Writer's Life.org http://www.writerslife.org Where Writers Thrive Sat, 24 Jun 2017 14:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Hiring An Editor? Here’s How To Make The Most Of Them http://www.writerslife.org/hiring-editor-heres-make/ http://www.writerslife.org/hiring-editor-heres-make/#respond Sat, 24 Jun 2017 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4767 Whether or not to hire a professional editor is a decision every author must make after they have got their manuscript to the best possible version it can be. Many believe that if you want to give your book the very best chance of success, passing it onto a professional editor before you publish is […]

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Whether or not to hire a professional editor is a decision every author must make after they have got their manuscript to the best possible version it can be.

Many believe that if you want to give your book the very best chance of success, passing it onto a professional editor before you publish is the only thing to do.

A professional editor, however, of course, costs money, and for many struggling authors this can mean they are simply unable to shell out hundreds or even thousands of pounds to have their manuscript checked.

If you do decide to take the plunge, suck up the costs and hire a professional editor for your book, there are some things that you can do to ensure you make the most of them. Getting your money's worth should be important because the more an editor can do for your book, the better shape it is going to be in when you do decide to submit it.

So what can you do to ensure you get the most out of your editor? Here are some useful tips.

Understand what they do

Before you part with any hard earned cash make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for. The role of an editor is complex and can vary depending on who you decide to work with, so it’s important to be clear about your expectations, but also the limits of what they can offer.

Your editor can read your manuscript objectively and professionally. They will know what mistakes to look out for, pinpoint where your story needs to be improved and why and help your produce the best-finished piece of work possible.

Make sure you have done everything you can

Before you hire an editor you should have exhausted all your personal resources to make sure it is in the best shape possible. Redraft, spell and grammar check and edit it yourself, and be as thorough as you can possibly be. This way your editor can spend their time giving you advice on the structure of your story and your character development rather than wasting hours correcting all your silly mistakes.

Understand what kind of edit you require

Many authors don’t want an editor to give them advice about the story structure or plot. Others are desperate for this kind of advice. There are several different types of editing available such as a manuscript critique, a comprehensive edit, or simply copyediting. Make sure you are absolutely clear what you expect and your editor is clear on what kind of service they provide - do this before you commit to anything or hand over any money.

Build a good relationship with your editor

The better your relationship with your editor the more mileage you are likely to get out of them. Be polite, friendly, warm and professional. Communicate with them quickly and often, respect their role and their time and they will want to work harder for you.

Accept they may know more than you

A professional editor will give you advice and suggestions about your book that you may not like or agree with. At the end of the day, it is up to you whether you decide to take it on board or not. However, if you don’t you might be cutting off your nose to spite your face - they are the professionals after all.

Working with an editor can be a fantastic experience and can really help you improve as a writer, so if you do decide to work with one make sure you follow the above tips for the most productive and enjoyable relationship!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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What Is The Difference Between Editing And Critiquing? http://www.writerslife.org/difference-editing-critiquing/ http://www.writerslife.org/difference-editing-critiquing/#respond Sat, 24 Jun 2017 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4770 Understanding the difference between editing and critiquing is really rather important. This is particularly pertinent for authors who have come to the end of their personal editing and redrafting process and are looking to hire and editor to give it that final professional polish before submitting it to agents and publishers. Deciding whether to choose […]

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Understanding the difference between editing and critiquing is really rather important. This is particularly pertinent for authors who have come to the end of their personal editing and redrafting process and are looking to hire and editor to give it that final professional polish before submitting it to agents and publishers.

Deciding whether to choose a manuscript critique or go for a comprehensive edit could make all the difference to the success of your book, and understanding the difference between them is crucial. A professional editor is rarely cheap (and if it is it’s probably not very good) so you need to make sure you have done your research and know exactly what you are getting before you part with any hard earned cash.

With that in mind, let’s first look at what a manuscript critique offers an author.

A manuscript critique will give an author a general assessment of their manuscript. The editor will read the story as a whole and give you feedback on how strong they feel the plot is, how the characters have developed and whether you have got the pacing right. A manuscript critique helps authors who feel uncertain about their story, or perhaps feel it is weak in certain parts. They will critique the theme, the structure, the characterisation and how the story unfolds throughout the book, giving examples of where the story needs to be improved, and advice on how to do so.

What a manuscript critique doesn't do, however, is look for grammar and spelling mistakes, repetition, or points where the language or dialogue feels awkward or misplaced. Essentially it can tell you how good your book is in general but doesn’t get down to the finer details, the nitty gritty - remember a book littered with spelling mistakes will get past no publisher, no matter how fabulous it is.

Now let’s take a look at what’s included in a comprehensive edit

A comprehensive edit tends to be a lot more thorough and detailed than a manuscript critique. Here authors are offered advice on how to restructure their novel, how to tighten the plot, which parts of your novel could be cut, where you need to build more tension, where characters are inconsistent or need to act or react in a different way - a comprehensive edit really gets down to fine tuning your novel and making it the very best it can be.

However, it is hard to do one without the other. A manuscript critique is often the first step writers take in order to get an overview of where their story could be improved. Once they have taken this advice on board and amended their manuscript according, it’s then a good time to invest in a comprehensive edit as well.

Of course, many editors also offer a basic copyediting service, this is where only spelling, grammar and punctuation errors are brought to your attention - with the occasional comment on the structure or where there may be inconsistencies or repetition. This option is preferred by authors who don’t want their story to be messed with and prefer to simply ensure it is error free.

Of course, each of these come with different price tags and often it does come down to costs when an author decides which type of edit to choose. None will ever guarantee to make your book a bestseller so there will always be that risk - however, a professional reputable editor will be able to give your book the best chance of success.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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Traditional Vs Self-Publishing – Which Should You Choose? http://www.writerslife.org/traditional-vs-self-publishing-choose/ http://www.writerslife.org/traditional-vs-self-publishing-choose/#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:53:00 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4696 When you have finished your book, redrafted it, edited it, let friends, colleagues and strangers read it, re-drafted it again, you may finally be ready to publish. Now you have another big decision to make. Deciding whether to send your book off to agents and publishers in the hope that it might be traditionally published, […]

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When you have finished your book, redrafted it, edited it, let friends, colleagues and strangers read it, re-drafted it again, you may finally be ready to publish.

Now you have another big decision to make.

Deciding whether to send your book off to agents and publishers in the hope that it might be traditionally published, or choosing to go down the self-publishing route is not a decision you will make lightly.

There are, of course, pros and cons for each.

You may feel as though traditional publishing is hopeless. The competition is too fierce, the chances of success are simply too small. You may think that if you self-publish you are selling yourself short, not believing that your work is good enough to be picked up by a publishing house.

You may worry about money, can you really make any if you self-publish? At the same time if you waste months, or even years, waiting to hear back from traditional publishers, only to be rejected, how will you feel then?

Yes, it’s not easy to decide what to do. Both choices come with their own risks, and both choices require more hard work in order to give yourself the very best chance of success.

If you really can’t decide, take a look at the below. We have created a handy checklist which might help nudge you in one direction or another.

The advantages of traditional publishing:

Advance payments - if you are picked up by a traditional publisher you should be offered an advance payment which you will pay back from sales of your book.

Marketing support - a big traditional publisher will have a whole marketing team behind your book.

It sounds better - let’s face it being published by a traditional publisher is more prestigious!

Less work - while lots of work will go into finding a publisher, once you have secured one they will take over - which means much less work for you.

The disadvantages of traditional publishing:

No control - a traditional publisher will be in control of editing your book, the cover design and how it is marketed - you won’t get much of a say about this.

Having to wait - most publishers take over six months to let you know whether they want to take on your book or not, are you prepared to wait that long?

It’s really tough! Only a tiny fraction of books sent to publishers actually land a publishing deal, you have to have a pretty thick skin and lots of perseverance to give yourself the best chance of success.

Smaller royalties - you get a far smaller percentage of your sales than you would if you self-published.

The advantages of self-publishing:

You can hit the big time! Just think E.L. James (50 Shades of Gray), or Hugh Howey (Wool Trilogy) - they both became hugely successful authors by going down the self-publish route - so can you!
(Almost) Anyone can do it -you are in control - you decide everything about your book so if you are a control freak this might be the best route for you.

You get more money if your book sells well - you get a big percentage of the royalties of your book for each copy sold.

The disadvantages of self-publishing:

It’s all up to you - when it comes to marketing your book, you must do all the work - there is a lot to do and it takes time, perseverance and sometimes money to try every avenue to get your book noticed.

You must pay out for a cover designer, editor and more - If you want to give your book the best chance of success you must get it professionally edited and a book cover professionally designed. These services both cost money - with no guarantee of a return.

There is huge competition - the ease of self-publishing means that everyone’s doing it. It is extremely hard to get your book noticed among the sea of others - you have to work hard to ensure yours stands out.

As we said initially, the decision whether to be traditionally or self-published is not one an author should take likely. Remember, writing a book is a massive achievement and now you must go with your instincts and decide what’s right for you - good luck!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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About To Submit? Read This First! http://www.writerslife.org/submit-read-first/ http://www.writerslife.org/submit-read-first/#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:51:23 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4687 One thing that all writers know is that sending off your manuscript before it’s ready is an absolute no-no. Of course, most of us are perfectionists and would never dream of submitting our manuscripts to publishers before they are in tip top condition. However, after crafting your novel for months, or years, it's very easy […]

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One thing that all writers know is that sending off your manuscript before it’s ready is an absolute no-no.

Of course, most of us are perfectionists and would never dream of submitting our manuscripts to publishers before they are in tip top condition.

However, after crafting your novel for months, or years, it's very easy to be far too familiar with your work, and miss crucial things that could make a big difference to how your book is received.

On the other hand, it’s hard not to be super eager. After all, our hearts and souls have gone into creating our books. We are desperate to get them out there to see if, just possibly, our dreams might come true.

However, good things come to those who wait, and making sure you have ticked all the editing and pre-submission boxes will ensure your book stands the best chance of success.

So why might your manuscript not be ready? Let’s take a look at some of the most common offenders.

Your manuscript is too long.

OK so there are no absolute rules when it comes to how long a book is, and if it really is that good, publishers should be falling over themselves regardless of its length. Right? Well, this is true to a certain extent. However, most publishers are on the lookout for books of around 80,000 to 110,000 words. Anything under and it’s not going to appeal to a mass audience, anything over and it might be considered too much of a risk. So if your word count is massively outside of this, you may wish to go back to the editing board and see where you can do some serious cutting.

No one else has read it.

You might be super precious and guarded about your work, but you need an outside perspective to truly get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t. It might be scary but constructive criticism can really help make your book better, and you might be surprised by how much people love it too. Try to find honest, impartial critics to read your book - if you pick people you know will tell you what you want to hear, then you aren’t doing your book or yourself justice.

You’ve only done one draft.

No manuscript in the history of manuscripts is ready after just one draft (feel free to prove me wrong). You might feel all giddy and elated when you finally finished the first draft of your story - but there is still so much more to do - so don’t you forget it!

You haven’t given it space.

The best way to begin the editing process is to leave your manuscript the hell alone for a few weeks! Without distance it can be impossible to see where the errors and flaws are, you simply can’t be as ruthless and impartial as you need to be. If you leave it for a while you’ll be so much better equipped to make strong (and correct) decisions that will improve your work no end.

Until you have done all of the above you simply shouldn’t send your manuscript off. So make sure you don’t do your book a disservice - you’re almost at the finish line so make sure you do it right!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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Great Ways To Begin Your Story http://www.writerslife.org/great-ways-begin-story/ http://www.writerslife.org/great-ways-begin-story/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 17:33:23 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4665 Starting your story is just the beginning, but it is often the very hardest part. I am sure we all know the feeling of sitting down to start a new writing project, staring at that blank screen and the words just not coming out. Sometimes we have got so excited about the idea of something, […]

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Starting your story is just the beginning, but it is often the very hardest part. I am sure we all know the feeling of sitting down to start a new writing project, staring at that blank screen and the words just not coming out.

Sometimes we have got so excited about the idea of something, spent so much time planning, outlining and researching, that when we actually want to start we have already put so much pressure on ourselves to make our beginning amazing, that nothing seems to be quite good enough.

Your opening sentence has to be so many things, it has to have an impact, it has to get the reader excited. It should be powerful, original and gripping all at once. It sets the trajectory and the tone and the level of quality your reader can expect from your book.

So it’s no wonder we find ourselves fretting about it!

How can we make the beginning of our books deliver all of the above, and ensure they start the book heading in the right direction? Here are some things to think about:

Make sure you build momentum. An opening should be distinctive. Imagine it being quoted when your book becomes a bestseller! It should take a stance, capture what kind of book yours is and hint at characterisation. If, by the end of the opening paragraph the reader has an understanding of the character, setting and some sort of dramatic tension, you’ve opened your book well.

Start in the middle of the action

Often writers make the mistake of starting their book before it should really begin. They open with the character getting out of bed, dressing, and going to work - where something terrible or thrilling happens. Forget the first bit, start your book when the drama is already taking place.

Remember you don’t have to be too extreme

As long as you have a hook, and create a sense of intrigue your reader will be satisfied. You don’t have to start every book in the middle of a massive explosion or the worst thunderstorm ever. Remember, you want to build up tension, drama and suspense throughout your novel. If you start with the most dramatic scene, the rest of your book won’t be able to live up to it.

Make sure your reader can keep up!

Remember there are certain things that your reader will want to know at the beginning of your book, they want to understand the setting, be introduced to the main character and get a feeling for  what the book is about. If you try to be too clever, mysterious or confusing from the outset, they could easily lose interest.

Take advice from the greats

There is no harm in using other writers to help inspire you when you start your book. Look at some popular examples in your genre and see how they begin - by the end of the first page what do you know and how do you feel? Use this is a guide to help you craft your own opening and ensure you don’t leave anything out!

Remember, you can always come back to it!

Your beginning isn’t set in stone. If you find yourself agonising over it, just get something down and move on with the rest of your story. You can come back and re-write your beginning after you have finished your book. You always have options you can test and get feedback on, so don’t let the pressure of starting your book get the better of you!

A brilliant opening can really make a difference when it comes to the success of your book, so make sure you make yours stand out!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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How To End Your Chapters Well http://www.writerslife.org/end-chapters-well/ http://www.writerslife.org/end-chapters-well/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 15:50:35 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4643 Every writer knows that ending your chapters well is crucial. You want to bring that particular scene or a piece of action to an end, while also leaving everything on a mini cliffhanger so your readers can’t wait to pick up your book again and find out what happens next! The art of breaking your […]

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Every writer knows that ending your chapters well is crucial. You want to bring that particular scene or a piece of action to an end, while also leaving everything on a mini cliffhanger so your readers can’t wait to pick up your book again and find out what happens next!

The art of breaking your book up into chapters is something that authors should pay attention to. Understanding appropriate points to have a chapter break will create suspense, and keep your readers reading.

Only you will know when it feels right to end a chapter and begin a new one - it is a personal, creative decision. You may wish to keep your chapters all roughly the same length, for example, or mix them up. You may wish to give each chapter an enticing title, you may wish to make each chapter switch to a different character's point of view.

Whatever you decide to do, there are some simple techniques for chaptering that every writer should employ, regardless of the type of book they are writing.

Write first, do your chaptering later

While many authors find writing chapter outlines very useful, if you are determined to stick to these no matter what, this could end up being detrimental to your story. As you write you'll find that it becomes easy to end and begin chapters where there are natural breaks in the story. Even if these don’t stick to your original plan, it’s better to go with your instincts then fight against them for the sake of it. This way your chapters will end organically rather than seeming forced. When you have finished your book you can go through each chapter individually and shift your beginnings and endings if you feel that they aren’t in the right place.

Think about what each chapter should contain

Every chapter should be a mini story all of its own. It should have a beginning, middle and an end. At the end of each chapter, the reader should feel as though the story has advanced and that they know a little bit more than they did before. Each chapter should have its own dramatic action, should reveal more about your characters, and, of course, end in such a way that the reader doesn’t want to put your book down.

Use chapters to direct your reader

End a chapter when your story requires a change, a shift in pace or a turning point. Chapters can be used to help the readers follow the characters on their journey, but also to draw attention to things. An unexpectedly short chapter that is packed with revelations or dramatic action will capture the reader's attention. Similarly, one that is full of mystery will signify to your readers that they should take note of the details and will stick with them in their minds until the big reveal.

Ending your chapters well will always leave the readers wanting more. We all want our books to be those ones readers describe as ‘unputdownable’, and paying attention to your chaptering will help make your book just that!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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How To Act Like A Writer http://www.writerslife.org/act-like-writer/ http://www.writerslife.org/act-like-writer/#comments Thu, 15 Jun 2017 02:44:35 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4640 Ever heard of the phrase ‘fake it until you make it?’ Well, sometimes that’s what writers have to do in order to get by. It’s so common for writers to deny what they are. We live in fear of being criticised, of getting rejected, and feel that if we admit to being a writer we'll be […]

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Ever heard of the phrase ‘fake it until you make it?’ Well, sometimes that’s what writers have to do in order to get by.

It’s so common for writers to deny what they are. We live in fear of being criticised, of getting rejected, and feel that if we admit to being a writer we'll be ridiculed or irritatingly asked ‘yes, but what’s your real job?’

So how do you act like a writer to help full you with confidence and certainty?

Make writing a priority

It’s so easy to talk about writing, to complain about writing, to fret about writing, without actually DOING any writing. Real writers don’t sit about all day moaning about writer’s block or sweating over every single word. They knuckle down and get on with it. So if you want to act like a writer then instead of procrastinating or commiserating with your fellow writers, just sit and write. Your writing has to be a priority in your life. It doesn’t have to be your main job, you don’t even have to make any money from it, but you do need to give it the attention it deserves.

Dress like you mean business

You wouldn’t turn up to work in your 2-week old sweatpants and a jumper that is barely holding its threads together. So why do you think this is appropriate attire to write in? If you actually get out of bed, shower, dress smartly and sit down in a space that you’ve designated for writing, you’ll feel so much more professional and businesslike, and will probably write better too.

Be quietly confident

To act like a real writer you don’t have to be arrogant or dominant, but you don’t have to be full of agony and crippled with self-doubt either. Believing in yourself and the work that you do will help motivate you to keep going even when times are tough.

Have purpose

All writers should have a purpose. Early on you should figure out what it is you are hoping to achieve from your work and always keep this firmly in your mind's eye. Be prepared to tell others about it too. Having a purpose and having clear goals to help you achieve that purpose will always make you feel as though you are moving in the right direction.

Be passionate

Be ready to talk about the projects you are working on with pride and passion. If you clam up and stutter when someone asks you about your book they will quickly lose interest. Talking about your work doesn’t make you boastful - good writers need to be salespeople after all. Make sure you can describe your stories or the projects you are working on with confidence and eloquence - it will make you believe in what you are doing even more too.

Acting like a writer isn’t just about putting on a front, it’s about developing good behaviours and ways of communicating that will help fill you with confidence, determination and pride in what you are doing - and that’s surely what every real writer wants!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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How To Collaborate With A Co-Author http://www.writerslife.org/collaborate-co-author/ http://www.writerslife.org/collaborate-co-author/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:43:54 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4634 Making the decision to write your book with a co-author is an interesting one. Many of us aspire to write a novel, yet only a fraction of us manage to complete it. That’s because writing a novel is actually pretty tough. It’s time-consuming, it requires lots of brain power, creative thought, research and careful crafting […]

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Making the decision to write your book with a co-author is an interesting one. Many of us aspire to write a novel, yet only a fraction of us manage to complete it. That’s because writing a novel is actually pretty tough. It’s time-consuming, it requires lots of brain power, creative thought, research and careful crafting to make it good.

That’s why a surprising number of writers consider sharing the load by working with a co-writer.

Of course, this is not a decision that many take lightly, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so!

Let’s take a look at some of them so if you do decide to collaborate with another writer, you can do it in the best possible way!

Making the decision

First, it is important that you carefully consider whether you are making the right decision. For many, writing a book is a personal journey, and the notion of sharing their ideas and passions with someone else is horrifying. If you already have a very clear idea of how you want your book to be written and you aren’t willing to compromise then collaborating might not be the right way to go. You are never going to agree on everything, a joke you find hilarious they might find offensive, a point that you passionately believe in they might passionately argue against - if you aren’t willing to listen and adapt and you aren’t prepared to make sacrifices then co-writing probably isn’t for you.

If however, you believe yourself to be an open-minded, communicative and compromising person then there are many advantages to co-writing your book.

Essentially you only have to write half as many words, which theoretically means you only have to spend half the amount of time getting your book finished.

A co-writer can help you make decisions you are struggling with, can find solutions to problems where you cannot and can be a fresh set of eyes that can inject life and creativity into your work that perhaps you would have been unable to think of on your own.

There are however some things to look out for.

Choosing your co-author

Choosing who to work with on such an important project is a decision not to be taken lightly. You need to find someone who you trust and respect, who you know has the capacity and commitment to make the project work, and whose vision, knowledge and passion are roughly in line with yours. If you don’t have these things you will find it very difficult to work with the other person and your book could end up taking forever or not being completed at all.

Keeping your voice consistent

Despite being written by two people. readers won’t want to notice that it has been. There shouldn’t be two distinct voices or styles of writing, the voice and tone and pace should be consistent throughout. Keeping your voice consistent is all about communicating with one another and not being too precious or protective. If you can discuss the style of the book and meet in the middle then you should be able to make this work

Handling disagreements

Disagreements are somewhat inevitable when writing a book with a co-author. However, how you handle them makes all the difference when it comes to the success of your book. Make sure you have clearly set out how you both envisage the book working, how you intend to divide the workload, how many times you will meet up or contact one another. You also need to ensure your expectations are in line with one another's, that you don’t have any obligations that will get in the way of writing and promoting the book (or if you do that you are both okay with them). The clearer you are at the beginning the less likely disagreements will occur. If you do find yourself in a dispute try to remain calm and open minded and always try to find a solution that feels like a compromise on both your parts so one party doesn't feel put out.

While co-authoring isn’t for everyone it can be a very rewarding and satisfying way to write a book - remember writing can often feel quite lonely and isolating and this way you’ll always have someone to share the highs and lows with too!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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Crafting Lessons To Improve Your Book http://www.writerslife.org/crafting-lessons-improve-book/ http://www.writerslife.org/crafting-lessons-improve-book/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:40:19 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4632 As writers, we know that constantly striving to learn and improve is key to our writing success and satisfaction. There is always more to learn, new techniques to try and methods to experiment with. That’s one of the joys of writing - and the knowledge that we can keep on getting better and better if […]

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As writers, we know that constantly striving to learn and improve is key to our writing success and satisfaction. There is always more to learn, new techniques to try and methods to experiment with. That’s one of the joys of writing - and the knowledge that we can keep on getting better and better if we put the work in is strangely pleasing too.

When it comes to novel writing, crafting your story well is crucial. Once you have the story down, it’s a good idea to take the time to stop and reflect, to read your story and to begin to tweak, edit, add and cut to make it the very best it can be.

Here are some great crafting lessons which every writer should use as a guide to improve their book.

Pay attention to your settings

Your settings are where the action takes place, and are hugely important. Your settings shouldn’t just be descriptions of places, they should be so much more than this. Instead of just describing the way things are, try to get across how the character feels towards the place. What emotions does it evoke for them and why? Settings can be used to build tension, to create excitement, and to immerse the reader in the story. They should be vivid, imaginative and burst with exciting descriptions, make the senses stand to attention and be full of arresting and unusual details.

Get deep with your characters

By the end of your novel, your readers should feel as though they know the characters intimately. It is the way the author conveys their thoughts and feelings in any given situation that builds a deep and detailed picture of what that character is like. You can use their outward appearance to cleverly give insight into what’s going on inside too, and any quirks or oddities will only make your characters richer and more memorable.

Make sure the pacing is right

The pace at which your story unfolds is so important. Make sure that there is never a dull moment! Of course, there will be times where the action is fast paced and thrilling, and times where it slows down and rolls along at a more gentle pace - but it’s important never to let your reader get bored. Building suspense is a good way of doing this, your readers should always be kept slightly on edge, always have an appetite for more. They should always be excited to read what’s coming next. If your book is paced well and is full of exciting action, there will never be a good time to put it down!

Use dialogue effectively

Dialogue creates immediacy, it reveals more about your characters and can be used effectively to create humour as well as tension and conflict too. Pay attention to the way your characters speak, make sure they all sound different, give them their own particular phrases or speaking styles to help your readers clearly differentiate between them. Always make dialogue smart and necessary and use it to help drive your story forwards.

Pay attention to your sentence structure

Short, smart, impactful sentences are key. It’s been proven that readers get distracted or confused if sentences are consistently too long. Try to keep your sentences short, but also powerful. Use strong images, descriptive language and clever observations to keep the reader hooked.
These crafting lessons can help authors make a real difference when it comes to writing and editing their books. So next time you sit down to write, keep these in mind and see how applying them can improve your book.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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How To Start A Writing Group http://www.writerslife.org/start-writing-group/ http://www.writerslife.org/start-writing-group/#respond Sat, 10 Jun 2017 16:09:42 +0000 http://www.writerslife.org/?p=4620 Writing groups can be an ideal way for writers to meet other creative people,  receive useful, constructive feedback on their work, to keep motivated, get inspiration and build up a network of support. Writing groups can take on many different forms. It could be that you organise a small group of local people who meet […]

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Writing groups can be an ideal way for writers to meet other creative people,  receive useful, constructive feedback on their work, to keep motivated, get inspiration and build up a network of support.

Writing groups can take on many different forms. It could be that you organise a small group of local people who meet up in a cafe or go for a drink. It could be that you start an online group and get hundreds or even thousands of members who join.

If you think you would benefit from being in a writing group, why not start one of your own? If you aren’t sure how here are some handy tips to get you started.

Be clear about what you want from the group

Before you even try to find people to join you think about why you are setting up the group and what you want to get out of it. If you don’t have a clear purpose and aren’t able to communicate what you are trying to achieve to other potential members, it will be hard to make your group seem appealing.

Sort the practical details

Where are these meetings going to be held? How regular will they be? Will you have an agenda or more of an open discussion? What time are you planning to hold the group discussions? All these factors will make a difference into how effective your writing group will be, as well as  hoe many and what kind of members you attract.

Make some rules

Having some rules in place about what is expected of members is important to give your group some structure and make it as effective as possible. Will you all be expected to bring a fresh piece of writing each week? Will members be obligated to share their work? Will you have a time limit as to how long people can spend on each piece of writing? Will you take it in turns to bring tea and biscuits?! Also, make sure you have some guidelines in place about giving feedback. Perhaps you’ll share your work beforehand so everyone has time to properly gather their thoughts, will you allow members to say exactly what they think or advise that it’s better to be kind and encouraging in their comments?

Will you charge a fee?

If you are paying out for a venue and refreshments to host your group you might want to charge a fee to keep your personal costs low. If your group is virtual you might want to consider how much time you will spend overseeing it - you could charge a membership fee and therefore be compensated for administering and running the group.

Get out there and let people know about it!

Advertise your group on social media, on local bulletins, on relevant writers forums and even in the paper! Obviously, the amount of time you spend promoting your group will affect how many people join, if you want to keep numbers down you might want to start small by asking friends and colleagues and promoting through word of mouth rather than pouring your heart and soul into a national advertising campaign!

Be prepared to tweak

Your first session may highlight some problems in organisation, with the venue or with how your group is run. That’s OK - just make sure you pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, get feedback from your members and work together to see how it could be improved.

Starting a writing group is an awesome and proactive step to keep you motivated, improve your writing, gain valuable feedback, and make some great friends too! Use these tips to start your writing group and remember, above all else, it should be fun!

]Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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