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Archive for January, 2011

Death and taxes, the two unavoidables in life. Thankfully there are people and web sites out there to help us slot all those numbers in the correct places on the correct forms and keep us from having to visit with a friendly IRS agent because we’ve gotten “creative” with the numbers. Here are 7 links to help you understand how to do your taxes:

  1. The IRS — this one seems rather obvious. It’s their forms, their rules, so it makes sense to check out their site for answers to our questions.

  2. Tax Advice for Writers by Bonnie Lee — simple to read and easy to understand with a great section on hobby-loss information

  3. A Fool And Her Money — depending on when you’ve started getting your tax-related material together, The Money Book may be more helpful for next year’s tax season, but it’s a resource worth investing in

  4. Tax Tips for Writers a guest post by Jessica Monday — more information on what can be used as a deduction including what can happen when you sell your house

  5. Tax Tips for Writers Freelance Income Reporting by Rachel Campbell — includes information on deductions and what forms writers need to fill out

  6. Tax Tips for Freelancers by Julian Block — a short, but excellent article on bad-debts that can’t be deducted

  7. Taxes and The Writer by Daniel Steven — information on accounting methods, types of income and forms, as well as another list of deductions

Doing taxes can be frightening and overwhelming, not to mention disappointing if you have to pay instead of getting a nice refund, but it’s unavoidable on The Road to Writing.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Besides checking with a good tax accountant, what other tips do you have for doing taxes?

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As I was test driving the Storybook software I downloaded a while back, trying to decide if it will be as good a writing tool as Scrivener, I suddenly discovered that I have no idea what the difference is between a major and a minor character. They’ve all just been characters, with the exception of the protagonist and antagonist of course. Yet I was being asked by this novel-writing software to decide who were major characters and who were minor characters in my book, Apprentice Cat. A little research later and I had my answer.

Minor characters are usually flat, two-dimensional characters. They are the ones who show up in a scene or two to help move the plot along, but don’t need a complicated back story. However, just because a character has a minor role over-all that does not mean the character can’t be memorable. Darcy Pattison suggests four great ways to help create memorable minor characters without having to round the character out.

  1. An ailment such as a cold
  2. An unusual role
  3. An unusual job
  4. Distinctive facial features

Major characters are well-rounded. They are the protagonist, antagonist and any other character that needs an in-depth back story in order to fulfill their role in the plot. Of course, rounding out a major character means giving your reader some back story and that can be tricky. Ronni Loren has some tips on how to “dish out back story in digestible bites” like using

  1. dialogue
  2. minimal flashbacks or memories
  3. character thoughts
  4. action in the story

Knowing how to create memorable minor characters while slowly rounding out major characters can be hard work, but it’s a task worth tackling for a great story on The Road to Writing.

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One thing I never really considered until recently was who I expected to read what I’ve written.  It didn’t cross my mind even when I was doing the Problogger Challenge last year.  I always wrote stories and articles I thought I would like to read.  That’s not a horrible way to write, but it makes marketing a bit more difficult.  After all, you wrote it so of course you’d like it.  The problem with that is that you are one person.  Not everyone is like you.  This is why it’s important to create reader profiles.

I found the simplest way to do this in the article “Make Writing Fun: Methods Monitoring Student Writing,” which is written for high school teachers, but I think it’s a great way for anyone to start profiling potential readers.  Think of someone you enjoy telling stories to.  Write down specifics about this person from reasons you enjoy telling your stories to them to reasons they enjoy listening to or reading them.  This gives you a very personal idea of who your potential audience is.

From there you can begin to imagine others who might enjoy your works.  I highly recommend Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone to help develop a rounded out profile of your general readership.  If you’d like to get just a little more creative by doing several individualized profiles you could try Darren Rowse’s style of telling a little story about each imagined reader and including a picture.

Some basic information to consider including in your reader profiles, however you choose to put them together, include:

  • Demographics
  • Financial situation
  • Needs and challenges
  • How they use the web
  • Motivations for reading your work
  • Experience with topic (especially needed for non-fiction)
  • Hopes and dreams

Knowing who you’re writing for can help refine your manuscript as well as make marketing to them simpler on The Road to Writing.


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