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September | 2017 | The AuthorShip

Monthly Archives: September 2017

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STORY VS. PLOT: WHICH IS WHAT?

by Sherrie Clark

We’ve all heard the words story and plot when it comes to books, but these two terms frequently get confused and are used interchangeably. Actually, they each have a different meaning and a different purpose. As a writer, knowing the difference would behoove you and your readers.

Story is the idea. It’s the emotional while the plot is the physical. In other words, the story tells the what, and the plot tells how the what happens and how the what is done. Confused? Okay, let me try to explain it in another way.

The plot tells and drives the story. It shows how the story unfolds. The plot is the sequence of events. But don’t discount the story because without it, the plot would be boring, just a series of jumping off the cliffs, racing the cars, and buying the engagement rings. As readers, we won’t know the story of why the character jumped off the cliff, raced the car, or bought the engagement ring. Readers will find bonding with the characters difficult and thus the book itself because basically, we don’t bond with action; we bond with characters. Therefore, the story will help readers get more engaged in the plot.

Usually the plot is written around the story. For instance, let’s say we decide to write a romance novel about a female doctor falling in love and marrying a musician in a rock and roll band. That’s the story. Now we need to come up with HOW all of this is going to happen. That’s the plot. Of course, the same story can have different plots, but make sure each one of your plots moves your story forward. If it doesn’t, then you should probably consider making what can sometimes be the difficult decision of deleting that plot or at the very least, changing it.

So recognize which is what, and write your book accordingly. Take time to give your readers captivating plots, but don’t forget your story. They work hand in hand to accomplish your ultimate goal–writing that page turner of a book!


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THE DREADED WRITER’S BLOCK SYNDROME

by Sherrie Clark

It’s nine o’clock in the evening. The kids are asleep, and your spouse is in bed reading a good book.

You stare at your computer screen. It’s white, and that’s all it is…just white and void of any black words. You hear the clock ticking in the background, wondering why it sounds so loud. You feel warmer than usual. For the life of you, you just can’t come up with something to turn that white page into one speckled with words. Nothing seems to be formulating in your head, and you just don’t know why. You struggle and struggle, and still nothing comes to you to type. Don’t panic. Defining this quandary is easy.  Conquering it, well, that’s up to you, but it really doesn’t have to be difficult.

What’s happening is something that we writers try to avoid: writer’s block. Basically, it’s those things that keep us—block us—from writing. The block can be real, such as your children arguing, and you find yourself distracted and more than likely pulled in on the dispute. On the other hand, writer’s block can be a situation where you can’t think of what to write. Every writer faces hurdles and experiences fears, but once they intervene and stop the creative juices from flowing, then they need to be addressed. Maybe you’re still holding onto that initial fear that kept you from writing your book for so long. Do you still doubt your ability? You’ve shown your ability by starting to write your book. Do you feel inadequate in your knowledge of your topic? Research can fix that. Are you afraid that you won’t finish it? Take it one day at a time, and you can finish it. Remember your reason(s) for writing your book, and let that desire(s) overcome your fear. When what you want becomes larger than what you fear, then you can push through to fulfill that desire.

Maybe you don’t feel you can write for another reason. The kids aren’t fighting, and you truly aren’t afraid of writing your book. Maybe you just get bored easily. If so, then this isn’t writer’s block. If you’re getting bored writing your book, think about how readers are going to feel by reading it. Maybe digging in and spicing up your topic can help excite you and therefore, your readers.

Ultimately, tenacity is what will take you from a dream to a reality. It will loosen the hold of writer’s block. The only “stuck” we want to experience as writers is getting stuck in our chair so that we can finish what we started: writing our book.


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WRITER’S STYLE VS. WRITER’S VOICE

by Sherrie Clark

Writer’s style frequently gets confused with writer’s voice, but where does an author draw the line in the sand as to which is what? Whereas your writer’s voice involves your personality, your writer’s style involves the words you use and how you use them.

For instance, remember each writer has his or her own voice. It’s what separates you from other writers. However, some writers write using a similar style. An example would be authors of children’s books will use a similar style to each other as opposed to the style used by an author who writes true crime.

Style involves the technical and mechanical aspects of your writing. It’s your form and how you structure your sentences. It can be influenced by education, family, environment, and the part of the country where you grew up and where you currently live, and it can be influenced by other writers.

As a book editor, I have found that each and every one of my authors has their own writing style. While one author may use an abundance of the word “like,” another may frequently use the word “irregardless.” While another author may use words indicative of the area of the country where he or she lives, another may use words and phrases that reflect his or her life on the streets. While one author uses long sentences, another writer gets straight to the point.

If you’re dissatisfied with your writer’s style, you can develop and/or improve it. How? Start by learning new words and building your vocabulary, and then apply them to your everyday language. Learn how to replace passive words with active words. Get rid of the clichés. Alternate between long sentences and short ones. Learn not to overwrite, and give your readers the benefit of the doubt that they get what you’re saying.

Your writer’s style can be one of your greatest assets, or it can be a tremendous liability. Make sure your style is stylish, at least in terms of keeping your readers captivated and enthralled in what you have to write.


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