Ok, granted most writers are introverts, we tend to shy away from parties or hide in a corner and hope no one talks to us. I’ve become a little more outgoing over the years but I still prefer quiet over noise. Unless, of course, I’m taking notes for a party scene in my next novel!
Invitation to a Launch Party
Fear not, this invitation is for an online party and you don’t have to talk to anyone in person or virtually, only in comments and only if you want to. Kirstie, my co-author, and I want to share our excitement with all of you on the release of our new workbook for fiction authors.
There are almost 200 pages of writing tips, information, brainstorming prompts, character building graphics, mapping graphs and tips for creating a new world, plus posters to encourage you along the way, publishing tips, marketing strategies and launch ideas. Then we go through the promotional steps you can take to grow your following, branding yourself as an author and successfully marketing your books.
The workbook fits regular copy-size pages so it’s easy to take along. So if you’d love a place to collect all your creative thoughts, plot your scenes and have it all handy in one place, this will be a great workbook for you!
I hope you can join us for the Facebook launch of THE NOVEL AUTHOR’S WORKBOOK!
Tips, Games and Prizes!
We’ll be hosting four hours of fun with writing tips, games and prizes from 2pm – 6pm, Ontario Eastern time. And there’ll be lots of chances for extroverts to interact and launch ‘Congratulations’ balloons (I just love seeing those float up on my screen!). Add yourself to the guest list!
If you’ve been writing your story along with me, you probably have a pretty good idea of who your hero protagonist, their main sidekick, and the evil antagonist and his henchmen are and what they’re doing when your story starts, but how did they become who they are? Why is your protagonist a charming young female who loves to wander the forests of a mystical land on horseback? Why is her companion an outcast from a faraway land? What led your antagonist to despise all Elves?
What’s the story behind your story?
How do you find out the backstory of your story? As you know, I’m learning this whole process as I go along – like most of you too, I expect, as I write my Dwarf story. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
In my research, I discovered that the best information to start with is the character’s birth. (Duh.)
I also found as I wrote my first NaNoWriMo novel draft in 2015, it really does help to plot all this before you start writing your novel. I wasted many hours going back to a previous chapter to correct something I didn’t realize about my character until halfway through. Did I mention I switched my focus halfway through the story? Yep, the first half was a superhero and the second half was – well, I’m not exactly sure but it wasn’t a superhero. Something I learned from a fellow NaNo writer was to write all the main characters on sticky notes or in a journal with their own page, then add anything you discover about them as you write so you don’t lose track of information. Scrivener is another, more technical, way to organize your work. (The link goes to their page for a discount).
Let’s start with the protagonist
Where they were born and were there any unusual circumstances surrounding their birth?
Was it an easy birth?
Was the father present?
Were they delivered by a doctor or a travelling healer?
Maybe in their realm, they were delivered by supernatural means.
How many siblings did they have?
Write as much as you know about the birth of your protagonist.
Then go on to childhood.
Did they go to school?
Who was their best friend?
What was their favourite subject?
Did they excel at anything?
Did their experiences as a child influence their career choice?
Were they homeschooled or sent away at a young age to apprentice with someone?
Were they born with all the knowledge they would need in life?
How did that happen?
Your protagonist as an adult.
What drove them to be in the situation they’re in now?
Did they suffer prejudice, health issues or a failed relationship?
Write as many life events as you can think of and delete each one as you write.
Be open to adding new things you discover about your protagonist as your story unfolds.
Let the story evolve and delete any notes that no longer apply.
Then do the same for your major antagonist.
Ask why they’re angry, mean, and vicious.
People don’t start out that way as a newborn baby so what happened in their past to steer them down that path?
Is the antagonist driven by fear, guilt or jealousy?
Why do they have metal teeth or wear a mask?
Do the same for a few minor characters. Write only what’s important for your reader to know, not their entire life story.
Take a look at The Watcher by Sara Davison as a great example of backstory for her protagonist, Kathryn Ellison. Check out The Watcher on Amazon.
and Great Expectations as a wonderfully written backstory for the antagonist, the embittered Miss Havisham. Check out Great Expectations on Amazon
Do you know the personalities of these people who live in your head?
Have you spent enough time with them to know how they’d feel about what’s going on in their story?
Would their reactions to certain events or a flippant statement lead to a fight scene?
If they saw a mouse in the kitchen would they scream and jump up on the couch?
How to get to know your characters
Knowing your characters well enough to be able to use their personality traits to your advantage as you write your novel will make the writing flow easier and create logical and organic story arcs.
For example, who is your protagonist likely to befriend?
Who may hate your protagonist?
What drives your protagonist’s passion?
What may drive a particular character crazy?
How would your antagonist behave in an argument?
As I study the next steps in writing my novel, I realize I can’t answer some of the questions I need to ask to plot my story. The reason being, I don’t know what my character would do in any given situation. So, I need to take the time to get to know who these people are and what their responses would be to the events I want in my story. I need to be able to walk through this story with my characters and see, hear, touch, smell and taste what they experience and how they respond to the circumstances I set before them.
We need to take time to get to know everyone in our story. It’s fascinating and fruitful. Once we know our main characters well we’ll be better able to write an accurate and believable story. It may come in handy with a few of those friends who’re giving us a hard time. If we understand people better we may just be able to get along better.
When we write fantasy or any other genre of fictional story we need to name our characters. We get to create the people and creatures and then give them a name, so they come ‘alive’ to us as we write and to the reader who’s going to be blown away by our stories. Cool, huh?
Reading and researching old books from the countries or regions which have influenced your setting can be a big help. Consider the character of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Heath means ‘an area of land covered in heather or similar low dense shrubbery’, and Cliff is ‘a high steep rock or precipice’. Heathcliff is a perfect name for the dishevelled and tortured romantic hero living on the English moors. (Dear to my heart as I was born there–not on the moors, down the road a bit).
Other characters have more obscure names such as Mark Twain, the renowned author and humourist. He was born Samuel Clemens but used the pen-name Mark Twain, which means the second line on the side of the riverboat where Twain worked as a young man. The second line (mark) was 12’ and the safe depth mark for the boat.
How do you go about choosing, or inventing, a name for your fantasy characters? If I want to quickly write a short story or an ebook, I find it easier to use a name that fits with the occupation of the character.
First Name + Occupational Surname
Penelope Donkeyrider (Courier)
Dugan Bagsnatcher (Thief)
Ventrice Shoemaker (Cobbler)
Tola Axegrinder (Blacksmith)
Roland Brewmaster (Winemaker)
First Name + Setting Surname
Fantasy characters can also be named for the place where they live:
First Name + Race
How about naming your character as easy as using their race as a descriptor?
Kreg Cave Dwarf
Felicia Fairy Princess
Eleander High Elf
You get the idea. I’ve come up with a few hilarious names doing this. I’ve also found watching the credits from shows and movies to be inspiring, especially if the show was filmed in a place similar to my story world. There are name generators that can help too. Here’s a site I go to for inspiration – Name Generator
Giving my main characters names helped me to organize my files on my Pinterest boards where I stash every image I can find that looks at all like I envision my character to be as well as my story settings and other features. Now that Pinterest allows me to add ‘sections’ to my boards I have one for my hero, minor protagonists, the main villain, minor antagonists and one for settings. Also, I feel a closer connection to my characters when I talk to them if they have names (admit it, you do this too, right?) Check out my published books on Pinterest and the new novel I’m writing. I also use these images for my social media gems (unless they’re repinned and have copyright).
By naming my darlings, I feel them take on a personality, and it’s easier to write their story, how they would respond to situations and their mannerisms. Do you feel this way about your characters?
A brainstorming session with friends could generate a lot of names for you – and a lot of beverages snorting out of the nose (always a good party trick). What else could influence your characters’ names?
So, have fun with naming your characters.
What name would you give the character in the title picture?
Leave a comment. I’d love to know what name you came up with.
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.
Have you ever been in a situation where you tell someone you’re writing a book, all excited, and then they ask you what it’s about, and you get that glazed look like you just woke up from a nap? Yeah, I did that a lot with my first book. Then someone told me at a conference that I needed a logline. A logline is an extended premise sentence. It tells your readers more about your story. Your one-sentence premise catches their attention and the logline gets them hooked. The idea is to leave them wanting more without giving away your entire plot. The logline is what you use as your Elevator Pitch.
Why you need an elevator pitch for your fantasy/fiction novel
The Elevator Pitch is meant to be answered in the time it takes the elevator to get to the next floor, because that’s sometimes all the time you have with someone in person, and it’s the time most people online will take to decide if they want to spend time getting to know more. So–thank you for sticking around so far!
The logline is also a gem for social media such as Facebook where you have the opportunity to post more words than on Twitter.
5 key components of writing a fantasy/fiction logline
Main Character – the hero/protagonist
Their Situation – their daily life
Their Objective – what they want that they don’t have
Their Opponent – the person or thing that gets in their way
Disaster – you’ll need an epic battle or devastating event
Here’s an example:
His present situation(occupation, relationship, what’s going on in his life?)
He works at a coffee shop.
What does he want? (the treasure or objective).
He wants to escape the drudgery of his job and start his own business.
Who or what stands in his way? (the antagonist can be a person or situation).
He doesn’t make enough money to start the business because his boss (the antagonist) won’t give him extra hours.
What happens to change his life?
He’s met by a band of creatures in the forest, and they take him to a mystical city hidden in the woods. They show him how to make delicious pastries from organic ingredients found in a secret part of the forest. The cakes are healthier and actually help with weight-loss. Dave sees the potential for a successful bakery business.
Your story will need some exciting conflict
His boss steals the recipes.
Here’s all the information in one concise sentence:
“Dave, a dissatisfied coffee shop employee, wants nothing better than to quit his job and open his own business but lacks the finances to do that because of his mean boss. Until he meets mystical creatures in the forest who surprisingly change Dave’s aspirations, but Dave’s boss isn’t ready to let him go that easily”.
This is the sentence you use as your Elevator Pitch.
“Colin Wade is on a mission. A mission to study a singularity – the enigmatic centre of a black hole. But things are definitely not going according to plan, as Colin finds himself in an area of space with no visible stars at all until a lone blue light threatens to engulf the ship in a strange fire. Colin will need all of his cunning, and plenty of unlikely help, to solve the mystery of the singularity, or else find himself lost in space indefinitely.”
“Bookstore owner Meryn O’Reilly and Army Captain Jesse Christensen are on opposite sides of a battle. After a series of terrorist attacks in 2053, martial law has been declared in Canada and the military has taken over. When a radical Christian group claims responsibility, Jesse and his platoon are sent to Meryn’s city to keep an eye on the Christians and ensure they are not stepping outside the confines of the law.”
And, by the way, if you come across those pastries, please let me know!
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.
(note: I’m an Amazon affiliate and receive a small fee for using their images when I promote someone’s work.)
An excellent way to break into the writing realm, or boost your already established writing career, is to submit a short piece of work to an anthology. They usually consist of short stories, poems and nonfiction ideas. It gives you the chance to work with an editor and get valuable feedback on your writing skills. Plus, you’ll meet other authors, personally or virtually, and maybe make new friends.
Find 2-3 writing groups who publish collections of work and join the groups. They’ll likely have an annual or bi-annual call for submissions for a new book.
Earlier this year I sent off five submissions altogether and was excited to have two of my pieces chosen. I write Christian Speculative Fiction and Christian Fantasy stories, so both anthologies are from Christian groups.
Anthologies make great gifts for all ages. I’m delighted to share with you the ones I”m in this year —
Christmas – Stories and More
Christmas with Hot Apple Cider
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.
Do you ever wonder if any author who isn’t famous ever makes a decent income from writing?
I was wondering this after two years of little in the way of sales from my first book. I did eventually realize if I could just write more, that would increase my income. But who’s got time to write more?
Here’s how I did it – I took what I’d already written on my social media and made it into a book!
Seriously. That’s what I did. All my blogs about writing, my posts about my life, my tweets of writing tips and coaching, my pins about my interests, all became tidbits to expand and form into a book! It was a lot of fun, and I’m using these methods to write more books. So, I wanted to let you know how to use what you’ve already written and get started with that income too. Still with me but wondering how the heck I did that?
Here’s How I Used These 5 Simple Ways to Create Income From Writing
From Blog To Book – The Novel Author’s Workbook I created an Etsy downloadable 99-page workbook from blogs I’d written over the course of a year on how to write fiction, as I was doing the research. It takes the author from the beginning premise and outline of a novel, through to publishing and marketing.
From Pin To Print/Nonfiction —Hosting a Shire Party is a simple ebook about a cosplay party I had. I wrote about creating easy costumes, food, and games, as I pinned the photos from the party.
From Tweet To Tutorial – Your Write Voice For His Kingdom is a course I wrote from tweets about my workshop notes as a Christian Life Coach and writer’s coach. I coach students through the decision process of becoming a writer and how God has equipped them to write for His purpose.
From Post To Published – Life at White Rose Shire is an ebook in-progress of a collection of devotionals which I’ll be posting on my blog under a sub-heading and later publishing as a Kindle devotional book.
to get news on all the new courses as well as exclusive cheatsheets, writing tips, resources, and other insider goodies!
Another Way to Create Income From Writing
I’m still working on the ‘full’ part of my income but here’s a colleague who’s grown a full-time income and has permitted me to add her blog link for you. Because she’s published by a royalty publisher, she brings a different perspective.
Ann-Margret Hovsepian has a full-time income from her writing and engagements. She shares her success tips on her blog ‘You Asked Me’: