Friday, February 27, 2015

Sometimes Subtlety Is The Best Policy

As Writers we all strive for richness in our manuscripts. We long for the reader to "get" what our characters are saying, without actually saying it. To add to their personalities without spelling it all out in dialog. But we tend to listen to our teachers and coaches how we need to explain all through the dialog of our characters.

Sometimes I think you can do that without every detail. Your readers will understand. If you spell out everything they're thinking in the dialog, you've left nothing to the imagination of the reader. 

Subtlety can be achieved through the actions of the character, as well as sometimes saying nothing at all, only a wink, or an eyebrow raise can tell the reader what is really going on inside the head of that particular character. If you spell it all out for them, it leaves nothing to imagination and is boring.

Humans never say everything that's on their mind. We have body signals that we send to our partners, friends, and family who know us. We don't talk or think that way, so neither should your characters to be believable.

Try to really "see" the relationship between two of your characters, maybe two best friends. As they're discussing something with, say the nemesis, they certainly wouldn't give all information. They would help each other, maybe a lie, or to hide something, and they would do it with a look, a nod, a subtle hint between the two of them.

Or maybe two family members, a father and son. These two would definitely know each other and not all would need to be said.

Although, there are times when you need to spell it out, such as a speech, or plan unfolding. But to understand the way people really think and act is what is really needed to bring out the richness in the story. 

There are times you need to spell it all out, and there are times the character should just shut up. 

Well, my muse for the day. I hope it helps you to think about your characters and dialog as you pound away on the keys. 

Have a great week everyone! See you next Friday!

Love, Lisa

Friday, February 20, 2015

So You Want To Write

I hear all the time, "I always wanted to write a book" when I'm out and about. It reminds me of me. For years I said these exact words, and then one day I decided to take the plunge. 

For those of you who have heard yourself say these words, I've got a piece of advice for you - go for it. But remember one thing, it's not as easy as it looks. It is a lot of hard work and usually takes at least 4 years to finish your first book. 

Why do I say that? Well, because it's true. After you manage to finish your rough draft, then the hard work begins. If you don't have a degree in creative writing, and are actually good at it, then you need to get serious about turning that manuscript into a novel. 

You have revisions to do, and the only way to master your rewrites is to know what your doing. I hired a private coach and worked with her for 9 months, then I started going to her classes. I also joined a writers group to surround myself with other writers and to learn even more about the craft.

See, you need to be working on your craft continuously. Even if you have a degree, it doesn't mean you know how to write a novel that grabs the readers and holds on to their attention. This is where your delicate self-esteem needs to buck up, because no one is perfect at writing.

You have to be able to take criticism and realize your always learning. There are published authors out there that should work on their craft, as well as the one's who self-publish. Actually, I've read quite a few self-pub's that the writer was pretty good! And I've read some books that the author was successful and I cringe from the creative writing mistakes. 

But believe me when I say, I make them, too. At least I am honest enough to say I'm still a work in progress and continue to hone my craft. And the other thing I do, is work with critique partners. This is the number one thing you need to do if you want a clean, tight novel. 

After you have gone through your novel with a critique partner, you will need to go through it again. Each time you revisit your writing, you will see that you've grown in your skills and catch even more. 

But once you feel you're ready, that your novel is the best it's going to get, you need to get some beta-readers, and I mean honest ones, not your family. When you get your manuscripts back from them and fix the marks they found, then you'll probably be ready to either hire an editor, if your self-pub, or start writing your query letters.

As you can see, between all the revisions, classes, critique partners, and the like - it's not easy to write a good novel. It is a lot of dedication and commitment. 

I hope there are those of you who can appreciate just how hard it is and before you say, "I can do that". It is a long road, but well worth it in the end.

Have a great week everyone and hope to see you back here next Friday!

Love, Lisa

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hurry Up And Wait

Just like the government, writing can be a hurry up and wait game. What do I mean by that? Well, whether it's waiting for a publisher or agent to get back to you, or whether it's waiting for an editor or beta-readers to send back your manuscript, it is a waiting game.

But one more waiting game affects writers, patience with writing your novel. 

I planned to have this one finished this winter, but it looks like that won't happen. I was already held back for different reasons in the beginning, and now since I've had to get used to writing alone, it's slowed the process, too.

Part of it is confidence in my writing and part is making sure the voice is close to the same as when I wrote with my sister. I've been getting back critiqued chapters, fixing them, and then sending them back for one more round. It has slowed my progress, but I want the book to be great for all my readers.

Another reason is I'm building a world and I don't want to leave out important information. I want to make sure you as the reader get the picture, as it were.

For those of you that are writing, take your time and get it right. Once you hit publish, well, that's it. Once I have reached the end of this one, I will be sending it to beta readers and then onto my editor, so it will be a while.

Have patience with me and know I'm giving it my all. I hope this book is better than the last for you, and so on. That's my plan anyway. 

It is close. I'm 3/4 of the way done. I'm also reading through it as I go to fix whatever I can ahead of time. 

So take your time writers. And readers, well I'm thinking of you with each word I put on the page!

Have a great weekend all!

Love, Lisa

Friday, February 6, 2015

Nobody's Perfect

I've been reading the Outlander series in its entirety and for the most part, really enjoying it. I'm on book 6 now, 2 more to go, and I really love the relationship between Clare and Jamie. For those of you who enjoy historical romance, I highly recommend it.

The series takes you from the first time they meet, and through their entire relationship for decades. There are a lot of trials they face and action, but there is one other thing that the writer adds - a lot of unneeded information. I find myself skimming a lot. I hate skimming. But when the writing doesn't really move the story along, it becomes hum drum.

Diana Gabaldon is really good at showing instead of telling - in fact I would say, she's a genius in that subject. Also her dialog is unbelievably awesome, along with her character and scene descriptions, but when it comes to info dump, she has that down pretty good, too. 

Because I love the story I keep reading, but from the very first book I have skimmed here and there. It just goes to show, we all have writing skills we need to work on, even when we're a New York Times Best Seller. Our craft needs constant work.

Info dump is where we writers tend to ramble and give too much detail. It makes sense mainly because, well, we're writers. We tend to keep writing. But if it's not moving along the story your reader will skim.

It is one thing to add information in between dialog, yet another when that information is several paragraphs or even pages long. Yes, there is places where you need to let the reader in on certain stuff, but I believe a lot of it can be cut.

I see books all the time that are over 800 pages, even 1000 or more, and my first thought is, I bet there were plenty of places where the writer could have cut the info and the reader still would have "gotten the picture".

There are readers that relish description, I'm one of them, but sometimes it can become too much. When your finished with your tome try to go back through and cut the unnecessary writing. I think you'll find your novel is tighter and cleaner. Your readers will appreciate that. 

If you have any questions on this subject, or any other creative writing skill, I'm always here for you. If I don't have the answer, I will find it. In the mean time, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

If you get a minute stop by my new website and sign up for the newsletter. I plan to create a "special room" for those who are fans so get your email in there so that you can be part of the exclusive Djen club!

There will be all kinds of interesting and fun things to participate in and also sales and giveaways, but it will only be for those who join in. I will announce on here once that extra tab is added to the site. djenworld

Take care and see you next week! 

Love, Lisa