Stir Their Hearts. Make Their Skin Crawl.

 

Fiction entertains. It mystifies. It sometimes makes us cringe. It oftentimes invites readers to experience different worlds…odd creatures…unusual circumstances. It makes us laugh. It makes us cry. It stirs our hearts…

Non-fiction informs. It often tells of heroes, the downtrodden. It recounts historical events and the people who lived through them. It takes us to different countries, cultures, and peoples. It entices us to travel and experience all that our world has to offer…

As writers, we hold within our pens the power to spark many different emotions in the hearts of our readers: fear, surprise, empathy, anger, love—the list is endless. We take them on a wild ride, of sorts. And, they love it.

Their hearts pound. Their skin crawls. Their tears flow.

They crave it. We deliver it.

But, by the end of the book we need to wrap it all up. Sometimes neatly…sometimes not so much.

For myself, I choose endings that encourage, uplift, offer hope.

In this fast-paced world full of hurting people, in this climate of unrest and uncertainty, my goal is to give readers something to hold onto.

When they read that last page and turn out the light, I want them to rest a little easier, feel a little safer. I want them to have experienced relatable characters that have triumphed over insurmountable odds…who have claimed victory over negativity or self-doubt…who have learned a life lesson and emerged the better for it.

I want my books to change them in some way.

Maybe they’ll experience release from a false belief about their own self-worth. Perhaps they’ll be energized by an idea they find within its pages. Perhaps they’ll be inspired to reunite with a family member or old friend.

I want to give them the same thing I want from a good book: to emerge from the reading experience a little wiser, more sensitive to the needs of others, more open to change, happier—just different somehow.

 

 

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MILK IT!

There are times when my Critique Group writes “Milk It!” when commenting on some of my scenes. What they are saying is that they want MORE than I have written.

MORE ACTION

MORE EMOTION

MORE INTERNAL THOUGHTS

MORE DESCRIPTION

MORE CONFLICT

Why? Because that’s what makes a story exciting and satisfying. If you want your book to be a real page turner, then a writer has to deliver ON EVERY PAGE.

DON’T SKIMP.

PLUMP IT UP. Use rich vocabulary. Lots of adjectives and verbs. Paint a visual picture.

Furnish the details. Let them get inside the characters’ heads by revealing their emotions via DIALOGUE, ACTIONS, AND THOUGHTS.

PUMP UP the plot. Make the content EXCITING. Make your reading audience want to keep turning the pages.

I know I have read books that were so exciting that they literally kept me up ALL NIGHT. I just couldn’t put them down.

That’s what writers want, isn’t it? To have our readers so completely drawn in by our characters and their journeys that they just can’t turn out the light and go to bed.

When I am done writing a chapter, I set it aside until the following day. Then, I read it again, with the eyes of a READER. I look to see if the first paragraph “hooks” me, if I want to keep reading to the end, and then if the closing sentence leaves me wanting more.

If so, I start writing the next chapter. If not, I look for where there is lagging action, conflict, emotions, thoughts, and/or descriptions. Then, I re-write, adding those elements.

I repeat the process until I am WOWED.

Then, it’s ready for the critique group. If they are WOWED, then I’m a happy camper. If they are WOWED, I know readers will be, too.

So if you have a nice little story which is lacking in PIZAZZ, why not make it a page turner?

Spice it up.

Change it up.

Shake it up.

MILK IT!!!!

Brenda

In The Zone

Ever have a thought that triggers a similar thought, that triggers another, and another? When looking at granola bars at my neighborhood market, yesterday, I saw one called “The Zone”. That made me think of the diet book I read last year. That led me to thinking about the Olympics and a comment made by one of the gold medalists, saying that he did especially well because he was “In the Zone.”

Even though I try to write everyday, I must confess I am not always in “The Zone”—that sweet spot from which I write perfectly. The words just flow. The Point of View Character speaks, authentically. I see the action take place in my own mind’s eye and it translates, precisely, to the paper, via the keyboard.

Yeah. In “The Zone”, there’s no anxiety, other than the suspense in the story, itself. I’m able to express myself just the way I had hoped. Why, it’s effortless!

So, how do we know such a place exists? And, if there truly is such a place as a “zone”, then how does one get there?

Well, I’m no expert, but I have experienced being in “The Zone” a few times. Was my arrival there purely accidental or was it due to some extraordinary effort on my part?

It seems to be that I am closer to writing in “The Zone” when I get caught up in my story, emotionally. When I actually become the character I’m writing about.  That sometimes happens when I take the time to give myself what I call “a flying leap.” That’s when I go back a chapter or two from where I finished off the day before and then read forward to that place where I stopped. Then, I just continue to write on. This gets me back into the character’s skin. I get immersed in the world of my story, again, and let myself feel the emotions that drove my writing the day before.

So, whether we’re talking about a school zone, a safety zone, or a time zone, it seems that being in one is a pretty good place to be. It’s that almost-magical place from which thoughts freely flow and fingers fly across the keyboard. Maybe it’s just another name for that unique world in which writers write at their optimum.

I hear my husband shouting from his man cave about a football player taking the ball into the END ZONE. I guess I’ll paddle down the hall and see what that’s all about…

Ever experience writing in the “pocket”, the “sweet spot”, or “the zone”? Write and let us know how you got there!

Brenda