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40 video/audio lessons that take you step-by-step from idea to finished novel, taught by an award-winning, best-selling novelist and nationally acclaimed writing teacher. Easy, understandable, foundation elements essential for every genre. Learn Skills, Secrets and most of all... Story.

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A great book isn't written. . .it's rewritten. Learn how to analyze and fix your novel’s problems with this unique “self-editing” system. . .then arm yourself with over 40 Advanced Fiction Classes and rewrite your story into publication.

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You’ve worked too hard to quit now. Your story is nearly ready, but now it’s time to sell your novel. Learn the steps to creating a powerful proposal, secrets to pitching, the key elements to your marketing plan, a social media primer and how to create rabid reader fans. It’s time to ignite your career.

Writing Sexual Content in Our Stories

Rachel HauckWell now that I have your attention…

Let’s talk about writing sex. Or not writing sex. But finding the balance of showing male-female attraction in our stories.

I happened upon a piece not to long about by an up and coming author and well, she kind of over reached on the sexual attraction.

The hero spent most of his internal dialog thinking sexual thoughts toward the heroine and while we all understand men are visual, in this context, the hero came across shallow and unlikeable.

In story, emotion is king.

It doesn’t matter than men are aroused visually. Or that they like a nice cut of cleavage or a nice shot of a thigh peeking from under a short skirt, what matters is how the reader feels.

If our hero and heroine meet physically first, the emotional element is cauterized.

Let your hero and heroine reveal their heart first before taking the relationship to a physical level.

When I read novels that lead with a physical observation (which isn’t often) I am turned off. The characters are instantly shallow to me.

If the story opens with, “Man, she was hot,” I want to close the book.

But if the story opens with, “Man, he never expected to meet a woman like her today,” I’m intrigued.

I want to see what captured his attention.

I want to know why he didn’t expect to meet someone.

Did he just break up with the love of his life? Or did she break up with him?

That sort of opening line has all kinds of implications about the hero.

But “Man, she was hot,” does not invite me into his heart and mind at all.

In the inspirational market, we’re challenged by the world to add more sexual content.

Yet challenged by the Word and by our readers to be modest and conservative.

Some authors feel the sexual boundaries should be pushed and tested.

I don’t see the added value of pushing sexual content. Even if it’s to show healthy sexual relationships.

Because in the end, writing descriptively about sex only awakens desires that may or may not be slaked.

Just because people are married in the story doesn’t make it more holy to write descriptively.

But sexual desire and tension is real. Our characters should have sexual attraction.

Just don’t start there. Write about the people, the emotion of the story, first.

Keep your descriptions modest. Maybe imagine someone reading it out loud to your kids, your family, your Mama or Grandmama.

Or… you know, Jesus.

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Introduce your characters from the heart first. Let us meet their emotions, how they think or feel about the other.
  • The more you build up the tension between the characters, the more exciting the slightest touch can be. Like holding hands.
  • Employ third grade play ground tactics like teasing, slight shoulder bumps and comedy to build sexual tension.
  • Make the hero a true hero. He may “want” the heroine but instead of pushing for his desires, he politely walks the heroine to the door, kisses her sweetly and leaves.
  • While writing internal thoughts, make sure the hero and heroine note spiritual, emotional and intellectual attributes of the other as well as the physical ones. It’s great Jack and Jill are getting together but he has to bring something more to the table than his luscious full lips.
  • Ask God for help. He invented sex.
  • Use metaphor to show sexual tension. But be careful here. We don’t want to read Song of Solomon type of stuff.
  • Keep it simple. Keep it real.
  • I like to tie physical touch to emotions. For example, “His kiss purchased a piece of her melancholy.” We get the picture that his touch made her feel better, perhaps loved.

Hope this helps. Don’t want to be a prude but want us to think about how we show sexual tension in our stories.

Go write something brilliant

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Brainstorming the Villain Persona

Photo by ba1969

Photo by ba1969

Villains bring the whole creepy factor to your novel. Sometimes villains are devious and brilliant, other times they are crass and brutish. But one thing they all have in common is that they have a public persona.

What exactly do I mean by public persona?

A villain’s public persona is the image they project to the community. We often hear of killers who fooled everyone around them. They were model citizens, community leaders and the perfect family man. Maybe they skulk through dark alleys, avoid any contact with someone who might recognize them, or generally dislike interacting with people.

Brainstorming the villain persona is a key element to developing their point of view scenes and the way that they threaten your hero/heroine.

Questions To Ask When Brainstorming the Persona of a Villain:

*Do they prefer public attention or invisibility?

This component is essential to determine because it will impact the actions and proximity opportunities for the villain. Research profiles of these types of villains so you can best fit their persona to their psychological makeup.

*How do they get attention or stay invisible?

The public attention seeking villain will be a leader in the community, or run for public office. If there is a desire to stay invisible, there are actions taken to keep away any attention. This villain also will also find any public attention as an obstacle.

*What community functions or activities are they involved in or conversely, which ones do they avoid?

Identifying if they are a deacon at their church, running for mayor, or simply flip burgers on the night shift is key to determining what opportunities will arise for the villain to access, threaten, or plot against the hero/heroine.

*What gives my villain a thrill?

The public persona of the villain often informs what gives the villain the greatest rush. Once you identify their preferences you are able to pull in their moments of euphoric rush

What is the most interesting element of the public persona of a known villain that you’ve heard of?

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Thank you! in typewriter

A Different Perspective on Social Media

I teach social media to writers all over the country. Beyond that, I field a lot of questions about etiquette. I try to get to everything in a timely fashion, but sometimes you need the information right away. Today I’d like you to get a new perspective on social media and show you how that may give you the insight you need.

As writers, we tend to use social media from the perspective of people wanting to get information to an audience. We also use it to grow our platforms. We evaluate the time we spend online from the perspective of ROI (return on investment), looking at time and money invested.

Today I’d like to invite you to evaluate your own social media interaction from the point of view of the audience.

To do that, we have to put ourselves into the shoes of the consumer. We must understand why they’re online in the first place. In general, there are several reasons that aren’t work related:

  • They’re here to have fun.
  • They’re building new relationships.
  • They’re looking for entertainment.
  • They need information.

So how do we analyze what we’re doing on social media in relation to what our audience is looking for? I’ve come up with a short list of things to ask yourself before you hit the post button.

  • Would I share this update if I saw it posted elsewhere?
  • Does this update answer a question my audience has?
  • Will this make someone’s life better?
  • Is this something that builds a deeper relationship?
  • Will this make someone laugh?
  • Does anyone really care about this?

But no matter what we’re posting, I encourage you to follow Edie’s 5 – 1 rule for social media:

For every 5 social media updates on a specific network, we are allowed 1 update about ourselves.

Definition for Update about Ourselves: Something promoting me and/or my product (blog post, guest post, book, speaking engagement, etc.)

I know these suggestions may seem like a small shift in the way we view social media, but it can make a big difference.

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