Monday, May 18, 2020

Sorry guys, but I have to take a break from the blog. If you have been following my posts you'll know that I have a mental illness and have been struggling a lot more lately to deal with it. So, for right now, I have to take care of myself and do what is best for me and that means stepping back for a while. I need to make my mental health a priority right now so my main focuses for the time being will be work and writing my first book. 

If you are interested in how things are going you are welcome to follow me on Twitter. I'm pretty active over there and I always welcome new friends. 


Living and Writing With Depression

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This post is going to be a little different than most. I didn't plan this post out ahead of time. This is all coming straight from my head to the page. 

I don't talk about myself much on the blog, but you should know that when I was 19, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. That was a long time ago, but I still struggle everyday. My Bipolar Disorder is pretty stable right now but the Borderline disorder makes every day a chore. 

Writing Quotes To Inspire and Guide You (part 4)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I love quotes. I've been collecting them for years. There's just something about these compact bits of inspiration or advice that really appeals to me. I collect quotes that speak to me, teach me something, or motivate me in some way. But most of all, I collect quotes that help me feel a little less alone. Hopefully, you'll find something here that makes you feel the same way.

Using Point of View Correctly

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
using point of view correctly, examples, narration, style

Anyone can tell you that good writing flows easily from beginning to end without reminding the reader that there is a writer behind the words. Unfortunately, many beginning writers sometimes ruin that flow by constantly reinserting their point of view character back into the narrative. Once you've moved the reader into the story, you don't want to yank him out again by placing your character in every sentence. 

Kristen Johnson Ingram, an author of over twenty books and instructor for, calls this the "viewpoint intruder." 

"He noticed..."

In the book Crafting Novels and Short Stories, Ms. Ingram provides us with several great examples of viewpoint intrusion. The first one she mentions is the use of the word, noticed. She provides an example:

The others were laughing and talking as they sat down at the table. As Kirk reached across the table for the bread, he noticed his hands. His fingers were long and brown, and he noticed how the light gleamed off his wedding ring. 

In this example, Ms. Ingram points out that the writer has inserted not one, but two intrusive "notices." He noticed his hands and noticed the gleam on his wedding ring. The scene would be smoother if she wrote it more like this:

Kirk reached across the table for the bread. His fingers were long and brown, and light gleamed on his wedding ring. 

Here's another example, this one from an essay:

I looked over at Jenny propped up on the hospital bed. I could see her bright smile, but I knew she was in pain. 

"I looked" and "I could see" are both unnecessary intrusions (and we might even include "I knew"). The point of view character has been in the hospital for some time, thinking about Jenny's circumstances. So all she needed was, "Jenny was propped up on the bed. She was smiling, but I knew she was in pain." Or even, "Jenny was propped up in the bed, smiling in spite of her pain."

Use Your Senses

Ms. Ingram also talks about how easy it is for the viewpoint intruder to take over when we are writing about sensory impressions. She gives us another example:

Rob opened the door. He could smell fried chicken and onions, and he heard the butter crackling in the skillet. His mouth watered from hunger. 

Rob's senses are great but you can use them better by implying, not reminding us of, his presence until you need it:

Rob opened the door. The aroma of fried chicken crackling in the skillet with onion made his mouth water. 

Stay Vigilant 

Try not to be too hard on yourself when you catch your point of view character creeping into your narrative. It happens to the best writers. We just need to stay vigilant and keep a look out for those moments when we've allowed viewpoint intrusion to take over and then we just have to get rid of them. With practice, we'll get better and better at weeding them out. 

Have you been letting your character's viewpoint intrude on your narrative? 

Until next week!


Kristen Johnson Ingram's Author Page on Amazon

How To Create Unique Characters

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
creating unique characters, character creation, writing, ideas, brainstorming, inspiration

I'm in the character creation stage of a new story so as part of my series on new beginnings, I want to go over some great brainstorming tips I found. Today, I'm going to share something from one of my favorite books on writing, The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques, by Nancy Lamb, where the author reminds us that our challenge as writers is to "create a character that lives and breathes on the page, a character that laughs and cries and makes the reader feel those emotions." She tells us:

When you approach your characters, remember it is not only the hero that must stand out. All the characters in your story, major and minor characters, should occupy a unique place in your own imagination in order for them to occupy that same status in the reader's imagination.

A Matter of Authenticity

Before you become too involved in writing your story, take the time to do everything you can to establish the essence of your character in your own mind.

A strong character doesn't behave the way you want him to. A strong character behaves the way he should. Every time you write a new scene ask yourself if your hero's action is authentic. 

If you are writing about a woman who is excruciatingly shy, she can't walk into a party where she doesn't know anyone and introduce herself to the nearest stranger. Not going to happen.

Keep in mind that the actions of the character must be organic; they must grow naturally from the heart and mind of that character. Once you've established this foundation, you can move forward into your story with confidence. 

How To Create Unique Characters

There are endless ways to flesh out a character. One way to create multiple dimensions in the person who inhabits the pages of your book is to imagine different aspects of that character's inner and outer life. Here's a list of possible character traits for you to consider. This is a taking-off point. A framework to help you invent fully rounded and interesting characters. Add to it. Subtract from it. Embellish, embroider, and expand it. But most of all, use it.

Personality: Is your character aggressive or passive? Brave or fearful? Confident or shy? Creative? Eccentric? Introverted or extroverted? Logical? Optimistic or pessimistic? Paranoid? Risk-adverse or risk-taking?

Defining traits: Could your character be described as a bully or an underdog? A geek or a loner? A joiner or a leader? On the other hand, is he cold and warm? Confrontational and eager to please? Defiant and indifferent? Disliked? Feared? The life of the party or reclusive? 

Origin: DId your character grow up in an urban or rural area? In the big city or a small town? On which continent? In which country? With one parent or both? Was he an orphan? (How did these things affect his world view?) 

Home: Where does your character hang his hat? In a city or the suburbs? On the coast or in the plains? On an island? In the desert?

Shelter: What kind of building does your character live in? Apartment? Farm? House? What architecture style? Mansion? Public housing? Ranch? Shack? On the street?

Family Constellation: Does your character have children or grandchildren? Are her grandparents still living? Is she single, married, separated, or divorced? What's her relationship with her parent(s) or stepparent(s)? Where does she fall in the birth order? Does she have any pets?

Best Friends: Who are your character's best friends? What genders are they? How did they meet? What's the nature of the relationships? What interests do they share? How often do they communicate with one another? 

Interests: What is your character passionate about? Art, music, film, literature? Animals? The environment? Science and technology? Politics and religion? Culture, cuisine, and travel? Sports and games?

Dislikes: What repulses and irritates your character? Leafy green vegetables? Classical music? The opposite sex? Rude drivers? 

Favorites: What's your character's favorite...artist? Book or author? Clothing line? Color? Song? Flower? Food? Game? Sport? Movie or TV show?

Hobbies: When your character isn't at work, she's spending her time....antiquing? Camping? Coin or stamp collecting? Gaming? Gardening? Cooking? Painting, drawing, or sculpting? Parachute jumping or rock climbing? Shopping? Volunteering? 

Clothes: How does your character dress? Casual, trendy, sloppy, formal? Does he take pride in his appearance? Does he spend money on clothes?

Names: Does your character have a nickname? If so, what does that name reflect? Her appearance, circumstance, personality? Does she like or hate her nickname? If she's married, did she take her spouses name?

Body language: How does your character carry himself? Does he stand straight? Make eye-contact? Have a limp handshake? Walk as if defeated, with slumped shoulders? Glide gracefully down hallways? Trip and fall often? 

As you apply these particulars, preferences, and circumstances to your character, as yourself the following questions:

  • Is my character too bland? Too homogeneous?
  • How do the traits reflect the heart and spirit of my character?
  • How do they demonstrate who he is and what he stands for?
  • How do these traits indicate emotional conflict?
  • What do they say about his inner life?
  • What do they say about his outer life?
  • How do the traits indicate the complexity of the character?
  • What other traits, circumstances, or preferences can add depth and texture and conflicts to the character?

That's it for today! I hope this was as helpful to you as it was for me. If you have any questions or comments, let me know.

Until next week!


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