Emerging Writers: Guest Post #17 – Betrayal of Trust – corporate conspiracy & a character’s story

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Guest Posts

Betrayal of Trust by B. B. Wright – Fiction/Adventure/Thriller So what is it about? Edward Slocum is the executive vice president of a pharmaceutic firm in Canada. During a walk at their plant he’s very surprised to see men with machine guns. KemKor is up to something, something illegal. As his suspicions mount about his own employers, Edward finds himself on a roller-coaster ride of events that may change both his life and the community he lives and works in. So B. B. Wright, tell us who you are? First of all, I am a Canadian who lives in the province of Ontario. With degrees in mathematics and education, I have worked in industry, business and education. I co-authored the first mathematics textbook series in Canada for Prentice-Hall. I left teaching for a while to work as a real-estate appraiser; later returning to teach adults in a retraining program. During that period, I co-authored “A Guide for Public Involvement” for industry through the Canadian Standards Association and assisted an environmental group “Future Builders,” in a consulting role. Before beginning my writing career, I studied under the tutelage of Canadian author Sandra Birdsell at Humber College’s School for Writers. *** Here’s BB’s post: Storytelling is my way of showing gratitude to the books and people who have shaped my life. The evolution of ideas and characters within the writing process is a relationship with ‘best friends.’ Never a job! That relationship is a commitment, a responsibility and a promise to always do my best to get it right. When I tuck my characters in at the end of a day, I often linger for awhile—like best friends often do—before I turn off my computer. I am more an organic writer (what some call a pantser) than a plotter. I have a general idea about how I want the novel to begin and end but, outside of that, that’s it. Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean. One of the characters in my book, Janet Thompson, was originally slated to be a minor character but I enjoyed her character so much against that of Charlotte Bradley and later Edward Slocum I was compelled to write her in—a decision I never regretted. Maybe you’ll understand from this excerpt: Most days—and today wasn’t one of them—60-year-old Janet Thompson didn’t look a day older than 50. She had a tendency to be plump, but she kept it in check by her vigorous lifestyle. She preferred pants to skirts and boots, preferably work boots, to the conventional fashion that graced a woman’s foot. She liked hard liquor, preferably single-malt Irish whiskey, and she enjoyed poker with an occasional cigar. She never fit into the typical image of a teacher, but she liked that just fine, too—and so, as it turned out, did the community. Within a chapter, I often throw ‘curve balls’ in order to see what may happen. In one particular chapter, while being pursued, both Charlotte and Janet were...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Emotion – what keeps us involved!

Posted by on Oct 19, 2012 in On Writing

. Making an emotional connection with readers is critically important. If you don’t, they can easily stop reading. We are all familiar with emotions. They are what makes us have a great day or a bad one. But how does a writer use them to connect with readers? One of the most basic emotions is desire. If your characters are motivated, if they have desire, if only for a glass of water, then readers will feel connected. And the more they want something, the more interesting your story becomes, as the reader is left wondering what the character will do to achieve their goal. Desire is the basic emotion which keeps us involved in a story. If your main character wants something, you are obliged to put obstacles in their way too. Obstacles create conflict. Conflict will inspire an emotional response in your reader and keep them turning the pages. Some other ways to build an emotion connection with the reader are: * Creating embarrassment for a character. By making the reader feel that embarrassment you will build a connection with them. * Having a character abused in some way. Natural sympathy will be evoked if you do something terrible to a character we have come to know. * Placing opposing characters in the same situation. There’s a natural tension when opposing characters meet. Your readers will feel it if the opposing characters views have been shown to them. * Fear creates tension in the reader too. If we know the murderer is coming up the stairs, and the woman is having a shower, we fear the outcome. * Anticipation. If you foreshadow, occasionally, without explaining exactly what is going to happen, readers will anticipate something happening. * Surprise readers. Readers will enjoy your writing if something surprising happens. They won’t have any idea what is going to happen next. * Excitement is a powerful writing tool. You can move the plot fast, anticipate, and spell out what might happen, and then keep the reader waiting. All the above methods combined will produce excitement in your reader. One of the hardest parts for a writer is in creating authentic emotional scenes. The ability to understand how it feels to be in an emotional situation and to express that feeling in a genuine and new way, without resorting to cliche or to simply naming how characters feels, is vital to creating truly engaging writing. People look for writing that truly explains how it feels to be in each situation. And they can tell if you haven’t represented the reality in a way that’s believable. I wish you well with this, one of the hardest challenges of becoming a good writer in the 21st or any century. This post is the sixth on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed. The next post, the last post, covers the impact...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Pace – what keeps us reading!

Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in On Writing

. My last post was on theme, and it is critical, but even if you have a great theme you have to keep people reading. To do that your writing needs to have pace. So what is pace? Pace is movement. Pace is driving forward. Pace is action. If you spend too much time on exposition, back story and detail then you are going to lose pace. Getting the balance right is the tricky part with pace. Consider your genre and your style as you use the following techniques for adding pace to your manuscript. I once had the letters RUE above my laptop screen. They were put there to remind me to Resist the Urge to Explain. I used to explain who this person was in my stories, why that person did something and where the others were going later. Now I don’t. Explanations are boring. In the 21st century readers want action. They want novels that zip along. They don’t need to know what the characters had for breakfast. Another technique for keeping the pace moving is by having a real plot. Shakespeare did this. People get killed, people have fights, people make speeches to skulls. Something happens. You need to have a plot where something happens. I know there was a 20th century literary fashion for stories where nothing happens, but if you want a big readership something has to happen. The next technique is called in media res. This simply means starting in the middle of the action. Don’t start your story with a lot of exposition, backstory or filler about who your character is, where he came from or why she is there. Start with the gunshot that changes her life, or at the hospital where her mother is dying, or at the club where she sees her boyfriend dancing with her best friend. So we have three techniques for keeping the pace moving: RUE, plot and in media res. Stick to these and your story will have pace. This post is the fourth on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed. Here is a link to the previous post on theme, the most important part of writing IMO. And here is a link to the next post, on how to keep your reader turning the pages using emotion. Please leave feedback, make suggestions and engage. This series of posts needs you to get involved to make them fly. And please sign-up using the secure sign-up button above right to receive notifications in your inbox when post’s are released. If you would like to discuss this post or for me to review your writing and give brief feedback without charge (page 1 of your MS only please) contact me via the comments below or by email: lpobryan@gmail.com Here are some links to useful information for writers: socialmediaisdynamite.com for my blog on using social media...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: Theme – the most important part of writing!

Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in On Writing

Theme is, in my opinion, the most important part of writing. Theme is your argument, your central idea, your subject matter, your tune. For me it doesn’t matter how well you write, if your theme is boring, if your story is about an afternoon in an apartment, as your hero argues with himself about whether to make dinner for his wife, I’m just not that interested. Ok, I’ll read two pages, if your prose totally sparkles, but I’ll soon lose interest. Shiny, glistening literary baubles lack substance for me. I want a strong theme. But, you say, other people may be interested in that apartment story. And you’re right. Theme is personal. Which brings us to the central point of theme, it’s all about choice. What you love, I may hate! And theme is about genre too. Crime fiction, thrillers, erotic fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, they all embody theme at their core. And theme is related to commerciality as well. If you write and extend one of the popular modern genres listed above, you are simply more likely to get published. Why is such a cruel trick perpetrated on writers? Because publishing is a commercial enterprise. Publishers want to publish books that people are more likely to buy. And they have found out, over many years, that books written within the above themes, in the above genres, sell well and then some more. Literary fiction is almost impossible to get published now. Why? Because a work of literary fiction, exploring the world of your apartment on a rainy afternoon for instance, might sell 1,000 copies in a year, where a crime novel in which a body is found in that apartment on the opening page, could sell 20,000 or more in that year. Which would you publish? I am in awe of writers who are willing to spend decade after decade emulating the literary giants of their youth, writing the great novel of our generation, in the sure knowledge that it will never be published. Never ever. Knowing your writing will never be seen by anyone beyond a small circle, yet writing on year after year, takes an extra ordinary Buddha like selflessness. Bur for all those who retain a desire to get published, think long and hard about your theme. If you truly do write uncannily well, you may pull off that story about an afternoon in an apartment, but if you like genre fiction yourself, and would like to be published this decade, pick a popular theme, please! And extend the theme, make it sing, like that old canary never sang before! That, for me, is a suitable goal for a 21st century writer. This post is the third on a voyage exploring the world of getting your writing noticed. Here is a link to the previous post in this series, on grabbing your reader’s attention. And here is a...

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Get Your Writing Noticed: How to grab your reader’s attention!

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in On Writing

. A key aspect of writing for the 21st century, applicable to non fiction and fiction, is grabbing the reader’s attention. The number of distractions people have these days was covered in my last post. Here are some techniques for grabbing the reader up front: 1. Establish credibility. If you’re being published by a major publishing house this will help, but even if you’re not you can put your key credential up front. If you spent 20 years as a gardener and you’re writing a book on gardening I will want to know that. ‘Gardening from 20 years experience” is a good title in my opinion. So don’t be shy. Tell us why we should read your book. And tell us quickly. 2. For non fiction, make it practical. I am writing a guide to social media and making it practical is a key consideration. Two of the top five Sunday Times non fiction books this week are practical in some way. 3. Other favorite themes for non fiction, which grab readers are war, for the armchair fighters among us, violent crimes, to make us glad we’re safe, and cooking/homecraft. These areas make up most the remainder of the top non fiction slots. 4. Start in the middle of the action. This standard piece of advice for fiction writers, to cut out the long preamble, to go straight into the action, is also what non fiction readers want these days. In non fiction we want a quick way to move to the key areas of our interest. So let us get to the heart of it, fast. 5. Make a bold statement. In commercial fiction there is often a big scene right at the beginning. This could be a murder, a kidnapping, an interview or a disagreement. The purpose of the scene is to hook the reader in. Similarly, in non fiction you can make a bold statement. If you have something new to say offer it up early, then let us read the rest of your book to find out what’s next. Digital, whether through blogs, Twitter, Facebook or video/audio are all vitally important to success these days. Whatever you are writing, consider how you can build an online presence which will use the skills you have. The demand for online interaction is high and likely to get even higher. Publishing and being successful with just a printed book is becoming less and less likely. Other aspects of grabbing your reader’s attention include titles and keywords. Here is a post I wrote, on my social media blog, explaining key words in simple terms. Beyond key words is the whole area of titles. This is an art, which includes many elements difficult to distill. Taste, fashion and culture are all part of the choosing of titles. My suggestion is for you to consider the most popular current titles in your...

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