A verbal storyteller engages with an audience through gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Your book can only compel via words on paper or on an ereader. That's harder.
Unless you are an exceptional writer, you need to learn a lot before publishing something good enough to earn respect -- and income. Yes, read good books by successful writers. Also read about structure, character development, setting, dialogue, and related topics. Readers deserve your best.
While you can learn a lot from
books, it helps to talk about writing with others and perhaps learn in a
classroom or similar environment. I learn a great deal from members of my critique group. When one of us sees an interesting article on writing or voice, we tend to share it.
There are writing classes at community colleges, workshops offered by regional arts organizations, and writing conferences. Most years, writers' magazines such as The Writer or Poets and Writers provide lists of conferences. Check your library.
There are many online classes now.
They can be expensive, though not all are. I always prefer in-person learning,
but your location or schedule may not permit that.
During the COVID timeframe, a number of authors are giving short courses via zoom. I've taken several that Jane Cleland has offered. Doing a search for "zoom classes by authors" turns up many. I also found a comparison of traditional online classes.
Take note that some of the results will be ads for classes. We authors know there is nothing wrong with advertising, just be sure to look at a range of results.
Some of what you will learn in any class is basic-–in a mystery, the villain cannot be someone introduced in the
last scene, nor can the reader know a character’s thoughts but not be informed
of everything that character knows. John Gilstrap (author of the Jonathan
Grave books) put this aptly in a daylong course I took–-these are cheats. (It's become trendy to talk about unreliable narrators, those whose point of view you share but don't share what they know. I don't read these books.)
In romance, if the only thing keeping a couple apart is miscommunication, a reader will want to bop them on their heads and tell them to pick up the phone. Strong romance stories build tension in varied ways.
You can probably think of important points in other genres. Personally, when I read science fiction, I want a description of the aliens. I don’t need many details on the humans.
So, if you're sitting there feeling blue because you can't interact with other writers, you really can get a sense of shared inspiration with zoom meetings or online classes. Just do it!
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To learn more about Elaine, go to elaineorr.com or sign up for her newsletter.
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