Current WIP

Formatting for Kindle using Word – part two

 

Okay, so you’ve got everything into a single file and you’re now ready to put it into a format that will be acceptable to Amazon for upload into their Kindle publishing platform. This is not a difficult process, but one that must be done correctly, according to Amazon’s rules. So long as you take each step in turn, you shouldn’t have a problem. It might seem complicated at first, but once you’ve done it a few times, it will be easy. So let’s get started shall we?

The first step is to change the paragraph layout. First, do a global highlight by clicking ctrl + A to highlight the entire document. This will make sure that the changes you’re about to make will be made to the entire file.  To do this, you will be making use of the Paragraph Layout box. In my version of Word, it is located along the top of the page, but yours could be different and you might have to look around to find it. It will be called, Paragraph.

Click on that and another box will open.

Enter the details into the various boxes as in my example above, then click OK. Your file will now have equal margins down either side, with the first line of each paragraph indented, and the lines spaced nicely apart from each other.

The next part only applies to those people who have put a blank line in between two paragraphs, to signify a change of character or scene etc.  If you never do this, skip to the next bit. If, like me, you like the breathing space offered by such a line space, read on.

You will find that your original blank lines have now disappeared, thanks to the global justification you just did, so you will need to refer to your original file when placing the spaces back in again. What you will be doing is putting in a slightly bigger space between two paragraphs to represent the blank line you originally put in. You have two options:

Put the extra space below the paragraph before the space, or above the one after. The choice is yours but it pays to always do it the same way to avoid confusion. I do it below the paragraph before the space, so my screenshots will indicate this. The process is called, Hanging Paragraphs and is a much neater way of putting in the blank lines than simply by hitting enter again.

Highlight the paragraph immediately before where you want the blank space to be, then click on the Paragraph box again.

You will notice that a value of 6 has now been placed in the ‘After’ box, under Spacing. If you are working with the paragraph after the space, put the 6 in the ‘Before’ box. Click OK. You will notice that the two paragraphs move slightly further apart. It looks professional, far more so than simply entering another carriage return.

Now work through the entire file, doing the same thing wherever you want a blank line between two paragraphs. Only use the blank line to indicate a change of scene, a new character’s point of view, a jump in time etc. Less is more.

CHAPTER HEADINGS

Now we move onto to your chapter headings. It is time to move them to the centre.

Highlight your chapter heading and click the Paragraph box. In the very first box, under ‘General,’  change ‘Justified’ to ‘Centred.’

Underneath that, under ‘Indentation, Special,’ change the setting to ‘None’ as in my example above. If you do not remove the ‘first line’ indent setting, your centring will be slightly off to the right.

Work through all your chapter headings the same way. If you end your book with The End, you can do the same there too. You can also do your front matter and end papers, if you want them centred. At least have your title page and dedication centred, if nothing else. What you don’t want centred, leave justified.

INSERT PAGE BREAKS

Go back to the beginning of your file. Remember I told you that a kindle book doesn’t have pages like a physical book does? Well now we have to tell it that our file has some parts that we wish to be treated as separate units, a bit like pages. What you will do is insert a page break at any appropriate point where you wish the Kindle device to treat it as a separate piece of work, aka a page.

Directly beneath your title page, on a new line, go to your Insert option. As in the first pic at the top, mine is along the top of my Word page, but yours may be part of a clickable menu list. When you find Insert, click Page Break. You will see a dotted line appear across the page, beneath your title page, in the centre of which, it should say, ‘page break.’

Do the same after each page of your front matter, your copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements etc. Then do the same at the end of each chapter, before the new chapter heading. Finally, do the same after each page of your end papers, if you have any. You don’t need to put one right at the very end of the file, as it’s the end anyway.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

This is not strictly necessary, but it does give a more professional look and feel to your Kindle book, and readers will like it. I feel it’s worth the effort of putting it in, but it’s up to you. If you don’t want to, skip this bit.

The Table of Contents, or TOC for short, is placed immediately before your first chapter, and is a list of every chapter and page of interest in your book. Here you will list your chapter headings, your About the Author, your Coming Soon, etc. It enables the reader to go anywhere within the Kindle book by way of a simple click, rather than by scrolling through. I have been led to believe that some E-readers put a version of a TOC in automatically, but as with everything connected with my writing, I like to be in control.

The TOC consists of two parts; the list of contents, and the ‘back to top,’ at the end of each separate section. It is relatively straightforward, but there is a lot of highlighting and clicking involved. Before you start, make sure you will not be disturbed for half an hour as to get something wrong here will infuriate your readers. If they want to go to chapter seven, they don’t want to find themselves at chapter ten because you weren’t paying attention.

Place your TOC immediately before your first chapter heading, your Chapter One, after the preceding page break. Title it, Table of Contents, or simply, Contents. Then list your chapters by name, Chapter One, Chapter Two etc. If you have named your chapters, keep them as Chapter One, Two, Three etc in the TOC. After your chapters, list your About the Author and Coming Soon, and any Acknowledgements etc you may have as end papers. Put another page break after it.

Now comes the tedious bit. What you have to do is make each of the entries within your TOC into a clickable link. Those links will then take the readers to the right places within your file. This is achieved by using Bookmarks and Hyperlinks. You start by highlighting your chapter heading. Then click ‘Insert’ and navigate to ‘Bookmark.’

A box will appear, like this:

Before you begin, click ‘Hidden Bookmarks’ and see if anything appears within the box. If so, highlight and delete everything. If not, great. Highlight your chapter heading, then enter the name of the bookmark, in this case, something along the lines of ‘chap1’ will do fine. There should be no spaces within the name. Click ‘Add.’

Navigate to Chapter Two and scroll back to just above the page break and enter, ‘back to top.’

Move to Chapter Two and highlight it. Enter a bookmark, ‘chap2’ or something similar.

Go through the whole file, making sure to enter your ‘back to top’ at the end of each chapter, just above the page breaks. Put them also at the bottom of each of your endpapers. Your endpapers can have bookmarks that tell you what they are, as in my example above. ‘Soon,’ About,’ etc.

At the very end of the file, put another ‘back to top.’

Go back to your TOC.

Highlight the title of your TOC and enter a bookmark ‘refTOC’ or simply ‘TOC’ will do.

Now you will link those bookmarks to your TOC, creating clickable links. Highlight the first entry of your TOC, Chapter One. Navigate to ‘Insert,’ then click ‘Link.’

Clicking Link will produce a further box.

You should see all of your carefully entered bookmarks listed. First, make sure to click ‘Place in this document’ down the left hand side. Scroll to your ‘chap1’ bookmark and click it. Then click OK. You should notice the first entry in your TOC has now turned blue, indicating that it is now a clickable link.

Now work through your TOC, highlighting each entry in turn and linking it with the correct bookmark. When you’ve finished, each entry in your TOC should be blue, indicating they’re all clickable links.

You now need to make the links that allow readers to go back to the beginning of the document. This is where you will make all of those ‘back to top’ entries into links.

Go the end of Chapter One and highlight ‘back to top.’ Open the ‘Link’ box and link it with the bookmark titled, ‘TOC’ or ‘refTOC’ or whatever you called it. When you click ‘OK’ you should see the ‘back to top’ go blue.

Work through the entire file, making all the ‘back to top’ entries into links in the same way.

All that’s left for you to do now is to check each TOC link works properly and takes you to the right place. Once you’re satisfied, you’re done.

 

Congratulations, you’ve just formatted your own Kindle book. Now go to Amazon, upload it, and crow to your friends about how clever you are.

 

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Formatting for Kindle Using Word – part 1

I’ve noticed there are many authors out there who don’t know how to format their own manuscripts. This is a shame as it’s very straightforward as long as you follow the rules step by step and don’t try to ‘be clever’ with it. There are far too many authors paying good money for a service they really don’t need, so this post is for them.

First of all, let’s lay down a few ground rules to get us off on a footing of complete understanding.

1  This is for those wishing to format for Amazon Kindle.

2  This formatting is achieved using Word. I have no knowledge of other word processing systems, so those using anything else, you may find this system either doesn’t work or needs tweaking according to your own system.

3  This is the system for formatting text only books/stories. If you’re including pictures in your work, this is not for you.

There are a few steps you will be working through. They are, front matter, body text, end papers, and tables of contents. We will go through them one at a time and I will try to explain as simply as possible. Feel free to ask questions if I don’t make things clear.

A few notes about Amazon

Amazon has fairly strict rules pertaining to the formatting of its Kindle books and if you fail to adhere to them, it will spit it back at you and close down until you fix it. I have found struggling to correct a mistake in formatting frustrating in the extreme, so it is always preferable to take the time to do it right first time.

A Kindle book is very different from a physical book. It has no separate pages you need to turn and is simply one long document. The Kindle device arranges it into pages to fit its own perameters, you don’t need to do it yourself. For the same reason, you don’t  have to add page numbers, headers, footers, or anything of that nature. Kindle devices allow the user to enlarge the print if they wish and the device will automatically rearrange the size of its ‘pages’ to fit as the user makes their own adjustments.

You can add clickable links within your text so that users can go back to the beginning, or go straight to a particular chapter or place within the book that they wish without having to scroll all the way through. This will be covered when we come to inserting a table of contents.

In regard to links, Amazon does not allow any clickable links that advertise non Amazon web pages or competitors websites. You can, if you wish, add a line saying, “Find me on Facebook” or words to that effect but a direct link might very well have Amazon spitting your work back at you with a frown of disgust.

So let’s get on with it shall we?

Front Matter

This is an umbrella term used to encompass all that stuff you tend to find right at the front of a book. The title page, copyright stuff, dedication, and sometimes, the acknowledgements. With the exception of the title page and copyright page, also known as the verso, the rest is not compulsory. You must have a title page and you should have the copyright stuff.

Body Text

This is the actual chapters of your book, from chapter one through to ‘The End.’

End Papers

End papers are the opposite to the front matter and consist of stuff you often find at the end of a book, and sometimes at the front of a physical book. With a Kindle book, some of the stuff that might usually make up part of the front matter is better as end papers. Readers don’t want to wade through pages of stuff to get to the story, so leave it to the end and give them the choice of continuing to read after ‘The End’ or not. If they enjoyed your story, they might very well explore the end papers with real interest.

I always put the ‘other works by,’ ‘about the author,’ and ‘coming soon’ as end papers. You could put acknowledgements here too, a list of resources perhaps if you wish to show how and where you did your research.

Table of Contents (TOC)

This is a list of chapters, either chapter one/two/three etc, or chapter names if you’ve used them. All your end papers will be on the table of contents too.

Each of the entries on your TOC will take the form of a clickable link which allows users to zip straight to the place of their choice without having to scroll all the way through. At the end of each chapter, and each page you’ve included in your TOC, you will insert another clickable link that takes the reader back to the beginning of the book.

A note on fonts and style

This is one of those areas where simplicity rules supreme. Avoid the temptation to go wild with crazy fonts, cutsie little glyphs between paragraphs,  stylish (?) line breaks, or dropped capitals. A dropped capital is where each chapter begins with the first capital letter blown up huge with the lines of text wrapped around it. Leave that to physical books, and then only in the very highest class of literary work. Anywhere else it just looks naff. Readers will find it annoying and distracting and will think less of you because of this interruption to the flow of the story. Remember, you are trying to please readers so their wishes and desires take precedence over your own.

For the very same reason, keep your font simple and please, I beg of you on bended knee, do not use Comic Sans or Papyrus. I always use Garamond in both Kindle and paperback and not once have I had any complaints. Fancy fonts will make people wonder why you’re trying to distract your readers away from the story and may think it might be because the story is lacking somewhat. Let the story speak for itself, don’t try to entertain with silly fonts.

The same goes for those cutsie little swirls and whorls some folks stick between paragraphs and other illustrative naffiosity. Leave it out, it’s silly and lacks class.

Paragraph breaks

Sometimes, when changing scenes, characters, or points of view, it helps to have a blank line between one paragraph and the next. It helps to let the reader know a subtle change is happening, a different character, a change of scene or time etc. With Kindle manuscripts, simply adding an extra blank line can cause problems with the digital stuff that converts the file into a Kindle book. To avoid this, you use paragraph spacing to add that extra space. It’s called Hanging Paragraphs and I’ll explain the process when we get there.

Chapter headings

It is accepted that your chapter headings; Chapter one, two, three, etc, will be in a slightly larger font size than the body text. Resist the temptation to make them over large, a couple of sizes bigger is all that is necessary. I always bold them too. I usually do my body text in Garamond size 11 and the chapter headings in size 14.

Now we need to actually do all that. First, we put the various bits together into a single document, after which we do the actual formatting.

 

STEP 1 – WRITE FRONT MATTER

You will need the title page, copyright (verso), and dedication if using one. Unlike with a physical book, there is no need to worry about where on the page your text will go.

The first part of your file is the title page and consists of the book title, with author name beneath. Use the biggest font size for the title, I use size 16, and have the author name in the same size as your chapter headings.

Next comes the verso, in which you claim your rights over your work. This is the one I always use.

 

Published by (Name of publisher, yourself if you’re self publishing)

© Merita King (insert year)  all rights reserved

Cover art by (insert name if applicable). Copyright (insert year)

This novel is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.  This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this e-book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.  If you are reading this e-book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return it and purchase your own copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

If you’re in any doubt as to what to say in your verso page, take a look at several other ebooks and see what they say. You can use the above as a starting point and change it to suit as necessary.

The dedication page comes next, if you’re using one. The word Dedication goes on a line by itself, with the names and any explanations underneath.

 

STEP 2 – BODY TEXT

Next comes your chapters. You can do a global cut and paste by using ctrl + A to highlight the entire document, then paste it onto the end, after your dedication, or verso if you’re not using a dedication.

 

STEP 3 – END PAPERS

Now is the time to write your, ‘about the author’ bio, your list of ‘other works by’ and a blurb for your ‘coming soon’ if you have one planned.

Keep your bio short, just a few lines is all that is required. A little about yourself to let readers know you’re a real person will do. Tell them how you love making Yak hair quilts in your spare time,  that you hold the work record for the longest nose hair in the western hemisphere, or that you’re a crazy cat lady with a penchant for strong cheese. Don’t bother to list all your writing credentials, but do start with a line or two explaining why you write in your chosen genre and end with the personal stuff. A small paragraph in total will suffice.

If you have written other works, list them as ‘Other works by (insert your name here). Just include those that you have written and published, not those that may have been published in magazines, e-zines, the parish magazine, or the Women’s Institute Quarterly.

If you have a follow up book planned, or have one already written and awaiting editing, this is where you can give it a plug. Under the title, Coming Soon, write a short blurb for this up coming work. If readers really enjoyed your story, they might look out for the next one if they know one is on the way.

Tack all of this onto the end of your body text and you now have your completed single document ready for formatting proper.

 

In part two – time to do the real formatting work.

Goodreads giveaway – my experience

goodreads

 

Further to this post about my experience using facebook paid ads, I decided to throw caution to the wind and run a giveaway on Goodreads for my last novel, Fetish. This is yet another attempt at raising a little awareness ‘out there’ towards myself as an author and my books.

Goodreads giveaways are free to run, but there are one or two points to remember. First, it’s only for paperbacks. Yep, those of you who publish only in ebook formats can leave the room  now, or why not hop on over here and find something spectacular. For those who, like me, publish in both ebook and paperback, stick around a while. So long as you are prepared to give away an actual, physical book, you can have a Goodreads giveaway. This means purchasing at least one copy of your own book, and then paying to mail it/them to the winner(s). Other than that, there are no additional costs.

Second, it is absolutely forbidden to contact the entrants or winners for any purpose whatsoever. To do so gets you labelled as a spammer. This means you can’t add them to a mailing list, nor even say hello, buy my other other books while you’re waiting to win this one, etc. Many authors are a little trigger happy, so this might be painful for some.

You can choose to give away as many books as you want, or just a single copy, whatever blows your skirt up. I gave away three signed copies. You have control over which countries your giveaway is open to, which I guess is to allow you to control postage costs. Most people go for USA, UK, and Canada, although just about every other country in the world in on the list. Click on as many or as few as you want.

My giveaway ran for a calendar month and in that time, I had 864 entrants. This is amazing when compared to my last attempt at running a facebook giveaway event, which gathered an immense crowd of just two entrants. Some of the other giveaways in the list have thousands of entrants. I suppose it comes down to how well known you are and the genre of the book you are giving away that dictates how many entrants you will attract. That is 864 people who now know I exist and that I write science fiction novels. There is now a chance, albeit slim, that a few might venture to take a look at my books. They might  not, they probably won’t, but there is  now that chance where there was none before.

If the three winners actually read the book and like it, they might buy some of my others, or tell their friends how they enjoyed it, review it even. It is all maybe and what if’s but it’s something, a chance I never had before. It’s a step along the marketing road, a road I seldom travel.

Now for the figures. I had to purchase three copies of my paperback, which cost me £15.24. Postage costs for the 3 books to the winners, all USA residents, was £22.35

This means the entire cost of this promo experiment was £37.59. To get that back I need to sell five paperbacks or twenty ebooks.

The point of this experiment was not entirely to make sales though. What I’m trying to do is build my brand permanently rather than make a quick sales spike that lasts a day then flatlines again. I’m trying to get myself into the public’s awareness, get my books onto their radar, as a permanent fixture and not just a flash in the pan.

With so many marketing and promo opportunities out there that cost a whole wedge of cash, this seems to be one of the cheaper ways to get my books into readers’ hands, even if it is just a couple of raffle winners.

Word of the day – Artifice

Noun

A clever trick or stratagem. A cunning, crafty device or expedient. Wile. Trickery. Guile. Craftiness. Cunning. Ingenuity. Inventiveness. A skillful or artful contrivance or expedient. Subtle deception.

Synonyms

Subterfuge, deceit, deception, duplicity,

No matter what genre you write in, your plot needs some artifice to keep it real and maintain your readers’ interest. This word always makes me think of the antagonist in a story, due to its inferred connection with untruth, but there is no reason why your protagonist can’t use artifice as he makes his way through the story.

Maybe your protagonist needs to use artifice in order to prove a lie and to maintain his position of truth and honesty. A side character might use artifice in such a way as to manipulate the protagonists onto a certain path, whether for good or bad.

Artifice in all its forms, due to its position as part of normal human behaviour, is a necessary part of all fiction. To leave it out would be to take away a certain realism, a feeling of authenticity, from your story.

Check out Artifice on Thesaurus.com

The (not quite) Definitive Guide to Females in Fiction

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So you’re writing a novel? Making a movie? A TV play maybe? Whatever type or genre of fiction you’re creating, the chances are good that you will be including female characters. Women play many roles in works of fiction and their presence is a necessary part of a balanced dynamic within the team of characters. In order to make your work of fiction both entertaining and plausible, your females must play the correct roles in the correct way. Those male writers out there wishing to create the best work possible for their audience, creating believable female characters can be a nightmarish task. Men find women difficult to understand in their real lives, so creating believable fictional ones is an added layer of anguish that they don’t need. Writing any work of fiction is hard work, so anything that can make the process a little easier is welcome, right?

In order to help those male writers negotiate their way through the minefield that is the female, I have drawn up the following Guide to Females in Fiction. I have separated the guide into the following sections:

The pre-teen female.

The teenage female.

The beautiful young female.

The plain young female.

The older female.

The alien female.

This guide is written from the point of view of a male team leader.

The pre-teen female.

The very young female child character will be  streetwise and emotionally strong way beyond her years. She will be clever and show the sort of basic common sense that always tends to evade her older counterparts. As the dominant male, you will probably be her father or her mother’s long time boyfriend. Discipline is not your forte, and she will never obey you when you tell her what to do, but will always do her own thing. This will tend to get you and your team into all sorts of trouble, but she’s a kid and you won’t mind her undisciplined outbursts.

Often, she will be the only one who knows what’s really happening and will have to resort to all sorts of tricks to get the rest of you to realise your new best friend is really a spy, a monster is hiding out a few yards beyond your camp, and that you really can’t trust Sheriff Jones after all. Neither you or your team will believe her, of course, until she single-handedly saves the whole team despite being only seven years and four months old.

Despite loving her Mother, she will be a daddy’s girl and she will view her place as being at your side during your most dangerous adventures. Being streetwise and clever, she will have no problem stowing away in a trunk of equipment to ensure she gets to accompany you on your latest mission. The more emphatically you explain to her that it’s too dangerous for her to come with you, the greater will be her determination to disobey you. Helpful tip – always be sure to thoroughly search all boxes of equipment, and never leave rugs piled in the back seats of vehicles.

If, once you discover your stowaway, you find she’s brought along her pet dog, you will need to be even more on your guard than ever. That dog will run away at the most inconvenient moments, and she will always run after it, even when it’s in no danger and even when she and all of you are in great danger. Yelling at her to stay hidden will do no good. She will dodge bullets and monsters as she follows the little hairy guy, and you will be forced to follow. You and your team may very well suffer injury and loss of life while hunting for the girl and dog, but due to her age and your secret admiration for her self-reliance, you again decide not to discipline her.

The child will, of course, become a captive of your arch enemy. This will force you and your team to divert from the mission in order to rescue her. Once again, you will probably suffer injury and loss of life. Your team is shrinking by the minute. You need not worry about her safety though, her charm and streetwise abilities will ensure she practically rescues herself and/or charms the pants off your arch enemy. The offending dog will help her in this. His sudden new found ability to understand the most complicated of verbal commands will ensure he is able to ensure her escape and incapacitate the bad guys. Having initially wanted to get rid of the dog, you will now begrudgingly accept that he deserves not to go to the pound after all.

As you are no longer with her mother, she will constantly try to find you another girlfriend. She will, of course, easily find the perfect woman for you, whom you will have always failed to spot yourself.

Your team members will never complain about her presence, or the way she keeps fucking up the mission. They will each love her like their own, and she will be on first name terms will all of them. You will trust them all with her implicitly, despite the fact that several of them are time served criminals and all of them have not had so much as a sniff of a woman in weeks.

The teenage female

The teenage female will always be an angst-ridden mess. She will either be a goth or a sex kitten, but whichever guise she adopts, her emotions will bring you and your team nothing but trouble. Her anguish will be a direct result of your treatment of her while she was growing up, combined with her reaction to you having divorced her mother.

Her presence on your adventure will be caused by her mother’s need for time away from her troublesome teen, to go on holiday with her new beau/complete a new contract at work/help her sick father or whatever. Having been dumped on you for the summer, she will resent your presence and regard your mission as a heap of crap.

The teenage female will think the new man in her mother’s life is a jerk, but she won’t tell you that. She will pretend he is the greatest thing since soft toilet paper, just to make you squirm. You will, of course, fall for this badly hidden artifice every time, and the guilt will ensure you do exactly as she wants, thus almost killing your whole team and scuppering your mission. She will refuse to believe your warnings of danger, and will happily put everyone in danger on multiple occasions. Due to your guilt at being a shit father, you continually refuse to discipline her.

She will be permanently plugged into earphones, through which she will listen to heavy metal/punk music to avoid having to listen to you. On occasions, she will spend hours texting her friends on her mobile phone.

If she has adopted the goth guise, she will get herself a criminal boyfriend and have him tag along with you all. You size him up immediately and warn her about him, but she ignores your warnings and indulges him just to annoy you. Pretty soon, he will rob you and try to make off with his ill-gotten gains. The loss of expensive equipment ensures you and the team are trapped in the middle of nowhere and can’t call for help. If you yell at the teenage goth female about this, she will say she hates you and run off after her criminal boyfriend. This will force you to go after her, thereby delaying your mission and causing further danger to all team members. She is your daughter though and going through the hell of her parents’ divorce, so you don’t mind really.

If she adopts the sex kitten guise, she will dress in figure hugging clothes that always expose her midriff and burgeoning cleavage. Your team members, all red blooded males, will never get turned on by her and you will never have cause to worry despite her inappropriate attire around them.

Like her goth counterpart, she will have earphones and the same tuneless music and ever present mobile phone, the latter of which she uses to moan about you to her friends.

She will have a boyfriend but you don’t like him. He will have once been a bit of a lad, but that is all in the past, he’s a nice guy now and only wants the best for her. Despite his continual reassurances, you refuse to trust him and try your best to keep him away from her. You will fail, and when your mission reaches its dangerous climax, it will be he who rescues the situation and helps ensure your survival. Only then do you realise he really does want only the best for your teenage sex kitten daughter, and welcome him onto the team.

As you are divorced from her mother, both of the teenage female types will have unresolved emotional issues with you. This will make itself apparent during your stilted conversations, during which she constantly accuses you of not understanding her, abandoning her, not caring etc. These conversations usually end up with her stomping off in a huff, earplugs in place and Metallica on at max volume. This also applies if her mother is deceased, forcing you into a position of permanent father.

At first, you will deny her claims, and when the conversation reaches the yelling stage,  the sex kitten teenage female will run away with the newly nice guy ex-convict boyfriend. Once she and the boyfriend get into trouble, she will realise she made a huge mistake. The monsters/bad guys with guns/landslide/tornadoes will however, ensure she can’t get back to you. Never mind, the ex-convict, newly nice guy boyfriend will keep her safe. This is usually done shortly before he returns to save your sorry ass.

The teenage female brings with her a lot of emotional baggage. She will claim to hate her mother for dumping her on you. She will claim to hate you for leaving her and her mother. Despite these normal teenage turmoils, her streetwise knowledge and partially remembered science project will be the only thing to ensure your mission’s success.

 

The beautiful female

She wants to come along on your adventure. You don’t want her to, but like the pre-teen female,  she stows away and you don’t find her until it’s too late to send her back. It may be that she’s the only one with enough money to finance it, so you reluctantly agree. She could be a reporter from some backwater newspaper or your nosey neighbour. Whatever her position in life, she wants in and she’ll find a way to get what she wants.

Once firmly ensconced within the team, she causes nothing but trouble. Despite being told to keep quiet, be careful, stay here, don’t touch, listen carefully, she will wake the monsters, get lost, get kidnapped, get trapped inside somewhere, and all manner of other scenarios. All the time she’s doing this, she will believe she’s doing the right thing and not once will she realise that she should’ve just done as you told her and sat down and shut up. You and the team will be forced to waste time and resources searching for her, losing vital equipment or supplies, and getting at least one useful member of the team killed. Despite being a total nuisance to everyone all of the time, you won’t mind because she’s beautiful and you’d like to have sex with her.

She will scream a lot at times when silence really is the best policy. Despite this habit causing the bad guys to find your hideout and/or the monsters to wake up, you won’t mind because you want to have sex with her.

She will fall over when running away from monsters and bad guys.

She will argue with you and denounce your mission as a waste of time, but you still want to have sex with her.

She knows you want to have sex with her, and might use your attraction to her advantage. While you’re having sex with her, another couple of your team members are dying. You mourn them, but ultimately you don’t mind because you hope to have more sex with her.

Your mission might necessitate you venturing into an environment where the average daytime temperature may be forty below zero. There may be mountains to climb or seas to swim across, creatures to wrestle, icy winds that blow down buildings and all manner of other horrors. Despite this, she will wear nothing more than a bra and g string with high-heeled boots and spiky leather wrist cuffs and will never complain of being cold. The acres of exposed flesh will never show so much as a single goose bump. You and your team members wrapped in layers of fur and leather should be in awe of her ability to withstand the cold.

She will never be troubled by the demands of a menstrual cycle, will never need to pee or shit, and will not end up stinking like a camel in a Turkish sauna. Her legs and armpits will remain hair free during the weeks of your mission, her mascara will never run, her facial skin will remain flawless and spot free, and her lips will display a constant rosy blush.

Once your mission is over and her antics have cost you every one of your far more valuable team members, you will marry her.

 

The plain female

The plain female will make up for her lack of looks with knowledge and skills that will help ensure both your mission’s success, and your team’s survival. Not having the burden of being the love interest means she is free to be a contributing member of the team. Her specialist knowledge and skills will do this for her and will more than make up for her lack of beauty.

Her presence will come about by accident. She will ‘stumble upon’ you and the team while in the midst of almost losing your lives and will use her considerable knowledge and/or skills to save your sorry asses.

You will not want to have sex with her and this will enable you to appreciate her skills and quickly realise her potential as a permanent member of your team.

She will know you don’t want to have sex with her and will be content for you to value her for her knowledge and skills.

Her lack of beauty will not bother her, for she has always been more interested in science/martial arts/astronomy anyway.

She will never wear makeup. Her hair will most often be kept short, but if not, then it will always be tied back in a low ponytail or braid.

Despite her lack of beauty and subsequent lack of experience in romance, she will be uncannily wise in matters of the heart and will issue forth pearls of profound wisdom which ensure everyone’s relationships with everyone else thrive.

Her lack of beauty enabled her professor father to indulge her in a superior education of ancient arts and obscure mystical practices, at which she excelled. When he died in mysterious circumstances whilst in the far east, she inherited his journals that furnished her with yet more specialist knowledge.

Her father was spurned by the scientific community because of his weird beliefs and she has suffered by association. This experience gave her personality a hard edge and an ability to endure far beyond that of the beautiful female.

She never speaks about this earlier part of her life and she refuses to discuss the ‘awful things’ she has seen and come into contact with. Despite this reticence, she just happens to be exactly where you need her, when you need her, so that she can translate the artefact/explain quantum physics/reprogram the positronic brain of the artificial intelligence/mix the correct rare herbs/ predict the planetary alignment, which you need in order to succeed.

Once you and your team return from this current adventure, you don’t hesitate to offer the plain woman a central role within your team. She accepts without hesitation because she secretly loves you and knows you won’t survive long without her knowledge and skill.

She knows you don’t want to have sex with her, but she lives in hope.

 

The older female

The middle aged older woman comes in two main forms. The first is an embittered hag. She mourns her lost youth and rails against ageing. She might be financially comfortable, but the money brings her no joy.

She will always wear far too much makeup in an effort to hang on to her lost youth, and will wear clothes more suited to a female half her age.

She will engage in sex with much younger men. She knows they are after her money but indulges them anyway for she knows that she is no longer the younger, more beautiful female. Once they tire of her and leave, she becomes an enraged harpy intent on ruining them for the rest of their lives.

She will fall in love with you and chase you shamelessly. Despite your protestations, she continues to chase you and may grant sexual favours to your team mates in order to gain access to you or information about you that she might use to her advantage.

You don’t want to have sex with her. She knows this and hates it.

She will drink far too much, usually because of some past hurt by a man she used to love who deserted her.

She will have a beautiful daughter with whom you will be in love, but she will not want to let you near the girl. This is because she’s jealous that you don’t fancy her instead of her daughter. If her earlier attempts to gain information about you bore fruit, she will use this in an attempt to convince her daughter that you’re not worth a damn.

If you continue to refuse her advances and pursue her daughter, she may try to thwart your plans or even try to kill you.

The second main type of middle-aged female, is the wilting waif who sobs a lot. The very act of living life terrifies her, and she needs her controlling husband to guide her.

Her controlling husband is often the central bad guy, but she will never believe it of him. After all, he’s always guided her and given her a good life. He can’t help it if she makes him angry sometimes, he works hard and brings in the money.

Her main reaction to problems is to drop into a chair and sob. With constant reassurances, she will dry her eyes and look to you to sort everything out for her.

She is a burden, but she is so nice that no one minds.

You don’t want to have sex with her.

The old, older female also takes two main forms. In one form, she is the landlady, the domestic help, the airplane passenger who comforts the scared beautiful female, the grandparent who spends most of her time reminiscing about her younger years.

The second type of old older female is the wise old crone. The ageing queen of her tribe, she rules with a firm hand and is the sole repository of knowledge of ‘the old ways.’ With her death comes a new age of modernism in the tribe, which often involves some of your team members remaining and marrying fur-bikini-clad maidens.

 

The alien female

The alien female also has different forms, like those of her Earth counterparts.

The alien female child always behaves with impeccable manners. She has an excellent education and is well versed in science before the age of ten years. Her relationship with her parents is one of respect and obedience. She never yells or swears, but can sob if something really terrible happens.

The adult alien female will always have large breasts, which are clad in nothing more than the flimsiest gossamer. She will wear this garment through wars and picnics, in all weathers and in all environments. It will never become inadvertently dislodged, showing a flash of alien nipple for your delectation, despite her having to fight an army of huge ruddy-legged bog-swagglers on a daily basis.

She will happily discuss her species’ sexual practices without embarrassment and will express a scientific interest in yours.

She will naturally know nothing about kissing or Earth style sex, and it is your sworn duty to teach her. You will of course make sure she knows this is an entirely normal way Earth humans greet each other, to ensure she grants you as much time as you feel you need, to ensure she has learned this most vital inter-species communication technique.

She will always fall immediately in love with you. She has been waiting for decades for her planet to be invaded, just so she can meet her ideal man – you.  Not one single male on her entire planet is good enough for her affections. Nope, you’re the one, buddy.

Despite having a far superior intellect, she will allow you to convince her to put her entire civilisation at risk to save you, just because you do that weird kissing thing she finds so amusing.

You may lose team members on her planet, who choose to remain behind with their new wives.

She wants you to stay with her but you realise that Earth needs you more. You have a tearful goodbye, during which you promise to return one day. She believes you and remains unsullied for the rest of her life, not knowing that you were fucking the beautiful Earth female just days later on the journey home.

**********

So there you have it my friends. The (not quite) Definitive Guide to Females in Fiction. I hope you find it helpful and educational. To those men out there writing fiction, know that your female characters will follow in the footsteps of those given life by generations of writers before you.  I leave it up to you to decide whether that would be a good thing or bad.

Word of the day

MUTABLE – liable or subject to change or alteration

This is the perfect word for today. It has been a mutable day. I did have plans, but due to other people’s plans changing, mine had to. I have accomplished today though, just not what I had intended. Instead of a busy day, I’ve had a day relaxing at home and just doing home stuff.

Mutable is a more sophisticated way of saying changeable, but one must be careful when using it in a novel. The type of character who would use this word would be someone with a good education and of a certain class. This word brings to mind mature scientists and scholars, definitely not the type of expression an uneducated redneck might use.

When writing our characters personalities, it is important that their mannerisms, habits, lifestyle, and speech styles reflect their social status. Whilst it is a good thing to try to make your word choice more sophisticated, you need to ensure you do so in the right way to make your characters authentic and believable.

 What kind of a day have you had, and what is the most sophisticated way you can think of to describe it?

How not to get fat

I read this article by Duncan Swallow, which reflects the way I’ve thought for years. Everyone is so quick to blame everything other than their own lack of will power. It’s time to take off the rose tinted glasses and see the truth, however ugly and scary it may be.

nobodysreadingme

An interesting piece of information from the University of Edinburgh. Dr John Menzies from the university’s Centre for Integrative Physiology announced this week that the whole idea of fats and sugars being addictive is nonsense. He said, and I quote, ‘It’s easy to blame food. Certain individuals do have an addiction-like relationship with particular foods. But…(we could make more progress) if we think of this as a behavioural addiction rather than as a substance-based addiction.’ In other words, it’s not foods that are addictive, but the very act of eating. The only foodstuff that is truly addictive is caffeine. Sugars, fats? No. Absolutely not. Nobody exhibits withdrawal symptoms if deprived of sugar or fat. They may get grumpy because they like them, but they are not truly addictive.

This is not good news for those seeking an excuse, is it? Suddenly, the old ‘I’m addicted to food’ get-out-of-jail-free card has…

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4 hours of epic writing music to fuel your muse

 

3 and half days without a cigarette and I’m still alive.  It’s hard work but I’m determined to be disciplined.

I’m delighted to see a few folks finding their way here and following the blog, welcome all of you.  My dashboard isn’t giving me an option to follow back on many of the latest followers, so don’t think I’m being stand offish.  I don’t do the ’email for updates’ thing because I already get a ton of emails daily, most of which are spam, and try to avoid adding to the load.