Category: writer reminders

Character Traits 1

Character Traits

What makes a good character? Here’s a starting list. Please send me your ideas so I can grow the list and re-share it with you. *  flawed with strengths and weaknesses, scars and oddities in their lives *  well-developed personality *  distinctive ‘voice’ (you often know which character is speaking without the ‘said’ tag) *  approachable yet filled with secrets *  has a story worth our time learning about as we read *  share both their inner and outer conflicts *  grow and change over the course of the story

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...

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...

On Being a Groupie 1

On Being a Groupie

I admit it; I’m a groupie! When it comes to writing, I believe every author needs at least one group with whom to share their words and stories. As much as we strive to write our best, our attempts will fall short without the input of others. Sure it can be frustrating to think I’ve done a fantastic job only to discover that much of what I thought I said got stuck in my head and didn’t make it to the page. I have the good fortune to belong to two critique groups and also have writer-readers who give me feedback. I...

Writing Blog: Beginning Text Using Character Traits 0

Writing Blog: Beginning Text Using Character Traits

  Our task as writers is to share enough character traits in the first page or two to grab and hold the reader. So what traits will do that? How do writers decide what works? It’s a deep dark secret; one even the writer often doesn’t know how to share until the story has gotten underway. That means writers often return to the first pages after they’ve written a chapter or two to show us the character in action. (First chapters are frequently tossed out once the story is underway because we need to start as close to the action as possible...

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...

Treat the Eye: Improve Your Observation Techniques 0

Treat the Eye: Improve Your Observation Techniques

We use our sight every day but often only see the common place: trees, roads, houses, children, dogs. If we are to see the world more clearly, we need to pay closer attention. What kind of trees? What does the bark feel like? Are there cones or berries or blossoms? Is the road newly paved or rutted? Are the while side lines worn? How about the center lines: did the painter keep them straight, leave any residue or streaks? Are the houses row houses? two-story? brick? wood? well-maintained? in need of sprucing up? Are the children playing on their way...

Writers Who See Clearly 0

Writers Who See Clearly

When the book you are reading is littered with sticky notes marking great images, you know you have a writer who sees clearly. Check out Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. Through his ‘eyes’, I revisit Fuling, China, a city situated where the Wu River meets the Yangtze. “Fuling is not an easy city. Old people rest on the staircases, panting. To carry anything up the hills is backbreaking work and so the city is full of porters. They haul their loads on bamboo poles balanced across their shoulders, the same way freight was carried...

Before AND After 1

Before AND After

This writing exercise helped me deepen my story. Five minutes or a day before a traumatic event, characters have no inkling of what is to come. Their lives follow their day-to-day routies then, Wham! A major traumatic event arrives. So… Write that calm. Soothe the reader so that when the trauma arrives, the reader is doubly shaken. After the traumatic event has been exposed, write the after. Go back to the calm and use elements from that time as contrast to reactions/actions that followed the trauma. Example: Marta was kneading bread (mundane activity)before hearing the news of a good friend’s...