Writers: Learn From Reading

Want to learn more about writing? Read. It’s been said before, but pay attention while you read. Ask questions. What do you like? What don’t you like? Why?

I’m an avid re-reader. If I like a book I like to read it again, and again, and again. I’m currently re-reading a series for the third or fourth time (first time on paperback, I’ve been petting them but that’s a separate story). Four books. Four romances. As I read, I’m thinking. Since I know the story I can pay attention to little details, how the author achieved this or that. See what I can learn from a well-respected author and a series I adore.

One such discovery surprised me. A trope I love (friends to lovers) is featured in one of the books. This particular novel, however, turns out to be my least favorite of the series. To be clear, I like them all, but no matter which way I look at it this book always takes the #4 slot.

Why? I’d asked myself this many times. I knew the answer had to be there and I think I figured it out. The characters are bold, rough, sexual. The writing smooth and light. The story works, but if the writing supported the wild side of the characters—the sizzle—the story would have popped off the page.

This means it would have been a different story, because it would be a different writer. Or, at the very least, a different approach from the same writer, altering the story. I found it so interesting to come to this conclusion and compare to other books, other writers, other styles. How they each lend to their own craft.

It gives me more confidence it what I write, in embracing the style my craft creates. I may love reading a suspenseful romance. But I may never write one myself. Not my craft, not where my own writing shines (at least, I believe, I should never say never to something I haven’t tried). And that’s okay.

Bottom line? Write. Read. Analyze. Play with concepts. Ask questions. Learn what works for you as a reader, equate that into your work as a writer. Never stop learning.

Differently-abled is Beautiful

As a writer with a disability (and I struggle to accept this label, always have, I feel different, not disabled), my craft has grown to including main characters with different abilities. Some, like my hearing loss, are invisible and not easily seen. Others are more obvious.

I have a hero who is missing a leg. I’ve done a lot of research and have nothing but respect for those who use prosthetics. Since I write romance, I’ve taken the mystique out of it. I’ve needed to know how the limb works, how the prosthetic is put on and removed, etc. And in all my research not once has the stump or prosthetic felt unattractive.

It’s not. Different? Yes. Unattractive? No.

I hope my writing shows this, and my readers swoon over heroes who are not the run of the mill. Furthermore, I hope to give those that are different an opportunity to view themselves in the positive. As they should.

Don’t believe me? Check out these photos posted recently from photographer Michael Stokes. They depict wounded veterans, showing off missing limbs and prosthetics. These men and women are fit and toned. They are confident, they are attractive, and they show us just how beautiful different can be.

Oh, and hot, definitely hot. (swoon)

The picture below is one example, one that reminds me of the hero I’ve written. Click on the picture and see the rest. I think you’ll agree. Be sure to wipe up the drool when you’re done.

http://www.boredpanda.com/veteran-amputees-hot-calendar-photoshoot-always-loyal-michael-stokes/

 

Smile

This poem sprang to mind as I stared at a picture of myself from my college years. The smile recorded was one I struggle to reproduce. In fairness to my former self, this picture had a cameraman, not myself trying to angle my cell phone. Yet I think parts of this hold true and I hope to find that smile again.

Where did the smiles go?
The endless days of sunshine,
Running through thick grass,
Not a care in the world.

Where did the laughter go?
Before the days of chores and bills,
When nothing weighed down
And nothing trampled. 

Where did the carefree go?
The younger self,
So full of life,
Now drowning in reality. 

Where did it all go?
How can we reclaim those days,
Those moments of pure bliss.
Times not to be missed.

Where, where, where.
Where?

When Characters Take Over

I am the type of writer who writes from the gut. I let my characters run the show. Heck, I welcome it. There is nothing more thrilling then seeing words appear on the screen and being surprised by the outcome.

Yes, these are words that may one day diagnose me with some sort of disorder. Perhaps being an author IS a disorder. But that’s okay, because I like being this way.

A lot of my work comes from conscious thought, from me playing with characters and situations and finding ways to form it together in a way that works for the novel. But once those details get solidified, that’s when room opens for magic to happen.

There are times, like right now, when my muse is singing and I’m deep in a story. I’m enthralled, I’m in love, and my characters are speaking to me. They are well rounded, three-dimensional beings in my mind. They have personalities. More importantly, they have will.

It may sound odd, but it’s true, at least for me. I can enter a scene and think I’m going in one direction, only to come up to an abrupt wall.

Main Character: Pssst, we’re supposed to turn left at the water fountain.
Me: No, we’re supposed to go right, the entire script is set up for us to go right.
MC: But I see something to the left, come one, let’s go explore.
Me: We’re not exploring, we’re writing! And the plot goes right.
MC: Fine. But I’m not playing. You go right, I’ll wait here.
Me: You can’t wait here, you’re the star. We need to go right!
MC: *crosses arms, waits*
Me: FINE! We’ll go left!

And usually when this happens, not ten minutes later I’m bowing to the mercy of my main character, kissing his/her shoes, and remarking on this unexpected turn of events and how it totally works for the story.

These are the times I like writing the best. Because it’s not me trying to put the puzzle pieces together. It’s the puzzle pieces already together and creating a better picture than I previously imagined. It’s the times when my brain is relaxed enough that something deep inside comes out to play.

It’s the only time I can surprise myself with my stories. And it’s damn cool.

Presently, my main character is working very hard at making me cry. He’s succeeding. I keep starting paragraphs and he goes and throws in the emotional jug handle. And I can’t wait to clean it up and send it off to my betas. Then I’ll find out if it’s only me, or if my main character managed to put them under a spell as well.