How to Absolutely Use Breakthrough and Sensational Writing

FeaturedHow to Absolutely Use Breakthrough and Sensational Writing

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Wednesday’s I try to focus on the Church. This week I am taking a look at How to Absolutely Use Breakthrough and Sensational Writing.

That’s a long title but it conveys what all of us writers, and I definitely include myself, need to learn to do better. To put the subject in a more explicit form: Learn to use emotion when writing.

I believe that every reader comes to our books with a tool available for us to use. It’s called their imagination. Think about it. Even if you are only eighteen you have had experiences, learned knowledge, and gotten acquainted with others. All of this impacts your imagination. So our job as authors is to tap into that imagination wherever possible and however we are able.

I am not going to cover every possible way to do this. So, up front, I’m already tapping into your imagination. In this case, to imagine ways to use your reader’s imagination.

Emotional Words

Emotional words are powerful words and are encourage in writing headlines. But you also want emotional words within your story. Now I’ve come across an outfit called CoSchedule. CoSchedule offers many things but one thing they offer I think we can all use and it’s FREE! That’s called How To Write Headlines and I use it to assist me in writing good blog headlines. But again I believe you want to write stories that accomplish the goal of triggering the reader’s mind and imagination.

So the use of emotional words is recommended. And the tool referenced above provides a list of words.

Emotional Scenes

This is not always easy to write. One reason is you have to get into the character and possibly experience the anger, the frustration, and the pain. One trick I use is to be that character, whether it’s a man or woman, a good guy or a bad guy, or whatever. I immerse myself into the character so that I think and experience things as he or she does. It usually works.

Often times I have to write, rewrite, and rewrite again to get the right feel for a particular scene. This is drudgery sometimes but it is also a necessary part of writing.

Colorful Scenes

By color I’m talking descriptive. Think of writing as if you were a painter (remember the old saying, A painting is worth a thousand words). Part of my rewriting involves me adding color to the scene. Instead of writing, ‘He stopped beside a try and sat down,’ I could write, “Stopping beside a fully grown Oak tree in full bloom, he sat down.’ Not perfect, but it adds a dimension to the story. If the reader is familiar with Oak trees, then the picture might form of the protagonist leaning against an Oak tree that he or she envisions.

You can also add color by describing the tree in more detail. Or maybe he’s sitting beside a stream. How big is it? Is it blue? Is it moving fast or slow? These are all questions you may want to answer.

I can’t tell you how many times I rewrite scenes. Sometimes I rewrite the entire scene, but most often I rewrite a word here and a phrase there. I keep doing this until I have a scene that empowers my imagination and I can visualize the scene for myself.

If you have the ability to step back and read your novel as a reader and not the author I recommend you do that often. And not just scenes involving your primary character but every scene and every character should benefit from such an approach. If you make this a practice it will eventually become second nature to you and will improve your writing.

Sensationalize Your Writing

Now you have to be careful here. This often involves being somewhat graphic. If you’ve read my blogs in the past then you know I’m opposed to being excessively graphic. But having graphic details in your book is not necessarily bad.

For example, in one book I wrote about a man being beheaded. You, the reader knew it, but I didn’t describe the actual beheading. In another scene I wrote about a woman being raped. I wrote about events leading up to it and leading away from it, but not the rape itself. Still another scene showed a sword fight in which one man lost his hand. All of these were somewhat graphic, but I let the reader fill in the missing parts.

Every writer has to find his/her own level of what amount of graphics to include. I would, however, suggest the following rule: Always leave room for the readers to use their imagination as that is your most valuable tool.

Be Willing to Experiment

This is more than emotion, more than graphics. It is being willing to think outside the box. Not only about words but about ideas, things, etc. For instance, when I decided to start writing novels in the Speculative Fiction genre I knew upfront that I wasn’t going to be using any alien beings. My characters would all be human (or robots), but no little green men.

That created a problem. How do I make my story believable? So I was faced with the dilemma of devising a story line that would be interesting, that could hold attention, and that could be entertaining. The result was Death Ship to the Stars. Was I successful? That’s up to my readers to determine. Personally speaking, I like what I wrote.

Conclusion

Writing is a challenge. If you love writing as I do, then you embrace that challenge. You are always open to new ideas, new methods, and even new genres. You actively keep your mind on the task of being a better writer.

I never sit down and ask myself what kind of books sell. I read advice that you should check the market out first before writing. From a marketing standpoint this makes sense, especially for nonfiction. You don’t want to waste your time.

However as a fiction writer I want to write what interests me. That is my first question, What do I want to write? It is never a waste of time for me because whether the book sells or not is not my primary concern. I have a story to tell and I want to tell it.

So I decide to writen and then all the remaining questions relate to how to write an entertaining book. Translated that means the following: When I, the author, have completed the novel is it a book that I, the reader, would read?

I don’t ever want to put a book out there that I wouldn’t enjoy. Then, after that, I want a book that others will enjoy.

So the conclusion of the matter is to be yourself, but also keep learning and doing. Write what you want to write. But also be willing to spice up your writing with emotional words and scenes, sensational scenes, and more.

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), or Task Force Hunter (Book Three), I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

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When Writing Offends

When Writing Offends

Today I am writing about When Writing Offends.
You are going to offend somebody with your writing. This is a true statement whether you’re writing fiction, blogs, or anything else. It’s likely to happen. And some writers write with the intent to offend.
I am not writing about that. Rather, I am talking about poor writing. A few years ago I spoke at a meeting where we were discussing someone else’s book (name intentionally withheld). The book was full of foul language and filthy sex. I had agreed to review the book not knowing the author’s tendencies. In fact, I started to back out because it offended me so greatly, but I had already agreed to read it and so I read did, although it was a struggle. My conclusion, it was a terrible book. I would never recommend it to anyone.
But it was a best seller!
You might ask how can it be poor writing and still be a best seller? Simple, sex sells!
But the problem with the story was there was a basically good plot but the sex, language, etc. overrode it. Now to be sure, there was at least one fan of the writer who defended the book. Her defense bordered on insulting rather than anything constructive, but it does show such writing does attract people.
I once was accused of trying to impose my Christian faith upon others. Not in that meeting, but here on the Internet. But the fact is I believed that writing should not contain profane language or excessively graphic scenes long before I ever accepted Christ as my Savior. In fact, I wasn’t even attending church back then. I’m not talking religion I am talking about what makes a great writer.
Sales doesn’t make a great writer.
There is a constant flow of pornographic books that sell. Mankind is attracted to such books. But they are not good books.
Before I got saved I read well written books of all types. I even read books that had great plots, fantastic characters, while also leaving little to the imagination. And the interesting thing is that these books were great even if the bad stuff was left out. In fact, I would contend they would have been better.
You read any of my novels and I leave out the excessive graphics. That doesn’t mean there’s no sex, violence, or anything like that. When I write a scene I leave the excess up to the reader. Which brings up an important maxim:
A writer’s job is to stimulate the reader’s imagination not replace it!
So I always have a stopping point. This is true whether it is sex or violence.
But what about language?
Well, let’s take a look at that. Those defending the practice contend it is more realistic, that everyone swears. But that is a false statement. There are a lot of people who don’t swear. Hollywood and TV has created an image that says swearing is normal, but we all know people, a great many people, who don’t swear.
So, first of all, swearing is not as prevalent as advertised.
Secondly, even if it was prevalent, we need to ask why most people read. It is to escape the reality of their lives, to imagine, to relax, and to be uplifted. Sure some are drawn to the dark side (a little Star Wars there), but I doubt that is the majority.
So, how do you the author show passionate characters and/or events without crossing the line? Believe it or not there was a time when authors actually solved this dilemma. In the case of language they simply used symbols, such as !@#$%^&. The reader automatically knew they represented a swear word. Some readers probably substituted their favorite swear word if they liked to swear. But the key here is that the reader didn’t feel deprived, but simply read on.
In the case of violence or sex the authors highlighted the activities leading up to the event. For example, in Perished I wrote of a battle where a sword fight took place. Read it for yourself:

Akkub turned and saw Meremoth rushing at him. He blocked the initial strike although staggered by it. Meremoth used a two-handed grip to force Akkub back. Suddenly Akkub lost his footing and Meremoth’s sword came slicing downward unblocked.

Everything seemed to stop as the general looked at his severed hand still gripping the sword.

Here we have a sword fight that results in one man losing his hand. The amount of detail provided is not too graphic, but it is enough to stimulate the reader’s imagination. And different readers have different levels of imagination, so each reader may picture the fight differently. In any case, the scene is full of action yet not too graphic.
In the case of sex, my usual approach is to focus on the events leading up to the act and to the events leading away from the event. Again, I let the reader’s imagination fill in the gaps.
In truth, the reader’s imagination is a valuable tool available to every writer willing to make use of it.
It is a tool that needs to be sharpened. You do that by using it. Moreover, you experiment and see what works. As deeply as I believe in what I am saying I have had people who reviewed my rough drafts tell me that I needed to back off in this or that scene. So you need people you trust to review your rough draft before you submit it for publishing.
My final thought on this is what is your ultimate goal? We all want our books to sell. That is a given. But what is your ultimate goal?
Is it to simply get rich? Then you’ll probably reject everything I’ve said.
Is it to simply write? Then you may or may not care about this blog or about sales.
Is it to write your very best book? Then I contend you want your writing to be above reproach. Fame and sales would be nice, but you want to be able to say to yourself, I did my best. And that brings a deep sense of satisfaction!
Offences can’t be totally prevented. But your offences due to unnecessary graphics, language, and the like can be reduced and maybe eliminated. Try it.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me…” Psalm 3:3

Today we live in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. They mock us and, in some cases, try to harm us. But no matter what they do we have a God who is our shield. Nothing can be done to us without His knowledge and permission. So even if they kill us, God protects our soul and we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.

But how do I apply this to my writing career?

As a Christian you have standards – Bible based standards. And when you take a stand on those standards the world attacks you. This can come in the form of writing ‘experts,’ editors, publishers, and marketeers, or just well-meaning friends.

When this happens remember that God is your shield. Look to Him for guidance and reassurance. If your stand is Biblical then He will “have your back.”

For example, let’s say that you been searching for an agent to help you get a publisher. You finally found one you like. When he reads your book he says, “Your book is too bland. You need to spice it up. Your characters need to be more realistic.” Usually a statement like that means you need to have more sex, violence, and vulgarity than what you’re conscience permits. That’s assuming of course that your characters are well developed.

Don’t get me wrong. Sex and violence are part of life. But as Christian writers we are not to exploit sex and violence. There is a big difference from inferring sex and actually describing it. As for violence we don’t need to be overly graphic. In both of these areas our understanding of Biblical standards governs what we write.

Back to the agent. The agent has given you his advice and has made it clear that unless you change things as he has described, he won’t represent you. Complicating the matter is the fact that you have not been able to find another agent. What do you do?

You stick with your Biblical principles. You need to remind yourself that God is your shield. And since God knows everything from before Creation, He already has prepared for you a safety net. That net could be the sudden appearance of an agent who will represent your work without compromises. Or God could lead you to go the self-publishing route. Or He may provide something altogether different.

The point is that if we trust God and do things His way He will work it out to be for our good (see Roman’s 8:28). And chances are you may even be surprised by how He does it!

One last comment: As a Christian writer you don’t measure success the same way the world does. The world uses sales, royalties, etc. as the measuring stick. While you certainly shouldn’t ignore such data, your real success must come from a Biblical perspective. Does God approve? Not that you’re going to hear a verbal “good job” from Him, but your Christian conscience will let you know and He may well give you a great sense of peace. And no matter the sales, God takes care of His own!

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

HOW NOT TO WRITE

HOW NOT TO WRITE

Today’s blog delves into bad writing.

A few years ago I spoke at a meeting where we were discussing someone’s book (name intentionally withheld). The book was full of foul language and filthy sex. I had agreed to review the book not knowing the author’s tendencies. In fact, I started to back out because it offended me greatly, but I had agreed to read and so I read it, although it was a struggle. My conclusion, it was a terrible book. I would never recommend it to anyone.

But it was a best seller!

If it was a best seller then how can I say such hard things about it? And if my views are correct how come it was a best seller?

I’ll answer the second question first. Sex sells. So does filthy language.

I said bad things about the book because they were true.

Back to the meeting. In my review I condemned the book for the language and excessive graphics. One attendee, obviously a fan of the author, objected. She claimed to personally know the author who she claimed was a great person.

Now understand this, I never condemned the author as a person. I condemned the writing. There is a difference, but this attendee attacked me anyway. There were others in the room who agreed with my analysis, but this woman was obviously type A and wouldn’t back down.

Since that meeting I have talked about writers not using profane language or excessively graphic scenes. I mentioned it once in a blog and a reader commented that I was imposing my religion on the readers.

Not true. I believed that writing should not contain profane language or excessively graphic scenes long before I ever accepted Christ as my Savior. In fact, I wasn’t even attending church. I’m not talking religion I am talking about what makes a great writer.

Sales doesn’t make a great writer.

There is a constant flow of pornographic books that sell. Mankind is attracted to such books. But they are not good books.

Before I got saved I read well written books of all types. I even read books that had great plots, fantastic characters, while also leaving little to the imagination. And the interesting thing is that these books were great even if the bad stuff was left out. In fact, I would contend they would have been better.

You read any of my novels and I leave out the excessive graphics. That doesn’t mean there’s no sex, violence, or anything like that. When I write a scene I leave the excess up to the reader. Which brings up an important maxim.

A writer’s job is to stimulate the reader’s imagination not replace it!

So I always have a stopping point. This is true whether it is sex or violence.

But what about language? Well, let’s take a look at that. Those defending the practice contend it is more realistic, that everyone swears. But that is a false statement. There are a lot of people who don’t swear. Hollywood and TV has created an image that says swearing is normal, but we all know people, a great many people, who don’t swear.

So, first of all, swearing is not as prevalent as advertised.

Secondly, even if it was prevalent, we need to ask why most people read. It is to escape the reality of their lives, to imagine, to relax, and to be uplifted. Sure some are drawn to the dark side (a little Star Wars there), but I doubt that is the majority.

So, how do you the author show passionate characters and/or events without crossing the line? Believe it or not there was a time when authors actually solved this dilemma. In the case of language they simply used symbols, such as !@#$%^&. The reader automatically knew they represented a swear word. Some readers probably substituted their favorite swear word if they liked to swear. But the key here is that the reader didn’t feel deprived, but simply read on.

In the case of violence or sex the authors highlighted the activities leading up to the event. For example, in Perished I wrote of a battle where a sword fight took place. Read it for yourself:

Akkub turned and saw Meremoth rushing at him. He blocked the initial strike although staggered by it. Meremoth used a two-handed grip to force Akkub back. Suddenly Akkub lost his footing and Meremoth’s sword came slicing downward unblocked.

Everything seemed to stop as the general looked at his severed hand still gripping the sword.

Here we have a sword fight that results in one man losing his hand. The amount of detail provided is not too graphic, but it is enough to stimulate the reader’s imagination. And different readers have different levels of imagination, so each reader may picture the fight differently. In any case, the scene is full of action yet not too graphic.

In the case of sex, my usual approach is to focus on the events leading up to the act and to the events leading away from the event. Again, I let the reader’s imagination fill in the gaps.

In truth, the reader’s imagination is a valuable tool available to every writer willing to make use of it.

It is a tool that needs to be sharpened. You do that by using it. Moreover, you experiment and see what works. As deeply as I believe in what I am saying I have had people who reviewed my rough drafts tell me that I needed to back off in this or that scene. So you need people you trust to review your rough draft before you submit it for publishing.

My final thought on this is: what is your ultimate goal? We all want are books to sell. That is a given. But what is your ultimate goal?

Is it to simply get rich? Then you’ll probably reject everything I’ve said.

Is it to simply write? Then you may or may not care about this blog or about sales.

Is it to write your very best book? Then I contend you want your writing to be above reproach. Fame and sales would be nice, but you want to be able to say to yourself, I did my best. And that brings a deep sense of satisfaction!

 

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Profanity in Writing: Is It OK?

Profanity in Writing: Is It OK?

Profanity sells!

That is a fact. Which is one of the reasons writers employ it. Some will say they do it because they want their characters to be real. But this argument falls flat when you view real life.

Sure many, not all, people swear. I was a sailor and learned to swear, but that doesn’t mean that all sailors swear (though they have that reputation). But the truth is that even those who do swear usually are mindful of the people around them. It is rare to find someone who swears all the time.

Personally, I don’t like swearing or any kind of profanity in writing. One critic read a recent book review in which I explained my 2 star rating of the book was partly based on the excessive profanity. It was a book that left me feeling dirty, and I don’t think I was able to finish it. In fact, I eventually threw it away.

 Back to the critic. He took exception to my condemnation of profanity. Called it absurd and proceeded to attack me personally because of my Christian stand. I replied to that critic that I felt that way about profanity before I ever became a Christian.

 This critic had also defended profanity in writing because “most” people swear. This is dubious at best. Perhaps if you are talking about an occasional swear word this might be true. But constant swearing? Kind of depends where you frequent.

 The truth of the matter profanity in writing has less to do with creating “real” characters and more to being a crutch. Instead of investing time and effort into creating believable characters some authors opt for profanity and graphic text. These are crutches usually designed to cover poor writing.

 The sad part of this is that I have read (or started to read) books that were well written. They had good plot and strong characters. But then they inserted profanity. Ruined the book which ultimately landed in the trash.

 If you have been around for awhile you may remember some of the classics of old. Rarely did you see a swear word. Actually the authors often used symbols for swearing, such as “#$@&%*!”. And I am going to say something that may astound you.

Using symbols in place of actual swear words is more effective than the swear words.

Did I really say that? Yes. And here is why.

The writing of fiction, whatever genre you are in, has a primary goal of connecting with the reader. And how does a reader connect with a book? His/her imagination! It is the author’s job to trigger that imagination, to excite it and pull it in. That is why so much emphasis is placed on strong characters and well developed scenes. When describing a scene the author doesn’t get bogged down in details but gives beautiful (or ugly) descriptions that leave it up to the reader to fill in the smaller details. That is why two or more people can read the same words and ‘think’ it described something altogether different.

Same thing with language. Using a symbol actually triggers the reader’s imagination. One reader will supply a word or phrase, while another reader will apply an altogether different meaning. They personalize the text, making it something they are familiar with in their own lives.

Unfortunately there are famous authors who have used profanity in their books. Why? I can’t read their minds, but all to often it is because profanity sells. And that is sad. Especially if they are able to create strong characters without it.

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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page.