It's a fact that all writers will have to deal with negative reviews at some point in their lives. It's also a fact that these reviews can hurt us writers more than the reviewer knows possible. So, here are my top five tips on dealing with the criticism that is sometimes so hard to swallow.
1. We're All Different
No two people are identical. We all have our own opinions and that is what makes life so beautiful. However, this also means that our work won't appeal to everyone and that's okay! Everyone has a different view on what makes a great book, which is why there are hundreds of incredible genres to lose yourself in. If your style of writing isn't to a person's taste, so be it!
2. Look at the Positives
When we are first presented with a one star review, that is generally all we can see. That lone star can often blind our vision to the point that we discount the many five star reviews we have already acquired. Don't beat yourself up about it. Even J.K. Rowling has her own share of negative reviews. A great tip I was given, is to read a good review for every bad review you receive. Doing this helps to put the bad review into perspective.
3. Read Between the Lines
As difficult as it might be to accept, a bad review might well be justified. Try to digest the review from an impartial person's perspective. If the review states that the storyline feels weak in parts, maybe consider reading over your manuscript to see if in fact that's true. Sometimes, negative reviews can help us to improve our writing for the better.
4. It's Not Personal
When the majority of reviewers leave reviews, both good and bad, they don't generally put much thought into how the author will react to their opinion. They are simply reviewing a product that they have purchased as they would any other and they have every right to do so. Coming to the realisation that a bad review is just a single person's opinion of your work as a 'product' is crucial for any writer.
5. Some People are Just Mean
Humans like to vent and some people go as far as making this a hobby. I once read a study that showed people are ten times as likely to write a review about something they disliked over something they have enjoyed. There are people out there who get a kick out of putting other people down. Twitter trolls are a perfect example of this in action. Reviews from such people are generally very easy to spot. They rip apart a book in an almost comical fashion. Unfortunately, when we put our work out into the world, we have to accept that there's a risk of this happening. Always remember that there's a huge difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism.
Negative reviews will always be the bugbear of writers the world over, but learning how to deal with them makes it so much more manageable. If you have any of your own tips on dealing with the dreaded one star, please share them in the comment section below!
We all have a favourite character. Some we read about and others we write for ourselves, but what makes that special protagonist stand out from the rest? Undoubtedly, every reader/writer will have their own opinion on what it takes to create a character the rest of the world will fall in love with, but here are my own tips on doing just that.
1. It's All in the Name
Naming your characters can almost be as difficult as naming your children. After all, their name is generally the first thing our readers will discover about our protagonist. When choosing that all-important name, consider who you want your character to be. They say that people judge books by their covers, but subconsciously, we can also judge characters on their names.
2. Flaws are Beautiful
A flawed personality is always going to be more intriguing than a perfect one. If our protagonist is perfect and destined to continue to be perfect, there isn't a story to discover. There isn't any intrigue or suspense in what led the character to become the way they are. The mystery surrounding our protagonist can be big or small, but we don't want our characters to be perfect, we want them to be real.
3. Be Relatable
The majority of readers want to see a part of themselves in the book they are immersed in and creating a character that is relatable is the best way to do that. Reflecting some of your own personality traits onto the protagonist can help to ensure that the character has attributes other people will connect with.
4. Ordinary can be Extraordinary
Not all narratives require a protagonist that is superhuman and so out of this world that they become unbelievable. Sometimes, simply developing a main character that is as normal as you and me is enough.
5. Potential is Key
For me, this is the most important factor. Having a character that has the potential to grow with the narrative is essential. We all mature over time and our characters are no different. When you first pen your protagonist, keep one eye on the future and leave room in their character to evolve over time. After all, time changes all of us, in both good ways and bad. This natural evolution opens doors to storylines we never believed possible when we first put pen to paper, so don't limit yourself when laying the groundwork for your protagonist.
Creating a protagonist is both exciting and nerve-wrecking. Making your readers fall in love with your main character is the first step in writing a successful book, therefore, getting the protagonist spot on is essential. So, get your thinking cap on and create a whole new person for the world to want a piece of!
When I sat down to write Meet Clara Andrews, I had absolutely no idea that it would quickly evolve into a nine book series. Over the course of three years, I took Clara and the gang through the minefields of dating, the joys of motherhood, Barbados, America and beyond. I often get asked how I managed to keep my readers interested along the way. So, read on for my top five tips on writing a successful book series...
Continuity errors are one of the main things to watch out for when writing a series. As you move from book to book, it can be very easy to forget events that have happened in previous novels. In order to combat this, I find it extremely useful to create a spreadsheet of information surrounding every character, each location used and pivotal storylines. This prevents any awkward moments where a character's history changes mid-series. These little continuity errors can be easily missed by the writer, but will leave the reader wondering what went wrong.
2. Change the Setting
If you have reached a point in your series where you are running out of ideas, switching up the setting can help you to get the creative juices flowing again. Pop your characters on a plane and discover a whole new world of storylines that are just waiting to be explored. Try it, you might be surprised where it takes you...
3. Change Your Perspective
As above, when you feel as though your storyline is becoming stale, consider telling the story from another character's perspective. Simply looking at things from someone else's point of view can bring a whole new dynamic to your series.
4. Listen to Your Reviews
No writer likes to read negative reviews on their work and I am no exception. However, there is a difference between destructive reviews and constructive reviews. Constructive criticism can play a crucial role in deciding where to take your story to next. If your readers show a strong liking for a particular character, focus your narrative around them and consider leaving the more unpopular characters behind.
5. Keep Improving
Aim to make each addition to the series better than the last. One of the biggest concerns for me is losing the reader's interest as the story progresses. Putting as much effort into the next book as you did to the first is essential. If you lose interest in your story, the chances are so will your readers. Keep it fresh, keep it current and always keep the passion that inspired you to put pen to paper in the first place.
There aren't any rules on how long your book series should be. If your readers are still wanting more, you can rest assured that you're onto a winning formula. If it isn't broke, don't fix it!
If you have any tips of your own for writing a successful book series, please share them below!
We've all heard about it, some of us are unfortunate enough to have experienced it for ourselves, but how often do we talk about ways to break through it?
The dreaded writer's block is the product of nightmares for writers the world over and we all have our own unique ways of trying to conquer it. So, after a week of mindlessly staring at a blank computer screen, I decided enough was enough.
If, like me, you are losing in your battle against WB, read on for some useful tips that have helped me in the past when I thought my creativity was impossible to bring back.
1. Walk Away
Stop fighting it. Staring at an empty page in frustration doesn't help anyone. The more annoyed you become with yourself, the heavier the brain fog will become. Removing yourself from the story, the characters and the computer, gives your brain time to recharge and focus on something else. Go for a walk, have a bite to eat or take a long soak in the bath. Once you feel as though you have completely relaxed and recharged, return to the laptop with fresh eyes. Sometimes, you just need a break in order to look at things from a new perspective.
2. Jump Forward
Hit that enter key and take yourself to a different segment of the storyline. Developing future parts of the narrative can sometimes give you the answer that you're looking for. Don't be afraid of using a non-linear method of writing. Not everything has to happen in chronological order. Break the rules and write your work backwards. If it helps you to overcome a sticky point in the plot, who cares?
If you feel as though you have explored every possible avenue and still can't break past the brick wall, speak up and ask others for their input. Just hearing what your friends, family, or other writers would do with your characters can sometimes be enough to get your own ideas flowing again. Of course, you don't have to take their advice, but their words might just be enough to trigger your own flow.
4. Make a List
This is one of my favourite methods in dealing with writer's block. On those days where I feel ready for throwing my laptop out of the window, I grab a notepad and make a list of all the scenarios which I don't want to unfold. Throwing down the most outrageous ideas on paper not only makes me laugh, it also sends me back into writer mode. Using your imagination to create outlandish and unbelievable scenes, tunes in your mental clarity and brings back the focus you need to work with your characters again.
5. Don't Sweat It
As important and crucial as our writing is to us, don't beat yourself up if you find yourself struggling with a particular part of the manuscript. It's no secret that writing isn't easy, but the water can't flow until the faucet is turned on. If you are stressed, annoyed or anxiety-ridden with your temporary lack of creative flow, the chances are it will show in your writing. A successful writing day doesn't necessarily mean thousands of words on the page. Sometimes, it can be as simple as pushing past a plot hurdle that yesterday seemed impossible. Just keep calm, keep smiling and most importantly, keep on writing!
So, there you have it. My five top tips for conquering writer's block. I hope you find these useful and if you have any other hints or tips that have worked for you, please feel free to share them below.