The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Thirty-Four
January Fades from View
It seems the older I get, the less I like winter. When I was younger I loved winter…up until 2006, my one year in Alaska…then I stopped thinking winter was really neat. Anyway, I really feel it this year. The gray is getting to me, and that’s why I’m ecstatic that January is coming to an end. February signals springtime to me, even if the calendar doesn’t agree. Hey, I’m all for self-deception if it makes life easier. J
So here I am, self-deceived but not self-medicated, bringing you another Mailbag.
Let’s get to it!
Using Family Members in Stories
From Ann: “Don't know if this is a new question but if you use a family member as the basis for one of your characters do you ask his or her permission, or do you disguise them in some way, apart from giving them a different name?”
Ann, I am definitely talking from experience in answering this question. I’m going to give you my opinion, based on a painful lesson, so just remember this is simply an opinion. There are no rules with regards to this.
I used real family members in my very first novel. I was naïve and I simply did not think before doing it, and to this day, seven years later, there is one niece who will not talk to me. As the kids like to say, my bad!
I would counsel asking for permission or simply not doing it. It opens up a can of worms you may never be able to cover up again.
It’s almost funny when I think back, because that’s probably the only one of my novels any of my family has read, and wouldn’t you know it was the only one I used family members in. LOL Lesson learned.
RE-POSTING ON A DIFFERENT SITE
From Rasma: “This question I guess is not really for a mailbag but for just plain advice. I wrote quite a few articles on my dad, his own memories and memories from friends. People enjoyed reading but I think that now that they have been sitting around I would like to find a new audience. I wanted your opinion on how it would be to rewrite and publish the memories on NIUME I guess in Literature or should I put them on Creative Exiles in Memoirs. Have a great week.”
I hope you don’t mind, Rasma, but I decided to include this in the Mailbag anyway.
I’m going to tiptoe on this one because I’ve got friends on Creative Exiles.
I guess it depends on your purpose in rewriting those memories. If your goal is to reach out to as many people as possible then, objectively speaking, I think NIUME is your best bet. It is the more established and widely-viewed of the two sites you mentioned.
However, if your goal is to republish to a site where positive support will be instantly given, then I would go with the Creative Exiles.
How was that for diplomatic?
But then I can toss a monkey wrench into the whole mess by saying no matter which site you post on, your memories will still head out into the cyber world, so the viewing of those memories would depend, mainly, on your expertise with SEO and not one bit dependent upon the site you choose.
Time Is on My Side
From Bryce: “What’s the best time to write, in your opinion?”
That’s an easy one, Bryce. The best time for you to write is the best time for you to write.
Don’t you just love riddles?
Look, the best time for me is early morning. I’m on fire, creatively, from seven a.m. to noon. After that my productivity takes a sharp decline.
But I know writers who are dynamite at eleven at night. They can stay up and pour out the words in the wee hours of the morning. That works for them. It doesn’t work at all for me.
So, back to my answer, the best time for you is the best time for you. I’m sticking with that one, thank you very much!
From Louise: “You’ve mentioned stop words in other Mailbags, but I’m still confused by them. Would you please write a Hub about them?”
Maybe! Maybe not! It depends if I can find the time, Louise.
Listen, let me try to break this down to basics. Stop words are words that are either totally useless in a Google search, or may confuse a Google search. Words like “the,” or “it,” or “can,” or a hundred other words like that, can confuse the heck out of a Google search. There may be a difference when someone does a search between “Best sports cars” and “What are the best sports cars?”
Why is this important? Because when you write an article, if you don’t pay attention to this, you might be shooting yourself in the foot with regards to SEO. If making money on your articles is important to you, then giving your article the best chance of being found on searches should be important, so stop words should also be important.
So, how do we know if the stop word affects the search? Run a test. Do your own Google search for the title of your article, and then eliminate the stop words from your article and do another Google search. Where do those two searches take you? If they take you to a search area you want to be in, then that’s the title you should use.
Easy peasy, right?
I’ll try to write that article, Louise, but I make no promises.
My own writing guide
From Mary: “I have been listening to an audio book called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. She emphasizes continued daily writing practice. I was wondering if this is still something you do as you seem so busy producing work which is either published here, on Amazon or working for clients. Do you still have time to just practice or do you feel that you have cut your teeth and it is no longer necessary?”
Mary, thanks for a great question. I’ll tell you the first thing that came to my mind when I read this: if I think I don’t need to practice my craft, then I’m doing the wrong thing with my time by writing.
My goal is to become the greatest writer I’m capable of being. I jokingly sign some of my stuff “the greatest unknown author,” not because I think I am, but because I want to at least be that, and I’ll never make it if I quit trying to grow.
To answer your question, I practice my craft five days a week, and my answer will be the same next year, and the year after that, and…..
WORDS OF ADVICE
From Brie: “I’m just starting out as a freelance writer. What’s the one piece of advice you can give me to get started on the right foot?”
Sheez, Brie, why don’t you start out with an easy question, he said facetiously.
Okay, listen, I’m going to give you a whimsical answer, and then I’m going to give you a serious answer.
First, the whimsical: don’t quit your day job. Freelance writing, for a living, is not an easy gig, and it is very hard when you first start out. The money will be hard to come by for the first six months to a year…and that’s being optimistic. So make sure you have another source of income coming in while you build your business.
Next, the serious answer: do as much research as you can, and then do more research. Learn the SEO game. Learn about marketing. Learn about social media. Learn how to build a writing platform. Learn all of these things, and then learn more. Knowledge is power in the freelance game, so don’t short-change yourself when you are starting out.
Join me on my website
- Artistry With Words | Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
A Short One Today
Yes, a short Mailbag, but that’s your fault, right? LOL I love it when I can’t take any of the blame.
Have a great week and I’ll catch you later down the literary road of life.
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”