Writing Good Grammar

FeaturedWriting Good Grammar

Every week I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. This week I am taking a look at Writing Good Grammar.

Below is an excerpt from my book TR Independent Books Guide to Writing:

Principle

Your grammar must be perfect!

Right?

Actually that depends on who you talk to and the specifics involved. Here is my take:

Generally speaking you want your grammar usage as correct as possible, but there are exceptions. For example, let’s say one of your characters only has a ninth grade education.

You would not want that character talking like a professor. For that matter, you really don’t want any of your characters to talk that way unless they actually are professors.

Now I don’t recommend that you try to imitate slang and accents, but just be cautious. Maybe allow a character to have a favorite saying. In Perished: The World That Was I had Methuselah with a favorite saying, “So God has said, so shall it be.”

Which brings up a related principle: Be consistent. If I later had someone else using that same phrase it could have been a jolt. Be consistent.

So here’s the principle: When you are dealing with conversation (or even thoughts) you can and should be less than perfect but consistent. Everything else should be perfect.

Aside from speaking, there is the matter of punctuation and spelling. With the tools available this should never be a problem, but it does occur. It is therefore necessary to check your spelling and punctuation as often as possible.

Tip: Be consistent. If Bob is talking like a country boy on page 2 and a professor on page 132, you better have shown a transformation. Your reader will spot inconsistencies!

Example

The boys is clothed alike. [This is poor grammar.]

The boys are clothed alike. [Much better.]

“You guys look the same.” [OK.]

“The boys is clothed alike,” Martha said. [Ok, if this is consistent with Martha’s education and you’re emphasizing it.]

Tip #1: A rule of thumb is that grammar rules don’t have to be followed rigidly when verbal conversation is taking place or when someone is thinking.

While there are some purists who’d disagree with that tip it is true. Don’t believe me. Listen to people as they talk to one another. They simply don’t talk like some cutaway from your most recent English language book. Nor do they think that way. In fact their speech often denotes who they are.

Some authors go all out and embed a character’s speech with all sorts of idioms. That is fine but to carry it throughout the book might prove to be a heavy task. I suggest a more practical way.

In my novel Perished: The World That Was I peppered Methuselah’s conversations with ‘So God has said, so shall it be’. That was a major departure from anyone else. For the most part his speech was pretty common, easily understood. But phrases like that and the manner in which he talked spoke of his wealth and authority. In other words I let the character’s personality dominate and come through his speech.

As for thinking, I suggest that you italicize the words. This immediately tells the reader that this is different than verbalizing. It should also reduce the need to add ‘she thought’ or ‘he thought’.

Tip#2: Don’t use slang or social media in your language. Slang is both geographical and time restricted. You use a slang word in New York and it may mean something altogether different in Michigan or Florida. Of course, if your character is a New Yorker you might be able to get away with it. But then you have another problem. Slang is not constant. So what you knew as slang ten, twenty years ago may no longer be in use. Your use, therefore, of old slang in a modern setting can confuse your reader.

Best to stay away from slang altogether.

Application

Both my wife and I try to watch our grammar usage. One of the tools we use is Microsoft Word’s grammar checker. It’s not perfect, but it helps. Also, we use the spell check, but it is not always up-to-date. So we make use of the ‘Add to Dictionary’ tool.

Other resources are grammar books (especially older versions that really emphasized good grammar), and the internet (not the way people talk on the internet like FaceBook, but information about grammar).

Make use of as many resources as needed. And pay attention to grammar and punctuation when editing.

To learn more about grammar and other aspects of writing TR Writing Services is currently giving away – that’s right, it’s FREE! – our TR Guide to Writing. Simply contact us and request a copy (PDF) and we’ll send it to you. While at it why not request the TR Writing Service booklet? This booklet will tell you about our different plans and prices. (The current plan discounts expire June 30th.)

For more on TR Writing Services contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

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), Task Force Hunter (Book Three), Black Death (Book Four), or Rise of I.C.E.S. (Book Five), 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 Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition he is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative 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 to Write the Perfect Novel Every Time

FeaturedHow to Write the Perfect Novel Every Time

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 Write the Perfect Novel Every Time.
I’ll admit right up front that there is no such thing as a perfect novel. There are millions of readers out there and every one of them have their own idea of what constitutes a good or great novel.
So, perfect novel? No! Good, yes.
So what constitutes a good novel?
The answer to that also varies, but since I’m the one authoring this blog, let me give my take on the issue.
A good novel is a story that draws the reader into it, whose character(s) are interesting, the plot is believable, and where the writing makes it hard to put the book down.
Obviously there are other important aspects to a good novel. But as a general statement I think that covers it.
What about Grammar?
Good grammar is always needed. Not just good grammar, but good spelling as well. Bad grammar and spelling can hurt an otherwise good story. Spelling mistakes can be deadly as can grammar mistakes. You need to constantly work on your grammar and spelling.
But I would contend that good grammar and good spelling are included in the statement, “the writing makes it hard to put the book down.”
What about Character Development?
You want your characters to stand out whether they are good people or bad people. To do this requires you have characters that are strong or weak, but are consistently so. I once had a man critique a book of mine in which he claimed the character wasn’t consistent. The problem was that I was writing about two different and real people found in the Bible. They had the same exact name and lived in the same time. If he’d read the book through (he didn’t) he would have seen that. But he skipped around and concluded they were the same characters.
Although he was wrong in his conclusions, that is a legitimate concern. If your character is evil at the beginning you need the character to continue being evil unless there is a reason that causes that character to change. And the reader must see that reason!
But I would contend that Character Development is included in “characters are interesting.”
OK, I get it. But what about the story’s background?
When writing a novel it is crucial to have a strong background. Sometimes that background is easily found in research; sometimes the background requires deeper research. Background includes many things such as the setting, the customs, and much more. If writing about history then it needs to be historically accurate. If writing about the future, then it needs to be believable. My general statement includes two items that cover all of this: “draws the reader into it” and “is believable.”
For example, a story that takes place in ancient history may be a great story but collapses because a character may speak using modern slang or a character drinks from a glass when glass hadn’t been invented yet. This is a mistake that is jarring to the reader and immediately detracts from the story. In all likelihood the reader will put the book down.
Background is important and is in my statement.
OK, What about Sales?
We all want our novels to sell. The more book sales the better for us and our bank accounts. But sales tells very little about the book. For instance, there are great books out there that haven’t really sold well. Why? Because good sales need a good book but it also needs a good marketer!
There are also books out there that are of poor quality. Yet they get great reviews and their sales are out of this world. How can that be?
No matter how bad a book is written there are people who will enjoy them. That might account for some of the sales. In addition some great marketing may have been involved that created a buzz about the book. The result? The book goes viral.
Sales simply don’t tell you about the quality of the book.
Does Following Your Blog Help My Writing?
I try to write about writing once a week (usually Thursday). Some aspect of writing is covered in these blogs. So, yes, if you are reading this blog on a weekly basis you should be learning something you can use. I also write about publishing and marketing once a week. That’s usually on Fridays.
But I would recommend that you make use of multiple sources on the subject of writing. The more sources you have the more likelihood you’ll learn something new that will benefit you. I subscribe to several newsletters, blogs, etc. with that in mind.
Another thing you can and should do is keep writing. You’ve written your first book; it’s been published and now you are getting sales. Don’t stop there!
Keep writing. Start one or two more books and work on them. I believe that no matter what your sales are your writing will improve through the act of writing. Each book you finish should be better than the one before. And as you learn from others you would be incorporating that knowledge into your latest book.
Conclusion
You may never write the perfect novel. But if you study the art of writing, practice writing and publishing new books you should see a consistent growth and improvement in your writing. And if you’re like me the simple joy of writing grows with each novel you write!

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).

– – – – – – –

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.

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).

 – – – – – – –

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.

Dealing with Multiple Characters

Dealing with Multiple Characters

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about Dealing with Multiple Characters.
When writing my novels I frequently deal with multiple characters. This is common to most writers. But in my case, I like to let the reader into a character’s mind instead of just telling the reader what the character is thinking.
This immediately presents a situation where the character could take over more than his or her part of the story. I must always remember who the primary character is in the book. In my Bible based series The World That Was this is not a major problem because the Bible has already told me who the primary characters are and their role. But in the series Christland I have a great deal more freedom which also means I face different problems.
Multiple characters can be a distraction.
Especially if the character has a limited role. For example, in Death Ship to the Stars there was Ralph Abernathy. He had a brief but important role early in the story, albeit a limited role, while people he connected with had more enduring roles. Keeping him in his proper place yet allowing the reader to get to know him kept me busy. But I believe I accomplished the task.
On the other hand Agent X was constantly being revealed through his thinking.
How Did You Do It?
Basically, I only allowed the reader into Ralph’s mind when he was alone or for only a brief time. Agent X’s identity was secret. For awhile the reader may have included Ralph as the true identity of Agent X. In fact, several people in the novel were possibilities so I limited the amount of time they were given for us to see their thinking. I restricted these moments to only those that were important for the reader to see.
I also kept to the Primary Character rule.
What’s the Primary Character Rule?
That’s my name for keeping the primary character up front even if not in view at the time. In the case of Ralph most of his interactions were with Sarah, so she was always treated as the Primary Character when in his presence. Of course, she actually was one of two primary characters.
On the other hand there was Miss M. Since she was something of a mystery woman (not revealed until Book 3) I kept her thoughts restricted. She did think and the reader listened in, but I also kept her true identity secret while dropping a clue once in a while. But she was also a primary character that was viewed through the eyes of Colonel Michaels and General Smith. So there was a balancing act between revealing her and hiding her identity.
Should a Writer Always have Multiple Characters?
Actually that is up to the author. Multiple characters can get messy. You must try to keep them consistent and in their proper roles. In my Bible based novel Perished The World That Was I had multiple characters imposed by the Bible itself. Some of the characters had the same name. (I would not recommend having multiple characters with the same name, but dealing with the Bible required them.)
When the book was reviewed a man purporting to be a Christian reviewed it. But instead of reading it honestly he skipped through the book. You guessed it. By skipping he ran into characters with the same name but didn’t know they were actually different people. So it resulted in a poor review. (By the way I have kept the review because even a poor review can be a good review. Most people reading his review will spot the problem.) Don’t let that scare you most reviewers are honest in their approach.
Multiple characters can be problematic, but the larger your story the more likely you’ll have them. The key is to keep them consistent or develop them over a period of time. And keep their relationship with the primary character consistent.
What About Only the Primary’s Thoughts Being Revealed?
That is a legitimate solution. In fact, that is what most writers do and I believe I’ve read experts advise such. In my opinion, if you can handle multiple characters thinking go ahead and try it. I believe when you can let the reader truly get to know the characters it can be worthwhile but just remember it also requires hard work on yourself.
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).

– – – – – – –

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.

Beta Readers

Beta Readers

Today I am writing about Beta Readers.
You’ve put forth your best efforts. You’ve completed your book. Now you’re ready to publish!
Not so fast.
Have you gone over your book looking for the smallest of errors? Have you followed up by editing the book? If yes, then good, but you’re still not ready.
Let me pause here for a word of transparency. While I have used readers to check my work they don’t necessarily fit within the “Beta Reader” definition. Also, I am not necessarily recommending that you use Beta Readers. It’s a choice. Whether you use Beta Readers or not, it is your choice.
With that out of the way let’s review the following which is based on an article written by editors.
What is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Reader is essentially a person who provides feedback that potentially helps your book to be better than it was. Not everyone can provide that service. A Beta Reader should be:

  • the kind of person likely to buy your book
  • be more knowledgeable than you are on the craft of writing
  • be a reader of books in your genre

It is unlikely that you will find such people in your circle of friends.
Where do you find Beta Readers?
Listed below are some ideas. You are free to add additional ones.

  • Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) by asking for help
  • Scribofile where you offer feedback on other works and receive reviews of yours
  • Join Wattpad where you upload your book with a compelling blurb enticing people
  • Visit local writing or critique groups for face-to-face feedback

Working with Beta Readers
Just locating Beta Readers is not enough. You must have rules. The editors of the article point out authors don’t usually pay Beta Readers, so your interaction with them needs to be positive and affirming.
Don’t forget this little rule: How you treat your Beta Readers will determine whether they ever help you again. So it is to your advantage to treat them well. Use the Golden Rule: treat Beta Readers as you would want to be treated.
Having established that all important rule, let’s look at some others:

  • Give them your completed manuscript, not a draft
  • Send the manuscript in their desired format and method
  • Keep them informed on what kind of information you’re looking for
  • Provide a list they can follow
  • Never display disappointment or offense at negative feedback
  • Reward them by mentioning them in your acknowledgement page (people like compliments)

What’s the alternative to Beta Readers?
Your circle of friends can provide the alternative. Not all friends will be willing to help, but some may be willing. The thing to remember is to provide the same rules as for Beta Readers. And remember that these people are not necessarily trained to do such work.
But I have found that a friend who is willing to read my book and critique it can be very helpful. As I write this I have in mind a woman who took the time to read one of my manuscripts and critiqued it. Her comments and suggestions played an important role in the writing. Unfortunately she’s not really available anymore because of time constraints but readers like that are like platinum!
What should I do?
My suggestion would be to first look among your circle of friends for one or more people who’d be willing to critique your work. Note: the fact that a person may be an educator doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she should be used. Writing is fluid and sometimes crosses the border of so-called rules of writing as taught in the schools. That doesn’t rule them out, but just be careful.
Once you’ve done that you can try the Beta Reader routine.
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.

Announcing World of Abraham

Announcing World of Abraham

This special announcement comes to you my readers, fans, etc. first. I have published my latest book of the World That Was series. It is called World of Abraham.

I haven’t even placed it on my website yet, but that will be soon. But for now you are the first to see this newest novel.

Where can I get it?

Use this compressed url: https://amzn.to/2GVr3H6 for the print version. Or use this: https://amzn.to/2JKgWXp for the eBook edition.

The World of Abraham is Book 4 of the World That Was series. It follows the journey of Abraham, Sarah, and Lot as they leave Haran and begin following God’s call. It is a journey of faith that transforms Abraham into the father of the Jewish nation. It is also a journey that shows this great man of God to be very human with human strengths and weaknesses.

Throughout this book you see Abraham growing. And alongside him you see his wife Sarah who has her own personal journey of faith. Many of the problems that exist today can be traced back to their sins and failings, but the greatest gifts of all are also found: The Jewish people and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In writing this novel I learned a great deal about Abraham. That is what is so great about being a writer. The author becomes acquainted with his characters before the readers do. It enables me to write a story that fleshes out the bones and marrow of the characters so that the reader also meets and understands what these Biblical characters were really like.

And because this book has just been published you have the opportunity to be among the very first reviewers. Don’t let that scare you, embrace it. If you took the time to read the book then you have the right to do a review. Read the book, Review the book, and Post the review on Amazon.com. For further information read the following paragraph.

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), or World of Abraham (Book Four) 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 World of Abraham.’ 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.

Bind them continually upon thine heart

Bind them continually upon thine heart

“Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” Prov. 6:21

This verse is referencing the Word of God as the Father’s commandments. Today I want to apply it specifically to authors.

Perhaps because I am an author I am slightly biased. Since we deal with communicating to people, albeit through fiction, I think we need God’s wisdom to a very high degree.

Thousands of books are published every week and tens of thousands every year. All authors are trying to sell their books to the widest audience possible. I am no exception. And we need God’s wisdom if we are to succeed.

I’ve talked before about the principles of God’s Word and I don’t want to be merely repeating myself. So instead of talking about marketing advice seen through the lens of the Bible, I want to talk about God’s wisdom and how it helps us write better.

Every book I’ve written has been bathed in prayer. It is not enough to merely follow principles, whether they are secular or spiritual. Writing is more than that. It involves the plot of the work, the characters involved, and the cohesiveness of the story. For that to happen requires a great deal of skill. But it also demands more.

People talk about inspiration being required. I’ve talked about being inspired, but it goes beyond simply being inspired to write. We need God’s guiding hand as we write every scene and develop every character.

It can be taxing, but when we have God in our corner it makes things much easier. Whether writing Perished, or World of Noah and the Ark, or even the current writing of World of Shem I have needed God’s guidance. I seek God’s guidance. I’m not talking about formal prayer, which I do, but of communicating to God throughout the process.

This involves talking to Him about every scene, indeed every word. I approach my writing in the spirit of open prayer. Sometimes it is unconscious praying and sometimes I actually ask Him directly. I ask questions like,

  • How do I write this scene?
  • Is this scene too suggestive?
  • Is this character believable?

Sometimes I have typed several words or entire sentences and upon further evaluation have erased them. We’ve all done this, but the question is was God involved in the process.

How do I involve God?

That’s not a hard question to answer. If you are a Christian, having received Christ as your Savior and you have been called to write, then you can expect His involvement. He doesn’t call and then abandon.

On the other hand, He doesn’t force His Will upon us. According to Psalm 32:8 He will guide us. That is a two-fold promise. On the one hand, God promises to guide us, but on the other hand we are responsible to listen to Him and obey.

What a great feeling it is when we have written a story and can say that God helped us all along the way! Whatever genre you write in you can count on His help as long as you are doing it His way. And that is a source of a huge sense of confidence and peace.

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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.

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!

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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!

 

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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.

My Favorite Character in Perished

It stands without controversy that my favorite character in my book Perished is God Himself. I could write page after page about Him.
However, the purpose of this blog is not to preach, but to teach writing. So my favorite human character is the subject.
It is not that easy to identify which one. So let me take a look at the top five characters.

  • ADAM
    • The very first human being. That alone makes him special. He is also the first to sin. But there is more to Adam than that. When you study him out using facts as well as one’s imagination he is a faithful man who truly regrets his act of sin. This dominates his thoughts and actions for the rest of his life.
  • ENOS
    • This is a man that the Bible says taught men to pray. Such a statement identifies him as someone very important. In Perished he teaches men how to approach God, how to properly worship Him, and to obey Him.
  • ENOCH
    • Aside from being a preacher of righteousness he is raptured. This makes him both an historical person and a revelation of the future rapture of all men and women who have been born again.
  • METHUSELAH
    • He lived longer than any man in history. We are not told much about him other than his age and that he died the same year as the Flood. God used him as a sort of landmark. To have lived that long it is possible he was very rich and very powerful. It is also possible (I think probable) he was a worshipper of God. Why would God preserve his life so long and tie his name to the Flood? Because he was used to help Noah?
  • NOAH
    • A farmer by trade he was called by God to preach and to build an Ark neither of which he was qualified (by human standards) to do. In Perished he realizes he needs help and goes to Methuselah. By faith he preaches to an unbelieving populace; by faith he builds an Ark; and by faith he and his family enter the Ark.

Everyone of these men could be my favorite character. Perhaps because I knew so little about him before I wrote the book and perhaps because of biblical hints I have chosen Methuselah. Exploring his character was exciting and challenging. And intriguing.
When you write, who is your favorite character? It doesn’t have to be the hero or heroine, it can be another character altogether. Your readers will have their favorites, so why not you?
This means personal involvement. As you mold the character you invest something of yourself in that character. Oh, and by the way, just because you are a man or woman does not mean your favorite character is the same sex. For instance, I could have added Naamah (Noah’s wife) and other women who were heroic in their own right.
Another way to look at this is to make every character your favorite. How? By investing your time and emotions in them. That character may be only part of the supporting cast as in a movie, but when you invest yourself in them they take on an importance far exceeding their actual role.
If you do this your readers will find the characters believable.

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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.

His eBook Perished: The World That Was can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.