I sometimes have to give up on a book without finishing it. Why? Because I can’t read through a long information dump. It’s just too boring.
Almost every writer has a dream about breaking out—or achieving best-seller status. Many of us think it’s an impossibility, but recently I read something to change all of that.
Last night I watched an episode of ‘My Cat From Hell’ that was of particular interest to me. Teaching kids to treat their pets with respect.
The episode showed a family with two cats, one that was so laid back it didn’t seem to care what the kids did with it. It just flopped about in their arms and allowed them to tip it upside down and one kid ever tried to put it into the refrigerator. Basically, the child treated it like it was a stuffed toy. The other cat, understandably, was terrified of the kids, and scratched and spat whenever anyone reached out a hand toward it–or a foot as one of the children did, threatening to kick it.
My peeve is that some parents don’t seem to notice, as was the case with this family. I don’t imagine for one second that they would deliberately be unkind to animals. They’re just uninformed. The cats or dogs either submit to a life of hell, or rebel, and get sent to the shelter or euthanized because they are considered dangerous.
I commend the cat whisperer, Jackson, for his patience and consideration in this episode, in which he admitted he knew nothing about kids or how to get through to them, but he did, in fact, achieve this. He even took the time to visit the children’s school and teach their classmates how to treat animals–what to do and what not to do and how to pet them. By the end of the episode the problem cat had gone through a surprising transformation, and obviously realized the children were no longer going to hurt her.
Writers who do research on psychopaths will often include an episode in which their antagonist does something to hurt an animal, although it is not recommended that you go into any great detail. Readers find it easier to read about people being tortured than animals. Perhaps our empathy for animals comes from their innocence–and the same goes for children. No animal–or child–is born with a cruel and nasty temperament. If they become aggressive, it usually has something to do with the treatment they get from the humans around them.
If ever I visit a home in which children don’t seem to understand and have never been taught how to treat animals, I am quick to take them aside and explain to them that animals have feelings too. I hope you guys reading this will do the same.
(I am an incurable animals lover, and always try to include them in my stories. In the Redneck P.I. Series, Twila’s rescue dog, Scratch rides on the back of her Harley with her in a special metal basket fabricated by Twila’s Pops. In Aquarius Addiction, Arlette Xylander’s crazy black cat, Marbles seems to know what’s going on when the Voodoo queen performs a ceremony to find out what secrets the old mansion holds in its walls.)
Good writers understand the importance of the first line in their novels. Readers these days don’t have a lot of time, and they don’t spend more than a few minutes evaluating a book. If the first line is boring, they may not continue reading.
I’m currently participating in an assignment to send two alternative first lines to James Patterson. He will choose the most popular — the ones that get the most shares and re-tweets.
Here are mine, from my upcoming novel Virgo’s Vice, which is the third in my Zodiac Series:
I’m thrilled to have just finished writing the first complete draft of my debut psychological thriller, and novella, “Sheer Panic.” Although I had already started writing this story with no outline, and not knowing how it would progress, I decided to stop and get the outline down.
Here’s the start of it.
1. Tori avoids Roderick, ‘the Freak’ as she enters the cafeteria at college. He has been harassing her for a while and she is afraid to report him, in case he retaliates. (Here’s where I know I should make a new chapter — each chapter should be one scene.) Later, Dorky Dorian tries to flirt with her when she is putting her stuff into her locker. Her friend Janet tells her she’s weird because she has opted not to go to Panama City Beach at Spring Break. Instead, she has agreed to babysit her niece so her sister can go. She never discusses the real reason she is afraid to go with her friends.
2. One afternoon when Tori is taking her neighbor’s dog, Panda, for a walk in the park, Dorky Dorian tries to force himself on her and the dog attacks him. Panda’s owner, Mrs. Stanley tells Tori she should get a dog of her own for protection. Tori reflects on her love life. She knows it’s a total disaster, and if she had a steady boyfriend the weird men would leave her alone.
3. Tori is friended on Facebook by Lance, the boy she chased at high school to no avail. Although it seems a little odd that he has suddenly had a change of heart, and decided to pursue a relationship with her, she is still totally smitten with him, and she goes along with it. She hopes it will turn into something serious, and take her mind off the stolen kiss with her sister’s boyfriend, Dan that has been plaguing her. (This scene needs something to make it more exciting.)
4. Tori takes her niece, Shari horse riding and sexy Joaquim …. etc.
Once I had completed the outline, it was easy to write the story, although it’s still in the first draft rough format. I found that I deviated a little from the outline when I came up with a better idea, and as I went along, I changed the outline at times. I love the finished draft.
Here are some other things James talked about in his videos:
- First lines — We all know it is essential to capture your audience right away, yet so many writers start with something mundane and boring. Mine is: “I just don’t get why your love life is such a total mess,” Janet said. “It’s just not right. It’s not that hard. You must be the only nineteen-year-old in the whole school who isn’t getting laid.”
- Be yourself. Imagine you’re sitting across the table from your best friend telling them the story of a movie you watched. If you wouldn’t use pompous and puffed up language and fancy words when speaking to them, you shouldn’t be using them in your writing.
- Try writing a couple of different endings. Make them as outrageous as you can. I did this and absolutely loved the new one I came up with. It was far more exciting than the original ending.
- Try writing the same piece in the POV of more than one character. You could fall in love with a version you never thought about before.
- Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Whatever works for you is okay. We’re all different, and so are our readers.
- Do your research. Don’t just wing it. You must know what you are writing about to build credibility.
- Don’t be afraid to rewrite if it doesn’t feel right to you.
More in my next post.
According to the paper written by psychologist Carl Jung, and the conclusions drawn by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, there are sixteen basic categories into which humans can be typecast.
Known as the Jungian Type Scale or Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, the theory is that every individual has a primary mode of operation within just four categories:
our flow of energy
how we take in information
how we prefer to make decisions
the basic day-to-day lifestyle that we prefer
We “prefer” to be either:
Extraverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented.
Extraverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence.
Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.
Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.
intuition—perceiving in unconscious way or perception of unconscious contents.
feeling—function of subjective estimation
Extraverted Sensing (ESFP, ESTP)
Introverted Sensing (ISTJ, ISFJ)
Extraverted Intuition (ENFP, ENTP)
Introverted Intuition (INFJ, INTJ)
Extraverted Thinking (ESTJ, ENTJ)
Introverted Thinking (ISTP, INTP)
Extraverted Feeling (ESFJ, ENFJ)
Introverted Feeling (INFP, ISFP)
The tests available on the Internet are quite diverse, but fun to take.
“Trish is the corner man every author should have in the publishing ring.” I was thrilled to get this wonderful review from Canadian Kevin Zdrill after I helped him with his newest novel Crazy Mixed-up World. (Click here to buy it on Amazon.com.)
Find out more at: http://www.youselfpublish.com
Don’t you just love the pictures on Facebook? I don’t know where people find them but I’ve been sharing them like crazy with other writers recently, and I thought why not share them on my blog?
This is the first one I really like. It hints at the power we hold in our hands–or should I say in our heads?
This is particularly true when writing romance. You’re far less likely to meet anyone in a salad bar. We all know alcohol does tend to make people bolder than normal. It also makes them do crazy things. And who wants to read about normal stuff?
Pinterest use is growing exponentially, which makes sense because humans are predominantly visual creatures. We use our sense of vision much more than any other of the five (or six) senses. I’ve done quite a lot of searching on Pinterest, and I found not many authors are taking advantage of the exposure it offers. That’s good for me, because I have created several boards showcasing books, including mine, naturally.
I think a lot of people are scared to use Pinterest because it works a little differently and it takes time to learn how to create boards and pins. Basically, it’s like hanging a cork board on your office wall, and pinning photographs or articles of interest from glossy magazines onto it. Others can repin your pins (select something you have pinned on your board, copy it, and place the copy on their board.) You couldn’t ask for an easier way to advertise. Also, because it is digital, you can add videos.
I’m still learning, but I love what I’ve found out so far. Here’s a screenshot of my profile, showing some of my boards.
I will be happy to pin anyone’s books onto my boards or help them create their own.
The titles of mine:
Sizzling Romantic Suspense
Really Funny Romantic Comedy
Awesome Books Set in Africa
Books Worth Buying
I also have a board showcasing each of my own novels, plus a couple of other interesting topics.
Now I’m starting a board to highlight and link back to my blog postings.
To follow me or access my boards, click on the Pinterest icon at the top right hand side of this blog.
I’d love to include everyone’s books on my boards, so please comment with your Pinterest link or contact info.
More info on how to use Pinterest: