What’s Your Writing Voice?

April 1, 2019


I spent all day last Saturday at Michael Dwyer’s Rochester Writers’ Conference … the best one-day writing conference in the state (at least, to me it is). I’ve been to almost all of them … going back years.

It was another day well spent (and it kept me out of the rain).

Saw some good presentations, listened to some good speakers, made new friends and saw several old ones.

Reflecting on it, I realized one of the telling comments of the day actually came from people not associated with the presentations.

In one of our table discussions, we were all talking about how we came to the avocation of storytelling. One of the speakers said she actually started because her friends told her she wrote well.

The gentleman across the table started to discuss what she wrote about and the content of her sentences, and he eventually asked how well she thought she connected ideas in her sentences to one another.

It made her pause.

Writing Voice
It made me realize that, in the end, the task of writing a story boils down simply to writing sentences within scenes. By themselves, they may not be amazing sentences. They might not be poetic. They might not display dazzling alliteration.

But a good writing voice … at least a consistent, clear one … can produce glowing strings of intricate beauty. Voice is the outcome elicited by the words you choose and the sentences you assemble using them. Voice is the effect on the reader.

Voice is your style.

The highest goal of voice is clarity … not to write sentences that call undue attention to themselves.

Creating (or fixing) a writing voice won’t be found in a manual. It involves an investment of time. In other words: read, read, read.

The best strategy is to begin noticing how your writing voice compares to the voice of successful authors you admire. Try to categorize their voices and observe how they use language. Compare their sentences to yours. If you can see the difference, then three more words apply:

Practice. Practice. Practice.

This is an ear thing, a sensibility thing. It is something that can be learned over time, but be sure to get feedback from someone qualified who cares enough to be honest. It may be the best opportunity you ever have to experience a writing epiphany.

* * * * *

I’ll be joining a host of other authors signing books at SterlingFest in Sterling Heights, Michigan on July 27.

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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.

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

A Writing Conference – Again?

March 29, 2019

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan

I’ve pointed it out before, and all of you who have been there know it’s true. Writing is often 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 loquacious tribe called writers.

Tomorrow, on Saturday, March 30, I plan to again attend the Rochester Writers’ Spring Conference at Oakland University, something I’ve done for all but one of the years it’s been in existence.

It’s a marvelous conference. This spring, the theme is self-publishing. How cool is that? You’ll find loads of interesting lectures, workshops and panel discussions … 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 indie writing. You can attend a variety of sessions, choosing those tailored to your own comfort level, 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, comparing indie to traditional.

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to gather advice on developing your writing career and marketing your stories to readers.

Networking
I decided long ago to go the indie route with my fiction and, even if you discover the conference itself doesn’t offer all the answers, you usually need to look no further than those around you.

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

As I said, they’re a loquacious bunch … they love to talk.

So talk to the other attendees, 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 who will be happy to share what they’ve already learned.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your own books. Give the people you meet your elevator pitch. You should be able to tell your whole story-line in 30 seconds.

Other attendees will want to know about your work, and your elevator pitch should always be ready to go. Just remember to keep it short. You don’t want to frighten anyone away.

Be Professional
Have a business card. A business card, with your contact information, is an easy, professional leave-behind to give to lecturers, speakers, panelists 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.

* * * * *

I’ll be joining a host of other authors signing books 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.

What About Character Development?

February 23, 2019


I’ve talked about this a lot. Fiction writers all have the same goal … to transport their readers inside the pages so they feel like they’re walking along as a part of the story.

Memorable characters are an extremely important part of making that happen. In fact, they should drive the story. Mine do it so well they sometimes argue with me.

So how does one develop effective, memorable characters?

Not every character merits equal attention. Of course, when you don’t devote enough time to him you get a one-dimensional character. It may be okay if his role isn’t very significant.

But if it is significant, trust me, that character needs to be fleshed out.

His actions should make sense with his role. To become believable and memorable, he should behave in ways that are consistent with how you’ve developed him.

If a character behaves in a way that doesn’t make sense, your readers will notice it. Inconsistency will jar them. In fact, it will probably jar them right out of the story.

Don’t Make Your Characters Perfect
It’s also hard to empathize with a perfect person. Perfection doesn’t exist in real life. The fictional characters we create need to feel like real people and everyone, no matter how noble, is flawed in some way. Learn to capitalize on those flaws.

Plus, if you don’t have a firm picture of each character in your own mind, they’re going to be shaky on the page.

That being said, there’s a tendency for some writers to throw too much at the reader all at once … to give a full physical description, tell the life story, and reveal the innermost thoughts of a character as soon as he is introduced.

But that’s not the best approach.

The Devil is in the Details
Think about each character you’re creating. The reader is undoubtedly meeting him for the first time. When you first introduce him, you should certainly include a few details, but his personality and motivation should be revealed gradually through his actions.

Just like real life, observing him interacting with others is how we really get to know him.

Base Characters on Real People
Some writers think this is cheating, but I do it all the time. I take a character and give him the personality of someone I know (either real or from observation). I create (for myself) a short biography of each character and then imagine what he would do in a “what if” question that’s the heart of most of my stories.

As I mentioned before, I like to observe human behavior … how they talk, their mannerisms, what they wear, their attitudes and body language. I incorporate all of that into my writing.

Everybody Has a History
Where we came from shapes us and molds us. And, even if you don’t reveal your characters’ past to your readers, you, as the author, should know about it. You should have full biographies of your main characters in your mind so you understand what drives them.

Why is this important?

Because if you don’t completely understand a character, your readers won’t either.

Don’t Neglect Secondary Characters
Sidekicks can be some of the most interesting characters in the story. They’re often the readers’ favorites … sort of like the supporting instruments in a symphony. Every one serves a purpose.

I hear other authors tell me the villain is their favorite character, the one they love to write about. Bad guys can be very tough to do well, and it can be even tougher to get readers to empathize with them. So, whenever you write about a villain, keep in mind that he needs to be just as well-developed as your main characters.

He should have redeeming characteristics, just like your heroes will have flaws.

Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” is a great example. He was one of my favorite characters in the story, even though he’s not a hero. Poor Gollum is obviously ruled by evil most of the time, but he’s also a well-drawn victim. We empathize with him, and feel sorry for him.

He is a great antagonist. We have hope for him … we wish he could be redeemed. A moment later we loathe and despise him all over again, and wish somebody would squash him like a bug, because he’s so annoying. Characters like this can be among the most difficult to create, but they are also some of the most satisfying.

Your readers will stay with you to the end of the journey, if you just remember, better characters make better stories.

* * * * *

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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