June 25, 2013

Writing About: A Wound

Trigger Warning: In this post is an image of a woman's bruised face. The bruises are not real.

To write about a wound there are four steps you need to follow: 
1.   Tell how the wound occurred.
2.    Describe the wound. (Feel free to get gory!)
3.    Tell the reader all about your character’s pain.
4.    Explain what the character does to patch up or clean their wound.
First, a character can’t all of a sudden have a wound. You have to reveal how they got it in the first place. Were they in a fight? Did they fall? Were they attacked? Was it from a gun, knife, or any other weapon or tool? Whatever event befalls your character that leaves them wounded make sure that you write it completely out!
To help with this you can follow the tips in these posts: 
Writing About: A Fight
How To Write Action
How To Build Suspense
This picture is NOT real! I created this with makeup to show a
type of wound (bruises) that a writer may have to describe in
their book. So, if your character was in a fight a black eye can
be a wound that you would give detail to.
Photo by Chrys Fey

Once you have the dangerous event written and it is packed with action and suspense, it is time to write about the wound (or wounds) your character got. What does it look like? If it was caused by a bullet, talk about the gunshot hole and the blood pumping out of it like ketchup bubbling out of a bottle. If it was created by a blade, go into details about their torn flesh and the streaks of blood flowing down their body.

Now is NOT the time to be squeamish! Get gory! Even if you don’t believe in gore just for the sake of gore, you can still write amazing details! I believe writing is all about the details, so tell your reader about the bone that popped out of your character’s flesh or the pencil that was jabbed into their eye socket. I don’t know what kind of incident would’ve caused that . . . but if it’s in your book. write all about it!

Something that can’t be ignored is your character’s pain. Metaphors and similes can help you to share with your readers what your character is feeling in a way that they might be able to imagine. Just ask yourself how you believe that type of wound would feel like, ask someone who may know firsthand, or do research. 

And for goodness sakes, let your character curse and/or cry! I know when I get hurt I do a bit of both.  

This is a sling that I used when I was 5 years old after fracturing my arm.
Photo by Chrys Fey

Finally, what does your character do to treat their wound? Do they tie it off with their belt to stop the bleeding? Do they stumble around looking for help? Do they go unconscious? Do they clean it and bandage it themselves? If so, read the part from A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer when he cleans the stab wound in his side. Perhaps your character is in the medical field and can stitch their wound up beautifully. Or maybe they do what they can at the moment with a safety pin.

It’s your book, it’s up to you! Be creative and try something new!
FYI: This should go without saying, but I will repeat myself just in case . . . As with every event you write in your book, it has to tie into the story and plot. You can’t just throw it in because you want more action and the opportunity to write about a wound. It has to follow with what you have already written, and of course be followed up with what you will be writing.

SHARE: Your tips for writing about a wound.

June 18, 2013

Chrys’ Writing Rules: Give Big Thought to a Character's Name

In other posts I have told you how to create a character's appearance, personality, voice, and relatedness. But I have never told you the importance of a character’s name, which is a few degrees more vital than their appearance.

If you have had a baby or gotten a new pet recently, you know the struggle of finding the perfect name for your offspring or furry friend. It is the same for thinking of a name for your characters. 

There a number of ways to name a character. You can spend hours trying to concoct a unique name like I have done, scrounge through baby name books or websites, or borrow names from friends and relatives. 
TIP: If you use someone’s name, alter the spelling.
Whatever way you decide to find names for your characters, give big thought to them. The name you choose has to feel right when you think of your character. Does it match your vision of him/her? If it does then make it permanent by writing it into your book!

Sometimes a name that you give to a character doesn’t seem to fit after awhile. I have had to rename characters for this reason, or because I thought of a name that rang more true. For the female protagonist in my series, I ended up changing the spelling of her name three times! Why? Because a name is important and the spelling has to be right too.
TIP: One of my favorite ways to find names is by reading the credits at the end of movies. I have also used street names for character names.
Finally, don’t reuse names in other stories. You may get away with it once, but don’t attempt it more than that. If you get published and have loyal readers who devour all of your books, they may notice and think that you’re not that creative if you can’t think of new character names. I have read books by an author that has recycled the same names in several of her books and it became rather annoying.

Annoying your readers is always a big NO-NO!

SHARE: How do you name your characters?

June 11, 2013

Writing About: A Character’s Past

Revealing a character’s past isn’t necessary unless something happened in the past that your readers need to know. Or if the character is mysterious, in which case, telling your readers a little more about them can be a smart move.

There are two methods you can use to create a character’s past:
1.   Completely make it up from scratch. What does your character tell you? What does the plot entail? What is your story about? When you ponder those three questions you should be able to come up with events or circumstances that could make up your character’s past. 
 2.   Use bits and pieces from your own past. This method is easy as you already lived through it once, so writing about it should be a piece of cake. Your past is yours, it is free, and if you want to use it you can! 
3.   You can use a perfect blend of 1 and 2.
No matter which option you choose to compose your character's past make sure to use plenty of emotion and prose to bring it to life!

Stayed tuned for tips on how to spill a character’s secrets! Coming soon...

SHARE: How do you write about a character’s past?

June 04, 2013

Rules For Writing: Don’t Use “Very”

“Never use the word, 'very.' It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn't mean anything. If you feel the urge of 'very' coming on, just write the word, 'damn,' in the place of 'very.' The editor will strike out the word, 'damn,' and you will have a good sentence.” -William Allen White 
I understand that a lot of authors now-a-days tend to overuse the word “very”, which is something you don’t want to do. The repetition of any word becomes boring, and if you see “very” too much you will get sick of it. “Very” is the type of word that you have to use sparingly and carefully. Sometimes it is an unnecessary word in a sentence. 

It is okay to let your characters use it in their dialogue though because it is a common word. We use the word “very” a lot in our speech. “I was very mad!” Not many people say they were infuriated. “That was when I realized something was very wrong.” “You just had to be there. It was very funny!” And you get the idea . . . But that doesn't mean you can't substitute "very" for a stronger word. For the last example you can use "hilarious" instead.

I still use the word “very” in my writing though, because I can. It is a word and, just as with all the other words in the English language, it is meant to be used, not ignored. And I don’t view “very” as the weakest word either. It is used to bring emphasis and if one little word can intensify what you are saying then it is not weak, it is powerful!

With that said, I don’t use the word “very” willy-nilly. It’s not in every paragraph and certainly not on every page, but it is still there where I want it to be. There are certain moments when I like to use the word “very” because it actually sounds better with it. For example: when my characters make love “slowly, very slowly”. I think that phrase will just make women’s mouths water, and that is all thanks to the word “very”.

Sometimes “very” is the perfect word to use. However, tossing “very” in front of every verb or adjective is overkill. 
TIP: For 45 ways on how to avoid using "very" check out this post from Writers Write.

QUESTION: What is your view of the word “very”? When/how often do you use it in your writing?