Watch Your Tone or Writers on Social Media

broken computerRecently, I told a fellow-writer after reading his Facebook posts, “So, is your goal to sell books?” Every post he hoped would create discussion turned toward an undesirable direction. He is learning what all authors struggle with on social media. What can they post that gets many responses without setting off hate bombs?

My husband, who is a writer, loves a good debate on FB. He enjoys discussing history and current events.  Lately, however his “friends” have reverted to name calling because he stood on the opposite side of an issue. The last draw was when a gentleman with a PHD in History refused to read a book my hubby suggested that explained a statement he’d made regarding American History. (I’m being vague to protect all parties.) Based on my husband’s post the “friend” stated my hubby wasn’t smart enough to teach him anything, referring to my college graduate hubby as dumb. (And no, my sweetie, did not defend himself.) Instead, with a heavy heart, he stopped posting. He plans to remove hate speech posts in the future.angry-woman

 

Another relatively innocent post ended with the “friend” getting on her discrimination soap box and insulting my husband unjustly. My daughter got offended with the way this individual demeaned her father. She made some strong points only to receive the same wretched hate speech in return. Broke my husband’s heart to see his daughter so upset and placing herself in the line of fire for her dad’s sake.

My point

Be careful what you post on social media. If you write non-fiction and a little controversy related to your book subject may up your readership, be careful. If you write fiction, I’d tread very lightly. This past presidential election found a few fiction authors being told by readers they’d never read another of their books. I heard of one reader who threw all the author’s books away because their political views were different.

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Why I avoid posting hot topics like the plague

Not only do I not want to lose readers, I find people pick up unintended tone. This same daughter reacted to a text message I sent her because she thought I was mad. I’d asked a question—no tone—just a question. I had to reassure her I wasn’t mad. I’ve read hastily written emails at work that captured an unintended attitude.

When I write my novels, I want my readers to sense a tone. The characters mood needs to be clear on the page. Readers need to experience the heroine’s angst toward a situation or the hero. It makes for great fiction.  However, that doesn’t always translate well in the world of social media. I don’t take hours and days to write and rewrite my blogs before I post.

Watch your words

An innocent statement about something on the news can explode into hundreds of angry posts from people who aren’t even friends on your page.  Because a friend of a friend saw the post and made a comment. This has happened to my husband a few times. He’d posted a comment on something in current events and after a few scathing commenters, he left the conversation. Two days later the debate continued on his page between his friends on opposite sides of the political arena and many people he wasn’t friends with on Facebook. He removed the post because the thread of words increased in tone and went to a dark place.

 Yes, I express my opinions

I have opinions on many things outside the writing world. Things I prefer to discuss or debate in person. Face to face, I can see their expressions and ask questions for clarification. I have lovely friends who disagree with me on various issues, not to mention family members. That’s fine. We share our thoughts on a given subject without resorting to vile name calling. I find I gain a deeper understanding of their position. Interesting food for thought.

But on social media the darts fly. They not only wound the heart but can destroy your book sales. How many celebrities, politician and even teachers have post inflammatory things online in the heat of the moment that ended their careers.

I’ve made a few errors in judgement in my wording on posts and had to eat crow. Not something I ever want to do again. To avoid the backlash, I don’t respond to posts that irritate me.  The more I respond to a friend’s posts the more posts I receive from that friend. Which is how the Facebook algorithm works. Negative attitudes and hurtful words don’t look very professional or welcoming to people checking out my page.  I want people to find my posts interesting and encouraging.

My goals for social media

  • Keep in touch with the people I care about: family. former classmates, friends far away, other writers.
  • Engage my readers with posts that are fun, informative and welcoming.
  • Pass on useful links.
  • Oh, and sell books. 😊

How do you engage with your followers on social media in a positive way? What subjects have your learned to avoid?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Does A Wedding Mirror Story Arc

This past Sunday was my daughter’s wedding. And as I mentioned in my last post, I would be laying my pen aside, but my mind would still be doing writerly things. Reflecting on the wedding, I found the day was a great analogy for story arc. Each part of the wedding and reception reflected how a story line grows in a novel.  As I smile thinking about the wonderful event on Sunday, I’ll share how I see the analogy and a few pictures not only to illustrate my point but also to share my joy.21314833_10214203649511292_4022649231922811820_n

Wedding theme

Today couples create a theme for their wedding that goes beyond colors. My daughter and her fiancé chose favorite things. Every part of the day a reflection of that choice.

(Photo of Cake Topper, table decorations and favors.)

Favorite superheroes cake topper. A CD of music representing their journey to marriage (Note the label looks like the one from Guardian of the Galaxy.) Favorite games in the table decorations.

Novels need a theme

Each novel we write must have a theme. Secrets and Charades’ theme: Your past does not have to determine your future.  New Duet has a similar message: leave the past behind. Writer’s weave the idea through the story from opening line to the end.

Novels can have settings that help carry the theme. My novels speak of new beginnings so the settings are opposite of the protagonist’s former lives.secret-charades-front-cover click here to order.

Wedding surprises and novel structure

My daughter and her husband wanted their guests to enjoy some of their favorite things. While the venue for their wedding and reception were typical, the whole day was uniquely their own.

The Bride and Groom represented the hero and heroine in the structure of a romance novel. Both have distinctive character qualities with their individual goals and desires. The wedding like a story arc has basic bones. The Bride and Groom enter a church or other setting where guests watch them say their vows. Everything beyond that is up for grabs.

Pam and Jon chose to have my niece perform the ceremony keeping it more of a family affair. The flower girl passed out flowers rather than sprinkling petals on the floor. And the ringbearer had a Chicago Bears Teddy Bear ring pillow to carry. There was a string trio, but the bride (to the surprise of her groom) entered to a recording of Somebody to Love, by Queen. The couple exited to Star Wars music after reciting traditional vows. Bubbles were showered on the couple who drove away in a classic 60s convertible.

Disasters a must

A microphone malfunction and the flower girl standing frozen in the aisle reminded me that stories must have a few disasters. Not necessarily an explosion but something to create tension. Perhaps the heroine can’t cook or the hero really isn’t very good at fixing things.

Unique elements

Our novels need to have unique bits that keep the reader engaged. A female doctor in the 1800s is unique but becoming a mail order bride is over the top. A wounded warrior after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan loses his leg in a motorcycle accident stateside which adds to his angst.

Unique elements for the decor : favorite superhero cake topper, party favors and a CD for every family of all the music representing their romance and each table had a different game for guest to play.

The wedding had a traditional photographer and a videographer but there was also a photo booth with props. A few added twists that spoke to the favorite things theme greeted guests at the reception. The table center pieces were games the guests were encouraged to play. Prizes were given to the first person at each table who won a game. The games were available to play all evening.

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Grandchildren engaged in a fun game.

Children’s games helped keep my grandchildren engaged, and many adults were loving the opportunity to play games rather than dance. All the games were ones Jon and Pam have enjoyed.  But the game curve intensified just like a plot twist. There were several pictures mixed into the decorations that represented favorite movies. There was a prize for the person who deciphered all the clues.

Plot Twists are a must to engage the reader

Twists are what make your story sing. Characters that aren’t who they seem, unexpected solutions and buried secrets. The protagonist doing what no one thought they could.

That brings me to my favorite part of the reception. My husband is not a dancer with a capital N. Pam wanted to do something unique for the father/daughter dance. So, for months they worked out the steps for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the musical Mary Poppins complete with straw hat, cane and umbrella. The guests were surprised and delighted.

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The Father/Daughter Dance gets a 10. I have no photos to share of the dance right now. But this unexpected twist is priceless.

As in a well-written novel there was a challenge to the plan. In this case on the dance floor. Jon had no idea what Pam and her father had planned, but he wanted to do something extra special as well. (Sound like a familiar plot twist.) His mother made him a coat like the one from Beauty and the Beast that he put on after the initial traditional first dance. Jon insisted this dance would be the best yet. (the challenge.)  He changed into the coat bowed and took her hand as they danced to Beauty and the Beast. After the lovely dance, Pam threw down the gauntlet (in a joking manner of course), and she and her father to quote Jon, “Smoked him.” Yet he had another surprise up his sleeve. As the applause died down the Bridal Party held up paddles with the number 10. Another awesome surprise. Laughter and more applause resonated around the room. The DJ in his 30 years had never seen both the bride and groom keep a surprise from each other. Again, unique things sprinkled in a story arc.

During the toasts Pam’s brother David, who is serving in the Army gave a toast via Facebook Live on his brother Nathan’s phone that was broadcast to the whole room. So cool. David also viewed the wedding ceremony from his brother’s cellphone. Again, a sweet surprise thanks to technology that intensified the emotion.

A great The End

The reception wound down and the couple headed out for their honeymoon.

In a romance novel, the couple struggles with and overcomes all the disasters and unexpected twists in the plot. They enjoy or work through all the surprises to reach their happily-ever-after whether that is a wedding, a honeymoon or a declaration of love. In my novels, the theme of putting your past behind has been resolved and a promising future loom. The reader like the wedding guests will talk about what they experienced for a long after The End.

Thanks for indulging my afterglow thoughts. Happy writing.

What events in your life were fuel for your story arc?