Moses Meets the Karaoke Killer, Part 1
by Joslyn Chase in Writers Workshop
11:14 am on April 19, 2019
Hello all! Thank you so much for coming by to read and give feedback. This piece is a spinoff, meant to be both [more]
If you’ve made it your mission to write, it’s probably because you love reading. Your life has been touched and changed by books you’ve read and stories you’ve heard since you were a tot, and now you want to create that experience for others. The irony is that once you start writing, it’s often difficult to find time for reading, and that’s just wrong on so many levels.
If you’ve ever run a marathon, or a 10K, or even a 5K race, you know that pacing is important. If you pour it on at full speed right off the starting line and keep that up without variation, you’ll run out of steam and be unable to finish.
You do the same thing to your reader if you don’t vary the pace. Fast or slow, if you don’t provide some variety for your reader, they won’t finish either. So let’s take a closer look at pacing and how it can help you create a better experience for your readers.
Perhaps you’ve heard the old publishing proverb: The first page sells the book; the last page sells the next book. I’m convinced there’s a mammoth grain of truth in that. The beginning and the end of any story are critical elements that you really want to nail.
Today, we’re going to focus on how to start a story—in other words, how you can craft a spectacular beginning that will hold readers spellbound and get them to turn that first all-important page.
Who doesn’t love to laugh? A good, healthy chuckle goes a long way toward making a character more likeable, and a reader more willing to stick with that character through difficult situations. Most stories, whatever the genre, benefit from moments of humor. Yes, humor writing is hard—but these strategies will give your writing the perfect blend of levity.
A favorite resource of mine when looking for inspiration is TED Talk territory. There’s a wide variety to choose from, they’re short, full of provocative viewpoints and stimulating ideas.
I perused the offerings pertaining to story this week and chose six TED Talks for writers, presentations worth watching when you need a boost or a reminder about why you’re doing this.
How do you create characters that resonate with readers, stirring their emotions and rousing their empathy? That’s the goal we all share as writers, right? What if there were a way to combine psychology and writing to make your characters come alive on the page?
To build characters that strike a chord within readers, you need to craft someone who feels realistic, someone your readers can relate to because their motivations and behaviors are modeled on the way real people think and act.
Psychology and writing go hand-in-hand. Both are about understanding how people think and act, and why. But you don’t need a psychology degree to write a good story—just a curiosity about the people around you.
To my knowledge, no one has ever claimed that the life of a writer is easy. Not without a heavy dose of sarcasm. Any process that involves the production of creativity on demand will mess with your head.
As writers, we deal with Resistance on a regular basis. And just when you think you’ve got it beat and you settle down for a long winter’s nap, the devious imp sneaks in and twirls a feather under your nose. He whispers nasty things in your kerchief-covered ears until you fly to the window and throw up the sash (too much sash is notoriously bad for the digestion).
Two of the most vital skills you should focus on as a writer are how to tell a story that works and how to develop compelling characters. But once you’ve got that figured out, aren’t there other writing techniques, more subtle perhaps, that draw readers in and make stories shine?
There are. And one of those writing techniques is called euphonics. Rayne Hall, author of the Writer’s Craft series, defines euphonics as “the use of sound devices for prose writing.”
Have you ever read a story that just falls flat for you and you don’t know why? Chances are it was missing one of the archetypical elements our brains are hardwired to seek out in a story. When you sit down at the keyboard, the last thing you want to do is write a story that fails to grab and hold a reader.
So how do you satisfy those hardwired expectations?