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You’ll receive (in an email) weekly posts with the latest book reviews, tips about creative writing, and once a month an in-depth Interview with a best selling author or a new, upcoming writer.  Generous folks, famous and not so much (yet) have given of their time to answer my probing questions about their writing process. Fun and interesting candid photos, of the author, are sprinkled throughout the interview. 

Sometimes a post about something I thought was interesting…..But, ALWAYS to do with books, authors, writing, words, and live theatre.

My best selling post (over the past six years) has been my free tips about ‘How To Write a Play’. Thousands of people have Googled this phrase and come to my website to begin to learn this craft.

When I’m not busy with my blog, I am writing….every day. I practice what I preach! 
Short plays for the classroom, general fiction, children’s plays and fairy tales,  poetry and a true crime mystery series. Diversity is the
spice of life!  
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz. March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese

 

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Writing Non-Fiction, by Guest Blogger Kai Nicole

TS. I would like to welcome this wonderful writer with a lot to say about what most single people are thinking about. Enjoy!

When I think about the experience of writing a nonfiction book I have to look to my other experiences to try and figure out how to describe it. Honestly, since I am currently writing a script, which is technically fiction, I find that writing a nonfiction book is very similar. I think the major difference between writing fiction vs. nonfiction is the purpose for which they are written. Fiction is written for the purpose of entertainment whereas nonfiction is written for the transfer of information.

While I was writing my book, Date Like A Woman, my purpose was to share the knowledge I had around dating and relationships that I noticed many women didn’t have. My purpose was to give others an opportunity to “pick my brain” about dating without actually knowing me personally. Through my book I become a close friend that my readers become connected to. My book becomes a window to my thoughts and insight, not for the purpose of entertainment or escape as many fiction books are but as a resource and place of comfort to help my readers along the way.

I think this is the motivation behind nonfiction writers. We write to share information. And, if you are also entertained, well, that’s a bonus. However, whether writing fiction or nonfiction, you are drawing from your personal experiences. For me, I was not only drawing from my experiences but also from what I had learned from reading and research. The biggest difference between fiction and nonfiction books is that nonfiction books have to have evidence of being truthful and plausible. There has to be an effort to support the main premise of the book as true. Fiction doesn’t have this restriction. Nonfiction writers must be able to tout their “knowledge” as true, which is not an easy task.

Authors of both nonfiction and fiction must draw on personal experiences to create a story, nonfiction being a truthful story, fiction being a possibly true story. But, only nonfiction authors must back their stories up with evidence of truthfulness.

I am sure other authors, whether of fiction or nonfiction, can attest that when you are writing, you rarely just make up a false scenario. While the fiction writer may have the liberty to embellish more than the nonfiction writer, there is usually truth to every story. I am having this very experience now as I write my script. Many of the scenes that I am creating in my script are drawn from very real experiences in my life. While the story is fiction, much of what I am writing is true.

Now when it comes down to it, I don’t see writing fiction or nonfiction as easier than the other. Both require major effort on the part of the author. Good writing is a long and arduous process. As best said by George Orwell, “Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

And let’s just say, most authors, myself included, have a demon they will never get rid of.

Kai Nicole, Author

Date Like A Woman

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with Actor PLaywright, Rick Lenz (part 2)

…with wife

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

RL. I sure do. I don’t think I’d stop sometimes, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got a body and that it gets tired, hungry, thirsty, and sore from remaining in the same position too long.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

RL. I wrote a book last year that is now complete except for some editing. I’m not yet sure when it will be published, but I hope soon. It’s about an old actor, devoted to his wife, who made a few mistakes during his younger years. He gets a chance to redo those years, but discovers all he really wants to do is get back to his wife.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

RL. I switched my acting career from first priority to second about 15 years ago. Writing took its place as my great passion.

Q. How long after that were you published?

RL. It took me eight years to write some books that were publishable.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

RL. I don’t believe that will happen.

Q. What makes a writer great?

RL. Since writing is very much a craft (plus inspiration, of course) I think the major factor is wanting—no loving—to write and doing it until you get good. I’d add one thing to that: nothing you write is sacred. If it’s not exactly what pleases you, throw it away and rewrite it until it does.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

RL. It is never the same for me. The book I wrote last year unfolded itself within a year. My first two novels took me over 10 years to get right. My memoir, North of Hollywood, took only about a year. I really can’t say what the whole process looks like. I think if I knew that—and this is speaking only for me—I wouldn’t be a very good writer.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

RL. I came from a very dysfunctional family. It was often painful at the time, especially during my teenage years. So, that was certainly a factor. After that, I spent most of my life as a professional actor; my show business life, as a theater actor in New York, and a Hollywood actor, living in Los Angeles, has had a big influence on my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

RL. I read, exercise, meditate, and spend my most joyful times with Linda and my children and grandchildren.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

RL. I have been a playwright (as well as an actor) for most of my life. I prefer writing books now. As to the genre of my writing, some people call it fantasy, but I do like to try to make it as a literary as I possibly can.

…with grandson

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

RL. I think life is meant to be joyful. But in order for that to be the case—again, speaking for myself—I have to constantly practice kindness, forgiveness, and the continual understanding that God loves me no more than He loves everyone else.

Don’t miss Part I of this wonderful interview.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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New Book in the Series, World of Murder

Book #10, Winter of Murder adds a new chill to the series. 

 

Detective Stella Garcia visits her grown son in the wilds of Alaska. He is interning with a field biology team. Their visit allows them to reunite after R.J.’s six month absence. Stella is delighted to spend quality time with her son. But murder has followed her north to the wilds of this vast winter wilderness and dead bodies start showing up in and around the Native village. Weather forbids local law enforcement from taking on the investigation and Stella is recruited as a murder consultant.

Caused by the absence of Stella, Detectives O’Roarke and Sneed deepen their professional relationship.  Once again they are called upon to solve a murder that was meant to look like an accident.

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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How To Write a Play, The Arc

What is a story arc, you ask.  The dictionary defines a story arc as ‘(in a novel, play, or movie) the development or resolution of the narrative or principal theme’. Story arcs are the overall shape of rising and falling tension or emotion in a story. This rise and fall is created via plot and character development.

A strong storytelling arc follows this principle. It shows rise and fall, cause and effect, in a way that makes sense. An example is from one of my stage plays, Women Outside the Walls. Right before intermission, my antagonist, Charlie (an inmate) took the entire visiting room hostage, with a knife. Who wouldn’t want to come back (after intermission) to see what happens next? 

It is my belief that the story’s arc, in a stage play, should happen right before the intermission. More people than you can guess will leave at the intermission. So my theory is to ‘hook’ them and make your audience want to come back in and sit down.

 

A whole should have a beginning, middle and an end… A well constructed plot … must neither begin nor end at haphazard.’ Aristotle

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Guest Blogger, Adam Durnham, on Writing

How to Improve Your Creative Writing Skills by Adam Durnham

Creative pieces are usually meant to entertain, but since readers often want more than mere entertainment, they expect literary pieces to challenge the mind and tickle the imagination. For some, writing or reading literary pieces could also be a form of art therapy.
Though these standards are quite simple, they may put more pressure on writers. The more advanced readers are, the higher the standards they set for the authors’ literary pieces.
Here are four tips that can help people improve their creative writing skills:
Do not underestimate your readers’ ability to understand and imagine
Leave room for your readers to imagine the back story, the motivation of the characters, and the exposition (the elements that explain the story). You don’t have to reveal all of these in graphic detail all at once. You can give clues or foreshadow some events in the story, but be careful about revealing every element at the start of the piece. Let your readers use their imaginations and formulate theories.
Identify the key points of your story, specifically taking note of the following:
i. What is the main goal of your protagonist? Try to create a protagonist who is interesting or unique in some way.
ii. What are the relevant actions your protagonist takes towards the completion of his or her goal? The protagonist of the story could make conscious decisions that drive and direct the entirety of the story.
iii. What are some unexpected outcomes of the protagonist’s decision(s)?
iv. What are some details related to the literary piece’s setting, tone, and dialogue that can help you reveal the story to the readers?
v. What is the climax of the story?
vi. Will readers find any morals from the story?
vii. How will the story end?
Pay attention to character development
To create realistic, multifaceted characters, it is important to understand and describe characters. To help you develop your characters, consider examining one or more of the following details:
● Name
● Age
● Appearance
● Family and relationships
● Ethnicity
● Drinking habits
● Likes and dislikes
● Strengths and faults
● Illnesses
● Hobbies
● Pets
● Phobias
● Religion
● Job
● Residence
● Sleep patterns
● Nervous gestures
● Secrets
● Memories
● Temperament

Including such details can make it easier to define your characters. They can help you mold your characters, build storylines, and create dialogue. You might want to consider

● Appearance: Create a visual understanding for your readers so that they can vividly imagine what the characters look like.
● Action: Instead of simply listing adjectives to define characters, describe the characters’ actions to tell your readers what the characters do and what they’re like.
● Speech: Don’t kill the story’s momentum by explaining the plot in great detail. Instead, try to reveal the plot through your characters and their dialogue.
● Thought: Show your readers how your characters think. Show them the characters’ hopes, fears, and memories.
Create a great plot
A story plot tells us what happens in the story. Writers establish situations, identify the story’s turning points, and determine the fate of each character.
Plots are the sequence of events arranged by the writer that reveal the story’s emotional, thematic, and dramatic significance. To create a great plot, it is important to understand the following elements of the story:
● Hook: The stirring or gripping problem or event that catches readers’ attention.
● Conflict: A clash between characters and their internal selves, or between different characters, or even between characters and external forces.
● Exposition: The back story or background information about the characters and how this background information relates to the rest of the story.
● Complication: A problem or set of challenges that the characters face that make it difficult to accomplish their goals.
● Transition: Dialogue, symbols, or images that link one part of the story to another.
● Flashback: Something that occurs in the past, before the current events of the story.
● Climax: The peak of the story.
● Denouement: The story’s falling action or the release of the action that occurs after the climax.
● Resolution: The solution of the external or internal conflict.

Writing can be challenging if you don’t know the techniques. It can be a form of art or art therapy if you come to master it. Techniques and tips can help you build the literary skill you need. Practicing them can give you the experience to produce creative, well-crafted work.
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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The Euphemism Treadmill…

John McWhorter

I recently saw an interview (too short) with John McWhorter, linguist, teacher and author. He spoke of our euphemism treadmill and how it relates to our everyday speech and language. I was fascinated! 

If you follow me, with any regularity, you know that not only is my chief craft writing, but I am also fascinated with words, their origins, our slang, our euphemisms, and colloquialisms. If we step off the euphemism treadmill, or never get on in the first place, we are quickly unplugged by what people around us are saying.  I give you an example:  I recently wrote another play for teens and I thought, ‘opps, I’d better check teen euphemisms/slang just in case it’s changed since I last used such words as: ridiculous, sick, cool, etc.’ Yep! They’d left me in the dust…none of these words were ‘cool’ anymore.  

Teen Slang 2018

Woke – as being aware, and “knowing what’s going on in the community.” It also mentions its specific ties to racism and social injustice.
Bruh–A casual nickname for “bro”

Idts.–I don’t think so
Ngl– not gonna lie
Fam–Their closest friends
GOAT–Acronym for “Greatest of all time!”
TBH–Acronym for “To be honest”
It’s lit–Short for “It’s cool or awesome!”
I’m weak–Short for “That was funny!”
Hundo P–Short for 100% sure or certain
Gucci–Something is good or cool
Squad–Term for their friend group
Bae–Short for “baby.” It’s used as a term of endearment for a significant other such as a girlfriend or boyfriend. As an acronym, it stands for “Before Anyone Else.”
Curve–To reject someone romantically
Low Key–A warning that what they’re saying isn’t something they want everyone to know
Salty–To be bitter about something or someone
Skurt–To go away or leave
Throw shade–To give someone a nasty look or say something unpleasant about them.
Straight fire–Something is hot or trendy
Sip tea–To mind your own business
Thirsty–Being desperate for something

Writers: Be judicious and thoughtful when you use slang or euphemisms in y our writing. It can quickly turn into lazy writing. 

My blog is filled with word craft, origins of words, slang, and euphemisms. My least favorite euphemism is Snap! = a concise, or biting remark was just delivered. And ‘no problem that has replaced ‘you’re welcome’ as the universal response to ‘thank you’.  Hate it!

My favorite will always be the post about Mr. Crapper, the plumber. 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Guest Blog by author, Rick Lenz

‘Delete’ Clever ~~ Make Room for Honesty ~~ by Rick Lenz, author

When I was a young writer, I made my living as an actor. During the first half of my acting career things went well. I tried to be as honest as I could in my work, but when I was offstage or off-camera, it seemed to me the best thing I could do was to be “cool.”

Between jobs, I worked hard on my notion of who I was and wanted to be. Without knowing that’s what I was doing, I convinced myself I had an image to build and protect. Like many young professionals, I thought it was important to be clever. If I said a cynical thing and got an appreciative laugh that was the kind of thing I wanted to learn to say more often. I was “hip.” On the surface anyway, there were very few things cooler than being hip.

The word isn’t used much anymore, but I desperately wanted to be and stay hip. When you’re young, people often seem to react positively when something cutting, or biting, or just plain mean is said at someone else’s expense. Often, I’m afraid, that’s a fair definition of what “hip” was at the time and “cool” often is now.

Those things wear thin very fast. A constant onslaught of clever soon gets to be something you want to turn away from. Clever too often turns out to be cruel.

Meanwhile, my writing, which became more and more important to me, suffered from the fact that I’d spent much of my adult life trying to invent my cool and clever self, the artificial me. It turned out that persona—for me—was not only an uncomfortable place to live, it was an alienating way to be a writer—and a writer cannot afford to alienate his reader. For years my writing suffered from that voice.

If you’re cruel, cruelty is what will come back to you. The wisest voices of the ages have not said, “Judge not lest God will judge you.” They’ve said, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

It’s not some outer power that’s going to come after you, seeking retribution. It’s you yourself, who will unconsciously (in most cases) know for sure that payback is coming your way. And it will get you and it will pay you back. In kind.

It took me far too long to learn that the most important thing I could do toward becoming a good writer was to be Don Quixote “In search of honor.” One of the synonyms my dictionary gives for “honor” is “mark of respect.”

It’s a wonderful thing to give your reader a “mark of respect.”

That does not mean that you can’t be witty or funny or even clever when that’s called for. But underneath whatever it is, readers deserve one thing from us beyond our professional due diligence: our respect.

Come back for my Interview with Rick in March ’19

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (Part 2)

Q:  How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A: Before I got this cool writing gig I did time in the corporate and academic worlds so I often use elements from those experiences in my plots.  I’m convinced that every writer has a core story. We spend our careers exploring it.  My core story is romantic suspense—a murder mystery entwined with a passionate relationship.  I love that combination.  The love story raises the stakes in the suspense and the danger raises the stakes in the romance.  When I plot I try to make sure that every twist in the suspense affects the relationship and vice versa.  This is true across the three time zones in which I set my stories:  historicals, contemporaries and futuristics.

When I was growing up my formative books included Nancy Drew and Andre Norton.  But it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I came across the book that changed my life:  Anne McCaffrey’s RESTOREE.  Looking back, I think it’s clear that she pretty much invented the futuristic romantic suspense novel with that one book.

Q: Have you or do you want to write in another genre? 

A: There has always been plenty of room for my stories in the romance genre. In my opinion it is the least confining of all the genres. The others all seem to have rather strict conventions and expectations—writers violate them at their peril.  But there is plenty of scope for storytelling within romance.  The settings can be historical, contemporary, futuristic or paranormal. The sexuality can be sweet or intense. The suspense can be anything from a serial killer thriller to a cozy plot.  Romance writers are  free to deal with almost any social issue.  No limits, really.  All that is expected is a romantic relationship and the HEA.  Works for me.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JAK. I was recently introduced to boxing as a workout and fell in love with it. Which is a good thing because  I love to cook AND eat and, therefore, I need the workout!

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JAK. Nope.  As has been noted, the paper book is still the simplest and best way to preserve information and stories because it can survive hundreds of years.  Our technology, on the other hand, evolves so fast that anything preserved in that format will probably be impossible to read even a hundred years from now. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JAK. Voice. It’s impossible to define but in the end it is the only thing that really matters.  If the writer’s voice is not compelling readers will not finish the book.  But here’s the sticky part — no two readers respond to a book in the exact same way.  Everyone brings something different to a book and everyone takes something different away.  Readers will fall in love with a lot of different voices over the years. 

Q. and the all-important:  What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?  

A. One scene at a time. 

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

A:  Figure out your core story early on.  Every writer in every genre has one.  It has nothing to do with a particular fictional landscape.  It is all about the emotions and themes and values that compel you as a writer.  Once you truly understand your core story you will realize that you can take it into any genre.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Motivational Moments #40– Dust off a book you’ve written…

…and put out a new ‘edition’. I wrote Book #1 of my true crime series, Art of Murder, back in 2011.  Circumstances (I fired my publisher) led me to review and rewrite this book. Adding a new dynamic cover, new title  (Brush with Murder) and added 6000 new words. A love interest walked into Ben’s life and I pulled that thread. 

Most indie publishing platforms allow you to change the ‘interior files’ post-publish and change the cover when you’ve rewritten the book. In my case, since I was also changing the title, I issued the book as a new ‘revised’ edition. The new cover, by my illustrator, David White, is sexy and hot! He does such terrific work for me.

I recommend to all writers to review things you’ve written and even published. Only good things can happen! 

Now available!  Brush with Murder and Shadow of Murder 

Coming Soon!  Book #9, Triad of Murder

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 Coming Soon in Audio-Books:
(Beneath the) Bridge of Murder
Video of Murder
Shadow of Murder 

 

 MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.
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