Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Picture the Possibilities

When we do this...

We know it's not always going to be this...

We know we should expect it to be more like this...


What do you do when you encounter this?

Take a this...

and do this...

That this...

might not be telling you you've hit this...

But it usually is a sign you're going this..

Maybe it's telling you your plot is doing this...

or this...

or maybe your main character needs to do this...

So remember do do this...

the next time you run into this...

You might find it's hiding this...

But of course, it could be hiding this.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 Questions I Ask

10. Why do the snappiest snippets of dialogue always pop into my head as I'm dropping off to sleep? I've tried keeping the trusty pad of paper next to the bed. The dialogue dissolves as the first bit of ink sinks into the paper.

9. Why isn't my writing as polished on the page as it is in my head? Obviously, I have a leak between my brain and my fingers. Drastic measures may be necessary.

8. Why didn't I include a lovable monster in my plot? No, I'm not writing a fantasy. What's your point?

7. Why can't my self-editor ever go on holiday? I'll pay. Seriously.

6. Why is it when I have hours in which to write the writing refuses to come, but when I'm busy doing something else, I'm writing constantly in my head? Do these pieces get written down? See question #10.

5. Why hasn't someone invented the 'instant book' pill? Take this pill with the beverage of your choice (hint: wine is always good). Type.

4. Why isn't there a National Writing Day? Note: This is not a day for writing, but a day where writers are taken out for lunch and worshiped generally. A little worship never hurt anyone. Maybe a small statue.

3. When I tell people that I write mysteries, why is their usual reaction to widen their eyes, do a head tilt and make that high-pitched 'really?' sound? It's FICTION, people. I'm not going to pull out a gun or thrust poison down your throat. At least, not here.

2. Why do good-writing days only last for a day? What about the good-writing week? Or month? Note: If you enjoy this type of week or month, it's safest not to share this information. See question #3.

1. Why, even though I have all these questions, do I continue to write? Accept it and move on.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Written Tips for the Spoken Word

I wrote murder mysteries for theatre companies for many years. I came up with a plot and characters and the actors would improvise the dialogue. Good fun for all, and I got a cheque. Score! Then I was commissioned to write a mystery play and panic struck. I would have to write the dialogue! I made my way through it and now, many years later, I find writing dialogue for my characters the least of my problems. Along the way I have learned a few things to keep in mind:

  • Vocabulary. Every character has his/her own way of speaking. A university professor will express a thought very differently than a teenager. A forensic investigator's vocabulary will be peppered with medical terms that an amateur detective would never use.
  • Colloquialisms. Know your location to give your dialogue the ring of authenticity. But beware; too many colloquialisms will alienate readers from other parts of the world.
  • Rhythm. Every character has their own rhythm of speaking. Some are staccato, some are sustained notes, some use long pauses for emphasis. Find each character's rhythm. It's there if you listen.
  • Humor. Never underestimate the power of humor. Characters who are capable of making a small joke or a clever pun are more multi-dimensional.
Creating realistic dialogue is easier for some writers than for others, but it might be one your most valuable tools to fleshing out characters. I try to remember that there is often a large difference between what my characters say and what they do. Some just lie. Some are incapable of lying. Dialogue is what makes characters come alive for both the author and the reader.

Have fun discovering your characters' voices. If you listen, they will come!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fun Friday

Wise words from an unknown author. I am not this wise. I wish I was this wise. I also wish I had chocolate. Oh well. Happy Friday!

If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly.

Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

The problem: How to get two pounds of chocolate home from the store in a hot car.
The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It'll take the edge off your appetite and you'll eat less.

A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn't that handy?

If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?

If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

Money talks. Chocolate sings.

Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous?
Because no one wants to quit.
Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done.

Chocolate is a health food. Chocolate is derived from cacao beans. Bean = vegetable. Sugar is derived either from sugar beets or cane, both vegetables. And, of course, the milk/cream is dairy. So eat more chocolate to meet the dietary requirements for daily vegetable and dairy intake.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thirties Thursday

Take a few minutes and listen to the sounds of the '30s.  Dance if you wish - I did!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Writing as Food

Many will tell you writing is all about this...

or this...

But I've been doing some this...

And I suspect writing is more like this.

Let me explain....

We don't want our characters to be as flat as this...

We want them to have layers like this...

or to pop up unexpectedly, like this...

and we want our plots to be as twisty as this...

with some moments as sour as this...

and others as sweet as this...

Then there's our need for this...

and gallons of this...


The more I think about it...

I suggest we all put down this..

and pick up this.

Of course, take this post with a dash of this!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Tips for Attacking First Drafts

10. There can never be enough coffee.

9. Forgive the bad writing, just write. Bad can be fixed.

8. Set a daily goal. Remember that 500 words is a worthy achievement.

7. Food is good. Crumbs in your keyboard are bad. Constant vigilance is vital.

6. Read your dialogue out loud. Seriously.

5. See #10. Bathroom breaks will be necessary.

4. You don't need to know every step in your plot, but a rough map can save your sanity.

3. Of course sanity can be a relative term.

2. There are days when you will write badly. Sadly (for me) these days are in the majority.

1. Every word you write is one word closer to 'the end'. Just. Keep.Writing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Timely (or Sheeply) Reminder

Sheep #1: It's time.

Writer: No.

Sheep #2: It's really time.

Writer: Go away.

Sheep #3: Actually it's way past time.

Writer: Go far far away.

Sheep #1: (blares trumpet) Time to get to work! Time to press that nose to the grindstone! 

Writer: That would leave a mark.

Sheep #2: We're not being literal.

Writer: Oh.

Sheep #2: We know you've been on vacation. But remember "Time and the hour run through the roughest day".

Writer: Now you're quoting Shakespeare?

Sheep #1: Why not? We're learned.

Sheep #2: Don't judge us harshly just because we're sheep.

Sheep #3: We bite.

Writer: I thought you were meek.

Sheep #3: (snorts) Seriously?

Sheep #1: Remember "I wasted time and now doth time waste me".

Sheep #2: Richard II.

Sheep #3: Act 5, scene 5.

Writer: (quietly) Wow.

Sheep #1: Just get to work.

Sheep #2: We'll keep quoting all day if you don't.

Writer: Fine. "Courage and comfort, all shall yet go well."

Sheep #1: Hey.

Writer: You're not the only ones who went to school. 


A special thank you goes out to Christine Hammar for telling me she loves my sheep pieces and reminding me she hadn't read one in a long time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

See You In a Week!

I'm busy spending time with family, visiting wineries and (hopefully) finishing up two mystery games.

See you in a week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fun Friday

This video deserves reposting. The first time I saw it I literally laughed out loud. I'm sure you will too. Enjoy it, enjoy the day, enjoy your weekend.

I'm unplugging next week to enjoy a little family time before I get swept up in fall activities. Daughter starting University, son entering Grade 12, youngest daughter going into Grade 9, and I'm going to my first writers' conference in October.

Sigh. I'm feeling old.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thirties Thursday

This post first ran on January 27th of this year.

Here are some ads from the 1930s. Enjoy.

I can't quite see this being printed now...

Some things never change...

I think I'll look for my happiness elsewhere...

I'm not sure what I like more - the men's swimsuits, or the idea that they need to grease their hair before swimming...

Ooh la la!

Before you choke on the £225 price, let me tell you that £225 in 1935 (date of the ad) would be £13, 224 today. (about $21,000 US)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All Nice Can be Dull!

I can appreciate the beauty of this...

and the peacefulness of this...

and the relaxation of this...

and the romance of this...

and the cuddliness of this...


(in my humble opinion)...

If that's all there is in your plot, it's going to be dull.

So, remember to add a bit of this...

or a flash of this...

or even...this!

and then your readers will appreciate this.