With the proliferation of open mic nights and spoke word events, there are now many opportunities for writers to perform their work. Even if you would rather drink battery acid than read for an audience, I encourage you think again. Reading your work is a wonderful way to reach a wider audience, doubling as an occasion to develop confidence in yourself and in your writing.
I first began my writing career as a playwright, and am a great fan of actors. In my experience, the reading nights that work best are those in which actors read. It makes sense, then, that when preparing for performance writers could do worse than turn to the actor’s craft of performance. What is it that makes actors such engaging storytellers? Of course there is the stage experience, but there’s more to it than experience. The best actors assume professionalism in all performance, and that means preparation and rehearsal – of the voice, of the script, and of the work.
So here are some practical tips based on the actor’s craft designed to help you prepare for performance, so that you will be your dynamic best when standing in the spotlight:
It used to be the case that I actively sought out every single social networking platform available if it had the potential for me to sell my books. When I was first published back in 2010, I took on this task enthusiastically, occupying every single space I could and I shouted – Oh Man Did I Shout – because I thought that was what you had to do in order to be successful.
But I quickly learned that, aside from the fact that there are millions of others out there shouting just as loudly, having a presence everywhere was hard work. It was really hard work. It didn't sell my books. And it didn't make me happy. I soon began to
Some will say that making as many connections as possible is key to growing your author brand and being successful. It's not. Others say that you have to maintain a frequent and active presence on social media in order to be successful. That's true...Kind of.
Some time ago, I reassessed my own platform and I quickly discovered why it was making me so unhappy – aside from the realisation that “BUY MY BOOKS” wasn't working. I was in too many places at once. Trying to do to many things in those places without considering what those places could offer me that could streamline my workload. Eventually, I decided to jettison a lot of those platforms, bringing it back to a small number of interconnected ones. I also changed the way I
present myself to the wider world.
Central to my online platform is my author website. This is the core portal for everything related to my writing and it is here where I have information about myself, my books (including links to purchase those books), samples of my writing style in the form of short stories and unedited samples from my published works and links to media I have done – including interviews and podcast appearances. I maintain a blog here as well and I try (with the emphasis on “try”) to post once a week. That regimen is admittedly, hard to maintain particularly when I am heavily involved in a project.
The next important portal is my Facebook Author Page. Here I post links to my blog posts when I post them. I'll also post links to interesting articles – usually related to writing or media – and you'll often find posts that promote the work of others, my friends who are writers or musicians whose work I like to support. Sometimes I'll post status updates that are just random, stream of consciousness type posts – things that I find funny and that I hope others will too. I have my Author Page linked to my Twitter account so that any time I post something on my Page, it'll immediately post to Twitter. I always try to come in under the 140 character limit dictated by Twitter so that my tweets won't get truncated and I always try to use hashtags – to enhance the potential of those posts being seen.
As a fiction writer, I feel incredibly lucky being able to let my imagination run free. I can stretch the limitations of reality and take my reader on journeys through distant places and times. I create characters and communities and have even conjured up the odd planet or two. But amidst all of this wonderment and fantasy, I do still have a responsibility to my reader: to consciously support their suspension of disbelief. The moment their curious mind suggests that something in my story doesn't add up, all of my creations might just as well drift into one of the black holes they dutifully avoided.
This need not mean a tireless justification for every odd occurrence in the story, but references back to the world as we know it must remain true to the commonly accepted laws of science or contain justification. For example, in my upcoming novel the characters embark on a tour of the universe, including a pass through the sun in our solar system. Imagine our sun for a moment. If it's a clear day, peak outside and catch a glimpse. Depending on the time, you might see a bright, golden orb hanging in the sky, radiating light and heat. We often hear descriptions about golden light and energy, linking back to the sun's power.
To describe the sun in such terms as my characters enjoy a closeup view would be inaccurate. The atmosphere of planet earth is what attributes that golden hue to our nearest star. From the perspective of space, that star glows white. As an author, I can choose to have it simply appear as white light to my characters or I can contrive a means for it to appear golden just like on earth. Either way, it is my duty to address the truth of the matter in the fiction I am writing.
Similarly, taking time to review what you have written is crucial because suspension of disbelief also relies on tight continuity. This could boil down to something as simple as describing your protagonist's car with plush black leather seats in one chapter and having that same car feature a chocolate brown interior several chapters later. Keeping tabs on the world you are creating is vital to making sure your reader stays with you right to the end.
Maybe your character was born in a specific year, but the events of their childhood indicate they were born earlier or later. Again, this comes down to research. Choose a year now, any year, and search for markers of that time: major events, available technology, popular fashion and music. Everybody is unique in how they relate to the world with their own preference for sight, sound, touch, smell or taste. Using as many of those senses in your prose will illuminate your fictitious world and captivate readers with each of those preferences. For example, I am not well versed in fashion through the ages, so would struggle to read a passage that heavily described someone's attire. However, if their environment includes some familiar music, I will enjoy the ride.
Whatever your journey, investing time to make sure your details are plausible will make your story stronger and earn the trust of your reader. You might even end up tinkering with those facts to create something completely new and exciting: imagine a planet where the creatures are phosphorous based instead of carbon based like you and me... or grab a copy of my new novel, Hazel of Angeldom, in 2016 to discover what my version of that is.
About A J Le Roy
Andrew Le Roy was was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. Since that time he has lived in Darwin, where he hosted a popular Drive-time radio program before moving to his current home in the Adelaide Hills.
He published a novella, Gordon's Apprentice, in 2013 and is due to release his first novel, Hazel of Angeldom, in 2016. The novel is a prequel to Gordon's Apprentice and explores the main character's journey from death on earth to finding her place in the afterlife.
Andrew established ALR Publishing in 2013 to release Gordon's Apprentice and now makes publishing available at low cost to independent authors who are ready to bring their books to the big wide world. If that sounds like you, Andrew would love to hear from you.
ALR Publishing on Facebook
Gordon on Facebook
Le Roy's Creations on Facebook
Purchase Gordon's Apprentice:
By now it will be all over.
The winners will have won, the losers … well, they’ll have won too.
I don’t believe there are any losers in NaNoWriMo. Everyone who enters National Novel Writing Month is a winner. They have all taken the plunge. They have decided to do something that many people talk about, even more people think about, but not so many actually do. They will have committed to writing a novel.
The idea of writing a novel in a month may seem a bit far fetched, and, in actuality, it would be. To write a completed, edited and polished novel, proofread and publishable in one month, is a bit far-fetched. Hats off to anyone who manages to do that!
But the idea of writing 50,000 words of a novel is not far-fetched. It has been done. It has been accomplished by hundreds of thousands of writers every year since NaNoWriMo began 25 years ago, in 1991.
Some NaNoWriMo facts (partially taken from the NaNo site):
To be a NaNo winner, the entrants have to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November.
The reason I say that even those who don’t achieve that goal are winners is because, unless they give up before they start, they will probably have written more words in the month than they usually do, and they will have gone with the flow.
In my experience, when you are up against a deadline like that, you have to turn the inner critic off, that little voice in the back of your head that says things like, ‘This is rubbish. No-one is going to want to read such a load of drivel.’ You have to give yourself permission to write badly, to get the story out of your imagination and onto the page just as it comes to you.
And that’s true even if you have plotted meticulously. Your story plan is unlikely to be 50,000 words long, so you are going to have to flesh it out. You are going to have to write, and write, and write without taking too long to choose the perfect word, the perfect phrase. That will come later. That will happen in the editing process, the next draft. During NaNoWriMo, you just need to get that all-important first draft written, you have to go with the flow.
Someone famously said, ‘You can’t edit a blank page.’ I have said it so often to other new writers that I feel like it’s my quote, but it’s not. I read it somewhere. So, if you’re out there, reading this post and you coined the phrase, kudos to you. It’s such a concise way of telling all would-be authors, ‘Get that first draft written, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Just go with the flow.’
Words are not meant to stand alone, they are designed to be used in sentences, in paragraphs, in speeches, in conversations, in stories. They naturally flow. They flow.
If you want to get that novel written. Just let them.
Just go with the flow.
In my experience, that is exactly what NaNoWriMo pushes you to do.
So, November is over.
The winners have won, the losers … have won too.
This November may be over, but there’s always next year. But you don’t have to wait till then. There’s always http://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in
Follow the link and find your way to writing that great novel you have in mind in the first half of next year.
Or pick a month, any month. Commit to writing 50,000 words of the first draft of your new novel. Commit to yourself. Commit to others. Tell your friends, your spouse, your parents, your Auntie Beanie. Tell them you’re doing it, that you want to be held accountable for doing it. You want someone to ask you every day what your word count is.
Just have a go. Let the words flow.
You can always write another novel next November, next NaNoWriMo.
You just have to …
About Christine Campbell
Christine Campbell lives in a small village outside of Edinburgh with her husband, and whatever assortment of children and grandchildren happen to be visiting at the time.
When she has a moment of peace, and is not distracted by the varied wildlife currently taking up residence in her garden, Christine writes novels or for her blog at
You can also find her onFacebook
She is currently working on the third instalment in 'The Reluctant Detective' series, the follow up to 'Searching for Summer' and 'Traces of Red'. You can find these and her previous works, in paperback and ebook, on Amazon.
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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