Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I've put up a lot of links for Wednesdays - some helpful, some reflective, some containing writing or reading tips, but this one is just for flat out fun.
Come on now, you know there's a need for recycling old books. Much as we love to hold and caress them, many simply need a new life.
So, to that end, jump over to Su Blackwell's Lines and Colors and see the beautiful book cut sculptures.
Reader, writer, artist - doesn't matter, they'll put a smile on your face.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
-yes, I mean your own work
Editing your own writing can be difficult. There's a lot to pay attention to and there is frequently the 'flavor of the week' in regard to the continually evolving dos and don'ts and 'forbidden words'. Most of the time I tell folks not to go crazy every time a new trend or a new word to be avoided is announced.
However, there are things you can keep an eye out for – many things. Today I’m offering just a shot list of things that just might smooth your writing, make it flow a bit better and help to draw your reader in. And readers don’t try to pretend you don’t want to be drawn in – it’s why you read and why you have ‘favorite’ books and authors.
So, writers, time take heart. Don’t worry if there are a lot of the so-called forbidden words scattered throughout your work. After all there are plenty of the classics and lots of current best sellers that are peppered with them.
With the goal of improving everyone’s writing, here are a few thoughts.
One well over-used word is “Very”. There are times it’s necessary, but those are ‘very’ rare indeed. Just leave it out or reword. If you said, “The detective, a very tall man, stood close to the accused” how about “The detective loomed over the accused.” Or search your thesaurus and find another descriptive term that fits your style better. Or just sit and consider for a few moments. Something else will come to you.
Another reminder; shed clichés like a ‘duck sheds water’. Unless your character is one who spouts them or there is another compelling reason for you to use one remember clichés are just boring and worn. Their time is past. Come up with something new and fresh of your own. Be creative. That’s what you’re here for.
The words ‘up’ and ‘down’ are generally greatly overused in writing and storytelling and can be pretty much eliminated. Example: “Elizabeth put her book down on the bedside table.” Try "Elizabeth set her book on the bedside table with gentle respect.” Or: “The drought dried up the earth to the point of cracking.” Eliminate ‘up’ and we might get: “The drought dried the earth into deep fissures.” Just think about it. Simple eliminations can add a great deal of punch to your writing.
More on the elimination front: consider eliminating phrases like “John could hear,” or “John could feel.” This is where showing your reader something is much stronger than telling. Instead of “John could hear the train in the distance.” Try making it more direct. Bring in the senses and put your reader right there. How about: “John heard the distant rumble of the train.” Or, “The sound of the approaching train reverberated in John’s head.” Another example: Instead of: “Jane could see the vultures circling in search of their next meal.” Try “The vultures floated in widening circles in search of their next meal.”
Verbs ending in –ing can get to be a bit trying. That’s not to say you need to eliminate them altogether from your writing, you can sprinkle them in occasionally, in fact I doubt you could eliminate them altogether. But watch out for excess. Things like, “Joe was watching the parade while tapping his feet to the rhythm of the band.” Better: “Joe watched the parade while tapping his feet to the rhythm of the band.” Or “Joe tapped his feet to the rhythm of the band as the parade moved on.” Experiment, turn things around a bit and try to stifle the –ing urge just a little.
Don’t repeat words with great frequency. Scan your written page. Does any one word jump out at you? Does it pepper the page or reappear frequently throughout a chapter? Grab your thesaurus and have at it or visit http://thesaurus.com/.
And remember while it’s a bit distressing, it’s still true what William Faulkner has been quoted over and over as having said regarding writing, “you’ve got to kill all you darlings.”
Most of us writers believe whatever we first put down on paper or type to computer screen should be fabulous, complete, amazing. One gets a bit of a pain in the gut when thinking of pruning the words so carefully written, but, while we may spare a few of our darlings here and there the truth of the matter is Faulker was right. His point was on track. Writing the work is just half the battle.
Many times you’ll find as you write, that your original ‘great idea’ is overwhelmed by the actual story. By that I mean you’ll range far afield from the beginning inspiration that got you moving. And you’re going to find that many of your truly great thoughts and ideas will occur to you when you’re actually writing – sitting at your computer or with your legal pad in your lap – not just daydreaming and thinking about writing. So, despite your greatest hopes that your material will emerge complete and awesome at the first stroke, don’t count on it. This tripping off in other directions creates a great story, but it does leave some bumpy writing that needs tidying and ideas that need completing or revising.
Many self-proclaimed ‘writers’ want us to believe they carry all their ideas around in their heads until they can get the time to spew them down onto paper – no doubt in pristine form. However, how many of them actually do it? Presuming you’re one who actually writes, don’t get caught in that ‘romantic, artistic’ web of silliness where you believe you can work it all out in your head and write it all down later. There may have been one or two who could do it, but frankly I think they’re fibbing too.
So don’t wail and weep when you confront your rewrite, celebrate. You’ve got the guts down on paper, now is the time to really shine and turn that heap of guts into a god.
Take a minute, tell me if this was helpful for you and what other writing topics you might like to see discussed.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Got a lot of reading to do? Aware of the demise of Google Reader? Need a replacement - hopefully free?
Check out CNet's 5 Worthy Alternatives. For you RSS feed folks losing Google Reader you might find the answer here.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Writing is always a tricky business. It’s the writer’s job to hook the reader without the reader knowing he or she has been hooked. You want the reader to fall in, enjoy the adventure and not be aware of you, the writer, or even the fact they’ve been ‘away’ except for that golden afterglow of reading a truly great story.
So, with that goal in mind, among many other facets is the writer’s ability to give the reader reason to laugh and/or cry. Emotion is vital to keeping your reader involved in your story – right readers?
One might seem easier to accomplish than the other but they’re pretty much neck and neck in my book.
Let’s make them laugh.
Here’s the thing. People are not all exactly alike, but we share a lot of triggers. What a lot of people share, including agents and editors is a love of wit. And may I add wit isn’t precisely humor. Lots of people get a laugh out of slapstick, you know a fall on slippery ice or pie in the face. But that kind of humor doesn’t really involve the brain, wit does. And to key in to wit we need to realize surprise can cause laughter, absurdity too as well as understatement. All are elements, tactics you can use to add wit to the story you’re writing. And your characters are more likely sources for this than your plot.
Think about characters like the bone-steeped archaeologist with his many degrees who is socially inept. Or what about the accountant so adept at guiding is clients but who can’t control his own impulsive online spending. Or a CEO who diplomatically keeps peace in his office, but has the war of the gardens going on at his semi-palatial home.
There are many more – and lots more ways to put grins on readers faces. Think about it. Read other books or scripts and think about what made you smile.
Want to make them cry?
Yep, you do. And here’s an even better point to be made. If you create an atmosphere where readers laugh and cry reading the same book, they’re sure to remember it. And if they remember it they’ll in all probability be looking for another book with your name on it as author.
So, how to make them cry ~
No, don’t just have the family dog die. It’s more than that. It’s that by which the reader is so wrapped up in the story that they feel for the characters. Doesn’t matter whether it’s Bambi and his mother just got killed by the hunters or whether it’s that homemaker who while making a special birthday cake for her kid just found it fell flat in the oven.
It’s emotional suspense, build up, anxiety in anticipation, process and a final really great payoff.
To accomplish all that it can’t happen quick. You can’t just toss in pathos.
As the writer you must take your time whether you write fast and blast it onto the page, then rewrite or whether you go slowly to begin with, what you write needs to build from a small, single seed.
When thinking about this consider your characters. Do you want to break a heart? Who among people are the most vulnerable? Children? Romantics? Dreamers?
How about this. You have a war veteran. He’s been working with a military dog – gone through hell with him. They’ve been best friends and watched each other’s’ backs. He retires from the service with his dog and they go camping. Somehow they’re separated. Circumstances force the soldier to go, believing his friend dead – but he never stops thinking about the dog in the wilderness – will they find each other again? Readers think the dog dead; but still they hope.
Readers can be swept up in stories that make them laugh and cry, not thinking about or even caring what it is about that story that sweeps them along.
It’s up to you as the writer to find those human links, the chords that resonate and to pluck them in a way that touches the heart.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
For you writers out there searching for the perfect names for your characters --
For you readers who enjoy tagging along---
For you readers and writers who are about to be parents for the first time or the second or the ---well you know.
Here's the Baby Name Genie and it suggests great first and middle names.
Play, explore, have fun with it. Fun to see what comes up.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Today is a day of shameless self promotion.
Well, who hasn't done it? So proud of what you accomplished you just want to share it with the world.
So I am.
I'm a writer after all. I get excited about writing and reading and publishing and editing...well you know.
So today I announce my book, STORMRIDER, originally available in Ebook format is now available in paperback format as well with plans to bring an audio version out by the end of summer.
I'm collecting, enjoying and am very grateful for the 5 star reviews. Here are what people who've read Stormrider are saying:
** 5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Writer March 11, 2013
By Rowdy Rhodes
If you are a science fiction/fantasy fan, then this page-turner with keep you enthralled. The multi-talented Peggy Bechko has once again taken the reading world by storm; no pun intended, with her release of Stormrider. Previously only available as an eBook, the new format and layout does justice to a story line that will hold you in suspense until the very last page. The journey and adventure of her young character Janissary keeps you rooting for her every step of the way until the final, exciting conclusion. A must have summer time read. Add it to your list folks!
** 5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading! November 26, 2012
This is a tightly woven tale of adventure, goodwill and savagery. Beyond the classic story of good versus evil, there is the conflict between the call of duty and the call of conscience. No one is perfectly good or evil, but within each of us are seeds of both good and evil. Stormrider details the internal tug of war experienced by two very different protagonists as they find their way in a strange, yet familiar world.
The conclusion of the story is of secondary interest. It is the journey and evolution of the characters that tells the tale.
The conclusion of the story is of secondary interest. It is the journey and evolution of the characters that tells the tale.
** 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully descriptive writing & wonderfully compelling story November 8, 2012
Page 1 and I'm already drawn in (excitedly so). But, isn't that how good (great) fiction writing is supposed to be?! I can't tell you how quickly and easily (and I'm not a fiction reader) Miss Bechko drew me in - not only to the beautifully described surroundings, but to feel (~deeply) for the main character, again on page one! Amazing!
—John Cullum, Northern Exposure , Tony winning fame
~~ Aw, gee, I'm blushing!
Go check it out - get a free sample, then get your own copy via Kindle, Paperback, B & N, even UK Amazon.
AND, since you read all the way to the end of this post, I'll be delighted to send a paperback copy of Stormrider to the first person who posts a comment below - just post a comment and I'll contact you for a mailing address.