Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Writing Tip: Leave a Piece of Yourself on Every Page

 My husband and I loved to read. We shared books, enjoying a wide variety of genres. When one of us discovered a new author, the other would quickly join in reading. Several years ago we found a suspense writer we both enjoyed. Her books were intriguing and masterfully written. We couldn’t wait for her latest novel to be released.

After reading a few of her novels we began to “know her.” Her characters were believable. We decided her husband must be the role model for many of the heroes found within the pages of her offerings. We would say things such as, “She must love New York City. She’s spent a lot of time there.”

Her descriptions of places and events and her down-to-earth characters with their quirks and honest dialogue carried the story to another level. Identifying with her made the suspense all the more intense.  We were hooked.

Finding her stride, she began releasing two books a year. Then three. As her popularity increased so did her productivity. Then something happened. We were both disappointed in one of her books. “It fell flat. It just wasn’t her,” we agreed. We shrugged and waited for the next book. It, too fell short. We talked about how her writing had changed. It appeared to us she had found a publishable formula and was chasing the market.

I’m sure she made a ton of money with her books but when she stopped inserting herself into her books, we stopped reading. She not only lost her passion, she lost two avid readers.

If you are writing to make money, that may work for you. But if you are compelled to entertain others, to weave a story that grabs the hearts of others, to have your books be a testimony to who you are, then here is the best advice I can offer:

Leave a bit of yourself on every page.

How do you do that?
1st  Know Yourself- What is Your World View? I have never met John Grisham except through his novels but I am sure he is an advocate for social justice. The lens through which I see the world is as a Christian. How you view the world influences where you put your time, money, and energy. The words on the page should reflect your world view.

2nd  Don’t Chase a Market
Write what you’re passionate about. Or at least include your passions in your writing. Don’t chase a market. If the popular writing is about Amish zombies, if it isn’t  something you embrace, don’t write about it just to get published or make money.

3rd  Write the Characters You Know
I love the T-shirt that reads, “You better be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next novel.” Use the traits, characteristics, and nuances of the people you know to populate your book. I know some writers envision movie stars as the characters in their books. They can “just hear him saying this…” and so forth. You will be better served to base your characters on people you know. My characters are typically a combination of people.

Simply put: Leave a bit of yourself on every page.

What ideas do you have to accomplish this?

P.S. Sorry this post is late this week. Yesterday was moving day and today was find-my-computer day! Have a great week.

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