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Posts Tagged ‘writing exercises’

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get bored. I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again, just like a get bored with listening to the same type of music over and over again. So the other day, while I was listening to the same songs for the thousandth time, I decided I needed a change. Not just a new artist kind of change, but an entirely new view type of change. The result? I came across Spanish pop singer Alejandro Sanz. Now, my Spanish skills are minimal at best, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the unique sound of his voice and inflections within it. The visual wasn’t too bad either. I normally am not a fan of tattoos, but on the right guy…:) Anyway, music is a universal language for a reason. Instruments, chords, keys are the same in all of them. Also, living in the most connected age in history makes it easy for someone like to me to go and look up the lyrics to his music in English so I have some clue what is being said.

But I’m really enjoying this. A whole ‘nother world of artists has been opened up to me. People I can learn something from in more than one way. First I have the message of the lyrics, then there are the way things are phrased. I have heard many times that English isn’t as easy to write in because it’s not as “flexible” as other languages. On top of that, it gives me a chance to brush up on my high school and college Spanish. Something that is very rusty. All this is very important to me, especially when it comes to my writing. I think it’s easy for writers, especially those who speak only one language, to write from that one view. But, if I have a bi-lingual character whose upbringing was mixed, or a character that embraces their ancestors culture, knowing things like the pop artists and at least bits and pieces of the language can really help in creating an authentic character. Not some stereo-type that no one connects to. Right now I’m working on a story in which on of my main characters is Hispanic. So right now I’m trying to create his personality and find out who he is. I think exposing myself more to this culture will really help me shape who him.

So tell me, what do you to when you need a change of perspective when creating a character? Let me know in the comments below.

Now enjoy this video of Alejandro Sanz while I find my pencil. 😉

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Nothing

Every breath I take filled with emotionless air.
Suffocating in nothingness for too many years.
Unable to hurt, to cry, to love.
Not even a sliver of guilt
When you tell me I don’t care.
So fed up with pretending,
The facade is slowly breaking.
Nothing left to give, Nothing left to take.
Will you stay beside me if I finally let you see?
Or, will you leave if I take down my defenses
In order for you to glimpse,
The nothing that is me.

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As writers, we make decisions everyday from what scene we’re going to work on for the day to what elements  we’re going to keep or throw out. But sometimes, trying to figure out what should stay and what should go is more gray than black and white. When I first sit down to start a story I ask myself a few simple questions: what is this story about? What challenges will my hero/heroine face? How do I get there? Answering these questions is the easy part. I have a clear plan I want to follow. It’s when I actually start writing I run into trouble. Suddenly my mind goes into overdrive and ideas spring forth one after another and before I realize it, I have too many elements for one story to hold. The best is when I couldn’t think of anything before and end up with an overload of ideas after I start. Now the question becomes what ideas are going to enhance my story and bring out the themes and subplots and which scenes/ideas are just weighing it down? How do I decide?

I am facing this question right now with my story Love, Death and Other Things. I’m not even twenty-thousand words in and I feel like there are too many things weighing it down. Car crash, heart-ache, rape, break-up and I’m not even finished. For me, it’s too early to tell what should stay and what should go, but I already have an idea that not everything is going to work. It almost feels like I wanted to write a great story, so in the interest of writing the best story I took every jaw-dropping, heart-stopping moment I could think of and wrote it in. The verdict of what goes and what will stay won’t happen until I finish the story and flesh out my main characters internal plot. That’s thousands of words and one revision from where I’m at now. In other  words, I won’t be able to actually start cutting out pieces for at least a few more weeks…if not months. But that’s okay. It’s fine if I don’t have the answers right now. Sometimes its better to wait and get to know the characters and story better before making any unnecessary changes.

I’ve read many blogs from authors who have begun cutting too soon and make more work for themselves later because they write  more scenes that don’t work and then end up re-typing the original idea. I’m not saying waiting is always better, but sometimes, if you don’t wait, instead of having too much in your story there is too little, which is like starting all over again.

How do you deal with too many ideas in one story? How do you decide what stay and what should go?

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As writers we pride ourselves on being able to pick out spelling mistakes and grammar no no’s. We train ourselves to spot any offending apostrophe or semicolon and fix it.  But along the way we lose our ability to let any mistake go.  At some point along the road to becoming a professional writer, we develop an odd case of OCD–one that only applies to the written word. Suddenly any memo, letter or e-mail that comes across our eyes isn’t safe and we compulsively correct it as we crack snide remarks about people who spell words like “see” and “you”  “c” “u” and shake our heads at the end of literacy all together.

I actually read a post by a mother in which she states her child will always have to write in complete sentences with correct punctuation and grammar, even if her son/daughter is texting; and she is not alone in her extremism. I have read countless writing blogs wherein the author abhors any misused punctuation or misspelled words. Some can’t even tolerate the use of “fake” words. So this is my post to all  the writers out there frantically scouring their WIPs for all the errors they’ve made or words they may have made up.

RELAX.

Somewhere along our path to becoming a writer, we have forgotten the most important thing. Language is a living thing. (This includes writing). We do not use the same words now as we did back in the 1400s and the words we do, don’t mean the same thing. I mean, look at the history of the word gay, it wasn’t that long ago when it had nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Some of the words we use today were made up by writers. Shakespeare has been credited with creating an obscene amount, including milk.

The fact is, if we don’t make mistakes, if we don’t allow the trends of the time to influence our writing at all, we aren’t participating in language. It’s alive, it’s going to be messy, but as long as there are enough periods and commas, it’s readable. I’m not saying we should ditch the rules altogether, but one error isn’t going to make or break a Manuscript. Besides, writing shouldn’t be about the best rule follower, it should be about capturing the life of language. And your MS will reflect a single moment in the life and evolution of the English language. So as a writer I will  embrace every LOL, LMAO, ROFL, Ain’t, double negative and out of place punctuation mark I make and change the one’s I catch. Because I’m a writer.

What about you? Have you become an OCD Grammar Nazi? If so do you think this has helped or hindered your writing?

I’m off now to cry over my poor laptop which has fallen out of commission today. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter if I find my pencil or not, as all my stories are trapped inside it’s locked depths.

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Wow! It feels like forever since I did one of these. This RTP, hosted by the ladies over at yahighway, asks us to:

Invent your own mythological creature!

My mythological creature has a silly name.  I call it a Water Woo, which fits its whimsical nature. Water Woos are frog-like creatures with human-like hands and hair. They live in large bodies of water, i.e. oceans and lakes and maintain an aristocratical form of government.   While they are silly and light-hearted, and somewhat mischievous, Water Woos possess great power and often mislead their opponents into underestimating them.

So that is my mythological creature. It would be more complete if I had actually created a myth to encompass them, but I have not done that yet. I guess it will have to wait for another day.

So tell me, what’s your mythological creature like?

Now it’s back to work until my next post. I hope everybody finds their pencil in meantime. Hopefully I will. ;p

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Okay, so I haven’t written anything for awhile and I said I wouldn’t until I took my certification test….but I can’t stay away from writing too long. 🙂 I even have the first chapter of my MS up and am thinking about revising. But we’ll just keep that little secret between you and me. Wink Wink.

What I want to discuss today are pick-up lines.  Weird topic, I know, but a fun one at least. Over my life, I’ve heard my share of pick-up lines.  Some simple and cliche “You’re beautiful” to the less appealing but interesting “Can you go across the street and buy me a lottery ticket? ‘Cause girl, you look lucky.” I’m sad to say the last one came from the security guard at the bank.  Talk about uncomfortable.  I’ve even had the experience of waiting to cross the parking lot when a car stops and the man driving leans out the window and says “Walk. Slowly.” Yeah, the epitome of class right there.

The most romantic “pick-up” line I’ve ever heard, which isn’t really a pick-up line since it came from an ex-boyfriend, was “At first glance you’re cute. But you become more beautiful with every look.”  I smiled for weeks after.

So why is this important and how does it relate to writing?  Each pick-up line gives the reader an idea about the person without having to mention anything else. Culture, views on women/men, personality etc. can be shown through something as innocuous as the way you’re characters pick-up their mates and their responses to being picked up.

I.E., the security guard at the bank made me feel awkward which was reflected in my nervous smile, knotted stomach and blushing cheeks.  I wasn’t prepared to be hit on at the bank. The man who stopped his car and commanded I walk slowly in front of him pissed me off.  I walked away rolling my eyes with my middle finger in the air.  And my boyfriend who told me I become more beautiful every time he looks at me caused me to smile shyly even though we had been dating over a year.

So now I want to know, how would you’re MC pick-up someone?  Would he/she use a sleezy line? Do they use over-confidence to hide their insecurity? Or are they a romantic at heart?

My MC would probably subtly stalk a girl for a few days, before deciding whether he truly interested or not. But when he did finally get the courage to speak to her, he would start with a question or comment on what she’s doing.  He is a romantic, but he’s also deeply guarded realist.  So he won’t try to be something he’s not.

So now that I’ve broken my now writing until after I get my certification, I’m off to dust off my pencil.  My MS is calling me from its minimized space on the screen. 🙂

 

 

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While surfing the twitter community this last week I came across and interesting conversation regarding writer’s block.  Now writers block is an interesting syndrome and affects people in different ways.

1. The Denier: This person tells everybody and anything that will listen that he/she doesn’t suffer from this at all and doesn’t understand why other writers do. Usually they follow this statement up with something along the lines of “And if I get stuck on one WIP I just work on another.” Shhh, please don’t tell them.  It will only bring down the basis of their whole world.

2. The Freak Outer: This person freaks out every time a batch of writer’s block hits and tells everyone from their mother, their brother, to their agent and publisher they will never be able to write again.  The last of their ideas has been used and their imagination is dried up.  Then, a few days later, they aggressively pitch a new idea for a story to everyone they had previously told about their early retirement, after seeing a woman with a baby riding uni-cycle, and the cycle begins again.

3. The Determind-er (Yeah I made a new word): This person is so determined to push their writer’s block, they will continue to type, no matter if the words make sense or not.  Then, days later when the block is finally over, they sit down and realize they have to delete everything they wrote during the past few days.  Of course, no Determind-er’s job would be complete if he/she didn’t recommend this method to everyone they know and swearing it’s the only way to get through it.

4. The Cheater: This is the person who recognizes their block for what it is, shrugs their shoulders and wait for their muse to return as they focus on other projects.  Like that scrapbook that was never finished, or the neglected laundry pile that’s now seventeen feet tall.  Or, if this writer is feeling particularly naughty, they will focus on another writing project until the block is over.

So which one are you? Personally I’m the Cheater. I once had writer’s block so bad I even challenged myself to write an unconventional story about it, using only onomatopoeia, maybe I’ll share it with you…on another day.  And here’s something just for fun. In case you missed it this last week.

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