Tag Archives: Lucy Faraday

Storytelling Secrets to Make Your Novel Unforgettable (Guest Post)

Freelance writer Lucy Faraday is back guest posting again today with a post on secrets for an unforgettable novel (you may remember her recent guest post on Poor Man’s Copyright).

Storytelling Secrets to Make Your Novel Unforgettable

If you’re an author you’ve likely been given countless tips and techniques to make your stories really shine. The reality is that there are (unfortunately) no magic wands that you can simply wave to create the next Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire series. There are, however, a few well-kept secrets that many authors already employ without some people even realising it. These concepts, ideas, and tips help to keep a story not only going along at a lightning pace, but also keep the readers glued to the pages, eager to know what happens next. The aim is to keep your readers laid back and glued to their seat desperate to continue reading simply by creating characters and situations that really bring your story to life. And it’s probably much easier than you think. So without further ado, here are the storytelling secrets you need to make your next novel truly unforgettable.

Collect interesting names

One of the biggest challenges facing authors is naming their characters. Some writers are able to simply pluck them out of the air and have them sound great first time, but others need to take a little more time over it. Many famous novels feature unforgettable character names (examples include Albus Dumbledore, Jon Gatsby, Tyrion Lannister, and so on). If you have a hard time generating memorable character names on the spot, here’s a handy tip: keep a notepad (or your smartphone) handy, and whenever you come across a good name in your day-to-day life, jot it down. Then, when you come to name your creations, you’ll never be at a loss for words.

Give your characters a signature

In order to leave a lasting impact on readers, writers need to make the characters as memorable as possible. Not just in terms of name as we discussed above, but also in their mannerisms and the way they talk. To make your characters really stand out, one good idea is to give each of them a signature of some kind. This could be a limp, an eye patch, a noticeable scar, a vocal tick – the list goes on. The aim is to make the reader feel like they really know a character and could recognise them anywhere. That way, your book will be much more memorable.

Give your readers mental landmarks

In much the same way as you’ll want to make characters recognisable, you may also do the same with setting and environment. For example, if you were writing a yarn about pirates and two of the characters were having a swashbuckling sword fight, would you simply place them on a ‘sandy beach’? If you do, your reader doesn’t have much to go on. But put them instead on the edge of a cliff teetering above a rock formation that resembles a human skull and you’ve created an instantly memorable mental landmark. It’s things like this that turn a good book into a great one. Mental landmarks work anywhere, not just during action sequences. They allow readers to truly build the world in their mind, and their immersion in the story gets a boost at the same time.

As Faulkner said, “Kill your darlings”

William Faulkner was one of the proponents of the great American novel, and he was also a font for writing knowledge. One of his most famous quotes is “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” – but what does this mean for modern authors? Well, simply put, it means that you mustn’t become too heavily attached to characters. If you do, your story runs the risk of becoming stale. By building up a character and really falling for them, then dealing them a fatal blow, you’ll throw a spanner in the works and create tense moments that will remain with your readers forever. If you need any tips on how best to eliminate characters that you may have spent hundreds of pages creating, take a leaf out of George RR Martin’s book. In A Song of Ice and Fire, he kills more main characters than we can count!

So there you have it: just a handful of ways you can make your next book unforgettable. The same rules apply whether you’re writing a 1000-page tome or a short story, so don’t feel like you have to write a novel to try these out. With a little work, and a little effort, you’ll find your writing (and the immersion it offers readers) will only grow in time.

The Myth of Poor Man’s Copyright (Guest Post)

This week’s guest post comes from freelance writer Lucy Faraday. I found the topic to be quite interesting. I’ve never posted my work to myself, but I do email work to myself quite often. I’d love to hear the thoughts of others on this topic in the comments.

The Myth of Poor Man’s Copyright

There is a prevailing myth that a simple way of establishing copyright of your work is to send a parcel to yourself containing a copy of your manuscript and leave the envelope unopened. Known as poor man’s copyright, this is an unfounded and potentially dangerous misunderstanding that is often maintained amongst inexperienced writers. The belief has absolutely no basis in reality for a number of reasons, as well as perpetuating the falsehood of the necessity of establishing copyright in the first place.

Why You Shouldn’t Believe It

Put simply, a manuscript in an unopened envelope proves nothing except that it was written before the date of the postmark. Ignoring potential issues such as the possibility of envelopes being steamed open or the postmark becoming smudged and illegible, if the envelope were presented as supposed proof of copyright, a number of counterpoints would be immediately raised.

Principally, simply being in possession of a manuscript does not in any way prove that you are the author of it. Sure, you might be able to give a detailed explanation of its contents and quote extensively from it, but that doesn’t prove it didn’t come from somewhere else. For all that can be established, you could have been memorizing from another copy taken before this one was posted in preparation for such a performance.

If such a manuscript were produced as evidence of plagiarism after the publication of a book with suspiciously similar content, it still doesn’t prove you are the original author. It might cast suspicion upon the author of the published work, but it doesn’t do you any good. You could just have easily stolen it from the same person the author did.

Why It May Be Unnecessary

It’s perfectly understandable to be cautious about protecting yourself against plagiarism and theft, but if you are concerned your work being stolen by publishers, you’re worrying for nothing.

Unless the work of a first time author captures the imagination of its target audience to such an extent that it redefines the cultural zeitgeist, their books will not bring in any great profit for quite some time. There are exceptions (the high school exploits of a certain teenage wizard spring to mind) but for the most part it will take years of perseverance both on the part of the authors, the agents and the publishers before any kind of notoriety is attained. The writing industry is one that requires a lot of time, dedication and hard work for all involved, and nobody chooses to get involved with it unless they are passionate about books.

Contrary to popular belief, agencies do not exist to fleece young writers for all they’re worth by stealing their work to make millions from by cutting them out of the loop. The truth is that the work of new writer will not yield much revenue to fleece them of in the first place.

Accusations of theft and plagiarism are the nightmares of any reputable agencies and they will do all they can to avoid such allegations. With the rise of ebooks and the increasing viability of indie publishing, traditional publishing houses are slowly seeing their historical sources of revenue dry up and they would certainly not risk their trading reputation on the chance success of an unknown’s stolen work.

The scam agencies you were warned against are ones that demand up-front payment from the writers before doing any work, and they operate without caring about what you’ve written in the first place. They are in the business of fraud, not theft.

How Copyright Actually Works

Most countries nowadays follow the Berne Convention in establishing copyright, one of the basic provisions of which is that copyright protects an original work from the moment of its creation. The official copyright notice printed on authors’ works strengthens the protection only insofar as warning people against attempting to misappropriate it.

The reason that this may not be so well known is that the US did not sign the agreement until 1989, and the UK, despite signing it in 1887, took over a century getting around to actually implementing it with The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

Although possessing copyright is simple enough, establishing it is another matter entirely, and one considerably more complex than simply being in possession of a self-addressed envelope.

More significant is that most court cases involving copyright infringement are not about establishing a work’s authorship, but rather violations of fair use policies or unauthorized duplication of the work. Additionally, you will only be eligible to claim either how much the infringement made or how much it caused you to lose, which either way will likely be next to nothing.

Poor man’s copyright is particularly useless in this instance as to sue someone for infringement you are first required to have officially registered your work with the relevant government office, the one thing that poor man’s copyright is used to circumvent the cost of doing in the first place. There is not a single recorded instance of poor man’s copyright ever having been used to successfully establish ownership of a work, and the sooner this myth ceases being disseminated, the better off all new writers will be.

EDITED TO ADD:

I just found this great post with information on copyright for authors, including copyrighting your work and fair use: Six Frequently Asked Copyright Questions.

~ Jo