THE WRITE MINDSET

Posted by Linda Apple

www.LindaApple.com

“If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire must be not to write.” ~ Hugh Prather

 It seems lately that I’ve not been as concerned with the nuts and bolts of writing as much as the mindset of writing. After all, if your mindset isn’t right, you either are not writing or not doing your best work.

So today I want to know. Are you a writer? Or are you someone who talks writing? Do you attend conferences to rub shoulders with writers and talk the game or are you there to network in hopes of promoting and selling something you have already written? It’s so easy to talk the lingo and play the game. But what does that accomplish?

 Nothing.

 I know some writers who were rejected after their first few submissions. They were offended. Discouraged. So what did they do? They picked up their pencils and went home.

Then there are writers who refuse to accept constructive critiques. They argue defensively and eventually, when no one wants their work, they start talking the talk instead of writing the words.

Rejection and critique are not the writer’s enemies. Quite the opposite, they are the gym where the writer grows stronger. Avoiding the computer or pen and paper is the writer’s true enemy. 

Gene Fowler is attributed to saying, “Writing is easy. All you do is sit, staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

 It is discouraging and seems hard sometimes. I get it. But don’t quit. Get in the writing habit. Write a paragraph every day. Perhaps an observation about life or something you heard on the news. Start writing for contests. Even if you don’t win, you will have written. AND the entries that do not win are the bones for pieces that WILL win in the future or something you can submit. Don’t quit!

 My agent, Terry Burns, makes this promise: “There is only one guarantee in writing. If you don’t write, you won’t be published. So don’t be a talker, please. Be a writer! Don’t give up! Keep it up! Write!

My question is this, are you a writer or a one who talks about writing? Are you discouraged? What are you doing about it?

To all of you who have overcome discouragement, what words of advice do you have for those who are struggling?

www.lindaapple.com

www.lindacapple.wordpress.com

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Jan Morrill Writes

MASH-UP
A creativecombination
ormixingofcontent
from differentsources.

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This morning I’m meeting with my publisher, the University of Arkansas Press, to catch up on goings-on and talk about the status of The Red Kimono. I have to admit, this being my debut novel, there is still quite a thrill just to say “my publisher.” 🙂

In the mean time, here’s the mashup for the week.

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WRITING TIP #1:

In the New York Times article, “Act Like a Writer,” actor/writer, Molly Ringwald discusses the similarities between acting and writing. I was particularly interested in how she developed her character from “The Breakfast Club,” Claire:

“What I do recall was imagining my character Claire’s unhappy home life. There were hints to it in the script that John Hughes had written — “It’s like any minute … divorce” — but no…

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Purple Prose By Any Other Name

Posted by: Jan Morrill

www.janmorrill.wordpress.com

I love finding a new word–a unique word that I can roll over my tongue, maybe even blog about. Like this one:

pleonasm:

\PLEE-uh-naz-uhm\, noun;

1) The use of more words than are necessary to express an idea.
2) A superfluous word or expression

Synonyms: copiousness, garrulity, loquaciousness, verbosity

Isn’t that a perfect word for a writer? So much nicer sounding than purple prose. Though I’ve wilted at accusations of purple prose, I can almost say I wouldn’t mind being accused of purple pleonasm.

What is purple prose, or its more sophisticated cousin, purple pleonasm? Wikipedia defines it as:

… a term of literary criticism used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader’s response.

There was a time when I thought this was precisely how a gifted writer should write. In fact, allow me to make a true confession. Here’s an excerpt of a story I wrote several years ago:

Photo by Mugly
WikiCommons

 
The rising sun bade goodbye to the night’s moonglow with a kiss of violet, pink, orange and finally golden yellow.  Earth accepted Sun’s kiss and blushed with color.
 
Here is the critique given to me by a prominent college professor/editor, whose name I will change to protect her innocence:
 

PROFESSOR HEMINGWAY:  “Oh. . . my . . . God.”

JAN: (Smiling and thinking to herself) I knew she’d love it.

PROFESSOR HEMINGWAY: (Pulling her hair out)  “No. No. No!! This is SO purple. I hate purple prose!”

 
Perhaps this is the slightest of exaggerations. But as you might imagine, I went pale and queasy all at once as I watched her tear my pages to pieces before she laughed maniacally and tossed them in the air. They drifted, down, down, down like giant snowflakes on a day that for me, had become as cold as the words she’d cast upon me, as misty as my eyes.
I digress. . .
 

Photo by Piotrus
WikiCommons

Some lessons are best learned the hard way. I think. . . I hope . . . my writing has come a long way. At least now when I read that passage, I feel the same kind of roiling in my stomach one with a tummy full of cotton candy might feel after one too many turns on a favorite swirling, twirling carnival ride. 

Photo by Andrew Dunn
WikiCommons

Still, I do kind of like passages of pleonasm. Though Wikipedia calls a phrase that “draws attention to itself” purple prose, I must admit, sometimes I like to be pulled out for a moment, to float in the art of how the words were put together. To me, it is akin to walking through a museum and finding one piece in particular that draws me to admire and wonder.

When I write my first draft, I let purple prose flow through my fingers to keyboard to my heart’s content. It’s the dancing, skipping, doing cartwheels of my writing. (See my propensity for purple?) But, as I described in my blog entry “Synonyms for Hate,” when I begin my editing process, I pull it from my manuscript like crabgrass from my garden–though a bit more begrudgingly, I must admit.

I like salt, too. Just a sprinkle. But too much, and the meal is ruined. It’s the same with purple prose. A little here and there adds an artistic touch. Too much, and the author might as well spill a gallon of paint over the story.

A purple prose is a purple prose . . . by any other name–even if you, like me, prefer to call it pleonasm. And it’s subjective. Every reader has a different tolerance level. My advice to myself is to use it sparingly. I’d much rather leave my reader hungry for more than feeling stuffed and bloated.

How about you? Do you use purple prose? Do you like to read it?

A few great links:

http://www.debstover.com/purple.html

http://www.fiction-writers-mentor.com/purple-prose.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1985/12/15/books/in-defense-of-purple-prose.html?pagewanted=all

Jan Morrill Writes

MASH-UP
A creativecombination
ormixingofcontent
from differentsources.

___________________

Saturday, several of my writer friends and I got together at the farm to learn about WordPress. Here’s some of what we accomplished:

  • Transferred Blogger blogs to WordPress blogs.
  • Started WordPress blogs from scratch.
  • Entered posts, including photos and links.
  • Learned about Pages. (Here’s one of mine.)
  • Chose themes.
  • Entered widgets and created text widgets.
  • Posted blog post links to Facebook and Twitter. (Click here for my Facebook Author Page. Click here for my Twitter Home Page.)

That’s why I love lists. It really looks like we accomplished a lot, eh?

How was your writerly week?

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WRITING TIP:

We all have words that confuse us. My “favorite” is lie vs. lay. In the post, “Confusing Words” by Rachelle Gardner, she provides clarification on several. Also, her fans (including me) provide several…

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Truths by Ruth

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Being a professional, published writer, I love titles.  Titles, in my opinion, are the bread and butter of starting a story.  Titles lurk everywhere.  Take this morning, for example.

I live in a country setting.  Deer, fox, racoons, and even Big Foot make the woods around my house, home.  The trash bin sits down in a little hollow.  Every morning, I ease down the  trail wondering what animal I’ll see.  One morning. I saw a coyote, a white one.  I was thrilled.

This morning, Alvin the Chipmunk and Peter Rabbit were hanging out together. Ding! Ding! Ding!  What a great title!

Chipmunk and Rabbit:  A Tale of two unlikely friends and the Adventures they Share  Hmm . . . sounds like an award winning children’s story for sure.

Bored with your day?  Look for titles, they’re waiting to be shared.

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Writing Tips: Plotting Your Bestseller

Posted by: Pamela Foster

www.pamelafosterspeakerwriter

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“How’dya  come up with the idea for that story?”

That’s the question I hear most from non-writers.

Well, that’s the query I hear the most after, “I’ve got a great idea for a story.  How ‘bout I tell you about it, you write it and we’ll share the profits?”

For writers, a more pertinent query is, “After that first scene comes to you, how the heck do you plot your way through three hundred pages?”

The answer is that we all do it differently.

Staci Troili uses a plot board that would send me screaming into the woods.  http://stacitroilo.com/2012/07/30/how-project-planning-in-corporate-america-helped-me-write-novels/  But it works for her.   Her books are wonderful.

Dusty Richards tells me he doesn’t know until he writes each chapter what’s going to happen, says that’s the fun of writing.  Since he’s published over 100 western novels, I’m going to concede that method works for him.

Claire Croxton insists the first thing she does when sitting down to start a new novel is find perfect names for the cats. Again, the method works for her.  There’s nobody better at southern snark than Croxton.

Here’s what I do:

I generally start a new book with a vision that comes to me while I’m gazing blankly off into space or washing my hair in the shower or staring at someone at Walmart,  er I meant to say Neiman Marcus, and wondering what on earth they think they’re doing.

Once I have that first scene, I start writing.  This means I often flounder around a bit in the beginning of a book. End up with half-a-dozen false starts on my computer.  But, eventually the characters take shape and stumble through their story for me.

In case you’re not already thoroughly confused about how best to plot, click this link to find out what everyone from L’Amour to King to Irving have to say about plotting.  http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/thoughts-on-plot-by-famous-writers/

Here, finally, is my point.  There are people out there who will share with you what works for them.  Take advantage of that knowledge.  Part of the writing process is sorting through all the expert opinions and dividing what works for you from what you need to drop like a hot rock.

In the end, it’s your story. Only you can find it and only you can tell it.

Join the discussion:

So, how’dya come up with story ideas?  Once you’ve got that idea like a splinter in your brain, how’dya plot the rest of the book?