Wednesday, March 5, 2014
All right readers, writers, and comic book lovers - Emerald City Comicon is almost here - March 28-30 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle Washington. My writer niece, Corinna Bechko and her great artist and writer husband Gabriel Hardman will be there with a whole lot of other folks - so what're you waiting for?
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
“I know all those words, but that sentence makes no sense to me.”
― Matt Groening
How many of us have been there when we’re reading? You read a sentence, then read it again, then shake your head. If the book or script is good otherwise you may well try continuing to read, hoping you won’t run across another sentence like it, or you might give up. For myself, I plunge on as soon as I can sort the meaning out, but be warned writer, do it again and you’re likely to lose me as a reader.
As a writer, those kinds of sentences are horrifying. Especially if you wrote it! I doubt there’s a writer out there who hasn’t been rereading a piece he or she’s written and paused, did a double take and wondered, ‘what was I thinking?’ It’s kind of a scary zone to be in and it just re-emphasizes the need to reread time and again. And if possible, ask others to read as well. And may I add, reading out loud doesn’t hurt either when making sure the material you’ve written actually reads smoothly and makes sense. It’s all part of keeping readers in the wonderful fantasy trance they enjoy when picking up a book to escape with.
So how do jumbled, unintelligible sentences and paragraphs happen?
It’s so easy as the writer to make this error. You know what you’re thinking, you know the plot and what the characters are up to and you might have gotten into a real zone, writing furiously, sure every word you’re laying down is brilliant. You become blind to what’s actually being laid down on the page (whether computer screen or paper) because you know what’s happening and it’s downright exciting.
At other times you might be tired, have written past your limit and what comes out onto the page when you press on isn’t the most intelligible copy. Sometimes you have to write it badly first, that’s okay.
But, this is why writers talk about, emphasize and beat to death the idea of rewrite.
Rewriting, editing and rereading is where you can catch jumbles like what Mr. Groening is talking about.
Regrettably I can’t give you a magic wand or provide the perfect formula for eliminating this problem in your writing. There’s no software (yet) that I know of that can catch this kind of snarl like your spell check can highlight misspellings (though of course you better reread anyway to catch things like ‘there’ and ‘their’, or ‘dessert’ and ‘desert’, etc.). Even if such a software is developed I’ve no doubt it won’t be any more perfect than your spell check.
On your own, bravely facing the storm, it is up to you, to ferret out snarls, to clarify your thoughts and to make sure they come across to the reader in a clear manner.
So readers have a laugh at the writer’s expense. This whole writer thing just might not be as easy as it first appears.
And writers, let’s try to give those readers less reason to put our books down. Engage, clarify and draw the readers in.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Yes, today I'm recommending the blog of fellow writer Seumas Gallacher. He's a Scottish Kilted Author living in Abu Dhabi where I gather it's rather warm most of the time. Maybe the kilt is cooler.
Good for some grins, some good books. and all around nice guy. Did I mention he's prolific as well?
Hook up with his blog and enjoy.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
And not surprisingly they want them to keep reading.
So what is it that might make a prized reader just stop reading, set the book aside, give up? Fantastic to hear your book kept a reader up all night, okay to know they stick in a bookmark and take a break, just awful and nightmarish to think that reader won’t pick the book up again.
So why don’t they pick it up again?
There can be many reasons, but here are a few basic ones you might consider while writing.
Is there too much description? Do you go on and long with long, flowery descriptions and narrative that just doesn’t move the story forward. The days of the writing of the classics is long past and the reader today want succinctly written scenes with few details allowing their own imaginations to take over. It’s a fine line to walk, but there you have it. Too much, too long on the description, narrative and wandering dialog and the reader is, well, bored into putting the book down.
Are your characters realistic? Are they so bland they’re boring? Do they have quirks and problems that are unique and unusual? If your characters don’t come across a real people with real problems odds are your reader is going to slap that book down and not pick it up again.
Did you hear somewhere sex sells? Offensive language gets attention? Violence rivets the eye? Well, yes, to a point. However, in general, readers don’t appreciate all that. If ‘all that’ isn’t key to a character or essential to moving a plot forward, don’t just write gratuitous sex, violence and filthy language scenes because the feeling is they’ll ‘sell’. There are moments where those things belong in a story, but make sure they do BELONG before you put any in. If it seems to your readers that you’re just waving it before their faces for shock value, odds are they’re going to put that book down. And they’ll look for your name on another book – so they don’t buy it by mistake.
Have you got firmly held beliefs? Moral codes of your own? Your own way of seeing the world?
Use them to move readers with a powerful theme, but don’t preach to them. Readers hate preachiness. If instead of being drawn in by an engrossing tale your readers feel you’re trying to force your own agenda on them, to cram a message down their throats, they’re going to turn on you. Keep in mind not everyone shares your values and point of view. There are many world views out there. They may well be hooked by a well-written story based on a viewpoint at a one hundred and eighty degree flip from their own, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate being told they have to share that perspective. Preaching is a big turn off and frequently the reason a book is cast aside. If you want to get a ‘message’ across, be more subtle. Make it into a powerful, positive theme in your book and let the readers come to their own conclusions.
Hope these handful of hints is cause for thoughts. And readers, be sure and share other reasons you have for not finishing a book below in the comments. Good writers always want to know.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Writer? Reader? Student? Just curious?
Here's a great site for research and answers. Answers.com
Animals, cars, taxes, sports, history and politics, hobbies, science, technology and much more. Sail on over and rummage about for answers to fill in your research gaps, for personal info, or just for the heck of it.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Writers write, right?
Sounds easy. But not so fast.
It takes dedication, discipline and some good habits to see any writer thorough. From writer to writer they differ, but there are many writers have in common.
And there are just some things that need to be said, a reminder of sorts for those of us who get wrapped up in our every day work and find ourselves eating away at time that we’d really much rather have spent writing.
So, a few ideas.
Here’s one: Write on ugly paper because it tricks the brain to really believe that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Really, it does work. And, besides, who wants to write that first draft on nice, clean, expensive final draft paper? And yes, you should print it out; makes for easier and more thorough editing.
Another: Write when you’re tired, write when you’re not, write when you have hours ahead of you, write when you can only steal a few minutes. Just write!
Here’s yet another one. Stop following links and write! Right now. Really. Stop. Do your research, then get off the web, close your browser window. You can’t browse, surf, whatever, and write at the same time. It just doesn’t work.
And related to that take some time to turn off all electronic devices. Cell Phones, tablets, web access on your computer. Everything. Set a time to dedicate to writing and eliminate all distractions and disconnect. You won’t die, really. And with no distractions like text messages, cell phones or games at your fingertips you’ll be able to really focus. It’s one of the best bits of advice I can give. Gads, unhook already.
When you’re writing always remember to repeatedly ask the question “what if…” What if a meteor fell from the sky? What if it’s large enough to flatten a small city? What if a bunch of people in a large building have enough notice to dive into the basement and are trapped there by the explosion? What if one of them is a psychotic murderer? What if, what if, what if. One of the best questions a writer can ask himself, if not the BEST question.
Another great habit to develop is to give yourself a break between writing bouts and be sure to stretch or exercise. Run up and down stairs if you have them. Take a short brisk walk outside. Get yourself an inexpensive stationary bicycle. Do stretches. Physical activity will keep the mind active and sharp. Writers simply sit too much. Think about getting a new standing desk. I have one and move from standing to sitting to standing several times during a work day. Standing keeps the brain moving too.
How about setting a timer? Force yourself to write a story within a set amount of time. The shorter the better, as long as you can create in that amount of time. It doesn’t have to be good, probably won’t be, but get that writing spewed out. You’ll feel better for it and it will almost definitely create something that can be revised later.
Don’t forget to make notes on ideas for where you’re going with a story for tomorrow before you quit for today.
Read great writing. Read bad writing. Read, read, read. Then write, write, write.
Yes, writers write.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Love generators? Do they help kick start the ol' creative process? Want more and more?
Well, there are plenty of them out there and Writing While The Rice Boils offers a bunch.
Got a great generator? Add it to the comments section below and share!