Long Time, No See.

BA2It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog. Life has a funny way of shifting and moving us about, time became a bit rare, and my blog suffered for it. During this time away, I’ve learned a lot and experienced a lot.

When it comes to social media, people come, and people go. Some stay forever while others flit about platforms like busy bees. Sometimes they step away and come back, and sometimes they start fresh.

I’m about to start querying my latest book(Prophecy Ink) out to agents again. This is a process and experience that is complicated and exhausting in every way. I’ll be documenting my journey in the query trenches and share all the ups, downs, and sideways moments. I’ll also post some links to helpful videos and any tidbit advice I’ve picked up along the way.

 

 

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Why Do You Write?

Why do you write (1)

Why Do You Write?

I’ve had a couple people ask me why do I write. One was curious the other actually said: “why do you bother writing? It seems a waste of time.” They were referring to the struggle of pursuing traditional publishing and all the work that goes into writing, revising, and editing.

The easiest answer is simple; I love writing. I will never claim to be the best writer, I will never boast that I’m better than anyone else, and I will never give up writing.

Simply put, writing is part of who I am, and nobody can take that away from me. Sure there are negatives and low points. Rejections suck, editing and revising can be difficult and time-consuming. There are moments when I feel deflated and even a little lost. They are just moments, they don’t last because I tilt my chin up and look forward.

When I started this journey I was so inexperienced, I had no clue what lay ahead for me. The challenges and hurdles that I face, have faced and will face all contribute to a sense of negativity. There are also trolls, those that look to tear writers down, I see them for what they are and dismiss them.

The journey from writing to publishing is a long and arduous adventure. That’s not to say there is nothing good about it. The good far outweighs the bad, it’s just that the bad things tend to stand up and shout louder.

So what’s so good about it? Aside from the sheer joy of writing itself, there is the sense of accomplishment when you finish a piece. For me, even the editing and revision stages are a joy. They can be tedious, but to take a crap sentence and fix or rewrite it into something way better, is rewarding. Taking the effort to query is stressful, there is the potential for rejection, but the reward is in trying. To know I put my work out there, that I’m taking a chance on myself it’s amazing. Then there is the social aspect. Yes, there are the jokes that writers are often loners, but today’s technology allows for introverts to band together and support one another via Twitter, Instagram, and blogs. I’d say Facebook, but we’ve had a falling out, and FB is not on my social-media list at the moment.

The support of others on the same journey as me is most important. Whether they are pursuing traditional publishing, Press publishing or self-publishing, we are all faced with challenges and struggles that need support. Twitter is an excellent place to meet like-minded writers and share, as with all social media platforms be cautious that the people you converse with arent subtly dragging you down with complaints and negativity. There are writing groups that can be found usually through local libraries, you can find a Critique partner who will trade writing with you and you critique each other’s work. This sounds daunting, but in reality, this is a handy tool in your writing toolbelt.

So when I’m asked why do I write, or why do I bother to write?  I have these handy dandy reponses ready to reply:

I write because I can. 

Because I’m good at it and it’s fun.  

Some people like sports, games, or going out to the bars, I like writing.

Because it makes me happy.

I have stories to tell and they are exciting.

Why wouldn’t I?

For the same reason that you breathe.  (this one is my favorite)

From the friendly to the snarky, I have a response ready that’s appropriate to the person asking and how they posed their question.

So, why do you write?

My advice about why to write:
Never forget that the majority of negative people who try to bring you down are jealous. Remember that writing a novel, poem, song or even a blog post is an accomplishment and not everyone has the skill, drive or interest to start let alone finish a project. 

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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Today’s Prompt is Moonlit. https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/10/09/your-daily-word-prompt-moonlit-October-9-2018/

That Is Disgusting – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is That Is Disgusting . Originally posted on Aug 26, 2016 8:04 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I love how gross it is and it reminds me that people can be disgusting. Also, this is a good opportunity to show how I would now revise this story to remove the overly abundant filter words etc.

 That is disgusting

That Is Disgusting

People can be gross, I mean really gross. They do things that make me cringe. (People can still be super gross. That hasn’t changed)

When a character does something disgusting and it’s shown and not told, I will be disgusted too. And that is the entire point of reading a book. I want to be in the story. I want to feel it.

I will highlight filter words adverbs and words ending in ING.

For example:

Billy sat in the back corner of the coffee shop. In one hand, he held his book. With the other, he carefully dislodged a decent clump of moist mucus from his nose. After examining his generous prize, he rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as he continued to read. Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball. He happened to see it plunk into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking. Nobody Witnessed the once in a lifetime accidental shot. Feigning interest in his book, the devil in his head urged him to silence. He watched the snotty woman in a pale green sweater sip her coffee-surprise. Had she not been so incredibly rude to him earlier he might have spoken up. Then again, he might not have.

When the woman finished her present, Billy got up to leave, pausing at her table.

“Good coffee?”

She looked up from her tablet, her face morphed into a sneer and she tutted. “It’s a latte, and I’m still not interested in someone,” she looked him up and down, “like you.” She dismissed him completely giving her tablet her attention.

Billy walked away, a slow, satisfied smile creeping to his lips.

I loved writing this because Billy the bad-guy is as much a victim as the woman who is horrible in her own way.

Today, I would revise the sentences to remove the adverbs etc.

After examining his generous prize,
After he examined his generous prize,

Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball.

I might or might not change the second example with ‘carefully’ that one’s not too bad.

He happened to see it plunk into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.
The ball plunked into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

This one was easy, I get wordy and the first four words were unnecessary. 

This entire next sentence would now be removed. It is unnecessary since I say the same thing worded differently in the next sentence. 

He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking.
He glanced around quickly, nobody was looking.

Feigning interest in his book,
Billy feigned interest in his book,

Sometimes a rewrite of a sentence is needed. 

Had she not been so incredibly rude to him earlier he might have spoken up.
Had she had chosen to be polite to him earlier he might have spoken up.

When the woman finished her present, Billy got up to leave, pausing at her table.
Once she finished her gooey gift, Billy stood to leave and paused at her table.

When I revise with the ING, adverbs, filter words and crutch words highlighted, I often find ways to improve a sentence beyond fixing just the immediate problem words.

She dismissed him completely giving her tablet her attention.
She dismissed him and gave her tablet her attention.

Sometimes removing words that are unnecessary such as “Completely” will strengthen a sentence. Now if I were to “Show” a bit more, I would write it like this:

She dismissed him with a flick of her hand then gave her tablet her attention.

The last example has “walking” in it. A double whammy. Walk and ING. I can do better.

Billy walked away, a slow satisfied smile creeping to his lips.
Billy sauntered away, as a slow, satisfied smile crept to his lips.

While a thesaurus is good to replace some “Walk” out, not all of them need to go and it is important to be careful what word you replace it with. Sashay or traipse would not work here. I don’t replace all incidences of Walk, walked or walking but I do check to see if there is a better alternative.

Billy has a habit. He likes to pick his nose. It’s called rhinotillexis. If he eats it, it’s called Mucophagy. Does the reader need to know the specific detail of what the act is called? Maybe. If it’s relevant to the story. Otherwise, leave it as a quirk or bad habit.

Cringe-worthy things happen all the time. Like when someone hands you money that was carefully tucked away in her abundant sweaty cleavage. What bothers you might not bother someone else.

Here is the newly revised story.

Billy sat in the back corner of the coffee shop. In one hand, he held his book. With the other, he carefully dislodged a decent clump of moist mucus from his nose. After he examined his generous prize, he rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as he continued to read. Without a thought, he flicked the carefully constructed ball. The ball plunked into the cup of coffee on the table next to his.

Nobody Witnessed the once in a lifetime accidental shot. Billy feigned interest in his book, the devil in his head urged him to silence. He watched the snotty woman in a pale green sweater sip her coffee-surprise. Had she had chosen to be polite to him earlier he might have spoken up. Then again, he might not have.

Once she finished her gooey gift, Billy stood to leave and paused at her table.

“Good coffee?”

She looked up from her tablet, her face morphed into a sneer and she tutted. “It’s a latte, and I’m still not interested in someone,” she looked him up and down, “like you.” She dismissed him with a flick of her hand then gave her tablet her attention.

Billy sauntered away, as a slow, satisfied smile crept to his lips.

My advice about grossing out your readers.
If it gives you the heebie-jeebies or turns your stomach, it’s safe to use. My example was a very long way to say, – He picked his nose, flicked it into the shrew’s drink and watched as she drank it. – Blech.

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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Today’s word is Abundant. https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/your-daily-word-prompt-abundant-October-4-2018/

 

Sensible Sensation – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Sensible Sensation . Originally posted on Sep 17, 2016 3:06 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I’ve had to go back and add the five senses to my writing again when I revise. I wanted to remind myself to put it in in the first place.

 together

Sensible Sensation

Immersing the reader in the story is something I still strive to achieve. When writing it’s important to use all five senses. Smell, sight, taste, hear and touch. Now it’s not imperative every scenario have all five, but it can help plump up a drab sentence.

For fun, I’m going to highlight my crutch words and filters words in the examples using orange.

For example

Joe picked up the book from the desk. It was heavy and bound in black leather, it crackled when he opened it.

Yawn. I need to make this book more important, to focus on it and make Joe experience the book. To do this, I use a technique explained in The FAB pencil to describe the book better. This is not going to decrease word count by any means but is a great way to add words if that’s the goal. (While it is a yawn, the only reason I embellished is that the book is important. If the object has no value in the story, the above description is adequate.)

Now for fun, I’m going to add all five senses to this interaction and bring Joe and the book together like lovers on a moonlit night, instead of strangers on an awkward blind date. (This is a good exercise to do, one that I need to do more often.)

Hear

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Touch

Joe picked up the heavy black book from the desk and ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface. The satisfying crackle of the leather floated to his ears as he opened the cover.

Smell

Joe picked up the heavy leather-bound book from the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the room as he opened the cover. He inhaled the musty scent of old paper and ink as it wafted to his nose.

Sight – this isn’t always necessary since he is clearly looking at the book. Depending on how important the book is, will depend on how much time I put into describing it and the interaction. This book is important, so it warrants a better description. At this point, I have decided that picking the book up doesn’t make sense. It’s unnecessary. (New note, sight is tricky, it often causes filter words to jump in and play. In these examples, I’ve already put Satisfying and crackling in and nowadays I’d take them out too. Peered can be a filter word. In most descriptions, if the other four senses are involved sight is implied. Look, looked, looking, see, saw, seen, peer, peered, peering, etc. are all filter words that can weaken a sentence. They also tend to be in sentences that TELL rather than SHOW the actions, emotions, etc.)

Joe peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

Taste – I’m not likely to have him lick or eat the book, that would be weird. Maybe if this was a totally different scenario or he had a paper eating problem it would fit, however for this I’ll keep taste subtle.

Joe licked his salty lips as he peered down at the heavy black book on the desk. He ran his fingers over the hard, smooth surface and opened the cover. The satisfying sound of crackling leather filled the small room, as the musty scent of old paper and ink wafted to his nose.

If I were going to write this again now that I have more experience and know that there are more filter words and crutch words than I did at this point, it would look like this,

Joe’s tongue swept across his sweat salty lips. He traced the embossed letters in the smooth surface with his fingers before he opened the cover. As the nostalgic crackle of the black leather filled the small room, he wrinkled his nose at the musty scent of old paper and ink.

Removing the filter words and my crutch words(words I use too often) I was able to write a paragraph that I’m happy with.

Voila. Now Joe fully interacted with the book. Making him lick his lips also added emotion, depending on what came before this interaction it might be excitement, anticipation or nervousness maybe even fear.

My advice about senseless writing.
Take some time to make important objects blend into the story, make them become part of the experience and not a foreign object explained coldly. Basically, SHOW and don’t TELL. This is still good advice.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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Today’s word is Sonorous. https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/your-daily-word-prompt-sonorous-september-27th-2018/

 

What’s Her Name? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is What’s Her Name? . Originally posted on Aug 3, 2016 8:42 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I’ve been naming a lot of people lately and wanted to talk about it.

Blog name

What’s her name?

I thought naming my baby was difficult. This is worse! (I actually find it fun now, a lot of fun.)

The characters we create are people, but with a twist. I formed every aspect of them, the history of their likes and dislikes. Personality and flaws. Physical appearance and even emotional state. I get to play with their development or regression in the storyline and yes, I can even play God and make them fall in love or snuff them out. *insert evil laugh here* (I still adore this aspect. Having complete control over a character is empowering.)

I found controlling a person in every way made me feel responsible for them and attached. Therefore, a fitting name is important and I needed to get it right.

The thing I discovered with a name is that it can be a well of opportunity for humor, banter and even ridicule between characters and in dialogue. To my surprise, I also found it could shape how a person develops or stays stagnant. People need to grow and change, good or bad it doesn’t matter as long as they learn something along the way.

How do I pick a name? It depends if I have a character already in mind (This is harder) or if I’m creating someone new that I just added because the story demanded it. Minor and sub-minor characters get the close your eyes and pick from a list method. (Baby name books work great for this. Also websites and movie credits.)I was joking the other day about using scrabble pieces or boggle to create names. (I’ve never done this, but it’s still an option.)

I sometimes go for cheesy and name people things like Rose Thourne or I just look around, pick an object, and go with it. I’ve struggled with names and often I’ve asked someone what their favorite name for a girl is, or a boy. Or what name they think is sexy or annoying. Catch my drift? Ooh. Catt Drift. Nice and convenient. Except I like the 1-2 or 2-1 syllable rule for names. That would make her, Catelyn Drift or Catt Drifter. If the first name is one syllable then the last should be two or more and vice versa. (I still like this rule that I happened upon years ago. I don’t always follow it, but I often prefer the sound fo a name that is 1-2 2-1 1-3 3-2, you get the idea, each name should be different syllables. Not always, but it’s what I prefer.)

I actually used a placeholder for two characters until I found the right names for them. One was AAA and the other was SSS for no reason other than they would be easy to search and find and replace. They were my two main characters. (I use this type of placeholder for a lot of things now. Only I keep track or use a standard *** or XXX to hold a place. I never use more than one or two types nowadays to keep things simple.)

I wrote six chapters, hated someone’s name so much I changed it. It’s my story I can do what I please. That’s the beauty of being the all-powerful creator behind the Curtin pulling the strings and blowing smoke. (This still happens. However, a word of caution to blindly using the search and replace features “replace all” if its a name like Art then all words containing art will be changed. For example Art –> Doug. fDougther will replace farther. Simple names can be tricky. In this case, go one by one using the search and replace feature.)

Naming characters can be tricky but it can also be fun or meaningful. I now put more thought into names. I’ll check to see if certain names have typical personalities or how they are perceived. Is it a strong name? Is it a villainous name? Does the name have special meaning or is it a direct translation from an another language that might have meaning or be part of the plot? If it is an ethnic name, I check to make sure it’s not offensive and that I am using it correctly. 

The thing about naming a character is that I tend to pull from experience and history. So if a name seems too familiar or too convenient, I sometimes google it to see if it pops up in something recent, such as a movie or book. I’ll also say the name out loud a few times to see if it sounds good or not. “Hello, my name is Catt Drifter.”

My advice about naming your beloved creations.
If you don’t like it or you’re having a hard time visualizing your character because of the name, change it. Baby name books, baby name websites and ‘popular’ name websites are great. But don’t forget the old outdated names, I have found they make for great nicknames, shortened names or fantastic humor. Ironic names are fun if you know where the character is going or if their past is significant work it in.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
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https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/your-daily-word-prompt-convenient-september-13th-2018/

 

Where Did It Go? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Where Did It Go? . Originally posted on Sep 11, 2016 9:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded of items that disappear.

stumped

Where did it go?

I have found myself stumped more than once while on my writing journey. A stumper of a moment that stands out the most is the loss of a prominent object. Where did it go?

In chapter two, I introduce a characters vice, an object she carries with her always. Let’s say it’s a pocket knife, her security blanket, and foreshadow for other conversations. All of a sudden, I realized two chapters later that the knife disappeared without my authorization and was completely forgotten. Oops.

I need to write it back in, but now the story has progressed without it and I prefer that it’s gone. It was awkward and held her back.  What to do, what to do? Write it out? Change the story? I thought about it and realized it needs to stay, but clearly not for long. Then it struck me, kill the knife off like a beloved, but useless character. This could be fun.

I went back with a sly grin on my face, made a point to have another character to remove it from her presence subtly. Later he presents it to her in a humorous way, both embarrassing her and making her realize just how useless it is and that she needed to let it go. By doing this I killed off the object, that started with meaning, but it’s purpose petered out. An added bonus is that it was a great way to kick-start her character development. Her journey to be less dependent on others and things now out of the gates, her race has just begun. Thanks to the ‘security blanket’ knife being let go, it also symbolized her leaving her old self behind as she leaves it behind as well.

Objects can be as simple as a cup of coffee, or as complicated as a pet. Whatever the case may be the item must be interacted with or discarded tactfully. Here are some items I notice that often go missing by lack of writing the item consistently.

Purses
Wallets
Coffee cups
Cigarettes
Pens
Gum
Briefcase, book, papers or envelopes
Food
Jacket
Tickets
Cellphone
Car keys
Weapons

The point is to notice these magic act items have disappeared and evaluate their worth. Were they there to enhance the character or provide an unnecessary action tag? Do they show a flaw or quirk in character or is it mundane? What I mean is you can’t have someone nursing a cup of joe as if it’s a life-giving device then have them run off to chase something. Where did the coffee go? Make sure to tie it up and set it down or have it spill and the character curse about the hot coffee or the loss of the precious drink. Either way, if you add an interactive item don’t let it vanish.

If it’s a meal that they are participating in, it doesn’t need to be a play by play of every bite savored for its perfection or despised for it’s cheap lackluster. The easiest way to conclude a meal is to have them set their fork and knife down. How they do that can be indicative of the character and emotions. If there are no emotions, say to slam the fork down, toss it nonchalantly or stab the other person, then maybe check to see if that eating scene is important to the story or the character. The same goes for gum or cigarettes, do they dispose of the waste respectfully or do they stick the gum under a table or toss the cigarette butt in someone’s face? I try not to have an object interacted with, be of no use to the story. Use the item, I try not to have a character treat an item the way I would. It is a great way to show emotion or intention.

Opportunity can knock in the most unexpected ways. A forgotten object remembered, can shift the story or characters development in a tangible way. She didn’t ever need the knife, just some confidence and a dose of reality. That I was able to make it more important to her growth as a person, while removing it from the story, was an amazing and unexpected outcome.

My advice about being stumped.
Look at the problem from another point of view, perhaps your plan or direction isn’t the only possible outcome. Have some fun with objects that have no real purpose. Give them a purpose and let them show a characters emotional state, bad habits or intent.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Stump

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https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/your-daily-word-prompt-authorize-september-6th-2018/

 

Get Ready For #PitMad

I have discovered pitch parties on Twitter. There are a few of them out there. If you have a finished, unpublished manuscript that is ready to query you can participate in the pitch parties.

What are they?  In one tweet, 280 characters, you pitch your manuscript. That’s it. Literary agents and publishers will read the tweets and if they like your pitch that is considered a request for materials. You get to query them specifically by their request.

Often with this type of query request, you might get a personalized rejection, or if you’re lucky and they like your query, then they will request more materials to read.

I’ve participated in a few and had 2 agents request partials and 3 publishers. There is no guarantee, but it is fun.

is this Thursday! Are you ready? Make sure you read the full rules here! Happy Pitching!

pitmad.jpg

It’s important to pay attention to the time. EDT. if not sure what your time zone is compared, you can google it.

It is also essential to follow the rules. People will notice if you break the rules. The agents and publishers will notice. The general consensus is, if you can’t follow simple twitter pitch party rules, you might not be easy to work with. After all, you want to make a good impression.

I will be pitching for Prophecy Ink.

How do you write a pitch? I can get into the details, or you can watch this excellent short video at iWriterly by Meg Latorre.  Click on image to see the video and her blog.
meg latorre.pnghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7mZcyZU1JM#action=share

There are three things you want to highlight. Character, story and the stakes. It’s not a lot of space to work with, so the pitch needs to be compact.

Here are some that I used last time. I’ll be writing three new ones since twitter doesn’t like repeat pitches.

Betrayed by the police as a teen, Moira must now learn to trust a detective who can see her magic death-predicting tattoo. His presence puts Moira in the path of the assassins he’s tracking. With death all around them and chasing them, they must find the truth. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Moira gets three clues, two choices and only one small moment to change the prophesized death of a stranger. Assassins hunt her for defying the PROPHECY INK. She must learn the difference between saving lives to be free and saving a life so they may be free. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Moira doesn’t want to watch another person die horribly, nor to have assassins hunt her. She doesn’t want her life to fall apart beyond repair. It’s time for her to step up and find out who she is and what she’s made of. Oh, and save some lives along the way. #A #LF #F #PitMad

Each pitch is under 280 characters. That includes spaces and the #tags. I will write three new ones for this pitch. I have about 24 written for this story already.

I think it’s important to have three very different pitches. That way there is a better chance of catching someone’s attention.

It’s also fun to see what other people are writing about and how they pitch their story.

My advice about twitter pitch parties
If you’re querying, you should check these out. They are fun and a good way to get the attention of agents and publishers. As with anything, if you get a request, do your research, make sure they are legit. Have fun!

-Sheryl

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/your-daily-word-prompt-consensus-september-4th-2018/

Getting A Little Touchy Feely – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Getting A Little Touchy Feely . Originally posted on Sep 9, 2016 9:55 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded about using variations of feel in writing. I know I do. 

touchy-feely

Getting A Little Touchy Feely

Feel, feeling and felt. Three destructive little filter words. These words shift perspective from the story and into the character. It’s awkward to read and leaves a reader feeling disjointed even if they aren’t aware. I don’t write in first person perspective so these words in particular can cripple a sentence fast.

What to do about them. I use them a lot when I write, it’s how I get out what needs to be said, what I need to express. It’s lazy and I’m okay with that because it won’t stay that way. I searched my manuscript and found the following incidences:

Bia-Atlas:
Felt 67

Feel 112
Feeling/feelings 23

Prophecy Ink 1st draft:
Felt 89
Feel 97
Feeling/feelings 39

Not all of them are filter word incidences. Within conversation or dialogue, they are fine or as a verb unrelated to emotions. These three are often (At least in my case) plunked into wordy sentences or super lazy ones.

Since I wrote this I’ve done more editing and found better ways to highlight other errors and filter words. I’ll highlight the ones I missed in these examples in hot pink.

For example.

Joe put the sandwich together hastily. He felt the hunger pangs in his stomach. It had been ten hours since he remembered to eat last. He left the house with the printout to meet Sasha. He was excited to show her the new proof and felt certain she would believe him now. (52)

There’s a whole lot of telling going on. Let me try that again.

Finally, Joe found some undeniable proof after searching eight hours straight without even a snack. His stomach growled as he picked up the printout, his hastily made ham sandwich, and ran out the door to meet Sasha. (37)

 That was better, less wordy too. Here’s a mistake I make all the time.

Joe dragged his feet along the path, feeling the course gravel scuffed the soles of his shoes. (17)

There is no reason to feel through his shoes and yet I am guilty of having characters ‘feeling’ unnecessary things.

Joe dragged his feet, scuffing his shoes along the coarse gravel path. (12)

See now I would not have that ING in there. Scuffing. 

The coarse gravel scraped against Joe’s shoes as he dragged his feet along the path. (15)

Editing and revising is a learned skill. Over time I’ve learned to examine sentences closer, to take a good hard look at the value of each word. 

Joe is an emotional person so writing his feelings can be tricky.

Joe looked at Sasha then back to the path. He felt frustrated with her constant lack of interest in him lately. She just wouldn’t listen to reason, he was right this time and he knew it. He even had the proof in his hand to show her. He felt angry when she sighed dismissively and now he was ready to snap. (61)

In that one, I made a few oopsies. Filter words, wrong perspective, and wordiness. Instead of showing, I told his emotions.

Joe glanced at Sasha as he clenched his jaw. She was ignoring the hard evidence that he worked hard to find. She rolled her eyes when he tried to show her again. When she sighed dismissively, he clenched his fists, crumpling the precious printout. (44)

That’s a lot of clenching for one paragraph and still, there are some weak sentences. This is why I’ve started revisiting old posts. I wanted to show that as writers, we are constantly growing, learning and changing. This is how I might revise that revision now.

The muscles tightened in Joe’s jaw as Sasha ignored his hard found evidence. She dismissed the second attempt with an eye-roll, and when the third won him a heavy sigh, he crumpled the precious printout in his fist. (38)

Technically that brought that example down from the original 61 to 38. Not bad. Especially since this is a wordy manuscript that needs a lot of TLC.

Sometimes it’s not about word count and more about beefing up empty sentences. I’m going to highlight my filter words for these in pink as well. Let’s see how many make it through my “revisions.”

Feeling tired, Sasha crawled into the bath. The hot water felt divine. (12)

It’s like whiplash. In her mind, out and then back in. To fix this I would add words, it’s not always about keeping the word count down. That and it was a very boring sentence. The temptation to overdo it here is strong. Before I learned to make every word count, (Haha at least I try to) and to stop double describing things, it might have looked like this.

Stifling a yawn of exhaustion, Sasha eased herself into the hot jasmine scented bath. The heat from the hot water and the scent of flowers soothing her tired body. (28)

Gee, do you think the water is hot? Baths usually are duh, I’m not sure, and it’s not super clear, but she might possibly be tired. *Rolling my own eyes.

Yawning, Sasha eased into the jasmine-scented bath. The heat from the water soothing her tired muscles. (17)

There much better. Only five words added from the original and it’s not hurting my brain to read it. Except I have two ING’s in there. Now that I’ve had a lot more practice at this let’s see if I can fix it.

Sasha stifled a yawn as she eased into the jasmine-scented bath. Her sore body rejoiced as she relaxed from the heat. (21)

I could easily reduce it back down if I needed to, but sometimes more is better than less in a fugacious moment such as this one.

My advice about feelings.
Everyone has them, good or bad just make sure to keep them outside the character’s body or mind. Unless you are writing in first-person, show the feeling don’t tell it. he clenched his jaw (instead of) he felt frustrated.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

I have been crazy busy lately. With PitchWars now open to submissions, (Until Wednesday Aug.29th) I have submitted, and that is now off my plate of things to do/worry about. Not that I was up at night worrying or anything, but it was on my long list of stuff to get done.

I haven’t had much time to write lately, not that I’m a fast writer, I’m hoping to find some time to work on a project that has been patiently waiting while I prepped for PitchWars and through the re-write.

I want to talk a bit about re-writing and how it’s different from revisions and editing.

Editing is the process of correcting grammar, sentence structure, tone/voicing, errors and the little mistakes that hide within the words.

Revising is the process of altering sentences, paragraphs and chapters even to correct story errors, plot holes, character flaws or even add to the story by writing in better dialogue, scenes or descriptions. I’ll often be on a roll with writing and not want to stop and describe something like the desk or the room, and I’ll put [describe desk] or [describe room] so that I can go back and add the descriptions when I’m revising. Sometimes if I know something isn’t working and I want to come back to it I’ll mark it with XXX or *** that way I see and remind myself I wanted to look closer at that text.

Are Editing and Revising different? Yes, can they be done at the same time? Of course. I do both together all the time. I’ll often go through a document with a secondary grammar/spell check program such as Grammarly, and then I’ll use the search and replace feature of my word program to highlight issues. I’ll highlight Filter words, LY (for adverbs, there is no way to highlight the whole word, so ly works just fine.) I’ll highlight ING, and words I use far too often such as but, or perhaps. With them highlighted I can address them as I revise.

A Re-Write of a book is different from Editing and Revising but encompasses both. Re-writing can be done however an author wants. They can read a paragraph and wing it. I couldn’t do that myself, I like what I wrote the first time and don’t want to confuse myself. I like to do a line by line re-write. That can be one sentence at a time, one paragraph, block of dialogue, or even a chapter.

What I do.

I will have two documents. (original is saved as a 1st draft.) The first is a copy of the original that needs to be re-written. The second is a blank document formatted correctly. I will copy a segment from the original(taking note of word count if I’m striving for lower numbers and change that segment on the copy to say, purple.) Then I’ll paste it into the new document as plain text, so it’s black.

Then I will read each line carefully, in an attempt to get the most from a sentence. Then once I’ve removed crap sentences, written cleaner sentences and checked for repetition, I will highlight the new segment(take note of new word count.) and I’ll change it to say light grey. Then I’ll repeat by copying the next bit(change it to purple on the copy) then paste as plain text to the new document.

What’s the point of changing the color you ask? Good question. It keeps my place in my original document, and I can clearly see what I’ve done. Same on the new document. If I have to leave halfway through a paragraph, I want to come back and know if it’s done or not. Why in different colors? I personally like the documents to look different even though one is a work in progress and obviously different. It just makes me feel better to see the difference.

What’s the point of noting the word count? Whether I’m looking to beef up my word count or bring it down, keeping track is fun and useful. With this one, I’m striving to bring it down. So with each segment, if I can have it lower than the original, I’m winning. If it’s longer, I can take a closer look. They aren’t always lower, but I strive to bring the count down with each segment. I also have a handy dandy spreadsheet where I track chapter by chapter. Once I’m done re-writing a chapter, I will track the original chapter’s word count against the new re-write. I also have it configured to tell me the total words removed ‘thus far’ and a countdown to my goal word count. This helps me stay on task with a clear goal in mind.

My last post was about some messy sentences that needed to be fixed with some examples. Popping Inflated Sentences, I’ll revisit this idea once I have some more examples to share. For now, it’s back to the re-write.

My advice about re-writing
Sit on the work for at least 3 weeks before attempting a re-write. The longer, the better. 1-3 months or longer even. This will let you reset your brain, so when you go back, you have fresh eyes. I know some will say “Nah, I can do it right away.” You probably can’t. Trust me, this advice exists for a reason. At least write something new or read a book before tackling a re-write. 

-Sheryl

 

Unidentified Fervent Outburst! – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Unidentified Fervent Outburst . Originally posted on Sep 15, 2016 10:40 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I saw someone with a published book who used what seemed like a billion exclamation points and I found it hard to connect with the story because I was distracted.. 

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

When I wrote my first draft, everyone that raised their voice or yelled had one of these beauties ending their sentence, ! The exclamation point. I am also a narrative question junkie. I must confess, I used punctuation incorrectly. (By incorrectly I mostly mean too much.) I probably still do from time to time, especially the overused exclamation point.

Why use an exclamation point? What does exclamation mean? Exclaim means to shout out, blurt or say with force. The exclamation point is used to emphasize an outburst of vocal emotion.

So why is it overused? Some older writings popularized it by replacing emotional reactions with ! instead of showing the emotional reaction.  Now with social media, it is used as often as a vowel. When we write an email, post, text or whatever when emotionally charged the exclamations multiply like Mogwai in water.

!!! The triple threat !!! These triplets drag along a few more if someone is screaming or whatever. I don’t do this ever. One is more than enough and even then, is it necessary? I already knew about the three punctuation in a row rule from work. !!! ??? is spam material and a horrible way to express feeling in writing. Emails containing them can be flagged by spam filters and firewalls. Also, this type of expression can be viewed as aggressive, rude or as screaming. Also never ever use them on a resume or technical report.

Mixology 101.  Mixing the punctuation. Nope, nope and nope. Never !?!  ?!?  Again, one punctuation is enough!

Inappropriate tone. “I didn’t know!” – What tone of voice is that?
Angry? Snotty? Confused? Desperate? Sad? Remorseful?
I find these all the time in my rough drafts.
Unidentified fervent outbursts.
What do I do about them? Dress them up and show the emotion behind the exclamation point. It’s not always about yelling.

Sasha slammed her fist on the desktop. “I didn’t know!”

“I didn’t know!” Sasha hid her face with her hands.

Sasha covered her mouth with her hand. “I didn’t know!” She couldn’t look away.

The tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know!”

No matter what she is yelling. Does she need to be yelling? 

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know.”

Removing the ! changed the tone completely. Now if she wasn’t supposed to yell It’s still not clear.

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know.” She said from behind her hand.

Okay, so that’s a bit better. What if I wanted to show anger without yelling?

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch with a scowl. “I didn’t know.” 

Moving on. I will use the “Find” feature to see how many incidences of punctuation I have. !  ?   then I’ll highlight them using the “find & replace” feature if I need to weed some out. as I do in “Well colour me silly.”

Rhetorically speaking.  Ending rhetorical questions with an exclamation point is tempting and common. Also unnecessary. Rhetorical questions can be ended in periods or question marks. It’s not a real question and I’m not yelling or blurting it and it’s usually obvious enough that the exclamation point is redundant.

My conversations were littered with them.

From my first draft of BiaAtlas before I edited it at all there were:

! x 120 
? x 1260 (Yes seriously. I have an addiction to questions in the narrative. Gross.)
As it is right now I have them down to:
! x 86
? x 1073
Clearly, I still need to visit those and make sure they are necessary.

So when do I use them or leave them? Only when it’s important. I use the search/find feature and take a good hard look. Here are some examples of okay use.

Excitement – “Wow that’s amazing!”
Urgent – “You have to go, now!”
Astonished – “I can’t believe you just said that!”
Vehemence – “I hate this!”
Shock – “You didn’t!”
Warning – “Look out!”

And so on. It’s not rocket science.  I personally don’t enjoy seeing them in abundance in my writing if they can be avoided I take them out. I was told once that the reader isn’t likely an idiot and if you write well they will know the person is yelling without !!! or saying ‘he yelled’.  It is my job to bring the reader in and settle them into the story and let them experience it. Tossing “!” in every time someone talks is annoying. Imagine if we actually spoke that way, we’d be yelling and blurting things constantly and over dramatizing a simple conversation.

For fun in the following two examples, I’m going to highlight in green the things I would highlight during my edits.

Joe slogged down the hall his feet thumping loudly on the floor, but he couldn’t feel them. “I hate this!”
“I can’t believe you drank that much!” Sasha giggled holding him up.
“I know right!” Joe said. “I never do. What will my mother think!”
“Oh no! You had better not go home tonight! Crash at my place I’ll send her a text.”
“I’m gonna puke!!!” Joe said doubling over and vomiting the beer and pizza on the floor.

I feel anxious just reading that and not because it’s tense, I’m not so sure it should be. NOt to mention how awkward that was. Let me try again.

With numb feet, Joe slogged down the hall. “I hate this!”
“I can’t believe you chugged five beers.” Sasha shook her head and giggled at his slurred speech. She held him steady, moving toward the exit quickly.
“I know right! What will my mother think?”
Sasha’s eyes widened at the prospect of dropping him at home. “Crash at my place, I’ll text her to let her know.”
Joe burped and gagged. “I’m gonna puke.”
“Oh no.” Sasha pulled him along faster, outside would be better.
The fresh air did little to help him as he gave his pizza and beer to the sidewalk.

Much better, less ! made for a better conversation. In my opinion. I also showed my affinity for ING and LY. Ugh. At least in my second attempt, I had fewer occurrences. I was okay with Joe’s punctuation because he was actually blurting and raising his voice.

My advice about exclaiming everything with exclamation marks.
Don’t!

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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