Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Five Minute Exercise - Gratitude

1. Set your clocks/timers for Five (5) Minutes.

2. Write about Gratitude. Write about the feeling of thankfulness you experience occasionally when you write. As you write, be thankful for your intuitive gift that allows you to hear your inner voice.

Get into as much detail as you can for the next five minutes.

3. Ready?

4. Go.

5. Finished? Review and be amazed.

I hope you had fun. Come back next Friday for a new writing prompt.

Was this exercise helpful?


Did you succeed with this writing exercise? Was it helpful? Were you able to write and be thankful? Did you thank the gift that allows you to hear your inner voice? Do you have feelings of gratitude for your gift? Was this exercise helpful? Did you enjoy it?


Why or Why Not?

Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Ways to Develop Style

We are all looking for ways to improve our writing. Today, I thought I would help you develop your style. So, what is style? When in the discussion of writing, style is "the way in which an idea is expressed, not the idea itself."

1. Think About Style -  Think about how you want to express your idea. Use all of your senses.

2. Listen to What you Write - Think of your writing as music. The words you write make sounds, and when those sounds are in harmony, the writing will work. Read your writing aloud. Listen for the beat. Listen for gaps where the music doesn't work. "There are no good sounds or bad sounds, just as there are no good notes or bad notes in music. It is the way in which you combine them that can make the writing succeed or fail. It's the music that matters." states Gary Provost.

3. Mimic Spoken Language - Writing should be conversational. Your writing should convey to the reader a sense of conversation. Mimic spoken language in the variety of its music, in the simplicity of its words, in the directness of its expression. Writing provides time for contemplation. Use it well.

4. Vary Sentence Length - Vary the sentence length and you create music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm. A lilt, a harmony. Write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader's ear. Don't just write words. Write music.

5. Vary Sentence Construction - Subject. Predicate. Object. That's how we were taught early in life to construct sentences. However, identical sentence structure can become boring to readers. Of course, you should strive for clarity and not arrange your sentences in a way that strangles their logic. Keep the primary elements of the sentence dancing so that they will create their own music.

6. Write Complete Sentences - Complete sentences have a subject and a predicate. You should always try to write complete sentences. Good writing often contains incomplete sentences. The incomplete sentence is a useful tool. Using it wisely can invigorate the music of your words. Like a chime or the beat of a drum.

7. Show, Don't Tell - When you are showing people something, you are trusting them to make up their minds for themselves. Readers like to be trusted. Don't dictate to them. Let them see the person, situation, or thing you are describing, and they will not only like what you have written, they will like you for trusting them.

8. Keep Related Words Together - Adjectives should be placed near the nouns they describe so they don't appear to be describing some other noun. In the same vein, adverbs should be close to verbs they modify, and dependent clauses should be near the words on which they depend for meaning.

9. Use Parallel Construction - Just as the steady beat of a drum can often enrich a melody, the repetition of a sound can often improve the music of your writing. When you deliberately arrange words and sounds in similar fashion to show the reader the similarity of information contained in sentences it is called parallel construction.

10. Don't Force a Personal Style - Style is your writing. It is tangled in the content of your words and the nature of you. Do not create some kind of persona in your head and try to capture it on paper. Do not try to write like Erma Bombeck, Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway or anybody else. Write well and without self-consciousness. Only then will your own style emerge.

If you follow these simple points, you'll be writing your own music and it will be delightful to the reader and to yourself.




Writing Reference - 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Five Minute Exercise - A Need that is Not Being Met

1. Set your clocks/timers for Five (5) Minutes.

2. Write about A Need that is Not Being Met. It can be a need of society or your own need. Make a list of action steps to bring the society or you closer to meeting that need.

Get into as much detail as you can for the next five minutes.

3. Ready?

4. Go.

5. Finished? Review and be amazed.

I hope you had fun. Come back next Friday for a new writing prompt.

Was this exercise helpful?


Did you succeed with this writing exercise? Was it helpful? Were you able to discover a need about yourself or society that is not being met? Did you come up with logical action steps to bring society or you closer to fulfilling that need? Was this exercise helpful? Did you enjoy it?


Why or Why Not?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Using Adverbs Effectively

Not every writer is a fan of adverbs. According to Stephen King, "the road to hell is paved with adverbs."

There have been many campaigns led to "kill the adverb."

But, in all that blunder and huff, did it ever occur to anyone that the adverb can also be used effectively when writing?

I'm not saying we should pepper our writing projects with adverbs, but used judicially, they can be very effective and help progress your story.

So, what does an adverb do, actually?

1. An adverb tells us more about a verb.

2. An adverb describes or modifies the verb in some way.

3. Many adverbs end with the suffix "ly" but not all.

4. Adverbs often tell us how something happened.


A good way to identify an adverb is to look for the "ly" ending, however not all adverbs end in "ly".

Here is a short list of some adverbs that do not end in "ly".

Fast 
Often 
Very 
Quite 
So 
Well

We use each of these words "often", don't we?

According to the website Emphasis ".. good, clear writing is more about communicating your meaning efficiently than banging your point home – and that means only using adverbs that add genuine, useful information. Whenever possible, show, don’t tell."

It makes sense, right? In whatever we write, we need to always make sure we are "showing" and not "telling" to get our point across. So, a smart move would be to only use adverbs in the add genuine, useful information.

From the Daily Post at Wordpress.com I found a great post about adverbs:

Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and sometimes even other adverbs. They’ll often tell us “how” something was done, e.g., He walked slowly. Or, He walked very sowly. But, do adverbs clarify, or are they crutches for lazy or rushed writers who rely on adverbs to do their verbs’ heavy lifting? What if, instead of using adverbs to tell us how the man walked, we swapped in a stronger verb to show us how he walked?
Consider these alternatives:
  • The man plodded.
  • The man ambled.
  • The man trudged.
In each instance above, our new verb not only better describes how the man moved, it creates a picture in the reader’s mind. Stronger verbs can also convey emotion more effectively, which makes for stronger, vivid writing.
If you're looking for some extra exercises on helping understand modifiers go here.

Always remember this, your purpose in writing your story is to show as much as possible to the reader. If all else fails, reach for an adverb, but try in every way to find an alternative first. For stronger writing, use stronger words.






Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Five Minute Exercise - Fate

1. Set your clocks/timers for Five (5) Minutes.

2. Write about Fate. Do you believe in fate -- that power which is thought to determine one's future? Does fate play a role in your success or failure as a writer?

Get into as much detail as you can for the next five minutes.

3. Ready?

4. Go.

5. Finished? Review and be amazed.

I hope you had fun. Come back next Friday for a new writing prompt.

Was this exercise helpful?


Did you succeed with this writing exercise? Was it helpful? Did you come to terms whether or not you believe in fate? Did you determine if fate played a role in your career as a writer? If you do not believe in fate, what do you believe in? Was this exercise helpful? Did you enjoy it?


Why or Why Not?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing Tips - Telling a Story or Giving a Report?


The difference between "story" and "report" is crucial to the reader's expectation and the writer's execution.

The word "story" has a special meaning, and stories have specific requirements that create predictable effects.

What are the differences between "report" and "story", and how can the writer use them to strategic advantage?

A scholar by the name of Louise Rosenblatt argued at one point that readers read for two reasons:

1. Information
2. Experience

That's the difference.

Reports convey information. Stories create experience.

Reports transfer knowledge. Stories transport the reader.

The tools required to create reports and stories differ as well.

Every writer should know about the famous "Five W's and H". They've helped writers gather and convey information with the reader's interest in mind.

Who
What
Where
When
How

They are the most common elements of information.

When used in reports, these pieces of information are fixed in time, fixed so readers can scan and understand.

This is how you "un-fix" them, when you can transform information into narrative:

Who becomes Character
What becomes Action (What happened.)
Where becomes Setting
When becomes Chronology
Why becomes Cause or Motive
How becomes Process (How it happened.)

As the writer, you must figure out whether your project requires the crafting of a report, a story, or some combination of both.

In can be said that stories require rising and falling action, complications, points of insight, and resolutions. As a novelist, you can invent these movements into a story. However, as a reporter or non-fiction writer you must report them.

A narrative requires a story and a storyteller.

An article in a newspaper requires a reporter.

By combining story and report, you, the writer can speak to both our hearts and our heads, creating sympathy and understanding.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Look at the newspaper with the distinction between reports and stories in mind. Look for narrative opportunities missed. Look for bits of stories embedded in reports.
2. Take the same approach to your own work. Look for stories, or at least passages in stories, where you transport the reader to the scene. Search for places in your reports where you might have included story elements.
3. Reread the conversion list for the Five W's and H. Keep it handy the next time you research and write. Use it to transform report elements into the building blocks of a story.
4. The next time you read a novel, look for the ways in which the author weaves information about politics or history or geography into the tapestry of narrative. How can you apply these techniques in your own work?

So, in your next project, are you going to tell a story or give a report?




Writing Resource: Writing Tools - 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Five Minute Exercise - Event from your Childhood

1. Set your clocks/timers for Five (5) Minutes.

2. Write about an Event From Your Childhood. Try to recreate the smells, the textures, and the sounds as you describe the event.

Get into as much detail as you can for the next five minutes.

3. Ready?

4. Go.

5. Finished? Review and be amazed.

I hope you had fun. Come back next Friday for a new writing prompt.

Was this exercise helpful?


Did you succeed with this writing exercise? Was it helpful? Did you find an event from your childhood to write about? Did it bring back happy or sad memories? Was this exercise helpful? Did you enjoy it?


Why or Why Not?