Welcome to an entire month of Top 5 Tips for Authors!
Every day this month my friends and I will bring you a new set of Top 5 Tips to help you along on your author journey. 2017 was a year of change in the Indie author world for sure. So many happenings. So many new things to learn. So many old things that didn’t quite do what you’d hoped. Well, every day is a new day. And every year is a new year. So we hope that this month’s worth of tips will get you the kick start you need to make 2018 your best yet and please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.
My second guest blogger is Violet Vaughn is also V. Vaughn (that’s her paranormal romance name) and she’s a USA Today Bestselling author. Violet lives on an island in Maine and spends almost every day walking through the woods. She may have seen a bear once or twice…. You can check out her contemporary romance books here and her paranormal books here, or visit her website here.
Novelists are creative people. We spend our days making things up, and most of us have more stories in our heads than we could write in a lifetime. But sometimes those tales can begin to feel flat. Here are my five tips to nurture creativity and breath new life into your writing.
Steal Other People’s Stories (kind of) –
I have a longtime friend who is an amazing storyteller. We go way back, and one of the things I admire most about Ellen is the way she can have an entire room full of people hanging on her every word. Ellen was the life of most parties back when we were single, and I’ll admit at times I was jealous, as were many of our other friends. Was it because she was so much more interesting than the rest of us? No. Ellen did two things amazingly well. She was able to hear a story and turn it into her own. With embellishments and twists Ellen made an ordinary life anecdote became exciting.
Now that I’m a writer I’ve taken her technique and adapted it to my work. I don’t steal stories, but I use pieces of them. One of my favorite ways to do this is to sit at a restaurant bar near a couple. I ask how they fell in love. The two will tell the story, and it’s fascinating in so many ways. I watch how they interact while they talk. Of course there are two versions, and while the couple interrupt each other with corrections and tell their tale I take in facial expressions and body language that enhance their story. I remember the little things they say they found attractive. These small details fill my well of ideas and I can pull them out to help create a realistic love story.
Tell Yourself a Stranger’s Story –
My daughter goes to college in New York City. Last month I visited her and we spent an afternoon in Central Park. As we sat on a bench people watching we played a game I used to play with her when she was young. We pick a person and make up their story. It used to be a wonderful way for me to understand what my little girl’s hopes and fears were, but now it’s become a great tool to create a wide range of characters.
Read Outside Your Genre –
It’s easy to get immersed in your favorite tropes and familiar prose that goes along with it. When I find myself describing the same things the same ways I reach out beyond romance to spice up my writing. I think about a book I’ve clutched to my chest because it was so good I didn’t want it to end, or the passage I’ve stopped and reread slowly to savor for the visual it created. I revisit the author in something new and dissect what it is that pulls me into the writing so I can take it to my own work.
Watch Good TV –
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and many other channels make binge watching shows without distractions easy. I hone in on really good shows like Grey’s Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Gilmore Girls, and Breaking Bad. These shows continue on for multiple seasons because the story and characters connect with the audience. The way we want to connect with our readers to keep them coming back for more. Viewers care what happens to their fictitious friends. Figure out why. Soak in the character development. Take note of the body language the actors use to convey emotions. Pay attention to the twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. Identify what makes you mad, nervous or sad. Take that knowledge and apply it to your stories so you too can give your readers intense emotions with or without zombies and drug dealers.
I wrote hundreds of novels of my own life as a child. Some I retold myself over and over to make them better, and let me assure you, the adventures I had were amazing. When I began to write I discovered I inherently knew what a good story was, and I credit that skill to years of daydreaming.
Imagine you’re sitting at the dentist waiting for the appointment that was scheduled a half hour ago. Don’t pull out your phone to check in on Facebook or to play a game, daydream instead. Become the heroine in your next story. Throw away your real life and become her. Who would you like to walk through that door and sit across from you? How would the conversation start? What would happen to make sure the two of you would see each other again? You may just plot your next novel.
It’s easy for a writer to fall into a rut. The business side of a self-published novelist takes up precious hours, and often the time one has to write must to be spent getting words. Stories are fleshed out on the page instead of formed in one’s head where they can be recreated easily. Looming deadlines can affect creativity. But if one takes the time to nurture creativity, an author can write richer stories that resonate with more readers and garner more fans. Sit back. Soak up the world around you, and let the creativity flow.