LET’S GO ON A WORD DIET

AudienceWhat? That won’t do a thing for my waistline or any other part of my anatomy. But, think of what it will do for your writing.

Sure?

More than sure. A positive move.

Look at all the excess words you have in your story. This will involve a little extra work, but worth its weight. As writers, we all like to expand on a setting, a scene, a character, or a narrative description. Due these additions drive your story forward? Does this make you character more believable? No. Sometimes these extra words detract from the story rather than add anything.

So, go back to the old-fashioned way — a printed version and a red pen. With all the pages in your lap, grab your red pen and uncap this instrument. Relax. This is not your gym exercise, but your brain in action. You need the television off, the radio off, and if you have some good meditation music on a CD, go for it.

Feel the tension float away. Music or no music, it does not matter as long as you are in the moment. Picture yourself as the reader of a new novel, not yours, but your alter ego’s writing. Put that thought on hold, during the reading. Then you can slash, and slash, and not feel a thing. However, your alter ego may not have a great day.

You are in the Diet Mode. Look at each word as necessary. How many times have you used the same word twice within a couple of paragraphs? Go back and slice with your red pen, an action known as PR Slice.

Have you explained any actions or just let the actions happen. If an explanation, use the RP Slice. Actions speak a heck of a lot louder than an explanation. A boxer does not explain each move, but the opponent feels every move.

Then look at your words as trying to get the reader to listen to every movement and they feel like you think they need to be told. Check for all of these places, delete, and rewrite. If you try to show the kiss or the sound of a kiss, write a stripped version of the scene. Guess what? Your reader will relate and remember their first kiss.

Do not make the reader have to grasp or wonder what is going on. This is your job as a writer. Each writer must give the reader everything to make that person become part of the novel.

By putting your novel on a diet, you have deleted explanations, double descriptions, and given the reader his or her utmost senses: I am part of this story. The Word Diet, restores the readers beliefs in the story and words. You have brought the reader to a place he or she remembers, but you have not told them. They recognized the place in an instant.

Congrats. You have lost xxxx words. Your reader is enthralled and you are xxxx pounds less. Showing is fewer calories than telling.

Happy Writing.

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THANKSGIVING DAY IS HERE

images_006I got up early to see the weather and saw only tents lined up around shopping center stores. I do not own a tent, would not know how to put one together, but the thought occurred — rent one out. Bet there would have been plenty of takers for the same ad.

This got me to thinking about “Black Friday,” and I did some research, as the photo suggests, except I used a keyboard and the Web. Here is a little history. The term, “Black Friday,” started back in the 1960’s as a kickoff to the Christmas Shopping Season. Sure, most of us know this, but black also refers to the stores moving from the “red” to the “black.” For some of you accountants out there, remember the balance sheets, income statements, and the old red and black pens? Red indicates a loss and black a profit.

Another thing I found out ….the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924, announcing the Friday after Thanksgiving as the unofficial start to a big holiday shopping season. Back in the 1960’s, police in Philadelphia had to put up with congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, a “Black Friday” for them. And way, way back in 1869, the stock market collapsed and stocks fell, set off by gold spectators.

All of this information is paraphrased from THE HISTORY OF BLACK FRIDAY on-line. This will have to be revised as they mention retailers opening up on Black Friday at 5 am to crowds waiting. Now, you’d better have Thanksgiving BREAKFAST as the stores open even on this treasured day.

Guess you could say, I am not a shopper. An article on television news, stated the shopping experience(s) give the shopper an endorphin high. The bustle of crowds, the rustle of paper, and the number of bags you can carry, get shoppers in a good mood. I enjoy purchasing presents for my friends, but at odd hours, less shoppers, time to think, and look at the special gift for a special friend.

Tonight, in Atlanta, is the lighting of Macy’s Christmas tree. The rain will hold off, the cold weather will not, but when crowds gather for entertainment and fireworks, kids and adults forget the cold and feel only the excitement.

May all your favorite football teams win; may the turkey be there for that last sandwich; may you and your family share a special time; may you know I wanted to remember all of you readers and share a few moments on this Thanksgiving Day, 2013.

Happy Eating. Happy Snacking.

WRITING RETREAT OF SELF-EDITING

pen and inkWe have had four different places for writing retreats, each representing the writer and their interests. Now, let’s put the emphasis of these retreats into creating our best work. Yes, this involves self-editing. So, put on your coat of armor and get ready to fight for or against your choice of words.

You have finished your first draft and cannot wait to send this out to publishers and agents. STOP. This is your first draft and I bet you have not read from page one to the end with a red pen in your hand. Some writers revise their work on the computer and do a fantastic job. For me, I want to hold the manuscript in my hands, sit in a quiet corner or a noisy coffee shop, and use the red pen to strike out words, sentences, paragraphs or even chapters. OUCH. Sometimes you find silly mistakes and wonder how those ideas or thoughts got on the page. You do not remember hitting the keys.

YES, you will revise and revise and revise; but the time will come when you have done all the hard work and hand your ‘baby’ over to another writer for his or her comments. Then you will see your work through their eyes. Maybe you will make more changes or keep what you have changed. You must be the decision maker of your writing to give a reader the best book.

How often do you go overboard on descriptions, scenes, and information, which does not advance your story. Think of these things as seasoning for your story. Just like in cooking, when too much red pepper dominates the soup, and you have to add more broth or water to dilute the taste. So, do not plug up your story with too many unnecessary words. Adverbs and Adjectives are the seasonings you need to leave in the cupboard, so to speak. A noun should be able to say what you want without the use of an adjective. You need a verb strong enough to stand alone.

Keep up with writing courses. Learn new methods. Hone your craft. Do you ever use writing prompts? No?  Why not? These small daily practices keep your mind and creativity sharp. Play around and try out different answers to the same writing prompt. Look through writing magazines and ask other writers which ones they suggest.

Learn from revising, implement new strategies to your writing, get with other writers for a brainstorming period, and pay attention to all criticism of your work. You can only improve and improve. Isn’t this what writers want? A great book.

Have fun with your writing, and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting. You’ll be a better writer.