Writer karma. It’s one of the myriad phrases I’ve learned over the last three years since I emerged as a writer. Writer karma has led me, an emerging writer, to be here at Writers in the Storm as a new quarterly contributor. Hello!
A bit about me…
I didn’t discover writing as a creative outlet until I was almost forty, a year after my eleven year-old son Matthew was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As our family recovered from the trauma, an awareness grew in me that our story must be told.
My first draft was dreadful. Even my 20th draft was shitty. But that didn’t deter me, perhaps because I didn’t know how crappy it actually was.
Then, I quit.
My son’s recovery was slow. Painfully slow. I found it impossible to write the story as we lived it, without yet knowing the ending, so I packed writing away and left it to languish. In 2016, when I medically retired, a voice in my head said, “Finish your book.”
Recently, I received feedback on my manuscript, Cold Karma, from one of my beta readers and was pleasantly surprised. “I really like reading your books,” he said. “You don’t bog things down with a lot of unnecessary details. You let the characters tell the story.”
If I had been wearing a hat, it would have had popped off like a champagne cork due to my head swelling three sizes.
I’m used to getting comments on plot, characters and dialogue, but this wasn’t about those things. His comment was about my writing style—about me as an author. After my head shrunk back to normal size, I put on my analyst cap and thought about what he said.
“You let the characters tell the story.”
That was the key thing that set my work apart for him? But…HOW did I accomplish that?
Does where you work affect your writing? As you’ve seen from my earlier posts, it really affects mine. I believe it is related to energy.
Everything is made of energy which vibrates to different frequencies. Ask a quantum physicist. She will tell you that atoms, the building blocks of the universe, are made up of energy vortexes that spin and vibrate to their own frequency signature.
Let’s narrow this down to something closer to home, that we can actually control.
Have you ever walked into a home and felt comfortable right away? Or, couldn’t wait to get out because something was driving you crazy? These feelings, which we sense to different degrees, are related to the energy of the location as well as the individuals occupying the space.
Description, run-on words, similes and metaphors are all ways to get your meaning across to your reader. I got the first two, but metaphors and similes….they were a bit fuzzy (school was a looooong time ago for me). Until I watched this scene from Renaissance Man, with Danny DeVito (if you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out). I’ll never confuse them again. Watch. We’ll wait.
As authors, we become, over time and reputation, an ambassador of the written word. It is a place of honor, but not one we always ask for or seek.
To readers and new writers, we appear to have these mystical powers. We are these wise sages that can move words around into a magical combination with seemingly little effort. As masters of our craft, we are sought for our wisdom and help, and here is where the carefully built castle of cards falls down.
How do we give our honest assessment in a way that will help and inspire if what we read is not inspiring? In fact, it could be considered bad.
As a new writer, when I met editors, agents, and the like, I thought they were standoffish, guarded, and unsociable. In a couple of cases, they were downright aggressive and rude. But as they became friends, I realized it was merely my perception. They are pleasant human beings and very sociable once they determined one crucial thing: I was not going to ask them to read anything or to represent me.
Six steps to making your protagonist more likeable.
Twelve questions to ask your beta readers.
Much of the writing advice we encounter is offered through lists and steps. It’s not surprising; sequential formulations pervade our culture. We have shopping lists and bucket lists, rosters and schedules and manuals that provide step-by-step instructions. We’ve gotten so used to sequential formulations that it may seem as if that’s the only way to organize knowledge.
For about thirty percent of us, however, life is processed spatially, not temporally—not as a linear progression but as pattern, network, array. We see mosaics, parts in relation to the whole. If you’re not sure which kind of person you are, think about how you “know” how to get somewhere. Do you rely on a series of routes and turns or on landmarks?