Tag Archives: Writing

In the Words of…. Grammar Police

Today we’ll handle two grammar faux pas at once.

First of all, something I didn’t think about as a problem and will have to watch to see if I’m perpetrating – When to use “Into” vs “In To”

This extremely quick and helpful article from Writer’s Digest discusses the differences made by the space bar and how to easily remember which version is correct while you write.

Following that, take a peek at how Grammar Police feel about Accepting and Excepting.

This less quick article from Writing Forward gives some helpful tips on keeping the homophones Accept and Except separated in your mind. Their major tip? To Acknowledge is to Accept, and Except is used in Exceptional cases.

…That will definitely make more sense once you’ve read Melissa Donovan’s full explanation.

Be free, my fellow writers! Discover how to avoid these two offenses, and the Grammar Police will steer clear of you that much more.

Ciao Tutti,

RM

In the Words of Literary Agents…

Ultra-Special Scribbles (formally and maybe will be once again Ultra-Special Blah Blah Blah) is a book blog, although I know most of the normal posts aren’t about books at all.

So to take it back to what matters most to me, let’s talk about this great little article:

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents.

Not only is the article extremely simple, but it is also very useful for aspiring novelists. Read through the comments from literary agents across the genres to see if you’re making a faux pas in your first chapter – which may be the only thing any agent will ever read from you.

It’s important to make a good first impression.

As Chuck Sambuchino, the article’s author, says, “Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!”

Ciao Tutti!

RM

In the Words of Gail Carson Levine

Once again I find words of inspiration and wisdom from this lovely YA author.

“You will sometimes write paragraphs of staggering loveliness. You will! Probably you already have. You’ll want to have those paragraphs tattooed on your forehead where everyone will see them. Then you’ll discover that they don’t help you tell your story. Do not do not DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT bend your story to accommodate your brilliant words.”

– Gail Carson Levine, Writing Magic

When writing or creating art in any form, it is never helpful to try and retroactively force a work to fit a new piece. Instead, save that piece of beauty. Put it away for later. Finish what you’ve started and use that brilliant bit for the next project or the one after that.

I came up with a frame of a story once but I had no filling for it. So I put it aside. I came up with a filling once, but no idea how to connect it. So I put it aside. I later realized they could fit together. Although I have not begun work on their joint project, they found they could work together. What crummy work would I have produced if I had tried to force these pieces into an unwilling union with whatever ideas I’d been scribbling out at the time of their conception?

Do not hurt yourself to produce art.

That is the most important thing I can think of to sum this all up. Do not become a detriment to yourself in favor of one small paragraph of brilliance. You will hurt your art, and you will forever be upset at yourself for the outcome. Instead of forcing it, save that piece for later. Or, if you must, discard that piece forever. You may hate yourself for a time, but it wasn’t meant to be and you will eventually understand that your work was better for it.

Ciao tutti,

RM

Reading and Reading

Turns out that the reflections I have to do each week for my internship at The Florida Review are actually rather course specific. I mention submissions to the magazine in detail and why I liked or disliked them. There is a small portion where I describe what I’ve learned or noticed about being an editor, but it is never enough to make a whole post about.

My reflections are not publicly decent.

That throws out my idea of using them as my weekly blog posts. Oh well.

In other news, I’m reading more lately. I set a goal for myself this year – 12 books in 12 months – on GoodReads. I’m reading several books at once right now. I just finished The Hunger Games and have started Catching Fire. I’m reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and I’m reading Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. They’re all such different styles, but I love them all the same.

It’s not against the rules to read multiple books at the same time, even if those books aren’t in the same vein or genre or length. The point of reading is to enjoy yourself, so having a few isn’t a problem. It just means you have several to choose from depending on your mood.

I’ve been setting a reading goal for a few years now and have always met it, even though the numbers have always been low compared to some of my friends – usually 10 or 12. Have you ever set a reading goal, with a website or with yourself? Did you meet it? Surpass it?

Its a good feeling, finishing a book or reaching a reading goal. I recommend it if you’re looking for a simple kind of goal to try for.

Thanks for reading.

Ciao Tutti!

~RM

ps. In a different turn of events, I have become more active in posting to my Facebook pages. If you want to get a more regular thought from me, follow my personal Facebook like page. I also have my movie review blog’s like page, and of course I have the like page for The Rose Chateau. I’m trying to keep up with all of those more regularly.

I’ve discovered I’m terrible at twitter and keeping up with that, but if you can tell me how to link my Facebook with my Twitter so my like page posts will go to my Twitter, that would be fantastic, and I would suddenly be tweeting all the time. Let me know if that’s possible.

Looking to the Past, Stepping into the Future

Well how fast did I epically fail my last New Year Resolution? Keep up a regular posting schedule… ha! Well here’s to the same plan this year.

I’m making a queue on my tumblr so there will, hopefully, always be something going up once or twice a day from me. I have Twitter on my phone, so I’ll see if I can keep up with that now too. And as for blogging, I think my internship this semester will help with that.

This semester I am part of The Florida Review internship, helping to produce a non-profit, national literary journal. At the end of the semester, my name will appear on the masthead of the editions I help create. As part of the class portion of the internship, I have to write a journal each week about what I’ve learned that week from the course and the internship. I plan to use those as at least jumping points for blog posts, because they will apparently be a great inside look at how I grow and what I think of the editing job/business.

Also, this blog has been updated a bit. I used it in a course last semester as proof of my ‘Author site’ and some classmates gave me points on how to improve the site. The ‘About It All’ page now includes my email in case anyone wants to message me privately or ask me a question. The information has been updated. I have a link page to other pages I think you would all enjoy if you’re into the same things as me, and I hope you are. If you have any suggestions for other links to be added, be sure to hit me up in a comment or email!

Here’s to hoping we all have great years ahead of us!

Ciao tutti,

RM

So Quotable – In the Words of… You!

 

The above photo is a quote from the novel I’m currently working on. It is, perhaps, one of my favorite lines so far written, although it’s for a scene that has not yet happened.

Have you ever seen one of those beautiful quote images with one of your favorite writer quotes or actor quotes on them and wondered how to make them? Have you really wanted to find out how to create them because you know of a really good, underrepresented quote to put on one?

Well, thanks to the internet, I have found a nifty little site to cure all of those problems. Recitethis.com lets you input your own words and pick a template to put them on. Then you can share the image on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or your own blog.

I enjoy it because it makes my own words look large, important, and professional. I believe I’ll keep a few of these, filled with my own words, to inspire me whenever I feel like I’m slipping in my resolve to my work. Since I found it so useful, I thought someone else might as well, so go. Make yourself feel important and immortalize yourself with a quote or two – or twenty.

Ciao Tutti,

RM

Revisionist or Perfectionist

I recently re-enrolled at my university after having already graduated in May with a Bachelors of Arts in English. Since I majored in Literature, I couldn’t reapply for Creative Writing – although my entire plan was to become a better editor through such a program. Why not? Because they are both English degrees. Because I couldn’t major in Creative Writing, I’m minoring in it and majoring in Journalism.

Let me be clear – I have no interest in becoming a journalist full-time. Maybe I’ll write articles on the side about my field or about travel, but I have no intention of becoming a war correspondent or a news reporter on camera.

The class, however, is teaching me to question the world, to ask why and how and to keep my curiosity of life aflame. It’s showing me how to stay connected with my community and pushing me to expand my horizons. I like this class for this reason.

I am also learning something about other writers.

In class, we have in-class writings where we must answer a question, discuss it with our neighbors, and then discuss our ideas in class. Today I realized that the three closest people to me in the classroom all have something in common. They write out their answers, grab a new piece of paper, and re-write it. The young woman in front of me reworded hers a bit. The young man beside me sometimes rewrites the entire thing. The other girl near me seems to be doing it to make it neater.

I just write my answer to the best of my ability and leave it. I sat in class this past Monday while others kept writing and wondered if I was weird for already being done, for not rewriting it like my classmates. My decision at the end? I’m not weird. I just don’t edit quick answer, in-class writing assignments to make them sound ‘better’.

My question now is… do they rewrite their work in class because they think it could be better or because they’re perfectionists or do they even know why they do it? I thought about it, and I can understand reworking a short story you’re about to send off or a journalistic piece you hope to publish, but an in-class, quick answer assignment hasn’t quite fit the bill for me. I wrote my answer, thought it was brilliantly done, and waited for someone near me to finish so I could discuss with them. Unfortunately, no one finished before we skipped on to ‘discuss with the class’, but we all had a brilliant class discussion.

So what do you think? Do you rewrite your in-class prompts/assignments? Do you save editing like that for essays or creative pieces you plan to get graded on or get published? Do you do both? Why? I’m really, honestly curious.

Ciao Tutti,

RM

Time to Get Serious About Writing

I’ve been flakey. I’ve been distracted. I’ve been tuned out and turned off and spun around. I’ve been depressed, but not in a sad way. I’ve been disinterested, is what I’m saying. I need to get a hold on things, get in tune with what I want in life.

I love having a social site presence, but I think it’s time I did it through a professional manner and not my personal one. I think I need a new tumblr – one about me and not just for reblogging all the cute things I love. I think I need to focus on my twitter feed with all the agents and publishers and editors I follow. I believe I need to keep up with this blog so that my style, my voice, and my true opinion and optimism can shine.

What’s standing in my way? Myself. Right now, sitting in my little corner of the new apartment, surrounded by empty and full boxes, all alone while my sister is shopping and my boyfriend is at work, I’m content. I’m happy. I’m ready to go. What will happen when they get home? Distractions. I need to stop focusing on other people and just do what I need to do. I need to stop everything and be more professional.

I’ve lost the joy I once had in reading, and I almost have to force myself to write, but I still love them both. I’m going to start today and reintroduce myself to who I was before I got caught up in what I ‘needed’ to do and instead find out what I ‘want’ to do. Where those two intercept is what is important.

Starting today, I spend a little more of my focus on improving my writing, on keeping up with my professionals, and on actually moving forward.

I’ll stay positive about this until proven otherwise. Help me stay positive, everyone.

Also, does anyone know how to become a book editor?

Ciao tutti!

RM

In the Words of John Steinbeck

Ever feel like no one appreciates your work? You’re friends and family praise you and one random stranger, but two other strangers rip into your work and so none of the others feel like the truth?

Take this note from famous author, John Steinbeck:

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.”

If you enjoy writing, if someone you know enjoys it too, if you’re insanely popular – no matter what your critics say, just remember that you aren’t writing for them. You’re writing for you.

And that’s all I have to say about it.

Ciao Tutti

RM

Plot Lesson

Part lesson, part excerpt. Two birds with one stone.

I got an idea about a year ago, a person in a car accident and a horn blaring loud in the background. However, I had nowhere to put it so I wrote it down and stored it away. Then, about a week after my birthday this year, I walked around school unable to get it out of my head. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to use it for – a new novel, completely separate from my other ideas.

So I typed it up in Scrivener and decided to make the novel have parts, one each for different stages of life, beginning with childhood. I wrote the first scene, with the car horn, and the first meeting of two small child who will be my protagonists.

I stopped.

Why did I stop? Because beyond these two small scenes, I honestly have no clue where I’m going with this. I know a scene in the middle and a scene near the end and I know I want it to be one of those great romance novels up there with Nicholas Sparks’ work. Unlike most of my work, there won’t be any magical elements or fantastical things happening. It’s just going to be normal. I only have one other book planned like that, but while the ideas could be merged, I don’t plan to do that. I want this one to be something fresh. The issue is finding out what exactly I want to happen.

The great thing about a plot is that it usually changes two or three times while writing a novel. The idea stays the same, but how it happens tends to change. I once read the beginning of a guide on how to write a novel in 100 days. One of the things the guide says to do is to write the ending of the book on a note card or  spare paper. Write it as detailed as you want it, stick it in a drawer, and forget about it. Then, once you’ve written the novel, you’ll take out the paper and see just how much it changed.

The exact quote is from Day 21:

Write down the last paragraph of your novel and put it in the drawer. At the end of a hundred days, lets see how close you came to following your imagination.

The guide is more of a how to begin and how to keep motivated up to a good way through, but it’s all good knowledge for a writer. I may even use it late for a ‘In the Words of’ blog. Something else the guide says is to always know how the story is going to end. It may not be specifics, since the last scene will undoubtedly change, but it’s good to know who lives and who dies and what goal is accomplished inevitably.

Right now I’m working on the overall goal and the specifics of my characters. It’s time to figure out what makes them tick so that I can really sit down and write their story – after maybe reading some Nicholas Sparks or David Nicholls or something to really get in the mood.

Are you having trouble with a plot in your novel? I do suggest reading some of the guide up there. Each day up to where I read is about a paragraph long and really shouldn’t take a whole day (things like ‘decide on a schedule of when to write’ or ‘stay confident’ are entire days). One thing it says that I completely agree with is to make your characters and your plot simultaneously, as neither can survive without the other. I’ve got the start of my characters and I’m moving on to decide their pasts, their futures, and their personalities. My plot will grow with them. Yours will grow with your characters as well.

And now, because I’m really kind of proud of it – the first scene with the car horn. Let me know what you think:

The loud tone rang through the evening air like a pathetic alarm clock, one that had lost its purpose and no longer understood it was meant to stop eventually. Several years passed in the slow moment between the first notice of it and the realization of its identity as the horn of a car. It seemed another month passed before all sense of sound disappeared so as to give space to the other sensations. In the place where ears used to work, the other senses flared up. The air was static charged over a turbine, vibrating around the space. Its warmth was a brilliant contrast to the coolness of the round object pressed against her cheek. On the other hand, her cheek was about the only part of her body that didn’t ache in the aftermath of the accident that put her here.

With great difficulty, memories floated in circles around her head like birds in a cartoon. She tried to grab them, piece together why her eyes wouldn’t open and why everything hurt. How long had she been here? How long had she been trying to figure out these answers? Each moment, each passing second felt like a lifetime… or, she believed it must be seconds. She couldn’t have been sitting here as long as she felt she was. The horn was still blaring, although she felt it more than heard it now. It filled her with the immediacy of needing to know. Why was the horn blaring? Why did it not stop? Why couldn’t she remember?

A breeze pushed by her, warm and tingling and smelling of gasoline and air conditioners. She tried to piece the smells together, but the warmth touched her heart and she thought of him before all other things. She couldn’t remember how she got here, but she knew one thing – she hadn’t been alone. Who had been with her, she couldn’t place. Where or why were blurs, but she knew there had been a man with her, and the horn told her to be afraid.

The breeze pushed harder past her face, bringing with it only warmth and no specific smells. She felt her whole body convulse in the effort to remember the last few days, the last few minutes – for she was sure it was minutes and not years that brought her to this place. Then the warmth of the breeze brought to her mind the clearest memory of a green lawn and a summer day. She knew without knowing how she knew that he was nearby, somewhere under the hot July sun that made her brow sweat and her heart die in her chest.