Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life's Writing Lessons by Sarah Bella || 14 DAYS OF "OHS!"

One of the things I love most about being a writer is the writing lessons I learn from life and the writing lessons I can apply to life. I love going to a class, or reading a craft book and figuring out not only where I can apply it to my WIP, but also where I can apply it to real life.

1.  One of the first things I learned when I got a real live beta reader is if your reader doesn't understand what you're trying to get across, the problem lies with what you've written, not with the reader. I find that in life, when someone doesn't understand what I'm saying, the same is true. It's usually because I'm not clear. 
2.  You people watch everywhere you go, sometimes consciously, others not, you notice the woman with the pink hair, the man walking the puppy – but you don't know their names. If you take the time to learn a name, learn a person, it usually means you intend to get to know them, that they're important enough to pay attention to. In writing, your characters will notice other people too. Naming that new person tells your reader to pay attention, that they're important. Drop a story line with a named character and readers will notice, whether you intended the character to be important or not.

3.  I love to listen to people talk - few people speak formally. They use contractions, they drop endings to words – they create new words entirely. Written dialogue is stilted when you write out each contraction, or never use a 'wanna' or a 'gonna'. Obviously different genres have different rules – in historicals, you're going to find more formal dialogue. (There are always a dozen exceptions for every rule.)

4.  In writing we learn that each word has weight. You cut the extraneous ones, tighten every sentence. I carry that with me every day. Each word I say is important. There's no delete button for life ;) (Though, God, some days I wish there was.)

5.  A last life lesson. This is something I've talked about before; take a look at your group of friends. I'm betting you've got a Mike, a Matt, a Susan, or a Liz (or some variation thereof) but I bet you don't have a Zendaya, a Falcon and a Rock. Point being, make sure you don't populate your contemporary romance with futuristic or far out names. Sure you can have unique names – they're more memorable for sure, but if the character names are so incredible the reader can't remember them, you have a problem.

So there's my take on lessons learned. Have any life vs. writing lessons you'd add to me list? Share them in the comments. As a thank you to The Snarkology for hosting me here, I'll pick a winner from the commenters below to receive a $5 gift card to their choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble or my personal favorite, Star Bucks. 

* * * * *

Their love led to two weeks of "Ohs!" Some were good, some were bad, and some were all about the sex.

Three years ago, Grace Stevens packed up, left home and hasn’t looked back since. Now she gives snorkeling tours at an exclusive resort on a private island in the Caribbean, filling her days with fun and sun and her bed with the occasional nameless stranger. 

Logan Shayde could use a healthy dose of losing himself and the Azul Isle is just the place to do it. Grace seems like a nice distraction until, after one explosive argument, she kicks Logan out of her cabana. Logan’s a man who’s used to getting what he wants, and what he wants is Grace. Now he’ll do anything for one more night with her.

Every moment leads to another surprise, to another discovery, to another wonder, to another disappointment, and the most unexpected thing of all: the "Oh!" of two lovers' eyes meeting - and then their bodies.

Author Bio:

Sarah is a small town Minnesota girl who calls pop by its proper name – pop.  She is a multi-published author of romance and erotica who writes both novels and short stories in the romance, mystery/suspense, paranormal and erotica genres.

She loves traveling anywhere south of the equator and finds that a nice dark microbrew can help get the creative juices flowing.  When she’s not writing or traveling, you can find Sarah with her nose buried in a book.

Sarah lives in the small town she grew up in with her husband, three children, her cat and her dog.

Where to find me:


  1. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for being my guest today on the Snarknology. Your article is very insightful. My favorite is easily #4. Nothing bogs down writing my than too many ly-adverbs.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    Interesting list. My life vs. writing lesson is to find the right critique partners because I swear they are the only ones that truly get the thought processes of another author.

    1. Yes, and one must be careful or they wind up with a CP who is a snarky pain-in-the-neck also! :D

  3. Hi Sarah. Great post. My life vs writing lesson is that in life things rarely turn out tidily, but in writing you can't leave loose ends. Don't ever leave the outcome of a plot strand to the reader's imagination (unless of course you're paving the way for a sequel)!

  4. As a short story writer first, I believe "each word has weight" is so important. I live with an unabridged Roget's Thesaurus at my elbow. Excellent post, Sarah!

  5. Whether it's writing, work, or life in general, there's always room for improvement.

  6. Persist. In all thing, including writing, it's so incredible important not to give up, no matter how difficult things get. it often takes years before an author's books become successful. Keep on dreaming :)