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Figurative Language – Writing Tips

Ways to use language in literature.

There are many ways in which we can convey meaning within our writing, figurative language uses words to deviate from their literal interpretation to achieve either a powerful effect, or a subtle nuanced one. Writers use techniques such as metaphors to create powerful imagery with in their settings, adding depth and substance, whilst playing with the sound and flow of the words.

What’s the most common method of figurative language you use in your writing? And what would you like to explore more of? Share your preferred writing style with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

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Exploring Story Structures

I had a great question from a fellow blogger, asking for clarity on the different types of story structures. So I did a little research, and guess what… while there are slight differences, ultimately the three, four, and yes I found a five act story structure are all similar.

They all follow the same patterns, and they all fall into three sections: Protasis, Epitasis and Catastrophe. Don’t let those the phases intimidate you.

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Here’s the basics, I’ll let you decide for yourself:

Three Act Story Structure:

  • Opportunity – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • Point of no return – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding, learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces. The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Climax – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

Writer Author Cat

Four Act Story Structure:

  • The set up – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • The response – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance, failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • The attack – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • The resolution – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Five Act Story Structure:

  • Exposition – Start in the ordinary world, reveal hero’s goals.
  • Rising Action – Hero is called to action which introduces the stakes. The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • Climax – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Falling Action – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force.
  • Denouement – We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

Of course there are different ways to structure a novel that don’t follow the Protasis Epitasis, Catastrophe arc. Check out Four Way to Structure Your Novel where I explore other ways to structure your novel. 

A great resource for structuring your novel is: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing That You’ll Ever Need I highly recommend this book.

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What’s your favourite story structure? And do you agree, or disagree with my analysis of the three, four and five acts. Share your opinions with me, we can learn new things by sharing information. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Time to Write, Don’t Procrastinate

We know that daily writing goals and being proactive creates a great forwards momentum for our novels. Yet putting that into practice can sometimes feel like a mountain to overcome and before we know it, writing has turned from a wonderful pastime, into a herculean beast that we can’t face. Then even if we find time to write, procrastination takes over. Suddenly, writing time has evaporated into a missed opportunity.

Today I’m sharing my productivity tips in the hopes that they resonate with you: Let’s do this!!!

Set intentions There’s no point in half-heartedly thinking; I’ll try to write today. No. Make it a definite intention: A promise to yourself. And keep it. I set mine the night before, listing the top 3 things I intend to achieve the next day and allocate the time for those things to happen.

Carve out time. I’m a mother of two and a partner in two businesses. Life can get pretty hectic. But I make it my intention to write first thing in the morning, so no matter what unfolds through the rest of the day my creativity won’t be impacted.

Don’t get distracted. Put down your phone. Turn the TV off. Don’t nip to your friends for a quick brew (Oops, I’m already guilty of this.) Sit at your computer and begin. Even if the words don’t flow, and your characters are silent. You can always edit, develop setting and plot or research – just not on Facebook.

Take yourself and your writing seriously. By putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own, you’re giving off the energy that your writing isn’t that important. If you can dedicate your time to your kids, running around for their needs. Dedicate your time to a job, because you need the money. Dedicate your time to your partner, because you want a healthy relationship. Then you should apply the same principles to yourself. Your passion. Your calling.Your love for words and literature make you who you are. Own it and believe in yourself. Even if it’s only for half an hour on your lunch break, or in the car while your kids play sports, or cutting out one Netflix show. (I love Netflix; they have great story lines… it’s research.)

Recharge your batteries and don’t stress. We are notorious for burning out. Pouring our heart and soul into a novel and balancing family, work and personal life can take its toll. We are only human and life happens while you’re making plans. Relax, recharge and reboot your creativity. Although this could be considered procrastination, it’s different. If you’re running on empty, you need to refuel. So watch movies, walk in nature, laugh with friends and read books. It’s good for the soul. And a happy writer makes for a more productive writer.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any tips on creating time to write and how to stop procratination by? If so, please share, you know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

Querying Agents: Should you Hire an Editor First?

So you’ve completed the first draft of your novel, edited it the to best of your abilities and now you’re ready to query. Maybe you’re further along than that – perhaps the rejections have started rolling in and you’re wondering if you should hire a professional. And here is the important question: Would hiring an editor help you get representation from an agent or perhaps even lead to becoming published?

After my recent one-to-one with an editor I’ve battled with this question. Some of the advice I received resonated with my gut instinct. Great. Whilst other parts I’ve debated with my betas, toyed with changes and generally procrastinated over. Who’s opinion should I trust more, someone in the industry for 20yrs or just little, blundering novice, me.

On Friday I attended a writing conference with a fellow blogger from Uninspired Writers and we had two agents from Greene & Heaton give us their opinion on the matter. Working with any professional can be a costly matter, which may well be outside of many writers grasp.

But a far more interesting point was; agents are used to working with writers who have a rough draft, it’s their job to know how to edit a manuscript to make it shine. Provided your MS is polished to it’s best and has no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. By implementing an editor’s changes you’re effectively adding a third persons subjectivity to the mix. You may end up editing out parts that the agent would have loved and add elements they hate.

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These points aligns with previous advice I’ve heard, which is, by working with an editor before submitting your manuscript, it is no longer authentically yours. Because it has been enhanced by someone else. The agents may well assume your work is up to scratch only to discover that it is not.

I think these pose an interesting conundrum. Who amongst us wouldn’t want to jump the queue and get ahead? But is that really benefiting us in the long haul. On the other hand, having areas in our manuscript highlighted as weak by an editor, critique partner or beta, especially if we had a niggling feeling it was, can only benefit us.

Remember advice is subjective, an agents preferences is subjective, heck this blog post is subjective.

Listen to that inner voice and have faith in your journey. If you want to work with an editor, do it and learn from it. If you’re struggling with someone’s feedback, because you believe those elements are integral to your story, listen to your gut instinct and leave them in your story.

You are the master creator of your world – in fiction and reality.

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Have you heard similar advice from professionals? Or have you worked with an editor and known in your heart their changes would help or hinder your story? If so, share them with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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Top Three Tips On Mastering Character Traits

As writers we are actively encouraged to portray a variety of characters, with varying shades of positive and negative traits. The characters may have different skills from us, they may have more or less qualifications, and they will have undoubtedly gone through experiences that we as the writer have not. If every character only echoed our own lives, mimicking the qualities we have, the story would fall flat.

One of my readers recently asked me a great question: Lorraine, do you think it’s OK for a writer to  attempt to portray a character with qualities the writer doesn’t have? For instance, I am not funny at all, but I would love a secondary character to have a sense of humor, which means there is a risk the character will sound lame rather than really funny. I have read a short story where the character was supposed to be wise, but the writer was not particularly wise, so the wisdom was on the ‘weak side’. Do you think it is better to stay away from qualities you do not possess or to try anyway?

As writers we need to portray meek, strong willed, sarcastic, funny, intelligent or even obsessive characters. It is inevitable that we will write a character we are not familiar with, and so, here are my;

Top three tips for mastering character traits.

Watch and listen to other people.

It’s not only what people say, but how they say it. Their tone and volume of voice add to the weight of the words spoken. Possibly more important will be what their body language says. It’s true, writers see the world through different eyes, because these subtle things need to be taken into account. We can make a character more funny by his antics and the response of his supporting characters.

Research the subject matter

There will come a point when we need to know more about a specialized subject matter, so that we accurately portray our character to our readers. Whether its about science, motor sports, mental health, how to fly an airplane, or simply how long it takes for a broken bone to heal. If you don’t do your research, there will be glaring holes in your story that your readers will pick up on.

Thankfully we have search engines at our fingertips, with a few clicks and the correct tag words we can pull up vast amounts of knowledge. So take the time to research, don’t just guess.

Alternatively, speak to people who know first hand what it’s like to be homeless, or to be a policewoman. Tell them you’re a writer doing research, and that you wish to portray your character with accuracy. They might be willing to help you.

Hone your craft.

Read books and ‘how to’ blog posts, listen to podcasts, or take creative writing classes. No matter how many novels you write, you are always going to learn something new. Write more, read more, and be brave enough to seek feedback.

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How do you make sure you portray characters correctly? Have you avoided a certain trait because you weren’t sure how to write them? Share your experiences with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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The Five Stages of Receiving Editorial Feedback

As much as we desire the truth about our writing it can be painful to hear the truth about our work. Of course, it can help us grow and become better, it how we learn and develop our craft. It’s a necessary part of the experience. If I’m being honest, I feel as though I’ve passed a benchmark in my journey, because I’ve dreamed of working with an editor, I just hadn’t expected such clarity from a brief one-to-one at a book fair.

Here’s a fun infographic poking fun at a writers experience of receiving critical feedback from an editor and the emotional process they go through. I hope you enjoy.

What have your experiences with editors been like? Good or bad, let me know if it helped you grow as a writer, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Surviving Writer Purgatory

Sometimes life outside of being a writer becomes hectic, and juggling the many demands of life takes its toll. In times like these something has to give, and I’ve already cooked too many oven chips for dinner and stopped walking my dog every day.

While no writer wants to sacrifice their writing time, that precious outlet for their sanity, there comes a time (usually around doing our annual taxes or Christmas) when they simply must take a short break.

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Here’s my four top tips to help you survive writing purgatory.

Stop berating yourself, this is only temporary: By removing the addition stress of unrealistic goals, you’ll actually increase productivity, be better at problem solving and be back on track before you know it. 

Prioritize your responsibilities: Make a list of all that needs to be done and cut out the unessential. Oh how I wish the world were fair, and that my children would understand that writing was my lifeline, unfortunately they insist being fed and having clean clothes.

Don’t stop planning and plotting: Just because you can’t physically find time to write doesn’t mean you won’t get the opportunity to daydream. Driving somewhere? Use that time to develop a secondary character. Painting a room. Figure out you climactic scene. Stuck waiting in the doctor surgery. Gather inspiration by watching how the receptionist deals with patients, or how the toddle runs his mother ragged, and use those details in your manuscript.

Repeat this mantra: I’m only human. No one’s perfect. I’m a writer, even if I don’t write every day. It’s going to okay.

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What do you do when life gets in the way of your writing? I’d love to hear your coping techniques, so please share them with me. 

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

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how to choose a captivating title

Writer Tips on How to Choose A Captivating Title

The title of a book is important; it has the capacity to entice your audience, or have them reject it simply because it did nothing to intrigue them. I don’t know about you, but I find choosing the right title a nightmare. In this post we’re going to offer some tips on how you can hone your choices and captivate your audience with a just a few words.

how to choose a captivating title

Finish your WIP: Sometimes the title simply comes to you, a miracle gifted from the literary gods. If this happens cherish it and continue onwards in your writing journey. However, this is rare! Often you’ll need to finish writing the novel before you can look back and reflect upon the story.

Do your research: Look up other titles in your genre. Not only will this give you a clue as to what works, but it will also tell you your choice is already taken. There’s nothing more disheartening than having an excellent title in mind, only to discover it’s already in use within your genre. Not the smartest move, especially if the other author is a runaway success.

It’s all in the name: You may choose to use your main characters name as a title, like the famous Harry Potter. Perhaps you could use their mythical heritage, like The Hobbit. Or name it after the place they visit or live in, like Caraval, and if you haven’t read any of these magical series yet, I highly recommend you do.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Get poetic: Use alliterations, internal rhymes, slant rhymes and poetic prose. Listen to lyrics, pay attention to movie lines and don’t be afraid to play around with words. Be careful not to copywrite, but you’re an artist, so have fun and get creative.

Themes: Once you’ve finished your book you’ll get a clear picture of the themes, key events, and any related words. Check out my post on defining themes in your novel for more clarity on the subject. Using a single word as your title can be evocative and punchy, try an adjective, a noun, or a verb to sum up the actions or feelings of the book.

Characterisation: Take a closer look at your main characters, what are their key traits and how do they correlate to the story, and to each other. Then use them as a title, this is how I named my second WIP Mischief and Mayhem, click on the link to find out more about that work.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Key phrase: There’s nothing more satisfying than reading a novel and coming across a sentence that encapsulates the story or characters and relates to the title. Pay attention when writing or editing, and pick out any phrases that could work as a title. Perhaps a resonant, unusual phrase carries meaning for your work.

Check out a thesaurus: Maybe you’re close, you understand your character and have pinpointed the themes. You’ve loads of ideas, but something is not working and the words land flat. Try using a thesaurus to mix it up a little. Word to the wise, be sure to check each word in the dictionary for clarification, otherwise you could end up with a title that makes little sense, and worse still, has no relevance to your story.

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How did you come up with your title? Please share your experience, it’s fascinating to know how other writers make their choice. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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The Incredible Power of Journaling in Six Simple Steps

I’ve written a lot about the importance of selfcare and how writing can be an incredible way to manage your emotions. Even though we know it helps reduce stress and improve our mental health, have you ever considered how to get the most benefit from it? In this post, I’ll walk you through my process of journaling, and then show you how to reflect upon what you’ve written, and how to use it to your advantage as a self-reflective tool in six simple steps.

I journaled for many years, sometimes on a regular basis and sometimes not so regular. And in all that time, do you know what I learnt about myself? Nothing! While it was a great tool for me to understand my emotions and allowed me to dig deep into how they affected me, I never developed any inner awareness, or learnt how to resolve problems.

My mum died when I was a teenager and journaling became my confidant. It enabled me to escape the overwhelming grief and gave my consuming thoughts an outlet. This period of my life has now become my greatest tool as a writer. It taught me how to portray emotions effectively, becoming my first training ground for developing characters. With time, my life improved and my journaling become infrequent and patchy. This was my first big mistake.

The Little Journal Company

Be Consistent.

To gain the most out of journaling it is essential to use it consistently. It doesn’t have to be every day, which can seem daunting, it could be once a week, but sticking to it on a regular basis . Otherwise, like me, you’ll find yourself journaling sporadically and I can’t tell you how ineffective this will be.

Get out of a rut.

Sometimes journaling can become a chore, perhaps you simply don’t know  what to write about. Journal about the mundane, the stuck place, the difficult work colleague, the wonderful summer, or about how flattered you were by a passing compliment. Just keep it going.

Use some of these prompts to get you going:

  • What was the most challenging part of your day?
  • Write 3 affirmations that help you align with your goals.
  • Write a special memory, then write about how this has influenced your life.
  • Use your favourite motivational quote and expand on it… why is it relevant to you and your life, how does it help?
  • What is you goal, what steps are you taking towards it, and most importantly what has the journey so far taught you?
  • Write 5 things about yourself that you love? Now write about what thoughts and feelings came up as you did this exercise.
Daily affirmations

Add gratitude.

Why?  Because it pushes positivity into your journal and therefore into our minds. It brightens patches of our lives that perhaps we’re struggling with. It gives hope! Taking a different perspective of your life can help you appreciate the things you take for granted. Add one thing you’re grateful for into each entry, and see the difference it makes.

Problem solve.

We encounter many problems in life, and some seem insurmountable. By journaling consistently, you’ll begin to clearly see the issues you face, therefore, you can begin to find solutions. Do you need to have an awkward conversation with a friend? Write about what you plan to say, and about your desired outcome. This should bring clarity and relief. Maybe the problem can’t be fixed, maybe it’s something you have to come to terms with like an illness or a loss. Instead, write about how you plan to take care of yourself. Consider areas where you’re being to hard on yourself and practise self-love, allowing yourself to lessen the burdens that hail you.

Self-reflect and review your process.

It’s important to read back, or skim, your journal. Look at everything that’s transpired over the last, week, month or even year – depending on when you choose to review. Imagine you’re the author, and that each entry has been made by your main character. What journey have you been on? What patterns can you see arising? What problems have you resolved and what can you learn from the process. Are you coping with a difficult situation? Are you happier than you’ve previously been? View everything with curiosity and wonder, turn off the self-criticism and really allow yourself compassion and understanding. Keep exploring, and remember you’ll discover far more about yourself if you’re kind.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

Do you Journal? If so, do you have any other tips to share? Or, maybe you’ve never journaled, but you’re toying with the idea; are you ready to give it a go? Don’t be shy, share your journey with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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The ultimate Pinterest 101 for writers and bloggers

There are many ways to drive your audience to your blog and one of my favourites media sites is Pinterest. In this post we’ll be taking a look at how to set up an account, to maximise your chances of gaining new viewers, and how to set up visually enticing boards so that your followers can visually connect with your novel and get to know you a little better.

If you’re new to building your brand then I recommend reading The Importance of Building a Platform and How to Identify your Target Audience. Setting up solid foundations for your business is a vital first step, but don’t worry if you’ve jumped in feet first, sometimes simply beginning is the hardest part and I commend your enthusiasm.

Here are my four awesome tips to get you started!!

One: Set up a business Pinterest account. It looks the same as a personnel account, but has tools and analytics that will aid you and your blog. When setting up your profile, choose an image, or logo, that you’ll use across your social media and get creative with your bio. Now is the time to sell yourself, not your books. Tell your readers a little bit about you, your interests and what you write about. Put some thought into your profile using key words that correlate to you. Mine always featuresfantasy-romance writer. Any content you create here can be echoed through all social media platforms to maintain a cohesive brand.

Inspiration for my second novel Mischief and Mayhem

Two: Pin boards: Use boards for historical research, to identify your characters, or help define scenes for your worldbuilding. A word to the wise, if it’s harmful to your brand, or is personal and you don’t wish to share certain boards, keep it locked from public view. Name each board with titles that use keyword to describe what’s contained within. Add boards that will direct the right audience to your profile, so for authors you could add a library board and fill it with books within your genre. Or, maybe have a board with your dream office space.

Create a unique writing den.

Three: Verify your websites ULR in settings. This took me a few tries and a couple of YouTube videos. But have faith, if I can master technology, so can  you. By linking your website/ blog to Pinterest, it creates a PIN symbol on all of your images, enabling you to link your posts to your Pinterest boards. Don’t forget to install a Pin it button to your blog, this is a vital way for you to gain more followers, readers may choose to add your content to their boards, showing your work to a new audience.

Captivating worldbuilding ideas

Four: Use great images in your blog. A picture says a thousand words, or so I’m told. Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash are fantastic sites that offer free stock images, that have no attributes or royalties attached. Don’t forget to edit each image when you add it to your blog, in the alt description box, use keywords to help new audience members find your content. Those keywords are used as the primary function of Pinterest, which runs as a search engine using those keywords. So it’s time to get savvy with SEO.

Finally learn SEO 😉

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Do you use Pinterest? Is it one of your favourite media sites? Perhaps you have another tip to share, don’t be shy, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.