Be kind, Rewind! #writingtip

A few years ago, my spouse was starting a new job with a new manager and this said manager kept getting frustrated with my spouse. You see, my spouse has a couple common phrases that he says ALL the time and one of those phrases is “Sure, sure.” So every time this manager would ask him to do something, teach him something, whatever, my spouse would respond with “Sure, sure.”

His phrase used to be “you know?”

The point is we each have phrases we tend to use A LOT, whether we want to or not. We do this in speech, we do this in writing, we do this in texting. If you’re texting (or in messenger) with me, I will type lol ALL THE TIME. It drives myself insane, but the habit is there and I do it.

So the other day, I’m editing away at one of my new pretty little novels that I’ve finally finished working and you know what I found? I found a brand new phrase I’ve been using abundantly along with a few I knew I always used.

What are your go to phrases in writing that you constantly put into your piece and don’t even realize it?

I literally keep a list on notepad in my computer of “words to delete” which are these overused words and phrases I keep typing.

My newest one is “to be honest”.

My list?

– begin/began
– start/started
– quick

Our phrases/words can and will change. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to have someone else read through your piece before it ever gets near publishing. Other people pick up on this stuff, not us. My spouse still doesn’t know he says sure, sure every five seconds of the day.

In editing other peoples works, I’ve put together a list of common words you can easily find to delete/find and rework. Here’s my list for you to start with.

– that
– feel/felt
– says/said
– ask/asked

Start there and then really look for what your personal preferences are in your own work. I guarantee you have them.

Grammar Wednesday: POV–3rd Person Omniscient

So, you thought you were done with the last post? You’re not. There is one more. This person is slowly becoming more popular, but there are still a lot of readers and editors and publishers and betas and such and such that don’t like it. Do you know what omniscient means? Well, since I’m into religion, I’ll tell you–it means all-knowing. Like God is supposed to be. All-knowing. Also like the gift in my novel Forever Burn; the gift of omni, which means all.

Anyway, this person is different from 3rd person in that the POV switches. It can happen in the same paragraph (though it is rare and confusing), different paragraphs, different sections of a chapter, or different chapters. Everything is written in third person, but the reader follows character A and then character B.

for example

Rusty ran up to Seeley and batted him on the head with her paw. She wanted to play. Bustling down on her haunches as low to the ground as she could go, she waited for Seeley to start at her, to make the second move, and to roll her over so they could play. It ran through her head like a mantra, “Play! Play! Play!” She wiggled her butt in anticipation, wanting each second to come faster and faster until they would be rolling on the ground.

Seeley, however, was not amused. He sat atop his cat tree, staring down at her with disdain in his green eyes. They would not be playing; first, he wasn’t in the mood, and secondly, she had stolen his spot on the bed the previous night. He was old crotchety and tired, and there was no way that he would be amusing the likes of the wonder kitten.

I’m sure this goes through my cats heads as they stare at each other. Positive of it. This is third person omniscient. You get the first POV (Rusty) and the second POV (Seeley) in the same story. This is a completely acceptable form to write in, just please oh please do it smartly.

Grammar Wednesday: POV–3rd person

Third person is my favorite person to write in. I have to say, I absolutely love and adore it. Recently people have said they don’t like third person because they are distanced from the character and can’t get into their mind. Also, people say that it creates confusion as to what is really going on and that they can figure out the entire novel too quickly with third person. My answer to that, is whatever they were reading, it wasn’t done right.

This is my preferred person to write in.

Rusty walked along the soft carpet, quickly going from the living room into the bedroom. She jumped up onto the desktop, where it rattled until her meager body weight settled down. Licking her paws and cleaning her face, Rusty watched her mother carefully. Her mother slept soundly in the bed just as the early morning rays of the sun started to shine through the window, and Rusty knew it was time. She stepped over to the edge of the plastic desk and leaned back on her haunches before pushing up into the calendar tacked to the wall. Biting the spiral metal that held it together, she waited until she heard the rustle from the sheets behind her. Her mother was waking up. She went back to all for paws and started to chew on the paper, stopping and giving a meow when her mother shouted across the room, “Rusty! Stop it!”

This is third person…well, third animal, in this case. (Also, this happens to me EVERY morning.) Next week, third person omniscient. Yes, I will explain the difference then.

WIPpet Wednesday: June 12, 2013

It’s Wednesday! That means it’s time for WIPpet Wednesday! That means it’s time to read!!!

If you want to join in, write a post, click the link, add your post! Your post must correlate in some way to the date, so keep that in mind!

I have finished my ghost story that I used a few weeks ago for the WIPpet day. Here’s the link to the beginning of the story. I’m not adding some more to it! This is the last update on the ghost story I’ve title FLASH OF DEATH. This picks up close to where it left off…Shea has taken her someplace where they can touch (yes, dirty minds you are free to roam). 12 sentences, and yes, they were just kissing.

***

They broke apart after time stopped, and CL looked around, taking in her surroundings. She wasn’t in her house anymore. Shea stood before her in a gray, fuzzy and muted area. There were no walls that she could see, no floor and no ceiling as she stepped away from him to increase her awareness. The gray was close enough that she thought she could reach out and touch it, but as soon as she reached her hand forward, all she felt was air.

Thunder roared around the room, but it sounded off, like someone had stuffed earplugs in her ears and then put sound-canceling headphones on. She spun back around to Shea when she realized that the thunder didn’t echo. Light filled the room for a momentary blast before receding back into the grayness. “Where are we?”

“In the in between,” he answered, not moving from where he was rooted. More lightning came and went; thunder resounded before disappearing into the ether. “This is where we collide.”

***

On other news, I finished my final edit of DYING EMBERS and have sent it to the publisher. Just waiting to hear back from her, and then I have to task of picking a book cover! So yay! Now I’m off to take pictures of sunflowers!!

The wondrous world of editing

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on facebook, twitter, goodreads and more about editing and the editing process. I’m not one to miss the bandwagon. Editing is extremely important when it comes to finalizing ANYTHING, even emails to the boss. There can be some pretty blaring typos (I’ve made them and will continue to make them).

Just for show…I want everyone who reads this post to comment with their editing process and what they do for it. I will say, always have someone else go through your work.

Here’s my process.

1. I edit the piece
2. I edit the piece
3. I sent my piece to not one but two beta’s.
4. I edit from my beta’s comments
5. I do a final edit after beta’s comments
6. I print out and run through each sentence backward, looking ONLY for typos.
7. I send to my editor
8. I go through editors comments
9. Sometimes #7 and #8 are repeated.

Those are a lot of freakin’ steps, and even after ALL of that, I still find typos and mistakes that should have been caught.

So WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS?

Grammar Wednesday: POV–1st person

I’ve decide the next group of grammar goodness will be about persons in writing. There are typically 3 persons, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd! Go figure, the numbers go up.

First person, at least from what I have seen, is becoming far more common–that might just be because I’m seeing it more, not that it actually is becoming more common. I might have ignored it, since I don’t like it. Apparently a lot of people like it. What I’ve heard is that it gives more insight to the character, but it is harder to write because the MC has to be in every single scene (this is assuming there is only one POV in the novel). There are ways to have multiple first person POV’s in one novel. Check out Jodi Picoult. She has a lot in her books.

Example of first person:

I shuffled my foot against the sidewalk as my cheeks burned with fire. Mom scolded me like I was a two-year-old who had just thrown a temper tantrum at the grocery store–I can assure you I did no such thing. I refused to look up at her as the hot sun beat down on my shoulders and the top of my head. Waves of embarrassment floated through my body, grasping on to ever available surfaced and licking my wounds with vinegar, causing them to burn even more. I meant to steal the candy bar. She thought it was an accident, that I had simply walked out without paying for it because I forgot. But that’s not how it was. I had carefully chosen which chocolate bar I wanted to eat and I slipped it into my hand, keeping it in my fist. I didn’t put it in my pocket or one of the grocery bags–I was going to walk out of that store with it in my hand where everyone could see it if they wanted to. I had dared them to approach me. They didn’t. Mom had caught me though–right when we got home.

So that’s first person! I really like it in memoir or autobiography, but that’s about it. I highly doubt you will ever see a novel or short story from me that is fiction and in first person. It’s not my thing! Have fun and have a great day!

Grammar Wednesday: ACTIVE PHRASING

Hello everyone! I know some of you were sad that I missed last week’s Grammar Wednesday, but I didn’t miss it. I was in Guatemala–no interwebs for a whole week! I started to go into withdrawal.

Here’s your Grammar Wednesday! It’s about active phrasing and passive phrasing. I apparently used to write passive phrasing, and if you read FOREVER BURN, you’ll see it all over the place. *head desk* yup, but I learned. I just had to have someone point it out to me a couple dozen million times.

This is how it goes–in the easiest form. Look for the “was.” It’s mostly overused and the “have been.”

She was walking down the road.
She walked down the road.

She was leaning down to pick up a rock.
She leaned down to pick up a rock.

She had been having weird thoughts lately.
She had weird thoughts lately.

Get it?! I hope so. There are a lot of other ways to see passive phrasing. You can always go into MSword and turn it on. It’ll underline other passive phrases. In most of the fanfiction that I beta read for, and even some of the original fiction, I find a lot of passive phrasing. Not only are you writing it in a more concise sentence structure, but you’re writing it in a way that makes it more realistic and stronger.

Grammar Wednesday: COMMA SPLICE–rearranging

I realize that this post is going to be short, as it should be pretty self-explanatory. However, next week I will be concluding the comma splice regime with how to find comma splices. My cohort Amy is a comma splice nazi, particularly in my own work. Check out her blog, she’s awesome sauce!

Rearrange the structure of the sentence

4. Adrian is writing a forum on comma splices, she is sitting in class.

RESOLUTION:

Adrian is writing a forum on comma splices while she is sitting in class.

As I said before, resolving comma splices is very stylistic.  Here is another option for resolving this comma splice.  This is by changing the structure of the sentence. Be careful when doing this, as it can change the meaning of the sentence.

6. “I’m Adrian, I’m a word-guru, according to my best friend.”

RESOLUTION:

“I’m Adrian and a word-guru, according to my best friend.”

Rearranging this sentence with a conjunction to make an independent clause with a dependent clause does not change the meaning of this sentence. It actually makes it read more like one would speak.

Writing for speech

As most of you, or at least some of you, might know, I dapple in the world of ministry. I recently (meaning only a short few hours ago) had to give a sermon on a text from the gospel of John (4:5-42, if you were curious). Now, I obviously love and enjoy writing and the rush that it gives me.

I’ve heard tell that if one can write, one can preach. That is SO not true! Writing for reading and writing for speaking are two completely different things. Now, one who writes might have a one up on those who don’t, because we know how to plot something out. There’s a beginning that grips, certain moves that are taken, a heightening in action or emotion and then a sweet conclusion to wrap everything up.

Writing a sermon is much like writing a short story–however, I do not write short stories, at least not often (planning on two this next month). I wrote my sermon, I plotted it out like I was writing a short story about this one moment, a moment that changes. The moment when the Spirit enters into our lives and carry us away on the breeze.

Describing a moment in words is one part of this, the other is in voice. If I talk about this moment like a dull school teacher that has no passion for the subject, then the moment will never come. If I talk about the moment with energy and excitement, with joy and praise, then that moment is transferred to those listening, the experience it again. That is the difference in writing a sermon and writing a novel/story. The writing for the sermon is the prep–the reading of it is what makes the sermon a sermon.

If enough of you want, I might post my manuscript for my sermon on here. Not sure if I will though.

Grammar Wednesday: COMMA SPLICE–Em dash

Use an Em dash

An Em dash will strongly connect the two independent clauses.  Em dashes to resolve comma splices are most commonly found in dialogue, where semi-colons and colons are avoided.  This is for flow of voice of the character and for flow of reading.

3. “I didn’t know you could do that, you can do that?”

RESOLUTION:

“I didn’t know you could do that—you can do that?”

Using this form of resolution strongly connects the two independent clauses.  In dialogue, it is easier to use an Em dash to separate the two clauses.

10. Writing fanfiction is stress-relieving, it is a world of its own.

RESOLUTION:

Writing fanfiction is stress-relieving—it’s a world of its own.

Using an Em dash here creates a flow for the sentences.  The two sentences go together.

PS There is a difference between an em dash and an en dash. To make an em dash (which is the one you want to use just about all the time), type the word, make to hyphens, type the next word and hit space.

Roger Ebert

Reading a story on Roger Ebert. Check out this quote:
“Just write, get better, keep writing, keep getting better. It’s the only thing you can control.”
He passed away today at 70.

Grammar Wednesday: COMMA SPLICE–new sentence

C. Start a new sentence

Starting a new sentence when encountering a comma splice will put more emphasis in both independent clauses and will create a larger break.  When you have a long run-on sentence (as in example 5), then you will most likely want a new sentence start.  This gives the reader a break when reading.

EXAMPLES:

5. The bat cracked as the ball collided, the sound echoing through the field, the crowd roared and stood on their toes as the ball arced and landed neatly in the outfielder’s mitt.

RESOLUTION:

The bat cracked as the ball collided, the sound echoing through the field.  The crowd roared and stood on their toes as the ball arced and landed neatly in the outfielder’s mitt.

I started a new sentence after “field” as this sentence is a run-on.  It is long: two independent clauses with one including a participle phrase.  Making this into two separate sentences breaks the reading up for the reading and allows for better comprehension and flow of the story.

10. Writing fanfiction is stress-relieving, it is a world of its own.

RESOLUTION:

Writing fanfiction is stress-relieving.  It is a world of its own.

Splitting this with a new sentence start allows for the two sentences to stand apart.  They are two descriptions of the same thing, but they are both equally as important.

You are also going to want to use this method to resolve a comma splice when in dialogue, as you want to avoid semi-colons in dialogue in general. A new sentence start or an Em dash (next week) will resolve the comma splice in dialogue without giving into the issues that can be caused by semi-colons.

Inspiration

I had an ex. OMG, I know. I had an ex. Anyway, my ex used to complain about never writing even though it was a favorite hobby and we both loved to do it together. This particular ex, used to say that she could only write when inspiration hit her on the head.

My typical response was always, “Inspiration will never come without an invitation to the party.”

I do still stand by this. Many aspiring writers talk about inspiration and waiting for it to come, or never being able to write without it. Well, I’ve got some news for you (if you’re one of those people), it doesn’t ever come when expected, but you can still do good work without it. It’s just a tad bit harder to get those words onto the page.

Writing is all about work. Hell, if I got paid hourly for the time I put into a novel, I would be so fucking rich right now, it’s not even funny. In order to write, and to write and complete something, one has to actually do it. My advice to aspiring writers who always as how I do it, is that I write every day. I might not write 12k words or even 1k words in a day, but I do write something. Whether it’s a blog post, a facebook status that is amusing, a tweet I find funny, or changing words around in an edit. I am constantly thinking and doing writing. This is the most important advice to me. This is the invitation for inspiration to come and take a hold of my hands and dance away like it’s 1923 and we’re at a speakeasy.

Wow, did I get carried away for a second.

So, go write. Specially, go write that invitation to inspiration and tell them that you’re throwing a party in its honor. I bet it’ll show up sooner or later. Inspiration isn’t one to miss opportunities.

 

Grammar Wednesday: COMMA SPLICE–coordinating conjunction

Our new grammatical issue to look at, for the next five weeks or so, is the comma splice. Are you ready? This one has been the bane of my existence since my early college years. My prof would go through and take red marker to ALL my comma splices, and let me tell you, that was a lot. I stopped using commas after that for years! Now, people call me the comma-nazi.

WHAT IS A COMMA SPLICE?

Commas are a crazy thing to try and learn. Commonly, when in the process of learning how to punctuate commas and add them in, one learns to add them where they should not be.  Typically, one of these places is called a comma splice.  This is where there are two independent clauses smooshed together into one sentence only by a comma.  Now, commas are powerful things, don’t get me wrong. They’re like the dukes and duchesses’ of grammar.  But they do not belong in the chamber of the compound sentence.

Comma splices are typically hard to find, because there is still a natural pause in the sentence.  However, comma splices can easily become the bane of someone’s existence (a.k.a me for the past five or six years).

Here are some examples of comma splices.

1. “I kissed a girl, I liked it.”

2. She didn’t know what to say, she was stunned into silence.

3. “I didn’t know you could do that, you can do that?”

4. Adrian is writing a forum on comma splices, she is sitting in class.

Add a coordinating conjunction to the comma

Coordinating conjunctions are one of the easiest ways to solve a comma splice. The most common one used is “and.” However, there are others—for, or, but, yet, so, nor. An easy way to remember these is the acronym FANBOYS

F—for
A—and
N—nor
B—but
O—or
Y—yet
S—so

EXAMPLES:

1. “I kissed a girl, I liked it.”

RESOLUTION:

“I kissed a girl, and I liked it.”

Adding the coordinating conjunction “and” to this run-one or fused sentence allows the two independent clauses to be separated.  While a semi-colon, EM dash, or a new sentence would work to resolve the comma splice, we all know that Katy Perry did not sing those lyrics.  Also, as this is dialogue, there is a tendency to avoid using semi-colons.  Usually, within dialogue, there is a preference for any of the other options to resolve a comma splice.

Resolving comma splices are very stylistic for the author.  There is no real “right or wrong” answer when it comes to fixing the run-on sentence.  There are stylistic resolutions, and there are resolutions that make more sense or work better.

Grammar Wednesday: COMMA–direct salutation

Direct salutations occur mainly in dialogue when one character is calling another by a specific name. Now, this can be the name of the character or a nickname. Either way, it is considered a direct salutation. I will also tag on identifying characters in this. The commas go on either side of the name. When the name is at the beginning or the end of a sentence, there is only one comma necessary either after or before the name–respectably.

EXAMPLES: (Direct Salutation)
1. “Hello there, Bob.”
2. “Hey, Bill.”
3. “Captain, the report is on your desk.”

EXAMPLES: (Identifying Characters)
1. Sharon, the fifth grade teacher, had recess duty for the rest of the week.
2. The girl who loves to read, Katherine, gets through a book a week.

now for practice.

EXAMPLES:

1. “Katherine you need to mail me my yarn!”

RESOLUTION

“Katherine, you need to mail me my yarn!”

2. The cable guy Larry, made a funny joke when he was fixing the cable box.

RESOLUTION

The cable guy, Larry, made a funny joke when he was fixing the cable box.

Grammar Wednesday: Comma–parenthetical phrase

A parenthetical is easy. If it could go into parenthesis, a.k.a if it makes not difference to the meaning behind the sentence, but you still want it there, then it is a parenthetical phrase.

EXAMPLE:
1. Bobby went out to the bar, which he did a lot, and had so many beers he couldn’t drive home.
2. Adrian loves the smell of incense, especially the type in worship, but could never light any when she lived with her mother.
3.She cracked the door and saw they slept, and a little braver than before, pushed the door all the way open.

The “which he did a lot” and “especially the type in worship” are unnecessary to the meaning of the sentence but add extra information. These are the parenthetical phrases. The parenthetical phrases need commas before and after. This gets a bit tricky in concerns to parenthetical phrases and conjunctions.

EXAMPLE:

1. Rusty the wonder kitten loves to play with laser pointers.

RESOLUTION

1. Rusty, the wonder kitten, loves to play with laser pointers.

EXAMPLE:

2. Rusty likes lasers the light is distracting, and, she chases them around the room.

RESOLUTION:

2. Rusty likes lasers, the light is distracting, and she chases them around the room.

EXAMPLE:

3. Rusty, and, her older brother, Seeley, play every morning at six a.m.

RESOLUTION:

3. Rusty, and her older brother, Seeley, play every morning at six a.m.

Watch conjunctions when resolving parenthetical phrases. They complicate matters. Have fun, folks!!!

Grammar Wednesday: COMMA–participle phrase

Participle phrases can be a bit tricky. Basically, if you have a sentence with an “ing” word in it, you need to pay attention to what’s going on! A participle is a verb that acts and pretends to be an adjective. It modifies the noun. So, now that I’ve probably confused you with the lingo, I’ll get some examples.

EXAMPLE 1. She glanced up, looking for the man.
2. He stared, knowing she was there.
3. Their eyes met, staying locked together as time slowed.

Making more sense?

There is another thing, sometimes participle phrases can be flipped around and most often are confused with introductory phrases (which I’ll cover next week).

EXAMPLE
1. Looking for the man, she glanced up.
2. Knowing she was there, he stared.

Making some sense? Okay, here’s the examples with resolutions.

Practice Examples:

1. I plan on going to Guatemala traveling with friends and classmates for school credit.
RESOLUTION:
I plan on going to Guatemala, traveling with friends and classmates for school credit.

2. Leaning out the window the teenager mooned the passing car.
RESOLUTION:
Leaning out the window, the teenage mooned the passing car.

3. She read through her class papers highlighting all the important sections.
RESOLUTION:
She read through her class papers, highlighting all the important sections.

Hope this finds you well!

Fucking Fucks! (Cursing in exposition)

I need to preface this post with the fact that I am NOT against cursing in books. So, I am NOT against cursing in books.

Have you every seen the movie “Good Will Hunting”? I read something recently where it started to turn into that movie. For the first ten pages there were no curse words, not harsh or crass language. Then suddenly, it was like WHAT THE FUCK? <== see what I did there?

Anyways, suddenly the word “fuck” was used in every other sentence. The word lost its meaning.  I am not opposed to using curse words in exposition or in dialogue, but you have to make them worth while.

For example: I have a scene in “Forever Burn” were Max is freaking out because he feels completely helpless and pulled in ways he never thought possible. He didn’t know what to do and the frustration just continued to build. EXCERPT TIME!

In frustration, he tossed the piece of paper with Rob’s name and number into the trash bin and stood up glaring at the telephone.

“Fucker.”

The word slipped through his lips.  It was rare that he cursed, but the harsh word sounded throughout the deadly silent room and filled him with a sense of pleasure.

“Mother fucker!”  He shouted it louder this time.

The knot that had been held tightly in his chest and stomach released and everything tumbled down.  He sat back in the chair, his hands covered his face, and his mind reeled with the reality.

The tears fell unbridled.

See, the cursing plays to the mood of the character and exactly to what is going on in that moment. But if the word overused, if the meaning behind it is overdone, then it loses all its impact.

Just food for thought.

Writing brings people together…

Yesterday, I spent the day at the Dallas Sci-fi Expo/Comic con. It was an amazing experience. I met actors from my favorite TV shows, friends from twitter, and hung out with general geeks like me! Aside from the general grandeur, what amazed me the most was how writing brings people together.

I went with a friend from a writing group that I’m a part of. While there, I was able to meet many others who I have met through my own writing (fanfiction and original fiction), and even speak with actors who have ventured into the realm of writing. Kevin Sorbo was one of those actors. He had I had a great conversation about writing, about pen names (including ALL of my names except maybe one), and publishing ventures.

All in all, the answer is: Writing brings people together.

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Hearing about an unpubbed writer who replies to rejections with reasons why the editor/agent is wrong.

This is one of my favorite tumblr pages of all time. Granted, I don’t really tumblr, but if you’re an author or aspiring to be one, these posts are HILARIOUS!

Hearing about an unpubbed writer who replies to rejections with reasons why the editor/agent is wrong..