The Six Ds of Dialogue by C.D. Hersh

Dialogue is paramount in any story. Dialogue is the backbone of stage plays and screenplays, and is what actors memorize. Dialogue is the hinge pin of novels, especially in today’s fast-paced, want-the-story-to move-forward world. Yet, for many writers dialogue is the hardest thing to write. We can fill pages upon pages with purple prose, narrative, and information dumps, but often avoid dialogue.

Why? Maybe we’re afraid our characters will sound stupid, or their words will be stilted. Perhaps writers fear their characters will sound flat, or they will say too much or too little.

Or maybe we think our characters will sound the same, because, after all, it’s only one person creating all those different voices.

Personally, we find ourselves writing dialogue first then going back and filling in the narrative, the senses and other parts of the story. Maybe that’s because of our acting or playwriting background. Sometimes we must scrap the dialogue, having discovered some of the problems mentioned above. At any rate, along our writing journey we’ve picked up a few tips to help with writing dialogue that we’d like to share with you. We hope you find them helpful.

  1. Deliver content. Every word, every scene, every sentence in your book should move the story forward. Dialogue is part of that forward motion. Use dialogue to propel your story forward by revealing new obstacles, introducing pivotal moments in the plot, reminding the character of goal, and deepening emotions. Don’t waste words on unnecessary stuff like greetings, talk about the weather, discussion about the song on the radio (unless it will figure in the story later) or idle chit-chat inserted to fill time or make up word counts. Get right to the point.
  2. Differentiate voice. No one person sounds like another. The way my sister pronounces the word “picture” is unlike anyone else, and I’d recognize her voice anywhere. Make sure your characters’ voices are just as distinctive. Give them different cadences, different speaking styles, different words, different sentence lengths. Listen to people speak and use those nuances in your characters’ dialogue.
  3. Define tone. Dialogue sets the mood for your story just like narrative does. Characters in a humorous book sound unlike those in a horror book. Chick lit dialogue is very different from that of a hard-hitting cop drama, and a magically based book’s characters would certainly not sound like the teenage characters in YA novel. When creating your characters’ dialogue make sure you take the tone of the book into consideration.
  4. Drop in description. Normally, writers use blocks of narrative to describe setting and provide background information. By dropping bits of description, background, or historical information into dialogue you can let the reader learn what he needs to know at that moment in the story.
  5. Don’t be didactic. Providing information in your story is important. Just make sure you don’t drop so much description and background into the dialogue that you turn what should be quick, informative conversations into dialogue description dumps.
  6. Dial up the conflict. Use your conversations to create tension and suspense. Speed up the scenes by eliminating most of the description and explanations. Make sentences short and fast. Make the conflict and risks clear, but hold back some information so suspense remains high.

If you have trouble writing dialogue, try writing the first draft of your scene as a script. No narrative, just dialogue. Then read it out loud to see how it sounds. You’ll be surprised at the results.

Is dialogue hard for you to write?

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Candlelight Christmas at Biltmore House by Gail Ingis

Candlelight Christmas at Biltmore

Christmas at Biltmore House is unlike any other. When you are there it’s like you have traveled back in time to the Gilded Age. Tom and I visited Biltmore House a few years ago while I was researching my first book, Indigo Sky.  Biltmore House, was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, the youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, near Asheville, North Carolina in 1889-1895. At 178,926 square feet, it is considered the largest privately owned home in the United States, It is still owned by Vanderbilt family.

Biltmore House has become famous for its celebration of Candlelight Christmas, which is celebrated  every evening throughout the holiday season, starting just before Thanksgiving, presented as though the Vanderbilt family are your hosts. Tom and I spent three nights at the Inn at Biltmore on the grounds of the estate and enjoyed tea in the afternoon, lunch at the Bistro, dinner in the dining room. Five star accommodations, five star food and five star grounds.

The Vanderbilt rail empire was created by Biltmore’s George Vanderbilt’s grandfather, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who died in 1877. It was Commodore that bought out LeGrand Lockwood after Black Friday gold panic in July 1869 when Lockwood lost his empire. The same Lockwood who built the Lockwood Mansion (now the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum) in Norwalk, Connecticut. The same Lockwood who commissioned Albert Bierstadt to paint “Domes of the Yosemite.”

Most of my readers know about my journey writing about the life of painter Albert Bierstadt. My visit to Biltmore Estate was inspired by my research while I was painting a copy of Domes of the Yosemite and henceforth, inspired a fictional historical romance novel.

If you ever get the chance to travel to Biltmore House, you will never forget it. It has become one of the most popular destinations for weddings and other special events and for Tom and me, it was a truly memorable and special Holiday visit.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter and interior designer. Her upcoming romance The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be released on Valentine’s Day. Her current historical romance, Indigo Sky can be purchased on amazon.

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NaNoWriMo 2017-Fantasy and Real Life Collide

Once again, I find myself in the middle of NaNoWriMo, and was keeping up with writing every day when real life intruded. I got my start writing creative nonfiction trying to make sense of and add perspective to my real life experiences. But it got so hard to keep running into walls, and writing speculative fiction lets me walk through them, which is a lot less painful.

I begin weekdays with a five thirty am alarm, a hellish commute, and days full of heartbreaking tales of neglect, poverty, trauma and the aftermath. I love my work,  but after eight to twelve hours, five days a week, doing anything but collapsing when I get home is usually impossible. NaNoWriMo has always been helpful to make progress on stalled projects. And this one, a gritty urban fantasy set in the South Bronx with Puerto Rican characters, fell way behind schedule while I worked to get all three books in the Unfinished Business series finished and published this year.

The last two weeks of real life have been particularly bad, topped off by the end of Daylight Savings Time. Plus, I am preparing for deployment to Puerto Rico to assist on a  medical recovery mission.

I may be four days behind in NaNo, but the inevitable intersection between real life and fiction might work to my advantage. I visited Puerto Rico not long ago, for pleasure and for research for this series. El Yunque  and the more rugged, remote Torre Negro rain forests that house my fairies and harbor my heroine have been decimated by Hurricane Maria.

This time, I’ll be going with a group sponsored by a coalition of labor unions in New York City, including the New York State Nurses’ Association. I’ve been warned about the mosquitos, and the long days in very difficult conditions. In addition to updating my vaccines, I’ll pull out the equipment I used on my Peruvian adventure including a sturdy flashlight, a paper and pen diary and a battery operated voice recorder.

I doubt I will be visiting El Yunque or Torre Negro this time, but the memories I’ve recorded from the last trip have served me well. Weather magic and mayhem figure heavily in this novel series, and the first book contains both an earthquake and a hurricane. I’m sure there will be plenty of inspiration, for plot twists I haven’t imagined yet.

I’m no stranger to real life and death drama, and my training has prepared me well for this assignment. This material may be the most dramatic yet for my memoir, and I expect for Book Two of the Boulevard of Bad Spells and Broken dreams as well.

From NaNo Day # 8

Cassandra interrupted and picked up a large basket. “Taina, we must go to the village for our daily supplies. I’m sure you and Arnaldo have much to speak about.”

“Can I give you money? I brought some to buy things for Taina and the baby.” Arnaldo let go of her and struggled to get his wallet out of the back pocket of his too tight jeans.

“We barter and trade here. Save that for when you reenter the mundane world.” Serena winked, and the two older women left him and Taina to get reacquainted. Five months was a long time, and it suddenly seemed much longer.

Taina wore her power well. “So, you’re finally in PR. I’d hoped to be able to show you the Island.

He glanced around to see if there were any fairies on watch. “Yeah, but I’m sure there are no tourists around here.”

“No, this is the ether between the real world and the Fae lands. It’s cloaked and soaked with magick. It drips from the trees, you drink it, walk on it. Wash with it. Breathe it and live it. I’m not sure I want to go back to The Bronx.”

 

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The Write Word with Wareeze

The Character Supporting the Villain

Hello again friends, readers, and authors. Thank you for taking time to read my contribution to this month’s Soul Mates Publishing blog. We have discussed, examined, and looked behind the scenes of writing a novel. I have written about scene setting, goal setting, the heroine’s role, the hero’s part in the story, the supporting characters, and the villain.

Today, I am dissecting the evil secondary character, the bad guy supporting the villain. Someone with a low moral character, usually a secondary citizen, in appearance, in standing with society, and in personal confidence in himself or herself, easily swayed, and willing to follow a downward path. He/she is contemptuous of others and considers himself/herself superior to those around him/her.

WW_ALadysVanishingChoices_400x600

Case in point: #1 A Lady’s Vanishing Choices excerpt

On the seedy edge of London, Freddy ambled into the Red Rooster Tavern and headed for the taproom. Peeking around the door into the dim interior of the building, he glanced at the only patron in sight. The customer leaned against the bar with a glass in his hand, staring down into the content.

Freddy hated the odor of strong whisky mixed with ale permeating the place. He gulped in a breath of air, lowered his lids, and peered further into the room to locate the Frenchman. He headed toward the gentleman sprawled nonchalantly in a chair in the shadowy corner. Glasses and a bottle sat on the table before him. Freddy picked his way to the back of the taproom through the empty, scuffed tables with up-ended chairs atop them. Flopping down in a chair across from the Frenchman, he grabbed a glass. The Frenchman poured a measure of whiskey into the tumbler and settled back in his chair.

“Well?”

“Never mind politeness,” Freddy sneered.

“I’m warning you,” the Frenchman hissed. His cold, dark eyes held a deadly glint. “My patience is nearly at an end, Agent.”

Freddy held up one hand. “No sense in getting into a pucker, Gentleman—if you will.” He continued in a lowered voice. “I searched the entire place, every drawer, everything. I was nearly caught too.”

“What?”

“A parlor maid came looking for me. I flirted with her earlier, and she was most obliging,” Freddy finished with a grin. “I dropped a hint in the housekeeper’s ear, so likely the maid will be turned off.” He sniggered. “She’ll probably be blamed for everything.”

“Get to the point,” the Frenchman demanded with an exasperated sigh.

“I found his papers. No names were mentioned and the memorandum wasn’t there either. Never expected it to be, so no loss.”  Freddy swallowed a sip of whiskey and coughed, wiping his mouth with a linen handkerchief. “A warning, if you please. Officials are searching high and low for your sister.”

The Frenchman gave a cold laugh. “My half-sister, to be exact, but let ‘em search. The authorities will never find her. I’m above half too clever for those blokes. I buried her name with a body. Joliet is no more. She now has another.”

“I say, that is clever.”

“Enough of that.” The Frenchman waved dismissively. “You need to make another attempt to locate that memorandum. It’s vitally important.”

“I realize that. Gentleman, since that is what you prefer to be called. Don’t be concerned. I plan to make another trip to the Horse Guards while I’m in town.”

“Don’t try to antagonize me.” The Frenchman flung his head back and shot a withering stare at Freddy. “Be very cautious when next you appear at the Horse Guards.”

“Posh. I’ve been running tame at their headquarters for the last ten years. Nobody thinks anything of it.” He thinks he’s so superior. Still, perhaps I should heed him. Freddy forced out a chuckle. “I have always admired their jack-o-dandy uniforms, you know. Nothing is going to happen.” He lowered his voice and glanced around. “Even if I snag that memorandum, what’s to stop the military from changing plans?”

The Frenchman smiled with a grimace of his lips. “Changing the launch site and date of thousands of troops would be close to impossible—and costly. Wellington won’t risk it.”

After thinking on it for a moment, Freddy gave a curt nod. “Consider it done. I have an idea where the memorandum is kept. Probably somewhere in the same location I collected the list of the half English, half French agents undercover for the crown.”

“Don’t be too cocksure. Be cautious.” A heated expression flared in the Frenchman’s eyes. “That damn list of traitors. Half English, half French. Half foolish is my take on the blighters. At any rate, it is in code. I have someone decoding it even now. I hope this memorandum we’re searching for isn’t in the same condition.”

“Waste of precious time. When I have the thing, I’ll leave it in our usual hiding place.” Freddy stood to his feet. “I’ll let you know when we meet in a week or perhaps a little longer.”

He saluted the Frenchman with his glass, gulped another swallow, and strode to the exit.

 

The villain always has a motive and justification for his deeds, however monstrous in the world’s opinion, as does the supporting evil-doer. As depicted in the excerpt, Freddy is contemptuous of the Frenchman but is afraid to cross the villain. The supporting character doesn’t care for the title of Agent, but he acquiesces to the use of the name to placate the arch villain. Although Freddy assures the Frenchman he can secure the memorandum, his confidence comes from his contempt for society in general and defiance of his father’s opinion of him, not stated in this excerpt but implied in his visit to a seedy tavern, drinking and running with a low-life crowd.

 

Case in Point: #2 excerpt: An Enduring Love

Final An Enduring Love (small)

Even with her back turned to the room, the deep, menacing growl in Beau’s throat rumbled in her ears. Rebecca froze for a moment and the hairs at the nape of her neck stood on end. A chill raced down her spine as she reached for her pistol. Having no intentions of watching the dog suffer a grievous wound trying to protect her when she had a perfectly lethal weapon at the ready, she placed a restraining hand on his head. She whirled around with her gun in her hand at the same moment a quick tap sounded before the door opened.

Her worst nightmare stood in the doorway. Gorgi Weister and he had a quilt thrown over his arm. The glimmer of his golden hair in the lamp light added dimension to his handsome features and the diabolical grin sent another shiver down her spine. An angel of light, such was Satan. She shook the fanciful thought away.

“Well, well, well,” he drawled, his voice soft and low.

Rebecca’s gaze locked with his and he stood perfectly still, smug in his arrogance, knowing fear of him would come. She knew from the past, he loved power and control. Forcing her expression to remain as blank as possible, she leveled her pistol straight at his heart. “Stay where you are and raise your hands.”

He grinned. “How very female of you, my dear. I mean no harm.”

Her voice quivered, but she forced the gun barrel to remain level. “Where is my Johnny?”

He shrugged. “Now Rebecca. How would I know?”

“Then, what are you doing here?”

He motioned to the coverlet he held out. “I thought to bring this quilt back to the boy.” Weister raised a brow. “He hid when my men were by here. I’m afraid bad manners allowed them to borrow this covering. May I at least rid myself of the thing?” Without waiting for her approval, he eased the quilt on a nearby chair. Weister failed to lift his hands completely, almost complying with her former command, but not quite. “The boy shouldn’t suffer for its loss and, lo and behold, my good deed is rewarded.” He extended both arms. “Look what I found.”

Rebecca held her hand steady, but she trembled on the inside, afraid her pounding heart might burst. The low rumble coming from Beau reassured her. She could always set him to attack. “Tommy isn’t about at the moment.”

“No, I’m aware. Neither is that rather neglectful Lord Sudduth.” He smirked and shook his head. “Alone again with no protection.”

She waved her gun at him. “I have my pistol. That’s all the protection I need.”

With a condescending twist of his lips, he stared at her. “Rebecca, Rebecca, my dear. How brave, but foolish you are.”

At that moment, Beau gave a vicious growl followed by a snarling bark and jerked away from her hand. Rebecca rounded to observe Bruno in the act of slamming the butt of his rifle towards Beau’s head. She shot immediately, but the gun stock still hit Beau a glancing blow and he went down with a yelp. Bruno grabbed his chest and crumpled to his knees before he toppled completely over. He laid without moving, his features frozen in fixed horror.

Rebecca didn’t regret killing him, but taking a life made her stomach roil with revulsion. She swallowed to keep the bile from choking her.

Weister gazed down at his fallen minion before glancing at Rebecca. “That is a shame. My best man too.” He grimaced. “Still, he failed to shoot your husband. Shot the horse instead.” Stepping towards her, he continued in a mocking tone. “Your weapon is no longer loaded and all for a dog. Tch! Tch! What will you do now?”

 

In contrast, this minion was willing to commit murder, and to kill a dog, the dirty coward. He followed orders, using his vicious tendencies and proclivities for evil in the service of his master.

The secondary villain also has a reason for his bad behavior, not always revealed, except to assume he did his evil deeds for money. That can certainly be assumed by the reader.

Thank you again for sharing your time with me. To discover more about my writing (books published) and my works in progress, visit my website: https://www.wareezewoodson.com

Visit my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wareeze-Woodson/523727757689755

Respectfully,

Wareeze Woodson

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | Leave a comment

The Write Word with Wareeze

The Character Supporting the Villain

Hello again friends, readers, and authors. Thank you for taking time to read my contribution to this month’s Soul Mates Publishing blog. We have discussed, examined, and looked behind the scenes of writing a novel. I have written about scene setting, goal setting, the heroine’s role, the hero’s part in the story, the supporting characters, and the villain.

Today, I am dissecting the evil secondary character, the bad guy supporting the villain. Someone with a low moral character, usually a secondary citizen, in appearance, in standing with society, and in personal confidence in himself or herself, easily swayed, and willing to follow a downward path. He/she is contemptuous of others and considers himself/herself superior to those around him/her.

WW_ALadysVanishingChoices_400x600

Case in point: #1 A Lady’s Vanishing Choices excerpt

On the seedy edge of London, Freddy ambled into the Red Rooster Tavern and headed for the taproom. Peeking around the door into the dim interior of the building, he glanced at the only patron in sight. The customer leaned against the bar with a glass in his hand, staring down into the content.

Freddy hated the odor of strong whisky mixed with ale permeating the place. He gulped in a breath of air, lowered his lids, and peered further into the room to locate the Frenchman. He headed toward the gentleman sprawled nonchalantly in a chair in the shadowy corner. Glasses and a bottle sat on the table before him. Freddy picked his way to the back of the taproom through the empty, scuffed tables with up-ended chairs atop them. Flopping down in a chair across from the Frenchman, he grabbed a glass. The Frenchman poured a measure of whiskey into the tumbler and settled back in his chair.

“Well?”

“Never mind politeness,” Freddy sneered.

“I’m warning you,” the Frenchman hissed. His cold, dark eyes held a deadly glint. “My patience is nearly at an end, Agent.”

Freddy held up one hand. “No sense in getting into a pucker, Gentleman—if you will.” He continued in a lowered voice. “I searched the entire place, every drawer, everything. I was nearly caught too.”

“What?”

“A parlor maid came looking for me. I flirted with her earlier, and she was most obliging,” Freddy finished with a grin. “I dropped a hint in the housekeeper’s ear, so likely the maid will be turned off.” He sniggered. “She’ll probably be blamed for everything.”

“Get to the point,” the Frenchman demanded with an exasperated sigh.

“I found his papers. No names were mentioned and the memorandum wasn’t there either. Never expected it to be, so no loss.”  Freddy swallowed a sip of whiskey and coughed, wiping his mouth with a linen handkerchief. “A warning, if you please. Officials are searching high and low for your sister.”

The Frenchman gave a cold laugh. “My half-sister, to be exact, but let ‘em search. The authorities will never find her. I’m above half too clever for those blokes. I buried her name with a body. Joliet is no more. She now has another.”

“I say, that is clever.”

“Enough of that.” The Frenchman waved dismissively. “You need to make another attempt to locate that memorandum. It’s vitally important.”

“I realize that. Gentleman, since that is what you prefer to be called. Don’t be concerned. I plan to make another trip to the Horse Guards while I’m in town.”

“Don’t try to antagonize me.” The Frenchman flung his head back and shot a withering stare at Freddy. “Be very cautious when next you appear at the Horse Guards.”

“Posh. I’ve been running tame at their headquarters for the last ten years. Nobody thinks anything of it.” He thinks he’s so superior. Still, perhaps I should heed him. Freddy forced out a chuckle. “I have always admired their jack-o-dandy uniforms, you know. Nothing is going to happen.” He lowered his voice and glanced around. “Even if I snag that memorandum, what’s to stop the military from changing plans?”

The Frenchman smiled with a grimace of his lips. “Changing the launch site and date of thousands of troops would be close to impossible—and costly. Wellington won’t risk it.”

After thinking on it for a moment, Freddy gave a curt nod. “Consider it done. I have an idea where the memorandum is kept. Probably somewhere in the same location I collected the list of the half English, half French agents undercover for the crown.”

“Don’t be too cocksure. Be cautious.” A heated expression flared in the Frenchman’s eyes. “That damn list of traitors. Half English, half French. Half foolish is my take on the blighters. At any rate, it is in code. I have someone decoding it even now. I hope this memorandum we’re searching for isn’t in the same condition.”

“Waste of precious time. When I have the thing, I’ll leave it in our usual hiding place.” Freddy stood to his feet. “I’ll let you know when we meet in a week or perhaps a little longer.”

He saluted the Frenchman with his glass, gulped another swallow, and strode to the exit.

 

The villain always has a motive and justification for his deeds, however monstrous in the world’s opinion, as does the supporting evil-doer. As depicted in the excerpt, Freddy is contemptuous of the Frenchman but is afraid to cross the villain. The supporting character doesn’t care for the title of Agent, but he acquiesces to the use of the name to placate the arch villain. Although Freddy assures the Frenchman he can secure the memorandum, his confidence comes from his contempt for society in general and defiance of his father’s opinion of him, not stated in this excerpt but implied in his visit to a seedy tavern, drinking and running with a low-life crowd.

 

Final An Enduring Love (small)

Case in Point: #2 excerpt: An Enduring Love

Even with her back turned to the room, the deep, menacing growl in Beau’s throat rumbled in her ears. Rebecca froze for a moment and the hairs at the nape of her neck stood on end. A chill raced down her spine as she reached for her pistol. Having no intentions of watching the dog suffer a grievous wound trying to protect her when she had a perfectly lethal weapon at the ready, she placed a restraining hand on his head. She whirled around with her gun in her hand at the same moment a quick tap sounded before the door opened.

Her worst nightmare stood in the doorway. Gorgi Weister and he had a quilt thrown over his arm. The glimmer of his golden hair in the lamp light added dimension to his handsome features and the diabolical grin sent another shiver down her spine. An angel of light, such was Satan. She shook the fanciful thought away.

“Well, well, well,” he drawled, his voice soft and low.

Rebecca’s gaze locked with his and he stood perfectly still, smug in his arrogance, knowing fear of him would come. She knew from the past, he loved power and control. Forcing her expression to remain as blank as possible, she leveled her pistol straight at his heart. “Stay where you are and raise your hands.”

He grinned. “How very female of you, my dear. I mean no harm.”

Her voice quivered, but she forced the gun barrel to remain level. “Where is my Johnny?”

He shrugged. “Now Rebecca. How would I know?”

“Then, what are you doing here?”

He motioned to the coverlet he held out. “I thought to bring this quilt back to the boy.” Weister raised a brow. “He hid when my men were by here. I’m afraid bad manners allowed them to borrow this covering. May I at least rid myself of the thing?” Without waiting for her approval, he eased the quilt on a nearby chair. Weister failed to lift his hands completely, almost complying with her former command, but not quite. “The boy shouldn’t suffer for its loss and, lo and behold, my good deed is rewarded.” He extended both arms. “Look what I found.”

Rebecca held her hand steady, but she trembled on the inside, afraid her pounding heart might burst. The low rumble coming from Beau reassured her. She could always set him to attack. “Tommy isn’t about at the moment.”

“No, I’m aware. Neither is that rather neglectful Lord Sudduth.” He smirked and shook his head. “Alone again with no protection.”

She waved her gun at him. “I have my pistol. That’s all the protection I need.”

With a condescending twist of his lips, he stared at her. “Rebecca, Rebecca, my dear. How brave, but foolish you are.”

At that moment, Beau gave a vicious growl followed by a snarling bark and jerked away from her hand. Rebecca rounded to observe Bruno in the act of slamming the butt of his rifle towards Beau’s head. She shot immediately, but the gun stock still hit Beau a glancing blow and he went down with a yelp. Bruno grabbed his chest and crumpled to his knees before he toppled completely over. He lay without moving, his features frozen in fixed horror.

Rebecca didn’t regret killing him, but taking a life made her stomach roil with revulsion. She swallowed to keep the bile from choking her.

Weister gazed down at his fallen minion before glancing at Rebecca. “That is a shame. My best man too.” He grimaced. “Still, he failed to shoot your husband. Shot the horse instead.” Stepping towards her, he continued in a mocking tone. “Your weapon is no longer loaded and all for a dog. Tch! Tch! What will you do now?”

 

In contrast, this minion was willing to commit murder, and to kill a dog, the dirty coward. He followed orders, using his vicious tendencies and proclivities for evil in the service of his master.

The secondary villain also has a reason for his bad behavior, not always revealed, except to assume he did his evil deeds for money. That can certainly be assumed by the reader.

Thank you again for sharing your time with me. To discover more about my writing (books published) and my works in progress, visit my website: https://www.wareezewoodson.com

Visit my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wareeze-Woodson/523727757689755

Respectfully,

Wareeze Woodson

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | Leave a comment

Channeling Nora

fantasy-2824654_640

Every voracious reader, including those of romance, has their favorite authors. Genres. Heat levels and writing styles. And what choices we have!

Romance novels, with all their various genres and subgenres, can be had in whatever length we prefer, from novella to epic series. Every day, it seems, a new genre pops into being. I was at a conference just a few weeks ago where I learned that women’s fiction, which does not technically fit the specifications for “romance” set by the Romance Writers of America, has now borne a new subgenre called “romantic women’s fiction.”

 

As a writer, I tend to read what I write. This ranges from contemporary romance to romantic suspense to paranormal. So my favorite authors run the gamut from Susan Elizabeth Phillips to Heather Graham to Simone St. James. I also partake in multiple formats. I’m also a huge fan of audiobooks to while away the 40-minute work commute. I try to gear my listening choice to the kind of book I’m working on at the moment. Since my present work-in-progress involves a haunted, Civil War era plantation home, Nora Roberts’ Boonesboro Trilogy was the obvious choice.

Now, when it comes to Nora, you either love her or hate her. For this particular series, the reviews range from 5 stars down to 1. Perusal of the lesser star reviews has been very enlightening as to what readers didn’t like. A few of these elements (cringe) show up in my own work, too. For example, nearly 40% of the reviews complain about too much detailed description of the building itself: Inn Boonsboro.

I’m guilty of this. I love describing settings in detail. Subsequently, I’ve reined back my own tendencies toward, shall we say, “painting the place by number.”

oak-alley-plantation-1647335_640

All of this rambling is to offer what I hope is a piece of useful advice to my fellow Soulies: If you have a favorite author, channel them. There are many definitions for this word, and some are really out there. Major woo woo stuff, i.e. channeling dead spirits and the like. I do write ghost stories, but that’s not the way I’m using the term here.

What I mean is this: learn as much about your favorite authors’ writing process as you can. Read—or listen—to every, single book by them that you can. Find one, or a series, that falls into a similar genre or storyline as your work-in-progress. Study the work as if you had to write a craft essay on it. Believe me, it helps. This kind of inspiration fires up the muse and shifts your creative process in the right direction.

Reading the reviews helps, too. Especially with authors who have hundreds or thousands of reviews, it’s easy to see what elements readers loved, or didn’t like. One or two random reviews are of little use, but when twenty or fifty all rave, or complain, about the same thing, it’s most likely a valid evaluation.

Of course, don’t push this channeling thing too far. We don’t want to end up like Helen Keller, who became so absorbed in a story by Margaret T. Canby that she was accused of plagiarism in her own work, King Jack Frost. I recently learned that Nora Roberts has been a victim of plagiarism as well, by more than one author.

Let me be clear: I want to channel Ms. Roberts’ writing style, be inspired by it, but I don’t want to end up on the other side of a courtroom from her!

It’s gospel truth that in order to write well, you have to read a ton of books. All the time. All kinds of books. I do. When I find one that I fall in love with, I treat it like a textbook. I study it—the characterizations, the plot structure, the poetry of the language. I’m not out to copy, but to emulate. To improve my own writing by reading and/or listening to the work of someone who, in my opinion, is a master.

Isn’t that how visual artists learn to improve their work? By studying the Masters?

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So, these days, I’m channeling Nora. For my next book, it might be Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or Lisa Kleypas. Heather Graham or Jennifer Crusie. The possibilities are endless.

Aren’t we romance writers lucky that, unlike almost any other learning concentration, we have an endless—and ever growing—supply of potential textbooks?

I think so.

~~~

Claire Gem writes contemporary romance, romantic women’s fiction, and supernatural suspense. Find out more about her work at her Website or her Amazon Author Page.

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Posted in Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Readers, Romance, Settings, Soul Mate Publishing, Women's Fiction, Writing, Writing career | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

One. Big. Step.

Okay so today I took a big step. At least for me it was a big step. Not as big as sending my very first manuscript into publishers in hopes of getting published of course. That step was not just big. It was HUGE.

Nevertheless, today’s step was a big one, an important one. First let me say that in September of this year I joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA).

I’m sure every romance author knows what the RWA is. But if not, here’s a quick summary:

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a national non-profit association for writers. It provides networking and support to individuals seriously pursuing a career in romance fiction. In addition it supports top authors in the industry.

And for me, a fledgling author with only 2 books out so far, being part of an organization that includes some of my favorite authors is amazing to me. I mean, I grew up reading these authors’ books. Books which I still continue to read today.

Did you know that in 2007, there were over 9,000 members in the RWA? And of those, 2,000 have their books in print form while others are available in digital form.

Anyway, back to my “big step”.

I entered my book, Stone Cold Angel, Book 2 in The Perfect Order series, into the RITAS. Tapping the submit button sent my stomach into nervous waves. I mean, I just sent my book into the RITAS!!

For those that don’t know, the RITAS are kind of a big deal.

Here’s a rundown if exactly what it is:

The whole purpose of the RITA award is to promote excellence in the romance genre. This is done by recognizing the most outstanding published romance novels and novellas. And you even get an award!

It is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.

This is the MOST PROMINENT award given throughout the genre of romance fiction.

Authors and editors submit published works for consideration in the fall of every year. Then mid-spring, finalists are announced. The winners are presented with a statuette in a ceremony held on the last day of the RWA National Conference each July.

See, I told you it was a big deal.

Just how big you ask?

For most authors, I think would it would be a major milestone in their writing career. I mean, to be recognized among many for something that you created, something that you loved and cherished only to see that many others authors think it worthy of greatness.

Wow…

Some of the greatest romance authors of all time were or are a part of the RWA and many of them won the RITAS.

For example, Nora Roberts, Cindy Gerard, and Anne Stuart just to name a few. (I am big fans of each of them. My bookshelves are filled with their books as well as many, many others.)

There are so many talented authors out there and I know the the competition will be tough but I have high hopes for Stone Cold Angel. So far it is the favorite of my published novels although there are many more in the works.

The only thing left to do is wait and see, hope like crazy that Stone Cold Angel has what it takes to win or at least make it to the finals.

So here’s to all of the authors that will submit this year. It is a big step for all of us and I wish only the best of luck to each and every one of you!

Posted in Ambling Along With Amy! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments