Tag: getting started (Page 1 of 2)

Writers’ Groups

Writers groups, or critique circles, are pivotal in becoming a professional writer. Thriller writer Nicole Wilson shares her thoughts on the importance of these groups, what makes a good group, and how to get the most out of the experience.

One of the most important steps a writer can take to help their craft is to join a writers’ group. It’s literally a collection of people who are experiencing the same struggle you are, and it can be incredibly encouraging.

How They Work

A small group of people meet at a predefined location, usually a bookstore or someone’s house. Everyone is a writer, so it’s a safe zone to express your successes, frustrations, and everything in between. Also, each person is at a different stage in their writing. Some are already published, others are agenting, and others are working on their first manuscript. Normally, there’s a set page limit, so all of you bring, say, ten pages a week every Thursday night at 7 PM. Each person either reads their piece aloud or has it read aloud by someone else in the group. Then the group takes a few minutes (some are stricter and time it) to discuss any big-ticket items.

My Experiences

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two great writers’ groups in my writing career. A friend – who later became my husband – invited me to tag along to his group. The first time I went, I had no clue what to expect. We were meeting at a Barnes & Noble, and, when I walked in, there was this small table toward the back where eight or nine people were sitting. I found Michael and was immediately welcomed with open arms in the group. I made several friends that, three years later, I still keep in touch with. As for the structure, each person picked someone else to read their five pages. We went around the circle and gave short feedback. The author was not aloud to speak until the feedback was complete.

The second writers’ group I’ve loved (which I’m currently in now) is also amazing. We meet at one woman’s house and sit around her dining room table. Everyone reads their own ten pages out loud, then whoever has a comment speaks and the group discusses. The author is allowed to comment with the group. It’s a loving community of 8-13 people (depending on the week), and we share food and life as well.


There are many benefits to joining a writers’ group.
1) Simply put, you have access to a support group. These people either know what it’s like to go through what you are now or they want to know, so they encourage sharing stories, both successes and failures.

Read the rest…

Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at www.nicolewilsonauthor.com

Query Shark

Another amazing tool for writing query letters. This site is a cornerstone for authors everywhere. The query shark is an actual agent who spends her free time critiquing query letters. There are hundreds of queries from all genres, each with commentary.


Resources for Artists: Be More Productive

We’ve all been there, needing that extra nudge to actually get something good done. Twitter and Facebook can suck you into a vortex and never let you go. We, as artists, need inspiration, tools, resources, and help with things we may not do so well (like social media marketing).

The good folks over at Creative Shrimp have put together a wonderful, catch-all list of 19 Useful Resources to Help You Get More Productive at Art. I use several of these regularly. You should really check it out.

Benefits of Multimedia Education

I preach Educational Storytelling and the mixed-media, interactive revolution. But, the two are not separate. In fact, my ultimate goal is to help create a platform for interactive and personalized curriculum design using a multimedia platform.

Just to “test the waters” as it were, I have collected a few “stater” posts and articles about the benefits and use of multimedia in education.

  • Benefits of Using Multimedia in Education is an overview for a graduate level course on multimedia education.
  • This report, “Multimedia Transformation,” examines the many ways multimedia tools are transforming teaching and learning as schools work to raise achievement and prepare students for careers that require increasingly sophisticated uses of technology.
  • The last is a list of software and applications that can be used to create multimedia educational resources. As with everything in technology, the list can be a little outdated, but still valuable.

I will dig deeper into all of these as time goes by. For now, I just wanted to get them out there.

Please add your own to the comments.

Series: The Future of Content

I am a researcher, storyteller, and technologist. Nowhere does that all come together more than in the exploration of how content is evolving. I research how people interact with content and education. I tell stories that are mixed-media and interactive. I build tools and apps that help authors and geeks work together to make awesome content experiences.

the lines are blurring between different kinds of content. Books are becoming websites. Music is meshing with film. Websites and apps are taking over.

Not only is content presentation changing, but the content itself is evolving. Stories are interactive. Articles include videos. Everything is online and part of a conversation between reader and maker.

My research and experiments are about pushing these trends into new places. Those involved in the revolution want to erase the lines that divide presentations (books, movies, websites) so that the content itself gets the show it deserves.

This series explores what the future of digital content might look like. How will books and websites evolve together? Where to games fit in? How will we read, watch, learn, relax, and engage with all the stuff we love in 5, 10, or 20 years?

I focus six traits of content in the future. These traits are my roadmap in most of my research, stories, and experiments. I would like to share them with you and get feedback on how you think content will evolve.

1. Multi-Access

You want your content your way. And you want to access your content in multiple ways.

2. Mixed Media and Multimodal

Content will not just be one thing. A story will alternate between pictures, text, and audio. Articles will include videos. And they will engage more than just one or two senses.

3. Interactive

Bonus features and behind-the-scenes videos are interactive, but what about letting the reader actually change the story as it goes. Or movies where the audience talks with the characters. Oh, and personalized, too.

4. Collaborative

Maker and Audience are distinctions that are starting to fade. We can all work together to build content that is something unlike any one person could have planned.

5. Social

Yes, content will be shared, tweeted, digged, forked, thrown, liked, hated, reviewed, and even more. Content will be integrated into life.

6. Immersive and Expansive

Stories have universes, and we want to explore more than just the small part we see in a video or read in a book. Immersive means that we will be able to surround ourselves and explore content on our own terms. Expansive means that content will link together with other content.

Stick with me as I explore what each of these mean and we discuss how to push digital content forward into the future.

Basic Color Theory for Visual Artists

If we are interested in mixed-media stories, that means we should be using more forms of media, right? Absolutely. Visual components of stories are the most popular. Think graphic novels and even film. So, even if you are not the one who is actually rendering these images, it is important to have a basic understanding of what makes visual stories sizzle.

One thing that will bring your work from “hey, that’s alright” to “wow, I’m blown away” is the right use of color. Be very careful about which colors you choose. Most masterpieces use less that 12 actual colors (that includes shades) and they are chosen very, very carefully. Using whatever color you feel like at that moment is the sure sign of an amateur  Creating a solid color palette for each project also makes your life a lot easier and helps you to work faster.

Here’s the best intro to color theory I’ve found. It’s really simple and easy to read.


And here are a couple good videos:

Lemme know what y’all think by commenting below!

Learning About Your Characters

This post is by thriller author, Nicole Wilson.

Read more at nicolewilsonauthor.com or facebook.com/nicolewilson31author.

While I was working on the first draft of my novel, I realized that, despite all of my planning, plotting, and outlining, I did not know who my characters were. Nor did I realize that I needed to know who they were. I figured they would just come alive in the story, take on a personality by themselves. Right?

Wrong. At least for me. There was no flair. No personal touches to any of the dialogue. Not until I got to a scene where I needed a guy in a mask did I add some personality traits to my characters. The guy ends up wearing a Reaver mask, which is an entity in the TV show Firefly. But two of my main characters recognize it as a Reaver, while another character simply thinks it’s a monster. This helped develop that the first two were 1) good friends, 2)Firefly fans, and 3) a little bit geeky. It also helped me see that the other character wasn’t into cult classics like Firefly and helped build her as an outsider in that relationship.

That one little entry into my story made me realize that I needed to really dig deep into my characters, especially since I’m planning other books with some of them. Once I finally did my digging, I felt like there was so much more that could be added to my story, whether it be backstory, little conversational bits, anything that allows the reader to bond with the characters.

To go about exploring my characters, I googled “character profiles” and found a ton of hits. I picked out three that seemed to be pretty extensive and combined them into one Excel spreadsheet for a total of 200-and-something questions. Good grief. I decided that I would answer these to the best of my ability, and that I would do the best I could, but I was not going to answer 200-plus questions for seven characters. No thanks.

Read the rest.

Nicole Wilson is a thriller author, who loves her husband, Jesus, books, running, and Microsoft Excel. She has two short stories published and is at work on her first novel.

Visual Composition and Storytelling

My passion is for mixed-media stories; tales told by alternating mediums. Two of my current projects, Allyson Darke and Phantom Hearts, both alternate between novel-like prose and fully rendered image sequences not unlike fleshed out storyboards. I will talk more about this process later. As I explore what it means to tell a visual story, I’m reminded of a couple basic but incredibly important rules of composition.

Please note: Rules are made to be broken, but only for a specific reason in a specific place.

The Rule of Thirds

RuleOfThirds-SideBySide” by Tadrart01.JPG: Pir6mon
derivative work: Teeks99 (talk) – Tadrart01.JPG. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Rule of Thirds says that “an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.”

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Series: Individual Differences, A Primer

Individual Differences in Education and Storytelling

As we march through a series on Educational Storytelling, it occurs to me that a basic understanding of Individual Learner Differences will be important. Everyone is different: we learn differently, enjoy different things, and respond to different elements in different ways. If we truly want to create stories that are transformational for a lot of people, we must learn to borrow theory and methods from those who teach diverse students every day.

Simply put: until we understand how people learn and learn differently, we can never craft stories that teach individuals effectively.

So, this short mini-series introduces concepts important to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. These short posts are meant to be foundational, just starting point toward topics like Differentiated Instruction, Intelligence, Learning Styles, Cognitive Development, and Multimodal Storytelling.

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Hero’s Journey: Stepping Onto the Road With Plot

This post is part of a series exploring the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell studied hundreds of world-wide myths, finding patterns to virtually any story. This basic framework gives the stories we tell a universal, timeless appeal and resonate deeply with our audiences. This series is not about a “five steps to perfect stories” method, nor does it claim a best way to tell stories.  Today, we begin with plot.

Check out the rest of the series and a compare different versions of the Hero’s Journey

The “Journey” in Hero’s Journey

The Hero”™s Journey (or the Writer”™s Journey as Christopher Vogler calls it) has been analyzed, redefined, tinkered with and taught a million different ways. The point of this series is not to make that a million and one, but to simplify it a little. Stories are simple. They are powerful. That”™s why its been a primary occupation of man since that first campfire. We will break down the journey into five steps:

  1. The Hero and the Ordinary World, Broken
  2. The Hero and the Quest
  3. The Hero and the Passion
  4. The Hero and the Moment
  5. The Hero and the Repercussions

For the geeks out there (of which I am unashamedly one), here is a more extensive list of the Writer”™s Journey and Joseph Campbell”™s original Hero”™s Journey.

The Hero and Character Growth

We use these five steps because they are a more character-centered way of organizing the Hero”™s Journey. Each of the five steps is completely connected with the Hero”™s growth and character arc. As we will see in more detail later, the main character (and really most of your characters) must grow. They must change, becoming a different person by the end of the tale. That may be literal (zombie to human) or more internal (grumpy to happy). It can even be negative growth (happy to grumpy), though handle this with caution. The point is: the journey itself (all the stuff the hero goes through) aids this change. Most commonly, a hero has a want, a wound, and a need. You may also think of these as character flaws. More on this later.

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