You Don’t Need an English Degree To Be A Writer

IMG_0129I recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Spring 2015 and while I was in college I wrote 5 books. But see, I didn’t need my English degree to do it.

Why?

The world of publishing has long changed. Now, you don’t need to have a publisher publish your book for you in order for you to find readers and make money. Nope. With the invention of e-readers and digital downloads anyone can write their novel and put it up for sale through amazon’s KDP (kindle direct publishing) and Barnes and Noble’s NookPress, as well as Kobo, ibooks and the like.

Those platforms aways you to publish what you’ve written to earn a profit and that’s exactly what I did. Now, a degree in English does have benefits. I know now when I’m breaking grammar rules and when I’m not. But in fiction, you don’t need to follow all the rules. Some people break rules for emphasis such as having a one word sentence or using passive voice. These things go to the writer’s own personal style.

But I didn’t need a degree to break the rules. Now I just know that I did.

My advice?

Learn all you can about writing. All that you want. You can never underestimate the power of knowledge from people who may be able to teach you something different. But don’t let a lack of a degree stop you from finishing your book. You don’t have to wait until you’ve so-called “proven yourself” to put that book out there.

Remember: Pauses like that will only hold you back. And trust me, people with degree still make mistakes so there’s never really a so-called perfect time to do accomplish your goals. Now would be most ideal.

Happy writing,

Shaquanda

Ex-Player is now Available

Ex-player6After many, many months of what felt like blood sweat and tears I’ve finally released the sequel to my four book series, Ex-Player. It’s actually has been out since mid March but since I haven’t blogged for a while so it’s the latest news.  :)

Here is the synopsis:

What happens when a notorious player suddenly goes off the market? For ex player, Malcolm, trying to become a good, one woman man for his beautiful girlfriend Kayla is turning out to be harder than he ever expected. The thing is, the hoes keep coming whether he’s single or not. The past is not easily forgotten and old habits are hard to break. When old flings come knocking at his door and new women introduce themselves, will he have enough willpower to resist temptation or will his player instincts kick in and end up turning his life back to where he started, alone and single?

One thing’s for sure: It’s easy to say you’re good, but it’s hard as hell to stay that way.

Ex-Player is a stunning novella based off the Jaylen and Jessica series that will take you through every emotion and leave you feeling excited, warm, and thankful for the people in your life. Download this book today and enjoy.

Not bad, eh?

lol. If you’re interested, you can check out this book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now and it will be available soon at Kobo.  Thanks again!

Creating A Round Character (Video)

In this video, I talk about what factors contribute to having a round and more in-depth character. The tips I point out include

1. Faults and “talents”

2. Background

3.Dialogue, tone, and mannerisms

4. Education

and 5. goals and motivation

I als briefly discuss what makes a story a story and how characters can drive an entire novel if you have a character that’s fully developed. Take a listen.

5 Tips to Creating Realistic Dialogue (Video)

In this video I share my top five tips to help you enhance your dialogue so that your characters sound realistic and their words pop off the page! Enjoy. Please comment as well.

How to Capture Your Reader’s Attention With Chapter One

Hi to you and happy Fourth of July!pink chapter one

I thought I’d write a post before enjoying the festivities of the fourth. So in this post I want to talk about capturing your reader’s attention so they will want to read the rest of your book without stopping and thinking that it’s boring or slow or just not “getting to the good part”.

I really would like to know what you think of the tips so if you want to share, you can leave a comment below and I’ll respond back to you.

Okay, here we go.

Create Tension Or Conflict

You can create a small problem or situation for your heroine to overcome right from the first page. For example, a conflict could be that they’re late for work or that they found out someone stole their very important paperwork that needed to be turned in.

It doesn’t have to be catastrophic in the first chapter because you’re still introducing the character to your reader. So starting off small and going big later is a good way to go without losing or confusing your audience.

Another way is to put your character in a tense situation. Maybe he walks in on his parents having a discussion about getting a divorce and he’s not comfortable with it. Anything that will put your character outside his comfort zone would be more interesting than if he stays in it all the time.

You don’t have to use those examples exactly. I’ve read some books that starts off with the character running away child readingfrom a crime scene or having sex. It really depends on the genre you’re writing in to decide what introduction would grab your reader’s attention the best.

Be Creative

One thing you can try to do is just try something different. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be what other people have done before because it gets played out. I know sometimes when it comes to some situations it’s impossible not to fall into some kind of cliché but if you think you can create something better then go for it.

If you’re not sure if your first chapter is going to get your reader’s attention, one way to check is by asking a few close friends or family member to read it.

Ask them if it grabs their attention and make them want to keep more.  If so, then you’re headed in the right direction. If not, then try something a little different. It’s not the end of the world and you’re continuously gaining experience in the process.

Insight Some Emotion

The more emotion you have for your character to show, the more engaged the reader will be.

I mean think about it. Would you want to read a book where the character doesn’t care about anything? No passion. No wants. No needs. They’re just there. Boring!

If you can start off the book that causes the character to be upset or confused or fired up for the day, it would be a lot more interesting for your readers than a bland characters that’s just going to life with nothing going on.

If you’re writing a mystery then maybe you can start off with your character finding a dead body or a clue to a hidden secret. If you show your character’s curiosity then your readers will get curious too. Get it?

Your readers are more likely to get more emotionally invested in the book if they know the character’s are invested too.

But you have to make that emotion clear. One way of doing that is by repetition. By restating your character’s goal the reader is less likely to forget and be reminded of why it’s so important to your character to achieve his goal.

Don’ts:no

Okay, so those were the good ideas. Now let’s go over some of the bad.

Cliche  Beginnings

I’ll be honest. I’ve done the cliche of starting off the story with my character waking up and starting their day.  It started after they woke up from a nightmare but it’s still a little cliche.

Try to keep your reader’s attention by starting off with your character actually doing something then the basic wake up, shower, comb hair routine. Unless their lifestyle is different or unique to how we normally do them, but if there is nothing special about it then it may be useful to just skip right to the good part.

Too Much Setting, Not Enough Action

I may be a little bias because setting is not my favorite thing to write or to read, but I do know it’s bad to have too much setting and not enough action.

Because you want both of them, right?

If you’re really good, one way to make sure setting doesn’t overcrowd the action is to combine both of them.

For example:

“I griped the umbrella so hard my knuckles my palm hurts. The streets of Chicago is dirty, dangerous, and unpredictable. Just like this random as weather.”

Okay, that example (which I just made up) hopefully shows action, a character walking down the streets of Chicago, and setting, raining, dangerous and dark. I hope it gave off a feeling that the character didn’t like the location she was  in or the weather.  And a little bit of personality got in there, too.

The point is, you don’t have to separate setting from action from character personality. You can do it by blending it together beautifully.

Giving Away Everything Too Soon

You want to hook you readers from chapter one and one way to hook them is by holding out information, secrets, answers and results.

So don’t give away too much in the first chapter. Leave something untold to make them keep guessing and wondering what’s going to happen next. That’s what’s going  to make them want to turn the page of your book again and again.

Thanks again for reading. If you want to share anything about keeping your reader’s attention, do so below in the comment area so we can read it and check it out.

-Shaquanda

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