Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Much Of A Post Today

Another Wednesday, another round of laser surgery.  Sigh.

Those of you who've been reading my blog recently know that I've had two surgeries for tears in  my retina in the last couple of months.  So I wasn't completely surprised when I went in to the ophthalmologist this morning for a followup and learned I now had two more tears.  Yep, so more laser surgery for me this morning.

This time, though, instead of just sealing the tears, he went along the entire periphery of the retina and sealed it down to stop any more tears from forming.  He seems rather optimistic about this procedure, since my next followup isn't until March, but I'll be watching for any changes to my vision in the meantime.

As a result of this extra long procedure, I have a headache and my eyes are still so dilated that I need sunglasses inside the house, so this post will be quite short.  Stop by again on Friday for the Writing links.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm especially thankful to have all you supportive writers as friends to help keep me writing.

BTW, once the tryptophan wears off, I promise to get some writing done tonight. I swear it this time!

For those of you in charge of cooking the turkey this year, here's a video you should watch.

How to Fry a Turkey (Without Burning Your House Down)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 149

None much progress on the writing front this week. Still struggling with the same scene I've been stuck on for an embarrassingly long time. Usually my problem has to do with pacing, but this time I think it comes down to me not really knowing what needs to happen in the scene. I have a bullet list of things I want/need my characters to say and do, but putting it all together in a coherent fashion just isn't working. It might turn out I have to dump some of those items on my checklist, but deciding which of my darlings to kill and which should stay is hard.

Either way, I'm REALLY tired of working on this chapter.

Some of you might recall I had laser surgery to repair a small tear in my retina a couple of months ago. Well, I went back to the doctor for a followup and while the original tear was fine, a new one had developed, which meant I had to go through the laser procedure again. Oh joy! It only took a few minutes, and this time I was prepared for the discomfort, so it wasn't too bad, but I'm praying no new tears show up when I go back in a few weeks.

And if you haven't already seen it, be sure to check out Crystal Collier's post from Wednesday

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


5 Ways to use Facebook Groups to Build Book Buzz

Ask the Story Genius: What Does ‘Likeable’ Really Mean?

6 Ways Grammarly Can Improve Your Writing And Editing

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Two

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Three

How I fell for The Good Wife…Elements of a Stellar Opening Scene

When It’s OK to Listen to Your Inner Editor

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Creating Balanced Prose: A Guest Post By Crystal Collier

Today, Crystal Collier has stopped by to share info about her new book and to provide some writing tips! Take it away, Crystal!

Creating Balanced Prose

Thank you Ken for having me here today!

Purple prose. Passive voice. Stagnant sentence structure. Rambling. Lackluster language... There are so many ways to go wrong with our writing, it's a wonder we ever get it right.

So how do we get it right?

Every writer is different. You are going to develop your own "voice" if you haven't already. It won't necessarily be like your favorite author's. (It had better not be!) It will be a reflection of your SOUL. But on the less creepy end of things... Your voice will come from your personal understanding of the world, your interpretation of the genre you write, and your inner thoughts.

In order to develop this voice, you need to write BUT also read. Read everything--especially the genre you're writing. Be sure to include books outside of your genre. You'll find beauty in every field, even if you don't love the story conventions or characters.

Now that we're done with the touchy feely, let's talk about mechanics.

Purple prose. This is poetic language that can occasionally become overwrought, overly dramatic, or so poetic that readers scratch their heads. (We don't want head scratching.) The modern trend is to go simple. To ax this pretty stuff. Keep that in mind as you develop your style, and watch for where it appears in your genre. Dean Koontz writes thrillers, but his descriptions are so beautiful they would totally fall into the purple prose arena (according to some). Yet he's a best seller. Know the rules, don't let them crush you. I employ some of this in Moonless and Soulless, because they're both written in a time period where beautiful language prevailed. It's reflective of the era, and thus the filter I chose for telling these stories.

Passive voice. How do we identify it? Passive voice is reactionary. It's distant. It might even be vague. There's something (time, space, another person) between us and the action of the sentences. Ex: The room was cleaned by Angela. (See the distance between the character and the action?) In active voice: Angela cleaned the room. Now people tell us passive voice is NEVER acceptable. Most of the time, that's true. There are rare instances when it's necessary like in SHORT stints of exposition. (Quick backstory or summary to get us from one active scene to the next, or one active thought to the next.) To overcome passive voice, focus on the action of the moment and bring it to the front. Shove it in our faces. Throw the rest away.

Sentence structure. I'm not talking noun/verb. I'm talking variation and length. If you start five sentences in a row with "He", you're due for some revising. If you start each paragraph with sequence clauses (Before he ate dinner, he...), you should probably examine your method. And length. As readers, we like change. We like diversification. We need a break from long rambling sentences for sharp, single-word statements. See? The same goes for paragraph structure/length. The biggest thing I learned from script writing was not to fear white space. White space on the page gives readers a subconscious breath of fresh air. Some authors even apply this concept to chapter length. (Ahem. *points to self*)

Overwriting or rambling. Awesome writing is tight. Don't bore us with details that won't further the story. We know the character walked across the room because we see he is now looking out the peephole of the door. No need to tell us he walked across the room UNLESS you are using the action to show the character's emotional state. Tags are also not necessary when you have action beats that point us to the speaker. Likewise, examine your descriptions. Make sure every one of them points us to the MOST important aspect. The box may have four sides, but what can the character see and WHY are they focusing on it? Make your description purposeful. For instance, you may wish to describe a starry sky, but what the reader wants to know is that it's night, and the mood of that night. It could be terrifying, suffocating, awe-inspiring, or filled with jittery anticipation. Whatever it is, use language in your descriptions to bring out the mood. Another quick tip--don't repeat dialog in thought processes. And lastly, avoid adjectives and adverbs. They don't strengthen sentences. They bog them down. A great way to practice tightening up your writing is by trying your hand at Flash Fiction.

What advice do you have for writing balanced prose?

Thanks again, Crystal.  And if you guys enjoyed what she had to say, why don't you consider checking out her latest book? And don't forget to spin the scary-looking wheel at the end of this post.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her online HERE

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 148

There was no Wednesday post this week. Like a lot of people, I was distressed by Tuesday's results. The last time we elected someone for president whose qualifications were suspect, we found ourselves mired in a disasterous war (the cost of which is estimated to have paid for Obamacare for the next 50 years) and our economy cratered.

And Trump makes Bush look like a genius.

What really distresses me is that exit polls revealed that a significant number of people who voted for Trump admitted that they believed Hillary was more qualified to be president, but thought that sending a loose cannon like Trump to Washington might just shake things up, hopefully for the good.

Be careful what you wish for.    All the reports out there so far are that, instead of surrounding himself with experts, Trump seems intent on surrounding himself with echo chamber buddies like Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, and Newt Gingrich.

Any bets as to how many wars we're going to get into this time? Sigh...


(NaNoWriMo Day 9): 8th Key Scene: Tests & Trials

Getting Middle Grade Voice Right

3 Ways to Improve Your Storytelling

Can Social Media Really Sell Your Books?

Mastering Stylistic Tension

Nanowrimo: Act I questions and prompts

Not a writing link, but I thought this post by Chuck Wendig seemed appropriate.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 147

In an surprise announcement that should surprise no one, I didn't finish my submission for the IWSG Anthology.  Knowing how slowly I write, I should have started working on it far earlier than I did.  My bad, although life did have something to do with missing the deadline.

This week's video is an interview with Michael Hauge where he discusses the main character's internal journey in books and movies.  If you're a writer and haven't heard of "The Hero's Journey" or Michael Hauge yet, then I suggest you Google them right now. If you want to add depth to your story, this is definitely one way to do it.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


P.S. For those of you watching on mobile devices, please let me know if the video doesn't work properly.


The Links:

5 Ways That Authors Can Use Facebook Advertising

How to Get 10,000 Visits to Your Blog in One Day with No Platform

Understanding Inner Conflict with Story Expert Michael Hauge

How Filtering the Point of View Affects Show, Don’t Tell
This is from Janice Hardy's new book Understanding Show, Don't Tell. I highly recommend the book.

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Newsletter Plan? Part Four

Audiobooks 101: a Beginner’s Look at the Process of Getting an Audiobook Made

Writing Basics: The Act Two Disaster

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Being Able to Share Your Worlds

Today is November's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

And this month's question is:

“What's my favorite aspect of being a writer?” 

The answer: Being able to create my own worlds and characters. 

Seems like an obvious answer, right?  Who wouldn't want to be in charge of a world?  Making the rules.  Deciding who lives or dies. Heck, having the final say over what happens to my characters and my world is just plain intoxicating.  As Mel Brooks once said, "It's good to be the king."  

But now that I think about it, I realize that being able to create worlds is not the full answer. I could do all that creating in the privacy of my own head and never write a single word. What gets my juices flowing is sharing those worlds and characters with others. The people and places in my stories may feel real to me when I dream them up, and even more real when I put them down on paper, but when I share those stories with other people, the realness factor jumps by an order of magnitude. And the more people I share my story with, the better.

But none of that will happen if I don't finish my story, so I'm determined to keep writing until the world has a chance to see my completed story. 

That’s the attitude that keeps me coming back to the manuscript during those dark days when the words don’t come.