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Posts from the ‘creativity’ Category

Do You Talk Aloud to Yourself?

All my life, I’ve talked aloud to myself (when I’m alone).  Whenever I realize I’m doing it–usually practicing what I’m going to say when I call someone with a specific reason for the call, or talking to someone specific, saying what I’d LOVE to say, but know I never will.  I’ve always wondered why I feel the need to do this, and now I know why.

It’s dialogue.  And I’m practicing writing dialogue, just as though I were writing it on a piece of paper or my computer screen.  All that jabbering aloud when I’m driving or sitting on the back porch, reading (I often realize I’ve started reading aloud, simply because the writing is so good I want to hear it aloud as well as in my mind), or working in my garden is simply my mind writing dialogue.  Most of it, I’ll never use in a book, of course, but it’s still practice for writing dialogue between two characters.

When I write, I use this same technique, but in a slightly different way.  I see everything I’m writing about in my mind, like a movie, and I write down what I hear and see, layer by layer.  Dialogue is almost always the first layer, with descriptions, action, foreshadowing of future events and such being added in other layers.  But dialogue is the heart of the story because people are the heart of the story.

I once had an idea for a novel where a man witnessed the death of his friend, then had to tell his friend’s wife about his death.  But he couldn’t bring himself to tell her, so he said nothing.  My goal was for him to remain silent for the first 100 pages of the book.  What a challenge that would be!  I would have to convey his thoughts, feelings, and expressions without using dialogue at all.  There would be inner dialogue, of course–his thoughts expressed as he would’ve said them aloud (introspection), but what he needed to tell her could not be said straight out.  But she’d know why he was there and what he couldn’t tell her, just from his expressions, the way his eyes filled with tears whenever she mentioned her husband’s name, and how, she sensed, that he, too loved her.  I’ll definitely have to think about writing that book someday–Miranda’s Tears.

I was sitting outside, reading, when I started talking aloud to the character in the book.  That’s when I realized I was practicing dialogue again.  And it made me very happy.  Because it’s behavior I suspect all writers exhibit from time to time.  🙂

Kiss Me, Chloe for Sale on Amazon!

Hello, everyone!  Mercy but it’s been a busy two weeks!  I put the finishing touches on Kiss Me, Chloe, sent it to my pre-publication readers for proofing and reviewing, entered changes (typos, etc) and PUBLISHED the book on my birthday, April 10, just as I’ve been planning to do for months!  The reviews will be appearing over the course of this next week.  If you’ve read the book and enjoyed it, I’ll appreciate your putting a review on the book’s page on Amazon.  The link to that page is on this website, along with the cover and the description.  And this past week, our six-year-old grandson, Joey, was here during his spring break from Kindergarten in New Mexico.  Talk about a busy week!  In between bike rides and movies and trips to the park, I was working on Kiss Me, Chloe.  No matter what else is happening, writers keep writing.

By Tuesday, I knew it was time to stop writing, though.  It’s something all writers know and something we all incorporate into the writing of our books.  The writer is too close to the book to be completely objective.  And, the writer is too close to catch all the picky errors!  In “Kiss Me, Chloe” I had her putting on tennis shoes, then later that day kicking off her sandals!  Two of my readers noticed and let me know so I could correct that picky little error and get a corrected version of the book on Amazon.

My proofreaders also catch little typos that I haven’t caught, even though I’ve read the book over and over during the writing.  I get caught up in the story and my eyes skim over those typos, time after time.

I write my books in layers.  When I’m writing the first draft, I get the story written without worrying about typos, inconsistencies, description, or anything other than getting the beginning, middle, and end of the story finished.  Then, comes the real writing.  Layer by layer, I go through and insert descriptions, emotional reactions, additional dialogue, and subplots.  By the time I start polishing, and seeing the final draft in my mind, I’ve probably added ten layers to that first draft.  The final book is much richer and more finely written than the first.

That’s what separates a professional writer from a casual writer.  Rewriting.  I might spend an hour on a few paragraphs, or maybe only a few minutes correcting inconsistencies, like the tennis shoes turning into sandals!  Other times, I may decide to revise the plot completely.  I may add a new character, or a new piece of action that will enable my readers to know the characters better and to think of them as real people.

There’s also a reality that all writers are familiar with.  The book is never really finished.  No matter how many times I reread what I’ve written, I’ll find changes to make.  When I realize that the changes I’m making are putting the words back to where they were two changes ago, it’s time to stop tinkering and declare the book finished.  For the time being, anyway.  Then, my pre-publication readers take over the proofing process.  I make the changes those readers find–but I try not to reread the whole book, or I’ll start tinkering again.

Yes, it takes months to write a 60,000-word book.  But it’s worth every minute I spend to know that the story I’ve told seems like a slice of real life to my readers.

I hope you’ll check out the Amazon page for Kiss Me, Chloe.  If it sounds like a book you’d like, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Click here to order Kiss Me, Chloe.  http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Me-Chloe-ebook/dp/B00CB7NHC8

 

BREAKING FREE!

Breaking Free!This amazing sculpture is called “Breaking Free!”  It expresses completely how I feel about writing fiction again!  How I feel about being able to write one novel after another–as I yearned to do when I started writing novels (learning how) more than 20 years ago.  I wrote one novel after another–none of them good enough to publish.

But writers have to LEARN how to write, just as doctors have to learn how to be doctors.  You wouldn’t just decide you wanted to be a brain surgeon and hang up a shingle and ask, “Who wants to be first?”  Yet, thousands of aspiring writers do exactly that.  They decide that being a professional writer would be fun, sit down at the computer, type something, print it, then mail it to a dozen editors, essentially asking, “Who wants to be first?”

Writing has to be learned, just as any other profession has to be learned.  It takes YEARS of study, trial and error, and getting thousands of words on paper to master the skills required to be a master writer.

Does it take years to be published?  No.  But a bestselling author once wrote that a MASTER writer controls the emotions of the reader.  If the writer wants the reader to laugh, the reader laughs.  Or the reader cries, or runs screaming from the room, as in the case of MASTER writer, Stephen King.  And, that same bestselling author wrote that in order to become a MASTER writer, it’s necessary to get a MILLION WORDS on paper.

When my first novel, GABRIEL’S HEART, was published in 1998, I added up the words from all the practice novels I’d written, then estimated the word count for the stories and articles I’d written to date.  I had just passed a million words.  I had learned how to write well.

I still don’t consider myself a MASTER writer, but I’ve learned how to include deep emotion in my stories, and even though romance editors often say that my stories have “too much plot,” my readers seem to like having a strong plot along with characters who seem like real people.  My characters seem like real people to ME.  And, I love books with plots that carry me along, wondering what’s going to happen on the next page or at the end.

Romances always have happy endings.  But how two people overcome the differences between them isn’t automatically known to the reader at the beginning of the story.  And that’s the plot.  My goal, when I plot a story, is to keep the reader guessing until the end.

Writing nonfiction means hours and days and weeks of intensive research, quotations, end notes, glossary words, timelines, lists of books, websites, and other sources of information to “Read More About It,” bios, fast facts, and an extensive bibliography of sources.

Fiction also requires research, but with a different purpose.  The research I do for fiction is done in order to help the reader believe that the characters are real people, living in a real place.  Research inserted into a story  creates a picture in the reader’s mind that’s just enough to keep the reader grounded in the story’s setting, but that leaves enough to the imagination for the reader to fill in the blanks.

You may see some crossover among our non-fiction book topics and my novels–research that finds its way from a purely factual presentation to the setting or plot of a love story.

By writing fiction again, I’m BREAKING FREE!!  I hope you’ll come with me on the journey.