Writer’s Round-About Becomes The Craft of Writing Fiction!

Introducing The Craft of Writing Fiction

Have you ever felt like you needed a makeover? As we grow and change the old look and feel becomes yesterday. Sometimes we need to put on a fresh face, cut our hair, buy a new outfit, and wear our classiest shoes. We can makeover our wardrobes when our old fashions are becoming drab. We makeover our homes when that old couch starts being more spring than fabric. And we makeover our lives with every birth, death, and marriage.

So, why can’t we have a blog makeover?

With new style and a jazzy new name I’m proud to introduce, “The Craft of Writing Fiction.”

Now, I know, you LOVE Writer’s Round-About. And we’re still the same great resource for writers in every genre but I hope you’ll be as excited about our new direction as I am.

WRA Was Great, Why Change?

Writer’s Round-About has been fantastic for three years now. Earlier this month I announced our third birthday with a 3rd birthday bash and great prizes (you still have a chance to get your entries in so go do that right now and then come back and finish reading) and every year I feel the site grow, change, and reach for a greater future. But, for some reason, it seemed to plot along rather than gaining the momentum I’ve always felt this site deserved. We were a great little site but it was always a battle for recognition. Lets face it, “Writer’s Round-About” isn’t a very compelling name so how could we expect great things from it?

In fact, “all in a name” is where I started when I tried to figure out exactly why WRA struggled for every viewer. It certainly wasn’t the content. Every weekday our writers bring us a smashing new post full of wisdom, insight, and experience. They cover a range of writing-related topics from freelancing to fiction. The quality of writing at WRA is excellent and I’m very proud of the contributors who have stepped up to write regular content.

It wasn’t in the design or the search engine optimization either. I’ve done enough work in this field and had a hand in creating some fantastically productive sites. I used my knowledge and experience in every aspect of Writer’s Round-About and I constantly tweaked the optimization to create a strong foundation for driving search traffic.

But something was missing…

Running the Numbers.

Then a friend talked about how she had recently had a Numerology report done and was amazed at how the numbers reflected her to perfection. I’ve always been fascinated with Numerology too and I’ve noticed from readings I’ve had for myself and read of others how remarkably accurate they can be. So, out of curiosity I ran the numbers for Writer’s Round-About. And, they were dismal.

I ran the numbers of a few other sites I know of and the ones that outperformed the others also had better Numerological standing. Interesting…

When you consider how important it is to write compelling titles, use strong headings, and select the right word each and every word we write is it any wonder that a name and domain name could also have impact on the potential growth and development of a site, product, or book?

More than Numbers and more than a Name…

WRA’s numbers were terrible. And I knew that the name and domain name ranked horribly based on the training I’ve had over the years since I created the site with market research, niche marketing, and keyword placement. It was time to approach things as I would any other site I’d consider designing now. Like a professional and from the very bedrock of the site’s foundation.

I spent hours researching with my favorite niche market research and SEO tool, Market Samurai. I ran permutations of potential names and browsed their Numerological reports. I consider exactly what direction I wanted Writer’s Round-About to take and like magic, a new name and a new direction drove forth.

Color Me Blue – For Communication, Learning, and Growth

Another change I’ve made is in the color scheme. You see, I LOVE purple. And when I first created Writer’s Round-About it was a site just for me. I wrote about whatever I wanted to write about and I really didn’t care if anyone read it. The site was my baby and I liked to feel comfortable and at home in it, surrounded by all the things I love.

Did you know that color has meaning and power? Do you know what power the color purple has? Do you know where its strengths lay? Purple is about higher learning, spiritual connection, and open-mindedness. And when I first created Writer’s Round-About those things were a big part of the sites purpose. Now we’re more about teaching, learning, and community.

Blue is about communication, learning, and growth. It’s about developing a voice and sharing knowledge. Blue is about never being afraid to say what you think and feel, to take command of your voice and your right to use it. It’s about having something worth saying and sharing it with the world. That’s what writers are about too.

And that’s what The Craft of Writing Fiction is about.

Introducing The Craft of Writing Fiction

So, without further ado, I’d love to introduce you to, “The Craft of Writing Fiction”. We’re still Writer’s Round-About deep within our souls but we’re so much more than that too. And we want to develop a powerful presence, an inspirational community, and a go-to resource for writers.

The new domain name, craftingfiction.com also has a strong sense of purpose and commitment. It is a strong foundation for growth and expansion. It’s forward thinking and innovative. It’s driven to succeed and we are too.

You’ll see other smaller changes over the coming days and weeks as I streamline the transformation from Writer’s Round-About to The Craft of Writing Fiction. There are a lot of stages involved and one of them includes going backwards through our hundreds of posts to clean up any lingering remnants of our old name. I’ll also be restructuring our categories again and working on search engine optimization at every level of the site.

So, please, bare with me through the teething stages of our metamorphosis. If you notice any errors, glitches, or strangeness, please contact me.

Meanwhile, what do you think of The Craft of Writing Fiction? Share your thoughts and impressions in the comments. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Are you excited about our new look, our new name, our new direction?

Simple Saviors: The Notebook and Pen

Notebook and Pen: Keep Writing, Anywhere, Anytime.Moving doesn’t always happen smoothly. Maintaining your writing during one of the most stressful times of your life is challenging. Ideas for articles come in many forms, this one is no different. Fortunately, the idea wasn’t lost because I took the opportunity to jot down a few thoughts before they left indefinitely.

Some of the most stressful times in a person’s life are moving, death, births, divorces, and weddings. All of those events are life altering. It is possible to write during those periods, even if the writing doesn’t produce an article at that exact moment. Recording your ideas becomes a necessary step to include with any major change in your life.

While undergoing any life changing time in your life, keep a notebook and pen with you at all times. The notebook doesn’t have to be fancy or large. A simple flip pad will do – and can fit in the back pocket of your jeans. Along side that notebook, keep a pen or pencil handy to scribble away ideas, thoughts, emotions or bits of conversation. After the words are scribbled, put the notebook away until you need it again.

When life has settled down and routine becomes familiar, you can pull out that same notebook and refer back to the pages. The mind is incredible, once you place words onto the page, you naturally recall the moment and everything associated to it. You will hear voices of dialogue, expressions on faces, emotions within, and, perhaps most importantly, the words played in your mind.

Make time to write, even when life is unsettled and routines unfamiliar.Ah, yes, those words. They are the ones that create the characters of a novel, a poem about the beautiful sky, and the article you’ve promised to write for an editor on the other end of a paycheck. With just a few simple words on a piece of paper, you will be capable of recalling all the information you need to complete that looming assignment or resume the novel that had you stuck.

It is a simple exercise that takes a bit of practice to master. Nurture your Muse by writing down all the words she supplies you. When it comes time to work through a challenging time in your life, your Muse will be kind to you. Chronicle your thoughts and ideas and begin learning how to recall the information she provided when the idea originally popped.

I’ll never go without my notebook and pen. You could say that they saved my tail during my most recent move. How has your notebook and pen saved you? Do you prefer a certain style of notebook or type of pen? What do you love most about your favorite notebook and pen?

Stock up on notebooks and pens!

Career and the Direction of Life

Choose your future, choose your life!I was recently re-reading a guest post, “Learn it, Live it, Write it!“, written by Jenny Greenleaf about this time last year. In the post, Jenny talks about this mantra and how learning to live it and write it helped her career grow. In 2008 she continued to do amazing things as she learned, lived, and wrote. As I read over her post again, I started to really think about the questions she asked last year.

What Are MY Future Goals?

What are YOUR future goals? Have you thought about the direction your blog, career, or writing will take in the coming months? I have!

The fact is, I want MORE! In 2008 I made some significant leaps forward. I had some wonderful commissions, committed to a few long term projects, and began to step away from freelance writing to encompass my love of editing and web technology. I grew as a freelancer, and it was wonderful, but what I have today is not enough to sate my appetite for the work I do.

In 2009, I am dedicated to maximizing my potential. I am putting a great deal more of my every day energy into my current projects and spending several hours a week actively seeking new job leads, marketing my services, and socializing through the community.

What turn can you take to re-awaken your snoozing career?

I will develop strong, balanced, and giving friendships. Freelancers often lead rather solitary lives. I’ve found that embracing others enlivens me. I need to be able to turn to a friend when I’m struggling with fear or to share my joys.

I’ve never truly felt comfortable reaching out to others. As such, making friends is a constant struggle. This year I want to learn more about making and sustaining enriching relationships. I want to embrace friendship with people who share my passion for freelancing, web technology, writing, and more. Do you want to be a part of that with me?

What can you do to propel your career in the direction it wants to go?

I am committed to finishing my current novel. I will be in New York from the 26th of May to the 2nd of June, 2009 and will pitch my book at the pitch slam following Writer’s Digest’s Writer’s Conference. A great deal of work remains to be done. I really need to knuckle down and GET IT FINISHED!

This project has been hindered a great deal by fear. I fight against an anxiety attack every time I come to the screen with the intention of writing another scene. I don’t understand what causes this fear. There are a thousand reasons and yet none of them compare to the prospect of NOT finishing. To propel my career forward I must finish this book and fear is no longer permitted to stand in my way.

Are you working on projects that have become stale?

My plurk friend, Shelley Heath, recently said, “Maybe your heart is not really into it as a topic anymore. Maybe you need to spread the wings further and catch something of interest“. Honestly, I don’t believe it the case on that occasion but there are elements I’ve become disheartened with. As freelancers, we must be involved in the sales aspect of our business. It is vital to be able to sell yourself and your services. This is an aspect of the business I’ve always struggled with.

Part of what I do in cooperative effort with Miss Michele and Serenity Bly of Future-Tarot.com is write copy for their weblog. SALES copy. There are fantastic readings available but the copy on the page needs to ‘call to action’ those who visit, it needs to entice them to buy, it needs to SELL itself. I know I can write sales copy but for some reason the prospect has been leaving me stale.

The project itself is one I LOVE, either I need to find a way to get beyond my sales copy blockage, or hire a writer to write the sales copy for me. I would much rather focus on the web technology and maintenance aspects. That is one fact that leads me to Jenny’s final question:

Do you need to find a new niche?

Focus On Direction, Find Your PathI have spent a great deal of time focused on the idea of myself as a freelance writer. I write very well and I can admit that, but my heart isn’t really in putting words to a page. Writing non-fiction is something I feel dispassionate about. I NEED to create, and web copy, sales copy, non-fiction articles, magazine articles and etc. just doesn’t spark my fire of creativity.

I need to focus on those elements where I can FEEL my creativity thrive. The design and programming I do as a Web Technician, for example, creates something real and visually tangible. It also caters to my need for instant gratification because every time I write a new program or edit a design element I can SEE it in action immediately. THAT is where I want to put my focus. That is the niche I feel most comfortable within.

Ask Yourself These Questions

How are you feeling about your career and the direction of your life going into the coming months? Can you answer Jenny’s questions, make changes, and buoy your hope that this year will be one for fantastic change and growth?

Direction: Google Maps Can’t Help Me!

Making choices and changes in any aspect of your life is never easy. While some decisions can be made in an instant others need to be carefully considered. Which is the best course? Which furthers our goals or creates inner harmony with our needs and desires? I’ve come to that place with Writer’s Round-About. It is time to weigh and measure the future of this blog. Google Maps can’t help me decide which road to take, but maybe you can.

Why Are You Here?

Every time we open our web browser, click a link, or search the internet, we are looking for something. When I read blogs I am usually looking for new information. I want to learn more about a topic that interests me. At Writer’s Round-About I’ve tried to share information about topics that interest me. As such, it’s grown from a blog about writing to a blog that covers several key topics and a diverse range of themes.

What brings ‘YOU’ to Writer’s Round-About? Are you here to learn about writing, editing, web design? Is your interest more specific in freelance writing, writing for the web, writing non-fiction, fiction writing, novel writing? Do you just like the atmosphere or are interested in what I’m doing? Are you here to drop your EntreCard and then move on?

Branching Out Or Breaking In

All blogs go through their individual growth stages. Even the probloggers admit that it takes years before a blog has truly found its feet and millions of blogs come and go. I have to admit that I was proud to say, “Happy Birthday” to Writer’s Round-About. The earliest post dates back to June 2007 making us nearly a year and a half old. We’ve had a good run with ups and downs but a fairly consistent posting scale on average. We survived a domain name change and two or three site redesigns.

Is it time to branch out? I could establish at least two new blogs so those of you interested in fiction writing aren’t butting heads against content about web design.

Do we go on as we are? We could continue to expand to allow for a growing range of interests and information.

It’s Your Blog You Choose

Many other blog owners might say this to me but I’m turning around to say this to you. It is the readers who really make a blog, who really own it. What do you want to see happen with Writer’s Round-About? What do you want from this blogs future? Would you be sorry to see it disappear into the abyss of the web?

At this turning point I’m filled with uncertainty and honestly feel pretty naked putting that out there. Writer’s Round-About needs direction, a path, a future. Google Maps can’t help when it comes to choosing a path on the internet or in our personal future, but maybe you can!

Where do we go from here?

Writing In Poverty For Poverty

Isn’t amazing how life intrudes upon good intentions. I had honestly planned to have this post written and published for the 15th but I suppose it wasn’t to be. Still, Blog Action Day was incredible and the support and collaboration for the global effort was truly inspiring.

It’s not Blog Action Day today but I feel it’s never too late to add your voice to a good cause. Did you miss the 15th of October too? Have your say today, or tomorrow. You could even begin planning for another Blog Action Day in the future. Unlike the shortage of food and shelter those in poverty suffer there is an abundance of material, information, and inspiration to reach out and touch another’s heart and mind.

The world around us seems to be rocking at the moment with terms like ‘financial crisis’, ‘economic crash’, and ‘depression’. It seems we are all feeling the pinch as the global economy shifts to accommodate the latest changes in financial infrastructure. The truth is, while it might seem a challenge to make ends meet on our worrisome incomes, freelancers are amongst the richest people in the world.

It can be difficult to find a paying gig, maintain existing clients who are looking to cut financial expenses, or even cover the rising interest rates when it comes to paying amenities and banking fees. But, did you know, your ability to read this post right now makes you one of the wealthiest people on Earth?

Writer’s have often been portrayed as the ultimate ‘starving artist’. In lean months we eat spaghetti from the tin or share canned tuna with the cat. These days however, in cultures that are connected to modern technology we are richer than we have ever been. These days, the majority of homes in the USA, England, and Australia have a web enabled computer, some have more than one. Most homes have a telephone connection, piped water, natural gas, and electricity. Many of us are able to get into gas (petrol) guzzling cars and do grocery shopping at the local supermarket. We are richly provided for and it has become easy to take this for granted.

Even as few as one hundred years ago these modern conveniences were rare. Many had never been imagined. As we trace backward through history we can watch the decline through the ages of the basic standard of living, and yet, for the most part 80% of the world lived in a comfort of their basic needs being met from day to day.

Through that same history, as we trace from the ancient past back to the present their is another historic trend. The poverty-stricken. The percentage is actually surprisingly high, nations of families, men, women, and their children, who do not have basic supplies. Many days they go without food. Clean water is almost a myth. Shelter is ramshackle and filth-ridden at best. Light is something only the sun creates. Social connection involves standing side by side while they wait for a jug of water from the communal well or beating dirty clothes with a rock in a filthy stream.

Becoming aware of our individual wealth, accepting and appreciating how abundant our own lives are is the first step to helping others. As writers, we have a very powerful means to aid others, our voice costs us nothing to provide, our words no more than the paper we write upon and the ink in our pens. We have the means at our fingertips and as we appreciate our wealth we can see how much of ourselves we can afford to give.

What will you give to create change for those who are less blessed? What small action could you take today, or tomorrow, or each week from now on, that could impact in the tiniest fraction the life of one with less than you have? Do you have some ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for creating change in the comments. Have your say, share your thoughts, and perhaps together, we can make a difference.

Blog Action Day 2008 – Don’t Forget!

This Wednesday, the 15th of October 2008 is World Blog Action Day. A single day when blogger around the world unite their voices and take command of the media message. For one day, we’ll do our part to acknowledge, brainstorm, and bring about awareness of poverty. There are millions of people around the world who live, day to day, without basic necessities. While we might feel hard done by to have to only half fill our gas tank entire families are without food or water.

Will you raise your voice with us? How can you discuss poverty on your blog and spread the message to your readers and beyond? How does poverty affect you or the people around you? How can you help create a difference?

Remember: “Charity begins at home.” Are there ways you can improve your own situation? Are there things you have that could be donated to others in need? If every one of us make a commitment to change starting small and radiating out through our family, our neighborhoods, our communities, our cities, states, and nations. We can affect real change and make a difference on lives around the world!

Do your part on Blog Action Day!

Does All Writing Teach?

“If the writer has done his/her job, I come away with new understanding, hopefully having learned something.”

~ Mary Evelyn Lewis

Read to Learn? Write to Teach? - Sending your readers back to school.On her January post for the Absolute Write Blog Chain Challenge, Mary made the above comment which got me wondering: What exactly is a writer’s job? When we write should we always be focused on a greater lesson for our readers? Do we write to teach? Does all good writing leave us having learned something?

There are some books I read simply for the pleasure of reading. As Mary also said, “I read to find out what happens along the way.” I read for the journey, the story, not the outcome. Do you ever feel disappointed if the outcome falls short? (Feel free to rewrite the ending in your mind as if you were the author – I do!)

Some books are just the adventure, but do we ever walk away from a good book unchanged?

I’ve often closed a lite romance novel with that small bubble of optimism and love but it swiftly fades as reality returns. Did I learn something? I don’t know. I don’t feel as if I’ve had a revelation. Do you?

Is this “reading for entertainment” only to be found with novels? Can a good non-fiction book provide an enjoyable, non-teaching pleasure? Do readers ever pick up a copy of a non-fiction book on a topic they know inside out? Do they expect to find something new to learn or do they simply love to read about their passion?

What do you think?

Check out the other writers involved in January’s AW Blog Chain.

This months topic, “writing”!

living my life all over again
Spontaneous Derivation
Jenny Greenleaf: Working Writer
Anything That Pays
Polenth’s Quill
wfg thinks out loud
Spittin’ (out words) Like a Llama
A Thoughtful Life
The Speakeasy
Virtual Wordsmith
The Writer’s Round-About
My Copious Notes Blog
Tennessee Text Wrestling
Twisted Fantasy

SG1 Series Part Two: Character Development

Characters are an elemental part of every story. An intriguing plot with a good story-arc is important but without approachable characters your story will never connect with an audience. Readers need characters. Characters are the socket for your stories power supply. It is through your characters that readers can plug into the plot and experience the life of your story.

The Stargate series introduces a multitude of characters in various stages and of differing quality and consideration. Some play bit parts as extras or body count but others grow into the story, we come to love them or hate them, we come to care for the part they play in the story, their injuries and deaths bring anguish and grief or heartfelt cheers.

SG1 – Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal’c

The original SG1 is a team of four diverse characters. Their differences create an initial challenge; they struggle as a unit until they learn to use each others strengths to counter their own weaknesses. It shows the importance of bringing opposites together. These characters are unique in their own fields. It is their united purposes, each individual to their character, which brings them together. A bond is formed that gives this eclectic community a solid friendship. We see the bond develop and grow with the characters as the series progresses.

It is important to blend characters but avoid carbon copies. Each character should be unique and individual. Distinguish them with separate goals, established histories, areas of interest and technique.

The SGC and General Hammond

The Stargate Command is an entity in its own right. It is actually a collection of individuals that work in regulated ways to create a standardized base of operations. There are many faceless characters lead by the General. Most of the time we don’t connect with these individuals but General Hammond represents the unity. His personality molds the actions of the SGC.

Larger forces need a strong head character to represent their interests. Armies can seem like a long column of faceless men but a charismatic leader will show a distinguishing command of his forces. Each of his men is ultimately the voice of this man and a solid leader is one whose men will lay down their own lives to support the orders he puts forth. This is true of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ guys.

The Goa’uld

While the Goa’uld are a nasty bunch in their own right they are an ideal antagonist. They aren’t evil. They have solid reasoning and a collection of emotional reactions that allow readers to associate with them. The Goa’uld act entirely out of an arrogant sense of self preservation and domination. As a people (um… symbiotic race) they act with rational, intelligent thought. They are challenging but not insurmountable.

Antagonists should be normal people. You can create more impact with a sympathetic antagonist then with a diabolical freak. If a reader can see themselves in a protagonist you have a good story but if readers can see themselves to some small degree in the antagonist then you have a charged situation that will keep a reader tied to the outcome.

There are many more characters involved in the Stargate series. Each new person (or group of people) is shown in snippets. Base motivations appear and personality traits are revealed but characters always have an element that remains unseen. It is impossible to know everything and it is important that characters can still do something unexpected or unpredictable.

Over time, we get to know the main characters. Their own personal stories are revealed and delved into. The primary characters are challenged with personal situations forcing them to make choices that distinguish them. Whole episodes play a vital role in adding depth to these characters and introduce situations that push their qualities forward.

  • Use time in your story to slowly reveal your characters.
  • Allow their actions and reactions to portray the depth of their beliefs and desires.
  • Each scene should use your characters strengths and weaknesses.
  • 3D characters have sides we cannot see.
  • A characters relationships reveal vital clues to their personality.
  • Characters always continue to grow and change based on the situations that occur in each moment of their lives.

Finally, just because your story has reached ‘The End’ does not mean your characters have. Characters should still be imperfect in the final scene. Their growth remains incomplete. Some of your characters may have died but most will live on beyond your closing paragraph and while they began at one point and progressed to another in this story there should always be another world to save, another enemy to fight, another day to live and another dream to follow.

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