Thursday, November 20, 2008

Breathing Life into Your Stories

There are several methods to bringing your story to life and avoiding the chronicling of mere facts. These processes help you breathe life into your characters and your story’s environment in order to create a full, dimensional picture. Life is multi-faceted with layers upon layers of complex feelings, emotions, and actions. Your characters must come alive and exhibit those traits. You must engage your reader into caring about your characters.

Each of the techniques below goes beyond the mere stating of facts. In order to get your reader involved in your story, you must be involved. In order for you to be involved, you must create a picture in your reader’s mind that resembles what you see in your mind’s eye when you relive the story. Your story must be full of details, but written in a descriptive, creative way. However, do not go to the extreme with adding details or you will lose the movement of the plot.

The methods used for enhancing your story and making it come alive include:

1. Developing your characters
2. Being descriptive and using imaginative language
3. Setting the tone or mood
4. Having an stimulating opening paragraph
5. Using exciting verbs and a variety of sentence structures
6. Using various literary devices such as Foreshadowing and Flashback
7. Using a point of view which best allows you to tell the story

(These topics will be addressed in more detail in furture blogs.)

These techniques can be divided to help you focus on developing your characters and your story setting. Use the following questions to guide you.

Character Development:

1. Have you shown the character’s personality and physical traits through their actions in the story? Do your characters pop off the page with personality or are they only two dimensional?

2. Do the characters show their action and reactions rather than you just stating those behaviors?

3. Do you show what motivates your characters?

4. Do you make your characters’ world real to the reader?

5. Have you researched your character or the times in which your character lived to add depth to the story? Often doing this research helps you recall small facts about the situation.

6. Are you introducing too many characters at once, so the reader cannot bond to any of them? If you do not develop your characters the reader will not care about them.

Story Structure:

1. Is your opening paragraph exciting? Have you used an event to capture the reader’s interest? Have you considered flashback?

2. Have you set the tone or mood of your story by using words to describe the scene rather than just stating the setting?

3. Is there some type of conflict or struggle in your story, and do you build the action to that point?

4. Do you use imagery which brings the story alive and underscores the action? Has your description included some of the five senses?

5. Have you used imaginative language in imaginative ways? Is your story burdened by clichés, boring verbs, or repetitive words? Is your sentence structure redundant? Have you created your own similes and metaphors?

6. Are you showing as well as telling your story? Are you using your character’s actions to tell the story?

7. Do you loose your reader with the lack of transitions between paragraphs?

8. Have you foreshadowed major events? Give your reader a clue that something exciting is coming.

9. Do you use a Point of View which works best for the story?

Remember: In life there is drama, and your stories need to reflect life. It is important to put yourself into the story to understand the characters and their motivation. This helps your reader care about your characters and become involved with the story.

Your story’s heart is beating...^./\...^./\...^./\

©Aulicino, Nov 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blogs and Other Surrogate Homes

Although many people join a writing group or choose to write on their own, there are others who create blogs or find surrogate homes on the World Wide Web to house their personal journaling or family stories.

There are many advantages to using Internet resources for your writing. The most obvious being that you can easily share your stories with family and friends, and you can receive feedback quickly. Also, many sites are free, and there are many pages to help you with ideas and with improving your writing skills.

Blog, blog, blog

Blogging is comparable to having your own Editorial Page in the newspaper. You can write about anything you wish as often as you wish. The topics for blogs are endless. You are only limited to your imagination.

The word Blog is a contraction of Web log. Companies, corporations, newspapers, and other industries use blogs, but the most common type is the personal blog. Personal blogs are often commentaries reflective of one’s life or opinions. They make perfect spots for recording your many family stories, past and present. AND…the best part??? They are FREE!

Another wonderful advantage of having a blog is that if you are a member of Facebook, a social networking system you can add Blog Networks. By adding the Blog Networks application, you can choose which blogs you wish to read. This application puts your favorite blogs on one page so you can easily click to find them on the web. Perhaps you would want a blog on how to write your stories or on grammar. Other personal blogs which contain the authors’ family memories could give you ideas for yours. Through Blog Networks you can easily find more readers for your personal blog. There are a growing number of genealogists on Facebook who write blogs not only about their own family, but on many aspects of genealogy from “How To” to preserving photographs and more. It is a wonderful source for networking, for getting ideas for your blog and for inspiring you to write your memories.

Blogs are simple to create, even for the novice. There are choices on how to organize your website and steps to guide you through the process. You can add photos, videos, various icons, and hyperlinks. You can allow others to comment or not. You can edit any part of your blog at any time. If you need to correct or add material to a story, it is easily done.

Although there are many more sites on which you can create a Blog, the most popular sites are:

A Surrogate Home

Some writers do not have time nor interest to maintain a blog as one is often self-pressured to posting a story every week or so. For this group, there are places where you can post your stories for your friends and family to read. You could also solicit the help of your family to add their stories or to made corrections and additions to yours.
On WeBook you can invite friends to read your stories, make comments and vote on the best ones.

I do not know anyone who has used the following sites, but they are free and seem helpful.

There are many more options online, of course. Be sure to read their sites carefully. There are some that charge a one-time fee, as well.

I encourage you to open your realm of possibilities and venture into new lands. Consider being a blogger or finding a surrogate home for your stories on the Net. You will bring much joy to the genealogy community in sharing your wonderful memories as well as gain self-satisfaction for your accomplishments.

©aulicno, 7 Nov 2008