3 Top Tips, Creative Writing

Three Top Tips – How To Give Your Writing Appeal…

By Antonio Litterio

Last week, I told you that underestimating the intelligence of your audience is a bad idea. Whether they dropped out at 14 or if they’re looking at their doctorate in the rear-view mirror, everyone knows something about the human condition, even if their field of experience is only a narrow strip. If we’re talking of qualifications for writing or reading fiction, however fantastical the subject you need to germinate it from a grain of reality. Don’t give your landlord-evading private eye a Bugatti Veyron to drive, unless he’s stolen it. Even then, at 3 miles per gallon, he’d better take a Saturday job if the bailiffs aren’t going to be winching it onto a truck. And that’s before he’s paid for the insurance.

Aways do your research, but leave them wanting more. Drip feed information. Coax them to keep turning the pages by revealing only a little bit of what they want to know. Be a literary fan-dancer, but like the best burlesques, know how much to give, and when. Lead your reader up a blind alley or two, distract them with the occasional red herring but give them the pleasure of exposing the odd secret along the way as well. Don’t frustrate them too often, or for too long. When there are so many real-life distractions both on-and-off line, there’s a balancing act to be managed between suspense and revelation. Keep it fresh to keep them reading.
One cliche that no tip-sheet can avoid is “write what you know”. It works. You’re an expert on at least one thing – your own experiences. That’s a rich seam to mine, so get digging.  That doesn’t mean you should regurgitate your life story and nothing else ad nauseum, though. Did Shakespeare murder his wife over a pocket-handkerchief? Did Thomas Hardy hang children from clothes hooks? No, but they used their own experiences of human nature, jealousy and misery to colour their inventions. people are people the world over, and they’ve been like that down all the centuries. Powerful emotions  drove Cain to kill Abel and King David to send Uriah the Hittite away to war, and they’ve throbbed through the veins of thousands since then. Find your story, and make it speak to everyone.
I write both contemporary and historical fiction – when I’m not cooking, gardening or beekeeping. You can catch up with me on Twitter and Facebook, see a full list of my published books at http://www.christinahollis.com and get full details of my latest release, Jewel Under Siege, here.
3 Top Tips, Creative Writing, inspiration

Three Top Tips – Mind Games In Writing

By Antonio Litterio
It’s one thing to have a great idea and write about it, but what works for you may not work for other people. That doesn’t matter if you’re only writing for your own pleasure. If you’re aiming for publication, then you’ll have to get crafty. Think like a reader, and keep these three points in mind: 

CONVICTION: Whether you’re writing non-fiction or a novel, a short story or saga you’ve got to Believe in your work – note that capital B. Making up your mind to put your thoughts down on paper is a big decision. You may or may not be aiming to get published one day, but the more faith you have in your idea, the better your work will be. Spelling and grammar can always be tidied up with redrafts and revisions, but if your writing doesn’t have heart,  it hasn’t got a hope. 

CHALLENGE: Don’t do all the work for your readers. Add twists and turns to make them think. Give them clues, drip feed information and build tension, whether dramatic or sexual, all the time. Engage their interest, and they’ll keep reading. Strap them into an emotional roller-coaster, and push them out of their comfort zone. And challenge their beliefs and their assumptions by all means – just don’t challenge their ability to finish your book. 

CARE: Don’t insult your readers’ intelligence. They come from all walks of life. They’re all individuals, too. Your writing could attract either a roadsweeper with a PhD, or a high court judge with no common sense at all. You can’t generalise about your readers, so write as well as you can. Then take care with your editing, to make sure you produce something that everyone can enjoy–whoever they are, and whatever their qualifications 

I’m Christina Hollis, and I write both contemporary and historical fiction – when I’m not cooking, gardening or beekeeping. You can catch up with me on Twitter and Facebook, see a full list of my published books at http://www.christinahollis.com and get full details of my latest release, Jewel Under Siege, here.

3 Top Tips, Creative Writing

Three Top Tips For Writing Your Book…

Power of Words by Antonio Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterio derivative work: InverseHypercube
By Antonio Litterio

1. Stop dreaming and start working. The only person who can stop you becoming a writer is you. From the moment you express yourself in words, you’re a writer. The job title doesn’t depend on getting published. Whether you keep a diary or create a best-selling series of books, the simple pleasure of opening a clean file or feeling a new page under your hand is unbeatable. Try it, and take that first step toward making your dreams a reality.

2. Make sure your mind is trained on your ultimate prize, whatever that might be. Wanting to write a book isn’t enough. You must believe with all your heart that you can finish your project, especially if your objective is publication. A solid core of belief is the only thing that will get you through the hours and hours of writing, re-writing, rejection and editing needed to reach your goal. You know you can do it. Now prove it – to me, and everyone else. Go on. I dare you!

3. You’ll never be short of ideas if you’re always equipped with some way of making notes as inspiration strikes. Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed. Carry a dictaphone. Have a dedicated folder on your device of choice  – but don’t forget to back it up regularly. Have one memory stick for each day of the week. As an extra safeguard in case your external memory gets corrupted, lost or stolen, email your work in progress to yourself once every seven days as a backup.

Visit the Hints and Tips page of my website for lots more ideas.
3 Top Tips, Facebook, Pinterest, Quality, social networking, Twitter, Wriitng

Writing In Perspective

Description  English: A Stipula fountain pen lying on a written piece of paper Date 26 May 2011 Source  Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg Author  Power_of_Words_by_Antonio_Litterio.jpg: Antonio Litterio derivative work: InverseHypercube
By Antonio Litterio
Writing is a dream job – most people would kill to spend their days just thinking about stuff, then writing some of it down. The internet offers so many ways to connect with readers and get feedback, it’s tempting to think that the more time you spend in social networking, the better your sales will be. That’s one good way to measure your success, but it’s a pretty narrow one. Broaden your outlook, and you can widen your horizons. Formulate, Focus and Feed to give your self-esteem a boost.

1 – Formulate A Plan
Set yourself long term, intermediate and short term goals. What do you want to achieve 5 years, 1 year, and 6 months ahead? Make these objectives as specific as you can – “Earn (name your own price!) from writing within the next five years”, “Write at least two books within the next twelve months” or “Finish my novel by Christmas”. You may need to readjust your timescale, but don’t alter your dreams. Keep your eyes on the prize. Print these plans out on paper, and pin them up by your writing station. They’ll act as a spur.

2 – Think Quality as well as Quantity
Spend as much time as you can writing. That sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how much time gets eaten up by promotion and, let’s be honest, surfing the net while you’re on line typing up or researching.  Every self-publishing site will tell you the best way to drive sales is by publishing another book (incidentally, notice how this nugget of helpful advice is most often pushed by people who then offer to edit/format or illustrate that next book for you – at a price). While frequent releases keep your name in front of your readers, don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. Work towards both.  Once your work is out in the public domain, it’s there forever. Spend time and care perfecting your work, and only release your very best work.

3 – Feed Your Friends
Not literally, although chocolate cake (real or virtual) always goes down well! Think beyond the boundaries when promoting. Don’t just flog your book: too much of that is an instant turn-off. Market yourself, your whole canon of work and maybe even the genre in which you write. Interact with your real, face-to-face friends as well as your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and other online contacts. Make sure you can be easily found online: if you don’t feel confident setting up your own website, contact your local college. They may run courses, or have students who would relish the challenge of developing a page for you (when was the last time you tried getting a teenager away from a keyboard?). 
Create a Pinterest Board for your book, offer to guest blog, maybe even as one of your characters! Comment on other sites, and join in wherever you can. Be enthusiastic, be helpful and be open to every opportunity.

Above all, write – all the time. Using your skills will hone and improve them, day by day.
3 Top Tips, Christina Hollis, inspiration, SMART goals, Success, Writing

Three Top Tips For Getting Started…

Power of words by Antonio Litterio/derivative work - InverseHypercube
By Antonio Litterio

…on any project…

THE BIG PICTURE – whatever you want to do, whether it’s write a book, start your own business, make money, learn to cook, or grow your own food, have one specific aim in mind. Then stick to it. Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”. Label a folder (real or virtual) with the name of your project. Gather everything into it-notes, images, charts, infographics, the lot. Once you can find exactly what you’re looking for in seconds, it’ll save a lot of time time when inspiration (or desperation) strikes. 

ZOOM IN – Put a filing system in place the second you start collecting stuff for your project. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Separate files within one on-line folder will be fine. A plastic wallet with dividers will store your so-called “dead-tree derivatives” (that’s paperwork, to you and me). A DL size envelope within this system is perfect for keeping scrappy notes, receipts and parking slips safe. Incidentally, expand that idea to twelve envelopes, each one labelled with a different month, and you’re on the fast track to filing your annual tax return without tears. All you have to do is remember to transfer the relevant receipts from the car, your pockets or purse into the right envelope. But do that as soon as you get them. 
You know why.

FOCUS – Write down your big idea. Seeing it at the top of a blank sheet, or screen, will make it real. It’s smart to set goals, and the acronym S.M.A.R.T (used by George T.Doran, Paul J. Meyer and others) can help you reach that target. There are all sorts of alternative meanings for the initial letters, but they all come down to the same thing in the end. These are the headings I use when I’m planning a new piece of work:

SPECIFIC–this is what you want to achieve. It’s your dream. Spend some time working out exactly what it is you want to do. Be positive, and distill it into one sentence such as “I will write a book.” There’s no room for want here. Think positive.
MANAGEABLE–will you be able to do this in the time you have available, and with the facilities you have? If not, either set the alarm an hour earlier each morning and borrow what you need, or revise your objective–but think carefully before doing that because A is for… 
AMBITIOUS–Go for it! Aim for the stars – if you miss, the moon will break your fall. Find an inspirational quote and post it up where you’ll see it every day. Edmund Burke’s “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing” glares down at me all the time I’m writing.
REALISTIC–Ambition is indispensable, but there are limits. I come from a family of comfortably upholstered women. Much as I’d like to be a size eight, it’s never going to happen. Believe me. That’s why I modified my own aim, from “getting down to 130 pounds” to “following a calorie-controlled healthy eating plan and taking more exercise for one month.” I lost 5lb without ever feeling I was on a diet, so all I need now is the willpower to repeat…and repeat…and repeat…. as necessary!
TIMETABLED–deadlines, like the threat of execution, concentrate the mind wonderfully. Draw up a list of what you need to do, and work out how long it will take. Mark the finish date in every form of diary you have. Tell yourself it’s absolutely non-negotiable. Obviously there will be times when work has to take a back seat because of illness or accident, but personal disasters apart use every carrot-and-stick you can think of to motivate yourself and hit your deadline.