Category Archives: Guests

Guest Post: Altering the Reader’s Perspective by Ryan Lanz

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Thank you to Ryan Lanz of A Writer’s Path for this excellent article about word choice in fiction writing.

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Who doesn’t like the thought of being able to direct someone’s thoughts or emotions? Sure, it’s typically in fantasy only, but I’m sure most have skirted around the thought. When we imagine someone doing so, it’s usually an evil villain’s doing, involving elbow-length gloves and an over-sized, veiny head.

But actually, we writers do this all the time. We use words at the tip of our brushes to paint the reader’s emotions. We essentially angle wording in a way to guide the reader how to feel.

Now, you may be thinking, “Ryan, that’s ridiculous. The readers come to their own conclusions.” And yes, they do. However, let’s visit an example.

Brian turned toward me and held the baseball bat in front of him. He looked around before heading in my direction. He passed, then he laughed.

Compare that to:

Brian swiveled on his heel and reached across the table for the tip of the baseball bat’s handle. He held it front of him for a moment before his eyes flicked up toward me. The distance between us dripped away. At the exact moment he passed, he chuckled in my ear.

It sounds a heck of a lot creepier the second time, doesn’t it? The information essentially stayed the same, although I intentionally chose verbs and descriptive words that I knew would paint this character as creepy.

Writers do this all the time. Here are a few other swaps you can do. See how they change your perception.

To continue reading, click here.

 

Guest Post: Upcycled Meat?!?

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Guest Post: Upcycled Meat?!?

Thank you to Donna of My OBT, who curated these wonderful leftover-turkey recipes for us.

My OBT

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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.

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“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.

Guest Post: Becoming Your POV Character by Marcy Kennedy

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Guest Post: Becoming Your POV Character by Marcy Kennedy

Thank you to Writers in the Storm and to Marcy Kennedy for this article.

One of the most common writing challenges is avoiding point-of-view errors. It doesn’t seem to matter where we are along the writing path—from newbie to multi-published—point-of-view errors crop up like many-headed hydra. Just when we think we’ve got them all, there’s another head coming around to bite us from behind.

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When we start out writing, we’re most likely to head-hop, but as we understand point of view better, head-hopping usually disappears. The point-of-view errors we start to make are sneakier, harder for us to see in our own writing.

These POV errors happen any time we’re in a limited point of view—where we’re supposed to stay inside one viewpoint character at a time—and we write something that our viewpoint character couldn’t know, wouldn’t have experienced, or wouldn’t be thinking about. (My friend Jami Gold, who shared her excellent NaNoWriMo tips here earlier this week, calls them out-of-POV phrases. That’s a great way to describe them.)

So how do we avoid them?

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We become the point-of-view character.

That might sound simplistic, but if we actually embrace this, we won’t have point-of-view errors in our book. Let’s look at what it means if we think about our point-of-view character in terms of ourselves.

We know our own thoughts and feelings, but we don’t know anyone else’s.

I can’t know what anyone else is thinking, or even if they’re thinking about anything at all. I can’t know how someone else is feeling. They might be smiling on the outside and in agony on the inside. Or the scowl I interpret as anger toward me might simply be gas pains.

I also can’t know why someone does an action. I can’t know if they turned toward me because they heard me enter the room, because they caught a glimpse from the corner of their eye, or because they were going to turn that direction anyway.

So, if we have a female POV character, and we write something like this…

Bob grabbed the signed baseball, angry she’d moved it from the shelf.

We’ve created a POV error. She can’t know Bob is feeling angry or what the source of his anger is.

Understanding that our point-of-view character is just like us in that their perception is limited to their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations is foundational to avoiding point-of-view errors. We can only write what our point-of-view character knows. If they’re making a guess or interpreting based on the evidence they see, then we need to make it clear through internal dialogue how they’ve reached their conclusion.

woman typing writing programming

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

We can’t sense things outside of our sight, earshot, or smell range, and we can’t experience things before they happen.

Sounds obvious, right? But sometimes we forget to think about how we perceive the world around us.

I can’t see something that’s happening behind me or that’s happening when my eyes are closed. If I don’t notice something happening, I can’t tell you about it. I can’t normally see my own face.

I don’t know what my future holds, and I can’t experience something before it actually happens (including the tone of voice someone else will use when they speak).

So if our point-of-view character can’t see it, hear it, touch it, taste it, or smell it at that moment, we can’t include it. If we do, it’s a point-of-view error. I’ll give you a quick example for this one. Let’s say our viewpoint character is Andrea.

POV Error: Andrea’s face turned red.

Andrea can’t see her own face. This is from the perspective of someone looking at Andrea, but if we are Andrea, we don’t experience it this way.

What We Experience As Andrea: Heat rushed up her neck and into her cheeks.

If we’re Andrea, we experience it from the inside—what we feel.

To continue reading this article, click here.

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