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Posts Tagged ‘Writer’

Horror Reveal

Traci Kenworth

 

Is it better to reveal the monster in the beginning all at once or to show glimpses as you go along? I prefer doing the snaps, the flashes that make the characters wonder: what’s out there? To tease the reader with your monster leads to a build-up that you must pay off in the end, each time the monster enters, you show a bit more than before. The teeth. The claws. The horrible, stinky breath. Each reveal getting a little closer and in-your-face. That’s how you build suspense, that’s how you make your reader gasp when the reveal happens.

When you go all out in the beginning, there’s no mystery, nothing to make the terror in your heart grow. Most horror writers know this and stick to this pattern. You don’t show the thing in the basement in scene one, but make the reader hear it, smell it, imagine it in their minds before you bring it on stage. It ups the ante, so to speak. So when, at last, that door opens and the thing creeps up behind the hero or heroine, we anticipate/shrink in fear/scream at what they see when they turn around.

What do you think? Show things up front, or take it slow?

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A Writing Kind of Day

A Writing Kind of Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Are You Regulating Writing Time to the Background?

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

It’s so easy to let time get away from us. Letting time slip away that’s reserved for writing here and there due to errands, appointments, life is hard to get back. I know I’ve been going through this for a while now and it’s like being stuck in a whirlwind. You promise yourself you’ll make that lost time up another day, another hour. The problem is, every day we face the risk of losing more. Soon, it becomes a pattern, dare I say, even a habit to skip? Surely when life stops being so complicated, we can get back to our Muse. If we don’t put up a stop sign—even for just ten minutes out of our day—writing becomes less important to us.

 

Now, I know there are days we can skip on occasion, but when it adds up to weeks or even months, we’re ultimately hurting ourselves. It’s tough enough to make it in the writing world without becoming our own worst enemy. Not spending time doing something you love (and I assume you love writing, why else would you do it?), makes it easier to let it slip to hobby status and then just fall by the way side. It’s hard to say, “No,” you can’t do something when you’re a writer. After all, the majority of people in your life assume it won’t be a bother to you to take care of something. Your writing doesn’t account for bosses, time cards, and set hours. So letting things slide shouldn’t matter.

 

Oh, if they only realized. Writing is a business. If you don’t do it, you don’t get a chance to be published, an opportunity to be paid by your bosses (the publishing house/s). So don’t feel guilty for scheduling time to write. More time writing also equals more growth in your work. Take the time. Stick to it. Schedule appointments around it as much as possible. Now, this is not to say, emergencies won’t come up and I’m not saying to ignore them when they do. Just don’t let your set time become less and less until there’s nothing there anymore. Because getting the Muse to work again, takes a long time. That’s time that could be spent moving on to the next level in your career. Lesson learned. Now, to get back to it.

 

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A classic fairy with a wand

A classic fairy with a wand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When the Muse Strikes…

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Often, if you’re like me, the Muse strikes whenever it wants to. Sometimes, it’s convenient, sometimes not but if you’re a writer, you learn to deal. Do I lose some fragments of ideas when I’m driving or at the doctor’s office? Sure. It happens, but most of the time I can capture those clues with the help of the pens I keep in my purse and various post-its, scraps of notebook paper, even napkins. Hey, whatever works. This weekend I was recovering from surgery when I had some complications hit me. Needless to say, I spent a LOT of time resting and while I did so, who should show up? The Muse fairy. She tickled her wings and voila, the solution to some of my world’s problems rested in my palms.

 

Things that should have been obvious in my character’s universe suddenly clicked. Not only that, I discovered the title and plotline to how the 3rd book (all of these written to be stand-alones) rocketed into place as well. Sometimes, it just takes a bit of quiet, a bit of reflection to uncover what will/or should be. I feel more on firm ground again and I’m ready to move forward. Happy writing, everyone.

 

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Writer's Stop

Writer’s Stop (Photo credit: Stephh922)

 

Procrastinating…and the details

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Procrastination has been a serious wrench in my editing/rewriting as of late. Doubts sometimes creep in when we’re working on a project and this was no exception. Not misgivings about the story, but, well, me as a writer. Around me, I’ve watched others moving on with their books, getting published, receiving awards etc. while I’m still in the same place. Although, really, I’m not. In the same place. I’ve been learning, growing, coming to terms with things. I think it’s a path a lot of writers take in their journey, sort of losing that momentum, falling behind. The truth is, we need that to happen in order to re-focus on why we’re doing this, who we are, and to realize everything will fall into place when the time’s ready.

 

This is the time when some writers fall by the wayside, lose hope, and walk away. What’s more, I’m sure from what I’ve read on other author’s experiences, that it won’t be the last time something like this happens. You’ve got to decide whether you’re going to let circumstances make you or break you. I’ve decided to persevere. It hasn’t been my time yet, but one day, it will be. Since last fall, my writing has slid to a crawl in pace. Slowly, now, I’m picking up speed. It didn’t happen overnight. I’ve had to fight to get there but Spring is dawning. There is hope. Reading over my wip, I realize, I have something here. I have only to open myself up to the possibilities.

 

Ideas are brimming, popping up when least expected. Avenues that make sense, that excite the story. One day, I hope to be able to write as fast as I used to, but for now, I’m taking it one day at a time, knowing that I’m headed in the right direction. I may not get there as fast as I wanted to, but I’ll get there. How about you? Do you feel like giving up or have you walked away in the past, only to return anew? Hold on. You’ll reach where you’re going, it just takes time. I know that’s a pulling teeth answer, but it’s the truth. Juggling this life is tough in itself. That’s why we need each other’s support in this. Cheer your fellow authors on because in doing so, you’ll lift yourself up to the next level and soon, it’ll be your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

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Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

The Confident Writer

Traci Kenworth

 

When I first began to take this journey to write for publication, I still viewed it through

the lens of an unsure writer. I lacked discipline, a regular schedule, and knowledge of my craft. I was ready to grow, I just wasn’t sure how. That’s why writing in itself is so hard to teach to another. It takes a drive, a confidence in yourself that builds over time through experience. What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa.

Something happens as you practice putting all those words together, into forming

sentences, and developing your writing. There’s no style at first. The story part is not quite there. You have the passion, but not the know-how to breathe life into your stories. Don’t give up. There’s untapped magic there waiting to be brought to the surface. Each of us will approach the study part of writing just like the journey itself.

I started with craft books. Tons and tons of them. A writing course here and there. They

helped but I still wasn’t seeing what I wanted to in my stories. I studied my favorite writers, even first-time novelists to find the key. What I discovered was this: there is no key. No one can tell you how to do it. Because the trials and tribulations we all experience are like life: no two paths are alike. They diverge at points sure, but the getting there happens different for everyone.

The next part of my journey involved cps (critique partners). I had some bad and good

ones. Those were more lessons that helped me grow. I was still unsure of myself at this point, not trusting myself to go with my gut about things. Along came one of the best things to happen to me as a writer: I met a wonderful cp who introduced me to a writing group called yaff (YoungAdultFictionFanatics). These ladies took me under their wings and taught me how to write a story, queries, etc. Some of which I didn’t realize were necessary in my earlier efforts.

Under their tutelage, I have seen my writing go from shoddy to better. I won’t say I’m an

expert. I doubt any real writer ever thinks their work is good enough. But I have seen the potential for telling a good story emerge over the last year. I can look at something I wrote a long while ago and something current and see a vast difference. The growth I was seeking is there. I’ve learned that I don’t ever want to stop learning. Perhaps, in truth, there is a key to be learned after all. It comes in having a confidence in yourself, in seeing a truth to what you put down on your paper.

You have to learn to let go, to let your writing happen, to trust that you’re doing what the

story needs, when it needs it. Talk to your characters, build those settings, but don’t forget: everything begins with you. Your life lessons, the study of your craft, and building writing relationships. Don’t try and be some other writer. Be yourself. You’re unique. No one will ever approach the story you’re writing the way you do. That’s where you find your voice, that’s where your path widens to draw in the things you’ll need to continue your journey. Confidence will grow inside you and that will help you face the rejections, the pitfalls, and the bad breaks then when you reach the horizon, everything before you will be blessed. Good luck on your journey.

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Writing in the Dark

Traci Kenworth

 

I used to write religiously with an outline as I’ve said on here before but lately, I’ve been “writing in the dark” so to speak. Which is to say, I’ve thrown out my outline with my current project and what I’ve begun to do is to take each chap as one/or several long scenes and jot down notes before writing the chapter. Then I proceed to the next chapter and start the process over again. I’ve discovered a freedom in this type of writing and it’s really opened up the creative doors for me.

Part of why I’ve down so is reading several Stephen King interviews as well as going back over his The Stephen King Companion. He’s admitted he isn’t one for knowing exactly how a story is going to go, but with his writing, “finds what he needs, when he needs it.” I’m paraphrasing here, these aren’t his exact words, but I’ve found this to be true when it comes to my own writing. See, I was having a hard time getting enthused about a wip when I knew what was going to happen down to the ending. Writing this way lately, has multiplied the possibilities.

I’ve found new life in my story, my cps are enthusiastic about it, and it’s turning out to be one of the most complex stories I’ve written. So, it just goes to show, sometimes if you throw all the rules out, you find the will to go on, and what’s more, you’ll soar in your efforts. How about you? Are you an outliner or a pantser or a little of both? Any tips on how to do writing your way that you think might help others?

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Cover of "So Many Books, So Little Time"

Cover of So Many Books, So Little Time

Reading: How Important is it to Writers?

Traci Kenworth

 

The more you read, the better you become as a writer. You’ve heard this before from other authors, people in the industry, etc. But the question is: how important is it?

Very.

When we read, we open our minds to knowledge, entertainment, and more. Some of this “more” is learning about character arcs and how to introduce them and sustain them throughout the story. We learn about the importance of plot, hooks, how to build a book and how to come up with a fantastic ending. We do this by studying what’s on the page.

If we don’t read, how can we know what’s out there? How can we grow to know and love characters that inspire us in creating our own? What adventures are we missing out on? It doesn’t have to be great literature at our fingertips. It just has to appeal to you. Comic/graphic books. Fiction. Non-fiction. This genre or that. There’s something to be learned from everyone.

Nor would I confine myself to reading just one type either. To read out of your area of expertise will broaden your horizon. I read almost everything I can get my hands on. There are a few that I have a hard time getting into—biographies, hard science fiction, and adventure novels. Although, recently, I picked up a copy of The Ice Limit by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and was surprised by it. I usually don’t care for suspense, but give me a Linda Howard or Nora Roberts novel and I’m there.

You see, it all has to do with taste-testing. We do it with our food. We don’t take a lot of something we don’t like/if anything at all, but sometimes we find we like what we try. I can’t imagine sitting in a room surrounded by books and never pulling one from the shelves, never appreciating an author’s words. And with e-books today, there’s a whole new virtual library opening up for us all. Books of poems, horror stories, love stories, stories of hope and promise, it’s all in there. So don’t read a little, read a LOT, because with each book you’ve covered, you’re discovering and pushing boundaries into your stories.

Another book might inspire us to find a solution for something we’re working on. Albeit, I’m not suggesting stealing the exact same idea from someone else’s books but expanding on what we have in our own fictional worlds. How many authors out there have “borrowed” the vampire, werewolf, or Frankenstein image? How many more will? It all comes down to coming up with something original about them. And we do this by learning what’s out there.

Reading is so important in teaching our craft. It’s both a blessing and a curse. A blessing to open our imagination, a curse with so many books, so little time. But every minute spent in a page is so worth it. It sharpens our intelligence, sails us to faraway places, and grows something on the inside of us. So pick up that book and another after that. Go ahead, get inspired.

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young life

young life (Photo credit: lorenzo cuppini verducci)

When Life Gets in the Way

Traci Kenworth

 

You’re going along strong, every word is falling into place, every scene playing off of each other when *boom* something in life happens. It can be a car accident, the birth of another/or your first child, or as often happens, health problems. What do you do when any of these events happen? Do you give up? Put your writing away for a while? Struggle through?

For me, the keeping on seems to not only help but to get me over the hill and coasting along again. I won’t say it’s easy. In fact, sometimes, it’s a downright rough but things can and do turn around. How? Brainstorming. Jotting down anything and everything that comes to mind on a story helps get the creative juices flowing.

So, too, does pressing forward on a piece. Maybe you only get two lines down, that’s still an accomplishment. It’s setting you up for the next move, and the next one after that. Just keep pushing the boundaries and you’ll find yourself getting further immersed in your wip again. And before you know it, “the end,” will come along.

Any tips on how to keep going when things get tough? I’m sure we all have our own way of pounding on those keys and making our book open up to us again. I’ve found when life throws serious situations my way, to turn back to my writing, it’ll pull me through. And often, when the scare is over, I not only faced it to the best of my ability, I also have a lot to show for my efforts. How about you?

 

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Cover of "The Elements of Style, Fourth E...

Cover of The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

Craft Book Review: The Elements of Style

Traci Kenworth

 

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White is one book I think every writer has not only heard of but has on their bookshelf somewhere. If you don’t, and you’re serious about your writing, download a copy or pick one up asap. I can’t stress enough how helpful this book is, it’s like a writer’s best friend.

It is broken down into five sections: Elementary Rules of Usage. Question about whether to use the ’s on a possessive singular noun? It’ll make things clear. Do not join independent clauses by a comma. Use the proper case of the pronoun. On and on this section goes for those days when you’re sitting stumped about using a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption.

Section Two is Elementary Principles of Composition such as choose a design and stick to it. Using the active versus the passive voice. How to place the emphatic words of a sentence, so that it has the most impact. Here, I found the meat of a writer’s trade. We’re always looking for advice for how to begin, what rules to follow, and how to bring things alive for our reader. It’s in here. And more.

While section Three gives of A Few Matters of Form, section Four hits on Words and Expressions Commonly Used. It is Section Five that I loved the most however. It’s about an Approach to Style. Those of you starting out might want to peruse this to learn about your Voice and how to find it, practice it, and refine it. It shows you how to place yourself in your writing. And that is a value to learn to make you more attractive to an agent and editor. The book says an aging practitioner once remarked, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” I think we need to know all the bases before we can truly explore and break the rules.

For instance, I don’t like to end a sentence with a preposition. I’ve been taught that was wrong, but this book explains that not only is it acceptable but sometimes it is in a more effective spot than anywhere else in the sentence. I. E. “A claw hammer, not an axe, was the tool he murdered her with.”

This is one little book that’s going on my desk for quick reference. I’ve had it here before, of course, but it’s been many years since I’ve cracked its page. I will now, when the moment strikes for clarity. I hope you open it to find your own nuggets, it’s truly a treasure to behold, and deserves a high place on any writer’s list.

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P writing blue

Image via Wikipedia

A Life-line

Traci Kenworth

 

Just when you think of packing things up, that everything is stacked against you, and you’ll never succeed in this pursuit of writing, something good happens. It can be as simple as a kind word directed at your blog, requested material, or a renewed determination, despite the odds, to go on. Treat all of them like the gift they are. They are your new lease, your next step on the tier to where your writing will take you.

When I started out, I just wanted to be able to touch one reader with something I’d written. Now that I’ve reached that goal, I want more. Those are the rungs you climb in pursuit of your dreams. When I was younger, they seemed impossible to reach. Now, I realize it was because they were the wrong ones. I was never meant to be a vet, an office worker, or hundreds of other jobs out there. My passion has always been my writing though I was turned from it time and time again.

I think it’s a shame that the corporate world treats artists this way. We’re not easily put into a box, so they force us into corners, often into careers that we hate or learn to tolerate to put money in our hands. I know there are some programs out there for us artistic types, but they are few and far between. We may not make it in the length of time we’re given. I’ve been writing for many years. I’ve completed eight books to date and the lessons I’ve learned I wouldn’t trade for one more day behind an office desk. Fortunately, I’m able to write full time now and I love it. It’s a sacrifice sometimes, but worth it for me. This is not to say that you can’t have a thriving career at something else you love and write as well. There are some people who do, I know. It just didn’t work for me.

My ambition has turned to increasing the numbers of people who read my work, to landing that book/s deal, and someday hitting the New York Times Bestselling list, maybe even winning an award or two. A little encouragement, you see, goes a long way. When we pass it around, it comes back to refuel us, and keeps us climbing those ladders. So, if you like what you’re reading tell the person who wrote it, mention it to others, and pass along the goodwill. It will return to favor you, you’ll see. That boost up to the next level will bring a smile to your face and a skip to your step. It really is all about giving. The reader wants to read something that makes them experience the journey, gives them hope, points them in the right direction. Give and you shall receive.

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