I got asked a really great question by a fellow hiker, “What’s the difference between reading and writing?” He was walking behind us talking to his companion about math. They were doing math formulas. I turned and said, “Are you really solving math problems on the trail?” “Yes,” he replied enthusiastically. I admitted I was a writer, and math wasn’t “my thing.” Then he asked that specific question. My answer:
When you read someone is sharing her imagination with you. When you write you’re sharing your imagination with the world.
I like that idea, don’t you? I know many of my readers on this list are writers. We have the unique talent to tell a story in the written word and give to others. What a unique gift? I am grateful I can give something that amazing to the world. As writers we leave behind a written legacy of gifts to the world.
Speaking of writing, my new book The Abused just came back from the first round of editing. So far, the focus group readers have used words like “great” and “awesome” to describe the story. I’m pleased. The book is my most complicated story to date. I have over a dozen characters in the story. I put a great deal of attention on ensuring it was clear who is who. I don’t enjoy books where I have to flip back to figure out characters.
So, for today’s newsletter I want to share some tips and tricks about writing fiction.
Develop your characters through unique voices and descriptions. Have you ever read a book where everyone sounds the same? It makes it hard to know who is talking when they sound generic. No one talks exactly the same. Listen to how people actually talk. Use your imagination to come up with interesting, unique characters with different dialects and accents. If you’re really good at your reader will know just by the dialog whose doing the talking.
Be colloquial in the dialog but not the narrative. You can use colloquial phrases and slang in the dialog all you want. You should avoid street language in your narrative. If you do use a certain expression put it in quotes, which shows your audience it was purposeful.
Profanity is fine when it’s used in character. I have profanity in my books, and some readers might object. I use profanity to develop characters. Reality is we live in a much coarser world than Shakespeare. I’m willing to bet that Shakespeare wouldn’t object to saying “Where for art thou shithead?” LOL … totally kidding. My point is, you can’t write about a street thug who speaks proper English unless, of course, it’s a point about the character. “Keep it real” means just like it sounds.
Interest in erotica has waned the last few years. Moods shift. Sex and sexuality though are important in the adult world. I’m never opposed to writing about sex when it’s an important element to a scene or story. First, I’m not uptight or concerned about sex. I expect adults to read my books. Part of adult life involves sex. I do know the difference between sex for the sake of creating thrills and sex for the sake of telling a story. I use sex for the sake of storytelling. My feeling is readers of thrillers are inevitably reading about violence. It seems ridiculous to me that we live in a culture that won’t show nudity but has no problem showing murder. So, my private opinion is we’re all naked at one time or the other – get over it.