Saturday, March 20, 2021

Tension in My Stories

 How do I develop tension in my stories?

Everyone understands how emotions can cause tension. How a character feels is often how the reader begins to relate to the story. Certainly, relationships between characters can cause stress. Other circumstances factor in, too, like finances, toxic work or family environments, abuse, loss of a friend or loved one, failure at an assigned or desired achievement, all of which can lead to feelings of unworthiness, worthlessness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and more. Plus these feelings can develop unhealthy ways of coping with them. All these situations can create tension for the reader, so starting with characters with problems is one way I try to create tension.

A character's self-concept also plays into emotions. That character's self-image can include their mental image that affects their self-image, their status, strengths, and beliefs. If a character's self-image is confronted in a story, it will affect them mentally and emotionally, and situational or emotional tension will also be involved. 

Situational tension is a huge aspect of how the plot leads the character into the story's purpose. People react differently to each other which often leads to opposition, dislike, hostility, and even personal danger.

Environmental factors that give tension to a story include locational dangers and hazards both nature and human-made. The world has many locations that are dangerous such as trying to climb Mount Everest (or any other mountain) to even an avalanche while skiing in a resort, or being stranded far from any help. People have developed their own dangerous situations from work sites like buildings under construction, chemical plants, or even events like Texans suffered in February--unusually bad, freezing weather leading to no electricity, no heat, and broken water pipes all during an epidemic. 

So, developing tension isn't difficult but not repeating similar situations in other books sometimes becomes a problem.

Marci Baun 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Skye Taylor 

VictoriaChatham 

Connie Vines 

Diane Bator


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Where do I get my story ideas?

Brains are amazing organs. The mental part holds memories from experiences and learning and can create imaginative ideas even when the body is not awake. Putting the two together is where stories evolve. I didn't even know I wanted to write a story until this dream character kept showing up in my mind at night. In the end, she didn't even end up in my first novel for she inspired other stories before her own, but hers is the third one in the Aegis series. 

Once started, however, new ideas and characters began to develop. Now my initial story ideas develop when I'm walking, which I think frees my mind to wander, too. Once started, though, the ideas come while writing the story. 

At the beginning of my writing, I found I liked to write science fiction and fantasy, but have since expanded into trying historical fiction and I might, maybe, even write some contemporary romance. 

While writing fantasy and sci-fi I've found I like to delve into both historical and contemporary problems and issues as background in my stories. Why these problems in the future? As conditions change, what has happened in the past can under certain circumstances, always happen again.

Storytelling is an ancient art form that has provided listeners and readers not only entertainment but also lessons about life, and I hope that is what my fiction does while taking readers on (hopefully) imaginative journeys.

Visit these authors for more about where stories come from:

Skye Taylor 

Anne Stenhouse 

Beverley Bateman 

Connie Vines 

Diane Bator 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Fiona McGier 

Helena Fairfax 

Marci Baun 

Victoria Chatham 

Judith Copek 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Goals for 2021

Here we are in a new year, and, hopefully, one better than last year although the problems of last year continue to plague us. Still, everyone has to be hopeful to be vaccinated against Covid this year, and the United States has a new president, and perhaps the divisions dividing us will grow smaller or close (ideal, but doubtful). Many qualifiers line the previous sentences, but nothing in future time is guaranteed. As an introvert, being home so long this year hasn't bothered me, and I do go out and walk as often as the weather allows her in Michigan, which is supposed to help with isolation. Winter snows so far have not been as accumulative this year. I suspect Global Warming at work. Sadly for me, last year I didn't move ahead with any novel writing.

Things are, as always, changing, including writing. New programs like Grammarly have arrived. First off, I use Grammarly and find it very helpful, but like everything, its recommendations are not always correct. Users have to be careful that they decide whether the suggestion will work in their writing or not. It just presents options to consider. I must say, it does help me with spelling and finding comma errors. Even so, I have to be selective there, too.

Do I have goals for this year? Yes, the main one being able to concentrate on my writing. I've been rather scattered with many projects going on that have affected my writing. Plus my mind has stalled. I have ideas written down for quite a few books, I just need to find new and different characters and find out what difficulties they face.  Leonard from Constantine's Legacy is beginning to haunt my mind, telling me I need to work on the second volume. I also have a goal to post at least twice a month to my three blogs. Like writing novels, that is sometimes a difficult goal to achieve. 

Besides writing, I have many other projects in art and sewing I want to complete. Then there is the house. It needs painting and some renovations. As long as life goes on, work is at hand.

Check out these authors for their 2021 goals!

Skye Taylor

Victoria Chatham 

Beverley Bateman 

Connie Vines 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Anne Stenhouse  

Diane Bator 

Fiona McGier   

Judith Copek 

Marci Baun  


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Issues with Reading


I've read books since around age six. It is a necessary skill many people are still lacking, so I was very lucky. Now I need ever stronger bifocals to keep reading and I have some macular degeneration. It is a sad state, but I'll still keep reading for as long as I can. If my vision gives out, I can still listen to audiobooks.  Few people can spend all day, every day, or even only free time, reading. 

Reading makes better writers and good writing makes good reading. Author use techniques to ensnare the reader and keep them interested in the story or topic. They keep everything in a logical order with wording that smoothly leads the reader through all the pages to the conclusion, but glitches happen.
The following issues often put me off reading:

Nonfiction:
  • Go-on-forever articles that are full of rambling off-topic opinions.
  • Articles with many unfamiliar and undefined scientific words and acronyms.
  • Must-reads required for work or any other function.
  • Legalize language in any form or content, especially in small type with little space between lines. Done purposefully I'm sure so the reader isn't inclined to read the information. Is it impossible to put important legal information someone must know into an accessible, fast-reading format?
Fiction:
  • Reading stories with characters I dislike, which is usually because of their moral viewpoint. These are the main characters, not secondary or incidental ones. If they are lying cheats I have to know right away what caused this and what mission they are on. If the character has a major turnabout in viewpoint, attitude, or behavior, then okay. However, I sometimes doubt these changes are anything more than to get their own way, so the cause of the turnabout is important.
  • Snarky first-person voices using metaphors to make the reader laugh where I'm completely ignorant of the meaning. Am I behind on cultural jargon?
  • Stories with too many characters. Yes, I'm guilty of writing some, especially in series novels. Most, however, are minor characters. Usually, I keep the main characters to four, and secondary characters to under ten. One novel, Crewkin, had seven characters total until the last chapter.
  • Knowing which character is which bothers me when the names are so close in spelling or sound very similar. I am always mixing them up. This happens often in fantasy novels with Gaelic names. I read one with five Gaelic names beginning with A. I couldn't keep any of them straight but learned the valuable lesson of watching my own characters' names spelling and pronunciation. Isn't it funny how the words sound in our minds as we read?
  • And finally, stories starting with issues listed in the previous round-robin post, What draws you into a story.