Congratulations to Steve Buechler!
Why do we need to describe our characters? Because we do not want them running around invisible and naked within the pages of our story. We need strong multi-dimensional characters that readers can empathize with. As humans, we are not one-sided stick people. It is our desire to create characters in our own image, so why not make them all diverse individuals.
Ways to create and build your characters:
Exercise: Think about someone you love. Now, think about their strengths and weaknesses, phrases they always say, ways they can make you laugh or cry. Now, write down 4 unique things about that person and be sure to include one of each of the following—personality trait, physical trait, dialogue phrase, and a dialogue tag.
Remember, strong characters can carry a strong plot. Strong characters can carry a weak plot, but weak characters cannot carry any plot.
Copyright (C) 2018 by Written Dreams, LLC.
If dialogue is written well, it can move the story forward while fleshing out your characters. It is meant to be used as a break for readers from reading long passages of narrative and add description to the scenes in a different way than narrative prose.
These words are transparent to the reader, meaning the reader can move along in the story without seeing these words. Said and asked, especially, don’t stop a reader.
Copyright (C) 2018 by Written Dreams, LLC.
“Read. Don’t chase trends. Read. Set a daily word count goal. Read. Anything “writerly” counts as working. Critique partners help IF they’re good.”
—Terry Odell, Award-winning author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series
Passive Words to Avoid
Adverbs: All words ending in “ly” —quietly, softly, energetically, etc.
Always: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something always happens.
Like: Any phrase beginning with like is most times telling the reader instead of showing them.
Just: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something just happens on occasion. Be careful, though, that a lot of things just don’t happen.
Only: Unless using it in dialogue or with emphasis that something only happens on occasion.
Pretty: Unless using it correctly in reference to something being beautiful.
Seem: Every form of it—seemingly, seemed, seems.
Passive Words to Use on Occasion
Even: There are times this word is necessary, however, reread the sentence to see if you can rephrase it.
Saidisms: Stated, commented, argued, etc. Use said and ask for transparent dialogue tags.
That: There are times that can be deleted out of the sentence and times it’s needed for the sentence to work. Read the sentence out loud if you’re unsure if it’s needed. 80% of the word that can be deleted in a manuscript.
Which: Be sure you know when to use that and when to use which. These are words misused on a frequent basis.
Every writer has a few words (adverbs/verbs/adjectives/phrases) they use A LOT. Search your manuscript for words that appear frequently in it, and see if you can 1) replace it with a synonym, or 2) delete it altogether in every sentence. You may have several crutch words. If you have more than 20 uses in your manuscript, it could be 18 uses too many.
Challenge: See if you can delete all of these words from your writing vocabulary.
Copyright (C) 2016 by Written Dreams, LLC.
We asked Nathan Hopp to give us some feedback on writing book reviews. He started the Reader’s Boulevard Review Blog a few years ago, and has a few thoughts on how to write a fair review. Enjoy!
Everyone likes to be a critic.
It’s a truth as real as the beliefs we carry. As a critic you feel entitled to judge everything in either an analytical or enjoyable outlook. You’re giving your opinion on someone’s work, which has changed and evolved over time. In this digital age of social media, blockbuster films, and the Internet, more people prefer visual entertainment over the written word. Therefore, it can often be a challenge to review a random book in an honest, constructive manner. Personally, I like to judge a novel on its most basic objective that anyone can agree on: if it can entertain while leaving an impact.
Now this single objective isn’t black and white. There are dozens of books that can inspire without having good plot, characters, etc. or even vice-versa. When reviewing a book, I dislike judging it with the mindset that it is a masterpiece. No novel is perfect, and no novel will appeal to every single person on the planet, so I keep an open mind on the targeted demographics it’s likely aimed for. If you’re usually a contemporary reader but not a fan of historical fiction, don’t negatively judge it solely because you aren’t fond of the genre. Everyone has different tastes, so a reviewer shouldn’t hate something solely because it isn’t a genre or type of story catered for them.
For me, I can read almost anything, whether it be contemporary, young adult, fantasy, historical, or hardcore sci-fi. However, my favorite kind of novel is the one that has a plot where you don’t know where it’s going. It has memorable characters with personalities that keep you engaged (especially if the story’s tied to their struggles), a setting fascinating enough to explore if they existed, writing crisp and fluent enough to make you feel like you’re experiencing what’s happening on the pages, and a villain you love to hate or even sympathize with.
Like I said though, this can go either way in books. One could have a fantastic plot and bland characters while another might have an incredibly complex villain and a weak setting, maybe even vice-versa with any of these varieties. It’s all subjective in the eyes of the reviewer, and it’s not a bad thing to hold in regard. Listen to others’ opinions, whether they be the reader, the critic, or even the author themselves. In the same way anyone can be a critic, so can anyone have the privilege to decide what makes a book entertaining.
About the Author:
Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1996, Nathan Hopp grew up the oldest of three rambunctious brothers. As a child, he inherited his love for literature from his mother and his love for science fiction/fantasy from his father. He has been a dedicated bookworm since grade school, reading through corny romance novels one hour to an entire Young Adult series in less than a week. In high school, Nathan’s interest grew into writing, eventually leading him to haikus, short stories, vignettes, and novels. Currently attending UW-Eau Claire as an English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing, Nathan spends most of his free time as an avid participant in the furry fandom, surviving one semester at a time, and running a review blog. Learn more about Nathan and his book on social media: Facebook.com/NathanWHopp or at Twitter.com/HoppNate.
Family fights for family. That’s what Max Ryan believed and what she stood for. So how come in this new world, it’s not the easiest thing to do? If Max Ryan doesn’t act fast, living in an unfamiliar world could kill her.
After a series of nuclear power plant explosions seventy years ago, it caused the end of all civilization. Humanity is extinguished, except for the few that manage to escape to a bunker below the surface built to survive a nuclear war.
Throughout the years, these people create a community known as the Burrow within the bunker, but lifespans are shorter than what they were on the surface. The community is dying with lessening food supplies and unreliable water sources. The governing officials of the United Assembly handpicks a select few to travel to North America to find habitable land.
Max Ryan, along with her twin brother, Jax Ryan, are selected for the team. Together, they discover a place far beyond their dreams. However, it’s soon revealed to them that not all dreams are what they expect; sometimes it can be a nightmare.
Thank you to D.A. Kori Prier, author of Colorado Drift for writing this blog. In a conversation between two writers who are discussing Writer’s Block, one writer realizes how they have to change. One writer is a “plotter” (someone who outlines and organizes their manuscript before/during the writing process) and the other writer is a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants). Both paths work, but sometimes, you need to change your process for a certain manuscript in order to get past a block.
Wow, so you’re a writer huh?
I’m writing too, but I’m in a funk.
Yeah, why’s that?
I’m stuck. I’ve got Writer’s Block. So, you ever get blocked?
Really, how do you keep from losing your train of thought?
What do you mean? How do you prepare?
Well, first I do a shovel full of research on my topic.
So, you research everything?
Not quite everything, but most of the story’s plot.
Then what do you do?
Well, I organize the research into an order that formulates into my plot.
Yep. Then I write an outline of the story with all the parts (research and ideas) flowing through my diagram. This way, I know where my story is going and what I have to write next. I can always adjust the outline if something doesn’t fit or if I come up with a brilliant idea.
And this works for you?
Would it work for me, too?
Yep, but you have to be disciplined and do the research, organize your thoughts, and outline your plot.
It sounds like a lot of work.
It is, but it keeps my creative processes juiced and always flowing. Besides, how long have you had your Writer’s Block?
A couple of weeks now.
Well, in two weeks you could have done most or all of your research and developed an outline.
I see your point. I think I need to start doing a better job than just writing from the top of my head.
Good for you.
We all get stuck once in a while. Here are a few things you can try to help yourself get out of Writer’s Block.
D.A. Kori Prier was born and grew up in the two-mile high town of Leadville, Colorado. Now retired, he lives in Northern California with his wife, Snuz. Colorado Drift is the first book of a new series. Mr. Prier’s extensive knowledge of the mountainous geography lends credibility to the story and makes the adventure feel real and possible. Kori and Snuz enjoy traveling with their three four-legged girls: Becca, Tessa, and Bella.
Colorado Drift takes the reader on a snowy, modernistic science fiction adventure inside a Rocky Mountain avalanche.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends who may find it useful. Thank you!
Sometimes we need to look back at where we’ve been to move forward in life and in our hearts. Here’s an excerpt from Carolyn Redman’s News from Lake Boobbegone: A Breast Cancer Memoir from the Heart which became a #1 New Release in April 2017.
So, these are the top ten things I’ve had to let go of this year: (1) my left breast, (2) 15 lymph nodes, (3) all of my hair, (4) my immune system, (5) my idea of beauty, (6) the illusion of control, (7) cocktails, (8) a plethora of tears, (9) a few extra pounds, and (10) wondering why me.
My last radiation treatment, or as I liked to euphemistically call it, “light therapy,” took place on November 10th. But even weeks after the treatment ended, radiation had left me looking and feeling like I’d been microwaved on high for far too long. Next to the mother of all sunburns, the emotional fatigue of daily treatments was probably the worst of it. I had been living “cancerously” for nearly a year now, and it had taken all of my resolve. Unlike chemo, I had to face radiation therapy on my own. No one could go with me, hold my hand, or sit by my side and distract me from these treatments. I had to dig deep and find even more strength I wasn’t sure I could muster.
The “mean wells,” my term for people who say dumb stuff unintentionally, keep reminding me how great things will be once I get back to normal. I don’t see how that is even remotely possible. I am missing a body part, have been infused with drugs potent enough to damage my heart and make my hair fall out, have been microwaved on high for 30 consecutive days, and as an added bonus have been chemically catapulted into menopause. And those are just the physical ramifications. Mix in equal parts anxiety, fear, and sadness, and the cancer train I’ve been on misses all the normal stops. What a disappointment and missed opportunity it would be if, after all of this, I turned out to be the exact same person I was before I was diagnosed.
I can’t quite go as far as to say that I am grateful I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but I can say that I am grateful for all of the realizations that have resulted because of it. I was given the opportunity to tap into a reservoir of courage I didn’t even know existed. I witnessed people at their best as they surrounded me with their clinical, surgical, and scientific expertise, genuine concern, humor, compassion, energy, and love. The word friendship took on a whole new meaning with each chemo sitter who took time out of her busy life to sit with me for hours on end. And I found out that my marriage was indeed for better or worse.
This Thanksgiving would be like no other because I finally understood the importance and power of gratitude. I had gained far more than I had lost this year and for that I was extremely grateful.
News from Lake Boobbegone by Carolyn Redman, copyright (C) 2017 by Carolyn Redman.
A few tips from Bruce Kirkpatrick on being a member of a writer’s group.
I’m a member of four groups and each works differently. Here’s what I’ve learned about writer’s groups and if you are a writer, why you may want be a part of one.
Both new and seasoned writers are often members of writer’s groups. No hard and fast rules exist about how they work, but a few tips to get the most out of them might help.
Groups can meet in person or online. They can require that members trade “chapters” or work beforehand—or not. They can read aloud or simply offer critique in the written form. They can be full of published authors or those just getting started.
That said, in my experience, writing groups have little knowledge about getting published. They are all about the writing. My groups don’t include many published authors, so the how-to-write-for-publication is a glaring hole. Most writers will do better reading the books about writing—Stein, Gorkin, Browne & King, George—than trusting inexperienced writers.
But you have to start someplace and a writing group will force you to write, edit, and receive feedback. If you’re a beginning writer or want to write for your own pleasure, it’s a good place to start.
Bruce Kirkpatrick is the author of Hard Left and Lumberjack Jesus. He is currently working on several different writing projects. To learn more about Bruce and his books, you can visit: http://www.bkirkpatrick.com/about/
At Written Dreams, we believe writers who take part of writer’s groups can be very successful. We will often suggest joining the local chapters to new writers because we believe in the benefits. Here in Green Bay, WI, we’re lucky to have a few groups that meet locally. If you’re looking for a writer’s group in your area, here’s a few associations you can start your search with, depending on the genre you write in: RWA-Romance Writers of America, HWA-Horror Writers of America, SFWA-Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, CWG-The Children’s Writer’s Guild, NAMW-National Association of Memoir Writers, and many more!