My grandfather had over nine-hundred children

What would happen if you were related to almost everyone in your town? If your grandfather had over nine-hundred children that might be your reality.

My grandfather had over
nine-hundred children

Oh, the questions this raises.

  • Are they all his children or did he adopt?
  • Did he have many wives?
  • Is this tied to the person with the immortal daughter?
  • Did that many people come to see the man as “father”
  • Is this a cult, a hero, or something else?
  • What was it like having such a grandfather?
  • Is this the secret your wife had?
  • This could make dating a problem…

I cannot wait to see what you do with this prompt. This is not a competition theme although if the Blog Train author decides to treat it like one there could still be a “winner”.

What I do differently with my genre?

To compliment Fiction Friday, I have compiled a long old list of theme ideas for platform building blog posts.

This collection I think of as the Business Monday Platform Builder Prompt.

What I do differently with my genre?

This is an area that a lot of writers fail to address and we do so at our own cost. In business, we talk about the USP – Unique selling proposition. Your USP is the reason why someone should come to you rather than anyone else.

As writers, we are not also naturally attuned to thinking about what we do differently. Howeve5r, what we do that is unique or special is part of the character of our writing and the kind of stories only we can tell.

Each writer has a story that only they can tell. Give the same plot, characters, setting, and chapter notes to another writer and you will get a different story.

Reflecting on your uniqueness is as important for you as a writer as it is for the reader who might be looking for exactly what you offer.

What is your genre?

Of course, to be able to know how you set yourself apart in your genre, you must first know what the genre is.

Rock your Writing gives a great guide to figuring this issue out. I would certainly give that article a read if you are struggling to identify which genre your multi-genre break-out novel sits in.

For example, for all the urban fantasy elements I cram into some stories I know that they are actually soft sci-fi while others, despite the science bits are really science fiction. One with both is actually a coming of age story about childhood. The magic is secondary to that.

  1. Step one, know your genre.
  2. Step two, figure out what you do differently.
  3. Step three, write about it.

Let us know how you get on. For most platforms, linking to this post will ping it and make a link back to your post. Then we can all come and read what you have written. I look forward to checking out your platforms and your reflections of what you do differently.

Write well.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

Wanted: Articles

When we first set up this blog it was with the intention that it be written by a range of different members. While I am fine with writing (it is something I love to do) I would love to see some other takes on topics.

That’s why we have a contact form sections encouraging you to become a contributor.

For those of you with a blog, a guest post (the odd post for another blog) can help gain you new readers and gives the blog you write for a bit of variety.

This is a list of topics that we would love to publish an article about. If you think you can do one of these justice, then we would love to hear from you.

  • How to choose first person or third
  • Writing with the present tense
  • Tactical use of offensive language
  • How to approach publishers
  • What is the three act structure and should I use it?
  • How to write compelling female characters
  • Using smell as an emotive part of description
  • How to get started with poetry
  • Chapter sizes – how long or short should chapter be?
  • Getting started with self-publishing
  • Techniques for writing dialogue
  • How to write lively dialogue
  • Does the monomyth really apply?
  • How to write for the young adult market
  • How to make a Time Travel fresh again
  • When and how to use gore in horror
  • Time and place – using real locations in fiction
  • An introduction to the editing process
  • What are serial rights and why do they matter?
  • Overcoming writer’s block

That’s not a hard and fast list of topics. If you have a good idea then please come forward with it.

As and when these topics are covered by me or by you, I will link them so you know that there is already at least one article on the subject. Even if there is already an article on the subject I would bet that you have something new to say on that subject.

We need you to write for us.

I wake up, everything is different

You open your eyes. It is a new day. Everything is different. What now?

This week for Fiction Friday our prompt is all about waking up to change.

I wake up, everything is different

As is our custom, here are some muse triggering questions that occurred to us (well, to me anyway) while writing this prompt.

  • What has changed?
  • How soon do you notice?
  • How do you feel about the change?
  • Is this a good change or a bad change or a bit of both change?
  • Do you ever find out why things are different?

Enjoy writing to this prompt which I honestly hope causes you to enjoy a visit from The Muse. If you write a story based on this prompt and post it online please consider linking out to us. Have fun with this and I hope I can read what you write.

Bonus points if the picture we used somehow ties in with your story.

I am in love with a woman who does not exist

Today’s writing prompt for Fiction Friday has love with a big twist.

I am in love with a woman
who does not exist

  • Who is this person?
  • How can they be in love with someone who does not exist?
  • What is happening here?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What happens next?

We would love to read your stories that you write based on this prompt. Please do drop us a link, if you write something. Wishing you many happy hours with The Muse.

Is my daughter immortal?

In this week’s Fiction Friday Writing Prompt someone has a daughter that they think might be immortal.

Wow. How did that happen?

Is my daughter immortal?

As always, here are some obvious questions to ask yourself.

  • Who is this person with an immortal daughter
  • What has caused them to ask that question?
  • Is the daughter immortal?
  • Who have they told?
  • What happens next?

Please have fun and we hope this prompted causes a visit from The Muse. If you write a story based on this prompt and post it online please consider linking out to us. Have fun with this and I hope I can read what you write.

My wife is harbouring a secret, what do I do now?

This week’s Fiction Friday writing prompt is all about secrets and keeping them (or not). In this prompt, a wife has a secret and you (or a protagonist) must work out what to do next.

My wife is harbouring a secret,
what do I do now?

Some of the more obvious questions this raises are?

  • Who’s wife has the secret and who are they telling?
  • What is the secret?
  • How did they find out the secret existed?
  • What do they do about it?
  • What happens next?

Have fun with this writing prompt and remember: If you post something your write that was inspired by this prompt, a link is a nice way to say thank you. I hope this gets your creative juices flowing and prompts a visit by the muse.

Five things authors can do to build a platform

Building a platform worthy of attracting publisher attention is no small feat. Here are five easy tasks that will get you in the right direction.

If you have never heard of an Authorial Platform (an author’s platform) before then I highly recommend that you read What is an Author Platform. You might also want to keep the Platform Building Jargon buster handy

1. Have a good blog

A blog or a full website can easily form the foundation of your platform.

Ideally, you should have your own website with your own domain name where you can publish whatever you want (including running a blog).

When you are just starting out, this is often a bit much to ask. Often because of the technical requirements that you have to reach. That said there are some excellent hosting services with very good customer support that will help you through almost all of the steps. So this is less of a barrier if you have a little cash to throw at the problem.

A blog, such as WordPressTumblrmblR or similar can be a good enough place to start. Best of all it they are free and fairly easy to set up. So if you are not yet ready to set up a full website a free blog can be just as good.

All you need to do is decide how many times a week you are going to publish and keep to that. If you only publish once a week (not a bad start) then pick a day for the content to go live. Try and write your post some time before publication day so it is ready when the time arrives.

For ideas of things to talk about, see our platform building themes from the competition we have been running.

2. Connect with others

Almost all of the remaining tips there are to give are in some way social. The first step after setting up your blog is to connect with other bloggers. There are a few ways to connect but they all boil down to showing some attention and communicating:

  • Talk on local forums of Facebook groups
  • Comment on other author’s blogs
  • Chat via email
  • Connect of Facebook
  • Follow on WordPress

Connecting with others gives you a loose assosiation fo fellow writers to bounce ideas off of, to read and get ideas from, and to trade comments with. Think of your network of fellow writer-bloggers as a writers group online.

This community is the first seeds of the community and following that you are trying to build arround yourself.

3. Get the word out

Now you have your community foundation in place it is time to get the word out. There are many different ways to do that and what works for you really depends on who you are and where the kind of people taht are interested in you and your writing might be found.

The only way to figure that out, sometimes, is to suck it and see.

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook (page not group)
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit

Each of those places that you can promote your content has different requirements for success and differing levels of commitment. For example, a Facebook page should have a solid piece of content every single day for maximum effect. When you are just starting out forming a small public group for writers to share their blog posts with each other might be a better way to go; or it might be a terrible idea. These things are not cut and dry by any means.

Figure out what works for you and stick to it.

4. Link yourself up

One trick authors often miss is that they write great content which then vanishes into the archives never to be seen again. Don’t let that be you.

Instead, revisit the themes you have touched on in the past.

Once you have been going a year, if you find yourself short of ideas to write about, look back one year and publish a revised and updated look at the same topic. Not only will most of your readers have missed the first one but the idea itself will be fresh again.

Link readers back to the older stuff when you mention it as part of your new content. The chances are that at least half of your readers will have never seen what you published six months or a year ago.

By linking to other content you provide your readers with somewhere to go after they are done with the page they are currently reading. Why do you think wikis, which do this all the time, are so popular? You can browse those all day, jumping from topic to topic.

5. Don’t stop.

Whatever you do, don’t stop. Keep going.

Platforms take time to establish. That hard work can drain away if you leave your blog or soical media outposts without fresh updates. When you are knee deep in novel creation, you might only manage an update saying how many hours, words, or pages you managed. That’s fine for a while.

If you are working hard for a longer period of time there arre some other ways to keep those plates spinning.

  • Pay an assistant writer to publish content for you
  • Ask your community of fellow writers to provide guest posts
  • Build up a backlog of extra posts for times when you are busy
  • Publish a list of your posts about a single theme
  • Take a few pictures of your pet and post them

There are many one-off posts that have very littleto do with you and your writing and readers will happily accept one or two highly off topic posts every now and then without complaint. The rule of thumb is the 80:20 rule or about 1 off topic post for every 4 on topic posts.

Some writers, when they are working on a new novel will publish excerpts fromt he novel that they are very proud of. Others will grab a camera and read a page or two and put up a video.

There are many ways to turn what you are doing into more content.

Keep going.

Over to you

  • What are your tips for keeping going or platform building?
  • Have you tried something and it just did not work at all?
  • Have you found anything that works really well for you?

Tell us in the comments sections below.

Have you considered becoming a Storyteller?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. Once-upon-a-time there was a person who told a story. That person could be you.

Storytelling is more than just reading out a story that you have written. Stories define us and help us explore the world. They enable us to look at old things in new ways. The storyteller is the artist that guides us on the story’s journey.

Since the first people sat around the first campfire, stories have been told. Although it is an ancient tradition, storytelling is still relevant today. Why do you thing films, books, and computer games exist? Stories are part of who we are.

Everyone has at least one story in them waiting to get be let out. Some of us, have many, many stories. Sometimes that is what drives us to become writers.

Jonathan Gottschall calls us the storytelling animal. In many ways we are, we live in stories. We create stories. We define our world with stories.

Professional Storytelling

Have you considered becoming not just a writer but a storyteller? Perhaps a professional storyteller?

The Society for Storytelling has a number of excellent resources including a guide to Becoming a Professional Storyteller and Telling Tales: A beginners Guide to Telling Stories.

What Great Storytellers Know with Matt Chan is a TEDx video that takes a novel look at storytelling.

If you decide to set up a storytelling event then the Society for Storytelling has a guide on Promoting Storytelling Events. Members of our charity can expect our full support in promoting local events and storytelling is no exception. We’d be delighted to get behind local storytelling events.

Next year, National Storytelling Week takes place from January 27th to 3rd February. So there is plenty of time to plan something (if you want to).

Talking of running events, have you considered setting up a Storytelling club or monthly storytelling gathering? Again, members of our charity can expect our full support in promoting such an event and the Society for Storytelling has guidance on Organising a Storytelling Club.

After all, we are wired for stories, says Lisa Cron.

Have you considered storytelling?