Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fiction. Show all posts

Decriptive Writing With Specificity

We strengthen all of our writing by using descriptive details: even more so with specificity.

Our goal is to grow our observation skills, both specific and general. Being observant is essential for all writers; it creates relatable writing and gives the texture of reality. So, in this we are building our descriptive muscles and research skills.

To build up our descriptive writing:
  • We use detail to express areas of importance; big picture, specific purpose, or differentiation,
  • We use words that are vibrant, essential, and focused,
  • We use metaphors, similes, and comparisons to tell the story,
  • We use sense words and articulate a picture,
  • We stay on point and write economically

Research is involved for our fiction or non-fiction projects.
Here are a few points to consider:

  • Is the setting a place you have traveled or lived? Is it from a life experience? If so, a lot of your work is done, it’s relatable because you’ve been there. You know the landscape, the business environment, the social makeup.
  • Consider writing in real time, describing the scene in such a way to bring your reader along, present for the journey. Describe what you see from where you are to develop the scene.
  • What’s the time-period, which century? Descriptions will vary according to the time; i.e. street lighting by gas lamps or bulbs, roadway construction, metropolis or rural location, east or west coastline, piper-cubs or jet stream travel.
  • Be willing to adjust your project plan as you go. Is it reachable or does it need revision?

Need ideas?
  • Use life experiences and pull short sections to launch your story,
  • Use one word prompts to free write and spark ideas,
  • Where is your favorite place? Is it a beach town, or mountain village? Start there and chose the best memory or daydream,
  • Books like “Where Do You Get Your Ideas” by Fred White, published by Writer’s Digest, could be just the thing to help launch your project.

Previous Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
1)    Make it Personable & Tangible: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/02/descriptive-writing-for-fiction-and-non.html
2)    Make it Realistic: https://www.writersonthemove.com/2020/03/descriptive-writing-make-it-realistic.html


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her writer’s website at: https://deborahlynwriter.com/
Visit her caregiver’s website and read the Mom & Me memoir at: https://deborahlyncaregiver.com/
Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer    https://www.facebook.com/deborahlynwriter/?modal=admin_todo_tour



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NaNoWriMo Resources Are for Everyone

Even if you don't participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), the NaNoWriMo site has resources and community that you might find useful.

I love the forums, where inspiration is rife and your strange questions may be answered by people all over the world.

You might also like the NaNo Prep 101 Handbook (under Writer's Resources / NaNo Prep), which has information and nice graphics for all fiction writers.

And, of course, if you're planning on writing 50,000 words this November, this website will help keep you sane for 30 days.

Check it out:  https://nanowrimo.org/

When Naming Your Characters, Use the Whole Alphabet


I recently read a book where eight significant characters (which was a good percentage of the significant characters) had names that began with the letter A.  To make matters more confusing, it was a fantasy book, so many of the names were not familiar to us.  The worst combo was Avem and Avarum.   I constantly had to stop and think about who was who.

My mom was just telling me about a book where almost all the main characters had names four letters long, including Lena, Luna, and Lisa.

We, as writers, know our characters very well.  We know who they are and how they fit in and we would never confuse Avem with Avarum or Lena with Luna.  But our readers don't know our characters so well.  They may have only spent a few hours with them, not weeks and months and even years.   And trust me, some of our readers WILL confuse Zola and Zora or Fur'langye and F'galen.

So, here's my challenge:

1)  Sit down with any short story or novel you're writing and make a list of all the significant characters.  Bonus points if you also list any minor character who appears more than once.

2)  Analyze the list.  Look for names that start with the same letter, names that rhyme, and other similar-sounding or similar-looking names.

3)  If you find two names that are too similar, change one.  "Wait!" you may protest, "I can't change their names.  That's like changing who they are!"  I know it's hard, but do it anyway.   You do NOT want your readers to have to stop and think about who is who every time a character comes into a scene.  You want them to stop and think about your mysteries or your characters' inner struggles or that particularly beautiful piece of writing they just read.  The sooner you change the name, the sooner you'll get used to the new one.  It sounds hard, but it'll be okay in the end.

4)  In your next novel or short story, use the list as you start naming your characters, so you don't have to go back and change anything later.

So, when can you let similar names slide?

-If it's really important to the plot or characterization

-If the names are distinct enough.  For example, you might leave Dr. Turgenev and Tom alone, because they're quite different, but if you have Trent and Trevor or Carol and Cheryl, change one.


Melinda Brasher's fiction appears most recently in Leading Edge (Volume 73) and Deep Magic (Spring 2019).  Her newest non-fiction book, Hiking Alaska from Cruise Ports is available for pre-order on Amazon.    

She loves hiking and taking photographs of nature's small miracles.  

Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com







Random Writing Prompts: Winter Edition

Bored of winter? Sick of the snow? Or, in my case, completely over what counts as winter in Southern California? It's cold and rainy weather, by the way. 

You don't need to go outside to have a great adventure. Write one. Take a few minutes - take an hour - and start on a new story.

Here are three writing prompts designed to get you through the winter doldrums.

1. Spring Fling. Nothing says "change of seasons" like a party to welcome spring. Plan an elaborate "to do" from the guest list and invitations to location, food, and activities. Then, jump on in and have a ball, and then write about it. You can do this as yourself or a new character. 

2. Summer Fun. Time for a summer vacation ... in February ... on paper. If you could go anywhere, all-expenses paid, where would it be? Why? Sky's the limit, so what are you waiting for. Don't forget to tell us all about it. Write it as a letter, a fictional travel essay, or as a treatment for what could become a much more in-depth story.

3. Fall Frenzy. You didn't think these would all be good, did you? Think ahead to the end of summer/beginning of fall. You are getting set to start the new school year and something happens ... then something else ... and something else. Pile on the problems, and write your way out of it. It's fictional, so there really is no such thing as too outrageous. Besides, with all the fictional problems you create, the last thing you will be thinking about is bad weather.

There''s nothing like writing to get out of the slushy snow and on to warmer thoughts. You never know. One of these writing prompts may spark a new novel, essay, or screenplay. Have fun and see where your story takes you.

Where will you go on your fictional winter adventure? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Tips on Adding Flashbacks to your Author Kit

A flashback is a literary device that momentarily departs from a story to a scene in the past. A flashback can be as brief as a sudden thought, a dream, or a memory. Flashback can help give your story depth, and make your main character more interesting. As Diane O’Connell, author of The Novel-Maker’s Handbook, put it on her blog, “Used wisely, flashbacks can add richness, emotional resonance and depth to your novel.”

“Flashbacks can thicken plots, create dynamic and complex characters, reveal information otherwise left unspoken, or surprise the audience with shocking secrets. A large part of a character’s essence can be found in the past and the memories which resurface over time.” https://literaryterms.net/flashback/ (Helpful examples of flashbacks can be found on this site as well.)

“Using flashbacks wisely” is the key. If you’d like to try using flashback in your story, follow these tips and read the articles suggested at the end of this post, and you’ll be good to go.

The Good News First
When a flashback scene enhances your story:
  • A scene that depicts an incident from your protagonist’s childhood could shed light on her current situation and help your reader understand her better.
  • An incident that occurred before your story began, in a far-off time and place, could enhance your story present. 
  • What has driven your character to act? Something that happened to her in the past? Flashing back to that incident could help explain her motives.
Now for the pitfalls:
  • The biggest disadvantage of flashbacks is that they happened in the past. Not in story time. 
  • Flashbacks need to be done effectively to avoid removing your reader from your story.
Tips for Effective Flashbacks
  • Never start a scene with a flashback.
  • Have a flashback follow a strong scene.
  • Keep flashback brief.
  • Make sure the flashback advances the story.
  • Use flashbacks sparingly.
  • Orient reader at the start of a flashback, in time and space, and transition back to the story present.
  • Tenses: for past tense, use past perfect and simple past; for present tense, use present tense in the entire flashback, and resume story in present tense.
  • Transitioning: Make transitions clear. Use the above tenses to guide readers in and out of flashback.
The following flashback, as Nancy Kress wrote in her Writer's Digest article, does a good job of transition. It’s from Thomas Perry’s mystery novel Sleeping Dogs. Protagonist Michael Schaeffer, a former hit man, has just come upon the site of a multiple murder:

All his old habits came back automatically. At a glance he assessed [everyone’s] posture and hands. Was there a man whose fingers curled in a little tremor when their eyes met, a woman whose hand moved to rest inside her handbag? He knew all the practical moves and involuntary gestures, and he scanned everyone, granting no exceptions. He and Eddie had done a job like this one when he was no more than twelve. Eddie had dressed him for baseball, and had even bought him a new glove to carry folded under his arm. When they had come upon the man in the crowd, he hadn’t even seen them; his eyes were too occupied in studying the crowd for danger to waste a moment on a little kid and his father walking home from a sandlot game. As they passed the man … (From “3 Tips for Writing Successful Flashbacks,” by Nancy Kress.)

Flash Forward
The opposite of flashback is a glance at the future, or the flash forward. Example:

  • The light flashed so bright, Emma had to shut her eyes. She couldn’t know that once she took even a peek, she’d be seeing a ghost.
Flashbacks and flash forwards might come more naturally to you than you might think. While reading a few chapters of my current WIP to my husband today, I was surprised to find a flashback, written before I did my research for today's post. So, now that you know how to slip these literary devices into your own writing, if you haven't tried them yet, you might experiment with them as a way to enhance your own writing. Just keep one guideline in mind: use flashbacks and flash forwards sparingly.

Please note: My post "Live Author Interviews," Part II from last month's post, "Tips on Author Interviews" will be appearing soon.
Sources:
https://www.writersdigest.com/qp7-migration-all-articles/qp7-migration-fiction/3_tips_for_writing_successful_flashbacks 
https://literaryterms.net/flashback/ 
http://www.writetosellyourbook.com/blog/2011/01/21/writing-effective-flashbacks/
Clipart courtesy of: http://clipart-library.com/fireworks-pictures-free-clipart.html 


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. Her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, is hot off the press and will be available soon. Currently, she is hard at work on The Ghost of Janey Brown, Book Two in the series. Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Author Kimberley Griffiths Little on Deep Point of View


"Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow
after your characters have run by on their way to
incredible destinations." Ray Bradbury, WD
Do you write romance novels? Historical fiction? Mysteries? Whatever your genre, you strive to create a close personal relationship between your main character and your reader. To shed light on this topic, at a recent New Mexico Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI Regional event, Kimberley Griffiths Little presented the workshop, “Close Third Person or Deep Point of View, DPOV.” Kimberley has written many Young Adult novels, such as Returned (Forbidden), Forbidden, Banished (Forbidden), and for Middle Grade, When the Butterflies Came and The Time of the Fireflies. Also, as Kimberley Montpetit, she has self-published The Executive’s Secret, Unbreak My Heart, and many other books.

As Kimberley described DPOV, it is capturing your main character from the inside out. What she “knows, sees, hears, feels, experiences—filtered through her world. DPOV creates an immersive reading experience. In DPOV we see more of who the character is.” Add to that a writer’s greatest prize: DPOV is how you gain THE VOICE.

Boot out the Narrator
I received one of the first drafts of my first book back so fast from a beta reader it wasn’t funny. There were few notes, few edits. But in huge letters on the first page she wrote: "GET RID OF THE NARRATOR! Then send it back to me."

Oh my, was I in a world of rewrite! I think all authors would agree that finding that voice, showing and not telling the story, nixing the narrator, takes practice and experience. Also, I’ve talked to writers who agree that even in later stages of revision, "telling" and "the narrator" crop up and have to be banned. It has certainly happened to me. Examples offered at the workshop:

Narrator: She wished she could whisk back in time and redo the last few minutes.
Without the Narrator: Too bad life didn’t come with an undo button.
Narrator: He had to think hard about what to do next.
Without: What should he do next?

DPOV in Action
According to Kimberley: Become your character. Live inside your character’s mind and heart. Immerse yourself by staying in your character’s point of view. Take your reader on a journey through your character’s experiences. Want to see how? Here goes:

Shallow: Desiree’s skin prickled with pleasant excitement.
Deep: Shadows loomed. The place reeked of ancient secrets. Desiree’s skin prickled.
Shallow: He could see the tip of the dog’s nose peeking out of the closet.
Deep: Barry stepped through the door and entered the room. “Aha! There you are!” The tip of the dog’s nose peeked out of the closet.

DPOV is not italicized. According to Kimberley, italicizing thoughts takes the reader out of DPOV.

With italics: Jane looked out the window. Wow! Look at that sunshine and dew sparkling on the roses. What a perfect day for gardening. I’d better go get my tools.

She went to the garage and scanned her shelves. Now where did I put my gloves and trowel?

Without: Jane looked out the window. The dew on the roses sparkled in the morning sunlight. Wow! Would there ever be a better day for gardening?

Humming, she hurried into the garage. Her gaze searched the wooden shelves. Where had she stored her gloves and trowel?

Avoid “Pitfall Words”
Do a search in your manuscript and look for “pitfall words:” Think, Know, Feel, Realized, Caused, Made. Focus instead on the senses and play-by-play action in the NOW: Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, Sound, Emotions.

Word No-No’s that create narrative distance:
  • Saw, considered, made, caused
  •  She felt: watched, thought, realized, wished, decided, wondered
  • Avoid prepositional tells: with, of, in
  • Beware the IT Trap. It’s vague—(What's vague? The It Trap! There, that's better!) What does IT mean? Namely, that substituting "it" instead of specific nouns and descriptions isn't nearly as dynamic. 
  • Choose power words
Workshop Tips Served up on a Platter
  • Overuse of “to be” verbs
  •  Don’t summarize: Write the scene 
  •  Share from the inside out rather than a “watcher’s” perspective
  •  Research physiological reactions 
  •  Write moment-to-moment
  •  Break up long description with an action; break up internal dialogue with action
  •  Don’t name the feeling—Show the feeling by physical effects on the body, thoughts in keeping with that particular emotion: ASK HOW YOUR CHARACTER WOULD REACT
  •  Everything can’t be written in DPOV. Your reader sometimes needs distance to relax, such as your character reflecting and telling friends.
A word of thanks: Experienced and successful authors like Kimberley and others in our New Mexico Regional SCBWI chapter, who take the time to attend meetings and events and share their expertise, are appreciated by our members. Thank you, Kimberley, for sharing.
To learn more about Kimberley, visit: www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com
Image courtesy of: https://www.goodfreephotos.com
It all started here!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, will be published in September 2018. Currently, she is hard at work on Book Two in the series. Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Writers: How to Handle a Difficult Critique


There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation,
 hard work, and learning from failure. Colin Powell

THE FIRST PAGE. The most important page in your entire book. A recent SCBWI Shop Talk meeting focused on the keys to a successful first page, or rather the necessary keys to the first page of your novel or nonfiction book, that will either interest an editor or agent . . . or not.

The text I took was the first page of my second book, Book Two in a middle grade mystery series. It was the best I could do at the time. Was I in for a shock when my entire attempt got kicked to the curb.

On the ride home, I felt wrung out. I allowed myself to feel this way until the garage door opened. Then I put the meeting's papers to the side and took up an enjoyable pastime to ease the tension. It worked. I had a good sleep. The next day I got to work.

This technique has served me well over the years, learned from one of my writing courses upon receiving a rejection. Of course, you're going to be upset. You can't deny those feelings, so you go with them for fifteen minutes, max. Then you either take a short break like I did, or you get back to work. If you're feeling especially low, get out any praises you've collected from editors, readers, and critiquers, and pour over them. Believe you're a good writer. Then get back to work.
 
Same could be said for successes. Gloat all you want, but keep it short. There's work to do.

Heed the Advice of the Pros
Even though it didn't seem necessary to me at first, the leader of our meeting ran through how to accept critique of your work:
  • Do not take your critique personally.
  • Separate yourself from the work.
  • Comments made do not need to be followed. Decide whether you agree with them or not before changing anything.
  • Duplicate comments need to be taken into account. If more than one person notices something, it most likely needs to be changed.
  • Give yourself a day or two before working on the comments.
For the critiquer:
  • Stay positive
  • Be respectful
  • Remember: It takes courage for a writer to share her work.
  • Remember: Someone has poured their heart and soul into their work.
Comments Gathered from the Group
The next day when I began work on my first page, the first thing I did was make a list of the comments. I have tacked it up on my bulletin board in an effort to learn from the critiquers and avoid making the same mistakes again. Interspersed are the positive along with the critiqued comments—to stay as positive as possible while restructuring my first page.
  • Has the tone of a mystery, which intrigues!
  • The two voices are very similar.
  • Save backstory for later—keep us in the action.
  • Seems like an info dump.
  • Has a Nancy Drew feel.
  • Dialogue not realistic—too formal for kids.
  • Thank you for sharing!
  • Deceptive beginning.
  • Cannot tell the difference between the two characters.
  • Likes how it starts with a question.
Am I going to allow this critique to stop me? Not by a long shot. Rather, I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful for the help. It means the difference between a failed novel and a successful one, I am convinced of that. You can bet, I’ll be coming back for more at the next critique meeting.

Illustration courtesy of : www.freevector.com

The quote courtesy of: https://www.brainyquote.com


Needlepoint that hangs on my wall


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, will be coming out in September. Currently, she is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.









Only One Life

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Sometimes during my day, I will take a few minutes and watch some YouTube or Tik Tok videos. Whenever I watch,...