Tag Archives: advice for writers

Are You Called To Write?

Have you ever had a thought like this? Man, I’d really love to write a book someday, but I have no idea where to start.

I used to have similar thoughts, but I worked my butt off over the past 11 years, and I’ve been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Noir Nation No. 3, as well as having self-published A Collection of Reflections (poetry) and Frost: An Otherworld Tale (my debut novel).

If you love a good story, that love is all you need to become a writer. I’ve invested a lifetime of passion and thousands of dollars in learning about writing craft and the publishing industry, and I’d love to share what I’ve learned with those of you who have an inner storyteller begging to get out.

If you’d like to learn more, you can reserve your seat at my upcoming writing workshop dates HERE. The workshops will be held at The Creative Kitchen in my aweome hometown of Bay Minette, Alabama.

Here’s a fun exercise for those of you considering attending the workshop (or anyone who wants to join in, for that matter):

Describe your worst fear in a single paragraph, but there’s a catch; you cannot name your fear in the paragraph. Post your answers in the comments and we’ll try to guess your fear!


Work It #14 from A Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld – Part 1

Work It #14 from A Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld

Chapter 14: Relish Revision

Choose a scene or a chapter or a paragraph that is in the first-draft stage (or write a fresh one). You’re going to do three drafts (it’s okay if you break this up over several days). Follow these steps.

  1. Make sure all the elements of a scene are included: The character has an obvious, consistent point of view; your sensory descriptions and imagery show setting and emotion; the action creates a sense of real-time movement and/or dialogue, and a plot goal is present, some piece of which is apparent in this scene.
  2. Cut all flabby, extraneous language, such as adverbs, adjectives, “telling” language, and pleasantries between characters. Hone your sentences. Strive for clarity and beauty.
  3. Add a “push-pull” energyof tension to any dialogue or interaction between characters.

Today, I’m going to just share my paragraph that’s in its first-draft stage.

I’ve had a hell of a day. By 8:00 this morning I was struggling to hold my eyes open, fighting abject exhaustion and trying to focus on what the physical therapist was saying about my husband’s grandmother’s rehabilitation exercises. I know it sounds kind of bad, but the harder I tried to focus, the more I caught myself nodding off after a long, sleepless night.

Our black and tan coonhounds Bear and Bryant paced, bayed, and howled all night, as if there were a prowler in the yard, but every time we looked, we couldn’t see a damn thing. The dogs finally got quiet some time between 3:45 and 4:15, and then we heard a nerve-shattering crash out in the shop.

By the time we made it out there, whatever knocked our shelf of tools and racecar parts over was gone. The shelf busted the Lexan back window out of my husband’s ’67 Camaro drag car. It gouged the crimson paint job in a couple places, and left dents in a couple more, and that was a damn bad way to start the day. The Camaro is my husband’s baby.

So, we got two hours of sleep, and he had to go to work, and I had to drag my exhausted ass to Mobile with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to learn how to properly do rehab for Granny. I tried to push through and stay awake, but my body at 26 just can’t bounce back from lack of sleep like it could when I was 16.

Then I got jarred out of my dozing off by my husband’s ringtone. “Hello?”

“Babe…I know you’re at the hospital with Granny, but I just wanted to call and let you know that my truck burned to the ground today while I was away at a job site.”

“WHAT?! Oh my GOD! How the hell did that happen?!”

“Cops say it looks like a Malitov cocktail started the blaze. Everything that was in the truck is gone…burned completely up. My granddaddy’s truck, and some sorry excuse for a human being burned it to the ground. I don’t know who’d do something like that, but they better pray I don’t get my hands on their sorry ass is all I can say.”

He may not have known…but I sure did.


Work It #14 from A Writer's Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld – Part 1

Work It #14 from A Writer’s Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld

Chapter 14: Relish Revision

Choose a scene or a chapter or a paragraph that is in the first-draft stage (or write a fresh one). You’re going to do three drafts (it’s okay if you break this up over several days). Follow these steps.

  1. Make sure all the elements of a scene are included: The character has an obvious, consistent point of view; your sensory descriptions and imagery show setting and emotion; the action creates a sense of real-time movement and/or dialogue, and a plot goal is present, some piece of which is apparent in this scene.
  2. Cut all flabby, extraneous language, such as adverbs, adjectives, “telling” language, and pleasantries between characters. Hone your sentences. Strive for clarity and beauty.
  3. Add a “push-pull” energyof tension to any dialogue or interaction between characters.

Today, I’m going to just share my paragraph that’s in its first-draft stage.

I’ve had a hell of a day. By 8:00 this morning I was struggling to hold my eyes open, fighting abject exhaustion and trying to focus on what the physical therapist was saying about my husband’s grandmother’s rehabilitation exercises. I know it sounds kind of bad, but the harder I tried to focus, the more I caught myself nodding off after a long, sleepless night.

Our black and tan coonhounds Bear and Bryant paced, bayed, and howled all night, as if there were a prowler in the yard, but every time we looked, we couldn’t see a damn thing. The dogs finally got quiet some time between 3:45 and 4:15, and then we heard a nerve-shattering crash out in the shop.

By the time we made it out there, whatever knocked our shelf of tools and racecar parts over was gone. The shelf busted the Lexan back window out of my husband’s ’67 Camaro drag car. It gouged the crimson paint job in a couple places, and left dents in a couple more, and that was a damn bad way to start the day. The Camaro is my husband’s baby.

So, we got two hours of sleep, and he had to go to work, and I had to drag my exhausted ass to Mobile with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to learn how to properly do rehab for Granny. I tried to push through and stay awake, but my body at 26 just can’t bounce back from lack of sleep like it could when I was 16.

Then I got jarred out of my dozing off by my husband’s ringtone. “Hello?”

“Babe…I know you’re at the hospital with Granny, but I just wanted to call and let you know that my truck burned to the ground today while I was away at a job site.”

“WHAT?! Oh my GOD! How the hell did that happen?!”

“Cops say it looks like a Malitov cocktail started the blaze. Everything that was in the truck is gone…burned completely up. My granddaddy’s truck, and some sorry excuse for a human being burned it to the ground. I don’t know who’d do something like that, but they better pray I don’t get my hands on their sorry ass is all I can say.”

He may not have known…but I sure did.


Guest Post – Debbie Herbert

Crystallizing Your Book Idea . . . for Paranormal or Any Genre

By Debbie Herbert

I love paranormal romance because the possibility of magic tingles my creative drive and curiosity.  The speculation that there might be something more to reality than can be perceived through our senses provides a natural “what if” environment writers need to create stories.

Plus – I’ve never outgrown my love of fairytales and mythology!

Not only do I write paranormal romance, my subject matter isn’t of the popular vampire or werewolf variety.  I chose to write about mermaids.  I’d completed three other novels (as yet still unpublished) before switching to mermaids and landing multiple contracts with Harlequin Nocturne for a series.

It all started with a dream.  I was swimming in a deep body of water when I noticed a man dumping something from the side of a boat.  Curious, I swam over.  The man noticed me and his expression was so evil that it frightened me and I woke up.  Like a typical writer, I started asking those ‘what if” questions:  what if he were a killer? what if he was dumping a dead body? what if I were a mermaid and he caught me?

And from that one dream, I created a world in which a clan of mermaids secretly lived deep in an Alabama bayou.

Okay, great ideas are had by all writers.  How do you begin the whole unwieldy process of stringing together thousands of words into an interesting, coherent story?

We all have our own process.  I’m sharing mine today in the hopes it may spur you to try something different that might make it all a little easier or clearer.

My starting point is answering these three questions:

 

  1. What is the HOOK or PREMISE?  What makes your book unique? What’s it about?  Just write one sentence – the shorter the better.
  2. What is the GOOD VERSUS EVIL in my world? I think for paranormal writers, this is important. Are your supernatural beings seeking power or dominance over humans or other creatures?  For mystery writers, it may be an evil killer versus potential victims that provides this conflict.
  3. What are the STAKES? The stakes are huge in paranormal worlds – it is often no less than world upheaval or human subjugation to supernatural beings.

 

If I can grasp these, I can go on to develop character and romance ARCS and external and internal conflicts.  The questions form my logline and blurb.  This is how I start every book.  It’s how my brain works.  Here are some examples from my books:

 

  1. CHARMED AND DANGEROUS – How can a teenage witch help an immortal on the run from another enemy immortal?  Note:  In Immortal legends there is already a strong, built-in good versus evil theme. The hook was combining the worlds of witchcraft and immortals. Stakes: Control of immortals and humans by an evil warlock clan.
  2. CHANGELING –What happens to a child kidnapped by fairies and raised by them? Good versus Evil is between two warring fairy worlds. Hook is the reverse fairy tale. Stakes – if bad fairies win upcoming battle with good fairies, humans will suffer from bad fairies.
  3. FAMILIAR MAGIC – How can a magical cat help an outcast middle grade girl? The evil are the bullies. The Hook is that the book is written from a cat POV.  Stakes:  character and animal’s happiness and survival in MG school world. (not published yet)
  4. SIREN’S SECRET – Hook: What would happen if a mermaid saw a serial killer dumping a body at sea?  Good versus Evil – serial killer versus cops. Stakes: Killer could expose mermaid world and endanger their species.
  5. SIREN’S TREASURE – What would happen if a mermaid was captured by modern-day pirates? Hook – treasure hunt. Good versus evil – kidnappers versus law enforcement. Stakes:  Missing H-bomb captured by American enemies. Stakes: World peace.
  6. SIREN’S CALL – What would happen if a siren met a man not affected by her magic? Hook – hidden world of Okwa Nahallo – (Choctaw legend of mermaids in the bayou) and Indian lore. Good versus Evil:  Female stalker versus cops. Stakes:  Main character’s life and happiness of hero – prevention of future murders.
  7. BAYOU MAGIC series – All three books in this Harlequin series started with the question: What if the old Choctaw Legends of supernatural beings really existed in the Alabama Bayou today? How would you fight the evil spirits?

 

Once you’ve answered these questions you can go about the nitty gritty details of plotting your book.  I’m pretty low tech.  I get a posterboard and divide it into 20 sections which represent each chapter.  I fill in the turning points and any scenes that have come to mind.  I don’t worry about filling every square, I just fill in what I have and GO.

 

How do you begin your novels?  I’d love to hear your process as well!

Connect with Debbie on social media or learn more about her books.

 

Website:  www.debbieherbert.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/debherbertwrit

Facebook fan page:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Debbie-Herbert-Author/151793451695632 Debbie Herbert Author

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-Herbert/e/B00F96OXUI


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