Grab Those Coloured Pencils and Improve Your Writing

  Do You Show or Tell in Your Writing?

 

It is often difficult to assess your own work, but there is a way to see what you are doing.

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Pencils to highlight your writing.Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Colouring! Yes really, grab yourself some coloured marker pens or coloured pencils and prepare to be enlightened.

I heard of this concept during a presentation that Natasha Lester author of The Paris Seamstress made during the Rockingham Writer’s convention. This is how she explained her system. By the way, this applies to all popular commercial fiction but not so much to literary fiction.

Action – Coloured PINK

Dialogue- Coloured-BLUE

Thought– Coloured YELLOW

Description-Coloured GREEN

Transitions—BLANK -NOT COLOURED

Back story-Coloured ORANGE.

She suggested colouring action and dialogue first  to show you the balance of those,

Ideally, they should be most of the page, at least 60% but not in huge blocks of colour. Interweave with other aspects of the story.

Doing this enables you to SEE what you need to change, to add or subtract.

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Photocopy a couple of pages of a favourite book. Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

If you feel this may be too confronting you can always photocopy two or three pages from a book and try it with them.

Your goal is not to emulate them, your goal is to see whether they get it right or wrong and to improve your own writing. The only person you need to compare yourself with is the self of yesterday are you learning, growing, progressing?

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Remind yourself how far you have Ncome.Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Technology Trauma.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are worse things than a computer crash, but its hard to think of them when one happens to you.

This week, it was my turn and not only did the computer crash, it crashed spectacularly. It completely wiped itself, even of Windows.

How? I don’t know.

Why? Still not sure if it was a virus, or something else.

At the moment I am in stage one of the classic stages of grief, denial. ‘This can’t be happening’

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

BUT it is and my computer guy has had the machine since Monday and is no nearer to finding a solution.

I miss it. Worse, I was finalizing a submission for a writing contest with a cut off date of July 13th and I have lost almost a week.

Sure the laptop is dinky and cute, but I am used to my desktop and prefer it.

Still, I held out hope-maybe the expansion drive, would help restore files. It should have and it would have, if only it had been re-plugged in when I bought a new computer.

So, back up your work NOW, send it to One Drive or Dropbox, send it to a USB and if you have an expansion drive be sure that it is connected.

I may have lost almost a years worth of work, which is one hell of a reminder.

It’s Time You Listened To Your Writing!

 

Listening Something that I found recently has really improved my writing. I shared the information with some writing buddies and discovered that they hadn’t known about it either, They were impressed and I was inundated with effusive thanks.

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

 Now I’m sharing it with you. It may not apply to all systems until recently I used Apache Open Office and I don’t think it is there. 

Then I switched to Microsoft Word and that’s where I found it. The Audio function. It is at the top left-hand corner of the page when you click over to tools. It says Read, Aloud Speech. For Mac users, there is a Speech function once you access System Preferences. I simply Googled that to find out.

Experimentally I tried it out. It has transformed my writing experience.

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Many of you will have been told to read your work out loud to allow you to spot errors and awkward phrasing. It is still good advice. Audio is better though, as the robotic voice disassociates you from your writing. We all fall a little in love with our words

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

It is easy to read your own work and see what you expect to see. I had proofread a document twice without noticing that scared had been typed sacred, Quite a different meaning!

Listening enables you to hear if your words flow, or if there is a section that needs work. It might be a good use of this function to run your document through it before you send it to an editor.

What makes a good writing group?

Questions to ask about a writing group.

Coloured pencils Jess Watters Unsplash

There many opinions on what makes a good writing group, but I think that we can agree on a few things.Most of us need the right sized group, one that meets at a convenient time and place and one that helps us to grow as writers and to achieve our aims.So, if you are considering joining a writing group it pays to ask a few questions.

  1. What is the composition of the group?Does it matter to you if it is a mixed or a single-sex group? Both types of groups can have advantages and disadvantages. A mixed group provides a microcosm of the potential readership for your stories or book. However, that can be challenging ii your stories are not mainstream.Crime and fantasy/sci-fi appeal to both genders, while other types of writing typically appeal more to one or the other. For example, romance writing has a mainly female authorship and readership; while war stories mostly appeal to men.
  2.  Does Age Matter?people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgThe general age in the group may be a factor for you, although it is wise to be flexible about this. Talent is not confined to one age group and both younger and older members can contribute to the dynamic of a mixed age group.3. How friendly do you need the group to be?Many of us complete our best work inspired by a little ‘friendly’ competition. And the operative word is friendly. Many writers have a horror story or two to tell of savage criticism towards their work or even their personality( a real no, no!) which has wounded them and eroded their confidence in their writing abilities. A good facilitator should prevent this, reminding everyone that the focus is solely on the work. Any group that is not welcoming to new members and encouraging of them is not a place that you want or need to be.

    4 What do you want?Writng laptop thougth Catalogue

    A good writing group is a community of like-minded people, one that provides that ‘safe space’ in which to discuss your work. There is no need to bore your long-suffering family, instead talk to the people who understand the blow of rejection and the thrill of success. The members of a writing group near you.

    As I was writing this post I asked various group members about their experiences with our writing group. The group I attend meets weekly and is a mixed group.Members attend writing events and the group books authors as speakers.

    5. What Writing Group Members Say About Their Writing Group

    One member said’ I need the inspiration of others work, I am fascinated by the way that other people write and think’.

    This is an aspect of a writing group that is so intriguing, that there are so many different approaches to writing about one topic.

    Another commented’ each week I struggle and I am amazed when people say that I am improving.’As mentioned earlier, we may be the harshest critics of our own work and a group can provide objectivity.

    A third said ‘the group has inspired me to try different styles and ways of writing’

    A veteran of other groups noted that ‘some groups tend to be dominated by egos, which can be very stressful’

    A member who had not written since junior school commented that it was ‘right place, right time,’ adding cheekily the group picked me!’ She continued more seriously by saying that ‘written has been ( and is) challenging, yet stimulating’

    As for me, it is no exaggeration to say that joining a ringgit group changed my life. Writing group members encouraged me to apply for mature age university entrance. I was accepted and had some of the most challenging yet thrilling years of my life. Following on from that I submitted my writing and had some stories and articles published in national magazines. None of which I would have accomplished without the help and support of my writing group.

    So pluck up your courage and think about joining your local writing group. Your local library will most likely have the details of local groups

     

Question to Ask Yourself at Year’s End

One word for 2018 what will it be?

 Time for a bit of self-reflection?Writng Form Unpalsh by Green Chamelon

Did you do what you said you would this year?

Did you keep the promises that you made to yourself and to others?

Are you nearer your goal?

Are you proud of what you have achieved this year?

Did you use this precious year wisely?

OR did you fritter your time away?

For many of us, the end of the year is both a time of celebration, but also for self-reflection. Sparkler from Unspalsh

CHANGE BEGINS IN YOUR THOUGHTS.

I was already considering what I had achieved this year when a prompt popped up on my Facebook feed from Karen McDermott of Serenity Press 2018 Norwood themesShe asked a simple question.’ What is your word for 2018?’

The idea was to choose a single word that included all the concepts and things that you wanted to achieve in the next twelve months. Many people had replied with their word choice and many of their words resonated with me. Yet,none seemed exactly right 


It nagged away at me, I kept reading and thinking ,but my perfect word eluded me . It simmered away in my brain as words were tried and then discarded. While I applauded other people’s choices, no one word felt right to me.

My word appeared when I was writing my early morning pages. I noted down a few words, Progressing, Enjoying, Completing. And then suddenly I thought’ I need to focus,’ and there it was , my perfect word

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Focus, to pay close attention

So focus on I want to achieve in my writing and in my personal life.

Reflecting on this year, it was easy to see that I had not focused .Instead, I had done things that appealed to me without asking do they further my ultimate goals?

So this year my writing focus is on completing the first draft of my novel and then editing it. After that? Who knows?

My personal focus is one shared by many, improving my health by losing weight. I haven’t been paying attention and it shows. Time to get back on track.

Will you choose Focus as your word of the year , or does something different appeal? Please let me know.

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Are You Being Productive Or Just Busy?

Some good questions to ask yourself are

Am I doing what I want to do? Am I getting closer towards my goal?

 

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Should I have a goal? The answer to the last question, by the way, is YES.

The Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland gave Alice this advice

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The Cheshire Cat image Pinterest

At the beginning of 2017, I made a list of the things I wanted to achieve with my writing, and as the year draws to a close I am reviewing it and assessing it. Here’s what I discovered.

The Good: I achieved far more than I originally intended

The Bad: While I did far more than previous years, I was not specific enough.

The Ugly Truth: I am no further towards my goal than I was at the beginning of the year

How did this happen?At the start of the year, I made a list of practical things I could do to extend my writing. Then the list held nine items, one of which was to start a blog.

At years end the list had grown to sixteen items, as I added things I thought would be interesting or fun to do.Everything on the list depended on me doing something. The only actions that I can control are my own. I cannot make readers or editors like my work. My task is to write and to improve and not try to second guess what others will think.

What did I achieve? I wrote a novella, a long short story, an 8-word story, I submitted to a couple of magazines, took some courses, attended some author talks and a writing convention and completed National Novel In Month.

A lot you might think  BUT I haven’t done much to achieve my real goal of completing a novel and getting it published. I have been busy, very busy and in one sense productive, but I have not got any nearer to my goal.

I scattered my efforts, and now I know this I intend to make another list for 2018. It will have fewer items but a bigger goal to finally write that book! The book that I have wanted to write for so long, but hesitated to do so. I am giving myself permission to try.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?  Maybe you should make a list of the steps to take to get you there. Let me know what you plan on achieving.

The Best of Intentions

How to do what you know you want to do- if only you had the time!

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We all think we need more time, as our days rush by in a round of busy-ness often at the back of our minds is the dream,the ONE DAY project.

Maybe its something as simple as taking a class, or something more complicated like building a boat,or writing a book.

It’s there in our minds, yet we never find that chunk of time to actually start.

As part of my daily routine I’ve been writing in a journal for a couple of years, two or three pages written while I sip my morning cuppa.Initially I just wrote what was on my mind until one day I wrote INTENTIONS at the foot of the page.

There I listed what I wanted to do that day, often things to do with writing or creativity.If they were there the next day I transferred them to the next day’s page. It showed me how little time I spent on what was to me so important I paid more attention and used my time better,so if I only had ten minutes, I’d begin to write something in ten minutes.

At New Year I took it one step further, I thought about what I wanted to achieve with my writing and set out a list of realistic but slightly challenging goals. I wrote them out and stuck the list by my desk, where I would see it daily. I called it

MY YEARLY INTENTIONS

I ended up with a list of nine items some were simple,  like joining Romance Writers of Australia. While other required more effort from me ,such as completing a novella of around33,500 words.

Perhaps you’ve guessed that one of those intentions was to start a blog?

It’s almost mid-point of the year and so far I have completed five of the nine items on my list.

The things that made it work for me were.

Having a mix of easy and more difficult things

All were slightly challenging but achievable I hadn’t for example put write a best seller on the list

They were things I actually wanted to do but hadn’t got round to doing.

Seeing them daily as I sat at my desk encouraged me towork to achieve them.

Maybe its time for you to write your own list of intentions?

Make it specific and give yourself a mix of tasks that you think might work for you.