Tag Archives: proofreading

A Writer’s Path Writers Club!

Hello everyone! A fellow blogger of A Writer’s Path, Ryan Lanz, has announced the launch of his new initiative: A Writer’s Path Writers Club.

After looking at the writing market for years, he noticed a need for a Writers Club of this kind. Sure, there are Facebook groups, writers groups, etc., but there aren’t many associations that are more than just a gathering of writers.

He wanted to create a club where the sole purpose of it is to solve headaches for writers. Here are some of the headaches he’s looking to solve:

  • It’s hard to find reviewers for my book
  • Writing-related service providers (editors, book cover designers, etc.) are expensive
  • I don’t know if my writing is good enough and I need feedback
  • I need more promotion for my book
  • I don’t know if my blurb or summary is good enough
  • Not enough readers know my book exists
  • I don’t know enough about what other successful authors have done to be successful
  • I don’t know if my book cover encourages readers to purchase it

And of course, there are fun stuff to be had too, such as giveaways and contests. Here’s the full list of benefits for the Writers Club:

      • Discounts from writer-related service providers, such as editors, book cover designers, proofreading services, ghostwriters, social media marketing, book advertising, template design, audio book narration, and more.
      • Contests and giveaways for free services and books.
      • free book promotion posts on A Writer’s Path blog every year(example here). Every post generates a social media shout-out of your book to my Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, and Google+ account (total of 12,900 followers). he’ll set reminders for himself to notify you when your next post is ready.
      • Exclusive articles not seen on the A Writer’s Path blog.
      • Access to free blurb coaching.
      • Book of the Month” lottery. Winner gets their book featured for a month on A Writer’s Path blog in a tab along the top of every page/post. Also included is a promotional post featuring their book, summary, cover, and purchase links to all 25,000+ subscribers. One drawing per month.
      • Help to find you reviewers and critique partners (optional).
      • A free copy of his eBook, The Idea Factory: 1,000 Story Ideas & Writing Prompts to Find Your Next Bestseller. ($2.99 value)
      • Free critique of your book summaries and book covers (optional).
      • Insider tips from published authors in short, bite-sized articles.
      • Links to free books normally at full price.
      • Opportunities to show off your book to the other members.
      • Exclusive author interviews.

Feel free to check out A Writer’s Path Writers Club here.

Wednesday Writerly Update #4

After the last two weeks of finishing my NA speculative fiction (“Inception” meets Darren Shan’s “The City Trilogy”) and all the craziness of last week’s “The Black Oracle” release and launch festivities, needless to say, no fiction writing got done.

But that’s okay. I need a little break (read: I need to catch up on freelance writing and editing). My goal is to get started on editing another WIP I wrote over the winter (paranormal/horror: think “Medium” meets old school, 90s horror flicks) and to work on a contemporary young adult novel I have 15000 words written for (I have no comparisons, but I think it’s going to be something completely different for me — and horribly depressing).

But to be honest, I don’t foresee me starting either one of those things in the next month or so. I want my focus to be “The Black Oracle” and any immediate releases for 2016.

However, I do have the post-manuscript-completion urge to do a free write. The most exciting part about being a writer for me is getting new ideas. I love them. There’s nothing like the rushing feeling of plot points and characters and themes bombarding you and forcing you to write them all down. The first 15 pages of any new manuscript is bliss for me, and I’m definitely craving that.

Maybe my goal for next week will be to do a free write? We’ll see.

In any case, the following is news pertaining to “The Black Oracle”:

  • “The Black Oracle” will be featured on the May Releases Review Tour by Curiosity Quills for the next two weeks starting tomorrow. How can you get involved? Well, I’m ecstatic you asked! If you’ve read/are reading “The Black Oracle”, please leave it a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Your review should be honest, so if criticism is part of it, don’t mask it. I won’t put curses on your house. Promise.
  • Over 225 people have entered the Goodreads Giveaway to receive a free e-book copy of “The Black Oracle”. You can still enter! The contest closes on Sunday, June 7.
  • Starting this month, I will be creating a newsletter. Those who are interested in receiving news about new releases, promotions, and happenings can sign up here for infrequent (no more than once every two weeks). Why wouldn’t you want to join? I don’t spam, I promise.

And to finish off, I have these photos from The Black Oracle Launch Event on Sunday which was awesome! I’m not sure how many actually came out, but the crowded tea shop definitely made my day. I am so humbled by everyone who showed their support, so thank you for dropping by!

The "Daniel" of T by Daniel!

The “Daniel” of T by Daniel!

Signing the first copy of The Black Oracle.

Signing the first copy of The Black Oracle.

Okay, this wasn't *at* the launch, but look at how nice The Black Oracle looks on my bookshelf!

Okay, this wasn’t *at* the launch, but look at how nice The Black Oracle looks on my bookshelf!

9 Tips to Improve Your Writing

One of the hardest things about being a writer is knowing when you’ve reached that elusive status of being a good writer. Scratch that: the hardest thing about being a writer is knowing when you no longer suck.

You see, bad writing is everywhere nowadays. With the exploding self-publishing industry, anyone can become a published author. Anyone. Have good books been self-published? Of course, but bad books have been published tenfold, and this excludes all the times that a big press has released a poorly written book (in the name of business, of course).

So, how do you avoid being a bad writer? Well, the answer is simple: hard work. And while you’re at it, pounding away at your keyboard and going for that eighth cup of coffee, incorporate these tips.

coffee

Yeah, I’d go put the pot back on. You might be here a while.

Write Often and Diversify

A writer who doesn’t write is a person who is just… well, a person. To be a writer, you must write. Yes, that means you must sit down with notebook and pen, keyboard and screen, arm and permanent market, and create something. But you mustn’t only strive to write as often as you can. You should experiment with differently genres and mediums to see what works best for you. If you’re a poet, try a short story. If you’re a novelist, try articles or essays. There are so many ways writers can practice and hone their craft (freelance writing, blogs, social media), and there’s a seemingly endless stream of topics to write about.

Read. EVERYTHING.

Just because you’re a science fiction writer, it doesn’t mean you should only read science fiction. Just because your a short story guru, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up poetry. You should read things you would never think to read, and the classics of each medium are a must. Don’t only stick forget nonfiction and media though. Read newspapers, online journalism, blogs, the backs of cereal boxes. The more you immerse yourself in writing, the more natural it becomes — and the mind has a way of imitating things it likes.

Subscribe to a Style Guide

I know, I know. Why would you want to buy something that reads like a grammar textbook? Yes, I’m aware that writing is an art, but you also must realize that this art has rules. Buying a style guide is a way of learning about those rules. I like the Chicago Manual of Style, mainly because it is the predominant style guide in North America, but there are loads of others. If it is your dream to write professionally, whether it be fiction, freelance, or nonfiction, you should get yourself  style guide. Regardless of which guide you subscribe to, the key is to be consistent.

Look at how pretty it is!

Look at how pretty it is!

Use Prompts and Exercises

I’m not big into writing prompts, but I do admit, they’ve gotten me a few cool ideas. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see that there are hundreds, nay, THOUSANDS of prompts to get you in the mood (not that mood). I’m all about those writing exercises though. Whenever I’m trying to get a new idea, I love a good free write. Whenever I’m trying to flesh that idea out, I make mind maps and pretend conversations with my characters. Exercises and prompts are also good ways to counter that writer’s block.

Focus on Openers

There’s a reason why openers are called hooks. The purpose of the opener is to entice your reader, pull them in, and then trap them so they won’t think to run until it’s far too late. From my experience as an Acquisitions Editor, I reject a lot of work because of weak openers. Put simply: I reject things I’m not excited to continue reading. It doesn’t matter if your middle is spit-shined, bacon-wrapped, chocolate-dipped literary gold. No one will get to it if you don’t give them a reason to hang around.

Do Things that Inspire You

Sitting around the house all day won’t inspire you enough to be excited about your writing. Well, it might, but you might also find you need something more. Travel, discover your city, visit museums and art galleries and after hours nightclubs (creeper protection not included). Don’t be afraid to do things out of your normal because it’s in these situations where we grow. Besides, new experiences are always great sources for writing material.

Find a Friend

Writers need criticism. Do they always want it? No, but after a while, a writer realizes that the best way to grow is to embrace criticism and STOP writing it off as useless hatred (haha, see what I did there?). I’m serious. Go find a writing partner, ideally someone who reads a lot and perhaps writes quite a bit too. Most importantly, you want this person to be honest with you. You want them to give you notes about what they don’t like and what needs to change, and you need to TAKE THEIR CRITICISM AND USE IT. Is all of it useful? No. Some of it, you may veto (I’ve done so from time to time). But if you’re ignoring 95% of all the criticism you receive, the problem *may* not be your writing partner.

Edit Ruthlessly

Whether you have a writing partner or not, a first draft is NEVER an acceptable manuscript. You should cut things. You should add things. You should eliminate all cliches, most adverbs, and flowery prose from your work. Once you think you’re done, take some space. Give yourself a week or two, and return to hack away some more. It’s not over until you’ve mistakenly cut off a limb.

Wait, you’re not done. Remember the style guide we spoke about? Go read it. Brush up on your grammar, go back, and copy edit the crap out of your work.

Don’t Try So Hard

My final piece of advice is quite simple: don’t try so hard. Revel in the simplicity. Be concise, and say what you mean. I’m sorry to tell you, you will not be another Hemingway. Before you sulk, you will not be another Hemingway because there is only ONE Hemingway (and spoiler alert: he’s dead). But you’re you! Isn’t that enough? Take pointers from the greats, but don’t steal their style. Yours may still be a ways away, but it’ll come.

But leave out those damn adverbs.

Freedom 25! (Wherein I Divulge Some Cool News)

You’ve heard of Freedom 55, right? It refers to the idea that one can retire from work at the age of 55 instead of the more probable age of 65 (or older, depending on financial situations and pension). But what if I told you I was aiming for freedom at the age of 25? I’m 23 now, and 25 is in reality only one and a half years away, so have I lost my mind?!

Not really. I’m not looking to retire at the age of 25. Not only is it entirely NOT possible unless I win the lottery, but I’m not even sure if I could just stop being productive altogether (but sometimes it’s a nice thought though, isn’t it?)

For me, Freedom 25 means that I will be at a stage of my life when I am happy with where I’m at, what I’m doing professionally, and where I’m going at the time I am age 25. I’ve been struggling with this a bit lately, but I can finally say I’m on track. So, without further ado, I have something to announce.

Along with having my first novel The Black Oracle released in the spring (official release date to come!), I have also been taken on as an Acquisitions Editor by Curiosity Quills Press!

Starting within the next few days, I’ll be on the front lines tackling the slush pile and looking for gems that are suitable to be published. Curiosity Quills Press, publisher of my novel The Black Oracle, is a small hybrid press that specializes in everything from science fiction and fantasy to contemporary romance and everything in between. They’re a legitimate publisher (no reading fees), and my experience with them has been amazing! You can check out more information about them here.

But what does that mean for you? Well, if you have a finished manuscript and you’re looking to have it published, consider sending your query to me! You can do so by going to this website, reviewing the submission guidelines, filling out the webform, and marking the submission “For Michael Cristiano“. So, would your project interest me, you ask?

First and foremost, I like reading anything that’s good, and by good I mean well edited and well thought out and polished. I generally read fantasy, so that includes but is not limited to epic fantasy, magic realism, urban fantasy (I’d die for an awesome urban fantasy — think The City Trilogy by Darren Shan). I dabble in science fiction, especially dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. Some of my favourite sci-fi/fantasy authors include Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Goodkind,  JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Lem0ny Snicket. I also like horror and paranormal novels, but I’m more into a slow creepy build than blood and guts and murderers. Not big on romance, but I am a fan of literary fiction — I adore Margaret Atwood, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Kurt Vonnegut. As for age groups, I’m open to all age groups from upper middle grade to adult fiction (as per Curiosity Quills’ guidelines).

In doubt? Send it along. If it’s not something I’d read but I think the premise is good, I’ll send it to another Acquisitions Editor.

Happy weekend and happy writing, everyone!

8 Rules for Writing Fiction and Why You Should Break Them

I always find it funny that writers and editors always seem to have a billion sometimes-contradictory dos and don’ts when it comes to writing “good” fiction. But what is “good” fiction? I don’t want to start a philosophical debate, but one person’s Shakespeare is another’s Rebecca Black, you know? So instead of giving you a list of things that I think make good writing, I’ve decided to look at the rules, whether they come from professionals or amateurs, and I’ve taken the liberty of refuting some of them.

3__It_feels_good_to_break_the_rules_gif

8. No Prologues

Listen, I can’t say I’m a particular fan of prologues, but honestly, a lot of successful writers have used them and their work has been just that: successful. I would suggest that writers stop agonizing over this rule and focus on what’s important. Get back to the writing. Get back to the story and the characters that will carry you beyond that prologue. If it’s essential to the story, it will stick.

7. No Adverbs

I read somewhere that using adverbs is a mortal sin. Mortal sin? Really? Even worse than a flawed plot line or boring characters? I militantly disagree. A couple adverbs here and there aren’t going to ruin a piece. In fact, sometimes I like them. It’s like drinking wine: a few adverbs may heighten your experience, but a lot of them can be draining and induce headaches.

Are they really that bad?

Are they really that bad?

6. Never Use A Dialogue Tag Besides “Said”

I was on this boat once, and then I got an editor and she pointed out how dry this made my writing after paragraphs and paragraphs of he said, she said. I’m not saying writers should go wild, I’m just suggesting that perhaps spicing it up a bit may actually enhance your writing.

5. No Present Tense

Don’t get me wrong: when done poorly, this can be disastrous, but mindless copies of the same old third person narrative can be terrible too. When done well, first person has an almost fast-paced, immediate feeling to it. It also feels more personal and more artistic, kind of like the primitive storytelling that humans were good at for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. So, give it a try. If it works, perhaps your story is meant to be told that way.

true-story_1413

4. Use Only Complete Sentences

If you’re writing academically, then sure. Fiction? It can have positive effects.

See what I did there?

3. Write Every Day

It’s not that I disagree with this rule, it’s just that it’s unrealistic and puts a lot of pressure on aspiring writers who ultimately fail at this and then feel inferior for not reaching this goal. Myself included. If I could rewrite this rule, I would say Write a lot.

Life happens. People have day jobs. And school. And children. And lives. If writing every day doesn’t happen, that’s okay. But don’t doubt the need for time. Writing won’t happen when you’re asleep. Just remember, sometimes quality trumps quantity. You may find that writing every day for ten minutes may not be as productive or as enjoyable as writing for 2 hours every couple days.

2. Write What you Know

I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but I disagree with the misinterpretation this rule carries. I read somewhere once that young people made for bad writers because they were too inexperienced. The argument was that young people should go out and experience the world before attempting writing. I even heard that young writers shouldn’t even try until they had a master’s degree in creative writing. In other words, young writers don’t have enough in the “know” category yet.

Pride-and-Prejudice

I say, to hell with that, write away! Forget about what you know and what you don’t. Write something that comes from the heart. 9 times out of 10, what comes from the heart isn’t just something you know, it’s what is meaningful to the soul. Besides, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise was published when he was in his twenties and he dropped out of his undergrad at Princeton without completing. That’s not to say that a writer shouldn’t explore the world around them and get new experiences, I just caution against waiting. Strike the iron while it’s hot, if you can pardon the cliché.

1. There are no Rules

There is perhaps no rule I can disagree with more. Rules are meant to be broken, yes, but that doesn’t mean that there are no rules. Writers still have to adhere to grammar and spelling rules. Failyure to do sow results in sentenses that look like this.

So, don’t listen to those who say that there are no rules. There are. Editors judge pieces based on rules. Publishers judge pieces based on rules. READERS judge pieces based on rules. What this rule means to say is that some rules can and should be broken. Others can even add an element of artistic flair if broken in the right way. Ultimately, you decide, but know that getting an opinion from an editor or trusted reader is always valuable.

Got any rules that plain just don’t make sense?

The 7 (Agonizing) Stages of Self-Editing Your Fiction

A look at common struggles a writer encounters while perfecting their masterpiece. Or trying to, at least.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a how-to. This blog cannot be responsible for work that gets lost in editing oblivion. For a how-to, run a Google search. Or join a writer’s forum. I like this one.

Stage 1: The Post-Drafting High

You’ve just finished your piece. The characters are realistic and complex. The descriptions are captivating. The twist at the end: no one will see it coming. NO ONE. Congratulations! Good job, you. This is what you live for. Now, go out and get a beer. Hell, get two! Dance. Make some questionable life choices.

Enjoy it now, young grasshopper.

Stage 2: The Pre-Edit Low (aka. What the Hell Have I Done?)

So, you’re ready to work. You’ve recovered from that hang-over and you’ve corrected all those questionable life choices, though there may still be some photo evidence on Instagram. Go check.

In any case, the document’s open, your title page looks spectacular, and you’ve spent the last hour and a half deleting extraneous tabs and trailing paragraphs.

Now: let’s do a quick read-through. Let’s look out for continuity errors, major plots holes, and breaks in character building. Maybe you should consider reworking that second paragraph. And the next chapter. And the whole middle part. Hell, this looks worse than you remember, doesn’t it? Who wrote this? Clearly, you didn’t. Your IQ is higher than a chimp’s, yet it seems like the chimp could poop out a better manuscript while sleep deprived, post-spicy burrito.

What have you done? All that planning (or lack thereof) has gotten you nothing. The voice is off, your main character is annoying, and that plot twist? Predictable.

Well, fine. I guess you’re rewriting the whole damn thing.

Stage 3: The Rewrite

After recovering from the emotional damage of discovering the story you’ve been working on for the past millennium is terrible, it’s time to do a rewrite. This can consist of just specific parts of your manuscript or the entire thing, but it largely consists of crying, outbursts to family and friends, and reconsidering your choice to become a writer (whose idea was that?).

But hey, maybe this isn’t so bad. You could take that stock character and give them an epic side story. And that twist? Tweak it a bit, and BAM! One hundred times more unpredictable than before. This is actually kind of fun. This is the reason you became a writer in the first place: to WRITE! But don’t get too ecstatic. Most of the good stuff comes from editing after all, remember? That’s why you’re here.

Stage 4: The Break.

You’ve worked hard, right? Why not take a break? Go for a run. Go read a newspaper. Go clean out those drawers in your bedroom that have been overflowing since spring (read: since two springs ago).

But who am I kidding? You don’t wanna do any of that. You’d rather obsessively refresh your Facebook feed then binge-watch Game of Thrones on Netflix while drowning your sorrows into a litre of cookie dough ice cream and a bottle of coke.

Now, that’s a break. Am I right?

Stage 5: The Deadly Cycle of Procrastination

It’s been a couple days. Your Game of Thrones marathon quickly led to Catching Up with the Kardashians and then cat videos on YouTube. However, you’re experiencing a revival of determination. Or maybe it’s that gnawing feeling of idleness.

Either way, the line-by-line is next and that’s going to take the longest. But maybe you should do some laundry before you get started. And feed the cat. Oh, don’t forget to call Mom. She misses you. Your whole family misses you. How about a barbeque? The weather is warm and your social interaction has been subpar lately. Maybe an evening with a bottle of wine. That would be nice.

Do you see? It won’t end.

Seriously. Editing. Go.

Stage 6: The Copyedit

This is the most tedious part – however, also the quickest. This is the part where you drive yourself crazy about your grammar and cut down on the wordiness. No passive sentences, you say? And saidisms? You mean, you can’t use he articulated and I phonated? And heaven forbid you make up your own character or location names. Your word processing program is going to love pointing those out.

(Psst. Add them to your dictionary. Save yourself the agony.)

Stage 7: The Post-Edit High

You did it! You’ve survived your self-edit with your fingers intact and perhaps a shard of your sanity. Never fear though, what comes next is quite possibly the thing you’re looking forward to the most: MORE EDITING!

“What?” You ask. “I thought I was done.”

Well, think again. If you’ve got an editor or a trusted beta-reader, they’re going to have some useful thoughts. Besides, let’s be real, this is what you live for. There’s nothing that compares to a nice and polished manuscript that’s ready to take on the world. Well, maybe a published manuscript could compare, but you’re on your way there anyway!

Happy editing!

POST-SCRIPT: No chimps were hurt during this editing cycle. Or force-fed burritos.