The Writer’s Journey—Staying the Course From Newbie to Master

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Some of you may or may not know that I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ is unique in that there are only FOUR colored belts (blue, purple, brown, black) and new practitioners are a white belt for roughly a year an a half before they can test for blue. I just earned my blue belt last Thursday. This is no small feat, seeing as how I am the ONLY female in a dojo of males much larger and most far younger than I am.

My first fight as a blue and SERIOUSLY? I get TYLER? My first fight as a blue and SERIOUSLY? I get TYLER?

The parallels for BJJ and writing are profound though. In the beginning it really doesn’t seem all that difficult. Yeah, you just grab that leg, pull that knee, sure! Got it. Then? Once you get on the mats?

*head explodes*

The more you learn, the more you come to know how much you don’t know.

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Characters continued

Do you have a list of memorable characters from novels you’ve encountered? What made them stick in your mind over the months and years? Even noteworthy villains have one thing in common: personality. Writers, for the most part, analyze the motivation, back story, and worldview of their characters. An abundance of factors determine why each behaves the way she does, and we as writers should know them intimately.

Cut to the chase—know what and why your characters move the plot in a specific direction. Even if the written back story might not be included in your final product, describing what experiences and lifestyle, upbringing, sibling and parental influences will be helpful in developing personalities and subsequently, plot. Know each one well.

Who do you remember from your personal reading?

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Elements of a Strong Novel #1

Who cares?

As writers, we want ours to be a great story— one that drags the reader into our characters and their conflicts. To be great we have to provide tension and conflict with characters that stir emotions in our readers. If it were easy, everyone would be writing a novel—wait, everyone IS writing one. Making ours stand out, get recommended as a great read, and have an audience beyond family members and close friends requires something special. For me, the characters are the draw.

Vivid characters are paramount. They must be relatable. Whether hero or villain, your reader must have an emotional connection regardless of being attracted or repulsed or somewhere on the continuum. Have you read books that leave you distracted? Are the characters flat? I am one who doesn’t get hooked if the characters aren’t meaningful to me. Even a strong narrative without substantive characterization leaves me passionless.

Human drama is all around. Motivators for human behavior have been consistent throughout time: jealousy, greed, ego, fear, and desire, for example. Whatever the conflicts are in your work, they must propel your characters with individual personalities, back stories and temperaments to make choices — oh, yes, the ubiquitous decisions must ring true regardless of the setting.

But be prepared for your characters to insert themselves into the narrative and sometimes change your original direction. That event is both strange and awesome.

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Selling Books in the Digital Age—We ALL Have an Image Problem & Here’s What To Do

Go Kristen Lamb! 💛

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.30.47 AM Original image courtesy of Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

We live in a wonderful age to be a writer but a terrifying one as well. It’s wonderful because there was a time when we could have gone to our graves without ever seeing our work published and holding our work physically in our hands. Now? Good news is everyone gets a chance. Bad news is everyone gets a chance.

Before self-publishing took off, I was not a fan of the whole idea. The reason? I knew the problems it was going to create. We were opening a door we could never close.

When we had gatekeepers, there was an assumed standard. To say we were “published authors” actually meant something. Now? It means next to nothing.

Great you’re a published author. So is my cat.

Johnny Cat wants to write his memoir... Johnny Cat wants to write his memoir…

With barriers to entry removed, we’ve created a…

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Submitting your Manuscript: Why Editing Is So Important

A must read!

Veronica Bale's Blog

As aspiring authors, we hear it often: polish, polish, polish before you submit. Agents and publishers and industry experts all say it’s one of the most important things you can do. And of course, we know it’s important. But for many of us, we never really stop to think about why that’s so.

Consider it from the editor’s perspective. Author Lynne Barrett, guest posting in The Review Review, points out, “The editor wants nothing more than to read something so fresh and powerful and polished there is no question it must be [published.] Instead the editor, having read 17 things this morning, keeps going, thinking: “A run-on sentence in the first line!” The editor reads till unable to process any more, goes to get some more coffee, and starts again, resolving not to give in to the temptation to say no as fast as possible in order to…

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Successful Self-Publishing Advice From A Pro

Joanna Penn, one of the world’s leading authorities on indie publishing, proprietor of The Creative Penn Blog and Podcast (a place to learn all about writing, publishing and marketing your book) has provided yet another valuable gift to the publishing world in her new book Successful Self-Publishing: How to Self-Publish and Market Your Book. Joanna […]