Monday Motivation . . . Writerly things and stuff.
This post by author Janet Fitch was extremely helpful and inspirational for me, and as a writer who often battles these issues on a daily basis, I could easily relate to what she had to say.
Below I've listed Janet's 10 tips and what they meant to me. Check out Janet's blog for the full post and more helpful tidbits.
1. Write the sentence, not just the story
This was something I'd actually never thought about until after I'd met my awesome freelance editor. I just wrote. Sure I'd gone back through the manuscript thousands (okay, maybe only hundreds) of times to annihilate adverbs and the evil was before I started querying, but I'd never actually thought about the story on it's most fundamental level...the sentence. I've become even more aware of this after writing a novella. Each sentence counts. Each word counts. After all the words are on the page, make sure to really analyze them. I love Janet's advice about reading aloud. It's kinda hard to do and way time consuming. But so worth it.
2. Pick a better verb
I struggle with this one. Yes, I admit it, sometimes I fall into the one-size-fits-all custom made suit, as Janet describes it. I want to know all the words and be able to use them to carry greater meaning and enhance the theme of my stories, but it's a challenge. One that I am working on. Thesaurus.com is my best friend. I love it. I've even taken it out on dates. How you might ask... Erm, it's an app on my phone. Duh. The moral of Tip 2: Don't settle.
3. Kill the cliché
Oh boy. It's so true what Janet says, "When you’re writing, anything you’ve ever heard or read before is a cliché." *readies the red pen* This one is a killer. Almost all of my first thoughts are a cliché. Sigh. On a positive note, I recognize it now. I try not to worry about it too much on my first drafts, but when I revise I start slashing away...tearing them down so I can build them back up. New and improved with my own Karen charm.
4. Variety is the key
Sentence structure. Subjects and verbs and objects...oh myyy. I'm guilty of this. So, yeah, I have a thing for short sentences. Just do. Love. Them. Can you tell? Sometimes I wonder if it's partially because of my love for Twitter and that blue birdie's addictive 140 characters. Whether it is or it isn't, this is a shackle I'm aware of and I'm making an attempt to break free. You know? Switch it up.
5. Explore sentences using dependent clauses
Okay, this is your freebie cos I just love how Janet puts it. "A dependent clause (a sentence fragment set off by commas, dontcha know) helps you explore your story by moving you deeper into the sentence. It allows you to stop and think harder about what you’ve already written. Often the story you’re looking for is inside the sentence. The dependent clause helps you uncover it."
6. Use the landscape
Don't know about you, but I'm a bare-bones kind of writer. At least I was until I started to get feedback from contests saying I needed more setting description. Challenge accepted. Another thing I've been actively working on is using landscape and setting as part of the story itself to set tone. Not just a way to give the characters location. Janet gives two great examples of authors to check out for help with this. Gotta check out her post to find out.
7. Smarten up your protagonist
This one is uber important. The protagonist is that special someone your reader will connect with. Make sure (s)he is always "looking, thinking, wondering, remembering."
8. Learn to write dialogue
I love dialogue. It's one of my fave things to read and write. It's all about keeping it natural. Natural for your voice and for your characters'. It can take a lot of practice to get it right, but reading writers of great prose dialogue is extremely helpful. And practice. Read it aloud. Does it sound like something a real person would say? One of Janet's great tips: "Skip the meet and greet."
9. Write in scenes
Oh man. Janet's tip for scenes is perfect. I'm gonna be a big tease and totally make you check this one out on your own (here). Bwa. Ha. Ha.
10. Torture your protagonist
No problem there. I live for this. Dream about it even. I just keep throwing things at the protagonist until they probably hate me. But, I do reward them in the end. So just remember, "The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story."
Want more motivation? Who doesn't? Check out my other Monday posts.
Currently being fed apple by my toddler . . . karen
For more on this post check out Janet Fitch's Blog.