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How to write a book – the short honest truth

How to write a book – the short honest truth
Every author I know gets asked the same question: How do you write a book? It’s a simple question, but it causes unexpected problems. On the one hand, it’s nice to have people interested in something I do. If I told people I fixed toasters for a living, I doubt I’d get many inquires. But on the other hand, the hand involving people who ask because they have an inkling to do it themselves, is that writing books is a topic so old and so well trod by so many famous people that anyone who asks hoping to discover secret advice is hard to take seriously. Here’s the short honest truth: 20% of the people who ask me are hoping to hear this – Anyone can write a book. If you want to write, kill the magic: a book is just a bunch of writing. Writing a good book, compared to a bad one, involves one thing. Getting published. 30% of the time the real thing people are asking is how do you find a publisher. The sticking point for most wanna-be published authors is, again, the work. Discouraged yet?

50 Essential Tools I Use For Blogging and Freelance Writing - Advanced Fiction Writing Home Page Read These Seven Books, and You'll be a Better Writer Donald Miller I used to play golf but I wasn’t very good. I rented a DVD, though, that taught me a better way to swing, and after watching it a few times and spending an hour or so practicing, I knocked ten strokes off my game. I can’t believe how much time I wasted when a simple DVD saved me years of frustration. I’d say something similar is true in my writing career. If you read these books, your writing will improve to the point people who read your work will begin to comment on how well you write. • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This book is aimed at writers, but it’s also applicable to anybody who does creative work. Pressfield leaves out all the mushy romantic talk about the writing life, talk I don’t find helpful. • On Writing Well by William Zinsser: Zinsser may be the best practical writing coach out there. • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: Before becoming a literary superstar, Anne Lamott taught writing, and Bird by Bird is the best of her advice, broken up into chapters.

#54 – Writing Hacks, Part 1: Starting By Scott Berkun, Aug. 28 2006 (#54) Writing is easy, it’s quality that’s hard. Any idiot who knows 5 words can write a sentence (e.g. For this reason writer’s block is a sham. Consider this: Have you ever been blocked while playing Frisbee? So play. Writing hacks for starting In the grand tradition of lists and books of hacks, writing hacks are clever little actions that give you leverage and put the dynamics in your favor. Start with a word. Write about how it feels not to be able to write. Have a conversation. Read something you hate. Warm up. Make lists. Switch to something harder. Run like hell. Whiskey. Rummage your scrap pile. Smart writers have stockpiles of old ideas to arm themselves against the evils of the blank page. Notes [1] I sometimes write “I have nothing to say” and repeat it on the page. [2] True story. [4] I wrote the novel on and off for 10 years, and finished in 2005 (with draft #5). Further advice:

8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer Today’s guest post is from writer Joe Bunting, who blogs at The Write Practice. We all know there are novels and then there are “literary” novels. When you read Margaret Atwood, it just feels different than when you read Tom Clancy. Literary authors are known for their unique voices and experimental styles. This is both good and bad. So if you’re salivating to win a Nobel Prize, and just don’t think your diplomacy skills are good enough to win the Peace Prize, here are eight techniques you can use to make your writing more “literary.” Long sentences can make for beautiful, complex prose that you want to read again and again to fully appreciate. Hemingway, Faulkner (both Nobel winners), James Joyce, and all those 1920s modernist authors were known for their long, run-on sentences, full of conjunctions and lacking “correct” punctuation. Isn’t that beautiful? Writing long sentences can get old. One thing. Try reading it aloud. Literary writers are well read.

Pros and cons of the Snowflake Method » Jordan McCollum Planning out a novel? Be sure to join my newsletter for a FREE plotting/revision roadmap, and check out the full series on plotting novels in a free PDF! The Snowflake Method of story design is just one way to create a plot—but it’s not the best way, nor is it even a good way for all of us. (And we’ll continue to look at more methods to plot stories over the next two weeks.) Pros After spending so much time refining them and writing about them, you get to know your characters and your plot well. Another strength is that you can start with almost nothing and “grow” a plot “naturally.” Also, the method’s steps alternate between working on characters and on the plot, ensuring that you develop both—but that you don’t have to spend so long working straight on each one that you get bored. Simply put, if you like to know as much as you can about a book before you start writing, this can be a great way to discover your characters and their storylines. Cons And I can say this from experience.

25 Ways To Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story I’m a panster at heart, plotter by necessity — and I always advocate learning how to plot and plan because inevitably someone on the business side of things is going to poke you with a pointy stick and say, “I want this.” Thus you will demonstrate your talent. Even so, in choosing to plot on your own, you aren’t limited to a single path. And so it is that we take a look at the myriad plotting techniques (“plotniques?”) The Basic Vanilla Tried-And-True Outline The basic and essential outline. The Reverse Outline Start at the end, instead. Tentpole Moments A story in your head may require certain keystone events to be part of the plot. Beginning, Middle, End Write three paragraphs, each detailing the rough three acts found in every story: the inciting incident and outcome of the beginning (Act I), the escalation and conflict in the middle (Act II), the climactic culmination of events and the ease-down denoument of the end (Act III). A Series Of Sequences Chapter-By-Chapter Beat Sheet Mind-Maps

Take Note: Five Lessons for Note Taking Fun If recent surveys are any indicator, cheating and plagiarism are on the rise. As teachers, however, we might be able to reverse that trend by teaching our students to take good notes. Included: Five fun lessons that teach needed note-taking skills. In 2002, a national survey of 4,500 high school students found that 75 percent of them engaged in cheating and more than half plagiarized content they found on the Internet. In a recent survey of teachers, 100 percent of the teachers have caught students cheating. In a 1998 survey of students, four out of five top students admitted cheating. Students have always copied text into their research papers verbatim. Could it be that this apparent spike in cheating has a very basic root cause? This week, Education World offers five simple lessons to help you instruct students and to provide practice in the skills of note taking and the associated skills of summarizing and paraphrasing.

Amanda Hocking, the writer who made millions by self-publishing online When historians come to write about the digital transformation currently engulfing the book-publishing world, they will almost certainly refer to Amanda Hocking, writer of paranormal fiction who in the past 18 months has emerged from obscurity to bestselling status entirely under her own self-published steam. What the historians may omit to mention is the crucial role played in her rise by those furry wide-mouthed friends, the Muppets. To understand the vital Muppet connection we have to go back to April 2010. We find Hocking sitting in her tiny, sparsely furnished apartment in Austin, Minnesota. She is penniless and frustrated, having spent years fruitlessly trying to interest traditional publishers in her work. To make matters worse, she has just heard that an exhibition about Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, is coming to Chicago later that year and she can't afford to make the trip. Then it comes to her. To which Eric replies: "Yeah. Let's jump to October 2010. Stephen Leather

likable characters « Nail Your Novel A foolish inconsistency – round out your characters with contradictions Think about the people you know. Who are you are most curious about? It’s not the ones who are most straightforward, although they are probably the easiest company. It’s the enigmas. Consider the guy who’s gruff and abrasive when you talk to him, but surprises you by being fiercely loyal to his friends. More extremely, they might have an edge that makes it difficult to truly know them. This crowd make great central characters. It’s war To observers, they may seem inconsistent. They might feel the world is too small for them, but some complex equilibrium keeps them that way. Or they might be headed for tragedy. Contradictory characters might sabotage themselves. Likability Contradictory characters might not be liked by the reader – but likability doesn’t keep us reading as much as interest does. What it’s not Here’s something that isn’t a character contradiction: Indiana Jones’s fear of snakes. That’s back story.

Creative Writing Courses and Ideas: An Online Resource for Writers Basic Outlining Basic Outlining An outline presents a picture of the main ideas and the subsidiary ideas of any subject. Some typical uses of outlining are: a class reading assignment, an essay, a term paper, a book review or a speech. For any of these, an outline will show a basic overview and important details. Some professors will require an outline in sentence form, or require the main points to be in chronological order, or have other specific requirements. Below is a synopsis of the outline form. I. II. It is up to the writer to decide on how many main ideas and supporting ideas adequately describe the subject. Suppose you are outlining a speech on AIDS, and these are some of the ideas you feel should be included: AZT, Transmittal, AIDS babies, Teenagers, Safe sex, Epidemic numbers, Research. To put these ideas into outline form, decide first on the main encompassing ideas. Next, decide where the rest of the important ideas fit in. Major Aspects of Aids I. II. III. Campbell, W. Ellis, B.

10 Tips on How to Write Less Badly - Do Your Job Better By Michael C. Munger Most academics, including administrators, spend much of our time writing. But we aren't as good at it as we should be. I have never understood why our trade values, but rarely teaches, nonfiction writing. In my nearly 30 years at universities, I have seen a lot of very talented people fail because they couldn't, or didn't, write. It starts in graduate school. The difference is not complicated. Rachel Toor and other writers on these pages have talked about how hard it is to write well, and of course that's true. 1. 2. 3. 4. Writers sit at their desks for hours, wrestling with ideas. The articles and books that will be read decades from now were written by men and women sitting at a desk and forcing themselves to translate profound ideas into words and then to let those words lead them to even more ideas. 5. Years pass, and they still have the same pat, 200-word answer to "What are you working on?" 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Michael C.