About Writing

Writing Tips and Opinions

I have an alter ego who edits and coaches authors. Visit my editor website at Maureen Sevilla 
This is a short book about writing short by a short woman with short opinions. But I hope it helps people (who think abstractly the way I do) understand the concept of condensing your ideas for any length writing. It should be available by the end of April 2016 from Amazon in e-book and paperback. 

Author, Eliza March thoughts on writing...compiled from my blogs...this one and others.
(Included articles and comments from readers and authors about the craft of writing here.)

Writing January 29th 2012

The rule about having Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in every scene you write is probably the best to keep the pace of the book moving. I've been downloading many free or $.99 reads from Amazon and been horrified by the product authors feel satisfied publishing. I went to school and took English every year, and although there are many rules that have changed over the years, some basic rules never do. Punctuation goes at the end of a sentence and sentences begin with a capital letter. Well-known authors should never preface a free read with "This is an unedited ARC," because if it's unedited, it shouldn't be published. It's like going out without combing your hair. You don't want your work to be considered unkempt, unfinished, or nonpunishable. You've seen those Walmart videos...do you want readers to look at your work like that?

Even big publishing houses produce less than perfect products, so lets all make the effort to at least try and develop a plot, follow some rules of grammar and punctuation, put a little effort into characterization.

The Writing Process - November 26, 2011

I was on Amazon reading comments some readers were making about reviewing books. Well, that was interesting. They don't trust a book that has too many five star reviews because it's too good to be true. And if someone knows anything about writing be careful about how you word your opinion because it might be construed as a professional reviewer. Readers only trust other REAL readers, apparently.

In any case, today I want to write about the writing process. Where to start... Yes. That's what I want to talk about. WHERE TO START.

I have mentioned before that I have a tendency to start a story then realize something happened before you got there and I should probably go back and tell you about that. Even if I think I'm starting the story at the hero's lowest point, I find I can go into his past and find an even lower point that may be why we're at this crucial point. 

So help me I'm trying to write linearly, but I seem to be going backwards first, then forwards right before I'm finished. 

I'm so tempted to write a whole book backwards and see what happens. Will it be the KILL BILL of erotic romance? I doubt it. But it's a thought.

So I've got to tell you ,when I heard Dean Koontz describe his process I almost cried in relief. He writes, goes back and edits that and adds more, goes back and edits that last part and adds more, etc. I recognized my process or at least one that's closer to mine, and now I don't feel like I'm doing it wrong. I know, I know. There's no right or wrong way. But hell, there has to be a more efficient way. It's my process and I do finish books sooner or later so I guess it's effective. And, come to think of it, I don't have much editing to do when I'm done with the first draft. *GRIN
But do you have any suggestions to keep the writing process moving forward instead of backwards?

Writer's Block
A well known author once remarked how when anyone discovered she was an author,  they seemed to feel compelled to share their ideas for a book they wanted her to write. As if she didn't have any ideas of her own!
As a writer, even when I occasionally experience the dreaded writer's block, it's never from lack of ideas. More than likely, it's rather from having too many -- like shadows milling just beyond my reach. If I lived several lifetimes, it wouldn't be long enough to write all the stories I have reeling through my mind.
If you enter my workspace there are notes upon notes, a word written here or there, titles, characters' names, and concepts posted on white boards. Sticky notes are everywhere and ideas noted in my phone, on my computer, or in my wallet. Ideas spill from my head like water from a waterfall -- sometimes a trickle -- often more like Niagra's flow. It's the ability to pick through them, gather what I need, organize them, and come out with some semblance of a story, after piecing the ideas together, that makes me a writer.
Writing is the ability to know which ideas to keep, put together in a certain order, and which ones to toss. Finally, an author shows the picture that's been in his/her head to the reader in words. SHOWING the story in actions or dialogue from the point of view character with the most at stake brings the reader into the story and intensifies the reading experience.

Erotic Romance - What You Get When Sex Drives the Plot !
I'm not the authority on erotica, eroticism, erotic romance, or anything else of the sort, but I can define what I write. Finally, after several years of struggling with a definition, I think I've found the common ground within all my plots, no matter the heat level.
What I've discovered is that all my books, whether they are contemporary romance (Hot Highland Fling and More Than a Stud) -- cowboy romance (Any Way West and Dual Bondage: Roped and Tied) -- paranormal or fantasy romance (Witch of Air and FireThe Lion, The Leopard and The WolfThe Moon, The Madness, and The MagicSultry Santorini Sunsets) -- or romantic suspense (Across a Crowded Room), I use the SEX as an integral part of the plot.
The sex isn't just written into the story because it's a romance or because the hero and heroine are attracted to each other. It isn't even a scene filler or the required 2.5 love scenes suggested for romance novels. No. The sex is one of the plot lines, as important to the story as the suspense is, or as much as the romance or paranormal elements are to the unraveling of the tale.
First example: in Hot Highland Fling the heroine, Aisla is on a quest to fulfill her sexual needs and is determined find out what's under a Scotsman's kilt while she's in the Highlands on assignment. The sexual affair she has with Colin has entirely different GMC's from the romantic plot line, but neither can stand without the other.
The sex is as integral to story as the romance. The sex is the story. It isn't an action I can skim over or minimize. Every detail, every sense and impression is necessary to the "sexual plot" and must be given the same developmental time and consideration as the paranormal elements in one of my paranormal stories.
Second example: All the paranormal plots are M/M/F or M/M/M/F. In Witch of Air and Fire, the sex between the hero and heroine is a fated attraction, but the menage with the hero's friend is at first necessary to save the heroine and then turns into something deeper. The paranormal elements of the plot come into play, but the story can't exist without the sexual plot line.
Third example: The Hollywood Cowboy series are M/F/M menages encompassing a similar sexual goal and motivation as the other contemporaries. Either there is an existing spark of romance which needs rekindling or potential romance needing a gentle nudge by a third party. These books' plots don't stand alone without the sex, or romance, or the over arcing plot. If one part is missing, the entire story is different.
There isn't sex for sex's sake in the books, it's sex for plot's sake -- driving the plot forward to a satisfying conclusion or a potential for one.
You can find Eliza March on Face bookTwitter

Sequels or series. . . Does it matter?
Sequel: a continuation of a story - a movie, novel, or play that continues a story begun in a previous movie, novel, or play or something that happens after something else, especially as a consequence of it. 

Series: a number of similar or related things coming one after another or as in broadcasting, a set of regularly broadcast programs, each of which is complete in itself or , as in publishing, a number of books, pamphlets, or periodicals brought out by one company or organization on the same or related topics or in the same format.
So here's my take on all this.
Many people look forward to the release of a follow up book to the story they’re reading. Have you ever been surprised when you finished a book to discover that the story would continue in another book? How did you feel? Surprised? Excited? Furious? Well, I, for one, don’t like that sort of surprise. I’ll read both, but I like to know what I’m in for when I start out. I’m the type of reader who will wait to read the first book until all the sequels are completed. I’m not good for “first” book ratings.
Trilogies in sequels, those stories you know when you start will all be released by the publisher within the year, are different. Usually, I’ll risk diving into the first book for one of my favorite authors, knowing I won’t have to wait long for satisfaction. (I always admit, I’m an the instant gratification type.) Trilogies are also sometimes written as series comprised of interrelated plots or characters or settings.
Once an author has a plan for a book, or if they’re “pantsers,” those writers who have little structured plans when they write a book (they just let the creativity flow), and they begin the writing process, certain plot lines split and certain characters take on a life of their own.
This is an ideal situation for a series. I’ve heard some authors discuss how their readers want a story about a particular character and the how and why the author chooses to make that decision. One, the character has to have a story strong enough to carry a whole book and two, the character must be three dimensional enough to carry the whole book. When the plot splits, that is also an ideal situation for a series. Some authors plan these series from the start, tying the setting or plot to new characters as they’re introduced as secondary characters in the current work. In each of these stories, the plot is completed: the murderer is brought to justice, the boy gets girl, the world is saved from destruction. You get the picture.
In sequels, the first book may conclude one plot leaving an over-arcing theme unresolved and the final resolution may take more than one or two books to complete. The subsequent books become sequels to the first book, each book a completed step to the final outcome. Ideal sequels end in a good place, leaving the reader somewhat satisfied, but aching for more.
I’m trying my hand at both types of books. I’m almost finished writing the next book in the Enchanted Mountain series - stories about a location in the Colorado mountains where paranormal beings of the Lore meet and gather their power for the first time. My first was a novella: THE LION, THE LEOPARD, AND THE WOLF. The next is a novel length, titled: THE MOON, THE MADNESS, AND THE MAGIC.
Now the challenge for me will be accomplishing the goal of creating a book in a sequel. My Gemini Prophecy stories each have a resolution, but they also have an over-arcing plot: a nemesis who isn’t caught and a conflict which isn’t resolved until many books later. The first book is complete, but the second is still in the "to be completed" stage.
I’m both a “pantser” and a “plotter” (more on that another time) so most of the sequels are outlined, but if I get into the story with too much detail before I start, it’s not as much fun to write. Hey, I like a surprise as much as you do.

Please leave a comment about what you think. Thanks and have a great week.
~~~ Eliza

BrennaLyons said...
Some of what you call sequels, I call serial. When I write a serial novel (like Prophecy), I let people know up front that it's a two-book serial. No surprises. The first book literally ends at the turning point, and the second concludes the story. They were released 3 months or so apart. So, it probably wouldn't have bothered you too much to see that happen. A true sequel, to me, is not the same thing as a serial. Prophecy...keep coming back to that...was a complete arc over the two-book serial. Now, eight years later, I'm writing a true sequel to the book that picks up with a secondary character from the first book and brings all the main characters that are still alive and not in jail from the serial back again for a new adventure. It's not a continuation of the same story, and though it can stand alone, I harken back to the original often and is better read with knowledge of the original. Typically, I write series books. I had one complaint in my most popular series recently, because I left a cliffhanger for the next book. The series book concluded and tied up all loose ends for itself, but I gave a taste of what was to come in the next book in the epilogue...and I plan to do the same in the next few books, leading into the following book. I loved it. Most of my readers loved it. But one reader absolutely hated that little tease. Why? I don't know, but she did. Which is strange, because I did the same thing in the previous book, and no one complained about it. Brenna
Julianna Sage said...
I cliffhanger is what makes the reader crave the next book. I love and hate them. Love that the sequels are continuing, hate that I have to wait for the next book. I agree with you, Eliza. I'm an instant gratification person, and I rarely read any series that aren't complete. Like the Twilight books - I only read the first one when the movie came out and i would have been utterly livid if I had to wait. Same with They Fae series by Karen Marie Moning - if I'd known how much I would enjoy the stories, I never would have started them until the last book came out. (BTW - we have an ETA of 1/18/11) I liked her Highlander series because they books were not really connected. So I enjoy continuing characters but I hate waiting. Same with shows on TV - I won't watch shows that continue the story - I stopped watching True Blood because I was so irritated with the weekly cliffhangers. But obviously there are millions who don't suffer from my degree of attention deficit issue.
I don't like cliffhangers when I know I'll have to wait a year or more for the next installment. By the time a year has passed, my interest may have faded too! I just released a four book series - the first two books are in one volume, the second two books will come out in 6 weeks in another volume. Each two book volume is stand alone. I decided my readers would be happier that way and so would I! Really good question!
Anonymous said...
Sometimes, a person can't help it. Sometimes, she she writes a book she intends to stand alone, but the characters aren't done, and keep nagging and nagging with material for their next adventure. At least, that's what happened to me.
Valerie J. Long said...
I always thought I had found a good conclusion - then my readers jumped at me and asked for more. What could I do? Take it to the next step, of course. And the Zoe Lionheart series is still growing! Cheers Valerie
BrennaLyons said...
I'm with Anonymous. I have written a lot of books I THOUGHT were stand-alones and found they were series or had sequels, in the end. Shrug. It happens. Or...readers say they want more of a charcter, and you realize the character does have more to say. Brenna
Kari Thomas said...
Perfect timing for this post, Eliza! I've been contemplating writing a 3-Book Series/Serial and wasnt sure what the proper title would be. It will be a continuation through all 3 books...so does that make it a Serial/Sequel? I dont think I'll be leaving any cliffhangers --unless with an Epilogue, so Im not sure what Im going to Query it as: Series? Its one main story/plot, with 3 sets of h/h. Anyhoo....enjoyed this post! hugs, Kari Thomas www.authorkari.com
Catherine Bybee said...
I'm all about the series and the trilogy. Yeah, it kinda sucks to have to wait for the next book, but on the other hand, if it is one of those authors who grip me by the short and curleys and I can't breathe until I read THE END, then it is best that I have to wait months before the next book... Otherwise, my house would be a mess all the time.
Pat C. said...
Here's how pantsers write a series: we finish the first book, realize we've got an idea for a book related to the first, then write that, and so on. Anything over 3 books (trilogy length) is a series. I'd finished the first draft of one book when inspiration hit for the next. Not much I can do except write it. It wasn't planned, it just happened. Ideally (in my opinion) a series should be like Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books: they're interrelated and tell an overall story, but each book is complete in itself and they don't have to be read in any order. If you only ever read one, you're still okay. That also helps if earlier books in your series go out of print. You can still pick up readers with the later books, maybe enough to get the earlier books re-issued. If you're against cliffhangers, for God's sake stay away from Edgar Rice Burrough's Martian series. One book ends with Dejah Thoris being attacked by a knife-wielding foe -- then she vanishes behind a rock wall, presumably for a year. Yes, that's the ending. I think John Carter got her back. I don't remember how the next book started. So much for cliffhangers.
Anonymous said...
Well, I write sequels for series...lol. Not really sure, but in my vampire series, "Bound By Blood, The Legends, I have characters who have their love stories all tied up back sometimes as minor characters to move the next book alone. I also have secondary characters that could end up with their own story. Cliff hangers, in my opinion, should be at the end of a chapter, and not the next book. At least that is my preference. I like to have my romance tied up neatly. However, Michelle Rowan, although I would not call it cliff hangers always left me wanting more and that made me purchase her next book. As for my own fans, I try to have one character or two...lol, that stand out so readers will clamor for that character's story next. Thanks for the time and the interesting blog!!!! Faith V. Smith
Eliza March said...
Thanks, ladies, for all the fantastic input. I guess we're all in agreement that leaving a reader panting for more is good for the author (as long as we don't leave her too long), and frustrating for the reader. The reader deserves at least some resolution at the end of a book before twiddling her thumbs waiting for the next. LOL I'm heading to the RWA convention this week and I just noticed there's a workshop that deals with this subject. Maybe we can revisit this topic when I get back. I'm going to ask some editors what they think, or what they're looking for (Ah - what sells best?) I'm betting they'll come back with something like JR Ward's "Black Dagger Brotherhood."
BrennaLyons said...
Faith! Long time, no see! Does anyone else have this happen? You are writing a series, and suddenly stories start cropping up that are from the far past or far future of the world, so you have legendary/historical characters that are living characters or vice versa. I have subseries like Kegin Era of the Earth-Born Lords, Kegin Era of the Kegin-Born Lords, and Kegin Historical/Legendaries...or Night Warriors Warriors books, Night Warriors Beast books, and Night Warriors Historicals. Or you mention other worlds in a series and suddenly find yourself with a spin-off series from a universe you hadn't anticipated, with people from all the worlds interacting through books? Kegin spun off Wolkin and Kielan series under the Council of Worlds universe, and now they all interact. What about items from one series appearing in another? I've had a Warrior in Night Warriors Warrior books READING stories from Night Warriors Beast books. I've had a character from Renegades series wearing a Jorg for President t-shirt that spun off from the Night Warriors series. My characters and worlds just LOVE doing this to me. Brenna
Great distinction. I like to know what it is when I start a book. :) I write series which include the same characters in different situations. Maybe I'll try the sequel/trilogy thing someday. I hope yours goes well. It's cool that you're using Colorado as a setting, my residence. Our Rockies are beautiful. -laura
Vixen Pearl said...
Good post, Eliza. You want to talk about the pain of waiting for a series? One author whose work I fell for, published the first two books in her series a few years apart...but part three? Here, ten years on *still* has not been written. I feel for her, I do, but yes, I've cut the strings on waiting for that resolving volume. *sigh* And book two ended on a cliffhanger. So in that respect, it's frustrating. As a writer, I'm a total pantser,and I don't tend to plan series writing, at least not when I begin the work. But things do tend to blossom. I have one now that's in the "what if the first never goes anywhere" stage of writing, waiting to see how the subs go on it first, before I really dive into the wordage of it. I do have an idea for it, though. ;) So, maybe I'm not such a pantser after all.
I don't like to read book series. I'll take sequels, sure, but when the writer keeps doing spin-offs off their characters and whatnot...it gets a little confusing to keep up with. I like to read the first book when I already have all of the others. I'm the same way about TV series on DVD. I'm not going to buy the first season until all eight are in my hand. Consequently, I don't own a lot of TV on DVD...but I prefer it that way. I don't like waiting. I don't have the tolerance.

More on Series or Sequels . . . Eliza March Hooked – Series or Sequels?
(This is reprinted from the blog I did for The Whipped Cream Review Blog, March 7, 2011)

One of my most popular blog posts involved the topic, “Series or Sequels”. For fun (and because I’m reading Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning) I’d thought we could start a discussion. I always avoid TV programs that are continued next week . . . so you can imagine how excited I was when I finished the first book in the Fae Series and kept looking for more pages at the end of the book. Surely, I was ripped off. OMG there had to be more!
The story didn’t have a conclusion. I just had more questions, and there weren’t any more pages. No Answers!
AAAHHK! I was hooked. Why? Because I loved the characters, and I had to find out what happened to them.
The next book was already out, only I was determined not to pay the big bucks for the hardback. So I held off for several weeks. Then my resolve started weakening as people I knew started discussing the book. I felt left out. I covered my ears, did a lot of “La, la, laaaing” . . . but it didn’t stop my need. In a moment of weakness, I eventually caved. I did. I mean, I ended up buying the hardback at full price.
When the fourth came out, I bought the eBook because I finished the third book at midnight and couldn’t risk becoming one of those “People of Wal-Mart” who you see posted on the internet. I stayed in my nice warm bed and had instant gratification. Mmmm . . .
So, okay, I’ve got it bad! If any of you are friend of mine on Facebook or Twitter, you know I was waiting for it to come (pre-ordered this time) from UPS like a kid waiting for Santa. I wanted to rip my phone out of the wall when I got interrupted that day. You can see why I don’t like to get started on something like this, because I’m a lunatic. I’m a FAN, and what’s really bothering me now is that I’ve heard this fifth one may be the last. I’m trying to read it slowly, savoring each word, but I have to pry it out of my own hands to go eat.
Hooked! Oh, yes I admit it.
Although I’d like to get my readers hooked like that on one of my books, I’m writing stand alone stories which can be read in any order. The ENCHANTED MOUNTAIN Series is about a place where the people of the Lore come to mingle . . . and more. Download a copy of The Moon, The Madness, and The Magic available from http://bookstrand.com/the-moon-the-madness-and-the-magic or The Lion, The Leopard, and The Wolf http://bookstrand.com/the-lion-the-leopard-and-the-wolf

Faith V. Smith said...
I love a good series! I do like to have the ending tied up for the h/h, but if a secondary character's story needs to be told, then I'm like you, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book! Faith
Catherine Bybee said...
I've not read anything other than KMM's Highlanders... and not even all of those. That good, eh?
Thanks for stopping by Faith.I like the same series you do with a definitive conclusion. Series or sequels with familiar charcters have a nice comfortable feeling to them. As a reader I'm already axquainted with the character and I'm ready to go on the adventure with them. It's like having a group of friends.
Catherine, I suggest getting them all and finding time to to read them. I think you'd really like them. ;)
Sharron said...
I love a good series. I hate saying goodbye to characters I love. I have no problem waiting for several books before the h/h finally have their happy ending, as long as they eventually get there. I thinks it's the waiting that keeps me going back. I've been watching Bones for years, just waiting for Bones and Booth to get together. The anticipation is half the fun!
Eliza March said...
Sharron, so true, so true, but more than half the reason I watch Bones is to look at David Boreantz. ;)

Eliza On Writing - Identifying Your Author Voice
Who are you?
The question of voice seems to plague every writer at one time or other. If you have a strong one, readers either love you or hate you. If you don't have a strong enough one, every submission you send out comes back with some weak comment about it.
I've been thinking through this for some time. I critique manuscripts, and I judge quite a few contests, too. One thing that always strikes me when I'm absorbed in a good story or reading a well-written manuscript is how I can almost hear the author telling me the story. Now I want to clarify the "telling" part, because yes, I know the story should be "shown" not told, yet there's more to showing and telling a story than the narrative, action, or dialogue on the page.
I think you'll get what I mean when you pick up a Nora Roberts book and then go to a convention and hear her speak. She's in your head when you're reading one of her books. There's absolutely NO doubt who wrote the book. Her personality comes through on the pages.  I've read Harlan Coben and then watched a a few interviews with him. He writes the same way he speaks, and I feel like we've been best buds for years. It's strangely intimate to experience that with a virtual stranger, but you get that opportunity with an author, the chance to feel like you know him/her from the way they tell you a story. That is what we as readers want from our favorite authors--that personal touch, the comfort of knowing they won't disappoint us, the almost knowing what they'll say before they say it--the pace, the rhythm, the tone of the work.
You can depend on them, you can trust them, you can run away with them.
So, how do you develop a voice? To begin, get comfortable in your skin. Everyone says write WHAT you know; I say write WHO you are. Are you snarky, sweet, humorous, flighty, funny, serious, stuffy? Use your strong character traits and fit yourself into your story. Janet Evanovich is also a great example of an author with a strong voice. her characters are varied, but the tone of the books are the same. They are Janet. Your characters will have dialogue and narrative qualities of their own, but the way you tell a story will be purely YOU!
If you need help to find yourself and your voice, write a lot. Write journals, and poems and blogs. I don't necessarily recommend that you show this writing to anyone, but write it just the same. WARNING - Don't edit this writing. Stream of conscious writing is where you'll discover your voice. Yours will be unique to you. If I bump into you somewhere, I should recognize you the minute you open your mouth and say "Hi!" "Hello." "How are yah?"
I'm sure I've missed mentioning something. How about you giving me a hand here and comment? I'm sure you have some thoughts on this subject. Every writer out there has heard about the mysterious "voice". Now let’s expose it for what it is..."You!"

Lorelei Confer said...
A very eye-opening blog. Since I'm an avid reader and have met some of the authors I've read I can agree with you 100%. We can identify their speech patterns and enunciations much easier.
Fiona said...
I guess this is what my oldest friends have meant when they told me they love my books because "they sound just like you talk!" I guess if they have been my BFFs for years, they must like the way I talk, eh? And since I'm kind of a noisy broad, I guess that's why my heroines are always very independent.
I like that. Write 'who' you know. I can think of many authors I know personally who prove your point.
Catherine Bybee said...
This is so true. My BFF read Binding Vows and said... OMG, you and Tara are so alike. No question who wrote the story! Voice is very unique to each and every writer. Great blog, Eliza.
Victoria Roder said...
Very interesting blog. I wasn't sure how to "find your voice" that everyone talks about.
Hales said...
What a great topic! I think it's also good once you are in the comfort zone of your voice to write what you don't know, stepping out into something new can be a great opportunity to find more about yourself.
Eliza March said...
Thanks for your comments so far. You've made some more valid points. Here's something you should keep in mind: If I didn't write what I DON'T know. . . I wouldn't be writing anything at all. LOL ~~Eliza

Judi said...
One addiction many romance writers have is to remove the reader a step by using phrases like 'she wondered if he...' or 'he felt his...' ---all gimmicks beginning writers snag when reading some deep POV books. Not only does it take reader a step back, it indicates an amateur writing. Stepping into the action with active verbs is the simple but hard way to write from a powerful voice.
Pat C. said...
I wish my voice sounded less like me and more like Stephen King's. Ah well.
Eliza March said...
Hey, Pat C. don't we all? LOL
Eliza March said...
Judi, makes a good point. We work so hard following the rules of writing, our voice gets lost. Don't get me wrong, you have to know the rules to break them effectively. The rules exist for a reason, and the author who can write within those guidelines and still make the work interesting has well-learned the craft of writing.
Monti said...
Eliza, I hadn't really thought about the strength of a writer's voice until you mentioned Nora Roberts. You are so right. In her talks, she sounds the way she writes. I might disagree with he felt and she wondered being weak and the writing of beginners. I learned long ago that people perceive in different ways, and a sizable percentage of people are "feelers" who perceive in that manner. Others perceive visually and would discuss in a visual manner. So many writers, so many visions... Monti NotesAlongTheWay
Eliza March said...
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Monti. After reading so much Nora, when I see her at conferences, I'm always surprised she doesn't sit down and have a drink with me, and then I remember she doesn't know me. LOL
Eliza March said...
Ms. Bybee, I thought I was you BFF. LOL
Sharron Riddle said...
Thanks for another great post. I agree with using active verbs. It can take good writing to a new, higher level.
J.Rose Allister said...
This is a great topic! I spent a lot of my early writing days worrying about how to find that voice, and it has evolved over the years. After learning about the evils of passive writing, a multi-pubbed NY author I respected a lot told me that passive used correctly can be an effective tool. Movies aren't devised of nothing but close-ups, after all--there are establishing shots and mid shots as well. All aid in pacing and suspense. Once I realized this, my writing changed a lot. I wasn't trying so hard to squeeze the hero right up against the reader's nose, but letting them observe from a close distance for a while and then BAM!, yanking them in close during action or bedroom scenes when it counts the most. (wink wink)
Michal Scott said...
Write WHO you are says it all. What a great insight. Thanks. Michal Scott writing Christian erotica and erotic romance...where love is always a threesome www.michalscott.webs.com
Anonymous said...
You are so right. The first rule of writing is to write what you know and how you speak...particularly for novels, that is. Journalism and non-fiction are another matter because they are based on information from another person's voice or chronological research.
Eliza March said...
Remember YOUR VOICE has nothing to do with active or passive voice. A sentence can be active or passive depending on whether the object is doing the action or if it's having the action done to it. Such as : Her hair was tangled by the wind. (passive) -OR- The wind tangled her hair. (active) I think your VOICE is that special essence that's you in your writing, the tone, the mood, the pace -- everything that sets the work apart and makes it identifiable as yours. Thank you everyone for helping us clarify VOICE.

On Writing - Wrestling Your Muse Back To Work .

Ten Things to do when your muse abandons you:
1.     RELAX - Don't worry about it - worrying makes it worse
2.     Read something - it will help free up your mind
3.     Write crap - it's like exercise, just a warm up, then you can throw it away and move on
4.     Go over your old notes - sometimes an old idea will spark a new one
5.     Listen to Country western music - OMG there's always a story idea there
6.     Go for a walk - let your creative juices flow
7.     Don't answer the phone - reality distractions move you farther away from your muse
8.     Listen to your favorite music with headphones - helps with that distraction thing I mentioned
9.     Read poetry - another exercise, play with words
10.  Watch a movie - I think it takes the pressure of creating off me and turns me into a critic - LOL
So I bet there are some of you out there with much better ideas. How about a few responses to help an author out? I found the answer to my muse escaping -- I went out and dragged her back to work. Let's see if we can drum up a few more solutions to help some of my other author friends.

Lorelei Confer said...
I loved all the ideas. I think if you have a hobby i.e. knitting, etc. that keeps your hands busy but allows your mind to wander is a great tool.
Sharron said...
Great ideas. I like to cook to clear my head...unfortunately. It shows on my hips, lol. I always have ideas, but my problem is I sometimes lack motivation. Thanks for another great post, Eliza!
Catherine Bybee said...
Here is another one... read an old story you've written and ask what the other characters have been doing in their love life.
Eliza March said...
Lorelei that's so true. Another interest that lets you think is a great idea.
Eliza March said...
Sharron, I have the same problem - it's an excuse because it's really the eating that's the problem. LOL
Eliza March said...
So far, I love your idea, Catherine. Always ask questions when you're stuck. True sometimes you get answers you're not looking for but sometimes you also find ways out of corners, or you find your muse hiding under the bed. Thanks!
Eliza March said...
I received a few more suggestions by email I'd like to share. 1. Talk your story through with a crit partner 2. Don't listen to country music - it may depress you further LOL Come on I know you all have secrets out there. Please share.
Stephanie_C said...
Movies and walks are big ones for me. Also, picking a random word or picture out of a newspaper or magazine, and asking what it might have to do with the offending scene/storyline. The results can be surprising!
Sharon Hamilton said...
Okay, Eliza, I'm game. How about sending your muse on a date with your hunkiest hero? I mean the one you drool over. Pick out her wardrobe (or lack of it) and send them on an evening with a limo and everything, or a horsedrawn carriage on a frozen lake, or a fantasy vacation to the Caribbean in a corporate jet. She's always given you great, juicy ideas. Give the girl a little love in return. I'm sure she'll gift you back, unless you're too jealous, of course.
Some great ideas! I'm in a total funk, but it has to do with the fact that my life is a bit upside down at the moment and I'm suffering severe sleep-deprivation. Doing this kind of stuff is about the limit of my powers of concentration right now. Usually walking helps, but man, I am so off any sort of reasonable schedule!
Anonymous said...
Take a nap. Really. Your subconscious is a wonderful thing. Take advantage of it by putting the gatekeeper conscious mind to bed for awhile. Think about your characters and the situation that has you stumped, lie down, and sleep for about an hour. And...don't be afraid to delete the scene in question and start over.
Eliza March said...
I haven't conquered the social networking system enough to respond to these comments from my iPhone yet so I had to get back to my computer. Thanks for the suggestion, Stephanie. Sometimes I get motivation from doing just that.
Eliza March said...
Hi! Sharon Hamilton, that's a good idea too. I'm not usually jealous of my heroines since I think as writers we all live vicariously through them sometimes, but I have one hero I'm reluctant to share. Okay - okay - I've admitted it! Until I can write myself into his book he's staying mine.

 Eliza March said...
Out of all the ideas so far...'stretching, yawning' Ooooh hmmm... Anonymous has one of my favorites. My mind is the most active when I'm on the verge of waking. If I focus on my story, that's when the ideas really start cooking.
Ilona Fridl said...
I find just getting away from the computer and doing something mindless helps me. I usually do that when a scene is not working out the way I want it to. I even got chewed out by my hero once.
Eliza March said...
Julia Rachel Barrett -- Off schedule is one of my biggest problems, too. I have a tendency to allow people to interfere with my time and creative moments. Nora Roberts once said she could tell if someone was in her house while she was writing because they were "breathing her air." I know how she feels, but apparently she didn't allow anyone "breathing her air" to interfere with her creative juices. I set guidelines, now for my friends and family. (They are beginning to take them seriously because I do.) I announce when I'm not available and I don't budge from my schedule. Sure emergencies come up and get in the way, but I try to delegate or handle them and then move on. I know -- easier said, than done. Stick to it as often as possible and if you have to, take 'guilt free' time off. The stories will still be there to write when you have the time. Good luck and happy writing.
 Eliza March said...
Ilona Fridl -- LOL Really? It's not bad enough we have to deal with everyone in our busy lives, but having our characters giving us a hard time also is just too much! ...especially when they start trying to run the plot lines their way. Sometimes we just have to rein them in because...well we're 'the creator' and we know where they're going and they don't ...right? Right? We do know, don't we? LOL!


Eliza March talks about writing characters...

Five Squared : Lessons In Life, and Character Development by Eliza March

When you read a book, what captures your interest? Characters or plot?

If nothing happens to the characters,  then how interesting can the story be? Because character development is driven by goal, motivation and conflict, as readers, we get drawn into the plot so often through what’s happening to the characters. The more obstacles they encounter on the way to their goals, the more vested we become in their goals and as a result we come to care about them, either succeeding or failing, living or dying, winning or failing, loving or losing.

Look at the people who make a difference in your character’s life:

When you look back at decisions the character made, what provoked them what inspired them? When you reflect on where they’re going, what influences their path choices?

To do this we can examine the five important elements of life, career, romance, religion, family, education to discover SELF or the character.

In what order of importance would you place each? Arrange them subsequently as ‘encounters’ one through five, Encounter one should list the elements in the order you place them as they actually effect your character’s life.  Encounter two would be the ideal order of importance to you if the character had a do over.  Then for each encounter up to five change the order the elements. The plot changes as the situations change for the same character. 

Why? Because given different circumstances, the character develops differently.

This assignment should be done for each of the five encounters to demonstrate the effect of change upon the results of your character’s life. This exercise will force you to examine the events and encounters that have brought the character  to a specific place in your story. A change anywhere changes everything.

List the people and an event impacting each of these five aspects of the character’s life.

I’ve named FIVE elements that I believe are essential to a character’s development. There can be incidents or people who you assign to each. Perhaps you think there are others. Use those.
·       Education
·       Religion
·       Romance
·       Relationships
·       Career

I hope this exercise helps you either in analyzing some of your favorite characters, or in writing well developed characters, or maybe examining yourself – your goals – motivations – conflicts – then finding satisfaction and resolution.