Monday Motivation


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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

5 Novel Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Whatever people may tell you, there is no universal and clear cut way to write. Sure, we can look up writing tips and some of them might even be useful (at least I hope so, otherwise I’ve wasted a lot of time writing this blog!) but when push comes to shove, writing is an art form and can’t be easily reduced to a rule book. That being said, there are a few mistakes which are more or less nearly always unacceptable most of the time; mistakes which will almost inevitably ruin your book every time, no matter who you are or what you’re writing. I have noted a few such writing boo-boos here for your perusal and, per chance, instruction.

Having Little or No Conflict

No matter what your genre or who your audience are, all stories need at least one central conflict. That is to say, there has to be a problem for your protagonist to face. No matter how intricately you have crafted your world and your characters, no one will be interested in reading about their day to day lives where nothing much happens. Could you imagine reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy if Frodo had just been kicking it in the Shire doing everyday Hobbit things?

Of course not. You wouldn’t make it past the first chapter. That story, despite its all its detail, only works because Frodo is presented with a problem in the first couple of chapters which he then spends the next three books trying to resolve. The story ends only the conflict has been overcome.

Writing a Deceptive Hook

We all know that the first few lines of your novel are critical. After all, a boring hook will make your audience put the book down without giving it a chance, right? Absolutely. No arguments there.

However, some authors think this means they can have a heart-pumping, gun’s-blazing, rip-roaring thrill ride of a hook only to pull the rug out from under the reader’s feet in the next scene by revealing that it was all just a dream.

Don’t do it. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it will make your reader hurl your book across the room for wasting their time.

Propping Up Weak Verbs with Adverbs

Adverbs are pretty controversial among the writing community. Some people take a very hard approach to them, insisting that there should be absolutely no adverbs in your story whatsoever. Others have a more relaxed approach.

Me? I’m not going to tell you adverbs are the devil incarnate, but I will ask you to consider this: do you truly need an adverb and if so, why? The chances are if do need an adverb, it’s to prop up a weak verb. That is something to avoid. A stronger verb will make your narrative flow better and will communicate your meaning in a way which shows, rather than tells.

Info-dumping

Ah yes, I know it can be tempting to devote an entire chapter to detailed back stories of your main characters and explain at length how the various fantastic elements within your world work. After all, you’re proud of your world and the people you have populated it with, as well you should be.

However large portions of explanatory material are boring, boring, boring and they drag the pace of your story down to an unbearably slow crawl. Don’t do it.

Quitting

I know what you’re thinking: ‘this is a terrible story, I just need to start from scratch with a new, better idea.’

You might even think you’ve come up with a better idea, one which is sure to succeed where your current one failed.

But you’re wrong. Ideas are a penny a dozen. It’s more likely there’s a flaw in your execution and if that’s the case, you’ll just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

5 Excellent Blog Posts: Writing Tips

It’s that time again when I don’t get my usual post finished on time take a humble bow into the shadows and give centre stage to some of the best writing blog posts I’ve read in recent weeks.

This time, they all share a single unifying theme: they all contain great tips and advice for writers. As ever, I have listed these in no particular order. So without further ado:

‘Tracking Character Motivations with a Free Spreadsheet’ by Shannon A Thompson

‘Time to Write, Don’t Procrastinate’ by Lorraine Ambers

‘iWriterly Video: How to Improve Your Writing: 11 Novel Writing Tips for Newbies’ by Meg LaTorre

‘Tips & Advice: Readers & Authors – Write Silly Nothings Often (Guest Post by Didi Oviatt)’ by Didi Oviatt

‘Evolution of a historical novel – writing tip’ by Jody Mabry


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Killing Your Darlings

I was deep in the throes of outlining my novel when I hit a bit of a wall. And I don’t just mean a little wall. I mean a big wall. The kind of wall that made me want to give up on the whole novel and start again from scratch. Try as I might, I just couldn’t come up with a way to end my story that made any sense and drew the main conflict to a satisfying conclusion. Then I remembered one of my golden rules:

Quitting is not an option.

So after a few painful days of working hard but accomplishing very little, I decided to make a pretty fundamental change in my plot. I had originally planned to kill a particular character in exchange for the life of another. This was to happen right at the end of part two of my novel, to act as a catalyst for everything that happened in part three. I’ve since changed it however, so now that character survives the whole novel and the other character dies instead, under altogether less unusual circumstances.

Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart.

Stephen King

I really didn’t want to make this change. I was so proud of the original death I had written. It was shocking (yet foreshadowed), heartrending and gave my antagonist that final push he needed to become utterly consumed by evil. Alas, it also completely undermined my protagonist’s goal, essentially resolving her main conflict prematurely and leaving her with sod all to do.

I tried everything to keep that original death scene but I just couldn’t. That beautiful, surprising, frankly marvellous chapter was undermining everything else. It had to go.

You’ll often hear authors quoting William Faulkner or Stephen King urging us to ‘kill our darlings,’ and this is exactly what they mean. A clever turn of phrase, a heartrending scene or even a beautifully crafted but ultimately superfluous character can undermine an entire novel. It doesn’t matter how good it is. It doesn’t matter how in love with it you are. It has to go, no matter how much it hurts. Here’s a few things to remember if you’re finding it hard to let go:

You’re Making a Cake, Not a Salad

Look at a salad and what will you see? Lots of vegetables, which you can easily distinguish between and pick out. If you don’t fancy the tomatoes, you can just pick them out, because a salad is really just a collection of vegetables sitting next to each other. But you can’t get eggs and milk out of a cake. It has ceased to be a collection of discrete ingredients and has become a single entity.

So too, a story is not a collection of discrete ideas, characters, story beats, sentences and chapters. It is one whole creation, so try to focus on the big picture whenever you write and create a beautiful story, rather than a collection of beautiful phrases.

Remember, pork crackling is delicious but it still doesn’t belong in a Victoria Sponge.

You Can Always Recycle

It’s not just paper and plastic that can be recycled. Ideas can also be recycled too. If you really do believe that your darling is too beautiful to die (and you should run that past a dispassionate third party just to be sure) despite the fact it’s ruining your entire story, save it somewhere separate to be used again as needed. You may find you can use it (or at least, draw inspiration from it) in future projects. That useless sidekick could perhaps get a story of her own. That clever bit of wordplay could be placed somewhere else.

Even if it can’t be reused, at least your stroke of ‘genius’ won’t perish forever.

Your Darling Probably Isn’t as Good as You Think

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but it’s true. In my experience, the things I’ve created which have jazzed me the most have often left my audiences the most underwhelmed (and the reverse is often true as well). Try to look at your darling dispassionately and ask yourself if it really, truly is too beautiful to die.

Then kill it anyway. Kill it now before it kills your story.

Oh and don’t forget: you created genius once before. You can do it again.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: 50 Character Motives For Your Story

Originally published 18/08/2019

If you’ve been looking around my blog for any length of time, you’ll have noticed that I often bang on about giving characters strong motives. That’s because it is very important to do so. Motives are what get your character up in the morning and form the basis for all the specific things your character is trying to achieve. For this reason, they are essential for making your audience understand and care about your character’s goals.

Often your character’s motive will be a deep seated hunger, or longing, which your character hopes to satiate by achieving their goals. Alternatively, they may be driven by some chronic fear, past trauma or intense feelings towards another person or persons. Some motives will have obviously dark overtones, while others may appear more positive or neutral. Don’t let that restrict you though. ‘Positive’ motives can still be turned to darkness in the hands of a well written bad guy and the reverse is also true. For instance, a man motivated by love for his family might murder his teenage daughter’s boyfriend. That’s a positive motive gone bad.

I’ve listed a few possible character motives in the image below and I would encourage you to play around with different ways of interpreting and applying them. Most motives (including those not on this list) can be used in a variety of ways, giving you an almost limitless pool of material from which to create character after character, and therefore, story after story.

Have you tried experimenting with any of these motives? What gets your characters out of bed in the morning? Share your own insights and experiences in the comments below!


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: