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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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Authors, Where Do You Find Your Characters?

Over and over again, I preach the concept:  ‘let it flow’, ‘let your characters take you on a journey’, ‘If it’s going well, I will happily be just the typist’.

I recently interviewed Dean Koontz and here’s what he said on the subject:

Photographer: Thomas Engstrom

“And then I start. In the first few chapters, the lead characters are forming, and I am learning who they are. I’ve often said that if I give characters free will, if I don’t plot out the story and instead present them with a problem and watch them deal with it, they begin to take on a life of their own, frequently surprising me with the choices they make. This is mysterious and exciting. When it’s going well, it’s simultaneously an intense intellectual endeavor and an almost dream-state journey of wonder and emotion.”

Author, Matt Jorgenson recently said when asked: Where do you first discover your characters?
“Initially I don’t think of them as characters. It’s kind of like arranging furniture. I need OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsomething tall here, wide there, elegant there. I often just plop them in for the energy they lend to the development of the story. When I’m unable to sit at my laptop and write I will often sketch out backstories for some of the characters with pen and paper based on what seems reasonable according to how they act/function in the story and then weave those details back in later.”

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Bragging….A Little Bit Is Allowed, Right?

Samuel French's bookstoreA few months ago I developed and published four Creative Writing Journals. The Samuel French Film and Theatre Bookshop in Hollywood carries these journals and are on their third re-order. I think they’re so popular because while there are 275 blank pages for the writer’s work, there are sections on ‘How To‘. Each page’s margin is embedded with an inspiring quote from a famous actor, author, playwright, poet, etc. I am so proud of these journals. Two of the four were created with female writers in mind. One for men entitled “Real Men Work Out….on Paper’.

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For Old Timers ONLY!!

I have a few gripes as I grow older and thought I would probably have an audience that can IM'ingrelate!

1. Please!  No child-proof caps on my medicine….these old hands cannot open them.

2. Whenever I say ‘thank you’ to anyone under 50 the answer I get is ‘no problem‘.  What happened to ‘you’re welcome’?  ‘No problem’ implies that whatever they did for me to incite a ‘thank you’ might have been a problem for them.

3. Change in driving habits:  decades before we put a name to yelling, flipping someone off, etc., it wasn’t road rage….it was freedom of speech. In my twenties,  I went so far as to make a plaster mold of a hand flipping ‘the bird’ so I could wave it out my window!  Now?  I am a meek and courteous driver…you want to beat me to wherever you are going….be my guest! more »

Attention! All Writers Out There!

There’s a BLOG out there that is dedicated to the art of writing and honing your craft. Yep!  I’m talking about mine and this is a shameless promo.  You won’t be disappointed.

For three years now I have published my posts twice a week and it’s always something about being a better writer.  Once a month I interview best selling authors such as Dean Koontz, Sue Grafton, Jeffery Deaver, Sherryl Woods, Anne Gracie, CW.CoverRaymond Benson, Lee Goldberg, Charles Bukowski and dozens more.   My goal is to inspire other writers to write more, tell their stories, try writing a play, or maybe some poetry.

Sign up on my home page  and receive an email with each day’s post.  Delete it if it doesn’t interest you.  It’s that simple.  Recently I have developed a series of ‘creative writing’ journals with ‘How To’ tips and famous quotes to inspire my fellow writers.  http://www.writeratplay.com/category/a-writers-take/ more »

Author’s Roaring Twenties Featured on UK Blog

Tara.Ford.photoAuthor, Blogger Tara Ford seems to love my writing….so much that she is featuring my books on her web site at Fiction Five Fridays.
Tara is a successful author out of the UK. To help support her fellow-authors, she has developed this clever Friday Special.  Visit her web site and wander around. You won’t be disappointed!   http://taraford.weebly.com/fiction-five-friday

The rules are simple – 5 sentences from a page with the digit 5 in the number. Short and sweet and readers get a little taste of what their favorite (or new) author is writing.

TODAY!  I have been chosen by Tara with my 5,5,5 contribution  (fifth day of the week, a five in the page no. and a five sentence excerpt) from a roaring twenties, hot jazz and cold gin, wild novel that I wrote about San Francisco:  “Wild Violets”WHAT FUN!!

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CREATIVE WRITER’S Journal and Handbook Now Available!

1.Creative.Write.BookCoverImage  Actor, director, playwright, author, Trisha Sugarek has created 305 pages of ‘How To’, Tips, Quotes, and  275 blank, lined pages for your writing.  ‘I have created this journal for writers of all genres.  Taken from my personal experience in the writing process, I hope it kick starts new writers to begin and more experience writers to continue.’

~~This spirited journal is designed to help writers open their hearts and minds. Much more than a journal for your creative writing, this handbook provides the writer with the ‘how to’s’ of writing. Tips, instructions and prompts to help you to hone your writing skill. Each blank, lined page has writing tips and quotes from other famous authors.~~

Available at www.amazon.com    

A writer is only a writer when he or she is writing. Thinking isn’t writing, research isn’t writing, doing anything other than writing isn’t writing. 

Neon.RMWO_cover_spine_REV84_copy

MacNeal’s release of new book Sparks Give-away!

Never one to break with tradition…..there’s a side story with regard to my enthusiasm for Susan Macneal’s writing. 

The first of the Maggie Hope spy mysteries, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  The author was fortunate enough to have had several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.

I was so taken by Winston Churchill’s pets having the run of the war offices….and how Susan wove this little fact (with many others) into her story so deftly.  At the time I was looking for lighter material to round out my collectionchurchill.CATBookCover.do of short plays for the classroom.  An idea came to me  of Mr. Churchill noodling away in front of his easel and Nelson, his cat talking to the audience; telling them something about the times that they lived in, an anecdote or two about the Prime Minister and of course, listening patiently to Mr. Churchill’s comments about the world at large.

July 1st,  the fourth and newest book in the Maggie Hope series will go on sale.
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Author, Trisha Sugarek Featured on Fiction ‘5’ Friday

Tara Ford, Author**Fiction,Five,Fridays

Tara Ford, Author**Fiction,Five,Fridays

There’s a very clever blog out there offered by author, Tara Ford of the UK. To help support her fellow-authors, she has developed Fiction Five Fridays.

The page features excerpts from various author’s books. The rules are simple – 5 sentences from a page with the digit 5 in the number. Short and sweet and readers get a little taste of what their favorite (or a new one) author is writing.

One of Tara's books

One of Tara’s books

TODAY!  I have been chosen by Tara with my 5,5,5 contribution  (fifth day of the week, a five in the page no. and a five sentence excerpt from one of my novels).  WHAT FUN!!

http://taraford.weebly.com/fiction-five-friday

This has been a very busy month here at my Writer’s Blog.  Tomorrow begins my Interview with author, Dean Koontz.  Then announcing a free book give-away of Susan Elia Macneal’s new release, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, and of course more storytelling by yours truly.  Hope you’ll come back often to visit and enjoy my blog!

 

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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!

In addition to my twice weekly blog I also feature an interview with another author once a month. So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!    Dean Koontz dean2photo_9will be interviewed by me June 28th in a two part sensational visit with this suspense-thriller mega-star.

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!