Five Wishes – guest Shereen Vedam
I’ve been a fan of Shereen’s stories for years, so it’s with great delight that I welcome her to my blog. If you like fairy stories, romance, adventure, and the occasional talking broomstick, I highly recommend these books. This blog contains sound advice for writers, but readers should note THERE IS A CONTEST FOR A FREE BOOK BELOW!!
Grant Me Five Wishes
The best way to improve our writing is to pay attention to what our readers want. Though it might sometimes feel as if they ask for the impossible, satisfying reader-needs is a sure fire way to win their hearts.
So what do readers want? Why, it’s simple. They want writers to grant them five wishes.
WISH #1 – Indulge me – This wish is not about drinking hot chocolate on a cold winter day, but it could offer an avid reader an equivalent amount of enjoyment. We grant this reader wish when we pay homage to writing basics. Eliminate typos, revere grammar, be concise, and use literary techniques with skill to the point where readers becomes so immersed in the story, they are unaware we have even used such tools. Mastering this wish will take patience, practice and persistence. Start by building a relationship with yourself through your writing – write every day, week, month and year. Then begin to edit with a reader in mind.
WISH #2 – Convey me – This wish speaks to suspension of disbelief, which in turn is linked to meticulous research and solid world building. Whether our story is a mystery or a paranormal, a contemporary or a historical, we must convince our reader that he or she has just bought a train ticket to our fictional world. If that world has unusual elements, then explain them up front so the reader can enjoy the ride without being bumped out. If we have twists and turns, lay the ground work so those shocks are absorbable. Paint vivid and atmospheric sceneries, employ a captivating conductor (an engaging narrative voice), populate the train with intriguing passengers (fully fleshed-out secondary characters) and ensure the main characters are people a reader will be enthusiastic about spending time with during this exciting journey.
WISH #3 – Intrigue me – If this train ride gets boring, a reader might be tempted to get off at the next station. To avoid this, ensure all scene changes and chapter ends have solid hooks crafted to make a reader say, “Maybe I’ll read just
a little longer.” A Beastly Scandal’s editor had a favorite question that she would scribble at the end of my scenes: “And then what?” Every time I read that, I wanted to reply, “Well, keep reading and you’ll find out.” But what she meant was, “What’s to keep me from putting this book down right now?” Give the reader a reason to keep reading.
WISH #4 – Amuse me – Karl Iglesias, in his Writing for Emotional Impact, devotes eight pages to this reader wish. He believes that a reader always tries to second guess a story line. It’s part of the fun of reading. So inject humor, plot twists and endearing character quirks. And if we can intermingle surprise with suspense, that train will be chugging on late into the night.
WISH #5 – Delight me – This final wish is about a story’s ending. But this wish does not simply refer to a happy ending where the hero and heroine end up together, though that is a strict requirement of any book labelled a romance. To truly satisfying a reader by the end of a story, we must tie up all the story threads. It’s about ensuring the ending is solid and strong enough to justify the reader having spent their precious money and time to travel with us. It’s leaving a reader sighing with pleasure at the end of their journey and then wanting to buy another train ticket from us.
As writers, are we up to granting readers these five wishes? Of course, we are. But we could use a life line. There are many books on how to edit well, but authors also need insightful feedback from the people who have our backs: critique partners, contest judges and editors. If their comments always make us feel proud and pleased about what an excellent writer we are, we need a stronger supporter who can be fearless about hurting our feelings when necessary. Someone who will at times make us so furious, that we passionately gripe to family and friends about how wrong this person is about our work.
We need this type of honest, uncomfortable feedback to force us to re-examine our work with a critical eye. To clearly see both what’s working, and what isn’t. And don’t be afraid of your righteous anger. That fury can trigger creative breakthroughs. When we’re royally cross, we gain the courage to step out of our comfort zone and shed those easy answers with which we normally pad our work. This process is necessary to ensure our story doesn’t wander, will read faster and stays laser focused to hold a reader’s undivided attention until the very last stop.
Remember, our goal is not simply to write a good book. Our goal is to win a reader’s heart. To do that, we must craft stories that leave our readers in awe, and forces them to ignore their TBR (to be read) piles while they anxiously scour the internet or bookstore for our next book. And curse us if we haven’t yet released it.
My recent release, a paranormal Regency novella, is part of a Christmas anthology, One Winter’s Night. Below is an excerpt from this Goldilocks-inspired, Regency romance, A Season for Giving, where you are about to meet one of the three “bears.”
December 20, 1812, London, England
CHRISTOPHER DE WYNTER skimmed his hand across the page as he wrote down the time, date, location, and purpose behind this final experiment. Flickering candlelight from three lit candles accented his perfectly-written script. His mama used to say his writing was a work of art. It was in Christopher’s nature to be precise, a useful trait for his work with volatile mixtures.
And important work it was. He designed trigger mechanisms for guns that soldiers in combat could use in a dependable and safe manner. He had recently been inspired to use a small canister linked to a braided rope-type fuse in place of the less reliable fuses made of straws or quills filled with black powder. He hoped that one change would greatly reduce the hazard of accidental explosions.
With the war still raging, the navy had gone to great lengths to ensure Christopher’s work was kept top secret. If successful, his new fuse could hasten the end of the war and save numerous lives. Still, such an invention was best kept out of the hands of the enemy. Only his family and his naval commander, Sir Trigg, were privy to his work.
Christopher had been given permission to use the Royal Arsenal’s laboratory in Woolwich to work on his theories. Its location, on the outskirts of London, was far from his family home in Mayfair, so on those nights when he worked late, he stayed in the barracks nearby.
While there, he still took pains to ensure his most dangerous work was conducted only when no one else was likely to be nearby. He scheduled his tests when his colleagues had left for the evening or were at church on Sunday when the adjacent offices were certain to be empty.
Despite painstaking precautions and triple checks of his routines, occasional unexpected explosions did occur, and they were hard to keep quiet. Come daybreak, neighbors nearby were known to complain about the loud blasts at night and charred debris spewed on the streets. Those annoyances were tiny compared to the stir that would be caused if such disruptions were to happen in his laboratory at his home in Mayfair, where the ton of London, with strong connections to members of Parliament, resided.
As for his own safety, Christopher, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a predisposition for working with chemicals, had spent the last couple of years surviving the dangers of his chosen profession. It helped that he had a special family talent that enabled him to escape an imminent blast. An unusual inheritance passed down over many generations had kept him out of harm’s way.
The story went that one of his ancestors, a Spanish gypsy, had been a tightrope dancer in a circus until, in retaliation for a perceived wrong, a witch had cast a curse that clashed with the gypsies’ protection spell. Christopher was unclear about the specifics and uncertain if he even believed in such far-fetched tales, but all direct de Wynter descendants could race like a gazelle, scale walls as nimbly as a squirrel climbed trees, and leap like a startled Yorkshire hare. On occasion, a de Wynter was known to even defy gravity and rise straight up in the air.
A Season for Giving by Shereen Vedam
After one unsuccessful season, Miss Honoria Gilbert knows just what she wants in a husband. And she’s finally found him. But Christopher de Wynter isn’t your typical English gentleman. He’s living a double life, doing undercover work for the crown, and has no intention of letting anyone get too close. But then again, he’s never been up against the power of a young lady’s Christmas wish . . .
I have a Kindle copy of One Winter’s Night to offer as a prize to one randomly chosen commenter. To enter:
- if you’re a reader, share a wish you’d like writers to grant you
- if you’re a writer, share one of your readers’ heartfelt wishes
Shereen Vedam was born in Sri Lanka but her roots are now firmly planted on Canada’s West Coast. After thriving for 5 years in friendly Winnipeg with its -40ºC wind chill factor, she decided sandals and shorts for 9 months of the year was preferable to 6 months of parkas, snow boots and frozen nose. Vancouver Island’s magical rain forest, with its ancient cedar, red-barked arbutus and giant weeping sequoia, inspires her writing. Among her published works, you’ll find heartwarming historical and fantasy romances that have a healthy dollop of mystery, with a pinch of magic.