Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Lessons Worth Remembering

Writing Lessons Worth Remembering - Writer's

When it comes to our writing, we all have different ways of working best. Because of this it 's hard to give writing advice that is going to suit everyone. There is no one size fits all’ approach to writing, and, for many writers, it is most helpful to try and experiment with different methods and approaches until they find the way that makes them their most effective, productive and brilliant.

However, to get there writers may need to try writing in different ways, at different times, in different places and so on, to discover how to be at their writing best. It’s also important to remember that there is always more to learn and new avenues to explore when it comes to our writing. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep testing and pushing yourself - that way you’ll never end up stagnant and will always be improving.

With that in mind, here are some tips that every writer should try.

Stop writing linearly
Try writing your next piece not in chronological order. You may find this incredibly refreshing and your ability to concentrate on each scene as a standalone piece will improve - which may make for a better story overall.

Work on different projects at the same time
It can be easy to get writing fatigue if we focus all our energy on just one project. OK, so your book might be your pride and joy and the thing you want to concentrate on the most - but have a couple of smaller, side projects on the go as well. This way you can take a break from your novel, and gain some distance from it, without stopping writing altogether - and then return to it with renewed energy and enthusiasm when you’re ready.

Switch between writing and editing
If you write your entire book without looking back, editing it will seem like a mammoth and somewhat overwhelming task. Try writing a chapter at a time and then editing it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but at least when you reach the end of your novel, you will know you have already edited out the most common mistakes.

Always get feedback
Writers all need to get feedback on their work, and learn how to take it if it’s helpful, or reject it if it’s useless!

Read both good and bad literature
Understanding the differences between good and bad literature will help you ensure yours is the former! Therefore, don’t just restrict yourself to reading incredible books. Pick some you think might be terrible too - you can learn just as many lessons from these.

Write down your writing goals, and create deadlines
Having clear, visual writing goals and deadlines to achieve them will keep you moving forward and pushing yourself to achieve that next writing milestone.

Be organised
When it comes to time management, research, having a tidy workspace, being productive, and editing and marketing your book, the thing that will help you the most is being organised. An efficient organiser will have plans, timelines, deadlines and will always be one step ahead of themselves. Being organised will stop you panicking or becoming overwhelmed and will help you to approach each stage of your writing with a clear head and a sense of purpose.

Have patience, positivity and determination
Learning how to remain positive every day will stop you from wasting your time despairing or becoming overly critical. Having determination will keep you going even when you feel like giving up, and being patient will stop you from rushing and allow you to remain calm in those long waits when you have sent your book to publishers and editors and are hoping for a response.

These writing tips are certainly worth taking on board. Some are just good advice, and some are more practical and may not work for you. But good writing is all about testing and experimenting, so why not give them a go and see if they improve your writing and help you to become more effective?

It seems I have already been following some of these tips, namely the first two. When I began writing my memoir, I began thinking in terms of subjects rather than time frames. Some subjects I recalled seemed to take place over different periods of time. In two cases, a chapter is devoted to a particular year,  including on 2001 in the months and days leading up to 9/11. One family friend said there was too much jumping around, that I should follow a timeline. Upon hearing this, I panicked at the thought of having to start over again, but then decided I didn't have to. Sometime later, I saw something about not writing memoirs in chronological order. Before seeing that, though, I had also decided that the way I had written it seemed best for me. No one else who has seen my story has commented on the lack of chronology, so I guess I've done all right.
And I have been working on two different stories at once, but have been away from the memoir for  while now, occasionally glancing at the document saved on my computer. And it's been days since I last worked on the diary novel I have been trying.  
I did do a lot of editing of the memoir and still am not done yet. I think I have said all I want to say, but fear that the next time i go over it, I'll see something I want to put in or take out (mostly put in). 
I've been trying to get feedback, but if you seen some of my other posts, finding someone to get feedback from hasn't been easy. There are not enough writers around where I live and so few others seem interested in reading what I have written. As for those to whom I did send the original more than a year, only a small number responded then.
Trying to create deadlines is one I haven't tried. But perhaps It's one of those that won't work for me, since the article says that not all the tips mentioned will work for all people.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Writing Challenges to Keep You Writing


All writers need some extra motivation from time to time, and while we may try our best to stick to our carefully planned out writing schedules, it is easy to fall off the wagon. Finding time to write can be tricky. Many of us have other jobs and busy family lives to attend to and being able to sit down for a proper productive writing session is something many writers consider to be a luxury.
However, by continuing to challenge yourself as a writer, you can stay motivated, keep learning and keep those creative cogs turning as well. Honing your creative skills, being more disciplined and striving to improve is key to any writer’s success.
So here are some creative writing challenges to try - ones which might help fire up your imagination and make you more determined to prioritise your writing over anything else.

National novel writing month
National novel writing month is a fantastic challenge where writers are asked to write a 50,000-word novel in just one month. To some, it might sound like a massive challenge but if you have the time and motivation to achieve it, just think how proud of yourself you’ll be!

Short story writing with a writing buddy
Find a writing buddy and promise each other you’ll complete one short story a week which you can then send to each other and critique. This will help you refine the art of storytelling, and because another person is involved, you are more likely to stick to your deadlines too. This can work by writing a chapter of your novel a week too if that’s what you would prefer to concentrate on.

A daily challenge
Try beginning the week by coming up with seven short story ideas. Then, each day, try to flesh one out. You don’t have to write loads, but try to complete a story a day. Creating an entire story regularly and challenging yourself to come up with fresh ideas each week is a good way of keeping you creative as well as writing all the time.

Style mimicking
Mimicking the style of another author can be an interesting way to challenge your versatility as a writer and help you find your unique voice. Make a list of topics or story ideas and then write a piece of fiction using another authors style. Or once you have finished a book by them, write another chapter to tag onto the end. To be even more inventive, try writing about a topic that the author would never usually write about themselves, i.e. a romance in the style of Stephen King and so on.

Emotion pieces
Try writing short pieces designed to evoke a very particular emotion from your reader. This will help you hone in on what it takes to connect with a reader and make them react emotionally. Some examples could be:
Make your reader laugh
Make your reader cry
Make your reader angry
Make your reader scared

Give them a go, and you’ll soon start to get a sense of what it takes to bring about an emotional impact.

Keeping your mind busy, experimenting with new styles and ideas and making sure you don’t get writing fatigue is so important to ensure you keep writing and stay motivated. So if you are able why not try the above challenges to see how they work for you? Let us know what great writing challenges you have taken part in too!

How many of you writers have tried any of these? I'd been wanting to find some exercises to help with writing when I saw this article this morning. I'm currently on hiatus from the memoir and have only written blogs in the last two days. This week, I'm hoping to work more on the diary novel or try something new. The journaling class we were supposed to start at work this month has been postponed till October. I plan to try that class.

And who has participated in the National Novel Writing Month? How is it? Someone I knew in college has participated in recent years. It sounds like bit of work to get 50,000 words in a single month. It took me more than a month--more than year, even--to get past the original word count of 27K-somthing from the beginning. 

Do you have any other ideas like these? I'd love some suggestions.

And I'd like to wish a happy birthday to fellow blogger and writer Stephanie Faris today. 

#Birthday quotes about life 2015#Birthday quotes about life 2015

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Do Editors Hate?


What Do Editors Hate? - Writer's

A piece of advice every writer should follow is to hire a professional editor to go through their work, once they have completed their book.
However, to actually prepare your manuscript for that stage, it’s a good idea to be aware of the common pitfalls that writer’s fall into. If you know what editors hate, you can make their lives easier and save you time and money too.
Not only is it good to look out for and fix the mistakes that editors hate before you send your book to them, but also for when you send your book to publishers and agents. If you want them to seriously consider your work, checking you have already eliminated any of these editors bugbears from your book before you send it off will give you a much better chance of success.
So what is it that editors hate? Let’s take a look.

No basic grasp of grammar or spelling
If every second word is a spelling mistake and every sentence is punctuated incorrectly, it’s going to take a huge effort and many hours to get through your book. This will mean editors have less time to concentrate on structure, character development and plot - elements which are important to receive feedback on. Do yourself a favour and run your manuscript through a spelling and grammar checker before you pass it to an editor.

Huge passages focusing on backstory
Having backstory is useful and a device to establish your characters and allow the readers insight into their past lives. However, if you focus too much on backstory both the editor and reader will get bored. Include details that are relevant and necessary - cut the rest out.

An entire chapter where the character is walking somewhere, driving somewhere or sitting in bed reminiscing
An excellent book will be fast paced and full of action - if a character spends too much time getting somewhere or reminiscing about something, this slows down the pace of your book - a pet peeve of editors.

Making your story overly dramatic will make it seem farcical and unbelievable. Readers need to buy into your story, to believe it - editors know that and so should you.

Making the same point over and over again
If you draw out a point laboriously or repeat it in different ways over and over again, it simply looks like you are trying to hit a word count rather than write a story that appeals to your readers. If you say something well, you only need to say it once.

Going into too much detail
Creativity is all about having poetic licence, and beautiful descriptions can be really affecting in a book and enhance your story significantly. However, when you spend an entire paragraph describing a vase in your characters living room, it better be seriously significant, otherwise you need to cut it down. Overwriting is a big no no for editors.

Silly inconsistencies
When you are editing and redrafting your novel, look out for inconsistencies. These can be anything from where a character is standing to the time of year. Inconsistencies are easy to make but will frustrate your editor as these should be picked up by you.

Repetitive vocabulary
If you continuously use the same descriptive word this will quickly get tiresome for your readers. Try to be unique and exciting with all your descriptions. If you know you overuse a word, try doing a ‘find and replace’ search of your manuscript so you can easily pick these up and change them.

Long passages of dialogue
Dialogue creates immediacy, can drive the action forward and reveals more about your characters. However, don’t turn every piece of dialogue into a massive speech or monologue. Use it as a device to break up the narrative instead.

Telling rather than showing
Editors hate it when you tell the reader something rather than showing them. Comb through your novel and pick up instances of when you are doing this - this will save your editor having to point them all out for you!

If you can go through your manuscript before you send it to an editor, agent or publisher and look out for these ten things, you’ll make their and your lives so much easier. So make sure you take the time to edit your book first thoroughly, and you’ll find you get so much more out of your editor and are more likely to have a positive response from a publisher too!

I'm now wondering how many of these I have done. And how I can find them. I visited this editor's site and left a message, but have not heard anything. This was the editor that bar owner in my town had employed for her memoir (she gave me the editor's site name).  Even though I have not yet met with an editor, I'm already feeling anxiety over an editor reading my memoir and finding examples of the points mentioned in this article. 

About that first point--I wonder if  this paragraph would count:

The daycare had no structured activities. The kids just wandered around on the dirt ground that was covered with gravel in various shades of grey. They played on the swings, slide and monkey bars, paved roads in the dirt on which they played with toy cars. Played tag or games like Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians, or played house, always arguing over who got to play what parts. Playing hide-and-seek, crawling in and out of the gigantic monster-truck tires randomly placed on the playground on their sides, or the old steel barrels that were painted red or orange and placed on their sides to be used as tunnels. Climbing on and hiding inside the jungle gym. Lying on the hammock hanging between and shaded by two large trees that never seemed to be trimmed, playing in the clubhouses and forts, and in the large empty building behind the swings and under another of the large trees, and that was as big as a barn or a garage. Running relay races down the cellar-door cover, which was adjacent to the playhouse.
Can you see what I am getting at?

And the showing-not-telling one has always been difficult one for me to grasp. Once when I wrote something, my dad, who tends to get over critical about stuff I have written, immediately mentioned this point. And just recently, this came up in my memoir writing class. This one will be hard for me to detect.

I'm still hoping to find others who will want to read my story before I let an editor see it. But still to no avail. I only got some feedback from those to whom I had sent my original draft more than a year ago.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Benefits of Writing a Book Series


The Benefits Of Writing A Book Series -

For many new authors, when you first decide to sit down and write your book, the idea of finishing just one can seem daunting, let alone an entire series! However, writing a book series has many advantages, and so it is worth examining your idea before you start and considering whether you could create more than one book from it.
Many stories lend themselves well to becoming a series. Detective fiction, for example, is a genre where many authors choose to write a series of books with their main character, the detective solving different murders, crimes and mysteries in each. Fantasy, sci-fi and epic adventure novels naturally also work well. But there is no reason why any book couldn’t be turned into a series, and doing so can be a smart decision when it comes to marketing your work.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of writing a book series:

You've already got your idea
One of the most distinct advantages of writing a book series is that you already have your idea. If you can make two, three, or even four books out of your story idea rather than one then you have material to keep you going for years. It is a frightening thought for any writer that they might run out of steam, that they might not be able to think of another story to write - a book series helps a writer feel confident that they have enough material to produce several books and make a name for themselves as an author. It also means you are likely to write your books faster as well, as the characters and their world are already established.

More book sales
The more books you have, the more book sales you are likely to make. It’s also likely that if a reader likes your work, they are going to buy all of the books in your series. Therefore you make more money and your popularity as an author increases - it’s as simple as that.

The more books you have, the more established you are
The more books you write, the more authority you will have as an author. If readers can see you have written several books, they are going to see you as having more credibility, as being more established. Trust plays a significant factor in whether a reader will buy your book, and the more you have written, the more trustworthy you appear.

Publishers make more money
A book series is also a more attractive proposition to publishers and agents. So if you are trying to go down that route pitching your book as a series can help. If they like what they read and know there is the promise of more books in a similar vein coming their way, they may be more willing to take a risk on your book, as if it does well the other books in the series should do well too.

Loyal fans
Many readers search for their favourite authors rather than simply browsing for new books to read. If the first book in your series does well, readers will keep coming back for more. It is far easier to market your new book to existing fans of your work than trying to get new readers interested in your work, so the more successful your series, the easier it will be to market and achieve high sales when you release the next book in it.

Of course, writing a book series takes careful planning and considerable effort. However, if you think your book idea could be turned into a great series, this is something worth considering, before you start writing your first novel.

How many of you who have written series of books had planned ahead to write a series? It seems like thinking too far ahead. And yes, it would take careful planning. I'm not sure how this would work with my memoir, though perhaps there could be a sequel memoir. 
I have begun working more on the idea I had of a diary novel set in the 1980s. This seems like something that would develop into a series. What I don't know, however, is how long to make one book in this sort of format, let alone any subsequent books. So far I have  written four installments of "entries," some of which take place on more than one date. The most recent one is how the main character is "Preparing for Life Behind Bars." Click this link to see what is meant by this.
I will soon be signing up for the advanced memoir writing class that starts in October and may also consider one or more of the online writing classes offered. These include writing for kids and writing for young adults, which may be one or two I need as I attempt to write this diary novel. There is also one on writing fantasy, something I'd like to explore, since books in this genre always seem to be in series. Even if I don't write a series of books, I might want to at least attempt a fantasy short story or two.  And there is one on effective editing, which I think I should think about taking.  One on mystery writing is also being offered. I may look into that one as well. If I do any of these, I will do one at a time, since each is six weeks. As is the advanced memoir writing, though that one is in person. The beginning one over the summer was only three weeks.

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Idea for Art Class

Here is the idea that I mentioned on the blog two days ago. It got postponed until Monday because cooking took extra long on Wednesday this week, and most of the people didn't know what they wanted to do for the art idea, giving them more time to decide what to do.

Over the summer we did this art idea presented by another client at behavioral health. We made mermaids from toilet-paper tubes with yarn hair and fins made from child-size skirts. Here is the one I made:

My idea was then to use the same idea for Halloween, making different characters associated with Halloween or those who one might dress up as. This includes witches, scarecrows, vampires, princesses, pirates, cowboys, clowns and such. As an example, I made the scarecrow pictured below:

The pants are made from a pair of jeans with a broken zipper as a way to upcycle the jeans. I brought some pieces of the jeans to work the other day for others to use for  a scarecrow or cowboy, or other character that has jeans.

I now want to make a princess next week, since about two others have already expressed wanting to make a scarecrow, and since I've already done one at home as an experiment.

Pictures to come.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Are You Thinking About Halloween Yet?

Two things that came up on my Facebook memories today:

Image may contain: 1 person, meme and text

I then said then that I always try to get my Halloween decorations up before October 1, 
then remembered that last year I did not get them up until a week later, on the 8th. 
And it just occurred to me that I haven't been thinking much about Halloween just
yet. Some yes, but not a whole lot just yet.  And now I want to star looking for the decorations
 to decide where to put them this year.

I will be doing art class this week and have an idea related to Halloween. I will tell you more
about this later, as it will take a bit of explanation.

And then I saw this:

I am a pharmacist and work for Walgreen's so when someone suggested I do something work related for the office costume contest, a prescription bottle ...

I blogged about this last year and am still not certain if I'm going to do this one.  
It seems appropriate for me, but at the same times seems a little weird.  It looks 
kind of hard to sit down and  to drive in something like this, something I have 
always thought about homemade costumes such as the grapevine one made from balloons.
Now that one seems even harder to move around in. Not to mention worry over the
balloons popping or deflating before the night is over.

I have been looking at costumes for sale on the Spirt site and on the site,
and just a day or two ago, looked at the ones already on display at Kmart.  I saw the 
cheeseburger and hot dog ones and am annoyed by the fact that the label says these are just
for men.  I see no reason why I can't wear one of these. This "women's costumes have to be 
sexy" bit is so tired. It comes up on various websites every single year. It's just plain ridiculous.

There are few ideas I have already been considering. A mermaid or a prisoner in orange 
(yes, I have watched Orange is the New Black). But there's still time.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Trying to Write a Diary Novel

I had begun writing a new story several months ago, the idea having come to me about a year ago. I have been waiting to work more on it, but did not get around to doing so until the tore day. I just had to get myself to do it.

I have begun doing a young adult diary-style novel set in the 1980s, the decade in which I grew up. Such works are called epistolary novels, the subject of one of the reading challenges I have been doing this year.  I've read over 25 such books to date this year  and have some at home I plan to read.

Such books have traditionally been in the form of letters, or a dairy, but have come to include emails and text messages to go with today's trends. However, I have found myself less compelled to write something set in current times, hence the reason I chose the 1980s.  I also would like to have kids today see how those my age did things when we were kids their age.

This graph from this link shows a rise in the popularity of the epistolary novel over different periods:

A black bar graph depicts the number of epistolary novels per period of time. The periods are on the x-axis and are as follows: ancient, 1400-1500, 1500-1600, 1600-1700, 1700-1800, 1800-1900, 1900-2000, post-2000. The y-axis indicates the number of novels and markers range from 0 to 60. The bars by period, in order for largest to smallest, are as follows: post-2000 (52 novels), 1900-2000, 1700-1800, 1800-1900, ancient, 1600-1700, and tied 1400-1500 and 1500-1600 (1 novel each).

Number of Novels by Period

How many of you have considered writing this in style?