A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Friday, December 20, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is practically here! I hope your season has been at least as merry and bright as mine, so far. I’m still rejoicing over the release of Dronefall Three, which is now available in paperback as well. Doesn’t look like I’ll be having a white Christmas this year, but I suppose you can win them all, now, can you?

I’ve had a great year here on Stardrift Nights. I’ve broken my record for amount of posts in a year since I started. And I did my first ever series Writing for Christ. I hope to become even more active here come 2020. Watch me break the record again! 

I published three books this year. First my poetry collection Songs from the Small Hours, then Dronefall Two, Lightwaste, and finally Dronefall Three, Rainchill. I can see from my now slightly depressing post at the beginning of the year that I actually intended to finish the Dronefall series in 2019. Oops. But I’m actually glad I’m still working on it. And in January, I thought it was going to be a quintet. Ha! Now there are three more books on the horizon instead of two. And I’m happy about that.

 I didn’t quite make my ambitious reading goals, either, but I did get some good reading done this year. I checked off some of those classics I’ve been wanting to get to for a long time: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Ann Frank, The Great Gatsby…. I also tried some popular YA in the form of the very hyped Hunger Games Trilogy. (Yeah, I actually hadn’t read it until this year.) That wasn’t too bad. I should do a post reviewing that trilogy in the future. 

My favorite fiction of the year was definitely The Hound of the Baskervilles, by A. Conan Doyle. My favorite non-fiction…Creating Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland was great. I also really enjoyed Rocket Men by Craig Nelson which I read in honor of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary this summer. 

The thing to remember when looking back on your New Years goals and resolutions is that priorities change over time…sometimes over a very short time, but certainly over the course of a year. I’m actually pretty pleased with how 2019 turned out. And I’m very excited to see what 2020 has in store.

So, have a ridiculously merry Christmas. Stare at your tree while drinking some peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream as well as marshmallows. Go ahead and get that present you know they’ll be crazy about, even if it’s a little over the top. This is Christmas we’re talking here. Put up all the lights you can get your hands on—if half of them still work, you can still use it. Blast Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or whatever your preference may be and have some fun, because God sent his Son to restore joy to the world. Pass it on.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Rainchill Is Available on Kindle!

News at last! Today I got the email I’ve been anticipating literally since Spring—the email telling me Dronefall Three, Rainchill, is available to the reading public.

Now, it’s still just the ebook right now, the paperback will be fast on its heels. But for those of you who can’t wait you can go get the eBook right now. It’s 99c. And guess what? So are the first two books, so no matter what level you’ve attained in your Dronefall readership adventure, you have no reason not to jump in now and take advantage of the excitement. 

Guys, you have no idea how excited I am to be releasing Rainchill. I completed the first draft last year as my NaNoWriMo project, and I knew, even then that I had something uniquely thrilling to share. I know I keep saying this, but Rainchill is my favorite Dronefall book yet. I’m not saying it has to be yours, but I think you’ll be able to tell I had a great time writing this book, and I hope some of the enjoyment will catch.

Rainchill is a particularly suspenseful addition to the series. The Enclave finds themselves on the trail of their first killer robot—a monstrous mechanical hound with electric jaws. There are some twists and exciting reveals, and all while the tension between the church of 3.5 and the secret criminal underworld that protects them without their knowing continues to grow. I won’t give anything away! Just trust me, this one is worth the first two. When you hit Rainchill, you’re in.

So, run and get it. Give yourself an early Christmas present. Or, cozy up and start the series from book one. You’ll be snowed-in before you know it, and we all know that mean God is telling you to quit stressing and read books.

Get Book One, Dronefall.

Get Dronefall Two, Lightwaste.

GET DRONEFALL THREE, RAINCHILL! (sorry for yelling.)  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Making Scenes Immersive

Good immersive writing is nothing short of pure magic. To be able to conjure up bold tactile images and surround your reader with your story in stereo—that’s what takes good writing to an unforgettable level.

But how do you do it?

Details, Details. I know you get a lot of modern writing gurus warning against too many details. We have a lot of sparse, un-atmospheric, writing out there as a result of people taking them a little too literally. For the most part, you actually do want details in your writing. Details are important for characterization, building a setting, creating suspense, evoking emotions, foreshadowing and hinting, etc. Just be careful with your timing and try to incorporate them into your beats. Don’t be afraid of them. If they really do slow you down your story, you’ll probably be able to tell when you read through it. Only cut what actually needs cut.   

Remember who you are. That is, stay in your chosen point of view character’s mind. Staying focused with your point of view is a major help in keeping your reader in the scene. If you limit yourself to showing the things that your point of view character sees, feels, hears, and thinks, you’ll have a good start to knowing what details will actually help rather than harm the immersive quality of your story.

Keep moving. One thing to be aware of is long exchanges of dialogue without any action beats. I’ve found it’s a good general rule to not let your characters sit around and converse—that is, avoid the Counsel of Elrond. Even if you have a dialogue-based scene, try giving your characters something physical to do, even if it’s just walking down a street. I don’t really know why this works so well, but it does. My dialogue becomes much more natural and interesting if my characters are doing something—anything—besides just talking to each other’s faces.

Stay grounded. Don’t forget your setting at any point. Every scene happens in a very specific physical environment. It’s a certain time of day, in a particular place, with particular lighting and conditions. Keep your characters interacting with it. If it’s a hot day, this will affect what your characters do—how long they can keep running, how many times they pick up their water bottle, probably their tolerance for frustrating tasks. If it’s dark, remember they won’t be able to read subtle facial expressions. (I’ve definitely made this mistake.) These considerations will help your reader remember where they are, and stay there in their minds.

Those are my tips. Writing immersive scenes takes practice, and I’m still learning. But I hope you can improve your own writing by applying some of the tricks I’ve listed here.

Writing Challenge:
Find a scene in your current WIP that feels boring and flat. Take everything out but the basic action and the dialogue and re-write it. If there’s hardly any action, give your readers something to do. You could also experiment placing the same action in a completely different setting. Don’t hold back on details. You can trim them when you’re finished writing the scene. Compare the two scenes. Did it help?