Category Archive: story

Mar 20 2012

Inside the Mind of a Self-Doubting Writer

  1. Wow. What a great idea! I can’t wait to start on this story. But, wait. How can I make it original without making it suck?

  2. I know! I’ll write a cast of diverse characters, no cookie cutter stereotypes. Plus, my voice and style of writing would lend to the story’s uniqueness.

  3. Wow, I impressed myself. Gotta tell my honey how many words I wrote today and update my Twitter and Facebook pages with the news.

  4. Gosh, I’m tearing through this story. I’ve written so many chapters and even added a few good twists. This is gonna be brilliant! Progress is going great! I can’t wait to share this story with the world. People are gonna love this.

  5. But what if they don’t? What if they don’t like the direction I took the main character? Gosh, maybe I should go back and further clarify why the character made that decision.

  6. While I’m rewriting the scene where the main character makes an important decision, I might as well reread the entire thing to make sure the story’s unfolding the way I envisioned.

  7. Okay, now I’ll continue writing where I left off … but later this evening, after I make dinner and put the kids to sleep.

  8. The kids are fed, full and asleep but I woke up pretty early today. I’ll go to sleep now so I can get up early and write more of the story tomorrow before work.

  9. I got about an hour before I get the kids off to school this morning. Might as well check my emails and see what I missed on Facebook and Twitter before I start on the story.

  10. Darn! Where did the time go? I’ll finish writing the chapter of my story by tonight, no excuses.

  11. Well, now it’s a little late but I have the time to look over the last few chapters I wrote to remember where I left off.

  12. Ugh! I wrote that?! I must’ve been tired or something. This is not going the way I thought it would. It’s nothing but chapters and chapters of crap. No one’s gonna want to read this mess! Why am I wasting my time? The characters are obviously stereotypes and my voice and style seem too sophomoric.

  13. Ooh. I got another cool idea. But this idea will be great as a different book with different characters.

  14. Now how can I put my twist on it and make it truly my own? Well, before I get into this new story maybe I should finish writing the other story first.

  15. *opens story and stare blankly at the screen*

  16. I’ll start the new story now and work on the other story tomorrow. *closes story and opens blank document*

  17. But what if no one likes the premise of the new story? The characters seem kind of blah, the setting is overused … this will never work.

  18. Oh, wait! Honey read over the few chapters of my other story and liked it. Maybe I should put all my attention into that story again. But Honey isn’t familiar with book publishing or the market. What if Honey was just being nice and the story really sucks?

  19. I’ll have one of my author friends look over it and give me their feedback. They understand the book world and will be honest with me.

  20. They liked it and even gave me some useful feedback on how to make it even better. I can’t wait to start working on this story again. This is brilliant! People are gonna love it!

Feb 27 2012

Read More to Write Better

Sure we read fiction to escape reality or to be entertained. We read nonfiction to learn or to be inspired. We read for various reasons. However, did you know to be a better writer you have to read? Not just read, but read analytically.

 

Reading often and with an analytical eye will help you do the following:

Understand the three-act structure of storytelling

This one’s fairly easy and something that does not necessarily have to be taught to you if you read fiction regularly. The more you read the more you absorb the three-act structure of storytelling. I wouldn’t be surprised to know a four year old could tell an adequate story in less than five sentences just by having someone read him a bedtime story every night.


The dinosaur lost his blanket. He travels the land for days in search of the blanket and spots it near the top of a volcano. He climbs up the mountainside, fighting lava monsters until he finally makes it to the blanket and takes it back. He safely returns to his mommy and daddy, and lives happily ever after.

 

 

As dull as that story is, it’s still a complete story that contains the three act structure with Setup, Confrontation and Resolution. We understand this structure early and easily in stories just by reading and reading often.

Helps to study the market

Compare your books to other books by reading similar books in your genre with similar themes. It allows you to see how popular or appealing that genre and theme is, how your story compares to it in terms of uniqueness, and helps you discover overdone plots and overused characters and other clichés.
With that information you can write a book that stands out from the competition and produces buzz. You can also see the commonalities of your genre and understand why readers gravitate (or not) to those types of books so you can better provide reader satisfaction.

 

Helps to find your voice

When reading stories with similar themes as your own you  can analyze how other authors tell their stories and why you think their voice worked or didn’t work for that book. Is it too dark? Fast paced with choppy sentences? Does it lack tone or emotion?
Finding out how the narrative voice fits with the book or not will help you see which style is best for your own story.

 

Helps to broaden your vocabulary and improve your grammar

We read many words while reading some of our favorite books and some are words we’re not familiar with. We learn and memorize those words and add them to our vocabulary. With every story we read our vocabulary grows. The more words you know, the easier it is to write and be more descriptive.
We can be our own teachers at times and improve our grammar just by reading regularly. Seeing a word spelled a certain way, or with an apostrophe here or there becomes second nature to mimic that in our own writing.
Plus, more people should easily understand the difference between the words then and than if they read those words in a few sentences often. (A tiny peeve of mine).

Bad excuses NOT to read as a writer

  • Afraid of stealing ideas from another book or author.
This is a poor excuse, in my opinion. True, there are few original ideas left (if any) but there are limitless ways of telling a story. You have a unique voice, style and creativity that it’s nearly impossible for two people with the same idea to tell the exact same story.
  • It takes away writing time.

If you’re on a deadline, sure writing time is few.  However, plenty writers benefit when they read almost as much (if not more) than they write, for reasons stated above.

 

So continue to write but remember to read and read often for entertainment, inspiration or whatever the reason, but especially if you want to improve as a writer.

Do you agree with my points? Do you have something to add that I may have missed?

Feb 22 2012

Reasons Writing What You Love Works

As I write this, I have about a dozen books with my name on them and I love them all. I love some more than others. The titles I like most are the ones with subjects I enjoy writing about. The stories with an underlying theme or issue that’s close to my heart. And I found I get thoughtful, more positive responses from readers when I write what I love. Below are some reasons why writing what you love can create better, more fulfilling writing.


1. It’s easier to write what you’re passionate about.

If you’re passionate about marriage equality, if you have something to say about single parenting, or perhaps you’re an animal activist and enjoy writing stories about similar characters, chances are you’ll be able to easily get your story onto paper or screen.

Ways to incorporate your passion into your story are:

  • Through conflict: Making your passion a critical part of the story (major conflict), a character’s decision or battle (inner conflict), a character’s past (backstory), etc.
  • Dialogue: Several characters can debate about the subject.
  • A character’s belief on the subject: The subject is a major part of the character’s upbringing or backstory that he’s forced to explore and by the end has transformed.

2. You’re knowledgeable about the subject or are more willing to learn about the subject.

When you write what you love, you tend to know plenty about the subject and therefore are a sort of expert in that regard. Your knowledge will come in handy for crafting a true to life story and believable characters. If you aren’t an expert on the subject, your love for that subject will persuade you to learn more about it. Or at least make research fun instead of daunting!

3. You put more effort into your project.

I find when I believe in the overall message of my story I spend an insane amount of time perfecting it. Enough is never enough when it comes to a project you really care about. You put your heart into creating the absolute best. You agonize over every minute detail.  You have to get it right.

4. You convey your passion and/or message to readers better.

You immerse yourself in your passion, it seems fitting to eagerly share what you’ve learned, and your desire shines through effortlessly. Almost like telling someone about the first time you rode a roller coaster or witnessed something truly amazing, you’re delivery is engaging. When you write what you love, what you’re passionate about, the reader could tell too. You help them understand why the subject is important to the writer, the characters, the plot, etc. Plus, you have fun writing it!

As a writer, are there other reasons you think writing what you love works? As a reader, do you think a writer’s passion for a specific content, subject, or theme makes for better reading?

Feb 14 2012

The Complicated Story Ending

The ending of your story should be just as engaging as the beginning hook. It should be emotionally satisfying, and tie up most if not all loose ends. If the book is part of a series, it still needs to stand on its own, and answer all major story questions.


Sound familiar?

These are the (unofficial) rules about story endings that all writers know or should know. We follow these rules to ensure a great ending to our story in the hopes that readers will stick around for the next book in the series, come back to read our next standalone title, or even pick up one of our backlisted ones.

Why Endings are Important.

The end of any book is important. The end is the last impression the reader has of our stories. It’s the part of the story that is the freshest in their mind and which they rate and judge the book as a whole. A great ending is hard to write but necessary to attempt.

Although I know what makes a great ending I still struggle to execute it at times. I obsess over it, trying to perfect it.

Makings of a Great Story Ending:

  • Twists and surprise endings: Surprising the reader with a revelation that was foreshadowed throughout the story. i.e. It was right under their noses the whole time.

  • Theme: Tying in the overall theme or message of the book into the ending to add extra significance.

  • Answer the major story question: Will they fall in love? Will they find the murderer? Will they ever learn to trust one another?

  • Character change and growth: The main characters must begin the story a certain person and by the end of the story the character is a changed man or woman. The events in the story, the obstacles, the triumphs and failures all mold the character into a different person by the end.

  • End at the end: Once the major story questions are answered and the character achieves the story goal then the story is over. Ending the story before questions are answered and characters change or long after can disappoint the reader.

Currently I attempt to rewrite the ending of my latest WIP and hope it all falls into place. Knowing how to write the perfect ending to your story doesn’t make it any less complicated, in my opinion. However, my motto is: If it’s too easy, you ain’t doing it right.