Today is Groundhog Day, the day in the United States when a little groundhog named Phil becomes a media star. Phil emerges to check for his shadow, and millions of Americans find out if they have to suffer six more weeks of winter OR if they will enjoy an early spring. Phil might be the solitary prognosticating groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania today, but as a writer, you are not alone.
In Phil’s honor, I am unveiling a new bookmark today. It’s filled with descriptive verbs you can use for creating great dialogue, moving descriptions of Phil’s antics, or great sentences in any style or genre you write. Print this out on card stock for a handy reference that’s always at the ready—and another big thank you to artist Ginny Millard at www.banyantreestudio.com for creating it. Please visit Ginny’s website and let her know how much you appreciate having all these fantastic word choices at your fingertips.
As an editor, I’ve made no bones about my preference for past tense in both fiction and memoir writing. And I know I’m not alone. Yet there seems to be a movement toward writing in present tense, and there have been some passionate blogs written about the past versus present debate. In a blog titled “Does (or Did) Tense Matter?” D. Thomas Minton wrote:
“Stories in the present tense feel more urgent and immediate to me—I feel like I’m there with the characters, instead of listening to the story after-the-fact, while sitting in the cozy comfort of a coffee shop. In contrast, the temporal distance that comes with past tense removes this immediacy, but past tense is more conducive to reflection, as if the narrator has had a chance to digest what has happened to him or her prior to telling me.”
Twice a day I check Twitter and WordPress for information I think my followers will appreciate, and when I find valuable content, I post links to articles and blogs on my Facebook page. The information on that page is quite different from my blog posts, and if you’re not there, you’re missing some great stuff!
If you’re reading this and you haven’t already “liked” my Facebook page, please do so now–I know you’ll find valuable content there, and I try not to duplicate what you’ll find on my blog. Thanks for the follow! And please tell your friends! 🙂 Click here to join today–you’ll be glad you did! —Candace
You write for many reasons, but whether writing is your passion, your vocation, or something you are just beginning to do, I’m willing to bet that you write because it makes you happy.
Think about the way you feel when you know you’ve nailed a page of dialogue . . . or your article is accepted for publication in a national magazine . . . or you’re offered representation from a literary agent.
I recently had to write some copy for the back cover of a client’s book, and I avoided this writing for days. Sound familiar?
As writers we often find ourselves at the mercy of the ideas that one day flow faster than we can type, yet the next day apparently have a strong desire to hide like dust bunnies under the bed—they scatter as soon as we get close to them.
When the latter happens, we find a million and one things to do other than write (I see you nodding!). I’ve noticed many bloggers writing recently about NOT writing—and I totally get it. Whether you dabble at writing as a hobby or you make your living this way, you’ll always have days when you reach The Procrastination Station* and just can’t get going.
(*Thanks to my good friend, Angela Rose, founder of PAVE: Promoting Awareness/Victim Empowerment for the use of this phrase. Learn more about Angela and PAVE here.)
From Friday, January 11 through Sunday, January 13, you have a chance to download a free Kindle version of What’s Your Book?, an aspiring author’s guide to completing the dream to become a published author. This comprehensive guide gives you the best info from innovative publishing professional Brooke Warner, who is one of my personal heroes in the publishing world; learn more about her here.
In five chapters, What’s Your Book? will help you discover how to:
embrace the art of becoming an author;
get over common hurdles that prevent you from finishing your book;
You’ve written a chapter of your memoir, or the first page of your novel, or a writing contest entry. You’ve meticulously self-edited, and now you want to know if what you’ve written “works” for readers . . . so what’s the next step?
Now it’s time for a writers’ group, aka a critique group. Writers’ groups come in all shapes and sizes—some specialize in genres, others are based on common geography, and still others operate online. Whichever type you choose, you’ll find an abundance of free help from others who love to write. Even experienced writers understand the benefit of the unique perspectives each group member provides.
Critique group members can help you identify global issues in your writing, such as unclear meaning, stilted dialogue, overuse or incorrect use of particular words, and patterns of error in punctuation. They can also help you with grammar issues, plot inconsistencies, a story line that doesn’t work, and character development. They are also invaluable for brainstorming on everything from titles to plot lines to ideas on where and how to tighten your writing.
You may have to try a few groups before you find one that works for you, but you’ll find it is well worth the time and effort. In addition to critiquing your work, group members can be a source for great ideas on workshops, books about writing, and other related information.
Once you’ve received feedback from group members, you’ll be armed with many different ideas. You’ll find some of those ideas aren’t workable for you, but others will give you an “a-ha” moment, a moment when you ask yourself, “Of course, why didn’t I see that?” You’ll be reinvigorated about your writing and refocused on getting your paper, article, blog, or book ready for publication.
If you use a critique group for beta reading or any other part of your editing process, I hope you’ll share your experiences. And if you know of a great on-line critique group for authors to check out, please include the link in the comments.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalImages.net