Author, Barbara Studham

Creator of memoir, fiction, and children's picture book, Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome


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Writing Tips: Dialogue

What a wonderful addition to narrative!

Hearing accents

Hearing accents

I love characters in books who talk too much. Despite their annoying chatter, they advance the storyline. Fiction requires dialogue. Without it, the story would read as boring. Now comes the “however.”

However, as most people do not speak perfect English, a writer needs to adapt to the accent/ class/tone/logic of the character who is speaking. A simple example: no English cockney character would speak in an affluent manner, unless that person had deliberately changed his style; in which case, that scenario should be added to the storyline.

Writing Tips: Dialogue

Look, for a moment, at the following characters. One says, “Yesterday, I called on you, but you appeared not to be at home.” The other replies with, “That’s strange. I know I was in.” Two different class of characters: the first completes his sentence with “at home”; the second leaves the preposition “in” hanging. If both characters were considered of the same class they would either say, “Yesterday, I called on you, but you weren’t in.” with the reply being “That’s strange. I know I was in.” Alternatively, the first would say, “Yesterday, I called on you, but you appeared not to be at home.” with the reply, “That’s strange. I assure you, I was home all day.”

Speaking styles reveal all. Amazingly, from how the character speaks, the reader can tell where he is from; his mode of upbringing; his class status; his principles; his personality, and his attitude. Invariably, readers are less drawn to a character by what he does, and more by what he says, and the way he speaks.

That is why authors should read books. Dissecting other authors’ work is part of being a good writer. It helps to avoid obvious mistakes when writing a manuscript. It also helps to learn how a character’s personality is revealed through their dialogue.

Keep Writing!

 


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Hit with Writer’s Block?

Hit with Writer's Block?

Hit with Writer’s Block?

Hit Back!

Writer’s block is a severe invasion of your writing. It can cause doubt in your ability to be an author, and set you back for days, sometimes weeks. But, don’t dismay, when you are aware of the various root causes of writer’s block, they can be overcome, and you will be back on track in no time.

  1. My own experience with writer’s block has taught me not to over-think my story. Over-thinking is a consequence of over-writing: too many hours in front of the page. All writers know that two hours per day expanding a manuscript is enough; more, and we lose focus, grow tired, and push our story and ourselves too hard. Writer’s fatigue equals writer’s block.
  2. Your story could be progressing down the wrong path. If so, it will read as boring. You will begin to question your character, his/her actions, the setting or location, or your ability to expand his/her personality and role in the story; hence, the onset of writer’s block. If so, take a break from writing and spend a few days reading.
  3. Read only books in the genre you are writing. Read your favorite authors of the genre. Make notes of their characters. Are they all evil, or all angelic? Usually neither: your characters should be a bit of both, so if you focus on one character in one way, you will hit writer’s block. Take the same attitude with your plot. Does your character “fit” into the story? Perhaps not: if so, is there an alternate character in your story who would make for a better fit? Writing is like character casting for a movie. We all know when an actor has been miscast as it diminishes the movie. Switching a secondary character into the main role of your story can trigger an intriguing “twist” in the plot, and surprise your reader.

Writer’s block can be the downfall of many a writer.

That is why I wrote a fictional tale on the subject called,

Not My Type. 

Not My Type

Not My Type

In the fictional story, Not My Type, the main character, Lisa Paige, is a respected non-fiction writer who envies the accolades bestowed upon her fiction-writing mother, Madge Paige. So much so that, while desperately trying her hand at fiction, writer’s block hits, and Lisa begins to hallucinate, causing fictional characters to come to life and visit her home. Frantically offering her bribes in return for inclusion in her book, the characters explain her refusal would result in their deletion within the fictional world. As characters compete for billing, murder and mayhem ensues, as each are in conflict and equally determined to be forefront in Lisa’s novel. But is there an alternate motive for their brawling? Does Lisa complete her work of fiction and find the fame she so desperately yearns? In Not My Type, discover how her fictional characters’ skirmishes bring a life-changing twist to Lisa’s future.

Available as ebook for .99 cents (usd) from your Amazon, the following links, and many other ebook distributors.

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com

 

 


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Writing Style

What is your Style of Writing?

You are a unique individual. There is no one else in the world like you, and it should show in your style of writing. So often, we make the mistake of comparing our writing style with that of famous authors, and convince ourselves we are not famous because our style appears inferior to theirs. Take note, there is no story that has not yet been written; it is the style of writing, not the story, which determines success.  It is how the story is written that makes it unique.

If you are new to writing, it will take a while for your style to emerge. It cannot be forced or fabricated. You might even write several stories before your style develops, but when it does you will sense it forming. From then on, it will be difficult to ignore, and will make writing much easier.

What is style in writing?

Style has been described in many different ways. When my style emerged, I noticed one way was through my choice of words. I found myself choosing the same words to describe events, and when I used a thesaurus to find a similar word, I often chose the same one from the list of alternatives. The reason I chose those words was that I felt they “fit me.” They were the words I would choose when speaking to another individual. The word just “seemed right.”

I also noticed the similar lengths in my sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, and my consistency in punctuating narrative with dialogue. I had started out wanting my writing to speak to the reader, as if the individual and I were in the same room and I was telling the story. When my style emerged, I found it did just that in a casual easy-to-read manner, void of unnecessary add-ons or drawn-out descriptions.

Creating a style

Don’t be deceived into thinking a repetitive writing style will create boring stories. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It simply makes writing and editing less laborious, affording the author more time to develop and maintain the story line. My own style emerged during my writing of my seaside town series, Under The Shanklin Sky. I have written three in the series, and will release another three later this year. Discovering my writing style helped me grow the series and enjoy its creation.

Under The Shanklin Sky series includes

  • Under The Shanklin Sky
  • The Bathing Beauty
  • The Faring Foxglove

Available soon: A Hint of Spring, The Spitting Image, Mann Overboard

All available from your Amazon, the following links, and many other ebook distributors:

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com


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More Writing Tips

Keep your manuscript professional

Two posts ago, I offered some handy writing tips which were well received, so I am offering more. I wish I could say the following list was compiled by me, but I received it years ago from someone whose name I cannot remember. Nevertheless, that does not change its importance to writers who want their manuscripts to appear professionally written.

Periods in abbreviations.

  • There are no periods between the letters in acronyms such as CBC, HIV, AA; nor in countries/provinces/states (US, UK, ON, BC)
  • There are no periods following: Mr Mrs Dr PhD but after Prof. there is a period.
  • There are no periods following measurement abbreviations: km m cm ft in
  • Use periods between abbreviations such as a.m. and p.m. and a.k.a.; also use between initials of a person’s name, such as W.C. Fields, W.H. Auden, or J.R.R. Tolkien, with no spaces between the initials.

Hope this helps you as much as it did me. Don’t forget to file this info somewhere close to your fingertips while writing. In the meantime, why not check out the first in my seaside series ebooks: Under the Shanklin Sky: only .99 cents (usd) and available from your Amazon or the following links. The second in the series: The Faring Foxglove, and the third: The Bathing Beauty, are also available. Please watch for my next three in the Series: A Hint of Spring, The Spitting Image, and Mann Overboard, coming soon in 2017.

Under The Shanklin Sky

Under The Shanklin Sky

Genre: Fiction/Adventure. Title: Under the Shanklin Sky

Milly Mullan is a retiree from London with delightful childhood memories of holidays spent at the scenic seaside town of Shanklin, located on the Isle of Wight. As an adult, she intended to vacation there often, but, with a successful career as an interior designer to oversee, and hubby being top chef at a popular up-scale London restaurant, time to holiday was denied them. Not until retired, did Milly return to Shanklin, by which time Harry had died from health complications. Their daughter, Rosie, had grown up and married. Still, Milly has only one regret: losing touch with a young boy, Jonathan, she had met when only ten-years old during one of her Shanklin vacations. When retired, her hope to see him again absorbed her thoughts until, one day, while tending her balcony flowers; she found a valuable silver fob watch in a flowerpot. Determined to find its owner, she begins a search and finally locates her lost love, but is it Jonathan? To find out, join Milly—Under the Shanklin Sky.

The first in the seaside series, Under the Shanklin Sky is available at your Amazon and the following links:

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com


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Hamilton (ON) Writing Clubs

Be part of a writing group!

Joining a writing group, circle, or club, is as essential for published authors as it is for first-time writers. Benefiting from other writers’ support, tips, knowledge, expertise, reviews, along with writing exercises and prompts, is paramount to getting words down on the page.

In Hamilton-Wentworth, I am aware of two writing clubs. Professor Barry Gottlieb facilitates one at Neighbour 2 Neighbour bookstore on Athens Street. Viga Boland hosts another at Turner Park Library on Rymal Road. Both are free to attend, held during daytime hours, and open to both newbie and experienced writers alike.

For information on Professor Gottlieb’s writing club,

email  ProfessorBarryGottlieb2000@gmail.com

For information on Viga Boland’s writing circle,

visit http://www.vigaboland.com/events

In the meantime, why not check out my ebook, titled, Friday at 4:00, at your Amazon website, the following links, and many other ebook distributors.

Friday at 4:00

Friday at 4:00

Friday at 4:00. Genre/Women’s fiction. Price .99 cents (usd)

Meet Diane, Jane, Bev and Leigh living as neighbors in an affluent district of Brentwood. Like many neighborhoods, the four are ignorant of each other’s existence but unexpectedly meet up after their lives spiral out of control. Their meeting takes place at a most unlikely location in stark contrast to their prosperity, and they soon discover they have more in common than wealth. Each one is there to shed reminders of painful memories associated with their acts of foolishness, greed, bitterness, and lust. Although fiction, their lives shed light on the pain women suffer through adultery, age-gap relationships, marital boredom, and aging: hidden pains seldom revealed due to embarrassment, self-loathing, and a fear of ridicule. But when the four women finally meet, do they share their shame, or wisely stay silent? Only time will tell.

Available at your Amazon store, the following links,

and many more ebook distributors.

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com

 

 


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Handy Writing Tips!

Getting it Right!

Writing is fun … punctuation and grammar, not so much. When I wrote my first manuscript, I admit, my punctuation was poor, and I struggled with corrections. Then, an author shared a page of writing tips with me, and I learned a lot. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the source of the following tips, but hope they help you as much as they did me.

Using numbers in a manuscript:

  • Numerals from 99 and under are spelled out (twelve days, fourteen pounds)
  • Numerals from 100 and up are spelled numerically (100 days, 500 pounds)
  • Numerals of 1,000 and up are spelled numerically, with comma inserted (1,250)
  • Numerals of 1 million and up are spelled with both numerals and text (1.2 million)
  • Always spell out the word “percent” (52.5 percent). Do not use the symbol unless the section or entire book contains many statistics.

These tips are especially pertinent if you forward your manuscript to a publisher as they expect perfection. It is equally important if you self-publish as errors reflect on your ability as an author. I will share more tips over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

My ebooks:

In the meantime, why not check out my ebook, titled, The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old: only .99 cents (USD), and available from your Amazon, the following links, and many other ebook distributors.

The Look of a Twelve-Year Old

The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old

Fiction:  The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old

Meet Claire Peters. From seemingly innocent youngster to evil conniver, she takes you on her journey from lowly Saturday Girl working at The Glass Stiletto located in small town Heatherly, to executive for a leading company: SLATES Inc. of London. While working at The Glass Stiletto, she set her sights on winning the Stiletto Award for achieving the highest annual sales. But, a nasty rival bent on defeating her, stood in the way. Refusing to be deterred from reaching her goal, Claire took drastic action against her opponent. From there, Claire Peters joined the ranks of executives but on the way to the top, lost track of who she was and what she hoped to achieve. Many years later, recently fired from her executive position at SLATES Inc, she traded common sense for the sake of bloody revenge against the team responsible for her dismissal.

Available now from:

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com

Other fine ebook distributors

 


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Another of my Passions!

Studying Parables and Prophecy

Apart from writing books, and learning how to paint, another of my passions is studying the Bible, especially parables and prophecy, so, a few years back, I began a lineage chart connecting all the people mentioned in the Old Testament from God to Jesus. With all those “begat” connections, it took me over six months to complete the chart which finally filled thirty-one Word pages and, when pinned on my wall, was almost twelve feet wide by four feet high.

I have no idea how to print it out as one poster, but want to share it with others, so I am now attempting to minimize the whole chart onto a Word PDF to allow readers to zoom to their area of interest.

Here is a photo of how it looks pinned to my bedroom wall. It’s so long, it stretches along the wall and around the door, but I couldn’t get the whole thing in the photo. Wish me luck fitting it all onto a PDF! Or, if you know of an easier way, please contact me.

Bible lineage chart

Bible lineage chart

I’m not sure how long it will take me to minimize it, but, in the meantime, why not check out my ebooks on Amazon!

ebooks

ebooks

All my ebooks are available from your Amazon store, and the following links:

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

https://www.kobo.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com