Waiting for Inspiration to Write is the Wrong Attitude

I recently read an article about waiting for the muse to inspire a writer before they sat down to write. The jest of it was that one shouldn’t force the writing.

FREE KINDLE READ: Shadows in the Stone - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00815FI6M
FREE KINDLE READ:
Shadows in the Stone

While this might work for some writers, I fear it doesn’t work for most writers. Writing only when inspiration hits creates a few problems.

Inspiration hits at inconvenient times: while driving from Nova Scotia to Fredericton at 3 o’clock in the morning; eating watermelon on a horse; paddling in the middle of the harbour; sitting at a writers’ meeting; waiting in the pouring rain because someone is late…you get the picture.

In many instances, you can’t even scribble a sentence on a napkin let alone write out a complete paragraph or half a short story.

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Let the Dialogue Do the Talking

Dialogue. It’s one way our characters use to communicate to one another. Sometimes it’s short and sweet, while other times it’s a lengthy rant. When written correctly, it reads smoothly, drawing readers into the moment, encouraging them to imagine the expression on the characters’ faces as they proclaim such things as, “I’m going to save the castle!” or “Pass me the dragon wand.”

When characters speak, we can—or should in most instances be able to—imagine how the dialogue was spoken. For example, “Run! The house is on fire.” I can see a character shouting this and encouraging others to get out of the burning building. In the context of the story, more would be revealed.

Sally took the milk from the fridge and set it on the counter. “What’s that smell?”

Peter shrugged. “Maybe it’s the new furnace.”

“Can you check?” She watched him leave the kitchen as she poured a glass of milk for Little Stevie. When she heard quick footsteps approach, she looked to where Peter had gone and watched him race into the room.

“Run! The house is on fire!”

In this instance, there is no need to add a dialogue tag but if one was added, it could be something like…

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5 Words that Weaken Your Sentences

Used when needed, these words can be powerful, but when they are used unnecessarily, they can weaken a sentence and undermine the impact the writer wants to deliver.

Identifying these words and testing to see if they are truly necessary is one of the keys to writing powerful sentences.

Some

In general, this determiner means an unspecified amount of something: an object, of people or anything that can be measured or not measured. It’s also used as a pronoun: Some of us left early. The unspecific nature of this word makes it detrimental to sentences when used unnecessarily.

Compare these sentences…

  1. “I want some candy,” said Becky.
  2. “I want candy,” said Becky.
  3. “I want one candy,” said Becky.
  4. “I want your bag of candy,” said Becky.
  5. “I want all the candy in the world,” said Becky.

In this instance, sentences two through five indicate how Becky is feeling and may hint at her personality. Is she indecisive, watching her sugar intake, greedy or unrealistic? By choosing another word or leaving out some altogether, the sentence becomes stronger and reveals more about Becky.

A few more examples of when you can eliminate some

  • Without some additional funding, the idea would never fly.
  • Without additional funding, the idea would never fly.
  • I enjoy my day when some family come to visit.
  • I enjoy my day when family comes to visit.

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First 5000 Words Evaluation

Over the years, many writers have asked me to provide an evaluation on a piece of their writing, not a complete manuscript, only a section of it. I knew this was a great idea because I’ve done it myself with my beta readers. I’ve sent a chapter, a scene or a passage and asked, “Does this work?”

The feedback provided by my wonderful, honest and no-holding-back beta readers has helped me grow as a writer. Because of them, I am a better writer today than I was ten years ago. But it’s not a one-way street. I read their material and provide an equally honest evaluation.

This relationship is what every writer should have, but I know they don’t. I didn’t until about 15 years ago. Although I knew my beta readers since the late 1990s, we didn’t get around to reading each other’s work until the mid-2000s.

I understand the difficulty in connecting with a beta reader, so that’s why I’m offering to be that person, to provide an honest, unbiased evaluation of the first 5,000 words of your story.

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A Busy Weekend of Events

There are many events going on around the province this weekend so if you live in Nova Scotia, you have plenty to keep you busy. Here are just three events I’m either involved in or wish I was involved in.

Craft Show: First up is the In Hants Craft Show at the Milford Recreation Hall, Milford Station, East Hants. The show hosts the creative works of more than sixty local crafters. You’ll find everything from quilts to cookies, from fancy hats to wooden carvings. You shop as if you’re in a gift shop, then pay for your purchase all at once at the check-out using cash, Visa or MasterCard.

This is the second year I’ve participated in the show. Last year I sold books and homemade goat milk soap. Only my books are there this year.

The hours of operation are Friday (9:00 am to 9:00 pm), Saturday (9:00 am to 5:00 pm) and Sunday (12:00 pm to 5:00 pm). I was there for more than four hours today, and a steady stream of people came and went, many carrying baskets of goodies and gifts out the door.

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Write Your Little Hearts Out

NOVELmberIt’s November 1st, and from my wee corner of the world, I can hear pens and pencils scratching on paper and anxious fingertips striking keyboards. It must be NaNoWriMo!

November is National Writing Month, a month set aside during the year to encourage writers to write up a storm. They might write something completely new or finish a work in progress.

The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

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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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