Thursday, August 31, 2017

3 Habits of Prolific Writers

Continue to read an excerpt or click here for the full article.

Prolific writer is one of those terms that is difficult to nail down. The word prolific just means: productive, abundant, or creative. In other words, we may “know it when we see it,” but the meaning is subjective. It’s a quality that requires comparison. And by comparison, history has delivered some very prolific authors. Interestingly, a review the top forty prolific writers, reveals many names you might not recognize.
Sometimes the reason may be as in the case of the German author, Rolf Kalmuczak who wrote over 2,900 novels but did so under over one hundred pen names. In other cases, such as Barbara Cartland’s 772 novels, the unfamiliarity may be because you’ve never endeavored to read romance. But there are other names, such as Isaac Asimov and his 506 books, you may know even if you’ve only experienced his stories in movies (Bicentennial Man and iRobot). The numbers, however, make the modern day prolific writers such as Stephen King (plus 100) and Nora Roberts (plus 213) seem almost lazy.
Although one could certainly argue that quality is of greater value than quantity, the list of “who’s who” in the most prolific writers club, has plenty of quality. Of course, back here on the planet, “Lord let me just get one book out a year,” being more productive is a consistent theme for many modern authors.
When asked “how” they produced so many books, most prolific writers fall back to advice on character development, confidence in the work, or as Muriel Spark suggested, get a cat. The question of “how” appears as difficult to answer as the question of “inspiration.”
It is not that these authors are holding back some secret, it’s that they, themselves, can’t answer to the exact mechanism that creates such production.  But, within their processes lies some consistency that might hold the key. There are things you can identify that seem almost—there aren’t any absolutes in most things—universal to all prolific writers.
1. Prolific Writers Are Prolific Readers
The one consistent behavior of the most productive writers is that they are prolific readers. Their love of writing stems from a love of reading. And most are known for not just reading a few books, but an enormous amount of books. To be a prolific writer, you need to have a lot of ideas, and there is no better way to find new ideas than exposure to . . . Ideas. An additional benefit is that exposure to different styles and plots also improves a writer’s own crafting of style and plots. Plus, if you want to know what good writing looks like then you have to read it.
Does that mean an author should read Classics? First, any reading is better than no reading. But one psychological theory on learning suggests that“hearing an incorrect answer” can lead to providing the wrong response in the future. In short, we remember the question and the first response regardless of the validity of the reply. Additionally, much learning is the result of modeling. So exposure plays a role in how we learn. The better the teacher, the more opportunity for the student to advance. Exposure to the Classics provides a writer with a greater opportunity to improve their storytelling than exposure to comic books.
2. Habit Over Inspiration

E.B. White wrote,  “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” Prolific writers have a severe writing habit. They write every day. They . . .

*Originally posted on by Raymond Esposito

Monday, August 28, 2017

Are You Really Ready to Publish Your Book?

Knowing when you’re ready to publish can be difficult. In this episode of The Writers’ Podcast, we take a hard look at the ways to determine if you are ready to publish your book. We also discuss the eight questions every writer should ask and answer before they hit that publish button.
I'll share the YouTube link, as it's easier to share on Blogger than the audio file. But below you'll find the links to other options.

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*Originally posted on

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Creating Your Character – A Checklist

                                                    Continue to read an excerpt or click here for the full article.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that characters are kind of big deals when it comes to fiction writing. They’re the heart of the story and the main reason our readers gift us with hours of their lives. Let’s face it: without characters, the reading experience wouldn’t really be electrifying. Like, at all. May as well hand them a book on mathematical physics, I say.

I mean, sure, some readers enjoy plot-driven stories, but almost every great story is about the people. Even a fantastic plot-driven book would feel empty without well-developed characters. Why? Because there’s nothing like connecting with a story on an emotional level. And having rich, layered characters in your book is the way you achieve that. How? By making them realistic. I know, I know. This goes without saying . . . but it’s best to add a reminder. Just in case.
Readers need to care about your characters. And that won’t happen if your character is not believable. So how do we make our characters realistic? Well, in simple terms: humanize them. Give them flaws, hopes, fears, skills, and weaknesses that real people have.
Characters take us inside our made-up world. They create empathy, fear, disgust, confusion, amusement, make us fall in love, and in the end, they either make us happy or they break our hearts. Some characters stay with us, while the rest get lost in a pit of oblivion. So don’t be that guy. The one who writes “pit of oblivion” characters. Instead, see if this checklist has any tips that resonate with you, turn you off, or inspire your next superstar of a character.

Your Character’s Checklist in Six Parts:


  • As the author, you should know your character’s name, age/DOB, and sex (not “yes” or “no,” but “male” or “female” 😛 )
  • Make sure the name fits your character’s profile. For example, Satan’s name wouldn’t be Mickey since it wouldn’t even intimidate a puppy.
  • Know your character’s occupation, where he lives, what he drives, and his position amongst his peers, family, etc.

*Originally posted on

Monday, August 21, 2017

Writer’s Imposter Syndrome

What is the difference between issues of self-confidence and Imposter Syndrome? In episode four, we discuss these distinctions and provide remedies to become a more confident writer.
I'll share the YouTube link, as it's easier to share on Blogger than the audio file. But below you'll find the links to other options.

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*Originally posted on

Thursday, August 17, 2017

3 Ways a Lack of Research Will Ruin Your Book

Continue to read an excerpt or click here for the full article.
I remember the first time that I was interviewed for a national publication. I experienced a mixture of nervousness and excitement. Being interviewed as an “expert” in your field is a great opportunity, but I worried I might sound dumb or unprofessional. In preparation, I did extensive homework. I made certain I had all my talking points prepared, facts on hand, and a quick introduction and conclusion, in case either were required.
The interview itself lasted about thirty minutes. The article’s author asked me questions, probed topics with follow-up questions, all the while providing encouragement with well-placed “uh-huh” and “interesting.” At the conclusion, she assured me that it had been an excellent interview and she had learned much from me on the topic. All my preparation seemed to have paid off.
A few months later the article was published. I was at first astonished and then disappointed.
Thirty minutes of conversation appeared as three quotes in the article.
As you can imagine, my initial reaction was: WTF did I spend all that time for if they just needed three damn sentences from me?
My second reaction: What an incredible waste of my time! I so could have just winged it.
Later, with my ego sequestered to a quiet place, I reread the article. And I discovered that my three lines provided valuable, if not critical, points to the piece. The author had done a great job summarizing that thirty-minute discussion into its most salient points and driving those points home with my quotes.
The specific information I provided worked to support the whole of the article.  Yes, my input was secondary to article’s main contention but no less critical in supporting the contention. I was one piece of the total research the author had conducted. She had done her job well.
The lesson I learned I later applied to my fiction writing.
Fiction is, in its simplest form, a series of lies. We start with one lie and build other lies upon it. Imaginary people doing things that never happened, and often in places that never existed.
But great fiction isn’t untruth…it’s a bending of the truth.
Fiction operates between our world and the world of pure imagination. For it to make sense to the reader, they need a bridge. A bridge comprised of the information and rules to help them quickly make sense of our imaginary world or events.  The rules operate on a scale. If your story is entirely rooted in “this” world, then you have to follow the rules of this world. If your story occurs in the future or fantasy, then you have to work hard to explain those rules to the reader.
All of which requires research. Research on the external world and research on your internal world.
And just like my interview, often you’ll spend hours on research to create one single line of fiction.
A lack of research may ruin your book.
I say “may” because it is true that many authors don’t bother. It is also true that some writers who don’t bother manage to reach the best-seller’s list. But in both cases, they either limit the reader’s experience or are called out on their errors.
In any case, here are the three ways in which a lack of research may ruin your book:
1. The Loss of Plausibility
As a dark fiction author and a vampire-lore fan, one of my favorite examples of this “lack of research” problem is Stephanie Myers’ Twilight Series.
Ms. Myers was adamant that “her” vampires were not to have fangs. Apparently they just “bite” the neck and “drink” the blood. Okay, fair enough, but if they aren’t “mainstreaming” the blood then how are they absorbing it? She never explains.
I did about five minutes of research and here is what I discovered.
The human body contains about one hundred and seventy ounces of blood.  A loss of eighty ounces usually results in death. The stomach can hold about thirty-two ounces of liquid at one time. The liquid is absorbed in the small intestines. It takes ten ounces of liquid about five minutes to reach the blood stream. It takes about eleven minutes for half of it to reach the blood stream, and one to two hours for the entirety of that ten ounces to be absorbed.
Without some further explanation, the process of drinking blood for sustenance is a little complicated and compromised.
We would expect that the vampire couldn’t drink more than say fifty ounces without an amusing looking bloated belly. And they could not ingest enough to kill a person by “draining” them. And, again without some explanation, any blood ingested would take a minimum of five minutes to have any benefit and a couple of hours to have the full benefit.  And on a final note: When you get a blood transfusion do they put the blood in your glass or your arm?
The lack of research means we have to rely on – “well it’s magical and complicated, and you wouldn’t understand.”
My purpose isn’t to pick on Ms. Myers’s story. The point is that with five minutes of research and one or two lines of explanation, the entire issue could have been avoided.  Her implausible creatures could be, at least scientifically, plausible.
2.  Lack of Credibility
The author must be the subject matter expert on their work. I don’t know a thing about the Land of Shandonolia where you’ve placed your characters. I expect that you do and that whatever this “world” is that it’s going to work in a way that makes sense.

Please click here to read the full article.

*Originally posted on by Raymond Esposito

Monday, August 14, 2017

Traditional v. Self-Publishing – The Pros and Cons of Each

trad v self pod ep 3
Which publishing approach is best for you? We run down the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing and provide some insights to help authors decide which avenue is best for them.

I'll share the YouTube link, as it's easier to share on Blogger than the audio file. But below you'll find the links to other options.

Subscribe to all our podcasts on or on:
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*Originally posted on

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Every writer knows that their first chapter can make or break their story because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your opening chapter hooks readers, agents, and publishers or it doesn’t. In fact, the only thing more important than how you end your story . . . is how you begin it. In other words, your first chapter should be an award winner.
At Writers After Dark, we love the promise of that first chapter. That  first impression of the author and the enticement of the story to come.

Platinum, Gold, and Silver Awards by Genre

That first chapter is so important that we’ve launched our Chapter of Excellence Contest to award the best first chapter writers in their genre. The Chapter of Excellence Contest is the opportunity for authors to showcase their openings, win awards for excellence, be a featured interview on The Writers’ Podcast, and to get a shot at the grand prize of $250.

A chance to be interviewed on The Writers’ Podcast

If you’ve ever thought, “If I could just get people to read my first chapter they’d be hooked,” then this is your contest. 

Entry is simple AND it’s affordable at only $15!

To join the contest just visit the entry page, fill out the short form, and upload your first chapter and book cover by October 31st, 2017. Winners to be announced on February 15th, 2018.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Planner or Pantser – Which Writing Process is the Most Effective?

planner pantser pod
Today, we take on the highly debated subject of writing a novel through “pantsing” or “planning” and consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.

I'll share the YouTube link, as it's easier to share on Blogger than the audio file. But below you'll find the links to other options.

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*Originally posted on

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Correctly Punctuate Dialogue for Novels

Continue to read an excerpt or click here for the full article.
Writing dialogue is messy. Am I right? 
It has so many rules, it makes me wish I’d gone with my original plan in life. I’d intended to become an all-in-one supermodel-psychologist/part-time medical researcher. What? I thought I wanted to save people, discover things, and change the world wearing a tiara and killer heels. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I just wanted to sit on my couch drinking coffee and writing all day while wearing no pants. 
Plus, apparently my status as a supermodel got cut short (no pun intended) by my lack of height. And love of cake. Also, had I continued studying psychology, I’d have been forced to stop listening to the voices in my head . . . and that was SO not cool. The thing was . . . I didn’t know how to properly punctuate any of my internal convos. And that became a bigger problem when I decided to take all my imaginary dialogues and turn them into novels. You know what that made me look like? An amateur writer. Which I was, but that’s neither here nor there. 
Luckily, I like to research so I went after those punctuation rules like a beast. I remember reading one analogy saying that all those interesting symbols are like traffic signs in the writer’s world. And they truly are. They help make our writing clear by adding some much-needed structure. But which symbol goes where—and why? Well, I’m here to assist with that.
Here are some rules for punctuating dialogue:

Yep. Had to start with the obvious . . . because why not?
*Use quotation marks to begin and end direct quotation.
*If needed, use commas to separate a direct quotation from the dialogue tag.
*Like so:
        “Ray’s birthday cake was delicious,” I said.
        “Ray’s birthday cake was delicious.”
*When a character is directly quoting another person. Use regular quotation marks for the main character’s dialogue, but single quotes for the quote-within-a-quote.*Like so:
       “Then he told me, ‘You shouldn’t have more cake.’ I couldn’t believe it!” Kat said.
*If there’s an indirect dialogue, it won’t require any quotation marks.*Like so:
       Kat said she liked cake.
*Dialogue with tag and action. Follow the dialogue with a comma before the quotation mark, then the dialogue tag followed by another comma, and then the action after that.*Like so:
       “I hate diets,” she said, thinking of coffee and cake.
*Or add the action and the tag at the beginning of the dialogue sentence.*Like so:
       Thinking of coffee and cake, she said, “I hate diets.”
*BONUS: never use quotation marks for thoughts, even if it’s to indicate inner dialogue. My advice is to use italics instead. The reader will know our awesome character is talking to him/herself. 😉
*Always capitalize the first word of a dialogue.*Like so:
      “This diet is going to kill me,” Kat said.
       Kat said, “This diet is going to kill me.”
       Kat frowned. “This diet is going to kill me.”
*If you’re splitting the dialogue with a tag, the second half of . . . That's the simple stuff . . . 

For the rest of this post, which includes: dialogue capitalization, commas and periods, questions and exclamation marks, spacing, paragraphs and MORE . . . please click here.

*Originally posted on