Tag Archives: writing advice

Word of the Day

Hello everyone!

I love words!  Word choice is crucial to my enjoyment of a song, movie, or book.  The perfect words and references make the experience rapturous while poorly chosen ones make it painful.

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to build a story using one or more words as your foundation.

  1. Go to merriamwebster.com and write a story using the word of the day.  The word of the day can be used in your story or be the theme of your story.
  2. For something even more challenging, go to merriamwebster.com 5-7 days in a row and use all 5-7 words in your story.  Make sure there’s a plot!

revising 1*Remember, this is a writing exercise.  If you like the story and the words don’t work, cut them during the revision phase.  (Considering I’ve never edited something just once, I should probably say “phases.”)

Happy writing!

Katie

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How to Succeed at Writing: Working through Frustration

Hello everyone and happy Presidents’ Day!

While working towards my 2018 goal of editing my novel The Four Crystals from beginning to end, I hit a snag in completing my weekly goal.  Apparently chapters 3-5 heard me say I was going to edit one chapter a week and conspired to detain me longer than that.  If they weren’t essential to the plot, I’d show them who was boss and cut them.

thNeedless to say, feeling stuck is very frustrating.  It’s made me question why I torture myself with writing when there are other things I enjoy that require less effort.  When I get depressed with my own writing journey, I find inspiration from reading about what established writers do.

Below are a few articles which recently helped me.  I hope they also inspire you to keep writing.

In case you don’t have time to read them, here’s a quick summary: 1. Find a writing space, 2. create a writing routine, and 3. make yourself do it.  (They say it much more elegantly than I just did.)

“Mark Ellis – A Writer’s Life” by Mark Ellis

“10 Habits of Highly Effective Writers” by Robert Blake Whitehill

“Ten Ways To Succeed at Writing Without Really Trying” by Ruthy Logan Herne

Happy writing!

Katie

Establishing Goals: 3 Strategies for Following through with a Resolution

Hello everyone!

At the beginning of a new year, it is customary to make one or more resolutions for the upcoming year.  I have never accomplished anything by just making a resolution.  Consequently, I stopped making resolutions years ago.  Instead, I set achievable goals for the upcoming year.

In my mind, there is a difference between a resolution and a goal.  Merriam-Webster.com lists many definitions for resolution, but the one that best fits my way of viewing it is 1c: “the act of determining.”  My definition of a goal is the second one given by Merriam-Webster.com: “the end toward which effort is directed.”  For me, a resolution is something I mean to do while a goal is something I work to accomplish.  I might resolve to finish writing my novel, but until I make it a goal, I will never bring that desire to fruition.

My writing goal for 2018 is to finish editing The Four Crystals so that it will be ready for target audience beta readers at the start of 2019.  When I look at all the editing that is required, this is a very daunting task.  In order to achieve my writing goal for 2018, I am applying three strategies.  I hope they will help you as well.

  1. puzzle 13Break the Task into Smaller Tasks: Henry Ford said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Generally, when I feel overwhelmed by the size of a project, I try to avoid it.  To prevent myself from procrastinating my way through 2018, I decided to take Henry Ford’s advice.  I broke my overarching goal of editing The Four Crystals in 2018 into pieces that I could accomplish on a weekly basis.  My smaller, less daunting goal is to edit one chapter a week.

 

  1. checklist 1Track Your Progress: This gives you a visual of your progress. It can be very encouraging.  It can also help you to get back on track if you lose sight of your goal.  For just that purpose, I created a template for the entire year.  Every week, I either write “yes” or “no” in the box that says “Accomplished Goal.”  If I edited an entire chapter, I write the chapter number below the “yes.”  If I fail to meet my weekly goal one week, that is okay.  Maybe I was sick or I was working on a short story and did not have enough time to edit an entire chapter.  There is nothing wrong with failing to meet my goal for one week.  If, however, I notice that I have not accomplished my weekly writing goal for two weeks in a row or that I am only meeting it every other week, I know I have to give myself a kick in the pants and apply more self-discipline.
  1. whisper 5Have an Accountability Partner: I have never been good at holding myself accountable. If I make a plan that only affects me, there is a strong chance that I will change the plan if I don’t feel like doing it.  To make sure that I actually accomplish my 2018 writing goal, I shared my writing goal with one of my writing groups and asked them to check on me every time we meet.  Peer pressure is a wonderful thing when used appropriately.

What are your writing goals for 2018?  If you’re willing to share them with me, I would love to read about them.  You can tell me your wring goals in the comments below or via my “Contact” page.

toasting 1Here’s to a productive year of writing!  I hope that these strategies help you to meet your own writing goals for the new year!

Happy writing!

Katie

Writing Books with Emotional Savvy

Hello everyone!

Recently, an author friend of mine, Olivia Berrier, recommended I get The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I followed her advice. At that time, I also purchased The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

Both books help writers to find different ways of showing, rather than telling, how the character feels.

 

Emotional ThesaurusThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The front of the book has a section titled “Writing Nonverbal Emotions: Avoiding Common Problems.” The main portion of the book is the emotions thesaurus.

Each emotion spans two pages of the book and has the following sections:

  • Definition: a brief explanation of what the emotion is
  • Physical Signals: a list of physical manifestations of or reactions to the emotion
  • Internal Sensations: a list of internal manifestations of or reactions to the emotion
  • Mental Responses: a list of mental reactions to the emotion
  • Cues of Acute or Long-term Emotion: a list of different ways people react to feeling that emotion intensely or for an extended period of time
  • May Escalate To: the emotion(s) to which the featured emotion often morphs or intensifies
  • Cues of Suppressed Emotion: physical signals, internal sensations, or mental responses to trying to hide or hold in the featured emotion
  • Writer’s Tip: advice about writing emotions

 

Emotional Wound ThesaurusThe Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

At the front of the book are several article like entries. These offer advice about caring for oneself as a writer, defining what an emotional wound is, and raising awareness to how to develop and write about a character’s emotional wound.

In the thesaurus section of the book, the types of traumas that cause emotional wounds are broken into seven categories: Crime and Victimization, Disabilities and Disfigurements, Failures and Mistakes, Injustice and Hardship, Misplaced Trust and Betrayals, Specific Childhood Wounds, and Traumatic Events. Beneath each category are more specific events or situations. For example, two of the more specific situations listed under “Misplaced Trust and Betrayals” are “A Sibling’s Betrayal” and “A Toxic Relationship.”

Each event or situation resulting in an emotional wound spans two pages of the book and has the following sections:

  • Notes or Examples:
    • Notes talk about the event or situation and how it could have come about or impacted the character.
    • Examples sometimes contain the same information as a note and always have a list of causes or very specific events or situations. For example, two of the perpetrators/situations listed under “Being Bullied” are “A jealous friend or resentful classmate” and “Co-workers who were threatened by one’s status or prowess.”
  • Basic Needs Often Compromised by This Wound: universal needs that often are not met or not fully met when an individual has the featured emotional wound
  • False Beliefs that Could Be Embraced: a list of erroneous beliefs an individual might have as a result of the featured emotional wound
  • The Character May Fear…: a list of common fears for people who have the featured emotional wound
  • Possible Responses and Results: a list of ways people handle/respond (positively or negatively) to the featured trauma/emotional wound
  • Personality Traits that May Form: attributes and flaws that often develop as a result of the emotional wound
  • Triggers That Might Aggravate This Wound: a list of events, sights, or situations that might trigger the trauma/jab at the emotional wound
  • Opportunities to Face or Overcome This Wound: a list of situations or realizations that are difficult for the person who has the emotional wound

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.

Happy writing!

Katie

Book Clubs: Making Them Part of Your Platform

Hello everyone!

book club 7I recently read an interview with Kathryn Craft, conducted by Donna Galanti: “Book Club Tips: Are You and Your Novel Book Club-Worthy?” I had never considered how making my book more appealing to book clubs could be a marketing strategy, but the points brought up during the interview made a lot of sense. I hope you find the interview as thought provoking as I did.

Happy writing!

Katie

Foreshadowing

Hello everyone!

Have you ever read a novel or short story and when you came to the end of it realized that the author had been hinting at the ending all along? This is effective foreshadowing.

foreshadowing-power-point-1-6-638As I have been editing my novel, The Four Crystals, I have been trying to sprinkle foreshadowing throughout the story without making the ending too obvious. It’s hard!

Below are three articles about foreshadowing and how to correctly incorporate it into your own writing.

For a quick overview of how to foreshadow, read “Narrative Elements: Foreshadowing” on Author’s Craft.

For some suggestions and examples of how to foreshadow, read  “Nine Examples of Foreshadowing in Fiction” by Harvey Chapman.

For a longer explanation of what foreshadowing is, a list of common literary methods used to foreshadow, and an exercise to help you spot bad foreshadowing (referred to in the post as “telegraphing,” but what I like to call “oversharing”), read “Foreshadowing – The Guide To Hooking Readers” by Mladen Reljanović.

photo(1)The main thing to remember about foreshadowing is that it should be subtle, like the aroma of food preparing you for a big meal. Two pitfalls to avoid are oversharing and not following through on foreshadowing (this does not apply to deliberate red herrings). Oversharing is like shoving food down someone’s throat. They don’t enjoy it. Equally bad is foreshadowing something and then not following through. This is like seeing a restaurant, smelling the food cooking, and then being told the restaurant is closed for the day. You leave the restaurant dissatisfied and angry.

Happy writing and good luck foreshadowing!

Katie

 

Writer’s Conferences

Hello everyone!

Back in June, I attended the 2017 New Jersey Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Annual Conference.  I learned a lot and got to meet many interesting writers, illustrators, agents, and editors.

In her blog post, “How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference,” Julia Yong offers a writer’s conference packing list and tips for how to get the most out of a writer’s conference while there.

Although Julia’s packing list is very thorough, I would like to add four more items to it.

  1. Tissues – You never know when you or someone else will need one.
  2. Hand sanitizer or baby wipes – You’ll be meeting a lot of people.  If you or one of them are sick, you’ll want to be able to clean your hands.  Getting into a bathroom can be difficult at conferences.
  3. Band-Aids – Like tissues, you never know when you or someone else will need one.
  4. Dental floss – If you have a pitch session after a meal, you’ll want to make sure the agent isn’t distracted by something stuck in your teeth.

I hope you find “How to Prepare for a Writer’s Conference” helpful when preparing for your next writer’s conference!

Happy writing!

Katie