Weekend Writing Prompt

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Write a scene where your character meets 3 people – one they like, one they don’t like, and one they’ve never met. Make sure each character has a distinct voice.

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Novel or Manifesto?

A few years ago, I was talking to a friend and a light bulb landed in my lap. Not a real one – that would have been weird – but an idea I couldn’t ignore. It was, a premise for the book I’m writing, whole as a nut. The idea didn’t magically appear. It came […]

via Crafting a light bulb: Are you writing a novel or a manifesto? — Muscat Tales

Tips on writing a battle

by Ian J Miller If you write historical novels, you may end up having to handle battles, and the question is, how to do it? The simplest way is to focus on one or more persons on the front line. You may be able to write some important character aspect of the protagonist, and […]

via Writing Authentic Battle Scenes — A Writer’s Path

My Work in Progress

I wanted to share a little about my book that I’m working on. I don’t have my “elevator pitch” ready yet, but it’s about a thriller set in Colorado. My MC is a young woman who gets kidnapped on her way home from work. Here’s a bit from my book so far:

She pulled against the restraint at her wrists. It felt hard and narrow, cutting into her skin. She imagined something like the plastic ties she saw on cop shows. She kept tugging, trying to get her hands free. She wanted to scream, but she could only whimper through the gag.

Eventually I’ll need some beta readers, but I am far, far from that. For now, I need encouragement! Writing is hard! Coming up with idea and getting them on paper is hard, but getting to use the computer when I’m not exhausted is hard too. So any pep talk is much appreciated.

3 Kinds of Feedback

I had my writer’s group last night and I’m still thinking over all the feedback I got. I love how a good critique can make you excited about your book all over again. Anyway, it’s my first time meeting with this group and I noticed something. I’ve decided there are three different types of feedback.

The first is the action-oriented. These folks notice what the character is doing all the time. How are they moving? Where are they in relation to stuff around them? Does your character suddenly have three hands – holding a knife in one hand, a gun in another, and a phone in the other other hand? They notice whether what you’re saying makes physical sense. This is really valuable, because some readers do this too – they put themselves in the book as they read. If your stuff doesn’t make physical sense, these readers will notice. I’m not great at this, so I really appreciate when someone else points this out. It can prevent some embarrassing moments!

The next is detail-oriented. These folks notice every word, every sentence, every punctuation mark. Do you have typos? Did you accidentally type a word twice? Did you use the wrong verb tense? This stuff can be fixed, of course, by a copy editor, but it’s nice to have a heads up before you get that far. (If you get that far.) These are the sort of mistakes that readers notice and wonder why you didn’t have an editor. I’m pretty good at this, but no one is perfect at spotting their own misteaks – err, mistakes.

The last is big-picture-oriented. This is where I generally fall. Do I like the main character? Is the setting well thought out? Am I emotionally invested in the story? This is what I notice as a reader, and it’s what I notice when I critique as well. If this doesn’t work, then I don’t care about how great the action is or if the copy editing is perfect. If I don’t care about the characters, if I can’t imagine the setting, if your plot doesn’t make sense, then I won’t enjoy it. Period.

If you are a writer and you don’t currently belong to a writer’s group, I really recommend that you look for one. Live and in person is best, but online works too. You need someone who tells you what works AND what doesn’t. If they’re just going to tell you everything is great, they aren’t really helping you. And if they tell you everything sucks, you’re just going to give up. Find someone who can give it to you straight but not make you want to hit the delete button.

Good luck, and happy writing!

How to create strong characters

I’ve just completed the God knows what number revision of my novel(I lost count a long time ago). While I have to admit it is one-hundred times better than the first draft, it is still not where it needs to be. I hope this isn’t coming across too negative. To be honest, while I’m not […] […]

via Do Your Characters Have Character? — Writing your first novel-Things you should know — I Suck at Writing

Descriptive Writing

I found this article helpful. This is one area where I struggle a little. I typically skip over the descriptions on first writing, then go back and add them later.

There are many different kinds of writing, descriptive writing being one of them. Pretty much everything I found on descriptive writing talked about essay writing or academic writing. Descriptive writing is important for any kind of writing, but we’ll stick to creative writing for now. What is descriptive writing? Descriptive writing is when you give […]

via What Is Descriptive Writing? — Rachel Poli

Still by CM Bohn

Original story by me

It was after visiting hours when Karen pulled into the parking lot, but she knew no one would say anything. They hadn’t said a word when she brought a treat yesterday. What did it matter at this point?

The room was quiet and dim when she got there. The light from the silent television gave the room a strange moving glow. As she looked at the still figure on the bed, Karen felt her pulse throb in her throat. She couldn’t move from the doorway. Her fingers went icy cold. Then he stirred and opened his eyes, and Karen almost fell over.

“Hey, Karrie-Girl. How’s my pretty girl?” Dad asked. “Come in and sit down.”

She entered, scooting a chair closer to the bed, and sat. “Hey, Dad. Did I wake you?”

“I was just resting. You can turn that damn thing off if you want to. The nurses keep turning it on when they come in.”

Karen found the TV remote and turned it off.

“That’s better. Just you this time?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to see my Daddy.”

He smiled then, but it was a pale imitation of his old grin. Her stomach clenched a little, but she ignored it.

“How are you feeling tonight?” she asked.

“I’m fine. Kind of sleepy.”

Karen looked around the room. The cookie crumbs had been cleaned up. Yesterday she had been taken with an urgent need to make oatmeal raisin cookies. She’d eaten half a dozen as they came out of the oven, still warm and tasting of cinnamon. When she brought the kids to the hospital that afternoon, her son had insisted they bring cookies for Grandpa.

But when they got there, Dad shared the plate around, urging the kids to help themselves. The kids were happy to dig in. Karen watched her dad until he finished one cookie, the last one on the plate. She knew he wasn’t eating the hospital food. But he seemed to enjoy the cookie.

“Are you thirsty, Dad?” she asked, handing him a mug of water. He managed a few sips.

“My Karrie-Girl.” He patted her hand.

She clasped her fingers around his. His hand felt dry and shriveled, like it was withering away. She clung to it as they talked.

They talked about old times and laughed a little. Their voices were nearly lost in the murmur of machines, the conversation in the hall, the sounds from the parking lot. After a few minutes chat, the room grew quiet. Everything important had been said long ago. Karen laid her head down on his chest and he stroked her hair with his feather-light hands. She closed her eyes and prayed. But no tears.

In the days to come, when the phone call came, through the funeral and the lunch after, during the cleanup; she knew that half of herself remained there in that room, still sitting in that chair, still feeling the feather-light touch of his hand, still stroking her hair.

10 Writing Mistakes That Really Bug Me!

I’ve been reading more indie fiction, and one thing about indie books, they don’t always have great editing. I get it; editors cost money. If you’ve signed with a publishing firm, they pay for all that. But if you’re self-published, you have to pay for it for yourself.

I’m sure it’s hard to come up with the money for that before anyone has even bought a single copy of your book. But it’s money well spent. Having a good editor can be the difference between a book that makes me want finish so I can recommend it to all my friends and one that I am happy to put off reading for something better.

In the spirit of helping, here are 10 writing mistakes that I have noticed that really mark your work as something that could have used an editor.

  1. Typos. These are so obvious, but they are so very annoying. It’s one thing on the internet, but when you’ve released a book? They make it look like a junior high project.
  2. Spelling mistakes. This goes along with the first one, but it has to be said again. This time I’m including the mistakes that spell check doesn’t pick up, but are still wrong.
  3. Forgetting a character’s name. Hello! Make a cheat sheet or something. But calling a character by one name in one page and something else on another page? That’s sloppy.
  4. You’re/your, it’s/its. Contractions are for when you leave a letter out. If you’re (hint) not sure, look it up. Or get that editor to do it for you!
  5. Too many dialogue tags. Oh, and using something besides “said” when you do use one. Occasionally replied, or asked, or complained, is acceptable, but mostly use said. And mostly leave it off. We don’t need it.
  6. Overusing characters’ names. Obviously you have to do it sometimes but there’s a balance. Too much and it becomes awkward and clunky.
  7. Either too much action or too much dialogue or too much interior monologue. The best books have a mix of all three. Readers want action, but they need a slow space to catch their breath, to think and figure stuff out, to bond with the characters, and to figure out what the characters are thinking. But too much of any one of these three elements and the book doesn’t work.
  8. No subplots. That’s a real difference I see between beginning writers (like me, I admit it) and more polished writers. Beginners are focused on just one plot. But that can make a book too predictable. The best writers create depth by adding subplots and characters with back stories that engage the reader.
  9. Black and white writing. Characters that are all good or all bad. People in real life are very seldom like that, so reading about people like that is just boring. Give your characters reasons to behave they way they do and people will love them more.
  10. Not listening to your editor. Once you have paid your editor, or begged your friends or writing group, to read and reread your work, take their advice. I’m not saying everything they say has to be adhered to, but if you ask someone for help, take the help they offer. Make the changes. Even if it means starting over. Your work will be stronger in the end.