Authors Resource Part 2

FeaturedAuthors Resource Part 2

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about the Author’s Resources.
This is part 2 of the series. Next Thursday and possibly others will cover this topic in greater degree.
Last Week I Asked Why Use Resources?
There was a time when an author only had his own imagination, his experience, and, if so blessed, a dictionary as resources. But the world has changed since those olden days. Back then few resources were available, but today there is a whole world of information available at the touch of a key. A computer key, that is.
Generally speaking, there are writing resources, publishing resources, and marketing resources. We will take a look at each, thus requiring several days of study. So let’s get busy.
Basic Resources that you need:
Dictionary
“I don’t need a dictionary!”
Think again. A good dictionary is vital to every writer. Your word processing program’s built in dictionary is good, but not perfect. You need a real dictionary; preferably one that contains thousands of words. In fact, a dictionary with a thesaurus would be a major plus.
Why? Because you want to avoid, if possible, the repetitious use of a word.  Somewhere during your editing you will discover a word keeps reappearing. A thesaurus would help you find another word, maybe a better word, to convey the same meaning. This helps keep your story fresh.
Dictionary, Bible
If you are writing a story that is based on the Bible you need a good Bible dictionary. Even better, a pictorial Bible dictionary.
When I use a pictorial Bible dictionary it not only tells me about a certain item, say a tool, but provides an image as well. This is an aid in visualizing the tool and its uses.
Grammar
Again, don’t depend on your word processor. They are not always accurate. You need a good resource such as a grammar book or a reliable online resource (in which case you bookmark it).
I often use the Internet to look up word usage and proper grammar. It helps reduce the confusion and makes the whole writing experience easier.
Newsletter
There are newsletter available on the Internet that deal with writing. Chances are there’s one that fits your needs. Check it out.
Thesaurus
You don’t want to be guilty of using the same word over and over. You need a resource for synonyms and antonyms. You need a Thesaurus. I commented above on the value of a dictionary with a thesaurus. If you can’t get both the dictionary and thesaurus in a single book, then invest the money in a thesaurus.
Actually, while I favor a two in one approach a standalone thesaurus may be bigger, with more words and uses.
Computer
These days a computer is virtually a must! That’s true even if you only use it as a word processor. Here are some uses of the computer:

  • Research
    • Basic research may include looking up words, facts regarding people and events, and places. Deeper research can take you as deep as you want.
  • Social Media
    • A Social presence can be gained through a variety of Social Media outlets.
    • Some popular ones are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads
    • New ones seem to be appearing on an increasing basis. Check them out.
  • Purchasing
    • Self-Help books. You can find books on almost any subject. They can be immensely helpful for a writer.
    • Subject books. By that I mean books written about subjects you are interested in. Perhaps your story is taking place in Australia. You can find books about Australia.
    • Tools. New tools are constantly being invented. Some may not be worth your time let alone your dime, but you might just discover a gold mine.

     

Next week we’ll look at websites.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four), or Death Ship to the Stars (Book One), and Pauline A New Home (Book Two), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Author’s Resources

FeaturedAuthor’s Resources

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about the Author’s Resources.
This is going to be more than one blog. So next Thursday and possibly others will cover this topic in greater degree.
Why Use Resources?
There was a time when an author only had his own imagination, his experience, and, if so blessed, a dictionary as resources. But the world has changed since those olden days. Back then few resources were available, but today there is a whole world of information available at the touch of a key. A computer key, that is.
Generally speaking, there are writing resources, publishing resources, and marketing resources. We will take a look at each, thus requiring several days of study. So let’s get busy.
The Internet as a Resource
I start with this because it is huge. If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that I write books based on the Bible and other books based on Space. Both require a great deal of research. Thus, I use the Internet a lot!
Here is a brief list of what is available on the Internet:

  • books on writing
  • books on the Bible (necessary if writing Biblical books)
  • books on space, such as space travel, history of space exploration, and more
  • Biblical Research material
  • Space Research material
  • And research on any other topic I am interested in writing about

Tip #1 – There is no excuse for not having information that you need. We live in the age of the internet. You can search for just about anything on it. But be careful. The internet is rife with false and misleading information. While it can be a rich source of material, you have to be careful.
I have found it helpful to stick with proven sources. Sometimes I venture out to new sources but I also check their content against the proven sources and against my own knowledge.
Tip #2 – Bookmark your favorite resources. Chances are you will need them in the future. This is a small feature on the Internet, but bookmarks or favorites are extremely valuable for someone who does a lot of research, especially if on multiple subjects.
Example
For my Bible related stories I make use of books on the customs and manners of the people, historical references, and names of men and women in the Bible. In addition, I make use of commentaries of the related person or event, word studies, and more.
But I don’t restrict myself to books. We live in the age of the internet. So I make use of it, searching for all manner of information. This requires a discerning spirit as there is false as well as true information on the internet.
Another example is researching for my speculative series Christland. There is a plethora of information out there. Since I’m writing in an existing fiction field, I research such things as Star Trek to get ideas about what a ship looks like and more.
But I also used other resources. For example, I researched the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 2. From there I got ideas about dining facilities, medical facilities, etc. on a ship. Why’d I use a sea going vessel? Because in many ways traveling space is akin to traveling the oceans. So I drew from naval research.
I used a wide ranging research because I wanted my stories to be state of the art science plus be solidly grounded upon either established fictional “facts” about space travel and established modern scientific facts about space travel.
Use of Internet Search
Warning, Warning! Use of Internet Search may become habit forming.
I am jesting, but the truth is that I spend a lot of time on the internet searching for information. Time flies by!
I will stop at different sites and evaluate their content. Sometimes I know enough about the subject to see how accurate the site is, but sometimes the information is entirely new. One trick I have developed is to copy and paste the material to a Word document. Or other times I simply bookmark the information in an appropriate folder. And sometimes I do both.
Build your library with books, ebooks, and well bookmarked resources.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four), or Death Ship to the Stars (Book One), and Pauline A New Home (Book Two), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Save Your Work

Save Your Work

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about Save Your Work.
Why is it necessary to save my work?
Let me tell you a true story.
Many years ago before I became a writer I started writing computer programs. It wasn’t for a job I had or a school I was attending. Rather I had a desire to write and writing programs seemed a great fit. And in the course of several years I did write a small program for where I worked (this was back in the day when it was easy to get into the company’s software and edit it) and later I wrote a little larger program for my church.
But early on I was learning the BASIC programming language. I had purchased the BASIC software engine and was diving deep within. I basically (pun intended) taught myself how to write programs. And I actually enjoyed it.
This was in the early days of personal computers. I began writing a long program that I would eventually use for myself. But then I started running into a problem. I would make an error and accidentally delete the entire program. This happened at least twice causing me to have to retype the entire program. Fortunately I had printed it out and simply had to read and type. Even so it was time consuming. That spurred me to saving my work every day I worked on it. But I still could lose the program, which then required me to reenter any code I’d already entered for the day. So I began saving my work periodically throughout a session.
When I started writing books I found this practice an invaluable tool. Why? Because no matter how sophisticated the computer gets there is the possibility of losing data. So it is necessary to save the work as you go on. I just saved this work for a second time.
Aside from replacing lost work what other advantages are there?
One practice I have engaged in since writing books has been to periodically save the work under a different name. When writing a book for another person I have done this frequently. This practice then provides multiple copies of the work at various stages. Even when writing for myself I have done this. Sometimes it’s because of a title change for the book. This has occurred several times. Again it provides additional material for comparison purposes.
Theoretically there is another advantage.
By saving my work frequently I can theoretically create multiple versions of the same story and decide which one I like the best. I haven’t done this, but it is possible.
But what is the most important reason?
That’s easy. Peace of mind. If I save my work regularly I am secure in the knowledge that I have the freedom to write without fear of losing the manuscript. Another advantage very close to that is the saving of time. Rewriting an entire book would cause a great deal of lost time, frustration, and energy.
How often should I save my work?
That’s something of a personal decision. But I would suggest you save your work at the very least every session. You might also consider changing it every hour or more often. It depends on the volume of work you do and the time you normally spend on it. But whatever you decide you might want to emphasize consistency. That will breed repetition which in turn will breed a more successful experience.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four), Death Ship to the Stars (Book One), or Pauline A New Home (Book Two), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Rules or No Rules

Rules or No Rules

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about Rules or No Rules.
You’ve heard all: Rules are made to be broken; You must never do this or that; and Absolutely not! Rules tend to govern our lives, some being good, some not so good. But the rules of writing, must we follow them? Or can we just do whatever?
One thought before digging in here, the purpose of rules are to provide a guide for you, the writer, to follow. Rules are meant for your good.
What are the Rules of Writing?
Actually there are a ton of rules, but I’m only going to look at a few. It’s not so much the rule that is at stake here but a point that I’m trying to make. In doing research on this subject I came across a book in my library that had a section on Kurt Vonnegut, who was a giant in the industry. He had some opinions about rules worthy of taking a look at.
Here are a couple of quotes: “Can I get away with this? No. The trick is getting the reader to buy it.” Another quote is, “whatever works, works.”
Now let’s take a look at a few rules:

  1. Always identify who is talking – Unless, of course, the context makes it obvious.
  2. Use italics when a person is thinking – Unless, of course, you prefer using another method.
  3. Separate speech from the action – Unless, of course, you decide to combine them.
  4. Only have one primary character – Unless, of course, you can get away with having more.
  5. Give readers as much information as soon as you can.
  6. Weave historical data, if any, into fictional content.

Those last two weren’t really rules, but rather suggestions from Vonnegut. But you might consider them as rules you should follow.
Now look back at the rules, you’ll notice I followed the first four rules with an “Unless” which indicated you could break the rule. Now take a sheet of paper and make two columns. On the left side the column will list rules, and on the right side you’ll put the word “Unless” at the beginning of the column.
Now, using the left column, make a list of the writing rules you know about. Just the ones that might affect you. Now go back to the top and read the rule on the left and then consider whether there are times you break the rule and why. If it’s a valid why, place the why in the right column. Theoretically that will provide a scenario where you have possible points where you can violate the rule. I said theoretically because you might be wrong.
To find out whether you’re right or wrong you might try searching on Google or some other search engine. A lot of times you’ll find the answer. another resource is to look at what famous and successful authors have done.
Neither of those methods can be considered absolutely correct, but there’s a good chance they are. In the end, you must decided the right or wrong.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Revising a Published Work

Revising a Published Work

Today I am writing about Revising a Published Work.
Before I became an Indie Publisher I had the frustration of finding mistakes in my books that got through the editing process. And to correct and republish the book would have cost me money.
One of the great benefits of being an Indie Publisher is the ability to edit and republish.
Yeah, but that probably is expensive.
Not at all. For example, I published Death Ship earlier in the year but I had not done the proper title research. I discovered there are several books out there called Death Ship. So I pulled the book (unpublished it), retitled it, and republished it. At no cost to me!
Try doing that with a Traditional Publisher or Self Publisher.
How much work did it require?
That actually depends on the changes to be made. In the case of the retitled book I also made a few changes internally, but nothing extensive. The whole process was smooth and easy to do.
So, how do you do it?
If you’re like me you still think about your book after you’ve published it. It’s one of those ‘I wish I had done’ type of things. Or if you have someone reviewing your book they may point out a mistake or problem. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest you republish every time you have an error, but the thing is you can. What a powerful thing that is!
Another example could be you wanted to update your Front or Back Matter. Again, you can unpublish and then republished after you’ve updated the book.
What about Sales?
Good question. When you unpublish a book it is no longer available for sale. If you are unpublishing an eBook which is in the Kindle Select program, the older version stays in the program until the program time run out.
That is why I don’t recommend republishing often. I only republish if I feel it is necessary.
In Conclusion:
Republishing is a valuable tool that you as an Indie Publisher have at your disposal. Use it wisely.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Beta Readers

Beta Readers

Today I am writing about Beta Readers.
You’ve put forth your best efforts. You’ve completed your book. Now you’re ready to publish!
Not so fast.
Have you gone over your book looking for the smallest of errors? Have you followed up by editing the book? If yes, then good, but you’re still not ready.
Let me pause here for a word of transparency. While I have used readers to check my work they don’t necessarily fit within the “Beta Reader” definition. Also, I am not necessarily recommending that you use Beta Readers. It’s a choice. Whether you use Beta Readers or not, it is your choice.
With that out of the way let’s review the following which is based on an article written by editors.
What is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Reader is essentially a person who provides feedback that potentially helps your book to be better than it was. Not everyone can provide that service. A Beta Reader should be:

  • the kind of person likely to buy your book
  • be more knowledgeable than you are on the craft of writing
  • be a reader of books in your genre

It is unlikely that you will find such people in your circle of friends.
Where do you find Beta Readers?
Listed below are some ideas. You are free to add additional ones.

  • Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) by asking for help
  • Scribofile where you offer feedback on other works and receive reviews of yours
  • Join Wattpad where you upload your book with a compelling blurb enticing people
  • Visit local writing or critique groups for face-to-face feedback

Working with Beta Readers
Just locating Beta Readers is not enough. You must have rules. The editors of the article point out authors don’t usually pay Beta Readers, so your interaction with them needs to be positive and affirming.
Don’t forget this little rule: How you treat your Beta Readers will determine whether they ever help you again. So it is to your advantage to treat them well. Use the Golden Rule: treat Beta Readers as you would want to be treated.
Having established that all important rule, let’s look at some others:

  • Give them your completed manuscript, not a draft
  • Send the manuscript in their desired format and method
  • Keep them informed on what kind of information you’re looking for
  • Provide a list they can follow
  • Never display disappointment or offense at negative feedback
  • Reward them by mentioning them in your acknowledgement page (people like compliments)

What’s the alternative to Beta Readers?
Your circle of friends can provide the alternative. Not all friends will be willing to help, but some may be willing. The thing to remember is to provide the same rules as for Beta Readers. And remember that these people are not necessarily trained to do such work.
But I have found that a friend who is willing to read my book and critique it can be very helpful. As I write this I have in mind a woman who took the time to read one of my manuscripts and critiqued it. Her comments and suggestions played an important role in the writing. Unfortunately she’s not really available anymore because of time constraints but readers like that are like platinum!
What should I do?
My suggestion would be to first look among your circle of friends for one or more people who’d be willing to critique your work. Note: the fact that a person may be an educator doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she should be used. Writing is fluid and sometimes crosses the border of so-called rules of writing as taught in the schools. That doesn’t rule them out, but just be careful.
Once you’ve done that you can try the Beta Reader routine.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Self Critiquing

Self Critiquing

Today I am writing about Self Critiquing.

It is popular to advise writers to avoid doing their own editing. Get, they say, a professional so that your work will be at its very best. The reason given is very true: When you review and edit your own book you may not catch the errors. Not because you’re incompetent but because you know what you are trying to say and your mind might translate the words on paper to say what you want it to say.

For example, you may have intended to write, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” But you actually wrote, “My son, God will provide his self a lamb for a burnt offering.” Forgetting for the moment this is scripture, you have changed the actual words. The meaning is the same but the words have been changed. Sometimes the meaning isn’t altered but you erred as far as the words are concerned. But when you edit it you may not see the error because in your mind’s eye you actually read it the way it was meant.

That is a legitimate concern. But do you need professionals to review your work? Professionals cost money and if you are on a tight budget then your ability to hire them tends to be non-existent. Whether you use a professional or amateur you need to do much of the editing yourself. It is your book and your responsibility. If your budget allows it then consider a professional, but if not then plan B should involve repeated reviews and edits.

Now some may say that is bad advice. That it will result in errors. But the truth is that whether you edit the book or a professional edits it there will be errors. Don’t believe me, then the next time you are reading a popular or classic novel keep an eye out for errors. You won’t find many, but you are likely to find some.

The key is repeated reviews. If you can involve others in reviewing your work, so much the better for the work. The more eyes the better chances you’ll have of catching the errors. By the way, one of the advantages of publishing your book yourself is that if you discover errors after it is published you can still correct and republish.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

HOW NOT TO WRITE

HOW NOT TO WRITE

Today’s blog delves into bad writing.

A few years ago I spoke at a meeting where we were discussing someone’s book (name intentionally withheld). The book was full of foul language and filthy sex. I had agreed to review the book not knowing the author’s tendencies. In fact, I started to back out because it offended me greatly, but I had agreed to read and so I read it, although it was a struggle. My conclusion, it was a terrible book. I would never recommend it to anyone.

But it was a best seller!

If it was a best seller then how can I say such hard things about it? And if my views are correct how come it was a best seller?

I’ll answer the second question first. Sex sells. So does filthy language.

I said bad things about the book because they were true.

Back to the meeting. In my review I condemned the book for the language and excessive graphics. One attendee, obviously a fan of the author, objected. She claimed to personally know the author who she claimed was a great person.

Now understand this, I never condemned the author as a person. I condemned the writing. There is a difference, but this attendee attacked me anyway. There were others in the room who agreed with my analysis, but this woman was obviously type A and wouldn’t back down.

Since that meeting I have talked about writers not using profane language or excessively graphic scenes. I mentioned it once in a blog and a reader commented that I was imposing my religion on the readers.

Not true. I believed that writing should not contain profane language or excessively graphic scenes long before I ever accepted Christ as my Savior. In fact, I wasn’t even attending church. I’m not talking religion I am talking about what makes a great writer.

Sales doesn’t make a great writer.

There is a constant flow of pornographic books that sell. Mankind is attracted to such books. But they are not good books.

Before I got saved I read well written books of all types. I even read books that had great plots, fantastic characters, while also leaving little to the imagination. And the interesting thing is that these books were great even if the bad stuff was left out. In fact, I would contend they would have been better.

You read any of my novels and I leave out the excessive graphics. That doesn’t mean there’s no sex, violence, or anything like that. When I write a scene I leave the excess up to the reader. Which brings up an important maxim.

A writer’s job is to stimulate the reader’s imagination not replace it!

So I always have a stopping point. This is true whether it is sex or violence.

But what about language? Well, let’s take a look at that. Those defending the practice contend it is more realistic, that everyone swears. But that is a false statement. There are a lot of people who don’t swear. Hollywood and TV has created an image that says swearing is normal, but we all know people, a great many people, who don’t swear.

So, first of all, swearing is not as prevalent as advertised.

Secondly, even if it was prevalent, we need to ask why most people read. It is to escape the reality of their lives, to imagine, to relax, and to be uplifted. Sure some are drawn to the dark side (a little Star Wars there), but I doubt that is the majority.

So, how do you the author show passionate characters and/or events without crossing the line? Believe it or not there was a time when authors actually solved this dilemma. In the case of language they simply used symbols, such as !@#$%^&. The reader automatically knew they represented a swear word. Some readers probably substituted their favorite swear word if they liked to swear. But the key here is that the reader didn’t feel deprived, but simply read on.

In the case of violence or sex the authors highlighted the activities leading up to the event. For example, in Perished I wrote of a battle where a sword fight took place. Read it for yourself:

Akkub turned and saw Meremoth rushing at him. He blocked the initial strike although staggered by it. Meremoth used a two-handed grip to force Akkub back. Suddenly Akkub lost his footing and Meremoth’s sword came slicing downward unblocked.

Everything seemed to stop as the general looked at his severed hand still gripping the sword.

Here we have a sword fight that results in one man losing his hand. The amount of detail provided is not too graphic, but it is enough to stimulate the reader’s imagination. And different readers have different levels of imagination, so each reader may picture the fight differently. In any case, the scene is full of action yet not too graphic.

In the case of sex, my usual approach is to focus on the events leading up to the act and to the events leading away from the event. Again, I let the reader’s imagination fill in the gaps.

In truth, the reader’s imagination is a valuable tool available to every writer willing to make use of it.

It is a tool that needs to be sharpened. You do that by using it. Moreover, you experiment and see what works. As deeply as I believe in what I am saying I have had people who reviewed my rough drafts tell me that I needed to back off in this or that scene. So you need people you trust to review your rough draft before you submit it for publishing.

My final thought on this is: what is your ultimate goal? We all want are books to sell. That is a given. But what is your ultimate goal?

Is it to simply get rich? Then you’ll probably reject everything I’ve said.

Is it to simply write? Then you may or may not care about this blog or about sales.

Is it to write your very best book? Then I contend you want your writing to be above reproach. Fame and sales would be nice, but you want to be able to say to yourself, I did my best. And that brings a deep sense of satisfaction!

 

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

PC EDITING Part II

Last week I wrote about PC Editing, today is part II. First a quick review:

PC Editing (Proof Copy Editing) is a term I invented because an Indie author generally does the editing, copy editing, and proofreading themselves. PC Editing incorporates all of these responsibilities.

PCE is the practice of examining manuscripts from the earliest draft through the continuous copyediting until the final draft. Then proofing kicks in as the final draft is prepared for publication.

After posting the blog I received the following comment:

Instead of the things that you list, mine editing tips for indie authors would be stuff like:

As the author of the chapter, you’re already emotionally invested in the characters and events. Pretend that your only knowledge of these characters and events come from the words on the page. Do those words engage you? Or do they bore you to tears? Do they make you care about the characters? Or do they bore you to tears? Are you excited to know what happens next? Or are you bored to tears?

Okay, so not much of a list. Just don’t bore your readers, which is the main problem I find with writers new enough to find lists like yours useful.”

My response: Interesting comment. I don’t oppose what you say, but bringing your characters alive is more than editing. I teach this prior to editing. The process of creating great characters begins at the beginning and carries through the entire experience. My blog was dealing with the basics of editing which probably should have included your points. So thank you for pointing that out.

I thought the writer was going to write more on the subject that I could include. But I haven’t received anything.

But he is correct. The characters need to be believable. It doesn’t matter if they are historical or fictional. Thus it is important for you to create characters that draw the reader in.

It is well to consider that your characters are human and humans have desires and flaws. When creating a character make him/her as real as possible.

For example, mankind has a perpetual desire to return to the innocence of the Garden of Eden. Some people believe this and some don’t, but all have it. Some even envision an idyllic world where man is at peace with his surroundings, himself, and with God.

How does this impact a novel? The truth is that every novel ever written or to be written is impacted in some way. The degree of impact will depend on the author’s understanding of that desire and ability to put it to paper.

The exciting thing is that your fictional characters start out with nothing and you can build on that. Then again, your character may be a real person. In the book Perished: The World That Was many of the characters were real, lifted right off the pages of the Bible. Therefore some characteristics or traits were already known. Even so I was able to take those few facts and develop the characters further.

In the case of Adam there was a constant inner desire to return to the Garden where he walked with God. But that was impossible. So what did he do? He built a small garden within his home and called it Little Eden. It was a place for quiet meditation or important meetings. That yearning was never really addressed but it expressed itself several times within the story.

The Yearning Factor

Your character is going to have strong and weak desires. Those desires will shape his/her expectations, experiences, and decisions as the story moves forward. So your first duty is to identify the Yearning Factor.

Basically the Yearning Factor is the primary desire of your character. So ask yourself, What motivates my character? How deep does it go? What does the character believe about him/herself?

Since your character starts out with nothing, you can start molding it right away. You can either tell (narrate) certain facts that reveal the character to some extent or you can let the character demonstrate it. Often you can do this by exploring the character’s past. Have there been broken hearts? Perhaps your character has desired things in the past and failed to realized them. Or perhaps your character has flaws that has prevented those desires from being attained.

The key is to know your characters strengths, and weaknesses. A well-written character grows from the beginning of the book to the end with constant, if not obvious, progress toward that goal. The character’s reaction to events transpiring in the story will both reflect and develop the desire.

So during the editing process  take a closer look at your character(s). As the commentator said ask yourself some questions:

  1. Are you (as the reader) engaged?
  2. Do the characters bore you to tears?
  3. Do you care about the characters?
  4. Are you excited to know what happens next?

If you’re engaged, interested, caring, and excited then you probably have created characters that others will care about and get excited about.

Here’s a thought to consider: The end of the story represents the end of the quest. Your character never truly attains the goal or desire. In life we end up with a mixture of successes and failures. To be realistic let your character also experience success and a small degree of failure. Perhaps a victory doesn’t satisfy as much as the character anticipated.

If this character will be a part of another forthcoming novel let the character develop and expand in that future novel. You can even put little teasers in the first book that will be answered in the second.

Developing strong characters not only enhances your book but builds your voice.

What is voice? There are probably a dozen or more interpretations, but essentially your voice is:

An author’s unique style and way of saying things. You should be able to recognize an author’s written voice the way you recognize a person’s spoken voice. In creative writing, one goal is to develop your written voice.”

This covers more than characters, it covers your entire story. As people read your stories they will learn what makes you unique and interesting. So having strong, interesting characters builds your voice.

As stated in the first blog, PC Editing basically finds and removes the most objectionable errors. The more often your manuscript is reviewed, the more often you will streamline your book. So don’t fall in love with a character or a scene or anything. Be ready to edit it or even remove it!

PC Editing is a process that you want to master. Put your own spin on it. The primary goal is to make your manuscript as error proof as possible.

PC Editing is a needful practice for the Indie Author. It is your responsibility to create an entertaining, gripping novel. If you fail to do this you will likely fail as an author.

One final thought.

Don’t worry so much about what others think of your book. What do you think and feel? There are always critics. Some will delight in tearing down your book and you. But if you can honestly say you like your books plus the characters and events in the book, then it is likely others will agree.

At the same time, don’t be satisfied. As you begin a new novel determine to make improvements in your characters and story line. You should learn and grow as a writer after each book is published.

Feel free to comment on this blog. As you can see I read your comments and may include them in a future blog. But whether I do or don’t, you can be sure that I will read it!

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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.