Monday, September 20, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Slash! Cut! Snip! Ax! Clip! All those words relate to our poster quote today. Stephen King's advice is always right on. We should heed his words since he has written so many successful novels and a wonderful reference book for writers titled "On Writing."
I am in agreement with him about cutting the excess fat. Last night, I wrote a first draft of a story to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul whose guidelines state no more than 1200 words. And they mean 1200 words. My draft was 1244, but I've done the cutting exercise so many times that I feel confident I can cut those 44 extra words, and maybe more, to make my story stronger and more concise.
Most writers don't like to cut words they have written. They are precious, but if your story can be made better by cutting, then go for it. It's not as difficult a task as some think. And, as I said earlier, the more often you do the slashing words exercise, the better you become. A master slasher! (That phrase 'as I said earlier' could be cut without losing meaning in the sentence.)
How do you cut words? Read through the entire draft first, then go back and look at it paragraph by paragraph. You might be surprised by the number of times you repeat a word that isn't necessary. Let's look at several ways you can cut words.
A. Word Repetition: You might find a section like this: Alice drove to the beach with tears streaming. She'd go to the beach to forget him. She loved the beach. 20 words. Rewrite it like this: Tears streaming, Alice drove to her beloved beach to forget him. 11 words.
B. Idea Repetition: Some writers fear that readers will not 'get' a point they are making, so they repeat the same idea in the next paragraph. You don't need to do this. Say it once and be done. Readers are capable of 'getting it' the first time. Another possibility is the writer is not sure what to write next, so the easy way out is to repeat the same idea using different words. All it does is add to the word count.
C. Unnecessary words: When we talk or write, we tend to toss in many unnecessary words. They are words that have no bearing on the meaning, words that, when cut, do nothing harmful to the sentence. Words like 'just, very, really, usually, that, rather, quite, and probably' can be eliminated without losing meaning in the sentence. Google 'unnecessary words in writing' to read more.
D. Dump the word 'the' in some places: We tend to use 'the' in many places where it is not necessary. The following sentence can be shortened. We use the recipe books and the hand-written ones from our mothers. Rewrite as: We use recipe books and hand-written ones from our mothers. You've cut two words and left the meaning. When you edit, look for places where 'the' can be dropped.
E. Eliminate 'that' when possible: In this sentence, We know that Paul will be late and that he will laugh about it. The word 'that' can be cut without losing any meaning. It would read: We know Paul will be late and he will laugh about it.
F. Cut adverbs and adjectives: These are modifiers and are not always needed. Some writers think if one adjective is good, use two or three. That's overkill. One is fine, and most adverbs can be cut, too. Adverbs lead you into the trap of telling rather than showing.
G. Conjunctions: You can eliminate the 'and, but, or' words when you are writing a lengthy sentence. Instead, cut the conjunction and create two separate sentences. Do it in many places, and the number of words cut adds up.
H. Lengthy sentences: Some writers love long sentences. Not only can they be divided into two sentences, but also lose some words. Read a very long sentence and note ways it can be trimmed.
If you can cut words without losing meaning, go ahead and ax them. The more you work on cutting words, the easier it becomes. You train your editing eye to look for places to cut.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Does that mean we can't ever know what the other characters are thinking and more? The writer can let the reader see these things in the other characters by the way they act, through dialogue, and showing rather than telling. Let your protagonist 'see' what is happening by showing what another character is doing or saying.
There is a way to have more than one Point of View character, and that is to change that POV character chapter by chapter. One chapter could be all seen as Jennie sees what's happening. The next one might be Charlie's POV. It takes an experienced and talented writer to pull it off. Some even attempt to use three POV characters.
POV is a complicated issue. If you're at all confused, google a more detailed article or a book on the topic. Keep in mind that your Point of View is the way you see things. Just you. No one else.
Monday, September 13, 2021
On our writing journey, we have one happy day after another. The sun always shines on our writing. We are gleeful day in and day out.
If only all the above were true! Instead, our writing journey is filled with potholes and other roadblocks. Our poster today tells us that everything is going to be alright. That's soothing. But then, the little girl says '...maybe not today but eventually' That's the hard part.
Our own common sense tells us that all those problems we run into when we write will be fixed or look better later, not necessarily today. What we must do is to remember that and not let what feels like an insurmountable problem knock us right off our writer's pedestal.
Writer's pedestal--you know that place we put ourselves when we're feeling good, when everything is going well, or when we've just received an acceptance, or published a book. And why not? When life is positive, we should enjoy whatever is happening. We know we'll slip right off the pedestal when the next trouble spot arises.
The writer's world is one of ups and downs. If you drew a graph showing same, it would look like a series of mountains. Isn't that what we do as we write? Climb one mountain after another until the problem is solved. The successful writer is the one who keeps climbing after she/he has slid down from one of the peaks. The writer who gives up sits at the bottom and stops trying to climb to the top of the next mountain.
We sometimes need an attitude adjustment when writing woes get us down. Once again, determination is key to solving our writing problems. That and knowing that it is up to us to get through whatever trouble spot we're in.
We also must keep in mind that eventually, everything's going to be alright.
Friday, September 10, 2021
Amongst all the enjoyable early fall activities this weekend, we mark the 20th anniversary of 9-11. Certainly the most somber part of our weekend and a tragedy we must never forget. Yet, today, I saw college students being interviewed saying they didn't want to hear the gruesome details nor did they want to be told who was responsible. Have the children today been so protected that they cannot stand to learn of tragic happenings in our history? If so, that's sad. All the tragedies America has experienced through the years have a bearing on what our life is like today. I feel strongly that children, at a proper age, need to learn what happened.
In that same respect, today[s post is centered on writing about the sad or tragic happenings in your life. Many memoirs center on sad lives and how certain experiences influenced the rest of a person's life. These memoirs sell. Readers seem drawn to reading about the difficult times in a person's life. Maybe because they can relate to it, or maybe to learn from what was written.
As my regular readers know, I am a big proponent of writing family stories. Many who take up this task write about the happy times, the laughing times, the warm family gatherings. That's great, but every family has sad happenings, too. Some are even tragic. We need to write about them, as well.
Maybe an uncle went to jail for theft. His situation affects the other people in the family. Some will be angry while others may be sympathetic. Some may want to cover it up, keep the incarceration a secret, which is pretty hard to accomplish. Some family members will be heartbroken, some will feel ashamed. It's a part of your family history so don't hesitate to write about it. Write about it, but don't judge.
Perhaps, a member of your family died in battle in the military. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of but not easy to write about either. Gold Star families take great pride in the service their loved one gave. Again, write about it and how it affected different family members.
There are many other tragic happenings in our lives--a jilted bride or groom, the loss of an infant or a small child, the loss of a teen, loss of a spouse, dealing with dementia.. Writing about these sad times can be one step in the healing process. Not a cure, but one step in healing. People who live with issues like this have so much hurt welled up inside. Writing about what happened or is still happening is a kind of release. Even a little of that can be helpful.
Chicken Soup for the Soul has a call for stories for a new book on grieving and how a person overcame it or found some peace. I am working on a story for that book. The deadline to submit is September 30th. Read the guidelines and tips here. You might have a story to write and submit for this book. Or you may write the story to include in your family stories. You can also write it only for yourself, and that is perfectly fine. We're all different people and have various feelings on this subject.
Mark the 9-11 anniversary in whatever way feels right to you--on your own or with your family. I wish those young people who didn't want to hear about the gruesome details or hear who did it will be willing to listen. Most of all, I'd like them to learn of the tremendous outpouring of love people gave to the families of the victims. I'd like them to know how our country pulled together. We were all Americans, not of one political party or the other, not of this religion or that one, nor of any specific racial group. We grieved together. That, too, is an important part of our history.
Nancy in Rottweil, Germany Today's photo who2w me with a well-behaved Rottweiler dog in Rottweil, Germany. The picture was taken several...
If you've been looking over what you did or didn't do, in your writing world this past year, you might be feeling a bit ...
For those who are regular readers of this blog, you've heard me say that lots of negatives in our writing life are good lessons for...
I was just about to start writing my blog post yesterday when disaster struck. A big red warning page popped up and a woman with a l...