ON WRITING

Sep 12 2021, 10:27 am in ,

 People ask, “how do I get published?” Simple answer, write a good book.

 Okay, how do you write a good book? Definitely not a simple answer.

 I believe you must be a good storyteller. Ask any author how long they’ve been writing. Most will tell you since they were children. We wrote our stories down, acted them out in plays, created picture books, or told them to our families every chance we got.

 So, you’ve established you’re a good storyteller, now what? Presenting that good story in a manuscript takes some doing.  Would you be surprised to learn books follow a story structure? There are rules to follow?  Some will say following those rules takes the creativity away. I say… well, let’s say I don’t agree. 

 Story structure is vital. In many ways writing a good book is like building a house. With blueprints you build a house. The basics: a foundation, walls, roof and some way to get in an out are a given. Then you get creative. You decide if the design is colonial or modern, where you put the windows, what color paint is your choice.

 There are book blueprints also. You set up the story, how the story turns and how the characters resolve the issues. You decide the story goal, motivation, and conflict. That is, what do the characters want?  Why do they want this?  What is going to get in their way of reaching their goal? Where you set your story, this world or another, in the Scottish Highlands, Las Vegas or the inner offices of a metro police station you need those things. If you heroine is tall, short. A blonde or redhead, a cop or a milkmaid, your choice. Be creative. That is the story telling part.  

 I do not assume to tell you how to write or how to reach your publishing dream. This is your career you have to figure out the best way for you. I suggest you start with these tips.  

Identify the genre you write. 

Associate with authors who have the same goal. 

Begin writing. Build a lifestyle that nurtures and supports your writing. 

Study craft. – Goal. Motivation. Conflict. Story structure. Emotion. Character development. Dialogue. Setting. 

Don’t just start stories, finish them.

Once your manuscript is finished decide what type of publishing, Traditional or Indi, is for you. This takes research. Do the work, research and do more research.

                                                      Happy Writing

                                                                  Rita

Using The Sense of Smell In Writing.

Sep 8 2021, 1:05 pm in , ,

 Humans can detect over ten thousand different odors.  

 Our scent receptors are capable of smelling a piece of clothing and determining if it was worm by a male or female.

 Nothing conjures memory more than smell. Scent is a memory bomb trigger. Memories elicit emotions and we want to provide that in our writing.   

 Using smell effectively is not as easy as using other senses. We provide details to map out other senses. When we see something, we can describe it using visual adjectives like red, blue, bright, big, and so on.

 For touch we can examine textures—a damp, thick Fisherman’s Sweater with fish scales here and there. Describe the crispness of the hair on a lover’s chest. That would be the guy BTW. 

 That feeling when someone gently touches your hair and you’re home alone.

 As the author you relay to the reader what a character tastes. It is sweet, salty, sour. Bitter. Pepper hot.

 But who can map out a smell?   

 It’s nearly impossible to describe a scent to someone who hasn’t been exposed to it. We use words such as smoky, floral, fruity, sweet, but we’re describing smells in terms of other things (smoke, flowers, fruit, sugar).

 Describing how smells make us feel—disgusting, intoxicating, sickening, pleasurable, delightful hypnotic— uses word pictures to bring out a reader’s emotional response. 

 “Eww. You stink.” Or “Eww. Get away. You smell like my brother.”   

  It’s more describing how the smell makes you/character feel.

 Again, what we want in our writing.

 Smell is the most evocative sense. Pheromones are nature’s romantic calling card. Writers rely on it to increase intimacy between heroes and heroines. Studies have been done proving women are more attracted to men who smell the least like their own genetic codes. I think it was in a German study, women were given men’s sweaty, stinky t-shirts and asked which they liked best. I dunno maybe it was an early Bachelorette show. Any how they found their brothers and fathers shirts to be the worst smelling.   

 When you use a sense description make it applicable to the character.

 A truck drive is more likely to describe senses in the way he experiences them. “Dinner smells like burning tires.” 

 In the movie Apocalypse Now Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) is often quoted as saying, “I love the smell of napalm.” That alone, taken into context of the movie is intense. But the quote is not complete. It reads: “Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell? The whole hill. Smelled like… victory.

 That is chilling. It eludes to the horrors of war that the character faces, and the way it’s warped Kilgore’s mind.

 If you think you think using smell isn’t important in your stories consider we can’t taste until we put things into our mouths. Can’t see if our eyes are covered. Can’t experience touch unless we make contact with someone or something.  Can’t hear if our ears are covered.  We always smell with every breath. Always. If you cover your nose to stop smelling, you will die. So, yeah, I think using scent in a story is important.

                                      Happy writing

                                                      Rita

Inspirational Quotes

Sep 7 2021, 12:49 pm

Sharing my favorite quotes that get my motor running. Some are deep and touch the soul. Others make me smile.    Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If  you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer you’re a waiter.”                                                                                                       ~ Dan Poynter

 

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

 

 

 

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” ~ Ann Landers.

 

 

“If you want to write for the love of the craft, write stories.  If you want to write to make money, write ransom notes.”   

 

“Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.”  ~ David Barr Kirtley

 

 

 

“It’s better to create something others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others.” ~ Ricky Gervais  

 

 

Writing Cliché Free

Sep 6 2021, 4:00 pm in

 Ever been dinged in a critique for using a cliché? I sure have. What is a cliché?  Here are a couple general definitions.

  • Something that has been overdone to the point where it is now predictable. A fad that has either died or is dying out.
  • Something that is lame and unimaginative, and, more importantly, has been done many times before.

 These are very applicable to our writing.  I know you all have heard of the writing oracles Some One, They Say, and They Said. Their teachings and sayings have often been quoted in an effort to prevent me from using dreaded clichés. I shall be referring to their words of wisdom here.

 I think, to a degree, clichés are unavoidable.  I suggest we take clichés, bend and twist them and use them to our advantage.  Fresh writing or cliché busting.

 In the movie, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, the Cannibal, Lector, a brilliant physiologist, kills and eats part of his victims. Ewww! Think of all the Hollywood tough guys the director could have picked to play Lector.  Each and every one, evil, and diabolical.  He chose Anthony Hopkins, a five-foot- six, middle aged, English Shakespearian actor whose only screen roles to date had been portrayals of gentle men. The performance Hopkins gives is chilling. Big cliché buster.

 On more than one occasion, the oracle They Say has made it clear we should not open a book, or a chapter, with our characters in bed. It’s cliché. They Say is also against opening with descriptions of the weather.  It was a dark and stormy night.  It was a bright sunny day.

 Try these.

It was a dark and stormy night on a planet that didn’t have nights or storms.

It was a bright and sunny day. The first in the hundred and twenty years since the war.

Simple, and for me, cliché busters.         

Some One is against using cliché sayings.

 Take a look at the following clichés.  Can you bend and twist them to something new? Make them fun?   

An oldie but goodie.

Pick of the litter.

Pay backs are hell.

I know it like the back of my hand.

Slept like a baby.

 I’ll take the last one.

A detective asks his partner. “How’d you sleep?” 

His partner replies, “Like a baby. I woke up every two hours.”

 They Said makes it clear we must stay away from stereotype cliché situations.  Say my WIP is about a middle-aged Italian widow who loves to cook.  She has two grown sons and she is constantly talking to them about marriage.

 What image of the widow do you conger?  A short plump woman standing in her kitchen stirring spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon and lecturing her sons they need to get married and give her grandchildren?

 Or, a hot Italian cougar with her own TV cooking show who is desperate to get her sons to break up with the boring women they are considering marrying. Cliché buster.   

 I do agree with They Say about descriptions having become predictable.  Just once (yes I used just) I’d like the description of the handsome Lord in a historical to be a bit off.

 “Lord Brilliantly Handsome stormed into the room. His cravat appeared to be on backwards, his waistcoat was on inside out, his breeches buttoned askance and dear me, his boots were on the wrong feet. Where had his Lordship been and what had he been doing that led him to such disarray?”

 Or, the beautiful heroine has a penchant for wearing so many ribbons in her hair you can barely see said hair.  

 Oh, come on, you know you’d like to see it happen.  

 

 Bottom line is, listen to our writing oracles. Avoid being a lazy writer.  Don’t use the same overused, predictable, unimaginative, boring clichéd openings, character descriptions, settings and situations.  Spin them, twist them, make them your own to thrill and amaze the rest of us. Go through your WIP. Can you identify a cliché you could rewrite? 

                                                      Happy writing, 

                                                                              Rita

 

 

 

 

 

What Outlander Taught Me About Writing.

Sep 6 2021, 3:00 pm in , ,

 I believe no two people read the same book or see the same TV show.  We read/watch with our own POV. Our world views and experiences. Everyone’s mileage differs. This is my perspective on the Outlander books. 

 The first of the 8 books, (book 9 come out November 2021) written by Diana Gabaldon, was published in 1992. There is a Starz TV series, first aired in 2014. Season 6 will drop February 2022.  Outlander is about a woman, Claire Randall, sometimes called the Sassy Sassenach. In the mid-20th century she sets her clocks back too far when Daylight Saving time ends and lands up in 18th century Scotland. Her goal is to get back to the 20th century. But there is a hot Scot, Jamie Fraser, affectionally know to many as Kilt Daddy, whose goal is to keep her there. The Sassenach’s motivation is to get back to hot baths, toilet paper and a husband. His motivation is love. He loved her from the moment he saw her. Sigh.

 Conflict is behind every bush. Redcoats waring with Highland Clans. Waring 20th and 18th century morals and values. Will she make it back to the 20th century? There are times when I have to slow down to catch my breath. Other times I can’t read fast enough to find out how, or if the character gets out of the pickle the author puts them in.  

 The author intrigues me most with her characters emotional connections and journeys. Everything between tender to brutal, funny to heartbreak is on the page. She states the language of sex is emotion. Her intimate scenes are more about emotions than physicality and they are hot.

 Gabaldon weaves her fiction around historical events. She immerses her characters in actual places and events. To the point the settings and events become characters. When the very name of a place is mentioned, a reader is able to conjure up the image. Not so much because of complicated physical details but because of the addition of sensual details.

 In book 6 of the series, a Breath of Snow and Ashes, the kiddos get into Cherry Bounce, a high content alcohol drink that tastes like industrial strength cough syrup. The scene has little mention of taste. There is plenty about the effects on the wee ones and reactions from the adults. The reader can’t help but smile if not laugh out loud.  Again emotions.

 As the Fraser family grows so do sub plots. The reader becomes as deeply involved with secondary characters as they are the main characters. Every single character elicits emotional responses from me. One character has his hand severed. O. MY. The death of a beloved child.  Some characters we absolutely hate. These books have many villains. They cause emotional and physical havoc. With love and compassion on every level the reader literally feels what the characters do, experiences what the characters experience.

 I adore the way Gabaldon uses animals as characters. Ian’s dog. The family mule. Sassy Sassenach’s chitty. Kilt Daddy’s horses. They have their own personalities. Their interactions with humans is amazing. The readers become emotionally vested in the animal’s stories.   

 Okay, I’ve rambled long enough. My point I’m trying to make is the story isn’t simply being told. I feel I know Kilt Daddy, Sassy Sassenach, their family and their connections to each other. When something happens to them, I feel it. I have an emotional connection to people, places and animals in this book.

 How does Outlander speak to you?  Does it give you ideas to improve your writing?  

                                                           Rita

 

 

 

Writing Romance Suspense/Thrillers

Sep 6 2021, 2:00 pm in , , ,

In Romantic Suspense/Thrillers there are two distinct stories. The suspense/thriller and the romance. 

 A strong romance is woven together with strong suspense, mystery, or thriller elements to constitute integral parts of the plot.

 In this genre the action moves fast and the story takes place over a relative short period. I write contemporary thriller/action adventure and the stories take place over a couple of weeks and less. An author has to weave in a plausible romance and bring it to a satisfying conclusion (don’t forget part of a romance definition is the HEA or the possibility of an HEA) in a short timeframe.  Not easy to develop quick emotional and physical relationships.  

 If your characters are meeting for the first time on the pages of your story how can that plausible—I emphasis plausible—relationship develop so fast? What about the sexual aspect?  Characters getting between the sheets fast is crazy tricky. Of course, if the characters have a history, good or bad as long as they have a touch point of knowledge, it’s less complicated.

 If you plan on writing sex for a hero and heroine who just met it is important you know yourself and your own boundaries. Know what YOUR comfort zone is. If you can’t envision it, or don’t agree with characters getting hot and sweaty together fast, for goodness sakes, don’t do it.

 For example, I’m not comfortable with a 2o something woman meeting a man, two hours later being in bed and two weeks later being in a happy ever after relationship. Nor am I comfortable with someone that age knowing the man she’s just met is the one that fast. It would be impossible for me to give her the experiences that would allow her to make these decisions. Be clear here. I am NOT saying someone that age is incapable of making that decision, I’m saying I can’t write it to happen fast.   

 Ergo, I write with heroes and heroines over 35. They have experience. To my way of thinking —my comfort zone— they are more capable of making a decision about going into a sexual relationship after a short time and handling any blow back. A 36-year-old woman who has experienced a lot in her life knows the ramifications of hooking up.

 You MUST know your characters. What they will and will not do and why. I mean the down deep why. While these issues are vital in every story, it is even more important in the fast pace RS genre. You must know what circumstances will drive your heroine to hit the sheets quickly.  BTW I say heroine because I firmly believe she is the one who makes the decision as to the when and where.

 In my first book, Under Fire, the H&H go home together after they first meet. I totally knew my heroine. What event formed her values and beliefs and was behind all her decisions. The day the H&H met, she suffered two huge setbacks in her story goal. Going with him that night breaks all her personal rules but she decides to console herself with some sexual healing. Give in, just once, to her own needs and the reader knew this. She leaves his bed before he wakes thinking she will never see him again. In a few days this comes back to bite her. It also begins the resolution to her story goal. 

 As for the HEA in this story, these two people were NOT looking for a relationship but found something in each other that filled a void they didn’t know existed. As the author, I knew it did. Knowing your characters inside and out allows you to understand what they fear, what they want, and what they need. You use it to get them to work out their problems together and rapidly establish a bond. With each other’s help they face their fears, they change, and are rewarded with love and in the suspense novel get the bad guy in the process. This is an over simplification but I hope you get what I mean. 

 When the H&H have a sexual history getting them into a speedy relationship is always easier. In my third book, Point of No Return, two experienced intelligence officers from different agencies have an affair that lasted more than a year. You can read how they met in the prequel No Holding Back. The hero broke it off for his own misguided reason. They come together again working to find the same bad guy. With their history, the sexual tension lasts for only so long before they give in. Their HEA is very complicated. Again, I know them completely.

 Another way is to use what some call survivor sex. After two people share a near death experience sharing the life affirming act of sex is always a possibility. As an author, you can put friends, detective or business partners, who have worked together for years and know each other completely into that death experience and life affirming sex. The act changes a relationship to full blown love and HEA. On the surface this looks to be the easiest choice. Honestly, it’s the most difficult for me to write. To get a good balance of conflict you really have to know your H&H.

 I can probably come up with a hundred more scenarios but this is already too long.

Bottom line

  • Dig deep
  • Know yourself
  • Know your characters inside out.

                             What do you think?

                                                       Rita

Writing Rules. Yes? No? Maybe?

Sep 6 2021, 1:00 pm in

I present to you, in all their glory, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Writing.

  1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. 

Rita here: I think there are exceptions like: It was a bright and sunny day on a planet where the last bright and sunny day was eight hundred years ago.

  1. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

  1. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.

  1. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” …

…he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin.

  1. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

  1. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. 

Rita here. I purchased a thriller audio book ‘everyone’ was talking about. I listened and had to buy the book. Why? I wanted to count how many freaking sentences the author used suddenly and quickly. Quite honestly, it was easier to count the sentences NOT containing those words. It was edited by a NY pub. OMG!

  1. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop.

  1. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. 

Rita again. I like this rule. 

  1. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

  1. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

Rita here. (will that chick ever go away?) Three books this summer, THREE, I skipped more than read.)

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing.

Rita here dancing around – Yes. Yes, and YES. I would rather read a book that has some typos, maybe a plot problem mixed with a couple of continuity errors that is a great story with a brilliant voice than some grammatically correct, with all the proper punctuation, book that has been so stripped of voice by editing that it becomes a chuckawalla book (a book you chuck against the wall and move on)    
 

What do you think of the rules? 

                                                     Rita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN AUTHOR’S GMC

Sep 6 2021, 10:10 am in , ,

 

Successful books and  successful writers have Goals, Motivation, and Conflicts.

Think about it. We use GMC to build our books. As writers we are no different from the characters we set up in stories. Writers have Goals just as our characters have. We have the Motivation as to why we want to achieve our goals as do our characters. And we have the internal and external Conflict standing in the way of achieving our goals preventing us from reaching those goals. 

 

It is proven individuals with goals are significantly more successful than those without. Think of your writing career as writing a book. Do your characters wander around a story doing nothing? Nope. Your characters have purpose, a story goal. If a character’s goal is to be the president of the US, she will have to do some things, have a plan, take steps to reach that goal. What happens in a book is plot. What happens in your life is planning. As authors, we want to write the best book possible, be published, have bestselling books so we take steps and make plans in order to be successful. Ding, ding, ding. GOAL.

What’s your plan to reach the goal of writing that great bestselling book? This is important. It’s said that the main reason primary goals fail is because there are no secondary goals made. By this, I mean if your primary goal is to write a book your secondary goal could be to put your butt in the chair and write so many words every day. You may say, “well, duh, of course.” But, you would be amazed at how many people do not make secondary goals. To me this is same as saying you want to go to Paris and standing on the curb in front of your house expecting a 747 to land and take you there.

To reach your primary goal and keep you on track develop daily, weekly, monthly, yearly goals. Be realistic. Be honest. Remember life can and does reach out and head smack you. Forget what your friends are doing. Decide what it will take for YOU to reach your goals. Don’t say you’re gonna write 5000 words a day when you know you only have time to write 500. You may discover reaching a goal can mean making a decision about what you need to give up. How many times have you said you don’t have time to write? Examine how you use your time. Perhaps cutting down time spent cruising the Internet or, hours watching TV.

 

Our characters goals are define by what they want and why.

A writer’s reason, or motivation, for writing and being published is important to acknowledge. Do you write for fame? Fortune? To be labeled a successful author? Because you’d die if you don’t write?

If it is fame and fortune take a step back and define what fame, fortune and successful author means to you. As in a book, motivation has a direct effect on your goals.

Is your motivation to see your print book on the end display at a brick-and-mortar store?

Goal. Research editors and publishing houses.

Motivation. You want to prove to all the naysayers who said you couldn’t write a book that you can and did.

Goal. Save money to rent a billboard and take full-page newspaper ads to say nanny-nanny-boo-boo to all of them.

Motivation. You promised your dear great-auntie you would write and publish the family history and self-publishing is the way you’re going.

Goal. Find a good editor. Learn about e-reader formatting and research cover artists.

What I’m saying is different motivation requires different goals. In a story, a character’s motivation keeps the middle from sagging. For the author, motivation keeps you from sagging in the time between you finished the book and it is published. It’s that time when you’re looking for representation and a publisher to buy the book or working hard at learning the ins and outs of self-publishing. No sugar coating here, it’s hard and staying focused and motivated is extremely important.

And now we come to…Conflict. We are told conflict, conflict and more conflict is what makes a good story. Conflict, conflict, and conflict in a writer’s life is not be the best thing. Unless of course you are a person who thrives on conflict. But, let’s face it, we all have conflict in one form or another. A day job sucking the life out of you. A day job, and caring for a family while you write. BTW if you do, I am in absolute awe. Family and friends giving you grief about your writing. A new baby, children home sick, or both. A daily battle with the fear of failing, or being successful. Maybe the evil internal editor follows you everywhere. Whatever it is, you are not alone. We all fight the enemy called conflict and totally eliminating it is not possible. In your story, your H&H work hard to overcome their conflict. Writers are not different. Work hard to identify your enemy. Adapt, improvise and overcome. Yeah, that’s what gung-ho marines say and it works here cause our battles are just as intense as theirs. Never underestimate your enemy. (Yes. I write suspense/thrillers)

You are the Hero or Heroine of your own story. Use Goal, Motivation and Conflict and ensure your very own successful happy ending.

Have Primary and secondary goals.

Define your motivation. Believe it will happen. Believe in yourself. YOU_are_a_writer.

Identify your conflict and make a plan to overcome it. Don’t let life ambush you.  

                                          Happy writing,

                                                                  Rita  

 

TIPS FOR SELF EDITING.

Sep 6 2021, 7:00 am in , , ,

 As a writer my goal is to have the reader devour every word I put on the page and keep them turning those pages. I strive to make my writing crisp and to the point. Before a manuscript goes to my editor I go through several self-editing steps. First, I search for weak works and phrases, redundant words, and overused and unnecessary words. If I’m writing in a series I refer back to my series bible and make sure characters who appeared in previous books have the same color eyes and hair etc.

 Next, I read the story aloud or have a program read it back to me. I catch many errors that way.   

 Some editing tips you may find useful.

Weak words and phrases. 

 Weak words drain the power from what you write. Watch for these weak words: even, very, some, sometimes, occasionally, before, maybe, really, often, especially, somewhat, actually, few, fairly, many, most, and just.

Some editors insist you never use just. I use just when I speak and consequently insert it into my work. It’s the first word I search to remove.  

 Wasted phrases and vague words.

 Do you best to eliminate these wasted phrases: in order to, by means of, in fact, for the purpose of.  and any other combination of wordy words that can be deleted and not missed. 

 The more specific a word or phrase is, the more information the reader has. The more information the reader has increases their connection to your story. We want to keep readers hooked.  Using vague, useless wasted words unhooks them.

 A little pregnant.  Somewhat hungry. Halfway angry. Say they’re hungry or angry. Start to. Start is sufficient. He almost exploded.  Either he did or didn’t.

Redundant words.

 Using two words when, by definition, you’ve said it twice. For example, baby puppies.  Puppies are babies. The word baby is unnecessary. Examples. 

Flinch back

Crouch down

Stand up

Sit down

Climb up

Kneel down

Frigid ice

Honest truth

Burning hot

Short midget

Tall giant

Protrude out

New recruit

Free gift

Bare naked

Completely naked

Burn down

Recur again

Cancel out

Basic fundamentals

Definite decision

Completely destroyed

Eliminate common overused and unnecessary words.

Search for— that, was, had, the, as if, but, when, again, against, by. It isn’t possible to eliminate all these words. But when that is used 13 times in one paragraph. Well…..some can go. 

Read your sentences with and without these words aloud. Decide which you prefer.

 

                                                      Happy editing.

Rita

 

 

 

 

Voice

Sep 5 2021, 3:02 pm in , , ,

Let’s talk about VOICE.  Not the TV show. The ‘voice’ that comes through in your story. Your book. And I don’t mean reading it out loud. I mean what YOU bring to the story.

 Ever ask anyone to define voice? Most times I’ve gotten something along the lines of, I can’t tell you what it is exactly but I know it when I see/read it. Or, have you tried to explain voice to a newbie author?

 Okay, so here’s my take on voice.   

 There are many layers of voice in a book.

 First is the author’s voice. It’s how you, the author, tells the story. Ten people can be eye witnesses to an event. Each will give a somewhat different account. It’s according to their world view. The way their experience leads them to see and understand the world.

 Edna St, Vincent Millay said:  A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with their pants down.

 How come? Because in writing we reveal our own world view. How we feel about events going on around us. Not so much the events. A tree falling is a tree falling. But in the telling of the tree falling, you reveal feelings, perceptions and the process of dealing with the event. Your voice.

 We don’t need to be a serial killer to write about one. The emotions and how you deal with them in your story reveals how you feel about serial killers. Your voice.

 Second is the character’s voice. Each character having a distinct voice is important.

 Ernest Hemingway said, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”

 In order for me to do this I have to know my characters. I take James Scott Bell’s definition of voice to heart. “Character background and language filtered through the author’s heart and rendered with craft on the page =voice.” 

 To find a character’s voice I create a world view for them. Give them values, secrets, fears, misguided beliefs and so on. The characters become real to me. In the long rum each character has a little of the authors voice in them. I don’t see how it is possible to eliminate it.   

 In his book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, Donald Maass says emotional craft underlies the creation of character arcs, plot turns, beginnings, midpoints, endings, and strong scenes. It is the basis of voice.

 I do my best to create emotional connections between characters and the reader. Make them feel something. It’s said people will forget what you do, say, and write unless you make them feel when you do, say, and write something.

 When someone says the voice wasn’t strong, I believe what they’re saying is the author failed to make them strongly feel something.

 What do you think?

                                                             Rita

 My go to books for studying voice are:

  • The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, Donald Maass.
  • Voice by James Scott Bell.
  • Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton.     

 Since I said we all have our own world views we all more than likely have different views on what voice is. Feel free to share yours and any books you find helpful.    

 

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