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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

So Emotional

Have you ever read a book that was just so boring and bland that you wanted to throw it out the window?  Who hasn’t, right? Do you know one of the potential problems of that book?

It lacked emotion.

I think emotion is very important for a novel. A writer should try to find the right balance so the readers are engrossed in what they are reading.  Emotion helps get the readers invested in the story and into your characters. They have to feel sadness when they fall and celebrate their successes when they accomplish something.

My book is full of emotion and sometimes it does leave me feeling emotionally drained. These characters are put through hell and it does affect me in a weird way. I feel for them and I want them to succeed. I want them to realize their own worth and get better. But, in order to tell the story, I have to make them suffer, too.

Once you begin to really feel for these characters like you’re friends with them, that’s when you know you’re on the right track with emotion.  I want the readers to cry, laugh, scream, etc. I want them to really learn what it’s like to live like these characters. I want them to walk away with a sense of understanding. To do that, I need some emotion to show through.

Nobody wants to read a boring book anyways, right? 🙂

What do you think about bringing emotion in novels? How do you make it really show?

In other news, part four of “The Painter” is up now at Serial Central! Click here to go straight to the post! I’ve been having a lot of fun writing this story for everyone and I hope you all are enjoying it. Let me know what you think so far!

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I realized something this morning.  I realized that I have been kind of neglecting my wonderful beta reader lately. It’s not that I haven’t been giving her things to read over.  Maybe it’s that I haven’t been very consistent with doing that since my last bout of writer’s block.

For those of you who don’t know what a beta reader is, let’s see what good ole’ wikipedia.com has to say about it:

A beta reader (also spelled betareader, or shortened to beta) is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described[1] as “a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.”

Thank you, Wikipedia. That’s a beta reader. I am blessed with an amazing one who gives out the advice I need to hear. Let’s meet my beta reader, shall we? 🙂

Me and Annie

The one on the right? Yeah, that’s Annie.We have been friends  for about eight years now. We first met in high school physical education class. I was a senior and she was a freshman. When I was a freshman, they didn’t require us to take PE that year, so being the non-athletic person I am, I put it off until the last year. This, of course, forced me into a class full of freshman basketball players. I thought I was going to go crazy, but luckily, Annie and a couple of others were there to keep me sane.

Technically, Annie became my beta reader in high school after I finished a novel (that I never really had any interest in publishing). She wanted to read it and since it didn’t bother me, I let her. She printed the whole thing out and after she finished it, she told me she liked it. I still have the novel filed away in my computer documents, so maybe one day, I’ll get it published (with some well needed editing first..)

Why is Annie an amazing beta reader? She is very honest and has a great eye for detail. If something doesn’t sound right, she’s going to let me know.  Not in a way like Critic Boy who bashes everything I write, mind you. Annie is encouraging and is always excited when I send her stuff to read.  That excitement makes me excited to write more for her to go over. Her feedback is always genuine and thoughtful. She’s not out to break me down; she’s out to make me better.

She wants to see me be successful and for others to like this book. I knew she would understand these characters as much as I did. I knew they would speak to her. That’s important for me. I like to send Annie at least two chapters at a time while I’m in the writing process, so I don’t have to go searching for something after I’m finished and end up having to change everything to fit that one thing.  It helps get my writing into gear since I know she’s waiting for more chapters to read. I can’t leave her waiting, you know.

Every writer should have a beta reader they trust. If you have one, what’s your beta reader like?  If you don’t have one, what would your ideal beta reader be like?

Oh, and Annie, expect some more chapters in your e-mail on Friday. 🙂 That’s a promise!  You have witnesses here… ha.

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A few days ago, I had another conversation with someone I knew from my high school days. Well, we all know how these conversations go (boy, do I…). After adding me on facebook, she sent the generic message of: “Hey, how have you been? What have you been up to?” I reply, telling her about how I graduated college and now I’m writing a book. Like I’ve said before in the post, “A Conversation With an Old Friend”, this shouldn’t surprise people from my class. I’ve always said I wanted to be a writer. I was always vocal about that. But, after I told her that, it was like her mind was blown or something.

It was her last reply that made me laugh (yes, out loud).  She wrote that she always envisioned authors to be so serious. She said that she always saw them as the ones who wore tweed jackets and sat around, smoking cigars while reading long novels all day. Then, she said something that blew my mind. She told me this: “I always figured writers were just literary snobs.”

Literary snobs? Sure, I love to read the classics, but I don’t feel like I’m a literary snob. I’m not going to judge you because of a book you happen to read and I don’t.

You see, her vision of authors isn’t very realistic. Sure, there are authors out there who wear those jackets (if that’s your thing, more power to you..) and smoke cigars while reading really long novels. But, the majority of writers aren’t like that. Some people have this preconception of what writers look like and how we act. We’re snooty, we’re cranky, we prefer to use really big words just to prove that we can.

I hate to burst her bubble here, but I’m not like that either. I’m just a girl who has a passion for writing. I’m a story-teller. I’m a writer.

Just not one that wears tweed jackets…..

Tolkien could get away with it. Why? Because he was Tolkien..enough said.

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Recently, I found this quote on the internet:

“To imagine yourself inside another person…is what a story writer does in every piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose.”
Eudora Welty

I really like this quote because it truly makes a lot of sense. Sometimes, it’s difficult (and mentally exhausting) for a writer to imagine themselves inside the minds of their characters and the readers as well. The characters in my novel have become sort of like my children in a way. Of course, if that’s the case, I’m quite the sadistic mother…. hmm. Anyways, moving on from my fake parenting skills..

As a writer, we should always be able to put ourselves in someone’s shoes. If we are writing about something we have never experienced ourselves, we have to imagine what it would be like to be that character. How would they react? What would their lives be like? Relationships? Do they work? Do they go to school? Do they even care? Sometimes, it’s better to create someone who is so different from who you are. It stretches your imagination and your creativity.  It can make quite a powerful story where the characters aren’t stale. It keeps you on your toes as a writer to make such a unique person.

After reviewing all of my character notes, I can see each of them distinctly as if I knew them already. I know what they look. I know what all of their mannerisms are. That helps bring the characters to life for me.  They’re not just some character in a story. I can only hope readers feel the same way. I hope they are able to see them like that. I want them to feel like they have met them before.

Concerning the readers, I try not to think about them too much during the writing process. Although, I do keep them in mind from time to time. I understand that not everyone is going to like my book. You can’t please everyone. There are people out there who can’t even stand the thought of reading any book. But, yet, I do put myself in certain reader’s shoes that I know will like this and know where I’m coming from.

So, maybe Eudora Welty was right about what she said.  What do you think?

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Today, well, yesterday by the time I publish this post, was father’s day. Usually, it’s a time when you give your dad the usual Hallmark greeting card and some kind of gift like a tie….or some tools…whatever the department stores are telling you to buy.  I remember as a little girl, I would make my dad’s father’s day cards.  Honestly, I’m no artist nor will I ever claim to be, but my dad was always so happy with my handmade, colored marker filled, construction paper cards.

My dad was one of my biggest supporters. He always believed in my writing dreams. He knew that if I wanted to be a successful writer, it was going to happen. My dad encouraged me to work hard and never give up.  Of course, my mom always agreed (which was odd because after they divorced when I was 4 years old, they were hardly on the same page ever..).  That was something they could always agree on. They both loved me and my brother unconditionally and made a lot of sacrifices so we could accomplish our dreams.

I’m sitting here right now in front of my computer, trying to choose just one favorite memory I have with my dad. There are many since I was quite the “Daddy’s Girl” growing up.  I do think a favorite would be going to his apartment on the weekends and bringing the short story I wrote that week in school. He’ d be so excited to hear what I had written. He would sit in his recliner and let me read the story to him.  Let’s remember here, I was a kid. What I was writing wasn’t Hemingway or Faulkner. It was just a kid in elementary school writing stories about her cat, friends, and one time, a story about Kindergarten class’ pet rabbit.  Her name was Fredericka (I didn’t come up with the name, so don’t look at me), and guess what that story was called? If you guessed “Fredericka”, give yourselves a pat on the back! You won! Yes, all you get is a pat on the back. Sorry. 🙂

Back to my memory. No matter how tired my dad was at the end of a long work day (he was a meat cutter which is a completely disgusting  job, but hey, if that’s what you do, I respect you), my dad would always be a very attentive listener. He would have me show my “illustrations” and ask what brought me to write that story.  That interest in my writing continued for years. When my mom moved me and my little brother to Missouri, he would call us every Sunday and ask if I was writing anything and what it was about. He knew how important it was to be supportive.

All that ended on May 31st, 1999. That was the day my dad passed away from pneumonia.  He had become sober from alcohol for two years before he died. Of course, his many years of being an alcoholic took its toll on his body and he got sick.  I was still in Missouri, so I never really got to say goodbye. I think that’s one of the hardest things I still have to deal with. The unanswered questions.  Losing someone who always believed in me.

I miss the phone calls. I miss those days when I would bring him what I was working on and read it to him. There is a lot I miss about my dad. I would give a lot to have it all back, to just hear his voice one more time. I would love to tell him about the novel I’m working on. I think he’d be proud of me.

It’s been eleven years since he passed away. There are some days where I don’t think about him as much, but on father’s day, I think about him all day. So, this post is dedicated to my dad, William. I’m still going to achieve my dreams, not only for myself, but for him as well.  His belief in me still holds true to this day. I’m not going to forget that.

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Today, I took the time to look back at some of my previous writings to see if their was a link to connect them all together. I didn’t know if I was going to find some treasured meaning behind them, but I did. Each story contained an individual message that meant a lot to me, whether it be treasuring time with loved one, or not judging people for what society may deem as “unacceptable.”  I talk about lost love and broken hearts; forgiveness and acceptance. These are things that mean a lot to me.

What I’m trying to say is I generally write from the heart. Sure, I use my brain to get the words on the screen, but that’s emotions in the reader.

I tend to write what I know, or somewhat know. Of course, there have been some attempts at fantasy (I am a JRR Tolkien fanatic, remember?).  There are just times when I know deep in my heart what I am meant to write. Currently, my W.I.P centers around a type of mental health issue that is still seen as “taboo” with certain people. If my novel can open up those lines of communications and get people talking, then I feel like I have succeeded.

Writing from the heart doesn’t cost you any money or take a lot of time. It’s about getting to know who you are and what life means to you. What bothers you? Is there something that has happened to you that has affected you? In order to connect with the story, readers need to believe what you’re writing. Sometimes, writing from the heart helps you achieve that. If a character is going through something that you feel you can connect with, don’t be afraid to dive in and let the readers see that pain. Remember, readers want to see that emotion. Another key is letting go of the fear that can hold you back. Sometimes, we run away from things that have hurt us in the past. We hide from the things that we don’t want to relive again.  I know it’s not easy. I struggle with writing certain chapters in my W.I.P.  It’s not an easy thing to relive, but it is therapy.

Trust your heart. It may seem scary to let your mind take the backseat for awhile, but in the end, it’s worth it.

“When you write from the heart, you not only light the dark path of your readers, you light your own way as well.”

-Marjorie Holmes

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These past few days, I’ve been taking a break from writing and trying to relax after some very stressful moments. Sometimes, you need to do that in order to gain some fresh ideas for whatever you are trying to work on.

Today, I decided to just sit back and let myself do whatever I felt like doing. I haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of days, so writing wasn’t really on my mind. It was great to just sit down and read for a few hours. It’s sad to admit, but I haven’t actually read in weeks. Life and stress gets in the way. I’ve been so focused on getting my own stuff done that I’ve forgotten to appreciate other things. Currently, I’m re-reading Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat. I love her writing style. I’m fascinated by the way she describes the settings and characters. It’s like you can really envision it all happening in front of you. The first Anne Rice book I read was actually a book out of the Mayfair witch chronicles, Lasher. I believe I was around 14 years old. It was after I watched the movie version of Interview with the Vampire that I just had to read her works. I’ve read every book by Anne Rice that I could get my hands on. She is a passionate writer that I definitely look up to.

Reading not only helps get my mind off certain stresses in my life, but it also helps put me in a creative mood to write. After putting Rice’s book down, I felt the need to write down plot notes for my own novel. It is in no way a vampire novel, but after reading certain books, I do feel inspired to work on my own writing. I can only hope that one day an aspiring writer can get the same feeling after reading one of my novels.

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