Sometimes it good to remember stuff we've already been taught. Elementary, yes—but it's good to ponder the basics of novel writing. One: A sympathetic character that we come to know and care about. If readers simply don't care about your protagonist, they won't read on. Of course, there are some unlikable characters that are found in fiction, but the still must have a grain of sympathy to them, some good quality that keeps them from being 100% evil. Two: Conflict: what happen
Writers can get overwhelmed trying to find a new way to communicate the ordinary and everyday moments that make up life. Writers can get overwhelmed trying to find a new way to communicate the ordinary and everyday moments that make up life. As Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (verse 1:9) What’s a writer to do? First, don’t panic. True there is nothing new under
Writers, how do you get to know your characters? Readers can tell how well an author knows their characters, so you better polish your skills. Having a thorough knowledge of your book’s characters is imperative in writing fiction. You have to be true to the character you’ve created for their world to be believable. Some writers fill out long questionnaires about their character's history, likes, dislikes, friends, educations, etc. Some choose a personality type and research t
Dear writer, are you feeling burned out? Is your word count and productivity down? Do you want to beat your head against a wall to battle writer's block? Shake those blues, and concentrate on something other than your work in progress. Need some suggestions? (I thought you’d ask.) Take some photographs. Grab your camera and take a field trip to a local park, busy shopping area, town square. Let yourself focus on whatever catches your fancy. You may look back at your images an
Are you a weary writer in need of some advice? Writers and would-be writers are always looking for wisdom from those who’ve gone before us. I’ve assembled some thoughtful comments for you to mull over. Enjoy! Question: When is the best time to begin a writing career? Answer: "Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." ~Dr. Seuss Question: From where does our writing ability come? Is it inborn? Learned?
Answer: As Mother Teresa said, "We are all pencils
Last week we started discussing the writer's journey. I likened it to climbing up the side of a Colorado mountain. In my case, I had started on a path that began easily then got more difficult the longer I climbed. I believe that the uphill climb is similar to writing. I have a theory when it comes to pursuing publication: I believe that every writer can have a satisfying writing journey by following five guideposts along their way. The first guidepost we discussed was the ST
We enjoyed a warm winter day yesterday (65 degrees in beautiful Colorado!), and I dried my hair in the sun. Not exactly front-page news, but it was a moment that gave me fodder for writing novels. I’m of the no-moment-wasted camp of writers who tuck memories and ideas into my head like a robin picks up string and scraps for her nest. Drying my hair in the sun was a gift—time to sit and be still and enjoy a truly simple pleasure. The day captivated me with birdsong and sunshin
I know of authors who listen to certain soundtracks while they're writing to inspire them to write with emotion or to add authenticity to their story. But what I'm thinking of today are the sounds you hear while reading a book. It's important to incorporate sensory details (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) into a story to transport the reader. One of the details that I appreciate when I'm reading is narrative that conveys the sounds the characters are hearing. If the settin
Writers, do you keep a pretty-word file? Sometimes a description hits the spot exactly. When that happens in a novel I’m reading, I often go back, re-read, and savor the pretty words. I play word games by myself all day long. If I see/hear/smell/taste/touch something, I often try to come up with the best words to describe whatever it was I heard/smelled/tasted/touched. (Truly, there is silly, crazy, word-loving madness in my brain.) Here are some tidbits that may find their w
*This is part four in a series. View parts one, two, and three. If you've been following this series, are you understanding author voice a bit more? Author voice is the way in which an author tells a story: word and phrase choices, sentence and chapter length, and the author's distinct world view. I'd like to share a final author voice, from a novel I really enjoyed. Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate: A single drop of water changes the ocean. A noted colleague of mine once ass
*This is part three in a series. View parts one and two.
I hope you’re enjoying the different samples of author voice we're including in this series. Remember, author voice is the way in which an author tells a story: word and phrase choices, sentence and chapter length, and the author's distinct world view. Here are a few more distinctive voices to share with you. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner I've heard the story countless times, how I grasped the delivering docto
*This is part two in a series. View part one.
Last week we started discussing author voice, which is the way in which an author tells a story: word and phrase choices, sentence and chapter length, and the author's distinct world view. In other words, your voice is your exclusive worldview: your beliefs, your fears, your attitudes, your dreams, the way you react to situations. All of this means that you have to put yourself on the page. This is what is known as developing yo
A lot of time is spent in writing circles discussing author voice. What is it? How do you perfect it? Author voice is the way in which an author tells a story: word and phrase choices, sentence and chapter length, and the author's distinct world view. Let’s look at some passages from books by two authors and “listen” to a few different voices and what they say to us. Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher: The Porthkerris Council School stood half-way up the steep hill which climbed
This is the second of a two-part topic. See part one here. If you ask a seasoned writer, they’ll tell you that ideas are in the air. Ideas are all around you. All you have to do is be observant. If you write fiction, look at the people around you, what quirks make you think, “What if . . . ?” What about the man in the grocery store, racing with his clunky cart down the aisle as if he’s playing chicken with oncoming shoppers? Why is he in such a hurry? All it takes is a germ
How does a writer decide on an idea? I believe writers are peculiar people. We tuck bits of memories in our brains and hearts only to pull them out years later and incorporate them into stories. I visited a girlfriend one day, and she told me about an experience she’d had the week before. Her in-laws were coming to visit, so she made sure her house was sparkling clean. When they were due to arrive, she gave her home a cursory glance, sure that her house was spotless. And then
Rejection is an ugly word, especially to a writer. But we need to keep it in perspective. To help you put rejection into perspective, I’d like to discuss my shoes.
A few months ago, I noticed my favorite shoes were beginning to look worn out and were no longer attractive to wear with dress pants. I thought about purchasing another pair of shoes, and then I had the bright idea to bring them to a shoe repairman. The repairman put new heels on my shoes, polished the leather, a
I recently read a story that left me wholly unsatisfied. The author skimped on writing in the sensory details. I felt disoriented while reading and found myself eager to be finished.
When I read fiction, I need to feel as if I'm dropped into the scene and can live the character's journey. Readers who can vicariously experience the character's life in novels are transported to a different reality and live the experience. They are touched at a visceral level and changed by th
Happy is the person who dreams dreams and is willing to take the steps to make them come true. Don't be afraid to start climbing, and I'll see you at the top! ~ Zig Ziglar I’ve been thinking about perspective lately. So much of life’s experiences depend on perspective, especially for writers. We commit ourselves to long periods of solitary work and then endure the difficult process of publication. Even after publication, it's not a walk in the park. But whether you succeed in
If you're a writer, do you spend time reading tips from pros and other writers in the trenches? You should. I have a few favorite writing websites that I subscribe to and some I visit regularly to keep myself current on market trends as well as tips on craft and grammar help. Doesn’t everyone need grammar help? Some sites that I visit frequently are: Novel Rocket: Authors helping authors launch. A great site for fiction writers with tips for writing, marketing, and encouragem
Do you appreciate admirable character traits? Excuse me while I get a little introspective. I've been counting my blessings lately, and ALL of them are people, not things. No surprise there. I have amazing family and friends. What I truly value about those who are a close to me are the attributes of their characters. As I thought about my loved ones and friends, I compiled a list of what I admire most about them. Yes, this is what's needed in excess in our world (and in the b