Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Comma comas

Comma-tose

The major types of commas that writers need:

  1. Clause independence: After a coordinating conjunction that links 2 independent clauses. E.g. I ate the whole pizza, and my wife never let me forget it.
  2. Separation anxiety: Used for setting off a parenthetical element from the rest of the sentence. E.g. George Washington, the first president, was also a general.
  3. Serious about series: Separating the elements of a series. E.g. I like pizza, my wife, and George Washington. (I included an Oxford comma, the comma before “and”)
  4. Speaking of: Commas are need for dialogue and quotes. E.g. “I like pizza,” I said.
  5. Omissions: Using commas to indicate omitted words. E.g. I ate the first pizza quickly, the second pizza less quickly. (omitted “I ate”)
  6. Please repeat: using commas between repeated words. E.g. Whatever you do, do well.

    Commas have many other uses, so know when to use them and when not to. Until we meet again, happy writing to you.

Read Full Post »

Arrogance for Writers

I try to be modest, and I don’t believe in bragging. But I make an exception for writers:

Have the arrogance to start your novel. Few people start one. You must believe in yourself and your storyline. Without your story, the world will lose a valuable story.

 

Have the arrogance to finish your novel. Even fewer see it to completion. You must believe it is worth finishing and presenting to the world.

 

Have the arrogance to edit it and hone it. Far fewer people have the courage to do this. You must believe it is worth the effort.

 

Have the arrogance to show it to critique groups and beta readers. . You must believe that is worthy of attention and development.

 

Have the arrogance to think that other people will want to read your novel. Why else have you gotten this far?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that editors and agents will want to read your manuscript. Otherwise, why bother to show it to them?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that a publisher will want to publish your manuscript. Otherwise, why did you send it to editors and agents?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that people will want to buy and read your novel. Otherwise, why bother going to book signings, book fairs, and promoting your book in other ways?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that reviewers and critics will like your novel. Otherwise, you will show it to no one.

 

Have the arrogance that your novel will make the world a better place. Why did you write to begin with?

spearfinger-cover-test-draft

Read Full Post »

Guns in Writing

A writer (Dashiell Hammett, I believe) once said that when his story needed fresh air, he liked to introduce a gun into the situation. (I cannot find his specific words) He wrote crime/detective novels, so guns were a natural for him, but he meant to shake the story up. Guns are not the point. In other words, to keep the story from getting boring, let the plot make a hard-left turn. Here are just a few suggestions:

>Bring someone new into the scene. E.g. His ex-wife enters the room while he is with his girlfriend.

>Change the geography. E.g. The car goes off the road into an abandoned barn.

>Text message. E.g. Someone gets a text: I know who your real father is.

>Change the time: E.g. Rip Van Winkle wakes up 20 years later.

>Change the characters. E.g. Another old device: Surprise! I’m your wife’s twin sister.

>Change your main character’s behavior. E.g. Jekyll and Hyde, where he drinks poison.

>Change the weather. E.g. A sudden snowstorm.

>Okay, bring a weapon in. E.g. someone pulls a hand grenade.

These are just a few suggestions. Warning, make sure your gun fits the story and is fresh. This leads back to my favorite writing rule: Take the reader where the reader is not expecting to go.

Eights Mask2

Read Full Post »

Genres & Age Groups

The story is all important!

I am a storyteller first, I worry about writing a good story, and then I worry about genres & age groups. I write anything from picture books and middle grade to young adult and adult. Genres are important so that the reader, can find your book, especially with adult books, but I maintain that the story is all-important.

 Genres can be tricky, since they often have subgenres. For example, Urban fantasy. But genres aren’t meant to make a writer’s life complicated, they help a reader know where to find your book in a bookstore. Online markets prefer books that fit into multiple genres so they can list your novel in two or more categories.  Genres are not important when writing your story. Make the plot one that agents, editors, and readers can’t put down, & then find the closest fit. However, a few genres tend to have specific rules about plotlines. For example, in Cozy Mysteries the murder should be introduced in chapter one.

 Age Groups can be more complex to deal with. Children prefer a main character their age or a year or two older, but the topic needs to deal with issues appropriate for their age level:

Picture Books: Ages 3 to 7 (Board Books for younger readers and Easy Readers for older readers). Children this age are Searching for Security. Even while playing and having fun, they need to know their parents are there for them with love, protection, & life’s necessities.

Middle Grade: Ages 8 to 13 (Chapter Books with a limited number of illustrations for younger readers & Tween fiction involving dating for older readers). Children in this age are Searching for Identity. They are not certain who they are or what their abilities are. They often do things in groups to obtain peer approval, because they lack self-confidence & self-identity.

Young Adult: Ages 14 to 18 (New Adult for college-age readers). Teenagers are Searching for Independence. They are famous for their rebellion against their parents, sometimes called “attitude.” Psychologists have described this as subconscious psychological efforts to separate themselves from their families, so they can become adults. New Adult is about college-age students dealing with new-found independence.

Adults: Adults are easier to write for; they read in a wide range of ages & topics. Anything that doesn’t fit in the children’s categories. I once sold a short story about a little boy dealing with his father’s death to a dark fantasy anthology. I didn’t consider marketing it as a children’s book, because it dealt with issues of life and death.

My favorite rule for is: Take your reader where they are not expecting to go. This applies to all genres & age groups. I write the story I want, & then I consider the above age guidelines as I write the rough draft. I often hear people discussing a writer’s voice. Each genre & age group should have a unique voice or all your works will sound the same. You should find a unique voice for each book, even if you write in the same genre/age group. Since I tend to write books that cross genres, I only consider genres when I’m ready to approach an agent or editor.

spearfinger-cover-test-draft

Read Full Post »

Moods are emotional states your characters might experience.

A growing list of moods to give writers ideas:

Giddy: Dizzy & woozy

Jubilant: Triumphant & ecstatic

Bewildered: Baffled & confused

Ecstatic: Combo of rapture and delight

Loathing: Hate and disgust in tandem

Startled: Surprise or alarm accompanied by reflex movement

Aversion: Extreme dislike

Terrified: Extreme fear

Joyful: Feeling intense pleasure/happiness

Humiliated: Brought to a low psychological state/status

Despair: Having lost all hope

Fright: Being afraid or scared

Shame: Feeling guilty or disgraced

Wary: Slow to act or careful

Clueless/naïve: Not understanding or knowing or lack of experience

Confused/dazed: Not being able to think rationally or clearly

Hard-headed: Stubborn or resolved or refusing to stop

Devastated: Emotional shock

Disgruntled: Feeling resentful, sulky, discontented or unhappy

Empowered: Feeling of extreme confidence in your abilities/circumstances/opportunities

Hyper/wired: Frantic, nervous, or jumpy

Jealous, covetous: Bitterness towards another for undeserved wealth, favor, or success

Numb/frozen: Lack of feeling or emotions

Paranoid: distrust, suspicion, or fear of others

Sedated: Feeling of calm, tranquility or serenity

Traumatized: Disturbed or devastated

Cheerful: Happy & jolly

Humorous: Funny, joking, & silly

Idyllic: Unspoiled or serene

Madness: Insanity or just folly or ridiculousness

Melancholy: Sad & depressed

Mysterious: Strange &/or secretive

Romantic: Idealistic, dreamy or loving

spearfinger-cover-test-draft

Read Full Post »

22 Rules adapted from Pixar

 

My take on these wonderful rules. They are good for writing fiction from picture books to adult fiction:

Rule 1: How hard a character tries counts more than his/her success.

I.e. it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all (Bill Shakespeare maybe?).

 

Rule 2: Make it fun for the reader, not fun for the writer. I.e. keep the reader in mind, keep them engaged. I am sometimes guilty of that.

 

Rule 3: Themes are important, but they often aren’t apparent until the end of the story. Worry about theme on your rewrite.

 

Rule 4: Once upon a time…Daily…One day…Because of that and that…Finally. A story progression more for cartoons or picture books than YA or adult.

 

Rule 5: Keep it simple. Maybe even combine characters. If you stumble on something in your story, go around it, come back later (if you decide to).  I heard it as KISS-Keep It Simple, Stupid.

 

Rule 6: What are your main character’s strengths? Throw the worst at them. Can they handle it? (I always heard it as ruin your POV character’s day)

 

Rule 7: Figure out the ending then worry about the middle. I’ve been told that at workshops.

 

Rule 8: Even if it’s not perfect, finish your story. Learn from it. What’s the perfect story look like?

 

Rule 9: When you get stuck, make a list of what won’t happen next. Hopefully the next step will appear. Take your reader where they’re not expecting to go.

 

Rule 10: Dissect the stories you like, understand story structure. Your story will be a part of you, but you have to understand it before you can write it.

 

Rule 11: Don’t leave a story in your head, get it on paper even if it’s flawed. It may be a late bloomer.

 

Rule 12: Plot twists—don’t use your first idea or the second and so on. Surprise yourself, but make the plot twist believable.

 

Rule 13: Make your character strong, even opinioned, but never wishy-washy. (Charlie Brown had opinionated secondary characters)

 

Rule 14: Why do you have to tell this particular tale? If you don’t have a reason, maybe you shouldn’t. (but read rule 8)

 

Rule 15: You have to experience your POV character’s emotions, feelings etc. as if it’s really you. I.e. suffer or celebrate with them.

 

Rule 16: Raise the stakes. Even if the character fails in the middle of the story, raise the stakes anyway.

 

Rule 17: Don’t throw away manuscripts that don’t work. Someday you will find a need for them.

 

Rule 18: Do your best and don’t worry about failure. Thomas Edison always said he had a 1000 failures for every success.

 

Rule 19: You can use coincidence to get a character in trouble, but not to solve their problems. I.e. make it believable.

 

Rule 20: Exercise: Take a story you don’t like. What would you do to make it a good story? Or do the opposite, what would ruin a story you like?

 

Rule 21: Identify with your POV character. Understand why they act and say the way they do. Be them.

 

Rule 22: Do you understand the heart of your story? Is your story buried in your manuscript? I.e. have you overwritten? Decide the plot arc and subplots, then and delete that doesn’t advance the plot.

 

Eights Mask2

Read Full Post »

Even More Moods for Writers

An expanded working list to give writers ideas:

Ecstatic: Combo of rapture and delight

Loathing: Hate and disgust in tandem

Startled: Surprise or alarm accompanied by reflex movement

Aversion: Extreme dislike

Terrified: Extreme fear

Joyful: Feeling intense pleasure/happiness

Humiliated: Brought to a low psychological state/status

Despair: Having lost all hope

Fright: Being afraid or scared

Shame: Feeling guilty or disgraced

Wary: Slow to act or careful

Clueless/naïve: Not understanding or knowing or lack of experience

Confused/dazed: Not being able to think rationally or clearly

Hard-headed: Stubborn or resolved or refusing to stop

Devastated: Emotional shock

Disgruntled: Feeling resentful, sulky, discontented or unhappy

Empowered: Feeling of extreme confidence in your abilities/circumstances/opportunities

Hyper/wired: Frantic, nervous, or jumpy

Jealous, covetous: Bitterness towards another for undeserved wealth, favor, or success

Numb/frozen: Lack of feeling or emotions

Paranoid: distrust, suspicion, or fear of others

Sedated: Feeling of calm, tranquility or serenity

Traumatized: Disturbed or devastated

Cheerful: Happy & jolly

Humorous: Funny, joking, & silly

Idyllic: Unspoiled or serene

Madness: Insanity or just folly or ridiculousness

Melancholy: Sad & depressed

Mysterious: Strange &/or secretive

Romantic: Idealistic, dreamy or loving

Eights Mask2

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »