Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

How and Where to Find Blog Post Ideas — March 20, 2019

How and Where to Find Blog Post Ideas

blog-post-inspiration-ideas

Most bloggers, on occasions, struggle to find inspiration and ideas for posts.

It definitely helps to keep some sort of list, of potential future ideas. Most of us are guilty of trying to hold various thoughts and ideas in our memories, but this isn’t always reliable, so it’s advisable to have a back-up, of some sort.

Of course, lists are all very well, but we do need to generate the ideas, to begin with.

Some do occur to us naturally, but we can’t depend upon this, if we hope to produce regular content.

It’s also very hit or miss, in terms of how great the resulting ideas will be. They will tend to be somewhat random, which may work out well – but not necessarily.

Creative inspiration can be wonderful, but sometimes leads us to write posts that don’t actually serve our target audiences. Posts, in fact, that very few people may end up reading and appreciating – which is hardly an ideal situation.

So, if we can’t rely upon pure inspiration, how should we come up with post ideas instead?

Here are a few suggestions.

Google, Bing, and other search engines.

During the process of keyword research, I tend to naturally find many ideas for possible future posts.

If you’re not doing keyword research, or don’t have a clue what I’m even talking about, read my post on the basics of blog SEO. It contains important information, that you definitely need, as a blogger.

Reddit.

I haven’t yet figured out how to most effectively use Reddit to generate serious traffic, although I’m aware that this is possible, and many content creators are using the platform with amazing results.

But Reddit is great, for other reasons. It’s basically a huge forum, divided into infinite smaller forums, or Subreddits, as they are known.

Find Subreddits relating to your niche, and browse through the questions that are being asked. Some of these will provide you with instant blog post ideas – and ones that you already know are likely to be of interest.

Pinterest group boards are another excellent place to discover potential blog topics.

If you actively use Pinterest, you’re probably already on at least some group boards. If not, I would suggest that you join some, as they can significantly increase traffic to your blog.

It’s best to join niche specific boards – and, the very fact that these boards relate to your particular niche, means that they are highly likely to give you ideas, when you notice what other group members are Pinning.

It isn’t necessarily ideal, in every instance, to directly copy a blog post idea. Often, putting your own twist on the original idea will prove beneficial.

Pinterest, more generally, can help, but group boards in particular.

You Tube is another excellent source of blog post ideas.

For Author Bloggers, such as myself, there’s a vibrant AuthorTube community. But, whatever you blog about, there’s probably some sort of You Tube equivalent.

Of course, other blogs can also inspire you, and social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter.

And also Facebook – most particularly, if you join groups, relating to your areas of interest.

Facebook groups can be effective in a very similar way to Reddit, given that both are communities, in which questions are regularly asked and answered.

Of course, there are many more ways in which to generate blog post ideas.

Real life sources, such as talking to others, and reading books and magazines, should not be overlooked.

And, as for the internet – well, it’s a vast resource. The possibilities are endless.

Mindmaps, it’s worth noting, can be extremely useful, both to come up with, and organise, ideas and thoughts.

 

Hopefully you will find a few ways that work for you, and help you to find awesome ideas for future blog posts. At that point, the hardest part will be deciding where to start, and which posts to write first.

 

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Should Your Characters Use Swear Words? — March 12, 2019

Should Your Characters Use Swear Words?

characters-swear

Profanity. Cursing. Offensive language, of various kinds. Is it okay to include this in fiction?

Should your characters use swear words, or is it unnecessary and unacceptable for them to do so?

If you write for children, it’s advisable and ethical to avoid swear words.

YA, or Young Adult, is a somewhat different issue, and a grey area.

I write Adult Fiction, so my main focus is naturally upon books aimed at adults.

If you’re interested in the ongoing debate about swearing in YA literature, I encourage you to Google this specifically. The subject has been extensively covered, but I won’t be addressing it here, beyond this short acknowledgement of the issue.

Genre and target audience are considerations, even within Adult Fiction.

Certain genres, and types of story, are significantly more likely to include swear words.

As with so many other issues, it’s important to know your target audience, and their general preferences. This can then guide your writing and editing decisions.

In a recent post about addressing controversial subjects in fiction, I cautioned against being deliberately controversial, for mere shock value.

This advice is definitely applicable here.

Swearing is undeniably a part of real life.

But not everyone routinely swears. Some people hardly ever – or (apparently) never – swear at all.

The truth is that characters often make the decision for you – to a certain degree. Some people, and therefore also characters, are going to swear. But, even in such cases, the degree of editing that you exercise is your personal decision.

In my posts Writing Believable Dialogue and Creating Realistic Dialogue: Additional Thoughts, I discuss the fact that strong dialogue represents, as opposed to replicating, realistic conversation.

Censorship aside – you would, in general, edit dialogue to exclude anything superfluous, and therefore, many swear words will probably be shed naturally, during revisions.

Any device that is overused tends to lose its impact, and swearing is no exception.

Maybe some of your characters will swear, but others not swear at all, or very rarely.

And, if some particular characters are constantly swearing, ask yourself whether some instances can be cut. Readers get the general idea, without being bombarded by bad language.

And, if you do want to convey, at any stage, that a character is furious, via the use of strong language – well, this technique won’t be effective, if such expressions are part of the character’s regular, casual vocabulary.

If you’re personally very uncomfortable with swearing, it’s probably not advisable to include this in your stories.

There are other ways for your characters to express themselves.

But, if you do feel that swearing is something that you need or/and are content to include in your fiction, don’t feel that you can’t do so for fear of judgement.

Maybe your parents or grandparents, or the woman next-door, would be shocked – but are those people your target audience, anyway? Probably not – and, such being the case, your story is not, or should not be, being written to keep them happy.

 

Some readers will indeed slam down your book in disgust, if you include swear words.

But then again, others will slam down your book if your dialogue doesn’t ring true – and it may be that swear words are one of the many devices that would add authenticity to the dialogue. You’ve heard it before, but you honestly can’t please everyone, and shouldn’t try.

Write from the heart. With or without swear words.

 

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How To Write an Effective Plot Twist — February 21, 2019

How To Write an Effective Plot Twist

write-awesome-plot-twists

Plot twist is the term used to describe those completely unexpected turns of event, within your overall plot.

I refer to those story moments, those revelations, that literally turn reader expectations on their head.

Outside of actual spoilers, readers don’t, by definition, know exactly what’s going to happen next in your story. However, they can often guess, or at least have a general idea of what to expect.

The beauty of a plot twist is that readers don’t predict it – or, at least, shouldn’t be able to, if the twist is successfully executed.

Although I primarily discuss novel writing in my blog posts, it’s worth noting that plot twists can be extremely effective in short stories, and especially so in flash fiction.

So, does every story need to include a plot twist?

No, it’s not a requirement, and some stories function fine without a plot twist.

Genre can be a factor, as well as simply the needs of the particular story.

There are stories that do contain multiple plot twists. And some include that one killer plot twist.

Oh, and since I used the term “killer”, it seems like a good time to mention, that plot twists often do come in the form of an unexpected death.

For specific tips, relevant to killing off characters, I recommend reading my post on this subject.

Reversing character roles can often work as a plot twist. For example, the bad guy turning out to be the good guy, and vice versa.

I mentioned unreliable narrators in my POV post, and such narrators can definitely be useful, when it comes to plot twists.

Sometimes what appears to be a subplot can turn out to be more significant. This a good way to introduce a twist of some kind.

Red herrings are false clues, and it’s impossible to discuss plot twists without mentioning them.

Certainly, red herrings and dead ends do have their role, but don’t rely too heavily upon these devices, and be cautious.

If the reader feels that you haven’t “played fair”, it could leave them feeling disappointed and frustrated with your book, which is clearly not the desired effect.

When it comes to plot twists, foreshadowing is essential.

The ideal is to know your own plot twists in advance, and for this reason, it’s much more difficult to pull them off successfully as a “pantser”.

If you didn’t plan a plot twist from the start, you will need to rework earlier scenes, so that everything makes sense.

The most challenging aspect of writing a great plot twist lies in the fact that the reader shouldn’t be able to predict what is coming, and yet, it must also seem logical and believable, in retrospect.

Work on the assumption that a reader will re-read your story. In fact, if the plot twist truly leaves them reeling, this is highly likely to occur.

They should subsequently notice all the signs, the subtle foreshadowing, and be kicking themselves for not connecting the dots sooner.

“Of course! Why didn’t I see it? It’s all here.”

 

Hopefully these tips will help you to create effective plot twists in your fiction.

It’s an invaluable skill to master, when it comes to developing your writing craft. The best plot twists can leave us stunned, and are highly memorable, which is a major bonus, when it comes to gaining loyal fans, eager to devour more of our stories, in the future.

My post about how to build suspense and tension in your writing, is somewhat related, and might be of interest. 

 

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How To Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams — February 12, 2019

How To Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams

how-to-believe

This is the core message of the Paula Writes blog: Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams.

I regularly repeat and emphasize the message, through my various social media accounts.

This is intentional, because these words of positivity and hope are central to everything I do, as a writer, and as someone with an online presence. Not a huge following, by any means, but a definite online presence, which I use to reach, help, and inspire others, in any way I can.

It’s especially important to me to help those who struggle in life, including with mental and physical health issues, and in particular, those who lack support from those around them, such as family and friends, and medical services.

These people are often made to feel marginalised, excluded and invalidated, and sometimes this is actually done in a deliberate and strategic way. Society, as a whole, shuns them – or, I should say, shuns us.

There is already a Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams post on this blog, in which I discuss the philosophy. I highly recommend that you visit that post, if you haven’t already.

I felt inspired to create a How To Believe companion post, which is what you’re reading right now.

So, let’s get into the tips. Beyond the words – how do you actually believe in yourself and your dreams, for real?

Positive affirmations would be my first suggestion.

Statements that you repeat to yourself daily, either out loud or in your mind.

You can also write them down, which is powerful, in and of itself.

Affirmations are most effective when you use the present tense, stating them as what already is.

Even if you don’t entirely believe your affirmations, your subconscious mind will absorb them, without judgement. You don’t need to convince your conscious mind that the words are true, in order for them to have a subconscious impact. For those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression, and struggle with extreme self-doubt, this is good to know.

Tune out and drown out any negativity, including from any less than supportive family members.

This isn’t easy, but it’s essential. People who are dismissive of your dreams, and put you down, won’t help you to believe in yourself. To believe in your ability to achieve your goals, and make your dreams a reality.

Find sources of inspiration, such as books and specific You Tube channels, and the people you can surround yourself with who do help you to stay focused, and to keep believing.

And double down on the affirmations, because those will also help to drown out the voices of those who tell you that you can’t be successful.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Be inspired by people you admire and respect, and learn from those individuals.

But never forget that you have something unique and valuable to offer: something that only you have to give. Do you, and don’t negatively compare yourself with anyone else.

In the end, it’s a case of knowing in your heart that you do matter, and your dreams do matter.

Keep moving forward, no matter how slow progress might be at times. Pause when you need to, but don’t stop.

 

Believe in you. Keep believing. Do anything you can to remain inspired and motivated. Believe in yourself and your wildest dreams.

Write that novel, that series of novels, your poetry, or short stories. Take photos, or create awesome paintings. Whatever it is for you. Believe and act, and live life to the best of your ability, in your own incredible way.

If you’re searching for inspirational writing quotes, I’ve created a blog post, which includes a selection of my personal favourites, complete with graphics. Definitely take a look, and I would encourage you to save any quotes that particularly resonate to your Pinterest boards – if, like myself, you’re a fan of Pinterest.

 

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams – Subreddit

 

 

Increasing Your Productivity as a Writer: Some Tips — February 11, 2019

Increasing Your Productivity as a Writer: Some Tips

productivity-writers

Often, as Author Bloggers, we write the posts that we ourselves need.

It’s one thing to understand the theory behind the tips that we give. And another entirely to implement them, and do so consistently.

So, that’s the disclaimer out of the way. I’m a work in very slow progress – as is my novel. As such, I may be the best or worst person to advise on productivity.

That said, here are some ideas that will hopefully help you to increase your productivity, as a writer.

Firstly, don’t be vague.

“Write novel”, as an item on your To-Do List, sounds intimidating and overwhelming.

Be as specific as possible, when setting tasks for yourself. Break them down, and down again, until they become actionable items, that you can imagine doing.

It’s easier to know whether you’ve actually done what you set out to do, if you’re working towards a clear goal.

Eliminate distractions, whether that involves turning off the TV or disconnecting the internet.

Whatever it is for you.

Sometimes I write in notebooks. Yes, the old-fashioned paper variety. Those can’t be used to access: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube…! Basically, this could apply to any sites or apps that you might personally find distracting. You can’t access any of them through a paper notepad.

Use incentives.

Whether you prefer to use the term “reward” or “bribe” is your decision.

Either way, do it, if that’s what it takes. If it works for you, it’s worth it.

Track your time.

Identify where your time is currently being spent – and possibly wasted. That’s the first step towards changing your routine.

A system, such as Timeblocking, may then be able to help you.

Batching can help.

I hope to improve at this myself.

Task switching is a major problem for many of us, and batching is great, because similar tasks can be done together, and in advance. This definitely tends to be more efficient, and means that you spend less time chasing your tail.

So yes, definitely one for me to work on.

Finally, knowing when to stop.

I’m so bad at this one. I’m always scared to stop, once I finally get started on a particular task, for the fear that I won’t return to it.

Unfortunately, there’s substance to the fear, as many times, I don’t go back to unfinished tasks.

But binge writing sessions aren’t healthy, and can push us too far, mentally and physically.

In my own case, I neglect basic self-care, such as staying hydrated, in order to get things done, and that isn’t sustainable or sensible, as an ongoing method of working.

I’ve experimented with using timers, and hope to try this again. But the most natural way for me to approach things is the same way I’ve always done.

 

So, there you have it. I’m not a super productive writer, but would love to be. And these are my tips on increasing your productivity, as a writer.

I won’t even pretend that I’m not being hypocritical by giving advice on this subject, but hopefully, this post will help you, anyway. And we can live in hope that I will actually take at least some of my own advice.

My Writers’ Block post may be of interest.

 

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Writers’ Block: Does It Exist? — February 9, 2019

Writers’ Block: Does It Exist?

writers-block

Is Writers’ Block real, or simply an excuse for procrastination and laziness?

Yes, Writers’ Block does exist.

That’s not the answer that you’ll find on most writing blogs, but it’s my own honest answer to the question.

However, it’s not quite as simple as deciding whether Writers’ Block does exist, or does not.

And no, I’m definitely not denying that Writers’ Block has the potential to be used by writers as an excuse to procrastinate, or even be lazy.

Side note: Those two terms are not interchangeable, as procrastination occurs for many reasons, and not all of these involve laziness. My short post about procrastination, and why writers’ often avoid actually writing, touches upon this.

Writers’ Block is not a medical condition.

In that sense, it doesn’t exist. You can’t go to a doctor, be diagnosed with Writers’ Block, and come away with a prescription to cure the affliction. But we all realise that, surely?

It can occur when we’re suffering from actual mental and physical illnesses, but I’ll expand upon that, in due course.

However, Writer’s Block, in and off itself, is not a disease.

Writer’s Block is a construct.

It’s simply a way to express the problem that most, if not all, of us face as writers, at particular times.

It describes an inability to write: not in the practical, physical sense, but due to a creative block, and the words seeming not to flow.

It could be a lack of ideas and pure inspiration, or the inability to express our ideas, but the result is not writing, when writing is what we aspire to do.

Many people don’t find the concept of Writers’ Block useful.

This is a fair point. If you feel that it doesn’t help you to move forward, and prefer not to think in terms of “being blocked”, then that’s fine. In that sense, Writers’ Block doesn’t have to exist for you.

But whether you refer to any writing struggles as Writers’ Block, or by some other name, or don’t refer to them at all, you will probably continue to experience, on occasions, the same writing issues that others choose to describe as blocks.

Writers’ Block is an umbrella term.

There are so many reasons why writers can potentially struggle to write.

These include simply feeling “out of ideas”, or overwhelmed by too many ideas, and not knowing where to start.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, there will be: burnout, clinical depression and anxiety, other mental and physical health conditions, and serious personal problems, such as financial difficulties, relationship break-ups, and bereavement.

It’s beyond the scope of this post to offer solutions to Writers’ Block, but possible solutions will become clearer, when the precise causes are identified.

For a lack of ideas and inspiration, there are many simple fixes.

For some of the more complex and severe underlying causes, these simple suggestions won’t be enough. Of course, there are often multiple factors involved, and in such cases, simple ideas may be of some use, even if they don’t solve the problem entirely.

I may well address how to find ideas, and sources of inspiration, in a future post.

Tips for increasing productivity, as a writer

 

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Writing About Controversial Subjects in Your Fiction — February 6, 2019

Writing About Controversial Subjects in Your Fiction

controversial-stories

Should you address, or avoid, controversial issues, in your fiction?

I address them – always have.

And yet, I do avoid particular issues, at particular times. I actually can and do hold back, on occasions.

What is controversial, anyway?

How do you define “controversy”? What is taboo in some circles, is spoken about openly in others. And almost everything you could possibly write about, is guaranteed to offend someone out there.

But there are definitely topics which would be generally agreed to be controversial.

This post isn’t about giving examples of specific areas that might cause controversy. We could all make our own lists.

Being controversial for the sake of it?

Honestly, don’t go there. It can be hard enough to deal with the backlash when you feel deeply about an issue.

And authenticity matters. Deal with controversial issues that are important to you, rather than simply “being controversial”, which is the point at which you’re being offensive. It’s a question of being honest with yourself, about your own motivations.

That said, don’t put up and shut up.

History is full of examples of people standing up for what they truly believed in. Where would we be, if everyone kept quiet, and was afraid to express unpopular opinions, or discuss the subjects that were strictly “off limits”?

 

So, yes – controversy. It’s a fine line sometimes, but we often do need to cross that line, in our fiction. As well as in our blog posts and poetry.

I’ll continue to address what I need to address, in my own writing, and hope that my honest intentions will shine through.

I’m not always right, and I don’t pretend to be, but I have my point of view, and will express that, through my words. I encourage you to do the same.

Read my views on how mental health is generally approached in fiction – including how I personally address the subject.

And should your characters be using swear words? I’ve written a post about this specific subject, which might be of interest.

 

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Common Writing Mistakes to Avoid in Your Fiction — February 2, 2019

Common Writing Mistakes to Avoid in Your Fiction

fiction-mistakes-problems

Many mistakes that writers tend to make in their fiction are very common. I’ve already written about some of these, but thought that it would be helpful to give an overview of a few of them, in a single post.

So, here are some common writing mistakes, frequently made by fiction writers.

The primary focus here is upon mistakes often made by novelists, although some will also apply to short stories, novellas, screenplays, and so on.

Underdeveloped characters are extremely common.

No matter how amazing your plot and setting might be, you can’t afford to neglect character development.

Creating believable characters is essential.

In fact, some degree of weakness in other areas can actually be forgiven by many readers, as long as you have strong characters.

White Room Syndrome is another common writing problem.

It occurs when writers provide insufficient descriptive details of the physical locations, in which their scenes take place.

I recently wrote a post about White Room Syndrome, so I would suggest reading that, if you need more information.

Telling, instead of showing – or showing, instead of telling.

This is another subject covered in one of my recent posts. It would be hard not to have heard the standard advice: “Show, don’t tell.” It’s quoted, online and offline, everywhere that writing tips are quoted.

And yet, over-telling still remains an issue, for so many writers.

But what is less often mentioned, is that over-showing can also be a problem.

Take a look at my post about showing and telling, for more details.

Backstory overload.

Yes, backstory is important. You need to know about your characters’ histories, and the more information, the better.

But your reader probably only needs to know a tiny percentage of this background information. And modern readers are not patient.

It’s your job to weave the backstory into the main story, and keep the plot progressing, at a decent pace.

In short, don’t info dump. I address this somewhat in my post about common first chapter mistakes, since the start of a novel is often the place where info dumps tend to occur.

Descriptions involving characters looking into mirrors.

This is often seen in first person narratives, but is regularly encountered in every POV.

Of course, it’s not easy to convey physical descriptions of viewpoint characters, so a mirror can seem like a tempting option. But it’s been done to death, and tends to be the hallmark of amateur writing.

And, before you start considering alternative reflective surfaces – no, not okay.

In my first completed (shelved) novel, I had multiple viewpoint characters, but focused more so on Richard, who was basically the main viewpoint character, in a third person story.

And I cringe to remember my description of Rich, checking out his own reflection. Something about the window of Boots the chemist “doubling as a mirror” – and I even remember liking that part.

The character definitely came across as vain, which wasn’t my intention, and wasn’t appropriate.

I do discuss the subject of “descriptions via reflections”, in the post about first chapter mistakes, that I mentioned, and linked to, earlier.

Trying too hard to avoid the word “said”.

Said is far from dead, as I pointed out in my posts Writing Believable Dialogue and Creating Realistic Dialogue: Additional Thoughts.

So, please: less exclaiming, and more simple “saying”. It sounds so much better.

Similar character names.

Similar sounds. The same initials.

In the space of an entire novel with a large cast, you don’t need to take this tip to extremes, and to do so would be difficult. There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, so of course some of your characters can have names that begin with the same letter, or sound similar.

But here’s the thing: Yes, it’s realistic to have friends called Julie, Julia, Emily, Emma, and Gemma. But this is fiction, and we can make fiction less confusing than real life – so we should, for the sanity of our readers.

For more tips on naming characters, read my post on that subject.

And, still on the subject of names – be aware of the natural tendency to overuse names in dialogue.

Many, if not most, writers do this, on occasions.

It’s an issue that can easily be resolved at the editing and revision stage, however, so don’t over-think this one.

Starting your novel – or particular scenes – in the wrong place.

The most common problem is starting too early. You need to cut to the chase, and lose any boring build up elements.

The first chapter mistake post, again, does cover this subject, because it’s an issue often associated with the beginning of a story.

Unnecessary prologues or epilogues.

And, no – not all prologues or epilogues are unnecessary.

But some are.

And some aren’t, but they do become unnecessarily long. My post about epilogues should provide further clarification, and much of the advice can equally be applied to prologues.

 

Hopefully, this post provided a useful overview of many common problems, experienced by fiction writers.

I encourage you to explore the other articles mentioned, if you need additional advice on any of these common issues, and how to fix them in your writing.

 

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Social Media for Writers 2019: Author Platform Tips — January 28, 2019

Social Media for Writers 2019: Author Platform Tips

social-media-authors-2019

Most of us, as writers in 2019, recognise the need to build author platforms online. Ideally, we should aim to do so in advance of launching any books, although it doesn’t always work out that way in practice.

This post is about how I use social media as part of my own author platform, and includes tips to help you build your online presence, as a writer.

I wrote a post, in 2018, about various social media platforms that authors can use, and shared my personal experience on how to use each of these effectively, as an author. I have decided to create an updated version, which is what you’re reading right now.

Disclaimer: I’m not a social media expert. I don’t have huge followings on every site I give advice on. I wouldn’t say that I have “huge followings” anywhere, but I’m definitely more successful on some sites than others.

It’s one thing to know what could theoretically lead to success on a particular platform, but time and energy are limited.

I offer what I can, in the hope that it might be of use to other writers.

 

The question, when it comes to social media sites, is: Where do you start?

There are so many social media networks nowadays. Do you need to be on them all?

I would say, definitely not, and I have definitely been guilty of trying to be active on too many myself. I’m still trying to find the right balance, in that respect.

The reality is that there are simply so many alternatives. It’s hard to imagine anyone – who wasn’t a celebrity, with a huge following already – being successful on every platform.

And someone in that position would, almost certainly, have dedicated teams to manage their various social media channels. Hardly comparable to the position that most of us are in, when we’re just starting out.

Most of us will find our personal favourites, by trial and error. The networks that you actually enjoy are probably, on the whole, the ones to go with.

There are, however, some that do tend to be more useful for connecting with other writers, or people from particular target audiences, so it’s worth keeping those factors in mind.

I’m still in the early stages, when it comes to building my own platform, but am definitely starting to discover which platforms work for me.

Although, in this post, I’m primarily discussing social media, I should mention that it’s important to have a home base.

By this, I mean a website or blog – an online space, to direct your online traffic to, other than social media. And, no – an Amazon sales page alone isn’t sufficient.

A static website is okay, but having a blog is ideal, as you’re giving the search engines more fresh content to find. Even if you blog infrequently, it can help with your online presence.

In terms of generating blog traffic, my primary channel is definitely Pinterest, at the time of writing.

Pinterest is actually more of a visual search engine, rather than a traditional social media site.

I create multiple Pins for each image, using Canva. (Unfortunately, I’ve recently had technical issues with the free version of Canva, but that’s a whole story, in itself.)

I have created various boards, covering my subjects of interest, with the primary focus being different aspects of writing craft.

I’m also a member of four group boards, three of which are entirely writing related.

My Pinterest for Writers post gives more information about using this site, as part of your author platform.

The social media site I focus on, alongside Pinterest, is Twitter.

It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers.

It’s important to post regularly on Twitter, an intervals throughout the day, so I use Twittimer to schedule posts. The scheduling helps, although it’s vital to stop by regularly and interact in real time: daily being ideal, although not always possible.

I currently post mainly links to blog posts, and writing and inspirational quotes. Random thoughts and questions can sometimes perform well on Twitter, but keep them writing related, if that’s what your account is supposed to be about.

Use hashtags. 1 to 3 per post is the general recommendation. I currently stick with 2. 4 is borderline, but more than that, and your posts will tend to be regarded as “spammy”.

But don’t miss out by omitting tags altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend the following: #writingcommunity, #writercommunity, #writetip, #whyIwrite, #amwriting, and #writerslife.

Right now, #writingcommunity is the absolute best. If you only use one hashtag, make it that one.

For more about using Twitter as a writing platform, read my Twitter for Writers post.

Instagram

I’m using Instagram, and it definitely has an awesome writing community.

Personally, I’m finding it difficult to grow my follower numbers, and post reach is inconsistent, due to constant algorithm updates. I’m not focusing upon my numbers right now, however: more so on staying connected with the valuable community I’ve been able to build on there.

My Instagram for Writers post gives more information, which may be of interest. Incidentally, since writing that post, I’ve reduced the number of hashtags I use, as I feel that 20 or more tends to be regarded as “spammy”. I currently use roughly 8 to 12 per post, and my recommendation would be to stay within that range.

I do still post on Tumblr, but have been through the stressful experience of having my account suspended and subsequently restored, over the Christmas 2018 into New Year 2019, period.

It’s a highly visual platform, and does have a vibrant writing community. The ability to queue posts is a useful feature. More about Tumblr on my Tumblr for Writers post.

Facebook?

Well, I’ve had a surprising recent success with my 80s/90s Music page on Facebook.

I think that, at this stage, I would advise all writers to maintain at least some low level presence on Facebook, if possible. Organic post reach does tend to be very low.

When scheduling to Facebook nowadays, I definitely recommend using the native scheduler, as your post reach will be better than if you had used an external app, such as Buffer.

I have a Facebook author page, and my poetry page, Vibrant Darkness. Any page “likes” would be very much appreciated.

 

I dabble in other social media sites, such as Reddit, but I’ve learnt that you can’t be everywhere, and I often can’t cope with maintaining even my primary sites.

Blogging and SEO is a high priority for me, at the moment. And my WIP – well, it should be…!

Check out my May 2019 post, in which I honestly discuss some of the stressful aspects of blogging and social media.

 

Hopefully, this updated Social Media for Writers post will be of interest.

My old post contains different information, and I will keep it “live”, as much of it is still relevant.

But, for example, I had a section on Google Plus in that post. I discuss the planned closure of Google Plus in a post from 2018.

 

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Writing Highly Emotional Scenes, Without Melodrama — January 26, 2019

Writing Highly Emotional Scenes, Without Melodrama

emotional-scenes

How do you, as a fiction writer, convey extreme emotions, minus the melodrama?

I mean, the tears and tantrums.

They happen, right? A lot. We are discussing extreme emotions here.

Our highly emotional scenes are surely going to involve crying and screaming? Perhaps the destruction of physical objects, and even other human beings? We are talking extreme, after all.

Okay, fine – your characters can cry.

They can scream, in some circumstances. And violent outbursts might also occur. All of these things can happen in your story, and it doesn’t have to be melodramatic, as a direct result.

But let’s start with acknowledging that none of the tears and tantrums, in and of themselves, are going to make the reader care. If the reader doesn’t care, your scenes aren’t making an emotional impact, and no amount of crying and door slamming will alter that.

Oh, and incidentally, the same applies to happier emotions. So, your character is experiencing intense joy, or deep inner peace: Why should the reader care, one way or the other?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, to anyone familiar with my blog posts – strong, believable characters are truly the heart of great fiction.

If you’ve focused sufficiently on character development, your highly emotional scenes are much more likely to be effective, when they do occur.

That said, we can work on the assumption that you’ve created awesome, well-developed characters.

Conveying powerful emotions, whilst avoiding melodrama, should come relatively easily.

Here are a few specifics to look out for:

Tears.

The frequency with which tears cascade down faces.

Go easy on the “cascading”, incidentally. Overwriting in this way is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. It’s melodramatic. Any kind of cliché is likely to be an issue, or any phrase tends towards OTT and even ridiculous.

But, returning to my point about frequency, keep in mind that crying loses its impact, in general, when characters cry too often. In real life, some people do cry more than others, and some allowance can be made for this. But there are limits.

Terms such as “weeping” and “sobbing” should only ever be used when they actually describe the level of crying involved.

People seldom weep or sob, and yet, these words are too often used, by writers, apparently seeking a synonym for “crying”: quite possibly a red flag, suggesting too many instances of “crying” and “tears”. Alternative words and phrases are probably not the solution.

One more point, on the subject of crying characters: Tempted to “show” the tears – perhaps by mentioning moisture on cheeks?

I would rather read: “Lucy cried.” Show, don’t tell has its limitations, and moisture on cheeks is definitely a cliché.

If your characters tend to cry a lot, it’s often best to let them. In the first draft, that is. I personally edit out excessive tears, as part of the revision process.

Feeling Like.

That’s another thing. Admittedly, these are realistic and relatable: feeling like screaming, being on the verge of tears, or fantasizing about punching some particular person in the face. The general tendency is to Feel Like more than we actually do.

Unfortunately, if characters are described as “feeling like screaming” or “being close to tears”, we’ve heard those phrases too many times, and barely register the words any more, when we read them.

For this reason, unless you can express these in an interesting and original way, it’s probably best to go easy on the Feeling Likes.

I also look out for Character Smashing Stuff Up In Temper Syndrome.

Common in TV dramas, and many novels. And yes, I too often find my characters behaving the same way.

Honestly, do you purposely knock over and smash up your own possessions, every time you lose your temper or get upset? I don’t.

I guess it’s an obvious – too obvious – way to indicate that a character is angry or/and hurting. But really, don’t resort to this one too often. It’s not standard behaviour in real life.

Foreshadowing is particularly important, when it comes to emotional scenes.

If a character is going to die, for example, what would make that even more poignant? Even more devastating for the other characters?

Sow seeds. This is more difficult, admittedly, for “pantsers” – who write without the benefit of an outline or plot – but not impossible. Rework earlier scenes to include the necessary foreshadowing. It’s worth the effort.

 

My general conclusion here is that, even though we’re talking about how to convey overwhelming and intense emotions, we often need to be more subtle.

The most powerful, and deeply emotional, scenes are those that stay with us, forming a lasting impression. Those are the scenes that we must endeavour to create.

 

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