A Writer’s Look At Storytelling: Comparing Crafts

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Last week, Kait Nolan posted about telling bedtime stories, (which you can read here) and the discussion got me thinking about the art of oral storytelling.

Long preceding the written word, storytelling is a craft quite unique from ours. Like comparing apples and oranges, storytellers and writers have things in common, but there are also many differences. The writer searches painstakingly for the perfect words, drawing a reader in with intricate details that add depth to characters and plot. The storyteller, like the writer, develops a story with a beginning, middle, and end… but they are very selective of the details they include, relying upon tone of voice, dialect, facial expressions, and body movement as added tools to connect them with their audience.

I’ll admit I’m not much of a storyteller. I can relate actual events of my day to people. I can tell a joke and get the expected response. What I’m lousy at, is telling a good-old once-upon-a-time—the stuff I love to write the most. So… does my way of analyzing these stories as a writer get in the way of my attempts to tell an effective story? I believe that may be my problem.

Do you have any personal storytelling experience? Tell us about it! Have you had the opportunity to listen to a professional storyteller—to consider the similarities and differences in our crafts?  Feel free to chime in and share your thoughts. Would love to hear from you!

Laura Ritchie

Literary Bullying?

I read this post today from the blog, Write In Between. The writer talks about the attitudes expressed to her for showing an interest in popular fiction rather then focusing on that which is “literary”. This got me thinking….

Lately I’ve come across several displays of judgmental intolerance concerning the written word. You know them–the stone-throwers–people who can’t come to terms with the fact that not everyone is just like them. There are many who thrive on building themselves up by tearing others down. But if you are a writer, behaving toward others in this manner is almost as smart as shooting yourself in the foot.

I said almost as smart…

But, not quite.

Recently I came across a blog spouting horrible insults at any woman brainless and pathetic enough to ever enjoy reading a romance novel. Turns out the writer is a fiction author. I think he writes “guy” novels–action, espionage and the like. I suppose he believes his own writing is far superior to anything the romance genre could ever produce. Who knows. He could be right.

Here’s the thing…

I sometimes read “guy” books. I was such a voracious reader as a girl, I would often pick up stuff my dad had lying around the house. As long as it wasn’t too violent (I’m not big on horror) I’d read it. Even now, I am still drawn into these types of books from time to time. And I doubt I’m the only reader in the world who is tempted to cross genre lines and try different things. So… do you see what this guy does? He cuts off a portion of his own potential audience by slinging his vicious attitude directly at readers of a certain genre.

Might I enjoy reading one of his books? Maybe. Will I ever buy one for myself or as a gift? Not a chance.  Perhaps I am stupid enough to to read the occasional romance novel. I, however, am not stupid enough to give this jerk my money.

To wrap things up, I’ll say this: every author has the absolute right to act like a pompous ass. We would never deny them that right. On the other hand, readers have the absolute right to choose which authors they do and don’t support. If you are a writer, even one who is not yet published, do yourself a favor and always keep that in mind as you tweet/Facebook/blog your opinions to the world. It only takes one thoughtless comment to destroy a career.

And if you experience “literary bullying” here’s my advice. Read the genre you want. Write the genre you want. Be who you are!

Laura Ritchie

The Rules Have Changed for Authors

I’ve learned so much about the whole

“Social Networking” thing these past few months, and I just wanted to share this blog by Donna Newton.

The balance has shifted. Nowadays, the majority of published authors find they are responsible for most, or all, of their own promotion. Donna offers sound advice to prepare writers for that eventuality, and some great books that will guide them along the way.

http://donnanewtonuk.com/2012/03/16/so-you-want-to-be-an-author-part-three-social-media/#comment-1677

Keep Writing!

Laura

A Book Review on Kristen Lamb’s “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media”

I haven’t blogged for a while. That’s because I’ve been busy having my world turned upside down. Someone said, “A writer MUST have a blog,” so I made one. Somebody else said, “Start a fan site on Facebook,” so I did. Then they tell you to build a what? A platform? How the heck do you do that?

Well, you start by reading We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide To Social Media by Kristen Lamb. Am I a social media success story? Seriously, people… it’s been, like, a week since I read the book. No. Baby steps. Or they will be baby steps when I get that far. Right now I’m doing that thing babies do before they crawl. You know… the squiggling around on their belly stage? But I’m beginning to “get” it. It’s not quite as terrifying as anticipated, and best of all, it’s attainable.

If you are a writer with no idea of where to begin, or you have been making efforts that aren’t progressing as you’d hoped, check out this book.

Anyway, here’s my Goodreads review:

Laura Ritchie‘s review

Feb 25, 12    5 of 5 stars

bookshelves: non-fictionfavoritesfabulouswriting-help

Read in February, 2012

I came across Kristen Lamb’s blog, and after reading a few posts, I immediately purchased two of her books. “We are Not Alone” is a great tool for writers trying to find their way in the big scary world of social media. You will learn a lot about setting up your accounts on sites like WordPress, Facebook and Twitter, but more importantly, you learn what you should do with those sites once you have them.

Her clear instructions and great sense of humor ease the process, however, you should be aware that there have been upgrades made to the social networks, so some of the step-by-step instructions won’t be spot-on.

Ms. Lamb is the first person to make the concept of “building a platform” seem achievable to me… not just that, but made me happy about jumping in with both feet. I look forward to reading her next book: “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer”.

Keep writing!

Laura

Bracing for Impact–The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm

This blog tells it like it is, and gives clear strategies that could change things. Are you listening Big 6? Barnes & Noble? Get with it, guys!

 

Bracing for Impact–The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm.

 

A Great Writing Resource for Fiction

Just finished one of the best books I’ve ever read on story structure. Some complained that the author repeated himself a lot, and I can see their point on that, but it wasn’t really an issue for me. I guess I was busy trying to absorb everything as best I could, while picking apart my own works-in-progress in my mind. I have finished this with a lot of new ideas to put into play, and some excitement that the knowledge imparted here will get me closer o where I want to be. My Goodreads review:

Feb 13, 2012
5 of 5 stars
Story Engineering- Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Succesful Writing

I have only found a couple books on writing over the years that gave me more than just a few gems of useful info, but I have to say that this book was pure gold!!! If you are writing fiction, it is a must-have. I learned so much about story structure, character building, scene creation, theme… the list goes on and on.
Those who do little or no pre-planning before starting a story will be terrified of the ideas here, but I already used simple outlining to put my stories together. This just takes it so much deeper. We aren’t talking formula, but he clearly explains what nearly all good stories have in common, and how you can put those structural examples to work in your own writing. I take my goal of achieving publication very seriously, and I truly believe this is a tool that will help.
Keep Writing!
Laura

My First Literary Contest

Contests: Anyone else going for the blue ribbon?

I follow several blogs on writing, and came across a post about the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association) Literary Contest. So, after reading up on it a bit… and mulling over the idea of spending the $50 entry fee… I decided to enter The Enduring.

There are a dozen categories:

1. Mainstream
2. Historical
3. Romance (electronic only)
4. Mystery/Thriller
5. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
6. Young Adult/Middle Grade
7. Nonfiction/Memoir/How-To
8. Screenwriting
9. Poetry
10. Short Story
11.  Children’s Picture/Chapter Book
12. Adult Short Topics (Article/Essay/Short Memoir)

My work went in under the YA/Middle Grade category. They allow 28 pages max (including a one page synopsis.) I took a few days to make sure everything was in order, then shipped it off today.

Now that it’s done, I started looking into a couple others that interested me. Does anyone else out there participate in this kind of thing? Any words for or against?

Let me know what you’re thinking! And, in the meantime…

Keep Writing!

Laura

My Writing Goals for 2012

20071126-todo-list

A fellow blogger wrote a good piece about setting some writing goals for 2012, and I thought this would be a great plan for me. First of all, I love to make lists. It’s something about the sheer joy I get from check-marking tasks as they are completed. My way of presenting myself with a pat on the back or a gold star, I guess.

Also, with a  mind that spends a great deal of  time in my own personal Never Never Land (I warned you—unrestrained fancy.), I need occasional reminders that keep me grounded. The plan is to hang my list across from my desk. That way I see it all the time, and have no excuse for forgetting things.

Several of my items concern the internet. I’m planning to set up my website this year. Also, I want to blog regularly, and stop ignoring my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’ll be sending out queries for The Enduring, and as soon as I finish the major edit in the works, Heart of the Jagdiip will start going out again too. I wrote a few chapters of the sequel to TE, and I’d like to complete the first draft this year. There’s another story idea on the back burner that I’m trying to develop enough to get a rough outline laid out. Then, I added one goal to read 2 new novels a month, and another to spend on night a month gaming or watching movies to give myself the occasional break.

It’s a pretty tough list. Knowing my schedule, things might not get done as quickly as I hoped. But I thank S.A.M. for inspiring me to actually put together some kind of game plan!

 

Keep writing!

Laura

Thankful and Moving Onward

Thanksgiving Day is done and gone. Family and friends ate their fill, took whatever leftovers I could force upon them, and still managed to leave me with a refrigerator packed to the gillsLeftovers. And now, late at night while things are quiet, I find myself sitting here in a state of reflection.

Like many writers hoping to build a career around what they love, my life is divided between family, what folks refer to as a real job, and countless hours staring at a computer screen in a corner of my home. So every once in a while, I have to think about my choices.

Sure, if I weren’t writing, my house would be cleaner. Meals would be better planned, and the laundry would get done more often. I could spend more time hanging out with friends, and the checkbook might get balanced properly once in a while. And what about the other side of this? What about the personal ups and downs of writing?

Earlier this year I was offered the opportunity  to submit The Enduring to a publisher attending Dragon Con. Needless to say, this filled me with oodles of glee, and I jumped into revisions the moment I arrived home. In addition, I  re-wrote my synopsis to meet their requirements—a minimum of ten pages, and containing the complete emotional story arcs of every major character. Then off, via email, it went.

I wish I could say this story had a dramatic ending with someone offering me loads of money for a multi-book series, but alas, things didn’t work out that way. I did get a helpful, and very complimentary reply, and an offer to submit future works. And so it goes—a dose of excitement, one more disappointment, then a big twist of hope tacked on the end. Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way….

I guess that means the laundry and the dusting will wait.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Keep writing!

Laura

Fun @ Dragon Con

Approaching dawn from my hotel window

My first Dragon Con has been great! We arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 31,  and our room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza was gorgeous. Almost made it worth the $200 a night price tag….

I attended a two day writer’s workshop with Jody Lynn Nye, and it was a wonderful experience. I learned so much. Each participant sent sample pages in advance for her to critique. I was kind-of excited about getting her input on The Enduring. Jody also selected a few works to be critiqued by the entire group. Mine was among those chosen, so I came home with a huge stack of notes from everyone! Yay!

Oh, and did I mention all the panels? I wanted to spend all my time just running from one to the other. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet so many writers, as well as a agents, editors and publishers… but I had to occasionally remind myself this was supposed to be a family vacation.

Hey, Laura! Remember those other people staying in your room?

Hmmm… when I stop and think about it, they do look vaguely familiar.

Okay, so I took some time  for other stuff as well. I didn’t make it to either Buffy panel (bummer), but my family did get to do some fun things together. And we spent hours in the Exhibitor’s Rooms, the Dealer’s Room, Artist Alley, and we visited the Walk-of-Fame areas more than once.

Now I’m headed home. It’s back to work tomorrow—a terrifying thought, since I know all will be in total chaos. But once things settle down a bit, I will turn my focus to putting what I’ve learned to use. And then? Edit. Edit. Edit.

Keep writing!

Laura

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