Tag Archives: Writing

The Long and Winding Sentence

you broke my sentence

You broke my sentence!

I read an eBook a few days ago called Writing Habit Mastery: How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block by S.J. Scott.

It was a quickie book. I finished it an about an hour. Nothing really earth shattering or new about the book, but it clicked for me. He stressed the importance of putting words on paper every day no matter what. He also pointed out that our inner critic and editor keeps us from committing our thoughts to writing. We get so caught up in correcting and rewording our thoughts that we get hung up in editing and don’t produce.

Scott also stresses the ability to touch type and says if you don’t know how then learn. There are plenty of inexpensive software programs out there for that purpose. Hunting and pecking around the keyboard gets in the way of a fast and free flow of thoughts. I can touch type and with practice I’m getting even better and have almost reached the singularity where I can type as fast as I think. The only reason I don’t now is because I let that little editor devil sitting on my shoulder interrupt my thought with stuff like, “you left a comma out back there, woman. No one is going to take you seriously if you don’t even know how to punctuate.” My goal this week is to learn how to ignore my demons and brain storm my way through my first draft. It may come out as, “tundra…squirrel…candy…murderer…UPS Truck.” So what? That what’s editing is for.  I’m going to take S.J. Scott’s advice and leave the editing until after I finish my first draft.

Another thing Scott said was that Steven King writes 2,000 words every morning and then spends the rest of his day taking care of personal business, napping or whatever. Not sure if this is true or not but it sounds believable. So I said to myself, “hey, if Steven King can produce his copious amounts of books by doing a mere 2,000 words a morning then so can I!.” This statement probably does not make any sense to anyone other than me, but who cares? All I’m after here is what works for me.

I’ve managed the 2,000 words a morning for 4 days in a row now and I feel pretty damned good. 4 days does not a good habit make, but it’s a start.  And it’s much more fun goofing off the rest of the day or taking care of 45 piddly errands when you have a sense of accomplishment under your belt.

And now the topic of editing. I don’t need to read a book about writing to know that EDITING IS IMPORTANT. Merrily skipping over this step is not OK. Mr. Husband and I have been snowed in for the past few days. I ended up using him as a sounding board because he was the only human I had access too. I could have called someone, but they wouldn’t see my arm movements or see me ripping my hair out.

As I work on my writing craft I begin to notice more exactly why a particular passage in a book annoys me instead of just a vague feeling of distaste. Yesterday I was reading a book The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle. My review is that the book is incredible. Possibly the biggest block buster of the century, while at the same time being the worst book I’ve ever read. They could use it as a basis for college classes as an example of how not to construct a sentence. The grammar is so butchered that there were places where I was literally screaming though my teeth. Hubman actually tore himself away from playing Star Wars on the computer to come see if I was OK. I ended up with a huge headache, but still couldn’t put the darn book down.

That being said 5,000+ readers on Amazon rated this book 5 stars so there has to be something to it. There were 120 1 star reviews and most of them were to do with poor grammar, sentence structure and totally unbelievable plot twists, including escaping a monastery in Tibet in a hot air balloon?!? But, then this proves that if readers love a story or author they will overlook a multitude of sins. I’ll keep that in mind when I put my toe in the water. If I had to rate the book I’d say 5 stars for plot and 1 star for sentences and paragraphs that were like nails on a chalkboard.

At one point early in the book I counted the word “had” 6 times in one paragraph. It was in every sentence. The word had was in 1 of the sentences 3 times. The following  made up sentence is an example: Because he got drunk early in the day he had had to change his pants 2 times because he had forgotten to put on his underwear the first time. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be “he was so drunk he forgot to put on his underwear.” OK, maybe it’s just me. I’m no expert. But come on! Many of the common novel-writing programs, like Write it Now and Scrivener have a handy tool that analyses the number of times a particular word shows up in your manuscript. If your novel is 80,000 words and the word had shows up 15,000 times it might be a good idea to rethink sentence construction. Just a thought.

Love you all, and as always, thank you for tuning in to my rants.

A Come to Jesus Moment for a Wanna Be Writer

Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Anonymous

I looked myself in the mirror this morning and thought “you know what you have to do…soooo…why aren’t you doing it?” I don’t just have a book in me. I have an actual book in writing, somewhere, spread across 3 computers and my Kindle, some assembly required.

What I “should do” is get off my ass and gather up my chapters, experiments, late night ravings,  and side stories into a some semblance of a book and start editing the damn thing. No writer anywhere, regardless of their skill level, spits out a finished copy in one go. But, I have to be perfect you see. Rough draft, not in my nature. Which means of course that my nature needs some work. I’m going to have to push past this though because working on my nature will be yet another excuse to not work on my book.

Oh, but there are soooo many more important things to do, like playing World of Warcraft from morning till night 3 days in a row. Then embark on a mission to read every book Steven King has ever written, including re-reading his book called “On Writing.” Then I need to purge my file cabinet, get my nails done, and sort all the Tupperware in the garage.

After all this I need to surf the internet for 3 days looking for books on how to write a book. Of course I get side tracked into celebrity tell alls like what Angelina Jolie’s tattoos mean. Just for the record they are the geographical coordinates of the birth place of her children. Or the fact that nude photos from Kristen Stewart’s new movie got leaked. Oh yea, like that was an accident and furthermore, why do I care?

I tell you why I care, because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. This is saying a lot coming from a woman who wrote a post last year called “Procrastination Should be Punishable by Death.” So why am I procrastinating? Because I’m scared that’s why! I’ll write a book, put it out there and it flops so hard it knocks the wind out of me. So what? I don’t understand why this is tripping me up so much. I’m starting to get pissed off at myself. It may even culminate in me bitch slapping myself. If that what it takes, well then I’m going to have a red face and finished book.

The Drag Co-Efficiency

Question  cubeSo the Drag Co-efficiency could be reframed as how I got temporarily sick of hearing myself talk. What brought this on is that I took a commenter’s advice and decided to turn my blog into a book. And that, my friends, is what I have been doing the last few weeks.

Actually it took about 10 days. I started from the first post I ever made 3 years ago in December of 2010 and moved forward to the last post in December of 2013. I omitted a good bit of material that was stuff such as “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” or the follow-up on the thrill ride that is getting an endoscopy after puking into a trash can at the hospital ER for 6 hours while waiting to be seen by physician. Some things just don’t need to be rehashed. But, reading my entire blog in a week and a half sort of winded me. I felt like I had really run out of things to say, but fortunately this never lasts long.

So now I have this 175,000 word monstrosity that needs a little work. OK, it needs a lot of work. I need to go through and cull out about 75K words at least. Also I need to come up with a title. The Hubman suggested the title “Rantings and Ravings.” Thank you, Mr. Husband! Now I know what you REALLY think! ***mutter, mutter*** Anyway, he was kidding, or so I chose to believe. But I do need to come with something to call this collection of …of…of… “Essays Expressing My Opinion on Everything” or (EEEMOE) for short is what I’m calling it for now until I can come up with something catchy, but a bit shorter. Any ideas anyone? I’m open to suggestions.

Then there comes all the other projects after the creation of a “book.” Do I print it up and send it off to 85 publishers? Or should I self-publish? If so, what software should I use to turn my document into an E-book? Should I even do this myself or have a professional do it? So many questions. I am pretty tech savvy already with publishing software. I have converted draft chapters of the fiction book I’m working on to an E-document, sent it to my Kindle and it looked fine, formatting wise. I’ve purchased far worse on Amazon.

So what to do, what to do? Move forward is my decision. The answers will come while I’m weeding out the excess baggage from the first draft.

Toodles for now and have an absolutely lovely day!

Please Gender Check Your Story

confusedThere is a trap I’ve noticed that authors fall into sometimes when writing from the viewpoint of a character of the opposite gender.  I am female for example and though I claim to not understand men at all, I have managed to observe their behavior in the wild so to speak. Therefore I think I can or at least try to write from a man’s point of view on occasion in my stories.  What I do try to do is avoid the “eek, that doesn’t sound right” moments is ask guys to read my stories keeping an eye out for thoughts or behaviors that don’t really seem like a guy way of acting – to a guy anyway.

Being an online gamer for years now, one of my little hobbies was trying to determine the actual gender of other players based on what they say in chat, which was my only clue. Many gamers play the opposite gender, it’s part of the fantasy I guess. Along the way I picked up a few clues and more often than not I could tell. I would verify this with them in private chat and they always seemed interested to know how I figured it out.

One of the things that I noticed is females playing as males would suddenly stop mid game announce they have a head ache, need to take bath and log off. Guys just don’t do that, they will play until they drop before admitting they have to pee. What guys who were playing females would do is slip up and make verbal reference to male genitalia or use them as an insult in chat. Gals usually don’t do that…OK most of the time they don’t. I’m generalizing here. It’s pretty funny when you start picking up on it.

Recently I read 2 books in which oddly stereotypical gender behaviors kept yanking me out of the story. One was written from the point of view of a female in her 30s in a major melt down end of the world scenario. It seemed like every 5 minutes she was making a mental note of the condition of her armpits, sweaty, cold, sticky, etc. I’m a female in my 50s and have been in some pretty hellish scenarios in my life; assaulted, gun fire, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, house on fire, floods, rioting on the next street over, rumble in the discount aisle, etc. I guarantee that in none of these instances did the condition of my arm pits come to the front of my mind. I finally started laughing and checked …sure enough male author.

In another book I read, which was another end of the world scenario, the male character was either thinking about or adjusting his “package” almost nonstop. I tell you it was amazing that he found time to gather weapons, food and go about the business of surviving an apocalypse with all that crotch flailing going on. You guessed it – female author.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is if you’re writing from a gender not your own, be careful when you start getting all detailed and nitty-gritty with the body parts. Ask a few people who are the gender of your character for a reality check. It can be an eye-opening, amusing and sometimes rather embarrassing experience, but well worth the effort.

Tech Heaven – The My Book Live

My Book LiveThe Hubman, his friend and I did our usually Friday night frolic of dinner and consumerism. After dinner we went to the computer store to pick up my ailing desktop that has been in the gadget hospital. Turns out it had a defective ram chip which was causing all kinds of wonky hideous glitches and crashes. At one point I had become convinced that it was possessed by the devil and should be tossed into a raging bonfire. But the tech gods fixed it. Yay!

After stashing the computer in the truck we went back inside to scour the store for anything new and interesting or on sale.  We usually scatter and snoop around in our own area of interest.  I stumbled across the My Book Live. The clouds parted and the angels sang. The solution I’ve been looking for!  I’ve been waiting for someone to invent or for me to discover such a device. I had been toying for years the idea of setting up a home media server, but it seemed too complicated to bother with.

The short of it is that I now possess my own personal data cloud. Booyah! It was easy to set up. Pretty much just plug and play. Before I had all my snippets of writing, blog posts, short stories, pictures spread all over 3 computers a Kindle Fire and my iPhone. It was getting quite out of hand and confusing. Now all my stuff is in one location that I can access from or save to the My Book server, no matter what gadget I’m using or where I am. Oh the happiness.

I can also store pictures and movies on it and watch or listen in the living room, out in the back yard, hanging in the closet or luxuriating in the bathtub. For a tech geek like me, it just doesn’t get any better. The My Book with 2 terabytes of storage, which is a lot of space, cost $149 plus tax. Well worth it in my opinion.

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