When Are Words a Writer’s Enemy?

Posted by: Bridgett.

Words.

They are a writer’s tools, fuel, paintbrush, sustenance, building blocks, joy, co-conspirators…and often, worst enemy.

Have you ever known someone who starts sharing an exciting event with you, but fills the story with so many details you forget why you wanted to hear it in the first place?

wrong words quoteThe right words can make a reader laugh, cry, thrust a triumphal fist in the air, start a revolution, or sigh in bliss. Toss too many words into a story, however, and all the reader will feel is frustration. If, that is, the story even has any readers.

How do I know? Well, that tale would require too many words.

So, since I’m knee-deep in the task of removing thousands of words from the novel I’m trying to get published, I’ll let Dr. Seuss finish this blog post for me.  Continue reading

Finding Your Writer’s Voice: Part 2

Posted by: Bridgett.

Welcome back for part two of “Finding Your Writer’s Voice,” the fourth installment of our series “6 Elements of a Great Novel.”

Wikipedia defines a writer’s voice as: “the individual writing style of an author, a combination of their common usage of syntaxdictionpunctuationcharacter developmentdialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).”

find your voiceReaders of this blog likely have noticed a difference between my writing voice and Rebecca’s. While I may write blog posts in the form of a story or take a straightforward, almost academic approach, Rebecca’s style is more laid-back, conversational, and often humorous. Our voices as novelists are even further varied.

In this segment, we will explore several factors which determine the voice behind any work of fiction, memoir, or narrative nonfiction.  Continue reading

Finding Your Writer’s Voice: Part 1

Posted by: Bridgett.

One of the most sought-after attributes of fiction and its writers, according to agents and editors, is a unique voice. Readers, too, look for this elusive quality in books, though many don’t realize they are doing so.

What is a writer’s voice? Perhaps more importantly, how can authors find or develop theirs?

In this 2-part installment of our series, 6 Elements of a Great Novel, based on our post by the same title, I will attempt to answer these questions.  Continue reading

Are your characters R.E.A.L.?

Posted by: Rebecca.

Last week, Bridgett blogged about 6 elements of a great novel. I thought I’d tackle one of those points in today’s post. (Whew, wish me luck!)

When you read, what makes you love or hate a character? For me, it’s how the character is developed. In the first few pages, am I drawn into their world? Can I relate to something they are going through? Better yet, am I experiencing their emotions as my own?

Sherbia & Diviak by M. Bergren

Everyone does goofy and stupid things. We all have different ideas of how things should be done, or how we should handle conflict. We each have a different flavor of ice cream we love. Some people don’t even like ice cream. (Gasp!)

So, why not give a character a R.E.A.L.© personality? Continue reading

6 Elements of a Great Novel: an editor’s perspective

Posted by: Bridgett.

What makes a novel unforgettable?

Some stories are like magical portals, vacuum cleaners, or black holes…They grab onto the reader (or editor/agent) and just suck her in, trapping her within a new world, a grand adventure, or the chaotic mind of a person she’s never met. And the reader has no desire to escape.

How do they do it?

Karen Schurrer Photo courtesy of winniegriggs.com

Karen Schurrer
Photo courtesy of winniegriggs.com

At a recent meeting of MN N.I.C.E., Minnesota’s chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), I had the privilege of hearing Bethany House Publishers fiction editor Karen Schurrer speak.  Karen has edited such bestselling authors as Tamera Alexander, Kristen Heitzmann, Karen Hancock, Patrick Carr, Karen Witemeyer, Minnesota’s own Julie Klassen, and others.

During her presentation, Karen revealed the six elements she looks for in a novel. So, how does a book catch an editor’s eye? Continue reading

Prompting Inspiration

Posted by: Rebecca.

Tuesday’s post from Bridgett was about reigniting inspiration. Everyone struggles with needing to be inspired, right?

I have an awesome (yes, I’m an 80’s kid) group of brainstorming partners, and our recent sessions have been great. I’ve got proof, notebook pages full of ideas for my WIP. However, practical application, sitting in the chair and transforming those ideas into words on the pages has been a bit slow for me.

So, I decided I needed to reignite inspiration. Spending time with the Master Artist, listing to music and reading, and having some fun with writing prompts. There are so many great websites for writers and ones based on writing prompts…here are a few I found. Continue reading

6 Steps to Reigniting Inspiration

Posted by: Bridgett.

What do you do when you search for a spark of inspiration, and find only cold ashes?

Photo Credit: Kawan Powers

Photo Credit: Kawan Powers

That’s exactly what happened to me this morning as I awoke with thoughts of the next blog post and chapters of novel revisions awaiting me. No sudden burst of light filled my mind. No warm flood of insight, no spontaneous combustion of ideas, just a bunch of dry, grey dust clogging my brain.

Though my fellow writers are likely nodding in empathy right now, this snuffing of inspiration doesn’t just plague wielders of the pen. Musicians, artists, business owners, marketers, parents, people of faith who’ve fallen into a spiritual rut—in short, everyone–will experience a slump in inspiration at some point.

Well then, what do we do about it?

The answers to that may be as varied as the individual flames in a fire, but let’s try to find a few of them together.  Continue reading

The Black Moment: making room for the light

Posted by: Bridgett.

What makes a great story?

What causes the most lasting growth in our lives?

One answer fits both questions.

Some stories affect our emotions so strongly they stay with us for decades.  Some life events change us so profoundly, we emerge almost as different people.

It may be surprising to realize the key to many personal triumphs, and to those characters who make us want to raise a fist in shared celebration, is steeped in fathomless darkness.

The secret to both is what we call in fiction writing “the black moment.” Continue reading

Goal Therapy: When in doubt, stop…and play Legos

Posted by: Rebecca.

Are you struggling with how to accomplish a goal?

For me, it’s been a revision I need to make in my book. Lately, I’ve been in a writing funk (GASP!) and have made little progress on it.  Continue reading

Writing Tip: To apostrophe or not to apostrophe…

Posted by: Bridgett.

Once upon a time, a little boy received a wonderful gift. It was a wooden box with a locking lid and key. In it, he stored all his favorite things, a list of dreams for his future, and a picture of his family. He called it his box of secrets.

One day, the box went missing from its place of honor on his bedroom shelf. The boy sought help from the wise Finder of All Things, his mom. She set out to interrogate every family member or friend who had been inside the house since the box was last seen. Mom asked one crucial question that was guaranteed to get results…  Continue reading