Writers Groups by Kristi Bradley

Writer’s groups can be an acquired taste. Some swear by them. Others swear at them.

I tried on several groups, had a few bad experiences, too, before I found a good fit with Malice in Memphis Mystery Writers. I didn’t consider myself a mystery writer at the time, but I was intrigued by the talent in the group and the temptation of a publication credit they offer their members by issuing anthologies.

So, don’t be afraid to try out a writers’ group. Walk away if it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fit your needs, and try another. It might take some time to find what you’re looking for. You might even have to start your own. Some of our members drive an hour and a half to reach us.

It makes a world of difference to associate with like-minded people who understand the trials of the business and the voices in our heads.

Check out Malice at http://www.maliceinmemphis.com or find us on Facebook.

Why Writers Face Their Deepest Fears by M. B. Weston

I’m sitting in front of my computer with shivers literally traveling down my arms. I can’t imagine how my poor character is feeling… Except my character is a Navy Seal. Named Tom… [Cue the excitement from the Elysian Chronicles fans…] He might not get as scared as me, but I guarantee you he’s not happy I’ve written him into this situation…

Writers know that creating tension in a story is vital. It means we put our characters in tough situations that we might not necessarily want to write about. It means manipulating our reader’s emotions. Your characters might need to experience sadness or terror in order to make the story better, even if you as the author don’t want to go there.

Unfortunately, we authors often have to experience the same emotions our characters experience. This especially includes me. I’m a “method writer.” Like a method actor, I have to put myself into the character’s head. I have to “be there.” That’s why I can’t just write an outline and have it work. I have to create more of a pre-draft because I literally have to go into the story and hear, see, and feel what my character feels.

So when Tom is scuba diving off the coast of Norway and has to go into an uncharted cave, I’m there with him. When he has to make a decision when the cave forks, knowing that his air is dwindling, I’m living it. And when a sea monster comes at him…

Yeah. I’m the one who has to endure the surprising sight of teeth and scales while squirming backward in a tiny sea cave trying to remember which way to go to escape and hoping the cave doesn’t become my tomb…

All from the safety of my writing desk. But I’m still feeling the shivers…

Here’s the funny thing about creating stories: the sea monster wasn’t planned. Neither was the cave. Tom was just supposed to go down into the ocean and get some samples. However, letting my imagination take control sometimes allows it to access my inner fears. I’m a certified scuba diver, and I have a fear of going into underwater caves because I’ve heard too many horror stories about cave diving without training. And I live in Florida where sharks and alligators are real threats. But getting into the story and letting my imagination take over is when the magic of creation happens.

It’s also when you might see an author jump out of her skin in a coffee shop.

For the writers: make sure you spend time in your hero’s head to get the most out of your story.

For the readers: remember to thank your favorite authors for enduring all of that emotional turmoil so you can enjoy a good story.

It’s All About Writing: Opening Lines

Your opening lines are the first impression of your story. It sets the tone of the story and sets the expectations for the reader.

Join authors Angelyn Sherrod and Allan Gilbreath for their exploration of this topic in this It’s All About Writing Seminar.

Recorded at the Germantown Community Library.

Be sure to Subscribe to the Dark Oak Press & Media YouTube channel.



Are You a Plotter or a Pantser by Kristi Bradley

The difference in a plotter and a pantser is a plotter plans out their novel with an outline before they begin writing and know where the plot is going all the way to the end. The pantser doesn’t outline, literally flies by the seat of their pants and has more flexibility to turn in any direction, allowing the story to take them wherever it leads.

A plotter may have to update their outline numerous times during the writing process. An outline is just that, an outline, not the plot written in stone. The plot is subject to change. As we write, scenes often take turns we didn’t expect; necessitating the need to update the outline on a regular basis, or even throw the whole thing out and start over.

A pantser doesn’t have to worry about updating an outline but can just as easily write themselves into a corner because they didn’t plan ahead.

Neither type is right or wrong. Your process is yours alone. The same thing doesn’t work for every writer. I’m a pantser, but something I do is a reverse outline. I usually know where I want the story to lead before I begin, and let the words take me where they will. I do track plot points in each chapter as I go so I can quick reference later.

Catching What the Writing Muse Flings at You (Part 3) by M. B. Weston

Writer’s Hack 4: Aqua Notes. For some reason, most of my ideas occur in the shower, probably because it’s the only time I actually relax enough to pay attention to the muse. Before I discovered Aqua Notes, I would think up wonderful patches of dialogue and scenes, but I’d lose them by the time I could write them down. Then I discovered Aqua Notes: a notepad with waterproof paper–I kid you not! It has suction cups, so it sticks to the shower wall (as does the included pencil), and the individual papers stick to the tile as well, meaning I can use both sides. Aqua Notes have saved my writing life quite a few times. Note: these actually cost money, but if you are a shower thinker, they are worth it.

Obviously, when all else fails, pull out that pen and paper you keep with you for emergencies…
Visit me at MBWeston.com for more fun.

Hooking your Reader by Kristi Bradley

Just as a fisherman needs a hook to catch fish, writers need hooks to catch and keep readers. To do this, start and end each chapter with something meant to keep the reader reading to reach THE END. There is no need to ask a literal question at the beginning or end, but leave the reader with questions so they are compelled to turn pages to find the answers.

This can be a challenge, but it’s not as hard as you might think. My favorite first line is also the last line and the first chapter in Stephen King’s Needful Things.

You’ve been here before.

There you have it, the need to turn the page to find out why you’ve been here before.

Look, don’t stress yourself with this process. Write the story, then go back and work on your hooks. You might find they write themselves. Pay attention to best-selling authors and how they do this. You probably weren’t even aware of the author’s hook hooking you until you’d been hooked.