The Ancient City Poets / Poet Plant Press blog is participating in the The Indie Lights Book Parade. For the entire month of February, different authors and artists will be parading past our viewing stand. Writer Tracie Roberts was kind enough to stop by. She is the author of Echo and Blur, paranormal New Adult romances and Books 1 and 2 in the Élan Series. She lives in Florida with her husband and two daughters. She would like to share some advise for new writers.
Tracie Roberts: First, know your premise. What is the idea behind the story? What do you want to express to the reader? Where do you want the story to take the reader and where will it end? These are questions for you to answer, either before you start writing or as the story develops. For my novel Echo, I knew I wanted the reader to consider the topic of being responsible for one's choices. I had an idea that I wanted my story to take my characters down a path that may make readers question if what is illegal is always wrong, but I didn't know how far I was willing to go to support that point. My characters did, though, and that'll be discussed later. Also, some writers feel at ease starting a story that they don't know the end to. I'm not one of them. I usually know what will be tied up at the end of one of my works, just not how. That's what I work through in outlining. And that's what I suggest to my students. Know what will happen even if you can't figure out how just yet.
Plus, limiting the amount of "what" will happen keeps your story from getting out of control. When the students in my Creative Writing class were tasked with drafting a short story based on a picture they were given, some of the stories they came up with got out of hand. I had to constantly remind my students that they had a limit of ten pages. Most of them said, "Oh, I can write all that in less than ten. Don't worry." What I got was "tellings" of stories, not actual stories. I had trouble with letting my story get out of hand when I first started writing. The two novels I have out now, Echo and Blur, (plus the third, Bound, coming out in May) were originally just one book. I realized as I was writing that there were too many ideas to cover in just one novel, so I broke the story up into two, then three, books. The pacing is better in each novel and no major plot point is rushed in any of the books. So, limiting the number of big events (or plot twists) to a couple or three, even in a novel, helps keep a writer focused on the premise.
Second, know your characters. What makes your character tick? What does a normal day for him look like? What are his hopes, fears, dreams. etc.? Again, questions that, when fully answered, are most helpful in truly representing your characters in all their brilliance and flaws. When I taught Creative Writing for two years, I assigned my students a character biography sheet and a list of interview questions to answer in order to understand their characters and motivations. I've included links here and here to a couple of good ones, but a Google search will also pull up useful bio sheets and questionnaires. Should you complete this for every character in your story? I didn't for Echo, but I later found myself creating sketches on Scrivener for most of the characters in my series and adding traits as they manifested while writing Blur and the novella, Whispers.
Third. know yourself. Are you willing to put in the effort to write this story? Are you comfortable with the topics you'll be exploring? Are you afraid of hurting others with or being embarrassed by this story? Most people don't want to "write" a novel/story, they want to "have written" one, because face it, writing is tough! I know. It took me five years to finally start The Elan Series, and seven years to publish my first book, Echo. Now, I find that ideas for stories just come to me, usually as a single line or thought that pops into my head and I get frustrated that I don’t have enough time to get to them all.
And some of the topics are taboo. When I wrote Echo, I found myself asking, “What will my mom or my husband think of me writing about illicit relationships or witchcraft? Will they be upset?” What I realized is that, though I don’t want to hurt my family, I can’t dishonor myself, my gift, or my story by not telling it. Still, even I shy away from certain topics. I can’t write erotica or horror, but it has more to do with my comfort level than whether I believe those genres should be written or shared. As writers, though, we must push ourselves to explore edgy topics but still feel okay with ourselves for doing it.
In closing, Tracie says "Don’t wait for the right time, it won’t come." She encourages new authors to make writing a priority, if you want it to be a profession instead of a hobby. "And believe in yourself and the story. Good writing can be learned, tenacity cannot."
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To learn more about novels by Tracie Roberts, please visit:
Facebook – tracie.roberts13
Twitter - @tracie_roberts
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Thanks to our wonderful parade authors Indie Lights has fantastic swag baskets for three awesome winners! Prizes include ebooks, gift cards and fun!
Remember, winning is as easy as visiting, clicking or commenting--easy to enter; easy to win!
Click here to enter
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Many thanks to Tracie Roberts for stopping by. Who will parade us next? Check in on Monday and find out.
Thank you so much for all your support,
Ancient City Poets / Poet Plant Press