Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Writing 101: Getting Technical

Character development, plot, point of view, all these things help to create a book...but at the end of the story, they're all supporting players. The backbone of any book, of every book, is the technical aspect -- and this is what many indie authors neglect.

Let's Talk Tech

Writers are creative types, with big imaginations. They spin stories, weave plots and invent characters that become as real as the people in our own families. The writer is like an artist painting on a canvas. They're thinking about which colors to use, where to draw the lines, how to add shadows and nuances to certain elements of the big picture. And with all that going on, it's probably easy for the painter to shop thinking about the canvas that's being painted upon. But the writer can't ever forget all those technical details that matter so much -- the canvas on which the words are written.
  • Clean it up. All it takes is one misplaced comma for a reader to get taken out of the story they're reading. A glaring grammatical error, a quotation mark that's totally out of place, a badly-written line can be enough to turn a reader off any book. I once put down a novel because the writer put the apostrophe in the wrong place in the word "y'all." Apostrophes are very important to me. Always clean up your work. Edit and re-edit to fix spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
  • Format it properly. Make your book look like a book. This is pretty simple advice -- some might say it's rather ridiculous even to bring it up -- but so many writers just ignore their formatting. Buy your book after you publish it online, and look at it with your own eyes. You should have paragraph indents or clean block paragraphs, chapter headings that stand out and a uniform look throughout. Readers aren't going to waste time on a book that's hard to read because it's not formatted well. 
Get Technical

Independent authors feel a lot of pressure to work quickly, to create their books as soon as possible in order to satisfy their current audience and continue to build upon it. But you can't afford to skip the little technical details that make your work look professional and well done. Take the time to edit, and download proper software to format your book so that it looks attractive. Free ebook software is available (I personally use Mobi) that makes it easy to get proper formatting. It takes extra time to work all those tedious technical details, but your readers will appreciate the effort.

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