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text 2018-10-17 11:30
Facts About Me: How to Use Canva

For authors and publishers, finding a good site to make your own promo posters is a must. Making posters can be a time consuming task for authors, taking hours upon hours, especially when making multiple posters or those for a series, so the site they use has to be simple, effective, and ease to navigate.

My go-to site has been PicMonkey until now, however, I always had a few issues with the site – it never let you save your project, so you couldn't go back to make changes, and it never gave you handy templates or a grid to find the centre of your poster. The new BETA version does this, but it only began recently, and by then I'd already found Canva. Now, it's my preferred site.

For those curious, this is a step-by-step guide from my own experiences. So, if there's anything wrong, it's all my fault. Canva has a free version, as well as a paid, upgrade, version. I use the free version and that's what I'll be showing you. Also, Canva 2.0 only got introduced a week ago and I haven't been able to give it a try yet, so this How To is for the 1.0 version.

~

TIPS:

  1. Open Canva, sign up and move through the options, buttons and changes with me. It can be a practice run, made up of crappy images or made-up text, but it really is the best way to follow along and see what I'm talking about. By trying it, you'll get a better feel for what you're doing. Canva will auto-save after each change, so you don't have to worry about losing your progress if anything goes wrong. But, if you're nervous, simply click File and Save to make sure as we go along.

  2. Use the Chrome browser. I usually use an Opera browser for all my internet needs, but Canva isn't properly set up for Opera so won't work effectively there. Here's what Canva tells you in the Help section about supported browsers:

"For the best experience using Canva, we recommend using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer or Edge. Mobile versions of these browsers are not supported."

~

STEP 1: THE BASICS

This is your Home Page, where all your designs will be stored. They're automatically labelled as the name of the design, but on this page, you can rename them to your own title, as well as delete or make copies of them using the drop down arrow menu in the top right corner of each project.

This is also where you'll be able to choose from "all your designs", "shared with you", "create a team", "your brand", and "find templates". While all the tabs are basically self-explanatory, the "Your brand" is an area that makes suggestions based on your previous uses, for example, colours, templates and themes that you've used before. However, Your Brand is a paid feature, so I can't show you an example of that.

All Your Designs

Shared With You

(I sent this to myself, from a second account, to test the feature)

Create a Team

Find Templates

~

How to open a template: choose an option from the home page "create a design" section (or choose More... to see other options), then click the design you want and your template will open automatically into a new tab. Each template tells you the size it will be, either in px, mm or in. Choose the one most fitted to your needs and, if you're not sure, there are options for set sizes like Instagram and Facebook will give you a recognisable size to work from.

How to create a blank template: on the home page, choose "use custom dimensions" and insert your choice of size (px, mm, in). You can Google conversions if you're not sure what size you prefer, or you can base the size of your need on the measurements of an existing template that needs to be adjusted. You cannot resize a template or a design in the free version.

How to save a completed design: use the "download" button on the top right of the screen, and choose your format (png, jpg, pdf). Your download will auto-save to your computer "download" folder in your preferred format. (Canva will auto-save as you're working; but you can choose the File, Save option to make sure if you're nervous.)

How to share your design: click the "share" option while your design is open. There are multiple options for sharing with a link, through an e-mail address, or straight to a social media site or by embedding it.

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STEP 2: TABS and BUTTONS

The most important thing to know about Canva is that it looks daunting, but it's actually simple to use and navigate. Everything is clearly labelled, there are information buttons all over the place, and the paid features are clearly marked. There is nothing hidden about using Canva.

To start, I'll walk you through the Tabs, which appear once you've selected a template. Then through all the buttons that are associated with each tab, until you feel like you know your way around. Only then will we start creating.

Choose a Template

Choose a template on the home page. You'll see a few options at the top of the page, but you can click on the "More..." option to see more templates for other sizes (which show you their dimensions if you hover over them) or you can create your own using "Use custom dimensions" where you can use the drop down menu to determine px, mm, in. Here's a broad view of the templates on offer through the More... page:

Once you've decided on your choice, you can start making your design. Here, I've chosen the "Instagram Post" option, which is 1080px x 1080px. To choose it, just click on the image provided and it will open in a new tab.

As you can see from this screenshot, you have the choice of making your image public, ordering prints, downloading the result and sharing the image to social media sites, by using the buttons in the top right corner. On the left, that's where you make the changes to your design.

The images on the left are templates - you can see from the bottom right of the images which ones are free and which ones you have to pay for. You can also "add a new page" which is a great option for when you want to make a PDF or make copies of the same image. I'll show you how I did that later.

~

Using the "upload" button, I've added a couple of images from my computer. You can also upload from Facebook or use the images that Canva offers. Progress bars will appear on each image to show you how far they've loaded. The image can't be accessed until the progress bar disappears. If you get an error message and image is unclickable, that's an internet connection issue and you can try to upload that image again, once all the others have finished. I do find that, sometimes, when uploading multiple images, at least one will fail due to the connection being overloaded or cut.

You can work while the images are being uploaded, switching tabs, editing text etc. The Uploads title in the bar section will turn into a circle with flowing green water that rises as your uploads complete, to let you know how it's getting on. This is great if you want to get busy while your images upload.

Once they've loaded, just click the image and drag it into the template. Alternatively, you can have a blank template and drag your image into the white space. You can resize your image to the full scale of the template, or move your image into the space until it auto-inserts itself. There is a sweet spot for doing this, and it will take a few tries before you find it.

If your template comes with a frame-template (such as the template I've chosen does) you can remove the existing image without replacing it with your own. Simply click the image, then choose the "rubbish bin" symbol at the top right corner. You'll be given the option to "delete image" or "delete element" aka the frame-template. This is great to know before you start.

Here's a quick view of what all the buttons do.

Transparency speaks for itself - you can fade your text/image.

Arrange - this is great if you want to layers or manipulate how your text/image sits in the poster. You can move things back or forward, depending on how you want it to look. For example, if you want an image/design to overlay your text you can do that, or you can move it behind the text.

Delete - delete image allows you to delete the current picture in the frame-template, but delete element will remove that frame-template entirely, if you decide you don't like it or if you want to start from scratch.

~

Tabs

Going left to right, let me talk you through what each section does:

Layouts - This is where you choose a template, if you want to. If you don't, you can easily choose a simple template and delete all the elements to start afresh. We'll come back to explore this area more later, where I show you how to "build" your own elements into an image.

Elements - This is where you find all that useful stuff you might want to add to your picture. Squiggly lines? Check. Shape blocks? Check. Pictures, frames, lines, details, or grids. It's all here.

Text - This is where you can choose a text layout, if you're not sure how you want your text to look. This is great inspiration for grouping text together, or to help you get the set you want, without having to do all the work yourself. I'll show you how to "group" text later.

Background - Here, you find options for adding a "background" to your image. This is great for layering, and I'll show you how to use it later.

Uploads - This is where you'll find all the images you've uploaded, where you can search the images Canva provide, and where you can organise them into or out of your design.

~

Because the Elements tab offers so many options, here's a closer look at what it involves:

The grids tab is great for making Character Cards or collages, for advertising a series. The frames tab is better for when you want to make posters with multiple images or overlays, in circles or odd shapes. Take a look at the Canva offered templates to see how they utilise these features.

I admit that I use the white square a lot when there's an aspect of a photo that I need to hide from my poster - e.g. text on clothing or background features that don't fit your theme. You can change the colour of ALL of these shapes to anything you want. You can also change the colour of ALL of the lines, too.

These three tabs I have never used. Only because they don't fit anything I need or want for my posters. One day, I might need them and, if so, I know where to find them.

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STEP 3: GET CREATIVE

The best way to learn is to do. So that's how we'll start. I'll walk you through how to choose a template, how to create a simple poster, and then save it, step-by-step from start to finish. Then I'll walk you through how to add all the little touches, embellishments and fancy stuff. Through all of that I'll show you how to use all the tabs and additional features.

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Add Text

To add an image to my template, click the one you want, drag it into the blue/field template and it will automatically center-align the image.

To edit the text of a template, simply double-click the existing text and re-write it with your own. Or, you can choose the Text tab, and choose a template to edit, or click "add" and edit that.

Canva supply their own fonts. If you want to use your own, you'll have to upgrade to the paid version. However, I find the fonts that Canva supply to be diverse for my needs. If you want to use another font but don't want to upgrade, simply download your design without text and add that special font using another program like PicMonkey.

~

Add Effects

As well as adjusting your text and image here, you can add effects to your image. Simply click the image and a whole new set of buttons will appear.

It can feel daunting, at first, considering how many buttons and options there are, but I find that the top row offer the best adjustments for your image, and once you know your way about, it becomes second-nature.

My favourite effect is "Cali" which offers a softer version of your image. Or, you can add an overlay image by using the side buttons. What I love is that Canva shows you what your image will look like with that effect.

~

How to Group Text

To start off, let's group some text. As you can see from my image, I used the template as provided. This means one image, one frame, and one text. Click on your text, then click the "copy" button to create a second option. Then edit that text to something new. For this design, I'll make it my name. Now, click outside the box and drag until it highlights ALL of the elements. A new button "group" will appear. Click that and we're good to go.

Now, all of that text - The Bright Side Brigade, and Elaine White - are linked to that white square. By clicking the corner circle, you can resize that entire selection to whatever size you like. See below. A handy addition to Canva is that it will automatically show you when you've reached the centre of your image, by displaying non-intrusive lines that disappear once you release your resize/selection.

      

As you can see, changing the size can completely change the look of your design. Say that I'm super happy with how it looks, I can click the download button to save it. It will auto-save to your Computer "download" folder.

Now that I've done that, I want to make a new poster. I can go back to the beginning and start a new design. For now, I'm going to keep this one and delete the text "group" and change the image to keep it simple.

As you can see, I've simply changed the image, and chosen a new text template "Certificate" - now I can start customising it. By changing the text words, resizing so that the text takes up more space, I can create a whole new poster. But I'm not going to stop there. I've changed the top font to something more my style, now I want to add a background.

I go to the background tab and choose one that I like. This time, I'll choose one that is a purple dimple (Second down in my screenshot)

Now, I want this purple dimple to be black. So, I click on my image and drag it down so that I can see what's behind it. Then I click the purple dimple and choose the light grey option (the one just above white) from the colour chart.

Then I just have to move my image back and make a small adjustment so that you can see the background through the image. This means adjusting the transparency to 65%. But, that's not all I want to do. Now, I want to add some sort of design, to make it a bit more elegant. I've chosen to search for a "flower" element. Canva is very transparent about what elements you pay for and which are free. I'm going to scroll through the results to find a free option.

Now, I've chosen my flower, adjusted the size and resized my font to allow it all to fit nicely.

I love the design, so I download it. But, I want to make a new poster for a new series, while saving THIS one for later, in case I want to come back and reuse it for another book, or in case I have a title change. But, at the same time, I want to keep some elements of this design.

The easiest way to keep this design while being able to use it for another project is to make a copy. Go to File, click "make a copy" and an identical design will open in a new tab. Voila!

Here, for the new design, I'm going to delete EVERYTHING, and start from scratch.

~

For this design, I want to make a collage of images, but I also want to make it for my 6 book series: Decadent. So, I'm going to want SIX identical designs, with only the title changed. First, I want a layout that I like, so I click "Element" and choose "Frame":

I'm going to pick a split design, because I want one image and one place for text in each picture. So, I click the design I want, and it appears in my blank template. I only have to resize it to fit the full template space and then I'm ready to add my elements. First, an image and some text.

Now, I've got quite a few images already left over from my old project and I don't need them here, so I'm going to delete them - this will NOT make them disappear from my other design, nor will it mean that I can't adjust that design again later without uploading the image first. All images already IN your designs remain there and on the server, but if you delete them from your design and change your mind long after the "undo" button is no longer an option, then you will need to add it back in again.

To delete an image, simply go to your Uploads tab, and hover over the image. You'll see a little i icon in the bottom corner. Click that and then choose "trash". All done. Now it's time to upload new images for the new poster design.

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By clicking the Text tab, and then "add subheading" I can add unformatted text and choose the font from the list provided. I'll use this text for my quote. But I'm going to use a vector for my title/author name. To do this, I simply created the text in a blank white template, saved it, and used LunaPic to make the background transparent. I'll add this transparent vector to my design just as if it was any other image, in the uploads section.

A transparent vector CANNOT by treated like any other image on Canva. It can't be inserted into a frame-template, and you'll get a warning message that it can't be used like another image every time you click on it. It's a small annoyance but one that is worth remembering.

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I've chosen a frame-template that is square, with a square cut out, so when I choose a background image that will appear as a square frame. I'm going to choose a background image that is like marble, and pick a colour from the actual image so that they match/contrast.

Once I've put it all together, I want to make a copy, so that all six for my series will be the same. Instead of making six different files for all six books of my series, I want to keep them in one place. So, I'll go for the other "copy" option that Canva offers: making a second page.

To do this, there's a simple image of a page at the side of the image, as well as the more obvious "add a new page" button beneath it. Either one of these will do, but "add a new page" will appear blank, while the double-page image will create an exact copy of what I've already got on my screen. That's the one I want for this design.

Now, I just delete the vector for book 1, replace it with the vector for book 2, change the image and the background colour, and change the quote. Simple! And repeat until all six books are done.

Now that all six posters are complete, there are a few options for saving -

  1. save as a zip file
  2. save an individual page at a time, by specifying that page number
  3. saving as a PDF

Saving as a PDF is a great option, if this is now a poster project but one that will be printed, or one that you're going to use it for an online website or promotional material. Saving as jpgs or png are better for poster options.

~

So, that's Canva. I know it looks complicated, but it takes me less time to whip up a poster on Canva than it does on PicMonkey - old or BETA version. It just takes time and understanding what aspects you need to access and which ones you don't need to use. And, if in doubt, use the search option!

Now that I've shown you about, I'm going to show you what can be done with Canva. These are some of my favourite mock-covers and posters that I've made with Canva. These are the ones that took the most time, the most effort, and made the most of the features available on Canva.

And, yes, I made this collage in Canva. As a P.S. let me just say that the first cover, Moirai, was my favourite to make, because the split picture is actually a template provided by Canva. You can insert either three different images or add the same image into all three slots.

If you do the latter, as I did, then there's this really cool feature that helps you line up the images so that they match perfectly - double click the center image and get it lined up to where you want it. Then release it, double click the first image and as you begin to move it, you'll see it line up with the center image. Keep going until they match perfectly (you'll see a slight blur until it matches) and then you release that image and do the same for the third image. In the end, as I have, you'll have a perfectly matched image across three lines.

~

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text 2018-10-10 11:30
Facts About Me: Project-Get It Done

As a reader and writer, I'm always facing some deadline or other. I don't always make them. My worst failures are not completing my Netgalley list (which is now at 300+ books) in a timely manner, and not finishing my Devereaux Case Files series. The latter is especially frustrating because I have books 1-9 complete, with book 10 started, and I haven't touched book 10 in 5 years, even though it's the last book in the series.

Now, though, I have different plans for that series, so it's not so awful.

My Netgalley list...well, there's no accounting for that. At first, there were just too many good books and not enough time. Then I spend nearly 6 months either sick myself or with family having serious medical issues. That was unavoidable. The other 6 months that I could have spent catching up were an especially amazing writing-sprint for me, that I just couldn't, as an author, ignore.

But, I have plans. I always have plans, I know. But these are plans in writing.

Does that make a difference?

Well, to me it does. I'm a list maker. And I can't abide having a list with things that aren't complete. But, I also can't abide having a list with a mess of crosses, marks, and notes on it, so I rewrite my lists often, to remind myself of what I've completed and what I haven't. The two best resources I've found are: Spreadsheets in OpenOffice, and Wunderlist, which is amazing.

~

Wunderlist ~ I find this amazing for a few reasons:

  • I can make numerous lists, which can have numerous items on them.
  • I can make folders, to bundle together appropriate lists which can be minimised or maximised to keep things neat.
  • I can send my lists to my e-mail!! I can even give access to other people, by adding their e-mail address to an approved list. Or I can save it to an online storage account.
  • You can not only sort your lists alphabetically or by creation date, but you can also move them manually, by pressing and holding then dragging them into position. Great for those last minute changes.
  • the whole point of the list is that it's on-the-go and that no matter how many versions you have (phone, tablet, laptop) it will sync between all of them. I can carry it around on my phone or tablet, in my bag, or I can sit at my laptop working and make adjustments when necessary.
  • there's also the accessory factor - it comes with various backgrounds that you can choose, but I prefer to keep things clean and simple with a black wooden board style.

~

Spreadsheet ~ my favourite functions are:

  • sorting. I sort in a dozen different ways, and I never end up with jumbled information or incorrect formatting.
  • highlighting is so helpful for those "urgent" tasks, and you can see it at a glance.
  • the options are endless: being able to add/delete columns, rows; moving information with a simple copy/paste; and being able to print it all at the touch of a button.

~

This year - 2018/2019 - I plan to hold myself far more accountable for my time. I've taken a lot of time away from my Netgalley list to get a mountain load of writing done, but that means that one of my tasks had totally fallen by the wayside. For the next year, I'm doing something radical - moderating my time.

It might sound simple and logical, because it is, but I've never been someone who works to a timeline, a deadline or a schedule. I'm a pantser for a reason.

This past month, I've taken on the arduous task of filing through ALL of my books - from paperback, Kindle purchases, Kobo buys, all my e-books, and all of my Netgalley books - to create a list that includes them ALL. I even went through and read the blurbs of all my Amazon buys, to make sure that I really wanted to keep them, because I was an obsessive one-clicker for freebies back when I got my first Kindle. I managed to delete over 2000 books between those on my Kindle and my hard drive, from other suppliers. After that, I wrote them ALL into a spreadsheet - title, series, page count/word count. I have a tick column for those I've read, and one tick column for my Netgalley approved books, to keep them visible.

My next task is to actually read them. One by one, I plan to work my way through what has become 4017 books. Considering some of them are series of 20+ books, that's not so bad. At least if I don't like the series, I can avoid reading the next 15 books. lol. Obviously, I won't be reading them all in one year, but if I can manage to read nearly 300 books a year, it should only take 13 years to read them...*sigh*

Wish me luck!

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text 2018-10-03 11:30
Facts About Me: Re-Branding

You'll probably have noticed by now that I tend to re-brand a few of my posters/mock covers every other year or so. As I was saying to someone recently, this is for two reasons:

  1. I see what works and what doesn't. I always like to give a theme/brand at least 6 months to take effect before I decide whether it's working or not.
  2. Refreshing. Sometimes, posters get a bit tired and old. They stop having an effect, they stop intriguing readers, and you have to try something a little different just to keep the growth.

I also have a few goes at creating a brand for the book before it's ever submitted to my publisher. I do this by creating mock covers, which I use in Calibre to create e-books of my WIP's. That way I can upload them to my Kindle app and read them "as a reader" and do some proper editing and note taking, before doing the final edit. As I've said in previous posts, I can edit a book anywhere up to 20 times before sending it to the editor, so it's handy to have a mock cover to test out, every time I upload the new version. I look at how it appears on my Kindle app, how the colours appear, whether I get bored of the image, and how easy the text is to read. This is all important to consider for the final cover, but also for the teaser posters. I always try to link my mock covers and teaser posters into one brand, so that the mock covers - when the final book has been published - can be used as teaser posters, which means they're not going to waste.

So, there's a lot to consider when it comes to branding a book. It's not just about the appearance, it's also about the relevance of the brand/image to the book, the themes of the book, the 'vibe' of the book, the genre, even the characters. And it all comes together into something that has to 100% represent the book, in the end.

Which is why I often rebrand. Sometimes a new book is added to the series that adds a new element, or I find a new "perfect" font or image that just is the book, perfectly. Mostly, I try to keep the brand the same, even if I end up completely remaking all of my teaser posters - something I'm doing, right now. For instance, I've always used "storytelling" images for the Decadent series, the Cacodemon trilogy and for The Trade. I've always used military themed or male portrait close-up images for Forged in Fire, and I've always had a chess theme for The Royal Series, and a professional, businessman theme for Following Orders. The Cellist and Clef Notes have always been music related. You can see that that has never changed, no matter how many times I've rebranded the teaser posters. These are the specific "brand" for those books, even if the theme and style of the posters changes.

The reason for my most recent change is simple. Instagram. Instagram prefer square images, and because of the changes to the Later app (which I use to schedule my Instagram posts) you can now auto-post any square image. So, to make my life easier, I've adapted all of my previously portrait posters into square images. But, you can't just crop them. The images and text don't always line up, and sometimes they look really weird, or they cut out the previous "brand" theme. To make them look professional, I decided to remake them entirely. With new images, new quotes, and a new look.

Canva, was another reason for the change. Since I started using Canva to make my images, (you can find the How To Use Canva post here) I found that once you make one poster, say the Instagram template, you can "copy" that into a second page in the same document. And you can have 30 pages in one document. So, even for my longer series like Decadent - which is 6 books in total - I can make ALL of my teasers for those books in one document, making 5 posters for each book without having to leave the page, without having to remember what font I used, what size it was, or anything. I was bale to simply copy the first poster, change the text, change the image, and move the elements around until it looked good, and them move on to the next. Then, once I was finished, I could download ALL of the posters at once, into a single zip file. It was so much easier than creating one image at a time in Picmonkey, which was my old method.

~

Here, I'm going to show you some images that I've changed this year. You'll probably be able to see for yourself that they're clearer, easier to read, and have a greater visual impact.

Before

After

~

Sometimes, rebranding is a matter of making your life easier rather than changing something for the sake of changing it. So, always take a look at your promo. If YOU get bored of seeing the images, of reading the same quotes from your books over and over again, then your readers will be bored too. So change it up. Changing your quote is fine, but remember that your regular followers/readers will have associated the image/style with your previous quote, so if they see the exact same poster, they'll assume it's the exact same quote. So it might be better to just redo the entire poster.

And remember to keep track of your results. You'll see from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter insights what posters work, what times they have their best effect, and whether those insights match the results of your sales/link clicks (for links such as SmartURL). Adding those together will let you know when your posters work, and which ones you need to fix.

~

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text 2018-09-26 11:30
Facts About Me: Prologues and Epilogues

I recently saw an author friend post about a complaint made in a review of one of their books - the reader hadn't read the Prologue, and complained that an important aspect of the plot hadn't been explained. But, as the author noted, that plot point had been properly explored IN the Prologue.

Another author did a poll about Prologues, and I couldn't believe the amount of people who said they didn't read them.

Crazy!

I mean, Prologues are the foundation of a book. They're there for a reason. If there is a Prologue in a book, then of course you're going to miss something important if you don't read it. I'm guessing this is the reason that a lot of authors and readers don't like Prologues. They don't like the thought that they *have* to read the Prologue to understand or set up the story/characters. But, heck, if it's there and you don't read it, then you're setting yourself up for some serious confusion. An author can choose not to use them, but if it's necessary and if it's a better way of understanding the plot, then USE IT!

(The same goes for Epilogues, but I'm going to focus on the Prologue issue, for now)

Don't be afraid of using a Prologue, just because some of the Big 5 claim that you *shouldn't* have one. Don't let them dictate what you do or don't do. If you book tells you that it needs a Prologue, then for all that is holy, put one in!

I can give countless examples of books that didn't have Prologues, but which needed them. I read one recently. You want to know why? Because there was a MASSIVE timeline gap between the start of Chapter 1 and halfway through. It didn't work, because after one scene in Chapter 1 it switched to a few years later, which was a timeline that it followed for most of the rest of the book. Now, if that first scene had been a Prologue, I would have been mentally set up to expect a huge change between that and Chapter 1's timeline, and or character POV. Instead, I was disorientated. Which wasn't necessary. But, the author made the choice to not use a Prologue, when it would have felt natural.

I, myself, use them all the time. I mean ALL the time. I've used Prologues 5 times, and Epilogues 9 times, which just shows how important I find both of them. And don't even get me started on how many are in my WIP's. I'm such a firm believer in using both, to proper advantage, that you'll find them in so many of my books that, be warned, if you skip them, NOTHING will make sense.

Why? Because sometimes it's important to refer to past events to explain what happens next. Or to show an event through one character's POV, especially if that character doesn't give their POV in the rest of the book. It's a great divider between what was and what will be.

Wikipedia describes Prologue as:

"an opening to a story that establishes the context and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information."

So, if you have a past event, a little detail that is going to be vitally important later, a minor character death that will spur on future events, or anything that you think the reader needs to know to understand your character, the plot, or to help them feel something for a brand new character, then don't shy away from putting it into a Prologue.

 

~

 

Here, I'm going to show you how I've used Prologues in my own books. I'll give a sample of the first sentence (if appropriate) and explain how it refers to the future events of the book, and why it couldn't be included in the main text.

 

The Chosen: from the Black Magic Anthology

 

The Prologue takes place in 2021, exploring a date night for MC River that goes drastically wrong, when the world is inundated by creatures from Hell, and other worlds. Chapter 1, after that, takes place 6 weeks later, once the world has completely changed. This was important, because I didn't want to describe the world changing, or show the apocalyptic stuff that could so easily be described in half a page. Instead, I used a Prologue to divide the two events clearly.

 

Underneath It All: Decadent, Book 4

 

In the Decadent series, I actually used the Epilogue in the same way as a Prologue (and the same argument applies for an Epilogue - which shows what happens weeks/months/years after 'The End') Book 4 was the exception, because it was the last book in the series that was about one individual couple. The following two books in the series bring everyone together.

Here, I used it to show an important event in Giovanni's life - leaving the mental hospital, after a schizophrenic episode, and returning to his college life. I had to show it in the Prologue, because I wanted to show the immediate effect and how he felt about his recovery, but I didn't want it to become depressive. Instead, Chapter 1 jumped forward 3 months, to give him time to recover from that episode, from being in the institute, and to show his growth after his treatment.

 

Following Orders

 

This book began with an action scene, which is unusual for me. My books were, until this point, all contemporary romance. But, the MC in this story is a bodyguard, and I wanted to show some real action and show what his job entailed, before delving into the romantic storyline that wouldn't see him really *being* a bodyguard again until nearly halfway through. This was important to show the relationship between the MC Christian, and his boss, Bobby, to explain why he would turn around and do something so out of his comfort zone later in the book.

 

Forged in Fire

 

This was a hard book to write, because it was all about the civilian partner of a war veteran. It was all in Innes' POV and, for that, I had to show what it was like for him to say goodbye to his partner, Arash, one more time. It's supposed to be his last tour, he was already supposed to be retired, and I wanted to show how tired he was of the process after decades of enduring it in silence. This was important, because what came next was Arash being taken captive by the enemy insurgents, while on tour. To make the reader really understand the guilt, the fear, and the regrets that plague Innes throughout the story, I needed to show their goodbye from six months earlier. The impact came in the goodbye, and without it, the rest of the story wouldn't have been so effective.

 

A Royal Craving: The Royal Series, Book 1

 

Spencer was the central character in The Royal Series, and he had a complex story to tell. As a human in a world ruled by vampires, I wanted to show just how human he was, that he had dreams and hopes and aspirations. That he was linked to the supernatural in a way all of his own, through the prophetess, who tried to guide him to his future.

Here, I started the Prologue in 2091, when Spencer was just fourteen years old, because I wanted to show just long he held onto his dreams, how long he worked hard and fought for what he wanted. When Chapter 1 picks up, he's five years older, wiser, and is one step closer to his future.

 

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text 2018-09-19 11:30
Facts About Me: No Writer Trackers for This Author

That's right. You read it correctly. While there are millions of authors out there who provide you with a nifty little tracker on their sidebar or Facebook page or whatever platform they use, to tell you how far they are into their 50, 70, 90k novel, you'll never find me using them.

Why?

Well, because they would be pointless. I don't write to a word count. I don't sit down and write a plot idea, then come back and say "Yes, this one will be 90k words and no more!" I can't do that. I can sit and look at a one line story prompt and write almost 100k for it. Or, I can have 20 pages of notes for a story and only write a 20-30k novella. It all depends on what the characters tell me. One time, I wrote a book that was 60k, but when I came back to it months later for a round of simple edits, I began picking it to pieces because I didn't like it. It ended up at 105k, because I added so much new content and the characters had more to tell me.

I will never be able to sit down and say "I'll write 2000 words today" because that's not how I work. I'm a pantser. A fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, who sits down and can write one sentence in a week, or I can churn out nearly 30k in just 7 days. And I've done both.

Though I know the other process works for some people, it's not for me. I can't constrict my story or my characters by fitting them into a predefined word count. I can't force myself to sit and write X amount of words a day/week, when I know that's not possible.

I'm sick. There's a truth for you. My immune system has been compromised for 15 years now, and that's never going to change. I have too many medical conditions, including chronic fatigue. So, why would I add more stress and pressure onto my life - when I already have quite enough, thank you - just to meet some predetermined word count that might not even end up being any good? Why force myself to write say 5000 words a week, if I have to come back in a month's time and rewrite them all because I wrote them when I wasn't connected to the story or when I was feeling to sick to make any sense?

No. For me, I need to write when I'm *into* the story. When it's all new and exciting and I'm not quite sure what's going to happen next. Because, the minute I know what's coming, I lose interest in the plot and the story and I drag my heels, looking for any excuse not to finish. Or, sometimes I'll get to the end of a story and just...stop! Stop before the ending, because I don't want it to end and because once it's done I'll have to move on to do something else.

It's not easy being a writer. It's not easy to always hope and pray that your next idea is the golden ticket. The one that will be *it*. The story that makes your career, makes you a household name, makes you the big bucks, while also being a story that speaks to you and your readers. That's A LOT of pressure! And we put it on ourselves. But we also have readers desperately waiting on the sidelines with grabby hands for the next book. We have parents, spouses, family, friends, kids, colleagues, asking when the next one is coming out, what we're writing now, when we're going to hit the jackpot. So we have outside pressure too.

With all of that, why do we seek out a million other ways to add pressure onto our already sagging shoulders? Why confine ourselves to a timetable, a timeline, a word count, when writing is meant to be FUN! Writing is meant to be a release of the voices inside our heads. It's meant to be that one selfish thing we're allowed to immerse ourselves in - to create new worlds, to create the ideal versions of ourselves, to give our imaginary selves the perfect everything that we never had because life isn't really like that.

I'm all for accomplishing a goal I've set myself, and they're not always easy, but to me, finishing a book is accomplishment enough. Why should I celebrate every thousand words written? Can't I just be happy that I. Did. That. instead of pushing myself to do it 9.5 seconds?

Writing is meant to be a passion.

When did we turn it into work?

 

~

 

If you happen to be one of those people who thrives on a goal set and accomplished, then you might find these free tools useful:

TracyLucas.net

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