Some writers dread the middle of a novel. Its an easy place for characters, themes, plots and subplots to get stuck, lost, or to go on unnecessary tangents. The critical reader questions in this post are designed to help reader feedback to support the writer in keeping Act 2 on track, and ensuring it gives the reader a good experience.
What’s life like in your SFF world? What sort of housing, jobs, accommodation, work and family life do people have? What are your civilisations’ attitudes to birth, death, marriage, gender and sexual diversity? And how may aspects of life vary depending on the social, political and economic status of your characters? In this post, I’ll provide prompts to help you unpack and answer these questions for your cast, focusing on world building life.
Unlike social media posts, your author newsletter is a direct line to people interested in hearing from you, and receiving your content. It sits in an inbox where interested people can read it a their leisure, instead of on a social media feed where it may be drowned out by thousands of posts vying for attention. Newsletters effectively reach your people, but what you can offer in yours to make it worthwhile for your subscribers?
Deciding what to put on your author website can seem daunting, especially if you publish it before your first book. But your author bio and writing samples can go on your site, and you can start blogging at any time. I’ll suggest site content, and give tips on carefully selecting your theme in this post. I’ll also recommend pluggins for Wordpress (sorry, I don’t do Wix or Squarespace, though I hear good things). Ultimately, I’ll share what I’ve learnt tweaking my site and blog over the past ten months (yes, as an unpublished author 😉), to help you hit the ground running with yours.
Many writers who joined Twitter after Emma Lombard (in my case in 2019), have learnt a lot from her. Not just about how to Twitter as a writer, but also from her blog posts and the example she’s set in areas like developing your author platform as an unpublished author. But Emma is no longer unpublished. I’m excited to say that her debut novel, historical fiction Discerning Grace (book 1) is out now, and to be posting this interview with Emma about it.
What lies beyond querying, should we be fortunate enough to have a literary agent offer us representation? In this interview, Halla Williams describes how she came to write the #Pitmad pitch which in March 2020 led to signing with her literary agent, and what signing and the early stages of working with her agent have been like, over the course of a year like few others.
If you’re querying, you’re most likely hoping to snag a literary agent. But what about the other option -Small Presses? If you consider signing with one, how will you know you’ve found the right one for this particular project, or for you as an author? And what is signing and working with a Small Press like? In these interviews, I talk to Nikky Lee, C.G. Volgars and Alexandra Beaumont about their experience of querying, identifying the right Indie Publisher, and the early stages of working with their publisher.
Great, you’ve found a critical reader or a story to read! How can you ensure that working with the reader or the writer is a positive, productive experience? I’d like to say the hard part is finding each other and from now on it will all be sunshine and rainbows, but I’ve heard stories of critical reader feedback like, “This is wrong. That was poorly done. You’re such a bad writer.” Or maybe you agreed to read a novel, you get it and… it’s not your cup of tea, or so raw that just re-reading to figure out what’s happening will take more time than you want to give it. To help you avoid (or recognise and exit) these situations, and to create effective partnerships, here’s 6 tips for positive partnerships, and 6 tips for productive partnerships.
Act 1 is crucial in guiding readers into your character’s world and maintaining reader engagement. Critical readers can help you evaluate how your writing impacts on unfamiliar readers, but in my experience, if you don’t ask critical readers to comment on anything in particular, they may only comment on what annoys them, what they love and if they’re writers -their personal strengths of writing craft. This may exclude aspects of your craft -or any particular novel- you are still developing. This post is a list of reflective questions to help guide holistic critical reader feedback.
Social media is an ideal space to think about how you present and to begin interacting publicly as a writer. Twitter and Instagram have thriving Writing Communities, where you can find your tribe. A Facebook page (or Instagram) are great spaces to share your writing life and books with personal contacts, while any of these plus Pinterest, Youtube and others are potential spaces to reach readers and promote your published works. So which social media is most appropriate to you as a writer, which account is best to start with and how do you get started?