Most of my life I have felt tired – worn out. The doctor says my thyroid is fine, but every time I see him, I have to take a short quiz on depression. Nope, I’m not depressed either. Sleep apnea seems to be the culprit. The whole CPAP thing gets old fast. I didn’t use it last night and guess what! I’m once again weary. Or should I say tired, or maybe worn out, or maybe one of a dozen other words? We’ll discuss that in a moment, but first, I want to remind you that my $1.00 special on all books and resources runs out this Saturday at midnight, so grab them while you can.
One thing I’ve been struggling with in my latest project is a repetition of words. We all know that to repeat the same word, especially in close proximity, is bad writing. Yet it happens. Take the word tired, for instance. There is no reason to use the same word over and over when there are many words you could substitute. There may be slight variations in meanings, but consider the following: 1. Worn-out 2.Bored 3. Dead-tired 4. Asleep 5. Weary
No doubt, you can come up with other terms for each of the ones listed above. It only takes a few minutes to check a thesaurus. Invest in the time it takes to vary your words. In the long run, it will be worth a few minutes of thought to keep your reader from becoming weary, worn-out, dead-tired, bored, or asleep.
On another note, Mondays have become increasingly busy for me. I’ve been thinking about changing the weekly update to another day, but right now I’m too tired to think about it. Any suggestions, let me know. Also, I’m still looking for a couple of pages to replace the old Featured Excerpt page and the This Week’s Question page. Let me know what you would like to see.
Okay . . . I’m done for another week. I have to take a nap. See you next Monday (at least for now).
Is ice better than snow? I don’t think so, but that’s what this Monday has brought to Central PA. There is a certain beauty in ice as it glistens on the trees and shimmers on the mountains, but don’t let me drive in it. It’s a good day to write. So let’s get on with it!
First of all, I’m trying some new things with the website. I eliminated from this site’s navigation two pages – Featured Excerpts and This Week’s Question. I want to replace them with pages of interest for you, so let me ask you (and please contribute and let me know what you think in the comments or personally email me), what would you like to see on these pages? Give me as much input as possible.
Secondly, I’m really not about making money from my writing. It’s more important to me to get out my message, so I’ve done something totally ridiculous. Everything, and I mean everything on the Books and Resources page has been reduced to $1.00. That includes shipping and the cost of publishing itself is much more than that. So you see, I just want to get good things in your hands. There are many books and courses to choose from including the MVOWC 13-week one-on-one attention. But you must order from this website to get the deal. It’s not available elsewhere. And of course, there are no strings attached. Now, I can’t get more ridiculous than that, so take advantage of it now through the end of February.
Now, how about some practical writing tips? We all want our readers to ask the question, what happens next? If they don’t ask the question, in one form or another, the page will never be turned.
Most of my fiction would be classified as thriller/mystery. Thrillers demand suspense, but whether that is your genre or not, a certain degree of suspense should always be included to keep the pages turning. So how do we build suspense? How do we get the reader to say, “What happens next?” Let me give you some things to think about.
1. Deadlines for your characters are always a good way to build suspense. A time crunch naturally adds tension to the plot. It may be something as simple as running to the store to get milk before the store closes – or you can up the stakes with something like a bomb ready to detonate in three minutes. Heighten the tension by putting obstacles in your character’s way as he/she races to beat the clock.
2. Use ultimatums. Ultimatums can be tied to deadlines but also can be used to show your character under emotional stress. Consider the plight of a housewife whose husband is involved in an adulterous affair. She tells him he must break off the relationship, but she is giving him three days to do it – or else. Build the emotional stress of both the husband and wife as the deadline calling for an ultimatum grows closer.
3. Consider switching the POV. Not all stories are meant to have more than one point of view, but others may be open to varied POV’s. The trick is to bring a different POV in at a critical time in the story. This helps to build the tension you are seeking. I’m attempting to use this technique in my newest project, The Marisol Deception. Television series use it regularly. Notice it the next time you curl up with a cup of cocoa and your favorite TV show.
4. Use short, choppy sentences. This achieves two things. Think how someone might talk when under stress. Usually the sentences are short and maybe to some degree, incoherent. They may actually have trouble speaking the words. But that’s not all. Not only do short, choppy sentences help to build the suspense, but it also keeps the pages turning. The sentences are easier to read which allows the reader to read more in a shorter period of time. The suspense that is built will ask the question, what happens next?
Just some things to think about on this Monday. See you next week, and don’t forget to give me some feedback regarding what kind of information you’d like to see here. Until then . .
Lately, I’ve read of the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes I don’t think Pennsylvania is far behind. Very little snow this year but tons of rain and dark skies. I have a tendency to turn inward on days like this. What’s the purpose in writing? What am I accomplishing? Can I even write at all? Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it? The list of questions continue. Ever been there?
If you have, I hope these thoughts from the Bible will encourage you. Without getting too theological, Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” The mere fact that you long to write is a desire that God Himself has given you. He did not give you that desire to fail. Oh, I may never hit the New York Times Best Seller list, but I am doing what God created me to do. If I delight in Him and follow Him as He leads, I simply cannot fail – and neither can you.
You were created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27). He created you for success. If He has given you the desire to write, it is His plan that you do, but it really is up to you as to how well you will do that. It may take studying, reading others, tearing up manuscript after manuscript, This I know, it will take work and it will take time.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” My friend, faith isn’t just believing, but rather knowing. That faith must first be placed in building a personal relationship with God, but notice the result of that – He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. In other words, He wants to give you the desires of your heart as they line up with His will. He has given you the desire to write. His plan is to reward you as labor diligently for Him. You can’t go wrong.
Our writing may not always be what we think it should be, but know you are fulfilling your purpose. You’re meeting your reason for existing, at least in part, so . . .
Take a look in the mirror. Hold your head high. Put on your happy face, and embrace all of life. That includes all the manuscripts you’ve torn up. That includes all the rejection letters you’ve received. We learn from it all – and we grow.
Well, another Monday is in the books. See you next week.
So, it looks like I missed the Monday updates. Those of you who know me, know that I love to write. You also know the church I pastor is first, and lately I’ve been so busy with other things. Writing has had to take a back seat. Some things came up yesterday. There was no way around it – so here I am on Tuesday with the Monday update. Well, everybody has an excuse, don’t they? I sincerely do apologize for not checking in until today.
It has also become necessary for my latest project, The Marisol Deception, to be put on hold. Slowly, I’ll get rolling again, but for now, pretend Tuesday is really Monday. That will help develop your imagination for your next fiction project.