Interview: Reading habits and the Classics with Bestselling Author KM Weiland

 

 

WELCOME

TO THE

WRITING TRAIN

 

 

 

 

 

Composite image of close up of female blue eye

 

 

 

 

When you read a book, what do your eyes see? What do they perceive?

 

 

 

Writers extend to virtually every corner of the earth; east, west, south, north and arguably are the most fascinating people on the planet. Well if you ask me, they are the most fascinating people on the planet. It’s no great secret that I take great joy in interviewing them. To discover and share in their craft, learn how they tick, or don’t. Fascinating indeed.

I had a crazy thought of interviewing writers from a completely different perspective. Most writers began their journey as readers so why not get a view into this experience?  So here it is, the Forensic Lenses series. An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of your favorite authors.

 

 

 

 

 

FORENSIC LENSES

SERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you–follow the reader?

I do…

Her name is KM Weiland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome Kate!

 

K.M. Weiland is an award-winning, butt-kicking, internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel books. She writes speculative and historical fiction from imaginary lands. Her blog  helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com is regularly ranked in Writer’s Digest top 101 Best Websites For Writers every year, but is #1 in my book. She puts up with writers like me who don’t know grammar yet. Way to go Kate!

 

In the history of the blogosphere, there has never been such a defining moment until today. As a token of our appreciation we bestow upon you, KM Weiland, the ever noble…

 

 

 

 

Seal of Awesomeness

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Gold Vintage Label

 

 

Wear it with dignity and honor.

*applause, standing ovation*

 

 

 

 

Alright, so let’s cut to the chase.

Was reading Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter, the inciting Incident in your path of becoming a writer? You mentioned how this sparked your love of history, laid the groundwork for your book A man called Outlaw, influenced your novel Behold the Dawn and not to mention your desire to write historical fiction.

 

That’s an interesting way to look at it. The Scottish Chiefs was definitely a formative fiction experience for me as a child. But I think it was more of a “feeding” of my love for stories, than it was an inspiration to actually start writing. I didn’t start writing until several years later and certainly not with any intent to actually *be* a writer. I actually really like that I kind of slipped sideways into writing. It was never an ambition. It was more just an out-breathing of myself.

 

But Scottish Chiefs definitely influenced me, on at least a subconscious level, in regards to *what* I would end up writing: medieval-esque epic and heroic tales–what I call “blood and thunder” stories.

Never was my ambition either. Funny how that works huh? So it was more of a feeding your love for stories, great! How reading affects us on a subconscious level and fuels our imaginations is quite a mystery. Perhaps we should we call it, Fuelination? Whatever the term, early reading habits in children serve as the impetus for authorship later in life. Then all it takes is a small spark of inspiration to ignite the flame. BOOM. The passionate flame has been lit, begetting another writer. A particular breed of humanity.

petrol pump nozzle hold by hand with gasoline

 

 

 

How has your reading experience and love for stories evolved from childhood, teenage, to adulthood?

 

I have always loved stories. They have always been my language. But I was a very undisciplined reader as a child and teenager. My parents weren’t readers themselves and weren’t able to guide my reading choices. I read and loved and re-read (and re-read and re-read) a few classics like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Black Stallion. But I also read a lot of highly forgettable children’s novels–and probably every book in the Star Wars Extended Universe that had been published to that point. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I started discovering better quality fiction and disciplining myself to read widely and broadly–especially in the classics. It’s my goal to read all the classics before I die. I’m working my way through the authors alphabetically. So far, I’m up to M.

 

 

I find it interesting, even though your family wasn’t a reading family, you still became a voracious reader and ultimately a writer. I’m wondering if you got your books from the library or bought them on allowance. It sounds like your learned that discipline through reading experience on your own. Versus someone telling you this is good, or that is bad. You had to cultivate it yourself. Which I think had a big role in making you who you are today. You’re probably more keen because of it. 

Woman reading inside a huge book
Reading the classics
How has being a writer affected your reading? Is it a killjoy because you have more of a critical eye? Or does it yield more appreciation for the story? Take us into your realm as a reader.

 

Most of my childhood reading was from the library. My grandparents and aunts bought me a lot of books as well. I tended to reread the books I owned a lot–hence the multiple visits to Anne of Green Gables and Co. As for writing affecting my reading… You hear a lot about authors who find that their own awareness of the principles of writing turns them into hypercritical readers and robs them of the joy of reading. But I’ve never really experienced that. Maybe because I’ve always been hypercritical! :p For me, writing has only enhanced my reading. Instead of *just* reading for pleasure, now I also read with a writer’s eye and get to explore and enjoy the psychology and craft of every new author’s work. It brings a whole new dimension to my appreciation of a good book.

 

I really appreciate this. Having a writer’s eye, exploring and enjoying the craft are all pluses!

 

 

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AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME…

As a reader what are your 3-5 pet peeves and why?

 

 

  1. Flat narrative voices that “tell” instead of “show.”
  2. Self-indulgent authors, who are obviously too in love with their own story worlds and characters to be objective about the reader experience.
  3. Unnecessary prologues
  4. Repetitious dialogue
  5. Overuse of character names when addressing each other in dialogue

 

It’s good to be aware of these. Thanks!

 

 

 

detective-md

 

 

 

I’ve often heard you say you must read all the Classics before you die. It must be high on the bucket list!  So why this journey through the Classics and what impressions do you have?

 

 

For the purposes of challenging myself to read all the classics, I define a classic as any book published before 1966 with a title or author I recognize. I started the challenge really just as a way to get myself to read the important literature landmarks from history. It’s been an interesting journey–tedious at times, but, overall, definitely worth the effort. I feel like I’ve vastly broadened myself and my understanding of people, the world, and writing. It’s made me read books by authors I never would have touched otherwise–from so many time periods and countries and about so many different topics. I estimate I’m about halfway done (I’ve just reached the “M” authors). I’ve found it incredibly rewarding.

 

 

I’m looking forward to your response when you’re finished as well. I’ve been thinking a lot about the most influential authors of the century. How they left their footprint upon society and the craft of writing. 

 

 

 

 

footprint-md

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every great writer has left their footprints in the craft. We gladly follow in their footsteps. But as we do, we don’t realize we begin to make our own.

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS:  Your mission should you choose to except it, would be to note the changes in the craft while reading the Classics.

 

 

The primary facets of good storytelling have remained the same over time: structure, character, and theme. I would cite two things in particular as the biggest changes over the years:

 

1) The visual style. Television, the movies, and the Internet have made the far corners of the world accessible to everyone. As a result, complex descriptions of foreign places and things are no longer necessary. Writers today need only a few vivid details to bring a scene to life for readers, who can then fill in the blanks for themselves. At the same time, however, due to the overwhelmingly visual nature of entertainment these days, authors also have to be much more evocative in their descriptions. Readers want to see a “movie” in their heads, which is why “showing” (instead of “telling”) has become such a touted technique.

 

2) The pacing is much tighter and faster these days, for the most part. Again, the culture in which we now live is faster-paced and more than a little distracted. Readers today aren’t as patient with long, flowing passages. They want to get to the point.

 

Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing.

 

 

 

Thanks KATE!

 

 

 

 

*Please see KM Weiland‘s Amazon author page and her award winning books!

*For further contact visit kmweiland.com and her award winning blog at helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com or on Twitter @KMWeiland

*Join the 2016 Reading book challenge on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure Novel  One of my favorite reads of 2016!

 

 

 

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Dreamlander  Read the BRAG Medallion winner and NIEA finalist!

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Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success  Don’t miss this award-winning beauty! One of  personal favorites.

 

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Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

An award winning blockbuster and must have writing book! One of  personal favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today a READER, 

tomorrow a LEADER.

-Margaret Fuller

 

 

 

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Never underestimate the power of a good book

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

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Pathology of the Writer: Constipation

Balance concept

THE CONSTIPATED WRITER

 

Writer’s attempt to do the impossible. Delicately perform a balancing act in order to craft a compelling story. We must be acrobats, ninjas, engineers, artists, gourmet chefs and one heck of a seamstress! It’s almost like peeling an onion though. You write and study relentlessly, trying to hone your craft only to find out there’s yet another layer. By then your’re already crying and can’t see straight; blinded by the daunting task of impossibilities. As if someone demanded you rebuild the empire state building one brick at a time…by yourself. Here are some of the toppings that we have to juggle on a daily basis.

  • Characters- protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks, mentors, lovers with all of their complexities and desires.
  • Dialogue- interior monologue, subtext, body language, intonation
  • Settings-  fantasy, historical, urban, cyberpunk 
  • Conflict and Tension- internal, external, story conflict
  • Scenes- structure, actions and reactions
  • Character arc-flat arc, positive arc, negative arc
  • Theme- thematic question
  • Story structure- plot points, actions and reactions
  • Narration and POV
  • Voice and Style

Sounds pretty complicated? Yep. But the more I realize about the writing process on the one hand, the simpler it gets. In fact, you could sum it all up in one measly two syllable word. Which word is it? *drumroll* You guessed it, balance.  I think a well crafted story is ABSOLUTELY, a work of art as it is of balance. I have a health background in physical therapy so I tend to see things through medical lenses.

The Balance Life arrow with beach background

 

Physically speaking there are twelve different interdependent organ systems throughout our body; a trillion cells, working harmoniously to do just ONE THING. Keep us alive? Yes. But more specifically to maintain something called homeostasis. Every organ system although different in function, works towards the same goal. Homeostasis. So what is this homeostasis anyway?  It’s our body’s way of maintaining a dynamic state of equilibrium or balance, in the midst of a changing external environment. When things get out of hand, and trust me they will, bad things will happen. Like, illnesses, sickness, etc these are what we call pathologies in the medical field. Diseases that limit functional ability, progressively deteriorate our brains, and ultimately may lead to death. Exciting eh? Well, writers also have “pathologies” that affect the balance of their writing. Which in turn could make or brake their stories, or even worse, their careers. So I decided to concoct a series dedicated to these type of writing problems, as I experience my own pathology and get rehabilitated by other writers.

THE INFAMOUS INFORMATION DUMP

Since I’ve been studying the craft of writing I’ve heard about the infamous information dump. They’re essentially four kinds of information dumps according to bestselling author and Jedi master KM Weiland over at www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com.

  • The Worldbuilding dump
  • The Backstory dump
  • The Technical dump
  • The Emotional dump

As we’re writing sometimes we tend to go overboard; with our prose, splendid descriptions, or the sheer beauty of our own words but these could be completely unnecessary to the plot or overall story.  It’s just….information just for the sake of informing. But aren’t we supposed to describe things? Show not tell? Deliberately hook our readers into the endless pages of distant realms of fantasy and romance? Yes, and yes. But if it doesn’t advance the plot, it probably doesn’t need to be there. We need to entrust some things to our reader’s imagination then learn how to skillfully use techniques to sprinkle, and not dump, information at the proper time. But this is easier said than done. That’s part of the balancing act as mentioned earlier that we need to learn. The good part is that we can edit and revise these matters out of our manuscript until it’s squeaky clean. Happily our bodies naturally eliminate whatever is unnecessary and tags it as waste. It could be an overabundance of an element or simply a byproduct of metabolism doomed for the toilet bowl. Sounds like editing and revising to me! If we miss this opportunity our WIP (work in progress) will get bloated and weighted down with unnecessary material. Apparently music legend Elvis Presley died of chronic constipation. I had no idea about this. Yikes, I suppose it’s a fine line this whole writing thing.

 

Constipated

 

 

WRITERS, BLOGGERS, CREATIVES WHAT’S YOUR EXPERIENCE? DO YOU INFO DUMP? WHAT’S BEEN YOUR PROCESS? LET’S TALK IN THE COMMENTS!

Additional resources:

5 Ninja Self-Editing Tips to Get You From Rejection to Sale

Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

5 Ways to Trim Your Book’s Word Count, Pt. 1 of 2

5 (More) Ways to Trim Your Book’s Word Count, Pt. 2 of 2

 

 

Physiology of the Writer: Effect of the Impact Character

 

Welcome to another edition of Physiology of the Writer. In this article we’ll be discussing the effectiveness of impact characters within our stories. We can liken these impact characters to something extremely prevalent and essential within our own bodies. What is it you say? A molecular component that holds to key to life itself.

~Behold, the HUMAN ENZYME~

ATP synthase

As I’m learning the elements of story structure, I can’t help but contrast it with the anatomy and physiology of our own human body. Enzymes are the invisible superheros of human life. I’ll give you an idea just how important these little workhorses are. Without them human life would not be exist! Our bodies would not be able to sustain the slow rate of reactions or even make life possible on the molecular or cellular level. ENZYMES ARE AWESOME LITTLE SPEED DEMONS. They’re capable of catalyzing millions of reactions per minute. They really hit the gas pedal!

speed meter

 

ENZYME QUICK FACTS:

  • Enzymes are special agent 007 biological catalysts.
  • Increase the rate of reactions that make human life possible.
  • Can catalyze millions of reactions per minute effecting the metabolism of cells for optimal function. 
  • There are approximately 75,000 enzymes within the human body.
  • There are three main types of enzymes: Metabolic, Digestive and Food.
  • Your story desperately needs an “enzyme” an impact character to speed up, or cause the change in your protagonist.

Great, we got that down. So what exactly is an impact character anyway? Well, we pretty much know the protagonist desperately wants something. That something faces major opposition otherwise the story would flatline and bored readers would die a painful death. But this opposition represents his outer conflict related to the antagonist or antagonistic forces. We all love a good old fashioned antagonist right? But if our characters are well crafted, they’ll also have an inner conflict that’ll resonate more profoundly with readers on a deeper level. If we balance the ingredients of inner and outer conflict we’ll make any story into a delicious page turner.

When there’s an ardent desire or want + hardy opposition  x (an inner resistance to change) + impact character =  PLOT -> a blockbuster page turner story

Are we always accepting to change with open arms? Definitely not. Neither should our protagonists. People are dead set in their ways fighting change unto the death if need be. Most of us if we’re honest are as stubborn as the hills. Just imagine your character in his or her own situation.

 

I don't want to listen anymore

 

Our own experience tells us that basic human nature is stubborn and utterly resistant to the slightest possible change. As they say, “Old habits die hard”.  This is especially true when writing a positive change arc. We tend to cling to characters in whom we see a gradual but distinct change. In the books we love, we’re taken along an elaborate journey of 300-400 pages in which we witness a fundamental change worthy of our tears, cheers, hope and laughter. But what or who, brings about this change? You guessed it. The enzymes. The impact character. The impact character is there along the story at critical times that help or even oppose the protagonist to change his ways. Something has to happen to him/her that impacts their life in such a way that changes them on a cellular level. This is the function of the impact character in your story. They are the “enzyme” that will cause your protagonist to undergo an inner conflict of what he or she believes to be true, thus shaking up their world for the better. Hopefully.

Speed Boost Words Road Increased Performance Fast Travel

 

 

Give your story a boost by crafting an impact character within your protagonists character arc and see what happens!  For further information on the subject please click the following The Impact Character: Why Every Character Arc Needs One. Without an “enzyme” in your story, there won’t be enough essential ingredients to sustain your novel the vibrant life that it needs.

Until we meet again!

Happy writing!

Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s got your Eye in 2016?

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What’s got your eye in 2016? I hope it’s a good book!

Come challenge yourself, by joining the 2016 100 book reading challenge hosted by bestselling author K.M Weiland. 

For further details please see The Reading Challenge.  And stayed tuned for rewards and prizes!

You can also see what I’ll be reading by navigating to my Readers Hit List page.

Respectively yours
Benjamin

K.M. Weiland’s Reading Challenge: Read 100 Books in 2016

 

Challenge yourself
Challenge yourself

It’s official.  The 100 book reading challenge for 2016 folks.  You gamed?  What do you say? You in?  I’m in like flynn baby.

These days there are so many things competing for our eyeballs.  Your superfreak android phone.  The ever seductive iPhone 6.  The Ipad sucking the life juice out of your retinas.  Laptops galore.  Tablets.  Sports.  Netflix, hulu, Sling, Amazon video, Youtube, video games, and television.  When does it ever end?

The world wants your eyes
The world wants your eyes

We are now living in the digital age like it or not.  The age of information is right at your fingertips.  Literally.  Mobile devices have become the new “crack” of the century.  We’re so addicted to it and we don’t even realize it.  Sad thing about it is, we only have one set of eyes.  They can only be in one place at a time.  Sometimes I wish I had an extra set,  but I guess two will have to do.

 

We can only see one thing at a time...
We can only see one thing at a time…

What about reading?  What ever happened to books?  Do kids read anymore?  Never underestimate the power of a good book, is what I always say.  Kids need to read. Constantly.  It’ll build their literary brains and develop their capacity as a human being.  I did not grow up reading books.  Unless you include the Incredible Hulk.  Even that was sparingly.

Best selling author K.M. Weiland has initiated an awesome challenge.  Read 100 books in a year.  Can you do it?  But a better a question is will you do it.  Even incite others to join the challenge.  To challenge themselves.  If you’d like to participate or would like more information follow the link below:

K.M. Weiland’s Reading Challenge: READ 100 books in 2016

Or follow @KMWeiland on twitter for further instruction.

Are you gamed?  I’ve already got my list compiled and ready to do some serious #eyeguzzling in 2016!  You can take a peek at what I’m reading here:  My Readers Hit List for 2016.

 

 

-Benjamin