Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Mystery

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing  Prompt. Today we are going to go with a "Mystery" prompt. Use the following "Mstery" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a story?

"You woke up to find a post-it note attached to your forehead. This note is a clue that leads you to another clue somewhere in your house. Your roommates claim ignorance but decide they'll help you to solve the mystery. One clue continues to lead to another. where will it end?"

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Do you follow the clues left? Were you able to come up with an explanation? What was the end result? Were your roommates really involved?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Writer's Secret Magical Genius Part 2

In our recent post, we've discovered that in all writers there is a "genius" that exists of some sort that can be harnessed and used. In this post, we are going to go through the steps on figuring out how to do that.

1. First, to get your genius into action, you must quiet your mind. Learn to hold your mind as still as your body. You will have to practice this. But, there will come a time when you'll be able to do with with some consistency.

2. Practice in Control. Repeat the procedure once a day for several days. Just close your eyes with the idea of holding your mind stead, but feeling no urgency or tension. Once a day, don't push it or attempt to force it. As you begin to get results, make the period a little longer, but never strain over it. If you cannot do this, choose something simple, like a child's rubber ball, (gray is better than something shiny.) Hold the ball in your hand and look at it, confining your attention to that one simple objet and calling your mind back to it quietly whenever it wanders. When you are able to think of nothing but the object for some moments,  take the next step.

3. The Story Idea as the Object. When you have succeeded, even a little, try holding a story idea or a character in your mind, and letting your stillness center around it. You'll see almost incredible results. Ideas will take on color and form; a character that was a puppet will move and breathe. Consciously or unconsciously every successful writer who ever lived calls on this faculty to put the breath of life into his/her creations.

4. The magic in operation. Choose a story at random. Since we are practicing, you may either choose one of your stories or a character from a well-known book. Make a rough outline of the book.l Decide on the main characters, then the secondary characters. See as plainly as possible what crucial situation you would like to put them into, and how you would like to leave them at the end. Don't worry about getting them either in or out of their dilemma; simple see them in it, and then see it resolved. Remember, we are just seeing it set in motion, the means to the end. Think over the whole story in a sort of pleasant indulgent mood, correcting any obvious absurdities, reminding yourself of this or that item which you would like to include if if it could be brought in naturally.

Now, take that rough draft of a story out for a walk with you. You are going to walk till you are mildly tired, and at the time you should be back at your starting place; gauge your distance by that. Get into a smooth and easy swing, not vigorous and athletic - a lazy, loafing walk is better at first, although it may become more rapid later. Now think about your story; let yourself be engrossed in it.-- but think of it as a story, not of how you are going to write it, or what means you will use to get this or that affect. Refuse to let yourself be diverted by anything outside. As you circle back to your starting place, think of the story's end, as though you were laying it aside after reading it.

5. Inducing the "Artistic Coma". Now bathe, still thinking of the story in a desultory way and then go into a dim room. Lie down, flat on your back: the alternative position, to be chosen only if you find that the other ma kew you too drowsy, is to sit not quite fully relaxed in a low, large chair. When you have taken a comfortable position, do not move again: make your body quiet. Then quiet your mind. Lie there, not quite asleep, not quite awake.

After a while -- it may be twenty minutes, it may be an hour; it may be two -- you will feel a definite impulse to rise, a kind of surge of energy. Obey it at once; you will be in a slightly somnambulistic state indifference to everything on earth except what you are about to write; dull to all the outer world but vividly alive to the world of your imagination. Get up and go to your paper or computer, and begin to write. The state you are in at that moment is the state an artist works in. Genius.

6. Valedictory. How good a piece of work emerges depends on you and your life: how sensitive, how discriminating you are, how closely your experience reflects the experience of your potential readers, how thoroughly you have taught yourself the elements of good prose writing, how good an ear you have for rhythm. But, limited or not, you will find, if you have followed the exercises, that you can bring forth a shapely, integrated piece of work by this method. If will have flaws, no doubt; but you will be able to see them objectively and work on eradicating them. By these exercises you have made yourself into a good instrument for the use of your own genius. You are flexible and sturdy, like a good tool. You know what it feels like to work as an artist.

Now, as homework, read all the books you can find on writing fiction. You are at last in a position to have them do you some good. :-)

Resource: Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Home

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing  Prompt. Today we are going to go with a "Home" prompt. Use the following "Home" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a story?

"What does the concept of home mean to you? Would you call just one place or multiple places home at the same time? Describe how you came to this feeling about your 'home'."

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you determine if you have a concept of home or homes? What does home mean to you? Did home mean something different when you were younger than now? Was this prompt helpful for you?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Writer's Secret Magical Genius Part 1

All writers have a third component to their nature - genius. I know, you're mother knew it all along, right?

But, any writers go their entire lifetime, without even recognizing it. Without liberating it. Without working with it. Without understanding it.

So sad.

In Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande says this magnificent statement, "No human being is so poor as to have no  trace of genius; none so great that he comes within infinity of using his own inheritance to the full."

The average man knows nothing of the genius he carries within him.

Others may labor arduously for a glimpse of inspiration. That is not genius.  There is an energy release. Authors know of it. Artists understand it.

Many call it "getting in your stride," "hitting the zone".. or my favorite, "the voices started talking."

Every writer has their own experience of that burst of genius. That sense of clarity. Their own method of releasing the faculty by some trial and error process that they've discovered works for them. It's what starts their "rituals" in their writing. Lighting only strikes when the coffee cup is set here, and the sun is just setting or rising, and the melodies of so and so are playing and the chair is adjusted so.

Am I right?

There is a common denominator if you look at it hard enough. Rhythmical, monotonous, and wordless. That is the key.

As if by putting oneself into a light hypnosis, a writer has found the key to tapping into his/her genius and writing the story to the bones.

Next week we'll discuss the formulaic way into the Writer's Genius.

Writers Resource:

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Timing

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing  Prompt. Today we are going to go with a "Timing" prompt. Use the following "Timing" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a story?

"They say timing is everything. How would your life change if you had perfect timing? You'd always say and do things at exactly the perfect time without fail.  How will things improve for you? Be specific."

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you determine if your life would change if you had perfect timing? Did your life improve for you? Was this prompt helpful for you?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Taming the Inner Critic


 It's the hardest part about being a writer, isn't it?

Life, in general, really.

If life and enough outer critics like (agents, editors, publishers, uncle Sal, etc,) aren't enough, our inner critic is more unpleasant than any of them.

What is your inner critic? It's that little voice in your head or that tight feeling in your throat or stomach, that seems intent on convincing you that what you're writing couldn't possibly succeed or that you're possibly a fraud who's going to be found out any second.

When you're manuscript is rejected, it could be for any number of reasons:

  • it could be too similar to another project they're working on
  • the company could be having financial problems
  • there just isn't a good match

Rejections are just someone's opinion. Don't let them get you down. Many of our most famous authors have been rejected. Ask Stephen King about his rejection for Carrie. I believe it read something like this, "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." Uh huh. And, who got the big bucks for selling the book and the movie rights and the TV and ...?

It's pretty easy to ignore all those outer critics. I know it's more difficult to ignore the inner critic. That's what we're about to do here. We're going to tame that Inner Critic.

The Inner Critic or that Inner Voice judges everything, doesn't it? It takes on many forms: self doubt, excuses, and fear.

We're going to knock that ol' Inner Critic for a loop.

First, Identify Your Inner Critic
The inner critic takes on many forms: a remembered voice, a visualization of failure, a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and so on. Think about the form it takes for you. If you're not sure, think about a writing related task and then identify the feeling you get when you feel the inner critic coming upon you.

Decide What You Want
Sure, you'd like to get rid of the inner critic, right? However, don't move so fast. That critic does work in a positive way as well. It helps you make an initial decision and then gives you useful, constructive feedback as you proceed. Unfortunately, most inner critics continue to judge and keep criticizing or questioning your decisions.

So, form a statement describing the relationship you want with your inner critic. At this point, you may want to change the name from "inner critic" to "inner guide" to help you start thinking in a different way. For example, your statement might be, "I want my inner guide to be a friendly, constructive source of positive as well as negative feedback." Think about what it would be like if your inner guide acted in such a way.

Bring it into View
Imagine where your inner critic is located. Your head? Your heart? Your stomach? Your shoulder? Wherever it is, bring it into view or focus by picturing it going from its usual position to a few feet in front of you. Adjust the distance until it's comfortable for you. What does your inner critic look like?Don't worry if you don't get an image right away, that's okay. Take a deep breath, let it out, and let your imagination loose. Don't dismiss any images.

Does perceiving your inner critic in this way affect how you feel about it? Are you aware of any new aspects than you were before? Does it seem to have less power than it did before you imagined it with a true image?

Find the Good Intention
Most inner critics have a positive intention. It's usually trying to save you from criticism or disappointment. Do you know what your inner critic is trying to do for you?

Find an Alternative
What can you do to more appropriately attain that positive intention? Do you have a trusted friend who can look over your manuscript before submitting it?

When your inner critic expresses itself, how does it make you feel? Do you relate to it as if you were a child relating to a stern adult? If so, consciously look at your inner critic and listen as the adult you are. Does that change have any affect on you?

You can adjust changing the image or the sound of your inner critic.

Reform and Practice
After some practice and experimenting, you may decide you like a particular form for your inner critic (inner guide).  They've settled in to becoming a helpful partner rather than a hinderance.

If your inner critic ever reverts back to its old self, you can always do a 30 second review of what we've learned here to reformat your inner guide and have it back to speeding your progress rather than holding you back.

Did this help with taming your Inner Critic?

Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolff

Monday, September 1, 2014

How to Avoid Common Writing Mistakes

In the book, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost, he goes to great lengths to describe
how to avoid grammatical errors. I'm going to condense for you, what Mr Provost has to say.

1. Respect the Rules of Grammar
Mr. Provost says it very succinctly, "to succeed as a writer, you must respect the rules of grammar."  He goes one to say, "Good grammar and good writing are not twins, but they are usually found in the same place."

The rules of grammar are not meant to obstruct your work, but to help arrange it in such a way that pure harmony is reached when words, letters, paragraphs, sentences, all work together to create the great symphony of communication.

2. Do not change Tenses
It's as as simple as this: If you being in one tense, do not switch to another.

3. Know how to use the Possessive Case
As you know, most nouns are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and "s". For example:
The cat's toy got stuck under the rug.

However, if a noun is plural, you just add an apostrophe. For example:
All of the girls' toys were arranged in a circle on the rug.

As for the personal pronoun its, it does not require an apostrophe. For example:
The dog scratched at its collar.

4. Make Verbs agree with Subjects
It should be simple right? Plural subjects require plural verbs. Singular subjects require singular verbs. When you're writing a long complicated sentence, check to make sure your verb and subject agree.

5. Avoid Dangling Modifiers
What is a dangling modifier? Something you don't want to have in your sentence, that's for sure! Actually, it's a word or group of words that paper to modify and inappropriate  word in the same sentence. The error most often occurs when passive rather than active verbs are sussed.

For example: In drawing the picture, his dog was used as the model. -- Dangling
                      In drawing the picture, he used his dog as the model.  -- not dangling

6. Avoid Shifts in Pronoun Forms
Be consistent. Don't shift from singular to plural pronoun format.

7. Avoid Splitting Infinitives
How do you split an infinitive? An infinitive is split when an adverb is placed between the word to and a verb.

For example: She wanted to quickly run the race.
Better: She wanted to run the race quickly.

Most of all respect the rules of grammar. Grammar is a living entity. Study it continuously.

And, remember this: you are writing for you reader. They may forgive a grammar mistake here or there. Maybe.

Copyright: chris2766 / 123RF Stock Photo