Don’t Put Them To Sleep!

sleeping-in-classWhen you’re writing, you need to mix things up.  You don’t want to be the one that puts your reader to sleep.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had teachers or sat through sermons that literally put us to sleep. How embarrassing! You can’t hide the little jerk of the head when you catch yourself and attempt to shake it off. You know what I’m talking about.

There are many different things you can do to add a little excitement and keep your reader’s attention, but one thing you have to avoid is monotony. Change those sentences up.  Use structure and length for change of pace to slow down or speed up your prose.

WHAT NOT TO DO!

Suzie entered the boutique. She looked around for dresses. She walked over to the semi-formals. The store owner said hello. She picked the one she liked. She walked over to the counter. The owner rang her up. She handed her the money. She left with a smile.

Now there’s a lot of things wrong with this paragraph from the style perspective, but there are no grammatical or structural errors -I hope :-). It has strong verbs and nouns. They are both good and necessary elements, but something isn’t quite right.

It’s a string of segregated sentences that can stand on their own. It’s also composed of sentences similar in length and cadence.

You need to vary the length. Change the beat every now and then. 7-14 word sentences are recommended as they feel more natural. Nobody talks like that paragraph was written. Well, nobody except that boring teacher or preacher that put you to sleep 🙂

By the way, did you finish reading that short paragraph? 🙂

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Don’t Put Them To Sleep!

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience? (Revisited)

forbetterforworseimageI can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘show don’t tell’. We all know you’re suppose to show and not tell. Why? You want the reader to experience the scene as if they are one of the characters walking through the story with the hero/heroine.

If you’re like me, you know what you’re supposed 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 sounds. 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 do is bad, but you have a great emotional experience, you may still win.

It all comes down to the takeaway. Every great novelist will tell you, you have to give your reader that powerful emotional experience or they won’t be coming back.

Something to think about 🙂

-Jan R

Are You Providing That Emotional Experience? (Revisited)

Writers Live The Life – Right? (Revisited)

read on beachMost people think writers live the life. Writers lay around in pajamas writing stories and making millions of dollars. They control their schedule, and of course, travel to exotic places all over the world.

I can picture it now. I’m sitting on a lounge chair, drinking a cold glass of lemonade, and looking out as the waves roll in before I turn my attention back to my computer and start typing my flawless manuscript. I can’t believe I got it perfect the first time 🙂

Only a handful of writers live out even part of that scenario, and that’s because they have become so successful they can afford to visit or live at those exotic places, and of course, sip their drink of choice while laying on the beach typing their next bestseller.

For the rest of us, reality is very different.  If you want to become a writer, it’s a tough road.  I wanted to take a few minutes to give you a reality check.  I have listed a few things a writer has to do other than writing.

  • Writers are continuously reading books in their genre and how-to books/tips on writing. We analyze what works and what doesn’t work. How can we use this information to improve our own writing?
  • Writers have to plan. What other books are we going to write? What’s next? We develop a strategy and create outlines for our books.
  • Writers have to do research, especially if the storyline takes place in a different time period or location that we are unfamiliar with.
  • Writers have to network. Someone’s eyes, other than our own, must read our work. This is accomplished through participation in critique groups and attending conferences.
  • Writers edit, analyze, eliminate redundancies, and then edit some more before they even send work out to critique groups.
  • Writers have to market and promote their work. Another reason to attend conferences. You will also find writers on Facebook, Twitter, and keeping up with an active Website.
  • Writers have to learn to accept rejection. Unfortunately, it’s a major part of the business. Writers receive many more rejections than acceptances.
  • Also just like everybody else, Writers live. They have families and many have full-time jobs.

So if you’re thinking writers live the life, think again. Writing has to be your passion. It’s the motivator that will get you through and ensure your success.

-Jan R

Writers Live The Life – Right? (Revisited)

Don’t Let Your Characters Steal The Show!

imagesJO883V0VI know that title sounds crazy, but it can actually happen. Once you start writing that best-seller, you’re going to have some characters that arise and try to take you in a direction you hadn’t planned on going. Your novel and characters take on a life of there own.

If you are to have any chance as a writer, you must embrace the plot.  Consider your plot as the skeleton of the novel. It’s the bare bones that keep everything from collapsing.

You must maintain control. Don’t give your plot over to a character who would gladly pick it up and carry it into directions you never intended to go.

Fictional characters can become so vivid, so alive, that you find yourself altering the plot to accommodate their growth and the direction they want to go.

I got caught up in the excitement of following one of my characters through a storyline that I didn’t write. It was as if the novel was writing itself. The problem was, it was veering from my original intent and messing up my plot.

Most authors will tell you that allowing your characters that much freedom is disastrous. That doesn’t mean you can’t allow some revisions to your plot to accommodate growth. It does mean you don’t alter your entire storyline at the urging of a character that has no idea where you are going with your story.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Don’t Let Your Characters Steal The Show!

Thursday Thoughts

images09PXA1C7Like many of you, I am having problems concentrating on my writing endeavors during this Covid 19 crisis.

I don’t know that it’s anxiety. I don’t think so. Maybe it’s more like nervous energy. I just can’t seem to concentrate or focus.

One thing I have been able to do is read. I’ve pulled out my favorite books and started reading a lot.

What is it about these books that draw me to them? What skills is the author using that have not only grabbed my attention, but pulled me back into the story again and again?

I need to acquire these skills if I’m going to be successful at my craft.

Can’t write? Read!

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Thursday Thoughts