An Eclipse Means Nothing Without This…

How’s it going? I should have mentioned something interesting in yesterday’s post about the coming eclipse, but I didn’t. So I’ll do that today.

Let’s get to it.

I didn’t actually get the materials together for a cereal box viewer to help with the eclipse viewing yesterday. Then I remembered my aunt was coming over to hang out, and she brought a pair of eclipse glasses with her. So I got to use those.

Even though it was cloudy out to begin with…

I got to see the eclipse.

Did we have 100% coverage/totality? Nope. I would have had to travel 3-4 hours south, and I wasn’t going to do that.

The sun basically looked like an orange fingernail clipping changing positions with a black space, for a while. And it felt really warm, too–I tried not to look more than 2-3 seconds at a time.

And for some strange reason, I kept thinking that the eclipse glasses (which looked like 3D glasses when they had red and blue lenses) were actually just cut and stretched trash bags (the lenses on these glasses were black).

We also watched live coverage of the eclipse on TV, which helped some, too. Things were a lot clearer because they had special cameras and reporters who could travel directly to the places with 100% coverage.

To give everyone a clearer picture.

Which brings me to the point for today actually.

When you’re creating experiences for your readers (a bit like the eclipse was for me), you want to do your best to be clear, and with some experiences, it’s hard to do that.

I tried to do that here, to give you a picture of how things turned out. But for an experience to be clear and memorable, it has to be relatable. Readers need a clear picture they can understand and get involved in, so they can share the experience with you.

If you’re writing fiction or an email, it’s easier to do this than when you’re describing an 85-ish% solar eclipse (at least I hope it is).

Until next time,

Ty

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Did You See It? How the Solar Eclipse Can Help You Write Better Fiction and Copy

How was your weekend? I’ll make this a bit quick…let’s get to it.

If you live in the U.S., you’ve heard about the total solar eclipse we’ll be having–probably in a few hours.

People are fascinated by things that are bigger (literally or figuratively) than themselves. To some, it’s something to brag about being a part of, an experience to share with others, or what-have-ya.

That’s how fiction, emails, and other types of writing should be.

You always want to be implying something deeper, bigger, and more complex than what’s on the surface, even if it doesn’t pass into the story.

Your readers don’t know your fiction world set on a snowy asteroid or what research you went through to help you write the email they’re reading…at least not as well as you do.

Let them see it a piece at a time–what’s normal for your characters will be totally strange for them.

Make your world something they want to learn more about–something uncertain they want to keep searching to make sense of.

And if you look toward (not at) the eclipse today, stay safe.

I will say cereal box cardboard, paper towel tubes, and/or construction paper are as high tech as I’ll be going this time around.

Until next time,

Ty

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Triple F: Tried It and It Didn’t Work…

How’s it going? The weekend’s just about here. I’ve been doing some scripting, and a little bit of fiction writing (the fiction’s my own stuff). And I got another hefty piece of evidence reinforcing that I should never jump to conclusions (but I’ll have to make that the subject of another post).

(And after doing some research and combining cheap gear with what I already had, fighting those birds from Bird Creature Pixels, and Your Writing wasn’t bad at all).

Because today is Fabulous Fiction Friday/Triple F. And that means a prompt for you.

So, based on a bit a computer fix I tried but didn’t have it work (which I should also put as another post), your prompt for this week is:

Your character tries a solution to a problem and it doesn’t work.

Okay. Teeny plot point, and pretty much nothing else. Which means you’ll have to come up with the gender and backstory of this character, what the problem and solution are, why the solution flops, and what-have-ya. Minor conflict, or major? Up to you, but I’ll be honest…I wasn’t thinking of a character getting a hangnail on the day of a job interview.

How about:

Chad is trying to figure out how to get rid of glasses because he thinks they’re annoying (not the ones people drink out of–people usually just drink from the container to solve that deal). Anyway, what if he’s a neuroscientist, and he experiments on himself to make it so his eyes can see better? Only instead of seeing everything better, he sees at the microscopic level because his eyes are now the size of baseballs?

Or maybe Sophie wants to figure out how to get to the next dimension for her homework on time travel. She’s studying an ancient civilization and realizes they settled right outside her town, 10,000 years ago. So, despite her customs and laws, she travels back there, only to find that there’s nothing there–and she can prove it. But if time travel is against the law, will anybody believe her, or will they think she’s so desperate for success she’d lie about anything she could? And if the history books are wrong, could her society be lying to her about other things, too?

That’s enough to get the mental snowball rolling down the hill, I figure.

We’ve got just under 2 weeks of August 2017 left. Make it great.

And make it a great weekend, too, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week),

Ty

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Bird Creature Pixels, and Your Writing…

How’s it going? I was playing a bit of an online game last night and today, and I realized…

Sometimes I hate challenges.

Let’s get to it.

A lot of you may not understand this example, so I’ll keep the videogame-ese to a minimum.

In one online game that I play, there’s a certain skill called Slayer, that allows you to defeat monsters you otherwise can’t kill (or even put a scratch on).

And I’ve been taking mini-challenges, and doing pretty well at it so far.

Those are classed as challenges I like. These are:

— Easy

— Straightforward

— Things that I can handle because I’ve done similar things before

All right.

This latest challenge I took involves hunting down bird creatures. Who fly. All the time. Meaning sword, axe, halberd, and spear combat is out. Okay, using a bow or ice or fire is fine.

These creatures are found in a dungeon where they and about 25 other types of creatures are fighting each other constantly.

And they’ll fight anyone who walks on their turf. I went in there with no armor or anything one time, just to see what it was like…

Within five seconds I was dead (not a lot of exaggeration).

I’d consider this bird thing a challenge I don’t like because:

— I don’t know really how to prepare to go into this place

— I died the last time I went in “just to try it”

— It’s something I’m not familiar with at all

In writing it’s the same thing. Doesn’t matter if it’s emails, sales pages, or fiction stories.

Some challenges are refreshing, and get you raring to go (a set of emails in a niche you’re great at, a story with a type of character or setting you can’t wait to get down on paper, or what-have-ya).

Other challenges not so much. Sometimes I apply to gigs outside my niche or project experience or expertise. It’s kinda scary, I’m not gonna lie.

Does that mean I shouldn’t do it?

No.

And that’s the key.

In order to grow as a writer, I need to stretch. And if I’m doing the same things over and over again, or in the same way, I’ll become better, for sure, but I’ll eventually hit a point where I can’t move on.

At least not on my own.

And it helps me, sometimes, to think of a challenge as just something new–new isn’t necessarily bad (provided I still believe that a product or service can help people, for instance).

This shouldn’t be the same as ignoring warning bells, but I know you get where I went with this.

Tomorrow is Triple F. Be sure to stop by.

Until next time,

Ty

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Dust It Off…

How’s it going? I’m having a bit of an internal hassle today, and I think it’s about something silly, despite what I tell myself and everyone else about it.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

I’m posting more regularly to LinkedIn, and for some reason or other, I’m trying rather hard to come up with new content. Is that bad?

No.

But based on what I’ve already done, it’s almost totally unnecessary.

I have over 500 posts here that I can take things out of that apply to business, or to marketing in general, and put it on there, for sure. (Even WordPress will only show something like 10 or 20 posts on the front page–leaving 500-ish that no one sees unless they search or dig).

There’s no problem with repurposing content–or at least reforming it for a new audience. I’ve already said something once…it’s just that someone probably hasn’t heard me say it, or doesn’t know I’ve said it.

I’m sure you have content you can do the same for, too.

You get maximum exposure while cutting down on your workload (doesn’t work so well for fiction, unless the markets match, and you’ve retained a lot of the publishing rights–but for blog posts, email stories, subject lines, or what-have-ya, this works great).

Because I’m 99% sure that people who follow Fiction and Copy Decoded don’t also follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Until next time,

Ty

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How We Rebonded Over Getting Our Virtual Butts Kicked

How’s it going? Since I mentioned my ill Facebook friend yesterday, today I figured I’d mention about my other friend (who I might get to talk weekly to, now).

Let’s get to it.

This friend of mine hadn’t played an older online game yet that I play, so my brother and I decided to get him into it. I’ve actually written about this friend of mine before in How One Word And an Emoticon Shook Up My Outlook on Life.

He’s a good guy, and he admitted that he’d been just about where I am as far as the game goes…”I spawn in, and then I die.” (Yeah, that’s the story of a lot of my virtual life.)

We also got to catch up on a lot of things and people we hadn’t talked about in years (and I found out why I never got in touch with his older brother very often).

So the game actually served as more of a backdrop (more like incidental fun) as we caught up. And what’s neat is, if he’s available for a couple of hours a week, we can spend that time getting caught up on stuff, regular-like.

Which leads me to my pointola for this post.

This is how you should think of your prospects and readers. It may seem a little weird at times, but people are still people, whether they know you or not.

You want to inspire them to feel like they know you, even if they don’t. That’s why I post about “boring” stuff like this, and do my best to post 5 times a week (up from 3). I realized that nothing was holding me back on that but my own laziness, which wasn’t good.

So I try to show up as often (and unboringly) as I’m able.

That’s also why I’m trying to personally connect with all the people I meet up with through LinkedIn.

It’s that connection…just like talking to a friend.

And that works for emails, sales pages, fiction, and what-have-ya (especially fiction, with dialogue).

Until next time,

Ty

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There’s Always Some Kind of a Clock…

How was your weekend? Mine went well–mowed the lawn, did things here and there, and what-have-ya. I also came across two interesting happenings I’ll probably be blogging about. One is being able to introduce a friend to an online game, which will give us to opportunity to hang out once a week (assuming he’s available), where before we didn’t have the opportunity.

The other is a Facebook friend of mine who’s doing a writer’s challenge–and was shooting videos for it while he felt like crap.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

I’ll get to both of these eventually (probably in different posts), but I’d like to start with the writer’s challenge guy. He works hard, not as hard as some, probably, but harder than most, considering what he was facing–having a deadline, and being sick. He admitted all he wanted to do was basically crash on the couch, more or less.

But he couldn’t do that. And I think it mostly had to do with us–the folks who were taking the challenge he set up. We were looking forward to the videos and resources he’d said he’d put out for us, and he wanted to deliver–feelings, sickness, and what-have-ya or not.

That’s pretty cool, and it goes to several point-olas that connect to writing (and business as a whole).

Sometimes we have to do what we don’t want to–and I’m at the top of that list. You wouldn’t believe the caliber of silly things I’d rather pass off to someone else to do.

If you’re working for someone else as a non-freelancer/employee/whichever, you have to clock into work every day.

If you ARE working as a freelancer, you have to have a routine…and I’m trying to be better at nailing this one down. Fact of the matter is, you have to have a predictable set-up, or, well, you have to clock into work every day–it just depends on where and when you’re doing it.

That’s if you have client work. If you don’t, you have to deliver the what-have-ya–the video course, email course, product. If you market to people, you still have deadlines, or at least people expecting something.

Which means that you’ll need a routine/some other way to make sure things get done.

I don’t like this reality, to be honest. I’d rather slip under the covers (or maybe the couch) and make sure I could stay alive underneath there and never come out.

But I, too, have deadlines sometimes, and if I don’t, I’m browsing for other gigs, or trying to get my own stuff out there.

I’m sure you are too.

Until next time,

Ty

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Triple F: Read This And…

How’s it going? Won’t bore you with a lot of details about my week, since a lot of it is the same, and there weren’t a lot of new developments (except for me getting one maxed skill in an online game that I play kind of a lot, which isn’t really having to do with this, at least not too, too much).

Anyway, let’s get to it.

Today is Triple F, aka Fabulous Fiction Friday, double-aka the prompt for you. Even though I’m a writer, I still love to read, so let’s turn that inspiration into this:

Your character reads a line in a book, and something happens depending on the type of book.

All right. Now you have to figure gender, backstory, and what-have-ya on your character (which would incidentally include the kinds of books they like to read), and you have to pick the books that this type of haywireness will happen during the character reading them. And you’d also have to figure out whether things change whether the book is fiction or nonfiction.

How about:

Nigel reads a book on cars and he’s transported to a garage somewhere? Where is he? What is he? Is he in the body of the lead mechanic? Out in the waiting room? Is he the 3/4 socket wrench in a greasy toolbox now? And why was it this particular shop? Is the owner Fae? Or maybe some kind of enchanter who can’t get workers in a busted economy, so he “borrows” them by enchanting his how-to books?

Or how about Marie reads a science-fiction book, and she gets the knowledge from it, only to realize that whatever the book is talking about isn’t really fiction? Well, that’d be interesting. What if she realizes, after she does read it, that nobody else should? Why would she think that? Is she being good or evil, and why?

That’s enough to get the mental snowball rolling down the hill.

August 2017 is edging close to half done.

Make it a great weekend, with good memories, all right?

Until next time (and week),

Ty

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Motivation Where I Didn’t Expect It…

How’s it going? The weekend’s almost here.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to writing and editing, I also do online gaming (I mean video games, not gambling).

In one of the games that I play online (which I talk about in How One of My Favorite Online Games Taught Me to Be a Better Marketer), your character can examine other characters.

That means you can see their stats (if they don’t have privacy mode enabled), if they’re in a clan, what type of armor and weapons they have, and what-have-ya.

You can also write a personal message for everyone to read. I’ve seen people who have nothing there, or their Discord gamer chat address, and more. But the message I want to talk about is from someone who wrote this:

It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and I’m still learning it. In order to succeed, yes, you can learn from others’ mistakes. And yes, you can have them help you.

But you’ll only really learn to fail and succeed ultimately if you actually DO things.

It’s only been harder for me because I somehow developed this huge loathing of making mistakes. I don’t know if you’re like that–maybe you are. I’m not sure.

That’s why I wrote The Roadblock That Held Me Back Longer Than Anything Else.

The craft of writing and marketing is hard because nobody sees the months and months or years of hard work with nothing to show for it, or mediocre results.

Or all the silence in front of a keyboard when you’re wondering if you should give up.

The big plus on this is that as we practice more and more (and get good direction/mentoring), flopping happens less and less.

It also depends on where you want to go with writing. Some people keep it as a hobby while they do other things. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Others get into it as a career, or only certain parts of it (like fiction, or journalism, copywriting, press releases, and more).

Well, that’s it for now.

Tomorrow is Triple F. Be sure to stop by.

Until next time,

Ty

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Even If You Can’t Pump Out 2,500 Words an Hour, Find Your Own Version of This…

How’s it going? I read an article yesterday (can’t remember which of my Facebook friends shared it) about a romance author who can write 2,500 words…per hour.

Wow.

I know I don’t have that kind of production, for sure (my max when I was churning out fiction for a peanut and a half a long time ago was 15,000 words a week, and that gig didn’t last long).

It’s very easy, especially if writing is part of your business at all, to think that if you don’t zap out 2,500 words in several hours, your work will never amount to much at all.

I don’t want to think that way, and I don’t think you do, either. So let’s do a little something else. There are a lot of different methods/ideas surrounding the concept of productivity.

There are many different paths to take on productivity, and you should find your own.

That’s one take on it.

Another one is quality over quantity which I think tries to treat the idea of productivity as a myth to be avoided.

Another is you shouldn’t wait for the perfect time, because that doesn’t exist, and besides, most people who think like that never get anything done. So you should just force it out, even if you don’t feel like it, and clean it up later.

Or write at the same time every day (as much as possible) in a quiet spot free of distractions.

An interesting technique the article talked about was to just write anything on the page in order to get started, no matter how silly it seemed.

Another one was writing with a timer.

I have used a timer on occasion. Something about it pushes me along. And the write-anything technique is one I like to use, too. I got several good laughs from a story I used that technique on–now I don’t know where to go with the story itself, though, which is a weensy downside to this particular method (unless you write a lot of stories, characters, or what-have-ya with similar backstories and plots).

All right, so the perfect time doesn’t exist, and there’s no reason you can’t churn out garbage if you’re doing it to get ideas, plan to revise it later, and/or no one will see it.

Getting started and cleaning it up is better than never getting started. And I find it’s also easier to continue on after getting started.

Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious, this works for copywriting too (emails, sales letters, and more). Sometimes even more so, because some random free writing about your audience or subject can be turned into headlines or bullets later.

And you have to discover and stick to a schedule that works for you because if you set unrealistic goals, you’re more likely to fail, get discouraged, and eventually give up.

Nobody wants that.

Do you have a fave productivity tip? Drop me a line in the comments.

Until next time,

Ty

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