Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Friday

Beware! There be puns here. Alas, the author of these gems is unknown.

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Circumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

6. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

7. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
8. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. Steve is looking into it.
10. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

11. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

12. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said 'No change yet.'

13. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

14. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

15. A backward poet writes inverse.

16. In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

17. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From Little Seeds...

Once upon a time...

You discovered you had this...

and you were brave enough to face that blank sheet of paper

and do this...

and after a long time your first draft looked rather like this...

Now, you still needed to do plenty of this...

and spend a great deal of time doing this...

and hope for enough days like this...

But if you do the work...

You will eventually see this...

Even though it's back-breaking, (and boring) keep up with your this...

and be ruthless with this..

Remember you don't have to do it alone...

and someday...

you'll see this...

or maybe this...

or...who knows?

Your this...

just might have grown into this...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Cleaning for Writers

If you live in the northern hemisphere, signs of spring are beginning to bud. I've got tulips popping up in my garden and weeds (curse them) are starting their usual attacks. Inside I've noticed it's time (probably past time) to clear out some of the clutter and rearrange what's on the shelves.

Writing projects can get dusty too.

Take some time and bring out all those unfinished projects and take a cold hard look at them. Figure out why they're unfinished; there's always a reason. It could be you got bored; was it with the plot or with the characters? It's absolutely possible to write a boring plot; trust me, I know. Try to remember why you started writing the project in the first place, that knowledge could be enough to relight that writing flame.

A project can sit neglected in a drawer because it simply got lost in the mix. If you have had more than one manuscript going at a time, it's very easy for one to get put into last place. Get out the poor thing and take a look; it might take very little work to get it done. On the other hand, there's no shame in admitting the manuscript deserves its last place in the queue. Perhaps it should give up its place to something else.

The secret to any cleaning project is ruthlessness with your discards. When I look over my projects I try to look at them with an objective eye. I often discover that I've held onto projects which I'll never finish because I'm attached to the memories of the time I was working on it, not the project itself.

Doing a clean-out can reinvigorate you. That feeling of accomplishment will get you back to your pen or keyboard and you'll know you're actually moving ahead, not going around in circles.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun Friday

You may have seen some of them before but they are all worth reading again

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill 
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second ... if there is one." -  Winston Churchill in response. 

A Member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."  Clarence Darrow
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.."     - Oscar Wilde
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."     - Irvin S. Cobb
"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."     - Samuel Johnson
"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker
"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."     - Mae West
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."     - Oscar Wilde
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."  Groucho Marx


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just Keep Swimming (I mean Writing...)

Starting a new project is like plunging into this...

At first, you may feel the water is cold enough for this...

But you start doing this....

With the occasional moments of this...

But always returning to this...

Watch out for this...

But remember any journey is better with this...

And trust that even though you think you're going as slow as this...

If you've done this....

At some point....

You will be doing this.

It was a conversation with the marvy Margot Kinberg which inspired this post. Thanks, Margot! Do you visit her blog, "Confessions of a Mystery Novelist"? You MUST! It's a wonder.

Monday, March 19, 2012

10 Early Draft Horrors

Picking up that manuscript after it's necessary rest in a drawer is a brave act. One knows it isn't perfect. One knows there will be language to tighten or heighten, but then there are the errors that makes one wonder why one doesn't fall down more.

Since there's nothing in the world like sharing one's humiliation, I offer to you, gentle reader, (in no particular order...) some past discoveries:

The main character's height changed.
He started off very tall and lost about 6 inches somewhere in the last third of the plot. I tried to logic out that he lost the height because he was tired and wanted the damn thing to end, but then I realized that that was me, not him.

I intended to drop a small but vital clue early in the story.
Intended is the operative word in the previous sentence. It was supposed to be one of those 'when you reread the story after reading the conclusion you are amazed at the author's craftiness' moments. Yeah. Truly tricky to pull off this moment when the clue's NOT THERE.

Inconsistent character names.
Yes, I knew about 'Search and Replace'. I used 'Search and Replace' many times. I have no explanation.

Rooms changed locations.
Unfortunately I was not writing about a magic house. Floor plan drawing ensued.

A character having favourite phrases.
I thought it would be endearing. I erred.

A wise character who never made a mistake.
I discovered this resulted in a character I yearned to hit over the head with a cast iron skillet - or trip as he was walking down a hall. I leant towards the former.

The rhythm of characters' dialogue changing during one scene.
It was as if they'd morphed into different people. Drat. I might have been able to keep it if the scene had been taking place during cocktails. It wasn't. And no, I couldn't move it there. 
The pace (usually somewhere in the middle) slowed to the speed of a sloth on a slow day.
Thought about throwing in another body.Thought about throwing in a cuddly monster. Ended up doing a combination of the two. (No, gentle reader, I did not insert a dead cuddly monster. That would be cruel.)

Scenes tipped over into melodrama.
Sometimes the line between drama and melodrama is whisker-thin. I tripped over more often than I care to admit.

A scene which took ages to write and I adored.
Unfortunately, it did nothing for plot or character development. Agony ensued. Scene did not.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun Friday Irish Style

Tomorrow being by way of a holy day, and me having more than a drop of Irish blood, here's a video of some Irish views for your  enjoyment.

Have a grand day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Picture Prompts

What would you do if you found this on your doorstep? And no, it's not your birthday.

Why did this happen?

Who lives here?

Where does this path lead?

Who are those people in the distance?

Is this the end?
Or is it the beginning?

All writers love to ask questions and readers love to read their answers.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

10 Tips for Non-Perfection

Every writer falls in love with their characters. We love them. They may irritate us from time to time, but we love them. Here are some tips to make sure that love hasn't got you viewing your creations through rose-coloured glasses:

They say the wrong thing which causes hurt feelings or misunderstandings.

They have a physical flaw (even if it's only noticeable to them).

They're not a stereotype. (harder to realize than you'd think)

They're not successful at every venture.

They react uniquely to each situation you throw at them.

You've given them something to overcome (could be small, could be huge, but there's something).

There's something about each character that drives you a wee bit batty.

They don't remind you of any character you've ever read. (be honest)

Their egos make them make mistakes.

Unless you've written Satan's evil twin Skippy, (and maybe even then) each of them has at least one redeeming quality.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fun Friday

I hope these give all of you a few giggles. They certainly made me smile. Thanks for reading my posts this week, see you on Monday!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Confronting that Blank Page

It's here.

Now, come on. It's just a

Every writer faces it. Now, it's your turn.

You'll start writing.

Any minute now.

Seriously. Just write.


You had that great idea about how to start.

This first draft is for you.
No one else gets to see it.

Think of all those people who've told you you're living the dream.
Just write.

I salute each and every writer who has faced the blank page and triumphed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Writer Prepares

No writer sits and immediately begins to write. You may have heard of some that do, but I am here to reiterate that those stories are all lies.

Like any great athlete or dancer, you must prepare. Warm up the muscles, limber up the thoughts. Here are my 10 steps of preparation:

10. Open up your WIP and stare at the previous page. Staring is the key. Don't judge, don't edit; just stare. Remind yourself that you are looking at proof that you have written and today you will write again.

 Just not yet.

9. Play a few rounds of your favourite internet game - could be solitaire, could be Angry Birds, could be anything. I don't judge. This is not procrastinating. This is a gentle awakening of your writing muscles. See how you are manipulating the mouse? Strategizing your next move? Both vital parts of the pre-writing process.

8. Time for a beverage of your choice. Keeping hydrated is important. Ask any gold medalist.

7. Look to your left (or right) for the notes you made last night. You know, those reminders of the insights (one could label them at practically the genius level - but one is modest, so refrains from aforesaid labeling) into your plot. No notes?

6. Time for another (I would suggest different) beverage and a new curse word. This may take time, but again, time well-spent. Self-loathing is another vital step in anyone's writing process. (If it isn't, this isn't the time to tell me.)

5. Get up and do a few stretches. It's time.

4. Since you're up, check the refrigerator for a healthy snack. Nothing there? Open the door and check again. Why do we all do this? Do we expect food to magically appear?

3. Ponder this quirk of human behaviour. Again - not procrastinating. You are pondering human nature which is a very literary thing to do.

2. Another very literary thing to do is to eat cookies. Be literary.

1. Now you should actually write. Not ready? Not prepared? Absolutely nothing wrong with going through this list as many times as necessary. Remember, improper preparation leads to cramps. Nasty.