Posted in character, character development, good writing, how to write, novel, novel management software, organization, point of view, scrivener, story structure, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing process, writing, writing advice

The Difficulty of Writing From Multiple POVs

This one is a doozy for me, especially since my novel has five different point of views (POVs) that I am telling the story from. There have been many, many times where I question my decision as to whether I really need to be inside five different heads. Can’t I just manage with my main character? Because it sure would be a lot easier and my novel would be done long by now. But I keep coming back to the answer of… yes.

My story is such that it’s bigger than the main character. It’s more than just about the people. It’s about the world they live in and the choices each person makes and how those choices affect the bigger picture. And because of that, the reader really needs to get a front row seat with each of these five major players.

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Posted in descriptive, emotional stories, good writing, great writing, how to be more descriptive, how to show your emotions, how to write, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice, writing better

Putting More Emotion Into Your Writing

Recently, a friend of mine emailed a question about how to let the reader in on what another character other than the main character is feeling. I promptly answered, and then realized it would also make a great topic for a blog post. I haven’t touched on emotional writing for awhile, so here we go. Let’s dive into how to become an emotional writer.

Ever read or written a sentence like this…..

“You can’t be serious? How could you do that? Roger replied angrily.

OR

“Wow. Would you look at that?” Madison said. I could tell she was surprised.

On the surface there’s nothing really wrong with these sentences. But from a creative writing standpoint, well… they aren’t that spectacular either. Mostly, because these sentences are telling the reader what’s going on instead of showing it. The reader doesn’t want to be told how the characters are feeling, they want to feel it for themselves. One of the best way to accomplish this is to give emotional cues.

What’s an emotional cue?

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Posted in editing, good writing, great writing, learning to write, The Writer's Toolbox, the writing process, writing, writing advice

Writing Filters to Use: The Big Picture Filters Part 1

fountain_penOkay, so the initial first draft of your short story or novel is completed. Congratulations! Throw a big party. Pat yourself on the back. That was a lot of hard work. Then things calm down, and you decide to sit down to work on draft number two. You take a gander at your masterpiece to discover it isn’t as glamorous as you first thought. Sure, you knew it needed work, but not that much! Where to begin? What to do? The text before you becomes blurred. It gets hard to breath, and you wonder if maybe this might be what insanity feel like. But before you commit yourself to an insane asylum, there’s hope, and it’s as simple as just a little focus.

That’s where writing filters come in. It’s the process of keeping a few things (usually 2 to 4) in mind while going through subsequent drafts of a story. These “filters” help narrow things down so you can focus on what needs to be done instead of having a panic attack. Sure, there might still be a few panic attacks here and there, but at least you can move through the muck of your jumbled mess. There is a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere, and using writing filters can help distract you until that light can be glimpsed.

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Posted in character, characterization, how to write, Michael Knost, online class, The Writer's Toolbox, unforgettable characters, writing, writing advice, writing better

Using Body Language to Tell Your Story

I recently took an online class through my friend and fellow writer Michael Knost on body language, and wanted to share some of the highlights that I found helpful. This was a topic I knew some about from other writing sources, but his class really brought everything into prospective for me.

Body language is essential in creating believable characters. It’s the subtle things like a smile in just the right place of a conversation, or a small touch of the hand that can change the whole way a reader perceives a character. When you show a character through their body language, you are allowing the reader to size up the character without spoon feeding information that might push the reader from the story. The reader wants to feel intelligent as he or she comes to their own conclusions. It’s the writer’s job (you) to be invisible enough to help lay out the signs or clues that get the reader to where you want them to go.

Check out some of these statistics…

55% of communication consists of body language
38% is expressed through voice
7% is communicated through words

Yeah, I was kind of shocked by the only 7% is communicated through words. Kind of made me feel small and unimportant with all my writing, which then made me realize that it’s all in how you express those words. That’s the key ingredient to really great writing. So my next thought was… how do my own characters express themselves?

There are 4 major ways for a character to use body language to express themselves…

  • Facial Expressions
  • Gestures
  • Body Posture
  • Space

What are the eyes of your character saying? Is your character fidgeting from boredom or restlessness? Is your character sitting forward to soak up everything another character is telling them? Or is your character in someone’s face for something that made them angry?

Also consider this… does your character’s actions match their words? Readers will believe body language and tone over what someone says. If a character says they’re open to a new idea, but crosses their arms or turns their body away, what the reader really sees is a character who is closed and rejecting the message, but not willing to admit the truth. This sort of “mixed signal” can be used to add to the character, or story. It can also take away from the character and story, if not done correctly.

When using body language it usually helps to build it up to a series of actions, because some body languages (like smiles, fidgeting, or no eye contact) can mean several different things. Writers should give about 5 clues within a scene to show context of an emotion (through body language) without coming out and saying it. This will help lead the reader to make his own conclusion.

Body language is your character. Make sure that that all body language is important, if it isn’t, cut it out. Also get rid of overly used gestures, or body language like… she sighed or he winked. Find new or better ways for your character to express themselves. Remember that too much of a good thing can tip your hand to make the writer visible to the reader. Great writers disappear as their story comes alive.