Simply put, a story arc is the transformation of a character from one state to another. It’s the growth process of the hero, the empowerment of an underdog, or the digression of an antagonist. A single book has a small growth journey for the main character, but the best place to witness a story arc is in a long-running television series. To keep the viewers interested, these characters will transform over time.
Watch any soap opera and you will see a great example of a story arc. You most likely won’t see a great storyline, but the arc is definitely there. I apologize to all of you daytime television lovers out there, but on the grand scheme of things, no book series would last twenty years by constantly adding more drama between such plastic and unrealistic characters.
How many of your favorite characters started out as a bad guy, but throughout the series of events, he slowly transforms into a likable person? This is a good example of a story arc.
All writers need to keep this basic arc in mind when writing fiction stories, or even nonfiction in some cases. If you are writing your life story, then this will be your journey to awareness. Ask yourself the following questions whether you are writing your life story or you’re writing fiction.
What are the hero’s characteristics, circumstances, and values to begin with?
What happens to the hero during this story and how does it change and mold the character?
At the end of your book, how has the hero changed?
When writing a series of books the story arc becomes more prevalent. You don’t want one character to grow tremendously in book one and then start over in book two. Start the growth journey from the character’s current position.
Could only five minor adjustments make or break your writing career? Synova thinks so. Here are five things you can implement today to help you succeed. This is part three of a five-part series.
#3 Self Study
Successful authors are continually studying. I know that sounds scary to those who hated school, but it’s easy when you find your perfect way of studying.
Whether you choose to self publish or to be traditionally published, you must learn how to market your book. When you have your manuscript completed, you are only 5% finished. Yes, you read that right. 95% of an author’s work is in marketing.
Publishers will NOT market your book for you!
I know it says on their website that they are going to help with marketing, but their idea of helping is uploading it to their website with all the other books they have published. You will not be found. Publishing houses spend their marketing budget on the top 3% of authors. That means unless you have a name like J.K. Rowling, you will not have one dollar spent on your marketing campaign. Trust me on this. I learned it the hard way.
Nowadays, the marketplace is flooded with books, and it’s your job to stand out from the crowd. If you can’t accomplish this, then you will be lost in the sea of want-to-be writers.
Don’t Despair. There’s Hope!
Successful authors know they have to keep an eye on their market. They have found their target audience and are actively studying their interests.
True Crime Example:
As usual, I will give you an example from the true-crime side of my business. I wrote my first book Unorganized Crimeand marketed it as the biography of an ex-gangster from Chicago. There is one problem with this. The market has been flooded with Mafia-style books, and now the public is more interested in cold cases, serial killers, and even the Dixie Mafia. The Italian Mafia is slowly becoming “Old News” in the marketplace. I will be rebranding this book and relaunching it after the first of the year.
Constant study is necessary to stay on top of these market trends. Also, you need to be studying delivery methods in the marketplace. Facebook Algorithms are continually changing. Youtube video guidelines are changing. Technology is continually evolving, and a good marketer will change along with them.
I also make it a habit to study the best in my field. Find the leaders in your genre and model their business plan. Don’t copy them, but find out what works for them and use it as inspiration to create your own business plan.
Self-study is the key to success in any field of endeavor, but some people hate book work. I understand that. Luckily, we live in the information age, and we can acquire the knowledge we need in various ways. Videos abound online, and most of what you need to get started, you can find for FREE on Youtube. Other video tutorials have a small cost, but it’s worth it when your business starts to flourish.
Audiobooks are a valuable resource, and you can get a subscription to Amazon’s Audible for less than $15/month. I recently found the Scribd App. It allows its subscribers to have unlimited audiobooks a month for less than $7/month. Look over the various options for audio programs. You can listen to them on your daily commute. Think about it. If you drive minutes to and from work, that is an hour a day that you could be studying. That hour will multiply to a whopping 260 hours a year! Do you realize the average college student only spends approximately 72 hours in the classroom a semester? This is the equivalent of 3.6 college courses, and all it cost was the price of an audiobook.
I listen to audio courses, seminars, and workshops on my earbuds while I clean the house. I particularly hate doing dishes and folding socks. Those chores, of course, have to be repeated daily, so I use my house cleaning time to study. I literally have a pen and notebook by the kitchen sink. I will be scrubbing my pots and pans and then dry my soapy hands to write down some notes.
...But I don’t have time
I hear this all the time, and it’s simply not true. Think about it. If you really want to do something, you will find the time. This sounds harsh, but believe me that I say it with utmost love and appreciation for you. I am a homeschooling mother of two. I do not have a babysitter, and so my children always want something from me. I run a cold case blog that goes out to half a million people each week. I blog twice a week, I have several books published, and I’m currently working on two more. I am going to launch a podcast series soon, and I am also working on two courses for authors. Yes, it is hard to squeeze in time for my study, but I know it is essential for my business, and I find a way.
Whatever you do, find a way to continue your education in your chosen field, and you will find yourself ahead of the pack.
This post is part of a blog series designed to help you with the business side of writing. If you missed Part 1 you can find it here:PART ONE. If you missed Part 2 you can find it here:PART TWO
Look for PART 4 next week. Also, keep your eye out for Synova’s new book Titled Ten Things Successful Writers Do That You Don’t…coming soon!
Could only five minor adjustments make or break your writing career? Synova thinks so. Here are five things you can implement today to help you succeed.
Every successful author has a specific purpose behind their writing business. Ask yourself the following questions before you go any farther. If you cannot answer these simple questions, then you aren’t ready for the Big Time. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you have to be set in your own mind before you can convey anything to the world successfully.
#1. Why Do I Write?
#2. Who Do I Write?
#3. When I’m Gone What Will My Children have to tell about my writing career?
#4. Where Do I want to End Up In 5 Years?
Stop and write down these four questions on a sheet of paper. Don’t merely do this in your head. Writing it down will bury the concepts deeper into your mind. Sit back and really think about each response. Then write it down. Keep a copy nearby your workstation. This will help keep you on track.
I know it can be hard to come up with some truly meaningful answers, so I will answer them to give you an example. I have two sides to my business, so I will provide two responses for each question.
#1. Why do I write?
On the True Crime side – I write about cold cases each week to give a voice to the victims of violence. I could probably make more money if I focused on famous cases like Jon Bennett, but instead, I write about obscure cases that have been forgotten by the traditional media. This is the passion and purpose behind my writing. It is what gets me up at 5 am to study my craft. You must have a clear mission to drive you when the going gets tough.
On The Simply Biz side – I write each week to help other authors. For those of you who follow Synova Ink, you can see that I have built a small empire. I have done it all myself. I haven’t hired anyone to run my website, design my graphics, or publish my Youtube videos. I have spent thousands of hours studying, taking seminars, and working through online courses. I know how frustrating it can be not to be turning a profit on your business. I watched as several authors I know gave up on their dreams, and it broke my heart. I don’t want you to let go of the creative spark within you. This is why I write for authors.
**Don’t think that your fiction book cannot serve a purpose! Life is complicated, and 90% of people are needing and longing for entertainment. Why do you think Hollywood is so successful. People are tired, stressed, and discontent. They are looking for a way to escape the hardships of life. Your fiction book can fill this need.**
#2. Who Do I Write For?
This question focuses on your target audience. You really need to get a laser focus on them. Who are they? What do they want? Where do they hang out?
On the True Crime Side – I have a split target audience on the true-crime side of Synova Ink. First, there are the victim’s families. They have a specific set of needs and desires. Separate from those people are my True Crime Fans. I have even split this segment down even further. My target audience is women 35+, college kids going for a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement, and Law Enforcement personnel. Those are my targets, and I know what to provide for each one separately.
On the Simply Biz side – I have also split this into two target groups. I have aspiring writers who have never published a book and don’t know where to start. Then, I also have seasoned writers. Some are frustrated with their business, and some are merely looking for the next insider tip.
Find your target audience and keep them in mind when you write. It makes things so much easier, and it will require less editing later on down the road.
#3. When I’m Gone What Will My Children have to tell about my writing career?
I want my children to see me pull myself up out of depression, financial scarcity, and insecurity to become a world-famous author and entrepreneur.
I want them to tell my grandkids of all the victims’ family members I have helped and how many cases I helped to solve by generating leads for law enforcement.
What will your grandkids hear about your career?
#4. Where Do I want to End Up In 5 Years?
I want to be a New York Times best selling author, an award-winning author coach, and be titled America’s Greatest Crime Writer. What do you want? Make the goals BIG. Small goals aren’t inspiring, and they won’t push you forward.
This post is part of a blog series designed to help you with the business side of writing. Look for PART 2 next week. Also, keep your eye out for Synova’s new book Titled Ten Things Successful Writers Do That You Don’t…coming soon!
Since when is it okay to let go of the very thing that separates us from the animal kingdom? A dog cannot imagine a new invention and change the world with it. Humans alone have this power. Think about it. Every major invention, every Fortune 500 company, every skyscraper was once a figment of a dreamer’s imagination. Don’t stop dreaming! Get back in the habit of daydreaming. (Maybe not while you’re driving.)
#2 Lack of confidence
Why, would anyone want to listen to me? Well, why not you? Who said you weren’t important? Who told you that you don’t have a unique perspective to share with the world? You are an event individual. Your experiences have shaped your perspective on life. No one else will have your particular perspective. Share it with the world. Be Fearless. You’ve got this.
#3 Lack of knowledge
get off your tush and get it. libraries are still free. Get a library card. Self-help books abound at second-hand shops and garage sales. Take the incentive and do something to increase your knowledge on the subject that holds you back. online courses are everywhere for every price range imaginable. 99 cent books overflow from Amazon’s dates on a daily basis there is no excuse why you cannot get the knowledge you seek. Just do it already.
Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “you can have excuses or results, but you can’t have both.” It’s time for you to decide. What do you want?
#4 Your “why” isn’t strong enough
Why do you write? If the answer to that question isn’t strong enough, you will fail 99% of the time, guaranteed. You must have a purpose behind you to push you through the difficult times. The business of writing is tough. The days of writing a manuscript, sending it off to a publisher, and then all of your dreams coming true have disappeared long ago. Whether you choose to be traditionally published or independently published you have to learn the business aspect behind being an author. This includes marketing. This includes advertising and sales, website development, social networking skills, and much more. If you do not have a strong reason behind why you write, then you will not have the incentive to push forward and learn all of these extra skills that are necessary to succeed as a writer.
#5 Past failures
Everyone fails. Every writer has been rejected. Stephen King got rejected 30 times before he was published. He went on to publish 54 novels and 200 short stories. The Chicken Soup for the Soul books were rejected 144 times before they were ever published and we all know how popular those are. JK Rowling was rejected 12 times before Harry Potter ever saw the light of day. Dr. Seuss was rejected 27 times before his children’s books were ever accepted. Everyone is rejected so get over it. Move on. The winners keep pushing forward.