News from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Secrets to Writing Fiction

My writer’s group, The Northwest Arkansas Writers, to whom I owe any success I’ve had being published, held a conference a few weeks ago, which I attended. There were two things, especially that I took away. One was from the lecture given by member Dusty Richards, the foremost writer in the Western Genre today, with over a hundred twenty books to his credit.
He was discussing chapters. His first advice: Never simply end a chapter. Always add a hook, or a sense of what is to come, so your reader won’t put down the book, but turn the page and continue. Good advice. Go back and check your work in progress to be sure you did that.
The second advice is really a writing technique. He says it is his secret to being so successful, but he willingly shared it:  Start each chapter with a strong sense of place, so the reader knows where he is, but don’t mention the name of the Point of View Character until you must, for clarity. Use the pronoun ‘he,’ or ‘she,’ as long as possible before you say the name.
For instance: He looked around and saw unfamiliar landscape, dry, dusty, empty of life. He was lost.
 Or: She felt the sun as the clouds cleared, revealing the tops of the mountains. Her soul was filled with happiness. What does this do? It brings your reader into the scene. The reader becomes the character and starts living the story. When you have your reader truly hooked, mention the character.
This next comes from member Duke Pennell, owner of Pen-L Publishing, editor and publisher of the e-magazine, of Frontier Tales. His advice: What publisher’s want, is not only someone who has obviously worked to perfect their writing skills, but someone who is easy to work with. Make the corrections. Don’t be a drama lemon. Take criticism gracefully, at least until you’ve carefully considered it. Just might be the publisher or editor knows more about what is good and what sells than you do.
Second: Remember that, although writing a book involves creativity and talent, once you’ve sold the book, you’ve become a businessman, not a writer. Publishing is a business. It means return on investment. Take it seriously, learn marketing and social media, take your publisher’s suggestions and do what you can gain readers.
 It was a Saturday well spent. I even sold a book.

1 comment:

  1. Joyce, I love Dusty Richards' books. I am not a big fan of male authors, but I am a big fan of his. Just found him at Christmas. Great post. Thank you for sharing.