Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘Trisha Faye’

Getting the Details Right

Join us in April as Writer’s Zen celebrates the world of historical fiction, blogging along with the A to Z Blog Challenge. We’ll be posting our way through the alphabet, a letter at a time – every day except Sunday.

If you like historical fiction, there are links at the end where you can follow Pages of the Past on Facebook or sign up for the weekly newsletter. Each week we feature an article about writing historical fiction, spotlight a historical fiction author, and share great reads in a variety of time periods. There are also occasional short story contests and other fun highlights.

Today, introduces the letter G.

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Getting the Details Right

One of the difficulties in writing historical fiction is getting the details right. Not simply ‘right’ as in accurate, but right as in the amount of detail that you include in your manuscript also.

This is always the challenge. It’s like walking a balance beam between two points. We need to include enough details to bring a sense of the setting and the time into the story. We need enough to make the reader feel that they’re seeing the story unfold before their eyes. We need to make the story authentic and believable.

But we also don’t need to include so much detail that it’s as if we’re writing a non-fictional narrative about the time, including every piece of information that we’ve learned in our marvelous foray into the researching rabbit hole.

Juggling between these two is the where the art of historical fiction lies.

I can’t claim to be an expert on this. I’m learning more. Day by day. Week by week. Year by year. But I am far from the ultimate source of knowledge. Probably twenty years from now I’ll still be in a learning curve.

To explain better, here are some words from Elizabeth Crook that sums up the predicament perfectly. They’re from her article, Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction.

Rule #2: Dump the Ballast.
In order to write authentic historical fiction you must know a period of time well enough to disappear daily through a wormhole to the past and arrive at the location of your story. There you must understand the customs and use the manners perfectly enough to be accepted by people walking the streets (if there are streets) and to dress yourself, and make a living. This said, the major trick of writing good historical fiction is not in compiling research or knowing the details, but in knowing the details to leave out. Try to avoid overwriting. Keep perspective on what will interest the reader. Historical fiction writers tend to be overly conscientious and excited by minutia: if you succumb to excess, and put in too much detail, then go back later and take some of it out. Think of your novel as a boat that is about to sink from having too much weight on board: some of the loved items will have to go. Toss them over with impunity! Throw them out! If a rare, surprising statistic, or a moving anecdote, or an obscure reference you saw to an interesting thing that happened in the county adjacent to the one where your story takes place, does not advance your plot or provide your reader with important information about your characters, then it is irrelevant to your story and must go overboard.

Keep in mind that the care, and time, it took to assemble all that you have just thrown out has not been wasted. It was necessary to gather these facts and assess their worth in order to know which ones to save.

One step at a time. One rule at a time. One lesson at a time. Coupled with practice, practice, practice – write, write, write. And we get better with each paragraph, with each page. Our stories become more polished. The details we include become so seamlessly interwoven into our tales and our readers beg us for more. Then…we’ll know we’ve gotten the details right.

The Sound of Crickets #IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?’

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The Sound of Crickets

So much for my first-thing-in-the-morning-project. It’s now turned into first-project-after-lunch. Which is ridiculous really, because the answer to this question isn’t that difficult. It will take me five minutes to write this post and another five minutes to post it. I shouldn’t have procrastinated on an easy task.

I don’t celebrate at all.

If I finish a writing goal, I cross it off my list and head to the dozen others that are awaiting my time and attention. If I get something published, I might have a high-five with my significant other, and then go post the good news on Facebook.

That’s about it. My celebrations are the sound of crickets in my office. Nothing. Now crickets might be a symphony outside in a field, but in my office…nada.

But, now I’m debating my routine. Maybe I do need to celebrate my accomplishments in some small fashion. Hmmmmm……

No. Then it adds another task to the list. You know, that list that never seems to go away no matter how much I work towards that goal? I believe I’ll keep this routine just the same as it is.

 

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Don’t Leave Me Hanging! #IWSG

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The Insecure Writers Support Group hosts a blog hop the first Wednesday of every month. We’re encouraged to “Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.” The group offers an optional question each month to write about. For August, the question is:

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

To check out some of the other great writers sharing their thoughts, check them out here.

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Don’t leave me hanging!

This is really the only thing I could think of that bothers me when I saw the question prompt for this month. I can’t think of anything I’d feel strongly enough about to call it a pet peeve. I don’t know if there are things that irritate me that I simply don’t think about when I’m not running across that annoying trait. Or, am I simply harder on myself than I am on others? That does seem to be one trait that many of us who relate to the ‘insecure’ part of this group have in common. Many of us tend to beat ourselves up worse than we do others.

When I began musing about what could be a pet peeve, one book, in particular, jumped to mind. I finished reading it two or three months ago. It was set in the post-Civil War days when the country was still in the throes of uncertainty and chaos. It’s a time period I enjoy reading. And the book itself was good. But the author threw in so many problems that never got resolved, it bothered me. Now, I understand the need to add conflict throughout the story. But one issue was repeated several times. Something about an errant uncle and finding gold. Because it was repeated, I felt it was important, and kept waiting to see how it was going to be resolved.

And the next thing I knew…the ladies were riding off into the sunset, so to speak. Maybe not the sunset, but they rode off in a wagon…still without any news about the uncle or the gold or if it was going to help them out.

The End.

That was it.

And I was disappointed. I felt like the author had tried to set the book up for a series. Which is possible. But my proverbial nose was so out of joint I didn’t even go see if there were any books that came after. Most books I keep and pass on to my sister and mom. This one I didn’t. It went straight in the bag that went to the thrift store. I wasn’t going to pass the book along for another reader to end up frustrated at the end, waiting for a resolution that never came to be.

Maybe I have a pet peeve after all.

Three Sites with an Abundance of Writing Tips

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Here are three sites with great resources of writing tips. They’ll keep you busy. Or scan the lists for some of the sites that are most helpful to you.

Writing Tips – The Best Writing Tips for Writers

Do you need tips to help you become a more productive writer? Do you need tips to help you write that next viral article? Below are some of the best writing tips on this blog.

  1. 10 Productivity Tips for Writers
  2. 9 Lessons I Learned in 8 Months of Writing for Income
  3. How to Write Great Content when You Don’t Feel Like It
  4. Two Ingredients of Awesome: Content and Metaphor
  5. How to Write Content that Gets Read

 

How to Write Your Memoir

“… 99.9 percent of people lead boring lives. But every single one of them is trying to make some sense out of his or her existence, to find some meaning in the world, and therein lies the value and opportunity of memoir. It’s therapeutic for the writer, and it eventually even helps his or her descendants understand themselves better.”

 

Tips From the Masters

You will find pearls of writing wisdom in these pithy lists by 21 masters of their craft, such as: Andrew Motion: 10 Techniques to Spark the Writing – Expert writing tips, Annie Proulx: 5 Techniques for Good Craftsmanship – Expert writing tips, or Billy Wilder: 10 Screenwriting Tips

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Wordless Wednesday

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Writing from a Different Gender Perspective

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Writing from a Different Gender Perspective

I have to admit it, my easiest characters are women, usually in the thirty to fifty year age range. Writing POV from a male perspective? That becomes difficult. (And they usually end up being too close to my ex for comfort.)

I was excited to see this post, Gender Bending: Writing a Different Gender Than Your Own, by Janice Hardy. She has some excellent advice about writing rich, dimensional characters of the other gender. Here’s two of her tips. Go check out Jane Hardy’s Fiction University for the full article.

Focus on the character, not the gender.

If you try to “write a woman who…” you might get stuck trying to be “a woman.” But write about “a character who…” and you’ll find yourself thinking more about what that character will do and how they’ll act in ways that fit the story and the situation. They’re a person first, a gender second.
Remember no two people are alike, regardless of gender.

“Men are like X” or “women always Y” don’t apply. My husband breaks all kinds of those rules, and I’m not your typical gal. Avoid the stereotypes and even have fun with them a little. Have men that love shoes, women who are rabid for sports. Let your men (or women) be as different from each other as they are from the opposite sex. A group of men won’t all have the same feelings about things, same as a group of anything won’t have the same feelings.

How is it for you? Can you write from the opposite gender’s perspective?

Five Minute Miracle – Guided Meditation

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Browsing through You Tube videos for guided meditations, I stumbled upon this one: The Five Minute Miracle. Intrigued, especially since it was only a five minute meditation, I had to check it out.

The focus of the meditation was about using your imagination to create a life full of what you desire. While it didn’t get very detailed, which naturally you can’t do in such a short time frame, it kept repeating the phrase ‘imagination’.

I wondered if this also couldn’t be applied to our writing. After all, isn’t that what our writing is? A world of words created on paper – a result of our writer’s imagination? My first thought was for the fictional tales I’m in the process of weaving. Yet, even non-fiction articles and books require our imagination and creative thought processes to write an intelligent, inspiring, and cohesive work.

Would this work to help open the doors of my imagination wider, prior to my writing session? I’m going to try it for a week. After all, what do I have to lose? It’s only five minutes. Every day this week, before I sit down to write, I’ll commit five minutes to listen this meditation.

Check it out. Take five minutes and see what you think. Do you think the Five Minute Miracle can help us with our writing goals too?

Z: Zen in Writing (Affirmations)

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Z: Zen

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  • Peace infuses me as I write.
  • The words flow easily from my fingertips.
  • I am one with my writing.
  • I am connected to the energy around me. This is reflected in my prose.
  • Like ripples in the water – my writing radiates outward to the people that need to see it.
  • Contemplation and meditation focuses my insight and brings clarity to my writing.
  • My intuition strengthens and my writing improves.
  • I am mindful. I focus on my words and story.
  • I focus on today. One step, one word, one day at a time.
  • I write. I pursue goals and dreams. I put forth my best effort. I am at peace with the outcome.
  • I, and my writing, are where I need to be.

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Y: Young Adult

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Y: Young Adult

Here’s a few affirmations for those that write in the Young Adult genre.

  • Memorable characters abound in my Young Adult writing.
  • The details I add bring my Young Adult novel to life.
  • My Young Adult voices are realistic.
  • My Young Adult books tell meaningful stories.
  • My Young Adult characters are well-developed and believable.
  • My Young Adult stories are diverse, imaginative, and unique.

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X: (E)Xperience

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X: EXPERIENCE

My experiences provide rich fodder for my writing.

My life experiences gives me wisdom.

Emotions from my own experiences are conveyed in my writing.

People I’ve met provide a wealth of negative and positive traits for my characters.

Experiences in my past make great building blocks in my stories.

I use what I know in my writing.

The world I know provides a wealth of writing material.

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