Chirp and Chatter Pages

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Writing Tips: June Foster

June Foster
June Foster, Author

As an English student in college and later an ESL teacher, I thought I had a handle on the use of the written word. Grammar, check. Sentence structure, no problem. Vocabulary, always improving. But writing fiction? I knew nothing about the "rules." I've learned a lot in the six years I've been writing inspirational fiction. I'd love to share. Shh, don't tell, but these are my weaknesses I still struggle with on occasion.

Since I'm a female, I've had to learn how men think in order to write from my hero's point of view. Most men are happy to tell you how they'd react given a certain situation. My husband is a great help. I asked him to envision that he and his girlfriend had an argument and broke up. (Before he married me, of course!) How would he react or what would he do? He said he'd go to the gym and work out or get angry. Totally opposite of the way I'd respond—having a good cry. Another step I took was to go online and read articles on the subject then apply these ways of thinking to my hero's struggles. For example, I learned that men think behind every conversation is a problem to solve. Women see it as an opportunity to share feelings. A woman might notice the color of a man's shirt, but a man will notice how tight a woman's skirt fits. Women stand in close proximity and maintain eye contact while communicating where men hold their distance and rarely establish eye contact. These are only a fraction of the differences.

Delivering the action in a story. When I first started writing, I thought I had to describe every move my characters made. Ryan held the car door open for Sandy. After she swung her legs into the front passenger seat, he closed the door and ambled around the front of the car to the other side. Opening the driver's door, he sat down in the seat and pulled his keys out of his pocket. The car key fit perfectly into the ignition and when he turned it, the motor rumbled to a start. You get the idea. My wonderful critique partners pointed out that the reader can and does "fill in the blanks" for the action you leave out. Describing every detail makes for tedious reading and a distraction for your reader.

Since I was an elementary teacher for many years, I find the need to explain and explain again. I have a tendency to infer something and in the next paragraph reiterate the same thing only in different words. I've learned to give the reader credit to "get it" the first time.

Villains. Sometimes I see life as either all black or all white. I tend to create bad guys with no redeeming qualities. The reader doesn't want to read about a character who's completely evil. And in real life, everyone has both negative and positive traits. So I've figured out how to make my villains somewhat likeable even though most of the time they misbehave.

Lastly I like to give my polished chapters a final check-up. I look for: 1. content. Does every paragraph move the story forward? 2. Is sentence structure varied and are action beats used wisely? 3. Do a find/replace and check for pet words such as that, just, still, back, and an over abundance of pronouns. 4. Run a spelling/grammar check, and 5. Read final chapters aloud. You'd be amazed at the flaws you'll find.

And most important, have your story proofread by a good freelance editor and frequently read the work of established authors.

About What God Knew:

Cover - 16Neonatal specialist Dr. Michael Clark is passionate about saving the lives of premature babies. But the pediatrics department at El Camino General can't provide the care many of his preemies require. Now he wants to build a specialty hospital where he can better care for his young patients.

Tammy Crawford is an accomplished geriatrics RN who wants nothing to do with her sister Joella's religious beliefs. She's independent and doesn't need anyone, including God in pursuing a new job as a nurse practitioner.
When she falls in love with the intriguing Michael Clark, she must reconsider her resolve to devote herself completely to her career and not be distracted by a romantic relationship. Now the obstacles are insurmountable. She's in love with a man from another culture and a different race.

Michael acknowledges his growing affection for the beautiful nurse yet can't ignore his brother's deep racial prejudices.

Can two people who are as different as night and day find a life together?

About June Foster:

An award-winning author, June Foster's novels include Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, Deliver Us, Hometown Fourth of July, Ryan's Father, Red and the Wolf, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew and Misty Hollow. Find June online at


  1. Welcome to Chirp & Chatter, June! I enjoyed your post, and loved the tips - simply delivered and easy to understand. Learning how men think is important for a female author. I'm not sure I've grasped it properly, but I keep trying... :)

  2. Delia, before I ever started writing, I actually believed men thought the same way as I did. I was in for a surprise. Thank you for having me on your blog.