How Do They Do It? How is It Done?

How Do They Do It? How is It Done?
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Marin @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityhunter12/

It wasn’t until I began to read each and every day that I started thinking seriously about writing. Once I decided that I want to do something substantial with my writing, I began to look at the material I was reading in a different perspective. No, I didn’t start looking for errors per se, although I do see them. I’ll leave the error corrections up to my mom. (Are most moms as critical as mine?) But I did start looking at the format of what I read and the style the authors chose.

When I read, I study how a writer starts his or her story. Many start with the beginning of the tale, but there are those who start in the middle, or even the end, and go to the beginning in the middle section of the story. Those writers who don’t start at the beginning intrigue me.

How do they know where they should start so that they pull in the reader’s attention and keep it? Sure, you grab the reader’s interest just by writing something like, “Now that I’m dead, what am I suppose to do?” Sure enough, it draws that attention. But will the author be able to keep that interest going through the entire story? The reader may be in for a letdown. If that happens, the story is more likely to be put down collecting dust before the last page is read.

How the written material is presented makes a big difference. No, I don’t know this from my own experience (as if you couldn’t figure that out). I took a free course at the University of Denver that attempted to teach me about “written presence” in journalism. I can only assume that these lessons applied to all types of writing.

The “Snowflake Method”  of creating a novel seems to be popular in the realm of writing now. I tried it once. That was enough. Writing a story where you start with that one sentence that sums up the tale and working outward from there in all directions sounds complicated and confusing. I must be too conventional or something. A blogger I’m acquainted with said that doing the synopsis first would help those of us who are pantsers. I tried that too. This didn’t work for me either. However, now that I think about it, the “snowflake method” may help with the synopsis.

So far, I have read only a few books I’ve found to be sleepers despite the terrific beginnings. With most books I’ve chosen, I’ve marveled at the authors seeming to find it easy to keep the reader’s attention. How would I go about learning from these creative geniuses? I’m reading their books, studying and dissecting their methods to the craft. Yet, trying to apply their techniques to what I write is unachievable. At least, that’s the way it looks from my vantage point.

Many of these authors have a unique style to the way they approach their readers in their stories. This is something else I seem to have difficulty with. How is it that they can make me feel they are right there with me, reading their tale to me? I can tell you it isn’t because all of them write in first person, because not all do. Is it they read their stories aloud before having them published to assure the tone of the story is irresistible? Well, some do, but not all. Even so, does that have anything to do with the intense attentiveness they draw from me? I would say no. I know there are writers who would browbeat me for this opinion though. They’d probably say something along the lines of “If when you read it, it’s boring to you, it’ll be boring for the reader.” No duh! The thing is I read with my mouth closed. I think most readers do. Reading aloud still has its place though, just not for the solitary enjoyment. The eye-to-mouth connection helps point out errors that would never be found otherwise.

So, I still have these two questions tumbling inside my pea-brain. How do they do it? How is it done? Chances are there isn’t any set formula. There’s probably not even an open-end guide to help with these questions.

There are days when what I write or type fall into place like putting on a goatskin glove. It all fits so wonderfully. Other days nothing I write seems to jive no matter what I do. It’s the old “putting to round peg into the square hole” concept. Or is it the square peg into the round hole? Whatever—it just isn’t going to work.

 

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10 Replies to “How Do They Do It? How is It Done?”

  1. 1. Don’t believe anything your mother says.
    2. If you can tell a joke, you can tell a story.
    3. They say know what you write (write your experiences). If you have a diary with entries of five years – if you read the entries – the entry today strikes you the same as the entry five years ago,
    A writer asks a question: Why? Answer that question and write it out. That is a story with a character and supposedly it is about your own experiences.
    NOTE: A writer is not limited to the diary entries, their order and who is in them. You can compress or lengthen them: Five weeks or ten years. You may toss in a girl, and how that went. Perhaps a murder is appropriate.
    OBSERVE: If your diary entries today strike you differently than one made five years ago, the process is the same. WHY? etc.

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    1. I especially like that first one. The problem is though that 9 1/2 times out of 10 she’s right. It’s infuriating. I don’t have a dairy anymore. I haven’t had one since I was in junior high school. I do, however, get some unique ideas from real life. 😛

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  2. I had a wonderfully interesting (and enlightening) conversation with my 16 year old son yesterday when talking about writing in general and my writing specifically. We were discussing technique and voice. I’m a firm believer that there are a million ways to skin a cat–meaning, finding the writing process that fits best with you and the story you want to tell or the information you want to convey is a many, many year long process of trial and error. But it comes. My son said that the thing that draws him to my writing most of all is the fact that from the moment he begins to read something I’ve written, it feels as if I’m speaking–not writing.
    Firstly, I was gobsmacked that he actually read any of my work. Secondly, I know he’s not a fan of reading, but being sixteen, hearing my voice is something that typically falls pretty low on the list of things he loves. So I think it might, in truth, take him back to the days of my “storytelling” at bedtime.
    Finding that “storytelling” voice is a treasure hunt that is incredibly challenging, but wonderfully fulfilling. Don’t give up. Keep working at it, and keep asking for feedback. The framework will start to appear bit by bit. And it will grow comfortable. Like those goatskin gloves. A perfect fit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. I haven’t given up. I’m a stubborn soul. I know that ‘my’ voice is there somewhere just waiting for me to bring it out from under the rubble. 😉

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  3. Finding one’s process can be quite the trying task. Then novel I’ve been drafting alternates time periods every other chapter, which probably wasn’t the best choice for my first book. All we can do is keep trying various approaches in order to discover what best suits us as writers.

    The application of technique always trips me up, but I think it’s better to be a writer aware of that than not. You’re doing fine and extremely self-aware.

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    1. It’s time to give you inspiration. I know an author who’s first book was like what you’re doing, alternate times every other chapter. Her name is Carlyn Matthews. The book is Transforming Pandora. She’s just released her second book, Squaring Circles. You can find her at Amazon.

      Thank you for the vote of confidence. Often my lack of self-confidence/esteem gets in the way of the progress I want to make.

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  4. Like you, Glynis, I wish I was one of those people who could sit down to write a novel and the words just flowed out of me as they seem to do for some people… Those lucky few whose first books are huge successes and become best sellers even though they’ve never written anything before. I think some people are just born with that innate talent, the rest of us work and work at it. Don’t give up. You’ll eventually find your process that’s suits yo

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    1. I wonder if writing books is anything like writing music. The reason I wonder is there are many one-hit wonders in music and most didn’t have to try that hard for that one popular song. I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder despite my advanced age. I’m hoping I can get at least five books under my belt before I go to the happy hunting ground. 😀

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  5. So nice to see you posting again. I have struggled with this issue as well, and I put some time into studying. I have always been a “pantser”, but recently read “Outline Your Story” by K.M. Weiland, available fairly cheaply as an ebook. I have found that to be filled with great ideas, tips and suggestions. I have since begun a new story idea and it seems to be going better than most of my previous ones.

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    1. I had a subscription to K.M. Weiland’s blog but I wasn’t getting much out of it anymore. I had taken some courses ay Writer’s Digest through snail mail and what Weiland was posting was a repeat for me.

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