Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

Why Your Story’s Theme Matters — August 16, 2019

Why Your Story’s Theme Matters

theme-matters

Your story’s theme is not the same as its plot.

Theme is the deeper meaning, the underlying message, behind your story, and much more Universal.

In three of Jane Austen’s novels, the themes are right there in the titles: “Pride and Prejudice”, “Persuasion”, and “Sense and Sensibility”.

When attempting to define your own themes, think in terms of a phrase, or sentence. Maybe two sentences, but rarely more.

Theme isn’t reserved for Literary Fiction, or any particular genre.

Ideally, theme should be identifiable in any story we create.

Sometimes, our own themes will be obvious to us, but at other times, not at all. We tend to bury the deeper meaning, and may find it difficult to pinpoint.

Whilst it’s possible to tell a great story without specifically considering the theme, it does help to know the intentions, reason, and purpose, behind what we’re doing, as writers.

What compels us to complete a particular novel? What, ultimately, are we hoping to achieve through our works in progress?

Theme is essential, because it’s what makes your work special. Unique.

A plot is a series of connected events.

Characters are of central importance, because they are the people aspect, and the particular people experiencing the events in question.

But, to tie the whole together, there’s going to be a why.

Why should readers be following these specific people, as they go through these specific life events?

What can the reader expect to gain from reading your work?

What will they learn, on an emotional, or even spiritual, level, that can be applied beyond the limited scope of the story world?

 

These are some brief thoughts, on the subject of theme in stories. Hopefully, this will help you, as you begin to consider and explore your own themes.

 

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People Watching as a Fiction Writer — July 13, 2019

People Watching as a Fiction Writer

people-watching-writers

In a recent post, I discussed the subject of basing characters on real people.

In general, I wouldn’t suggest basing your characters entirely upon people you know in real life. However, being inspired by actual people, and incorporating some of their personality traits into your characters, is fine.

If done well, this can make your fictional people significantly more believable and interesting.

But here’s the thing: Strangers can provide as much, or more, inspiration, than people you know.

People watching: It can help.

As long as you manage to people watch without appearing to be some sort of crazy stalker, that is.

The fact that you don’t know someone forces you to invent almost everything behind what you see on the surface.

But a snippet of conversation, or an interesting personality trait of any kind, can provide the spark your imagination requires.

And that’s what, as writers, we’re always searching for: sparks. These are the added ingredients that can elevate an okay character to a good character – or, better still, a good character to a great one.

 

So, stay alert. People watch to your heart’s content.

And hopefully, you will find some ideas that will assist you, as you develop your characters, and create more characters, in the future.

 

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Recommended Writing Blogs: Personal Favourites — June 19, 2019

Recommended Writing Blogs: Personal Favourites

author-blog-best

This post is intended to be a resource for writers out there, looking for advice on writing craft, publishing, author platforms, inspiration and motivation, and any other aspects of being a writer.

Paula Writes is one site that covers writing related topics, but it’s important to find as many great sources of information and guidance as possible, to help you on your writing journey.

I am able to personally recommend all of the following sites. I will update this post, on an ongoing basis.

 

The Creative Penn

 

Standout Books

 

Mixtus Media

 

Just Writerly Things

 

Write Good Books

 

Joanne Writes Books

 

Abbie Emmons

 

Emalie Jacobs

 

A Well Told Story

 

Well-Storied

 

Helping Writers Become Authors

 

Online Writing Tips

 

 

I would suggest saving this post to favourites, or to one of your Pinterest boards, for future reference, as I will add more sites to the list, over time.

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Characters and the Role of Pets — May 22, 2019

Characters and the Role of Pets

characters-pets

Does your MC have any pets?

How about your other characters, starting with major characters? If not, why not? And did they ever have pets?

And let’s be as specific as possible.

Two dogs, yes. But try two Labradors. Okay, one Black Labrador, and one Chocolate. Names?

Dog people. Cat people. Someone with a house full of parrots. The fact is that animals are important in many of our lives.

A pet can even become, effectively, another character.

At any rate, the relationships between our fictional people and their pets can speak volumes. It can help from a character development point of view.

If your MC has a pet rabbit and you yourself never have, research pet rabbits, as if you were planning to buy one yourself.

It might not seem necessary, if the rabbit doesn’t actually play a significant role in your story, but knowing such details about aspects of the character’s daily life does matter.

The more effort you put into these areas, the more you will ultimately connect, and come to understand, your protagonist, and other main (and even minor) characters.

In conclusion then, do take the time to consider pets.

This seemingly small tip is one that can actually make a significant different, if you’ve created characters, but they feel somewhat distant, or like cardboard cut-out archetypes.

Pets can give characters the edge, and transform them from names, ages, and traits, into actual people: people readers can believe in, and care about.

Basing Characters on Real People: Okay or Not? — May 21, 2019

Basing Characters on Real People: Okay or Not?

real-characters

Characters need to feel like real people. They need to be believable and relatable.

But feeling like a real person, and actually being based upon somebody real, are not the same thing.

Even if we don’t consciously set out to base our characters on actual people, it tends to happen that they contain elements of ourselves, and of others we know. Ideas must arise from somewhere, after all.

Sometimes, the sources are more obvious to us than they might be on other occasions. I personally feel that there are elements of myself in each of my characters. But, of course, elements of other people do find themselves into some of the characters, also.

When it comes to including other people, who really exist, in your fiction, you obviously have to be careful about libel, and ethical issues. But these aren’t the only potential hazards.

In truth, real people don’t tend to make great characters, for a few reasons.

We don’t, and can’t, thoroughly know people in real life, however close, and therefore, can’t entirely understand their motives. For this reason alone, we can’t effectively use real people in fiction, and would probably end up resorting to invention, to some degree.

The ideal solution is generally to mix it up.

Some of our own traits can blend with others from people we know, and then we can add a few more elements, from pure imagination. You know how things blur together in dreams? Reality and fiction intertwine, and the result can potentially be fascinating.

 

I wouldn’t, in conclusion, recommend basing any character, in all aspects, on one specific real person, in a work of fiction.

And I certainly don’t suggest doing what I used to, in some of my childhood stories: making a character name start with the same initial letter as the person the character is modelled upon – or using another name you strongly associate with the person, such as a middle name. Not good. For tips on choosing character names, take a look at my post on that subject.

Sometimes, incidentally, strangers can prove more inspirational than people we actually know. I suggest reading my post about the benefits of people watching for writers, in which I talk about exactly this.

 

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Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams: Images — April 21, 2019

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams: Images

believe-in-yourself-images

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams: Graphics

Following on from my recent posts, which feature inspirational writing quotes, and quotes specific to poetry, this post will contain a selection of images for my central message: Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Please also see my related post, discussing the importance of this message, and my How To Believe post.

Keep believing, always.

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believe-self

believe-dreams

believe-in-yourself-and-your-dreams

believing-dreams

believe-eternal

believe-in-you

believe-in-yourself

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believe-your-dreams

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Stay inspired.

 

Many more Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams – and other – images can be seen, on a regular basis, on my social media accounts. Follow me on: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

I also have a Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams blog, exclusively for sharing these images, which I encourage you to visit.

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams images on You Tube

 

Inspirational Quotes About Poetry — April 17, 2019

Inspirational Quotes About Poetry

poet-quotation

If you’re looking for quotes about poetry, this post is a good place to start.

I recently made a post, to which I shall continue to add, in which I shared some of my favourite writing quotes.

However, I felt that this post could potentially become very long and confusing.

So, I’m experimenting here with the idea of being more specific in a post, about which particular type of writing quotes. This should make it easier for visitors to find the precise quotes to meet their needs.

For even more writing quotes, follow me on: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

My posts, How To Write Poetry and The Relevance of Modern Poetry, might be of interest.

“Poetry is my deepest health.” – Sylvia Plath

poetry-health

poetry-deep-health

“Poems are moments’ monuments.” – Sylvia Plath

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poems-monuments

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” – Carl Sandburg

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“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” – Paul Valery

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“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.” – Emily Dickinson

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“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found words.” – Robert Frost

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“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” – T. S. Eliot

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“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” – Rita Dove

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“I would define, in brief, the poetry of words, as the rhythmical creation of beauty.” – Edgar Allan Poe

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“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” – W. H. Auden

a-poet-is-auden

 

If you enjoyed, and felt inspired by, these quotes about poetry, and are a fan of Pinterest, I encourage you to Pin any of these quote images.

Alternatively, I would appreciate shares on any of your favourite social media sites. It really does help me out. Thank you.

Inspirational Quotes for Writers — April 10, 2019

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

inspiration-writers

Searching for inspirational and motivational quotes for writers?

If you’re a writer, hoping to find positive quotes, then this post is for you. These are some of my personal favourites.

I have to start with the central message of the Paula Writes blog, and associated social media accounts: Believe in yourself and your dreams.

Believe in yourself and your dreams.

believe-self

View more Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams images on a specific post, dedicated to these.

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem

writing-is-the-only-thing

“What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about.” – Julie Wright

what-does-not-kill-write

“A writer is simply a photographer of thoughts.” – Brandon A. Trean

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“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” – Gustave Flaubert

art-writing

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your own stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

you-own-your-story

“I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” – Sylvia Plath

i-write-only

“Poetry is my deepest health.” – Sylvia Plath

poetry-health

“Poems are moments’ monuments.” – Sylvia Plath

poems-moments

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

creative-self-doubt

“You must stay drunk on writing, so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury

drunk-writing-reality

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

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“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

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“When writing a novel, a writer should create living people: people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” – Ernest Hemingway

create-people

“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” – Octavia E. Butler

every-story

 

Keep believing, always.

For many more inspirational quotes and words of wisdom, follow me on: Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

What is Literary Fiction? — March 27, 2019

What is Literary Fiction?

define-literary-fiction

Let’s begin with what Literary Fiction is not: Genre fiction.

Genre fiction includes, for example: Romance, Crime, Thriller, Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. There will be many subgenres within any particular genre.

Some authors of genre fiction have a very specific niche, and stay within this, whilst others move around within different subgenres, or even genres.

Particular novels may blend two or more genres, with varying degrees of success.

Genre novels adhere, at least to some extent, to conventions and formulas. There will be strong reader expectations, such as the crime being solved, by the detective in a Murder Mystery, and a happy ending in a Romance.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that genre writing is not high quality, or lacking originality. The standard of genre fiction varies widely, and it’s a misconception that genre is automatically inferior to Literary Fiction.

Equally, it’s wrong to assume that Literary Fiction is merely pretentious, and not as genuinely enjoyable to read as genre fiction.

Identifying a Literary novel in a bookstore or library should be relatively straightforward, aside from the section in which you discover the book.

In precisely the same way that a genre and subgenre can usually be established, at a glance: The cover.

Book cover trends vary over time but, whatever the current design trends might be, the tendency is for covers to Do What It Says On The Tin.

It’s how marketing works, and the most immediate way to communicate instantly to potential readers, whether your story is likely to appeal to them.

One vital aspect of Literary Fiction is the tendency to address deeper themes.

It’s true that there is genre fiction out there that also does this, but with Literary Fiction, there’s more focus upon this.

Without the restriction of having to stay within genre rules and guidelines, there is greater opportunity to explore the themes thoroughly – and, often, although not always, at a slower, more reflective pace.

The boundaries are set by the writer, and not the market.

Literary fiction can be successful, and make money, but the tendency is for it to be less popular and commercial than genre fiction.

That’s a major down side. It’s more challenging to market a work of fiction that is less conventional, and doesn’t tick any of the standard boxes.

Character development can be emphasized – something that particularly appeals to me, personally.

I believe characters to be the heart of great fiction.

The quality of prose will be of a high standard.

This is probably one of the few definite requirements.

It often does mean a poetic style, although not necessarily. The style may be more precise than poetic. And we’re not talking purple prose, either – but genuinely fine writing.

For an example of what I would consider to be quality poetic prose, refer to “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath.

Literary fiction is often experimental.

It sometimes has a lack of plot, in the ordinary sense, although not always. Some genre novels have almost a literary feel to them, and are on the borderline.

Some would define Literary Fiction as effectively its own genre.

This makes sense, in some respects.

 

But, however Literary Fiction is or isn’t defined, it does have immense value.

Whilst not “better” than genre fiction, it can often unique perspectives, that simply wouldn’t be possible within the confines of a standard genre.

 

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How and Where to Find Blog Post Ideas — March 20, 2019

How and Where to Find Blog Post Ideas

blog-post-inspiration-ideas

Most bloggers, on occasions, struggle to find inspiration and ideas for posts.

It definitely helps to keep some sort of list, of potential future ideas. Most of us are guilty of trying to hold various thoughts and ideas in our memories, but this isn’t always reliable, so it’s advisable to have a back-up, of some sort.

Of course, lists are all very well, but we do need to generate the ideas, to begin with.

Some do occur to us naturally, but we can’t depend upon this, if we hope to produce regular content.

It’s also very hit or miss, in terms of how great the resulting ideas will be. They will tend to be somewhat random, which may work out well – but not necessarily.

Creative inspiration can be wonderful, but sometimes leads us to write posts that don’t actually serve our target audiences. Posts, in fact, that very few people may end up reading and appreciating – which is hardly an ideal situation.

So, if we can’t rely upon pure inspiration, how should we come up with post ideas instead?

Here are a few suggestions.

Google, Bing, and other search engines.

During the process of keyword research, I tend to naturally find many ideas for possible future posts.

If you’re not doing keyword research, or don’t have a clue what I’m even talking about, read my post on the basics of blog SEO. It contains important information, that you definitely need, as a blogger.

Reddit.

I haven’t yet figured out how to most effectively use Reddit to generate serious traffic, although I’m aware that this is possible, and many content creators are using the platform with amazing results.

But Reddit is great, for other reasons. It’s basically a huge forum, divided into infinite smaller forums, or Subreddits, as they are known.

Find Subreddits relating to your niche, and browse through the questions that are being asked. Some of these will provide you with instant blog post ideas – and ones that you already know are likely to be of interest.

Pinterest group boards are another excellent place to discover potential blog topics.

If you actively use Pinterest, you’re probably already on at least some group boards. If not, I would suggest that you join some, as they can significantly increase traffic to your blog.

It’s best to join niche specific boards – and, the very fact that these boards relate to your particular niche, means that they are highly likely to give you ideas, when you notice what other group members are Pinning.

It isn’t necessarily ideal, in every instance, to directly copy a blog post idea. Often, putting your own twist on the original idea will prove beneficial.

Pinterest, more generally, can help, but group boards in particular.

You Tube is another excellent source of blog post ideas.

For Author Bloggers, such as myself, there’s a vibrant AuthorTube community. But, whatever you blog about, there’s probably some sort of You Tube equivalent.

Of course, other blogs can also inspire you, and social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter.

And also Facebook – most particularly, if you join groups, relating to your areas of interest.

Facebook groups can be effective in a very similar way to Reddit, given that both are communities, in which questions are regularly asked and answered.

Of course, there are many more ways in which to generate blog post ideas.

Real life sources, such as talking to others, and reading books and magazines, should not be overlooked.

And, as for the internet – well, it’s a vast resource. The possibilities are endless.

Mindmaps, it’s worth noting, can be extremely useful, both to come up with, and organise, ideas and thoughts.

 

Hopefully you will find a few ways that work for you, and help you to find awesome ideas for future blog posts. At that point, the hardest part will be deciding where to start, and which posts to write first.

 

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