We all know the writing motto: show, don’t tell.
But don’t we all get overwhelmed when we think we need to show everything? Are there certain categories of showing emotion or a character’s feeling towards something versus telling? Well, you can answer those questions because we’re going to share a quoted post. The original author is MIA but we do want you all to know – it wasn’t our idea. We’re simply adding a bit of input!
How to write ‘they blushed’ without writing ‘they blushed’:
- They took a step backwards.
- They shifted their weight from one side to the other.
- They hid their face in their hands.
- They shifted their glance to something else in the room, all around the room for that matter.
- Their eyes widened.
- They crossed their arms.
- They leaned into themselves.
- They scratched the back of their head.
- Utilize hand motions. When people are nervous or embarrassed, they tend to use their hands to declare their frustration.
- Quirks! Each character should have their own quirks even before you begin writing. It’s their go-to and displays some of their negative traits sometimes.
Here in the office, we live and breathe romance. It’s not our only focus but it’s one of the more popular ones we work with. And romance is woven into most, if not all, stories in some way, shape, or form.
Today, we want to highlight some tropes in romance. Some common, some not.
Do you have a favorite trope?
One character has wronged another. This can include wronging not just another character but something else (ex. a group of individuals, a law, etc.) This character must redeem themselves in the story…or try to. Will it succeed? That’s up to you, the writer!
- Forbidden Love
Obstacles such as culture, family, social class or friendships keep the pairing apart. But nothing ever does keep two true lovers apart! The real question becomes: does it end on a good note? Do we smell an HEA or a tear-jerker?
A near-tragic event forces one character to forget their past and who they are. Don’t forget to research the type of head injury and amnesia you want your character to cope with to avoid generalizing your story. The story itself revolves around how they move forward and adapt to their “new” life. Will they remember who they were? Or…not?
- Secret/Lost Heir
One of the two main characters is heir to a fortune. If they know about it or not is entirely up to you.
Someone is an orphan. The situation matters, too. Did they grow up in the foster system? Or did the parents pass and distant family take them in? It all affects the story and how it unfolds!
We can all agree: languages are fun to write, sometimes. Other times, they’re difficult to work with. There are a variety of languages, accents, dialects, and so on we have to keep track of while writing our dialogue. There is a way to write them effectively, so let’s talk about it!
The readers of this day and age don’t typically take a liking to phonetic spelling. It may not be the route to take if you want to build an audience. These readers may not want the challenge in reading non-standard English. The real downfall is how much time they’re going to spend deciphering what the characters are trying to say without diving into the deeper meaning.
Any language can relate…no one speaks their language the same way. This is where dialect plays a huge role into how language is spoken and can be portrayed in writing. When anyone learns a language in grade school, they aren’t learning the different dialects of the language…but one can learn through native speakers in certain areas. Depending on region and ethnicity, everyone speaks differently. Utilizing modern language with minor change to the dialect and phonetic spelling here and there will improve the quality of your story. This is only important if communication between your characters is a central point in your story. Most characters interact with others – but sometimes the language in which they speak…speaks volumes for the story.
Some important bits to remember when writing in other languages or dialects are diction, syntax, and idioms. All of these key components help the conversations between your characters become unique to them. Even if things sound strange to you, it may be best to detach your experiences from that of your characters speech.
Always remember: you want your characters to come off as unique through dialogue, especially if you want your reader to be able to distinguish who’s speaking. We also want less boring and more relatable characters so you have to find the perfect balance!
We’ve talked about multiple POVs and the importance of treating them with love; each character is a distinct person who has a unique personality worth sharing with the world. We’ve talked about having too many characters and working on who to cut from the cast; we know so many authors who have created beautiful narratives with more than two characters as their MCs…but sometimes it’s not done well.
Taking things in a different direction but still referring to multiple POVs, characters, and consistency…let’s talk about your choice in writing style (if you’re taking the route we are going to be starting a conversation for.)
Being a head hopper is fun! As the writer, you get to explore different minds and see your plot unfold in your tale through the lens of diverse brains. Sometimes, you explore a single mind for one chapter, then switch to a new persona in the next. You can even write from a completely unbiased point of view…
Okay, you already know what we’re seguing into: your narrator.
It’s crucial to keep your narrating style consistent. Flopping between third omniscient to subjective/limited to objective to first person…all because it makes sense in the moment of the scene? No. Our brains hurt simply thinking about that. It’s a heavy example but it’s worth mentioning the most extreme of cases to get your editing eye trained on your work and how you’re choosing to narrate.
The question then becomes: Am I doing this?
If you are, you should further ask yourself which POV/narrator comes off the strongest of all. Whichever one it is: choose it. Stick with it. Rewrites are a pain but the goal, if this pertains to you, is to get the work recognized as worth for publication, so it’s worth the extra time…and love!
We believe in you!
It’s not in everyone’s best interest to sit in their home office to write. Works for some, not for the rest. A few may take a ride in their car to a local place they find inspirational. Others take a hit to the wallet and hop on a place to their most relaxing destination. The purpose isn’t to escape the process of writing, but lay the seed of inspiration and nourish it with the surrounding scenery.
Is anyone a location-inspired writer? If so, where do you like to write?
The beach in a comfy chair with your toes in the sand?
In a hotel with a magical view of snow-capped mountains?
Not only are we a super-cool blog on the internet, talking about the ins-and-outs of publishing and writing, but we’re a literary agency, first and foremost!
Some things you may wonder about us (or agencies in general) may be misguided by other postings on the internet. It’s best to ask the source directly to find out if the match is real! This doesn’t go for us, it goes for anyone you manage to get in touch with!
- Ask the individual you’ve made contact with how they got to where they are (in life, not your inbox.) Knowing our background helps give you perspective on our passions and how they may or may not coincide with yours.
- A great follow-up is asking how long we’ve been in the biz. Passion and credentials.
- Sales are really important in this part of the business. Don’t shy away from asking. We won’t give you the nitty-gritty details but we will tell you bout some of our accomplishments as of late!
- Before you query, ask us if we’re looking! And if we are, what are we looking for! Each agency has criteria (and posts it on their website most likely) which must be met. Realistically speaking, “The Great American Novel” is not one of them.
- Our expertise is important to note as well. Each agency covers every aspect of publishing, but sometimes – sometimes – you’ll come across an agency that’s REALLY good at something. What is it?
- Communication is so important to both agency and client. Get it done as soon as possible: how would you like to touch base with your agency? Establish it! Most situations now involve email, but who knows, we can set up calls, video chats, dinner and a movie (no book adaptations, thank you)…(totally joking!)
The most important thing to remember is every agency is different and the people within differ from the others you may have spoken to. It’s always good to keep an open mind to whoever you come across, inside the publishing world and out!
Relinquishing creative control can feel like the end of the world. One cannot simply do everything and have a successful book launch.
- Let your editor edit. You’re paying them to do so. Give them space. Let them work. And if they don’t meet their deadline, let ’em have it. All hell will break loose. Be easy on your editor who’s focusing on the substantive editing. They need to pick apart your story and ask questions. Don’t flip out on them. Take a chill pill.
- Unless you’re designing your own cover, you’ll also need to take a step back and tell yourself: “I’m not the expert.” Give the designer what they need, info-wise. Maybe a little more. Be realistic in your feedback and don’t get irrationally angry if they don’t follow your original request. They may have a marketing tactic or two behind their reasons why. Just ask.
- If you’ve hired PR to help with your marketing, then you need to lay out your terms and conditions to a degree. Once again, you’re paying this person to do a job for you. They’re the expert. Not you! They will treat your upcoming work with TLC and sketch out a marketing plan tailored to a genre and audience. If they don’t, something isn’t being done right. Ensue virtual yelling.
Think of this time away from your work as a vacation. Go to the beach, go for a hike. Drink a nice, cold pina colada. And when you’re notified from any of the people you’ve hired about your book…
Inspired solely on the act of decluttering a home, we’re talking about a part of editing some people dread: downsizing the finished product.
There is a such thing as writing too much. Spending an excessive amount of your time world-building all at once, having long conversations between characters to reveal information, or describing your characters in great physical detail and not focusing on the plot. These are examples! There can be all kinds of details you may be able to omit!
If you find yourself growing insecure or anxious about your ability to write effectively for an audience, you may want to begin the downsizing process.
Those moments too large (or too long)…revisit them. Break it down and see what can be taken out. What’s important to your writing is showing your reader what’s going on around your character or how your character(s) perceive the world – not telling your reader. They won’t feel it.
Small details may be important to hold onto so save them in a note on the side. They might be able to be woven into the narrative in a flowing manner.
Try to set a time frame in which you’ll work on this form of editing. And if you have to – do it more than once. You’ll realize how a whole paragraph may only needed to be one sentence.
There. We said it.
We thought it was about time it was said.
You can scroll through the blogs, the forums, the advice columns…but always remember, you’re different than the person posting online. Your creative experience and beyond is your experience alone. Two people will not share the exact process…similarities, sure, but not replicated.
So, take any writing or publishing experience stories as a grain of salt in the big pot of publishing stew!