"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zen Writing

In 1990 Ray Bradbury published Zen in the Art of Writing. I have never read this collection of essays about his love for the creative process to writing. If you have, I would like to hear your opinion.

Below is my list of seven tips to reach your own writing Zen.
1. Call yourself by the right title. – Call yourself a writer. Even if you aren’t published yet. Do you enjoy writing? Then you are a writer. Take yourself seriously or no one else will. Thinking of yourself as a writer will boost your confidence and unlock your creativity.
2. Write for Fun – While completing an assignment or meeting a goal can certainly be necessary, it should not be your ONLY reason to write. You need a creative outlet, even if it’s only 10 minutes in the morning before your day begins or at night when the house is quiet again. Allow yourself to write for pure pleasure, not for anyone else. Set down the idea you’ve been turning around in your head for the last few weeks. If you don’t have one, just start writing down anything AND everything that comes to mind, without stopping. Eventually, your creative genius will appear.
3. Keep an idea/inspiration Journal – Target and various Dollar stores often keep stacks of pocket/purse sized notebooks on sale for $1. Treat yourself to a couple and keep them for those frequent times you “feel” something and don’t have time to explore them completely. This way you’ll remember the ideas, quotes, lyrics when you find yourself unable to sleep or hit with a case of writer’s block. Become your own best source of inspiration.
4. Create a Swipe file/cabinet – Eventually you will fill up your creative Journals and then what? All of those unfinished or unpublished works should be kept in one place for you to draw out when the time is right. Here is an example of mine. http://writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/2010/10/art-of-chaos.html
5. Forget Form/Function – Your rough draft is just for you. Don’t worry about a title, spelling, grammar, number of words, creating the attention grabbing hook or the memorable ending. The first pass is just to get your ideas down. You’re setting the bones.
6. Rewrite – This is where you flesh out the story. Now that you have your ideas down, begin consulting your inner editor to make the piece shine. Make sure your beginning introduces the theme as well as hooks the reader’s interest. By the time you reach the end again, be certain all loose ends have been concluded. This is also where you decide if your title accurately portrays your work or if you should change it to fit.
7. Final Pass – Sometimes it helps to get away from your work for a while before you attempt this step. A break will help you attain objectivity. Check your balance and length. You’ll need to know the publishers guidelines to make sure you meet these qualifications. This is when you edit each sentence. Check your grammar and spelling. It helps to read your work aloud. Our ears can catch mistakes out eyes miss.
Zen writing means writing with a calm and unified mind. Most writing problems are based on conflict between the Creator and the Editor within. When you keep these two aspects of writing separate, it will boost your creativity and bring ease as well as success to your writing.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Your, You’re, Yours, and Your’s

As an editor, it is very frustrating to continually see the misuse of “you” words. PLEASE learn the difference or risk losing the attention of an editor/agent/publisher.
Your - the second person possessive adjective – it refers to ownership. It will always be followed with a noun.
Your manuscript could use some editing.
Will you finish your project today?
Are you writing for your age group?

You’re - a contraction for “you” and “are”.
You’re going to miss the last deadline.
You’re going to be a published author.
You’re welcome.

Yours - the second person possessive pronoun - it replaces "your" + noun.
Is this yours or theirs?
I can't find mine, but yours is on the table.
Yours is a better idea.

Your’s - may be written by many, but it is incorrect. I suppose this comes from the fact in most
other words, 's indicates possession, so English speakers sometimes think yours should be spelled your's. They are wrong. Yours should never have an apostrophe.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for…

Xylography is the craft of making engravings in wood for printing purposes.  The term became popular in the nineteenth century to distinguish wood-block printing from using moveable type. To the left is one of the oldest known Xylographs created. I also found this interesting article about the last Xylographer in Germany.
Xenophile – one attracted to foreign things.
Xenophobia – fear or maybe even hatred of strangers or of anything that is foreign to them.

When creating a new character, consider making them a Xenophile or a Xenophobe. This could lead them into some interesting or even dangerous situations. Happy writing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writer’s Resources and Websites

If a writer is to have any chance at publication he or she must read, write and have access to great resources. Below is a list of ten resources I feel are important. Please note some of these ten links have multiple resources within them.
Writer's Digest – In addition to the magazine, they offer a blog, newsletters, various publishing and editing services as well as a store full of great references.
Hope Clark is the founder of FundsforWriters.com Her aim is to connect writer’s with opportunities to be published. She advertises markets, competitions, conferences, agents and publishers. You can sign up for her FREE newsletters. Her mystery novels were just accepted by Bell Bridge Books for publication - the first to be released in winter 2011/2012. She has been published in Writer's Digest, The Writer, Writer’s Market Guide to Literary Agents, TURF Magazine, Landscape Management and many more. You can view her resume’ on her blog.
Just Open a Vein edited by William Brohaugh
Technology Resources are just as important.
AP Stylebook and INTA for trademarked words.

What resources do you use or find invaluable?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vignette in Literature

Vignette is not a term I remember ever hearing in school. I learned about them through writer’s groups and conferences. A vignette is a short, well written scene. It does not have a plot, but it does reveal something about the elements in it. It may reveal character, mood or tone. It may have a theme or idea of its own the author wants to convey. It is the description of the scene or character that is important. A blog or diary entry can be considered a vignette.

Wikipedia describes a vignette as “a short impressionistic scene that focuses on one moment or gives a trenchant impression about a character, an idea, or a setting and sometimes an object. This type of scene is more common in recent postmodern theater, where less emphasis is placed on adhering to the conventions of theatrical structure and story development. Vignettes have been particularly influenced by contemporary notions of a scene as shown in film, video and television scripting.”
Try this Vignette writing exercise. http://www.ehow.com/how_2060077_write-vignette.html
Samples: http://www.sffworld.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-7740.html                             
Please feel free to share your own Vignette’s or links to more information about them.

Side note: A special thank you to Aimee  for awarding me this "Versatile Blogger" Award.  I would like to pass this to the first seven people who are interested. Simply leave a comment telling me you have accepted it and a link to your site. Happy Writing!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Universal Themes or Concepts

The theme of a book is a universal idea or message stretching through an entire story. Sometimes it is a lesson we learn about life or people.
An author may employ multiple universal themes or concepts. If you have trouble understanding themes, you may find the below list useful. Consider the following ideas. See how many you recognize or use in your own writing.

1.   Abandonment
2.   Abuse
3.   Acceptance
4.   Adjustment
5.   Adolescence
6.   Adoption
7.   After life
8.   Alienation
9.   Ambition  
10.    Anger
11.    Anxiety
12.    Appearances
13.    Appreciation
14.    Beauty
15.    Belonging
16.    Betrayal
17.    Bondage
18.    Bravery
19.    Brotherhood
20.    Bullies
21.    Capitalism
22.    Caring
23.    Censorship
24.    Challenges
25.    Change
26.    Chaos and order
27.    Character
28.    Circle of life
29.    Coming of age
30.    Commitment
31.    Communication
32.    Community
33.    Companionship
34.    Convention
35.    Cooperation
36.    Coping
37.    Corruption
38.    Courage
39.    Cultural Diversity
40.    Customs
41.    Danger
42.    Darkness
43.    Dealing
44.    Death/Dying
45.    Denial
46.    Desire
47.    Destruction
48.    Determination
49.    Discrimination
50.    Disillusionment
51.    Displacement
52.    Diversity
53.    Doubt
54.    Dreams
55.    Effects
56.    Emigrants
57.    Emotions
58.    Empowerment
59.    Emptiness
60.    Escape
61.    Eternity
62.    Ethical Dilemmas
63.    Euthanasia
64.    Everlasting love
65.    Evils of racism
66.    Experience
67.    Facing reality
68.    Fading beauty
69.    Failure
70.    Faith
71.    Family
72.    Fate
73.    Fear
74.    Feelings
75.    Forgiveness
76.    Free Will
77.    Freedom
78.    Friendship
79.    Fulfillment
80.    Gender Issues
81.    Genealogy
82.    Getting Along
83.    Good versus Bad
84.    Gratitude
85.    Greed as downfall
86.    Grief
87.    Growing up
88.    Guilt
89.    Handicaps
90.    Hazards
91.    Heartbreak
92.    Heroism
93.    Hierarchy
94.    History
95.    Honesty
96.    Honor
97.    Hope
98.    Humor
99.    Hypocrisy
100.  Identity crisis
101.  Ignorance
102.  Illusions
103.  Immigrants
104.  Immortality
105.  Individuality
106.  Inevitability
107.  Initiation
108.  Injustice
109.  Innocence
110.  Intergenerational
111.  Interrogation
112.  Invincibility
113.  Isolation
114.  Jealousy
115.  Judgments
116.  Justice
117.  Knowledge
118.  Leadership
119.  Learning
120.  Light
121.  Living
122.  Loneliness
123.  Loss
124.  Love
125.  Loyalty
126.  Making Choices
127.  Manipulation
128.  Materialism
129.  Media
130.  Memories
131.  Morals
132.  Motherhood
133.  Nationalism
134.  Nature
135.  Necessity
136.  Oppression
137.  Optimism
138.  Overcoming
139.  Patriotism
140.  Peace
141.  Peer Pressure
142.  Poverty
143.  Power
144.  Pride
145.  Progress
146.  Quest
147.  Rebellion
148.  Rebirth
149.  Relationships
150.  Religion
151.  Reunion
152.  Roles
153.  Self-awareness
154.  Self-esteem
155.  Self-preservation
156.  Self-reliance
157.  Separation and loss
158.  Silence
159.  Social Change or mobility
160.  Strength
161.  Survival
162.  Taking a stand
163.  Teamwork
164.  Technology
165.  Temporary
166.  Temptation
167.  Totalitarianism
168.  Traditions
169.  Tragedy
170.  Trust
171.  Values
172.  Vanity
173.  Violence
174.  Virtue
175.  Vulnerability
176.  War
177.  Wealth
178.  Will
179.  Wisdom
180.  Youth