It’s no secret that the writing community has waged a war on adverbs. Stephen King once said that the road to hell was paved with them. The chief complaint is that they weaken the prose, serving as an easy way out for writers who are too lazy to show instead of tell and that they aren’t worth their weight when it comes to the economy of words. And what all this hatred of adverbs has led to is their almost total eradication from the page.
But how have we managed to convince ourselves that there is an entire part of speech which is inherently evil? At first, these claims seem justified. Oftentimes, a stronger verb can take the place of a weak verb and an adverb put together. This is true when substituting “dashed” for “ran quickly” or “shouted” for “said loudly.” In these cases, by all means, eradicate your adverbs. This works here because the adverbs do actually add any necessary information to the phrase, and the job is accomplished in fewer words by using a stronger verb.
But the fact of the matter is that a substitution doesn’t always work so well. Take for example the sentence “She stared wistfully out the car window.” There is no single verb which means specifically “to stare wistfully” or anything which comes even remotely close, and it would take far too long to describe all of her body language which might convey the wistfulness. In this case, it makes much more sense to simply use an adverb, especially because simply deleting the adverb would alter the meaning of the sentence.
The rule of thumb? Never use an adverb which simply means the same thing as the verb. Running is always quick, and you don’t need an adverb to tell your reader this. Instead, use an adverb when there is no direct substitute for the word, or the adverb tells the reader information they otherwise wouldn’t have known.
It’s easy to think of this rule in terms of adjectives, which function in virtually the same way that adverbs do but are far less disputed. There is no sense in using the phrase “the green grass” because grass, at its default, is usually green, and including the adjective doesn’t give the reader any extra information. On the other hand, “the brown grass” or “the dead grass” does give the reader added information and would be appropriate places to use an adjective. This same principle can easily be applied to adverbs.
Regardless of where you stand on the adverb issue, hopefully this post has helped put some things in perspective, and remember, always be wary of definitive writing advice which tells you to “always do this” or “never do that.” Writing is an art, and seldom does it conform to rules as concrete as these. That being said, good luck and happy writing!
My heart was racing, and I could feel the force of my blood pounding in my ears. My stomach was in knots, and I had to swallow back the urge to puke. The whole room felt like it was spinning, closing in, collapsing around me. I dug my fingers into the ratty couch beneath me, holding on for dear life until my knuckles went white.
I closed my eyes and forced myself to breathe, trying to wrest some of the dread from my chest, trying to make the world slow down. but it was no use.
I was running out of time. The clock was counting down on the faded, flickering screen. There was no picture, just numbers, cold and unforgiving. There used to be hours left. Months, days. Now there were just minutes.
Years ago, when the clock first started counting, people used to talk about it a lot. There were always newscasters, musing, predicting, pretending to know more than we did. Five thousand theories were passed through the hallways on anxious lips. Politicians tried to explain it away, to blame anarchists and radicals and everybody but themselves. My sister Bri and I, we used to joke that it was just someone waiting for a grand old oven to preheat. Now, there were no more jokes, no more speculation, just the time.
People used to panic, even after they had stopped talking, but it didn’t happen right away. No, at first it was just a sick joke, a teenager making some desperate grab for their fifteen minutes of fame. We waited and waited, but the clock didn’t go away. No one came forward. There was no one waiting in the wings to tell us it was all a game. When that sunk in, it became real. And then came the fear.
It was funny how people reacted in the face of a storm. How the fear drove them to run away, evacuate, as if that would keep them safe from the numbers counting down. Or maybe they just wanted to seize the day. Either way, it didn’t matter. They quit their jobs. Stores closed. The whole city seemed to shut down because there was no one left to keep it going.
We even stopped going to school, but I didn’t mind it. The speculation was too much. It just made the fear worse. Schools were like that. They tend to have a snow-balling effect. The rumors grew greater and greater until they were too much, until they were crushing, until they had spiraled entirely out of control. So we just stopped and ran away like everybody else.
But like everything else, the fear had died down over time, the time that was measured, that we didn’t have. Somehow, people managed to push that constant, ticking reminder to the backs of their minds and keep moving forward.
Not anymore. Now, the clock approached ever closer to zero, and it refused to be ignored. It demanded attention, sucked up everything until there was no space left for anything else. Every second seemed to pass by in a sort of unearthly haze, like the world was being filtered through water, the image always just a little bit out of focus, leaving a thousand different versions of reality in its wake. The problem was, no one knew how to tell which was the truth, and we all had to make sense of things in our own ways. We all had to learn how to cope.
The way my mother chose to do it reminded me of a bird. A magpie, I think they’re called. Not long after the clock appeared, she started to stockpile things, useless things, like make-up and old compact discs. She called it “being prepared,” but I wasn’t sure what she thought she was preparing for. She flitted about the room, constantly pacing, and her mouth never stopped moving, endless nervous chatter spouting from it like birdsong. But the worst part of it all, was that, like a bird, she developed a tendency to fly away, to flee at the smallest sign of danger. She disappeared sometimes for days on end, always leaving us behind.
I looked at her now, mumbling under her breath, pacing restlessly throughout the next room, pausing every once in a while to steady herself on a counter-top as she stumbled and pulled at strands of her fraying, white-blonde hair. Her clothes were stained, her dress torn above the knee, and she kept straightening it, pretending not to be staring at the clock. Her whole body seemed to shake. I could see it on her sunken, hollow face. She wanted to run.
I sighed, bringing my fingers to my temple to try to rub away some of the stress. I couldn’t really blame her. Even if I’d wanted to be, what was the use of being angry with only thirteen seconds left?
I squeezed my sister’s hand. Bri sat balled up on the hardwood floor, knees hugged tight to her chest, fingers absentmindedly tearing at the end of her once perfect braid, her stoic silence soaking up my mother’s hurricane of noise. I don’t know how she always managed to keep it all together. She was stronger than she should have had to be at her age. But still, I could see the cracks forming in her shell where she was starting to fall apart.
I wish I could have brought myself to offer her a comforting smile, to give her something to ease her fragile nerves, but I couldn’t. Besides, what use was comfort with only three seconds left?
Finally, my mother stopped pacing and was still. The house felt empty without the sounds of her footsteps echoing from the walls.
Bri stood up, letting go of my hand and letting her hair fall. Her legs were shaking.
I walked over to the television and flicked off the screen.
I was certain the world was going to end today. And then, against all odds, it didn’t.
Poppies. Thousands of them.
Plucked from the earth, delicate petals woven into dozens of flower crowns piled on the ground. Children, little girls, silent, sitting in a broken meadow, weaving more.
A half-assembled crown was falling apart in my lap, abandoned. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking.
Children weren’t supposed to look like this. They were supposed to smile. To laugh. Not to cry. Not to be dirty, subdued, alone.
But I couldn’t blame them.
I was crying too.
I could feel the songs of ghosts whipping through the meadow with the wind, turning the air heaving and leaving ice across my soul.
Even though I was sitting, I staggered. My head was swimming, unsteady, too full and too empty all at once. I placed my hand on the ground to stabilize myself.
I pulled my hand back, and I gagged. My fingers were black, covered in ash.
Or it would be, if there was anything left.
Suddenly, there were broad hands on my shoulders, jarring me from my thoughts, and I jumped.
“Sorry,” Alex whispered, lips pressed against the top of my head. “But it’s time.”
I sighed, trying to clear my head, but I don’t know why I bothered. I settled for pushing the voices into the background where they were fuzzy and not quite as loud.
I stood, taking Alex’s warm, brown hand in mine so I could borrow some of his strength.
Together, we started rounding up the kids, collecting the crowns. I was grateful Alex was there to do all of the talking. Most of the kids were too young to really understand, and I couldn’t bear to break it to them. So I just stood there, holding out my arms, and trying not to crush the flowers.
And then finally we turned to face all that we had left.
Charred foundations of what used to be houses stood scattered throughout the meadow. I could still see pictures of the lives we used to have floating among the wreckage. The lives we had before.
Before the bombs that fell and burned our village to the ground and tore apart the earth. Before the war that made everything scarce and put us all at risk. Before almost everyone we’d ever known had died. Before Alex was an expert at making tombstones and I could barely make a poppy crown.
I turned to Alex, wondering how his big, brown eyes were still dry. “How did we end up like this?” I asked.
“You can’t think about this now, Gill. All we can do now is honor the dead and move forward from there.”
He took my hand and lead me through the ruins of the village across to the other side where a whole sea of wooden tombstones marked a sea of shallow graves Alex had dug because I hadn’t had the strength to.
But now it was my turn, and I stepped into the sea, one by one laying flower crowns at the head of every grave until we were standing in an all new field of bright red poppies.
Flash fiction is one of the hardest parts of fiction to define, probably because it has such a wide range of what it encompasses, from the six-word story to anything under 2,000 words. The point is, flash fiction is the absolute shortest medium of fiction, and because of this, its quite often the most powerful.
When you boil a story down to only its bare bones, there is no space left for anything that doesn’t matter, and only the potent and impactful remains.
But the most wonderful thing about flash fiction is that because of its brevity, you can write a piece of it every day in a relatively short amount of time. Practicing is one of the best things a writer can do, especially when they’re experiencing writer’s block on one of their bigger projects. Flash fiction can give an author an opportunity to step away from the bigger picture and flex their creative muscles on a smaller scale, the goal eventually being to stop the cycle of writer’s block that’s tanking the big projects.
Flash fiction can also, because of how easy it is to self-publish, be an opportunity for up-and-coming authors to establish a steady readership and gain a following. It’s an easy way for a writer to periodically show potential readers samples of their work in a way that is much more satisfying for the reader than a free sample that ends on a cliff hanger.
Flash fiction is not only a useful exercise in improving craft but also in building an author platform. And, it’s a lot of fun, especially in our increasingly fast-paced world in which brevity and convenience can be key factors in getting read.
For more information, visit these helpful links:
Flash Fiction: What's It All About?
What is Flash Fiction?
To read some examples of flash fiction, visit these links:
Flash Fiction: A series of very short stories for the summer.
21 Flash Fiction Stories to Read While You Wait Anywhere
I had forgotten how much pain a good book can cause.
There is nothing quite like the physical heartache you get when you care about the characters so much and so deeply that their pain becomes your own. When you are rooting so hard for two characters that your chest is heavy and empty when they are pulled apart. When you are so invested in the character that you are the character, and you not only want them to survive, but you need them to.
It has been so long since I’ve read something that made me feel this connection, and it’s the mark of spectacular writing. Aletheia made me feel it.
The main character was such a well-rounded, fleshed-out person, and she couldn’t have felt more real. She had history that began way before the first page, relationships long past that bled into the story in an incredibly realistic way.
Besides the astounding characters, the plot was profound and remarkably strung together. There were twists at every turn, both predicted and surprising. The worldbuilding was rich, and it stood apart from the fad of YA dystopian novels in a wonderful way. The stakes were high, the consequences were real, and the conflicts were multi-layered with enemies at both sides of the table. I couldn’t put the book down.
The one and only issue with Aletheia was that it was poorly edited. The errors were at times distracting from the extraordinary quality of the story, and it hurt my heart to see such a wonderful novel hindered in such a way.
Regardless, the book was still one of the best I have read in a very long time. The prose was captivating, easily measuring up to the vast scale of the story it set out to tell. I am hanging off the edge of the seat as I anxiously await the sequel.
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I have such mixed feelings about this book.
From the very beginning, that is, before even opening to read the jacket, this book drew me in. The cover design was absolutely phenomenal, which matters to me especially as an artist. The title was intriguing; it sounded like exactly my type of book. But what really did it for me was the tagline:
“In my land, we’re known as Paper Girls… easily torn, existing only for others to use and discard. But there’s something they’ve all forgotten about paper. It can light the world on fire… and make it burn.”
From this description, I was expecting much more of a dystopian story than a fantasy one, one with rich worldbuilding, a caste system, and a story focused on rebellion. And I was excited.
So with all of this, I was sold before even opening the cover. Which meant I hadn’t read the synopsis when I took the book home with me. Big mistake.
But even if I had read the synopsis before starting to read, I would have known nothing about the elaborate half animal-half human demons that make up half the cast. Needless to say, I was very surprised to open the book a few pages in and find a description of the distinctions in humanity between the different castes. This is definitely not what I had signed up for.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I read fantasy, too. I even write it. But it can be very off-putting when it comes as a surprise, especially when it’s taken to the extreme that it is here. This is entirely personal preference on my part, but I much prefer a human cast, and this book definitely pushed the definition of human beyond what I’m used to.
Now, if I had known that this is what the book would be about, I still might have picked it up, and probably enjoyed it more than I did. But the fact of the matter is, I had built such high expectations for this book in my head that I was disappointed with what I got, which sort of put a damper on things from the beginning.
Another issue I had was that the rebellion aspect of the plot took up very little space on the page. It didn’t pop up at all until about halfway through the story, and even when it did, the main character, Lei, didn’t have very much agency or control in the plot whatsoever. If not for an unexpected turn of events that almost qualifies as a deus ex machina, Lei would have had little to no role in the climax at all.
Instead, the major focus of the plot was forbidden romance, which was well-written, and a wonderful inclusion of LGBT representation, but it just wasn’t what I was craving when I picked up the book.
That being said, the love interest was very well-rounded, and I think her character was more developed than Lei’s was, if I’m being honest. But I definitely enjoyed watching the relationship unfold, as it didn’t feel rushed or forced in anyway as you so often get in novels like this. I also really appreciated the way that the main character came to terms with her orientation and the implications her relationship held in terms of the plot.
I also enjoyed the unfoldings of the plot in the first half of the book, though they weren’t what I was expecting. Watching the main character struggle with what is expected of her, what she needs in order to maintain her integrity, and the consequences she faces was very compelling from both a plot and character perspective.
Yet one part that I thought to be very under-explored was Lei’s search for her missing mother, who was stolen years ago. I feel like the mystery that seems to drive her in the beginning of the book is almost ignored, and it’s “resolved” when she simply accepts that her mother is probably dead, which I found incredibly underwhelming.
My final issue with this book was the actual writing itself. As I writer myself, that’s something I pay attention to more than the average reader, and I have never been so annoyed with the way a book was written in my life. The author struggles from a severe lack of commas throughout the entire novel, and it was extremely off-putting for me. I found myself reading over the same sentence three times, trying to figure out why it felt so wrong and correcting it in my head. Doing this what felt like hundreds of times throughout the novel became very distracting very fast.
Yet despite all my mixed feelings about this book, I never put it down. It was aggravating, but I also found myself attached to the plot, demanding answers about how things would end up. Honestly, I can’t even tell you if I enjoyed reading it or not. As of right now, the jury is still out.
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“This might be a good time to remember that writing a novel is hard.”
Overall, Story Genius was a wonderful read with a refreshing take on the writing process. If you open up this book with even a glimmer of an idea for a novel, if you follow along, you can close the back cover well into the first chunk of your first draft. But if you’re a little farther along in your writing process, the concrete method outlined in this book won’t necessarily work for you exactly, and some pieces may be redundant or irrelevant. Regardless, there are some incredible ideas in this book about the craft and philosophy of writing that everyone can learn from. I’ve outlined some of the major points below.
1. Story and plot are not the same thing. One of the earliest and most important assertions that the author makes is this, and if you take away nothing else from her work, this should be the thing. Without a story behind it, a plot is nothing but a string of external events with no significance, and because of this, a plot on its own does not have the power to grasp readers. A story, on the other hand, is about a specific, difficult obstacle that a character faces and how that character is forced to change their worldview and deal with a specific internal conflict as a result of those events. This distinction is extremely important, and the reason goes back to the psychological reason why stories are so compelling to us as humans. A well written story leaves us so in-tune with the struggles and emotions of the protagonist that we are not merely sitting there watching as the events of the fictional world unfold, but we are living those events in full color through the character’s eyes, a phenomenon that occurs in no other medium of modern entertainment. And in striving to achieve that phenomenon, we must give our readers the juicy, emotional bits of internal conflict that allow us to experience a book as more than just a series of events playing across a scene.
2. A novel must be written in chronological order. One of the main traps that beginning writers fall into is the temptation to jump around when they’re writing from scene to scene, writing when the inspiration strikes and you get into the right mood. Now, it’s very likely that you’re thinking that this sounds ridiculous, pretentious, and arbitrary, and initially, you might be right. But upon closer inspection, this rule actually makes a lot of sense. Internal logic is essential to the success of a novel, and it must be based off of a coherent, concrete cause-and-effect trajectory. Simply put, each event (and each internal change that accompanies it) needs to have been cause by the event before it and needs to trigger the one after. Without this, your novel will be left feeling episodic, one event that happens after another, after another, but never escalating into one, distinct, climactic conflict. This interior logic will also allow your reader to try to guess what will happen next, and instead of making your book predictable, it will actually make your novel more fun to read. There is one exception too this rule, however, and it comes in the form of the ending scene. Over the course of writing your novel, it helps to have a clear destination in mind so you can make sure your plot doesn’t veer way off track.
3. Your protagonist must begin the story with a specific past. Think about it. We already know that it is essential for a successful story that your protagonist must undergo an internal change. And in order to change, you have to have a starting point that you can change from. It sounds glaringly obvious, so it’s surprising how many authors overlook this detail and fail to learn anything about their main character that happens before page one. It’s incredibly important to establish your character’s starting worldview because this internal set of beliefs will bleed their way onto the page by informing every decision that this character will make. But it’s not enough to decide on a general belief system. It’s important to delve into the specific events and circumstances that shaped your character’s worldview before the book even begins, as well as the specific ways the character reacted and was affected by them. You’d be surprised to find out how often fleshing out these early scenes early on will help when it comes time to writing your manuscript because its very likely that they’ll make it onto the page in some form, likely as flashbacks or backstory.
4. A finished novel is many layers deep, but it is important to remember that they don’t begin that way. Looking at the intricate weave of subplot upon subplot, dozens of secondary characters, exhilarating settings, internal struggle, and external hurtles, writing a novel can be extremely intimidating, and it can also lead to the misconception that novels are written this way, with all of these layers being seamlessly developed side by side, all at once. But that simply isn’t the case. A complex novel is formulated one layer at a time, so don’t let that initial fear convince you that it’s better to take the simple route and only write one layer at all, because subplots are what keep a novel interesting and distinguish it from others in its genre. Instead, as you trek along with your main story-line, notice the obvious subplots that start to evolve. As you learn more about your characters and your plot, you can start to write in the interesting details that make up a secondary story-line. The trick is, after you discover these lines, to double back to the early stages of your manuscript and make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.
So yes, writing a novel is hard. But with the wonderful insight and compelling tone that Lisa Cron provides in Story Genius, the process gets just a little bit easier.
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There’s nothing wrong with medieval Europe. In fact, I love it. I’ve studied it, re-enacted it, and fallen totally in love with the period. But there are other periods and cultures, and they deserve their share of the limelight when it comes to fantasy settings, though that isn’t to say I’m totally ready to kick Europe to the curb just yet.
So while I’m still a little emotionally attached to medieval Europe, I have striven to incorporate other cultures into my world in order to spice things up a little bit and give some cross-cultural representation.
1. Double-check that your cast isn’t all white. (You should really be doing this anyway, and if you aren’t, you need to re-examine your writing on a whole different level than this post can provide.) It sounds very obvious, but this is a basic measure that can pull your writing out of the stereotypical medieval European setting. And yes, it’s definitely true that there were many people of color living in pre-modern Europe, but it’s a sad fact that it is never portrayed this way. Adding color to your cast can brighten your setting and make it stand out from the traditional portrayal of medieval fantasy, not to mention that it gives valuable and greatly needed representation to the POC community. The greatest pitfall that writers fall into when doing this is throwing in token characters or adhering to stereotypes. For me, the easiest way to make sure I don’t fall into this trap is to subvert the assumption that white is the default. The right way to represent people of color could take up another entire post, so I won’t go into the details here, but the bottom line is to check yourself and check your prejudice, and if in doubt about whether something is offensive or not, check.
2. Mix up the nomenclature. Everything in your fantasy world probably has a name, from your cities and towns to your characters, and more often than not these names all have a very European feel to them. One of the best ways that I’ve found to avoid this is using inspiration from foreign languages. It’s so easy to plug a word into google translate and scroll through non-romance languages until you find a translation that resonates with you. You’ll probably have to modify it some, and arguably, you probably should, but just this simple step is an easy way to give your nomenclature roots in something outside of our traditional conception of Europe. Some of my favorite languages to use are Croatian, Latvian, Maltese, Malay, and Malagasy, but these have just proven to give the best results for the feel of my current WIP.
3. Explore different religions. Even if you don’t call it Christianity, your monotheistic religion with the same governing principles is screaming of traditional medieval Europe. Even if you don’t want to go to the trouble of inventing an entire pantheon of gods (though I recommend it; it’s a lot of fun), there’s a lot you can do to incorporate elements of other cultures into your world’s religion. Religion is at the core of a lot of life’s major ceremonies, and diverting those from the ones we experience in our own Judeo-Christian world can do a lot to change the perception of the setting. Arranged marriages, spells and curses of voodoo, mandated regular prayer, and so much more can be used to enhance the religion in your world, especially in the ways in which it permeates daily life.
4. Change the viewpoints and value systems. There are a very typical set of prejudices that go along with traditional European society, and along with them a very distinct set of values. I believe that it is in human nature to be cruel and prejudicial, but there is no reason that a fictional society’s prejudices have to be the same as our own society’s. Why should their hate be on the basis of race, sex, or sexuality? There is no reason. There are a thousand different ways that people can despise one another, and as long as you can come up with a logical progression of events that would have led to the beliefs, there is no reason why you as a writer cannot invent your own, and doing so will set your society in stark contrast to medieval Europe.
5. Do your research. There is such a rich wealth of cultures out there with incredibly diverse practices, beliefs, and traditions. Broaden your horizons and cast out a wider net and discover what non-European cultures have to offer your work. Just make sure to double check yourself and avoid using anything that could be considered stereotypical or offensive. But when done right, representation of other cultures is not only helpful to our society, but makes for a more interesting read.
For more information, visit these helpful links:
Yes, There Were People of Color in Pre-Modern Europe
Off the Beaten Path: Non-Traditional Fantasy Settings
Using Non-Western Influence in Fantasy
First, let me just say that I’m not a proponent of reading the classics just for the classics’ sake. Oliver Twist? The Old Man and The Sea? No, thank you. But I would strongly recommend reading The Crucible, as it has truly earned its place among the ranks of the great.
The Crucible is a play, and many would argue that it is best enjoyed in the form of a performance, whether that be on screen or on stage. Yet between watching the movie and reading the text, I much preferred taking it all in in the form of a book. Granted, I haven’t had the opportunity to see it live, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I would still prefer the book.
In case you didn’t know, The Crucible is a piece of historical fiction written during the Red Scare that centers on the Salem witch trials, and the main theme of the play is the drawing of comparisons between the two events. In doing this, we get to see the hysteria that develops around the accusations of witchcraft, and how the townspeople, and the court officials, use their religious beliefs to justify their persecution.
Now, Miller used this to draw comparisons to the arbitrary accusations that ruined careers during the Red Scare, but I prefer to think of the themes in a more modern context. There is no shortage of ways in which religion is used to rationalize oppression and mistreatment of peoples in contemporary society. There is an undeniable recurrence of events here, and Miller points out a troubling pattern of human behavior.
Personally, this is a theme that I am particularly drawn to, as it echoes those within my current writing. But if deep analysis of human nature isn’t quite your thing, there are still plenty of reasons to enjoy this book.
The dynamics between characters are extremely compelling and complex in this work, and there is so much more going on in addition to the main plotline. The play is exciting right from the beginning, starting out with questions just begging to be answered, and it grabbed my attention right away. Once I got going, I couldn’t put it down.
I’d highly recommend this book, but the one small drawback for me was the ending. I won’t spoil it, but it did feel like a bit of a let down after such a gripping, fast-paced story.
It’s no secret in the writing world that one of the most important elements of achieving success is having an eye-catching, professional, and well-designed book cover, and if you’re smart, you’ve probably hired a graphic designer to do this. But did you know that a cover is far from the only way that you can use graphic design to help further your writing career?
One of the first ways you can incorporate graphic design into your branding is to design a personal logo. A logo will make you seem professional, and it can help tie all of your branding together. A well-made logo can appear on your website, business cards, letter heads, resumes, job listings, or anything else you might want to put together for yourself. But a poorly designed logo can be more detrimental to you than having no logo at all, so here are some things to consider.
1. First and foremost, know your level of artistic ability. If you are not an artist, do not try to design your logo yourself, at least without a good deal of practice and experimentation. This isn’t to say you can’t learn the skills needed to be a graphic designer or even teach yourself, but you need to approach this with a degree of professionalism. A logo is often the first thing a customer associates with a company, and it can define your brand. So if you don’t want to put in the time and effort to design your logo yourself, hire somebody!
2. Know your image and know what you want to say. A well-designed logo needs to convey the personality of you and your writing. My writing tends to have a dark side, so I used darker toned colors in order to convey that in my own logo. A romance writer might want to use pinks and scarlets while a writer of children’s lit would typically tend to a brighter, more diverse palette. Regardless of the genre, the colors you choose in your logo should say something about your work, and you need to choose your colors deliberately. Overall shape and style is another important factor to consider when choosing your design. The shapes that you use are read to have certain meanings that can subconsciously suggest a certain image to the viewer. In general, curved shapes tend to have emotional meanings, such as community, unity, friendship, and love, while more rigid shapes tend to represent professionalism, balance, practicality, and strength. You also must consider the style of the artwork that you will incorporate, if you incorporate any imagery at all. For instance, I chose very clean and simple images for my logo in order to seem professional and put together. The elements of your image are every bit as important as the quality of your design, and it is very important to put out an accurate representation of yourself.
3. Make sure you have a high-quality image file. A vector-based image file is preferred to a pixel-based image because no matter what size you want to display your image at, it will always maintain the same pristine quality. If you try to blow up pixel image past a certain point, you risk it becoming grainy and pixelated. A great program for vector-based graphics is Adobe Illustrator, but it can get expensive. That being said, if you do have to use a pixel-based image (such as a JPG or PNG), make sure it is the proper resolution. At least 300 DPI is necessary for printing purposes, but a most screens only portray 72 DPI, so that resolution is high enough for web use. However, it is very important that a JPG is not the only file type that you have your image in. JPG files will corrupt over time, as they compress each time they are opened, and this means that you will eventually lose your image completely. There is no point in having a logo that is too poor quality to use.
4. Your first idea probably isn’t your best. Real designers go through pages and pages of iterations in the form of pencil sketches before they even start a finalized project. Sit down and make a list of your ideas. Draw some sketches if that works for you. Let your ideas flow and look at some inspiration images. Trust me, it helps, and you’ll be happier with your final result.
5. Go beyond a logo. Graphic design is limitless. I put together a poster that can be seen on the home page of my website, and it’s a great graphic for putting onto promotional items such as bookmarks and T-shirts. Shirt sales can be a great way to bring in additional revenue, but the design has to be something interesting, eye-catching, and appealing. The key to this step is creativity. Have some fun with it and experiment a little. A great way to do this is a company called Printful, which allows you to create printed products with your own images and runs as a print on demand service, which means there’s no risk to you. Play around with some designs. See what works!
A peek at my design process:
1. Inspiration images. Think of some themes or imagery that interest you. Google it. Google logos for your career. Try many different search terms until you find a pool of examples that you like. Then sit down and look at them and decide what elements you want to pull from. But that doesn’t mean that plagiarism is okay. You can use p to 10% of a design without crediting the artist. Above that, you need to rework things beyond being recognizable to the original piece. Here are some of the images that I pulled from:
2. Sketches. They don’t have to be good. They don’t have to be finalized. They don’t have to have details or order. All your really need to worry about is composition and getting your ideas out onto your paper. Here was my sketchbook page:
3. Start working in your final format. Typically, this will be a digital platform, such as Adobe Illustrator. Replicate your favorite sketch. Add color. Decide if you still like it. This was the first digital iteration of my logo (the grid was just the background on my Illustrator workspace):
4. Revamp. Edit. Make all the little changes you want, and feel free to experiment. One of the great things about digital art is that you can copy your design, paste it into a new area, and make all the changes you like. Don’t like it? Go back to the old version. Repeat until you don’t hate it anymore. And voila, you have a finished logo.