Books About Writing: Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves

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books about writing, larry brooks, erick mertzBooks about writing can seem like a dime a dozen. Every author out there seems to have one. Few and far between, however, are the books about writing that actually make an impact on the quality of your work and your ability to publish it.

If you’re looking for a book that accomplishes both, enter author and story coach, Larry Brooks.

As a presenter story coach, Brooks, an acclaimed novelist, has been making the rounds at writer’s conferences for years. I have seen his presentation multiple times at The Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon, and the room is always packed.  

A powerful speaker with a charismatic vision for stories, Brooks has written an array of writing staples like Story Engineering, Story Physics, and Story Fix (offered in no particular order of preference). Each of these books about writing is worthy of your consideration.

In his latest, Great Stories Don’t Write ThemselvesBrooks tackles the elephant in the room for most writers. Is the idea good enough? Is the concept strong enough to win readers over? One of the key factors distinguishing Brooks from his peers is this: his message focuses on how to increase your odds of publishing a book.

That is, in a large majority of the cases, the end goal, right?

Brooks presents his case with considerable attention to facts. He tells is that 96% of manuscripts won’t ever be published. He says that self-publishing is not a safe haven for authors whose stories are weak, or for concepts half baked. He differentiates between literary novels and genre (his emphasis on how to write the latter). He describes how real, solid books work and breaks those down into usable advice.

At times, Brooks’ straight forward approach can be quite sobering. Yes, the odds are long. Yes, the criteria for a breakout hit are high. But, in the face of those difficult realities, he’s also the one giving the tools.

On tough, steep roads, a writer needs a guide.

In Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves, Brooks breaks a book down by its main story points. He examines each area in-depth, diving deep into what makes each one tick, what needs to happen in order for the story moment to resonate, and then shows successful examples from other books. A few times, he even uses anecdotes from his story coaching career to show instances where those beats didn’t work.

After reading those side-by-side examples, it’s hard not to see which path your book is on.

Larry Brooks is a sharp, no-nonsense kind of a writer. This book is quintessentially him, packed with great advice, nuggets of windows, and rich examples that are beyond question. Most of all, when it comes to books on writing, his voice is clear. 

If you’re going to choose one book about writing this year, make it this one. You won’t regret it.

Free “How To Hire A Ghostwriter” eBook

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I so adamantly believe that knowing how to properly conduct a ghostwriting interview is a bedrock of success that I wrote a book about the subject.

While this book doesn’t necessarily cover books about writing as this blog does, it does serve as an ideal primer for developing a professional mentality to bring to your writing.

If you would like a complimentary copy of How To Hire A Ghostwriter: Your Guide To Finding The Best Pro For Your Project all you have to do is click and download.

If you have read this book, like it, and found it helpful, please share it with some of your fellow writers and take a moment to review it either on GoodReads or Amazon.

How Do I Contact You?

how to publish a book on amazon, book publishing consultant, erick mertz, portland oregon

If you are serious about hiring a fiction editor or having your book, screenplay or non-fiction story professionally written by a ghostwriter, or you need self-publishing help, please contact me via email, or call.

Every new contact receives a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation about their ghostwriting project or manuscript consultation.

Additionally, I offer all independent and self-publishing authors a 10% discount on my already affordable services.

~~~

If you would like to read more on the topic of publishing consultant services, check out these articles.

How To Publish A Book On Amazon

How To Write A Query Letter

What Is A Query Letter

Ask A Ghostwriter – Help With Self-Publishing

The Best Self-Publishing Podcasts

Publishing Consultant For Fiction

What Goes Into Successful Fiction Books?

Is Self-Publishing On A Budget Possible?

What Type Of Editing Do I Need?

Book Layout and Design

Self Edit Your Novel

How To Write Historical Fiction

Erick MertzBooks About Writing: Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves
KEEP READING!

Jump Start Your Writing With The Power Of Book Clubs

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As writers, we have all been stuck before. Whether it’s a stubborn story beat, or the actions of a particularly difficult character, writing your best story can be an on-going challenge. Of all the “solutions” discussed out there, book clubs are rarely talked about.

Harnessed the right way, they can be very effective.

Writers Are Readers… And Book Clubs Are For Readers

Writers are, by and large, readers (at least they had better be if they expect to hone their craft). In the pages of great books, most of us found our core inspiration. I would also be willing to wager that most writers if they’re being honest, can tell you the specific books and authors influenced their current works in progress.

I can tell you right now. Stephen King.

Modern life is demanding, isn’t it? With more and more to do and the same old 24 hours in a day to do it (we really should talk to someone about changing that) often the small joys get squeezed out in favor of necessity.

You have probably heard someone bemoan the fact that they don’t have enough time to read as much as they would like to. That person maybe you. Full disclosure here, that person is often me. One of the ways people overcome this challenge is through book clubs, joining forces with a group of friends, reading a book every couple of weeks before getting together to talk about it.

Book Clubs For Writers

As a writer, book clubs can be an effective way to talk about writing. There is little pressure, too. Even if the book you choose is a bona fide classic, you can rest assured that there are going to be points within the story that begs the question:

“What was the writer thinking?”

Or…

“What could the writer have done better with their story?”

We’re full of these little critiques. That’s not a bad thing either. Those little critiques? They mean you’re creative.

Many of us can’t help harboring strong opinions, especially after reading three hundred pages. As writers, we understand that every story beat and character moment represents another writer’s choice. Once we get in front of a group, we should be brimming over with them.

Joining book clubs can help formulate those critiques and get them out of our heads. They get a writer talking constructively about the art and craft of writing and discussing creative story problems in an open forum.

Talking about a book helps me churn through difficult ideas about my own work in progress. When I practice articulating openly what works and does not work in a particular story, it refreshes a larger part of my creative process. I can talk about something I liked (or didn’t) on the page and on the ride home and use that to reflect on my story.

Then, by the time I’m back at my desk, I’m recharged and ready to look at my story problems with fresh eyes.

~~~

Do you have a book club? If so, what are your thoughts on how it affects your writing? 

If you would like to read more on the topic of writing and publishing, check out these additional articles.

How To Publish A Book On Amazon

How To Write A Query Letter

What Is A Query Letter

Ask A Ghostwriter – Help With Self-Publishing

The Best Self-Publishing Podcasts

Publishing Consultant For Fiction

What Goes Into Successful Fiction Books?

Is Self-Publishing On A Budget Possible?

What Type Of Editing Do I Need?

Book Layout and Design

Self Edit Your Novel

How To Write Historical Fiction

 

Free “How To Hire A Ghostwriter” eBook

how to publish a book on amazon, book publishing consultant, erick mertz, portland oregon

I so adamantly believe that knowing how to conduct a ghostwriting interview is a bedrock of success that I wrote a book about it.

While this book doesn’t necessarily cover how to harness the power of book clubs as this blog does, it does serve as an ideal primer for developing a professional mentality to bring to your writing.

If you would like a complimentary copy of How To Hire A Ghostwriter: Your Guide To Finding The Best Pro For Your Project all you have to do is click and download.

If you have read this book, like it, and found it helpful, please share it with some of your fellow writers and take a moment to review it either on GoodReads or Amazon.

How Do I Contact You?

how to publish a book on amazon, book publishing consultant, erick mertz, portland oregon

If you are serious about hiring a fiction editor or having your book, screenplay or non-fiction story professionally written by a ghostwriter, or you need self-publishing help, please contact me via email, or call.

Every new contact receives a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation about their ghostwriting project or manuscript consultation.

Additionally, I offer all independent and self-publishing authors a 10% discount on my already affordable services.

Erick MertzJump Start Your Writing With The Power Of Book Clubs
KEEP READING!

Writers Block? Get The Words Moving Again

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ask a ghostwriter, erick mertz writing, tips for writers block

There are no hard and fast rules for writing except for one: writers block is a real thing and nearly everyone that writes experiences it. Yes, yours truly suffers from it, too.

If you are suffering from this malady, I’m sorry. Writers block is the worst. Perhaps I can offer you a remedy?

These are my five tips for writers block.

Writers Block Tip #1: Stop Writing

Someone once told me, whenever you find yourself in a hole the first thing you do is stop digging. This is wonderful advice in so many situations, from spousal arguments to credit card debt and, of course, writing.

If you’re stuck on words or where to go next, I recommend the first thing you do is stop writing. If you have house chores, do those.

If you have a day job, maybe now is a good time to get some work done. The key is to stop hitting your head against the creative wall.

Stop. Turn yourself around. Come back when you have fresh eyes.

Tip #2: Get Some Exercise

This should feel like a reply to the question: “what should I do now?”

Physical exercise is good for us. The endorphins released with an elevated heartbeat are physiologically irreplaceable. Breaking a sweat feels good. Sense of accomplishment boosts mood.

Whatever your skill level, there is an exercise for you.

When I’m a little stuck, I walk the dog through the park. Between the fresh air and the faces and her enthusiasm, something magic happens.

If I am really ground down, I go to the gym. A little music and a good vigorous work out always seems to get my creative juices flowing again.

Writers Block Tip #3: Go For A Drive

This is another of my go to strategies: no matter the weather, rain or shine, a drive in the country breaks my stuck parts free.

Often my writing is about place. I write about rural America, so a drive out on some lonesome country highway has a way of putting me back in touch with my core subject and set of images.

If you don’t drive (or are more environmentally inclined than I am) maybe you take a bus ride? Or a bike ride?

Tip #4: Read Poetry

This one might seem outside the box, but try and hear me out.

Writing forms like fiction, screenwriting and non-fiction are often based on sets of rules. Characters are supposed to do things at certain times. Structural dogma is everywhere. Even the page has a rigid look to it.

Poetry is about… something else. Immersing yourself in a work by William Carlos Williams or ee cummings is about loose associations. There are verbal and conceptual connections in the brilliant poetry of say Emily Dickinson that simply do not exist in fiction.

You might not be writing about the same things. But if you let go and feel the way a poet treats a subject, it came help shake that rigid feeling.

When I’m feeling stuck, or I’m feeling like my writing is getting gray, I will read poetry of some kind and immerse myself in the imagery and language, finding new connections that otherwise would not come to me.

Writers Block Tip #5: Create In A Different Way

This is a powerful tip for writers block. Find a different way to express yourself, whether that is through conversation, cooking a glorious meal, drawing or painting… whatever it is, stop trying to tell a story.

You’ve probably heard this one. I don’t know how to explain it, but sometimes I feel as though when I go up and draw with my 5-year old kid, the writer side of my brain says, whoa, what about me?

Well? What about you?

The most important aspect of all tips for writers block is understanding that the page will be there when you get back. It will. If you’re in it for the long haul, writing as a way of life, then the blank page is a part of your life.

Do you have tips for writers block that you would like to share? If so, leave them in the comments. I would love to hear more

Free “How To Hire A Ghostwriter” eBook

hiring a ghostwriter, erick mertz, tips for writers block

I so adamantly believe that knowing how to conduct a ghostwriting interview is a bedrock of success that I wrote a book about it.

While this book doesn’t necessarily cover tips for writers block as this blog does, it does serve as a primer for a professional mentality with your writing.

If you would like a complimentary copy of How To Hire A Ghostwriter: Your Guide To Finding The Best Pro For Your Project all you have to do is click and download.

If you have read this book, like it, and found it helpful, please share it with some of your fellow writers and take a moment to review it either on GoodReads or Amazon.

How Do I Contact You?

tips for writers block, ghostwriting services, how to hire a ghostwriter

If you are serious about hiring a high-quality fiction editor, or having your book, screenplay or non-fiction story professionally written by a ghostwriter, or you need self-publishing help, please contact me via email, or call.

Every new contact receives a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation about their ghostwriting project or manuscript consultation.

Erick MertzWriters Block? Get The Words Moving Again
KEEP READING!

Understanding Characters – Ask A Ghostwriter

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From time to time I like to bring a guest blogger on for a fresh perspective on my bi-weekly “Ask a Ghostwriter” blog series. Today my colleague and friend, Laura Sherman offers us some advice. As a high quality professional ghostwriter, Laura has knack for character and she’s here to talk about it.

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As a story unfolds, readers feel and experience it through the actions, viewpoints and dialogue of the characters. When any author or professional ghostwriter writes a memoir or fictional novel, he or she must take care to create and develop characters that are realistic, which will resonate with their audience.

When you read a great book (and hate when you’ve reached the last page) it’s often because you’ve become best friends with the protagonist and don’t want to bid them farewell.

So, how do great authors get you to feel that way?

And how can you learn to develop memorable characters that your readers will adore?

Research Is Required

Whenever you develop a character, you will need to roll up your sleeves and do research. Consider the people you know in real life; every individual is unique. Well, it should be that way in a novel as well. Never resort to a cookie-cutter stereotype. Even as you would learn about the interests and characteristics of a new friend, you’ll need to dig in and discover or develop the idiosyncrasies of the characters in your book. They are, after all, individuals.

Your research for character mannerisms, quirks, and foibles can simply come from observing life. A writer is always viewing the world through a special lens and every interaction is potential fodder for a book. It’s not only the ordinary interplay between two people that I observe. I tend to pay special attention to those awkward moments when people misunderstand each other’s intentions or words. Life is always chock-full of learning moments, which shed light on how people behave.

Research is not limited to studying personality traits. Sometimes you will need to learn about an area of life or a vocation. For instance, if you create a fictional character who is a waiter, but haven’t spent much time in a restaurant, you’ll need to change that. You won’t understand the behavior, the lingo, and the attitudes of a server if you eat every meal at home. Your reader will pick that up, because the scene will fall flat.

Getting The Dialogue Down

Writing dialogue takes time to learn. If you haven’t studied the way people talk, spend some time just listening; you might be surprised by how people interact. As a professional ghostwriter, I often recommend to budding writers that they go to a crowded place and eavesdrop. It’s a great way to learn how people actually speak.

When I was in grade school, I was taught never to use contractions in writing. Well, that doesn’t work when you’re writing a novel or memoir (yes, I used two contractions there, I know.). People use them in life, so you need to use contractions in your writing, especially in dialogue (unless your character is an android who hasn’t been programmed to use informal language).

Keep It Real

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As you begin to study people more and more, you might notice that they tend to have distinct ways of communicating in different situations. For instance, two buddies, who have been friends for decades, might develop their own language. You will need to create some inside jokes they can share (and share with the readers). Now, those conversations will be very different from those between a husband and wife, or a boss and subordinate. Explore each relationship and develop the appropriate communication style for that particular bond.

When you first meet someone, anyone, you’re often presented with a certain façade. People tend to be polite and behave in a certain way, one that isn’t completely authentic. Over time you really get to know the person and tear down that false front. When you introduce your characters, you don’t have time for false façades—you need to dive into reality. Write your characters as if you and your readers have known them for years. Show the flaws upfront.

Some new writers feel that their “good” characters should never show faults. That’s a great way to make them two-dimensional. Good guys have bad habits and can lose it from time to time. And it’s worth pointing out that bad guys can have good moments too. After all, they rarely view themselves as bad.

If you study people and note both their good and bad qualities, it will help you write realistic characters that will resonate with readers. Give your characters a nice balance.

Creating good, realistic characters is a lot of fun for any professional ghostwriter or any author. You’ll need to dig in and do some research, listen to the way people interact, and write with reality. It’s a bit like meeting new people and learning all about them. Immerse yourself in the process; your readers will thank you for it.

Do you have tips for capturing realistic characters that you would like to share?

If so, leave them in the comments.

Free Professional Ghostwriter eBook

hiring a ghostwriter, erick mertz, hiring an editor, professional ghostwriter

I so adamantly believe that knowing how to conduct a ghostwriting interview is a bedrock of success that I wrote a book about it.

And even better yet, I’m giving that eBook away for free.

While this book doesn’t necessarily cover the topic of writing characters as this blog does, it does serve as a primer for a professional mentality with your writing.

I can’t think of a better frame of mind to be in during a conference than, I’m a professional, I know what I’m doing here.

If you would like a complimentary copy of, How To Hire A Ghostwriter: Your Guide To Finding The Best Pro For Your Project all you have to do is click and download.

If you like the book and found it helpful, please share it with some of your fellow writers and take a moment to review it either on GoodReads or Amazon.

How Do I Contact You?

If you are serious about hiring a fiction editor, or having your book, screenplay or non-fiction story professionally written by a ghostwriter, or you need self publishing help, please contact me via email, or call.

Every new contact receives a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation about their ghostwriting project or manuscript consultation.

Erick MertzUnderstanding Characters – Ask A Ghostwriter
KEEP READING!