Saturday, September 5, 2009

Three Quotes on Writing

I came across a few quotes in the last several days from other authors that were worth sharing.

Kurt Vonnegut: "People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories." Although the point of this article is that people create drama in their uneventful reality, I think it shows off well how to create drama in your works.

Abraham Piper: "Phrases like oddly enough, not surprisingly, or ironically, hinder readers from discovering the oddity, lack of surprise, or irony on their own." Not surprisingly, I'm quite guilty of this one.

Randy Ingermanson: "If God has called you to write, then don’t you dare quit. Don’t you DARE!" Thanks to Myra Johnson for pointing this one out.

Anyone else want to share a writing quote in the comments?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Squeezing the Creative Juices Dry

I read a post titled Ten Great Ways to Crush Creativity, and while it is aimed at the creativity desired in a business, I think some points apply very well to the creative process in writing.

1. Criticize and 7. Punish mistakes
No sooner do we write something down than we start picking it apart. "This won't work in the plot." "This doesn't fit into the argument." "This sounds awkward." Before we know it, we've turned from critiquing the piece to punishing ourselves verbally: "I'm never going to get this right." "Who am I kidding, I'm not a writer." Good writing takes time, and it takes the freedom to let the ideas flow... even if they aren't perfect at first.

6. Adhere to the plan
Some of us struggle with this more than others. My strength of outlining a plot is also my downfall. I get so focused on what I originally planned that I ignore the possibility that maybe one piece doesn't belong or should go in a different direction. Sure, the end goal should be kept in mind, but a plan should be flexible enough to allow for multiple ways to get there.

10. Don't waste money on training
Or time. Why learn from others when you can be mediocre all on your own? Training doesn't necessarily mean that you're taking a college course. It can be as simple as talking to another writer or even keeping a writer's eye peeled when reading a book.

Curtain Control

Jill Dearborn, author of Bang the Keys: Four Steps to a Lifelong Writing Practice, suggests that the act of writing should have cues of beginning and ending, similar to how a play begins with the curtain rising and ends with it falling.
Arranging one's time is a huge part of this phase in one's writing practice. There is something about training your body and mind to begin and end an endeavor consciously, as in lighting a candle to start the workshop, blowing it out to end, that naturally carries over into the way you structure your writing life as a whole.
How do you set off your writing times? How do you get in the mood? Is there something that you do to mark the end of it? I don't do anything special, unless you count the opening and closing of my notebook, but I'm considering trying something to get me in the mood.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Acorns to Oaks

Rita Gerlach writes:
For a writer to truly become masterful it takes work, and you can never believe you've so arrived that you no longer need to improve or grow. Pride can lead to a fall. A humble heart keeps you open to learning.
At this point in my writing, it's fairly easy to stay humble. All I have to do is crack open a published novel, and I can easily see how far short my work falls. My trap comes in by giving up instead of seeking growth. And giving up is really pride as well, claiming that God cannot transform me into a great writer, or that I know better than God at how I should be spending my time and energy.

So, the question for everyone out there is: What are you using to grow your writing talent?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Everybody's Favorite YouTube Videos

If you're interested, Novel Journey has been posting some YouTube videos of grammar lessons on their blog every Saturday or two. Here are the first three:

Adjectives and Adverbs
Prepositions and Transitive Verbs

Please pace yourself on these; they have to last until next Saturday, at least.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There is a Published Writer in our Midst!

Everyone, please join me in congratulating our very own Steph Fink! Her diligence, hard work, and determination have paid off. This November, you can find her article "More Examined in the Waiting Room" in the P31 Magazine.

Steph submitted this article several times to Scribe's Alley. She worked tirelessly on writing and rewriting. She took a chance by submitting her article and now she is a published writer!

Thank you for being such an inspiration Steph! Way to go!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Remove your Setting from the Background

Ronie Kendig recommends that your setting should be more than where your characters interact, but instead should have a psychological impact on them (whether good or bad):
Setting should be as much alive as your character. Don’t let it grow stale or cliché. Does your character have a flat-screen TV? Why? Is it your heroine who uses the massive, ceiling-to-floor screen to study the surveillance footage of a crime scene? Or is your hero an America’s Army game junkie who’s hooked it up for life-sized gaming? Does the floor-model TV remind your hero of long nights spent watching Mr. Ed with his grandfather? What about the curio cabinet full of snow globes? Why are they there?
Where are your characters placed? What is around them? How does all of this affect how they feel, what memories are evoked, and what actions they take? I now understand that in the bizarre reality I'm creating in my novel, I need my characters to be thrown off, on guard, or simply curious more often than I do. What about you? How could your characters interact with your setting? How can a richer setting compel your characters and plot more effectively?