One way to enhance your writing is through symbolism. Colors, animals, elements, and weather can all be used in symbolic ways to add a deeper meaning to your words. Examples of this could be an approaching storm as the conflict builds, the sun setting red to show coming death and war, spotting a dove to show feelings of peace and hope, rain falling to show life/rebirth and cleansing, a serpent representing an evil house.

dog resting in front of window

In high school, we are taught to find symbolism and understand it. Yes, I’ve seen the “the curtains are blue” meme. You can take that stance if you so wish. But know that your English teacher thinks that the curtains being blue means something because the author of the book probably said that they did and that several hundred writers, critics, and literary experts have agreed on it.

Symbolism is one of those things that can take your writing from mediocre to grand, from enjoyable to meaningful, and from stagnant to moving.

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Let me show you about telling.

There are a million articles and blog posts on showing, not telling. For real. Google it. It’s great advice. It’s one of those things that a lot of new authors don’t really see until it’s pointed out to them. Something some authors who’ve been at it a while now need a reminder of. Show us, don’t tell us.

Telling is important in children’s books. Think of the board book where you read that Simon is mad! accompanied by an artistic rendering of a clearly angry Simon. This level of reading is teaching kids to associate words with what they see. Oh! That’s what mad looks like. I get it now! These drawings carry more weight than the simplistic words.

As readers get older, it flips. We see more artistic illustrations that give our mind a launching point for our imagination while the words direct what we see in our mind’s eye. The information the reader needs comes from the text more than the art. While it is still a lot of telling, the words do more to show as well. This is where kids learn to pick up on subtlety. They still need a lot of information, but they can fill in more of the blanks on their own. Simon was pretty upset at how things were turning out.

When young readers are teens, reading helps them understand their world. One of the skills they pick up during these reading years is how to read between the lines. Picking up on tension and tone. Getting cues and understanding what’s really going on. So we show them. And then when they’ve had a chance to figure it out, we confirm by telling. Simon stomped across his room and threw himself on his bed, glaring at the wall. He was not okay with this.

Now we come to adult fiction. Show, don’t tell is a mantra you’ve heard. But as you’ve seen above, telling has a place. Is there room for telling in adult fiction, though? I think so. But when, you ask. When is it okay? Let me show you.

Sometimes you just need to get to the point. Simon being mad isn’t always the point. If we all already know what a mad Simon looks and sounds like, then we can just tell the reader Simon was mad again. Shocker. Then you can get to the point of the scene.
Sometimes you need a quick review of what’s happened. Please don’t show us all over again.
Sometimes what’s going on isn’t really that important. If Simon is a side character, the fewer words spent on him, the better. Simon was pissed, but who cared?
And sometimes, just spitting it out brings things into focus for readers. If it’s a big deal, we want readers to know upfront. Simon was furious ought to get their attention and set the tone for what’s next.

Show, don’t Tell is one of those rules that you should really spend time learning. Once you’ve got a solid understanding, you can make better decisions on when to break that rule!

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Deciding on KU vs wide

New to the world of publishing? One of the questions you’ll need to answer is if you plan to publish exclusively to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited or if you want to go wide and publish across multiple platforms.

What’s the difference? Why does it matter? Well, there’s a lot to consider, but most of it boils down to the reader you’re trying to reach. While there is some overlap, for the most part, readers either spend their dollars on a once a month subscription or on purchasing books. KU readers want a lot of bang for their buck. These are voracious readers! They consume a lot of books. Amazon pays authors by using algorithms to count the number of pages that are read. Their algorithms also give more weight to KU books than to wide books when it comes to ranking and to promoting through “customer’s also bought”. If you are a quick producer and write to market, this is a solid approach for you.

If you write a little more slowly and want to reach a wider audience, going wide might be your golden ticket. Generally, a wide release approach is more of a long game. It can take longer to establish a fanbase, and book buyers tend to be more selective in their purchases. But you get paid by units sold, there are no issues with platforms removing “reads”, and there is less pressure to produce to keep up with the algorithms.

Knowing how you plan to distribute your book can affect how it is written. KU authors are masters of the market. They know what’s hot, they know how to package it, and they know how to follow the trends. This approach means that the fastest way to get eyes on your words is to see what’s selling and write something similar. You want to write a sports romance? Check the Amazon Top 100 list and see what those sports romances have in common, then apply those elements and make it your own.

If you’re not interested in writing to market, consider going wide. While this can make it harder to market your book (there are so many categories to consider!), a wide release allows you to write what you want, the way you want to, without worrying about if other books like yours are out there and doing well. These are writers who don’t follow trends. They set them.

However you decide to publish, I wish you luck! And if you’re in need of any editing services, check out my services page!

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