Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Six Ways To Become a Unique Writer

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I want my manuscript to move from the beta reader's slush pile, the stack on an agent's desk, the buried email in an editor's inbox to SOMEONE who will notice! 


Sometimes, sigh, this seems impossible. Like, totally.

But, we can't give up! Our manuscripts can make it to the great beyond known as publication. WE can be a success.

So, what is the key to breaking down the barrier?

I've heard editors and agents say they wanted something fresh, but I must admit, for the longest time I didn't fully understand what they meant. Do you? Isn't each story we write us?

I have since figured out the answer. What the editors and agents want--and for you indie writers--what the buyers of books want is: to read a unique story which can only be written by a unique writer.

Sounds like a tall order? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe the idea simply needs to be broken down into doable suggestions.

Here are some ways YOU can become a unique writer:

But first, this brief commercial message brought to you by the editors/agents/mentors/beta readers/crit partners you know and love so well and the readers who will hopefully soon know and love you so well. Ready?  Study--study--study. Learn everything you can about writing: technique, editing, flow, etc. Search the books you love to read and figure out why you love to read them. These are the tools every writer needs to begin.

And now I return to the scheduled post ;) 

Six ways to become a unique writer:

1. Be Me. As I write my story am I basically being a performer? To imitate other works I've read, (examples from textbooks, rules, instructor's advice, etc,) is to perform a story. The work will read plastic, unfeeling, and lacking depth. Sure, I need to learn from others, but at some point, I need to let go--show the feelings, my voice, my ideas, my writing, my calling.

2. Write in Story Waves. To capture a readers attention, I cannot write a sweet serene story (yawn) or a power-punch-never breathe action adventure. Every story, no matter the genre, needs to flow in waves to continually engage the reader. An examples of flow can be:
slow, medium, fast, really slow, fast. 

Slow does not mean boring. Slow includes the greatest of emotions that jar a person to think, ponder, consider, plan, walk, sleep, breathe, set the setting, change character's POV, building foundations, etc. A story needs to start with a hook, but we need to be wise. The hook cannot be an unexplained explosion (war? car accident? gas leak, etc). Hook the reader in with masterful writing that shows the stage where the action is taking place.

3. Be Bold. Every writer has a strength (description, dialogue, plot, character development, layering, subplots, etc). Every writer also has a weakness. If I only write using my strengths, my story will be lacking in crucial areas and become a flop. To be a unique writer, I need to be bold, identify my weakness and purposefully develop these portions to the point of perfectly balancing my story. 

*  A. What is your strength? (I think mine is dialogue)
*  B. What is your weakness? (I think mine is spilling the beans too soon--one person in my crit group says "Slow down, Mary. Take them on the journey.")

*  C. Balance- How can you raise your weakness to balance your strength? (I need to perfect the speed of storytelling to match the level of dialogue. I plan to focus on this specific area until I've mastered it.) 

4. Dive into emotions. Think about the main character's message. As he moves through his journey on the pages he should be talking to himself, to others involved, and to God. The reader needs to be inside the MC's skin. That is when the true message gets real. 

5. Show restraint. Writing needs to be more about conveying raw emotions than showing off a writing skill. I need to show restraint from flowery sentences, over-the-top emotions, dramatic-sappy scenes, forced dialogues, and anything written that is more than what is needed to engage the reader.

6. Let your personality show through. Better yet--let it shine through your writing. I say I am a hermit, but I laugh at what others say and do. I say I like to be alone in the woods to think and write, yet I love family celebrations. 

What is my real personality? 

I don't need a test or quiz to find out. I know. The answer is: it depends on the day, weather, and a hundred other things. I don't have a distinct personality.

No. This is not true. I may respond differently to a situation given the day, weather, and a hundred other things, but my personality remains the same. 

Answer these question: *  What is your personality? (Mary is a fun-loving child of God who loves to laugh, listen to people talk, teach, and breathe the fresh air.)

*  How can you infuse your personality into your writing? (I can weave in fun loving scenes, humor, dialogue, a character who changes in their journey, outdoor activities)

*  Where have you successfully infused your personality into your writing and how can you do it again? (I've added humor, outside chase scenes, a comic relief, a character who changes in her journey)

The unique writer is the one who will sell her books, 
get contracts, and convey her message. 

Which of the six points have you mastered?
Which area would you like to improve at this time?

I'll start, from the list above I have the best handle on: emotions.
I would like to improve on: being bold by stepping out to strengthen my weak areas


If you found any typos in today's post...Mary Vee, (that's me sheepishly grinning), is waving her hand as the guilty party. 

If you have questions or would like this topic discussed in greater detail, let me know in the comment section. I'll gladly do the research and write a post...just for you :)

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes young adult adventure Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Casey said...

I definitely need to get better at #6--I have such a light and joyful personality, but my writing often doesn't reflect that. I'll get there, just got to keep working on it. :)

Robin E. Mason said...

What a super post, Mary! I guess as writers, we all tend to think, at least we want to believe, that we are unique. Your items listed are good focus points to ensure we are, in fact, unique! Thanks for sharing!
[and yes, I know my weakness - ugh! whatever! - I may, at times, have a tendency to be, perhaps, a tad bit too descriptive. Maybe.]

Jeanne T said...

What a great post, Mary! I've been trying to figure out how to write more unique stories, so this is very helpful. :)

For me, I'd say my strength is becoming better at just being me in the writing and not trying to imitate someone else. I'm working on bringing more authentic emotion into every scene.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I know you have that kind of personality Casey. I'm just wondering if you could read your story out loud into a recording device then play it back--do you hear you? The bubbly you?
Just a thought.
When I hear someone's voice I get their sound in my head, so when I read an email from them or FB message I can hear their voice saying the words in my head. We want readers to picture you sitting in a chair and telling this story about MC who meets handsome prince. Man, I bet that would be a dynamite story, because I can't imagine you sitting still in that chair while telling the story. That bubbly personality just pops. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

You probably love classics, even books like Lord of the Rings. All of these fabulous books have pages of interesting descriptions. Unfortunately, this has fallen out of favor with today's readers.
Our culture is on the go. We don't know how to sit still. I, too, have morphed into one.
So, our writing, too, must adapt to the ever moving story time for dilly dally, as my mother would say. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great observations, Jeanne. And with your My Book Therapy training you probably have been working on developing that authentic emotion. Susie and the others have so many fantastic suggestion and tricks, I wouldn't need to give any. God knew, and has blessed you. :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Mary,
Great post!! I think I need to ponder this some more! LOL.

My biggest challenge is getting the emotion right. Something I keep working on!


Mary Vee Writer said...

Hi Sue!
Loved seeing you at the conference in September. Emotion is very much a component that needs to sway. Sometimes it needs to be strong, sometimes more sedate to keep it from stealing the story. The balance is sometimes difficult to fine tune.