Carol Worthey

Lyricism, Drama, Passion and Beauty

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Blueberry Escapades The Meaning of Birds More Grand Than Mountains A Rain of Sundry Thoughts CRUMB
Carol Worthey


"This page contains Carol Worthey's currently available
 published books and articles as well as
 information on upcoming releases!"

Writing Tips

  1. Writers are Observers. Writers learn about life by observing everything around them. Life is their raw material. They listen to the way people talk, whether brazen or soft, tense or relaxed, crude or eloquent, trivial or profound. How people express themselves in words and gestures is always revealing... even of secrets or passions locked within.

    Writers inhale the moods of different environments set against weather, time of day, nature as a delightful or threatening backdrop. These Natural Observers watch the pace of individual and group, of action and decision, sensing the buildup of conflict, hoping to spot those rare moments of revelation that spice up daily life and become heightened incidents in someone's Personal Story.

    Witnessing these interplays, Writers become part of a living drama, observers picking up small details that stretch out into panoramas of irony.

    There are Stories all around us: which story a Writer chooses to tell is both a deeply personal choice and an impelling duty to the world-at-large. That is because a Writer wants to be more than a passive Observer. Writers are Survivors who want to help others survive better. (How do they do this? See Tip Number 2.)

  2. Writers write. They don't give (too many) excuses or put off writing. Many writers have made use of very early morning to write for several hours, then take a break for the rest of the day. Some writers are Night Owls and find their Owlish Wizardry happening best when most people are asleep and the world is quiet. Smart Writers know when to take a break, get some rest, reflect on what will come next in the story, or just live life in all its trivial or telling moments. After some rest, relaxation or reflection, they write.

  3. Writers need Readers. Preferably educated ones to read their writings or to listen while the Writer recites — it may be better to hand the Reader the text to read by themselves, but not always. Write, save the editing for later (unless you can do the creative part and notice right away what needs improvement). But always have a trusted and honest and keenly perceptive Reader read your stuff.

  4. Writers ARE Readers. Extensive and intense Readers. (See Reading Tips.)

  5. Writers are willing to face ALL of life, the good, the bad, the indifferent. Since a writer does best when building Conflict into the story, a Writer has to face the human condition: Death, loss, pain, hatred, jealousy, fury, despair, war, devastation, lies, secrets, group pressure, isolation, and bad decisions, all are fodder for a writer's material. A writer also has to be clever, not be too obvious, not give away the Ending (that's a law to obey), not make it too predictable (the death of many a B-movie).

  6. Writers are usually social creatures who love to get away from writing and clink a beer mug over a cafe table, but they also have a very private side that they cultivate and protect. Observing is a social activity, but writing is a solitary endeavor. Writers need to be alone, hopefully not distracted often, in order to accomplish the action of writing. Writing is a PRIVATE affair.

  7. A wise Writer realizes what methods and writing tools work best most naturally and easily for him or her, what Tools are more user-friendly for their personal thought process. When typewriters came along, most Writers stopped writing longhand in pencil (or pen) on paper... but some still found that crossing out passages and drawing arrows to indicate the best sequence was what clicked with their way of conceiving a story. Today the vast majority of Writers prefer laptops or home computers where they can cut and paste, save, revise, finalize, print out and send to publishers most easily and rapidly. However, some writers still feel more at home handwriting in pencil and paper (with eraser handy). Quite a few writers (especially screenwriters or dramatists) like to create Story-Boards, either with 3 by 5 cards or post-its or even drawings of who, what, where, and when things happen in their story. That way they can move the scenes or dramatic moments around and use the Story-Board to "pitch" their screenplay. Choose your tools.

  8. Need motivation to get you writing? Book signings. They are addictive. Knowing a book signing is in the works can spur you to write diligently. It's so much fun to sign something you have worked so hard on and meet your Public, your Fans... or make new friends!

  9. How many times have you as an aspiring Writer heard it said by bestselling authors or famous authors of the past that " The characters will tell you what they want to do next or what they need to do. When everything is going well during the writing process, the characters will DICTATE the story to you, the Writer." Don't believe it? Author Carol Worthey didn't either, until it happened to her!

  10. How to get characters so real in dramatic circumstances that THEY demand that you follow their orders? Do an extensive Character Description-Lifestyle Portrait of your main characters or even (if you prefer) of all the characters that play some role in moving the drama along. Make them so real that they jump out of the page!

    What kinds of things should you outline in your writeup? Here's a cue from two very different Acting Schools: in traditional British acting technique, one starts from typical or distinctive physical attributes (say a stammer) and works inward to reveal personality, problems and the essence of a person; in Hollywood "method" and Russian schools of acting, one digs deep inside the background and emotional landscape of someone, then builds a series of gestures, postures, facial expressions and voice tones based on the internal elements. Contrast Alec Guinness with Marlon Brando. Oddly enough, both methods are effective.

    So when you build a portrait of your character, you can work from outer or inner views. Outer: describe in detail everything you envision about the way they look and move or talk. Then tunnel deep into their childhood, their moods, their inner world. Or work from the inside out, if you prefer. What was their early home-life like, their schooldays, were they popular or an outsider, do they have a sidekick or an enemy, what are their hobbies, their job history, every single like and dislike you imagine they have. You can go back and forth from outer aspects to inner qualities, and vice-versa: describe the clothes they wear everyday or for a party, their favorite foods, movies and music, do they gossip, are they gentle or pushy, what kinds of tension lurk inside them, is there a failed goal they still harbor today?.... The list should be so detailed (even trivial things will play a part) that the "person" seems to jump off the notebook page into vivid, hologram action and reaction.

    This full-on depiction of the character's world and world-view, of his or her past, present and potential future makes plot development and story sequence fall rather easily into place! When you do this, you have given that character your willing permission to order you around. They WILL tell you what they want to do or what they HAVE to do, where they'll go, what they'll decide. You gave them life, so take their orders! What they demand will surprise you, but your writing will make sense... to a lot of people!

  11. There are so many genres of writing, something for every Reader, something for every Writer. Find the genre (or genres) that come most naturally to you (read a lot in all the different kinds of writing styles and types so you can identify which ones you like best. See Reading tips.) You may be a Natural for spy stories, for fantasy, sci fi or non-fiction, for children's books or historical romance novels, for coming-of-age books, you name it. There are as many Book Genres as there are people out there.

  12. When you notice something you write or say that is worthwhile, do yourself a big favor: SAVE IT so you can find it later. Writers work best if they realize when they've said or written something that rings a bell with others. Is this something wise, witty, hilarious, or just plain beautifully put? Don't just let that moment fly away! Keep a folder or folders (physically in an actual folder or in one's computer files.) An entire book can come to life because one saves some social media posts that got a great response.

    Here's an example of how to save and RETRIEVE a quote or writing that deserves to be in a folder. First type it out in your word processor or hand-write it if that's easiest, then put it (save it) in a folder (either a physical folder or preferably in a computer folder) and name the folder appropriately with a good title so that you know what will be inside. (Example of folder title: Happy Memories. ) That way you can know where to put your saved quote and later on, you will know where to find that quote. This is a life-saver!

    Let's go into this in detail: Here's how to SAVE the quote or writeup so that you can find it when you look inside the well-named folder: When you save it, give it a title that first places the date that this quote was said or that the memory, photo, or whatever occurred. Here's the recommended way: Note the date with the year first (then hyphen), month next (then hyphen), day next (then hyphen), then a short but effective name to label the quote so that it easily sparks your memory. For example, the label (document title) for that saved quote or writeup, might be: 2023-04-28-Ray-gave-me-a-Rose. Save this in the folder Happy Memories and you'll know where it is and how to retrieve it when you need it.

  13. Writers thrive on something mysterious called IRONY. Irony is a subtle thing and not easy to define, but it acts like a hammer-blow when it plays into how the plot moves toward a dramatic or surprising conclusion. There are ironies in anyone's life that drive him or her to turn onto unsuspected paths. In literature and movies, irony is a "prime mover": a person thinks something, says or does something that — if they'd only known — would have steered them in a different direction. Some smidgen of vital information, some action or motive hidden from them (or from someone else) leads to an unfortunate end or perhaps to a happy ending (where the hidden "whatever" is somehow revealed and it feels like serendipity.) That's the subtlety of well-orchestrated Irony. We the Writers, Watchers, Audience, Readers are tingling, just knowing what WE know but that this Character doesn't know. This is the secret of great ancient Greek dramas; it's also the well-timed pause of clever humor. Irony is the bread and butter, maybe even the vitamin-spurt of energy, that fire up the oven to give us sizzling drama! People love irony. More importantly, all of us LIVE some form of irony. If only we knew then what we know today.... Ouch! (It hurts so good.)

  14. Writers get to know themselves BECAUSE they write. It just works that way. If a writer has a blind-spot, tough! That inadequacy, that failure to notice what you hate to write about or don't do well, that blind spot will make Writers revise endlessly, or keep them from producing the book, or stall them from promoting. A writer who intends to penetrate the hearts of readers but who wants to keep his "issues" alive without any "personal growth" involved will not hit the mark. That doesn't mean Writers can't be nutty, they just have to be able to SEE that they are... and in the process of writing, they will change at least some part of their nuttiness. Writing causes growth and improves discipline just by DOING it.

    Want to be a Writer? Go TO it !


© 2023 Carol Worthey