Writing Basics

Point of view basics: First person POV in fiction

I’m teaching a creative writing workshop this semester at my local community college, and I just had an epiphany as I was writing notes for our next class. I thought, “Hey, dummy! As long as you’re typing all of this writing stuff up, maybe you could use the content for a series of blog posts!” Of course, I’m a huge fan of re-purposing content, so I replied, “Okay, cool. Let’s do this.” So today, here’s blog post #1 of a series I have written to provide a brief overview of the basics of Point of View (POV) in fiction writing.

According to Self-editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, there are as many as 26 flavors of point of view. For the purpose of this series, we will focus on four basics: first, second, third, and omniscient. Today, let’s start with first person POV. Continue reading “Point of view basics: First person POV in fiction”

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eBooks, Valley of the Bees

Fixing your #Smashwords ebook file: The nuclear option isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds!

Many of the most common issues indie publishers encounter when converting Word files to eBook files can be eliminated by properly setting up each Word document and sticking to specific formatting practices throughout the writing process. However, this can be difficult when you format your manuscript with the intent to publish it in print first, and then try to convert your print manuscript file to an eBook file. I learned this first-hand this past weekend when I took the beautiful Word file that I had formatted for the print version of Valley of the Bees and converted it into an eBook.

A Valley of the Bees promotional ad

Luckily, Kindle’s .mobi format is very flexible and doesn’t seem to be quite so picky. With a few simple adjustments, my manuscript became a Kindle eBook with almost no effort on my part. It even retained the cool honeybee icon that I had placed at the top of each chapter! Unfortunately, uploading my manuscript to Smashwords for distribution in other formats wasn’t so easy. I crossed my fingers, held my breath, and let it go. And then, two days later, I received the dreaded email informing me that my book had failed the ePub review. Continue reading “Fixing your #Smashwords ebook file: The nuclear option isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds!”

Memes

Why varying word choice should not extend to #dialog tags

As writers, we all know the importance of varying our word choices. However, regardless of what your middle school language arts teacher might have taught you, this concept should not extend to dialog tags.

writing meme
Your dialog tags should never be more interesting than your story!

If you’re like me, you have probably had at least one English teacher admonish you for overusing the word, “said” when writing narrative. That teacher probably asked that you instead switch it up and use dialog tags such as, “he replied,” “she moaned,” “he argued,” and “she admonished.” While this might have been appropriate for a middle school English class, it is absolutely incorrect for a novel. Continue reading “Why varying word choice should not extend to #dialog tags”

Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: Never Lost

300 Writing Prompts
This is my new book of writing prompts.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I had recently purchased a book titled, 300 Writing Prompts and that I would be sharing some of my own attempts at the prompts in this book. Here’s my first little ditty. It’s not very long because I kept it within the allotted space in the book. You can write longer if you like. Please feel free to share your own responses to the prompt in the comments below.

Writing Prompt

When was the last time you got lost? Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: Never Lost”

Short Story

Now available on Kindle: Rain at Three (with a bonus free download!)

Rain at three, short story
“Rain at Three” is now available on Kindle for 99 cents.

My short story, Rain at Three, is now available on Kindle for 99 cents! Here’s a brief description:

Can you ever really know the man you’re marrying until you’ve really gotten to know him? Vicki is beginning to learn just what kind of man she has married. Is the honeymoon over so quickly? It may be 73 degrees and sunny in Hawaii, but it always rains at 3 p.m.

Download your copy of Rain at Three today! If you like my story, please do me a favor and review it on Amazon.

As an added bonus, for today only, you can also get a free download of my son’s book, Avery Moves. Avery was eight years old when he wrote and illustrated this book for a school project. He had so much fun with it, we decided to take the fun one step further and publish the book on Kindle! He would love to see that people are downloading his story. If you have any words of encouragement for him to keep writing, please post them to the review section on Amazon.  Continue reading “Now available on Kindle: Rain at Three (with a bonus free download!)”

Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: A snatched lunchbox

writing prompt meme
I got mugged this morning. He snatched my lunchbox right out of my hand.

Write on this prompt, then share your work on your blog or website. Post a link to the comments below. Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: A snatched lunchbox”

Writing Prompts

Wednesday Writing Prompt: A Day in the Life of a Shadow Consultant

For some reason, this article gave me a ton of story ideas while I was reading it. For today’s Wednesday writing prompt, choose a title below, or read the article and come up with a new one of your own.

A day in the life of a shadow consultant

  • Life in the Shadowlands
  • A Day in the Life of a Shadow Consultant
  • The Geometry of Sunshine
  • Where Shadows Would Fall

Write a story, post it to your blog, share a link here in the comments.

Continue reading “Wednesday Writing Prompt: A Day in the Life of a Shadow Consultant”

Digital Marketing, Essays, Memoir

My Final Paper | Teaching Life Writing as a Life Skill: Normalizing the Deviant Self via Personal Narrative

I finally finished the class I was taking this semester and turned in my 22-page final paper on Thursday. Yay! While I shared several of my earlier papers here on my blog throughout the semester, this paper is just way too long for that. So, I decided to see this as an opportunity to explore a new (to me) publishing platform that I had previously only used for reading: Scribd.

It turns out, Scribd is super easy to use. You can embed your documents right into your blog as I have done above so your readers don’t even have to leave your website! You can also charge people to read your documents on the Scribd website. I’m not going to do that with this paper, though. You may feel free to read it here in tiny text, or click through to the Scribd website or app to read it for free at your leisure! Continue reading “My Final Paper | Teaching Life Writing as a Life Skill: Normalizing the Deviant Self via Personal Narrative”

Character Building

How to make the unbelievable believable

Evolution and Human Behavior cover
I don’t know about you, by my fiction writing has benefitted a great deal from studying motivation and personality theories. | Evolution and Human Behavior cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is believable? What does it mean to write a “believable” scene or character in a work of fiction that is not “true” to begin with? These are questions that fiction writers must tackle if they want readers to “buy in” to the tale they are telling.

Human beings act in unbelievable ways all the time, but it’s the motivation behind the actions that are most important. One fundamental element of writing is the study of human behavior and why people do the things they do. It’s not enough to simply tell a story about what our characters do. We must also explain why they act in a particular manner and do it in a way that will make our readers believe it.

Whenever a reader tells you that he or she finds your story or a particular character unbelievable, your first reaction should NOT be, “Well duh, it is fiction.” Instead, you should ask yourself, “What is this character’s motivation?” In other words, why is the character behaving so ridiculously? It’s not that your characters aren’t allowed to behave in an unbelievable manner. The problem is, you have to demonstrate for your reader that the behavior really is possible, or even probable, given the circumstances. Continue reading “How to make the unbelievable believable”