Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday - Puncutation

This one is for pretty much everyone - writers, readers, students, anybody who plays with the language frequently and at times gets a bit puzzled about punctuation usage.  How To Use Punctuation Correctly is there to help.

Seriously, check it out! 

And while you're at it here are a couple of blogs worth visiting as well:

Marcy Kennedy Science Fiction & Fantasy Author 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writers Writing For Pleasure

“Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure. Emotion is easily transferred from the writer to the reader.” ~ Joseph Joubert  

As a writer have you ever thought about that? Do you believe it?

Personally I do.

Over the years as a writer I’ve discovered the more emotion I put into the writing the more it connects on a very deep level with readers. Thus my general agreement with the statement above, though I’m not quite sure ‘pleasure’ is the right word for it unless referencing to the actual act of writing itself. Getting caught in the thrall of a story, fingers racing along the keyboard as it spills out onto the screen (knowing all the while there’ll be some heavy editing later).

As to the rest, the roiling, spitting, balled-up, pacifistic, loving, hateful emotions, I wouldn’t call them pleasure, but more like the intensity scale. Different emotions evoke different feelings, obviously. You aren’t going to write a gentle love scene with a backdrop of hateful and cruel emotions (at least not in most circumstances). You probably won’t have a murder backed up by the equivalent of violins and roses.

What we have to consider as writers is our life’s experiences (no doubt where the ‘write what you know’ phrase came from). From birth we experience the whole human range of emotion. As we grow we experience illness, injury, loss, love, physical and emotional pain. We absorb it and express it in a great variety of ways. The trick for the writer is to draw on that life experience that fits with the scene being written and inject it into your story for your reader to be drawn into the world you’ve created because he or she has ‘been there’.

And in that Joseph Jourbert is correct. When you dig deep, when you strike the right vein, you know it. And when a reader tells you “it was just like being there” or it was ‘stirring’ or your writing made them cry, or laugh, you’ve hit paydirt.

So from all of this we garner today’s writing tip and it’s nothing so straight forward or simple like how to edit or grammar or how to use your spell check properly. Nope, this one is a lot more heavily on you, the writer. This time I’m suggesting the need to take the time with a story; to sit back and consider what parts of yourself you can inject into the writing. What experiences you’ve had that you can pass on to your characters and breath real life into your writing. And how it needs to be written so all of those feelings, all of that experience, comes across through the written page to touch the reader’s heart and soul.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Writers Writing - Pondering the Whys

I use Grammarly to check plagiarism because a twist in the tale must be more than another writer's kink.


Fiction in particular.

Why is it we do it? Why do we write?

Yes, we want to tell stories. We enjoy that part.

But doesn’t it seem new writers are forever asking established writers about how they work? I admit to that same curiosity when I was a new writer. There is that element of curiosity for me. Now it seems the new writer wants to absorb that information like a sponge; whether the well-known, respected writer prefers to write by hand or at a computer; whether he or she prefers to write in solitude or at a coffee shop; whether that writer writes into the wee hours of the morning or prefers the rising dawn as a time to write; whether said writer outlines or wings it. All of that like knowing such tidbits will somehow transfer by osmosis the golden ring of success. It seems the new writer believes/hopes that if he or she can just understand the mechanical workings of a ‘successful’ author then that method can be duplicated and create a similar bubble of success for the new writer.

Big news! Surprise!  There is no magic wand, no perfect formula, no recipe if meticulously followed, that will guarantee writing success. Heck, nothing to even guarantee mediocrity. There’s no important “thing” such as pen vs. computer, large desk vs. small or daylight vs. darkness that will hurl said writer straight into success.

Nope, for that we have to circle back to where this post began.

It’s why we write.

If the only thing driving your writing forward is the desire for ‘success’ then you might not be in the right field, or perhaps you need to get into commercial writing of some stripe. Maybe fiction writing isn’t for you.

I think it’s safe to say we’d all like to be the ‘big name’ writers who pull in the big bucks and can write comfortably from whatever environment we choose. Reality check. Only a very small percentage of fiction writers are able to make their living at the craft. And, by the way, luck plays a very large role in which writers actually become those ‘big name’ writers. It isn’t that those said ‘big names’ aren’t talented, but what had to be added to that was being at the right place at the right time with the right story and the right drive to get there.

So what to do? Keep writing. Write what you love and put yourself out there. Your manuscript won’t be published, your screenplay optioned if you leave it in a drawer.

Don’t expect to uncover some magic formula that creates success. If you’re curious about other writer’s methods, ask, sure, why not? Incorporate some of those methods if it makes you feel better, but remember that ultimately your success lies with you. Methods of writing don’t have much to do with it, other than simply getting it done. So gather your tools. Write, create, tell stories. Be in the right place at the right time with the right story.

No matter HOW you do it, writing the story is the only path that will lead you to writer’s success.

And Speaking of tools: 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writers And Readers Websites Wednesday - typing tutors

It appears we need to be able to type even more than we need to be able to put pen to paper.  

Fortunately for me, I learned to touch type many years ago and type at a comfortable 100 words per minute. That speeds things up when writing ~ and did so greatly during the years I had to work in an office to support my writing habit. Now I can just burn up the keyboard at my home office.

Take my advice, go see about the online typing tutors (free) at 

Get that speed up, it can help you in a whole lot of ways.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Writer’s Questions

Question: what is it?

What are you writing about, who are you writing about, when are you writing about?

Straight forward questions, but ones an ambitious writer needs to take into account when preparing to write a novel or in the midst of spinning a tale.

 I’ve been a writer for some years now and published frequently and I can remember  clearly writing entire scenes and describing little or nothing, not pinning down a character’s character and more distracting missteps.

Questions create a story and if you, as a writer, don’t answer those questions you’ll lose your readers. “What if…” is a big question. So is “What would someone do if”… or “if the world was a much different place in these ways, what would happen...”

Questions, so many questions, but isn’t that our nature, to want to unravel ‘mysteries’?

There are many questions big and small that arise when the writer is writing. And writing (any story, whether screen script, novel, or short story) is a tricky business.

 So, here are some of the “big” questions.

Where is your scene taking place? Right, should be a ‘duh’ question, but so many times the writer knows very well where the scene is taking place, he or she can see it clearly in mind’s eye, but surprise, your reader can’t read your mind. How about a hint; just a touch of where things are happening, maybe from the protagonist’s point of view.  And just because you tell us it’s a subway platform, don’t leave out the other senses. What does it smell and sound like? Is it day or night? Busy or  not so much? Are we in present time, or another time altogether?

Another question – are you making it plain how much time is passing in your story? Is it minutes? Hours? Days? Years? Don’t confuse the hapless reader.

What’s going on with your character? This relates a bit to the guest post I did for TV Writer on  Writing Action recently. Seriously, your characters need to react. Whether in novel or in screen script. If somebody gets a ‘dear John’ letter she needs to react. If another somebody gets in a car wreck he doesn’t ‘think about his situation’ he feels pain or confusion or both or more. The character may have to force himself to think logically after such an incident, but there’ll be ‘stuff’ going on along with it. Reactions are how you explore character and let the reader in on the character’s idiosyncrasies.

Sometimes, when you’re hot, writing fast, you don’t really focus on this one, but it needs to be addressed. What is the point of your scene? Sometimes an author is wrapped up in a really cool scene idea, perhaps something he or she has experienced and wants to get that scene down on paper to the point that a scene is written that really has no point relating to the story at hand. Many times this isn’t even caught until editing, but caught it must be. A scene needs to have a point whether it relates to character or plot. Don’t just stick something in, or leave it in, because it’s some of our coolest writing.  If you love it, save it, it may actually work in another book or script, but don’t leave it where it doesn’t belong.

Now here’s a biggie I’ve seen get lost in the shuffle. What is the goal of the story’s main character? From there is where your story hangs. Your reader is breezing through those first sentences looking for exactly that – the character’s goal.  Said reader might not be aware that’s what’s happening, but it is. Whether that goal is attainable…or not…it needs to be there. Without said goal you don’t have a story, you just have a bunch of people running around doing things.

Questions, always questions. Keep asking them and your stories will bloom.

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