Writing Sensory

When you are writing your story, there is an easy out of telling the reader what the character sees, hears, feels, etc. But telling is a big no. You, the writer, needs to bring the reader in so they can experience what the character is feeling. To do so, you need to write by appealing to those senses.

The senses are:

  • Taste
  • Touch
  • See
  • Hear
  • Smell

 

Seeing and hearing are some of the easiest writings. But how do you get across the other three without over doing it? Simple – space them out. Not every page or scene needs to have the character tasting food or smelling perfume. If there is a long span of dialogue and plot movement, slow a section down by adding in the character take a sip of water. Note how refreshing it is and how parched they were. Or have the character flipping through a book and suddenly they get a paper cut. Those are both small moments, but as humans, we all can relate to. We can mentally feel the stinging of the paper cut and see the bright red blood as it starts seeping from the wound. Or after a long bout of exercise, our lips are dry and capped. No amount of swallowing saliva will dull that sore ache in the back of the dry sore throat. The cool clean splash of water on the tongue is beyond refreshing.

These are only simple ideas but they add to the character and story by making them relatable and shows the story rather than telling.

For an exercise: Take your favorite book or the book you are currently reading and have a notebook at your side. Each time the author notes one of these senses, jot it down. You can see clearly just how important it is to apply to each of the senses.

L. R. Mauck

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Stay Focus in Your Writing

Many writers will find themselves staring at their work, knowing they need to write, but suddenly, getting the house clean or fixing supper becomes more important. Their writing suffers in the mean time. I see this constantly on Twitter as many will even joke that they are turning off their phones and internet so they can focus on their writing, but instead post later that their dishes are clean and the house carpets were shampooed.

Yes, I believe there are times that we find ourselves falling into the trap of being intimidated by our own work or even lacking the inspiration needed to keep going. Then the lovely writer blocks appear and they are some of the worst things to happen to a story.

But you are a writer. If you are anything like me or several other writers, we can’t turn our brain’s off. Even in the writer’s block stage, our brain’s are thinking of other stories or key plot’s for the current story that is not ready to be written yet.

Here are a few ways I have worked through the distractions:

  1. Keep a timer next to your computer. I will set my timer to an hour or two hours at a time with a word count goal in mind. I must complete the word count in that time frame. If I accomplish it, then I get a reward of a coffee or dessert. If I don’t, then I reset the timer for another half hour and focus on reaching the goal word count. This method has yet to fail me on reaching the goal.
  2. If you are experiencing a writer’s block – there is only a couple of reasons why I believe you are dealing with this:
    1. Your story has become boring to you and that shows in your writing. It may be a slow point in the plot and you are lacking creativity or it may be that you are thinking of other points of the story. My only recommendation is to push through it. You may have to grit your teeth or change your outline, but it will pay off in the end. Anything that does not seem to sit with you in this period, ignore it and fix it later in the revision. All you need to do is focus on getting your story down.
    2. Another plot has come to the forefront and you can not focus on your current story because you want to pursue the new idea. My suggestion is to write down everything of the new story. You don’t necessary have to start writing it, but write down the plot. Maybe even start an outline. Some of my better plot’s come to me months later after I first thought of the idea. But focus on your current story while you are thinking of your other one. You’ve already done the hard work on your current story, keep at it.
  3. Join clubs to help your focus. The NaNoWriMo is starting in November. This is an online writer’s community that sets a goal for the writer’s to achieve. For the month of November, the goal is 50,000 words. You can track your progress online and interact with the supper groups on the website. Much of the twitter writer community is also involved in NaNoWriMo. I’m looking forward to working alongside many other’s next month.

For my Weekend Challenge – sign up for the NaNoWriMo and participate next month.

I wish you all luck in your writing progress. Keep writing, keep learning.

L.R. Mauck

Beginning the Rough Draft

I mentally picture Chevy Chase character in the 1988 movie Funny Farm where he’s sitting at his type writer. Chase types up a title page, then a chapter cover sheet, but he can’t write the first sentence. I’ve previously discussed outlines, character personalities, plots, dialogs, the climax, and etc. But the hardest part is actually starting your rough draft.

In the opening chapter, you need to lay the ground work of your plot, the point of view, and the introduction to your main character(s). Some books will start with memorable quotes or themes (the epigraph) prior to the start of the actual chapter (or before the prologue) – example Twilight with the Genesis quote – to lay the ground work for the story beginning. Other books start with a memorable opening of their own – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickson in A Tale of Two Cities.

Do not be discouraged with trying to come up with something profound as an opening sentence, but focus first on just getting the story written. The rough draft is exactly that: rough. You do not need to focus on correct sentence, spelling, or if it even makes sense yet (though, it will help in your revisions if you do). It is your job to write and let your imagination flow. The worst thing for a writer is to have an amazing story, but unable to share it because they are stuck with the intro. Do NOT let it intimidate you.

Look at your outline closely, and if you are struggling, break down the outline with what you want to happen in your opening chapter. Then type along with the outline.

If you seriously can’t think of a way to open your story – paint your character doing something completely normal. Outline their average day then drop the bomb on them with the start of your story.

* Think of Harry Potter, the first book – the opening chapter only mention Harry as a relation, and that was trying to remember his name. It did outline a sub-character, the uncle, day at work, then slowly added the oddity that he missed at first, then started seeing as the day progressed.

Do not begin with “It was a warm summer day” or “The alarm rang, waking up” the character – those are cliche type openings. Stay away from cliche’s.

If your story calls for it, open with action. It will draw the reader in and they’ll want to keep reading to see what happens.

If none of these options work and you can’t think of an opening chapter then skip it and work on what you do have planned. You can always write in another chapter later, or through your revisions, you can edit what you do have written to make it your story start.

The goal with the rough draft is to get your story down. Fixing loop holes, and spelling can come later through the revisions.

Keep writing, keep learning.

L. R. Mauck

The Villain’s End

I’m sure you have noticed in the majority of books that deal with good versus evil, the villain dies at the end. Unless it’s comic books and in that case the villains never seem to die.

It’s ingrained in our moral conscience that good triumphs over evil and the only way to defeat said evil is that it must be completely eliminated. Most wouldn’t be satisfied unless the world/story is rid of the evil villain. The death would also pay for the innocent lives related to the evilness. We want the world to be good. We want the hero to have that happily ever after so they no longer (ever) have to deal with the ordeal the author has already put them through.

But…

I would like you to keep the options open. Why does the evil villain have to die? Why would his/her death pay for those sins committed? In my opinion, a death seems too easy of an out for an evil character and imagination. I mean the possibilities are almost endless on how a person can die, but does the villain really need to die?

The biblical proverb of reaping what we sow would fit better. Make that villain pay for their deeds. I’m not saying that you have to go tooth for tooth, but surely more stories can end with the character being exiled or have a just punishment that involves the villain getting exactly what they feared.

Example: if the character feared loosing the game, make them lose it. If a villain fought against a country to try overpowering it, make the villain instead be overpowered and know that it was his greed that caused his army to fall. Or have all his commanding forces betray him by switching sides and he’s left with no power.

Or a twist – have the villain right their wrong. Think of the Grinch from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Think as the villain as human. We all make mistakes and some of those choices can lead us down a wrong path and once we’re on that path, it’s too hard to leave it.

Or have the hero and the villain be the same character. The hero makes a whole array of decisions and they keep snowballing to negative results only to have at the end the hero finally makes the right choice.

Or another twist – have the hero fail. How would the villain succeed? How would that change the story? Why does there have to be a happily ever after? William Shakespeare wrote several tragedies and they are successful, even centuries later. And if you try arguing that it was the era of limited entertainment and that was why his plays were successful – research that before assuming it as so. Copies of Shakespeare’s work were limited and on average were first published a couple of years up to several decades after the plays were performed (Shakespeare Chronology).

And you can’t get away without me adding another Harry Potter thought.

Consider Voldemort – it seemed simple that his final death was the result of a backfire of Harry’s disarming spell. It was a huge series of best selling books and movies world wide, but Voldemort death only took one paragraph. Sure they circled each other having a chat before the two spells were cast, but what if Voldemort didn’t die from the backfiring and he was actually disarmed then captured? If Voldemort was so focused on separating his soul into the Horcruxes so he couldn‘t die, than wouldn’t another option have been to have the last remaining piece of his soul sucked out by one of his own creatures, a Dementor? So then his body would be a soulless empty shell that he could rot away in Azkaban. Lets face it, that would probably be Voldemort’s first and only “kiss” regardless.

These are just a few suggestions rather than taking the simple death ending of the villain. Don’t stay within the little box. Step outside it and push the boundaries with your story.

“There is no ceiling on your potential” – Chester Bennington.

L. R. Mauck

Fall Season Prompt

pumpkin

Attention writers! I would personally like to issue a prompt to help with your creativity/writing. I want you to have fun with it. It can be a short story, it can be a poem, a children’s book idea, or even the start to actual novel you would like to write.

 

  • The prompt is: Halloween
  • Due date: October 31st
  • Word Count: Any

You can posted it on your blog or email it to me if you would like.

L. R. Mauck

The Circular Story

What I am dubbing the “Circular Story” is not about a well rounded story that covers all the subplots and has a fantastic plot line that ends similar to how it began. Nope. I’m meaning those stories that seem to keep circling around the same topic and never seem to move along with the actual story or gets to the plot.

If you haven’t come across one of these books, then picture a family member or an annoying friend who had received some honor at work and for that first month, that was all they could talk about. After hearing the same story repeated four or more times in a row, you get sick of hearing it. You’re happy for that person, but ugh.

I’m sure several of us have read these type of books. Very few can use the same argument or same conversation (over and over and over again) to their advantage (the movie Groundhogs Day, for example), but a huge majority of these stories seem as if the author is beating a dead horse. I tend to start scanning the book to seek out where the story starts moving again, and if I can’t immediately find it within the next few pages, it becomes a very difficult book for me to get back into. Sometimes, I stop reading altogether.

Things to look for in your book:

  1. Does your characters have the same conversation/topic repeat more than once within your book?
  2. Does the same situation (event, battle, meetings) occur?
  3. If a mystery, how many times does the detective repeat the clues throughout the book?

How to fix it:

  1. Repeated conversations can work if there is more information or if it is in a thought process expanding the details to move the plot along. But if it is of two character’s arguing and one character has apologized several times, but yet the other character keeps coming back that the other has lied. This argument gets old. There is only so many times a person will typically apologize in person before giving up and storming from the room or the other reveals more of why the lying bothered them so much in the first place. Don’t make the same argument go on for multiple pages or keep reappearing throughout the novel. Your plot needs to keep moving to the climax. If the characters can’t resolve their conflict, make them rivals. Or have them agree to disagree.
  2. I know locations are important in books as they are in real life, but I what I mean by the same situation reoccurring is for the same conflict arises each time the characters return to the scene. Example: woman feeling like someone is watching her every time she walks out to her car after a late night shift. If it is that situation, you need to explain why she feels that way, or insert a noise that makes her scared. Or plan to create shadows or an actual character passing by to frighten her. This situation can be repeated a couple of times just to establish that she has a reason for the fear, but keep it short and simple until you plan on revealing something major a that shadow or character. Don’t make your readers predict what is going to happen just because you arrived at the same place. Give it a plot twist.
    1. If you’re writing a romance novel and want a good plot twist – do something similar to what Disney Frozen did – don’t have the princess fall for the prince at the end. Go for an unlikely character that ends up being a prefect match. Maybe the best friend of the initial love interest or so forth.
  3. This goes along with the repeated conversation, but it also carries into the narration of the story as well. Don’t repeat yourself more than needed. Take that detective – he doesn’t need to repeat each clue to everyone he comes in to contact with each time something happens. Or, for the narrator, don’t keep repeating each step of the plot as each new scene unfolds. That becomes filler for the story and slows the plot down. You can shorten it to saying that the detective met with the task force to discuss the new findings. Simple and done.

You need to focus on moving your plot along. The longer the character’s stand still or circles around the same topic, the slower your story becomes. It makes it harder for the reader to be invested in your work and to remember the details that point to the climax.

L. R. Mauck

(Please forgive any mistakes. I wrote this late last night and am too tired to proof read.)

Weekend Challenge #23

challengeChoose your profession or a dream job and give a brief scenario of a plot surrounding the job. You can do any genre you would like.

For example: A murder mystery surrounding a bakery. A Chef discovers a rare chocolate. The chef proceeds to use it on the best choice of treats. However, when the rare chocolate is mixed with baking soda, it creates a strong poison.