6 Writing Lessons From A Series Reader

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Earlier this month, I read a young adult dystopian series. In the end, I felt cheated and foolish. I kept wondering why an author would want to do that to her readers and I can’t come up with an answer. I don’t think she did it on purpose. However, I did realize there were some lessons for me to learn as a writer.

Make each voice distinct

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The first two novels of the series were told by one first person narrator, but the last book had two first person narrators. I couldn’t tell whose point of view I was reading in the last book because the characters spoke the same way. I need to make sure I discover my characters as deeply as possible so that I can switch back and forth between multiple voices and/or POVs without confusing myself or my readers.

Write characters that are relatable

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The main characters and their friends were easy to understand and care about. That’s why I kept reading. I wanted to see their development. Some of the antagonists were a little more difficult to understand because they lacked background. I struggle with this as a writer. How much do I want readers to understand where the antagonist is coming from? How much do I want them to empathize with him? My way around this is to make sure he acts destructively and hurts the protagonist.

Check the facts

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In the information age, we all know a lot, but we can’t all be experts. So use that search button and double check the facts, especially if the plot hinges on those facts. I don’t want to start ranting about the major science blunders in the series, so I’ll move on to the lesson that can be extrapolated from this lesson.

Build a writing team

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Build a writing team with a critic partner, a developmental editor, a proofreader, and a beta reader! Each of these roles should probably be held by a different person and each person should probably have a different background. So, hopefully, one of them will notice if my plot falls apart because it’s illogical, unsupported, the absolute opposite of reality, etc.

Take worldbuilding seriously

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I majored in Comparative Religions and noticed something interesting about creation stories. They answer the questions of how the world was created, where it was created, who created it, what came before it. They also reveal the view and philosophy that the folks living in a shared religious and cultural tradition believe. Rarely, did they leave me with a question. Approaching worldbuilding as if it were a sacred revelation might be the way to avoid leaving readers with unanswered questions about the setting and the worldview that the characters are operating within.

Each book in a series needs to stand alone

A series can be linked by characters with each book being more like an episode within the series such as Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series. Or it can be linked by an overarching plot like Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles. The Saxon Chronicles span ten novels, each with a different plot, and the overarching plot begins in the first novel and always becomes a secondary priority until the final novel.

I’m going to keep these things in mind because the last thing I want to do is upset my readers with poorly written novels.

What is your favorite series? What do you like about it most? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

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Allergic

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m allergic to dust, pollen, penicillin, and other substances. An allergy is an abnormal reaction to an allergen. But what if it were more than physical?

What if an allergy could be applied to the mind?

Think about it… Are you a fairly stable individual until you go to your friend’s house for a BBQ and HE is there. You know HE angers you and you try not to let HIM get to you, but, just the thought of HIM, let alone HIS presence, hits your aggression center and you want to call HIM names and tear HIS face off.

Or you are having the best day until THAT co-worker shows up. You know THE ONE I’m talking about. SHE bosses everyone around. Since you’re a woman, SHE delivers a backhanded compliment about your work with a smile. Meanwhile, SHE bats HER eyelashes at your male co-worker, touches his arm, and giggles at his words. You’re not upset with him because SHE came over to educate him as SHE did you. If only knocking HER off her stilettos by pulling HER by the hair weren’t considered harassment and grounds for dismissal.

Maybe it’s just me

It’s not just me. We all have our triggers. People, places and things. Our impulses stem from our reptilian brain. It knows how to fight, fly or freeze. If we let our emotions take over when triggered, we’d be having a mental allergic reaction. Learning what triggers us, accepting that triggers are inevitable, and finding ways to deal with those triggers are the antihistamine medication.

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So what do we do?

One of my tricks is reminding myself that we are all human. That maybe there’s someone in my life that I piss off as much as HE or SHE ticks me off. So just let it go. Easier said than done, but definitely doable.

So how do you handle your triggers? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.
Allergic

New Release For Your Reading Day

Chapters
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When I was a university student, I celebrated the end of the semester with a reading day. After my last exam, I would walk to Chapters Bookstore (now a Victoria’s Secret) on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Stanley streets, ride the escalator to the second floor and browse the rows of romance and fiction novels.

It could take time to find the right book. I looked for one which started with a sentence capable of catapulting me from the floor of the bookstore into the story. And, my intuition had to agree to the selection. It sought the book that would captivate, engage and relax. I found many enjoyable books this way and I write hoping readers will find my stories as enjoyable.

Secrets - eBook smallAs I wrote Secrets, the story flowed onto the pages. The characters lived the joys and sorrows while I recorded the events and empathized with them. Even the editing went smoothly. I had a special connection to this story.

Based on comments from beta readers and Kirkus Reviews, I believe you’ll feel this connection when you read it. It’s now available as an e-book on Amazon. To find out more, click the cover.

How do you choose your reading day book? I’d love you hear from you. Leave me a comment.

 

 

 

 

Ready To Publish the Next Novel

The last modified date on my manuscript Stay was 2014. I was shocked when I saw that today. Three years have passed since the manuscript was professionally edited. Since then, I struggled with insecurities and also with illness. I sold my condo and moved. I switched jobs twice. I became a certified fitness instructor. I went back to university for a few writing classes. I made a small effort to find an agent. I wrote another novel and started a fourth and decided on the plot for a fifth. But mostly, I grew up.

During these three years, I would get upset thinking about how Stay sat on my computer ready for publishing, then I’d forget about it for while, and start the cycle all over again. But I’ve changed. And in the last few months, I understood that I’d get to publishing it when I was ready. I guess I’m ready now because I’ve been reading Joanna Penn’s blog, Creative Penn and downloaded one of her books. If you’ve never read her blog, she’s definitely worth the read. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also organized myself based on her suggestions.

A couple of summer’s ago, I read a series by Erin McCarthy called True Believers. I was intrigued by some of the similarities between our stories. The friendships, the boyfriends, the parents and the one word titles. Later, I read a post about series and titling a series around a theme. It’s nothing new or earth moving but it did get me thinking about how to unify the Masks series. I still don’t have a title for the series but I did change Stay to Secrets. A major theme throughout the series is the hidden, unspoken parts of life and finding the courage to confront them.

I looked up some of the cover designer recommendations from Joanna Penn and chose a company. Last night, I went to the bookstore and found an 18 year old girl (Just the perfect age!) and asked which types of book covers she preferred. She liked the drawn covers, not the pictures. Unfortunately, she was the only girl there. One is not exactly a recommended sample size so I’ll have to keep up the survey. I’ve noticed that most of the young adult book covers either picture people or are drawn people or scenes. There are very few with only a title. So, I’m thinking as long as it’s not a title on a coloured background I can’t go wrong.

During the week, I wrote the back cover blurb. Today, I priced out professional reviews and found a proofreader.

So maybe, I’m ready to publish another novel, huh?

What bloggers and writers are your mentors? Leave me a comment. I love to hear from you.