Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Real with Dialogue

Foul language is, well, foul. I don’t need it and I don’t think my readers will miss it—even if my male main character is a typical high school senior. Someone out there just rolled their eyes. A valid point. A writer needs to get real. Real emotions, real problems, real solutions. What about real dialogue? My critique group just discussed this. Apparently some swear words are more acceptable than others and what you grew up with is an influencing factor. Is it possible to write real dialogue without swearing? (Keep in mind that I’m aiming to please myself since I’ll never please everyone.) The MC, Josh, is a good kid with values, but he’s starting to run into some rough characters with grand theft auto on their minds. Can a writer show enough details and emotion through things like description and tension that the reader gets it without vulgar word choice? This writer is attempting to find out. Reality Zone is dead ahead. I’d love to hear what you think.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simple Fixes → Big Improvements

The right word choice can tighten up your writing and make it flow. A recent reminder of this struck me as I went through some rewrites. Using more words than needed is a common mistake—but also an easy fix. Here are some examples:

Food started to sound good to me. → Food sounded good to me.
I pretended to look at something else. → I looked elsewhere.
She was going to be next. → She would be next.
I didn’t want to risk being seen. → I couldn’t risk being seen.

Each of these examples has something in common besides being shortened. The little word “to” following the first verb weakens the next verb that I’d rather emphasize. I don’t want a character to merely “begin to" do something. I want her to do it. This improves the drama and pacing of the writing. Make use of your Find and Replace Box to catch these simple errors. Type a space before and after ( to ) so you don't get every word containing those two letters. Beleive me, there will be enough of them without finding things you don't want.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Counting Your Blessings

The word rejection mingled with blessings and heroes into a melting pot I’m calling “Counting your blessings”.

A few weeks ago I heard from my first choice publisher that after five months of consideration, my novel, The Seventh City, didn’t fit their current publishing needs. Official rejection! Maybe I had to tell myself to breathe again, but the world did not stop. I’m telling myself that they have more Book of Mormon fiction than they need rather than that my hard work wasn’t good enough. I still have a “get out of the slush pile free” perk to two more publishers for winning a first chapter contest. Perhaps that is why the world didn’t crash in on me. But, dang it, I know it means more work before resubmitting. *Sigh*.

Looking back, there have been a lot of good things on which to reflect instead of moping over rejection. My writing has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to a wonderful critique group, fabulous conferences, and persistence. That last one especially is my advice to those who love writing and don’t mind a little hard work. One day we will be published!

Thinking on that fateful day for America ten years ago, where would we be if we didn’t recover from the tragedy that struck? What would be the result of not banding together in unity for renewed love of country and the importance of family? My personal rejection story may be unworthy in comparison, but it is mine. Periods of mourning vary in each instance, but eventually we have to move on. It is the same with writing or anything else we love to pursue. Seek creditable feedback, continue learning the craft, keep at it, and count your blessings!

I’m thankful for the heroes who put their lives on the line, for the dignity of suffering families who recovered, for those who saved others, who cleaned up the damage, who donated money, who prayed, who . . .

Monday, September 5, 2011

I'm Celebrating!

I'm celebrating several things this week. First, I'm announcing my two winners in the Awesome August Blog Hop.
Chris has chosen to receive Wrong Number by Rachelle Christensen and
Squiggles will receive Matched by Ally Condie.
Okay, maybe they are celebrating the win more than I am, but I'm happy for them. Congratulations!
Second, this week is the one year anniversary of my blog and I expect to get my 100th follower. Will it be you?
Third, I survived my first week as an empty nester. My baby is off to college. A few mixed feelings here, but overall it's a good thing. I hope he has some great experiences like I did. Those were the days, weren't they? Still, I wouldn't go back.
Fourth, the feedback about "something you like about other blogs" was terrific and I'm looking to implement some changes soon. Want to know what people liked and my response? I've combined them into categories. Keep in mind that my theme is Meaningful Mondays so not every alliteration title will work (but the idea might).
1. Reviews (8 comments). Book Reviews, a search index tab to find them, photos showing covers of my reading bookcase and what's in my mailbox, and lesser known or older book reviews. I've reviewed a few books here and wish authors would send me more. Sounds like I need to put my Goodreads reviews on my blog. Hope I can figure out how to do the search tab. I'll check into this.
2. Guests (4). Author interview, features, or guest posts. I've done a couple of these and see no reason not to continue. It adds a little variety.
3. Themes (4). Tuesday Teaser shares a few lined from your current read, Flash fiction Friday, Six sentence Saturday, Wordless Wednesday--post a photo, Wordful Wednesday explains the story behind the photo. I'll rename and use some of these.
4. Questions (3). Answering random questions or lists to get to know me, used as a contest entry, or to open a topic for discussion. Randomness is objective, but I like to pose questions and answer a few. See my post on seven random things about me.
3. Links (1). To reading the first chapter of a book. I'd love to do this with my own, once I'm published. Great way to see if it hooks you and to advertise.
5. Contests (1). Use Googleform or Rafflecopter widgets for contest entries. Good idea. Ya learn somethin' new every day.
7. Widgets (1). WIP counter. Check that one off.
So, did I get your favorite on the list? Leave a comment to add to my list and watch for yours in the future. OR tell me what you are celebrating.
Happy Labor Day!