Category Archives: Guests

Guest Post: Avoiding First Chapter Blunders by Ryan Lanz

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Thank you to Ryan Lanz, who blogs about the craft of writing on A Writer’s Path.

Open Book

 

You’ve got your idea. Your characters are fleshed out. The setting is crystallized in your mind.

You power up the laptop, and you place your fingers on the keys. Chapter one.

There’s a magic in that. You can practically feel the readers forming an orderly line to purchase your book, even before you finish the first paragraph. But what do you want to accomplish? What are the things to avoid in your first chapter? In this post, we’ll look at the nitty-gritty of a novel’s first chapter.

What are you looking to accomplish?
In a first chapter, you have several things that you want to accomplish and clue the reader on. This is not an exhaustive list, but let’s look at some common items.

  • Identify a protagonist
  • Establish something the protagonist wants
  • Set the tone for the book
  • Make a few promises
  • Indicate what time/place in history
  • Present an immediate conflict/issue

To continue reading, click here.

Guest Post: 5 Techniques to Make Your Readers Laugh by Lisa Wells

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Guest Post: 5 Techniques to Make Your Readers Laugh by Lisa Wells

A big ARHtistic License thank you to the hysterical Lisa Wells for these humor-writing tips, which first appeared on Writers in the Storm.

Every book needs a dose of laughter. Even hard-core, freak-out scary stuff needs a scene or a sentence or a word intended to allow the reader a moment to breathe out some of the tension you’ve mummified them in for pages and pages and breathe in ease.

This post will acquaint you with five make-them-laugh techniques you can choose from when you want to give your readers a giggle, chuckle, snigger or even a good old-fashioned, snorting,  belly laugh.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

5. K — the sound it makes is the funniest letter

This rule appears to be universally agreed upon by comedians. So much so, that in Neil Simon’s 1972 play The Sunshine Boys, there’s a scene in which an aging comedian schools his nephew on comedy and the letter k:

“Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know what words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka Seltzer is funny. You say ‘Alka Seltzer’ you get a laugh … Words with k in them are funny. Casey Stengel, that’s a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not funny. Cookie is funny. Cucumber is funny. Car keys. Cleveland … Cleveland is funny. Maryland is not funny. Then, there’s chicken. Chicken is funny. Pickle is funny. Cab is funny. Cockroach is funny — not if you get ’em, only if you say ’em.”

This is an easy way to add a touch of subtle humor to your writing. Any author can give the diner their character is hiding out in a funny k-name. (Crunchy Cracker Café). By the way, according to my research, these sounds are funniest when you put them in the middle of sentences. (I don’t write the rules — I’m just reporting them.)

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughing

4. Shock

If you want to make your readers laugh, shock them. According to Author Scott Dikkers in his book How To Write Funny, this funny filter includes anything you shouldn’t say in mixed company.  He also says it’s a method best used like a garnish. Never the main course.

Example: The television series The Black List deals with grim storylines. The kind that make you me want to close your eyes and turn down the sound. Here is one example of how they used shock to elicit laughter in the midst of a tense scene in which Reddington is trying to extract information from a guy who is part of an illegal organ transplant ring. The bad guy has a heart condition, and Reddington (the bad guy you can’t help but love) has spiked his drink with Viagra.

“Those drinks you’ve been enjoying on the house? They weren’t from the house. They were from me. I hope you don’t mind. I took the liberty of adding a special surprise ingredient. Something to treat any localized dysfunction you may be suffering. Has the little man been falling down on the job? It’s a miracle drug, not so much for a glutton with a bum heart, however. But look on the bright side, you’ll die with a marvelous erection.”

woman laughing white holding knees

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

3. Misdirection

As an author, you can easily set your readers up to they think they know what’s going to come next — and then throw them a curveball.  An example of this can be found in another scene from the show The Black List.  The character, Reddington, is standing in front of this huge portrait of a woman hanging on the wall in someone’s house, and he says:

“Last night I got up for a scoop of orange sherbet and she caught my eye. I just stood here in the dark, squinting at her. She’s breathtakingly unattractive.”

The curveball is the word unattractive. Up until this point, the audience thinks he’s going to wax poetic about her beauty, and he doesn’t. Not only is she unattractive, she’s breathtakingly unattractive. Breathtakingly misdirects us to think beautiful. Had he said very unattractive, the laugh wouldn’t have come. But he used a word that our brains are trained to pair with the word beautiful. We were misdirected, and as a result, we laughed.

To continue reading, click here.

Guest Post: “White House at Night” by Vincent van Gogh from The Joy of Museums

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Thank you to The Joy of Museums for insights and background on this painting.

Whitehousenight

“White House at Night” by Vincent van Gogh

“White House at Night” by Vincent van Gogh was created six weeks before his death. It is thought that van Gogh painted “White House at Night” around 8:00 PM based on the position of the “star” in the painting. Astronomers calculated that the star in the picture must be Venus which was bright in the evening sky in June 1890.

According to the Museum, this painting:

“expresses the great psychological tension under which Van Gogh found himself.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Steam Pumpkins!

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Have you carved your pumpkin yet? Thank you to Donna at My OBT for these fabulous examples.

My OBT

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Guest Post: In Gourd We Trust by Donna from My OBT

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Have you carved your pumpkin yet? Here is some great inspiration from My OBT. Thank you, Donna!

My OBT

pump 0 Materials: buttons, glue, patience

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Guest Post: Nice Ride by Donna

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Guest Post: Nice Ride by Donna

Thank you to Donna, who shares one beautiful thing on her blog every day, for this uplifting pre-Halloween article.

Happy Halloween! By now, you have probably noticed how obsessed with dressing up I am, so it will come as no surprise that I’m posting about Halloween costumes today. However, I decided that this year, I wanted to show you something a little special.

These are costumes for children with mobility issues, and they’re way more awesome than those made for their typically-abled counterparts. Not crafty? No problem. You can actually buy some of these on Etsy!

Hope everyone has a magnificent Halloween. Don’t forget to post pictures!

 

Halloween costume, Wheelchair

To see more of this article, click here.

Guest Post: Sketchbook Thursday! Indigo Buntings by Lindsay Weirich

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A big thank you to Lindsay Weirich of The Frugal Crafter Blog for this wonderful watercolor tutorial. I just love looking over her shoulder while she paints. She makes it look so easy!

Hi friends!  I had so much fun painting these birds in my sketchbook!

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Watch the video to see the time-lapse!

Supplies:

To read the rest of this article, click here.

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