Writer’s block comes to most writers. We each have it somewhere in ourselves, to find the momentum to go on.
To most writers there comes that time known as WRITER’S BLOCK. It is that dreaded disease that prevents any new form of an idea from entering the mind.
That is the usual time for a taking a self- imposed, vacation from writing, and for some that’s enough to get back to work and get the juices flowing again. For most it is not that easy. Oh, sure, we all like to take a vacation now and again, but usually it is planned for weeks, perhaps months ahead. It’s something we look forward to.. Not so with the writer. These ‘vacations’ are often spent with never a quiet, peaceful inner moment of relaxation. It is often thinking, ‘I’m done as a writer,’ ‘Why wont the words come into my head?’ and, ‘I’m all washed up.’.
There is no easy solution and each writer probably has his or her own key to unlock the dilemma. It could come in a news article, or remembering some silly event in our past, or watching an old movie, or feeling empathy for a homeless person. The list is long and convoluted. It is whatever and however our mind gets triggered to think again as a writer. I wish I could put an answer to this all illusive question. I am always amazed when it returns and once more I have sleepless nights, not longing to write, but to put new words to my notebook to advance the story I am writing.
Countdown to THE MOUTH OF THE LION.1 Blog
Writing is a constant challenge ‘to get it right.’
In keeping with my first blog on revision I have to add to my revision:
- Polish, polish, polish. Keep looking for words or phrases that could be condensed and take out all offenders, the unnecessary words. Remember the reader doesn’t want to hear flourishing descriptions when a few words will keep the pages turning.
- Tie up any loose ends you can find. Recognize a good stopping place for the book. Sure, everyone wants to see what happens next, but don’t go too far. Know when to stop.
I’m almost ready to start my revision. I have read the entire manuscript and already know some of the changes I will make. The others are still a mystery but I hope they will make the story run more smoothly when I finally decide on them. I have begun to do more research and will definitely say that research has come a long way, making it much easier than ‘back in the day.’ At this point I realize I may have to add a few more chapters. The challenge grows
Five more blogs to countdown.
Short stories can be drawn from your life’s experiences. It is good practice that helps you develop as a writer.
When you begin to write you may be floundering around to choose a topic or something you feel may interest a reader.You have no further to look than yourself.
In the beginning of my writing career I drew on my life’s experiences, working as a nurse, my interest in quilting, and my rather unpleasant childhood. These short stories and my first novel did sell and they gave me encouragement to try something I was not entirely familiar with. That’s when lots of research entered into the picture. It was stimulating and educating and very time consuming, back in the day, before google, etc.
One of my earlier stories came mostly from my memory. It was of going to Carsonia amusement park on the rare Sundays my Mom and I could afford to go. I drew further from that memory, knowing that my parents had danced the night away in the pavilion by the lake. Some of the story, SOMETIMES ON A SUNDAY was fabricated, but it was mostly as true as memory permits. I was that child in the frilly dress and I rode the jeweled horses of the carousel.
There must be a time in your life, treasured or a disappointment, which you can now relate to from a different viewpoint. Maybe it was the first meeting with your in-laws, the first time you rode a two wheeler, or when you sat at a dying friend’s bedside. Somewhere inside you there is a real story wanting to be told, perhaps from a different angle. Write it. Tell it. It matters not that the magazine market for short stories has practically dried up. It will be part of your writing experience. Treasure it.
SOMETIMES ON A SUNDAY is now part of MY TRAIL OF LEAVES, short story collection.
Click here to see my book, My Trail of Leaves. Thank you.
Realistic description will make your story a must read. Try telling about yourself or a close friend. It will be a real test.
Have you ever come to the end of the book feeling it should go on and on, pulling you along with the characters, which have become more than words on the printed page. You identify with these people. You have become part of their surroundings, and what happens to them matters to you.
Description in your story should be so vivid and convincing it takes the reader to that exact time and place. It is how the characters look and how they react to one another. Description should fill in all the details of the setting. It should enfold the reader into the tale so completely, there is no doubt he or she has become part of the action..
The scene should be seen through the reader’s eyes and emotions. Make the description part of the action. In the struggle, did his feet scrape across concrete or gravel? Did he cower under, or tower above his assailant? If you are talking about a war you can’t just plop your character into the middle of a bloody conflict. You have to build toward that scene, using DESCRIPTION. It has to fill every sentence with words that will make the reader hold his breath to learn the outcome…and it shouldn’t always be on the side of the main character. Remember: the peaks and valleys, the give and take of any good story is filled with meaningful description.
If you are describing the moon, for instance, you wouldn’t want to say ‘ it was round or bright.’ You might describe how the shadows fell through the dense trees, or the dim light broke through the lace curtain. A woman is not pretty, or fair, or homely. She has ruddy cheeks or freckles, or her hair is the color of smoke or sunshine. She needs to stand out for exactly who she is. Make your characters have a few traits to make them memorable, or desirable, or mundane. Once you have established those traits, it is not necessary to keep repeating them.
Build the feeling, the emotion, not only the facts. Your main character, in particular, should have deep reasons for the way he reacts. Set the mood. The description will fall into place, a little at a time, but strong enough tp give your story the body it needs..
Careful use of DIALOGUE will give your story life.
How can you make the dialogue you use in a story sound natural? When you read a story do you become aware of tiresome dialogue, wondering if will ever sound real or familiar?
The main functions of DIALOGUE are to advance the plot, and to give information of the story.
It also shows the characters’ traits., like strength of will, or determination, or of a weakness, or habitual lying. DIALOGUE should make the story seem real and give it life. One point you should strive for is to be right to the point. It is important to avoid rambling or to have one character being too wordy, or boring.
Don’t be afraid to use the word ‘said.’ When possible, show the emotion, rather than “it was said hastily, or angrily, etc.” For times like these your characters could be livid, raging, harsh or any number of descriptive phrases but not by just saying he or she is. Showing the emotion always tops saying..
Be sure to use proper punctuation, usually a comma after the line spoken, and if you identify the speaker at that time, it is also necessary to change sentence or each paragraph for each speaker.
If you have any doubt that your sentences are sounding real, try them on a recorder or on a friend. Sometimes simply saying them out loud is enough to give them the ring of truth..
How you use DIALOGUE can make or break a story. I remember reading a boring book that was all description, and then again I don’t want to ‘hear’ people talking ad infinitum, with no substance to back it up. The good use of Dialogue is an art form.
Do you enjoy a mystery.? Read CHARADE on Kindle
Mystery writing is like thinking in reverse. You have to know the outcome when you start thinking of your story and then go to the beginning to plant the clues on the way to the conclusion. All the while you must try to keep the reader is suspense as you build toward that revelation.
CHARADE was an adventure in my writing career like none other that I had attempted. I often thought I would like to try a mystery but didn’t know my capability. You know how easy it is to put off something you are afraid to do for fear of failure. Finally I let myself go. I started the mystery, knowing where I wanted to end up but not sure how I was going to get there. .When I finally finished the manuscript I wondered why I had waited so long to take the plunge. I had truly enjoyed the journey I had taken.
The story revolves around an affluent family and their hopes and dreams. In the middle of the family is Marsh, a man who has always been more grounded in being himself than adhering to this unwanted lifestyle. A murder has been committed. Coincidentally, Marsh has disappeared. The hunt is on. And, as they say about mysteries, the plot thickens!!
Reading on my Kindle has become a way of life. In the morning I catch up on my word game, WORDS WITH FRIENDS. During my busy day , if there is time, I read one of several books I have started. But at bedtime I always give one of my favorite reads at least a half hour, then ten minutes of meditation before I sleep.
I’m sure you have your own ‘ritual’ before you retire for the night. Maybe it is packing lunch for the next day, reading to your kids if they are young enough, discussing today’s highs and lows with a family member. Whatever your chores are, take a few minutes to read. It can be on the Kindle, or maybe you have to hold a real book in your hands. Whatever your pleasure, take a few minutes to relax and read. It is one pure pleasure that costs so little. You will feel better and be better able to take on tomorrow.
Humor comes in different forms. Make your point and quit..
Do you have a good sense of humor? Maybe you can even be funny writing it?
There are 3 R’s that go hand in hand with writing humor and they are not what you think of when trying to be funny. You will want to gain the Respect of your audience. You will want them to Remember some of what you have written. And third, you will want to be Rewarded for what you have written. Of course, we all want to get paid for what we write, but one of the greatest rewards is having a laugh or two or an honest compliment. Success is not always monetary, though sadly, it seems to be everyone’s goal.
There are different approaches to writing comedy: you can criticize somebody, you can call attention to yourself, you can be unconventional on a subject that is usually positive, you can use sarcasm. Probably a little of that goes a long way! There was only one Don Rickles!
Humor can be taught because it has technique and a formula. We often use humor to laugh at ourselves . It is often criticism of things we have no control over. Sometimes it enables us to get our frustrations out, our angry feelings on a social wrong.
Use your imagination to the fullest. You can air your hostility, stored up emotion, or laughing off a hurt. Remember the element of surprise. Think of some of the jokes you liked best, And don’t forget ‘laughter is the best medicine.’
Click here to get a Kindle for you or a friend who enjoys reading!
Click here to see my books on Kindle.
Try to keep some tradition alive on important days. If you are at a loss to remember them, make your own traditions. Repeat them on those special days and they will be looked forward to and cherished.
Do you pay attention to traditions that go way back in your family?
It seems an important part of my family to keep a hint of what was once our roots, our heritage. It’s what has made us who we are and we cling to just a bit of our past in this ever changing way of life.
One tradition that we keep is one that only began about 50 or so years ago so you can’t really say it began with my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors. Around that time my sister-in-law shared with me one of her many great recipes, the one for nut bread. It has graced our holiday tables ever since. My daughter and I make 7 or 8 loaves before each holiday and when our families go home they each carry a loaf of the precious bread. That’s part of our tradition, too. I have included the youtube video of our bread making and my other daughter’s blog with all her yummy food.
There are other traditions, older and more dear that we revere and try to hold on to. In my next blog I will share how my Pennsylvania Dutch ‘freinshchaft,’ family or kin, made their own special Easter eggs.
Have you ever taken a journey into the past? It gives you a new appreciation of where you are today.
My eight books on Kindle include MILE AND A HALF, a children’s book, but also a book for the young at heart. It is historical in nature, depicting the life on the canals, their purpose, and their colorful past. Being a resident of a ‘canal town,’ I have often walked the towpaths where mules pulled the barges. I have ridden in a replica of these barges, though now remodeled to carry the passengers who are trying to get a glimpse of the past. It is a serene ride, surrounded only by silence and the click of the mules’ hooves on the stony path as it transports us on the seamless water.
Here is a blurb from the book.
Growing up in a canal lock house was bad enough, but having a school teacher step-Mom was more than he could stand. Josh hatched a plan after reading Mark Twain’s book about a prince who wanted to see what the rest of the world was like. His adventure took him away from his lock house to unfamiliar places. Like the prince in Twain’s story, he began to look at home in a completely different light.
Plan the viewpoint before you start writing. Your writing will flow more smoothly.
When you plan to write a short story, careful attention should be given to the subject of viewpoint because it will make it easier or harder for you, the writer.
For instance, if you plan to be the one telling the story you may run into trouble when you find it limiting. This FIRST PERSON approach sometimes get boring. Everything in the tale is seen by you, and it is difficult to tell all the details of scenery, action, and plot development by using I, Me, or My. Some books have managed this quite well but they are the exception.
Second person, or You is also difficult to use.
The Third Person, who sees all the background and all the action is commonly used
Then we have Omniscient, where the viewpoint changes among several characters. This is more difficult for the beginner.
My favorite one to use one viewpoint per character. This can change with the chapter or even with a scene change. In this case you have to add an extra space to denote scene change to make the story flow more smoothly. It is clearly a favorite of many authors.
Don’t feel you can’t write as the opposite sex. Emotions are basically the same. Manner of speaking is sometimes different.