On Finding Your Literary Voice…

“Your only obligation is to the honesty of the story.” What do you think it takes for a writer to show his own special voice?

twenty six

speaker

In reading literary reviews, or writing reviews in general, one note that commonly comes up how the author has found his or her voice. ‘This writer has found his voice…’ ‘She’s established her own voice…’ ‘His unique voice comes through loud and clear in his writing’. The problem with this note, for prospective writers in particular, is that it can be a bit vague – what does that mean? How can someone find their literary ‘voice’? Your ‘voice’ is your distinctive presence, your way of communicating a story, and in that sense, there’s not really any way a person can say ‘here’s how you find your voice’, because it’s unique, it’s who you are – and not only that, it’s who your characters are, the authentic voices of your story. It’s the voice of the piece needs to be reflective of the story and true to the reality of the…

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A WRITING PROMPT FOR THOSE WHO DON’T LIKE WRITING PROMPTS

“Dad, you had to CARRY your cell phone in your pocket?!”

Rotary Phone Cronin Detzz

My teenage son and I recently pondered what the future holds. What will persist and what will perish? What will his children and his grandchildren find hilarious about the previous generations?

Just in my son’s short lifetime, he has never:
– Used a rotary phone or heard a busy signal
– Saved a file to a floppy disk
– Seen the fuzzy gray static of a TV station off the air
– Turned a knob to change a TV station
– Rolled down a car window with a crank handle

Here is a list of possible questions his children might ask:
– You had to carry your cell phone in your pocket?
– You had to pump noxious gas into your car?
– Grandma wrote checks, and her signature was as good as the amount of money she had? How was that legal? It was like she was printing her own money.
– There were places where your phone would not have a connection?
– What’s a Twinkie?

Here is another list, much more insidious:
– You could carry a little book that allowed you to leave the country?
– There were places in the wild that you could go and no one could find you?
– You could refuse to consent to a search from a police officer?
– You weren’t required to join the military?
– You could make jokes and draw cartoons about the president?
– You could own guns?
– You could vote?

These are the very questions that fantasy writers attempt to solve. I have a deep respect for any novelist who ponders the future of technology and the direction of our political and socio-economic progress. Ask the younger generation what they believe the future will hold and you will have a great writing prompt.  Answers to these questions could make a solid foundation for a fantastic book.

What do you think the future generations will find funny about our way of life? Leave a comment!

Keep writing & keep sharing – Cronin Detzz

PLOT TWISTS: WHAT EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

After struggling for some time with writer’s block on my current work in progress about an uprising, I jumped ahead to playing with plot twists. Yes! It’s okay to jump ahead and write what you can. See more about fragmented writing here.

I’m not going to reveal my twists, but I will say that I implanted a red herring. My goal is to have the reader be very angry at the corrupt villain. This particular villain deserves to be detested, but the real villain – the powerful deceiver who is pulling all the strings – is not revealed until well after the mid-point.

Think about some of your favorite movies, and you will surely get some ideas for plot twists and surprise endings. “Book of Eli,” starring Denzel Washington, has a fabulous surprise ending. My husband and I pride ourselves in picking out Hollywood’s plot twists, so we watched the movie again. We wondered how we could have missed such a vital clue about Eli. You may have felt the same sense of wonder after M. Night Shyamalan’s “Sixth Sense.”

“HOW DID I MISS THAT?”

Fight Club-Cronin Detzz

K. M. Weiland writes a fantastic blog. I admire her because she shares my vision of helping other writers. In her post about writing killer plot twists, she states that plot twists not only need to be unique and executed cleverly, they “must also not take away from re-readability.” This is sound advice for anyone who may want to re-read your book.  Your readers should be asking themselves, “Wow, how did I miss that? I need to go back and re-read the clues. A link to Weiland’s blog is below.

You can click on a blue button to create a random plot twist by visiting pantomimepony (link below). It offers ideas like, “The sister marries the vicar,” or “The social worker unintentionally burns the note, believing it to be cursed.”

A link to an infographic can be seen by clicking the “Awesomer” link below. Many of these twists have been done before, and I wouldn’t advise literally using them, but they are definitely worth a glance because these pictures can get your brain moving in creative directions. For instance, one fun twist is the “robot reveal,” (think Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator”) but a twist you’ll want to avoid is “it was all a dream.”

As a matter of fact, if you are concerned that your twist is trite, read Huffington Post’s blog (link below). Here, you’ll find taboos such as: don’t tell us the aunt is really the mother or that Darth is Luke’s father. I cannot comment on some of this blogger’s pet peeves because I haven’t read some of the books listed, but I do agree that a twist/surprise ending should not be, “oh, never mind, that guy’s just crazy.” This kind of ending is in danger of punching all the teeth out of a story. I do offer this counterpoint: “Fight Club” pulls it off brilliantly. Read the book.

Writers should especially remember to structure the twist so that readers do not feel cheated. Sprinkle a bit of foreshadowing, water it with a few subtle clues, and have fun.

What are some of your favorite plot twists?

Keep writing & keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz

See the link to K. M. Weiland’s plot twist blog at: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/07/5-ways-to-write-killer-plot-twist.html

Random plot twist generator:  http://writers-den.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot-twists.php

The awesomer infographic:  http://theawesomer.com/42-essential-plot-twists/21034/

Huffington Post’s 7 awful plot twists:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/7-awful-plot-twists-were-_n_1148717.html