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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing — Excerpt: Writers Block

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING

Overcoming Writer’s Block

By
Mairead Walpole
Author of:

A Love Out of Time

We’ve all been there. Two hours go by and all you have written is “Chapter One” and you’ve changed the font type twice and the size once. You have developed a severe case of Writer’s Block. Don’t panic, don’t toss your computer out the window, and don’t write yourself off as a writer, this too will pass. And, when you least expect it, it will happen again so find some strategies that work for you.

A creative writing professor of mine in college told us that the best way to overcome Writer’s Block was to write your way out of it. Write your way out of Writer’s Block? Er, really?

Yes, really. When I am dealing with a bout of that wretched state, I write. I will admit that most of what I write is absolute dreck that will never see the light of day, but just like a walk on the beach after a storm, amid the sea foam and debris one can find the occasional treasure. On occasion, what I write about evolves into a blog article or a completely new storyline. On other occasions, the only response is to hold down the backspace key or use the highlight CTRL X combo.

I limit the amount of time that I will spend writing my way out of the block. Usually 15 to 30 minutes a day. (I don’t want to develop any repetitive stress injuries from the deleting or highlight CTRL X maneuvers.) Some folks may need more than that, but this time frame works for me. I also allow the Muse to lead me down creative paths that weren’t in my original storyline. Writer’s Block can be a good thing. It can help you see a plot that has stagnated or a character that you originally thought was a minor one should be expanded.

One of the first things that I will do is go back to my original notes and any outlines I put together. I tend to do an analysis of the basic plot. Does it make sense? Do the characters seem flat or unbelievable? I look at the outline from a reader’s perspective to see if I can find any gaps or flaws in the logical progression. Then I re-read what I have written. If still am not getting anywhere, I will ask a trusted friend or critique partner to read what I have done thus far and give me some feedback. And, I continue to write. Eventually, the block will lift and I am back on track, perhaps with a different story than the one I started out with.

 

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing — Excerpt: Style

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING

Finding Your Style

By
Dellani Oakes
Author of:

Indian Summer, and Lone Wolf

A good friend made a comment after having read one of my books. She said, “You have two styles of writing. You write like a writer and like an English professor.”

Ouch! Admittedly, I do have a fairly good vocabulary—not that I always use it. I used to teach Advanced Placement English, so I know about antecedents, subject and verb agreement and the correct use of semi-colons. Until she said that, I had no idea that there was such a difference in style until I went back and re-read the first few chapters. What I saw surprised me. The difference was startling, making the text difficult to read.

When I taught high school English, the students had to read The Scarlet Letter. What a tough book. I had to sit and read it with a dictionary by my side. My poor students were really suffering! I found some sections in my own writing that were nearly as difficult. Grant you, I was not incorporating words like physiognomy, but I did use ephemeral, supererogatory, and geosynchronous.

I think I was trying to make every word count, not use fluff words which mean little to nothing. By incorporating bigger, better words, I hoped to convey my meaning more forcefully. Apparently all I did was cause a mad rush for the Webster’s. I never intended my books to be hard work. If I want to make my readers sweat, I’ll put in a hot love scene! My novels are purely for entertainment.

A day or two later, my daughter told me, “Mom, your sentences sometimes confuse me. They go on forever, and I lose track of the beginning when I get to the end!”

After a brief moment of remembering William Faulkner’s nine page parenthetical sentences, I decided perhaps I should change that too. I found myself going to the other extreme—Ernest Hemingway. His short, choppy sentences always got on my nerves. I don’t deal well with it. I don’t like it. It annoys me. It worked for him. It does not work for me.

What’s my point in all this? Write to your audience, not down to them. Give them a little mental exercise, but don’t make them work too hard. Reading is for expanding the mind and titillating the imagination, not making the reader’s mind turn to slush.

If I want to be completely confused, I’ll read James Joyce! In the meantime, I think I’ll continue to search for my place somewhere between “Moby Dick” and “Peter Pan.”

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing — Excerpt: Characters

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING

Creating Incredible but Credible Characters

By
Pat Bertram
Author of:

More Deaths Than One, Daughter Am I,
A Spark of Heavenly Fire, Light Bringer,
and 
Grief: The Great Yearning

People often tell me they feel they know my characters, as if my story people were a part of their lives, which is always wonderful to hear. It means I did my job. And it means the readers did their job. Incredible but credible characters are a combined effort. Characters are conceived in the author’s imagination, but they come alive in readers’ imaginations.

A character’s story begins with a gleam in her parents’ eye and ends with her death. The story we tell is but a fraction of that life, and where we choose to begin and where we, the writer, choose to end defines the story. If we begin with a crime and end with a resolution of that crime, we have a mystery. If we begin with a girl meeting a boy or a woman meeting a man and end with happily ever after, we have a romance. If we chronicle the rise and fall of the character’s fortunes, we could have a tragedy, a family drama or any number of stories.

The illusion of a well-told story is such that, whatever the genre, by the end of the book readers know the character as well as they know themselves and their friends. Readers know, or think they know, everything in the character’s life that brought her to crisis and how everything in the character’s life will work out after the story problem is resolved. By giving readers the essence of the character, we give them the means to continue the character’s story long after the book has come to an end.

How do we work this sleight of hand? By showing the character in action and in relationships. By defining the character through decisions in moments of crisis.

In the prologue of Light Bringer, Helen comes home from working a double shift at the hospital to find a baby on her doorstep. She shows her nurturing characteristics by taking care of the child, Rena. She shows the beginning of a metamorphosis from staid nurse to loving mother by putting off calling the authorities so she can enjoy the child bit longer. But what really defines her is how she acts in a moment of crisis. Rena, a magical child, or at least a precocious one, tells Helen they have to leave, that her invisible playmate says “they” are after Rena and when they find her, they will kill Helen. Helen doesn’t hesitate. She packs up her car and her life and escapes with the baby.

Helen’s decision defines not only her own character, but also the character of the baby, the character of the invisible playmate, and perhaps even the story itself. It is through such defining moments that we can create a character so real readers believe they know more about the character than was ever actually written.

In older novels, especially the classics, authors wrote page after page of character description, telling us who their characters are. Those authors dissected their characters’ motivations, told us their every thought, explained every feeling. Today’s readers, myself included, have no patience for such long drawn-out static passages. We want to get right into the heart of the story. We want to learn who the character is by what she does, who she knows, and how she acts and reacts.

Showing, not telling, is a basic axiom of writing for today’s market, but it is often hard to resist the urge to explain since you know far more about your characters than you can or should put in your novel. Still, by restraining yourself and letting readers be part of the creation process, letting them find their own explanations for what your characters do, you give them a stake in the characters and the story. And so your characters come alive.

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing — Excerpt: Plot Twists

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

EXCERPT FROM NOVEL WRITING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FROM AUTHORS OF SECOND WIND PUBLISHING

Plot Twists:
Three Little Questions
By
Norm Brown, Author of Carpet Ride

As a writer and avid reader of mystery novels, I love a good plot twist. Like that special seasoning in a favorite recipe, they are often what turn a simple story into an intriguing tale. The unexpected is what keeps readers turning the pages. However, like the food seasoning, plot twists can be overdone or simply distracting. Whether creating the timeline for a novel or writing the first draft, I like to keep my mind open to possible twists and surprises that could be stirred in to make the story more exciting and suspenseful. Some are included in my novel and many are tossed away. To help me decide, I came up with three little questions to keep in mind as I work through each scene.

 What if? As I come to each scene, usually a complete chapter, I have a pretty good idea what needs to happen in order to simply advance the plot (or a subplot) of the book, but as I’m filling in the details, I like to ask, “What if this was to happen instead of what the reader is expecting?” In my novel, Carpet Ride, I was surprised myself at how often the story expanded in a whole new direction. Seems to me, if you end up writing exactly the plot you started with, you probably missed some opportunities to make it better. So, turn your imagination loose and experiment with alternatives in the story.

 Why? When it comes to plot twists in a mystery, I don’t believe in sheer coincidence. Whatever surprising thing happens, it should happen for a logical reason. The cause does not have to be obvious to the reader right at that moment, but as the story unfolds the logic of this particular sequence of events has to be believable or your reader will feel cheated.

What then? To avoid cluttering your novel with meaningless distractions, any sudden plot twist should add something to the story. Even if it turns out to be a red herring, the twist should advance the plot toward its eventual conclusion. Otherwise, it’s just filler. And nobody wants to read filler.

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

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Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Authors of Second Wind Publishing is the 100th book published by Second Wind.  The book is dedicated to everyone who made this accomplishment possible: our authors, our readers, our friends, and our followers. Thank you!

“As someone who constantly evaluates novels for publication, I was astonished at the breadth and clarity of the wonderful advice contained in this handbook. It addresses concerns as grand as plot development and as simple but essential as formatting your submission. It offers crucial advice on literary topics ranging from character development to the description of action. Virtually every subject that is of great concern to publishers — and therefore to authors — is covered in this  clear, humorous and enormously useful guide.” –Mike Simpson, Chief Editor

Table of Contents

A Publisher’s Top and Bottom Five: What We’re Looking For vs. What We’re Watching For by Mike Simpson
On Becoming an Author by Susan Surman
Finding Time to Write & Overcoming Writer’s Block by Mairead Walpole
Creating Incredible but Credible Characters by Pat Bertram
How to Begin and End a Story by Lazarus Barnhill
Plot Twists: Three Little Questions by Norm Brown
Points of View by Juliet Waldron
Moving Smoothly: Transitioning in Writing by Jan Linton (JJ Dare)
Captivating Settings by Deborah J Ledford
Foreshadowing by Nancy A Niles
Timing by Claire Collins
Don’t Keep Me Dangling by Sherrie Hansen
Sex SCENES not SEX Scenes by Pat Bertram
Film as Literary Influence on the Novel: How to Approach Scenes by Eric Wasserman
How Much Narrative is Too Much by J. Conrad Guest
A Jerk’s Guide to Comedy Writing by Noah Baird
The Challenges and Joys of Writing a Novel Series by Christine Husom
Creating a Believable Science-Fiction Environment by Dellani Oakes
Write it Right by Dellani Oakes
The Importance of Formatting by Deborah J Ledford
Writing Aids and Organizational Tools by Coco Ihle

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques is available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon (Print & Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords (all ebook formats including palm devices)

Click here to Help Us Celebrate the Publication of Our 100th Book!!

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Help Us Celebrate the Publication of Our 100th Book!!

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Second Wind Authors is the 100th book to be published by Second Wind! We have come along way since August 2008 when we published our very first title (Norm Brown’s thrilling Carpet Ride) and we are still growing.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we will send you a coupon for a free download of an ebook in the format of your choice.  Just leave a comment and tell us which book you would like to receive. Choose from one of the following:

Novel Writing Tips and Techniques from Second Wind Authors. “As someone who constantly evaluates novels for publication, I was astonished at the breadth and clarity of the wonderful advice contained in this handbook. It addresses concerns as grand as plot development and as simple but essential as formatting your submission. It offers crucial advice on literary topics ranging from character development to the description of action. Virtually every subject that is of great concern to publishers—and therefore to authors—is covered in this brief, clear, humorous and enormously useful guide.” –Mike Simpson, Chief Editor

Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story. A collaborative novel written by authors of Second Wind Publishing. A little girl’s body has been found in the wilderness near the desert community of Rubicon Ranch. Was it an accident? Or . . . murder! But who would want to kill a child? Everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Everyone has an agenda. Everyone’s life will be different after they have encountered the Rubicon. Rubicon Ranch, that is. Read all about the ongoing Rubicon Ranch collaborative novel series here: Rubicon Ranch.

Change is in the Wind. A fresh, challenging collection of seventeen short stories by as many authors, all dealing with the theme of change and renewal. Virtually every major theme in modern literature, including romance, mystery, crime, science fiction, religion and even nature find their way into these marvelous, eclectic stories by Second Wind authors and featured guests.

Murder in the Wind. An anthology of crime/mystery short stories contributed by the outstanding authors of Second Wind Publishing. Murder, mayhem and the unexpected are rife in each riveting story. The stories range from humor to horror, from police procedurals to cozies, from suspense to more suspense, so you will find a tasty morsel to satisfy you no matter what your criminal appetite happens to be.

Thank you for your support. We couldn’t have reached this milestone without you.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to tell us what ebook you would like to read. Offer expires October 15, 2012.

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