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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Split Personality #2When characters do the unlikely, impossible, or uncomfortable, they’re called Contorting Characters.

Characters often contort when you create compound sentences.  Sometimes the contortions aren’t horrible, and the reader will probably understand what the writer intended.

For instance, Jim walked across the room and looked out the door. By using and, it’s implied that Jim was looking out the door at the same time he crossed the room, which is certainly possible, but perhaps not what the author intended.  At best, it’s unclear, since the author could have meant that Jim crossed the room TO look out the door, or crossed the room and THEN looked out the door.

AND implies things occur at the same time.

TO and THEN imply a chronological order to events.

In our example about Jim, it probably isn’t a big deal if the reader misconstrues our meaning.  After all, whether Jim looks out the door as he’s walking, after he’s walking, or is walking across the room with the purpose of looking out the door may not make that much difference.

Sometimes, however, authors can have their characters doing the impossible.

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Taken from Jerry & Eileen Spinelli’s new book, TODAY I WILL: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself.

Jerry Spinelli – www.jerryspinelli.com

Eileen Spinelli – www.eileenspinelli.com

Jerry and Eileen will be answering questions right here at the Young Authors and Artists Group, so please send in  your questions for Jerry and Eileen.  Join the YAAGroup at www.yaagroup.org/join.htm

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When writing a story, you want a character that the reader is willing to follow for the length of the story.  That means making the character sympathetic in some way.  The character doesn’t have to be likable, but the reader has to identify and sympathize with them.  Here are a few ideas on creating sympathetic characters.

  • Give the main character something or someone to love.  It might be an elderly grandmother or her lost dog, but everyone loves someone or something.  Reveal it to the reader.
  • Use humor.  Main characters don’t have to be hilariously funny, but the ability to laugh at themselves makes them more likeable.
  • People usually root for the underdog, so stack the odds against the main character.

There are lots more ideas in the members’ section of the YAAGroup.org.

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showdonttellSomeone recently asked about “Show, Don’t Tell.”

Once you get the difference, it’s easy.

Let’s say you’re writing a story where it rains. If you’re telling, you’d say “It is raining.”

If you’re showing, you’d describe the sound of the raindrops pattering on the roof, the way the lightning lights up the room or the rainbow as the sun comes out, the smell of the wet leaves or the way the dampness makes your hair frizz.

Showing is description, but it can be emotion too.  An example of telling would be “I’m scared of the lightning.”

Showing would be “The flash of lightning lit the room.  A shiver ran up my spine and my heart stopped for a moment while I counted the seconds until the thunder roared.  Three seconds.  Too close.  My heart pounded and I dove under the covers.”

There’s lots more information on this topic in the Member’s Section of the YAAGroup.

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Taglines

Two 3d the person, talking on walkDialogue tags are the portions of dialogue outside the quotation marks.  They explain who said the dialogue or what they character is doing or thinking.

Taglines are the “he said, she said” type of dialogue tags.  You don’t always have to use “said” for a tagline, but it tends to disappear when the reader reads it.

Some verbs are fine taglines, but others are actually movements.  For instance, a character can say, mutter, ask, or yell words.  But you can’t laugh, sigh, growl, or giggle words.

The next time you write dialogue, watch your taglines. Make sure you don’t have a character laughing or growling their words.  Instead of using “That’s silly,” she laughed, try “That’s silly,” she said, laughing.

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You can add details and authenticity to your writing by calling on experts for information.  I used to think this meant interviewing psychiatrists and lawyers.  But I’ve discovered that anyone can be an expert. 

For example, if you want to write about The Beatles, an expert might be your neighbor who was a huge Beatle fan back in the day.  If your neighbor was a Beatles fan she likely knows their songs and maybe even went to a concert sometime along the way.

So imagine yourself and your neighbor sitting in your living room while she tells you about security at a Beatles concert.  Or maybe you’re at her kitchen table and she’s pulling out concert ticket stubs and Beatles posters.

Your research just got interesting!

Of course, experts aren’t always living next door, so a writer often has to contact strangers for information. I’ve called people who once had polio, talked to a funeral director in a graveyard after a burial service, and sent emails to the websites of botanical gardens and mental hospitals.  In every case, I’ve gotten enthusiastic help.

I used to be shy about approaching strangers but I’m learning that people who know a lot about a particular subject are thrilled to share their knowledge with me.  And the really neat thing is that one expert usually needs to another. Research is a never-ending adventure!

So, if you need information to write a story or article, be brave – send an email, pick up the phone, or knock on a neighbor’s door. Someone’s sure to be on the other side waiting to help.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Author, Historical Fiction

COMFORT (Blue sequel)

BLUE

HEALING WATER

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER

http://www.joycemoyerhostetter.com

http://www.joycemoyerhostetter.blogspot.com

TALKING STORY (E-Newsletter)

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Taken from Jerry & Eileen Spinelli’s new book, TODAY I WILL: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself.

Jerry Spinelli – www.jerryspinelli.com

Eileen Spinelli – www.eileenspinelli.com

Jerry and Eileen will be answering questions right here at the Young Authors and Artists Group, so please send in  your questions for Jerry and Eileen.  Join the YAAGroup at www.yaagroup.org/join.htm

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