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.

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Writing and the English Language

FeaturedWriting and the English Language

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 the Writing and the English Language
While it is true that everybody has a story in them, it is not necessarily true that they have the ability to write a book. One of the first obstacles a writer has to good writing is the English language.
What’s wrong with the English language?
There’s nothing wrong with the English language. It is perhaps the most powerful language in existence in the world, which explains its worldwide usage. It is the language most used between countries as they negotiate treaties, trade with one another, and socially interact with each other.
Now I’m not advocating a college major in English. While that might be helpful, it could also be disastrous. Rather I’m advocating that we teach ourselves proper English. I often review the rules of grammar and spelling, especially now that we have the internet. (I’m doing so even as I’m writing this blog.)
With the internet available and self-help books available we don’t have any excuses. If someone critiques my book and finds a grammar or spelling error it is my fault. We need to master English to the extent that we can write a good book.
Unfortunately we live in an age when speaking or writing good sentences is on the decline. We are living in the age of the dumbing down of America. We’ve often heard that phrase in relation to math and science, but it is also a true description of  our writing and speaking.
Don’t believe me? Read the posts on Facebook or Twitter. Instead of “you are” you read “ur;” instead of “best friend” you get “BF;” instead of “God the Father” you get “old man;” and instead of “laugh out loud” you get “lol.” I understand the need for brevity, especially on Twitter, but the problem is that kids are learning this language and spend more time using it than they do English.
I once knew a teenage girl who was rather smart. She wrote an essay and submitted it to a national contest. And she won! She was proud of this accomplishment, as I would have been. But then she let me read her essay. The writing was terrible. There were misspelled words, poor grammar, etc. It was obvious they read only to get the concept of her letter. But this was a writing contest. Oh, and this was before the internet!
Recently I read that American schools, both high school and college, score low on literacy charts for the world. I don’t know the accuracy of that statement, but the man himself is credible so I tend to believe him. This is tragic!
This is why it is so important that anyone wanting to be an author keep a dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar book nearby.
You Don’t Think That’s Important?
If you can’t properly write a book the chances are that people won’t be able to read it even if they want to do so. Communication is the life line between writer and reader. A writer needs to be able to use words efficiently and effectively. We are creating word pictures for our readers, but if they can’t see the picture then we’ve failed.
Being able to read is just as important as being able to write.
In fact, I’d say they go hand in hand. People today have trouble reading Old English. How many kids can read Shakespeare? Not many, because it’s too hard! Yet they spend countless hours on their tablet and on Social Media ( think Twitter and Facebook).
This also affects the reading of the Bible.
One of the reasons people don’t read the King James Bible is because they don’t know the words being used. The real tragedy here is that these same people have to learn a technical language for their jobs, but find the KJV too “difficult.” The result is they use so-called modern translations that leave out powerful words like “propitiation” which is used more than once in the New Testament. Instead they accept the watered down translations of the word that gives them a bankrupt understanding of Scripture.
(I do realize that the primary reason for new versions is the financial rewards for the publishers, but even so they are capitalizing upon our ignorance.)
You hear today that our language is evolving, which implies it is not only changing but changing for the better. But this is not true. A better word would be devolving (degenerating). Aside from better education I don’t know how to handle this phenomenon, but we as writers can learn to write better.
Oh, and I’m not talking about the King’s English. Rather I’m talking about American English. I’m sure the people of England face the same challenges, but we in America need to face up to these challenges and work on our English. Starting with me!
Ain’t that right? (Just kidding.)
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for more 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 (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), or Task Force Hunter (Book Three), I value your reviews.
If you would like to receive a free copy for the purpose of reviewing any of these books please feel free to 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.

Authors Resource Part 2

FeaturedAuthors Resource Part 2

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 the Author’s Resources.
This is part 2 of the series. Next Thursday and possibly others will cover this topic in greater degree.
Last Week I Asked Why Use Resources?
There was a time when an author only had his own imagination, his experience, and, if so blessed, a dictionary as resources. But the world has changed since those olden days. Back then few resources were available, but today there is a whole world of information available at the touch of a key. A computer key, that is.
Generally speaking, there are writing resources, publishing resources, and marketing resources. We will take a look at each, thus requiring several days of study. So let’s get busy.
Basic Resources that you need:
Dictionary
“I don’t need a dictionary!”
Think again. A good dictionary is vital to every writer. Your word processing program’s built in dictionary is good, but not perfect. You need a real dictionary; preferably one that contains thousands of words. In fact, a dictionary with a thesaurus would be a major plus.
Why? Because you want to avoid, if possible, the repetitious use of a word.  Somewhere during your editing you will discover a word keeps reappearing. A thesaurus would help you find another word, maybe a better word, to convey the same meaning. This helps keep your story fresh.
Dictionary, Bible
If you are writing a story that is based on the Bible you need a good Bible dictionary. Even better, a pictorial Bible dictionary.
When I use a pictorial Bible dictionary it not only tells me about a certain item, say a tool, but provides an image as well. This is an aid in visualizing the tool and its uses.
Grammar
Again, don’t depend on your word processor. They are not always accurate. You need a good resource such as a grammar book or a reliable online resource (in which case you bookmark it).
I often use the Internet to look up word usage and proper grammar. It helps reduce the confusion and makes the whole writing experience easier.
Newsletter
There are newsletter available on the Internet that deal with writing. Chances are there’s one that fits your needs. Check it out.
Thesaurus
You don’t want to be guilty of using the same word over and over. You need a resource for synonyms and antonyms. You need a Thesaurus. I commented above on the value of a dictionary with a thesaurus. If you can’t get both the dictionary and thesaurus in a single book, then invest the money in a thesaurus.
Actually, while I favor a two in one approach a standalone thesaurus may be bigger, with more words and uses.
Computer
These days a computer is virtually a must! That’s true even if you only use it as a word processor. Here are some uses of the computer:

  • Research
    • Basic research may include looking up words, facts regarding people and events, and places. Deeper research can take you as deep as you want.
  • Social Media
    • A Social presence can be gained through a variety of Social Media outlets.
    • Some popular ones are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads
    • New ones seem to be appearing on an increasing basis. Check them out.
  • Purchasing
    • Self-Help books. You can find books on almost any subject. They can be immensely helpful for a writer.
    • Subject books. By that I mean books written about subjects you are interested in. Perhaps your story is taking place in Australia. You can find books about Australia.
    • Tools. New tools are constantly being invented. Some may not be worth your time let alone your dime, but you might just discover a gold mine.

     

Next week we’ll look at websites.
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 (Book One), and Pauline A New Home (Book Two), 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.

Author’s Resources

FeaturedAuthor’s Resources

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 the Author’s Resources.
This is going to be more than one blog. So next Thursday and possibly others will cover this topic in greater degree.
Why Use Resources?
There was a time when an author only had his own imagination, his experience, and, if so blessed, a dictionary as resources. But the world has changed since those olden days. Back then few resources were available, but today there is a whole world of information available at the touch of a key. A computer key, that is.
Generally speaking, there are writing resources, publishing resources, and marketing resources. We will take a look at each, thus requiring several days of study. So let’s get busy.
The Internet as a Resource
I start with this because it is huge. If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that I write books based on the Bible and other books based on Space. Both require a great deal of research. Thus, I use the Internet a lot!
Here is a brief list of what is available on the Internet:

  • books on writing
  • books on the Bible (necessary if writing Biblical books)
  • books on space, such as space travel, history of space exploration, and more
  • Biblical Research material
  • Space Research material
  • And research on any other topic I am interested in writing about

Tip #1 – There is no excuse for not having information that you need. We live in the age of the internet. You can search for just about anything on it. But be careful. The internet is rife with false and misleading information. While it can be a rich source of material, you have to be careful.
I have found it helpful to stick with proven sources. Sometimes I venture out to new sources but I also check their content against the proven sources and against my own knowledge.
Tip #2 – Bookmark your favorite resources. Chances are you will need them in the future. This is a small feature on the Internet, but bookmarks or favorites are extremely valuable for someone who does a lot of research, especially if on multiple subjects.
Example
For my Bible related stories I make use of books on the customs and manners of the people, historical references, and names of men and women in the Bible. In addition, I make use of commentaries of the related person or event, word studies, and more.
But I don’t restrict myself to books. We live in the age of the internet. So I make use of it, searching for all manner of information. This requires a discerning spirit as there is false as well as true information on the internet.
Another example is researching for my speculative series Christland. There is a plethora of information out there. Since I’m writing in an existing fiction field, I research such things as Star Trek to get ideas about what a ship looks like and more.
But I also used other resources. For example, I researched the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 2. From there I got ideas about dining facilities, medical facilities, etc. on a ship. Why’d I use a sea going vessel? Because in many ways traveling space is akin to traveling the oceans. So I drew from naval research.
I used a wide ranging research because I wanted my stories to be state of the art science plus be solidly grounded upon either established fictional “facts” about space travel and established modern scientific facts about space travel.
Use of Internet Search
Warning, Warning! Use of Internet Search may become habit forming.
I am jesting, but the truth is that I spend a lot of time on the internet searching for information. Time flies by!
I will stop at different sites and evaluate their content. Sometimes I know enough about the subject to see how accurate the site is, but sometimes the information is entirely new. One trick I have developed is to copy and paste the material to a Word document. Or other times I simply bookmark the information in an appropriate folder. And sometimes I do both.
Build your library with books, ebooks, and well bookmarked resources.
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 (Book One), and Pauline A New Home (Book Two), 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.

Rules or No Rules

Rules or No Rules

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 Rules or No Rules.
You’ve heard all: Rules are made to be broken; You must never do this or that; and Absolutely not! Rules tend to govern our lives, some being good, some not so good. But the rules of writing, must we follow them? Or can we just do whatever?
One thought before digging in here, the purpose of rules are to provide a guide for you, the writer, to follow. Rules are meant for your good.
What are the Rules of Writing?
Actually there are a ton of rules, but I’m only going to look at a few. It’s not so much the rule that is at stake here but a point that I’m trying to make. In doing research on this subject I came across a book in my library that had a section on Kurt Vonnegut, who was a giant in the industry. He had some opinions about rules worthy of taking a look at.
Here are a couple of quotes: “Can I get away with this? No. The trick is getting the reader to buy it.” Another quote is, “whatever works, works.”
Now let’s take a look at a few rules:

  1. Always identify who is talking – Unless, of course, the context makes it obvious.
  2. Use italics when a person is thinking – Unless, of course, you prefer using another method.
  3. Separate speech from the action – Unless, of course, you decide to combine them.
  4. Only have one primary character – Unless, of course, you can get away with having more.
  5. Give readers as much information as soon as you can.
  6. Weave historical data, if any, into fictional content.

Those last two weren’t really rules, but rather suggestions from Vonnegut. But you might consider them as rules you should follow.
Now look back at the rules, you’ll notice I followed the first four rules with an “Unless” which indicated you could break the rule. Now take a sheet of paper and make two columns. On the left side the column will list rules, and on the right side you’ll put the word “Unless” at the beginning of the column.
Now, using the left column, make a list of the writing rules you know about. Just the ones that might affect you. Now go back to the top and read the rule on the left and then consider whether there are times you break the rule and why. If it’s a valid why, place the why in the right column. Theoretically that will provide a scenario where you have possible points where you can violate the rule. I said theoretically because you might be wrong.
To find out whether you’re right or wrong you might try searching on Google or some other search engine. A lot of times you’ll find the answer. another resource is to look at what famous and successful authors have done.
Neither of those methods can be considered absolutely correct, but there’s a good chance they are. In the end, you must decided the right or wrong.
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.

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.

When Writing Offends

When Writing Offends

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insights From World of Shem Part 7

Insights From World of Shem Part 7

In this issue I will speak on scenes.

As I have worked on my books over the years I have come across different ideas about writing scenes. The discussion usually centers around opening, middle, and end of scene, all critical areas. But one area that doesn’t get much attention is separation.

What Is Separation?

Here I am talking about separating one scene from another. The closing scene may or may not introduce you to another scene. If the new scene involves a different character then the last scene probably won’t introduce it.

But whether introduced or not there is a need for a clear break between the two scenes. Have you ever been reading a book and suddenly discovered that you were in a different scene without warning. Suddenly you’re confused as to who is talking, what is being talked about, what action is taking place, and where it is taking place. To say you’re confused is an understatement!

One of my earlier books printed by a publisher other than T&R removed all my separation symbols leaving readers confused. It really left me looking like an amateur and the reader less than satisfied. Having a separation of scenes is extremely important.

How Do I Separate Scenes?

In general there are probably 100s of methods to separate scenes, but as a reader there are a few that have stood out. Here are a few examples:

[ blank space ] = Some authors simply place a larger than normal blank space between the closing paragraph of one scene and the opening paragraph of a new scene. This is simple and generally effective. However, I find when reading such books that it is easy to overlook the white space. Our eyes may choose to skip the space due to our interest in the book. We may also assume a printers’ error and skip.

[ *** ] Three or more asterisks are an effective way to separate scenes. The eyes will pick them up and the reader will know what they mean. I tend to put my symbols in the middle of the page, but that is really up to you.

[ &&& ] Three or more ampersands work well, also. Again, I find putting them in the middle a very effective move.

[ ### ] Here you have three or more pound or number signs as the symbols. Once again I would place them in the middle.

[ ……. ] I have used seven dots as a separator. The reason for using seven instead of three is that three dots ( … ) can mean that text (from another document) has been only quoted in part. It can send the wrong signal. So seven dots is what I would prefer.

There are numerous ways to separate, but the above are my favorite. The key is to find the symbol you want and consistently use it throughout the book. You might think that using several symbols will look good, but there is the danger of distracting the reader.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for reviews. Not only for World of Shem (Book Three), but Perished The World That Was (Book One), and World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two). 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 Shem.’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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

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.