Tag Archives: process

Gordon Kessler with StoryMasters

StoryMasters POD Front Cover Black 9-2-2015 XI’m welcoming a special guest today and a long-time writing friend, Gordon Kessler. He is currently promoting his newest writing help book for novice to seasoned authors, STORYMASTERS – Advanced Notions in Novel Writing.

I could go on and on about this talented writer, but I will let him share some of his history himself.

When I started writing novels back twenty-five years ago, I didn’t know how to even begin or where to turn for advice.  I was lucky, after going to a writers conference or two, I soon found a mentor in a writer named Mike McQuay, author of Escape from New York, Richter Ten (developed from a short treatment by Arthur C. Clarke), and some thirty other novels.

JezebelBefore long, I had started a “free university” class in Wichita, Kansas, passing on everything I knew to fellow wordsmith wannabes—and I eventually taught a few community college classes. I queried publishers on my first completed manuscript, JEZEBEL, and I got my first book deal on the second submission back in 1992. The World was mine … nyah, ah, a-ah! Well, not quite. Let’s just say a whole lot has happened since then.

Book deals fell through, big name NYC agents came and went … and so did my beloved mentor. Mike McQuay died in 1996. Soon after, lost and seeking some kind of an anchor for my writer’s soul, I helped form the Kansas Writers Association, and was their first president.

Then along came Leonard Bishop, a wonderful writer and well-known writing instructor, to help fill the void Mike had left. The author of Dare to Be a Great Writer as well as a number of critically claimed novels (one made into a TV movie of the week), Leonard was an amazing man. I enjoyed his friendship and guidance for over five years, until, on a very sad day in 2002, he too passed.

Mike and Leonard were polar opposites in both their styles and in many of their writing techniques—still both had found their own ways of very effectively entertaining their audiences. I consider myself super fortunate to get such a broad range of understanding from two of the most wonderful writing mentors available, and these relationships helped me tremendously with my own career.

With everything I’d learned from my cherished mentors, and in leading writers organizations, attending dozens of conferences—actually heading up a few along the way—developing relationships with those in the publishing industry (including bestselling authors and big-five publishing house editors), reading hundreds of writing books and magazines, teaching novel-writing classes, studying and getting a degree in English composition with a focus in creative writing, I began writing NOVEL WRITING MADE SIMPLE in 2004. Primarily to keep me on track by gathering all I’d learned into one place one snippet at a time, I organized it into a textbook for my writing.

Indie Publishing

Lots of stories in between of the ups and downs in my writing career, but I won’t bore you anymore about that.  I found my soul’s anchor and some success in “indie publishing” my own novels and books on writing, putting out seventeen titles in eBooks, many of those in print (POD), and a few in audiobooks, as well. Of course besides editing expertise incumbent to my English degree, I’ve picked up a few other important skills along the way, including a professional understanding of eBook and print-book formatting, book-cover design and online book publishing platforms. This leads nicely into my passion for helping fellow writers—paying it forward. I’ve found great reward in assisting hundreds of other writers to hone their skills and become both “indie” as well as traditionally published.

StoryMasters POD Front Cover Black 9-2-2015 XStoryMasters, my latest book on writing, could be considered the eighth edition of Novel Writing Made Simple, as I used my old reliable novel-writing text for the basis of the new work. However, StoryMasters is a considerable rethinking and revision of the older text, updated and added to with an in-depth look at suspense, new thoughts on subtext, and visiting new areas like “free indirect discourse,” “full reader empathy and emersion” (FREE), and “story storming”. I hope you take a peek—it’s guaranteed to give even the seasoned storyteller a new way to look at a number of fiction-writing notions.


BUY LINK: Amazon

Website & Blog: http://GordonKessler.com

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Thriller Novelist, Writing Coach, Editor & Cover Designer l Author of Novel Writing Made Simple

BRAINSTORM, DEAD RECKONING & JEZEBEL l “The E Z Knight Reports” Action/Adventure Series

Indie Writers Alliance Website: www.IndieWritersAlliance.com & Blog: http://WritersMatrix.com/Wordpress

Finding names for your characters

Today I am sharing some useful reference sources for Finding names for your characters.

name tagThere are lots of baby name sources in books and all over the Internet.

These are some that are a little more fun, more unique.




Cowpoke Names (for deciding on your cowboy or cowgirl name)

Bad Boy Names (no description necessary, right?)

Heroic Names

Medieval Names

Names of Knights

How to find unique names for your characters

Character name generator for creative writers








PUBLISHING PROCESS: Understanding Contracts

Making that first sale is far beyond exciting and the first time the writer must seriously think about legalities. Of course, future sales are just as exciting.

The first sale of a writing project may be just a verbal agreement or an agreement in an email. Even then, though, the writer must learn how to protect yourself and what you have agreed to provide and receive.

If the first sale results in the writer receiving a written contract, it is important that you understand what is included in the contract. Do not let your excitement over a sale keep you from knowing your rights and what you are agreeing to with a publisher.

My article on Understanding Contracts contains a brief bulleted list of things of which you need to be aware. The most important part of the article this time are the links to a number of online sources for excellent discussions about contracts. For my full article, see the Writers Tools page and the Finished Products section, Publishing Process. Or use this direct link to the article Publishing Process: Understanding Contracts.

Submission Elements: Agent or Editor Meeting

Now to move along to another possible step in the submission process: a meeting with an agent or an editor. If you have the opportunity to attend a writers’ conference of any size that will have agents or editors in attendance, do it. And sign up for a brief meeting with an agent or editor interested in work similar to yours.

Having a quick chance to sit down and present your project in person to an agent or an editor can potentially shorten the whole submission process. It is essential you are properly prepared for the meeting. You must come across as professional as possible.

For the full article on Agent or Editor Meetings, look under the Writers Tools, under the Finished Product on this website, or use this direct link to Agent or Editor Meeting.

Submission Elements: The Pitch

This isn’t necessarily part of the submission process, yet having a quick one sentence to one-two paragraph pitch about your writing project is essential. Preparing a simple summary pitch for the project can be even harder than paring your work down to the several paragraph blurb. Once you master how to dig out the absolute important matters to get across, you will be ready for any quick promotional effort. This can be well worth your time and few minutes of anxiety.

For the full article look under the Writers Tools, under The Finished Product on this website, or use this direct link to The Pitch.

Finished Product: How to Choose an E-Publisher

I am moving from the editing process of your manuscript to what to do now with your finished product. This is a very important thought and research process. You have spent a lot of time writing and cleaning up your manuscript. Unless your plan is to bury it under your bed or hide it in a closet or some such nonsense, it is time to figure out that “What next?”

I have been writing and selling my manuscripts for quite a while now, around ten years. My process no longer usually–and I stress the ‘usually’–begins with just writing for the love and joy of the experience. As you should know if you have reached this finished product stage, sometimes there is a little hate and growling around involved in the writing experience. Still, I mainly write because I enjoy it. All of the experience: the coming up with an idea, the figuring out how to piece the characters and conflicts together, having my heroine find new and irritating ways to annoy the hero, having the hero learn to accept that he loves the drive-him-crazy heroine anyway, etc., etc.

Back to where I was going with my not usually just writing for the experience… I also do not ‘usually’ write something with the idea of figuring out later where I want to submit the manuscript. I am fortunate enough at this point in my writing career to have two e-publishers that I absolutely love working with. And occasionally there is a third one. I know what they like, how they work, and what they expect of me and what I expect of them. But that does not mean I don’t sometimes consider submitting to other places additionally. It is always good to keep your options open. But I must also stress here that I believe it is very important to be loyal to those who have helped build your career and helped you hone your skills.

With this particular blog post, I am focusing on what should go into your decision about seeking an e-publisher. There are a ton of them on the Internet, but you need to choose wisely. I know quite a few authors who have gotten badly burned, so to speak, by going with a house they didn’t thoroughly check out. Do not be one of those victims.

As always, I have added the artlce on How to Choose an E-Publisher to the Writing Tips on this blog (under My Writing Tips: Finished Product) and to the Writing Tools on my website.

The Process: EDITING: General Tips

This is my final post on editing, some general tips. I hope you have learned some useful ideas for when you go back and review/edit your first draft…your second draft. I enjoy doing these little summaries on the various parts of the writing process because I re-learn some things as I pull together my thoughts. I have a lot of those “oh, right!” moments and then think about what I need to do to my current projects.

My next series of posts will turn to the finished product and the whole “what do I do now” matter. I hope you keep following the blog.

As always, I have added the article on EDITING: General Tips to the Writing Tips on this blog and to the Writng Tools on my website.

The Process: EDITING: Dialogue & Point of View

To continue with my basic thoughts about reviewing and editing your first (or second) manuscript draft, I want to focus on dialogue and Point Of View (POV) this time.

It is important that your reader understand whose “eyes” and “thoughts” the story is being seen through. This is also a tricky part of writing for the author. It is so easy to slip from one character’s “head” to another without meaning to do so. Yes, you can use more than one POV in a story, but you must be careful about doing that. Only do that if you have a real purpose for letting the reader experience the story from more than one person’s viewpoint.

Watching how the dialogue is written, as well as proper use of dialogue tags, is very important, too.

As always, I have added the article on EDITING: Dialogue and Point of View to the Writing Tips on this blog and to the Writing Tools on my website.

The Process: EDITING: Characters

I am sorry about not posting anything new lately, but I have been away on vacation…risking life and limb bicyling downhill in Virginia and doing some kayaking. Anyway, I am more or less back now.

To continue the revision process, I wanted to bring up some things to consider when looking at the characters in your fictional work. I have an article which runs through a quick checklist of what to look for in thinking about your characters. The key thing is to make sure they (including the villain) appear believable.

As always, I have added the article on EDITING: Characters to the Writing Tips on this blog and to the Writing Tools on my website.

The Process: EDITING: Nouns and Pronouns

Continuing along in the editing process in your writing, I thought we should do a quick review of the proper usage of nouns and pronouns.

My biggest problem is remembering how to punctuate possessive nouns correctly. Do you add ‘s or just an apostrophe? For example: Is it boy’s? Or is it boys’? Actually the first (boy’s) is singular possessive. The second (boys’) is plural possessive. There are other tricky things to remember, like when do you capitalize proper nouns?

To learn more about these writing elements, I have added my artilce, EDITING: Nouns and Pronouns, to the Writing Tips on this blog and to my Writing Tools on my website.

The Process: EDITING: Dashes, Ellipsis Points, Numbers

I am finally beginning my discussions on various Editing elements in your writing. Some of the punctuation elements I have the most trouble with are when and how to use dashes (em- or en-dashes) and ellipsis points. I am forever and again breaking up pieces of dialogue or narrative with dashes or using ellipsis points to show faltering speech. But it is important to do these things correctly.

Do you know the difference between an “em dash” and an “en dash”? Do you understand whether to use an “em dash” or “ellipsis points”?

What about the many different usages of numbers and numerals? Do you know when to spell out a number or when to use the numeral?

To learn more about these writing elements, I have added my article, EDITING: Dashes, Ellipsis Points, Numbers, to the Writing Tips on this blog and to my Writing Tools on my website.

The Process: Climax and Story Resolution

The story you’ve been working on is almost finished at this point. But are you sure you understand what a Story Climax is supposed to be? Do you understand what a Story Resolution means?

This part of the story can be approimately 25% of the work, so it is very important. At this point, the reader is getting ready to experience the peak of the story’s suspense, drama, rising action and tension. The reader is waiting for everything to come together involving the characters. This is an emotional high point for the characters as well as the reader. Do not let any of them down!

To learn more about story climax and resolution, I have added my article, Climax and Story Resolution, to the Writing Tips on this blog and to my Writing Tools on my website.