Along with the technical publishing stuff, you'll find sections of this book that are designed to improve your writing. Here are just a few of them.
1. Before you fall in love with an idea for your next book, be sure you know where it's headed. You may have to kill off your favorite parts for the sake of the book as a whole. As we discussed last week, it often becomes necessary to "kill your darlings" by removing them from the story line to clear the way for topics that are more important. The danger of that is greater for pantsers--those who just sit down and write by the seat of their pants, not knowing where the story is going until it gets there. Planners--those who work out all the stages of a plot -- are more successful in ending up with a story that works. So keep asking yourself who the hero is -- what his goal is -- what or who is keeping him from reaching the goal -- and how he will resolve the problem. And there you have it--a basic plot.
2. Don't forget to do your homework. Besides, research is fun. You never know what you are going to find. If you want to create realistic characters, try exploring genealogy. Nothing is too bizarre to appear somewhere in a family history. I've come up with some great story lines by poking around in old cemeteries. I still don't know, for example, why two of my husband's ancestors were buried in the same plot, one obove the other. But what a story that would make!
3.Know the difference between fact and fiction. You may have a lot of facts at your disposal, but if you include all of them in your novel, the reader may end up with a stomach ache. Writers of historical fiction are especially prone to overdoing the factual, even when it gets in the way of the story. You have to know what happened, of course, and you need to check dates carefully so that you don't have a character driving a Model T before the invention of the automobile. But resist the temptation to show off everything you know. Bigger isn't always better, and word counts don't matter. Tell your story without padding. Quality is more important than quantity.
4. One final consideration. Once you've written a book, you have to sell it, so never think you are finished just because the book is in print. A book is still a book, but an author also needs an online profile. Don't ignore the power of imagery, movie trailers, and music to enhance your words. That's where Pinterest can become really useful. If the characters eat something interesting, provide the recipe--not in the book itself, but on a Pinterest board or a blog post. If you know someone who can create a short video, uses it as a trailer, a "Coming Attractions" announcement. If you can find an audio clip (not pirated but something out of copyright), use it on your website.
Friday is the last day to get your free copy of "The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese." Don't miss out.