Book Blogging 101: What Should I Post First?

You’ve got your blog, it’s set up now…what do you post? What should my first post be? What am I going to post on my blog, other than book reviews?

These are all questions we’ve had, at some point in our blogging lives. You’re probably thinking your niche is books, which is mostly accurate, but I’ll list some other niche’s you can dabble in if you want. I’ll also be briefly breaking down the content types, giving you a quick summary of the types, pros and cons.

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Book Blogging 101: The Basics

No matter your niche, there are some basic things, which apply to all blogs. Including: blog name, blog URL, theme, overall appearance and the platform you choose to have your blog on.

This is going to be a brief rundown on the things you should be considering, when making your blog, these points are focused towards people wanting to start a book blog. So, let’s get into the basics.

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Writers Den #4: Creating Characters + look into dialogue

Welcome to my Writers Den series. This series was created by yours truly (Chloe @ Book Dragons) as I wanted to share my tips, tricks and advice on writing. Expect posts offering you advice on everything from outlining to character arcs and then we’ll have posts where we explore writing something purely based off of prompts.

So last week I gave a brief look into characters, plots and why I love tea. Ahem, today it’s all about those characters. So we’ll be building on what was said in last weeks posts about characters. 

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Characters have personalities – if they don’t then either it’s down to the world you’ve created; perhaps something magical has caused this OR you’re struggling with your characters.

Now I still struggle writing characters, and I’ve been writing for 6 years, so it’s not something that get’s easier with time. Your world and characters, are what will make your story succeed or flop. They’re important to get right.

Something that’s actually helped me with my writing is writing fanfiction, I tend to write fanfiction based around bands and then fabricate my own plot line, create my own characters etc. So yes, it’s fanfiction it’s still a lot of me working to create these characters, to make them not fall flat. Which is why we’ll be using fanfiction as our example here for something you can do to practice, if you’re maybe not ready to jump into the process of writing your own story just yet.

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Once upon a time I told myself I’d never write fanfiction or read it…then I fell down the rabbit hole. Honestly fanfiction is super helpful if you want to perfect your writing skills.

The reason is simple.

The world is already built, typically its set in this world like a contemporary novel usually is. You’ve got a set of ‘characters’ who are basically real life people (which can be hard if you want to try your best to portray as realistically as they are in our world) then you have your own characters YOU create.

Now I’ve read a ton of fanfiction about different bands…something that always crops up though is insta love, and they all tend to follow a really similar plot line. It can get boring, particularly if they’re not the best of writers. As well as that it’s something we’ve read before just, different characters, different bands but same sort of plot, you know they’re gonna end up together. It’s predictable but not the good kind. Here’s what I try to do in my own fanfictions.

I create my own set of characters, they all have backstories and you have the main character who tends to get focused on more, but I do weave in the other characters stories. Within a band – a lot of fanfictions will focus on just one member of the band – it’s sometimes like the other band members don’t exist?

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In mine I include them all, I have a plot line, I have back stories, I also try and write in lessons in life. I create characters who go through different things, who’ve experienced different things. I also use it to explore my own writing style, and often I do have dialogue where the female characters talk about sex, dating, periods etc.

Why?

Because it’s important, to me, for people to be able to read something and realise it’s ok to talk about that. It’s nothing to shy away from, it’s also to try and reach out to people and acknowledge them. Yes it’s a fanfiction, doesn’t mean I can’t try to show people that they’re not alone. That people do go through similar things to them.

As a writer, it’s so important to me, for my readers to be able to relate to my characters. There’s several reasons for this.

Firstly if they can relate, you’re halfway there to them enjoying your story if they can see themselves/pieces of themselves in characters they’re more likely to enjoy it and want to continue.

Secondly, there are many voices in this world, many more still who are not heard. As writers we all have voices, no matter how big or small, it’s important we remember that our stories; are a way for people to escape and lose themselves in other people’s problems and lives. BUT it is also a way for teenagers in particular to realise, that it’s ok to talk about things – periods for instance. Or that other people do turn to self harm, have eating disorders it’s important to represent them in stories to give them a voice. 

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The point here is that if you’re struggling with your characters, stop trying for a moment to create this character and just think.

  • What can you relate to?
  • What may other people relate to?
  • What flaws is your character going to have?
  • What secrets do they keep from the readers?
  • What’s their backstory? How did it shape them into who they are now?
  • Does the reader ever find out about their backstory?

The easiest way to create your characters, is to ask yourself these questions along with your own questions. Another thing that’s really important, is their behavior, how they act, react and dialogue.

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Worry not, I’ve actually fallen in love with dialogue over the years, it’s a great tool to keep your story moving quickly, and interjecting descriptions when needed to set the scene etc.

*This is an excerpt of my own work – it’s also fanfiction – if you want to read it then click here to go read it. But please do not copy it*

So below is what the excerpt would look like if you used said all the time, no describing the movements, actions or anything. In a sense what you’ll see below is really basic but it won’t have the same effect dialogue should have.

Mikey POV

Clo nodded and passed a pile of mail to Shan the other pile to Jodie. Then taking what remained she went to Rye.

“Yeah?” Rye said.

Sighing she sat on his lap.

“Not that I’m complaining but why am I your chosen seat?” Rye said.

“You looked sad.” she said.

“I was wondering when this would come,” Clo said holding something.

“What is it?” Shan stared at her.

“A late birthday present for Rye is what.” Clo said.

She passed it to Rye who took it.

“You didn’t need to get me anything.” he said.

“Erm yes I did. You bought me books last year,” Clo said.

“Yeah but-” Rye said.

“Oh my god open it!” Clo said.

 

That was painful for me to edit.

But whilst reading that did you lose interest? Was it really boring, it should have been. The reason why is firstly, ‘said’ was used every time there was dialogue. Said can be used, but I tend to couple it with an action as you’ll see below. Also all the dialogue, was written the same way, speech first then who said it after. You do not need to start every piece of dialogue like that, mix it up, equally do not use the characters name constantly. How I work around that in fanfictions (as there are usually a lot of characters) is I include the action or movement the person who’s going to be speaking is doing, then I put the speech after it.

Below is what I actually wrote.

 

Mikey POV

Clo nodded and passed a pile of mail to Shan the other pile to Jodie. Then taking what remained she went to Rye who looked at her. His legs were still crossed “Yeah?”

Sighing she moved his leg and then sat on his lap leaning into him, Shan smirked at Jodie who returned the smirk. Rye mumbled “Not that I’m complaining but why am I your chosen seat?”

“You looked sad.” she replied flipping through the other letters and parcels, grabbing a parcel she began to open it. Rye resting his head on her shoulder as she did so. Pulling something out I had no clue what it was. Clo lit up though “I was wondering when this would come,”

Shan stared at her “What is it?”

“A late birthday present for Rye is what.” Clo chuckled passing it to Rye who was fighting a smile “You didn’t need to get me anything.”

Clo shifted slightly “Erm yes I did. You bought me books last year,”

Rye looked at her “Yeah but-”

“Oh my god open it!” Clo laughed leaning over for another parcel.

 

 

Was that better? Did it have more of an impact on you? Little movements that your characters do are so important like near the end Clo shifted slightly “Erm yes I did. You bought me books last year,”  can you see how at the beginning I didn’t say how she spoke, or anything, I put what she did instead. She shifted slightly because well she was uneasy as for why I mean…take a wild a guess. That’s why you should mix it up in my opinion, it keeps the reader engaged and it doesn’t make them bored.

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If you’re struggling for what other words to use other than said – I recommend going onto pinterest and searching it. They have a lot of infographics on there for all sorts of things writing related. It’s super useful. In terms of getting your dialogue to flow…that simply comes with time. Because I’m used to writing heavy dialogue, within fanfiction, it’s actually easier for me to write now than descriptions are. That’s not to say I’m terrible at descriptions, I’m just a tad rusty on them.

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Next weeks post is ‘Planning Plots: the twists, turns and pitfalls’ I hope this post has been useful to you and if you click HERE it will take you to the Writers Den page, where I’ll list all published posts and there’ll also be some background information on me as a writer 🙂

Writers Den #3: Characters, Plots and Caffeine

Welcome to my Writers Den series. This series was created by yours truly (Chloe @ Book Dragons) as I wanted to share my tips, tricks and advice on writing. Expect posts offering you advice on everything from outlining to character arcs and then we’ll have posts where we explore writing something purely based off of prompts.

Today we’ll be skimming the surface on characters, plots and the importance of caffeine. I mean…not just caffeine anything drink wise, since drinking and writing go well together haha. (not suggesting you write drunk though, it’d be a hoot to read though)

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Characters

Now as writers, we all read. We all love sitting down with a book and reading, so we’ve come across many characters, at least we should have. This is invaluable to you as a writer, reading books and reading about other characters is a great way to realise what you like in a character and what other people may like, and what you may not like.

The biggest tip for characters I have for you is this: characters need to be believable, they need to seem real.

Yes at the end of the day they’re fiction no one expects a talking dragon to actually be real – it’s great though when it feels like it is. The process to creating believable characters will vary from writer to writer, we’ll all do our own little things to bring our characters to life. Below are some things to keep in mind, when bringing them to life.

Flawed – we love characters who are flawed, so don’t write a ‘perfect’ character because they don’t exist in real life. A character at the end of the day is built up of real people, you take bits and pieces and mold, shape them to your character. At least that’s what I do. If you’re struggling to make your character feel believable try doing this.

  • Get a pen and paper, on one side mind map the characters you found believable.
  • You know the ones you loved, believed in, feared for…wanted to wrap them in bubble wrap because the author is cruel to the poor darling. Now with those characters list out reasons why, you found them believable.
  • Take another page, and do the same only this time for all those character you hated, didn’t believe and found annoying.
  • Done?
  • Great, now compare the two mind maps. Typically you should notice a pattern, the flawed characters whilst at times may be heavily flawed still have redeeming qualities. There’s still that little spark of something in them, that makes us hate to love them. Even when they make awful choices we love them.

The characters we don’t like, if they make an awful choice, we tend to you know. Rant and rage. That’s not down to the choice, it’s down to how the character has been portrayed to us.  

Something I have a ton of fun with is writing dialogue, mainly because it’s watching a conversation unfold in front of you. However we’ll go into dialogue another time. The reason I love dialogue though, it it’s one of the ways to get the reader to fall in love with the character.

Also I’m just a really sarcastic person and there’s always a character who has a lot of snark in them. I love sarcasm and sharp witty characters. But making your reader fall for your character is more than just the dialogue. It’s their actions and reactions, how do they come across to others if you have multiple POV’s?

Side characters also…don’t forget them. They’re equally as important as main characters, it’s just in this story they’re not the main character. Every side character is a main character in their own story. Make sure they get fleshed out too.

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Plots

There are bad plot, good plots and the plots in between. However if you want to get technical about it technically books in a series have their own individual plot, but then they’re also part of the bigger plot. The plot that continues throughout the series.

Now don’t worry, I will be doing a post all about plots but today I’m just to go briefly go over things. If you’re writing a contemporary it’s likely going to be a standalone unless you create a plot that can span into a duology or trilogy. Contemporaries often remain standalones because there’s no need for it to be a series. Everything get said, done and tied neatly up in a bow at the end. In most other genres you’ll get multiple books in a series.

For now I’ll leave you with this example of The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. (I’m sorry if you’ve not read it but this is the best example I could think of).

A Clockwork Angel is the first book – you’re being introduced into this world shown these characters, shown the problem that’s occurred. It’s got a beginning, middle and end. It also acts as the beginning for the actual series. It’s just the beginning of the story so to speak.

A Clockwork Prince, the characters get further developed, the current plot happening get developed and sub plots of romance etc are woven in deeper than the first book. Again it has a beginning, middle and end but for the series it’s very much the middle book. It’s preparing you for the ending, for the grand finale if you will.

A Clockwork Princess, you’ve been on a journey with these characters for two books already. You know them well, and you’re faced with the ending of the series. Where everything that happened in the first two books should come together to make one heart destroying end. It’s got a beginning, middle and end. But it’s acting as the end book for the series.

How that links with the plots is when planning a series, you’re going to need to plan the plot differently. Pace it different as you have more than 1 book to fill with this story. With standalones, the pace should be quicker the plot can’t slow or people will lose interest. You also have to carefully plan it out as EVERYTHING needs to fit into one book.

So quite simply – plan out your main plot points. If you know you’re doing to do a series or you want to write more than one book in this world. You’re going to need to sit down and write what should be acomplished by the end of each book, what shouldn’t the reader know yet as well may be of use to you.

Now don’t panic, plots are tricky beasts, they’re not really tamable to begin with. Time, patience and tons of caffeine should help you though. I will be doing a post in a few weeks time all about plots. So if you’re worried about plot planning, don’t be, just come back in a few weeks and read my post all about plots.

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The caffeine part? Really I’m just in love with tea, it’s great for waking me up. I also tend to write whilst drinking tea. So when you finally get into that writing phase, I’d suggest having a mug of something to drink whilst writing. It gives you a little break of typing, you get liquids in you AND you can recollect your thoughts and power on!

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Next weeks post is ‘Creating Characters + look into dialogue’ I hope this post has been useful to you and if you click HERE it will take you to the Writers Den page, where I’ll list all published posts and there’ll also be some background information on me as a writer 🙂

Writers Den #2: Inspiration

Welcome to my Writers Den series. This series was created by yours truly (Chloe @ Book Dragons) as I wanted to share my tips, tricks and advice on writing. Expect posts offering you advice on everything from outlining to character arcs and then we’ll have posts where we explore writing something purely based off of prompts. 

 

Today I’m going to offer some tips for getting that inspiration you need, after all a story can’t become anything without you, the writer. If you’re not inspired then your story will undoubtedly fall flat. The great thing about inspiration is anything can spark an idea…the bad thing is because of that it can happen at anytime. Usually that idea happens at the most inconvenient moment possible (so much hate honestly *winks*)

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Inspiration can literally strike at any moment. Some of us are rolling in ideas, crying because we don’t know what to pick, whilst others are getting ready to punch anything that moves due to have zero ideas. I’ve had both. Honestly, it really depends on what makes your mind start churning something over in your head for a story. 

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Films and TV

Recently (by recently I mean in March) I watched these films. There were 5 in this series called Mythica and to be quite honest, it had so much potential but it just never reached it. I’m no script writer, but I’m decent in writing stories. They aren’t a total mess anymore. Anyway Mythica is compromised of 5 films following these heroes – it’s also a fantasy series. Since watching them and feeling like the ending was a total cop out and I want a better ending *grumbles* I’ve been toying with these things below.

  • Moonlight/moon powers
  • Elves
  • Dragons
  • Gifted kids 

Now that in its own right is not going to make much sense to anyone. But to me seeing those words remind of the idea I had. Keeping it fresh in my mind. I got the elf idea from Mythica, I’ve always loved the Fae but Elves are new to me. I mean I know of them but I’ve not read a ton of books about them. My point here is, films and TV shows can provide a great source of inspiration. Some of us get inspired through visuals, whether that’s films or pictures or drawings, the visual is what sparks that idea off. 

Others will get inspired through hearing things, or through music. Which brings me to my next point.

 

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Music

Now a lot of you are going to find me crazy but I can’t write in silence. I have to have music on, and usually it has to have lyrics. It distracts part of my brain whilst I write so I can stay focused on what I’m doing. Yet whilst keeping my focused, the lyrics and music is also inspiring the writing and the mood. 

Music is a great source of inspiration even if you can’t listen to it whilst writing, make a playlist that reflects your story or one of your characters. It will allow you to get a better feel for them and how the mood changes. As well as that lyrics can sometimes catch our eye or ear *chuckles* and give us an idea that we toy around with.

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Pinterest

Visuals always help us writers, yes we have a fabulous imagination BUT visuals do help us to picture things a bit clearer. Pinterest will more than likely become your best friend, I mean it depends how you go about planning. Creating a board on there though and finding images that relate to your story and characters can really help you. Particularly if you get stuck part way though outlining/planning you can go back and check to gain some more inspiration and to get a better picture of how you wanted things to look.

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Reading

Pretty obvious right? No writer will get anywhere without doing two things. Reading and writing. The more you read, the more understanding you’ll gain into the structure of books. What works and what doesn’t within different genres. Specifically though what can help, is reading within the genre you want to write. It’s no use reading a ton of contemporary if you want to write paranormal. Last time I checked vampires didn’t rock up to school and sparkle in the sunlight *smirks* (I couldn’t resist I’m sorry haha)

You get the point. Each genre will have its own niche things that it does, some things are universal. Also the more you read, the more ideas you’ll gain for your own story. But remember – don’t copy someone else’s work. We’ll cover plagiarism later on but for now just remember. There’s a difference between taking an idea from a book and totally copying the exact plot line and everything. 

 

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Next weeks post is all about Characters, Plots and Caffeine. *coughs* the last one being the most important of course *winks*. Seriously though – next week I’ll talk you through some of the things I do – when I’m struggling with character building, plot outlining; the different between winging it and planning. I hope this post has been useful to you and if you click HERE it will take you to the Writers Den page, where I’ll list all published posts and there’ll also be some background information on me as a writer 🙂