Ms. Loucks currently resides in a suburb of Chicago and runs a bakery in a North Shore Suburb.
Five Tips for becoming a better writer and why they are important
by Kristi Loucks
Everyone has a few tricks up their sleeves in terms of a writing process and what works for them creatively. So, I thought I would share a few tips and tricks that have helped me along the way!
1. Read as much as you write – Whether you are reading a best seller or a little known indie author, there is always something you can learn from other authors. Perhaps you might take notes on how John Grisham crafts a story, how Stephen King can terrify you into sleeping with the lights on with something seemingly innocuous like a car, or even how an indie author you found by accident can still make you fall in love and feel invested in the characters they have created. A good story is a good story whether it’s from a NYT best seller or an unknown author just publishing their first novel.
2. Find the things that work for you, not what works for someone else – Just because your high school English teacher told you that an outline is imperative does not mean that works for everyone. I spent years trying to organize my thoughts neatly into an outline, but it stunted my creativity and forced me to think inside the box when that is precisely what writers need to avoid. Now, if it works for you absolutely go for it. I’m not totally free thinking a novel mind you, there is some structure to my routine as I use a program called workflowy (www.workflowy.com), which is basically an interactive outline. But, it is easily manipulated, and all of your edits/changes can be viewed in case you realize that a previously deleted piece of junk was actually a work of pure genius in disguise. Bottom line, do whatever helps you feel creative whether it’s character bios, outlines, chicken scratch notes on napkins, or voice notes on your cell phone; as long as YOU can decipher your own code it will be helpful for the continuity and development of your story.
3. Talk it out – Sometimes, even when you have the greatest idea in the world the early stages of the story are the hardest to get down. (Are you being too obvious, did you develop the plot too quickly/slowly, are the characters believable and well developed, etc.) I always seem to get here in chapter 7, and when I do there are a handful of people I trust to tell me what I got right and more importantly what I didn’t. I send chapter or two off and ask questions or sometimes, I’ll just call them and tell them what I’m stuck on and in the process of talking it through an idea finds it’s way into my thoughts. One of the best suggestions I’ve gotten from friends is simple, when you have a problem making a character model, base them off of someone you know, chances are if they are real to you they will translate as real to the reader.
4. Edit early and often, and NEVER try to edit your own work to save money – This lesson seems to be exceedingly difficult for some to understand, but cutting or red-lining your own work is almost as difficult as cutting off your own arm and you tend to become blind to the grammar/spelling or continuity errors when you’ve been staring at the work for weeks, months or even years. Even top editors for NYT bestselling authors make mistakes, so you won’t be immune to it. Plus, let’s face it, even people who love you won’t always be overjoyed at the idea of playing your copy editor more than once. There really is nothing like having world war three with your significant other over commas and semi-colons…save the fights for who ate the last of the ice cream and left it in the freezer, spoon and all.
Life is full or rules and guidelines, but most creative endeavors work best if you don’t allow the rules to put a lid on your creative process. Of course, grammar rules still apply!
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ABOUT THE BOOK: Jared BelaForte spent his life protecting the people he loves and the place he calls home working for a government appointed task force called The Greater Wilmington First Response Team or GWRT. A group comprised of his friend and half brother, Dylan Spencer. His father’s old partner with the Wilmington PD, Alex Kelley and his cousin Jules Devereaux. Rounding out the team was Shay McElroy, a profiler who also happened to be the love of his life.
Everything seemed perfect in his life, he had love, friends and family surrounding him and his team was on the verge of putting an end to the reign of a known trafficker who dealt in drugs and women. But in one moment, the man Jared had spent years trying to put away interrupted that life.
Sergei Dolenov is that man. He deals in drugs and dolls, a family business you might say. He had been able to stay under the radar in the sleepy port of North Carolina that he called home these days. But when the Governor put together a task force to disrupt his business, he took on a new target. Jared BelaForte.
After two years of torture and pain, Jared believed he would die in Dolenov’s “care”. But just when all hope is lost, an opportunity to escape presents itself. Two years to the day, Dylan got the phone call. Jared was in the local ER, and he was alive. Jared also learns that there was one other person that was left behind when he went missing, his little girl Sera, now just 17 months old. She was the glue that held Shay together when all seemed lost to her.
Can he pick up the pieces before the man responsible returns to finish the job he started?