Showing, Telling, and Paddling Ducks

“Show, don’t tell.”

That’s the mantra that gets hammered into the head of every beginning writer. If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class or attended a writer’s conference, you’ve probably heard something along the lines of, “Don’t say ‘Sally is sad.’ Show us Sally being sad.” This leads to painting a picture of Sally’s sad expression, describing the teardrops streaking her face, and detailing Sally’s posture and movements in a way that makes it clear to readers just how unhappy Sally is.

That’s good advice, as far as it goes. The problem is that for most people, external emotional responses are just a tiny part of their actual reaction. Indeed, one of the most important things we learn as we grow from childhood to adulthood is to hide our emotions.

It’s like that famous quote, usually attributed to actor Michael Caine: “Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.” If your characters are to come off as real people, most of their emotional reactions are going to be entirely internal. And if we only ever describe the tranquility above the surface, our readers might never guess at the frantic paddling that’s going on down below.

My Own Achilles’ Heel

I’m blessed to be in a writing group with three perceptive readers who are diligent at reminding me when I’m not telling enough. We submit our chapters to each other using Google Docs, and we use the platform’s commenting feature extensively. When my group reviews my writing, the most common response I get from them is something along the lines of, “Where’s the emotional response?”

Okay, I’ll be honest. Sometimes I just forget. What happens, I think, is that I get lazy and assume that readers will take their own emotional response to the story and project it onto the POV character. This usually falls flat. Just as often, though, I’ll write a character’s physical response but forget to dig into the inner reaction to help carry the story along.

So I submit my chapters. The next day, I’ll open up them up to see a comment from Kris: “How does she feel about what just happened?” Mike has responded to Kris with something like, “I was wondering the same thing.” Inevitably, Kelli has added, “That makes three of us.”

That’s how I know I need to go back and revise.

Show and Tell

In a guest post on WritersDigest.com, author Joshua Henkin calls “show, don’t tell” the “Great Lie of Writing Workshops.” As he explains:

“A story is not a movie is not a TV show, and I can’t tell you the number of student stories I read where I see a camera panning. Movies are a perfectly good art from [sic], and they’re better at doing some things than novels are—at showing the texture of things, for instance. But novels are better at other things. At moving around in time, for example, and at conveying material that takes place in general as opposed to specific time…. But most important, novels can describe internal psychological states, whereas movies can only suggest them through dialogue and gesture (and through the almost always contrived-seeming voiceover, which is itself a borrowing from fiction).”

Showing is good. We have to show. But the best writers also embrace telling as a technique that allows them to provide much better insight into what the duck is doing down there with its little webbed feet.

As author Lee Child says, “We’re not story showers. We’re story tellers.”

Balancing Show and Tell

I’m still learning how to use both showing and telling effectively in my own writing. Honestly, it’s been difficult for me. From my work with my writing group, though, I can single out four suggestions that have really helped me improve.

1. Keep your POV character(s) in mind.

If you’re writing in first person, you’re telling pretty much all the time. The conceit of first person is that the reader is getting a direct feed of the point-of-view character’s inner monologue. This can lead to a vivid, unique voice that’s difficult to achieve from other points of view.

Stories in third person unlimited aren’t as common as they used to be. With this POV, the narrative voice drifts in and out of heads, reading the thoughts and emotional reactions of whatever character makes sense at the moment. In contrast, with third person limited the inner voice comes through a single character who is the focus of the book, chapter, or section.

Regardless of how you deal with points of view, it’s critical to consider how your characters would react to everything happening around them. Knowing your characters—their wants and needs, strengths and weaknesses, goals and regrets—is the easy part. Translating those character traits into genuine human reactions is where things get really tough.

2. Take an “all of the above” approach.

We usually start by showing. Your characters say and do things. They act and react. Even the “stage directions” that accompany your dialogue can go a long way towards portraying realistic human responses. A sidelong glance, a cock of the eyebrow, or a sudden intake of breath all say something to the reader.

Beneath all the “camera and microphone” stuff is the internal dialogue. You can present your characters’ direct thoughts (“Geez—what’s her problem?“), or you can report their thoughts in third person (“Gwendolyn wondered what Julie’s problem was.”). The things your characters notice and internally comment on can go a long way toward rounding out your POV characters’ responses.

If you do this enough, you’ll often find yourself monitoring your own thoughts and feelings, gauging your own private reactions to things as they happen to you, so you can use your responses later in your writing. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself wondering whether your personal reactions might be a little different if you weren’t watching them like a fly on the wall of your own brain.

Yeah, Heisenberg is kind of a jerk.

3. Do an “emotional response” edit pass.

My experience with my writing group has told me that I need to spend more time crafting my characters’ reactions to emotion-inducing events. As I’m getting my chapters ready for review, I set aside time to go methodically through each section, noting response-worthy moments and checking the narrative for appropriate reactions.

There are so many things to consider as you do this. Aside from your characters’ actual reactions, you have to figure out the right way to couch them in the voice you’ve chosen. In fast-paced action sequences, your characters may not have much time to respond to things. It may take a beat or two (or the end of the action) until your characters’ heads and hearts can catch up. If your story uses a “scene-sequel” structure, you may provide an immediate reflex to the emotional high points and then amplify your characters’ reactions in the scenes that follow.

However you choose to do it, explicitly tying the big moments in your story to specific reactions in your characters can solidify the impact these moments have on your reader.

4. Ask readers for help.

No matter how much effort I put into fine-tuning my characters’ responses, I always miss something. Usually multiple somethings. The amazing people in my writing group know me well enough that they instinctively look for off-key or absent reactions in the chapters I submit for review.

If you have similar challenges in your own writing, you can ask your readers to be specifically on the lookout for areas where characters’ emotional reactions don’t seem to meet their expectations. Give them a shorthand comment or a specific highlight color to use to indicate particular passages where a little telling could supplement what you’re already showing. Once others have helped identify the problem passages, go back to your characters to find out what their inner (and outer) responses should be.

My own writing has benefited from this process. I hope yours does, too.

showing-telling-ducks

______________________________
David-Profile-PicDavid Baker is an author, playwright, marketing professional, blogger and freelance editor. He has ghost-written several books and authored dozens of published articles on such topics as business technology, the insurance industry, marketing and data security. He writes both YA and “grown-up” fiction and is actively querying several projects. He also edits the monthly journal of a national trade organization. In his spare time, he runs marathons, shoots guns, cooks curries, paints shoes and builds things. He has an A.A. in theater, a B.A. in English and an M.A. in linguistics. Born in Arizona, raised in Hawaii, currently living in Utah, David is actively involved in theater. His stage play, Inside Al, won the Henry Fonda Young Playwright Award and premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. The play is published by Samuel French and has been in near-continuous production for more than two decades, with hundreds of performances across the US and Canada. You can find his personal blog at blog.bakerdavid.com.

Let Them Hear Your Voice

By Nancy E. Johnson

The one thing that pops up on almost every agent’s wish list is a book that has “voice.” Rarely do you find a modifier like “edgy voice,” “alluring voice,” or “baby voice.” No, they keep it simple and at the same time make the whole thing fairly esoteric by just saying they want voice. It’s like that “it” quality. You either have it or you don’t.  Never despair though because you can find your unique voice, develop it, and use it to connect with your readers.

Voice can be difficult to define. I believe it’s the unique, original way that you and only you put words together. It’s also your outlook on the world and human nature that serves as your fingerprint in literature. A few years ago, I participated in a literary idol contest where three successful authors judged an excerpt of my novel-in-progress while I tried to play it cool with a blank face. Once they got past the first paragraph and then the second, I remembered to breathe. Young Adult author David Yoo described my writing by saying “that’s an assured voice.” I bit my lip and conjured up sad memories, which is my little trick to deflate my euphoria in moments where it might be inappropriate.

voice.png

Sometimes it’s easier to recognize talent in others, so be on the lookout for voices that captivate you. When I first read “The Mothers” by Brit Bennett, I was blown away throughout the entire book. The Greek chorus of church mothers who spoke as one wore the sass and all-knowing tone familiar to anyone who has spent time around seasoned black women, especially those on the usher and deacon boards.

A girl nowadays has to get nice and close to tell if her main ain’t shit and by then, it might be too late. We were girls once. It’s exciting, loving someone who can never love you back. Freeing, in its own way. No shame in loving an ain’t-shit man, long as you get it out your system good and early. A tragic woman hooks into an ain’t-shit man, or worse, lets him hook into her. He will drag her until he tires. He will climb atop her shoulders and her body will sag from the weight of loving him. Yes, those are the one we worry about.

 Now don’t tell me you didn’t just slap your laptop or throw your phone across the room after reading that passage. It’s fresh and bold and original. Also, this serves as a great example of how you can give a collective group of people a rich, narrative voice on the page.

I felt a similar connection when I read “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. In the passage below, you can picture and hear this stubborn, crochety man and get a glimpse into his worldview. The “voice” of Ove rises from every page of the book.

“Now you listen to me,” says Ove calmly while he carefully closes the door. “You’ve given birth to two children and quite soon will be squeezing out a third. You’ve come here from a land far away and most likely you fled war and persecution and all sorts of other nonsense. You’ve learned a new language and got yourself an education and you’re holding together a family of obvious incompetents. And I’ll be damned if I’ve seen you afraid of a single bloody thing in this world before now….I’m not asking for brain surgery. I’m asking you to drive a car. It’s got an accelerator, a brake and a clutch. Some of the greatest twits in world history have sorted out how it works. And you will as well.” And then he utters seven words, which Parvaneh will always remember as the loveliest compliment he’ll ever give her. “Because you are not a complete twit.” 

You, too, can find your voice as a writer, but it takes practice. Other writers who have read my pages describe my voice in fiction as raw and visceral. That was never intentional on my part. I never studied voice or tried to channel it. My voice continues to reveal itself naturally, but I still think I’m in the throat scratching stage. In my early days of writing, I’d try to mimic my own literary idols, marveling at their turns of phrase and wordsmithing, hoping I could co-opt just a sliver of their shine. That formula fails every time. Only when you put your authentic self on the page time after time will your distinct voice emerge.

__________________________________

nancyNancy E. Johnson is a senior communications leader with an Emmy-nominated, award-winning journalism background. She contributed to O, the Oprah Magazine which published her personal essay in the November 2015 issue. Nancy serves as secretary for Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter and was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s 2016 Rising Star Contest and one of the winners of Writer’s Digest’s “Dear Lucky Agent” contest. When she’s not reading, writing or pontificating about politics, she’s running and eating chocolate, sometimes at the same time. The Chicago native is writing her first novel.

 

 

Hear Me Out: Adding Voice to Stories

If it weren’t for writing you probably wouldn’t hear me at all. For a dark skinned, 6’3, bald guy with the physique of a NFL linebacker, you’d think it would difficult to blend in with the scenery. However I manage to do this quite well.

While I may not like to hear my voice in real life the one place I do want it heard is in my stories. Here are a few ways I keep my voice in stories.

Quotes_Creator_20170312_163418

Audiobooks

Yes, this isn’t officially my voice, but I’ve found that listening to great stories helps me in crafting my own. I have three hours of commute five days a week so that’s a lot of time to think about stories and listen to how they should be created. My weapons of choice are the paid service of Audible and the library offered service of Overdrive. While on my drives I can listen to how a cadence should be, how worlds are built in genres I’m unfamiliar with, and other tools of the trade. Reading will always be our best teacher to better writing, and audiobooks are a great way to keep that education going.

Speech Recognition Software

I have fallen in love with the Dragon Speech Recognition software! Since I write longhand I get to read what I’m working on aloud. In doing so I can hear what works and what doesn’t work. Going over the passages one by one makes it incredibly easy to sure up what are weak parts of the story and what should be taken out. If you don’t have the Dragon you can try Google’s speech recognition out in their Drive or GoogleDoc apps.

Text-To-Speech

A recent discover (to me at least) has been the text-to-speech feature on Kindle. You can send your manuscript to your kindle and then use the feature to read your story back to you. Although it is a slightly robotic sound (think Siri) it will sound as if your words are being read by a member of your audience. You can hear how it would sound from someone else.

These are a few things I use to add voice to my stories. What are some things you use? Until next time have a writeous day!

_______________________

Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Know your Writing Flavor

I just left New Mexico, where I attended the Women’s Fiction Writers Association annual retreat. I was there for four days and the question asked at nearly every restaurant was “Red or green?” This, of course, is because Albuquerque is home to Mexican food in pretty much every way you can imagine, and which sauce you want to put on that food is important.

While I was there, I also had the chance to attend a session wherein authors got to test the waters of reading parts of our book out loud. It was a chance to experience our words in a different way. But what happened as I sat there waiting for my turn was I got to experience the brilliance of 9 other authors and became completely aware of the flavor that each writer used.

Women’s fiction is defined as a book that follows an adult protagonist’s emotional journey. A lot of times, when people hear this, they think it means emotional like when we reference someone who is emotional: that the story is sad, solemn or somber. But in nine five minute sessions, I heard women’s fiction that was suspenseful, comedic, mysterious, magical, and paranormal. This was particularly noticeable because the whole retreat was focused around one genre.

There can be a temptation, when we are reading and writing, to try and mirror someone else. We try that flavor, think that it’s awesome, tell our friends about it. But I can tell you that after three days of eating nearly every meal with a southwest flavor, I found myself craving something else. Something unique.

know-your-writing-flavor

I think our writing is the same way. We know genre, we understand the nuances of it. But that doesn’t mean that we have to exactly match what is out there. Our uniqueness, our writing voice, the way we see characters, the ideas we have regarding settings are what people crave.

But it can be difficult to identify our flavor. The first thing to do is identify what it is about your writing that you are the most proud of. Is it the emotional arcs you can create? Maybe character depiction is where you are the most strong. What about your prose? Are you snappy? Eloquent? Humorous? Do you have a way to increase tension, to push your audience to the edge of your seat or do you write something that makes people weep openly and in public?

Then, look up books that are similar to yours, comps you may have used when describing your book to others. But figure out what it is about yours that makes it different from those comps. Why would a reader want to pick up your book instead of another by the person you are comparing your book to?

Identifying your flavor of writing will help in drafting, editing and discussions of your book, and will offer readers something different enough to feel refreshing.

_________________________________________

Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and coordinator of the project-based learning center (EDGE) at Southern Utah University. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a hint of magic, and thrives on Diet Coke, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is a co-founder and the managing editor for the Thinking Through Our Fingers blog as well as the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly magazine, where she also serves as a board member. Tasha is represented by Annelise Robey of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Well-Rounded Readers Make Well-Rounded Writers

I’m pretty sure you all know the importance, as writers, of reading books within the genres you write, yes? Obviously, this is a given. How are you to know the trends and meet the expectations of your genre’s audience if you aren’t also a member of your genre’s audience?

By reading within your genre, you learn which tropes to include, and which tropes to avoid. You learn your genre’s average pacing and plot structure, what’s been done and what hasn’t, and how to skirt that line between providing unique characters and a unique plot, while still adhering to the qualities and characteristics of your particular genre that will keep readers coming back for more.

But there’s something to be said for reading outside your genre as well. I used to be timid about doing this. For the longest time, I nearly exclusively read SFF books because that’s what I was drawn to. That’s why I chose to write within that genre, after all. I love SFF. I can relate to it, and at the same time, it transports me away from normal, everyday life.

Lately, however, I’ve been making a concerted effort to read more widely. And you know what? Not only have I found that I enjoy a much larger selection of stories than I thought I would, my writing has improved as well. Tremendously. I know it’s improved, because I now find myself looking at my characters differently, and being more creative about the situations I put them in, as well as how I have them react to those situations. I’ve also honed my writing voice more—with different genres comes different ways of wording things, and my exposure to this is coming out in my own style of writing.

wellrounded

As mentioned above, I mostly write SFF. More specifically, I write urban and contemporary fantasy. However, so far this year, I’ve read mysteries, historical fiction, magical realism, contemporary romance, and dark, twisty thrillers with unreliable narrators. Each one of these books has influenced my writing for the better.

Mystery has helped me figure out what information I should (and shouldn’t) reveal to the reader, and when. Historical fiction has taught me the importance of understanding the socio-political landscape in which my characters have been placed. Magical realism has influenced me to slow down during certain moments throughout my stories and really focus on the sensory details, drawing the reader into my character’s experience as far as I can. Contemporary romance has been a terrific study on the push and pull that takes place in character relationships, and how to add delicious tension. And thrillers with unreliable narrators have helped to remind me that every character is the hero within their own story, and they’re all going to want to portray themselves that way, whether their portrayal is accurate or not.

I have books in other genres waiting on my to-be-read list as well. Horror, for instance. And comedy. And I read plenty of non-fiction as well.

“Wait . . . non-fiction? You mean besides books about writing?”

Heck yes, you should read non-fiction! And not just for story research, either. Right now, for instance, I’m reading (well, actually listening to) a book about the quirky ways in which the brain works.* How is that helpful? Well, in understanding how the human brain works, I can better understand why my characters do what they do. I’ve also been reading biographies, which make great character studies, books on time-management, which are helpful for managing my writing life, and of course (since I have a degree in the subject) history books. History is the ultimate plot bunny source, let me tell you. Even if you’re writing a contemporary book, or a book set in the future.

So I challenge you now, if you’re hesitant about reading outside your writing genre, to go do exactly that. Ask trusted friends for recommendations, scroll through Goodreads, or take yourself down to your local library or bookstore and walk past your favorite shelves, over to new, unexplored territory. You can thank me later. No, seriously, after you’re done reading. Pretend I’m not here. I don’t want to interrupt you.

. . . Puts finger to lips and tiptoes away. . . .

 

*THE IDIOT BRAIN, by Dean Burnett
______________________________________

When she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard (it’s all the same, right?), Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele (badly), knitting (rarely anymore, unfortunately), or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys (pretty much constantly) with her husband. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. (Go Huskies!) Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here.

Bad Books and Lessons Learned: Part One

You’ve seen them. You know they’re out there. Perhaps you’ve even handled a few. I’m talking about bad books. From unedited fan fictions that are self-publishing sensations to traditionally published bestsellers that your friends tell you’ll love, only for you to realize your friends don’t know or love you at all. The point is they are out there. They’re taking up space on bookshelves. They, well, exist.

So what can you do about it? Pout most likely. Ball up your fist to shake at the sky while you curse the publishing gods (don’t worry, I’ve done it too). Well, those are a couple of ways to go about it. Another way is the Joe Hill approach. As I listened to an interview the author did where someone spoke up about books that are considered bad that became successful while he was still building his name and brand. Here’s how he responded: “Hey, art is art, man. What you like is what you like. Apparently there are plenty of people who did like those books enough to fatten the pockets of all involved. To tell you the truth I read these types of books. Not because I’m a masochist but because they made it big, so I can try to figure out why.”

There’s plenty of truth in this as many books make it onto store shelves and libraries that make you wonder “how in the world did this get approved?” Outside of the universe hating you there are plenty of other reasons this happens. So what can we learn from so called bad books?

Know your audience.

Good books and bad books know what their audience wants, whether it be punchy dialogue or multiple book boyfriends that the lead can’t seem to decide between. It’s not that someone may write better than you, it’s that they can read their audience and give them exactly what they want.

Let your voice sing.

There was a very popular book that came out a couple years that I bought on people’s recommendation. They made it sound so amazing, fun and full of magic. So I read it . . . and I listened to it as read by one of my favorite audio book narrators. My lord, I was bored senseless. I’ve come across quite a few people afterwards who reported having the same problem with it. One thing we all agreed on was the voice, the way the words flowed, was absolutely beautiful. The author took great care in the words used, making it poetry. In the end you wanted to go right along the road of nonevent to nonevent just as long as the words didn’t stop. Take care of your words and they’ll take care of your story. But please add a story.

Use your assets.

In this day and age it’s almost impossible to get noticed without some type of internet presence. The whole world is there to sell your book to, but the whole world is trying to sell theirs as well. So how do you stand out?

This brings me to a beef I have with a certain self-published author. This author, who I refuse to name, used Kickstarter to get their book out. I’m not knocking building your audience and brand through this platform, it’s incredibly difficult. Selling books through Kickstarter or Indiegogo is a hassle and the numbers prove it with only around two percent of books put up get funded. My problem with this particular person was the fact that for rewards she offered to do videos wearing tighter shirts. Grr. Before I hear any feedback, no, I did not back this. However plenty did so she got multiple books out with outlandish art from top artists in the comic book field, yada yada yada.

I’m not saying to do anything along this line (please don’t). But if there’s anything to take away from this it’s use your assets whatever they may be. Have a smile that lights up the night? Make sure you’re smiling in your profile and author pics. Love cats? Let the world see your cat love. Are you a culinary wunderkind? Present those foodie masterpieces. There’s more to you than just being a writer or mom/ dad. We all have a bit of something that makes us stand out. Learn to flaunt it and let that build your audience as well.

Hmmm… Went on a little rant there. I suppose that’s enough for now. There’s plenty for another.

Until then have a writeous day!
_______________________

Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

A Study in Voice

Voice is a vital element that can make or break a story. It sets a tone, an expectation for what’s to come, and should capture the reader’s attention on page one. Ask five writers for a definition of voice and you may get five very different answers. But some basic influencing factors remain constant: whether you’re writing in first, second, or third person; whether that point of view is close or distant; and whether you choose to tell your story in past or present tense.

To take it further, you must consider factors such as the age, education, and life experience of your character. Is he snarky? Shy? Eloquent? An eternal optimist, or bitter and defensive?

These qualities will determine the language you use, every sentence infused with the main character’s personality. The reader should get a strong sense of who this person is without the author having to say, “John was bitter and defensive.” How about: “John stood on the stoop in a pair of faded long johns, cussing out the neighbor brat for trampling his long-dead lawn.”

On the flip side, there can be such a thing as too much voice. Have you ever read a book and put it down again because the voice was overwhelming or felt forced? Trying to strike a natural balance in your own writing is often a matter of trial and error. During this process, the urge to toss your laptop through a window is perfectly normal (or so I’ve heard).

For a more effective study in voice than I could ever hope to convey, I pulled four of my favorite books from the shelves to offer four distinct examples of voice.

Cynthia Voigt, HOMECOMING

“Surrounded by sleepers, Dicey sat content. The car was a cave within which they were safe. It held them together; and it protected them from outside forces, the cold, the damp, people.”

What we see: Sparse, simple language, straightforward and practical like Dicey herself, a thirteen-year-old girl who becomes responsible for her three younger siblings when their mother abandons them in a mall parking lot.

Judy Blume, TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING

“Fudge was supposed to fall asleep before we sat down to dinner. But just in case, my mother put a million little toys in his crib to keep him busy. I don’t know who my mother thought she was fooling. Because we all know that Fudge can climb out of his crib any old time he wants to.”

What we see: Doesn’t this just scream nine-year-old boy? It’s first person, contemporary and informal, the phrasing skillfully conveying “classic, put-upon older brother.”

Susan Cooper, OVER SEA, UNDER STONE

“The thunder rolled quietly, far out over the sea, but the rain fell with grey insistence, blurring the windows as it washed down outside. The children wandered aimlessly about the house. Before lunch they tried going for a walk in the rain, but came back damp and depressed.”

What we see: Told in third person, the language is much more formal and richly descriptive. She paints an atmosphere of mystery long dormant, promising adventures to come.

Lloyd Alexander, THE BOOK OF THREE

“Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long.”

What we see: In the very first line of the book, the author gives you a sense that Taran is young and impulsive, that the story is not likely set in the modern world, and it will contain both adventure and a lively sense of humor.

Grab a few books from your shelves at home and browse through them to see how your favorite authors have tackled the issue of voice. It’s the best way I know to master an elusive but critical skill. It’s also a fun reminder of why those books laid claim to your heart from the very first page.

_______________________________

Growing up, Christine Hayes loved reading stories about creatures that curl your toes and legends that send a shiver down your spine. Now she loves writing about them, too. Her debut novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE, was released in June 2015 through Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. Christine seeks inspiration by haunting flea markets and estate sales, searching for cool vintage finds with a story to tell. While earning her degree in music she visited Asia for the first time, and later moved there with her family for several years. She has been addicted to travel ever since. Christine and her clan now live in northern Utah. Find her online at www.christinehayesbooks.com.