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Benefits to Joining a Writing Group

There are many positives to being a writer. It’s a journey of discovery, evolving creatively and building a solid sense of self. But as every writer knows, there’s a downside. Mine is isolation resulting in poor mental health. It can feel as though we’re plundering through the dark, searching for a switch that will shine a light upon what we hope is a work of literary art.

So, how do we know when we’re good at our craft? Or when our manuscript is ready for submission? When we need to return for yet another round of edits?

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One of those ways is to work with likeminded individuals, offering critique, being a supportive shoulder to lean on and to congratulate when success beckons.

These are the benefits of a writing group.

There are many varying options: I’ve had great support from my online communities where I’ve found fellow betas readers. There are also Facebook groups and online forums where you can share your work and receive an honest critique.

But if it’s a more personnel touch you’re seeking, then a local writing group is what’s needed. Face to face contact has huge benefits, solving loneliness and can eventually lead to long lasting friendships. These groups tend to meet regularly for a couple of hours.

Creative writing groups are another avenue to meeting fellow writers, but maybe you’re wishing to converse with people already on the publishing route.

Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Maybe there’s nothing like that in your local area. Have you ever considered starting a group yourself?

Here are my top tips to consider when starting out.

Keep it small. You’ll want to devote time to each member, which requires reading through their work and offering feedback. This means keeping your group intimate. You don’t want everyone to become overwhelmed with the amount they have to read and equally you want your readers to offer enough of their attention on your work. I’d suggest six members to allow for adequate attention in the two hour slot.

Be honest. The main goal is to learn and grow. That being said, criticism should be an unbiased feedback that doesn’t result in the writer feeling belittled, stupid or attacked. Be kind and don’t forget to tell them what works.

Don’t take criticism personally. Seeing your work through someone else’s eyes can be difficult, but hopefully you’ll nurture a group where everyone appreciates negative criticism delivered in a gentle way. Support and encouragement are just as important.

Meet regularly. Keep momentum alive. This is your dream and only you can make it happen: work for it.

Are you a member of a writing group? Share your experiences, what did you learn from it. You know I love hearing from you. Thanks for stopping by.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Make Powerful Intentions and Reach your Goals

Happy New Year!

Hello, my wonderful blogging community, fellow writers and avid readers.

I make vague resolutions at best, that evolve my aspirations into intentions and goals. And the reason why I’m not so hot for resolutions, is because they’re as fragile as glass. Treated like promises, that ultimately shatter into a million fragments and scatter to the wind. Never to be recovered, or fulfilled – leaving only bitter disappointment. It’s how I imagine Cinderella felt, a rich world of wishes and dreams at her fingertips only to vanish at that notorious strike of midnight.

Cinderella giphy

Instead I promise to honour myself with love and care. To grow in new ways that allow for my writing journey to unfold.  Whatever will be, will be… helped along by my hard work and determination.

Even though I’ve taken a couple of weeks away from blogging, I’ve loved reading everyone’s reflections about last year and how they plan to approach 2019.

It’s got me thinking about my own journey and how far I’ve come in one short year. So here are the highlights:

I attended two writing events packed with advice about the publishing journey and submitting. I pitched to an agent and met up with fellow blogger, the wonderfully talented Amelia over at the Uninspired Writers.

I’ve had my submission package critiqued by the superb agent Sallyanne Sweeney and an editor from firefly publishing house. Where I received critique that strengthened my novel and helped me accept that my books are better suited to the adult genre and not YA.

I began submitting to the US where I received a few personalized feedbacks about great writing, but told my concept isn’t strong enough. Hopefully, novel 2 will have more success.

Entered PitchWars.

Entered two PitMad events over at Twitter and had interest from 1 agency and 1 publishing house. (See, they liked my concept – proving it really is subjective.) Unfortunatly, they were not the right fit for me.

One of my short stories was shortlisted in a competition by the Henshaw Press.

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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

And I got to work with two new betas, giving me three amazingly supportive girls.

Uninspired Writers

Ari Meghlen

K.M. Allan

My love and eternal gratitude goes out to each and every one of you. I can’t thank you all enough for the support and encouragement I’ve received. So here’s to a new year, with new mountains to climb. Let’s take in the sights together.

Why not share your hopes and dreams for 2019 with me. What’s one thing you aim to accomplish this year? You know I love to hear from you, so please drop me a comment.

Until next time, Much Love.

Lorraine Xx

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

12 Days of Christmas book tag

With Christmas just around the corner, I can’t think of a better way to spread the cheer than with this festive book tag. Why not discover what books have influenced me and my writing and what books take pride of place on my bookshelf. Yay!

This tag was started by Nicola over at The Fantastic Book Dragon.  And I have the wonderful Ari Meghlen to thank for tagging me.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: a partridge in a pear tree. 

The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favorite stand alone?

My favourite stand alone has to be The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The magic, the stunning settings and the whimsical beauty that surrounds that novel is breath-taking. I’m must read it again.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: two turtle doves.

Love is in the air! Who is your one true pairing?

I’m head over heels for Rhysand and Feyre in ACOMAR. Their journey through the series was pure, delicious tension. I cried for a week after reading that novel, it was the worst book hangover to date.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Three French Hens.

In the spirit of threes, what is the best trilogy you have read?

The outstanding Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Katniss is a true heroin and the move adaptations are one of my favourite books to moves, them and Harry Potter. Closely followed by; His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, a sensational read.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: four calling birds.

Since series usually consist of four or more books, what is your favourite series?

This is a clear winner for me. It’s the swoon worthy A Court of Thorns and Roses by my favourite authoress Sarah J. Maas. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

But I must admit, I devour PRN novels too, Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole will always have a special place in my heart… and on my Kindle too. Lol.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: five golden rings.

One ring to rule them all! Who is your Favorite Villain/Antagonist?

Ooh, it’s the devilish Rhysand from ACOTAR. Though he’s spun in the darkest light, he is the only one to aid Feyre through her trials under the mountain. For every villain is the hero of his story and not all is as it seems. This duo was a huge inspiration for my second novel.

And Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows… need I say more. He’s cunning, conniving and a law unto himself. Marvellous!

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: six geese a laying.

Creation is a beautiful thing. What is your favourite world/world-building?

This is a tough choice, so many unique worlds are cherished in my heart. The bigger the better. So, I’ll choose a world not yet picked in this Tag: Caraval by Stephanie Garber. The uniqueness of the Caraval island and all the magic and mystery it entails were exhilarating. I still haven’t read Legendary. So if anyone’s wondering what to get me for a present this year… hint, hint! ;D

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On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: seven swans a swimming.

Who needs seven swans when all it takes is one good animal sidekick? Who’s your favourite animal sidekick?

I really want to mention Lyra Belacqura‘s sidekick from His Dark Materials, her shapeshifting Daemon Pantalaimon. But also,Grimalkin from The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa, a mythical cat with a surly attitude who appears as and when it suits him.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: eight maids a milking.

Milk is so 18th century. Which book or series takes beverages/food to a whole new level?

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black luxuriates in tables full of banquet food. Simply scrumptious. And at the other end of the scale, Blue’s family make some odd concoctions in The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: nine ladies dancing.

Dancing is just one skill of a Lady! Who is your favourite kickass female lead?

Whoa. Just one…. well take at least three. Feyre from ACOTA. Katniss from Hunger Games and Selina Kyle from Catwoman Soulstealer. Did I mention Sarah J. Maas is my favourite author? :d

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: ten lords a leaping.

How about your favourite leading lad?

Choices, choices. So many fantastic males to choose from. Obviously I’m going with Rhysand from ACOTAR.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me: eleven pipers piping.

What is your favourite book or bookish thing with musical influence? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)

Edward’s piano playing from the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer. The original romance series that set me on my path to write fantasy/romance.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: 12 drummers drumming.

Drum roll please…what is your favourite read of this year?

How can I choose just one? There has been so many. I’ll go with Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo because I was blown away by that story, and because I’m reading the sequel Crooked Kingdom right now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Voila! A little sneak peek into my bookshelves. I’ll be taking a short break over the Christmas holidays and I’ll be back with you in the New Year.

I tag the following bloggers:

K. M. Allan

uninspiredwriters

Caffine and writing dreams

Merry Christmas to you all. Mwa. Xxx

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Writing Deadlines and keeping the Christmas Cheer

With the encroaching Christmas holidays, deadlines become a predominant factor in most of our minds. They add additional pressure to an already fraught time of year. Manifesting stress where it’s not needed, this is something I’m guilty of. I pile on extra jobs and beat myself up for not accomplishing each and every single one of them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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On top of the extra demands of December: Shop, wrap, cook, clean, preen. We authors often juggle work, family, and the demands of writing, promoting, blogging and social media.

Realising how insane all of that sounds, I thought this week’s blog could help lighten the load by shinning a little comedy and sprinkle a few well-meaning quotes into the mix. Sit back and enjoy!

“At times, it is better to “just do it” than to “do it right”. One reason new year resolutions don’t work is that we expect too much from ourselves. Rush, meet your deadlines, you can always continue from where you stopped next year.” ― Asuni LadyZeal

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“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” – Garrison Keillor
***
“I love Christmas. I receive a lot of wonderful presents I can’t wait to exchange.” – Henny Youngman
***
“A deadline is a negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”
― Rita Mae Brown
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“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” ― Diana Scharf
***
“If the novels are still being read in 50 years, no one is ever going to say: ‘What’s great about that sixth book is that he met his deadline!’ It will be about how the whole thing stands up.”
― George R.R. Martin
So my fellow writers, take a leaf from some of the greats and relax over the deadlines. By all means, keep writing and work towards your goals, but at the end of the day: Pop your pajamas on, watch a Christmas movie, drink hot chocolate and enjoy the festive season.
As always folks, thanks for reading. What sort of deadlines do you place on yourself at Christmas and how do you relax and unwind at the end of the day? Tell me all about it, you know I love to hear from you.
Until next time, Much Love. xXx
Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Writers: have faith in your dreams.

We all hold a vision of what our success looks like, that shiny dream that’s so incredibly big and bold, that at times seems unattainable. So how do you maintain the faith when life knocks you off track or your self-doubt kicks in? Well today, I’m going to give you a little pep talk for keeping the spirit of your dreams alive.

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Chase your Dreams

“The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.” – Tony Robins

Change that negative story to a positive one.

It’s important to have self-belief and crush any negativity by reading my post on how to eliminate that pesky gremlin: self-doubt.

Remember to appreciate your past accomplishments and celebrate the small steps to success. It takes hard work and determination to make it, with a lot of setbacks along the way. You need the good to smooth out the bad. It’s all about balance…. And a little bit of positivity.

I love using daily affermations to boost my self-esteam like:

I am worthy.

I am a published author.

I am capable of anything.

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Follow your dreams to the ends of the earth

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.” – J.P Morgan

And you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

Whilst working towards your dreams, its important to hold the vision, make goals and keep them, plus learn from your mistakes. You can read my post on chasing your dreams for inspiration. Don’t forget that life is all about the journey. Take time to enjoy where you are now, because nothing lasts forever, we are constantly evolving, learning and growing as individuals.

“Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they never quit.” –John Willard Marriott

Never fear failure, it shows your trying.
Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have faith in your dreams? If so, please share them with me. You know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

6 Powerful Tips to Keep your Writing Motivation

Writers flourish when our muse is alive. When our words build new worlds, ink flowing, filling up our blank canvas to create a novel. So it’s no surprise that the opposite results in dry spells of writer’s block, self-doubt, and even imposter writer syndrome.

SO! How do we keep those negative things at bay? Fear not, today I’ll share my top Six tips to keep your motivation alive.

book pen artist writer author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance novel YA

Set Goals.

This is a small promise to yourself that your writing matters. That even in the midst of family gatherings, work commitments, and other priorities, you’ll acknowledge that what you’re working towards matters. Whether that be a daily word target, a weekend venture or the spare 10 minutes to make notes between appointments. Set a goal, stick to it and watch the word count rise.

Novel Story Worldbuilding Fantasy

2. Keep the vision.

The most important aspect of reaching your goals is to envisage the final outcome. How will it feel to finally finish your novel? Who will you celebrate with? What will you treat yourself with? It’s your dream, so make it big, bold and beautiful. And anytime you start to flag, or you’ve skipped too many goal targets, and guilt has taken you by the throat. Allow your mind to wonder, to daydream – and then wipe the slate clean and begin again.

The Magicians High king and Queen meme

3. Rally the troops.

Except for the characters that follow us everywhere, writing can be an isolating, lonely business. That’s where we need to branch out and connect with the other elusive, secretive creatures. Thankfully, you can find a few at writing conferences, creative writing classes, and on social media. #WritingCommunity on Twitter is a great place to start, and of course, I give a massive hello and welcome to my beloved blogging community. Life would be pretty dull without you all.

Abstract art - Photo by Art by Lønfeldt from Pexels
Photo by Art by Lønfeldt from Pexels

4. Get creative.

You can’t run out of creativity, but you can get stifled. So remember to stretch your creative wings and take flight to another craft. Colouring, flower arranging or even joining in with your kids at Lego time. I love a bit of block building fun.

It doesn’t have to involve starting a new hobby, there’s a wealth of inspiration all around us. Why not check out my other blog post with 5 Top Tips to Fuel Inspiration.

5. Celebrate the small stuff.

Don’t make my mistake of only celebrating the big stuff. Because usually by the time that rolls around, your sights will be set on the next big thing and you’ve bypassed all of your hard work. Have a cuppa after xxx amount of words. Have lunch with your friends knowing that you’ve written this week’s blog post. Binge watch that Netflix show at the end of the day knowing you’ve earned it. Ok, so you get the point… and yes that’s pretty much how I plan my week.

Dream Big and Let Nothing Hold You Back
Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

6. Self-love.

This is such an important part and often overlooked or hidden in the shadows. But positive mental health can bring a wealth of abundance to our work. Whereas the opposite can often result in a collapse of creativity. Not only is it wise to get some fresh air, eat healthy and hydrate. But self-love for me means listening to my body, slowing down when my illness flares, appreciating the small things and allowing things to unfold in their own time. Even my novels.

Thanks for stopping by to read. I appreciate every single one of you. Tell me what your Top Tip for staying motivated is. You know I love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love Xx

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

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Are you Stuck in the Middle of Writing a Novel?

Hello, my wonderful writing buddies.

With less than two weeks until the end of NaNo, many of you should be halfway through your first draft. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re also stuck in the middle of your WIP. So today I wanted to show support, offer a little guidance and throw in a couple of great quotes to get us all moving again.

desk writing novel author Lorraine Ambers

Whether you write a detailed outline or dive straight into your new WIP, there is going to come a point at which it’s hard to move forward. Trust me, it’s not unusual, and it’s happened with my first two novels and again with my third. I’ve hit the halfway word count; I know where I’m heading, but something is stopping me from progressing. And yes its procrastination, but it’s more than that, it’s the inner monologue that comes with the writer territory. Well, let’s nip that self-doubt/ critical voice in the bud.

As soon as I stopped over-thinking my process, my infernal internal editor shut up, my characters started talking to me again, and my writing improved vastly. Turned out the very thing I thought was helping me be a good writer was holding me back.
K.M. Weiland – Are You Over-Thinking Your First Draft?

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The best we can do in this situation is to apply self-discipline. Sit down at the laptop – typewriter – notepad – napkin or whatever your preferred method is and begin, keep going and don’t stop. Whatever you need to do… Do it! Research, plot, plan or write. Become your own personal cheerleader. You’ll soon be over the hump.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. –  Ernest Hemingway

And for those of you who are struggling because you’re stressed, under the weather, or have too much on your plate with work and family commitments: I want to tell you that it’s ok to have a duvet day. Our creativity can’t bloom under those pressures. The best thing you can do is practise self-love. Your creativity will thank you for it.

If you are willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist. –Seth Godin

I hope I’ve inspired you to keep going. What do you do to get over the writing hurdle? Perhaps your advice will help me, plus you know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love Xx

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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6 funny writing quirks we share in common

We’re all creatures of habits, and writing a novel is no different. Whether you prefer to write on your journey home from work, late at night or early in the morning, there are a few quirks that we writers all share in common.

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The elusive word hunt.

It’s either sat staring at a blank page, while our brains conjure up a magic sentence that will steal the hearts of our readers, or it’s trying to remember that word… you know the one… it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t find it. Until, ten minutes later, Eureka! That simple, completely obvious word decides to grace your presence and the writing flow can resume.

White Noise.

Let it be silence while a pink ribbon of sunrise streaks the sky. Or music to fire your muse and set your toes tapping. Maybe it’s the chatter on a busy train or in a coffee shop – but there’s always a preference and without that setting it’s impossible to connect with your characters.

love pen book tea - Author Lorraine Ambers fantasy writer

What’s your poison?

My preference is hot tea, keep me supplied in strong PG tips and watch my word count fly. If there’s a chocolate bar around – all the better. You have your own preference, and writing just doesn’t seem the same without it.

Faithful Companion.

Writer’s are solitary creatures: However with our faithful character companions we need never be alone. And yes, I can be found chatting to myself. But in case we require something more substantial, a fluffy pet or two will usually suffices: The writers familiar. In fact, in many ways I’m like my cats, requiring company and affection when desired, but if I’m interrupted during writing, daydreaming, planning, plotting, reading or browsing Pinterest – watch out or the claws may come out.

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Name in starlight.

Let’s be honest, who amongst us hasn’t envisioned our novels as a movie. Who amongst us hasn’t daydreamt about being the next J.K. Rowling, I know my WIP would make an epic ride in Orlando. While I joke about such things, there’s still a secret hope that one day I’ll steal just a fraction of that limelight for the worlds I’ve created. So the next time a bout of self-doubt claws through your MS, remember; dreams can come true if we work too, and re-emerge as a humble, hardworking artist and set your goals high.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.

We all know procrastination is a constant companion, like that well-meaning friend who insists that one more coffee, chapter, or Netflix series won’t really matter because everything will be waiting for us afterwards. I’ll offer some advice that none of us will take; don’t indulge her and crack on. Because on the flip-side of time wasted is the fantastic sensation of getting lost in our own worlds, writing sometimes feels like wading through thick water, other times it’s like flying. Regardless of the process one thing is for sure, time always disappears in the blink of an eye and it’s time to put the pen down and slip back to the normal world. And reality is what all writers dread.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

I hope you enjoyed this weeks fun post. Can you see yourself in any of these quirks? If so, why not tell me about it in the comments.

Until next week, Much Love Xx

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Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Writing a High Concept Novel

I don’t know about you, but the very notion of a High Concept baffles me. It seems to be the key that many agents and publishers are seeking, yet none of them can confirm what that means for them.

However, it’s the same stumbling block I’ve come up against on my submission journey. My most frequent feedback is that the agent has not connected with my concept as much as they’d hoped. While this fills me with hope that I will find the right agent to fall in love with my story, it also got me thinking about what I can do to improve my chances with my next novel.

Love writing, notebook, pencil, tea

I like to forward plan, learn from my mistakes and take advantage of every situation, I’m sure most of my fellow writers do too. So let’s take a deeper look at what a story concept is. In basic terms it’s the idea of your whole story, before plot, before characters, simply the idea behind it. The bare skeleton of the story.

Now this is not the same as the premise, which is the heart and soul of your book. This is where we flesh-out the skeleton by adding characters with goals, motives and fears. Then you add plot which adds conflict and stakes. Now the richness adds to the bare concept and builds a premise.

So while they are similar, they are ultimately very different. By understanding this I can already see why my concept is familiar, if not a little boring. But add premise and my story grows wings and takes flight.

Inspiration butterflys Pexel-image

There isn’t one magic ingredient that takes an ordinary concept and raises it to new heights. In fact, it’s a mixture of several. So what makes a story – High Concept?

It meshes high levels of entertainment with originality.

It’s unique.

Born from; what if, putting a spin on an original concept.

The idea is visual making for a great movie adaptation.

It has clear emotional focus: fear, love, rage etc.

And or, it has mass audience appeal.

And as with all things in the writing world it boils down to subjectivity.

With that information in mind, I hope all my blossoming writers are a little clearer on the illusive High Concept novel. As with all things in the writing world it boils down to subjectivity.To be honest, I’m not sure I am. After all, isn’t that what we already thought we were doing???

Perhaps some of my fellow writers have a clearer understanding, if so, please share your knowledge with me. And thank you all for reading.

Until next time, Much Love Xxx

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

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6 Tips For Adding Tension

This week I’m sharing the fantastic blogger Kate’s; 6 tips on creating tension in our writing.

K.M. Allan

Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put it down? A story where you couldn’t flip the page fast enough, or wait to dive back into its chapters, resenting all life distractions until you can read “The End”?

While novels like this are no doubt filled with worlds you connect with, terrific or terrifying characters, real dialogue, and surprising plot twists, they also contain the one thing that makes your readers eager to see what happens next: tension.

Adding tension to your story is like putting frosting on a cake. The frosting is arguably the best part of the cake, and tension is like that for your story. It draws the reader in; they want more, right until the last sentence, when all the delicious cake story has been devoured.

So how do you get this awesome tension baked into your MS? By giving these tips a try…

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