Writer’s Lift Wednesday #11

This is a writersliftwednesday blog, sharing the works of fellow writers, poets and persons random. All re-blogs will be linked appropriately to their authors.

Writing is no easy calling and nothing easy was ever worth doing.

Support each other. Share and reshare.

But make no mistake. You’ll keep on dying, day in and day out, in more insidious ways, until you’ll find that suffering has its own appeal.

You’ll die so many times that you’ll be so lukewarm when the final moments come that you won’t care about many things. But when the end will be nearest, that’s when you’ll realize that the box was just a hoax. A lie.

“The Unboxing” by Cristian Mihai

Christina Schmidt, MA


1. “Oh, That’s Subtle: The Little Things Holding Your Novel Back” by Janice Hardy via Janice Hardy’s Fiction University

Subtlety can mean the difference between a novel that works and one that falls flat.

The smallest change have a big impact on your writing. One word change, one shift in perspective, and everything’s different. Hopefully such changes result in a better story, but when they don’t, spotting what’s wrong can be frustrating.

Maybe you’re struggling with a story right now, or submitting one that’s getting good feedback, but just not quite landing anywhere, or having beta readers tell you it’s good, but not great, and it’s lacking something they can’t put their finger on. You know you can fix it if you could just find it.

Take a closer look and see if there’s a subtle reason that’s holding your novel back.

Is your premise creating the right expectation in the reader?

Are you writing a romance with a mystery subplot, or a mystery with a romance subplot? Both books can look quite similar, but what one genre expects is different from the other. There might be little things you’re doing that nudge it toward the wrong side and makes it feel off, even though no one can tell you why.

Check your plot, structure, and tone. Do they match the type of story you want to tell? Are you starting out lighthearted then going dark (or vice versa)? Does it sound like another genre or type of book?

Look at the tropes of your genre. Are yours in line with the expectations for that genre? Certain genres require certain tropes, such as a Happy Ever After in romance, or finding a body in the first scene for murder mysteries.

Make sure that the story you want to tell is the one actually being told on the page.

(Here’s more on It’s An Idea: Taking Your Novel From Premise to Plot)

Is your narrative moving the story or just explaining the story?

Sometimes there’s a fine line between narrative that’s in your protagonist’s point of view and the author describing what’s happening to a character.

Look at how you provide information to the reader. Is it technically accurate and well written, but feels as if anyone could have said it, or does it sound like your point of view character? Does the character sound as if they’re experiencing these events as they happen, or simply relaying them as if they were describing a movie or sporting event?

A protagonist just along for the ride can make a story feel aimless.

(Here’s more on Two Reasons Why Your Protagonist Isn’t Driving Your Plot)

Is there tension drawing readers in?

Since you know how events will play out, it’s easy to write a scene that shows your protagonist doing all the things they need to do to succeed in that scene. This can give the scene a sense that there’s no actual opposition to the protagonist’s goal. All the pieces are there, but the feeling that the antagonist is really trying isn’t.

You’re not showing how the protagonist struggles to win, you’re showing how they overcome obstacles to win. One leaves readers with a sense of uncertainty (they struggle, and they might lose), the other leaves them with the sense that the protagonist is just going through the motions (here’s how they overcome this problem).

(Here’s more on Three Ways to Add Tension to a Scene During Revisions)

Are you telegraphing the text?

In an effort to foreshadow, you might be going a bit too far and telegraphing what’s to come. So by the time readers get there, they’re not surprised. Or, you’re explaining why a character is acting instead of just showing them acting.

Check your descriptive action scenes. Are you having your protagonist state their motivations before they act? This can give the text a detached feel, as if the protagonist is explaining things after the fact and not actually participating in them. Look for sentences such as:
But when she tried to run for the door, Bob stopped her.
Make the subtle change to:
She ran for the door. Bob stopped her.
Tiny change, but see how the second example feels more active and immediate?

(Here’s more on Message for M. Reader: Are You Telegraphing Your Plot?)

Are you telling, not showing?

Click here for the full article.

2.Reminisce” by Word Hunter via Poetry and Prose: From Soul to Soul

Let’s go find our lost songs,

Left behind in that forsaken home.

Come walk with me,

On those old worn out roads.

And stay like drops of rain,

Of those passing nights.

Let’s witness the first ray of dawn again,

With the melting of crystals ice.

Sparkling small pieces we find,

Of broken heart of you and I.

How beautiful it was,

Sweet smiles and innocent lies.

Collect the smell of our first kiss,

A feeling on that touch we reminisce.

3. “The Unboxing” by Cristian Mihai via Cristian Mihai (blog)

You are born fearless and powerless. Let that sink in for a bit, think this sentence over for a while. Fearless and powerless.

The only things you’re afraid of are loud noises and falling. That’s it. But you can’t walk, can’t feed yourself, can’t do much. The paradox is that you are born powerless, yet feel invincible. Insatiable. Restless to assume the world, to acquire the knowledge and wisdom required to make your dreams come true. Passionate, brave, wanting to build great, big things. You look up at the stars and want to reach them.

But, in time, you figured out that some things are just not possible.

The people around you place you inside this cardboard box. You fill it up with all the things you know are possible, all that you have learned, all your emotions and states and feelings and what you define as your personality. You slowly turn away your gaze from the stars.

You start building walls instead of bridges. Lots and lots of walls. Failures upon failures. Mistakes, bad habits, a bit of misfortune here and there.

Things that keep you awake at night. Regrets or loneliness or both.

You live inside this box and you call it life. You forget about the child who was filled with love and passion and this restlessness filling his veins.

“This is who I am,” you say to the world. “This box contains all that I am, all that I’ll ever be. All that I can, all that I can do.”

This is all that you’ll ever be able to be. Yet, there’s a small… let’s say that you never truly close the box entirely. You peek out from it once in a while. There’s still a bit of hope that you can become more than what you are, but…

Change is so painful. So hard. Why does it have to be like this? All these bad habits, so difficult to give them up.

That’s the moment most people die.

It could be when they’re twenty or forty or sixty, it doesn’t matter.

The moment you’ve built your box and decided that that’s all you’ll ever be, that’s when you’re dead.

But make no mistake. You’ll keep on dying, day in and day out, in more insidious ways, until you’ll find that suffering has its own appeal.

You’ll die so many times that you’ll be so lukewarm when the final moments come that you won’t care about many things. But when the end will be nearest, that’s when you’ll realize that the box was just a hoax. A lie.

You’ll be a box full of regrets and pain and bad memories that you couldn’t let go of mixed in with some good ones that should have lasted forever.

You must realize there is no box. There are no limits, no fatal defeats, no definitive victory. There is no road to success, no how-to book on being happy, and there isn’t any kind of certainty.

Life is about discovering. It’s about creating.

You built that damn box yourself. You told yourself that you’re stupid or shy or just not talented enough.

You told yourself that story, over and over again, and built your box.

And it takes a hell lot of will power to change this. It’s going to be painful.

Growth is painful.

Deciding that you can expand on what it is you think you are is harder than just deciding that it is possible, that it can be done.

People reach a certain point in their lives when they decide that they’ve suffered enough. And they don’t want to suffer anymore. So they play it safe. They give up on the dreams that seem too big to ever come true, they diminish themselves. They want comfort so bad that they spend their lives reacting to all kinds of discomfort, never seeking to improve.

And thus they keep on suffering.

The idea?

Keep suffering…until you decide that you’ve suffered enough that no one else has to suffer again. If you can do something about it, you will.

That’s how you decide what your life is going to be about. That’s how you stop trying to break walls and realize that you are being guided towards something.

The ideal you.

The one that is capable enough of leaving a mark on this world.

The one who is wise and gentle and open to new learning.

In life, in love, in work, it is important to either change what you don’t like or learn to accept it.

It’s equally important to know when to do so, unless you want to die knowing full well that you didn’t decide your life. You just settled for it.