Wonderful World of Writing

3 Tips for Writing a Believable Romance

In the literary world, the romance genre is often treated as a joke due to its overuse of certain tropes, unrealistically portrayed relationship growth, and focus on physical aspects rather than the romantic connection between the protagonist and their love interest. Today, I’d like to share three tips on how to craft a believable romance that will leave readers swooning rather than rolling their eyes.

HowToBelievableRomance

1) The Dos and Don’ts of Insta-Love

One of the most common complaints I’ve read in reviews for romance books involve the characters instantly falling in love upon their first meeting with little to no reason as to why. The best example I can provide of this trope is Anna and Hans from Frozen. Did anyone else cringe upon their engagement?

Luckily for Anna, she escapes the mortifying consequences of that case of Insta-Love, as the film transitions on to her introduction to Kristoff. Disney was able to twist the Insta-Love trope and make it end up as endearing for the audience. How can we as authors do the same?

Suggestions for Writing Insta-Love:

  • Give the characters one strong common goal or interest. They don’t have to have everything in common, but give them enough similarities to develop a foundation for their connection.
  • Make the initial first-sight moment develop by having the characters notice an intriguing personality trait about one another rather than a physical trait. Make the romance about the characters, not about how they look.
  • Be subtle about their initial attraction. Even if the chemistry is there on Day 1, the relationship should still have room to develop and mature throughout the remainder of the book. Don’t have them spouting out that they love each other, should get married, and have kids the day they meet, unless they have gone through a lifetime’s worth of relationship-building circumstances with each other over that period of time (Ex: Katniss and Peeta’s close proximity in The Hunger Games resulted in a Insta-Love of sorts for the viewers in Panem).

2) Don’t Base the Romance on Looks or Physical Aspects

This bit goes hand-in-hand with what I mentioned about Insta-Love, but the overfocus on how “hot” or “sexy” the love interest may be is a huge problem throughout the romance genre.

For me, as a reader that favors cleaner romance, whenever the protagonist continually describes how good the love interest looks, I cringe. For the most part, this is a tip off that the relationship will be one where lust is mistaken for love. Romance, to me, should be based on a love story involving each person’s emotions, and how, working together, the couple learns from one another in a way that results in amazing character arcs.

“Romance” books that are purely lust-based often lack the depth for promising character arcs. In fact, lust-based have their own separate genre, and I’m disappointed that its genre is often thought to be intertwined with the romance genre, as romance books then get a bad reputation for having books that confuse lust with love. Please determine which genre your story will best fit in. If it’s purely a lovestory-based book, then it’s a romance. If it’s incredibly steaming and physical… that’s not romance in the true sense of the word, and it belongs in a different genre.

Crafting Chemistry

Lastly, in order for readers to ship your fictional couples like there’s no tomorrow, a palpable chemistry between the two should be crafted. In other words, the characters, like I hinted at in the Insta-Love section, should have a common bond and/or goal that can set the course for the rest of the relationship.

There’s nothing worse than reading a “romance” where two people meet and you can’t for the life of you comprehend why they’re a good match. In order for a couple to be portrayed believably, the readers need something to latch onto, whether that be how Person A compliments Person B’s personality, how they both have been through similar traumatic experiences and help each other mend, etc.

Let’s Recap!

So, if you want to craft a believable romance that will lead to your fans shipping your couple, remember to try the following:

1) Remember the Dos and Don’ts of Insta-Love

2) Love Story = Romance | Lust Story = Not Romance

3) Couples Thrive On Chemistry


Talk to me, Arrowheads!

Do you have any tips for crafting a believable romance that I didn’t address in today’s post? Please add to the conversation in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

 

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Wonderful World of Writing

Top 3 Tips for New Writers

Have you recently discovered the joys of writing but fear you’re too new at writing to be successful? Hang tight and don’t give up, my friend, as today I’m sharing my top three tips to help you level up from a newbie writer to a knight in shining writerdom!

I’ve been writing stories pretty much since I learned to form sentences on a page, almost eighteen years ago. Still, I’m no expert at this whole writing thing. I learn new things about the writing craft every day, but these are some tips I wish I would’ve come across when I first began to take writing seriously.

Top3TipsNewWriters

Tip 1: Work on One WIP at a Time

Though some seasoned writers may be able to handle writing two or more books at once, when you’re attempting to write your first novel, (and, truthfully, your second or third), please stick to one WIP (work in progress) at a time. Though I finished my first novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, without another plot bunny forming, once I started writing Speak Your Mind, I got the ideas to start writing The CrushOn the Flip Side, and a couple other projects that I’ve abandoned for now. I finished CBTHOACG over the course of a year and half. Because I was flipping back and forth between WIPs for seven years afterwards, I didn’t finish another novel until completely dedicating my writing time to Speak Your Mind from late 2017 to early 2018.

Don’t follow in my footsteps, young grasshopper. Don’t think that just because you get stuck on one WIP that you’ll be able to start and finish another with no issues. The devil is a liar! If you do get ideas for other writing projects, simply write them down and go back to them after your current project is finished. Stick it out one WIP at a time, and try to…

Tip 2: Outline Your Plot

I pantsed Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl like there was no tomorrow, but pantsing Speak Your Mind eventually led to getting stuck on one easy scene for a year or two and causing the other novel ideas to swarm. Basically, pantsing and waiting for inspiration to strike thwarted my progress as a writer. Once I sat down and mapped out the course I wanted to take the novel, everything started falling into place.

No, I don’t have a fancy outlining method. For the most part, I take a single sheet of notebook paper and list out all the events that need to happen in the book. This is better explained in my post The Quick and Easy Guide to Rewriting.

Another outline method that I’ve stumbled across recently is Abbie Emmons’s Turn Your Messy Story Idea into an Outline guide, which can be found here. Abbie offers a printable PDF that you can fill out in order to make better sense of your random ideas for the novel. I highly suggest checking out this guide and her videos on outlining, as they’ve helped me tremendously when rewriting The Crush.

Tip 3: Seek Feedback, but Ignore Destructive Criticism

The first time I ever received feedback for my writing was during the one and only Creative Writing class I took as an elective in community college. Though I mostly received positive feedback, during our Poetry section, my instructor provided constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is advice that will build you up as a writer and propel you forward. New writers, be sure to seek out constructive criticism and learn to tune out destructive criticism.

Destructive feedback occurs when a fellow writer/reader speaks negatively (moreso rudely) about your writing with no real reason why, or a reason that is merely opinion based rather than craft based. For example, if your critique partner reads your politically-driven dystopian novel and comments, “this story sucks because the main character supports the use of guns”, the feedback is merely opinion based, as they may not have the same view on guns as the character, or you as the author.

Another example would be if your reader throws in comments like “annoying”, “horrible”, or “hot garbage” when describing your work. Constructive criticism will never involve rude language to describe your work. Rude language is only used to belittle your work. There’s a difference, my friend. Learn to embrace the constructive feedback and ward off those who have nothing nice to say. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. 😉


There you have it! New writers, I hope these tips have been helpful!

What other tips have you come across that have helped you as a writer? Feel free to share in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Wonderful World of Writing

3 Steps for Smashing Writer’s Block like Mario

Whether you’re a new writer or have been penning books for decades, the hideous torturer that is Writer’s Block can haunt you at any given time. You may be tempted to fall ill to its restrictive nature, but I have three steps you can add to your arsenal to conquer the Writer’s Block beast. Are you ready to smash Writer’s Block like Mario? Let’s get started!

SmashWriter'sBlockLikeMario

Step 1: Discover the Cause

Nine times out of ten, Writer’s Block hinders our creativity due to an underlying problem. The problem can be a number of things, ranging from an inhibitor in our minds, personal problems, or story issues. In order to discover the cause of your case of  Writer’s Block, take a moment to reflect on what the root of the problem may be.

Self Reflection

Many times, we as writers hinder ourselves from writing due to mental blocks. Ask yourself the following questions. If you can answer YES to any of them, we’ll seek to solve the issue(s) in Step 2:

  • Am I afraid of what others will think of my writing?
  • Am I afraid of rejection?
  • Am I comparing myself to other authors?
  • Am I dwelling on achieving success as an author?
  • Are any external factors (friends, family, work, stress) affecting my ability to write?

Story Reflection

Our stories themselves may also be causing our inkwell to run dry. If you passed the Self Reflection portion, ask yourself these questions about your WIP:

  • Do I like the direction the story is headed?
  • Are my characters flat?
  • Do I have an idea of where the story is headed?
  • Am I having reservations about telling this story?
  • Does it contain cliches or inconsistencies?

Step 2: Write it Out

Now that you’ve determined your reason(s) behind your case of Writer’s Block, it’s time to tackle the beast by doing the one thing it’s keeping you from doing… writing!

Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me. We’re not diving back headfirst into your WIP with your newly discovered writing anxieties looming over your shoulder. Instead, break out a sheet of paper and write about why you have the anxiety in the first place.

For example, when I first became serious about rewriting my current WIP, The Crush, last year, Writer’s Block kept punching me in the gut. Writing out why I was 1) Afraid of what others will think of it, 2) Panicked that I had no idea where the story was headed, and 3) Having reservations about telling the story helped me realize I needed to nip those anxieties in the butt.

Writing out these anxieties provides tangible reasons why the anxiety exists, reasons you can then use to find solutions to ease the anxieties.

Writing Out Your Reasons

  • Why do I feel these anxieties?
  • What can I do to relieve these anxieties?

Do your best soul-searching to answer these questions, and answer them thoroughly. The more thorough they are, the more helpful they will be in getting you back on track. Coming up with methods for relieving these anxieties opens new doors for your WIP.

Referring back to my example of The Crush, I realized I was having Writer’s Block anxieties and came up with action steps for each of them:

Fear: Afraid of my peers’ opinions on the story.
Method of Attack: Learn to embrace constructive criticism. Ignore deconstructive criticism. Write for myself and God’s opinion only.

Fear: Afraid of having a Nowheresville plot.
Method of Attack: Learned to plot for the first time instead of pantsing it out for ten more years.

Fear: Having reservations about telling this story.
Method of Attack: Learned to edit out the parts I was having reservations about and rewrite the story to better reflect the new plot direction.

It’s not easy, but if you spend time and effort on learning to put your writer anxieties to rest, it’s worth it.

Step 3: Take a Break and Try Again

After writing it out, collecting your thoughts, and forming a game plan, take a brief break to clear your head of all things writing. No, this is not Game Over; just relax for a day to a week, and then jump back in your WIP. With a fresh outlook and new strategy, you should be well equipped to smash Writer’s Block like Mario and win the game with a finished draft under your belt.


Talk to Me, Arrowheads!

What are your methods for battling Writer’s Block? Let me know in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Wonderful World of Writing

The Quick and Easy Guide to Rewriting

If you’ve been writing for several years, there are most likely some old WIPs you’ve worked on but ended up setting aside at some point because you were convinced they were downright bad. You may have even finished this story, but hesitate from letting others read it because you’re embarrassed to unearth this foul, untamed beast. Yet, deep within your heart, an inkling of hope still cherishes this story.

Maybe you loved the characters. Maybe you were on the verge of a killer plot, but couldn’t quite figure it out back then. Whatever the thought that keeps you from trashing the story might be, let me ask you this: would you rather this story and your hopes for it be buried under a pile of dust, or would you like to revive it?

First drafts, my fellow writer, don’t have to be perfect. Neither do the second, third, and fourth. You see, even bestselling, Pulitzer Prize winning novels still have flaws in the eyes of some readers, and in most cases, probably their authors too. The difference is that those authors put that idea they believed in to the test and gave it the time and attention it needed… including rewrites.

GuidetoRewriting

Rewriting: The Negative Connotation

The term “rewrite” often fills writers with dread, as they believe it means that their entire work needs improving. While in some instances that may be the case, I strongly believe that most “bad” WIPs can be improved by rewriting some areas and patchworking scenes that work from previous drafts into it to form a stronger story. The thing is, how do we distinguish the scenes that work from the ones that don’t?

Trash or Keep?

First, let me give you an example. During the time of writing this post, I’m currently on the third rewrite of my YA romance novel, The Crush. I’ve been working on The Crush off and on since 2011, and had reached 250+/- pages when I realized I didn’t like the direction the story was going. The characters and plot were too much like  slightly reimagined real-life people and events from my own life, and after reading about how that can be a huge mistake in The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, I started rewriting it bit by bit, tweaking characters’ names more, getting rid of obvious events, etc. while keeping the main message I wanted to relay to readers.

But… even the second draft mirrored the events after a while. I was attached to certain scenes from the first draft, and to get those to work, I was lazily adding those bad scenes back in.

All The Feels

That’s where the difference lies between working and non-working scenes: the scenes you are attached to in the first draft are most likely why you still have hope for this seemingly awful story. These scenes either highlight strong characterization, include epic descriptions, or make you fangirl while reading it. If these scenes provoke a strong feeling in you, they are nine times out of ten worth keeping, as they will most likely provoke a similar feeling in other readers.

Talking Trash

On the flip side, if reading back over a scene or typing it into your new draft fills you with dread or makes you bored, it’s time to remove that bad mojo from the equation. BUT, keep in mind this doesn’t mean sending this scene into the Island of Deleted Scenes; keep a file full of these “trash” scenes handy, in case you’ll need certain information they contain for later use.

Fixing the Overall Issues

Rewrites are needed for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • Punctuation issues
  • Paragraph and/or Dialogue formatting issues
  • Plot holes
  • Poor characterization
  • Lack of descriptions
  • Lack of tension

Before You Begin

Whatever the issue(s) may be, before you attempt a rewrite, go back and read what you have of your existing WIP first, and compile a list of all the issues you would like to resolve into respective categories. This list will come in handy when you’re rewriting, allowing you to tackle each category individually to avoid overload. It is also a good practice to make notes of those Keeper scenes and bookmark them for future reference.

Before you begin the rewrite, to avoid repeating major punctuation issues and paragraph/dialogue formatting, do some research on proper formatting. Spending an hour or two learning how to correctly format will save you loads of time (and money) during the editing phase later on.

The Game Plan

If you’re tackling issues such as plot holes, poor characterization, lack of tension, etc., it is beneficial to construct a game plan before releasing your creative juices again. Ask yourself:

  • What was missing from the previous draft that needs to be added?
  • Where can I weave in stronger characterization?
  • How can I go about adding in the Keeper scenes in a way that is purposeful and drives the plot forward?
  • Where can I best create conflict?

My master game plan for figuring out these answers came in the form of plotting. I grabbed a sheet of notebook paper and listed out one-sentence descriptions of every scene that I would like to take place to reach the desired end. I added in the Keeper scenes when needed, and connected the dots by thinking of lead-up scenes.

Though I’ve always been a pantser on past WIPs, plotting The Crush for this rewrite has increased my productivity by creating a roadmap to follow. To create your own novel roadmap, come up with scenes that will provide answers for each of the questions above, and then decide the order in which you plan to implement them.

Implementation

If your chapters consist of one scene each, take your roadmap and write down the chronological order for each scene. If your chapters consist of two or more scenes, group related scenes together (maybe one scene for each question above) and BOOM, you have a chapter outline! Try to use similar scene counts for each chapter to keep the rhythm consistent. For The Crush, I tend to use four or five scenes per chapter.

Keep in mind that this rewrite draft, too, will not be perfect. No writing, however, ever truly is. But, by implementing these practices, you may have a clearer path to follow to better enhance that WIP you believe in. 🙂


That’s it for today, Arrowheads! What additional advice do you have on rewriting? Feel free to share in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Wonderful World of Writing

3 Things to Do When Your Writing is Hot Garbage

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! A problem many writers face are periods where we feel like everything we write is terrible. We get discouraged because our descriptions sound cliche, or beat ourselves up because our character sounds like a caricature. Whatever the reason may be, we often get fed up with trying, take a prolonged break from working on our projects, and blame writer’s block.

That’s no bueno. Claiming “I’ve fallen ill with the writer’s block” doesn’t accelerate your dream of finishing your WIP into becoming a reality. There are other methods to rise from the “hot garbage” state of writing. So sit back, grab some coffee, and explore with me as we learn three methods for turning hot garbage writing into beautiful books.

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Method 1: Imagine and Write An Alternative Scene

One of the most effective methods I’ve learned to utilize when going through writer’s block is to brainstorm alternative ways the scene can go, and write out each one. 98% of the time, one of the alternative scenes ends up fulfilling what needs to be achieved with the scene. Plus, when needed, you can take good bits and pieces of the original, bland scene and use them to your advantage in the alternative scene.

Method 2: Recycle Scenes that Aren’t Needed

If you write a scene that you like but is not needed in your novel, cut it from your WIP document and paste it into a Dump File. Just because it doesn’t fit with the story at this moment doesn’t mean it’s bad writing. The Dump File serves as an excellent resource when you’ve hit the Hot Garbage mindset, as the cut scenes are often just what you need to get the momentum going again.

Method 3: Consult With a Writing Buddy

Think your writing is hot garbage? Look to your writing buddy to get their opinion. Endless possibilities emerge from seeking guidance from fellow writers. It may be that you’re overthinking it and the writing isn’t as bad as you think. Maybe the writing can use some tweaking, and your writing buddy will offer constructive criticism to improve it. If you’re stuck, your writing buddy can help come up with some possibilities you may not have thought of, thus providing inspiration to get back on track.


These are my top 3 tips for overcoming the “my writing is hot garbage” mindset. Remember, you can always find an alternative route, reuse removed scenes laer, and ask for help when you’re feeling stuck!

What’s your favorite way to overcome the Hot Garbage Writer mindset? Let me know in the comments!

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Wonderful World of Writing

Writing Descriptions Practice

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! Way back in June, I took a few minutes to work on my descriptive writing skills. Descriptive writing is one of the areas I struggle in most as a writer, but the exercise helped me pinpoint my weaknesses and work to correct them. I’d like to share one of the paragraphs today, describing the main character from my next release, Speak Your Mind, Victoria Harding.

WritingDescriptions

Original

The girl’s cascading locks of brown hair hid her face as she scribbled notes in her journal. Her bottom lip quivered as a shadow appeared around her, clouding her thoughts. Heat of hatred radiated from her teacher’s nostrils as she read Victoria’s journal entry.

So, it’s not that great, but it’s not terrible either. However, when I read back over it, I noticed a bad habit of relying on the word “as” too much. Let’s look at the paragraph again and see how many times I relied on “as” for the descriptions:

The girl’s cascading locks of brown hair hid her face as she scribbled notes in her journal. Her bottom lip quivered as a shadow appeared around her, clouding her thoughts. Heat of hatred radiated from her teacher’s nostrils as she read Victoria’s journal entry.

As you can see (no pun intended), the word “as” was used in 3 out of 3 of the sentences! That’s kinda embarrassing!

Rewrite

So, for round 2, I went back and tried to reword the sentences in order to cut out all of the “as” instances. Here is the result:

The girl’s cascading chestnut locks hid her face, shielding her writing from the judging eyes of her teacher. A shadow crept its way over her shoulder, clouding her thoughts. Her bottom lip quivering with anticipation, she bit down on it to silence her fear. Heat of hatred radiated from her teacher’s nostrils, the student’s scrawling sparking a tender nerve.

Lesson

Personally, I ended up favoring the rewrite more than the original. By pinpointing the root of my dull descriptions (the overuse of my crutch word, “as”), the rewrite forced me to become more creative while relaying the same message to the reader.

While writing another paragraph about Victoria’s friend, Aiden Andrews, I found that I was more careful with avoiding “as”. Nevertheless, once the paragraph was finished, I had used the word “and” twice. Back in 2nd grade when we first began to have writing assignments at school, my teacher warned us about overusing “and”. Keep that in mind as another crutch word to avoid when writing descriptions!


Give it a Try!

Your homework assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to write a paragraph describing an original character of your choice. Identify your crutch words and rewrite the paragraph to remove them. Afterward, read over both again and see which one you like better. Let me know how it turns out in the comments! 🙂

Later, Arrowheads,

-Allyson 😀

Self-Publishing

Things to Look for When Editing Your Manuscript

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! Today, we’re tackling the subject of editing manuscripts. *Shudders* Yeah, I know… editing sometimes feels akin to getting cavities filled. But, don’t fret! I’m here to help during this time of rewriting, crying, and binge-eating chocolate with today’s topic:

EditingManuscript

Okay, so first thing’s first…

Consistency

Let’s check the plot. Is it consistent? One of my biggest fears for my own writing (and a pet peeve in reading others’ writing, and watching in TV shows/movies, to be honest) is finding inconsistencies in the storyline. Oftentimes, inconsistencies occur as a result of the details being spaced far enough apart in the work that the author forgets to continue the original detail, and doesn’t noticed that the detail has changed overtime. An example of this is having your characters go to Linwood Whaley High School at the beginning of the novel, and they receive a diploma from Andrews-Harding High School at then end, without ever transferring schools. Sometimes inconsistencies will jump out at you when editing your manuscript, yet other times it can sneak by and wind up in print… something we hope to avoid!

So, what can we do to prevent inconsistent details in writing? Well, nerdy ol’ me uses spreadsheets to keep track of tons of things in WIPs, going by chapter and recording specific details when I can. Basically, for my newly finished WIP, Speak Your Mind, I maintained three spreadsheets to stay on track:

  • Character Sheet: Keeps track of characters and places them in different facets, such as main characters, schoolmates, church members, family members of main characters, etc.
  • Event Sheet: Keeps track of dates the chapters go by to prevent date inconsistencies.
  • Town/Location Cheatsheet: Central for all my WIPs because they all take place in the same region, it keeps track of the names of towns, schools, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, churches, etc.

If you’re not comfortable creating spreadsheets, I also think a bullet journal could be just as helpful, and it could be carried around with you when you don’t have computer access.

Overused Words

Now that we’ve helped weed out the possibility of overlooking inconsistencies, let’s check for overused, unnecessary words, shall we? (Yeah, I know. Grab some coffee for this one!)

The first thing you want to do is open your Word document (or whatever digital writing tool you use) and press CTRL+F. This will open the Find/Search box for the document. Type these words in, and see how many times you’ve used them. If they occur regularly, read the sentences they’re in aloud, and work to cut out the ones that can convey the same meaning without using the word:

  • Like
  • So
  • Just
  • Thing
  • Look/Looked
  • Feel/Feeling/Felt
  • That
  • Only
  • Really
  • Seem
  • A lot
  • Adjectives ending with “ly”

If you can’t seem to cut these words (and there are many more, if you scour other writing blogs) without losing the meaning of the sentence, then by all means, keep them. One of the hardest things to do is rewriting sentences to avoid using adjectives that end in “ly”. However, it can be done.

Example

“Ly” Adjective sentence: “Aiden glanced at Victoria, blushing slightly.”

Rewritten without the “ly” adjective: “Aiden glanced at Victoria, a slight blush hinting on his cheeks.”

If you’ve abused use of the “ly” adjectives like I did in my first manuscript, it can be frustrating to change things up, but it can be done!  Your writing will only benefit from it, trust me!

POV

This is one that almost caused a minor blunder in my first release. The novel is told from the point-of-view of a girl named Riley, though two scenes in the original draft randomly cut to the point-of-view of her cousin, Trent, to show something that Riley couldn’t see. My editor had me ax it and rewrite it from Riley’s POV–albeit, limiting the readers’ as well–because it was confusing. In hindsight, I can see how that could be true for other manuscripts, unless there’s a consistent split POV throughout the course of the work.

Be Descriptive

Sometimes when we get caught up in the character’s mindset, wondering what they’re about to do in a certain scene, we fail to paint a picture or build the setting for the reader so they can join in on the vision in our heads. As you’re reading back through your manuscript, try to read it objectively, as if you had never read it before. Does the existing story convey a vivid image in your mind of what’s going on/the setting, or is it hard to image? This one is tricky for me to spot and required outside help to know where to add in details. Beta readers will be an excellent diagnosis of lack-of-description syndrome!

Well, that’s basically the four main tips I’ve crammed up my sleeve for editing. What other tips do you recommend?

-Allyson 😀

Wonderful World of Writing

Tips for Writing Dialogue

Some writers are better at writing breathtaking descriptions, while others excel at writing realistic, emotional-rollercoaster-inducing dialogue. A smaller portion of well-versed writers are apt at both. Based on what I’ve been told by a former writing teacher and a friend who helped me edit Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, I fall into the “realistic dialogue” category. Which, to be honest, is rather weird to me, considering how socially awkward I am in real life. Nevertheless, today I’d like to share some tips for writing dialogue!

DialogueTips

Tip #1: Write Dialogue Like You’re Talking to Someone

Yeah, it’s really that simple. Let your characters use contractions. Let them start their sentences with FANBOYS. Allow movement/dialogue tags to intersect their sentences so the characters’ actions emphasize what they’re saying. But, don’t use a formal tone–or fancy words for that matter–unless the subject matter/characterization calls for it.

Tip #2: Let Your Characters Show Emotion Through Their Words

In a dramatic scene, the last thing you want to do is for the character to tell the reader what their feeling. For example, if your main character’s sibling just died, you wouldn’t want them to turn to their friend and say, “I’m sad.” Bland character emotion doesn’t evoke emotion in the reader. Instead, allow your characters to break down for everyone to see. Let them say things that they’re afraid to say. Let them be vulnerable! No, you won’t be a bad Character Parent for it. Think of all your characters as your kids. Let them show real emotion when they talk, as if they’re real people.

An easy way to learn how people show emotion through their words (or movements, for dialogue tags) is to observe them. Or, you could allow characters to express themselves the same way you would in their situation. Do you cry easily when lectured/yelled at? Are you calm and collected when facing a stressful situation, or anxiety-ridden? Observe people or TV/movie characters with similar personalities to your character, and write what you see/hear! Eventually, you’ll be able to do it on your own!

Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Use Humor!

Never be afraid to let your characters joke around or poke fun at one another from time to time. Not only does humor portray a character’s personality; it also acts as a quiet way for readers to figure out who a character is comfortable with–i.e. who they joke around with the most, who they are awkward around, etc. Personally, I’m a big fan of utilizing humor in dialogue. There’s one character in particular I can’t wait for y’all to meet in Speak Your Mind!

So, there’s my three tips for writing dialogue! Like real conversations, fictional ones are best written when they’re natural, relatable, and can make the reader laugh, cry, or become frustrated along with the characters.

What tips do you have for writing dialogue? Or, better yet, what tips do you have for writing descriptions (not my strong suit!)?

-Allyson 😀

Wonderful World of Writing

Break the Writer Rules

breakwriterrules

Whether you’re new to the writing world, or you’ve been writing for decades, you’re going to come across the Writer Rules somewhere down the line. What exactly are the Writer Rules? Well, in my humble opinion, they’re rules that, for the most part, freeze the creative process and make me feel like less than a real writer, even though I’ve published a novel. They go a little something like this:

  • You must schedule at least an hour of writing time per day.
  • You must reach a certain word count per day.
  • You must finish writing your novel within X time frame.

Blah, blah, blah.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Jane Austen set a timer and cranked out as many words–good or bad–as she could in hopes that she’d have a somewhat decent output at the end. I don’t believe for a second Harper Lee followed these rules when she wrote the masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. If you search for writing tips online, you’re going to come across all these resources that insist this is the way to become a writer.

No. You’re a writer because you put your heart and soul into your work, not because you follow guidelines.

While I’m on this tangent, I just want to point out that you don’t have to earn a degree in Creative Writing to be a Real Writer. Yes, you can be taught how to spell. You can be taught how to properly form a sentence, and how to use proper grammar. No one, however, can be taught creativity. Here’s a list of authors who don’t have creative writing degrees:

  • Nicholas Sparks
  • R.J. Palacio
  • Harper Lee
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Charles Dickens
  • Mark Twain
  • William Faulkner

Just to name a few. Now, I’m not saying that having a degree in creative writing will make you an uncreative author. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, and she has a creative writing degree. I’m just saying that it doesn’t make you less than other writers if you don’t earn a degree in writing.

I have a full-time job in the IT field. I would have loved to pursue writing as my full-time job, but the stakes are risky. So instead, I earned a degree in Management Information Systems and took the everyone-will-have-a-technology-job track. But, even though I work from 8 to 5 five days a week and can’t write every day, that doesn’t make me less of a writer. Whether you’re brainstorming ideas or making an extensive plot outline, whether you write one page or twenty pages in one sitting, you’re a writer because you love to write. Period. Don’t let the Writer Rules intimidate you or make you feel less than. You are not less than. You’re a writer as much as anyone else, and you can achieve success on the route God takes you, not just on the cookie-cutter one websites suggest.

So here’ s a new rule for you writers out there: Break The Writer Rules!

Which Writer Rules intimidate you? I’d love to discuss them in the comments! 🙂

-Allyson 😀

 

 

Wonderful World of Writing

10 Writing Prompts for the Struggling Author

As a Pinterest addict, I often scour the website in search of writing prompts for my Flash Fiction Friday posts. Over the past few weeks, I have struggled with finding prompts that inspire me, so I’ve decided to come up with my own!

10 Writing Prompts for the Struggling Author

10WritingPrompts

  1. Rewrite Rugrats: Rugrats was my absolute favorite cartoon growing up. Let’s write a story from a baby’s point-of-view.
  2. Mix Up a Childhood MemoryI love reminiscing my childhood, but it’s even more fun to incorporate my characters into the story and add creative details! In fact, this prompt is what inspired my last Flash Fiction post, “Scary Stories“!
  3. Stuffed Animal Stories: My writing career took off at age seven when I wrote short stories about my teddy bear, Beary, and his adventures with my other stuffed animals. If you’re interested in writing a children’s book, this could be a great start!
  4. What-If Scenarios: Are you weighing the idea of certain plot twists in your WIP? If so, write a short scene in 500-1,000 words to test the waters. If you like it, include it. If not, well at least practice makes perfect!
  5. Sweet Dreams: I’m known to have rather off-the-wall dreams at night. About ten years ago, I started writing down some of the more outrageous dreams in a dream journal. I encourage all writers to do this, as it can provide creative material for future use!
  6. Office Meeting: Begin a scene with a character turning in their office chair to face your main character while saying, “I’ve been expecting you”. This could go numerous different routes, and I’ve always found the saying funny for some reason.
  7. Imaginary Friend: Write a story about how an imaginary friend coped when its creator abandoned it. Include the backstory of how their friendship dissolved over time.
  8. Opposite Day: Create a character who is the complete opposite of you in all aspects, and have them go on an adventure you’d be afraid to take.
  9. Social Media Stories: Write a story using the last Facebook or Twitter post you saw as inspiration. This could be interesting or disturbing. XD
  10. Lost Letter: A love letter your character wrote for their significant other somehow ends up in the hands of your character’s worst enemy! Do they fall in love, or will this add fuel to the fire?

 

Thanks for visiting today, Arrowheads! Feel free to try out these prompts for yourself, and let me know what happens! If you have any ideas for writing prompts, let me know in the comments!

 

-Allyson 😀