Self-Publishing, Step by Step, Part One
Upon learning that I was a self-published author, a young woman in a community I moderate had some questions about writing and self-publishing. And in my response to her, I realized I had amassed a ton of resources that probably belong in a post, for future reference.
I’ll break this up into parts.
This week, we will focus on writing resources designed to help turn that gummy idea into a viable story with some teeth. In the coming weeks, I’ll provide links for low- and no-cost self-publishing resources, as well as give some tips and tricks to get your work into the hands of the masses.
So, here goes:
L.M. Bennett’s Big Ass List of Books About Craft
Our motto is: We Read a Bunch of Crap So You Don’t Have To™
These books are designed to help you flesh out characters. Human beings are wonderfully complex and react in a number of ways when we’re happy, sad, angry, guilty or hurt. These books help you find different ways to convey your characters reacting to the shit you keep throwing at them. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus gives you great scenarios that could be used to craft a compelling backstory for your characters. Emotion Amplifiers shows you how to layer emotions and broadcast how a character would behave in times of stress, pain or even if they’ve had too much to drink. The Positive Trait Thesaurus and the Negative Trait Thesaurus shows us how to tease out characters personality strengths and weaknesses in the story.
All of these books are written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and they’re highly recommended!
Once you have figured out the basics of character, read this book by Donald Maass that shows you how to tug at your reader’s hearts with the characters and stories you create.
Alternate Title: The Art of Throwing Shit at Characters.
I can’t recommend The Anatomy of Story enough. Truby takes examples from books and movies you have probably seen a million times and breaks them down into manageable parts. The exercises are repetitive, but thought-provoking and highly effective. They are designed to help you uncover the beating heart of the story which you will turn into a one-line hook, how to craft story events to force your characters to reveal their truths, and how the pieces fit together to turn an idea into a compelling and viable story. I was barely done reading the first set of exercises before I put the book down to apply the treatments to my story ideas. Also recommended is the ScriptBully series by Michael Rogan, who drills down how to craft antagonists who expose your character's deepest wounds and know how to hit them where it hurts most.
To piggyback off the last point, watch this video by Lessons from the Screenplay which discusses just how hard The Dark Knight’s Joker had his foot on Batman’s neck. And, if you found yourself nodding along when Erik Killmonger revealed his master plan, this video is for you.
BUT, I WANT TO WRITE ABOUT PEOPLE FALLING IN LOVE
If romance is more your genre, don’t fret. I got you. Peep these videos designed to help you avoid romantic cliches. If you have read the books above, though, writing characters Jenna describes shouldn’t be a problem.
I personally love David Corbett’s book about crafting character and dialogue, but he can be a bit dry with his advanced concepts, so I’m going to recommend a shorter book that packs just as big a punch. Also a part of the ScriptBully series, Michael Rogan’s guide to writing dialogue has some real gems which forever changed the way I heard and wrote conversations between characters.
You could easily take those concepts and parlay them into book writing. In fact, because your story would already be optimized for screenplay, you might find it easier to land a deal. Just sayin’.
So…there you have it! Once you have written the book, you’ll want to put all that hard work into a pretty package that people will actually want to read. We’ll talk about that next week.
L.M. Bennett is a contributing author to the Voices of Color Podcast, and the author of B-Sides and Other Misheard Lyrics: Short Stories and Flash Fiction.