Why Do You Blog?

bloggersStaring at my computer this morning and wondering what in the world I’m going to write about. Like many of you, life gets crazy sometimes, and I lose focus. I have to remind myself why I’m here and just what I’m trying to do.

I want to build my platform, but I also hope that the information I share helps others. I don’t want aspiring authors making the same mistakes that I did. Mistakes are a learning experience, but nobody needs to learn that much ūüôā and some of those mistakes were totally avoidable. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I’ve said before, writing a¬† novel isn’t as easy as it looks. Anybody can put pen to paper and write a novel, but that doesn’t mean it will be good or publishable. Publishable being the key word.

Writing a blog also helps to hone your writing skills. I can’t believe the difference between my first blog and this one.

I’m still learning to navigate the world of blogging and the tools available to assist me with growing my blog, but the information is out there, and I’ve met some great bloggers along the way, who are more than willing to help.

So why do you blog?

-Jan R

 

Why Do You Blog?

Control The Pace (Revised)

controllingthepaceinyournovelPeople who love to read but have¬†never written books are cognizant of the pacing. Pacing sets the tempo of your story. Is it a fast read, or did it seem to drag on for days? Hopefully you’ve found¬†a balance between the two, and they perform like a¬†fine¬†tuned orchestra.

I have read many good books, and yes, skimmed paragraphs, because I was tired of reading about the¬†duchess’s frilly dress or¬† inner hull of a slave ship.¬†I’m glad the authors did their homework and provided historical information, but sometimes it can be a bit much and totally bog down¬†your story. I have read other books that were nonstop action that left me wanting;¬†they were missing the details that made the story real and the characters endearing.

So how do you control the pacing of your story? Be cognizant of the tempo and your audience. You have to strike a balance between the amount of information in the pages you are given and the patience of your reader.

There are three main attributes that effect the pace of your novel.

  1. The number of pages/words in the novel vs. the time period covered – Long books that depict a short period of time are going to move at a slower pace.¬† You’re going to be providing a lot of detail and back story to fill up all those pages. Short stories depicting long periods of time are going to move at a faster pace. In order to cover everything you have to cover, you’re not going to have time to stop and smell the roses. There’s just too much happening and not enough¬†pages/words to expound-talk about making every word count ūüôā
  2. The density of the narrative – The length of the story versus the number of twists and characters within. If you have a simple story with maybe¬†one subplot and a handful of characters, you should be able to move along at a fairly steady pace. You start going all Lord Of The Rings on that book with numerous subplots and characters that are a product of your imagination-you’re going to have to slow down and figure out a way to¬†keep it moving forward without getting too bogged down in the details.
  3. Scenes vs. Exposition                                                                                                          Scenes are the important events that move the story forward.  They are the action and dialogue that occur during the course of the story.                                                    Exposition is the back story or descriptive information that stands outside of the story and slows things down.

I love this chart. It provides some great examples of ways to control the pace of your novel and is very user friendly:-) Some more things to think about when you are addressing pacing.

controlling-the-pace-of-a-story

 

I hope this helped.

-Jan R

Control The Pace (Revised)

Five Tools For Showing

screen-shot-2013-11-20-at-3-24-03-pmSpoiler alert! If you were one of the eight people that read this blog two weeks ago, you are experiencing deja vu. I thought it was a good blog, but one thing I’ve learned over the last two years, is the title can make you or break you.

It was initially titled ‘Show Don’t Tell’. I guess that sounded kind of boring, or maybe just to repetitious. Goodness knows how many ‘Show Don’t Tell’ blogs are out there. So I’m reposting it under a new name ūüôā

Here goes!

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase-show don’t tell. You probably saw the title and questioned even reading this blog. 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 ūüôā

-Jan R

Five Tools For Showing

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 ūüôā

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. ūüôā )¬†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 ūüôā

-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 ūüôā

-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 clich√©. What makes the words or phrases clich√©? Overuse. You need to recognize these clich√©s 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 clich√©, go to google and type in ‘clich√© sites’. You will be provided with a list of different sites to assist in this area.

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

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

 

Be Original!