Archive for November, 2015

AND NOW FOR THE “FUN” STUFF

November 20, 2015

And it’s all “fun” stuff. Even though Hemingway complained and “opening a vein” has been compared to writing, it really is fun. If we hated it or dreaded the job of writing, we’d stop doing it if it weren’t fun. We wake each morning with more ideas for plot, characters, or settings. Most of us wouldn’t think of getting a day job. We love what we do.

Yes, sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes the brainstorms stop. Or maybe it is as simple as forgetting a word and not being able to continue until the word comes to us, but we do love what we do.

I’m always stunned to hear that a well-known writer has quit writing. Did the imagination freeze? Did they wake up one morning to hear learn the muse had left the building? I always think perhaps they retired so there would be enough money for the rest of us, so that we can make a decent advance and receive a few royalties for our work.

Whatever the reason, the idea of quitting writing baffles me. With even a tiny bit of success, we are able to share our joy with others. We can go to conferences or literary events, or a variety of other writing related venues and share our fun with others. Those who only want to write, or those less successful can share in the fun.

Remember it is all fun.

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GRAMMAR IS IMPORTANT

November 13, 2015

When writing these blogs, I’ve ignored writing about grammar for a reason.  My main purpose is to encourage readers to write and sometimes grammar gets in the way of writing.  By this point I’m hoping you have something on paper, maybe a whole bunch of somethings on paper.  Now you are faced with convincing someone they want to read what you’ve written– enter the “Grammar Police”.

Few, if any, publications are going to accept a piece fraught with grammatical errors. You can call it style if you like, but most editors aren’t going to spend their precious editing hours fixing all the grammar problems in a written piece.

What to do, what to do?

  1. Go through your writing with the Grammar/Spell Checker on your writing program and don’t argue with it.
  2. Find your weaknesses. Whether there are certain words you can’t spell or errors in grammar you continuously make; learn what those problems are and how to correct them. Your program has a great feature called “Auto Correct” use it.

No matter how many years you’ve been writing, it never hurts to read a book or two to refresh your understanding of grammar.  I’m currently reading THE FRUGAL EDITOR by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.  Howard-Johnson gives the reader a fresh look at participles, gerunds, and those nasty adverbs.  She takes a look from the view of an editor, not necessarily a grammarian and that’s exactly the view you want when you’re writing.

THE FRUGAL EDITOR publisher isn’t offering me anything for this commercial, but I’ll add the book to my recommended list.  This is a book you’ll want to keep handy if for no other reason than for frequent check of the sidebars.

A BIT MORE ABOUT CRITIQUES

November 6, 2015

Last time I talked about critiques. I suspect I may have convinced a few novice writers to NEVER GET A CRITIQUE. So hold off here and let’s examine the rest of the story.

When should I get a critique?
Good question. There are definitely times to get a critique. If you fall into a couple of categories you should get a critique sooner not later. First, if you are a novice and this is one of your first written piece—get a critique.
If you sense something is wrong with your piece and you just can’t put your finger on what it is—get a critique.
If you can’t seem to get a character “right”—get a critique.

Who should critique my work?
Not your mother, unless of course she is a best selling author. Then it’s okay, but she’s going to be rougher on you than any other critic in the writing field.
Someone who’s published, in the venue your piece aims for. This is the most important part of this blog, so sear it into your brain. The published writer is obviously doing something right or they wouldn’t be published. It’s no guarantee that the published writer can find a problem, however you’ll have a better chance with someone who knows the field.
As a rule, Not an English teacher. The teacher will want only complete sentences and perfect grammar. They will miss the story entirely.

At one time I facilitated a critique group, where an Ex-English teacher and an editor were among the attendees. I left each session with the feeling that perhaps making a bloody pulp of my brain might be a correct response. Despite my cautions to be positive and encouraging, every session turned into a chop session of a young talented writer whose English skills weren’t “perfect”.

Before you send your precious piece out into the nasty publishing world at least get an edit. That’s the time to concentrate on making everything perfect. If you need a critique, get one. Unless you are a latent masochist however don’t stay in a critique group which shreds your work and makes you want to quit writing.
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