Friday, May 5, 2017

Be Strategic: Select Words Judiciously

"My task, which I am trying to achieve is, 
by the power of the written word, 
to make you hear, to make you feel--
it is, before all, to make you see." -Joseph Conrad

     We all want our readers to submerse themselves in our stories. We want readers to see, hear, taste, and feel along with our characters. Words are the bricks we use to build a place where a reader keeps returning.  
    Sebastyne Young reminds writers "A picture can tell a thousand words, but a few words change a story."  Verbs move a story. We all heard about writing with strong verbs, (instead of 'she laughed,' perhaps she chortled, snickered, snorted, tittered,) or any of the other forty-two other meanings of laughter that could improve your scene. Choose the verb that one would draw your reader into the story and help describe your character?
      Writers must read. Current fiction gives the writer insight into today's style. Some successful writers have a formulaic method. While other prolific writers never repeat the place, time, and characters in future books. Go read.  
      Pawan Mishra advises writers to"tell a story with simpler words.” Writers no longer are paid by the word. Think about your audience. Examine the structure and vocabulary of the books you read. Is your writing clean? 
          Get the words down on paper. Read your work aloud. Check for the following issues:
  • repeated words - look for synonyms or an alternate group of words 
  • clichés - create your own description
  • connotation - consider the emotional and underlying meaning   of the word and how it fits with the story
  • specific words- chose words that paint a picture for the reader
  • simplicity - consider if you want your audience to be checking a dictionary
  • musicality - some this is about pacing and sound, you must read each paragraph aloud to check if you used the correct word. Some software allows you to play back what you wrote.

Writing demands, like all art forms, practice.  

"A writer takes an idea 
 uses exact words and crafts a story." 
Pat W Coffey

For more information click on the following websites:  

"Five Writing Habits to Avoid

"Ten Rules for Writing Fiction"

"Making the Right Word Choice Makes Your Writing Better"

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review - The Ugly Inside

Wow! This is one 'hell of a read.' Chase Raymond's The Ugly Inside introduces Jenica Aimes, a trouble teen. While the reader decides if they can relate to Ms. Aimes, they're blown into an alternate reality known as 'Leigh.' The crafted details, descriptions, and settings of this fantasy engulfs the reader. The craft of this storyteller leaves you wanting to read the next page. Mr. Raymond's writing skill immerses the reader into the story: watching the training sessions, experiencing the healing pools, feeling every blow of combat, and struggling to balance destiny.

CAUTION: This book is addicting.
I can't wait until the next Jenica Aimes book is published.

This book is available online or in paperback on Amazon.comThe Ugly Inside: A Jenica Aimes Novel (less)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Writers $ense - Shop the Competition, Read

"Shop the Competition," is a business term used to describe a method of learning what your rival does better. Reading enables a writer to recognize good and bad writing regardless of the genre he or she chooses to write. 

Good writers broaden their horizons reading. They read everyday and anything they can get their hands on, newspapers, magazines, comic books, classic novels, anything in print or online. Writers plunge themselves in words.

Submerse yourself in Pulitzer Prize, New York Times, National Book Award books. Be bold, if a Nobel Peace Prize Winner for Literature appears in an English translation, read it. Follow the authors your audience reads. Expand your reading genres to spark your creativity and enhance your writing ability.

Reading what you write helps you learn more about your audience. It builds an inventory of good and bad writing. Exploring other writers in your writing genre sometimes reveals concepts and ideas you thought unique.  

Choose books from the New York Times bestsellers (100,000+ copies sold). Extract what the public perceives as a good book. Wander through every book like an editor and a consumer. Discover how the author triggered your emotions and maintained your attention. Make note of the writing’s quality. 

Writing is a skill, but a writer's output is artistic. Every piece of art compares itself with previous masterpieces. Writers need to shop the competition and read.

 “If you don’t have time to read, 
you don’t have the time (or the tools) 
to write. Simple as that.” -Stephen King


Friday, February 3, 2017

Writer's $ense: Breaking the Rules

Cover ImageBill Mesce, Jr's article* "What Do You Mean You Can't Do It?" brought me to this blank page to write this blog.  Mesce's writing career spans more than twenty some years. His article addresses the use of "show, don't tell." His premise speaks to the need to "tell."

Mr. Mesce defends an author's right to choose his words, phrases, punctuation, and sometimes sentence structure to move the plot. A storyteller reveals characters, settings, and emotions with words to  take the reader deeper into a story. Examples from classic and current literature and movies explain how "telling" enhances the reader's or viewer's experience.

Rules guide a writer through the writing process. Style guides metaphorically act as a manual for new scribes. Grammar rules, punctuation, stylistic preferences of publishers are like the rules of the road. Following the rules keeps the driver safe. Writing rules present the author with a platform to begin a creative process.

Just like a good driver knows when to change lanes when anticipating trouble on the road. A creative writer adjusts his or her writing to hook the reader, to maintain emotional connections, and conclude with certainty. A driver makes a quick decision to safety. A writer breaks a rule for effect.

Now, (this is for my Critique Group) I'm not throwing out all the rules. I concede "breaking a writing rule" works only if it enhances the story. As my editor told me, "It's your story."

*Mesce, Jr., Bill, "What Do You Mean You Can't Do It?", The Writer's Chronicle. December, 2016

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Writer's $ense: How do writers measure 'Success'?

Each year my blog tries to cover topics about writing, writers, and books.  The initial 2017 blog aims to stimulate writers to think about how they measure success.

Let me first state, when I worked in the corporate world all employees had to write goals and create cognitive statistics to support their contributions to the company's bottom line.  It was easy to do when you wrote policies, procedures, newsletters, manuals, and training materials. Your work was a commodity and it was valued. You felt successful.

Today I write poems and stories. I live with pencil, paper, and "Siri." They serve as vaults for my spontaneous ideas. I write for nonprofits, write not one, but two blogs, and have a presence on several social platforms. Yet when someone meets me and asks "What do you do?"

I answer, "I'm a writer."

They respond, "What books have you published?"

I stand back, smile. and say, "In due time, books are a process."
Either they change the subject or I do.

Think about this my writing colleagues. Is writing only judged by 'published books?' Tell me, is this the only way individuals see a writer? It really astounds me that my blogs and my volunteer publications aren't considered writing. Will I become a writer when a small section of my work is available on Amazon or at the local book store?

Many talented, bright, and creative individuals write with passion and commitment. They work full time jobs and maintain relationships. They find those precious calm moments and write. They submit their work to literary magazines, agents, and online publications.

Readers, please help me here. How do you describe "success" as a writer?

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 2016 Book Review: Maeve's Times

Warning to all writers who scribe thoughts on bits and scraps of paper and throw them in a box to rewrite later.  Those bits and scraps may be published posthumously.  Maeve Binchy's husband, Gordon Snell, found her "to do later" box. He built a biography of her life with her thoughts, articles, and ramblings.

Maeve's Times is dated and referenced making it easy to follow. Thank you Mr. Snell for sharing insights into her professional and personal life. Her spirit lives on with her words.

 This author captured my attention with Copper Beeches. Maeve Binchy wrote about what she saw, lived, and felt. Her stories reflected both Irish country and city life. Each book made me feel better about people. She wrote about hard times and working through them. She wrote about love and love lost. Her book Minding Frankie demonstrates a community pulling together to help a neighbor. Any of her titles are a "goodread."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Be Strategic: Write A Holiday Memory

The momentum of the holidays propels us into a frenzy of cooking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, entertaining, cleaning, and overindulging. Writing becomes an after thought in the midst of multiple "to do" lists.

BREATH. Schedule a break, whittle some time for your writing. Utilize these small chunks of time to "Write A Memory."  Exercise your creativity with the keyboard or a paper and a writing instrument to describe a "who, what, where, or how" about the Holiday Season. Find a quiet place and expound on the following events of the season or better still, scribe about something you experienced that day or during the season "to be jolly."

  • Cookie Exchange: Do you participate in this activity? Why or Why not? If you did, what was your choice of cookie? Who participates your exchange? 
  • Decorating the Outside of Your House: Who does it? How do you prepare for it? Describe the feelings and emotions of the participants of this outdoor activity.
  • Gift wrapping: Do you wrap or bag gifts? Do you use ready-made bows or use ribbon and make your own?and why?
  • Indoor decorating: Do or don't you? With what? 
  • Music: Do you play holiday music at home? Write about your feelings and past memories while listening to the music. What are your thoughts about the music played in the retail shops?
  • Shopping: Do you participate in Black Friday sales? Cyber Monday sales? Do you venture out to the malls? Describe what you see, feel, and hear.
  • Traditions: Do you observe religious, ethnic, family traditions? How do you feel about maintaining the traditions? Why? Why not?
  • Christmas Cards: Do you send them? Why or why not? Do you have memories of receiving Christmas cards? Do you write an annual family letter?
  • Santa Claus: First of all, do you believe and why? Why not? What preparations are made for his arrival? Any special stories? 

Even if you aren't a writer by profession, you can start to a diary of memories for your family about Christmas. The therapeutic value of writing your feelings is invaluable. If you write with your favorite beverage, hot, cold, or on ice, serenity is guaranteed.

Be Strategic: Select Words Judiciously

"My task, which I am trying to achieve is,  by the power of the written word,  to make you hear, to make you feel-- it is, befo...