Monday, June 22, 2015

The rhythm of writing

Have you thought about it? Like poetry, prose has rhythm too. If it doesn't it should have. Rhythm is one of the things that helps your writing flow and will engage readers whether they understand this aspect of writing or not.

Below is a good description of rhythm:
 Rhythm is achieved by varying the length and type of sentence structures. (See the Handbook section that describes the four basic sentence types.) The aims here are 1) to avoid overusing any one sentence structure in a way that becomes a distraction to the reader, 2) to move gracefully back and forth between the clarity of simple sentences and the richness of complex sentences, and 3) to evoke the rhythms of your own vocal style, with the same rising and falling of pitch, the same ebb and flow of phrasing between breaths. The only way to achieve a natural rhythm is by reading your work aloud. If your writing is "hard" to read because you run out of breath in the midst of too-long phrases, or because a turn of phrase strikes your ear as oddly out of character, nothing you would ever really say, then the rhythm just isn't right. If, on the other hand, the words on paper are really you, you'll know it by how pleasing it is for you to read out loud . . . even if you're so shy that you do your reading in a closet! ~~

The words set the backbeat and the fingers follow the melody in your mind --David Boles

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Do readers enjoy spending time with your characters?

   After 13 years and 20,000 words worth of work on my novel (can you tell writing fiction has been a very part time hobby with me?), I discover that I really do not know my characters very well. No wonder my story gets bogged down so often!
   I confess. I have been a lazy writer.
   So, I resolved to remedy that, and invested quality time into getting to know my characters better. My goal is to shape them into people readers will want to spend time with.
   Recently, I was inspired by watching a sit-com where one of the characters described a personality defect of another character in the same show. As character number one spoke derogatorily about character number two, I caught a  vision of the actual creation of character number two. In my mind's eye, I could see the playwright jotting down notes concerning a major personality flaw of that character. This flaw was so distasteful, that it made her recognizable when she was being spoken of, even if she was not called by name in the conversation.
   That playwright did their job well.
   I also want to do my job well. So to that effect, I have researched some resources to help in character building activities and have found some really good ones.
   Thanks to Sherry Wilson, who has provided some excellent resources for the fiction writer, I feel my characters are on the way to becoming well rounded, believable, people my readers will (hopefully) become insatiably curious about.

Sherry's worksheets can be accessed free of charge at the following link: .

Choosing a Writers Group

Writing can be very isolating work.  So, I found some writers groups--both online and off--and have enjoyed interacting with other writers. But, I also found the interaction cut into my valuable writing time and found myself frittering away too much writing time while enjoying, and definitely profiting from, the interaction.

 On the whole, though, I found writers groups to be rich sources of support, inspiration, and information.

Experienced writers tend to be generous in sharing their knowledge. The only caution I would give someone just starting out in their writing career or ministry, is to limit time spent interacting with the groups (writers groups tend to be very active) and make certain the overall goal of the group is in agreement with your goals.

Figuring out what your writing goals are might take some time, and you may end up joining some groups that you find are not compatible with your writing goals. No matter, bid a friendly adieu and find a group you are more compatible with.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Show Don't Tell: Texturize Your Writing

  Telling can be good. Showing is always better. So, whenever possible, show--don't tell. 
   If a fiction reader cannot experience what they read using all five senses (as the story allows), they are likely to put the book down and move on to something more interesting. Adding emotion, sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing to a scene is called texturizing.

Consider the following scene before texturizing:

   “It was a brilliant morning for a fishing trip. Jason’s father, Detective Charlie Wright, had promised to take him fishing for weeks, but work had always interfered. Finally, his father managed to take a day off. Apparently it had cost many favors, but he had pulled it off. They were ready to go, fishing equipment tightly packed into their horses’ saddlebags. Just as Jason mounted his horse, he saw the police station’s messenger riding toward them. His heart sank. This could only mean one thing. There was an emergency at the station.”

The same scene after texturizing
   He swung his leg over the saddle and slid his foot into the stirrup. Jason thrilled to the freshness of the dawn and the strength of the horse. Finally! The long awaited fishing trip with his father was happening.
   How many times had it been planned and then cancelled? So many Michael had given up hope it would ever happen. What favors it had cost Detective Charlie Wright to get the time off, Jason would never know.
   He didn’t care.  
   With reins in one hand and fishing poles in the other, Jason and his father urged their horses into a trot. The rattle of bridles and squeak of leather blended with sounds of birdsong, and the pristine morning glittered with promise as movement up the lane caught their attention.
   Jason's chest tightened.
   A patrol car.
   He swallowed, but the bitter taste of disappointment stayed in his mouth. What made him believe he would ever come first before his father’s career? A cloud of despondency descended and wrapped him like a shroud. He stopped for a moment, then turned his horse around. Might as well unpack the fishing gear. Of course there would be an emergency at the station….

Good Article on texture: