Monday, September 26, 2011

Developing a Writing Style

Image by Rupert Ganzer
When writers are first starting out, they often emulate the style of other authors whose work they admire. But in the course of most writing lives, at some point, a unique style is developed. Sometimes that style evolves over many years of writing, other times it essentially erupts from the writer. But in any case, it happens both by intent, and typically without a lot of conscious prodding by the writers themselves.

Developing your creative writing style is a lot like developing your personal sense of style in fashion; in other words, it should be reflective of who you are and what you intend to project. The specific style choices change over time, as people and artists change, but when they are most successful, they more closely align to the core of the writer.

This does not mean that the style has to be completely different than that of any other writers. It simply means it must ring true for you, the writer. As is the case with fashion, it is ok to experiment, and it is ok to “buy that dress you never wear.” The point is to make sure that what you wear – or write – fits you.

Writing style is expressed in numerous ways. Story topics or themes reveal style, as do types of characters, or particular settings. Genre also contributes to style. But there is also the style that is employed in the actual structure of the story. Some writers prefer to write first person in linear time. Other writers prefer to work with multiple perspectives or voices and move back and forth in time. Humor is another style characteristic that many writers like to work with, whether the humor is in irony with which the story is told, or resident in the nature of the characters within the story.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dealing with Writer's Block

Photo by Charles Jeffrey Danoff

Nearly every story writer has confronted a block when sitting down to start a story. While daunting, “writer’s block” can be overcome by using a few story starter tips.

First, understand that the block itself doesn’t mean anything. Writers who have the most difficulty overcoming the initial steps in getting a story down often think of the block as being indicative of either a problem with the story idea, or with them as a writer. Neither is the case. Creativity is work, and finding a solution to the block is just the first task in completing that work.

Next, know that there are some practical steps you can take to get the juices flowing. For example, if you have a story idea in mind that deals with a particular character, start out the story by focusing in as narrowly as you possibly can about that character. It could be her hairstyle, clothing, fingernails. The idea is simply to train your attention on something very specific, block out everything else, and write about that one thing. Write as much as you can about it; remember, the point is to get something started.

Another tactic that some writers use is to think about something that is not the story they have in mind, and write about that. They free themselves to write about whatever comes to mind, as opposed to what they are trying to bring to mind, and this allows them to move past the initial inertia of story writing. Every so often, these “throw away” stories actually become part of the original story, and they are often useful as a way to engage the creative mind, so it is rarely wasted time.

There are numbers of story starter tips that have been used successfully by writers for many years. The point of all of them is simply to find the thing that helps you get started. It doesn’t even have to be writing. Some writers are able to sit down and start their stories after listening to music, riding a bike, or walking the dog.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writing for Young Adults

The young adult market is a strong one, and it is easier to break into this area of the industry for many writers. Young adult fiction is quite similar to adult fiction, but there are a few things you must remember when creating a story for these readers.

Create a theme for your book. Young adult books typically center on themes applying to every day life. For example, the struggle to fit in, the need for acceptance, and sometimes a way to escape the daily grind of life. Put yourself in your reader's shoes – what were you worried about or interested in when you were a young adult? This is your clue to capturing their mind with a compelling story.

Don't go too deep. If you have selected a difficult subject, it is important to remember the young adult processes information in different ways than an older adult. Your character's motivations should not be overly complex. They need to mirror the age group of your audience and be believable.

Don't talk down to the reader. One of the biggest mistakes an author can make is not giving their reader enough credit. The best young adult books speak to the reader as a peer, not a plebian. Reading should be fun, especially for this age group.

Inspire your readers. The best young adult books make the reader feel good about self. They are able to learn something important, be inspired, or even just get away from the stress of being a young adult for a few hours. Remember this when you are writing your story and you will have a secret to success.

The best way to get a handle on writing for this genre is to read a variety of young adult books. Go to your local library and spend some time in this section. Look at the books other readers are checking out and see what your market is most interested in.

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