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To Ly Word or Not to Ly Word: Writing Real Good. I Mean it. (Part 3)

A few more hints for you as you work this next year, getting ready for WIFYR.

  1. Here’s a great way to self-edit. After those pages are done, here are a few steps that will help you catch a lot of bad writing, confused writing, icky writing.
    1. Read your manuscript, silently, on the screen. Make appropriate changes.
    2. Read your manuscript, out loud, on the screen. Make appropriate changes.
    3. Print your manuscript. Read silently. Make appropriate changes.
    4. Print your manuscript. Read out loud. Make appropriate changes.
    5. Have someone read your work for you, making appropriate suggestions.
    6. Have someone read your work, out loud, to you. Now you can hear if someone stumbles, questions, worries or wonders over something.
  2. Study how the very best writers do it. When you read, read like a writer, with a pen in your hand, making notes in the margins of books. Look at voice, how a writer twists the plot or comes up with new description. Mark it all. Learn from it all.
  3. Watch your body parts. Rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders, standing up and sitting down etc etc etc. Some things just don’t need too much description. That said, I love the idea of comparing a kid and a flamingo. Don’t ask me why.
  4. Write your heart. If you do, you will write truth. And there is something lovely or ugly or hilarious or frightening etc about truth.
  5. I am a William Zinsser fan, owning several of his books on craft. Here are ten tips I found online.  http://www.openculture.com/2012/04/ray_bradbury_gives_12_pieces_of_writing_advice_to_young_authors_2001.html

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Good Ol’ Trent Reedy

My friend, Trent Reedy, is going to write one million words this year. A MILLION.

(I have written 3,000 words since the start of January.)

We’ve talked about that million words.

“What if they’re bad?” I said.

“Of course, they’re bad.”

“What about rewriting?”

“Oh, I’ll rewrite.”

“But . . .”

“Look,” Trent said. “I was only writing 800 words a day before. Now I’m getting words on the page. If I don’t write, I have nothing to edit. No books to work on.” (In case Trent reads this post, I have taken our conversation over several days, squished it together, and written the best parts here. All swears have been omitted!)

Trent makes a great point. If you never pen the words, you never have a book to edit, to send to an agent, to sell to an editor, to wind up on a shelf. Just this week a student came to my office and told me she’s had a great idea for a series for several years. No words were written. And when I gave her my advice several times during our thirty minutes together–Just write–I could tell I sorta bugged her.

Don’t dream.

Just write.

Just write.

Just write.

Do you write no matter what? I don’t. But . . . I’m lucky to have a friend like Trent who does just write. He encourages me daily, and has gently prodded me to write, maybe not realizing this is what he’s doing.

This year I had hoped to write four days a week, but I haven’t been able to for whatever reason. However, as I have watched my pal, I’ve taken courage. My new goal is one hour of writing–really writing–four days a week. If things normalize here, then I can increase that. If they don’t, I have four thousand new words a week. And that, as they say, is nothing to sneeze at.

But to do nothing? Well, the days still pass. The weeks do, too. And at the end, if I do no writing, I have nothing to edit.

Just as Trent says.

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Three Things Thursday–Including Miss Debbie!

1. So it looks like J K Rowling couldn’t stay away from the Harry Potter world. What do you think? I’m sure many people are excited.


2.Guess what else? If we want, there’s an app that allows us to block Miley Cyrus. What do you think of that? Is there a way to block everyone I have trouble with? That I don’t like? That make me sick? That I feel jealous of?

I must admit, though, MC is getting on my nerves. If I thought she had talent or if I thought something unique about her, maybe I wouldn’t be bothered bu seeing her in the news so much. For a long time I loved Lady Gaga.

Tongues, body, sex. Freaky stuff. Ye haw!

And a great song.

3. Salsa and Writing – by Debbie Nance

Making salsa takes time. First, you need tomatoes. Earlier this year, my hubby and I went to a couple of places to find the best tomato plants and then Cal planted four of them in our garden. The tomatoes needed good soil, fertilizer, water, sunshine, bees to pollinate the tiny flowers, wire cages to support the vines, and plenty of time in order to grow and become ripe.

Writing a book is a lot like making salsa. First, you need an idea. Maybe you have a great first line, or an amazing main character, or a wonderful setting/location, or a terrific climatic moment, or a fantastic finish. Maybe a reporter says something on the news or you read about a subject online or your kid/neighbor/random stranger does something funny or mean or kind and it sparks an idea for a plot. Next, you let the idea germinate and soon enough you’re ready to start typing.

For salsa, I washed, blanched, peeled, and chunked the tomatoes. Next, I added a little sugar, salt, and spices. I chopped onions and two kinds of peppers in my blender, and added those to the pot. I stirred everything together and let the mixture heat. I tasted it and I had Cal taste it.

For a novel, you write a scene or two, you add characters and show their feelings. You add in scene details and dialogue to spice up the plot. You keep typing, chapters appear. Pretty soon you have a first draft, but that is only the beginning. You read the book aloud and have someone else read it. Maybe several beta readers or your critique group.

Oops, the salsa was too spicy. Now what? I poured half of the salsa into a different pot then repeated the process for making another batch— except with fewer peppers—then poured half of the second batch into each pot and stirred. Again, I tasted it and I had Cal taste it… better. After an hour or so of cooking, the salsa had boiled down to a thicker consistency. Perfect!

You discover there are parts of your book that you like and a few things that need revising. Maybe you need to spice up a scene or slow down a section. Or maybe you need to keep half of the book and put the other half on the shelf to simmer for another time. You keep typing. You keep adding and deleting and revising until… Perfect!

I poured the salsa into clean hot jars with clean hot lids and rings and put the jars in a hot water bath. I waited for the water to come to a gentle boil. It seemed to take forever. Finally when the water boiled, I set the timer and went to do other things. After the allotted time, I removed the jars and put them on a towel to cool. No doubt, some people will think my salsa is too sweet or not spicy enough or too chunky or not thick enough. For me, it is just right and I am pleased with my efforts.

You send your book to your agent or editor, or to someone you would like to be your agent or editor. You wait. It seems like it takes forever. You start on another book. After the allotted time you hear back from the pros. No doubt some will think your book needs more revisions and you will decide what changes, if any, you need to make. Whether or not it is ever published, at some point your book will be just right for you and you can be pleased with your efforts.

Anyone for chips and salsa and a good book to read?

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