Tag: writing resources

Structure of a Series, Part 1

Structure of a Series, Part 1

Since we’ve been talking about the structure of individual novels this month, and I mentioned the way act three of a book can tie into writing a series, it’s time I look at what it means to write a series and how we can use the three act structure and the Beat Sheet. In order to do this, I’m going to be drawing examples from Avatar: the Last Airbender (AtLA) because, frankly, it’s a masterpiece of storytelling. If you haven’t seen the series, you may still be able to follow my analysis and can use the Wikipedia summary of the events of the episodes to help you follow it.

Now, when you are writing a series, you’ll have each book’s plot and then you’ll have the overarcing plot, also called the “metaplot” as previously referenced. In series like Nancy Drew and Murder She Wrote, there isn’t a metaplot, and each book is a stand-alone tied to the others only by the occasional reference and the same main characters. I’m not writing this for that kind of book series, so if you’re not using a metaplot (and you aren’t required to), this blog isn’t for you.

Now, when you are writing a series, you’ll have each book’s plot and then you’ll have the overarcing plot, also called the “metaplot” as previously referenced.

E. Prybylski

As I said two weeks ago in my second act blog, the second act is typically half the story, which means that the third season of Avatar: the Last isn’t actually the third act of the story. In fact, act two continues well into the third season of the show, as we’ll discuss in the next segment.

Much the same as each book, you’ll have the three act structure and, personally, I use the Beat Sheet for planning out my meta plot as well because the beats work in roughly the same way, though you may have multiple books in a single beat of the story (just as you may have multiple episodes of a television show in a single beat of the metaplot). However, this is one of the reasons the trilogy format is so effective. Three acts, three books/movies/video games etc. It makes the whole thing somewhat easier in terms of structuring the meta (even if this is done unintentionally by the author) and tends to make sense to the reader.

While I acknowledge the existence of the five act structure and other act structures, I tend to default to the three act model because it’s what I know best and what I use personally. However, none of these models are “wrong” exactly. They just break down the story in different ways even if they are more or less all saying the same things.

So, on to Avatar the Last Airbender! Let’s do a “quick” zoom through the episodes that fit the beats in the story and where they are. There are twenty episodes in the first season of AtLA with some episodes covering multiple beats in the meta plot, and each episode itself more or less following the Beat Sheet. If you haven’t seen AtLA, I apologize that this may be a poor analogy for you, but it’s a series I know very well and is extremely popular. Besides, I’ve been using nothing but Star Wars and Dresden Files examples for awhile now, so it’s time to shake it up. Also, spoilers, I guess? Though the show’s been out long enough that “spoiling” it is unlikely.

Right now, I’m focusing only on the way the Beat Sheet covers all of season one. The next blog will cover how all three seasons fit into the Beat Sheet since each season has its own metaplot that ties into the overall story of Aang defeating Fire Lord Ozai. That’s right, this series has meta nested within meta, and we’re going there. It’s okay–it’s not as scary as it sounds, I promise.

Opening Image: Katara and Sokka are introduced as Water Tribe (after the opening intro that gives us a status of the world and an introduction to Fire Nation aggression). [Ep 1: The Boy in the Iceburg]

Set Up: Katara and Sokka find Aang frozen in an iceburg and wake him up, discovering that he is the long-lost Avatar. They wrestle with this and bring him back to their village where Katara and Aang adventure onto a Fire Nation ship, alerting the Fire Nation to someone being active there and drawing the attention of Zuko, who is introduced as the villain. [Ep 1: The Boy in the Iceburg]

Theme Stated: After alerting the Fire Nation to Aang’s presence, Zuko and the Fire Nation attack, causing Aang to be kicked out of the Southern Water Tribe village. Katara and Sokka join him, refusing to let him go alone. They then start the journey to the Northern Water Tribe to learn Waterbending. [Ep 2: The Avatar Returns] The theme of this season is more or less Aang learning about the changes in the world since he was trapped in the ice a hundred years ago. It also introduces the theme of the entire series which is Aang’s avoidance of his destiny as the Avatar and desire to just be the twelve-year-old kid he is.

Catalyst: Aang, on the way to the Northern Water Tribe decides to detour to visit his home in the Southern Air temple. Though he discovers it has been ravaged by war, and that his mentor, Monk Gyatso, was slain by Fire Nation forces. [Ep 3: The Southern Air Temple]

Debate: This realization causes him to start taking his role as Avatar seriously as he realizes that running from his responsibility the way he has caused a huge amount of strife in the world and, personally, for him. In this episode, we also see the introduction of Zuko’s story and what his motivations are. [Ep 3: The Southern Air Temple]

Break Into Two: Now we hit the main meat of the story as we start with the main characters spending their time on their journey learning from other people. Aang has decided he is going to be the Avatar and will not stand for further Fire Nation attacks, so begins to treat this with more seriousness. Sort of. He still acts like a child, but that’s because he is one. Aang meets the Kyoshi Warriors and basks a little in the hero’s reception he receives on Kyoshi Island. Sokka and Katara get some development through here, too. Namely Sokka discovering that “fighting like a girl” is far more badass than he’d given it credit for. [Ep 4: The Warriors of Kyoshi]

B Story: In addition, this is where we start to see Aang trying very, very hard to impress Katara. His interest in her and their relationship developing becomes a strong theme of the story, so we have the first blossoms of romantic interest appearing on screen here. [Ep 4: The Warriors of Kyoshi]

Unagi | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Also, don’t ride the unagi. Not fun.

The Promise of the Premise: The next two episodes fall into this space. (See? More than one in a beat!) We have episode five, The King of Omashu where the team meets with Aang’s highly eccentric friend, King Bumi, who he asks to teach him Earthbending. Bumi refuses, but not before a bunch of hijinks designed to make Aang rethink what he believes and knows about the world and himself.

Then episode six, Imprisoned drives more toward the development of the kids as revolutionaries as the kids break an entire town’s worth of earthbenders out of a jail by inspiring hope in them. Interestingly, Aang only plays a secondary role in this episode, and Katara takes center stage as the inspirational character. She more or less takes this role through the series as the steady, certain leader of the group even though she isn’t the “main character” of the series. However, this strongly establishes her role in the story and in the main character pool.

Midpoint: Now, remember when I said in my blog about the second act that the midpoint is the height of tension? Here we are at it. The midpoint of this season hits with a two-part episode (which is one of the ways you can tell it’s the midpoint). During this two-parter [Ep 7, The Spirit World (Winter Solstice, Part 1) and Ep 8, Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice, Pt 2)] we learn more about the Avatar’s ability to commune with spirits and see him interact with the spirit of Avatar Roku who reveals to Aang that they need to go to a specific location at a specific time to get information about the overall story. In the second part of Winter Solstice, they arrive at their destination and gain the information they need, learning that the Fire Nation plans to use the power of a comet’s coming to fuel their final assault in the war they’ve been waging against the entirety of the world. This now puts the characters on a timeline they weren’t on before, and they start to feel the pressure, realizing they need Aang to master three styles of bending (which typically takes years of training) and stop the Fire Nation’s plans in a matter of a few short months. This is the peak of tension for the characters when they realize what’s at stake and how little time they have to pull off the impossible.

You also may notice that out of twenty episodes, the midpoint isn’t exactly in the middle of the story, but it’s pretty close (two episodes away). As from our talk about the second act, this is common. It doesn’t need to be bang on the center of the word count (or episode count) in this case, but it does need to be in the center of the tension.

Bad Guys Close In: Over the course of the next several episodes, the main characters start to feel the squeeze, and it takes a toll on their friendship. Infighting becomes more common until it reaches a peak in episode 11, The Great Divide. Through this, Zuko gets closer and closer, and they can feel his breath down their necks as they try to navigate their own responses to this tension with Katara stealing a waterbending scroll [Ep 9, The Water Bending Scroll], which ignites jealousy in her over Aang’s ability to learn bending at an unheard of rate (hanks to him being the Avatar, of course). Then she and Aang get taken in by a group of rebels of questionable morality which pits she and Aang against Sokka who doesn’t trust them for a minute [Ep 10, Jet].

This leaves Aang sort of in the middle without anyone, which is displayed with clarity through his experience trying to guide two warring tribes of Earth Kingdom people through a canyon where their fighting causes major problems. Aang, at this point, feels extremely alone, and this is displayed by his being separated from both groups through the whole experience and trying to manage both by being rejected by everyone. It is a reflection of his role as the Avatar and his desire for peace between Sokka and Katara who, after the events of Jet, are busy fighting each other and not the actual enemy. [Ep 11, The Great Divide]

All Is Lost: While there is a break in episode 14, the tension continues to mount through this segment of episodes. Through this part of the show, Aang wrestles with the enormity of what he has to do and is somewhat crushed by it. This kind of reaches a peak when a literal and metaphorical storm cause Aang to relive the moment when he chose to abandon being the Avatar [Ep 12, The Storm], and he has to confront the fact that his choices and abdication of responsibility contributed to everything that has happened in the world. Also, his continued conflict and desire to bridge the gap and find some way to heal the situation before taking the step of direct and open conflict is violently rebuffed despite hints of the possiblity of peace. [Ep 13: The Blue Spirit]

There’s a break in this bleak sort of outlook for an episode where Aang and the others save a village from destruction by a volcano (caused by their own unwillingness to see the signs and reliance on fortune telling), but it comes to a head shortly thereafter. [Ep 14: The Fortuneteller]

Dark Night of the Soul: There is a telling moment when the main group splits up for an episode due to Aang’s fears of abandonment overcoming good judgement, and he chooses to hide a message from Katara and Sokka’s father that he is both alive and misses them. [Ep 14: Bato of the Water Tribe]. While they don’t stay apart for more than half an episode here, this moment is very telling and is probably the bleakest point in the first season. The sense of loss is potent, and Aang struggles to face the repercussions of his actions even as they close in on the end of the time period alotted before the arrival of the comet. Also, at this point, Aang has still mastered none of the three other forms of bending he fears he will need before the comet’s arrival.

This is given a little bit of a breather when Aang begins training under a firebending master who starts him down the path, but Aang’s own impatience and fear drives him to try too much, too quickly, and he seriously injures Katara. While Katara discovers the ability to heal herself very shortly thereafter, this realization of this own distructive capacity hurts Aang to the core of his peaceful, airbender soul, and he eschews ever working with fire again. [Ep 16, The Deserter]

Aang’s negative, selfish, and angry attitude continues into the next episode where he is confronted by a group of refugees living in one of the Air Nomad temples. They have transformed it and the man in charge of this group is (even unwillingly) designing weaponry for the Fire Nation to wage war. Sokka’s ability with both tactics and inventing is unveiled here as he comes into his own in this episode and helps the leader of the group drive off the Fire Nation soldiers who have been threatening him. However, this does give them a brief taste of the way the mechanist’s inventions are being used in the form of steampunk-style air balloons that can drop payloads on targets. [Ep 17: The Northern Air Temple]

Break Into Three: The arrival of the kids at the Northern Water Tribe’s fortress heralds the closing of this season (since it completes the journey begun in episode two). Aang finally starts full instruction of waterbending under a master and fights to have Katara allowed to study as well, since the Northern Water Tribe is a distinctly patriarchal society. Something Katara chafes at since she comes from a very different background and resents not being allowed to use her waterbending for anything but support.

While this training is underway, Sokka meets Princess Yue, the ruler’s daughter, and falls hard for her though soon learns she is engaged (against her wishes) and is left with those feelings as the comet’s due date closes in.

Finale: Again indicated by a two-part episode, the finale of the season comes when the Fire Nation launches its attack on the Northern Water Tribe using the power of Sozin’s Comet. Aang and his compatriots fight back against this menace. During this conflict, it’s revealed the Uncle Iroh (admittedly my favorite character of the series), Zuko’s mentor and travel companion, is not as loyal to the Fire Nation as might be imagined by others. He, in fact, is willing to stand up against them in order to try and protect the balance of the world since unlike many of the others in the Fire Nation, he has a deep understanding of spiritual affairs and knows that the balance being destroyed by this conflict is something that cannot be restored.

Zuko fails to fight and win against Aang, despite his best efforts, and he flees in disgrace, and the Fire Nation assault on the Northern Water Tribe fails despite heavy losses on both sides.

Final Image: In contrast to the opening of Katara and Sokka being nothing more than average kids surviving in their world and Aang avoiding his responsibilities, we see Aang having faced the Fire Nation with a great deal of power and focus. He’s successfully defended an entire city and thwarted the attempt, giving hints of what kind of feats he will be capable of as a fully realized Avatar. Which is what he becomes at the end of the series. So in terms of the meta structure of the whole series, this is the end of Act One with Aang having faced the question of whether or not he’s really going to do this, and dealt with his world having been rocked to its core.

Let’s pause and chew on that for a second.

Uncle Iroh at his best.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, I applaud you. This has been a haul. But this is a breakdown of a whole season and the meta of the season. Each individual episode also follows the Beat Sheet separately, and I could do this kind of analysis on every single episode of the show. The reason I did it is because this shows how each episode fits into the Beat Sheet individually. If you consider each episode to be a single book in your series, it demonstrates how you can use each story to fit into the broader structure of your metaplot while still having each book (episode) use the three act structure independently. Every episode of the show has a problem that has to be solved and deals with patterns of rising and falling action, and at the end of the episode, the world is a little different, and the characters have learned something new or grown somehow. Then each of those episodes fits into the broader scheme of the story in the manner I demonstrated above.

It also demonstrates how much of an Avatar: the Last Airbender nerd I am. So now you know that about me.

Next week we’re going to take this even further and evaluate how each season (I’m not doing this level of breakdown on the other two seasons, don’t worry) fits into the story of the entire show. Meta on meta. Plus more Avatar goodness.

20 Top Writing Productivity Tips

20 Top Writing Productivity Tips

You get a bonus blog this month! Congratulations! Thanks to my writing group (if you’re interested in joining us, shoot me an email, tweet, or message my Facebook page) for this question and the idea storm that followed it. There are a million places online with writing productivity tips of varying qualities and from various experts. So, to launch myself onto that bandwagon with all the abandon of a toddler in a candy store, here’s mine.

  1. Schedule your writing time.
    Obviously, this will be more possible for some folks than others. But if you set aside time and mental space for your writing and make it a habit (just like doing the laundry on Thursdays), you’ll find you can get a lot more done. There are a few tips about this specific thing on the list, so we’ll dig into this more soon.
  2. Build a routine.
    Going along with the first one, building a routine around your writing can help trick your brain into settling into it being time to do the thing (“Zhu Li, do the thing!”). This might be having a specific drink with you when you write, opening your programs in a specific order, or doing it at a specific time of day. Whatever your routine is, think about one that may work for you.
  3. Figure out your peak hours.
    We all have peak hours where we are most productive during the day, and these hours vary for everyone. For example, I’m an insomniac. My peak hours are between 10pm and 2am, which is why I do my best and hardest work during that time. It’s just when my brain works best. (That’s common with a lot of ADHD folks, by the way!) So see if you can suss out your peak hours and schedule your writing time in there.
  4. Don’t multitask while writing!
    We all know how this goes: you sit down to write and then wonder about a specific point of order and end up three hours later drowning in TV Tropes or Wikipedia articles, wondering where your writing time went. If you need to do serious research, don’t do it during the time you’re trying to write! If you are going to sacrifice your writing time to research, do it intentionally–that’s all right. But make sure you aren’t getting sidetracked.
  5. Turn off notifications.
    When you’re writing, you should turn off notifications on your phone and other places. Nothing is more distracting than the Facebook Messenger “PING!” and the knowledge that someone is waiting for me to reply. Or that someone’s Tweeted to me. While it may be my ADHD talking, this kind of thing can pull me out of my zone so fast my head spins, and I am sure I’m not alone.
  6. Use a timer!
    While I set myself a word count goal, not a time goal, you may find it helpful to set a timer for yourself while you’re writing. There are many different methods of doing it, but setting your timer means you won’t have to check the clock to know if it’s been your allotted time (and checking the clock is a distraction). You can also set a timer for your yourself to do “sprints” of ten to fifteen minutes (or however long you prefer) and then take 3-5 minute breaks where you can do whatever you want during that time (time those, too).
  7. Tell the people around you.
    While this is almost impossible with young children, telling the people around you that your writing time is sacrosanct and must be respected (and making sure they know when it is) can help prevent your partner walking into the room asking if you’ve seen this latest meme. They don’t mean to drag you out of your writing headspace, but it does it just the same. Setting these boundaries can help prevent you from doing all the work of setting up your time and space to write and then have everyone in the world try talking to you at once.
  8. Use music and ambiences to drown out distracting sound.
    Music can be a fantastic tool for setting your mood (I tend to use movie scores or other wordless pieces), but it serves a dual purpose of also cutting out distracting noises. Ambiences, too, can serve similar purpose. For maximum ear pleasure, combine the two! (I often have a rain ambience going while I write.) This method works best with headphones (noise-canceling if you have ’em), but even speakers will help.
  9. Set yourself up a physical location for the task.
    I write at my desktop PC because it is where I am the most comfortable, and it has my ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I do many other things at my desktop PC as well (editing, internet browsing, Netflix, video games, chatting with friends. . .) so when it comes time to write I create the physical space by hiding all my desktop icons (I use Fences for that) and closing all windows not related to my writing. I then lay my Rocketbook notebook on the main surface above my keyboard so I can take quick notes or reference notes I’ve taken. Whatever your workspace looks like, create room for your writing.
  10. Tidy your work space if you find disorder distracting.
    My space is a catastrophe, and I accept that reality. I have EDS braces, my arthritis gloves, medication containers, D&D dice, crochet things, snacks, and notebooks everywhere. This doesn’t bother me, but for some people, they cannot focus if things aren’t clean around them. While I can function in this somewhat organized chaos (I need to be able to reach my medical stuff at any given time), I have noticed it’s easier whene my space has at least a little bit of an open feel to it, and I know where everything is. You may find this is true for you.
  11. If you are stuck, try writing somewhere new.
    While this is difficult during the pandemic, I have found that leaving home and writing at a coffee shop or at the library can be a game-changer for my focus. Even if all you do is move your laptop to another room of your apartment or take it out onto your balcony (or backyard), you may find that changing up where you’re sitting can help stir creativity.
  12. Create reasonable goals for yourself for every session.
    For me, my goals are to write approximately 1k words every time I put my butt in my seat to write. If I can’t do it, I can’t do it. That’s okay. But that’s my goal. Yours might look like writing for an hour, or writing 500 words. Whatever your goals look like, try and set ones that are managable and reasonable for you.
  13. Outline your book so you don’t get stuck in the middle.
    While you can argue all day about plotters vs. pantsers, having an outline helps with productivity because you already know where your next point is and have a road map if you find yourself getting bogged down. It’s not a panacea for writing woes or blocks, but it can be a huge help to know what your next goal is. The second act is typically the hardest for writers, and having a plan of attack for it can help prevent you from ending up stumped.
  14. Do not edit while you are writing!
    This is the worst. Don’t start rewriting while you’re on your first draft. If you edit while you’re writing, you’ll never get anywhere, and you’ll end up frustrated and never go forward. It destroys your momentum and your confidence. I don’t mean to say don’t fix a typo if you write “from” instead of “form,” but typos aside, if you want to rework a scene, just make a note of it and write forward. You can’t edit a blank page, and you will never publish your book if you don’t finish it. Accept the bumps, warts, and awfulness of your first draft and know it can be fixed in editing.
  15. Have a system of accountability.
    Whether you have a single friend who you are relying on or a writing group you’re working with or you just post your word counts on Twitter in the #writing community, knowing there are people waiting for your next chapter can help you keep moving forward. For some people this may create unhelpful anxiety, but for others (like me) it can provide a kick in the pants we need.
  16. Write out your project goals and timeline.
    This might mean you want to finish your book this year or maybe write 10k words this month. Either way, give yourself a broad scope plan. For example, I would like to have the first draft of my upcoming urban fantasy novel “Fallen” finished by December. It’s realistic because I’m making good progress on it, even if it’s slow. But with this being August I have plenty of time. Once it’s done, I’m going to finish rewrites on my high fantasy novel and start querying publishers and agents with it next year.
  17. Do not wait for “inspiration.”
    Waiting for inspiration is a lie we tell ourselves. If you sit around waiting for it to strike, you’re giving up control and accountability, and you’re deflecting your responsibility to yourself. Much like those people who sit around bemoaning their lack of “talent” for something they want to do, you are setting yourself up for failure. Writing (and other arts) require practice, training, and hard work. They also require discipline. Without those things, you will get nowhere and accomplish nothing. Sure, there are things you wish you could do that you physically might not be able to. So if you CANNOT do a thing, it’s okay to mourn that loss. But don’t blame “talent” or “inspiration.”

    Realistically, there are times in your life where you can’t write. It’s okay to have dry spells where life has taken too much out of you, and you can’t scrape your brain cells together to get a spark. That’s all right. However, it’s not inspiration you’re waiting for–it’s for your mental or physical health to recover. Take your time, heal, and be kind to yourself.
  18. Set hours for focusing on marketing.
    I know, I know, it’s the dreaded “M-word.” I don’t like it any more than you do. But setting hours for your official social media engagement will have the effect that you both get more done and get it off your bandwidth. There are also people out there who will either do all of the social media or none of it. If I don’t structure my professional social media time, I’ll never get it done. Which is why I have a blog schedule that I write out in advance and schedule tweets and such.
  19. Exercise and take breaks.
    These last two tips are not me trying to get you to get swole. But going for a walk (or, if you can’t, doing some form of exercise even if it’s just dancing to music in your room) can help your brain release hormones and chemicals that will make you more productive and more functional. No joke. It is science. I’m disabled, so I get that sometimes it’s just not in the cards. But even getting up out of your chair and going for a walk around your house (or pacing while you think up your next plog point) can have real benefits.

    So can taking breaks. If you’re really stuck on a project, put it down and pick up another if you need to. Don’t quit your routine, but maybe take a break from the manuscript that is making you want to chew nails. It is also science.
  20. Eat healthily.
    No, I am not trying to convince you to eat an all-kale diet and lose fifty pounds. However, at minimum, do your best to get all your calories in and meet your macro-nutrient requirements (fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins etc.). If you are not eating enough or not getting the right nutrition for your body, your brain will not work efficiently. Brain fog can set in real quick if your blood sugar is low.

    Every body is different, and you should work with your doctor or dietician if you have issues with your diet. If you cannot afford either of those things (no judgement), there are many places online where you can put in your age, gender, weight, and height to get an idea of how many calories you should have and what macros you need. So long as you are eating enough and have your macros met, that should help your brain function. If you are not eating enough or getting the correct nutrition, it can cause a whole range of problems for the brain.

    Do not mistake me, I am not talking about weight loss. I am talking about getting enough. Your weight and your body are your business, not mine. But I can say from intimate personal experience that not getting sufficient calories and nutrients will crater your ability to think, function, and (most importantly here) write.

These are my writing tips for helping you power through that “blah” spell and into a more structured, creative space. Do you have any others? Did I miss anything? Please feel free to add things below! I am always looking for new methods to help kick my own butt into the chair.

The Importance of Social Media

The Importance of Social Media

Social media has revolutionized how we relate to each other as a culture and a society. I can share my thoughts, impressions, feelings, and silly photos with the entire world if I want to. Not that the entire world cares, but I can, which is unprecedented. I’m thirty, so I’m old enough to remember the dawn of internet usage as a home application (and I have the stacks of old AOL disks to prove it), and I remember joining Facebook sometime during college. Now I think I talk more to my friends on Facebook than I do face-to-face. Now, I’m not here to complain about social media’s presence in our lives, but I want to talk about how writers and professionals need to view social media.

Most of us have heard people say, “I’ll post what I want. It’s my wall.” They are correct on that score. Far be it from me to censor folks, but there are certain things we need to be aware of before we pound away at our keyboards.

Your writing is being judged.
As writers, we know the importance of language. If you don’t, then perhaps you should think about that a little longer. Our first customers when we release a new book are often our friends and family who wish to encourage us and see us succeed. It’s not a dirty thing to think or say, either. However, if your usual posts on social media more closely resemble a teenager’s texting habits then you are going to put them off. They might buy the book because they love you, but they won’t be expecting good writing.

This also goes for posts in groups. I don’t care if you are writing from your phone, if you are posting with impossibly lazy grammar or, worse, using netspeak, it closes the door. I lose interest in what you have to say because that shows that you are not willing to put effort into communication which makes me think your writing will reflect that attitude.

Most people won’t care about a few misplaced commas or typos when communicating on social media. I know I sure don’t. My blogs have them, too, because I don’t hire a copyeditor to go over all of them before posting, and I usually am writing out my thoughts rather than trying to polish articles. However, I make an effort to write using good grammar and punctuation because it suggests that I put my money where my mouth is.

Your content is being judged.
As much as your social media pages are your place to express yourself, you need to consider how you are using them. If you are using a fan page to communicate with potential readers and clients, then what you post on your personal page (assuming you use proper privacy settings) isn’t as much of a concern. However, if you use your personal page to communicate with clients, other authors, and readers, you will want to take into account how much of your personal life you want to reveal, what type of content you want to share with your network.

For example, I don’t post a great deal about politics or religion on my page because I don’t want to invite argument, and I don’t want to upset my friends and network. Now, that is a personal choice and not a business requirement. I don’t hide my personal views, but at the same time I try to not bring up topics on Facebook that I wouldn’t at a cocktail party for the most part. I also try to avoid cursing on my page because, again, it’s poor manners in a business setting.

Different rules apply to different types of writers, too. If you write erotica and people are shocked that you write about sex on your Facebook page then they aren’t your target audience anyway. Unless it’s your Aunt Thelma and her little dog. In which case you should apologize before going to Christmas dinner. However, the general rule of thumb is that you should really consider what you post rather than just “like” and “share” whatever amuses you.

Your attitude and personality are being judged.
Even if your posts are mild in content and well written, if all you post about is how miserable or angry you are, or how jealous, or how biased you are, that will affect other people’s perceptions of you. Again, this is your decision, and if you are using your personal Facebook account for personal communication then it’s less of a concern. However, the more a public figure you become, the more of an issue this is.

If you look at recent scandals involving celebrities how many of them involve social media posts? Of course, it’s most often referring to Twitter, but the rest of social media matters as well. The days of authors being islands unto themselves and locking themselves in cabins to only deliver manuscripts to their editors and otherwise being hermits is pretty much over. In today’s world we have to connect with our readers. That means being viewed as likable or at the very least interesting and eclectic. While this puts a strain on us and our communication, it’s an aspect we need to consider when we post to our network.

So where does that leave us?
Well, with any luck, we know how to be polite to people. While being “interesting” is a difficult shoe to fill, we can find ways to do that, too. We need to post what our readers and network would find useful and entertaining. We need to think before we hit “share”. If this sounds daunting it’s only because it is. Most writers, in my experience, are introverts who prefer the company of their pets, Netflix, and perhaps significant others. Interacting with people is tough, and we often see it as cutting into our writing or daydreaming time.

While I’m not going to give a full lesson here on social media marketing, I will say that a good percentage of it is being authentic without being rude, being funny without being crass, and being relatable without being whiny. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.