Why Word Count Matters

Why Word Count Matters

By Randy Ingermanson

I’ve noticed an interesting fact about my successful novelist friends.

Word count matters to them. A lot.

They may have a daily word count quota or a weekly quota. But they have a target.

When you have a target, you have a chance of hitting it. If you don’t have a target, you’re guaranteed not to hit it.

Word count matters because that’s what gets you to the finish line of your novel.

You can have all sort of amazing plot twists for your story. You can have brilliant characters. Snappy dialogue. A dazzling theme.

None of those will do you any good unless you get them on the page. As words.

A short novel is around 60,000 words. A medium length novel is around 90,000. A long one might run 120,000. An epic could go 200,000 or more.

You don’t pile up that many words without putting down some serious word count on a regular basis.

My friend James Scott Bell used to talk about the “nifty three-fifty.” The idea was that you sit down to write and you don’t stop until you’ve got 350 words.

That may not seem like a lot, hardly worth doing. But at least it’s a very doable target. I can drill out that many words in about 20 minutes at my usual pace for writing first draft copy. Even a slow writer can produce 350 words in an hour.

So a “nifty three-fifty” target is easy to hit every day.

Continue Reading…

1 Comment

Meet 2014 Best of the Best Runner-Up Kenn Allan

Kenn Allan is no stranger to FaithWriters, the Writing Challenge, OR Best of the Best. In fact, he held the crown eight years ago (see his first Best of the Best interview here). Join Joanne Sher as she gets an update on his life, his reaction to his 3rd place win, and a bit on what inspires him.

JOANNE: First of all, Kenn, congratulations! Can you tell me what your reaction was when you learned one of your entries placed 3rd in Best of the Best this year?

KENN: Hiya, Joanne. I suppose my reaction is best described as “pleasantly surprised.” I had completely forgotten about my eligible challenge entries until receiving the notification. I suspect I might have squealed a bit but I’m not sure.

JOANNE: Your winning entry, Nature Speaks, is a beautiful piece on how nature declares God’s attributes. What was your inspiration for this piece? Do you recall how it came together?

KENN: I’ve always been in awe of God’s creation; it’s easy to catch a glimpse of Eden if you look hard enough. Nature Speaks was an expression of Psalms 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.” Although pleased with the finished work, the rigid nature of the left margin glitched me; after all, the poem spoke of God’s creative nature and He rarely uses straight lines. So, anyway, that’s why the left margin is curved.

Continue Reading…

No Comments

Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

by Linda Yezak

When you’re awake at three a.m. agonizing over your manuscript, whose voice do you hear? What is it saying?

If you’re hearing your characters working out their tough scene, you’re in good shape. If you’re hearing the encouraging cheer of someone who supports and believes in you, you’re in really good shape.

The voice that makes me most angry is the one that whispers “you can’t do this.” The best way to shut that voice up is to prove it wrong.

But then, there’s the voice that says “you shouldn’t do this.” Great advice if you’re planning something stupid, but if you’re not—then what?

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you already know I’m having trouble with Corporate Ladder. It went rogue not long ago, and I needed to decide what to do with the intense scene I’d written too early. It was a good scene, a logical progression from what I’d built in before, but it was too intense for the first quarter of the novel. I reread it yesterday and decided to yank it out and save it for later.

As I read it, I heard voices in my head. Familiar voices–people I know whose advice is usually sound. They were saying what they always say when I work on Corporate Ladder: “don’t.” Hearing these voices may be one of the reasons CL has been a work in progress since 2009 and never a completed manuscript. The other reason is that it’s my first serious work, and I want to do it right. I want it to be, not just good, but exceptional.

Continue Reading…

No Comments

Share Your Testimony

Every Christian has a testimony – many more than one. Whether it is how you were saved or how God was with you through circumstances, we all have a story to tell of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace. And as writers, putting it down on paper may be the most logical thing to do.

And FaithWriters is giving you the opportunity to not only write it down – but to share it with the world, get it in print, and participate in royalties. But time is running out!

September 15 2014 (that’s just ten days away!) is the deadline to submit for the second testimony contest. The first contest led to the publication of 40 testimonies of FaithWriters members in the Trials and Triumphs book. YOU could be the next person published!

All gold and platinum members (including those published in the first book)are eligible to enter (click here to upgrade). Simply write up your true testimony (either salvation or God’s work in your difficulties) in 1,200 words or less, check it (or have someone else do so) for editing/proofreading issues, and submit before that deadline. (Please see the contest rules and guidelines here – scroll down a bit – for more details) Fifty of the testimonies submitted will be selected for inclusion in FaithWriters’ second testimony book. All authors will receive a percentage of royalties from the publication of this book.

Don’t wait too long – ten days will go by quick. Enter!

No Comments

Critting It Right

Critting it Right
By Delia Latham

Critiques are a literary “bread of life” to some writers. Others shudder at the thought of allowing another author to rip/tear/shred at their carefully chosen words.

Here’s my take on the subject. A solid critique can mean the difference in having a manuscript (which may never be seen by anyone other than the writer and the editors who reject it) or a novel (which makes the journey from writer to critique partner to writer to editor – and then into print and available to readers).

I’m not here to laud the value of a critique. If your mind is made up to hate them, I doubt I could change it anyway. So this article is for those of you who, like me, wouldn’t dare send a manuscript out without your critique partner – or better yet, partners – having seen it first.

I’ll talk about giving constructive criticism. Since I’m certainly not the reigning guru, you can take or toss anything I say – just as I hope you would do if I critiqued your manuscript. Because that’s the whole idea, isn’t it? Get someone else’s take on your work. She’ll watch for typos and misspellings, sentences that don’t flow well, and inconsistencies (like your hero having blue eyes in one chapter and brown in another). She’ll also make suggestions she thinks will improve your words. The thing to remember with a critique is that, just because your crit partner makes a suggestion does not mean you must use it. It’s a suggestion. Something to consider. That’s all.

(That’s the extent of what I’ll say about receiving a critique.)

All that said, critiques can hurt. I’ve been there. So, while it’s important to be honest (otherwise, what’s the point?), it’s also important to be nice. Making the writer feel unspeakably stupid should not be your goal.

Continue Reading…

3 Comments

Blank and Blank – Rise to the Challenge!

Well, we’re in the middle of the current Writing Challenge quarter, and the topics have been pretty fun – and always double! This quarter, every topic is TWO words that you need to write about (this is AND, not OR), and whether it be husband and wife, salt and pepper, or day and night, some wonderful pieces were created.

The newest topic, which opened yesterday, is CUP and SAUCER. Lots of ways to approach it. And there are still a handful of topics left after that until the challenge takes a break for a couple weeks.

Want to enter? Ponder the topic, and write a piece between 150 and 750 words about it and submit your entry no later than 10:59 AM ET on Thursday, September 4. Gold and Platinum members can enter each week, while silver members can try out the challenge a total of four times. You can also find a buddy group to look your entry over before you enter, and chat about the topic if you’d like on the FaithWriters forums. See more details on the rules/guidelines at the Challenge main page.

Once the topic closes, be sure to read and comment on others’ entries – there will certainly be gems for you. And watch the brick throwing thread on the boards for the all clear – this is a GREAT place to post the direct link to your entry once judging is completed (please do NOT share your entry publicly before you hear that judging is done to protect the integrity of the process). Then watch the FOLLOWING Thursday for the challenge winners.

Give the challenge a try – hope to see you there!

 

No Comments

So You Want To be a Writer

So You Want to be a Writer

By Jennifer Slattery

First of all, run now, while you still have a chance. Just kidding. But seriously, writing is not for the thin-skinned. And it isn’t nearly as glamorous as it might seem. In fact, most days you’ll be glued to your computer, still in PJ’s at two in the afternoon, ball cap by your side in case one of your normal, presentable neighbors happen by. Although truth be told, you probably won’t answer the door anyway. Or the phone. Until the tips of your fingers throb from pounding your keyboard and your eyes cross from hours upon hours of edits.

Then you’ll stand up to force blood into your numbed legs and glance out the window as you try to reconnect with reality. You’d love to have someone to chat with, only all your neighbors are at work. You call a friend and leave a message. You hop on Facebook and make a few random posts. You pace the room and argue with yourself (only because your dog won’t join the debate). Then you toss all thoughts of socialization aside and bunker down. But hey, you’ve always got the heroine in your latest novel. She’s your friend, right?

Actually, I totally love what I do. I can’t envision myself doing anything else. (And believe me, I’ve tried. When I’ve noticed a fatal plot error requiring a total re-write or my computer crashes halfway through a 90,000 word document.) But I’m still here, plugging away, day after day, word after word. Only now, I’ve learned to do things differently.

  • #I find ways to stay connected. When I first started writing, I did it alone. It wasn’t long before I fell into a pattern of discouragement. We all experience that once in awhile, when our negative self-talk runs amuck and those fears, insecurities and frustrations bite away at our resolve. Now I’m a part of three writer’s groups and I cherish the support they offer. I’ve also taken the time to nurture deeper relationships with a few ladies I’ve met along the way. Yeah, they’re largely internet and phone relationships, but they work. My greatest resource has been the American Christian Fiction Writers network. They have an amazing online loop, numerous mature Christian authors who love pouring into the lives of newbies, and a phenomenal critique group.
  • Continue Reading…
4 Comments

Have You Written a (Nonfiction) Page Turner?

Got a great nonfiction book in your drawer? Or started on your computer? Or even just an idea for one? If you are a FaithWriters Platinum member, there is a fabulous contest you can enter, at no charge, that could get your book published!

The eighth annual Page Turner writing contest (sponsored by FaithWriters.com, Finesse Writing and Editing Service, and Breath of Fresh Air Press) is now open, and this year, it’s for non-fiction. All you need to do is write the first chapter, together with a basic book proposal/overview of the planned book, and then submit it. And you have until the end of October to do it (which is coming up faster than you think – trust me!).

If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500 , you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you. If you are not yet a Platinum member (click here to upgrade), this is the perfect reason to upgrade your membership.

The deadline to enter is October 31, 2014 – that’s only 69 days to go!

Why enter, you ask? The prizes are quite impressive.

One entry will be chosen as the FaithWriters Page Turner Champion for the year, with the author receiving:

1. A fabulous cash prize of $800;

2. Free editing of their manuscript (up to 300 double spaced pages);

3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication;

4. A special Page Turner Champion award plaque.

5. Publication of winning manuscript by new Christian publisher, Breath of Fresh Air Press (publisher of the new line of Mixed Blessings books) – if at least 15 entries are submitted.

6. Free conference registration for the 2015 US FaithWriters Conference (see terms and conditions).

Two runners-up will also receive FaithWriters Page Turner Highly Commended award plaques and the offer of half price editing for their manuscript. They will also receive free registration for the 2015 US FaithWriters Conference (see terms and conditions).

Check out this link for more details if you are already a platinum member. (General details can be found here)

So, get working on your nonfiction manuscript!

No Comments

What Do You Do For a Living? Your Characters at Work

What Do You Do For a Living? Your Characters at Work

By Dorothy Love

Giving your characters the right job can help your novel in three ways:

  • *it helps with characterization
  • *it lends credibility you, the author
  • *it suggests ideas for plot

In medical novels, cowboy-themed novels, and detective novels, the job is the novel. If Miss Marple were not an amateur sleuth, there would be no story, for example. But you can still use your character’s job to characterize him/her, because the why of someone’s job is is more telling than the what. Is your character driving a bus because he likes it, or because it was the best he could get? Does your heroine work with abused children because her mother expected it, or because she’s trying to hear hidden wounds from her own childhood?  Is your character’s job a daily trial, or the realization of a lifelong dream?  A salesman who rushes to his first appointment full of excitement is different from one who loathes the very thought of another sales call. Regardless of the job, is your character good at it ( even if she hates it), does she care?  Showing your readers the answers to these questions can reveal more about character than merely telling them she is a sales clerk or an accountant.

Giving your characters  specific jobs also helps place them into a socio-economic level and can telegraph to your reader information about their backgrounds. Readers will make very different assumptions about a professor at Harvard Law than about a school custodian.  But you can also surprise your readers by playing against type. Suppose the custodian speaks three languages and owns a classic automobile? Readers will turn the pages to discover why he chose to work as a school custodian. But you will have to work harder to show readers why he made that choice.

When choosing your characters’ jobs, consider their world view, their self image, their natural abilities and their social class. To preserve your credibility, choose jobs that you know a lot about, or that you can learn about. Include enough detail to make the story seem real.

If you are working on a novel now, what jobs have you given your characters? How do those jobs inform your story?

**

Dorothy LoveBefore moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times.  The second book, Beauty For Ashes, released  in early 2012. The third and final book, Every Perfect Gift, released at the end of 2012. CAROLINA GOLD, Dorothy’s next novel, a stand alone historical, was published in November of 2013. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: www.DorothyLoveBooks.com or her author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks

No Comments

Another Month to Submit Your Testimony!

In case you haven’t seen, the deadline to enter FaithWriters’ second Testimony contest has been extended another month. You now have until September 15, 2014 to submit your testimony for possible publication (and participation in royalties) in FaithWriters’ second testimony book.

All upgraded  members (click here to upgrade if necessary) who were not published in FaithWriters’ first book Trials and Triumphs are eligible to enter. Simply write your testimony (either of salvation or of keeping your faith during struggles) according to the contest guidelines n 1,200 words or less, and submit it before the contest deadline of September 15, 2014. The 50 entries selected will not only be published, but the authors will participate in royalties from the book’s sales.

Sound good? Check out the guidelines, and get working on your testimony!

 

No Comments