Category Archives: For Authors

Author Tip: Is Short Story Writing Something You Should Do?

Why Short Stories

You may not have considered short story writing before, but here are some reasons why you should. This article will also tell you how to go about crafting a short story.

Short stories are for everyone. They are fun and easy to read as well as easy to write. Short stories can be read in one or two sittings, they grip the reader’s attention and don’t let go until the end. They are popular. Remember all of those story ideas that just weren’t developed enough for that novel? These are perfect little critters to get you started writing short stories.

Maybe you are a new author just starting out trying to finish up that first great book. Or maybe you’re an experienced author working on a sequel or at best trying to dream one up. As a writer you need to keep busy and stay focused. Writing is a business, unless you truly believe you’ve only have just that one great one in you, you should be working on ways to expand your business of writing. Here are some reasons you should consider short story writing.

  • You will add more books to your brand.
  • You will improve your exposure.
  • You can write them fast.
  • You will improve your skills as a writer.
  • You will publish more often and have more books out there for consumers.
  • You have the potential to reach more people and make more money.
  • You will experience satisfaction from completing new works.

What Is Short Story Writing All About

What is a Short Story

A short story can be from 1500 words to 30,000.

JK-Rowlings-Phoenix-Plot-Outline

JK Rowling’s Phoenix Plot Outline

How to Develop a Short Story

First, you start with your idea. Now you take the idea and map it out with an outline. Don’t be too serious at first, let the idea guide you.

You develop your short story the same way you do a traditional manuscript. Flesh out your idea with an outline. Start by separating your idea into three acts, the beginning, middle, and end. Each act has a beginning, middle and end as well. These can be chapters. And each chapter has a beginning and middle and end. These can be scenes. By writing each chapter as it unfolds like the flow of a book, you have the power to keep your story strong and your readers engaged.

Story Outline

If you have trouble setting up your outline, the steps below are ones that I refer to and find helpful.

The First Act:

  1. The hook: the first page in the first chapter catches your reader’s attention and convinces them to read on.
  2. The inciting event: the first event that befalls in your story. This is what kicks everything off. What event starts the ball rolling in your stories plot?
  3. The key event: this is what drags your protagonist into the plot. Your character has to be pulled into the mess. This is where your character becomes officially engaged in your story.
  4. The first plot point: marks the end of the first act and the beginning of the second. This is where everything changes for your character. The first act sets up your characters ‘normal’ world and introduces the important characters, the settings, and describes the stakes. The first plot point should rock that normal world. Everything changes and your protagonist will be forced to start reaching to the new status quo.

The Second Act:

  1. The first half of the second act: Your character is going to spend the first half of the second half of the book in reaction mode. For the next quarter of the book your protagonist will be fighting to keep their head above the water.
  2. The midpoint: Your stories second major plot point. This is where everything changes again. But now your protagonist is prepared due to the last shake-up and is ready to start taking action rather than just reacting. This belongs smack in the middle of your story.
  3. The second half of the second act: After the midpoint your character is going to start going on the offensive. They are no longer willing to let the antagonist simply bring the fight to them. They will start implementing their own plans and throwing off their insecurities. This continues to three-quarters of the way through the book and the beginning of the third act.

The Third Act:

  1. The third plot point: this is your final major plot point that changes everything. Whatever happens here is going to force your character to a low place. They will have to analyze their actions and motivations and get down to the core of their own personal character arch. This is where they will start to identify their own destructive or ineffective mindsets and start rejecting the personal traits that have held them back up until now. Begins at the 75% mark.
  2. The climax: this is what it’s all about. Your climax is where your story finally gets down to business. This is the point of the whole story. This is where the conflict must finally be resolved. Although events will be heating up all the way through the third act, the Climax Proper won’t begin until around the 90% mark. The climactic moment itself won’t hit until the very end, perhaps a scene or two from the end of the book.
  3. The resolution: caps your story with finality. This important scene is the exhale to your climax’s inhale. Here you give readers the opportunity to see how your character will react to the events of the climax. How are they a different person than they were in the beginning? How has the world changed around them? How does their future look from here?

 

How Short Stories Can Boost Your Writing Career from the Creative Penn

Get into bookstores

Write short stories and publish them with companies who are already producing titles that you can find in bookstores. There are plenty of short story markets that are available at Barnes and Noble. To find them, simply go down to your local shop and ask about them. The assistant will happily direct you toward their magazine rack or anthologies.

Expand your presence on retail sites

Now that bookstores are digital, retail space is infinite. So how do you stand out in an infinite bookstore? By taking up the largest percentage of that bookstore as possible. The more room you take up, the more likely someone is to stumble onto your work.

Short stories can help fill out your presence on retailer websites. While a novel can take upwards of a year to publish from start to finish, short stories can be written, edited, and finished in a much shorter time frame; and with a smaller budget.

By publishing short stories alongside your longer work, you expand your presence on a retailer website, and thus come up more often in searches and on featured pages. This extra traffic will increase sales of your other titles

Fill in the gaps between novel releases

Novels are hard work. It can take months or sometimes years to get them right. The publishing process might have been majorly simplified by modern tools, but the writing process is still just as arduous as ever.

Short stories, by comparison, are simpler. Not easier, because writing a great short story is still a major challenge. But the process is much simpler. Writing short stories is similar to writing a single scene (or a few scenes) for a novel. Except, you don’t have to pay attention to an over-arching storyline.

Publishing short fiction while working on a novel is a great method to keep your audience reading your stuff and gives you something to promote while you work on your big project.

Experiment with new genres.

Short stories are a smaller commitment than a novel. You can write a short story in a new genre in a weekend and file it away if it doesn’t work. If you put the time in required to write a novel in a new genre, you might feel obligated to then publish it and put your full power behind it. That is a huge risk and most authors simply avoid it.

The risk involved with writing and publishing shorts is much lower. It is a medium that is open to experimentation. I find that a lot of writers are pigeon-holed into the genre they write and feel that if they wrote in other genres, they won’t find success. That is simply not true.

If you’ve never explored other genres and other mediums, you don’t know what will work for you. Especially if you haven’t found the success you’ve been looking for, experimentation with short stories is a great way to figure out what your readers want and to then follow it up with a novel.

Expand your universe.

In addition to all of the previously mentioned benefits to writing and publishing short fiction, the most interesting to me is to use short fiction to expand a fictional universe that you’ve already created.

I’m sure there have been tons of scenes that you’ve had to cut because they just didn’t work in your novel. Why not flesh those scenes out as short stories and put them up as companion pieces? Your readers want to know more about your characters. They already love them (or they should, right?). You can skip a lot of the backstory and reward your true fans with extra scenes that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get.

An astonishingly small number of writers actually do this, less than 1%. You’re working hard to write your stories. Don’t just trash every scene that doesn’t fit. Re-purpose it as a supplemental short. Or write that scene that you’ve always wanted to write as a short and give your readers an extra taste of something different. Who knows, it might catch on and be the influence for you to write a new novel with a market-proven hook.

Short stories are a struggling form of writing when compared to novels. But they don’t have to be. Writers who approach writing short stories from a smarter perspective, one that uses insights from marketing and experience in the industry, can revive the short story. It happens one short at a time.

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Hi! It’s Me! I’m Back!

I’m Your Cover Designer…

I know it’s been a while, and I’m so excited to be back.

I have the use of my right arm again, the maker of art, finally!

I’m back to designing book covers and recently finished illustrating another children’s book. And here I am, writing again. Thanks to my followers for sticking around for the best is yet to come, seriously. I have so missed being a part of the conversation, discussing your posts and what you are up to. Catching up is going to be the highlight of my days.

…Or Hope to Be

Thanks to all you new folks for stopping by. I’ve been busy designing book covers for indie authors and writing or working at writing, since 2012. These have been some of the best times of my life, I’ve met some amazingly talented people over the years.

You should subscribe or follow me for all these reasons:

      • This is going to be a great year for writer’s and their teams.
      • I love to promote your work.
      • You can guest blog with me.
      • I have tons of info that I know you will find useful.
      • I’m an artist, so there will be pretty pictures.
      • I have contests and give away free custom-designed graphics.

What am I so excited about?

Well, everything!

Because of the world’s current events, many of us are getting some time to get back to what we love. For me, it’s getting back to work with all of you, diving deep into my art, and writing again. So, here’s a list of what I have planned so far!

Coming this year:

      • First of all, lots of catching up with what you are all up to!
      • I have ten new articles planned to write from the gate. Tons of cool topics!
      • I will be announcing the first FREE CUSTOM GRAPHICS contest with a winner announced in March!
      • I want to work harder to help you authors get noticed! Talk to me, what can I do!
      • Lots of new cover designs to share!
      • Publishing my new book!
          • Setting up my launch team – goals, prizes, and tons of fun!
      • Illustrating a new children’s book!
      • Celebrating my newfound voice and your talented voices as well!

Let’s chat!

Hey, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them below. Better yet, leave me a link to your blog so I can come exploring!

Don’t forget to subscribe!

Thanks for reading, see you soon!

Michelle Rene

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How to Create a Book Cover Concept

Every author wants the perfect cover for their book.

A cover that will sell copies!

And that’s the frame of mind you need to have when it comes to your book cover design concept.

What is a concept in graphic design?

Although the answer to this question may seem pretty straight forward, it’s not. Your cover design concept is how you show the world what they can expect from your book. What you need is a plan that integrates images, fonts, content, and context. Content is the value your readers will derive from the book. Context is the circumstances of your book, its environment, and its genre.

What won’t sell copies?

There are a lot of things a designer will tell you that you shouldn’t do in concept design. But the three following things will get you by to start.

A scene from your book:

Although it can be seriously tempting to want to use a great scene from your book as the cover design, it will not translate to the viewer. You want to communicate through your design what the reader will get out of the book. Your cover should express your genre and what the book delivers.

Too much information:

You might think that in order to communicate your story to the reader, you will need several different images put together in one busy design. Bad idea! Too much for the eyes and mind to absorb in a flash of a second is distracting. You want to keep it simple.

A lack of cohesion:

Fonts matter. Don’t use common fonts that come with Word. That’s a design no-no. Go get some custom fonts. Use the same font and size for your author name on every book and place your name in the same spot on every book. Don’t use more than three fonts. Make sure the first and second fonts don’t clash. They should be in the same family of fonts. And it goes without question that you shouldn’t use custom fonts that will clash with your genre. If you are working on a series of books, you should follow a common theme and use the same fonts on all of them. Until you’re famous, you may want to steer clear of unique cover designs and instead go with the feel of your genre.

02

Where to start?

The best place to start is on Amazon. Go research books in your genre that are selling and see what the popular cover styles are.

  • What do they have in common?
  • What mood do they convey?
  • Can you clearly discern the genre of the books?
  • What types of fonts are they using?
  • What is the focal point of these designs? (a person, an object, etc.)
  • What is the design layout?
  • What are the color pallets? (notice that no covers will use pure black or pure white)
  • How do the covers make use of light and shadow?
  • What does all of the above tell you about each book?

This might seem like cheating, and no one wants to look like everyone else out there. However, your cover is the first chance you get to sell your book. Your first chance to capture the readers’ attention. If the cover catches their eye and the blurb is good, it’s a sale.

Now get busy!

So, for those just starting out in their publishing careers, go with what’s working for others. Your cover will still maintain its own uniqueness but will be clearly recognizable in its genre.

Make sure your cover has a 1/8-inch bleed.

Don’t buy any images until you are happy with one of your concepts. Just right click on stock photos and save them with the watermark. These will work fine for the concept. Just remember where you found them.

When you’re ready to put together the final designs, purchase your images and fonts. Keep a word file with thumbnails of your images and paste the copyright information below them. You’ll need all that copyright info from your images and fonts to show on the copyright page of your book.

Keep your original images and use copies for designing in case you screw up.

Make sure you save your final design in CYMK so the colors remain true when printed.

CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. It is a term most often used in printing as these colors are mixed in the printing process to create the colors of a document. RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. Both RGB and CMYK are modes for mixing color in graphic design. As a quick reference, the RGB color model is best for digital work, while CMYK is used for print products.

Good luck and have fun!

If you liked this post please leave me a note in the comments below!

Free Book Cover Design

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I am happy to be gearing up for the next drawing with the Indie Author Advocate.

This is a drawing which is held four times per year for a free book cover design and more.

Everyone is welcome to enter for a prize of a free design package that includes both your Trade Paperback cover and eBook cover as well as some of our most popular author graphics.

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Once every three months I volunteer my design services to help an indie author get their book and their brand off to a colorful start.

I have been so blessed by, and so welcomed by the indie author community, that I thought this was the least I could do to give back to them.

I do not publicize that I volunteered my time and services to you, so your privacy is respected.

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WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU WIN

This package saves you $700 in design fees, which gives you more to invest in the remainder of the publishing services you might require.

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The next drawing takes place on October 1st 2016 and the prizes can be claimed anytime. Send me an email telling me a little about yourself and your book to enter.

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My Weekly Smile :-)

Thanks to Trent and his experiment, I’m posting about what has made me smile this week – just to express my gratitude for the good things in life. Read more about the experiment at Trent’s Blog.


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Giving Makes Me Smile

I am happy to be gearing up for the next drawing with the Indie Author Advocate. Everyone is welcome to enter for a prize of a free design package that includes both your Trade Paperback cover and eBook cover as well as some of my most popular items such as social media banners, a book teaser, etc.

The next drawing takes place on October 1st and the prizes can be claimed anytime. Send me an email telling me a little about yourself and your book to enter.

I had my first contest winner on the 1st of this month and have been working with her all week on her book covers and marketing materials. It’s been an absolute blast! I wish I could volunteer more of my time more often.

If you’re interested in signing up for the next free design package drawing you can enter above.

What made you smile this week?