Category: Writing Tips


What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual pin board, created about two years ago, but recently it’s been taking off like wildfire.

If you’re anything like me, I love pin boards! A favorite recipe, a cute outfit, a great photo, we either stuff it into a drawer (never to be found again) clip it to the fridge (where it falls in-between the fridge and the cabinet) or pin it to a cork board with all the others. On Pinterest all we have to do, when we find something we’re interested in, is click the PIN IT on the bookmark bar. Then, create different boards to organize the topics, and it’s there for us when we’re ready for it. We also can share with our friends and they can share with us.

There is another side for bloggers and retailers: The pictures which get pined on any one persons’ board, once clicked, will go back to the original source. So say we saw this really cute pink dress on BFF’s board, we can click the photo and find out they sell them at Macy’s for $50.00. An even better example for someone like me, a new author, make a ‘pin’ of the novel cover and then link it back to it’s website where it can be bought or downloaded, and get your friends to re-pin it on their boards under ‘Must Reads’ or whatever title they create. You can also comment on the photo. I put the synopsis under the photo.

Here’s how to start:

1. Go to pinterest.com and ask for an invite (or find a friend on Pinterest to invite you).
2. Create your profile. (I included my novel coming out and synopsis)
3. Set up your boards (you can always add more as you go along)
4. When your given people to follow with similar interest, do it. This will give you a whole new set of ‘friends’.
5. Start pinning! (I went on Amazon.com and type in things I wanted to pin)

You can also upload photos from your computer and ‘pin’ them to your board. My novel is under production with a publisher, so I don’t have an ISBN number yet, so I download the HD Image they gave me of the cover. It’s already been repined a few times and I just started.

In a nutshell, that’s all there is too it.

Feel Free to come see me once you sign up! Don’t forget to re-pin TWISTED ROOTS. 

Shelly Goodman Wright
Author of TWISTED ROOTS, a Christian Romance/Suspense Novel coming Spring 2012
Author of The Irreversible Catastrophe of Professor Babcock in Steampunk Tales Issue 12 http://www.steampunktales.com
Contributor to Fresh Ink Magazine, Colorado Springs, Co

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FIVE PARTS TO A PLOT

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PLOT

The Plot, as defined by Wikipedia, is a literary term defined as the events that make up a story, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, in a sequence, through cause and effect, or by coincidence.  One is generally interested in how well this pattern of events accomplishes some artistic or emotional effect.  An intricate, complicated plot is called an imbroglio, but even the simplest statements of plot may include multiple inferences, as in traditional ballads.”

Okay, so now we’ve established a definition, but what does it really mean?

The plot is the story as a whole and it can be  broken down into sections.  Gustav Freytag, (1816 –1895) a German dramatist and novelist, came up with his own idea for  narrative structure.  He called it The Freytag’s pyramid and it consists of five phases.

The first phase is the exposition phase.  Here is where the characters come alive and the readers connect to them by learning about them, how they relate to each  other, their goals, and motives.  Most importantly, the reader connects to the main character, his/her goals, and the outcome if those goals are met, or not met.

The second phase is the rising action phase.  Here is where the character(s) starts on the path to achieve their goal.  This is where the conflict begins to grow, including sub-conflicts, mini plots, which can hinder, help, or both in achieving the main goal.  At the end of this phase, the character should be close to facing their problem/goal leading us up to next step.

The third phase is the climax phase.  Most of us probably already know what the climax is.  It’s that point in the story where the character(s) are close to their goal. The character can begin to see the barriers being removed (or at least easier) and is now ready to engage with the antagonist.  Then, the reader, tossed into the action, gets to see the two (or more) combat.  No clear winner is set, yet, until phase five. Both the protagonist and the antagonist then start to plan on how to win over the other for the next battle.

The fourth phase is the falling action.  I love this phase!  This is where everything goes wrong.  Our main hero makes the wrong the decision or shows flaws in his/her character.  This is where the antagonist gets the upper hand and our hero seems like he/she will never reach that goal.  The reader might even question if the hero really is the hero. However, this phase is also about tying up most of the loose ends so that when the final phase starts, the focus is on the last battle.

The fifth phase is the resolution phase.  Here is where the final conflict happens and one wins.  Which side wins, what lead up to it, why it happens that way, what it means, and what are the long-term effects.

There are other outlines and story structures on the internet.  So find what works for you.  When I looked up plot structures, this really made me think about my own writing and the areas I can go back to and touch up.

So I hope this was helpful and as always, if you have anything you would like to add, make sure to post the comments on my website directly.  This way others can also benefit from your comments.   My website gets over a hundred hits a week (wow, I know right) and most are writers looking for writing tips.

So keep on writing, editing, and reading.

Happy writing…

Shelly Goodman Wright

www.shellygoodmanwright.com

FB  Writer-Shelly Goodman Wright

FB Writer’s Critique Group

Sited http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_(narrative)

Judges of season seven “The Next Food Network Star” said goodbye to Justin D in this week’s fourth of July showdown.   The judges perplexed by his drastic change in personality felt he was the one to cut this week.   Even Guy, the guest mentor, asked him “which guy are you now?”  Although the judges took into account the food served  and his overall performance in this completion in their decision to cut him, Justin, in my opinion, was trying to please the judges the best way he knew how instead of just being himself.   He lost himself as the stakes got higher.

How many of us writers seek change after query letters go unnoticed?  How many of us get frustrated and seek out agent blogs and publisher blogs to find out what we are doing wrong?  Not to say that is a bad thing.  We should want to learn and fine-tune our skills, as long as we still keep true to why we started writing in the first place.  We get so focused on being published; we lose the passion we started with.

I think Justin lost what he loved in the competition.

So how do we lose our love of writing?  Blogging, reading others blogs, commenting on other’s blogs, marketing our blogs, facebook, myspace, twitter, and the list goes on.  Of course most of this, if not all, is important and helps build our platform—but what is more important?

Did we write today?  1600 words?  1000? 500?

There is also something else to learn from the show in general.  Justin knew his stuff, but he lacked personality.  He was not a strong character and besides the hairdo, it was hard to relate to him or even remember him.

Back to writing:  Are the characters we write strong characters?  Do our readers want to cheer our hero’s to accomplish their goals?  Are our villains hated and despised by the reader?

What reality show do you watch?  Which character do you want to win?  Which character do you want to fail? How can you apply this to your writing?      

    THE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

 I love getting questions!  The question HOW DO I FORMAT MY MANUSCRIPT for editors/publishers is one I’ve been asked more than once.  Of course, this is my first publishing deal and I know that every editor/publisher/agent will have different requirements, but there is a basic standard that helped me make the conversion process simple and it’s easy to search for. 

The basics:

  1. 1.  Set your font to New Times Roman and size 12 
  2. Set one inch margins all the way around
  3.  Set paragraphs to double space (with no extra space in-between paragraphs)
  4. Do not use all caps for emphasizing (the writing should set the tone)
  5. Do not use a bunch of returns for a new chapter to start on a new page.  Return twice, title your chapter center, return twice and begin the next chapter.
  6. For scene shifts, center XXXXX on a line by itself, with a space before and space after
  7. Internal direct thoughts should be in Italics, but don’t over use it.

            I suggest keeping your chapters in separate files when you first start writing.  It makes it easier to go back and edit work or add to chapters.  In the end, editor/publishers/agents will want this all in one file, but we have a lot more work to do before we get to that stage.  Strolling through a 1000 page document is not fun and left me frustrated.  I found separate chapters (and keeping all my drafts) was the best way to go.

            Now, I hope I’ve given some of you a jumping off point and we can all get some writing done.  It’s time to line the shelves with must reads and tales forgotten with new twists and turns.  We write because we must.  We write to unleash our souls.  We write because writing is our purpose.

Happy Writing…keep the questions coming. 

Shelly Goodman Wright

Author of A LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS a Christian Suspense/Romance novel—FEB 2012

http://www.shellygoodmanwright.com

As a writer, we all want to write something amazing.  We want the reader to fall into the world we created; to get lost in our creative mind, and to emerge with a hunger for more.  That is what every person who ever wrote anything wants:  to either entertain or enlighten.  So how to do we get to that point?  How do we make this happen?

I’ve briefly mentioned a few idea’s in previous blogs, but I’d like to go into more detail with the one thing that has been the most important in my own writing–Peer Editing.

An article on the Guilford College website explains one of the benefits of peer editing:  “The individual editors get valuable editing practice, which enables them to edit their own work better in the future. One of the best ways to improve as a writer–other than through practice, practice, practice!–is by consciously using the criteria of excellent writing to make judgments about what is good in a piece of writing and what is not and then applying those criteria to one’s own work. Thus students in writing classes that employ peer editing regularly praise the practice highly, sometimes reporting it to be a class’s most useful aspect.”  (sited on Guilford College web site:  http://www.guilford.edu/about_guilford)

Belonging to a fantastic writers group in my area (coloradospringsfictionwritersgroup.org ), I could not agree more with the article, especially the underlined sentence above.  Go back and read it again.  What does it mean to you?

When I finished my first novel, I did pass it along to a few friends to read, but having someone tell you “it’s good”, or even “great”, is not as helpful as someone pointing out tense shifts, or overused words and phrases.  Our friends may buy the books we self-publish, even suggest it to their friends, but if it’s sloppy and badly written, was it worth it?  Let’s say the writing is excellent, but your character isn’t strong enough, or your plot is weak.  That will be the lasting impression you leave on the reader’s mind and they won’t be running down to Borders to buy your new book. Peer editing will not only bring these things out in our work, but we begin to see it in other writers work—the same mistakes.  I couldn’t see the mistakes in my own writing, until I started to edit others.  Now, not only do I have feedback written on my piece, but also I’ve learned something from the editing process, helping me become a stronger writer.

There can be a few pitfalls, so before you do the internet scan for peer editing groups, we all need to remember one thing—YOU ARE THE AUTHOR!  Not everyone’s feedback is helpful, and not everyone will agree with our critique of his/her work either.  That’s okay.  In my writing group, there are about ten of us.  Some of the critiques are very similar to each other, so then I know it’s a red flag to fix.  But occasionally one person might say something that no one else agrees with.  In the end, it’s your piece, your baby.  What I ask myself before I scrap a scene or begin to re-write: “Who is it I’m reaching too?  Am I missing my target audience?” and most importantly, “Do I agree with the suggestions?”  Nine times out of ten—for me–I enjoy the critiques that tear my writing apart.  I believe my writing gets stronger because of those who aren’t afraid to say, “I just didn’t get it.”

I’ve had readers tell me that they don’t know how to critique.  They feel inadequate and “not the best person to give you a critique”.  But, I bet you if you asked them about the worst book they ever read, they could ramble off a list.  Maybe you’re one of those people and for a moment, I’m going to assume you are.  Here are some basic things I look for when I critique:

  • Read the entire piece to make sure you have a good idea of what the person submitted.  Make a mark on spots where the flow stops, or you got lost—but not much else yet.  Find the beat!
  •   Start-off with the positive/strengths and give specifics.  Ex:  You liked the premise of the piece, strong characters, good descriptions, etc.
  • From here, you can either talk about the weakness of the piece—again being specific–or go right into the line editing.
  • Line Editing–Hopefully the piece submitted or exchanged is double-space with one and a half margin for adequate comments.  This is where you note grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, below, above, or in the side margin.
  • Finish your critique again with something positive and encourage the writer.  They say half the battle in life, isn’t whether something is easy or hard, it’s your attitude about it.  Leave your writer with something they can hold on to, even if you hated it, without lying to them.  It does them no good for you to say you liked the story if you really didn’t.

These are just a few things I look for, but I do know there are other writers who critique as well and I would love to know your methods, or something I may have left out.  You can add your comments to my web site blog, www.shellygoodmanwright.com to share your strategies with other writers, including me.

Anyone can write and many do.  Unfortunately, in this self-publishing age, badly written books line the shelves everywhere you turn.  Join a group, strengthen your story, polish your writing skills, then head over to agentquery.com and begin the search.

As always, I wish you the very best of luck and happy writing!

Write Your Novel in 2011

Having a Writing Life

Two and half years ago, my life changed with a dream.  Literally—I woke up and began to write down the events of a dream.  It was not the beginning of the story, or the end, and not the high-tension action scene, just a girl torn between two immortal brothers seeking her affection.  One brother, a moral and Godly soul; the other power hungry and siding with the devil.  Oh, and the dream took place in a swamp.

That is about all I knew when I started the novel.  What swamp, what type of immortal?  That came after I did some research on swamps, anchoring my story in the Okefenoke Swamp, GA.  History is full of real events to play into your fictional world, giving your reader the believability that it could have happened.

I wrote my first draft of A LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS in thirty days.  I know, it seems impossible, but it really isn’t if you set personal daily goals and follow some simple tips I’ve learned from writer blogs.

  1.  Forget grammar!  Number one suggestion—editing is going to happen.  No one can write a novel and get it published.  Even established author’s have editors.  So allow yourself to make mistakes—write broken sentences and mess up your tense shifts—allow your soul to write and don’t hinder the story.  Then, when you have finished the novel, you will be able to really understand your characters and where they are going, making the editing process much easier.  Writing and rewriting the same chapter repeatedly only stops you from completion.
  2.  Set a realistic daily writing goal.  A typically novel is 70-100 words, so take the days you want to complete your novel in and divide the word count.  Mine was 1600 a day.
  3. Think about what motivates you to write.  Is it music?  Is it a quiet place?  Or maybe it’s sitting in a bookstore/coffee shop.  Where are you most productive?  (Where ever that might be, keep in mind your posture and sit in a good chair).
  4. Keep a notebook with you at all times.  Waiting for the oil change or for the kids to get out of school; anytime is a good time to scribble down the next part of your story. (I’ve recently acquired a net-book which fits neatly in my purse.  I wrote sitting in the dental chair before my root canal.)
  5. And every writer should always have a book on their nightstand!  Keep reading and it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the Writer’s Digest Magazine!  Chalked full of great advice and suggestions.

The next problem is being stuck and you’re not sure what to do next.  Here are a few things I’ve either done, or have heard others say worked for them.

  •  If your novel was a movie, what type of music would you hear?  Make a soundtrack for your novel.  When stuck, play the tune, close your eyes and see where it takes you.
  • Where does your novel take place?  Is it real, fiction, or fiction based on real?  Develop some physical and mental pictures of your world to help inspire what comes next.
  • Do you have a ‘bible’ journal for your characters?  I have to say, I do not.  (However, I can see for my next new novel, I should establish one.)  This includes all aspects of each character, where they are born who their parents are—what makes them who they are; whether or not you use it in the novel, it can help spark you out of a rut.
  • Another way to break out of a stuck mind, get active!  Jump on a dread-mill, take a walk around the block, get the blood flowing.

Finishing a novel is not beyond your reach!  Set your goals, follow through, and before you know it, you’ll be staring at your first complete novel.  And congradulations in advance for accomplishing what most people only talk about.

For more about me or my road to publication, you can click on my website at www.shellygoodmanwright.com  or email at swright011699@msn.com

Shelly Goodman Wright