Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me by Tiffany Amber Stockton

Annette and I have known Tiffany Amber Stockton through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and attending writer’s conferences. Tiff makes her presence known by the humor, warmth, and energy she shares with those around her. It’s exciting to see her hard work pay off, and we’re pleased to have her as a guest on Seriously Write.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

1. Read and Write a Lot. If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first. Immerse yourself in books, both on the craft and of the craft itself. Find your favorites or your least favorites. Dissect the good and the bad. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Then, find your own voice and go from there.

2. Use the reader’s time in a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
If you can capture a reader’s attention so that he or she will not mind being taken away from duties or the daily demands of life, then you have succeeded in your story.

3. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. Make it more than one, and the old adage, “the more the merrier” will apply. This character is usually the hero or heroine, but depending on the reader, sometimes it’s the antagonist with redeeming qualities.

4. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
If you don’t identify and establish your goals for each and every character in your story, then your characters are at risk for becoming cardboard, two-dimensional or inconsequential. As every character must have a purpose of some sort, make sure their desires are clearly defined and fulfilled.

5. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal more about a character or advance the plot. This can also be applied to each scene you pen. If you can’t apply this rule to each scene or each sentence, then you might want to remove or revise it.

6. Start as close to the end as possible.
There is nothing that kills a story faster than bogging down the reader in unnecessary details. Know in a general sense how your story will end, and begin in the middle of the action that will get your reader there.

7. Be a Sadist.
Take your characters into the worst possible situation…and make it worse. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order that the reader may see what they are made of. Test the mettle of your characters. Put them on the chopping block.

8. Write to please just one person. Don’t try to please everyone, or you’ll fail completely. If your story touches just one life, it’s found its purpose.

9. Give your readers as much information as possible. But don’t dumb them down. Write in such a way that the information you do provide leads them where you want them to go, but also challenges them to fill in the blanks.

10. Find a subject you care about. It’s often said to “write what you love.” This can’t be truer than when writing a novel. If you don’t care about the subject you write, why will your reader?

Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart, and their baby daughter in beautiful Colorado Springs. They also have a vivacious Border Collie mix named Roxie. Amber has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing. Other writing credits include five short stories for Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to Grit for the Oyster and 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage. A born-again Christian since the age of seven, her faith in Christ has often sustained her through difficult experiences. She seeks to share that with others through her writing.

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  1. Tiff,

    I love these tips. Especially #4. The part about the glass of water cracks me up! :-D

    Thanks for sharing some things you've learned on your writer's journey.

  2. Hey Tiff,

    Thanks for visiting SW. Great to have you here, and congratulations on your eight contracted books with Barbour! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. I love concise lists like this. Very helpful.

  3. Dawn and Annette, thanks so much for having me here at Seriously Write. It's a true honor. Glad you've enjoyed the tips. I chuckled when I wrote the glass of water line too. :) But it's so true. If a character doesn't have a goal or a need in a scene, why is he/she there?

    By the way, fantastic web site. Great stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking among a list of favorites.


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