Making Emotions Real

“Sometimes, the saddest parts aren’t where the character is crying. Sometimes, the saddest parts come from when they’re trying not to cry.”

This quote has changed the way I write.

I realized, after reading it fifteen times and pondering on it for a long while, that whoever came up with this is absolutely correct.

I mean, come on! Have you ever been reading a book, going along and enjoying it, and then you realize there’s this one character who is constantly bawling? (Guilty as charged, I have so yelled at a character for crying too much before.)

If you take a minute to look at real people, you’ll find that (more often than not) they don’t want other people to see them cry. And, therefore, they hold back the tears and set up their “I’m okay” facade. Just watch people around you every once in a while.

We’ve talked about how people have “tells” before. Well, people have what I call “emotion tells”. Like a tick that could be a quivering chin if they let it. Some people’s noses turn red when they’re trying not to cry. (I know a few.)

People are emotional by nature, but many also have a pride issue. For some reason, society has told us that crying make you look weak, and therefore most people don’t want to give in to their natural emotions. Because they think it will make them look weak.

Recently, I was writing a story where a character blames herself for stuff that keeps happening to both her and other people. Because of issues in her past, she also has abandonment issues.

Sounds like it could go really mushy really fast, with lots of tears and “don’t goes”, right?

Wrong.

I’m telling you, I actually cried writing her most recent scene. A scene in which someone she loves says they’re leaving. How did she handle it? Not with begging.

She stoicly, listlessly stood there and listened to him tell her he was leaving. She even let him yell at her. All the while, she watched the floor and distracted herself so she didn’t cry. Because she wanted to. Badly. He left, she shut herself in her room. Then, and only then, did she allow herself to let go and let it all out.

And you know what? Because she had been holding it in, and the tension had been building around it, it made the entire scene that much more powerful. That much more moving. Enough to move a reader (and writer) to tears over this character.

Do you want to hear a reader say, “Oh my gosh, I loved your book so much! It made me cry!”? Then maybe you should consider employing the method of hold it in until it has to get out.

If people are all fundamentally similar, doesn’t that mean your characters wouldn’t want to gush all over other characters? If your characters are real, why would they spill their guts with no reasonable motivation to do so?

Ponder that this week.

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I wanna hear about the first book that EVER made you cry. Or why you haven’t ever cried at a book. Ready? Set. GO!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

What I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo (Weeks 1 & 2)

Fourteen days in. Fourteen. Whole. Days.

Amazingly, I’ve only missed writing on ONE day so far. Usually I’m doing pretty horribly by now. That still leaves me with almost 2,000 words to make up. Joy.

Anyway, on to what I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo this year. Going on the last two weeks alone, I have learned one very important thing as I’ve worked my way from 0 words to almost 23,000. And that one thing is this:

Push through the pain!

I say this because, even though 1,667 words a day doesn’t sound like TOOOOO many, I’ve been having a really hard time getting that many out. Usually, I hit around 1,100 and the words dry up. My mind goes blank. I have no idea where the story is going next.

And that, my creatives, is where I have had to learn to push through the pain.

Those last 600 words can be terrifying and excruciating, but it hasn’t failed yet to be the best part of everything I’ve written. When you finally push through that wall that stands before you, you find jewels on the other side. A secret letter, an unexpected in jury. A love you didn’t know existed for your character. An amazing best friend.

Though it is so difficult to think past writer’s block, I’m learning!

Sometimes it’s easier than other. Sometimes I have to use a writing prompt (and, yes, that’s okay!) Sometimes I have to sit and ask myself “what could go wrong here?” and then write it down. (This is how I end up with things like helicopter chases. Who knew?!)

So, even if you’ve hit that wall. That writer’s block craziness! Just push through the pain and find the treasure on the other side. It will be worth it in the end.

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Do you love your stories? I’m sure I would too! This week, I’d love to hear either A) your summary, or B) Your first page of a recent story. I can’t wait!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

Why I LOVE NaNoWriMo

Okay, I admit, this is not one of my typical posts. And yet it is, in a way. Whatever, it’s confusing, moving on.

I’ve read both good and bad things about NaNoWriMo. Some people say it’s a horrible idea to try to write a complete novel in only 30 days. Others say it’s the ONLY way to write a novel. Some hesitant, on-the-fence people say they can see it either way.

I think NaNoWriMo rocks.

Why?

Because it’s actually a really good idea, and there are multiple reasons why.

Reason 1: Writing a novel in 30 days is the best thing that ever happened to me.

And why is that, you ask? Because I stopped second-guessing myself. I stopped over-analyzing. I stopped telling myself that there was “no way” I’d ever write something good enough. I just wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

Because I had to write so many words per day and had so few days to write it all down, my inner editor shut up and let my creative genius shine through. My first NaNoWriMo was 2014, and that novel – the one that came out of my creative side, not my formula side – is still one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever done.

Reason 2: Writing a novel in 30 days stretched all my creative muscles.

The first five (or so) days were awesome. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Finished a few chapters. And then it happened. I got stuck. Suddenly, I had no idea where the plot was headed. I had no idea what happened next. I was only about 5,000 words in. No! I couldn’t fail! This couldn’t be happening!

Needless to say, I didn’t have weeks to ponder and work through my writer’s block. I had hours. Maybe.

So I did what any self-respecting novelist would do.

I freaked out. I ate half a pan of cookies. And some chocolate. And a couple caramels. I paced my room for a while.

And then I sat back down at my computer, re-read the last few sentences, and pushed on. It was painful, not knowing where the story would go next. And some characters died in the process. But I did it. I stretched that creative muscle and overcame writer’s block in record time. And, as much as I loved them, I see now those character deaths were necessary to progress the plot.

Reason 3: NaNoWriMo is just plain fun!

Who cares if anyone else ever reads your NaNo Novel? The journey from blank page to 50,000+ words is FUN!

Whether it’s hanging out with the Word Sprinters on Twitter, joining a virtual write in on Youtube (via Google hangouts), or actually meeting up with fellow WriMo’s in your area, it’s nice to know that there’s an entire community of writers around the globe backing you up.

If for nothing else, join the NaNo community for one month and get some advice from writers around the world. You never know if they’ll have a different perspective on writing that you’ve never thought of before. It could be the best experience of your life. But you’ll never know unless you try.

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So… Are you planning on joining NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not?

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

The Reality of Loss

Two weeks ago, on what would have been a perfect Saturday morning, I broke my cardinal rule of writing. I looked away.

I know to some who haven’t been reading these posts long, that won’t sound like such a big deal, but really it was. Why? Because my cardinal rule is ‘don’t look away from anything because if you look away you won’t be able to write it accurately’. Because it takes something major to make me look away. Something like death.

You see, I looked away because I didn’t want to feel the pain of loss. Which brings us to the point of this whole blog post.

There are two things that are indisputably the hardest emotions to write. 1) Pain. 2) Sorrow.

Why are these so hard to write realistically? A couple of reasons.

First of all, no one wants to feel them. Ever. I have not met a single person who wants to be in pain or feel so sad that they can’t stop crying. And, yes, we can write what we don’t know, but it is so much easier to explain when you’ve felt it.

Secondly, these two areas of writing tend to come off as forced and cheesy no matter who you are or what level your skill set is at. I hate it when my writing sounds cheesy, don’t you?

What do we do to write these things more realistically? Well, we don’t do what I did. We don’t look away. But, to be helpful, I’ll give you some tips.

Tip #1 – The Art of Pain

In my YA novel, “The Half-Shape Child” (by the way, so excited because book two will be out next year. YAY!), there is a scene where one of the major characters is in serious pain. To give you some perspective, I’ll post an excerpt here:

Henry laid a hand to Collin’s forehead. “I’m trying,” he insisted gently. “You don’t have a fever, but you’re sweating like a pig. Obviously she poisoned you. When? When did she poison you?”

Realization dawned on Collin. He mentally kicked himself for being so stupid. “The salt,” he groaned. Arching his back didn’t help, but Collin couldn’t bring himself to lie flat anymore.

Henry nodded and took Collin’s pulse.

Collin knew it was thready. Whatever this poison was, it worked fast and efficiently.

“All right, we’re going to get you a full scan and a blood test right now,” Henry declared.

He picked up a syringe and took a sample of Collin’s blood. Collin watched as he plugged it into a machine and turned it on. He was immediately back at Collin’s side, wheeling the bed to a full-body scanner. It was a lot like an MRI machine.

“How is this helping?” Collin spoke through gritted teeth and tried not to think about the excruciating pain in his chest.

“Just trust me,” Henry insisted. “You know I took pre-med classes. Trust me on this, Collin. I’m going to find the antidote,” he lowered his voice to a mumble, “if I even have enough time.”

Collin heard the door to the scanner shut and tried to keep still as lights and rays scrutinized his entire body. That turned out to be easier said than done. By the time Henry finally wheeled him out of the scanner, he could barely keep his eyes open.

This is pain. It took me a long, long time to write that realistically. I had to really think through it. How would it feel to be in pain? How would it look? What would you do to get away from the pain? These are just some of the things you should be asking yourself, along with the medical question of: “What is happening in this character’s physical body? How would it come across on the outside?”

And these don’t only apply to physical pain. They also apply to emotional pain. Make the reader feel what your character feels.

I hope it comes across as realistic.

Tip #2 – Sorrow

I can tell you from experience that sorrow is a funny thing. Everyone expresses it differently. Some sit stoic and watch everything with vacant eyes. Others can’t stop crying. Some are okay until they really think about the “nevers” and then they’re an emotional mess. (For the record, I’m that third one.)

There is a difference between sorrow and despair. You can be sorrowful without being desperate. Sorrow doesn’t push that character over the edge into something they wouldn’t usually do. In fact, a lot of times the most effective showing of sorrow is when the character tries not to show emotion.

For some reason, when people hold in their emotions and refuse to let others see, refuse to be vulnerable, audiences cry for them. It’s a time-honored tradition that too few storytellers are using.

So, next time your character experiences a loss, don’t immediately have them go into hysterics. Sit down and think about how they would deal with it. What would they do to make themselves forget that loss? To ensure that they didn’t cry one single tear?

I hope this has been helpful and I hope you see sorrow and pain in a whole new light now. I love you all and thanks for reading!

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Got a story about pain or sorrow? Share it with me in the comments section!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

Learn the Language

What’s the first thing you do when you visit or move to a foreign country?

You learn the language.

And not just the spoken language. You learn the gestures that are permissible or impermissible. You take time to learn how their bartering system works. You learn what the people from the country love to do and what they’re not so fond of. You learn every aspect of the language they speak from the inside out.

“But, Megan, what does this have to do with writing?”

Good question. And one I’m here to answer.

When people leap into their preferred book or movie writing genre (fantasy, sci-fi, action/adventure, etc.), most of them don’t take time to learn the language. It’s the ones that do take that time who excel in what they’ve set out to do.

“What do you mean by ‘learn the language’?”

What do I mean? I mean that each genre has a language you should be learning.

Do a study for me, just to humor me. Pick up a Science Fiction book or movie and really listen to what they’re saying. You’ll probably hear a lot about lasers, teleportation, spaceships, and other fun stuff. Now pick up an Action/Adventure. Bullets, car chases, knives, and stalkers.

If you look at each genre, through multiple stories, you will find that each has its own set of rules and its own language to learn. People who read or watch those genres all the time have an innate ability to speak that language fluently, and without really thinking about it.

If you’re going to write a specific genre, I suggest you pick up a book or movie and start learning the language before you take one step further. Fans will know if you really speak their language or not, and if you don’t (I hate to say it) they’ll put down your stuff and call you a fake.

Just like any other language, the genre languages are more easily learned when you immerse yourself in them. When I sit down to write an Action/Adventure, I make sure I’ve spent weeks reading that genre and watching all my favorite action movies. The more time I spend immersing myself in those things, the better my writing becomes. Why? Because I’ve learned the language.

Don’t jump into writing a fantasy novel when you’ve been on a steady romance-only diet. (Just an example, exchange any two genres in there.) What you put in is what will come out when you sit down to write. Please, please, please do the world a favor and immerse yourself in the language. Learn it until you can’t possibly speak anything else. Until the syntax and sentence structure are fused into your bones. Trust me, your readers and I will thank you later.

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Your genre and your favorite story therewithin (book or movie). I want to know!!!

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

Kill the Bird

“Kill the bird.”

Okay, I totally realize that must seem like really strange advice to those of your reading this, because you have no point of reference for it. (“Kill the… bird? Why are we killing animals? What kind of sick sadist are you?”) But, trust me, it’s pretty genius. Just go with me on this, I’ll explain.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the little things in books. You know, the chair the character is sitting in or the mug she pulled from her cabinet. Little things.

Forget the big things for a while with me. Put aside the characters, the major settings, the plot holes, and even the main theme. Got it? Good. Now lean a little closer and study that little thing. Like a prop on a movie set. Pick it up, turn it around. Examine every little part of it.

“What does this have to do with killing a bird?!”

Shh. Calm down. Keep studying that little prop. Notice that crack on the side of the glass. Yeah, and what does it really say right there? Good. You’re doing great.

NOW I will explain what any of this has to do with a bird.

Like those things you were just examining, a pet is a “little thing” in a book. Like a prop. They’re there, but they don’t always show up as a major character.

For instance: I’ve been writing a story with a writer friend, and in this story there is a minor character that is a bird.

(A BIRD! I get it! Wait… what? You killed the bird?! Talk about a spoiler!)

Wait. Hey, hold on. You’re getting waaaay ahead of me here. Back up a tick.

In this story, there is a bird. Said bird is the pet of one of two main characters. Over the course of this story, we’ve grown very attached to this bird. VERY attached. To the point that, when bandits attacked and the bird went missing, both of us were very distraught because we honestly hadn’t anticipated this and had no idea what happened to the bird. Was it dead? Was it okay? Had it pecked its attackers to death?

If you’re still jumping ahead of me, you’ll see where I’m going with this. If you are with me, congratulations! Now I can tell you what the very important lesson is in this blog post.

We’re worried about the bird.

Whaaa…? (cue minion confusion face)

Let me repeat. We. Are worried. About the BIRD.

Remember when I said the bird wasn’t even that big of a character? Turns out, it didn’t have to be. For whatever reason, people (bless ’em) have the tendency to overlook the big things and pay attention to the small ones.

When we messed with that one little, tiny piece of the story, things exploded. (Not literally, but that would have been cool).

The two main characters bonded over a lost pet. It set up a great scene for the bird’s owner to have some introspection time and created a host of opportunities for metaphorical situations.

Again, for some reason, people are weird. Kill a character? Pfft, they’ve seen it before. No biggie, there are always ways to replace them or bring them back. Kill a pet or smash a small object? They go into overtime worrying (and some crying).

Are you looking for a way to make your writing more impactful? To rip out their hearts and dance on their graves while they weep uncontrollably over your book? (It sounds more maniacal than it actually is). If so, kill the bird. People quickly get attached to animals, pets especially. And what could be more evil than a villain who can kill an innocent animal and not feel an ounce of remorse?

I feel like I should end by saying that after a long and terrible ordeal (with lots of agitation and tears on all the writers’ parts), the bird is fine. She’ll live and life will go on. (AKA: no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post).

So… How are you going to make an impact? What can you do to “kill the bird”?

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I want to hear your stories about the small details!!! Whether you read it or wrote it, let me know what small detail changed to make you cry in a story you love.

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You.

#NeverForget

That’s what’s circulating today, September 11, 2015. #NeverForget.

Fourteen years ago, tragedy struck the United States of America. The hardest hit was New York City, but our entire nation felt it. It was the worst, most unexpected attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor, and it was an act of war.

Many people died that day, on September 11th, 2001. And our nation changed forever.

I remember where I was when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I was in my living room, a mere 7 years old, and I didn’t really comprehend what was happening. My mom and dad sat watching the news, in shock as they watched tons — literal TONS — of steel and glass crumble to the ground. The news replayed the fireball that used to be a plane over and over, and I remember the newscaster literally weeping as she explained what was happening.

You see, when something that catastrophic happens, everything changes. You can never go back to the way it was before. You can never regain the little piece of innocence that was lost. Even if you have to move forward, you must always remember. Remember so that next time we can do better. Remember so those who died won’t have died in vain.

Don’t lock yourself away and forget that it ever happened. We all know that history repeats itself, so we should strive our best to make sure this particular point doesn’t. An act of war should never be forgotten. An act of war should be remembered for what it was. And, as Americans, it should royally tick us off that someone dared to attack us ON OUR OWN SOIL! We’re supposed to be a free country, right? But what does it make us if we don’t stand up for ourselves and let others know they can’t mess with us and get away with it?

So, today, remember the fallen and remember those who fight for us. Remember that your freedom comes at a price to countless others. Respect them and thank them for giving up a piece of their life to keep yours safe.

#AlwaysRemember

#NeverForget

4 Lessons About Writing From “Hoodwinked!”

For those of you who are now wondering what in the world “Hoodwinked!” is, I will explain. “Hoodwinked!” is not only fun to say, (go on, try it!) but is also an animated movie from the early 2000s. The premise? To learn the “true” story of Little Red Riding Hood, a tale distorted by time. (Let it be noted that I know a lot of people who don’t like this movie, but I happen to think it’s pretty awesome and will continue to like it despite protests.)

There are tons of lessons we can learn from fairytales themselves, but that’s a blog post for another time. In this case, we’re taking lessons from the movie loosely based on the fairytale. They are completely different. So…

#1 – No Character is an Island Unto Himself

It’s true folks, this movie made me sit up and see the light on that point! No character exists in his own little bubble. All their lives interconnect, even when they don’t realize it.

There are several characters in “Hoodwinked!” who, at the beginning, seem random and unessential. Until you start to figure out the story behind the story. Suddenly, you realize these characters aren’t random and they are very essential to understanding what’s going on in the Forest. They bring with them a depth the story wouldn’t have had if they had been left out.

So don’t underestimate those characters that just happen to show up for a brief scene. What if they’ve crossed paths with your hero or villain (or both!) in the past? What if they know more than they’re telling? Think about how their life connects with the other characters’ lives, then see what depth your story has just developed.

#2 – Nothing Should Ever Be As It Seems

“Hoodwinked!” has one major writing advantage to other kids’ movies. Nothing turns out like it seems.

That crazed axe murderer? Not a crazed axe murderer at all. Granny floating through the clouds? Logical explanation. A seemingly random avalanche? Not random at all.

When writing, we should remember that people make assumptions, and those assumptions are usually very wrong. Don’t let your characters figure things out too quickly. Let them assume what they just saw was something completely different than what it actually was. It makes for conflict, and conflict makes for a great story.

#3 – Villains Aren’t Always Cut-And-Dried, Sometimes They’re Cunning

I won’t give the spoiler on this one, but the villain isn’t who you think it is. He’s unassuming. He’s a friend. But, behind the scenes, he’s orchestrating everything to make it look like someone else did it.

Villains don’t always seek the attention. Sometimes they’re villainous because they DON’T want the attention. They want someone else to take the fall so they can pick up the pieces and make a profit. Think outside the box when it comes to villains. Let them be someone you don’t think a villain normally is. Surprise us by twisting the story around until the REAL villain jumps out and says, “You didn’t see that coming?”

#4 – Keith Is Not A Scary Name

“…And Keith… get a scarier name. Really, who’s going to be afraid of a guy named Keith? ‘Ooh, I’m so scared, it’s… Keith.’ ‘Everybody look out, here comes… Keith’.”

The longer you think about it, the more you realize he’s right. Keith is just not a scary name. Friendly, maybe, and totally hero-sidekick-available. But not scary. Because of this movie I now realize I can never name a villain… Keith. This is a very important lesson, folks. Be sure to give your villain a scary name like Gunter or Nash or Vadislev. Not… Keith.

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Have you seen this movie and will you fangirl with me? BONUS QUESTION: Can you spot the Marvel Cinematic Universe reference in this post?

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You!

The Power of Prose

Words are magical.

I mean, think about it. With a simple turn of phrase, we can make people see exactly who, what, or where we want them to. With one carefully placed word, we can turn a sentence from sweet to creepy or vice versa. There isn’t much that our words CAN’T do.

I know, better than most, that this puts a huge weight of responsibility on our shoulders. What if we choose the wrong word? What if the word we pick isn’t strong enough? What if we fail to make it come across as we see it in our head?

All valid questions.

The answer is: we never know if we’ll have the desired effect until we let others see our work.

I know, it’s a Debbie Downer. But, the good news is that there are things we can do to make sure we get our point across exactly as we want it to come across. Let me ‘splain.

For those of you who write Suspense or Thrillers, you’ll want to know how to heighten suspense in your scenes. Thankfully, I have a pretty good idea how Suspense works, so here’s my number one suggestion to create the suspenseful scene you’re looking for. Ready?

Use short sentences.

That’s it. The shorter the sentence, the more clipped the feel of the scene. And don’t just use short sentences in your narrative, throw some into your dialogue as well. Fragments are welcome in a suspense scene, because it inherently tells your reader that something is terribly wrong. (Despite what people think, anyone who paid attention in English during middle school subconsciously knows their grammar.)

For those of you who write Romance (or any sub-genre thereunder), you’ll probably want to know how to show your readers how sweet one or the other person is without being super cheesy. So, my number one advice:

Use body language.

“In my writing? Really?”

Yes. Really. Over half of the ways people express how they’re really feeling is in their body language. Do they have a nervous tick? Do they have a habit of reaching to push the girl’s hair behind her ear? Anything like that can add loads of layers to a scene and, ultimately, a story. This is one of those instances where “Show, Don’t Tell” comes in really handy. Don’t tell your readers he likes her. Show them by his actions. Just like real people.

So, you romance writers, go plug in your favorite Rom-Com and take notes on how he shows he loves her.

For those of you who write Historical, you’ll want to know how to keep your facts straight.

Google.

There is nothing better. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, please find out if the words you choose for them to speak were actually spoken in your time period. Please. I’m begging you. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

For those of you who write Fantasy…

Okay, I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing for you. It’s all in your head. As I am not a fantasy writer, I can’t give advice on the subject, except to say pay attention to your plot holes.

So, advice for the day, pay close attention to your genre and READ, READ, READ!!!

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What genre do you write and what’s your favorite part about it?

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Did you like what you read today? Do you have questions, comments, or cat-killing curiosity about something? If so, please either comment on this post or visit the Contact page and drop me a note!

It was good to have you as a visitor today! Please drop by again, or become family by following the Write Knowledge. Thank You

Learning to Intrigue

I’ve struggled a lot while learning the craft of writing. A. LOT. And do you know what the hardest part is (for me, at least)? Catching and holding an audience. And, as I write romantic suspense, that’s kind of a problem.

So, here I am to tell you I’ve finally found the solution.

I have taken a lesson from the movies.

Let me expound. I found this solution for myself by thinking about what I want readers to feel like when they read one of my books. I sat down, I thought, thought, thought (Eh? Anyone? No?), and I said to myself “action movies”. You know the ones. The ones where you sit on the edge of your seat, bite your nails, and worry over whether the characters are going to make it out alive. And then, after I had nailed that down, I promptly sat down to marathon and take notes.

What fun tricks did I learn, you ask? Well, that’s why we have this blog post!

1. Keep the audience in the moment

This may sound like an impossible task, but it is accomplished by utilizing one simple tool. Withholding information. To keep in the audience in the moment you’re at, you only tell them what they need to know to understand the story thus far. Do not — I repeat, DO NOT — burden them with exposition. Keep them in that moment in time. Do not take them back in time. It is okay ON OCCASION to foreshadow something from the future, because we’ll need that in a minute.

Which brings me to point:

2. Foreshadow future events

Let me clarify. Not every single line of narrative has to foreshadow the future. Do not harp on people about how “If I knew now what I knew then” and “I would have chosen differently if…”! Just don’t. Foreshadowing is a tool to keep your readers/watchers guessing. If you keep using it over and over and over in an overt way, they’ll lose interest.

So, use subtle foreshadowing. That gun that has a tendency to jam. That squeaky door when you enter the house. That weird note the heroine gets at the beginning of the story. An “off” line of dialogue. Be creative. Be subtle.

3. Keep them guessing

I recently watched a new release where a character was introduced and we weren’t sure if she was totally evil or semi-okay. She was there to torture, but then she helped the hero escape. Everything she did could be taken for good or evil, and we didn’t know which way she would ultimately lean. You know what this did? It kept me guessing!

If your audience has seen the plotline before and knows that “Oh, hey, this is what’s going to happen next”, they’re a thousand times more likely to put your book down or turn off your movie. You have to keep them up in the air. Don’t solidify anything until at least the third act.

That isn’t to say don’t tell the audience anything. Give them hints, clues, snippets. They’ll read on.

Anyway, those are the major points I’ve learned while studying the action/adventure movie drama for tips. I hope you found them helpful, and I also hope if you have questions you’ll either comment or contact me. Here’s till next time!

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What are your thoughts on keeping readers hooked? I’d love to hear!

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