The Ericksons

Creating a realistic setting

Creating a realistic setting doesn’t happen automatically when you write a story. Yet it’s one of the essential components to draw readers into your story so they can walk among the characters. Today I’ll share some ways you can simplify building this imaginary world and make it more real for your readers.Composite Method of Creating a Realistic SettingSometimes to get the perfect setting you need to combine aspects from different places you know or imagine. For example in a fictional town I created, I based the one in Litchfield, Minnesota, the town where my mom’s side of the family lives. I visited Litchfield frequently growing up. Each summer I looked forward to tromping through the town with my little sister, sitting in the band shell and even going to the town’s small history museum. However, that museum wasn’t the one on which I based the museum in my fictional town. That museum was the Homesteader Museum in Powell, Wyoming. And while different, I got the idea for the diner in my story, from Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minnesota.Creating a composite isn’t only done in literary art. Any creative endeavor can utilize composites. A couple of years ago I was Read more…


character's appearance

Think about the last book you read that had great characters. How were the characters described? Did the author go into great detail about each character’s appearance, or did they write more of a character sketch, allowing the reader to fill in the details?The best characters are usually approached the second way. It seems contrary to our instinct as writers, to be vague in describing things like a character’s appearance, but it’s actually the better approach. There are a few reasons for this.Describing a character’s appearance stops the story.Rather than moving the story forward, everything comes to a screeching halt as you describe the color of your character’s hair and eyes, their height and build and even the clothing they are wearing. Often, a character’s appearance has little or nothing to do with the outcome of a story. It’s fluff.Describing a character’s appearance inhibits the reader’s imagination.The natural product of reading is imagination. Your reader’s mind will begin to construct images of your story’s setting and characters as soon as they have the tiniest bit material.  Unfortunately, as writers, we have the ability to shatter those images if rather than allowing our characters to come to life within our readers’ Read more…


Using Character Templates

I recently began reading a book that I put down after 3 short chapters. I wanted to read it. The premise was good, but some of the basic elements that make a story good were all wrong. Those elements all had to do with characterization. Writing characters well is essential to making a fiction book work. Characters are who we relate to in a story, who we love, and who we despise. There are right ways and wrong ways to write characters. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share how to get characters right—or at least, how to not get them wrong. I will begin with the use of character templates.Character TemplatesWhen people create their character, they often begin with forms known as character templates. If you’re a writer interested in craft, you have likely seen these online. You’ve probably downloaded them, and maybe you’ve even used them. There is nothing inherently wrong with these templates. In fact, they can be quite helpful as you explore who your character is. Unfortunately, too many authors use them incorrectly. They end up sounding more like an application for an online dating service, than aspects of a deep character.“Blond hair, blue Read more…


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I’m going to explore self-publishing with print-on-demand, as I answer the #IWSG question for September –What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?When I first decided to write my book, Facing Cancer as a Friend, I felt as though I was looking at a timer, counting down the amount of time I had to get a platform set up and some words on the page. It was a midlife realignment of my goals. I had always wanted to be a writer, but I let life get in the way and stopped writing for a long time.Print-on-Demand Services changed all thatSelf-publishing prior to print-on-demand was often called vanity publishing, and with good reason. Prior to this evolution in the publishing industry, writers would pay publishers to print a certain number of books. Most often the author was stuck with hundreds of unsold copies by the end of their lifetime.  It was an unappealing notion. Print-on-demand potentially meant that the only thing you risked Read more…


My crabby neighbor

Karen Hume of the fantastic blog, Profound Journey, posted 25 Totally Terrifying Meaning of Life Questions Worth Asking Yourself. I bookmarked them and intend to answer one every so often. For me, it really is terrifying. Even though I share a lot of my life on my other site, Facing Cancer with Grace, there’s also a lot I keep to myself. In an effort to be brave and transparent I am going to share a childhood memory of my crabby neighbor as I answer question # 7:When was the first time you were afraid? (Question from Natalie Goldberg).When I was about 5 years old…I lived in St. Paul. We had an alley behind our home that was perfect for riding a bike down, as it started on one street which was at a higher elevation than the street it emptied onto.I knew all of our neighbors except for one, the neighbor who lived across the street. But I did know about him—at least I thought I did. I thought he must be mean. He was old (like most of my neighbors). I didn’t see him a lot, and when I did, he appeared to be a very angry man. It Read more…


writer's rut

Sometimes life hands you lemonade right after you’ve brushed your teeth. That’s how the last few weeks have felt for me. Dealing with a medical emergency for one of my children as well as a turn of events in my husband’s cancer, left me little time to write. That happens sometimes, doesn’t it? The problem is that writing is almost as necessary as air for a writer.  How do you get out of a writer’s rut?Getting out of a writer’s rut can be a choreIn physics, there is a principle known as Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia.“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”So here we are in a writer’s rut. We will stay in this rut without being acted upon by some unbalanced force. That requires effort.Be willing to accept less than the bestSometimes as writers, we feel as though we need to create something great with our words or it’s not worth the effort. This can lead to writer’s rut. We sit in front of our Read more…

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