Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Yes, today I'm recommending the blog of fellow writer Seumas Gallacher. He's a Scottish Kilted Author living in Abu Dhabi where I gather it's rather warm most of the time. Maybe the kilt is cooler.
Good for some grins, some good books. and all around nice guy. Did I mention he's prolific as well?
Hook up with his blog and enjoy.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
And not surprisingly they want them to keep reading.
So what is it that might make a prized reader just stop reading, set the book aside, give up? Fantastic to hear your book kept a reader up all night, okay to know they stick in a bookmark and take a break, just awful and nightmarish to think that reader won’t pick the book up again.
So why don’t they pick it up again?
There can be many reasons, but here are a few basic ones you might consider while writing.
Is there too much description? Do you go on and long with long, flowery descriptions and narrative that just doesn’t move the story forward. The days of the writing of the classics is long past and the reader today want succinctly written scenes with few details allowing their own imaginations to take over. It’s a fine line to walk, but there you have it. Too much, too long on the description, narrative and wandering dialog and the reader is, well, bored into putting the book down.
Are your characters realistic? Are they so bland they’re boring? Do they have quirks and problems that are unique and unusual? If your characters don’t come across a real people with real problems odds are your reader is going to slap that book down and not pick it up again.
Did you hear somewhere sex sells? Offensive language gets attention? Violence rivets the eye? Well, yes, to a point. However, in general, readers don’t appreciate all that. If ‘all that’ isn’t key to a character or essential to moving a plot forward, don’t just write gratuitous sex, violence and filthy language scenes because the feeling is they’ll ‘sell’. There are moments where those things belong in a story, but make sure they do BELONG before you put any in. If it seems to your readers that you’re just waving it before their faces for shock value, odds are they’re going to put that book down. And they’ll look for your name on another book – so they don’t buy it by mistake.
Have you got firmly held beliefs? Moral codes of your own? Your own way of seeing the world?
Use them to move readers with a powerful theme, but don’t preach to them. Readers hate preachiness. If instead of being drawn in by an engrossing tale your readers feel you’re trying to force your own agenda on them, to cram a message down their throats, they’re going to turn on you. Keep in mind not everyone shares your values and point of view. There are many world views out there. They may well be hooked by a well-written story based on a viewpoint at a one hundred and eighty degree flip from their own, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate being told they have to share that perspective. Preaching is a big turn off and frequently the reason a book is cast aside. If you want to get a ‘message’ across, be more subtle. Make it into a powerful, positive theme in your book and let the readers come to their own conclusions.
Hope these handful of hints is cause for thoughts. And readers, be sure and share other reasons you have for not finishing a book below in the comments. Good writers always want to know.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Writer? Reader? Student? Just curious?
Here's a great site for research and answers. Answers.com
Animals, cars, taxes, sports, history and politics, hobbies, science, technology and much more. Sail on over and rummage about for answers to fill in your research gaps, for personal info, or just for the heck of it.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Writers write, right?
Sounds easy. But not so fast.
It takes dedication, discipline and some good habits to see any writer thorough. From writer to writer they differ, but there are many writers have in common.
And there are just some things that need to be said, a reminder of sorts for those of us who get wrapped up in our every day work and find ourselves eating away at time that we’d really much rather have spent writing.
So, a few ideas.
Here’s one: Write on ugly paper because it tricks the brain to really believe that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Really, it does work. And, besides, who wants to write that first draft on nice, clean, expensive final draft paper? And yes, you should print it out; makes for easier and more thorough editing.
Another: Write when you’re tired, write when you’re not, write when you have hours ahead of you, write when you can only steal a few minutes. Just write!
Here’s yet another one. Stop following links and write! Right now. Really. Stop. Do your research, then get off the web, close your browser window. You can’t browse, surf, whatever, and write at the same time. It just doesn’t work.
And related to that take some time to turn off all electronic devices. Cell Phones, tablets, web access on your computer. Everything. Set a time to dedicate to writing and eliminate all distractions and disconnect. You won’t die, really. And with no distractions like text messages, cell phones or games at your fingertips you’ll be able to really focus. It’s one of the best bits of advice I can give. Gads, unhook already.
When you’re writing always remember to repeatedly ask the question “what if…” What if a meteor fell from the sky? What if it’s large enough to flatten a small city? What if a bunch of people in a large building have enough notice to dive into the basement and are trapped there by the explosion? What if one of them is a psychotic murderer? What if, what if, what if. One of the best questions a writer can ask himself, if not the BEST question.
Another great habit to develop is to give yourself a break between writing bouts and be sure to stretch or exercise. Run up and down stairs if you have them. Take a short brisk walk outside. Get yourself an inexpensive stationary bicycle. Do stretches. Physical activity will keep the mind active and sharp. Writers simply sit too much. Think about getting a new standing desk. I have one and move from standing to sitting to standing several times during a work day. Standing keeps the brain moving too.
How about setting a timer? Force yourself to write a story within a set amount of time. The shorter the better, as long as you can create in that amount of time. It doesn’t have to be good, probably won’t be, but get that writing spewed out. You’ll feel better for it and it will almost definitely create something that can be revised later.
Don’t forget to make notes on ideas for where you’re going with a story for tomorrow before you quit for today.
Read great writing. Read bad writing. Read, read, read. Then write, write, write.
Yes, writers write.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Love generators? Do they help kick start the ol' creative process? Want more and more?
Well, there are plenty of them out there and Writing While The Rice Boils offers a bunch.
Got a great generator? Add it to the comments section below and share!
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
It’s all in Your mind.
Yes, really, it is.
Everything you need is there, inside you. There are parts you don’t normally let out to play, but they’re there.
Here are a few thoughts on getting your mind set right to be a writer, a really good one.
First be open and curious. Observe people, places, things, animals, whatever, really observe via scent, sight, feelings, everything at your disposal. Engage in life and it’s going to shine through your writing.
A place were many writers fall down is their reaction to criticism. If you’re going to be great, accept criticism. Learn from it. Grow because of it. It won’t all be accurate, but enough of it will have some validity and if you give yourself a chance to absorb it you’re going to make some great new discoveries. Breathe in breathe out, move on! Indulge in a momentary irritation if it hits you wrong, then refocus, analyze and move on.
And while you’re at it, love to read and write. Don’t simply do it because you think you have to or you just want to. If you don’t really love reading and writing ask yourself why you want to be a writer. It’s a valid question because, again, if you don’t really love what you’re doing why do you think your readers will love reading what you wrote? It comes through. Think about that for a while.
Take risks with your writing. Take giant risks. Don’t be afraid to shock your readers (while not simply writing to shock). The you deep inside might be (and probably is) quite different than the you you show to the world. Ruffle some feathers. Take the road less traveled. Let the crazy you inside come out to play in your writing. Turn it loose like Godzilla attacking Tokyo~and blossom.
Always think of your readers. Remember them. Keep them in mind when you write. That’s your audience. That’s who’s getting wrapped up in this story – and hopefully looking forward to your next. You’re going to hear from them as you write so you may as well get used to it and believe you have someone looking over your shoulder as you create that next great piece of writing.
And finally, for this go-round, don’t take mundane experiences for granted. Those are the threads woven in to the background of life. Those are the ‘normal’ things that can make horror more horrifying, a western more gritty, a mystery more spooky. The more ‘normalcy’, the more ‘mundane’ you slip into the background of a story, the more the story jumps out, the more your writing blooms. So pay attention to those mundane experiences when they occur. Savor them. Think of where they can best be used in your next story.
Bo ahead, be a writer, it’s all in your head.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Found a fun site this week. Writer's Carnival
Here's what they say about themselves:
WE'RE A SOCIAL SITE FOR WRITERS!
A place to get together, make friends, try out prompts and chat in the forums. Somewhere to learn, grow, get and give support, and find inspiration. We aren't a place to find readership or a fan base. Rather, we're a community and a place to call home.
You can create an account and you can read their monthly magazine Writer's Carnival free. Info on resources, prompts, contests and more.
Give it a visit and see if it's for you.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Have you ever noticed how many things we aren’t supposed to say, to talk about, to be ‘politically incorrect’ about these days in this society? Things that if you say them out loud not only will be real conversations starters but will probably have several people at your throat the minute the words come out?
Here’s the thing. You may not want to be a trouble maker at a party or a family reunion or at the office, but what better place to be one than in a novel, a short story, movie script or other attention-grabbing written material?
Think about it. What if you said you ~
• Don’t like babies – dogs – cats
• Don’t like Christmas
• Don’t like football or the Olympics
• Don’t like gay people and are against gay marriage and adoption
• Don’t like Republicans (or Democrats or Libertarians)
• Aren’t in favor of marriage for anybody
• Don’t’ like Dr. Who or Dancing With The Stars, or Survivor
• Firmly believe in the stereotype of one race or another, one culture or another
Any of that can get you in deep water in a hurry. Opinions that aren’t dared to be expressed aloud, ever. These are prickly subjects (and they’re just the tip of the iceberg – there are obviously many more). Most people keep their opinions to themselves.
But what’s to keep the writer from straying off the common ground, from veering away from acceptable thought? In fact, the writer darn well better stray into being pointed, obnoxious, irritating and intriguing or it isn’t likely that writer will crack the best seller market. Every day, run of the mill, acceptable ideas won’t get you there.
Those above may actually be your opinions, but even presuming they’re not, they’re great subjects to be turned into attention-getting, to-be-twittered-about stories. If a subject sparks debate it can (and no doubt will) spark a great story. Stray off the generally accepted track and veer into controversial territory.
Think about it this way.
1. You can’t stand Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, whatever. How about a murder mystery when only people of that persuasion are killed by a serial murderer? What gives the perpetrator away? Is he captured or killed? How does it all affect the people in that group; the ones being disturbingly murdered?
2. Babies aren’t your thing. What grist for a novel or a script with a society much like our own that goes even further, locking people in to a life of an Orwellian family structure of parents and children. And the rebels who choose a different way of life ~ and a violent way of ripping through that society to their own freedom.
3. You hate Christmas. Always room for another Santa serial killer or elves who go berserk or reindeer who longs for a different life.
4. You’ve heard the pros and cons of gay couples adopting. How about a gay couple who adopts several children – for nefarious purposes - What is the purpose? Grounded? Other worldly? How does it turn out? How does the fact that the couple is gay affect the outcome?
5. Someone hates a TV Show – what if the people involved with the show start having bizarre accidents? What if they’re not just boring or annoying but come from another dimension? What if an inter-dimensional war ensues?
Craft a story that takes a stand on a controversial topic (no matter what side of the topic you’re on) and you create suspense, action, and buzz. You’ll catch attention and create characters that are three-dimensional and ready to take on the world. Give them something controversial and difficult and they’ll grow. Examine a group or an issue or an accepted societal taboo and no doubt you’ll find you grow as well.
Go out there and write something no one dares to say.