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MUSERS WRITING TIPS

    Within this page, you will find various tips to help you in your writing or even make you think before you pen anything down on paper. I have placed it in alphabetical order to easier reference.

 

 

 
~B~
Book Signings
 
Lea Schizas:
 
  -have small address labels with your name and website to place right under your signature for your reader to link to and see what else is new with you.

-place pics from a previous booksigning in your website

-send postcards as invites to a booksigning

-circulate in a bookstore beforehand and hand out bookmarks, directing them to your table

-invite other authors for a multi-signing affair

 
~B~
What to do with books you've read
 
Lea Schizas:
 
  I make small gift baskets which contain tea sachets, a mug, the book with a bookmark, a notebook, pen, and I give it to the seniors home near my home to give to any senior whose birthday is coming up. I include the notebook and pen with a note by me saying "This is your very own book to begin writing your own story you've always wanted."

 

~C~
Character Building
 

Alice Berger:

I maintain another Word document with the characters listed in order of appearance in the story. Every time I mention a detail about a character, I log it with the character. I also maintain a timeline in that file. I've tried to plot every event on that timeline to make sure things flow smoothly.

Johnson Wood:
 
I have found that I am more comfortable with my principal characters when I know who they are. I am pretty far into my book length piece and have just now written a biography for him. I guess that I knew him well enough; but when I wrote his bio as if someone other than me was going to read it I got a new insight into him.

I've also used a list of questions to outline a character for myself. The only trouble is that at some point the questionnaire leads me off into a new story or two.
 
Lea Schizas:
 
In my case, I 'allow' my characters to dictate their strengths and weaknesses as the story unfolds. All I really need is a title for my book, and the opening paragraph. That's it. As I write, the story becomes more and more crystal clear. This may not be efficient and practical because at times it slows me down, but I've tried to outline,
blueprint, and fine tune the 'before' story and it's just not my style.

One of my characters in an anthology book that I'm writing with a few other writers, I give my character an obsession with a cigarette butt that he places behind his ear and touches whenever he needs to think
about a case he is investigating. He quit smoking but keeps that last cigarette close to him. There are literally hundreds of 'twitches' you can give a character to bring him more to life.

Mary Schneider:

I think characters should be developed enough to fit the story you're telling. You don't need the life story and ancenstory of the character, unless it influeces your story. Character 'rap sheets' are mind-numbing... but they do seem to work for some people.  I write the book, and get to know my MC as s/he developes. Sometiems I just have to 'live' with them for a while. Other times I discover things about them half way through a chapter.

So I guess the answer to the age-old question, do character outlines work, is...It depends.

 

Shane Roe:

Wow. That's sometimes a problem with me. My characters spring from a compilation of people I know, and I try to think of things that set them apart from other characters. I've tried the character checklist
kinds of things and they seem to help to at least pinpoint some
characteristics, though they often don't get at the essence of the
character. That's my major focus in the next little while--getting my
characters to be multi-dimensional instead of cardboard--especially
my villains. I think every villain in order to be real needs to have
something the reader and writer likes about him. So far, I've only made truly evil characters with nothing remotely good about them and I feel a need to change that.

(Lea Schizas--You are right about giving other traits than 'evil' to the bad guys. A reader needs to connect with both the antagonist and protagonist. I had read somewhere that if you can somehow show the
'why' the bad guy is as he is (whether it was parental abuse, alchol,etc) a reader may better relate to them since they themselves may have had the same background.

Lea Schizas on Character and Plot Driven:

Character driven, is when a story is created using the backdrop of the
main character to enhance a plot line, in my example: Harry Potter was
created to demonstrate his angst in living with his not so loving uncle and aunt, his friendship with Ron and Hermione, his attachment to
Dumbledore, his continuing battle with evil--all these are centered around Harry, because of Harry--and the biggest obstacle in his path is to find and destroy his parents murderer. Without Harry's background, these tidbits would mean nothing. Therefore, I envision this as a character driven story.

Plot driven, when the plot is so strong that 'any' character can be
placed in that story and he would be overshadowed by the plot. In other
words, the plot is the focus and not the character.

 

~E~
Elements of a good story
 
Lea Schizas:

1-What is the point of your story? What message do you want your reader to get from it? Figure this out and you're on your way.

2-Always have your plot/characters/dialogue moving forward. Donít stagnate and lag or else you risk losing your readerís attention.

3-Round off your characters as 3-dimensional. Give them life. Bond them with your reader.Nothing hooks a reader more into the story than relating to the plight of a character.

4-Develop and paint your setting with descriptive detail, allowing your reader a sense of Ďbeingí there.

5-Be consistent in your POV. Donít jump back and forth confusing the read. Tell the story from the best possible choice of POV. Unsure? Then try different ones and pick the one best suited to tell your message.

 
~P~
Point of View
 
Wendy Campbell:
 
I tend to use third person unless I'm doing something like an essay,
something that's personal to me.

In a writing course I had we wrote a scene from the POV of our main
character.  Then we rewrote the same scene from the villain's POV.  It
was one of those 'aha' moments and now I find that if something isn't
working just right, I'll switch POV for that scene.

~R~

Rejection Slips

Lea Schizas:

If anyone has had a rejection slip come their way, it feels awful. You had high hopes for the submission. But take heart:

Did you know that L.M. Montgomery's best-selling 'Anne of Green
Gables' was rejected by five different publishers before one finally
accepted it?

That Stephen King's bedroom walls could not be seen anymore from all
the rejection slips plastered all over the place?

You are never alone. Just be proud that you actually sent out a
submission. It's more than alot of writers can say.

 

Robert Redmond:

I checked my mailbox.....and what did I find.....My very first ever......................Rejection letter!!! I have submitted my firstborn story to five publishers....this is my very first time.....and this is my
first letter back from a publisher....but I look at it this way..........Now I
know for sure, that publishers really DO EXIST !!!!

 

~S~

Swearing

Swearing according to Susan Stephenson

About swear words: sometimes it is important to write the way people
actually do speak. I know that writers do not slavishly imitate reality,
but writers do use words, phrases, cliches in dialogue to communicate
with an audience. Perhaps it may be to show another layer of personality in a character or to build up a total picture of a particular cultural background.

I struggle with it, because I have no desire to offend readers who
dislike certain swear words or find them taboo. At the same time, some
characters just "speak" that way. In the end, if a swear word is necessary, I'll use it.

What fascinates me is the semantic history of swearing - did someone
just sit down one day and say "Let's make this word, an anglo-saxon word for copulation, a swear word, a bad word which will shock, horrify and send the user to hell. But it's OK to use these other words meaning the same thing."  If that IS the case, they sure opened a can of worms!

 

~W~

"What if..."

Johnson Wood:

I've read that "what if..." is one of Steven King's favorite beginnings. I
can imagine an author asking "What if I had a character who could start fires by looking at stuff"

 

Marie Davies:

I keep my what if thoughts in a simple journal. I carry a very small one with me in my purse.I think that it allows me to be inspired any time, any where by any thing or anyone.  I have thought of switching to a PDA or other gizmo. But I love the feel of pen on paper. I use these tiny inspirations not just as fodder for stories but for sermons. I may develop them later on my laptop in my real journal at home. In any case I never throw any idea away or dismiss it. Who knows what it may become.

 

Mary Schneider:

What if... I had time to write?
What if... My kids would be quiet and obedient for more than 4 seconds at a time? (I know the answer to that one- I'd be worried!)
What if... I wrote every word down before it slips away?
What if... I'd taken advantage of those golden moments of silence and
inspiration of my youth?
What if... I made time to write?

As to the scraps and bits, yeppers, definately keep them. So you may never use them. So what? They are solid proof that you were writing, even during your chaos of life. When you're feeling depressed and blocked, bring out a scrap or two, and let them flow. Who knows, maybe a book is there. Or maybe it will generate a page or two of free writing which will lead you back to your current wip. If they get you thinking, the scraps have value. At least, they do for me. For others, they might represent distracting clutter.

 

Mike Kechula:

I use 3 x 5 index cards and tape recorders to record fleeting what-if thoughts. I actually have three tape recorders strategically located.  I gotta capture ideas immediately, considering how fast my brain moves onto other subjects. If not captured immediately, I'd forget the ideas forever.

I began using tape recorders when I was a professional writer of nonfiction. I had five tape recorders then. They were worth every penny I paid for them. I also had two transcribers: one for micro tapes, and one for mini tapes. All that equipment got tremendous use.

 

Home To Join MissionStatement Ad rates News and Info Muse Links Global Interaction Muse Bookstore 2007 Contest Articles Links Pockets Challenge Job Boards

Home To Join MissionStatement Ad rates News and Info Muse Links Global Interaction Muse Bookstore 2007 Contest Articles Links Pockets Challenge Job Boards