Posts Tagged ‘indie writers’

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;

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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.

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.

How Do You Define Horror?

October 28, 2017

Human skull
Photo courtesy Pixabay.

Is it any wonder Halloween comes at this time of year? Falling leaves, wind, sudden chills, early darkness. It’s obviously the season for such things as witches and ghosts.

I write all the time, but as All Hallows Eve approaches again, I find myself pondering a new book to follow my award-winning horror novel BLOOD LAKE. Gotta be something in the air.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a horror story, too, remember the word comes from the Latin horrere, meaning to tremble or shudder. According to the Oxford English Dictionary horror means an intense feeling of fear, shock or disgust.

The best horror stories share several elements in common:

    1. They explore ‘malevolent’ or ‘wicked’ characters or deeds.
    2. They arouse feelings of fear, shock or disgust, as well as the sense of the uncanny. Things are not what they seem. There is a heightened sense of the unknown and/or mysterious.
    3. Horror stories convey intense emotion, mood, tone and environments. Together, these elements produce the sense that everything is charged with ominous possibility.
    4. They contain scary and/or shocking plot twists and story-reveals. In horror stories, ghosts and werewolves are always very, very real.
    5. They immerse readers in the macabre. Horror tends to deal with morbid situations, from repetitive cycles of violence to death-related uncanny scenarios.

So, how do you write a horror story like Stephen King?

Good question. Start with these tips:

Use a Strong, Pervasive Tone
How you describe settings, character movement and actions creates an overarching tone in all fiction. If you do it right your writing can have readers’ spines tingling before a single character has spoken, or made a terrible decision.

You can also create an ominous tone through indirect means. For instance, when objects that should be stationary move. Or when the viewpoint character is disoriented, or a peculiar character seems to materialize out of nowhere.

You should work at creating consistent mood and tone no matter what kind of fiction you want to write, but if you want to write a scary novel, your focus should be on ways you can make actions and descriptions work together to establish an uneasy atmosphere.

Give Wicked Characters Credible Motivations
When you write a horror novel, it shouldn’t read as though a malevolent force is sitting at a bus stop, waiting to infiltrate your unsuspecting characters’ world.

You need to give every malevolent character a strong, clear motivation. Revealing exactly what the motivation is can be part of the mystery that sustains your story and keeps readers guessing why unsettling things keep happening.

If there’s a malevolent force in your horror novel, make their motivation similar in magnitude to the character’s actions. Readers will scoff if the creepy doll in your novel goes on a murderous rampage simply because somebody took out its batteries.

Use the Core Elements of Tragedy
Horror is best when it’s about tragedy in its most theatrical form. Tragedy is born through character flaws, bad choices, or grave missteps. In horror stories we get scared because, as readers, we see the signs foolhardy characters don’t.

In other words, to write a credible horror novel, you must show that the horror-filled situation is dependent on a network of character choices, past or present. At its heart, horror fiction reminds us that cause-and-effect is real, even in the fantastical realm of storytelling.

Tap Into Common Human Fears
Making readers scared creates tension and increases the pace of your story. Even so, there should be a reason for making them fearful. A terrifying situation should be central to the plot, and should be driven by some cause (even if the reader can only guess what the precise cause is).

If the point of horror writing is to arouse fear, shock or disgust, think of the things of which people are most commonly afraid.

For instance, here are some of the most common fears people have. Most relate to physical and/or mortal danger, but you can also draw on other common fears, such as humiliation, inadequacy or failure.

    Fear of animals (rabid dogs, snakes, sharks)
    Fear of flying
    Fear of the dark – one of the most fundamental fears
    Fear of heights
    Fear of other people, and their often unknown intentions
    Fear of ugly or disorienting environments

Think of how common fears can be evoked in your horror fiction. A less precise fear (such as the fear of certain spaces) will let you tell the horror story you want with fewer specified must-haves.

Terror vs Horror: Learn the Difference
To learn how to write horror novels, it’s useful to understand the difference between the two. Both have their place in horror writing.

Terror describes a state of feeling. Oxford Dictionaries simply define it as ‘extreme fear’. Horror, however, also suggests elements of disgust and surprise, or shock. Thus, the word ‘horror’ describes not only extreme fear but also revulsion and a sense of surprise.

Horror writers understand the difference between terror and horror. For Stephen King, terror is a feeling the author tries to evoke in the reader, before resorting to shock tactics such as surprising them with the extreme or unpleasant.

“I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll try to gross you out. I’m not proud.”

King’s quote suggests that if you can create terror in the reader before there’s even a gross-out moment or sickly reveal in your horror novel, you’re winning.

I succeeded once with BLOOD LAKE. I’m going to try to do it again.

Are you game to try?

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

On Saturday, October 21, 2017, I attended the Tenth Annual Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University. Once again, it was a spectacular day. I strongly encourage you to attend the next one, if you can.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, I was invited to participate in the Books & Authors Event at the eclectic lifestyle store, Leon & Lulu, in Clawson, Michigan. There should be another one in the spring, and I hope to see you there.

As a four-year student of Monteith College, the former honors college at Wayne State University, I was invited to attend a special celebration and recognition ceremony on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, honoring Monteith’s contributions to the WSU scholarly legacy. It was an interesting night. I’m glad I went.

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You’re invited to visit my website, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Visit my web site to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

**********

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


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