Category Archives: Advice

WHO AM I? . . . WHY AM I HERE? . . . AND HOW DID I GET HERE?

Einstein quote about explaining

In writing, we are always told to SHOW not TELL—but sometimes, we do need to do a bit of explaining so we don’t leave our readers floundering.

Reader to himself: “I had no idea Frances was Genevieve’s second cousin, once removed, and lived at the top of the hill just behind the shuttered mansion! That information would have come in handy when she was stabbed with the knife bearing the family crest!”

No one likes to be kept in the dark indefinitely, and so I thought it helpful to provide you, dear reader, with the following insight:

What Causes Under-Explaining?

Under-explaining can happen for one of two reasons:

1. The author doesn’t know his story well enough.

If you’re writing about a character, setting, or activity that you really don’t know that well, you may fail to fill in important blanks simply because you lack the info yourself.

2. The author knows his story too well.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the problem of our own rampant imaginations running away with us. We see our characters, settings, and situations so clearly in our own minds that we forget readers aren’t sharing that vision. You may know your hero is blond, 6’1”, and about twenty pounds overweight, but that doesn’t mean that information will be automatically brain-waved to your readers.

K.M. Weiland , November 3, 2013

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

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*******TRUST YOUR GUT!*******

Excerpt from PhillyVoice

Lightbulb Bridge
Light bulb acts as bridge across metaphorical cliffs.
March 12, 2016
Drexel study: Insight yields better solutions than analytical approach

DOES THIS CONFIRM THE ADAGE FROM THE 60’s—”IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT?”

When researchers from Drexel University, Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and Italy’s Milano Bicocca University conducted a series of puzzle experiments that tested the effectiveness of eureka thinking compared to methodical analysis, they found that responses derived from insight overwhelmingly led to more correct answers than those that came from more involved thought processes.

“Conscious, analytic thinking can sometimes be rushed or sloppy, leading to mistakes while solving a problem,” said John Kounios, director of Drexel’s Ph.D. program in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “However, INSIGHT IS UNCONSCIOUS AND AUTOMATIC — it can’t be rushed.

When the process runs to completion in its own time and all the dots are connected unconsciously, the solution pops into awareness as an Aha! moment.

Ah ha moment

This means that when a really creative, breakthrough idea is needed, it’s often best to wait for the insight rather than settling for an idea that resulted from analytical thinking.”

TESTING…TESTING 1,2,3…TESTING…

The following “WRITER’S TEST” is brought to you by: Katie Yeakle at AWAI (American Writers & Artists, Inc.)

Let’s find out if you’re “cut out” to be a successful writer.
Right now, ask yourself these questions:

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TOLD YOU WERE A GOOD WRITER?

Let’s face it … writers have to know how to get their thoughts and ideas across in writing. Do you need to be able to do it like a Hemingway or Danielle Steel? No! You’ll develop your own style as you write more and hone your craft. But if anyone at any time has read any form of writing from you and said, “Hey, did anyone ever tell you you’re a pretty good writer?” then chances are very good you’ve got that spark of talent you need.

CAN YOU STICK TO A SCHEDULE?

At first, this won’t be an issue. You can take as long as you want to write that first book. But once there’s interest in your work … and once you have success and publishers want more books from you … you’re going to have deadlines for edits, new drafts, new outlines, and so on.

DO YOU ENJOY WORKING INDEPENDENTLY?

This is the part about “being a writer” that most writers love: The idea of writing at any time, for as long as you want, from anywhere in the world, with nobody looking over your shoulder. But some need a more “regimented” life, with rules and structure and a more “defined” workday to be productive. If you need more “regiment,” getting motivated each day could be a struggle. But if you love working on your own, the writer’s life is perfect for you.

ARE YOU OKAY WITH FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS?

Any successful writer will tell you — a good editor is usually the “secret weapon” behind their success. And as a new writer, an editor will play an even more crucial role. The best writers recognize that editors — or anyone who reads your work, really — can offer a much-needed fresh perspective … which is why the most successful writers are always open to new suggestions and ideas.

DO YOU LOVE TO READ OR WATCH MOVIES?

This one’s pretty obvious: Writers love to be captivated by a good story — whether on the page, on the screen, or on the stage. If you’ve ever finished a great book or play, or watched a terrific movie, and found yourself inspired to write, chances are great you’re cut out to be a writer.

ARE YOU A “DAYDREAMER” … DO YOU LOVE TO LET YOUR MIND WANDER?

Daydreamers have a bad rep! In school, it got you detention. In your day job, it can get you hauled into the boss’s office. But for a writer — daydreaming is not only okay … it’s mandatory! So if you’ve ever found yourself totally immersed in creative thought when you should be doing something else — chances are, you’re cut out to be a writer.
There you have it …
Six of the top traits many of the world’s most successful writers share.
—Katie Yeakle

 

If you took the time to complete this test—in my book, you passed! Congratulations! Star stickers will be handed out at the end of class today. Now, please turn to page 32 in your workbooks…

(Stern Words)

 

AN APPLE A DAY!

A writer friend of mine from “The #Awethors,” posted a link to this great informational site. I found #2 to be quite interesting. It informs us that Amazon is cracking down on sloppy self-publishing. This is a good thing!

To this point, many people have believed that self-publishing was for losers who could not get a million-dollar book deal from one of the highfalutin publishing houses in the big city. Those of us new (or old) to the industry know (or have learned) this is not the case. But, you know what they say about a few bad apples.

Beginning this month, Amazon has decided to pluck those worm-infested fruits from the bushels of books being offered.

If you have an interest in learning more, dear readers, I offer the following link for your perusal:

10 Trends in Publishing Every Indie Author Needs to Know

 

 

Please return and let us know in the Comments section of this post if this information was helpful to you as you pursue your own writing career.

SORRY, I’VE GOT TO DASH!

For all of you serious writers out there, I offer you this link to a very informative lesson on lines of various length!

How to Use Hyphens, En Dashes, and Em Dashes

When you have completed reading that helpful blog post, please return here, and tell me (and my millions of followers) if you learned anything new about lines.

That’s the long and the short of it!

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for helpful writing advice.

Perhaps you’ve noticed—there’s a blizzard of it out there.  And like snowflakes, no two advisors are the same, in the way they drift their sage words against the fence corralling our own individual genius.

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for having your shovel handy at moments like this.

In editing my book, Bosses and Blackjacks, I’ve been struggling to decide if the beginning is too slow. But, today I happened upon a mound of advice that I did not have to dig through to understand.

I share it with you now, dear reader:

“Opening a novel with a lot of fast action is like putting your reader on a Japanese bullet train going 320 miles an hour. The landscape outside the window is all blurry.

There’s no reason to look at it because you can’t really make sense of it. You might as well take a nap.”

(By Sally Apokedak, @sally_apokedak
Sally is a literary agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency and is a popular speaker at writer’s conferences around the country.)

I agree with Sally.

No need to change my book’s beginning. Ease into it, so my readers have a sense of my protagonist and the world he lives in, before he goes crashing headlong into a drift of life-threatening hairpin turns.

Do you agree that we all latch onto any advice that fits exactly with what we were thinking in the first place—as I did here? We are vindicated We feel affirmed. We have packed our egos neatly and made it to the station on time.

All aboard! We are on the right track!

Before You Shred It – Read This!

When you feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope (or chain) with your latest manuscript—before your shred it into tiny little pulp flakes—take a moment to read the following writing advice.

Who knows? It might just be enough to rev up your genius motor and get you back to saying: “Type magic fingers, type!”

1. Have your characters avoid asking questions. Instead have them speak in declarative statements. Instead of saying, “What happened to your face?” Have a character make a statement, “Your face looks horrible. I knew going to the bar was a bad idea.”

2. Have characters agree. It’s an easy trap (and a realistic one) to have characters disagree. We tend to think that causes drama. But actually it stalls a plot. Have characters agree and suddenly your plot goes to unexpected territory.

With permission from Patrick Wensink, author of “Fake Fruit Factory.”

Let Me Get Right to the Point!

You know how when you are reaching the end of a fantastic book—and you don’t want to finish it—because then what will you do with the rest of your life?

You’ve been living in this fantasy world for hours and hours, perhaps days and days. You don’t want to say goodbye to the people (or creatures) who inhabited that world with you. What will become of them? Where will they go next? You want them to live and grow old with you. But they can’t and they don’t.

Depressing, right?

That’s where I am in my writing. I’m this close to finishing my first book, and I’m a little depressed because I will have to say goodbye to the familiar occupants of my pages. What will become of me? Where will I go next?

If my son were here, he would place one hand on each of my shoulders, look me in the eye, and say,Calm down.” For some reason, that always worked.  Amazing.  Writing that helped.

So, “buck up,” me—“get back to work and finish that thing!”

Please visit the “comments” section. I’d love to hear how you, dear reader, push through when you’re nearing completion of a writing project, and make the decision to say, “Th-th-that’s All Folks!”