Posted in Emotions

Adding Humor

It’s said that in fiction there must be a pet-the-dog moment. These are times within the story where the protagonist (main character), pets a dog (or other vulnerable creature). What this does is sympathizes your main character. At the same time, if the the pet-the-dog moment is done just right, it will add suspense to the scene or the story as a whole. I have done this with the books I’ve written/published. But…..

I like to also add some humor, kind of sprinkled here and there. What this does is show your MC has a sense of humor as well. In addition, it should also add to your scene (see example below the next paragraph).

Below is an example of humor from my new novel The Cross’s Key. My main character, Kyle Stevens, is trying to glean information from one of the other characters who is being rather difficult or evasive. He does a good job of getting what he wants, while creating humor for the reader at he same time.

Why did you not ask it that way before?”

“My other three brothers would have understood what I was asking,” Kyle spat out. “Now, answer my question. Unless you don’t know. If that’s the case, admit you’re ignorant and send me on my way.” The increase in irritation caused his abdomen to rumble. The result was a noise he hadn’t intended.

“Really, you chose now to pass wind?”

Realizing Jarron must be trying to get on his nerves, Kyle relaxed and chose not to play that game anymore. “Yes, I chose now to pass wind, and I’ll continue to do so unless you answer my question.” For a minute, no one spoke. Then, “I can do this all day,” responded Kyle with a cheesy grin.

Do you have to do this every time? No. Only when I feel the need for it. At the same time, I want my readers to get a chuckle/giggle while they’re reading. s

Posted in Writing

Poetic Devices

Below is a table of various poetic devices and their meanings. Over the past year I’ve done articles on individual ones, but here are I am putting them all together in one post. These are just some of them.

Poetic DevicesMeaningExample
AssonanceRhyming of the same
vowel sounds
Leaves blew in the breeze
AlliterationThe occurrence of the same letter or
sound at the beginning of adjacent
or closely connected words.
Sweet singing doves
MetaphorThis is where an object in, or the subject of,
a poem is described as being the same
as another otherwise unrelated object.
The sand is a warm blanket
SimileA figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. It’s used to make a description more vivid.As fast as a cheetah.
PersonificationGiving an inanimate object human characteristics.The moon smiled back.
ImageryUsed in poetry, novels, or other writing that uses
vivid description that appeals to the readers’ senses. This creates an image or idea in their head.
The leaves sounded like clapping hands.
AllusionAn expression intended to
call something to mind
without mentioning it specifically. It’s a hint
towards something.
Chocolate is his kryptonite.
Superman is alluded to but not mentioned.
HyperboleExaggerated statements or not meant
to be taken literally
I am so hungry I could eat a whole side of beef.
AllegoryA story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted
to reveal a hidden meaning,
like a moral or political moral.
Animal Farm by George Orwell is an example of an allegory.
ConsonanceThe repetition of consonant sounds within
a line of text.
The boss had a loss.
Molly remained jolly.
RepetitionThe act of repeating something that has already been said. Used to create effect.Time after time.
Over and over.
EnjambmentThe continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line of poetry to the next.Birds fly
above a

dew covered
grassy meadow.
MeterIn poetry, meter is the basic rhythmic structure of a verseiambic pentameter
trochaic foot
anapestic foot
(More on these in another post)
Posted in Writing

Feed Your Creativity

What do we need for nourishment? Food. When we eat food, we feel better. Our body feels sustained. It might also depend on what you eat, but that is neither here nor there. Actually, I’m eating as I write this article (Hahaha, no really). But how do we feed our creativity when we’re trying to think of material for writing a story? I’m not talking about writer’s block. I’m talking about putting some oomph into your story, something that stands out to readers. The answer to this question will vary from individual to individual because we are all different. Below are some ideas on things you can do to wake up your creative mind.

  • Read books.
  • Listen to music (I hear classical music is good for this).
  • Do a craft of some sort.
  • Put a jigsaw puzzle together. You’d be surprised how much this works.
  • Create ideas with some one else. Hey, two heads are better than one.
  • Take a drive somewhere that appeals to your senses.
  • Look at beautiful photos and imagine yourself inside the picture. Use your senses and describe it.
  • Take a stroll through a cemetery.
  • Cook/bake something.
  • Go to the beach.
Posted in Dialogue

Tag Lines

In a story in order to determine who is speaking a piece of dialogue, tag lines are used. Notice in the following example the last two lines don’t have a tag line. That’s because one is not always needed once it’s been established who is talking. Generally, a person will do the speaking every other line. So, in this example, it is assumed that Tia is then doing the speaking in line 3 and Sarah is doing the speaking in line 4. If a tag line is added every time someone speaks, the flow of the dialogue sounds odd. BUT, every now and then, throw in a tag line so that readers can keep track of who is speaking. There’s nothing more irritating than having to go back through a long piece of dialogue in order to keep track of who is doing the speaking.

Example: “I don’t like it one bit. It won’t work,” said Tia.
“Sure it will,” replied Sarah. “Trust me.”
“That’s the problem. None of your ideas ever work.”
“They do too.”

Please keep in mind that you don’t always have to use the word ‘said’ when creating a tag line. Here are some options in the list below. There are many many more than what is here. This is just a taste.

  • replied Tia
  • responded Tia
  • stated Tia
  • whispered Tia
  • answered Tia
  • demanded Jack
  • claimed Susan
  • asked Bill
  • agreed Susan
  • added Susan
  • admitted Jack
  • fumed Bill
  • feared Sally
  • giggled Jane
  • indicated Jack
  • joked Tia
  • decided Tia
Posted in Writing

Descriptive Words

Please note that some of the descriptive words in this table are found in more than one box. This is because they hold two different descriptive meanings.

Sometimes it’s nice to have many in one place rather than always resorting to look up single words at a time. When you are in the middle of writing a piece of fiction and you want a unique way to describe something, your mind can go blank. Here is a table to help you.

In general
Most of the time
As a rule
At high speed
All joking aside
Cut the comedy
Once and for all
Past regret
With conviction
Beyond recall
Once in a lifetime
By chance
By accident
Mixed up
Not with it
Posted in Theme

Digging Deep

How often have you read a book with great mean hidden deep within its story? I truly believe anyone can find meaning in just about anything they read. We don’t always look for it though. Why? Because we are so engrossed with what is going on in the story that we aren’t focused on what we can learn from it. In these instances I think anything learned goes straight to our unconscious mind. Now, I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist or anything, but to me it’s only common sense.

ParticipantKSC-20190228-PH_KLS01_0050s in NASA Social Briefing Learn About SpaceX Demo-1 Mission by NASAKennedy is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

As an author, I want my readers to gain meaning from what I write. As I mentioned above, not everyone will on the surface. This doesn’t mean we don’t create meaning in our stories. After all, the stories we write have to have some kind of meaning to them in order for there to be a story. Actually, we call it Theme. Finding a theme to center your story around can be daunting at times. Seriously, you can be sitting there in front of your computer wondering what theme to use. In the meantime your story is dying to be written.

The solution is simple. Just start writing your story. The theme will develop itself or will unfold in your mind, and you will have an “A-ha!” moment. This is how I write. I know that sounds backwards, but it works for me. Once you have your theme (a meaning your story centers around), put it down on paper. Yes, literally, write it down. Then go into more detail about it. For example, how can you develop your characters around your chosen theme? In which direction can you take your story now that you have your theme? Will your settings connect to it in any way? What about dialogue? How can you use your theme to increase tension?

Continue to ask yourself these questions. Then answer each of them. Again, do this on paper, not your computer. The act of writing helps it to stick in your brain better. At least it does for me. When you feel you’ve developed your theme enough, go back to your story and continue writing. All the while, you will be using what you wrote down about your theme in various parts of your story.

When I was half way finished with my second book, I realized I didn’t have a theme. As a result, it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue with the story. Then it dawned on me what the problem was. Lack of a theme. It didn’t take me long to figure out what it should be because I knew the direction I wanted my story to go. Plus I knew my main character well. All I had to do was go back and look at his character sketch. The answer was right there. It smacked me in the face, so to speak. Without that theme, the story fell flat.

Once I found it though, I had to go back to the beginning of what I had already written and insert story elements that developed that theme. It wasn’t hard to do. It was just time consuming. But I loved every minute.

Posted in Plot/Story

Creating Empathy

On October 6, 2021 I wrote a blog post entitled Connections. Toward the end of the article I talked about a character, Mary, who was in a heated argument with her boyfriend as they were walking along. They had come to an area or clearing where the sunset could be seen much better in all of its glory. The boyfriend didn’t notice it. He could’ve cared less, but Mary noticed it and enjoyed it so much that for a moment she forgot about the argument. In this post I said that the sunset itself had nothing to do with the issue at hand, which was the argument. It was a random occurrence. But it had everything to do with creating empathy for the character of Mary. Add to this the dialogue between the two. Maybe Mary’s boyfriend said something nasty to her. The reader will be affected by these words to in that they will feel for her/have empathy for her. Mary may not be hurt by his words, but the reader will feel for her anyway. Well, most readers anyway.

Photo by Cliford Mervil on

Creating empathy for your characters is what draws your readers further into your story. Feelings, as we all know, have a strong connection to empathy. The two go hand in hand. As a side note, not everyone feels empathy, so don’t worry if your characters don’t connect with some readers. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Empathy, or even lack thereof, also gives incite into your character’s personality. In the above scenario we come to understand that Mary loves the beauty of sunsets even in the face of angst. It also hints towards her sensitivity. In addition, deep down she doesn’t let something like an argument with her boyfriend get to her. This indicates strength to get through it and not dwell on it. It could also indicate she feels as though the situation between her and her boyfriend will get resolved. The point being, in the ugly face of an argument, she saw beauty.

Photo by James Wheeler on

What drives the feelings within your characters? The situations they are thrust up against. Let’s say we have a character named Jack. He’s 31 years old, a successful corporate lawyer, and married with one child. He finds out his wife is cheating on him. Over the eight years they’ve been married, he has given his wife everything. He supports her in all that she enjoys doing. There isn’t anything that indicated to him that she had been unfaithful. Until he walks in on his wife and her lover when he comes home to surprise her (I know. This is a typical scenario, but it works for the point I’m trying to make). Already the reader feels empathy for him, and we haven’t gotten to how he is feeling yet. Although, his feelings will be interspersed throughout the scenario anyway.

Everything, the feelings and situations, even the words characters say to one another can create empathy within your readers. They will be pulled into your story. You want this. Of course, there are other ways besides creating empathy that can pull a reader in as well. Here again, that’s another blog post.

Posted in Writing

Life Long Learning

The years spent writing my first novel weren’t just spent writing. What I discovered early on was that I didn’t understand how to put a book length story together. To be specific, I needed to learn story structure. Thus, great care was taken to spend time learning about the craft of writing a book. Much trial and error occurred, and through all of that I discovered what worked and what didn’t work for me.

Other story elements I had to brush up more on were story flow, word flow, grammar, plot, character development, dialogue, character emotions, the list goes on and on. This all takes time, yes, but it is well worth it. While I was learning and brushing up on these skills, I wrote as well. There were times of frustration, when I had to delete part of my story and start over. But the more I wrote and learned, the easier the whole process became.

The Moment of Meditation by Louis Surugue is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

You won’t be the best straight out of the gate. No one ever is. But the more you learn and learn continuously, and practice what you learned, the better and easier it will become. So where do you start? Start with your weakness. What areas of writing and grammar are you weak in? Start there and move forward.

Now, two books later, the ride has become more fluent. The words flow more, and I know way more about story structure than I did years ago when I first started. This doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else to learn. I still continue to learn. Learning is what keeps us going and maturing and moving to the next level.

Posted in Plot/Story

Story Trees

The beauty of a tree is intricate. There are so many parts, yet they are all part of one trunk. Everything comes together to make up the whole. We see the individual parts, but we also see the one.

Photo by Pixabay on

Stories work much the same way. There is one main story, but within it are ‘branches’ or ‘offshoots’ of smaller stories that, when you put them all together, make up the main story. The end result is one story with many parts within it. They all connect. With a tree if you take a part of it and replant it, it grows into another tree. The same applies to a story. If you take a part of the story, you can create another story.

Posted in Writing

Writing Prompts: Part II

Hello everyone. I hope your day is going well. A while back I published a post with some writing prompts. Here are some more.

Photo by Ian Turnell on
  1. As I shut my draw, something tiny and black flew into it.
  2. The cool water caressed my feet. But…
  3. I did a double take, when I passed…
  4. The day came when…
  5. “I talked to him yesterday. He said…”
  6. “You’re standing in my way. All I…”
  7. Choose an article in the newspaper, look at the fifth or sixth line, and use it to create a poem or short story.
  8. I reached into my purse then realized…
  9. Write a story about a talking gold fish.
  10. Write a story with the line, “Then he/she slapped me.”