Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Stories with Personality

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I’m still revising my four novelette length stories. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between the vampire and alien ones while still toying with the idea of writing the one about the shark. (Especially since so many of you noted that you’ve never read a paranormal romance story with a shark.)

I’ve also been reading. A LOT! The IWSG admins are going through the entries for the anthology contest and noting the best ones. (Once we’ve pared down the list, they will be sent to the official judges.)

I’ve found this has really helped with editing though. In reading these stories, I can see what works and what doesn’t. What makes one compelling but not the next? While it’s all a mix of storyline, characters, and good writing, I’d boil it down to one word - personality. Or, as most writers call it, voice. The best ones are where everything comes alive. The story doesn’t even have to be the greatest in the world. If it has a strong voice, it grabs you right away.

One story has already grabbed me completely. I hope it makes the cut, Regardless, once I find out the author, I’m going to let he or she know it was an amazing story with a great voice.


The Realms Faire starts next Monday! I’m hosting The Unicorn Hunt, and there are almost a dozen games with tons of prizes. You don’t want to miss it.


And for new releases from Christine Rains, Karen Helene Walker, and Denise Covey, please visit The Circle of Friends.


Have you read any stories lately that just sizzled with personality?

46 comments:

Yolanda Renee said...

The words, 'a paranormal romance story with a shark' just stopped me in my tracks! You're right, I've never read anything close to that. :)
But good luck, this one I can't wait to read now.

Would not want to be the one reading the submissions for the IWSG. I think it great that you're enjoying the process!

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

I betaread the first part of an amazing story. Best of luck on all 4 revisions.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's awesome that you are learning from reading the anthology submissions. Good luck with your own stories.

Shah Wharton said...

I learn a bunch by reading. And it's fun - win, win. :) I'm also revising a few projects at once, and I don't know about you, but the amount of times I've crossed stories in my head and confused myself is getting ridiculous!

Shah X

shahwharton.com

nashvillecats2 said...

Great post to read Diane, pleased you are learning from the reading.
Enjoy your day.
Yvonne.

Emma Adams said...

A paranormal romance with a shark? That, I've never seen before!

Good luck with the contest judging!

Stephen Tremp said...

Wow! Realms Faire came up fast. Looking forward to that. Always good times.

Karen Walker said...

Isn't it great how we can learn from reading others' stories what works and what doesn't. Yikes, paranormal with a shark. That's certainly intriguing, Diane. Good luck with everything. Thanks for the shout out about my release.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yolanda, I guess I need to write the story then.

Shah - LOL! I've done that. I've tried to make notes on each one the moment I finish reading.

You are most welcome, Karen.

Loni Townsend said...

A lot of reading of different work does put things into perspective as to working and not. Those paranormal romances sound fun!

Sarah Foster said...

Voice is definitely important! I think it can take a long time to get it quite right, and it usually has to change from story to story. Luckily, at least for my current WIP, I feel like it's the one thing I've gotten right.
Good luck with those revisions!

Robin said...

A paranormal romance with a shark? I do believe you've got an original idea there!

Since I've started writing I read differently. If I really like a book I might read it twice. Back to back. The first time for enjoyment and the second time to determine precisely why I like it so much. Understanding what makes the books I love great helps me make mine better... not by copy/pasting their work, but by taking the concept and figuring out how to make it work in my story. But, I think you're right. It's that personality or voice that really makes the story.

Carol Kilgore said...

I totally agree about voice! I thought I was weird like that. Maybe not :)

Crystal Collier said...

I love that--when a story really takes a life of its own. I haven't read much that was particularly awesome lately. Actually, my reading has been pretty slow around all the deadlines on my plate. Only 3 more to go before the end of the year...

James Pailly said...

I have to ask... is the shark going to be the love interest?

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

It's always inspiring to read others' powerful writing.
For your safety, I hope you won't do field research with a shark, Diane. We'd like to keep you around for a long time.

Karen Lange said...

Wishing you all the best with your works in progress! I am heading into a break from my online classes and could go for a good story. Planning on savoring several if I can. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Chemist Ken said...

Maybe after the contest is over, you can write a post giving us hints of what works and what doesn't. I think that's something we all could use some help with.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

How rewarding to come across those stories that just sing from the page with voice, or personality as you call it which is such a great way of saying it.

Bish Denham said...

It's amazing how reading other people's stuff can help make us aware of our writing flaws. Good luck with your continued revisions. (A love story with/about a shark?)

J E Oneil said...

Well, a paranormal romance involving a shark really sounds unique :). Even if you don't write it for this project, I hope the idea makes a reappearance at some point. Good luck with the rest of the revising.

M Pax said...

A shark? Awesome. I'd read that. :) Is it in a sharknado?

Reading a bunch of other stories is helpful for growing writers muscles.

Looking forward to the games.

Tamara Narayan said...

Wow. Lucky you to get to read through the submissions. That could be really fun to be exposed to all sorts of creative ideas. I'll stop by again for the upcoming games later this month.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Romance needs more sharks. It doesn't even have to be paranormal, just a love story where one of the main characters gets eaten or maimed by a shark. No one will see that coming. Twist!

IWSG November Post

Nick Wilford said...

Paranormal romance with a shark sounds like something with plenty of personality! Definitely write it.

I'm sure you must have your work cut out with loads of awesome submissions. Very cool that you get to read and learn from them though.

Ann Bennett said...

You've piqued my curiosity with a shark, paranormal romance. I look forward to checking it out.
Voice is definitely a bigger.

Lynda R Young said...

After reading through those entries too, I'd definitely recommend becoming a judge in writing contests because you really do get to know what it's like to be an editor or agent going through lots of stories at once and seeing what stands out and why. Such an eye-opener.

Olga Godim said...

Like you, I learn from editing others' stories. Seeing mistakes other writers make helps recognizing them in my own writing.
Great post.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

LOL. I read some of the same ones you did. Amazing creativity from the IWSG wrtiers.

Susan Says

Tyrean Martinson said...

I didn't send in my IWSG story because I knew it wasn't ready.

I know what you mean about a story coming alive, and it seems like it's this combination of voice, plot, and character that goes beyond any formula approach - it's that uniquely portable magic that Stephen King mentioned in his writing book.

Happy Writing and reading!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Robin, it is. And it's so hard to nail.

James, yes he is.

Robyn, I don't think my husband would allow that kind of research - LOL.

Chemist Ken, I will do that.

Bish, yes, it's about a shark. Complicated.

LOL!! Mary, the shark is a bit more real than that.

Lynda, it has been. A little scary, too. I don't want my work to be like those that didn't gel.

S.K. Anthony said...

First, it's fun to read! And second, I definitely learn a lot from it. I agree that the voice is a HUGE element in getting it right. Glad you're enjoying and learning from reading the entries!

Have fun with ALL the revisions! (I still have no idea how you do it all)

klahanie said...

Hi Diane,

You have a lot going and somebody once told me that keeping busy is good. And if the busy is a passion, even better.

"...a paranormal romance story with a shark." A story you can get your teeth into, no doubt.

All the best with your revising, Diane. Thanks for the links in regards to the new releases, which I'm sure has to do with books...

I've read stuff by a dog that just sizzled with "pawsonality".

Gary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

That is so true about the submissions. There were some that needed a ton of work, yet, you just knew they'd be high sellers one day. I felt compelled to crack my knuckles over my current WIPs

Denise Covey said...

Paranormal and shark. Hmm. You could be onto something! And I know how hard it is to make a short list from submissions. Then we get a favourite and no one else agrees. Can't wait to see who wins or gets a mention!

And what a lovely surprise to see my book in the Circle of Friends. How sweet of you!

Denise Covey November co-host IWSG

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Do you remember the song about "personality?"

I agree too many of us forget that many readers have had their fill of text books from their school days. I think most fiction writers eventually come across the term "voice" and figure it out. It's the nonfiction writers who have trouble believing that a lighter touch or a little fun can make a difference for their readers. And maybe even for their book sales. (-:

Medeia Sharif said...

I love it when a voice grabs me when I'm reading. I'd rather read a book with a few flaws and lots of voice than one that's technically correct and has all the right pacing, but no voice. I learn a lot from reading other people's writing, both raw and published.

Diane Burton said...

Good luck with your novelettes. A shark paranormal would certainly be original. I've learned a lot from reading--esp. as a contest judge. I agree about voice. It can really grab you and pull you into a story.

Best wishes,
[another] Diane

Juneta Key said...

Sorry late commenting been trying to NaNo with no headway. Great post. I agree about voice, but I also have to care about the characters. I like stories that pull me in and the rest of the world disappears, or they create deep thoughts for me to ponder, or psyche me out. Wishing much success with your novelettes.
http://www.junetakey.com/

Michelle Wallace said...

I had a blast at The Realms Faire last year, and won a few e-books.
I have to agree that the anthology contest stories have been great!

Robert Bennett said...

Realms Faire looks like so much fun!!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

SK, I don't either.

Gary - LOL!

Denise, I've been meaning to post about you book since last week.

Carolyn,you are so right. I tried to put personality into both of my non-fiction books.

Robert, you'll have to play a few games then.

Cherie Reich said...

I find critiquing someone else's writing helps me with my own for those same reasons you mentioned. You get a feel for what works and what doesn't. And I still say you should consider the shark paranormal romance story. That sounds awesome and very unique.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - that's great you're writing four novelettes .. while the shark one sounds such fun - I hope you go for it.

The entries for the anthology - that's great there are so many ... and I'm so looking forward to finding out who enticed you with their storyline ...

Cheers and good luck with all projects - Hilary

Yvette Carol said...

It reminds me of the "X" factor they talk about with a singing personality, as to whether they're going to make it in the business. Interesting to think that writers have "personality" in a similar way.

DMS said...

It's always amazing how much we learn about editing from reading. I am sure the entries must be interesting, but lots of work. Good luck!
~Jess