Happy Independence Day!

Even if Americans can’t all agree on values, priorities, or who’s right (clearly: ME), I still have hope for a brighter future for our nation.

America has made me what I am today and, for better or worse, she’s my home.

In honor of the holiday, here’s my recording of the Star Spangled Banner from last year. (I’m not much better now.)

P.S. It was originally broadcast live. NOT the culmination of clips of 25 million different takes.

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A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers Trying To “Establish A Social Media Presence” Part 6

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Bonus  | Part 6

Part 6: Videos – YouTube+

Note: I know I’m talking about YouTube, just days after the San Bruno attacks. My heart goes out to those affected by the attacks.

I’ve talked about a LOT of social media forms. You might have wondered what could POSSIBLY be next?

Google+ or LinkedIn (Nah, although, I do cross-post my blog over there, for people who prefer those social media forms, they don’t seem active enough)

Goodreads? No, although, I’m there and in a few book clubs.I mostly use it to keep a presence, and stay accountable for my book-reading goals.

I’m pretty sure you’re all thinking “Um, Morgan, I think you’ve gone seriously overboard on this social media thing…” and you’re COMPLETELY right.

Today, though? Today, I’m going to be talking about VIDEOS. Both at Youtube and in other social media forms.


 

YouTube

YouTube is second only to Netflicks in using up bandwidth on the internet. It’s huge.

What’s more? Videos go viral all the time. New ones, old ones, quirky ones, it’s hard to know what’s going to be popular.

So, how do you get that to work for you as a writer?

I have a YouTube channel [Subscribe Here!] and, as I say in my episodes, it’s “my online blog, in video format.” So, if you’d rather listen to me ramble while doing other things, you totally can.

How To Start A YouTube Channel

A video channel should be approached like a website.

  • Pick a theme and stick with it
  • Pick an update schedule and stick with it
  • Pick a format and stick with it

(noticing a trend here?)

Step One – Check out the other Writer Vloggers

See what else is out there, see what other writers are doing, see if there’s a niche you can fill or a format you prefer for getting the information.

It’s hard to establish quality content if you don’t know what sort of options there are and what formats appeal to you.

Here’s a list of the top 15 from The Write Life.

Step Two – Set-up To Film A Vlog

Necessary equipment:

  • camera
  • microphone
  • a youtube account
  • preferably some WiFi to upload this thing, cause videos are large

Beyond that, all I use is a Logitech HD 1080p USB camera and 2 umbrella lights – all birthday presents from family – pictured above. Oh, and MS Paint.

Equipment to up your game:

  • umbrella lights
  • a webcam that isn’t built into your computer
  • a quiet space
  • video editing software
  • a microphone (maybe with pop filters!)
  • interesting-yet-not-distracting background (clean up trash, dirty clothes)
  • makeup – maybe even some if you’re not femme presenting. Minimalist suggestions are:
    • foundation to even out skin tone and get rid of shine
    • mascara to make the eyes pop
    • a touch of lip color, to define lips

Step Three – Filming

If you’re using a phone, TURN IT SIDEWAYS. No, really. Please.

I made that mistake my first time and now, for eternity, (or until I rerecord it) I’ll have those stupid black bars to my left and right–or worse, that double-image, zoomed in blur beside me.

  • 5-12 minutes is a standard video length. People have short attention spans.
    • If you have more, cut it into 2 parts! (Or more!)
  • Keep to the same format
  • Look the camera in the eye when you can try not to look like you’re reading your blog post. *looks around innocently*

I like to do 2-5 takes and just roll with the last take. I’m planning on experimenting with video editing software after I move at the end of the month.

A lot of the quality vloggers you see will have done several takes and will clip them together. BUT. They’ll change the camera angle between takes, so you get the feel of ‘time passing’ or something. It’s a format that seems to be popular, plus, it allows you the ability to cut out any dead-air time.

Step Four – Post-Processing

The easiest bit of post-processing I do is take a couple trial photos before I start my video.

Trial pictures let me

  • checks the lighting
  • check the umbrellas aren’t in the camera
  • check I don’t have food on my shirt
  • And? Allows me a couple photos to add my Vlog title to.

I literally open them in MSPaint, Impact size 48 or whatever the title on one side of me, and roll.

Yes, YouTube will give you freeze frames as the preview image, but usually, they’re the most awkward poses I’ve ever seen. Luckily, there’s a handy-dandy “upload preview” button so you can toss your new image in there.

This is when you’d cut together all those different takes from step 3. Maybe add some background music if you like that feel. Maybe just an intro bar or two of notes.

youtubeUploadButton

Step 5 – Uploading To YouTube

youtubeScheduleWhen I upload my videos, I make sure to click the drop-down and select ‘Schedule’. Once you start uploading, you can’t switch and the default goes live as soon as you hit publish.

I don’t want my videos to upload the second I’m done prepping them, I want them to post in the mornings, not somewhere between 10:30pm and 1am the night before the blog post goes live.

This is where you can add that title-added preview image.

Things I like to do with my videos:

  • Schedule them
  • Add preview image with my title on it
  • Add Tags
  • Add the video to my playlist, so people can subscribe to that [like here!]
    • You can have different playlists on the same channel
      • book reviews
      • writer tips
      • guitar playing
      • life updates
      • etc
  • Type up a short twitter-worthy shout-out to draw people in (with hashtags)
  • Give links to my other social media and the original blog post in the ‘about’ field

Things I’ve been testing recently.

  • I found the ‘default settings’ for uploads last week, where you can pre-load all your tags, all your repeated ‘about’ information, etc, so you don’t have to remember what tags you used last week.
  • How do you find out what tags you should use?
    • check out a popular vlogger who shares a lot of the same subject matter
    • in your browser settings, have ‘developer options’ turned on
    • hit F12 to view the page’s source code
    • hit ‘ctrl-F’ to open up search
    • type “tags”
    • copy-paste the list after the word [ make sure it seems to be a list of usable tags, the word may be in the source code more than once. If it’s not what you’re looking for, hit enter to move to the next entry.]

SnapChat and Instagram and Facebook

I’ve already talked about Instagram, but why is SnapChat even on this list?

For those who don’t know, SnapChat lets people message each other and the message immediately is deleted after they view it. It warns you if the other person screen-shots the message.

So, how does this grow your social media presence?

I personally don’t do it, and it may be more useful for artists, but you can upload STORIES. These are images, text, or VIDEOS that are shown to anyone OR everyone on your list–and they stay visible for a day.

If you have a following, uploading a ‘story’ or two a day can be a good way to interact and form a more personal feeling connection.

Instagram also allows stories to be shared and these are promoted posts.

And Facebook? Facebook LOVES videos. Unlike blog links, or worse PATREON links, Facebook doesn’t try to hide these as much.


YouTube and Facebook Live Video

These intimidate me, but they are growing in popularity and are given priority viewing on Facebook. If you find a time that’s good for a lot of your followers (plus, it can be viewed after the fact), it’s a great way to re-engage with your followers and be given priority viewing on both social media sites.

If you’re brave enough.


Putting yourself out there, creating content, and recording your image, voice, and thoughts for all of posterity is intimidating.

Every week, I strive to do a little better (or at least not worse) than the week before.


And that’s it.

The introduction to social media types. ALL OF THEM. (Or at least a good, wide-spectrum of them.)

If there’s any I skipped that you’d like me to talk about, feel free to ask in the comments.

If there are any tips you’d like to share, feel free to reach out!

Bonus: A Starter’s Guide For Fiction Writers to Trying to “Establish a Social Media Presence” Part 5a

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Ch@ractR

In my previous Starter’s Guide posts, I talked about establishing a presence, and how to get started on some of the well-known website: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit.

Today, I’m going to be talking about one of the less mainstream social media websites. It just got out of Beta but is growing fast: Ch@ractR at charactrRealms.com

This is a website for writers, artists, and fans of all kinds to share stuff.

Only catch? You can’t do it as yourself.

The premise of Ch@ractR is that you’re posting or following FICTIONAL CHARACTERS!

charApril1

Types of characters:

  • Established worlds
    • Disney
    • Harry Potter
    • etc
  • Created worlds
    • a book you’re writing/wrote
    • characters in your head
    • your DND game
    • etc

As usual, you create an account, with whatever username you want. Brand consistency can be useful if you’re planning on adding stuff you want associated with your name. Otherwise, (I can’t believe I’m saying this), you can use a different username.

When you do post, it will always be under [CharacterName]+[a random number]. Once you’ve posted to a character’s page once, your number will remain consistent.

But does everyone know everything you post? Not necessarily.

Privacy Options

  • Anonymous
    • You always post with the same number, but they are not tracked back to a profile, just a page that shows all of your posts for that character
  • Obscure – Custom
    • You DO link back to a profile page, but only for the selected characters. And you can set character sets to be invisible to each other.
      • For example, if you post cosplay pics of you as Disney character and you write dark memes about Marvel characters, you can self-define the groups. So, people following your Disney postings don’t see your Marvel postings on the profile page
    • You can share a custom profile with each set, linking external works, etc
  • Public
    • All posts and characters are shown on your profile page

Every character gets a new profile. And then you can add to their MYTH.

Types of MYTHS:

  • Selfies
    • Original fan art!
    • Cosplay pics
  • Diary Entries
    • Write as if you’re the character
  • Memes
    • You know what these are
  • Flash fiction
    • Add to their story

Then, the other people on the site vote.

Voting Options

  • ‘true-cannon’
    • This is for myth additions that ADD to the world the character is in
  • ‘true-multiverse’
    • This is for myth additions that don’t work in the original world but are AWESOME for the character, so could work in an alternate version.
  • ‘cute’
    • Basically ‘liking’, but not feeling that they add to the character
  • ‘vicious rumors’
    • Things that run counter to everything you believe to be true about this character. CLEARLY, made up by the character’s enemies.

For the VERY best posts? No matter the format, they go from the character’s MYTH page to their PROFILE page. And your post-name gets a star next to it, proving that you’ve permanently contributed to that character.

But how do they judge the BEST posts? Some characters have more of a following than others. They do it based on the percentage of active users following that character.

NOTE: There IS a review committee to try and validate the characters. Reports of ‘fake characters’ created to harass real-life people are taken VERY seriously.


Are you on Ch@ractr?

Who are your favorites? Are there any obscure ones you’re just waiting to go viral?

If you’re a public account? Share it an let me follow you!

Happy April 1st!

 

So You’re In the Editing Doldrums Again? These 5 Sites Can Help

After you’ve written your novel and revised the BLEEP out of it, one thing remains:

To edit your manuscript!

 For those of you who are confused:

Revision worries about the characters, the plot, the setting, and the pacing.
In other words: The Big Picture. 
Editing is all about word flow and grammar.
In other words: The Details.

Here are the top sites I use when editing my novel.

5 Sites That Can Help You Edit Your Manuscript

1. Do you need a checklist to even know where to start?

One of the most useful checklists I’ve found was at theWriteLifeLogo:

It talks about standard grammar mistakes, crutch words, and bad habits.

Now, not all of the things it suggests cutting need to be deleted. Adverbs (often words ending in -ly) and passive voice both have their place, but cutting down on the instances of those things can make your writing stronger.

2. Do you need help replacing your crutch words?

Try your basic, friendly, online thesaurus for help at:

Thesaurus.com

When you’re trying to replace a weak adverb or some passive-voice with a stronger verb, but you can’t think of any? Thesaurus time! (I have to confess, I actually just keep this open on a tab when I’m writing OR editing.)
thesaurus.com

3. Do you need more accurate terms?

Sometimes, the history of a word can help you find a better term. Just look it up on:

Etymology is the study of language. So, this site tells me where the word came from, similar words in different languages, and words that were used for this term in the past.

So…

When you’re looking for a word that doesn’t sound so modern, so common…

Maybe you’re coming up with a name for a different type of magic?

Try looking up a root word related to the concept you’re attempting to convey and see if a historical version of the word will work. I’ve used this for magical methods, city names, and more.

etymonline.com

4 & 5. Do you want to have your prose analyzed?

After you’ve done what you can, it’s time to bring in the hired guns:

The Hemingway App and Grammarly

Confession? I’m cheap.

I use these tools for free, online. Which means, their use is a little more limited. They won’t analyze my entire manuscript, sometimes even a chapter is too long for them–maybe I need shorter chapters?

But, if I copy/paste a section at a time into the HemingwayApp website or into a new Grammarly document, they will both provide me with a rather comprehensive analysis of my writing. Hemmingway: checking for sentence complexity and word choice, Grammarly: checking, unsurprisingly, my grammar.

hemingwayApp

With both of these tools, they can only run their algorithms on your writing, they can’t judge its effectiveness, simply the way it adheres to the rules. Thus, some of the feedback should be ignored. But they do give you a good sense of what might make your sentences better. Plus, they make certain when you violate some grammar or writing guideline, you’re doing it on purpose.


With these 5 sites, you can be pretty sure by the time you’re done, that your polished draft is a clean copy, that is easy to read.

Just recognize they can’t actually make your story good,  you’ve got to do that on your own.

Link: Winterview with Me

To celebrate 13 weeks of winter, Hàlön Chronicles will be conducting one interview a week for 13 weeks. Join us on the hashtag #13Winterviews, or check out our right-side blog hop to sneak a peek at all the wonderful authors and artists I’ll be interviewing in the coming weeks. Hosted by: K. J. Harrowick Without…

via Winterview with Author Morgan Hazelwood — Daily Cup o’ Coffee