Monday, June 29, 2015

Getting The Word Out (formerly Weekly Word Out)


 

Hello, Everyone.   
If you did not catch my blog on June 8, that’s okay.  I titled it the Weekly Word Out; then realized that this blog will not post every consecutive week, and that more than one of these a month might get tedious.  Today, we will end June on a Word Out, then I will only put up one Word each month (newly titled Getting A Word Out) and the rest of my blogs that month will be about different angles of writing. 
Today’s Getting A Word Out will focus on all things beautiful. Within the Scripture provided and today’s story, you will find hints to help you build your new word. Once you have come up with your own new word to describe something in your life that is beautiful beyond the just personal definition of the word beautiful to you, post that word in the comments, to share with everyone.
Start today by thinking of some of your favorite things.  Then think of a time when you noticed one of those things and you felt as though your heart were going to burst out of its chest with the emotional overload it caused  within you:  You favorite dessert at a restaurant that had such intense flavor you could not describe it in one word.
My story:  On my birthday, my daughter sent me a picture in text with a Happy Birthday written on it.  (I guess it’s called an e-card.)  My favorite flowers are roses, and (even at 46) I love glittery things.  The card was exquisite for something sent in text.    I was very moved by the card and the gesture.
  This is the word I sent back to her to describe it:  Purdabeautimous.
My spell check and auto correct in the phone had a meltdown!  She called me giggling, asking for the translation, which is:  purdy amazing/beautiful/fabulous.    All of my girls participate with me in this game of making up words.  Not only does it keep life fun, but it keeps the thinkers sharp. 
Taking things around you and designing hybrids and giving them names, and using those words keep us on our toes as writers.  It sharpens the senses, teases the imagination, and tempts our creative side, while continuing to refine our discipline. 
Today’s Scripture; quoted from the King James Version:  John 1:3
All things were made by him; and without him, was not anything made that was made. 
All and everything that we find enjoyment in and that makes us so emotional that we just might burst wide open comes from God.  As we review our writing ideas, attempt to describe something extraordinary in a work, or read someone else’s work with the intent of feeling what they felt in their experience, we need to keep that in mind.   It makes the words come easier, and the emotion will flow to the page.  If you accidentally throw in a made up word; leave it.
The greats have done it all through history. Just take a look at the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.  (That one is so common now that my spell check just fixed my misspelling of it.)  Who doesn’t use this one now and again?  
Who knows, in this week’s appreciation of beautiful things, you might just coin a word that ends up in the dictionary someday.
Until next time.

 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Back to Writing

Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

I'm excited because I can finally get back to writing novels.

For the past year and a half I've been concentrating on getting my degree. With that finally out of my way I can devote my "spare time" energies towards writing.

To that end I've started reading my books again so that I can make note of all the details (that character really had a beard?), rediscover the subplots, and get back into my characters' world.

The funny thing is, it's been a long time since I've read my books.

If you're an author reading this, do you ever go back and read your books? Do you cringe? Laugh? Wonder if you could meet the author and then remember it's you?

I'd love to hear what you do. :)

John J. Horn is a Christian author from San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about John and his Men of Grit series and sign up for his newsletter at johnjhornbooks.com.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Suspension of Disbelief - How to Get Readers Behind Unlikely Happenings



As readers, most of us do it to a certain degree. Whatever genre we prefer, from historical to contemporary fiction, adventure to sci-fi, and even non-fiction, something will crop up that, to our minds, seems a little too good, or coincidental, or convenient to be true.

We have the choice of wincing and closing the book, or for the sake of finding out what happens next, deciding to give the unlikely circumstance the benefit of the doubt.

Obviously, as writers, we want to avoid presenting our readers with this choice, and we want to have a logical explanation for everything. But sometimes an unlikely happening is an unavoidable part of the road to resolution, and sometimes logic is not enough to convince a reader into suspending his disbelief.

When you read three novels back-to-back by the same author, you may get to see a pattern of absurd happenings and the tricks used to make them enjoyable rather than cringe-worthy.

By the time you’re on book 3 of the Dickson McCunn trilogy by John Buchan, king of Ruritanian romance (political adventures about outwitting Communists, overthrowing dictators, and restoring monarchies), you can begin to feel unsure about how a handful of ordinary Scottish folk can have a direct hand in world events. You begin to wonder if you should take a break from rollicking yarns, so as to be able to enjoy them without being too critical. He used that plot device last time. He bluffed readers with logic again. Oh, that’s convenient, isn’t it?

And yet—if you’re me, you begin to feel as though the author is smiling and holding out a hand. “Just close one eye, and listen to the reasonable arguments—though I know the situation is fantastical—and you’ll go on a thrilleratin' adventure. Promise.”

And if you’re me, you’ll probably accept.

But How?

How do you get a reader to suspend disbelief? How can you construct a tantalizing set-up that keeps pages turning, even if unlikely situations are unavoidable? How can you smile and hold out a hand of invitation through your words?

  • Characters. We spoke about them last time; if your reader is invested in a character, she will be more likely stick through high water to find out what happens to him.
  • Explanations. Let dialogue answer readers’ questions. If readers think, “Why can’t he just do [X]?” and never get an answer, they may become frustrated and emotionally distant. Use other characters to ask and answer the questions that are sure to come up.
  • Gripping premise. Your premise is probably the reason your book was picked up in the first place. Make sure it delivers what it promised.
  • Enjoy yourself. When the author is having fun, it shows!
  • And, used sparingly, humour works too:
“The scarecrow looked at Jaikie and saw something there which amused him, for he set his arms akimbo and laughed heartily. ‘How nature creeps up to art!’ he cried. ‘Had this been an episode in a novel, it would have been condemned for its manifest improbability.’” - John Buchan, The House of the Four Winds
Despite well-laid plans and careful thought to alternative routes, you may have to include improbable situations in your book. You don’t want to draw undue attention to them (readers will notice without that!), but sometimes extra care has to go into making them just as enjoyable as the more believable twists.

As a reader, do you suspend disbelief? What techniques have you noticed in other authors or used in your own writing to make unlikely circumstances work?

  
Caitlin R. Hedgcock is a Christian author who aspires to use storytelling for God’s glory. She lives with her family in England's picturesque county of Hertfordshire. Visit her website or Facebook page to find out more.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Detours




Ah … sitting down to write … my laptop in front of me, a solid hour which, from this angle, doesn’t appear to contain anything else that requires me. Hmm. Since I have so much time, maybe I should check my emails and Facebook notifications really quick first … after all, it’s been a whole half a day since I’ve looked, and someone might have responded to a message I sent them yesterday. It’d be nice to read her answer. There. That didn’t take long. Nobody wrote, so I can start working now.

Okay, I’m looking at this line, and really, I don’t know where I was going with that. I typed it when I was so tired last night. I better read the lines before it, rekindle the thoughts, and see if I should rephrase it. There, that’s better. What is supposed to happen next? Wow, I didn’t realize I should have been thinking of this before I sat down to write ….

Ten minutes and a couple of internet searches to lubricate my mind later, I type two more sentences. That leads me to a string of dialogue, which goes faster, but after that I’m stuck again. After a few more minutes forcing myself to sit still and think, I write some more sentences, dragging forth almost every word. Then I’m in a spot that requires a bit of research—oh no, how long would it take them to drive to this place? Should I describe it as a short drive or a long drive? I could look it up later, but maybe it’s faster to just look it up now. Wow. My internet is so slow today ….

Now I’ve written half a page. It came so reluctantly that maybe I can take a Pinterest break. Okay, that was fun … now to get back. Groan. I put my head in my hands. I’m stiff from sitting at my desk, and I have no idea what to write next. Even though every nerve is begging me to jump up and walk around, I force myself to stay put and write the next words. I have to write until four o’clock, you know. Oh, you know what I forgot to do? Put that one book my friend recommended to me on my Goodreads to-read list. I should go do that now. It will only take a second ….

Hopefully that brought some laughs, but more often than not, my writing sessions resemble the above scenario. I’d be more ashamed to admit it if I didn’t know that other writers suffer the same temptations. So, if you’re one of us, you’re not alone—I have my good days, but usually, I take quite a bit of time getting focused and “in the zone” to make a lot of progress. Being focused is the point at which writing is a joy; we’re in the characters’ world, we’re having fun choosing words and shaping sentences, and the story is living.

(Image courtesy of jannoon028 at freedigitalphotos.net)
What can we do to get there quicker and and stay there longer? Well, although I’m not an expert at doing things right, I still see some hints to accomplishing a more productive writing session:

  • Outlaw the internet.
  • Think about what’s supposed to happen next in my story before I sit down to write.
  • Establish a goal for the session and don’t get distracted until I reach it.
  • Treat my story like a friend: concentrate only on it. Even if it’s difficult at first, if I stick with it, the words and interaction will usually start flowing.
  • If I hit a snag that doesn’t stop me in my tracks, jot myself a note there and move on.
  • If I hit a snag that does stop me, get up, move around, and ponder, but don’t go do something else that requires full concentration.
  • Permit myself to keep writing past my time limit if things are flowing.
  • Feel satisfied with the session’s work and realize that, no matter how many (or few) words I put down, I’m that much farther along.

What do you do to keep yourself focused during your writing sessions?

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog

Monday, June 8, 2015

Our Weekly Word Out


It’s a GREAT day in the Lord!

The birds are dancing in the lawn that is too wet to mow and playing with the squirrels in the yard ponds God has created for us through abundant rains.  The chickens are signaling to me that it is time to come collect eggs and the dogs are telling them to be quiet.  A fox, a horse, and an owl listen to the other animals chatter in great amusement while two mother cats move their kittens that were discovered in the night by the raccoon. 

This is my back yard.  A wonderment of joyous noise and God’s graciousness depicted in living color and activity.  It is also becoming a series  of children's books; hopefully interactive.  The first three are complete.  And I’m so exciterpated! 

Oops!  Sorry, I’m the new kid on the block with a quite diverse set of styles; because I've written for so many different situations.  But the consistency is that I like to create words that fit those situations; like the last word in the previous paragraph.  Exciterpated was one of my first word creations.  It means excited and exasperated all at the same time.

As a youngster, I was the ODD-chick out.  Always had a book in my hands and the next one to read on my mind.  One of my favorites when I was in Junior High (Middle School now-a-days) was called The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom in 1972.  I found myself relating to the story as two eight year old outcast girls find friendship at the boarding school they been left in and develop a secret language.  The story is fun, sad, and inspiring all at the same time.   I shared the story with a fellow bus student, who really did not like me when we started talking about it (all because I’d used a word on the bus from the book that caught her attention), but who became my life long best friend.  We  even made up a language of our own, which we still use and add to 32 years (and more) later.

As a writer, I’ve found that, sometimes, my made up words work better in the piece I’m writing than anything I can find in a Dictionary or a Thesaurus.  You’ve had that one piece that you just can’t find the right word for, haven’t you.?  Half way through a poem and the perfect word races across your mind before your fingers can get it to the paper, then you struggle trying to find it again….

That’s when I make one up!  Yep.  I look at the situation, the emotions it invokes, and words that I can click parts and pieces of together, and come up with the perfect word.  (Mind you, I do not throw them into formal writing.  Frustergasted would not go over well with a college professor of psychology, or a judge trying to read a formal statement on surveillance of a parent violating visitation rules.)   But I do use them in poetry and short stories.  

I would like to share my fun writer’s exercise with all of you, and  make this blog a creative challenge to everyone who reads it each week.  I will post a challenge:  an outlined situation, including possible emotions that it may cause one to feel; and a relevant Scripture verse.  Then it will be up to YOU to create a word that fits the situation.  One word.  No definitions will be needed; as the situation posted will act as the definition.   You can do it the easy way; like I do; by combining known words; or you can create a whole, absolutely new one.   Then post the word you came up with in the Comments to this blog. 

Please keep a couple things in mind:  once you share a word, others may think it worthy to use as well; and we want to keep things positive in our word creations. 

Today’s situation:  I have a list of family and friends that don’t have Facebook, or that are too busy daily to check their Facebook accounts and check in with everyone.  Some of them are going through struggles. Others, I just like to let them know I’m thinking of them and praying for them.  I have them in three different text groups, and I send them out a daily greeting.  NOW, they live all over the world, so when I send a group text, some are getting it in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the evening.   This was creating a great deal of amusement when I’d send a Good Morning out at 6 am, my time.   So I revised my groupings, then created some new words:  “Mornternoon”, “Morftereven”, and “Aftereven”.   There is still amusement, but not because I don’t know what time of day it is when I send the text to my friends. 

You may use these words in your own personal communications; as I’ve posted them now.  BUT your task is to review your friends/contacts lists and come up with your own unique word that you could send to absolutely everyone in one group text to greet them in a daily salutation.

“Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you.”  II Corinthians 13:12 and 13 {KJV}

Have fun, and I can’t wait to see your new words here, in the comments.

Finding fun and blessing in each day’s adventures;

Until next time…