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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

DSC_6334_smallWelcome to my writing pages. This is a new adventure for me as I delve into the realm of the World Wide Web!    The main focus of this page is to explore ways beginning writers can find inspiration.  You’ll also find information on the novels I am working on.  My schedule for posting is:

Monday Sparks: Writing ideas to fan your creative flame

Tuesdays and Thursdays – Writing Tips

Occasional Wednesdays – Facts about West Virginia, the setting of my books

Occasional Saturdays – My faith walk as a Christian

You may also find me on Facebook at JPC Allen Writes.

Featured post

Writing Tip — Evoking Sound, Part 1

headphones-1301527_1280Every writer knows that to draw a reader into her literary world she needs to describe it in terms of the fives senses. But knowing and doing are two different things.  I know I rely too heavily on sight and need to work on using the other four.  Almost an Author is running a series of posts on writing with senses.  This one on sound provides an interesting exercise to get you to notice sound more.

Reviewing my novel, I found a few areas where I do use sound.  One is in how characters sound when they talk. Below are a few examples.

Describing a three-year-old boy: “Because he … talked so well, True gave you the weird impression he was a miniature adult.”

A sixteen-year-old boy is chronically nervous.  So he talks fast.  Throughout my story, I mention “Gabe answered at full speed”, and “The longer he talked, the faster he got”. He also has a habit of drumming his hands on any handy surface when he’s really nervous.

A petty crook has “a voice as deep and rocky as an abandoned mine”.  Later he speaks in his “basement voice.”

group-1825509_1280One thing I can’t do is use dialogue tags to describe the voice, like “roared”, “squeaked”, or “hissed.”  And it’s definitely out to use adverbs, such as “she said sternly” or “he said weakly.”  I can use “whisper” or “shout” or “yell”, sparingly, to indicated volume, but since minimizing dialogue tags is the style now, it’s better to convey the sound of the voice through either the dialogue itself or actions that accompany it.

I have a character who runs a notoriously wild bar and may be engaged in illegal activities there.  So he doesn’t like the police. When the sheriff shows up at his bar to investigate a possible crime, he says, “‘Get lost, Acker.’ Mr. Ferrick flung an arm at the patrol car.”

Since I have already established Ferrick doesn’t like the police, his action conveys how he sounds when he speaks to them.

For more on dialogue tags, read my previous post on them.

Another area I can use to evoke sound is nature.  My book is set in the mountains of eastern West Virginia, so I have a great opportunity to make a scene come alive with sound.

I’ll discuss that next time.

Monday Sparks — writing prompts to fan your creative flame

meteorite-1060886_1280Since I usually find landscapes inspiring, whether I look at one in person or in a painting or photograph, this Monday’s prompt is a sci-fi landscape. This scene intrigued me because the people in it don’t seem scared of the fiery meteor.  They are focusing on it but their postures don’t reveal any fear.  Why?  Were they expecting it? Maybe meteors fly by all the time.  I could start a story like this:

My little brother looked up from the praying mantis he was holding. We both watched the meteor soar out of sight.

“Do you think it’ll land where the others have?”

I said, “Sure.  Why not?”

“Can we go see?  Please?”

I rolled my eyes, but since I had to watch Jake any way, we might as well.

“Okay. But remember we have to be quiet.”

Jake bobbed his head up and down in agreement and hopped on his trike.

How does the picture inspire you?

 

Writing Tip — Fantastic Names

robot-2256814_1280If you have been following my blog long, you know I love creating names for characters.  I did a series of posts earlier in the year about what I’ve learned about this kind of writing. If you haven’t read them, here are the links for Post #1, Post #2, and Post #3 on naming characters.

I don’t write science fiction or fantasy, and those genres have their own unique rules for creating names.  This post at Almost An Author covers this topic.  Ms. Zimmerman’s first idea of looking at the root of words reminded me of how unfamiliar Latin words can make original names.

My husband likes birds, and we have bird identifiction books.  As I was perusing one of them, I began reading the Latin names.  The name for a barn owl is “Tyto alba”.  I think that’s a great name for a fantasy hero.  It sounds strong and noble. If it’s a heroine, you could flip it,”Alba Tyto.”  It’s unusual but easy to pronounce, which is critical for your readers.

Other Latin words with name potential are “Strix”, “Asio”, “Surnia Ulula” — a northern hawk-owl — “Athene,” “Nyctea”, “Saya”, and “Sasin”.

If you write in either science fiction or fantasy and need to create names, where do you get your inspiration?

Writing Tip

blogging-1168076_1280My second guest blog for American Christian Fiction Writers is posted today.  It’s about when you lose your delight with writing. Click here to read it.

Monday Sparks — writing prompts to fan your creative flame

netherlands-1439710_1280Describe the perfect picnic or the best picnic you have ever had.  Or send your characters on a picnic.

I’d love to know how you use this.  Enjoy!

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