Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Don’t Antagonize Your Readers

Dorothy Parker, supposedly, wrote a book review that included the comment, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” We’ve all read something that fits this quote, I’m sure. I could name about three I’ve read in just this past year.

I just finished another book like that – I will NOT mention the author or title because this is strictly my opinion.

Why didn’t I like this? Certainly, it wasn’t because it was badly written, or have illogical situations, or have a disappointing ending. I didn’t care for it because the author did something I truly hate to see in books and novels or even in contest entries from potentially to-be-published authors.

As part of the story, the author makes disparaging remarks about another character strictly because that character’s political beliefs differ from those of the main character (and, I presume, those of the author). Please note I’m not even mentioning which political party is being insulted because I’ve read books that do the same for the opposite (as well as other) political beliefs.

Since the majority of people belong to either the Democratic or Republican parties, my question is: WHY would an author potentially alienate HALF of their readership?

You are very much mistaken if you assume that everyone who may read your book thinks along the same lines as you.

If you’re writing a non-fiction political commentary, fine – go ahead and rant all you want. But if you’re writing fiction, please for the sake of your readers, don’t insult the other person’s beliefs. Don’t make Democrats modern-day, drug-using hippies or Republicans up-tight, money-grubbing yuppies or make other political views look ridiculous. Not only is that insulting to potential readers, it makes for two-dimensional characters that aren’t very interesting to read.

Apart from the above rant about how this author treated differing political points of view, the book wasn’t all that bad – it’s not something that’s going on my keeper shelf, but fairly enjoyable. However, because of this author’s remarks, I will certainly be less likely to pick up another book by them.

I’m sure this author will not miss my $.60 in royalties (which they wouldn’t have gotten anyway because I checked it out of my local library), but losing potential readers can also affect your potential royalties.

Think about it before you write it. That’s all I ask.

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Goals – not Resolutions!

I hope you survived the holidays and are ready to take on a brand new year. New calendars, new appointment books, clean pages to write on.

Every year I make resolutions (most often, resolving to lose weight and get in shape). Typically, those resolutions go by the wayside quickly since my birthday is only two weeks into the new year and I will often splurge on cake.

So I’ve decided not to make any resolutions this year. Instead, I’m listing goals I want to accomplish. This, in my opinion, automatically puts far less pressure on you.

Goal 1: Eat better.

Please note I didn’t say anything about losing weight here. In the past year, I hate to admit that I’ve resorted to eating a lot of fast-food – I’m not naming any one company in particular because I’ve probably gone through all of their drive-thru’s. Yes, it’s quick, but not the healthiest eating out there.

For the umpteenth time in my life, I’m giving up diet sodas as part of this goal as well.  I dearly love my new soda maker and, instead of syrups, I just put real lemon or lime juice in them for flavorings.  Yummmm – feeds my addiction to carbonation without all the additives.

I’m focusing on fruits and vegetables and making sure that every meal (and snacks) are healthy or, at least, healthier.

There is also no time limitation on this goal, although I do hope that all this healthy eating will get my blood pressure down in time for my next doctor’s appointment so he won’t know how much I’ve backslid since my last appointment.  (Dr. XXX, if you’re reading this, I apologize in advance.)

Goal 2:  BICHOK (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard)

There is nothing in the above goal that puts pressure on me in terms of the number of pages I need to write each day or week.  As the Nike Company says, “Just do it.” Once you’re in the chair (and, in my case, pushed the cat aside more than a few times), there is a comfort to sitting and writing.

Writing is empowering – this is my world I get to create and it’s kind of fun to play the Omnipotent One. I’ve created an entire studio, complete with its own library of films and stars. I control it all! Or, at least, the vast majority. There have been times when my characters didn’t do what I wanted them to do when I wanted them to do it, but it turned out they had a very good reason for disobedience (another blog post at some point).

I don’t have to write in sequence – I can skip around in the book if an idea for a specific scene comes to mind. The goal is to write at least one hour each day, with one day off in a week.

I am going to concentrate on this one book in particular. Yes, I have ideas for other books and I may take the time to open up a new document and write those ideas down, but I won’t work on those just yet. Note – I’m not berating myself for not working on my current WIP, but I also don’t want to rely on my memory if it’s a truly great idea.

Most importantly, I allow myself to write crap – just get the words on the page. Nora Roberts is often credited with saying “I can’t fix a blank page.”

And, I give myself permission to quit after an hour. However, so far, I’ve worked more hours this week than most of last year just because my writing engines are revved.

I have other goals for the year, but those aren’t worth blogging about. What they all have in common is that they are doable! None are so overwhelming that I’ll be throwing up my hands and bemoaning “I can’t do this!” while rushing out to buy a Snickers bar.

If you think that this is cheating and that I’m not really accomplishing anything, just remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I wish you a happy, healthy, and productive new year!