Standing Out in the Crowd

Back in March of this year, I read Author Kelly L. Stone’s post featuring Dianna Love , who is wonderful about helping her fellow writers, and she posed the question:

What makes your writing stand out?

It’s something you need to think about and as I sat there trying to come up with an answer, I realized that while in my heart I know my story is special (and so is yours, trust me), it was far more difficult to put that into words.  Imagine that, a writer at a loss for words!  The interesting thing was that Dianna had posted a question to her fans on her Facebook page in preparation for the blog post asking what they thought made a story different.  Being a huge fan of her work, I threw out my two cents and she used it in the post.  Why was it so easy for me to say, “One of the things that makes a story stand out for me is what characters say to each other” to Dianna in reference to what I think makes hers and other authors’ books I love stand out, but then sit in my chair and feel so blank when it came to my own writing?

I think it’s because when I hear that question, I immediately assume the answer should revolve around the plot.  Well, for me, it’s not likely going to be my external plot, but rather my characters and what they say to and do with each other.  It’s why the story about a rock group I read last year was probably pretty basic but I still remember verbatim a line from a trip the band took to the grocery store with the heroine.  Here’s to hoping my future readers appreciate that part of a story as much as I do because it’s what I’m going to be sharing with them.  The things we say to each other.

Readers-what do you remember about a story, even a year after you’ve read it?

Writers-what do you love about your stories? psst-this is what makes them stand out 😉

20 thoughts on “Standing Out in the Crowd

  1. Carlene, this is a tough question. A really tough question, and I’m really curious to see how other people will answer. What I love most about my latest novel is that I cry every time I read the climax. Every. Single. Time. I cried when I wrote it, and I cry every time I revise it, and I cry every time I proofread it. Now, I’m not saying I effectively convey this emotion to the reader. Maybe I do, and maybe I don’t. Maybe it’s something I have to keep working on. I don’t know. But for me, the emotion is strong and real and true. And that’s what I love most about my stories. That I feel them.

    1. Wow Pintip!
      Emotion is good. That really gets me in the story, too. Will it catch my heart, bring a tear or want to cheer along with the characters?
      I always wonder that too, if I’m bringing emotion across (not just to myself). Was thinking about that the other day during revisions.
      Hugs! 🙂

    2. Good morning, Pintip. I know I said this was an easy question when I posed it to you all but you are right, it’s just not that easy to come out and say, “Hey, I did this really well.” But I think it’s so important to get used to acknowledging what we’re good at. You absolutely should feel good about the emotion in your story and I guarantee you it means you are effectively conveying it to the reader as well. Thank you so much for digging deep and sharing this with us!

  2. Great post, Carlene!
    As a reader and a writer I would have to say the characters. I have to be invested in them before I can enjoy the book. They have to be real and yet just a bit over the edge–yes, the Alpha male and someone who can shake him up a bit.
    As a writer, I’ve been told I have great characters, even in my supporting characters. So again, it’s the characters hands down.

    I would love to see other comments–just to get the feel of what others think. I guess the second most important element for me is the setting. I tend to view what I read/write as in movie terms. Can I visualize the characters and setting?

    Again, what a great topic–made me really think this morning. 🙂

    1. Good Morning, Loni. Thanks! I absolutely agree with you and I’m glad you can stand up and say that you do great characters! Hooray! Yeah, I’ll read just about anything if it’s got someone I care about right from the beginning. Since Dianna Love’s article inspired this post, I’ll go with an example from one of her stories. She has characters who often morph into yellow-eyed, oozing, smelly, horned demons which could be seen as a turn off 😉 but I love them because she is wonderful at showing thier humanity under all that.

      And excellent point about seeing what you read and write in movie terms.

      So glad you liked the post and I knew you’d be up for some early morning thinking…had your vanilla bean latte yet? Silly me, do I really have to ask that? 🙂

  3. Hmmmmm. I love that I give a weather report in the first paragraph of every freaking chapter. Wait, that’s what I HATE about my writing! Ha-ha! 😉

    1. I happen to be a big fan of the weather. 😉 And you, Kerri-Mermaid xoxo

  4. Hi Carlene,

    Ok so to answer your question I don’t really remember much about things that I have read. I actually racked my brain trying to think of something. The only thing I remember is Bella in New Moon and how she felt after losing Edward…..


    1. Hey there, Snobby-Shy, don’t shush me! You’re the one who just admitted you have feelings for Edward and Bella which I LOVE! Wait, are you just softening me up because of this luxurious yacht I built so you can come visit the pond and not have to get your hair wet by swimming here? In all seriousness, I like the way Stephenie Meyer showed us Bella’s feelings when Edward left by leaving those blank pages of months of nothingness. That is something she did really well as a writer and you obviously picked up on as a reader. Double win!
      Love you,
      mean it!

  5. I remember when I first read the book (yes I actually read that one) I didn’t understand the blank pages. But when I saw the movie I totally got it

    Love you bye =)

  6. Carlene,
    I like to feel. Period. Either make me laugh or make me cry, but make me FEEL something. The only books I ever reread are ones that pull at my heart in some way. I’ll skim through favorite parts that I think are funny or sad or just plain witty when I’m in a certain mood. Then for those special books, I just end up rereading the whole thing again. LOL.
    Although plot and conflict and all that jazz is definitely important, it’s the heart of the book that matters to me.

  7. I can’t answer this question as a reader because someone would have me committed – really!
    As a writer, in my own work, I love including unexpected moments of humor (unless, you know, the whole book is supposed to be humorous, and then it’s totally predictable).
    And I do not remember blank pages in New Moon. I’m pretty sure I read that one, though….hmm…. (and I’m sure the blank page were there — just that they didn’t impact me. add “cold-hearted” to “crazy” in my personality description!)

    1. Hi Jen, great to have you! Pond rules clearly state there is to be absolutely no having any of our guests committed while enjoying the cool waters! (Yes, I just made that up to get you to spill the beans…)

      Cold-hearted and crazy has to make for some excellent moments of humor in your writing! That’s very cool. I love a dark story laced with lighter stuff. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  8. Hi Kim,
    I like to feel too! And I love that you skim through to your favorite parts. Yeah, I’ll admit to reading certain sections over and over again 😉 A father/daughter moment during the holidays, a silly scene when I’m taking myself too seriously. The heart of the book is where it’s at.

  9. That is a really tough question Carlene and you are right… I have a hard time examining my own writing and identifying what I’ve done well. With other authors it’s realistic progression to a story, witty dialogue and emotion that stand out for me. I hope that my stories convey those things as well as I would like, but as the writer I already KNOW what it says, and I can see the scene playing out in my head, so I don’t always SEE what the words actually say or know if I’m getting across the same level of funny, witty, emotion… take your pick.

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post. 🙂

    1. Why it was my absolute pleasure, Dana Mermaid, to provide you this thought provoking post! I just think we need to take time out and be able to say, “This is what I really love, like, enjoy about what I do.” Or, “I do this really well.” I believe if witty dialogue and emotion are what you like, then you probably have a natural eye/ear for that in your own writing. Thank you for digging deep and sharing your response with us.

  10. “By the shining big sea water, stood the wrinkled old Nokomis” … I think. Hiawatha was one of the last things my grandpa read to me before he died (when I was 7) 55 yrs ago! He had a way of bringing words to life!

    1. That is beautiful and wonderful, Mom. Thank you so much for sharing. Love you.

  11. Hi Carlene – I didn’t find this until today (been deep in writing cave). Thanks for sharing my thoughts and our Break Into Fiction book. I’m thrilled any time I can help other writers and enjoyed reading all the posts. 🙂

    1. Hi Dianna 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by and saying hello. I have been on a verrryyyy llloooonnnnggg vacation and only found your note today! And thank you for helping us all out. Enjoy the rest of your summer 🙂 PS–Nothing makes a person happier than hearing that their favorite writers are deep in their writing cave–more good stuff for us to read 😉

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