How to Jump Start your Writing

If we were to modify a popular expression, we could say, She who hesitates gets no writing done.  Natalie Goldberg exhorts writers to “burn through their first thoughts, coming to a place where you are writing what your mind sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see and feel.”

If the act of starting to write is hard for you, begin with I remember and keep going. If you get stuck, repeat the phrase and move forward again.

Keep your hands moving. Don’t re-read the line you have just written or try to wrangle control of what you are saying. Don’t revise as you are writing. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Don’t edit, censor or cross-out.

Don’t correct typos, punctuation or grammar. That too can happen later AFTER your first thoughts are on paper.

Don’t think or try to be logical. If the naked and the scary and horrible emerge, invite them in for a cup of tea and take down their stories.

Now…that your first draft is down on paper, literally or digitally, let me know how it went, and share your tips and tools for plowing forward.

Thanks for visiting and come back often.

R. R. Harris, author of Double Take, a romantic mystery-thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii and soon to be available on Amazon.

Novel in a Month – Describing the Setting

Settings literally provide a stage for your story – a meeting place for characters, conflict and suspense to meld, wrestle like cats in a bag or become the best of friends.

Tips to keep in mind when writing descriptions of your work’s setting: Keep it simple so that the reader is not overwhelmed. Engage your reader not with flowing prose that aches to be set to music, but instead, let your character’s voice reveal details that energize the piece.

Allow the reader to close her eyes and hear the character’s drunken drawl, to be choked by the grit that lies heavily, permanently in the tropical air, or to be disgusted by the stench of the unbathed villain with one eye.

From Rebecca in The Chakra Diaries: “Julie arranged my soft Indian mats in a perfect circle of color before collapsing like a lifeless marionette, center-stage in the middle of the rainbow, smack on the bright green cushion.”

From Sarah’s diary: “From across the field, my youngest sister and I saw the unbalanced red tractor rear like an unbroken colt, pawing the air, its rubber feet spinning dew-damp hay in rainbow arcs.”

Remember to pace yourself. Your work is a marathon of sustained maximum effort and should be unveiled or doled out, slice by delectable slice. Tease and entice the reader so they must know what happens next.

Close your eyes and let your mind paint the details and color the mood. Look for relevant details that cry out to be noticed, to be included without fail. Keep in mind that an out-of-work actor may describe a scene entirely differently than a street painter, soccer mom or fashion photographer. Certain details may be “left out” of a setting by one character only to be introduced later by another, IF the added details advance the story or deepen the character.

They lived in a Moorish tower that they had bought for very little money. The old doors did not close well, and the wind opened them over and over again. I sat with them in a big circular room with peasant furniture. Anais Nin

One last tip is that a well-written setting description allows the reader a peek into what the character sees while it enhances the mood of the piece, as subtly as a first kiss or as violently as a train wreck. No character sees everything. She only focuses on what is important to her at that moment. If the added details do not further develop the plot, leave them out.

Thanks for stopping by. If you’d like to join me in and write your NOVEL IN A MONTH, click here: http://www.novelinamonth.com/?afl=90058

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.TheChakras.org

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day One

Whether you are writing a self-help work, like I am with Balance your Life or fiction, as my colleague R. R. Harris is penning with Double Take, it pays dividends to be organized.

“An outline is crucial and saves so much time. It tells you where the story is going.” John Grisham

So, we begin at the beginning.

TITLE: Give your work a name, or something that can reference your project.

GENRE: Be flexible as this may change as the plotline and characters and your thoughts morph and develop. List all of the genres that your story might fit into.

POINT of VIEW: Will it change from scene to scene or will the main character narrate in first person throughout? An author friend of mine said that when she began her autobiographical “coming of age” novel that her original intention was to have the first-person voice change as her character grew and matured. However as she drove further and further into the hinterlands of her work, she realized how maintaining that direction complicated her writing and de-railed it from flowing freely from her consciousness. For example, she would have to ensure that her teenager was not speaking with the voice of a worldly and wise, middle-aged maven or vice versa.

Some authors choose voice from scene to scene by weighing what character stands the most to lose. Although unless skillfully written, this approach can leave a reader wondering what is going on and especially, who is talking.

WHO wants, WHAT do they want, WHY do they want it and What/who stands in your character’s way? Not sure where to begin?

“What if X happened? That’s how you start.” Tom Clancy

“Don’t wait to be struck by an idea. If you are a writer, sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” Andy Rooney

SETTING: Can make a story gel into a dish fit for the Queen or alternatively turn it into cold tasteless soup that even hungry flies shun. Of course, there are endless possibilities. You can create memorable characters as at home in the book’s setting as a well worn slipper, but who enliven it and blaze brightly at the slightest provocation. Perhaps others triumph despite all odds or seemingly invincible villains meet their match in a unforeseen avalanche of choices that could not have been forecast.

“Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” John Updike

HOOK/SPARK: Yeah, the night was dark and stormy and she came to the door with nothing on but the radio, but then what? What will I write in the second paragraph and on page 87 that will keep my reader into the book? Will the last sip of my book be as satisfying as the first, or even more so?

As an author I must constantly ask – have I set-up conflict, created suspense and action and left the reader panting for more? Am I solving a problem the reader has, conveying knowledge or fulfilling a need?

“I want the reader to turn the page without thinking that she is turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.” Janet Evanovich

DON’T QUIT: “Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Quick Quips on Creative Writing

Choose a peaceful setting for planning, writing or revising a book, whether in nature or your attic retreat.

“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.” ~ TRUMAN CAPOTE

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts” ~ LARRY L. KING

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” ~ HARPER LEE

“Read in order to live.” ~ GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

HAPPY WRITING,

R. R. HARRIS

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Proofreading 102

WATCH OUT FOR THESE COMMON WRITING ERRORS!

These are are the 5 most misused words by writers, according to Ezine.com. Strengthen your writing skills and maintain your credibility by ensuring these errors never see the light of day in your work.

Its vs. It’s

its – Associated with a thing previously mentioned or in reference to an animal without prior knowledge of the animal’s gender.

Incorrect: That monkey will never be a ballet dancer; it’s posture is horrendous.
Correct: That monkey will never be a ballet dancer; its posture is horrendous.

it’s – Contraction of it is or it has.

Incorrect: John bikes to work. Its his favorite part of the day.
Correct: John bikes to work. It’s his favorite part of the day.

Lose vs. Loose

lose – To be deprived of or cease to have; to cause someone to fail to gain or retain something.

Incorrect: Loose weight in 5 weeks or loose your chance to go to the beach!
Correct: Lose weight in 5 weeks or lose your chance to go to the beach!

loose – Not firmly or tightly fixed in place; to release or set free.

Incorrect: The dog’s collar was lose, so Bob tightened it before the dog got lose.
Correct: The dog’s collar was loose, so Bob tightened it before the dog got loose.

Your vs. You’re

your – Possessive form of you (typically used before a noun).

Incorrect: You’re article writing skills have improved!
Correct: Your article writing skills have improved!

you’re – Contraction of you are.

Incorrect: Your an article writing master!
Correct: You’re an article writing master!

Their vs. They’re vs. There

their – Possessive adjective indicating a particular noun belongs to them.

Incorrect: There keys are in the ignition.
Correct: Their keys are in the ignition.

they’re – Contraction of they are.

Incorrect: Where are they? Their at the shop.
Correct: Where are they? They’re at the shop.

there – Reference to the existence of something; a place or position.

Incorrect: Their is a reason why the pie is gone. John ate the last slice over they’re.
Correct: There is a reason why the pie is gone. John ate the last slice over there.

To vs. Too

to – In the direction of or at; used with the base form of a verb to show the verb is in the infinitive.

Incorrect: Susan goes too the store too buy vegetables.
Correct: Susan goes to the store to buy vegetables.

too – Very, as well, also.

Incorrect: Bill drives to fast on his motorcycle to.
Correct: Bill drives too fast on his motorcycle too.

HERE’S TO GREAT WRITING!
R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Proofreading 101

I have got to loose eight pounds before bikini season, Sarah thought as she guiltily enjoyed an afternoon chocolate bar. Of course, even more would be grate as my clothes might be too lose. But, even if I don’t, its my party and I will cry if I want too. They’re are always tricks like vertical stripes and dresses that don’t tie at the waste.

“No one can make you feel inferior without you’re permission.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

So, how many errors did you find in the above two paragraphs?  Several of them may be all too obvious and stick out like a proverbial sore thumb – underlined in every color of the rainbow by spelling, grammar and punctuation checkers, yet absolutely no product is foolproof. The Proofreader function on this blog missed two of them! As such overlooked mistakes can be a shot to the heart of your labor of love, you absolutely must avoid them.

That is where a professional proofreading service like Indie Author Counsel can come to the rescue. Although your budget may be small, we know that you want your work to look and sound as good as professionally published books and eBook versions such as Kindle. So, do not make the mistake of relying just on your eyes or those of your neighbor or partner. We will check your formatting, spelling, grammar and punctuation, plus offer suggestions on word usage and sentence structure as warranted.

Our staff has many years of writing, editing and proofreading experience in a wide range of genres from nonfiction, white papers and self-help books to creative writing efforts such as poems, mysteries, juvenile, science fiction, fantasy and romance. We will perform these services affordably with quick turnaround.

As a value-added bonus, will post two reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and  Becca’s Chopra’s Book Blog  to kickstart the sales of your work.

Thanks for visiting. Please tell your friends and colleagues about us and sign up for our updates as we begin our journey to writing a NOVEL IN A MONTH.

Happy writing,

R. R. Harris

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com