Writing Active Setting Books 1, 2, and 3 and Writing Active Hooks 1 and 2 – Review

I rate these novels, Three of Five stars!

Considering each book is fairly short and I rate each of them the same, I decided to add all five novels to one review. It was hard to really review these novels after going over Jordan Rosenfeld’s, Make a Scene. I thought, since that novel had pretty much everything, that nothing would compare and happily, I was only half right. Mary Buckham wrote three great books that gave me a lot to think about.

Active Setting Part

Books 1-3: Mary Buckham writes three lovely novels on Writing Active Setting.

The first book consists of Characterization and Sensory Detail by using Active Settings. The novel stretches across a few topics within its pages, it touches on anchoring the reader, using subtext in setting, pacing, revealing character through setting, POV, and Sensory details. I already knew most of what I needed to with these aspects of writing, but I did take a mental note of adding emotion to setting details.

The second book consists of Conflict, Emotion, and Backstory. With emotion, she shows how using concrete descriptions, foreshadowing and reinforcement can aid in showing emotion through setting. With conflict and backstory, she also shows you multiple ways of implementing it within the setting.

The third book follows the same structure as the two before it and consists of Anchoring, Action Sequences, Setting as a Character and other Setting Details. One thing I realized is that many times in my writing, I tend to forget about anchoring the reader in each scene. The third book allowed me to think over this and apply it to my editing process.

Each of these books throws “assignments” at you so you can practice the techniques shown and get used to the ways in which they can be used. So not only do these books tell you how to do things, it helps those learn by DOING rather than SEEING. Although each of these novels did not have much I could take from them, they still helped me rethink a couple of things about writing.

Active Hooks Part

Book 1-2: Mary Buckham works on helping us further understand writing with these next two books. This time, she works on helping us hook our readers with certain scenes and techniques.

The first book of the two discusses the kinds of hooks you can use in your writing and each type of hook shown comes with those gold old “assignments” from Mary again. The kinds of hooks she discusses are Action/Danger hooks, Empowering Emotion hooks, Surprising Situation hooks, Totally Unexpected hooks and Raising A Question hooks. In the end of the first book, you learn the “correct” way to creating and using multiple hooks.

The second book starts off the same as the last, giving you a couple more hooks to learn about and then close to half way, we get to the part you would be waiting for, how and where to place your hooks. Mary goes into a lot of detail with this and now, after learning everything from the other two books, you can finally make use of all the knowledge you’ve learned. She talks about placement in the opening paragraph, in prologues, opening a chapter with a hook, ending a chapter with a hook, opening and ending scenes with a hook and ending the book with a hook.

One thing I often forget to think about is, “Have I hooked my reader? Are they going to keep reading?”. The two books on writing hooks really helped me understand what could help hook a reader into your story.

All in all, Mary’s novels did help me and I am thankful to her for that. But they didn’t give me anywhere near as much help as I was seeking.

Writing Active Setting Books 1, 2, and 3 and Writing Active Hooks 1 and 2 – Review

Make a Scene – Review

I rate this novel, Four of Five stars!

I found this book to be very useful. I was at a stage in my writing where I needed to improve before tackling the next stage of my novel. Make a Scene allowed me to see where a lot of my faults and weaknesses were and showed me how to start working on them. Jordan goes through the process of taking scenes apart and inspecting each element of what makes them work, then she tells us in a way in which we can understand it. She focuses on what works, what does not and how each element of a scene will affect the reader.

Just as the description of the novel states, Jordan takes you through Setting, Plot, Characters, Scene Types, Points of View and much more. Jordan explains to you, many building blocks to creating solid and beautiful scenes through easy to understand terminology and instructions. Included in the chapters within the book, are pieces taken from successful novels and then examined to show you why they work well in certain aspects of scene building.

I learned a lot by taking the information I needed from the pages within. I am sure that the things I learned will help me a great deal. Things such as character development, adding emotion to scenes, including senses to scenes, enhancing the plot, figuring out what types of scenes exist and a few other things will allow my ability to create scenes evolve further as I put the knowledge I learned, to good use. Most of all, when looking through your unpolished manuscript, the instructions within will help you beyond what I can explain.

After reading, you will be looking at things with a more critical eye, with scenes, you will be asking yourself:
Does this scene introduce new plot information? Does it relate to the main plotline? Does it flow from and build upon the last scene? Does it involve, inform, or affect the/a protagonist? Does it allow the reader learn more? Does it move forward in time?

Aside from these questions, with each element of writing a scene, you will have more questions for yourself about what you are writing.

This book is a great resource that will hopefully show you things you didn’t even think about when writing a scene. Whether you are a successful author, an aspiring writer or just a hobbyist, this can definitely help you in learning more when it comes to crafting scenes.

I used this resource to help in my editing stage to teach me about what I am missing, but it could be read at any time in your writing journey. I can say, without a doubt, this is a resource that is worth having, either in EBook or in print.

There were a few formatting errors within it that jumped out at me and the occasional grammatical error, but other than those, I have to say, it is an invaluable piece of writing that will help me in the days to come. Four out of five stars for Jordan Rosenfeld’s, Make a Scene.

Make a Scene – Review

Editing My Short Horror Story

While editing my short horror story for the anthology, I noticed a problem with my writing. A friend helped me see it, but I am happy I figured it out.

I have quite the problem with passive voice and showing vs telling. For instance, after noticing it, I changed this sentence, “Objects from the room were getting hurled at him by forces unknown.”

To this, “Unknown forces hurled children’s toys, books and anything heavily weighted at the monk mercilessly.”

You can see the change in quality, voice, and showing vs telling immediately can you not?

If you are a writer, remember to check your showing vs telling and look at how you are using a passive or active voice. It really makes a story more enjoyable.

Editing My Short Horror Story

Emotions While Writing

In my last post I briefly said that my emotions become too much for me sometimes. And although it never happens in real life situations for me, it does while writing.

In my current novel Shadows of Imeria, I had to write a scene that took me four days to write. Each time I went back to it, my eyes became little waterfalls and I could barely see the screen through my tears or press down the keys to my keyboard with how hard I was sobbing.

A similar time was when I wrote a deadly fight scene with a lot of death and murderous intent. It became too much for my mind to handle. It was as though the murderous intent was being absorbed by me and I couldn’t handle it. I went back the next day and finished that one though as it wasn’t so bad the second time around.

The strong scenes that I write every now and then create really strong emotions within me. Emotions strong enough for me to be unable to handle them for very long. I’ll sit back and watch funny videos, dance around like a fool, sing along with my music or clean my house until I feel like I’m back to my normal self. Sometimes I replace all of those with a nice long sleep.

I am a strange one indeed. But name one writer you personally know that isn’t strange.

Emotions While Writing

Writing Process

I listen to music to assist me with my writing. It allows my mind to focus a little more so long as the music is in a foreign language (usually Russian or Japanese) or there are no lyrics at all. Lyrics will cause my mind to sink into the music rather than the piece I’m writing.

I’ll write until my body literally starts overheating or the emotions become too much. At that point I will watch a TV episode of my choosing or an episode of anime. Yes, I watch anime. After my mind has relaxed, I go back to my writing.

I seem to be able to write for longer periods of time without stopping when I have a glass of whiskey on the rocks to calm my body and mind while I write. But that’s a very rare occasion.

Writing Process

Writing Zone

Quite often I get into what I like to call my ‘writing zone’.

I put on music, place my hands on my keyboard and let my creativity take control. I write, I keep writing and then I look at the time to see that three, four, five or even six hours have passed me by. Usually I won’t eat, drink or even get out of my chair during this amount of time.

But I made the decision to set up four alarms that go off at 12 pm 2 pm 4 pm and 6 pm. These take me out of my writing zone and remind me to actually do something other than write all day.

Now, at four times during each day, I am reminded to (if I haven’t already) eat, drink and exercise. Always remember to be good to your body.

Writing Zone

The Worlds in My Head

Many times in my life, people have told me about how they can get so into a book that they jump into that world while they are reading it.

I will have to admit, I have never been able to actually do this. Instead, I have worlds in my head. I don’t need paper on a page to see the story of a character be told, I live through it whenever I feel like it.

I can view a building in a fantasy world while the characters practice magic and swordplay. I can watch the magical beasts I’ve created while fight for a show of dominance. View the armies of the land decimate each other. And of course, witness the saddest and happiest parts of that world unfold.

So, I may not be able to hallucinate when I read like a lot of readers do. But when I write, or even when I think about the worlds I write about, I am actually there without reading, just with a little bit of focus.

The Worlds in My Head