Backstory & prologues

I had a long, unfruitful discussion with a potential client about a touchy subject—backstory. This person likes to write books in the old style where the author writes chapter after chapter setting the story up, building your characters and their world and then beginning the story. I tried to explain that is not really what readers want now, but they could not be dissuaded. While people like Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey got away with it, they did so because that was what the style was when they were writing. It does not work now. If you are going to write, you have to decide whether you prefer writing books to selling them.

Why do I say that? Let me explain. When you open a book, you are interested in what the story is about, who the characters are and the setting. But, you don’t necessarily want to meander through three chapters of taking a tour, hearing the local history and having coffee with the characters before the story begins. You want to get into the story straightaway. You want to meet, briefly, the chief characters and get introduced to their world and their struggle right away. If not, I can imagine you sitting, fidgeting and tapping your toe saying “get on with it!” When I writer takes that long setting the story up, I think they started their book at the wrong point. All the peaceful stuff that went on before the start of the story is fine as background. But, it is only that, background. I don’t really need to know all that stuff to begin with the story. Leave it for later. Tell me only when and if I need to know it to understand the story or the stakes for the characters.

Prologues are much the same thing. They, usually, take the reader back to a time before the story begins for some cogent piece of information. If the story does not rely on the reader knowing this information to get the plot or understand the world of the story, then the prologue is only delaying the start of the story. Leave it out.

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Self-Editing Tips and Tricks

Almost a year ago, I was privileged to attend the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. One of the sessions I attended was taught by Diana Savage. Her topic was Self-Editing Tips and Tricks. Here are my impressions from that session.

Diana Savage taught about Self-Editing Tips and Tricks. She has spent years as a writer and in the editing business, and I could tell that she was teaching from the heart of that experience. Some topics included:

  • Types of Editing.
  • Info on Copyright law
  • Style Manuals
  • Books on Grammar and Editing
  • Finding an editor

She emphasized the importance of using strong action verbs and avoiding the use of adverbs that end in -ly. Good advice. She also stressed the importance of using active rather than passive voice and careful proofreading. She also pointed out that the gold standard for dictionaries is the Merriam-Webster as is the Chicago Manual of Style for other things.

Both the Merriam-Webster and the Chicago Manual of Style are available in print and have online subscriptions as well.

My takeaway from this session was a reinforcement of the need for excellent editing. You can avoid a lot of editing issues by taking care while you write.

This year’s conference will be May 15-16, 2015. There is still time to register and attend. Here is a link.

Bound to Build Content

5 Brilliant Can’t Miss Details Tell You How To Write an Ebook

Guest Posted By Jan Verhoeff
Building content for an eBook is quite an experience. Any writer who has pulled information for writing one will agree, the topic often changes through the process. The title starts out as something workable “Building a Business Online” and becomes quite weird “The Attributes of Budding Gestation on the Sea of Cyber-land”, all long before it becomes a feasible heading of “Learn How to Make Money Spewing Absurdities into the World of Blog-dom”.

Blogs and websites are built on content. eBooks written for internet distribution are often based on content that can be bound together in one unitized thought, given a specific heading called a title. To be honest, nothing in the eBook is new, different, or sublimely profound; it is simply packaged for simpler digestion and projection into a reliable returns.

So, what is content?

First Brilliant Detail: Content

Gathered from the experience of a person ego-tripping on Guru Status, the content of the average eBook is simply reconfigured facts, specifically arranged for dynamic impact on the reader, with intent to humor the readers emotional response system. If the first reader reaction is tears, most Guru’s go back to the drawing board and try again. However, in all honesty, a Guru with enough clout to write an eBook most probably has enough information to keep his reader in stitches trying to keep up with the power struggle going on in his own mind, as he strives to achieve greatness himself, while emulating a total stranger.

Second Brilliant Detail: Emotion

Since content is aimed at gaining a positive emotional response from the reader, the proponent of gaining that response would be words. Any average word Guru understands the importance of using words that inflict emotion on their reader. The intent is to bring the reader a near death experience of exquisite joy, dance along the suspenseful edge of pain, or engage them in an arousing game of romantic cat and mouse. Out objective through all of this of course is to ‘get the attention of the reader’.

Third Brilliant Detail: Projection

Once all those emotions are created, we have to bring the reader to the brink of experiencing them, and we call this projection. We project the emotions we want the reader to feel into their subliminal understanding and focus their concentration on our ultimate desire. Of course, our ultimate desire is that the reader should want to purchase whatever incredible opportunity we project onto their emotional response and make us money. Their titillating response to our emotional ploy becomes a necessity, and we must acquire their focus.

Forth Brilliant Detail: Titillation

How do you titillate a prospective buyer into purchasing a product they don’t need. You convince them. They say sex sells, so sell it baby. Give the prospect what they want a titillating omnipresent experience of unbelievable joy and they will buy. Draw them in with a tantalizing title that attracts their passions and turn them on with content that evokes an essential desire.

Fifth Brilliant Detail: Desire

When you reach that plateau where their dreams are fulfilled, all their goals are going to be met, and you’ve replaced their need for oxygen with the required resource of your eBook, they can no longer function without your product and their desire is immeasurable your job is done. The book is sold, and you’ve no other reason to focus on that book, you start all over with a new project, create a need, and focus deliberately on attracting the right kind of clients who need your product more than they need air to breath.

Bound your eBook in a cover that emits emotional appeal and drives prospective clients to the brink of suspenseful desire, awaiting the arrival of this download, and you’re off. The finish line is in sight! Go for the gold.

Go for the gold – build on your resources – Market Guru Jan Verhoeff can help you. http://www.freewebs.com/ebizblitz

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Writing Tips

How to Write Clear Concise Copy With a Flair For Style

Guest Posted By Jan Verhoeff

What’s your style? Perhaps you’re frivolous and like lots of color and accessories? If you’re writing and that’s the way you choose to write, you may have trouble getting your point across. But, that doesn’t have to mean you change your style. Just tweak your writing a bit and you’ll be fine.

Stick to the Point –

Here’s a great clue… Stick to the point of your article and your frivolous style will automatically be tamed to perfect clarity.

Spell Check –

Important. Don’t misspell important words, or unimportant words. They’re all important. Check and double check any synonyms to make sure you spelled the correct word.

Identify Key Topics and Sub-Topics –

Headers and sub-headers make your writing more readable and give the reader a place to rest their eyes while checking your topic. This is particularly important for long pieces.

Originality Counts –

Presenting your topic in a unique and different way tops the greatest NEW concept, because it gives more readers the option of understanding the same old data that has actually brought us to this place in time. Try new words to describe the same old concepts.

Understand Value –

How many times have you said, “I wish I knew…” Whatever it is, the topic probably wasn’t that far out in the wild blue yonder, but rather may have been something as simple and every day as how to tie shoes. Every piece of information has value, some more than others. Everything you have to say will ultimately be valuable to someone.

Someone I your audience is waiting for YOU to write what they need to know, and they will not understand it until they read what YOU say. Trust me, whatever it is you’ve been meant to write – there’s a reason.

Are you ready to put words on paper and write?
Go to http://acewriters.com and learn how you too can write for profit. The secret of writing for profit is truly no secret at all, anyone can do it and it’s easy to write for profit.
� 2009 – http://janverhoeff.com
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Welcome to Odd Sock Copy Editing & Proofreading.

Hi, my name is Steve Mathisen. I am a writer, copy editor and proofreader. Me I look for the odd socks. Those things that were missed, are out of place, or just don’t belong. I want to help you produce the highest quality book possible. I want to help you find and eliminate those pesky errors that can destroy the flow of your story and your reader’s enjoyment of your work. I want to be that essential set of eyes that critically examines your book after you (the writer) have done your own iterations of review, correction, and revision. As a proofreader, I will be that discriminating set of eyes, that reads with the reader in mind, and can catch things that the author or initial editor might have missed. Hopefully, the writer and editor will have missed nothing at all, but isn’t it better to have that extra step of checking in there prior to releasing it to readers? Here are some of the things I look for as a proofreader:

  • Typographical errors (including direction of curly quotation marks and apostrophes)
  • Misspelled words (including incorrect word usage)
  • Grammatical problems (including verb tenses and syntax)
  • Punctuation mistakes (including proper abbreviations and capitalization)
  • Inconsistent format (in font size/style for text/chapter headings/subheadings, lists, tables, page numbers, margins, spacing, indentations/paragraphs, quotes, references, citations, footnotes/endnotes, etc.)

As a copy editor, I will dig in to ferret out and fix any mistakes that will distract the reader from your story without changing your voice and in the most constructive way possible. I want to work with you to present your best work to the reading public. Here are some of the things I look for as a copy editor (Note: proofreading checks are included in copy editing):

  • Making sure material is logical and understandable
  • Correcting continuity problems
  • Making sure sources are cited for all statistics and quotations.
  • Flagging inaccuracies
  • Redundancies
  • Sentence clarity
  • Word choice
  • Maintenance of tone/voice

Please note that my preference is to work in Microsoft Word using Track Changes, but I have also worked from PDF documents making notes in a separate file noting page numbers and line numbers of the suggested corrections. A reader that runs into preventable errors in your book will result in bad reviews and lost sales. Let me help you avoid that.

From Author Julia Robb: “I’m so glad I hired Steve to proofread my books. He has a sharp and discerning eye.”

Here are the covers of Julia’s books that I worked on.

scalp_small-225x300 saint-of-the-burning-heart

From Author Liberty Speidel: “Steve’s knowledge of story and grammar make him an excellent resource as a last set of eyes. Not only is he willing to correct my errors, but he also takes my direction on things I want standard which may be a bit different than the norm for my series. He and I may disagree on whether the Oxford comma should or shouldn’t be used, but he’s willing to put that aside and let me have all the Oxford commas I want in my books. You couldn’t ask for a more professional and respectful individual as a proofreader!”

Here is the cover of Liberty’s book that I worked on:

capitulation cover

From Author Corey Popp: ” I sent my manuscript to Steve Mathisen for an unbiased, third-party proofreading. I found out about Steve from one of K.M. Weiland’s Facebook posts. For a very reasonable price, Steve provided me with a proofreading that caught some pretty critical mistakes in my manuscript.”

I have a degree in geography from the University of Washington but have spent most of the last twenty-five years testing software.  In that role, I was often the last set of eyes on a program before it was released to the users it was developed for. I took that job very seriously and I take this job seriously too.

My own writing appears in three published books. I know how important it is to have your best work out there. Let me help you be your very best.

Contact me at scmathisen_writer@live.com, leave a message here or see me on Facebook, and let’s get you on the schedule.

My rates are as follows: (Note: All rates include a free double-check against my recommendations once the corrections have been made.)

  • $1.25 per page for Fiction Proofreading and $1.50 per page for Nonfiction Proofreading.
  • $2.00 per page for Fiction Copyediting and $2.25 per page for Nonfiction Copyediting.

Half payment is due in advance of the scheduled start date with the balance due upon completion. I can accept payment via PayPal (preferred), check or money order. Ask me about a free first chapter sample copyedit or proofread. Many of my clients hired me after their free sample chapter.

I count KM Weiland, Lia London, Liberty Speidel, Terri L Main, Julia Robb and Corey Popp among my references.

I am a member of The Christian PENNorthwest Christian Writers Association, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

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