Use a “Fat Outline” for Powerful Writing

FAT OUTLINE FINAL
Click to enlarge image.

Okay, everybody knows about outlines. I used the letters-and-numbers version above. Bureaucracies, of course, like the specificity of decimals, “Please refer to section 1.1.4.5.” MSWord will automatically format these for you, if it doesn’t drive you nuts in the process by refusing to do it any other way.

I also freely admit that I never start my writing with an outline. But like Dean Lappi in his IU article, To Outline or Not to Outline,  I always reach a stage in my project when I start an outline, because it’s impossible to keep it all straight in my head. My outlines in the past have been linear, like the left-hand column above.

We’re Always Improving

However, I have just learned about another kind of outline that has the potential to change my writing style for the better, so I’m sharing it with you. It’s called the Fat Outline. Continue reading “Use a “Fat Outline” for Powerful Writing”

Where’s the Theme in Your Book?

Okay, everyone knows that great works of literature have important themes. “Red Badge of Courage,” “Les Miserables,” “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” You know the ones. But what about your Space Opera?

Why Bother?

“It’s just fiction,” you protest. “It’s entertainment. People don’t want to be preached at. Why should I bother my readers with a theme?” Well, you’ve got the preaching part right, but no matter how focused on entertainment a story may be… Continue reading “Where’s the Theme in Your Book?”

Be Vigilant When Publishing Book Titles

Girl at computer cryingI’m in the middle of dealing with several clients (one of whom is myself!) who have made errors when entering book titles on Amazon. This is how it goes:

The Fatal Error

You enter an eBook in Kindle Direct Publishing. You put up the title, subtitle, author, etc. and all goes well. It goes so well you think now you’ll get some print copies to sell locally, give away as prizes, etcetera, so you do a softcover edition. You used to go to Createspace for this, but now you just go to Kindle Direct Publishing and it’s all done in one place. Which is probably better, because I think they now use exactly the same book information entry form, the lack of which was what caused my problem in the first place. Continue reading “Be Vigilant When Publishing Book Titles”

Monkeys on Typewriters: Creativity vs Grammar

Ape using a typewriter
Yes, we know this is an ape, not a monkey.

Creativity walks a tightrope. If you are not creative enough, your readers will be bored. If you are too creative, your readers will be mystified.

“Oh!” says the Creative Soul. “That’s what I want. I want my reader to be mystified.”

Not this way, you don’t. I mean mystified as in “mixed up, baffled, confounded, deceived and perplexed.” None of these are particularly happy emotions, especially “deceived.”

Yes, there is a challenge in reading a piece of work that sets a puzzle you must solve in order to understand it. For many experienced readers, the joy of solving the puzzle is a great part of the pleasure of reading. Witness the popularity of Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

But… Continue reading “Monkeys on Typewriters: Creativity vs Grammar”