Blogging from A to Z ~The Letter G

Saturday April 7, 2018 ~ The Letter G  

 

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

 

The Letter G

Grammar

I know, we’ve all heard it before – grammar matters.  Even if we’re intentionally breaking a few syntax rules, we’re supposed to know which ones we’re ignoring and why we’re doing it.  That’s what they say.

Except for the fact that real people, and therefore our characters, don’t speak perfect English.  Have you ever read a book and every conversation sounded stilted?  No contractions, and perfect linguistics but not an ounce of actual believable conversation?  Sometimes grammar checking apps or sites will do that to you.  Occasionally, you may find that an editor’s red pen improves the language, but ruins the intended voice.

Which is why it’s important to know your grammar, and why you broke the rules. Because then you can clarify with whoever “fixed” that critical paragraph and get them to put it back.  Only when it’s truly crucial, please.

 

Genre

Genre matters, too, if you’re writing commercial fiction.  The publisher needs to know how to sell you book and what format will sell the best. The bookseller must recognize where to shelve your book.  And the marketer (you!) want to market your novel most effectively.  So, genre matters.

Just now, the top selling Genres on Amazon are Science Fiction, Romance, and Fantasy.  Please please don’t change what your’e writing to match what you think is going to move. Write what you’re passionate about! Those with experience tell us not to follow the trends, because, well, they change. And they change faster than it takes the average author to finish a novel.

So, if you’re writing commercial fiction, know your genres.  Use that knowledge in your elevator pitch. If they ask what you’re writing, you can mention the genres you like to write. And, yes, ever writer should have a 30 second description of what they’re writing and why it is great.   Don’t worry, the more you do it, the easier it gets. After all, you’re creating something incredible enough that you hope other people will pay money for it. Be confident! And  know your Genre.

Gratitude

I mentioned the other day that I have a tricked out desk with nice music and a beverage of my choice and a laptop with a fruit on the cover.  How lucky I am to be able to close the door to my space and write when I must. How  fortunate I can jump in my car and head for a different environment to encourage my muse.  How charmed is my life that I can think about traveling to retreats or conferences, that I can sign up for seminars and classes, that I can purchase helpful apps and chocolate.  How very cool that I have time (never enough, but more than so many other people) to follow my passion and string together words for others to read.

I begin and end each day reflecting on my good fortune.  I get to pursue something I love. I have the resources to do so comfortably.  Sometimes people read the words I throw out there.  I am grateful.

 

Monday, the letter H  …

 

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Blogging from A to Z ~The Letter F

Friday April 6, 2018 ~ The Letter E  

 

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

 

The Letter F

 

Fiction

I enjoyed success in the world  of nonfiction. I get a kick out of researching and then taking all that information and organizing it into something informs, or supports an argument, or entertains, or teaches. Nonfiction is organized  and linear and and begins with a definite purpose.  I’ll always have a soft spot for nonfiction, I guess it goes hand in hand with my passion for helping others learn. Nonfiction is fun.

Fiction is fuzzy. The  purpose of fiction?  Well, I’d say it’s to get those stories bouncing around in my skull out into the fresh air. To find the words that will create a reasonable facsimile of that story in, hopefully, the heads of a bunch of readers. And to make that story compelling enough to entertain those readers, who I’ve never met. And to get them to like my words enough to actually spend money to get more of them.

Who wouldn’t find that at least a little intimdating?

Fiction is fuzzy, and that makes it a challenge.  Gauntlet thrown – I like challenges.

And fiction is fun, too.

 

Feedback

Guess what?  Sometimes the words I lay down don’t convey to others what I imagine in my head. Occasionally I get my story bogged down with too much description. Or I assume that anyone reading my work will of course get a possibly obscure reference. Now and then, my story doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Or  the middle lags. Or my characters annoy rather than engage.

And here’s the thing – I am absolutely oblivious to those shortcomings.  Because I have the advantage of knowing what’s in my head. Those poor  readers don’t stand a chance.

Feedback from someone who isn’t privy to the stuff whirling around inside my brain is priceless. I seek guidance from those who know the craft, put on my thicker skin, and follow their advice. My work is better for it. From this I take away two things. First, better to share the final product with mom, because she may not be able to see the flaws. And, if the feedback doesn’t offer something constructive, it may not be all that helpful. I don’t need to invite bashers to my critique party – they’ll just wreak havoc with my self confidence.

Feedback makes me a better writer, and I bet it will help you, too

 

Finish

A novel is a really huge bunch of words!  A typical fantasy or romance has 60,000 to 80,000 words! My upmarket humorous women’s novel will likely finish at about 100,000 words.  That’s something like 200 of these blog posts!

But I need to finish things to feel productive.  So I give myself smaller goals – maybe a daily word count, or a chapter to finish. Then I have a box to check at the end of the day. Or I write a poem or a short story. Holding a finished piece of work in my hands give me a feeling of accomplishment.  Small bites, that’s what keeps me going. I hope it works for you too.

Tomorrow, the letter G  …

 

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Blogging from A to Z ~The Letter E

Thursday April 5, 2018 ~ The Letter E  

 

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

 

The Letter E

Explore

Before I decided to migrate from hobbyist to professional writer, I researched. The publishing industry has undergone big changes since my nonfiction days. Lately the publishing industry seems to reshape every month.  I wanted to be certain I knew the reality of life as a professional writer.

I spent a couple of months digging in to the industry of novels.  I googled about what people were reading, and on what media. I investigated what kinds of books were being published, and by whom. I explored e-pub and the Big Five and small press and genres and audio publishing and Amazon and trade vs. traditional paperback. Statistics about the odds of getting the novel  published? Yes, I delved into those discouraging numbers. I studied the purpose and value of agents and editors and how to pitch properly (read the guidelines!).  I looked into tools for authors and resources for writers.  Big surprise – there are tens of thousands of resources out there, each claiming to be the best, of course.

Despite all I discovered, I still wanted to follow this passion. You’d have to be driven or moderately around-the-bend to make that decision.  I’m going to consider myself driven.

 

Equip

Anyone will tell you all you really need is a keyboard or a pen and paper (or a typewriter!)to write a novel. And there are probably at least a couple of successful authors who can honestly claim that’s all they used.

Me, I’m not so austere. I’ve got my laptop and my phone and notebook. I’ve also got a workspace that helps me feel creative, complete with a spot for my cup of tea and my aroma diffuser and the right music queued up. I’ve got an app for writing, one for time-lining, and another for character studies. I’m not averse to changing my location to follow my wandering muse. Websites for inspiration and reference fill my favorites. I’ve got grammar checkers and craft books and instruction videos and motivation podcasts.

I hardly use most of that stuff.

So maybe they’re right. After all , Stephen King wrote some of his best work in his laundry room.

 

Events

I’m fortunate to live in an area with a vibrant writing community.  Each year I can, without leaving my home state, attend two conferences for fiction writers, one for fantasy writers, and one focused on the business of writing.  I can support my local peers when I attend book launches and signings in my hometown. Groups centered around craft, critique, or just plain commiseration meet regularly.

I’m mostly an introvert. Still, getting myself out of the chair now and then and spending time with others who get this journey helps keep me sane.

And connected.

And motivated.

 

Tomorrow, the letter F …

 

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Blogging from A to Z ~The Letter D

Wednesday April 4, 2018 ~

The Letter D  

 

This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.

I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon.  And yes, I’m working on a novel.

 

Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s also Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day. I’m giving Blogging from A to Z precedence, so today’s post doesn’t really examine April Showers or explore May Flowers. Still, go take a look at IWSG And while you’re there, congratulate Shannon Lawrence, on the launch of Blue Sludge Blues and her new position as Newsletter Editor at IWSG. You can find Shannon here.

 

The Letter D

 

Dictionary

Creative use of grammar and spelling and vocabulary can be fun.  Remember though, editors and (most likely) your readers can tell.  They can tell the difference between intentional creative wordplay and just  poor wordcraft. Maybe that’ll make a difference in getting published or selling the next book.  Possibly it’ll just annoy your readers.  Use a spellchecker, verify the meaning of words if you’re not certain, and see that your subjects and predicates match properly.

 

Doubt

Yes, yes you can do this!  Doubt chips away at self-conficence and will erode all your plans.  Put doubt away, don’t let it ruin your process. Afraid you don’t have the chops for this writing thing?  Take a look at some of the offerings on free e-pub sites, or read some fan fiction. Both are great places to take a peek at all different writing skill levels. And I can just about guarantee you’ll find at least one piece that will boost your ego.

 

Daily

We’ve all got busy lives, full plates, varied commitments. Remember that 8:00 am class back in your school days? The one you only made it to half the time because, well, 8:00 am. Plus it wasn’t really required for your major. Remember barely phoning it in until two days before the final when you tried to fill your brain with enough to get through the final?  Did you get your own best possible results?  Small bites daily will build your story efficiently. And with less mental anguish than an interminable session that leaves you with blurred vision and a word-count hangover.  Exception: NaNoWriMo, if that’s your thing.

 

Discipline

If you’re serious about this, then you should treat it as such.  Make a regular commitment – even if it isn’t every single day.  Put it on your calendar, set a reminder if you need to. Not only will you get more words down, but your mind will get in the habit of being creative on a regular basis.  Yup, the more regularly you write, the less writer’s block you’ll suffer.  Most of the time.

Tomorrow, the letter E …

 

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