Friday, July 08, 2011

How to Write the First Chapter of a Novel

Once a novel is planned, outlined, or plotted, it is time for the writer to sit down and start work. Writing an excellent first chapter of a novel is critical in attracting readers, not to mention agents and publishers. Many people will put down a book if it doesn’t hook them right away. This can make writing those first words intimidating. However, creating an excellent first chapter to a novel does not have to be that nerve-wracking, with these tips.

Start With Action

The first chapter doesn’t need to start in the middle of a battle, but there should be something happening. Lengthy descriptions of the scenery and clothing that the characters are wearing are the hallmark of a new writer. Few people can describe the scene in a way that is particularly interesting. Start the first chapter at the point where the main plot is beginning, and start at a point that something is happening.

Don’t Stop to Edit

No author writes perfect first drafts. In fact, it will take longer to edit a book than to write the original draft. Remember that when sitting down to write the first chapter of a novel. It is not supposed to be perfect and that is okay. The important thing is to get the story down on paper so that it can be edited and polished. When beginning a novel, just worry about telling the story. Don’t stop and edit until the first draft is complete.

Study Favorite Books

Almost every writer has a few books that inspired them, so why not make use of these great teachers? Take a look at the first chapter of any favorite books. Try to figure out what makes them so special. How are the characters introduced? What are they doing? While there are many helpful books on how to write fiction, actual novels can be the most useful learning tool for a new fiction writer.

Be Prepared to Cut


Many writers, particularly beginners, tend to write too much backstory at the beginning of their novel. Writers should study their first chapter carefully and ask themselves if this is where the story really begins. Does the reader need to know all of that information to enjoy the story? It may be necessary to cut the entire first chapter, or even the first few. That doesn’t mean they were a waste to write -- those opening efforts help writers get into their story and tell the rest.

Like any skill, writing is all about practice. The more a writer works on their craft, the better their stories will become. It may even take several novels before a writer can create a publishable one. But if they do not get the first chapter down on paper, they will never have that chance.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Using Demand Media Studios to Supplement Your Income

Demand Studios is a website that hires freelance writers, editors, and filmmakers to create content for the web. They provide this content to a variety of websites, including eHow, LiveSTRONG, and USA Today. While many websites pay for their content with residual payments, Demand Studios offers the advantage of upfront payments for each piece they accept.

How to Write For Demand Studios

To apply for freelance writing work at Demand Studios, writers must submit a resume and writing sample. Links to other web content are also acceptable. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and citizens of the United States. The time that it takes for a Demand Studios application to be approved or rejected will vary, depending on how many other applications have been submitted and how many openings are available.

Once you have been accepted to write for DMS, you can apply to write for special sections under the "Account" tab. These special projects typically have higher paying articles than the general eHow titles that new writers are automatically approved to write.

Choosing Demand Studios Titles

New writers can log onto their Demand Studios profile and click the “Find Assignments” link to look for topics to write about. Writers begin with the ability to claim ten titles at a time. If they are not completed within one week, they expire and return to the open list for other writers to claim. Titles are typically posted for either $5 or $15, so take note of the purchase price before claiming a title. If the subject requires extensive research, a $5 payment may not be worth the time.

For the maximum benefit, choose multiple titles on a similar theme. If it is a subject area that the writer is already knowledgeable about, the articles can be submitted quickly. However, if the titles require research then it will save time to research a group of articles on the same topic.

Benefits of Writing Freelance Articles for Demand Studios

  • Upfront payments will generate cash faster than websites which pay residuals.
  • There is not a required minimum amount of work. Take on extra projects as needed and stop writing if a more lucrative writing gig comes along.
  • There are not a maximum number of articles. If a writer has the time and their articles are approved, they can continue to write as much as they want.
  • Payments are made to Paypal every Tuesday and Friday. Any titles that are edited by Sunday night at midnight PST are paid on Tuesday, and titles that are approved by Wednesday night are paid on Fridays.
  • The most common "How To" format pays at least $15 per article, depending on what site it is written for, and many writers can complete these assignments in 30 minutes.
  • Freelance writing for Demand Studios can be fun and engaging. There is a strong community of writers to interact with.

Downsides of Freelancing for Demand Studios

  • The title selection is often poor.
  • There is a limit to the number of article titles that can be claimed at a time.
  • Review times for submitted articles can vary. These articles are reviewed by freelance copy editors, so they are only approved as fast as the editors choose to work.
  • Writers no longer have the ability to suggest their own topics.

Writing for Demand Studios may not be the best option for all freelance writers. However, it can provide fast cash flow to people who need a little extra to make ends meet. Once writers learn the style guides for each article type, they are easy to write and research. Demand Studios can fit around other commitments and queries for any writer with spare time.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

How to Create Voices for Fictional Characters

Many writers struggle to create unique and realistic dialogue for their characters. Dialogue can help show a character’s personality and background. Once a writer masters the basics of dialogue, such as punctuation, he or she should focus on learning to make their dialogue more natural. One of the key elements to writing truthful dialogue is to have each character’s voice be unique and identifiable.

Listen to People


People are naturally familiar with the way they speak, so when beginning fiction writers try to create dialogue, it often resembles their own speech patterns. One way to become more attuned to the voices of others is to take a day to people watch. Find a busy public place to sit down with a notebook and listen to the snippets of conversation nearby people are having. Pay attention to the cadence and word choice.

For writers that are uncomfortable listening to strangers, they can also make an effort to focus on how their friends and family members speak.

Study Published Works

Every writer has authors, books, and characters that inspire them. Find a few of these books and study them. Spend time taking notes about what the writer did to create distinct voices. Read the best passages a few times, paying attention to how the author translated speech to the page.

A favorite work of fiction can also be used to practice dialogue writing. Try writing a conversation between two favorite fictional characters. Try to make the voices sound true to the style of the original author. Writing fan fiction like this can actually help a writer develop their own skills by spending time writing in another voice.

Read the Dialogue Out Loud

Dialogue is meant to be spoken. After writing a passage, try reading it out loud to make sure it has a natural feeling to it. Does the line sound like something the character would actually say?

Brave writers may want to share their dialogue with a friend. Getting a second opinion from a neutral third party can help to assess if the dialogue sounds natural. A friend can also let the writer know if he or she has put too much of his own voice into the passage.

Keep Dialect to a Minimum

Few novel writers have an extraordinary talent for writing dialect. Many new writers make the mistake of adding too much. Choose one or two words in a sentence to change. This way, the writer will get a sense of how the character speaks without having to struggle to understand what they are actually saying.

Effective, unique dialogue can only lead to a more interesting novel. A well-written character can be identified even when there are no dialogue tags. Remember that fictional characters are people too -- just people that don’t exist yet.