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

Character Descriptions #Writing #Author #Advice

Hey Jim,

I was just wondering how you come up with your character descriptions? I’m trying to accurately describe my character, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly how I want them to look, you know?

Thanks,
Gerraid



 

Hi Gerraid,

All too well, I’m afraid. It can be tough figuring out what your character looks like. If you create the character from scratch in your mind, it can be tough to write that person down on paper, especially if it’s a main character description where you want to go into vivid detail. So I’ll give two pieces of advice here:

Minor Characters: Give Hair and Eye color, gender, tall/short, and maybe one or two identifying marks (Scars, facial hair etc.) This is a character that you probably aren’t going to see much, so going into great detail to describe them really isn’t necessary, or even wanted in most cases.

Major/Lead Characters: Okay, here’s where you really want to go into detail, especially if you have a specific idea about what this character looks like.  So what I try to do is take the Minor Character description (see above) and find someone who resembles your description. Study them carefully and describe that person in your text. Be careful to leave out any identifying details such as specific birthmarks, tattoos, or such… unless  the person knows your using them as a template.

Let me give you an example…

In my most recent book, one of my characters is a historical person… however there are no real pictures of her that can identify her. We don’t even know her real hair color other than the fact that people nicknamed her ‘ginger.’

Well I took that nickname and the fact that she’s from Ireland and made the assumption that she had red hair. So I’ve got a redhead, presumably a ginger, which means freckles and fairly pale skin, and from both my story and her historical description, a bit of a violent side.

So I searched for a while, but couldn’t find the right person who matched this character… until I went back and re-watched a few episodes of one of my favorite shows. That’s when I saw her… a red haired bad ass who seemed to have a perpetual scowl on her face. PERFECT!
I looked up a picture of her and then described the shape of her lips, how her hair parted, the way her eyes looked, the shape of her nose, etc. I made a few edits and a few embellishments on the way, but at the end, I had my character.

Everyone has their own way and their own style and my hat goes off to those people who can just pull full character descriptions out of the air.

Anyway, I 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

Embracing the Dark Side… #Writing #Author #Advice

“Dear Jim,

I’ve been writing a novel for some time now, but it’s been a struggle. I’ve come on hard times recently with a friend. I’ve felt betrayed and hurt. The problem is that I’m afraid to write while I feel that way. I’m worried that it will affect my writing and change how the story goes. Do you think I should keep going or put it on the back burner until I feel better?

Thanks for any help you could provide,
Jaclyn.


 

Okay… well obviously you’ve got a lot you’re dealing with right now. The best thing I would do right now is find someone to talk to and get your frustrations out. If all else fails, you have my email. I’d be happy to talk to you further if you just need to vent.

Anyway to answer your question; I know a lot of people would tell you to put your writing on hold and pull yourself back together first. Get all your ducks in a row and then get back to work. It’s sound advice for certain.

That said, I’m going to break the mold here. I think you should continue writing. If there is one thing I’ve found from my writing is that striking the keys and putting emotion on paper is EXTREMELY therapeutic. You say that you feel hurt and betrayed… what would you give to be able to just put all of your inhibitions aside and let loose on the world? How grand would it be to just let everyone know how you feel and not be judged for it or have your reputation damaged?

That’s where writing comes in. Writing, like painting or sculpting, is an art form. The best art is the kind where you can feel the creator’s emotion and see their heart put into it. Now consider, what are the strongest emotions? Love is certainly one of them, as is joy, but then anger, fear, and hatred are also very powerful.

These are all human emotions, when it comes to your art, don’t fight them, embrace them! I invite you to go into a dark room some where, shut the lights out, lock the door, power up your computer, bring up your book, and let your emotions come to a head. Bring out all the anger, the hatred, the sadness, and the feelings of betrayal. Push them all to the surface and then start typing. (You may want to buy a cheap, expendable keyboard for this).

Pound away at the keys, Jaclyn. Take your characters in whatever direction your emotions take you. Don’t let up, don’t be merciful, DO IT! As a favor to me, do this. Then email me and tell me how you feel. I don’t care if you like what you’ve written, that’s what the ‘cut’ command is for, though I think you may be surprised with what you come up with. Regardless of whether or not you use what you’ve written, trust me, you’ll feel worlds better.

My other piece of advice would be to keep what you’ve written. Don’t delete it!!!!! Save it to another file if you choose not to use it and if those feelings come back to haunt you later, refer back to it. Read it again and use it as a release.

My thoughts and prayers for you today, Jaclyn. It will be all right, eventually, everything will be all right.

Best,
Jim

Readers, do you have any other words of wisdom for Jaclyn? Do you agree with my advice? Leave a comment below!


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

Off My Writing Playlist #Music #Writing #Advice

I can’t believe I’m doing this…

 

You’re a stronger person than I am if you can watch this video and still take this band seriously.All I’m going to say…

When to listen: DON’T!!!! Hahahaha Just kidding. This is a psych out song. Don’t listen to it while writing. You kind of have to watch the video to really get the full effect. It’s sort of a pallet cleanser to clear your mind (yes, it has that affect).



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

Off My Writing Playlist #Music #Writing #Advice

I can’t believe I’m doing this…

 

You’re a stronger person than I am if you can watch this video and still take this band seriously.All I’m going to say…

When to listen: DON’T!!!! Hahahaha Just kidding. This is a psych out song. Don’t listen to it while writing. You kind of have to watch the video to really get the full effect. It’s sort of a pallet cleanser to clear your mind (yes, it has that affect).



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

Off My Writing Playlist

I can’t believe I’m doing this…

 

You’re a stronger person than I am if you can watch this video and still take this band seriously. All I’m going to say…

When to listen: DON’T!!!! Hahahaha Just kidding. This is a psych out song. Don’t listen to it while writing. You kind of have to watch the video to really get the full effect. It’s sort of a pallet cleanser to clear your mind (yes, it has that affect).



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

Off My Writing Playlist

I can’t believe I’m doing this…

 

You’re a stronger person than I am if you can watch this video and still take this band seriously. All I’m going to say…

When to listen: DON’T!!!! Hahahaha Just kidding. This is a psych out song. Don’t listen to it while writing. You kind of have to watch the video to really get the full effect. It’s sort of a pallet cleanser to clear your mind (yes, it has that affect).



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

The Devil in the Pages: How to Play Devils Advocate

Hi Jim,

I saw that you give out writing advice and was hoping you could help me. See I’m taking my first shot at writing a political satire story, but am finding it increasingly difficult to write from the perspective of someone I don’t agree with. It’s getting very hard to write without sounding superficial or condescending. Do you have any suggestions?

Best-
Maria


Hi Maria,

That’s a good question and one that isn’t always easy to answer. As human beings, we all have preferences, beliefs, biases, and worldviews that are specific to us. Many of our core values and beliefs are deeply integrated into our personalities and often very difficult, if not impossible to change.

So with that in mind, how do we work through them. How do we betray our own senses and beliefs and become the devil’s advocate?
The way I see it, there are a few ways…
1. Get involved in debates. On my private facebook profile, I’ll often post a political question or issue based either on current events or something I’m writing about. My friends list is full of people from both sides of the isle… some more mature than others. Most of the time, I’ll get a couple of troll posts, as well as childish name-calling going back ad forth. However, then one or two people who are looking to have a ‘drop the mic’ moment come in with an intellectually sound, cited argument. Reading through these arguments can often give you the answer you’re looking for whether you agree with them or not.

2. Have someone else write it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with collaborating on a work with another person if you’re completely stumped. Just make sure that this other person has the maturity to post their views without going into attack mode.

3. Do a little soul-searching. This is something I typically do when I debate points. I come up with my argument and then carefully examine it to see where someone could poke a hole in it or use a piece of their own logic to refute it. In that way, you start thinking as they do and very quickly, you can form a cohesive argument.

Remember though, just because you’re writing it, doesn’t mean you agree with it. There is such a thing as playing devil advocate and its a perfectly reasonable thing to do in order to get a point across.

I remember back in college, trying to write a short story from a German soldier’s perspective during WW2. My goal was to have the soldier condemn what Hitler did, but defend WHY Germany let him come to power in the first place. This soldier wasn’t supposed to be the moral or ethical right, but I at least wanted people to know that perspective in order to gain a bigger understanding of the context behind World War 2. In the end, the soldier would be executed following the Nuremberg trials.

Well… I live in the United States. All of the known Nazis have long since been deported. Any that could still be left are likely either dead or in hiding. However… their children and grandchildren remained. Most didn’t want to talk about it, but a few were able to give me some insight into the how and why that we aren’t really taught in school.

So I was able to find some information that helped me make a decent argument.

Anyway, I hope this helps.
Readers, what do you think? Do you have any advice for Maria? Let her know in the comments.


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

 

Powering Through!

I’ve got a question about writing.
I’ve currently got a novel in the works but I am currently finding it hard to continue. How do you power through the finishing stories?

Hi Bahanehm,

Good question. I actually get asked this one quite a bit. Its a little hard to answer without knowing exactly what’s stopping you, so I’ll try to give a few general tips that have helped me in the past.
1. STOP WRITING! Don’t try to power through it because you’re not going to get very far, and trust me there is nothing worse than reading a novel that the author was clearly unenthusiastic about. Don’t… PLEASE don’t write if you’re just doing it to get it done. Your audience WILL pick up on it.
2. Reflect: What made you write this novel? What made you initially want to write it? Was it a movie you saw? A book you read? Perhaps a discussion you had with someone? Go back to whatever it was that inspired you to write and rediscover what made you do so in the first place.
3. Go do something else: Not kidding, go listen to music (I’ve posted several playlist options), go read a book, go watch a movie, or go out an experience the world. Get a refresh and then come back.
4. Reread what you already wrote: You’re going to need to do this anyway… multiple times. Go back, read, make corrections, and then try to pick up where you were.
5. Write an alternate path: Try creating a different storyline, say have your characters make different decisions and see where the story goes.
6. Write something else: Have another story in mind? Perhaps this is what’s stopping you from finishing your first one. Well, get it down on paper and then go back to your old one.
Hopefully these will help you get your mind back on track and help you start up again.
I’ll also open it up to my readers and let them offer any suggestions that they may also have. They’re usually pretty good about it.
Thanks,
Jim H.


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

Off My Writing Playlist

I can’t believe I’m doing this…

 

You’re a stronger person than I am if you can watch this video and still take this band seriously.All I’m going to say…

When to listen: DON’T!!!! Hahahaha Just kidding. This is a psych out song. Don’t listen to it while writing. You kind of have to watch the video to really get the full effect. It’s sort of a pallet cleanser to clear your mind (yes, it has that affect).



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