Archive | January 2014

What is the most important part of your writing? What makes the story?

Is the idea, the plot, the story line what really matters or is it the characters or the dialog? To me, it would seem, that the idea is what is important. But, can a  bad idea be successful if it has such memorable and engaging characters that you can’t wait to know more about them?

When you write, do you first scribble a first draft at warp speed just trying to capture the main story line? A great plot is the reason I usually remember books. Those plots can stay with me for a lifetime if I found them to be extraordinary. Maybe it is because there are so many similar plots in stories that the wonderful surprise of a book offering a unique look from a different angle is refreshing.

With non -fiction writing it seems to me that the facts and information that is uncommon is the important part of the article. Those facts are what sets one article on a topic above another. The best articles have information that astounds, entertains and teaches. Once again the idea plays a large part in whether or not this article is appealing. The complete idea also includes the angle from which it is written.

Seldom does dialog impress me as I’m reading, but occasionally, what is said by the characters is meaningful, astute or clever. If you, like me, remember movie lines for years, you may do the same thing with great dialog. Can you immediately remember that dialog and be sure you have viewed that movie before? Can that be the best part of the book for you? Dialog can be very powerful.

Sometimes I find description of a place or person enough to make me want to re-read it. If it makes me feel that I am in that place right now, that is terrific. If I feel I can see the character in front of me and want to say ,”Hello” that is what counts.Authors that can do that well seem  to be more the exception, than the rule. Some authors from other eras, used so much description as to make it boring and you no longer even wanted to continue reading.I guess that was just part of their style. That was also what was expected by the readers from that time period. Others have not included enough details for my taste to really acquaint me with the subject of that description.I like to know a great deal about my characters and appreciate when if not described at least their former history has been implied.

Many writers who know what they are doing seem to spend most of their efforts on the technical aspect of their writing. Following the rules is emphasized unless you are a world class author who has been around for ages and earned the right to change those rules.Novices like myself are often not as skilled with the rules as we should be and that keeps us from pursuing more projects than we might otherwise.

So as writers, authors and poets think about this topic and  please leave a comment to actually offer help to those struggling.





Attention Writers/Authors/Poets! Where do you find your stories?

I have read about writers getting a story idea while dining put and jotting it down on a napkin. I have read some authors wake up from a dream and write down what they wish to remember for their next story. I know many who write notes constantly and save scraps of ideas, conversations overheard and even names to use in their next writing endeavor. Do all authors do this?

I tried the recording dream notes years ago in the middle of the night after being wakened by something. When I checked it the next day though, I thought maybe it was an early sign of mental illness as it really made little sense. Has anyone done this successfully?

I have personally carried a notebook and jotted everything down for quite some time that I thought might be useful. I imagine if I searched through all my materials, I would find all those notes again and still not be sure how to use them. Does this help for your next writing project?

Once I got an idea while bathing in the tub, and ran dripping wet from the bathroom to preserve those thoughts for eternity. I started, but nothing came of the few lines I wrote so where is the real answer to finding those gems?

There have been some really great snatches of conversation I overheard, but not sure where that will ever take me. One of my first was in Texas as I sat in a booth while dining and overheard a woman behind me. It concerned how her oil well just came in, but is there much in that other than the obvious overdone story?

It has been said that even when writers are not furiously typing or scribbling on paper they can be writing. Gives us all a great excuse to sit in a comfortable chair and daydream, but does that produce ideas that are fodder for the creative animal inside a writer?

I was once guilty of clipping bizarre or merely interesting news stories, but those ideas never seemed to materialize. Do you use newspapers to spark ideas?

To me it seems if all those things work for others, at least some should work for me. I have been told I am imaginative. I have been called creative in other areas of my life. So where do I go wrong?

Please, those fiction authors who have produced many books or short story writers that have become famous for their story telling how can I start to write fiction? I question myself every time an idea does show itself because I am sure lots of people have already done that and so much better than a newbie could do. Can you offer advice to a would – be fiction author?

Are your characters based on people you know, even a little bit?

Don’t know about you, but my family, friends and acquaintances are interesting, complex and sometimes downright strange enough to make wonderful characters. How about yours?

Most writers say their characters come from pure imagination, but I wonder, since  seeing those traits in others is what has interested you in the first place. So when creating characters, isn’t your experience with people going to be at least the starting point?

When you think about something that would make a character really unusual or interesting, where has that information come from? Is it from life or from imagination? Is that fantastic trait you came up with a combination of the two? What made you think of that characteristic?

We all know that well-drawn characters hook the reader in and make them want to know more.We know that a good character can sometimes carry a mediocre story, but the combination of a good story line and outstanding characters can be a winning combination. So where do you find these ‘Pilgrims’ complete with all the warts?

The fiction characters we remember are ones the author breathed life into for us. But as we are admiring this writer’s skill, are we not sometimes comparing that person to a real life person we know? Such as wow, that sounds just like Uncle John or maybe we even see truths about ourselves when observing this character.

I know that the first thing that interests me when reading is how they portrayed a character. I am hoping if I ever get to the point of trying to actually write fiction, that I will be able to add characters that make the reader happy, sad, laugh or cry. I am hoping for a reader who is in absolute awe of the person I created and even feels they are learning something about life or human nature from this imaginary person inserted into a story.

Writers,authors, please share your experiences with character formation. Please give us novices a hint at where you find them whether family or your own fertile mind. We all need to share the things we know so as to help the beginner learn the ropes. Even though we learn by overcoming challenges, it is so helpful to have our expert fellow creators offer their opinions and hints.

Making time to write! How much time is enough?

Since I am just recently getting back to writing after a period away of a couple years, I need to re-acquaint myself with the writing life. I need to decide for myself, how much time I am able to devote to this and where that time will come from each day.

The writing I do at present is just to learn to write better and hopefully to produce an occasional dollar to justify myself .

Although technically retired, my days still involve the need to do some things around the house and for my family. Though my days can be as unstructured as I wish, my goals do include completing certain tasks and engaging in certain writing projects (mostly for online websites and non-fiction articles) at this point in time. But my desire is to actually start to write some fiction. Right now no specific ideas or projects have come to mind. In short, I am having trouble just getting started. I do enjoy those writing prompts on some writing websites, but must confess I have not yet tried them.

I read of writers who seem to be able to produce quite a bit of writing and still have ‘a life.’ Others seem to devote themselves to writing in a way that does not allow them to have a family or social existence and I am not sure if I could do that. Years ago, I devoted a year to writing a non- fiction book which I never got published. It was almost a companion to the business and field my husband and I were working in at that time. I disciplined myself to write no less than 6 days a week and most days probably put in a good six hours. Of course each day also involved lots of editing and rewriting as part of the six hours I spent on that project. Obviously, I am not a writer who can spit out a new novel or additional book of any kind in six or eight months.

I do know from experience that once I get started and I am truly inspired to write, I can produce a great deal in a short time knowing fully well that most may be garbage and take lots of editing and rewriting and ruthlessly cutting out the stuff I am most fond of in that section. I hope this is a good thing and the proper way to proceed as I have less faith in what I do as I get older. I have none of the cockiness that seems to accompany all those young people.

Anyone who reads this blog and can offer advice in the comment section will be greatly appreciated. Some days I think I have something important to say while other days I wonder who ever told me this is a good plan of action for me and that I will eventually produce something of merit. Any suggestions or help is looked forward to because absolutely everyone that writes probably knows more than I do.

So the questions at hand are,  “How much do successful writers write daily? How much of a life do they allow themselves? And how do you get started when you are unsure what you want to write?”

Writers- where do you find your inspiration?

When you write non-fiction, you usually have an assignment or a title to write under. It mainly involves research and your personal take on a topic that many before you have written about. However, when you cross over into the realm of fiction, you need ideas and especially inspiration.

I have heard writers say they were inspired by other writers or authors or specific pieces of literature. I personally know that sometimes when I view artwork or listen to music it seems to open my mind to other ideas that can result in a spark of imagination. So now, all I need is to take that spark and produce something of value from it. Could use some ideas as to how to really write fiction. Today, however, I would love to know where you find your own inspiration. I’m sure there are as many answers as there are writers out there.


You have found my brand new blog. It will feature content, mine and other writers. It will speak to the problems, the challenges and the success of the writing life. It will ask for your support for me in my struggle to become a better writer. It will link you to articles I believe are vital to writers and readers. I hope you will find some value in this blog and I am hoping it will inspire me to get out of my comfort zone and try all types of writing. Feel free to comment and post often so we can become friends in this strange way of life we have chosen.

Jo Ann Wentzel