Dragonfly Words

Engaging the Reader Through ‘Prime Real Estate’

July 31, 2010
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I read an interesting article last night called Prime Real Estate. The articles looks at the key areas you need to pay special attention to so as to keep your reader engaged. The prime real estate areas are:

  • The first page of your novel
  • The first paragraph of a new chapter
  • The last paragraph of a chapter

I’d always kept the first page and the last paragraph of a chapter in the back of my mind as important sections, but somehow I’d never put much thought into the first paragraph of a new chapter, but it makes sense. Your last paragraph of a chapter will only keep the reader reading if the first paragraph of the new chapter is equally engaging. Otherwise, the reader will just put the book down, the last thing you want. I know I’ve put several books down and never returned. Now I feel like I should go back and reread the prime real estate parts of books I’ve abandoned along with books I couldn’t put down so that I can see how other writers handle their prime real estate.


Developing your Character through Motivation

July 31, 2010
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Here’s a nice article about character develop. It explains an easy way to ensure that your character develops throughout the story.

via Writer’s Digest – Motivate Your Characters Like a Pro.

Online ‘choose your own adventure’ style books

July 30, 2010
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Simon & Schuster will be releasing an online, serialized novel, Loser/Queen where readers (young adults) get to vote on what will happen next. Having been a huge fan of the choose your own adventure books, I can see the appeal to such a format. But as a writer, it stresses me out.

Readers vote by 5 pm Thursdays. A new chapter is posted on Mondays. That’s pretty quick turn around. I assume that, like a television show, multiple chapters are already written, but the fact that there are two choices at the end of the chapter, and who knows how many chapters means that a lot of content would need to be pre-written that will never see the light of the computer screen. Additionally, based off of reader responses, minor characters could take on a more major part if the readers are particularly drawn to a character, which leads to even more changes. If writing a traditional book often seems like an out-of-control beast, I can’t imagine what this project must feel like to the author, Jodi Lynn Anderson. That’s a lot of creative control she is giving up. But then, the price is a huge platform ready and waiting when the book publishes. It’s not even finished and you can already pre-order the paperback edition.

Which leads to another question. Will people want to buy a book that they have already read for free? I’m inclined to say yes, because people like owning something they were a part of. The readers voting on the book will feel that they invested something into it, and they will want the hard copy to show their hard work. But will those who didn’t vote, or who came in on the final chapter, feel the inclination to buy it? Will potential readers who did not have the opportunity to vote feel left out? And isn’t this just adding to the technology addiction that’s running rampant across society?

I’ve gotta say though, Simon & Schuster did grab my attention, and I will definitely be following along with Anderson’s readers to see where it goes.

When should you find an agent?

July 29, 2010
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This is a question that has been plaguing me for a while – when is it appropriate for me to start looking for an agent. As a first time I author, I have been inclined to wait until the book is complete. After all, if I’m not even sure I can finish it (though I’ve been working a lot harder as of late), how is an agent supposed to know if I’m a waste of time or a sure thing? Not only would the agent be gambling on my ability to craft a good story that people want to read, but they would have to throw into the mix my discipline and whether I could even produce a final product.

But I’ve gotten mixed reviews. I’ve been told that so long as I have three good chapters, I should be good to go, or that I shouldn’t waste my time writing unless I get positive feedback on a query. The following article, Book Writing and Publishing FAQ – Do I Need to Write My Book Before I Try to Get an Agent or Publisher?, made me feel a lot less conflicted. Turns out my initial instinct is the way to go, or at least according to the author of the article. At least that removes the pressure of finding an agent right now and instead allows me to continue focusing on finishing the darn book.

Do e-books signal the end for Independent booksellers?

July 29, 2010
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One of the biggest losses to the book community is that of small, independent bookstores. I love them so much that one of my dreams has always been to open an independent bookstore of my own. While the fancy coffee drinks and perfectly placed chairs at the large chains contribute to the book shopping experience in their own way, there is a generic feel to them that takes away from the experience. Give me a ratty chair, shelves crammed with books, and good cup of coffee or tea and I would be far happier, even if I am paying a bit more for my books.

The following article from Boston Business Journal, Independent bookseller at ‘War and Peace’ with e-books, questions whether e-books are further exasperating the problem of the loss of the independent bookseller. The conclusion suggests that the average customer of the independent bookseller is not the average customer of e-books. Do you think this is actually the case?

I still love a real book, but frankly I don’t have the space to buy any more unless I find them to be extremely readworthy. The younger generations are growing up storing all of their data electronically.Why waste the space storing CDs, DVDs, or books when there are devices that can hold it all and them some and barely take up any space? I bet if we could store our clothing inside an eletronic device and have it projected onto our bodies, most of the younger generations would buy into it in a heartbeat.

This is not to say that I think e-books will wipe out real books. There will always be those who love real books, myself included. Perhaps, though, the e-books will work in favor of the independent booksellers by shifting the focus of the large chains towards carrying more and more e-books and less and less hard copies. Maybe e-books are actually the resurrection of the independent bookseller. Wouldn’t that be something?

Guide to Literary Agents – Some Tips for Writing a Series

July 29, 2010
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Nice article about writing a series: Guide to Literary Agents – Some Tips for Writing a Series.

News for Kids

July 28, 2010
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In my attempts to enter the minds of kids, I’ve been spending a lot of time perusing children news sources, which are surprisingly abundant. One recent find was an article in National Geographic Kids, Beelzebufo: A Giant of a Find. Talk about great inspiration. After all, what’s cooler than a frog the size of a beach ball?

In other news, a bear in New Hampshire ‘rescued’ a stuffed bear being held captive by humans. Read about it here.

Finally, a boat made out of plastic crossed the Atlantic.

You’ve gotta love the inspiration you can get from bizarre happenings in the world.