"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth

The Writing Life Too

And if you're reading this, it means you're not writing.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

"To discuss the use of tense, we have to realize that in fictional and nonfictional narrative the ‘past tense’ is not past and the ‘present tense’ is not present. Both are entirely fictive. The story, whether or not it’s based on a real event, exists only on the page. The only real present time is the reader’s.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Monday, September 23, 2013

“I see grammar as the choreographer of our language.”~ Karen Elizabeth Gordon

I can’t get across this argument that if you write, then surely you must respect things like grammar. Grammar is a bore as an academic subject, but it’s the basic good manners of writing. ~John Fowles

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thought for the day:

Write from the parts of you that are as vast and generous as the sky


Harvest Moon

I write because I can’t not write. You know that fairy-tale idea of turning straw into gold? That’s what it feels like to me. If I didn’t do it, then my existence is straw. But if I can take it and make it into art and make it into a story, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something. ~ Alice Hoffman

 What are you harvesting this autumn?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When I walk up on that shore in Florida, I want millions of those AARP sisters and brothers to look at me and say, 'I'm going to go write that novel I thought it was too late to do. I'm going to go work in Africa on that farm that those people need help at. I'm going to adopt a child. It's not too late, I can still live my dreams.' ~ Diana Nyad
"I like ideas, especially movie ideas, that you can hold in your hand. If a person can tell me the idea in twenty-five words or less, it's going to make a pretty good movie."~ Steven Spielberg

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Amp it Up

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” ~ Stephen King

{I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because my sentences are paved with so many fragments they resemble a mall parking lot marred with speed bumps. }
At the heart of every good sentence is a precise verb. The converse is true as well--at the core of most confusing, bumbling, or wordy sentences lies a wimpy verb or the passive voice. Passive verbs create stiff and lifeless sentences. 

Verbs are the motors of our sentences and most of the time we need a V-8 (va-va room), not a word that won’t even propel a lawnmower (put-put). As author Constance Hale says, “Verbs kick-start sentences: Without them, words would simply cluster together in suspended animation. We often call them action words, but verbs also can carry sentiments (love, fear, lust, disgust), hint at cognition (realize, know, recognize), bend ideas together (falsify, prove, hypothesize), assert possession (own, have) and conjure existence itself (is, are).”

Use fabulous, make your writing sing verbs whenever appropriate --careen, crash, bully,  ambush, slit, smooch, pierce, muddy, hammer, sprint, stamp, pounce, zoom, sway, bedazzle, squint, mince, lumber,  tackle, hack, vex,  trounce, meddle, peep, creep, flinch, maul, shimmer, zip, crash, growl, gripe, grip.   

Burly as a linebacker aren’t they? 

You can set your sentences in motion by showing people, objects, and events acting or implying motion. Even normally motionless objects can be endowed life: Bushes squat. Buildings hulk or shadow or hunker. Trees sway or loom, mountains jut on the horizon, TVs blare, floors creak and doors moan. Then animate objects can be paired with dazzling verbs: cars varoom, flames sputter and ash,  sailboats skim, teenagers wolf down cheeseburgers and ravage a family room. Boats slice across the sea.  Runners drive or dive toward second base. Dogs grumble and simper, a midway can invite fairgoers to part with their money.
Notice how these examples paint word pictures in your imagination. Notice how strong verbs stand alone, without props.

Here is an example of lively descriptions from the thoroughly delightful novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: “The voyage from Weymouth was ghastly, with the mail boat groaning and creaking and threatening to break to pieces in the waves. I almost wished it would, to put me out of my misery, except I wanted to see Guernsey before I died. And as soon as we came in sight of the island, I gave up the notion altogether because the sun broke through beneath the clouds and set the cliffs shimmering into silver. As the mail boat lurched into the harbor, I saw St. Peter Port rising up from the sea on terraces, with a church on the top like a cake decoration, and I realized that my heart was galloping.”

I also want to warn you against using vanilla verbs—they appear too often and don’t accomplish much: set, sat, walked, put, get, go, went, seem, got, see, saw, look, come, feel

A limp bunch, wouldn’t you agree?

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”~ Mark Twain

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Choose nouns with muscle

Strong writing comes from strong nouns and verbs, the workhorses of language and storytelling. Nouns come in two basic types: concrete, meaning things you can see or touch or experience through one of your five senses (rain); and abstract, meaning things you cannot see or touch, (freedom, politeness). Strong nouns create specific imagery. Strong nouns contain luster, tension, and motion, thus create tension, emotion or resonance in the reader. Some are lifeless--like the dud at the party who parks on the couch with a bag of chips and never adds to the fun. (desk, pencil, puddle, roof, telephone). 

Scrutinize your nouns—are they lifeless or do they create impact? Do they move, sizzle, suggest?
Hummingbird.  Swamp. Hawk. Comet. Flames.  Clydesdale.  Sky. Rumba. Rattlesnake.  Rottweiler.  
Rebel. Ocean. Thunder.  Atom.   Fog.  Hurricane.   Flame.  Twilight. Dream. Cloud. River. Heart. Cymbal. Artillery.Fairy.