Are Writing Exercises Effective?
By Lana Hampton
It was reported that the great American author Sinclair Lewis was once asked to give a lecture on writing to a group of college students: “Looking out at this gathering,” he said to the assembled students, “makes me want to know how many of you really and truly wish to become writers?” Every hand in the room went up. Lewis looked at them for a moment and then folded his notes and put them away. “If that’s true,” he said, “then the best advice I can give you is to go home and start writing.” He then turned and left the room.
If the first secret of writing is to write and if you’ve set up some sort of writing schedule, the next step is to figure out what to write.
Opening a brand new file and looking at a blank screen often results in a kind of brain-freeze; we feel as idea-less as the empty screen we’re staring at. Writing exercises can help us thaw our idea bank. The goal of a writing exercise is to open your mind and allow you to hone your skills and experiment. The joy of such an exercise is it’s not ‘for real.’ That is, there’s no thought of pleasing an editor or finding a publisher or meeting a deadline or getting paid. You’re just writing, with your internal editor turned off.
Some freelancers find writing exercises so effective and freeing they actually begin every writing session with a 10 or 15-minute exercise. Others use them more sporadically. But however you do it, writing exercises will help you with your writing. Use writing exercises in your writing schedule, as a natural part of your writing discipline; use the exercises often and watch your writing improve.
Ideally, a writing exercise is short, requiring you to spend no more than 10 or 15 minutes writing, thinking and feeling about something that’s unrelated to the rest of your writing work. In a way, they are like mini-meditations and mini-vacations because they clear out the cobwebs and give you a new view.
It’s that new view, that different way of seeing, of expressing, that’s the key to a good writing exercise. Naturally, not every exercise blows your mind every time. Sometimes you are just not ready for the challenge presented, but even then, the seed is planted. Sometimes you are simply not up for doing a writing exercise, which is okay too. Again, simply reading can set some new thoughts in motion.
Lana Hampton makes it easy to improve your writing skills. Visit her Writing [http://www.yowswriting.com] website today for the latest writing tips and information.
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Writing Fiction – How to become a confident writer
by Annette Young
Writing fiction can be so rewarding, after all you get to indulge in a wonderful world of make-believe where you the writer, can act as god upon your characters, their environment and the plot as it develops. Being able to develop a storyline that is rich and fulfilling can be immensely satisfying when it all goes well but in the early days of writing fiction, it can be quite difficult to piece together the components and techniques that make a story flow. Learning the basic techniques are incredibly important when planning a story or novel. It has to be written convincingly, it has to be paced well and it has to be written with some heart.
Whether you wish to write short stories or a novel, you need to be able to write with conviction and this means increasing your confidence in your own abilities and spending some time planning the story fully so that when you do start to write, the words will flow. The following tips will help you to learn the basics and help you to start believing in your own abilities.
1. Firstly, enjoy writing and relax. Whilst some people are born with a natural creative flair, writing skills can be learned through regular practice, trial and error and an innate stubbornness to succeed.
2. To be able to capture life within your writing, you have to be able to live it and to absorb it. Writing isn’t all about being shut away and writing thousands of words and living solely in your own imagination, it’s as much about experiencing emotions, regrets, love and all things that make us human. People love to read books because the fictional worlds mirror reality but it’s more absorbing when obstacles and events happen to someone else, if you have experienced that which you are writing about, that experience will show through the pages.
3. A good writer reads regularly. Even if you don’t have much time for your creative pursuits, try to find time to just enjoy a few pages of an inspiring book. You can learn so much from reading the work of a published author and a great tip is to take a few key paragraphs from the book and to try to rewrite them whilst still trying to capture the inner message. Learning why those paragraphs worked will help you to increase your skill-set.
4. Indulge in a variety of mini writing projects, use titles of books or films, or a line from your favourite song for inspiration. Don’t just think of one storyline though think of several and have fun with the projects because writing in different styles or generating ideas to order is an absolute necessity if you wish to take your writing further.
5. Set yourself some writing goals even if you simply enjoy writing as a favoured pastime. As your writing improves, it will become ever more important to progress and to get your name in print. Your writing goals could be as simple as to write a set number of words a day or a week, but training yourself to develop your writing will enhance your abilities.
6. Why not enter some writing competitions? Writing competitions work well because competing against others automatically helps you to write with integrity and focus and sharpens your ability. Whether you win or lose, the learning curve is substantial and will stand you in good stead for the future, plus it’s fun.
7. If you really feel unsure of your writing, then why not use affirmations? They are simple and powerful statements of intent that help to affirm your inner thoughts. They can be used in all aspects of your life but work well when writing fiction. They need to be written in a positive and determined manner such as ‘ I AM going to get published’. When you write your own and repeat them with conviction, you will be amazed at how they can start to help you.
If you absorb these tips you will find that they help to increase your enjoyment and productivity when writing fiction which in turn will help you to become a much more confident and prolific writer.
Annette Young is the editor of the Creative Competitor and a freelance writer specialising in health related articles and e-books. She is a qualified writing tutor providing writing courses and professional manuscript assessments.
Make Your Characters Come Alive!
Characterization is the most essential element, as living things, particularly human beings, are the main features that make the world a living world. For the fictional world to reflect the real world, therefore, the writer must ensure proper handling of this aspect. It is not enough to fill a work with characters, the characters must be chosen and developed with utmost care, presenting their attributes and behaviours in ways that make them credible to the readers. The choice of any character type should be determined by the role such character would play in the scheme of things. His actions and utterances must reflect his personality, must be in tune with his roles and the circumstances in which he is involved. There should be a reason, either good or bad, for the behaviour or attitude of each character; otherwise the incidents would appear stage-managed and artificial. Have you ever imagined a world populated by robots? A badly characterized work looks worse than that.
Before You Lick That Stamp
Today is the day you’ve decided to send your first short story out into the world. You’ve spent hours, days, weeks, perhaps months crafting it. You’ve shaped a narrative of plot, setting, conflict, point of view, character, and theme, and taken it through at least three revisions. You’ve received critical feedback from at least one trusted reader, and read your story aloud, at least to yourself in the mirror.
You tell yourself, “All systems GO!” but before you send your freshly printed out, spell-checked and proofread story to the literary magazine you’ve chosen after carefully researching its preferences for content and style, and whose submission guidelines you’ve followed to the letter, check it against this basic nine-point list:
• Have you “opened strong?” The first sentence should draw the reader in and contain the germ of the story.
• Did you use more dialogue than narration? Beware the long and the windy.
• Did you use descriptive nouns and verbs? Eliminate the vague and imprecise.
• Edit out as many adjectives and adverbs as possible. Words ending in…ly weaken the work.
• Did you choose past tense over past participle whenever possible? It provides immediacy, much like first person and present tense.
• Language that calls attention to itself wakes the reader from his fictional dream. Don’t show off.
• Did you involve all five senses when imagining your story? If you did, your reader will experience it with all of his.
• Use natural speech when writing dialogue, even when you’re using dialect.
• Cut it back or cut it out. Think Hemingway, not Proust.
Now, lick that stamp!
For more information on the writing life, go to Cheryl Snell’s blog, http://shivasarms.blogspot.com
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by Naomi Rose
Sometimes you can be in such an inspired and aligned state that every word you write is a keeper, and there’s nothing to do at the end but raise your eyes to the heavens and give thanks, then go take a walk or a bath, or play with your child or your cat. But more often, what you write will be a first draft, to be refined over time by further thinking, sensing, and leaps of understanding.
Unless you have had a lot of experience doing first drafts, and then seeing how they lead to more clear, full, and subtle refinements – and even if you have had experience – it can be frustrating to withstand the impatience and edginess that writing a first draft brings about. You know that what’s on the paper isn’t “it,” but you don’t know yet what “it is – and that gap between the yearned-for and the actual (at least for now) creates a level of discomfort (in some extreme cases, anguish) that can be difficult to bear. It can easily lead to an onslaught of self-doubts about the writing, and, by extension, about your talent in general, and, by devious extension, about you.
But wait. There is hope. Things don’t, perhaps can’t, always reveal themselves at once. A draft is a beginning, something real put down on paper. It may not inspire you when you read it, or even tell you what to do next; but it does provide a something, a foundation, to build on, even if you end up only using the pillars of the foundation and replacing the walls.
If you think of a draft as a sketch, like a visual artist’s sketch, you can get a clearer, more trusting picture of what a draft is for. When a visual artist makes a sketch, she may put intricate details in her drawing. But if the sketch is a preparation for a more detailed work – say, an oil painting, with the sketch first done in quick charcoal strokes on the bare white canvas – more likely the artist will put in large shapes, forms, and strokes in various places to see how they build up a whole composition. If you can imagine an experienced (i.e., trusting-in-the-process) artist at a blank canvas with a piece of black charcoal in her hand, trying out an arc here, a circle there, a rise and fall of line there to see what is emerging – whether a landscape, an abstraction, human figures, a still life, or any of a myriad things it “could” be – you would be entranced by the apparent dance between the artist and the canvas, as she comes close, makes a stroke, then another, and another, then stands back to view how these individual strokes cohere. Eventually, a picture settles into view as a sketch, as the foundation from which to work in bringing what the sketch suggests to life.
In the process of refinement, the visual artist will likely amend and adapt and erase and add various things. What was background may become more important; what was in shadow may be in light. Colors may change, as the spirit of the painting informs the technical aspects. But if the original sketch were not there – although a painting could have been done directly, without a sketch (and many have) – there would be no place from which to develop; to find the greater subtleties and aliveness out of the original, sketchy, frequently awkward beginnings.
If you can regard your draft, in your writing, as a sketch, something that you are laying down as a foundation so that you can see what refinements want to take place, you will have more patience with yourself, and more interest and curiosity about the process of how this comes to pass in your particular piece of writing. That moment when the writing turns from awkward and labored to flowing, spacious, and true is one of the great celebrations in a writer’s life. But it doesn’t just happen automatically. It has to simmer in the crucible of your Being; boil (like the beans on my stove at this moment, actually boiling over because I got so caught up in writing this) on the back burner of your consciousness; and, when ready, come forth as a gift of and from and to you – causing you to say, if not “Eureka!” (“I found it!”), at least, in a most heartfelt way, “Wow!” and “Thank God!” and “Thank you!” No less than the drafts of your own life, always a work in the making, not fixed in stone or beyond redemption on account of mistakes, your writing will move into a state of grace if you stay with it, care for it, cultivate it, and love what’s bringing it into being.
Copyright © 2010 by Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.
Naomi Rose is an award-winning writer, a Book Developer, and the creator of “Writing from the Deeper Self.” She works with both first-time and experienced book writers, nurturing the writers as well as their work. email@example.com, http://www.essentialwriting.com.
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How to Write Short Stories That Sell
Almost every aspiring author writes with the expectation of eventually getting published. But to get published these days, a short story writer needs to jump past an almost insurmountable cascade of barriers – from the query letter stage to the submission stage, from literary agents to publishers, and then on to the general reading public, all in the hopes of one day selling your short story and earning an amount of money sufficient to pay down the mortgage.
Following are a number of handy tips for short fiction writers to keep in mind when seeking to make money by selling short stories:
EVERY STORY HAS A BEGINNING, A MIDDLE, AND AN END
This might seem like an elementary observation, yet many novice short story writers fail to plan their tales with a basic three-part structure. Where you begin the beginning of your story depends on what follows later in the middle and end parts. The key here is that you must integrate all three parts of your tale so that each part fits snugly like a puzzle piece with the others. Knowing where to begin depends on where your story is going, and knowing at what point to exactly end it depends on what has gone before. Too many beginners start far too early in their tale or end it far too late. So long as you don’t sacrifice the reader’s orientation as to what’s going on, the best strategy is to start as late as possible in your tale and get into the “meat” of it before your reader’s attention lags. And then end it as soon as your basic character, plot, and theme elements have truly played themselves out. Start late, leave early, engage, and don’t confuse. Serve those four goals in planning your three-part structure, and you’re on steady ground.
UNITE ALL YOUR STORY ELEMENTS
Most basic short stories contain elements of plot, character, theme, and setting. Novice short story writers have a habit of randomly dreaming up each element in isolation and then packing all of them together in a kind of forced marriage. The best strategy for your short story is first to settle on which of the elements is the primary driver of your short story. If it’s the plot, then make sure the characters, theme, and settings all work together in servicing that plot in the most engaging, sensible manner. If it’s character-driven, the plot, setting, and theme must all be chosen to highlight and reveal the kinds of character interactions you want to unveil. And so on with theme and setting. Okay, scratch that last element – you should avoid at all costs writing a short story that’s driven by setting, unless your aim is to write an engaging travelogue.
SHOW, DON’T TELL
Too many amateur writers make the mistake of summarizing a key character reaction or series of events when greater emotional impact demands that a character reaction or event be dramatized. In other words, play them out as full scenes for greater effect. But of course, the key here is to employ this strategy only for unveiling those key character reactions or events that play a crucial role in the unfolding of your (unified) story elements. All of which brings us to…
CUT! CUT! CUT! (AND CUT SOME MORE…)
If any word, sentence, paragraph, piece of dialogue, or setting and action description does not advance your primary chosen story element(s), then cut, cut, cut them out! Do we really need to read extended descriptions about leaf texture, shoe brands, and the way the sun casts its rays on one’s coffee table in a scene where you’re advancing the plot or building toward a key character interaction?
Extraneous random descriptions will expose you as a card-carrying novice writer whose short story submission will go straight into a literary agent’s slush pile. Don’t be fooled by all those classic short stories that are filled with wonderfully descriptive asides about leaf texture and sun-cast highlights. In all likelihood, you’re not Charles Dickens or Steinbeck or Chekhov. You’re writing in an age of low attention spans, and you’re not working to be paid by word length. If you can cut out any and all portions of your short story that do not advance all or most of your story elements (and remember, setting should always be the servant to the other three story elements), then cut, cut, cut them out!
The sad fact is that the vast, vast majority of readers will make their decision about the quality of your short story inside of one paragraph (two, tops). So, put all the blood, sweat, and tears you can muster into crafting those first two paragraphs that will keep them reading on. In an age where time is money, don’t assume that there are masses of readers, literary agents, and publishers willing to stick with you for ten or fifteen more pages as you slowly build your short story to make its grand case. By the time your short story hits its stride after a mundane beginning, your only audience will likely be a chorus of chirping crickets.
DON’T COURT A DEATH BY TYPO
There is a reason why publishers are still in business, even in this age of so-called “self-publishing.” The fact is, readers depend on professionals to ensure that well-edited novels and short stories make it on to the book store shelves. That’s where literary agents, editors, and publishers come in. Yet novice writers often make the fatal error of assuming that literary agents and publishers will overlook short story submissions littered with typos, bad grammar, and poor spelling – so long as the gatekeepers are blown away by the writer’s great storytelling ability (embodied in those story elements mentioned above). But again, in an age where time is money, the gatekeepers employ the rule of thumb that typos are the mark of a sloppy craftsman. No matter how great your short story truly is, you will court a death by typo if you attempt to sell your short story with a poorly edited submission.
CHOOSE AN INTERESTING SUBJECT
If you’re reading this far into the article, chances are you’re truly looking for helpful tips to rel=nofollow [http://patronquo.com]write short stories that sell. Writing short stories for self-expression is nice therapy, so long as you’re sane enough to realize that probably only a very limited audience is interested in reading a short story about the joys of fly-fishing among elderly villagers in Latvia. On the other hand, writing about pistol-packing, death-dealing mamas is not exactly guaranteed to spark reader interest, either. The key is to be interesting and different at the same time. Having your character take out a gun and blow someone away is not all that interesting or different. You need not always fall back on the Dead Body Strategy For Engaging Reader Interest.
The key to picking an interesting subject is to find an organically satisfying and engaging unity of all your story elements – a combination of plot, character, theme and setting that comes off as fresh and exciting at the same time. The interest will come from the manner in which you weave these story elements together.
Coming back to the joys of fly-fishing among elderly villagers in Latvia, you might very well pull this one off if it is a backdrop for a plot with an unexpected turn – one that unveils fresh character interactions while highlighting a theme that, say, provides us a new thematic perspective on, say, our common mortality fears. Not sure how the Latvian part fits in, though. But that, perhaps, is a lesson for another day.
J Leland Kupferberg is the founder of [http://PatronQuo.com]http://PatronQuo.com, a recently launched free website for fiction writers seeking to make money by posting their novel excerpts and short story submissions online. PatronQuo is set up primarily to assist fiction authors in selling their books and short stories online through an innovative patronage model. Writers are furnished with customized story banners to market their submissions, and are able to obtain valuable feedback on the quality of their literary submissions through a series of highly unique stats, rankings, and Literary Match Bout Record charts. Just a few months out on the market, PatronQuo.com has proven itself a trailblazer among book and short story submission websites.
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Crime Fiction – Ten Cliches to Avoid
By William Meikle
Crime fiction is big business at the moment, but there are certain situations that have been overplayed so much that they have become genre cliches and everybody knows what to expect next. Here are ten cliches you should try to avoid and thoughts on how to subvert the cliches if you do decide to use them.
Cops and Doctors
You can find this perennial favourite in both crime and historical fiction. You’ll see it in ER, NYPD Blue and in cross -genre shows like the X Files. The doctor says “OK but only for a minute” or “It’s touch and go. The next few hours will be crucial” or “It could be minutes, it could be days… you never know with coma cases” The policemen usually say nothing. They just stand around and chew the scenery in frustration.
Mulder and Scully actually spend a lot of their time hanging around in hospitals but you don’t notice so much because the patients aren’t your run of the mill criminals or witnesses.
And that’s the way to get around this one. Get a new twist and add some tension. Maybe the patient is related to either the cop or the doctor. Or maybe the doctor is an amateur detective and knows better than the cop? But beware of the “Dick Van Dyke” syndrome… that leads you into a whole new area of cliche
The New Partner
In this scenario a veteran cop has to get a new partner after the death of his old one. The rookie is either keen as mustard and eager to please, or burned out from personal problems. It’s probably best known in modern times from the Lethal Weapon movies. Screenwriters tried to add some tension early in the series by having Mel Gibson as a borderline suicide case, and that gave the first film an edge; but it was lost in later instalments. By the time the fourth movie came came along they had fallen so deeply into a buddy movie relationship that all drama was lost in favour of light comedy.
You need to do some serious subverting if you want to use this situation. People have tried having a dog as the buddy in K9, having their Mom as the buddy in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and having foreigners as the buddy in big Arnie’s Red Heat.
Outside the strictly police procedural we’ve also had the robot buddy in Robocop, the ghost buddy in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), the alien buddy in Alien Nation, the magician buddy in Jonathan Creek, the ex-serviceman buddy in both Sherlock Holmes and Poirot. The list just goes on and on.
However you do it, filling in the blanks is easy in this scenario. What you need is something new. How about having the cop being given a politician doing a meet-the-people stint. Or, on a completely tasteless but might be funny level, how about the schizophrenic cop who is his own buddy?
The Rookie in the Morgue
Once only the province of young students in Quincy, this one now turns up on TV in the CSI franchise or Crossing Jordan and in print in the Kay Scarpetta books. There are usually two ways this one can proceed. Either the young cop rushes out, hand at mouth, or he stands still, icily cold and detached, as the autopsy proceeds.
Inspector Morse tried to subvert this situation by having the old timer as the squeamish one, but how about having the rookie as the pathologist?
Whatever you do, try not to give the pathologist a chance to be smug and patronizing while explaining large chunks of the plot. In the UK, this is overdone in Silent Witness and Waking the Dead, and is just a lazy way to advance the story.
The Cantankerous Lieutenant Chews Out The Cop
In films and television shows this happens to every protagonist, and Clint Eastwood for one must be tired of it. In the Dirty Harry series he was rarely out of his boss’s office.
It usually ends up with the lieutenant and the cop snarling at each other, so how about having one of them being completely calm and laid back? Or how about having one of them being deaf?
And if you must write this scene, please don’t use lines like “I’ll have your badge for that”, or “I’m not covering for you this time”
The Slimy Defence Lawyer
This one was a hot favourite on NYPD Blue and was guaranteed to get right up Sipowitz’s nose. Once you’ve introduced the sharp suit, the slick hairstyle and the briefcase, this guy will inevitably say, “My client has no further comment,” or “You had no right to talk to him without me there.” Everybody knows the rest.
Again, serious though is needed to bring a new twist to this situation. Your lawyer could be an ex-cop who knows all the moves, or a relative or lover of one of the cops? How about a lawyer defending himself? Or a counter-culture lawyer covered with tattoos and piercings?
Whatever you do try to come up with some creative invective. Slimeball, sleazeball, reptile and shyster have all been overused.
The Car Chase
Bullit and The French Connection set the standard, and Gone in 60 Seconds brought it into the 21st Century, but this situation has mostly become tired. There are only so many little old ladies to avoid, so many road signs to hit, and so many police cars to trash before your audience becomes jaded.
Over the years the Bond movies have used up just about all the possible permutations, so you’ll struggle to come up with something new. It would be better to add tension in another way.
In a bid to appear fresh, the chase element has sometimes been dropped altogether in favour of the race against time as in Speed or Die Hard With a Vengeance. To succeed you’ll need a good reason for the journey to take place, a disastrous outcome if it’s not successful, and some good near misses on the way.
But beware. Too much carnage and your readers will start thinking of The Blues Brothers. And please, don’t have your protagonist drive the wrong way down a one-way street.. it’s been done far too often.
The Shoot Out
Raymond Chandler’s advice to crime writers still holds. “If your plot is flagging, have a man come in with a gun.” You’ve got to be careful though. Too many people still transfer scenes from old cowboy movies almost verbatim into modern cop scenes.
Probably the best recent shoot out was in Michael Mann’s Heat. You cared who lived or died, and there was excitement and tension. Therein lies the trick. Make your readers have an opinion, not just about your hero, but about the other characters as well. At the end of LA Confidential, we knew all of the people involved in the climax, and it made it more satisfying to watch who lived or died. Lining one-dimensional people up just as cannon fodder might work in a Saturday night popcorn movie, but we should be aiming higher than that.
Shoot outs work well on film, but they can be a drag in print. Some writers tend to slow things down, especially to have a close look at the wounds. Unless you’re careful it can read like a medical textbook.
And, please, don’t have heads “exploding like ripe watermelons.”
The Cop in The Cafe
This was used in Chips in every episode, giving them an excuse to show a motorbike speeding from a car park with loose gravel flying.
It’s also a favourite in most of the aforementioned buddy movies, and especially in Starsky and Hutch. They’ll be in a cafe, musing over the chewing out they’ve had from their boss, when a call comes through. The radio buzzes, giving them a chance to attach a flashing light to the roof of their car and head off to a car chase, closely followed by a shoot out. See how it’s possible to run one cliche into another? Pretty soon you’d have a whole plot, but would anybody buy it?
One way of changing this scene might be to have an alternative means of the cops getting the message. You could have them hearing something on the Television? Or how about on a cell-phone or laptop… there are multiple opportunities for foul ups, misunderstandings or criminal actions there, and they haven’t been overdone… yet.
Good Cop / Bad Cop
The good cop / bad cop interview became a cliche almost as soon as crime fiction began. A fine example, nearly seventy years old, can be seen in The Maltese Falcon. By now everybody knows the moves, and your readers will be bored long before the interview is over. Unless you’re being self-referential and ironic, as in LA Confidential you’ll never pull it off.
Cracker tried to subvert the interview situation altogether by having it performed by a psychiatrist who played both cops in one. In The Rock, Sean Connery as the prisoner told Nicholas Cage which questions he should be asking. You’ll need to find something similarly innovative if you’re going to make it work.
How about having two good cops? Or two bad cops? Or maybe there is a new computer system designed by psychologists to ask the right questions in the right order? How would your cops and your prisoner handle that?
The Estranged Wife
Why do all fictional cops have relationship problems? This scene always goes the same way. The wife says, “You never see the children anymore.” The cop doesn’t say anything, because his mobile phone interrupts. You know the rest.
Cracker is again a good case in point as he went through this scene in almost every episode. Pacino played a variation of it with his girlfriend in Heat.
Not only does Cracker have a failed marriage, but he’s also a gambler and a drinker. In recent years people have been giving cops more and more problems to overcome, culminating in Denzel Washington’s paraplegic investigator in The Bone Collector. I wouldn’t even try to top that.
Why not be original. Make your cop a healthy, stable, happily married man. Now there’s a challenge.
The next time you read or watch a police drama, notice how many of the above are still in use. All of them can occur in any one story, and frequently do… just shuffle the paragraphs, add a murder or two and you have an instant plot.
But unless you can subvert some of the cliches, don’t expect anybody to buy it.
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, with seven novels published in the States and three more coming in 2007/8, all in the independent fantasy and horror press. His short work and articles have appeared in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Greece, Saudi Arabia and India.
Read free fiction at his web site http://www.williammeikle.com
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Writing Mystery Murder Fiction – 8 Tips to Getting Your Mystery Book Published
By Kari Larsen
I have to admit I am green in the community of published authors. Our debut mystery book, LIAR LIAR, is scheduled for release September 2010. My sisters and I signed a two book contract with Poisoned Pen Press and are completing the second mystery novel in the Cat DeLuca series now. People ask how we beat the bleak publishing odds and this is what I tell them. If you have no particular qualifications or very little good sense you can get published too.
Here are my 8 tips to writing fiction and getting your mystery book published:
1) Design a book jacket with the name of your novel, drape it over a hardback book and carry it with you. Picture your published murder mystery on the shelves of bookstores everywhere. Imagine radio and television interviews, rave reviews in the New York Times. This exercise may not work magic on the publisher but it’ll help you get through the devastating rejections that are almost sure to come. Most importantly, it will cement within you the certain knowledge of who you are. You may have to do this or that to pay the bills, but what you are is a writer. Tell people you know and those you meet on the street. The gods are listening.
2) Read. Read the mystery novels that are being published today and get a feel for what readers want. Read as many debut author books as you possibly can and try to figure out how they escaped the editor’s evil recycle bin. Read with a writer’s eye. Decide what works for you and what doesn’t. Above all learn to identify the energy that is unique to the mystery genre. If you can’t feel it, you haven’t read enough. If you still can’t feel it, you may want to try another genre.
3) Write a crime fiction book that sells. For the time being, forget about the book you’ve always dreamed of writing and write one that sells. You can write that other book after you’ve established a fan base that’ll follow you anywhere. One good thing about writing a book that sells is that your ego is less likely to get in the way.
Here’s another exercise. Visualize that you’re in an airport or park and people are reading your book. They’re smiling, or chewing their lip and they gasp when they get to the scary part. Your book is a hit. Appreciate everyone who will ever read one of your books. Now think of your book as a gift to the universe. That thought alone will help you write larger than yourself.
4) Give the readers what they want. Mystery readers are smart and savvy. They want a unique plot and a quirky hero who’ll amaze them with uncanny crime-solving abilities. They want clues that work and a clean, fast paced delivery. Throw in the ah-ha moment and a blockbuster finish. When you write, forget about what you think the publisher wants. Make it fun and write for the joy of it.
5) Write authentically. Write from that place within you that loves the mystery. Know your readers want to be entertained. They want to experience suspense, laughter, sadness, anticipation, tension, fear, relief, and (finally) satisfaction when they read your book. It’s your job to take them there.
6) Write a sharp, eye catching query. Send out a bunch of them. Keep writing fiction while you wait for responses. Work on your next book. It’ll keep you from getting too crazy. Don’t isolate yourself. You are part of a community of writers. Attend writer workshops, book clubs and classes. Use every resource you can think of to improve your skills and publishing odds.
7) Go after every rejection slip. Find out why you were turned down and if your manuscript needs fixing, fix it.
8) Manuscript preparation tips. Publishers may discard your manuscript just because the punctuation and poor spelling irritates them. Editors have a bunch of anal-retentive rules. Take them seriously. If you need help, hire a starving college student or copywriter.
Now good luck and get writing!
This article is contributed by Kari Larsen from the 3 Sisters Mysteries team. She works together with Julianne and Kristen Larsen on their Cat DeLuca Mysteries. You can find more about 3 Sisters Mysteries by visiting their website at http://www.kjlarsenauthor.com or [http://www.3sistersmysteries.com]http://www.3sistersmysteries.com.
Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Writing-Mystery-Murder-Fiction—8-Tips-to-Getting-Your-Mystery-Book-Published&id=4488071] Writing Mystery Murder Fiction – 8 Tips to Getting Your Mystery Book Published
Learn to Write- Your Story and the Background
by Lisa Brunel
Authors have a lot of mundane details to wade through when they learn to write. Even when you think you have one aspect mastered, you may turn around and find that another nuance has been entirely overlooked. Each part of a story is like a puzzle that must fit together tightly to create an engaging overall picture for your readers. When you are dealing with children’s books, this is even more important. An adult reader may be able to follow inferences or overlook slight discrepancies. Children, however, need clear and manageable plots to stay engaged in the reading. Your story, and the background surrounding it, can set the stage for the action. However, there are certain things to pay attention to when writing for children.
Don’t Over Explain
Imagine you are in a family event and watching from the sidelines as a family member tries to talk to their child. Usually, the adult will cut right to the chase, spending thirty seconds or so going over the main points that the child needs to grasp. Then, almost inevitably, they will begin to go on and on about the details, nuances and moral interpretations surrounding the child’s action. Even as another adult, it is more than apparent that the child stopped listening after those first few sentences; they haven’t added any value. In fact, they may prove so distracting that the child subsequently forgets the important point altogether!
As an author, what does this scenario have to do with how you learn to write children’s books? Simply put, kids just plain have short attention spans and limited ability to stay focused on complex situations. When it comes to the background of your story, keep this at the forefront of your mind at all times. Many background details don’t need to be added at all. If the story has common settings, stating the background in one or two sentences is more than sufficient. Picture books add details with the illustrations, while children’s novels can add background details in bits and pieces as the plot unfolds. Leave plenty of room for imaginative interpretation; that, after all, is the fun of reading in the first place.
Keep the Background Understandable
While children do like to use their imagination, they also have a limited capacity to put themselves in situations that are entirely unfamiliar. As you begin to learn to write your children’s book, step back and imagine yourself at that age. One of the biggest strengths of a skilled children’s author is really getting inside the heads of their young readers. Choose supporting details that can be easily understood by kids. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be something that they are personally familiar with. In fact, fantastical backgrounds are perfectly appropriate, as long as the details are clearly understood. For example, it works to set a story on board a pirate ship. While there isn’t likely a child alive that has actually been on a pirate ship, the fantasy surrounding that is quite clear to most kids: pirates are rough; they like to rob other ships; they might want you to walk the gangplank. Of course, realistic backgrounds are even easier to include in your stories.
Do Your Homework
As a writer, it can be extremely tempting to make assumptions about a particular background or situation. In fact, many things are common sense and you may actually have some general knowledge to support a certain interpretation. When this doesn’t interfere with the plot or storyline, it can be acceptable to incorporate a more general background as you learn to write. However, if you are basing a storyline on a particular chain or events, or a true story, you need to do more specific research about the background. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to include every detail in the story itself. What it does do is give you the knowledge that you need to determine what details are necessary for inclusion in the background. In addition, doing adequate research will save you from embarrassment as an author. While many readers may not pick out the background mistakes, others will and that will interfere with their enjoyment of the plot and characters.
When you learn to write, there is no such thing as too much attention to detail. You can, however, incorporate details and background in an incorrect way. Because of the short word count of a children’s book, there is much less room for making mistakes in this area. As with character and plot, make sure that everything that you include has a distinct, specific and understandable purpose.
Want to write for children? <a href=”http://www.learntowriteforchildren.com”>Learn to write</a> children’s books that capture the unique world of a child. At <a href=”http://www.learntowriteforchildren.com”>http://www.learntowriteforchildren.com</a> you’ll find an experienced and successful children’s writer who whats to share her knowledge with you! From the good to the bad, she gives you it all in her newly revised edition of How To Write A Great Children’s Book! And its all helpful stuff! Get started writing your story and get it published today!
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Developing Your Own Writing Style
In literary courses, professors want to speak about an author’s voice. In these instances, they are talking about the special stylistic choices how the author has come becoming known for. Nonetheless, developing a writing style isn’t just something that well-known authors do. Regardless of whether you write to become released, staying study, or to distinct your mind, developing your own writing style can be a part of the creative evolution that drives us all. The process is frequently length and hard, but usually encompasses numerous steps that happen to be difficult to prevent.
First, when discovering your writing style, you need to believe concerning the written content that you gravitate towards. If you are someone who enjoys writing about current affairs, what does your voice contribute to the conversation? Are you a critic? Are you currently someone who looks towards the silver lining? These stylistic possibilities inform your overall writing style. In case you are someone who likes to write about fantasy, do you paint images of idyllic worlds? Are your tales dark and fraught with threat around every corner? The written content of your fiction will typically shape your tone, and therefore your writing style in common.
2nd, your writing style rests on the sort of writing work ethic you cultivate. Often, writers who come up with concepts quickly and are able to mold verbal representations of individuals concepts at a rapid pace possess a very blunt, stark writing style. In contrast, authors who want to stew over tips for months just before ever touching pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard will have a more lavish and verbose style of writing. Authors who choose quick revisions will usually have a very directly towards stage type of strategy to a plot, whereas writers who will rewrite their story ten times over ahead of staying fulfilled will consider extended passages to set the scene along the way. From this viewpoint, the writing work ethic you work underneath will possess a big effect on your writing style.
Lastly, when developing a writing style that is distinctive to you, you may need to think about how you desire to be remembered. There are some elements of the writer’s soul which can be beyond the handle of the writer, but the goals and aspirations of an writer can tremendously impact the writing style they grow into. If you intend to be remembered for your vision, you will probably placed more time into imagery. If you wish to be remembered for your honesty, your writing make consider a conversational tone on. If you want to be remembered for your capacity to fool the reader, your plots will become complicated and intricate. The nice point about writing is that, to a specific extent, you can create your own style. By getting distinct cut goals like a writer, you manage your own destiny.
The Role of the Author – By: Dorgival Viana
Why is collaborative writing so valuable for the author? For starters, it allows the author to get his or her work proofread on a constant basis. You work is constantly and consistently being scrutinized, which leads to fewer mistakes and better story development. Additionally, collaborative writing allows authors to develop their ideas, and can often bring ideas to a whole new level.
Throughout history, some of the best and most influential writers have been known to collaborate with one another. In fact, there are some classic literature figures that have had books published which simply highlight the collaboration process. For example, there is a publication which highlights the correspondence between C. G. Jung and Victor White, who were both prominent theology gurus of their day. Throughout this publication, you can read who the collaboration between these two men shaped their personal thoughts, views, and life experiences. Each man had opposing views on life, and they challenged each other to think from different points of view.y not make sense to someone else. Therefore, it is our responsibility as writer to create work which everybody can relate to and understand. If we cannot produce material which other people can relate with, we will be unable to portray whatever message it is we are trying to get across. So in order to be sure you’re are making good use of your time and being as efficient as possible, we must learn to collaborate with others. The more we can accept criticism, the better authors we will become.
In order to be the most effective writer possible, we have to learn how to accept and manipulate outside criticism. What sounds good to us ma
Article Directory Source: http://www.articlerich.com/profile/Dorgival-Viana/94580
Think Big for Your Book, and Make It Happen
by Melinda Copp
Visualizing goals is one of the most important foundations of human achievement. By using your imagination, and envisioning life after your dreams have come true, you can actually attract what you want into your life. And just like athletes are trained to visualize victory, aspiring authors can use this powerful technique to get them excited and motivated about writing their book, and to help ensure it actually gets done.
Creative visualization works because powerful thoughts that are specific and clear can change your mindset, behaviors, and actions to align with what you want. If you want to be a published author, you can spend time thinking about and visualizing what your life will be like after that dream has become a reality. You can picture yourself giving a reading or talk in front of a large group. You can picture yourself shopping in a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelf. And you can picture yourself being interviewed on national television.
Whatever scenario you associate with being a successful author, creating it in your mind is the first step to making it happen. So no matter how long you’ve been struggling to write and no matter where you are with your book right now, you can change your situation for the better with visualization.
So how can you use this technique to make your book a reality? Here are the steps.
1. Think Big Take a few minutes away from distractions, and allow yourself to daydream. You can even close your eyes, if that helps. Then let your mind wander. Think about how great you will feel to hold your book in your hands. Think about how your life will be different-better-as an author.
And let your imagination run wild. Don’t allow yourself to limit your abilities by thinking negative thoughts like, “Oh, that could never happen to me,” or, “My book won’t be that great.” There are no limits in your daydreams!
Really paint a picture for yourself, so your goal is clear and well-defined. And spend a few minutes living in that daydream, experiencing and enjoying the success you want.
2. Put it in Writing Like any goal, putting your visualization in writing is important because you can’t just think about it and forget when it exists on paper in the physical world. You can write your visualization as a scene in your journal, but tearing it out and posting it in front of your desk where you can read it every day will help your goals stay at the top of your mind.
Even better: dig out some old magazines and make a vision board of pictures and words that represent your vision. For example, you could have a picture of a person reading in front of a large group, a picture of someone signing a book, or even a picture of Oprah holding your book. Whatever gets you excited and feels good to you. You can even draw some pictures if you’re artistically inclined. Then post that vision board in a place where you’ll see it every day.
Now, if this sounds like bologna to you, I encourage you to try it anyway. Why? First, successful people swear by visualization. So there must be something to it, right? Second, how can you possibly achieve anything you can’t first imagine? And third, if you’ve been struggling to get your book done for far too long, then why not try it? What have you got to lose? Plus, it will be fun-I promise. And before you know it, your dream of being a published author will come true!
Keywords: write business book, write self help book, write nonfiction book, book coaching, book coach
Author’s URL: http://www.finallywriteabook.com
Melinda Copp helps aspiring self-help, business, and nonfiction authors write and publish books that establish expertise, fulfill their purpose, and share their message in a powerful way. Get a free copy of her Write Your Best Book Quick-Start E-course and her FREE weekly e-zine at http://www.FINALLYWriteABook.com.
How To Write a Good Novel: Give It a Powerful Crisis
When you’re learning how to write a good novel, it’s critical that you understand how very important it is to come up with a really great initial idea. You want to make sure your idea intrigues and inspires you and you want it to hook your readers from the first page to the last. The best way to come up with a good novel idea that accomplishes both of these things is to begin your story with a major crisis. If you choose the crisis using the guidelines I give below, I think you’ll find the resulting story idea will crackle with tension and excitement and will help you write a page-turner that readers and publishers will love. A good crisis will compel your main character to make a decision to solve the problem caused by the crisis and will give him a powerful motivation to succeed. It needs to be a big enough crisis that your main character will need the rest of the novel to overcome it.
Make Sure Your Crisis Fits These Three Criteria
Literary agent and published novelist Evan Marshall has developed some great specific guidelines for creating this initial crisis. If you follow these, you’ll see that your initial idea deepens and intensifies into a powerful force to drive your novel forward and keep you and your readers engaged through the end.
1. To start, you want your crisis to fit your novel’s genre. Clarify what genre you’re writing in and then make sure that your crisis is appropriate to your genre. For example if you’re writing a murder mystery, you probably wouldn’t choose a crisis that includes an alien craft landing in the main character’s backyard. Instead, you’d start with… can you guess? A murder!
2. The next requirement is that the crisis has to upset the balance of your main character’s life so much that they are forced to do something about it. The crisis can’t be a minor annoyance that they could just ignore; it’s got to be big and life-changing. Your readers will quickly get hooked into your story as they wonder what your main character is going to do in the face of this big problem. That’s why having a powerful initial crisis in your novel is so important.
3. And finally, it’s important that the crisis intrigues and interests you as the novelist. It should be something that you care about and feel compelled to write about. When you feel deeply engaged by the crisis, it will show in your writing and your readers will sense your genuine enthusiasm. Plus, it will give you the energy and motivation to see your novel through to the end. When you feel excited about your novel idea and want to see what happens next, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
Your Main Character’s Story Goal: Solve This Problem
After reacting to this initial crisis, your main character makes a decision that will affect him for the rest of your novel: he decides to do whatever it takes to solve this problem and bring his life back into order again. This decision guides all his future actions and propels your story forward with each scene. Here are a few thoughts on how to make this story goal most effective, again courtesy of Evan Marshall.
1. Your main character’s goal will involve wanting to experience relief from something oppressive or problematic or his goal will be to possess something he really wants.
2. He must succeed at this goal or there will be terrible repercussions.
3. Your main character should have a worthy, admirable reason for wanting to solve this problem. You want this goal to reveal your character as a likeable, honorable person at their core so your readers really want him to solve his problem.
4. Your main character’s odds of succeeding at this goal must seem next to impossible. When this main story goal has such high stakes, it will create tremendous tension that will help you and your readers stay with your novel all the way through to the last word.
Evan Marshall has developed a complete step-by-step system for writing novels that gives you everything you need to write a compelling, powerful novel with best-seller potential. If you’re interested in learning more about his system that shows you how to write a really good novel, I encourage you to check out this blog post at http://writerssolutions.com/what-is-the-marshall-plan-for-novel-writing-anyway. I think you’ll find his novel writing system makes the process of writing a novel seem like something you could actually accomplish yourself.
Laura M. McKenna loves to write about fiction and novel writing and has contributed frequently to various websites including WritersSolutions.com. She is currently blogging about her experiences using the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing software to develop her novel idea at http://writerssolutions.com/trying-out-the-marshall-plan-for-novel-writing-software-myself
How to Sell your Book in Book Stores
Your best option as a new writer is to ask local, independent book sellers to sell your book. List down independent bookstores around your area, and pop them a visit instead of just calling. Even then, don’t have high expectation that bookstores will automatically want to promote your book purely because it has been published. The initial contact is important, dress nice to impress, and always be humble as a self promoter.
Another tip is that bookstores will also respond to customer requests, if you have Print on demand on your side, and perhaps if you could rally a group of your personal readers to order your book from a bookstore, the store is more likely to take notice of your title when you give them that visit.
Once your book has a bit of sales history and you are able to develop a marketing plan, then the time has come for the next step – to approach the larger chains!
© 2010 Bookpal Australia Pty Ltd – All Rights Reserved Worldwide
http://www.Bookpal.com.au/ is helping self publishers all around the world to successfully self publish and market their books with cost effective solutions to create bestsellers. The website offers a free book for budding self publishers, and many other free resources.
About the Author
Terence Tam is the founder of Bookpal, he previously spent 6 years as an academic and was a contributing author for several academic books. Frustrated with the level of service he was getting with traditional publishers, he set up his own self publishing company to help other authors publish and market books with cost effective yet efficient solutions
Learn To Write What Publishers of Children’s Books Want to See!
by Lisa Brunel
Wow, the story you have stayed up nights creating is finally finished. Your main character has been refined and developed to bring life to the story. The magic of the words you have written are printed on the page and are marching to a designated plot created from your heart. Have you taken the time to relish in your achievement?? You have done the hard yards and now your desire to write stories that will touch the heart of children has almost become a reality. All that is left to fulfill this dream is to submit it to the publisher. In searching for a publisher, it is important to research what it is exactly that the publisher wants to see and then learn to write around these requirements.
One of the first things a children’s book publishers will be looking for is if you have followed the publishing guidelines. These guidelines spell out specifically what they want to pay for. If a publisher says it does not want stories where animals talk and you present them with a talking Lassie as the main character, your manuscript will automatically be rejected, no matter how good the plot is. The guidelines will tell you exactly what the publisher is looking for when it comes to accepting unsolicited material, how many words they are looking for as well as what type of stories they will be looking for. It is imperative that you learn to write and follow the publisher guidelines exactly. To make sure you receive the guidelines, simply request a hard copy from them. Send this letter with a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). Some guidelines are on the web others request that you write for them.
As well as these guidelines, a children’s book publisher will be looking for the cover letter. It should be the very top page. The cover letter should give interest. I should invite the publisher to read your children’s book. The editor should know from reading the cover letter, what you are sending, who the target reader is and why you are sending it to that particular company. It should also include a little bit about you. This information should be fairly straight forward but interesting. It should prepare him to want to read the rest of your work that is on the following pages.
Proper format is the next thing a publisher will be interested in seeing. You can find many sites on the web that can teach you the proper format to write in and you can also learn to write by picking up books specifically written to help you write a children’s book. Primarily it should have good margins all around, top left-hand margin with your your identifying information, center the title midway down first page, followed by your name. Make sure it is double spaced throughout. It is a given that your manuscript be checked and double checked for grammatical correctness. Editors look for good sentence structure with lots of variety and dialogue. Good writing is usually written in active voice and describes the character doing the activity. Try to form your sentences with this type of action. Always have someone else proof read your work before it is mailed.
Learn to write what the publisher wants to see by following these very important suggestions before sending your children’s book to the publisher. Each children’s book publishing house receives hundreds or thousands of manuscripts in any given month. This advice will give you a strong chance at seeing your story in print. Pay attention to these ideas and you may be the next new children’s author.
OK, so now the story you have stayed up nights creating is finally finished. In searching for a publisher, it is important to research what exactly the publisher wants to see and learn to write around these requirements.
If you ever thought you would like to write a book there is nothing stopping you from writing for children. You don’t have to be a professional writer! Learn to write for children and sign up for our free newsletter at http://learntowriteachildrensbook.com . You’ll receive regular writing tips and articles on writing for children, delivered straight to your inbox! Start today!
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Learn To Write For Children: What About Morals and Themes?
by Lisa Brunel
Are you in a place where you want to learn to write children’s books? If so, there might be a time where you find yourself worrying about the moral and the theme of the story. The more you work on writing children’s books and the more you sort out the stories in your head, you will find that you are in a place where you are going to start wanting to sort out the morals and your themes. These are important parts to any rewarding stories and especially if you are writing children’s books, you might feel as though you should be compelled to put in a moral for people to follow. On the other hand, if you want to learn to write, and particularly if you want to learn to write children’s books, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
For instance, one thing that you are going to need to learn is that with children’s books, as with every other type of story, your morals, and your themes need not interfere with the story; the story cannot serve the moral or the theme. If you find that you are writing a story around morals or themes, there is a good chance that your characters are falling quite flat or that they are in some other sort of trouble! Remember that children tend to read stories so that they can be entertained, not so that they can learn a lesson. In many ways, children read stories to read about things that they would never do, or could never do.
One example of a moral or a theme interfering upon a story is if it gets in the way of your character being themselves. Your characters need to have their own motivations and their own interest in doing things, and you will find that there are natural actions for them to take. For instance, learn to write in a way that shows your characters progressing in a certain way, there will probably be some actions that they would never commit. If your characters has been greedy from the very beginning and you end the story with them suddenly being generous, you are going to find that they are going to have some issues with the way that your story goes!
Remember that when you are dealing with how to write children’s books, you don’t have much space. The old saying that less is more might as well have been written for a children’s book, and the more time that you spend looking into it, the better off you are going to be. Remember that every word that you use has to pull its weight and that if you spend a lot of time moralizing or telling the readers what they should be feeling, you are losing out on what you could be telling them or describing to them.
If you are interested in thinking about morals and themes in your work, remember that they should arise organically throughout the story. If you want to learn to write children’s books, you will find that deciding how to handle important elements like this one is an important thing to cover.
Learn to write for children by visiting http://www.learntowriteachildrensbook.com . Sign-up to the free newsletter that will bring you regular writing tips and articles straight to your inbox! It is well worth checking it out!
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Learn To Write: Children’s Books Need Conflict!
by Lisa Brunel
If you want to learn to write children’s books, you should definitely start by reading some of them, and you will find that after you have read a few, there are a few things that snap into focus. The first thing that you will likely notice is that all of these books have a conflict that is resolved at the end, and after you have created a good character and a good setting, you are going to need a conflict or a difficulty that he or she needs to overcome. The conflict gives your character something to do, and something to fight for; essentially it gets the story off to a good start.
Remember that particularly if you are writing children’s books, you do not need the conflict to be very large or very earthshaking. However, just because the conflict does not seem large or upsetting for you as the writer does not mean that it can be the same for the character! Your character needs to be involved in the conflict, and they need to be dedicated to resolving it. Whether your character’s conflict is conquering the monster under the bed or just wondering where the missing sock went, you’ll find that he or she needs to be involved in solving it. If you can make your character care about the issue, you can likely make the audience care as well.
In some ways, children’s books have the same requirements as adult books. Think about reading a story where the hero goes to the store to pick up some milk; unless something interesting was happening or unless something was being resolved, it would make for a dull read. A children’s book where everyone goes to the zoo and looks at the animals might work for very young children who just want to look at the animals might work, but older children will swiftly want a story where “something happens,” and if you want to learn to write, this is something that you need to provide.
That being said, come up with a problem for your characters to solve. It can be a large struggle or it can be a small one. Think about what your character wants and think about what he or she would do if that were taken away from them. A fraction of how you learn to write is going to be answering questions like this. Knowing your characters and what they want is extremely important, and you will find that once you give them a problem to solve, you have your story right there!
If you are interested in learning to write, remember that your conflict is going to be an important part of how your story will move forward. Remember that if you want to write children’s books, conflict is going to be an important part of how you move ahead and what your needs are and you should learn to write conflict well. Take some time to recognize conflict in other people’s children’s books and to make sure that you understand how it is going to work in yours.
The first thing that you will most likely notice in a good children’s book is that all of them have some sort of conflict that is resolved at the end. This article gives you tips and ideas on writing conflict in a children’s book.
If you are interested in learning to write well for children, the best place to start is by visiting http://www.learntowriteachildrensbook.com . Sign-up for the free newsletter that will bring regular writing tips and articles on writing for children. It’s well worth your time to check it out!
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Learn to Write: Do You Need To Have A Subplot?
by Lisa Brunel
Are you someone who is interested in moving forward and do you love the idea of learning to write children’s books? If so, you might have asked yourself if there is room for subplots in your story. “What is a subplot?” Subplots are essentially smaller stories that fit with the main story. They are linked to the main story, and in many cases, they cannot stand alone, but they can make a story much richer and more interesting for the people who are reading. Take some time and think about what you are doing and make sure that you understand what subplots really are. When you learn to write subplots find out what you need to know when writing specifically for children.
In the first place, remember that subplots have no place in some children’s books. For instance, baby books, picture books and most books aimed at children under the age of nine or ten. They are simply going to be too short and too simple to be worth your while. Also remember that a subplot makes things more complicated and that not all stories need them. Once the audience gets a little older, however, you will find that including subplots can make your narrative much richer and much more interesting.
If you want to learn to write for children, think about what your subplot needs to do for your children’s book. Is it telling us more about the main character or about the things that are going on in the main character’s world? Do you love the idea of being able to let us know more about the main character’s best friend or their dog or their family? There could be the possibility that the main character is not aware of the subplot, but it is something that the audience is keenly aware of, and they would need to be interested in the subplot as well.
One common problem that many people face when they learn to write a book is that they let their subplots go a little crazy. They find that they are in a place where they want their subplot to get more and more intricate until it overwhelms the rest of the story. If you find that your subplot is more interesting to you than the rest of the story, it might be time to go into rewrites and to seriously think about the story that you want to tell. Remember that there is no such thing as too many rewrites and too many revisions!
Essentially, you need to make sure that the subplot in your children’s book does something. It should tell us something more about what is going on, or it might add to an important theme. What do you want us to know about the main character that you cannot say directly or how does he or she treat the people around them? Take the time and think about how you can move forward with your subplot and make sure you understand what it is adding to the story.
As you learn to write subplots in children’s books, always try and check out what other people have done with subplots by reading some of their work. The more examples you can amass when you are looking at children’s books, the better. These examples can benefit your writing immensely.
Lisa has spent many years, working as a nanny, with young children. Her firsthand experience provides her the knowledge, from and educational point of view, into what young children really enjoy from the books they read. She has plenty of pointers, tips and tricks to share with you to help with your writing career.
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Don’t Struggle Writing Your First Novel-Beginners Writing Tips
by Jackie Strong
Creative writing is all about playing around with words on any given subject. It allows you to let your imagination run wild. Those of you thinking of writing your first novel tend to have that one vital ingredient required, an active imagination. It is through the power of that imagination that your first novel will be created.
More often than not when thinking of creative writing, we tend to believe it’s only for certain people when really anyone can do it. It’s a great release for your passions and thoughts, giving you an ideal opportunity to put down all that musing. Creative writing is about committing to paper whatever you want, in the way you want to do it. The challenge of actually doing this, however, can be overwhelming to most people yet, if that’s all there is to it, then why don’t more people do it? The challenge of writing your first novel doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem.
Use your local library and study all the different writing styles offered in short stories for inspiration and ideas.
Is there a chapter in your life you could use as a base for a short story? Remember that only you know it’s from your experience so you can expand as much or as little as you want; it’s your story.
Try this popular writing exercise. Get out a dictionary and, with your eyes closed, randomly pick out half a dozen words. With a timer set to, say, a quarter of an hour, freewrite on each chosen word and try to incorporate the said word within the first paragraph.
Pick up a ladies’ magazine, open up at any page and again freewrite for fifteen minutes on the main photograph or picture on view.
As a writer, you will need to be able set down all emotions and feelings. The seven deadly sins are:
GREED – strong and selfish desire for possessions, wealth or power.
LUST – a passionate desire for something
ENVY – discontented longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, quality or look
GLUTTONY – the habit or fact of eating excessively
WRATH – extreme anger
SLOTH – reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness
Each one of these words is fantastic to write about and can offer a multitude of dimensions to explore. Create a short story about each one, making it as long or short as your imagination allows.
Are you close to Writing Your First Novel? To learn more about an excellent writing software aimed at giving would-be authors the incentive and know-how to succeed then please visit my site http://www.writingyourfirstnovel.com/writing-your-first-novel
A Writing Lesson – Taking A Break Every So Often
by Thomas Ajava
Writing is good for the soul, but even the soul needs a break every so often. While writing an hour every day can really improve your technique, it can also ruin your motivation. When writing moves from enjoyable to a task, it just becomes another job that makes you miserable.
The interesting thing about writing a novel is everyone does it differently. There are endless books that contain piles of opinions on how to do it. The technical rules applied to the writing is enough to stifle most anyone’s enthusiasm for the task. That being said, most productive writers don’t really pay attention to the “rules of writing.” They simply write to their hearts content and sooner or later stumble upon the conclusion of the story they wanted to write. It sounds trite, but it works.
Writing at least a bit every day is certainly a wise move. Reading your daily tidbits will start to give you real insight to your strengths and weaknesses. Only the most crass of us, however, wishes to be criticized daily even if it self-criticism. You need to be freed from the technical side of writing and just allowed to run free with the might pen or mightier keyboard.
Put in simple terms, you need to take a break every so often. There is a point where the valuable returns of writing each day are diminished by the sheer effort required to do so. If your eye are blurring at the keyboard, it is time to stop. If you have blisters on the end of your fingers, it is time to stop. If you realize that you have children only because there is a “Dad” on the coffee cup, it is time to stop. It will not kill you to take a few days or even a week off and just enjoy yourself.
You should also write goofy material at least once a week. Why? You need to give the old brain a rest from developing wicked plot twists and in depth character developments. For the last year, I’ve been writing about the life of ants in my front yard that are separated by the garden hose that runs down the middle of it. This, of course, has also given me a reason not to roll up the hose! Regardless, the story has become fairly compelling at this point even if I have no idea where it is going or why. Frankly, I fear it is better than the other stuff I am trying to seriously write!
It is trite to say that writing should be fun. While it can be trying at time, the effort to improve your writing should not reach such a strenuous level that it becomes just a job. Take a break before that happens. Heck, write about the bugs in your yard for fun. If nothing else, it could delay the need to mow the grass!
Writing is good for the soul, but even the soul needs a break every so often. While writing an hour every day can really improve your technique, it can also ruin your motivation. When writing moves from enjoyable to a task, it just becomes another job that makes you miserable.
Thomas Ajava writes for NomadJournals.com – your source for writing journals you can keep notes and diaries in.
Where Can I Find The Time To Write My Book?
by Beth Flarida
When you endeavor to write a book, especially for the first time, it is very important to set aside specific time to write it. Writing on a regular basis is a new habit that you need to learn. Just like every other thing in life that you do all the time, you had to discipline yourself to do it regularly.
In my own experience and when helping clients with time management it is important to set aside your high energy time when you need to write. The other important things to consider are your schedule, the deadline you have for finishing your writing project and how much time you need to spend writing to meet your deadline.
The way we’re going to figure this out is to work backwards to find where you have available time and how much you need. We will use an example project to do the figuring and then you can insert your dates, deadlines and numbers. Then you can do the math to figure the details for your writing project.
First, let’s look at your project deadline. Let’s say you have 6 months to write your book.
Second, let’s look at how much time you need to write the book. Let’s say you will write 12 chapters. (That means you will write approximately 2 chapters each month). You can’t count on that 100% because some will probably take more or less time than others, but at least it gives you a guideline. You also have to take into account the time you will need to go back and read what you’ve written. Of course, we all tend to make changes when we reread our stuff.
Third, in order to write 2 chapters a month how much time do you need? Now this is the most individualized part of this equation. Some people can sit down and write and everything just flows from their fingertips onto the paper. Others sit and dwell and stare at the computer hoping the words will flow from their fingertips. You know which person you are and should plan accordingly.
For the sake of argument let’s say a chapter will take you 6 hours to write. That means about 12 hours each month. That can break down several ways. It is 40 minutes a day, 2 hours every 3 days, 3 hours a week and so on.
Decide on what is a realistic time limit for you to set. Forty minutes a day versus 3 hours every Saturday require different disciplines. Which fits who you are?
Now comes the time to look at your schedule. Do you work all week and have to write on the weekends? Do you work all week long but would like to get up early or stay up late to do the writing daily? What feels right to you? Which do you really think you can commit to doing regularly?
Lastly, let’s look at your energy level. When are you at your absolute best? Is it in the morning with your coffee? Do you get that sudden burst of energy right after lunch? Do you work best at night when perhaps it’s quieter and you can really work without disruption from phones or emails? Maybe you have certain days or nights when your spouse or kids are out and that is the time to take advantage of for your new endeavor.
Whatever you choose for your schedule, make a real commitment to it. It can always be tweaked if you need it to be. Sometimes the most difficult part is the planning, but think how wonderful and proud you will feel once you’ve completed your book.
The idea is to have your writing become a habit. The habit only has to work for YOU! Writing, just like everything in life, is not one size fits all. Find what works for you in your life. Once you’ve become accustomed to doing it regularly and see the progress you’re making it will be magical! Enjoy it!
Finding the time to write or do something that is new to you. Learning to make something you want to do a habit.
Beth Flarida, CPO®, owner of Get It Together, is a Professional Organizer, Productivity Coach & Efficiency Expert for businesses since 1991. Visit Beth at http://www.getbeth.com & sign up for her free weekly newsletter, Answers From The Organizer®. Claim your free report “Get Your Office Organized Right Now!” & your complimentary Problem Solving Strategy Session. Don’t wait, be productive today!
Provided by uPublish.info at http://www.upublish.info
Helpful Tips to Getting Started on Your Novel by Joe Picariello
Writing has always come naturally to me, but there are elements of the writing process that I struggle with. There must be other aspiring writers who have similar problems, so let’s talk about the most basic elements you will need to make your story or novel come to life.
The most important thing, first and foremost, is story. You need a story, or at least a basic outline of this. Without a story, you have nothing. Your characters will be stumbling around with nothing to do and no place to go. You don’t need to have an entire book plotted out, scene by scene, but you should, however, have some thin idea of what you want to occur in the story. It’s great if you have a bunch of amazing, dynamic characters, but they must be part of the bigger picture. Where do they fit into your story? What role do they play? How are they going to help further the story?
Let’s start with the plot. I’ll break it down into three basic groups to help get you started:
-First, we have the beginning. This is where you will introduce the reader to the setting of your story and the characters that the reader will be following. Remember, it is not necessary to introduce ALL the characters in your story right from the very beginning, because many of the characters will become a part of the story as the plot progresses. Your main character(s) will meet them along the way, on their fictional journey, and certain characters will become involved with the protagonist’s life in different ways and under different circumstances. In the beginning you must also introduce the initial plot point that is going to be driving the story forward. This vital point is some type of situation that will drive the main character from their “normal” life into some type of conflict. It can be something such as a murder, losing their job, or a natural disaster. This will kick off your main plot.
-Next up is the middle. This is when your story will be expanded upon and develops through a series of complications and obstacles. You can have what we will refer to as “mini crises” during the middle, but all the while you should be building tension towards your BIG crisis, which we will discuss in the next paragraph. Think of the middle as a pot of water slowly building to a boil. You want to be working towards the big finale, or climax in your story. Your main character may solve a small crisis or two during the middle, but you don’t want him or her to solve the big crisis yet — save that for the end.
-Thirdly, you will build towards the inevitable climax. This is when the main character is faced with the largest obstacle, the ultimate crisis, and as a result, all the loose ends of the story will be tied up. Hopefully you have built to this point in an organic way, and not simply paint-by-numbers. The conflicts and resolution need to come naturally and realistically, so think about that from the very beginning as you “plant the seeds” so to speak, of your plot. You are also going to want to end your story soon after the crisis is solved, because the reader’s interest will wane once the problem has been solved. Think of it in the terms of a movie — the big disaster happens, the hero saves the day; everyone is happy — does the film still linger on for another twenty minutes? No, it ends usually within minutes of the crisis being solved. Once there is no more tension, there is less interest for the viewer, or in this case, the reader. No need to drag it on beyond the solution.
So now you have some basic idea how to structure your plot, and you have an idea in mind. Good. What’s next? Well, some dynamic characters to help fuel your plot forward. I think this is where some authors stumble. There are many writers out there who are capable of forging detailed, exciting plots, but when it comes to the characters involved, they simply don’t know how to write beyond the basic stereotype. An example of this would be author James Patterson. Patterson has written over 52 novels, most of them featuring his character, Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist formerly of the Washington D.C. Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation who now works as a private psychologist and government consultant.
The Alex Cross books are some of the most popular books among Patterson readers and the top selling US Detective series in the past ten years. In the few that I’ve read, Patterson weaves thrilling intricate tales with many twists and turns, however, I’ve found that his characters are boring, bordering on cardboard. They are simply there as plot devices, and are not sketched as real-life people. The dialogue is wooden and cliché and I’ve never been impressed. I’m not the only one who feels this way — Stephen King once called Patterson a “terrible writer” only capable of writing “dopey thrillers.” Obviously, these comments have not hurt Patterson’s book sales, but regardless, it is clear his strong point is not sketching colorful characters. Other writers have the opposite problem — they have many strong characters dancing around in their head, but they have no story to put them in (this is generally the problem that I have myself).
There are two types of characters you can write. First there is a dynamic character, which is someone who undergoes an important, internal change because of the action in the plot. (Think Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol). Second, you have a static character – someone whose personality doesn’t change throughout the events in the story’s plot. This character does not need to undergo any redemption or changes; they are simply the same person at the end of the story as they were at the beginning. For example, someone who is kind and loyal at the start is going to be kind and loyal at the end as well.
Now every fiction writer will tell you that compelling characters are at the heart of all good fiction. Simply writing characters into a story to fit your plot makes them nothing more than window dressing. Without a character to care about, why would we want to read this story? If our main protagonist is boring, stereotypical, and unsympathetic then why would we want to read about him or her for 600 pages? It’s okay to make your protagonist not so nice (again, like Ebenezer Scrooge), but do so in an interesting way, and make this character change as the story progresses. Initially, if your character is someone we are supposed to dislike, then you will need to show the growth of this character so the audience will learn to sympathize as they read on. By the end, there should be some sort of fundamental change so that this character is somewhat likable. If so, you have done your job as a good writer.
It’s also important to get to know your characters. You don’t need to tell the reader everything about them; for example, we don’t necessarily need to know what the main character’s shoe size is, or what his or her voice sounds like, or what pets he or she had growing up, but maybe these are things you as the author should know. The better you know your character inside and out, the better you can understand them and write for them. I took a creative writing class in high school and my teacher gave us a tip that I used in later years to help me write. She had told us to make a list — personality traits, favorite things, physical attributes, etc. — and fill it out for each of the main characters in our story. Many of the things on the list are things you don’t have to particularly mention or use in your story; but this will help you build a complete, well-rounded individual. If you feel like you are writing a real flesh-and-blood character, they will jump off the pages.
Lastly, you will need to put good words in your characters’ mouths. This has always been one of my strong points. Some authors find it hard to sound realistic sounding dialogue and write it straight and to the point. For example, take this line of dialogue:
“I am going to the grocery store and then I am going to the mall and when I get home we will talk about this problem.”
Sure, it gets the point across, but nobody really talks like that. Let’s try something else:
“Okay, so I have to run to the grocery store and then I’m going to hit the mall. When I get back we’ll talk, okay?”
See how that second snippet flows much more smoothly? You can actually hear someone saying that. Try to keep your ears open and listen to the people around you. Listen to how everyone talks differently, and how the conversation flows. Sound the conversation out in your head before you write it down and just let it flow. This natural dialogue will also help make your characters seem like flesh-and-blood people.
In the end, if you apply these tips to help write your novel, success will follow. One last tip is to give your story a voice and make it unique. I can’t stress that enough. People want to read something different. Do yourself a favor; spend a weekend watching the Independent Film Channel or the Sundance Channel on Dish Network. Notice how unique and quirky some of those movies are, how real they seem. Try to use that and apply it to your story.
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How to Make Money as a Children’s Author by Ruth Barringham
If you want to make money writing for children, then becoming a children’s author is a great place to start.
Children’s books are quick to write and very easy to market. You can write a manuscript for a children’s book in as little as 2 weeks. And because the market for children’s books is so huge right now, it’s easy to get an agent or publisher interested in your book in less than a month.
Let me explain.
Unlike some adult books, children’s books aren’t huge tomes and are not full of long complicated words or difficult-to-follow plots.
This makes them easier, and therefore faster, to write.
If you sat down and wrote for only 2 hours a day, you could get your work to final manuscript in 2 weeks or less.
And working this quickly doesn’t mean that your book won’t be good. On the contrary; you’ll find it’s plenty of time to write a future best-seller.
And because the children’s book market is constantly growing, there are plenty of agents and publishers looking for the next Terry Pratchett, Dr Seuss or J K Rowling.
So once your manuscript is written you only need to write a great synopsis and query letter, and send it to every children’s literary agent and publisher to quickly get your work snapped up and under contract in a short time.
Or, because it’s so simple to market a children’s book, you might want to self publish the book yourself.
One of the easiest and most profitable places to market your children’s book is to the library supply companies.
Libraries stock thousands of children’s books and with so many libraries in the world, the supply companies have to buy in bulk to keep up with demand.
Children’s books are the most borrowed type of book from the public libraries. In Australia (where I live) in 2007, ninety seven of the top one hundred most-borrowed library books were all children’s books. So knowing just how popular they are, you can imagine the enormous number of children’s books that are sold to the libraries every year.
For instance; there are over 14,000 libraries in Australia, so if only half of them bought a copy of your book (and when it comes to children’s books they usually want to buy more than one copy each), you’d still sell over 7,000 books. And the USA has over 10-times the number of libraries that Australia has. So you can imagine how massive their library sales can be.
There are also hundreds of children’s book clubs and they buy in even bigger bulk than the library supply companies. Just one order from a book club could be a single sale of 20,000 copies of your book, or more.
And we haven’t even begun to look at the sales from book stores, online book stores, children’s stores, play groups and more.
Once you know the age group that your book is intended for, you’ll probably come up with dozens more targeted places to market your book such as children’s web sites and children’s magazines.
But there’s one thing for certain; children are reading more. Even parents of very young children are introducing them to books at a very young age.
And all this has created a significant rise in the demand for new children’s book.
So if you want to make money as a children’s author, there’s never been a better time to start.
3 Vital Steps for Novice Fiction Writers
by Kevin Franz
Do you have a story inside you that’s just waiting to get out? Do you want to learn to write powerful, emotional stories? In this article I’ll reveal three vital steps that can put you on the road to story telling success.
More than ten years ago I had a simple goal. I wanted to write down the bedtime stories that I had been telling my daughters. Each night, when they went to bed, I would turn out the lights and make up an adventure with my daughters as the stars. And I thought it would fun to write down the stories as a memento of that special time.
Sound familiar? Perhaps you have a story inside of you that you are ready to let out. Or perhaps you’ve already tried to write fiction and met with frustration instead of completed chapters. Or maybe you’re just looking to expand your writing skills to include story writing. Well, if any of those sound like you, I have three steps for you to take, that helped me go from a dreamer to a published author.
Step 1 – Start Small
Make your first story something manageable, like, say, a 5-page short story. Don’t set your sights on writing a 2000 page trilogy as your first project. That would be like taking a baby that’s learning to walk and entering him or her in the Boston Marathon! It doesn’t make sense, and it can only lead to failure. Instead, think carefully about the project to which you plan to devote time, and make sure it’s something you can complete in a few days or a week. Then you can build on that success.
Step 2 – Have a Plan
People often picture authors starting at Chapter 1, Page 1, and writing the story sequentially, page by page, until finally they reach the words, “the end.” It rarely works that way. Instead, you need to plan how the story is going to look. You need a roadmap, with a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end. Too often beginning writers start off down the path of writing with no clear direction of where the story will end up. This leads to one of two outcomes: Either they burn out and never finish, or the “completed” story lacks action to keep the reader’s attention. In short, it either doesn’t get written, or it’s boring.
Instead, write out a brief outline before you begin. Note where the main conflict is, and don’t forget that your main character must change! He or she must be different by the end, effected by the events of your story.
Step 3 – Finish What You Start
I have a question for you: How many people do you think – approximately – FINISHED writing a story last year? I don’t know the exact number, but my guess is that the number is far smaller than the number of people who started a story. Starting is easy. Finishing is hard.
I encourage you to do whatever it takes to get to the end of that first story. Don’t be one of those people with 19 versions of page one, and zero versions of page 2. Just get something on paper and keep rolling along until you reach the end. You can always go back later and fix whatever you don’t like, but at least you’ll have something to edit.
When you’re done, celebrate! Remember, there is a special word we get to use for those that actually finish writing a story. That word is . . . author.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Once you develop your story writing skills, what can you do next? One of the best, and most profitable actions, is to add a great story to your advertising and marketing. I would like to invite you to check out a special “white paper” that I have written on exactly that topic. Simply go to www.FictionSecrets.com and let me know where to send it.
About the Author
Kevin Franz is a successful fiction author and online marketer. For more than twenty years he has made his living putting words to paper, and he has helped thousands create their first written works. He is currently showing internet marketers how to incorporate the techniques of great fiction into their online sales efforts. You can find the details on his blog – www.kevinfranz.wordpress.com
Writing Romance – Why Love can help Your Fiction Sell
by Annette Young
When writing romance, put aside any cynical thoughts and focus instead on innocent dreams and memories from your youth because capturing that all important innocent essence is vital when trying to portray that spark of attraction between two of your characters. Writing romance can add sparkle to a scene or indeed, depth to a character and as it can encompass different layers for your characters, it provides glimpses of the person you are trying to create. Writing romance scenes can be fun for the writer too and it can help the story or novel to sell, because romantic fiction is hugely popular in these stricken financial times.
We all like escapism. Readers may want a story which has a semblance of gritty realism but they also want stories of hope, laughter and romance. Fiction needs to have aspects of true life so that readers can relate to it and interlacing romantic moments can produce feel – good factors throughout. When writing romance just remember that it does not all have to be hearts and flowers and over the top romantic gestures to make it work, in fact, depending on the type of fiction that you are planning to write, it can have variations of romance which either carry or support the story as it unfolds.
Romance can also add much needed obstacles to the story and these add weight to any storyline and draw the reader in. Obstacles work in a variety of ways because they add depth to the characters and to the storyline but they also take the reader on a voyage of discovery and leaves them wanting to know whether the obstacles were finally overcome. Using obstacles to prevent the romantic liaisons from progressing also works incredibly well and the actions of the characters involved then start to reveal a great deal about their personalities going forward.
Of course, if writing a short story, word count is going to be limited greatly and so the writer must know exactly what the story is about and also how much romantic content it will contain. Finding the relevant starting point is also important and writing a compelling opening paragraph essential. All readers secretly want a happy ending in some shape or form, it doesn’t have to be that the romance works as long as there is some hope that it has worked out for the best or perhaps within those final paragraphs, there are hints of a better alternative as the story closes. Sometimes leaving out some information and avoiding finalising the story down to the very last detail can have the reader’s imagination soaring as they being to perceive those characters as three dimensional entities and start to think about the plot, how it progresses and ultimately ends.
Romantic interludes work well. The writer does not need to write intense or heavily erotic scenes if they feel uncomfortable with that, instead they can suggest a positive intensity between their characters by well-crafted dialogue and descriptive scenes. When writing romance, it is essential to provide dark and light elements to vital scenes and allow the reader to convey the subtle influences within the text.
Writing Short Stories – From Amateur to Professional Status
by Annette Young
Writing short stories or poetry is where most writers begin their long journey towards publication. It provides a perfect creative outlet for those who have the feint stirrings of a story to tell and wish to transfer those creative thoughts to paper. Crafting a unique and well-rounded story is not easy and there are many pitfalls but with a little help, success is only a few steps away. When writing short stories, always consider what you are trying to achieve. It is very easy for the writer to become lost in the depths of their own imagination and a 1000 word story can easily be trebled. Writing short stories is an art form and it deserves a great deal of recognition as the writer must be focussed and dedicated to the task at hand.
There are many different story lengths available, writers can choose to write flash fiction which can be anything from approximately 50 words up to 1000, although many fiction magazines seek out stories which also have had the chance to develop and grow and these can be around the 2000 word mark.
Identifying a market for the story is the first step and then once this has been determined, it is time to plan the story in its entirety. Writing short stories that will sell readily requires additional planning, so extend the market research around the intended publication. For example, what do you know about the readership? A story about a teenage pregnancy is not going to be of interest to publications aimed at those in their senior years unless the writer can make it relate to them significantly.
Many writers fail at the first post by writing solely for themselves. There is of course, nothing wrong with writing for the sheer joy of creativity alone, but as many writers would like nothing more than to see their story and name in print, it is vital that those writers change their mind set from that of an amateur to a professional and this will then afford them much more opportunities and in fact, fuel that creative fire even further.
When writing a story with a minimal word count, many writers neglect to develop their characters fully but it is important that the reader begins to connect with the characters and start to care as to the outcome, otherwise the story will lack interest for them. Allow the reader to identify with a strong human interest angle and this will help keep them interested and following through to the end.
Stories are around us all the time but it is our own unique interpretation that makes the story come alive. As writers, it is important that any witnessed mannerisms, characteristics and events are all stored away for future use, as aspects of events can be used in short stories, for example an old creepy building that you may have observed in passing could be used when trying to picture a haunted house for a ghost story. Life produces unlimited opportunities for story tellers everywhere but when writing short stories with a serious intent, we have to make good use of this free material and then we can go from amateur to professional quickly and easily.
Writing Horror – How to Terrify your Readers
by Annette Young
Writing horror stories that can immerse your readers completely and make them relive the terror is something that most writers in this genre are trying to achieve. It’s not always easy though and a poorly written horror story can be almost comedic in comparison. The writer has to establish a creative and solid foundation to their story first which means knowing the plot inside and out and then weave the suspenseful elements into that existing plot. Writing horror may not be the easiest genre to write in, but it can certainly be an exciting and captivating one and a lesson in writing and building suspense.
When writing horror, it is important that the writer knows the direction of the story as many writers begin their stories without a clear sense of direction and this can lead to a confusing plot with a myriad of limitless possibilities. If the writer becomes confused, then it is quite certain that the reader will be too. It is important that the reader finds it easy to read the story irrespective of whether it’s a short story or a novel. Why make it hard on the reason to immerse them in the plot line?
If the thought of writing horror is a compelling one, then make sure that you adhere to the following points:
• Consider the plot carefully and make it as original as possible.
• Understand what ‘you’ are trying to get across to your readers and don’t waffle.
• Think about word count. Assuming you would like to get your work published, it is important to research the publication you are likely to submit to. Sending 5000 words to a publisher whose requirements are for stories with a 2000 word maximum word count is bound to end in a rejection.
• Create characters that almost jump off the page, this means learning about those characters inside and out before writing the story. Make sure they are 3 dimensional and include characteristics that will tie in naturally with your story.
• Consider where to create suspense for the reader.
• To write horror, it is always useful to consider what frightens you on an individual level. If it frightens you, then it equally could scare the reader.
• Remember that horror does not have to be gory; fear can be escalated in a number of ways, in fact, sometimes it is what the writer doesn’t say but merely hints at that will begin to unnerve the reader. Let their imaginations work.
• Consider your word count and then work out just where the story needs to starts. A novel should have an exciting opening but can build up the horror and suspense naturally. A short story has to be written in an entirely different way.
• Create a title that intrigues and draws the reader in.
Building an overall plan regarding your story can help save time in the long run. It certainly helps to prevent the writer from meandering within the plot and be able to confidently move the plot forward. Don’t forget that for horror stories, the pace of the story is extremely important as the reader must be carried into the story from beginning through to end and their attention must be held by your carefully crafted words. So, when writing horror successfully – think, plan and learn to write instinctively for maximum effect.
The ‘chick lit’ market is going from strength to strength as more and more young women find that they can relate so uncannily to the characters in these books. These books address concepts that all women will face in some way and at some time in their lives. Whether it be facing the dilemma of balancing motherhood with a career; or whether it is having to make the choice between a sensible life partner that your parents would adore or choosing the rugged, good for nothing man that sends your heart racing! Chick lits are invariably an easy and light-hearted read written in a humorous tone and littered with slang and clichés and modern cultural references that young women can relate to.A good chick lit read will contain the following key elements:
* A female lead: The main character will be struggling in at least one if not all of the dimensions of her life. These dimensions generally being her career, her love life and her relationships with family and friends.
* A unique style of writing: Often being as a recount of the heroine’s disastrous efforts in love and life, this can sometimes be in a diary format, such as ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, which was one of the more successful ‘chick lits’. The style of writing ensures that the book can be picked up, read and enjoyed in short bursts.
* Humour: The book will generally highlight the character’s failings or day to day happenings with a humorous slant.
* Sexual themes: A good chick lit will not shy away from the inclusion of sex and it is often written about in a very frank manner.
* Glamorous setting: These stories are often written around the supposedly glamorous worlds of fashion or media, although more often than not the story reveals that the reality is not quite as the reader would expect.
* Modern references: References to the latest designer shoes or to celebrity lives can often be found in a good chick lit and it adds to the relevance that the reader can find within the story.
* An unexpected twist: Although chick lits are expected to be an easy read, the more successful books always have a quirky outcome or twist that makes finishing the book even more worthwhile.
So if you want to write successful chick lit make sure you incorporate these simple elements.
In this srticle you will find the elements that are essential to the success of any chick lit manuscript.
Want your Chick Lit Manuscriptto be noticed? Visit Words Worth Reading for professional writer’s proofreading / appraisal services.
Writing for the sake of writing
By: Mikal Jhonson
What are the pros and cons of writing short stories and posting them online for money as opposed to writing short stories just for the sake of writing itself?
The first thing that a writer interested in writing online stories as a means of living must accept is that it’s not easy selling your online stories to willing publishers over the Internet. While there may be a lot of literary agents and publishers out there who may accept your works, the money you can possibly get from writing short stories online is not that big.
Of course there may have been a few writers out there who found it quite easy to write short stories online for online consumption but these are the distinguished few who have already established a niche and a name in the online literary market. Stephen King, being one of the most prominent examples, has already tested the online waters with huge aplomb but that’s because he has already created a name for himself publishing horror novels in the traditional form prior to writing short stories online.
In your case though, being one who is only starting on your literary career, you may find it pretty difficult to penetrate the market when writing short stories online. There might be occasional websites who are willing to pay you decent sums of money but as a general observation, the competition in writing short stories online for money is really tight and difficult. For instance, granted you write short stories online impressively, but most of the online publishing houses would just give you that proverbial glare because you are a new author who has yet to establish a name in the literary market.
As such, it has always been recommended that you write short stories online first for the sake of writing itself before you plunge into using your writing for a living. Sign up to some respectable writing websites for authors who have been writing online stories. Publish your works there until such a time that you’re already noticed by a wider online readership other than your family and kin.
As soon as you have established your name in the various writing websites, publishing companies will eventually notice your talent in writing short stories and before you know it, they’ll be tailing you off and asking you to write short stories online for them. Good luck!
The first thing that a writer interested in writing online stories as a means of living must accept is that it’s not easy selling your online stories to willing publishers over the Internet. While there may be a lot of literary agents and publishers out there who may accept your works, the money you can possibly get from writing short stories online is not that big.
For more information about writing short stories online and writing online stories please logon to our website
Three Fiction Writing Concerns
by Kathryn Lively
One of the challenges an editor must face is polishing the work of an author without erasing too much of that author’s style. If you follow a particular novelist, you might notice over time particular quirks to dialog and narrative that shape the author’s unique voice, little things inspired to endear readers over time. It may be a method of relaying a specific dialect, a favorite phrase used in more than one book, or even a mechanic style one doesn’t often see in certain genres.
Fantasy authors, for example, may feature characters that communicate by thought. To enhance this phenomenon to the reader, use of italics denotes what is being thought, rather than said. Some authors may take this device and imprint a unique style by adding asterisks or other characters to further emphasize the story. Other books may use different fonts to express and highlight different aspect of their tales as well.
An author should be unique in writing style, and should possess a voice that attracts readers and inspires them to want to seek out books that mimic yours, rather than leave them guessing for whom you take after. That said, there are a number of tics that readers (and editors) may find more annoying than amusing. In the spirit of previous articles on the subject of style, I hereby submit three more personal nitpicks of mine: devices and phrases I have seen in bestsellers and small press offerings. The following are not necessarily incorrect or improper, but may cause distraction if overused in a manuscript. Grab a pen and proceed with caution.
1) There was no other word for it.
I can’t tell you how many times I have suggested in edits that authors strike this sentence from their works. It is common narrative, used mainly to emphasize shock or surprise as felt by a character.
When Brian pulled the gun on her, Darlene was flabbergasted. There was no other word for it.
You think so? What about shocked, galled, puzzled, speechless, amazed, surprised, or bewildered? A quick search in the Thesaurus may produce more suitable words to describe how Darlene is feeling, standing there at the end of a gun, wondering if her life is about to end. Quite personally, were I in Darlene’s situation, one other word would come to mind…it’s about four letters long!
Is this phrase used incorrectly? Not really. Taking the scene from Darlene’s point of view, there could be no other words to say. Having a gun pointed at your face doesn’t necessarily inspire anything verbose outside of screaming in fear or gasping for breath. Is the phrase necessary? Not really. As a matter of personal opinion, tacking on “there was no other word for it” seems rather superfluous in this situation. If there is no other word to describe what Darlene is feeling, why not leave the scene at flabbergasted? Why add on dressing to an already tense scene, when brevity better evokes a sense of doom?
When Brian pulled the gun on her, Darlene was flabbergasted. She grasped the doorknob for support and pressed a hand to her chest to keep her heart from bursting. “What are you doing?” she finally cried.
Continue with the action of the scene without unnecessary words getting in the way, and keep Darlene alert in front of that gun.
When I send manuscripts for evaluation, one thing I ask readers to look for is concise differentiation of point of view. Are scenes constructed in a manner that one point of view is presented clearly? Otherwise, does the narrative appear too jumbled with too many voices shouting to heard over the others?
In fiction, third person point of view is easily the more popular style – over first-person, where the story is told entirely by one character, either a lead (e.g. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum) or an observer of the leads (e.g. Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway, who tells the story of Gatsby and Daisy), and the rarely used second person (see Bright Lights, Big City for an oft-used example). Within the third person point of view are two distinctive styles: limited, which presents the story told from the perspective of a character based only on what he/she knows, and omniscient, where the character’s perspective of things is broader. In the case of omniscient point of view, the narrative might not even be told from the perspective of an active character, but an outsider watching and sensing everything that happens.
In a book written in the third person limited point of view, the perspective does not have to be limited to one character. In romance especially, point of view may switch from the hero to the heroine at various intervals. In mainstream fiction, perspective may expand to a number of core characters. Other books, especially cozy mysteries, limited the perspective to that of the sleuth, while a more intense thriller may also get into the head of a criminal.
However you decide to tell your story, it is strongly recommended to keep the perspective limited to one point of view within a distinguishable scene. In other words, avoid the device known as “head-hopping,” where point of view changes so swiftly within a passage that the reader might not know who is thinking what. While telling a story from different points of view is acceptable, it is suggested to make the shifts obvious so the reader can keep track. Head-hopping can be distracting to readers, and especially to editors who might decide the manuscript is too muddled to fix in a reasonable amount of time.
And now…we come to a device overused more than the comma…the ellipsis. Yes, there is actually a name for the “dot-dot-dot” that follows a trailed away thought, a break in conversation, or a tease into a sudden action. Used properly, the ellipsis indicates an omission of words; for example, if you have ever seen a movie ad where Roger Ebert proclaims American Pie is “The best film…of the year,” there is a good chance the film’s PR people are spinning critics words and exaggerating praise. For all we know, Ebert really said, “The best film to walk out of when you’re sick. Lord of the Rings is the best film of the year.”
In fiction, I often see ellipses unnecessarily used, whether to enhance a character’s flighty thought or conflict, or merely to make the prose more dramatic. In truth, words are better at doing that, and I would strongly advise any author who wishes to overdress his fiction in dots, dashes, and other superfluous characters to think twice. Stay to an active voice and let your sentences flow.
Take this advice as you will. As writers, you are the most comfortable with your style, but as you submit to editors and publishers they may not find that same level of ease you enjoy. Be judicious with punctuation and other devices, and tighten that manuscript for a future sale.
Here are three common writing situations all authors should consider in their craft.
Kathryn Lively offers book marketing tips to authors, and writes for CINIVA, Virginia Beach website design
Writers – Cultivate that Winning Streak
by Annette Young
Writers are continuously looking for ways to expand their techniques, keep their writing fresh and finding writing opportunities that can pay well. As such, they should not overlook the benefits and potential of entering writing competitions. Benefits are numerous; they help writers to generate a multitude of ideas, to form additional focus and commitment to any given topic as well as afford the opportunity to try out different styles and techniques. Plus, they provide the opportunity to earn some excellent cash prizes or other lucrative incentives. Just as importantly, success in a writing competition can provide an incredible boost to the writer’s confidence, accelerating their individual progress on the publishing trail.
There are numerous writing competitions available whether through traditional writing publications or through websites, and there are equally numerous competition themes guaranteed to stimulate the creative process. Because of the abundance of available writing competitions, writers can easily pick and choose the competition that inspires them the most and this will provide them with a strong incentive to actually start writing. Shopping around for a well-run competition is beneficial, perhaps choosing those competitions with an established record and where the website is updated regularly – if it is an online event or publication. If there are any doubts about the validity of the competition, either contact the competition organiser for answers to any questions or take your time and look for an equally inspiring but safer to enter competition.
The whole competition process is often addictive to writers as to be able to produce a submission worthy of winning a prize, the writer must compete not only against other writers – some of a high calibre but also, against themselves by way of self motivation, determination, focus and imagination. Many writers submit their work without checking spelling or grammar and also without really having committed to a strong idea and this means that the article will appear to lack focus and purpose, something that the competition judges will immediately notice.
For any writer seriously considering entering writing competitions, it is important that they give themselves a fighting chance and don’t make the fatal mistake of coming up with an idea and thinking that it will be sufficient. Writing ideas need to be cultivated, cosseted and allowed to grow – sometimes developing into much better and stronger ideas with impact. Just remember that judges are looking at a multitude of areas when making that final decision – idea, style, pace, word count, presentation and imagination. The best writers could produce a well –written entry based on a weak idea and they would be very unlikely to be placed.
Writers should cultivate that winning streak by being imaginative, determined and by putting heart and soul into their submissions.
by Annette Young
Five Ways to Write Deeper Fiction
By Lisa Dale
Lisa Dale has been published in many national literary magazines and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best New American Voices.
If you want to enchant your audiences, considering upping your writing game and exploring deeper ideas in your fiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing thrillers, mysteries, romances, science fiction, or erotica. The potential for writing truly meaningful stories or novels is there. If you’re writing about humans (or even human-like non-humans), your plot is primed for real insight. Here are some techniques that may help inspire you to tackle meaningful issues.
Pay attention. To deepen your writing, you also need to deepen your experience of your own life. Are you paying attention? Watch for the details. When you see something that strikes you as interesting, stop. Think deeply about why it’s interesting to you. Don’t just say “it’s interesting because it is.” Dig deep. The results will show in your writing.
Read. If you are reading widely, your writing will show it. You’ll have better techniques and a bigger worldview. Read in as many genres as possible-not just the ones that you’re comfortable with. If your usual genre is mystery, challenge yourself to read science fiction. Get out of your reading comfort zone, and your readers will thank you.
What scares you? Think of the things that scare you most. Losing money? Dinosaurs? Clowns? Or are you scared by the issues: loss of human rights, gross unfairness in the coffee trade, environmental hazards. Fear plays a part in every plot in some way. Are you digging deep enough into what it means to be afraid?
Grace. In our lives, we all experience moments of unexpected grace. Grace brings us startling insight into ourselves or others. Grace can show us fundamental human decency. Grace can be forgiveness, self-realization, clarity, joy, and certainty. The best moments of grace in fiction come when they are least expected. What does grace mean to you? Do your characters experience unexpected grace?
Slow down. To write thoughtful fiction, you can’t expect to write fast fiction. If you’re shooting for X number of pages each day, chances are you’re more focused on meeting an artificial goal than you are on writing unique, special, insightful content. When you slow down and explore all the various nooks and crannies (possibilities) for a given scene, you often deepen that scene. You may not get to the finish line quickly, but you’ll be dancing as you go.
Lisa Dale has been published in many national literary magazines and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best New American Voices. She also writes romance/women’s fiction novels for a major New York publishing house. Her first two novels, SIMPLE WISHES and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, are available for purchase and/or pre-order.
Seminars and lectures (including a FREE! audio download) are available on her website, http://www.LisaDaleBooks.com Her blog, http://www.LisaDaleBlog.com, dissects, scrutinizes, and tinkers with “how books work.” PRIZES are given away monthly on her LOVE TO READERS page. Come talk books and say hi!
Writing to Win
by Annette Young
Writers often need a challenge to enable them to stay motivated and to keep their creative muse burning bright and nothing challenges a writer more than when entering a writing competition.
The very thought of pitting their wits against the imaginations of others is enough to have some writers sweating blood and tears as they pour out words onto the blank page. Some writers can become incredibly successful when entering competitions and because the benefits can be huge, it is not surprising that they put a lot of time and effort into each entry.
Choosing the writing competition that inspires is a must however and this is not difficult to do because there are numerous competitions available that cover a wide variety of subjects. Some competitions have an open theme whilst others provide a theme which must be adhered to and these may be harder in some respects because the guidelines are available for all and this then calls for a very imaginative response from the writer.
Finding a unique angle and interpreting the theme imaginatively is not easy but it is necessary to enable the writer to have a fighting chance of winning. Sometimes the first ideas that spring to mind are not necessarily the best and it is useful to mull over ideas before even committing the first words to paper. Many writers will tend to think along the same lines initially; and learning to open up new avenues from those first suggestive thoughts is certainly worth exploring as these can lead to real winning ideas that stand out from the other submissions.
Whilst generating an exceptional idea is a real step in the right direction, the actual standard of writing must also be as good. An exceptional idea can quickly lose its advantage with competition judges if the words do not flow, pace is faltering and it is followed by poor spelling for example.
Allowing time to produce a well –written and imaginative entry is essential even if some writers thrive on pressure, there is often little time to make important changes if the deadline is looming. Of course there will always be a degree of luck involved as it can be dependant on who is judging and of course, their criteria. Every effort should be made to produce a tightly written and compelling entry that keeps the judges hanging on to every word.
This challenge on the writer’s ability to interpret a theme and create something unique is what makes competition writing exciting but a little forethought and increased creativity can ensure a winning entry, cash prize and an endorsement for the writer in addition.
Freelance writer/editor Creative Competitor
Edit Your Novel In Three Easy Steps
by Nina Davies
You’ve finished your first draft. Congratulations! Now it’s time to step back for a few weeks and free your mind. After you’ve taken a break, it’s time to start editing.
Editing can be tough. It requres a different mindset from the free-flowing approach many writers use with their first draft. But don’t worry. Follow the three steps outlined in this article and your novel will soon be polished and ready to send to an editor or agent.
Think of your novel as a 3-level house. The bottom layer, or foundation, consists of your basic storyline. The next layer consists of the scenes you’ve used to tell the story. The top layer consists of the sentences you chose to bring the scene to life.
Story –> Scenes –> Sentences
To create a strong novel you need to work from the bottom up. First you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your story, next you consider the scenes. Only after you have revised your story and scene choices should you fiddle with individual sentences and paragraphs. Using this method you avoid working on a specific section only to decide that the whole scene needs to be deleted!
Now let’s look at each step in detail. The first task is to ensure you have told a strong story. Brainstorm a list of questions to help you evaluate your narrative. Some questions to consider include:
– Does your main character have a goal that drives him/her through the story?
– Is the external barrier that prevents the main character from reaching his/her goal substantial enough to carry the book?
– Is the book set in the correct physical location? The right time period? At the right time of year?
Once you are satisfied with the arc of your story, you need to analyze each individual scene to make it as strong as possible. Again, list the important elements a scene should include and evaluate your writing. Some issues to consider include:
– Does the point-of-view character have an objective during this scene that is relevant to their story goal?
– Is there a good mix of narrative, dialogue, and introspection?
– Can the reader feel the emotions of the characters? Are the emotions believable?
When you are satisfied with your story and scene structure, it is time to work at the sentence and paragraph level. Hereýs where you refine your word choices and sentence structure to make your writing as strong as it can be. Make a list of the criteria your writing should meet. For example:
– Do you vary your sentence length and avoid prolonged sections with sentences of the same length?
– Do you avoid repetition of the same word or phrase?
– Do you minimize adverbs and other weak words like ‘was/were’, ‘have/had’, ‘feel/felt’, etc?
Once you’ve completed the third pass through your manuscript, you can be confident you’ve considered all of the important elements.
But what if you have trouble brainstorming the right questions to ask at each stage. Consider saving time by finding an existing checklist. You can find many online, including the one I recommend (available from AutoCrit, of course!)
Good luck with your editing. It’s the key to turning ‘first draft’ into ‘fabulous’.
You’ve finished your first draft. Congratulations! Now it’s time to step back for a few weeks and free your mind. After you’ve taken a break, it’s time to start editing.
Editing can be tough. It requres a different mindset from the free-flowing approach many writers use with their first draft. But don’t worry. Follow the three steps outlined in this article and your novel will soon be polished and ready to send to an editor or agent.
Nina Davies is the founder of www.AutoCrit.com, a fabulous website for writers — chosen as one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers!
Whenever an aspiring writer speaks to me about fiction writing tips, one of the most frequently asked questions is: how do you find the time to write?The answer I want to give, “just do it,” doesn’t quite suffice. So in this article, we’ll examine the matter in a little more detail.
We live in a busy world, with numerous demands on our time: jobs, spouses, children, draining work commutes, TV shows we want to watch, emails to read and respond to, phone calls to family and friends. When you look at your daily schedule, it may appear that you simply don’t have time to write.
Well, I’ve got both good and bad news for you.
The good news: even with a tight schedule, you can still get work done. The bad news? Something in your lifestyle will have to suffer, or change, to accommodate your fiction writing.
There are no short cuts, no easy answers. You’ve got to get creative–and motivated.
For example, do you get a lunch break at your job? Start taking a notepad with you and using that time–even if it’s only thirty minutes–to work on your stories. Do you commute to work via carpool, bus, or subway? Instead of reading the newspaper or listening to music on your iPod, plug away on your novel.
One of the keys to productivity is learning how to identify those pockets of free time during the day, and then using them to your benefit. It’s not as hard as you may think. In fact, when you really examine your daily schedule, you might be astounded at how much you could accomplish.
Can you do some fiction writing while your children are playing, eating, or napping? Could you scribble or dictate a few paragraphs while waiting in line somewhere? Zip out some prose as you wait for dinner to cook?
And yes, you might even have to give up some things. Do you really have to watch all of those TV shows every week? Do you have to spend hours on social networking web sites, accomplishing nothing in particular?
Locate the “fat” in your life, trim it out, and replace it with some fiction writing! Even if all you can manage is just one hour a day, that is something. Do a page an hour and you’ll have a solid draft in 9 – 10 months, which isn’t so bad at all.
You can do it. Really. Starting today.
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Evelyn Louise is a long time user and passionate advocate of natural skin care methods. Visit her site now to discover the cutting edge, quality skin care products she recommends after her extensive research: http://www.healthy-skin-care-products.com/
Tips to Start Collecting Ideas for Your Novel
by Derry Sampey
Don’t you just love it when non-writers assume that all a writer needs to do is sit around and wait to be struck by inspiration, then pound out a best-seller and become fabulously wealthy overnight? Yeah, me too!
If sitting around doesn’t work for you, either, there are plenty of other ways to accumulate story ideas. And once you have good ideas, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to turn them into good stories. The process may not be quite as effortless as waiting for inspiration to strike, but if you follow these easy steps that have worked well for countless other writers, you will soon find yourself on the creative path to success!
The first thing you must do is be prepared to gather information that will stimulate the development of good story ideas. To accomplish this, you need to carry a pen and notepad or a voice recorder of some kind. If you don’t log information about people and events right away, you might forget important details about them by the time you are able to get to your keyboard.
The poet William Wordsworth once said that successful writing comes from emotion recollected in tranquility, which obviously worked well for him. Did he take notes? Who knows? But Wordsworth did not have a full-time job, nor did he keep up the yard, shop for groceries or put up with the 1,001 other distractions most of us deal with on a daily basis. So be prepared to record snippets of conversations and descriptions of interesting sights and sounds, as well as all of the ideas and emotions they arouse in you.
Where do you start? That’s easy. Study the people around you, in stores, at meetings, on planes. Who are they? What kind of lives do they lead? What caught your attention about certain ones? Politely eavesdrop on other diners in restaurants or on people waiting in lines with you. You will overhear the most amazing, not to mention extremely useful, story ideas!
Jog your memory by reading your old diaries or journals. If you don’t have any, then read other people’s published diaries and journals. Let your mind turn the words into videos that kindle ideas and emotions leading to perfect story-starters. Listen to music that moves you. From classical concertos to golden oldies, music is the background of our lives, so mine it for old memories or new ideas. Lie in the grass and stare at the clouds. Where have they been? Where are they going? Where would you like to go, and why?
Study both human interest and hard news stories in periodicals and on the Internet. Let an odd twist or turn you read or hear about kick-start your imagination. Or borrow fascinating fragments from other people’s lives and mix and match them for your own use. Browse through your high school yearbooks. What do you think happened to some of the people pictured in them? (Even better, ask yourself what you hope happened!)
After you have gathered some good story ideas, choose several that appear ripe for development. Next, analyze them to decide about the fiction genres into which they fit. Mystery? Romance? Comedy? When you have made your decisions, write several paragraphs roughing out a plot for each one.
About the Author
Derry Sampey has been an English and journalism teacher, newspaper reporter and editor, ad agency editorial director, freelance writer for several newspapers and magazines, book editor and short fiction contestant. In addition, she has worked as a writing coach and conducted numerous writing seminars. She is currently the senior editor for http://www.NewBookPublishing.com.
Creative Writing Tips -When an idea comes to us for a short story, we either think of a story line first or a character first. Whichever we think of first, and later on build, we have to make sure the plot and the character suit each other.Example one – We think of a story line first. Your story is set in a rural area. A company opens a factory and employs workers from that small town. The residents welcome this, as there aren’t many jobs going around. The management takes advantage of that fact and exploit the workers.
Using a technicality in the system, perhaps listing them under different job titles in their books, they pay them less than they are entitled. Your main character sees this injustice and leads the workers to rebel against the management.
Now in a plot like this you will need your main character to posses certain qualities. Like… Leadership
To be able to lead the people to rebel.
The workers are from a rural area. Some might be uneducated and not aware of their rights. The main character has to convince them that what the management is doing, is wrong.
Living in a rural area, jobs are hard to find. Most of the workers will view the company as their savior. Their thinking will be that receiving little money is better than none at all. The main character has to persuade them that being in a rural area the company needs them as much as the workers need the company.
Strong Personality and Confident
We need a strong character that will see things through to the end. We don’t want someone giving up when things get tough. He will also need to be confident that he is doing the right thing (not to make things worse for the workers) and believes in himself (knowing what he’s doing is right).
Strong people skills
To be able to speak and relate to people on all levels.
To negotiate a solution with management and workers.
Public speaker skills
To be able to address this mass group of workers, in a voice that is confident, persuading, authoritative etc. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So these are the qualities we will need our character to have.
Now let’s see if we can make him believable. Remember he lives in the same rural area, so what makes him different from the rest of the workers who are willing to settle for less?
I could say he recently move to that rural area from the city. He used to work as a union leader and wanted to get out of the rat race. But having fought for workers rights his entire career, he can’t stand now to see injustices and comes to the decision to fight for them and himself.
So this character would suit our plot because we need someone like him for our story.
Example two – Thinking of a character first
We notice a man on the street. Something about him triggers our interest so we decide to write about him in a short story. So at this point we will build the character first and then work a story around him.
Let’s go back to where we saw him…
He’s walking briskly along a busy street. He’s in a hurry. He’s dressed in a three-piece suit, which indicates he might be a businessman. He’s got a stack of documents under his arm; a briefcase in his left hand and his right hand is occupied by holding the phone to his ear, which he’s shouting into.
Let’s observe him closer…
He’s in his mid thirties. He looks authoritative. Perhaps he has his own business. Why is he shouting into the phone? Perhaps one of his employees made a mistake, which has cost the character a lot of money.
What if this employee made the mistake on purpose? What if he’s secretly working for the opposition, planted to destroy the main character’s company? What if the owner of that opposing company is the main character’s own brother? Etc…
So as we analyze this character and ask questions about him, our plot begins to unfold.
Plots and characters have to suit each other.
When we have finished plotting and are ready to write the story, they shouldn’t be ill-fitting pieces of a puzzle – They should be a perfect match.
Does your plot suit your characters and vice-versa?
I began writing my first novel in 1997. Six years, five drafts (give or take), two sons, and one major surgery later it was finally complete. Then it took another two years to get Cryptid published and on bookstore shelves. And don’t even ask how much Cryptid has earned me. The gravy train is certainly gaining speed, but don’t ever fool yourself that writing novels is a get-rich-quick scheme. Even the big boys like Crichton, Koontz, and Cussler will tell you that. The best-case scenario is a get-rich-slow—eternally slow—scheme. Which is to say, don’t quit your day job.Ah, but then where does one find the time, resources, energy, and muse to write after coming home from slaving for the Man (or Woman) all day?
Well, that’s the million-dollar question. Actually, it’s only half the question. The whole question is where does one find the time, resources, energy, and muse to write after working all day… and then cooking dinner, doing the dishes, helping the kids with their homework, paying bills, cutting the grass, washing the cars, checking your email, doing your nails, going for a run, seeing a movie, getting the flu, finishing your degree… need I go on?
We all have twenty-four hours in the day, even the big boys like Crichton, Koontz, and Cussler. Life happens to us all. Just ask Stephen King what a crimp his car accident put on his writing.
We all have a list of reasons to not write. They’re not excuses, really. Life doesn’t leave much room for excuses. So don’t add guilt to that list. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve only written a thousand words in the past six weeks, does it? Then what’s the answer? How did I do it?
Well, it took me six years. So one answer is simply that I didn’t quit. Little-by-little, day-by-day, year-by-year I worked at it until it was done. But be more specific. Exactly how did I find the time? OK, well another answer is that I woke my computer every night at 9 PM, Sunday through Thursday, and worked until midnight or 1 AM. I did this religiously for six years, sometimes working seven days straight.
I took a two-year commercial fiction course at the University of Washington. I was part of a weekly critique group for three years. I immersed myself in the craft. I did everything I could to make myself the best craftsman possible. Does that help?
No, I’m sure it doesn’t, because you’re not me. You will not be able to work at the craft in the same way I do. You may work a double shift for the Man and the Woman and not be able to write from 9 PM to 1 AM every night. So here’s the answer you’re really after, though you’re not going to like it because it means there’s no short cut, no magic recipe that you can simply follow and be assured success.
You see, the million-dollar answer is that I quit.
Or at least I tried to; many, many times I tried to. But I couldn’t. You know why? Because writing is not something I do, it is something I am. I’m a writer. So there is no quitting. I cannot quit being who I am. I can only accept who I am. And once I did, I never failed to find time to write. My cars may not sparkle, I hired someone to cut the grass, and I often sleep less than eight hours a night, but I write.
So my advise to you is to quit. And if you can, then you’re not a writer. It’s OK. Not everyone is. Then find out what you are and do that, but don’t go back to writing. The craft is too hard and the rewards too slow in coming to labor at it unless you have to. And writers have to.
However, if you can’t quit then you are a writer. And once you realize that you can only find joy in life if writing is a part of your life, then you will find the time. I promise you. And it won’t be my way; it’ll be your way. Just don’t quit your day job. It may not be who you are, but it will pay the bills until who you are is a writer whose name is listed in the same sentence with the big boys.
Eric Penz is the author of Cryptid: The Lost Legacy of Lewis and Clark. Did Lewis and Clark meet Bigfoot? Visit Eric’s Web site for more information, http://www.ericpenz.com
Article Source: http://www.article-buzz.com
Writing Ideas – Stimulate your Inner Creativity
by Annette Young
Writing ideas are needed in abundance if you are planning to become a professional writer at some point. For many would-be writers, it is not their ability to write well and with passion that is the difficulty but the ability to generate good writing ideas and this of course is paramount to success. Acquiring this ability is not too difficult; it is merely a matter of changing your mind set so that you can view the world and its contents through different eyes and once you are able to do this, writing ideas should flow.
Writing ideas come in all shapes and forms and inspiration can strike in the strangest ways such as a flippant remark, a TV ad, a photo or maybe even a song lyric. To start stimulating your inner creativity so that you can generate many writing ideas, begin by studying the following:
1. Practice people watching, people really do and say the funniest things, there is just so much human interest untapped potential all around you that you may as well make use of it. Be discreet however.
2. Keep a writing journal. Whenever you do get an idea, make sure to note it because even if it is not relevant currently, at some point, it could be just the idea you crave.
3. Go for a long walk. Fresh air and beautiful scenery is wonderful for clearing flagging creativity. Writing ideas need stimulation and by experiencing natural beauty all around, you are bound to become inspired.
4. Meet up with other writers. Writing can be such a lonely and isolating occupation that by meeting others it is possible to become inspired through conversation with others who share your passion for the written word. Join a local writing group or attend a college course and this will help you to be able to focus on the areas of improvement you need.
5. Practise writing ‘what if’ scenarios. These are quick and easy writing tasks which require one or two paragraphs relating to a person, conflict or a theme and this can help break down writers block and open up the creative channels.
Providing you keep an open mind and a natural curiosity for the world around you, you will start to rediscover your potential for discovering fresh writing ideas.
Annette Young is the Editor of www.creative-competitor.co.uk a site dedicated to providing creative opportunities and incentives to all participants. Annette also teaches creative writing, journalism and runs private courses and a critique service.
Writing Fiction – How to Make your Characters Come to Life
by Annette Young
When writing fiction, it is important to be able to have an interesting plot and several well developed characters that your readers (should you get published) will begin to care about. Characters after all, can make or break a story or novel because if you do not manage to make them become believable entities, why should anyone wish to continue to read? Writing fiction is about providing pure escapism and helping the reader to be able to submerge themselves into your story so that they can forget the trials and tribulations of their own existence. If you are a new writer and are considering writing fiction, you need to really think about where your story is going and how you yourself can start to believe in your characters as this is a required element.
When writing fiction and developing characters, you can make life easier for yourself by paying attention to the following steps:
1. Know what type of story you are going to write. Make sure that you know exactly what is going to happen from start to finish. You may find that this changes the general direction you have originally envisaged, however as your characters grow within the story, when it happens, it means that the characters are starting to come to life.
2. Think about the type of characters who would be required to support the plot. Your characters also need to be multi-faceted. Let them have some faults or annoying habits, but also give them some positive traits-even the villain of the piece is unlikely to be all bad. Writing fiction is a little like playing god, you will know when you have really started to connect with them because you will have reservations about endangering them or writing them out of your story.
3. Provide a detailed history of their lives before you start writing your story. You do not need to list every aspect of this list to your readers but it does help you as the author to know your character inside out. This way, you can have some element within their past which affects how they react to specific situations. This makes them human….and believable.
4. Throw some conflicting situations at your characters. How they cope with these difficult situations will help them to develop and it will also help your readers to connect with them. When writing fiction, you will find new and improved ideas which will keep both your interest and those of your reader becoming stronger and more influential.
Whether writing a short story or novel, some basic planning is essential as this not only helps the writer to continue the plot through to the end sentence but helps the writer to create believable characters that are alive and kicking and this is an important part when writing fiction.
Annette Young is the Editor of www.creative-competitor.com a site dedicated to providing creative opportunities and incentives to all participants. Annette also teaches creative writing, journalism and runs private courses and a critique service.
Read more about becoming a children’s author at http://writeaholics.net/14chbook.html
Everybody loves a good suspense novel. If you are a writer looking for a genre that is likely to get your book published, you should probably think about writing suspense fiction books.
One of the greatest things about suspense thrillers is that just about any subject will do just fine. You can write about any topic you know about. In fact, the best books are very often about people who are nobody special. They are not secret agents or detectives, just everyday people that get caught in a web of suspense.
We do not even need to mention the title or author of the best selling suspense novel of the decade. Just a couple of details about the plot suffice to give the title and author away. This book was about a 2000 year old conspiracy that involved factual information that had been hidden from the public in the interests of the church. The story revolved around an academic who discovered that Jesus was in fact married. Have you guessed the title yet?
One of the most successful authors of the decade is a woman who writes suspense books that include elements of the supernatural. Her books reflect her interest in things like life after death and reincarnation. Though they seem like unlikely topics for a large readership, she deals with them in such a way that readers of all persuasions get carried away by her plots and believable and likable characters.
Yet another example is a book that was written by a man who was an expert in the chemistry of perfume, of all things. His incredibly suspenseful novel took place in medieval Europe. His lengthy explanations of the chemical composition of perfume were fascinating to readers because they helped to fill in the plot and became clues to understanding and even sympathizing with the main character in the book.
All of these books were extremely popular, but not one of them was about espionage or a private detective. They were about people like you and me. What are you most interested in? What is your occupation? Anything will do. For example, a plumber could write a fantastic novel about a plumber who listened in on a conversation while he was fixing a leaky pipe in somebody’s house. Wanting to know more, he fixed the plumbing in such a way that it would break somewhere down the line later and the owner would call him in again.
In order to make your story believable, you just need to create a believable main character that readers can sympathize with. This character needs a secondary character with a well defined personality that opposes the protagonist. Add to that a plot that becomes more suspenseful with each turn of the page and you have the ingredients for great suspense fiction books. Does that not sound more interesting than writing a how to manual?
Author Resource:-> Learn more about suspense fiction books. Stop by Jack Hanley’s site where you can find out all about suspense novels and what it can do for you.
Article Source: ARTICLE GALLERY
Learn To Write: What Is “Show, Don’t Tell”?
by Lisa Brunel
Are you someone who thinks it would be great to write children’s books? The truth of the matter is that writing children’s books requires a fair amount of craftsmanship and understanding when it comes to the way that stories are put together, and one of the most important things that any author can learn is the concept of “show, don’t tell.” This is a phrase that gets bantered around a lot, but you will find that putting it into practice might be harder than you think it is. When you want to learn to write children’s books, remember that this is something that can mean the difference between getting an acceptance and a rejection from publishers.
Essentially, when you are looking at show, don’t tell, you are looking at a way of conveying mood and how your story is going. For example, say that you are writing a scary Halloween story. When the monster shows up, you would not simply say that it was scary, and leave it at that! What is the monster doing that makes it scary? Is it large and hairy and does it have long teeth? Is it growling at the characters and frightening them, or is it simply sitting there, waiting to see what they are going to do next? Remember that this is what your audience is relying on, for you to describe to them.
When you are writing children’s books, you know that you need to draw a vivid picture for your audience to follow. An audience needs something to latch on to, and unless you do this, you will find that you are not hooking their attention nearly as strongly as you can. Moreover, when you tell your story instead of showing it to the audience, you are committing an example of lazy writing. It is far easier to tell a story in this fashion rather than to show it, and when you learn to write, this is not a good habit that you want to get into!
Think about the fact that children’s books are all about single images, fast movement and interesting scenarios. Children do have a shorter attention span than adults, and if you simply tell them a story, you are going to find that you are going to be losing them as an audience much faster than you think you would. Take some time and think about how you are going to be able to hold their attention and what your options are going to be when it comes to letting them experience your story. What are the sensory details that are going to help them out?
If you want to learn to write for children, remember that being a good writer is important. Take some time and consider how you are going to be able to let them really experience the story and remember that showing and not telling is something that you need to have at the forefront of your mind. If you want to write for children, make sure that you are creating a story that they can feel and relate to!
Learn to write great children’s books by visiting http://www.learntowriteachildrensbook.com. Sign-up for the free newsletter that will bring you regular writing tips and articles, straight to your inbox, on writing for children. It’s well worth checking out!
Writing A Book And Feeling Stuck? How To Break Through Three Common Challenges
by Melinda Copp
It may come before you even write a word, or it may come well into your draft, but when it does, your progress completely stalls. Many aspiring authors have felt stuck at one point or another. And this feeling can prevent even the most motivated writer from completing their work-in-progress. The good news is there are ways around this terrible feeling.
If you’ve been writing happily and productively on your book, and suddenly found yourself unable to move forward, consider the following three reasons aspiring business and self-help authors often find themselves stuck.
1. Not Clear on the Audience
This is one of the most common mistakes I see my clients make-they think they’re book audience is “everyone.” In reality, no book is for everyone, including yours. And trying to write for everyone only dilutes your message. The better approach is to have an ideal reader-someone with a particular issue that you can help them solve.
For example, let’s say you’re a busy, working mom struggling with your weight and you’re looking for a book to help you fit back into your skinny jeans. As you browse the aisles of the bookstore, you narrow your search to two different books: How Anyone Can Lose Twenty Pounds and The Busy Mom’s Guide to Losing Twenty Pounds. Which one are you going to choose? Probably the second one. Having a clear, defined audience of readers with a common need or problem will make your book more appealing to those who do fit your ideal reader profile.
So if you’re stuck on some aspect of writing your book, revisit the question: Who is your audience? If you’re not crystal clear on this, then writing your book in a compelling way will be more difficult.
2. Not Clear on Your Book’s Purpose
Another issue many aspiring authors face is lack of clarity on the book’s purpose. They’ve got plenty of material and ideas, but they aren’t sure what it all means. This problem may make the book feel unfocused, it may raise questions about whether or not to include a particular piece of information, and it may make you confused about what to write next. A good test for this problem is the ability to state what your book is about in one sentence.
For example, “My book is about how twenty-somethings can start investing now, without sacrificing the lifestyle they enjoy.” Or, “My book is about how recently unemployed middle-aged women can find hope and a career path they love.”
If you can’t seem to nail your book down to one sentence, the purpose is probably not clear. So think about your audience and the biggest issue they face. What problem can you help them solve? What is the greatest benefit they’ll gain from reading your book? Answering these questions will help you get clear on your book’s purpose, and help you get unstuck when it comes to writing.
3. Over-Thinking the Problem
I’ve realized over the past week or so that I’m definitely an over-thinker. And although humans seem to be wired to want to figure everything out, that’s not always the best way. Sometimes, to find the answers we seek, we need to stop thinking about the problem, let go of the need to figure everything out, and allow the answers to appear.
If you’re stuck on some problem relating to your book, whether big or small, try setting it aside altogether and taking a walk, meditating, soaking in the bathtub, or some other activity that allows you to completely let go. Use this time to clear your mind and you’ll be surprised at how easily things fall into place.
Although many aspiring self-help and business authors find themselves unable to move forward for one reason or another, oftentimes, the problem lies in one of these three common issues: they aren’t clear on the audience, they aren’t clear on the purpose, or they are over-thinking the problem.
Getting clear on the specific audience makes it easier to write in a compelling way for the people most likely to need the information you provide. Getting clear on the purpose of your book makes decisions about what to include, how to structure the book, and how to tie everything together obvious. And when all else fails, sometimes it’s best to let the problem go and allow the answers to appear. When you do, everything will come together and you’ll be able to write freely and without hesitation.
It may come before you even write a word, or it may come well into your draft, but when it does, your progress completely stalls. Many aspiring authors have felt stuck at one point or another. And this feeling can prevent even the most motivated writer from completing their work-in-progress. The good news is there are ways around this terrible stuck feeling.
Melinda Copp helps aspiring self-help, business, and nonfiction authors write and publish books that establish expertise, achieve their goals, and share their message in a compelling way. Visit http://www.writerssherpaprograms.com/writeabook.html for a free copy of her Write Your Book Quick-Start Mini E-course.
Learn To Write: How To Complete A Children’s Book? 5 Tips To Consider!
By Lisa Brunel
Have you been writing a little here and a little there but can’t seen to see how your children’s book will ever get completed? When you learn to write, sometimes, we can have the misconception that it is easy to sit down and write a children’s book in a day or two. “Children’s books are quite short and not complicated right, so it mustn’t be that hard?” Well actually it’s not as easy as you may think. Because children’s books are shorter, there are certain restrictions you encounter which can make it difficult. The choice of words you use needs to be well thought out as your story needs to be told within a certain word limit. The best way to get to the end result of a well written and thought out children’s book is to plan.Once you have that idea, set yourself some goals. Think to yourself and ask the following questions:
– When do I want to have my book completed? Set yourself a time frame. Try to keep this realistic. There is no point trying to complete your manuscript in a short period of time, causing it stressful for you and your family.
– Who am I writing for? Are you planning to write for babies and toddlers, early readers or advanced readers like teenagers? This would be the most important question to ask and have answered before you start writing. The genre you are writing for will determine the style of writing to use and every genre has different criteria. Learn to write well for the audience you are targeting and find out what publishers of your chosen genre are looking for.
– When will I write? Are you an early morning person or a night owl? You know yourself better than anyone. Plan to use the time that best suits you as effectively as possible. Maybe you’ll write every day or every second day. But dedicate the time for you to be in the zone to write, even if you spend this time thinking about the next twist in the tale.
– How long will I write for? Of course there isn’t really a time frame you can put on your writing. When you’re on a role you’re on a role and you probably shouldn’t stop when you are but there will be times when you get stuck. The critical thing your plan will need is allowing yourself time to sit, think and write. Even half an hour is better than nothing. Don’t forget you have to edit your work in the end anyway so just write, write and write some more.
– Do I need help? If you are having difficulties with certain parts of your story gaining the necessary help and support of those who have been there and done that will benefit you in the long run. Learn to write well for children by sourcing out writers groups or published authors of children’s books who are willing to show you the way to success. You can find resources on the internet or by visiting your local library.
When you set out to learn to write a children’s book, having a plan together at the beginning will help you achieve your goals. A children’s book or any book for that matter can take awhile to put together. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Once you have your first draft, you’ll be ready to edit. Then you’ll have a professional manuscript to submit to publishers. Think about these 5 tips when you prepare to write a children’s book. Set yourself goals to stay on track and learn to write by finding the right information and techniques to help your writing. You’ll get your children’s book completed when you want to!
Author’s URL: http://learntowriteforchildren.com
Lisa has spent many years working with children. Her experience has given her an eye opener into the way children think and what books they enjoy to read.
A Writer’s Secret Place
By Gary Eby
On the first morning of our vacation to Yachats around 6:45 A.M., I am still drowsy while I curl over in bed taking dim note of our surroundings. Our bedroom faces East with a wall to wall picture window protected by a panel of hanging canvas-like shades.The rising sun is streaming through those vertical panels, illuminating a picture of Martha’s Vineyards on the opposite wall, and an adjacent beach painting called “By the Sea.”
I hear my wife Susan in the kitchen probably making coffee. Every so often there is a cracking boom from the surf outside, crashing against our rugged, rocky Oregon coastline.
I am more awake now, but I close my eyes to move myself deeper into the spirit of relaxation. However, I do commence to stroke Silas, our twelve pound poodle and pomeranian mix, who is snuggled besides me.
Slowly, I become aware of and more sensitive to the outside chatter of birds commingled with the cackling songs of some crows.
Woven within the cacophony is the mysterious and melodic flute-like song of an unknown avian creature. Whatever the nature of this species, I am convinced it is a virtuoso.
Such sweet, soothing refrains, flash me back to the Native American music, Susan and I became so exquisitely familiar with when we lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the 90’s.
The flute notes continue with a slightly reedy resonance, accompanied by three staccato whistles at the end of the bird song. I know in my heart, as a few tears of joy land on my face, that I must have arrived in heaven.
As I record these precious moments in my journal, I would like to say a few words of encouragement to aspiring writers. First and foremost, start writing your own journal. There is something healing, therapeutic, and thought provoking about the whole journaling process.
Next, while you journal, pause to slow the pace down. Review the written passages and look for word gems or thought jewels to further refine and appreciate.
This form of writing then becomes a kind of cognitive meditation, which facilitates peace of mind and limitless creativity.
For example, I am sitting now in a comfortable lounge chair located in our beach home living room. I have rewritten my entry at least 10 times or more, which is the third thing I want to suggest to all those who want to get published: keep polishing your work.
The more I focused on describing my immediate environment, the more receptive I became to free flowing, relaxing thoughts.
I noticed the whole West wall of our living room consists of four, tempered glass windows, about five-by-five square feet each, and a matching pair attached to both side walls. The observation area presents a panoramic view that is unbelievable, humbling, and awe inspiring.
Our rental home actually rests on a grassy cliff overlooking and facing the Pacific Ocean. The spectacular water images hypnotize by the undulating motion of the waves, caressing the huge, oddly shaped, black, barnacle covered, volcanic rock slabs, jutting out in the shoreline.
As I write about the power of journaling, the surf roars with breaking whitecaps, spiraling around and splashing between the rock formation fingers. Sea gulls fly low over the waters, sometimes diving in to feast on sea bounty.
Write about what you hear, feel, and think. Know that there is a creative force within all of us. Practice accessing this inner Light that overcomes all dark secrets, which mysteriously threaten to hold us back from the good we deserve.
Let your writing take you to the place of silence deep within our subconscious mind some appropriately call, “The Secret Place of the most High.”
Furthermore, listen to the spirit music of your surroundings and observations. Allow your mind, body, and soul to dance to the rhythmic pulse of inspiration and bliss. Give yourself permission to free associate with your creative strengths, talents, and abilities.
So, let’s take a deep breath together and revisit one last time the sparkling, gleaming, life images that stand before me today. I look out at a mauve sky on the ocean horizon.
At times, the sun turns the sea into millions of glistening diamond lights. A partial cloud-drape extends over the bluish-green waters as far as the eye can see. Gulls and waterfowl are bobbing in clumps, speckling the ocean with white feather squares like enormous nature-made patch quilts. The fishy, salty, seaweed smells permeate the air.
I turn to focus once again on the infinite, majestic waves. Their surf-music play notes of rushing, slashing, percussive melodies, which mesmerize, hypnotize, and soothes the soul.
To be writing on a day like this is a blessing beyond imagination, with memories to treasure and keep alive in the secret place within.
Author’s URL: http://hubpages.com/hub/ebywaycruise
Gary Eby, has a Masters Degree in Social Work with 40 years of professional experience. He lives in Cave Junction, Oregon with his wife Susan. He is retired from the VA in Michigan with 20 years of mental health services to veterans. Mr. Eby has also provided life coaching on eBay for many years. Communicate with him, share your writing fears or any concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will listen, remain supportive, and provide you with free samples of his positive life change process. He is also the author of The Eby Way available through Sterlinghousepublisher.com. And more information can be found here:http://hubpages.com/hub/ebywaycruise
allows us to accomplish these goals.
Cushion for Car Seat Sciatica, Laundry Room Cabinets and Pet Water Fountain
According to Michael Rothenberg of Columbia University, the ability to create compelling and believable characters is one of the hallmarks of the literary artist. This is quite true, because good characterization creates such realistic moods that easily absorb the readers, who readily become part of the story, sharing the characters’ sadness and joy. The world of fiction could indeed be very interesting, at times even more interesting than the drab world of reality, if the characters are truly fictional rather than fictitious.
To further enhance the credibility of his characters, the writer needs to harmonise the interpersonal relationships of the characters. Harmonise, not in the sense that they should behave alike or agree on every matter, but in the sense that the behaviour of each character should interrelate naturally with those of others. The decision and actions of each character must be defined by the law of cause and effect. Just like in the musical stage where every member of the band contributes the appropriate notes and sounds to create a melodious music so should the characters interact to produce the right mood in the story. This gives life and meaning to the tale.
There are two major ways a writer could develop a credible character. It could be through direct description of the character’s traits and appearance or through exposition; that is, the writer simply let the character act out his roles, leaving the opinion about his manners or identity to the reader. The choice of any of these techniques depends largely on the writer’s preference and the nature of the story. It should be noted, however, that while it is advisable in most cases to let the readers form their personal opinions about the character, description could be a good option where the appearance of the character cannot be inferred from his actions or utterances.
Now, one may ask; does this talk about characters being real mean the writer must only use usual or natural characters? Not at all! As literary history has shown, the writer is free to use his fertile imagination to depict anything, from the physical to the spiritual, no matter how crazy it may appear. He could write fables to satirize certain personalities, as George Orwell did in his Animal Farm (1945). In children’s literature, the writer could also write animal stories to satisfy the child’s wild imagination as is it often practised in typical African communities in form of ‘tales by moonlight’. In fact, the writer could even write mystery, ghost story or science fiction with unusual characters to explore regions beyond human experience. Yet, unusual characters could, and must, be made to look real enough to lend credence to the story. For example, if a pig is being used as a human character, he may be given human faculties and skills, but it has to remain basically a pig, maintaining its basic identity, attributes and mannerisms like moving easily on four legs and getting along with some difficulties when moving on two legs. In the case of using entirely strange creatures, as Edgar Allan Poe and Amos Tutuola did in their The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) and The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952), respectively, the writer should be able to combine the real and the fantastic in an artistic manner that would leave no room for questions or doubts about the nature of the characters and, by extension, the credibility of the story.
Apart from creating characters whose appearances and actions are in tune with reality, in relation to the nature of the story being narrated, the writer should also be in full control of the characters. The bane of many writers is the inability to make their characters do the right things, the things that would convey the intended messages or ideas appropriately. Many a times a writer would set out to deliver a particular message, but due to improper handling of the characters, he would end up passing across a different impression. To avoid this undesirable outcome, the writer has to be focused. Characters have a way of going out of control, especially when the writer is not firmly in control of his emotions or is too particular about poetic justice. The writer may fail to ‘kill’ a character because of his sentimental attachment to the character or his personal bias on the subject-matter or his regard for poetic justice. But while these considerations may work in some cases they could at times deprive the story of the essential ingredients that would make it meaningful and worth reading. Poetic justice, for instance, may have a didactic value, but where it is applied inappropriately it may affect the narrative logic. After all, poetic justice does not always apply to everyday happenings. And it is not all fictions that must teach moral lessons; some are meant to make statements on given issues. The award winning Nigerian writer, Sefi Atta, made this point in an interview with me thus: “I don’t think every literary work should be didactic.” In another interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, winner of the 2007 edition of Orange BroadBand Prize, the point was further stressed; “I never try to impart lessons with my fiction. The beauty of literature, I think, is that different people will come away with different interpretations.”
The writer should also not allow his love for a character or what the character symbolizes unduly interfere with his message. Think of the difference Things Fall Apart would have made in meaning if Chinua Achebe had allowed the major character, Okonkwo, to live thereby inevitably submitting him to the wind of change that was threatening to sweep aside his people’s cultural values. Such resolution would have not only portrayed the entire black race as cowards and willing slaves to the British imperial power, the novel would have lost its historical value.
For a literary piece to really make a mark, characterization is indeed very vital, as evident in the works of great writers like Achebe, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, who succeeded in developing fictional characters into ‘real’ personalities. Writers normally copy their characters from the real world, but these writers have developed what they copied so well that they have succeeded in reversing the process, so that people now make fictional characters reference points. When men of valour are being discussed today, especially in the Igbo community, Okonkwo readily comes to the minds of those who have read Things Fall Apart. William Shakespeare created Shylock in his play, Merchant of Venice, about four hundred years ago, but today, Shylock lives everywhere, as people refer to any mean businessman or woman as Shylock. Reference is also often made to Charles Dickens’ character, Oliver Twist in the novel, Oliver Twist. (1837). When someone is always asking for more, he is called Oliver Twist.
These are great writers indeed! But, I believe every writer has the potential to become as good as any of them, including you; all it takes is the ability to create believable characters, good story line and attractive narrative style.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sumaila Isah Umaisha is the Literary Editor of New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, Nigeria. He has written two collections of short stories; The Last Hiding Place and Burning Dreams, and a collection of poems;