Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nurturing Creativity by Martha Rogers

Have you fallen into a rut in your writing? One of my mental notes for my current WIP is to freshen up my emotional descriptions when rewriting. Today, Martha Rogers talks about the importance of not falling into that rut and suggests ways we can nurture our creativity. 
-- Sandy

Martha: I love a good story, but recently I have read two good stories by a multi-published author that left me shaking my head. If the story hadn't been good, I would have tossed the book aside. Things like head-hopping or changing point of view within a scene with no warning and beginning sentences with words that end with -ing had me pausing all the time and shaking my head. I had to go back a few times to figure out how and why the POV changed.

We've heard it said so many times that the story is most important. In the case of this author, she did all the things to make her readers keep the pages turning even though she didn't follow all the "rules" of writing. This was one of those stories that if I had been grading it as I did the papers of my college students, it would have earned an A for content and a D- for mechanics.

I have found the head hopping, poor sentence construction, and grammatical mistakes more prevalent in self-pubbed books, but it can happen to those from a recognized publisher also. I'm not sure why this is because editors should catch those things. The editor for the publisher of the book described didn't catch them.

Perhaps multi-published writers can get by with this type of writing as long as their story and characters are good and the readers like the author. However, we are creative writers of fiction and our writing should reflect that creativity.

When we fall into a rut of writing the same way all the time without taking time to learn from others and to improve writing skills, we can find our books falling into the pile of those that cause a reader to lose interest.

How can we nurture that creativity? I find that by visiting unusual places, people watching at airports, doctor offices, grocery stores, and lines at the mall stores, bank or wherever we are, I can come up with unusual characters, traits, and scenarios for different plots. For historical, I love to visit places like Mount Vernon and Williamsburg or Boston. For my latest series, I spent a lot of time in St. Francisville, Louisiana to gather information and ideas.

We live in a world of cyber-space where banking and shopping are more frequently on-line. As writers, we need to be “out in the world” more observing and listening to what is going on around us. It’s amazing how character traits, conversation tidbits, or facial expressions can make their way into our writing when we truly pay attention to our surroundings. So, get out of the house a few hours a week and see what people are doing, what they are saying, and how they are acting or reacting to situations. 

What is a way in which you consciously improve your writing? How do you go about freshening your prose and studying the "rules?"


~~~~~~


Because of what happened to her father and mother during the War Between the States, Molly Whiteman
hates guns, violence and war. Stefan Elliot is an officer in the U.S. Cavalry. When the two meet, sparks fly in their attraction to each other. Stefan returns to his regiment leaving Molly torn between her love for him and her deep feelings about guns and killing. Tragedy changes Molly’s heart and brings them back together, but will Molly's love be enough to overcome the depression that has made Stefan a recluse from society?


Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009 and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.  A former English and Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written three series, Winds Across the Prairie and Seasons of the Heart and The Homeward Journey. Book three in that series, Love Never Fails, released in November, 2014.

Find Martha at:  www.marthawrogers.com

3 comments:

  1. Great reminders, Martha, especially this time of year when I prefer to hole up in the peaceful sanctuary of my home. This is just the push I needed to get out there and people watch. :)
    Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas season!

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  2. What a great post, Martha, and I so hear you! Authors are only as good as their editors IMO. I've had editors who are ruthless and heart-breaking, but in the end, gulp, they were right. Then again...sometimes you have to use "that" or an "ing" word, right?

    To recharge my creativity, I confess I head to Louisa May Alcott. Reading her books when I was a little girl started it all. When I need an emotional uplift, I re-read the chapter in Jack and Jill when the kids' friend Ed Devlin dies. The way she conveys the grief and loss with hope still hitches my breath after all these years.

    Your book sounds fascinating to this gun-hater LOL. And the civil war time period is fresh in my mind after our autumn visit to the south. (I am a Californian.) I can't wait to read it! God bless you and merry Christmas to a fellow grandma!

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  3. Wonderful post, Martha. As writers we need to do our best to entertain the reader, but also not to lose them out of sloppiness.

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