Posts Tagged ‘award-winning writing’

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.

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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;

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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.

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.

How to Use Psychology to Write Amazing Stories

February 5, 2019


 

 

 

 

 
 

 
 

Illustration © Charles Schultz

Remember the Charlie Brown comic strip? The enterprising Lucy one-upped the lemonade stand business model and parked herself at a booth offering “Psychiatric Help” for five cents.

I feel a little like that sometimes when I write this blog.

Believe it or not, psychology and writing fiction go hand-in-hand. Psychology revolves around understanding why humans think, feel, and behave as they do. Writers … the good ones anyway … are keen observers of human nature and capture it in their storytelling.

Writing is Psychology
Well-written characters will have history and family dynamics, with definable strengths, weaknesses, and personality problems. They engage in internal monologues about themselves, their relationships, and the world around them.

Such realistic characters make thought-provoking entertainment.

But you don’t need a psychology degree to craft a good story, just curiosity about the people around you. Practicing certain techniques will make it more available in your writer’s toolbox.

Here are three areas of focus:

1. Observation
Most writers are people-watchers. I know I am. I’m fascinated by the things people do, what they say, and any discrepancies between the two. The fictional characters most of us create may be “larger than life” in many ways but, to be good, they must also be someone the reader can relate to.

To that end, would-be writers need to make a habit of observing those around them and noting their behavior. What kinds of things do they say? How do they relate to each other? How do they solve the problems life throws their way?

People-watching is the writer’s research.

2. Body Language
Non-verbal communication speaks volumes. Hone this skill, and learn how to use it effectively in your writing. Non-verbal communication can reveal a person’s true thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

You can use non-verbal signals to reinforce your character’s words, but you can apply it to even greater advantage by using it to belie what the character says, tipping the reader that all is not as it seems.

The most common mistake writers make is using body language to tell us something we already know. Rather, body language should tell us something we don’t know. Body language works best when it’s at odds with what’s happening.

3. Visit Your Bookshelf
This may seem a little tongue-in-cheek, but it’s fabulous advice. Every great writer will tell you so. You can’t write well if you don’t read.

Think about it. Even when you think you’re reading just for the sheer fun of it, you’re actually learning how to relate to the world, and to each other. If the characters in the stories we read are believable, we attach to them on a variety of levels.

So, explore your bookcase for favorite volumes from yesteryear. Blow the dust off one and open it up. You don’t have to get very far into it to see the concepts good writers used to create fictional characters that feel real.

No Degree Necessary
We are all individuals, distinct from one another, but we all share similar emotional inventories. Each of us has experienced (to some degree) fear, anger, humor, guilt, love, lust, hate, disgust, longing, and a myriad of other emotions.

The characters we create will be based on what we know (which includes what we have read), and will be processed by readers according to their similar experiences.

When you write something that makes a connection like that with your reader, the effect can linger long after the book is closed.

* * * * *

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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