You just read your WIP and discovered that your characters nod like marionettes on every page. When they’re not nodding, they roll their eyes. Oops. Time to slash the Pinocchio strings. Transform your protagonists into believable personalities your readers will learn to love. Or hate. Get in the driver’s seat, relax, and enjoy your journey — with The Writer’s Lexicon as your GPS.
To improve the writing and journey, and also setup our writing GPS, I’ve been joined by the author of ‘The Writer’s Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos’ Kathy Steinemann. Kathy, thanks for joining me today and I’ve very keen to hear about your tips for improving the wonderful world of words so let’s not hesitate and drive straight into the questions. The first thing I’d love to know is what sparked your interest in writing a reference guide for writers?
Over the last few years, I created alternatives for overused words, punctuation, and writing “taboos.” I saved the information in a manual on my computer and developed much of it into blog posts. Several of my followers urged me to publish the posts. I expanded them to produce this book.
What writing were you doing over the last few years that encouraged you to stretch beyond the cliche and learn how to improve your writing?
I write my own short stories and novels.
Okay, so the bulk of the lessons learnt have been while working within fictional realms, but I’m sure that these lessons are still applicable for any type of writing. Out of all of the lessons that you share, what has been the one that you keep circling back to?
Although you’ll encounter a few “rules” in The Writer’s Lexicon, writing is not rules. It is a fusion of emotions, senses, and conflict. Whatever engages your readers should be the rule.
Has achieving reader engagement been the most rewarding aspect that you have found from your writing adventures, or did you find a stronger reward outside of reader engagement?
Yes, the feedback from other writers and their requests for volume II—now in progress.
How is your progress on the second volume going?
It’s about half-finished, with release expected in early 2018.
Good luck with the rest of the progress, and I’m sure other writers are eagarly awaiting new tips to improve the writing. What keeps drawing you back to write?
Besides the financial incentive? Because I enjoy putting my ideas into words and sharing them with others.
What does this process of sharing and documenting ideas look like in a typical writing session?
I try to write every day, but the advantage of being a writer is that I have a flexible routine that allows me to quit for a while if necessary. Music distracts me. I work in a room with a television tuned to comedy channels. Set at low volume, but still loud enough to hear laughter, it helps me focus.
I love that the laughs keep you on track. I really feel that writers should try and embrace those laughs too! Is research a signigant step you take before you embrace the comedy channels?
Yes. Every chapter required dozens of hours of research. My idea book is a combination of sticky notes, text messages to myself, files on my computer/smartphone, and dictated notes.
Goodness that sounds like you have ideas stored in every little phyiscal and digital place that you can. I hope that there’s a good reconolication process to keep track of what note is where. Looking back on all of your self-publishing adventures, is there any key takeaway around this process that you highly recommend authors follow before unleashing their book into the world?
Never publish a book until you have proofread it multiple times. If you produce something riddled with typos, you’ll lose readers. The readers you lose will be unlikely to purchase future books, no matter how perfect they are.
Never underestimate the power of proofreading, it can save your work from failure! To keep this interview from falling into failure, I like to take every author on a fun filled journey of frivolity in our quick fire question round. And our first question for today will be: what is your favourite word?
“Accepted” (in response to a story submitted for publication).
That’s such a lovely response. If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?
Yes. They would collide and create antipasta.
If you’re in a vehicle going the speed of light, what happens when you turn on the headlights?
You catch up with the guy who stole your EmDrive and force antipasta down his throat.
What is your best tip for authors?
Set an attainable goal. When you achieve it, set a new goal.
Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?
Cats prefer antipasta. They developed a tolerance for it and quite enjoy its explosive flavor.
If all of the world is a stage, where does the audience sit?
On the edge of their seats.
Keeping the audience on the edge of their seats is the mark of a true storyteller. What is your favourite Jellybean flavour/ colour?
They seem to have a complexity of taste that surpasses the other jellybean flavours which makes them my favourite too. How are the colours in rainbows made?
A giant spews jelly beans into the air—except for the licorice-flavored ones, which I eat first.
That poor giant, I hope that whatever he has isn’t contagious! But let’s hope that your book is. To end our interview on an infectious note by sharing your favourite line from ‘The Writer’s Lexicon’. What’s your best shot?
Writing is not rules. It is a fusion of emotions, senses, and conflict. Whatever engages your readers should be the rule.
Kathy, thanks for fusing your emotions and senses together, and peppering the mix with a little conflict to great the engaging result of today’s author interview. Thank you for sharing your ideas, and I hope that you can continue to help writers get the best out of their words.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Writer’s Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos ( ASIN: B06XRNB5SC )‘.
Want to find out more about Kathy Steinemann? Connect here!