I have quite a few favourite authors that I
have managed to collect in my reading travels.
Some of them are really great at offering advice to the new writer. Sometimes this advice can be so simple and
yet so incredibly helpful. As writers we
are so close to the narrative that we often overlook things because they are in
our heads. Sounds funny, doesn’t
it? It’s true though. The lines for me are so definitely in
existence, in my head that is, that often I don’t see that I have failed to let
the reader know that bit of information by putting it on paper. It happens in many of my scenes despite how
hard I try to do it right.
Writing is very hard work. I am now working on the next novel in my
series and have so much to consider, not the least being the ability to
maintain the continuity of my world-building.
Rebecca Zanetti (don’t you just love that name, yes I know I have a
little bias towards all things Italian) says that writing a good scene is
pretty much the equivalent of baking a good lasagna. Now I am also Italian so you would think this
would come naturally? Sometimes it does
but layering is an art, an art that also encompasses world-building.
I have just sent off a submission and though I stressed
and checked everything a million times I found on my last frantic read through
I had still managed to mess up in a few places.
How did I know I had, or rather why did I look even somewhat unconsciously
through the manuscript? The answer to
that is I remembered reading this article by Rebecca and it played on my mind
so I dug it up and it came in very handy for some last minute adjustments. You
can have some exciting and interesting action mixed with some really clever dialogue
and still find something’s missing. What you may well ask? The feelings or
thoughts of the characters are missing, and without these the reader can’t
grasp through to the insight beyond the actions. Without this the connection is jarred, even
Basically what she says
is that we need to layer these feelings to round out the scene. For example if you are talking about a room
the reader doesn’t care so much about what the room looks like as much as the
reader cares about what the room means to the character…and what
he or she sees because what a character notices reveals more about the
character. This makes a lot of sense, right? The more a reader gains that insight into the
character the bigger the connection to the character and hence the book. Duh!
So simple and yet...!
Rebecca Zanetti also has some very good words
of wisdom when it comes to building our worlds, something vital when writing a
series. I am hoping my technology skills hold out here as I am hoping to link directly
to a guest blog she did a while ago.
My novels are contemporary and bridge two countries, countries I am very
familiar with but it has a host of characters who interact in different ways
and in different places. To keep it real
for my audience I do need to build a world that is believable and it isn’t easy. Again M/s Zanetti was most enlightening in this guest blog forKendall
Grey’s ‘Life is But a Dream” in late 2011 with the
following five mistakes not to make:
Making the world waaaaaaay too complex right off the bat. Keep in mind
your reader doesn’t live in your head. (Sure, lots of other people and voices
do…at least in mine.) The reader might not understand how the shifters relate
to the vampires who relate to the demons and the witches—not to mention the
humans. Start off with the important stuff and maybe hint at later information,
but don’t dump it all in there at the beginning.
2) Forgetting to
look ahead. This is a similar issue to number one above. If we give all of
the rules in book one, they may hold us back in book two. Try to leave yourself
some wiggle room—be able to create new rules in the next book. You’ll get new
ideas, and you don’t want to be held back.
3) Forgetting that
even the characters may be new to the world. I’ve read so many contest
entries where the normal human characters fail to react in a believable way.
For instance, if somehow I found myself transported to a new planet in a new
galaxy, I wouldn’t just think, “Wow. Pretty trees.” I’d think, “What the *!@$
just happened and where am I?” Our characters have to react just like we would
in such a situation.
4) Forgetting to
relate our new world with the world the reader lives in. Paranormal
creatures need humanistic flaws, dreams, hopes, and problems for the reader to
cheer for them. If we’re asking the reader to suspend reality (which we often
are, and that’s so much fun), we have to give the reader something to hold on
to. While most of us haven’t been on another planet, we all can relate to what
a moon or moons look like. While many of us don’t understand genetic research,
we can visualize what the laboratory looks like where the research is going on.
If your heroes are vampires…do they have family issues? Sure. Why not?
ourselves back. As a reader, I can tell when an author pulled back. Sure,
it’s hard putting those bizarre ideas we have out there. I mean, some of my
stuff is just different. In my Dark Protector Series, the male vampires in the
royal family actually have a brand on their hand that transfers during sex—only
with their mate. I mean, come on! A brand. No way would I have written that had
I stopped to think about my first grade teacher reading it. I pretend that
every scene I write will only be read by me. Then when it’s finished, I let my
editor worry about if I’ve gone too far. I haven’t yet…but I’m still hoping.
What I loved about
this is that Zanetti is a paranormal favourite of mine and yet her advice is
not genre limited and it is so simple to understand. Suspending reality occurs in the normal world too and if we
want our reader to believe us we have to consider what we say. I repeat writing is hard work but I also have to
say no feeling has come close to how I felt when I sent my novel off the other
night. It wasn’t the first time I had
submitted but it was the first time I had beta readers, some intense editing
and some ghastly accompanying forms which caused all manners of stress but are
oh so necessary, and so this time I felt really professional. Whatever the outcome the satisfaction of completing
something after so much hard work was phenomenal.
Please follow my link Barbarina
The land of Oz on the left hand side of my blog to Amazon and have a look
at some of Rebecca Zanetti’s books. They are
very entertaining and have never let me down in enjoyment yet. Happy Reading!