Category Archives: Writing Tips

Things with Wings. The Detail that Makes Your Writing Fly. #MFRWAuthor #IAN1

Grabbing a reader’s attention is all about hooking her emotionally. Prying beneath the surface as she scurries along from sentence to sentence and page to page. Hitting her where she truly lives – in her heart.

We do that first and foremost by creating a main character about whom the reader not only cares but cares very much. So much so that she begins to behave as if this character were a real-life human being.

Red Jeep 1The reader roots for your character to succeed and dreads that she may not. When such rooting and dreading happens your reader is engaged on an emotional level with your story and that engagement keeps her eagerly turning pages all the way to The End.

Meanwhile, beyond this deftly drawn main character, lies another engaging element of great storytelling. An element that compels your reader to stop short for an instant in her pell-mell plunge through your plot to be hooked yet again by the Deeply Felt Detail.

This detail draws your reader to a particular moment in your story and holds her there to experience a flash of connection. She recognizes the essence of what you have written. She responds at an emotional level even if she doesn’t consciously understand why.

You’ve caught your reader on the hook of your deeply felt detail. But first you must experience that detail even more deeply yourself. Where do you find such resonance – moments, sights, objects, whatever they may be? You find them among your own deeply felt attachments.

For example, I feel such attachment to my red Jeep Wrangler. When I think about that vehicle my heart flies to a fond place, soft and warm and sentimental. Or it can fly more frantically to a place of terror. The difference depends on the circumstances of the scene.

Fond and tender if that scene is of my grandchildren filling the backseat with cookie crumbs and squabbling between bites. Frantic and fearful if that scene involves a wrong turn of the steering wheel that could send us hurtling to disaster.

I drive my red Wrangler onto the page and make my story fly straight into my reader’s psyche and most especially into her heart. I do that by revving my writer engine to the max on every drop of drama fuel this detail holds for me personally. I give it storytelling wings.

I possess a lifetime’s worth of emotionally potent details – moments, sights, objects, whatever they may be. You do also. Think back. Feel deeply. Engage your heart and your nerve endings in the search. Make a list. Then use those details in your writing and watch your stories soar.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

– R|R

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK  there also.

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Writers’ Resolution Number One

Idea LampThis is a picture of what I call my Idea Lamp. Things I most need to remind myself about my work are taped and pinned and clamped to the shade and even to the shaft.

The boldest print is allotted to the reminder I need most of all. Though sticky notes encroach nonetheless. “SPEND MORE TIME WRITING” it reads in solid caps and purple Sharpie ink underlined five times.

Those words require that much force of emphasis for me. Especially right now for two reasons. The first is obvious. “At this time of the rolling year…” Charles Dickens would begin. I continue “… I catapult myself into everything BUT writing.

I tell myself I’m doing it for family or for the sake of the season and its spirit or simply because I enjoy the leap. All of these are true but they don’t tell the entire tale or warble more than a few verses of the entire carol.

I’m on vacation to be sure. Vacation from what? Vacation from the problems that writing never fails to impose. Those problems are the second reason I need a resolution with the power of a well-aimed boot behind it to catapult me back to SPENDING MORE TIME WRITING.

My current challenges involve the in-progress fourth novel in my ongoing series. The new story is titled A Villain for Vanessa and it poses special problems. As special as your problems with your current project whatever it may be.

These are the boulders that make up my particular roadblock. We each have our own boulders and our own roadblocks. You and I and everyone else who has ever written down words we hope will be read – from Bob Cratchit’s pen nib to now.

We each have a story of what our individual boulders may be and how formidably they’ve been stacked in our personal path. The common element among us is that all of our boulder blockades are cemented together by doubt.

We doubt that we know what to do or how to do it or even if we can do it at all. Doubt is a killer disease and for us there is only one cure. SPEND MORE TIME WRITING. Write up one boulder and over the next and through the fissures between when we find them.

Write so furiously forward the doubts can’t overtake us – and when they inevitably do – write straight past them and beyond.

Meanwhile keep your Idea Lamp burning bright at this and every other time of the rolling year. I resolve to do the same. Happy New 2016.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn is Alice’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 3 – A Holiday Season Novella. Just 95 cents. The Best New Year’s Bargain Ever at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC.

 

How to Create a Relatable World – Ask Alice Saturday

Hope's Prelude cover image Question: How do I create a fantasy world that works?

Answer: You create a world that real-life readers can relate to.

First of all write a series. Creating an entire alternate world is too much work to undertake for a one-off novel. Besides a series is the road to success for an author in today’s marketplace. A series is also an adventure through that alternate world. Your goal is to draw readers in and make them want to stay through one book then the next and the next. To do this you must create a world that has reality and resonance – a world that is relatable.

Then you must immerse your reader in that world. You must immerse her so completely in your story world that she’s wants – even needs – to remain there until you release her at The End. So completely she will miss that world when she’s forced to leave it and be eager to return asap. Achieve that and you’ve set a powerful narrative hook for the story and for the series as well. But how do you manage such immersion?

I found an answer to that is in a book by L.G O’Connor. Hope’s Prelude – The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles – Book 2.5 is part of a very big story world. The biggest as a matter of fact because O’Connor’s macro story world encompasses nothing less than the struggle between good and evil to determine the fate of the universe. I love big stories and good versus evil but most authors have difficulty managing the scope of that canvas. Specifically they have difficulty making the story believable and relatable.

O’Connor manages the vast scope of her story and the series by anchoring us in credible human territory. The landscape may be vast but the situation is intimate because at its heart is a love story and we relate to love stories. This is the powerful narrative hook we all carry in our romance genre kit bags. We can use it to make a potentially overwhelming story canvas personal. We immerse the reader in the world of the lovers and that is our open sesame to immersing the reader in the alternate world of the story.

But we must do so as deftly as O’Connor does. At the center of an apocalyptic struggle scenario she grounds us in a tender love story that humanizes all of the rest and gives it an up-close-and-personal scale which touches our hearts. I was fascinated by her faceoff between the forces of good – the Angelorum – and the forces of evil – the Dark Ones. But I was truly captured by the love between Hope in her worldly guise as Dr. Sandra Wilson scientist – and her guardian and mate Isa whom she calls Ishmael.

Their passion is both human and otherworldly and Isa is one of the most sexy-powerful yet gentle lovers I’ve ever read. As romance storytellers intent upon creating conflict we are often forced to situate that struggle between our lovers or lovers-to-be. The alternate world framework allows us to situate the struggle outside of the love relationship in the complex universe beyond. O’Connor takes beautiful advantage of that opportunity by creating a hero who openly adores the heroine. I found that refreshing and endearing from the start.

However engulfed I may have been by the multi-layered world of the series – what really grabbed me was Hope/Sandra and Isa/Ishmael and how much they are besotted with each other and devoted to each other. Theirs is the kind of relationship we all long to find in our real-world lives and that longing is the ultimate reader involvement. We not only want to read about this couple – we want to be part of a couple just like them.

What deeper hook can a writer set? How much more relatable can a story be? Does O’Connor’s fantasy world work? You betcha it does. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XKID2UE and be inspired.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn  – coming soon – is the first Christmas Novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Villain for Vanessa will be Book 3. All of my titles are available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.