Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

20180426_104646

Today is the second Thursday of the month, and if you were here last month at this time, you know that it is time for a writing prompt. This time I have decided to use the photo above as the prompt for this month, in hopes that it will inspire more of you to write something and share with us.

Now here are the rules for participating in my monthly writing prompt:
1) You may write in any genre.
2) Keep it clean — no explicit sex or erotica, no stories that attack a person or group of
     people. Minimal use of profanity and violence is okay.
3) If you are a nonfiction writer and want to participate, I welcome you, but you must
     use the suggested prompt.
4) All stories must be a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 1500 words. (This rule
     may change as participation grows).
I reserve the right not to post any story that doesn’t include/use the writing prompt as well as any story that breaks the second rule.
Here are a couple options for sharing, which I strongly encourage for two reasons — I want to know that people are participating, and I want to read what you write, as I am sure others will as well.
So sharing options:
1) 100 — 300 words, please post these stories in the comments section of this post
2) 301 — 1500 words, please email to me at cre8tiveme07@gmail.com
The reason for the options is that short stories, like the first option, can easily be shared and read in the comments section. Longer stories like the second option, I will post in a special Saturday post simply due to their length.
One of my readers suggested that my deadline be longer to allow writers to ponder longer and not feel stressed by a tight deadline. It was a great suggestion, especially since we have another month before the next writing prompt and the long stories post on a Saturday. So, I hope more of you will participate, and I look forward to reading your creative works.
Deadline for stories for today’s prompt will be next Friday, July 17, 2020.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

you-can-never-get-a-cup-of-tea-large-enough-or-a-book-long-enough-to-suit-me-quote-1

This week I will talk about “the importance of reading, for a writer” and “should a writer read only books in their genre”? This topic was suggested by Christine Wachter. Thank you, Chris, for this suggestion.

I have heard a lot of talk about this subject, and I am actually quite surprised at the first part of the question: is it important for a writer to be a reader?

I recently saw this question posted on Twitter and read the long list of comments to see what people were saying. Most people said, “Yes, it is important for a writer to be a reader.” However, I was surprised at the number of people who didn’t think it necessary for a writer to be a reader.

Personally, I believe it is necessary for a writer to be a reader for several reasons:
1) reading other author’s works can help us to learn what to do as well as what
not to do; what works and what doesn’t.
2) reading can inspire us and give us ideas for our own stories.
3) reading other author’s works introduces us to other writing voices.
4) reading expands our vocabulary.
5) when you read, you naturally discover and learn many of the technical aspects of writing.

Now, let’s look at the second part of the question: should writers read only books in their own genre? I have been told, ever since I became a part of the writing world, that it is necessary to read lots of books in my genre. However, I was never told I should read only books in my genre.

Other writers and writing instructors will tell you to read lots of books in your genre for the following reasons:
1) reading lots of books in your own genre will help you learn what to do or
not to do; what works and what doesn’t in your genre.
2) reading lots of books in your own genre will give you a good idea of what’s
already out there, which will let you know if your idea is new and original
or if it’s been done before. If it’s been done before, you will want to find
a new way to present or approach it so that it isn’t “just like someone
else’s”. One of the questions a publisher or agent wants to see addressed in
your query or proposal is “how is your story different than the others that
are already out there in the same genre”.

I can tell you that I have been an avid reader ever since I learned how to read. I was one of those kids who read everything that had print on it for a long time. Over the years, I remained an avid reader, and I read lots of different genres. I write historical romance. However, I read any romance genre as long as it’s clean. I also read fantasy, mystery, suspense, crime novels — just about anything except sci-fi, horror, and erotica. I also do not read graphic novels or manga. The genres I choose not to read, I do not read based on my personal preferences. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys every genre out there.

So, my suggestion is — yes, read lots of books in your genre, but read books in other genres you enjoy as well.

What about the rest of you — What have you been told? What do you think? What do you read? Leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below and join the conversation. I respond to every comment.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Comments, and Questions about Writing

My Hand 008

Today I will be talking about character motivation, a topic suggested by one of my readers, Ann Harrison-Barnes who is also an author. Thank you for the suggestion, Ann.

Character motivation is important to any story. It is what drives your character to set goals and to take action. It is the reason why he or she behaves the way that they do.

Your character’s motivations come from their deepest needs and desires.  Your character’s motivations also create emotional connections with your readers. If you can put your readers in your character’s shoes, they will definitely keep turning pages.

I believe it is important to determine your character’s motivations before you begin writing your story. Determining your character’s motivations should be done while you are determining and writing their back story because their motivation might be caused by something from their back story.

It is important to know your characters inside and out, which is why you need to create back stories for your characters. (We’ll talk about back story here on July 9th.)

Your character’s motivations will be determined the choices they make and whether they will be a good guy or a bad guy.

A character’s motivation is often caused by something they are dissatisfied with in their life or something they feel is missing from their life.

There are two kinds of motivation: external and internal.

External motivations are physical. Some examples include: physical needs — food, clothing, water, shelter; protection from an enemy or abuser; rescuing a family member or the love of their life from someone or something that poses a threat; surviving a natural disaster, etc.

Internal motivations happen within a character. These things may effect a character’s mindset, beliefs, or emotions. These things can be caused by a need for personal fulfillment — examples: to find love or friendship; to seek vengeance for a wrong done to themselves or someone they love (movie examples of this would be the “Die Hard” series where Bruce Willis’s character must save his wife’s life in one movie and his daughter’s life in another or the “Taken” series where Liam Neeson’s character must rescue his daughters from sex-slave traffickers in the first movie, and try to escape the men who have taken him and his wife as hostages in Istanbul in the second movie); to achieve their life’s passion, etc.

These could also be caused by fear or peer pressure — examples: To fit in with their peers or the “popular” crowd; to live up to family or societal expectations, etc.

These could also be caused by curiosity — examples: to solve a problem; to learn something new; to explore a new adventure — to go on an adventure, etc.

These things could also be caused by guilt or insecurity — examples: to gain self-confidence; to right a wrong they have done to someone; to overcome a bad habit, etc.

While determining your character’s motivations, you should consider asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How is my character dissatisfied with life?
  2. What events led my character to become dissatisfied in this way? Was it their upbringing? A bad life choice? The result of a specific relationship?
  3. What has kept my character from taking action to overcome this dissatisfaction? Money, time, fear, expectation, or something else? (A good movie example of this would be “It’s a Wonderful Life”, when George doesn’t get out of Bedford Falls to follow his dream because he feels an obligation to his family and his family’s business).
  4. What will finally push my character to action? In what situation would the risks of inaction outweigh the risks of action?
  5. What does my character’s motivation reveal about who they are? What does it say about their personality, back story, fears, desires, world views?
  6. Have other characters in my story experienced the same source of motivation? If so, what actions have they taken? Do their actions differ from those of my main character, and if so, what does that reveal?
  7. How might my character’s motivations change throughout the story? What will my characters learn as they achieve their goal? Will grow as people or fall victim to doubt or fear? Will this change alter their actions in my story?

Your character’s motivation can create tension in your story. You need to understand why your character needs to achieve their goal and what will happen if they don’t. Your character needs a strong reason to take action — strong enough that they will face their biggest fears, doubts, and insecurities.

Whether they succeed or fail, your character’s motivations will drive the events of the story and your character will grow and change throughout your story.

Your character’s motivations must engage your readers and keep your plot moving forward.

I got a lot of this information from this blog. It included a reference to “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.

I would have liked to use my notes from a workshop I attended at a writer’s conference several years ago on this subject, but was unable to locate them, but the author who taught that workshop asked us what the main character’s motivation is in our WIP (work in progress), and if he didn’t think our answer was specific enough, he made us dig deeper to get to the root of the motivation. That’s why I stress the need for creating your character’s back story in before determining their motivations.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and questions in the comments sections below. I always respond to all thoughts, comments, and questions.

 

 

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

sergey-zolkin-_UeY8aTI6d0-unsplash

(This is a photo I previously used from Unsplash, and I apologize that I cannot find the name of the photographer who donated it this time, but I am thankful for the wonderful photographers who donate their great work on Unsplash so that I have a great place to find images to use with my blog posts.)

 

The Importance of a Good Editor

Sadly, no one responded to my plea for a topic for today, so I have had to decide what to post on. I hope that means you all find my topics helpful, but I really would love for you to let me know some writing topics you would like to see me cover because my hope is to really make this blog a place for me to interact with other writers, as well as readers, especially those who enjoy reading my writing, so that we can stay connected as I begin publishing my books.

So, today’s topic is in regard to editing. How many of you get distracted when you are reading a book and you suddenly come across errors in the writing, such as grammar, spelling, wrong word choice, confusing wording, etc? What about a problem in something like a mistake in a character’s name or description, the pace suddenly slowing to a degree where you find yourself losing interest, a mistake in the timeline, etc.?

If you’re anything like me, these errors aren’t just distracting. I also find them frustrating, especially if they occur frequently throughout the book, and I begin to wonder if the writer had an editor take a look at their completed manuscript before publishing it.

Most of the books I find that have the most errors are those that have been self-published. However, I also find errors, though not nearly as many, in traditionally published books.

As a reader, I have been tempted to stop reading a few books because the errors were so prevalent.

As a book reviewer, I find it extremely difficult to give a book with a lot of errors a four or five star rating. It may be a story that has a great plot and some wonderfully engaging and well-developed characters, but the errors make it quite unpleasant to read.

So writers, take my advice. I know a good editor costs a good chunk of money, but, in the long run, they are well worth their cost, especially if you want to publish the best possible story you can, and if you truly value good book reviews–and we, writers, all know how important those are to our future books if we want to keep readers.

I can hear some of you now: “Well, I go over my manuscript three or four times line by line with a fine-tooth comb. It can’t possibly have that many errors within, by the time I publish it.” To which I would respond, “But how many errors do you find acceptable for your finished published work to have?”

I know that I read over my manuscript very carefully several times as well. However, I also have two great critique partners who then read over it, and they always find more things I need to correct.

You see, as we read our own manuscript, we read it with a bias and a kind of blind eye because we read it as we know what we expect it to say, and I think that’s why we miss some errors.

In closing, I want to encourage you to seek the help of an editor, with some guidelines: 1) don’t choose the cheapest editor you can find; 2) be sure the editor is someone you believe you will be able to work well with and who has the best interests of you AND your story in mind and at heart; and, 3) don’t work with someone who is unkind and harsh. A good editor points out errors and makes suggestions on ways to correct those errors without being harsh or cruel and without belittling you or your work. Instead, a good editor will encourage you and simply do their best to make your finished story the best it can be.

Does all of this mean your story will be published completely error free? Possibly, but there is no guarantee. After all, even the best editors are human and may miss a couple small errors. However, with the help of a good editor, the errors will be few and far between — enough so that your readers won’t want to put your book down and they will be more likely to give out not just a four or five star rating, but also a glowing written review!

#WritingCommunity #WritersCafe #amwriting

Thursday’s Thoughts,Questions and Comments About Writing

glenn-carstens-peters-npxXWgQ33ZQ-unsplash

Today’s post is to get our creative juices flowing and to get us to write. This will be my first “writing prompt” post. Writing prompt posts will happen once a month — the second Thursday of each month, and I hope you will join me.
Writing prompts will vary: a line you must include, a beginning sentence, a photo, a list of words to include, possibly a piece of music, or any other creative thing I can think of to use as a prompt.
Now here are the rules for participating in my monthly writing prompt:
1) You may write in any genre.
2) Keep it clean — no explicit sex or erotica, no stories that attack a person or group of
     people. Minimal use of profanity and violence is okay.
3) If you are a nonfiction writer and want to participate, I welcome you, but you must
     use the suggested prompt.
4) All stories must be a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 1500 words. (This rule
     may change as participation grows).
I reserve the right not to post any story that doesn’t include/use the writing prompt as well as any story that breaks the second rule.
Here are a couple options for sharing, which I strongly encourage for two reasons — I want to know that people are participating, and I want to read what you write, as I am sure others will as well.
So sharing options:
1) 100 — 300 words, please post these stories in the comments section of this post
2) 301 — 1500 words, please email to me at cre8tiveme07@gmail.com
The reason for the options is that short stories like the first option can easily be shared and read in the comments section. Longer stories like the second option, I will post in a special Saturday post the same week the writing prompt post is written, so the Saturday that follows the second Thursday of the month.
I’m so excited to see what you come up with, and I will be participating as well.
This month’s writing prompt is that somewhere in your story, you must include the phrase “if looks could kill”.
One last thing, if you read posted stories in the comments or on the special Saturday post and choose to comment on the stories, your comments must be respectful, kind, and encouraging.

Thursday’s Thoughts,Questions, and Comments About Writing

eugene-chystiakov-wcMysLw5ROM-unsplash

Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

Though I have received no thoughts, questions, or comments from anyone, I will post today and hope it will encourage you to leave thoughts, questions, or comments about writing in the comments section for me to cover in future posts.

Writing is a solitary activity for the most part, and sometimes a writer can feel quite lonely. A writer can become discouraged staring at a blank page or a blank screen for a long period of time when nothing comes to mind to write or type.

Writers face other struggles as well — wondering if their scene or story is well written; what could they do to improve it; could they have chosen better words; is the pacing of the story too fast or too slow; are my characters likeable and relatable; etc.

Writers need each other. If you’re a writer who has ever spoken to another writer about writing, didn’t that conversation exhilarate and excite you; inspire you to sit down and write; let you know you’re not alone in your writing struggles; encourage you in knowing that you can be a writer?

That’s what I want my Thursday posts to do.

In addition, I’d like to have an occasional “brainstorming” Thursday post, where we just share ideas for stories, settings, characters — things to get our creative juices flowing. I also will post a writing prompt the second Thursday of the month, beginning next week, and ask you to use the prompt to write something and share it in the comments section for everyone here to read and reply to — only encouraging responses will be accepted. Any harsh or negative responses will be deleted. It is acceptable to say something like, “This part in your story is a bit slow. You could speed it up a little by…” OR “I didn’t really like this part or this character because…” These types of comments can be helpful to the writer instead of hurtful. They can help the writer improve their writing. We can all learn from one another.

I really hope you will join me on these Thursday posts, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I know I will.