Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing Tips by Fran Lewis

My guest blogger today is author, radio host and reviewer, Fran Lewis. Welcome, Fran and thanks for sharing your words of wisdom with us today!

Writing a Non-Fiction Book

1.  When writing a non- fiction book that is not an autobiography you might want to start by doing research and getting information related to the topic that you are going to write about. Before writing my first Alzheimer’s book I researched the disease and got information from many doctors, organizations and websites to include in the medical part of the book. In order to understand the illness and the stages I had to find the information needed from different sources.
2.  By doing research you will have some idea of what you want to write about and how you might want to present this information.
3.  You need to decide on your audience. Are you targeting all adults, young adults or children?
4.  Is this book for someone who does not know much about your topic or is it for someone with some knowledge? Knowing your audience will help you decide which type of research you will need and how technical the articles might have to be or not be.
5.  Create an outline of the chapters or areas you want to cover.
6.  Create a short summary before writing the book or an article on this topic.
7.  This will help you to focus on the important areas that you want to cover in your book and the order of how you want to present it to your readers.
8.  After writing your story, article or novel you need to edit it from start to finish.
9.  Read your article from top to bottom. Spell -check it and check for correct grammar. Edit the book or article many times. Make a hard copy of the book or article by printing it. Recheck for errors that you might have missed. Have someone else read it. Self-editing and reediting.
10.                Publish the article: Make sure that it is perfect.

When writing a fiction book you can follow the above steps but you need to consider these additional ones too:

When writing my children’s series I had to decide on the main character of the book. I listed the character traits that I want this character to have. I created the many different situations that I wanted the character to encounter and in what settings she would encounter them.

I wrote a short summary of the book and what I hoped it would finally say. A short summary can be written in the present or third person. The summary introduced my main characters and their possible conflicts.
You can create a short plot outline the plot points or scenes that you want included in your book. When I wrote my first chapter book I created my outline and as I wrote the book I realized I had to change the chapter order and recreate some of the conversations among the characters and where they took place.

REVISE: look for areas or parts that do not need to be in your short story or book.
Make sure your opening will hook the reader and keep him/her interested from the first word.

Check the dialogue and make sure it flows
Make sure that you created the scenes and the places in a clear way
Add characters where you think they are needed.

Choosing A Strong Character:

This was the hardest part for me. I sat down and listed all of the things that I would want to include in my first book about and about my character Bertha. I decided to list all of her strong and her weak character traits. I listed which I wanted included in each story. I had to decide on how she looks and her physical appearance, which had to match her traits and fit her as a person. Since, the main character of my books is really me, I guess that was not too hard. I worked long and hard to decide whether I wanted to reveal to the world the many things that I went through growing up and how I handled them.

I had to find a way to describe Bertha and tell about the many incidents that happened to her.

Bertha has a sister named Tillie who is her total opposite which made is easier for the many conflicts that I included in my first two books to take place. I made sure that Bertha learned from these difficult situations and would react as any child would that was in elementary school and then Middle School. I wanted to make her a real person that both kids and adults could identify with. I made her overweight, like I was as a kid and not so pretty either. I made her awkward, klutzy and the brunt of many unpleasant remarks and situations. But, I made her smart, funny and intelligent. I made her the real me.

After choosing Bertha and creating Tillie who was her opposite and her sister, I added other characters who would help create the many conflicts that she would encounter. I then added her mother who was a strong force in her life and how she had to deal with a difficult parent who wanted to her to be perfect at all costs.

In a novel, you need to decide on your main character. Is that character going to be a hero, villain or just plain kind and nice? What is your characters role in this novel? Is your character going to do something to help others, hurt others or what their purpose is in this novel?
Create your characters career, occupation or daily activities.

What type of family background does your character have? Is your character from a solid family or one that was abusive? What is the character’s economic or financial situation and does it relate to the book or what this person does?
Describe your characters physical appearance: height, body type, glasses, skin color, shape or face any specific facial features or other features that stand out.
Describe how this character dresses
Describe the good and bad attributes of this character
Write a short character sketch or profile of this character and the other minor ones. How will these characters intertwine and what role will they have in the plot.

The next step would be the settings for the situations that you are writing about. But, that would be for next time.

Publishing Tip: Do not sign off on a galley copy or author’s copy that has any errors. Do not let the publisher tell you that these errors will be corrected before the book is out. All too often, as I have learned, I keep every galley, every email and every piece of paper that I have written on with the errors that I have found each and every time my manuscript gets sent back to production for editing. Unfortunately, the last time I signed off on perfect galley with no errors, production printed the book from the previous one with errors. I could take it off sale but the errors are not that many, but they should not have happened. This time I will make triple sure and let them know that they will pay for any corrections that might need to be made, I hope not, if I have to take the book off sale as I did with my first one and they never got that right. Be aware that you should not have to pay extra for many of the print on demand services and before agreeing to a contract make sure they include the registration with the Library of Congress and the Copyright without an extra charge. Make sure that you get at least ten copies of your book and make sure that you get it all in writing. Make sure that the postcards; bookmarks and other media material are part of your package. I learned how to negotiate.
Hope these tips are helpful. I am just learning too.


writerchick said...

very interesting and helpful advise fran.

Rachel Rueben said...

Speaking on the topic of self-publishing, authors need to take their time when editing and proofing. Just because you can press publish doesn't me you should. I learned that one the hard way LOL!

Unknown said...

You are so right Rachel. After self-publishing six titles I learned that the editing department of this company did not always find all of the typos or errors and they often added more of their own leading authors that are new to pay for the corrections. You need to edit, proof, print out the galleys that they send you and label them as I learned from past experience and then label and tag the one you sign off on before they send it to print.If errors are found when reviewers review your book or you find them and the final galley is clean then they will or should fix them because you know what you signed off on. Thanks for the valuable comment. Fran

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