Writing In Its Many Forms

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So, you’ve tried your hand at writing a novel, but it just didn’t work out for a number of reasons. You’d like to write something, but your head is spinning.

Have you ever thought of writing in a different format? 

Here is a list I made. Perhaps you’ll find a new possibility: 

  • Novellas
  • Short stories (Guideposts is always looking for inspirational stories.)
  • Non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Blogs
  • Tweets (yes, you can write and sell your original Tweets. They can be humorous, quotes, inspirational, etc.)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Magazine articles
  • Newsletters
  • Greeting cards
  • Directions for products
  • Directions for games (such as board games)
  • Jokes (yes, there is a big market for you jokesters!)
  • Skits
  • Educational textbooks
  • Wants Ads/ For Sale Ads
  • Screenplays (Movie scripts)
  • Television Scripts
  • Plays/musicals
  • Menus (believe it or not)
  • “How-To” Manuals
  • Television Commercials
  • Sky Mall Magazine Product Ads (The daughter of a friend of mine wrote for this airplane magazine for several years).
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Choosing the Perfect Words

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In this world of texting, Twitter, and Facebook, it is more important than ever to watch our words, making sure we aren’t using offensive language or words that can be misinterpreted.

For writers, it is important to choose our words carefully because—even though they may be synonyms—an ever so slight variation in meaning can change the impact on and interpretation by the reader.

That is why a Thesaurus is on my desk at all times. It helps me choose the exact words to represent feelings, intentions, descriptions and so on. These words also make fine distinctions between meanings—and what you do, or do not, want to portray.

Here’s a recent example. My word choices for the concept of “getting used to” were:

Succumb (to)

Tolerate

Embrace

Acquiesce

I found that tolerate, embrace, and acquiesce meant “to accept,” whereas  succumb did not.

Tolerate and embrace meant to support.

Embrace meant to welcome.

But, acquiesce and tolerate meant to “put up with.”

Succumb meant to surrender or die from.

So, these words, although similar enough, could be placed in order on a continuum, from less to more positive:

SUCCUMB>ACQUIESCE and TOLERATE>EMBRACE

Once I read back my paragraph in light of the intended meaning, I was able to easily choose the perfect word.

It took a little work, but it was worth it.

You might say I embraced the process!

Thanks for Sharing Your Cookies

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I was reminded this morning about a story I’d heard before. Maybe you’ve heard it, too.

It is about a lady waiting at the gate for her plane to begin boarding. The man seated next to her reached over and took a cookie from her bag and ate it. She became more and more irritated at his brazenness as he kept helping himself to one cookie after another.

The lady, afraid he’d eat all of the cookies, began to eat some as well. When they both had eaten their fill—and only one cookie remained—the man broke it in half and gave the lady one half and kept the remaining half for himself.

Still harboring anger toward the stranger for just helping himself to her cookies, the lady boarded the plane. It wasn’t until later that she looked into her over-sized purse, embarrassed to see her bag of cookies inside, unopened.

Sharing should be such a simple thing.

Such a natural thing.

But, it really isn’t.

Authors, like those in other professions, have the potential to be competitive by nature. However, I have not found that to be the case.

Over the years, there have been countless occasions for writers to share what they know with others—conferences, blogs, podcasts, and so on. And each time, they share their expertise with seasoned writers as well as those just starting out. 

If you are one of those authors who have invested your time and expertise in others, I just want to say

“Thank you for sharing your cookies!”

 

The Invitation

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You hear the music and laughter as you walk up the steps and ring the doorbell. The host of the party opens the door, steps outside, and tells you about the great time guests are having inside. Then, he closes the door, leaving you standing there thinking, “I got an invitation. Why didn’t the guy invite me in?”

Contrast that with a gathering I went to recently. A few moments after I rang the bell, the host ushered me into his home. Smiling, he offered me a drink, showed me where the snack were, and drew me into a fun conversation with a group of party-goers.

I immediately felt at home…valued…welcome. 

Sound like some books you’ve read?

Sometimes you feel like your time and money have been wasted; others have a way of keeping you turning the pages late into the night. 

What makes the difference?

The author of the second book welcomed you in, showed you to the snack table, and made your stay interesting. 

As writers, we are told to begin our books by dropping our reader into the midst of action. This is “showing.”

But, some writers “tell” their stories. And that doesn’t make the reader feel a part of the reading experience.

Dropping the reader into the midst of the action is MORE than just making the story exciting. It also makes the reader feel they are sharing the experience.

They’ve been invited to the party and welcomed inside.

(Note: This is a reprint of an earlier post.)

A Blog’s Purpose

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I recently saw a movie entitled, “A DOG”S PURPOSE.” Heading home, I contemplated on my own purpose, making a couple of meaningful observations along the way.

Moving ahead to today, I asked myself yet another thought-provoking question: What is the purpose of blogs, in general, as well as the purpose of this blog, in particular?

I started this blog five plus years ago when I started writing. Its purpose was to gain a following—a reader base.

Secondly, I wanted to use it to encourage other new writers.

Then, as I learned more about writing, I began to share more concrete information, such as what I learned from conferences, guest speakers, classes, books, research , etc.

Even though I moved past my original purpose, encouraging others is still at the forefront of my mind and heart.

So, how can I encourage you today?

Here’s what I said a half decade ago—and I say it as much to myself as I do to you—with all certainty, perseverance is all-important. 

I know it has been key for me.

So, keep on truckin’…keep on keeping on…keep up the good work…hang in there…continue to learn…and, as my friend used to say, 

“Don’t let the grass grow under your feet. If you want it, go after it. Books don’t write themselves, you know.”

  

 

Put Your Legos to Good Use

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I am sure you have seen scale models of subdivisions in offices of new housing developments. These usually depict lots available for building, green belts, water features, even planned schools and businesses.

While writing a chapter in my “upcoming” book last week, I needed to describe, in detail,  the street on which a character lived. Since this is a book in a series, I recalled doing a similar description in an earlier book a couple of years ago.

It would have made my job so much easier if I had actually sketched the street layout, much like a map, and kept it in a file to refer to at a later time.

And, now that time had come.

But, since I didn’t do that, I had to reread that portion of my previous book and draw the neighborhood, including streets, which characters lived where, and the location in which certain scenes took place. 

No, I will not be building a full-scale model of the neighborhood. (I will leave that task to you overachievers.) But I guarantee that I will save it so that I can refer to it when writing future books in the series. 

Models and/or maps are good reminders—as are notes of characters’ descriptions, facts about their lives–even as detailed as ages, eye color, and so on.

The more information you retain in your files NOW, the more time it will save you in the long run.

With or Without An ‘S’?

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I read several books on my vacation. In doing so, I encountered the variations of several words, spelled differently by at least a half-dozen authors. This sparked a question I had researched at one time, but had not written about previously.

In case you have wondered about the following words, here is a short explanation about whether they are correctly spelled with (or without) an ’s’ at the end.

The following ARE correct either way:

toward/towards

backward/backwards

forward/forwards

upward/upwards

downward/downwards

inward/inwards

**Here is the only one that is different: outward is only correct without an ‘s’. That is because it signifies the plural form of the word if you add an ’s’. (This does not apply to the other words in the list above.)

 So, there you have it. The dictionary has spoken.