The Roles of Secondary Characters – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Ellen Buikema

Secondary characters add depth and interest to the world your main character inhabits, helping to make the tale more memorable. They play a significant role in your story, but aren’t necessarily integral to the plot. These characters may be protagonists or antagonists of their own subplots.

Strong secondary characters reveal more about your primary character by, motivating, creating stumbling blocks, or helping define the setting by use of cultural clues. He or she may goad the protagonist into doing something out of character to the benefit or detriment of either of them.

These ancillary characters may become more popular than your protagonists. This happened to me in my children’s chapter books as Frankie, Charlie Chameleon’s obnoxious pet fish, became the favorite of many readers, adults as well as children. There is something about Frankie, maybe his naughtiness, that makes him relatable.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Value of Becoming – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Karen DeBonis

I’ll soon have my second Covid vaccine, and I’m already making my TJ Maxx shopping list, planning lunch dates with equally-immunized friends, and looking at flights to…anywhere. One thing I dread about venturing out in the world again, though, is running into acquaintances who may ask, “So, how’s that book coming along?”

Perhaps I had run into these casual friends in pre-Covid days when I declared my manuscript accomplit. Perhaps last year, they saw a social media post where I shared my excitement and trepidation about querying literary agents. Or, they might know me from 20 years ago, when I first started writing my memoir.

My short answer would be, “It’s coming along.” (For my long answer, keep reading.)

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Simple Writing Resolution that Changed My Career – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Jenny Hansen

A little over ten years ago, I wrote a post that changed my trajectory as a writer. Writing this post literally pulled me back from that edge of giving up the thing I most love to do. It was January, 2011 and one simple resolution saved me. In these crazy pandemic times, I thought perhaps someone else could use the words of encouragement.

Some background on what was going on with me…

  • I’d just lived through the kind of pregnancy where the chance of everyone dying is incredibly real and I had a mild case of post-partum depression.
  • That baby I worked so hard for was about eight months old.
  • I was really really ill with what I realized later was an insane allergy to gluten.

You’ll read the rest in the post, but I was very much in danger of losing my writing. The details and the chaos of my life were pounding against my creativity, washing it away like waves on the sand, and I didn’t have the mental or physical resources to turn the tide.

Read the rest of post HERE.

Using Novel Writing Techniques in Your Memoir – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Ericka McIntyre

I’ve spent much of our Covid year learning about, editing, and writing my own memoir. Memoir is a form I think every writer should try to tackle at least once. Everyone has a story to tell. The exercise of writing a memoir can sharpen our memories and force us to write outside our comfort zones—always good practice for a writer at any level. If you want to craft a memoir that is truly a page-turner, you can and should use many of your fiction writing tricks.

First Things First: What a Memoir Is and Is Not

It is important to know what a memoir is and is not. A memoir is not your autobiography. A memoir is a slice of your life at a particular time, in a particular place. It is literally your memories put to paper. Some memoirs cover a year in a person’s life. Some memoirs cover several years. Think in terms of a season of your life, rather than a finite block of days on the calendar.

Many new memoirists hamstring themselves by feeling they need to tell their entire life stories, nose to tail, David Copperfield-style. You do not. A memoir focuses on a theme, on a particular red thread that has wound through your life thus far. It is not a full accounting of all your sins and wins!

Read the rest of this post HERE.

10 Ideas For Inspiring Your Writing with Music – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Ellen Buikema

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

– Plato

Music, the art of sound through the use of rhythm, harmonies, and melodies, is food for the soul—divine, effective, mathematical – the science of sound. Its language is universal.

A tuneful writing exercise

Music has the ability to spark our imaginations. Here’s how to channel that muse into inspiration for your writing. Turn on a tune that you love and listen carefully.

  • Where does the music take you?
  • What memory does the music send you to?
  • How does the music make you feel?
  • Now use that song to envision a character or setting.
  • Then take a few minutes and write what the song inspired in you.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

2 Ways to Help Readers Connect Emotionally With Your Characters – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Lisa Hall Wilson

When you begin to learn about Deep Point of View, one of the over-simplified “rules” that’s taught is to remove emotion words (hate, anxious, happy, sad, worried, etc.), but that leaves you with a BIGGER problem. How do you show the character’s emotions once you’ve removed the emotion words?

Emotions become the WHY for everything your character thinks, says, and does, so if you’re getting feedback that readers can’t connect with your character, they don’t understand why your character thinks/says/does certain things – you might have either a WHY problem, or a GAP.

A Shift in Mindset

The goal of deep POV is to remove the writer/narrator voice and create an immersive emotional journey for the reader, where they are with the character in every scene and privy to every relevant thought and feeling. Every word on the page comes from within your character, you’re not telling a story about a character (as you are in limited third person).

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Virtual Book Tours – The Basics

by John Peragine

Next month my book Max and the Spice Thieves launches, and one of the main events, especially during the time of Covid, is a virtual book tour. The days of slogging a trunk full of books from bookstore to bookstore are far and few unless you are a celebrity. Traditional Publishing houses don’t pay for them like they used to, and the turn out at many events can be a little depressing.

Virtual book tours have taken up the slack and are growing in popularity. These virtual tours help an author get their book in front of the right people: book lovers. In addition, they are connecting to people who like books in the genre they write.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Some Guideposts for Switching Genres – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Eldred Bird

I write a lot of different kinds of short stories and flash fiction, but when it comes to novels, I’ve pretty much kept my train on the adventure/mystery track. It’s my comfort zone and the place I run to for longer works.

But I’m stepping out of my comfort zone with my latest work in progress. I’m taking on the challenge of a new-to-me genre.

When I say new-to-me, I don’t mean as a reader, but as a writer. I’ve read plenty of fantasies over the years and am currently reading a wonderful series by Northern Ireland author Stephen Black. As I eagerly await his third book (in edits as we speak), I figured it might be a good time to try my hand at the genre as well.

It has been a tremendous learning experience already.

4 Key Pieces of Advice

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Tips for Working With a Social Media Assistant – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Barbara Linn Probst

I hate social media. It’s an addictive rabbit-hole.

I just don’t have time. Social media takes away from my precious writing time.

I’m no good at creating those visuals and posts.

I’ve heard many authors—myself included—express our frustration and dismay at the expectation that we will not only produce wonderful books, but also carry out what amounts to a second full-time job as our own marketing team. Most of us don’t mind holding events, whether live or virtual, where we get to engage with readers. Nor do we mind interviews, written or recorded, where we can talk about our books and our writing process. But what so many of us do hate is the seemingly bottomless pit of social media engagement.

Facebook, with all those reader and writer groups. Instagram. Twitter. Pinterest.

“Likes” and “follows.” Comments and messages and shares.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone else could do all this for us?

Someone else can—for a price, and with a few caveats. Whether they call themselves virtual assistants, social media consultants, or author assistants, there are people who will manage your social media for you.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

When Illness Interrupts Your Writing – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Julie Glover

The last time I worked on my novel was…

I don’t know.

We don’t have time for me to tell you the whole story, but I turned up sick on October 9, 2020 and haven’t been back to my old self since. I’m better, but I have good days and bad days and too many doctor appointments as I work through what’s going on and how to treat my issues. (No, it’s not Covid.)

But whether it lasts days, months, or years, nearly every writer has had their plans interrupted by illness. How can you still make progress when you don’t feel well? Here are a few ways to keep moving forward.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking a break and caring for your health may seem like stagnation of your writing plans. However, it’s actually moving forward, because if you don’t care for yourself, you’ll get less done in the end.

At times, I’ve felt bad, tried to push through, and ended up spending three hours completing a task that would have taken an hour if I’d only waited until I felt better. I understand the frustration of wanting to get things done, but it’s vital to work smart when you don’t have full energy reserves.

Your best option may be to set your manuscript aside and spend time in the fresh air, grab a nap, or take an Epsom salt bath. Prioritize feeling better so that you’ll have the energy and focus to work on your book when you can.

Read the rest of this post HERE.