Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog

Sponsor PPWC2020!

By: Marta Lane

PPWC2020 New Vision, New Focus

Sponsorship registration is now open for our 2020 Pikes Peak Writers Conference on Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19 at The DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado Springs Hotel. As a nonprofit, your sponsorship helps us pay award-winning faculty while offsetting one-time conference expenses. 

Sponsorship Packages

We offer two types of basic sponsorship. General sponsorship is for businesses who want to connect with everyone at the conference. Faculty-Focused sponsorship is exclusively for the eyes of conference presenters, which includes (so far) 14 authors, 6 agents, and 4 editors—an optimal choice for those with novels, or writer products and services. 

How To Become A Sponsor

Check out our list of 15 packages here, where you can upload your logo and pay with a credit card. Once we receive your information, we’ll reach out to see how we can be of further service.
Deadline to register is March 31, 2020.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference App

Top-Tier sponsors engage with potential customers while enjoying more exposure through our app, available for iOS and Android, which includes customized sponsor branding with your logo and website. Attendees use our app to find events, updates, and workshop locations. Our full directory of event participants features our sponsors, as well as authors, agents, editors, and attendees. The easy to navigate user interface is free to use, has a venue map, and announces sponsor giveaway winners.  

Our Attendees

We are celebrating our 28th year and expect up to 400 attendees, 80-percent of which are from Colorado. We’ll connect you through one of 15 sponsorship packages, which begins at $150, and includes branded engagement with more than 4,700 of our Facebook fans.

The Location

This is the conference’s first year at The DoubleTree by Hilton in Colorado Springs. The full-service, 229-room hotel recently completed a $9 million renovation, which includes a new bistro-style restaurant; the largest hotel bar in Colorado Springs, with local craft beer, wine, and cocktails; and a spacious lobby with fireplaces and complementary internet access. 

Conference History

Pikes Peak Writers Conference was founded in 1993 by author Jimmie Butler. The inaugural conference centered on “Useful Tips for Writing Commercial Fiction,” and enjoyed sponsorship by the Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District and The Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration. Today, the 3-day fiction writing conference is for writers of all levels, featuring workshops, acquiring editors/agents and well-known authors across a variety of genres.

Questions?

If you have questions, please contact Marta Lane at sponsorship@pikespeakwriters.com.

Write Brain – Short and Sweet

By: Debbie Lane

Travis Herrmann at January Write Brain, PPW

The first Write Brain event of 2020 brought us the art of writing a short story, presented by Travis Heermann, falling perfectly in time with the call for submissions to the debut issue of the PPW Anthology!

Travis assured it would take more like six weeks to go over every aspect of this process thoroughly.  However, the information he presented covered not only the key steps for building a short story, but also direction on how and where to get a short story published. 

In addition to Travis’ presentation, his 81 page handout was made available for download to anyone in attendance.  Afterwards, I was asked if this workshop made the idea of writing a short story less daunting, and my answer had to be no. It doesn’t seem less daunting, but with instruction like this it definitely seems doable!


Don’t miss the next Write Brain — Developing Realistic Romance in Every Genre, presented by authors Rebecca Yarros and Cindi Madsen. This workshop will will show you how to use popular and effective Romance tropes in other genres! Don’t miss it!
February 19, 2020
6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Pikes Peak Library District – Library 21c
1175 Chapel Hills Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80920


Debbie Lane

Write Brain recaps are presented by, Debbie Lane who lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, three children, and two spoiled cats. She enjoys arts and crafts, and writing. Debbie is an avid reader, and feels honored to follow in the footsteps of her literary heroes as she now works to become the best writer she can be.

Writer Productivity Gurus are Full of Crap

By: Jennifer Lovett

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find a million reasons to procrastinate, and your productivity is crap. Actually, writing this article is a way I’m procrastinating from writing the next chapter in my book. I’ve read all about “writer productivity” and I call b-s on it.

  • I need to go out and buy books at Costco.
  • I want a new black bag for my trip to Japan.
  • Company is coming this weekend, and I need food.
  • College applications are due and I need to nudge Miss Thing’s guidance counselor.

The list goes on and on. So I figured if I write about writer productivity, then maybe I’ll get my butt in gear. Whoops, just had to check Facebook and my email. Simone Biles just won her umpteenth world championship – way to go girl!

Just Do It!

Back to productivity.

I actually have a list. One I write every single night before I go to bed. On it now are eight items, half of which have three sub-items. I’ve been working for three hours and only one is checked off. I posted to social media!

But I like to wake up early, drink coffee and read the news. Then check email. That takes nearly an hour. Does it help me get motivated to write? Who knows, but once I take the time for news and email, I’m no longer thinking about it.

Now I’m researching writer / book statistics. It has been reported that nearly 80% of Americans want to write a book. Know how many finish that book? Two percent? Two!

Have you finished a book? Then welcome to the two percent.

Doesn’t matter if you haven’t shopped it around yet or indie-pubbed it. You finished it and you should be proud!

But what about the rest? Why haven’t you finished?

What got me to finish my book? I have five completed books. Only one is out, but that’s neither here nor there. I finished five.

  • The first one got done because I was motivated by all the awesome other writers around me who were finishing their books.
  • And the second one because it fed into the first one and the story just kept on coming.
  • The third one was a NaNoWriMo challenge and a super fun one on a topic I love.
  • Fourth? Completely fed up with the American political vitriol and I had to figure out a way to work through it. Book done.
  • I had the time and a deep desire to help others. This is the one that’s actually out. It’s also nonfiction and I’m much more comfortable with the topic.

So how did it happen?

We could look at the fact that I’m a night owl and can cram four hours’ worth of quality work in after dinner as opposed to the mediocre crap I can push out before 9 am.

I also have a need to be around people, and I write a hundred times better at my favorite, Panera Bread, or my favorite, favorites coffee shops. Poor Richards in downtown Colorado Springs and Poet’s in Cookeville, Tennessee, are my super favs. Sooo productive there!

I also drink a crap-ton of coffee, water and tea, so there are a lot of breaks in my day. If I didn’t walk outside everyday after lunch, I’d be a jumbled mess on whatever issues I’m having with my work.

I can’t find my 2019 vision board. I don’t have a white board. But I hear those things work too. What I do have is a deep fascination with writing and words. I love them.

Think about your day.

  • Are you following what someone else told you to do and suddenly you find yourself pouring over cat photos on Instagram instead of writing?
  • When are you most productive? It’s usually only about four hours of the day. Find those four hours and hold them hostage. No one is to steal those from you.
  • Or you could just do what Nora Roberts does. Writing is her work, and she works 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. That might just kill me. Probably why I don’t make a gazillion dollars a year with my books too.

I don’t have any answers for you other than to think about your time. Where are your holes? What are you doing instead? Why are you doing that instead? Forget all that writer productivity guru crap and think about you and your writing.

You sat down to write for a reason. What is it? Hold on to that for dear life and get that book done! Be a two percenter.

Ok, I’m off. Not to write. I need to buy that black bag and a couple of books.


Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram: @writernationjen

How’s Your #Hashtag Game?

By: Jennifer Lovett

Social media is about interaction, networking and engagement. If you authentically engage with other users of a hashtag, you’ll create a genuine experience online. That experience is why people are on the platform in the first place.

The great marketer Seth Godin repeatedly says, “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.”

Think about Jeep owners. Rugged, athletic, outdoorsy. They’re part of a club.

The Hashtag Game

Patagonia. Subaru. There is almost a cult following for brands like these.

While I’m not advocating you build a cult and head to South America, I am definitely telling you that creating an experience with you, a real person, is important to potential readers. Readers buy from people they know or think they know. The most common place for people to do that is on social media. That’s where hashtags come in.

Hashtags are basically categories for posts.

If you click on a hashtag you see in Tweet or Instagram Post, the system will take you to every tweet or post that includes that hashtag. It’s a nice way to categorize topics, and it makes it easier to find information. That’s the basics.

But another reason to use hashtags is to help build your following.

  • Reach like-minded folks.
    • You’ll want to use hashtags in your posts is to reach like-minded users and hopefully bring them into your author brand online space.
    • If you’re looking for readers of paranormal romance, then you’ll want to scroll through all the posts or tweets with the #paranormalromance hashtag.
  • Engage with them.
    • Once you see what those readers or writers are posting, you can like, comment or share their posts, or even follow them. These actions encourage that person to do the same for you.
  • Help folks find you.
    • You’ll want to use hashtags as well, so people can find you. If you write #westerns, then use that hashtag to put yourself in front of readers of westerns.
    • Make sure whatever you post is interesting and reflects your brand.
  • Another very cool reason to use hashtags is to connect with publishing industry professionals. #MSWL is Manuscript Wish List. This is when literary agents post exactly what stories they are looking for.

But don’t be a stalker.

One thing you’d probably not want to do is overuse a hashtag.

On Twitter, don’t use more than 3 hashtags. I really encourage only 2 and put them at the end of your tweet, so it doesn’t clutter the tweet and make it harder to read.

On Instagram, one or two in the original caption is best. Then, put up to 30 in first comment. Yes, 30.

So you don’t come across as a relentless stalker of a particular hashtag, I recommend you create five to seven different lists of hashtags that you can rotate.

To help you do that, I’ve compiled a list of hashtags most common for readers and writers at the end of this post.

Make it easier on everybody.

Hashtags just make life a little easier on social media. Platforms are just so crowded with posts or pics, vids, tweets and other stuff, using hashtags is a way to help break through the noise. For you and for your reader.

Genre
#Mystery
#Romance
#RomanceNovel
#RomanceBooks
#Fantasy
#Thriller
#Spy Thriller
#Erotica
#Paranormal
#RomanticSuspense
#CozyMystery
#UrbanFantasy
#WomensFiction
#YA
#YALit
#YoungAdult
#YoungAdultBooks
#YAFantasy
#Classicbooks
#SweetRomance
#SciFi
#Suspense
#Western
#Military

Publishing|
#AskAgent
#AskAuthor
#AskEditor
#BookMarketing
#Publishing
#SelfPub
#MSWL – manuscript wish list

Books and Reading
#AmReading
#Books
#BooksAreLife
#BookCommunity
#Bookgram
#BookNerd
#BookNerdigan
#BookPassion
#BookRecommendation
#BookReview
#BookQuotes
#Bookworms
#Bookster
#Bookstagrammer
#Bookstagram
#Bookclub
#Booksofinsta
#BookWorm
#CurrentlyReading
#Shelfie
#Fiction
#GreatReads
#IndieThursday
#InstaBook
#InstaRead
#MustRead
#ReadersOfInstagram
#WhatToRead
#Library
#TotalBookNerd

Self-Publishing
#Allie
#Amazon
#eBook
#BookBuzz
#eReaders
#ePubChat
#iPad
#Kindle
#KindleBargain
#Kobo
#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)
#Nook
#D2D (Draft 2 Digital)
#SmashWords

Promo
#99c
#AuthorRT
#BookGiveaway
#BookMarketing
#FollowFriday
#FreeReads
#Novelines (to quote your own work)
#FreeBook
#FridayReads
#TeaserTues

Writing Process or Community
#1K1H
#AmWriting
#AmEditingAuthor
#AuthorsofIg
#AuthorsLife
#CopyWriting
#Creativity
#Editing
#IndieAuthor
#Poetry
#RomanceWriter
#StoryStarter
#WIP
#WordAThon
#WordCount
#WriteChat
#WriteGoal
#WriteMotivation
#WriteTip
#WriterLife
#WritersLife
#Writing
#WritingBlitz
#WritingCommunity
#WriterCommunity
#WritersCommunity
#WritersofInstagram
#WritersofIg
#WriterofInstagram
#WritersCommunityofIg
#WritersNetwork
#WriteYourHeartOut
#WritersUnite
#WritersofTwitter


Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Plan Your Writing Year

By: Margena Holmes

Happy holidays! I hope you’ve gotten through Thanksgiving without too much trouble, and Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve and Day are just around the corner. What’s coming up for your writing year next year? What important dates do you have coming up? Any plans at all?

Start Planning Now

Now is a good time to start planning out your writing year for 2020. What DO you have coming up? Deadlines? Conferences? It’s good to get these things planned out ahead of time so you don’t have any conflicts. I started using a planner this year and it has helped tremendously for deadlines as well as personal events like baby showers.

I use an old school planner notebook to plan out my writing deadlines and what I want to accomplish for the year, but if you’re techy, you can use your phone or tablet. I like to get the pretty planners, and a nice pen, though if you use pencil, you can easily erase if you need to move up or push back a deadline (which I’ve done a lot in the past).

What to put in your planner?

The obvious is deadlines you have. When you plan to have your book finished, sent to the editor, when you’ll be revising, etc. It may seem like micro-managing, but if you have an open-ended date to get your book finished, will you finish it? I base my deadlines on when the next comic cons are in Colorado Springs, so cons usually go into the planner first. I like to have a new book out for those.  Since I self-publish, I need that date so I know when to submit the book and have it printed and sent in time for the Con. Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you. “Oh, crap, that’s tomorrow?”

Plan for Writing Conferences

Regarding conferences, you’ll want to plan that out to take time off from work if needed, and to make your reservations. It’s helpful, too, if you put reminders in your planner a month or so ahead of time. That way you know what’s coming up. [Don’t forget PPWC2020!]

Don’t Forget Social Media

Do you plan out your social media content? You should! It keeps you engaged with your readers. I Google holidays and national days for each month and plan my content around that.  January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day, February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day (I have these in my planner for next year). You can plan a theme for the month, or just randomly post each day or week. If it ties into your book or series, all the better! Social media users like to read about personal things, too, like how you spent your day, or see photos of you at different events.

Contests

Contest deadlines. If you plan on entering contests throughout the year, you will need to know when those are. When to start writing your submission (if needed), the deadline to send it in by, and when they plan on making the announcement of the winners.

Why Plan?

Why plan out your writing year? It helps you stay on track with deadlines, and keeps you engaged with readers. You may not stick to it religiously, but it helps you to know what’s coming up and you can always make adjustments to it, and you won’t be surprised when the Pikes Peak Writers Conference comes up on April 17-19, 2020, almost a month earlier than 2019. Happy planning!


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Giving Thanks

Today, here in the USA, families and friends will sit down to share a meal surrounded by laughter and love. Today, I too will sit with my family and new friends, and we will share a meal together. I will think of my family who have passed and those who are too far away to wrap my arms around.

I will also be thinking of you. All of you who ever jotted down a poem, wrote a master thesis, published research, slugged out an epic novel, merrily created a song, or quipped a short story. To every writer who ever touched pen to paper, I say THANK YOU.

Thank you for sharing your heart, your talent, your knowledge, your fears, and your love. Not only have your words taught me to be a better writer, but they have also taught me to be a better person.

Thank you for the adventures through Wonderland, Whoville, and The Shire. The visits to Mars, Dune, and The Foundation were amazing. I will always treasure my Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy too. It is because of these, and so much more, that my world is so rich.

Today I say my thanks to you all, but know this…. I am grateful for every word you have shared with me – everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving

Write Brain with Trai Cartwright

By: Debbie Lane

Write Brain PPW

November’s Write Brain event featured Trai Cartwright, a veteran in the entertainment industry, who shared her expertise on how utilize new media to create a personalized marketing campaign.  Trai encouraged us to begin thinking of ourselves in terms of being a corporation as we approach this task, and offered key insights into how to effectively find our audience and reach them through a multitude of platforms.  I was impressed with how Trai not only offered advice, but also kept a spotlight on the importance of how personal and authentic marketing needs be in order to be successful.

What is Write Brain?

Write Brain sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. They are a dynamic part of PPW’s interaction with the writing community, both in Colorado and beyond. We hope you’ll join us! Write Brain is held in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. For more information on future Write Brains please visit PPW’s website.


Debbie Lane

Debbie Lane is your host at Write Brain and provided this recap of Trai’s presentation. Having always been an avid reader, she feels honored to follow in the footsteps of her literary heroes as she now works to become the best writer she can be.

Just How Beneficial IS Instagram?

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Are you getting FOMO? The Fear of Missing Out by not being on Instagram? Well if you aren’t using it, you should. It’s the hottest social media platform out there and the fastest growing. According to Statista, Instagram now boasts more than 500 million daily active users. That’s daily. Twitter has only 126 million.  It’s nowhere near Facebook’s 1.5 billion daily users, but it’s gaining, and gaining fast. And Americans report more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook on a daily basis these days.

So how do you take advantage of Instagram as part of your author brand?

  • Use Stories!
  • Hashtags Galore & Engage!
  • Your Feed!

Use Stories.

Stories are showing the most engagement these days. Since you are a storyteller, this one is a no-brainer. Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Even if you’re doing a story about pizza (the most common food pic on Instagram), create the story: the search for pizza, the finding of the pizza, the eating of the pizza. Anything can be a story.

There are several ways to create the story.

  • Type
  • Music
  • Live
  • Normal
  • Boomerang
  • Superzoom
  • Hands-free

Type is a simple post with text with creative fonts on fun backgrounds.

Music – add music to your story by choosing the song on this tab before capturing your video

You can go Live and tell the world what you’re up to, just like Facebook Live, only this will fade off Instagram after 24 hours.

You can do a Normal story and create it with photos and/or video. Video is only 15-seconds.

Boomerang is a burst of photos that repeats over and over. Like a wave or jump in the air or opening a book.

Superzoom – really focus on something and zoom in on it Add music to make it sound creepy or funny.

The Hands-free feature just allows you to create video without having to keep your finger on the record button.

Hashtags Galore & Engage!

Hashtags are super important on Instagram so people can find you. Choosing the right hashtags will put you in front of potential readers.

For a regular Instagram post, I recommend only two hashtags in the main caption. Then add up to 30 in the first comment. Make a list and rotate your hashtags so you aren’t stalking the hashtag.

For stories, you can simply add hashtags to the Story so people can see them, or you can add them and then put a sticker or shape over them to hide them.

Distraction and engagement are why people are on social media. The more compelling, interesting, funny and creative your posts, the more people will enjoy them. It’s important to be a presence on Instagram to make it work. That doesn’t mean simply posting photos, slapping on a few hashtags, and then ignoring it. This isn’t a “build it and they will come” scenario. You must engage.

Find the hashtags that represent your author brand, your community, your interests and likes. Then start liking and commenting on those. Be a presence.

Your feed!

There is debate in the Instagram world about the effectiveness of your feed these days with Stories taking off. Tyler J McCall, Instagram Guru and Coach, recommends feed posts only every other day or so and to concentrate on your Story.

That being said, your feed should look like your author brand. What is your brand? What are your themes? The Instagram feed represents the window in the window-shopping metaphor of people looking to find others to follow. If your feed is a jumbled mess, then it’s unclear what you’re offering.

Look at other authors in your genre and see what they are posting. Do they have a theme?

Try celebrities you like. What is their theme?

Sometimes that’s a certain dominant color. Other times it’s a regular pose, like with a book reading or playing with the dog. Other times it’s a certain camera angle. The possibilities are endless, so get creative. Think about your author brand and the themes and messages in your books. What can you out of those to make part of your theme?

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform out there. If you are considering social media for your author brand and you like photos, I recommend jumping in the Instagram deep end. It’s not as overtly political as Facebook. And it’s not as time-consuming as a YouTube channel. It’s a fun platform and who knows, you might even find some new friends.

Sources:

The 43 Instagram Statistics You Need to Know in 2019

Number of Instagram users in the United States from 2017 to 2023


Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

NaNoWriMo by the Numbers

Are you doing NaNo? Do you know what day it is? How are your fingers holding up? Had a shower recently? Where is your family? Are you a Wrimo? Odd questions? Maybe not. Here’s one more: Did you hit 25,000 today?

NaNoWriMo logo

If you haven’t already heard, NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) is an event that brings writers together from across the globe in order to write a 50,000 word novel in a single month. Today, November 15, 2019 is the middle. The halfway point. Today you should hit 25,000 words.

Here are a few numbers that you might also like to know:

In 2018:

• There were 403,542 participants (including 108,146 students and educators in the Young Writers Program). If all the participants finished, with an even 50,000 words each, that’s 20,177,100,000 words written in a month!

• 978 volunteer Municipal Liaisons (these are your local organizers and inspiration guides) guided 655 regions on six continents.

• 1,176 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.

Who Does NaNo?

Thousands (367,913 to be exact) of NaNoWriMo novels have been completed, and hundreds have been traditionally published as a direct result of NaNo. Here are just a few:

Sara GruenWater for Elephants
Jason HoughThe Darwin Elevator
Hugh Howey, Wool
Marissa MeyerCinder
Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus
Rainbow RowellFangirl

The Best Part of NaNo?

The numbers are amazing to achieve, but the end result is what matters the most. If you write 25,000 words or 75,000 words, or even a simple outline of 200 words, you have started what many people only dream of…you will have drafted a novel. You will have joined the ranks of writers who are doing what they love, not just dreaming about it.

To everyone participating this year…
You’re halfway there! KEEP ON WRITING!


KJ Scrim, head shot

Managing Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym.

The Short Story

You have decided to write a short story. Congratulations! Short stories can be great fun to write, and like any writing project, they can be a bit daunting. So, what is a short story, and how do you write one?

It is Short

The first thing to keep in mind when writing a short story is pretty obvious, but I will say it anyway. Short stories are…well…short. They can range anywhere from 6 words (flash fiction) to 7,500 words. I have seen some accept 20,000 words as a short story, but that is more the realm of a novelette. I like to read short stories in one sitting so 7,500 is a nice top end.

It’s a Mini-Novel…Almost

Second thing to keep in mind is that a short story is almost a mini-novel. I want to emphasis the word almost. It is a mis-conception to think that a short story is written just like a novel because there are a lot of things a novel has that a short story doesn’t.

A novel will usually have many character and places, along with multiple story lines. A short story has only a few characters who may visit just a few places, and the plot lines through the story are limited to one or two. Of course, there is an exception to every rule, but in general this is how a short story plays out.

It is like a novel in that it has a beginning, middle and end. There are protagonists, antagonists, an inciting incident, a challenge to overcome, and a solution to the problem. All of these are squeezed into a compact story rather than an epic novel adventure.

Give it a Plot

When writing a short story the plot needs to be tight and concise. In short stories, every scene, paragraph, and sentence needs to be spot on with the plot. If you find yourself meandering between the North and South Poles then you might consider a novel instead.

The Hook

In the short story the hook looks a little different than in a novel. First, it usually comes in the first paragraph of a short, but better in the first few sentences. There isn’t much real estate in a short story so the hook may turn out to be only one or two words that are strategically placed to capture your reader’s attention.

The Draft

Everyone has their own way of getting words from their imagination to paper. My version of writing may not fit your’s, but that’s the beauty of writing. You can test different methods and find the one that fits you. My method is a bit sloppy, but it works for me. It’s like testing to see if spaghetti is cooked; slap it on the wall and see what sticks.

My mind skips around like a leaf blowing up the street. Sometimes it goes in a straight line, and sometimes it gets caught up in a dust devil. So goes my writing method. I usually don’t have a plan, goal, or idea when I start. I just crank out words that pop into my head and write them. Within about five or ten minutes of pure nonsense a plot forms and the story takes off.

Every once in awhile I will start with finding the main character’s name. I love odd or tongue-twister names. I wrote one story where I did an internet search for odd surnames and found Quackenbush then wrote a story around it.

The most important lesson I learned about writing short stories is to not fiddle too much. Frustrations will get you down and kill your creativity. If you get your story pounded out, without editing or second guessing as you write the draft, you will have an easier time in the editing phase.

The Hair Pulling

Once you have the bare bones of a draft you can move on to editing, revising, and hair pulling. During this phase you should be trimming the fat. Again, scenes need to be tight and concise. Make every word count.

In the draft you create where the story will start, where it will grow and thrive, then where it will conclude. The editing phase should only be about tweaking what you already have. Get rid of every word that doesn’t count, squeeze it until it sings.

But I Write Novels!

If you are a novel writer then you have to write short stories. They give you an opportunity to test out ideas without writing the entire book. Do a quick short story draft of your novel idea. See how it feels. If it writes into a good short story it could be a great novel too.

What if you already have several books under your belt? Then add a short story to your repertoire. If you’re not sure where to start here’s one idea; find a thread within the novel that you loved, but the story line didn’t let you fully explore. Expand the scene into a full short story that diverges from the main plot of your novel. Or, take a single character who is minor in your novel and write a short story with them as the protagonist.

Get Unstuck with a Short Story

If you get too bogged down in novel, then a short story will give your creativity a quick vacation away from the work. It may even give you ideas that will help move your novel forward. A quick short story will clear the cob webs.

When you are stuck on a short story then stop and write something else. Make it far out or goofy. Write about how Ford Parker learned to drive, or about Kenny Penny’s school days. A story can always be found in characters like Harry Baldz and his furry friend Shaggy. Have fun and keep on writing!


KJ Scrim, head shot

Kathie “KJ” Scrim is the Managing Editor at Writing from the Peak. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder the same year Roald Dahl published Matilda. Kathie’s inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym. She scribbles every now and again on her blog, and you can follow her on FB and Twitter (@kjscrim).