If you’ve been hiding under a rock or been away in outer space, you may have missed that last year I launched my own author site for my novel writing at www.lucyvhayauthor.com!

I decided to combine my love of movies AND books and create a ‘Book Versus Film’ feature over there … So far we’ve had some BRILLIANT case studies and some surprising conclusions, written by moi and some other excellent contributors. If you want to read them, CLICK HERE.

Don’t forget to follow me as @LucyVHayAuthor on Twitter for interviews with crime writers, reading recommendations and round ups of reading-related products and other fun stuff. You can also join my ‘Criminally Good Book Club’ HERE for first notification of my novel news as well as giveaways.

By the way, if you want to write a ‘Book Versus Film’ for the site, you can find the details HERE. Look forward to hearing from you! Enjoy …

DON’T FORGET:

You can sign up for The Criminally Good Book Club, HERE.

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Aspiring Writer_B2W

It’s no secret writers need a way to stand out on all of their platforms. We only have a few seconds to convince readers to stay engaged, or they will find something else to occupy their minds.

One way to do this is create a compelling bio. It’s worth your time to craft an amazing bio, instead of just throwing one together, because your bio can help you gain more fans on so many different platforms!

Bios can be found on your website, your twitter profile, your Amazon book pages, your Amazon author page, your Facebook profile and pages, on blog posts if you’re guest posting, pretty much wherever people can find you or your writing needs a compelling and catchy biography.

Your bio should not be a shortened memoir. You need to put some serious thought into these 10 tips to create a short and sweet bio that represents you and resonates with the right people –your future fans!

1. Know what you write about

Whether you are a screenwriter or novelist, the first step to creating your online brand and finding your fans is to know what it is you write about. Among all the creative work out there, where does your writing fit in?

2. Know who you write for

Similarly, you need to be clear who you write for. Who are those people who are most likely to not just like, but LOVE, what you have to share with the world? Will those people want to know that you’re a credible expert in your area? Or will they be drawn to your spunky personality or unique viewpoint?

3. Keep it short

It will take effort and practice, but aim to include the most important information about you and your work in 75 words. The agreed upon best practice is a max of 150 words, so you have some wiggle room, but keep narrowing down to the most important details to keep it concise. Most people don’t want to read seven paragraphs of text.

4. Know which personality and tone fits

Keep your personality for your bio consistent with your work. If you write comedy screenplays, add a humorous tone to your bios. If you’re a thriller writer, incorporate suspense. Keep everything about the work you’re promoting and your bio united to create a memorable author brand.

5. Have a punchy, attention-grabbing intro

You may only have your first sentence to grab a reader’s attention, so make it punchy, like Lucy’s: “Straight talking script editor with an eye for structure. You know what you’re going to get there. If you’re interested in a no-BS script editor, then you’ll probably poke around to learn more. If you’re not, then you know right away you’re not in the right place.

B2w_Marilyn Monroe

6. Use third person

It might be awkward, but it’s best to write in the third person when writing anything, “About the Author.” Everyone knows you wrote it, but it sounds weird (and a little conceited) if you write I did this and I did that…

7. You are not an “aspiring writer”!

This one’s simple: do NOT include the words “aspiring writer” anywhere on your website, profiles, or bios. If you are writing, you ARE a writer.

8. Establish credibility, but don’t overly brag

Don’t be shy here. Unless you’re a household name, you need to tell people why they should read/watch/buy your creation over the millions of others. If you won an award or were featured in a bestseller list, share that! These things help people begin to trust you.

9. Use it to connect

Use your bio to share more about you and your work, as well as where people can connect with you. A bio on your website can include your social media links, while a bio on your social media profile should include your website. That way, wherever people happen to find you, they know where else you mingle online.

10. Finish with a call to action

At the end of your bio, tell readers what to do next. What do you hope readers will do? Buy your book? Visit your website? Follow you on social media? Finish with a specific call to action to help people stay engaged with you and your work, so they turn from your readers into your fans.

Here are some of my favorite  that model many of these tips for creating a bio that turns readers into your fans.

BIO: When Dave Chesson is not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, he’s a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut. Dave teaches authors advanced book marketing tactics at Kindlepreneur.com.

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9780857301178‘How to write diverse characters’ gets a whopping 13+million results on Google. Wow! This is why I’m currently writing a new writing book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, Film and TV for Oldcastle Books, which is out September 2017.

But seriously, where do we start?!!

As any long term Bang2writer knows, I’m not a big fan of tests and whatnot. For me, story is king (or queen!) and if drama is conflict (and it is!), then box-ticking should NOT be on the agenda.

That said, for those writers who’ve never thought about diversity or representation and the challenges it can bring to writing before (especially for specific groups), then tests may become relevant as starting points we can consider.

Links & Tests

So,maybe the various tests, pledges and resolutions below will be illuminating, maybe they will be common sense. Like I said, they’re a starting point. Check ’em out after the jump. Good luck!

Stop saying ‘diversity’. Start writing VARIETY!

The 1 Gender Swap That Could Make All The Difference In Your Story

Top 5 Diversity Mistakes Writers Make

Top 7 Things Writers Can Do To Improve Diversity & Inclusion

12 Character Archetypes And How To Use Them

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The Bechdel Test

Sometimes called the Bechdel-Wallace Test, this asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women or girls who talk to each other about something other than a man or boy. The requirement that the two women or girls must be named is sometimes added.

As I’ve written before, I think The Bechdel Test is limited – ironically – because it is so broad. That said, again it’s a great starting point for those writers who’ve never considered the fact that we nearly always see stories from the male POV.

The Racial Bechdel Test

The Racial Bechdel Test does the same as above, but stipulates instead that there must be more than one character of colour; and/or at least two characters of colour must have a conversation which has to be about something other than a white person.

Sometimes, The Racial Bechdel Test says instead there should be: 

a) two main characters who are people of colour

b) talk to each other without

c) mentioning race.

Whichever a writer chooses, this one can serve as a reminder for writers that white people are not the be-all and end-all of story worlds.

Disability Bechdel Test

There doesn’t seem to be an ‘accepted’ version of this test, which says a lot. There’s lots of proposed versions however and most of them make points about how disabled characters are too often tragic or inspiring (or both). Obviously drama is conflict (so therefore struggle is part of that), but where are the ‘feelgood’ stories involving disabled characters?

a) There (is) a major named character with a disability in the movie who exists and takes action under personal motivation without needing approval from others.

b) And who comments on disability as a real experience – not an ennobling one, not one of pity, or one as comic relief.

c) And who isn’t smothered with a pillow or done away for their own good.

More potential versions of this one, HERE.

The Russo Test 

This is one of the few tests advocated specifically by an organisation, in this case GLAAD – The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The Russo Test takes its lead from The Bechdel Test, but provides more context not only for LGBT characters, but their actual placement in the plot. I actually think this version is pretty good and offers up some good guidelines for writers.

1) The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).

2) That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another).

3) The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline; the character should matter.

The Neon Test

I also found this version, specifically for transgender characters, which is called after the blog that posed this version.

Taking its lead very obviously from the Bechtel Test, it nevertheless makes a great point that trans characters too often exist solely on either end of extreme scales (comedy/tragedy) in terms of narrative.

The Neon Test proposes that a work must feature a character whom:

a) the audience knows is trans

b) In a non-principal role

c) Where their trans status is neither the source of comedy nor tragedy

HERE is where I found The Neon Test.

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Beyond Tests & Writing

Moving beyond the actual writing as well, there are a number of pledges and resolutions writers and filmmakers can consider. These include (but are not limited to):

Pledge For Gender Parity

International Women’s Day happens every March and puts ALL females in the spotlight, not just writers or characters.

IWD has a ‘pledge for parity‘ in business, politics, leadership etc as well as creativity. It’s sobering that women always seem to have break their way into the man’s world … and this even happens in our stories, with male characters in charge, with just a few females added to the macho mix. Why? 9/10 there’s no real story reason for this.

It’s worth thinking about how gender parity could impact on your own vision of female power in your story, no?

3 Commandments On Race

I googled ‘pledge for writing about race’ and found this article by Xu Xi on the Brevity non fiction blog, where she writes:

a) Stop writing about race and write about how people live instead.

b) In writing about race, never take the truth in vain.

c) Never, ever bear false witness against yourself in what you observe of race, regardless.

This one’s points to some pretty deep stuff, so I think you should probably read the whole article. (If you’re not sure what she’s on about, then that’s probably a clue you need to read more on race).

The Lexa Pledge

The Lexa Pledge is named after a character in dystopian TV show The 100, following controversy at her demise in 2016. There was outcry concerning the number of ‘dead lesbians’ portrayed in fiction, especially on TV, which campaigners call the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope.

In response, a number of screenwriters and show runners promised to follow The Lexa Pledge as follows:

  1.  We will ensure that any significant or recurring LGBTQ characters we introduce, to a new or pre-existing series, will have significant storylines with meaningful arcs.
  2. When creating arcs for these significant or recurring characters we will consult with sources within the LGBTQ community, like queer writers or producers on staff, or members of queer advocacy groups like GLAAD, The Trevor Project, It Gets Better, Egale, The 519, etc.
  3. We recognise that the LGBTQ community is underrepresented on television and, as such, that the deaths of queer characters have deep psychosocial ramifications.
  4. We refuse to kill a queer character solely to further the plot of a straight one.
  5. We acknowledge that the Bury Your Gays trope is harmful to the greater LGBTQ community, especially to queer youth. As such, we will avoid making story choices that perpetuate that toxic trope.
  6. We promise never to bait or mislead fans via social media or any other outlet.
  7. We know there is a long road ahead of us to ensure that the queer community is properly and fairly represented on TV. We pledge to begin that journey today.

 The InspoPornResolution

‘Inspiration Porn’ is the name given to stories in which disabled characters’ struggles are seen as automatically noble and/or inspiring, which can be a great source of irritation (at least) for the disabled community.

In addition, this resolution makes a great point about ‘co-opting’ – ie. EXPLOITING – others’ experiences in your writing, especially cutting out those with that experience from the process.

  1.  I will not co-opt the disability experience for the consumption of others.
  2. I will not assume understanding of disabled experience. I will check my privilege and ask questions.
  3. When in doubt about language, I will ask and respect the way disabled people self-identify and use resources such as the style guide from the National Center on Disability and Journalism for general guidelines.
  4. I will ask my publication to hire and pay disabled writers, editors, collaborators, consultants.

More information on The InspoPorn Resolution, HERE.

Concluding

With all these things in mind, I think writers writing diverse characters – whether female, BAME, LGBT and/or disabled – need to bear in mind the following to write better diverse characters … if you like, we can call it:

The B2W Pledge For Diverse Characters:

  • The character is not *just* a plot device or role function
  • Stay away from stereotypes, stock characters and ‘the same-old, same-old’
  • Always do your research and due diligence

Good luck!

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MacGuffin - definition

The statue from The Maltese Falcon. The grail from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. “Rosebud” from Citizen Kane. They all have one thing in common: they are MacGuffins — persons, places, or things which the characters are all seeking, but which have little plot value of their own.

The MacGuffin is the ultimate “prize” of every quest movie ever made. It is the microfilm from spy movies, the trophy from sports movies, and the mission objective from war movies. The MacGuffin acts as a sort of temporary stand-in, creating an immediate plot point as the story gradually pivots from centering around objects to centering around characters.

Proper use of the MacGuffin can serve to keep the plot moving at a rapid pace, whilst improper use can result in limp writing! Here are six tips to keep in mind when using the MacGuffin:

1) Tell us Why It’s Important …

If your protagonist is going to spend most of the movie/book searching for “the documents”, it is important to relay at least once to the audience:

  • why these documents are important;
  • why the hero wants them;
  • plus the possible implications of NOT retrieving them.

If the MacGuffin is made too vague, the audience will not be able to properly empathise with the protagonist.

To sum up: Tell us why the heck we should care about the MacGuffin!

2) … But Don’t Make It Too Important!

It is important to have balance when using MacGuffins in your writing. While it is important to properly explain what your MacGuffin is (and why your character wants it), remember that your story ultimately serves your characters, not your plot devices.

It is considered a good rule of thumb to establish the MacGuffin in the first act, then all but forget it for the rest of the story. Consider the above-mentioned Citizen Kane: after the mystery surrounding “Rosebud” is established early on, focus is placed more and more on Kane himself and the course his life takes.

To sum up: Characters trump MacGuffins. Always.

3) Set the Stakes

One of the reasons a MacGuffin can be so valuable, especially to a thriller or suspense story, is that it can serve as the benchmark for “the stakes”. While every film or story contains some ultimate goal of some kind, the lengths to which characters will go to attain it vary based on the plot.

While winning a little league trophy might be a perfectly acceptable goal for a particular character, it is not something Jason Bourne is likely to drive 100 miles an hour through the streets of Berlin for … BUT top secret nuclear plans might be. The MacGuffin is the end that justifies the means.

To sum up: What level of “danger” does the MacGuffin add to the plot?

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4) MacGuffin as a Double-Edged Sword

MacGuffins can be made infinitely more dynamic if they can act as a double-edged sword, in other words:

“If Joe gets there first, then A happens, but if Jill gets there first then B happens.”

In this way, the MacGuffin serves as the turning point, one way or the other, depending on who obtains it.

A perfect example of this is the ark from Raiders of the Lost Ark. While it would still be exciting watching Jones make his way around the world in search of the Ark of the Covenant, the knowledge that his failure will result in Nazis seizing the ark increases the level of tension tenfold.

This is an important concept to make note of, as it deeply highlights motivation: the same goal can provide different outcomes based on character.

To sum up: Different characters, different motivations.

5) The MacGuffin as an Abstract

It doesn’t always have to be a priceless artifact or a briefcase full of money. The MacGuffin can be an abstract goal as well.

Take It’s a Wonderful Life as an example. For much of the film, George’s desire to leave Bedford Falls and explore the world serves as a MacGuffin, with the unfolding of his truly wonderful life as the true heart of the story.

Keep in mind that if the abstract goal the protagonist is chasing is in fact a MacGuffin, it must ultimately be revealed for what it is: a superficial goal that does not serve as the catalyst of change in the character’s life. In the Wonderful Life example, all the growth and knowledge George expected to gain by leaving Bedford falls he actually achieves by staying in his hometown.

To sum up: A MacGuffin doesn’t have to be a treasure chest. It’s ok to get artsy.

6) The MacGuffin in Humour

The MacGuffin is any sitcom’s best friend. Let’s face it: we’re not watching Seinfeld because we want to introspect. We want to laugh.

Using a MacGuffin is a great way to structure any form of comedic writing, from a simple skit to a three-act play. The idea of characters pursuing an ultimately non-essential goal lends itself effortlessly to humor.

Take as an example the movie Home Alone. In this film, two burglars attempt to burgle the home of a young boy who has pledged himself to defend it. In this case, the MacGuffin, which happens to be the McAllister home and presumably the valuables within, serves as nothing more than the breeding ground for one hilarious bit of practical humor after another. The fact that the two burglars have an almost unnatural obsession with robbing the house almost pokes fun at the concept of MacGuffins themselves.

To sum up: Use the MacGuffin to make ‘em laugh!

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Concluding:

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember about MacGuffins is that they are okay. Many mistakenly think that since the MacGuffin serves no real plot purpose of its own that it is unacceptable as a story device. Ironically, the MacGuffin actually adds a level of realism to stories, as chasing after goals, either tangible or intangible, is an undeniable human trait. As you continue writing, you will find that proper use of the MacGuffin will greatly improve the pace and readability of your story/script.

BIO: Jonathan Vars is a Christian fiction writer from New England, founder of the writing website voltampsreactive.com. His work in literary analysis of classic films and literature has been published by academic websites and he is the author of the soon to be released novel Like Melvin for which he is currently writing a sequel. In addition to writing, Jonathan enjoys running, painting, and trying not to freeze to death in the winter. He is currently willing to consider guest blogs for his website.

More on Plotting On B2w:

3 Things To Remember For Act 3

3 Things You Need To Know About Plot Holes

On Writing: Writing Planning Beats Seat-Of-Your-Pants Every Time

How To Plot TV Series: ‘Story of the Week’ Vs. The Serial Element

How To Plot Sitcom

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We Love Lone Wolves!

Every day, the Google search term ‘lone wolf’ brings Bang2writers to this blog … First though, let’s hear what author G X Todd has to say about her own ideas and inspiration behind her Lone Wolf character, Pilgrim from her bestseller book Defender:

I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be happy writing about a lone man who experiences so little human contact; I also feared it would bore readers to death.  I decided that Pilgrim would unconsciously create a coping mechanism to deal with being all alone in this new world; a coping mechanism that would allow him to hear a voice in his head, a voice that had a mind of its own. Even a lone wolf needs a little company sometimes.

(G X Todd)

So, let’s break it down and look at the 8 main types of Lone Wolf and HOW we can write them … Chew on these for size:

1) The Hero

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Example: Ripley

‘The Hero’ is a natural leader, just like Ripley. Others are dependent on them and their skills. The Hero is shown to have equal intelligence to their strength and considered an everyman/woman amongst their peers.

  • They have morals and these are NEVER compromised
  • They make other characters work as a team
  • They nearly ALWAYS win the fight
  • Usually the main protagonist
  • Their role as leader progresses and strengthens through their ordeal

2) One-Man Army

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Example: Logan

The ‘One-Man Army’ is the lone wolf that doesn’t need back-up. Often made to be a ‘super-soldier’ with an extreme ability or superhuman power to confirm their status. Logan is a force to be reckoned with as a mutant with an adamantium skeleton, claws, superhuman strength and accelerated healing powers.

  • Underestimated at first
  • Has an extreme ability or power
  • Psychological state damaged due to their powers/abilities
  • Doesn’t always kill to defeat the masses

3) The Informed Loner

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Example: Pilgrim

‘The Informed Loner’ can be physically and/or mentally isolated from others. Their loneliness allows them to see their world differently, just like Pilgrim from ‘Defender’.  Just like G X Todd mentioned earlier, it can be tricky writing dialogue for this type of lone Wolf.

  • Isolated physically/mentally from others
  • Socially awkward/ sometimes emotionless
  • Sees the world differently
  • Has different values because of their outcast status

4) Good Is Not Nice

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Example: The Bride

‘Good Is Not Nice’ means this type of lone wolf is capable of violent acts but are morally inclined towards good just like The Bride from Kill Bill. The Bride is averse to emotional expressions of love, gratitude or repentance which is typical of the Good Is Not Nice type while seeking justice and revenge.

  • A strong sense of duty – right and wrong
  • Intimidate their enemies with their cruel sense of justice
  • Does not get close to others – the enemy uses them as a weakness
  • Usually live in a cynical universe – being nice does not mean a happy ending

5). The Cowboy Cop

17328202_10154628712909132_1200392054_nExample: Dirty Harry

‘The Cowboy Cop’ is probably the most recognised type of lone wolf made famous by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. This type of lone wolf is a loose cannon, driven purely by instinct. The Cowboy Cop doesn’t play by the rules and will go to extreme measures to right any wrongs.

  • They bend the rules to save others
  • Unpredictable actions and sometimes irresponsible
  • Contacts on ‘the other side’, able to infiltrate/go undercover
  • Driven by instinct and can go to extreme lengths

6) ‘Think Nothing of It’

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Example: Eleven, ‘Elle’

‘Think Nothing of It’ is the lone wolf that considers saving everybody as part of the day job, it’s routine. They are often shy and the cause of the problem that others need to be saved from. For example, Eleven ‘Elle’ is the only person who can destroy the monster she accidentally brought with her from the Upside Down world.

  • Modest/shy when receiving praise/gratitude
  • Responsible for the cause of danger and MUST stop it
  • Can only manifest their strength or ‘power’ during extreme emotional outbursts
  • Considered innocent but capable of dark actions to save others

7) The Anti-Hero

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Example: John Creasy

‘The Anti-Hero’ is the cynical protagonist. They usually have a troubled backstory that causes moral conflict. Other characters are often used to teach them the value of love, friendship and trust resulting in the anti-hero stepping up to save the day.

  • They do not hesitate to kill
  • Cynical and flawed protagonist
  • Troubled backstory – suicidal, alcoholic etc
  • Their physical and moral strength are not equal. It’s a struggle to do the right thing.

8) The ‘Something’ Man/Woman

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Example: Luke Cage/Jessica Jones

The ‘Something’ man/woman is a lone wolf that has become a hero due to unfortunate circumstances and uses common themes of super strength, skill or control of elements to save others such as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.  Usually inhabit a gritty and dangerous world or ‘underworld’.

The ‘Something’ Man/Woman characteristics:

  • They use super strength/skill or other elements to win
  • Similar to the super-soldier/superhuman
  • An accident of sorts usually causes them to become a lone wolf
  • Live in a gritty and dangerous world with real consequences

So, there we have the 8 main types of lone wolf and characteristics that define them. Obviously, there are MANY examples of Lone Wolf that could represent each category …

… Which is YOUR favourite?

IMG_8071BIO: Hello, my name is Olivia Brennan, a 25 year old who was first inspired by the power of film when I cowered behind a cushion watching JAWS, aged 6. I work as a Freelance Writer, Blogger & Assistant Script Editor. Check out my blog HERE or Facebook Page The Final Frontier. Feel free to follow me on twitter as @LivSFB and say hi!

For more on lone wolves & Thrillers:

thrillerCLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays about the iconic character of Driver in the movie DRIVE, courtesy of B2W friends Film Doctor. Click on the pic or HERE, to look inside in the front of the book.

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Okay, okay I hate rules as every Bang2writer knows … But there ARE phrases and adages that seem to pop up, over and over. So I decided to put 10 under the microscope and work out if they’re TRUE or FALSE – do you agree? Enjoy!

RULES

1) Show, Don’t Tell

First, the biggie. As I’ve written before, this has become a feedback ‘catch all’  – writers can’t even be sure if it’s relevant to them, especially when feedback-givers so often don’t qualify it! So it’s no wonder writers hate this so-called ‘rule’ with a passion. I know I do! That said, like most writing adages, it is good stuff at foundation level … IF you know why it’s being applied to your own work!

STATUS: True (ish) MORE: ‘Show it, Don’t Tell It’ Explained

2) Write every day

New writers are often told they MUST write every single day in order to ‘become’ a professional. It’s so accepted a ‘rule’ in writing circles that pro writers are almost EMBARRASSED to admit it when they don’t. Instead, they’ll all nod furiously and say it’s absolutely key in getting anywhere – write pages every day! OR ELSE!

Now, of course this works for many writers and good for them. However I’d wager there’s loads of writers who DON’T write every day. I am one of those writers. I’ve always ‘binge wrote’ and I know stacks of others who work this way too. One size does NOT fit all!

STATUS: False

3) Hit The Ground Running

This is great stuff, but there’s one problem: too many writers don’t know what it means! They don’t get that character and story have to be introduced hand in hand; we can’t be kept ‘waiting’.

Also, sometimes even when writers do understand what this means, they still have to work through some false starts to get off the starting blocks quicker. I ended up rewriting the beginning of my novel, The Other Twin, FIVE times on this basis. Oops! Definitely harder than it looks.

STATUS: True 

4) Characters must be ‘likeable’

Um, no. Is ‘likeable’ even a word? It doesn’t even matter if you substitutive ‘likeable’ for ‘sympathetic’ or even ’empathetic’ — because characters can behave like utter, reprehensible arseholes and audiences still love them! Think Amy Dunne (GONE GIRL); Melvin Udall (AS GOOD AS IT GETS); Lucious and Cookie (EMPIRE) and more. Le Duh!

STATUS: False

5) Sacrifice Facts For Drama

It’s good to sacrifice facts for drama … Until you take it too far and it just becomes unbelievable. Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb I find are the following two questions:

  • Is this SPECIALIST knowledge the average audience member would not know? YES – sacrifice facts for drama.
  • Is this EVERY DAY knowledge that the average audience member would know? YES – don’t sacrifice facts for drama.

STATUS: True. MORE: 5 Times It’s Okay To Sacrifice Facts For Drama

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6) Save the cat

Coined by screenwriting consultant Blake Snyder, this is another that has suffered from becoming LITERAL like number 3 on this list. Originally it was good stuff though and simply described a single moment in which a protagonist does something nice to prove what a good guy/gal s/he is. (like a save a cat).

But outside of in-jokes in which a protagonist literally saves a cat for fun (such as Detective Spooner in I, ROBOT when the RoboDemolition tears down the house with them inside), your character doesn’t have to do this to be deemed ‘likeable’. Because, guess what, as we’ve already established: your character doesn’t have to be likeable! BOOM.

STATUS: False

7) Write with passion

We hear this ‘advice’ all the time and it’s my own personal pet peeve. Not is it patronising, it makes no sense. NO writer sits down and says, ‘I know, I’m going to write with ZERO passion and create the MOST BORING novel or screenplay, EVAH!”

STATUS: Epic fail False!!!

8) Signal from Fred

This describes that moment in which a writer basically gives him or herself away ON THE PAGE, often via dialogue. This frequently happens when the writer’s subconscious is alarmed by the way the story is going. As a result, characters will end up saying stuff like ‘This doesn’t make any sense!’ Or, ‘No one would ever believe that!’ Or even, ‘This is really boring.”

Lots of writers don’t believe ‘signals from Fred’ exist. But if you’ve read as many spec screenplays as I have, they literally JUMP OFF THE PAGE at you. Keep this is mind though and it helps you avoid the dreaded plothole. Honest guvnor!

STATUS: True

9) Kill your darlings

Known also as ‘kill your babies’, this phrase describes those those scenes, visuals, moments, characters, chunks of dialogue etc we are most proud of. We love them, to the point that we almost don’t care if those bits are clear to the script reader or not. (I find this happens most often with chunks of dialogue, as I’ve written many times).

It’s because we love our darlings, we want to keep them.But if they’re not clear to the reader, they simply MUST go. Sorry! (not sorry)

Writers tend to hate this phrase BECAUSE it reminds them of the pain they will have to undergo in cutting these bits out. We’ve all done it … and we will have to do it again … and again … and again!

STATUS: True (unfortunately)

10) Write What You Know

This is an easy one. If you really had to write what you know, there would be no period drama or science fiction for starters. Plus women couldn’t write male protagonists; or BAME writers write white characters and so on. So you don’t have to …

… BUT oh wait — are we talking about emotional truth and authenticity, rather than LITERALLY what you know? Sure, autobiographical elements can help this, but they don’t have to. Writers CAN create outside of their own direct experience. That’s the point.

Besides, writers would soon run out of stuff to write about and begin repeating themselves if it were all literal!!

STATUS: True AND also False (depends how you see it!). MORE: ‘Write What You Know’ Explained

Which are YOUR pet peeves?

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I love these tips … I think they’re useful to ALL writers, not just authors!

As I’ve said many, many times on this blog – social media is great, because it lets us get our voices heard … but it’s also TERRIBLE!! Whilst there’s no ‘right’ way to do social media, there’s a gazillion errors we can make and then get noticed for all the wrong reasons. Yikes.

So, if you have a book, campaign, message, brand or something else you want to get out there, make sure you check out these great tips from Amber. Enjoy!

Want a free ebook on how to WIN at self publishing? CLICK HERE or on any of the pics in this article.

Everyone markets on social media now – including authors. If you’ve never pictured yourself as a social media marketer before – oh well. You’re going to have to learn some time, and if you’re about to publish a novel? The time is now!

1) Get an Early Start

If you haven’t yet published your novel, start marketing now. There’s no such thing as starting too early when you’re trying to build hype up around the release of your book. Yeah, that means you’re going to have to stop basking in the bliss of finishing the thing and get back to work all over again. Small bits of news can take a while to circulate on social media, so starting a few weeks ahead of the launch will give everyone enough time to get word of your novel.

TOP TIP: Basically, you should be loud in announcing to the world that you finally finished that book, and make sure everyone hears you as soon as you finish that last chapter! MORE: Top 5 Social Media Mistakes

2) Create the Kind of Content That Succeeds on Social Media

Most social media platforms are centered around video and image content. Even Facebook has incorporated a feature that allows mobile users to float visual content to the top of their news feed. Informative promotional images and videos are more likely to be viewed and shared. More or less, people might feel like reading your book, but they probably won’t feel like reading your walls of text when they came to look at cat memes.

TOP TIP: If you’re thinking “wait, I’m a novelist, not a graphic designer!”, you can take the lazy way out and hire a graphic or video artist on Gumtree to create the content for you.

3) Incorporate Social Media into Your Website

Your preexisting audience might be able to do some of the promotion for you, provided they have the tools to do it. It’s time to think of “audience” and “minions” as interchangeable terms, and make them work for you. If you haven’t already, integrate “share” buttons into your website. If you have any free preview chapters available to view, put up a few buttons that will allow readers to share this content with a single click.

TOP TIPMore or less, people have a tendency to be lazy. They may not copy and paste, but they can sure click a share button.

4) Lend Your Novel Out to Influencers

Influencer marketing is a popular tactic for businesses, and it will work just as well for authors. Find popular personalities on social media or people who run successful blogs, and offer them a copy of your novel for review. If they enjoy it, they’ll  recommend it to their followers!

TOP TIP: People like free stuff much more than the stuff they have to pay for. An influencer gets a free book, and you get a free review. If you cross link to each other, you can wind up sharing an audience. Everybody’s getting a piece of pie!

5) Host an Event

A lot of authors schedule bookstore appearances to read excerpts from their novels and answer questions. All of that travel can be expensive, and there isn’t a single person in the world who loves spending their weekends waiting at an airport. Rather than appearing in person, host virtual events. Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Google Hangouts will allow you to hold events online.

TOP TIP: Anyone in the world can attend you virtual book events, and you only have to dress nice from the waist up. Put on a nice blouse, and nobody will have any idea that you’re still in your pajama pants. MORE: How To Do Social Media … And How NOT To!

Concluding:

Social media is an invaluable tool for helping you spread your message. Most importantly, it’s shockingly easy to get your content out there. You don’t want to work hard to push your book, and your readers don’t want to have to work hard to find it. Meet everybody where they’re at! Get a FREE ebook on how to win at self publishing – to get your copy, CLICK HERE or on any of the pics.

BIO: Amber Brunning is a freelance writer who likes to cover stories in digital marketing and self-development. Amber is a frequent festival and concertgoer and loves to travel. Find her on Twitter.

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Many thanks to Alinka from Author Remake, who is launching the 5 Figure Author Challenge, which is an online author’s summit which runs between March 15-19th 2017.

If you’re interesting in launching yourself as an author (or even re-launching, with more $$$ in the bank!), I’d wager this is a MUST-attend summit. I’m totally there – I’m really interested to hear what 25+ publishing experts have to say about making my book into an ‘abundant revenue stream’!

You can get free access during the event, or there are various pricing options to view it all at your leisure. It’s just $67 before the event kicks off, bargainous! In the meantime, check out this great tips from Alinka and make sure you download her free ebook, 7 Secrets to Winning in Self-Publishing in 2017. Enjoy, Bang2writers!

SELF PUBLISHING 1

If you can write a script, you can write a book!

If you can write a book, you can publish it and start building your tribe, without asking for anybody’s approval.

Making a movie is a million dollar investment, so as a script writer you’re at the mercy of agents, editors and an endless line of gatekeepers.

You might be the next James Cameron but while you’re still “in the making” why not use your superpowers to make some extra cash and build your fame?

How?

Convert your script into a book!

More and more movies are based on books and experience shows such films have higher probability of becoming box office hits.

The good news is that anybody can write and publish a book now – and your budget is in the hundreds or low thousands of dollars, not in the millions.

Do it yourself or simply give your script to an editor and have this part outsourced (You’ve heard about ghostwriters, right?). This is just getting your script adapted to a book so that you can start SELLING.

Successful book sales in 2017 really boil down to 3 steps …

SELF PUBLISHING 2

Step1: Optimise your book and Amazon Page for conversion

What does this even mean? It’s like with selling anything. If you’re about to sell a house you wouldn’t present it to a potential buyer right after you had the party of the year in it … You’d throw out all the garbage, you’d do the dishes, you’d polish all the surfaces, you’d bring in a bunch of flowers to put on the table and you’d look your best. You’d optimise your house’s appearance for a sale.

It’s the same with your Amazon page and your website. You need the right keywords, an eye-catching cover, a title that raises curiosity (just like with scripts!), plus you need a captivating description and at least 25 reviews. MORE: How To Build Your Own Online Platform

Step 2: Create and optimise your funnel

If this is foreign territory, just give me a moment. I’ll help. If you’re an empathic person it should be easy. If you’re not, I’ll make it easy for you anyway.

Basically what you do is you create something of value to your readers. It can be anything. Maybe a video of you reading the book to them? Or a free ebook? Or maybe they’d like to see where you come from and you could show them how your book used to be a script.

You want to give people something in exchange of their email address, because that gives you a prime piece of online real estate – the privilege of being able to appear in your readers’ inbox. In other words, GIVE them something, to get their email address — they sign up for your list in order to download it.

Step 3: Send traffic

Now and only now does it make sense to send traffic to your website or Amazon page. Traffic is just marketing jargon for visitors.

See, the biggest (and very costly!) mistake authors make is that they skip the first two steps on this list and go directly to step 3. If you’re sending people to a page that hasn’t been optimised and you don’t have much to offer you’re just wasting a lot of time and/or money.

But that’s not us, obviously. We’ve got the first two steps covered so now there are two ways for us to send traffic.

  1. Invest time: that’s scouting reviewers of books similar to yours for example and inviting them to your landing page.
  2. Invest money: that’s all kinds of ads.

Just remember it’s very unlikely that traffic will generate on its own. You have to actively make it happen.

And there you have it. The three steps to bypass the gatekeepers and take matters into your own hands!

And who knows? That book you created from your script might be picked up by a movie studio and turned back into a screenplay. Think The Martian by Andy Weir; Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James or Wool by Hugh Howley. MORE: 5 Rules For Novelising Screenplays

YOU could be the next self-published author whose book turns into a record-smashing box office hit!

To discover more about bypassing the gatekeepers and making money by self-publishing your book in 2017, download a free copy of 7 Secrets to Winning in Self-Publishing in 2017. Click on the link, or on any of the pics in this post.

Good luck!

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WHY THIS STORY

Agony Aunt B2W

Working with writers as a script editor, I seem to spend just as much time counselling them as I do talking about craft!

That’s okay. I like being a cheerleader and offering encouragement and  moral support. As I’ve written on this blog before, sometimes a writer’s biggest obstacle is confidence in themselves. I’ve felt this way too. I get it.

BUT — BUT –BUT …

… Just as often, it’s not about confidence, but GUTS. Let me explain the difference.

Writers frequently come to me, wanting to make a statement. It’s all they can think about. They have a remit, belief or message they have a burning need to get out into the world … and they’ve decided to do it via the medium of storytelling.

And why not: it’s a great way to get that message out!!

Attention

These writers will often get my attention because they want to write about gutsy things. Things the average writer might want to write about, but ultimately shy away from. Or they can only do it a half-assed, two dimensional way and give up because they were never truly sure what they were doing.

The writers that get my attention are the ones who KNOW what they’re doing. They’re courting controversy and they relish that idea. They want to take an idea and twist it, so it becomes something we’ve never seen before.

They even know there will be people out there – readers, viewers, even other writers – who will think they are WRONG to write their story. They’re okay with this. Bring it on, they say.

Bravery

In other words, these writers get my attention because they are BRAVE. They are also realistic, because they realise their story will not be for ‘everyone’. (If that sounds basic, congrats! You have no idea how few writers realise this and know it’s all about audience).

But there’s still one hurdle to overcome. You got it. It’s the …

Blank Page

So, these writers can talk the talk, but they find themselves paralysed by the blank page. It’s like the heavy weight of their story and the ensuring controversy they know it will create holds them back.

Sometimes, these writers will plead writer’s block. But more often than not, these writers will write something — shall we say — fluffy. Undernourished. A little vague.

I’ll blink in surprise and confusion. I’ll ask them, where’s the hardcore, hit-you-between-the-eyes MESSAGE you wanted to convey?

Instead, the story will make its point in a roundabout sort of way. It feels … well, two dimensional.

Bull’s Eye

And this is the thing. If you have a MESSAGE, you can’t tiptoe around it. You don’t want to get up on your soapbox either, but you need to find a happy medium in which you can convey it. It literally doesn’t matter how you do this, it could be anything. But this is why planning is important.

To hit the bull’s eye — that perfect place where your MESSAGE and story go together — you need to take that bravery and get it on the page. You can’t shrink away from it, suddenly concerned about inflicting pain or discomfort on your characters, or even on your imagined audience.

As I frequently say to Bang2writers:

Go for it or GO HOME!

It’s the only way forward. Have the guts, take it through all the stages … From planning to page to whatever lies beyond.

Or seriously, don’t bother.

More Links About This On B2W:

15 Reasons Your Story Sucks

‘Why this story?’ (Or 8 Questions They’re Really Asking)

7 Unusual Tricks To Reveal Your Writing Talent

5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make

The ONE thing That Makes Stories Crash And Burn

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So you’ve decided to become a writer and you have no idea where to start. It might seem like a difficult to journey to pursue but don’t let the fear of the future scare you out of doing it. Sometimes you just have to cast your net and take a chance! Here are some of the tips I used to build my own writing career from zero …

ZERO

1) Build your social skills

It is known that many writers are introverts and love working by themselves. There is a whole world out there though and you are going to have to become some type of social butterfly as a writer. Start by registering some profiles on popular social media platforms, so people can find you – simple!

Already on these sites? Then check out these places to connect with other writers, filmmakers, agents and others online. Next, research and join forums where jobs are posted and writers post:

It’s very difficult to make it on your own without some support. Be involved on these forums and build relationships with other writers. You will receive a lot of advice and tips to help you build your career.

TOP TIP: Networking will require you to build relationships with others. Clients are not going to magically find you. You have to go out there and let them know that you are available for hire and collaboration.

2) Improve your writing skills

Practice is the one things you can count on to improve your writing. That said, there are resources out there to help you too, like semi colon checker. Also, remember you need to identify mistakes early and learn from this. There are some online resources that can help you improve your writing:

Also, the best writers write even when they are not in the mood or feel uninspired. Set a minimum number of words you would like to write daily and stick to it.

TOP TIP: Writing daily will help prepare you for days when you have work due and just don’t feel like it. Create this habit early on. Also, make sure identify those elements of your writing that need work!

3) Create some samples

Once you’ve brushed up on your writing skills, it is time to write some samples. Clients will usually ask for this during the interview process. Two or three samples is more than enough. The client really just wants to see you writing style so make sure these samples reflect that.

Freelance writers – write about a topic you enjoy, so that the flow is good and makes for a good read. If you’re a creative writer like an author or screenwriter, make sure you have a good portfolio and lots of pitches, polished and ready.

TOP TIP: You will need samples to show your clients your skills. Create these before you start pitching so you have it ready. MORE: 10 Ways Being A Freelance Writer Prepares Me For A Screenwriting Career

4) Start pitching

You may not think that you are good enough to actually get out there. But you have to be in it to win it and there is always a possibility that you will be chosen and land your first writing top writing job!

There are also events – IRL and online – that you can attend to pitch your story, as well as sites that will host your screenplay. Here’s just a few:

Prepare a good pitch and cover letter where appropriate and take a chance. Everyone had to start at article number 1. The submission process is usually very simple.

TOP TIP:  Be sure to look at the submission guidelines as every producer, website has their own way of doing things. You might have a great idea and miss an important step, so get rejected or overlooked.

5) Stay motivated & keep on keeping on!

There are many great writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Jack London who had to endure rejection after rejection. They were all broke at the time they decided to give writing a shot.

The success reached by worldknown writers is built on their ability to stay motivated. I am sure they also had moments of doubting their writing abilities after every rejection but they used this to push forward.

TOP TIP: Writing is a tough industry and very competitive but always remember, there are people out there who’ll accept you and your voice. Keep pushing and never give up even after rejection, but instead, let it motivate you. MORE: 24 Experts on the Foundations of Success

BIO: Michael Nix works as a content manager and writing is his hobby. He also writes poems and short stories and dreams of publishing his own book. Michael travels a lot and enjoys his life.

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