The Written Word, The Writer, and Morality

Sam Harris, philosopher, neuroscientist, writer and author writes, “Human well-being is not a random phenomenon. It depends on many factors – ranging from genetics and neurobiology to sociology and economics. But, clearly, there are scientific truths to be known about how we can flourish in this world. Wherever we can have an impact on the well-being of others, questions of morality apply.”

     I believe that Morality is complicated. Morality is subjective. Morality is ethics. Morality is judgment. Morality is not universal. Morality is societal, Morality is personal.  As writers, we often write about heroics, doing-the-right-thing, righting wrongs, standing up to injustice, caring for others, human rights as moral convictions, judging as a moral imperative, life-saving as a moral imperative, killing evil-doers as a moral imperative.

    What I do know is that morality is in the eye of the beholder’s belief systems. Writers, whether consciously or unconsciously, liberally sow the seeds of morality reflecting their visions of the world at large. Writers often change concepts of morality by storytelling. Writers suggest ways of behaving by allowing the protagonist to behave in a moral or immoral sense of their own belief system, that either promotes heroic actions, self-sacrifices, doing good needs or “its every man for himself.”

  I wonder, do writers have the moral obligation, as Sam Harris states, “Wherever we can have an impact on the well-being of others, questions of morality apply.”  Yes, morality is complicated.

 

Great Reviews for Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book 1 by Charles F. French

Charles F. French, author of Maledicus, reviews, an excellent read.

charles french words reading and writing

wp-1476386546701-maledicus112“Maledicus is sure to be a literary horror classic. I was amazed to find that this story was not at all what I thought it would be. In this telling of good vs. evil, of bravery and self-sacrifice, we see a portrayal of the most constant of human struggles that death often defies through sheer force of will and therein lies the deeper meaning that brought this novel to life by the author, Charles F. French. Concurrently with the demonic theme is a well-thought out philosophical approach to horror, wrapped in an evocative story that will capture your fear and terrify you. This story is abundant with tantalizing details, unforgettable characters, and words that will not only touch your heart and mind, but also take your breath away. It is a completely riveting story with suspense, mystery, horror, bravery, and a great love that transcends time. You will not be…

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4 Ways to Handle Backstory

This is great! Thank you for posting, Writer’s Path! https://ryanlanz.com/2017/03/27/4-ways-to-handle-backstory/#like-87926

A Writer's Path

Four 4

By Andrea Lundgren

Every story has exposition–details of the character and world that you, as the author, need to pass on to the reader. You’ve spent hours fleshing out the world of your story and learning about your characters, and now you have to find some way of getting this information (or at least the essential part) from your head to the readers’. (This is especially true in science fiction and fantasy, where you need to tell how the world of the story differs from our world.)

So what’s an author to do?

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The 7 Essential Website Elements

Time is always a factor and that goes for readers too. So, make it easy for followers to follow. Here are 7 ways to keep followers following, but the most important thing is to faithfully respond in kind and don’t take anything for granted.

(The following is a post from WordPress forum: Most WordPress themes are free, but you can also buy a premium theme, which will come with better support and forums (meaning you can work out bugs more quickly), more frequent updates and more customization options.) 

1.Make sure your author name stands out or brand: Some authors also add a tagline or description that clearly describes the type of writing they do. For example, novelist CJ Lyons’ is “Thrillers with Heart.”

2.Email newsletter signup: Whether you send it once a year or once a week, start a free email newsletter to stay in touch with readers who visit your site. Mail Chimp is one email newsletter service (free up to 2,000 names) that helps automate the process for you.

3.About or bio page: Some authors put this information right on the home page,  even if you do this, create a separate page with a more detailed bio and a professional author photo.

4.Information about your books, articles or products: You might have a separate page for each book or product, or you might combine everything onto one page. Regardless, don’t skimp on the details, and always include links to where your work can be read or purchased in both print and digital form.

5.Social media icons or badges: Let readers know where else you’re active online.

6.Social proof: If you have notable media coverage, good reviews, positive testimonials or a significant following on a specific platform (e.g., Twitter), let it be known. These are important signals to visitors that you’re worth their time and attention.

7.Straightforward menu or navigation: Don’t be clever with the names of menu items or pages. Label things clearly. Web design studies have shown that visitors’ eyes tend to glaze over if there are more than 5–7 menu items, so be disciplined about how many you decide to include.

***Most people who visit may never pass your way again, and most visits won’t last more than a minute. So, make the tough decisions: If people spend only 10–15 seconds on your site, what should they not leave without knowing? How can you stay connected to readers or fans after they leave? What would you do? If you have an interesting suggestion, please comment – feedback welcomed! My suggestion is to always be Authentic!

Good News: Garrett’s Bones is now Free on Kindle Amazon for 5 days! (review is not required at all, but would be greatly appreciated!)  K. D.

Thank You, Dr. Charles French

This post, by Jennie, at https://jenniefitzkee.com, a teacher for 30 years, and what she does is Educating the Heart so children can learn with heart.

A Teacher's Reflections

I posted on my blog yesterday, “A Gift of Charlotte’s Web.”  As I scrolled down to print a hard copy (yes, I have a hard copy of every blog post- it’s wonderful), I looked at the three suggested readings of similar posts.  One was titled, “Death and Dying and Chapter Reading.”  What? I could not remember the post, as it was quite old.  Well, I read it again, and it was terrific.

Then, I looked at the bottom of the post.  There was only one ‘like’.  One!  That ‘like’ was Charles French.  He has been a follower and supporter of my blog since way-back-when.

I learned everything I needed and wanted to know by following his blog.  I learned how to thank people, how to follow people, and how to reblog.  I learned, and Charles French kept reading and liking my blog posts.  His blog has become a favorite and a gold…

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A Short, Short Story, Fire in the Sky or The Black Bear and Me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It happened in a small farming community in the northwestern part of Connecticut that also included a large forest preserve and a once glacial river, now a bubbling brook, a lake, and a spring-fed pond. The community’s roots began in 1680, as The Salmon Brook Settlement that was also home to Native Americans like the Tunix, the Massaco, and the Mohican.

It was a perfect summer day. The morning was cool and the sky was a brilliant Periwinkle blue. The deep, dense forest was a monolith of wonder for elementary school age kids.  The ancient woods that the Salmon Brook flowed through provided the Native Americans with all kinds of fish, fowl, and river animals, like beavers.

Evidence of their inhabitation lingers still in the form of arrowheads, pathways, in meadows that were once crop producing fields, where they grew tobacco, beans, squash, and corn, as well as middens of shells like clams, mussels  and we often searched these for artifacts.  There were plenty of bones to find too, mostly animal, but sometimes, human bones that would be exposed as they washed up on the rocky river banks.

On this beautiful summer morning, a small band of kids, having traversed deeply into the forest, smelled smoke and considered it might be a fisherman on the river, frying up fish at the nearby lake.  At first, they weren’t considered about the smell  of smoke. The smoke was coming from some distance away.

It happened suddenly, when the leader, looked up and saw fire and one of the other children, yelled out, “FIRE!”  All heads turned to the leader of the group, who stood mesmerized by the yellow-orange fingers of flame surrounding a giant oak tree, that suddenly became  engulfed in flames that nearly reached the sky. The forest fire was closing in around them, silently sneaking up on them, until it roared like a lion.  The fire then leapt among the tree tops, high into the sky, turning the blue sky into a purple twilight, billowing with smoke and fire.

Like deer, caught in the headlights of an on-coming car, they frozen in fear, initially.  Then they ran, following their leader to an old wagon wheel road where giant, thick oaks lined the road, that was little more, now, than a pathway.  They ran and out of the corner of their eyes they watched the fire exploded into the giant oaks behind them. As they ran, animals of all kinds joined in their fierce need to escape the flames that were now, 40, 50, 60, 100 feet in the air and animals ran alongside of the five children.  The leader, shocked  to find a black bear keeping pace at her side, just kept running. Wild Turkeys, Foxes, Porcupines, Skunks, Woodchucks, ran with the humans, side by side on the narrow path, until the path widened as they reached an open field and ahead of them was Canton road and fire trucks with long hoses and a helicopter flew overhead. The parents of the children were kept back by officers and firemen.

The children emerged, blackened with smoke, wild-eyed with fear, and the animals took off in different directions, some crossing the road to the other side were safety could be found, unmindful of the crowd gathered on Canton Road. The children, now at the point of exhaustion, collapsed into their parent’s arms as the firefighters dosed them with cool, clear water.

This was a day the five children would never forget. The one thing I remember clearly, is the black bear running by my side. I remember we looked at each other, the black bear and I—with a look that was full of wonder and hope. I was eleven years old.

The Top 10 Elements of a Book People Want to Read!

By Writer Digest contributor, Helga Schier, PhD, Editor, Guest Column | March 16, 2015

This guest blog is written by Helga Schier, PhD, former Big Five editor and founder of With Pen and Paper, an independent editorial services firm. With over 20 years of experience in the (self-)publishing industry. For more information, visit http://www.withpenandpaper.com

Aim for High Readability

People enjoy books with a high level of readability—books with a captivating story and memorable characters, books we can’t put down, books that stick with us long after we’ve read the last word.

As an independent editor, I’ve come across my fair share of readable books, and all of them are well crafted on three distinct but intricately connected levels.

  • The surface structure of the words on the page, which includes grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • The level of style and voice, which is defined by the choice of words, the sentence rhythm, the use of literary techniques and images, and the tone or approach
  • The content level, where the fictional world comes to life.
  • Highly readable books are polished, refined, sophisticated, and mature on all three levels. To fulfill the potential of your book, develop and sharpen the following top ten elements.
  1. Your Words Are Your tools; Make Sure They Are in Working Order.

Avoid typos, sort out commonly mistaken words such as die/dye or there/their/they’re. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] Watch your grammar—make sure your nouns agree with your verbs and the personal pronouns fit. If a paragraph begins in the past tense, it likely ought to end in the past tense, too. Figure out where those commas go to help your readers make sense of your sentences. Sounds basic? It is. So run that spell-check and get it right.

  1. Check for Inconsistencies.

Writers revise their work constantly. As a result, characters may appear or disappear at random, because chapters were rearranged; subplots remain unresolved, because chapters were cut; and timeline issues may tiptoe in. Looking for inconsistencies and holes in your story is an integral part of polishing your work.

  1. Avoid Overwriting.

Your style or voice should step into the background to serve your story. No need for a clever metaphor in every sentence, or for an adjective before every noun. Avoid complicated sentences if a simple sentence will get your point across. Avoid inflated sentences and unnecessary introductory or summarizing phrases. Don’t be verbose—every sentence has a point; get to it.

  1. Avoid Underwriting.

Allow your language to adapt to its context. Using the same words and/or sentence structures repeatedly makes a novel repetitive and monotonous. If the teenage girl and the CEO of a multibillion dollar company have the same voice, we’ll learn more about the writer than about the characters and their relationships. Avoid clichés and create your own personal images instead. Or use clichés and stereotypes to your advantage—say, to define a character.

  1. Make Sure Your Characters Are More Than a Name.

As a reader, I want to be able to relate to your characters. I don’t have to always like them or agree with their choices, but I want to understand why they say and do whatever it is they say and do. I want to care for them, fear and worry with them. Therefore, your characters need to be recognizable and unique at the same time. They need to be complex rather than cardboard cutouts, and dynamic rather than passive. Even a bad guy deserves a redeeming quality.

  1. Show, Don’t Tell.

“He was anxious.” Or: “She was happy.” Or: “They were angry.” That’s telling. Trouble is, this does not really tell me what I am to imagine. Is he chewing his nails? Is she smiling as she embraces her newborn baby? Are they raising their voices to a level that could be heard down the block? That’s showing, and it conjures up a clear image in your reader’s head. And that’s what you want.

  1. Sharpen that Dialogue…

Dialogue passes on information between characters and to the reader. Dialogue propels the plot forward. And, dialogue reveals the personality of the dialogue partners, as well as their relationship. Avoid repeating small talk, too much clever banter, and uninterrupted speeches. At least two people should exchange information, ask questions, answer them, comment, fight, tease… whatever. The way your characters interact with each other says a whole lot about them and about their relationship.

  1. …And Expose that Subtext.

People don’t necessarily say what they mean or mean what they say. Every conversation has a subtext. Dialogue is not only about what is being said, but also about how the dialogue partners feel about and relate to each other. Do they like each other? Who has the upper hand? Do they trust each other? Show us in their gestures, glances, body language, and behavior while they’re talking. Is anyone leaning in or moving away? Anyone nervously fidgeting with a pen? Anyone looking out the window because he is bored or to the floor because she is ashamed? The narrative must support the dialogue by exposing the underlying tension, conflict, and motivation of your characters.

  1. Drive the Plot Towards Your Reader’s Aha-Moment.

A readable novel provides meaning to the world we live in, which is to say that the succession of events must make sense. Your characters react to these events in ways that are motivated by their psychological disposition. The interplay of events and character behavior moves your plot forward. The writer’s hand should remain invisible. Therefore, prepare your plot twists within the novel before they happen, and give your characters a reason for their behavior. These clues should not be so obvious that we can predict the way your story goes, but in retrospect, once the plot has twisted a certain way, your preparation must become clear. It’s your readers’ aha-moment, if you will.

  1. Build Your World.

Stories don’t happen in a vacuum. Your story could happen in China in the distant past, in present day America, or in the future on a planet you imagined. Your readers need to know how your world compares to theirs. This is world building, which involves establishing a clear timeline, a recognizable locale of your overall story, and, just as importantly, the ambiance of any given scene.

As a writer, you must create a world populated with characters who live their lives before our eyes, and you must do so with words only. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] There is no camera to show us that the police car drives off with lights flashing, no sound to give us the sirens, and no actors to make a comment sound bored or sexy or irritated or funny or scared. Your words and their rhythm build your world and make it turn.

Your words are your tools; make sure they are in working order.