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Powerful Writing Techniques

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Take a moment, close your eyes, and recall a story that truly engaged you as a reader – one whose world and characters became completely real for you. Got one?

Now, take off your reader hat and don your analytical writer hat to think about what makes that story so captivating. What writing techniques did the author use to bring the story to life? Was it the wrenching appeal to your emotions, the vivid and brutal action scenes, or the high stakes facing a character? Mastering these and other storytelling methods is the key to writing your own engaging tale.

Just as a lion is the product of all the zebras it has eaten, a writer is the product of all the books he or she has read. Reading the works of skilled writers is a fabulous way to hone your craft and learn how to effectively employ the writing tactics that help you create your own captivating story.

Here are five great examples of writing techniques that bring the story to life for readers, as demonstrated by five accomplished writers.

1. Invoke multiple senses

When you experience a situation, you pick up more than just its sights. By describing sounds, scents, tastes and sensations, you’ll immerse readers in your story’s world.

The following scene from Saladin Ahmed’s “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the story by using senses other than sight.

Her voice is more beautiful than any woman’s. And there is the powerful smell of jasmine and clove. A nightingale sings perfumed words at me while my mind’s eye burns with horrors that would make the Almighty turn away.

If fear did not hold your tongue, you would ask what I am. Men have called my people by many names—ghoul, demon. Does a word matter so very much? What I am, learned one, is Abdel Jameela’s wife.

For long moments I don’t speak. If I don’t speak, this nightmare will end. I will wake in Baghdad, or Beit Zujaaj. But I don’t wake.

She speaks again, and I cover my ears, though the sound is beauty itself.

The words you hear come not from my mouth, and you do not hear them with your ears. I ask you to listen with your mind and your heart. We will die, my husband and I, if you will not lend us your skill. Have you, learned one, never needed to be something other that what you are?

Cinnamon scent and the sound of an oasis wind come to me.

2. Create intriguing, complex characters

Readers want characters with whom they can sympathize (Harry Potter) or revile (Tywin Lannister) – or both. They want to get to know the characters and learn more about their experiences in the story.

In the following excerpt from “The Children of the Shark God,” Peter S. Beagle introduces us to the protagonist quickly, but in a way that makes us care about what happens to her.

Mirali’s parents were already aging when she was born, and had long since given up the hope of ever having a child — indeed, her name meant “the long-desired one.” Her father had been crippled when the mast of his boat snapped during a storm and crushed his leg, falling on him, and if it had not been for their daughter the old couple’s lives would have been hard indeed. Mirali could not go out with the fishing fleet herself, of course — as she greatly wished to do, having loved the sea from her earliest memory — but she did every kind of work for any number of island families, whether cleaning houses, marketing, minding young children, or even assisting the midwife when a birthing was difficult or there were simply too many babies coming at the same time. She was equally known as a seamstress, and also as a cook for special feasts; nor was there anyone who could mend a pandanus-leaf thatching as quickly as she, though this is generally man’s work. No drop of rain ever penetrated any pandanus roof that came under Mirali’s hands.

Nor did she complain of her labors, for she was very proud of being able to care for her mother and father as a son would have done. Because of this, she was much admired and respected in the village, and young men came courting just as though she were a great beauty. Which she was not, being small and somewhat square-made, with straight brows — considered unlucky by most — and hips that gave no promise of a large family. But she had kind eyes, deep-set under those regrettable brows, and hair as black and thick as that of any woman on the island. Many, indeed, envied her; but of that Mirali knew nothing. She had no time for envy herself, nor for young men, either.

As authors, we must give readers insight into what makes our protagonists tick. What motivates them? What are their aspirations? In this passage, we learn that Mirali, while not conventionally beautiful, is a kind soul who works hard for her parents and is appreciated by her community. And the key? We quickly start to become invested in what happens to her.

3. Evoke strong emotions

In this scene from “Frost Child” by Gillian Philip, it takes the reader a moment to realize what the child witch is feeding her newly-tamed water horse — and that moment allows the strong emotion of horror to set in.

“He’s very beautiful,” I smiled. “Make sure he’s fully tame before you bring him near the dun.”

“Of course I will. Thank you, Griogair!” She bent her head to the kelpie again, crooning, and reached for her pouch, drawing out a small chunk of meat. The creature shifted its head to take it delicately from her hand, gulping it down before taking her second offering. She stroked it as she fed it, caressing its cheekbone, its neck, its gills.

I don’t know why the first shiver of cold certainty rippled across my skin; perhaps it was her contentment, the utter obliteration of her grief; perhaps it was the realisation that she and her little bow had graduated to bigger game. The chunks of flesh she fed it were torn from something far larger than a pigeon, and as the kelpie nickered, peeling back its upper lip to sniff for more treats, I saw tiny threads of woven fabric caught on its canine teeth.

By revealing a previously undetected detail that helps readers understand the implications, the author causes them to wince and recoil — and wonder what happens next. Of course, we have many emotion-evoking arrows in our writing quivers — humor, love, determination, anger, and so on. These strong emotions keep the reader engrossed in the story and curious about the characters’ futures.

4. Use rich character voice

The voice chosen by the author has a profound impact in how readers interpret the story and view the characters. In the following excerpt from “The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones” by Nancy and Belle Holder, the voice and sentence length quickly convey the time period and lighter tone of this comic horror story.

To begin at the beginning:

That would be instructive, but rather dull; and so we will tell you, Gentle Reader, that the intrepid Miss Merriemouse-Jones was born in 1880, a wee pup to parents who had no idea that she was destined for greatness. Protective and loving, they encouraged her to find her happiness in the environs of home — running the squeaky wheel in the nursery cage, gnawing upon whatever might sharpen her pearlescent teeth, and wrinkling her tiny pink nose most adorably when vexed.

During her girlhood, Lightning was seldom vexed. She lived agreeably in her parents’ well-appointed and fashionable abode, a hole in the wall located in the chamber of the human daughter of the house, one Maria Louisa Summerfield, whose mother was a tempestuous Spanish painter of some repute, and whose father owned a bank.

The longer sentences, combined with the choice of words like “environs,” “pearlescent,” “vexed,” “abode,” and “repute,” place the reader in a Victorian setting even without the reference to 1880. The narrator’s voice also clearly sets a tone of felicity and humor.

Just as the narrator has a distinct voice, characters should have their own unique voices to help readers distinguish one from another and to convey aspects of their personalities. Voice is a terrific tool to help readers get to know and appreciate your characters.

5. Pull the reader into the action

Of course, interesting characters and engaging dialog are important, but writing gripping action scenes is a skill all its own. Jim Butcher has mastered this skill, as shown in this excerpt from “Even Hand”:

The fomor’s creatures exploded into the hallway on a storm of frenzied roars. I couldn’t make out many details. They seemed to have been put together on the chassis of a gorilla. Their heads were squashed, ugly-looking things, with wide-gaping mouths full of shark-like teeth. The sounds they made were deep, with a frenzied edge of madness, and they piled into the corridor in a wave of massive muscle.

“Steady,” I murmured.

The creatures lurched as they moved, like cheap toys that had not been assembled properly, but they were fast, for all of that. More and more of them flooded into the hallway, and their charge was gaining mass and momentum.

“Steady,” I murmured.

Hendricks grunted. There were no words in it, but he meant, I know.

The wave of fomorian beings got close enough that I could see the patches of mold clumping their fur, and tendrils of mildew growing upon their exposed skin.

“Fire,” I said.

Hendricks and I opened up.

The new military AA-12 automatic shotguns are not the hunting weapons I first handled in my patriotically delusional youth. They are fully automatic weapons with large circular drums that rather resembled the old Tommy guns made iconic by my business predecessors in Chicago.

One pulls the trigger and shell after shell slams through the weapon. A steel target hit by bursts from an AA-12 very rapidly comes to resemble a screen door.

And we had two of them.

The slaughter was indescribable. It swept like a great broom down that hallway, tearing and shredding flesh, splattering blood on the walls and painting them most of the way to the ceiling. Behind me, Gard stood ready with a heavy-caliber big-game rifle, calmly gunning down any creature that seemed to be reluctant to die before it could reach our defensive point. We piled the bodies so deep that the corpses formed a barrier to our weapons.

A well-written action scene thrusts the reader smack into the middle of the story. It’s another way to evoke emotion and empathy for characters.

Though the protagonist in this story is actually a crime lord — not a character many of us would normally root for — you’re on his side, aren’t you? The writer’s skillful action writing has you imagining yourself behind the defensive barrier, wielding a shotgun, and praying the torrent of lead will prevent the demonic onslaught from reaching you.

Readers want to be taken on a journey to another place and time, with characters they care about and whose company they enjoy. Help your readers feel like they have a stake in your story’s outcome by using these writing techniques to bring your characters and settings to life.


If you enjoyed these excerpts, find the full stories in the new dark fantasy anthology “Beyond the Pale”

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As a writer, which books or authors do you read specifically to learn from their techniques and writing skills?

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Source: http://thewritelife.com/5-powerful-writing-techniques/

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Authors Helping Authors: Check Out This Indie Author

Authors Helping Authors - The Indie Author Advocate

An Epic Adventure


Please visit the above link and select “Recommend” to help new indie author R. Ann Greene promote her brand new release

“The Stones of Caron: Book One – What Time Handed Them.”

This is a reader contributed book recommendation to The Guardian that will be featured on The Guardian’s Book Blog if Greene gets a good amount of recommendations for her amazing epic adventure!

Go to

Tips  links and suggestions   Books   The Guardian

& Select “Recommend”

R Ann Greene has me hooked! I loved this book. This is a fast paced epic fantasy that keeps you engrossed in the complex characters that she has created. I found myself fighting to keep my eyes open because I wasn’t ready to put the book down. Greene brings the story to life with her vivid story-crafting, she draws you in and keeps you spellbound. This story is an exciting other-world that will immediately pull you into its landscape and surround you with a wealth of well-developed characters that you will come to love. I highly recommend this book to any reader. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for book two 🙂

Follow R. Ann Green on Facebook

Visit Her Blog

and

Purchase the Book on Amazon

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Top Resources for Indie Writers & Authors

Indie Author Resources

by Michelle Rene Goodhew

As a writer, you are going to want to establish a good go-to list of resources that will serve to improve your writing and your writing habits.

An author’s resources offer him/her information, education, and inspiration.

This collection of websites, books and podcasts are some great resources you can go to that will assist in your writing efforts.

Who are the gurus of the self-publishing world? What books should you read? Who can publish your articles and pay you for them? What podcasts will really help you? Who can you rely on to help fuel your passion and get you motivated to maintain a writing schedule? Who can help you as an author to promote your book or further your career?

Below are my lists of top resources that have become the most generally helpful to me and other authors. It is important that you check out these resources now and not later, that’s why I believe it was imperative to show them to you now, so you can begin to reap the benefits of them sooner rather than later. Try to visit some of these at least once a week and definitely if you are needing some motivation. Get out your colander right now and schedule time for this activity which will sharpen your skills as a writer. Get comfortable with these resources and use them to turn your book into the best-seller it can be.

Go-To List of Resources:

The Writers Cannon - a list of must read books for authors and writers

The Writers Cannon:

I realize that there are only so many hours in the day, but what you have to finally understand is that in order for you to succeed as a writer you must set aside time to work on your writing career. This includes time to read. Reading will teach you so much more than the act of writing can alone. By reading reputable writers you will not only broaden your knowledge base of the writing industry, but you will begin to hone in on your own writing style, your voice.

In your library of resources you should include some specific go-to sources that will inspire you to keep at your craft while at the same time will work to propel you forward as a writer. In this list of resources you should include these specific works:

  • Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks. Larry gives you a sense of where to begin in your storytelling efforts. Larry believes that good storytelling is dependent on successful story engineering. He stresses that unless you are a master of function and form, than creating your first draft without planning is a recipe for disaster. His book shows you the architecture of storytelling. He believes there are six specific aspects that when combined they empower each other on the page. You will learn to grasp the big picture of your work and professionally apply his approach which includes concept, character, theme and plot. You will also learn two methods by which to execute your scene construction and apply your writing voice. This book will make the process come to you with ease and help you to produce greatness in your manuscript. Larry is one of the masters, he should go down in the cannon of instructional works on writing, do not pass this book by, make it a point to read it.
  • Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling also by Larry Brooks. In this book Larry takes your writing to the next level. He explains that in the world of writing there is a thing he calls story physics that works much the same as real-world physics. These physics rule your writing capability and understanding them will help you to enhance and master your storytelling skill. Larry will introduce you to six key literary forces that when applied enable you to write a manuscript that is geared for success. These forces will take your storytelling craft to new heights, settling you in at a level that stands to be much more compelling than the work of other authors. With the aid of this book you can almost guarantee that your book will become a best-seller. This is a basic staple for your resource library, miss this read and you’ll regret it.
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland. In this book Weiland insists that outlining your novel is your key to success. I have to say that I swear by Weiland’s belief. Learning how to outline my work has allowed me to produce some compelling work. This will be one of your most powerful tools you will ever learn. You will discover an outlining style that works for you. You will learn some crucial brainstorming techniques. Your ability to discover your characters will be amplified. Structuring your scenes will begin to come with ease. You will learn how to format your finished outline and how to make use of it. Weiland is brilliant; she mentors authors and writers around the globe. I recommend you follow her blog on her website as one of your self-publishing and writing gurus. Don’t miss this book; make it your mission to read it.
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story again by K.M. Weiland. This book reveals a basic foundation of all successful stories. Weiland explains why some stories work and some stories don’t. This book can almost guarantee you a powerful plot and compelling character arcs. She breaks down effective story and scene structure so that you understand the timing of your stories events and gives you a standard to use when evaluating your stories pacing and progression. You will formulate the best methods that you can personally use toward the vision of your story. You will come to understand what structural weaknesses can appear in a story and gain the ability to turn those weaknesses into strengths. You will learn about the concept of the “centerpiece” and how to rid your story of any lackluster. She describes rules for introducing conflict and when you should steer clear of it. This book will help you to see the questions that you don’t want your readers to be asking and how to work your plot to get them to ask the correct ones. This book is plain awesome, read it.
  • Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. This short book will show you how to create stories that come alive to your readers. You’ll learn how to anchor your readers to the point of view character. You’ll learn how to take ordinary narrative and make it extraordinary. This book is easy to read and the steps are easy to follow. This book will help you to eliminate the show/don’t tell issues in your writing. I highly encourage you to follow Jill on the web as a go-to guru in the writing industry. She is a wealth of knowledge. Read this book.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Just read it, period. This book is an every writer’s must read. In this book King gives a practical view of the craft of writing. He reveals basic tools of the trade that every writer should know. This book will inspire and empower you. Just keep in mind that one person’s words are not gold, but merely a good and sound foundation from which to leap. So read it or regret it.
  • Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. Michael Hyatt, one of the top business bloggers in the world, provides down-to-earth guidance for building and expanding a powerful platform. To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. In this step-by-step guide, Michael Hyatt, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, takes readers behind the scenes, into the new world of social media success. He shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today’s crowded marketplace. Hyatt speaks from experience. He writes one of the top 800 blogs in the world and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. His large and growing platform serves as the foundation for his successful writing, speaking, and consulting practice.

These books are a must whatever your manuscript will entail. The tools given by them are the best in the industry and you can rest assured that, if you have the spark of an author, they will enable you to grow and develop as a writer into an extraordinary storyteller. Surprisingly enough, these reads won’t take you long to digest and they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to bettering your craft to be in line to compete with the “big dogs”.

the best people to follow in self publishing

The Gurus of the Self-Publishing World: 

Below is a list I have compiled of the Gurus of the literary practice.

  • Me of course – The IndieAuthor Advocate: I will give you valuable content at least once a week that will get you set up as a successful indie author. Bookmark me.
  • Larry Brooks: About evolving your understanding of the principles and craft of fiction, and harnessing the various forces of storytelling that make it so.
  • K.M. WeilandWhen she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog.
  • Jeff GoinsThe author of four books including the national best seller, The Art of Work. On this blog, he shares his reflections on writing and life.
  • The Creative PennA New York Times and USA Today best-selling thriller author as well as writing non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of the Guardian UK top 100 creative professionals of 2013.
  • The Book DesignerHe spends a lot of time researching new ways for you to get your books into print, to make them more apt to sell, and be a source of pride to both author and publisher.
  • Write to DoneDo you like writing? Maybe you do, but she bets there are also times when you feel frustrated because you want to write better. Check out some of her articles.
  • Poets and WritersThe primary source of information, support, and guidance for creative writers.
  • Get PublishedA 21-part audio course on becoming an author. This program from my friend Michael Hyatt (to which I gladly contributed) is the most thorough guide to publishing I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it!
  • The Unconventional Guide to How to Publish Your BookIn this guide, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to get a book, self-publish your work, or do both. For anyone who’s ever dreamed the dream of publishing a book, this is a great resource.
  • Writing a Winning Book ProposalPublishing veteran Michael Hyatt walks you through the process of crafting a great proposal for your book (whether it’s a novel or the next nonfiction best seller).
  • Writer’s Digest:
  • Writers Market:
  • Chris the Story Reading Ape: This is a personal favorite of mine. Chris compiles a multitude of useful articles from other bloggers and shares them with you. I am truly thankful to have found this resource because it provides information and sources that I might not have found on my own.

These gurus will launch your writing career to the next level; they are an invaluable resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. As part of establishing good writing habits I recommend that you keep an eye on these people and apply the tools you acquire from them, they will shape your career as a writer.

the top podcasts on writing

Top Free Podcasts on Writing:

It’s rare to come across writing tools that are completely free and actually useful. You can ring up quite a tab attending webinars, seminars and retreats. For most writers, those price tags are far out of reach. On the other end of the spectrum, writing tools and tips that are advertised as free have a tendency to disappoint.

Enter podcasts. They’re portable, engaging, and free. Want to hear straight talk on how to publish your novel? Listen to a lecture from an acclaimed writing professor? Just pop in some ear buds and hit play. You’ll discover hundreds of free podcasts focused entirely on writing and its various subgenres. No matter what kind of writer you are, something is bound to pique your interest. All you need is about 15 minutes and an audio device.

Here are six of my top free podcast picks:

  • Writing Excuses: Writing Excuses is a fiction writing podcast run by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, The Wheel of Time, and The Stormlight Archive), Dan Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer), and Howard Tayler (Schlock Mercenary). You can listen to these weekly podcasts directly from the Writing Excuses website. Each is just 15 minutes long, “because you’re in a hurry, and we are not that smart.” With their own special brand of humor, the show hosts dish out advice on topics germane to creative writing, including literary techniques, idea farms, plotting, and the publishing industry.
  • The Writing Studio: On Writing: On Writing is a series of conversations with faculty and other advanced writers at Vanderbilt University about their writing practices. Conversations examine writer’s eccentricities and the ways in which a given writer generates ideas, cultivates a style, and responds to various writing situations.
  • Creative Writing Podcast: The Creative Writing Podcast at AmericanWriters.com is designed to help writers of all levels. The focus is on characterization, narrative, plot development, dialogue, conflict, setting, literary archetypes, etc. Episodes are not centered around mindless, useless pep talks and recycled writing tips. Rather, the Podcast at AmericanWriters.com offers in-depth analysis of what works and what doesn’t, with explanations and original writing samples.
  • Write For Your Life: Co-hosted by writers Iain Broome and Myke Hurley, the Write for Your Life podcast is part of the 70Decibels network. You can catch up on the whole backlog of past episodes by browsing the “Write for Your Life” archives on Iain’s site. The hosts talk writing, reading and all things digital. You can expect thoughts, advice, nonsense and guests. ”Write for Your Life” has been featured in the new and noteworthy section of iTunes.
  • The Creative Penn Podcast: These bi-weekly podcasts from author and entrepreneur Joanna Penn feature interviews, inspiration and information on writing, publishing options and book marketing.
  • I Should Be Writing: Author and editor Mur Lafferty hosts “I Should Be Writing,” focusing on the emotional road blocks that get in the way of a writing career. Winner of the Podcast Peer Award and the Parsec Award, this is a show about a writer going from wanna-be to pro. It reaches over 8000 listeners every week and features interviews and how-tos.

Paid Guest Posting for Authors and Writers

Paid Guest Posting for Writers:

To give you a jump start on growing your audience, I’ve compiled a high-quality list for you. These blogs all accept guest posts and pay about $50 for posts. A guest post is a non-contractual appearance on a site. All of these sites are looking for guest writers and freelancers to enrich their sites, and I want to share these opportunities just for you.

  • Funds for Writers publish a weekly newsletter that showcases paying markets, grants, contests, and other opportunities to make money with writing. They’re looking for original articles about any sort of financial tips or paying markets for writers. For a 500-600 word article, they pay $50 if by PayPal and $45 if by check. For reprints, they pay $15 if by PayPal and $10 if by check. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.
  • Write Naked is a writing blog focused on the “writing life cut open.” They accept queries for guest posts that discuss the freelance writing life, from publishing trends to a day in the life of a writer. They pay $50 per guest post; however, if they are “particularly impressed” with a post, they’ll pay $200. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.
  • Make a Living Writing helps writers all over the world find real success in their careers. They accept queries for guest posts that provide “firsthand, practical advice” to freelance writers. In order to query, you must either be a current or former member of the Freelance Writers’ Den or a student or graduate of Jon Morrow’s blog mentoring program. However, they do run open pitch periods. They pay $50 per guest post. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.
  • Writers Weekly publishes articles that help writers increase their income. They accept queries for guest posts that focus on selling the written word. They pay $60 for features. To learn more, read their submission guidelines.

Resources like the one’s listed above can literally be the catalyst for amazing writing. This is definitely a goldmine in author resources.

the best Writing Grants

Writing Grants:

Grants are the free money everyone wants. Here you’ll find grants that cover a simple conference fee or a six-month retreat to write and get away from it all. Some pay for specifically designed projects and others exercise your ability to match writing with a social cause.

go to http://fundsforwriters.com/grants/

Get Motivated to Maintain a Writing Schedule:

I want to briefly touch on the importance of maintaining a strict writing schedule. Nothing beats doing the work. Writing almost every day at a set time will catapult your writing capabilities to new heights, especially when practiced in conjunction with your new writing resources. If you are of the mind to write a best-seller, this practice is a must. There is no better way to improve upon your skill than the simple act of practice. Masters become masters through many hours of practice. Do you want to be seen as an amateur or a master of storytelling? It’s up to you. Start writing every day and incorporating the skills you are learning, you will be thankful you did.


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