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This week:Edited by: Robin Bateman
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First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
- Ray Bradbury
Finding Your Pique
Reading transports me. I can go anywhere and never leave my chair. It lets me shake hands with new ideas. - Rolfe Neill
I’d like to add to Neil’s quote by saying; the writing must be engaging in order to transport me.
How can writers engage their readers? Easy! Through tension, conflict, and suspense. Stretch or strain the scene. Collide or disagree, or maintain a degree of uncertainty while instilling in me, the reader, the absolute need to know the outcome --and you have me. Struggles, anticipations, expectations, worry, anxiety and stress can present themselves in the form of emotional struggle, physical brawl/race/challenge, or spiritual grappling.
Here are a few ways you can establish and underscore your tension, conflict, suspense.
Through Creating Connections
First, generate a connection between two things.
Man against nature
A teenager and her wish to leave home
Work ethic collides with family loyalty
A home invasion
Olympic Gold, The Wimbledon title, or anything sports related
War, battle, playground scuffle, etc.
Wish to adhere to religious beliefs while being tempted by sin
Falling in love w/ someone of another religion
Search for the very existence of a higher being
Through Word Usage
Once you’ve written your first draft and you’re ready to grab the magnifying glass and go over your work, pick up your thesaurus, or visit one on line at www.dictionary.com. Nothing beats this reference tool; a must-have for all writers. If you aren’t in the habit of using one, it’s not too late. Start today. . A thesaurus helps you paint a more detailed picture of your scenes. Words like grabbed, yanked, snatched have similar meanings, but different connotations.
…grabbed her coat off the hanger.
…yanked the boy’s arm.
…snatched the money from the cashier.
The shorter your piece, the stronger word choice affects the overall outcome of your writing. In other words, how the reader perceives your story. In tennis we refer to solid shots made with consistency as “weapons”. A thesaurus is more than a writer’s weapon, it’s an essential tool. Everything I’ve ever written has had the benefit of thesaurus use.
Dialogue can be tricky at first. Novice writers may overuse dialogue. But don’t be afraid to let your characters speak. However, when you do, ask yourself the following:
Are your character’s words necessary?
Do the words help to convey the point I am making?
Are the words age/gender/culture appropriate?
Can I narrate what my characters are saying and come out with a stronger paragraph/scene?
Vivian: publisher, author , published author of five books and one more on the way offers the following advice. "Create time pressures and constraints. Your story's momentum might build gradually at first, but soon it becomes a race against the clock, and it accelerates as it rushes towards its fateful climax."
Now, for a little bit of "housekeeping"…you know, those nasty typos, small errors in grammar and punctuation...in this section, we'll look at attribution (a.k.a. dialogue tags).
Lots of writers have punctuation issues when it comes to dialogue tags. Here are a few quick rules:
When the tag comes first, you must follow it with a comma. Ex. Judy looks at Laney and says, “Okay. Let’s take my car.”
When the tag follows the quotation, two things happen:
The tag begins without capitalization. Ex. “No,” she says, fingers still typing at the keyboard.
The quotation ends with a comma. In other words, the comma replaces the period at the end of the quote. “No,” she says, fingers still typing at the keyboard.
If the tag breaks up the quotation, then the quotation will carry on without capitalization. Ex. “Are you,” she pauses to glance down at his mismatched socks, “okay?”
Remember, to produce engaging works you should, bridge connections, insert struggle and strife, pull out your thesaurus and revise your dialogue. Your readers will reward you with positive reviews.
Finally, have FUN and get busy writing!
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