Have you ever finished reading a book and come away with the sense that the author used some serious heroics to deliver their message through their story?
Perhaps you’ve come across a line written into a book that made you pause because you could never dream of saying something like that.
Or maybe you’re worried about what people will think of you because of the kind of story you desire to tell.
When writing your book, it’s easy to get bogged down by craft and stylistic advice, storytelling methods, and research on genre conventions, structural maps, reader trends, and more. But if you’re writing a book — especially if this is your first book — it may be best to put away the advice while you’re getting that first draft down on paper.
Because writing a book is an act of bravery. While this may seem obvious to non-fiction and memoir writers pouring out their knowledge and experience for curious readers, writing needs bravery even when that book is a work of fiction.
And part of your personal brand of bravery is your writing voice.
This week, Lee Purcell for BookBaby Blog shared how Finding Your Voice As A Writer means knowing what kind of writer you want to be, what you stand for, and what you value, and factors in uncomfortable truths like making money through your writing.
While finding your writing voice takes its own time, you can keep the process moving along by drawing on your deep passions and putting all that craft advice languishing in your noodler to work.
If you find yourself constantly flipping through books written by your favorite authors to see how they tackled an issue you’re having, it may be time to rely on your instincts to get the words on the page. And relying on your instincts, really getting into that animal brain of yours, is brave indeed. Because we often must uncover the soft-white underbellies of our experiences to get to the hearts inside.
And if you find yourself wondering how you’re going to continue learning and growing as a writer if you’re unable to lean on your master crutches (because constantly comparing oneself to others is a social crutch, let’s be honest with ourselves), you may find some much-needed words of wisdom in K. M. Weiland’s article, Lessons From 2023: 5 Reflections On ‘Flat Arc’ Periods, for Helping Writers Become Authors.
K.M. reviews exactly what a flat arc is, why it’s important, and how it helps you solidify where you are now — after learning and growing — so that you can be prepared for and receptive to change later. This “flat-arc period” is as important for our development as writers as it is for development of characters — and it’s not easy!
Can your characters be content with who they are after having leveled up in some way? Can they reflect? Be truly present in their new or changed skins?
If you’re worried about how to fit in a flat-arc period during a character’s change arc, keep in mind that even structural tools (e.g. the beat sheet from Save the Cat! Writes a Novel) ask you to allow your main character to exist in their status-quo environment wholly and fully before the inciting incident, not to mention the necessary reflection pauses as your main character experiences the changes that will ultimately help them grow.
And, of course, there can be no growth without failure. After all, if your story is about a person who experiences a string of really positive events that get better and better before the big Happily Ever After, your story may not connect with readers who are seeking something a little more down to earth, something a bit more authentic. Something more human.
What is more human than failure?
Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach asks How Can You Fail Better As A Writer? And her advice rings true especially for this edit-as-you-go writer. Daphne shares time-tested and important advice for maintaining creativity, avoiding research rabbit holes, and completing better drafts for a better editing experience later.
The best part of Daphne’s advice is that, if adopted and implemented early on, you can save yourself a whole bunch of time, energy, and frustration while you’re writing. (Ask me how I know.)
And who can’t use a little saving?
Speaking of saving things . . .
Think your story may be in need of a rescue? Check out Fresh Perspective Sells by Kathryn Craft for Writer Unboxed. This isn’t a choose-the-right-POV article. Rather, this article is about the way you look at the world and the mysteries that lie within in when you take the step to understand an experience or reality itself through a new lens.
If you’re wondering, yes; I did add Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt to my TBR after reading Kathryn’s article. And it made me think of stories I’ve read in the past, like The Lovely Bones and Dinotopia Lost, that employ unusual or otherworldly perspectives and drew me right in.
When you feel the hook like a caught fish, you know you’re reading a right-fit book for you. And your readers will know too.
And while you’re busy baiting hooks in your own writing for your future readers, don’t forget about the power and understanding a well-placed metaphor provides. Hugh Cook for Elizabeth Spann Craig shared The Magic Of Metaphor and reminds us how deeply embedded in our cultural understandings metaphors truly are.
They’re so powerful when used correctly that, Hugh reminds us, we automatically zero in on the figurative meaning of the words related to the situation at hand, rather than paying one iota of attention to the literal meaning.
While all metaphors may not work in all genres or stories, especially those in which the metaphor may be taken literally (like calling a pervy dude a ‘dog’ in a world where there are actual dog-hybrid people, for example), a good metaphor can allow your reader to skip right to the good stuff and get on with the story.
Speaking of skipping right to the good stuff, don’t underestimate the power of the final lines of a scene.
When I coach authors through developmental edits, there’s always a conversation about scene construction. Of course, there are required elements, like conflict, motivation, and goal. But a good scene should read like a short story in its own right. The opening hook and closing lines should complement each other in a specific way.
Here’s an example from chapter ten of Dinotopia Lost by Alan Dean Foster, which I mentioned above and is one of my favorite stories of all time:
Opening hook: “Although they did not know it, there was not one of the great meat-eaters lurking in the vicinity of their camp but half a dozen, and the crew of the Condor encountered them not in their nightmares but on the following morning, which was bright and filled with sunshine.”
Closing lines: “Many Confucians had settled in Dinotopia, and it was one of their number who had propounded this sound maxim: ‘When encountering a tyrannosaur in a bad mood, the wise man prefers strong legs to a facile voice.'”
And just as the closing lines of a scene must complement the opening hook of the scene, the closing lines of one scene must also relate in a specific way to the opening hook of the next scene. And, in the next scene of Dinotopia Lost, readers are following Keelk, a young struthiomimus, running from carnosaurs to find help to free her captured family.
The closing lines advance the scene.
C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive explains Why The Last Lines Of Your Scene Are Critical. And her post is full of examples of different types of scene endings, so you can figure out which kind of ending works best for your scene in progress. As a bonus, she offers a preview of her online course, Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers. The free module centers around the action-reaction storytelling sequence to build momentum and packs a lot in about 40 minutes.
Remember: writing is an act of bravery. So lead your readers from scene to scene with confidence, and allow your readers to build the reading momentum that will carry them all the way to the last page.
As always, there was a lot of advice I couldn’t share this week, so check the links below for added nuggets of awesome.
More Productivity Advice for the Week
- Video: 10 Tips For Writing A Book In 2024 by Stephen Aryan for Stephen Aryan
- Video: 2024: The Year Of Writing Smarter, Not Harder – My Approach by Brenden Pugh for Writing Quest
- 25+ Incredible Writers Retreats To Attend In 2024 by Farrah Daniel for The Write Life
- 34 Inspiring Writing Podcasts To Subscribe To Right Now by Brianna Bell for The Write Life
- Podcast: All About Writing Retreats With Lisa Shaughnessy by Rachel Wharton and Laura Granger for Kobo Writing Life
- Cultivating A Writing Life by David R. Slayton for Career Authors
- Cultivating Generosity In The Writing Community: 4 Mindset Shifts by Rachel Toalson for Writer Unboxed
- Do Less To Do More by Carla Hoch for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Does Getting Published Change How You Write Books? by Stephen Aryan for Stephen Aryan
- Finding Your Voice As A Writer by Lee Purcell for BookBaby Blog
- Gear Up For A Productive New Year by J. Alexander Greenwood for Writers In The Storm
- Get Unstuck With Your Writing By Walking It Out! by Rebecca J. Clark for The Write Conversation
- Video: Goals For Winning by Debra Eckerling for Writers On The Move
- How Can You Fail Better As A Writer? by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- How To Adapt To Change In 2024 by Lisa Norman for Writers In The Storm
- How To Work With Purpose by Ann Gomez for Publication Coach
- Video: Just One Thing For Authors: How To Simplify Your Writing Life by Trudi Jaye, Cheryl Phipps, Wendy Vella and Shar Barratt for Self Publishing Info with the SPA Girls
- Lessons From 2023: 5 Reflections On ‘Flat Arc’; Periods by K. M. Weiland for Helping Writers Become Authors
- Letting A Story Unfold Is Pure Joy by John Gilstrap for Killzoneblog.com
- Navigating The Author’s Journey: Overcoming Top 5 Challenges by Penny C. Sansevieri for Self Published Author
- Smart Goals Ideas For Creative Writers (+ 2 Smart Goals Examples) by Erin Duchesne for Make a Living Writing
- Video: Start Writing Your Book In 2024 / What I Wish I Did by Nicole Wilbur for Nicole Wilbur
- Starting A ‘Writing Habit’ Isn’t Easy by Ann Gordon for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- The Trapdoor On Top Of Your Skull by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
- The Writer’s Garden by Women Writers Women Books for Women Writers, Women’s Books
- Tools To Write More In 2024 by Rochelle Melander for Write Now Coach!
- What Is ‘Success’? by Julie Duffy for Writer Unboxed
- Who Is In Control Of What You Do? by Sue Coletta for Killzoneblog.com
- Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Making Rigid Goals by Robert Lee Brewer for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Writing Productivity In 2024: From Resolution To Habit With Chris Smith And Bec Evans by Martin Cavannagh for Reedsy
More Craft Advice for the Week
- How To Convert Exposition Into Ammunition by September C. Fawkes for September C. Fawkes
- The Magic Of Metaphor by Hugh Cook for Elizabeth Spann Craig
- Mastering Beats And Tags To Improve Your Dialogue by Brian Andrews for Career Authors
- Why The Last Lines Of Your Scene Are Critical by C. S. Lakin for Live Write Thrive
- What Do You Think Of Km Weiland’s Story Classifications? by Chris Winkle and Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Video: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Writing With Ai In 2024 by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Sex In Stories? What’s All The Fuss? by Beem Weeks for Story Empire
- Failure In Fiction by Sue Coletta for Writers Helping Writers
- Tips For Writers: How To Conduct An Interview by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- Writing: Learning Better Writing Techniques by Linda S. Clare for Linda S. Clare
- Character Dynamics In Fantasy Romance by Aurora Ascher for Writer’s Digest
- What Makes A Good Story? 10 Elements by Jordan Kantey for Now Novel
- Podcast: Love, Simon: How (Not) To Arc A Character by Melanie Hill and Valerie Francis for Story Nerd
- Video: Novelcrafter Vs Sudowrite: The Ultimate Showdown by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Video: Mistakes You Make When Worldbuilding Cultures And How To Fix Them by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- Video: Masterclass In Plotting Your Novel…Easy Steps For A Compelling Book And Unforgettable Characters by Shirley Jump for Write Better Fiction with Shirley Jump
- How To Generate Powerful Story Conflict by Angela Ackerman for Writers Helping Writers
- Worldbuilding: Crafting Magic by Whitney Carter for A Writer’s Path
- What Is A Writing Style Guide, And Which One Should You Use? by Dana Sitar for The Write Life
- Fresh Perspective Sells by Kathryn Craft for Writer Unboxed
- How Does The Storyteller Affect The Story? by Tiffany Yates Martin for FoxPrint Editorial
- Video: The Dialogue Doctor Will See You Now With Jeff Elkins by Rachael Herron for Rachael Herron YouTube channel
- Strengths And Weaknesses: Two Sides Of The Character Coin by Kelley J. P. Lindberg for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- Uncovering The Truth Behind “Write What You Know” by Miffie Seideman for Writers In The Storm
- Negative Tone Words — Ultimate Guide & 77 Examples by PJ McNulty for The Write Life
- How To Use Color In Your Writing by Anne Hawkinson for Florida Writers Association Blog
- Hemingway Editor: How To Use It To Improve Your Writing In 2024 by PJ McNulty for The Book Designer
- Ninety-Nine Words To Seek And Destroy by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- Video: 10 Worst Scene Writing Mistakes by Brandon McNulty for Writer Brandon McNulty
- Video: The Best Ai Tools For Fiction In 2024 by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- The Johari Window & Character Blind Spots by Kristen Lamb for Kristen Lamb
- Video: How To Write Flash Fiction by Shaelin Bishop for Reedsy
- Character Type & Trope Thesaurus: Dark Lord Or Lady by Becca Puglisi for Writers Helping Writers
- Podcast: Our Wordcraft Pet Peeves by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle and Wes Matlock for Mythcreants
- Five Moments Of Contrived Angst From Popular Stories by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Video: Breaking Bad: A Masterclass In Scene & Character Construction by Stavros Halvatzis for Get Writing
- Video: Worldbuilding Made Easy: Taking The First Step by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- 6 Questions To Transform A Boring Character In Your Novel Or Screenplay by Roz Morris for Nail Your Novel
- No, Your Characters Don’t Have To Change In Your Novel Or Screenplay – Here’s Why by Lucy V Hay for Bang2write
- Video: 6 Steps To Write Brilliant Fantasy Scenes by Jed Herne for Jed Herne
More Business Advice for the Week
- Podcast: The Next Strategic Step On Your Author Journey And Author Nation With Joe Solari by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- Ghostwriting 101: What You Need To Know by Jackie Pearce for Make a Living Writing
- Author Branding For 2024 With Anna Caig by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Podcast: Planning For A Creative 2024 And Trends For Independent Authors by Orna Ross And Joanna Penn for Self Publishing Advice
- Setting Up An Indie Author Festival: Alli Ultimate Guide by Debbie Young for Self Publishing Advice
- The Law Of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy In Book Marketing by Laurence O’Bryan for #PublishingReinvented
- “Where Should I Sell My Book?” What Every Indie Author Needs To Know by Sandra Beckwith for Build Book Buzz
- 10 Tips For Creating A Successful Author Website by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- Podcasting On A Budget by Jaimi Ryan for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Authors – Are You Making Affiliate Income Selling Books Yet? by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: 2024 Audiobook Creation Exchange (Acx) Step-By-Step Upload Tutorial | Publish Audiobooks On Audible by M.K. Williams for M.K. Williams
- Podcast: ‘Good Enough’ Versus Fit: Editor Erica Finkel On Improving Your Odds Of Yes by Julie Kingsley and Jessica Sinsheimer for Manuscript Academy
- Video: Stacking Promos For Maximum Launch Impact by S.D. Huston for S.D. Huston
- Video: 25 Publishing Lessons Learned The Hard Way by Bethany Atazadeh for Bethany Atazadeh – YA Fantasy Author
- To Get On Podcasts, Create A Media Kit by Michelle Glogovac for Jane Friedman
- Overdrive Reports 662 Million Digital Borrows From Libraries In 2023 by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- 4 Tips From The Query Trenches by Sue Bradford Edwards for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- Writing Those Pesky Ratings, Reviews, And Blurbs Without Stress by Elizabeth Sims for Writer’s Digest
- Book Design Basics: A Primer In Good Book Layout Design by Andrea Reider for The Book Designer
- Engineer Success With A Good Marketing Strategy by Boni Wagner-Stafford for The Book Designer
- Book Cover Redesign: When And How To Revamp Your Design by Elena Rapovets for The Book Designer
- Book Trailers: How To Make Them In 6 Easy Steps by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- Video: Book Marketing Magic – Sell Books With Other Peoples Audiences by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Avoid Random Acts Of Content by Stephanie Chandler for Jane Friedman
- Podcast: A Record Year For Digital Lending In Libraries by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- How To Write A Book Title That Gets Attention by Michael Gallant for BookBaby Blog
- Tossing Outdated Marketing Strategies And Refocusing In 2024 by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- 9 Steps To Self Publishing On Amazon: A Comprehensive Guide For 2024 by PJ McNulty for The Book Designer
- Publishing A Book In 2024: 19 Must-Know Tips And Tricks by Omer Redden for The Book Designer
- How To Find Book Reviewers: 5 Actionable Methods And How To Reach Out by Althea Storm for The Book Designer
- Video: Why You Should Still Publish Your Book On Amazon Despite All The Challenges by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: 2024 Publishing Predictions by Mark Coker, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, Dale Roberts, and Orna Ross for Draft2Digital
- Video: Get More Book Sales On KDP (Amazon) by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Video: How To Finish Writing A Book Series? Market A Book 3? Keep Readers Invested? Build Hype? Structure? by Bethany Atazadeh for Bethany Atazadeh – YA Fantasy Author
- Video: A Retention Masterclass For Your Subscription by Michael Evans for Subscriptions for Authors
- Book Marketing: 20 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Target Audience by theryanlanz for A Writer’s Path
- Five Ways To Get And Keep Media Attention After Your Book Launch by Paula Rizzo for Writer’s Digest
- Don’t Settle For Minimum Attention by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- Video: Hire The Perfect Editor: 6 Critical Questions To Save Money And Time by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Is Self-Publishing A Good Choice For Authors In 2024? by Anne R. Allen for Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris
- Video: Marketing Your Book: How To Create A Strategy To Boost Sales by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Video: This Is How To Grow Your Audience In 2024 by Shelby Leigh for Marketing by Shelby
- Video: Publishing & Marketing Tips For Subscriptions With Esther Andújar by S.D. Huston for S.D. Huston
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Edited by Melody Friedenthal