Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Leave a Tip On The Blood-Red Pencil and Share

On every second Tuesday of the month, The Blood-Red Pencil offers you a chance to share and shine. We encourage you to offer a tip for fellow writers to help them along the way.

We've had much success with this feature in the past, because for one thing, writers belong to a giving community. It's not at all unusual for writers to help one another over rough patches in writing or ways to achieve publication.

Do you have a tip that's proven valuable to you? Something you keep in mind when you write or edit a manuscript? Or, maybe how to get your manuscript published?

Here's one of mine -

SET A REALISTIC GOAL.
You may know writers who can whip out tons of words each day, but that's not you. Perhaps you have a day job or a family to care for, or other commitments. You can barely find time to sit down before the computer and type anything. Don't berate yourself for not doing what for you is impossible. Pick something you can do and do your best to stick to it. Maybe it's writing a page a day, or one every few days, or even a week. The main thing is you're writing, and moving in the right direction. You'll get there at your own pace, but at least you'll get there.

That's my tip. What's yours? Please share by letting us know in the comment section below. Also, include your name, and one blogspot or website url, since readers may be impressed by your tip and want to learn more about you. As always, we do appreciate your input about where you've heard from us, but it's not mandatory to do so.

Morgan Mandel


http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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33 comments :

  1. To exercise your fingers and your mind take a photo, picture, ad from a magazine photo, any visual and climb into the photo, into one of the MINDS of people in the photo...become that person and relate what is going on in the photo from that perspective. Working finger exercise for POV.

    Take a story you have already written in one point of view and retell it, rewrite from another charcter's point of view....another POV finger exercise.

    Thirdly, take a story you have written in first person, and staying with the same POV character, rewrite the entire story using third person. Or reverse that with a 3rd person story, rewrite to first person perspective. A major finger exercise is this! So much one learns of how verbs change with first to third Person narrative.

    Just some things I put my students through to earn their wings. Amazes me what people come up with in The End.

    rob

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  2. Give your Fantasy characters real human emotions, like love, hate, fear, joy, anxiety, etc. Even though they are imaginary lycans, demons, shape shifters, dragons, they become more believable to your readers if they can relate to them.

    Marion Webb-De Sisto
    www.marionwebb-desisto.com

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  3. My tip of the day: Pay attention to what you are skipping over -- it may be what your reader really wants to see unfold on the page. Many writers (myself included) have a tendency to explore reactions after a conflict when exploring them within the moment of conflict may make the reader feel as if they are living it. For example, if you write about a bullying incident, "I tried to stay out of the Big D's way, because when I didn't, I tended to get knocked to the ground." That's clear, and lots of readers understand and relate to the experience. But more powerful is to put the character in a position to have to be in Big D's way and get knocked to the floor, exploring the reactions as he makes those split second decisions to engage/run away, escalate, deal with the bullying.

    I usually find these opportunities in revision, I admit. I'm a wimp when it comes to tormenting my characters in the first go around.

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  4. Sharing a quote from Joe Konrath that I found inspirational today. "There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published." I have always believed tenacity can win out.

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  5. Last month tips included one from Mona Risk (www.monarisk.com) that was one of the best editing tips I've ever had -- it was to convert your MS into a PDF, then go to the View tab and click on the Read Aloud function, and your computer will read aloud to you. I could not believe how many errors I caught this way! Although the PDF Lady (my computer's voice is female) has some strange ideas about pronunciation. She pronounced the word "referral" as reFAYrul, she doesn't think "Jan" or "Cal" is a person's name, so "Jan Smith" became "January Smith" and "Cal Jones" became "Calendar Jones" -- but aside from these peculiarities, I echo Mona's generous tip -- try this! Thank you, Mona.

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  6. In late, out early. Every scene.

    Know where your story begins. I read a book a little while ago that was really pretty good, but the first five chapters were a waste of time and paper.

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  7. You get up full of enthusiasm and determination. You create a new document, or open your notebook on a new page and...you are faced with nothing! It's blank. It's daunting. How to overcome it? Write that bit that's been pulling and tugging at you, the bit that you can't wait to get on with. That will get you off to a good start, and you can always go back and fill in the gaps. It helps to keep the writer's block at bay. It works for me every time.

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  8. Oooo. I love that "read aloud" tip. I'm a big believer on reading your stuff aloud yourself, for flow and such, but I'll bet you do catch more errors and wordy sentences and such when the computer reads it aloud to you.

    My tip is:
    As a writer, you can make a story or scene go wherever and with whomever you need or want it to go. The trick is to make your characters need/want it to happen that way more than you.

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  9. Geez, you all have such great tips ... the best I can come up with is Adios Charlie in the third at Aqueduct.

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  10. When I am having a problem with setting I take a break from the computer, close my eyes, and imagine my character on a movie screen. When he opens the door, what does he see? Where does he go? What's important in that moving picture that will take the reader into the action with him? It works for me but I confess to being a true-blue movie addict.

    http://mysteryandme.blogspot.com/

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  11. One of my favorite habits is to keep a notebook full of pictures, people, places that trigger creativity for me.

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  12. I hate rewriting, so I've started to consider my first draft to be a really long synopsis. Then I'm ready to actually write the book!

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  13. This tip is fresh in my mind because I was just discussing this with an author:

    Stick to basic dialogue tags like: said and ask. Only use others on occasion. Changing to a different dialogue tag every other paragraph, or even every few, is melodramatic, presents the author as an amateur, but, most importantly, pulls the reader out of the story.

    If you find that you are getting bored with said/asked and you need to identify who is speaking, use an action. However, if an action doesn't make sense and it really needs a dialogue tag, use the dialogue tag. Just choose one that is innocuous. :)

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  14. -Drink lots and lots of coffee.
    -Make sure the air conditioning is set just right.
    -Walk around the house a few times.
    -Raid the fridge.
    -Think about choosing another profession, but talk yourself out of it.
    -See what the dog's up to.
    -See what the kid's are up to.
    -Start that scarf you've always wanted to knit.
    -Google "knitting"
    Oh, wait...was today not "Tips on Procrastination?"

    Writing?

    Mmmm....ok, well, after you do all of the above, sit back down and type something..anything. The words will flow again..eventually. Gonna go walk around some more.

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  15. Hi Everyone. As an editor the best advice I can give you is know what it is you are writing about. If you have elements in your plot you are not totally conversant with, do your research. Research the subject thoroughly, understand the nuances of it clearly. You won't use all the information you glean from your research but it will help you weave a rich, colourful story. Often during my reseach I find ideas for new stories or spin off stories from the WIP I am doing research for.
    Just my two cents worth for the day.
    Happy writing Nancy

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  16. BRP editors, we really need to bring some of these fine tips to our front page. Kim, can you handle the read-aloud tip with creds to Mona?

    My tip based on a week of reading: don't use an ellipsis when a period will do nicely. In fact, a period will usually make the author and the character sound much more decisive. What is with all the dangling... I ask you. What is with all the dangling? I've asked you twice. ;)

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  17. Emily, our second half this month has a theme of "research". Would you like to guest post about it?

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  18. Great suggestions so far. Keep them coming!

    Now I'm curious about the voice in my computer and will have to check that out!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  19. Know the basics. We all make mistakes, but nothing stops a reader faster than a writer who consistently (frequently) writes "their" when she means "there," or "the box was to large for the shelf." Or who abuses punctuation. Remember the goal of writing is to communicate. It's okay to break the rules occasionally, but you want to be the writer who breaks a rule to prove a point - not the one who breaks the rule because you don't know any better.

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  20. The more you know, the more you realize you don't know.
    But, of course, trust in yourself and your skills. Don't let one bad critique or contest knock you down!

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  21. My two main tips are: read, read, read. And--never give up if you want to be published.

    One little trick. If a scene isn't working in the POV you've chosen, write it from another one. You don't have to use that one, but it may open up something. Switching third and first person works well, too.

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  22. Wow, I am really loving all these tips. I am going to offer one I picked up from Elizabeth Spann Craig. Time yourself and write for an hour, then spend five minutes doing some social networking. This is the first of my latest five minutes. One more blog to visit, then it is back to work.

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  23. These are some great suggestions and I will be implementing a few. Good advice I heard is from two well known authors, SEP (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)who sets a timer to write two hours a day. If she stops to answer emails, go to the bathroom, she stops the timer. The other advice was from Stephen King in his "On Writing" which I struggle with but usually give in...getting rid of your little darlings. Sometimes I write something and want to keep it in a sentence regardless if the sentence isn't working. I'll map a trail to the other side of the world to make it work...now I'm learning to just take it out.

    Anyway...great post today. Thanks everyone.

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  24. How about write for 50 minutes, take a 5-minute visual break, then a 5-minute social networking round to warm up for the next 50 minutes of writing? Breaks from the computer to rest the eyes and wet the whistle are a good thing!

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  25. Assuming that your characters "talk" to you during the night like mine tend to do, my advice is: Write dialogue in the morning. Fill in around it in the afternoon.

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  26. From some of the suggestions, I take it I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to tear myself away from social networking.

    As for the one about breaking the rules and using incorrect spelling, even though I know how to spell words, my fingers sometimes type the wrong spelling automatically, such as do for due, etc. That's why editing is so important.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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  27. Here's a classic example of your latest comment, Morgan. I was telling someone a story set in an antique store. Except my fingers typed "antic store" and I didn't catch it before I hit send. I got a few pokes and jokes in retaliation for that one. It's an aging thing when we type weird stuff like that. We discuss this often at the BRP office. In fact, this phenomenon deserves its own blog post, too.

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  28. Thanks for these!!!! -- BrendaW.

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  29. I always tell teens when I'm in English class with them: "Barf it out now, clean it up later." If you don't allow your brain to be creative by writing whatever flows out of it, then you won't have anything to edit or work with.

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  30. Every writer needs at least one what Joel Goldberg refers to as an "intelligent reader". Find someone you trust with the skills and honesty to tell you what doesn't work and turn off your ego while you listen to that person.

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  31. Didn't have the time to read all the comments, so not sure if this has been said, but I'd say the best advise I received is not to compare yourself to other writers. Everyone has their own pace, capabilities, and special talent. We are each unique and each have something to offer.

    And, I'm sure this has been said: perseverance is key. Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times!

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  32. Don't be in too much of a hurry to get to publication. Beginning writers don't know how much they don't know, and most writers at all experience levels have a hard time judging their own work. Take classes, participate in critique groups, get *professional* feedback, and accept that learning to be a great writer takes years.

    Many of us who are published look back at our earlier manuscripts with great relief that they never made it into print. Self-publishing offers a shortcut, but that doesn't mean you should take it!

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  33. If you find writing far easier than editing, as I always have, I'll recommend an in depth online class. It is really clearing some murky waters for me. It's teacher and psychologist Margie Lawson's Edits Class, available at WriterUniv.com. You can also get her lecture packets at MargieLawson.com. When lost in the editing forest, she gives a clear path through.

    http://RetiredInTheRockies.blogspot.com

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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