Characters: The Emotional Touchstone Readers Crave – Written By Kristen Lamb

Characters are critical for stories that resonate. Why? Because characters are the conduit that connects the reader and vests them in the story problem. They’re the emotional touchstone that allows for catharsis, because—when written well—it doesn’t matter if the character is a space alien or a federal agent, we (readers) can relate to them in some way.

We can’t empathize with technology, spaceships, magic, or nuclear submarines. Humans can’t bond emotionally to a place (without the characters as the connection).

For instance, we CARE about Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth because we care about Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf. And, because Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf care deeply for Middle Earth and the Shire…we do as well.

Story is like the wall socket that’s connected a tremendous power source. But, how useful would those wall sockets be if all the gadgets in everyday life didn’t have plugs? How useful would a bunch of dead gadgets be?

We cannot have story without characters and can’t, conversely, have characters (DIMENSIONAL characters) without story.

Readers read stories, but great stories read the readers.

***I know we’ve talked about all this before, but since I am pathologically honest, I feel the need to tell on myself. I cracked a back tooth and had major dental work last week. With all the drugs? I actually have a completely new post almost finished, but it’s been like pulling teeth…bada bump snare.

*cries*

So please forgive the refresher.

Moving on…

CONTINUE READING HERE

Change Matters: How to Write Stories that Grip Readers & Don’t Let Go – Written By Kristen Lamb

Thank you so much, Kristen Lamb, for another educational blog post on how to write stories properly and keep the reader interested. We all appreciate your hard work!


Change is one of those concepts that gets a mixed reaction. Depending on personality and/or age group, change could be welcomed…or greeted with a metaphorical shotgun at the metaphorical door. While change is necessary for all living things to grow and thrive, plants have proven far more open to this notion than people.

I’m betting it’s because plants don’t overthink everything…unless they’re orchids which are high-maintenance and die while writing bad haiku (if they had hands and pen and paper).

Existential plants have a far tougher time, unlike weeds. Weeds just roll with anything that comes their way, and that’s why we can pour concrete over them and it’s no big deal. They simply mumble to the nearby crabgrass, “Hold my beer and watch this!”

*makes crack in new driveway* I’M BAAAAAACK!

All kidding aside, many writers miss the point of a story. Stories are about change, and the more the protagonist (and, to be blunt, all members of the cast) change for good or bad, the better.

Change & Plot

I know what it’s like to have writer brain. We see the world VERY differently than ‘normal’ people. Some see a roll of old carpet at the curb? I’m counting if all family members are present. Just yesterday, I had some fun over on Facebook with this…

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Sales: How Can You Sell More Books When You’re Terrified of Selling? – Written By Kristen Lamb

Sales can be one of the most terrifying words in the English language. If one happens to be a creative professional, let’s just multiply that fear level by ten…or a thousand.

In fact, many writers spent decades longing to sign with legacy publishers for the sole reason that they believed a major publisher would tend to all that vulgar sales business for them so they could simply write and create!

*clutches sides laughing*

It’s cool. I once thought the same. We’re all friends and philistines here .

The first hard truth is that, even if we are fortunate enough to score a contract with a major publisher (scant few that remain), if our book doesn’t sell, the publisher will eventually have to cut their losses (‘losses’ being code for ‘writers who fail to sell enough books’).

Second hard truth? In the modern publishing era, Big Six Publishing has been replaced with self-publishing, indie publishing and smaller, more efficient boutique publishers. Again, building a brand and book sales will largely be on the author.

Regardless of size, publishers are businesses not charities, and throwing good money after bad is better left to Hollywood. This said, the idea of having to ‘do sales’ is still enough to make many creatives break out in hives.

Which is why I am here to help.

CONTINUE READING HERE

EVIL: Our Love-Hate Relationship With Mischief, Mayhem & Destruction – Written By Kristen Lamb…

Another great post by our favorite humorous educating blogger, Kristen Lamb. Thanks so much for all you teach us, Kristen!


Evil fascinates us, and has since the dawn of human consciousness. I continually emphasize that humans are story creatures, which is good news for writers, since we’re in the story business.

Though not all stories face off evil directly, all stories must include conflict to be considered a story. Conflict isn’t, per se, evil, but great storytellers paint with words and black is only the farthest extreme. Some stories might demand a LOT of black, but others will likely run along the spectrum of “evil.”

No, the department’s budget cuts that force your MC (Main Character) to lay off twenty hardworking people she cares about isn’t, per se, evil at work, but maybe it is. For your MC? It sure feels close to it in the moment. Especially when the cowards higher up force her to wield the ax hand out the pink slips…a week before Christmas.

Continue reading HERE

Story Structure: Why Some Stories Fall Apart & Fail to Hook Readers – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb published an article about story structure. She writes as educational and informative as always – and with just as much wit and humor as usual. Thanks for another helpful and funny post, Kristen!


Story structure is a HUGE deal in all stories. The last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned memoirs and how they can utilize a variety of structures. This said, there are so many variegations for the memoir, that I just can’t do them all justice here.

Since I am at least sharp enough to know when to defer to people much smarter than me…AND because I am #1 at HUMBLE…

At the end of the post, I’ll give y’all some links to people who ARE memoir experts and can do a much better job explaining all the structural styles available.

This said, if you’ve read my last two posts The Quest: The Hero’s Journey Meets Memoir and Narrative Style: The Heart of Storytelling we didn’t ONLY talk about memoirs. Rather, we discussed where some fundamentals for writing great memoirs apply across the board to other types of storytelling.

Whether we’re writing a memoir, novel, short story, essay, or even screenplays…structure matters.

If we keep starting out with great ideas that ultimately end up haunting our hard drives unformed and unfinished?

Structure.

Or, maybe we finish books, but no one seems to want to read them. It could be the glut in the market. OR it could be that the core idea is GOLD, but the structure isn’t such that it fully reveals what our story has to offer.

There are many reasons our writing might be stalling, stumbling, fumbling or failing. Yet, in my 20 years editing? It’s almost always, always a problem with story structure.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Narrative Style: The Heart of Storytelling & Why It Also Matters in Memoir – Written By Kristen Lamb

My favorite blogger Kristen Lamb has published a post about narrative style, the heart of storytelling. Thank you so much for another educational blog post, Kristen.


Narrative style is the beating heart of writing. While our voice might remain consistent from a blog to a non-fiction to a fiction, narrative style is what keeps our work fresh and makes it resonate.

Developing a strong narrative style is especially critical if we decide to write a memoir because the style will need to not only reflect the personality of the author-storyteller, but also hit that sweet spot in tone that is appropriate for the story.

But what IS IT?

Last post, I opened the discussion about memoirs. Memoirs are not only becoming increasingly popular, but with the implosion of traditional publishing, there’s good news. Anyone can write and publish a memoir. There’s also bad news…anyone can write and publish a memoir.

Before we talk about the various structures and types of memoirs, it’s a good idea to first discuss the broad concepts. Last time, I mentioned that superior memoirs frequently DO reflect The Hero’s Journey.

That was our first meta-concept, so to speak. The second meta-concept is narrative style. This aids us in connecting with audiences and generating long-lasting resonance.

Narrative style can be one of those amorphous concepts that’s tough to define directly. Sort of like black holes.

Scientists don’t per se observe a black hole directly, as much as they suspect they might have a black hole because of what’s going on around a certain area in space (the behavior of light and nearby planets, etc).

This said, all creators would be prudent to keep some core principles in mind when writing anything from a blog, to a non-fiction, to a memoir. These principles lay the foundation for what we think of when it comes to ‘narrative style.’

CONTINUE READING HERE

Finding Our Focus During Crazy Times: Only So Many Ducks to Give – Written By Kristen Lamb

Another fantastic article, published by Kristen Lamb, author, speaker, self-acclaimed ‘professional troublemaker’ and wonderful person! Thank you, Kristen!


Finding our focus has never been easy. Many of us have always lacked direction and fallen short on “clarity.” We’d multitasked ourselves into a daily fugue state long before COVID and quarantines and Zoom upended our lives.

Time somehow seeped through an unseen hole, leaking away one errand, email, trip, chore, or event at a time.

Ironically, I wrote a blog post Quiet: Have We Forgotten to Be Still in a World That Never Stops? back in February.

Um, so yeah. Oops. #CarefulWhatYouWishFor

Yet, to be blunt? At the time I wrote that blog, our Normal meant living life strapped to Hell’s Tilt-A-Whirl every…single…day. That is NOT healthy. We needed rest, quiet time and peace, yet we were threadbare and run ragged.

 

focus, stress, COVID-19, new normal, Kristen Lamb

 

I apologize for not posting for a while. It’s been VERY odd, especially since I’ve posted religiously no matter what for almost fourteen years. Suffice to say, this year—which started with yet another death in the family—had me ground down and exhausted. I seriously needed a sabbatical to recharge.

Moving on…

CONTINUE READING HERE

Advice: The Great, the Bad & Good Intentions Turned Toxic Dogma – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb, wonderful person, talented author, patient supporter and humorous advisor in one attractive body, provides us with a new great blog post! Thank you, Kristen.


Advice floats around everywhere. We get it from friends, family, cutesy memes, gurus, life coaches, books, television, podcasts and…bloggers *giggles*. We’re subjected to advice, whether we want it or not.

Please, let me be clear. Wise counsel is a good thing. Definitely.

We certainly don’t want to try and do this “life thing” with zero guidance. But the influx of so many opinions can be confusing, maybe even make us a tad crazy.

But these days, advice has gotten out of hand. It’s even invaded fortune cookies. Our FORTUNE COOKIES! Yes, we’ve been ordering a lot of take-out recently.

Remember those who persist enjoy success.

Okay, I’m throwing a flag on the play. THAT???? Is NOT a fortune cookie. Fortune cookies don’t offer unsolicited advice. I have a mom for that (I love you, Mom).

A fortune cookie is FUN and something we know is probably bunk, but would be super cool if it were true.

You will soon have good fortune in your endeavors.

CONTINUE READING HERE

 

 

Creating a Story-Worthy Problem That Will Captivate an Audience – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb provides us with a blog post about creating a story-worthy problem that will captivate an audience. She writes this post in her incomparable unique witty way and still educates us. Thank you, Kristen!


The story-worthy problem is the beating heart of all superlative fiction.

Unfortunately, creating this central core can often be overlooked. This is particularly true for writers relying on school training.

English teachers didn’t mind we used twenty-five metaphors on one page because their goal was to teach us how to properly use a metaphor…not how to write successful commercial fiction.

Creating the core problem and then—possibly (depending on genre)—the many overlapping layers and misdirections, is tough mental work.

Story as Structure

Like any structure, a story demands a strong foundation and sturdy frame. Without structure, it’s easy for author (and audience) to become lost.

Without those elements? The story caves in. But, foundations and framing aren’t nearly as fun as picking out paint, furniture, or drapes.

Face it, for most of us, decorating a house is much more fun than building one. This can be the same for stories. Crafting the perfect sentence, poring over descriptions, tinkering with dialogue is fun.

CONTINUE READING HERE

 

Ideas Collide: Powerful Storms are the Center of All Great Stories – Written By Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb once again teaches us about writing and how storms are the center of all great stories. Thanks so much for a new blog post and your education, Kristen!


Every story begins with ideas. Alas, stories can only be created when at least two vastly different ideas collide. The place where these ideas meet is the BOOM, much like the weather.

Storms erupt because of two very different bodies of air meet…and don’t get along.

Only one idea, however, can win. In the meantime, lots of metaphorical rain, lightning strikes and maybe some tornadoes. After the powerful storms, the landscape is altered, lives are changed, some even lost.

It’s the same with powerful stories. Yet, instead of weather fronts colliding, differing ideas are colliding.

It’s wonderful to have a great story idea. Alas, an idea alone is not enough. It’s a solid start but that’s all. Loads of people have ‘great ideas’ and that and five bucks will get them a half-foam latte at Starbucks…one day when it reopens.
Ideas are everywhere…especially now *sighs*

What differentiates the author from the amateur is taking the time to understand—fundamentally—how to take that idea and craft it, piece by piece, into a great story readers love.

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