Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery….You Should Read Them All

Genre.htmI read and write romance novels. I have to admit I’m a hopeless romantic. I just love stories where boy meets girl, you throw in a little conflict (okay a lot), but everything works out in the end, and they live happily ever after.

There’s nothing wrong with romance and wanting the happily ever after. The only thing I’m doing wrong is limiting myself to reading romance novels. I never really thought that much about it, until I read a blog on why I should be reading all genres.

From my perspective, I write romance. I need to know what’s out there and what’s selling. How do other romance authors handle the physical and emotional sides of the relationships?

All of these reasons are valid, and I should be reading romance. But you know what? That novel has a lot more than romance in it. At least it had better have, if I want to keep my readers’ attention.

I may be great at developing a romantic relationship between my hero and heroine, but I had better be able to create the mystery and suspense necessary to keep my readers’ turning the page.

You may be writing a sci-fi novel, but odds are there’s a romance between your two main characters, and no one can explain why the lab assistant is lying on the floor dead, and there’s a¬† hole in the wall leading into the parking lot.

You can’t just read sci-fi and expect to be a well rounded writer. You might find yourself creating awesome aliens, but lacking when it comes to developing a relationship between the hero and heroine.

Reading different genres will make you a stronger writer. You’ll be introduced to new worlds and situations that would never arise in your typical horror, sci-fi, romance, or fantasy. Reading different genres will open your mind and encourage you to take risks that you may have never considered.

If that’s not enough, Reading different genres will also allow you to read as a reader. Instead of focusing on the author’s style, you can simply enjoy the experience of reading ūüôā

Hope this helped.

-Jan R

 

 

Romance, Science Fiction, Mystery….You Should Read Them All

That First Sentence: It Matters!

imagesYou want to write a novel, and you have a great idea, but you’re not sure how to start. Everybody knows that first line, that first sentence, is extremely important. It has to be right.

If you’re stuck because of the pressure of crafting the perfect opening line, you’re not alone. And neither is your angst misplaced.

I was reading the blog of one of my favorite authors, Jerry Jenkins, this morning when I ran across this post. I have read it before, but sometimes I think we all just need a refresher. If you’re like me, you have so much information being thrown at you, you can’t possibly retain it all.

Most great opening lines fall into one of four categories.

  • Surprising

Fiction: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”- ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four

Nonfiction: “By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife ¬† ¬† ¬† accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree.”-Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American ¬† ¬† ¬† Man

  • Dramatic Statement

Fiction: “They shoot the white girl first.” – Toni Morrison, Paradise

Nonfiction:¬†“I was five years old the first time I ever set foot in prison.” – Jimmy ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand

  • Philosophical

Fiction: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Nonfiction: “It’s not about you.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

  • Poetic

Fiction: “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of ¬† ¬†¬† Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. -James ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

Nonfiction: “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.'” -Truman Capote, In Cold ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† Blood.

This link will take you to some more great opening lines, and one of Jerry Jenkins’s blogs. Here‚Äôs a list of famous openers.

Hope this helped!

Jan R

That First Sentence: It Matters!

Stay Active! (Repost)

Active vs. PassiveI know I’m suppose to write in the active voice, but why? What is the difference between active voice and passive voice and why does it matter?

In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of  the sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

Jan loves Danny. Jan is the subject and she is performing the action of loving Danny.

Jan is loved by Danny. Jan is the subject, but she’s doing nothing. She is the recipient of Danny’s love.

Sentences in active voice are  more concise than those in passive voice, because fewer words are required to express action in active voice than in passive voice, making the sentence stronger.

Many a Tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is or could be heard.

There was a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground. Vs Dead leaves covered the ground.

At dawn, the crowing of a rooster could be heard. Vs The cock’s crow came with dawn.

After reading the previous sentences, what do you think? Active or Passive? I would definitely go with active ūüôā

This is yet another area I am working on. And while the rule is to go with the active voice, it doesn’t mean you should entirely discard the passive voice. Sometimes it is necessary.

-Jan R

Stay Active! (Repost)

I Am Very, Very, Very, Very, Tired

imagesYNN7J1D0When writing, remember less is more. Stay away from qualifiers. They weaken your prose, and the result is the exact opposite of what your were trying to achieve. I know why you use them. I’m hooked on ‘very’. Other people are hooked on the word ‘too’. If you are resorting to qualifiers for emphasis, odds are, you are using the wrong word in the first place.

These qualifiers are the words your English teacher dreaded seeing, such as very, too, really, and sort of. When you overuse these words, your writing will seem lazy, as if you haven’t taken the time to look for the right word.

This pasta dish is very good.
This pasta dish is superb. (Better)
I’m feeling sort of sick.
I’m feeling nauseous. (Better)
You look really nice!
You look radiant. (Better)

Since ‘very’ is my nemesis, I thought I would provide a list of more powerful words to use to replace ‘very’ ___________.

  • very fast ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† quick
  • very dry ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† parched
  • very dirty ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† squalid
  • very afraid ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† terrified
  • very angry ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† furious
  • very hot ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† scolding
  • very hungry ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ravenous
  • very large ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† colossal
  • very clean ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† spotless
  • very clever ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† brilliant
  • very beautiful ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† exquisite
  • very ugly ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† hideous
  • very pretty ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† beautiful
  • very thin ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† gaunt
  • very tired ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† exhausted

I think you get the picture. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this got you thinking.

-Jan R

 

 

 

I Am Very, Very, Very, Very, Tired

Practice Makes Perfect-Almost

 

2c53488dd148c675830484fc9157fa1cI occasionally review older blogs I have written for content and ideas. I have been blogging¬† for a year and a half now, and have to admit, there are days I’m at a loss as to what to write, or just don’t have the time to sit down and produce a blog I would want to read.

One thing that jumped out at me this morning, was the number of grammatical and structural errors in my past work. While there were only a few per blog, I couldn’t believe I missed them.

If I had been a stranger reading those blogs, I would have thought, why am I reading a blog on how to write a novel, that is filled with grammatical errors? The blogger doesn’t even know how to write a publishable piece of work.

But I have also noticed that the more blogs I write, the better I have gotten. Who was it that said practice makes perfect?

If you want to be a successful writer, read, read, read and write, write, write.

I would encourage you to pull out an old piece of work and a newer one that you are working on. I bet the new work is noticeably better than your previous work.

I wish I could say that I won’t ever publish another blog with errors in it. My intention is to produce an error-free, interesting, piece of work, but I am only human and will make an occasional mistake.

-Jan R

Practice Makes Perfect-Almost

It Was A Dark Stormy Night

4f7a9b905a1bc2d6c97e5c8f0157ee9d_fullWhen you hear the word setting, you think of a time period and place, but settings do so much more than that.

With sci-fi and historical novels, setting becomes an important part of the story. The setting doesn’t have to be real but it does have to be believable.

Writing historical novels, do your research and throw in some things that you would expect to see during the time period.

Writing Sci-Fi, you’re  creating a world. Your setting needs to be detailed. Help your reader to visualize it. Draw them in.

Settings should be visceral and vivid and allow us to experience the world the author is building as if we are one of the characters within the narrative.

Settings evoke mood. In horror stories, your description of a haunted house should evoke fear in your readers.  In a mystery your setting should evoke suspense and curiosity. In a comedy your setting should evoke laughter or an anticipated thrill.

Settings provide information about your characters. How does their home look? Is it messy, neat, compulsively organized? Do they surround themselves with darkness or light?

Settings can also be used to evoke the passage of time and movement

Who knew there was so much to writing. I hope this evoked thought and helped you better understand the use of settings in your novel

-Jan R

It Was A Dark Stormy Night

Sentences-The Long and Short

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAiMAAAAJDg5M2Q4NGJiLTBhMTQtNDA5Ni1hNGVmLTM2YWRiZjczMDhjNQHave you ever read a sentence and thought that is way too long? The author lost you two commas ago, and now you have to go back and read the whole thing again, to try and figure out what’s going on.

Or maybe you read a short sentence, followed by another short sentence, and another, and you’re thinking whoa, slow down.

There’s not a set rule for short or long. The sentence length you choose depends a lot on what you are trying to accomplish. There are good reasons for those long, lost me a long time ago sentences, and short, what just happened sentences. It’s up to you to decide when to use them, given the context of your writing.

What do short sentences do?

  • Create tension-When an author starts using short sentences, it’s usually a sign that something is about to happen.—-The dog growled. His teeth flashed. Jake turned. It was too late.
  • Call the attention of a reader to a significant detail—She walked past central park in Manhattan, with her head held high. Gorgeous woman. Long blond hair. Blue eyes. Impeccable taste.
  • Present sudden events-Out-of-the-blue actions that no one was expecting.—-We sat quietly enjoying our meal at the local fast food restaurant. Boom! “What was that?” I turned to see people rushing toward the gas station up the street.
  • To summarize the ideas presented in the long paragraph or sentence.

What do long sentences do?

  • Develop tension-While the short sentence is imminent, culminating with the actual event being acted out, the long sentence adds to the suspense, hinting at a situation in the process of developing.
  • Give vivid description-depicting a setting, love scene, or someone’s appearance.—Autumn came without special invitation, coloring the trees in orange, yellow and red, whispering the cold in our ears and hiding the warm sun rays from our eyes.
  • Investigates arguments, ideas, or facts thoroughly.

Although long sentences have the smell of the old-fashioned 19 century romantic prose, the usage of the long sentence in modern creative writing has it’s place.

When it comes to writing artistic literature, fairy tales, ghost stories, or mysteries, don’t underestimate the effects of short sentences.

Hope this didn’t confuse you too much. To sum it up, there’s a time and place for everything ūüôā

-Jan R

Sentences-The Long and Short