Posts Tagged inspiration
When to trust the reader’s intuition – and when to spell out what a character feels: post at KM Weiland’s Wordplay
Readers don’t have to be told everything. Sometimes they will intuit how a character feels about a plot development or another character. Or they know what’s unsaid. Or they understand that the quiet character who rarely says anything is vibrating with mysterious depths.
Good storytellers are masters of the reader’s curiosity and emotions. They know what they can plant between the lines and how to make readers fill the blanks. So how do they do this? And how might it go wrong?
Today KM Weiland has invited me to her fabulous blog Wordplay, where I’m discussing this tricky – and exciting – balance. Do come over.
authors, Character, characterisation, characters, characters in novels, deepen your story, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, guest post, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write great characters, ideas, improve characterisation, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, inspiration, KM Weiland, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, mysterious characters, mysterious depths, mystery, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, plot development, polishing, publishing, quiet character, reader expectations, reader intuition, revising, Roz Morris, weiland, Wordplay, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing advice
My guest this week says she always found music a distraction rather than a help in her writing. Until a lyric sneaked into her thought processes – and from then on the novel took its own turn. She started writing about a secret siren world in a derelict swimming baths, and a character who is looking for a home. She is Caroline Smailes, the novel is The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, and shes on the Red Blog with its Undercover Soundtrack.
GIVEAWAY Caroline is excited to give away a print copy of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton to one commenter on her post. Extra entries if you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or G+ – but be sure to leave a note in the comments to let us know that you have!
adolescence, arts, authors, Caroline Smailes, contemporary fiction, deepen your story, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, Harper Collins, HarperCollins, having ideas, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideas, inspiration, literary fiction, mermaids, music for writing, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, publishing, Roz Morris, siren song, teenage love, The Friday Project, The Undercover Soundtrack, undercover soundtrack, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life, writing to music
My muse is in trouble. I’ve spent too long on facts and analysis. I’ve been longing to tackle the Mountains Novel. Ideas and concepts have been piling up in my files, but now my schedule allows, I can think only of practicalities. My notes look like thin nonsense. I only see the problems, not the potential.
This is what going to press – and e-press – does to your mind. These last weeks have been an orgy of pedantry. Crossing ts and eyes, making an index, hyperlinking cross-references, obeying format rules for the kingdoms of Smashwords, Kobo and Kindle, typesetting the print version, reading onscreen proofs, tweaking bloopers and doing it all again. Oh and I updated the typography in the original NYN too, so that was an extra dose of proofing.
Now, my muse is on strike. I need to win it round. Here’s what I’m doing.
Forgive me if this is the most air-headed post I’ve ever written. I’m blowing away cobwebs.
While finishing the characters book, I’ve been making a list of novels and memoirs that have resonated with themes and ideas I want to explore. There’s nothing like a good book to make me want to write.
Compiling a soundtrack
Of course I’m doing this. I’ve been collecting CDs for the car, tracks for running to. Some of them have come from others’ Undercover Soundtrack posts, especially Andy Harrod, Tom Bradley, Timothy Hallinan and a few that are currently a secret between me and the writers because they’re cued up in my inbox. Thank you, guys, for opening the windows.
Rediscovering the fun in connections
A few things that real-life friends have introduced me to these last few days that reminded me how homo sapiens is an endlessly creative creature.
I have a friend called David Bailey. Yes, like the famous photographer, but not related to him. Though my David Bailey does like taking photographs. And he’s spent much of his life grappling with scornful titters if he wields a camera. Last year, he was recruited for an advertising stunt, where 143 chaps called David Bailey gathered in London, put on black polonecks, were trained to use a whizzy camera and had to spend the day using each other’s middle names.
2 People lying down in Mexico
These foolish things inspire me. There’s something so adorable about found similarity. A brigade of guys called David Bailey, identically dressed and taking pictures. Ten beautifully composed photos where everyone is, curiously, lying down. I could detonate with delight. If I wrote a thousand words I wouldn’t get to the end of why.
Whether your art is visual, written or sonic, so much starts by taking the world and seeing patterns. Repetitions. Connections. One idea boldly takes the hand of another, one character finds another, one event causes another, fractalling on and on. They look as though they should always have been joined. I won’t make the same connections you do, and that’s what makes your art yours and my art mine.
What inspires you?
(Aside: this week, some of the David Bailey pictures are being sold on ebay to raise money for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity. One of them is by the very famous black polonecked David Bailey; one is by my black polonecked David JW Bailey, who also provided the pics for this post. See if you can tell which is which)
Andy Harrod, art, authors, beginnings, being creative, charity auction, connections, creativity, David Bailey, ebay, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, Fran Monks, gaming, how to be creative, how to get inspired, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideas, illustration, importance of reading, inspiration, literature, music for writers, music for writing, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, photographers, photography, publishing, reading, reading like a writer, reading list, Roz Morris, Samsung camera, The secret David Bailey, Timothy Hallinan, Tom Bradley, videogames, We Are David Bailey, writer's block, writing, writing life
My guest this week is part of a program that publishes unusual fiction that drenches all the senses. He describes Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin as both the ‘inner ear’ and the central nervous system of his novels which were written as collaborations with artists. His Undercover Soundtrack is wonderful, eerie, apocalyptic and elastic; his name is Tom Bradley – and you can meet him how on the Red Blog.
alexander, Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, artists, authors, central nervous system, collaborations, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideas, inner ear, inspiration, literary fiction, literature, music for writing, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, publishing, Roz Morris, senses, The Undercover Soundtrack, Tom Bradley, undercover soundtrack, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life, writing to music
It’s live! New Nail Your Novel book shows you how to create characters who keep readers hooked and make you want to tell stories
Three guesses what it’s about … but here’s the formal blurb…
How do you create characters who keep readers hooked? How do you write the opposite sex? Teenagers? Believable relationships? Historical characters? Enigmatic characters? Plausible antagonists and chilling villains? How do you understand a character whose life is totally unlike your own?
How do you write characters for dystopias? How do you make dialogue sing? When can you let the reader intuit what the characters are feeling and when should you spell it out?
I’ve mined 20 years’ worth of writing and critiquing experience to create this book. It contains all the pitfalls and sticky points for writers, laid out as a set of discussions that are easy to dip into. And it wouldn’t be a Nail Your Novel book without a good dose of games, exercises and questionnaires to help you populate a novel from scratch.
Whether you write a straightforward story-based genre or literary fiction, Bring Characters to Life will show you how to create people who enthrall readers – and make you want to tell stories.
If you like more heft in your hand, the 200+-page paperback is in progress, and will proceed as fast as an index can be built and proofs can fly the Atlantic.
Ebook price GBP £3.56 USD $5.50 (rough conversion estimate)
Amazon.co.uk, authors, beginners, Character, character building, character design, characters and viewpoint, characters emotion and viewpoint, characters in search of an author, characters with secrets, deepen your story, ebook price, entertainment, fiction, fiction characters masterclass, fictional characters, Fix and Finish With Confidence, great fictional characters, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write fiction, how to write fictional characters, how to write great characters, improve your novel, improve your novels characters, improve your writing, inspiration, literary fiction, literature, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, polishing, publishing, revising, Roz Morris, self-publishing, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing fiction, writing great characters, writing masterclass, writing tutorials
Sometimes I find there’s an inexplicable moment when the tune in my ears tells the story back to me and from then on is part of its world. My guest this week became wedded to a Ravel piano concerto when it started at exactly the moment he began a long, brooding sequence with a killer. He likes to write in public places and his playlist is forever topped up by suggestions from his wide fanbase. Indeed his musical roots run deep; in the 1970s he was in a band that recorded an album for Universal and which ultimately, minus him, became the gazillion-selling group Bread. How cool is that? As cool as this – songs he’s written have been recorded by a number of top artistes in several genres. Now he’s an Edgar- and Macavity-nominated author of thrillers and mysteries. Could it get any cooler? His name is Timothy Hallinan and I’m thrilled to have him on the Red Blog with his Undercover Soundtrack.
1970s pop, authors, Bread, deepen your story, Edgar Award, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, group bread, how to write a mystery novel, how to write a novel, how to write a thriller novel, ideas, inspiration, Macavity Award, music, music for writing, musical roots, My Memories of a Future Life, mysteries, mystery, mystery novels, mystery writers, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, publishing, Roz Morris, The Undercover Soundtrack, thriller novelist, thriller novels, thrillers, Timothy Hallinan, undercover soundtrack, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing in coffee shops, writing life, writing routine, writing to music
1) Get the characters talking This may sound obvious, but it’s an effort to break out of ordinary narration and hop into the characters’ heads. If we’re writing first person, we have to stop sharing the consciousness of their narrator to let the other people come alive. Writing down what each character says, in their own voices, will probably be quite enough to concentrate on in one pass.
2) Visuals Dialogue needs to be more than just a soundscape. Characters act while they speak. They shrug, pull faces, refill the kettle or polish a sword. The scene has to exist visually in the reader’s mind. While you’re writing, it’s easy to get tunnelled down one sense – usually aural – and forget that there are others.
3) Change As every scene must move the story on, we hope that each dialogue scene will contain something that matters to the characters. They can’t just natter for nothing. Even if they’re establishing their characteristics, it’s better if the scene does something else too. That could be a plot change or a shift in their relationship – perhaps the scene bonds them more tightly or creates rifts.
4) Reactions When your characters are talking, are they also reacting? If your other scenes show their internal dialogue, does this continue while they’re talking, or has this evaporated because you were concentrating on making them vocalise?
5) Subtext The scene might have more heft than a simple exchange of information. It might be a battle to get the upper hand. One character might be telling the other that he loves her, or to stop trying to find out what happened to the missing neighbour. The scene might have a layer that only one group of readers will understand: for instance, if the novel might be read by both adults and children, it may contain meanings that will only make sense to older readers.
6) Language Depending on your genre, the language might add a poetic dimension, reinforce your themes, reflect the characters’ different backgrounds and outlooks. Pathetic fallacy or your descriptions may add colour, feeding the texture and atmosphere of the novel.
7) Declutter Dialogue scenes are meant to run swiftly in the reader’s mind. Although we need context, action and description, we don’t need to add every breath and eyeblink. It may not matter that the character pours a glass of water while he lets out a sigh. You may have been too obvious with your allusions; the reader may be able to fill more blanks than you think. Let the scene sit for a few days, then go back with a fresh perspective and take out the clutter.
Do you have any steps to add? (Apart from a complete phase of changing your mind – which for me happens to me ad infinitum when I’m letting the characters talk to each other.) Share in the comments!
If you found this post useful, there’s an entire section on dialogue in Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters To Life. Weightless editions are ready right now, twinkling on the servers of Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Smashwords and Kobo.
GIVEAWAY Andrew Blackman is offering a signed copy of his novel A Virtual Love on The Undercover Soundtrack. For a chance to win, leave a comment on the post or share it on Twitter, Facebook, G+ or anywhere else (and don’t forget to leave a note saying where you shared it).
authors, Character, characterisation, characters, deepen your story, dialogue, dialogue scene, entertainment, fiction, fiction characters, Fix and Finish With Confidence, gaming, having ideas, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write dialogue, how to write great dialogue, inspiration, internal dialogue, literary fiction, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, narration, narrator, novel characters, novels, publishing, revising, Rewriting, Roz Morris, videogames, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life
Another Soundtracker returns this week, a new book under his belt. Andrew Blackman had set himself a steep challenge with his second novel. His story of love in the internet age had seven narrators, each needing their own voice and style. Early feedback from his agent said they weren’t distinct enough, and for a while, Andrew despaired of finding a solution. Then, as he always did in times of trouble, he turned to music. Which saved the day. He’s on the Red Blog with the Undercover Soundtrack to his second novel, A Virtual Love.
GIVEAWAY Andrew is offering a signed copy of A Virtual Love. For a chance to win, leave a comment on the post or share it on Twitter, Facebook, G+ or anywhere else (and don’t forget to leave a note saying where you shared it).
A Virtual Love, Andrew Blackman, authors, Character, character voices, characters, deepen your story, developing characters, dialogue, entertainment, facebook, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, having ideas, how to differentiate narrative voice, how to write a book, how to write a novel, how to write dialogue, ideas, inspiration, internet age, literary fiction, literature, multiple narrators, music for writing, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, polishing, publishing, revising, Rewriting, Roz Morris, seven narrators, soundtracker, The Undercover Soundtrack, times of trouble, undercover soundtrack, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life, writing style, writing to music
I heard a quote this week that I love: ‘All art aspires to the condition of music’. Meaning, it works beyond its medium; a direct connection with nerves and heart. This quote seems particularly to fit my guest this week. He says he writes from a need to understand, to uncensor, find meaning and connect with self and life. He prefers his music on vinyl (good man!) to better enjoy its sleeve art, and his book, Living Room Stories, is housed in a 7in record sleeve. How could you resist? He is Andy Harrod and he’s on the Red Blog with his Undercover Soundtrack.
GIVEAWAY Andy is giving away 1 handmade copy of Living Room Stories and a print of two from tearing at thoughts. To enter leave a comment or tweet the song that represents love for you. Andy will pick his favourite. If you take the tweet option, include the link to the post and the hashtag #undersound. Good luck!
79 Rat Press, 7in record sleeve, Andy Harrod, arts, authors, beauty, book giveaway, competition, deepen your story, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, giveaway, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideas, inspiration, literary fiction, literature, Living Room Stories, love stories, music, music for writing, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novels, publishing, record sleeve, Roz Morris, self-publishing, short stories, single, stories, style, The Undercover Soundtrack, undercover soundtrack, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life, writing to music
I have such conversations all the time, but never in that place. I was freelancing on the magazine where once upon a time I was a full-time sub-editor. It was a day of facts, punctuation, page proofs, libel-watching, house style, hard news and deadlines.
Then one of the desk editors told me he’d started a novel and we jumped universes.
First he told me he’d had a story idea. An idle ‘what if’ moment; an entertaining daydream. Then, purely to keep track, it became necessary to write it down.
One day he discovered a book that seemed made for this situation (not Nail Your Novel; we need to have words about that). Before then, he hadn’t known that author manuals existed. He hadn’t done writing exercises since his journalism training, but now he found himself drawing up character sheets and developing back stories.
Ideas continued to ambush him, raining out of the sky like the pieces from random jigsaws. He saw an outlandish person on the train. Big hat, fur coat and tarantula-tight jeans: exactly what his character would wear. Once transplanted into the manuscript, the character disobeyed the story plan and did something else. It’s now a crime novel, which my colleague didn’t intend, but the characters made him do it.
He’s a journalist. He finds the facts, gets the quotes and rattles out the words. This novel, though, is not playing ball. Although it follows him like a mental entourage, it only speaks and moves when he’s not at the keyboard or can’t grab a pen. Strap-hanging on the train, interviewing an expert. Even in the shower. He declared this with some outrage, as though the characters had snuck in and swiped the curtain. Which is pretty much how he regards the whole surprising business.
Writing has been my habit for so long that I’d forgotten what it was like when it was new. Of course we never stop honing our craft but these days my zone of discovery has shifted to marketing, finding where I fit and what new platform I need to learn. Although these tools and possibilities are fresh and exciting, it’s nice to be reminded how I got here and what it all comes back to.
Tell me: how did you get here?
Thanks for the drawing, Freya Hartas, used with permission
NEWS If you’re at the London Book Fair on Wednesday this week, drop by the Kobo stand where I’ll be Writer In Residence! This is a rather astonishing development and I’m still pinching myself, but I’ll write a roundup post afterwards where I can indulge the ‘wow’ moment and hopefully say something useful too. Navigate your way to stand Y505 in the digital zone between 2.30 and 3pm on Wednesday 17th April (or instruct your nose to find coffee because it’s near the cafe).
authors, beginners, books, crime fiction, entertainment, fiction, Fix and Finish With Confidence, having ideas, how to write a book, how to write a novel, ideas, inspiration, Kobo, literature, London Book Fair 2013, My Memories of a Future Life, Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, novelist, novelists, novels, Planning, publishing, Roz Morris, self-publishing, starting to write, writing, writing a novel - Nail Your Novel, writing life
Sign up for my newsletter
- 'If you're a writer or are considering becoming a writer, buy Roz's Nail Your Novel and Stephen King's On Writing. Everything else is a waste of time and money.'
- 'Showed me where I was going wrong... without making me feel like an idiot'
- 'Made me want to drop everything and get back to the manuscript'
Rozmorriswriter [at] gmail [dot] com
Find me here too
- 'An essential reference for #writers' Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life- bit.ly/16bR6nU 9 hours ago
- Thanks for RT @fcmalby: Powerful Storytelling: Getting Readers to Fill the Blanks @KMWeiland helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/05/a-powe… #writing #writetip 13 hours ago
- Thanks for RT and #ff @mischievousmali: Powerful Storytelling: Getting Readers to Fill the Blanks bit.ly/186B6C3 #writetip #fiction 14 hours ago
- RT @porter_anderson: "Speech is carried off by the wind; the written word can never be obliterated" Mo Yan #Nobel ow.ly/l9reu 1 day ago
All content copyright Roz Morris 2009-2013 and may not be reproduced.
If you wish to REBLOG a post, that's very nice of you - please take no more than 10% of the piece and please link back to the full post here.
INTENSIVE MULTIMEDIA COURSE WITH ROZ MORRIS AND JOANNA PENN
What do you want to read about today?
It’s all here somewhereagents Amazon authors beginners beginnings books Character deepen your story entertainment fiction Fix and Finish With Confidence having ideas how to write a book how to write a novel ideas inspiration interview Kindle literary fiction literature music music for writing My Memories of a Future Life Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence novels Planning Plot polishing publishing revising Rewriting Roz Morris self-publishing The Undercover Soundtrack unblocking undercover soundtrack writer's block writing writing a novel - Nail Your Novel writing business writing life writing prompt writing routine writing to music
Type something. See what happens
- When to trust the reader’s intuition – and when to spell out what a character feels: post at KM Weiland’s Wordplay
- ‘True love is a sense of returning home’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Caroline Smailes
- Only connect: how to wake a dormant muse
- 3 ways the author temperament hinders our writing – post at Authors Electric
- ‘Art that engages the sixth sense’ – The Undercover Soundtrack, Tom Bradley
Out and about
Alliance of Independent Authors Professional Member