Monday, August 22, 2016

Writing, Feelings, and Vision

Women interpreted the world through feelings. The men interpreted the world with logic. I learned how to discuss my feeling state, my feelings. I learned how to say, when thus and so happens I feel this or that. Now my fictional characters do that. If you want to capture readers and have them seeking more of your work, give your characters full inner lives. This doesn’t mean omniscient viewpoint. It means reflecting a feeling or emotional reaction to an event. Not a logical reaction, not the thoughts, but the feelings. Two totally different things.

Do’s and don’t's
avoid cognitive dissonance
do full inner life, provide full cognitive consonance

Important for new writers:
  1. remember that vision and voice are the same thing, and that one is how you see the world and one is how you express what you see — but in way they’re the same thing because in both cases it’s the brain interpreting your reality as seen through your filter. Biocentrists claim that vision creates reality. Some quantum physicists say the same thing. As humans we’re nosy about our neighbors: when I see red and you see red are we seeing the same thing? When I witness the accident on 24th street and you witness the same thing, did we see the same thing? Read an accident report for the answer to this. Two people located in the exact same position will give the police officer two totally different stories and yet both will be adamant that he or she is right. Amazing. So this is vision. Voice is how I tell you about the accident. Not what I tell you—what I tell you is vision. Voice is how I tell you. 
  2. For that first year, ignore profit and seek out eyes

How to sell books
If I were starting today I would publish my first book and advertise in order to get reviews so I could aim for a Bookbub. At the same time I would be writing my second book. I wouldn’t let my first book drop off the 90 day cliff before I had my second book out. For a beginning writer I would also use preorders because a preorder can get me on the hot new releases list in my genre if I’m moving the book with my FB ads. Then I get the full benefit of HNR prepublication followed by thirty days on HNR after publication. In other words, I want my name out there.
In my first 18 months BB featured me 12 times. I always opted for the freebie feature and avoided the paid features because I wanted eyes, not a few bucks. 
Advertising: ignore ROI. Expect to lose dollars on advertising at first, but always remember you’re after exposure for your books. And as your backlist grows you will be selling those books based on the advertising cost of the first book alone.

Which brings me to the most important thing a new writer —or an old writer—can do: Write books that people want to read.
There are two steps to this
1 Write to market
2 Write compelling stories - you must have in each scene a goal and a move toward that goal. At the end of the scene you will leave a comment indicating whether the goal was reached or leave a comment indicating more problems to come. A good technique is not only to thwart that goal but also increase the problem the MC is facing because he or she tried to succeed.
-Never be afraid to put your MC in more danger or more of a struggle. This conflict is the key to getting readers to turn pages. 
-Every character who we’re going to see a second time in the book must be conflicted, however small. Interest level.

Also, MC must react to conflict with inner life reveals. We need to know his or her inner life or it becomes cardboard. So us what he or she is thinking, feeling, plotting, hoping, fearing—all of it. Except never foretell strategy. Let the reader see MC meet with another character to strategize but never let the reader know what it was they planned. Only that they planned something. Keep leading them along.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Wish I could follow your advice!

I agree with a lot of the posts here I've read so far - but completely lack the speed.

I still mine blogs like yours for gold - gold can be applied anywhere, to any kind of writing.

Liked your comments on TPV - and admire your results.

John Ellsworth said...

Thanks so much. I need to blog more and do less FB commentary, for my own good. Really appreciate your comments!

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

My wordpress blog,, automatically posts the new blog posts to my FB page. Can blogger do that? Two-for-one effect.

I do need to make a professional page on FB; it's on the list.