Tag Archives: writing advice

Writing Books with Emotional Savvy

Hello everyone!

Recently, an author friend of mine, Olivia Berrier, recommended I get The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I followed her advice. At that time, I also purchased The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

Both books help writers to find different ways of showing, rather than telling, how the character feels.

 

Emotional ThesaurusThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The front of the book has a section titled “Writing Nonverbal Emotions: Avoiding Common Problems.” The main portion of the book is the emotions thesaurus.

Each emotion spans two pages of the book and has the following sections:

  • Definition: a brief explanation of what the emotion is
  • Physical Signals: a list of physical manifestations of or reactions to the emotion
  • Internal Sensations: a list of internal manifestations of or reactions to the emotion
  • Mental Responses: a list of mental reactions to the emotion
  • Cues of Acute or Long-term Emotion: a list of different ways people react to feeling that emotion intensely or for an extended period of time
  • May Escalate To: the emotion(s) to which the featured emotion often morphs or intensifies
  • Cues of Suppressed Emotion: physical signals, internal sensations, or mental responses to trying to hide or hold in the featured emotion
  • Writer’s Tip: advice about writing emotions

 

Emotional Wound ThesaurusThe Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

At the front of the book are several article like entries. These offer advice about caring for oneself as a writer, defining what an emotional wound is, and raising awareness to how to develop and write about a character’s emotional wound.

In the thesaurus section of the book, the types of traumas that cause emotional wounds are broken into seven categories: Crime and Victimization, Disabilities and Disfigurements, Failures and Mistakes, Injustice and Hardship, Misplaced Trust and Betrayals, Specific Childhood Wounds, and Traumatic Events. Beneath each category are more specific events or situations. For example, two of the more specific situations listed under “Misplaced Trust and Betrayals” are “A Sibling’s Betrayal” and “A Toxic Relationship.”

Each event or situation resulting in an emotional wound spans two pages of the book and has the following sections:

  • Notes or Examples:
    • Notes talk about the event or situation and how it could have come about or impacted the character.
    • Examples sometimes contain the same information as a note and always have a list of causes or very specific events or situations. For example, two of the perpetrators/situations listed under “Being Bullied” are “A jealous friend or resentful classmate” and “Co-workers who were threatened by one’s status or prowess.”
  • Basic Needs Often Compromised by This Wound: universal needs that often are not met or not fully met when an individual has the featured emotional wound
  • False Beliefs that Could Be Embraced: a list of erroneous beliefs an individual might have as a result of the featured emotional wound
  • The Character May Fear…: a list of common fears for people who have the featured emotional wound
  • Possible Responses and Results: a list of ways people handle/respond (positively or negatively) to the featured trauma/emotional wound
  • Personality Traits that May Form: attributes and flaws that often develop as a result of the emotional wound
  • Triggers That Might Aggravate This Wound: a list of events, sights, or situations that might trigger the trauma/jab at the emotional wound
  • Opportunities to Face or Overcome This Wound: a list of situations or realizations that are difficult for the person who has the emotional wound

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.

Happy writing!

Katie

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Book Clubs: Making Them Part of Your Platform

Hello everyone!

book club 7I recently read an interview with Kathryn Craft, conducted by Donna Galanti: “Book Club Tips: Are You and Your Novel Book Club-Worthy?” I had never considered how making my book more appealing to book clubs could be a marketing strategy, but the points brought up during the interview made a lot of sense. I hope you find the interview as thought provoking as I did.

Happy writing!

Katie

Foreshadowing

Hello everyone!

Have you ever read a novel or short story and when you came to the end of it realized that the author had been hinting at the ending all along? This is effective foreshadowing.

foreshadowing-power-point-1-6-638As I have been editing my novel, The Four Crystals, I have been trying to sprinkle foreshadowing throughout the story without making the ending too obvious. It’s hard!

Below are three articles about foreshadowing and how to correctly incorporate it into your own writing.

For a quick overview of how to foreshadow, read “Narrative Elements: Foreshadowing” on Author’s Craft.

For some suggestions and examples of how to foreshadow, read  “Nine Examples of Foreshadowing in Fiction” by Harvey Chapman.

For a longer explanation of what foreshadowing is, a list of common literary methods used to foreshadow, and an exercise to help you spot bad foreshadowing (referred to in the post as “telegraphing,” but what I like to call “oversharing”), read “Foreshadowing – The Guide To Hooking Readers” by Mladen Reljanović.

photo(1)The main thing to remember about foreshadowing is that it should be subtle, like the aroma of food preparing you for a big meal. Two pitfalls to avoid are oversharing and not following through on foreshadowing (this does not apply to deliberate red herrings). Oversharing is like shoving food down someone’s throat. They don’t enjoy it. Equally bad is foreshadowing something and then not following through. This is like seeing a restaurant, smelling the food cooking, and then being told the restaurant is closed for the day. You leave the restaurant dissatisfied and angry.

Happy writing and good luck foreshadowing!

Katie

 

Writer’s Conferences

Hello everyone!

Back in June, I attended the 2017 New Jersey Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference.  I learned a lot and got to meet many interesting writers, illustrators, agents, and editors.

In her blog post, “How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference,” Julia Yong offers a writer’s conference packing list and tips for how to get the most out of a writer’s conference while there.

Although Julia’s packing list is very thorough, I would like to add four more items to it.

  1. Tissues – You never know when you or someone else will need one.
  2. Hand sanitizer or baby wipes – You’ll be meeting a lot of people.  If you or one of them are sick, you’ll want to be able to clean your hands.  Getting into a bathroom can be difficult at conferences.
  3. Band-Aids – Like tissues, you never know when you or someone else will need one.
  4. Dental floss – If you have a pitch session after a meal, you’ll want to make sure the agent isn’t distracted by something stuck in your teeth.

I hope you find “How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference” helpful when preparing for your next writer’s conference!

Happy writing!

Katie

Recommended Reading for Writers

Hello everyone and happy Father’s Day!

Due to additional job responsibilities, summer plans, and writing deadlines, I will be posting two times per month for the rest of the summer.

The more I write, the more I discover how truly essential reading is to developing one’s craft. There are two books which I believe every writer seeking publication should read and a reading strategy which, in my opinion, all writers should employ.

Book Recommendations

The Essential GuideThe first book is The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing: How to Write, Work, & Thrive on Your Own Terms by Zachary Petit. In his book, Petit offers advice on how to break into the freelance market, build a platform, write a professional query letter, conduct interviews, and more. Although his book’s target audience is freelance writers, much of his advice is valuable for those who do not wish to become a freelancer. In addition to being informative, Petit’s voice is very conversational and often humorous, causing the book to read more like a novella than a “how to” book. I highly recommend The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing to anyone who wants to write professionally.

Writer_s Market Deluxe Edition 2017Another valuable resource is the Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition 2017 (aka the writer’s Bible). It contains:

  • Writing Related Advice (i.e. how to write a good query letter, how to build a platform, etc.)
  • Lists of:
    • Literary Agents
    • Book Publishers
    • Consumer Magazines
    • Trade Journals
    • Contests and Awards

Other books which are similar in content, but geared towards specific genres are Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market 2017, Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2017, Poet’s Market 2017, and Guide to Literary Agents 2017.

Reading Strategy

Read in your genre. If you want to write poetry, read poetry. If your passion is science fiction, read all the science fiction you can get your hands on. Do you want to write short stories? Read short stories, especially ones printed in the publications you plan on querying.

The young adult novel I am currently editing, The Four Crystals, is an allegorical fantasy. Obvious books to read for this genre are The Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I hope you find these book recommendations and the reading strategy helpful.

Happy writing!

Katie

Responses to Stress: Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Hello everyone! Happy Memorial Day!

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz

Everyone reaches a moment in their life where they face a situation (physical, financial, emotional, relational, etc.) which feels too overwhelming to handle. There are three basic responses to these situations:thS1LJR4YA

  1. Fight – Work to resolve the problem
  2. Flight – Remove oneself from the situation
  3. Freeze – Avoid or ignore the issue

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to come up with a potentially crippling situation and write a short story about how the protagonist handles it. The issue can be internal (a health issue or mental disorder) or external (a difficult relationship, financial troubles, a sick loved one, etc.). You must have a goal for the protagonist to either succeed at or fail to achieve.

1. Beginning: Introduce your high stress situation and decide how your character will respond to it (fight, flight, or freeze).

Things for You to Consider as the Writer:

  • What is the protagonist’s attitude towards the situation?
  • Will that attitude change over time?

2. Middle: Come up with three ways that your protagonist will try to accomplish his/her goal and a minimum of one consequence for each action taken. I strongly recommend that the first two attempts fail or that they are only partially successful. The results of the first two attempts should add to your protagonist’s stress in some way. The protagonist’s third attempt should be your climax.

Tension 4Example Responses to Stressful Situations:

  • confiding in and/or depending on someone (e.g. God, family members, a friend, a therapist, etc.)
  • trying to manage stress through:
    • a healthy diet and/or exercise
    • impulse shopping
    • excessive eating
    • using a controlled substance (e.g. drugs, alcohol, etc.)
  • becoming depressed
  • responding irritably to people
  • making a major life change
  • etc.

3. Conclusion: Does your protagonist succeed or fail?

Happy writing!

Katie

Strong, Clear, Concise Writing

Hello everyone!

It is easy to recognize bad writing and to identify why it is bad.  However, it is harder to explain why a piece of writing is good.

Below is an article and an infographic which helped me to identify weaknesses in my own writing.  I also included some of the strategies I applied to correct these shortcomings.

Active VerbsIn writing, it is always better to show than tell.  “Don’t Use Adverbs and Adjectives to Prettify Your Prose” by William Noble explains when and how to use adverbs and adjectives.

Laurie Wallmark directed me to 5 Basic Rules of English Writing That Everyone Should Know (Infographic)” by Jennifer Frost.  After reading the infographic, I found that I am guilty of regularly breaking rules three and four.

Rule #3 – “Do not use words whose meanings you are not sure of.”

When I’m writing, I will sometimes use a word that I am 90% sure means one thing.  Before I started blogging, I liked my chances of having used the correct word.  Now, I either look up the word before using it or change it’s color in the rough draft, so I will remember to confirm it’s meaning later.  I’m glad I started doing this.  Sometimes, the word means exactly what I thought it did and other times the meaning is vastly different.

Rule #4 – “Use concrete rather than vague language.”

thV903596HI tend to be sparse in my descriptions of cities and scenery during travel sequences.  For example, I might write “While walking through the forest, a tree branch whacked him in the face.”  What type of forest was he in: coniferous, deciduous, or rainforest?  Is it dark or is there lots of sunlight?  Was the tree branch leafy, flimsy, spiky, thick, dry, etc.?  (Remember Noble’s advice concerning adjectives.)  Since I am more drawn to witty dialogue and dynamic characters than descriptions, it can be difficult for me to recognize this lack of specificity.

After acknowledging this tendency, I began training myself to watch out for bland descriptions in my writing.  First, I reread portions of The Hunger Games, Eragon, The Maze Runner, and Divergent to get a sense for how some successful Dystopian Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors described their worlds.  I also re-watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy, paying special attention to the different looks of elven homes (Rivendell vs. Lothlórien), human cities (Edoras vs. Minas Tirith), and the changing landscapes.  My brother, who studied film, recommended that I look at photos of whatever biome my characters are traveling through.  I could then assign the locations in my world specific photos and consult them before writing the descriptions.  I am hoping that these exercises will help me to eliminate vague language from my writing.

My challenge to you is to read “5 Basic Rules of English Writing That Everyone Should Know (Infographic)” and then look at your own writing.  Which rules do you regularly break?  After identifying them, take the necessary steps to reform.  Your writing will be stronger if you do.

Happy writing!

Katie