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

Prologues – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly!

imagesI have a prologue in one of my works in progress, but I have questioned if I should keep it or not, and at one time deleted it. Why, because like many of you, I ‘ve heard that prologues are out. Most agents hate them.

I’m still contemplating if I should keep the prologue in my story or not. It raises questions, conveys some sense of mystery, and launches the reader into the story in a compelling way. I think it adds to the story and provides need-to-know information.

Prologues aren’t all bad. They can help or hinder your book, according to Ryan G. Van Cleave,  Writer’s Digest.

Good Prologues

  • Raise questions, convey some sense of mystery, launch us into the story in a compelling way.
  • Operate like blurry first memories of childhood that are also deep with stain.
  • Foreshadow
  • A well-wrought prologue paired with a thoughtful epilogue gives a nice bookend feel to your novel.

Bad Prologues

  • Are used for info-dumps
  • Mislead the reader. They give the reader a false impression of how the story will go.
  • Rely on the prologue to set the mood.
  • Too long
  • Not starting off Strong.

So what’s the answer? Do we or do we not use Prologues? There isn’t a one size fits all to this question. The choice must be made on an individual basis using the best sense of what makes your story work. With that in mind, most professionals would say leave it out.

Maybe the best solution, and the one I’m working on, is to incorporate my prologue into the story by making it Chapter One.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

 

Prologues – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly!

There Are Exceptions To The Rule

exception-e1487183955248I read a comment I received on a post yesterday and I have to admit it really rattled me. The individual who posted the comment was brash and unpleasant, however, I understood where he was coming from and chose to give him the benefit of the doubt. The post was on rules for writing a successful piece of work.

I didn’t actually write the post, but I agreed with the person who wrote it. He is a successful author and many of his statements I have read numerous times over the years from other successful authors.

So what was the problem? The person who read my post took everything literal. He saw everything black and white. There were no shades of gray.

That got me thinking about my posts and new writers. When you research and step out to learn a new skill, you are going to find a lot of good advice, but you have to look at how it applies to what you are writing.

There are exceptions to the rule. For example: If you’re writing a Sci-fi novel or Fantasy, you are going to have parts of your novel that are bogged down in description. You are creating a new world for goodness sake. Just try to make it interesting and give us a few spoonfuls at a time when possible 🙂

Something to think about.

-Jan R

There Are Exceptions To The Rule