Monday, September 18, 2023

Do You Enjoy Serialized Fiction?

 Fiction subscriptions might be one way to go if you are an author. 

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Writers like Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott understood the potential of subscription fiction. They used it to lure a wildly fanatic fanbase. 

There are stories of fists fight breaking out when Charles Dickens' new stories came across the sea to America. Rabid readers could not wait to get their hands on it. It is not an exaggeration to say he built his fanbase one reader at a time through the subscription style stories. 

Authors thought that the power of subscription fiction was lost in the days of yore, but the internet provided a low-cost option, and subscription authors are currently making a comeback. . 


I am a voracious reader. And yes, I am addicted to series and serializations. I also binge watch Netflix, Hula, Disney, Paramount and so forth, lol. I love stories. I have learned to love story craft in an almost addictive way. 

Anyone who knows me has probably heard this story: my mother taught me to read before I started kindergarten. I have no memories of not reading. 

I was an only child, so stories were my playmates, my adventure, and a learning tool about the world, places, and, peoples. 

The point — I love book series and I enjoy serialized fiction in all its many forms. 

So what can writing serialized fiction do for you? The benefits are manifold.

Build Writing Skills

Active Hooks

Learning to write in a serialized way helps teach you about using active hooks in your stories. Active hooks are like cat nip to kitties. 

They tempt the reader to keep reading, while making them feel immersed in the action rather than just observing the character live out their story.

Word Choices

Serial scenes are often shorter than in a novel. It can help you learn to write shorter and tighter, to make careful and active word choices.

This helps you to convey your story's intention or actions with clarity and movement.


Hone the HOOK FACTOR. Learn to write active, engaging endings. Put your reader in the story with your character and keep them there. 

Learn to engineer suspense, wonder, surprise, shock, and the cliffhanger that keeps them flipping pages. 

Building Community

I guess one of the biggest reasons I am drawn to subscription fiction is the community building.

Market trends are changing and community is a viable way to build your readership. I’ve been recently reading “Belonging To Brands: Why Community is the Last Great Marketing Strategy” by Mark Schaeffer. 

He uses many of his own life examples of why the community is so powerful, and what it has meant for him on his journey. 

As people, we want to belong, to matter, to feel part of something, and contribute. You learn leadership and support skills when you are part of a community, but especially when building one. 

I signed up for Ream, a subscription platform, similar to Patreon, for authors created by authors for authors. (*Ream is an affiliate link)

Subscription For Authors Facebook Group. 

Ream supports this idea of building and owning your own author community. 

In building your fanbase and super fans the sense of belonging this creates for readers can be a powerful incentive for them, and skill building tool for the author. 

It is Ream’s community, along with all they offer to support authors, that kept me coming back and eventually joining Ream. I have learned so much since starting my subscription. 

Subscription Fiction

Most of you are probably familiar with subscription platform such as Patreon or Royal Road or Wattpad. These are places serial readers can go to, read freely, and enjoy the story. 

These are also places you can hone your storytelling skills in practice with an audience. 

Putting your writing out there can be scary. 

This is one way to face that fear and practice. These sites have paying and non paying options for authors.

Subscription fiction platforms have been around for a while, but it has changed and grown in the last year. It is new opportunities and a new *yet an old* market for authors. 

The reader's attention span has lessened, making short stories popular again. Serialized fiction is just another path that is opening up for many writers. 

I was recently invited to take part in a Ream’s Top Author meeting. Yes, for the moment, wahoo, I am one of the top authors on Ream. 

It's a new platform, just over a year old, but I believe it is here to stay. Starting my subscription and being part of the active community has brought a lot of joy, insight, and fun to my writing. 

Lessons Learned

  • Community Building.
  • Hone writing skills: tighter, focused fiction writing.
  • A sense of belonging — being part of a community, and taking part in something game changing for authors.
  • Networking skills where I can support others and vice versa.
  • All the interactions in the Ream community and the community I am building “make me feel” the way I did back when I discovered my first blogging group. I have made new friends. I am continually building working relationships — Is it work? Eh, a little, but so is blogging consistently and interacting with bloggers and commenters. 
The reason subscriptions work to build your audience so well is because it gives the audience a stake in your success. And by giving your fans a stake in your success, their support dramatically increases. 

In 2022 alone, there were four million books published

Subscriptions give Indie Authors a path to do what all writers want to do: get your work in front of active readers. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Shark Infested Waters

As writers we have two goals: write good books and tell people about them, so they can read what we write. In the olden days, getting the word out to the reading public often meant giving talks at libraries or bookstores, maybe making radio or TV appearances and snail-mailing publicity materials. 

As you well know, today, so much of getting the word out is done online, and while it’s efficient and potentially reaches a wider audience, this way of promoting books is fraught with a lot of dangers. The biggest ones are identity theft, and for us, book promotion scams. 

  • To reduce the danger of having your identity stolen, keep an eye on your accounts:

  • Check your credit card charges monthly. If there’s a charge for some tiny amount, alert the credit card company immediately. This is someone testing out your card. Unreported, the next charge from them could be a doozie. One month I found three charges from the same firm. The first charge was $1.00. The second was $5.00. The third was $350.00. Fortunately, the purchases were so obviously not part of my spending pattern, Visa had already flagged them. 

  • Get your free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This is the link to order a free credit report. ( Sorry, but I’m not up on how this is done outside the U.S.)

  • Make it a rule to never open an email or answer a phone call if you don’t recognize the name, the email address, or the phone number. Preview the email, but never click on any of the links. If you think it’s phishing, report it to whatever company is appropriate: PayPal has recently been getting a lot of forwards from me. I forward the entire message to, then I delete the message. For phone calls, if the caller is legitimate, they’ll leave a voice message, and you can get back to them.

When it comes to people offering to promote your book take some precautions before you hand over those dollars. 

  • Ask if others have had experience with the company-#IWSG, #WriterBeware are two good sources on Facebook.

  • Do a search of their online presence and pay close attention to the language on their website or in their emails. There are often telltale signs that these people aren’t professionals who are interested in books at all. 

  • Double check the name. I recently was contacted by a firm with Booksy in their name; however, they weren’t associated with the legitimate Freebooksy or BargainBooksy. 

  • There are a lot of websites that do scam detection, so you can enter the name of the company and see how they rate the one you’re considering. 

  • Or avoid all of this and rely on the network of writers you know and trust.

Writers wear a lot of hats, and protecting ourselves and our work from being taken advantage of is a very import and very big hat! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Happy Anniversary IWSG


Greetings everyone.

Since we have a twelve year anniversary coming up, I'd like to chat a little bit about our group and the man who founded it.

About Alex:

Alex Cavanaugh is a writer and promoter. He works in web design and graphics, and he plays guitar in a Christian band. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. 

About the IWSG:

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Writer's post their thoughts on their own blog, talk about their doubts and the fears they have conquered, discuss their struggles and triumphs, offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling, visit others in the group and connect with fellow writers--aim for a dozen new people each time.

Sound like  a group you'd be interested in joining?

Here's our webiste: Insecure Writer's Support Group (

Our twitter handle: @THEIWSG

Our hash tag: #IWSG

And last but not least,  "Thanks, Alex. We appreciate ya.  Wishing you an early Happy Anniversary."


You can learn more about Alex and ISWG at: 

Monday, August 21, 2023

5 Stunning Author Websites (& What They’ve Done Right)

By Alex J. Coyne

An author website is one of the most important things for a successful career writer. An author’s website is where readers and clients go to read, discover more, and connect with the person behind the site.

If you’ve enjoyed an author or story, their website is usually the next place to go. But have you thought about what visitors will see when they go to your online page?

Good websites tell you more about the author (or story), but also engage the reader to stay on the site longer, comment, or contact the writer. Average websites are a static portfolio, that inspires visitors to click away from it.

Here are some stunning author websites (& what they’ve done right).


The Winning Factor: The Blog

Wil Wheaton is best known as an actor, gamer, and voice-over artist, but he’s also a pretty good writer. His memoirs (Still) Just A Geek has become a bestseller, and he runs a regular blog about his thoughts and life experiences.

The blog posts are worth coming back for. Posts engage readers, making them want to comment or share.

If you have unique stories to share or mastery of a specific niche topic (like gardening or martial arts), there are always readers who may enjoy well-written content.


The Winning Factor: The Interviews

Kathy Reichs is an acclaimed forensic scientist, academic, and fiction author.

The Bones-series, also adapted to screen, introduced Dr. Temperence Brennan; a forensic anthropologist partially based on Reichs herself. Virals, a Y/A series co-written with her son, brings supernatural elements and science together for an entirely different ride.

Her website contains all the important details about books and characters, but also stands out for the collection of past interviews on the site.

An archive of interviews or previous coverage is a great way to keep readers clicking through what’s there.


The Winning Factor: The Merchandise

E.L. James is the author of the 50 Shades-series, which originally began as a fan-fiction based on Twilight. The books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the series sales figures are enough to make heads turn.

James makes her website work with a section for merchandise.

Merchandise can help to turn a writer’s name or stories into a brand, which can be worth its own separate income.


The Winning Factor: The Story Catalog

Stephen King published his first novel, Carrie, and then just never stopped. King’s horror, mystery, and drama stories have sold enough to build an entire brand - or rather, empire - just around the Works of King.

He’s written enough stories that the website needs an entire catalog to keep track of his published works.

Does your website have a list of samples, markets, or places you’ve published?

Always try your best to keep track of what you’ve published, and where.

Rights are easier to administrate, certain rights can be sold again, and you’ll always know where the right samples are when you need them.

When you don’t keep track, it’s easy to get lost in a labyrinth of your own publications for days to find something specific.


The Winning Factor: The Story Format

If you’ve ever Googled the phrase “manuscript format’, you’ll have likely found the formatting guidelines by William Shunn. Author and editor, Shunn uploaded one of the most useful and standard resources for writers -- and it’s considered an industry standard for the publishing industry.

I wrote my first magazine story with these guidelines, and they’re still relevant today.

If you have something that you think could be useful to other writers, post it on your website. Helpful content always tends to go further!


About the Author: Alex J. Coyne is a journalist, author, and proofreader. His radar is calibrated for all things gothic, gonzo, and weird.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Finding Keywords for Your Book

What is a keyword? A keyword is a word or phrase that describes your book. It’s what someone would enter when searching for your book, much like how people search for websites and information online.

Your book already has one to three genres associated with it which helps with discoverability, but keywords take it even further. They let you get specific regarding your book’s content. They help readers find your book.

And of course, good keywords are rarely single words. Several words together in a phrase do much better. If you were searching online for a table, you wouldn’t type in “table.” That would pull up everything from end tables to picnic tables. You would be specific: “Oak dining table that seats eight.” And that’s how you need to think when creating keywords.

Keywords can be used several places. The back cover content, your short synopsis, and listed with the website/company publishing your book. Even your title is important.

So, how do you go about finding the right keywords?

First, brainstorm as many keywords and phrases as possible that describe your book. Everything from content to setting. Don’t hold back, either. You can also check similar books to see what categories they are popular in and then use those categories as phrases if they fit your book.

Go to Amazon and start typing those phrases. See what they pull up. It will also give you new ideas and even more keywords to use. You are usually allowed between seven and ten keywords, so giving yourself a large selection from which to choose is the best chance at coming up with the very best ones.

Another handy tool is Publisher Rocket. You insert the keywords and it will tell you how well they rank based on searches, sales, and competition. (It’s my favorite tool.) It’s based on Amazon, but it’s safe to say those algorithms fit elsewhere.

You do want to be careful with keywords. Don’t use a competitor’s title or author’s name. Don’t use phrases such as “best-selling.” Don’t repeat keywords over & over or try to game the system. And of course, don’t use keywords that don’t fit your book. No false advertising.

You can always change keywords, too. Perhaps the book’s description lacks the best keywords. Maybe it’s even the title. Adjusting keywords in a title that’s not selling well might make all the difference in the world.

For more help with choosing categories:
KDP Amazon
How to Choose the Best Kindle eBook Category
Nonfiction Keywords
Fiction Keywords

Do you have a list of keywords for each of your titles? How did you come up with those keywords?

Monday, August 7, 2023

Bittersweet Symphony

Hi. It’s Nilanjana from Team WEP here sharing the team’s favorite treat which has led to our August challenge! 

What’s dark and bitter yet associated almost universally with pleasure, temptation, luxury and even decadence? Ha. Bet you got it right away! And fellow writers, what item can a writer use to whip up a romance one moment and satirize as a symbol of corruption in the next? Yup, exactly…and its history mirrors its bittersweet yet fascinating taste. 

Food of the gods 

Where did this bittersweet treat originate? It didn’t just miraculously appear! It goes way back at least 3500 years. In the Olmec, Maya and Aztec cultures of Mesoamerica, cacao was considered a divine gift and made into a beverage drunk at sacred rituals and before battles. 

Cacao beans first reached the Iberian coast in the 1520s with the Spanish conquerors. A contemporary source wrote that it was ‘more like a drink for pigs’ than humans. Nevertheless, by the 17th century, trade in cacao was thriving. 

In Spain, chocolate was made more palatable with sugar/honey, vanilla and cinnamon. It became a court favorite. Chocolate traveled to France when Spanish princesses/nobility married there. It also went to Italy with the Jesuits. It caught on big time in Europe and many European nations established cacao plantations in equatorial Africa. The European market for sugar exploded too, in turn creating the demand for slave labor. 

While Africa still produces over 70% of the global cacao output, only 3% of the finished chocolate is consumed by them. Out of the Big 10 chocolate corporations, not one is located in Africa. Cacao farming is associated with poverty and child labor, which some companies are fighting to rectify. Something to be aware of when we bite into our next bar. 

Initially, cacao processing was manual and time-consuming. That changed majorly in 1828 when C. J. van Houten of Netherlands invented the chocolate press. It squeezed the butter from roasted beans, leaving powdered cocoa as residue. That could be mixed with liquids, molded and hardened upon cooling – the first modern chocolate bars. 

The Industrial Revolution resulted in patents for emulsification processes, machinery and molds. Thus chocolate morphed into a stand-alone industry. It transitioned from a locally consumed beverage to a global confectionery food product. 

Chocolate corners the romance market 

The notion of romantic love in Western culture dates back to Greek literature. Their most famous epics are predicated on the abduction of Helen by Paris. During the Middle Ages, courtly love – mostly unattainable and tragic, was an established literary theme. Knights sang of their love and offered roses as proof. The tradition of Valentine’s Day to celebrate lovers is mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls in 1382. 

Romance and love stories wound their way through the 16th century with plays like Romeo and Juliet to the first romance novels – Pride and Prejudice in 1813 followed by Jane Eyre in 1847. By mid-century, the romance novel, gifts and Valentine’s were well established and continue to this day. 

That was the perfect backdrop for the elaborate heart-shaped chocolate box Valentine’s gifts, which Richard Cadbury first designed in 1868. These gorgeous boxes were not simply packaging for chocolates but doubled up as keepsakes once the chocolates were eaten. Talk about nifty marketing! The Victorians simply lapped them up as we do. Chocolates as romantic gifts have remained popular. As Cadbury didn’t patent the heart-shaped packaging, whoops, it has been copied by other manufacturers – now a staple in Valentine’s Day celebrations. 

Chocolate and storytelling 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a mistake to assume chocolate is restricted to romance alone. Many authors have used chocolate - as a metaphor, for characterization or just a prop. Different ways, different genres. Here are some excerpts. 

1. A Tale of Two Cities (1859, Historical) by Charles Dickens Monseigneur was about to take his chocolate…. One lacquey carried the chocolate-pot into the sacred presence; a second, milled and frothed the chocolate with the little instrument he bore for that function; a third, presented the favoured napkin; a fourth (he of the two gold watches), poured the chocolate out. It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens.  

2. Proof of the Pudding (1910, Short fiction) by O. Henry "Smoke, Shack?" said Editor Westbrook, sinking cautiously upon the virulent green bench. He always yielded gracefully when he did yield. Dawe snapped at the cigar as a kingfisher darts at a sunperch, or a girl pecks at a chocolate cream. 

3. Peril at End House (1932, Crime) by Agatha Christie ‘It was a box of chocolates.’ ‘Ah! sacré. And I told her to eat nothing—nothing—that came from outside.’ ‘I don’t know about that. It’s hard work keeping a girl from a box of chocolates. She only ate one, thank goodness.’ 

4. The Da Vinci Code (2003, Thriller) by Dan Browne "Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome like some of our younger awardees, this forty-something academic has more than his share of scholarly allure. His captivating presence is punctuated by an unusually low, baritone speaking voice, which his female students describe as 'chocolate for the ears.’” The hall erupted in laughter. 

5. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (2016, Memoir) by Trevor Noah As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark chocolate, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate. 

At Write…Edit…Publish…(WEP) we celebrate flash fiction by writing to a prompt every alternate month. The current prompt is based on Chocolat by Joanne Harris (1999, Magical Realism with an overdose of chocolate). The linky is open 16th - 18th August. Come join the fun! All you need is love. For writing, that is. And a bit of chocolate! 

WEP is also presently open for submissions to its first-ever flash fiction Anthology. Be in it! 


Nilanjana Bose blogs at Madly-in-Verse. She is a poet, essayist and short fiction writer. Also a quiet follower of the IWSG and a not-so-quiet part of WEP for more than a decade.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

#IWSG Day: August 2023 - When you feel conflicted about your words...

 Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

 Now let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 02nd posting of the IWSG are:  Kate Larkindale, Diane Burton, Janet Alcorn, and Shannon Lawrence!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

August 02nd question: Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

Can you recall a book you’ve read over and over again? You’ve probably highlighted phrases and sentences that you love, and/or scribbled notes in the margins of this book. This signifies a single truth:

These words made you feel something.

And it was likely some form of discomfort.

Yes, we want the warm and fuzzies; words that uplift us and stir our soul.
But some of the most effective writing also makes us feel a bit unsettled and shift in our seats. It makes us confront truths that we don’t want to hear or perhaps didn’t know we needed to hear. There is an inherent connection with writing that has an undercurrent of unease.

So when you feel conflicted about something that you’ve written, ask yourself, why am I so conflicted about this writing?

Remember that you don’t have to show these words to anybody; but they are important, as they form part of your writerly growth as you begin to dig deeper and deeper to reveal your more authentic self.

Whether you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it – it doesn’t matter. What IS important, is that you dared to venture into territory that made you feel uncomfortable.

Dig deeper and embrace the words that make you feel conflicted. You will probably surprise yourself and in the process you will become a stronger writer.

Monday, July 24, 2023

How to Reveal Your Character’s Vulnerability (Even Though It’s Human Nature to Hide It)

Encouraging an emotional bond between a reader and the protagonist is one of the most important jobs a writer has. We do this through empathy - a deep, meaningful connection that forms when we put the reader into the character’s emotional shoes. Many writers struggle with how to do this because it usually means showing the character’s vulnerability.

This can be a tall order if one has a tough character who equates emotions with weakness, because their hard shell prevents anyone from getting close (thanks a lot, emotional wounds). The problem is, readers need to get close, so we need to find a way to make that happen.

As people, we connect to vulnerability. It makes us feel that we are seeing into the heart of who someone truly is. So, making sure our characters experience vulnerability, no matter how tough, how jaded, how determined they are to hide what they feel, is incredibly important.

The problem is that most people don’t like feeling vulnerable, and so true-to-life characters won’t either. This leaves writers with a conundrum: how do they show their character in a vulnerable light to help create that closeness with the reader, yet stay true to authentic human behavior?

The answer lies in understanding universal triggers for vulnerability, and then placing the protagonist in the path of one.

Psychological Situations that Cause Vulnerability

Not knowing what will happen next.

People crave control, of having power over what the future will bring. Take this away and there’s only the feeling of not knowing, of having no influence or say in the outcome. By placing the power someone else’s hands-their choices, actions, and decisions--you rob your character of control. The resulting feelings of frustration, anxiety and even despair are all ones that reinforce vulnerability. Readers have all experienced a loss of control and so will deeply identify with the character’s range of feelings. 

Mistakes they make.

Despite best efforts, we all make mistakes. Not only do we hate it when one happens, we tend to beat ourselves up about it, growing frustrated and disappointed for not being smarter, stronger, or better. Characters who make mistakes and who think and feel as people do will come across as authentic and human. And the bonus? Mistakes lead to plot complications & conflict!

Personal failures.

Being unable to do what one has set out to do is one of the most heartbreaking moments an individual can experience, and it will be the same for a character. A hero’s personal failure, especially one that carries repercussions for others, is one way to break down those steel walls and reveal their vulnerability.

A death or loss.

A deep, personal loss is never easy. Often a person only realizes what they had or what something meant when it’s gone. Again, this is a universal feeling, something all readers can identify with. Written well, seeing a character experience loss will remind readers of their own experiences. Death is final, but other losses can be potent as well. The loss of hope is particularly wounding. 

Challenging their role.

Whatever the character’s role is (a leader, a provider, a source of comfort, etc.), having it challenged can be devastating. Roles are tied to identity: the husband who loses his job may no longer be able to provide for his family. The leader who made a bad decision must witness the resulting lack of faith from his followers. The mother who fails to keep her child safe feels unsuited for motherhood. When a role is challenged through choice, circumstances, or competitors, it creates self-doubt, making the character feel vulnerable in a way readers identify with.

Casting doubt on what they believe.

Each person has set beliefs about the universe, how the world works, and the people in it, allowing them to understand their place in the big picture and instilling feelings of belonging. When knowledge surfaces that puts trusted beliefs into question, the character suffers disillusionment, a powerful feeling that can make them feel adrift in their own life.

Disillusionment is an emotional blow that everyone has felt, so it can be a good way to trigger that feeling of shared experience between the character and reader.

Through worry for another. 

This ties into that loss of control mentioned above, because try as they might, a person will encounter situations where they can’t influence circumstances affecting a loved one. Fear and worry lead to roadblocks on how to proceed, and the feeling of powerless about it all causes a great deal of vulnerability. Put your characters in this situation where they can’t fix a problem for someone they care for and show how it feels to be unable to steer the outcome.

Revealing their secret. 

Secrets are hidden for a reason and are often the source of guilt or shame. When the character’s secret is revealed, they are stripped of their security, and will they believe others will view them differently as a result. Readers can empathize with this raw feeling of being exposed.

Have ideas on other ways to make our character feel vulnerable?
 Let me know in the comments!


Angela Ackerman
is a story coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, and its many sequels. Available in nine languages, her guides are sourced by US universities, recommended by agents and editors, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, and psychologists around the world. To date, this book collection has sold over a million copies. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers®, as well as One Stop for Writers®, a portal to game-changing tools and resources that enable writers to craft powerful fiction. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you’d like to download the tip sheet on secrets above, you can do so HERE.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Inspiring Advice From IWSG Experts

Writing can be a discouraging journey. That is why today, we are going to bring you some hope from past and present IWSG Admins.

A lot of people are going to weigh in on your work. Attend to what your instincts tell you is valid and helpful. Set aside what doesn’t serve to get your story where you believe it should go. This, BTW, is darned hard and takes practice.
– C. Lee McKenzie

Keep writing and dreaming. Take breaks for a while, if needed, but come back. Always, keep a list of your accomplishments and a few kind phrases from writer friends nearby, just in case you need this armor to fight trolls - don't let them live under your bridge of creativity and threaten you with insecurity. Never give up, never surrender! :)
- Tyrean Martinson

Don't listen to the nay-sayers, yet be open to critique. Read frequently and widely. Remind yourself why you love to write. And just keep writing, and writing, and writing...
- Elle Cardy/Lynda Young

If you try to please everyone, you will lose your enjoyment of writing. Write the story you want to read, the one that makes you happy, because there are people out there who will be happy to read it too.
– Christine Rains

Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone has different circumstances and/or are in different parts of their writing journey. Yours will be your own. No one can write your words but you.
Not all advice or rules are to be followed. Think for yourself and if the so-called writing rule isn't working for you then break it.v Above all else, never ever try to please everyone or you will fail before you even get started. There will always be someone that dislikes your writing no matter how good it is. It could be the best ever and someone will hate it. It could be the worst ever and someone will love it. You can't please everyone in anything in life, so don't try. Write the story you want to tell, find a good group, take constructive feedback, and ignore the naysayers. Don't engage them either. They live for that. Ignore and don't let them deter you from your writing goals.
- Pat Hatt

My advice to beginning and veteran writers is to find your people. Most of the time, writers work alone as they pick or pound at the keyboard. But working alone doesn't mean a writer needs to be lonely. Find your community whether it is a face-to-face group or an online group. If you're really lucky, you'll find both. Your tribe not only provides mental and emotional support and energy, they know most of what you need to know to be a successful writer, or they know someone who knows. They are a resource and an inspiration. IWSG has been my online community for all its years and I hope many years to come.
- Susan Gourley

A business partner from long ago had a saying. “When the dream’s big enough the facts don’t matter.” And that certainly applies to writers. If your goal is big enough and a burning desire, you will find a way to make it a reality.
And either path you take, traditional or self-publishing, will require an education. Learn all you can about every aspect of your chosen path. You have once chance to make a good impression and do it right.
- L. Diane Wolfe

You will always doubt, whether it’s your first book or tenth. Is it the vision you wanted to create and will others enjoy it? You have to go on faith. Believe in yourself. Believe in your creation. If you believe, it doesn’t matter what other people think. You will know in your heart you gave it your best.
- Alex J. Cavanaugh

When sales aren’t plentiful and you feel discouraged, please remember that even if you only had one book sale in a particular month, a reader chose your story over a million others, and give yourself a pat on the back.
- Sandra Cox

The key to success is persistence despite failure, adapting, pivoting, and being open to new ways of looking at things, or doing, or learning. The ones that never give up eventually, find success by their own definition, by building a body of work that allows readers to learn to trust you as an author and creator. It also builds confidence in your-self and creates new skills in an industry that is always changing. Key: Know what you really want, and what you are willing to do to gain the skills to achieve it. Simply put: Never give up!
- Juneta Key

The intersection of what you enjoy writing + identification of your strength + growth opportunities = your sweet spot.
For example, I love writing flash fiction. Short bursts of writing exhilarate me + I’m quite good at it + it fosters tight, lean writing habits = win, win, win.
Oh, and did I mention the fun factor?
If writing feels tedious or like a slog, then something is off. Even during the difficult moments (which is normal and which there will be plenty of, trust me…) try to find that spark and what drew you to writing in the first place.
- Michelle Wallace

What inspiring encouragement would you offer?

Monday, July 10, 2023

Creating Scenes In Short Story


Photo by richard thomposn on Unsplash

What makes a scene in a story?

I have written a few short stories, and I have plans to write more. One of my focus points while learning to write short stories has been scene creation.

This was a really big thing for me to get my head around. I wanted to really understand what is a scene and specifically what it needed to be for a shorter story.

So, I have been reading a lot. Here is what I have learned so far.

What is a scene?

A scene is a small moment or incident within a larger story that contributes to the overall movement and story end goal or story ARC. (Definition of story arc via Wikipedia.)

What makes a scene?

Three things MUST be present.
  • A setting where the action takes place.
  • A character with a deep personal need, goal, desire, or a situation they must take action physically, emotionally (internally paired with consequence), or in dialogue with purpose.
  • Scene movement that causes a small or bigger change that affects the story — character.
The problem should strongly connect to the character's deep need/want or story/scene goal (internal), or in opposition to it, which will motivate/drive him to take external action.
(Character motivation/drive via Reedsy blog.)

In flash fiction, you have no room for backstory, or even a lot of character development, so the sooner your character takes action, the better.

In fact, start as close to the end of the story as you can and/or in the middle of the action, if possible with flash fiction. (For more about flash fiction, see my article here, What makes a good flash fiction piece?)

When writing a short story of 3000 to 10,000 words you have a bit more room for character development and description, but backstory sparse, if any.

In short stories, word limits create the story limits.

How do you know the scene has ended or a short has ended?

Something changed. That is it. It can be a series of changes or one small change. It depends on the size of your story and the goal of the scene planned in relation to your entire story.

If the time or location changes, that is definitely a scene change. The key in shorts is giving the reader a sense of closure or story ending.

Does a scene have a story structure?

Every scene has a forward progression, or what is the point? A scene should have a beginning where the character has a goal, want, and need. It should have a middle where there is at least one try/fail cycle that generates some conflict and friction.

The scene end should have a resolution, or disaster, but a definite shift, or change forward or backward related to the story being told.

My short stories can have up to four to eight scene shifts or changes. Flash fiction (500 to 1000 word scenes) could have two to three shifts, or only one, while a story (3000 to 4500-word count) could have ten or more. (Definition of story transition via Wikipedia.)

Example Flash Fiction, The Letter. One Scene.

Here is what you need to write a scene:

  • Setting is part of the character's world — the ordinary world or problem world.
  • A character with a big need/desire — a goal/problem. If the character (want) opposes their (need), all the better.
  • Conflict: Limited or no choices. Something that forces the character to take an external ACTION. Bonus if that action is driven by their internal need.
In summary, you need a setting that a character enters with a problem that he must take action on. The problem has to be big enough that the character cannot ignore it. Whatever it is, will force the character to act or react to it, even if he refuses to deal with it.

I hope this helped you get a better picture of scene function and creation.

You can read some of Juneta’s flash fiction and short stories here and find her here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

IWSG Day The Heat Is On For Ideas

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. 

And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and Natalie Aguirre!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

July 5 Question - 99% of my story ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?

Does come from anywhere and everywhere count? All it takes is hearing a word or an idea or an argument and away I go. Ideas can easily come from talking to rugrats too and letting them go off a cliff with their own spin on things. Sometimes following them off said cliff isn't such a bad story idea. No literal cliffs though. Parents frown on that.

I do get a lot from dreams as well. I have had dreams that go on all night that I jot down in the morning for an idea. The list of ideas goes on and on that I have.

I'm not saying they are all good or that they will work, but they are constantly coming. All one really has to do is listen and keep their eyes peeled and ideas can flow. Even something as simple as a red rock sitting in the middle of a pile of normal grey rocks can spark an idea if you let it.

Any of your ideas come from dreams? Do you find it hard to think up ideas? Is the heat really on? Why would you have it on in the summer? Unless it's winter where you are, then I guess it would be on.

Happy IWSG Day!