Posted in emotions

The Tension Factor

Components of creating tension:

  1. An opposing force
  2. Unanswered question or questions created by the situation or by other characters within the story and keeps readers asking more questions thereby raising their curiosity
  3. Danger, fear, or conflict
  4. Increased danger, fear, or conflict that ebbs and flows as the story moves along
  5. Engaging characters with opposing goals

If you’re having difficulty coming up with specific ideas that will create tension/suspense, think of it this way, play on your main character’s fears. Make them as uncomfortable and fearful as possible. Throw the works at them. Just don’t forget to give them the courage to work through that fear and accomplish the story’s goals.

Posted in Description, setting

Awaken Your Setting: Part 2

Be sure to include detail within your setting that relates to time. For example, describe a setting that takes place in summer. A summer that is above normal temperatures could pose a threat. Or, maybe it doesn’t pose a threat, but it does give a clear indication of what time of year it is. Maybe the heat is depicted by way of the droopy leaves of the plants on the patio of the house your character lives in. Is it winter? Everyone knows that winter can present risks as well.

Posted in emotions, Fiction

Conveying Anger

I talked about emotions in previous posts in months past, but today I’m going to focus on one of them. Anger. I’ve said it before, you don’t merely want to tell the reader that your character is angry. You want the reader to FEEL the anger…right off the page.

Bad Example:
Dan was angry at the sight of his girlfriend in the arms of another guy.

Good Example:
Dan stopped short and did a double take, as he passed through the student union on his way back to his dorm. It couldn’t be her. No, no. His eyes betrayed him. After all, he saw the back of her head. It could be any girl. His brain wanted to leave but his feet stood glued in place, and his eyes were pealed on that one girl. Was it her? Was it Ann? Then, as if in slow motion, the girl turned her head, her eyes stopping on his. She smiled, then leaned in toward the strange guy and kissed him full on. A heat swelled within his chest. Why was she doing this? If she wanted to break up with him, she could have said something instead of this show. The heat within continued to swell and his nostrils pulsed. Before he knew it he was upon the both of them. His fists clenched to his sides.

Posted in setting

Setting (Paint Your Picture Continued)

Photo by Maria Orlova on

Where are you? What does that place look like? What feeling does it convey? Is it essential to the story? Did something significant occur there?

When you are selecting settings for your story, the reader must know where the story is taking place. More importantly, they want to ‘see’ it and ‘feel’ it. You may have just read the previous sentence and said, “Well, duhhh.” I kid you not. There are some writers out there who don’t pay enough attention to their setting. It leaves the reader scratching their head. I’ve read books where I have had to back track because the setting wasn’t paid its due diligence. I don’t know about you, but I picture in my head what I’m reading. It plays out like a movie. If I can’t see it, the story lacks that flow. Once you hook the reader on the first page, you want to keep them.

Posted in Description, Writing

Creative Burst

You can take a piece of something intoxicatingly boring and mundane and give it that creative flare. I call it “dressing it up”. Take the pictures above for example. Yes, I agree. They go on forever, or so it appears. Some would see beauty in them; some would see lack of an appeal. I see both actually. I didn’t grow up in an environment such as this, so the vast open plains give me a sense of beauty and allure. But there isn’t a whole lot to them. They’re just a road that goes on for miles, some hills, a sparse amount of trees, grass, and sky.

Now, take these same views, turn out the sun, and watch the stars come out. Now that is truly jaw dropping. Here there are no city lights to drown out the night’s sky. Here it is pitch black outside at night. You can get a blanket, lay it out, lay down and gaze up at the stars for hours. Better yet, the moon. I once saw a harvest moon out in the open like this. I was driving at night on I-70 through the state of Kansas. I looked out my driver side window and saw the biggest moon I’ve ever seen in my life. Talk about spectacular. I wanted to reach out and grab it, it was so huge and close.

In writing, we want to capture these beautiful scenes on paper. We want to capture the boring ones too. Either way, we writers can spice it up if it’s lacking or keep it as is. That’s one of the things I love about writing. We create and it’s anything goes. If your imagination sees it, your hand can write it (or type it).

Posted in Description

Painted Words

When I was in the U.S. Navy Reserves back in 2005, I did my annual training on the USS Bohomme Richard LHD 6. At that time smart phones weren’t really a thing yet. A lot of my friends including myself had the flip phone and there was no camera on it. So, when I went on this AT, the ship sailed from San Diego, CA to Seattle WA. Since I didn’t have a camera on my cell phone, I had to take with me a couple of disposable cameras. Well, I really wish I had taken more of those cameras because I ended up running out of film. Here I was sitting on a park bench looking out over the bay in Seattle watching cruise ships and viewing the vast and majestic Mt. Rainier feeling the light breeze and enjoying a rare blue sky and sunshiny day, and I had no camera to capture it all. What did I do? I took my journal out and painted my own picture of it with words.

Think outside the box here. Do this your way. Free write this description and get down any and all words you can that describes everything you see and go back later and cut and change what you don’t want. On the other hand, you can slow down, breathe, enjoy the fresh salty air floating up off the water being carried by the breeze. Close your eyes, listen to the sounds, smell the scents and then take out your journal and pen/pencil and ‘paint’ your picture(s). You will be surprised at what your brain comes up with. These two methods are what works for me, but I much prefer the latter.

Keep this and all writings you have because they can be used later in a short story or a novel or two. Doing this also allows you to see how you’ve grown in your writing as time goes by. I recently went back to one of my journals in which I ‘took a picture with words’ and reread it. It was from a vacation I took with my husband and kids in 1997. As I was reading it my mind began making some mental changes to what I wrote that would make it better. My thought here? OMG I can use this in my next book. Oh the discovery of it all. Writing is truly fun.

Posted in Action Words

Action Description

Action is action, or is it? I consider creative writing to be equal to painting on a canvas. Just like a paint brush glides across a canvas, so too does a writing utensil move across a sheet of paper and fingers type words across a blank screen. In each case a picture is created. The difference lies in how we see it; words vs. a literal picture, but words create images in our mind that we see as we read them. How easily we see these pictures depends on how well we use the words that create them. Also, both ways create feeling, but they do it in different ways.

There are two ways to create pictures with words. One way uses adjectives (or descriptive words), which I’ll talk about in future post. The other way uses action words (otherwise known as verbs). In so doing, there are different ways to describe one particular action, but you want to do it in a way that allows the mind’s eye to see it and focus on it better yet create feeling at the same time. Note the sentences below.

Sentence 1: John walked slowly to his car after a long day at work.
Sentence 2: John trudged across the parking lot after a long day at work.

The first sentence is weaker because, even though we see the action, it doesn’t give off any feeling. Not only that, but using an adverb, such as slowly, weakens the action. We can’t feel how tired John is as he’s walking across the parking lot. However, sentence 2 is stronger and more direct because we are better able to not only see the action clearer, but we feel how tired John is as well. I’m pretty sure most of you can identify with this after a long day at work yourselves.

This isn’t something you are going to up and do right off the bat as you’re writing your scenes, chapters, short stories, etc., because you don’t want to stop the flow of creativity. So this is what I recommend: write first, inspect second, fix/change third. Everyone is different, so work it in a way that makes sense to you.

If you need assistance finding stronger action words, there are a wide variety of resources out there to look at. Below are a few of them.

Here are some helpful links

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