Posts Tagged With: for writers

6 Easy Steps to Writing Unforgettable Characters

Salem - A Kiss Before Doomsday

This is Salem, one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Dru Jasper series. Whatever you do, don’t make fun of his hat.

Every writer knows that creating interesting characters is one of the toughest parts of the job.

I don’t feel like an expert on characters by any means, but RT Book Reviews said this about my latest book: “MacNaughton has a real gift for developing quirky and crazy characters.”

Nice to hear, but I’ll tell you: it’s not really a gift. Nobody is born knowing how to write great characters. It’s a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned.

Want to know how I do it? I’ve laid out how to create your own characters, step-by-step.

You can read it here on Fiction University.

What elements of writing do you struggle with? Leave me a comment below.

Want more useful writing tips? Subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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New Author Interview on Blog Talk Radio

Wooden Pants - Daily Author podcastThe Daily Author turned out to be one of my favorite live interviews ever. Richard and I got into some pretty in-depth discussions about:

• What it takes to overcome creative anxiety
• Connecting with your creative support network
• The importance of knowing good advice from bad
• Independent vs. traditional publishing – there is a third way
• The long journey from freelancer to author
• And much, much more!

Plus, I’m doing a special giveaway just for podcast listeners. Listen here.

Don’t forget to subscribe for bonus content and an extra chance to win. >

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Storytelling Made Easy (Even If You’re Not a Writer)

Storytelling Made Easy by Michael Hauge

Expert storytelling advice for business leaders. Or anyone, really.

If you think about it, storytelling is a skill we all use every day. We tell stories at the water cooler, in meeting rooms, in social media, and around the dinner table.

Knowing how to tell a great story helps you communicate, do better in business, and be more fun at parties.

Think you’re no good at telling stories? You can be, if you want, for just $1. (More on that in a moment.)

Storytelling is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned. Just ask Michael Hauge.

The guy is a storytelling genius. He’s not only a best-selling author, he’s also one of Hollywood’s top story experts. He’s worked on projects starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, and Morgan Freeman. He’s given lectures and workshops on storytelling to more than 80,000 people worldwide.

He knows what he’s talking about. And he can teach you how to tell stories.

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How to Get the Book Cover You Really Want

I don’t know about other authors, but for me the moment when a book becomes “real” (and not just a story floating around in my imagination) is when I see the artwork for the book cover.

Ever wondered what the book cover process looks like from the author’s perspective?

It starts with cover concepts from the editor.

akbd2Last fall, while I was still writing the manuscript, my editor sent me two variations of the cover and asked for my opinion.

They had decided that in this book, only Dru should be on the cover, not Greyson. (If you haven’t already read Book 1, I won’t spoil the end for you, but I will say this: it’s not exactly a Disney ending for our guy Greyson.)

However, they did want to imply that Hellbringer is back on the road by including tire tracks. And not just ordinary mortal tire tracks, but glowing red tire tracks of doom. Oh yeah!

akbd1(If you haven’t read Book 1 yet, Hellbringer is a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona possessed by a literal speed demon. Which leads to the most “hellish” car chases ever.)

The biggest thing I love about these cover concepts is Dru’s new sassy silhouette. Also, I love the magical sparkles and cryptic circles floating around her. They add a fun comic-book feel that just screams “MAGIC!”

Uh oh. Problem…

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Should You Self-Publish Your Novel?

Ginormous Library

If you squint really hard, you can almost see my books … Oh wait, no, that’s James Patterson.

Which is better, self-publishing or a traditional publishing deal?

If you’re a hands-on, DIY type of person with an entrepreneurial mindset, then you might be better suited to self-publishing. If you’d rather focus on the writing and not deal with the rest of it, you might prefer traditional publishing.

I’ve done both. Here’s the truth: there are benefits and drawbacks to both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

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How I Make a Living as a Writer (And You Can Too)

Make a living writing

Copywriting for fun and profit. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

I’m proud to say I’ve built a full-time career around writing, as both a novelist and a copywriter.

That means splitting my time between the two. Usually I spend the morning writing novels, then spend the afternoon writing marketing and advertising copy for business clients.

(“Copy” is just fancy ad agency shorthand for “words that sell stuff.”)

I’m not alone. There have been innumerable examples of copywriters who also successfully wrote fiction. James Patterson, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Heller, and Dorothy Sayers, to name a few.

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How to Plan and Write A Novel

non-English typewriter

Think Microsoft Word is a pain to use? Try cranking out 100K on this sucker.

I’m often asked what my writing process looks like.

How do I write a book? It’s pretty simple, actually.

(Not easy. But simple.)

First, I start with the basics:

  • Who are the good guys?
  • What are they trying to do?
  • And, especially, why?
  • Who are the bad guys?
  • Where does this take place?

Then I boil all of that down into a strong core idea. For example: a bookish crystal shop owner has to save the world from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who drive possessed muscle cars.

The idea has to work at the core level, it has to really grab me, before I start writing it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Then I figure out how to make the whole book work, beginning to end, in a short synopsis. Maybe one page. That takes time. And even once I have that figured out, I don’t start writing it yet.

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How to Make Writing Your Career: Word Cafe Interview with Yours Truly

Word Cafe author interview

Just for the record, the lace doilies were not my idea. Now you know.

Hey, this is cool. Join me over at Word Cafe for an interview where I reveal everything I know about:

• Building a full-time career around writing, as a novelist and a copywriter — and what a copywriter does, exactly.

• How my first book from a New York publisher actually started out as a short story — and how I grew it into a novel.

• The pros and cons of being a hybrid author (both traditionally published and self-published).

• What my fiction writing process looks like. (It’s both crazier and more straightforward than you might think).

• And, of course, my top piece of advice for writers.

Read the complete interview here. >

P.S. Also, I’m giving away a few autographed paperback books to my newsletter subscribers. Don’t miss out. Click here to subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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How to Never Get Writer’s Block. Ever.

writers block

Writer’s block(s). Get it? … Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Let me tell you the secret to getting rid of writer’s block forever.

I’ll admit, I’ve certainly had days where I feel like I don’t know what to write, or I worry that everything I write is terrible.

Some people call that writer’s block. I call it “Monday.” :-)

But seriously, what most people call “writer’s block” is an insidious combination of those two problems.

Problem #1: Not knowing what to write. Continue reading

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The #1 Weirdest Thing about Writing a Book Series (and It’s Not What You Think)

Greyson Carter - It Happened One Doomsday

Greyson Carter. Restores old cars. Rescues stray animals. Often forgets to shave. Happens to be cursed to bring about the end of the world.

In my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series, one of my lead characters is Greyson, a half-demon mechanic with a possessed muscle car.

He’s your archetypal tough guy. He always wears a black leather jacket and aviator sunglasses.

Which is cool. Right up until the moment the leather jacket gets destroyed.

Torched by magic. Slashed by an evil monster. Burst apart at the seams as Greyson himself is transformed into a hulking evil creature by the forces of darkness.

This causes a major wardrobe problem.

Because what is he going to wear now?

Does he run around half-naked? Borrow someone else’s shirt? Go shopping for a new leather jacket?

When you write a standalone short story or novel, you can pretty much do anything you want with the characters without worrying about how that impacts the story in the future. Because there is no future.

But when you write a book series, that all changes. Bizarre things start happening.

Suddenly you start worrying about continuity like you never have before. Little creative decisions that you make on the spur of the moment can have a ripple effect that impacts the story in every book to come.

It’s silly to think that losing a leather jacket in Book 1 turns out to be a real headache in Book 2, but it’s true.

In the movie The Last Action Hero, there’s a funny moment when Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up a closet and it’s packed with nothing but identical leather jackets. Because that’s all his character ever wears.

Such an elegant solution.

How did I eventually solve my problem? Greyson spends a good chunk of the book without a shirt, which leads to so many great moments: funny, sexy, awkward, but mostly a lot of fun.

Now, it’s too soon for me to reveal how I solved the wardrobe conundrum in Book 2. But I had to figure out a convincing way to get a half-naked Greyson back into his signature leather jacket and sunglasses — fast.

Trust me, it wasn’t easy. But it was pretty amusing.

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