The most important tool a write has.

Sitting at the outside table of the restaurant, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked out the window towards the water. It’s a beautiful day and the river is full of boats. Between the river and where I sat is a wonderful park. There are plenty of slides and swings, but also lots of open grassy area for play. Today the park was full; a group of teenagers had a game of volleyball going, a few couples were walking the pathways. There were kids on the swings and I could hear music from someone’s radio.

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But it was the gleeful laughter coming from a small group of pre-schoolers that had me smiling. They were playing in the same way my son had at their age, and so did I for that matter. It was simple entertainment with one of the oldest toys: a bottle of bubbles. The laughter was contagious and as I watched, a young puppy joined in the fun, making the children laugh harder.
I didn’t see one iPad, laptop or even phone. Even the parents were getting in on the fun. It was a game we all know, and as sophisticated as today’s toys are, it never seems to go out of style. The simple joy of chasing and popping the soapy bubbles seemed to be able to entertain all, with no problems.
I love how the simple old-fashioned toy worked. There was no need for fancy gadgets or accessories. All you needed is a device to hold the soap while you blew into it to create the bubble. The wind would take the bubble up and out of reach and you would try to pop it before it got too far away from you.
I watch for a few moments longer and then looked down at the paper I had jotted down a few ideas on. I was getting anxious to leave, I wanted to get to my laptop and start writing. Without thinking, I wrote a single item on the paper. Words.

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As simple as the bubbles were, they proved over and over that they would last for a long, long time. I didn’t really need my laptop. Nor the programs I have installed on it to help me write most effectively. There were 3 tools I needed to tell my story. They are as old as dirt, and part of my day to day life.

First I need a method to record my ideas. Any old pen will do. Then I must have the means to hold those ideas. A notebook, a piece of paper, even the napkin on my plate. It doesn’t matter, as long I have those two I can begin.
But the most important tool I need is the same, regardless of how they are being recorded.
WORDS.
Words are the glue to our life. They help us communicate with not only those around us, but ourselves (come on, admit it: you talk to yourself too!) Words are used for direction, instructions, and to express our feeling. Words are the ultimate tool of the storyteller. After all, words have been the way we communicate since the caveman.
As the storyteller, it’s our job to pick through the words and pick the ones that help us connect with our readers, create the feeling of the sharing a great story while pulling them into our tale. It’s the words that are the tool of our trade. Not the fancy computer, or the umpteen writing programs we all try.
Just the words!
Our words alone are the tool of the writer that must be constantly sharped and used. It’s up to us to sort through the millions of words and find the ones that convey not only the storyline, but also feel the story is trying to tell. Words are the mightiest tool we have and if we want to be successful, we must use them wisely. Using the right words will set the tone for your story, making it a romance or a thriller; a fantasy or a scary tale of horror. Your words can make your reader laugh out loud, or cry with sadness.

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So remember, all the fun and shiny programs, computers, fancy journals or pretty pens don’t make you a writer—your words do!

Go ahead-walk away!

Hey-You!

Sometimes you need to stand up, push the chair in and walk away from the desk!

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We all work hard, there is no denying this, but at some point the hard work turns in to that phase where you feel like the little mouse on the wheel, running in circles and not getting anywhere. And sometimes, it’s hard to see when you need to take a break from the writing.

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Whether it’s a ten-minute break, or a long weekend, or a real vacation; you need to take time to recharge.
“Oh, no I can’t do that! I’m on a deadline.” (or something to that effect) Runs through your head and you dig in your heels, pulling the keyboard closer, like a security blanket. But even a child has to give up the blanket so it can be washed. Letting go will be equal to washing of a blanket.
Once all the clutter and tangled thoughts are allowed to settle down, it’s much easier to look at them and decide what you need to keep and what should be let go. Walk away and let your ideas slow down. The brilliant idea you had months ago isn’t working, so put it aside until the time is right. Come back and look at it again with a fresh perspective.
I think we get trapped in our writing environment and miss out on so much. How can you write about something when you’re shut in an office for hours, only seeing the screen in front of you? Where are you getting your inspiration from? I don’t mean inspiration for the big picture, but for the details. How do you know what the sound of the wind in the trees, the feel of sunlight on your skin, the smells of cut grass are like if you don’t take a second and actually put yourself in the middle of these things? And it is the little details like this that make your story come alive for the reader.

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By freeing our mind, we are opening it up to the possibilities of new ideas and solutions. That clue you were looking for? Suddenly it’s crystal clear. The conversation you were trying to write, but it was coming off stilted? Now it feels as if your characters are in the room with you talking. The little details are easier to spot and you may not feel so overwhelmed.
I had to be reminded of this just this week. Moaning and groaning, I gave in and went on a day trip with my husband. We visited an old favorite place, enjoying the peaceful walks through the gardens, had a wonderful dinner and talked. And as we talked and laughed, teasing and joking about different things, the ideas began to form. By the time we got home that night, I had the plot for two new books.
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The added bonus; I was able to talk with my husband about the ideas, and he had some of his own. They were jokes at first, but as the ideas nestled into my brain, I was caught up in the possibilities. Now they are written down for future development.
As you can see, taking a break worked out very well for me. And most authors that I talk to agree with me.

Sometimes you need to turn off the computer and let the little grey cells do their thing.

Victoria LK Williams

Writing is Hard Work, not a Hobby!

 

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I love to listen to U-tube as I drive. There is some great information out there that not only educates you, but can also amuse and stimulate your thoughts. Most of what I listen to is about the writing craft; from the words on the page to selling those words. Yesterday I ran across not one, but two hilarious videos  about what not to say/ask a writer. I was laughing so hard, the other drivers around me had to think I was nuts.

I agreed with 90% of what the authors said, but 100% on the question “how’s your hobby doing”. It got me thinking…

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Anyone who has sat down and wrote a book will agree that this is not a hobby. It’s darn hard work. Time consuming, energy draining, mind shattering work! So, I thought I’d share with the potential writer (or the helpful person who just doesn’t get it) my process. There are things I’m sure I’ve missed, and this is a broad over-view. Each item on this list has multiply levels and tons of details that need to be taken care of. Every author has their own process, the things that are important to producing their books.

For the new writers-I hope this helps guides you through the process. For the friends and family looking in from the sidelines, I hope this opens your eyes to the reason we spend so much time on each book. And I thank those of you on the sidelines for all your support-we need it to keep going.writing process for me

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Victoria LK Williams

Ready, Set, Binge!

Have you noticed how we’ve become a society that loves to binge?
We think nothing of spending hours doing the same thing repeatedly. It starts with food and drink. Come on be honest- how many times have you sat in front of the TV with a bag of chips and been shocked to look down and discover the bag was empty? And you can’t even remember eating it?
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Our society has  always indulged, or binged, on drinking; some to the point of becoming addicted to the drink. And it doesn’t always have to be alcohol. Have you ever seen somebody that wakes up and grabs a soda first thing in the morning, filling up a 16 ounce cup? A cup  that never seems to empty all day?
As kids we binged too. That’s what Halloween is for- a time for eating as much candy as we could.
But it’s not just food we binge on. With the development of sites such as Netflix, Hulo, Amazon Prime (just to name a few) you can pick a TV series you haven’t seen a long time (or never) and watching entire series in one sitting. One season at a time. Do you realize that can be 8 to 12 hours just sitting there watching TV? We’re all guilty of it, even though we tell ourselves we’re not.shutterstock_1062695225
Even I do it. I may not watch eight or nine hours at a time, but I will watch more than one episode in a row. And I find that when I’m trying out a new series, I look to see if there are multiple seasons so I can watch them all at once rather than having to wait from one week to the next for each episode.
Our favorite movies are not excluded from this either. We will watch all the episodes one right after the other. Be honest how many of you done that with Harry Potter or Star Wars? Especially when the next movie is getting ready to hit the big screen. We hurry and grab all the other movies in the series, watching them so we’re ready for the new movie, that we have all the details in our minds of what happened and what might happen.
As readers I think we binge too. When we know there’s a series of books, we download all the books available and read them one right after another. Often we may not even buy the books unless we’re sure there’s more than four or five in the series so we can read each book in order, not having to wait months for the author to write the next one.
Is  this is healthy, I don’t know. Probably not. But it shows we can get caught up in the story the writer is creating; whether it is on the movie screen or pages of our book. And for the author that can be a fantastic thing.
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And even as a writer we binge. A prime example of that is the National Novel Writing Month. We force ourselves to write an entire book in 30 days. For some authors that’s normal. But for others, like me, we’d rather  write our book over three or four months. Or longer. (There is nothing wrong with publishing at your own pace.) Yet we accept the challenge and we binge; writing the words until we have over 50,000.
We’re always in a hurry to get things done and sometimes I wonder if we were to take it slower we might enjoy it more, savoring the writer’s words or the taste of those chips longer. And as a writer-enjoying the process of creating our characters and worlds.
Well July 1 is almost here, and I start binge writing again. This month is Camp NaNo. A new book, new series, new characters and settings. With the outline done, I’m ready to write!
So binge away!
What are you binging on? Is it a new movie series or a book series?
What’s your guilty secret?

https://VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Pinterest: an Authors Tool

Do you struggle to find inspiration for a new story or plot line or a blog?
I’m not talking about writers block. I’m talking about just needing that edge to move your story forward or to put a twist into it. Or maybe you need to help to describe something and you can’t quite visualize it on your own.
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What you need to realize is inspiration is all around you. Whether it be walking through art show or walking through Museum, inspiration is everywhere waiting for you to take notice. Think about it; the artist has already pinpointed the focus of the piece, they’ve even had it framed. The saying “writing is painting with words” comes to mind when I think of how these pictures have help inspire me.
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Most of us heard of Pinterest and probably used it . But it is also a great tool for the writer. For example, if you go to my storyboards, you’ll find I have storyboards for every book I’ve written, and every book I plan to write.   I drop pictures onto my board to help me keep hold of an idea, sometimes for a plot twist or an interesting fact about a character. I can go back and reuse these pictures. They can spike an idea help me describe the location, person or they can help me expand on something I already thought about.
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But before there was Pinterest, there was something called a magazine. You could find magazines everywhere. If you found you couldn’t afford to buy them, a trip to the library and would give you the opportunity to look through them. Travel, cooking, fashion, sports, hunting, the list of magazines goes on.  If you found inspiration about something new to you, the information was right in front of you.
The work of other people can give you inspiration as well. I was walking through the art gallery and I came upon a picture of a small little inlet, palm trees swaying boats bobbing in the water and a rustic old shack at the beaches edge. It was perfect for what I was thinking about. I hadn’t realized what I was looking for until I saw that picture. Getting permission from the art gallery, I snapped a quick picture and then I made notes. I would never post that picture because belongs to somebody else. Not without their permission, but it was enough to inspire me and get me over the hump.
So where have you gotten your latest inspiration from? Something you saw on the news, something you read in a magazine, or something you saw on Pinterest? Wherever you get your inspiration, don’t be afraid to run with it. However, I caution you to make sure you are not interfering with anybody else’s copy rights to the picture and you’re only using it for your own inspiration. If you need to use a picture in something you plan to post or promote with and you haven’t taken your self, pay to use it! Lawsuits are a serious problem, and besides, it’s the right thing to do! There are many sites you can purchase photos from, I use Shutter Stock.
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If writing is like painting with words, then find your inspiration and begin writing.
Paint the picture for your readers.

 

Paint a picture with your words.

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The air was motionless, and it wrapped around you like a warm wet blanket, making you gasp for every ounce of air you could drag into your lungs. A woman stood by the edge of the lake, still, in the early morning hour. She looked across the water noticing a  great egret flying low. If he tilted his head, he could admire his reflection from the clear water, as he glided silently over it. Turning her head a little to left, she noticed a kayak paddling in silence; the paddle making soft ripples on the water. The ripples extended out, hardly disturbing the calm still water.
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Looking down at her feet she saw the tiny dots on the water as small bait fish came to the surface to grab air, barely moving the water. As if they wanted to inhale the air before sinking back down into the cool water, away from the heat.  Even though it was early, the temperatures were building. The sweat dripped down the back of her cotton shirt into the waistband of her cut-off jeans. The hat on her head did nothing to protect her from the glare as the sun kissed the water good morning while it crested over the horizon.
Days like this caused temperatures to rise both in the air and in the people trying to live through the sweltering heat of summer. Emotions would be sure to heat up as the mercury swelled up the narrow tube of the thermometer. This was a perfect day for murder.
I don’t know about you, but this sounded a lot better than saying ‘it was a hot summer day at the lake where a murder would happen’.

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As a writer it’s our job to paint a picture with our words.
Our readers can’t be where we place the characters in our story. This is why the details about the settings and the characters surroundings are important to the tale. The reader needs to see this through your chosen words.
 (There are writers who excel at this, one of my favorites is Nora Roberts.)

The words you use can set the tone for something sweet and funny, or dark and ominous. The same scene I described could’ve easily been the setting for a holiday picnic about to begin. But because I chose words to create a darker tone, you pictured a different meaning. Simply by my adding those last seven words, I confirmed your interpretation.
But it’s easy to overdo the words, And I came close. There’s no reason to describe in minute detail every little thing happening in the scene.

Your readers possess an imagination, let them use it! Often it is the things left unsaid that create the most impact.

Read over what you wrote, read it out loud. Do the words do more than give the reader the facts? They should. Your words should cause an emotional reaction. Laugh, cry, cringe, gasp-make those words do anything but create apathy and boredom.

With that being said, I rather like the words I strung together for your example…   I think I might have a beginning for my next book; a scene with a murder on the lake.
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How would you write your next scene?
Who are some of your favorite writers that can paint a picture with words?

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, be sure to click the follow button. And comment-I love to hear your thoughts.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Are you a gardener? I have another blog called Gossip from the Southern Garden.
Stop in and see what’s growing. 

www.GossipfromtheSouthernGarden.blog

Author- know your Characters!

How well do you know your characters?

Are they close, like a best friend, or are they a vague notion on a piece of paper?

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The characters will determine the intimacy of how much you get to know them. Minor characters are like ships passing in the night, and there may not be a reason to go in depth about what makes them tick. But, for your protagonist and the sidekick it’s essential. Even for the antagonist is essential – almost as much as the protagonist.
Although you can’t put everything  about your characters down on paper, you should know them. Be familiar with them as you are with your family-even better. After all, they are your creation and you need to understand how and why your character reacts to something you are plotting.
Now granted, just like human beings, your characters will change in time as you go from book 1 to book 10. They must, or they will become flat and boring. A perfect example of this is Harry Potter. If the young wizard had stayed the same frighten boy living under the stairs, you would have never read the rest of the series to learn of all the wonderful adventures (and dangers) that he faced while fighting the evil Lord Voldemort.
Expect that your characters will grow, just as you grow as a writer. Knowing your characters inside and out isn’t just knowing they have blond hair and blue eyes, or they have a southern accent.

Knowing your character involves understanding how they react to situations we, the writer, put them into. How will your hero react to criticism or complement? How will your heroine react when faced with danger or romance?
As a writer, I think we have to know ourselves in order to answer these questions about our characters. Be honest; isn’t a part of us in each one of our characters?

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There are always different character profiles and different ways to come up with them.   Some great computer programs are available to  help you  keep track of all the details. Or perhaps a good old-fashioned piece of paper in a notebook. There you can jot down the traits of your character, both physical and physiological.
I’ve found character casting is a lot of fun. This is where you find pictures of people you think would be like your character, not only in looks but in actions. I love to use pictures of actors from old shows I loved. I remember what the actor’s charter was like, and that’s the picture I borrow for my casting.

I’ve seen or used all of these methods. I feel the ones which work best ask questions about your characters, causing you think beyond the obvious. These methods don’t simply have you filling in the blanks about how tall is your character or their eye color. Instead, they asked the questions about what is your characters favorite childhood memory, what is your character afraid of.
See the difference between the two types of questions? Even if you don’t write everything down, I think a good writer needs this information back of her head.   Putting it down on paper just keeps a clear.
So, let me be noisy and ask you this; is your relationship with your character like a first date, where you’re just trying to find out things about them to decide if there will be a second date? Or does it feel as if you’re in a 50-year-old marriage and you can finish each other’s sentences?

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If you’re still in the dating stage, I suggest you ask more questions. You need to know your characters; you might need to reign them in one day when they take your story in a different direction. If you don’t know how they will react, your story will get away from you. When it gets out of your control, then how will you be able to keep the reader interested?
How do you get to know your character? Share your methods with us.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com