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How to Craft Catchy Dialogue

Writing dialogue is an effective way to show the reader what’s happening in your story. But get it wrong and you risk loosing the readers interest. In a previous post I showed the Do’s and Don’t of writing dialogue – check it out if you haven’t already. Today I thought it would be helpful to go over some fundamental pointers in how to get your characters to show the world you’ve created through dialogue.

Tip 1 – Write as often as you can, read vicariously and listen intently. People listening is the best way to grasp dialogue. Take note when watching you favorite TV show, and see how each character is portrayed through the words they speak. People/ characters talk differently, so listen in and take pointers. Some are blunt and stoic, some blunder and waffle, while others wend beautiful, lyrical tales. Remember: be aware of whats being said, and equally what’s not being said.

Tip 2 – Don’t forget to add body language. Not only will this bring your character and the scene to life, but subtle body movements add depth to what’s being said. An easy smile changes a casual, ‘hello and welcome’ into a warm and generous greeting. Whereas, a pinched brow and clipped tone add a different meaning. Perhaps this character feels obligated to welcome someone, or maybe they’re in a bad mood.

Tip 3 – People often don’t say what they’re thinking or feeling, so layer up the context with internal dialogue. It’s a great way to show conflict and build tension. Mary pasted on a fake smile, and opened the door. “Hello and welcome.” God, she despised this woman. And yet her role as manager forced her to be polite, when what she really wanted was to slam the door in her face.

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Tip 4 – Use contractions. Don’t be afraid to shorten or combine words, to help the character sound as natural as possible. While a professor may use precise wording, a student will often use contractions. For example: Let’s, I’m, who’s and they’re.

Tip 5 – Cut unnecessary words. In real life we tend to stutter, flounder, and add filler noises like umm, well, basically, so, hey, hi, good day and how are you? Such words when used in dialogue slow the pace and become boring. Readers don’t need constant polite introductions or goodbyes, they want dialogue that keeps the momentum of the story going. Remember – that’s not to say never use such words, just be conscious not to fill your dialogue with them.

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Tip 6 – Dialogue must serve a purpose to advance the story. The whole point of writing dialogue is to show the reader things that progress the plot, build characters, show backstory and/ or entertain. It doesn’t drone on just for the sake of having characters converse. Keep everything succinct to the story and integral to the characters.

Tip 7 – Read your dialogue out loud. Make sure it sounds realistic, and then make sure it sounds like your character. Each character will have their own distinct voice. Your character may have an individual turn of phrase, or often call people buddy. These things can really help to differentiate them within your story.

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Do you have any tips on how to write great dialogue? Or perhaps you have a great line that you’d like to share from your current WIP. If so, please share it, 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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Novel Crafting – 12 Character Archetypes

Hello my fellow creators, and welcome to this weeks post. Have you ever wondered what archetype your character falls under? Or perhaps you’re outlining a new project and brainstorming who to include in your story. Hopefully, you’re wondering what character archetype would most benefit your story. Well, I’m here to help with a fun Inforgraph outlining the main 12 Character Archetypes. So lets delve a little deeper…

Those who yearn for utopia

Characters who fall under this category all ultimately desire the same thing, but their background, strengths and weakness all create a character with different needs and/or goals. The Innocent / Child – yearns for safety and happiness. They’re imaginative, open-minded and trusting. However: They have a low position of power, fear punishment and tend to be naive and easily taken advantage of. Whereas, The Explorer – craves freedom, and a fulfilling life, with the ability to embrace autonomy. Yet: They tend to wander, fearing entrapment. The Sage/ Mentor (not included in the Info-graph) – wants a better understanding of the world. They intelligent, a great listener, have a calming presence, craving wisdom and knowledge. Though: They fear deception. Their biggest flaw is a lack of action, an inability to learn from their mistakes, and solve their own problems.

Those who wish to leave a mark

These archetypes vary on the scale of good to bad intentions. Here we have three very different archetypes, with almost polar opposite characters.The Magician/ Wizard – wants power to alter reality. They have great knowledge, understanding and strategy. However: Hubris is their greatest weakness. They may resort to anger when facing consequences. The Hero / The Warrior craves mastery of their destiny. They’re confident, ready for action, and have great physical and/or mental capabilities. However: Overconfidence may be their downfall, by underestimating their opponent. Thus having to face their own weakness, which is their biggest fear. The Outlaw / Rebel – desires liberation and revolution. They inspire, never quit and know how to get the most out of everything. But: They’re constantly trying to outrun their fear of having little power in the world, and tend to earn things the hard way.

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Those who crave connection with others

This group of archetypes loves to be in the company of others, they thrive on it. Yet they seek their needs out in very different ways. The Lover – needs intimacy: They’re loyal, devoted and openly communicate. However: they may loose themselves in their devotion to please the other person, whilst fearing isolation. The Jester/ Joker – derive pure enjoyment from their interactions. They’re fun, loved by all and appear to be emotionally deep. However: They tend to be unreliable, selfish and in need of constant distraction. The seducer – also craves intimacy. They’re charismatic and charming. However: Their weaknesses may jeopardize long lasting relationships: They have no morals, no loyalty and can be controlling, ultimately having a fear of rejection. The Orphan/ Everyday person – They want to belong. Often well respected, empathetic, realistic and open. However: They lack confidence, cynical, are eager to please and care too much about what others think of them. They fear exclusion.

Those who provider structure

All three archetypes want to build a better world, but with utterly unique points of view. Lets explore. The Creator (I’m sure we identify with this one) – Is an innovator. Imagination is their best skill, they can realize a vision and implement it. However: They fear mediocrity. Perfectionism is their downfall. The Ruler – needs control. They desire prosperity and obtain it through leadership. However: They fear being overthrown. Authoritarian is their flaw. The Caregiver – wants to be of service. They’re selfless, compassionate and always help others. Yet: Their fear of selfishness can lead them to martyrdom.

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Personally, I embody elements of the caregiver, creator, lover and sage. But remember, there is no one-size-fits-all, we’re unique, complex and fluid in our ability to change. You’re characters will be too. What archetypes do you tend to favour in your novels, and did you identify with any of the archetypes yourself? Please share your thoughts 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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7 Writing tips by Lorraine Ambers

Hello, and welcome. In this post I’m sharing some of my writing tips with you, giving you a sneak peek into my writing habits. From creating realistic goals, to defining your writing zone. A helpful and fun little post. Enjoy!

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Tip number 1: Read you work aloud. This helpful tip comes from the wonderful author Judith Barrow, She instilled the advice in me. It helps to identify poor flowing work, straightens out kinks and generally is a great tool for your sharpening your revision.

Tip number 2: Use your own writing voice. Don’t try to imitate someone another writers style. Publishers, editors and readers want your unique style, your unique voice, so don’t be afraid to let yourself onto the page. Remember– don’t confuse your voice with the voice of your main character, check out my post on Defining your writing voice for a better understanding of the differences.

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Tip number 3: Always carry a notebook and pen. Pencils, or a felt pen will suffice. When an idea strikes write it down. You’ll lie to yourself, saying you’ll remember this gem of a plot twist, a development of a scene, or some clever prose – but you won’t. I can’t tell you how many times I should have been prepared. In your handbag/ backpack, in the glove box, by your bed or even record your words of epiphany onto your mobile phone.

Tip number 4: Writing and kids don’t mix. For all my writing mums and dads, the struggle is real. I know parents that get up before the children to write at 6am, and others that wait until late at night. My tip is; don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Have small writing goals, that are achievable to you and your family. I couldn’t even think about writing when my young kids were awake; or when they were preteens are home. It always resulted in tears and tantrums; mostly mine, because my kids would not let me write.

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Tip number 5: Set a writing goal. I don’t know about you, but I’m the queen of daydreams and procrastination. So I need some limits and boundaries. Even if its just writing for 20 minutes a day. Get your laptop, or pen and paper, and put your butt in a seat… and begin. Once I get started, I can write for a few hours, whereas, other days  I’ll struggle to get two words out. We all have those days, you are not alone! Still the routine and an achievable goal  really spur me on.

Tip number 6: Bring a fresh mug of tea. Hot beverages and snacks don’t help me write, but it does lift my spirits. And a happy writer is a productive writer… another white lie I tell myself. Still, why not enjoy the perks of being a writer. I fully take advantage of working from home by staying in my pyjamas, continuously drinking tea and having my cat and dog as work colleges.

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Tip number 7: Back up your work. I unfortunately learnt this the hard way – not once but twice. Thankfully, I managed to decrypt both USBs, but it was painstakingly difficult (I’m not tech savvy) and utterly stressful. Don’t repeat my mistakes! Now I save my MS’s on the cloud, a memory stick, and my computer – and just to be extra sure, I keep a printed copy in a vault that can only be accessed if you have magical powers. Of course I’m joking, I don’t have magic. Hopefully you understand my point though, when the works gone, its gone, so take care of it people.

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Tell me about some of your writing tips, quirks or habits. Have you learnt the hard way to back up your work? Or perhpas your struggling to write with young kids at home. Whatever your journey is, please share it with me, you knw 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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Are you Blocking your Writing Success?

As writers, we know our characters need to be pushed to the limits to reveal their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Have you ever realized that the same applies to you? You’re also on a journey of self discovery… and with perseverance you can accomplish anything.

Fear is a powerful emotion that shapes our whole lives. We can become slaves to our patterns and behaviours.  And without even realizing it, we can self sabotage, and block our own success. Perhaps we hide behind perfectionism, waiting for the right moment to query or publish. Perhaps we’re stuck in a loop, writing and improving but never letting anyone critique our work. Or maybe, we’ve done those things, but can’t see why were not making headway with submissions, but were to afraid to seek a professional opinion.

Instead, find strength and support for your journey to greatness. Maybe you could try adopting the Abundance theory. With the correct attitude or spiritual alignment, we can acquire personal abundance.

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Another powerful tool is to use the Power of Intention. Wayne Dyer says, ‘Our intentions create our reality.’ Start each day fresh and focus on the purpose of today. Use your time wisely and plan what goals you want to achieve by writing them down. We cannot change the past, so don’t dwell on it but think ahead instead.

Visualize your success and develop your vision by writing out your future goals or create a vision board. It’s not complicated: I’ve set one up on Pinterest using images that promote a positive response. To reinforce the future you want to ascertain. Or glue magazine cut outs onto a board and stash it away. You don’t need to look at it again, the works been done. The seed has been planted in your subconscious, trust me, changes will follow. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

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Silence your inner critique. She’s holding you back. Would you tolerate a stranger calling you fat, useless or a failure? No, of course not. Practise love and acceptance. You’re a valued member of your family and circle of friends. Treat yourself as you would others.

Practice positive thinking with the Laws of Attraction. The energy you emit to the universe will be returned to you. Remember you have the power to change what is in your control. Show gratitude for what you have today and let the rest fall to the fates. Breathe, because you’ve got this.

– Benedict Cumberbatch

Have you identified an area that you’d like to improve? Maybe it’s your writing. Perhaps you want to push yourself to become more socially engaging on social media. Or are you planning on attending a writers conference. Or taking the plunge and self-publishing.

Look back upon the defining moments in your life, and as a writer? What lessons have you learned along the way? By evaluating our lives with curiosity and intrigue we can see the paths taken and how we arrived here. Now tune into your blockages: What’s stopping you from progressing?

If you have doubt and fear in your heart, but you still preserver, then you my friend are brave and striving for greatness. What goals are you currently working on? Please share them with me, you know I love hearing from.

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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How to Write A Fantastic First Chapter

The first chapter of a story has a lot to deliver. On top of setting up your main character, and their world, it also has to hook the reader. Get it wrong, and you’ve lost the reader–that’s game over! So to help you get it right, here’s some tips on what you should or shouldn’t do in that all important first chapter.

Setting up your first chapter.

Do – introduce your Main Character. The reader needs a sprinkling of basic details to build a picture of the character. Show them in their ordinary surroundings, living with a flaw (or emotional wound) that impacts their lives in a negative way, ready to take them on their arc.

Dohint at the theme. It might only be a sentence, but it will help set the tone of the story, giving the reader a taste of what’s to come.

Don’t – start with lengthy exposition, world building, flashbacks or dreams. This also includes lengthy internal monologue, while your character stares out the window. It’s super boring. Instead, orient the reader in your MC’s world right from the start.

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Do – keep the scene active. Have your character interact with the world around her. We want to see her/ him running for the bus because they’re late again. Out hunting for food to feed their starving family. Or leaving their own birthday party, because the cute guy hasn’t noticed her, only to bump into him in the courtyard (that’s a scene from one of my novels). Set the pace, set the tone and get the reader inside the character.

Do – Include your characters goals. You’ll want to hint at, or include, the conflict that will prevent your MC from reaching their goal, thus injecting stakes. If you’re following The Three Act Story Structure, then the inciting incident may not appear in the first chapter. But delivering the set up, that will propel your MC to take action and begin their journey, is a skill worth building.

Don’t – bog down your first chapter with side characters. Keep it central to the protagonist. That doesn’t mean you can’t include other characters, that’s not realistic or practical, but limit them so that the reader connects to your MC first. If your story is a romance novel; include the love interest. If it’s a murder mystery; have them stumble across a dead boy. And it’s always fun to hint at or include the antagonist too.

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Do – open the scene with an intriguing, catchy first sentence. This is a skill all writers would love to possess. Read the first page of lots of books, get a feel for what works and what doesn’t… and practice, practise, practice.

Remember, just because were told not to do something, doesn’t mean we have to listen. If you want to open your scene with a flashback, or multiple charters, then go for it. Read lots and write lots, that is the real advice, and the best way to learn your craft.

I’m sure there are many more do’s and don’ts. Do you have any? Tell me friends, what piece of advice would you give for writing a first chapter. You know I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment.

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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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Improve your Writing by Removing Crutch Words.

Completing a rough draft of a novel is a huge success. However the real work comes from revising. Working with critique partners to help develop the plot and character arcs. But what happens after you’ve done a few rounds of revision? Where do you go next? How can you sharpen your manuscript?

We all have words that we over use, words that we rely on to tell or show the story. Words that we’ve peppered our page with. Soon, you and your beta readers will being to notice the words you rely on, and with diligence you can begin to remove them from your work.

Because I write fantasy-romance, I tend to over use body parts; eyes, mouths, certain gestures for my characters like shrugging or curling their hands into fists. When over used, our readers pick up on them, which brings them out of the story. These become our crutch words.

A great tip is to create a checklist sheet. Jot down a list of your culprits and search your document, preening them out. Don’t forget body parts, facial expressions, or words that you identify as over using. Then edit out the crutch words. Try rewriting the sentence using different words? Ask yourself – do the words adding any meaning to the sentence? Will its removal, alter the story? Can the crutch word be replaced with an alternative description? Thus eliminating the obvious eyesores before your readers identify them.

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#TIP. Word document has a Find tool that searches and highlights the specific word in your manuscript, making it easy to alter or remove.

Air caution, when using the thesaurus. While its function is invaluable to us authors, it runs the risk of stripping our unique voice from the story. I must admit to replacing a word for a recommended substitute and losing the original meaning by not understanding the definition.

A rough idea, is to limit those pesky crutch words to just once per page. Of course, you don’t have to stick to that. Changing a lounge, to a front room, mid-scene is going to be jarring. As would using flowery prose to describe a lagoon, just so you don’t say water too much.

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Some genres – I’m thinking romance – expect to have an emphasis on certain body parts. Eyes in particular, because it shows emotions, and builds tension. Reading in your genre will help you identify those crutch words that have become acceptable to use.

My last tip is to read your work aloud. We’re often too close to our work to see fault. But by sounding out the writing, our brains have the ability to process the information, thus picking up on crutch words.

Yes, it’s tedious hard work, but with persistence and a thorough revisions your writing will improve. I believe in you!!

What is your main crutch word? Don’t be shy. I love it when you share your thoughts and opinions.

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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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Defining Your Writing Voice

We all hear it, time and time again, from agents and editors and publishers… we want VOICE! But what exactly does that mean? And how can we start to define our own Voice in our writing.

Over the last year I’ve started receiving some great feedback from Editors and Agents, great Voice, wonderful writing style. And yet, I’ve had no full manuscript requests. So I wanted to dig deeper into what wasn’t working in my manuscripts. It turns out, I’d developed the wrong kind of Voice.

Don’t get me wrong, the industry wants a writers voice and their style to come through, but what they also want, also NEED… is our characters Voice. Both the POV of the character (their voice), and the writers (Our own voice), need to blend together to create a wonderful voice that draws the reader in.

If your struggling with the concept, or want to improve your own writing, I strongly recommend reading – Voice. The secret power of writing by James Scott Bell. In his bite sized book, he sets writing exercises that help hone and develop Voice. He gives examples of Voice in literature to help the reader understand the many different aspects of voice and how we can cultivate a different style of voice for different genres.

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Perhaps it’s easier to develop a characters voice in first person POV, over second person POV, because the writer is filtering everything through the characters perspective. And to make matters more confusing, some novels are written in an omniscient narrator style, where the writers voice carries the story.

The main points that I’ve learnt is when describing a setting, do it through the characters eyes, taking into account their mood, their background, their current goals and their character wounds. I’d been describing them through my POV. What I wanted to convey was a stunning visual world full of hidden emotion. Some characters don’t care what the sunset looks like, or what dress so-and-so is wearing. Oops!

I’ve tried to write my second novel Mischief and Mayhem in deep third person POV, unfortunately, to much of my own voice carries the story. So it’s time for a complete rewrite. I’m on the lookout for new critique partners who understand Close narrator – Third Person POV, and loves fantasy-romance. If you’d like to work with me, please comment below.

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Do you have any tips on how to develop your character voice? If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Don’t be shy, we’re all here to learn and develop our craft.

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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Writing (or not writing) During A Pandemic

Being creative during a pandemic can be a struggle. Not only is the world full of fear, but it’s also loaded with stress. If you can’t write, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re living in uncertain times, making sure you take care of yourself and your family is the main priority. But to ease the burden, here’s a lighthearted post about how I’m dealing with the situation.

Keep active.

This translates to hoovering in my pajamas, washing the dishes while staring out of the window and daydreaming. I like to let the lemon-fresh soapy suds lull me into a peaceful bliss while I conjure up new plots.

Keeping the kids busy.

Signed up to Disney+ so we can all watch our favorite films. I’m taking advantage of being emotionally carried away by Marvel magic. Sigh! Chris Pratt. Besides, endless games of monopoly and Uno are getting old fast. It’s like an extended Christmas holiday with less booze.

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Keep expectations realistic

I now understand that two ‘family sized bars of chocolate’ are supposed to last a full week. Apparently, stocking up on treats does not count as essential shopping. BUT, when I next make the perilous ‘social distancing’ trip around the supermarket – I’ll buy more chocolate (and maybe booze).

It seems everyone else has gone baking mad, meaning bags of flour, paracetamol and loo roll has suddenly become rarer than gold dust (who would have guessed). Thankfully, I can’t bake!

Take some ME time.

This means hiding in the bathroom; to either have an emotional break down, or to read a chapter (or three) in peace. Suddenly, I understand why my husband takes so long on the loo. Sneaky!

Draw strength from the situation

Sometimes we need to pull on our inner reserves, knowing that we will get through this madness. A good tip is to call upon your Spirit Animal. I have called upon a hamster: I like to eat, hibernate, gaze at the world side and then do as little house keeping as possible.

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Humor can be a great way to cope with difficult situations. So why not get creative and share your spirit animal 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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Powerful Influences in Writing.

We explore the world around us through things we hear, see and experience. So I guess it’s natural to expect the current crisis to slip into our writing. Should we sensor our words to protect other peoples feelings? Should we avoid subjects, because they might be deemed inappropriate?

As writers we’re told to research, to write what we know, to have empathy for our fellow humans. This is how we learn to write from their perspective. With the Coronavirus pandemic on the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s not surprising it slipped into my latest WIP.

I think in times of crisis it’s the artists responsibility to dig a little deeper.

~ Bruce Pavitt.

Yesterday, I did a hard cull of all traces of the conspiracy theory I’d just invented. It was too close to the bone, and too horrifying to write. I had palpitations thinking about the potential persecution I’d face.

I’m a strong believer that we don’t need anymore fuel added to the fear-fire. And yet, I’m aware of the benefits to writing about what scares you. The unknown, the strange, the grotesque. How else are we suppose to make sense of the things that form our day-to-day world?

There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there – just get to work and make something.

~ Lisa Golightly

In this time of crisis, when everyone is maintaining a calm, sensible approach. I wonder how many writers are releasing some of that pent up anxiety and terror onto paper?

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Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share? Are you writing about the current crisis? Has something similar slipped into your work? Please share your experience, 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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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.