Sunday, July 26, 2015

Help! I can't Edit to Save My Life!

By: Stephanie Burkhart

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said it yourself? I know I’ve said it. I realize it’s important to edit my first draft, but I had no idea how to go about it. I’d try to do it all at once. That can be overwhelming. Then I discovered layers. It’s a much more rewarding technique.

 When you try to edit all at once, you’re bound to miss something. The work can be time consuming and mentally draining. By using the layered technique, the work has a tendency to go quicker since you’re focusing your attention on only one aspect of editing.

 Layer #1: Narration
This involves the voice of the narrator and the point of view in which the story is told. It’s important because this is how the reader is going to experience the story. You need to ensure the tense is consistent and the voice is authentic.

Layer #2 Characterization
Characters tell the story so it’s important to ensure you’ve done the following: What does the character want, how does the character change in pursuit of what he wants, and what happens if he fails? If you don’t understand your character, try writing a short story outside of the story you’re writing so you can get to know the character better. You can always put yourself in the character’s head and “method” write, which is similar to method acting. Don’t neglect your supporting cast. It’s important to have them resonate with readers, but don’t let them take over the story.

Layer #3 The Plot

Understanding what motivates a character drives the plot. I tend to think of a plot like a play. In act one, you meet the characters and come to understand the conflict. Act two involves rising action along with the climax. The main character must make an important decision. In act three, you have falling action and the main character has to deal with the repercussions of his choice. What works best is simplicity. Don’t throw too much stuff at your character, and have an outline that allows for flexibility. Characters are dynamic and changing. A rigid outline might not allow the character to grow in the way the story requires.
Layer #4  Scenes

Examine your scenes and see if they need tweaking. Consider items like your description, dialogue, world building, and theme. With description, touch on the five senses and use just enough to place the reader in the scene. Their imagination will do the rest. Keep dialogue to a minimum. Remember that how we talk doesn’t translate well on the page, so saying less and being concise is best.

Layer #5 – Proofing

In this read through, you’re looking for spelling errors to include grammar and punctuation mistakes.

Question: How many of you use a layered approach to your editing? Does it work for you? is there a layer you add?

Reference for this blog: Writer’s Digest, Sep 2015, “The Great Revision Pyramid,” by Gabrela Pereira, pages 28-32.

 Stephanie Burkhart’s Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She grew up in New Hampshire but now lives in California. Her books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, First Flag of New Hampshire, and Brady’s Lost Blanket. She likes chocolate, adores coffee, and enjoys walking. She’s also a den leader for her son’s cub scout den.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Content Marketing - Shareability, Sharing, and Paying-it-Forward in the Writing and Marketing Arena

By Karen Cioffi

Blogging is part of the content marketing strategy. To blog effectively you need to write for the reader and you need to share that content in order to create visibility and authority.

But, there’s more to it.

An effective marketing strategy, along with sharing your own content, is to share the content of others. In fact, it’s so effective that Google uses the sharing you do via social networks (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc.) in its ranking system.

In other words, your content’s shareability influences your search engine ranking and increases traffic to your website. This exposure helps increase your business and sales.

An example of this is: I’ve gotten emails and even phone calls from clients who found me via an online search. This means one or more of my links are being made available on the search results page for a query.

So, it’s easy to see that creating shareable content is well worth the effort.

Along with creating engaging content that readers want to share, as mentioned above, it’s also important to share the content of others. Just be sure the content you share is relevant to your niche. For instance, if you are in the children’s writing niche, you wouldn’t want to share content that might be consider questionable or unrelated to your niche.

Blogging and sharing the content of others has a number of benefits, including:

1. Visibility - You help another writer/blogger/marketer get her content out there. You help make it go viral and broaden her visibility. This will make her happy and she will take note of you, especially if you do this on a regular basis. This in turn, will motivate her to do the same for you. This is a win-win situation.

2. Being a resource - You become a valued source in your community/tribe/online neighborhood. When you share helpful information with your audience, whether it’s your content or that of others, they appreciate it. This helps establish you as trustworthy and an authority. It’s another win-win situation.

3. Creating connections - Sharing the content of others creates a connection and broadens your own visibility/exposure. And, you never know where that connection will lead to – it may develop into a profitable business opportunity.

4. Ranking - You gain search engine visibility. There is a definite correlation between Tweets, Likes, Shares, Connections and so on, and Google’s search results. This means Google tracks those shares, which means you’re playing in Google’s playground. This activity is noticed by Google.

As the founder and manager of an online marketing group, I always encourage members and visitors to click on the blog’s available social links (Twitter, G+, FB, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and so on) and leave comments.

It’s those comments and shares that gives blogposts their marketing juice.

Paying-it-forward is another aspect of being in the writing and marketing arena.

Paying it forward is like a smile. You never know how or ‘how much’ it will help someone in that particular moment.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an author, freelance writer or marketer, paying-it-forward is simply the right thing to do.

According to Wikipedia, pay-it-forward “is a term describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.”

So, how do you and I pay-it-forward to other authors, writers, and marketers?
Here are 15 strategies that you can try out:

•    Share the content of others on social media networks
•    Say YES if you’re asked to help in a launch or promotion
•    Be a host for an author’s blog tour
•    Offer free helpful – this may be in the form of a podcast, video, webinar, article, ebook, etc.
•    Provide a recommendation if you’re familiar with another’s work or product
•    Accept invitations to connect – just check out the person/business first
•    Reach out and connect to others
•    Like the Facebook page of someone you know
•    Like comments and ‘shared posts’ of others
•    If you read a book and like it, write and share a review
•    Share your knowledge by answering questions and offering advice, if it’s requested
•    Offer encouragement
•    Offer motivation
•    Be patient
•    Be kind

Aside from being good for you as a writer and marketer, giving back is good for the universe.

I’m sure there are many other ways to pay-it-forward in your niche, please share your ideas with us!


Karen Cioffi is a content writing and inbound marketing instructor. To check out how she can help you take your marketing to the next level, visit:
Get Traffic to Your Website with Inbound Marketing
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