Ron’s Lit Tip Immerse Yourself

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09 29 2020

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

If you’ve been following me for very long you’ve read my advice to identify with your primary character and, to some extent, with all the characters. This is important and I don’t mind restating the idea. But there is more.

Like What?

Just as a painter doesn’t paint his primary characters in colorful clothes and place them in a drab setting, so the writer must also not forget the overall picture. Every part of a painting garners the painter’s attention. The same is true with the written word.

When I edit my books, I not only look for misspelled words and poor grammar, I look at the flow of the story. It is also called ‘pace’. Pace can be affected by the tense of the words, the length of sentences and paragraphs, and more.

But there is more than spelling, grammar, and pace. There is the ‘coming alive’ factor. I love it when a reader says I brought the story alive!

How is that done?

There are many technical tools available to achieve this, but I think one of the most useful tools is your involvement in the story. Or, to put it another way, are you immersed in the story?

Immersed?

Just as you got immersed in your character(s), you need to be immersed in your story or plot. The plot could be described as the most important part of a story. If you have a character that is great but the plot flops, you have a flop. However, you might be able to overcome bad characters with a good plot. It is difficult, but not impossible.

By immersed I am saying that you are into the plot. You can picture it unfolding even as you are writing it or later reading it. Anticipation develops and carries you forward. But a bad plot does not have that ability.

So, how do I Immerse Myself in the Story?

You let the story take control. Just as you become a character and let the character take on a life of its own, you do the same thing with the plot. You start out with a basic plot and let it build upon itself.

If you are reading your story and it suddenly develops bumps, you might need to stop and smooth it out. For example, you are reading along in the present tense and suddenly the book is in past tense. Easily done, easily fixed. Usually the culprit is one word and only requires changing the tense. Other times it could be a sentence, a paragraph, or the entire scene. Which means you go back and rewrite the offending portion.

Sometimes this requires more than the correct word but changing the wording, even the structure. There are times when you toss the offending scene and either replace it or leave it out.

Tip: Let the plot drive you.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. #Writingservices

Ron’s Lit Tip Building Characters

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09 22 2020

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

When writing a story, when do I create characters?

Good question. The short answer is whenever you want. But let’s look at this in more depth.

Importance of Character

Some characters are more important than others. I would suggest you have at least a general idea of who and what the most important characters are before you start writing. The reason is that the primary character(s) will exert influence right from the beginning. Know how your character fits in with the story and having a concept of how things will end for the character will help you in developing your story.

First Occurrence of Primary Character

In most novels the primary character shows up in the first chapter and often on the first page. This is an excellent time to introduce your characters best (or worst) characteristics to the reader. It will shape their opinion of that character from that point onward.

I suggest height, build, hair style and color, skin color, or speech be revealed up front. Skin color tells the reader a great deal, so if you want a little mystery there you would wait to reveal that fact. It is really up to you and depends on how you want your character revealed.

I would suggest you emphasize the primary characteristic. Perhaps the character has a temper, show it. Or perhaps the character tends to listen in on conversations other people are having. Why not show it?

First Occurrence of Other Characters

You don’t need a full biological report here, but it would be helpful if some important characteristic is introduced immediately. It could be he or she had red hair. Or maybe a prominent nose. It could be anything, and it could prove important later on.

Do I need a Record of the Character’s characteristics?

Different authors do different things. Some create a separate document and list the characters by name and what characteristics they have. Some authors do this mentally. I’ve tried both and generally prefer a separate document. Depending on your memory can lead to mistakes, while depending on a document can lead to further developments and even growth of the character(s).

What about using lisps or accents?

If you use lisps, accents, or anything else that is noticeable, then you need to be consistent. In my novel Perished: The World That Was I had the Serpent talk with a lisp. It required consistency or the reader would have noticed it. In the story, Serpent was taken over by Lucifer and the lisp was gone. It helped dramatize the moment.

In another situation I had Methuselah use an identifying phrase. It was something he said that both drew attention to him and to whatever he was emphasizing. It required diligence on my part but it worked.

So, when do I create my characters?

I would suggest you develop your primary and some of your support characters before you start your story. That doesn’t mean include them all at once, but rather to have the capability to include them whenever desired. I also believe, although I don’t always do so, that it is best if you have them in a separate document which becomes a valuable resource.

Tip: Pay attention to your Characters, make a list of their characteristics, and develop them into useful contributors to your story. And prepare them as early as possible.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. #Writingservices

Ron’s Lit Tip 09 03 20

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Today’s Issue: Inner Thoughts

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

I often advise writers to use italics when allowing readers to ‘hear’ a character’s Inner Thoughts. And I do so again.

But what is so important about Inner Thoughts?

Glad you asked.

Inner Thoughts are the same as thinking. We humans are always thinking and whether or not your characters thinking shows up in a book their actions are the result of and reveal to some extent their thoughts. Sometimes letting the actions depict a character’s thoughts is the best route, but there are times when the reader needs to ‘hear’ those thoughts.

All the Characters?

No. Not even most of the characters. At the very least the reader needs to be able to understand and identify with the primary character. You want the hero or heroine to be as real as possible. This helps the reader identify with the character, maybe sympathize, or even approve of both the thinking and the resulting action.

I’m Still Confused.

You want the primary and maybe a few other leading characters to be real, not two dimensional. Broadcasting the character’s thoughts brings another dimension and can play a pivotal role in the overall story.

Sometimes when a character is facing a problem it can be worked out in thoughts. Instead of you the narrator telling the reader what he or she thought, you allow the character’s thoughts to be heard. The reader gets additional facts right from the character rather than the author.

That can be powerful!

So, why don’t all authors do that?

This may be hard to believe, but it’s possible they disagree with me. It is also possible that they simply never thought of it as being important. Usually such authors endeavor to inform the reader of the thoughts and think that is enough. But consider the following:

Jim’s story wasn’t believed by Detective Adams.

Or

As Jim related his story, Detective Adams thought, There’s something wrong here. This just doesn’t make sense.

You decide which is more powerful.

I see your point, but why the italics?

Technically, there is no law that says you must use italics to indicate thinking. But I contend that if you use quotes (“”) a reader might think the character is talking out loud or if you use an underline (__) a reader my just think it is being emphasized but not really thinking. In both cases the reader may miss the idea of thinking.

Another thing to consider is that in the above example where the detective’s thoughts were shown it got more of the story such as time (as Jim related) and why the detective didn’t believe it (something wrong, and doesn’t make sense). If you were also hearing Jim’s story for the first time, the detective’s thoughts alert you, the reader, to a multitude of possibilities and might cause you to reread Jim’s story.

Oh, in other words, the reader will also wonder.

Yes. And look for clues to solve the mystery. That is just one example of how I believe a character’s thoughts can influence the surrounding scene and, possibly, the entire story.

Tip: Use a primary character’s thoughts to help tell the story.

Tip: Consider using italics to indicate thoughts.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. #Writingservices

Ron’s Lit Tip First Person

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Ron’s Tip of the Day is now Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at First Person.

I am not a fan of First Person.

Having said that, I have read stories in the First Person and thoroughly enjoyed them. A contradiction?

Yes. I generally stay away from First Person books, but that attitude is not absolute. Sometimes a story will attract me, and I will read it despite being first person. My biggest objection to the writing not the reading is it a very difficult medium to work within, so I avoid it.

But if you can write an entertaining story in first person, give it a shot. Chances are I might come across it, decide to read it and enjoy it.

What is First Person?

The dictionary gives us the following descriptions: The speaker (First Person), the person being talked to (Second Person), and the person being talked about (Third Person). Another way to look at it is the following: I, me, (First Person); you, (Second Person), and he, him, (Third Person).

Most authors use the third person.

One reason I enjoy Third Person is its flexibility. First Person is rigid, in my opinion, and the author only knows what the person knows. In Third Person the author knows more than the main character and has more control. Another reason I don’t like First Person is it can come across too prideful. It takes skill to make it work.

Maybe you have the skill to make it work for you. Then give it a try.

Lit Tip: If you have the skill then try using First Person.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Ron’s Lit Tip Characterization

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Ron’s Tip of the Day is now Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at characterization.

What is characterization?

Basically, it is giving your character depth. There are many ways to do this and we will examine a few.

Education

This is one of the ways you can define a character. A person’s education is revealed in how that person talks, acts, and dresses. I’ll talk about speech later, but right now we’ll talk about how persons act. Some writers will let you see the character’s timidity, boorishness, and rudeness. It lets the reader know some important facts. But it requires consistency.

Same is true with how the character dresses. As a general rule, you don’t want a character to be dressed like a tramp one moment and a professor the next, unless that is part of the story. Again, you want consistency.

Physique

This is the character’s build, hair, eyes, skin color, and more. It is the physical part. It may or may not be a major part of the story, but that word consistency applies again. Unless you are dealing in miracles, it is not good to have a weak looking character performing feats of great strength. You also want believability.

Speech

Here is a place where you can differentiate. You can just have normal speech with no distinguishing details, or you can go into great detail, including language. I don’t favor ethnicity. I make no attempt to make my characters sound Spanish, French, or German. However, I can see scenes where a character cannot speak English. Then language would have to be shown. However, I have used a lisp (Serpent in Perished) and a specific saying associated with a character as in Methuselah. Again, consistency is a must.

It might be a good idea to keep a record of the character’s traits so that you will remain consistent and believable.

Lit Tip: Consistency is necessary in characterization.

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Ron’s Tip of the Day DIY Grammar

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Today’s Issue: DIY Grammar

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at DIY Grammar.

Experts tell us that an author should never do their own editing; to leave it to the professionals. And they have a lot of good reasons for saying that, chief among them is this: you, the author, know what you meant when you wrote the book. Your mind expects to see the words and meaning that you meant to put down; the professional does not. The professional looks at your work with an independent eye and more easily spots poor grammar, etc.

But you and I know we will do our own editing!

 The reason is pocketbook easy to understand. Professionals cost money! So, unless we can afford it, we are going to Do It Yourself (DIY).

Being a DIY editor requires time, effort, and honesty. It is that last part that is hard. We get married to phrases, descriptions, etc. and don’t want to change. It is hard, but sometimes necessary to divorce from them.

Some Tips to Help You.

  • Use Word’s ABC Word checker which checks for spelling, grammar, and more.
  • Don’t rely totally on it though. Sometimes it will want to make corrections that are bizarre! For example, a character may be speaking or thinking in poor grammar. In a novel that is perfectly OK, if it is part of the character’s personality or education.
  • Review your book more than once. You could, for example, use one reading to check for general errors, another reading for proper wording, checking sentences, and more.
  • Consider having a relative or friend review your book for plot, character development, grammar, and more.
  • Before publishing get a printed copy (Proof) and review it again.

Final Tip

After you’re done there will probably still be errors. But that is true with professionals also, though they may deny it. Even Classics have errors.

Tip of the Day: DIY requires time, effort, and honesty. But it’s worth it!

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For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Ron’s Tip of the Day The Right Mixture #2

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at The Right Mixture #2.

In my last blog I talked about using your readers’ imagination and started out with the tip to Immerse Yourself in the character, particularly the primary. I also mentioned using Backstory.

What is Backstory?

It is a tool writers use to acquaint readers with a character, place, or event. Instead of recreating the entire situation or character’s history, you can tell or have your characters fill in the details. This can take place in a few paragraphs or scenes.

Here is a possible example.

Seeing Gene with a happy smile on his face made Emily feel good. When he had that car accident, I thought he was going to die. Now look at him!

Or how about the same thing from the author’s point of view.

Seeing Gene with a happy smile on his face reminded Emily how devastated she had been when he was involved in a car accident. She had expected him to die. But now seeing him she was overjoyed!

Either one works. It seems like such a minor thing, but that little intro could be the catalyst for future events, actions, or conversation.

That example was only a brief paragraph, but you could have expanded it to a longer, more developed scene spanning several paragraphs. I would caution you that if you do that then definitely play off it later.

Why?

If you spend a lot of time letting the reader experience something, there should be a reason or a payoff for the reader. The example I used above could lead to a mystery about the car accident, or perhaps to a closer relationship between Emily and Gene, or something else altogether.

More on the Right Mixture next blog.

Tip of the Day: Use Backstory to strengthen story

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ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. 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.

Ron’s Tip of the Day The Right Mixture #1

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at The Right Mixture #1.

In past blogs I’ve talked about using your readers’ imagination. But that raises a question.

How Do I Use the Readers’ Imagination?

While it isn’t rocket science, it isn’t all that easy either. I wish I could tell you that there is one simple formula that fits all genres and all books. There are principles that fit, but applying them differs from book to book, genre to genre.

So, here are some ideas.

Immerse Yourself.

That means that as you create your primary character or protagonist, you dive deep. It may not be all at once but start with some basic facts such as the character’s personality. Get to know your character inside out.

Grow Your Character

As your story develops, he or she will be meeting different circumstances. The principle here is to let the character grow and respond to each circumstance. That response then becomes part of that character.

Each succeeding circumstance or challenge should build upon that response. For instance, the character may have been tempted to lie but chose not to because of childhood training or religious beliefs. As time goes on this training or belief may be further tested.

Pretest Your Character

I would recommend that when you first introduce the character you indicate a character flaw or strength. Perhaps through another character’s observation or memory. You can also use backstory to show the test or teaching that influenced the character.

Consider Some Development of Other Characters

Adding depth to your supporting group of characters would be helpful. It wouldn’t have to be as deep as the primary, but deep enough that the reader can identify with them.

Next blog: we continue this discussion.

Tip of the Day: Test and develop your Primary Character

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AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. 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.