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
You've heard the quote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." It's from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The saying implies that the names of things don't change what they truly are. Which is true. However, names and words for a particular object or emotion or verb can vary—and for writers, they should. While we don't want to pepper our writing with confusing, million-dollar-words, our writing becomes more interesting and more focused when we find different and uniq
Participating in a critique group can be one of the best things you can do to help move forward in your writing skills. A crit group will help you to find flaws or weaknesses in your writing, will encourage you when you’re struggling, will teach you to sharpen your eye to find habitual mistakes you make, and will be an important part of your writing community. Critique groups come in all shapes and sizes. There are both online and in-person groups, and large groups and small
Last Tuesday I discussing writer's block and strategies to get your productivity back on track. Writer's block doesn’t have to paralyze your writing progress. I gave you the first few suggestions, last week. Here are five more methods to get your fingers flying over the keyboard: 1. Work on another project for a while If you can, switch gears to another project you have in the works or make notes on a subsequent project you’ve been thinking about. You may return to your “bloc
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
Are you going to a writers conference this year? I hope so. Next week, I'm going to the ACFW conference in Nashville. Can't wait! Conferences can be a great boost to your writing career. Not only do you learn tips and techniques about writing, you'll pick up great information about the industry and make good connections in the writing world. If you’ve never gone to a writers conference, attending a small, local one is often a good way to understand the rhythm of the conferenc
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 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
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
Consider yourself the luckiest writer in the universe if you’ve never experienced a moment of writer’s block. Consider yourself fortunate if you've never experienced a moment of, "where do I go now?" Consider yourself blessed if you've never thought, "How can I tie up this loose end?" The most important thing to consider when faced with the dreaded writer’s block is to realize that that this is probably not the last time you’ll be stuck. Personally, I think it’s part of the w
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
I have good news and bad news for you today. The good news is that no one, no other writer, speaker, or thinker can steal your voice. And your voice is what publishers will buy. Your voice is the only product readers can’t get anywhere else. The bad news is that no one can teach you how to create your voice. But, I have more good news—with practice, you can discover and develop your voice. Writers must develop their voice to hone their skill and perfect their craft. Your voic
Want to make your writing more irresistible? Then learn what the weasel words are, and avoid them. Weasel words are words that somehow manage to weasel themselves into our writing, but are passive, weak words, and generally lazy writing. Most authors must learn to eliminate weasel words from their writing. It’s not as easy as it sounds. One way to weed out the weasel words from your writing is to do a search and replace once your book/article is finished. According to Wikiped
As a writer, do you feel a responsibility to respect your reader? How do you do that? An Associate Press news article caught my eye, and I think it has an application to writing. Trust me, I'll explain. But first, here's the story: Woman Shoots Self While Trying to Kill Mice POTTER VALLEY, Calif. — A Mendocino County woman who was trying to kill mice in her trailer with a gun ended up shooting herself and another person. The 43-year-old woman pulled out her .44-caliber Magnum