I Can Only Imagine

As a writer, there are many times when things just don’t go right. The plot takes a wrong turn. The agent doesn’t think your story is publish-worthy. Your dog eats your only hard copy of your manuscript.

The writing life is full of disappointments. But it is also filled with glorious wins and blessings. As a writer, your words will reach untold numbers of people and will impact their lives in ways you can only imagine.

Haven’t you read a book and thought, “I can only imagine what that character felt like”, or “I wonder if the author experienced that? How else could they write about that so deeply?”

You can only write what you can imagine. And you can only imagine if you’ve felt that or something similar. Those rejections prepare you for that scene in your book when the heroine feels the depth of despair, followed by the happily ever after. Who wouldn’t feel encouraged—even victorious—after walking that road with your character?!

You have to understand and believe that all things really DO work together for good. Yes, even those gut-wrenching disappointments in your writing career where you want to sell your computer and pick up the knitting needles.

You will always go through the fire and the water. It’s a part of life but notice it said “through”. You won’t stay there and you can only imagine the immeasurable wealth of wisdom and truth you gather along the way.

Without even realizing it, you’ll share that wealth in the lines and chapters of your prose and you can’t even conceive of how much it will bless others. Walk the path. Ride the sometimes lonely road. When challenges emerge and you face what seems like insurmountable odds, know you have within you not only the ability to overcome, but to use the experience to enrich the lives of others.

What a glorious gift challenges are. What powerful emotion you can capture and put into words when you are disappointed by rejection. You don’t have to ask for it but welcome it when it comes. Learn from it. Use it to write compelling stories, all the while thanking God you know what your characters face.

If you do that, how much better will your book be? Well, I can only imagine!

Romance Writers, I’m Calling You Out

I’ve noticed something lately in romance stories. First in my own works and then in others.

That is the over focus of how the hero or heroine views the other physically.

It’s as if we don’t have any other way to show the reader that the hero and heroine are attracted to each other.

It’s basic. Shallow. And I think we can do better.

I’m challenging myself therefore I’m challenging you.

I’m reading a book right now where there heroine’s internal thoughts are always on the hero’s “beauty” every time she sees him.

However, he annoys the crap out of her and she’s determined not to have anything to do with him.

Yet, while trying to give him the bum’s rush and cold shoulder, she flirts with him.

Really? This is a woman trying to get away from a man.

The writing is great. The historical aspects are fab. But in a romance we’ve got to put some elbow grease into deepening and better defining the attraction between the hero and heroine.

Even in a steamy romance with strong sexual content, we MUST go beyond the physical.

I read a series of novels for a contest not too long ago and while they are called romance novels, I began to think of them as lust novels.

Always, always in these stories the first attraction is physical — true to human nature — then straight to sexual with little emotional layering.

Romance is all about EMOTION! What we feel. Not what we do.

Don’t lose sight of the romance because you have your eye on the first sexual encounter (for you secular authors) or on the spiritual or historical story line (for you inspirational authors.)

What do your hero and heroine feel emotionally for each other? How can you show that on the page?

In my last book, Princess Ever After (Feb 2014) I challenged myself to NOT write so much about the physical but hit the core emotions as best I could.

Yes, when the hero first sees the heroine, he’s struck by her beauty. It fit the scene. He wasn’t expecting someone quite so lovely.

But when he sees her again, they physical draw is minimized by what he’s beginning to “feel” for her.

Same with the heroine. She notices him physically but begins to see something deeper and more enduring beneath is formal and stayed exterior.

You’ve got to do the same with your heroine and hero.

If you find you are constantly describing how one thinks the other looks, then you’re being lazy.

Great for a line or two in the beginning. One in the middle. Another declared in dialog to a friend or to the H/H. And perhaps one at the end.

No more than five “He was a living god. Beautiful and divine,” or “She was the full moon in the midnight sky, bright and round against the darkness, full of life and pulling on the tide of his heart.”

(Hey, that’s not bad! Dibs! I can overwrite with the best of them.)

That’s another thing. Don’t overwrite emotion. Or physical description. Leave some space for the reader to join the story and add what they think and feel about the characters. How they see the characters.

How do you not over do the physical?

1. Get to the emotional layer sooner. What does she see in him. What does he sense about her?

2. What do the H/H bring to each other? What does she have that he needs and vice versa?

3. Up the tension by giving them real conflict. You Got Mail is a classic example of the hero destroying the heroine’s dream by building a big box book store in the sublime shadow of her little mom and pop book shop.

4. Just because someone is handsome or beautiful does not make them a candidate for romance. What makes them a candidate for romance is their heart, their kindness, their spirituality, what they have in common with each other. Strike on those elements.

5. Set up a scene where they share a common interest. Or where one confesses a deep wound to the other. Or, their happiest moment. THEN you can have the “look,” the exchanged glances that make their hearts go pitty-pitty-ping!

Now, go write well!

***

RachelCloseUPBest-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and  dog.

Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince. Go forth and write!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Social Media Minute—Top 10 Ways to Get More Twitter Followers

I do a lot of teaching about social media online and at conferences all around the country. One of the things I’m asked about the most is how to increase my Twitter followers. I haven’t run into many people who don’t want to increase their numbers, so today I’m going to give you my top 10 ways to get more Twitter followers.
Why do I want more Twitter followers?
  • It gives me credibility
  • It increases my reach, and makes it easier to spread the word, no matter what my message.
How do I get more Twitter followers?
1. Be sure to follow people back. It’s considered good manners to follow people back who follow you. This doesn’t mean you have to follow people who make you uncomfortable or who are trying to sell you 10,000 followers. Use common sense, but unless there’s a good reason be nice and follow people back.
2. Don’t PROTECT YOUR TWEETS. On your Twitter profile there’s the option to protect your tweets. This locks your account and doesn’t let people follow you unless you approve them. If you feel the need to protect your tweets, you really shouldn’t be on Twitter. This social media platform is a place to get found, not lurk.
3. Make sure your 160 character ABOUT ME gives a good picture of who you are. You don’t want to over use hashtags here, but you do want to cover all the things you might tweet about. Here’s what I have as my description: Writer, Editor, Wonderer—with a passion for life’s stories and God’s path. Author, repped by Jessica Kirkland, #militaryfamilies #vets #SciFi #mystery

 

4. Show your face. Always use a picture of YOURSELF as your Twitter icon. The evidence is overwhelming. People respond to a head shot where you can see the person’s smile. The only exception is if you have a business account. Then you can use your company’s logo.
5. Have a regular presence on Twitter. I Tweet a lot more now than I did when I started out. More first goal was to Tweet four to six times each day, four or five days a week. I use Hootsuite to schedule my Tweets throughout the day. Here’s a post I wrote on How to use Hootsuite to help you get started. Do NOT send out all your tweets at once. This is called hogging the stream and is the height of bad manners!
 6. BE CONSISTENT with the subject of your tweets. I tweet about social media, writing, some books, and issues important to military families. Occasionally, I’ll find something that I just want to share outside of those topics, but that’s an exception, not the norm.
7. Make sure you’re sharing valuable content with your Twitter updates.Don’t make your Tweets all about you. Instead, promote others who have something valuable to say to your followers. I know it’s counter intuitive, but it works every time!

 

8. Look for strategic people to follow. Here’s what I mean. I’m working on a science fiction manuscript and trying to grow my Twitter followers for that specific market. To find new people to follow, I visit some of my favorite science fiction author’s profiles. Then I click on their followers. This does two things.
1. It gives me people to follow who are interested in following a scifi author.
2. It gives me a good chance of them following me back because they’re already good about following back.
9. Reply to others publically. Twitter is a public medium and people like to be mentioned. If someone says something nice about you, or mentions you, be sure to reply publically to thank them. I also keep a list of people who regularly mention me and try to find something they do that I can mention. Here’s a post I wrote on theWays to Utilize Twitter Lists.
10. Don’t use an auto responder. You may think you’re being polite, but what you’re really being is irritating. Auto responders are obvious and no one likes messages from a computer clogging up their timeline.
What NOT to do
There are several things that may seem tempting for short cuts to Twitter followers. I cannot urge you strongly enough not to try them. This is one of these times when if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • Do NOT buy Twitter followers.
  • Do NOT use ANY automatic programs to increase your followers on Twitter.

Twitter has very strict policies against these practices and I’ve known several people who have had their Twitter accounts suspended because of this.

With these tips you should be well on your way to a healthy, growing Twitter Life!

 

Lessons on the Writer’s Road

As I pedal through middle-America, I think of you. When I learn new truths, I know they apply to you and what you face.

The lessons I’ve learned on the bicycle road are the same lessons on the writer’s road so I want to share some of them with you:

Things will NEVER go according to plan. Even your best plans are altered by reality of what is found on the writer’s road. You don’t have the knowledge of what’s down each road, around each curve and over every hill.

There is ALWAYS a reason when things don’t go according to plan. You just need to make sure we are open to that reason or we’ll miss an incredible blessing.

Plans should only be guidelines. If you marry a specific plan—particularly when writing—you’ll end up disappointed and at odds with life. Use your plan as a guideline only and then roll with the flow.

Slow is better. If you try to go through it too fast, you’ll end up missing so much of your blessing. Take it slow and you’ll enjoy each and every blessing because you won’t be rushing by on your way to success.

The journey is better than the destination. No kidding. If you focus so much on getting to the end, you’ll get there and feel empty. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

The encounters and experiences are more valuable than the miles you travel or the destination you reach. If you take the time to enjoy the trip, the people and experiences you come across will get you to your destination a wealthy writer.

You hear a lot about how difficult and challenging the writing road is. But what you don’t hear too much is how incredible it is. It’s really okay to not know where you’ll be tomorrow or how you’ll get there.

Enjoy the journey and you’ll be excited, at peace and filled with fodder to write marvelous stories that will stir your readers off the couch. Your characters will be deeper and your plots will be more compelling.

Let your imagination take the trip down the road where only adventurous writers dare to ride. Keep going forward, regardless of where it leads. You’ll be glad you kept going down the Writer’s Road. So will your readers!

What adventures have you had on the writer’s road? Share them here!