Author Archives: Ruth Ann Nordin

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out http://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.

Stages of Writing a Book: Post #3 (Writing the Book)

In this video, Janet Syas Nitsick and I discuss the actual writing part of creating the book.  You will have to find your own way of fitting writing into your schedule, but the key is you need to find time to write because if you don’t, the book will never get done.

So you need to explore what system works best for you.  For the busy mom, that might be writing in the midst of interruptions.  For someone with a “day job”, it might be writing during a break or when you’re at home.  Someone else might find it best to write at night, and someone else may write first thing in the morning.

Another factor is what your goal is for the day/week.  Maybe you want to have a daily/weekly word count goal.  Maybe you want to sit down for a certain amount of time each day/week.

Another factor is whether you want to plot our your book, write by the seat of your pants, or a mixture of both.

Also, some people write only one book at a time, and others can write a couple at once.

Find the methods that work best for you and do them.

But the bottom line is you need to write.  There will be days when you don’t feel like it.  Sometimes, you’ll just have to make yourself do it, just as you’d have to make yourself work at a job someone hired you to do. If you’re serious about writing, you need to do it.

Now, there are times when it really just isn’t working.  No matter how much you try, you can’t write.  In cases like this, find something else you can do during that time to be productive.  This could be writing and scheduling blog posts (which is what I’m doing today).  This post won’t go up until May 3, but I’m getting it set up on April 12 on a non-writing day.  Another thing you can do is catch up on your emails, work on your website, come up with a cover idea for your next book, or engage in social media in a meaningful way (meaning, no games or looking at pictures of adorable kittens).  You can do the games and look at pictures when you’re in your “free time”, not during your writing time.  The writing time needs to be dedicated to your business in some way.

Out of curiosity, what is your writing routine like?  Are you writing all throughout the day like I am?  Or do you set aside specific times to write like Janet does?  Do you have word count goals?  Are you a plotter, panster, or a mixture of both?  What methods work best for you?

Categories: General Writing, Schedules & Routines | 6 Comments

Writing With Heart: Creating the Emotionally Engaging Character

Someone recently asked me about writing with emotion.  This is really about creating the emotionally engaging character because if you don’t write emotion into your character, the reader won’t connect with that character on an emotional level.  It’s hard to explain the difference between a great story and an emotionally satisfying story because the distinction is subtle.

ID 31772681 © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

ID 31772681 © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

Write With Your Heart = Showing

Emotion-driven writing isn’t about telling your reader what your character is feeling.  Something like, “She was afraid she’d fail the test” is telling the reader what the character is feeling.  It’s also more than simple actions like gulping or trembling or crying.  Those things are all about writing at the head level.  It’s skimming the surface of the emotional journey your character is going through.

Emotion-driven writing is delving deep within the character and being right there in the moment, going through everything your character is as the character is going through it.  It’s writing at a heart level.  You don’t have to tell the reader what the character is feeling or doing.  You show it.

That’s the distinction between head writing and heart writing.  Head writing involves telling.  Heart writing involves showing.  If you can understand the difference between telling vs. showing, you will have an easier time understanding the concept of writing an emotionally engaging character.

Two Exercises To Try

The best way I can think of to explain the concept of showing is through two exercises, one that gives you a negative experience and the other a positive one.  You need to embrace both the good and bad when you are writing in your character’s point of view.  A character needs to be third-dimensional in order to effectively engage with the reader.  (Characters who are all good or all bad tend to be boring, too…at least in my opinion.)

When you are doing these exercises, write in first person.  The closer you are to these emotions, the better you can understand how to show (instead of tell) when you’re writing your story.  I encourage you to write these out as if you were writing a scene in a book.  Include dialogue.  Include actions.  Include feelings.  Pretend you are writing a play-by-play account from a time in your own life.

If (for any reason) you cannot handle doing the exercises below (esp. #1) because it’ll make things too hard on you, don’t do them.

Exercise #1:

Close your eyes and remember a time in your life when you were afraid.  Really scared.  What was happening?  What were you doing?  How were you feeling? What did the other person say or do, and how did that make you feel?  What were you thinking?  How did things progress?  Go into detail.  Don’t gloss over any of it.  You want to get so deep into the moment, you are going through it all over again.  Write down everything as it happened, and when you’re done, end it with how things ended.  Were things resolved?  Were they left unfinished? (And how do you feel about that?)

Now, take a break until you relax and feel better.  If you delved deep into this aspect of your past, you will be worked up.  This is what you should experience when your character is scared, by the way. When my characters are scared, I’m scared with them.  :)

Exercise #2:

Close your eyes again, but this time remember a time in your life when you were happy.  This is the happiest moment of your life.  What was happening?  What were you doing?  How did your actions make you feel?  How did the actions of others around you make you feel?  What was being said and done?  Who was doing and saying what.  Explain everything in detail.  And how did it end?

~~~

I purposely ended with a good emotion because it’s easier to walk away from a good memory than it is a bad one.  But the point in the two exercises is to think of how you are writing when you are in your story.  Also, think about how your body reacted as you wrote out the two exercises?  Go ahead and write down what happened with your body.  Did you shiver?  Did you warm up?  Did you smile?  Did you frown?  Did your eyebrows furrow?  Did you grimace?  Did you wince?  Did you look behind you because you thought you heard something (this would apply to #1).  How was your heart beat changing?  Etc, etc…

Tune Into Your Body’s Cues

Go into each and every single emotion with your character.  Be on the journey with them.  Good or bad, explore all of it.  Let your body react.  If your character is mad, you will probably feel your heart rate increase and your breathing go faster.  Maybe you frown or grow tense.  If your character is embarrassed, your face should get warm.  If your character is hungry, you should get that familiar hunger pain.  If your character is excited, you should be smiling.  If your character finds something funny, you should either smile or laugh.  If your character is in love, you should have a light feeling in your chest and smile (at least little bit).

Your body reacts to emotions you feel.  When your body is reacting to what your character is feeling, you are showing. You are in the moment with your character.  You are connecting on an emotional level with your reader.  You are writing with your heart.  This is the aim of showing.

That’s the best way I can explain it.  If anyone has anything they can add to help explain the concept of showing, please do. :)

Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Stages of Writing a Book: Post #2 (Research)

In this video, Janet Syas Nitsick and I discuss research when you’re writing your book.  Some people like to  research before they start writing their book, and others like to start the book and research as they go along.  You need to do the best method that works for you.

Possible avenues of research is looking things up on the Internet, going to the library, reading books, going in person to a place, and talking to someone who knows the topic well.  Sometimes if you visit a place, you can take pictures or take a tour.

One thing to watch is how much research you’re doing.  You want to do some, of course, but you don’t want to do so much of it that you forget to write the book. :)

Categories: General Writing | Tags: | 5 Comments

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