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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Write Faster, Earn More

29 Nov
typewriter, writing, editing

A Hermes Rocket typewriter from the 1950′s

This article is not intended for novelists.  While novelists are certainly welcome to read it, I doubt you’ll find anything useful to your calling here.  This article is intended for those who write magazine articles, blog post/web content, and perhaps short stories or brief memoir pieces.

While the admonition of “write faster” may seem self-explanatory on the surface, it goes way beyond just hitting the keys at a higher rate of speed.  Although that too can help.  Isaac Asimov was once being interviewed by Barbara Walters. In between two of the segments she asked him, ”But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?” He said, “Type faster.”1

One of the things I like best about being a freelance writer over being a cubicle dweller or factory worker is the aspect that it’s up to me to decide how much I work and how much I earn.  As a corporate employee I worked so many hours a week and got a paycheck for a certain amount every two weeks.  Other than the rare opportunity for overtime, I had little to do with how much time I put in or the pay I took away.

As a freelancer, it is entirely — well, mostly — up to me to decide when I work and how much I get paid.  No work: no pay, work hard: get paid well, simple as that.  Mostly.  But it’s more than just keeping my nose to the grindstone longer.  I can eek out more profit by making that time count for more by working smarter, not just longer.  Here’s how that works.

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The Emotion of Words

25 Oct
words, word pictures, writing, narrative, story

by Smock Art

Words carry a lot of meaning.  I don’t mean that in the sense of synonyms and homonyms, but in the sense that the way we construct our sentences and phrases can carry – or not – far more meaning than the words alone should.  It’s sometimes called “word pictures”

If you want to paint a mental picture of a girl who is sickly and frail, you would do well to stay away from the words “light” or “fair” in describing her skin and use “pale” or “ashen”.  A dog that is scrawny will likely be viewed as unhealthy, while “slender” or “thin” may be viewed as fit and toned.  If moving a bag or package, “hoisted”, “heaved” or “hefted” brings to mind a good deal of weight while “tossed” or “flipped” indicates a light load and easy task.  A good thesaurus will help you find alternate words and a dictionary will help make sure you’re using them correctly.  But it goes beyond this.

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Interview or e-Terview: When and Why

18 Oct

interview, Q&A imageIn our modern world of highly connected, internet based communications writers sometimes resort to e-mailing questions to an interview subject instead of doing a personal or telephone interview.  Whether this is a good thing or bad thing depends on a lot of factors.   Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Interview like a Pro: Think like a Shrink

05 Oct
therapy, interview, interviewing

Courtesy sftherapy.com

My writerly background is primarily non-fiction and journalism.  As such, I’ve done a lot of interviews.  Along this journey I’ve learned a few tricks: one is to approach an interview as a therapist would approach a patient.

In college I took some psychology classes: not to become a therapist but to learn what makes people tick.  These classes helped a great deal in this regard and in dealing with people in general.

I found this particularly helpful while I was working with a Smoky Mountain Visitors Guide, for which I was interviewing a different Smoky Mountains region artist each month.  The articles were full-page spreads and needed to be in depth and interesting.  Artists *can* be kind of high-strung.  Here are a few of the tricks I developed.    Read the rest of this entry »

 

Writing Lessons from the Garden

14 May

I lay claim to the title Professional Writer because I make an income from selling my articles and books.  I am also an amateur gardener: because I do NOT make any income from it.  I had once considered selling excess produce at the local Farmers Market, but that would mean getting up quite early on Saturdays and trundling a truckload of veggies over to a parking lot where I would HOPE that people would be willing to exchange cash for foodstuffs.  That lost its appeal once that ‘getting up early on Saturday’ thing became a tangible reality.  Still I have learned some lessons from gardening that apply well to other areas of life, even life as a writer.

garden, raised bed gardening, writing lessons

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A Little Creative Writing: The Daily Tromp

13 Nov

The old man struggles at the slow end of the leash as his 80 pound bulldog, Cochise, strains like a John Deere at the other; dragging them both up the steep, winding mountain path.

Daily Tromp 8822The path was once a crude dirt road; just a common access for owners of property on the undeveloped, upper portion of the mountain. For several years an occasional 4-wheel drive pick-up would trek up the mountain to release hunting dogs, cut firewood to haul home, or just enjoy a few hours sitting in the woods soaking up the solitude.  Then, for a while only ATVs went up there to rip and snort along the path and tear new trails through virgin woods.  The old man was glad when the kids lost interest in their new toys and stopped coming.  It had been a year or more since anyone went up the old road.  No maintenance had been done, not even the farmer who occasionally used his tractor to drag a scraper blade along to even out the humps and ruts and shear off the saplings. Now those saplings were crowding in from the shoulders and taking over again. Trees had fallen, shattering branches all over and heavy rains were forming huge ruts and runnels that made the road difficult for any vehicle to navigate faster than a creep.

Only he and Cochise – occasionally his wife and a foster dog would accompany them a short ways; just to where it got steep – were the only ones to go up there.  They manage to keep a path trampled down for a half mile or so up the main route and a few hundred feet along a branch road. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Difficult Voices: First Person Plural

16 Oct

First person is a very common voice for writers to use in fiction, especially in mysteries and crime thrillers; this voice allows the reader to discover the plot as it unfolds through the protagonists eyes.

Harold said, “I never knew her.” But I knew he was lying. I knew for a fact that Harold and Liz went to school together, shared a few classes and even dated for a while after they graduated. Why was he lying? I decided not to press the point just yet; I’d dangle a rope and see if he’d hang himself first.

First person can be limiting because the reader can only experience what the POV character knows, or experiences.  This means that the scope of the novel needs to be fairly tight.  Using multiple POV characters (first person serial) can expand the view considerably. Generally this is done by letting characters take turns in relating events as the story unfolds. Sometimes someone does something unusual such as in Levi Montgomery’s The Death of Patsy McCoy where the same story is retold through the eyes of several characters and each retelling reveals new facets of the complete story. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Difficult Voices: Second Person in Fiction – Bully

02 Oct
bully, bullying, writing, second person

via BullyingProject.com

Second Person as a writing voice is quite common in non-fiction, particularly instructive non-fiction: “First you do this, then you do that, make sure you haven’t forgotten to lock down the sniggletharp.”  Sometimes the ‘you’ is implied, “Insert tab A into slot B and twist to lock”.  But second person, though uncommon, can also be used in fiction and can be used quite effectively.

In first person, the reader may choose to become the character or may simply ‘listen’; “I noticed my shoe was untied and crouched to remedy the situation just as something whizzed close over my head.  Had I been standing just then it would have caught me across my chest.” The reader may interpret that statement as being the character or may accept it as though sitting across the table from a friend, each with a cup of coffee as he tells about an adventure.

Third person is a detached view, but far more versatile, “Dudley noticed his shoe was untied and stooped to remedy the situation just as the length of pipe flew across the room.  Had he still been standing, it would have caught him in the chest. Snydley snarled as the pipe missed its target, ‘Curses, foiled again.’” Read the rest of this entry »

 

Five Sentence Fiction: Orange

31 Jul
Lillie McFerrin

What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin posts a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction.  The word today is “orange”.

Here is my Five Sentence Fiction entry:

A lump formed in his throat as he watched the frame building burn; orange, red and vermillion illuminating the night. Wood crackled and hissed, glass shattered as pieces fell inward, collapsing. The fire consumed the house, and the memories; all those memories. Was it wrong? No, she deserved it: burn witch, burn.

* * * * * Read the rest of this entry »

 

Paraprosdokian Phrases

16 Apr

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.

Paraprosdokian Phrases

Ø   Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Ø   The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list. Read the rest of this entry »