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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Ideas for Writing Great Plot Lines in Fiction

My main concern with writing fiction is keeping ideas fresh and the story exciting. It's all very well from a technical view point to say I can write well - knowing how to use sentence structure and grammar, but it's quite another to say I can dream up and write the most amazing story lines. And unfortunately even if I do employ the best editor to correct the technical issues, plot lines aren't usually their forte. All they could advise is an entire re-write on my part before the story would be ready to publish.

I have to admit that thought terrifies me slightly. I could have all the technical issues absolutely perfect but if the story is centred around an awful plot line, what chance do I have of keeping my reader? Many people say there are thousands of books out there that are written poorly but have a fantastic plot line; that's why they're in the best sellers category. But how many books are there in which the technicalities are brilliant but the stories shocking?

The Writing Book by Kate Grenville, offers some plot line suggestions which I have been reading over and over again. The book suggests that the best types of plot line are the ones which are unexpected so they take the reader by surprise. And seeing as some plot lines are boring and predictable, having the plot take a brilliant twist is probably a lot harder to write than it seems.

The first tip she reveals is to swap the character personality and role. This will take the reader by surprise as they will have become used to the defined characters. However, to give them a complete Jeckyll and Hyde role may come off as unbelievable so make sure you give hints and clues throughout the story of how they will eventually turn out to be.

The second tip is to be ruthless with your characters and have an unexpected death in the book. If a main character should die then it's always shocking and potentially upsetting if they happen to be benevolent. Killing off a nasty villain might not be as effective but if everyone loves this particular character, it may hook the reader into finding out what happens next.

The third one is to be vague with your plot and give it an open ending. This is brilliant when writing a series because the loose ends are left undone so you leave the readers wanting an eventual conclusion - hence the next book.

If you really want to confuse the reader and lure them into a false sense of security, make sure your narrator can't be trusted. Readers are most likely to believe without question the person telling the story, so if the story turns out to be false some where along the line the reader will undoubtedly be surprised.

Can you share some more ways to write sizzling plot lines?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

What is Your Writing Worth?

Lately it seems like I have been reading an awful lot of comments about writers having an unworthy job. Some people think that just because some writers spend the majority of time at their home writing, indulging in far too much coffee, they are not worthy of having a rich income. Some people see writers as selfish beings who live in a world of fantasy, thinking they're going to become rich and famous because everyone will want to read their books.

Some writers may think like this but I am sure they are in the minority. A lot of writers write despite having a full time job - they write simply because they cannot not write. For some it is just a hobby but I think the majority of writers would love to earn a living from their passion but unfortunately many do not.

But what about those who have writing as a full time career? Do some people honestly think that they do not deserve success just because they don't build houses, save lives or are on a mission to cure AIDS? Even though people in the medical world do a wonderful job of saving lives every day, they don't get paid as much as footballers, who in comparison, have a pretty worthless job of kicking a football around a field. But that's another subject for another day.

Writers are hard working people. It takes a huge level of motivation to start a book and finish it. And I know too many writers who don't feel worthy enough just because they write. A lot of them are reluctant to call themselves writers if they don't have a huge backlist of books or earn a £1000/$1000 a month from their work. But I am typing this post today to tell you that writers are worth their weight in gold. You may not earn that sort of money yet but that doesn't mean you never will, as long as you keep writing. You have made your mark on the economy by going out to buy pens, paper and other writing equipment like computers. You have contributed to the system just by doing that alone. If you are traditionally published you will no doubt have an agent working with you. If you self publish you still help online stores stay in business as they will take a cut from your work. 

I think writers have a marvellous job because our career falls into the entertainment industry. If you are a comedian, you're hoping to make people laugh and improve their life quality. Everyone on this planet feels better after a good laugh. If you're a painter you hope to inspire people through your paintings. And if you're a writer you hope to change a life for the better. I tell you now there is no better feeling that exists when a total stranger emails you to say your book inspired them in such a way that they've made a conscious decision to change their attitude to life. To take on your attitude to life, and make the most of every second.

So writers may not perform outstanding medical procedures to save lives, but we may save lives in another sense. We may not stand in a classroom with thirty students teaching them how cook but our books may be seen as tools which provide essential life skills. Writers teach people about a different way of thinking. They open people's minds up to endless worlds of possibility. They provide another pair of eyes to view life from.

Writing may be the best job in the world.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How to Keep those New Year Resolutions

It's that time of year again where people make promises to themselves which they often fail to keep. The most common resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more and to be an all round better person.

These plans are often achievable, more so when you have an actual plan of how you're going to achieve these goals but most people fail to maintain them, especially if they're just left as fantasies floating around your head.

Various studies have shown that any sort of goal, whether they're new year resolutions or not, are most often successful if they are written down. People who write down their goals have already taken that first step of commitment to ensure these goals come true. It's like they view the piece of paper as a legal binding contract. They have that piece of paper to focus on everyday if they've placed it in a room they visit on a daily basis. They pass their eyes over the written words, consciously or subconsciously, but these goals are always there to remind whoever set them they need to be achieved.

If people just leave their goals in their head they're most likely to push them to the back of their mind, left there to be forgotten.

As a writer I always find myself writing down my goals to separate them from the rest of the stuff that whirls around my mind. Rather than set them out for the whole year I often spread them out into monthly or weekly tasks that need to be completed.

Saying all this is all well and good but few goals are going to come true without a definite plan of action: how are you going to make your goals happen? It's one thing to say I want to write a whole book this year but unless I write a set amount of words everyday this is unlikely to happen. People need to set goals that they can achieve, rather than just having something specific in mind with no definite path of how to get there. And this is where some writers fail. They say they want to sell a 1000 books by the end of they year but how are they going to control that set figure? How are they going to persuade people to buy their book, and sell that amount within that time frame?

Where possible I try to stay away from these goals. I think that having any goal like that is often a bad idea because there's no control factor. What I could say is I would like to sell roughly that amount and plan my marketing strategy to include everything I could to make that happen.

This year I have one very achievable main goal. That is to finish my second book and get it ready to be published. I hope to have it out there by the end of this year but that also depends on the editor I employ and whether that will fit with their schedule.

My other goals are to become involved with various groups in Goodreads and to network more with writers of my genre.

What about you, what are your resolutions and how do you think you're going to achieve them?