Karl Taylor: Creating Characters

Okay, they say everyone has an opinion. Guess what? So do I! For me, it’s the characters that make the story, not the other way around. Strong, memorable personalities can make the difference between a good story and a great one. You might say, “Yeah? So how do I do that?” Well, I think my strong suit these days is creating characters and I’ll share with you how I go about it. Everybody will probably have their own way of doing this but maybe you’ll see some little thing you haven’t thought of before and you can use for your characters too.

  1.  What kind of character is it? Is it a good guy? Is it a bad guy? Is it a primary or secondary character?

Now, in my experience, this could change as you write your novel. You may fall in love with what you thought was a secondary character and they suddenly get a promotion. Anyway, when I create them, I treat secondary characters a little bit different than the primaries. I’ll get around to that later.

  1.  What does the character look like? Is it tall or short? Is it fat or thin?

Get a clear picture in your mind of exactly what they look like. You need this clear image when you write about them. Their physical build, their expressions, their scars, physical cues that give away their internal emotions, anything that you might notice about a close friend in the real world. You probably won’t give away all of this information to the reader ( I suggest you don’t. Let the reader use their imagination) but I feel it is important for you as the writer.

  1.  What is their personality? What are their physical quirks?

Are they shy? Are they a bully? Are they kind? Are they mean? You need to have all these things figured out before you put them into your writing. All these personal things will play a major part in how they react or their response to whatever situation you put them in.

  1.  What is their history? What was their childhood like? Do they have brothers or sisters? Are they married? Do they have children? What kind of jobs have they had in the past and what job do they have now? What is their name?

I go deeper into their backstory for the primary characters than I do the secondary characters. There is less need to put that much effort into a secondary character. The backstory gives more depth to a primary character and should be referred to at least a couple of times during the story. Think about talking to your friends. Sooner or later, they will refer to something about their family or something in their past or something about a job they had/have in any conversation that lasts more than a few minutes. We want to create characters that will feel as real to readers as any of their real life friends do.

  1.  Where were they raised? Are they highly educated?

The dialogue of your characters needs to sound realistic and where your character was raised will play a major part in that. I’m not suggesting that you, who were raised in the city poke fun at the country folk, but it is very true that a country boy or girl will talk differently than someone raised in a big city. The most important thing is to have consistency in their dialogue. You don’t want them talking like a hillbilly in chapter one and sound like an English professor in chapter three (unless there is a reason for them to do so).

Now that you have all this figured out for each character, you need somewhere to keep this information safe so you can refer back to it. I create a separate computer file to contain all this info in one handy reference. You may not see the need for this but I think it is very important, especially for your secondary characters who don’t appear regularly. You might have a character that appears in the first paragraph of page one but doesn’t appear again until the final paragraph of the final page, maybe page 365, and you may not remember that he spoke with a lisp on page one but it is important to be consistent in even these minor details,

If anything new comes up during your work about the character, (maybe he takes an arrow to the knee and he walks with a limp now) it is important to add this new characteristic or information to your bio that you’ve written on them. This is even more important if the setting of your work is to involve a series of books. Maybe they appear in book one and don’t reappear until book three.

Anyway, I hope that some of my suggestions help you in some small way. If I am missing something obvious, I hope you’ll let me know. All of us learn things every day and hopefully one day we can finish something and re-read it with satisfaction and say, “You know, that wasn’t half bad.” I hope if that day hasn’t come for you yet, that it comes very soon. Happy writing!

 

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Tom Zumwalt: Here We See the Writer in Its Natural Habitat…



Here we see the writer at work. A breakdown of the writing process. Rewind the tape, please:

Arrive home, ready to write.
I’m thirsty, so get water first.
Nope, that’s not what I wanted. Get flavored water. Yes, that’s better.
Cat wants to go outside. Open door. Cat doesn’t want to go outside.
I want something hot to drink. Put tea kettle on.
Cat wants to eat. Other cat wakes up to sounds of other cat eating. Feed other cat.
Now I’m hungry, but I don’t want a full meal. Get low-fat snacks. Hot water’s ready.
Gather snacks, flavored water, and tea. Head downstairs. Turn computer on.
Cat wants to go outside.
Cat doesn’t want to go outside.
Now I have to go to the bathroom.
Those weren’t the snacks I wanted. Go upstairs to get other snacks.

Want coffee instead of tea.
Fix coffee.
Cat wants to eat.
Feed cat.
Cat doesn’t want to eat.
Come back downstairs. Forgot napkin.
Nails need trimming. Can’t type with long nails. Hunt for nail clipper. Trim nails.
Need handkerchief. Find handkerchief.
Need writing music. Find appropriate music.
Start writing.
Time for bed.
 
Keep writing, friends.
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Stuff I Write — Welcome to a place of writing. I hope this will be an interactive blog, where all of us who write, want to write, or have ever thought about writing, can share ideas. Enjoy.

Dan Ellis Crime Fiction: Why Your Character Might Commit a Crime – What Can Social Science Tell Us?

“He was slouched in a worn armchair positioned in the centre of a cluttered dingy living room. The amber streetlight permeated through the yellowed net curtains. The flicker of the TV screen gently illuminated his motionless face. A burnt out cigarette was wedged between his bloody fingers, and his other hand gripped an empty bottle of scotch. For hours he hadn’t moved, contemplating what he had just done.”

If you write crime fiction, there is no doubt you’ve had a character in a similar scenario to this. They have just committed a crime, attacked someone, killed someone perhaps? The reasons why they may have done this are probably tied into specific events in the character’s life or their personality. Or maybe the plot is to blame – the treacherous conditions you have forced them to go through?

But if you are looking to base the characters’ actions in reality. To create a set of circumstances that are believable and grounded in widely accepted theory, social science can help. I want to take you through some basic criminological and sociological explanations (without the jargon!) of conditions that may push your character to do the dirty deed. Just some questions to think about when you are planning a story or building a character.

What sort of person is most, or least likely to murder someone? What sort of background or upbringing makes the ideal recipe for a criminal? Or what in particular about a society creates the ideal environment for criminality?

Are we in control of our actions?

Let’s take the individual. Do you believe that we are rational actors that make our own decisions? Or do you believe in the idea that there are bigger forces in play that push us into certain behaviours?

These are good questions to start with when creating a character or setting up the ‘laws’ of your story. Depending on which one you lean towards will result in different characters and suit different plots. For example, a rational actor that consciously makes their own calculated decisions is very different from an actor that is not in control and has been influenced by various factors that ultimately have made them act irrationally.

An area of criminology called cultural criminology suggests that people get a buzz from committing a crime, there is a certain thrill element. So here, the actor is fully aware of what they are doing and they have proactively planned to do it, or even built a sub-culture around it. Good examples here would be joy riding or graffiti.

Graffiti is an interesting one because many graffiti artists don’t consider it to be a crime in the first place. This is something else to think about in your story’s world – what sorts of crimes are taken seriously? If a certain type of crime is not heavily enforced or does not carry a particularly harsh penalty, are people more likely to do it?

What about a serial killer? An obvious type of criminal for a crime story. This generally tends towards psychological explanations, but sociology has something to say too. It has been found that many serial killers or people that have murdered someone have had a traumatic experience of sorts. Perhaps as a child they were abused or witnessed horrific violence.

These are probably the more popularised theories of crime given the amount of movies and books based on killers. But the question here is, are they making rational decisions – or have they been influenced by external factors that have pushed them to commit the crime?

Does our socio-economic background determine our criminality?

This area of social science asks what influence a person’s environment has on their actions. The example of a murderer’s upbringing I mentioned earlier is an example, but it is more than just childhood experience.

Take a thief. They may be choosing to steal or get a thrill out of it, or maybe they have a starving family and have no choice in the matter. But going deeper than this, if they live in a deprived area where the authorities are less present, it’s probably more likely that there will be more theft going on.

Broken Window theory suggests that if a certain type of crime appears in a certain area and is not dealt with, it will become more commonplace. So if a drug dealer starts dispensing on a particular road and is never approached by authorities, it’s likely that more dealers will start operating in that area – this can then affect the residents growing up in that environment – or your character!

They may have had a poor education, in the academic and social sense. In this case they may not have developed appropriate morals, or the line between good and bad is distorted. They may not comprehend or understand the consequences of their actions. In a similar way, they may not have fully developed their social interaction skills. Here, they may become agitated or violent just because they feel they are not understood, or struggle to get their point across to someone in a collected manner.

What sort of society creates criminality?

When you are deciding on the setting of your story, the country will make a big difference in how crime is represented. Crime in Western countries like Britain or USA will be very different to crime in third world countries like Libya or Niger.

Depending on how the fabric of society is weaved will affect how its citizens perceive and react to crime. The government is probably the most influential institution here. Does the government enforce its laws appropriately? Are they locking people up for no good reason or torturing people? All of this will affect each and every citizen. The better the country governs their society and responds to crime; the less likely crime is to occur (well, that’s the theory).

Similarly, how are the countries citizens treated? Are there extreme policies in place that pressurise people’s everyday lives? For example, austerity measures in Britain which make it difficult for people on low income to get by, coupled tensions and conflict between different groups. Or, if the government are seen to exclude a certain group of people in society, like youths, this could encourage disorder such as riots.

Another example of this, and again a very popularised one, is how the criminal justice system works. Is it fair? Is justice delivered? If a murderer is released without charge how might that impact the victims – it could lead to vigilantism. What about prisons, if your story is set in a prison, how are the inmates’ rights upheld? Are they physically abused? All of these factors will all affect how your characters behave in any given situation. So it’s worth checking out government policies or researching where promises haven’t been kept – anything that might push someone into angst and act irrationally.

So I hope that this has helped to get your creative juices flowing! There is definitely a lot to think about in creating a relatable criminal story, but social science has endless amounts of answers that can help add depth to a crime fiction story.

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Dan is the creator of the Facebook group ‘The Crime Writers Den’, aspiring novelist, and social science student. The group has enabled writers to connect with criminal justice professionals, to help with technical questions, and just to chat about crime in a fun and supportive environment.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/631273680370573/?fref=nf

Karl Taylor: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett and the City Watch

Sir Terry Pratchett was undoubtedly my greatest inspiration. He’s not as well known in the US because he is British but the man was a master of his craft. In his lifetime he sold more than eighty five million books in thirty seven languages. He was best known for his Discworld series which included forty one published works. His style was often called parody but I think it was much more than that. His wit and wisdom were unparalleled. His characters had the feeling of being real people. He had a knack for weaving multiple plotlines together seamlessly.  Finally, beneath all the humor and the silly characters, he knew how to tell compelling stories.

For me, the books that highlighted The Watch stood out from all the rest. They combined my favorite two genres, mystery and fantasy. I couldn’t get enough of them. Since it was a series of books, I got to see the characters evolve over time and it felt like I really knew them. They were much more than just characters to me. They became family. “The Watch” grew from a ragtag group of misfits to a large force that struggled to reclaim the streets of Ankh-Morpork. It felt like I was actually there, experiencing those changes myself.

There are many interesting characters that fill out this world. Ankh-Morpork, the city these stories are based in, is a character in itself. Lord Vetinari, the ruler of the city, reminds me in many ways of the vampires in the old black and white movies. Commander Vimes, the primary character, is cynical and jaded but he lives to uphold the law. Sergeant Colon, an old war horse with a military past considers himself the ideal sergeant. He spends the majority of his time avoiding trouble. Corporal Nobby Nobbs, is a man so ugly and small that he has to carry papers that prove he is actually human. The wizards of Unseen University often make appearances as does the head “man” of the library. The Librarian was accidentally transformed into an orangutan and found that he liked it so he refused the wizards when they offered to correct the mistake. His characters feel like real people, having all the character flaws you can imagine and they make his books come alive. The thing is, no matter how oddball the character might be, Pratchett creates characters you can still identify with. I even identify with the orangutan librarian. I hope that someday I can create at least one character like that.

I don’t even remember where I first heard of Terry Pratchett but he changed the way I think about writing. I love the way he intertwines humor even in the most serious situations and I often laugh out loud while reading his works but the biggest thing is that I find it near impossible to put them down. I do my best to emulate him in my own writing. I’ll never be a master of it the way he was but I will never quit trying. It would have been my fondest wish to have met him face to face but I am too late. On March 12, 2015, he passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. It pains me to know that the “City Watch” died with him.

 

Mark Reynolds: The Passing of Prince

The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan raised a few eyebrows. How could a lyricist possibly be worthy of one of the most prestigious awards given in our society? Mark Reynolds discusses the passing of our musical legends and the impact their losses have on us and what they leave behind. Not only their melodies but their words.

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LATE APRIL, 2016–

I’ve never really been much of a Prince fan, but his passing hit me unexpectedly hard, probably because of the immediate outpouring of support and grief that occurred on its heels. I have a few of his songs in my collection, but I wouldn’t–or better, deserve–to call myself a true fan of his, because I haven’t really followed his career.

That being said, this event was enough to inspire me to go home on Friday and write down an observation that occurred to me while on the drive home. Many of my thoughts have been selfish lately, but I’d like to think that this particular one isn’t. Thanks for reading it, if you make it all the way to the end, it’s rather lengthy. But when I’m inspired, I find that I have a lot to say.

LOVE THEM HARD, IDOLS AND FAMILY

I’m a pretty up guy. Those of you who I have friended here and have gotten to know me through my posts or my humble stabs at writing creativity I think can attest to this. However, something very down occurred to me on the way home tonight that I can’t get past. I”m not usually a doomsday monger, and ulitmately, this piece isn’t that, but it is something that I want and need to get off my chest.

The year 2016 has not obviously not been a good year to us when it comes to the artists we adore. The last 32 hours have been a testament to this. Generally, we’ve lost those that we love so deeply over a period of time–Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, to name a few. These passings seems to have been spread failry well away and apart from each other so that we have time to grieve and heal before the next one compels us to begin the process all over again. Time between can soften the hurting blows, although we always know and fear that it’s going to occur somewhere, some time again.

This year so far has been an imploded star, a black hole where nothing escapes, especially if you happen to be a physically or mentally-ailing aging musician. These passings have not been few and far between–they seem to have been many and often. I noticed this trend in the last couple of years, when first it was Gerry Rafferty, then Alvin Lee and Ray Manzarek in the same year. That was bad enough. At least, we had a lull. Now, in the span of just under four months–a shockingly quick period–we’ve lost Paul Kantner, Sir George Martin, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson. And now, sadly, Prince. I’ve never seen such a huge period of global grieving for the world of art and creativity in my life.

While the toll this year seems to be many all at once, that’s truly not what I discovered is troubling me. Relatively speaking, it’s a very small number, considering the hundreds and thousands of artists out there now that we all cherish in our own private, personal way.

Many of them are common to us all; many are some we personally learned about that no one knows about–those are the ones that I’m speaking of. Most of these common loves we have are artists who have been born in the same era and are getting on in years. Fortunately for us, they continue to exist as flesh and bone. But soon for a few, and years to come for many more, they’ll all eventually become only sound and memory. Personally, I’m dreading the days that my own personal heroes will be taken from me–Joni Mitchell, Roy Harper, Gilmour and Waters, Jagger and Richards, Gabriel, Clapton, Paul Simon, Elton John, CSN, and even Y. I’ll have to prepare myself that on those days, my world will progressively become a lesser place. All of these artists that have passed recently are all pretty much from the same era of creative Rock discovery, give or take a few years. And now they’re all gone. Prince, the youngest of the grouping, was only 57. Only 57. These guys aren’t getting any younger, you know.

So I get to the cloud that’s now settled over me, folks, and it’s this–this is not the end of these losses.

It’s only the beginning.

In fact, they’re going to become more and more frequent. Eventually, death will come to your favorite sooner or later.

I think as a species, we’ll need to circle up, join hands, and support each other over and over and over through those times. And I think that’s an awesome occurrence.

So I say that before our precious idols that are still with us–our precious families both blood and spirit that are still with us–let’s dare to love them harder than we ever have before. Let’s appreciate that these artists can take us back to being children again, or to our nervous first kiss, or through the loss of a loved one for which we relied on them to get us through.

I’ve seen an appropriate meme in the last day for which I wish I could credit the writer, because he or she nailed it–“We don’t mourn artists we’ve never met because we knew them. We mourn them because they’ve helped us know ourselves.”

When they die, parts of us die. It’s really that simple.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to die. So if I have anything at all to do with it, they’ll live forever.  Their words – and the words of all lyricists and writers I continue to follow – will inspire me, even in my last breath.

I refuse to let them die on me. They’ll die with me, I’ve decided.

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Mark Reynolds is from a small town in Upstate NY and now lives his life very close to a big city, just outside of Philadelphia, with his wife Jennifer, dog Max, and green-cheek conures, Cleo and Ruby. He knew he wanted to be a writer when he was recognized for contributing an origin story of how the Big Dipper came to be as part of a 4th-grade science project.  He hasn’t stopped reading, writing, or learning since.

His first novel, Chasing The Northern Light, is available as an e-book at Amazon, and in print from TheBookPatch.com. Mark is currently at work on a short story stand-alone piece for that work, a sequel to it, and hopeful to begin screenplay after the New Year.

He can be followed at “Mark My Words, Too – The Official Mark Reynolds author page”, on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Mark-My-Words-Too-The-Mark-Reynolds-Author-Page-143155692767514/?fref=ts

New Radio Interview Page

Check out our Radio Interview Page.

Dr. Paul Reeves, a member of “Writer Unite!” hosts a weekly radio program, “Dr. Paul’s Family Hour.” As an author and musician, Paul Reeves is an avid supporter of the arts and as a former educator is keen on groups that mentor and educate artists. He has helped promote Writers Unite! by discussing the group and also allowing Emma and I to discuss our writing.

Click on Radio Interviews on the menu bar to hear interviews of Emma Hardcastle and Deborah Ratliff.

“Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” airs live each week on WNZK, 690AM, in the Detroit area from 11:00 a.m. – Noon Eastern Time. The show is also live streamed on Tunein.

http://tunein.com/radio/WNZK-690-s21615/

Love to Read in Order to Write

How can someone be a writer if they don’t like to read?

Personally, I don’t think you can be a writer without a love for the written word. To me, it would be like a musician who doesn’t love music, or any other creative-type who doesn’t love what they create themselves.

A writer creates using the written word. And to understand how to do that, you need to study, or in this case, read. And not just in the genre that you love to write in, but across the board. Words have to be a wonder and a revelation to you in addition to making you feel things both good and bad.

So, what do you learn as a reader in order to be a writer?

First, the craft of writing: spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You have to understand basic structure in order to learn how to communicate not only clearly, but effectively. You have to study words and their meanings, and their usage in order to find the best ones to express your thoughts and feelings.

Second, you have to read stories in order to understand how they are told. This would be the mechanics of plot and character development. In order to understand how a story is told with a beginning, a middle, and an end, you need to see it in action. Books are not built like sand castles on the beach, but like houses and buildings. Once you understand working structures then you can build your own as every story has to have a solid foundation.

Third, when you read and are emotionally engaged you’ll see how that was done. For example, when I read ‘The Hunger Games’ about halfway through that book I felt this immense emotional churning inside of me. I was feeling what the main character Katniss was feeling, and I was blown away by how incredible and well-done the writing was to make me feel that way. I was reading the story and not only wanted to know what happened next in terms of the plot, but with the characters, too.

Writers don’t just create words and stories out of thin air. They not only read and study, but they also live. A good writer is an observer of human nature, and they read other observations in order to hone their own observation skills. Because writing is not just about putting words down onto a page: it’s about putting observations and feelings into words. I have been touched and moved and inspired by so many writers over the years that in a way my writing is a way of paying that forward.

My advice here then is this: if you don’t love to read then you need to figure out why and overcome it. Because if you don’t have a love and passion for the written word, you won’t be able to convey that with your own words as love and passion are the heart and soul of good writing.

 

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Creating Your Fantasy World

Not everyone will want to do this, but for those of you who do, I thought I would share my experience with it, with you. I wanted to create a world that would be the home base for all the fantasy stories I had rattling around inside my head.

 I know there are now online websites where you can now go to create a map for your world but when I created my map, home computers were pretty much non-existent and the internet was nothing I’d even dreamed of yet.  Even if I were creating it today, I would probably still start out the same way.

I ordered some hexagonal map paper (roughly 32in X 16in) and created my continents. I made the land masses fill most of the map since the vast majority of my stories would take place on land. I did place create an ocean that surrounded all the land masses and a large bay to provide an obstacle to overcome. I then placed mountain ranges, deserts, jungles, swamps, and plains. I then started placing lakes and a network of rivers.  Lastly, I created islands in the bay and the surrounding ocean. I then looked at maps of earth and the individual continents to compare them to the one I created. I wanted my map to be consistent with earth’s as far as the layout of mountains, deserts, jungles, plains, etc… It was my own creation but it still had to make sense to my future readers. I adjusted the map until I was happy with it and then moved on to the next step.

I took another hexagonal map and copied the outline of my previous map onto it. I think bought some map colors, created a color code for the different terrains and colored in all the different regions. I had just a couple more steps then I could start creating stories from my own world.

My next step was to create a list of the creatures that would inhabit my make-believe world. I was excited about it so I may individual index cards for each creature. I used the traditional fantasy creatures I grew up and created some of my own.  I bought a couple of index card boxes and organized them as intelligent, domestic, sea dwelling, etc… I made a list of all the creatures and then I got another hexagonal map and copied the outline of my world onto this map. I went down the list of my creatures and used this third map to place each of my creatures in its proper terrain, making sure to spread the intelligent creatures out so that each would have its own little nation to populate. I made sure to put the races in proper relation to other races that they have relationships with, good or bad.

Now that my general home world was set up, it was time to get down to writing my first story. I wanted to begin with one of my intelligent races that I created. I chose the Swads as they were one my favorites. The Swads were a peaceful race that lived in the plains, alongside a river. They created cities made of stone and they used canals to move around the city.  They redirected water from the river to fill their canals with gates on either of the city to control the water level. Then I chose another of my races that were warlike and had them invade the Swad territories.

I was all set to go except for one thing. I had no idea how to write. I was twenty years old with a vivid imagination but no writing skills at all. At first, I didn’t let that phase me. I had to use a notebook since computers and word processors were still years away. I got up to about forty-five written pages and made a major mistake. I went back and reread it. I rewrote those same pages so many times I lost count and I was never happy with it. That was a very long time ago but I still have what I’d written. I may go back someday and give it another shot. Who knows? Though I never finished that story, I kept the map and I still use it as the setting for my stories even today, over thirty years later. There’s nothing else I’ve ever had that I got so much use from. If you write fantasy, I would suggest you get a pencil and let your imagination soar.  

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Adam Johnson: My Journey

Hello, it’s wonderful to be meeting you at this point in my journey.

Our aim is to bring people—writers—together, no matter where you are in your journey. With that being said, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Adam Johnson. I’m nearly thirty years old and I have been writing, seriously, for about six years. Since I was a child, I have had an insatiable craving for a great story. Whether it was movies, TV, comic books or novels, I was totally engrossed in them. My love for story has only grown over the years.

A few years after high school, a friend of mine invited me to play Dungeons and Dragons and I was hooked. It was all I could think of for awhile; again, totally engrossed in the story. I was so involved that I decided to write a backstory for my character. I sat down to write without high expectations but, it ended up being over fifteen pages long. Much to my surprise, it was actually pretty good too! From there, it was over! I have been writing ever since.

I was lucky enough to find a tremendous group of writers through Facebook. Joining Writers Unite! was one of the best things that could have happened to me as a writer. I have the opportunity to work with the craft that I love with a great group of people. It has been a gift for me and it’s a gift that we would like to share with everyone.

Welcome to Writers Unite!

 

Deborah Ratliff: The Lonely Writer

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Writing is lonely work. At least, that is the opinion of friends of mine who are not writers. They ask, how can you sit at a computer all day and not talk to anyone? Somehow, telling them, I’m never alone and that I talk to my characters would likely not reassure them being alone is good for me.

The fact is that despite the witty or testy or romantic conversations we have with our creations, writing is lonely work.

My career provided a writing outlet. I wrote research papers, training, operations, and policy manuals, newsletters, and media advertising copy.  While necessary within the scope of my work and writing advertising was challenging, I never felt fulfilled. When time to write presented itself, I took the plunge. I started writing fiction.

As an only child, the solitude of writing was never a concern. What I did discover was that the support provided by co-workers, those who possessed proper grammar, or could help with a word or phrase or paragraph was conspicuously absent. While Google is our friend, spewing out all sorts of information about point of view, world building or when to use ‘who or whom,’ bouncing ideas off of Google is not possible, and Siri quit talking to me.

Writers need human contact. We may sit at our keyboards, fighting aliens for control of the universe, playing detective to catch a serial killer or write about a first kiss while lost in our imaginary worlds, but we need each other. We may have a question about the correct verb tense to use, or how to phrase a sentence or redo a paragraph that is driving us to eat ice cream by the pint.

We need each other.

The question becomes where do you go to find such support?

I first found a local writing group and was quite pleased with the members and the cordial but targeted feedback. However, meeting once a month and an inactive Facebook page didn’t provide the interaction I was hoping to have with other writers. Having listened to the “experts’ who drilled that a writer needs a social platform, I joined Facebook and searched for writing groups.

Still, I was dissatisfied. The groups I joined either devolved into cliques or arguments. Then I was asked to join the Facebook group Writers Unite! and I found a home. A writing group that focused on writing and attempted to keep discourse to a minimum. A haven for writers of all levels of expertise to share their work, gain constructive feedback and learn from each other.

This is what a lonely writer needs. We need to know someone who understands our struggles and is willing to listen to our questions and give their advice. Someone who will read our work and respectfully provide critique. We may have our characters to chat with, but we need each other to complete our goals.

Thanks to all who have joined us, as Writers Unite! on Facebook has grown to a membership rapidly approaching 15,000 in one year. As we expand our outreach to the web with the launch of the “Writers Unite!” blog, we hope you will join us in our goal to learn and improve our writing.

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A community for writers to learn, grow, and connect.