Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feelin' the Love!


Okay, wow!

I've been doing this blog for, what? About a month? Still in its infancy, Word Wanderings has received an award!

I was tickled pink when Katie Weiland of WordPlay e-mailed me earlier this week to let me know she'd selected Word Wanderings as one of the recipients of the 'Love Ya' award! Katie and I've been cyber-buddies for a while, having met through ChristianWriters quite a while ago. She's taught me a lot about writing and helped critique some of my work in the process. She's very sweet to award me this!

The rules of the award are:

The “Love Ya” Award states: These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to other bloggers who must choose to pass it on and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award!
Truth be told, I'm so new to this blog thing that I wasn't 100% sure who to give this award to, so I've given myself some time to think it through. That being said, I've decided to give this award to the following folks:

Lynn Mosher at Heading Home. Like Katie, I've gotten to know Lynn through ChristianWriters, as well as Facebook. She's a real sweetheart and offers a lot of encouragement. Her blog is very inspirational. Thanks, Lynn!

If it weren't for the ladies at AuthorCulture--Katie Weiland, Lynnette Bonner, and Linda Yezak--I may not have started Word Wanderings. All three prodded me along in their various ways over at CW, giving me the encouragement I needed to take that next crucial step. I'm learning a lot from their blog--and their Fabulously Fun Friday's are a wonderful way to lighten up the day and get ready for the weekend! Thanks ladies!

My final award winner is C. Maggie Woychik with Encouraging Emerging Authors. I must say that two months ago, I didn't know Maggie. I didn't know her through CW, though she's been around the forum for a while. I met her randomly through Katie via Facebook. After learning that her blog was geared towards homeschooled writers, and since I was homeschooled for a time, we kind of hit it off. She was also instrumental in encouraging me to give blogging a shot.

So, thank you all, ladies! And, I hope you have fun spreadin' the love!


Until next time,

--Liberty--



Okay, so why do I suddenly have the urge to start singing 'All You Need Is Love' by the Beatles??? :D -- LS --

Monday, June 15, 2009

No, I'm Not a Sadist

I love torturing my characters.


What's more, I find that the books I enjoy most are the ones where the characters are tortured (sometimes figuratively rather than literally) by the author.


Some might say that makes me a sadist. Nope. Just a writer with a healthy respect for conflict.


In order to make an enjoyable and page-turning story, there needs to be a healthy amount of conflict. Most writers agree there should be conflict on every page. While that may be a little difficult to accomplish, depending on the genre you write, it is a good goal to strive for. Sure, you can have minor scenes along the way alleviating the tension, but until you reach the final climax, the goal of writing a novel should be to add tension as the story grows.


One of my favorite books in the 'In Death' series by J.D. Robb is Conspiracy in Death. *WARNING* Spoilers!!! In this book, Eve Dallas is faced with a murderer who will stop at nothing to prevent her from discovering who s/he is. As she and her team get closer to zeroing in the murderer, Eve has confrontations with an officer who has a vendetta against her. What she doesn't know is that the officer is a lackey for the murderer. Besides the arguments with the officer, Eve is also threatened by a droid owned by the murderer. When the officer is murdered and Eve is relieved from duty and emotionally crumbles, there's no way I'm putting that book down! While the end is still far, this climax in the middle of a book I've read several times always manages to suck me in to see what happens next.


Granted, part of this is an emotional connection to Eve Dallas. I'm not going to discuss that aspect at this time, though K.M. Weiland has a great blog this week if you want more info. And while caring for the characters you write (and read about) can heighten the feeling of conflict in your story, you can care all you want about your characters, but if nothing difficult ever passes through their life during the timeframe you're writing about, you're not writing a saleable story.


That being said, I'd urge you to review your latest work-in-progress. Try to identify what kind of conflict is going on every page or two. If you can't find it, it's likely your reader/agent/editor won't find it either.


I'll be off, creating havoc in the lives of my characters.


Until next time,


--Liberty--

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Polling!

Okay this is just a real quick note.

As you may have noticed, I've added a poll to the right. Please feel free to chime in, and use this post to leave any additional thoughts. I'm still working out some bugs with my new template, so hopefully, one of those will be a way for you to e-mail me privately at some later date.

Thanks!

Until next time,

--Liberty--

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Where are you from again?: Creating believable settings

Hello again!

For my sophomore entry, I thought I'd say a thing or three about settings.

Setting, in my opinion, can make or break a novel, though in a few instances, it's not that important. A vivid, well-planned, and creatively described locale adds much to a novel. It helps the reader visualize where the characters are, and how their location affects the character's actions and moods. Unless you really like a violent thunderstorm and it calms you, how could you not imagine tension during a powerful, virtually tornadic Kansas thunderstorm? With the weather on the fritz, surely your character's emotions will be tense as well.

However, weather is only one element in setting. If your story takes place in a city, real or imaginative, descriptions of the topography (one thing I find that's overlooked a lot in the novels I read), sprawl, age, cleanliness, even style of the buildings and homes adds some small element to the story.

How the characters view the place they are in gives key insight to their mind as well. If they're in the country, are they at home? Do they enjoy the wide open spaces? Do cows make them nervous (or moose, elk, deer, etc.)? Do they affect the dress of the area, or do they stand out like a penguin in Times Square?

As I said in my first post, I've had a lot of influences from Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich. With Ms. Roberts, I primarily read her series written under the pen name J.D. Robb, although I've read a few of her trilogies. Both Ms. Roberts and Ms. Evanovich do a wonderful job at creating a setting for their novels that is fitting for the story and the characters. New York City in the 2050s of Eve Dallas' world (Roberts) is so well described that when I read one of the books, I feel like I'm walking down the streets of New York along with Eve. Not only does Ms. Roberts take what's known of New York today and use it effectively, but she's given the city (and for that matter, the world) a marvelous history between now and 2058, when the series opens. I can see the city's scars from the Urban Wars, the damage from terrorism (both actual and fictional), and the effort to rebuild. From Roarke's mansion, to the Down & Dirty, and Cop Central, Roberts has done a wonderful job at wrapping tidbits of detail into her stories that shed light on the world Eve Dallas inhabits.

Janet Evanovich has done a great job as well in her Stephanie Plum series, set in present day Trenton, New Jersey. While I've never been to Trenton, and I understand that it's partially to heavily fictionalized, I sometimes feel like I'm driving down the streets in Big Blue with Stephanie and Grandma Mazur. Vinnie's bail bond's office, Rangeman headquarters, Joe Morelli's house he inherited from his aunt, even the pot roast Mrs. Plum is cooking (and burns while holding it for Stephanie to arrive!)--they all are clear in my mind. What's more, Ms. Evanovich uses some characters to create setting. Lula, a former self-described 'ho-turned-file clerk, while a sidekick to Stephanie's exploits, gives an image of Trenton as Evanovich sees it, and the people you'd find there. Other characters, from Stephanie's best friend Mary Lou (which, as an aside, I've been disappointed that it seems she's been virtually written out of the last few books), to Grandma Mazur, and Connie and her relatives with mob ties paint a clear and sometimes humorous picture of Stephanie's Trenton.

Setting is one of those things that takes time to develop. It's one area I struggle with as a writer, and I hope one day, I'm half as good as the ladies I've mentioned (as well as other authors I admire but haven't mentioned.) An apt example is with my own novel set in 2117. While a small chunk of the action takes place in and around Denver, Colorado, the vast majority takes place off planet where I'm free to create a world only limited by my imagination. As my stories are primarily character driven, the setting has taken a backseat to the story, and I know when I go back for my first rewrite, I'll be spending a majority of the time describing the world in which my hero and heroine inhabit. I'll get to design space stations, spacecraft, resorts, even exotic drinks yet to be dreamt of. On one hand, I'm looking forward to it, the other, apprehensive. One way or another, I'll get through it. At least I have a few authors I admire to look to for inspiration.

Until next time,

--Liberty--

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Welcome & make yourself at home!

Hey there!

This is a new blog that will focus on the topic of writing, especially of writing fiction. I hope you'll find it informative, and hopefully, a little funny at times.

Let me introduce myself. I'm Liberty (yes, that's my real name!), and I've been actively writing for about half my life. I've probably been writing longer than that, but became serious about it in my early-mid teens. Since that time, I've written and re-written at least 6 novels, and started others that are in various stages of editing/writing. None are published at this time, though I'm hoping to rectify that problem before too much longer.

I have several "open" projects right now, though the two that have my biggest focus are Cora's Song, a futuristic suspense/romance set in 2117, and Homebody, a present day mystery/romance set in Kansas City. I prefer to write mysteries, though having had such influences as Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovich, I almost always have some element of romance in my stories.

My intention with this blog is to publish twice a month for a while, around the 1st & 15th, and to cover topics most applicable to writing fiction, though I do have a background in journalism, so there may be some crossover. Future blog entries are likely to include: characterization, believable settings, creating backgrounds, and story arcs. If you have suggestions for other topics, feel free to leave me a comment; I'd love to hear them!

In the meantime, welcome! Please be sure to leave me a note to let me know you're reading, and enjoy!

-- Liberty --

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