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Cara Cilento

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  1. So you got inspired to write another novel. Maybe it was just a title and a concept. Like maybe you were drifting through a grocery store and saw a person mopping up a spill in aisle four, but like you, no one could figure out how the spill happened. Suddenly, it hits you, a story about a prankster child with telekinesis sitting in a grocery cart; but as you write it, it ages into a novel about a lonely teen gamer who plays out a fantasy world in his parent's basement. But it’s not quite coming together... So the self-doubt and all the questions ‌creep in. Did I write enough? Too much? Where am I going with this? Then you ‌bang your head against the wall and throw your hands up in the air, defeated. You throw it in a drawer never to see the light of day. Heather Webb asks you to look at your own writing process. Enjoy! https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/16903-your-writing-process-says-you’re-a-failure/#comment-25118
  2. My wife is a paranormal investigator and works for a company that runs ghost hunting events... The last three weeks have been interesting for sure. I took my kids on vacation, which resulted in me taking a vacation from writing. I enjoyed being unplugged from my keyboard and so did my kids. In this newly found freedom from the keyboard, my wife approached me with, “Hey, I need some help at work. Do you want to come?” My wife is a paranormal investigator and works for a company that runs ghost hunting events. I have gone with her before but this time it felt different. My creative juices started to flow. So, we left to first stay at an abandoned asylum and then at a historical landmark on the East Coast. For those of us who have experienced an unusual or paranormal experience, we may have contradictory feelings about whether or not we should tell other people about it or whether or not we should keep it to ourselves. It may be quite cathartic to share your tale, and many individuals have found that writing about their experiences with the supernatural inspires amazement and intrigue in readers who like reading about the paranormal. To explain a supernatural experience, however, requires more than just asserting that the doll moved on its own, as some people have done. In order for your audience to follow along and be attracted by what you have to say, you will need to structure your account like a tale with a beginning, middle, and ending. In the case that these occurrences did in fact take place, the task at hand is best approached in the manner of a memoir, which requires creative skill. In light of this, the following are some pointers for writing about genuine paranormal experiences: 1. The tone and the atmosphere There is a strong emphasis on atmosphere in scary stories. Even while some supernatural tales may have comedic or humorous parts woven into them, the general tone and atmosphere of the story should be solemn in order to have the creepiest possible impact. Your narrative should be filled with an eerie, bizarre, and terrifying atmosphere, but it shouldn't be so dramatic that the events come across as funny, disruptive, or incomprehensible. There is a very thin line that separates campy from creepy. It is helpful to read your tale out loud in order to get a sense of where your writing is taking you. A compelling tale is one that is bizarre yet realistic. 2. Exhibit and explain The piece of advice "show, don't tell" is perhaps one of the most poorly phrased pieces of guidance given to writers. A more useful piece of guidance would be to "primarily show, but tell sometimes." This is especially important to keep in mind while writing about interactions with the otherworldly. When should one give a description, and when should one show? Please fill us in on what transpired. When discussing the real supernatural occurrence, be sure to provide specific facts. It is not necessary to use metaphors or other flowery language in this context. Keep your statements simple and to the point. These parts of your tale shouldn't leave anyone scratching their heads. Describe to us how you were feeling. Although the presentation of your information must never be muddled, it is OK for you to be confused. Perhaps not all of your readers have had experiences with the supernatural, but all of us have felt things like fear, rage, loneliness, despair, and so on. Because of this, it is essential to incorporate a human dimension. It's possible that the reader would never believe in what terrified you, but if you can convince them that you were afraid, then you've already achieved your goal. 3. Use all five senses You are familiar with the five senses: touch, smell, sound, and taste. These five senses are essential. Use them. The more you do, the more genuine and interesting your work will appear to the reader. The use of the senses is very effective when describing a location, establishing an atmosphere, providing information to the reader, or demonstrating to the audience how you feel about something. So, explain how the temperature dropped or raised, talk about the tapping in the walls, describe the shadow or the orbs slinking around the room, the lavender perfume in the master bedroom, or the strange taste that you get when you inhale the dust kicked up from your feet. 4. When you get to the scary part, slow down. Take some time to reflect on your experience. Write down if there is a significant emotion attached to it. When writing about real-life paranormal encounters, do not simply describe how inanimate objects moved on their own without mentioning anything else. Describe the situation...all of it. So, there you have it. My four tips for writing about a paranormal experience from a person that has had paranormal experiences. Please add that sense of reality to your tales. I know it is so much simpler to suspend one's disbelief in a narrative that took place on the other side of the world but once you have that experience, the other side isn’t that far away.
  3. As writers, we all know the tried and true formula for building protagonists. We also know that the story is driven by choices the protagonist makes and the consequences. But how does the protagonist make those decisions? How do you depict the internal struggle of choice? It is important for readers to not only recognize these transformations but also understand how the story's events affect the characters. The writer must make the implicit explicit, otherwise the reader cannot infer character traits or recognize a character's growth across a story. Readers must be aware of the underlying reasons why characters change. Of course, there is a formula for that as well, but it is not without fault. David Corbett goes into detail in his article below. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/16744-emma-vs-hamlet-two-approaches-to-dramatizing-character-change/#comment-24958
  4. A villain, or as writers say, the antagonist, has goals and actions which challenge the protagonist, the hero. Together, the hero and the villain drive the storyline. A villain, unlike a hero, is frequently driven by a desire to perform acts of cruelty and depravity. They are the story's hostile force, challenging your hero and creating the tension. But what does it take to make a great villain? Most great villains have a set of features. First, a villain must have a strong bond with the hero. Their innate antagonism to them aids in the development of the hero's character. Second, every villain must have his own set of morals. If a villain in your novel spends a significant amount of time killing people, you must offer him or her plausible motives for doing so. Make the reader realize what desperation or belief has brought him to this point. After all, every villain considers himself to be the protagonist of their own tale. Third, a villain must be a worthy adversary. Your hero's nemesis should be a formidable and deserving foe. They shouldn't be too weak to be defeated, nor should they be too powerful to be defeated only by chance. Fourth, the villain must have an intriguing backstory. A good villain should have a compelling and plausible history. A memorable past helps us to relate with and even sympathize with the evil, in addition to generating a deeper and more three-dimensional adversary. Lastly, villains should be entertaining. Let's face it: our favorite villains have attributes that we love to despise, whether it's their dark sense of humor or their loathsome worldview. In his article, How To Write an Effective Villain, Michael Neff explains it all. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/18113-how-to-write-an-effective-villain/#comment-26340
  5. When writing your manuscript, you are supposed to write it in chronological sequence, right? The events of the narrative are retold in the sequence in which they occurred in the story. We trace the cause and effect of each event and the results of each event until we get to an endpoint that leaves the reader satisfied. But what if you want to modify the timeline of a narrative and retell the events in a different order than they occurred in the original story? Hmmm…a nonlinear timeline? Preposterous! But there are a variety of reasons why a writer can choose to narrate a narrative out of chronological sequence. Let’s look at them. Nonlinear timelines show character growth. Because of the contrast between many individuals, the nonlinear narrative has been employed to illustrate character development and progress. Nonlinear timelines show a stream of consciousness. The ideas of the protagonist are communicated directly to the reader without the need for extra commentary. It's as if you're able to read the character's thoughts. Because the characters cycle between memories in their minds and also address what is occurring to them in the present, this contributes to the nonlinear storyline of the novel. Putting the reader straight into the head of a character helps the reader develop a deep sense of empathy for that person. Nonlinear timelines present questions in the mind of your reader. If done well, it will keep them interested with your story for the rest of the chapter. Because they move about in time, nonlinear narratives can generate story problems by demonstrating the result of a cause that the audience hasn't yet witnessed. So how do we write these nonlinear timelines? I present to you Sarah Zachrich Zeng. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/19380-how-to-write-a-novel-with-a-mind-bendingly-complex-nonlinear-timeline/#comment-27550
  6. "Third-person point of view" refers to the way we describe events in a work of fiction or nonfiction through the use of third-person pronouns such as "he," "she," and "them." Third-person point of view may be divided into categories: 1. Third-person objective: The facts of a story are conveyed by an observer or recorder who seems to be unbiased and impersonal in his or her reporting. 2. An omniscient third-person narrator not only provides the facts, but he or she may also interpret them and describe the thoughts and feelings of the characters. 3. A narrator who provides the facts and analyzes events from the perspective of a single character is referred to as third-person limited. 4. The use of a "multiple" or "variable" third-person point of view, in which the viewpoint switches from one character to another during a narrative. In the article: Four Levels of Third person POV, Michael Neff presents to you four levels of third person. They are: The Author-POV or APOV, refers to the author, the detached or "omniscient narrator" who steps in now and then to set the scene or make artful commentary at the right time (just *please* don't address the reader directly because that is so irritating and breaks the reader's immersion into the fictional dream). 3POV Distant or 3POV-D occurs at such time the narrative focuses on specific characters and we watch their actions like a live camera actively filming them. 3POV Close or 3POV-C takes us into the character's head and camera viewpoint shifts to the character, i.e., we see or experience, for the most part, only what the character is viewing or experiencing. 3POV First-Close or 3POV-FC dives deeper into the character's head and effectively mimics first person POV, but naturally without the usual limits of first person POV because the author can cut from the 3POV-FC and pull all the way back to APOV. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/15644-four-levels-of-third-person-pov/#comment-23937
  7. Recently, I wrote about log lines. Remember those? The one to two sentence summaries that draws the reader in and describes the major tension of the tale? I’m sure you do and if you are like me and the rest of the writers out there you know that the finest loglines stand out, grab our attention, and are brief. I am placing emphasis on brief because it’s the most significant portion. Why? Because, it's crucial to focus on the key elements that make your characters and story unique. Not only that, but since your story only exists in your mind’s eye, you must set up the goal and how your character will achieve it. Did I mention you should do it in two sentences? Check out this post by Sue Bradford Evans on the long and short of it. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/16009-athe-logline-short-and-agonizing/#comment-24377
  8. With the seasons changing, I have started to emerge from my winter routine and return to my porch sitting and coffee drinking in the mornings. This morning there was a fox in my yard. He was happily frolicking until he saw a bunny. Then, to my surprise, he played with the bunny. I thought to myself that the bunny would surely hop away, but it didn’t. I thought he would run under the eight-foot monstrous fence my neighbor put up to keep the fox, deer, and other woodland creatures out, but he didn’t. Instead, it stood there, while the fox swatted it and sniffed it. He was passive about the entire situation and resided on whatever was to happen would happen. There was no active engagement, there was no reaction, nothing. I was confused and so was the fox. The more he tried to swat and bounce, the less the bunny did. It was amazing for sure. So, where am I going with this? We have all encountered the problem of a passive protagonist at some time in our lives, whether we are aware of it, or it is pointed out to us by a beta reader or an editing professional. But is your protagonist actually passive? And if your protagonist is, then what is wrong with that? Here are two fantastic reads on passive protagonists. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/20166-seeking-vs-suffering-the-secret-of-passive-protagonists/#comment-28422 https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/19906-active-protagonists-are-a-tool-of-the-patriarchy/#comment-28145
  9. If one of your objectives is to begin submitting your masterpiece to the marketplace, you'll come across terms like "hook," "logline," and "pitch" along the way. The terminology originates in the film business, but we use them in the book industry as well. So, what are they? Are they're catchy phrases for a synopsis? No, not at all. Although the lines between the two are frequently blurred, these are the fundamentals: LOGLINE is a concept that was traditionally reserved for scripts, but has recently begun to make its way into the literary realm. It comprises of one or two phrases stating the story's premise. That's it. Short sweet and to the point. A HOOK, on the other hand, is longer. It is usually a paragraph or two that introduces the characters, the idea, and the conflict, similar to the blurb on the back of a book jacket. When submitting a query letter to an agent, editor, or reviewer, the hook should be the most important part of the letter. Here to help you right outstanding hooks or log lines, is Michael Neff. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/15606-loglines-and-hooks-with-core-wounds/#comment-23899
  10. The final step towards obtaining literary representation is – you guessed it – obtaining literary representation. Once you've completed your writing project and wrote up your query letter, the next step is to seek the elusive agent. Querying agents is when you send an email with your pitch to the people you believe will be the best representatives of your work to the publishing industry. The procedure should not be nearly as intimidating as writing the manuscript itself – but it does not imply that you should rush through it without giving it careful consideration. Initial impressions are extremely important, and the agent querying procedure is the greatest illustration of this. You must be eloquent, succinct, and persuasive, not to mention completely on top of your game, when it comes to who you select to contact, how you address them, and how you come across in your email correspondence. When you start sending out emails, it's critical that you pay attention to the details. A minor grammatical error could mean the difference between your dream agent opening the word document containing your work of art and them simply passing it by without even looking. But no pressure, right? Here are three tips to get you started! https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/19624-3-things-to-remember-when-you-query/#comment-27817
  11. Last week I talked about a book pre-launch and some of the recommended steps for making it a success. So, let's have a look at a few ideas for putting together a public book reading that will truly impress your audience, so when it comes time for the reading, not only will you be well-prepared and find it more pleasurable, but you will also be able to really shine! https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/19691-event-tips-n’-tricks-for-the-vain-shallow-andor-insecure/#comment-27894
  12. Whatever year it is, what's going on in the world, or what the latest marketing fad is, your book launch has just one genuine goal: to sell books. The goal of your book launch is to reach the readers who will gain the most from it. Why? Because those are the people who will be interested. They'll be the ones talking about it, reviewing it, and sharing it. Those readers are crucial in ensuring that your work receives the attention it deserves. Cool new marketing tricks and sponsored advertising have their place, but the best—and most effective—promotion you can ask for is word-of-mouth advertising from your own readers. That's why the most successful book launches focus on the readers who will benefit the most from the book while ignoring the others. In reality, the whole book launch, including the months preceding up to it, is about serving your book by attempting to reach a critical mass among your target demographic in order to generate word-of-mouth promotion. If you succeed in this, the formula will shift after the launch, and your book will begin to serve you. It will cause others to talk about you and contact you. They'll see that you're the right person for the job. That's why the work you put into a book launch is so important: it ensures your success and that of your book. Therefore, the pre-launch is just as important, if not more important, than the actual launch. I hope you find these tips helpful. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/18772-a-pre-launch-playbook-for-debut-authors/#comment-26940
  13. I am not a football fan. I don’t understand it. To me, it looks like a bunch of people mottled together on a field chasing a brown fly. I am not like that with all sports. I am an avid wrestling and MMA fan, but football never spoke to me the way wrestling and MMA did. So while other people are preparing platters, trays, and snacks for parties, I am typing away honing my thoughts on why I never joined in the football fanaticism. Much like authorship, I realized that it had to do with how I perceive individualization and relevance. As authors, we strive for both. We want our unique voice and to persevere over time, just like wrestling and the martial arts have. So how do we, as authors and creators, do that? Well, maybe the answer will be in the half-time show that features hip-hop legends that made us bounce our heads in the 80s and have our kids doing the same today. We want our masterwork to be just as significant in ten years as it is now. If we're being honest, we want to think that our hard hours of research, writing, rewriting, blood, sweat, and tears will outlast us and continue to fly off bookstore shelves long after our great-grandchildren have passed away. But will it as time marches on? One way is to change with the times and write for the visual age and if you are already writing screenplays adapt to a novel. Think of it as two sides of the same coin, since visual and written storytelling has become so intertwined. If you are toying with the idea of transitioning from screenplay to novel or novel to screenplay, here is a jumping-off point. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/15469-screenplay-into-novel-will-you-listen/#comment-23750 https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/21326-tell-dont-show/#comment-29646 https://screencraft.org/blog/five-differences-between-novels-and-screenplays/
  14. The construction of a romantic suspense book is key to keeping readers engaged. In a romance book, the protagonists' emotions, wants, doubts, and personalities are the building blocks of the love tale. Conversely, a suspense novel builds tension piece by piece by using facts, innuendo, atmosphere, and action. When you combine the two, you get a romantic suspense novel. Sounds easy,? Not so. The blending of the two must yield a multi-layered tale in which seemingly unrelated threads are intertwined, not just two storylines running parallel. Readers expect a romance novel to have a continuous, evolving relationship between the covers. Between the pages of a suspense story, we expect to find something unknown – a suspicion, a mystery, or a threat. Outside tension is therefore as important and its building must be as careful as that of emotional and sexual tension. But how do we do that? Here are some tips from Meg Tilly. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/19172-rules-for-writing-romantic-suspense/
  15. I was sitting at home during our Blizzard of 2022 in the Northeast channel surfing. I got bored of hearing the hazardous conditions, so I moved on. This time I found a channel talking about hazardous conditions that affect writers, readers, and society in general. The surge of book banning for objectionable content. It appears that people abandoned their pretensions to be protectors of free speech in the wake of the rush to suppress “alternative agendas”. It was startling. Further, most people interviewed in the segment felt that some required school reading was part of a bigger campaign against them meant to degrade their child’s moral fabric. I was blown away. Now, this is not to say that some parental shock isn’t understandable, but as being an educator for over twenty-five years, parents can opt-out of reading material they feel objectionable. It appears that the reverence of free speech has fallen out of favor and this increasing moral panic underscores the need for protections of the First Amendment. In its absence, the question of who has the right to speak becomes merely a question of power. Which brings me to my next thought….self-censorship and the author. Some authors may become more mindful about what they say as a result of their concern about receiving unfavorable reactions to their books. The phrase I have heard most from colleagues has been “They told me it was not authentic” as it relates to the author writing from a perspective of a character they do not share life experiences with. Ironically, I have been told that as well… from an agent who was straight, in their twenties, and commenting on my manuscript about an Italian-American woman coming out in the 1990s. I guarantee you, the book was authentic. I lived it. So, then what is the definition of authentic, and who defines it? The writer? The author? The audience? The First Amendment means that authors should be able to write anything they think is worthy of writing, even if it defies society's established norms or guidelines with the stipulation that the writer must commit due diligence and research into the topic they are writing about. In his article,Flights of Self-Censorship, Porter Anderson discusses the quandary of self-censorship. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/19523-flights-of-self-censorship/#comment-27709
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