Monday, July 15, 2019

Software For Writers

The software that I am going to talk about here is new to me - it is called StoryShop. It is advertised as an all inclusive writing platform, where we can build the world of our books, plan them, and collaborate with others. (My preference is to write as sole author, but I have collaborated on two books, and it did work out very well.) 

I have downloaded the free version, and am going use it to fine tune my current WIP. There is a lot to keep track of in the storyline - having software like StoryShop will help me keep things straight, and errors to a minimum. This will be a three part series, and any errors will be quite obvious to my readers, so keeping everything in line is a must! 

Some of the things that StoryShop does includes the ability to add images that will help to visualize relationships between characters and places, the ability to organize (and reorganize!) ideas into the best possible flow, outline to the level that you want to (I am a pantser - I use a bare bones outline), and the ability to use available templates. I also love the fact that I can be anywhere and access what I have written through cloud - so if I want to take my laptop to Starbucks and write, I can do so without a problem!

The site includes an FAQ (which includes video tutorials), availability of forums (I did see that there are no forums currently available for mystery writing), writing courses, and a blog.

You can find out more about StoryShop here

(c) July 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Writing Prompts

What exactly are writing prompts, and why do we need them? Writing prompts are starting places, they present us with ideas that we can use to unleash our creativity. They help us when we are stuck in our writing, when we are not sure how to bring things together. 

There are many ways that we can make use of writing prompts:
  • Expand your creativity by challenging yourself to write as many stories as you can using the same prompt.
  • Use the prompt to create an entire story using the elements of plot, characterization, and interaction of characters.
  • Work with a partner (or within a group) to critique each others use of prompts.
Working with writing prompts allows us to hone our writing skills - and it is fun! There are many online sites, and blogs, that offer writing prompts. Use them to break out your writing!

(c) July 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Monday, July 1, 2019

NaNoWriMo In July

NaNoWriMo In July

Thank you to my Internet writer friend Jessica Macbeth, I found out that NaNoWriMo is having a writer's camp during the month of July. I wasn't going to join, but I just did. I got to set my word count (I set it for 20,000 words), my category (self-help), and whether I wanted to be in a cabin or not (I did not).

Wait ... what? We got to write from home in November - now we are in cabins? This is getting expensive! I thought it was free! I have a nine to five - I can't be away from home for a month! Hang on ... it's all good! It is free! You do work from home. The cabins are simply writing groups - you can form one with people that you know, you can ask to join a private cabin, or you can be sorted into a public one. There can be up to twenty people in each cabin.  This is your writing community.

Take a look ... see what you think! You get to write, you have a community to share ideas with and get input from, you get support - what more could you want!

More information on NaNoWriMo in July:

Social Media for NaNoWriMo:

(c) July 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Monday, June 24, 2019

My Reference Library

Whatever genre of writing we do, we all need to develop our own reference library. Some of the books in my library are necessities, some are there because they came under my radar. Here are a few of the books that I currently will not part with:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition
  • The Elements of Editing - A Modern Guide For Editors & Journalists, by Arthur Plotnik
  • Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles, & Ends, by Nancy Kress
  • Elements of Fiction Writing - Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card
  • Elements of Fiction Writing - Plot, by Ansen Dibell
  • Elements of Fiction Writing - Scene & Structure, by Jack M. Bickham
  • The Frugal Editor, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
  • Guide To Fiction Writing, by Phyllis A. Whitney
  • Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage
  • Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon
  • Merriam Webster's Manual For Writer's & Editors
  • On Writing Well, William Zinsser
  • Oxford Large Print Dictionary, Thesaurus & Wordpower Guide
  • The Plot Clock, by Joyce Sweeney, Jamie Morris, and Tia Levings
  • Self Publishing Books 101, by Shelly Hitz
  • Write From The Heart, by Hal Zina Bennett
  • The Writer's Digest GuideTo Manuscript Formats, by Dian Dincin Buchman & Selo Groves  
  • Writing the Cozy Mystery, by Nancy J. Cohen
What does your reference library look like?

(c) June 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written authorization from the author. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Continuity In A Book Series

How do we bring continuity to a book series? I really want to do my books in a series because if my readers like the characters in my first book, they will buy the books that follow. This is a question I am currently facing - my current WIP is the first of a series of three books, which will be followed by a series of cozy mysteries. That is another issue! My first mystery book was "supposed" to be a cozy mystery, and it took a very sharp turn right from the beginning into the land of metaphysics and distant viewing! 

I have no problem with having enough content and storyline to justify a series - I can take the same characters and put them in 1001 different situations. And I have defined what my series will be based on. My first series, based on my WIP, is a storyline that arcs over all three books. My second series, the cozy mysteries, will feature the same characters with storylines that resolve within each book. IOW - each book is a "stand-alone".

Here are some of the things that I am looking at that will help bring continuity to my book series:
  •  Have a good foundation for my stories, and enough of a storyline to justify a series.
  • Use recurring themes throughout the series.
  • Portray my characters in the same manner in  each book in the series - they will grow, but they will also have the same background, likes/dislikes, and shadows that they did in the first book.
  • Remember what you have presented in your previous books - life events, how a character speaks, what motivates each character, and what each character's perspective on life is.
My aim is to publish at least one book a year, so my readers don't get antsy and wander away! I also think that leaving a few loose ends might be a good thing - keep my readers wondering. My aim will also be to make each story different - if I keep telling the same story in different ways, that story will get old fast! 

Looking at all of the above, I realize that my character bible is going to be a very important tool in keeping my characters straight from book to book. What they say and how they react in one book has to pretty much stay the same in future books in the series. I don't want readers saying "So and so said this in book one, and this in book three. Which did they really mean?" That is a rabbit hole that I do not want to go down!

(c) June 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Evolution of Your Characters - They Won't Always Behave!

Character evolution - the inner journey that a character takes within a story, and their interaction with other characters. I am sure that I am not the only writer whose characters have made the decision to write their own script, and to evolve into something that said writer had not seen coming! 

Sometimes what our characters evolve into changes the story entirely. Should we allow that? Can we use this to strengthen character arcs within the story? We have to remember that our characters grow as our stories evolve - they are not going to be the same at the end as they were at the beginning. Their evolution makes our stories stronger. 

Characters evolve as they learn lessons, as they face their own inner demons, as they deal with their past and more. Evolution is a gradual process. What I have found with my characters is that if I allow them to go where they want to go, they will find themselves. 

Character evolution is triggered by something in the characters life, something that they cannot get past, something that they have to deal with. This is the start of their inner journey. We want the reader to see our character's "comfort zone", and why it is necesary for them to move out of it. There will come a point when our character needs to make a decision that will move them forward. This will be a pivotal point for them, and the decision may not be an easy one to make. There is a lot of work to be done here.

Why does this all matter? Because the challanges that the character goes through are things that you readers will identify with. They will make the character real to them. Your readers will become invested in the story, and they will want to read more of your stories! 

If you want to write great stories, allow your characters to do some of the writing!

(c) June 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Knowing Yourself As An Author

We cannot bring out the best in our writing until we truly understand what our own strengths and weaknesses as an author are. We play to our strengths and look for help for the areas we are weak in. We have to do both - doing only one or the other is going to end up in what I call "lopsided writing".

How do we define our strengths? Look at what comes easily to you. Are you able to envision the big picture of a project from the beginning? Are you good at defining your characters? Does that first paragraph write itself? Do your characters work well together? Are you good with details? Are you writing for your intended audience? Are you organized? Does your story hang together? Your strengths are what will make your work shine! Use them wisely!

How do we define our weaknesses? Truth be told, we may not know what they are. Some things to look for are: (1) Sections that don't hold together, or are simply boring. You run the chance of losing your readers here. (2) Losing focus. If your story starts wandering, it has lost its legs. Even if your readers continue reading, they have lost what your story is trying to tell them. (3) Your story doesn't flow. A story that flows holds the readers interest - one that does not loses them. (4) Writing that is too wordy. I am certainly guilty of this. We all like our own words, but we fail to realize that sometimes they just are not necessary. If your words are not adding to the story, they do not belong there. (5) Use of phrases that say nothing, like "in my opinion", "really", "actual". If a word or phrase says nothing - delete it!

Pay attention to your gut feelings when you are editing copy. If it doesn't sound right, if it doesn't feel right, then it isn't right! Change it, or delete it. You are the author, this is your story - make it shine!

(c) June 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author. 

Software For Writers

The software that I am going to talk about here is new to me - it is called StoryShop. It is advertised as an all inclusive writing pla...