I want to get the book done but just don’t feel like it. Sound familiar? Or are you at the point where you can’t stand the characters and wish magically the book would write itself already.
Here are 5 tips for when you don’t feel like it
🖊 Show up! Until you do nothing happens.
🖊 Reward yourself. I am an avid reader and a one click addict. So I have stacks of books but I set them down as rewards for getting some writing done. Then reward myself with a book and a mug of tea. #bliss
🖊 Change the scene. I write anywhere in my house… Kitchen waiting on the water to boil for my Poundo( A Nigerian delicacy) or Indomie(Noodles)…Dinning, couch, bed anywhere.
🖊 Set a hard word count goal. I only do this when I’m really not feeling it. That way I’m forced to do what needs to be done.
🖊 Dress up. Staying in your pjs May be cool and all but gets old. Take off the bonnet, fix your hair and hit those keys.
How do you get motivated to write even when you don’t feel like it?
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Over the past ten years, we’ve been inundated with a number of talent and reality shows. While I don’t particularly indulge in any, (personal preference & time) one that has caught my attention over the years is NBC’s The Voice.
Now if you’re like me and is always late to the party, The Voice is a singing competition where the contestant sings to a group of 4 judges who while they are singing cant see them. Simply put, blind auditions. The only thing the judge has to go on is…The Voice( brilliant naming right?) any ways. What I’m trying to say is that they accept or decline a person based on what they hear ONLY.
When I first started writing, it was drummed into my by the internet and a host of my wonderful mentors that the first page, in fact the first sentence of your manuscript is EXTREMELY important. It is all you have to hook your reader. At first I was like huh? why? but then as I have come to understand that the competition for the attention span of readers is being stretched by so many other means of entertainment or other authors. A new reader only has so much time to give you to prove yourself.
Just like with THE VOICE, the reader is more than likely judging the rest of your book by those couple of pages. Will they stick around? While I don’t really stress about the first line, I should, but hey I am picking my battles…I try to do justice to the first chapter. Here are some tips that can help.
- Avoid too much detail: the setting and larger problem can be weaved into the story later but in those first couple of pages…less is more.
- Tension: The lack of tension is a fatal mistake. This is what will make the reader turn to the next page. If after 2 pages, they have no immediate question that they are just dying to find out the answer to, they will put the book down. Now here is where established authors have an advantage because readers already know to expect with their stories. But for fairly new( like me) or new authors there is no such luxury. The flip side of this is not to create mayhem that will more than likely confuse the reader.
- Boring characters: While we shouldn’t know the character’s life story just there and then but there has to be something that makes the reader want to know more about them. Some amount of their identity should be revealed.
- Core Plot: Okay, since I’m an avid reader this is so important for me to…I cannot stress how important it is for me to read the first chapter of a book and know what the core of the plot is trying to answer…Give me something…
- Where : Am I in the 21st Century or the 18th? Is it Winter or Spring? Am I in America, Europe or Africa…I gotta know where.
Now this is a freebie. There is some arguments on the importance of the prologue in a story. A lot of people claim it shows laziness in the author. I think not. 2 of my books have prologues and they were short but needed. So if it’s needed…knock yourself out but don’t make it too long.
Readers any advice to authors on crafting the perfect first chapter?
Writers add the tips you use below.
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So this weekend I attended the Black Writers and Book Club Literary Festival #BWABC in Memphis TN. This was the first out of town book event that I’ve attended since I started writing in 2012. I was excited that I was finally going to see my #soulsis Nigeria Lockley and a whole lot of authors. By the way my #soulsis and I presented a workshop together on the Challenges of Writing. Check out her blog to get the 411.
Anyway, being my first outing, there were somethings I just didn’t remember or think of. So I decided to do what the Military calls a debrief for you and for me.
- Make sure all your electronics are fully charged. The venue may not have an outlet for you to charge them. And there’ll be a lot of opportunities to take pictures with other authors and readers. And it’s not a good look if you don’t have any juice on your phone. In my case, on the first day, my cell phone died, so I couldn’t get my #soulsis to record my workshop. By the next day I was prepared but not properly recording my workshop was a missed opportunity.
- Not everyone carries cash. As a reader, when I go to fairs, I carry only cash.That was my way of staying in control of my spending once the money finished, I headed home. Well I forgot I wasn’t a reader here but a seller and not everyone carries cash. So I had to get my #soulsis to get my square set up on my phone and send my husband out to buy the reader. That caused my first sale to be tedious as I spent time looking for change and getting the reader to use Paypal. Again not a good look. Good news was, I got it taken care of in about half and hour and things got better.
- When I go the store, I either take my own cloth bag or the store gives me a nylon bag. So why did I not think to get something for my customers to carry my books in when they buy them? And not just any bag from the dollar store but as my #soulsis will tell you, branding is everything. Lesson learned, don’t let your customer hold the book in their hand. Not a good look.
- Have some candy on the table…you give people that come to your home refreshments right? So it’s just a nice thing to do. Oh, I had some but letting you know in case you don t think about it. 🙂
- Even if you don’t make a sale right there, ask the potential reader to sign up for your newsletter. You may be able to convert their interest to a sale later.
Above everything else, have fun and make a lot of contacts. I had a wonderful time.
Do you have any tips for book events? Drop them in the comments.
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I always begin a post with a greeting. It was the way I was taught. It is customary to exchange greeting whenever you “see” someone.
Where I come from (Nigeria) greetings are done with a lot more meaning than in the Western world. Back home, when a child sees an elder or an adult meets another adult there is a pause and pleasantries are exchanged. It’s not a hurried “How are you?” but a “Good(morning/afternoon/evening), how are you?” then a whole conversation ensues in responding to that question simple question…”how are you?However, in the West, I’ve come to learn that depending on the relationship, the “how are you ?” is just a check box.
I say all this to tell you that,when it now came to writing my books especially my debut novel An Unexpected Blessing. I had full blown conversations behind the question “how are you?”. I mean that’s what I knew but a huge no no in book writing.
My ever fantastic editor got me to do an exercise that I found do intriguing. My audience isn’t primarily African so I had to get my books conversations (dialogues) to be fast paced and book-like. What did she mean by that? The pleasantries had to go!! I learn’t from that exercise that even though in real life we go around saying , “hi”, “how are you?” those should be rare or non existent in a book.
Other things I learnt about effective book dialogue are:
- It’s always choppy: People love to cut people off or finish each others sentences. It helps move the story along.
- Do not use internal dialogue as an information dump. You never see someone in a conversation with another just “thinking” for long periods of time without saying anything.
- Effective dialogue curbs long narrations and is a great way to drop pertinent information.
- Great dialogue, make for great action scenes.
- Every character should have a distinctive voice. Does your male character sound male? If they do, they shouldn’t be able to describe female clothing in DETAIL in their internal dialogue. Does your female character sound female?
- Beats Balance: When we are talking, we are never idle. We gesture with our hands, move from one place to another, shift positions…you name it. As you know, these are called beats and they are to be used in moderation. Imagine dialogue in a book where you’re constantly being told what the character is doing as they talk.
- Lastly “said” still remains the best tag.
Writing dialogue has become one of my strong suits when I write. But it took practice. Try this exercise: Ask 5 people, preferably of varying relationship to you, the same question and see how they answer. You’ll notice, everyone is different.
How do you write or like to read your book dialogue?
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