Archives For November 2012

When you need to improve your story quickly, you don’t have time for long lectures, expensive courses or to hunt down that how-to writing book you read three years ago. When time is running out, simply apply the following five strategies to instantly improve your stories.

1. The Slash Strategy.

As hard as it might be, cut as much as possible. Like a crazed literary sociopath, slash away at paragraphs and whole pages. Consider cutting the first page. Sometimes stories take too long to get started. Cut as many pages from the beginning as possible since that’s where most stories fail. Hack, hack, hack. The resulting version will often be a cleaner, stronger and more powerful story.

2. The Merge Strategy

How many characters make up the fictional cast of your story? Whatever the number, consider reducing the cast by asking characters to  play more than one role. Can the best friend also be the cop? Can the love interest also be the boss? Combing roles often adds layers of richness to the story, while complicating the relationships. Both qualities of a riveting story.

3. The Tension Strategy

Add tension to every page of the story. If you don’t have time for a complete tension makeover, add tension to every page for the first 20 pages. If tension already exists on a page, add another form or strengthen the current form. The more tension, the better. Many stories fail for a lack of tension, especially in the beginning.

4. The Craving Strategy

What does your main character, the protagonist, want more than anything? What about the antagonist or villain? Make them want it more. The higher their motivation, the better fictional battle. Ask, “How can this goal matter more to my character?” Keep asking the question until you increase the craving for the goal three or four times.

5. The Take-Away Strategy

Make a quick list of what your character needs to accomplish his or her goal? Maybe it’s another character, a special item or some secret knowledge. Whatever the character needs, take it away. All of it? Not necessary, but it’s a good idea to consider slowly and surely removing all the things the character needs. This creates suspense and a growing dread that the protagonist might not win in the end. In other words, a nail-biting experience for readers.

I hope using these five strategies will help you improve your writing quickly. You might want to make a copy and post it somewhere within eyesight, or save it to your computer for easy access. If you’ve enjoyed the tips, please also consider sharing them with your friends and followers. If you want to see the strategies applied in narrative form, please check out my latest novel, Dark Halo.

Sincerely,

Christopher Kokoski

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First, I’d like to thank Hunter S. Jones at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009SCXVMK for inviting me to participate in my first ‘blog hop’. I’m publishing mine a few hours early—take that Mercury Retrograde!

What is the (working title) of your book?

The title of our book is “Unputdownable Tales of Terror,” though we usually just call it UTOT. Our standing joke is that it’s not a book venerating a fictional god of Egypt; rather, it’s a book I co-wrote with Lynn Anders—filled with our stygian stories, song lyrics and poems (many previously published in other anthologies).

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I can’t remember exactly how we came up with the idea for our book, but I met Lynn Anders at a Waldenbooks signing a little over three years ago, and we’ve been close friends since. She and I were both signing, and we had a blast at that signing and lots of other ensuing Waldenbooks signings—till they closed shop last year. We thought it would be fun to promote something together, and it has been! In fact, we’re looking forward to collaborating together again in the future!
What genre does your book fall under?

The short stories fall in the horror and dark fantasy genres, though I like to employ lots of dark humor and even love being campy at times, too. In my opinion, there should be a genre for just vampire lit. at this point, too! 🙂 In which case, our book would fall in that genre as well.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In my short story titled “Nine Strippers,” one of the nine is a male, so I could see him (my unscrupulous kind of psychic vamp, a character called Sergeant Tachyon) played by Gerard Butler, my YATV (Young Adult Turned Vampire in my world of many different vampire species and supspecies) female protagonist named Jade played by someone like Jessica Biel or a younger Angela Bassett or a younger Demi Moore. Even a relatively unknown actress would do well as my lead YATV, if they met the criteria: namely a strong-willed female with a super-muscular body to match. My positive kind of psychic vamp, a female character named Portia, I could see being played by Emilia Clarke; I love her character, Daenerys Targaryen in the television series, “Game of Thrones.” I’ve created enough characters in my short stories and novels over the years to probably employ half of Hollywood.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A collection of stygian stories, song lyrics and poetry (many previously published in anthologies, etc.) by G.L. Giles and Lynn Anders.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

This book was traditionally published, though I have self-published in the past as well. Recently, I’ve had the good fortune of having two of my previously self-published books picked up by BlackWyrm Publishing: “Water Vamps” and my compendium. I’m elated, to say the least, and I’m also currently writing a zombie novel for BlackWyrm Publishing. So, stay tuned…2013 is already shaping up to be a busy and great year!!!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took us about two years to gather everything, etc.. I interview lots of great fine artists, musicians and writers for Target Audience Magazine at http://targetaudiencemagazine.com/ and I write reviews for Infernal Dreams at http://www.infernaldreams.net/about-us.html so I generally stay busy!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I am always inspired by strong-willed females and males who also show great compassion towards animals and our fellow human beings. I also admire those who aren’t afraid of change and strive to make the world a better place. Many of my characters demonstrate these traits in their own way, and the ones who don’t are oftentimes my antagonists. .
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’m not sure what else I can say to pique a reader’s interest, but I will say in this ‘Blog Hop’ that I’m more than a little interested in paleocontact theory these days, and I would love to find a way to gather together more of the vampy ‘plot bunnies’ hopping around in my mind— and other zombie plotlines incessantly gnawing at my brain—into future short stories and/or novels one day.
***Thanks, it’s been a blast, and here are some other writers (and their books) I recommend checking out:

Deanna Anderson at http://andersondeanna.weebly.com/my-bibliography.html
Gary Starta at http://www.amazon.com/Kindred-Killers-Gary-Starta/dp/0957146280/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353462710&sr=1-8&keywords=Gary+Starta

Christopher Kokoski at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Halo-Christopher-Kokoski/dp/1613181280/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353462808&sr=1-1&keywords=christopher+kokoski

Evelyn Smith at http://www.amazon.com/Transylvania-Louisiana-Evelyn-Smith/dp/0741450682/ref=la_B005OKNOYK_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353462604&sr=1-1

Hunter S. Jones at http://www.amazon.com/Fables-of-the-Reconstruction-ebook/dp/B009SCXVMK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353462916&sr=1-1&keywords=Hunter+S.+Jones

“Unputdownable Tales of Terror” by GL Giles