Posted in creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing tips

Open Doors and Plot Holes

Death_to_stock_Dinner_damo_8.jpgMaybe this only happens in my house, but unlike the picture above with nicely closed cabinet doors, I can walk into a room and, no kidding, there is almost always at least one drawer, cupboard door, or package of something or other left open. Usually, more than one. There have been times when I’ve walked into the kitchen and literally every cupboard door is standing open because someone was looking for something and, after finding it, walked away.

What does this have to do with plot holes?

Your readers are like one of my kids looking for the bag of chocolate chips they want to add to their spoon of peanut butter. They keep looking for the answers you’ve promised them, scouring every page, rereading when they think they might have missed something, or silently working out all possible endings when they’re forced to put down a book and pay attention to real life for a few hours.

Those times when all the cupboard doors are left open because they have to search that hard, it often results from one of two things:

1: They’ve opened every other door in the kitchen and are reaching for the last one, opening it slowly, only to find, the cupboard is bare and the answers you promised aren’t actually in the kitchen, or anywhere…and they walk away, annoyed and vowing to never read anything of yours again because, dang it, when you want a snack and can only find celery sticks that make your mouth itch, your definitely not going to take the time to clean up your mess.

OR

2: They reach for that last cupboard door, pull it open and – because you’ve done an impeccable job of filling in holes and stretching out your reveals – all those awesome answers come flooding out at the very end for your reader to gobble up as hungrily as my kids might those cookies I tried to hide from them, and abandon the kitchen in complete satisfaction…forgetting to close all the cupboard doors.

The point?

Little Blond GirlJust like when my kids (my daughter specifically) stomps away, annoyed I haven’t purchased sufficient snack-worthy foods, your readers will walk away when they finish a book unsatisfied because of questions you never answered if your book leaves them with option #1.

I’ve been teaching a self-editing class this semester, and one of the best tips for avoiding plot holes is to re-outline your novel or story as you do your first major edit.

Why?

Editing sucks, right? 90% of writers will agree with me on that, I’m pretty sure.

Outlines suck even more. Okay, maybe only other pansters will agree with me on that, but that’s got to be at least 50%, right?

You know what sucks more, though? Having a reader leave a nasty review…one that’s legit and calls you out on shortcuts you took or hints you failed to live up to.

During your first major outline, take the time to outline your book, taking note of all the hints you added in, the questions you posed, and the bits of backstory you teased your readers with.

Did you follow up on each and every one?

If not, you have two choices:

1: Nix it. If you never followed up because that particular tidbit simply didn’t pan out, remove it.

Questions2: Fill in where you neglected to follow through. Any questions you posed that pertain to that particular book (notice I’m not talking series-length questions) make sure you have an answer, or make it apparent that question will be answered in a subsequent book, if you’re working on a series.

Most readers have a Love/Hate relationship with valid cliffhangers.

ALL readers have a Hate/Hate relationship with lazy writing that leaves them questioning why they purchased a book.

Don’t let your readers down. Answer every question you ask, even the ones you might have forgotten about from those first few chapters when the concept of your story was still in flux. You’ll thank yourself later, and so will your readers. Nobody wants to end a book like Lost Season 6, trust me. Rants are still happening about that finale six years after the fact.

Posted in books

Stereotypes in Character Devlopment

What are Stereotypes and why should you be careful when using them?

StripedShirtWomanStereotypes

A character that is so ordinary or unoriginal that they seem like an oversimplified version of a person, class, gender, etc.

Why should you avoid this?

Stereotypes are rarely accurate. Not only can they be offensive, they make for poor characters because readers can guess exactly what they will think, do, say, or respond. That’s boring.

Straight stereotypes lack depth and are predictable. Readers immediately think they already know how their story will go because they feel like they have already met this character and read their story in a dozen other similar stories. Your goal as a writer is to surprise your readers with new and unique characters and stories.

Should you NEVER use a stereotype?

OSC quote stereotypesStereotypes develop for a reason

High school for example: there are jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, emos, skanks, etc.

  • At this age, being defined and having a “label” provides safety and confidence (“self” on some level)

Now think about the adult workplace: there are brown-nosers, slackers, workaholics, gossips, etc.

  • You have a wider variety of personalities, but there are always those few in nearly every workplace that fit “the mold”

How do you use this the right way?

Start with a level of stereotype to instantly familiarize readers with the character’s traits…then delve deeper, expand on what is on the surface. You still have to be careful with starting out an introduction with a stereotypical portrayal because it can turn readers off if they think all they are going to get is a stereotyped “blah” character, i.e. the handsome and charming billionaire out to sweep Miss Innocent off her feet.

Make it clear from the beginning that even if this character exhibits stereotypical behaviors, the reasons behind them are deep and layer, and there are consequences for the way the act or live. Hint at complexity so your readers are left wanting more and searching for the truth rather than sighing and thinking, “I’ve already read this a hundred times before.”

SURPRISE YOUR READERS

If you want to hear the full discussion now, listen to “Episode 5: Creating a Character with Depth” on #WritePublishRepeat Podcast.

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Posted in write publish repeat

Write. Publish. Repeat. is branching out to iTunes and Stitcher!

 WRITE. PUBLISH. REPEAT. Podcast is branching out to iTunes and Stitcher!

WPR Header ImageThis podcast is aimed sat helping writers with a wide variety of topics in writing, publishing, and marketing. It’s a mix of lecture-style podcasts using information taken from the curriculum of the classes I teach and conversations with other authors willing to share their advice and experiences.

So, if you’re interested in writing, the publishing industry, or learning how to market your books better, you’ve found the right place!

Either click on the WPR Logo to subscribe to the RSS feed or click the episode link to download the file to your device.

Subscribe to the RSS feed by clicking on the WPR image below or check out the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher:

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Episode 1: How to Write a Query Letter Without Going Completely Crazy

Episode 2: Query Letters and Social Media with guest SeriouslyGina

Episode 3: Creating a Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable – Part One

Episode 4: Creating a Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable – Part Two

Episode 5: Author Collaboration with Guest Melissa Eskue Ousley

Creative Commons License
WritePublishRepeat by DelSheree Gladden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://delshereegladden.com/writepublishrepeat/.

Posted in query letter, writing tips

Writing a Query Letter: Part 3

To find the first part of this series, Click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE. To listen to the full discussion on the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast, click HERE.

Paragraph Two of the Query Letter

9e9dd-largestackofbooksMini-Synopsis
Similar to the back cover summary
100-250 words

Expand on your hook
Explain more about your Main characters…
Problems/conflicts…
How adversity changes them…

Read back covers of other books for examples!

Paragraph Three: Bio

Brand new Author?
(You may want to skip this)

  • What to include?
    Is it meaningful to the query?
    Does it show personality?
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it writing related
  • Education
  • Work
  • Personal experience
  • Research

Publishing Credits/Awards

  • Awards
    • If you’ve won them…INCLUDE THEM
      Don’t be modest, but don’t go overboard

Publishing credits (BE SPECIFIC)
Journals
Online/trade magazines

Unpublished?
You don’t need to say

Academic or Nonfiction?
Shows you know the process

DON’T INCLUDE:
Church news letter, credits unrelated to professional writing

Self-Published: Include or Not Include?

  • Timing
    • It will be discussed eventually
  • Doesn’t hurt your chances
  • Be confident
  • Be ready discuss success/failure
  • Do you consider it a Mistake/Irrelevant
    • Leave it out
  • Does it make you a more desirable client?
    • Depends on success – mention sales numbers, length of time on sale
      • Success to some agents/pub = 5000 sales (per month…)

Open Blue BookWhat NOT to Mention

  • Social media presence/platform
    • UNLESS you have A LOT of followers
    • Agents will Google you anyway
  • Marketing Plan
  • Years of effort and dedication
  • Family/friends opinions
  • Past rejections/near misses
  • Apologize
  • Compliment your work
  • Discuss $$ your book will make

Thank You/Closing

  • Thank the agent/pub
  • Time & consideration
  • Alert agent/pub full manuscript is available upon request
  • Mention if your book is being considered by another agency
  • Series potential/written
  • Include contact information basics
  • Only offer exclusives for a short time period
  • Only compare your book to another in terms of style, voice, theme (Not $$)

Join me next week for a discussion on writing a great blurb for your query.


Listen to the full discussion now on my new podcast!

Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast: How to Write a Query Letter Without Going Completely Crazy

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Posted in write publish repeat

Write Publish Repeat has arrived!

It’s taken me way longer than planned (June was a busy month!) but I finally have the first episode of my new podcast published. Yay!!

Give it a listen and see what you think. I’d love your comments and feedback and suggestions on topics you’d like to see next.

Listen Here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/writepublishrepeat/WPR_Podcast_Episode_One_Query_Letter_Tips_Final.mp3

Download Here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/writepublishrepeat/WPR_Podcast_Episode_One_Query_Letter_Tips_Final.mp3

Subscribe Here: http://writepublishrepeat.libsyn.com/rss

(Coming Soon to iTunes!! As soon as I figure it out 😛 )
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Click on the link below to open the player.
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Posted in write publish repeat

Veturing into the world of Podcasting

I have been going back and forth lately about what platform I would like to focus on for helping other writers and have settled on podcasting!

I love listening to podcasts thanks to my husband introducing me to them and I like the flexibility and format and there will be an archive that is easy to access through iTunes and various other avenues.

Write. Publish. Repeat. will be launching soon!

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I’m still working on editing the first episode, but I hope to have it up and ready to go next week. The first episode will deal with one of the most frustrating aspects of publishing. The Query Letter.

Titled “How to write a query letter without going completely crazy” I’ll be discussing the basics of what a query letter is, the parts of a query letter, and tips for making yours stand out.

You can follow the podcast now and it will soon be available on iTunes as well!

FOLLOW HERE

Posted in writing, writing advice, writing tips

Creating a Protagonist With Depth: Part Five

If you haven’t read the first three part in the series, you can find Part One HERE, Part Two HERE, Part Three HERE and Part Four HERE.


Now let’s discuss how to make your characters fail in a way that makes them better.


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Failure

Just like nobody enjoys a perfect character, no one likes a character that always makes the right choices and succeeds
If your character always succeeds, where’s the tension, the worry that they might fail? Without that, readers get bored.
A story needs fear that the character will fail/die/be beaten in order to keep readers flipping pages.
Even if they think they know where the story is going, they want to find out how they’ll get there


 How do you make them fail? Rope 2

Look back at their list of faults and flaws. Which of those can you use to put them in a situation where making the right choice will be difficult?
In “What We Saw At Night” Allie doesn’t tell the police what she saw because she’s afraid of getting in trouble for being somewhere she shouldn’t.
Why was she out at night? Because she has a severe sun allergy and has started taking risks because she thinks she won’t live very long.


hand over mouthHow do you avoid nonsense failure?

Does it make sense in real life?
If some guy told you he was sneaking into your room to watch you sleep at night, you’d freak out. Bella, though, was totally cool with it, which has garnered criticism.
Would two parents ever actually split up twin girls and never let them see each other for their own selfish reasons like they did in The Parent Trap? I highly doubt it.
When helping characters make decisions, make sure there’s a good reason for what they choose. Lean on that backstory you crafted.
Do their fears influence them?
Have past hurts caused them to mistrust others when they shouldn’t?


What character failures have left an impression with you?