Have a question about writing? Need a few tips to refresh your memory? As a trusted resource for writers over many years, we have collected numerous questions from writers at various levels of experience. Now we are sharing our knowledge base in the new Answers library. You can access the pages free, or add your own questions and insights. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your thoughts to Facebook and Twitter. We’ll answer. Also, take a look at our Learn to Write section for detailed answers.
Authorlink Answer 1: Listen closely to the rhythms beneath the words. Words, like sound waves in music, have rhythms beneath them.
Authorlink Answer 2: The overuse or incorrect use of punctuation can immediately brand you to editors and agents as an amateur. A common mistake is the use of a hyphen or en dash (-), when you mean an em dash (—). The long dash serves to separate a related thought from the main idea of the sentence. For example:
Professor Brown—he is one of our best instructors—always summarizes the previous lesson on the blackboard for his students.
By the way, there should be no spaces before or after the hyphen or the em dash. Check out PUNCTUATION PLAIN & SIMPLE by Edgar C. Alward and Jean A. Alward.
Authorlink Answer 3: There may not be enough at stake for your characters, not enough tension between them. Or, you’ve used too much telling or description. Solution: raise the stakes for the characters and cut out unnecessary telling and desription. An excellent resource on this subject is: THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, by Noah Lukeman.
Question 4: A plot does not magically appear from a progression of facts. So where does it come from?
Authorlink Answer 4: Plot comes when yoru characters take action; with their interction with others; with their traits being applied to imagined scenarios. We like to say that a character is defined by his or her relationships with others, as well as their traits. An excellent resorce on this subject is: THE PLOT THICKENS, by Noah Lukeman.
Question 5: How can I find the essential “heart” of my story?
Authorlink Answer 5: Every story must have a heart—a shared sensation around which the story pivots, an emotionalpulse that connects yur tale to the lives of your readers. Look for one single word that seems to be throbbing beneath your tale. Is the story about inocence, loss, truth, obsession, intimacy, faith? Find that single word. Good reference source: SHIMMERING IMAGES by Lisa Dale Norton.
Authorlink Answer 6: One way is to raise the stakes for your character. What will he/she win or lose if the goal isn’t met. To raise the stakes, the character must have an objective or a goal. A mundane objective won’t work. The goal must hold major importance for your character. A good reference source: THE PLOT THICKENS, by Noah Lukeman.
Question 7: When self-publishing, should I distribute my books through one online retailer, or many?
Authorlink Answer 7: It is a good thing to place your books in as many retail sales channels as possible. We advise against signing up with retailers whose plans require exclusive listing.
Question 8: What are the top sites to distribute your self-published work?
Authorlink Answer 8: Amazon controls about 60% of the market. Beyond that, there’s also Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.