The dreaded sixth grade writing assignment has arrived.
"Write a Story," his teacher said, and Riley dove in excitedly!Okay, you are permitted to ask yourself, "Sixth Grade? Is she kidding?!" Bear with me, I think this will be relavent for adult writers also.
Riley is currently writing an Action-Adventure Novel, so this was the perfect way to see how it was going with the toughest critic he could find...his Language Arts Teacher!
First, he wanted to understand the parameters:
- How long does it need to be?
- When is it due?
- How many drafts will be required and graded?
Okay, as adult authors, our parameters might be a little different, but these actually correlate quite well, since they speak to the two most important elements: deadline and audience.
Understanding the parameters allowed him to sit down and write a three page first draft story/scene from his novel in about an hour, after finishing his math and science homework, of course. Keep in mind, he has not actually started writing his novel, he has only created character profiles in Scrivener. He has written most of his novel in his head, however, which leads to his first tip:
- "Your story starts in your imagination", and it has to live there for a while for you to love it and write it. NaNoWriMo aside, we need to have digested our stories a bit before we actually start writing them, otherwise, we have no framework from which to create something coherent. The longer you live within the world you create, the more you know its possibilities and limitations - but don't die there!
- "Decide how your story talks" by choosing how to start it. Is this first person, third person or narrative? Does it start in the middle of the action, or does someone tell you what they see?
- "Write what you hear, see and smell" when you are in your imagination story write as if you are actually there. This is easy if you also read books in the genre for which you write.
- "Have a beginning, middle and end" that keeps people waiting to see what happens next, and is consistent with the world you created. Don't forget that your characters' actions need to be consistent within that world, too!
These tips may seem elementary, but we all need to come back to the basics when we start getting too hung up on semantics, publishing details, formatting, cover art, day jobs, social media, and our family life.
As for Riley, he got the critique he needed, along with a surprise. He received 100% for his efforts, and the teacher asked if she could read it to the class as an example of how to write a great story! She also asked Riley if she could copy it to share with future sixth grade classes. Riley smiled sheepishly, and said, "Sure."
This 11 year old writer is floating on cloud nine, and motivated to write the rest of the book. We haven't talked about publishing yet, but I'm confident that MommyLoves Publishing will work out a deal!
Do you ever stray from just writing freely from your imagination? If so, what do you do to get yourself back on track? Thanks for sharing your ideas!~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
MommyLoves to Chat!
Say Bump and Take a Left
Why can't I embrace ebooks? I love email and bill pay and can't imagine sending letters or my mortgage payment via snail mail. I don’t know if it’s because I was younger when new technologies such as the internet took over (while ebooks came onto the scene after I turned 40), but to be honest, print books have a slight edge with me.
Here are my five reasons why:
It's great to have choices. And today, it's easier than ever to self publish whether it's to ebook or print-on-demand. Fortunately, for those of us who still prefer a book in hand - it's great to know you don't have to store tens of thousands of copies in your garage in order to satisfy us.
- "Screenitis". I suppose I think of “work” when I read something on a screen. The company I work for during the day is paperless, so I spend nearly the entire time I'm there in front of a screen. My moonlit job of editing is also done strictly online as I no longer edit on paper like I did in the golden era of pre-computers. Add to that, emails, social media, writing blog posts, and taking care of my finances online, it's hard to judge how many hours I end up spending in front of my computer.
- eBooks don’t speak to me. My printed paperbacks or hardcovers call to me. They sit neatly on a coffee table and when I relax on the couch after a long day, the vibrant covers lure me into entering their world. Although I don’t always listen to their call…those covers attract me in a way that no electronic device seems to.
- Lack of connection. Speaking of the cover…there’s something about a print book that's alive, especially if there’s a drawing of any of the characters. I will often refer back to the cover image while reading which helps me feel connected to the characters.
- I can’t see how I’m progressing. Currently, I’ve only read on the Kindle platform, so I’m unaware if other ebooks are lacking this…but I never know what page I’m on. This is probably due to the ability to change text sizes, which appears to alter the amount of words on the screen. There is a status bar along the bottom letting me know the percentage of the book read, but there’s something about seeing where my bookmark is and judging how many pages I’ve completed compared to how many I still need to go that inspires me to keep reading, especially as I’m nearing the end of a long book.
- I keep forgetting they’re there. This is probably my biggest issue. If you use the free ebook app on your computer, iphone, or ipad – it’s really easy to forget to read your books. Out of sight out of mind. Of course, this may be easily rectified once I buy an ebook device.
(BTW, writing this blog post has helped remind me to get back into the latest ebook I’ve been reading. Wish me luck.)
Do you prefer ebooks to print? If so, why? If you also prefer print and you have additional reasons to add to my list, please share.
Okay, if my 10 year old can use this software to write his books, so can you! It's called Scrivener, and it's developed by Literature Latte' so how can it be anything but smooth and satisfying?! You've probably already heard of it from some great authors like Joanna Penn and Stephen Woodfin, but I thought I would add my thoughts.
Since I've only met one author who actually writes linearly - from the beginning to the end of the story - most of us fragmented people who call ourselves authors will find Scrivener very intuitive. Since I'm a Mac user, the Mac version of this software feels very natural. Here are my favorite parts:
The Project Templates and Interactive Tutorial
You can always start with a blank page in Scrivener, but that huge white space usually terrifies most writers. No worries, many templates are waiting for your creativity to fill them.
- Fiction has three templates: Novel, Novel (with Parts) and Short Story
- Non-Fiction has seven, from Chicago Style Essay to General to Undergraduate Humanities Essay
- Scriptwriting formats your writing for Radio shows, Screenplays or Stage Plays, but I can't wait to play with the Comic Script template
- Poetry & Lyrics - great for that unique form of writing
- Miscellaneous templates has my next project waiting for me...a Recipe Collection
Whichever template you choose, the formatting is ready for your content. The current Ghost Writing project I'm writing called for the non-fiction template which came formatted with Title Page, Contents, Forward, Chapter folder, Endnotes and Research Folders at the ready. The entire manuscript can be viewed at a glance as note cards on a cork board or written outline form. There are many icons, formatting and organizational options to satisfy my anal-retentive side, and the freedom I crave for my creative side.
The compile feature is just like the export feature of Pages on my Mac, only 5 times better...literally! First, you can format your manuscript as the following:
Then, you can compile your formatted copy into the following:
- Paperback Novel
- Proof Copy
I currently have five projects going in Scrivener. That shows you how scattered my mind is. My 10 year old son has two. He's following right along in mom's footsteps.
- Rich Text
- Plain Text
- ePub (iBooks)
- Mobi (Kindle)
- html (Webpage)
If you are a writer hoping to be a published author, or a writer who already is published, Scrivener might just be the best tool in your self publishing arsenal. It certainly makes my self publishing life a lot easier!
~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
MommyLoves to Chat!
Say Bump and Take a Left
Writing is a solitary activity.
When you are ready to publish, you still feel like you are alone, because the traditional publishing world is blocked by iron-clad doors with thousands of locks to which there seem to be no keys. So, you decide to self publish. Where do you start? Do you now need to add 'editing', 'cover art', 'formatting', and 'marketing' expert to your 'author' title? Just do a Google search, and you are surrounded by the noise of this new world of self publishing.
Take a deep breath. It's not as difficult, or as easy as it may seem. There are some specific steps you need to take to establish your credibility as an author, and have readers begging for more of your written work. Here are a few:
~ Please . . . Please have your manuscript professionally edited by someone outside your family!
~ Rewrite your book based on the recommendations you receive from the editor. If the advice you receive goes against your instincts, you decide whether or not to take it, but I suggest you seek another edit from a new source. If this source says the same thing as the first, REWRITE!
~ Have your reworked manuscript edited again.
~ Based on the new version of your book, see if your title still fits, and change it if it doesn't.
~ Have two professional covers created in the correct size and format - one for eBook and one for POD (Print On Demand).
~ Have your manuscript professionally formatted for eBook and POD software.
~ Secure a domain name and create a website for your new "Author" persona. In this electronic age, this step is a must to attract readers and have a professional place for them to congregate around your writing.
Now you can self publish and put your written work out into the world for all to see. Are you ready . . . scared . . . excited . . . impatient . . . ?
That is why Help Me Self Publish exists! I felt the same way when I self published!Welcome to the self publishing bridge. Let's cross it together.
Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom