Saturday, April 20, 2019
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Use these quick writing tips inspire you to move your story forward.
Brainstorm Writing Ideas
- Brainstorm 5 to 10 ideas for stories, articles, or novels. Then consider each idea in turn:
5. What would make the best place to start? For more help, check out my other blogs on finding ideas.)
Who Will Read Your Writing?
Get More Writing Advice
Saturday, April 6, 2019
I hope this series of quick writing tips inspires you to move your story forward!
Find Your Writing Inspiration
Get More Writing Advice
Saturday, March 30, 2019
I hope this series of quick writing tips inspires you to move your story forward.
Inspiration for Writing
- What hobbies or interests do you have that might interest children?
- What jobs or experiences have you had that could be a good starting point for an article or story?
- Do you know about other cultures, or a particular time period?
- What genres do you like? Would it be fun to write in that genre?
- What genres did you like as a child? Did you love mysteries, ghost stories, fantasies, or science fiction? What were your favorite books? Why?
- Even the phonebook can provide inspiration. Check the Yellow Pages: Could you interview an automotive painter, animal trainer, or architect for an article? What would life be like for a child to have parents in that field? How about a teenager who dreams of entering the profession?
Write with Emotion
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Learn more at https://chriseboch.com/ or her Amazon page.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
|Chris writes romantic suspense as Kris Bock|
I've learned more about writing mysteries from the books I put down. Why did I lose interest?
Sometimes the answer is obvious in the first pages – poor writing. But in the last year, I've started a number of books and initially been impressed with the writing quality. But then I quit reading after a few chapters. I usually lose interest for one of two reasons:
First: I simply don't care if the main character succeeds in her goal. In a cozy mystery, the amateur detective has no real reason to be investigating. The crime doesn't directly affect her or her family or friends, and/or there's no reason to think the police can't take care of things.
But it's not enough to make the detective a professional, so it's her job to investigate. The stakes can still feel low if there isn't some reason for me to be interested in seeing this particular crime solved, right now.
That's not to say the stakes have to include the main character being accused of the crime. In the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael cares deeply about justice and protecting the innocent, even people he barely knows. And so, as a reader, I care.
In a similar vein, I've always enjoyed Elaine Orr's Jolie Gentil Series. Jolie doesn't always have a good *practical* reason to investigate. But she has a burning desire to understand the truth. This is shown through her thoughts and actions, so it feels authentic to her character, not something tacked on by the author as an excuse for unbelievable behavior. To me that's a stronger motive than the surprisingly common "My horrible ex-husband has been accused of a crime, so I guess I have to get involved."
Second: Not enough happens. One historical mystery I tried recently started out well, with dramatic action and strong writing. But this was followed by several chapters where the story didn't progress. A couple of new characters were introduced. They talked with the MC about topics that had already been discussed. Nobody had new information. The big mystery was barely acknowledged. The MC hadn't committed to learning more about it yet. Finally I got so bored I gave up. Perhaps things would've picked up again in a few chapters … but by that point, I didn't care enough to wait.
When I critique manuscripts, I often wind up explaining the necessity of having goal-motivation-conflict in every chapter.
Another way to keep your story moving is to focus on your main character's goal in each scene. Even if we know what the overall goal is (gather warriors in order to battle the monster), remind the reader at the beginning of each scene what the scene goal is – and what the main character has to do to achieve it. You can also remind the reader why it is important (motivation) and why it will be difficult (conflict). This way, the reader is waiting to see if the main character will succeed or fail. It's also a way for you to check that your main character is staying active, and not just tagging along for the ride.
Sometimes writers know what the goal is, and why it's important, but forget to put it on the page. Sometimes writers get caught up in their own writing and don't realize they haven't had any conflict in a while. Sometimes writers haven't gotten close to their main characters, so the characters' behavior doesn't seem to come naturally from their personality.
Writing is hard! It's why I recommend making an outline after writing a draft, to see what's really in the story rather than what you meant to include and thought you included. (More on that here.) It's the key to the revision method I discuss in Advanced Plotting.