Category: details in writing

Researching Details for Books 0

Researching Details for Books

I have always loved research, but lately it’s become a challenge. Back in the dark ages (when I was in school), I’d go the the library, check out a handful of books and I’d be set to locate the needed details. Computer sites have simplified. intensified and complicated current-day research. These days, possible sites number into the thousands (stars for the wealth of sources) but they also create the problem of who to believe. Another problem for me, is getting lost in layers of research and finding little rabbit trails that lead me further and further away from my intended...

Writing with Kids – Scolding Adult Authors 1

Writing with Kids – Scolding Adult Authors

I have the distinct privilege of working with third and fourth grade writers in two local school Working with kids writing using their creativity keeps my writing fresh. Their imaginations go to places we’ve long forgotten to explore. Watching them plan out their stories, watching them smile when they find a funny/curious/outlandish idea and watching them put their ideas down is a highlight of each week. My goal is to encourage them to add details, write complete thoughts and find endings that ‘close’ their stories. It only takes them a few minutes to grasp the idea of ending rather than...

Carol: A Sketchy Character 1

Carol: A Sketchy Character

Character sketches are fun and part of an author’s ‘research’. They may be based on people we know, or they may be total fabrications. Sometimes, we take the best or worst traits of people we know and use them to jump-start our thinking. Then there is CAROL: the character many of you love to hate. Where did she come from and why? CAROL is a natural antagonist, just like some people we know. Life gave her lemons and she decided to squeeze the sourness onto everything and everyone she knows or comes into contact with during Marta’s story in 84...

What’s in a Name? 1

What’s in a Name?

Lots! Character names create images. Not many villains will be named Sissy. Few presidential candidates will use their nicknames, especially if they are Rusty, Dude, Babe or such. The head of the company best not be named Little Man or baby Jane. So how do writers select character names? I use the names that come to me as I develop the character. Often, I choose name that I do not associate with friends, not wanting them to feel badly if their namesake gets into a pickle or does something they’d never do. When I use a common name, it usually...

Fiction Books with Great Descriptions 2

Fiction Books with Great Descriptions

I’m a sucker for a great description. I love the visuals they create for me as well as the way they bring our other senses into play: sound, touch, smell and taste. Check out these novel excerpts. They inspire me when I write my stories. Let me know if you agree. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd It was the time of year when migrating crows wheeled across the sky, thunderous flocks that moved like a single veil. (kindle location:  1910 of 5663) The Secret River by Kate Grenville Morning and evening the Government chain gangs clanked and...

Moving Close to the End 1

Moving Close to the End

Right now I’m close finishing When the Music Stops, book two in my ballet trilogy. It’s funny; the closer I get to finishing the more questions I find I need to resolve.  I question my tension and my problems strewn across their lives. Since my characters become as real as my friends, I know their strengths and weaknesses, their hot buttons and their fears. Often I become overprotective of their “lives”, unwilling to let harm approach them. I always hope I have provided the promise of a good story but fear I may have fallen short. It’s a writer’s curse....

Dialogue Hints 1

Dialogue Hints

Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks contains everything from planning to completion of a novel. Her advice works well for other genre books as well as YA. Here are a few of her suggestions about dialogue. 1.  Hedge real topics in favor of direct references. 2.  Use incomplete sentences; that’s the way we often speak. 3.  Interrupt speakers, like we do when we’re excited and talking with a friend. 4.  Don’t repeat character names; find another way help us keep characters separate. 5.  Use body language and tags that reinforce the character’s uniqueness. 6.  Make every bit...

Can you Feel the Tension? 0

Can you Feel the Tension?

Authors strive to put tension on every page. Can you feel it? Don’t always expect gut-wrenching tension. Certainly we put in some of that even in ballet stories. Instead look for the little moments where a character paces, stresses or pouts. You’ll also see it when unexpected mail arrives, someone doubts a character’s motive or when the car won’t start on the first try. The question is why do author’s place little moments like that in stories? The answer: would you keep reading if nothing exciting occurred? Probably not. And, if you think about it, your life is filled with...

Word Painting 1

Word Painting

  I love the book Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan (Writers Digest, 1999). She writes about the power of description, calling it  one of the 3 parts of a story along with exposition and narration. Here are a few of her ideas. “Description is an attempt to present as directly as possible the qualities of a person, place or object.” She goes on to suggest that we work to evoke a visual or other sense as much as we actually share  it. She believes impressions of our senses have power. “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a scent is worth...

Writing Blog: Show Not Tell 0

Writing Blog: Show Not Tell

Show Not Tell is a shortcut statement to remind writers to show characters actions rather than tell us about them. An example might be…(Tell) Mary was mad  vs (Show) Mary balled up her fists, turned on her heel and slammed the door on her way out. Both achieve similar ‘ends’ but for me the showing is more visual and engaging. Here’s my question: Why to multi-million book selling authors continue to tell us actions? Are they tired, lazy, above the axiom to show their characters? Are their readers so excited to read whatever they write they’ll read anything they write? Are their...