Creative Fiction Writing Workshop: How to Start Your Story

How do I get started and where do I get ideas for my story?

Get ideas from virtually any common, ordinary situation. Get out of your house to see real people and the real world and ideas will come from the most random places. Be sure to jot down these ideas so as not to forget them. Furthermore, be thinking about what kind of a story you want to write so that you can slant your descriptions in that direction.

1. First, simply DESCRIBE A NORMAL SCENE you witnessed in a store:

The man put the socks down, took the girl by the hand and walked out.

2. Now, CHANGE the sentence. Make it involve more of the senses. Play around with how different words can completely change the mood of the situation. Use adjectives and adverbs:

The man forcefully threw his purchase at the Target clerk, grabbed the 5-year-old girl roughly by the arm and jerked her toward the door.

3. ADD ANOTHER SENTENCE or three to more completely describe what happened next, or its results. Use adjectives so you more fully portray the characters. Vary your sentence length–sometimes long, sometimes short. CHANGE the event. It’s fiction. Be creative:

She continued screaming at the top of her lungs all the way out. The hem of the girl’s tattered Sunday dress soaked up the bright red blood dripping from her broken lip. The man pushed his long brown hair roughly from his eyes, wiped his calloused hand on his dirt-stained pants, and dragged her resisting, squirming form into the rusty 1980′s Ford.

4. ADD SOME DIALOGUE, SOME QUOTES and CONFLICT. Add a TWIST so that what the reader first thought is changed a little:

“Shut up. Shut up. Do you hear me!” he yelled as he buckled her seatbelt and tried ineffectually to wipe her face gently with a tissue. “Don’t you ever do that again! I saw you put candy in your pocket. We don’t do that, ever. That’s stealing, and I will pay for whatever we need. No child of mine will ever steal anything, ever.”

Here, we have him buckling her seatbelt and gently wiping her face. Those are not the actions of an uncaring father. You have now grabbed the reader’s attention so he or she wants to know more. Things are too interesting and too confusing for the reader to stop now.

Use proper grammar in the dialogue to show he is educated, and use poor grammar to show lack of education, or, perhaps, low intelligence or even frustration level. How people say things is very revealing about them, their ideas, their moods, etc.

5. EXPAND THE DESCRIPTIONS of what’s going on AROUND THIS SCENE. Describe what others are saying in the store. Use dialogue for their conversation:

The clerk stood still staring at the candy the man had pulled from little Megan’s pocket. Jonathan was a proud father and always talked about how he could take care of his family.

“Did you see that?” the older man said in a disapproving tone as he plunked his shampoo and potato chips on the counter. “People like that shouldn’t have kids.”

Marie shook her head and commented, “I have never seen him get that angry before. Maybe I should have my manager call the police. But I don’t want to get him in trouble. He is usually so kind, and I’ve seen him a lot over the last two years, him and his handicapped son. You know, the one who’s different.”

Now you have a great beginning for your story. It’s your turn to keep writing.

5 Reasons Women Entrepreneurs Need Online Writing Workshops

Women business leaders want to hear from the people they serve. They want to know their clients’ problems so they can offer strategic solutions. If they’re marketing savvy, they try to speak directly to the problem and its remedy. But sometimes, what to say and how to say it isn’t as clear as it could be. Maybe the writing is stuck, or feels stale or inauthentic. Sometimes, a bit of help in the form of an online writing workshop or retreat is needed to get everything moving in the right direction.

How does an entrepreneur know it’s time to reach out? Here are 5 common factors identifying the ways entrepreneurs know it’s time to admit the absolute need for a virtual writing workshop.

Reason #1: Individuals Learn Faster In Social Settings

Writing, once considered something to do in complete, inspired isolation, today focuses on socially constructed meanings. The emerging practice of learning to write in a social context as a way of building community means it is now possible to grow craft and skill at a faster rate than has ever been possible. If one learns more quickly through direct experience and sharing, a virtual writing workshop is a viable option.

Reason #2: The Need to Feel Heard When Addressing A Problem

How do entrepreneurs get off track in their business writing? It’s the curse of the poisoned pen.

Frankly, it’s hard to focus on creating income when fear of “not enough,” scarcity and lack are everywhere. Offers underperform when the leader’s focus is distracted. Perhaps she forgets to partner with others who can help get the word out. Or worse yet, maybe she missed what her community really wants. If women business leaders, like their clients, need to feel heard when addressing a problem, a virtual writing retreat can show them how to speak directly into the problem to identify and offer solutions.

Reason #3: Direct the Client’s Attention Effortlessly

Does it sound impossible, like something brought about by a magic potion? The missing ingredient is the ‘how’ of the situation. The truth is, good marketing writing directs the client’s attention effortlessly by reflecting her priorities. Too often, business owners make the mistake of telling the client their priorities, instead of mirroring hers. If help is needed to imagine walking in the other girl’s Italian loafers, metaphorically speaking, a virtual writing workshop can help with point of view.

Reason #4: Trouble Articulating the Benefits of “What You Do”

Purposeful procrastination is not our friend. When it comes to offering work to the world, it makes some business owners hesitate to send an email, maybe even hesitate to build their list. Some entrepreneurs don’t want to bother people or clutter their in-box. They may hear things about “benefits driven” writing and “calls to action” and wonder what in the heck that is – then do nothing to find out. Most frequently, women say they have real trouble articulating the benefits of what they do. And even if they can articulate the benefits, they don’t know what to write. If a decision-maker is arm wrestling with benefits driven writing, a virtual writing workshop can put their perfunctory paragraphs on the road to perfection.

Reason #5: One’s Brilliance is Dimmed by Indecision and Playing Small

Playing small and being indecisive doesn’t serve anyone well. It doesn’t serve the soul’s purpose and its expression in the world, and it certainly doesn’t serve clients. For some feminine entrepreneurs, their brilliance is dimmed like a magic lamp hidden inside a cave of insecurity. Instead, for those who are ready to allow that brilliance to shine like Aladdin’s lamp, a virtual writing workshop can help them create authentic offers which showcase the magical experience of working with someone who is truly gifted at what they do.

Creating Successful Live and Virtual Book Tours

While the legions of adoring fans may not be part of the book tour reality for most authors, just meeting a few excited readers can make your day. You’ll also be amazed at the old friends, high school buddies and family members who may show up when you advertise your tour. And while there’s no getting around the driving, set-up and tear-down of a live tour, it’s also a great way to create lasting relationships with bookstores and readers.

Think about how far you’re willing to drive, how much you can spend on gas, hotels, and plane fare, and where friends and family live who might be willing to offer you a spare bed. This will create the outer limit for your live tour. Think also about where you go on vacation or holidays, where you are already planning to travel for business, and where you could hitch a ride with other traveling family members. A little creative thinking can extend your options quite a bit!

Once you know the cities in your range, begin to build your contact list of local newspapers, radio and TV stations in those areas as well as bookstores. Also think about chapters of professional or alumni organizations, special interest or hobby groups, houses of worship, and other non-bookstore places where your target reading audience are already congregating. Make sure you check out MeetUp.com for local clubs and organizations. If you write genre fiction, look for local chapters for your genre, such as romance writers, mystery fans, etc. Don’t forget about reading circles, libraries and annual conventions. Start compiling your list at least nine months in advance. It takes a while and will always be a work in progress.

Don’t overlook bloggers, podcasters, Internet radio shows and online book reviewers and web sites that focus on your topic. They may be happy to mention your upcoming tour schedule or interview you and provide a chance for you to tell readers/listeners where you’ll be next.

Start calling to set up media interviews and on-site book signings and speaking engagements six months in advance of when your book will come out. Make sure you’re certain of the publication date, since it’s hard to hold a signing when the book hasn’t shipped! Have a calendar ready so you can book dates as you contact store managers, librarians and event coordinators. (Be sure to block out family commitments, birthdays, holidays and other black-out dates to avoid problems.)

Update your list as you find that information has changed. Add email addresses and make notes in a comment section. Be certain to note people who are especially enthusiastic and those who are particularly grumpy so that you can plan accordingly the next time you tour.

Start thinking about what you’ll need when you go on the road, such as bookmarks, business cards with your book information, small prizes for a doorprize, a poster-sized (and laminated) copy of your book cover, and easy-to-print-out event posters and shelf talkers. You’ll also want a digital camera and an inexpensive digital video camera (like a Flipcam) so you can share the highlights of your road trip on your web site.

Send out your press releases at least six weeks before each event, and make sure to call to follow up with reporters. Call the bookstores to check in a few weeks before your event to make sure they have you on the schedule and that they have ordered or received the books. Ask how they’ll be helping to promote the event, and offer to email them the posters, shelf talkers or press releases for their store or newsletter.

Consider getting a small rolling suitcase for all your book signing props. Watch which items work best for you so you know what to reorder and what to replace. If you have a non-fiction title, suggest that book stores host a short (half hour) workshop on a topic related to your book rather than just a signing.

Blog about the fun moments and don’t mention the times when things go wrong. A book tour is an amazing adventure when you approach it with an open mind. Some things will go much better than planned while other things will go really wrong. Just remember: everything that happens and everyone you meet is fodder for your next book!

Best Internet Business Ideas – Workshops & Teleseminars

The internet is the new location for learning and regardless of what you want to teach; almost any lesson can be converted to work well on the web. You too can tap into this business by offering clients the ability to set up workshops and teleseminars.

You can do this yourself too and make an income promoting your own product or service. You can also promote another companies product or service and collect an income as an affiliate. Moreover, whether you want to help others or make your own business flourish that profit potential of a Web Workshops is unlimited. That makes this one of the best internet business ideas out there.

You can also focus your business of a specific niche market. For example, you could focus on the fitness realm and offer local gyms to set up online training as an extension to their existing Web site. You could set up web cams and have their classes visible online. The client could charge members to view online classes or offer them free. If you set up a Webinar (seminar on the web) with an instructor teaching to people all over the internet, you can also allow people to call in with question, much like you see on popular radio shows.

You are also not limited to seminars as you could offer clients the option to conduct important business meetings online with audio and video solutions. Everyone in the virtual room would be on the computer screen where everyone can talk and communicate almost as if they were in the same room.

If you plan to conduct the seminars yourself, you will need to have good public speaking skills and be able to communicate the message clearly. A good way to get started is to set up a few webinars based on some of your hobbies or interests so you can get started learning about the process. You can also offer a few free services to get some companies going in this direction in trade for testimonials.

3 Steps to Offering a Successful Workshop

Workshops and seminars are among the best ways to grow your business. Not only are you immediately positioned as an expert in your field but you are introduced to potential new clients at the same time. Another major benefit is that you can get introduced to multiple new clients at once, allowing you to leverage your time. Think about it. You’re getting introduced to multiple new clients in the best possible way. What could be better?

Taking full advantage of workshops and seminars requires some preparation. It requires a few steps. Can you hold a successful workshop without going through this process? Of course. But there are plenty of benefits to be had by taking some time on the front end to ensure you’re maximizing the benefits you could gain from the exercise.

First and foremost, select a topic that will sell. Easier said than done. Knowing what will sell is an intuition not everyone has. Some people have a natural ability to identify what will sell and what won’t. But a good place to start is to look at what’s selling already. There are people and companies spending millions of dollars to see what people are looking for and there’s no reason you can’t use their research results yourself.

Look at the front covers of popular magazines in your area of expertise. Trust me; whatever they have on their front cover is selling. Visit popular websites in your field. Again, the things they’re promoting on their homepage are definitely selling. Visit an online article directory and use keywords to search for articles and then sort the results by most popular. Go to Amazon and search for books the same way. Sort the results by bestselling and see what books people are actually buying.

People who are interested in golf usually have more than one book about golf. People who love dogs usually have dozens of things around their house that all have to do with dogs. And people who are interested in internet marketing usually have plenty of literature to support their efforts. Just because someone else has already addressed the topic you’d like to do yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t create a similar product. When people have an interest, they’ll keep buying and buying and buying.

Once you have a few ideas for a topic that will sell, think about how you can incorporate the same theme into a workshop and begin developing the content. In many cases, the online article directories are the best place to get free information. You can go there, print up two dozen articles on the topic and organize the various tips and strategies into your own workshop content. Using this strategy, you can quickly develop extensive content on virtually any topic imaginable.

The last step is to decide where you want to hold your workshop. There are generally four great places to consider: community organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, municipal adult education programs, for-profit adult education centers like the Learning Annex and tradeshows or conferences. In all of these cases, you can submit a proposal and get on the schedule quite easily and you don’t have to worry about marketing. They’ll provide the audience. All you have to do is show up.

Holding workshops and seminars is a brilliant way to grow your business. Don’t overlook the opportunities available and don’t think you can’t do it yourself. There is a lot more information about this topic on my website. If you’re serious about the effort, I encourage you to take advantage of the resources available there.