William H. Johnson

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

FIRED UP to be the Featured Author on This Friday’s LITCHAT!

In Indie Publishing, Motivational on June 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Bring on the HOT SEAT!

This Friday from 4pm ET to 5pm ET, I will be the featured author on LitChat – All Book Chat as part of a week-long INDIE AUTHOR SHOWCASE. I can’t tell you how fired up I am about this. Fired UP!

It has been a great week with such smart Indie minds as Dan Halloway and D.R. Whitney playing this role during Monday and Wednesday’s chats respectively. Two hours and over 1200 tweets of pure energy has resulted as writers from around the world are coming together to share ideas about how we can take an empowering role in the future of our work. Musicians are doing it. Filmmakers are doing it.

So. Can. We.

So far we’ve been posing questions about the business of publishing. We’ve talked about the benefits of creative control, working fluidly with the timeliness of our material, and preservation of artistic voice.  We’ve talked about some of the nuts and bolts of production: What is POD? How does it differ from off-set printing? What are recommended approaches to the editorial process and what are the costs? We’ve even talked trends on the final format – ebook vs. trade paperback vs. audio novel.

These are great topics and require discussion. As indie authors we must be educated. We can no longer be in the dark. We need to know what it takes to make a book if we are going to be the CEO of a book release and distribution project.

On Friday I want to talk about what it means to connect with a reader as an Indie Author. What is that like? What is it you have to offer them in a competitive market of potential reads? If you decide to publish you are doing so because you want to share your words with people. Is it to entertain them? To provoke them? Why do we do it? And why will the reader benefit by entrusting their precious reading time to you?

Here are some questions I will be posing to the guests while fielding questions from the illustrious Debra Marrs who will be moderating LitChat in place of our usual fearless leader.

Q1: Are there ways that an Indie Author can deliver a satisfying reading experience better than a trad pub? If so, what are they?

Q2: In indie film, prod value is often sacrificed out of necessity. Does this happen in self pub and how does it affect the reader?

Q3: What are people going through or have they gone through that your book or writing will speak to?

As artists we are rewarded in a powerful inexplicable way when we have the opportunity to share our work. Whether we’re musicians, filmmakers, authors, or theatre artists there is something about sharing that completes the sacred circle. Let us then remember how important audience, readers, listeners are to our craft, our business, our overall operation. If we dedicate ourselves to giving them our very best, wonderful things will follow.

See you in LitChat!!!


To join the chat go to www.tweetchat.com, sign into your twitter account and enter LITCHAT into the hashtag field.

For transcripts of the chats during Indie Author Showcase week, visit http://litchat.net/past-litchats/


7 Tips For Developing Your Novel BEFORE You Write it

In writing tips on June 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm

So you want to write a novel? Excellent! What’s that? You’ve written half of one and either chucked your computer out the window or buried your work in disgust? You’re not alone. Writing a novel can be a wonderfully fulfilling or unspeakably frustrating experience (or a little of both). My debut novel, THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN, was not intended to be my first. I bitterly abandoned an old project to take it on, and when I did this I adopted a new attitude toward developing my idea before setting out to write the manuscript. I am now a firm believer that a proper development phase should be the first step in writing a novel.

Here are some tips for a successful development phase:

Designate a notebook for that particular novel and write any thoughts or feelings you have about the piece in it. And I mean everything: quotes from the characters, an intense dialogue, part of an action scene, a moment of intense romance. Write it all down. Even write your personal thoughts on the piece. Does it remind you of a time or person in your life past or present? A freewrite about how it relates can inspire a new ideas for your story.

Perform short freewrites describing characters and setting. Before I wrote THE DARK PROVINCE I knew Calvin Gooding’s family. I knew his strict father and the duplicity of his mother’s faith and gentle pessimism. I knew how deeply committed he was to his traditions. I knew he wasn’t married and how strongly he believed in abstinence. I also knew the history of the land of Duprin; its past wars, its landscape, even its level of technological advancement. Characters, their world, and the story comprise the sacred who, where, and what for your novel. The clearer the picture you can paint of these, the more prepared you will feel when you sit down to write your manuscript.

Frequently attempt to describe the story in less and less words until you can do so in fewer than 25 words. This will focus you more and more on what types of actions you’re looking for. It should include a description of the main character and what they need. For example: An epic fantasy adventure about a deeply religious man who must, to save his dying sister, defy his religion and follow his faith. (23 words) Example 2: A gutsy love story about two childhood friends from a dusty, desert town who must restore a mother’s legacy before it tears them apart. (24 words)

Brainstorm plot points for your story. You need a lot of these with 2 or 3 being particularly pivotal. The first major plot point happens about a quarter of the way through your story. It drives us into the main body of the book’s drama. The mid point happens half way through the story. It serves to kick up the second act drama and keep the action moving in the body of the story. Plot point 2 happens about three quarters of the way through the story with about one quarter left. It places the character at their lowest point or performs a dramatic reversal further deepening the main character’s incline toward resolution.

Develop your beginning and ending and then describe them over and over. I advocate knowing the beginning and ending of your novel before you start writing it; particularly if you’re writing something you want someone, someday to buy. A compelling beginning hooks the reader and invites them to read the rest. An ending must be satsifying to fulfill the story’s arc of action and inspire future readers to recommend it to their friends. Repeatedly describing them during development places them firmly in your mind and helps assure that they are ever present guides as you write the body of your novel.

Write a one-page general summary. When you have your plot points, beginning, and ending play a little connect-the-dots. Have fun exploring the events that will get you from one point to the next. In your previous brainstorm of plot points you probably came up with some good ones that didn’t end up being the major pivotal ones. Flip back to those. They may just fit well on your roadmap.

When you feel ready to write a chapter summary, set a deadline. Look at you – you’ve done all this great developmental work! You are close now to being able to write a solid first draft of a manuscript. Plan on devoting a certain amount of time to briefly describe each chapter. You can do in bullet or paragraph form. Either way works. Give yourself 2-4 weeks to complete this task, no more than 30 days. This will encourage you to trust the work you’ve already done. If you are unsatisfied when you complete this. Set a new 2-4 week goal for further development and revision.

A good development phase can help substantially on the journey of taking whatever piece your passion guides you to write and make it the best it can be. I find that the more effective my process is, the more my passion has room to breathe and inspire. Good luck!