Tag Archives: readers

Different Strokes for Different Folks

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Different Strokes for Different Folks

Hello, everyone. I hope all of you experienced a great week. Today I’m giving you a blog that discusses how you can broaden your story and your readership from an article by Bharti Kirchner. This was originally published in the Writer magazine.

Why venture into unaccustomed territory when it comes to characters? In a globalized world, re regularly meet people.e very different from us in race, class, ethnicity, religion, politics or ideology.  Modern novels and memoirs, as mirrors of a society, increasingly depict this heterogeneity.

In addition to expanding our readership, a diverse character, whether the protagonist or a secondary character brings a broader voice to a story. In the case of the novel Tulip Season, protagonist Mitra meets a mysterious German man, and the contrast between the two adds an element of tension.  With dissimilar actions, attitudes and world views, backgrounds and upbringings, their interactions spark a great exploration of Mitra’s world.

Creating Authenticity: How do you get started writing about a person foreign to you? By immersing yourself in that particular culture of community through direct contact and by building relationships.  Armchair travel can also help, as can books, videos, movies, art, and the Web. Remember, in the end, it’s your story and it’s fiction.  You’re facing challenges no matter what.  “If you’re going to write fiction, you’re going to write about people who aren’t you,” says David Guterson, author of 10 books, including Snow Falling on Cedars.  “You should feel some healthy trepidation about that.”

Respect, openness, and empathy are keys to depicting an unfamiliar culture or perspective.  Here are additional tips and techniques.

First Impressions: What a reader first notices is how the character looks, dresses, sounds and behaves.  Bring the character alive with physical descriptions, but not too much and not all at once.  Allow readers to use their imagination to fill in the blanks.  Pay special attention to the rhythm of the spoken language.  A foreign born person might speak with an accent and fall back on native words as necessary.

A Character from Inside Out: You’re writing about individuals, and the methods you usually employ to develop a character of any kind still applies. Remember that all cultures have hopes, fears, and dreams, and it’s your job to portray that.

Does a diverse character have to be sympathetic?  Peter Mountford, the author of two novels, including A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, says no.  “Actually, I’m not sure he is very sympathetic because of the choices he makes,” Mountford says of Gabriel do Boys, the 26-year-old, biracial protagonist in his novel.  “He builds a lucrative career instead of abandoning it for love.  I feel for him, definitely, but a lot of readers struggle with him, and I suppose that is the key to writing “the other,” for me.”

Beliefs and Conflicts: Every culture or community holds common beliefs about marriage, family, money, status and friendship.  A character is likely to suffer moth internal and external conflicts when going against these beliefs and sometimes even when conforming to them.

Showing Universality: By wrestling with choices and obstacles, a diverse character, like any other, grows and changes.  In the process, he or she displays common human characteristics as fear, anger, joy and love.  Although I’m different, I’d feel much the same in the same situation, the reader realizes, and perhaps gets more involved in the book.

You can make a character accessible in other ways.  Show how he or she relates to friends.  Let him or her grapple with everyday issues like traffic.  An element of humor can also help.  We gravitate toward people who lighten our days with a joke or a funny situation.  It is in those moments that we let go of our differences and embrace our common humanity.

 

I hope this article helps to make your writing this week easier. The more knowledge we have the better writers we are.  Blessings to all.

The Writer’s Platform

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Writer2When most of us dream about being writers, we imagine sitting at a desk or in a padded chair overlooking the ocean, writing a novel, and then kicking back as a publisher discovers it and makes it a New York Times best seller. We don’t want to have to do anything but write. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Today you need a platform.

Platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author. Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform, says, “It’s your personal ability to sell your books right this instant.” What that means is the publishers are relying on you, the author, more than ever to build your own audience before your book is for sale. Whether that means having a loyal blog readership, a robust Facebook Fan page, a Twitter following to rival Ashton Kutcher’s or a personal e-newsletter that reaches tens of thousands of people who will buy your book.

The bad news, of course, is that this takes a significant amount of time, meaning you either write less or sleep less. The good news is that if you build a strong enough audience of fans who enjoy your writing, chances are you’ll be better suited to sustain a longer and more financially valuable writing career.

When should you start building a platform? Immediately! How? Well that’s a trickier question. The answer depends on what you feel most comfortable with and how you can best reach your readers.

You want to be as many places online as possible so that more people can find you, but you don’t want too little time interacting with potential readers in every venue.

Your best bet is to pick one or two social networks to dedicate a significant time to work on connecting with people who may enjoy the types of books you write.

Perhaps you could start a blog that features your characters’ back-stories or adventures beyond what readers will learn in your novel. Or, tap into your Twitter following to crowdsource ideas for future character names and histories. You may even consider giving away a full chapter of your novel on your blog, but require readers to submit their email address for access so that you can contact them with a link for purchase when your book is released.

It’s up to you to decide where and how your time is best spent, but it is very important to invest at least some of your time in building a platform. Without one, you’ll be at a disadvantage when trying to convince a publisher to take a chance on your book, no matter how amazing it is.

Original by Brian A. Klems

The Beginning

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The beginning2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a problem with the beginning of your book?  I know I certainly did. I was very insecure about how Dobyns Chronicles should start, but I finally made a decision. “OLD AGE IS hell, but it’s something all of us have to go through.” Right or wrong you have to make a choice. I wanted the opening to establish the voice of Charley Dobyns and to set the tone.  I don’t skip around when I write. I have to have the beginning before I can go on with my writing.

You must have a strong opening and that’s not easily done. Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool, a New Times Noteworthy book stated his beginnings stay in flux also.  Sometimes the second or third sentence may be the best beginning or even the second or third chapter.  We seem to do a lot of rearing of our words to get the beginning that strikes the right cord with us.

I used a dialogue opening which can pique a readers’ curiosity. I noticed a lot of writers go for the scenic opening. The real question is what type of opening will cause your reader to go on though the story.  I know for myself that I have picked up a book and read the first page and put it back on the self.  If it doesn’t grab my attention, I don’t read it. A good first page captures the reader’s interest and makes them want to read on.

Ellen Sussman, author of A Wedding in Provence, tends to open her novels with a scene. “I want to ground my readers in my fictional world.” She says. “It’s as if I want them to jump right in and join the characters in action.  I try to make sure that the opening scene captures some of the tension of the novel as well as introducing the main character and the setting.  Of course, the tone gets established right away as well.  Tall order for one scene!”

Does your beginning have conflict?  Conflict is what drives all fiction. Readers may tend to have certain expectations about an opening based on what genre it is.  The avid mystery reader is on the outlook for the story’s victim. Readers also keep an eye out for the protagonist. Even in fantasy a reader has to know that they are in another world where there may be wonders or terror. It doesn’t matter the genre, the beginning has to contain the components to catch your reader.

“Crafting the beginning takes careful attention, patience and a flair for the dramatic” said Jack Smith the author of the article Start to Stop which this blog was based on. It is a major investment of time and energy so we have to make the beginning the best we can make it.  Happy writing.