it, it’s just you and the thoughts spilling out of your head.

For a long time, I was going solo. I’d used Terran Defenders and my historical fiction novel Unconquered: Blood of Kings as an experiment into the world of self-publishing and had learnt a fair bit about the technical side of how things worked. It was shortly after this that I finally got down to writing the fantasy tale that had been floating about in my head for many years. It took me three years to finish the first draft of Heir to the Sundered Crown, and it was with this book that I put into practice all I had learnt until that point.

I promoted the book via social media and writing groups and thanks to the support of other indy authors its release (to me anyway) was a huge success. At one point it even outsold Game of Thrones in the USA, an amazing achievement for an author that no one had (still hasn’t) heard of. The success was shortlived, however, and the book drifted off down the Amazon charts to hover around the 50k level.

Collaboration

It was after I launched Heir that I was contacted by a Mr Rob May, another fantasy author who’d grown a large fanbase on Wattpad. He had an idea, and it was one that has proven to be a massive help to me. His idea was to bring together a small number of other fantasy authors and together we would assist each other when it came to creative ideas and the more technical side of things.

Tony Garrett joined, quickly followed by Kate Cudahy bringing our merry band to four. We brainstormed some ideas, and Firebound Books was born. The idea behind Firebound was that when it came to publication on Amazon and other channels, we would do so under that name. It gave us a more professional air to the process.

Via regular communication (most through Facebook messenger) we devised strategies for our literary work. Together we discovered which promotional channels (I’ll be writing about that soon) were the most effective, the best ways to create and launch our individual websites and assist each other with story ideas.

Editing and proofreading are vital. It’s something that many indy authors discover at some point either via reviews or just from giving their books another read through. Even books published by the big publishing houses contain the odd error so I can guarantee yours will contain at least a handful. Finding a good reliable editor can be tricky as you have to navigate the many charlatans that prey on indy authors. Collaboration helps massively here too as fellow authors can share their recommendations to you.

It’s not just publishing that we help each other out on. Being an indy author is a tough thing to be and at times can be hugely demoralising. By collaborating we help pick each other up and keep our shared enthusiasm for writing going. Persistence is key, and I’m sure one day that one of us (hopefully all of us) will truly reach the big time.

When we’ve finished drafts of our books, we get the others to read them through, and Rob, in particular, is a great proofreader. He’s also good with helping with cover designs and the more technical side of formatting.

All in all, without the collaborative efforts of my fellow Firebound authors I know that I would most likely have given up as a fiction writer. If you want an easy life and one free of worries then writing is not the profession to pursue. It can be downright scary and unreliable. Finding others to collaborate with, however, can provide invaluable support in the darkest of times.

In the next blog, I’ll discuss the minefield that self-publishing world is and how to avoid falling victim to the scammers and con artists that want to prey on you.

Get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter

Follow me on Amazon and check out my books at https://www.amazon.com/Matthew-Olney/e/B00LE9XEBS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

 

What I’ve learnt about self-publishing – Making friends and joining communities

In this series of blog posts, I’m going to tell you about what I’ve experienced and learnt about the self-publishing world. Staying motivated about a work in progress can be tough especially as writing books can take months and years at a time. Encouragement from readers and other writers is vital to keep you going.

Make Contacts and join communities

I started on this self-publishing journey back in 2010 when I started writing what would become Terran Defenders: Genesis.

I’d graduated from university in 2008 with a degree in journalism but thanks to the Great Recession decimating much of the newspaper industry and with the rise of online publications that profession was nigh impossible to break into.

I worked shitty job after shitty job just, so I could afford the rent and put food on the table, and I soon realised that if I didn’t keep writing, I’d lose that thing that all writers have. A need to write. So, in my spare time, I got to work on writing a daft science fiction book that in a lot of ways saved me from losing the plot and giving up on my search to break into the cutthroat world of a paid writing job.

Terran Defenders: Genesis took a year to write, and at the end of it I wondered what to do next. That’s when I discovered the world of Webook (a website that was the precursor for sites like Wattpad). Back in the day, Webook was a fantastic community of writers and readers. I met many interesting people and even made some friends (Aaron from the US I’m looking at you, buddy). I received a great response to the book on there, and it was there that indy publishing was brought to my attention. The Amazon Kindle was still relatively new to the market, and those early pioneering writers were having some great successes.

The Webook community helped me to find confidence in my ability as a writer. I was still learning much of the tricks of the trade at that point, and the advice and guidance of some of the older folks were invaluable.

Sadly, as with everything in life, good things always come to an end, and Webook was no exception. The site was sold, and soon the community began to drift apart and find new avenues for their work such as Wattpad (more on that in a minute). If you venture onto Webook, nowadays the place is a ghost of its former self. The user interface remains the same it was back in 2010 and looks ancient compared to modern sites which is a crying shame. I found that place far more engaging and useful than I ever did Wattpad.

By joining communities, you can test the waters with a work in progress. Readers always spot things that the author does not, and if a plot point doesn’t make sense, then they will most certainly point that out. Use them as critics and proofreaders, (one thing I’ve learnt is that there is always some smartass who just loves playing the role of a grammar nazi. They may come across as patronising or aggressive but look through that at the points they’re trying to make and fix accordingly if they have a point.)

Wattpad

One of the main writing communities these days is Wattpad. I fully embraced this site for a while as like Webook there was a solid community of writers and readers, however, as time went on I discovered that there are issues with plagiarism, not to mention that many of the site’s users seemed to favour genres that I don’t write in. (Teenagers really like cheesy romances for some reason). The forums were great for sharing tips and tricks of the trade, and it was via Wattpad that Heir to the Sundered Crown won the 2014 Write Awards. A competition where Wattpad users voted on their favourite entries. Winning this gave me a big confidence boost, and shortly afterwards I published the book via Amazon where it performed very strongly (and is still my best seller).

Facebook

Social media channels have hundreds, if not thousands of groups just for writers. I’ve met some great authors, and it was via one of these that I was made aware of the now annual SPFBO competition hosted by Mark Lawrence (author of Red Sister, Prince of Thorns etc..). I entered Heir into this year’s contest, but alas it never made it past the first round. I wasn’t too down about that however as simply having the experience, and a chance to meet and communicate with other Indy fantasy authors was invaluable.

Be aware that Facebook is also filled with trolls and asshats too. For every conversation about real writing issues, there’s one where a person is either insulting someone else or just posting inane nonsense. Trolls are just a part of life, and as an author, you’d best be prepared to be on the receiving end of them.

Here are some Facebook groups I’ve found most useful –

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FantasyFaction/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1800355053523765/

In my next blog, I’ll cover how to get those words down onto the page, something that many wannabe writers struggle with.

Are there any writing communities that you’re a part of? Let me know in the comments!

 

Get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter

Follow me on Amazon and check out my books at https://www.amazon.com/Matthew-Olney/e/B00LE9XEBS/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

Writers: How to Be a Fairy Godmother

In this latest guest blog post, Rebekah DeVall the author of When Your Melody Fades gives us some tips on how to be inspired.

Fairy Godmothers got all the good stuff. Seriously. You don’t see pretty capes or magic wands sitting around anywhere besides a costume store, do you? And if you do, they’re most certain to be counterfeits.

Figures, when we writers need all the magic and bippity-boppity-booing that we can get. After all, we’re expected to pull full worlds and stories out of thin air, aren’t we?

Now, my fairy godmother is out somewhere today, but she’s left me a note giving me her Top 3 Tips on How to Be a Fairy Godmother.

 

  1. Steal for all you’re worth.

As somebody sometime said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Did you really think the Beast’s enchantress (from Beauty and the Beast, of course, what other beast do you know?) just invented a mirror for him out of thin air? Ha ha. Yeah right. She stole the idea from the Evil Queen’s fairy godmother, fifty-seven years ago, in 1937 to be exact.

Be a fairy godmother. You see a worldbuilding aspect you like in someone else’s work? Steal it. Just make sure you cover up your tracks. Fairy godmothers don’t take kindly to the theft of their ideas.

 

  1. Choose a time period.

Use your gifts wisely. If you must bippity-boppity-boo a magical object or gift out of the air for one of your damsels in distress (ahem, characters), make it time-appropriate. Cinderella was given glass slippers, not neon pink stilettos.

A modern-day damsel in distress must not be given the art of drawing on cave walls—unless you intend to lock her up in a cave somewhere, in which case you deserve whatever grief she gives you.

This includes their names. Fairy godmothers aren’t just called to bless a baby on their birth, they’re often called to christen the baby too.

Cinderella was christened Ella. Christening her Apple or Montana would have been a dreadful mistake. Though Rapunzel’s name was ridiculous in its meaning, it fit her time period, as did Charming for the prince.

Be a fairy godmother. Name your people according to their time period.

 

  1. Storm castles.

Fairy godmothers are too often envisioned as being weird old ladies who give gifts—or curses, remember Ella Enchanted—to little girls and nothing more. That… isn’t always true.

Fairy godmothers have affected royalty for many ages, far longer than most care to admit. They raise kingdoms, demolish kingdoms; begin wars, end wars; bring to life and send to death. They stare fearlessly into the face of battle and of death and laugh.

Be a fairy godmother. Bring your people—your characters—to the brink of death and back. Take them to the depths of the deepest ocean—and don’t be afraid to let them drown.

Raise kingdoms and demolish them. You weren’t given that magic wand—I mean, pen—only to whip dresses and slippers and pumpkins into existence.

Give your stories meaning. Bring them to their peak, drop them to their deepest depths. Don’t fear danger. Don’t fear adventure.

Be a fairy godmother. Be brave.

*

Fancy writing a guest post? Get in touch via Facebook and Twitter

Please sign up to the newsletter

Susan Perrow and the Healing Power of Storytelling

In this latest guest post writer C. East discusses the power stories have to heal.

*

 This morning I listened to an interview with Susan Perrow on 702 ABC (Australia) ‘Conversations with Richard Fidler’. Perrow is a passionate writer, storyteller, teacher trainer and parent educator. Listening to her tell her life and career stories inspired me to tell others about this incredible talent and her unique work. She’s known as a ‘Therapeutic Storyteller’ and believes in the healing power of stories.

Stories have been an integral part of humanity’s existence, probably since we could produce intelligent speech, to communicate in oral tradition; knowledge, wisdom, belonging, danger, safety, hope and many more, which have enabled us to survive and thrive long before modern times.

Some indigenous people’s use the oral tradition of storytelling otherwise known as; ‘dreaming/songlines’ to First Nations people in Australia. For First Nations people of Australia they used storytelling to teach each generation the lines they would walk as nomadic people, where to find water, hunt for food, sacred places, healing places and their own laws and culture.

In a modern context, storytelling is just as vital to our existence, surviving the rigors & stressors of modern times and thriving in these circumstances, requires more joy and hope perhaps than ever before.

There are stories for; explaining death to children, giving hope to adults & children alike, encouraging imagination & learning, and stories to distract from our busy, fast-paced, stressful lives. Slowing down to read a book, is a simple pleasure which most people can enjoy.

Towards the end if the interview Pellow detailed the power of storytelling in one tale as she briefly recounted an opportunity given to her by Norway, after the bombing in Oslo & mass shooting at a summer youth camp in Utøya in 2011, when 77 were killed, 69 of those youths and 319 injured by Anders Behring Breivik.

Norway asked her to write a story for children ranging from primary school age through to high school age, it was to be read on the children’s first day back at school since the attack over the summer, they wanted a story to instil hope in the children after what had happened, as every child in Norway would have been privy to what had occurred. It was a big responsibility and Perrow didn’t feel adequate for the task, but did some research anyway, which sparked the idea.

She came across information on the marches the Prime Minister of the day organized for every major city to march with roses, citing “we are going to answer hatred with love”. And so they did, every person from children and babies to 80 year olds participated, they marched together each carrying a single red rose, which were carried through the streets and then left in the town squares.

She also discovered that Norway has a royal family and castles, the whole fantastical ideal for a fairy-tale story.

Perrow said she had a vision of a rose, a rogue thorn and falling petals, so combining this and the Norway culture of royalty, “The Rose and the Thorn” was born.

Teachers read the story to children and children started their school year not in fear or grief, but in hope. Teachers said children drew pictures of the story and spoke about it, it was exactly what was intended and shows how the right story, at the right time can give you what you need to be happy, to be healed, to change your mindset, and perhaps even your life.

You can listen to Susan Perrow conversation with Richard Fiddler here:

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-susan-perrow/8495006

More about Susan Perrow can be found on her webpage:

http://susanperrow.com/about/

 

Description and other monsters

Description and other monsters

In this latest guest post, Aiden Meyer discusses how to write descriptions and the importance it has on a story.

*

Oddly enough, description does a lot more than just describe things. Think about this: “The sky was gray.” It’s the simplest, blandest description you can come up with, and yet it does more than just say that the sky was gray. If the sky is gray, the sun isn’t shining, there might be a chance of rain or snow, the atmosphere might be heavier, the world might be bleaker. What I’m getting at is that description doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Let’s see how it impacts everything else and how to make it come alive in the reader’s head.

Senses: This is probably the first lesson in description, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Since the world is being witnessed by someone, keeping only to sight limits how much you can immerse the reader into your world. Having wonderful visual descriptions is great, but it’s in the smell, in the hearing, in taste and in touch that your reader will feel your world. It doesn’t mean you need to have your characters licking lampposts all the time, but trying to incorporate all senses can really pay off.

Motion: This is how you bring the setting to life. Having dynamic elements in your description will make the world feel alive. The flickering of a light, servants rushing around, tending to their duties, a flock of birds heading south, grasshoppers jumping out of the characters’ way. It gives the impression that there’s more happening in the world than just your plot. When everyone and everything move independently, the world feels real, not a static playground for your characters.

Interaction: Having characters interact with the environment, especially during dialogue, can be a great way to use description. Not only does it break up dialogue and lessen that talking head feel, but it also helps your descriptions feel less like a list of traits. For example, you can make a character stir the fireplace and throw a log into the glowing embers while he speaks. When the characters interact with their environment, both become better for it.

Cause and effect: Things in the setting need to have an effect on the POV character. If there’s a horrible smell in the air, the character needs to have a reaction. What that reaction is depends on the type of character, but they need to react somehow. The heat should make them sweat, fan themselves. A cold breeze should yield a shudder and so on. Make sure your environment affects your characters, and their actions change the environment.

Entire books can be written on the topic and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should have you on your way. Experiment, practice, and keep working on it!

Find out more about Aidan at – https://www.aidanmeyer.net/

Check out his novel here- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ82L75

*

Fancy writing a guest post? Get in touch via Facebook and Twitter

As an extra incentive to sign up to my mailing list you will receive a free copy of my latest book: The Nightblade. Sign up today and claim your free book!
https://www.instafreebie.com/free/aDyLQ