So you want to improve your writing, but you need a break from the how-to books? Great, because stories aren’t only found in books! Here’s five ways of the many ways you can learn how to create an entertaining story.
1. Watch movie reviews
There’s always going to be haters. Therefore, diversify your sources, especially those who base their review off a set standard. Why do people admire that movie? Where did it fail? Find what audiences love and hate in stories. Also notice the difference between a good and bad montage, or how the universal theme of the story is carried through the entirety of the film versus events being thrown at the character.
2. Study body language
Unlike ‘people-watching’ which is merely observing how humans interact with someone who isn’t you, reading up or watching videos on charisma will make your characters relatable and interesting. Though we can’t read gestures simultaneously with dialogue in books like we can in reality, by accurately applying expressions you will be able to convey a message to the reader the character is unaware of. For example, the male lead may be standing in a line up. He will say to himself she’s cute but not interested; however if he persistently checks over his shoulder he’s either paranoid or lying to himself, searching for a means to strike up a conversation. It is crucial to understand why your characters do what they do, whether or not their words agree.
3. Read children’s books
Because I have babes at home, I’m constantly reading children’s stories out loud impersonating the characters by attempting new voices. If someone read your story, how would they personify them? Some have one word per page with others are multi-paragraph. They don’t always have rhyme and rhythm but they convey stories in limited words. Apply this to your writing. Omit unnecessary words and ideas. Sometimes I paraphrase their books for this reason. If it doesn’t push the story forward or add to character development, put it aside. No one likes a story dragged out. Why should your audience read those sentences if they don’t have to?
4. Listen to music (from a variety of artists and genres)
Musicians pour their heart into their music. With few words they relate to you while sharing their story and the emotions with it. For example, many church-going Christians may tune out a structured in depth theologically sermon, while being completely moved by the latest song. How can a three minute song surpass a thirty to sixty minute presentation? It wasn’t until the last century we replaced quoting poetry for humming song lyrics—even tattooing them on our bodies. What do you quote more: poetry/scripture or songs?
5. Participate in theater
Creating skits or throwing jokes to an audience through the means of ‘improv’ will spike your creative juices. Or if you partake in a scripted performance, note how the dialogue carries the story. Each line brings us to a closer understanding of the characters, carries the story forward, and is exciting. If the dialogue in your story is boring... off with its head! The good news is you don’t need to audition for Broadway—even a little reader’s theater goes a long way.
Obviously, there are more methods to diversify and improve your writing. Overall, here’s the take-home. Your goal in fiction writing is to entertain. You have a story? Neat. Do you make money? Cool. Feel like you have to convert people to your ideology? Gross—don’t be that person. Remember to listen to your audience, your beta readers, and your close ones’ critiques, because at the end of the day, you’ve shared your story for them... not yourself.
You can trust me because I’ve had two kids, so now I’m clearly an expert. Okay all you moms with a flock around you, hardee-har-har. Yeah, I have much to learn... but let me have my moment of fame, yeah? My nine months are over, thank goodness! (And yeah, my second girl was born on Jesus’ birthday. I didn’t see them angels singing for her arrival now did I?) I may be sleep deprived, but yay I finally have my body back. Anyways, with that redundant update over... here it is: My Top 5 Facts for the New Mom.
1. Maternity Pants are overrated.
No seriously, they’re glorified leggings. FACT! Yes that elastic band is comfortable but the fabric was not meant for a woman’s body. They lack pockets and the material was far too thin. (There’s this thing called winter, and it’s freaking cold!) Literally, it’s wear and tear. Simply having bigger clothes like looser jeans will benefit the new mom before and after birth. And don’t worry, you had a baby... that’s proof your man thinks you’re hot stuff—so don’t sweat it and go for the sweats for a while.
2. Not everyone can breastfeed.
It’s worth a try and it will help you recover. But put your baby on the weighing scale often and listen to your healthcare professionals. The milk is free, comforting, and full of antibodies, but it’s not much help if it’s simply not there. Don’t let pride starve your child. Formula is bloody expensive. The cheap stuff is all filler—then there’s the bottles. Just do what you got to do so they get what they need.
3.The amount of ultrasounds you have will vary.
Depending on the child’s health and your health or anything concerning either, you may have more or less than two three visits with the sonographer. And yes, follow their instructions and drink the water! Some pregnancies require multiple tests, others few. Information is your doctor’s friend.
4. Birth is not entirely free.
In British Columbia, while most medical services are free to Canadian citizens there are few exceptions. Since circumcision is optional for traditional practices and not necessary for the child’s well-being, the parent would be billed. There is a small fee for the birth certificate.
Immunizations are free including the flu shot. The dental screening is free too. (This is awesome because they help you with brushing techniques, search for decay, and provide a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel.) BC Health even offer to check the infant’s hearing, again for free. After the child is born, a mother is given the option for a nurse to visit to check on the health of both baby and parent.
5. You will see a new side to your community.
Where I live, the pregnancy outreach centre downtown is where mothers can pause from their errands to nurse their child, find supplies like baby clothes or gear, and be educated by various experts. Child Development Centres are another incredible hub for connecting with other parents, children, and resources. By signing up for their newsletters, they will inform a parent on neat opportunities fit for the child’s needs and sponsored events bringing fun to the whole family. Extra hands make light work. I was blessed by my local church when they planned and hosted an open baby shower for us, saving us hundreds on clothes and supplies, and offering renown tips.
In summary, adding a child to your family is going to raise costs. But one might be lucky in saving big costs by breastfeeding, using cloth diapers, accepting hand-me-down clothes, and borrowing baby gear and toys. Even if your child is healthy, take advantage of the help others are willing to give you.
Photo credit: Dakota Corbin on Unsplash
In no particular order and with the year coming to an end, here are my top 5 romance novel recommendations of this year. All these books are available through Amazon Kindle Unlimited which I am in love with. Perhaps in the future, I’ll publish some novellas straight to it so you the reader will have more free reads to enjoy.
1. The Draughtsman Damsel
by Emily Klein
I’m not usually one for Medieval or historical timelines, but readers out there should make an exception for this story. After watching Quest for Camelot with my daughter, I wanted to read the book it was based on, finding this instead. I was not disappointed. And the research that went into this, wow! This novel has a unique take for the intellectual reader and an incredible finale.
2. Calling Love (Modern Conveniences Book 2)
by Leah Atwood
I love a good blue collar romance. Leah’s works tend to have a calm pace to them, and this came at a time where I was becoming sick of predictable white-collar metropolis city romances stories. Archer was a charming character especially towards the care of his ill grandmother, and I’m glad he shows up in more of Leah's books.
3. Ninja Girl
by Cookie O’Gorman
For a story with plenty diverse characters, I enjoyed meeting them all secretly wishing this was a series so they could return. This fun book contains (trying not to spoil anything...) exciting fight sequences, a karaoke bar with marshmallow fluff on tap, and a sports car with a slick paint job. (Cookie knows her stuff!) Yet another YA novel where the parents are involved in their children’s lives and it benefits the story.
4. It Was Always You (Ridgewater High Romance Book 3)
by Judy Corry
If I’m honest... the whole Ridgewater series really. I went on a Judy Corry reading binge this winter and did not regret it. In the third book of her series though, addressing youth homelessness and redeeming a character that I in an earlier book labelled a jerk... well done.
5. Rule #1: You Can’t Date the Coach’s Daughter
by Anne-Marie Meyer
I think what makes this such an adorable high school romance story is not only the events between the main couple, but the relationship the protagonist has with her strict father. Also how the lovers weren’t trying to be together maliciously out of angst for the set rule, yet hoped to prevent drama at any cost.