Archive for the ‘Believable Characters’ Category

Why Care About Hooking a Reader?

June 30, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.

Seems Like an Easy Question
Simply put, if you don’t hook your readers, they won’t get into the story. If readers don’t get into the story, they won’t have a reason to keep reading.

No readers? No book sales. No book sales? Goodbye writing career. So, getting it right is an important part of the writing process.

Suspense is one of the techniques you can use to hook them, but it’s always been true that all suspense comes out of giving the reader information. After all, you can’t expect people to have anxieties, if they don’t have something to be anxious about.

Think about the pandemic and recent country-wide riots, and the fear many people felt, or still do. That’s what it’s like.

In other words, if you tell the reader there’s a bomb in the room, and it’s going to go off in three minutes…that’s suspense…and it’s a highly emotional process, like being on a roller-coaster ride.

Put Characters in Jeopardy
The information you provide for suspense all comes down to creating these four vital factors: empathy, concern, impending danger and escalating tension.

You create reader empathy by giving the character a desire or internal struggle. Something readers can identify with. Once they care about a character, readers will be invested when they see that character struggling to get what he desires.

The more readers empathize, the closer their connection with the story will be.

If readers become engaged in the story, suspense builds as danger approaches. But it doesn’t have to be a physical life-and-death situation. The threat could involve the character’s psychological, emotional or spiritual well-being instead.

However, if tension doesn’t escalate, the suspense you’ve been trying to develop will evaporate. Suspenseful storytelling is like inflating a balloon. You can’t stop blowing or you let the air out. You have to keep blowing more in, tightening the tension until the balloon looks like it’s going to pop any second.

Then blow in even more…until the reader can hardly stand it.

Include Promises
It’s important to remember that suspense happens in the moments between the promise of something dreadful and its arrival. If readers complain “nothing is happening” what they’re really saying is no promises are being made.

Contrary to what you might think, the problem of readers being bored by inaction isn’t solved by adding action. Suspense is anticipation, after all. Action is the payoff. You don’t increase suspense by making things happen, but by promising they will.

Keep Every Promise You Make
In tandem with making promises is the obligation of keeping them. But you’d better deliver. The bigger the promise, the bigger the payoff the reader wants. A huge promise without the fulfillment isn’t suspense…it’s disappointment.

If you spend three paragraphs describing a woman’s multi-colored silk scarf, that scarf had better be vital to the story. If not, you’re telling your readers, “Oh, by the way, I wasted your time. That part really wasn’t important.”

Never disrespect your readers like that.

When stories falter it’s not usually because the writers didn’t make big enough promises. It’s because they they broke those promises by never fulfilling them at all. When readers invest their time, they want that investment to pay off.

Know the Difference Between Suspense and Mystery
A story moves through action to moments of reorientation when the characters process what just happened…and make a decision that leads to the next scene.

We do this in real life as well…we experience something moving or profound, and then decide how to respond. When a story lags, it’s almost always because of missing tension.

Mystery, on the other hand, is an intellectual process…like a riddle.

In a mystery, you don’t need to answer every question. In fact, it’s important to leave some questions unresolved, so the audience will still be thinking about them at the end of the book.

Be One Step Ahead of Your Readers
When I write I’m constantly asking myself what the readers are hoping for, or wondering about, at each point in the story. Our job as writers is to give them more than they ever bargained for.

Make it personal. As you develop your story, appeal to readers’ fears and phobias. Think of things that frighten you most, and use them. You can be sure many of your readers will fear them as well.

No matter what you write, good prose really is all about sharpening the suspense. Follow these hints, and you’ll keep your readers up way past their bedtime.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

When Things are Dramatically Complete

March 20, 2020

Photo: Kromlau Bridge (also known as Devil’s Bridge) in Gablenz, Germany

I don’t think anyone would argue writing fiction, whether it’s a novel or a short-story, is a craft. One that requires an adept handling of many elements. But what does adept handling mean?

Every author is different, of course.

Lately, like a lot of folks during this coronavirus scare, I’m stuck in the house…and I’m writing. I think it’s worth mentioning again that I don’t write to an outline. In other words, I don’t plan ahead before drafting my stories.

The reason?

It’s simple. I don’t want to know beforehand what’s going to happen. If I know the direction it’s going to take, it probably won’t be a good book, because I write to find out what the characters have to tell me.

If I already know, it will bore me…and I’ll likely bore the reader, too.

I shoot for an organic development that leads the characters, and the reader, to a place where each character, for better or worse, is somewhere new. Sometimes, like in the picture above, that might seem like it’s right back at the beginning.

But, if I’ve done it right, they are there in such a way they have grown measurably, and perhaps actually know that place for the first time. Dramatically, they are complete.

It’s Never One Size Fits All
But keep in mind that in fiction, just like in life, one size never fits all. Even the blank spaces, the things that are left unsaid, should be unspoken for a reason.

I’ve been writing for years, but I’m still amazed how stories evolve as you work on them. For instance, some of my writing comes out in long bursts of prose, while some seems to go on the page at a plodding pace. It can be frustrating.

However, regardless of the pace, I always consider two key questions: What is absolutely necessary to telling the story and, perhaps more important, how can the author know this?

A good story is an emotional labyrinth, after all, a maze you find your way through as the characters tell you about it. Well-done stories can transport readers and ignite imaginations…but crafting them is easier said than done.

The imagined world you create in your writing can be liberating. It can also be a daunting challenge. After all, if you plan to welcome readers into that world of your creation, it has to be somewhere they, as an audience, will want to live…at least for a short time.

Focus on the Details
World-building does not mean you have to throw everything about day-to-day reality out the window. Always remember…no matter where they are, people are people.

Build your stories around a core of realistic characters and relatable behavior, and it will make your imagined world that much more captivating. The more you can strategically and artistically throw in such content, the more engrossing your world will feel to readers.

Few things turn a reader off faster than a world that doesn’t make sense or, worse, refuses to play by its own rules. After all, readers give an author the benefit of the doubt when they suspend disbelief and allow themselves to live in your world.

Making the imagined worlds internally consistent is the responsibility authors owe them in return. As the writer, give yourself space to explore and discover your new world in the same way your readers will when it’s their turn to experience it.

Believe me, it will be an immense benefit to your efforts.

**********

The book-signing scheduled at the Leon & Lulu Books and Authors Event in Clawson on March 22, 2020 has been postponed. Please check their website for updates.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Writing Your Own Life Story

April 14, 2019

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

I believe the wisdom and power to create real change lives not only in the experiences of leaders and community builders … but in the things that happen to everyday people all over the world. Each one of us has a story born from our life experience.

We often forget, by offering up our stories we can help others understand their own. We build a structure with our truth so other people can shelter there. In this way, a memoir is not self-indulgent but a road map for the human experience.

Your story also deserves to be told but, unless you’re someone really famous, it’s probably your own responsibility to tell it. Are you ready to share your life story with the world?

Develop a Concept
A memoir captures a period of time or a set of events in your life, rather than cataloging your experience from cradle to grave (that’s an autobiography or biography).

In order to appeal to an audience beyond your friends and family, you must bridge the gap between your life and that of your reader.

Most aspiring authors feel overwhelmed before they even begin. Below are some tips to help you on your way to sharing your story.

You need a solid concept that invites the reader’s concerns into the experience. To get them reading, it has to be more than something saying, “Let me tell you all about wonderful me.”

Consider the elements of your story that are universal and find ways to write them so your reader can imagine their own life through the lens of your circumstances.

Make It Memorable
You can make your nonfiction book as memorable as its fictional counterparts by using sensory language. By that, I mean language that conveys how you felt, what you saw, heard, smelled, and tasted during the scenes you present.

Before you write a pivotal scene, take yourself back to the place, time, and emotion of the moment. Once you’ve transported yourself back to that moment, write your scene.

When you’ve gotten it down on the page, go back and look for ways to vary your language to make it richer and more interesting.

Break out your thesaurus if that helps!

Include Details
Writing in detail takes time to develop, but not as much as you might think. It has helped me in my own writing. View the world in small sections. That limited focus can help you really hone-in on detail.

Construct your book scene-by-scene, moment-by-moment. See the minutiae … the crack etched in the sidewalk cement, the one green pea that rolled under the table, the rim of grease under the thumbnail of your father as he cuts the Thanksgiving turkey. When you add detail to your writing, you are painting with words, and you can use all the colors!

Details like that make the difference, so show them to your readers!

Your Story is Exceptional
You’ve lived through, learned, discovered, or developed something, and you’re still busy living your life. You’re out accomplishing things. What better time is there to write a book about your own life story than now? Don’t keep it to yourself!

Believe it or not, someone out there may need your message. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you may become part of the solution for someone.

You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you can do anything you want to do. What do you have to lose? When will there ever be a better moment than now? You don’t need to learn the publishing industry or take writing classes to write your book. You simply need to get your message out into the world.

Writing a book about yourself is definitely a big hurdle, perhaps comparable to running a marathon. But, just like that epic race, once you do it, you may look back and want to do it again.

What are you waiting for?

**********

I’ll be joining other authors signing books at Detroit Festival of Books at Eastern Market on July 21 and at SterlingFest in Sterling Heights, Michigan on July 27.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


%d bloggers like this: