Constructing Nonfiction Paragraphs

Constructing the ideal paragraph can be difficult. That’s why teachers start discussing the mechanics of it in elementary and continue right on through to grade 12. Solving the mystery behind paragraphs is a vital step in writing books.

A paragraph contains one subject only. This one subject is introduced in the first sentence, supported in the body and concluded in the final sentence.

  • The introduction sentence introduces the topic in a general manner.
  • The supporting sentences are where the meat of information is located. It contains specific facts.
  • The conclusion sentence wraps up the idea and summarizes the topic of the paragraph in a few words.

An Exercise for Creating a Nonfiction Paragraph

First Sentence: Introduce subject by answering: What is a chicken?

Points to Cover in the body of the paragraph:

  • Chickens are domesticated birds that lay eggs.
  • Female chickens are hens.
  • Male chickens are roosters.
  • Hens lay eggs.
  • What do they look like?

Last Sentence: Conclusion: And that’s what a chicken is.

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Injecting Life into Archaic Words for My Fantasy Novel

McGyver-ScatteredStonesFRONTI love finding new words that describe what I’m trying to say perfectly, especially if they are not common words. I often find these words have fallen out of use and are labelled archaic.

Using them and introducing them to readers who have never before seen them is a treat. I love sprinkling these little gems throughout my story.

I’ve had a lot of fun finding new words for Scattered Stones. They are—of course—archaic because Ath-o’Lea is in the past, long ago before electricity and engines and words like trailer.

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Update on Editing Epic Fantasy Novel Scattered Stones

EditingLate last week, I completed the first serious edit on Scattered Stones, the second book in The Castle Keepers series.

First, let me define serious. The dozen or so edits that occurred before focussed on over-all story, aligning the characters and the plots, and removing unnecessary material that would never play into future books. I edited large sections at a time, but never from start to finish, and I didn’t focus on each particular sentence. Non-serious edits are quicker. I can do a page every five minutes or so.

My serious edit focussed on each sentence individually and at times, it took an hour to do a page. It looked at every verb and weighed it to see if it was the right one, the strongest one for the situation. If there were two verbs in a sentence, I evaluated them both to see if they were necessary. The weaker one—if unneeded—was removed, shortening and tightening the sentence.

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Do Writers Need Protection from their Failures and Successes to Continue to Write?

I recently watched a TED Talk video by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. It was called Your Elusive Creative Genius.

Gilbert discussed the impossible expectations placed on artists, particularly authors. She admits, her greatest accomplishment—the Eat, Pray, Love novel—is probably behind her, so how is she to go forward and continue to write?

She takes us on a trip back in history, when the people of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome believed spirits who lived within their walls visited artistic people. These invisible spirits assisted the writer, so the writer could not take full credit or all the criticism for the completed work.

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Writing Tip: How to Make any Story Good

Writing TipLast week while I was cooking supper, my thirteen-year-old son walked into the kitchen and asked, “Do you know what makes a movie good?”

I looked up from peeling potatoes, and the expression on his face told me it was a rhetorical question. He didn’t want to know what I thought; he wanted to tell me what he thought made a movie good.

My son is a Marvel fanatic. He’s watched them all: Captain America, Hulk, Thor and, his favourite, Iron Man. He’s also seen Guardians of the Galaxy multiple times. He’s analysed them, critiqued them and guessed at the story line. Immediately after watching a movie or Agents of Shield (the TV show connecting with the movies), we know to expect his mind—travelling at light speed—to start churning ideas, and his mouth—also travelling at light speed—to start sharing them.

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Writing Tip: Giving Characters Their Distinct Voice

Writing TipHow many times have you heard, all the characters sound the same? Probably more than once. One of my exercises the past few months is reading reviews on Amazon. I don’t bother reading the four and five stars. They don’t tell me what I want to know: what a story lacks.

One of the pet peeves of readers I see often is lack of distinct character voice. One reviewer went as far as to give an example of how characters can make themselves individuals and sound more distinct.

Using his example as a guide, I created my own example:

If I stubbed my toe, I’d say damn. If my teenage daughter did the same, she’d say crap. We are different generations—which certainly sets us apart—but we are also different people who grew up in different neighbourhoods.
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Writing Romantic Scenes

Writing TipI grew up with older, conservative parents. They were born in the 1920s and lived through the Depression. My father served overseas in the Second World War. They never spoke about sex. In fact, my mother—born in rural Newfoundland—arrived in Canada in 1945 believing babies came from under rocks. She was seventeen. That’s what her parents had told her; it was what all the children in the community were taught.

In my very conservative raising, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of smut—as they would put it. When I was about fourteen, however, I found magazines my mother was reading. They were called True Stories. Anyone who remembers these magazines filled with short stories knows what I mean when I say, there was a little smut amongst those pages. And I read many of them, hiding out in my bedroom or in the work shed.

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