A Good Review is Hard to Find – Part 1

This post, by Liz Leighton, part 1 of 2, is excellent and very important, because many beginning writers, like myself, need to feel confident when putting their book on display for good and not so good reviews. However, what I have learned is that in reality, there are no bad reviews. Each review or critique plays an important role in helping the writer be a better writer. I will blog part 2 tomorrow. Thank you Liz! You are awesome. And, I give this post 5 stars! 🙂   https://journieswithliz.com/2018/01/03/a-good-review-is-hard-to-find-part-1/
K. D. Dowdall

Liz Leighton Writing Adventures

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and so it is once again time for the ISWG Blog Hop. I would like to thank Alex Cavanaugh and also the other members of this wonderful group for making this possible and for the support they provide. Special thanks to the co-hosts of the January 3, 2018, posting of the ISWG:  Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!

One of the most challenging steps for an insecure writer is putting your writing out there for reviews and critiques but it is also one of the best things you can do to help your growth as a writer. Conversely, giving reviews and critiques to other writers is also one of the best things you can do for your own writing skills. Giving reviews can help you develop your analytical skills and apply those…

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Wintertide

Kimberlee writes with magic as she composes a visual beauty of the seasons with her words, even the smallest things in nature, come alive with her writing. Just beautiful.

anotetohuguette

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. The crisp winter air is full of it.” – John Burroughs

The sound of the city, the siren, makes its presence known no matter how sacred the day – my garlands of glitter and pinecone offerings no match for the reality of modern day city living. It seems that life goes on, no matter what…

A recent note from the stone house that hides its true form (it’s a farm!) in its heart has me dreaming of the wild – I’m left wanting to fall asleep with the window open to the crisp air, the only light leaking in to be from the clear, bright stars above or the silver crescent of the winter moon. To hear the resident Screech owl and the haunting sound of yipping…

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Releasing Writing Fears by Artemis Delmar

Releasing Writing Fears
Sharing fears of self-doubt, apprehension, and feeling that maybe no one will like my book anyway or am I making a fool of myself for thinking I could be a great writer one day. However, through dialogue with other writers, we soon discover that most of us have the same fears, as Delia so clearly writes about on her blog.  https://artemisdelmar.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/releasing-writing-fears/

 

palabras DelMar

I like writing but I am hesitant about sharing. Self-doubt, apprehension, and fear continuously rear their putrid heads over and over again.  The self-doubt and apprehension lead me to write. In part, I believe that this is an oxymoron because the fear and apprehension should make me run from the craft.

The exploration of my language leaves me at a loss sometimes. I am lost in my thoughts and words— constantly. I am lost in observation and I am lost in the wonderment of exploration. I can explore the darkest thoughts of my mind and create something truly unique or I can create a poem that embraces every romantic idea I have ever come across and yet somehow, I feel it’s never good enough.

It’s not good enough so it’s not worth sharing.

I have so many creations, characters, and plots that are begging for exposure.

They haunt my thoughts…

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The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach

In the story of The Sorcerer’s Garden by D. Wallace Peach, we see the overall story as fascinating and rich in details that excite our need for fantasy and storytelling.  At first glimpse, it is a story about dragons, courage, adventure, war, soul-thieves, and the good verses the bad in people.

The story is really two stories, that in the end, become one where fantasy and reality merge.  The main characters, Madlyn, Cody, Dustin, and Lillian, each have different world views that conflict with each other, but all are necessary for everyone to cope with the approaching sense of loss that is meaningful to each one, a natural human response to things out of our control.

Yet, if one draws back the curtain of this story, it is a unique telling of how fantasy interplays with tragedy, grief, and loss, in the real world.  We are often changed by the realization that we live both in the real world and our perceptions of that world are often a fantasy from a deep psychological need to believe that things are better or worse, than they are.

The author, in my opinion, is telling us something about ourselves and that makes this story so much more than what it first appears to be.  The Sorcerer’s Garden is a study of human behavior and how to fight human urges of greed, scarcity, power, war, and cruelty that must be continually fought to create a more caring world through the realization that there is no need for greed, power, and cruelty, because there is no scarcity. There is only a perception of scarcity that steals our souls, formed out of our human fears. In the end, it is fear itself that leads to all the pain and suffering in the world.  I highly recommend this truly unique and powerful story. 5 stars

Word Painting – The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively

Word Painting – The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan (an excerpt from Writer’s Digest, January 2015) Here are four secrets to keep in mind as you breathe life into your characters through description.

  1.   Description that relies solely on physical attributes too often turns into what Janet Burroway calls the “all-points bulletin.”

It reads something like this: “My father is a tall, middle-aged man of average build. He has green eyes and brown hair and usually wears khakis and oxford shirts.”

This description is so mundane, it barely qualifies as an “all-points bulletin.” Can you imagine the police searching for this suspect? No identifying marks, no scars or tattoos, nothing to distinguish him. He appears as a cardboard cutout rather than as a living, breathing character. Yes, the details are accurate, but they don’t call forth vivid images. We can barely make out this character’s form; how can we be expected to remember him?

When we describe a character, factual information alone is not sufficient, no matter how accurate it might be. The details must appeal to our senses. Phrases that merely label (like tall, middle-aged, and average) bring no clear image to our minds. Since most people form their first impression of someone through visual clues, it makes sense to describe our characters using visual images. Green eyes is a beginning, but it doesn’t go far enough. Are they pale green or dark green? Even a simple adjective can strengthen a detail. If the adjective also suggests a metaphor—forest green, pea green, or emerald green—the reader not only begins to make associations (positive or negative) but also visualizes in her mind’s eye the vehicle of the metaphor—forest trees, peas, or glittering gems.

  1. The problem with intensifying an image only by adjectives is that adjectives encourage cliché.

It’s hard to think of adjective descriptors that haven’t been overused: bulging or ropy muscles, clean-cut good looks, frizzy hair. If you use an adjective to describe a physical attribute, make sure that the phrase is not only accurate and sensory but also fresh. In her short story “Flowering Judas,” Katherine Anne Porter describes Braggioni’s singing voice as a “furry, mournful voice” that takes the high notes “in a prolonged painful squeal.” Often the easiest way to avoid an adjective-based cliché is to free the phrase entirely from its adjective modifier. For example, rather than describing her eyes merely as “hazel,” Emily Dickinson remarked that they were “the color of the sherry the guests leave in the glasses.”

  1. Strengthen physical descriptions by making details more specific.

In my earlier “all-points bulletin” example, the description of the father’s hair might be improved with a detail such as “a military buzz-cut, prickly to the touch” or “the aging hippie’s last chance—a long ponytail striated with gray.” Either of these descriptions would paint a stronger picture than the bland phrase brown hair. In the same way, his oxford shirt could become “a white oxford button-down that he’d steam-pleated just minutes before” or “the same style of baby blue oxford he’d worn since prep school, rolled carelessly at the elbows.” These descriptions not only bring forth images, they also suggest the background and the personality of the father.

  1. Select physical details carefully, choosing only those that create the strongest, most revealing impression.

One well-chosen physical trait, item of clothing, or idiosyncratic mannerism can reveal character more effectively than a dozen random images. This applies to characters in nonfiction as well as fiction. When I write about my grandmother, I usually focus on her strong, jutting chin—not only because it was her most dominant feature but also because it suggests her stubbornness and determination. When I write about Uncle Leland, I describe the wandering eye that gave him a perpetually distracted look, as if only his body was present. His spirit, it seemed, had already left on some journey he’d glimpsed peripherally, a place the rest of us were unable to see. As you describe real-life characters, zero in on distinguishing characteristics that reveal personality: gnarled, arthritic hands always busy at some task; a habit of covering her mouth each time a giggle rises up; a lopsided swagger as he makes his way to the horse barn; the scent of coconut suntan oil, cigarettes, and leather each time she sashays past your chair.

How to Give Your Narration Flavor

How to Give Your Narration Flavor is certainly a way to add life and personality to each of your characters. Great Post!

A Writer's Path

by Andrea Lundgren

Readers frequently talk about the style or narrative flavor of authors they enjoy. They’ll say, “That sounds like something __ wrote,” or “This reminded me of ___” or “The tone of that was flat.” But sometimes, we authors we sometimes don’t know what gives us our writing voice. What makes writing sound different or interesting and engaging?

Our voice is really the flavor that is distinctly ours. It’s like the spices that make Italian different than French or German cooking. They may have similar topography or features; in certain portions of those countries, there may just be an imaginary line between one part and another, to where the climate, soil types, and weather are identical. Similarly, our writing might be similar to that of another in genre, plot elements, and character types but yet be unique because of the “spices” we employ.

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10 Tips For Proof-Reading and Editing!

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Proof-Reading and Editing Tips

These are very informative, yet simple and easy to do. Melissa writes that “I spend most of my work hours editing other people’s work and self-editing my own writing. In fact, I spend more time on self-editing than I do on writing. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips for self-editing.”  This is a revisited post from months ago, however, I am editing my recently completed manuscript and I think it is worth reading again!  I hope yo think so too!

– Melissa Donavan, http://www.writingforward.com

1.Accept Favor Requests for Editing

When a friend, family member, or co-worker asks you to look at a draft, do it. Even if you’re busy, even if you don’t feel like it or have your own projects to write and edit, take it on. The more editing you do, the better you get at it, and that means you become better at editing your own work, too.

2. Know When to Turn Off Your Inner Editor

There’s a time and place for editing, and often, the first draft is not it. Some writers craft sentence by sentence, perfecting each paragraph before moving on to the next. If that works for you, great. But if you spend hours stuck on word choice or sentence structure and you can’t move forward with the project, turn off your inner editor, blind yourself to typos and grammar mistakes, ignore bad writing, and just let your fingers fly.

3. Make Sure You’re Wearing Your Editing Hat

When you edit, make sure editing is really what you’re doing. In other words, be aware that editing is not scouring the text for typos and stray punctuation marks. Editing is when we strengthen story, sentences, and paragraphs. Proofreading comes later. That’s not to say we don’t do a little proofing while editing or that we don’t do a little editing while proofing. I know I do. However, I always do a full revision focused on editing and another on proofreading. For more complex pieces, I do multiple edits and proofs.

4. Edit On-Screen and Track Changes

Many writers and editors swear by the printed page. But that’s a messy and inefficient way to edit. If you start editing on-screen, you’ll adjust to the new format and soon find it’s much easier than marking up print. If you’re making big revisions (as you should during editing) and you’re worried about losing the original text, use Microsoft Word’s feature, Track Changes, which does just what you’d expect — it tracks all the changes you make as you edit. Then you can go through and review every edit and accept or reject those changes individually or collectively later. This is also a great way to edit twice — once to make the changes and again to approve them.

5.If You’re Not Sure, Look it Up (and Know What You Don’t Know)

Your greatest wisdom as an editor is knowing what you don’t know. Having resources in your arsenal is one thing. Using them is something else entirely. Don’t be lazy! Remember that every time you look something up, you learn something new and expand your writing skills. Plus, the more you look things up, the less you’ll need to look them up in the future. Eventually, they become a natural part of your writing process.

6.Keep a Grammar Manual and Style Guide Handy

When you’re proofreading and editing, you need to be meticulous. Don’t cut corners. If you’re not sure about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or context, you need to be able to open up a grammar manual or a style guide, so make sure you have the right resources handy. Be vigilant, be correct, and use good judgment, keeping in mind that sometimes it’s best to bend the rules, but only if you know what the rules are and why you’re breaking them.

7. Run Spell-Check and Grammar-Check First

Before you do anything, run spell-check and use your word processing software’s grammar checking tool (if it has one). Automated checkers don’t catch everything, but they can catch a lot, and that means you’ll have more time and brain energy for manual editing. Also, use the find-and-replace feature, which allows you to quickly find or replace a single error multiple times. For example, many people are still in the habit of using a double space after a period. I always do a find-and-replace to replace all those double spaces with the modern standard: single spaces after every period or terminal punctuation mark.

8. Read Slowly and Out Loud

The most crucial aspect of proofreading and editing is reviewing every single word and examining the written work at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels. Plus, you should be able to assess every document or manuscript in its entirety to check for readability, organization, and flow. This means you’ll have to go over each piece numerous times. To separate yourself from the content so you can better evaluate the writing, read slowly and read out loud. You’ll catch a lot of minor mistakes and typos this way.

9. Listen for Wording and Rhythm

Editing involves more than checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. When you read the piece out loud, pay attention to the rhythm. Does it flow smoothly? Do the sentences alternate in length or are there a series of really short (or really long) sentences that have a droning rhythm? Break up some of those longer sentences and join some of the smaller sentences together to give the writing better rhythm and more musicality

10.Pay Attention to Formatting

Formatting is actually separate from editing. This involves things like font (size, face, and other formatting options, such as bold or italics), paragraph and line spacing, and indents. Chapter titles and subheadings, for example, should have the same font and spacing. Citations should be formatted with consistency (and preferably, adhering to a style guide). Keep an eye out for inconsistencies in this area.

BONUS TIP: Review to Perfection

I like to follow a five-step process for editing:

  1. Read the entire text.
  2. Second pass focuses on wording and readability.
  3. Third review focuses on editing for word choice and sentence structure.
  4. Fourth pass is proofreading (check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos). This is where I read out loud, slowly.
  5. Final review and polish.

(Repeat step five until you can’t find anything to improve – or not.)

 

Good Luck with Your Self-Editing!