Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Deep Sea Diver

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Occupation thesaurus of a deep sea diver, jobs for characters, writing Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: DEEP SEA DIVER (COMMERCIAL)

Overview: Deep sea diving is the act of descending into water and remaining there for an extended time using a breathing apparatus. This type of diving is done for a variety of reasons: recreation, salvage, industrial work, and research, just to name a few. This entry will focus on commercial diving, specifically offshore diving (as opposed to inland diving). Offshore work is primarily done in the oil and gas sector, where a specially trained diver installs and repairs underwater equipment and piping in deep water. Some of this work may require saturation diving, which requires extended stays in a pressurized environment (usually a hyperbaric chamber on the surface, or an ambient pressure underwater habitat) to allow a diver to remain at lower depths for a greater amount of time. Divers may live in this type of chamber for a month at a time and get to the work site using a diving bell, a pod that maintains pressure. In teams of three, two divers work while a third monitors from inside in case a rescue is required. Ascending to a surface must be done slowly to avoid the bends.

Deeps sea divers will have a variety of tasks that may require special skills. Welding, underwater detonations, construction, installations and pipe-fitting, checking connections and inspections, pigging placement, troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment, overseeing operations such as trenching and pipeline stabilization, search and recovery, and running other specialized equipment all demand specialized knowledge by the diving team.

A diver in this field must be physically and mentally fit as the work is very demanding. It can be dangerous work Most commercial divers are on the younger end of the spectrum.

Necessary Training:

In a perfect world, all divers must have their commercial diving certification. (Some may not, depending on the area of the world they happen to work in, but in North America and many other developed countries, certification is demanded.) A basic, entry-level program may take about 2 months to complete, but more extensive programming will take anywhere from four to twelve months. To earn more advanced certifications a person will have to log hours in the field and on working dives.

Divers must have a strong command of physics, adhere to safety protocols (which include stringent safety drills) and have training in first aid, CPR, and know how to deal with and treat diving injuries and diseases. Offshore divers will also learn technical skills elsewhere that will directly factor into their work (welding, etc.)

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: basic first aid, carpentry, enhanced hearing,  exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, high pain tolerance,  knowledge of explosives, lip-reading, mechanically inclined, multitasking, photographic memory, regeneration, repurposing, strategic thinking, strong breath control, super strength, survival skills, wilderness navigation

Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, adventurous, alert, ambitious, analytical, bold, calm, cautious, centered, cooperative, courageous, disciplined, efficient, focused, independent, industrious,intelligent, observant, persistent, proactive, professional, resourceful, responsible

Sources of Friction: Poorly maintained equipment, budge cutbacks, sharks and other dangers, getting the bends, a malfunction in a decompression chamber, malfunctions with air tanks or diving gear, friction with other divers one is stuck with in a small hyperbaric chamber or habitat, exhaustion, people who don’t follow safety protocols, companies that make demands that require prolonged diving times that are unsafe, industrial accidents, being told of an emergency at home (a child’s car accident, a house fire, a death in the family) but being unable to get home right away because of a saturation environment that requires a more prolonged decompression time, illnesses, heart attacks, claustrophobia

People They Might Interact With: other divers, project managers, ship employees, oil and gas employees, doctors, scientists, engineers

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs

  • Esteem and Recognition: Women are not as common in this industry and so may run into sexual prejudice which could limit their ability to climb the ladder or have their abilities viewed through the same filter as a man’s.
  • Love and Belonging: Divers are often away a month at a time, plus travel and this can put a strain on a relationship.
  • Safety and Security: Many hazards and dangers could be brought into the story to hold your character back from fulfillment: a run-in with a shark that seeds in them a fear of death, a malfunction while diving that brings about deep fears of drowning or claustrophobia that are hard to shake, industrial accidents that could cripple your character, forcing them to mentally and physically push past barriers to continue in this field.

Common Work-Related Settings: beach, fishing boat, fitness center, marina, ocean, equipment room, decompression chamber, underwater settings, ambient pressure underwater habitat, hyperbaric chamber, underwater vehicles, diving bell, oil platform

Twisting the Stereotype: Make your deep sea diver a woman as they are much less common than men, or give your deep sea diver a crippling weakness or secret they must hide, like a fear of sharks, darkness, or even claustrophobia.

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Best of the Best: Free Resources to Power Up Your Writing

Links to some of the very best writing resources available. If you like free help for writers, save this list!

It doesn’t take many visits to see that providing writers with what they need to succeed is pretty serious business around here.

And because the ‘ol pocketbook can be a bit flat this time of year, we wanted to shine a light on some of the great FREE knowledge-building resources we know about.

 

Story Structure Database

Chances are, you’re familiar with Helping Writers Become Authors, run by the brilliant K.M. Weiland. But you may not be aware that she has this amazing database that breaks down the story structure of hundreds of popular movies and books. If you find yourself struggling with 3-act structure and the turning points of a successful story, visit this resource because it will help you grow your knowledge exponentially.

 

A Year of Creative Writing Worksheets

Eva Deverell challenged herself to creating a crazy-huge amount of worksheets on all different sorts of writing topics, and she’s kindly linked to many of them so writers can access them.

Stop by and find what you need, and then give her a big thank you for her generosity!

 

Jami Gold’s Worksheets for Writers

If you like worksheets AND struggle with story structure, you will especially love Jami’s Beat Sheets. She helps you through the turning points and stages that can often trip writers up, and there’s a ton of other terrific advice on this site, too. Definitely make her blog a regular pit stop in 2018.

 

LitCharts

After going on a writing retreat with Margie Lawson, I sort of fell hard-in-love with Rhetorical Devices. (It is amazing how they add sophistication and can deepen the meaning of your writing!) Litcharts is made by the creators of SparkNotes (another excellent site) and it’s filled with examples and descriptions of figures of speech and literary terms. Well worth prowling through.

Take one of your scenes and try inserting an Anaphora, Asyndeton, or play with Parallelism. I bet you’ll like the result!

 

The Writers’ Knowledge Base

This impressive search engine for writers is the brainchild of Mike Fleming and Elizabeth S. Craig and has curated over 40,000 writing articles to date. Searching by topic just got a whole lot easier, so give it a whirl!

 

Reedsy Learning Courses

Reedsy is dedicated to making writers successful, and they have a great collection of free courses to help you do just this. You can not only brush up on your writing craft through a series of free email-delivered mini-courses, you can also learn the ins and outs of design, marketing, publishing, and more!

 

One Stop for Writers Tip Sheets

Originally these tip sheets and checklists were hosted on Pinterest, but they became so insanely popular we moved them to a special page at One Stop for Writers (our other site).

Need help with showing emotion, character motivation, plotting & pacing, body language, or meaningful setting description? You’ll find it here. Or if you want ideas on choosing a character’s secret, need to know how to write Deep POV, or even the best ways to juice up a scene with conflict, we have a checklist for you. Download, print, export, share these sheets. We hope they help!

 

Writers Helping Writers Tools Page

If you are looking for truly unique finds like a Reverse Backstory Tool, a Character Arc Progression Tool, or a Backstory Wound Profile, visit our Tools for Writers page. We specialize in bringing you tools you can’t find anywhere else so we can help you in new ways. Everything is listed as a PDF so you can link-share, pin, or download and print as needed. (You’ll find many marketing handouts and other goodies there, too.)

Our mission is to make 2018 a terrific year for you. Growing your craft is a big part of that. 🙂 

We hope these links lead to some new favorite knowledge-building resources. And please, if you have a particular area of struggle, let us know. We might be able to guide you to a great article or resource!

Angela & Becca

Posted in About Us, One Stop For Writers, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons, Writing Resources | 24 Comments

Three Powerful Techniques To Harness A Reader’s Curiosity

Psychology has spent over a century studying human behavior; our emotions, thoughts, needs and wants, what draws us in and what pushes us away. This means psychology can teach us a lot about our stories, our characters, and how to engage readers. And we can tap into these reams of research and use it to hook our readers.

There’s one powerful motivator that led your reader to your book — curiosity. Human curiosity is so powerful it has us doing completely unproductive things like reading news about people we will never meet, learning topics we will never have use for, or exploring places we will never come back to. Think about it, have you ever got lost, ever tried something just to see what would happen, or did things just for the heck of it? Yep, that was curiosity working its magic.

Curiosity is what captured a reader’s attention when they saw your title, your cover, and then your blurb. Their synapses fired. Their mind wanted to know more, because when we actively pursue new information, we’re rewarded with a flood of pleasure inducing dopamine (just like when we eat, have sex, or snort cocaine). Evolution knew that the drive to find new and novel things helped us not only survive, but thrive, so it wired it into our grey matter. And once that spark has been created and your reader has turned to the first chapter, you need to keep that flame burning. Thankfully, psychology has studied curiosity, and we writers can use what they’ve discovered.

Here are the top three literary devices you can use to capture your readers curiosity:

Questions

Pulling readers into the story, reader curiousity, reader interest, The human drive for question gave us wonders like planes that can carry cars and cameras you can hide in your tie. Our brain doesn’t stop asking questions because it knows that’s how it learns and evolves. This means your book needs to be driven by questions. Questions raise uncertainty. Unknowns. And if there’s an unknown, then humans want to make it known. There will be a big question that will drive your story—such as will Frodo get to Mount Doom and save Middle Earth? But there will also be all the little interesting questions along the way – like did Gandalf really just die? Who was that hot elven-chick that just rescued Strider? What will happen to sad, twisted Golum? Your book will need a variety of whos, whens, whys, and wheres to keep your reader engaged.

Ultimately, there’s one question that every one of these can be classified under. It’s the mother-question that’s drives your reader like astrophysics drove Einstein and dust filled homes drove Hoover. And I propose that every scene in your book needs to have this question define it. I’m suggesting that each chapter needs to finish on this question. I say that your protagonist, and even your secondary characters, need to have this question hanging over them. It’s what will keep your reader turning those pages. Because their mind will be asking the most important question of all—what happens next???

The Element of Surprise

Surprise is a sure fire way to capture a reader’s curiosity.  When presented with anything unexpected our brain lights up and hones in so it can explore and learn. Eyes look for longer, arousal is heightened, attention is focused. Create the element of surprise through the following:

  • Novel characters—interesting people interest us. We don’t expect a villain to be someone we can empathize with, or the shy pen-pusher to be the hero. Quirky people do the unexpected – just think Don Tillman from The Rosie Project. Those are the people characters we want to spend time with.
  • Unusual situations—everyday people thrust into unusual circumstance do unexpected things. These unprecedented or unpredictable situations are the ones our brains know we can gain something from. We didn’t expect a sadist to be someone a naïve, virginal girl would fall in love with, but man, did that concept sell some books!
  • Unexpected ideas—research has shown that babies are particularly interested and focused on exploring those situations where their expectations were contravened. Challenge assumptions, create concepts we hadn’t considered before.
  • Ambiguity – a situation where we can’t decide between different, competing hypotheses or ideas, or where the existing information just isn’t sufficient to draw a solid conclusion will have your reader curious. We all know that feeling when we can’t quite figure out which is the correct answer. Was Darlene’s drive to run away from home because of the guy she met online? Or was it because of the relationship with her father…? How many hours have you poured into a book to get to the answer?

A Gap in Knowledge

reader interestResearch has shown that we find it harder not to listen to someone talking on the phone (so we only hear half of the conversation) than to listen to two people having a face-to-face conversation. Basically because curiosity is a drive for information – the drive to know the answers to all the questions we’ve just discussed. We want to explore. We want to fill in the gaps. That very drive will have your reader turning pages hour after hour. Consider the following:

  • Foreshadowing—yep, plant a seed. Leave clues. Allude to something more complex, more intriguing than the initially suspected. You’re hinting that something is coming.
  • Drip feed important information—we are most engaged when we know there is still more to be learned. If we think we’ve figured it all out, that there’s nothing else worth knowing, our brain moves onto the next novel stimuli, which equates to a reader putting down your book and picking up the remote. Show your reader some valuable information, but also let them know they don’t know it all. They’ll have to keep reading to get all the pieces of the puzzle.

Curiosity is what’s going to keep that magical chemical concoction swimming around your readers’ brains and ultimately keep them reading. Weave the elements that spark curiosity through your book and you’ve given your reader a reason to keep reading. We’ve all been there, it’s 4 am, on a week night, with children that are early risers…knowing we’ve run out of coffee—but we just HAVE to know the answer!

What do you think? Do you see some of these elements in your favourite books? Have you incorporated them into your own stories? I’d love to hear what you think.

Tamar Sloan is a freelance editor, consultant and the author of PsychWriter – a fun, informative hub of information on character development, the science of story and how to engage readers.

Tamar is also an award-winning author of young adult romance, creating stories about finding life and love beyond our comfort zones. You can checkout Tamar’s books on her author website.

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Heads up!

Angela here–I just discovered Tamar released a new book on Jan 1st: Grit for Writers: Why Passion and Perseverance are the Keys to Your Writing Success. (Sounds like a great read to start off 2018, doesn’t it?)

I am a big fan of Tamar’s work so am looking forward to reading this one. I wanted to make sure you know about it too–here’s the link.

Happy writing, all!

 

Posted in Empathy, Reader Interest, Reading, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Happy Holidays from Writers Helping Writers

Hi everyone,

It’s time for us to close down the year with holiday wishes and our thanks for making 2017 a fantastic year. We hope you enjoy this time with family and friends, get some good reading time in, and take a moment to remember what’s important in life. 🙂

Becca and I will be back in 2018, ready to serve up some more great craft help. Until then, here are a few of our GREATEST HITS to keep your brains juiced and ready to go:

5 Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Story

Planning a Novel: Character Arc In A Nutshell

The Efficient Writer: Using Timelines to Organize Story Details

Want to Write Romance? Layer Your Scenes for Success

Struggle With Show, Don’t Tell? Try This Ultimate Description Toolkit

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma

Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character

The Four Types of Personality Flaws

Wishing you all peace! 🙂

~ Angela & Becca

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Critiques 4 U!

You guys! Guess who’s the birthday girl? ANGELA ACKERMAN! Even on her special day, she is a gift to me and to so many of you, I know. So if you see her around social media, please wish her a happy day 🙂

Welp, we’re almost there, folks. Christmas is nearly upon us. Hopefully you’ve scheduled some time in the holiday craziness for family traditions, quiet moments, or whatever makes you happy this time of year. Angela and I will be taking our regular blog break next week, so it’s a good time for me to stock up on reading material. And you know what that means :).

CRITIQUES 4 U!

CONTEST CLOSED

If you’re working on a first page and would like some objective feedback, please leave a comment that includes: 

1) your email address. Some of you have expressed concern about making your email address public; if you’re sure that the email address associated with your WordPress account is correct, you don’t have to include it here. But if you do win and I’m unable to contact you through that email address, I’ll have to choose an alternate winner.

2) your story’s genre (no erotica, please)

Also, please be sure your first page is ready to go so I can critique it before next month’s contest rolls around. If it needs some work and you won’t be able to get it to me right away, I’d like to ask that you plan on entering the next contest, once any necessary tweaking has been taken care of. 🙂

ONLY ENTRIES THAT FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED

Three commenters’ names will be randomly drawn and posted tomorrow. If you win, you can email me your first page and I’ll offer my feedback.

Best of luck!

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So What’s Your Book About?, or, Creating the Perfect Elevator Pitch

jennie-nash

You may think that elevator pitches are only for high-tech startups, job hunters, or Hollywood screenwriters, but being able to succinctly summarize your book in a very short space is a skill that every writer must master. The elevator pitch is a powerful marketing tool that you can put to use when enticing readers, reaching out to potential marketing partners, and when you meet people at a conference who ask, “So what’s your book about?”
Here are six simple steps to help you develop an elevator pitch, as well as some ideas for how to use it:

1. Write down what your book is about in no more than 50 words. Think in terms of character and conflict – the basic elements of story.

Example: It’s a story about a woman who becomes part of the first father–daughter pair in the Senate, except she’s on one side of the aisle and he’s on the other, and they don’t agree on anything.

worldbuilding, elevator pitch, pitching to an agent, writing a summary

2. Add something about the context or the world of the story to ground people in time and space. If there’s a way to talk about your genre in relation to something going on in the news, or with a current hit book or movie, you might consider referring to that.

Example: Set in a post-Trump future when partisan politics has reached its extreme expression, this story is about a woman who becomes part of the first father–daughter pair in the Senate — except she’s on one side of the aisle and he’s on the other, and they don’t agree on anything.

3. Mention the genre so people get a sense whether it’s sci-fi dystopian fantasy, historical romance, or contemporary women’s fiction.

Example: It’s women’s fiction set in a post-Trump future when partisan politics has reached its extreme expression. It’s the story about a woman who becomes part of the first father–daughter pair in the Senate — except she’s on one sideof the aisle and he’s on the other, and they don’t agree on anything.

context, theme, current events, making readers care

4. Add something about why readers might care. Remember that readers come to fiction for a million reasons – for solace, education, entertainment, escape. Give your audience a sense what they will get from your story, not just what happens in it. This is a particularly important tactic when approaching agents. They will be thinking about why readers might buy your book, so they will be thinking about why it matters, why it resonates. Help them see it.

Example: It’s women’s fiction set in a post-Trump future when partisan politics has reached its extreme expression. It’s a story about a woman who becomes part of the first father–daughter pair in the Senate — except she’s on one side of the aisle and he’s on the other, and they don’t agree on anything. It proves that politics is always personal, and offers hope for a future where what happens in Washington is far from business as usual.

5. Make it snappy. Polish your description to a high shine by adding texture, details and rhythm. Allow your unique voice to shine through so that your audience can get a real sense for you and what your book is really about. These words can form the foundation of a query letter.

Example: It’s women’s fiction set in a post-Trump future, where Washington is gridlocked because neither party will budge an inch on anything — from what to serve in the Senate dining room to who will protect the people from agricultural toxins threatening the fertility of an entire generation. The hopes of a nation are resting on the Senate’s first father–daughter duo – but he’s on one side of the aisle and she’s on the other. Politics is about to get very personal.

If you are using your pitch in a Twitter contest, this is the version you would use to whittle it down to 280 characters:

In post-Trump DC, the hopes of a nation slipping towards civil war rest on the first father-daughter Senator pair, but she’s on one side of aisle and he’s on other. When he runs for POTUS and her party asks her to bring him down, politics gets very personal. Women’s Fiction

6. Practice saying it out loud. Remember that when you talk about your book in person, you’re not ever actually giving a pitch or a speech. You’re starting a discussion. You want to entice your listener to respond or react in some way, not make them feel like they are pinned in a corner. Practice saying your book description in different ways, in response to various imaginary conversational prompts, and consider the best places to break or to pause.

Example 1 – Conversation with Another Writer:

Them: “What’s your book about?”

You: It’s women’s fiction set in a post-Trump future, where Washington is gridlocked because neither party will budge an inch on anything — from what to serve in the Senate dining room to who will stop agricultural toxins from threatening the fertility of an entire generation.

Them: [laughs.] Sounds like that’s NON-fiction.

You: I tried to raise the stakes far higher than real life – which has been a bit of a moving target. My main character is the daughter of a long-time conservative Senator who is appointed Senator of the nation’s most liberal state and that’s a reality we haven’t yet seen.

Them: Ohhh that’s good

You: Thank you! What genre are you working in?

Example 2 – Conversation with an Agent in Line at Breakfast:

You: I enjoyed your panel on the pitch process.

Them: Thank you. Are you signed up for the pitch event on Sunday?

You: I am. I didn’t get a slot with you, but I’m working on what you suggested we do in terms of getting to the point right away.

Them: That’s great – let’s hear what you’ve got.

You: Right here?

Them: No time like the present!

You: I’m writing women’s fiction set in a post-Trump future. My main characters is the daughter of a long-time conservative Senator who is appointed Senator of the nation’s most liberal state.

Them: Oh wow, sparks are going to fly!

You: [laughs]. Exactly. I imagined a Washington so gridlocked that neither party will budge an inch on anything — from what to serve in the Senate dining room to who will protect the people from agricultural toxins threatening an entire generation’s fertility. Politics is going to get very personal.

Them: Is the manuscript complete?

You: It is. I’ve been working with a book coach for the last year on a revision. My goal was to have it ready for this conference and I made it!

Them: Here’s my card. Send me a query and your first chapter.

You: Thank you! I appreciate the offer. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Being able to speak clearly about your book will help you be confident when you find yourself face-to-face with a potential reader or agent. Instead of panic, you’ll feel the possibility of being able to invite people into your imaginary world.

jennie-nash_framedJennie has worked in publishing for more than 30 years. She is the author of four novels, three memoirs, and The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat. An instructor at the UCLA Extension Writing Program for 10 years, she is also the founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator, an online program that offers affordable, customized book coaching so you can write your best book. Find out more about Jennie here, visit her blog, discover the resources and coaching available at her Author Accelerator website, and connect online.

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Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Midwife

Before we dive into today’s entry, let me quickly remind everyone that we’re giving away a print copy of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus at Goodreads. Enter by 12/21 to win a free copy!

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Midwife

characterization, building a character, character creation, occupations, writers helping writers thesaurus

Becca with her midwife

Overview: Midwives have been a pillar of women’s health for thousands of years, and while techniques and perceptions have changed, the midwife’s role remains largely the same: providing prenatal medical support, assistance during labor, and care for both the mother and infant in the postnatal period. They also provide advice on family planning, childcare, and health, sexual, and reproductive matters. While midwives typically deliver babies on their own, part of their responsibility is to identify potential complications requiring treatment by other healthcare professionals.

Necessary Training: There are different midwifery certifications that vary from country to country in regard to the necessary levels of training. Some midwives must obtain a higher level of education, such as a graduate or bachelor’s degree, before entering into the clinical phase of training, while others only need to complete certain courses and show competency in specified areas of knowledge and skill. Depending on their certification, midwives can work in the hospital, birthing center, or home settings.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, empathy, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, herbalism, hospitality, multitasking

Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, affectionate, alert, analytical, calm, confident, courteous, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, empathetic, gentle, kind, loyal, meticulous, nurturing, observant, organized, passionate, patient, perceptive, proactive, professional, protective, responsible, supportive

Sources of Friction: Prejudice from other healthcare officials or hospital administrations who harbor misperceptions about midwives and the midwifery career, unforeseen circumstances during a delivery that cause complications, failing a recertification, having to keep up with new certifications and course work, trouble at home fueled by long hours on the job, the death of a baby, being unfairly blamed for something going wrong in the delivery, a patient who doesn’t take one’s advice or care for herself properly, a patient refusing to deviate from her birth plan and putting herself or her baby in danger, overbearing or hysterical relatives, learning about a fellow midwife’s unethical or inept actions (missing something obvious with the patient’s prenatal care, becoming romantically involved with a patient’s partner, etc.), administrators at one’s birthing center who are rude or difficult to work with, multiple patients going into labor at the same time, having to miss an important event because of an unexpected or longer-than-usual labor (a loved one’s wedding, a child’s concert, a family trip, etc.)

People They Might Interact With: pregnant women, women seeking gynecological care, the patient’s family members (partner, parents, children, siblings), other midwives, administrative personnel at a birthing center or hospital, OBGYNs and other doctors, nurses, doulas (birth attendants)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: Outdated perceptions and stereotypes about midwifery still exist in some places. Someone who is accused of quackery or being  “less than” other industry professionals will lack the esteem and recognition that they deserve.
  • Love and Belonging: Midwives are typically passionate about their careers and their patients. Combine this passion with the odd hours and level of responsibility required in this profession, and some midwives could find it difficult to maintain the healthy work/life balance that will keep them in good graces with loved ones.
  • Safety and Security: This need wouldn’t typically be impacted in the midwifery career, but for fictional purposes, certain scenarios could be created that would create a void in this area. For instance, if the patient was secretly carrying the child of a dangerous person (such as a mafia don, unstable stalker, or powerful politician), agreeing to treat her could put the midwife in danger as well.
  • Physiological Needs: Again, extraordinary circumstances can be fabricated to put a midwife’s very life at risk. The Biblical story of Moses is one example where the midwives were commanded, on threat of their own lives, to put to death any male infants born to the Hebrew women.

Common Work-Related Settings: herbalist’s shop (speculative), hospital (interior), hospital room, living room, medieval village (speculative), nursery

Twisting the Stereotype: 

  • Midwives are, almost without exception, female. How about a man working in this field?
  • The stereotypical midwife is nurturing, caring, and empathetic. But like other healthcare professionals, a midwife can be good at the clinical part of her job while having a terrible bedside manner. Consider giving your midwife unusual traits for someone in this career, such as addictive, fanatical, inflexible, or timid.

 

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The Different Kinds of Editing: A Breakdown (with Examples)

All writers need an editor. Stephen King needs one. JK Rowling needs one. You and me? We DEFINITELY need one. But this is where it gets confusing…because there are many types of editors. How do we know what we need?

Well, Jennie Nash, super smart woman that she is, had a smashing idea: to show what the different types of editing looks like on the page. Please read on!

editor, editing, writing coach

Talk to almost any happily published writer about their editor, and you will likely hear gushing praise. Recent Newbery award winner Kelly Barnhill, for example, has this to say about working with her editor: “I changed lots of things and rewrote lots of things and the story I wrote became the story it could be, and that has made all the difference.”

Barnhill is speaking here about an editor employed by her publishing house, whose job it is to make each manuscript the best it can be. Having these kinds of professionals pay close attention to your work is indeed one of the great pleasures of the writing life, but unless you land a publishing deal, you will not have access to them. That means that anyone self- publishing, using a hybrid publishing option, or trying to break into traditional publishing will have to navigate the universe of editors on their own.

There are so many different kinds of editors offering different services to writers at different stages of the process that it’s hard to know what they each do and whether or not you need what they do. I’m going to break it down for you.

Let’s start with a simple creative act. Here are some lines I made up in order to illustrate the different kinds of editing:

 

“Hey jill do you want to hve lunch” ?

“Sorry I’m busy.

Proofreader/Copyeditor

 A good proofreader is essential to a good book. They will fix typos and grammatical errors, standardize the presentation of things such as names and numbers (often according to a “style” such as AP Style or the Chicago Manual of Style) and make sure you are using the language clearly and correctly. Even though I am introducing it first, a proofreader is usually the last person to suggest changes on a manuscript before it goes into production; they review the pages or “proofs” for mistakes and typos. When an author is responding to a proofreader’s comments, there is usually not a lot of time or tolerance to make changes in the text. The only goal is to correct errors and clarify meaning.

Proofreading is a very particular and high-level skill. Traditional publishing houses either employ proofreaders or contract out with freelancers to do the work. Writers who are self-publishing must budget for this skilled professional.

Note that the work of a copyeditor is often nearly indistinguishable from the work of a proofreader. According to Wikipedia, copy editing is “the process of reviewing and correcting written material to improve accuracy, readability, and fitness for its purpose, and to ensure that it is free of error, omission, inconsistency, and repetition.” There is a great deal of overlap between this kind editing and proofreading. It would be unusual for a writer to have both a copyedit and a proofread of the same manuscript.

Example lines, again:

“Hey jill do you want to hve lunch” ?

“Sorry I’m busy.

Result:

 

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Line Editor

A line editor will concern herself more with the content on the page and the writing itself – word choice as a stylistic concern rather than a technical concern. This kind of editor will point out places where you are using clichés, where the pacing slows, where the meaning is obscured, or there is a problem with logic or consistency.

The kind of editing that most editors at publishing houses perform is line editing. In the self-publishing world, this would be the kind of edit typically offered by a hybrid publisher.

The key thing to know is that line editors generally work on a line-by-line basis. They assume that the big picture elements of the work are in place and will probably not question the narrative design or structure of the work. The time for a line editor is when you believe your manuscript is solid and whole.

Result:

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 Developmental Editor

 A developmental editor is thinking on a bigger scale than the line or paragraph. She is thinking about the impact of the story on the reader, the logic of it, the interior lives of the characters, the world of the story, the demands of the genre, and the flow of the argument (in non-fiction) – among other things. This is big picture editing, big idea editing. You might sometimes hear people use the phrases “structural editing” or “substantive editing” in place of developmental editing – but it’s the same thing.

In most cases, a developmental editor is going to do one round of edits on the pages, all at one time. They read the full manuscript, make their comments and suggestions, and send it back to the writer for revision. The writer makes the changes they wish to make, and the result is a revised manuscript that is ready for a line editor or a copyeditor/proofreader.

A good developmental editor will understand the genre conventions and will be up to date on industry standards on word-count. She will also likely have her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in terms of what is selling well, which markets might be saturated, etc.

The time to bring in a developmental editor is when you are ready to take your book from good to great. This usually happens before you are at the publication stage; it’s when you want to invest in writing the best book you can in order to land an agent or begin production on a self-published book.

Result: 

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 Book Coach

 A book coach does exactly what a developmental editor does, but with two important additions: the coach is guiding the work and the project forward in real time as it is being written, and she is supporting the writer from not just an editorial standpoint but a project management and emotional standpoint, as well. You get editorial feedback plus deadlines (i.e.) accountability and support on the journey. There tends to be a lot of back-and-forth between a writer and a book coach, and often a coach will ask to see a revision of a scene or a chapter before the writer writes forward, thus keeping the project on track.

In this instance, when a book coach saw the revised lines, above, she might have gone back to the writer a second time with directives something like this:

Example lines:

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Each time the book coach saw the revision, she would comment on the changes. This is a powerful step for many writers – the teaching, the reflecting back to the writer as they write forward, the strengthening of skills. Based on the feedback, more revision is required.

Second Revision: 

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The time to bring in a book coach is either at the start of the project when you desire guidance all the way through, when you are stuck and can’t get to a finished draft on your own, or when you want professional support for a revision.

For more information on book coaching, Read my blog post series: What Does a Book Coach Actually DO? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5| Part 6

For more information on when and why to hire an editor, see this post from Jane Friedman.

Jennie Nash has worked in publishing for more than 30 years. She is the author of four novels, three memoirs, and The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat. She has been an instructor at the UCLA Extension Writing Program for 10 years and is the founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator, an online program that offers affordable, customized book coaching so you can write your best book.

 

Posted in Editing Tips, Focus, Guest Post, Revision and Editing, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 8 Comments

Episodic vs. Epic: Go Bigger with Your Writing

jami-goldOne of the most common reasons given by authors for why they write is a desire to create something meaningful for their readers, something that will stick with them or make a difference. One thing that helps our stories feel meaningful is avoiding episodic writing.

What Is Episodic Writing?

To understand the term episodic, remember what most TV series were like in years past: Each episode was a standalone story, which didn’t affect later episodes. If the main character narrowly escaped death in one episode, the next episode wouldn’t mention the traumatic events at all.

In other words, what happened in an episode didn’t matter in the long term.

Now when agents, editors, or readers say a story feels episodic, they usually mean:

  • The story doesn’t flow: Rather than A causing B, A happens and then Q happens. Twists and surprises are good, but nothing should feel random.
  • Story events lack consequences: An event’s fallout “sells” the stakes. If characters don’t experience consequences, why should readers care?
  • The character’s arc feels weak: Like real life, characters often struggle to change, but events must build on each other to show their growth.

Is Episodic Writing “Bad”?

Episodic writing can work for us. For example, flash fiction and short stories sometimes use a “slice of life” or “vignette” style.

Shorter writing doesn’t need to show growth or consequences over time because the story’s scope simply isn’t that big. However, bigger stories need events to affect the rest of the story in a cause-and-effect chain.

Consequences (good or bad) create a sense of risk—will X happen? That risk creates emotions—tension, anticipation, dread—in readers. Those emotions then pull readers from one scene to another, as they read on to see what happens.

Without consequences, a story’s risks, stakes, tension, pacing, emotional response, and character growth are all weakened.

How Can We Tell If Our Writing Is Episodic?

The creators of South Park came up with an easy test for episodic writing, called the “But” and “Therefore” rule…

episodic writing

Bad: “And Then” Transitions

When we’re describing our story, we might use the phrase “And Then.” A happened and then B happened.

However, “And Then” creates an episodic feel because it doesn’t tie A and B together:

  • She fell asleep, and then the blimp blew up.

Wait… What does A have to do with B?

Good: “Therefore” or “But” Transitions

With a stronger story, we can link our plot events with the phrase “Therefore/So” or “But”:

  • If one plot event causes another (or causes a decision or response), they’re connected with “Therefore” or a “So.”
  • If one plot event causes a setback (impeding goals or actions and causing conflict), they’re connected with “But.”

For example, instead of our clunky sentence above, we could say:

  • She fell asleep, therefore she wasn’t manning the controls and the blimp blew up.
  • She fell asleep, but the blimp blew up over her house and woke her.

Either of those transitions reveals how A and B are connected. We see the cause-and-effect chain. If our events and scenes are connected by a “therefore” or “but,” we’ve probably avoided most weaknesses of episodic writing.

How Can We Fix Episodic Writing?

If we find a lot of “and then” transitions, with scenes that don’t tie into other events, we can…:

A rare “and then” (or a jump to another plotline with a “meanwhile”) transition isn’t “bad,” but each one risks breaking our readers’ immersion in our story, leading them to put down the book, so we want to be careful.

Pushing Our Writing to “Epic” Level

Non-episodic writing ensures that everything in our story happens for a reason—it was caused by previous events. But we can take this a step further by adding echoes that reverberate with meaning throughout our story:

  • Consequences from events and choices continue affecting the story, not just the immediate following scene. (That is, A affects B, G, and Z, not just B.)
  • Issues, dialogue, and situations use setup and payoff to call back to earlier mentions or foreshadow later mentions.
  • Ideas, character growth, stakes, and situations are revisited and layered throughout a story, growing and changing each time.

Whatever kind of scene or event we need, if we choose details or descriptions that echo something else in the story, we give the events a stronger purpose and meaning. Echoes add a weightiness that creates a greater sense of meaning for our story—like it’s more than the sum of its parts—pushing it that much closer to EPIC.

Do you have any questions about episodic writing?
jami-picture-200-x-300_framed

After muttering writing advice in tongues, Jami decided to put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fueled by chocolate, she creates writing resources and writes award-winning paranormal romance stories where normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Find out more about Jami here, hang out with her on social media, or visit her website and Goodreads profile.
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Posted in Conflict, Experiments, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 21 Comments

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Librarian

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

occupation thesaurus, character jonbs, librarianEnter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Librarian

Overview: Today’s modern librarian is highly-educated, passionate about technology, and an expert at connecting people with relevant information.  They are unafraid of technological advances, are adaptable, and what seems like a love of books on the surface is actually a thirst for knowledge. They are well-organized, good with people, enjoy being facilitators of education and can manage tight budgets, resources, and staff.

Necessary Training: Most librarians must obtain a degree in library science, often a master’s. If they work in a facility which is specialized, they often will have a special focus or additional accreditation in that area (such as a law librarian). However, a librarian in a small town or school may not have the same education, say, as a librarian at a reference library tasked with curating specialized academic research. Schooling may be obtained in person (attending a campus), or mostly through online college programs (virtual learning).

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, good listening skills, hospitality, mechanically inclined, multitasking, photographic memory, reading people, strategic thinking, writing

Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, alert, ambitious, analytical, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, curious, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, efficient, focused, friendly, hospitable, imaginative, independent, industrious, intelligent, nurturing, observant, organized, passionate, patient, pensive, perceptive, persuasive, protective, resourceful, responsible, socially aware, studious, thrifty, wise

Sources of Friction: Patrons who are disruptive, people who are careless with books, tight budgets, having to let someone go because of a conflict or budget need, working with uppity authors or experts who are holding events in the library, book theft, people writing in books, damage to property or resources (books, the copy machine, carving into tables, etc.), having patrons fight over popular books, late fees that are difficult to collect

People They Might Interact With: other librarians, interns, volunteers, teachers, students, parents, patrons, book groups, authors, handymen, computer techs, booksellers, delivery people, professors

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization:  Characters who greatly prize knowledge would be drawn to this position, so any threat to the librarian’s ability  to access information could cause them stress and grief. Living during a time when propaganda caused poisoned viewpoints and led to book burning or censorship would be very difficult, for example, because it not only restricts access to unbiased information, it also disrespects books by presenting biased, incorrect information as fact.
  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who loves books may view her library as an extension of herself (or himself). If this was the case and budgets cut running costs to the bone, the character may become desperate to do something that will allow a ramshackle library to regain glory days, bringing back that lost pride.
  • Love and Belonging: A character who views their library as home will be devastated if cutback cause their job to be eliminated or force the library to close. The character would be desperate to do whatever it took to turn things around to retain employment and keep the doors open.

Common Work-Related Settings: the stacks, storage rooms, a lamination or printing room, a staff break room, bathrooms, reading corners, special sections and restricted-access rooms for special editions

Twisting the Stereotype:

Most librarians are women, so flip the script to a male.

The “dowdy and strict” matronly librarian is played out, so make your librarian young and enthusiastic. And don’t forget, he or she is in a job where they deal with the public and love being facilitators of knowledge. The stuffy, angry librarian who hates everyone under 50 is not a logical choice for this profession, anyway.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments