Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Word Witch Wednesday - balancing formula and originality

This is a battle I've been thinking a lot about lately. Readers want familiarity. Give them their favorite types of genre books with the same formula. Readers also want originality. Something they've never seen before. Giving readers both? It can be done, but it's tough.

Formula - Most publishers will have a sheet on what you're supposed to have in a book in a given genre. For example, paranormal romance (PNR) requires a dual point of view from the heroine and hero, minimum 80% (with some publishers it's 90%) of the plot must have the hero and heroine together, the male must be an alpha, the heroine must kick butt, the key to the climax must hinge on their romance, and it must have a happily ever after or a happily for now ending.

With the formula, I feel like I'm reading the same two or three books over and over again. It's not enjoyable. Every now and then, I'll come across something different within the formula and it will rekindle my love for the genre. But as a reader, the formula is ruining my enjoyment of PNR.

It just isn't in this one genre. I've heard the same complaint about other genres, especially young adult (YA) and romance. The thing is these three genres I've mentioned are the best selling genres in the market.

Originality - Many publishers will not take a chance on a book that isn't written to their formula. Thank goodness for self-publishing! It is in indie books that I see more original tales. Yet sometimes I feel as if these stories are lacking something or wondering what the heck was that!

Making it in the indie world is hard work. Yet there is a lot of fabulous original material out there. Why aren't they selling better? Because readers want the comfort of the formula... while complaining they want something new.
The trick is then to give them both. But how?
I don't have the secret to that. I can only share what I've been doing. With formula, you can easily Google story structure for any genre and find hundreds of links. If you're aiming for a particular publisher, be certain you know what they want.

Here are some tips for adding originality into the formula:
- stick to the standard main plot but write twisty subplots
- choose a little known mythology to base your story on
- twist the clichés of your genre (e.g. the heroine isn't an orphan but a well loved daughter in a big family)
- have something familiar combined with something new (e.g. a greedy dragon stealing treasure from castles is really a scaly Robin Hood)
- write one main character off trope be it the hero, the love interest, the sidekick, or villain

How do you feel about formula writing? Do you have any tips to add to help make a story original?

Monday, September 18, 2017

#13Treats - Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy Twitter Giveaway Signups

Attention paranormal romance and urban fantasy authors!

Fantasy Book Giveaways is trying out something new for our big October event. We're going to have people trick or tweet for a chance to win books! #13Treats is a Twitter giveaway which is fast, easy, and fun. It is a free event with the possibility of reaching thousands more eyes than newsletters alone.

The event starts on Friday the 13th. If you know me, I can assure you it's a lucky number!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Word Witch Wednesday - a bunch of tips for making writing life easier

It's been a while since I've done a writing update. I've been busy working on the first draft of Of Gods and Sorrow, the sequel to Of Blood and Sorrow. It feels fantastic to get back into the world and to be writing a novel again. When I write novellas, I keep everything tight and concise. I don't allow myself to wander. With novels, I feel less constrained.

Writing tip #1: When working on your first draft, don't be afraid to ramble on. Don't let your inner editor chain you down. Anything you don't want can be cut later. You might find you like some of those longer descriptions and extended scenes.

My writing has slowed recently. I've found I can't stare at the screen as long or I'll get headaches. When my critique partners and betas send me their manuscripts, I wondered why they always have their documents zoomed in at like 120% or 150%. I stubbornly put them back to 100% every time. My stubborn self was wrong. Now as I'm writing, I zoom in to 120%, and I get less eye strain and no more headaches.

Writing tip #2: Zooming in with documents does help ease eye strain. It's also important to take regular breaks from the computer and rest your eyes doing something else. Keeping well hydrated will help as well. And those bathroom breaks resulting from that can count as resting your eyes!

Putting your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard does get you writing. Yet it doesn't help you get up when you need to later. My body get stiff if I'm lost in my worlds for too long. I'm not as young as I once was.

Writing tip #3: Stretch. I'm not going to tell you to go out and exercise, but stretching your muscles will not only take away your stiffness, it will help the blood get flowing to your beautifully creative mind. I take about 30 to 40 minutes every day just before lunch to stretch and use my little hand weights. It wakes up my body and my afternoon writing session benefits from it.

Writing tip #4: That time as I'm stretching is the only time during my writing work day that I allow myself to turn on the TV or a podcast. Eliminating distractions like that while I'm writing allows me to better concentrate. Plus, it makes for a good motivator to do the stretching if I have a show recorded I want to watch. (Con Man aired on SyFy Channel this past Saturday night. I'm watching that this week as I stretch! Mmm, Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion.)

My writing life changes with each story and every new year. I'm excited to see where it will take me next.

Do you have any writing life tips to share? I'd love to hear them.

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An IWSG reminder:

Be sure when you leave a comment, your profile leads back to your blog. If it links to Google+, make sure you have your blog listed in your ‘About’ section. We encountered a lot of comments that we could not return because that person’s gravatar was not linked to a blog. And since some people comment with a name but it’s their blog name on the IWSG list, that makes it extra challenging. If you’d like your link title modified or changed on the IWSG list, we have set up a IWSG Google Document where you can request that change.

Plus the Show Your Writer Insecurity Contest is October 4, so get those photos ready!

Don't forget we're always excited to celebrate good news with our IWSG members. Email me at christinerains [dot] writer @ gmail [dot] com with your news, and I'll include in the next newsletter.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

#IWSG for September 2017

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure!

Today I'm so excited to share the theme of this year's IWSG anthology. It's an incredible opportunity for writers.

The Annual IWSG Anthology Contest

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Mystery/Crime/Thriller

Theme: Tick Tock. The story revolves around a clock, is time sensitive, or has something about a specific time. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Story deadline: November 1st, 2017.

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.This year, we are honored to have seven incredible judges: Elizabeth S. CraigAnne Hawkins, Candace Havens, Lynn Tincher, Ion Newcombe, Patricia (Pat) Stoltey, and Mason Canyon.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

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This month's IWSG question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

I surprise myself all the time! It's one of the things I love about being a writer. First off, I'm a pantser. I let my stories flow organically, and it amazes what tales I weave. I just mentioned in a recent post that I didn't know how my Totem series was going to end, but when I got there and it happened, I was astounded. It was my best ending ever.

I also write short stories and flash fiction. This gives me a chance to try different styles and genres. I surprised myself once writing a western story, and it got picked up by a publisher. I'm uncomfortable writing non-fiction articles, but I stretch out and dare myself to share what I've learned. A few times, I read it later on and went: "This is good. I wrote that?!"

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Don't forget, next month is...

Show Us Your Writer Insecurity!

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.) There are prizes!

IWSG Newsletter reminder: Please send me your news. We want to help shout-out and celebrate with you. Email me ( christinerains [dot] writer @ gmail [dot] com ) with a line or two and a link. Make sure to put "IWSG newsletter news" in the subject header so it doesn't get lost on me.