Your Reader Has To Believe

GTW_screw it upWhen you write a novel, you need to get the facts and details right. Who has ever heard of Bombay, NC or Mount Sanai, Oklahoma? They don’t exist, or if they do, I’ve never heard of them.

Sure you’re writing a fictional novel and you can do what you want. Wait a minute. You can do what you want, but if it doesn’t make sense to your reader, they’re going to shake their head and throw the book to the side. Don’t expect a recommendation.

When you write fiction, you’re already asking your reader to accept numerous situations that could occur, but odds are won’t. My novel’s hero is one of two identical twins. He was switched at birth and never knew he had a brother. They meet in Afghanistan and are blown up when one steps on an IED. One dies and the other is misidentified, taking on his brothers identity and life.

Now that’s asking a reader to accept a lot of ‘could happens’ but odds are they never would.  In order to balance the story and help my readers maintain their suspension of disbelief, I did my homework to make sure all of the facts surrounding these situations made sense.

What’s suspension of disbelief? It’s your reader’s ability to suspend critical faculties and accept the surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the purpose of enjoyment. However, as stated, your reader will only accept so much. Even fantasy and sci-fi need to read as real.

You have to get the facts and details right. With today’s technology and the information available, there is no reason why the details should be inaccurate. I love Google and Youtube. They are your friends.

I’m never going to Afghanistan, and I definitely want be serving in the marines. I do have a son who went to Afghanistan and was a sergeant in the marines. That helped. I also found more information than I could possibly use on Afghanistan, Camp Leatherneck, and the daily life of marines who resided at the camp through google searches, interviews with my son, and youtube videos.

Get the details right and you can get away with a lot of make believe. It doesn’t have to be real, but it does have to read real.

Something to think about.

-Jan R




Your Reader Has To Believe

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

d843805eede6d7643cb4e63abccb92f6--funny-writing-quotes-funny-sayingsI was lying in bed last night thinking about what I would write about today. I’ve been writing this blog for two years, and I have to admit, there are times when I’m at a loss. I want to share useful information, but I don’t want to sound like a broken record, and I don’t want to duplicate what someone else is writing.

How do you come up with ideas? I’m not just talking about blogs, I’m talking about with your novels. I’ve completed one story-minus a few revisions, and I’ve started another.

Both of my novels where the products of dreams. Maybe the info was hiding in my subconscious somewhere, from a movie or novel that I read in the past, and it manifested itself during my sleeping hours with a slight twist. Sounds like a good explanation to me 🙂

I base my blogs on my own experiences. I knew nothing about writing a novel when I started this adventure. I had written reports, habilitation plans, policies etc., but in case you didn’t know, they are totally different. That was one of the reasons I wrote a blog on English teacher writing versus novel writer writing. (That was a mouthful. Probably could have worded better. 🙂 ) Grammar Is A Must-But Lose That English Teacher Writing!

As I said, I use my experiences as the basis of this blog. There is so much new writers don’t know, and I’m hoping I provide enough useful info, that people that have been around a while, benefit from it as well.

So the question again, where do you get your ideas from? A few that I know and can relate too:

  • Dreams
  • Personal experience
  • Watching others
  • Current events (read the newspaper or watch the news)
  • Reading novels
  • Watching movies
  • Taglines

There are so many places to get ideas, you just have to look. You ever read a book and wondered why the author did what they did? Or thought, I would have gone in a totally different direction?

There are no new ideas out there. As a writer you want your work to sound original, but what you are doing, is taking an idea that exists and making it your own. Be Original!

-Something to think about. And yes, I am interested in where your ideas come from 🙂

-Jan R


Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

Show Don’t Tell!

screen-shot-2013-11-20-at-3-24-03-pmI can’t count how many times I’ve heard this phrase. You probably saw the title and questioned reading it. Everybody knows you are suppose to show and not tell. You want the reader to experience the scene as if they are one of the characters walking through the story beside the hero/heroine.

If you’re like me, you know what you’re suppose to do, but you don’t really understand what to do to make it happen. How do I show and not tell? It’s a lot harder than it seems. Once you start writing that novel, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

There are 5 tools for showing

  • Dialogue
  • Action
  • Interior dialogue
  • Interior emotion
  • Description-Sensory

If you’re doing anything that’s not one of these 5 things, you’re not showing.

Why is it so important to show versus tell? Showing provides your reader with a powerful emotional experience. If you want to be a best selling author, that’s what you have to do.

It doesn’t matter how great you do everything else in that novel, if you’re missing that emotional experience, you lose. If everything you did is bad, but you have a great emotional experience, you may still win.

It all comes down to the take away. Every great novelist will tell you, you have to give your reader that powerful emotional experience, or they wont be coming back.

-Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Show Don’t Tell!

Be Original!

clicheIf you’ve been around the writing world long enough, you know there are no new ideas. Kidnaps, robberies, invisible men, aliens, robots, espionage, vampires, zombies, invasions, war, love…they’ve all been conquered again and again and again.

What’s a writer to do? You have to keep that story about love and war originally you. Use your voice, your words, and your unique spin, to make it sound new.

Novice writers and wannabe authors bend to the ebb and flow of what’s selling. They attempt to emulate other writers and copy their ideas. Well theirs nothing original about that. The agent that’s looking for that fresh new idea, is going to throw the manuscript to the side along with the other copycats in the pile.

Originality doesn’t mean something has never been written about. We have common linguistics, and resources. We are exposed to many of the same things. Writing is not without influence.

Originality is based more so on frequency. How often has an idea been used? What about your spin on the idea? Is your spin used often or infrequently? Hopefully infrequently to  not at all.

Now that you have the actual idea as original as possible, look at the words you are using. Stay away from clichés.

It’s easy to borrow language known as cliché. What makes the words or phrases cliché? Overuse. You need to recognize these clichés and get them out of your writing. Too many will cause your readers to tune out.

Avoid words like dude, totally awesome, or bling. They are not unique because of overuse.

I bet you can complete the following sentences:

  • An apple a __________
  • Once in a blue __________
  • It was a dark and stormy __________
  • She was the apple of his ____________
  • A bed of __________
  • They lived happily ever ____________

I don’t think it’s a good idea for your reader to be able to complete a sentence without looking at the words.

If you’re not sure a phrase you are about to write is cliché, go to google and type in ‘cliché sites’. You will be provided with a list of different sites to assist in this area.

Writing cliché is the easy way out. It’s challenging to be original. Be original!

Something to think about.

-Jan R



Be Original!

Strong Nouns?

scan0006We’ve talked about weak and strong verbs, but did you know the same holds true for nouns? I never really thought about it, until I took an online class that talked about strong and weak nouns. My first thought on weak nouns; the instructor has to be referring to pronouns. Well he wasn’t and that is a subject for another day.

Strong nouns can help us picture what/who the writer is talking about immediately. He doesn’t have to describe the person, place, or thing. We get it. The more specific the noun, the clearer the picture.

If I wrote city, dog, or car in a sentence, you would picture your version of a city, dog, or car in your mind. While these nouns aren’t bad they could be made stronger. An upgrade would be; New York City, German Shepherd, or Ford Mustang. While you may want to make that mustang candy apple red, it doesn’t need much more detail to get a clear picture of the author’s intent.

Names are also strong nouns. Cinderella, Clark Kent, and Harry Potter, all conjure up strong images in your mind.

Weak nouns require additional information to create a clear image in your mind.  The weaker the noun, the more information you will need to provide.

Most weak or dead nouns end in ‘tion’. Examples would be publication, devotion, recitation, adaptation.

These nouns tend to way your sentences down and as stated above, require more detail to produce a clear image. The best way to address these weak nouns, is to change them back into verbs, and rework the sentence.

The couple’s separation occurred at the end of the year.

The couple separated at the end of the year.

Just something else to think about while you’re writing that best selling novel 🙂

-Jan R



Strong Nouns?