Tag Archives: tips

The Villain: 4 tips for a memorable villain

The villain is a character of great importance in any story. For that reason, you must think about him carefully.

Your villain has to be credible to be memorable. As such, you should spend some time developing your villain before start writing the actual story.

Here you have some tips that might help you.

1. Motivation

Everyone has a goal, something they want, and that must apply to your villain as well.

Every action they will take has to help them, in some way, to get closer to that goal. At least, that is what the villain believes. It doesn’t need to be immediately evident to your reader, especially if you’re writing a mystery novel. Yet, keep in mind that, at some point, the villain’s choices need to make sense to those reading your story.

2. Justify their actions

Real people don’t think of themselves as villains. Our actions always make sense in our minds, and we have good reasons to act the way we do.

Remember that every time your villain takes a decision or chooses a course of action. Your villain has a purpose with every step he (or she) takes.

3. Personality

A plain character is not exciting or fun to read. With a plain villain, we can kill the story in the first few pages.

Your villain needs a life, people that make part of it, fears and hobbies, things they like and others they hate. Villains must be more than the evil goal they have in mind.

Besides, in real life, no one is entirely evil. A couple of positive qualities will enrich your character. It will make it more credible and interesting to your readers.

4. Avoid clichés

The erratic mad man might be fun to write, even read sometimes, but people are beginning to get tired of it. Surprise your readers and remember: if you want them to fear your villain, make it the most unexpected character of your story.

Unexpected

The best villain is the one with a background story, a life, a reason to be evil. Maybe the villain is not exactly a bad person; perhaps he is just hurt.

Think of your villain as a person with a story, feelings, fears, and goals. He is not his actions. The most humanized the villains are, the more realistic they become. Your readers will appreciate that.

5 tips for your first page

In the previous post, we talked about how important the first page is to the success of your book. A good first page is, without a doubt, the difference between someone actually buying and reading through your whole book or merely picking it from the shelf, opening it up and setting it back.

It’s normal, especially for a new author, to feel scared about writing such an important part of their book. That why I’m going to give you some tips that might make that task less daunting, or even slightly easier.

1. Protagonist

The main character in your book must be interesting. Is it already? Good. Now, the thing is: you don’t have much time to showcase that to your readers, so… why not on the very first page?

When we met someone new, we often judge them from the first few seconds of our interaction with them. Very often we’ll naturally catch their most obvious characteristics and label them into categories that make sense to us, for personal insight in order to know how to proceed. So, you’ll need to use this knowledge, in order to introduce your protagonist in a way which is sure to leave a great impression.

Showcase their most peculiar and important traits of personality, leading your readers to create an image of your character in their heads from the very beginning, especially one that intrigues them.

2. Dialogue or action

This is the safest way to go with, on that very first page. As soon as they start reading, there is already something happening. It’s better and usually more interesting than a description…

3. Conflict

Start with a problem, show that there is something wrong, or about to go that way, in this world the readers are going to be exploring. You probably shouldn’t expose the full main conflict of the book, unless you want to risk giving away too much information right from the beginning, but it’s definitely a safe shot to present your character with a problem or conflict to resolve, right from the start.

You can also choose to show that there is a major conflict about something, without specifying precisely what it might be.

4. Mystery

Every story needs some mystery, something that is not that obvious to keep the reader interested. Why not present something like that, right on the first page?

A good way to do it, is to start writing in the middle of a scene as if the reader just arrived when something was happening, and he must continue reading, in order to understand what is taking place.

5. Write it later

Starting to write a story’s beginning, with an amazing scene, when we’re still not sure of what will happen along the entire way, might turn into a huge struggle.

Don’t get stuck on that first page, just keep writing. Allow yourself to get to know your story a bit better, and then, taking into consideration that omniscience you have on your story’s world and how it will be presented, you will most likely be able to write a much intriguing and integrated first page, which connects seamlessly into the story to come!

Good news for you, fellow writer

Hello everyone! A fellow blogger of A Writer’s Path, Ryan Lanz, has announced the launch of his new initiative: A Writer’s Path Writers Club.

After looking at the writing market for years, he noticed a need for a Writers Club of this kind. Sure, there are Facebook groups, writers groups, etc., but there aren’t many associations that are more than just a gathering of writers.

He wanted to create a club where the sole purpose of it is to solve headaches for writers. Here are some of the headaches he’s looking to solve:

  • It’s hard to find reviewers for my book
  • Writing-related service providers (editors, book cover designers, etc.) are expensive
  • I don’t know if my writing is good enough and I need feedback
  • I need more promotion for my book
  • I don’t know if my blurb or summary is good enough
  • Not enough readers know my book exists
  • I don’t know enough about what other successful authors have done to be successful
  • I don’t know if my book cover encourages readers to purchase it

And of course, there are fun stuff to be had too, such as giveaways and contests. Here’s the full list of benefits for the Writers Club:

      • Discounts from writer-related service providers, such as editors, book cover designers, proofreading services, ghostwriters, social media marketing, book advertising, template design, audiobook narration, and more.
      • Contests and giveaways for free services and books.
      • free book promotion posts on A Writer’s Path blog every year(example here). Every post generates a social media shout-out of your book to my Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, and Google+ account (total of 12,900 followers). he’ll set reminders for himself to notify you when your next post is ready.
      • Exclusive articles not seen on the A Writer’s Path blog.
      • Access to free blurb coaching.
      • Book of the Month” lottery. Winner gets their book featured for a month on A Writer’s Path blog in a tab along the top of every page/post. Also included is a promotional post featuring their book, summary, cover, and purchase links to all 25,000+ subscribers. One drawing per month.
      • Help to find you reviewers and critique partners (optional).
      • A free copy of his eBook, The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas & Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. ($2.99 value)
      • Free critique of your book summaries and book covers (optional).
      • Insider tips from published authors in short, bite-sized articles.
      • Links to free books normally at full price.
      • Opportunities to show off your book to the other members.
      • Exclusive author interviews.

 

Feel free to check out A Writer’s Path Writers Club here.

9 quick tips to improve your writing

Improvement. That’s an amazing word and fundamental for all of us who want to continuously get better at our jobs. As I already said in previous posts, there is plenty of competition in the writing field, so, if you want to write for life, you must be good at it.

You might read a whole lot and that certainly helps you in becoming a better writer, but even then, there are some points or specifics regarding your work that seem to lack that special something, right? There always is. I leave you here with some tips on how to improve your stories, your books, or, wherever you’d like to write.

1. Make them cry but also make them laugh

No matter how sad your story is, your readers will be delighted with some giggles somewhere in it. A safe way to do it is by creating a rather funny character, even among the most horrifying tragedy, he or she will have something fun to say, or even do. Your story will be all better for it, and much more interesting, believe me.

The same should happen in the opposite direction. You can be writing a fun story, but come on, nobody likes a full-time clown. So, some serious moments might prove useful.

2. Be logical

You may write about a completely crazy fantasy world, where nothing seems real, however, you should be coherent. Even within craziness, you need some logic. If everything is random and non-logical, people will lose interest.

So, you must decide for some rules when you’re creating your fantasy world, no matter how crazy they are, all that matters is that they are applied from the very first page to the last.

3. Structure

The classical structure of a novel or short-story is a character who needs to, somehow, solve some conflict in order to achieve some goal. You should always keep this in mind!

Now, of course you can fight the classical structure, but, you should be careful and have a purpose for it yourself, such as, getting a specific reaction or surprising your audience in some clever way. However, also keep in mind that usually, the further you move away from that classical structure, the smaller your audience will be.

4. Run from stereotypes

There are many successful stories about stereotyped characters, they usually intend to criticize some class or type of person. You could go there, if you wanted to, but remember, the stories who keep people talking about them, aren’t usually like this.

They have unique characters, deep thoughts and actions. They give their readers something to think about, analyze and interpret, almost all on their own with subtle clues, actions and dialogue within the storyline. Let your readers make up their own mind about a character.

5. Your reader is the most important one

This builds on the conclusion from the previous point. Do not treat your readers as if they don’t know anything. They are important and you want them to be interested in your story, right? So, let them have an opinion, don’t tell them everything, make them think, lead them to take their own conclusions.

6. Paper and pencil is the best way to start out

You might never think about it, but when you sit at your computer you’re being limited by it. Pick up a paper and a pencil and do whatever you want. You can write words, you can draw, make a map, anything you want. And don’t worry, it’s just for you, nobody will see it, so it doesn’t really matter if your cow ends up looking like an ostrich.

7. Take a walk

Writing is a solitary job, usually sitting down, closed off in a room by yourself. But the creativity and fun stories are out there, amongst LIFE. Get out! See people, talk to them, observe them, think about them and their issues. You’ll see your characters become more interesting and your writing improving.

8. You have 5 senses

And so do your readers… You should never forget about that, use it in your favor. When writing your amazing descriptions remember all of them and try incorporate them into your writing. Talking about the smell, the feeling of the wind against the skin, the sound of the forest will make your scene that much more interesting and detail-rich.

9. Nobody is definitively good or evil

If you want your character to be interesting and catch the reader’s attention, you must humanize it. The bad guy could have some positive characteristics and the hero can be a real jerk sometimes. A hero too good tends to become boring and a villain too bad is unrealistic (they can’t be all crazy, all the time, can they?)

How long should my story be?

After finishing your stories, how many times do you find yourself wondering if it’s too long? Perhaps you instead wonder if it might be too short? This is something that bothers a lot of writers and keeps on raising many a doubt. Technically speaking, and in order to be practical, a story should not have more than 30 000 words (or it would most likely be a novel), and in fact, a really long story might make it harder for you to get it published. Actually, ultra-short stories are currently very popular and you’ll find many a magazine where you might be able to publish them.

But the truth remains as such: there is no ideal size for a story. You’re not selling fabric! However, there are some tips you should indeed keep in mind:

1. There is no story without conflict
A story isn’t finished without solving the conflict, so, forget how many pages you’ve already written and focus yourself on these points: contextualize your story, develop your characters, present a conflict and solve/resolve it.
Don’t be afraid to write a short story, that turns out, in the end, to be a very long one. You’ll find the time to improve it, most likely afterwards and cut out all of the stuff that doesn’t really matter, but first, you’ll need to develop it as much as you can in order to make it good.

2. If it is boring as is, it’s too long
Again, forget the number of pages. If the story seems boring, it’s already too much. A good story will make you lose track of time, not have you looking at your watch every two minutes. IF it’s not interesting, put it aside.

3. Too much ‘blablabla’
Never write something just so you can fill a page. Write freely while you’re building the story, but in the end read through it again and evaluate each sentence and idea. Were they necessary? Do they bring something new, important or really beautiful to your narrative? If you think something does, keep it, otherwise cut it out or rid the work of it.

4. Emotional experience
Each reader looks for something different from a story he or she chooses to read, although, if a person chooses to read fiction, it’s likely that they seek some kind of emotional experience. Your story needs to make the readers feel something.

5. Why choose this story among thousands?
Let’s face it: people do not have time to spare these days. Most of us are always running about, so if you want someone to stop and read your story, it must be worth it. Confused? Just read it critically and find out if your ideas, sentences, every single detail of it is good enough for a reader. Think of your story as a sort of reward for your reader, who is tired from another long day at work, and just wants to relax and feel all sorts of emotions.

Writing is a work of art. It takes time and perseverance

When you want to draw a face, you need to learn how to draw an eye first. Writing uses the same logic. You can’t write a book if you don’t know how to write a chapter, or even a simple scene… You need to get to know and understand every single piece composing the story, so you can write more complex plots and interesting intrigues.

As with any other kind of art, you need to practice in order to improve your work. Write! Just write, every little chance you get, at least a little every day. Learn how to put down on paper those wonderful ideas and images living within your mind.

When an idea come to your head you must write it down on paper. Look at it later and write something. It doesn’t need to be an epic novel, it can just be a short story or even a simple scene. Doesn’t matter what it will become, or whether it’ll become something more that a few sentences. Practice, practice and then practice some more…

Not even the best pieces of art can please everyone

When you make a decision about your writing, you’re also making a decision regarding your audience. When you chose a particular genre, you delimit the people who might want to read your story.

That’s normal and usually desirable, but you need to know how to deal with it. You need to know the kind of audience who might be interested in your work, how to reach them and make them want to keep reading your stories.

However, keep in mind, there’s absolutely no story that can please 100% of the readers (even inside one specific genre). Not even the great masterpieces of world literature can make it, so there’s just one person that should always love your work in order to keep making it better and better: yourself.

Art doesn’t need to equate to ‘hard to understand’

Many people assume that the harder an art work is to understand, the better that work is. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A good story should have an impact on your readers, make them happy or sad, surprised, fascinated. It should provoke emotions or make them think about it.

It’s hard to be touched by something you don’t understand, isn’t it? So, use your beautiful words and majestic sentences with good judgment and try to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Remember that they have different experiences from you and try to imagine how other people would interpret what you just wrote.

Invite the reader to elaborate on some parts of the scene that he or she is reading. Provide them with some details and deprive them of some others, so each reader is allowed to see the scene according to his/her experiences. Give descriptions that provide images in his or her mind. Help your readers visualize the same things you had to visualize when you were writing your work. That’ll get you their attention!

You are your worst enemy: 6 tips to avoid spoiling your own work

Being a writer isn’t easy, being a good writer even more so and the blame is usually mostly on yourself. Yes, you. You try so hard, that you forget to enjoy the journey and appreciate your own work often enough.

1.  Criticizing
You don’t need to write a master piece in one single draft, when you’re creating something new, you need to write down everything that comes into your mind. Forget about the quality of said content as that will come later, with reviewing and improvement, time and persistence.
Is there a little voice in the back of your mind, criticizing you all the time? Shut it down. Sometimes you just need to let your creativity flow.

2.  Perfectionism
Let’s talk about that perfectionist vein of yours… You claim that you like things well done and being perfectionist is an important part of putting out work of great quality, but… Let’s face it: most of the time, it’s just a way for you to procrastinate! Of course, a little perfectionism is a good thing but, enough is enough, and if it affects your productivity, you’re heading the wrong way.

3.  Concentration
I don’t need to explain this one, do I? Forget about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… Focus on what you’re doing and let people know that you are writing, either before you start or after you’ve finished it. Turn off your cell phone and tablet and avoid other people while you’re working. Believe me, you can do it and will most certainly be better off for it.

4.  Comparisons
So what if your story isn’t as good as the stories from your favorite author? Stop comparing your work with his or hers and worry about writing to the best of your ability. Keep writing, coming up with and putting to paper plenty of stories, to keep improving on the quality of your work, step by step.

5. Re-reading
Please, first finish writing that one scene you were thinking about and in the end, read it over again and correct whatever you want, OK? When you’re writing, you’re using a part of your brain and if you stop it in order to start reading and polishing your last few lines of text, you’ll be using another one… So it’s like trying to listen to two radio stations at the same time on the same piece of equipment… just don’t. Write down everything you want to write for the day, let your ideas flow freely, and after that, you can read it over and improve upon it.

6.  It’s not the end of the world!
You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize nominee for just about every single piece of your work. Free yourself from such stress and just write! Simply, calmly… You will get better, you know? If this one doesn’t end up as you had imagined you can always write another one. There’s always tomorrow!