Victims, aren’t we all . . .

#reading #horror #bookclub #reviews

I’m starting a monthly horror reading group. Every month I’m looking for authors willing to send out one free ebook to members to vote on their favorite Villain of the Month.

In return, you get free promotion and members agree to leave an honest review.

Do you want to play a game?

Comment below! Share with anyone you think might love to play!

WRITING: Make a Plan

One of the things I do with new clients and/or authors is have them take me through their process. Some authors are “Pantsers” and others are “Planners”. Regardless of what your process is, you need to have a plan for when the story gets long enough. Keeping everything in order is a huge task. There are several ways I teach the process because everyone is different. Some are OK with hearing the explanation, others need to see it.

Stick with me a few min’s here while I go through a couple of steps. If any of them help you, please comment and let me know! I always like to hear feedback so I can continue to get better and help more authors!

Map One

The picture above is what I call “sorting it out”. Notice they are all chaotic and out of sorts? That’s OK. It’ll make sense to you once we go further. For those of you who say this is a lot of work? Trust me. For authors/writers whose thought process is all over the place, this is a good tool to use to learn how to sort through the whirlwind of ???’s they have bouncing around an overactive mind.

So, you have this amazing idea, right? Great!

Now, what you want do is throw the thoughts out like darts. Get them all out! You can use different color pens, different symbols, etc., to keep things in order and to differentiate. Stars can be characters or minor details, the pink circles can be larger ideas you want to connect (the lines) so you know how to put it all together when you begin to write.

Once you’ve done the sorting (think laundry!) you can move onto one/more of the next process:

This map is where we begin to streamline and make sense of the chaos. Remember! More experienced writers may not need to sort the dirty laundry. It’s fine to start where you feel comfortable and what your skill level allows. A lot of my clientele say, “I have this concept but I have no idea where to go with it!” In those cases, we need to analyze how much of the story we really have to work with before we start throwing words down.

As much as it’s important to “just write” it’s also important to have a direction. Many new writers can get hung up on details, or not having an end in sight. It’s similar to being tossed in a city you’re unfamiliar with then left to find your way home. It can be daunting and discouraging. Taking an author by the hand and helping them to sort through the storm while encouraging them to listen to their own inner voice is the best assistance you can give them.

Now, on to the next step:

Map Two

Take all the “darts” and start arranging them by importance to your story. Answer the “W” questions, figure out the “How” and develop your “Resolution”. Once you’ve completed a portion of these things, you should-in theory-have a great foundation for your piece. If you want to stop and jot some words down, this is the best time to do it. It’s fresh in your mind, the creative juices are going, and you’re developing ideas you may want (or have forgotten) to integrate.

SUGGESTION: Fill in the blanks with pencil so you can erase/change/alter.

Do you have a story you’re stuck on? If so, do any of these maps help you? If you use the techniques, I would love to know if they helped/hindered you! Comment below and let’s write!

Stay tuned for the next tutorial and more “maps” for getting the story out. If you like what I have to say, you can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or on Facebook.

#Mentoring #WritingTips – Make Every Word Count

Today I want to address words and how to make them count. I know I’ll get some pushback on this from the masses but remember: these are only my opinions. Use what works for you.

When I start mentoring someone new, I ask them to go through their story and remove a certain word first thing. The word, “that”. This word is what I call an empty calorie (junk food) among the serving of healthy words. It’s become overused these days because it’s common speak (street talk, as I call it).

Try it. Go through one paragraph and remove the word that if it doesn’t change the sentence. Now read it again. Does it sound more concise? Do you miss the word if it’s gone? Does it give your sentence a “gut punch” effect? Finally, does it make your words and their delivery sound more confident?

Trust me, I still have to go through and remove them from my own writing. What I’ve noticed, however, is it’s such an overused and unnecessary word, it drenches the pages. I couldn’t believe it when I pulled 6 books off the shelf to peruse the first page, how many jumped off the page at me. I couldn’t continue reading because the sheer number of “that’s” took me out of the story before it ever began.

Go through your own story in Word. Do a word search for “that” and see how many times you’ve used it. Is it 20 times? 50? More?

The next step after removing unnecessary “that’s” is to search for any word ending in -ly.

Here’s where I get challenged most often: using an -ly adverb is lazy. I know. Hearing it stings. That’s what mentoring is, though. Correcting bad habits and creating good ones.

Ok, why do we remove them?

Reason number 1: Most -ly adverbs (quickly, slowly, quietly) can be considered perspective.

Example: He backed up slowly.

How slow? If someone is backing up, are they surprised? Afraid? Dizzy?

Try using your words and make them count.

He took a few steps back. Each step was tentative, seeking the ground beneath him to keep from tripping.

Or

I raised my hand in slow motion, the room spinning around me.

Or

Unsure of where the chair was, I took one slow step back before the other followed.

See how it gives the sentences a better visual? Instead of using “slowly” I gave a better idea of what slowly looked like.

Most times, you can change the position of a few words to eliminate the -ly word and it will make the sentence sound more confident, leaving the reader with a solid description of what’s happening. Adding -ly gives a meek sound to your words and gives the impression of a week vocabulary.

Are you up for the challenge? Give this a try and let me know if it worked for you. Do you feel it made your story more confident sounding? I’d love to hear from you!


If you love these tips and want more, please comment and share!