Cure Writer’s Block with the Drastic

1 08 2013

Suffering from writer’s block is all part and parcel of the business. One day the words flow too fast for you to type or jot in your own gibberish. One day you see the layout ahead of you and are watching the possibilities play out. Then there are days when you draw such a complete blank you are sure you must be as talentless as you always, secretly, thought. Let’s put aside our damaging thoughts and try something drastic. I am going to ask you to attempt the impossible, do the unthinkable, and… well, it really is not as bad as that gasp you are prepared to release.

What genre are you partial too? What reality is your book born from? Put it all aside and choose a different view. Writing a love story? Try writing your main character/s into a mystery. Flying through fictional history? Take those same characters and place them in the world of science fiction. Writing for adults? Transform your characters into a child’s world. You are not looking at a rewrite, simply expanding your views to other possibilities should the circumstance change. Imagine your characters in another situation, another place, another reality. Play around with their environment and allow yourself to laugh at any absurdities.

Giving your characters a situation completely different from the direction in which the story is intended can release your mind from its current rut and open ideas previously unconsidered. Ever been in a conversation that feels more like a bee zipping from flower to flower vs the bird building a solid nest? You start with one subject, but one word, one joke, one minor detail sends your discussion down a side road. This can happen so quickly and so often you may have found yourself trying to remember how you started out talking about your work situation and how will you ever make your boss see sense to talking about the impossibility of eating brownies without sighing. Don’t laugh, I am sure we have all been there at least once. Suddenly, in the middle of discussing the oddities of the color cerulean the answer to your problem hits you.

Writer’s block is (among other things) the inability to see the way forward logically and smoothly. Since you think you are only sitting in front of a brick wall with no way through, over, or around try changing direction and only then can you see the passage that is hidden from direct view (David Bowe in the Labyrinth a must see!worm).

 

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Write Like You Think

1 05 2013

Creative Writing Tips

How to Improve Writing Skills

Success secrets of great authors – revealed! These creative writing tips and writing techniques point the way to clear, concise, powerful prose.

Creative Writing Tip #1: Be Simple

Write in the simple, natural language of everyday speech. This doesn’t mean that you confine yourself to only the most basic words, but that you avoid pompous language, which may cloud your meaning or send readers to sleep.onceuponatime

For example, do not say, He acquired an instrument of destruction wherewith he decapitated the formidable foe, when you mean, With his axe he chopped off the giant’s head. Use short, familiar words rather than long, obscure ones – unless the longer word fits your meaning more precisely.

Most good writing is simple. Read the works of authors like Jack London and Ernest Hemingway; read the classics; read the Bible. Simple language is the strongest and most effective.

One way to acquire good style is to study the works of great writers: not to imitate them but to learn how simple language can be elegant, lyrical and powerful.

Read also Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style: this is probably the best book available on the subject of good style.

Creative Writing Tip #2: Be Yourself

Be yourself; be natural and sincere. Don’t try to imitate another writer’s style; find your own, the style that bears the stamp of your personality.

A guarded, polished style is like a faceless mask; it’s not real. Good writing resonates with the true voice of the human author, with all of that author’s warmth, wit, idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities.

Write as if you’re speaking to a friend. Your reader should be able to hear the rhythms and cadences of your speaking voice. Your family and friends should be able to say, “This sounds like you.”

Creative Writing Tip #3: Be Precise

Choose words that say precisely what you mean.

Avoid trite words like nice, interesting, big. As in: We had a nice dinner; That’s a big bird. Be specific. Is it sushi, wonton or mutton curry? Is it a flamingo, an eagle or an ostrich?

Avoid vague words like walk, laugh, pour. Be creative. The boy ambled, shuffled, swaggered; the villain scoffed, jeered, sneered; water gurgled, gushed, spurted out.

Avoid meaningless words like thing, something, somewhere. Be definite. Name the thing or place, use concrete words that evoke clear images: click on this link for more Creative Writing Tips on Concrete Words.

Get a thesaurus to help you. Roget’s Thesaurus, for example, is an indispensable reference tool. It comes in many versions; pick the one that best suits your needs.

stormy

A dictionary of synonyms helps too. Webster’s New Dictionary of Synonyms, for example, tells you the subtle difference between almost similar words. Or get the compact version, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms.

Choose words that convey your message clearly to readers. Good writers look for the apt word, the word that carries the precise denotation and the strongest, richest connotations. For more Creative Writing Tips on Denotations and Connotations of Words, go to Good Word Choice.

Creative Writing Tip #4: Be Concise

Concise writing is clear and strong. Write to the point, cut out unnecessary words. This doesn’t mean that you throw out all details, descriptions and figures of speech but that you make every word pull its weight.

Cut out meaningless words and phrases like basically, personally, as a matter of fact.
As a matter of fact, today is my birthday has the same meaning as Today is my birthday.
Personally, I feel we shouldn’t go near the bull: can anyone ever feel impersonally?

Don’t repeat yourself. Phrases like round in shape, the reason is because, revert back, say the same thing twice.

Use strong action verbs. Sentences with active verbs are shorter and stronger than those with passive verbs.

Active Verb: The man bit the dog.
Passive Verb: The dog was bitten by the man.
Click here for more Creative Writing Tips on Action Verbs.

Replace roundabout phrases like in the event of, by virtue of the fact that, by the name of, with single words that do the same job, like if, because, named.

Phrases like there is, there was, it was dilute your meaning:
There was a baby crying in the basket; it was the baby’s cry that woke him up.
Cut out the verbiage: A baby was crying in the basket; the baby’s cry woke him up.





I Have A Dream…

2 04 2013

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402No. I am not going to start quoting Martin Luther King, Jr (well I might), however, I too have a dream.  I have fantasized for years now about being a public speaker (funny thing to fantasize about for a woman who’s pretty shy around people, particularly strangers). Yet, I couldn’t see speaking about my novels. After all, anyone can write fiction and what purpose does it serve to speak about fiction. No, I wanted to speak about something meaningful, helpful, insightful.  The problem was, I hadn’t a clue what that something was.  Then I began reading motivational books, Osteen, Covey, Long, Ruiz, Sharma. Top it off with a meeting with one of those writers and an idea struck.  As a relationship therapist and blogger, I write motivational pieces all the time. What’s stopping me from writing about something that really helps and encourages me? After all, it might just help and encourage others.

SO… watch for some different writings from me in the near future (no, I’m not putting aside the sequel to Fatal Compulsions or my fourth novel as yet untitled; just putting them on the back burner for a while) and let me know what you think when I begin posting my ideas and trains of thought.  Just to help me stay on the right track.





From the Desk of The Cultural Purveyor

31 03 2013

I love following this genius at work. Any time I am stuck, unmotivated, experiencing the usual writer’s angst, I turn to The Cultural Purveyor for relief, insight, motivation, and a dose of reality.  All writers should be checking in with this guru (my personal opinion).  Here’s my dose of reality for today.CPphoto

WRITING MOTIVATION  by THE CULTURAL PURVEYOR

What inspires us to write? There is something inside us that must be let out… a craving to express ourselves with the written word. Our efforts might  be as short as a haiku, as long as War and Peace or anything in between. It doesn’t matter as long as the wordsmith muse within us is let free.

The Cultural Purveyor encourages the Arts in all its forms, most especially the Art of writing.

How though do you become inspired? Today we are sharing a short piece written by +pio dal cin .  His inspiration was a memory of an event in his past. For  him the memory was sweet and loving.

Not all memories are pleasant, nor do they have to be in order to be expressed. Today take your 15 minutes of writing time (you do carve out time to do that don’t you?) and think about something from your past. It can be humorous, sad, joyful or simply nostalgic and let your creativity flow.





Author interview with murder mystery author and fiction memoirist LT Bentley

17 02 2013

I recently did an interview with Morgen Bailey.  Be sure to check it out.

 

Author interview with murder mystery author and fiction memoirist LT Bentley.

via Author interview with murder mystery author and fiction memoirist LT Bentley.





Cliches Are Something Authors Try to Avoid…

18 12 2012

But have you ever wondered where they come from and why we still use them in everyday speech…

I’ll bet you didn’t know that,

Hold a candle to

This phrase originates from when apprentices were expected to hold the candle up, so their more experienced colleagues could see what they were doing.

Chow down

‘Chow down’ was first used by the U.S. military during WWII. ‘Chow’ is a Chinese breed of dog, that became a western slang term for food due to the Chinese’s reputation for eating dog meat.

Come up trumps

‘Come up trumps’ is a variant of ‘turn up trumps’, which has been used since the early 17th century. “Trump” is a corruption of triumph, which was the name of a popular card game during this period.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

This medieval proverb comes from the sport of falconry, where the ‘bird in the hand’ (the preying falcon) was worth more than ‘two in the bush’ – the prey.

Hair of the dog that bit you

This term for a hangover cure is another medieval saying, originating from the belief that once bitten by a rabid dog, the victim would be cured by applying the same dog’s hair to the wound.

Off the record

This American phrase was first attributed to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, who was recorded in The Daily Times-News saying “he was going to talk ‘off the record’, that it was mighty nice to be able to talk ‘off the record’ for a change and that he hoped to be able to talk ‘off the record’ often in the future.”

A sight for sore eyes

Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, first used this phrase in A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation, 1738, with the line “The Sight of you is good for sore Eyes.”

A stone’s throw

This term for ‘a short distance’ is a variation of ‘a stone’s cast’, first used in early editions of the Bible, but it fell out of use.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

This sweet saying came from the Roman poet Sextus Propertius’ Elegies:”Always toward absent lovers love’s tide stronger flows.

The Acid Test

This term came from the California Gold Rush in the 19th century, when prospectors and dealers used acid to distinguish gold from base metal – if the metal dissolved in a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid, it was real.350x500_11

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Was this catchy rhyme a proverb from Pembrokeshire, or Devon? The earliest recording of the phrase in 1866, states “Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread” is from the former. But in 1913, Elizabeth Wright recorded this phrase from the latter: “Ait a happle avore gwain to bed, An’ you’ll make the doctor beg his bread; or as the more popular version runs: An apple a day Keeps the doctor away.”

Cool as a cucumber

Despite sounding like a modern-day phrase, Cool as a cucumber actually first appeared in John Gay’s Poems, New Song on New Similies, in 1732: “I … cool as a cucumber could see The rest of womankind.”

Busy as a bee

Chaucer coined the term in the Squire’s Tale, from his Canterbury Tales, around 1386-1400.

A baker’s dozen

This phrase is widely believed to originate from medieval times, when English bakers gave an extra loaf when selling a dozen in order to avoid being penalized for selling a short weight. Bakers could be fined, pilloried or flogged for selling ‘underweight’ bread.

Ball and chain

This rather crude description of a wife refers to the ball and chain strapped to a prisoner’s leg in American and British prisons in the early 19th century.

Barking mad

The most probable meaning for this phrase is a reference to rabid dogs, barking in their madness. A more interesting (but less likely) tale is that ‘barking mad’ originates from the east London suburb of Barking, where there was an asylum for the insane during the medieval period.

Basket case

Originally, this term was used by the US military after WWI, referring to soldiers who had lost arms and legs and had to be carried by others.

Bee in your bonnet

This phrase was first recorded in Alexander Douglas’s Aeneis, in 1513: “Quhat bern be thou in bed with heid full of beis?”. It has been speculated that the bonnet could refer to the protective headgear beekeepers wear.

Beat around the bush

Beat around the bush evolved from “beat about the bush”, a term used in birdhunting to rouse the prey out of the bushes, and into nets. Grouse hunters still use beaters today.

Two peas in a pod

Referring to the fact that two peas in a pod are identical,this phrase dates from the 16th century, and appeared in John Lyly’s Euphues and his England, in 1580: “Wherin I am not unlike unto the unskilfull Painter, who having drawen the Twinnes of Hippocrates, (who wer as lyke as one pease is to an other).”

Born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth

Although this phrase was thought to be British, referring to the upper classes born into privilege, the first recorded use was in America in 1801, in a speech made in U.S. Congress: “It was a common proverb that few lawyers were born with silver spoons in their mouths.”

A man after my own heart

This saying comes from the Bible (King James Version): Samuel 13:14: “But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.”

Frog in the throat

The earliest use of this name for a sore throat, was actually supposed to be a ‘cure’. In The Stevens Point Journal, November 1894, the Taylor Bros advertised a medicine called ‘Frog in the Throat’ that will “cure hoarseness” for only 10 cents a box. What a bargain…

Fools rush in

This is a shortened line from English poet Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism, 1709: “For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread”. The ‘fools’ in question are literary critics – although fool did not have such negative connotations in the 18th century.

Fly off the handle

Coined by American writer Thomas C Haliburton in 1843 (he also invented “won’t take no for answer” and “ginger up”), this phrase was inspired by the way an axe-head will fly off its handle if loose.

Fly by the seat of your pants

This aviation term emerged in 1938 in US newspapers, to describe pilot Douglas Corrigan’s (slightly perilous) flight from the USA to Ireland.

Flogging a dead horse

Dating from the 17th century, a “dead horse” was a term for work which a person had been paid for in advance (and already spent).

Get the sack

This slang term for getting fired originates in France, and alludes to tradesmen, who would take their own bag or “sac” of tools with them when dismissed from employment

Go down like a lead balloon

The US version of this phrase “Go over like a lead balloon”, first appeared in a Mom-N-Pop cartoon in several newspapers in 1924. It then fell out of use until after WWII – and was said to inspire a certain heavy metal band to name themselves Led Zeppelin.

Goody two shoes

Good two shoes comes from a Christian retelling of Cinderella, a nursery tale named The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, published in 1765. The poor orphan of the title only has one shoe – but is given two shoes by a rich man as a reward for her virtue

Green-eyed monster

Shakespeare coined this term in The Merchant of Venice, when Portia says: “And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love, Be moderate;”. He then used green eyed monster again in his most famous play about jealousy – Othello.

Saved by the bell

Contrary to popular belief, this phrase didn’t priginate from the popular 90s sitcom. ‘Saved by the Bell’ is boxing slang from the late 19th century. A boxer who is in danger of losing a bout can be ‘saved’ from defeat by the bell that marks the end of a round.

Dead Ringer

This word was used in US horse-racing at the end of the 19th century. A ‘ringer’ is a horse substituted for another of similar appearance in order to defraud the bookies.

I’ll be there with bells on

The first record of this phrase in print is in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned, 1922: “All-ll-ll righty. I’ll be there with bells!”

In stitches

Another Shakespeare coinage, although not used again until the 20th century. In Twelfth Night, 1602, Maria says: “If you desire the spleen, and will laugh yourself into stitches, follow me.”

In the buff

A buff-coat was a light browny/yellow leather tunic worn by English soldiers up until the 17th century. The original meaning of ‘in the buff’ was simply to be wearing such a coat. Later on, ‘in the buff’ was used to mean naked, due to the colour of the skin, which is similar to the buff coat.

Keeping up with the Joneses

This American term emerged in 1913, when Arthur (Pop) Momand started a Keep Up With The Joneses comic strip in the New York Globe. The strip was so popular in, that in 1915 a cartoon film of the same name was released.

Mad as a hatter

19th century Mercury used to be used in the making of hats. This was known to have affected the nervous systems of hatters, causing them to tremble and appear insane. Mercury poisoning is still known today as ‘Mad Hatter’s disease’.








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