A Story’s Voice

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    I have just finished reading a novel.
   I shall not reveal which, or who the author was, because I shall be telling of a certain dislike within the pages of that book. I will say that this was the first book of hers that I have read and overall I quite enjoyed the story. But there was one thing that really annoyed me, and that ‘thing’ has taken the shine off a pretty good read.
    I shall reveal what that ‘one thing’ was a little later, because firstly I need to explain the premise of this Rambling.

As you will know I am a writer, and like most writers I like to read. I like to read good stories, be it a short story, a novella, or a full blown heavyweight novel.

What I find most enjoyable is a book that speaks to me, a story with a captivating voice. I am not talking about audio-books, I am speaking of the written word.

You may then ask, how can a book talk? So I shall, in my bumbling, haphazard way endeavour to explain.

When, for instance, you open a fresh new book, and cast your eyes over those first few lines, you start to create a ‘voice’ in your head, a voice that will tell you the story which is printed upon those pages.

Without becoming too technical, that silent voice you hear, the voice that is only audible from inside your own mind, is what we writers term as narration.

Simply put it is rather like listening to someone else reading out loud, like your mother may have read you bedtime stories as a child as you lay in bed drifting off to sleep. The only difference is that all this occurs solely within your own mind.

So when you read it is not the author you are listening to, but an intermediary, an ethereal entity! But this intermediary is not there by chance, it is the craft, the skill of the author who has created this unseen reader.

Please do not confuse narration with style. Most authors have a certain style of writing, of describing their tales. It is the style often reflects the character of the writer. Most writers will admit that much of themselves, and many of their personal experiences, are frequently woven into their works.

Regardless of a writer’s style, the narration can, and most often will alter with each new piece of work, unless it is part of a series when it is important, even critical, to keep the narrative voice continuous.

Some people who are new to writing may not understand the way a reader assimilates the words from a page, and often this is why some struggle to write in a manner that flows smoothly, whilst experienced writers will use a particular form of narration to compliment the piece they working on at that time.

For instance in my short stories, my Flash Fictions, I use a number of various narrative forms which I hope enhance the readers experience of each. Below are three examples, all written in my ‘style’ yet told with a different narrative ‘voice’.

1, Jumping a Boxcar

Sunset.

The last train.

I was waiting by the rails, backpack on the ground beside my feet.

That backpack was full. Everything I owned was crammed in there. Clothes, razor, soap, two towels, one face flannel, and three books.

That was it. That was the total of my life.

At least regarding material things.

You see, as I stood by the tracks waiting to jump a boxcar to wherever that train was going, I was carrying far more than the contents of that backpack.

 

She had told me that everything would be alright, that things have a way of working themselves out.

But that takes time, and I knew that I had taken enough of her time already.

Three years.

Well, two years, seven months, three days and twenty two hours to be precise. During which time I had broken almost every promise I had ever made to her; and that was unfair.

I promised I would look after her, get a good job, earn a decent income, buy her gifts, chocolates, and flowers. That we would have our own place, a nice car. I said I would make her happy, that we would be happy.

That I would never leave.

They were all lies……………………….

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2, Life in the Warzone – Yellow Petals

    Izdihar came running into the house shouting ‘Mummy, Mummy, look at what I have for you’.

    Fellah turned to look at her daughter, who had not stopped running, and deftly caught her in her arms, lifting Izdihar off the ground so their faces were level.

    ‘You have a beautiful smile for your Mother.

     ‘No Mummy, I have found you a flower’ said Izdihar, holding out a single closed bud on a green stem. ‘I found it by the wall. I brought it home for you, because I love you Mummy’ she said with pride in her voice.

    ‘Well then, I thank you my darling. I love you too. But this flower will soon wither and die if we do not find it some water’ said Fellah.

    Rummaging about in the kitchen Fellah found a shallow saucer. This would have to suffice thought Fellah. Water was too scarce to be wasting it on flowers, yet she was reluctant to upset her child, so a small amount on the saucer would keep Izdihar happy and allow Fellah to show her appreciation of her daughter’s kindly deed.

    Fellah placed the saucer onto the low shelf and dribbled a tiny amount of water into it. Sitting at the table with Izdihar, Fallah carefully cut the bud from the stalk and placed it into the water. Fellah did this with a ceremonious flourish that pleased Izdihar, who was grinning from ear to ear with pride, knowing that she had made her Mother happy………………………….

 X

3, Missy

Missy turned the steering wheel sharply, swinging the car violently to a sudden halt in the parking lot. Her lips were pressed together, jaw clenched, supressing the pent up emotion that he had, once again stirred within her. Tears began to dribble down Missy’s tender cheeks.

Why was he like this? He was a man who was so sure, so certain of himself, so controlling, that after all these years one would have thought that he did not need to be such a bully, that he would have no need to be so verbally aggressive and well, downright abusive.

After dropping him at his office Missy had started to drive aggressively, tyres squealing on the tarmac as she pulled away. It was just then that her phone bleeped.

Missy knew instantly who this was. She felt those small tremors jumping in her stomach with her excitement. A pack of wild butterflies suddenly fluttering into the air simultaneously. It was a text message from Anura……………………….

X

You will see from these examples that while my writing style remains personal to me, the form of narration varies to take into account the feeling, the ambiance and quality, I wish to give each particular story.

If I have done this well, (and I do hope I have!), you would of read each of the above in a slightly different tonal voice, and at a differing pace.

That then is my (long winded), but simple explanation of narrative.

I hoped you also recognised the narrative voice I am using now, in this Rambling?

Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to my opening gambit, the book I have just read.

In her book the author has a character who talks really loudly, to indicate this all his speech has been written in capital letters ‘LIKE THESE RIGHT HERE’, which I found distracting in the least, and most patronisingly annoying.

It is quite simple to use the narrative to convey that a character has a loud, booming voice. It is not only disquieting to have the CAPITALS break up a line of text, but I found it interrupted the narratives flow. It made me feel that I was reading rather than ‘living’ the story.

If you are writing please, please, use your skill as a wordsmith to express your characters qualities, personality and temperament, and do not try to draw an image with your text. If I had wanted pictures in my book I would have purchased a comic……Nuff said!

Thank you for reading. I hope you found the contents informative, even useful?

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Please take a look at my flash fiction & short stories at ‘A Little more Fiction’ where you can read many of my works, including the full stories from which the extracts above were taken. Just click on this link http://wp.me/5od8T

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How to be very, very SEXY and attract lots of attention.

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I have recently posted a number of articles intended to assist you with self-promotion and the marketing of your books, blogs and other writings. (If you have not read them scroll down and take a look after you have read this).

In this post I am not going to get technical or start preaching, but simply ramble away about how you can use the oldest attractor to help generate many more ‘hits’ to your site, Blog or book promotions.

It is something you know well, even intimately! Yet are still hesitant about showing it off to the public at large!

You will, no doubt be aware of the old saying that ‘sex sells’.

It is one of the most truthful quotations ever and one which continues to prove its own legitimacy on a daily basis.

Now before you go off in a huff of indignation or embarrassment let me make it quite clear this is not a post about sex per se, but the use of sensuality and titillation to initially attract readers to your works.

I have already demonstrated the simplest of these methods, the word itself.

In this case the word sexy made you stop and read this blog today. Okay I teamed it up with a few other words to make a sentence, but it was that single word ‘sexy that has bought you right here, right?

Therefore, as long as you employ some link however tenuous it may be, to lead the reader from the ‘sex’ word to your content you have made the first step, you have attracted another potential follower, or purchaser of you goods.

If you are averse to using the word directly you can substitute it with other words which create passionate or sensual imagery adopting a subtle ‘softer approach’. The outcome however will be the same to the reader, a mental stimuli which is difficult to ignore!

The next step is to add an image, which again I have done here, (at the top of the post).

Whether you use the soft curves of a female torso or the squarer, muscular masculine is dependent to which audience you are directing your writing towards.

Although overall the female form has a greater impact on the general populace as both sexes are attracted, albeit for a variety of reasons, including gender and sexual persuasion, which I shall not endeavour to delve into in this particular post.

Once again however, I am not speaking of pornography, unless you are solely directing your work to that market, in which case I would then suggest looking at a very different approach altogether so as not to become enmeshed in the mass of generality.

For the most part soft suggestive stimuli is all that is required, after that it is you work, your content and presentation which must endear your readers.

Basically I am saying that, yes…SEX does sell.

Do not be afraid to use it for your own gain; after all you won’t know how good it is until you have tried it!

Enjoy, Paul.

Have you read my Blog ‘Further Ramblings’ yet? It’s all about life and living, go take a look now. http://wp.me/5njAU

Sitting in the garden

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As the title indicates I am writing this as I sit my garden.

I am sat at the large table on the raised decking which is, at this time, bathed in dappled sunlight. I can hear the water from the falls melodically splashing into the ponds, and the heady scent from the mass of blooms is gently wafting around me, carried by the light breeze.

It is, in my opinion, the perfect place and atmosphere for a writer to work.

Since coming into the garden a short while ago I have furthered a piece, which is destined to be a jointly written story with another writer, one who I adore and respect. Written a poem, which by the time you read this will be in my book Teardrops & White Doves (Available via Amazon)! and I am now attempting to write something of interest for you in this Rambling of mine.

As with many of my Ramblings I do not have a particular subject or topic in mind when I begin to write, I just start to tap away at the keys and hope that something evolves that is informative, interesting and enjoyable to read.

In fact, if I achieve any any two of these three things then I shall consider this Rambling a success!

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I have, in past Ramblings, spoken of Writers Block, Inspiration, Creativity, Imagery and a whole plethora of various subjects, many which have absolutely nothing to do with actually writing at all. but of the common tasks and problems we writers face in our daily lives.

However, it seems that as my Rambling have developed, from very short notes about whatever was at the forefront of my mind, to my later posts (which have unconsciously, and almost subliminally from my point of view, strayed into the theme of the techniques of writing), I have won the minds, if not the hearts of so many of you, so many friends, that I now feel so very humbled indeed.

I mean that in all honesty and with my hand firmly placed on my heart.

I read each and every comment you post in reply and try my best to answer them all.

So this is a thank you, a big thank you to all of you who read my irrelevant scribbling’s regularly, and a welcome to those of you who may be reading a Rambling for the first time.

   I hope it will not be the last time you do so!

As for the subject of this particular Rambling, there really isn’t one!

Except to say that for a writer, as with so many artistic vocations, the stimulus needed to create are many and varied. For me the atmosphere of my garden right now is an absolutely perfect environment to get those creative juices flowing.

I hope I have not squandered nature’s gift of a beautiful day, but have, in some respect, justified her benevolence.

Thank you all for reading this Rambling.

Bless you, Paul.

   To see more of my work, or to find out more about me, visit my website

http://fluffybunnypj.wix.com/paul-white

Better Blogging. (keeping readers engaged and winning followers)

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In my last post about Blogging I covered Hooks, PAS & Call to Action.

In this post I will cover text layout, pagination and a few more things which lose readers if you do not get them right.

I know some of you have written books and are using Blogging to help promote and market them, while others only write Blogs. The common factor is that people from both camps, the experienced and amateur writer, frequently write blogs appallingly, some get it so wrong that you just cannot read them.

A well written and formed Blog is a discipline all of its own!

I shall try and explain, without getting too technical, where you could be going wrong and how to make your Blog more appealing.

But first let’s take a look at something simple, the Blog layout, or as it is called here on WordPress the ‘theme’.

In the publishing industry the ‘page layout’, includes text, titling, sub-headings, numeric, and images. Deciding on this ‘layout’ is an important factor in the success your Blog will have.

WordPress and other Blogging sites often have templates to assist with this.

Clearly the theme you choose has to suit the type of Blog you write. The various posts you produce must not only sit comfortably with the page format, but should be easy on the eye of the reader. This sounds obvious, but honestly so many Blogs are confusing or distracting to the eye.

Here are my suggestions for a clear, easily read Blog layout which will make it effortless to read and keep people engaged for much longer.

 

  • To start with a pure white background can be glaring and harsh on the eye, so choose a soft palate, pale or pastel shades work well.
  • Try to avoid black or very dark colours which necessitate reverse print. (e. white text on black background). Again this can cause eye strain and can be disquieting.
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Ok, you may have a fantasy or vampire Blog and want to portray a dark mood, but please try a mid-grey or maybe a lighter red. You can still create the ‘mood’ with good graphics and images.

  • Next choose a font for your headlines and sub-headings. Keep the same typestyle for both throughout your post, just alter the font size.

Then select a font for your main text.

Try and keep to just these two fonts, (The heading / Sub-heading and body text), use a third if you think it is really necessary but bear in mind that using more font styles will only make your post look messy and amateurish.

When using just these two font styles you will be able to play about with them in many ways; Bold, Italics, Underline, Strikethrough, block quotes, and font sizes (Point size).

This should give you a mass of flexibility whilst maintaining a smooth uniform and professional look to your post.

  • Consider also how your words will look on the page as a whole. Take a lead from the newspaper and magazine publishers. Break your Blog into two (or three) columns. This makes it far easier to read. I know this from my experience of working on high end glossy magazines such as the Conde Nast Vogue, Vanity Fair and others like Boat International and Robb Report.

While two columns mean your reader will have to scroll back to the top of each page to continue reading, this is an intuitive reaction and does not detract from their overall enjoyment. Whereas trying to read elongated lines of text from page edge to page edge is not such a natural act, it is more akin to standing near a large poster and having to twist your head to read it all.

  • Break your text up occasionally with a relevant picture, sketch or diagram. Images attract and hold attention and create curiosity by those ‘scanning’ the page. You are more likely to gain and hold people’s attention when you include images. But do make them relevant and, unless you have a pure pictorial Blog, do not over do it!

Once again take a lead from the professionals, look at both print and online magazines to get ideas that you can employ on your own site.

  • Unlike newspapers and glossy magazines online publications have the effect of ‘cramming’ the written word. This is why all publishers like writers to submit their manuscripts with ‘double –line spacing’.

A constant and consistent block of words on a computer, tablet or ‘phone screen is very difficult to read if not spaced and ‘broken up’ into bite sized pieces.

You will note that I have done precisely that within this post.

If this post was intended to be printed, say in a paperback book, then my paragraphs would be longer and not divided into these smaller clusters of a few sentences for each paragraph.

  • Another consideration for this is that many people do not have excellent eyesight, or suffer with varying degrees of dyslexia, whilst others may not read English, or whatever language you write in, as their first or primary language.

By breaking your paragraphs into small sections you are helping to be inclusive of these conditions or learning needs, which I think is a good thing.

  • If your post has an instructive, educational or coaching bent, as does this, then using ‘bullet points’ is a great way to determine each subject change within the string.

Otherwise employ the use of block quotations to highlight or firm-up your major opinions or facts.

  • Lastly consider the length of each post. You will not hold everyone’s attention for ever!

So if you do have a lot to say, or a large amount of information you wish to share, consider dividing your subject matter into two or more posts.

I do hope you find the above some use when considering writing your next Blog, especially when taken in conjunction with my previous post ‘Stop writing boring Blogs!

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I am constantly endeavouring to help my fellow writers in any way I can, so please feel to follow and share this blog with as many of your friends and contacts on any social media sites as you wish.

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If you would like to know more about me, my works, my books, in fact anything at all, my website is

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white-writer

Feel free to browse about at your leisure!

Stop writing boring blogs, get the Feedback & Followers you really want.

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Honestly this is not a rant, it is a critical observation but with a solution.

You see, I am sick to the back teeth of starting to read a blog only to become brain dead by the second paragraph.

You may well have something to say, a point of view to express, or simply something you want to get off your chest. That’s fine, no problem.

Your content is not the issue here.

But come on, make it readable, even the most mundane and insignificant drivel can be fun to read, if you write it well.

Now, I know that not all you blogger folks out there are writers, journalists, authors and so on. Most of you probably do not know all of the writing techniques and tricks employed by professional content writers to grab and hold interest.

I understand that.

But go and write something now, then go back and read it a day, or a few days later when the immediacy has evaporated from your mind. Read it as if you do not know what has been written.

I bet you skip most of it. I would bet money you do not read every word, even finish that article.

Try it.

It really is a crap piece of writing isn’t it?

You know you could have done better, much better, don’t you.

Ok. Here is how you get to grab the reader’s attention, hold it and get feedback, likes, shares, re-blogged etc.

These tips are not the absolute definitive road to perfection, they are not set in stone.

Here I merely pass on to you the relative accepted, tried and tested methods which tend to work, a basic system if you prefer.

The following is a guide, not an unbreakable set of rules.

  • The first is to give your posts an explanatory title, one which hints at the topic of your blog. Such as the one I have used on this post.

This way you will attract readers who are interested in, or intrigued by, the subject described.

  • Second, lay out your text in a clear and easily readable format.

Too often do I ‘click’ to read a post and find endless line upon line of consistent text without clearly defined sentences, paragraphs and sections.

This text structure hurts the reader’s eyes and makes the content difficult to follow. You will lose all but the most persistent reader and possible your best friend.

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  • Next, are thing which are known as ‘hooks’. To help explain what a hook is and how they work I have used some in this post. For ease of identification I have put these hooks in italics, if you scroll back up you will see them.

Ok, now you are back with me, the idea of placing hooks in your text is to make the reader want to continue reading.

If you consider the headline as bait, the hook can be considered exactly as a fishhook to keep hold of your reader.

A hook is used by authors all the time, usually at the end of a chapter to encourage the reader to continue, to make them want to find out ‘what happens next’. This is what can make a book one which you ‘don’t want to put down’.

The same form of hook is used at the end of a soap opera or serial on TV as a persuasion technique to endear the viewer to tune in to the next episode.

Adding a hook or a few in your blog post will keep your readers….well reading!

  • Now we come to something known as PAS.

This is an acronym for a format which all content writers use frequently to promote products. You will find PAS in written and film (VT) forms, such as television advertising.

PAS stands for, Problem, Agitate, Solve and is usually combined with a ‘call to action’ which I shall come to next (the italics are a hook)!painkillers

Let’s take an analgesic, a headache table advert as an example of how PAS works.

 P=Problem…..do you suffer from headaches, migraine or worse…..blah blah blah. This is the ‘problem’.

A=Agitate…..constant noise at work, pressure of traffic while driving home, hyper active kids back from school, loud music, etc. etc……leading to throbbing temples, pounding brain….blah blah blah. This is agitating the perceived ‘problem’ which may not even exist!

S=Solution…with Paracetron, the fast acting solution for all head pain, you will be back to yourself in sixty miraculous seconds. What is more Paracetron is gentle even on the most sensitive stomach…..blah blah blah….you get the gist! Basically this is the solution ‘you need’ to ‘solve the problem’ you never had…until you saw this advert!

This is the basic format most advertising uses, most content and brand journalists are familiar with; in fact it is almost an industry standard, because it works.

So why not use this format to engage with you readers when you write your next post? Remember, written well, it works.

  • The last bit of advice I shall share today is the ‘Call to action’. This should come, for obvious reasons, at the end of your post. This is where you ask your reader to do something, for example it could be to ‘buy now’ or ‘follow this blog’ even ‘donate to this cause’.

Take a look at some professionally written commercial websites selling products or services, note down how they approach the ‘call to action’, the various ways they word this without alienating the customer or reader. You can then devise you own ‘call to action’ in a way which would most suit your own blog.

I shall be writing soon with more tips and advice on the techniques of professional writing which you can use in your own blogs.

Follow this Blog NOW and don’t miss out on the chance of making your blog better.

(The above is a ‘Call to Action’…..so do it, go on follow this blog NOW, you know you want too)!