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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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 Tip of the Day Mystery

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

To clarify I am not talking about the genre mystery.

That is somewhat related, but I am talking about all books need a little mystery. And I am not necessarily talking about who killed who. Rather, I am talking about mystery surrounding a character or place or event.

Could you explain that?

Yes. I believe that authors today tell the readers too much. I’ve mentioned it before, but the reader’s imagination is a tool that we should use more often.

For example, instead of saying, Jim was in love, why not show it? Perhaps he decides to send Alice a bouquet of flowers. The word ‘love’ doesn’t have to appear because the action displays it. The beauty of this approach is that you the writer can convey the fact Jim is in love with Alice by describing how meticulous he is in selecting just the right flowers.

Another example could be instead of saying Tom can’t swim, you write a scene where Tom is in the water desperately trying to stay afloat. He experiences panic, swallows’ water, and is alone in the sea.

The idea is to let the story or character convey the action rather than you the author telling the reader what happens.

Does that mean I don’t describe anything?

No. You want to strike for balance. Sometimes prose is needful, sometimes letting the character experience the action or view is better. You as the author make that choice. Hopefully, your character or the story itself will naturally communicate which is better and when.

Where is the Mystery?

When the character doesn’t know what is going to happen next, your readers shouldn’t know either, in most cases. You don’t need the reader to know the future unless that is important to your story. A little mystery can add to the reader’s expectations.

Tip of the Day: Add mystery by not telling all.

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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 The Right Mixture #5

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 #5.

In my last 4 blogs I talked about readers’ imagination, including Immerse Yourself in the character, Backstory, Making it Real, and Research. Today we move to Thinking.

Thinking?

Yes. To be more precise, I am talking about your primary character(s) thinking. I love prose and try to use it. But the fact is that seeing the world through the eyes of a character is a very powerful tool.

Allowing the reader inside the character’s head gives the reader a view of the world that the reader may not have seen otherwise. In simple prose, the reader sees the world as perceived by the author. But the thoughts of a character can convey the same information better than prose.

Use Balance.

That said, there is a time for prose and a time for thinking. I use both. Balance is necessary because it adds substance and color to the scene. Both are useful tools.

How do you show people thinking?

Example: Janet thought, This painting sure looks like the real thing.

There is no law about this, but I support the concept of using italics to show thinking. Whatever you use must be consistent. I use italics and I tend to think it is the preferred method as it looks good and more and more authors are using that method.  

Tip of the Day: Show thinking; and try using italics to do so.

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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 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 #4

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 #4.

In my last 3 blogs I talked about readers’ imagination, including Immerse Yourself in the character, Backstory, and Making it Real. Today we move to Research.

Research? Again?

I probably talk about research more than any other topic related to writing. And here is another as it relates to my last blog of Making it Real.

How does Research Make it Real?

Part of making your story realistic is to have the right information about a place or event. I am currently writing a story which partially takes place in a major American city. And I am doing the necessary research. If I haven’t been there it means digging deep so that people who have been there will recognize it. They’ll be able to picture the scene.

Why is that Necessary?

Remember those people I mentioned above. If I mention something and don’t describe it right, they will notice it. And it might ruin their reading experience.

I’ve used this example before, but I once read a story based on Noah and the Ark. At that time, I was working on a novel of my own about the Ark. I read this man’s novel and enjoyed it to an extent. But because he described unlikely items, such as a drinking glass, I didn’t enjoy it as much. I found myself looking for other mistakes instead of simply enjoying the book. You don’t want that to happen with your books.

Research Adds to the Story.

Proper research and usage add to the story sometimes subtly and sometimes noticeably. It’s an excellent tool.

More on the Right Mixture next blog.

Tip of the Day: Use research as a writing tool.

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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 #3

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 #3.

In my last 2 blogs I talked about reader’s imagination, including Immerse Yourself in the character, and Backstory. Today we move to Making it Real.

What is Making it Real?

To answer that we start with what it isn’t.

Some people think that Making it Real means lots of blood & guts, graphic sex, and filthy language. While elements of such things do exist in life, that is not Making it Real. Remember, we are talking about using the reader’s imagination.

Enabling the Imagination.

Making it Real means enabling your reader’s imagination. Granted there are lazy readers who simply want to be stimulated. Using their imagination is too much work for them.

But most readers want to take an imaginary journey. And their imagination is a necessary tool for them.

So, how do you enable that imagination? Basically, you tease it like you would tease hair. You stroke their imagination. But since you don’t know all your readers and their individual imaginations, you need to provide for their imagination to work.

Each writer needs to solve the equation of how much grit and how much imagination is needed. Some authors use a lot more grit because their readers are looking for it. But for the rest of us it is necessary to plant the seed, water it, and then let the reader imagine the rest. It is a fine line, but if done successfully it is stronger than the most explicit or descriptive words!

Readers bring more than their eyes to reading. They bring their experiences, hopes, dreams, and imagination with them. As an author you are touching all of these; use them.

More on the Right Mixture next blog.

Tip of the Day: Use the reader’s imagination as a writing tool.

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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.

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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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 Research

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at Research.

Lately I’ve been touching on a subject dear to my heart, Research.

Why Research?

Because when you are writing fiction or non-fiction research is a necessary and a sometimes overlooked necessity.

I don’t Understand the Importance of Research.

That’s a fair statement.

Let’s say that you are from Michigan and you are in a bookstore looking for a novel to read. You find one titled “Deadeye Will” (a book I wrote). What would you expect to find?

  • Michigan scenery
  • Michigan cities
  • Michigan people
  • Southern Ohio cities

Which of the above would you least likely expect to see but might?

Southern Ohio cities.

While you might see places outside of Michigan you would certainly expect to see something of Michigan. In that book you see places in southeast Michigan (i.e., Detroit and Pontiac,) central Michigan (Saginaw and West Branch), and northern lower Michigan (Thunder Bay).

All of this requires research. You want enough detail to make for a good story, but you also want it to be as accurate as possible to please the people in those areas that might read your book.

In my opinion, research is the key element that a story turns on. Your book might be fiction, but a good description of where it takes places can bring a book alive. On the other hand, poor research or no research can really hurt a book.

I once read an otherwise good novel based on Noah and the Ark. But it was ruined for me because the author included drinking with a glass. I’ve never seen any evidence that glass existed. It’s a little thing, but it can create a jarring note.

Tip of the Day: Diligent Research can pay big dividends for your book.

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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 Want to Write Biblical Novels?

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at Want to Write Biblical Novels?

Writing a Bible-based novel can be successful or risky. But if you use these simple guidelines you should be able to appeal to a large audience.

  • Always assume the Bible is correct

You get messed up if you accept the popular myth that modern science knows better. Science can shed light upon the Bible, but it can never contradict the Bible.

  • Do Your Diligent Research

Use the Bible as a filter, a spotlight or research. When you find a new ‘fact’ shine the spotlight upon it. In my novels I studied the clothing, foods, weapons,and more of that era.

  • Work the Biblical Text into the Story

Sometimes take a direct quote of one or more verses and make them part of the story. Mix the Bible and modern English together so the characters speak using both interchangeably.

  • Use Bible Characters

This is unavoidable but good. If your reader is familiar with the Bible, there will be a common connection between your novel and the Bible.

  • Try avoiding conflicting characters

But the Bible may have more than one character with the same name. This creates a difficulty especially for readers who skip (one reviewer skipped and claimed I was inconsistent with my characters).

  • Use only one Bible version

You can use other versions to increase your own understanding, but only use one in the book. Otherwise you run the risk of confusing your reader. I use only KJV because I believe it is the only accurate version.

  • Don’t Be Preachy

That doesn’t mean no gospel nor no sermons or other Christian statements. It means not being overbearing. The gospel, sermons, etc., should all fit within your story seamlessly!

Tip of the Day: Use above guidelines.

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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 Using Graphic Language

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at Using Graphic Language.

Some time ago I commented on not using graphic language and was accused of forcing my religion upon others. Not so, I believed this long before I became a Christian.

A Time for Swearing

The Bible talks about there being a time for this and a time for that. Is there a time for swearing? Don’t people swear?

Of course, they do! And some people, not all, swear profusely. But should a writer include swear words? I say no. You are offending a great many people. You are better off using symbols or simply saying, she swore. Let the reader fill in the swear words.

Some writers use the first two or three letters and let the reader complete the word. This is better than printing the whole word, but usually the beginning makes it obvious what word is being used. But it still has the ability to offend.

Yes, people swear; some swear a lot; and some swear in very ugly words. But not all do. Don’t you want this last group to read your book?  

Tip of the Day: Use the author’s imagination.

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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. In addition, he is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. 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.