How to Revise Your #NaNo Masterpiece #amwriting (last day to sign up)

Right now you’re thinking one (or both) of two things:

  1. Hang on, if it’s such a masterpiece, why would you need to revise it?
  2. If I have to revise it, why would you call it a masterpiece?

Well, dudes, both are true.

unpolished diamondI’ll start with #2 first, just to make sure you’re paying attention.

If you finished a novel, or even if you got 50,000 words down during November, you’ve created something amazing. For some of you it was your first novel or first finished writing piece. So whatever you accomplished is a masterpiece.

Now for #1

Think of diamonds. Most first draft novels are like a lump of sparkly gray rock, and it needs some major cutting to be ready to show the world. Some manuscripts, especially for experienced writers, just need a little polish.

But chances are your book needs some major renovations.

That’s the difference between editing and revising. (Even if you’ve already read my post about that, go back and read it again. The distinctions are significant and make the difference between a good book and a great book.

I used to absolutely detest, abhor, loathe, despise (fill in thesaurus gem of your own) rewriting and revising. I’d put some cosmetic touches, get rid of half the “thats” and call it done. But the more I write, the more I have discovered that it takes 2-3 passes on a novel before you can add in all the layers and nuance, and develop the subplots or tweak them so they better support the theme and main plot line. Whenever I have taken the additional step for a thoughtful rewrite/revision, I have made the book infinitely better.

Even if you spent a long time planning (and I guarantee most of you did not….) you will benefit from putting in some more work before you toss this puppy out onto Kindle.

So it should come as no surprise that even a solid NaNo effort can benefit from some thoughtful revision of the structural elements like character, theme, etc.

So, how do you go about this?

Give yourself and your writing career a holiday gift!

HTRYN-FLAT-Course-Advert-300In the past I have taught some revision seminars, but this year I have too many irons in the fire. In fact, I didn’t even participate in NaNo, which was so painful, since I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter (and winner!) for years. In fact NaNo has been a huge inspiration for me every year, even after I became a full-time writer.

If you’ve read more than a couple of my posts about planning and writing a novel or you used my book How to Be a NaNoWriMo Winner, it will be no surprise that Holly Lisle has been a huge influence on my writing. She’s also a goddess when it comes to revision. She teaches an amazing in-depth online class (How to Revise Your Novel) that forces you to pick apart your book (yes, it can feel like chopping up the baby), but the dissection and analysis will make the book a much better book.

 

“When Even The Pros Crash And Burn While Rewriting Their Books,
How Are YOU Supposed To
Get Revision Right?”

You will feel like a real writer as you go through the lessons. I know you already wrote a novel, so what do I mean? You’ll look at your story at so many more levels than you would otherwise. Once you learn these techniques, you will start to apply them to writing, so you have less to do to revise a future piece.

HollysWritingClasses-2015-Logo-200x200-FLATSo, the shortcut to revising is to take Holly’s wonderful class rather than trying to do it yourself, or picking apart beta reader comments. You will never get better advice about rewriting a story than when you apply tried-and-true techniques to what you already know you want to achieve in a story. Plus you will get advice and support from other people in the class on whether you’re on the right track. You’ll also get feedback from Holly, which is priceless!

For full disclosure, I am one of Holly’s affiliate partners. But that’s only because I have taken her classes in the past and can honestly recommend her as a teacher and can offer genuine raves on her techniques.

In fact, this time around I’m going to join in again and work on a book that’s been gathering dust, unloved and untouched in a corner. By the end of the class I’ll have a real masterpiece, and so will you!

 

Find out all the good stuff from Holly about what she’ll be teaching and how to SIGN UP!

Also, feel free to ask me questions along the way as well!

If you don’t decide to take the course, I highly recommend any of her other courses or books. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn. If you put even one or two techniques into each of your future projects, you’ll find your writing (and your reviews and sales) improving with every new release.

This is going to be so much FUN.

So Here’s Holly’s GuaranteeSatisfaction Guaranteed

  • Every single lesson of this course will be worth your time, will help you reach your writing goals, and will get you closer to writing the books you want to write, rather than the books you just end up with.
  • You will have every resource you need to understand what’s going on, and to understand what you need to do each step of the way.
  • If at any point during the first four months of the course, you are dissatisfied with what you’re learning, contact Holly at Student Support (the HELP DESK on every page of your classroom) and let her know you want to quit, and tell her you want a refund on your last lesson. If you had more lessons due that month, she’ll include a pro rata refund for the lessons you didn’t receive that month as well. (Don’t worry. Every student has direct access to Holly. No intermediaries. No run-around.)
  • She’ll give you your lesson refund, no questions asked, and cancel your course immediately so you won’t be charged again.
  • You’ll have one full week to decide on any lesson you receive, right up to the day and time your next lesson appears in your classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NaNoWriMo at the 10k mark — Assess your villain

nanocrestIt’s November 6. Just past the 20% mark for the month.

How are you doing?

If you’re getting in your 1667 words per day, you should have hit 10,000 words yesterday.

Maybe you haven’t quite gotten there. I give you a huge congratulations if you have written anything!

For some of you, this may be the first time you’ve gotten a lot of words down in a concerted effort. For others this is old hat.

tenk_earnedLet’s take a step back and see what we’ve written and what we’re planning over the next few days.

How Bad is Your Big Bad?

For a story to keep readers reading, it needs a constant level of tension, conflict or worry. What’s going to happen? Will the hero avoid disaster? Will he achieve his goal? Will the right two people get together?

If your story doesn’t have you excited to write what’s next, chances are the reader isn’t going to be on the edge of his seat to turn the page (or screen) either.

Let’s take a look at the villain or opponent.

If he/she/it isn’t a big enough concern, then let’s find a way to make it bigger and badder.

4 Elements Every Opponent MUST Have

scaredIt has to be bigger and badder than your hero.

The hero and the reader should constantly be afraid of this opponent. If not, then there’s not much tension. Of course, readers are going to know your hero wins in the end, but you need to make that hero work for that win.

The opponent must hurt the hero or someone/something he loves

The opponent has to make his life hell in the meantime. Whether it’s physical pain or emotional pain, the opponent must have the power to inflict it and you must show this in the story. The pain or damage must escalate up to the final battle/conflict scene where it’s do or die.

The stakes must be high

If your hero’s goal is wimpy, the reader isn’t going to be engaged while he fights for it. Make sure the consequences of not getting the goal or high.

Death should be a real and overwhelming possibility. Whether it’s physical or emotional death, make it seem real to the characters and the reader.

The opponent must believe he is right or justified in his pursuit of the goal or hero

Unless you’re writing a James Bond novel, the opponent has to have a goal that can be justified to the point where the reader might believe it too. Making your opponent some psycho with no reason for his behavior isn’t something the reader can get behind and feel some inner conflict.

Of course, you don’t want the reader on the villain’s side, but if the villain’s goal is so outrageous, your reader is not going to necessarily believe the worst will actually happen. Give the opponent a goal and an appropriate motivation.

Now take a look at what you’ve written and what you’ve got planned for future scenes. Take a look at your character sheets, including your opponent sheet. (If you don’t have an opponent sheet, make one today!)

Don’t forget, you can download my free story and character planning worksheets, invaluable for creating rich, layered characters and conflicts.

Ask yourself these questions:

sad-writerWhat are the stakes here? What kind of death does that opponent threaten? Loss of a loved one, a job, his own death, a planet dies or explodes…

You get the idea. If your hero isn’t concerned about some type of death, find something to scare him with. Right now. Write it on a Post-it.

  • Joe’s biggest fear is that Henry is going to kill him.
  • Fred’s biggest fear is that Rachel is going to get the promotion and ruin his career.
  • Senator Nolan is afraid of losing the election to his opponent who will put forward terrible legislation.

What’s the worst thing that will happen if the opponent wins?

Can the opponent actually achieve these things and how?

Make some of those fears come close to happening. Give the hero a few close shaves. His car is run off the road. The senator’s opponent runs a negative campaign full of lies. The boss gives Rachel an important project while Fred has to deal with some BS.

How will he hurt the hero or his loved ones in the process? Make a list. Really. Write them down and place them in the story, whether it’s your outline or scene list.

 

What is driving the opponent?

Revenge, money, love? All those familiar motivations for crimes and misdeeds. Pick one.

If you don’t have a character sheet for the opponent, make one right now. Even if it’s an organization or nebulous concept. Ideally, you should know your villain as well as you know  the hero. Why? Because you need for the hero to know and fear the villain for his own legitimate and overwhelming reasons.

Give your opponent a backstory and dig into not only his goal and motivation, but how far he’ll go to achieve it. Who or what will he destroy? Why does he do it? How would he explain it if Anderson Cooper interviewed him? Why is the hero in his way? How will he get around the hero?

An opponent who has his own strengths and weaknesses can make a more complicated and interesting story. What if the opponent is the hero’s childhood friend? What if he wants the exact same thing the hero wants? What inner conflict can the villain cause for the hero? Would the hero ever want the other guy to win? If you’re writing a romance, you may have the hero doubt himself when he compares himself with a rival.

All of these techniques add layers to the opponent, the hero, and to the conflict between them. They will keep readers reading. They will also add many new ideas for scenes for you to write!

 

If you cannot answer those questions, then sit down for a while until you can.

Unless your opponent or his actions are an overwhelming and constantly overhanging fear, there’s not enough for the hero to worry about.

If you already have answers to all of those questions, ask yourself:

How can I make it even worse, scarier, more likely?

Bump up the stakes and you’ll keep the hero and the reader constantly worried, which moves the story forward and drags the reader right along with it.

Get more NaNoWriMo tips in How to Be a NaNoWriMo winner!

 

Maseratis and military men, oh my! with Kerry Adrienne #military #surrenderbundle

cover_smaller

One Maserati brings Parker and Blake together, but will Blake slow down and discover the important things aren’t in the fast lane?

Here’s another tempting excerpt from the upcoming Unconditional Surrender Military Bundle coming your way in October. 13 novellas by your favorite M/M authors for just 99 cents.

Don’t forget you can pre-order it! Amazon (also available in UK, CA, FR, DE, JP, AU, and just about everywhere), All Romance Ebooks, B&N

Enjoy a sneak peek at “Cruise Control” by Kerry Adrienne. I can’t wait to read the whole thing. Fast cars and fast men? I’m hooked!

 

 

 

Excerpt:

14maserati-quattro-blog480The passenger door opened and a man’s deep voice rang out, “You won’t touch it.” The man stepped out of the truck. “Unless I am directing you. Clear?”

Parker licked his lips, Maserati forgotten. Maybe if the porn magazines had men like this specimen, he’d have at least peeked. Tall and muscular, the man seemed to have stepped off the pages of his imagination.

“Did you hear me?” The man put his hands on his hips.

Parker nodded and took a wobbly step. A Maserati and a hot man? More excitement than he’d seen on a Friday night since he’d been home. Maybe ever.

The man smiled, and Parker flushed. A moment later, the smile was gone and the man was all business.

“Blake Best.” He stuck out his hand. “This is my car, Leon.”

Parker took Blake’s large hand and held on while the other man shook for both of them. He looked into Blake’s blue eyes, or were they brown? He couldn’t tell in the half-light, but whatever their color, they were framed by gorgeous dark lashes matching Blake’s cropped, dark hair.

“P-Parker Monteith.”

“Good to meet you.” Blake squeezed his hand. “I’m making it clear up front. You don’t touch my car unless I say so.”

“Hey, I gotta get to another call,” the tow truck driver yelled. “Let’s get this showboat off my truck.” He pushed a button and the truck bed squealed lower.

Parker looked down. He was still holding Blake’s hand. He pulled away and cleared his throat. “Help get this car into the garage so I can take a look.”

Blake headed to the truck bed and Parker followed. Parker couldn’t help but watch Blake’s ass. Clad in thick jeans, it was difficult to tell exactly how firm it was or its exact shape, but damn, it was the first exciting ass he’d seen in forever.

“Be careful, that’s my baby,” Blake called.

“Huh?” Parker’s face flamed, and then he realized the man was talking about the car. Oh my God, the car. It sat, or did it float, on the truck bed, a vision in creamy white with dark shadows spiraling along its side. It’s black top was closed, but Parker knew exactly what the car looked like with the top down. He stuck his hands in his pockets.

Yeah, it was just a car, but oh, what a car it was.

“Stand back!” The tow truck driver unlatched the last of the wheel lashings and pushed the button to extend the winch.

Blake turned toward Parker. “I can’t watch.”

“He knows what he’s doing.”

A loud screech sounded. Blake cringed and whirled toward the tow truck driver.

“What in the hell?”

“Calm down. Your precious car is fine.” The driver lowered the front end of the car then released the winch.

They pushed the car into the garage without a problem, though Blake insisted they wear cotton gloves, which he provided from the trunk. In the stark garage lights, the white car appeared even brighter, like a gleaming star, lit from within. Blake fussed over the car, running his hand along the body and cupping the headlight and squeezing.

“Sign for it.” The tow truck driver shoved his clipboard under Parker’s nose.

Parker signed for receipt of the car and the driver capped his pen and stuck it back in his pocket.

“He’s your problem now.”

Parker gathered he wasn’t talking about the car.

LINK TO Kerry Adrienne

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Amnesia, kidnapping and Cinderella stories: Romance Tropes We Love & Hate #amreading #gayromance

a518246007f3659f7abe15dda670d583I’m going to confess something to you today: I would rather re-read The Hunt for Red October than just about anything on the romance best-seller lists. (It’s why you’ll often find a action/mystery/suspense element in my stories.)

Since I write gay romance for a living, it may surprise you to hear (or read) that I never really liked reading romances. While my friends were all devouring their Harlequins and bodice rippers, I was drawn to stories of espionage, whodunits, action/adventure, and the typical Book of the Month. My parents were voracious readers and my dad was a huge fan of spies and mysteries, so I tended to pull books off the shelves in our “library” – the basement had floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases that were overflowing.

I didn’t much enjoy the few romances I read and generally looked down on the entire genre. The only romances I read were the ones written by Karen Harper because she was my high-school English teacher. We all read them for the smutty parts so we could see what we thought Mrs. Harper liked. (BTW, this is one reason I won’t write female sex scenes!)

I particularly love his name: McMullet. Very appropriate.

But looking back as a writer, I realize it wasn’t the stories I didn’t like, it was the characters. I simply couldn’t identify with most of the heroines. It wasn’t until a friend turned me on to gay romances, that I started enjoying them. While I might not identify with either main character, I could enjoy reading about their attempts to find love.

Of course, there are certain types of stories I enjoy more than others. There have been discussions about how m/f romances differ from m/m romances, and I’m not going to enter that discussion directly. But looking at lists of the most popular romance tropes, there are some that we don’t often see in stories with gay characters.

But as times are changing, the marriage-of-convenience stories will start to feel more realistic. I happen to love that trope. I enjoy anything that throws people together, especially when they don’t like each other or they are opposites in many ways (affluence, job type, etc.).

6833671

This was my high-school English teacher’s first novel. We all read it!

Enemies-to-lovers gets my attention far more quickly than friends-to-lovers, as a reader and as a writer. It’s fun for me to create characters who might belong together at an emotional level, but external forces make them enemies or adversaries. Peeling away the layers to get to the heart and soul is a delicate process, bur rewarding for the characters, and me as a reader or writer.

I also adore kidnapping stories like pirates or harems. If you can rec me some good ones, I’d be very happy!

Reflecting on these issues made me curious about what tropes you enjoy reading in gay romance.

I realized that I’ve actually combined several into one book, without any conscious decision to do so!

Snow Job is geek+jock and stranded together (at Christmas!)

Hostile Takeover is friends to lovers to enemies to lovers, and business rivals

Rarer Than Rubies is enemies-to-lovers with some mistaken identity (plus action and suspense!)

Out of the Gate has job differences and out for you.

And for fans of childhood-friends to lovers and reunions you’ll love Lighting the Way Home, which I co-wrote with Shira Anthony!

I know there are more from my own titles, but those leap out at me.

Your Turn

Please:

  • Vote in the polls
  • Comment about which tropes you would like to see more in gay romances
  • Rec me a good m/m kidnapping/pirate/harem story
  • I’ll give away an e-book from my backlist to a randomly selected commenter on Friday 5 September.



Which tropes do you least enjoy?

Unconditional Surrender: Starting Down an Untrodden Path

 

We’ve all got places in our lives where we feel comfortable. Maybe because it’s familiar or because we have some kind of aptitude or control. It could be a place, such as your home or even your favorite room in the house. For some it’s their work environment or while playing a sport. We also have neutral places where we’re not comfortable, but not uncomfortable.

And then there are those places where we’re a little unsure of how things will turn out. This definitely happens when trying something new, whether it’s a new job, a date with someone new, or even trying a new restaurant.

So, back in May when Cat Grant invited me to be part of her military anthology Unconditional Surrender, I was very excited. Of course I wanted to be in an anthology with Cat and L.A. Witt! I didn’t think much about precisely what that would entail until I started planning my story.

Then panic set in. I was in one of those unknown zones.

[box type=”bio”] Who out there likes to read military stories? Is it because you’re connected to the military? I’m really curious. Since this is something new for me, I have no clue how many of my readers will want to read Unconditional Surrender.[/box]

Our gorgeous cover by LC Chase.

Our gorgeous cover by LC Chase.

I realized I’d never written a military story before and that it wasn’t going to be as easy as my contemporaries or even my Precious Gems mystery/suspense. Military writing is a whole new world for me. I had to do research before I could choose a story line. It’s easy to think of photos of sexy soldiers, but I wanted to write something more authentic.

While my Precious Gems character Reed Acton is a former Army Ranger, I really didn’t know very much about what that entailed beyond some basic reading, because it hadn’t been necessary for his stories. But since I had some small familiarity with that, I settled on writing about a Ranger.

That was the easy part.

 

To find a reasonable story line I would need to know more about the active duty military, deployment, and the war in Afghanistan. Not to mention becoming familiar with military slang.

 

My family includes many people who have served in the military. My mom was in the Army, as was my uncle, my grandfather, and most of my great-uncles. None of these people told stories about their wars, at least not to me, and most of them have passed. The one story I recall is that one of my great-aunts worked in the same building as General MacArthur in Tokyo, and she smashed her car into his jeep one day—her first day on the job. And yes, he was in it at the time.

 

So I had to do this myself.

 

Army Ranger School

Army Ranger School

I started by watching films like Black Hawk Down and Restrepo, and the Generation Kill series. (I really love Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime). I’ve also been reading books written by Marines, SEALs, and soldiers, to get an idea of day-to-day situations. So far, I haven’t found a book by an Army Ranger about Afghanistan. I guess they don’t feel the need to tell their stories.

 

It’s been incredibly eye-opening. Since I don’t personally know anyone who’s been deployed I had been very insulated from the wars our troops have been fighting for the past 13 years. Until now I didn’t have much idea of what it was like to go through boot camp, Army Ranger School, get deployed, or be shot at. I can’t say I know how these men feel beyond what they’ve said in books, but mostly what I’ve discovered is that people sitting at home watching TV don’t have a clue what these guys (and women) are going through.

 

Rangers in Afghanistan

Rangers in Afghanistan

I’m kind of embarrassed that without needing to do research for a story I would never have learned what I have about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

I’ll share more of my observations and tell a little about my story “Irresistible Forces” later on.

 

 

 

 

4 Last-minute tax tips for writers #taxes #author

4 Last-minute tax tips for writers #taxes #author

Panicking because you aren’t ready for today’s tax deadline? Here are some last-minute tips to make the process a little less painful. To get all the deductions you deserve and plenty of tax planning and prep advice, check out EM Lynley’s book Tax Tips for Authors.

If you try to rush through a Schedule C in a day or two, I guarantee you will miss deductions and end up paying more tax than you really owe, especially if this is the first or even the second year you are filing a Schedule C as a writer. There are a lot of specialized deductions you may not know about, and it’s worth the effort to keep good records and allow enough time to properly prepare your tax return.

Also see 5 Things Authors Miss on Their Tax Returns

1. Didn’t get organized in time? File an extension. If you haven’t got your expenses tallied in time to get all the deductions on your Schedule C, don’t worry. You can file an extension that gives you until October 15 to file your return: another six months to get your act together. Most tax software has an extension option, or you can go to the IRS website and download the PDF at the link below. Fill it in and mail it to be postmarked by April 15.

The caveat here is that the IRS expects you to pay what you owe now, even if you haven’t completely figured it out! If you have a refund coming, don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything. But if you have a balance due, or you aren’t sure, make sure that between withholding and other tax payments that you pay as much as your tax liability from LAST year. Then you won’t get an IRS penalty. You may owe interest on the difference, but it’s far less than the penalty for under-withholding during the year and not paying anything by April 15.

Form 4868 Extension Request

Tax liability is on Line 61 of Form 1040 for last year.

2. Owe money to the IRS and you can’t pay it by April 15? That’s not as big a problem as it sounds. Go ahead and file your return on time, and send what you can afford now, even if it’s just $10. The IRS is happy to send you a bill for the remainder, and that letter will have instructions for setting up a payment plan. You can take up to 5 years to pay any balance due, at a monthly payment that’s affordable for you, as low as $30 or $50 a month.

Remember: the penalty for NOT filing is 5% of the balance due per month, up to a maximum of 25% of the amount you owe. But the penalty for paying late is only 0.5% per month, just one-tenth of that amount. File, then figure out how to pay later and you will save yourself a lot of money and a lot of stress.

3. Realized you forgot to claim something after you filed, or are you missing a vital receipt for a deduction? Not a problem. You can file an amended return up to three years after the due date. For 2013 returns you have until April 15, 2017 to correct anything you forgot to deduct. You’ll file a Form 1040X (Amended Return) for the specific year you need to correct, after you’ve redone your return with all the deductions you are entitled to.

4. Want to reduce your 2013 tax liability? The only way to fix what you owe for 2013 now is to put some money in a traditional IRA account by April 15. You can deduct up to $5,000 of traditional IRA contributions, depending on your income level and whether you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at your day job. Roth IRAs aren’t deductible. They are made with post-tax dollars, so they’re completely tax free when you take the money out in retirement.

NOTE: IRA contributions only reduce your income tax liability, not your self-employment tax liability.

Get more useful tax prep and planning advice in my book Tax Tips for Authors. It will help you get all your deductions for 2013 and get organized in advance for 2014 tax filing, with lots of essential bookkeeping advice.

(Available from Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Smashwords and AllRomance/OmniLit and in print)

Want even more information? Sign up for my Tax Tips Newsletter, or visit the Tax Tips for Authors website. Best of all, pick up a copy of my book Tax Tips for Authors 2014. It’s got new information for filing 2013 returns, a Schedule C walkthrough, chapters on self-employment taxes and quarterly payments, and a whole lot more.

Available from Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Smashwords and AllRomance/OmniLit and in print

 

EM Lynley is a former investment analyst and White House economist. For the past five years she has been much happier writing erotic romance. She loves books where the hero gets the guy and the loving is 11 on a scale of 10. Her Precious Gems series is best described as “Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone”—only gayer. The Delectable series is Gay Romance with Taste. Her books are available in print and e-book from Amazon & other book distributors.

 

Visit EM online Website Blog FacebookTwitter

 

Pacing Your Novel 1: The Right Mix of Tortoise and Hare

Creative Commons License. Source GRANDVILLE Jean, illustration from the 1855 edition of La Fontaine's Fables

Creative Commons License. Source GRANDVILLE Jean, illustration from the 1855 edition of La Fontaine’s Fables

 

In my survey of your biggest rewriting challenges, many of you indicated pacing of your story among the most difficult.

 

What is Pacing?

Pacing refers to how slowly or quickly time passes in the story: the pace of time’s passage.

It’s important to realize that pacing is not constant over the course of a story or novel. You may want to speed up time in some places or slow it down in others. The first challenge is knowing where to do so. The second challenge is showing the correct pacing.

 

Fast Pacing

You’ve certainly read a book that kept you glued to the page, barely able to turn pages fast enough to keep up with the action. Some authors keep the frenetic pacing across chapters so you can barely find a place to breathe, take a break or relax.

If you’re writing an action/thriller that’s all well and good, but fast pacing doesn’t give you much time to analyze the thoughts, feelings or reactions of your characters. Fast pacing focuses on a rapid-fire series of events. It’s all about the action.

 

Slow Pacing

You’ve also read books were it seems nothing ever happens. The characters wander through the story having feelings, emotions and inner monologues. You know them extremely well, but they don’t do anything.

Of if the characters are doing something, the POV character spends so much time analyzing every single motion, every grain of sand on the beach or every polka dot on someone’s dress, that the details may overwhelm the action.

Slow pacing lets you explore characterization, emotions and reactions. It also lets you include more setting and description.
[box type=”bio”]

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

The Right Mix

Very few stories are all action or all reaction and description. A well-paced story includes sections of both fast- and slow-paced scenes. How do you choose which scenes should be fast, and which slow?

Let’s separate scenes into two kinds: action and reaction. Some writers call these scene and sequel. The first type is faster-paced, full of action and moves the plot of the story along. The sequel or reaction is a slower-paced scene that allows your characters to reflect or react to the previous action or plot development. In such scenes, you can take more time with thoughts and emotions.

Think about a roller coaster. It inches up the first hill, giving you time to anticipate the thrill of that first big hill. The contrast between the slow and the fast sections of the ride–or your story–will add to the reader’s enjoyment. For example you may find that slowing the pace down just before a big scene will add to the suspense and to the effect of the action or revelation in the big scene.

How to Speed the Pace

Use punctuation and sentence structure to increase the pace of the action. Shorter sentences, fewer details and more dialogue can convey a fast pace. Watch that you don’t use too many short or one-word sentences. Vary the sentence style and length or you can over do the speed and lose some clarity.

“What was that?”

“A car back–”

Bang!

“That was not a car.”

“Tom, someone’s shooting at us!”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her down, away from the window.

“Call the cops, Mary. Now.” Tom let go and raced toward the door. His heart pounded.

 

There’s not much description here, but you get the idea of what’s going on pretty well without it.

 

How to Slow the Pace

 

When you use longer sentences, more complex sentences, emotion and reactions, you will slow the pace down. Let’s revisit the scene above where Tom left Mary after they heard shots outside the house.

 

Mary watched Tom go out the back door. Who was shooting at them and why? What had Tom gotten himself into this time around? Since he’d quite the force and set up shop as a private investigator, it had been one problem after another. At this point, Mary was never sure whether he’d come home each evening. She lay awake every night wondering whether she’d get a call or a knock at the door to let her know he wouldn’t be coming home again. Ever.

Two more shots rang out and echoed around the room. Tom had flipped the lights off as he left and Mary sat on the floor near the window in the dark, cold from the tiled floor seeping into her body and leaving her shivering with fear and dread. Her fingers trembled as she played with the hem of her dress. She bit her lip until she tasted blood.

 

Making Choices

Have you read a story where you knew more about what kind of wallpaper there was in the character’s kitchen than you did about how she felt when her husband left her? What about a story that seems to be a list of everything the character did from the moment she woke up until she fell asleep that night?

Another aspect of pacing involves deciding what scenes or actions you can leave out of a story. This will vary by genre, but in general it’s not necessary to include every movement and detail in a story and you don’t need to go completely linearly and chronologically.

You’ll want to be sure to include more details only if they 1) add to the story and 2) work for that particular character’s POV. You can absolutely bring in characterization by what details a character notices, and how he responds to them.

For example, if your MC is a police detective in pursuit of a speeding car, he’s not going to notice the landscaping of the houses they drive past, unless of course the fleeing suspect drives into the middle of a neighbor’s lawn and ends up in the fountain.

If someone’s dress or perfume or some other seemingly insignificant detail reminds your MC of a past event or brings out some characterization, then include them—sparingly.

 

He entered the house and the aroma of gingerbread made him feel like he was five years old again, walking into his grandmother’s kitchen.

 

You can and should skip any details—description or action—that doesn’t add to the story or characterization. When finishing a scene or chapter, ask yourself, what’s the next important thing that happens to this character? If it happens to be a day or a week later, then there’s no reason to include the intervening time frame—at least for him. If something important happens to another character, then include the scene, in that other character’s POV.

 

I’ll revisit the issue of pacing later, but I hope that this helps you make some important decisions about when to speed or slow the passage of time. Feel free to ask questions, or bring up specific examples where you’re not sure about how to pace a scene or chapter.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://www.emlynley.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/OutoftheGate_FBThumb.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] EM Lynley runs Smooth Draft Editing. She has worked in high-tech and high-finance and is now a full-time writer and editor. She has written and had published over 20 titles of fiction. Visit her Amazon Bookshelf. [/author_info] [/author]

11 Tips for Using Triberr More Effectively from @EMLynley

Recently, Triberr added some awesome new features, so I’ve updated my tips list to include those.

I’m not particularly hip to new social media sites: It took me a few years to even get a Facebook account, so when I first heard of Triberr I admit I ignored it. But author Kayelle Allen made me think twice about using the service. And I’m glad I did.

I’ve absolutely gotten more traffic to my blog since joining. I don’t know whether or not it’s boosted sales, but they can’t buy if they don’t see it, so I’m considering this a win.

(If you haven’t used Triberr, it’s a way to connect with other bloggers: you share links to their blog posts and they share links to yours, magnifying your reach. The bloggers are organized into “tribes” based on subject matter).

What’s not to like about that arrangement? Well, as I started working with it, I found ways to use it more efficiently and effectively.

 

1. Plan your sharing schedule with some care.

When you log into new posts you’re bombarded with pages of new posts to share (if you belong to enough tribes). It’s tempting to just approve a lot of posts and get out of there.

I filter the posts to my most important tribe, and then I share the ones from my friends or people who share a lot of my posts. I want to reward people who share mine and I want to help out my friends. I make sure these friends’ posts don’t end up going during the middle of the night.

Check for time-sensitive posts and approve those first. The bloggers will appreciate you.

Triberr now estimates how long it takes to read each post. I tend to favor the ones with higher reading times (4 min read over 0 min read) and I’m sure your twitter followers will too.

 

2. Use the “Affinity” setting, which displays posts from sharers first. This way you can repay a share with a share. You don’t have to look at all the stats to see who shared your stuff recently.

You have to TURN ON Affinity in the settings section.

Go to Account à Settings à Tribal Streamà

The last options is “Show posts from people who share your content on top?” Select YES.

Hit Save.

Now when you look at the stream, you will see “Affinity” below the sample blurb from each post at the top. You can still hover over the user’s icon to see their sharing/posting stats (mentioned below).

3. Manage how many approved posts you have

If you have your sharing setting for one post per hour and you share 40 posts, then it’s going to be 40 hours before the whole set gets shared. Some posts go in the middle of the night. And if you do the same thing the next day, some posts might not get shared for days. (One friend of mine had a 10-day lag on posts appearing, not useful if the post is time-sensitive such as for a contest or release date event).

Triberr limits you to 100 approved posts at a time, but if you do one an hour, that’s 4 full days’ worth of posts.  At 15-minute intervals, you’re down to a day.

I have mine set for 45 minutes between posts so I know approximately how long until a post goes live. I try to log into Triberr in the morning, so I can fill the day with posts.

 

4. Discover who your “friends” are with sharing stats

In the new layout, if you hover your cursor over the blogger’s icon on the “New Posts” screen, a stats section pops up showing how many posts they wrote that week, how many they shared and whether they shared your post.

triberrstats

Some bloggers post many times in a week and don’t share anything. No matter who they are, I ignore them. They aren’t playing by the rules so they don’t deserve exposure on my twitter feed. I’ve considered sending the freeloaders a message, since some people don’t really understand how to log in and share.

I reward people who share my posts. I also reward people who share lots of posts, even if it’s not mine. I figure sooner or later they’ll share mine.  However, when someone shares too many, consider the lag issue. I definitely check to make sure the person is sharing more than they are posting.

If a blogger posts once or twice a week, I’ll try to share all their posts. For a blogger who posts 10 times a week, I’ll share a few times.

 

5. Choose wisely: Facebook, Twitter, or both? (aka avoid overload)

At first I shared on both FB and twitter. Then I realized that when I shared on FB a lot of people thought they were clicking through to my blog. It also meant that any of my own links I shared got lost in the noise if I were to share the polite amount of posts each week on my FB wall.

Now I just share Triberr posts on Twitter. It’s a much more fleeting medium, and much higher-volume content anyway. My twitter followers still seem to find and click on my links even if I’m sharing Triberr posts too. One Triberr post every 45 minutes won’t overload these users the way it would on Facebook. (Remember point #2).

For friends and particularly great Triberr posts, I’ll manually share them on Facebook. See #5.

 

6. Use Manual Share to highlight specific posts (especially yours)

You can click the “manually share” link under the post. Icons for twitter, FB, etc., will appear. You choose to send just that post to FB. I do this for a select few posts. The post gets shared immediately.

triberrmanualshareYou can also re-post anything. Go to the “Approved Posts” or the “Sent Posts” tabs and re-approve a post and it will get shared again after everything else in the queue. You can also manually share from these pages to post immediately.

I also do this for all of my own posts. I can control when they show up this way and I can post in several different time zones to make sure international users see my posts too.

Manually sharing a post does not interrupt the regular schedule of posting from the queue of approved posts.

 

7. Put more care into your blog post titles and use the title edit option on Triberr

I’ll lump these under one point, though your blog post title is KEY in getting your post shared and clicked.  If it’s too generic, too vague or doesn’t mention your name it’s a lot less likely to get shared or be of much use to you as promo. It’s a fact of life.  When I see a title like “Super busy week!” I don’t think it’s going to have much value added for my followers. They probably think it’s about me, or they just don’t care about my week (or some total stranger’s). When I have to prioritize which posts I share I’m going for the ones with meaty, interesting titles. And those will interest your followers too.

See that little arrow icon next to the title of each post?Click it to edit the title.  I like to add the blogger’s name if there’s any chance my twitter followers might think it’s about me. This also helps your friends by putting their name directly on the posts.

Even better, you can edit YOUR post title, add hashtags, etc. to make it more twitter-friendly.  Some writers do this on their blogs already, but if you don’t want to, make sure to add relevant hashtags once the post gets imported into Triberr. Just go to “My Posts” and edit the title there.

 

8.  Leave comments on other people’s posts

Triberr is great in that it lets you preview the post right on the site without clicking away. And there’s a handy comment box. Leave a nice message about the blog post and you’ll find that people will return the favor, and perhaps be more likely to share your posts in the future.

It’s social media, and that means give and take. Be social with the other bloggers on Triberr. It will pay off.

 

9. Think twice about whether your fleeting thought is really worth a blog post

Now that lots more people are seeing (and hopefully sharing) your posts, consider making each one more thoughtful and useful to your audience.  You probably don’t want to be one of those people with 12 posts per week because they probably won’t all get shared.

If the topic is of great importance to your own followers, go ahead, and don’t worry about what the Triberr friends think. Which leads to the next point:

10. Don’t change your blogging style just for Triberr

Keep blogging for your own fans and followers. They should come first, whether or not Triberr members keep sharing your stuff. If you have a large following, Triberr won’t make a huge difference to you anyway. If you’re starting out and you don’t have a group of fans with specific expectations, then using Triberr to best advantage will mean something different for you.

11. Check your blog stats

Monitor which posts are most popular and which sites are referring them. If you have a hit, try something similar a week or two later to see if the topic, timing, title, etc., are the reason or if it was just the randomness of the internet.

Feel free to share your own tips for making Triberr easier or more effective.

If you enjoyed this, please tweet! and follow me on twitter @emlynley

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.emlynley.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/em-only-bent-con-hat.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]EM Lynley is a multi-published author of 9 novels and two dozen shorter works of fiction as well as How to Be a NaNoWriMo Winner. Her 2013 NaNo Novel Bound for Trouble has been contracted by Dreamspinner Press for a July 2014 publication date. She also runs Smooth Draft Editing, offering a range of services from proofreading to developmental editing and coaching for writers. Visit her Amazon Author page, or contact her at em@emlynley.com[/author_info] [/author]

How did #NaNoWriMo 2013 go for you? (poll)

If you got a contract or self-published, congratulations! Please leave a comment about where/when your book is coming out!

If you’re still working away at it, or have given up, this should be a great motivator to keep writing! Considering signing up for the Newsletter to get tips and information on how to finish and revise your novel.

 

 

Here’s another poll, about revising and rewriting

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.emlynley.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/em-only-bent-con-hat.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]EM Lynley is a multi-published author of 9 novels and two dozen shorter works of fiction as well as How to Be a NaNoWriMo Winner. Her 2013 NaNo Novel Bound for Trouble has been contracted by Dreamspinner Press for a July 2014 publication date. She also runs Smooth Draft Editing, offering a range of services from proofreading to developmental editing and coaching for writers. Visit her Amazon Author page, or contact her at em@emlynley.com[/author_info] [/author]