Feb 17

Wired for Story! – This is a game changer if you want to improve your writing.

For a very long time, I’ve held on to certain ideas about how to write a story.

wiresPerhaps some were subconscious beliefs, built from hearing and reading stories all my life, but many are techniques I have learned through schooling, classes at the U of M, writing seminars and reading a stack of books on the craft of writing, higher than my head.
Well none of those years of learning and reading can beat the workshop I just attended, given by Lisa Cron.

 

First of all, Lisa has a list of impressive credentials. You can find those out for yourself here at her website.

 

Lisa discusses the latest advances in neuroscience that has revealed how our brains are hardwired for story. I know, this sounds like a psychology class you don’t want to sit through, but really, this is an amazing piece of information that I encourage you to learn. May I be so bold to say it will change your writing LIFE.

 

Story is the language of the brain – Lisa teaches:
• How – and why – story and the brain developed in tandem.
• Why we use story, and not facts, to make sense of the world.
• What it is that gives story it’s unparalleled power.
• What the brain craves in every story it hears.
• How to create stories that hook readers from the very first sentence.
• How to create stories capable of moving people to action.

 

Ok this sort of sounds like all the other writing techniques you’ve heard others promise. “Read my book – you’ll learn how to become a best-selling author!” -that kind of junk. I promise you, this is not like that. This is the real deal. – (No I am not saying if you read Lisa’s book you will put out a best selling novel. That is going to depend on your writing skill and a whole lot of other factors. – But I am saying you will have one hell of a better chance of doing it!).

 

Do yourself a favor, study everything this woman has to say. I do not know Lisa personally, I am not being paid to write this. I am trying to pass along one of the most important and enlightening pieces of information I have ever discovered about writing. I want it to improve your writing, as much as it has improved mine!

 

Lisa doesn’t just give you a vague idea of some brainiac premise on writing technique. She plots out specific things you need to look at in order to even START your book. It’s not hard! It’s very easy. It’s five simple steps in fact.

 

Below is a link to her blog which explains some of what she discussed with us at the workshop. I have also included the 5 pages of notes pertaining to Lisa’s lecture. – with her permission.

Here is a blog Lisa posted.

PSWG-Cron-5 Steps to Creating an Irresistible Story-2-15-14

If you want to read her book, you can find it on Amazon.com – Wired for Story

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2014/02/lisa-cron-wired-for-story/

Feb 03

A Commentary on Jane Friedman’s Author Platform Workshop.

A photo of a trainWell here I am, the Holidays finally over and the multiple stress events that kept me from writing and blogging for three months fading into the background of my time stamp.

I have learned that I should listen to my own advise. I didn’t write! Not only did I not write every day, I didn’t write FOR THREE MONTHS!

How could I let that happen to myself? Well, I will give myself a break on this one and simply move on. And isn’t that what we continually need to do for ourselves? After all, if we do not give ourselves permission to make mistakes who will? Brew another pot of tea, and start again!

And here is how I did it.

I knew after 3 months of avoiding my computer – it kept giving me that guilty glare –  that I needed to do something drastic. I needed a major jump-start to get that blast of kinetic energy flowing through the fingertips. I had several issues to face. The one most crucial was my inability to navigate the inner workings of my own blog- mainly Word Press. I had spammers hitting it on a regular basis, and I was daunted by going in and fixing it. I also just didn’t know if what I was doing had any value to anyone out there. After all, there are hundreds of blogs out there on writing and publishing.

And I needed a confidence boost. I fumbled around for a while, searching online for what might be the key to the golden gate and then… God delivered!

I have been following Jane Friedman for over a year now. Her blog posts, links, editorial reviews, heck.. everything she does, brings one to the very pulse of the publication world. She covers all the topics we need as writers, and then some. So when I saw her upcoming workshop: HOW TO POWERFULLY BUILD YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM, I ran to catch the train.

After a three-hour video presentation (broken into three 1 hour bits) of terrific author platform building advice, a personal critique of my current blog by Jane herself, and two, one hour face-to-face question and answer video sessions – I am back on the road to writing, blogging and doing all the work associated with trying to self publish my first book- The Feather in the Moon Well. Coming out sometime this fall with any luck.

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Jane yet, you are in for a treat. She is so wonderfully down to earth. I found her thoughtful, kind and truly eager to help and answer any question that was posed. There were up to five other writers also participating in the sessions, which was wonderful because they often asked questions I didn’t think to ask. Plus it was a great way to connect with other authors. We are all twitter-linked and hopefully on our way to blogging bliss. I am also hoping to add some links on my site to those wonderful classmates and help spread the information buzz on all of their past and present projects. (Ladies, don’t forget to get back to me so we can work out some author interviews and links!).

On top of everything, Jane gave us invaluable resources and links in so many areas, I will be reading and learning for the next six months.

Do I recommend that you take this course from Jane? If you need author platform or blogging help – YES! Get on the train! It’s pulling out of the station right now!

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2014/02/a-commentary-on-jane-friedmans-author-platform-workshop/

Feb 03

A Step by Step Guide to Evaluating Your ePub Files on Kindles, iPads, and Smartphones by JJ Bach

Most of us don’t think about converting our books to ebooks until after they’re completed and ready for publication. In this article, Jeff Bach explains how we can view them before they’re ready to be published and why we might want to think about doing that. You’ll find the article here on Joel Friedlander’s site.

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2014/02/a-step-by-step-guide-to-evaluating-your-epub-files-on-kindles-ipads-and-smartphones-by-jj-bach/

Sep 20

Ramp it Up! Raise the bar in your writing

Fabulous what you can learn when you really start to put some effort into it. I have to recommend The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates to anyone who is an aspiring author. Simple, straightforward writing tips. But it covers a LOT of GREAT writing information.

One of the ideas I have learned from this book (and others that support it) is the concept of raising the bar in your writing. Take each one of your chapters as a single entity, and think about what it would take to raise the stakes in that section of your novel.

Write a list – what would raise the stakes? You might have to look at individual characters to do this – what would make the protagonist work harder? What is the WORST thing that could happen to him/her in this chapter? Would that raise the bar and build tension?

Are there arguments that can be started? Conflict drives your story. Conflict can come in an adventure that needs to succeed, a conversation where another character needs to be convinced, an internal struggle where your character needs to make a decision. Keep your character on their toes! They have to try and fail, try and fail… and finally… succeed in their goal.

It’s all about suspense. What will make your reader want to read on? Usually it is because.. surprise… they want to know what is going to happen next! Sounds simple… but how many times have you started a book, and got bored because nothing was happening?

Shean Pao - Author

Shean Pao – Author

And don’t forget… write 15 minutes EVERY DAY. – let’s say that amounts to 200 words a day. That is 6000 words a month, or 72,000 words a year! (A novella is minimum 20, – 50, thousand words) – given that you need revisions, at the very minimum, you could write one novella a year – Just writing 15-20 minutes a day. Keeps things in perspective – doesn’t it.

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/09/ramp-it-up-raise-the-bar-in-your-writing/

Sep 13

Reasons to spew out the words

What was the biggest lesson I learned this month? Spew out the words.

As a writer in the past, I would often agonize over every sentence. This has a tendency to bog a persons creative flow – don’cha think? But why didn’t I realize that before? Perhaps it comes from having to write papers for school. Or perhaps we were never given the secret when we began our first steps on that road. Perhaps it is a different reason for all of us. But.. if you take anything away from my blogs, take this.

Spew out the Words

Don’t sit there and worry about this sentence or that sentence. Don’t STOP your story from coming OUT. Just write. Even if you are breaking it down to - he ran for the door,  / Lacey watched him run with anger.  –    Simple sentences, but they convey your story and let you keep writing. It’s like building a house. You put the foundation down (first draft) – You put up the wooden frame (2nd draft) You put up the drywall (3rd draft). All the carpet and fixtures go in (final draft and or/ professional edit).

So I’ve been trying this, and it really works! Not only do I not waste time perfecting parts of my story that I discover later don’t belong at all, but I don’t feel the tension that something important is going to be forgotten as I go with the flow.

The real writing begins in the revision.

THAT is where the fun begins. Now you have the framework on which to build. You have your structure, (the plot) and you can rearrange that plot as needed. You can see the whole scope of the house, and can add on rooms, a utility space, whatever is needed, without the crushing realization that you have to tear out that other room (the one you spent three days perfecting) because it just won’t work.

It’s all about flow! Don’t let your need to perfect keep you from getting your story OUT OF YOUR HEAD! :) Check out the sample I have on  “My Writing” page.

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/09/reasons-to-spew-out-the-words/

Aug 30

The midnight writer – laying awake again

I don’t sleep well. It has to do with extra lectin and glutamine in my body. (Email me to know more on this, I have a wealth of information on restless leg syndrome.) At any rate, I find myself wide awake at any given hour, with stories racing through my head. Or one story in particular as I try to figure out how my novella is going to end. So last night I ended up thinking of my next blog post, and it occurred to me to list ways to share ideas on how to keep writing. I know this has been done a million times. Probably a billion. But the point is, if you can find the few specific triggers that work for you – DO THEM. Here are just a few.

1 – Get an egg timer (or use your cell phone). Write for fifteen minutes a day. Just DO IT. If you go over fifteen minutes, hurrah! If not, reward yourself for doing the fifteen minutes of discipline. it WILL pay off. A friend of mine gave me a little card that says “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

2 – Music. Music can set a mood for many types of dramatic writing. If things are getting stuck, put the right sort of music on to influence your thoughts.

3 – Keep a small notebook with you. Jot down ideas as they hit you. I often have things pop into my head at the craziest times and have learned to ALWAYS keep something to write with near by.

4 – Keep a notebook next to your bed (If you are a midnight writer like myself, a lot of terrific ideas come at night. And if I don’t write them down RIGHT THEN – poof, the morning comes and they are gone *cry*. I can’t tell you how many award-winning, creative ideas have vanished with the dawn. (at least I think they were. I’ll never know)

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/08/the-midnight-writer-laying-awake-again/

Aug 23

Don’t get discouraged in your writing

The summer has deflated me. This incessant heat makes me feel partially melted, and I can’t seem to focus my soggy brain. But through the last four weeks, I’ve put up an author platform, (website, twitter and face book page) as well as a blog for my writing and a website and blog to post information on Zen, my African Grey Parrot.

It was NOT easy. I am not computer challenged. I’ve used a computer for the past twenty years to earn a living as a graphic designer. I even have some experience in putting up and maintaining basic websites as well. But I have to say, I was challenged. The technical difficulties on setting up a blog, hooking email response up, linking twitter (which I have no experience with, I’m still not sure how a hashtag works), and struggling through WordPress, plugins and widgets has left me standing in the middle of the road, staring wide-eyed at the flashing lights.

If a real car comes along I may not have the sense of mind to get out of the way! LOL. But, here I am, posting another blog comment. So what am I trying to say? Don’t get discouraged. Rome was not built in a day. I think I finally can put that popular saying into practical application.

I have a another popular saying on my wall, pinned rather than nicely framed, but it still does its job.. The only difference between winners and losers, – Winners don’t give up. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Remind yourself of what you HAVE accomplished, and give yourself a break. And keep on plugging. It may seem daunting, it may take years, but so what? If you don’t do it, you won’t have it at all. But if you keep at it, one day, .. one very wonderful day, you will wake up and say.. “TODAY is the day, I did it. I accomplished what I started. And you will feel.. fantastic!  I”m still waiting for that day. But I am looking forward to feeling that success. Looking forward to it with great anticipation. And you can bet I will let you know when it happens!

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/08/dont-get-discouraged-in-your-writing/

Jul 12

When you are stuck

I am finding a few things help me when I am stuck in my writing. Today I just wrote a few paragraphs. It just wasn’t coming to me. So I referred to my 20 Master Plots, (and discovered my plot that I was feeling miserable about wasn’t so bad, so perhaps it is the execution or delivery that needs work on. But I still didn’t feel like writing, so I created my business cards. And did research on historical names. Here are some other things I thought of to help me get out of a rut:

First off… have a list of things you could be doing. This list is something you keep close at hand, tacked to the wall or in a notebook next to your computer. Keep it updated. My list might look like the following:

Work on book 1
Work on my short story
Work on book 2
Rework the first draft of…. (insert a piece you are working on here)
Research material for my blog
Research marketing techniques
Read How to build Master Plots (or a list of other writing books you have waiting)

This may sound overly simple, but I find if I am twiddling my thumbs and don’t feel inspired, it helps if I divert my attention to something else. At least I am getting something done instead of just “sitting” there.
Sometimes just sitting there is good. I’ve stared at a blank page for twenty minutes, mashing things in my head and suddenly,… bam.. it just starts flowing and I start typing. But I don’t let it go longer than 30 minutes, unless I am really on to something by the end of that time. –

Keep a stop watch/timer by your writing desk. I use my iPhone. If you set yourself to do something in a short amount of time, set the timer. Also remember to take breaks. Or you are going to end up hobbling around like a gnome in a short amount of time.

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/07/when-you-are-stuck/

Jul 07

Writer’s Beware -2 – don’t get pulled in by scams

Again, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s of America has marvelous information on publishing scams for us writers. Before you sign on with anyone, be sure you throughly do your research on them. You might want to start with this link. They have a list of not-so-reputable businesses.

http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/alerts/

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/07/writers-beware-2-dont-get-pulled-in-by-scams/

Jul 07

Writer’s beware – Educate yourself on Self Publishing

What a terrific article! Found on the Sci-Fi and Fantasy writer’s of American website.

Permanent link to this article: http://sheanpao.com/2013/07/writers-beware-educate-yourself-on-self-publishing/

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