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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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Concept Covers for the Indie Drawing Winner!

For about two years I have been volunteering my graphic design services to give back to the writing community.


(I hold a drawing every other month where the winner receives a free book cover design and a book teaser)


I feel so blessed that I get to connect with so many talented people who have welcomed me so warmly, some of which I have had the opportunity to create for (Awesome)!

I have so much fun working with the winners of the drawing that I decided it was time to start sharing – so you could enjoy the process and discover their talent.

This post is all about the concept covers….

Meet K.D. Rose!

The winner for March is author and poet, K.D. Rose, and she’s just awesome! She’s a talented author and a poet. Her book, Inside Sorrow, won Readers Favorite Silver Medal for Poetry. She also won an Honorable Mention in the 2016 New Millennium Writings Poetry Contest. Her poetry, essays, and short stories have been published in numerous magazines and journals. You can check out her books through the Amazon link below!

amazon copy

K.D. has a fantastic blog where she keeps us all up-to-date on her poetry publications and posts some great articles you might find helpful as well as random posts about life as a writer. She’s fun to follow. You can follow her blog here, and connect with K.D. via these social links below 🙂

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Bellow are the concepts I created for K.D.’s , soon to be published, book of poetry. The subtext in the blue cover concept was used as strictly a placeholder and not an approved description of her work. So, basically, it’s just meant to give a feel for what it might look like if there were to be added subtext.

Which one do you like Best?

 

DP-02- Front Concept

 

DP-03-CC copy

Let us know in the comments section 🙂

Vote for Your Favorite Sci-Fi Cover

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I have just finished up designing these five sci-fi book covers.

They are all for sale at $75 for each premade cover design. There are no hidden fees. When you purchase a premade book cover from the gallery, it is immediately removed and no longer offered. The cover you purchase on the premade cover designs page is unique and will not be offered for sale again.

Each premade cover design package comes with your Trade Paperback cover, your  free eBook cover, plus two free 3D covers for use on your website or in your social media marketing methods.

Vote for Your Favorite Book Cover Design

You can find the poll to vote below. Take your time but remember that these are merely concept cover designs, so the image quality might not be as good as the final cover would be.

My favorite is Aurora, and then Moon Base Eleven. 🙂


Be sure to come and see me for your next book cover design.


A Guide To Book Cover Design

Let’s be honest, we all judge a book by its cover most of the time (and there are legions of blogs dedicated to the pastime).

Books with good graphics, and eye-catching font are good quality covers that sell more copies – simple fact.

Book cover design is booming and even have their own awards.

The Internet has also enabled fast and effective circulation and exchange of documents, ideas and feedback which is commonplace among designers and authors, sharing book cover designs for feedback before they go to publishing.

But whether you choose to design your cover yourself, or will be working with a professional designer, there are a few things that will help you from start to finish.

Designing A Concept

Before you get started on creating a brief for a cover design, or before starting to design one yourself, you need to decide on the message you want to send.

  • Ask yourself: What is the book’s single-minded value proposition? What is the target audience of readers looking for – Inspiration and Aspiration, Success and Achievement, Knowledge and Power, Romance and Passion, Murder and Revenge?
  • Boiling it down to the motivation, incentive and emotion will help you generate tons of ideas or visual metaphors that determine the imagery, choice of color palette, typography, and layout that help you capture what the book is all about.

If you want to design your own book cover or if you’ve just hired a cover designer, here’s a list of useful tips and tricks to consider for your project. Good luck!

Book Cover Design Tips

Generate excitement. Grab attention. The main goal of every book cover is to generate excitement. The cover is one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal. That’s why you should create something that will stop people in their tracks and evoke interest.

The book cover is the hook that will help you to promote your book. It is not a specific scene from your book featuring your main character. If it is, you should be ready to look for a general type of character in your imagery, or just a back view or partial view of them. The partial views generate more excitement. Coming up with a specific scene from the book may confuse the viewer or clutter up your cover. Better to stick with ideas generated from the points listed above for a clean and powerful cover design.

 

The book’s genre is important

Announce its genre
Clearly, many book buyers search for books by category, niche, or genre, so this instant identification with where your book belongs is a critical task. The book cover should show what genre the book is. Look at these book covers. It is an easy task to understand what kind of books are in front of you, right? A really good book cover “talks” to its readers through choice of typography, imagery and metaphor.

 

Telegraph its tone
Although more subtle, it’s also important to imply the tone of a work, especially fiction. Is it a brash, over-the-top page turner, or a subtle character study?

Explain its scope
More common to nonfiction, readers need to know what’s included in your book and what’s not—in terms of subject matter, time periods, geography, skill levels, or any other guide that will give potential buyers this information.

Generate excitement
Effective book covers have a “hook”—something that intrigues, grabs you by the throat, makes a promise—something that will attract and hold a reader’s attention and make them want to know more.

Establish a market position
Your book cover can help browsers by letting them know where your book fits in with other, similar books they are already familiar with. More encyclopedic? With vampires? And tons of resources?

Minimalism: Less is more!

Minimal style is timeless. It helps to focus on the book’s title and authors name.


How to do it wrong

It is good practice to look at bad design examples too. In fact crap, trashy book covers has become a meme in itself, whether it’s the romance genre or the aptly titled ‘funny as shit book covers’ board on Pinterest. Unfortunately there are so many bad cover designs.

Overwrought and over-thought typography is the main offender but using stock imagery can also destroy a book’s visual credibility. Be careful with fonts and stock images. Or seek out a professional cover designer.

Sources For Ideas

Think you’ve learned enough to create a stunning book cover design? Slow down! To get really inspired you need to immerse yourself amongst book cover design lovers. Look no further than Pinterest to find minimalist, bold, graphic-driven book cover boards that will make you swoon.

But it doesn’t stop there. Head to Flickr and the Book Cover Archive for more visual treats!

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 Source: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2014/06/book-cover-success-and-failure-explained/

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

wvwp-copy 03Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!