Welcome to another manic Wednesday! It’s great to have you with us on this humid Pennsylvania morning. Hopefully, one of those Central Pennsylvania thunder storms will roll in soon and cool things off.
One of the hardest things for me to do is to edit my writing. I can catch mistakes in other’s pieces, but I miss too much when I’m checking my own – not sure why. Jerry Jenkins, notable Christian author, lists several facts to be considered when checking your own story. Where can you improve?
Have you: Maintained a single Point of View per scene.
Avoided clichés—not just words and phrases, but also situations.
Resisted the urge to explain, showing rather than telling. For example, not, “It’s cold,” which is merely flat, telling narrative, but rather, “She shivered,” which is descriptive language, showing a character in action, letting the reader experience the story and deduce what is going on without being told.
Primarily used said to attribute dialogue, rather than any other option.
Included specifics to add the ring of truth.
Avoided similar character names or even the same first initials to keep characters distinct. o Avoided specialized punctuation, typestyles, font sizes, ALL CAPS, italics, bold facing, etc.
I have to admit, I never thought about some of these. Maybe you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time. Anyway, ponder this until we meet again. See you next week!
Happy late Memorial Day to everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful time of relaxation with family and friends – or just a time to kick back and lessen the pressure and stress that so easily creeps up on us. Now, are you ready to dig in for the rest of the summer?
Let’s revisit the first rule of writing. Show, don’t tell. We know what we’re supposed to do, but do we – at least with consistency? Let me give you five ways you might be telling when you could be showing.
Giving too much information at one time may cause telling, especially relating to backstory. Rather than dump the whole thing on us at one time. Spread the information throughout the story. Try to not use more than three sentences at a time. Dialogue can be effective in revealing information pertinent to your piece.
Don’t get into the habit of always using words to express your character. Sometimes, things are better off left unsaid. Let the action make the statement.
Writing is about sharing your character intimately with your reader. There needs to be an emotional connection. When emotion is lacking, it may be because you’re telling too much. Back off and show it. A beta reader might be helpful. It’s hard for us, as authors, to know how our material affects an outsider. We’re too close to the story to see straight at times.
Could it be your scenes are too short? If every scene feels like an introduction or summary, then you may have a telling problem. Telling takes fewer words, and it leaves scenes feeling like they end before they even begin. It’s like telling a friend the plot of a scary movie versus making them see it themselves. You can tell a story in a minute, but the movie takes at least an hour.
A story is like a puzzle. It comprises various pieces the reader needs to put together. If there are no puzzle pieces for the reader to apply, you’ve probably told too much. Don’t spoon-feed your readers. They want to do the work, investigate for themselves, and discover the secrets within. Showing allows them to do this. Telling takes the work – and the fun out of it. No doubt you’ll lose your reader.
Well, there you have it! Stay safe and healthy until next time.
Weather Report – Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Finally, we get a break in the weather in Central PA. Great temps in the 70s, a mild breeze and clear, blue skies with sunshine everywhere. This is perfect for me. Sunshine? Think about the quote below.
Now, on to business. For writing, what is your ideal setup? Well, we all know (at least we’re told) we need a comfortable place with good lighting, etc., but how do you personalize that? Sometimes you have to make the best of an imperfect situation.
Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’m writing this in cramped quarters – anything but ideal. I’m working off of a small corner desk, maybe four feet long and two feet wide. My laptop is out of commission at the moment. Hopefully, I will have it fixed soon. Anyway, I have spread across this tiny desk a desktop computer (and believe me it takes up space on the entire desktop). Of course, that desktop needs to be shared with a full-size printer. Wires and cords are everywhere!
Maybe I have a laptop after all. Since there’s no room on the desk, I have to balance the keyboard on my lap. It just doesn’t cut it. Every time I hit a key, it shifts. Words per minute? Probably about ten!
So what would be the perfect setup for me? I dream of an L-shaped desk. Maybe even a U-shaped desk where I’m surrounded with usable surfaces. A place where the lighting is dispersed evenly over the entire workspace, without shadows here and there.
Let’s get rid of the cords. Give me a desk where the cords can safely be tucked behind the desk, out of the way and out of sight. Give me a laptop that actually works. Towers aren’t my thing.
Okay, so my setup isn’t exactly perfect, but it works. That’s all I need. So tell me, what’s your ideal setup? That’ all for now. I’m going to go enjoy some sunshine. See you next week.
First, the weather report – With the world in mass disarray, even the weather is confused. It is unseasonably cold in PA today. Overcast with frost warnings through tomorrow. This is May, not November. Oh, well.
It seems everyone is offering deals of one sort or another. I guess maybe it’s Memorial Day – maybe. Any way, here’s mine. Go to the Books and Resource page and pick out any three books. Total cost with free shipping – $15.00. That’s the price you’d pay for one copy of The Voice, my friend!
But here’s the trick. The Books and Resources page can’t be set up for that kind of special, so that means some extra work for you. To earn your special deal, you’ll have to send me your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get your books in the mail along with your discounted bill. You don’t even have to pay for them first. That’s my deal, Memorial Day or not.
By the way, Hang in there. Spring will be coming soon – I think!
It’s a little chilly in Central PA today, After a week of 60 degree weather, we’re back in the 40s. That’s okay. Warmer days are coming. I know it’s been weeks since I’ve posted, but I’m back in the saddle. However, the horse isn’t out of the gate yet.
I’ve spent the last month fighting COVID. Nine days in the hospital and the quarantine time makes for a long, slow, yet necessary recovery. I’m feeling stronger every day. But I‘m still not where I need to be.
One thing I find frustrating is the brain fog that accompanied the virus. My memory is not as sharp and my creativity seems to have temporarily disappeared. I have stories and articles that are left undone. Hopefully, as my strength improves, so will the things I love.
So this is just an update to let you know I’m still here. My brain hurts too much to think – lol. I will be back to normal (whatever that is) soon and we’ll get some discussions going. Have a great week and stay COVID free. See you next week.
March came in like a lion. Maybe that’s a good sign. She’ll be leaving like a lamb. Well, we’ll see. One thing is for sure. Each day is getting us closer to warmer weather and sunny skies. As a matter of fact, as I sit here typing away, I can’t keep my eyes off the cloudless, blue sky outside my window. Okay – enough of the weather report. Let’s move on.
Ellie sat at the dining room table staring out through the French doors as a gentle, September breeze filled the room. Autumn’s golden garb was just beginning to clothe the mountains in the distance. She wondered how life ever got so complicated. Her gaze shifted to the note in her left hand. It read in part -“Dear Ellie, . . . I never meant for this to happen. I don’t know how it all went wrong. I know I’ve caused you so much pain, and I can never make it right. Life has gotten to be too hard too fast. I’m leaving, and I won’t be back.”
Thus begins, Dear Ellie. Ellie Branson’s perfectly pieced life is forever changed by the kidnapping of her daughter. But it’s not what you think. The cost of fighting to find Carrie-Anne carries a tremendous price tag. The question is – will it be worth it?
Hey, guess what! I’m overstocked with Dear Ellie. So what do you do with overstock? I don’t know about you, but I give it away. I know. I know. That’s bad for business, but honestly, it’s not doing anybody any good sitting in storage. So here’s my offer to you. Send me your address through the Contact page, and I’ll send you a free copy of Dear Ellie. Don’t order it through the Books and Resources page as it will ring up as full price. That’s about as simple as it gets.
If you have old books you no longer use, whether it be overstock or just unwanted books, you may want to check out https://www.franklinmediabooks.com/overstock-books/. I just discovered it so I don’t know much about it, but it may be just what you’re looking for. On the other hand, it may not. I’m neither promoting or recommending it – just something I came across. Anyway. . .
Next week is just around the corner, so I’ll see you then!
Is it ready yet? It’s happened to every serious writer. You start a novel or even a short story. You have a good idea, and maybe a great ending. But that’s all – and nothing else is coming to you. If you’re just starting your outline, that’s okay. But what if you’re 50 pages in? You’ve worked hours upon hours working on the next bestseller, and then . . .
Well, there’s nothing. What do you do? I can tell you this much. I will finish it If I’ve invested enough time to write 50 pages. I will not waste those hours.
Take a break – Don’t waste time agonizing over what you don’t have. I’ve found you can’t force storylines. Sometimes you just have to let them marinate. Take a walk. Watch TV (well, maybe not). Go shopping. Do whatever you have to do to get your mind off the story. That sounds counterproductive, but it may just surprise you when you get back to the keyboard.
Read – Maybe reading someone else’s material will kick-start your creative process. Reading another’s inspiring work might just lead you to your own inspiration – and your next chapter.
What if – After you’ve had a break and have refreshed your mind, try playing the “what if” game. What if this happened? What if that happened? What if he did this? What if she said that? What if they went here? What if they couldn’t go there? The possibilities are unlimited. Eventually, you’ll be able to break the ice and the story will flow again.
Hey, did I mention after a week of temperatures in the teens, it’s going to reach 52 degrees. Spring is getting closer – I think. See you next week.
Just a quick note to let you know there will be no Wednesday update this week. I will be involved in a very special project at our church all week. I’ll be off the computer as well, so if you need to email me, just know I will get back to you as soon as possible, but it won’t be for a few days. Sometimes things come up, and this is one of them. See you on the 24th.
We’ll skip the weather this week. Let’s talk politics – no, let’s not. How about video games? – no let’s not. Wait a second. Maybe there’s something to learn here. I’m not into video games even it helps my writing, but I did come across an interesting article at Inkitt. I never thought about it before, but there are actually games out there that can help you develop your writing. Anybody use video games to spark your writing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you’re into video games, you might find these interesting. Check them out. Here are just a few.
Crazy as it sounds, Among Us is based on one’s ability to lie and get away with it. It may not send a moral message, but it might be a trait to infuse into one or more of your characters. Inkitt puts it this way,
“Learning to spot lies and invent your own is a priceless talent for any writer. Honing your focus by minding not only your own business, but everyone else’s can improve your character-handling skills. Ever have a side character disappear halfway through the book? Among Us may break you of that curse. Best of all, Among Us will teach you how to write villains, especially the nefarious, back-stabbing variety. Just listen to your friends lie and watch how they sway crews to vote out their saviors. It’s a primer on treachery.”
If horror is your game, then perhaps Outlast is literally your game. The Inkitt take –
“Horror is a messy, broad genre. Many doors lead to a night awake with the light on, but not every door serves every reader. Essentially, different thrills chill different readers. Outlast is worth playing because it gets just about everyone in the end. While there are plenty of other brilliant horror games, none sustain dread quite as well as this one. It’s deeply disturbing, frightening, tense, and even gag-inducing at times. The game juggles so many horror tricks its impossible to see where the next blow is coming from until it’s landed.
“Consider Outlast a shortcut to the screaming depths of your animal brain. If you can manage not to have a heart attack, it’s worth taking notes on the imagery, scares, and set pieces you hate the most.”
Red Dead Redemption:
Into writing a series? Check out Red Dead Redemption. As I said, I don’t play video games much, but the idea intrigued me. I have no first-hand experience. You’re left to do your own research, but this is what Inkitt says.
“Ever wanted to write a series? This game isn’t just a good story. It’s a good story plus a few more. The overarching plot, dotted as it is with full-storied side missions, lays the groundwork for what could serve as a perfectly functional collection of episodic novels. Plenty of other open world adventure games do this, too, but I would argue Red Dead Redemption does a better job telling its main tale.
“The story’s end isn’t just an objective (kill the dragon, beat your rival, rescue the princess). No spoilers, of course, but the story is everything at the end of the day, no matter how much players enjoyed their side quests, and that’s ultimately what makes or breaks a series.”
You may also want to take a look at Death Stranding and the Bioshock Collection. Death Stranding is said to be “one of the strangest AAA games to ever hit the market” – a mix of psychology and horror. If that’s your bag, go for it!
Inkitt says of the Bioshock Collection, “All the Bioshock games do at least one thing very, very well: they use the environment to tell the story. This includes critical world-building and game mechanic tips, but the closer players look, the more they discover.”
Okay. Enough on the games. Just something to consider. Whatever you can use to improve your writing, use. If the games help – wonderful. If not, move on to whatever does. Either way, just write, and I’ll see you next week.
I’m not sure why I always start my blog with a weather report. Maybe it’s just the first thing I notice when I awake. I peek out the window to see what’s happening. Maybe I can feel the weather change in my bones. Maybe it’s just part of my writer’s psyche. Who knows? All I know is the winds are high. The temperature is in the low teens. And the snow accumulation has reached about 15 inches. It makes for a wonderful day of writing. I hope you all are safe and healthy as we’ve hit the mid-week mark.
Last week I mentioned some editors that I find helpful, specifically ProWritingAid and Grammarly. Let me say I am not paid a dime for recommending any products on this site. They are just products I use and find to be extremely helpful. Your experience may be quite different. This week, I’d like to introduce you to FreeWriter, if you’ve not already met. You can get more information by going to the website at http://www.freewritersoftware.com, but here’s my take.
FreeWriter is not an editor in the same line as Grammarly or ProWritingAid. It is more of an organizing tool to help you develop, organize, and write a clean manuscript. It’s similar to Scrivener, but the name says it all. It’s free. I’ve not used Scrivener regularly, but from what I can tell, there isn’t much difference, except for the price.
FreeWriter allows you to break down your productivity chapter by chapter. The word count is always accessible and comparable to the other chapters. It makes it easy to plan the length of a story or article. It is especially good for creative writing. You can keep a character file on as many characters as you like and watch them grow as you write your story. Places and things can also be developed and updated in the same way.
What I find to be helpful is the Thoughts tab. From there, I can outline the next chapter or scene quickly and get on with the writing. I’ve always been a pantster, but what I’ve found is by keeping a chapter ahead in my planning, it is actually easier to write when the time comes. I can also store passing thoughts to add to the manuscript later. It connects to the web making research easier. It’s all right there. To make writing even more organized, there are labels, sticky notes, and index cards. The card holder allows you to keep things in order making it easy to just flip through as you write.
Okay. That’s my take on FreeWriter. Take it for what it’s worth – Free. Try it. It may work for you. Then again, you may not want to bother with it at all. Either way, I’ll see you next week with more. If you’re in the northeast, enjoy the snow, freezing temperatures and high winds.