If you’re regular reader of Lit. World Interviews you’ll recognise this post, but although originally I was only going to ask you a question, I thought I my as well share this with you too (especially because Canva proved very temperamental and it took me a great deal of time). But don’t miss the question at the end! Or to check the surprise! (sorry, things kept piling up!)
Here it goes:
I don’t know you, but I have recently been attending many webinars, on different topics. Recently (22nd October) I attended a free webinar organised by Jane Friedman that had Jerry Jenkins (21 times New York Times best selling author) as guest, on the Secrets of Storytelling.
I’ve read, listened to, and attended courses, lectures and seminars, on writing. And like all advice, some will resonate more with some people than others. Although the seminar seemed geared towards people who were trying to find their confidence writing (if one ever gets there) rather than seasoned scribblers, I enjoyed the personal wisdom and Jerry’s style of delivery, and I thought I’d try and bring you some nuggets from it, especially as I know that quite a few people are going for NaNoWriMo. I decided to try and make it less boring with images, but we shall see if it works…
Although most are self-explanatory, I thought I’d give a few pointers on some.
- Jerry Jenkins said that formulas don’t really work, as they make the story seem… well, formulaic, I guess. He referred to Dean Koontz How to Write Best Selling Fiction when talking about the classic structure. His brief summary was: Plunge your character into a terrible situation; everything he tries to do makes the situation worse; things look hopeless, and hero saves the day (by doing what he’s learned on the way).
- In reference to his previous point, he said that although you have to put your characters in extreme situations, it’s best not to start the novel at that point, because it’s better to build up the character so that the reader gets to care for him, or her (or them).
- I think it’s self-explanatory. Don’t hit the readers in the head with a hammer, although for him, there’s always a message, otherwise there’s no novel.
- There isn’t always romance in all novels (or movies, it might depend on genre) but it’s very common. He gave many examples of not very original ways of introducing the love interest (although referring to movies, characters bumping into each other, blind date…), but it all depends on how it’s done.
- His advice, that I’ve seen in many places, is that it’s best to get the story down once you get writing, and not try to edit at the same time. He said that he’d edit first thing the next day what he’d written the previous day. In the case of NaNoWriMo, unless your brain goes completely blank and can’t remember what you’ve written, it’s probably best to keep going…
- Nothing to add (unless it’s a peculiarity of a character).
- I couldn’t find a colour that would show well, so I’m transcribing: Writers are readers. Read in your genre, but also read about the craft of writing. He mentioned quite a few of his favourite books, but the world (or the library) is your oyster.
- In discussing point of view of the character he reminded the audience that it’s like the camera we see the action through. He mentioned the most common (first person narrated in past tense, or third person limited), and noted that perhaps for somebody starting to write, first person might be easier. He talked about his own experience of struggling with one of his stories and how he heard a particular character talking in the first person in his head, and that was it.
- This is a very personal take on the matter, but he observed that sometimes other characters in the story might take over and run with it.
- He didn’t seem to be a big lover of flashbacks explaining the background story, as he felt they slowed down the action. In real life we get to know people gradually.
- This one sounds a bit zen, but he referred to himself as a pantser, and said that sometimes you might get to a certain ending through writing the story, and that’s a perfect way to make sure that it’s surprising to the reader, because it’s a surprise to you too.
- If you’re worried, you’re in the right track. He referred to this as the ‘Exponential multiplication of emotions’ equation. If you feel sad at some point in your story, the reader will feel the same but magnified. And if you feel bored… well, you get the gist.
- You’re not alone. His message was that if you get stuck, there are many places where you can get help, be it virtual or real writers’ groups (his comments were invaluable but…), coaches, books, other writers…
You can check Jerry Jenkins’s page here
He offers courses, including one was promoting seminars later in October, but you can check his page and that of Jane for more information if you’re an interested (I have no connection with them other than attending the webinar, that was free).
And here, the question. I’ve been debating what to do with my website. I have a separate website (apart from this blog), here. I got the domain before I started publishing books, after reading how important it is to have your own website. As I knew nothing about how to create a website, I contracted a programme, also with GoDaddy, that facilitated the creation of one’s own website, without requiring any programming knowledge. Even with that, it’s a bit cumbersome to make many alterations to it, and it’s fairly static. I’ve never had much traffic going through it, and have more people reading my blog (that I also share there, but a lot of the readers come directly from WordPress). I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d be better off getting rid of my separate website and just having my blog/website, here, in WordPress. I investigated, and it’s possible to use your own domain (also to buy your personal one through WordPress, but I already have my own) to host the blog (here some information I found about it). Because of other things that I want to explore in the future, I’m considering moving to one of their premium plans (some info here). Now, the programme I mentioned for creating websites is live for me (I’ve paid for it already) until the end of July 2016. And no, it’s non-refundable. Of course, if I move the blog to my domain at www.OlgaNM.com, that site will disappear (I also have the instructions on the Go Daddy side of things, here). Part of my thoughts have to do with changing a few things here (I’ve been adding stuff, but I want to get rid of some too), so I’m not that concerned about what it looks like. I plan on that changing at some point.
What I wanted to ask is if any of you have done this (or part of it) and how have you found it. I’m not the most technical of people, and although I know there’s support available, I want to try and keep it complication free. Any thoughts or personal experience would be greatly appreciated.
And the surprise. Here I’m being interviewed by Freddy Piedrahita. We’ll be running a programme interviewing writers and artists in the future. Have a listen and see if you’d like to join in!
Thanks to Jane Friedman and Jerry Jenkins for the the webinar and thanks to you all for reading, and for your help. Do take care, and good writing. And of course, don’t forget to like, share, comment, and CLICK!