Striking the Right Tone to Reach Your Blog Readers

I recently had an email exchange with someone who is making the switch from writing feature articles to blogging for his company. He asked me to read his latest blog post before he published it. I was happy to oblige. After I read it, I had some advice about his writing tone.

Me: “I think you are missing an opportunity to engage your readers more by talking directly to them.”

Blogger: “Well, this is important, so how do I do this?”

He’s right, this is very important. Striking the right tone is an essential part of marketing.  It can be the difference between reaching your target audience with your blog and reaching no one at all.

As to his second point — how to engage readers with a blog — I can think of several ways. Continue reading

Chapter Summaries, Who Needs ’em?

A friend said, “Never write chapter summaries. They suck the life out of the story.” I believe that’s only true if you hold yourself hostage to the summaries. In fact, I believe they are crucial. Let me tell you why.

person standing near trees
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

Starting Out

This fall and winter I began writing a chapter book with my six-year-old. It’s called Carla and Lola Go to School, But Where Is Miss Quimby?, which gives you a good idea of what it’s about. As with many books, the concept is sound. It’s the execution that will make the difference.

Before we attempted to write the book, I made sure we did what I tell all of my authors they must do:

We planned.

First we jotted down general ideas about what we wanted our book to be about, who the characters would be, and what the setting would be. We also set down what the four main obstacles would be, the general structure of the book, and how it would end. (Spoiler alert: They find Miss Quimby.)

At that point, my daughter was ready to dive in. We opened a new document and started to type. And that’s when I truly learned why writers need chapter summaries.

Amending the Plan

In our initial plan, we had agreed on one opening for the book, but once that first paragraph was written, we didn’t know where to go. My daughter, being six, forgot what we had planned and wanted Miss Quimby to be at school. To my daughter’s dismay, I put on the brakes. We had forgotten to write our chapter summaries!

Using paper and pen, we jotted down who the characters were in each chapter, what the obstacle or action would be, and how they would overcome it or carry it out. We also noted the setting for that chapter and made sure the timeline worked with what would come before and after.

Team Writing vs. Going It Alone

Because we were writing as a team, the summaries were even more important than for a solo writer. We needed to agree on what would happen before it was written or we would spend all of our writing time arguing it out. We would never finish.

However, even a solo writer needs to know where they want their story to go. And if you are like many writers, you might have to take a few days or even weeks away from your writing. How do you remember where you wanted to go if you didn’t record it somewhere? Based on what I’ve seen in my editing, writers’ memories may not be as good as they think.

In the case of my daughter’s book, as we were writing the summary for chapter 9, we realized chapters 8 and 9 needed to come sooner. That would tie the story line together much more neatly. How much easier it was to make that change when the “chapters” were only a paragraph instead of the full shebang! How much time and heartache we saved by making this decision now rather than after we had sweated over the writing!

The book has a long way to go. The chapter summaries are going to guide us on the journey.

Resources

Check out these resources to help you find your own way with chapter summaries:

How to Write a Book Proposal: Chapter Synopsis (video)

11 Ways to Outline a Book: Chapter-by-Chapter

Scrivener (writing software)

How to Write a Summary of a Book Chapter

How to Choose a Plot Outline Method: 4 Techniques for Outlining Novels

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

More on Standing Up to the Competition: The Complete Package

You as a writer can draw in your readers by demonstrating that you have given your book the thought, time, and care it deserves. When readers see that you respect your own work, they are more likely to return the feeling.

Indeed, this thoughtfulness shows you respect your readers, and that can go miles in building the trust needed to win over a reader.

One way you can demonstrate this respect is by putting forth a complete package. By that I mean you have not simply written the bare bones of a book. You have put meat on those bones through front matter, back matter, multiple formats, and more.

dreamstime_1645934
Copyright Gary Woodard | Dreamstime.com

How It Works

Building a complete package for a nonfiction book begins with crafting a solid preface and introduction. These are what is known as front matter, and they set the tone for the book. They also serve as important marketing copy.

Back matter includes reference sections, resource list, and appendixes. These can establish your reputation as a thorough and careful researcher.

In the case of memoir, the goal for these pieces may be to share a deeper understanding of the context of your story.

Other elements that enhance a nonfiction book include:

  • Photos or illustrations
  • Maps
  • Charts and graphs
  • Sidebars that present case studies, tips, or further information

Nonfiction books also benefit from well-developed ancillary materials—workbooks, videos, websites, and so on—as appropriate for the book. All of these pieces together allow your reader to get inside the topic you are writing about and learn more.

Fiction requires a different approach to the idea of a complete package. Nevertheless, you have likely experienced the novel that implemented this concept to its fullest. For example, a complete fiction package may include:

  • A note to the reader
  • A note to parents
  • A call to action
  • A glossary of terms
  • Maps and illustrations

Audiobooks, videos, and other ancillaries also appeal to readers and encourage them to buy your book as well as these additional materials.

Did the video cause the consumer to buy the book, or did they watch the video because they had read the book?

In either case, you are building a relationship with that reader that can lead to further sales and readership.

As you plan your book, you must study the competition and think through your reader’s needs and desires. When you create a complete package around your book, you have, to the best of your ability, filled those needs and desires.

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, winner of two Book of the Year awards, now available on Amazon!

 

Copublishing Ebooks and Printed Books

As I was working with a self-publishing author recently, we started to discuss the publication date for his book and just how long it would be before he had a bound book ready to sell. It looked like he might not have his books in time for the start of his ideal selling period. Anxious to get his book on the market, this author had an idea:

Why not put the ebook out now, since that takes very little time, and continue with the editing for the printed book!

Here’s why not:

You only have one chance to make a first impression. If you put out a book that still has a lot of errors in it, you have burned bridges with all the people who bought the inferior product. Particularly as a self-publisher, you can’t afford to risk your reputation.

black tablet computer behind books
Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Pexels.com

Creating an ebook has become so easy, many authors are tempted to jump right in before completing the editing process. In fact, some traditional publishers do the same thing; although the printed book receives a proofread, the e-book may not. However, if it is up to you, do not succumb to this temptation.

For years I didn’t believe that bad editing would sink a book (this from a committed and passionate editor), but with the advent of reader reviews on Amazon and other online sites, I have learned that lesson. And once those bad reviews are up, they don’t come down and you have to work twice as hard to get your reputation back.

Traditional authors may be able to negotiate this point in their contracts. For self-publishers, the decision is theirs to make. Whatever path you choose, don’t waste your money and all your hard work by taking shortcuts.

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

 

Do You Really Need a Marketing Expert on Your Team?

caulfieldI recently asked self-published author Dr. Thomas Caulfield to share his experience working with a professional marketing team. His book, Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in a Hearing World, won an award and has received several media mentions, thanks in part to his marketing team.

But was it worth it?

In this post, Tom answers that question and many more about what it means to have an expert marketer in your corner.

Do You Really Need a Marketing Expert on Your Team?

By Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield

Do you need a marketing expert on your publishing team? This was a looming question for me as an author. That is, until I began to better understand the multitude of elements that contribute favorably to the book-publishing process. For me, there was a baseline theme, if you will, continuously swirling in my head, and that was this notion of always working with the most competent professionals you can to get your book published.

Always work with the most competent professionals you can.

It seemed that the workshops, seminars, and publication guidebooks were loaded with examples of why not to go with a novice for all the critical aspects of your book. Rather, authors should isolate those distinct pros or an esoteric group that understands this area most completely.

My experience might be unique in that I toiled away for two decades keeping a secret journal chronicling the journey of our only son, who was born profoundly Deaf. Applying the esoteric group selection theory, I immediately sought out a meeting with a friend, the president of a nationally known and highly respected book-publishing company.

I suppose working with a friend was a violation of the esoteric theory in that there was a chance, given our relationship, that he had no choice but to help me. My question was simple, though. Who was the best independent editor he knew of?

My question was simple: Who was the best independent editor he knew of?

What came back was the name of an editor working in the Washington, DC, area: Katherine Pickett. One call to her and a lunch meeting was arranged. The bottom line for me again was clear. It’s probably not a good idea to go with the neighbor down the block who may have been an English major in college with no other credentials, but instead, get with a seasoned professional for sure.

It only took that one lunch meeting for me to learn that the esoteric theory was valid. Katherine had forgotten more than I would ever know about editing – and I graduated from grade 20.

I made an important decision that day to get a critical, unbiased evaluation of the merit of our book. If it weighed in at the “great” level – and it did – then I would be foolish not to match it with the best ongoing service support.

From there I was fortunate to be able to select a Dream Team in the areas of interior design, video presentation, audiobook narration, and website production.

aerial shot of green milling tractor
Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

With all those professionals working like a combine going through the Midwest during harvest season, the question of our need for a marketing expert remained. After a thorough literature review, it became clear that these services were not inexpensive. Further, questions remained regarding whether this service would actually be worth the money.

Questions remained regarding whether this service would actually be worth the money.

Given the costs, I elected to research a half dozen reputable groups and then interviewed three. Candidly, I thought I would be the one doing the interviewing, but in reality they were trying to figure out our potential as well. It all seemed like asking someone to the Homecoming dance, as I hoped our top pick would accept.

To be clear, I believe the good author marketing groups really have this concept of a campaign down, with the main goal being quality targeted exposure. The best ones also have the area of pitching to the media figured out as a science.

Who would have thought there were so many levels to pitching?

  • We had the prepublication pitching to reviewers, bloggers, and the media.
  • Then there was the local and national media group pitching.
  • The marketing team also surfaced numerous opportunities for speaking engagements.
  • Finally, I received thorough guidance regarding advertising with Amazon.

I would have to say it was worth it.

 In the end, being fortunate to have an award-winning book on my hands, I would have to say hiring a marketing firm was worth it. I would hate to have not selected a marketing expert and then always look back wondering if we could have done better.

Essentially, it takes me back to all the chatter regarding, do you select the friend down the street to do what really is work in an esoteric domain? It seems easy and definitely less expensive to do just that. But you never want to look back and say, “What if?”

 

Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield is the author of the award-winning book Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in the Hearing World: A Basketball Player’s Transformational Journey to the Ivy League. He lives in California with his wife.

 

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

How to Be a Good Author: An Editor’s Perspective

Do you have what it takes to be a good author? This is not the same as being a good writer, at least not from an editor’s vantage point. No, although working with authors who are skilled with the pen does make an editor’s job more enjoyable, it is only one of many factors to be considered. Rather, it is the writer’s ability to maintain a good business relationship with his or her editor that makes one a good or bad author in an editor’s eyes.

dreamstime_38185433
Copyright Michaeljayberlin | Dreamstime.com

Lucky for you, it isn’t hard to be a good author. You can keep your relationship with your editor on solid ground—and reap the many benefits of that relationship—by following this simple advice.

Be respectful.

Some authors approach the editing process as a battle, with their editor being their greatest adversary. This attitude can result in yelling, angry e-mails, and nasty comments directed at the editor—the very person who has been entrusted with the precious manuscript.

Rude behavior does nothing to encourage your editor to do his or her best work. An attitude of collaboration and mutual respect, on the other hand, will get you much closer to your goal of a high-quality book and will rarely lead to the hurt feelings so common with the opposite approach.

Be patient.

CooperationIf you have put much time and effort into your manuscript, you are likely anxious to hear back from your editor to find out what he or she thought of it. Truly good editing can take some time, however, and most editors have multiple clients, so be prepared to wait.

If you are at a loss for how to fill your time, get started on your marketing campaign. It is never too early to gather the names of influential people and publications that may be willing to review your book.

Be timely.

If you have agreed to a deadline, do your best to meet it. If you are unable to meet a deadline, do not go to ground and avoid your editor’s calls. Communicate your needs and work hard to make the adjusted deadline. Having to track down an AWOL author is a major pet peeve of all editors and is, frankly, a waste of time.

Be organized.

Good organization can save many hours of work for you and your editor.

  • Label your electronic files in such a way that you can always find the most recent version of your manuscript.
  • If you have photos, use a numbering system that indicates which chapter the photo goes with.
  • Finally, keep meticulous research notes so that you can answer the inevitable requests from your editor for more information on where you found your materials.

A systematic approach to research will also help you if you decide to publish a revised edition in the future and need to return to your original sources.

Be flexible.

red penMany authors become rigid when an outsider attempts to make changes to their writing. Yet, fighting every change makes the editing process a drudgery for both author and editor. Yes, it is your book, but you have called in professional help for a reason. Your editor is working to make it the best, most marketable book it can be.

If you are willing to collaborate, listen to your editor’s feedback, and potentially tweak your initial vision for the project to one that satisfies both of your concerns, you will likely find yourself with an even better book than you ever thought possible!

Be a good communicator.

In an age when most communication is done over the Internet, confusion and miscommunication run rampant. Take your time when responding to e-mails and make sure you have answered the questions that were asked. If you have questions for your editor, compile them into one message rather than sending four or five e-mails, each with a separate question.

You will save time for yourself and your editor, and you will avoid much of the confusion, wasted effort, and frustration that result from miscommunication.

Be enthusiastic!

At times the road to publication has grown so long that authors lose all enthusiasm for their books. When the author is no longer engaged, editing can become a tiresome and boring task. If you want a good, thorough edit, show your enthusiasm for the project. Be open to ideas, and be willing to put in the effort needed to create a compelling piece of writing. Your editor will respond in kind.

When each party is fully engaged in the project, the editing process is a fun and rewarding time, and the result is a book both author and editor can be proud of.

It doesn’t take much to be a good author. Remember a few common courtesies and you will always be on your editor’s good side. That can mean great things for you as an author. Most important, you will receive your editor’s best work. You will also likely benefit from his or her extra effort to promote you and your book. What’s more, your reputation as a good author could even help you get that next book published, and isn’t that what being a good author is all about?

This article originally appeared on Walrus Publishing on September 4, 2014.

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

Inspiration Can Sneak Up On You: Three Ways to Inspire Your Writing

In October I attended my old writers’ group after being away for close to two years. The speaker, Sarah Kaufman, was not scheduled to talk about my area of writing, but I went anyway. Sometimes you just have to get up and go.

Of all the information Kaufman presented, one small comment sparked my interest the most. She explained that as she was writing her book, The Art of Grace, her publisher noted, “It could be like Quiet!”

At that moment, Sarah was not using her competition, but her comparables as inspiration for her book.

This is an often overlooked way to better your writing.

Normally we look for books on our same topic, targeted to our same audience, to see what’s what. How can we do what they did, only better?

dreamstime_28421040
Copyright Kevin Carden | Dreamstime.com

But when you have a topic and aren’t sure how you want to approach it, a close look at books that do the same thing as yours but on a different topic — what are known as comparables — now that can be a source of real inspiration.

Inspiration can be funny. We never know when it will come or where we will find it:

  • A friend recently moved to Germany and said he was surprised by how uninspired he felt by his new surroundings. This feeling then inspired him to write a novel about a character who felt the same way.
  • I went to a writing group to connect with old friends, and I found inspiration to write this post about inspiration. How meta is that?

The feeling of being uninspired is a drain on our writing lives.

Often, this feeling keeps us inside and away from our bookish pals. We unsubscribe from newsletters and blogs about writing, and we avoid being alone with the computer. Who wants to be reminded of how much they aren’t writing?

But what I learned from all of this is threefold:

  1. Putting yourself in public spaces can trigger new ideas.
  2. Reading widely, not just in your genre or about your main topic of interest, can improve your writing and lead you in new directions.
  3. Sometimes you have to open your mind to accept the inspiration that comes.

So get up and go. See, do, and read new things, and follow wherever it leads you.

Do you have a story about inspiration sneaking up on you? Leave it in the comments!

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

Hinkebein Family Album

For the past few years I have been mentally compiling a playlist of songs from my childhood and teen years. I often hear songs on the radio that immediately remind me of one of my sisters or brother. I wanted to capture that experience and share it with my siblings — a portrait of my family through music.

These are songs we listened to on our record player or tape deck, often while we cleaned the house together on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We fought a lot and shared many dismal days, but those moments with the house full of kids and the stereo turned up are some of the rosiest memories I have. This would be my tribute to those times.

With 8 kids in the family, I could assign 2 songs per sibling, plus an opening and closing song we all enjoyed, for a nice, tight 18-song album. But as I worked through it, I realized I couldn’t leave out my parents, and a couple of my brothers-in-law started hanging around when I was 5. I wanted to include them too. What to do?

Aha! Bonus tracks!

With my plan in place, I set about gathering the music and determining the order. The following playlist is the result.

I can hear each song play from only the title. Can you?

433519

Hinkebein Family Album

 

Side A. The Four Oldest

  1. We Are Family / Sister Sledge
  2. Copacabana / Barry Manilow
  3. Jet / Wings
  4. Don’t Ask Me Why / Billy Joel
  5. Fast Car / Tracy Chapman
  6. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / The Beatles
  7. 1999 / Prince
  8. Surfing with the Alien / Joe Satriani
  9. Sultans of Swing / Dire Straits

Side B. The Four Youngest

  1. Kiss Off / Violent Femmes
  2. Smooth Operator / Sade
  3. What’s Love Got to Do With It / Tina Turner
  4. Every Heartbeat / Amy Grant
  5. Poison / Bel Biv Devoe
  6. Once / Pearl Jam
  7. Eternal Flame / The Bangles
  8. Running Down a Dream / Tom Petty
  9. Bugged at My Old Man / The Beach Boys

Bonus Tracks: Michael, Bill, Mom, and Dad

  1. Owner of a Lonely Heart / Yes
  2. Can’t Fight This Feeling / REO Speedwagon
  3. Break My Stride / Matthew Wilder
  4. King of the Road / Roger Miller

 

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

It’s About Earning Clients, Not Just Finding Them

Most self-employed people, including freelance editors, have the inherent challenge of finding clients. But that is only half the story. The real challenge is landing them and keeping them.

To do that, you have to prove your worth. You have to earn a client.

Generosity Is Key

Some freelancers are reluctant to give anything away. I have written before about why I think that is a bad idea. While I may have softened somewhat on exactly how much you should give away, I do think the generous among us get much more than we give.

There are three broad categories for what a person has to give: money, time, and talent.

money-300x271I don’t see many freelancers donating money to their clients, but they could knock a few dollars off their fees for a new client, or for an old client hiring a new service. Those ideas can help you sign an author.

The trouble I have found, though, is that often the beneficiary of a discount no longer values your services to the same degree.

Giving time and talent—now that is where you can demonstrate how valuable you and your work are. And that is exactly what I mean when I talk about earning a client.

Here are five ways I have earned clients over the years, and you can use them too.

  1. Take Time to Explain Your Editing Process

About three years into my freelancing career, I began working with self-publishers. Each time I had a prospective client, I would write an extensive email explaining how my process works. This took a lot of time and effort that I knew could be spent more wisely.

However, I also knew my clients needed the information. How could I balance these two needs?

Over time, I formalized my process, put it in a document, and now have it posted on my website for any potential client to download and read. Those authors who haven’t read my website receive a copy when we first set up a phone call to discuss a project.

The response has been very positive. I often hear, “I appreciate how open you are about the process” and “I like that you have explained all of the steps up front.”

The benefit to me, besides saving time, is that it sets expectations. Now everyone knows what is going to happen and why. It’s much easier to please your clients when they know what you have promised to do for them.

  1. Take Time to Explain Style Decisions

I earned one client when he asked why some endnotes used a comma before the page numbers and others used a colon. He had been working with a traditional publisher and I was the copyeditor assigned to the project.

I explained that per Chicago Manual of Style, journal citations use a colon and book citations use a comma before page numbers. He said:

“No one has ever been able to explain that to me. Thank you.”

He proceeded to hire me to edit his next book before submitting it to the publisher. Since then we have worked on three more books together over 10 years.

  1. Share Your Talent Through a Sample Edit

Performing a sample edit helps the editor at least as much as it does the potential client. Sample edits allow editors to determine how much work a new project is going to be. It lets you see the writing for yourself, rather than taking the author’s word for it when it comes to

  • How long the manuscript is
  • How strong the writing is
  • How organized the author is

These factors tell the editor how much time the editing will take, what level of editing is required, and how much to quote for the project.

For their part, the author gets to see what kinds of changes will be made and what the editor’s editing style is.

This helps the author to decide whether the editor is a good fit. Further, the author could take the suggestions from the sample edit and apply them to their work before submitting the manuscript for a full edit.

For both parties, the sample edit again helps to set expectations. Clear expectations are key to a good working relationship, and that leads to (1) repeat business and (2) word-of-mouth advertising. Both are essential to a healthy business.

  1. Suggest Additional Resources—Books, Websites, Videos

Having access to additional resources makes you a resource. That means clients will come back to you when they need advice or guidance. It builds trust, and the more someone trusts you, the more likely they are to hire you.

dreamstimelarge_57561641You can find many of my favorite resources on this website and many more in Publishing Resources for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (PDF available on my website; Kindle edition available through Amazon).

Being able to refer clients to other publishing professionals, such as book designers, graphic artists, marketers, and agents, is one more way to be a resource for your clients.

You are valuable for your knowledge and your connections. Proving your value is how you earn a client.

  1. Admit It When a Project Is Outside Your Area of Expertise

The last, best way I know how to earn a client is to admit it when you are not the right editor for a project. This honesty goes a long way in building trust.

For some editors, sending a potential client to another editor sounds like the exact opposite of what you should do. How does that at all contribute to landing a client?

By turning down projects for which you are unable to do a high-quality job, you are saving your reputation.

Rather than being known as the editor who missed a lot of errors or misled an author about their credentials, you become the editor who is conscientious and confident enough to send a client to another professional.

In the future, this client may come back to you with another project, with a different task on the same project, or with a potential new client via a referral.

When it comes to attracting and keeping clients, repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising can’t be beat.

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

 

 

Fictionalizing Your Story? Commit!

A few years ago I read Jeannette Walls’s Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel. It is the fictionalized tale of her grandmother and mother living on the frontier. It was a lovely book and I highly recommend it.

I have just one reservation: In fictionalizing the story, Walls did not go far enough. She did not fully commit.

This choice left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied. I wanted a fuller story—a novel.

shutterstock_126004004

Before and since that time, I have seen the same problem with some of my clients’ works as well as in published books. After the A Million Little Pieces fiasco, more people are hesitant to call their memoirs nonfiction if they include anything not verifiably true, and they are opting to fictionalize. Here is my advice to those authors:

If that is your decision, then embrace it!

Employ all of the tools of storytelling that are available to a novelist to make your fictionalized story a worthy read:

  • Develop back stories for your characters
  • Invent dialogue and settings
  • Embellish feelings and reactions for your characters
  • Rearrange events and create new ones

In sum, fill in the details you don’t remember or never were told, to craft a full-bodied story that readers will enjoy.

Detach yourself from reality!

Some authors are reluctant to create something for fear of not being true to the story they wish to tell. I believe it is possible to capture the essence of an event while placing it in a different setting or inventing dialogue that you have no way to verify.

But fictionalizing isn’t just about filling in the details. Novelists have even more tools that keep their stories moving. You can use them too!

  • Combine or eliminate characters
  • Skip events that don’t fit with the narrative arc
  • Summarize background information
  • Leave out the details that don’t move the plot or aid character development

Omitting information can be as difficult as inventing it when your goal is to be true to your story. Yet, the best storytellers know when to expound on a seemingly minor detail and when to bridge over events that don’t contribute to the effect they want to achieve.

You have to do what is right and best for your work. Let the shackles of reality go, and commit to the genre you have chosen.

When you fail to commit, you leave readers adrift.

 

PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res

 

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!