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Monthly Archives: November 2012

When Analogies Go Bad – She had a Deep, Throaty, Genuine Laugh, like that Sound a Dog Makes before it Throws up….


Analogies….oh how so very bad they can become. I have to admit, I have had a few bad ones work their way into a manuscript from time to time too. They can be stealthy these little examples of really bad writing. As a writer we really have to pay attention to what we are comparing to what.

An analogy is supposed to enhance a story, give it some breath. Her heart fluttered like Monarch Butterflies lighting on nearby flowers….or he was overcome with a tsunami of emotion… Yes they do still sound a bit hokey when by them selves but in a moment of really passionate writing the right analogy is key to conveying the mood of the scene.

But what happens when they go bad? Here are some examples of really bad analogies…

  • He was as tall as a 6 ft. tree
  • From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7 instead of 7:30.
  • She grew on him like e Coli on room temperature Canadian beef.
  • Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  • He was as fast as lightning, but twice as stupid.
  • The computer was up and down like a hooker’s panties.
  • The nuclear missiles exploded across the face of the earth like there was no tomorrow.

AND one of my favorites….

  • Herb sat by his window and watched in roughly the way that an average potato, despite having 7.5 times as many eyes, wouldn’t.

Why oh why do people not read through these and realize how bad they are? The truth is we live in a world that requires instant writing and so many times the writer isn’t actually reading his/her own stuff. In the world of self-publishing this can be so, so bad. So my advice for today is, if you choose to use analogies, do so wisely. Make sure that you read them out loud to both yourself and to someone else. I have a nifty little app that will actually read my stuff to me so I can hear first-hand how stupid something may sound. Trust me…you don’t want to be the guy who writes…”The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease”…people will remember that and not in a good way….

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in grammar, Writing

 

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Christmas is Coming and I DO NOT Want…Boredom…Writers Just Wanna Have Fun


This is the next in our series of Christmas ideas for writers. One of the things that all writers need on a regular basis is fun. We live solitary lives and sometimes it gets really hard to hold to your sanity or sense of self-worth… So here are a few gift ideas that take our neediness into consideration and allow us to have a little fun along the way.

Limited Edition Hobbit Moleskine Notebooks – This are so cool. You don’t even have to be a Hobbit fan to enjoy them. (although since you are a writer, I’m guessing you know what a Hobbit is.) http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/f039/?pfm=geektoys_newest_f039_1#tabs

Schrödinger’s Cat Executive Decision Maker – This is just plain fun and is designed for your desk. Let the cat make all your decisions. http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e9cb/#tabs

Minibru – A Single-Serve French Press Mug – Okay, I drink coffee…not as much as a lot of writers, but hey, we do have a rep for being caffeine fiends. This cool little mug is a mini French press. Maybe with it you can write….REALLY FAST! http://www.coolthings.com/minibru-is-a-single-serve-french-press-mug/

Story Sofa – This is one of the coolest things I have found yet. If you live in a place with limited space it is hard to find places to write. This sofa is perfect for the writer with writing space issues. http://www.coolthings.com/story-space-saving-sofa/

ErgoArc Work-In-Bed – This device is the answer to be that truly lazy writer who never even gets out of bed. It would be great for those Saturday mornings when you’d rather hang out in your PJ’s. http://www.coolthings.com/forget-work-at-home-ergoarc-lets-you-work-in-bed/

So these are this week’s gift ideas. Arguably there are a couple that are a bit more expensive but, hey, we deserve it!

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Writing

 

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Vote Now


Write to Done is running their annual Top 10 Blogs for Writers Contest. Make sure to stop by and vote for the blogs that you think are the most interesting and helpful!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Writing

 

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Are You a Writer Who Writes Manuscripts or Books?


I have several published books on the shelves and I have about 20 unpublished manuscripts at home in various forms. Some are hard copies, some are on my computer and one is even on floppy disk. (although I do have a working copy on my hard drive. I just can’t bring myself to throw the disk away) Having both books published and manuscripts written makes me a writer…however…one of these things makes me a writer who can finish a project. Are you a writer who can finish a project?

I have a lot of writer friends. Hell, I’m damn near 50 and by this time, since writing has been pretty much a lifestyle for me as well as a calling, I have more writer friends than a person can shake a stick at. (Note – another of those sayings I don’t get…shake a stick at? Why would I want to do that exactly?) Of these writer friends there are many who have never published a manuscript. Some of them are just that bad and should be running a pizza joint but others are incredible writers yet, publishing eludes them. Over the years I have often questioned my writer friends who don’t publish as to why and there is one reason that rings out more than others…they don’t follow through.

To be a published writer you have to do more than write. While it would be great to produce a manuscript and then have some book fairy show up, (think Vin Diesel or Salma Hayek in tights depending on your preference…)  and take it away and wham, you are published…but it just doesn’t work that way. There is a process to publishing and not all writers have it in them to do it. Then to make matters even more difficult, writers today have to market themselves too. It sucks. I personally would rather have a fairy.

Here’s the basics:

  1. Write an incredibly interesting manuscript.
  2. Edit said book
  3. Find 5 or so interesting publishers who publish your type of manuscript – Writer’s Market is good for this.
  4. Write a synopsis
  5. Write a Query letter – This is a lot harder than you think it is.
  6. Send your manuscript to 5 publishers.
  7. Get rejected
  8. Send manuscript out to 5 more publishers.
  9. Get rejected
  10. Repeat numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9 approximately 80 more times. (any more than that without positive feedback, it’s time to consider becoming a mortician)
  11. Publisher accepts manuscript but tells you to edit out all the interesting parts and write in a large blue bunny and it will be perfect.
  12. Manuscript is published
  13. Sell it to family and unsuspecting friends
  14. Realize that you have to do your own marketing which will end up costing you any advance you get (if you get one, you are lucky) and cry.
  15. Dry your eyes and spend the next 6 months trying to convince the world to read your book.
  16. Explain once again to your mother-in-law that yes you really are a writer and no, this isn’t your last book because you just got lucky this time around. (Listen to her tell your spouse that nice little Billy Warek became a banker and is still not married)

Writing is hard, publishing is harder but it can be done. You are still a writer if you have stacked up manuscripts in a steamer trunk somewhere (yes, I have one) but that isn’t the goal is it? Being a published writer is the goal and, sadly, there is a process we have to follow that, at times, isn’t so pleasant. This is the follow through and this is what many writers don’t do. I will admit that it is still, after all these years, difficult for me too because I, after all, don’t want to do the rest of the process; I just want to write. And I can do that….but that would just make me a writer who writes, not one that publishes. So what are you? A writer who writes manuscripts….or books…..????

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
 

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Knowing What We Know When We Know No One Else Knows


Writers are not necessarily “smart” people. I don’t really consider myself “smart”. What I do consider myself is “informed”. No, really…think about that for a minute… As writers we are required to research a lot. We are also required to pay attention to the world around us. We have to; it’s our fodder for current and future stories. Knowing what we know however can weigh heavy on a person. It can make you downright pessimistic if you aren’t careful.

So what is a writer to do, knowing what we know? How do we go on about our daily lives without letting it all get to us…you know…the actually world as it is happening, not as everyone else perceives it. I personally used to think that I could separate myself from it…be an “observer, like on that television show Fringe. (Great show by the way) But that isn’t possible because while writers are “observers” we are also some of the most passionate people I know too. We can’t “not” care…..

So what is the answer? How are we to remain writers who are informed and not crazy people shouting “the end is near”? The answer is in how we respond to all of the information we absorb. For me, and this is a personal thing, I have to do something to help on a regular basis. I have to know that I am trying to make a difference in this world gone mad. Sure I could sit around, be grumpy and Archie Bunker my way through life, (just dated myself there huh?) but I would rather try and use my writing powers for good and help. I volunteer my writing to charities, I write informative pieces on how others can help…I do what I can and I try to remain optimistic.

The final thing you can do as a writer is to understand that you are unlike most people. I get sort of a sadistic kick out of hearing uninformed people talk about what they think they know. Come on, admit it, it’s funny to hear folks talk about Dec. 21st…especially when you know that they really have no idea what they are talking about because they don’t do the research. I realize that I am not like everyone out there who believe everything they hear, I have to do the research…I am compelled…and if you are a writer…so are you.

So during this season of uncertainty in the world when there is talk of fiscal cliffs, Mayan doom and, here in America, states seceding…keep your chin up and use your powers of research and writing for good. When you hear folks spouting crap hat you know, based on the facts, isn’t true…talk to them so that they don’t go out and propagate that same crap in the world. With great power, comes great responsibility, (to quote a super hero) make sure that you use your power over words to make the world a better place and in, return you will get to keep your sanity because you will be sharing what you know with those who don’t know….you know?

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Research, Writing

 

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Reset Sunday- Shop, Shop, Shop…No Really it’s Research


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It’s that time of the year when people go crazy and shop until they are broke. Now I don’t advocate shopping until you are broke but I do however, advocate shopping in general. A Reset Sunday is a great time to put your keyboard aside and take advantage of the sales going on.

I use this time of the year to buy all of my writing supplies. Everything is on sale, like paper, pens, notebooks, software…anything a writer might need for the next year. Today I visited a Office Depo and got a great office chair for cheap. (Yeah commercialism…) I also picked up a case of paper and priced some new printers. If I don’t get all of the stuff on my Christmas list, you can bet I will be taking advantage of those after holiday sales.

There is one more thing that holiday shopping offers the writer….research. It’s is the one time of the year when every type of human possible is at the local mall…what a great opportunity! People watching is never better than this time of the year. I grab a note book and head for the nearest mall bench and take notes until the book is full. As a writer you can pick up on phrases, emotions and even the holiday argument…

So today or even next Reset Sunday, head to the nearest mall. First buy those supplies at cut rate prices and then spend some research time getting great character ideas. Hummm…..did I just give you a great reason to shop? (You can thank me later)

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Reset Sundays

 

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Let’s Get Real – Making Sure your story is Plausible


I am not a James Bond fan. Hold on, before my James Bond fans hang me in effigy…you can’t like everyone. One of the main reasons I don’t like James Bond is that many of the situations, and the ways that he gets out of them, aren’t plausible. I know, I know…the fun is often in watching someone do the impossible even if it’s fake, but sometimes stories go too far and that is where they lose little ol  me.

Our readers are not stupid. They are just like us only on the opposite end of the writing world. We write it, they read it…ying and yang…so if we write a scene and find ourselves saying, “wow, that was cool, but so not real”…chances are our readers are sitting on the other end of your book saying, “wow, that was ridiculous”.

I do believe in writing so that the reader suspends belief. If you want to add things in that seem, or are, impossible then you have the write the story in such a way that the reader asks “can they” and then leaves your story thinking, “maybe”. You cannot have your hero shot 900 times and survive because he was wearing bullet proof underwear…that’s ridiculous…however, you can have your hero shot 900 times and survive of he’s just invented a personal force field (as long as it isn’t 1865)…that’s plausible.

I know that some folks love a good story filled with impossible rescues and crazy situations but if you are going to write those into your piece, at least do the research and make it plausible so that you don’t lose readers like me. There is a fine line between fantasy and science fiction folks…don’t cross it unless you have to…and if you do, label it as such so that the reader understands what they are getting themselves into…

 

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Plot, Writing

 

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