THE MARRIAGE OF BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND ENGAGING SETTINGS

Screen shot 2012-04-16 at 5.23.25 PMWhat makes a character come alive in a news report, work of fantasy, memoir or mystery-thriller?

Readers say they enjoy their lovers and villains, mothers and neighbors to be complicated, passionate, painted in vivid hues, believable and consistent, even if being constantly inconsistent is the character’s only consistency.

“Sitting in black revolving chair, my chin in a rest, my forehead against a strap, and facing an intense light about to be shined on my inner eye, while the doctor at his illuminated glass counter made entries into my record, I turned pessimistic.” ~ Harriet Doerr

The reader could cut the palpable tension in the narrator’s mind with a dull scalpel. Why is Ms. Inner Eye even in the doctor’s office? What conflict(s) might be poised to leapfrog from languorous lounging on a lily pad to violently and irreparably shatter the pristine surface of the pond that has pooled her mundane and entirely matronly 57 years?

We simply have no choice – we must keep reading. We care what happens to this woman. Indeed, she has entered the open door of our hearts as brazenly and uninvited as Goldilocks, is getting comfortable in our heads and is warming her size 10-AA feet on the crackling fire of our curiosity. She is no longer a character in a story, she is someone we either know, or must get to know. Now!

READ ON

Please enjoy the following examples, chew them slowly, savoring every intriguing bite.

“I opened my eyes to the sound of new people brushing past my aisle seat. And looked up to see a colored woman holding a large sleeping baby, who, with the heaviness of sleep, his arms so tight around her neck, seemed to be pulling her head down. I looked around and noticed that I was in the last white row.” ~Grace Paley

“They sat at the Martinique Café, a café frequented by mulattos, prize fighters, drug addicts. He had chosen dark corner of the café and now he bent over and began to kiss her. He did not pause. He kept his mouth on hers and did not move. She dissolved in this kiss.” ~Anais Nin

“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked outside of the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming from the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.” ~ Jeannette Walls

“Did Will love Emma? I’m certain he did. The memory of his hand wrapped around my arm and his whisper, this part of her makes you want to hold on, still makes me shiver sometimes when others touched me there, because I remember the longing in his voice to touch his wife there when he was touching me.” ~ Sarah Blake

“I was coming back from the grocery store with two bags of groceries when I saw her there with her dirty-faced toddler. I offered her an orange, then my loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter. I nearly croaked then I heard the sound of crying coming from the cooler on the ground behind her, looked inside to see a baby.” ~ Yvonne Daley

“Blond hair and anorexia were passed down like family jewels to my sisters, but not to me, the brown-haired blob. I did not know who I was or wanted to be, but then again, neither did my parents. My grandparents anglicized their names and left their Jewish heritage behind when they fled Poland to America years before. And don’t even ask me about my immediate family. They just mimicked the Long Island losers they befriended at the WASP Country Club; no, that wasn’t its name, but it should have been.” ~ Becca Chopra

Thanks for visiting. Please come back often and tell all of your friends and colleagues about our Editing Services.

 R. R. Harris

Author of Double Take, a mystery set on the Big Island of Hawaii and set for publication on Amazon, Fall 2013.

Info@Indie AuthorCounsel.com

http://www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Why Self-Publish?

Kris Wampler, author of Love Train, interviewed Becca Chopra on why she chose to self-publish. Kris is an author and provides an e-conversion service, E-Literate. Here’s what appeared on her blog: http://kriswampler.wordpress.com:

Becca Chopra chose self-publishing rather than bother with sending out query letters to traditional publishers.  Find out which vendor she recommends for her marketing materials and learn about a website with free advice for indies.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

Chakra Secrets is a memoir and more.  Follow me on my path from aspiring actress to yoga teacher and chakra healer.  Navigating betrayals and loss, tormented by guilt, I explore kundalini, tantric sex, past-life regression and mind-body tools as I earn my credentials as an energy healer and finally find love and light.  You’ll not only learn my personal secrets, but the “instant” healing tool I learned in Hawaii that you can use anytime, anywhere to eliminate pain, stress and clear the path for healing on all levels.

 

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I didn’t have the patience to send out query letters to agents.  Rather, I decided to self-publish and save myself a lot of time.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

No.  I haven’t tried – but I won’t turn down a traditional publisher if they approach me.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

There was a learning curve, of course, to make sure my books looked professional, but I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten from my editors, book cover designers and CreateSpace publishing.

5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?

While my books are dramatic stories, they weave in chakra and yoga wisdom.  And I find most of my audience is interested in just that – being entertained while learning how to balance their lives.  So, I’ve offered free chakra meditations for download on my website and offer lots of useful information on both my website and blogs – resulting in a list of people interested in my next offering.  Also, using KDP Select to offer free books has helped my Amazon rankings and word of mouth about my books, increased customer reviews, and resulted in more sales.

6. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

For giveaways, such as yoga tote bags, note cards, T-shirts and calendars with the cover of my book on them, you can’t beat the prices at Vistaprint.com.

7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

That you have to find your niche and continually interact with it.  You need to set aside time for social networking and marketing efforts as they are just as important as writing a great book.

8. Indie authors face the challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie just starting out?

Read all the free advice online from other indie authors.  For instance, download the free book marketing checklist from IndieAuthorCounsel.com.  Even most traditionally published authors have to do their own marketing these days.  So we all need to be experts at writing press releases as well as books.

9. What are you currently working on?

Now that I’ve published Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life on Kindle to expand on the self-healing technique I describe in Part II of my memoir, Chakra Secrets, I’m producing a DVD which will take viewers step-by-step through the process.

10. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?

Balance your chakras, balance your life!

THANKS FOR THE GREAT ADVICE,

Roger Harris

info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com

BOOK COVER DESIGN BASICS

Cover created by Joy Sillesen

Joy Sillesen, our guest blogger today, is a publishing industry veteran who has designed everything from websites to event posters, but her real love is book cover design. At last count, she has designed over seventy-five covers, with no signs of stopping any time soon. She is also a multi-published author under the pseudonym Christine Pope. Visit www.indieauthorservices.com for more information and to view her portfolio.

Some Basic Cover Design Rules of Thumb

by Joy Sillesen

The indie publishing movement has empowered many people, giving them the opportunity to take the publishing process, from writing to editing to cover design, into their own hands. As exciting as this hands-on approach can be, it can also lead to covers that look downright amateurish. If you need a cover but can’t afford a cover designer…or just want an excuse to start playing with Photoshop…then there are a few basic rules you should keep in mind.

—Typography that’s easy to read

Although it can be tempting to plaster a bunch of fun fonts all over your cover, it’s not recommended. I know fonts are fun (I have tens of thousand of them in my own font library), but it’s generally recommended that you use at most two. Most of the time the title should be bigger than the author’s name, unless the author is a household name. The title should be the first element to help sell your book. If you choose a curly script font because your book is a historical romance, make sure it’s readable even at thumbnail size. A large number of people do their book buying online, and they’re confronted by rows of thumbnail-sized images of book covers. If your title is unreadable, there’s a good chance they’ll pass right over it.

—An image that’s recognizable at thumbnail size

Again, because people tend to browse online, the image on your book cover should be something that can be processed quickly. If people have to squint to figure out that that green shape is a dragon, then you have a problem. This is where learning the most effective way to crop an image becomes so important. You can be working with the most beautiful image in the world, but if it’s not placed so it creates the maximum impact, then it’s not going to do you any good.

—A professional image that’s appropriate for your genre

The images used on your cover can create a visual shorthand for a book’s genre. A woman in a big pink ball gown being embraced by a bare-chested hunk signals that you’re probably not looking at an espionage thriller. Most people these days use stock images, since the cost of custom art is so high, and there are many stock image websites out there that provide literally millions of images. However, make sure the image you select effectively conveys the essence of your book. In many cases, layering multiple images can help to customize the look of stock so it’s not immediately recognizable. Also, unless you’re a professional photographer, avoid the temptation to use your own images on a book cover. In general, snapshots can’t replace photographs taken under controlled studio conditions or by photographers with specialized equipment.

—A clean, uncluttered design

White space is your friend. A design needs those “empty” areas to give the eye a rest and also provide a cue as to where you should be focusing your attention. Avoid the temptation to put blurbs all over the cover or make the text so big that it overpowers the background image. For e-book covers especially, all those kudos from fellow authors or lengthy subheads are going to get lost at thumbnail size. Sometimes a subhead is necessary, but keep in mind that it probably won’t show up in a thumbnail. And while it’s great that someone thinks your book is Pulitzer material, save that verbiage for the book description or the “Editorial Reviews” section of your book’s product page on Amazon.

—Colors that complement one another

I’ve heard some people say that cool colors work better for e-book designs. I’m not going to be that narrow in my recommendations – after all, I wouldn’t give a book with a desert setting a cover done in greens and blues – but the colors chosen should work together. Also, certain genres tend to have predominant color palettes; black, red, and white for thrillers or mysteries, for example. Conversely, romances often have softer, warmer palettes in shades of pastels.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone is going to agree on what makes a great cover, since people’s taste varies so greatly. However, if you keep these simple rules in mind as you’re designing a cover, you’re much more likely to create something that works as an effective sales tool for your book. Also, don’t be afraid to look around for design inspiration – there are thousands of talented designers whose covers can help guide you as you determine what works best for your book. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make sure your book cover creates the impression you intended.

Thanks, Joy! I love the book cover Joy designed for my upcoming release, Chakra Secrets, and definitely recommend professional design as the first step to creating a best seller.

For more advice on marketing your book, download our free Book Marketing Checklist.

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

FREE KINDLE BOOKS BENEFIT READER AND AUTHOR

&quote;Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. &quote; ~ Rumi
&quote;In the presence of grace, forgiveness is a recognition that for every wound there is a healing. &quote; ~ Deepak Chopra

These are two quotes that appear in The Chakra Diaries, and give an idea of the themes woven through the novel life stories of ten people who find magic and miracles through attending a chakra healing workshop.

The Chakra Diaries is FREE ON KINDLE, all day today, Friday, April 6.

I asked Becca why she is offering The Chakra Diaries FREE on Kindle…

Roger: Why are you offering The Chakra Diaries Free today?
Becca: The Chakra Diaries is a unique book, stories of people’s triumph over the tragedies in their lives. I’ve had great success reaching readers interested in yoga and chakras, but the Kindle Freebie is a way to reach a broader market – readers of women’s lit, inspirational books, dramatic fiction.

Roger: Is using KDP Select part of your overall marketing plan?
Becca: Yes, I’ve learned that having a strategic marketing plan, including a website, blog, using blog tours, author forums, Ezine articles, FaceBook, Twitter and other social marketing sites, as well as the tools Amazon offers its authors, are all important in getting your name out there. Publishing houses no longer spend marketing dollars to promote their new authors, so all authors need to create their own marketing forum.

Roger: What other advice can you offer other Indie Authors?
Becca: I used a professional editor, a professional book cover artist, and Create Space to professionally design my book. I think it’s important for Indie Authors to take every step to make sure their book is every bit as inviting to read as the books we’re all used to. Even eBooks need to be well-formatted with an attention-getting cover. Kindle is the fastest-growing venue to sell your work, so pay attention to your eBook quality – otherwise, Amazon can offer instant refunds to dissatisfied customers.

Roger: I know you’re often asked, are you related to Deepak Chopra?
Becca: In philosophy only. He’s been one of my greatest teachers. And I wouldn’t mind being as prolific an author as he is.

Using Kindle KDP Select is only one of the many marketing tools that has led The Chakra Diaries to the top of the Amazon charts in books related to yoga and chakras. For a complete list of BOOK MARKETING TIPS, email info@IndieAuthorCounsel.com.

To download your FREE KINDLE version of The Chakra Diaries, go to:

http://amzn.to/FPcLzQ

For more info, see her website at www.thechakras.org.

Happy reading & writing!
Roger Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

SECRETS TO A GREAT BOOK TITLE

It’s no secret that a great title is crucial for attracting readers to buy your new book. But, it’s also one of the first steps to inspire, excite and motivate YOU while you plan, outline and write your book.

Crunching out a blockbuster title does takes some inspiration, perhaps even from a dream or memory, but you can tip the odds in your favor by following a few proven techniques.

If you are like me, and writing a self-help book, you have studied your niche and know which key words are searched most often regarding your subject matter. Thus, it is imperative you include a keyword or two in your title as you tell the reader what the work is about – either in the title or subtitle. Unless you are a household name and sell books merely by riding the crest of your past writing successes, you must hook the reader immediately.

Look at the titles of the most popular self-help books. They all refer to benefits that can be learned by reading the book: for example, looking younger, being more healthy, having better sex, making more money, accomplishing more with less.

For the book I’m now writing, I was inspired by the title, BALANCE YOUR LIFE, which I hope will be intriguing to readers, evoke a positive vibe and trip lightly, yet thoughtfully, off the tongue. But, for my readers interested in yoga and the chakras, I know I need to add a subtitle, CHAKRA HEALING SIMPLIFIED so they will know their interests are included, plus the specific benefits offered by this book are expressly spelled out. A rule of thumb is that short and sweet headlines are best explained and supported by a subtitle.

In non-fiction articles or books, numbers in the title can make your work sound both comprehensive and authoritative, such as TEN EASY WAYS TO LOSE 10 POUNDS.

Alliteration and repetition can help your title trip off the tongue, as in RICH DAD, POOR DAD.

Out-of-the-ordinary words and phrases, such as oxymorons, are good for attracting attention and curiosity, such as EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE and CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL.

If you’re promising to solve a problem for the reader, the naming of your book may be solved. HOW TO… is one of the most effective title builders. It instantly attracts potential readers and is likely to be the darling of search engines if enough people want to know what your book promises to teach them.

It’s always good to be flexible and open and to bounce your “draft” titles off others and to brainstorm options. In that spirit, I welcome any feedback on MY proposed title in your comments on this thread.

If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here.

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

How to Market Your Book or Put Books into the Readers’ Hands

Pulled in too many directions? Get professional help in publishing your book.

As I write my new book, I’m glad I like to multi-task, because I’m reminded by the guidelines in the “Novel in A Month” program that it’s never too early to start getting your message out there. Writing a self-help book means I want to help make the world and the people in it happier and healthier – but it will only happen if they know about my book.

I wish that publishing and marketing your book would be fun and a labor of love like writing the book. But make no mistake, it is labor. If you are pulled in too many directions and do not want to do it yourself, there are dozens of individuals and firms, like www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com, who will be glad to assist you in any and every phase.

Back on the sunny side where a mountain of books and eBooks are filling brick-and-mortar stores and virtual marketplaces like Amazon, let’s discuss some tried and true methods for maximizing your visibility as an author to the reading public. Can we call it the Books in Carts strategy?

(1) Prepare a marketing plan

Start this well in advance of launch of your book.  Start with Where and How you will market your work. For example, where will you place it – Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Smashwords? Where will you Social Network? Choices may be Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in addition to your blog and/or website.

Identify the marketing issue, and create an action list with a schedule for completion or the amount of time you will spend daily or weekly, if it is a repetitive task. It is human nature to do tasks that we enjoy first and to delay the others interminably.

(2) Request Reviews

Gather a list of reviewers so that you may request reviews the second the ready-to-be-published copy is in your hot little hands. Create a professional review request document that includes an image of your book cover, a cogent, yet concise synopsis, (Imagine you are standing in line at the DMV or post office, carrying a tote bag that advertises your book and a woman who is reading a book on her Smartphone, looks up and asks about your work – you have 15 seconds to schmooze her or lose her. What will you say?) and pertinent details such as genre and number of words.

(3) Become a Chatty Cathy

Put up a thread about your book on a readers forum even if you have not completed it yet, and get to know people. Some of them will end-up reading your book, and if they like it they will recommend it on other forums too. Offer them incentives to be an advanced reviewer such as a PDF download to gather blurbs for your back cover.

(4) Get tangled in the Web

Write about your projects and comment on others’ work. Pass on advice on what helps you and what does not. Post sections of your work and invite comment. However, just like a date from hell who refuses to quit talking about themselves, websites that are solely a self-serving vehicle are a bore and will sit home many a lonely Saturday night without even a visitor.

Thought for the Day: To write, all you have to do is to open a vein and let it bleed. Red Smith

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here.

Becca Chopra

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Free Kindle Book and Free Advice on Indie Publishing from Becca Chopra

Read The Chakra Diaries, Becca Chopra’s inspirational novel, FREE ON KINDLE, all day today, March 17th.

I asked Becca to take some time away from working on her next two books to allow me to interview her on some key questions of other Indie Authors.

Roger: Why are you offering The Chakra Diaries Free today?
Becca: The Chakra Diaries is a unique book, novel stories of people’s triumph over the tragedies in their lives through taking part in a chakra workshop. I’ve had great success reaching readers interested in yoga and chakras, but the Kindle Freebie is a way to reach a broader market – readers of women’s lit, inspirational books, dramatic fiction.

Roger: Is using KDP Select part of your overall marketing plan?
Becca: Yes, I’ve learned that having a strategic marketing plan, including a website, blog, using blog tours, author forums, Ezine articles, FaceBook, Twitter and other social marketing sites, as well as the tools Amazon offers its authors, are all important in getting your name out there. Publishing houses no longer spend marketing dollars to promote their new authors, so all authors need to create their own marketing forum.

Roger: What other advice can you offer other Indie Authors?
Becca: I used a professional editor, a professional book cover artist, and Create Space to professionally design my book. I think it’s important for Indie Authors to take every step to make sure their book is every bit as inviting to read as the books we’re all used to. Even eBooks need to be well-formatted with an attention-getting cover. Kindle is the fastest-growing venue to sell your work, so pay attention to your eBook quality – otherwise, Amazon can offer instant refunds to dissatisfied customers.

Roger: I know you’re often asked, are you related to Deepak Chopra?
Becca: In philosophy only. He’s been one of my greatest teachers. And I wouldn’t mind being as prolific an author as he is.

Thanks to Becca for her time (she’s in the midst of writing her next book using the program, NOVEL IN A MONTH), so she’s on a whirlwind writing spree.

To download your FREE KINDLE version of The Chakra Diaries, go to:

http://amzn.to/FPcLzQ

For more info, see her website at www.thechakras.org.

Happy reading & writing, while saving some “green” on St. Patrick’s Day!
Roger Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Describing the Setting

Settings literally provide a stage for your story – a meeting place for characters, conflict and suspense to meld, wrestle like cats in a bag or become the best of friends.

Tips to keep in mind when writing descriptions of your work’s setting: Keep it simple so that the reader is not overwhelmed. Engage your reader not with flowing prose that aches to be set to music, but instead, let your character’s voice reveal details that energize the piece.

Allow the reader to close her eyes and hear the character’s drunken drawl, to be choked by the grit that lies heavily, permanently in the tropical air, or to be disgusted by the stench of the unbathed villain with one eye.

From Rebecca in The Chakra Diaries: “Julie arranged my soft Indian mats in a perfect circle of color before collapsing like a lifeless marionette, center-stage in the middle of the rainbow, smack on the bright green cushion.”

From Sarah’s diary: “From across the field, my youngest sister and I saw the unbalanced red tractor rear like an unbroken colt, pawing the air, its rubber feet spinning dew-damp hay in rainbow arcs.”

Remember to pace yourself. Your work is a marathon of sustained maximum effort and should be unveiled or doled out, slice by delectable slice. Tease and entice the reader so they must know what happens next.

Close your eyes and let your mind paint the details and color the mood. Look for relevant details that cry out to be noticed, to be included without fail. Keep in mind that an out-of-work actor may describe a scene entirely differently than a street painter, soccer mom or fashion photographer. Certain details may be “left out” of a setting by one character only to be introduced later by another, IF the added details advance the story or deepen the character.

They lived in a Moorish tower that they had bought for very little money. The old doors did not close well, and the wind opened them over and over again. I sat with them in a big circular room with peasant furniture. Anais Nin

One last tip is that a well-written setting description allows the reader a peek into what the character sees while it enhances the mood of the piece, as subtly as a first kiss or as violently as a train wreck. No character sees everything. She only focuses on what is important to her at that moment. If the added details do not further develop the plot, leave them out.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in and write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here: http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day Two, Character Sketches

Today, let’s talk about character building. We will start with identifying the main characters, and color in their personalities, challenges and individual attributes.

Before you proceed any further, you will need to decide whether you are following an outline or not. It will help if you have both primary and secondary characters. Too many may turn your work into a Shakespearean play and you may lose the reader by page eight.

Introduce characters into your story plan by listing their name and role in the story. Think ahead to ways you will let the reader inside their heads by showing their fears, vanities, quirks, flaws, hobbies, even secrets that can help mold your story.

“I am going to write about people with faults, with nasty tempers, men and women of all classes and conditions, with love and hate and fears and gripes against each other. People I can believe in because I know and understand them.” Leigh Brackett

Maybe the kill-without-a conscience mob assassin has a soft spot for kids because when he was four, his own father’s blood crimson-stained his just-finished sand castle at a family beach outing. Now he has an unwritten rule never to hurt a parent in front of their child.

In The Chakra Diaries, Rebecca is the main character but she introduces and is enveloped by a cast of sub-primary characters who are participants in her Chakra Healing workshop.

All of the characters in The Chakra Diaries need to build a strong Root Chakra foundation before they move on to achieve what they want in life. Yet, Estrella, a young woman from Long Island, especially experiences the frightening feelings of isolation and abandonment by those who profess to love her. In response, she grows a thick outer shell literally by gaining weight to physically push others further away and emotionally by trusting no one and fearing everything. Every minute of every waking day and, often in her dreams, she searches for the safe haven within herself that she never found growing up.

Blond hair and anorexia were passed down like the family jewels to my sisters, but not to me, the brown-haired blob… My carbon-copy mom and sisters all followed the Atkins Diet, exclaiming with drooling delight over blue cheese bacon burgers (buns aside – too many carbs). I had to supplement family meals with goodies I hid in a stash under my bed to keep my ethnicity – the zaftig curves, remnants of old-country Europe and appropriate only for my grandmothers… My father refused to accept my collect call, screaming, “Star made her bed with the bus boy, let her lie in it.”

Julie is the poster girl for an unbalanced fourth or Heart Chakra, a noxious cocktail of anger, depression, grief, despair, jealousy and sadness that is neither shaken nor stirred. She so desperately needs to learn forgiveness in the course of healing her chakras, and to free her life from the suffocating restraints of negativity. Her tainted soul lies bruised and sore, cast away from the mainstream of life and out-of-reach of her body’s innate healing energy.

A sense of peace washed over me as I imagined the cool, dark, soothing embrace of the ocean’s depths. Depths where this earthly pain could not exist… The doctor said the cancer had spread way beyond the lump on my thigh. Far beyond the scope of simple surgery or mainstream chemo… It’s probably a blessing that Mark confessed to sleeping with Rebecca.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in trying to write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here:

http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

Becca Chopra

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day One

Whether you are writing a self-help work, like I am with Balance your Life or fiction, as my colleague R. R. Harris is penning with Double Take, it pays dividends to be organized.

“An outline is crucial and saves so much time. It tells you where the story is going.” John Grisham

So, we begin at the beginning.

TITLE: Give your work a name, or something that can reference your project.

GENRE: Be flexible as this may change as the plotline and characters and your thoughts morph and develop. List all of the genres that your story might fit into.

POINT of VIEW: Will it change from scene to scene or will the main character narrate in first person throughout? An author friend of mine said that when she began her autobiographical “coming of age” novel that her original intention was to have the first-person voice change as her character grew and matured. However as she drove further and further into the hinterlands of her work, she realized how maintaining that direction complicated her writing and de-railed it from flowing freely from her consciousness. For example, she would have to ensure that her teenager was not speaking with the voice of a worldly and wise, middle-aged maven or vice versa.

Some authors choose voice from scene to scene by weighing what character stands the most to lose. Although unless skillfully written, this approach can leave a reader wondering what is going on and especially, who is talking.

WHO wants, WHAT do they want, WHY do they want it and What/who stands in your character’s way? Not sure where to begin?

“What if X happened? That’s how you start.” Tom Clancy

“Don’t wait to be struck by an idea. If you are a writer, sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” Andy Rooney

SETTING: Can make a story gel into a dish fit for the Queen or alternatively turn it into cold tasteless soup that even hungry flies shun. Of course, there are endless possibilities. You can create memorable characters as at home in the book’s setting as a well worn slipper, but who enliven it and blaze brightly at the slightest provocation. Perhaps others triumph despite all odds or seemingly invincible villains meet their match in a unforeseen avalanche of choices that could not have been forecast.

“Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” John Updike

HOOK/SPARK: Yeah, the night was dark and stormy and she came to the door with nothing on but the radio, but then what? What will I write in the second paragraph and on page 87 that will keep my reader into the book? Will the last sip of my book be as satisfying as the first, or even more so?

As an author I must constantly ask – have I set-up conflict, created suspense and action and left the reader panting for more? Am I solving a problem the reader has, conveying knowledge or fulfilling a need?

“I want the reader to turn the page without thinking that she is turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.” Janet Evanovich

DON’T QUIT: “Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com