Saturday, November 14, 2009

Studying Human Behavior - L. Diane Wolfe

A story's characters and their interactions is the most important aspect in any book. In order to make them appear real to the reader, the actions and motives of the characters must be believable. This is why the most important research a writer can ever conduct is the study of human behavior.

Fortunately, the options available are almost as plentiful as humans themselves! Consider the following resources when writing your story and you'll discover a whole world of opportunities.

Books on human behavior
· Personality Plus by Florence Littauer - excellent guide to human behaviors based on personality types
· Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus by John Gray
· The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
· Bringing out the Best in People/The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis
· The Disconnected Generation by Josh McDowell - great for understanding teen behavior
· And any other relationship, personality, or inspirational book that provides human behavior insights

Observation - how do real people react under similar circumstances?
· Follow the actions of a person similar to your character - remember, no stalking!
· Examine the past and present behavior of family and friends
· Observe humanity through the news - this will provide a worldly view
· Watch people in public places such as sporting events, restaurants, grocery stores, churches, etc.
· Wherever you find people, you'll find opportunities to study human behavior if you just take the time!

· Search for events in your story (online, in books, etc.) - you will discover a plethora of human reaction and behavior available
· Non-fiction books with accounts of people enduring the same challenges found in your story
· Websites devoted to the discussion of human behavior or dealing with an aspect of the human equation
· Online forums and live discussions - find discussions on your story's topics or pose the questions yourself
· Interview real people in positions or circumstances similar to your character's situation

Utilize as many of the tools listed as possible, and don't forget that human behavior is best studied through live interaction. Not only will you develop believable characters - you'll grow as a person as well. And you might just discover you enjoy the fascinating world of human behavior!

- Author & professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Writing Dialog - L. Diane Wolfe

Dialogue is a vital element in most any story. The verbal interaction of the characters reveals much about each person – past events, feelings, beliefs, intentions, etc. Since we cannot hear the characters speaking, we rely on printed dialogue for clues regarding intelligence, education level, and physical location. As we can see, authors must convey a tremendous amount of information with the spoken word!

Since writing dialogue can be a struggle, here’s a few tips to keep our character exchanges fresh:

1- Remember that most people do not speak proper English. (Or any language.) What we were taught in school might transfer well onto paper, but we don’t always employ those rules in our speech. Proper grammar states “Turn on the light,” but most people tend to say, “Turn the light on,” instead. We overuse words. Our participles dangle. We use past and present tense in the same sentence – sometimes twice!

If our character is a college professor or a man of higher learning, he will likely use proper grammar. However, the average person will be more lax with his verbal skill. Realize that it’s all right to let some rules fall by the wayside when writing dialogue. We are trying to relate to our readers, not impress our English teachers. Allow dialogue to flow freely and naturally.

2- Research the time period of the story for proper usage of words. Our languages changes almost as rapidly as technology, and those advances bring a whole slew of new words. Ten years ago, people did not use the word ‘texting,’ and twenty years ago, most did not even possess a cell phone.

It goes beyond breakthroughs in science, though. Slang words have evolved over time, and where and how often they were used has changed. Our spoken language has become more relaxed and many subjects no longer taboo. If our dialogue is to sound authentic, we must research the time period. Watch a movie or read a book that was created during that specific moment in time. Avoid current books and movies based on past decades, as they will not provide an accurate representation. If our story is set in the far past, we may have to conduct some creative research! However, the resulting dialogue will sound far more authentic and immerse our readers into the story.

3- Hand write all dialogue. Occasionally, the computer screen sabotages our creative efforts. As we type our thoughts, Mr. Spellcheck goes to work highlighting our mistakes. This can either distract us as we backspace to fix errors or inhibit us as we type slower to avoid such blunders. Either way, our creative flow is disrupted and realistic dialogue becomes more challenging.

By hand-writing scenes with extensive dialogue, we’ll find our words flow more freely. The pressure to write with perfection is eliminated, opening the door for more natural exchanges.

4- Speak the dialogue out loud and record the conversation. This is perhaps the most effective means by which to capture natural dialogue! Written lines can sound stiff and impersonal, but when we say those words aloud, the natural ebb and flow of conversation becomes apparent. It reveals awkward and unnecessary phrases. And the more we exhibit that character’s personality, the better we will hear how that person speaks in real life.

If this is a challenge to do solo, entice a friend or family member to help. A basic written outline of the dialogue can be used to guide the overall conversation. Allow that person the freedom to change the wording as he sees fit and bounce naturally off one another’s responses. An even more effective trick would be to video tape the entire scene to capture gentle nuances and gestures as well.

Good dialogue is essential if we are to connect with our readers. We must communicate our character’s voices clearly, accurately, and in a believable manner. Otherwise, we may find our readers offering a few choice words instead!

- Author & professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe

Copyright 2009 L. Diane Wolfe

Monday, June 29, 2009

Structuing Our Life - L. Diane Wolfe

Today, everyone is busy. Technological advancements, meant to make our life easier, tend to take away precious hours. Job and family commitments can multiply and eat us alive. Often there is precious little time remaining for our writing careers. To find a suitable balance, we must create structure in our lives.

Balance does not imply that every aspect receives and equal slice of the proverbial pie but rather adequate attention. Meeting one need may require ten minutes while another demands three hours. Before we begin slicing and doling out our time, we must first determine what components are truly important.

The best way to accomplish this task is to form a list. What do we value? What goals must be achieved? Consider the very basics first. Sleep and work (if we are employed) will take the greatest chunk of our day. Add family commitments to the list. If married, this includes our spouse! Don't forget household chores or omit physical activities or relaxation. Finally, list all aspects of writing, from creating to promoting.

Before we divide our valuable time, what can we eliminate? Do we need to curtail certain activities? Are there duties that can be passed along to someone else? Once our list has been reduced to manageable levels, we can divvy the hours, remembering that we only have twenty-four at our disposal.

Now that we understand what we'll do with our day, we need to determine when we'll accomplish each item on the list. While certain tasks remain unmovable, we should design our schedule to showcase our best side. Avoid regulating family to a time when we are exhausted or exercise to a slot we'll only ignore. Our writing time is no different, and whether it's the middle of the night or right after lunch, we should schedule it during our peak performance hours.

Ironically, there will be many days when we are unable to follow our carefully planned schedule. The life of an author can be quite chaotic at times! However, we need a base on which to build. It's easier to alter an existing schedule that to create a new one each day from scratch!

A calendar is an author necessity! It is the only means by which to keep track of commitments, both in the real and virtual world. Miss one or two appearances and we'll soon discover no one wants to book an irresponsible author! Setting two appointments for the same time slot is another disaster we want to avoid. A calendar will keep us on track and ensure we don't miss family or work commitments either.

Since each new day presents a different set of tasks, maintain a to-do list. This will prevent that unique item from slipping through the cracks and into oblivion. Compile the to-do list the night before and don't be afraid to write down future tasks for the days ahead. If we tackle the most important items first, then we know they will be completed. Interspersing a few five-minute projects throughout the list will speed our progress and buoy our sense of accomplishment in the process.

By now it's obvious that we need to establish a framework in all areas of our life. With structure, a schedule, and a to-do list, we are better prepared to complete our writer and author duties. We are more likely to write for two hours if we've designated a time and placed it on our list than if we simply intend to make the effort at some point. Through repetition, many tasks will become part of our daily routine. Once we've established a pattern, accomplishing our goals will be much easier!

Our greatest enemies at this point are distractions and time stealers. Situations will arise when a diversion momentarily derails our progress. Unless it's an emergency or has the potential to change our life forever, we shouldn't focus on distractions. Time stealers are much more subtle. Ten minutes on a social site turns into thirty; an email sends us on a frantic goose chase for an hour; a phone call eats up our entire afternoon. We must be on the lookout for distractions and mindless time stealers or they will consume all of our carefully laid plans.

Authors and writers exist in a unique world, one that can be quite chaotic at times. However, we are happier and more productive when there is balance and structure in our life. Designing a schedule that can be easily followed sets us up for greater success!

- Author & professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe
Copyright 2009 - L. Diane Wolfe

Monday, May 18, 2009


How do you create a sub-plot in novel?

One easy way is to write other chapters showing the different viewpoints of other characters or an alternative timeline of a memory of your main character. It is by these conventions that you can introduce new ideas that develop into new sub-plots.

Have you sub-plots work their way through the novel. The paths can cross at several times throughout. Sometimes, you sub-plot can take over as the main plot for time to time so that your reader will want to keep turning the page to see how all of these things come together in the end.

Be careful not to give too much away. You reader should not be able to put all of the pieces together until you, the author, want them to. Remember that the sub-plots should tie things up at the end or give way to a new route for a sequel if that is your goal.

If you have an old novel or a stalled one, take another look at it. See if a sub-plot could breathe new life into it. It may be that your new sub-plot could end up being a newly refreshed main plot you book desperately needed. You never know, until you try!

Copyright 2009 - Lynn Tincher

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Plotting - Lynn Tincher defines the term plot as this:

1. A secret plan or scheme to accomplish some purpose, esp. a hostile, unlawful, or evil purpose: a plot to overthrow the government.

2. Also called storyline.The plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.

Think of a plot as a roadmap to take your reader from the beginning of your story to the end. Nothing should happen at random. Every element should have significance and be purposeful. Each character has an agenda. We should be able to see why they care about the situation. The main plot of a story is the combination of the plots of its individual characters.

Each character has a personal agenda that changes based on the agendas of others. Foreshadowing is a great tool to lead your reader along the plot line. The trick is to put the plot into your story without the reader knowing about it or its importance. Remember that you are telling a story and stay on track with the story you're telling.

The protagonist must take charge of the story and its events eventually. They may be passive for a while, learning, scheming, and the like but they have to take charge. Every event, every thought, every happening must lend to the plot line and its characters development. Have fun with all of the devious little ways to coax and tease the reader along.

Copyright 2009 - Lynn Tincher

Monday, May 4, 2009

Character Interaction by Lynn Tincher

There are several ways that characters in you story can interact. Not only do they speak to each other, they exchange glances, or glares, hold hands, pat on the back, or punch each other in the face.

The important thing is to define your character. Create an outline on a separate piece of paper that will help guide you in the behavior of your character in different situations. Is your character hot headed? If so, keep that in mind when they run up against obstacles.

Dialog is a very important tool for character interaction. Wikipedia describes dialog as this: A dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog) is a conversation between two or more people. It is also a literary form in which two or more parties engage in a discussion. It is used to make a person feel like they are there listening to the conversation happen in person.

Venture out to your favorite restaurant or social gathering. Listen in. Yes, I'm telling you to eaves drop. If you don't want to keep notes, carry around a small recorder and tape the conversation around you. Study up on how people talk to each other, their inflections, stutters and pauses. This will help you construct dialog that flows well and is believable.

This is not all dialog does. It's a great way to give vital information. The inflection or vocabulary used can help define education, social standing, or belief systems of your character. Make sure that your dialog stays in character. If your character is uneducated, don't have him citing physics.

Be very careful when using "bookisms". For example, don't have your character sigh or yawn their way through every sentence they speak. Also you want to be careful using adverbs like John said angrily or Jane said warily.

Be aware that most characters do not use the person's name when speaking to someone.

"George, you ate all of your peas!"
"I did, Mom."
"I'm very proud of you, George."

Info-dumping is another technique to avoid. Characters are not going to tell each other everything they know. Rely on memories. Some information is necessary, but make sure to over using dialog to explain background details or recaps. This type of dialog can lose a reader. It seems false and lifeless.

Don't forget to use the word said. Said is a word that our brains see as invisible yet it lets the reader know who spoke. As with all of the others mentioned, do not overuse any of them in your writing. Use them in moderation. Rules are made to be broken but not demolished. A great piece of writing will include variations of everything mentioned above. Keep it interesting.

Copyright 2009 - Lynn Tincher

Monday, April 20, 2009

Finding Your Market - Lynn Tincher

Having trouble finding a market for something you have already written? Are you trying to figure out what market to write for? You may even be asking yourself, "What the heck is a market?"

OK, let's define what a market is first. The NetMBA center defines a market as: In marketing, the term market refers to the group of consumers or organizations that is interested in the product, has the resources to purchase the product, and is permitted by law and other regulations to acquire the product.

One of the keys to success is understanding yourself and what you write about. You need to understand what you are trying to accomplish with your writing. Also, who are the types of people you would like to reach. Once you have all of this determined, you can begin your research to find the areas to target.

Make friends and contacts in similar areas. By building a network, you will build credibility and get advice along the way.

Once you have your list of possibilities, you can begin the querying process. Stay positive. You will get turned down several times before something sticks. Believe in yourself and you'll make it!

Meanwhile, I found a fabulous article that is full if helpful information. Stop by and check it out.


Good luck!

Copyright 2009 - Lynn Tincher

Monday, April 13, 2009

Finding Our Voice by L. Diane Wolfe

Finding Our Voice

These words mean different things to different people. Finding our voice implies our own unique style of storytelling. Where does our voice begin and how can we bring it to the surface?

We must first consider the origins of our writing style. For many, this begins with the books we’ve read in the past. Over the course of our life, we devour and experience numerous authors. As our tastes mature, we develop favorites and discard those with less appeal. While some may enjoy a wide variety of authors, many settle into a comfort zone with their reading material.

Once we decide to embark on a writing path, we often emulate a favorite author or style. Almost subconsciously, we imitate the dialogue and description. Since we enjoy and find pleasure in that person’s books, we strive to recreate that feeling in our own work. The flow of our story will contain similar ebbs and wander over a familiar course.

Along the way, college, critique groups, and specialized training further our writing abilities. Our capability as a storyteller grows, continually shaping our writing style. Experience teaches us new tricks and polishes our talent. This also affects our writing style. Even our choice of genre will affect the sound of our voice.

Through all of these experiences, we slowly discover a style that is uniquely our own. Successful authors develop their style early, using it to their advantage to reach their audience. Never forget the lessons learned regarding proper writing and grammar. However, we must maintain the appropriate flow of our story without stifling creativity. Our voice will gradually take shape as we settle on a level that is both comfortable and yet still makes us stretch. Even as we rely on our knowledge, ultimately, we must be true to ourselves.

I believe the key to finding our voice resides in our passion. If our subject matter excites and moves us, it will become very apparent in our work. Just as a reserved individual will come to life when someone hits his hot button, so our words must embody this inner enthusiasm. When our dedication and passion flow freely, our personality will literally shine in our work. We may not excel as expressing ourselves verbally, but on paper, we burst forth with life. This gives rise to a voice that is uniquely our own.

We cannot forget proper writing techniques. But by leaving inhibitions behind, we will find our true voice, and it will come from the heart!

- Author & professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe

Monday, April 6, 2009

Name Generators

Having trouble coming up with names for the characters in your story? I've spent hours agonizing over possibilities. I have even been known to take employee listings from work and pick names from the sheet. In fact, in my first book I picked the name of my first victim that way. Later I met the employee and soon started dating him. Needless to say, the victim's name had to change.

There are plenty of other ways. You can scan web pages, news articles and baby books. Ask around. I've posted things on social networks asking for unique names before. You would be amazed at the ideas that come up.

If you are writing a Fantasy or Sci-Fi novel, or even anything in which you want a unique name, use a name generator to help create it. You can combine names that mean something to your character. Here's an example of a name generator website. There's plenty of information on this website that will help you come up with something.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Literary Lynnch Pen Archives

Please follow this link to view all past issues of The Literary Lynnch Pen!

Writing a Synopsis - Lynn Tincher

Writing a synopsis can be harder than writing the book itself. A synopsis should introduce the central characters and be a breakdown of the main plot and storyline. Sometimes it is difficult for authors to take a big step back and see the whole picture and then condense it into a synopsis.

There are many different types of a synopsis from a single sentence to an expanded version. It is beneficial to write different ones for every length possible. Sometimes it is easer to write the expanded version, and then scale back layer by layer to get to the one sentence that grasps the story. Don't forget your hook!

If you are writing to an editor, make sure to tell them every thing that happens. Yes, even your spoilers. They want to know if you have written a great story and have delivered on your hook.

Here are several great websites that will help you develop your synopsis and good luck. This was a tough one for me!

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pacing Your Story - Lynn Tincher

Think of pacing in writing as much the same as the movement of a piece of classical music. Some of the music is fast and furious while some parts are slow, allowing the listener to catch their breath. Writing a story or a novel can be much the same.

The beginning or your story should contain the hook. This is the part that makes your reader want to read more. You can start off with guns-a-blazing in an action packed sequence or you can start off slow; planting questions in the reader’s mind.

As far as pacing in the development of your story, have several scenes or chapters of action or conflict. Then slow the action down from time to time so the reader can have a break. Constant, non-stop action can have its benefits but it also does not always draw the attention of the reader. The reader can get worn out and lose interest.

Use different writing conventions to help speed up or slow down your actions. A change in verb tense from past to present tense can slow the action down. Adding dialog is another great way to change pace.

Adding more description can help slow the pace down and then add action to speed it up again. You can begin by describing the scene in detail. For example, describe the sea breeze causing the palm trees to sway as the seagulls call in the distance. By introducing the character talking to the bartender in the Tiki hut, you’ve introduced the beginning of the action and the pace can pick up from there.

If you have developed your characters and their motives first, it is easier to develop the pace of the story around them. In the end, answer your questions and develop some sort of finality. If you would like to leave it open, ask more questions or leave something unresolved. Most importantly, have fun.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, March 2, 2009

Points of View - Lynn Tincher

Points of View - by Lynn Tincher

Determining your point of view in writing is a crucial element in the way your story is told. There are three basic points of view: First Person, Second Person and Third Person.

The first person point of view means the story is told from the "I" perspective. This can bring your readers on a personal level with the narrator. Readers are experiencing things through the eyes of the main character.

The second person point of view means that the story is told from the "you" perspective. This is OK in small doses in your writing unless you've mastered storytelling in this manner.

The third person point of view consists of several perspectives. The third person limited means that the story is told through the main character's eyes in past tense. Experiences are told through the main character's eyes without any shifts to other characters. The third person subjective multiple viewpoint means that the story can be told in multiple viewpoints from multiple characters. The Third Person Mixed Omniscient point of view means the author takes a high level view of the characters and the story. The story is not told through any character's eyes but through a narrator.

There is no rule saying that stories have to be written in any one point of view or that they cannot be written from mixed perspectives. Make sure that you keep your target audience in mind as well as your goals when selecting a point of view to write from.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, February 23, 2009

Critiquing - Lynn Tincher

Critiquing can be a very hard thing to do. According in Wikipedia, the term critique derives from the Greek term kritik, meaning "discerning judgment", usually of the value of something. How do you judge the value of writing when it is a subjective art form?

Remember if you are asked to critique something, you are judging the work, not the author. Be honest but respectful. Offer suggestions for improvement if you find something bothersome or suggest alternative plot lines or character actions. Do not just offer up what you think is faulty or ineffective. Above all, you must respect the author and their own story.

Make sure you ask questions, if appropriate, to better help your understanding if what you are being asked to critique is a part or overview of a larger story. Make sure you understand the author’s point or motivation behind the story they are trying to tell.

Also, be respectful if the genre is not your usual genre you are being asked to review. Study up on the areas you lack experience so that you can offer constructive advice. Do not cast it off as it not being you area of expertise. After all, you are trying to help the author reach their goals, not your own.

If you can be objective and respectful while offering worthwhile advice, you have provided a great service to the author.

Good luck and keep plugging away.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Finding Writing Classes - Laura Griffith

Finding Writing Classes - Laura Griffith (

I have found that finding legitimate writing classes is just as hard as breaking into the writing industry itself. You have to be very careful about getting taken advantage of, or giving your money to people with less than perfect intentions – especially with online courses.

If you do a Google search for writing classes, you can come up with 65,700,000 results – many of which are probably not legitimate. That is not to say that you can’t find legitimate writing classes that would be worth your while- even on-line. Just – like anything – do your research.

There are a number of ways to weed out classes. First, you can always use word of mouth. If a trusted friend or a well-respected writer you know has taken a class and gotten use out of it, it is probably okay. Another way to find a good course is to find a book at your local library or bookstore that lists out legitimate writing classes. But, as always, it is important to trust your sources. The best and easiest way to get involved with a good writing class – is to do it through your local college. A lot of community colleges and universities offer creative writing courses that can stimulate your talents and hook you up with good contacts. Another good source to use is your local library. A lot of local libraries offer creative writing seminars and writing groups. And the best part about getting involved in a group like that is that fellow writers or instructors can also give you ideas for additional writing classes. So, like any other part of this industry, once you are in – you can find people to help you make good decisions for future endeavors.

However, always remember that it is up to you to do what is right for you. If a class you are researching does not seem right for some reason, trust your instincts. If it is a class that you cannot afford, do not go out of your way to come up with money for that class. There are good classes or seminars you can take that are cheap – some even free. You just have to know where to look.

Copyright 2009 - Laura Griffith

Monday, February 9, 2009

Developing a Turning Point - Lynn Tincher

Wikipedia has the perfect definition of what a turning point would be.

In a prose work of fiction, the climax often resembles that of the classical comedy, occurring near the end of the text or performance, after the rising action and before the falling action. It is the moment of greatest danger for the protagonist(s)(good people of the story) and usually consists of a seemingly inevitable prospect of failure, followed by a hard-to-anticipate recovery. For example, if you were on a roller coaster, the highest part of it would be the climax.

A climax includes three elements. The most important element is that the protagonist experiences a change. The main character discovers something about himself or herself, or another unknown character. The last element is revealing the theme itself.

There has to be a turning point or change in the circumstance as a result of a crisis in the story. The protagonist needs to learn something or the situation must change in some way. The turning point does not have to be dramatic, just a change.

There can be several turning points in a story. Be careful not to include too many or you may confuse your reader. Don’t assume they can fill in the blanks and see or understand the points you are making. If you use many turning points, help guide your reader through them. After all, developing a turning point could make all the difference in a story that has been submitted for publication, and the one that gets published.

Good luck and have fun.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Resolution with Character

Are you the master of only great beginnings? Do your stories end with fireworks or just sort of a fizzle? Endings and resolutions are a struggle for many writers, however focusing on character can help you ‘resolve’ the issue.

Too often, writers focus on the storyline, when all great stories reside in the characters. It’s as if they were building a beautiful city without taking the potential inhabitants into consideration. But characters are what give a story heart and soul. It is their emotions, struggles and triumphs that draw in the reader. It stands to reason then that the resolution should revolve around this powerful force.

When inspiration strikes, focus on at least one main character before devising the plot. Create a profile sheet on this character, or several if possible, and flesh these individuals out in full detail. Consider each one’s background and basic personality type. Give these individuals ambitions and weaknesses as well as strengths. No one is perfect, so make the characters flawed, diverse and interesting.

Even if the story is just a wisp of an idea, characters should still be created. If you envision a murder at a ski resort, then who is involved? If it’s a fantasy setting, who inhabits this world? Regardless of the setting, the story must contain characters that catch the reader’s attention and interest. Take the time now to create these individuals.

Armed with a few well-defined characters, you may find the resolution lies within their flaws. Often one or more individuals’ weaknesses not only become the crux of the story but the resolution as well. A character with a significant shortcoming could overcome this challenge in the end. A reluctant hero on a quest might harbor internal struggles that must be resolved in order to achieve victory. An overconfident and selfish character may eventually discover a little humility. Analyze the weaknesses and consider how one might triumph over such an imperfection. Take advantage of your character’s greatest fault!

Depending on the tone of your work, the character might not reveal his flaw until the very end. The hero could turn out to be the villain. Talk about a twist ending! A character might make a vital mistake in the last scenes of the story, ending in defeat rather than triumph. A secret could come back to haunt that individual. Perhaps it might even result in the death of the character. There are many genres where this type of resolution is perfectly suited.

Sometimes it is not so much a character’s flaws but his goals that provide a resolution. I used this idea for the first book in my series, The Circle of Friends. I envisioned a swimmer, and my ending became obvious when I inserted the word Olympics. What are your character’s ambitions? If he is a treasure hunter, then discovering the mother load in an ancient temple might be a fitting resolution. Whether the goals are political or athletic, personal or business, a resolution may easily lie in the accomplishment of a dream.

With any journey, there must be a destination worthy of the travel. Before investing heavily in the plot, create the inhabitants of the scene and allow them to contribute to the resolution. Not only will great endings reveal themselves more rapidly, you’ll find the entire storyline process easier and more enjoyable. And that joy is why we write in the first place!

- Author & professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe

Copyright 2009 - L. Diane Wolfe

Monday, January 26, 2009

Developing a Crisis - by Lynn Tincher

Dennis G. Jerz descibes the differences between a crisis and conflict as this:

Summary: Good storytellers differentiate between a crisis (an emergency, such as a car crash or an illness) and conflict (a clash of wills, a difficult moral choice, or an internal mental struggle). Beginning authors often focus on the exciting crisis rather than the conflict that makes readers care about the characters enduring the crisis.

A crisis can be a small part of the over all conflict. Adding a small crisis or two within your story can help define your characters and how they react to the crisis. These will lead to the moral dilemmas or the clashes of wills described above. Everyone loves to see their characters overcome each crisis and you can control what they will endure and what the outcome will be.

The crisis can define your characters persona. They are that which develops personalities and strengths or weaknesses. Design your crisis carefully. They can help show what is happening instead of just telling.

Check out Mr. Jerz website above. There is a lot of good information that will help you in your story.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, January 19, 2009

Play Writing

I've never written a play longer than one scene, although I've helped produce several and performed in many. I majored in Drama in college so I've seen my fair share of them. My husband is a playwright and the screenplay for my first book is in the works. To sit down and write a play seems as foreign to me as speaking French or Italian.

While doing research for this article, it hit me. I've heard the roar of applause while on stage for a performance or for the production of one. I would love to hear it for one that I had written. It's not easy to take a great play and turn it into a great performance but to actually write the great play has to be a major accomplishment that I hope to one day experience.

How do I get started? What is the format? Here is a quick list from of what a play should include.

Title Page
Cast Page
Musical Numbers Page (musicals only)
Act/Scene Heading
At Rise Description
Character Name
Stage Directions

The first act is the Protasis, or exposition.
The second act is the Epitasis, or complication.
The final act is the Catastrophe, or resolution.

Do your research. Find software that can help you. I encourage all authors to take a swing at this. This is a great way to stretch your imagination. Try something new. You may just find your niche.

Listed below are a couple of websites that will help. Most importantly, have fun!

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Monday, January 12, 2009

Keeping a Positive Attitude - Lynn Tincher

You've heard me preach this before and you already know this to be true, but getting published is a very hard thing to accomplish. Anyone that has submitted a query letter to agents and publishers knows that the rejection letters will pour in. How do you keep a positive attitude through it all?

Being prepared can help. Knowing you will receive rejections will help you cope with them they roll in. Agents and publishers are very busy people. Don't take their rejections personally. Most of the time, they reject authors just because they don't have time to read their material. If any of you have seen their offices have probably seen the mounds of material begging for attention. I had several agents actually take to time to help me and offer advice. By keeping a positive attitude about it, I listened to their advice, plugged along, and learned as I went.

Believing in you is the key to survival in this world. You know how good your story is. You know how long you've worked on it. You've packaged it up with a great big read bow! Believe in it and believe in you. You did it. How many people have started their first novel and never finished it? I was one of those for a long time so I was really proud of what I had done when I finally finished it. You've poured your heart and soul into something you believe in. Others will believe in it too. You will find the right place and time to show it to the world.

You will run into others that are negative energies and will bring you down. If they offer good advice, take it, but don't let their negativity seep through to you. I know how hard it is to not let that happen. When it does, don't dwell on them. Seek out the good things. Reinforce what you've accomplished with yourself. It is some people's lot in life to be negative and it really has nothing to do with you anyway.

Find websites or subscribe to newsletters to help you keep up a positive attitude in your life as well. It's amazing how a holistic view of positive things in every aspect of your life can help you reach any of your goals. Good luck and let me know how it's going!

Most importantly, hang in there. Be positive. Don't ever give up.

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Keeping a Positive Attitude - Laura Griffith

In any book you pick up on publishing your writing; you'll get countless bits of advice on how to handle various situations. One of the situations that will inevitably befall any writer is rejection. It hits you hard, especially the first time. It's difficult enough to pour your heart and soul into any piece of writing - and the time you put in is precious - and draining. So much so that when it's done, you might even have tears in your eyes to have completed your "masterpiece". At that point, it's your baby. And after numerous revisions and drafts, you're ready to send it out for the world to see. You might even have dreams of how your writing is going to change the world and how you'll make it on the New York Times Best Seller list. All of those dreams and fantasies start to fade with the first rejection letter you get - and all the ones that follow. Or, worst yet is the frustration with the complete lack of response from an agent (or a number of agents) who you queried with your brilliant idea. And as month after month - or year after year - ticks by, you start to wonder if writing is worthwhile and if your dreams will ever come true.

Stop right there. One of the best things I ever read about writing is: if you write because you love it and you write because your passion for it keeps you writing - you are a writer. Do not let yourself believe for a second that because an agent or a publisher has not discovered you yet that you are not a writer. And when you are discovered, chances are that someone will tell you that that masterpiece you wrote is not perfect. They will want changes and revisions - some of which you may or may not agree with. Take everything in stride, and if there is something you feel strongly about - make the argument. But remember that a piece of writing is like a work of art or a piece of music. It takes tuning and practice.

So, while you're waiting for that agent to respond or that publisher to finish with their revisions, start your next masterpiece. After all, you are a writer, and writing regularly is what will keep your passion for it alive despite the rejections. And, just like any art, there will be rejections. The first song a songwriter writes and the first painting a painter paints - most likely will sit in a drawer unshared and unsold - until they are discovered. The same is true for writing. And the best way to keep a positive attitude about it is to remember why you wanted to write to begin with. Use your dreams and goals to motivate you, but don't let the fulfillment of those goals define you as a writer. You are a writer because you write.

Copyright 2009 Laura Griffith

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SPAN Connection Feature

Hey guys! I had a small feature in the December edition of the Small Publishers of North America's newsletter. Bottom right hand side!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting Ideas by Laura Griffith

Last year I attended the Midwest Literary Festival in Aurora, Illinois which consisted of book sales, presentations, and seminars for various types of writers. (Very highly recommended, by the way) One of the seminars I attended was on where and how writers come up with ideas for stories – an interesting topic but not a problem that I have faced as I writer. The writers who were on the panel actually shared my feelings on the subject. They (and I) believe that finding a story to write is rarely the problem – the issue becomes planning it out and getting the complete story down on paper (or computer).

I have heard before that there are only a few unique stories out there that are just retold over and over in different ways. I disagree. There are unique stories everywhere we look – the news, history, and in everyday life. Inspiration for a story can come from so many places. That is why it is important for you, as a writer, to carry around a journal or PDA to take notes or jot down ideas at all times. Then, when a story idea materializes – at work, watching TV, or sitting on a bus – write it down. Even if you are currently working on a project, you can file away these ideas for when you are ready to start something new. Or, if you are struggling with an idea or scene you are working on, it is helpful to take up the hobby of people-watching. Sit in a coffee shop or a park and watch the people around you. Make up a story about a situation you see and write it down. It may be silly, and you may never use it or show a soul. But it is a great story-telling exercise because each individual we talk to or pass on the street has a unique story. It’s just a matter of how to tell it.

Copyright 2008 Laura Griffith

Characterization - Get Real! by L. Diane Wolfe

Characterization: Get Real!

If the plot is the backbone of the story, then the characters are the heart. Creating believable characters that your readers will identify with is crucial to a good story. Your characters must have depth, personality and the ability to evoke an emotional response from your reader.

Before you can formulate a riveting story, an interesting character must be devised. Many writers envision the setting first and the people inhabiting that world second. This often results in shallow characters. Developing a character in depth, complete with flaws, will give you a basis for your narrative. It is easier to build a plot around an individual than force that character into unrealistic situations.

Two factors will determine your character – their background and their personality type. Both are equally important and require some thought. Humans all share similar feelings and needs, but how they respond to those depends on their upbringing and their basic, fundamental personality. You need to be aware of these factors when writing your story.

Backgrounds are as varied as humans themselves. Race, culture, religion, and economic status all contribute to one’s development as a person. A person’s moral compass is easily affected by their upbringing, and you need to keep this in mind when creating your characters. A person raised by a loving family on a farm and someone raised on the streets of New York will not react the same! Flesh out your character with a family history, interests, and experiences.

Become familiar with the four basic personality types – choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic. They will also determine how your character reacts in any given situation. (“Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer is an excellent book for researching these personality traits.) A bold, first-born choleric would likely take charge in a situation, while an introverted phlegmatic would step aside. You need to be aware of these personality traits in your character or you will find them responding in a dubious fashion.

Avoid the temptation to create a perfect character! People are flawed creatures and the more imperfections and internal conflicts your character possesses, the more intriguing your story. Give them weaknesses, impulses and unresolved issues. Negative aspects of your character might improve and eventually vanish, but this needs to be developed slowly during the course of your narrative. Life altering moments happen for us all, but a sudden change for no apparent reason will be looked upon as a mere plot contrivance.

Characters will always be the drive and focal point of any story. By putting a great deal of thought into your main characters, you will form interesting, relatable people. Once you have established this foundation, you can begin creating an intriguing tale!

- Author & speaker, L. Diane Wolfe,

Copyright 2008 L. Diane Wolfe

Successful Interview or Bust by L. Diane Wolfe

Successful Interview or Bust!

Interviews are a necessary component of an author’s success. We are interviewed for newspapers, magazines, blogs, podcasts, radio, and even live TV! Our success in this area can affect book sales and the opportunity to acquire more interviews. So, what does it take to increase the odds of a good interview?

Few of us have innate oratory talents. However, we still need to effectively communicate our message during an interview. Public speaking courses and organizations such as Toastmasters can improve our ability to properly convey ideas and concepts. A media specialist or trainer can also prepare an author for interviews. Poor grammar and mannerisms need to be eliminated long before making a public appearance. Halted speech, slow responses, and neurotic gestures will unnerve listeners and viewers, not to mention the host! We must be smooth, polished and professional before stepping into the limelight.

To acquire interviews, we need to master our pitch. The media seeks those who can solve the problems of their audience. A good story idea or ‘hook’ is essential. It basically comes down to solving the audience’s problems based on the knowledge gained from writing our book. However, just one story idea will not fit the requirements of every media outlet. We need to understand what each reporter or producer seeks. This information gives us an edge over those who send formula pitches to everyone in the media. Providing actual interview questions will make the reporter’s job much easier, too.

When contacted for a possible interview, we’ve got to be prepared! Keep a calendar and press kit handy for easy reference, and return all phone calls as soon as possible. Some reporters will simply visit our website, so all pertinent information must be in our pressroom. If asked to do a radio or TV interview, we’ve got to be flexible with our schedule. If we sound sharp, organized, and energetic, we stand a better chance of booking the interview.

Once we’ve set a date, a few key details must be taken care of before the interview. Make sure the interviewer has all the important information, facts, and any images or web addresses necessary. Review the interviewer’s personal and professional data. For in-person interviews, dress professional and sharp but not flashy. Remember that TV interviews will require the attachment of a microphone on our person. Be sure to bring a book or other required materials to the interview. Most important – show up on time! Nothing kills the opportunity for future interviews like arriving late or not at all.

During the interview, direct all comments and answers toward the host unless instructed otherwise. (A giant TV camera does not appear so daunting then!) Act as if it’s just a conversation between friends. The station or interviewer is on a schedule, so keep answers short and to the point. The purpose of the interview is to inform the audience, so refrain from excessive self-promotion. Phrases such as “Well, you’ll just have to read the book!” should be avoided completely as well. If the question is tough or cannot be directly answered, take a deep breath before replying. Most people in the media are friendly and simply trying to do their job, but try to avoid a confrontation with a feisty interviewer if at all possible. Winning the argument only means we lose out on future interviews!

Remember to thank the interviewer and send a thank you card as well. So many people forget this basic courtesy! Coupled with a good interview, a personalized thank you encourages the interviewer to consider us for future interviews.

In the world of promotions, interviews and features are vital. Make the most of every opportunity!

- Author & professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe,

Copyright 2008 L Diane Wolfe

Tracking Fans by L. Diane Wolfe

The Gathering & Tracking of Fans
by L. Diane Wolfe

The most important resource for any author is a database of readers. Those who have enjoyed our previous work should be our number one target audience for the next book. This group can also be the deciding factor as to the subject matter. There are a variety of ways to gather and track fans, and we should employ as many methods as possible.

We all begin our author career with a list of addresses and emails of family and friends. Hopefully this includes a network of business contacts as well. Those who purchase our first book should form the base of our reader list, and those who did not will form the potential reader list. We need to keep alphabetized databases of the mailing addresses and create contact groups for the emails. Always include as many details as possible, such as when and where they purchased a book. As the list grows, we'll be hard pressed to remember these facts otherwise.

Appearances are ideal for meeting and creating new fans. Never miss an opportunity to connect with these people after the event has ended! Utilize a sign up sheet or a guest book and collect email addresses. Encourage those interested to sign the form and make sure they realize announcements or a newsletter will be sent to them. Feature a contest with a drawing for a free book. This is a viable way to collect information above and beyond email addresses. Since we want to keep readers and potential readers separate, try to monitor which ones purchase books.

A great way to gather information is through our website. After all, the Internet never sleeps! Employing a retrieval device can be as simple as adding a comment box. Encourage fans to supply feedback on the books or make requests for future titles. Readers should also have the option of signing up for our newsletter online. This provides us with the opportunity to connect with our fans on a regular basis. Since we won't always know if these people have purchased a book or not, we might place them into a third group of probable readers.

Our books can also be used to harvest reader data. In addition to listing our website in our books, we can include our email address or a P.O. Box to promote feedback. We might even want to consider a response form or an order form. This encourages fans to contact us, thus providing a means of connecting with them. We might even discover some interesting suggestions and ideas coming our direction as well.

The Internet provides numerous other resources for tracking our fans. Our online involvement greatly influences our chances to locate and connect with readers. We will gain many new fans through such exposure.

Every author should be involved in at least one community site. Which one will depend in large on where our fans congregate. By setting up a page on a community site, we give readers another way to connect and bond with us. These sites are much more personable than our main web page, thus making us more approachable. We can send out news and announcements faster and more often. Our involvement in forums and online discussions provide unique opportunities as well.

Every genre of book has websites devoted to its fan base. We can access these sites in several ways - adding our titles to their database; offering our services as a guest blogger; proposing an interview session; even sacrificing a book as a contest prize or giveaway. Our fans will be pleased to find us on these sites and it will undoubtedly lead to many new fans. Since many of these sites encourage feedback and reviews, we'll discover what readers really think of our books.

This leads us to the final aspect - tracking what our fans say and do! The easiest way to do this is to set up daily "Google Alerts" and receive notification whenever someone posts or comments about us or our books. We need to see these comments, both good and bad, and locate their origins. Our website statistics can also tell us from where traffic stems. This will tell us how often fans are visiting our site and what prompts them to do so.

We don't need to be a bloodhound to track readers, but we do need to possess a little ingenuity. If we begin gathering information from the beginning, we'll be better prepared for the future. And if we make it easy for fans to find us, then it will be simpler for us to locate them!

- Author and professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe

Copyright 2008 - L. Diane Wolfe

Writing Non-Fiction

Writing Non-Fiction by Lynn Tincher

Growing up, when I thought of non-fiction writing, I thought of text books. As I started writing and taking classes I found there are several other non-fiction avenues for any writer to write. More than I thought of for a category like this.

Writers can write articles on sports, interviews, criticisms, reviews, creative fiction and blogs. All of these are considered non-fiction.

Most writers feel that writing non-fiction is easier. The quote "Write what you know" comes to mind. It is easier to write about things that you are familiar with. Don't get stuck in this rut. Branch out. Write about things you would like to learn about. Write an article about a place you would love to visit or a restaurant you would love to try. Try writing a book review for the latest and greatest book you've just finished. Do your research and find new ideas or information and put the pen to paper; or fingers to keyboard and go for it. The research is only a part of the fun.

Here are a few links to help you develop your non-fiction writing:

Copyright 2009 Lynn Tincher

Friday, January 2, 2009

Helpful Websites for Writers

Helpful Writing and Publishing Links

I am a huge fan of Piers Anthony. I've been reading his books for more than half my life. He has a website where he does research on publishing companies to help new or established authors in their endeavors to get published. I found his research to be very helpful and honest. He is also a very nice man in that he gave me permission to add this link to his website. He updates it every two months. Check it out! ~Lynn~

Piers Anthony's Research -

My first piece of advice...BE PERSISTANT. This is an extremely tough venue to get into. It's hard to get publisher's attention. Especially if you do not have an agent. It's just as tough to get an agent's attention as well. Don't give up. Toughen up your skin. I've received hundreds of rejection letters from agents. The good news is, I have had attention as well. I've been fortunate enough to receive help and advice from several agents. If you get one or two agents willing to look at more of what you write, consider yourself extremely lucky.

Market, market, market!

Develop a network of other authors and friends. Join writers groups. The more people who know who you are the better.

As your release date creeps closer, send out emails to everyone you know. Word of mouth is a very strong tool. Have your friends help you spread the word.

Develop sell sheets for bookstores. Print flyers and business cards for your project and deliver them to Libraries and Bookstores for them to drop in shopping bags at the checkout.

Make your press release "to die for".

Research on how to develop all of the above. There are a lot of great resources available through the web.

I have been fortunate enough to not have had major issues with writer's block. Occasionally, however, I do need a jump start or I've run out of ideas. I have found that if I get out of the house, I can find inspiration. I sometimes walk through department stores and watch people. I can pick up on personality traits, slang, or bits of conversation that may spark something in me. I keep my handy dandy little notebook with me to jot these down. Then when I get back to writing, I have things to help spur me along.

In trying to get the sequel started for Afterthoughts, I've hit a wall on a couple of things so I started a little research. I found a couple of articles that I found to be helpful so I decided to share them with you.'s_block (I know this is a Wikipedia article but it has a lot of great information and other links.)

With all that I've had going on the last couple of weeks, I have been having trouble finding time to write. I am working on the sequel to Afterthoughts as well as starting on a couple of new ideas. I thought I would throw out a couple of ideas on ways to make time.

I carry around a small notebook in my purse. If you don't carry a purse, find a notebook small enough to keep in your pocket or invested in a small hand held device. I use these to jot down ideas and work on different chapters. It's amazing sometimes how much you can get done in a couple of minutes if you have the resources available to take advantage of it.
I did run across a couple of articles that I found to be very helpful and have listed them below. They both offer really great suggestions in "making time".
Time and the Writer by Moira Allen -
Finding Time To Write When You Have No Time To Write! by Karen Fenech -

Be Open to Experiences

Be Open to Experiences
by Lynn Tincher

What makes us who we are? Our experiences do. What shapes the characters we develop? The experiences we have with ourselves and others do.

Keep yourself open to experience new things. Remember how incredible the hamburger was that your loved one made for you. How did you feel when you stood in the middle of a forest during the peak autumn season? How did you react to the news story you saw about the murders in your neighborhood? Write it all down. Journalize your experiences. You can develop characters, situations and scenes by delving into what has happened to you. Read blogs and comments to news stories and see other's experiences and reactions. Write those down along with how their reactions made you feel.

Put yourselves out there. Try new things. Read different types of books and listen to music you wouldn't normally listen to. Eat at a variety of restaurants from the dive on the corner to treating yourself to a very nice, upscale place. Take a day trip to a new town or plan a vacation to an unfamiliar place. The important thing is to absorb all the details you can from these experiences. Not only will they help you grow as an individual, but you will have a wealth of information to draw from when you write.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Market Market Market

• Develop a network of other authors and friends. Join writers groups. The more people who know who you are the better.
• As your release date creeps closer, send out emails to everyone you know. Word of mouth is a very strong tool. Have your friends help you spread the word.
• Develop sell sheets for bookstores. Print flyers and business cards for your project and deliver them to Libraries and Bookstores for them to drop in shopping bags at the checkout.
• Make your press release "to die for".
• Research on how to develop all of the above. There are a lot of great resources available through the web.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Writers Block

I have been fortunate enough to not have had major issues with writer's block. Occasionally, however, I do need a jump start or I've run out of ideas. I have found that if I get out of the house, I can find inspiration. I sometimes walk through department stores and watch people. I can pick up on personality traits, slang, or bits of conversation that may spark something in me. I keep my handy dandy little notebook with me to jot these down. Then when I get back to writing, I have things to help spur me along.

In trying to get the sequel started for Afterthoughts, I've hit a wall on a couple of things so I started a little research. I found a couple of articles that I found to be helpful so I decided to share them with you.'s_block (I know this is a Wikipedia article but it has a lot of great information and other links.)

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher


In my efforts this week, I learned the importance of proofreading your own work. This is a most difficult task. As a writer, I know what I am trying to say. When I re-read something, I read it as I intended it to be and that may not be what is actually written. Here are a couple of tips:

Walk away - Let your writing get cold, even if it is only for 10 minutes or 10 days. This will give you a chance to look at it with fresh eyes.

Read out loud - You may thing this sounds crazy but it really works. Reading out loud makes you say every word you've written. You also have the benefit of listening to it. This will help with awkward sentences or language use.

Pick it apart - Double check your information. Make sure names, numbers, punctuation, and grammar structures are correct.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Writing a Query Letter

Ok, so now you are finished writing your book. What do you do with it? Of course, you'd like to publish it. You need to start trying to land a publisher. Most publishers will not let you directly solicit your materials to them. You have to find an agent to market your story for you. How do you land an agent? You can't just pick one out of a phone book and hire them. Agents are swamped with writers wanting to be published, so how do you get their attention and convince them that they want to sell your work to a publisher? You send them a query letter.

A query letter is generally a one page letter that tells the agent about you and you work. Remember, you are selling yourself and your story. You need to start by "hooking" them. Develop a fantastic hook line to draw their attention. Once you have them, deliver your sales pitch. Tell the agent all about your story from start to finish in one paragraph. The next paragraph should deliver your credentials and tell the agent about you. Be sure to list your accomplishments, prior publications, articles about you, etc. Finally in closing, thank them for their time and invite them to contact you.

Be sure you research your possible agents. Many of them have different submission guidelines. Some of them will not take unsolicited queries while some expect the first few chapters to be included with the letter. Make sure you know what your agents require before you query them and I wish you the best of luck. This is a tough business and you will most likely be rejected over and over again. Stick to it. There's one out there for you

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Creative Writing

Wikipedia describes creative writing as "...considered to be any writing, fiction or nonfiction, that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, and technical forms of literature. Works which fall into this category include most novels and epics, as well as many short stories and poems."

How do you go about expanding your creative writing capabilities no matter what you are trying to write?

Check out this book for help:
Book: The Routledge Creative Writing Coursebook ISBN 0-415-31785-1

Another good way of opening your creative channels is to read. Read different books than what you are writing. Study the different styles of writing. This will open up within you and help you write by broadening you understanding.

Write as often as possible. Pull out your journal and make entries daily or write poetry. Poetry is an excellent way to get different thoughts down on paper that you may not be able to otherwise.

Also, take creative writing classes. Don't be afraid to learn new things and implement them in your writing. You never know what directions you may go.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher


Networking is vital to your success as an author. I read an article on Online Networking for Author-Entrepreneurs, Part 1: Long-Distance Relationships for the Lifecycle of Your Book, by Scott Allen,, that quotes John Kremer, a book marketing expert. Mr. Kermer said, "Book marketing is all about relationships. And you'd better get good at doing them long-distance, because you're never going to meet most of the people face-to-face."

Utilize the Internet. There are plenty of opportunities out there to market your book and networking is just one way. Join all the social networks you can (Facebook, Author Nation, Ning, Yahoo, Axis Avenue just to name a few). Not only will you meet interesting authors, publishers, agents and readers, you can get advice and information from these sites to help you in your writing and publishing endeavors.

Join both online and local writing groups. is a great way to join a local group. I've joined a couple of groups this way and plan on starting one of my own very soon. Check with local libraries and bookstores for other local opportunities.

There are many social networks that you can sign up for free. Sign up for as many of these as you can manage. Most of them will be searched by the major search engines. You can put as much or as little as you want about yourself on these networks.

Create a MySpace page for yourself and your books. Seek out other authors, publishers, and friends this way. Make sure to invite others as your friend and many will add you as theirs as well.

The earlier the better. It can only help to network well in advance of your release date. This will help you build friendships and help to get your name out there. I have learned a lot from the friends I've networked with. Others' experiences are very helpful.

There are so many opportunities out there at your finger tips. Get started building lasting relationships and most importantly, have fun with it.

Check out these networks to get you started:

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

The Importance of Journaling

Journaling is an important part of anyone's life, not just the writer. Besides providing an emotional outlet, it can also be a repository for ideas, phrases, or anything a writer may want to make note of.

Use your journal when writer's block sets in. You can look back and different parts of your life or any notes that you have taken and use those as a basis for a scene or dialog.

The journal can also be a tool for self-evaluation or can help you with self-improvement both in your personal life and as a writer. Make notes on things you learn each day and review them often. Watch you learn and grow.

You can keep your journal in a notebook or online. There are several online journaling websites like where you can make your journal public or keep it just for your eyes only. It's up to you. Just remember to keep in informative and helpful. You never know, you may turn it into your life story!

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Writing a Sell Sheet

What is a sell sheet? It's like a flyer announcing your book. It is similar to a press release but is oriented to selling your book to potential buyers.

The sell sheet needs to be one page in length and contain all of the important elements regarding your book. (Publisher contact information, ISBN#'s, etc.)

It also needs to contain Author information, a plot summary and any other noteworthy information that you feel will help buyers decide to buy.

Target your market. Gear each sell sheet a little differently whether you are selling to a bookstore, library, or a reader's group.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Time Management

One of the biggest challenges I am facing right now is time management. I have so many things going on that it's hard to find time to do them all. (This is not a complaint. I'm enjoying it all.)

In doing research for this article, I have found some great advice that I will need to follow myself so that I can get all of the things done that I would like to.

The most important thing to do is to make time to manage your time. Stick to it.

One thing I am doing is making a commitment to myself to get these things done. By doing this, I am able to set a schedule with allotted time to each task. I then can prioritize them by what is the most urgent or would take the most or least amount of time to complete. Then I can tick them off my list as they are completed. This will help me make sure I get them done as well as see what I've accomplished.

Investing in a great pocket calendar, iPhone or Blackberry are great ways to help keep everything straight. The task feature in Microsoft Outlook is another great tool to learn and use. You can track progress if it is a task that has several steps or will take a while to complete.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Finding Inspiration

Finding inspiration for writing can be the easiest thing to do. It can also be the most difficult. What do you do when you are struggling? Where can ideas come from?

Try to find inspiration in every day things. Keep you pencil handy. Write down how you felt when you heard good or bad news. What did you think about when that wonderful aroma emanated from your favorite restaurant, or from the smell of the man's cologne as he passed by you in the hall? Small things can trigger great responses and ideas for a story line. Even if it is just the missing details that you need to set a scene.

Watch people. Learn from their reactions to conversation or circumstances. Imagine what they are going through in their lives at that particular moment. You may be able to find some interesting dialog to use later.

Read blogs, message boards, discussion groups, books, ezines, and the news. Stay current with topics and phrases. This will help you learn what others are interested in.

There are many ways to find inspiration. You have to be open to finding it and have some means of recording it when it happens.

Good luck and happy writing!

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Getting Ideas by Laura Griffith

Getting Ideas
by Laura Griffith

Last year I attended the Midwest Literary Festival in Aurora, Illinois which consisted of book sales, presentations, and seminars for various types of writers. (Very highly recommended, by the way) One of the seminars I attended was on where and how writers come up with ideas for stories - an interesting topic but not a problem that I have faced as I writer. The writers who were on the panel actually shared my feelings on the subject. They (and I) believe that finding a story to write is rarely the problem - the issue becomes planning it out and getting the complete story down on paper (or computer).

I have heard before that there are only a few unique stories out there that are just retold over and over in different ways. I disagree. There are unique stories everywhere we look - the news, history, and in everyday life. Inspiration for a story can come from so many places. That is why it is important for you, as a writer, to carry around a journal or PDA to take notes or jot down ideas at all times. Then, when a story idea materializes - at work, watching TV, or sitting on a bus - write it down. Even if you are currently working on a project, you can file away these ideas for when you are ready to start something new. Or, if you are struggling with an idea or scene you are working on, it is helpful to take up the hobby of people-watching. Sit in a coffee shop or a park and watch the people around you. Make up a story about a situation you see and write it down. It may be silly, and you may never use it or show a soul. But it is a great story-telling exercise because each individual we talk to or pass on the street has a unique story. It's just a matter of how to tell it.

Copyright 2008 Laura Griffith

Finding an Artist

Finding an artist can be a tough thing to do. The first step is understanding what you want the artist to do for you. Do you need illustrations for chapters in your book, cover art, video or photos of locations you are writing about?

In a lot of cases, your publisher will take care of this for you. Some of them will use material you want to include and let you have some creative control. Others want this information from you. In some cases, you can design your own. There are several websites that offer help in book cover design with the use of templates.

Once you have an idea of what you are looking for and the type of art you need, you can use Google or you favorite search engine to begin your search. Compile a list of names and then research each name. Compare their pricing along with their contracts to find the best fit for you.

Join online communities. Ask other authors who they used and what their experiences were with each one. Word of mouth is sometimes the best resource.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Character Development

Developing you characters can be a challenge. You can begin by creating a list that revolves around the character's race, religion, and location. Research the things that each of these characteristics require.

If you are developing a character that you want to be unlikable, think about all the features that are in people you dislike. Do they smoke and that bothers or you do they constantly check their Blackberries? Maybe they chew with their mouths open. Keep a running list of the annoying things and throw them in where it fits in your story.

Keep your ears open to conversation around you. If the character you are trying to develop has a sense of humor, listen to conversations that make people laugh. Don't quote them verbatim, but use the quotes as guides in your writing.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Finding a Publisher

Getting published is a tough, tough business. I need to say it again, it's tough.

If you want to go the route of hiring an Agent, this can be very helpful. They can help you have your material read and considered by publishers. Some publishers are reluctant to hear from writers without them having agents. But agents take up to 15% in commissions. Legitimate agents will not ask for any money up front. Beware of those that do.

Find the latest edition of Writer's Market. It is published every year. You can also view it online. It is full of information on current publishers and the types of materials they are looking for.

Read Publishers Lunch. This is another great way to find which publishers are looking for material and who to contact with them for submissions. Their website is

Visit It is expensive but I believe you can find the information in a library as well.

You can also go to the bookstore and read the covers of other books in your genre. The will list the publishers and agents as well. You can also search online bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The websites also list the publishers.

Do you research on the publishers as well. Do not rely on search engines solely. Some of the publishers fill the web with promises. Be careful. Some of them are only out to publish your material and offer you little help beyond that.

The most important thing is to not give up. Expect to be rejected over and over again before you find the right fit for you. I was talking with a fellow author recently. It took her nine years to find a publisher. Now that she has, her work is being sold all over the world and she has been fortunate enough to have several more published.

Keep and it and never give up.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher


We all know how important it is to Copyright our material, but do we know exactly what a Copyright is or how to go about getting one? There are many different types of copyrights and it can be quite confusing as to which one you need.

This is from the website that explains what a copyright is.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following: To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords; To prepare derivative works based upon the work; To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works; To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and In the case of sound recordings*, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, request Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.

It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Sections 107 through 121 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of "fair use," which is given a statutory basis in section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For further information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.

*Note: Sound recordings are defined in the law as "works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work." Common examples include recordings of music, drama, or lectures. A sound recording is not the same as a phonorecord. A phonorecord is the physical object in which works of authorship are embodied. The word "phonorecord" includes cassette tapes, CDs, LPs, 45 r.p.m. disks, as well as other formats.

There are fees associated with obtaining a copyright and forms to be filled out and submitted with a copy of the works. You can obtain a copyright at a cheaper fee of you apply for it online through their website.

Visit for all the forms and instructions. They also have an FAQ section and plenty of information to find out what type of copyright you need.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Writing a Press Release

A press release is a mini news story that is submitted to the news media to announce your book being published.

The headline should be short and to the point. This should include the "announcement" that you are trying to make. Do not capitalize every work of the headline.

The press release body copy should be written exactly how you would like it to appear in the story. This should be written in third person. It should be started with the date and the city from which the story originated from. The first paragraph should be a two to three sentence synopsis of what the press release is about. Make it interesting and newsworthy. Make sure to use the who, what, when, where, why and how.

The entire press release should between one and two pages. You may also include a copy of your book and a general synopsis of it. An FAQ about you and the book can be included to help the media decide whether or not to interview you or give them a list of questions to be asked.

Don't forget to include your contact information.

Here are a couple of websites that will help you develop your press releases.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Google Yourself

Google Yourself
by Lynn Tincher

Yes, I know. Telling you to Google yourself sounds funny. It is a very important task to add to your schedule for many reasons.

First, you will find what others are saying about you. You may turn up in an article or blog that you had no idea you were going to be a part of.

Once you have a book published, artwork available, etc., you can use the search engines to see where these items are turning up for sale. I was surprised to see my book being viewed in Australia for example.

You can also protect yourself. I recently had a friend tell me about her poetry ending up on someone's site. The user had not credited her at all in their publishing of her work. She was able to get that taken care of and was happy with the results. There are a few vultures out that that will pick you clean and this is .just one way to help you monitor what is going on.

Here are a few sites to search for your information:

There are plenty of others.

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

Internet Research - by Laura Griffith

Internet Research

by Laura Griffith

They call this day and age the Information Age. It's a time when any piece of information you might need seems to be available at the tip of your finger - or, more accurately, at the click of a mouse. Most of us can now barely remember a time when information couldn't be brought into our homes and onto our computers through the amazing technology of the Internet. That was a time when we had to go to the library and remember what we had learned about using the (gasp) card catalogs. Now, through the wonders of search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Ask, we can save hours of navigating the endless library aisles for that one book they have in on Jesse James. We simply type in his name and - voila - hundreds of websites for our viewing pleasure on the subject. No waiting in line to check out, no books out of stock, and no having to bundle up on a cold winter's day to return the book two weeks later. Seems too good to be true, doesn't it? In some ways it is a writer's salvation - and in some ways it can be our demise.

Using information on the Internet is fantastically convenient, but the danger in using it is making sure that the information you are using is reliable. One of a writer's greatest gifts is the ability to research - it's what makes our stories believable. And doing your research prevents those nasty emails from dedicated readers and critics who pick apart your book for flaws. The problem with using the Internet is that there are a lot unreliable sources out there. So, it is just as important to do research on the site you get the information from as doing the research on the story subject itself. Make sure that the site you are using is well-known for accurate information, or has been cited as accurate from a reliable source. If you are using a well-known site - like a news source, medical source, or technical source - make sure that the website is the official site of the source you are looking for. A lot of inaccuracies can come from typing in the web address incorrectly or using an incorrect extension (.com instead of .org for instance). I find it helpful to keep a list of reliable sources I have found over the years, so I am comfortable going back to those sources in the future.

One particular source that writers should be weary of is wiki's. A wiki is a source in which people can log into and type information on a subject. This is a well-known internet tool and is very good for getting ideas on where to start research on a subject. However, the information on these types of websites should not be taken at face value. It needs to be double and triple-checked for accuracy before using in a story. One person's opinion or possibly flawed research might be the difference between a believable story and one that a critic shakes his head at as far-fetched. In short, the best advice to be given on any type of internet research is this: research your research. It may take some extra time, but in the end - it will make all the difference in making your readers accept the tale you have woven for them.

Copyright 2008 - Laura Griffith

Avoiding Common Grammar Mistakes

All writers are faced with grammar mistakes. I'm very thankful for my editors!

As a writer, my main goal is to get a story to paper (or computer) without having to worry about grammar or spelling. I use a grammar checker and spell checker when I have finished a selection or chapter. However, these programs do not catch everything. It's a good idea to be aware of the most common mistakes.

According to the Houghton Mifflin Textbook, these are the top ten most common grammar mistakes:

Error #1: Lack of Subject/Verb Agreement
Error #2: Past Tense Error
Error #3: Past Participle Error
Error #4: Run-on Sentence or Comma Splice
Error #5: Sentence Fragment
Error #6: Pronoun Error
Error #7: Apostrophe Error
Error #8: Comma Error
Error #9: Illogical Verb Tense Shift
Error #10: Misplaced or Confusing Modifier

Copyright 2008 Lynn Tincher

How to be a Good Interviewee

How to be a Good Interviewee

by Lynn Tincher

Now that you have your book, artwork, etc. in the limelight, how do you handle the press that comes along with it? What will make you a good interviewee so that you can land even more press?

Email interviews are the easiest. Most of the time, a list of questions will be emailed to you and you will have a certain amount of time to answer the questions. First read through the questions, think about them. Make you sure take to time to read each part of the question and answer them honestly and completely as possible. Then go back and re-read the questions and your responses to make sure that nothing is missed and that you have said everything that you want to say.

For radio and TV, talk to the hosts to find out what types of questions that may be asked of you. Make a list of your answers to have on hand for radio and memorized for your TV interviews.

Know your audience. Make sure your responses are age appropriate or audience specific.

In TV interviews, be mindful of your appearance and mannerisms. Practice interviewing in front of the mirror or with someone you trust.

These are just a few tips to help you on your way to success.

Also, check out these great web sites for more information:

Copyright 2008 - Lynn Tincher

Writing a Thriller

The Anatomy of a Thriller

by Lynn Tincher

What makes a good thriller? The answer to that is as varied as the types of readers that read them.

How I answer that question is to make a list of the things I look for in a Thriller or Mystery novel. I make a check list and then when the story is complete, I go back and make sure the elements are there.

Here are a couple of great web sites and a fantastic article written by none other than Ian Flemming.

Tips on Writing a Thriller

Writing the Action Scene

By Ian Fleming

People often ask me, "How do you manage to think of that? What an extraordinary (or sometimes extraordinarily dirty) mind you must have." I certainly have got vivid powers of imagination, but I don't think there is anything very odd about that.

We are all fed fairy stories and adventure stories and ghost stories for the first 20 years of our lives, and the only difference between me and perhaps you is that my imagination earns me money. But, to revert to my first book, Casino Royale, there are strong incidents in the book which are all based on fact. I extracted them from my wartime memories of the Naval Intelligence Division of the Admiralty, dolled them up, attached a hero, a villain and a heroine, and there was the book.

The first was the attempt on Bond's life outside the Hotel Splendide. SMERSH had given two Bulgarian assassins box camera cases to hang over their shoulders. One was of red leather and the other one blue. SMERSH told the Bulgarians that the red one con-tained a bomb and the blue one a powerful smoke screen, under cover of which they could escape.

One was to throw the red bomb and the other was then to press the button on the blue case. But the Bulgars mistrusted the plan and decided to press the button on the blue case and envelop themselves in the smoke screen before throwing the bomb. In fact, the blue case also contained a bomb powerful enough to blow both the Bulgars to fragments and remove all evidence which might point to SMERSH.

Farfetched, you might say. In fact, this was the method used in the Russian attempt on Von Papen's life in Ankara in the middle of the war. On that occasion the assassins were also Bulgarians and they were blown to nothing while Von Papen and his wife, walking from their house to the embassy; were only bruised by the blast.

So you see the line between fact and fantasy is a very narrow one. I think I could trace most of the central incidents in my books to some real happenings.

We thus come to the final and supreme hurdle in the writing of a thriller. You must know thrilling things before you can write about them. Imagination alone isn't enough, but stories you hear from friends or read in the papers can be built up by a fertile imagination and a certain amount of research and documentation into incidents that will also ring true in fiction.

Having assimilated all this encouraging advice, your heart will nevertheless quail at the physical effort involved in writing even a thriller. I warmly sympathise with you. I too, am lazy My heart sinks when I contemplate the two or three hundred virgin sheets of foolscap I have to besmirch with more or less well chosen words in order to produce a 60,000 word book.

One of the essentials is to create a vacuum in my life which can only be satisfactorily filled by some form of creative work - whether it be writing, painting, sculpting, composing or just building a boat - I was about to get married - a prospect which filled me with terror and mental fidget. To give my hands something to do, and as an antibody to my qualms about the marriage state after 43 years as a bachelor, I decided one day to damned well sit down and write a book.

The therapy was successful. And while I still do a certain amount of writing in the midst of my London Life, it is on my annual visits to Jamaica that all my books have been written.

But, failing a hideaway such as I possess, I can recommend hotel bedrooms as far removed from your usual "life" as possible. Your anonymity in these drab surroundings and your lack of friends and distractions will create a vacuum which should force you into a writing mood and, if your pocket is shallow, into a mood which will also make you write fast and with application. I do it all on the
typewriter, using six fingers. The act of typing is far less exhausting than the act of writing, and you end up with a more or less clean manuscript The next essential is to keep strictly to a routine.

I write for about three hours in the morning - from about 9:30 till 12:30and I do another hour's work between six and seven in the evening. At the end of this I reward myself by numbering the pages and putting them away in a spring-back folder. The whole of this four hours of daily work is devoted to writing narrative.

I never correct anything and I never go back to what I have written, except to the foot of the last page to see where I have got to. If you once look back, you are lost. How could you have written this drivel? How could you have used "terrible" six times on one page? And so forth. If you interrupt the writing of fast narrative with too much introspection and self-criticism, you will be lucky if you write 500
words a day and you will be disgusted with them into the bargain. By following my formula, you write 2,000 words a day and you aren't disgusted with them until the book is finished, which will be in about six weeks.

I don't even pause from writing to choose the right word or to verify spelling or a fact. All this can be done when your book is finished.

When my book is completed I spend about a week going through it and correcting the most glaring errors and rewriting passages. I then have it properly typed with chapter headings and all the rest of the trimmings. I then go through it again, have the worst pages retyped and send it off to my publisher.

They are a sharp-eyed bunch at Jonathan Cape and, apart from commenting on the book as a whole, they make detailed suggestions which I either embody or discard. Then the final typescript goes to the printer and in due course the galley or page proofs are there and you can go over them with a fresh eye. Then the book is published and you start getting letters from people saying that Vent Vert is made by Balmain and not by Dior, that the Orient Express has vacuum and not hydraulic brakes, and that you have mousseline sauce and not Bearnaise with asparagus.

Such mistakes are really nobody's fault except the author's, and they make him blush furiously when he sees them in print. But the majority of the public does not mind them or, worse, does not even notice them, and it is a dig at the author's vanity to realise how quickly the reader's eye skips across the words which it has taken him so many months to try to arrange in the right sequence.

But what, after all these labours, are the rewards of writing and, in my case, of writing thrillers?

First of all, they are financial. You don't make a great deal of money from royalties and translation rights and so forth and, unless you are very industrious and successful, you could only just about live on these profits, but if you sell the serial rights and the film rights, you do very well. Above all, being a successful writer is a good life. You don't have to work at it all the time and you carry your office around in your head. And you are far more aware of the world around you.

Writing makes you more alive to your surroundings and, since the main ingredient of living, though you might not think so to look at most human beings, is to be alive, this is quite a worthwhile by-product of writing.
Copyright 2008 - Lynn Tincher

About Me

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The Literary Lynnch Pen is a weekly newsletter published by Lynn Tincher. About Lynn: Lynn was born in the small town of La Grange, Kentucky and grew up in Goshen. Lynn studied Theater Arts in College in hopes of becoming a Drama/English teacher. She has written articles in local newspapers and travel brochures. Now, she is focused on writing novels, short stories and poems. The second edition of her book "Afterthoughts" will be released in April of 2009 with the sequel "Left in the Dark" to be released on October of 2009. She also manages Artist Corner, an artist social website dedicated to help all artists become successful. Her eZine and website provides helpful tips and information. Lynn also provides email list management services. She has partnered with Constant Contact to help provide authors, artists, and small businesses the services to manage their email lists and marketing strategies, eZines, electronic newsletters, coupons and bulletins. Please visit:


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