Friday, March 23, 2012

Live Chat Wrap Up!

Here is the highlights from last week's live chat.  The topic was: How to get a 5 star review/What it takes to get a 5 star review.  I was the "host" for last week, and will be hosting it again this week.  It's quite long, so feel free to skip through.  I tried to shorten it where I could.  Let me know if you want to see this kind of thing for every live chat.

Jason: so Hilary ... 5 star reviews... (segway.. lead in... whatever works...) tell us all about it !!! GO

Hilary: It's actually a lot easier than most authors think.

Hilary: When I'm reading a book, I want to be part of it. I want to be taken to another world, place, etc.

Hilary: Adjectives are an authors best friend. :)

Jason: swept away...

Hilary: pretty much

Writers Unite: What puts you off a story?

Hilary: There's a couple things.

Jason: *and then they woke up - it was all a dream*... the end...

Writers Unite: That goes without saying!

Hilary: 1. Bad character development - I don't want to fall in love with a character and never learn more about them. Have them fall off the face of the earth within two lines. If your book is designed to kill off people, cool but...give me something to go off of

Hilary: haha Jason - that's definitely one of them.

Hilary: Like Jason just said, a book that ends too soon.

Hilary: That's one of my pet peeves.

Jason: I struggle with the concept the first chapter and first paragraph is supposed to engage the reader and yet the reader doesn't know the characters or the situation. How can you engage if there is no immediate context.

Hilary: That's such an old concept.

Hilary: I don't judge a book by the first paragraph or the first chapter.

Jason: my first chapters are always slow, leading up to something big because if the big thing happens too early the reader has no empathy for the characters yet or even an understanding of what it means etc...

Hilary: Yes and no.

Hilary: It depends on the book.

Hilary: For example, The Angel Chronicles by Amy Lignor - starts out with a very very dramatic opening.  Catches you from the very first sentences and never lets you go. BUT it works for that book because of the action, fantasy, thriller, theme.

Jason: Over the water here where the Kangaroo's roam free we have two largish publishers (Pan Millan and Allen and Unwin) who both do submission days and promise an editor with read our drivel. - My point is both ask for first chapter only.. ggrrr.... not a true reflection of the depth of a book IMHO.. and I am off topic so going to go hide now.. rant over... *sigh*...

Hilary: I don't know your books well Jason, sorry, but many books that start out slow like that tend to be my favorites. :)

Stephanie: My first novel started with a car crash, and my second has more of a long monologue - but everyone has said the monologue is much more tense

Hilary: I like to get to know the characters first, build up the story and background a little bit more.

Hilary: IMO it depends on how you write it.

Hilary: Sometimes overly dramatic scenes are expected.  Whereas the monologue opening isn't, but it's filled with raw emotions.

Stephanie: :) Anything else you base your preferences on? i.e. book cover, blurb, author?

Hilary: book cover sometimes, blurb for sure!, not so much ( no offense! )  I give all authors a fair and equal chance.

Stephanie: That's really great.

Hilary: I love cover art, and authors spend SO much time working on it..why not admire it and "judge a book by it's cover"?  If the cover art has nothing to do with the book, I'm a little put-off by the choice the author made.  It makes me think the choice was rushed or forced.

Hilary: With the little blurbs, I love them. The author has 200-300 (if that) words to tell you exactly what the novel is about.  Not only is it a challenge for the author to get it right, but it will tell you exactly what to expect about their writing style.  Long, wordy blurb = more depth and development

Jason: So if the author's a really cute guy does that help? (joke)... I just realised I'm the only guy here.. lol.. I should really be more serious...

Hilary: LOL nah

Hilary: Half the time I don't even remember the authors name while I'm reading a book. I'll have to look at the cover or menu to remember. lol Sad, I know, but I read so many and I try really hard to keep the person separate from their material - just to give an honest review.

Stephanie: lol

Jason: so who writers better men or women?

Hilary: Depends on the genre.

Hilary: women write better sci-fi; men write better thrillers

Jason: Romance - women? *insert genre here* - Men - maybe action thriller stuff?

Stephanie: women write better sci fi??

Hilary: I tend to favor male writers with romance/chic-lit, but there are some extremely talented female romance authors

Hilary: Yes Steph. :)  Women don't try to compare it to Star Wars, Star Trek, (or their favorite sci-fi shows) etc. as much

Jason: really better sci-fi? I didn't know that - I always think of the amous men of sci-fi Clarke, Wells, Verne etc... etc..

Hilary: Women sci-fi authors have a more unique take on it then men do.  Think outside the "top 10" sci-fi authors.

Jason: I guess my limited general knowledge is well, limited...

Hilary: heh. I've read WAY too many books... lol

Hilary: When it comes to fantasy and paranormal, both men and women are pretty equal I've found.

Jason: so can you read a book and get a sense of where the author has gone wrong? an appraisal? do you do that sort of thing?

Hilary: Yes

Hilary: That's pretty much what my reviews are. I try to point out the good parts of the novel for the reader, but also talk about the logistics side - plot, character development, word use, etc.  When you read all the time, you catch the mistakes.

Jason: I'll stick mostly to urban fantasy and action thrillers... I think to write really good sci fi you need to be science and maths smart to get it right... not for me!

Hilary: Lets see...other things I look for?

Hilary: Characters that are real.

Hilary: I want characters that I can believe are actually possible.

Stephanie: any further elaboration on that? :)

Hilary: When I read, I literally "create" the entire story in my mind. I want to be able to see what the author saw when they created the characters.

Hilary: The more believable the characters are, the more I like them. I want to feel like I could travel to wherever they live and meet them....even if I can only do that in my dream world. :P

Stephanie: that's cool :D

Hilary: The more detail I can pull out of a story, without it being too much, the better.

Hilary: Thanks! :)

Hilary: You want readers to be able to feel the way you do about your novel.

Hilary: If you write a novel, and don't really feel confident about it. I'll know.

Stephanie: So what do you feel is most important? Character, plot, setting...?

Hilary: Characters by far for me. :)

Hilary: And plot twists

Hilary: I am a HUGE sucker for good plot twists.

Hilary: I love it when authors make me think the story is going to go one direction, and I think I have it figured out... then WHAM! something changes.  It always gets my adrenaline going and makes me so excited.

Stephanie: awesome :) any recent books that have made you feel that way?

Hilary: oh yes.  The Angel Chronicles by Amy Lignor; The Circle by RG Lawrence; a couple chick-lit short stories...Its very exciting when one tiny thing in a novel changes the entire plot.

Hilary: Another way to hook readers is know exactly who you are trying to write for.

Stephanie: I'm selfish...I write for myself haha

Hilary: Envision the type of person you want reading your novel - be it a 13 yr old punk rock girl who's always getting in trouble or yourself.

Hilary: That's a great way to write too though Steph. :) At least you know exactly who you are writing it for.  If you're writing just to please the world, you'll get no where.

Jason: part of the problem of real characters is often they are a bit too normal which can come across a bit dull sometimes.

Hilary: Very true Jason :)

Stephanie: I think you can have "normal" characters, but just put them in extraordinary situations.

Stephanie: No one is "normal" anyway, hence my quotations. haha

Hilary: Agreed Steph

Hilary: I don't really like the word "normal" for people.  lol It has too many negative thoughts associated with it.

Jason: regular people you can still put them through hell...

Hilary: exactly.

Hilary: It's up to the author to decide if the characters or plot should be the most "exciting"

Hilary: I've read books with both, and a little in between. But only the authors who stick with their idea are successful.

Jason: So what makes a book 5 star - is it that perfect balance of characters to plot with pacing that holds your interest? like a cake cooked to perfection...?

Hilary: Yes. It's a delicate balance of all the elements in a book.

Jason: What do you think of the million word theory / myth?

(I am a newbie still to the writing world...keep that in mind!)

Hilary: I read a book, it was the authors very first book and it was written in less than 3 months.  Phenonmenal.  It was one of the best books I've ever read. Writing will improve with practice, yes, but I don't think an author will change that drastically.

Jason: I"m on my 5th book and I know my writing is improving in some areas however others I think I have made no progress at all..

Jason: 3 months - entire book - what length?

Jason: first book... *insert green eyes*....

Jason: my first book was 150,000 words and took 10 months and it is dreadful.. good story, awful writing... I love it.. lol

Hilary: It was about 450ish pages. It's been years since I've read it.

Jason: 450 pages.. oh so a Novella (joke)...

Stephanie: A guy wrote 50,000 words in one day here if you're interested:

Hilary: 50,000 in one day! O.o my hands would fall off! Talk about carpel tunnel!

Jason: I agree... OUCH !

Jason: I did 3,000 last week night and my arms were sore the next morning (wrists ache)...

Jason: I know some authors do 10 hours a day...

Hilary: I can read for about 8hrs straight but I could never ever type for that long!

Jason: I write short stories when I am between books.

Hilary: I hope this helped a little...

Stephanie: of course it did! Thanks for coming Jason, hopefully next week it'll be a better turn out - I'll be promoting like crazy! :)

Hilary: Good! :) Thanks Jason and Steph!

(goodbyes were said...)  Join this week's live chat here.  I'll be talking about how to find your next favorite book.  Have a question about the chat?  Just ask!  There are also two other chats scheduled.  See a full list here.  The other two chats are much more exciting than mine.  Happy Highlights Day!

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