These are some of the notes taken by Tricia Campbell at the SCWW Intensive Workshop held in Rock Hill on June 16. Thanks to Tricia for sharing. (Tommy Tomlinson was speaker.)
Three Great Truths:
1. Writing is mostly a craft.
2. Writers never stop making mistakes. One of the great secrets of being a great writer is being able to embrace your imperfections.
3. With practice you will be better.
See and Record:
Have something with you all the time to record your thoughts, literally, all the time. Many times, the few moments it takes to get to paper are long enough to forget. If you write everything down the worst thing that can happen is you don’t use it.
1. Use all your senses.
2. Look for metaphors.
3. Vary your perspective. Look at situations/scenes from different angles. This is especially good when you have a fairly boring section to write. Think of all the different ways you can see the situation. Decide which of those server your story the best.
4. Write the same thing seven different ways. For example vary the tense, the emotion, the speaker, etc.
Nitty Gritty Writing Tips:
1. You are like the director of a movie, you have complete license to create.
2. A scene is a unit of action and carries the weight of the story you are trying to tell. It reveals something about one of your characters. It has a beginning, middle and end. It pushes the story.
3. Have your characters do something to add tension. For example, “Joe is sitting at his desk,” is a boring statement. However, “Joe is sitting at his desk holding a bazooka,” is not.
4. Grasp the essence of what the scene is about and why it’s important.
5. If you paint your scene well, you do not need intricate dialog. The scene will play out and the reader will just know what is going on.
6. Be ruthless with your own work. Sever the dead wood but don’t burn it, put it in a dead wood bin.
7. Give your story a sense of place but don’t overdo. At the beginning, the reader needs action first.
8. Look for dialog. Real life is conversations. Listen to how people talk, what they say, how they say it. Vary the personalities but keep it real.
9. If you have to say, “…she said sadly,” you probably didn’t write the scene well enough, redo it. Use this kind of thing sparingly. Adverb carries the same rule of thumb, “…she said quickly,” for example.
10. Look closer at your verb choices. The verbs should be strong enough to carry the sentence. *Note: Yes this is hard work for the writer.
11. As a general rule, use shorter sentences. Longer sentences promote energy as in chase scenes.
12. Put music in your story. It will draw out your own emotion as you write.
13. The ending is more important than the beginning. Think about movies. If the movie starts off great but peters out at the end you are left disappointed. If the ending is great, you will search for more movies like that. The ending is what people will take away from the story. Yes, the beginning has to hook the reader. Remember, the purpose of the first sentence is to convince the reader to read the second sentence.
14. Don’t tie up every loose end. Leave some unanswered questions.
15. Write your ending paragraph then cover it with your hand. Read the previous paragraph. Is it a better ending?
16. Do you know the end of your story? If not, it is much harder to write.
17. In revising your work, you have to be a total hard ass. Your job is to make sure the words are right and the story is good. It is not to make you feel good.
1. Think about your audience. Who will read what you are writing? The more expansive your audience the more you may have to explain why something is funny or tragic, or the details of your world.
2. Read your work out loud. Let someone else read it out loud to you.
3. The story is the boss. If something sounds like “writing” take it out. You are telling a story. Writing is the vehicle. You must have a story to tell, something to say. Without the story you have an empty shell.
1. Know what your routine is and do it.
2. Seed the clouds. Where do you get ideas?
3. Tell other people that you are a writer. Print business cards saying so. Hand them out. If you tell people you are a writer they will start telling you stories.
4. If you write fiction, hang out with other fiction writers.
5. Change your routine. Routine makes your brain go on autobot. The auto pilot part of our brain is very powerful. It wants to take over. Sit in a different pew at church, buy groceries starting on the other side of the store, stop at those places you always wanted to stop but were always too busy. You may notice something you have never seen before.
6. Engage the world. Even as an introvert we get the energy we need to create from the world around us.
Do these things and you will not be a writer, you will be a creative spirit who gives back to the world more than you take.
Again thanks to Tricia for sharing her notes. These are good basic suggestions that we tend to overlook when we are composing our prose. I will post these on the website.
ages, and other content
Click to add text, images, and other contentHave you ever dreamed of becoming a writer? Many people do. Personal computers with word processors have made that dream possible for almost anyone. All you need is a computer or some paper and a pencil, and a passion for the written word.
Sure you want to write, but do you want to be a writer? The difference between writing and being a writer is about the same difference as going fishing and becoming a fisherman, or golfing and joining the PGA. No amount of talent or passion can take the place of hard work in writing.
The Union County Writers' Club is a group of people who both write and want to become writers. If that is your dream, we would love to help you get started. But before you set out to become a writer, here is some things you ought to keep in mind.
* Do not quit your day job. Most people have no idea how many people are just like them. It is estimated that for every non-fiction manuscript accepted by a publisher, more than two hundered are not. For fiction manuscripts, the number jumps to five hundred. The majority of books that do become published will lose money. Only a handful of people manage to make a living as freelance writers.
* Get use to disappointment. Due to the enormous volume of manuscripts, it can be many months before you hear back from a publisher. Expect to go through dozens, if not hundreds, of publishing houses and agents before you do. Hemmingway papered his office walls with rejections slips. Even the best writers receive rejection letters. They are not personal; they are part of the business of writing.
* Do your homework. Publishers have different ways of handling unsolicited manuscripts. Some mail them back unopened or throw them away. Other publishers will only receive query letters, while others want to see a chapter or two.
How do you find out what a publisher wants? Simple. You ask them. Usually, you can find their requirements on their websites. Others will send their rules when you write for them, just make sure to include a stamped, self-address envelope. Also, make sure what kind of books a publisher wants. They may specialize in only one genre and others will not be considered.
* Keep your notes from English 101. Publishers will not consider manuscripts which are sloppily written or contain poor spelling or grammar. If you are serious about publishing, it is a good idea to give it to a professional proofreader and editor before you send it off the first time.
* Go to conferences. Consider attending professional writers' conferences. Publishers and agents often go to these looking for promising work. You will meet actual professional writers and see how the business really works. You can also get valuable assistance and feed back from a writers club such as The Union County Writers' Club and from joining critique groups of fellow writers.
* Consider alternative publishing. Now for the good news. There are other ways of getting in print. Considered self-publishing or electronic publishing. In self-publishing, you pay a company to print your work. The publicity is all up to you. E-publishing is a promising new option. It costs very little to put a book in a form that can be read with book readers (Kindle), computers, or mobile devices.
Whether or not you publish, writing, it is worth the effort. What you say and think is important, so start writing. Remember your most important audience is yourself.
by Billy Fleming
Have you ever chuckled at your self after something spilled out of your mouth that rhymed and added that funny little rhyming phrase, “I'm a poet and I know it” because you assumed others noticed it too? I have. Or maybe you felt a bit of awe when you said something surprisingly moving and someone complimented you on such beautiful words. Maybe even the text you or a friend placed on a social network sounded special somehow. I love Facebook; it's where I noticed one of my nieces writes well-- so from time-to-time I push that “like” button and encourage her to write more.
All of these moments show us how putting words together seem to come from a creative force within us. Want to see what you've got? Here are some tips for writing poetry:
Let readers figure out what you are saying-- just write whatever sounds good to you-- without pressing you brain for more.
Yes, write freely, whenever and whatever comes to mind. Don't look at it with disgust if it seems like a bad poem later. Simply revisit what you wrote, changing anything you'd like until it reaches perfection? Back track to the place you thought it sounded the best. There, it has reached perfection! Besides, there's no time frame for revision.
Every line of your poem should be important to that poem, and make it interesting to read. As the saying goes, “A poem with only three great lines should be three lines long.”
Read your poetry out loud. How does it sound to you? Does it sound like it came from the heart or does it sound phony? What can you do to make it more powerful?
Fewer pronouns and more sensory words can make it more powerful. You can look up other words from the dictionary or a thesaurus that might fill the need. A quick way to do this is by using the following website to enter a word and find a rhyming one (plus their meanings) or “imperfect” near rhymes-- www.rhymezone.com --but do not put them in your work if they do not tell the truth and they do not change the meaning of your poem for a rhyming word; and remember poems do not have to rhyme.
Reading other poets work can help. What makes you like or dislike them? Read more. Write more. Show the world what you've got!
by Nancy Bezant
“Ugh!” “Ooops!” “I don't know why I didn't notice that!” I hear that stuff sometimes while someone is sharing something they wrote with others, or after it got published and they are stuck with it. Why? Hmmm, maybe they did not thoroughly proofread it? I'm a perfectionist and this can be a problem when I'm writing, though it really helps with spelling and grammar mistakes.
Here are some tips on Proofreading:
First, use Spell Checker on your computer; this will catch many unwanted things. However, you need to proofread it from time-to-time as you write and again when you think it is finished. Even, though we tend to reread our pieces as we go along, the reason is Spell Checker does make its own misstakes.
Yes, Spell Checker is both a blessing and a curse for the writer. It won't necessarily notice words that sound the same but were switched by you. For example, “for” and “four” may be correctly spelled but not picked up by the program as being the unintended word for the sentence, so do not put your complete faith in it.
Watch out for homonyms, contractions, apostrophes, and punctuation. Sometimes Spell Checker wants to change “commonly confused words” like “it's” and “its” when you know darn well what you are doing.
Life is busy. You must find a way to spend some time in solitude if you are really going to concentrate on your writing. This means eliminating distractions like the good old television and cell phone. Breath and relax. Take breaks and sleep on it.
Try altering the look of your document. Consider changing the size, contrast, or style of text. These simple changes might trick your brain into thinking it is reading something different and give you a new perspective on what you have written.
Reread your work aloud. Speaking will naturally slow down your reading process and you may be surprised to hear something sounding out of place.
Do not be shy! Give the finished paper or electronic text to someone else to proofread; someone else reading the same thing for the first time will more easily pick up on any mistakes.
There you have it, a fresh perspective for a fresh perspective.
by Nancy Bezant
Local author Connie Agard discussed lessons she learned publishing her book “It’s All in Our Heads” at our August meeting. The title is published under her pen name C K Johns. Visit her website at www.connieagard.com
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED WRITING THIS BOOK
· NO GOOD TIME TO WRITE A BOOK
· NO GOOD TIME TO PUBLISH A BOOK
Eighteen publishers turned down Richard Bach’s 10,000 word story about a soaring seagull before Macmillan finally published in 1970.
By 1975, Jonathan Livingston Seagull had sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. alone.
· WRITING CANNOT COME FROM GUILT, WRITING COMES FROM FREEDOM….
Creative people are sensitive people and not always able to deflect criticisms in a positive way.
They get easily discouraged unless they learn to live life on top of the negatives or criticisms.
· RIDE ABOVE THE NEGATIVES
· LISTEN TO YOURSELF ABOVE THE REST
· DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE TRUTH
Connie is also an accomplished artist having her work displayed at various arts venues. She has a studio in Indian Trail.
Click to a Ezines, e-newsletter, e-e-e-yikes! How can anybody handle all of the new forms of media in addition to the traditional favorites? It can be an overwhelming experience and before you know it, it is taking up way too much precious time. Well, here is my take on it.
The beauty of the electronic form through the Internet is that it gives far more opportunities for writers without power to express themselves and therefore may give you something more specific to your tastes to read.
Still, if you desire more than the simplest of opinion pieces, the credibilty of these sources of information may be questionable; so you want to do some research. Research? Doesn't that take a lot of time? Maybe, maybe not.
Start with a directory. Free or by subscription, these offer a “one-stop” way to locate what interests you. Often in addition to a brief description of the material, they will provide links to preview or learn even more about what you would receive. Sometimes, a free sample can be viewed or downloaded. Plus, you can check the source's credentials and length of time it has been in publication.
Consult an online library. You don't have to be registered to take a look or put an interest in a search field. Here is an example-- www.thefreelibrary.com. You will find some unique ezines there as well as other things, but one great aspect of this type of environment is you can return anytime on your time; you are in control. No one will contact you to renew or offer other stuff. Also, when you tire of one magazine, you can try another-- free.
Try an online search engine using several key terms to narrow and represent your interest. For example, “Christian education for children ezine (or magazine)” or “Trucks rigs jobs ezine (or magazine)” or “Backyard bird watchers e-newsletter”. Put in that form, you will get fewer results that are more pointed in the desired direction. Give these a try and discover new reading material you will enjoy and help omit the rest of the clutter.
by Nancy Bezant