Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday Brings You World Literary Cafe

To quote from their site, 

"The World Literary Cafe is an online community that bridges the gap between readers and authors, with the mission of promoting great literature and bringing together the literary community. The WLC offers helpful promotions to authors, reviewers, bloggers, and editors by creating avenues to bring them together under one umbrella in an easily navigable venue." 

-- Yep, worth checking out for readers and writers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dark Side Of Love Just Released as Kindle Edition

Yes, it's true.  I just got the word that my romance novel, Dark Side of Love, is now up and available at Amazon as a Kindle Edition.  Go on over, take a look, download a sample and click the 'like' button.  Much appreciated. 

Are You a Writer Striving For a Novel Ending?

Writing is tricky.

Novel writing is even trickier.

Trickiest of all is bringing in that ending with punch, pow, wow and 'I'm sorry it's over' power that brings readers back for more, clamoring for your next book. The ending that helps get you an agent or a publisher - which helps lead to those readers.

So today I decided I'd write a bit about things you should and shouldn't do to create that nail-biting, throat-gripping ending.  Of course HOW you accomplish these ideals is up to you - you're the writer - but lets clarify some of the things that will help make the ending of your novel outstanding. 

First some things you SHOULD do.

Near the end is where your biggest surprises should happen.  Here's where some tiny trivial detail seen earlier in the book might play a big part in the ending. Not just might, but should.  Here's where that small detail the reader may well have skimmed over will pop out and be a very decisive factor in the novel's ending.  Remember that pocket knife Jimmy's dad gave him for his birthday?  Here's where that little knife can chisel a hole in the way and let him and his little sister escape to safety away from kidnappers.  Remember the bubble gum wrapper the killer dropped on the floor when he left the scene of the murder? Here's where that wrapper can play a crucial part in the murder's apprehension.  You get it.  The 'Wow' factor. 

Another thing you, as the writer, needs to do is to resolve the main conflict of your novel. No, I'm not telling you all your novels must be possessed of a 'happily ever after' ending, but something in your ending that's uplifting is a real boost. Readers love to be raised up a the end and remember publishers, editors and agents want to give readers what they want. So do you, actually. Here's where you put your imagination to the test.

As you write your way to the end of your novel it's also important to give your hero a chance to redeem himself.  Yes, he's screwed up royally along the way, made a mess of things, been a bit of a jerk, but it's part of the 'uplifting' thing above - in the end allow your reader to know the hero has done the right thing.

Here's also where you want to be writing those loose ends together.  All through the book you wrote you planted questions - yes you did.  This is the place, the here and now where your writing skills need to be directed to addressing each of those questions, creating closures.  Readers don't like to be left hanging so answer the questions even if it's just to say there's an issue that will be resolved after the book ends or perhaps in another book coming in the series (IF it is a series).

Those are some of the things that, as a writer, you should do.  So what shouldn't you do?

Well the ending isn't the place to introduce new characters and/or subplots. Don't stick something in that hasn't been foreshadowded.  It's jarring and it could well cause your readers to blow you off for future books.

The ending of your novel isn't the time to change your writer's voice or tone either. Be consistent.

Avoid writing page after page of explanation of philosophizing at the end of your book.  Keep your descriptions to a minimum and focus on the conflict and it's resolution. You should have planted all sorts of goodies previous to the last 50 or so pages of your story. Now's the time to moved it along and wrap it up.

And please, above all, don't create a gimmicky ending. Don't come up with some strange twist in your writing that is nothing more than the coward's way out of completing the novel you've written. If your reader is here with you at the end it's because you've written well, tossed out the interesting hooks and he or she is looking for a satisfying ending.  Don't trick or cheat your reader, you're a better writer than that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Expressions & Sayings

Ever wonder where a word came from? where a phrase or expression originated?  Love language and want to include some of the stranger and more entertaining things in your writing for one reason or another?  Here's a great collection of just that at Expressions And Sayings.  There's frequently lots of debate over the origins of a lot of the expressions we know, but this site gives a good summary of the generally accepted definitions. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Writers - Artists or Crafters

I've heard this question before, I've seen it tossed about the web. We do get wrapped up in minutia. 

I mean really, who cares? 

Why are we debating the non-issue? 

We're writers, right?  
And just for the record, it's both. 
Yes, I know, as a writer, it's hard to explain to those who don't write exactly what it is you do.  I mean you put words down on paper.  It's sort of like when you were in school, right, writing papers? Pretty much anyone can do it, the real question is whether you get an "A" or an "F".  And so many people say I want to write a novel, or I'll write a novel myself some day like it's writing a paper for English class. 
Good luck. 

Now I don't want to seem snotty here, but there's a bit more to writing a novel than thinking about it. 
And then we have the argument from the visual artists who find it hard to accept writing into the 'arts'. I have a few words about some 'visual' artists, but I'll keep them to myself (please note I said some, not all).

In any event what does an artist do - create something out of nothing.  A painter does that on canvas and a writer does that with words on paper or a computer screen.  Where there was not story before, there is one now. The writer has written. Hopefully it's good. 
And while there is a lot of craft to writing, a lot of pieces that have to be put together (you have to learn the language and how to handle it deftly in order to put your writer's ideas across in such a way that the reader doesn't want to put the book down) there is also the art of creating that amazing story. Something from nothing.
Don't forget there's a lot of 'craft' in painting as well.  Techniques to be learned, different mediums to be mastered, but that doesn't make the final painting any less art when in the hands of a master. 
Even some writers don't really think of themselves as artists and that's okay.  As I said before, what does it matter, really?  Why have such a debate?
But we have the writing - art or craft debate - so here goes

Crafting is defined as creating something, learning how to do something, following a set of instructions, probably assembling something.  Well, writing has a hefty dose of that, it's true.  One has to learn the language, how to write well, how to put ideas across clearly.  At that point one could chose to be a copywriter or technical writer or some other venue and be on solid ground calling it a craft. That which can be learned and pretty much duplicated.  Some have the 'touch' and create magical, drawing copy and others not so much, but it is something that can be learned. 
But, the rub comes in for writers when they go in the highly creative "I want to write a novel" direction. Then there isn't a manual to write, instructions to create or a report to get written.

At that point the writer is facing the blank and creating something out of nothing as a painter does when he or she faces the blank canvas or the ceiling of a well-known chapel.  There are the so-called 'hack' writers who can crank out novel after novel in one genre or another, following a 'formula' and many of those are even great and entertaining reads.
The jump to art comes when you acknowledge some of the amazing writers and their works that the world has seen. Just because it's words and not paint why would you not call that art? Once that line is crossed would you really stand there holding the book in your hand and say "no biggie, I  can write a book just like that?"  It's not like a doll made from doilies, clothespins and yarn.

Writers' books, great books, entertaining book,s move people, grab them by the throat and hold them until they finish reading. 
That is what art is.

So, back to my original statement.  It's both.

And again, why are we debating this?

Ask Ray Bradbury in his Zen In The Art of Writing 

Ask Robert Louis Stevenson about The Art of Writing

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Superhero Nation


Super Hero Nation offers writing tips, insights and advice. It's a fun site that posts short videos such as movie trailers as well. Check it out, peruse the site and let me know what you think.  I enjoyed my tour. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Saving The Distracted Writer

A writer's life s not an easy one. It's full of distractions and trials. Frequently we have to have a job and write at the same time, not to mention family obligations. And how is one to write when there are so many other distractions out there in the world just ready to leap at you from the dark corners - or even out in broad daylight?

Hmmm.  Well, there are a lot of things a writer can do. Some of them are as basic as self-discipline. Dirty words, I know. But as a writer you're going to have to find ways to focus, move forward, put aside distractions and write.  Easier said than done, right?

Yep, been there done that - a lot - for a long time - even before all the new distractions the web, email, iPhones, etc. present.

So here are a few ideas to help you along - to keep you focused.

1. If you commute, try to utilize that time to write.  Get yourself a pair of noise cancelling headphone or just listen to some quite background music, sequester yourself away from people as best you can and write. Just write, don't edit.  Your creative self races ahead of your more pedantic editing self, so get those ideas down on paper, your laptop, whatever. You can edit and clean it up later. Seriously. 

2. Consider staying up late at night or getting up really early in the morning.  I was up at 4:30 this morning and I don't go to an outside job. Husband had to go out of town on business this morning and left really early.  I took advantage of the extra time to accomplish a lot.  I'm so proud of myself! These times; early morning or late at night, are quieter times.  Most folks aren't trying to reach you. Businesses aren't open.  It's a great time to work uninterrupted.

3. Center yourself when you are writing. Take some time ahead of your writing time to collect some tools that will keep help you keep yourself focused. If you need to take notes a simple note pad, thus avoiding the distractions of the web might be good.  If you can block that out you might like to try a program like Evernote - it's a free program, lets you take notes and keep track of them. There are others out there that are similar. There are other programs as well, designed to help you keep your focus.  Ommwriter (downloadable program) is another with a few bells and whistles thrown in, but any text writer will keep you on track. 

Oh, you might consider an actual physical, pocket edition of a dictionary and/or thesaurus to keep at your desk. If it's just a simple word you're looking up or you want a synonym web searching can prove to be a mighty distraction, luring you off onto all sorts of other things you'd like to investigate and breaking your focus. Pull back just a bit from the web - save that for when you want to actually be there, researching, playing, exploring.

4. Here's another thing and I've said this in a previous blog, it's better to write first - edit second. If you try to do both you're attempting to do two jobs at once and you're slowing yourself way down.  On top of that, consider what you're doing.  Are you really trying to clean your work up to that point or are you just stalling?  Many writers are actually almost phobic about finishing their books. Anything to throw up self-imposed road blocks.  Don't do that to yourself.  Keep moving. All that little stuff, spelling, punctuation, rewording, can be done later.  Get the ideas down and press forward.
So what are you going to do?  Define your writing time, don't try to let the web do everything (sometimes a bit old fashioned can help as in a notebook), don't answer the damn phone or allow your time to be interrupted and use your self-discipline to press forward. A good idea, not written down, can be lost forever.  Been there, done that to.

Keep writing - keep the momentum moving forward and let me know how you do.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Mashable Tools for Writers

Are you a writer who makes full use of technology and the social media?  Then you just might want to visit Mashable fairly frequently and keep ahead of the curve on pretty much everything techie and web. Lots of cheap yet valuable tools for writers. Lots of info - but don't get lost in this vast sea of information.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Give Your Writing Punch - Make Your Reader Believe!

Today's advice is pretty basic, but I think it needs to be pulled out and examined again anyway.  How many times have you as a writer been told to 'show' don't 'tell'. 

Well I wrote a blog post on that some time back so if you've read that (and you still can by going into my archives here) then you know where I stand in general on that statement.  Yes, there's a lot of legitimacy to it, but not exclusively.

That said, let me tell you there needs to be action in your writing. I don't necessarily mean blowing things up or crazy chases, but action, movement, things happening.  It can't simply be two people talking to each other. It can't be you, the writer, describing everything you 'see' in the story without creating sharp dialog and throat-grabbing scenes.

So, consider this. If in your narrative you state John Smith is a brutal, homicidal maniac with wind-whipped scraggly hair and ice water for blood, but he loves his cat, your reader  may buy it or more likely may well think, 'yeah, sure."

On the other hand if you take a different approach if you set the scene (and remember books are built out of scenes, one stacking on another) in which John is striding down a wind-swept beach, the sea mist wetting his hair into scraggy dreads twisted on the wind while he carries a knife tucked up his sleeve so we see only the glinting silver tip, the reader becomes involved. 

If you continue with John until he trips over a guy in the sand, whirls on him, stabbing him with the suddenly hand-held knife, then kicks him in the ribs for good measure when he's down, the reader is gripped by this study of violence and accepts the ice water in John's veins.

And if John casually tucks the knife away and retreats to his cottage on the beach where his cat awaits to wind lovingly back and forth between his legs until John scoops him up in a loving embrace and the cat purrs like a fur-wrapped jack-hammer, well, now the reader believes! And, in believing, the reader wants more and reads on, turning the page.

So you've got them believing and reading.  The next step is a readable novel. Keep those scenes stacking, building and keep painting your word picture with strong, simple, natural sentences. Occasionally a story requires a longer, more involved sentence, but generally, to hold attention, KISS - the old Keep It Simple Stupid. 

Because - if you're creating descriptive and powerful scenes, you don't want to wander off into what was long ago known as 'purple prose'.  Few things can distract the reader and distract him or her from the crisp, potent images you create as fast as that stabbing scene with John enveloped in a lengthy and flowery passage about the lyrical beauty of the sea and sand.

If you must put that lyrical, flowery bit in, do -- then brutally exorcise it from the manuscript at final edit. No excuses, do it.

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