Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's That Smell?

Quote: "There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder. -Brian Aldiss

Today, as I was chopping cucumber and strawberries for my salad, I thought, "This smells like summer".

As writers, it is our job to bring our readers into our world with us. To give them enough space to be able to look around and see what's going on. Using the 5 senses is a great way to do that. So, choose three things to describe using all 5 senses. Here is a small list, but I bet you can come up with even better things to describe.

Summer, Winter, Fall, Spring
Your house
The beach
A baby
A baseball game

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pick Two Numbers

Romans 8:35,37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (NIV)

The following was taken from The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen:

Pick two numbers from 1 to 20. Then, scroll down to find the words that correspond to your chosen numbers and combine them in a piece. Set your timer for five minutes and go.

1. Jog
2. Job
3. Lethargy
4. Levelheaded
5. Lung
6. Luna Moth
7. Neutron
8. Neuter
9. Nag
10. Picnic
11. Possible
12. Ribbon
13. Riding
14. Scream
15. Saddle
16. Sink
17. Skidding
18. Toy
19. Snob
20. Sullen

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lightning vs. Lightning Bug

Quote: "Bold writers run the risk not only that readers in general will see right through them but that readers they care about will see them for who they are and walk away." -Ralph Keyes The Courage to Write

The following was taken from The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak:

Mark Twain dispensed plenty of advice to writers over his career, but perhaps no remark was more famous than this: "The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug." Word choice is crucial in any story, and even the moist arbitrary of decisions will establish and change the tone of your fiction. To illustrate this pint, poet and novelist John Balaban asks his creative writing students to consider the words stomach, belly, tummy, gut, and abdomen. These words all refer to the same thing, yet they all carry very different connotations (poets love to dwell on a pregnant mother's belly, but I've read very few odes to a pregnant mother's gut!). If you're having trouble with a story, review every line and make sure the tone is consistent. Have you written the word love when you really mean affection, passion, or tenderness? Are you using the word money when you mean cash, currency, dough, capital, or moolah? By fine-tuning word choice, you can zero in on the heart and soul of your fiction.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Complete These Sentences

Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (NIV)

The following was taken from The Soul Tells a Story by Vinita Hampton Wright.

Complete These Sentences

The activity that gives me greatest joy is...
The good qualities that best describe my life are...
The help that people often solicit from me is...
The part of my personality that I would most hate to lose is...
The work that is most satisfying to me is...
The activity that I feel drawn to, even when it's scary, is...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Anxiety Anyone?

Quote: "It is perfectly okay to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly." -C.J. Cherryh

The following was taken from The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes.
It is a must read for anyone who is trying to survive life as a writer.

Here is what Ralph has learned after writing eight books:

"Along the way, I've learned three things. One is that I'll survive; finish the book and live to write another. Second, I'll regain my sanity (such as it is). Finally, I've learned that a rising tide of anxiety isn't necessarily bad. It's a sign that I'm getting serious. Nervousness keeps me alert. Fear forces me to focus and to work longer hours. Restless nights mean I'm gaining momentum. The end is in sight. Getting there isn't always pleasant. Neither is running in a marathon. Or staging a play. or climbing a mountain. All such activities take courage."

"Finding the courage to write does not involve erasing or 'conquering' one's fears. Working writers aren't those who have eliminated their anxiety. They are the ones who keep scribbling while their heart races and their stomach churns, and who mail manuscripts with trembling fingers."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Name Your Gifts

Quote: "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart..." - William Wordsworth

The following exercise is taken from The Soul Tells a Story by Vinita Hampton Wright.

For the next five minutes, write about what gave you joy as a child. Write quickly without analyzing or editing.

Take another five minutes and describe the most glorious or satisfying event of your high school life.

Try to remember the last time you were involved with a project that so captivated your attention that you lost track of time. What were you doing?

If five people closest to you - whether friends or family - were to tell you honestly what good things you have brought to their lives, what qualities or gifts would they list?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Bit of Advice about Writing

The following was taken from Writing Alone, Writing Together: A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reevees.

Eight Techniques from Jack Kerouac
  • Blow as deep as you want to blow
  • Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  • Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  • Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  • Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  • Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  • No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language and knowledge
  • Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it

Nine Guidelines from William Struck Jr.

  • Choose a suitable design and hold to it.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Put statements in positive form.
  • Use definite, specific, concrete language.
  • Omit needless words.
  • Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
  • Keep related words together.
  • In summaries, keep to one tense.
  • Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.

Twelve Suggestions from E.B. White

  • Place yourself in the background
  • Write in a way that comes naturally
  • Work from a suitable design
  • Write with nouns and verbs
  • Do not overwrite
  • Avoid the use of qualifiers
  • Do not affect a breezy style
  • Do not explain too much
  • Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity
  • Make sure the reader knows who is speaking
  • Do not use dialect
  • Revise and rewrite

Seven Beacons from Gary Provost

  1. Brevity
  2. Clarity
  3. Precision
  4. Harmony
  5. Humanity
  6. Honesty
  7. Poetry

Eleven "Fumblerules" from William Safire

  • No sentence fragments.
  • It behooves us to avoid archaisms.
  • Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration
  • If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, "Resist hyperbole."
  • Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
  • Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  • Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  • Writing carefully, dangling participles should not be used.
  • Kill all the exclamation points!!!
  • Don't verb nouns.
  • Last but not least, avoid clich├ęs like the plague.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Writing Hodge Podge

Writing Contests:
For guidelines on evaluating contests and to determine if a contest is legitimate, go to:

The 2009 Christian Writers' Market Guide has an incredibly long list of contests in just about every genre. If you are interested in entering a contest, please let me know what genre and I will be happy to e-mail you a list.

THE WRITER’S EDGE, PO Box 1266, Wheaton IL 60187. E-mail: Website: No phone calls. A manuscript screening service for 90 cooperating Christian publishers. Charges $95 to evaluate a book proposal and if publishable, they will send a synopsis of it to 90 publishers who might be interested. If not publishable they will tell how to improve it. If interested, send an SASE for guidelines and a Book Information Form; request a form via e-mail or copy from Website. The Writer’s Edge now handles previously published books, including self-published books or those that are out of print and available for reprint. Requires a different form, but cost is the same. Reviews novels, nonfiction books, juvenile novels, Bible studies, devotionals, biography, and theology, but no poetry. See Website for details.
I am planning to try this once "Letters to Edward" is finished.

Questions for Discussion:
What does your writing life look like? Where do you write? When? What inspires you?

Writing Conferences

Here is a short list of Conferences listed in the 2009 Christian Writers' Market Guide:

Check out these websites for more complete lists:, or Link to these conference websites at

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) National Conference

Act One: Screenwriting Weekends

American Christian Writers Conferences

Faithwriters Conference

Muse Online Writers Conference

The Publishing Game Workshop

"Write His Answer" Seminars & Retreats (I have been to this one and it is fantastic!)

Writer's Nudge Workshops