tagged with: Writer

Well, we are down to the second-to-last letter. I never thought I would be able to get this far. It just shows what a little challenge plus determination can accomplish. I can’t wait to see what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the letter Y. For this post I decided to feature the blog of my friend and critique partner, Yvonne Anderson. Yvonne’s blog is called Ys Words, and as you will see from the entry below, she does give some Ys words on writing in particular and on life in general. Yvonne is the author of Story In The Stars, the first in a series of speculative fiction about life on the planet Gannah. In this entry, Yvonne’s main characters, Dassa – protagonist – and Pik, Dassa’s husband argue about who should be the protagonist. Let’s listen in:

Author: All right, then, ladies first. Dassa, why do you believe the term protagonist applies to you?

Dassa: Since the book opens with a scene in my point of view, it stands to reason that my character is the one upon whom the whole book hinges. Isn’t that some sort of a writing rule? That the protagonist is introduced first?

Author: I don’t know if it’s a rule, but—

Pik: There is no such rule. I’ve checked with a number of industry professionals, and they tell me—

Dassa: Industry professionals? Name one. Probably a guy who drives a forklift in the Book Bargains warehouse. No—more likely, some agent’s dermatologist.

Pik: Not true! I—

Author: We needn’t name names and draw innocents into this. But I’ve raised this question at conferences and such, and from what I’ve been told, there is no hard-and-fast rule. Generally speaking, the reader meets the protagonist first, but there are legitimate exceptions. So I’ll give a point to Dassa for this while conceding that her argument isn’t definitive. And now, let’s move on. Dr. Pik, why do you think you’re really the protagonist?

Pik: First, and most obviously, readers love me best. You said yourself, when you were submitting your chapters to critiquers for feedback, everyone commented on how much they loved my character. And if you hadn’t submitted anything for a while, it was me they asked about. “What’s Pik doing these days?” No one inquired about Dassa.

Author: Well, that’s true, but—

Pik: But more objectively, I think everyone here will agree that my character is the one that shows the most growth. Don’t several reviewers comment on the impressive character development in this book? Which character are they’re talking about? Certainly not Dassa, who remains a cold fish throughout the entire story. My character gives the story its depth and adds a lively humor. It’s my words in the last line that put a smile on the reader’s face as she closes the book with satisfaction. Dassa is merely the straight man, so to speak, around which my character revolves.

Author: “Cold fish” hardly describes Dassa. It’s true that she never gets carried away by her emotions, but she does clearly feel them. And her role is far more vital than that of a mere straight man. Nevertheless, you raise a good point about the character development. Your character shows amazing growth between his introduction in chapter 2 and that last line of the book that you mention.

So what do you have to say about this, Dassa? Pik seems to have scored two points to your one so far. Can you offer another reason why you should keep your protagonist status?

Dassa: Absolutely. It’s true that the doctor shows the most character growth, but plainly, the reason for that is because he had more growing to do. I may be younger than he, but I was more mature at the beginning of the book than he is by the end. No, don’t argue, Pik, it’s true and you know it. However, all that aside, I believe the biggest reason why I should remain the protag is because it’s my character who has the most to gain or lose. You had a life—a career, a family, and a future—before I came on the scene, and if I had never made an appearance, you’d have gone along your merry way without a care in the galaxy. I, on the other hand, lost everything. The story is more about my struggle than it is about your character growth. Clearly, that gives me every right and reason to be the protagonist.

Author: This is quite the dilemma. All your arguments are valid. I think we should put it to the vote. Readers? Who do you consider the protagonist of The Story in the Stars? I’m asking that question on my own blog today, too, so if you don’t mind, would you go to YsWords.com and cast your vote?

Intriguing, isn’t she? To learn more about Yvonne and her writing, you may visit her blog at www.YsWords.com.

Every writer needs to have some kind of networking support in order to grow and become more proficient in his craft. One form of support is the critique group, which means just that – members critique each other’s work and provide helpful feedback on different areas of the work. If it is non-fiction, the critique may focus on grammar, sentence structure, content, relevance and development of the subject matter. If it is fiction, members may focus on theme, point of view, character development, setting, dialog and narrative in addition to grammar and sentence structure. (more…)

Stephen King, American author best known for h...
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As writers, I believe we owe it to ourselves and our profession, (yes, writing is a profession) to strive for excellence. We cannot be content with just slapping something out on our keyboards, posting it somewhere and smacking our lips, thinking we have done our duty. We need to make sure that anything we sign our names to bears the mark of excellence.

Where would the world be if we never had a Beethoven, a Mozart, a Dickens or a Wouk? Would we have even known the meaning of the terms “creativity”, “artistry”, “genius”? The world will always make room for excellence, but will be indifferent to mediocrity and sloppiness.

Everyday I read things in print and online written by seasoned writers that make me shudder. Some of them have clearly not been proofread, while others are just habitual errors some writers make. This one is a comedy of errors, you might say, although it’s not funny: The prices of shoes varies dependant of where you but them from.  This one is from an ad: Very interested in how your marketing.  From another ad: You can make your own decisions and place your bid. Then set back and wait.

Avoiding these errors can be very easy if you would only take the time to carefully proofread your work before clicking the submit button. Or, better still, have someone else check it for you. If you are a beginning writer, you may be able to conceive plots that will make Stephen King blanch with fear, but unless you can master the basics of grammar and structure, you will be missing the mark. There are many books on the market that will teach you all you need to know to make your writing flawless.

One of my favorites, and I daresay the favorite of many, is The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.b. White. In just 85 pages, the writers cover  such topics as punctuation, grammar, composition, commonly misused words and expressions and Style. Another gem,  Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman deals with the same areas, but in greater detail. There is also a section on Spelling. If you prefer, you can always take a course at your local college or online. But make sure it’s a reputable site.  Whatever you do, don’t stop writing. The more you write, the more proficient you will become.

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by Beth Ann Erickson

Intuition is the deep knowingness inside yourself. It’s that place within you where you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you’re doing is right or wrong for you at the moment.

Living intuitively, life is a joy, your work a pleasure. When you don’t listen to your intuition, you’ll stumble, life will be difficult. Everything you do will feel like swimming up stream.

You find yourself self sabotaging yourself. You may forget to answer e-mails. You won’t return calls. You’ll find yourself doing anything except tend to the task at hand.

In a similar vein, when you follow another person’s path (which is exactly what you’re doing when you’re not following your intuition), the same thing will happen. You will self sabotage the project. You won’t feel joy. You will have an inner sense of panic.

So it’s imperative to follow your intuition because your path will always be unique… never quite the same as other writers.

Where one writer will share a trick to do “this” and another writer will share a trick to do “that,” these techniques may or may not work in your situation.

It’s important to take into account your personality whenever you’re evaluating marketing techniques.

I’d darn near die (literally) if I had to cold call editors. I have no problem contacting people if we have a prior relationship, but to call out of the blue? No way.

That’s just the way I’m wired. I accept it and work around that inability.

Some people may dislike writing queries and sales letters. Then cold call. Send e-mails. Do what works for you.

This is why it’s so important to follow your hunches no matter how far off the beaten path it may be.

Your activities may make no sense to the person watching your life, it may look bizarre to others, in fact, your hunches may not make sense to you either.

But in your spirit, in your soul, all will make perfect sense. And that’s what matters.

How to Know You’re on the Right Track

When you’re on the right track, career-wise, you’ll experience love. You will experience joy. You will find yourself in a high-powered creative zone.

Ah, but what about money? How will I make a living doing something far off the beaten path?

Or worse yet, how will I understand how my writing career will unfold without knowing the end result of my actions?

To that I say, your first goal should not be to rake in the big bucks.

Your first impulse should always be joy.

It’s been my experience that money flows towards joy.

This is because when you’re writing in a state of joy, you won’t self sabotage yourself. You won’t feel anchors beneath your feet. You will feel incredible peace while clients, customers, buyers will be drawn to that same incredible peace.

Your first and foremost plan should not be gaining wealth. However, on the other hand, if your grand plan, if your Polaris is to accumulate great wealth as a writer, if that is your joy, you just may find yourself in a very hollow situation later on.

This is because accumulating wealth isn’t in and of itself a negative thing.

However, making wealth your sole purpose in a writing career seems to stem the ebb and flow of creativity. And ironically you may find yourself without a message, without anything to share with your reader.

What a bummer, eh?

I know far too many copywriters (those who write advertising) who entered the biz for the promise of high pay. Many have gone on and done quite well.

Thing is, most are avid “swipers.” Some border on plagiarism.

This means that alone in a room, without their swipe file, they probably couldn’t come up with an elegant, solid sales piece more than flap their arms and fly to the moon.

They may be making the big bucks, but they also get to contend with the continually niggling feeling of inadequacy wondering if and when they’ll ever develop the chops to build their own message from the ground up.

It’s tough to do when you’ve short circuited intuition.

Mark my words, these non-writers will not enjoy long lasting writing careers. They simply can’t. They don’t know how to write.

But I’m off track. Back to it.

If your first path is joy, and if you’re committed to spreading that same joy, the money will make its way towards you and you will live a full, happy, and beautiful life.

Truth be told, the only path to joy leads through the door of intuition.
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This article written by Beth Erickson is one that every writer, aspiring or seasoned, should take seriously. When you write with intuition and joy, your readers can sense it and will come back to it again and again. Without joy, your writing will be as flat as the paper it is written on.  

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The race-course is used by joggers and walkers...
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This morning I left home a little later than I should have for my morning walk. The reason was that I simply thought I would lie in bed a little longer, but the increasing brightness on the other side of my window shades reminded me that time was not waiting on me. So I got up and went for my walk. Fortunately, by the time I got to the park it  felt around 70 degrees and there was still a nice number of walkers/joggers to keep me motivated.

What does this have to do with writing, you are probably asking? Discipline. The same thing that gets you out of bed every morning, is the same thing it takes to get you in front of the computer to write something. Or to send out those queries or to read a book on writing.

I have to confess that I am still lacking in the discipline department. No, that’s not entirely true. Work and household duties sometimes get in the way of my writing. I do not spend as much time as I would like to, doing what I love. But I do write or engage in writing activities everyday. Whether it is for a client, for Livestrong or critting for my online group, I manage to squeeze in a little something everyday. And that, like exercise, is what counts.

I know that if I’m to eventually drop those two dress sizes by Christmas, as I plan to, I have to do what it takes to achieve that goal. In the same way if I’m to become a successful writer I must write every day.  So here’s to discipline. Do you struggle with discipline in any area of your life? Leave your comments below.

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     This morning I stepped out of my daughter’s house in Florida intending to run some errands, but the heat sent me scurrying for cover. Summer is here. What a contrast to a few months earlier when Floridians complained it was too cold. In Georgia where I live we enjoy the changing of the seasons, a  natural phenomenon that never fails to fill me with awe.  The lush foliage and vibrant colors of spring give way to a sea of summer green, then to the red, orange and brown of fall and finally the dry, naked branches of winter.

For those of us who are writers, we may encounter seasonal changes in our writing. Our prolific pages of heart-stopping poetry or prose may become scarcer and scarcer until we are suddenly staring at a blank page.  What happened?  Call it writer’s block or whatever you will, it’s not a pleasant experience. What can we do about it? Write! That’s the only answer.  But what can you write when your mind is as dense as a foggy morning in Georgia? Write whatever comes to your mind. If you are working on a novel, don’t think, just keep on writing. If you are working on an article, put it aside and start writing about … fog?  Why not?

When you do this a few things will happen. Your novel plot will move in a direction you never envisioned. Your characters  begin acting in ways you didn’t program them to act,  your article takes  on a new dimension and you gain a new perspective on … fog. But the best part of all is that your writer’s block will become dislodged and you will enter a new lush season of creativity. Try it!

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