Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Give Me 250 - Scene at a Lake

Let's celebrate our writing. New to Your Writing Coach is the "Give me 250 on Wednesdays" prompt. Every Wednesday I will give you a prompt and all you have to do is give me 250 words on whatever pops into your head about the prompt. It can be a draft or a final revision. Just give me the 250 words you want to share. Post the 250 words on your blog. Celebrate your writing!

Then, when you are finished, link your permalink post here and discover what others have posted for their 250. Share this link with your Twitter friends and Facebook friends. Share away. Just celebrate and share. Use the hashtag #250Wednesday on Twitter.

Only one rule: Encourage the person who linked before you. It's important that we all have validation for our writing. Encouragement is important. Validate another's writing; be supportive, just like you'd want someone to validate yours.

Invite your friends to join in the fun. What can you write in 250 words with our prompts?

Let's grow this writing prompt challenge. Grab the button and share with others.

250 Wednesdays Button

2/27/13 Prompt - Scene at a Lake
Write a scene describing the lake, surrounding scenery, and any animals that may appear. Be descriptive and keep it to 250 words, if you  can.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Writing Exercise - 5-Second Shortcut

We are going to start something new here at Your Writing Coach. Every Friday, I'm going to create a writing exercise for you to stretch your writing muscles. Let's see what you can do with the prompts I provide.

Gabriel Fielding said, "Writing to me is a voyage, an odyssey, a discovery, because I'm never certain of precisely what I will find."

That's how I want you to approach your writing abilities. Never be certain of what you will find, but always be surprised at what you can do.

The 5-Second Shortcut to Writing in the Lyric Register

From "Build your imagination and power of expression" by Steve Almond we are going to use his prompt suggestion. This short piece was first published in The Writer, April 2007.

1. Write a short sentence that captures some intense moment from your life, such as your first kiss or the first time you were deeply ashamed or powerfully scared.

2. The bulk of the scene must take in no more than five seconds. That is, you should be writing about a very small segment of time.

3. Rather than moving the action forward, concentrate on slowing down and moving it inward. The key here is to keep yourself from racing ahead. You must capture everything that is going on in this very short chronology.

4. This action of compression will help your writing rise into the lyric register, which is marked by a compression of sensual and psychological detail.

5. If you have a scene in a novel or story that feels too rushed, apply the above instructions. Isolate a single five-second period and force yourself to record everything that is happening to the characters, both in the physical world around them and the emotional wold within them.

Were you able to isolate a five second segment in your life and write about it? Were you able to find a segment in your novel that needed to slow down? Did you use this exercise to help you? Was this exercise helpful at all?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordiness - Cutting Until It's Right

Good writing is concise writing. That means cutting and editing until you've said exactly what you want to say without extra words or phrases or saying things twice.

How do you go about doing this? Well, lets see how we can correct wordiness. The book The Least You Should Know About English is the perfect "go to" book for finding information about wordiness.

There are several examples of wordiness that we can learn from:

1. Don't say something in ten words when five can do.

"At the present time" should be "at present" or "now"
"In this day and age" should be "today"

2. Don't say something twice.

"in the month of June" June is a month so it should be "in July"
"8:00 am in the morning" should be "8 am"
"in my personal opinion" should be "my opinion"

3. Don't use expressions that add nothing to the meaning of the sentence.

"The fact of the matter is that she is tired." should be "She is tired."

Here are more examples of wordiness:

Wordy Writing                                                                 Concise Writing
at that point in time                                                             then
there is no doubt but                                                           no doubt
he is a person who                                                              he
a person who is honest                                                        an honest person
there are many boys who                                                    many boys
he was there in person                                                        he was there
personally I think                                                                I think
my father he                                                                        my father
surrounded on all sides                                                       surrounded
during the winter months                                                    during the winter
brown in color                                                                    brown
refer back                                                                            refer
repeat again                                                                         repeat
two different kinds                                                              two kinds
free complimentary copy                                                    complimentary copy
free gift                                                                               gift
very unique                                                                         unique
past history                                                                          history
end result                                                                            result
and etc.                                                                               etc.
usual custom                                                                       custom
new innovation                                                                   innovation
the field of electronics                                                         electronics
no money at all                                                                   no money

If you'd like to take look at some practice sentences, see if you can edit correctly for wordiness.

1. It seems to that me that many of us use many more words than we really need in our writing.

2. It is interesting to note that the kiwi bird, which is found in New Zealand, sleeps 20 hours out of the 24 hours every day.

3. There are going to be several ideas of importance that will be presented and discussed.

4. He is a man who does as much work on his vacation as he does when he is at his regular job.

5. My past experience has made me convinced of the fact that one has to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities in investing money.

If you'd like, please write your corrections in the comments below. I look forward to seeing your answers.

Can you think of more wordiness phrases and how to make them more concise?