Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Guest Blogger: Sheralyn Pratt

Note from Stephanie: I'm out of town again this week and have asked author Sheralyn Pratt to fill in for me. I've been a fan of Sheralyn's ever since I picked up her first novel, Spies, Lies and a Pair of Ties, the first in the Rhea Jensen mystery series. Filled with wit, suspense, vivid characters and tons of fun, the adventures of private investigator Rhea Jensen will jump from the pages and grab your imagination. If you haven't tried Sheralyn's books, do so ASAP--you're missing out! Spies, Lies and a Pair of Ties is followed by Welcome to Stalk Lake City, Idle Playgrounds, and the upcoming Kay's Story. Visit Sheralyn's website here and her blog here. Welcome to the Frog Blog, Sheralyn!

Hello, fellow bibliophiles.

Stephanie has asked me to fill her shoes for the day, but I must say I feel like a small girl playing dress up in her mama’s clothes. Such big shoes to fill!

That said, my name is Sheralyn Pratt and I am an author whose 4th book is coming out next month.

Writing is such an amazing thing! Fewer things are less intuitive to man than writing. Why? Because we think in images and feel with emotions, not in words. So many people see the perfect story in their head, but realize once they sit down to write it that they can’t… they simply can’t capture it the way they see it… the way they feel it! It’s like cognitive constipation, and they quickly come to the conclusion that they just don’t have “the gift.”

*buzzer sound* Wrong! Wrong question, and wrong answer! A better question, in my opinion?

How does one take imagery and emotion and turn into words that are once again translated into imagery and emotion by a third party?

It is a point to ponder.

Writing is like singing in front of a group or standing naked in front of a stadium of people. Any flaw is immediately zeroed in on and judged. There is an exposing that takes place when one writes honestly—however, most of us want to write without revealing ourselves, our characters, or offending those close to us. In my opinion, that is why most people are not stellar writers. We want to say something without saying it… get the accolades without facing any accompanying heat… to please and pander but then be applauded for originality and wit.

The gift of writing is its demand on us to be authentic and clear in what we present. There are no non-verbal cues to guide our readers, nor tone of voice beyond that directly indicated. Characters that are shadows of what might be real do not grasp an audience, and storylines that are apologetic frustrate rather than engage.

And so the challenge remains for those with a story to tell to actually get their feet wet and their hands dirty to actually tell the story. To be able to summarize its heart in a single sentence… to be able to give it enough flavor in a paragraph that others want to pick it up, and to make people care by the end of the first chapter. That takes a lot of love, immeasurable thought, and a willingness to stand up to a firing squad (if only in the editing room).

We all may die before perfecting the skill, but it is a worthy gift to seek. The scriptures say that all of man may be perfect but it is his tongue that defiles him (James 3… pretty much the whole chapter). Our writing being an extension of the words our tongues would speak can make it a great teacher in the game of life, if we let it be.

So, write on!


4 Comments:

At 8/08/2007 3:51 PM, Anonymous marlene said...

One of my readers, a former leader of a writing group, said to write so the you actually paint the item you are describing or actually evoke the emotion you want the reader to feel rather than telling him what to see or feel. A couple of times I've had readers add in sentences that assigned feelings rather than created them: "The beautiful winter trees" rather than,"trees, layered in soft, pristine snow," or "The discussion made him feel that his comments had been futile and he felt angry," instead of putting in the enough of the actual dialogue to create the sense of futility.

I may go the other way too much and I don't pretend to have mastered the technique. Personally I think evoking feelings makes a lot of difference between writing sounding that comes across as "preachy" and being able to convey a message that really touches the heart.

Something to think about and work on. Thanks for the thoughts!

 
At 8/09/2007 12:47 AM, Blogger Josi said...

"Storylines that are apologetic frustrate rather than engage" What a great line! And so true. I can now assign a reason to some books I just didn't like. We must have that confidence in the story we are telling. Great points.

 
At 8/10/2007 12:45 AM, Blogger Don said...

You have just helped me identify one of my biggest writing weaknesses. Excellent insights - thank you.

 
At 8/10/2007 2:08 PM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

Thanks for some great comments. I love reading how other writers feel about our unique and wondrous pursuit. Was going to say "job" but that doesn't give enough ooomph to the whole deal.

Besides, jobs end, and I can't see writing ever ending for me--even in the next life--because finding the right words is so much easier this way, most of the time. Yep, a tongue extender probably sums it all up.

 

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