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Posts tagged ‘strengthening manuscripts’

Work-out Writer: Start off wild, uninhibited, and then exert that CONTROL . . . .

 

Control . . .

Control . . .

Wild

Wild  & Free . . .

Workout WriterYou have to find the Way that works for you. But if you are at a weight or goal plateau/finding yourself obsessing over the same danged ole paragraph or two or three over and over again. Wondering, “Will I EVER fit into those jeans I love, run that marathon, lower my cholesterol, feel healthier/write this goddamm book?” Then perhaps you can consider  finding your wild and free, flailing and flinging  yourself on the treadmill/your words on the page; and then, when you are sweaty and all fired up/have your crappy ass first draft, you exert that CONTROL.

Work-out:

When someone asks me what I do to keep in shape, I will simply say, “I do treadmill aerobics dance for an hour, and then I do about thirty minutes of mat work.” That’s my process, I say.

But there’s so much more to that “process.”

Children play with abandon, but they often have their own "rules" and process - there's PURPOSE to their play - be like that.

Children play with abandon, but they often have their own “rules” and process – there’s PURPOSE to their play – be like that.

On the treadmill, I  jump, skip, hop, kick out my legs, run full out for nuttin, and in between those high-energy aerobics moves,I tone it down a bit to let my heart rate lower. What I’m doing is uninhibited and free—I don’t over-think it; I do what feels good, what feels happy, whatever comes to mind without a plan. Does this mean I am “out of control” on the treadmill? Not exactly, for I do have to maintain some control or else I could injure myself–I have to Pay Attention. However, for the most part, I’m all over that thang, sweating my ass off. I am at the edge of my endurance, and the endorphins are KAPOW WHUPOW! A little chaos is good; a little wild jittery is wonderful.

This is a good example of what I do on the treadmill, except I do not turn around backwards because I don’t feel that’s safe.

My goal is to stretch that leg even more - but with CONTROL!

My goal is to stretch that leg back even more – but with CONTROL! I had no flexility even a year ago.

DSC_0033When I am ready for my mat work, I’m nice and warmed up. This is when I exert the most CONTROL in my workout. I use dumbbells or my body weight or a ball or some other “device” to challenge my body to the very edge of its endurance, but with CONTROL. The stronger my body becomes, the more control I have over it–repeat that to yourself.

An example would be: Lying on mat, holding ten pound dumbbells in my hands, I do chest presses while also keeping my legs lifted from the mat (as the photo above shows, except with or without ball, and using the dumbbells)—as I do my chest presses with my legs lifted, I’m working many muscles at once, and I am very careful with my CONTROL. Without control comes chaos—injury! And during my mat work, I do not want chaos—injury—or flailing about.

As my body grows stronger, as I challenge it to do more and more, and different, workouts, I can see the progress of my hard work. Things I didn’t think I could ever do before suddenly have become “easier.” My flexibility is better—this coming from a girl who had practically no flexibility.

No one is looking at your workoug and if they are? So what? Stay in your own zone--ignore everything around you but your body and what it is doing. No one sees your manuscript--only you! Stay in your zone and have fun

No one is looking – and if they are? So what? Stay in your own zone–ignore everything around you but your body and what it is doing-have fun! No one sees your manuscript until you want them to, so stay in your zone, and have fun!

That wild abandon paired with the CONTROL of my mat work creates the health and body I want to have—strong, flexible, heart and lungs healthy, higher endurance, etc. I feel confident, and proud of my accomplishments. And I want to do more, more, more, because it feels so danged good.

Writer:

When people ask me, “What is your writing process?” I always say, “I dunno. I just sit my ass down and write.” But of course  there is more to my process than that.

The first draft of my work is written with abandon, wild and free, without over-thinking it; whatever comes out of my pea-headed black holed brain is fine with me; let it come on! It’s fun, my endorphins are high, I’m feeling GREAT! Does it mean I have zero control? Nope, for the more I write, the better I naturally do the kinds of writing that will mean less work later on. Meaning, I have a grasp of grammar and punctuation “rules” even if I break them; my work comes out, even in draft, with paragraphs and dialogue and narrative and in chapters, automatically. My very first novel was almost all narrative-aw lawd! It was  a HOT MESS! Well, so what? Look at what’s happened since then: four published novels, a novella, and one set to be released in September. GO FOR IT, y’all!

Then comes the “mat work” of my manuscript. Where I exert the most control. Tweaking, editing, rewriting. I look for repetition, for too much internal dialogue/monologue, for ‘tic words,” for things that seem out of character or voice or POV. I read my manuscript a gazillion times and in different formats, such as, Kindle Fire, regular Kindle, my computer, printed out, let my Kindle Fire read it to me.  I am concentrating on the work with CONTROL. I know the rules so I can either break them, or tweak something to make it better.

Once I allowed myself to know my process and to OWN IT, I’m betting that each novel I write will become “leaner” and stronger, because I am exerting that control better as I become a stronger more flexible writer, willing to take some chances or try something different.

This wild abandon paired with the CONTROL of my re-writes/edits creates the kind of novel I can be proud of, one with which I am confident. And I want to do more, more, more, because it feels so danged good.

(Consult your doctor and your good sense before you begin this, or any other high energy workout–in fact, consult your doc before you begin any exercise program. I always say this–bears repeating. And don’t compare yourself to others, not to me, or anyone else, you hear?)

Just Do It

Just Do It

Just do it

Just do it

Work-out Writer: When it’s like sex

breath -- breeeaath -- breeaaatth -- BREATH

breath — breeeaath — breeaaatth — BREATH

Workout: You anticipate the workout, what it will feel like, how good it will be. Your brain flirts with the idea of what you’ll soon experience. You dress in what you know will entice you to the gym, put you in the mood. You hop on the treadmill, and begin slow, slow, slow, warming up, your body begins to Pay Attention, something exciting is about  to happen. The music pulses in your ear, the beat just quick enough to cause your synapses to fire off, your blood to move, your heart to quicken. Arch your back, feel your spine tingle, mouth slightly open so breaths can essss-scaaape.

As the music pulse upbeats, so do you, a little faster, a little more intent, your breath begins to pant, your body oh so aware—you oh so aware of your body and what it can do and how it is feeling–hyper aware, hyper-aware, oh hyper-aware, and the world begins to go away as you only feel the sensations, hair flying, body flying, pulse of the music rises, heart-rate thuds against your chest, shoes pounding, pounding, pounding, your body moving sweat-sweat-sweat SWEAT-SWEAT, moving moving moving, faster faster faster, breath breath breath BREATH BREATH BREATH, HEARTBEATHEARTBEATHEARTBEAT DSC00089PULSEPULSEPULSETHROBPULSE—KAPOWIE! OMG! PANT-PANT-PANT– That is the BEST feeling EVER—OMG OMG OMG!

You and the music pulse pull back, heart rate and breath slows slows slows slow. You wipe the sweat from your face. The world comes back to you once again. You step off. You can’t wait to do it again.

Writer: I told GMR that it seemed my newest book The Lightning Charmer felt like one big sex act. At first I thought it was because I allowed myself to have a little fun with 007writing sex scenes–and in varying “situations” of the words– in that book—more than one, more than two, more than three, more . . . anyway . . . .   But as I read over my drafts, I realized it is also about the pace of the book. Much like the workout above, there is the teasing, the flirtation, the slow build up, until the pulse quickens, faster faster faster—omg omg pant-pant-pant—and then slow slow slow, ahhhh. While I am feeling this, my hope is my readers will, too. I don’t do outlines, for my works comes, so to speak (teehee), more organically. But whereas the Graces books sort of meandered along in their family saga way, TLC mimics a more plotty kind of thing, a pulsing breathing book, that is, at least to me, sexy and throbby with longing and breath and building up to something wild, and then the release . . . release . . . release . . . .

And writers,while I’m thinking of sex: are your sex scenes organic, natural? Do they make you want to go have sex right then and there? Or do you maybe giggle a little or roll your eyes? Is your character maybe just a little out of control, on that exquisite edge–oh yes, oh yes, OH YES! . . . ?

I'm coming for your tunnel, chooooo chooooooo

I’m coming for your tunnel, chooooo chooooooo

Or is your sex scene something like this: His locomotive of love pile-drived her quivering dark tunnel of expectation? Okay, I burst out laughing when I wrote that. Haw! You do not want to laugh at your sex scenes (unless you mean for them to be funny). You do not want to roll your eyes. You want your sex scenes to capture your own sexuality, where you Want It Right Then And There, just as your character does. And your hope is, as mine is, that your readers will feel the same way. HA! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that when your reader read your sex scene, they had to put down the book and—well, anyway, that would be the only reason I’d want someone to want to put down my book. Teehee.

Work-out Music of the day: I love my sex by Benny Benassi

Work-out Writer: After the big cussin’ hissy fit, we may see a truth we tried to deny

He was an ass . . . but . . . . was I, too?

Jerkface, sumbitch! Huhn!

Workout: Saturday while on the treadmill doing a new, and particularly high energy part of my workout, some jerkface came over, waved his hand in my face, and then bitched me out for stomping on the treadmill. I couldn’t even respond—I was so furious, a sailor would blush at what caught in my throat and I had to swallow down.  All the rest of the weekend, I was pissed off, and within that anger came a little depression and anxiety: what would I do? That newer part of the aerobic workout kicked my ass but good and was something different, made me sweat, helped control my stress and take down my jitteriness a notch. I kept seeing his face; kept seeing his hand waving in my face; kept seeing me punching his face until it was a bloody-ass pulp (um, yeah, not proud of that thought, lawd!)

I didn’t even look forward to my next workout, for I thought, “It’s all ruined. My joy is ruined. My workout is ruined. Woe is me.”

*woe is wittle me*

*woe is wittle me*

Meanwhile, I’d conveniently forgotten how many people said I inspire them, how they enjoy my joy. I’d forgotten that the addition of this stomping was fairly new, and in a quiet little dark corner of myself, I knew I shouldn’t have been doing it—it just felt so good I ignored everything and everyone else. I was being stubborn. I wanted want I wanted. I didn’t want to give it up cause it was just so cool.

omg - I was being an asshole, too!

omg – I was being an asshole, too!

But, when I allowed my rage to subside. When I stopped thinking, “That sonuvabitch jackass mo-fo, rude asshole!” I heard what he said, not how he said it. And folks, yeah, I sure was being disrespectful to others and the equipment at that particular addition of my high-energy workout. Admitting that made me pull up my big girl panties and acknowledge I was being an asshole, too. I don’t excuse his delivery system, for he had no call for the way he treated me, but hidden in his Big Ass Stupid Face Assholedom was some truth.

This morning, as I stepped on the treadmill, someone said something so positive, reminding me that I wasn’t a bad person, I hadn’t always been so out of control, and I felt my joy slipping back in. Instead of stomping like an over-crazed idiot, I found something else to do that kicked my ass even better and more efficiently, and without worrying about hurting myself, and just as wonderful, I was still respectful of the machines and others.

WHUPOW!

Writer: Sometimes when we’re given critique/edit suggestions from our editors or beta reader, or whomever, that we don’t like, we may be tempted to say “Oh, they just don’t get it; they don’t understand what I’m trying to do; they SUCK! I ain’t listening. If I change this, it ruins everything! If I take that out/put that in/alter that, then what?  Waaaaaaah! Sumbitches!”  We push any rational thought aside, cuss, holler to the four winds of the universe how unfair they are, and how they just don’t get us and our work. Want to smack them three sides to Tuesday. We may want to give up, give in, be depressed and defeated. Put aside the work and walk away.

Well, shit . . . huh. I guess I see what you're saying . . ..

Well, shit . . . huh. I guess I see what you’re saying . . ..

However, if we still our minds and think of the bigger message, even if it’s embedded in a delivery we don’t appreciate, we may just find some truth in that critique/edit. We can pull on our big girl panties, or big boy undies, and acknowledge how we are being intractable, childish. We can pull back and look at their suggestions/comments, see if really they do have something to add to our manuscript, after all. Then, we find a way to work the manuscript into something that still gives us joy, makes us excited, and works ever so much better to make the work kick-ass.

images (1)

I actually do have a can of this!

WHUPOW! Open up a can of whoopass and get going!

Work-out writer: A leaner you; a leaner manuscript

from SHAPE magazine site

from SHAPE magazine site

Work-out: Want an efficient work out? Try interval training. The easy answer to “what is interval training” is, for example, say you usually walk on the treadmill at a steady pace — even if it’s a fast pace — for thirty minutes to an hour. Try adding in short bursts of speed or intensity. You want to raise your heart rate; to go fast/hard enough that you think, “Omg! I can’t go much farther!” then you slow it back down and catch your breath. Do this several times during your workout–get that heart rate going and then slowing it down, up and down, up and down, until you are sweating and feeling kick-ass, and as if your ass was kicked! It’s efficient and effective. Though I do high-energy intervals for an hour, actually you do not have to go that long. It’s all about making it efficient — I’m just insane *laugh*

For a better, more comprehensive explanation, here’s an article in Shape Magazine: Interval Training: Short Workouts That Really Pay Off 

(As I always tell you: please see your doctor before beginning an exercise, or new exercise, routine.)

logoWriter: Want a more efficient manuscript? If we want our manuscripts to be “lean” and tight, sometimes we have to delete. Find those areas that are flabby and develop their muscles. Our manuscripts can become bloated after writing up those first drafts. We’re developing characters, setting, scene, etc. We’re trying to find our way, and the character’s way. One of the “easier” ways to develop a leaner manuscript is to find and delete  “internal monologue” or internal thoughts the character has. I finally figured out that the only “purpose” or reason for these internal monologues in our drafts is to figure out something at the same time the character is – sort of like when we yap to a friend about a problem because we are trying to sound it out, hear it out, figure it out. Most of this can GO. Delete. Get rid of it. Instead of writing along at this steady pace, punch it up! Instead of a long paragraph, or *gasp* page(s), of internal monologue, use action, or dialogue, or cut it down to a sentence or two. Do this throughout the manuscript and you’ve deleted thousands of bloaty words that weighed down your manuscript.

For a better, more comprehensive, explanation of internal monologue, see: The Do’s and Don’ts of Internal Monologue by K.M. Weiland

Don't be afraid to stretch yourself a little in life.

Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself a little in life.

A fit you; a fit manuscript.

Layer the paint. Snap the images. Taste taste taste. Work your asses off.

It only seems I was relaxing one earlier summer – but the work is always there . . . I am most always working- see the unfinished manuscript? That was done and then another began . . . on it goes

I am an impatient person. Now that I have that out of the way, I will also tell you that despite that fact, I understand that I must often corral this impatience, especially when it comes to Goals and Dreams and Desires.

All y’allses, I would lay bet that most all of the time when you hear of “Over-night Successes” those successes were fashioned from much hard work. Take the musical group The Black Keys for example. They slogged along ten years before bursting out of the gate. It would seem they obtained their “fame” in a blazing flash of light, when instead, if you’ll excuse the cliche, they’d been burning that candle at both ends.

A photographer may take hundreds and hundreds of shots just to find that one perfect “money” shot. The photographer, unless very lucky at that moment, doesn’t sit and wait for the perfect shot and then *click* – there you go, la tee dah. No, the photographer hunts and looks and snaps and snaps and snaps that shutter countless times, over and over and over, and then within all those moments the photograph finds The One Great Moment that snatches up his/her breath and the world stops spinning until the breath is released. There. There. That’s it.

A painting may have layers upon layers of paint, as the artist searches for the image he/she has dreamed, desired, lost sleep/weight/friends and family over. The one that finally has the artist putting down the brush. And even then, the artist may eye the

I took shot after shot after shot of the Blue Moon and still couldn’t get what was in “my inner eye*

painting with imagination and doubt. But rarely will the artist slap some paint on the canvas and call it a day.

I used to think if I were a good cook, it would mean that my instincts would be so keen that I should be able to throw things in the pot and magically they would taste good. It wasn’t until years later I learned how the greatest of chefs actually TASTE their food – taste the ingredients, taste along the way, taste at completion. KABOING! Why, who knew? One must taste the elements, taste along the way, and then taste the finished product to make sure it turns out how it should be: Tasty.

Read the above and insert words to make it about writing. Yup, in my early writing life, I used to think that if I were a Great Writer, or even a Good One, whatever I slapped onto the page must be genius right then and there. That re-writes meant I was not a Good Writer. Rewrites and revisions meant I lacked. Oh dear lawd in the highest of clouds! How wrong wrong wrong that was, and is, and forevermore shall be! Rewrites and revisions are the heart of writing. I can’t tell you how many times I go through my novels, time after time, layering that paint, snapping image after image, tasting tasting tasting TASTING, until I have it as Right as I can right it.

Giving up? No. Not an option. However, there is the: maybe I need to try a different path; one that doesn’t take me to a *see sign*

Take all that above and insert words to make this about many goals: weight loss and/or becoming fit, that big promotion at work, the Dream you’ve been Dreaming. Sure, there are always exceptions to some of these, and some people find Luck propels them just where they wanted to be with the snap of a finger (though I’d wonder still how many years they’d spent working towards their goal before Luck slapped them upside their heads). But, y’allses, nothing comes without the hard work – or maybe I should say:

Nothing STAYS without the hard work

Enter the magical gate, walk the magical path – then work your ass off.

Layer the paint. Snap the images. Taste taste taste. Achieve.

Wednesday Classroom: Do your research to gain trust with your reader, yawwwwl

Morning Y’allses! Guess where I am while you are reading this? In Oregon! Lawdy but I’m far away from my little log house. GMR and the dawgs and the ghost dawg have the house and cove all to themselves and I bet they miss my pea-headed s’ef.  So, for this post, I’m a’trying to post ahead of time. Just think, as I’m typing this I’m in the little log house, but as you read it, I’m in Oregon. Wheeee ain’t technology grand?

Folkses, as you all may be able to tell from reading my posts on writing, I can be strict about some thangs. I try to have things Right. I want to convince my audience, and you should, too!

With fiction, bring in truths to ground the reader—and whatever those truths are will be  up to the writer to convey them. The amount of danged old research we do will have much to do with the place/time we create. My worlds have been and are in South Louisiana, West Virginia, and here in these western North Carolina mountains. My time has been from the 50’s to the present. My research will deal with that time and place.

If I’m writing about a real town, I need to be accurate about that town to honor its people and sense of Place–I wouldn’t have New Orleans as the capital of Louisiana–lawd!–because it is Baton Rouge; I wouldn’t have Maggie Valley with a McDonald’s because we do not have fast food joints in Maggie (except for one lonely Subway, and who knows how it managed to find its way here). If I’m writing about a fictional town based on a real town, I have a little more flexibility, but I still need to be mindful. Most of my books do not mention specific towns, but my readers can often guess where I am talking about, or place my characters in a specific area that they can relate to.

If you’ses have yourse’f a world that’s all made up, like “Madeupland,” you still must ground the reader in some reality, yawwwl, right? riigghhht! So there will be some research even if it’s minor. Mainly, if you have a “Madeupland” you best be consistent–I tell you what!

All you’ses wunnerfuls out there have seen me write this before: Convince your audience and you’ve done your job, no matter how, what, where, when, who you write. Throw all the danged ole rules out the window for all I care—just convince me, or you lose me as your reader.

Sometimes you may think you have something correct, but you do not! oopsies! It doesn’t hurt to double-check those things you “remember” or “think you know.” I had Tang in a Tender Graces scene–later, it began to bug me, when was Tang invented? I looked it up and Lawd!, it wasn’t released to the general public until sometime after my scene–the astronauts had it first.

Whenever I mentioned a movie or a television show or a football game, I made sure I had it Right. Folkses, you don’t EVEN want to go messing with South Louisiana and have their LSU Tigers game days, or anything else, wrong–lawd! I can’t have my South Louisiana town’s team playing  Old Miss in September when they didn’t play until later in the season, or have them playing in town when it was an out of town game. I can’t have the movie Rocky coming out in March of 1976 (in Secret Graces), because it didn’t release until December 1976. Look It Up and double check–our memories are wankity.

You can play around with research to enhance your books. Was there a significant weather event that would change something with my characters or their Place? Or make something fun/interesting? (Like the South Louisiana Hurricane mention in TG when Mee Maw comes to visit—category five Grandmother.) Or, if in the holler in West Virginia there was a bad snow storm, Katie Ivene wouldn’t be flying to town in her Rambler with the windows open yelling “wheeee!” I found sites that show historical weather. I love those little details even if only I know that on April 13, 1976, it really was 82 degrees and foggy in a town in South Louisiana (I use weather more as a mood or as Place or whatever, not that I go around quoting weather).

Little details help the reader to “Be There” with the character, to ground them in a place or time or mood, maybe even to have them say, “I know that place/event/area!” “Hey, I remember that!”

Don’t rely on only one source. I do the best I can to make sure I have everything as accurate as possible—because you are worth my time and care, you being the reader. Often, I double and triple check my sources.

Will someone find an error if they go through my books with a fine-toothed eye? I don’t know, but it won’t be for lack of me working hard and doing my job best I can. I don’t respect lazy writing and I know it when I read it.

When and how you do your research is up to you. Do what works.

Don’t cheat. Don’t be lazy. It’s worth it to build trust with your readers. Do you want your reader to stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute! This ain’t right . . .” and bump them from your world, your story? Naw! And more important to me: I want my reader to trust me and to forget about me and only focus on the narrator and the story.

Do you make sure you have things Right and build trust? Does your work require extensive research, or just a bit?

See all y’allses wunnerfuls later!

Don’t forget: I changed my blog posting schedule for my Classroom series & I am your Personal Trainer series, etc, to the first and third Wednesdays of the month, with Friday open to photos/art/video: no words. So there will only be posts twice a month, and on most Fridays, photos/video/art with no words.

Monday Classroom: See-Saw/Watch(ed)/Look(ed) – cleaning up our manuscripts, y’all (and no whining allowed!)

Morning all y’allses out there, wherever you are. I first want to say how much I appreciate you. Many of you come by here for every post, and there are those of you who leave comments regularly. Thank you.

I have not been able to return the favor as I used to, but I am subscribed to many of your blogs if you have that capability, and I do read your posts in my email. I know many of you are in the same ole boat–so much to do, so many blogs, so much social networking–Lawd!

I am behind on writing The Lightning Charmer because I whined too much instead of trusting my process.  “I caaaaaan’t write this boooooook. Cause it suuuuuuucccckkkks and I suuuucccck!” I have a deadline; I have already received my advance; I have people depending on me, readers waiting. There should be No Whining Allowed! But whine I did. I felt stuck.

After four published novels and a novella, you’d think I’d Have This. But we can always create some angst, can’t we? Lawdy be in a bucket – yes. Folks, sometimes just switching a scene around (making something happen earlier–as I did to TLC) or turning the manuscript on its head in some other way does the trick–Hey! Why, there it is! There’s the thang I was looking for hiding in plain ole sight–haw! And then the “flutter” of excitement begins in my/our belly and off I/we go! Give that sucker (your manuscript) a shake and see what falls out. Do whatever it takes to make it seem fresh  and alive. No Whining Allowed! (Okay, you can give yourself “whine time” as long as you do not give in to it for longer than two shakes of a hippo’s tail.)

Sometimes it is appropriate for a character to see-saw/watch(ed)/look(ed). But oft-times we write the character seeing looking watching when the direct action would work better. Right? Riiighhht!

For example, let’s say there’s a scene in Tender Graces where Virginia Kate and Micah are on the porch in the Looseeaner house after she’s left West Virginia.

Oh look! A rock. I am looking at the rock. You are looking at the rock. GMR is watching me look at the rock. I saw the rock. I see the rock and saw it and looked at it

Scene:

I looked over at Micah as we rocked on the porch. I saw him grin at me. I watched him run down the steps, pick up a pretty rock, and bring it back to me. He looked at me looking at the rock. I saw him look at me. We looked at each other and smiled. I watched him sit down. He looked at me as I rocked. I watched as he rocked. Then we looked at the sky because we were danged ole sick of looking at each other, sheesh.

Okay, folkses, I know that’s a little extreme, *teehee,* but you get the idea. Obviously sometimes we use looked/watched/saw, etc, because it fits the scene. Sometimes Virginia Kate uses the “I’m a looking fool” because that’s what she does–her thang; in those cases, I actually use it as a device, On Purpose, and I know it is On Purpose and the audience knows it is On Purpose–if they do not, then I ain’t done my job. This is what I mean about breaking rules or manipulating the language—if you are aware of what you are doing, if you are doing it On Purpose, it is fun to play with the language and it can be quite effective/affective.

If the sneakity sneaker thangs make their way into the work, then being aware of those sneakies will help tighten the manuscript.

Don’t stress yourself striving for perfection, especially in the first draft or two. I like to slam that story down first. However, the more you know instinctively, the less mess you have to clean up, right? RIIIIGHHHT!

Simplistically:
I saw the ball hit the wall. – The ball hit the wall.

I watched Marie jump rope. – Marie jumped rope.

I looked at Jennifer eating her pie. – Jennifer ate her pie. I want pie–this has nothing to do with this post, I just want pie now.

The audience will know the narrator is doing the watching/looking without us bomping them upside the head with it.

Playing with language and words is the most wonderful danged old thang in the world. If you tend to “over-do” or “over-use” certain words or phrases, etc, find ways to recast your sentences/phrases to create a tighter work. A swollen manuscript will become, well, not swolled up.

So, pull up your manuscript in your editing phases and do a search/find and see how many “look/see-saw/watch” you have hiding in there. You may be surprised.

Now–go Do This Day with Gratitude. And write.

Monday Classroom: Why you’ses dumping information all up and down and all-over creation? Ain’t necessary.

Oh woe is us’ses but sometimes we feel the need to stuff down too much information at once, instead of gradually feeding information to our readers, or hinting, or giving them just enough so that they come to their own conclusions. We think, and I have done this, we have to tell the reader “certain thangs” or else they’ll be lost or won’t read our story because we haven’t given them “reason to—” but instead, when we dump too much on our readers, we may drive them away (meaning: put down our book – NOOOO lawdy NOOO! Woeful sobbing Noooooo’s!)

Some writers want the reader to know some “backstory” or other information that may or may not be crucial to the storyline and they shove it down the readers’ throats all at once. Ease back. It’ll all work out. Trust the process. Trust your readers. Trust yourself. Let your reader figure things out, feed them a spoonful so that they want more, and then give them just a little more.

Some writers want the reader to know how the character looks, because they know just how that character is “supposed to” look instead of letting the reader form their own images.

And please y’allses, don’t describe your character in a mirror. That’s another form of dumpity dumping information.

Can you see me? You can see enough of me.

Now, does that mean you can never ever ever never ever have your character look into a mirror and “see” her/himself? Whyses No’ses. Shoot, I have a mirror scene (or two), as in: Young Virginia Kate runs to her bedroom to fetch her camera, sees herself in the mirror, and notices her hair is messy, she has a spot of ketchup on her blouse and it reminds her of the snake’s blood (from the snake polo scene). So, she makes these observations and goes on. That’s something we’d all do, wouldn’t we? We’d pass a mirror and make an observation about ourselves, but would we describe ourselves to ourselves?–um, prolly not.

Remember I’ve said before: think about your scene in reality. What do people really do?

And lawdy be in a bucket, sometimes, to my horrorification, information dump is done in dialogue, and in such an

Objects in mirror are often described too much . . .

unnatural way, thusly:

After describing her heaving bosoms, cornflower blue eyes, pouty red-tinted lips, thick glorious hair, and determined chin in the mirror, arms akimbo, she stomped her little foot and cried to the bedroom decorated in tapestries and filmy scarves, because no one was standing there and the room was a good listener, “I am going back to the market on fifty-first street today, where I went last week to buy tomatoes for the famous homemade sauce my family has made for generations and I have made my twenty-three years I’ve been on this earth, and while there I saw that dark and dastardly street vendor Raoul and Raoul stole my broach just as it happened with my mother and her mother’s mother and her grandmother before her! I shall have vengeance on Raoul this very day or else my name isn’t Sabrinina Melissa Bambitto Deligato!”

 Lawd!

Some writers want the reader to “see” the place/setting/room/house just as they imagined it, so they write and write and write the description to dawg-danged-old death, such as:

She then turns on her pretty little slender heels and stalks out of the bedroom, and as she huffs to her front door . . . the

lawd, I need a nap! Wearing me out with all these words!

drapes were orange-marmalade velveteen after it has set in the sun three hours, the armchairs polka-dotted except on the fringe because the fringe is solid and hung down all-fringe-like, and in the corner to the right was a purple violet vase with forget-me-nots inside with an inch of water to cover the stems and some aspirin in there to keep the flowers fresh and the flowers were bought last Tuesday and were still perky and next week she’d put red—the color of the red crayon she had as a child and it was her favorite—roses in the vase and the petals would be soft as her peachity-creamy comely skin, and in the other corner to the left, as Sabrinina Melissa Bambitto Deligato’s corn-flower blue eyed lashes swept her flushed cheeks as she further surveyed the room and saw how her lovely yellow as a egg yolk that just was cracked from the shell five minutes ago chaise longue captured her kitty cat named Mr. Furry McFurrPants, and the lady-slipper pink carpeting that crushed most charmingly and softeningly  under her tiny little feet, and the chandelier above her golden-blonde glorious hair sparked all diamondy and sparkly, and . . .

. . . and all the while, we are supposed to imagine Sabrinina Melissa Bambitto Deligato is walking through this room staring at all of this long enough for the reader to read allllll this description—so she must be walking sloooooowww moooooootion, right? Riiggghtt. Why not just give a little detail here and there that she notices as she goes through the room—maybe a favorite item that she touches or brushes her hand against, or a couple of details about the room that a person would note as they walked through it—the reader will fill in the blanks and be happy to do so, even if they don’t even realize they are filling in the blanks and instead think you are a genius at description—Haw!

Okay, while I’m at it: I’ve never used arms akimbo (other than this example :-D), but the other night I read a book and there it was. In fact, I had to look up “arms akimbo” to know what it meant. I’ll never use arms akimbo, but I suppose if you must you must. Nope, I ain’t telling you; you’ll have to look it up just as I did. *laughing oh laughing with mouth akimbo.*

Professor Dawg says, “Woof!” – that means, write it all good and all, y’allses

So, friends, what I am talking about here and digressed into my brain going akimbo is don’t take the easy or cheating or unimaginative or lazy way out and force down the throats of your readers information—instead write it to show readers in a more natural, or gradual, way, in a way that gives the reader credit for knowing or figuring out much more than we as writers think they do/can. If you need to write it all out, that’s great, as long as you delete what isn’t needed. Consider: our readers’ imaginations and thought-processes are quite intelligent. Why, sometimes they even think up better things than we could have written . . . right? Riiighht! No, really, riiighhht!

If you dump on your readers too much description, they’ses eyes might glaze over and what might they do? OH NO! They might put down the book or “skim it.” Oh, the dreaded skimming isn’t as bad as the putting down the book, but both set my wittle heart to squeezing inward with writerly angsteses. Why, I bet some of you’ses out there have skimmed this! Oh heavy Irony abounds! Haw!

I read a novel a couple of weeks ago by a well-known, well-beloved author. So imagine my surprise when she info-dumped a whole-lotta backstory into the first chapter. There was no dialogue, no moving the story along—it was as if she

la la la la I can’t hear youuu; I’m looking inside my hat – you done lost me – la la la tee dah – Yawn, whatchoo was saying? Whatever, the inside a-my hat is more innerestin

and I were sitting in a restaurant having dinner and she was filling me in on all these details to make sure “I got it—you know, got it, the stuff that happened before the stuff that’s really happening” all before she could go on to “the meat of the story.” Well, I was bored. I didn’t want to know all that backstory—I didn’t care. Because once she began writing The Story, once she just wrote what the character was up to, I forgot all that crapa-doodle-doo-doo she’d stuck in that first chapter. It’d have been so easy to take a few things from that first chapter and insert a little bit here and there to fill me in on any details. She could-a deleted most of that entire first chapter and I’d have not cared.

How do you know it’s backstory? How do you know it’s boring? How do you know it’s crapa-doodle-doo-doo? Dang—you’ll have to use your instincts on this one, folkses. If you feel you are moved to tell your readers a bunch of this’s and thatses to “catch them up” or to “make sure they know the reason for it” or “if I don’t tell them this, they may not understand what comes later,” then maybe just maybe you are dumping information in the front part of the book—then it’ll be all top heavy and end up toppley-gangly all over creation. As well, if you are bored or restless when you read it–not a good sign.

Write write write—and then make good friends with your delete key. It’s such a lovely key. People are afraid of the delete key. They think the delete key is EEEE-VILLLLE, but it isn’t! It’s our friend.

But, y’allses know what I tell you. What I preach and preach—what is most important to remember: If you convince your audience, make them believe, make them happy to be where you lead them, engage them in your character’s world, you have done your job–Period. And be-doodle-be-damned any “advice” some writer, like me or anyone else, gives you, right? Riiighhht! But consider: just consider.

So, are your arms akimbo? If so, un-akimbo them and get to work! That’s what I’ma gonna do, folkses.

Monday Classroom: Y’allses, we’s gonna clean up our languageamation, right? riiighht!

Morning, all y’allses! What? You think all y’allses isn’t correct? Well, it ain’t. It ain’t even correct in many southern towns. Nope. But it’s correct in my pea-head, so there y’allses goes’ses :-D

Our manuscripts/work/language will never be perfect. Yeah, I know! It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it? That we aren’t or will never be perfect? Nor will our books/essays/short stories/letters/posts, etc. Lawd and Dang. However, we can strengthen our work by at least knowing The Rules and applying them when we “should;” and then we can also break the rules with a firm and knowledgeable hand instead of feeling flabbergastivated by them. Right? Riighhht!

Do you own a Strunk & White? No? *Gasp!* Go ye and purchase one. I’ll wait whilst you do. *Jeopardy music here* You back? All right then (and notice, all right is two words—two!) let’s begin.

As I wrote above, all right should be two words. Not alright.

Do you feel badly? Well, what’s wrong with your hands? Oh dear! Folkses, it is: I feel bad.

Most always when we write “hopefully” we mean “I hope.” Or at least we should mean I hope. I hope y’allses will use I hope instead of hopefully, which means in a hopeful manner.

I often see “that” used instead of “who—” if you are writing/speaking of a person, then it is who. She is a woman who likes strawberries right off the vine; not, she is a woman that likes strawberries right off the vine.

Commas before which’s. The dog wanted his walk, which was most inconvenient for the woman who wasn’t yet ready.

We Southern/Mountain folk often add words and such all and all that stuff and a little bit of this and that the t’other. I often use colloquialism in my work, since my settings are usually in the Appalachian/Deep South. However, I am careful I do not over-do it, and as well, I use a firm hand by Knowing the Rules so I can break them when I want to.

Off of is incorrect, and plain old “off” is correct. The woman jumped off of the couch and ran to the porch to yell, “Git off’n my land!” should be: The woman jumped off the couch and ran to the porch to yell “Git off’n my land!”

As well, instead of “Could of” we should write/say “could have” – I could of had a V8 is incorrect! Don’t you watch commercials anymore to learn yer grammarfications? It’s I could have had a V8! I gots my verbs, yeah, and they’ses makes my sentence so nice and loverly!

We don’t have to merge together! We can simply merge! Who knew?

Let’s all go to the grammar store! wheee!

Nauseous versus Nauseated. If you feel it, it is nauseated. I am nauseated becauses I ain’t et my breakfas yet, y’allses. What? That sentence? What about it?

And this one I see misused over and over and over and over. More importantly and most importantly is incorrect. Sorry, it is! Is, too! Yes it is too incorrect. Humph! It should be more or most important. So, go ye and speak importantly no more!

Y’allses gots any grammerfications and other writin bloooperdoops you wanna tawlk about? :-D

Now, go do the day!

And P.S. – Thank you all for your support for Tender Graces Promo on Thursday & Friday to launch Family Graces, and for Mom’s day. Appreciate you all!

And a head’s up that Rose & Thorn Journal’s spring issue will go live the 15th –  that’s tomorrow! Hope you will stop by to peruse the prose, poetry, and art. We appreciate you.

Monday Classroom: let’s drink a big ole glass of Discipline Juice, y’allses!

The thing that keeps me on my treadmill for an hour and then to my strength training exercises and then to my mat for yoga; the thing that stops me from eating beyond the point when I have had quite enough; the thing that tells me “no” when I want something I can’t afford and so I walk away from it; the thing that has me flossing every night because it is good for me; the thing that keeps me healthy and strong and powerful is—Discipline. But this isn’t Wednesday and time for Personal Trainer Kat, this is Monday Classroom.

So, my beautiful friends, that same discipline I use for my body is a contributing factor—a hah-uuuge one—to being a successful author/novelist. And by “successful,” for these purposes, I mean an author/novelist who creates and completes

works. And for this author, that means at least a book a year–so far. Without discipline, it’s easy to slip into the idea of writing, to talking about writing, to writing about writing, without ever actually writing the danged ole book. I’m looking at you—yeah you! You with the Face! The Guilty Face! You know I’m right don’t you? Right? Riiighhht. And my face can be added to the guilty since I have been doing just about everything BUT the writing of “The Lightning Charmer,” which is due in a year–and that year will speed of light pass. Why have I not been writing?–shiny things! shiny things! shiny things! And folkses, the writing is what I love the best–it’s the balm that soothes. I’ve not been drinking my Discipline Juice and it shows–my black-holed brain’s synapses are WHOOP WHOOP WHIR WHIR BA-LOOP BA-LOOP BOING BOING. Oh dear.

As much as I love what I do–writing books–I sometimes will procrastinate. Yeah! Me! Huhn. Can you buh-leeve it? Little ole pea-headed me la tee dahing around as if I don’t have a thang in the world to do – la la la la la tee dah. There’s some shiny thing that captures my attention, or I’ll play on the internet, or I’ll call myself doing “research” when I know all I’m doing is messing around. Well,  it’s time for danged ole mean Discipline to pull me up by my ears and sit my arse in my chair and put my fingers on the keys and tell me, “Stop fekering around and write your danged book, or else!”

My (and yours, too?) Or else’s could mean, do mean—

The less I write, the crazier I am—oh you think I am being a cliché? That I’m pulling on that “writer’s persona” – oh no y’allses. I am slap dab cray-cray when I do not regularly write. And “or else” means I’ll not meet my deadlines—if I were working at a “9 to 5 regular job” and didn’t do my work, I’d be fired; well, it’s the same if I don’t meet my deadlines—then I could hear a see ya Kat! We’ll go find some author who takes her job seriously and meets her deadlines and actually writes books instead of just saying she’s going to—huhn. I’ve always met my deadlines because I drank my Discipline Juice. Give me a glass, quick! If I don’t write my readers will sure miss my books—okay, this is  my hope anyway *haw!* But, yes, I suppose there are some who would miss me before eventually forgetting about me because there are plenny more authors out there who will WRITE THE DANGED BOOK! It means I don’t pull in a salary. “Or else” means I let people down—and I let myself down.

Folks, whatever it is you want, discipline is the vehicle to drive you there—hey “drive” – yeah – discipline and drive – get it Huh? get it! Ha!

Discipline: Thesaurus on word doc reads—control, regulation, restraint, authority obedience, and the opposite of it reads: CHAOS. Oh! How perfect for me! Yes, chaos happens inside my pea-headed brain and all up and around this here Self when I am not disciplined. Lawdy be.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird -

Y’allses, you must drink your daily glass of Discipline Juice so you can grow strong and supple and capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound! Or at least you will reach your goals and do the things you wish for, hope for, live for, dream about, and if leaping tall buildings in a single bound is your dream, well, um, well—okay, it probably ain’t gonna happen—I hate to be the one to bust up your bubbles but maybe you oughta think of something else to strive for. Just sayin. Buildings are TALL, dang it all. Oh, you meant metaphorically leap over them -well, why didn’t you say so. Huhn.

Without discipline we eat and drink too much, spend too much, laze around too much, make excuses too much.

Discipline can suck. Discipline is a party-pooper. Discipline is on its high-horse, sitting there all holier than thou and all, huhn! But, it belongs on its pedestal, for when it is practiced, when discipline is hugged to us and becomes a part of us, it creates and builds and achieves and glorifies and stretches us beyond what and where we ever thought we’d go and be.

La tee dah - oh the inside of my hat is soooo innnnnerestin' shiny things shiny things!

Discipline is what is going to get me off this blog and into my word doc, off bloopering around social networking (even telling myself “but it’s for my novels—I’m promo’ing!” Uh Huh, you are “promo’ing” about as much as a dawg “promos” on the lawn. You ain’t doing shit.), gets me out of my Boopmobile “because I have to run some errands” (although I do rarely leave my lil log house and maybe should run more errands, haw!), gets me off my couch until it’s actually time to hit my couch—sends me right-cheer to sit on my butt and write The Lightning Charmer and the next book and the next. To give it all I have. To write with all the heart I have—and when I do this, I am doing what I do best, what I love, and it’s the greatest thing ever, and then Discipline shakes its head and rolls its eyes as I say, “Why’d I procrastinate? This is WONDERFUL! This is all I ever wanted to do! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! YAAAHOOOOOOOOOO!”

So how’s about it y’all? Let’s all drink a big ole glass of Discipline Juice and get our arses to work. You up for it? Drink it down and then use Discipline when that next “THANG” hovers before your brain all tantalizing and shiny—that choice you will make without excuses to do what you have to/must do for your dreams is Discipline. The choice (discipline) that will yield results.

What do you need to be more disciplined about, my friends?

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