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The Easy Way to Write Short Stories That Sell will enable you to plan, write, submit, and sell your own commercial short stories, whether you want to get published by magazines, e-zines and/or in anthologies, or whether you prefer to go it alone - and start making money soon from your self-penned stories on Amazon Kindle.
The course focuses on attaining a professional author's mindset quickly, so that you can immediately begin to get inspired and become proficient enough to write commercial short stories for the marketplace.
Included are over fifty personal lectures on inspiration, genre conventions, instruction of characterization, plotting, structure, and fast writing, plus many text-based mini-courses that explore creative writing in more depth. Also included is an up to date listing of available (paying!) short story markets.
"Master the Art of Short Story Writing with The World's Foremost Writing Guru"
* Harness your imagination quickly
* Acquire the writing habit easily
* Discover how to make your stories more commercial
* Learn the habits of professional writers in just a few hours
* Begin a new career as an author
* Finally understand the needs of mainstream publishers and editors
Discover the reality of a writer's life, taught to you by the author of over thirty bestsellers.
This course will take you on a thrilling journey, from acquiring the working writer's mindset to thinking of compelling ideas; from learning how to structure stories for maximum effect to correctly formatting and submitting your stories to editors and publishers.
At the end of this course you can expect to be able to write commercial short stories easily and perhaps begin a whole new career as a freelance, paid author.
Rob Parnell has been teaching writing for almost two decades. That experience has been synthesized into this unique course, then specifically designed and structured to help the beginner move from wannabe writer to professional wordsmith.
Starting with an introduction to the writer's mindset, the course first focuses on mental preparation, ideal time management, goal-setting, and the importance of strong self-belief. There are pre-designed templates to aid in your understanding of these issues.
In part two of the course, we look at inspiration and getting ideas, finding subject matter for your stories, as well as providing a clear guide to the fiction genres: romance, thrillers, horror, fantasy, and science fiction.
In the third section, Rob Parnell reveals the tips and tactics of professional writers with crucial guidance on the creation of protagonists, building empathy, character motivation and agenda, dialogue, story setting, style, tone, description, point-of-view, plotting and much more. You will also discover the 7-Step Story Generator - a tool that allows you to develop and test any fiction idea. Plus, learn the ideal 5-Point Story Structure as well as how to easily create templates on which to hang commercial short stories.
Along the way, there are text-based courses on character creation, plotting, and a special presentation of The Art of Story, a downloadable resource that fully explains the more technical aspects of ideal story structure. Rob also hosts a section on writing software, presenting the solution to any writer's needs.
In part four, we explore the actual writing: how to write fluidly, without blocks, for maximum impact. How to create arresting opening paragraphs and compelling text. And, how to edit professionally for submission and publication.
In part five, discover how to find and approach paying short story markets. A full market listing is available with the course. For those who want to self-publish, and start making money immediately, Rob presents crucial advice on formatting and publication through Amazon Kindle.
This course is fully mentored - Rob is available on-line throughout your course journey to answer queries, offer guidance, and give support. Your very own writing guru is just a click away (via the Udemy Console.)
At the end of this course, you will possess a clear understanding of the short story marketplace and will therefore be ideally placed to compete in this exciting and fast-growing new career opportunity. At the very least, you'll be able to write fabulous short stories that people will love and admire!
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|Section 1: Introduction|
Here we get to know each other and hopefully find that we're on the same page - as it were!
To me, "The Easy Way to Write" is not just a title or a catchphrase. It is a philosophy and a way of living. Once you understand this idea, you will begin to see that this course is an introduction to a lifestyle as well as a visual manual for achieving success in your life.
I hope that together we can enjoy a journey from wannabe author to paid writer in the shortest possible time.
In this lecture, I introduce myself - Rob Parnell - and welcome you to this special course on writing short stories for profit. The lecture details what you will be able to achieve, easily and quickly - after completing the course: That is, come up with ideas, plot and write stories, find markets, and get paid
Many would-be writers are intimidated by the idea of penning their own tales. In this introduction, I attempt to demystify the process of writing and show that with the right mindset and skill-set, anyone can compete in the burgeoning marketplace for the written word. This course will definitely provide you with all the tools you need in that regard!
Please note it is vitally important that you take the course in the order the materials are presented. Resist the urge to jump ahead to areas in which you feel you may need guidance! The power of this course is empirical: the better you understand the principles I outline at the beginning of the course, the easier you will find the whole process of making money from writing short stories.
|Section 2: Foreword|
In this lecture I provide some proof that I have the relevant expertise to present this course. I know it's important that when we receive guidance, we want our tutors and mentors to have real world experience. I want to assure you that this course is not in any way theory-based. The techniques outlined are based on actual know-how and practice.
I show how it is not necessary to have special training and qualifications to compete in the writing marketplace. Writing is fairly unique in this regard because your talent is judged solely on your work. If your story is effective, in other words, you get paid. Simple as that.
I also explain that it is now possible to use writing as a springboard into a new career and a way to escape the drudgery of the nine to five. This lecture is designed to inspire you and help you appreciate how dramatically you might be able to change your life - for the better - if you truly grasp the power of the tactics within this course.
There is one fundamental difference between an amateur writer and a professional wordsmith - and it is not talent nor expertise. It's much simpler than that. The professional writer has the correct mindset.
Mindset is important because it can provide all the motivation and discipline required to keep writing and keep working toward getting published and making money as a writer.
In this section, which it would be unwise to skip, we examine how organizing your thoughts and clarifying your objectives can go a long way toward preparing you for the road ahead. .
In this lecture we examine what magazine editors and publishers are actually looking for in a writer and a story.
Many people falsely believe that writing success is ensured by the ability to come up with lots of good ideas. This is not true. At least 90% of a writer's success is facilitated by adherence to simple technique and by following the generally accepted rules of good writing.
To help you quickly improve your basic understanding of writing technique, I have included a copy of the classic "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk along with a special self-editing course written and compiled by my wife and I for beginning writers.
I hope you find them useful. Your use of good writing technique - coherent sentences, correct grammar and punctuation etc., - is, perhaps contrary to logic, actually MORE important than coming up with good ideas for stories.
|Section 3: Part One: Mindset|
How to prepare yourself mentally using positive affirmations and by engaging in short, doable writing exercises.
The aim of this course is to turn you into a confident short story writer. In order to do that quickly, we need to change your perspective of who you are and what you believe you are capable of. Modern motivational psychology tells us that mental preparation is at least a 50% component of successful achievement.
In this lecture I outline simple techniques that will provide a professional mindset within days - as opposed to learning by trying and failing for years (like most artists do!)
Many people say they want to be writers but never put aside sufficient time to write. Others find the time but are stuck for inspiration. Still more write a little or a lot but can't finish the work they start.
In this lecture, we examine these issues and discover that proper time management is key to producing salable work.
At the end of the day, you can only ever be judged on the writing you finish - and so ensuring that you find time to complete works is actually more important than any other issue. In this whole section, we break down the component parts of a success mindset to help you achieve your objectives.
Included in this section, too, is a collection of articles to help get your head around becoming a professional writer.
A famous experiment in the 1970s proved that merely thinking about a positive outcome - and believing in it - was just as effective as endless practice and rehearsal for an athletic event. I believe the same principle to be true for art, especially writing.
Writers are famously often racked with self-doubt and insecurities about their work - it goes with the territory. In this lecture we tackle these issues head on and discover a simple strategy for overcoming negativity and self-criticism.
Confident writing stems from a confident persona and a positive worldview. I show you how to get both - and quickly!
Effective goal setting is about knowing who you are and what you're capable of. Setting absurdly unrealistic goals or dreaming about possible unlikely futures will not help you.
Your goals should be based on a concrete understanding of yourself and your needs. In this lecture I explain how using a simple goal-setting template can increase your productivity and effectiveness. And not just in the short term. To this day I use the goal-setting tactics I mention in this section to complete all my day to day tasks and maintain my motivation and enthusiasm over the long term.
By the end of this section you should begin to feel a growing sense of confidence in your abilities and be raring to attack the more fundamental writing issues we will address in the next section.
|Section 4: Part Two: The Basics|
When you are a professional writer you will understand that coming up with ideas is not the problem. Ideas are everywhere - and you will never have enough time to develop them all.
But when you're starting out, good ideas can seem hard to come by. In this section I explore the various techniques by which inspired ideas may be, to a degree, manufactured.
Once you know how to string sentences together and construct prose that is coherent and logical, you can then focus on using those skills to tell stories based on your ideas. In this, Part Two of this course, we examine how ideas become stories.
Students of mine in the past have told me that as much as they know they want to be a writer, they often don't know what to write about. This might seem like an odd complaint!
In this lecture, we learn how to identify your interests and likely areas of focus for you. You are unique and different from everyone else. The topics you choose to write about, therefore, should come from within you. There's no point copying other people's ideas, or using other people's inspiration help you move forward. That won't work.
In order to stay motivated you need to come up with your own ideas, use your own life for inspiration, and record your own insights based on your own viewpoint. Use the attached template and this lecture to help you proceed with this 'sacred' task.
Discover the difference between literary writing and genre fiction - and which is more profitable!
Selling short stories has a lot to do with identifying short story markets. Even just a cursory glance will soon convince you that the vast majority of short story markets are genre-based, as in romance, thrillers - mostly crime, fantasy, science-fiction and horror. Therefore, in order to sell short stories regularly you will need to write and submit genre stories.
Whether this appeals to you or not is your decision. However, you should take heart from the knowledge that practice in different styles and genres will improve ALL of your writing. Never think that there's a kind of writing you can't or won't do. Writer's write. And professional writers write to get published. Therefore professional writers write what the market wants! If you too want success, you must seriously consider doing the same.
Here I provide a brief text-based guide to fiction genre conventions within your target markets.
To be honest, most new writers are uncomfortable writing within genres - that is, unless they are already big fans of, say, horror or science-fiction. Many new writers believe that thinking in terms of genre is perhaps unnecessary. They just want to write without restrictions and do their own thing. Or, they will write stories and then look for markets for their 'literary' work, only to discover there aren't any.
If you want to write stories simply for pleasure, that's all fine and dandy. But if you want to write for publication - and ultimately to make money, then genre is likely the way to go. See the guidelines in this section to help you find your way.
Sometimes writers have grand ideas that are too big for a short story. Or they have an idea for an interaction that won't fill more than half a page. In this section we examine what makes for an appropriate topic, including its scale.
Writing novels is often about weaving big ideas and plots around many characters. In a short story, you simply don't have the time and space to indulge in this kind of writing. Focus is the key - and usually focusing on simple ideas and one theme in particular is the way to go.
At this stage in the course we are learning how to juggle ideas BEFORE we decide on a specific short story idea. Though, at this point, you may be itching to move on, the techniques you are currently learning will be invaluable to you as your writing career progresses. Study them well and, as a new practice, think about the things I say!
Once you have grasped the framework within which ideas are formed, you can then use simple techniques for getting ideas for stories. Waiting for inspiration is not a tactic I recommend, especially if you want to make a living. You could have a long wait between ideas!
Professionals know that the best short story ideas often grow out of the 'restrictions' of the short story genre. These restrictions may be:
1.) Word count allowed
2.) Genre conventions
3.) Editorial requirements
Knowing these preset boundaries can often inspire an idea that will fit the restrictions. Until that happens, use some of the techniques alluded to in the lecture to record and develop possible ideas for short stories.
|Section 5: Part Three: Construction Time|
Part Three contains the real meat of this course. It's where you will learn the many technical aspects of short story writing. You may even find the many issues overwhelming at first - you probably thought there weren't so many things that needed to be considered!
However, honing the ability to write many different short stories over time requires a fundamental understanding of the issues raised within this section, so it's worth spending time considering - and acting upon - the information you will learn.
I especially recommend trying the various exercises: the plot generator, the story structure tool, and especially the template building technique that are part of this section. You'll find them all very useful in the future I'm sure - especially if you get stuck or blocked!
Without characters, there's no story. Without interesting characters, there's no interesting story. But how do we come up with characters than can carry a story and make them compelling enough to keep a reader - and editor - hooked?
Again, we focus on what YOU regard as interesting and compelling. The truth is, there are no formulas that work every time because so much is dependent on the skill of the author to portray characters and their interactions.
Having said that, there are guidelines to constructing fictional creations and you will do well to know them. In this section I show you a simple 7-step character development strategy that will suit your short story needs.
See also the 3-part Character Creation course attached below for an in-depth examination of fiction character creation.
Many new writers underestimate the power of a likeable protagonist. Basically, if readers like your hero straight away, it's likely they will enjoy your story - even if it's not perfect. In this lecture I present some sure fire ways to make characters that readers will empathize with immediately.
Be careful not to make use of these tactics too obviously - you don't want readers or editors to think you're writing to any kind of formula. Having said that, you'll probably notice that many successful writers do use the tricks you will learn in this lecture - and often.
The great thing about these empathetic character traits is that they're largely visual - as in they will work for characters who say nothing first of all - and just exist as people before they actually speak.
The heart of story telling is characters who have agendas that are at odds with other characters. The resulting consequences of thwarted agendas and people working at cross purposes is DRAMA. And drama is what storytelling is all about.
It's crucial to remember that if there's no drama or conflict in a story, there's nothing for readers to grab hold of. A story about nice people who all agree with each other about everything is not going to impress anyone.
That's why it's important to imagine one to three characters who must interact with a degree of tension. This is the simplest way to ignite a story idea: have one character who wants to do something and one or two others who are dead set against the idea.
The next time you read a short story by a famous author, see if you can't see exactly this 'formula' playing out.
Also included in this module is a detailed text-based lecture on the hero's journey in fiction - a great, classical template on which to hang any story, short or long.
Now that we have established that all stories start with characters - and especially characters whose agendas are at odds with each other - it's time to start formalising these nebulous ideas into concrete story plans.
The simple truth is that when you let your character live and speak for you, it is often they who will suggest story lines for you. Plus, letting your characters come up with your stories is easier!
Never start with a story idea and then try to find characters who will fit that idea. This process is doomed to failure! It's always better to make your characters REAL first, then let them suggest plot ideas.
In this lecture too we begin to look at where your story could or should be set, the point being that a good story should work anywhere you set it. You don't always have to go with your first thought.
|Lecture 21||10 pages|
Many new writers have problem with plotting - especially when asked to plot a story before any writing begins.
If you're having trouble getting your head around the idea that plot comes out of character interaction and you need further guidance, please check out my fairly exhaustive course of four lessons on plot creation, available as downloads with this course.
Please feel free to ask me questions about plotting via the Udemy console, should you feel the need for further guidance.
And remember the golden rule: a good plot should always follow this simple structure: this happens because this happens because this happens etc.
Writing effective short stories is about creating a sense of symmetry. Each tale should have a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. The best way to achieve this aim is to plan your story's structure from the outset.
In this lecture you'll discover a neat and simple template on which to structure any short story. Feel free to use the template - it's actually similar to the basic essay writing template you probably learned at school.
Impressing an editor with your skill is easily achieved when you show you know how to structure stories in advance of the writing.
Many students ask me: "How do I get my own voice?" The thing is that you don't manufacture a voice. It comes with practice and is most often apparent to others when you don't know you have one!
A writer's true voice comes from a combination of honesty, integrity, objective worldview, and furious self-editing.
In this lecture we explore the best way to find your own 'voice' and develop your style and tone to best enhance your fiction writing.
In this lecture we discover why it's fundamental you decide WHO is telling your story. Changing point of view can be disturbing for a reader, especially in a short story. It's best to tell short stories from just one point of view character.
It's all about consistency and keeping your writing easy to follow.
The same rule applies to tense. Should you write in the present tense, the past tense or mix and match other tenses? In a short story it's best to pick one tense and stick to it throughout.
After this lecture you'll understand how to combine all the tactics we've explored so far into a coherent plot where actions and events follow a logical pattern and end with a preformed TWIST,
The twist is the new writer's secret weapon. Editors understand that writers who use twists at the end of their stories are in full command of the medium. Using this one small tactic will increase you acceptance rate ten fold.
A template or story plan will help you finish the stories you start. Too many new writers begin projects with no idea where they're going and end up going nowhere. Don't let this happen to you!
It can be very tempting to 'make things up as you go along'. The trouble with this approach is that is generally leads to writing that feels loose and unstructured - not the kind of writing that editors want to publish.
This lecture will teach you how to construct a template that is usable, but does not hamper creativity.
Reading submission guidelines for magazines will usually tell you what kind of stories their editors want. It will usually give you some idea of the length required.
Story length can change the impact of a story dramatically. In this lecture we examine the different lengths you might have to work within.
Much published fiction is short these days and follows a very simple structure, what I call the 1,2,3, Bang template. By the end of this lecture you will be in full command of the various story lengths.
|Section 6: The Art of Story|
|Lecture 28||34 pages|
In this lecture I include a Powerpoint presentation that details the nitty gritty of story construction.
I've also included the text of the book the presentation deals with - below.
Admittedly, this section contains a few advanced concepts - but is included here for those feeling they require more advanced tutelage on the 'mechanics' of story invention.
It is actually not necessary to know all this stuff if you don't want to. You can write effective short stories without drilling down this deep!
However, if you need further guidance on the Powerpoint and the PDF download, please ask questions through the Udemy console. I'm here to help!
|Section 7: Introduction to Scrivener|
Many people ask me about the best available writing software.
Like many full time authors, I have no hesitation in recommending Scrivener as the most usable and flexible writer's tool out there.
In this lecture I introduce you to the program to give you a taste of what is possible with this marvelous software.
I'm a big fan - it's literally changed my life; made me a better writer. I hope it will do that for you too.
|Section 8: Part Four: Writing Your Story|
This whole section - Part Four - is about the actual writing. The bit where you have to actually place posterior on seat and compose words!
Hopefully by now you are truly prepared for this, the fun part.
In this lecture we discuss how to snag the reader with the single-most important part of your story. But don't feel under too much pressure. You don't have to get the opening right first time. You can always go back, when you've finished your first draft, to make your opening paragraph stronger.
That's the thing with writing: you can always improve it. Professionals know there is no such thing as a finished manuscript until it's published. Before then, it's always up for editing and reworking.
This could be the single-most important lesson you will ever learn as a new writer: fast writing.
The idea that you should agonize over every word and sentence is false - especially during your first draft. In this lecture you will learn how to turn off your inner critic and simply write without thinking.
It's important that writing the first draft of any story is fast, fun, and fulfilling, because this will give your story life, urgency and coherence. Stories that take ages to write tend to lose focus and change direction, a sign that the writer has altered his or her perspective over time.
This lecture could be your key to success!
If the first draft was fast and fun, the second draft should be slow and methodical. Each word and sentence needs to considered, weighed and evaluated for effectiveness and appropriateness. In short, the second draft is where the real writing begins to take shape.
Too many new authors dash off their first effort, believing it to be near perfect, and then submit it too soon. The truth is that just because you felt a particular way when you wrote the first draft, doesn't mean that 'feeling' is actually in the writing.
The second draft forces you to focus on whether your story contains the elements necessary for its success - in the marketplace and as a piece of 'art'.
Learn how to focus on logic, coherence and especially good grammar and punctuation!
Polishing your story should take longer than actually writing it - some say at least five times as long!
If this seems excessive, you don't yet have a professional mindset!
When you present a story to the public or you submit it to an editor is must be absolutely flawless. There's no other way to go. In this lecture we discover simple tactics for ensuring your polishing process is careful and methodical.
Only amateurs send out their stories without hyper-polishing them and making sure their word use is faultless and there are no errors whatsoever in the manuscript. It's the only way to compete - and to ensure your success.
|Section 9: Part Five: Submitting Your Work|
After this lecture you will know precisely what to do when approaching magazine editors and publishers.
There are certain protocols that writers must adhere to in order to come across as professional and competent. You don't want to blow your chances of publication by messing up this final, all important stage of the process.
Learn how to construct a 'presentation pack' that is useful for all kind of writer submissions - from short stories to articles to full-blown novels.
Scott-Fitzgerald once said he could paper the walls of his writing room with his rejections. All writers receive them. A lot of them.
Rejection of your work is simply part of the game when you're a writer. You cannot let rejection get to you.
This entire course will enable you to get in the running - to be taken seriously by editors and publishers - but that doesn't mean you won't experience the sting of rejection from time to time. You have to remember it's not personal and that, because the population of writers is growing, it's actually inevitable.
Learn how to use rejection as a spur to submit more work and keep writing.
Many new writers want to know how much they might get paid. Trouble is, there's no easy answer to this question. It depends on many factors: the magazine's policy, the potential readership, the rights wanted, to name just a few.
Getting paid to write needs to seen in context. What may seem like a small payment for one story adds up over time. Plus, the more stories you have accepted, the more valuable your writing becomes. And the more your name gets out there, the more you will be offered.
The best thing about the modern digital world is that we can now publish ourselves online - and actually earn far more than we might if we stuck with magazine and anthology submissions.
Many modern authors plump immediately for publication through Amazon Kindle because it's free and easy. Plus it can pay extremely well over the short and long term, especially if you write a series of short stories within a specific genre.
In this lecture I show you how to format for the Kindle e-reader and explain how you can easily upload your stories for immediate sale online with Amazon.
The market for online short fiction is currently huge - but you have to get it right. All of what you learned in this course about genre, technique, and presentation apply to releasing your work on Amazon and other online publishers.
Readers expect self-published stories to be utterly flawless and professional looking. This lecture will help you achieve the right look - and put you in the short story charts!
All the tuition in the world on writing can only take you so far. All professional writers agree that you can't possibly write well if you do not read well too. At least 50% of your creative time should be spent reading and studying other authors. You can't know what's truly good about your own writing unless you read voraciously, especially in your own genre.
In this text document I present you with a brief recommended reading list of authors who have mastered the short story genre in their own way.
Read, and enjoy. And don't forget to study the writing you like. Stop and mull over sentences in other writer's work. Ask yourself: How did the author achieve his or her aims? What are they doing to make their work special? You'll learn a lot by doing this exercise.
At this point you are in a prime position to write and sell your own short stories. You have all the tools you need to compete in the marketplace, whether you choose to submit to magazine editors, online e-zine publishers, or to go it alone and self-publish with Amazon.
I hope you have enjoyed this course and that it has been some benefit to your creativity and in developing a professional mindset.
Go forth on your journey - and keep writing!
PS. Don't forget to give me feedback and let me know of your successes.
|Section 10: Short Story Market Listing|
|Lecture 40||15 pages|
In a downloadable PDF I have supplied a current listing of the paying short story markets.
Short story markets come and go all the time. It's a good idea to regularly search for new markets. Sometimes new markets have a tougher time find authors to submit to them - and so they're great place to get your work accepted.
Please let me know if you hear of any new markets so I can update the list here - and other writers like yourself can benefit from the information.
I wish you well. Good luck.
|Section 11: A Bit About Rob Parnell|
|Lecture 41||4 pages|
Discover Rob's own fiction (short and long!) and his other writing resources - and learn how to stay in touch with Rob Parnell online.
Writing for Children course - now approved by Udemy.
Rob Parnell has been teaching online since 2002. He has published over thirty number one bestselling books on genre writing, motivation, productivity and getting rich and healthy.
You'll enjoy his down to earth style and the sense Rob somehow knows you like a friend!
He has been writing since he was five years old. He writes every day without fail - it's like a compulsion - and he still hasn't run out of things to say... His preferred genre is the thriller - sometimes with a supernatural edge - in which he writes short stories, graphic novels, screenplays, and adult thrillers.
In between fiction projects, Rob has written over 40 nonfiction self-help titles and has been published all over the world for the last fifteen years. Also a musician and composer, singer, media producer and budding movie maker, Rob is ecstatically happy to be married to Robyn Opie Parnell, his savior and the popular bestselling children's author.