Why Writers Must Dig Deep to Mine Their Feelings

This post of mine originally ran on Positive Writer in August, 2019. Reprinted here for your enjoyment and edification!

It’s really amazing, if you stop to think about it. Readers will willingly suspend disbelief and subject themselves to the gamut of emotion, making themselves vulnerable to intense feelings.

Some readers read for the suspenseful ride. Like my husband and kids, who eagerly climb into seats on real roller coasters—they’ll even wait two hours to experience a two-minute ride just to get scared out of their wits. Some readers are perfectly fine crying, feeling miserable, or aching in commiseration as they go on a difficult journey with a fictional character they love.

Fictional, not real.

Why do so many people love to do this? I don’t know. I can only speak for myself. There is something wonderful, magical, and sublime about being made to feel deeply about something outside my normal life. Stories that remind me of what being human is all about, what love is, what loyalty is, what hope is, what being victorious looks like lift me up, confirm my humanity, bring deeper meaning to my own life. Continue Reading…

Mastering the Voice of the Memoirist

This post originally ran on Jane Friedman’s blog in 2017. Be aware there are mature passages in here.

Voice is like your fingerprint. Each of us has a voice when we speak aloud. We have a style of speaking, our own unique vocabulary and syntax and inflections.

When we write, we also adopt a “voice.” In fiction, each point-of-view character has a unique voice, which permeates both the narrative and dialogue. In nonfiction, the writer’s voice sets the tone and style for the entire book.

When we consider penning a memoir, we can (and should) carefully choose the type of voice that would best suit the story we are telling.

Setting the Tone

Voice is different from tone, but the two are connected. If you plan to write a humorous memoir, the tone will be funny and light (though you can have dark humor too), and the voice you would use would need to fit that tone.

Your story may be one of very painful, dark, and/or terrifying experiences. But that does not mean your tone should be dark, nor that your voice should be heavy, somber, or depressing. Continue Reading…

5 Ways to Adjust Your Attitude to Run the Writing Marathon

Have you ever asked: “What on earth possessed me to want to be a novelist?” Are you starting to realize this journey of being an author is not a short sprint but a marathon—and often a grueling one at that? I bet a lot of you doing NaNoWriMo are thinking this by now.

With the hundreds of thousands of novels submitted to agents and publishers each year, you sometimes think winning the lottery offers better odds than getting traditionally published.

But then . . . you finally break through and get a contract, and months later are holding your brand-new brilliant release in your hand, feeling as if you’ve finally arrived at the finish line.

The Daunting Task Ahead

Yet . . . if you’re like me, the flashbulb moment of that exhilaration lasts a very short time, only to turn into something akin to another stark, depressing realization—that the odds your book will become a huge hit or best seller is . . . well, about the same odds as winning the lottery, and you’re back to the same place as you were when you first starting sending out your first queries to agents. Continue Reading…

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