Writer’s Advice – what’s that?! 2018

Author’s Advice

There are many ways that people can get advice. The most obvious ways for writers to improve are to take lessons in the language they will be writing in and the old fashioned ‘read the greats’.

There are times when constructive criticism is very helpful and there are times when your enemies will only have destructive criticism and jealousy to offer you.

Two main ways to get feedback about your writing for professionals:  1) Submit!  When the editors will make changes; when the magazine or newspaper or publisher will buy it/pay for it; then that ‘s good.

Great ways to get feedback for amateurs and some semi-pros: join writer’s groups; take work shops or classes.  Peer critique is often part of such arrangements.

General to Specific

There are numerous types of writing and most writers specialize.  Many of those who have specialized don’t call themselves writers.  Grant writers, for instance, will often just say that they work for whatever organization they work at in some administrative role.  Journalists, typically prefer to be called journalists, although they could all call themselves writers and be telling the truth.  Staff writers may choose to refer to the publication where they work.  Most staff writers wouldn’t ever write “for fun” or “as just a hobby” and those that would might well not tell the truth about that.

Travel writers, book authors, niche novelists, political news, best restaurants, fashion, television, film, all have specialized types of writing.  There are people capable or more than one kind of writing, but it is common for those who are most successful in the field to find they were forcibly limited to a small subjection of the writing world in order to find a way to earn a living or to develop a good reputation in the industry.

 

Network

There are times when you have to meet and greet enough others in the industry to get a deal and other times when you really need to mail something for it to work. In some cases, the right thing to do is apply for a job and become a regularly paid publishing company editor for other authors even if you hardly get anything of your own published. Maybe you will, and maybe it won’t matter anymore.

Sometimes writers are stubborn and fail to change in ways that will cause them to have far greater success and other times people just realize that for them: to change that much would be so bad that they might as well go work in a totally different field if that’s really how it works.

Other writers tolerate a lot of painful constructive criticism and make survivable compromises and learn to be a bit more flexible and they find out that they can get a lot further and are happy with the results even though the reality ends up being unlike their original idea.

Politics in Novels

Politics in Prose

Sooner or later, people in more intellectual circles may ask about the politics of an author of about the politics of a fiction novelist’s fictional worlds.
Here are a few tid bits of information:

  1. Women philosophers are more likely than their male counterparts to write fiction novels. I won’t go into why that is at this time but there are reasons for it.
  2.  Genre authors are sometimes categorized in certain ways and people may feel that a specific political agenda appears in their fiction. This is only sometimes true. The politics of a given story may not be the same as in an author’s other stories.

As an author, I toy around with politics in some stories. I do view it as important but may not express that consistently from one novel to another. Then again, once readers get used to me, it might well be obvious.

Multiculturalism & Pluralism

There are stories which closely resemble the real world or are set in “the real world” despite being fiction. In the novel The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead has characters exhibiting the same kinds of racial diversity that one finds in the setting – the city of Indianapolis. There are good guys and villains of both the main “racial types” in the story. No one was included or left out for the purposes of being offensive.

Me, personally
My personal politics are most likely to be loved or disparaged as promoting a socially progressive “Liberal agenda” or even “Liberal feminist, politically correct agenda”. I don’t think of it that way to the same extreme that my political adversaries do but I am politically and sociologically a progressive thinker. I am not against tradition for the sake of rocking the boat. However, I do think that pointlessly oppressive social systems which are immoral should be dismantled. I do think that a certain amount of institutionalized prejudice against varying degrees of criminality is warranted. I do believe that it is perfectly acceptable for the USA to remain “a Christian nation” without apology and that “religious tolerance” should not go so far as to devastate ourselves due to being attacked by our opposition because their perception of our “tolerance” is to take over and supplant our basic Christian culture. I am Pro-Choice and believe that abortion should be very rare, but safe and legal in those rare instances when it occurs. I believe motherhood should be well supported and understand that many “relationship conservatives” are coming from a school of thought which is based in preventing divorces and single-parenting without killing anyone. I think support for adoption would work better if pregnant women and girls get more support than they get torment from peers, clerics or parents. I won’t go on about it all any more right now.

There are a few other tid bits about my personal politics in The Double Life of Tutweiler BuckheadMost of it, is the simple ways in which my views of good and evil are communicated in the plot and characters.Check it out for yourselves right on the Works associate page.

Meanwhile, drop us a comment or even start a conversation about multiculturalism in literature. If you are interested in diversity in the real world more than in fiction, check out Be Diversity Competent!.

Changes in professional writing 2016

Online, I have managed to gather some writer friends.  I am not always the greatest person about learning every aspect of the job but interacting with some other writers sometimes helps.

About that: I have been particularly bad about learning every gory detail about the industry.  For over 20 years I was just one of the writers who is an artist about writing and was looking elsewhere for a day job.  I had not forgotten that my mother advised that I either try to become a technical writer or else make sure to have a day job.

Harsh reality: there was a reason for that advice.

There have been many changes in the industry during the past ten years.  In truth, the situation has continued to improve and to become worse right along with the improvements.

The reality for those who were getting some income by writing online is just one area where changes made by a relatively small number of powerful business people caused a lot of people to lose their income as writers.  Part of it seems to have been a side effect of ‘affiliate marketing’ and ‘content mills’ but not all of the changes are clear.  In some cases it is just that the environment became much more competitive.

Freelancing websites abound but more people are participating.  Job openings for full time staff writers have been growing in many nations including the USA and UK for those using English.  Even so, many of the writing jobs that women working from home were doing, suddenly disappeared and many pro writers were suddenly told they would no longer be paid for their work.  Elsewhere online, some freelancing sites told people they could work at beginner rates their entire lives or be blackballed.

Meanwhile, more affluent writers balked at the horrors some of their counterparts were going through and urged those others to either switch to way better paying clients or to switch jobs entirely.  The underworld of writers has made it so that some people who want to get paid to write actually can, but like much in life it has both a bright side and a dark side.

In 2016, this situation has not come to an end.  There is some writing work available serving affiliate marketers and there are still plenty of jobs – full time and freelance positions, for professional writers in the English language.  Landing and keeping clients is just one of the many aspects of the job aside from the writing itself that writers may learn at any time in the process.

Most writers are known under the nomiker ‘journalists’ and many others work ‘at magazines’ or other types of ‘staff writers’.  Such people often manage to earn a living which often impresses other writers but literary authors and artistic writers are often left with a bitter or sour feeling about it.  Journalists themselves, including quite successful ones I have personally met, have themselves felt beaten into submission and found themselves proud to have earned a living for decades as professional writers but still wondering if anyone would ever pay them for anything they wrote because they wanted to write it.

During the past ten years, as most readers may already know, there has been drama about how much the world of publishing has been changing and about how much electronic publishing formats were becoming powerful and whether or not they were a threat to print media.

Some readers may recall that one of the big thrills of the computer revolution was supposed to be reduction in consumption of forests for use as paper.  That might not be great news for the paper industry.  However, in actual practice, the dynamics and the drama between that kind of ecologically friendly motive and also the reality of where the money in the industry is and how people honestly feel about using electronic and print formats.  The more recent introduction of e readers created another great opportunity for people to look into electronic books versus print books.  Consumer trends, pricing, what will really work for whom and why or why not.

There were hopes and fears that ebooks would overtake print books but after a few years it now looks as if print books are still more popular but that e readers and ebooks now have a nice healthy niche within the book industry.

As it happens, and as referred to earlier, the majority of professional writers are not book writers, but some are.  The most famous of writers are quite often the book writers and a few journalists.  Every once in a while a play write or a poet becomes ‘famous’.  In the meantime, the TV and film writers pull in good livings and end up in situations that are reminiscent of corporate executives or university Deans – they are not really treated as stars, but they really do well for themselves and have good reputations.  Studio musicians with good reputations have a similar kind of experience.

Print and online article writers and blog writers are most likely to be the most numerous kind of writers – especially when ‘ordinary, real journalists’ are included in the count.  It also includes hordes of writers working from home, sometimes as parts of groups and other times as individual freelancers.

The industry continues to change.  The biggest mystery of the world of professional writing is that for those in this vast and broad ranging industry, the paths to success are somewhat diverse and what counts as success is to.  As in acting and so many other professions, the majority are not the most successful and many suffer from shattered dreams.  Many professional writers do best early on and when young whereas there are large corps of others who become successful after age 50 or even after age 65.  Of those, some just try it as a new thing later in life but here and there are success stories from people who really tried hard for 47 years to become successful writers before they finally ‘made it’.  In that respect, some writers give each other a lot of advice and some say only that people should really get a job in a different field if one wishes to earn a living.

Want To Improve Your Creative Writing?

Want To Improve Your Creative Writing?
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Want to Improve Your Creative Writing?

Seeking to improve your creative writing?

Are you looking to improve your ability to write creatively? Perhaps the creativity is no problem but you would like to improve the quality of your writing. There is more than one way to do this.

If you prefer to meet with people in person and can, you can try writer’s groups and semi public forums. The most important features of such groups, which are also often free or very inexpensive, is that a person can get feedback and some social contact.

The other main way for amateurs to work at improving their craft is to take classes. This can be done in person or you can use online creative writing courses. If English is not your native language there may be special ESL (English as a Second Language) courses that you can use. You may have to turn to more community education in order to be able get the level and type of instructional assistance that you need.

There are also ways to work at improving your creative writing skills when ‘by yourself’ and to differing degrees of interactivity.

As mentioned above, there are online creative writing courses. There are also online writer’s groups. OpenSim and Skype calls are two examples of how groups can meet in real time. Twitter runs LitChat and SciFi Chat at set times. There are limits to those but they are there.

Reading is actually one great way to work on one’s creative writing, but one has to use a bit of caution regarding what one takes in. Popularity, and excellence bring up the issue of what is literature and how does literature differ from and figure into creative writing in general, especially popular writing that sells well.

Another way to work on improving one’s creative writing is to just write and then let it sit. After it sits for a bit, read it again. In many cases upon re-reading one will discover either that one is happy with it or that there are numerous obvious correctible mistakes.

Finally, and this is especially applicable for those who are or who would like to turn pro, a great way to get feedback about your writing is to submit it to publications. It may be best to start with a publication that you have been a consumer of – the newspaper you’ve been reading for years. They will let you know if they will publish it or not.

 

How to write characters in fiction

Fiction Writing

Fiction writing is actually a broad category and can apply to TV, radio shows, short fiction, novellas, and of course novels. Plays and screenplays both also involve creating characters. In this article we will take a quick look at what is involved in creating good characters in your work of fiction.

Characterisation

When any of us read excellent fiction, the characters always stand out. Once you look, you will notice that they have enough depth to hold our interest, but are really held together by being exemplars of just a handful of traits. From a personal perspective, I find this easy to relate to because of how much I create my own images or senses of what other real people are like in a similar manner. I know there is greater depth and more detail to each of us, but often a few things are enough.

In creating characters for fiction, realize that the plot and the characters need to go together. If they don’t, you will get quite a bizarre tale or the story won’t go well because your characters are forced to act out of character much of the time in order to drive the plot forward.

Motives

What motivates your characters? Knowing any major life motive can help create the right kind of person for your story. A character may be most motivated by love or by sexual desire, or by money. One might have an intense personal passion and interest. One could be out for revenge or out to save the world. Of course, the lack of motive or unknown motives can be an intentional means of making a mysterious character.

The life motivations and what is driving the character through the story may be different. For example, one could easily have a sexually motivated life motivated character who is driven by the desire to rescue a damsel in distress while working as a police officer in a mystery novel. One could have an artist, motivated to achieve heights of personal self-expression over all but within the story line is motivated by her romantic desires in a romance novel.

Looks

Especially from the movies and television, people are somewhat conditioned about who we see and what we think. How people present themselves for work life and through other means also influence us. So do personal experience and personal preferences. In this case, personal experience includes other stories we have read or watched as plays or TV or film or even know from songs.

Making characters that look right may well come naturally. If you are a new writer, writer’s groups can be a great place to get feedback about what your own characters are like, including the question of whether or not they look right for the part.

As a writer, you have the choice to be intentionally conventional or intentionally unconventional. In reality, for most writers, leave the unconventional until after your career is established.

Tall dark and handsome still means something, but whether dark obviously means a black man or if it means a white man with dark swarthy hair depends. The characters need to fit the environment and the story line.

Other Traits

Your characters may well have professions. Whenever there is a good job match between a person and their profession, the job is a great way to showcase the identity of the character. A character that does not have a good job fit, and is not well represented by their profession may need to be shown to express that somehow – as a hobby or through volunteer work or some other means, or to have some difficulty with the job. A little dialog in bits and pieces might show the person’s colleagues expressing the ill-fitting nature of the job or that something about the person or situation is peculiar or even wrong.

Other qualities that may not be too difficult to express in written fiction: savvy, fear, courage timidity, enthusiasm, unforgiving, kind, impatient, persistent, inconsistent.

Intimacy

The relationship between characterization and plot is so intimate because what your characters do in response to each event is determined by who they are. As simplistic as it sounds it is that the plot of a story and the characters are interdependent.

Dialog within a story is a great way to give your characters more opportunities to express their identities to the readers while also driving the plot of the story forward.

Any other form of intimacy that occurs within the story can be used to reveal the character of the characters – silly as that sounds.

Of course, the secrecy and uncertainty people have about who other people really are is often used in writing. In many mysteries and thrillers the villain is someone who, on the surface, does not appear to be of the same character that he or she really is. In comic book hero stories, the villain is often open and well known for who he or she really is.

Characteristation

Integral to every written work of art involving people and an active story line are characters. The art of creating and portraying characters through the written word is an important part of being a writer and of every story. Some of it may come naturally, but a lot of it can also be learned. Just remember that your plot and your characters need each other.

To see how I did it in an urban novel, just click on the link : The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead

Gezka FaucMerz and Kiel Bronson – fictional characters 2014

Gezka FaucMerz, still living as a Captain in the Rejkyavikian Naav thousands of years in our future, or maybe just in alternate universe or both…Icelandic victories against their own corrupt bankers notwithstanding….has finally made it into her life ….being a fiction character nothing happened until the next story that includes her began to take shape.

Despite a variety of difficulties, she is able to reunite in her professional and personal relationship with Kiel Bronson. Kiel does not like what she has dragged him into, but is grateful for the help getting him out of a lengthy punishment explained in their first novel.

Location is everything some say: Gezka’s home base is right around 32Light Years from our Sun, whereas Kiel’s original home is here on planet Earth in the very solar system readers will recognize as where they woke up to find themselves again today – unless they are up in the space station.

The story is set, so far, in the exciting but dirty work of the rough draft of the next novel, in more than one location but mainly from 28 to 31 Light Years from planet Earth’s Sun. Kiel went so far out even Hippies heads are spinning, “laugh out loud”.

Writer’s Advice – mixed bag February 2014

There is a lot of advice out there for amateurs and for those aspiring to be professionals. It does seem to be true that when the successful are polled although they did all have to write well and make the right connections the ways that people connected the dots, so to speak, is not the same. It seems the individuality does have a real influence on the best methods for how someone can find their own greatest success.

For those really just looking for a steady job there are ways to do that as a writer but the whole approach and ambiance may be different from that of ‘the writer as artist’ or ‘big, huge star author’. The most published writers are often the journalists, advertising writers. The other mos published do so as part of their daily jobs that may make some writers uneasy. As previously mentioned: grant proposal writers and people working corporate documentation.

Other prestigious positions as writers, are the academic realm and in the arts.

Nonfiction books often sell more easily than fiction although passionate readers of fiction may find that hard to believe.