5 Steps to Creating a Unique Character Voice – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Create unique character voices by varying how they communicate with other characters.

I’m one of those writers who needs to put my characters through a first draft before I figure out who they really are. Tossing them into trouble and watching how they wrangle their way out of it helps me get to know them. Their dialogue and voices are usually interchangeable at first. It’s more about what they say than how they say it, or even why they say it.

The voices usually come to me as I write, and by the end of the first draft, I’ve written snippets of voice that let me see and hear the characters. On draft two, I develop those snippets into fleshed-out characters. 

Since I don’t hear my characters first (like many writers do), I make conscious choices about their voices, and craft them same as I do a setting or the plot. Which keeps my authorial nose out of my character’s business, and lets them be who they are—not extensions of who am. Characters who all sound like the protagonist or the author is a common first-draft issue for a lot of writers.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Finding Your Writing Rhythm – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Karen DeBonis

For those who were born with the instinct to write, you probably figured out your writing rhythm—the ebb and flow of your writing practice, and the beat and tempo of your unique voice—early on. I wasn’t one of those kids who filled notebooks with short stories, or wrote under the covers at night by flashlight. As a teen or young adult, I never aspired to write the next great American novel or publish my prose in a magazine.

In other words, I’m not a born writer. Latecomers like me often write to the beat of someone else’s drummer until they discover their own rhythm.

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Memoir Writing 101: What I Wish I Knew Before I Started – Part 3 – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Linda Ruggeri

Earlier this month, I posted my Memoir Writing 101 Series: Getting Started Part 2. Today’s Part 3: different ways we can revise our memoir once we’ve finished writing it. (In case you missed it, here’s Part 1.)

Somewhere along your memoir writing path, you probably asked yourself “Why am I writing this?” As an editor, I like to follow that question with: What is your goal with writing this? What are you hoping to accomplish? Who is this really for?

Knowing your “Why?” is key to discovering if you’re accomplishing your goal when you start revising your work. The answer to that question (which you should tape to the bottom of your screen) becomes the “bar” you return to again and again during the revision process, when other questions come up, such as Does this part make sense? or Do I really need this story?

Once you know your purpose, and have that guideline, then you can move on to developing a revision checklist and a schedule. Below is what I use, and by no means is it exhaustive or exclusive but it’s a roadmap of what you can do to make the process easier. Feel free to add your own revision pit stops as you work and new things come to mind.

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Exploring a Character’s Past Wound – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Tasha Seegmiller

About five or six weeks ago, I rolled my ankle while walking to work. It wasn’t significant, I didn’t even lose my balance. Just a slight not okay and then okay and I continued on my way to work.

To you, this may seem like a non-story. People roll their ankles ALL the time. But this ankle has been traumatized. Many times. Over many years. This ankle was first really sprained when I was fourteen years old, then again throughout the rest of high school. This is the ankle that I had reconstructed nine years ago. This ankle still swells when there is a massive switch in the weather patterns, one that I am intentionally rehabbing once a week.

So a minor roll, a quick not-even-worth-noticing not-quite injury is, six weeks later, still sore, still slipping, still swollen. The small, non-injury is clearly an injury, and the emotions that I had after tearing two ligaments, after having it reconstructed, after trying to come back with atrophied muscles and incredible soreness are all living in the forefront of my mind.

When we are looking at why a character is the way they are, why they act or react the way they do, we need to make sure readers understand the emotional impact of events in their past and remember/recognize that even purely physical traumas can be accompanied with significant emotional contexts.

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Using Weather in Fiction – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Ellen Buikema

Weather in fiction is a powerful factor. When weather is included in a scene it adds depth and realism, pulling the reader further into the story. Every description whether in scene, tagline, or dialogue, including weather, must move the story forward.

Since childhood I’ve enjoyed storms and changes in weather so much that I used to try and outperform the weather forecasters. Sometimes I got lucky.

I find the electrical energy of a storm invigorating. (As long as I’m not traveling in it.)

I learned to estimate how far away a storm is using the “flash-to-bang” lightning to thunder method. Count the seconds between lightning and thunder and divide by five. Five seconds is one mile, ten seconds is two miles. When the time between the lightning flash and the roar of thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is 6 miles away or closer. Definitely time to be indoors.

While I write this blog post it is pouring rain here in central Texas. Thank goodness for surge protectors. Now if only the power doesn’t go out…

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Confessions of a Naïve Author – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by John Peragine

When you embark on the journey to go a non-traditional route of publishing, including self-publishing, hybrid publishing, or small/medium-sized publishers, you take on a lot.

We concentrate so much on the craft that when it comes to handing it over to someone else, we often want to crawl back to the comfortable place and begin the creation process again. We don’t want to be bothered with publishing and, more importantly, how to actually sell that book.

It might be fun to pick out a cover or a cute font because that continues to be in our creative wheelhouse, but the rest I put under the umbrella of the “business of book writing.” I realized that this is where so many of us trip and fall down. Hard. Scraped knees with stinging mercurochrome slathered on top.

The Usual Artistic Pattern: Craft Before Business

I spent many years learning how to play the flute. Technique exercises. Etudes. Sonatas and Concertos. Mixed in were orchestral excerpts. I played with concert bands, pit orchestras, and symphonies. I had private lessons, masterclasses, performing arts high school, and another five years of college. Can I play the flute? I hope so. Too many hours of practice and money were invested not to be a decent performer.

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3 Steps to Create Write Time – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Kris Maze

Quick. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “totally under control” and 5 is “terrified to say,” how are you managing your Writing To-do List?

If you have a structured, highly functioning system for marketing your author brand and still have time to write, then happily move along. But the chances are that technology changes and a variety of unfinished projects, leave many authors with an answer closer to 5 (terrified to say) than not. Myself included as I recall being overwhelmed by a “failed to launch” error on a social media post I spent too much time creating.

Authors juggle multifaceted platforms, often as solitary entrepreneurs. This effort is important, but is it worth the cost of writing your novel?

If you can relate, you may find relief in my intention to stress less and to declutter my writing to-do list in a systematic way. Perhaps some of the exercises here will help you prioritize your writing goals and create a focused writing plan.

In order to have a lasting career and a growing audience, author marketing simply can’t be ignored. Interacting through various media, as many experts suggest, is key to getting more readers. Not sure where to start? This recent WITS post, by Penny Sansevieiri, covers where readers and agents should easily find your author platform online.

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5 Life “Rules” That May Change Your Writing Future

by Jenny Hansen

A lot of leadership advice, training styles, and life philosophies pass by my desk in the course of my day job. Books like Emotional Intelligence 2.0The Storyteller’s Secret, and Start With Why are sitting in my workspace right now.

When I’m really really lucky, those leadership philosophies and “life rules” inform and enrich my day job AND my writing life.

If you’ve never heard of Simon Sinek, I think you’ll like him. His mission in life is to inspire others and he’s got some amazing lessons for creatives like the video below.

Simon Sinek’s 5 “Life Rules”

Lesson One

You can go after whatever you want, you just cannot deny anyone else the ability to go after what they want.

In the video, he shares a story about how you perceive your goals – do you see what you want, or do you see the obstacle that stands in the way of what you want? This is a thought-provoking distinction. The only thing I didn’t like about this story is the way he bypassed the obstacle. However, his point is valid.

  • Focus on what you want.
  • Don’t impede others’ success.
  • You don’t have to do it the way everybody has done it.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Bringing a Character To Life – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Barbara Linn Probst

Stories are about what happens to the characters in them. It doesn’t matter if those characters are robots, pigs, spiders, or dragons. We read to find out how the character’s schemes and adventures turned out. Without characters, there’s no story.

In my experience, characters are “born” in different ways. Some appear fully-formed—how they look and talk, even their names. Others appear slowly, like a person walking toward me from far away. And still others have to be wrestled into existence; they almost seem to resist my need for them, requiring endless re-envisioning.

It doesn’t seem to depend on the character’s age, gender, background, personality, or how similar (or different) we are. In The Sound Between the Notes, for example, there are two minor characters, Beryl Dumont and Jimmy Ray Calhoun, who made themselves known to me at once, right down to their names. I didn’t have to search, struggle, or even think about how to bring them to life; they were vivid and authentic from the very beginning.

I wonder, sometimes: do we invent our characters, or do we get to know them?  Do we build them, bit by bit, out of our storehouse of details and knowledge, as a landscaper might? Or do we coax them into existence, like a midwife, and marvel at the new person we’re eager to know?

Below are four questions, along with some practical strategies, that can help to create characters who are fully alive.

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Memoir Writing: What I Wish I Knew Before I Started – Part 2 – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

By Linda Ruggeri

A few months ago, I posted my Memoir Writing 101 Series: Getting Started Part 1. Today I’m sharing Part 2, where we discuss with the same authors I wrote about, the positive things and surprises that came out of their memoir projects—the unintended consequences memoir writing can have in our lives.

When I work with memoir writers as their editor and/or writing coach, there is an inherent bond of trust that is forged. They promise to share their best work with me (which usually nobody has seen), and I promise to listen, read, and give them honest and helpful guidance that can make their manuscripts stronger.

It’s a delicate act and not one for the faint of heart (for either of us). I know I’ll be treading through different and sometimes difficult stories: some painful, some rewarding, some that took years to write, and some that are born out of pure passion—so what I say, and how I say it, can break or strengthen a person’s soul, or both.

Read the rest of this post HERE.