How??!!

How do you make your writing unputdownable?
How do you make readers fall in love with your characters or the world they are in?
How do you make the reader want to spend time with the story you have written?
In short, how do you make Readers want to read your books?

As a writer, one of the things that I do is read. I read Non Fiction for interest, research and inspiration. I read The Internet (which is an interesting mix of Fiction and Non fiction) for the same reason.
When I read fiction, it’s for interest & escape (genres in which I have no intention of writing in), to learn how other people write and finally, to try and piece together the answers to the questions that I started with.

I’ve read all sorts of books, all different genres.

The truly great writers all have one thing in common. They have (whether they know it or not) figured out those answers and are making use of them.

When I read a book where the writer has used these answers, I am sucked so deeply into the story that it’s an effort to get out of it. I have to be yanked out by the hair to make dinner or help PW go to the bathroom or go shopping…

I’d love to be able to make my own writing that compelling.
There are times when I read something that I have written and I think I might have it… and usually it all falls apart on me moments later.
So how do I do it?

Well I started by watching the work of some of the best writers in the business… yes, that’s right, I said watching.

When was the last time that you watched an animation? I’m not talking the nonsensical stuff that they put out for the littlest of children; I’m talking properly developed, well thought out animated movies.
Studio Ghibli, Square Enix, Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks – there are many others, but these are the biggest and they have the best writers that they can afford working with their teams.

It’s no secret that I’d love to work with any of them… if I ever had the opportunity.

The films that make billions in box office takings aren’t just because of the quality of the animation or the design of the characters and environments – it’s because the story sucks you into the film itself and you’re not just watching anymore, you’re living it through the eyes of the characters. A lot of that comes from the writing – the compelling stories and the inability to look away because even if it’s cringeworthy or a little scary, you watch from behind your hands… you have to because you want to know what is about to happen.

And when they’re finished, you feel satisfied but a little sad because you’ve had to leave the world.

I love animation because it gives me an escape that live action films rarely manage. The ones that we have bought on Blu Ray are the best ones, they’re ones that will suck me in and keep me watching. They’re the ones that give me that satisfied but sad feeling.
There are live action films that do it; oddly, they’re ones like the Marvel Comic Universe films, Star Wars films, the Potter Universe. Some of the DC Universe films have done it; the Michael Keaton Batman’s and the first two Christian Bale Batman’s, and I think that Wonder Woman might be another (I obviously haven’t seen it yet, but it looks like it might work!)

Obviously films (whether animated or not) are a tricky subject; so many things influence their success, so it clearly isn’t “just” the writing that makes them great. But great writing will produce at worst an “okay” film; at best it produces a “superb” film. The writing has to be there for the actors, directors, producers etc to work with.

So how do books and movies intersect?

Obviously they both need writers, but they also need writers who know their craft.
They need writers who know how to create a believable world, how to design a character that isn’t two dimensional and who can make the reader /watcher connect with the character somehow.
They need a story that draws the reader/watcher into the world and keeps them there with action that ebbs and flows, until the story has concluded and they can sit back and wish they were still in that world.

And how do you get to be that kind of writer? Let’s look at my original questions and answer them one at a time:

1) How do you make your writing unputdownable?
You craft your story carefully and make it draw the reader into your carefully designed world so that they don’t want to leave it.

2) How do you make readers fall in love with your characters or the world they are in?
See above… plus, world design and character design is a whole different blog post… I’ll do that another time.

3) How do you make the reader want to spend time with the story you have written?
I believe I have actually answered this – were you reading carefully though?
*peers at blog reader and frowns thoughtfully*

4) How do you make Readers want to read your books?
See #1…
*winks*

And the Question I finished the post with?

5) How do you get to be that kind of writer?
If you were reading carefully, you’ll see that I answered it… before I posed it. It’s what I have been doing for most of my life and always go back to when I am having a problem with my own writing…

I read. I watch. I study, I practise, I edit.

In Fiction; I read writers who have inspired me, I read writers that are considered classics, I read writers (and stories) that have been around for eons, I read brand new, barely discovered writers.
In Non-Fiction; I read subjects that interest me. I read subjects that are uncomfortable for me, I read new subjects that I haven’t tried, I read subjects that are old friends.

In TV; I watch Documentaries, I watch TV serials of all sorts of genres, I watch Kids TV, I watch Adults TV (yes, porn too), I watch Foreign Language TV (by subtitles).
In Movies; I watch Small Screen, Big Budget, Foreign Language, Animated, Live Action, Independent.

I study Writing; I read How To books, I take modules from Free Online Course Sites, I read the books that the Big Writers have written about how THEY got into writing.

I Practise Writing; I try writing Poetry (Different styles and Meter), I try writing Flash stories (there are different word lengths), I write different Genres (there are so many I can’t list them all), I write different lengths of story (Flash, Short, Long, Novelette, Novella, Novel, Epic), I write for different ages (Child, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult), I write for different audiences, I write inside and outside my comfort zone.

I edit… this one is the hardest of all.

I do a basic grammar and spelling edit, then I get people I trust to read what I have written and they comment on it (these are Alpha Readers). Then I re-read it and consider their suggestions as I go along. I adjust it if I agree, discuss it if I don’t – the discussions always help me to understand what they see – and change it if I can see what they are getting at and agree with them.

Then I get a second round of Reading done (these are the Beta readers) not always by the same people. If they throw up anything that needs adjusting, I re-read and adjust if I agree… if it’s something I didn’t agree with the first time, I take a long careful look at it.

Then I get someone to do a General Line Edit for Typos and plot holes etc. This is always someone who hasn’t seen it before and has Editing Experience. Sometimes they may have been an Alpha/ Beta Reader as well, but they have to have Editing Experience as well.

And no, not every Writer is a good Editor – I’m a prime example of that!

Once it’s Edited, then (and only then) I consider it ready to be published. And bear in mind that until I think it’s ready to be published, it may go back for Beta Reading or Editing again.

That’s how you get to be a Writer.

To be a Great Writer, someone who can write a Book or Movie that will draw the Reader / Watcher in and hold them there until they’ve finished; someone who can leave them with that “Satisfied but Sad” feeling; someone who can bring them back for more of their work, time and again?

That takes Talent.
Do I have Talent?
*shrugs*
I don’t know.

I know “some” people have enjoyed my work because they have told me so personally or they have written reviews on my books that have shown they’ve read them and considered it good enough to leave a comment about it. That has been enough to make me want to keep me writing and publishing.
But is that Talent?
You’d have to ask them or read my books to answer that for yourself; because as it is with every Artform, Art is subjective and personal.

You have to make your own mind up.

Ancient History, Cake and Time Travel

I sometimes forget that there was once a world without the technological miracle / horror that is the Internet and Computers.  I work with it every day and it sucks up large tracts of my time…

…hmm, maybe that’s what The Internet lives on,  the time that it sucks out of its users…

…there might be a story there; I bagsie it!…

Ahem.

Anyhoo… I lived through the era when Computing was just starting out. My Dad bought a BBC computer (before you ask, he had an A & a B at the same time) when I was at Primary School and I was quickly hooked on being able to type on the keyboard  and see the letters appear on the screen. I even borrowed one of my Dad’s Computer Magazines and wrote a simple programme.
You might think that would have sent me down the programming route, but I found that I was more interested in what a computer could do for me rather than what I could do with the computer.

It wasn’t until I was doing my GCSE’s that I started using a Word Processor on a computer; up until then, the only subject that used computers was Maths and that was usually to play with a LOGO Turtle and draw geometric shapes. That was when the lightbulb went on in my mind for writing and I spent two years worth of lunchtimes writing a nonsense play with my friends.

I didn’t start this blog until 2009… in fact my very first post was an explanation of the various types of jargon that I used in my posts.

Highly enlightening…
…Sarcasm intended… why haven’t they come up with a sarcasm font yet? They can do almost anything else…

2009. I’ve been blogging  for seven years and writing seriously (for publication) for at least five of those. O’course, I’ve been writing for a lot long than that, but it wasn’t until I started teaching that I found I needed another outlet for my emotions and writing was it.

In that time I’ve eaten a lot of Cake… *looks ruefully at her figure*… so joining Cake & Quill seemed a logical step. I’ve decided that I’ll write a story for another one of their anthologies… this time the theme is: CAKE

Easy, huh? All I have to do is write a short story involving Cake somewhere… sadly, Puff has decided to go on holiday again, so actually writing it is causing me some trouble.

The latest Cake & Quill Anthology, Hearts and Other Dead Thingshas received a great review from Author/Blogger  Suzanna Burke – you can find it on Amazon and on her Blog; Sooz Says StuffRemember, every book sold means that the profit from the book goes to the charity we are supporting.

I can’t seem to keep my mind on one thing at the moment, so in an effort to keep myself actually writing something, I’ve been working on “Teacups and Time Travel”… and it’s sunday… so let’s have a Sneak Peek Sunday!

Teacups & Time Travel

cover

 

Elizabeth laid in her bed, staring up at the ceiling. In the parlour, Thirrin had curled up on the couch and Elizabeth could hear him snoring despite the thick blanket she’d laid over him.

Why would they send him to talk to me? If he’s spotted and captured, he’ll end up dead on some alchemists table, being taken apart for ingredients. She shivered. Not for the first time she wondered why she’d settled here in the first place. Stemsin is Zonlasin without the ethics or advanced technology.

The thought of the other Earth Analogues out in the Hall of Worlds made her heart flutter. No. she took a deep breath and quelled the sense of anticipation that had filled her the moment the Faerie Dragon had appeared. I gave all that up. I gave up being that person when the Council stopped me from saving them. One breath wasn’t enough to calm her, so she settled into the meditation pattern that she’d learned in Quargard, one deep breath held for ten seconds before letting it out slowly. That breath was followed by another, and by the time she’d released the third, she’d dropped into sleep.

Then she began dreaming…

A knock at the library door heralded the entry of Mr Booth. “The Chief Constable begs a moment of your time Lady Beadington-Ritterson.” Uncharacteristically, he didn’t come all the way through the door, merely pushed his head and shoulders through the gap.

Elizabeth stared at him. The Chief Constable… Lady… for me to be called that… no, surely not… it has to be something else

Mrs Butcher stood up and moved behind her. Elizabeth could feel the warmth of the housekeeper’s body behind her suddenly chilled flesh. She drew strength from Mrs Butcher’s presence and nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

The butler appeared to understand and turned away.

Elizabeth heard him murmur to someone outside, then, as he opened the door fully and ushered the Chief Constable through, she also heard the patter of running feet. Two directions? I can understand sending a maid to the kitchens to make refreshments, but where would the other one be going?

The figure of the Chief Constable, resplendent in his dark blue uniform, silver epaulettes and buttons gleaming, wiped the thought out of her head. He swept into the room, tall blue hat held in white gloved hands and strode towards her. Booth took the top hat as the chief constable came to a halt in front of her.

Out of habit, Elizabeth rose and greeted him, hand held out to shake his. He took it, sank to one knee in front of her and looked up into her eyes. “I have some terrible news, Lady Beadington-Ritterson, I would suggest that you sit down.”

She raised him to his feet and as he stepped back releasing her hand, sank back onto her seat as gracefully as she could manage with suddenly trembling knees. He swallowed.

“I have the unwanted and tragic duty to inform you that Lord Victor Beadington, William Beadington-Ritterson and Hamish Beadington-Ritterson perished in the village square of Yeracha an hour ago.”

Elizabeth’s tongue felt huge and numb as the fear that had been lodged at the back of her mind ever since the news of her tutor’s death made itself known. She worked her jaw for a moment, until her tongue felt normal again, swallowed and managed. “How?”

The Chief Constable looked behind himself at a nearby chair. “Do you mind awfully, if I sit, down, my Lady? My limbs have no strength in them.”

She nodded. “Of course.”

He sat down with a sigh. “The vehicle they were travelling in had developed an engine fault and the passengers were sitting inside, waiting for the engineer to finish his repairs. As he tinkered with the engine, there was a sudden swelling in the steam condenser and the engine exploded. The only person to escape unscathed was Sir James Starley and that was by mere chance that he happened to be talking to the local blacksmith in his forge at the time.”

“Then how many people perished in total, including…” Elizabeth’s voice faltered.

“Two thirds of the village, My Lady. The village school had been let out early so that the children could see the conveyance and many of those who work around the square were there as well. An estimated one hundred and twenty souls were sent on to the Goddess’ cauldron for rebirth.” He pulled out a spotless handkerchief and wiped his brow.

“I see. Were there no survivors at all?” she asked as there was a soft knock in the family pattern at the door. Mrs Butcher called out for the maid to enter.

Booth opened it and ushered a maid into the room, pushing a tea trolley. The maid left it beside the fireplace and left quickly. The butler then served tea to Elizabeth and her guest, who appeared to be relieved at the interruption.

Once they both had a cup of tea in hand, Booth returned to his position beside the door.

Elizabeth repeated the question and the Chief Constable sipped before he answered.

“Several of the school children were far enough away to only receive minor injuries, but those inside the carriage, the engineer, the flag runner and all of those who had crowded close to the machine were killed instantly.”

She nodded and pushed her untasted cup away. “Thank you for coming to tell me. I appreciate that it isn’t the most pleasant duty in the world for a constable of any rank to have to do.”

He smiled, sadness etched on his heavy features. “It is one of those duties which have to be done, my Lady and it is all the more upsetting when I have to come to such a prominent family with such bad tidings.”

She found her hands trembling and folded them into her lap in an effort to remain calm. “I appreciate the personal attention.”

The smile gave way to a frown and he looked at her. “Is there anything I can do for you, Lady Elizabeth? Do you have any other relatives to help you in this sad hour?”

She blinked and swayed in her chair for a moment before her back automatically stiffened. “Only my Aunt, the Duchess of Arking Vale, but I suspect that has already been set in motion.” She glanced toward where Booth stood beside the tea trolley. He inclined his head just enough to tell her that her hunch was correct.

“Then if you wish it, I shall leave a constable with you to fend off those who may try to disturb you unannounced.” He picked up his hat and stood, looking uncomfortable. “I need to return to Yeracha, so if you will forgive me…”

WWWWWWOOOOHHHHHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

It’s here, it’s finally here!

*dances around the room*

TTATE Collection (1)

 

That’s right, THE TOWER AND THE EYE has been let loose upon the world of ebooks!!!

AND….

On Facebook right now, there’s a party going on! Yup, I’m having a launch party!!
*Can you tell I’m excited?*
So if you’re on Facebook why don’t you pop in to the party and see what’s going on…

PARTYYY!!!!

There’s a whole lot more in this edition of the book than there was in the separate ones; Blue Hour Publishing worked hard with me to enhance each book’s potential. There is also some brand new content  only seen by my editor and beta readers, so even if you’ve already bought / read the first four books, this one is worth getting!!!

So let’s take a peek at the new content shall we?

*grins wickedly*

A quick meal and several changes of clothing later, they were ready to go. Aranok kept glancing at Kalytia whose beauty shone even more in the tight fitting fighting harness of the Dark Mistress. Her blue dragonscale armour hugged her figure and the smooth faceless helm hid her own face completely, only her eyes were visible through a slot, making her allure all the more dangerous.

On one hip she carried a long coiled whip and on the other a wicked looking sword, its blade writhing like a snake moving through the grass. Her blue dragonscale tunic hugged her figure and fell over matching leggings which ended in spike heeled boots.

Kaltyia took a moment to check her sword and Aranook shuddered. Those spines on the back edge would make for a very messy wound and you could probably open someone’s throat with just the teeth on the hilt. He thought, trying hard not to cut himself on his own blade as he sharpened it. At least the sharkskin and wire will make for a good grip; you’d need one with the amount of blood using it is going to create.

“Where did you get all that?” the half elf asked.

Kalytia slid the blade into its sheath, the dragon headed hilt sparkling where the light hit the gems in the eye and teeth.

“I described the fighting harness of the women we… Loric encountered in the dungeon in Galivor to Eliethor. She had the leatherworkers make it and then she and a mage of Tyr modified it with some of the details from your report of the dungeon in Valdier and Kraaz’s information from Jinra.” Kalytia ran a self conscious hand over her body. “I’ve only worn it once, but it’s really quite liberating. There’s nothing to get in the way of quick movements and the Dragonscale stretches in a way that normal leather armour doesn’t.”

Joran grinned at her.

“If I weren’t in love with Julissa, you’d just have become a target for my affections.”

Want to read more? Well I’ll be posting excerpts in the launch party today or you can go pick up a copy – it’s on sale for the introductory price of £1.99!!

“The Tower and the Eye” should be available on all of Amazon’s sites…. please enjoy!!!!!!