Category Archives: E. Tip of the Day

Actions Speaks Louder Than Words…Especially in Fiction

E.Tip of the Day: Everyone’s heard the expression, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Actions do speak louder, especially in fiction. Which scenes do you remember better from books you’ve read? Where characters are showing how they live their lives. Exploring, building, cleaning, fighting, saving someone’s life, or protecting their own, etc.

Scenes with action should draw the reader in, put them on the edge of their seat (if written correctly) and engage the reader with the story. Although inner thoughts and exposition is needed to show some details of the story, the actions of the characters will be –in most cases– more memorable in the reader’s mind. So, as you’re writing this week, think about what you’ve done in your life, and which actions you’ve taken to show what type of person you are personally. Then, take it those memories a step further with your writing. Show what your characters are doing, and what makes them stand out. Use the five senses to explore, and describe their actions.  And most of all, have fun with it! 🙂

Learning the Craft

E. Tip of the Day: Reading something outside the genre you normally read or write in is important to the writing craft. It keeps writers fresh and alert for new ideas. For instance, try reading the classic The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury if you normally write mystery or romance. Pay attention to how the words flow, the poetic way Bradbury weaves irony into the storyline, and how the story may be written so different from what you may normally write yourself. You may learn something new about the Science Fiction genre, and about your own writing!

Building a Local Readership

E. Tip of the Day: Having a successful writing career takes many different skills. Knowing how to market your novel(s) to a broad audience is one of the most important skills you need to be educated in. Contact us if you’re struggling to market your novel. We can help!

How to build local readership:

1.      Visit all book stores, libraries, schools, universities, craft fairs, and any other large gathering places in your area. Ask if you can do book signings.

2.      Send over-sized post cards out to libraries/book stores/businesses. Cross-market  especially with those businesses that may have an interest in displaying the theme of your novel. An example would be: Dorothy St. James writes the White House Gardener series and promotes the books in flower shops/greenhouses.

3.      Take out small print ads in community magazines/newsletters/musical programs. For instance, local ads in a school sport or music program. This is a great way to build local readership, and support the fine arts in your community.

4.      Ask your favorite local radio and TV stations to do an interview with you. Send them a short summary of your novel and an author bio. Tell them you are a fan of their show.

5.      Arrange to read a selection of your story or chapter 1 to high school students in English class, or in the library, with a Q & A session afterwards. Leave a signed copy of your novel with the person who helped you set up the event.

6.      Give out a free copy of your book for the holidays to three winners for gifts on your website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook page. Send the winners an autographed copy and a nice letter thanking them for entering the contest.

Good luck! If you’d like more tips on marketing, contact us at brittiany@writtendreams.com. Thanks!

Just Write…Anything

E.Tip of the Day: Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of concerns from writers about how hard it is for them to stay motivated to write. Having that urge to put forth great stories and strong characters continuously can be daunting at times. Asking for help can be even tougher. Writing is a lonely occupation after all. Or is it?

Yes, writing can be lonely but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re struggling with getting words on the page for a week or two, or more, let us know. We’ll help motivate you to getting the right words on the page again. That’s what we’re here for. That’s part of the reason Written Dreams was formed. 🙂

Motivation to some people can be a no-brainer. If you want to do something, than do it. Clear. Concise. And to the point. No complaining. No wondering. Task complete. Simple, right?

No, not quite. Writing is a craft, and with every craft comes the need for creativity. Without that creativity you end up having a flat, life-less story. But, what most writers don’t realize is it’s okay to have a little flatness. It’s okay to write something horrible. It’s okay to stay on the page typing random letters and numbers once in a while. And it’s okay to write something that you will toss out later. Because the important thing here really, is that you’re writing–whether it makes sense or not every day is not important. If you have to get through a few hours of writing a story of silly, random made-up words, you might look at the screen and think you’re nuts. You’re not nuts. Really, you’re not. And just the act of writing something unconventional will motivate you. Try it, and see. 🙂

If you’d like more info on our Coaching services, please see the Coaching Tab on our website under Services. We’re happy to help in any way we can with furthering your writing career! 🙂

 

Building Strong Characters

E. Tip of the Day: Why do readers enjoy learning about the characters we write about? Simple Answer: because they can relate to them. Each of us has our own individual battles we face every day, and escaping into a different world is far easier than facing our own battles some days.

What type of character do readers want to read about? A strong character. A believable character. A character they’ll want to trust and love. Someone who will inspire them, fight for what they believe in, and make them smile. Readers want a character they can cheer for. Someone they could enjoy a cup of coffee with at their kitchen table if that character was standing right in front of them.

So, what are you waiting for? Go write about a strong character that will sweep your readers off their feet!

Feel Grateful, Not Guilty to be a Writer

E. Tip of the Day: Time Management Skills With a Smile. Start your writing time happy to dig into the character’s lives. Not to get away from your own life, but to create something really beautiful.

In today’s world we have so many things pulling us in different directions.  Sometimes time alone can make us feel guilty for not spending time with our families, friends, or doing those things that we keep putting off. To spend any time pampering yourself, or doing something selfish like writing for hours at a time seems selfish.

Well, writing is selfish, isn’t it? But it’s also this wonderful gift so few people have the talent to do. It’s something so many people wish they could do. So, instead of feeling guilty, dear writer, start feeling grateful.

Don’t get upset with yourself for taking this time to write. YOU deserve it. You’ve worked hard to get to where you’re at, and it’s okay to take a few hours for yourself and write. Relax. Smile. Feel excited that YOU are a writer. Don’t beat yourself up when you only have 10 words on the page after an hour. It’s okay. That happens. Instead of beating yourself up, believe in yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you deserve this career. You are determined to finish the writing project you are working on, and IT WILL NOT BEAT YOU. You can do this!

It’s important to me to keep a positive attitude. Every day I wake up with a smile on my face so excited to start the day’s work. I love being an editor. It is a pure joy for me to have this career, and to have the opportunity to work with so many talented writers. To me, every day is a blessing. I admit I’m not happy every minute of every day (I have three teenagers after all!), but I try to be. 🙂

It’s one of the things I see daily in my husband; his positive attitude is simply amazing. No matter how much pain he’s in, or what worries he has on his plate, he always remains positive. Doom and gloom is not part of his vocabulary. Doom and gloom only makes you feel worse anyway. And who wants that? Being happy, grateful to be the writer you are, will make the day go faster. You won’t be dreading having to write the next word on the page. You’ll be looking forward to it!    🙂

Vague Descriptions

E. Tip of the Day:  It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Vague descriptions? Yet we see them all the time in some of the manuscripts we review here at Written Dreams.  What the author is really doing is telling the story to the reader instead of showing what is happening to the characters. What the reader reads is a vague description that doesn’t really say much of anything at all, takes them out of the story, and frustrates the  heck out of them.

The reader can’t see what the author is seeing inside their head, so instead the reader finds something else to do with their time. Reading that book is not one of their options.

So, as an author how do you fix this? How do you learn to show the emotion and tension of your story without telling it? How do your recognize when you are telling instead of showing?

One way to see the vague descriptions is by reading the story back to yourself aloud. We’ve talked about this before and doing this yourself as a writer is an invaluable tool. (You’ll have to put the story down for a few days to distance yourself first so you’re reading it with fresh eyes.) When reading aloud, you won’t be able to feel the emotion that the characters should be feeling at that given moment. You know the emotion that you had thought you had written into the story? Instead, the characters may feel hollow or wooden, and not really alive. Just partly alive–like a walking zombie. 🙂 If you’re writing a zombie book, this might be a good outcome. If you’re not writing about zombies, then you may want to go back and revise to show more emotion and tension.

When showing the emotion, put effort into the words and be creative. Really get inside the heads of your characters and become them. Learn their habits, hobbies, and skills. Learn their vocabulary. Do they like to complain about the referees when watching football (my dad is famous for this 🙂 or do they sit back and enjoy the game? Once you get the hang of it, it will actually be easier showing than it is telling. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Don’t give up! You’ll get there. Just keep working on putting down those words with emotion.  🙂

Cursing Up a Storm

E. Tip of the Day: Vulgar Language—Is it needed or not?

It goes back to growing up as a child, being told you’re acting disrespectful to Gramma by swearing in front of her. Then, being threatened by Gramma that she’ll wash your mouth out with soap if you continue to use those strong–and very wrong–words. Gramma obviously doesn’t like swearing.

But in today’s society where most curse words are accepted as part of the regular vocabulary on TV and radio, it seems okay to use those words as part of the dialogue in a novel. But is it really okay for characters to swear on screen in dialogue? Ask these questions of yourself to help determine the answer for your particular writing style.

1) Do you feel uncomfortable as a writer having your character swear on screen? Does it go against your own personal beliefs? (If the answer to this question is “yes,” don’t do it. It’s that simple. You should feel comfortable with your own writing.)

2) Is cursing something your character–if they were alive and well in real life–would really do? (If the answer to this question is “no,” and you’d still like it in your dialogue, then you need to figure out why it’s really important to you. Also, make sure it is properly set up why your character does let loose and swear so it doesn’t push the suspension of disbelief for that particular character if they normally don’t swear.)

3) Does it fit within the general guidelines of the sub-genre you’re writing in to use curse words in your novel? (If “no,” then why are doing it? For controversial reasons?)

4) Are you using curse words to add tension to the scene sprinkled in here and there? (This is one of the purposes of using curse words in dialogue. If “no,” then why are you doing it?)

5) Do you think your readers will be offended by reading curse words in your story? (If “yes” then don’t take the risk of alienating your readers. After all, having a large readership is what you’re working for.)

It’s important to review whether or not it’s really important for your characters to swear in your story. Excessive overuse of any curse word is unnecessary and poorly translates to the page. If you have further questions about your novel and the use of curse words within it, contact us for a consultation. Our editors would be happy to help you!

Happy Writing! 🙂

Less Distractions, More Writing

E. Tip of the Day: Less distractions, more writing.

As we ease into the weekend, it’s easy to get caught in all the things that distract us from writing. Stay your course and remember your goals. Use an egg timer to keep yourself focused on writing during short productive increments of time where you can shut out the real world. Short bursts of focused energy are better than long, constantly interrupted hours of barely writing a word.

Other things to try:

1) Let your family know that from “this time to this time” you need to be left alone to write. Then, do your best to keep your promise when you are scheduled to come up for air. If you hit a place where the creative juices are really flowing, have a piece of paper you can quickly put outside your door that says “Creative Mind at Work, Please Be Patient” without interrupting your thought process, or having them storm in to interrupt you.

2) Have set hours/days when you do housework, cook, or run errands. Make a point to keeping with the same schedule. Physical chores are great times to brainstorm so have an open-mind when you’re pulled away from your story.

3) Role-playing is a fun way to involve family/friends into your story. If there’s a scene where two people are walking on a trail, and you know you need to show more sensory details in the scene to make it believable, ask a friend to tag a long on your walk. You’ll get exercise and you may be inspired, too! 🙂

If you have tips on how you stay focused on your writing, let us know. Good luck!

 

Inspirational Photo of the Week:

Kitty, what has your attention now?

Creative Choices

E. Tip of the Day: Try to avoid using the same word twice in one sentence, or in the same paragraph, if possible. Be creative in your word choices, especially when using verbs.

Example A: She walked to the store and then walked home.

Revision: Sarah went to the store to pick up the needed items to make brownies, then completing her task walked home.

With the revision, it’s much easier for the reader to visualize what the character is doing. The reader doesn’t need to see the inside of the grocery store unless it’s integral to the plot.

Example B: He drove to work, stepping on the gas to get there on time. When he parked, he stepped out of the truck and went up the steps.

Revision: Michael slid into his 4X4 truck, put the vehicle in gear and stepped on the gas. He was late for work again. Speeding through traffic, he was in the parking lot of his office in no time. Jumping out of the truck, he ran up the stairs to the large glass doors of the building adjusting his tie before going inside.

The revision gives the reader a sense of who the character is by showing the details of his day. He was late for work. How did he react? Instead of calling to say he was running late, he sped to work. He’s a character willing to take a risk, but not too great a risk to jeopardize his job.

There also isn’t any redundancy of verbs so the reader isn’t bored. Instead, they are constantly learning about Michael’s character.

Happy Revising!