Five Practical Ways Writers Can Take Readers “Behind the Scenes”

Using Your Camera to Tell Your Book’s Story

Last week’s post highlighted ways your camera can help you become a better writer. Did you know that your camera–and the photos and videos you create with it–can also help you market your books ?

It’s not just that a well-placed photo can add visual interest to your web site, newsletter, or presentation, either (although adding visual interest is a definite bonus!) The right photos can help you tell the story of how a book came to be.



Why do you want to tell your book’s story? Internet marketing guru Terry Dean puts it perfectly:

OVERWHELM has become a constant in almost every market today. Your customers may say they want content, but they’re actually overwhelmed by all the voices, all the choices, and all the content that is already out there.

What they really want…is someone who they can plug into to guide them.

They want guidance and direction. And that requires not just more content, but also

And storytelling has been and always will be a major element in persuasion.”– Terry Dean, 7 Unique Ways to Create Money Making Emails…Even If You’re Not a Writer

You want to tell the story of your book because it will help readers understand why you wrote it. Telling your book’s story gives you a chance to show readers why you’re passionate about a topic. It also gives you a chance to connect with readers on a more personal level, as you show the steps that went into creating your book.

Think Ahead: What Story Do You Want to Tell?

When you’re ready to market your book, what story do you want to share with potential readers? What story will help them get excited about your book? What will make them curious to learn more? By thinking about these questions while you’re still working on the book, you can make sure you take the right shots during your writing journey. It won’t add much time now, but will save a lot of time later!

Not sure what kind of info will interest your audience? Read on! This infographic shows 5 ways that the photos you take now, long before you’re ready to sell your book, can help you tell an engaging story down the road, when you’re ready to go to market.


Your turn: What story do YOU want to tell about your current work-in-progress? Why? Do you want to help kids understand more about the scientific method? Do you want adult readers to gain a better understanding of a particular place or culture? Or maybe you simply want to spark curiosity and excitement! I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.


How Dreams Can Inspire Your Fiction Writing

Laura K. Deal is both a wonderful writer and a graduate of the Marin Institute for Projective Dream Work, and she combines these two sides of her life when she teaches classes such as Writing and Dream Symbols, which I attended a few weeks ago. In the class, we performed a series of writing exercises beginning with images and dream symbols.

The experience was unexpectedly powerful. By beginning with a piece of artwork and a handful of symbols from others’ dreams, I was drawn into a waking dream. My mind pulled together these seemingly unrelated pieces to create a new image: a hilltop garden with five paths radiating outward, a silent woman standing at the garden’s center, a storm brewing in the background.

Strange as it sounds, this image led me to a new understanding of the magic system in the series I’m working on currently: relationships between races, key characters, magical rules—all of these stemmed from a twenty-minute free write that had nothing to do with my story problem. Or at least, I didn’t think it had anything to do with my story problem, which was perhaps the point. I’m supposed to be trusting my intuition. When I did, intuition led me where I needed to go.

But enough about me—Laura can do a far better job of explaining dream work and its power to inspire. Enjoy!

laurakdeal Could you explain dream work to the uninitiated?

The kind of dream work, or dream reading, that I do is consciously projective. I help people explore the meanings of their dreams and the symbols within them while staying aware that everything I see as a possible meaning for the dreamer is a possible meaning for me, as I imagine the dream for myself. What I say might or might not resonate with the original dreamer. Only the dreamer of the dream can say with certainty what her or his dream means.

However, we tend to be blind to some layers of meaning in our own dreams because dreams come to help us become more conscious about our own lives and motivations, and I might not see the deeper meanings of my dream precisely because that information is still unconscious for me. So when someone offers projections on possible meanings that I might not have seen, sometimes I will get an “aha” moment that indicates we’ve touched on some truth. The magic of working this way is that I can do much of my own inner work on the imagined version of other people’s dreams, so we all benefit and become more self-aware.

Why would one try to interpret a dream?

In addition to uncovering hidden motivations and unconscious patterns, I’ve seen dreamers perceive situations in their lives in a whole new way, which is the first step toward bringing creativity to bear to solve what might have seemed an unsolvable problem.

Dream work has uncovered physical health problems for many people. I had a short dream a few years ago that had a profound impact on my understanding of my relationships with beloved relatives who were reaching the ends of their lives. That dream is still yielding new information for me. I know dreamers whose life paths have changed dramatically for the better because they followed advice they found in their dreams. Also, nightmares usually lose their terrifying quality when the symbols are explored, so it can be of great comfort to the dreamer to understand the symbolic meanings of a dream that on the surface appears horrifying.

You offer a workshop that weaves together writing and dream work. Could you tell us a little about how that works?

I’ve studied both fiction writing and dream interpretation for many years. I realized that they have important elements in common: they both emerge from the same creative space in our minds, and both rely on metaphorical imagery and metaphorical thinking. It seemed a natural progression to bring them together.

I use the same kind of writing prompts that I use in my regular writing classes to tap into the creative well within, but instead of words and phrases pulled out of magazines or books, I have participants use several dream symbols to write a dream. It reinforces the similarities between the waking dream (the work of fiction) and the sleeping dream, and it takes off any self-editing pressure the writer may have since a dream doesn’t need to have a coherent narrative.

Writing Prompt

Sound interesting? If you’d like to try using dream symbols to inspire your own writing, Laura has shared one of the exercises from her workshop to get you started:

Jot down six dream symbols you remember from your own dreams or dreams of friends, or pick six symbols from a dream dictionary, then take 10-15 minutes to weave the symbols together into a dream. The more we play with dreams and metaphors and associations as writers, the richer our fictional characters and worlds become.

You can also learn more about dreams, dream symbols, imagery, and metaphor at Laura’s First Church of Metaphor blog—a great site for creative inspiration.

If you try this prompt, why not share your experience or part of your “dream” in the comments? This is an exercise best done in community, so please share!

Finding Time for Writing…at the Wild Writers

This week I’m blogging about Finding Time for Writing: the Power of Small Assignments over at the Wild Writers—because heaven knows there’s not time for much else this week! Small assignments are the ONLY way I’m keeping my head in the writing game, so I don’t completely lose momentum by the New Year.

Here’s a teaser:

As I write this, I’m sitting in my living room before an undecorated Christmas tree, with my kiddo whistling Christmas carols as he puts together the Lego train that will circle the tree—and I’m coughing counterpoint to the music, sick with a nasty case of bronchitis that’s knocked me out for the past few days. The house is a mess, the presents aren’t wrapped, and there definitelyisn’t time to write.


Not exactly. That used to be my view of situations such as these…but since a dose of writing time is my best antidote for stress and overwhelm, I’ve got a few  tricks up my sleeves for sneaking in a bit of writing even when my world gets topsy-turvey.  Inspired by Heather Sellers’ Page After Page, here are some “small assignments”—writing tasks that take me anywhere from 5-55 minutes—that help me get my daily writing dose even during the craziest times of year. Hope they help you, too!

Click on over for 26 ideas on how to insert a little bit of writing pick-me-up time into even the craziest schedule.

:) Cheryl

cheryl snow

Resources: Writing Prompts

Looking for some writing prompts to get you moving today? Check out one of these fantabulous resources:

Scott Bridges

Do you use writing prompts? Why or why not?