Give Life to a Book about Life

“I am currently writing a book about my life experiences how do i give it life i currently have the bones (dates facts) but feel that it’s just a series of events how do i make it into a story? Thank you”
lostgirl82

Hi Lostgirl82

Have you thought about writing it in the present tense in first person? If it’s something you experienced, then you should be able to write about what you were thinking at key points, how you felt, what was going on around you, etc.

Honestly, everyone has their own writing style, and you can certainly do it however you want, but in terms of writing about life experiences, this is one of the best ways: “So I’m here in the woods with my friends at the camp site. It’s beyond cold out as we sit on the snow-covered ground on the side of Mt. Jefferson. The chills running down my spine are like little needles jabbing me in the back as I begin to wonder how much more of this I can take. It’s at this moment that my friend hands me his bottle of Jim Bean, telling me it would keep me warm as they get the fire going. I take a sip. The hard liquid makes my throat clench and burns on the way down, but at least I don’t feel as cold anymore.”

Now I know that there are a lot of people who don’t want to name names and don’t feel comfortable doing something like this. So really your other option is to create a ‘you’ character and have that character deal with the same experiences. Granted, this would mean turning a work of non-fiction into fiction, but a lot of people prefer it this way.
Either way, be sure to add description and comparisons. Make people feel like they’re there with you. Describe your feelings at different times. The example of what the chills felt like is powerful because it’s something most people have felt at one time or another. Don’t be afraid to expand a little bit too.

There is no rule against adding a little fluff or interpretation to your writing. Put in how you think the people around you are feeling about the interactions you have with them. Once it’s done, be sure to reread it a few times and make sure that it makes sense to you. Remember, it’s not hard facts that people fall in love with when it comes to reading, it’s usually emotion.

I hope this helps.

Readers, what advice to you have to give? Is there anything you would recommend she do to give her story more life?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me. jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance. Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side! -Jim

Cover Inspiration

“Hi Jim,

I was just wondering, Divinity’s cover looks really cool! May I ask where you get the ideas for yours? Like what makes you choose one scene in your writings over another? I want to create an awesome cover for my story and was hoping that you could point me in the right direction.”
-Abby

Hi Abby,

I’m afraid that you caught me…

The truth of the matter is that I actually put very little thought into my covers. Put it this way, take a look at my first cover, Magnifica: The Last Enchanter. Then compare it to the next one and the one after that. See how things start to change and improve?
Now this isn’t a strike against my cover artist, so please don’t take it as such. When I first started out, I told my artists exactly what I wanted and how I wanted things. I left virtually no room for creativity on their part… that was a mistake. The artists I went with did exactly what I asked of them and did a very beautiful job, by the way, I’d rehire either of them in a heartbeat.
However, when we got to Magnifica: Gravestalker, a friend recommended an artist to me who had done many of his band’s posters.
When I approached him about doing the cover and told him what the book was about, he started coming up with ideas before I had a chance to lay down any real guidelines. I did get to tell him what I wanted, but in addition to that, he showed me a few other ideas he’d had on the side. Before I knew what was happening, my original idea was all but gone. I’m not complaining, mind you, he taught me a lesson that day.
From then on, whenever I hire an artist, be it for comic art, or the a fore mentioned cover artist I give them free reign. All my cover artist asks me to do is give him a few chapters with key plot points to work with. He does the rest.

This is perhaps the best advice I can give you; hire an artist, tell him what your book is about, let him read segments of it to get an idea for himself, but other than that LET THE MAN OR WOMAN DO HIS WORK! That’s what they’re being paid for. Creativity is a big part of being an artist and the more creative freedom you give them, the better the results. Divinity is a perfect example of this. I let Brett do whatever he wanted. We’d worked together, I knew and trusted him, and frankly, I was thrilled with the results.

I hope this helps.
Readers, do you have other experiences with artists that you would like to share to help Abby? (Good or bad) or any hurdles you’ve had to overcome? Please leave a comment below.

Abby- If you’re looking for a good artist, any of the ones who did my covers are awesome and any would probably love to take on your project. You can find more info about them here.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Levying Criticism #Writing #Author #Advice

So I’ve gotten this question a lot ever since I posted my piece of how to handle criticism. From people wondering how to write criticism without insulting the creator or their work.

The best I can offer in the way of advice is to just be respectful, be constructive, and avoid hyperbole.

For example:

“This book sucks!” <This is not constructive.

“I didn’t care for this book.” <More polite, but still not constructive.

“I didn’t like this book. I felt it was far too drawn out. The story would have been good, but the writer spent too much time on physical descriptions and alteration that it took me right out of the story.” < DING DING DING DING!!! This is exactly what you want.

“I liked the story, but was really turned off when the writer took his main character out of the story to go on a political tirade. It just really didn’t seem like it was part of the story or had any relevance. Had he left this out, it would have been a decent story.” < (Looking at you Marvel) This is also constructive.

So that’s pretty much how to do it. Be courteous, be constructive. Say what you didn’t like, why you didn’t like it, and what you might suggest for future writing .

Jim, I followed your advice and got a very harshly worded response from the creator. 

Ugh, yes this will happen from time to time. Not everyone is going to agree with you or appreciate your opinion. Basically they just want positive comments, they want yes men and nothing else. Honestly, don’t worry about these people. They are the ones with the problem, not you.

Hope this helps. Readers, please let me know below if you think there’s more we can do or if my advice is missing something.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have multiple published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Writing’s Most Difficult Aspect #Writing #Author #Advice

“I’m curious, but what have you found one of the most difficult things that comes with writing?”

-Steven Capps


Hi Steven,

There are a lot of hurdles to overcome in writing… a lot. This is just me personally, but the hardest thing for writing is finding the time to write and then pulling myself away from the keyboard when I need to. It is so hard when the ideas are flowing like a waterfall and you want to get everything down before you miss something. The problem is that life get’s in the way and for people, like myself, that have other jobs, families, and other responsibilities, we don’t always have the time to write. The result usually being that we lose a few of those great ideas. At this point, the only advice I can offer is to not let it get you down. You came up with one good idea, you’ll have another one soon.

Hope this helps!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have multiple published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Classic Cameos #Writing #Author #Advice

“Hi Jim,

I’m currently writing a story dealing with fantasy characters. I wanted to include a couple of classical fantasy characters in my story. I was wondering if you had any advice about how to go about this? I don’t want to get sued by their owners.

Thanks,
Jeremy J.”

Hi Jeremy,

Hi Jeremy, by classical, I assume you’re talking about the creative works of people like the Brother’s Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, etc?

If so, you’re in luck, most of those characters fall under public domain.

“Works in the public domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable.” Wiki

The standard rule, at least in the United States, is that pre-1923 works are in the public domain. This is… mostly correct, however, determining whether a work has entered the public domain or is still under copyright can be a lot more difficult than this, mostly because copyright terms have been extended multiple times and in different ways. At first, it was a fixed term based on the year of publication with a renewal term, to a term extending to fifty to seventy years after the death of the author. So the claim above is correct FOR PUBLISHED WORKS. Unpublished works fall under Federal Copyright laws and extend to the life of the author + 70 years.

This can differ in other countries, so check your local copyright laws or, as always, consult and attorney.

The best advice I would give is to read the stories that surround the characters thoroughly. I say this because most of those classical characters have been used in movies by Disney or have been adapted and rewritten in other versions. DO NOT JUST USE THE NAMES AND ATTRIBUTES YOU KNOW THE MOST!! I can’t stress that enough.
Why? Because if were to put the dwarves from Snow White into the story and use the names from Disney (Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey), you will get sued. Those names are not original to the story and are the intellectual property of the Disney Corporation.

Like I said, know your story, know your characters and know what you’re writing. Often times, taking a little creative license with these characters is not only warranted, but 100% necessary to keep the work from treading into intellectual property waters.

Lastly, please remember, I am not an attorney. I have studied the laws, having been published myself, but even I don’t know all of the nuances. My words are for advice purposes only. If you find yourself in a bit of gray area, PLEASE consult an attorney. A little money now is a lot better than being sued for a lot later and I take no responsibility if don’t.

Any thoughts from the reader base? Further advice for Jeremy?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have multiple published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Contractions Too Informal? #Writing #Author #Advice

“Hi Jim,

I was just wondering what your thoughts were on using contractions in narration, for example having the narrator say ‘He wasn’t sure’ instead of ‘He was not sure’. I’ve been told that it’s too informal, and sounds too much like speaking, especially when the narration isn’t in the first person. (There is, of course, always the rather sneaky thing of getting rid of them to increase your word count.) I’ve always used them, but ever since getting that piece of advice, I’ve been wondering whether or not they do take something away from my writing and should only be reserved for dialogue.
What do you think?
Thanks,
Ellen”
Hi Ellen,
Welcome to the writer’s blog. Unfortunately, you’ve hit on one topic that has been a source of controversy since people started writing books. Both sides are right in their own way and both sides are also abjectly wrong. There is no rule governing what’s right and wrong in terms of writing. One person may be turned off by contractions while someone else might think they’re better because they’re less wordy and sound less formal.
I can’t give you the be all, end all answer, as much as I’d like to, but here’s my take on it:
What are you writing?
I ask because this is where it might matter.
If you’re writing a formal piece like a textbook, a thesis, or a scientific paper, I’d say yes. You’d absolutely want to forgo using contractions. That is a formal piece and you want it to sound as scholarly as possible. Contractions simply don’t fit the bill here.
If, however, you’re writing a story, say a piece of fiction, I’d argue that it’s important to connect with your readers on their level. Write in a way they’re used to talking and it’ll be easier for them to read.
Look back on some of the great ‘unedited’ works of old. Mark Twain, for example. He wrote in a way people back then spoke. Today, many people consider his writings racist, but the truth is that he was writing for his time in English that was considered ‘modern’ at the time. Honestly, it’s how I write. If your audience speaks modern English and uses the same idioms,  they’ll have an easier time reading your work.
Now keep in mind… this is not clearance to write like your average texting teenager. When I was a history teacher, I gave no quarter to anyone who wrote ‘2night in da newz’ or ‘u r ther.’ That’s just… well that’s not even English, it’s just laziness.
So in summation, I’d say it depends on what you’re writing. If it’s something formal, scholarly or scientific in nature, I’d say your advisory is correct. Contractions aren’t professional looking or proper. If you’re doing something that’ more intended as a casual read, then by all means use contractions and terminology that people use in every day life.

Hope this helps.

Readers, what do you think? Should Ellen stick to more traditional styles of writing or adopt a more contemporary form?

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Opinion vs. Fact #Writing #Author #Advice

So recently I’ve come across many blogs and other writings that are attempting to pass off their opinion as fact. Several different subjects have come up pertaining to politics, nutrition, etc.

In my writing, I feel it’s always important to distinguish between the two. If I’m sighting fact, I’ll give a source and say it’s a fact. If I’m giving an opinion, I’ll make sure that’s known (look back at some of my other posts). However I’ve seen too many times that people attempt to (either deliberately or unknowingly) pass off their own perceptions as fact. In books and stories, I’ve seen it as well.

Now, for the most part, if you point out that these people could be wrong, or just flat-out are, they’re happy to debate your points with their own. In many cases they either didn’t know, or were getting their info from a bad source, or didn’t mean to pass their opinion off as fact. So you’ll often get a polite thank you…

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. A growing trend these days are the graduates of ‘Google University’ who are extremely partisan in their beliefs and don’t want to hear that their facts aren’t always facts. With these people, the best advice I can give is to ask for their credentials or their source of info, if all they provide you with in return is childish insults, block you, or a long misogyny-laden string of nonsense, then move along. PLEASE. Don’t give these people attention, and they’ll go away.

To those of you who write opinion pieces or factual ones, please make sure your readers know what you’re going for. Cite sources for facts whenever you can, and make sure your sources are legit (Partisan blog postings from people who get their info from other partisan sites are NOT legitimate sources. Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN are not legitimate sources… most of the time. A simple YouTube search will prove that.)

Now take what I’m saying at face value. My blog is advice on the philosophies of writing, so there are no right or wrong answers for the most part. It’s really your own style, I’m just trying to relay the secrets of what success I’ve had in the hopes that it’ll help others. If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine, but don’t take what others tell you as fact. Do the research yourself. Check government websites, actual studies from universities, etc. It will take longer, but your facts will be less likely to be attacked and you’ll actually learn something. News agencies are usually second-hand sources.

The more people realize this and start doing the footwork themselves, the better off everyone is.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

How Far is Too Far? #Writing #Author #Advice

“Hey, I’m curious… I’m starting a new story and I was wondering how far you can take things? Like do you have any opinion on how dark you make subjects? Would you write about murder, rape, torture, etc, and would you limit how much detail or what goes on? At what point does it go too far?”
-(Asked to remain anonymous)

Well reader, it really depends…

(I actually sat staring at the screen for 10 minutes trying to figure out what to write.)

I’m sorry reader… I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’m neither saintly nor scholarly enough to make the determination on what’s going too far, nor would I want the job if I were. Honestly, I’m not sure there is an answer. There really isn’t a rule for that.

Given today’s society and what modern literature is, it seems that the level of sadistic themes and neurotic narcissism throughout keeps getting pushed. As I said in a previous thread, being edgy sells. So if you want to write about someone being tortured and feel the need to drag your reader through every single cut, every drip of blood, every… well all power to you.

That said, there should be a few guidelines. Firstly, refer to topic on Writing Characters You Hate and make sure you’re being edgy for the right reasons. Second look at your target audience. If you’re going with the young adult readers, it’s probably advisable to stay away from anything too edgy.

After that, it really depends on you. In Magnifica wrote about racism and a character being tormented and nearly raped because of that character’s race, but my main character stepped in before it happened. I was willing to bring up and examine the topic, but I saw no need to take it any further. For you, perhaps violence will be a pathway to realism depending on what you’re writing about.

So that’s it. That’s really all I can say, your only limits are how far you’re willing to go and what your readers can stomach. The only piece of advice I can offer is that you ask yourself why. Why am I making this gory, violent, or sadistic? Is it necessary and will it make the story more captivating? If the answer is yes, then have at it. If not, then perhaps a little more thought to the makeup of the story is in order.

Anyway, I hope that was helpful and good luck on your endeavor. I hope to see it in print soon!

What does everyone else think? Should he limit himself, and if so, by what standard?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

How Far is Too Far? #Writing #Author #Advice

“Hey, I’m curious… I’m starting a new story and I was wondering how far you can take things? Like do you have any opinion on how dark you make subjects? Would you write about murder, rape, torture, etc, and would you limit how much detail or what goes on? At what point does it go too far?”
-(Asked to remain anonymous)

Well reader, it really depends…

(I actually sat staring at the screen for 10 minutes trying to figure out what to write.)

I’m sorry reader… I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’m neither saintly nor scholarly enough to make the determination on what’s going too far, nor would I want the job if I were. Honestly, I’m not sure there is an answer. There really isn’t a rule for that.

Given today’s society and what modern literature is, it seems that the level of sadistic themes and neurotic narcissism throughout keeps getting pushed. As I said in a previous thread, being edgy sells. So if you want to write about someone being tortured and feel the need to drag your reader through every single cut, every drip of blood, every… well all power to you.

That said, there should be a few guidelines. Firstly, refer to topic on Writing Characters You Hate and make sure you’re being edgy for the right reasons. Second look at your target audience. If you’re going with the young adult readers, it’s probably advisable to stay away from anything too edgy.

After that, it really depends on you. In Magnifica wrote about racism and a character being tormented and nearly raped because of that character’s race, but my main character stepped in before it happened. I was willing to bring up and examine the topic, but I saw no need to take it any further. For you, perhaps violence will be a pathway to realism depending on what you’re writing about.

So that’s it. That’s really all I can say, your only limits are how far you’re willing to go and what your readers can stomach. The only piece of advice I can offer is that you ask yourself why. Why am I making this gory, violent, or sadistic? Is it necessary and will it make the story more captivating? If the answer is yes, then have at it. If not, then perhaps a little more thought to the makeup of the story is in order.

Anyway, I hope that was helpful and good luck on your endeavor. I hope to see it in print soon!

What does everyone else think? Should he limit himself, and if so, by what standard?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

Minimalist vs. Ornate? #Writing #Author #Advice

“Hi Jim,

My book is done. I’m super excited about getting it published. My question to you is about the cover. What do you think I should go with, a simple cover with maybe a single item as the focal point or a big cover depicting a scene and characters? My artist is really pushing the idea that less is more in the cover.

Thanks,
Reese.”

Hi Reese,

I’m afraid you’ve got me there. I’ve honestly done both and seen success with both. Both covers can attract attention, but they’ll do it in different ways.

The best piece of advice I can give is to go with what feels right, but more importantly, let your artist’s imagination fly. That being said, if you’ve got an artist wanting to go minimalist, take a look at their other work and see how they’ve made either style work. If you like how they’ve done it with work in the past and you’re okay with a minimalist cover, then by all means go with it.

If you want a detailed cover with more intricacy, tell the artist that and have them create something great. In the end, it’s really up to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When you hire an artist, YOU are the boss. You tell them what you want.

Now I’ve seen a lot of covers done both ways and all I can tell you is that you’ll want an attractive cover. You want something that will catch people’s eyes and while a minimalist cover can do that, it’s harder to do in many ways.

The other thing you want to look out for, in this case with an ornate cover is too much detail. If there’s too much going on, your going to make potential readers eyes hurt and they will pass over your book.

I wish I could help you more, but really this is a matter of taste and opinion and I’ve heard arguments on both sides. So whatever you choose, make sure it’s done well.

Readers, what do you think? Which way do you think she should go?


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim