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.
After writing THE BARRED SOLDIER, I’ve taken a break from this blog because I have been busy with other upcoming projects. One of the dilemmas I face is having quite a few beloved manuscripts and figuring out with one to prep for the publishing process.
My current game plan is to send out a novella series which would be available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase for a low price. However, it is never fun for a reader to consume a story to not know the sequel’s release date—and perhaps it is months to years later. So I’m hoping to have the series ready to go, one novella after the other... with release dates closer to each other.
Your Blue-Collar Romance Novella Series will be:
(Close to a hundred pages each)
(Plastered with puns)
(With hotties, flirty banter, and swoon-worthy kisses.)
I love indie publishing. The tasks seem to never end, but to tick off each box on the long list is exhilarating. While revising the drafts, I’m organizing the advertising campaign, designing the art themes for the cover and content, learning about eBook formatting, and listening to you my readers.
When I need a break from writing, I am often reading books in the same genre to scope out the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that each work becomes more irresistible than the last. Also my husband has been working diligently every weekend on house renovations. Throw into the mix, our firstborn is entering the terrible twos (temper tantrums galore) and caring for our Christmas newborn, I am reminded I only have two hands in a twenty-four day. I love my family!
What I’m trying to say is... my blogs may be less frequent this summer. I am bummed that I probably won’t publish this summer as I had aimed to do so, but by then I hope to send out some teasers. In the meantime, check out my Pinterest boards and other online media. DM me, and of course...
PS: What is something you want to see, but haven’t in a blue-collar romance?
Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash
While I'm still debating which manuscript to publish next, this week I will be posting a short story related to the Aykotah/tribal universe in three segments. The Barred Soldier, written from Ridwiqu'Mar's perspective takes place before Fakusha's story (The Aykotah Daughter). What will this story be about? Well...
"Is it terrible to share a lifetime in want, hungry yet never satisfied?"
He's a social outcast: a harvester's son, with a questionable upbringing and she's a tribal princess forced into following the traditions of their people. Ridwiqu'Mar, Fakusha's best friend... and only that. Are his amateur swordsmanship skills enough to impress the king--her father? Destined for separate futures, what must a friend do to remain close, to be closer, to be more than friends?
Anyways, raising kids keeps my hands full. I'm blessed to have girls that love books, though sometimes I wonder how sane I am after reading The Cat in the Hat to my toddler a minimum of three times a day. So... if my future posts develop a strange rhythm and rhyme, you will now know why.
What is the difference between a good poem and a great one?
Seriously, how is Alligator Pie a renowned (Canadian) classic? Here I am reading it to my firstborn, confused as can be. Anyone can rhyme, but not everyone is Dr. Seuss. Not all poems are emotional either, but if they were... how could you judge?
Why do I bring this up? In one of my manuscripts the protagonist (Jamie) is an avid reader and poetry fanatic. He acknowledges he has no skill in the art itself yet tries anyways by consistently recording his thoughts in a poetry journal.
Recently I posted a short poem about the moose in our back yard...
"You won't have to search hard,
A visitor you see,
Right here in our backyard,
Beyond the apple tree."
I wasn’t aiming for gold with this caption. I was playing with rhyme. In school, I struggled with the poetry unit. I think it was because I couldn’t read the teacher’s mind. Since then, I have of course developed the ability to not only read minds, but convert them—not! Anyways, we would read poems but I would understand them only on a surface level. The poems I beloved seemed underrated. Writing poetry was worse. The ones I poured into—decent. The ones I wrote halfheartedly—appreciated.
Then we spent what seemed like forever studying literary devices, except while they are great in poems, they seem to become stumbling blocks in stories. Repetition comes across as redundant. Alliteration seems unfitting. Rhyme is interpreted as tacky, like the old geezer who shouldn’t rap but does.
Below is an excerpt of my novel manuscript, “Haunted.” In this scene, Jamie Rodgers is picking up his new girlfriend Sarah from work, even though he is madly in love with Natalia. Earlier in the story Sarah requested he write her a poem. (Changes are still to be made as this story is only a rough draft.)
“You know you don’t have to wait every time.” Sarah winks back. I shrug.
“I don’t mind. You’re worth the wait.” I murmur into her ear. Those are the exact words I want to tell Natalia. Because that is what it is these days isn’t it—a waiting game.
“Hey is that my poem?” Sarah asks, ripping my journal out of my hands. Eager, she reads it out loud,
“Sweet syrup rots the teeth,
It increases my heartbeat.
Coveting it to a festered defeat,
An endless cycle of highs and lows.
I’m high on her flavor.
Wishing for the love I’d savor…
My tongue scorns.
My throat filled with thorns.
My heart, the throbbing cavity.”
She closes the journal, placing it in the glove box. “I guess this makes me your sweetie.” She leans over for the first of many kisses. I smile through it. If only my situation wasn’t so sour.
So what are your thoughts? Does interpreting poetry come natural to you or are you in the same boat as me? What’s your favourite poem and why?
Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash
English is complicated. There are words in the English language that honestly make no sense. Take the word, “Once” as an example. By its spelling it should be pronounced, Won-Kuh, Won-see, On-see, On-ss, or On-Kuh. If anything, the word once should be spelled onece.
Forget the "I before E except after C" rule, because this language is littered with flaws. As a Canadian, the peaceful neighbouring stereotype that we are, we can’t even agree on whether or not to use the U like the British or forgo it like the Americans.
Is it doughnut or donut?
However, spell steal like steel and now you’ve committed a crime. (I’ve witnessed this one twice this month in published works.) Homophones, they’re those lovely little mistakes us writers can commonly make when we forget to differentiate sound with meaning. In an early draft of the Aykotah Daughter, my flowers had pedals not petals. Yes apparently car pedals were floating through the air when she met her betrothed Ni’guah guah.
What mishaps have you discovered while editing?