Archive for the ‘Storytelling’ Category

Wish You Were More Creative?

November 1, 2018

“Creativity” – Photo Courtesy Pexels.com

I found September and October this year to be a whirlwind. There were readings and book-signings, followed by writers’ group meetings, then a writing conference, capped just last weekend by another day-long book-signing. All while working on yet another novel.

It’s been enough to strain anyone’s creativity.

But I can almost hear you say, “Wait a second … you’re a writer. Aren’t you supposed to be creative all the time?” It’s a refrain often heard by folks in the writing community.

One great irony about our collective obsession with creativity is that we tend to frame it in uncreative ways. A friend, and fellow writer, told me recently he wasn’t working on anything at the moment, because he was “waiting for a flash of inspiration.”

Many authors marry creativity to their concept of self, but the key to unlocking real creative potential may be to defy the advice that urges you to believe in yourself.

I say that because I believe creativity is not merely an individual trait, but a malleable product of context and perspective.

Everyone has potential, but you can’t sit around thinking someone’s going to sprinkle fairy dust on you so wonderful things will happen.

So what do you do?

Role Play
It’s often as simple as imagining you are someone else. Actors often employ this technique to get into character for a performance but, the truth is, anyone can use it.

Don’t believe it? Think about some of the kids who came to your door yesterday on Halloween.

Some obviously knew they were dressed up, but I’m willing to bet you could pick out the few who were absolutely convinced they were really the character of their disguise.

I find myself using the same acting technique as I try to develop three new novels, all at the same time. They’re a handful, each with a different story-line, but it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

I spend a lot of time in thought, but when I actually sit down to write, I’m merely getting into character, and it’s just like little Timmy down the street putting on his skeleton costume. I become the character, and let them tell me what they want to do.

When I’m not focused on a specific writing task my actions may be quiet, but my mind is hardly idle. It still spends all day rummaging through old thoughts, assorted memories and current information, putting them all together as new ideas.

We all do it, all the time.

Unfortunately, we allow ourselves to believe such unfocused effort is somehow unsuccessful. We berate ourselves, when the truth is most people spend a lot of their time in this state of “unfocus.”

Humans daydream a lot.

It doesn’t make us slackers; it makes us human.

Harness Your Daydreams
What if we stopped judging ourselves for our mental downtime and, instead, started harnessing it? By giving yourself permission to do something you usually feel guilty about, you may actually be making your fiction more creative.

Try it the next time you sit down to write. Don’t stop daydreaming; become the character. I’m fairly certain you’ll surprise yourself, and finding yourself in an entirely new identity will feel so productive.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 Book-of-the-Year Finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

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.

Are You a Dedicated Storyteller?

October 27, 2018


I recently attended the 2018 Fall Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University and, after a day of interesting presentations, plus conversations with a significant number of the other attendees, one resounding thought from it stays with me.

Everyone enjoys a good story.

Telling one, however, isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes a willingness not only to learn, but to understand, the different elements and techniques of the craft, and it involves a heck of a lot of practice.

In other words, dedication.

However, regardless of genre or style, all good stories have common elements. When developing your next narrative work, make sure you’re paying careful attention to all of them.

Setting
The setting is the time and location in which your story takes place. Settings can be very specific, such as the one that begins my novel REICHOLD STREET:

It was late August, 1962, when I first saw Albert Parker. After all this time, I still remember the year quite distinctly. It was my second teenage summer and, like discovering I had a sexual identity, it was a part of life’s first great transition. I had been waiting months for something special to happen, something magical. Something like having Marilyn Monroe show up on my doorstep….”

But they can also be broad and descriptive, such as “…a tired little cottage on a lonely night….”

Either way you choose to go, a good, well-established setting creates the intended mood, while providing the backdrop and environment for your story.

Characters
A story often includes a number of central characters, each with a different role or purpose. Central characters are vital because the plot revolves around them.

However, regardless of how many characters a story ultimately has, there is almost always a protagonist and antagonist.

The protagonist is the main character, with a clear goal to accomplish or a conflict to overcome. They don’t always need to be admirable, but they must command an emotional involvement from the reader.

Antagonists oppose protagonists, standing between them and their ultimate goals. They can be presented as persons, places, things, or situations that represent a tremendous obstacle.

Plot
Hopefully you know the plot is the sequence of events that connect the audience to the protagonist and his or her ultimate goal.

Conflict
While they may sound similar, don’t confuse plot with conflict. While plot is the sequence of events, conflict drives the story and engages an audience. It keeps them white-knuckled on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the protagonist will overcome the obstacle.

Conflict creates tension and builds suspense, and those are the elements that make the story interesting. Without conflict, you’ve done little more than write a statement.

Theme
The theme is what the story is really about. It’s the main idea or underlying meaning. A story may have both a major theme that is intertwined and repeated throughout the whole narrative, and minor themes that appear more subtly, and don’t necessarily repeat.

Often, it’s the storyteller’s personal opinion on the subject matter.

Narrative Arc
A strong story plot has a narrative arc that has four required elements of its own:

    Setup: The world in which the protagonist exists prior to the journey. The setup usually ends with the conflict being revealed.
    Rising Tension: The series of obstacles the protagonist must overcome. Each obstacle is usually more difficult and with higher stakes than the previous one.
    Climax: The point of highest tension, and the major decisive turning point for the protagonist.
    Resolution: The conflict’s conclusion. This is where the protagonist finally overcomes the conflict, learns to accept it, or is ultimately defeated by it. Regardless, this is where the journey ends.

While every story is different, a successful one captivates its audience and inspires an emotional response. If you have learned to craft a compelling story by engaging an active audience, you can truly call yourself a master of the art of storytelling.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

I’ll be signing books at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.

**********

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.

Making the Most of a Writing Conference

October 8, 2018

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

Let’s face it. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but you don’t have go it alone. You can always do what I do … attend a writing conference, and meet some of the other members of that tribe called writers.

On October 20, I plan to attend the Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University again, something I’ve done every fall for the eleven years it’s been in existence.

It’s a great conference. You’ll find loads of interesting workshops, access to agents and editors … and swarms of writers of various levels, all packaged neatly into a nice, affordable, single-day event.

Workshops
Conferences like this are a great way to learn about all aspects of writing. You can attend a variety of workshops, gathering methods to turn your ideas into finished stories. You’ll also learn more about trends in the industry and the business side of writing.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to gather advice on using social media tools like Twitter, and delve into making personal podcasts to develop your writing career and market your stories to readers.

I decided long ago to go the indie route with my fiction, but if you’re still thinking about traditional publishing, or have an interest in the non-fiction market, the Rochester Writers’ Conference will offer an opportunity to pitch to agents, and talk to a panel of editors.

That experience, in itself, is fabulous. If nothing else, talking directly to agents and editors let’s you examine your own work through a professional’s objective eye.

You might even get comfortable talking about your work – something you’ll definitely need to do when trying to sell someone on your proposals, or when marketing your books.

Networking
Even if the conference itself doesn’t offer all the answers, you often need to look no further than those around you. Looking for a good editor? Thinking about arranging speaking engagements? Trying to find a cover or website designer?

Talking to, and connecting with, other writers can be one of the most valuable things about attending a writing conference.

Talk, be friendly, ask questions. You’re with your tribe, after all.

Make the Most of It
Here are some suggestions to ensure a productive experience. First, take a few minutes to plan for the workshops you want.

A word of warning … you probably won’t get to all of them, due to time constraints.

So, pick wisely among the sessions you know will give you the most help. But go beyond that. Challenge yourself and take at least one session on a topic outside your comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re a beginning author, with more questions than answers, don’t fret. Most of the sessions are geared to accommodate you. Plus, you’ll find many experienced authors in attendance will be happy to share what they’ve already learned.

Remember – Elevator Pitch
If you plan to pitch your work to an agent, don’t worry if you’re nervous. Everybody is. Compensate by being over-prepared. Have at least a rough draft ready before you go.

Also, keep it short.

You usually only have sessions of about 15 minutes with an agent so, please, don’t fill your time with nervous apologies, or rambling, inconsequential details of your personal life.

Talk about your book. Give them your elevator pitch.

Tell what your character wants, why he wants it, and what keeps him from getting it. You should be able to tell your whole story-line in 30 seconds. Remind yourself it’s okay not to explain all the details or the final outcome. Stop at a moment of tension and wait.

Let the agent guide the discussion. Find out what’s caught their attention, or what piece is missing. The longer you talk, the less time the agent or editor is talking, and the main reason you’re talking to them is to hear their feedback and reaction.

Not planning to pitch? Still be prepared to talk about your writing. Other attendees will want to know about your work, and your elevator pitch should always be ready to go.

Be Professional
Have a business card. A business card, with your contact information, is an easy, professional leave behind to give to agents, editors and other writers. I actually prefer a bookmark, because I can list my books, too. Besides, I’ve learned they’re harder to lose.

When you attend any conference, you’ll be making a lot of first impressions. Not only with professionals in your industry, but a host of your peers. It’s okay to show your personality a little, because that can reflect your writing style.

Just make sure people think it’s a good one.

* * * * *

My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

* * * * *

I’ll be signing books at Lake Orion High School on Saturday, October 13, and again at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.

**********

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.


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