Thursday, June 30, 2011
The fact that we've received this award twice must mean we are incredibly sweet, right? :)
Thanks to Larissa Hinton for thinking For the Love of Writing is worth awarding. What a great start to the summer!
With this award comes some duties, including giving some facts and nominating some blogs.
So since there are five of us, we'll each give 7 facts about ourselves. This is going to be fun!
1.) We have two dogs and three birds.
2.) I love taking walks.
3.) I hate humidity.
4.) I get sick after I fly on a plane, not before.
5.) I can't stop eating Pringles or M&Ms
6.) I'm only 5' tall.
7.) My children say I wear old lady sweaters.
1.) Was hospitalized for drinking too much coffee.
2.) Cooking is my secondary passion.
3.) Has trouble finding size fifteen shoes.
4.) Is a pen snob. (Get that Bic pen outta here!!)
5.) At the age of nine my first writings were fictional news reports for Looney Toons.
6.) Failed English in 8th grade. (Not my fault :P)
7.) I LOVE coffee!!
1.) I have entire conversations with myself when I'm bored.
2.) I love going for a late night walk, especially on Halloween.
3.) For some reason I like imitating wolf howls.
4.) I love storms.
5.) Music really helps with writing. I can't write without it on.
6.) I like to create strange food combinations.
7.) Some days I like writing without any lights on in the house. Just the dark and me.
1.) Give me lots of writing materials and I'd be happiest on a desert island with no one and nothing around me for months.
2.) I love sticking my face in my cat's fur.
3.) I eat my french fries with butter and I'm addicted to pickles.
4. I can go up to three days without sleep and switch from sleeping in the day to sleeping at night without warning.
5.) I act out scenes from my books out loud.
6.) I have a huge addiction to the concept of animal human half breeds, especially predatory ones.
7.) I once wrote 400 pages in two weeks. Wish I could figure out how I did it so I could do it again....and again...and again
1.) For a brief period, singing was my job.
2.) I have an unhealthy addiction to seafood. Especially sardines in mustard sauce.
3.) I've never worn a bikini, but I have gone skinny dipping.
4.) I. Love. History. I love reading about it, learning about it, lectures...oh my.
5.) I like wearing fake eyelashes. Especially ones with glitter.
6.) Knitting calms me. It may be 'granny-ish' but I like it.
7.) I wear flip flops year round.
And here are the blogs we've chosen to nominate:
1.) procrastinate? writenow.
2.) A Storyteller's Musings
3.) The Art of an Artist
4.) It's a Radiant World
5.) Crazy Lady with a Pen
6.) A Shade Tree
7.) Oasis for YA
8.) Writings, Workouts, and Were-Jaguars
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
You’re a writer.
Anyone can call themselves that these days. But what does being a writer really mean?
It means life as you know it will suck big ones for the most part. It means long, sleepless, over-caffeinated nights when the voices in your head refuse to stop their incessant yapping. It means looks of admiration from your friends and loved ones that soon turn into pity and finally annoyance, as you strive for that dream of publication.
It means rejection.
It means wanting to bang your head against the wall when the words won’t come. It means getting a day job so you can feed yourself and your family because your writing sure ain’t doing it. Oh yeah. Didn’t anyone tell you that writing doesn’t always pay? No? Well, I hope you’re not too disappointed.
It means rewrites. Editing. It means swallowing critique and more editing. And then when you do happen to get published, it means doing all the above OVER and OVER again for the rest of your life.
I know. When it’s put that way you have to wonder: Why on earth would anyone put themselves through such torture? Why do I bother doing this to myself?
Because…You. Are. A. Writer!
You don’t know where those stories come from or why the need to get them out is there. You just know it’s there inside you. That lust for the written word. That desire for a good story. You were born to do this. You are going to do this!
So you suck it up. You write every day. Every day. Even when you don’t want to. Even when the words are fighting you and the things you write down don’t make any sense. You know your ideas are good. That they are what readers are looking for. So you press on. You ignore the haters. Ignore the looks, the snide remarks about how you’re wasting your time. What do they know? You just wrote a chapter today. Ha! In their faces!
Rejection happens to you. Great! You’re trying! You’re not just sitting around wondering: What if? you’re doing something. So they didn’t like you. Send it again. Start a new story. Kill off your “darlings.” Write the most wretched chapters you’ve ever seen. Then when the burning sensation is gone from your eyes…edit them. Then edit some more. Who’s going to quit? Not you. No way. You keep going. Keep dreaming. Writing.
Yes! Above all else…You keep writing!
Sounds hard, right? Sounds terrifying too I’ll bet. But so what? You’re tough. You’re a writer after all. Writing is hard work. Hard! But the end result, my fellow authors, is so WORTH IT.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Descriptive setting has none of the excitement of an action scene, none of the glamour of dialogue. But too little description and the reader can get lost, unable to figure out what’s happening. Too much of it and the reader is yawning. Who hasn’t skimmed over paragraphs of description of countryside and weather to get to the good stuff? I do it all the time.
So it’s no surprise, descriptive setting is my least favorite type of writing. It’s usually way down on the list of priorities. Plus, avoiding passive writing and lazy ‘was/were’ sentences is always a challenge for me. Much easier to write ‘the forest was full of tall evergreen trees’ then to craft it into an entertaining sentence like ‘evergreen trees rose tall and straight along the road creating a dense screen’. Leaving out the descriptive setting, however, is a missed opportunity. There are three potential ways for this type of writing to increase the wow of your story.
An artist friend of mine is always telling the children she teaches not to leave their subjects hanging in the air. Without a horizon line, the people or scenery they draw are literally floating in air. Drawing in the line between earth and sky, puts that tree or person firmly on the ground and not in the sky. That’s the main goal of descriptive writing. It lets the reader know where the characters are.
If you don’t detail the setting, you leave a reader confused and unable to relate to what is happening in the story. I recently read a passage, the opening chapter of a WIP, which gave no description. I ended up picturing the MC actively outside and moving when she was still at her home. That kind of mistake made me no longer trust that writer. That’s not what you want. Yet you don’t want to go into so much detail that you bore the reader either. Do we really need five sentences to tell us how the sky looks? That’s a big no!
Just keep in mind that the amount of description a reader wants is a matter of personal taste and also depends on genre you’re writing. Romance puts different emphasis on what to describe than does mystery or fantasy. Know what’s expected for your particular genre by reading lots of examples of that genre.
2. Character Development
Descriptive setting can show you about your characters. For instance, what music is playing in the background can say heaps. There are different personalities associated with country music compared to hip hop or classical. It’s a great way to show what your character values. Whether your character has a messy or neat room tells about them. It say how much priority they put to cleaning and whether they might be a laid-back, let things go type of person or a type A personality. The type of house or furniture they own can tell whether they are modern or old-fashioned. Books on the bookshelves make them thoughtful. Liquor bottles everywhere, well, you know what that says about a character.
And I repeat it’s a great way to show. You’re not saying ‘Carol is a lazy slob’, or ‘John is a typical teenager’. When John can’t find his keys because his room is so messy or dust is an inch thick on Carol’s counter, you’re showing it. It’s a great trick to use in opening chapters to increase the character development indirectly.
How can you set the mood of your character without telling? Descriptive setting. This is an underused strategy for writing. Use the description of what’s occurring in the background to reflect your character’s mood. Hard to explain so I’ll give a few examples from my own writing.
I wanted to show that my character felt a bit conflicted and thoughtful, he’s trying to come to a big decision. I could have said, ‘Henry rubbed his chin in thought’ or ‘Henry felt doubtful’. Instead, I showed it by the setting. “He stopped and stared off over the moor as a lone bird, cast in black by the sun, winged its way home.” The image of the bird, cast in black, gives a feeling of isolation and loneliness. It reflects the character’s mood.
Here’s another example from my opening chapter. I wanted to show the MC is depressed and brooding. “She ignored her possessions to watch the flickering light cast dancing shadows on the walls.” In the middle of the night, she’s staring at candle light flickering on the walls, what could be more brooding.
If you want to foreshadow a bit of danger coming up, make the background reflect it. Trees can ‘loom’ adding a feeling of danger. Branches can ‘grab’. There are plenty of ways to make the setting work for you. I wish I used these tricks more often because the effectiveness is undeniable.
Summer is vacation time. Use that time to improve your writing without putting a word to paper. Now some of you know from facebook I just returned from a long vacation. I used the time driving through several states I’d never been to before to visualize settings. What better way to come up with unique settings than from actual experience of being there? I even made it a game to come up with non-passive sentences for each area. “The wind chasing knee-high grass up the slope in rippling wave after wave of unbroken green.” is eastern South Dakota. “Dense evergreen trees darkening the hills to a uniform black and only broken by high cliffs of stark gray granite” would do for the Black Hills.
Have you used setting to highlight the mood of your work? Got a great descriptive sentence? Post an example to inspire the rest of us. And use that time outdoors for more than getting a tan.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Until next time everyone, write on!