Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Reading AND writing

QOTD: What are you reading this summer?

When summer hits, I envision writing All. The. Day. Long.

But that doesn't usually work out.

The biggest pluses for me with summer is the ease of a routine, a schedule: there isn't one. Even when we have tried to do Field Trip Friday or Taste Test Tuesday, we haven't lasted through summer. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I've come to understand that I need to 'chill out' during summer, enjoy myself and my down time, but most of all enjoy my family time, because it slips away fast.

One of my hobbies that I seem to be able to catch up on is reading. Reading by the pool, reading in the car (I take ginger to counter car sickness) or staying up late to 'just finish one more chapter.'

And I firmly believe reading and writing go together.

I find that I enjoy writing in the morning, have lunch, then read in the afternoon or evening. Reading opens my mind and creativity to other worlds and characters and thoughts.

I LOVE leaning! I LOVE reading books from other countries and cultures. This women's journey to read a book from every country made me think about my reading habits. I'd love to expand my world even more. I'm including Ann Morgan's Ted talk and the link to the books she read in a year from other countries.




Monday, June 17, 2019

Chuck Palahniuk on 'thought verbs'

Here is a short piece of a post from Chuck Palahniuk on 'thought verbs.'

The piece got me thinking about how I'm a lazy writer. I want to change that.



Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph  (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later)  In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph.  And what follows, illustrates them.

For example:
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline.  Traffic was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits.  Her cell phone battery was dead.  At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up.  Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows?  Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others.  Better yet, transplant it and change it to:  Brenda would never make the deadline.

Thinking is abstract.  Knowing and believing are intangible.  Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing.  And loving and hating.

Don’t tell your reader:  “Lisa hated Tom.”

Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.  Present each piece of evidence.  For example:
“During role call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout: ‘Butt Wipe,” just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone.  Writing, you may be alone.  Reading, your audience may be alone.  But your character should spend very, very little time alone.  Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

For example:  Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take..”

A better break-down might be:  “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57.  You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus.  No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap.  The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late.  Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”

A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives. 

Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

No more transitions such as:  “Wanda remember how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

Instead:  “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

Again, Un-pack.  Don’t take short-cuts.

Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.  Get them together and get the action started.  Let their actions and words show their thoughts.  You -- stay out of  their heads.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Self Edit Like A Pro by Jolene Perry

I love NaNoWriMo! I love being able to let my brain dump out words that form paragraphs and eventually form a story. Not to brag (just proving my point), I can usually write 50k in a weekend. They aren't pretty words, but it is a story.

But I HATE editing. For some reason, I feel like a failure because all the words in my head come out a jumbled mess on paper (stupit, right?)

At the same time, I love editing because I can make the sentences stronger and make my story better.


Jolene Perry's class was excellent on self-editing.
Here are a few of my notes:

There are a few edit rounds:

Developmental/Big picture
Line
Fine line
Copy
Proof

LINE EDITING:
Line edits help make awkward sentences better, change passive sentences, and improve flow.

When editing, it might be helpful to plug the manuscript into a plotting method, like Save the Cat and see where the story needs fixed or is missing beats. If I find myself rethinking a scene, then I just need to cut it.

One of Jolene's advice that I want to use more often:
Write a pitch of the book, or a blurb, to help keep the story straight. 
AND
Step away from the manuscript for at least THREE weeks to see where to fix MS better.

There needs to be TWO reasons for each scene:

1. What do we learn?
 About a character? About their world?
2. How does this scene propel the story?
What is the key in this scene that adds tension?

Each character has a background, interests, hobbies, likes/dislikes that shape their world. Are those views shown in their actions?

If you need help with characterization, trying reading the scene from each characters point of view! Then ask, are they acting in a way that help the main character?

LINE BY LINE:

Don't use thought verbs-SHOW the emotion
Don't use dialog tags improperly
Don't use a passive voice
Don't use 'it' or 'it was' if at all possible
Cut pet words

Define 'it' and 'there' do make the story better.
Search for ING endings and see if I can make the sentence more succint.
⇛Being more specific nearly always adds tension!

You DON'T need an action AND a dialogue tag.

COPY EDIT:
Checks grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. 
Learn about hyphenation, commas, and lay vs. lie

Jolene has a blog! beenwriting.com

A few of my favorite things I'm doing

I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...