Sunday, April 23, 2017

The ingredients for a good book



Characters. If the reader cannot relate to your characters she will not continue reading. She may love them or hate them, but the author has to draw the reader into their lives so she keeps reading. If a character is Too Stupid To Live (eg. walking alone into a possible murderer’s house) you will lose the reader right then and there.

These days, female characters are expected to make an effort to solve their own problems. The hero may still come riding up on his white horse to sweep her away, but she should have been endeavoring to solve her own problems, not crying in a corner and wringing her hands.

Plot. There must be a plot. It is through the plot the characters show their development. In an erotic romance the sex may be part of the plot, but there must be something else happening as well—a bad guy to defeat, the world to save, or whatever.

Resolution. Readers hate being left hanging. In a series, the overall plot arc can continue, but there must be some resolution of the main characters, such as a Happy For Now, or them working together toward saving the world. A cliffhanger is only good if the next book will be on the shelves very soon.

Fiction writing is a very tough, competitive world. Give yourself an edge toward success by ensuring your book has engaging characters, an intriguing plot and a professional appearance with a suitable, attractive cover, and that the story is consistent, and the text grammatically clean.

Helen Woodall

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Helen visits historic Chiltern


Chiltern, close to the New South Wales/Victoria border, is an historic goldmining town. There are lots of fascinating old buildings to see:


An old shop, established 1875.


The old police lock-up.


Gilmour's store.


And beautiful Lake Anderson.


Helen Woodall

Sunday, April 9, 2017

How to Write a Great Book Blurb



This is an excellent article on writing a good book blurb. My advice has always been to start with a hook, and not to give too much away. Both those points are covered here, along with several others that make good sense.

Book Daily’s keywords are: Engage, Allure, Honest, Quick, Intrigue.

The entire article is here: http://www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1924159

Helen Woodall

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to argue with your editor



As I've said before, the writer’s relationship with their editor should be a professional one. Your editor is neither your mother, nor your best friend. S/he is there to work with you to make your book the best it can be.

Therefore arguing with them about every comma and editing change is not a good idea. If your book is being published by a publishing house, there will be House Style which has to be followed. There will be set, unchangeable rules about things like semi colons and certain word choices. Arguing about these things is simply a waste of time, as the publisher will not suddenly rewrite their style manual for you.

Most publishers follow the Chicago Manual of Style. Again, if there is something you want changed that breaks the rules in CMOS, you can stamp your feet as much as you like, but your change is not going to happen.

Outside of these things though, if you explain to your editor why you want something expressed a certain way, s/he will listen to you. If it’s not possible s/he will tell you why. It may be that your sentence had simply been unclear and s/he’d misunderstood what you were trying to convey.

As long as you remain polite and professional, it’s perfectly fine to argue with your editor. Just understand there are some things out of their power to change.

Helen Woodall
Helen.woodall@gmail.com

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Naming Your Characters




You may have five friends named Leah. Each one is distinct in your mind—the blonde, the one always laughing, the one at work and so on. But you cannot do that in a book.

Think back to school days when you studied all those King Louis in France. I bet you can scarcely keep track in your mind now of which was which, apart perhaps from the Sun King.

This is what happens to readers when character names in a book are confusing. Sure, it occurs in real life, but in a book it’s a really bad idea to have a Tom and Tim, or two Freds, or even Mr. Holden and Mr. Howden. The readers will get confused and your story will lose its impact while they’re flipping back over the pages trying to get the characters clear in their mind.

And never repeat a name in a different book, unless it is the same character reappearing. A secondary character named Julie, in two different books, when they are totally different people will confuse your readers too.

There are plenty of baby name books out there. Give every character a distinct name that reflects their personality.


Helen Woodall
Helen.woodall@gmail.com


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fascinating story about a comma, and a court case




An Oxford comma changed this court case completely.

A group of dairy drivers argued that they deserved overtime pay for certain tasks they had completed. The company said they did not. An appeals court sided with the drivers, saying that the guidelines themselves were made too ambiguous by, you guessed it, a lack of an Oxford comma.

I don’t like the Oxford comma either, but I do agree that readers need to be able to understand the point of what is being written.
And kudos to the drivers for their win.

The story is here:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/15/health/oxford-comma-maine-court-case-trnd/index.html?sr=fbCNN031517oxford-comma-maine-court-case-trnd0450PMStoryLink&linkId=35504124

Read and enjoy.

The Oxford comma may not be as quite dead as has been reported.


Helen Woodall


Sunday, March 12, 2017

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors



For many authors, the hardest thing to face is a truly cruel rejection letter. Yet most of the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. For example, Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting "Lolita", which would later go on to sell fifty million copies.

In this article, twenty-one famous authors give budding authors their harsh, but useful advice. My personal favorite is #21. Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously. – Lev Grossman

So, authors and aspiring authors, take a big deep breath, then read: http://thoughtcatalog.com/cody-delistraty/2013/09/21-harsh-but-eye-opening-writing-tips-from-great-authors/#f6JLMcdwKFYDHPCX.01


Helen Woodall
helen.woodall@gmail.com