Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Path to Create


A reader doesn’t willy-nilly wander just any path in your writing. He or she sprints, trudges, or aimlessly wanders in step with the journey you, as a crafty writer, have created to prod or enthrall the reader into. If you’ve plotted adeptly or strung your ideas on an unbroken string, the reader doesn’t get lost or shunted to the path of disbelief. This includes fiction where a major purpose of the writer’s task is to build suspense, throw in a red herring, or tilt the reader’s sense of balance.

Prose that is loose and unstructured loses the reader along with the writer.

Two writing concepts: “unity” and “flow” are often dressed or considered to be identical twins but really aren’t. “Unity” is a coherent journey that, more likely than not, takes the reader back to a character’s beginning in either time, space, thought, or location. “Flow” is pacing and markers along the reader’s journey that keeps he or she moving forward to the next page, the newest thought built on or created out of a previous thought, or the revelation of an underlying theme.

While Tarzan swung from vine to vine, he had to keep looking forward to determine if the next jungle tree was strong enough to hold his weight and offered a new vine able to swing in the direction he wished to travel. Each tree or vine could be a different native species. It didn’t matter. Writing instructors often use the analogy of a flagstone path. Each stone is of a different dimension and/or shape, yet together they “flow” in a direction that can be discerned and followed.

“Unity” is to make each tree or stone suggestive of the journey and provide for its accomplishment. Linkage is how you, as the writer, arrange and order the individual pieces. You as writer keep adding new things: Tarzan meets Jane. Tarzan reaches for a coconut. Tarzan avoids the swipe of a lion’s paw. You’re building Tarzan’s life. Giving the reader perspective and insight into Tarzan’s existence.

While Tarzan grows wiser, he ages. The sun dips below the horizon and dawn breaks to provide transition between days. A scrape on Tarzan’s leg first bleeds, the escaping blood coagulates into a clot, a protective scab forms, and then the healing process culminates when the scab dries up and disappears to leave new skin. Similarly, Tarzan’s life events are expounded upon and blended together like the transition of a healing wound.

But be on guard for tried-and-true words and phrases that may be convenient, but should be avoided. Example: “After having …” Having means the action has already taken place. The writer has indicated he or she is writing about the past. You would not say” “After having looked around the forest, Tarzan eyed a cypress.” Redundancy abounds. Use either “after” or “having.” “After looking around the forest, Tarzan eyed a cypress.” Or, “Having gazed about the forest, Tarzan eyed a cypress.”

Tarzan swung from a cypress to an oak and then to a palm tree. The coconuts were ripe, unlike two months previous. A single action ties together Tarzan’s journey and experience. There is both flow and unity. The logic is implicit and, while the writer keeps the reader on a unified journey, the flow is a separate entity for it may be fast, slow or impeded.

While the flow may vary, unity should be one coherent and constant path.

Author Donan Berg's latest novel, Adolph's Gold, will be available March 13, 2014 at major e-book retailers, and www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/398225 . Not willing to wait until March 13 to read a sample, go to www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/398225 for a free sample read. Pre-orders are $2.99, the lowest available price. Expect price to increase after release.

Also now out, Author Donan Berg's latest short story, Amanda, $0.99 cents, at www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/405595 . If you e-mail a copy of a pre-order receipt for Adolph's Gold don@dotdonbooks.com from Barnes and Noble, Apple, or Kobo, you'll be given
a coupon for a free download of Donan Berg's short story Amanda.

If you enjoy either Adolph's Gold or Amanda, please write a review.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Develop a Winning Attitude for Successful Writing

What does it take in our everyday writing lives to be successful? In order to evaluate this question it is first necessary to understand what "success" is and what all successful writers have in common. It is probably safe to assume that anyone continuing after the first sentence wants to be successful as a writer.

However, only five percent of the population will ever reach their potential for all activities, ninety-five percent will never truly be successful. It may be worse for writers. There's a common statistic that says eighty percent of the people wish to write a novel and only one percent do. That's not very encouraging if looking at the whole.

Let's assume you will be in the one percent. If you're dedicated to writing, that's not unreasonable for there is no time frame that you have to complete your project in thirty days, six months, or a year.

There are five characteristics you must have in common with successful novelists. Think Stephen King, Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Jan Burke, Patricia Cromwell, and you can add all those authors on the New York Times Best Seller list. And, yours, too, if not now, in the future.

Let's get back to the five characteristics.

One, goals. Goals are the single most important factor in achieving success. They must be realistic. You wouldn't want to say you have a goal of writing 20,000 words in a day. Sure, you could do it. But it's not realistic. Instead, bite off those 20,000 words in smaller portions to make the achievement of the eventual goal of 20,000 easier and manageable. All successful people set goals, reevaluate their goals and scale them upward to even greater achievements.

I will digress a moment. I was trying to work on three novels at once. Wasn't getting me anywhere. You can guess why. Overload. I diverted my mind with writing a one-act play on a topic of local news interest. A local community theatre ensemble offered to perform it. I sat in the audience. What I gauged from the audience reaction (positive for the most part) re-energized me. Not to rewrite the play, but which novel to focus on. My novel writing goal was now clear. (Read Adolph's Gold sample at http://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/398225 )

Two, positive attitude. Having a positive attitude is the second factor that successful writers have in common.  Say hello to a successful writer and you'll come away with a "can do" attitude. They believe and communicate in terms of the reality of their initial goal. Grab onto it. A positive attitude is contagious.

Third, truth. The truth, expressed in your writing, and everyday activities is always best for several reasons. The least may be that it's always easiest to remember. People kid about that, but it's true. If you are going to be a successful writer, and I believe you will be, you will not have time, energy, or ability to remember the untruths or lies told. Furthermore, true winners face the truth, learn from it, and triumph in the end because they never have to backtrack to cover up problem areas created by lies.

Fourth, research. Successful writers are always on the prowl for improvement. It's not only research to keep the elements of their stories faithful to reality, it's also a constant striving for improvement through seminars, reading, and listening to the ideas of others. While this may incur a cost in time and effort, not to do will bring about a return on investment (to use a banking term) that equates to zero. And the lack of effort always results in zero.

Fifth, think. A writer's ability to think is a talent to be exploited. With the ability to think, writers not only embellish plots or story lines, but they engage readers. Readers latch on to the power writers possess. This power of writing is awesome and, at times, frightening. Writers make readers believe.
Why? Because writer's already believe because they have goals, a positive attitude, speak truth, research and think.

As a writer, it's your task and opportunity to unleash that which is in you. You know you can do it.

Donan Berg's newest novel mystery/thriller Adolph's Gold comes out March 13, 2014. Read major preview sample at www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/398225 or at Barnes and Noble, Sony, or Kobo online. E-book priced at $2.99. Special pricing for libraries. Ask Amazon.com to upload for Kindle.