Friday, August 17, 2018

Three Years Now

This week marked three years since beginning on Prozac. And I'm still going....

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

When Does Summer End?

I came across this article from the Huffington Post in 2014:

Honestly, it seems like there is maybe one week of summer we can actually enjoy. In June, everyone is thinking ahead to the July 4th weekend, or muttering something about how it “doesn’t feel like summer yet.” In July, the back-to-school commercials start. In August, stores are filled with backpacks, school supplies and fall clothes. Then there is the ultimate indicator of not-summer, which is the appearance of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which millennial women mark on their calendars as the summer version of Groundhog Day. Already, people are Instagramming the hell out of their cups and rhapsodizing about sweater weather.
Yet, as I write this, it’s currently 90 degrees. 
Summer is not over. We’ve got weeks left until September 22, the last official day of the season. Everyone, please, stop the rush to fall. 
Granted, I’m counting down the days until Labor Day, because I happen to live in a beach town that’s been “discovered” by high-strung, loud and personal space-averse tourists. I’ve offered the idea of a parade to be held the weekend after Labor Day, when the last of the SUVs bearing New York license plates and North Jersey dealership tags finally leave our town, providing they don’t get into an accident for running a red light into the last Starbucks before the highway. (To get their Pumpkin Spice Latte, you see.) 
Yes, I have seen accidents at precisely the spot where GPS-trusting tourists think, “Oh crap, this is the wrong lane.” I’ve nearly boycotted going to the grocery store at normal hours, because it’s just asking to be annoyed over multi-generational families walking 6-abreast down the frozen food aisle, marveling over how spacious this grocery store is compared to where the ones where they live. I’ve also had ugly, ugly moments where I tried to petition the removal of a seasonal resident of our apartment complex for regularly flouting our pool’s 2-visitors-per-apartment rule, bringing in upwards of 20 loud family members from every corner of the state to swim even though we live three miles from the beach. “It’s like living in a hotel!” they say, as they take yet another photo for Facebook and throw ice cream wrappers into the water while singing yet another verse of “Ring Around The Rosie” to highly embarrassed children. In each one of those photos, I’m scowling in the background.
So, I welcome Labor Day. The beaches will be empty, the ice cream shops free of tantrums in every regional accent, the stores back to normal and the weather, for a few more weeks, still nice. It’s not the “end.” 
Maybe if we were all still part of the huddled masses of students trudging back to hallowed halls of learning like depressed turtles making their way to a cruel ocean, I’d believe differently. For them, Labor Day is a warning instead of a holiday. My heart goes out to them, their heavy book bags and their graphing calculators.
The rest of you have no excuse. I don’t care if you’re technically drinking an ICED Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yes, iced beverages are generally summer beverages. But the premature adoption of pumpkin spice is decidedly autumnal and only makes you part of the problem. Same to you other adults (who don’t have kids) who are treating the school supply display at Target like a big tombstone to the summer of 2014. Stop saying that it’s now autumn.
Instead, go do summer things. Now. And in the next few weeks. Go to the beach, go have a picnic, go wear shorts, go eat all the barbecue you want. Take a day off. Take a week off. Enjoy summer. It will be gone soon — just not now.

I know there are still two weeks until Labor Day 2018, but in my neck of the woods, summer feels over for kids in school since they have bene returning this week. When I was in school myself, we didn't go back until after Labor Day in September. Even though I have no children, I know when school starts since I live behind one of the elementary schools in my town, and all the schools have kiosks that say when they begin again, along with other school announcements.

As someone who once worked in retail, I have come to expect to see back-to-school items in stores beginning in July. Even if you're not in school and doesn't have kids, you can still take advantage of back-to-school sales. I've often gotten packages of pens on sale during this time, usually eating until the school supplies have been reduced to about 60 cents, just before Halloween items begin dominating the store aisles. And I'm expecting to see those any day now. Just yesterday, the Dollar Tree began putting out the orange boxes of bagged candy, including the candy corn. I felt tempted to buy some candy corn, but chose not to, not now anyway.

In my neighborhood and in most of California, it is often still 90 degrees even after the fall equinox hits. Not quite time to retire the shorts and flip flops for many people. Heck, it can even be this way at the beginning of October.

This summer has been quite hot, so much so that I have been trying to to to the store and such before the heat gets intense, whenever I can do so. Yesterday, I had to wait until two o'clock to go to the store, since my prescription would not be ready until then. As I took my groceries, to the car, I felt a breeze, which was a relief. A man working at the store gathering carts from the parking lot remarked such as he came to get my cart. I said I usually hated going to the store at hat time of day, but I had to do so then. It was a lot less hot yesterday.

Friday at work is our annual park day, postponed from last month. I now wonder how hot it will be then.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

How to Enjoy Your Writing Time More


When it comes to writing advice, much of our time is spent learning how to get better, accepting how to take criticism, and hearing about what a struggle being in the writing game is. We read countless articles about how difficult it is to write, and how impossible it is to get published, it’s no wonder this can have an impact on how much we enjoy writing.
But if we aren’t enjoying it, what’s the point in doing it? So here are some useful tips on how to better appreciate the process of writing itself.
Forget about the end goal
When it comes to writing it’s important to enjoy the process. If you keep focusing on the end goal of getting your book published, you could end up putting yourself under too much pressure or feeling like you are setting yourself an impossible task before you even begin. So focus on the process of writing, of the pleasure of crafting your story, and you’ll enjoy it so much more.
Get lost in your world
Writing is a beautiful way to express your creativity and create worlds and characters that are imaginative and powerful, that we can use as vehicles to express ourselves. Try to get lost in your world, to tap into your most creative and imaginative self and recognize how genuinely cathartic that can be.
Start small
Remember writing is a process and if you try to do too much too soon, you’ll only end up feeling like a failure. You can teach yourself how to get better at writing, take pleasure in the practice, give yourself small goals and congratulate yourself as you improve and hit new milestones along the way.
Create a writing routine
Writing will always be a struggle if you don’t make it part of your routine. While it may be tough at first, it is so worth trying to write every day or following a weekly writing schedule to ensure you keep up with doing it regularly. Once writing becomes part of your life, it will feel natural and relaxed and become so much more enjoyable as a result. Remember, the more you do something, the easier it gets.
Have a different perspective
Instead of focusing on yourself and how much you are enjoying your writing instead why not try to focus on what you can do to make the reading experience the best it can be for your readers? This switch in perspective can make you feel as though you are doing something selfless, and in doing so you are bound to feel good about yourself and how your writing improves too.
By following the above tips you can turn writing from a stressful and pressured experience into one that you enjoy, and since writing takes time and effort to do correctly, it’s essential that you do feel positive about it in the long run, and the more you enjoy your writing, the better and more natural it will become!
What do you do to make the process of writing more enjoyable? Share your comments here!
I must admit I have been slacking a little on writing, and even trying to blog here! I really want to get back on my diary novel and begin the sequel. It's weird how I can come up with an ice and be afraid to write it down (but most people get that way, I guess). I'll admit I find it somewhat easier to get lost in the world I'm trying to create that to get it written down sometimes. I should be enjoying this, and I do, but I'm just not doing it as much as I should be. But I'm going to try harder to make it happen. I now really need to push myself. 
I'm trying best to begin without worrying about how to end the story just yet. It will come in time.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Haunted Wedding?

I saw this picture posted on Facebook yesterday. I just had to share it.

Are they perhaps suggesting decorating a plastic skeleton in wedding attire to display on your porch for Halloween? That could be interesting.

FYI, I have not seen any Halloween stuff in stores just yet, but suspect it will be up any time soon. It's not been unusual to see such merchandise going up in August. But I'm already trying to come up with costume ideas, thanks to emails from Spirit Halloween. And I'm eager to check soon to find where the nearest of their temporary stores will be this year, even though it's been years since I've gone to and bought anything from one of these stores. I prefer to use clothing and accessories from thrift stores to make my own costumes, though I've made no decisions yet, since it's only August.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Unusual Writing Tips


Getting tired of reading about the same old tried and testing writing tips? Looking to try something more unusual to boost your creativity and writing skills? Try these fantastic, unusual writing tips and see if they work for you!
Go bungee jumping
OK so it doesn’t have to be bungee jumping, but doing something that gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping can be an ideal way to get those creative juices flowing.
Write a script
Try something different and write a script or a play. Doing so will really force you to focus on the power of dialogue to tell a story and can be a great way to learn how to make dialogue more effective in our work.
Use a dictaphone
Get old school and take a dictaphone with you wherever you go, it means you can easily record anything interesting you observe as well as general musings, or those bolt of lightening ideas that may strike at any time - without worrying your pen is going to run out of ink.
Write in weird places
Don’t just sit at your desk in your home office to write, get out and about and find some weird and wonderful locations to write in. You’ll feel inspired, and no doubt discover some exciting people and places while you are at it - all excellent material for your book.
Write in the middle of the night
Set your alarm for midnight and wake up to write in the dead of night. You might find your sleepy state unlocks new ideas and allows your writing to flow, or just writing when everyone else is asleep could give you more focus and will enable you to be more productive too.
Get relaxed
OK while we shouldn’t advocate heavy drinking, lots of writers do find they are more creative if they settle down to write after a nice glass of wine! Of course, it doesn’t have to be alcohol that does it for you, anything that gets you into that relaxed and carefree state of mind will help your creativity flow.
Work backwards
It might seem unnatural to start a story at the end, but doing so can give writers a fresh perspective and a new insight into the way they write. Why not give it a try?
Read before you write
Every writer knows that reading can help inspire you and give you great ideas too. But have you tried setting some time aside to read before each of your writing sessions? Doing so could help you to get focused, get into the creative mindset and be inspired to write your very best.
These unusual writing tips are well worth trying out; they’ll help you to gain a new perspective, experiment with different techniques and have fun with your writing too!

Do any of these ideas seem unusual to you? Reading before you write certainly isn't an unusual one. I must admit I want to gt out somewhere to try writing, though I tend to forget about this idea whenever I go on a walk. It's so easy just to step outside to begin walking. An using a dictaphone, or a tape recorder--how I would love to do that if I could find one and some tapes, of course. I remember just recording nonsense onto a tape recorder. Perhaps I could dictate a whole story onto tape and then transcribe it. This might be easier than trying to write my ideas on paper, though I definitely would not make a habit out of tape-recording stories, as I can see myself getting annoyed from doing this many times. 
I'm definitely not brave enough to even think of trying to bungee jump, and wine is out for me. But if I wanted to, maybe I could try writing plays or scripts. I can easily wake up in the middle of the night without setting my alarm, though I have yet to try writing then. I now want to do it this way! Working backwards--I would never have thought of that one. Start with an ending and then work backwards as to how you came to that ending.
How many of these ideas have any of you tried or now want to try?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How to Keep Your Writing Simple


It’s so easy to make writing overly complicated, and one of the great dangers writers can come up against is trying to make their work expressive and creative without being overwritten.
While one might think it is harder to make writing complicated than it is to keep things simple, because writers want their readers to see, to believe and to feel everything about their world and the characters within it, it is, in fact, all too easy to create overly complicated and even confusing prose.
So how can you avoid this?
Don’t use five words when you can use one
It’s easy to use too many words when trying to describe our characters and the worlds that they inhabit. We so desperately want the reader to imagine it the way we do that sometimes we ruin it by describing things too much, not allowing them to use their imaginations, telling instead of showing and giving huge descriptions instead of choosing the best words to explain succinctly and accurately what we need the reader to know.
Don’t keep switching points of view
Change points of view over and over is only going to confuse your reader and possibly even yourself as the author! Stick to one point of view or switch character points of view when you being a new chapter.
Use time carefully
Going back and forth in time can add layers and depth to your story, however, if you choose not to keep time linear make sure you are smart and clear about it. If you keep jumping forwards and backwards in time, your reader will soon get confused and quickly lose interest.
What does the reader need to know?
When you are writing, you should always have the reader in mind. Look at what you have written and be honest with yourself about what the reader needs to know. Kill your darlings, cut unnecessary words, paragraphs, scenes, chapters and even characters if they aren’t important to your story.
Make every word count
Your book can’t go on forever; even the longest books have a finite amount of words, so it's imperative to make each one of them count. If you find yourself writing for the sake of it, or to draw out a scene to boost your word count you are almost certainly making your writing too complicated.
Use ‘he said’ ‘she said’
Many writers fall into the trap of adding unnecessary adverbs after a character has spoken. Done too many times and this distracts the reader from the story. In most cases a simple ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ will do.
These tips are ideal for writers looking to simplify and neaten up their writing. Writing that is direct, smart and interesting is so much more likely to capture readers attention than writing that is convoluted, complicated and overly descriptive. So next time you sit down to write, keep in mind these tips to keep your writing simple, straightforward and ultimately far more effective.

This came just after I edited my memoir. There were many times when I found myself cutting down words in a sentence that I found unnecessary  or repetitive, or combining two sentences to avoid overusing phrases such as "This was why..." I saw that I'd used that one quite a bit. 
Switching points of view was not an issue, since this is a memoir. Also true of a diary novel, since both are about one person. I haven't decided if I want to attempt writing from multiple points of view, which would be for an whole new novel. I've read a few such books recently and have found it interesting to see more than one character's view of the story.
"What does the reader need to know?" I have asked myself that many times while going over the memoir. I just cut a chapter that  felt was repetitive of what had been told in previous and subsequent chapters, but put moved of the information from that chapter into other chapters where I felt it would fit. 
I have been trying to neaten up my writing as well as tighten up some sentences and paragraphs, and trying not to be overly descriptive. These tips, however, came after I had begun doing such, but are still good to know.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Still More Stuff Cut Out

Yesterday during my memoir editing, it occurred to me to delete one chapter as I felt it was too repetitive of what I had already said. Some of the info contained in that chapter was moved to other chapters or to the epilogue. The page count and words count thus decreased even more. I've been printing the new chapters gradually since yesterday since I'm not sure how much paper I have for the printer and will have to get more soon. And I'm now wondering abut how much black ink I have right now.One of the things I get anxiety over while writing!

As always, I can not be certain how much more editing I need to do. But I think I've written all I want to say on the matter. Now I want to get on with my next thing, the diary sequel.

Still trying to find a title for my first diary novel, BTW. A few more that have just come to my mind:
Learning to Smile Again
A New Way to Smile

Friday, August 3, 2018

August Bookish Bingo

Click on the card to download (or right click here and save-as).
Mark up the card however you wish to claim the squares.
Here’s a recap for clarity (with specific dates for example):
AUG 3 – new bingo card available
SEPT 2 – Julie and I will post our August completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post
SEPT 3 – new bingo card available
OCT 2 – Julie and I will post our September completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post. We will also be posting the August winner of the most squares in this post.
And so on and so forth.
Here is what I am reading:
  1. The Namesake--Jhumpa Lahiri (2 squares): Physical Book, Shelf Love
  2. The Truth About Forever--Sarah Dessen (5 squares): New-to-You Author, Library Book, Contemporary, New Adult, Not in a Series
  3. Girl, Interrupted--Susanna Kaysen (2 squares): Free Space, Empowered Female
  4. When Life Gives You Lululemons--Lauren Weisberger (7 squares): In a Series, Woman on Cover, Pop Culture References, Past Rears Its Ugly Head, Band/Musician, Society
  5. Summer's End--Danielle Steel (3 squares): Character Goes on Vacation, Steamy, Outdoor Activity
  6. The Wedding Date--Jasmine Guillory (2 squares): Engagement, Food on Cover
  7. Havana Bay--Martin Cruz Smith (2 squares): Suspense, Deception

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Heavy Editing and Deleting

For two or three days now, I have been editing my memoir even more. Some  two weeks or so ago, I looked over for typos and other errors, but did not get around to correcting them on the computer until now.  I did more today than I had done in previous days. I was up to nearly 10pm last night editing, and even in the summer I have not felt compelled to start up the late. The earlier I get up in the morning, the sooner I get tired and want to get to bed. I then decided that since I knew I'd be up early this morning, I get to editing as early as possible. I ended up beginning the process for today about an hour after getting up. As such, I got a lot of it done and now only have one chapter left along with the epilogue.

I have asked myself how much to cut. It's my decision, of course, but today I did do a lot of deleting, including at least one long paragraph. I decided to edit some content that I felt I did not need. The word count and page number both have thus decreased. I've ben told the longer a manuscript is, the more turned off some people will be to reading it. But do I really need to follow this? the length should not matter more that the content, and I have been trying to delete any content I think the story could do without. Just another part of the process. 

I want to get this done by the end of this week, as I want to get it ready to send to the publishing contest at Blydyn Square Books. I'm still a little hesitant about this idea, but others have said I should give it a go. The deadline is at the end of September. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Planning a Sequel

Still no title decision for my diary novel, though I have many in mind and am trying to narrow the choices down. But just last week I began writing something to begin a sequel to the diary. I haven't gotten very far on that one, though, and have only written it in a notebook. I tend to do it this way because it's easy to do when I'm in bed, and that was when I did it 🙂

Have any of you planned a sequel for an unpublished book? How common is it to do this? My reason for wanting to do a sequel is that I had some ideas in mind for my protagonist that I think would work better as a second book, rather than trying to cram all the storylines into one book. The first book still in progress is all about the protagonist dreading getting braces. For the second one, he is dreading becoming a teenager (more to come on this). Those seem like two separate storylines that could be written and told in two books. 

I know that you need to write more than a recap of the first book when beginning a sequel, though I did begin that way and will go from there to lead into the main storyline.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

How to Avoid Writing Clichés


It can be pretty tough to write an entire novel without slipping into certain clichés. However, there’s not much that will turn your reader off faster.
Clichés tend to interrupt the flow of the story and show an absolute lack of imagination and creativity from the writer. If you are trying to get a publishing deal and your book is full of clichés not only in your writing but also using a clichéd idea, no publisher is going to bite.
It’s not easy to avoid writing clichés altogether, and often we use them without even noticing we’re doing so. So how can we weed them out, or better still prevent them entirely?
Here are some helpful tips:
Don’t steal other writer's ideas
Some plots have just been done to death. They have been written and rewritten so many times it’s almost impossible to avoid falling into the trap of a cliché if you choose to focus your story around them. When writing a book, your idea needs to be unique. Make publishers, editors, and most importantly your readers sit up and take notice of something that hasn’t been done before.
Avoid being overly sensational.
There is a myriad of moving subjects to choose from when writing a book, and lots of great books have murder, car crashes, bombs going off, wars, descents into madness and so on as part of their plots. However, these sensational subjects can be challenging to write without falling into clichés.
This doesn’t mean you can’t tell stories that include these elements. But when you do, pay particular attention to your writing and be alert for any clichés that may appear.
Make the ordinary extraordinary.
One good way of avoiding clichéd writing is by turning everyday events and occurrences into beautiful, unique, unusual, life-changing adventures. It’s more of a challenge, but by focusing on smaller, more unusual things that happen in everyday life, or taking something that we are all familiar with yet making it suddenly breathtaking or extraordinary is a great skill to have as a writer.
Tell your story the way you want to.
No one can tell your story or share your experiences the way you do. If you continue to write clichés, it suggests that you are not being honest with yourself. You have a unique perspective and an original voice, tap into that, use it instead of borrowing from others or retelling a story that wasn’t yours to tell in the first place.
Be authentic
Clichéd writing often becomes that way because it’s not true to real life. Try to avoid injecting your book with melodrama where it’s not necessary. You’ll only end up creating a story that doesn’t resonate with an audience and lacks the authenticity necessary to connect with your readers.
By using the tips above you can eliminate clichés from your writing and create powerfully original stories that really are entirely different than anything else.

Just how different can each person get? And just what constitutes stealing other writers' ideas? As some of you may have seen on my blog I felt I was doing just that when I chose to write about depression. But then, that's something different people face differently. That, I learned, is how someone shows their own voice.  This is how writers are unique. Some things are bound to be similar in different works, but each one stands out from the author's voice. I'm sure everyone will agree with this. 

Also, I sometimes ask myself what expressions can be considered cliched. My memoir writing instructor said "the nail in the coffin" is an example of a cliche, which should be avoided in memoirs. I asked once on my blog once if "making  big deal out of nothing" sounds cliched (I used that one in the memoir).

I try hard enough to make my story sound like my own ideas, even if they have been used before.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

How Much Should You Cut?

Another point in the link 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Fiction I'd like to comment on is this one:

2. Cut!
So, you can write a 1000 page book? You can. Sure. But, should you? Being wordy gives you a surefire shot at rejection. It is not about showing off your English vocabulary. It is about using only those words that the story needs.. Read your script; see if the book actually requires those 1000 pages of material. In most probability, you would have only 600 pages of the essential story and the rest of unnecessary words hanging here and there!
Rationalize. Remember an unedited story is an agony for readers. They are reading till the end of your story just to know what happens in the end. So make each section of your story an acceptable experience for the readers. As a writer, ensure you don’t go the routine way of information over feed. The audience wants to be entertained and not instructed and jaded. Make sure you send out your crispest version to literary agents and publishers. Nobody has the time.

This came up at the writing session I attended last Saturday when one of the women conducting the session saw how thick the manuscript of my memoir is. She says something of that length would result in immediate rejection. Though FYI, it is only 321 typed pages. If I was told to type 1000 pages, I'd be panicking! One of the things I dreaded about having to write papers in school was the length dictated and/or the number of words the instructor indicated. Even today, when I can write about whatever I want, the idea of typing 1000 pages seems daunting. It seemed difficult enough to get over 100 pages, let alone 300 or more. 

NowNovel says the following about manuscript editing:

Cutting Words Isn’t so Hard. No, Really

Cutting thousands of words from your manuscript seems daunting. Having to cut tens of thousands of words can make you want to curl up in a ball and cry, but it’s much easier than you think.
Let’s look at what “cutting words” means:

When is a manuscript “too long”?

A common “too-long” manuscript is 120,000-words, roughly 480 pages (based on the traditional 250 words per page format). You can cut 4800 words if you delete just ten words per page. Ten words is nothing—it’s one sentence in most cases, and even in polished and published novels you can still find one sentence per page that can go and not lose anything. Cut twenty words per page and that’s almost 10,000 words gone with little effort. A 150,000-word novel? 600 pages, and 6,000 or 12,000 words gone. Cut thirty words—18,000 words down.
Working with words-per-page is much more manageable because you can trim consistently across the entire novel, not just certain sections.

Step One: Decide how much you want to cut

You might have a fixed number in mind, such as 90,000 words, or a sliding scale, such as 80,000-90,000 words. You could also decide to cut in stages, taking out half of the target and then seeing how the manuscript flows before doing anything else.

Step Two: Decide Where it Needs the Cutting

You can trim most manuscripts overall, but some will be heavy in one area and need specific trimming. Looking at the novel’s structure is an easy way to determine where the extra words lie.
Using the basic three-act structure, write down the word count of each act. (Feel free to use whatever structure you prefer and just adjust your percentages to fit your structure.)
Act one is the first 25% of the manuscript, the second 25% fills the ramp up to the midpoint in act two. The third 25% is the ramp down in act two from the midpoint, and the final 25% is in act three. So, if your manuscript is 100,000 words, you’d have four chunks of 25,000 words in each. At the end of each act, you’d have a major plot turning point.
Remember—these guidelines aren’t exact, but if (using the above example) you discover the first act is 35,000 words, but the rest fits your target word counts, there’s a good chance the beginning is too long. Then you should cut your extra words from there.
A 10% variance in section size is fairly normal, but anything beyond that needs a closer look. If you decide an act is working even though it’s longer, that’s okay. The goal is to use structure to diagnose and identify potential trouble areas, not force your manuscript to fit a particular template.

Step Three: Cut down the manuscript

Now comes the tough part, but you can do it. Take it step by step, page by page, and be ruthless. If your instincts are telling you what needs to go first, trust them.

Tricks to make manuscript editing and cutting words easier

If your words-to-cut number is daunting, it might help to trick your brain into thinking it’s not as bad as it looks:
Do the easy cuts first: Empty words, empty dialogue, unnecessary tags—cut all the words that commonly bloat a novel first. It is often surprising how many “only” “just” and “of the” a novel has.
Cut back to front: If you’re cutting words-per-page, start on the last page and work your way back. Not only will this keep you from getting caught up in the story, it won’t adjust the page count and cause you to cut more words from the front than the back as the novel tightens and becomes shorter.
Cut one chapter at a time in a new file: It’s a lot easier to hit that goal when you can see those words dripping off. And a bonus: by isolating the chapter, you can look at it more objectively and judge the pacing and flow.
Cut one act at a time in a new file: Same principle, just with more pages. This helps ensure you apply cuts evenly throughout your novel.
Set time limits on your cutting sessions: The longer you edit, the more likely it is you’ll let something slide because you’re tired and want to move on to the next part. Take a break between editing sessions and avoid this temptation.

Now I'm not sure how this would apply to editing a memoir,  though I'm sure even those require some editing and cutting as far as the length of the manuscript goes. 

And right now, I'm trying to decide what to do with the diary novel in terms of the length. Some have said it's long enough for a kids' books. It's currently 100 typed pages. Not a a lot to cut out. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What Makes You a Copycat Writer?

Today I came across this post:

7 Writing Mistakes to avoid in fiction

One point that I want to comment on is this one:

4. Copycat

After the Harry Potter series many writers, all of a sudden, began writing stories with magic as a central premise. After the Twilight series, every other manuscript that landed on a publisher’s desk was about vampires. Don’t fall prey to a seasonal topic.
Never ever copy other authors. Yes, you can be inspired by some writers; the way they use words, the way they bring about twists and turns, but be original! You are different and that is the sign of uniqueness. If readers feel your writing is similar to “……..”, it is not a matter of pride; it means “You are just one of them!”
Ensure you are inimitable, distinct and matchless in every sense and you will have a winner in your hands!
This was I felt I would be doing when I got the idea to write about my experience on Prozac. It had already once been famously written about, and I felt I was just copying the author. But those around me convinced me that this was not true, since i would be telling my own story. In this blogpost, the author writes:
I’m glad Wurtzel wrote this book, because now I  don’t have to. Years ago, a book about my life would have closely resembled hers, as far as the inspiration meter. Low. ...

This was kind of what I had thought at first, that my story would sound too similar to what had already been told. The blogger could have easily written her story. Though I'm not sure how the "copycat" rule applies to a memoir.

Now that I have been writing a diary novel, does that necessarily mean I'm copying others that have been published? It wasn't any one such book in particular that made me want to write this, just the format itself. I wanted to try writing that way.

Have any of you writers felt this way?

Monday, July 23, 2018

It's Just One of Those Things...

1. Stuff/Things

Keep an eye out for ‘stuff’ and ‘things.’
You probably depend on these words when you’re unclear of the specific descriptive noun for the situation–a post title such as 4 things successful entrepreneurs do every morning, for example. 
Or, maybe you use ‘stuff’ or ‘things’ when you want to keep your tone informal and conversational. For example – Can you please do this post editing stuff for me?
But, if you’re in a business environment, the informality of these words will make you sound unprofessional. 
If you use these words excessively in your blog posts, then it’s time to replace them with more accurate and expressive diction.
Don’t expect the reader to spend extra energy to extract the exact meaning behind your writing. Content abound on the web and it’s easier for them to just close tabs and find another blog post that holds answers their questions faster and more efficiently. 
If ‘stuff’ or ‘things’ run rampant in your blog posts, consider using one of these replacements, based on the context. Strategies, reasons, points, concepts, aspects, elements and principles are all solid, more precise words. Here are 10 more alternatives, by

The blog from which I obtained some of the info presented in the last two posts also mentions this point. I'm surprised this did not come up at the writing group I attended last Saturday in one capacity or another. 

Though the blog talks about blog posts, I'm sure the same is true of all writing. Nearly every time when I've edited my memoir I see the words "thing(s)" or "something" quite frequently. I'm now surprised that the woman at the group who'd observed how much passive voice I'd used didn't see how often I had used the words "things," "something," and such. This could easily have prompted such a discussion. 

As with the alternatives to "very...", I'm not sure how many of the phrases in the graphic above I'd ever feel compelled to use. I guess it would depend on the context. Though off hand, I can't see many instances where some of the suggested words would fit the context of what I have written. This si going to take a lot of work. ...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Seems "Very" Hard to Do

Another thing that came up at the writing session I attended yesterday was a brief exercise in writing. One lady in the group discussed imagery, and those in the group each read lines from the poem "Birches" by Robert Frost, stopping to discuss the images depicted:

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
(What do you see?)

The group leader than had those in the group write about the most stunning thing we saw that morning, trying to avoid the passive voice. Here is what I came up with:

It shone from afar, as the tourists were glancing at from behind the mission. It was hard to see what areal appears from where I was standing. The hill glowed very green from what I could see.

The instructor insisted that the word "very" was unnecessary in this passage. At home yesterday, I then saw this:

How often do you writers out there find yourself using "very" and how often do you ever use any of the word suggested in the chart above? Some seem a little out of my league of thought.  It would not occur to me to use some of these words without reading a blog post such as the one from which I obtained the graphic. I now see myself going over my manuscripts and trying to find how many times I used the word "very." Again, I'm not so sure how many of the suggested words I would dare use.