How Do You Write YA?

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I found some young ones. So cute. 🙂

Without a doubt, YA (young adult) is a very hot genre to write. It’s been around for a while, although there was a turning point in 2008 when it truly exploded. A number of writers tried their hand at it. Some found YA was for them, and others discovered writing this genre is tougher than it looks. Although, YA isn’t about to slow down anytime soon. Readers of YA are committed. They’re always after more, and for writers of this genre, we’re here to deliver.

Now, what makes YA so popular?

Those teen years we go through, are an incredible time. They’re exciting, fun, awful, painful, scary, amazing, and everything in between. It’s when we discover the world and where we fit in. In our teen years, our emotions are pure, and all that we go through is intense and totally confusing.

That’s why YA captures such a wide-ranging readership base. It crosses the generations, and is read by young adults and adults alike. There is no age barrier to YA. Even my 90-year-old grandmother has recently read my YA fantasy romance. It was her first foray into this genre, and she was fascinated by how enthralled she became. (Phew.) The story reminded her of the time she lived by the seat-of-her-pants. (Yep, seat-of-her-pants. She was such a rebel in her younger years.) She wants more YA–and just like that, she’s hooked.

So, let’s cover what YA writers should be aware of. There are certainly some points to note.

  • YA books focus on the essence of what teens go through, and I’m not talking about learning to drive a car, going to prom, or that very first date.
  • YA readers are smart. They want deep storylines, and fast-paced action, so don’t even attempt to write simple. Teens will spot simple a mile away, and just get annoyed.

In fact, it’s often said writers must pay attention to the three core questions which should be at the heart of every YA novel.

  • Who am I?
  • Where do I belong?
  • How do I get there?

A ton of new questions can arise from these three core ones, but fundamentally they make great building blocks when writing YA.

Your characters are about to take the journey in discovering the answers they seek. There’ll be struggles and mistakes, bends and twists in the road, triumphs and tears, but that’s how teens uncover all life has to offer. The journey they undertake must be deep. They must challenge themselves to sort out any inner fears and frustrations, and while doing so, remain completely relatable.

All in all, YA books are about teens coming to terms with who they are, and experiencing all life’s ups and downs along the way.

Okay, so if you’re after some YA novel guidelines, here are some helpful pointers.

  • So far, there are no forbidden subjects, but whatever you delve into must be done with sensitivity and care, taking into account the age of the teen reader. Often we can allude to something, and then fade out the scene. The YA reader is smart, and they’ll be aware of what’s happened.
  • Overall, teens will identify more strongly with the character’s feelings, and this is why intense situations don’t always need to be written in.
  • Characters are teens, and aged within those years.
  • YA novels generally run between 40,000-75,000, but you will find books either side of that. If there is a particular publisher you’re after then make sure you check out their website’s submission guidelines to see if they have a preferred word count.
  • There are also no vocabulary restrictions for YA, but make certain any coarse language is age or topic appropriate.
  • YA is predominantly written in 1st or 3rd Person (I said, or she said.) Although there are some in 2nd Person (you say.)
  • And lastly, any subgenre is enjoyed, like fantasy, romance, paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi, historical, mystery, adventure, humor. There are no limitations on this.

I hope this post has been helpful for those writers wanting to delve into YA, or for those who just want to know a little more about this intriguing genre. Even in writing this post, I was surprised by how much I had to share. YA is certainly not easy to write, although it’s incredibly enjoyable.

But there’s more…

I’m going to share a link to the most traumatic post I’ve ever written which was featured this week on Dear Teen Me. I cried like a baby as I wrote it.

Here’s what happened. A few weeks ago, I was asked by “Dear Teen Me” to write a post, and I was thrilled to accept. Then I received the details. I was to write a letter to my teen-self, and I tell you, it was the most traumatic writing experience ever. Who wants to write a letter to their teen self? Not me, but I’d committed to it, so I jumped in with both feet and shared from my heart.

If you want to find out what made me blubber and cry, (I think I went through an entire box of tissues,) then check out the post here.
http://dearteenme.com/?p=7477

Thanks for taking a look if you did.

If you have any questions, just leave me a comment. I love hearing from you. And if you’d like to read a YA novel, then feel free to check out my YA/NA Magio-Earth series with its abundance of 4&5 Star reviews. Enjoy, and take care this week.

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Amazon Author Page for all Books

ENCHANTER (Magio-Earth #3): Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / Kensington Publishing iTunes / Kobo

HUNTER (Magio-Earth #2.5): Amazon Kindle

WARRIOR (Magio-Earth #2): Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / Kensington Publishing iTunes / Kobo

PROTECTOR (Magio-Earth #1): Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / Kensington Publishing iTunes / Kobo  

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Writing DEEP POV — A Writer’s Secret Weapon

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If there was ever a secret to writing, then mastering DEEP POV would be it. It certainly takes time to learn the techniques involved around getting this POV right, but I hear time and time again from editors and publishers that this is the most powerful tool in a writer’s arsenal. Study and delve into it, and ensure you have this secret weapon at the top of your toolbox. As a writer, going DEEP, means you have to go deep inside your character’s head when you tell your story. Every action, reaction, emotion and thought has to be shown as if the character was living and breathing the story, and not the author telling it.

Here are some tips and techniques to aid you in mastering your POV and going Deep.

  • In order to keep things in perspective as you write, allow your POV character to guide you through their world.
  • Use all the character’s senses to feel, hear, smell, see and taste things.
  • Since the character is the guide, he or she can share all their emotions, reactions, thoughts, opinions, and decisions.
  • This encourages showing instead of telling. Because when we tell, we’re explaining from an author’s perspective.
  • We don’t want an author’s perspective when we go Deep. We want a character’s perspective.
  • We need to be inside the character’s head and looking out of their eyes.
  • Which means don’t allow your character to step in front of you. (This is hugely important. And I’m going to write this line again so it really sticks.)
  • Don’t allow your character to step in front of you.
  • No, you are not standing behind the character explaining their thoughts and actions.
  • You are looking out of their eyes.

Did you all get that? Because that is the key to going Deep. You are looking out of their eyes. You are experiencing what is happening to them. Who just got goose bumps when that registered? Okay, now onward from that point.

  • Now that you’re looking out of your character’s eyes, the things you notice or remark upon will drastically change. You’ll only mention things that matter to the character.
  • This means your descriptions will tighten.
  • For example, say your character is running for her life out of the house from a killer. She won’t bother to explain what the curtains look like, or how plush the carpet is. No. She is focused on the door, and not the exotic wood panelling, but the knob and yanking it open. Only bring to life on the page what the character is focused on. Tighten descriptions so the POV becomes more targeted.
  • What happens next? You’re looking through the character’s eyes. You’re not going to describe the street and the flowers blossoming on the trees. No. She doesn’t have time to analyse those sorts of things. She’s looking for an escape path, and that’s it. For example: The black SUV parked outside the neighbor’s house. The door’s opening. It’s Jack. He’ll help her.
  • Do you see where I’m heading? Tightening your descriptions and only showing what you are looking at out of your character’s eyes, will allow you to suddenly bring in her thoughts and reactions with ease. All your character’s senses come to roaring life and will enhance each and every scene. That’s what every author wants, to drag their reader right into their story.
  • Which means your world of storytelling has changed, and all because you’re mastering your POV.

Fantastic, isn’t it?

So, the next time you’re having trouble with a scene and believe it’s become too flat, try this.

  • Go back and see if you’re looking out of your character’s eyes.
  • Check and see if you are honed into all your character’s senses.
  • If you are living and breathing your character.
  • That you are inside their head.

To aid you with this, if you’re interested in reading a book written entirely in Deep 3rd POV, then I’d highly recommend you grab a copy of my contemporary romantic suspense, WITNESS PURSUIT. When I was trying to master my POV, I was after books written in Deep, where I was dragged right into the story. Seeing Deep in action infuses it into our minds. There is no telling whatsoever in Witness Pursuit (eg, she watched, she heard, she noticed, she thought, etc, etc. And all the character’s senses are enhanced to the deepest degree.) The POV is tight and any character intrusion (eg, allowing my characters to step in front of me) doesn’t occur in the writing.

If you’re after a book written in Deep 1st, then I’d recommend WARRIOR for you. The same principles apply to Deep, no matter if you’re writing in 1st or 3rd. In fact apart from my debut novel, Protector, (where I was still mastering the technique,) all my books thereafter are written in Deep, so feel free to grab copies as new releases arrive. Get infused into the world of Deep storytelling. You’ll love it. The links for all my books are below should you have need of them.

Also, one last thing. I had some fun yesterday playing around with my website. I’ve created a new home page, all snazzy, or at least I hope so. If anyone has time to check it out, I’d love it. There’s even a Rafflecopter giveaway at the end, so feel free to click on that link and enter my super-duper giveaway. My website link is http://www.joannewadsworth.com. You’ll now find my blog under it’s own menu tab, although that won’t interfere with anyone receiving these posts via email. That’s all the same.

Happy Deep writing, and thanks for joining me this week.

~ Joanne Wadsworth’s Books ~

Buy WITNESS PURSUIT (Bodyguards #1) at: Amazon Kindle / Amazon Paperback / B&N Nook & Paperback / iTunes / Kobo

Buy WARRIOR (Magio-Earth #2) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Buy PROTECTOR (Magio-Earth #1) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Buy FIRST FROST, A Lyrical Press Anthology (including Highlander’s Captive by Joanne Wadsworth): Amazon KindleAll Romance Ebooks

TAKE CARE. :)

Have You Lost The Plot?

I would say “random picture alert” but there is in fact a plot point here.

police dogs

Yes, the dogs have not lost the plot. 🙂

For some writers plotting is a breeze, and for others they’re continuously trying to climb the mountain to discover it. I’m a pantser by nature, which means I generally fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants and allow my story to unfold as it will. The majority of writers are, and that’s the creative side of us bursting forth. But I’ve also learnt the benefits of plotting various elements into my story. A writer has to plot in order to give their book its meat and direction.

So how do we plot when we’re a pantser?

  • We keep it logical.
  • Know who your main characters are. Ie, your hero, heroine and antagonist.
  • I’ve mentioned the main three in particular, because of my golden rule. Here’s the graphic I created a few months ago and shared.

conflict

  • Here, story conflict = plot.
  • Ascertain what your main plot point is and write it down. The reason I do this, is because my characters drive their story, and with the plot written down, I can continually remind them of it and keep them on track.
  • Don’t forget your subplots. They can be great and add layers to your story, only don’t create too many of them that they ruin the main plot itself. You don’t want readers having to work too hard at keeping all your characters and story lines in place.
  • Remember that subplots are designed to tug the reader in, to add depth, but not to overcomplicate matters. Keep your focus on the main plot, but enjoy the rocking motion afforded by subplots to enhance your reader’s experience.
  • Don’t allow any holes to develop in your plots by leaving out a missing piece of the puzzle.
  • And don’t allow your characters to act unnatural or out of turn during those conflicts.
  • Keep your pacing on track, ensuring your characters grow with each point of conflict (plot) you throw at them.
  • Make every scene you write earn its place in being a part of your plot. If it makes no sense to have it there, drop it.
  • Never forget all plot points must reach a resolution, otherwise a loose end leaves your reader in limbo and wondering what happened to that character.

I hope you found this list of “how to plot” helpful. If there’s anything you’d like to add to the list, then drop me a comment. I love hearing from you guys.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to read one of my books from my thrilling new Young Adult Fantasy Romance series then by all means, check out the book links below to pick up your copy of PROTECTOR or WARRIOR.

Here’s what one reviewer has just said about my latest release:

“Warrior held my attention from start to finish. Each obstacle Hope and Silas encountered had me jumping with joy, but often screaming in frustration. What made me fall in love with Warrior, is the heart thudding romance between the two main characters. It isn’t just a love story, it’s so much more. 5 Stars.” – Nocturne Romance Reads

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Buy PROTECTOR (Book One) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Buy WARRIOR (Book Two) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

–ooOoo–

HAVE A GREAT WEEK. CATCH YA LATER. 🙂

Capturing That Elusive Writer’s Voice and Making it Sing

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Sooo true. I’m claiming this saying for myself.

When I first began the submission process on my first novel, I read over and over from agents and publishers on their websites that they wanted to see submissions reflecting a unique writer’s voice. I had no idea what that was at the time, but still thought, hey, that’s me. What’s not unique about my voice? I’m a Kiwi from Down Under. My voice is my own, and I have an extremely unique take on the world being that I’m always standing upside-down and the other-way-around. 🙂

Yeah, that’s not writer’s voice, but it wasn’t long before I truly understood what it was. I also came to realize it’s the most elusive aspect of writing, that it’s a challenge to truly grasp, yet also a challenge I could completely take on.

So, what is writer’s voice?

Writer’s voice is that wonderful combination of blending your own unique writing style with a deep understanding of your characters, along with knowing how their story best needs to be told. A writer’s voice is the most moving part of the story, and it’s sometimes referred to as the heartbeat of the main character. In other words, a writer’s voice is the magic that makes the story soar.

A strong writer’s voice brings the POV character to life, captivates the reader and has them hanging onto every word, every description, action, emotion and reaction.

A writer’s voice should be completely authentic, and most certainly not a copy of your favorite author.

A writer’s voice should also allow the reader to bond emotionally with the main character, to forge a connection that can’t be broken. This is why it’s so important for a writer to know their characters inside and out.

I’ve spoken before about understanding your characters in this way, and well before you get to the end of your first draft, otherwise there can be a ton of rewriting simply because you’ve come late to the party. A writer needs to know the heart of their main character, their essence, what makes them tick, what their strengths and ultimate fears are. You need to be intimately familiar with their entire thought process. Nothing is off-limits. And therein the magic begins.

Magic = Knowing your characters.

Magic = Constantly growing our writing skills and abilities.

Magic = Understanding, and writing your POV correctly.

That’s right, don’t forget to nail your POV within your writer’s voice. Knowing which POV would be the best in telling your story is incredibly important. 1st Person, 3rd Person, DEEP POV? Omni? The wrong POV can do your story a disservice, so study, study, study. And read widely in the genres of your stories.

I hope this post was helpful. Have you discovered and mastered your writer’s voice? Perhaps you’re still on the road to getting there. It definitely takes time and perseverance. In truth, I’m still traveling along that road. With each story I write, my writer’s voice strengthens and becomes more distinct. It’s all about the magic.

Today is also my official release date for WARRIOR. Yay! Any if you want to read a thrilling new Young Adult Fantasy series filled with intrigue at every corner, then by all means, check out the book links below to pick up your copy of PROTECTOR or WARRIOR.

Each book in my Magio-Earth series features a different hero and heroine, but the characters from the books all intertwine and you get to catch up with them all along the way. As such the books can be read independently of each other, but of course as with most series, they’re more fun when read in order. Here are those links:

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Buy PROTECTOR (Book One) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Buy WARRIOR (Book Two) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

THANKS EVERYONE FOR JOINING ME. YOU HAVE A SUPER DUPER WEEK.

Every Writer’s Dream — Understanding Our Characters

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So true. 🙂

Two weeks ago I began writing my next WIP. It’s book two in my historical Highlander Heat line, and I’m reminded as my characters’ personalities build, of how important it is to understand them, to get down to the nitty-gritty and make them real.

We need to have a good grasp of who they are and what makes them tick. They must be unique, which means we need to take care not to typecast them. With this typecasting, I’m referring to giving our characters labels such as “the bad boy,” the “misfit,” or the “cheerleader.” Do you see where I’m heading?

Readers are clever, and they quickly pick up on characters who represent a common character cliché. That can bore the reader. It can also cause the reader to turn from them because the character just doesn’t feel real.

Our characters also shouldn’t be too perfect, too weak, too beautiful, or too much of any one thing. As writers we have to get inside our characters’ heads and humanize them.

A great way to do this is to interview them. Yep, that’s right. Here’s what I do. Once I’m a chapter or two into their story, at the point where I have a good grasp of each of my main characters, I write down their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately what drives them. Their faults and fears have usually popped up by now and become glaringly obvious. Those are key, because as they say, conflict+conflict=story.

I love their faults and fears. Those issues allow my characters to become authentic, and it’s my job to throw challenges at them which will test those weaknesses and allow them to grow. There is nothing better than having our reader become invested in our characters, for them to cheer them on as they work at resolving their issues. Just remember to keep your characters’ plight and their scenes real.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and that you’ve come away with some helpful hints. I know for myself, if my story isn’t moving forward the way it should, it’s usually because I don’t have enough understanding about my characters. I love those interviews. Give it a go if you haven’t tried it before.

Don’t forget to drop me a comment if you’d like to. My post always goes live on a Monday afternoon Down Under in New Zealand, and when I wake up on a Tuesday morning the first thing I do is read all your messages. I truly love hearing from you guys. You all make my Tuesday mornings shine, so don’t be afraid to say hi.

Stay safe. I’ll catch ya later.

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PROTECTOR > BUY THE BOOK: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Lyrical Press / iTunes / Kobo

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Creating Conflict in Your Novel

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Conflict. Yep, I’m feeling this driver’s conflict.

This week I’ve begun writing my next novel. I’m extremely creative when it comes to the writing process. Usually I allow my stories to unfold as the characters drive their story along, although I’ve also learnt the importance of laying out core plot issues.

So, what’s one of the most important plot issues you need to consider when beginning your novel? Yes, that’s creating conflict. Here are some key pointers to guide you along the way:

  • CREATING CONFLICT
  • You need to ensure your conflict is sound.
  • It needs to be paramount within your story.
  • Conflict forces your characters to act.
  • Strong conflict leads to greater opportunities for your characters.
  • And ramping up the stakes with that conflict drives your reader to care about the outcome.

Now to cover a little bit more about creating conflict.

  • THE ANTAGONIST
  • Who’s your antagonist?
  • Or in some cases what’s the antagonist? There are of course stories where the antagonist becomes the obstacle the hero or heroine is trying to overcome.
  • Usually the antagonist brings the conflict to the forefront.
  • Focus on that conflict.
  • Infuse your story with scenes driven around that conflict.
  • Also, allow your characters to experience heightened emotions as they deal with the powerful conflict you’ve put in place.
  • Don’t forget increasing the stakes engages your readers.
  • It compels them to keep reading, and to find out what happens next.
  • THE HERO/HEROINE
  • The hero/heroine must come into contact with the conflict you’ve put in place.
  • Throw the conflict/challenge at them.
  • Force them to face their fears.
  • Allow the actions of your characters to burst off the page as they rise to the challenges you’ve set them.
  • Because higher stakes equals page-turning action.

Hopefully some of these pointers have provided inspiration. Lastly, let me share the one thing I always keep at the forefront of my mind as I’m writing. I’m actually whizzing it up into a nice graphic for those who’d like to print it off.

conflict

If you want to drop me a comment, make sure you do. Perhaps you have other pointers you’d like to add to mine. I certainly hope the ones I’ve mentioned have got you thinking. Happy writing, everyone. Create that conflict. :)

Stay safe. I’ll catch ya later.

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PROTECTOR > BUY THE BOOK: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Lyrical Press / iTunes / Kobo

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How Do You Become a Successful Writer?

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Sooo true. 🙂

The most important thing I’ve learnt, is if I want to become a successful writer, there’s one thing I must do.

You’ve probably guessed it, right?

It’s write. Write. Write.

Writing one book won’t bring in the bucks.

Writing two probably won’t either.

Oh, but having three, now that’s usually the turning point.

Yep, I’ve heard a lot of authors, as well as professionals in our industry, say with an author’s third book’s release, comes the change we’re all after — an increase in readership numbers. As writers, that’s what we’re all after. We want our books to be read, for people to enjoy them, to embrace our stories as we have.

So, I’m counting down those days. My second book, WARRIOR, releases in only eight weeks. My third book follows a few months after that, and my fourth, in the first half of next year. And so it shall go on…

Or at least that’s the plan. Within another week I’ll have my fifth novel completed, and I’ve already begun work on my sixth. That’s right. I’m writing. Writing. Writing.

Even my hubby can’t keep up with which book I’m currently talking about when I mention my schedule. He’s like, “Ah, so which one is that? I’m getting lost.”

I jumped up and down the first time he said it, because that means I’m heading in the right direction.

So how about you? How’s your writing going? Perhaps you’re still working on getting to publication? Or maybe you’re there. If so, how many books do you have out? Did that third book see you hit a turning point in an upward direction? Or are you still heading there like I am? I love hearing from you, so drop a comment and let me know.

And lastly, I’d like to announce the winner of “The 4th of July Blog Hop.” That’s Katie Cross. I’ll be getting in touch with you to organise your e-copy of PROTECTOR. Congratulations, Katie.

Have a fabulous week everyone.

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PROTECTOR > BUY THE BOOK: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Lyrical Press / iTunes / Kobo

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Writing Location Descriptions — Show, Don’t Tell.

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I hope you do too. 🙂

I love when I’m reading and a new location comes into play within a scene. The visual description the author brings to the reader is so important. And as writers we have ensure we cover all the elements we need for the reader to have the same image in their mind that we do in ours.

Each time I have to describe a new location, from a simple passageway, to a bedroom, or a sweeping panorama, I ask myself the following questions.

  • What are 2 to 4 key components of this place? These are the items which stand out with clear emphasis. Use more if you need them.
  • What are 1 to 3 small features that will take this description and make it something special? Examples of this are like the stitching in bedcovers, the fabrics used on furniture, or a cobweb in the corner of a room. Find something unique that will push your description in the direction you want it to go.
  • Is this place important? What’s its history? (Sometimes, only the author needs to know this question, but there are times when this is shared with the reader during the description because it’s important to the storyline.)
  • Remember the five senses. Sight, smell, taste, feel and speak.
  • And ensure you show your reader what you’re seeing. This is so important.

Now, not all the answers will be used, but most of them will within the scene. Most importantly, these detailed descriptions I’m speaking of come when you show your location for the first time. When you bring this same location back in another scene, there will be less description needed because you have already drawn it. So, let’s jump to it and see some examples, because I find it’s so important to add a showing to my posts.

  • Example one: To set this scene, the heroine is out riding in the outback.

We rode, our surroundings still beautiful in spite of the harsh drought. Brilliant colors shimmered around us, red the predominant, with the dusty landscape broken by the towering gum trees. Beyond the rocky hills, the Ridge rose steeply to meet the rich blue of the sky. The sight enthralled, because the Ridge was like a slab of stone appearing out of nowhere.

  • Example two: To set this scene, the heroine is relaxing on the beach of a small private island with her brother. Here, her brother becomes part of the scene description to describe the relaxed feel of the location.

For miles either side, the land was all high, jagged cliff faces with only one single track leading inland through the jungle. Near the beginning of the track, her brother had slung a colorful hammock and rested, his straw hat drawn low over his head as he rocked in the gentle breeze.

  • Example three: To set this scene, the heroine has never been to this place before. She’s walking down a passageway and into a bedroom that’s far more than what she’s used to seeing.

The passageway was wide, yet dimly lit with wall sconces holding candlelike bulbs. She didn’t slow since all the doors were closed, but at the fifth which she’d been told was hers, she halted. The ornate brass knob was curved, and she pushed it open. Wow. The room was three times the size of what she had back home. And from the size of that bed, she’d get lost in it.

She headed across the polished wooden flooring and gripped one of the four carved hardwood posts that rose high above the bed to support a canopy of sheer lace netting. She pushed one corner of the lace aside, and smoothed her hand over the violet silk covers. So pretty, with detailed stitching in mauve and gold thread.

  • Example four: To set this scene, the heroine is standing on a rocky cliff face before a large palace.

She stood on the precipice and stared down its craggy side. The ocean was eerily beautiful, almost beyond magnificent in its violent splendor.

Turning on her heel, she saw the palace. Wind whipped her hair about as she gazed up. So unreal. It was four floors in height and constructed of large blocks of gray-black stone. From each of the many corners, a slender tower rose to double the height of the palace, at least a dozen towers visible from her position. This residence was a fortress, although a stunning one with light shining from behind stained glass from the largest of the windows.

So, in writing detailed location descriptions, your goal is to bring your reader into the location you’ve set. Have them standing there, touching, feeling and seeing what you do. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it aided you in some way.

Have a fabulous week. If you want to drop a comment, make sure you do. I love hearing from you all.

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PROTECTOR > BUY THE BOOK: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Lyrical Press / iTunes / Kobo

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First Five Pages — Tips And Techniques

Random picture alert! Well, kinda.

cat not amused

Do you feel the cat’s conflict? The little mouse on his ear, I’m sure, went flying one second after this photo was taken. Anyway, keep reading, and check out exactly how we as writers, can create tension and conflict in our first five pages, thereby drawing the reader in. (Sorry about the “thereby.” I’m writing historical romance at the moment, and you might find the odd “aged” word appearing within the passages below.) *chuckles* 

Greetings my fellow writersHey everyone,

As writers we sometimes struggle with how our story should begin. We want to craft our first few pages in a way that draws the reader in. The last thing we want is for them to set our book down, to forget it, or to never pick it up again. So here, I’ve compiled a list of techniques to aid the writer in crafting a strong first five pages.

Open with a strong hook.

  • The first line of your book is crucial.
  • The first paragraph even more so.
  • And the first scene has to truly pack a punch.
  • So, how do we do this? Consider the main point of tension within your first chapter, and ideally try to work your first paragraph around that issue. The key is to captivate your reader into needing to know more. That means don’t go laying out all the facts, but aim to entice.
  • To aid you with this, a great way to open your first page is with dialogue. It’s a method which allows you to introduce your main character and highlight the point of tension all in one go. If the dialogue isn’t in the first line, then try to incorporate it in the first paragraph.

Don’t give me thirty characters in the first few pages.

  • If there’s one way to turn off a reader, it’s by confusion. Keep it simple. Spotlight your main characters right away so your reader becomes grounded from the start. Allow your reader to focus on them, to form a bond with them, to be invested in them.
  • Never forget that when a writer gives a character a name, the reader will automatically store that name, and expect that character to be someone of importance. That means, don’t go naming your non-important characters, and that goes for the entire book. As an example, the waitress who serves you coffee in the café, can just be the waitress.

You have a clever reader.

  • This is something I tell myself all the time, but continuously as I write the first few pages. “I have a clever reader.” It means as writers, we need to allow our reader to piece together the story without our continual input. Sure, give small hints, but don’t tell them everything. That way they’ll have a more fulfilling experience as they read right from the very first page.

Reflections.

  • Reflections in the first few pages should rarely be written in. This is where the main characters reflect on their life or past situations. They’re getting deep and meaningful, when really you need to highlight the actual tension and conflict of your story.
  • Save the reflections for where they’re needed.

Remember most readers will judge a book by its first few pages.

  • Generally readers will peek at the first few pages of a book, and based on what they read, decide whether or not to buy it. That means no grammar mistakes are allowed from the very first line. Proofread thoroughly.

I hope you’ve found these tips and techniques helpful. You may even have your own special tip or technique you’d like to add. Drop me a comment and let me know. I love hearing from you guys.

Take care, and I’ll catch ya next week.

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PROTECTOR > BUY THE BOOK: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Lyrical Press / iTunes / Kobo

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World-building for Fantasy, Science Fiction and Paranormal Genres

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Now, this is one other-worldly beach I’d like to visit.

Also, stay tuned, because at the end of the post I’m sharing some exciting news on my latest book submission. 🙂

World-building is a subject close to my heart. As a child some of my favorite books transported me directly into the new world the author had built. This started my love for the fantasy, science fiction and paranormal genres. There’s such a magical element to these stories where world-building occurs, and it’s also the ultimate opportunity for an author to allow their imagination to soar.

This imagination though needs a few parameters to keep the author’s world-building realistic and true. So, here are some crucial pointers for those authors wanting to world-build.

  • Firstly, determine whether your new world will be present day, futuristic, medieval, etc, and then keep in context the elements available on this planet to sustain it and your characters.
  • World-building takes research. You need to have a basic understanding of physics to ensure your invented planet doesn’t stray too far from the believable. Consider how life will be supported. How the society on your new world looks and acts.
  • Are the people human or something else? Maybe they’re based on mythology? Whatever you choose, keep in mind how our own world works. We understand the levels of structure. We care for each other, our planet and the animals we share it with. I’m pointing this out so you don’t go creating a world of people who only care about themselves and no one else. That could only lead to the potential extinction of the race you’ve just created.
  • Consider elements of travel. Are there space ships? If there are, what means have you provided to source and build these vessels, and then fly them?
  • Perhaps you’ve created magical means of travel. If you have, is time-travel involved? How are you going to incorporate this into the world you’ve built?
  • What kinds of laws govern this new world? And how do your characters fit into it? What kind of belief system is there? Are there other languages?

Never forget, that world-building can take a little time and practice to get just right. You’re after drawing your reader into a place that could realistically exist. Anything is possible, but it’s only believable if there are sustainable physics behind it. Lastly, get excited, because there is nothing more intriguing than building a new world and bringing your reader along on an incredible journey far beyond our shores. I certainly love where writing fantasy leads me. Oh yeah, our world is no longer the limit.

Lastly, I have some fabulous news, and I feel just like this puppy. I’m on the ride of my life.happy dog

And the news: ENCHANTER, book three in my YA (Magio-Earth) fantasy series has gone under contract with Lyrical Press, NY, with a release date of 5th May 2014. I’m beyond excited to see my series take flight the way it has. There are certainly a number of books still to come, each one featuring a different hero and heroine, and all with your favourite characters intermingled within. Huge thanks to the amazing Penny Barber and Renee Rocco of Lyrical Press. Also, a massive thank you to everyone who crossed their fingers and toes for me, for all your supportive tweets, emails and comments. You guys rock!

I wish you all a week as wonderful as mine has so far been, and if you want to drop a comment, make sure you do. I love hearing from you all.

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PROTECTOR > BUY THE BOOK: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Lyrical Press / iTunes / Kobo

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