Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Super-long Sentences

What's a super-long sentence? One that is meant to convey a great deal of information to the reader, but instead of breaking it down into concise, easy-to-understand chunks, decides instead to put everything in one long string that might or might not be clearly broken up with proper punctuation, making the reader have to go back to the start and read it over again carefully to make sure they understood without missing anything, and thereby taking a lot of the enjoyment out of reading because it becomes more like a homework assignment. There - like that.  :) 

When you write a super-long sentence, you run the risk of two things. First, losing your reader halfway though. Sometimes when I encounter a long sentence, I've forgotten what we were talking about by the time I've reached the end. The other danger is that of reader fatigue. How tired did you feel after reading that sentence in the previous paragraph? Whether you realize it or not, you might be one of those readers who takes a millisecond mental break at the end of each sentence, and if you go too long without getting one, you might get worn out faster.

Not every sentence has to be super short. In fact, it's more enjoyable to read a document that has a wide variety of sentence lengths and structures. The brain likes to be kept active.

So, what's a good way to determine if your sentences are too long? I have two rules of thumb.

1. Can the reader easily follow your train of thought from beginning to end?
2. Can you read the sentence aloud without taking a breath, or are you gasping and panting for air before you reach the end? If you can't do it in one breath, chances are, it's too long.

Remember that reader enjoyment is our primary goal, and as we pay attention to our sentence length, we can create a story with better flow that our readers will appreciate.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Retreat and Write!

We just wrapped up our spring retreat and are ready to announce our fall retreat! Are you ready to crank out words, go to great classes and hang out with other awesome writers?

 Mark your calendars for September 21-24th in Heber, Utah!

How to sign up for this retreat: 

FYI: There are only 20 spots. All meals are included AND there will be mini-workshops on Building Your Presence as an Author and Marketing during the retreat so that if you choose to go to all the workshops, you will have all the tools you need to Brand yourself, and your books for your target audience.  See pics of the awesome accommodations for the retreat here. Sign ups open on Saturday, May 13th at 8am MST. NO EARLIER.

1. Pick which bed type/price you would like (see below)

2. Send an email to iWriteNetwork@gmail.com with your first and second (if you have one) preference.

3. We will send you a confirmation email and a link to pay-through Paypal- (you may choose to split your payment into three and send one third immediately, the second on third on June 15th and the last third on August 15th. You must pay in full by August 15th.)  We must have your payment within one hour of receiving your confirmation email or your spot will be given to the next person in line.

NO REFUNDS-thank you. (You can, however transfer your bed to someone else if you discover you are unable to attend.)

The bed options:  (if you are planning to choose a queen or a king bed, you might want to find someone to be your roomie if you care who is in the bed with you.)

**Anything not highlighted is available
***Anything highlighted in red is reserved/paid for

Bedroom 7: 1 King with bathroom                    2 spots for $275 each

Bedroom 6: 3 bunk beds            3 lower bunks @ $175 each
                                                       One, Two, Three
                                                    3 upper bunks @ $150 each
                                                       One, Two, Th
ree


Bedroom 5: Queen and a Bunk   2 spots in the queen @  $200
                                                 One, Two,
                                                       1 upper bunk @ $150
                                                       1 lower bunk @ $175

Bedroom 4: 2 Queens          4 spots @ $225

                                                       One, Two, Three, Four

Bedroom 3: 1 Queen           2 spots @ $225 each
                                                          OneTwo

Bedroom 2: 1 Queen                           2 spots at $225 each
                                                         One, Two,


Bedroom 1: 1 Queen                          2 spots at $225 each
                                                                One, Two  
                                                                  

We are So excited to have you join us!!!
Have question? 

Email us-
iWritenetwork@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Digging Into Research

Deanna and I (pen name: Jo Noelle) are writing in a new genre for us. It's still romance, but this time it's historical romance. And it's set in the American frontier. We've been doing quite a bit of research for this. Here's how:

Read about it...

View it... movies and travel videos on YouTube

Experience it...

One of the perks of being a writer is getting lost in the research of the new world you are writing in.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In the Writing Zone

For the most part, I don't believe in writing muses - I believe that when you sit down and get to work, that opens up doors for ideas and inspiration. You've got to be listening if you want to hear them. However, I very much believe that there are certain things we can each do to get ourselves in the writing zone and prepare ourselves to do that work.

The tricky part, though, is that those things are going to be different for each person, and sometimes it's a matter of experimentation to discover what they are. I'll share some of mine with you, and I'd love it if you shared yours in the comments. This will help us all brainstorm new things to try.

1. I absolutely must be wearing sweats, pajama bottoms, or knit pants when I sit down to work. I've found that if I'm wearing jeans (too stiff) or a skirt (my legs stick together), I can't concentrate. I need the joy and peace and harmony of stretchy cotton. And in order to illustrate this concept to its greatest potential, I present this to you.

2. There are certain times of day that are better for me to do certain tasks. I check my emails and do my administrative stuff in the late morning/early afternoon. I can edit in the late afternoon/evening, and then my best writing time happens starting at around nine p.m. and goes until around 2:00 a.m. That's just the weird way my body is wired. If I wake up and try to write first thing, I'll sit here and stare at the computer for an hour, which is a total waste of time. I've learned when my brain is best at each thing, and I stick to that schedule. 

3. I must have water sitting next to me. Writing is thirsty work, y'all! It also helps keep me more alert, and the need to use the bathroom regularly gets me up and moving around at least a little bit once in a while. When I run out of water, my productivity immediately goes down. My family knows me well enough that sometimes when I call out to them, they'll come find me with a cup of water already in hand because they've anticipated what I'm going to ask them for. (Yes, I do use my family like indentured servants. It's good for them. Puts hair on their chests.)

4. Another thing I have found is that I write better when I have a constant input of stories, either books or movies. I don't steal ideas from these sources, but they open up the doors of my imagination and allow my brain to create more freely. Any time I get stuck on a book, I'll take a few hours and watch shows or read, and I'll soon find that I'm unlocked again. I actually prefer to watch a show to reading during those times, though, because I need to engage different parts of my brain than I've been using.

Whenever you have a good writing day, take a look at what your routine was and see if you can identify some key points to what made it successful. I used to think I could only write in quiet ... yeah, well, then I had kids and it was either learn how to write with chaos or never write again. We adapt and adjust. But if there are certain things that seem to help you, pay attention to those and make the most of the writing time you have.

Friday, February 17, 2017

EZ ebook formatting!

I've wanted to learn to format my own ebooks for a couple of reasons:

1. I can put a book on Amazon without waiting for a formatter to work me into their calendar.

2. I can revise a book or cover whenever I want to re-upload the book for sale.

I've gone to classes, but didn't have the time to invest in learning the process--until now. Introducing...


This product is for Mac users, and it's so easy that it literally took me 20 minutes to format my book and have files to upload for Amazon and Smashwords (Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and others.)

It has a simple tutorial, and the program is super intuitive.

It costs less than $200 for unlimited use. That is about 4-5 times paying a formatter to do it. Vellum also has other pricing plans for fewer uses.

For me, this has increased my freedom of being indie. 
I have more control over my book production than ever before!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

More about Endings

I've posted in the past about the importance of writing a great ending. I thought I'd expand on those thoughts a little bit by sharing more snips from movies, since talking about Somewhere in Time in my last post was so much fun. 

As we have discussed before, an ending is like the dessert at the end of the meal. It's the payday after all the hard work. The ending should feel satisfying to the reader. If it's an action/thriller/suspense, we should feel that we're safe now. If it's a romance, we should have a happy sigh and feel like they'll be together forever. Unsatisfying endings make irritated readers, and irritated readers don't recommend your book, they don't buy more of your books, and they might leave ornery reviews.

Let me share with you some examples from the movies.

This first one comes from Emma, a version I quite liked except for this ending scene. She's being carried off on her honeymoon by the wonderful Mr. Knightly.

WATCH ME!

Okay, they're holding hands ... but .... that's it? We've been watching them fall in love for this whole movie, and that's all we get? There was a nice proposal scene, but this is just flat. We might as well have ended the movie with the proposal because this just has no point.

My next clip is the ending of How I Met Your Mother, the television show. I have to tell you, I found lots of aspects of this show hysterical, and lots ... morally questionable. But that's neither here nor there. The point is this. The character of Ted has been presented as someone who really wants to get married, who really wants a family, who really believes in having that ring on his finger. And yet, when he meets the girl of his dreams at long, long, long last? They live together for years (totally breaking character) and have two kids before they finally tie the knot.

HERE'S THE ENDING SCENE

What the scriptwriters were hoping for was that we'd be all happy that Ted and Robyn are finally together, but here's the thing ... at least for me, that ship has sailed. They're not the same people they were years before. They've made too many choices that took them away from their original characters for us to have that same emotional investment. This ending would have been a ton better if they'd gotten together ten years earlier and the whole thing hadn't been dragged out forever and ever with so much water under the bridge.

Now, lest you be all sad and glum, I want to show you one of my favorite endings of all time. You're going to need to forgive the stupid music - hate the music - but oh, well. This is from The Accidental Husband. She's a radio talk show host who has always believed that marriage and love is just stupid and that no one can really be as devoted and committed as they pretend to be. But then he comes along and convinces her otherwise. This scene made me cry and cry and cry. He's a fireman, by the way, which is why she asks him about saving cats. 

HERE YOU GO

Waah! Waah!!! Where are the tissues?? He has come down to her office in the middle of the day just so he can say hi to her pregnant tummy! Holy cow ... if that's not so romantic you can't stand it, you have no heart! This is romance. This is a happy ending. This makes you want to run out and find a guy just like this. You know that he's in this thing forever.

These are just my thoughts, and of course, you'll have your own as you watch these clips. The point is, the ending should leave the reader/watcher with a sense of closure or satisfaction. Most of the time, when I hear someone say why they didn't like a book, it had to do with the ending. So take a look at what you're writing and make sure that whether you're writing a romance, a thriller, or a drama, when the reader closes the book, they feel as though the trip they've just taken was worth it.