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ABCs of Writing: Part 1

ABCs1

Written by
Beth Rodgers

When learning to write, we start with our ABCs.  They provide components that make writing easier.  Peruse the following words and explanations about how to use the alphabet to promote your writing craft; then check back next month for the rest of the alphabet!

Ammunition.  My reservoir of writing techniques serves as my ammunition to get the ball rolling.  I work to come up with new ideas to share with myself as I work on my writing.  Ammunition does not only have to be construed negatively.  People hear it and think of guns and violence.  However, in this case, it’s meant as the driving force behind my writing.  Each new idea I consider is part of the ammunition I’ve made a stockpile of as I pen my thoughts.

Bravery.  I’m not afraid to take risks.  I want to stand out and make my writing shine.  I make a point of including conflict to make endings more magical.  My characters struggle through dilemmas and emotions; they also consider ways to overcome struggles.  Sometimes that isn’t possible, and that’s what makes for more emotional, substantial details that lend themselves well to pulling at readers’ heartstrings and making them feel deeply for my characters.

Collection.  I have a large collection of books, poetry, websites, etc. I use when I feel stuck.  I read books in my chosen genre, and I make a point of learning more about authors by analyzing why they chose to write a certain way, why they made their characters act certain ways, etc.  It is important to see the paths others have taken in order to learn the craft well.

Decisions.  Making decisions can be hard, not only in life, but in writing.  Even when writing fiction, the reality of the writing must set in as you embrace the lives of the characters and realize you must make decisions that affect the outcomes of their lives.  Remember that creating conflict isn’t the worst thing, as there must be some sense of urgency throughout your writing in order to make it realistic.  You might have your readers suspend disbelief, but you also might want them to feel grounded in reality.  Pick your moments wisely, and make the most of your writing as you do.

Energy.  Never lose the vivacity and excitement you have when you begin writing something.  Stay on the writing rollercoaster, and let it take you on all the twists and turns it can.

Freedom.  Write to your heart’s content.  You can write a novel-in-verse or a short story that chronicles the top news headline.  You can write an idea for a unique TV pilot.  You are at liberty to make revisions, additions, and concessions within your writing until it’s to your satisfaction.

Gravity.  Stay grounded.  Even if you are writing fantasy or science fiction, don’t go so far as to be totally unbelievable.  You want to convey comprehension, and this may be lacking if you get too into ridiculous notions that readers aren’t apt to understand.  If you do choose to write silly, ridiculous stories or poems, great!  Just make sure the context is right.  Don’t write in this way if you haven’t prefaced your work to make it comprehensible.

Happiness.  Enjoy what you write.  Laugh at your jokes.  Employ descriptive words and phrases.  If you’re not happy with your writing, how can you expect anyone else to be?  Obviously, concessions can be made if you feel it’s for the best, but you’re the one doing what you love.  Make it a happy experience.  The rest will fall into place.

Instinct.  Use your instincts.  Intuition is a strong tool, and if you feel something is right or wrong for your story, trust yourself.  However, it can’t hurt to make a note of what you choose not to include, as you never know how it might come in handy in the future.  If you don’t write it down, you’re more likely to forget it.  Keep all your thoughts, as you never know when they might become useful and creatively stimulating in a way you never considered.

Jello.  This may sound silly, but when you make jello, you leave it in the refrigerator for a while before it becomes solid.  Until this happens, it’s liquid.  At that stage, it is not ready to eat, but when it takes on a more solid form, it becomes edible and tasty.  The same is true of writing (except the edible, tasty part – unless you’re thinking metaphorically).  Your writing needs to be worked on before it can become a solid structure.  You want to make sure you focus on all details necessary to make your work well-rounded.

Kin.  Work on characters.  Outline their physical characteristics and personalities.  The way someone acts is equally, if not more, important in some instances than the way he or she looks.  A character’s personality can be equated to someone readers know, and this will give them a vision of what they think the character looks like.

Lifestyle.  Writing should be a part of your daily lifestyle.  It is one of the most important ideas that gives creative license to write what you know and love.  Learn to think outside the box and see the world, your writing, your characterization, your emotions, and everything else in new, glorious ways.  Let your lifestyle become your motivation to notice more.

Market.  Be sure you market your writing appropriately.  Don’t attempt to sell a children’s fairy tale to an adult romance publisher.  Also, set your sights on the right demographic.  Consider who will read it.  Be certain that the words and phrases you use are at least somewhat specific to that demographic so you meet the needs of the people you’re most trying to impress.

More ABCs are forthcoming next month, but as you learn your own writing alphabet, consider the possibilities I’ve already presented.  There are so many places to go with your own writing; you just have to keep your eyes open.

How To Design Book Covers That Rock #1: Photo Fragments

Written by
Sarah Wathen

Readers do judge books by their covers. Everyone knows that. But indie authors also know that this book publishing business can be expensive, hiring good artists and designers particularly so. Yes, we have to wear a lot of hats—author, marketer, social media guru. Some things you have to farm out, like editing (please, please, please don’t do that yourself). But you’re probably creative, since writing is an art form after all, so you may want to give cover design a try.

If you’d like to make your own book covers, the best place to start is by looking at some excellent ones to get your creative juices flowing and understanding how you might try a similar design technique.

Lately, I’ve been loving book covers that use fragments of photos. What is left out is the most important part of the image. It’s not so much a beautiful photograph that you see but the part of the beautiful photograph that is missing. You have to fill in the rest with your imagination—just like the best books.

adThis one above looks professional and artistic, yet an amateur with vision could do it. It may be difficult to stage a full scale model shot, but if you have an iPhone, a friend with pretty hands, black drapery, and a nice tarot card, you could pull something like this off.feaAn areal photo of a landscape? Blah-di-blah. But print out that photo, fold it up like a map and re-shoot it on a white table? Three-dimensional and eye-catching!
bae

The photograph above could’ve been a stock photo purchased online. Again, print that photo out and tear into it, then re-photograph with text.

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Since I’m a painter, this one sparks my interest most. I simply can’t stop looking at the physicality of those brush strokes. They are so jarring, beautiful yet frustrating—blocking my view. I’m dying to read the book to find out what I’m missing! But again, print out a plain old boring seascape, apply paint, then photograph again with proper lighting.
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This last one would be admittedly harder to pull off and was probably accomplished in Photoshop. Such gorgeous results, however. The fact is, if you are going to give cover design a shot, Adobe Photoshop is pretty essential to have. You’ll need it for the finishing touches and typography anyway. It’s an expensive program, but there are ways to ease the pain. I personally have an Adobe Creative Cloud account, by which I can access any Adobe program I want (and always have the very newest version) for $50 a month. The learning curve can seem steep, but anything you want to try can be Googled and you’ll find dozens of step-by-step tutorials on how to do it.

All of these covers rock because of the brain power that went into making them. Brainpower is something we authors usually have in spades. And who knows your book better than you do? There is nothing more satisfying than designing the perfect cover for your own book. Give it a try…but do it right! Do your research and learn from the best.

 

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