Writing a Great story

1. Go outside yourself. Get behind the eyes of your characters. What do they see, hear, smell, feel and taste.
Think of a movie shot solely through the eyes of one person’s viewpoint.

2. Add personality  quirks. I added a habit of clicking a pen to one character.  My Detective  rubs his neck when he’s thinking.
Sometimes women will twist or bite their hair when they’re nervous or deep in thought. Nail biting is popular.

3. Don’t be PC. I feel some writers are stifling trying to be politically correct. Yet on the other hand some writers over do the swearing until it’s a distraction. I wonder sometimes who the author hangs out with. Too much of either can lead to poor sales.

4. Don’t underestimate your readers intelligence. I just read a book by an lawyer of a high profile case. He threw in a few words I’d never heard before. I looked them up because the sentence didn’t give me any clues.  Keep words that aren’t common to most readers vocabulary to a minimum. Too many of these and your reader might find a bookmark and put it down.

5. Embellishments are saved for tall tales around the campfire. Adding incidents you thought interesting just to put them in could kill a scene.  Work your favorite facts or funny actions into the story where they move the plot. Adding a dancing monkey’s antics maybe funny, but if it isn’t leading to some action delete it. They shouldn’t be roadside historical markers that derail the reader’s attention.

6. If you get stuck with a scene, try writing some humor. Your characters are tied to a chair. Now what? To aliviate tension have one of the characters tell a joke or make a pun about the situation.
“It’s all your fault. You just had to have a piece of pie.”

7. You can bring your readers to tears. Writing emotion that touches their  hearts will have then turning pages. Keep both emotions within the storylie.

Using this guide as you write or edit will help you to pace your story.

Ted Dekker’s 4 Deadly Mistakes

I received or signed up for Ted Dekker’s newsletter. Maybe I just clicked on something and now I get updates from him.

I haven’t read his books even though I own a couple. I wasn’t in the mood to read that style. If I ever go on another vacation where I get to sit in the sun for days and just read, I’ll bring his two books with me. I know they were interesting when I bought them.

I’m a writer so having a successful writer offer to give me the 4 Deadly Mistakes Fiction Writers Make, I immediately opened the list and began to look at them. I’m not going to copy and paste his work here. I will tell you he receives lots of questions from struggling writers. Good for us he feels empathy to share his vast knowledge with those still learning their craft.

After reading the list, I find I’ve read this list before. I enjoyed the way he explained how to avoid these mistakes.  What I wonder is at what point do people, like me, stop looking for some quick fix, magic wand, incantation, lucky plot pot, or even just a very good mentor to show us how to write a successful book or just finish one?

Having this list is great. Print it and tape it or pin it right next to your computer. Have you suficiently included or avoided these mistakes? I wonder. I found #3 Storytelling to be somewhat ambigous. BE A GOOD STORYTELLER. …RIGHT…

He tells you to be one but doesn’t tell you how to do it. Let me give you a little insight to what I think might help. Have you ever been to your friend’s house after they returned home from a vacation? At one time it was self narrated slide shows. (If you’re old enough to know what a slide show is). Then came the home movies. (They could have been at the same time depending on whether your parents had a movie camera or a still camera). There would be hours of boring footage of roadside scenery, children frolicking in the ocean, fishing, jumping off a dock into a lake, trying to paddle a canoe (that was the funniest part of the whole evening) and your friends waving at the camera before it tilted and fell over. There was no plot, no conflict and no goal. (Other than to get there and back home.)

Basically what I’m saying is a story isn’t a biography of a fictional character. A story isn’t about telling things that happen to that character.  “He went here, then there, climbed that mountain, swam that stream and forded that bridge. ‘{Yawn}  It’s what happens along the way that almost derails the trip, delays it, causes consternation and maybe even incites some fear. That is conflict. The resolution that it all worked out at the end gives the reader a good feeling. BUT! until the end, the writer must keep the reader from any ‘deep couch sitting.’ The reader must feel like they want to jump into the story at any time to help out.

Now the 4 Mistakes are a good start, However, like any good author, Mr. Dekkor never really gives you a full answer or understanding of those 4 Mistakes. You will of course have to buy his new book The creative Way: A Course in Transformational Fiction  when it comes out in March. Which just happens to begin tomorrow.

You can download his PDF of Sell Out and read that.  Until next time. I will try to do thos more often.