Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Would You Take This Class?

Few writers make much (if any) money. Did you know that? You don’t do this to get rich because that reason and the lottery odds have a lot in common.

Over the years, I’ve thought about a variety of ways to supplement my royalties. I could sell some of my professional/writing craft books on Amazon’s used books section. I could write advertising copy for companies. I could write quick and dirty writing craft books and indie publish them. I even considered offering on-line classes. That’s a novel idea for a former educator, right?

I approached the co-founder of one of my favorite on-line writing class sites with a couple of ideas for teaching classes for them. Might they be interested? It turns out they might.

I’m not naming the site or the person (yet) I contacted since “interest” is a long way from “implementation.” I’m just trying out some ideas here. I’m looking for help. Tell me what you think.

One excellent suggestion I was given was to offer the class to a few beta participants so I could refine the class after the initial design. Great! I will do that!

In the meantime, I am working on the 20 class lessons I could offer. Here are the general areas I’ve come up with so far. In the comments section, please offer critiques, suggestions, options, and other ideas that might help me design this course.

First the title.

The course is sharing with others and having them try the elements that I use when I plan my novels. I am a mega-planner, most of the time. The system I’ve developed over the years is what helps me “win” National Novel Writing Month, “winning” being defined as producing at least 50,000 words in 30 days.Whether the participant wants to win NaNoWriMo or whether heesh just wants to try the jump-start apart from NaNoWriMo, this course is designed to ramp up the planning process.

So what would be a good title for a mega-planning class? Planning Your NaNoWriMo Novel? Write/Writing Your Novel in 30 Days?  Planning for NaNoWriMo? Or do you have another idea?

I would pitch this as being for novels not yet written, novel ideas not drafts.

Topics to be covered in 20 lessons (some take more than one day to present):
            Plotter or Pantser? A spurious distinction.
            Choosing a mentor text for assignments; what it is and
                   why it’s important
            Recommendations for several craft books for later
                  reading such as Larry Brooks' Story Engineering and 
                  James Scott Bell's Write Your Novel from the Middle 
                  and others
            What planning gets you and why you should do it
            Bell’s 14 signposts
  Bell’s five essential tent poles
            Premise vs concept
            Concepts and sub-concepts
            10 key events
            Character sketches
            Story treatment
            Scene grid Elements
            Using the scene grid for planning
            Writing the first scene

Lessons/Assignments (some take more than one day):
            Advantages of plotter. Advantages of pantser. Where are
                  you and why?
            Choosing your mentor text—the components: your 
                  genre; recent; well-written
            List craft books you’ve read and their influence on you
            What does “planning” mean?
            Find examples of Bell’s signposts in mentor text
            List your concept. List your premise.
            Identify your sub-concepts
            List your 10 key events
            Write five character sketches
            Write a three-page story treatment with main characters 
                   and plot twists including the ending
            Design your scene grid
            Fill in your scene grid from the middle out
            Write the first scene from your scene grid

So the question remains: would you take this course? Do you have suggestions for inclusion or change?

Bloggers appreciate you spreading the word. If this post helped you, tell others. Copy/paste the messages and post to your social media. Thanks so much!

Facebook: Sharon Arthur Moore wonders if you’d take this on-line writing class on how to plan your novel. What suggestions do you have for improvement? http://bit.ly/2xlWx4P

Twitter: Would You Take This Class? Give feedback for a proposed on-line writing class for novel planning. http://bit.ly/2xlWx4P

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Birthin' a Book

Prissy, of Gone with the Wind fame, famously said, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies.” That might be the cry of the debut author who changes the last word from babies to books. Or maybe not change it. After so many months with a book, it IS your baby!

Book-making is a lot similar to pregnancy and birthin’. First, you have the idea. You “plant the seed”, so to speak, in fertile ground and hope it takes hold. Will this book develop or will it spontaneously abort? Losing this baby is hard and painful, but sometimes nature decides it’s for the best. But the joy you have watching the baby grow makes it worth the risk to try.

All through the pregnancy, you “eat right”. You feed the baby what it needs. You stuff in research, and plot twists, and character dilemmas. “Yummers,” the baby, er, book says.

But the real fun begins at delivery. Will it be short or protracted labor? You either decide to go with a natural delivery (indie publishing) or you use drug assistance, or maybe even a Caesarian (both traditional publishing). The last involves lots of publishing professionals and a good bit of waiting around for things to happen.

But in the end, no matter your path to get here, you have a spanking new baby to show off to the world.

Unlike many parents, you put your kid out there on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the rest as much as you can. No worries about catching germs from exposure to others. You carry that baby everywhere. And you even give it away sometimes. Good for you! Do it again and again and again! Babies thrive in a wide-range of homes.

Now, go get pregnant again and again and again.

Bloggers love it when readers share the post with others. If you would do that, I’d be most appreciative. Here are some copy/paste messages you can use.

Facebook: Authors, have you ever considered how much writing and publishing are like having a baby? Sharon Arthur Moore offers a light piece for your enjoyment. http://bit.ly/2wjFmmY

Twitter: #Authors, #writing/publishing a book is a lot like a baby pregnancy & delivery. Check out @good2tweat’s light post http://bit.ly/2wjFmmY

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

10 Procrastination Beaters

Sandy Wright (Song of the Ancients) one of my writing partners, wore a tee-shirt to our weekly writing meeting. I immediately coveted it. Now, as a disclaimer, I finally have the other commandments under control. Stealing? Check. Killing? Check (well, except in my murder mysteries). Adultery? Check. But covet . . . I struggle with covet. Sigh.

Anyway, her shirt read: “Author: Putting the PRO in Procrastination since . . . I don’t know, I’ll look it up later.”  Too funny. You can see why I coveted it.

A quick Internet search turned up some other clever procrastination sayings:
I’m taking care of my procrastination issues . . . just you wait and see.
Procrastination: Working tomorrow for a better today
Procrastinators Unite . . . Tomorrow
I procrastinate and that’s okay because I’m 10 times less likely to become a serial killer.
I got so much procrastination done today.

And so on. Very funny stuff. Unless, um, you’re one of “them.”

You know what I mean. Now, of course, all of us uh, put off “stuff”. Occasionally, that is. All of us, at some point, find junk-drawer-cleaning more engaging than a blank page.

You’re not who I am addressing today. I’m talking to the professional procrastinator. The owner of The Big P. The one who would rather start a fourth blog (Who, me?) than edit pages for submission to an editor.

Yeah, you! (and me)

So what is the best thinking about how to beat back the procrastinator bug? Try out some of these ideas and see if they help.

First, you should examine why you are procrastinating. Some authors suffer from “fear of success”. “What if my book is good and then I can’t write another. I’d be a one-book wonder.”

Others suffer from “fear of failure”. “I’m a fraud. What makes me think I can do this? I’m just no good.” In both cases, in the author’s mind, finishing the book is NOT an option, so the author finds myriad reasons to delay the work.

Some authors delay a task because they don’t want to work that hard. They are facing 300 pages of revisions and edits and they know they will be difficult. The author has spotted numerous troublesome areas that have to be fixed. Will the book need to be re-written in various places? Will 50K words have to be eliminated?

Some authors (and this is my main issue, I believe) are just not very good finishers. They love new beginnings. The next bright and sparkly book idea attracts long before the current opus is done. They want to move on and feel the thrill of discovery in the new project.

Whatever your reason for procrastinating, as Cherry Adair puts it, “Finish the damn book.” You have to wrestle procrastination to the floor or deliver the knockout punch to it. Writing a book means you have a complete story, and that you not only prettied it up (with edits) but that you revised it until it’s as good as it’s gonna get.

Here are 10 suggestions. I’ll bet one or more will work for you.

1)   Stop thinking about the task and get started. Too much thinking hinders. Set a time to start. Just getting started creates positive energy. Worry creates negative energy.
2)   Make a list of the steps needed to finish the task and post them in your work area. When you do the first one, cross it off and give yourself a treat (like checking email).
3)   Set a timer and work on your dreaded task for 15 minutes (30? 45? You decide).
4)   Do the hardest thing first. The rest will not be so difficult to gear up for.
5)   Make a list of what NOT finishing will mean. Don’t do the pros. Only the cons.
6)   Blab to the world that you’re going to finish The Great American Novel by November 1st so you can do NaNoWriMo. Ask friends to hold you accountable.
7)   Find the place in your environment where you are most productive. Make it more so by not allowing in distractions (Internet, phone messaging, etc.) until a goal is met (# of pages, # of minutes, particular task).
8)   Visualize before going to sleep each night what finishing will look like and feel like. You create a mindset for success at your most vulnerable time—right before sleep.
9)   Confront your fear. What is holding you back from completing the task? Sit your issue down and face it down. Tell your issue you’re not going to be hostage any longer.
10)  DECIDE to stop procrastinating. Yes. Decide. It was a decision you made to avoid the task (even if subconsciously), so consciously decide to stop.

Bloggers love it when others share their posts. If you found this helpful, would you spread the word on your social media outlets? Here are some copy/paste messages.

Facebook: Writers, do you own The Big P? We’re talking PROCRASTINATION. Sharon Arthur Moore has a listicle post about causes and what you can do about your Big P issue. Read 10 Procrastination Beaters to see if it helps. http://bit.ly/2vwwSWp

Twitter: #Writers, does The Big P (Procrastination) hold you captive? @good2tweat ids causes and 10 solutions http://bit.ly/2vwwSWp

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Building Your Writing Platform-How Much is Enough?

  Okay. I admit it. I’m out of control. I started my fourth blog. Whaaat???

I hear you saying, “Sharon, you are not a model for other bloggers on keeping up with the three (whaaat???) blogs you already had. So, what’s the deal?”

The thing is, I’m insecure. Nobody knows me. Nobody reads my books. Nobody . . . You got the idea. So how do I combat the insecurities as I do battle to convince myself I’m a professional writer? Yep. I write more. Not on my novels, of course. I write tweets for my four accounts, I blog on my four accounts, I post on my five Facebook pages, and try to periodically update my website. And ask me to guest post for you, and I’m there.

All of this, okay, sure, I know it . . . all of this is the illusion of a platform. My attempt to point a dozen fingers at myself so that people will find me, notice me, read me. But if people don’t see the hands on which the fingers reside, they never see them pointing.

Ah, the conundrum. No hands with fingers pointing? Then how do people find you? Hands with fingers pointing, but, still, how do people find you?

Platforms are the stuff of conference sessions, on-line classes, and dozens of books. All part of your marketing plan, right? I was pretty green about the jargon of the writing field when I first began to professionalize my writing. In my first writing conference, I saw a session about “developing your author platform.”

Platform, I remember wondering? Platform shoes? Train platform? I was bumfoozled. What in the heck is platform in relation to writing. It sounds silly now, I know, but I honestly didn’t get it.

At the session, I learned that an author’s platform is simply about increasing your visibility and name recognition. That’s it. The corollary being that visibility/name recognition translates to book sales. Okay. I got it. McDonald’s has huge visibility and name recognition. Starving? Get a Big Mac.

But are people “starving” for the kind of books I write? And where Ronald McDonald has maybe a dozen others vying for that burger sale, I am in a sea with millions of authors, thousands of whom write culinary mysteries. One fish in a large sea. How would anyone cast a hook my direction?

Supposedly, the theory goes, I become a household name because I offer substantive content on my Twitter, Facebook, blog, and website accounts. And because I offer substantive content, I will be “discovered”. Oh, and I must write great books, too.

Discovery hasn’t happened yet. And I know I’m not the only author to be wondering what else I can do. So I started another blog. Maybe this one will be the straw that turned to gold (instead of breaking my back). 

Oh, FYI. Whereas, STREETWALKER is still on Amazon, MISSION IMPASTABLE isn’t available right now while I change publishers. One more impediment.

Want to read more? Check out this article
Article from Writer Unboxed on Writer Platforms:

Please point a finger at me! Tweet or post on Facebook to get people to read this article. Here’re a couple to copy/paste. Thank you!

Twitter: What #writing platforms are supposed to do and how much is enough. Read @good2tweat’s post http://bit.ly/2vkbQdx

Facebook: Authors, do you ever wonder how much is enough for your writing platform? Does your platform translate to sales? See what Sharon Arthur Moore thinks. http://bit.ly/2vkbQdx

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Essentials of Revision

-->I was on a panel at the most recent Public Safety Writers Association Conference. Our moderator for “The Essentials of Revision” was Austin S. Camacho, thriller writer and editorial director at Intrigue Publishing. On the panel with me were Lori Rader-Day, George Cramer, and Jim Guigli.

As is usual, we were given questions in advance so we could prepare a bit. One of the questions was about my revision process. I shared this picture of a word cloud I made for free at the website www.worditout.com.

This is the first chapter of Slipping into the Future, a women’s fiction novel I’m writing. The size of the word indicates frequency of appearance in the text. When I look at the word cloud, before editing, I see that my main character, her father, and her brothers’ names appear a lot. That’s good. I also see some words I need to edit out: just, like, about, back, and many more are bigger than they should be. Search and change or delete. Easy.

 The audience didn’t know about doing word clouds so I felt I contributed something to the discussion. I also distributed a handout with some tried-and-true and (maybe) new-to-you techniques. People like stuff for later reference. Here is most of the handout.

Tried-and-True Revision Tips
Focus first on plot structure, point of view, and pacing, followed 
by characterization and dialogue.
Read aloud to hear your pacing and dialogue.
Search for your killer words (really, just, actually, was/were, etc.).
Don’t work in isolation—have a writing group or buddy to read your work.
Put it aside to “percolate” and to get distance after completing 1st draft.
As you read, list what needs to change, but keep reading! Fix later.
Circle passive voice verbs and replace with strong verbs.
Do the hardest first, whatever that is for you.
Reward yourself for meeting a revision goal (e.g., deleting clichés, 
revise 50 pages, etc.).

Maybe New-to-You Revision Tips
Change the font and print out the manuscript. You’ll read closer.
Read your draft three times and make changes each time.
Compare scenes to a template: who, where, when, what, and why.
Does each scene end with a hook? Does each chapter end with a hook?
Make a word cloud to see which words you used most. I use worditout.com
Select “the” for a word search. Often, “the” is unnecessary.
Edit chapter by chapter from the end to avoid flow and missing things.

Now. Don’t you feel as if you were there? Nah. Not really. You missed all the humor stuff. Join me next year at PSWA Here’s the link to where you can sign up when they put up the new registration materials.

Do you know others who would like to read this post? If so, please post on social media. I’ve included a Facebook message as well as a tweet you can copy and paste. Thanks for you help.

Facebook: Do you struggle with making novel revisions? Maybe these ideas by Sharon Arthur Moore-Author will help. Especially check out word clouds. So cool! http://bit.ly/2fPTZVb

TwitterNovel #Revision can be more fun with #wordclouds. See @good2tweat’s revision ideas and how to do word clouds at http://bit.ly/2fPTZVb