Category Archives: Guests

Guest Post: Becoming Your POV Character by Marcy Kennedy

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Guest Post: Becoming Your POV Character by Marcy Kennedy

Thank you to Writers in the Storm and to Marcy Kennedy for this article.

One of the most common writing challenges is avoiding point-of-view errors. It doesn’t seem to matter where we are along the writing path—from newbie to multi-published—point-of-view errors crop up like many-headed hydra. Just when we think we’ve got them all, there’s another head coming around to bite us from behind.

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When we start out writing, we’re most likely to head-hop, but as we understand point of view better, head-hopping usually disappears. The point-of-view errors we start to make are sneakier, harder for us to see in our own writing.

These POV errors happen any time we’re in a limited point of view—where we’re supposed to stay inside one viewpoint character at a time—and we write something that our viewpoint character couldn’t know, wouldn’t have experienced, or wouldn’t be thinking about. (My friend Jami Gold, who shared her excellent NaNoWriMo tips here earlier this week, calls them out-of-POV phrases. That’s a great way to describe them.)

So how do we avoid them?

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We become the point-of-view character.

That might sound simplistic, but if we actually embrace this, we won’t have point-of-view errors in our book. Let’s look at what it means if we think about our point-of-view character in terms of ourselves.

We know our own thoughts and feelings, but we don’t know anyone else’s.

I can’t know what anyone else is thinking, or even if they’re thinking about anything at all. I can’t know how someone else is feeling. They might be smiling on the outside and in agony on the inside. Or the scowl I interpret as anger toward me might simply be gas pains.

I also can’t know why someone does an action. I can’t know if they turned toward me because they heard me enter the room, because they caught a glimpse from the corner of their eye, or because they were going to turn that direction anyway.

So, if we have a female POV character, and we write something like this…

Bob grabbed the signed baseball, angry she’d moved it from the shelf.

We’ve created a POV error. She can’t know Bob is feeling angry or what the source of his anger is.

Understanding that our point-of-view character is just like us in that their perception is limited to their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations is foundational to avoiding point-of-view errors. We can only write what our point-of-view character knows. If they’re making a guess or interpreting based on the evidence they see, then we need to make it clear through internal dialogue how they’ve reached their conclusion.

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

We can’t sense things outside of our sight, earshot, or smell range, and we can’t experience things before they happen.

Sounds obvious, right? But sometimes we forget to think about how we perceive the world around us.

I can’t see something that’s happening behind me or that’s happening when my eyes are closed. If I don’t notice something happening, I can’t tell you about it. I can’t normally see my own face.

I don’t know what my future holds, and I can’t experience something before it actually happens (including the tone of voice someone else will use when they speak).

So if our point-of-view character can’t see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it at that moment, we can’t include it. If we do, it’s a point-of-view error. I’ll give you a quick example for this one. Let’s say our viewpoint character is Andrea.

POV Error: Andrea’s face turned red.

Andrea can’t see her own face. This is from the perspective of someone looking at Andrea, but if we are Andrea, we don’t experience it this way.

What We Experience As Andrea: Heat rushed up her neck and into her cheeks.

If we’re Andrea, we experience it from the inside—what we feel.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: “The Hand of God” by Auguste Rodin from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for this article.

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“The Hand of God” by Auguste Rodin

“The Hand of God” was modeled by Auguste Rodin and attempts to compare the art of sculpture to the divine process of creation. A right hand, emerging from the earth, holds a lump of clay from which two struggling emergent figures, Adam and Eve, have been modeled.

The work presents Adam and Eve entwined in a fetal position and emerging from a lump of earth cradled in God’s hand. Rodin said,

 “When God created the world, it is modelling, he must have thought …”  

In this sculpture, Rodin depicts this metaphor of God’s hand cradles the material from which male and female emerge.

To continue reading the article, click here.

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Guest Post: Skill vs. Talent–Which do you have? by Ryan Lanz

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Guest Post: Skill vs. Talent–Which do you have? by Ryan Lanz

A big ARHtistic License thank you to Ryan Lanz for this article. Skill vs. Talent–Which do you have? first appeared on Lanz’s website, A Writer’s Path.

  • tal·ent [tal-uhnt] noun: a special natural ability or aptitude.
  • skill [skil] noun: the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well.

What if you don’t have natural talent? Does that mean you may as well give up?

woman typing writing programming

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

It’s not quite the chicken or the egg debate, but it’s up there. I’ve heard people go in circles about which comes first and which is necessary. At what combination of both does one continue the grind and attempt at success? I’d be surprised if you haven’t asked yourself that question. It’s a part of being human.

What does each really mean?
This comes from the university of my opinion, but I would describe talent as the natural ability that needs little to no refinement, and skill is the unnatural ability that you have to develop. For those of us who’ve played sports (myself excluded), I’m sure you’ve all encountered someone who strides onto the field and makes it all look so darn effortless.

This person hardly shows up to practice, and you have a fairly good idea that it took hardly any effort to accomplish. Same with the person who aced every test in college with little preparation, leaving you in study hall time after time with a bucket of coffee. You must have missed at least three parties because you had to cram for the Calculus exam, right?

To continue reading this article, click here.

 

Guest Post: Overcoming Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription by Jason Kincaid

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Thank you to Jason Kincaid from Descript for the following article:

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If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.

If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.

Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.

Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.

But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.

I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).

Part I: Extraction

Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.
  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.
  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.
  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.
  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.

Part II: Transcription

Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️

A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.

Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.

Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).

A few more tips:

  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is… @#*! where was I?”)
  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.
  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.
  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.
  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.

The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.

But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article is originally published by Descript.

Guest Post: How to Use Medium to Share Your Writing and Grow Your Email List by Nicole Bianchi

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Guest Post: How to Use Medium to Share Your Writing and Grow Your Email List by Nicole Bianchi

Thank you to Nicole Bianchi for this excellent article about utilizing Medium. 

 


Want to connect with other writers? Make sure to get your invitation to my private writing community on Facebook!

As a writer, you’re probably seeking more exposure for your work. What if I told you there was a website where you could publish your writing and tap into a potential audience of 30,000 people per month?

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Enter Medium. A blogging and publishing platform developed by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, it’s a fantastic place to share new articles or republish old blog posts and reach more readers.

However, there are several steps you need to take in order to get your writing in front of Medium’s audience. When I first tried posting on Medium back in March 2016, my posts received very little views and interaction. Feeling discouraged, I stopped posting.

But in November a friend encouraged me to try posting again. One of her posts had gone viral on the platform and brought her several hundred new email subscribers. She advised that I try submitting to Medium publications. These publications are like magazines that exist inside the Medium platform and curate articles around specific topics.

I followed my friend’s advice, and the results were amazing. My Medium following grew from around 200 people to 1,800. Three of my posts ended up becoming trending articles in a publication and as of today have received over twenty-five thousand views. Another was featured on the Medium homepage.

Best of all, Medium drove traffic back to my website. Over the past three months, 550+ new subscribers have joined my email list with most of those subscribers coming directly from Medium.

Today, I’m going to share with you how to set up an account and all of the strategies I’ve used to turn Medium readers into subscribers.

How to Get Started on Medium

Step 1 – Set up a Medium Account

To get started on Medium, you’ll first need to create an account.

You can sign-up with your email address or with a Twitter, Facebook, or Google account. I recommend signing up with your Twitter account if you have one. Any of your Twitter followers who are also on Medium will automatically appear as Medium followers too.

Medium will also ask you to select your interests and will suggest people for you to follow. Make sure to pick the topics that you will be writing about. Medium will display articles related to those topics in your homepage feed, and you’ll be able to see the types of articles that are performing well.

Step 2 – Edit Your Profile

Now it’s time to edit your profile. (Click on the avatar at the top right-hand corner of the page to find your profile. Choose “profile” from the drop-down menu.)

Here’s a screenshot of my current profile:

Use a photo of yourself for the profile picture. This will give your account more authority and establish trust with your readers. I recommend uploading the same photo that you use on your other social media accounts so your followers will immediately recognize you if they follow you elsewhere on the web.

Finally, make sure to include a prominent link to your website or to your email list sign-up form.

Step 3 – Write Your First Story

To start writing your first post, you can click on “Write a Story” in the menu bar or choose “New Story” from the drop-down menu.

If you’re republishing a post from your blog, just copy and paste it and make the necessary formatting edits.

Alternatively, you have the option to import a post directly from your blog. However, I’ve had problems in the past where a post I imported displayed the date I first published it on the blog and not on Medium. This meant that it did not show up as a new story in readers’ feeds. I recommend just creating a new story and copying and pasting your blog post into the Medium editor.

The title, subtitle, and lead picture are extremely important for getting people to click on your article.

A constant stream of articles floods readers’ homepage feeds. The only way yours will stand out is if the title and picture catch readers’ eyes. For example, here’s how one of my posts would show up on a reader’s homepage:

The picture makes the story stand out, the title is intriguing, and the subtitle further explains what the title is about without giving too much away.

I’ve tried not including subtitles on posts, but I’ve found that the articles usually do not perform as well.

Read my post here for tips on how to write compelling headlines and more suggestions on how to format the body of your Medium post. You can find free stock photos to use as lead pictures at Pixabay and Unsplash.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: Craft an Exceptional Elevator Pitch by Penny Sansevieri

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Thank you to Penny Sansevieri for this wonderful article, first published on Writers in the Storm.

ElevatorsWhat is an elevator pitch and why do you need one?

An elevator pitch is a short one- to two-sentence description about the book. It’s the briefest of the briefest descriptions you can develop. The reason elevator pitches are important is that we have an ever- shrinking attention span, so you need to capture someone’s attention in a very short, succinct pitch.

How do you begin crafting an elevator pitch?

The first step is to look at the core of your book. What is your book about, really? Looking at the core of your book will help you determine the primary message. The next step is to look at the real benefits to the reader. Not what you think the reader wants to know but what they actually need: What’s in it for the reader?

When I worked with people on elevator pitches, I found that they often kept the best sentence for last. This comes from being an author and saving the crescendo of the story until the final chapter. You don’t want to do that in an elevator pitch. You want to lead with the tease that will pull the reader in.

When would you use an elevator pitch? You might use it to promote yourself to the media, to book a speaking event, or to pitch a blogger. Elevator pitches can be used for a number of reasons and in a variety of ways. Once you create a great elevator pitch, you may find yourself using it over and over again. That’s a good thing!

Components of a great elevator pitch

 All elevator pitches have particular relevance to them, but for the most part, every elevator pitch must:

  • Have emotional appeal
  • Be helpful
  • Be insightful
  • Be timely
  • Matter to your reader!

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: “The Story of Lucretia” by Sandro Botticelli from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for giving us the historical background of this painting.

 

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“The Story of Lucretia” by Sandro Botticelli

“The Story of Lucretia” by Sandro Botticelli is a tempera and oil painting on wood, painted between 1496 and 1504 during the Italian Renaissance. The subject of this painting is the legend of at Lucretia, a noblewoman, who was raped by the son of the king of Rome, Sextus Tarquinius. Lucretia, believing that the rape dishonoured her and her family, committed suicide by stabbing herself with a dagger after telling of what had befallen her.

According to legend, Brutus grabbed the dagger from Lucretia’s breast after her death and immediately shouted for the overthrow of the King. Lucius Junius Brutus took an oath to expel the King Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, from Rome and never to allow anyone else to reign again as King. This revolt against tyranny, made Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome.

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In the centre of the painting is Lucretia with the dagger with which she killed herself protruding from her breast. She is on public display as a heroine, and Brutus stands on the base of the column urging the citizens of Rome to revolt. The scene on the left porch is showing Sextus threatening Lucretia with sexual violence. The scene on the right porch shows the death of Lucretia.

The statue at the top of the column is David and Goliath’s head.  “David and Goliath” were a symbol of revolt against tyranny in the Republic of Florence. Lucretia had called for vengeance which Brutus turned into a revolution to end the monarchy. Before the establishment of the Roman Republic, Rome had been ruled by kings. Brutus led the revolt that overthrew the last king.

Many years later, one of the leading assassins of Julius Caesar was a descendant of Lucius Junius Brutus. The primary charge of the plotters against Julius Caesar was that Julius Caesar was attempting to make himself a king. Thus a leading conspirator Cassius, enticed Brutus’ direct descendant, Marcus Junius Brutus, a leading Roman senator to join the conspiracy by referring to his ancestor’s role in deposing the last king of Rome.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

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