The Word and Syntax Writer Wake Up
Nothing is perfect, especially when it comes to writing. You can always tweak for better wording. The time to tweak most is before publishing. Yes, it seems self-evident but searching for the mot juste that isn’t quite yet or refining the language of a sentence are part of the writing process.
Effective writing takes thought and time, and an ear for the vocabulary and syntax muse.
When you wake up with a new version of a sentence you wrote in your last chapter—yes, one sentence out of the entire chapter—you don’t write a note to yourself in the notebook near your bed. You get up out of bed, bring up the manuscript on the computer, and change the sentence. You do this because you know you won’t get back to sleep until you make the change.
The One Word
In the days before the internet and quick but boring results in an online Thesaurus, writers made telephone calls in the middle of the night. Who else would be up then? But, even if someone was already in bed, they woke up to talk about writing with sometimes devastating results.
And the conversation continued. If you need a translation for my fellow writer’s answer: It’s been done with excellence.
Here’s the modern day online Thesaurus answer.
Yep, pretty boring. As writers, we still need to hash out word ideas.
Now we have social media, where because it’s there 24/7, doesn’t require an immediate answer. You can post a question and although the response may not be immediate because your fellow writer lives in Bulgaria, you get an answer.
Because writing is a process, you don’t get immediate gratification, but sometimes just asking the question to another writer, gets the internal wheels turning for an alternative word choice.
Your passion shows when you care about that one right word or strengthening a sentence.
Connect with Writers
Connecting with other writers enhances your passion for writing. Writing groups can help you spot the sentence or paragraph that lags, or a better way to sequence events in a story, and even suggest the right mot juste.
One of the rewards of connecting with other writers is shared passion.
Writing a Mystery
Links to Today’s Episode
The One Important First Step to Write a Killer Mystery Have a question? Post it here in Comments.
Your fresh ideas make your story unique! Don’t miss the video!
Plots have been recycled ever since stories have been told, reusing themes like sacrificial death, the poor becoming rich, the ugly becoming beautiful, and other archetypes. Even great works like those of Shakespeare or Jane Austen can be traced to other influences, ideas, and concepts, but how do you make an old plot new? How do you avoid making it seem like fanfiction or a warmed-over version of something that’s already been done?
- Recognize that it can be done. Nothing defeats creativity faster than a feeling like what you’re doing is pointless. From Hamlet to Sense and Sensibility to Wicked and Ever After, new versions of old stories can be enjoyable, original, and fun.
- Look for something different you can bring to the tale. It could be selecting an alternative narrative method, like turning it into a graphic novel or musical, or it could be changing the point-of-view from someone…
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Dads in literature.
Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers out there!
Since my own father passed away six years ago, this day is rather bittersweet. Bitter in the fact that I miss him more than ever on days like this, but sweet because I love thinking of all the wonderful qualities he had as a father (I also make it a point to watch his favorite movies, drink Guinness, and eat double fudge brownies, which all help making it sweet). My dad also instilled my love for fiction, especially my love for Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and the older I get the more I find out that his favorite authors and books are quickly becoming my own as well.
It’s usually difficult to find excellent father’s in literature, but there are a few who stick out to me as exceptional.
1.Jean Valjean, Les Miserables
OK, I may or may not be watching…
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The chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage.
A number of years ago, I taught a couple of writer’s workshops at the William Saroyan Writer’s Conference, and Harlan Ellison was Guest of Honor. Harlan is one of the three writers I point to as the reason I’m a writer today (the other two are Ray Bradbury and Madeleine L’Engle). I was glad for the opportunity to tell him how much his work has meant to me over the years. Here’s a photo of Harlan and me (I’m the shoulder for Harlan to lean on):
I was recently rereading Dangerous Visions, the ground-breaking science fiction story collection Harlan edited. I first read the book in 1967, when I was fourteen. The book came out just months after one of Harlan’s most powerful stories appeared on newsstands in the March 1967 issue of Worlds of IF. That story was called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream,” and…
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You Are Not Alone
Every writer goes through fear at some point. That pit-in-the-stomach, I’m-not-good-enough, my-story-sucks, no-one-will-ever-read-this fear blasts strike all writers. Creativity rides the emotional rollercoaster. Creativity is risk taking. Yes, successful, multi-book authors have the same fears.
Self-Doubt Is The Number One Writer Fear
Blame it on your amygdala, part of your body’s alarm system. Located at the root of your brain the amygdala does everything it can—automatically—keep you safe. If there is risk, the amygdala sends out signals to keep your body safe. Creativity is risk. Fear will happen.
You’ll get fear-lessening signals of every kind.
You’re a writer. You know what the fears are. They don’t go away. So, if you are a beginning writer, know that these fears are going to pop up. The key is to recognize the fears and calm them down.
Self-doubt manifests as self-censorship, so one of the best ways to calm that fear is to keep writing until you find your voice. That unique voice that makes a reader love what you write.
So, keep writing. Don’t get thrown off track. Focus on your current project and your long-term writing goals.
Fear of Rejection
One major element of writer fear is rejection. Just about anyone can trigger rejection fear. You can find yourself in a shutdown of getting your work out, even for help from professionals like editors. So, you can end up not sharing your work, even bits of it, with other people.
On the one hand, bad reactions happen. I have writer friends who have received devastating comments from editors who didn’t understand their genre and terse rejection letters from agents. They found others and published their books with success.
One of the best ways to start combating this fear, is to join a local writer’s group. To start, find a mutually supportive group with fewer than ten people and make certain they are sympatico. Avoid groups with
Don’t hesitate to leave if the group doesn’t fit.
The people in the group are also writers with the same fears.
Every writer has fears.
Other writers understand your fears. You’ll discover that other writers are one of your best fear conquering connections.
So Many Fears
As if self-doubt and fear of rejection weren’t enough, writer and writing coach Jurgen Wolff has identified seven basic writer fears in his book Your Writing Coach:
And, I’m sure you, as a writer, can add your personal list.
With so many fears lurking in your writer mind, it’s easy to succumb. Writers who succeed keep writing.
The Determination Antidote
Know that doubts are going to creep in. They never go away. But you can work to minimize the fear. The best antidote to writer fear is determination.
Author and writing coach Joanna Penn calls working on your work the “palette cleanser.” Get the taste of those fears out and work to find your writer voice by continuing to write. She talks about The Successful Author Mindset in a recent podcast. This is a great talk to bookmark so you can listen when those fears pop up.
Non-fiction author David Amerland has found his voice several times as he writes. He’s gone from marketing, to the semantic web, to SEO for business owners. And recently, inadvertently, found the spark for his new book The Sniper Mind: Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty, and Make Better Decisions while researching something else.
If that quote spurs you to determination, he has posted an entire page of fear conquering quotes. You can bookmark this page, too, for quick fear-fighting inspiration.
Get To It
The one action all of these successful writers recommend is to keep writing. I tell my writing clients the same thing.
Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos, are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.
She consults with a select group of writers as The Story Bodyguard.
Thank you, PJ, for inviting me to guest post on Bookbrowsing. I’ve been so focused on promotion that I haven’t taken the time to analyze my sales. The data I uncovered for this blog has been tremendously insightful. I’ll use it to shape my marketing efforts going forward.
In February of 2017, I published NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book Three in my Nantucket Mystery series through my Indie imprint, Buccaneer. From the get-go, I’ve tracked the sales results of my promotional efforts to see what worked best. Here is the analysis of those stats.
I used Amazon’s CreateSpace to publish NO REST as a trade paperback, and as a Kindle (.mobi) edition. I did not opt for the Kindle Select program, because I wanted my distribution to be as broad as possible.
I used Smashwords to create the other retailer e-book files I needed (.ePub for Apple…
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