Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reading to write

I have seen a lot of advice lately about reading to improve your writing. I have also seen a lot of advice about reading books in the specific genre you want to write. I agree, but I've taken this advice a little farther.

I believe reading outside of my genre for specific elements and writing devices is also useful. For example: I have certain action scenes that require imagery involving guns and the mechanics of shooting guns. So, I picked up a couple Tom Clancy novels to see how he approaches these elements. I am not writing about covert operatives on top secret missions, but I can apply some of their expertise to my characters in my crime novel.

I plan on reading a few popular western novels to help me characterize a present day sheriff in my story. I don't have a romantic element (yet) but, if one arises, I will surely pick up at least one good romance novel for reference.

I hope that by reading and learning from experts in their specific genre's, I will be able to strengthen all the various elements in my story. As for the advice about reading to improve writing, I think this is very solid advice for developing your writing style and voice.

Read, read, and read some more. Write, write, and write better.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Character names, Time to write, and story ideas

A while back I decided to take a sack lunch to work and write during my lunch break in my truck. As it turned out, the only adequate shade in "Small Town" Texas was in the local cemetery. No problem. It was peaceful, quiet, and I actually have relatives resting there.

There was an unexpected benefit I found in my new creative environment. Names, lots and lots of names.

Just glancing at the grave markers, I was bombarded with character names for my stories. I wasn't taking complete names directly from the markers, but combining first names here, last names there, last names for first names, and first names for last names to create unique character names.

I also realized that paying attention to the dates on the markers, you can determine what common names were for certain time periods.

In addition to the plethora of character names, I came up with two more story ideas based solely on some of the unique names.