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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

And now for something Completely Different... Happy Halloween!

Caspers (WY) Blood<y> (NY) Adventure

Casper (WY) slid into the 
Chocolate Bayou (MS)
hoping to find Witch Hazel (OR). 
He wanted to take his friend 
Guest (AL) 
to the Slaughter (DE, CA, & TN)
in Satans Kingdom (VT, MA)

When they arrived
they found Dead Women Crossing (OK)
with Pumpking Hook (NY) instead of hands.
Screamers (AL,TN) floating down their backs,
he knew then it was

They tried to run around
Hells Corners (OH) passed 
Tombstone (AZ) and 
Fresh Kills (NY) littered 
on the ground

Guest fell behind
but Casper continued Guests screams
Echo (MN) 
in his head.

Suddenly Devils Ladder (ID)
appeared ahead.
He sprinted for it, horror gripped his heart, as
the Hounds were coming.
He gripped the first rung, 
placing his foot up he felt the hound grab at his 

Panicked he pulled free, and scrambled up the ladder
to the Devils Tower (WY).

He crossed the top
and found the 
Devil's Slide (UT)
Caspar climbed upon it, and 
WHOOSH! he flew
into the Devils Den (WY).

He let out a Yell (TN)
to the Nameless (TX) one and 
soon he saw a lantern appear 
held by the Mystic (TX) by the 
Dripping Springs (TX)

The Mystic led Casper
with his Bad Axe (MI) 
floating by his side.

Mystic led Caspar to 
Bat Cave (NC) where the floor
was covered in Bloody Springs (MS)

He could see Deadwood (OR) floating
bobbing up and down.
Smelling the combination of sulpher and Blood (NY),
creating a Bitter Springs (AZ)
he knew he would never forget

They got on a ferry
and drifted down 
out of the cave where 
Casper saw Kill Devil Hills (NC).

The ferry rounded Devils Elbow (CA)
where Savage (MN) Bloody Corners (OH)
led to Dead Man Crossing (OH).
He heard BOOS (IL) call to them
before they reached shore.

They had made it! 
They reached Candy Town (OH)!
Or had they....

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Etiquette of the Critique or Critique Etiquette...You decide!

     This topic came up as the result of a couple of my Facebook writing people. They were scared to put out their work for critique because of people who tore them apart, and were not constructive. They were hating on it, in other words. When you are a new writer, constructive criticism can feel like a personal attack against them. Basically a critiquer shows where the strengths are, and where there is room for improvement. However, there are good ways to critique, and bad ways to critique. When I belonged to a local critique group, this topic was discussed in detail for us to follow...thought I would share.

Critique Etiquette:

  1. Be Courteous. There is nothing good about being an a**. Be respectful, this shows you are a professional. “This is the worst crap ever written,” is a BIG NO NO!
  2. Be Professional: Use good grammar and do not use profanity. Basically use good manners.
  3. Be Specific: Point out what you mean in your critique. Give examples. When I critique, I usually take out the section that needs work (that I think needs work), and mention
    what is the problem. Sometimes I even rewrite the passage to show what I mean. Words like “That didn't work for me...” with no explanation of where it didn't work is really annoying You can say, “This section didn't work for me, and this is why...”
  4. Be Generous with praise: Point out things you really LIKED about the work. It can be as simple as highlighting it, and saying (like in brackets) <good job here> for example.
  5. Babylon...oops wrong blog!
  6. Be Clear and Concise: Make your notations and comments in clear, easy to understand wording. Nothing worse than having to ask about every little thing the critiquer has said in a critique, and this shows you are a professional...if they have to ask that many haven't done your job as a critiquer.
  7. Do unto others...: Be respectful when doing a critique. I am because that is the way I would like to be treated when someone is critiquing me.
  8. Be respectful of Writers Feelings: For instance, if you think something is too wordy (because too many details are being used), you could first state that the details really make the scene come to life, but then gently point out that sometimes it can interrupt flow, you could also make a brief suggestion on how to do that. Also, with newer writers, it can be helpful to point out only a couple of things to focus on, and praise the strengths you see.
  9. Do Not Judge the Story itself: A critiquers job is to judge the quality of the writing. Especially if it is a genre you do not usually read.
  10. Reread your critique: Before you send back a critique, go through to make sure it sounds good, and looks good. Looking professional is the key, and the writer has to be able to understand your critique.
I have a form with structural information...i.e. Spelling errors, grammatical errors (tallies), and repetitions. Then I have a section on pacing (flow), and structure comments. I add a disclaimer that states that the critique is just suggestions, and that I am making the comments to make the work stronger. But that the suggestions are just that...suggestions on how I *believe* what the work needs. Then I take the manuscript and go through it, making the comments themselves. Highlighting the errors on grammar, speelign, and specifics etc. To help the writer see what I mean.
So what experiences have you had with critiquing? What is the worst critique you have ever had? Conversely the best? In my next blog, I will discuss on how to take a critique of your work. Happy Writing and critiquing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics Part 3

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics part 3
Writing the Rough Draft.

So now we arrive at the meat and bones of NaNoWriMo.  The rough draft!  You have your sprinting sheet ready, it looks real pretty there against the backdrop of your computer, stuck up on your wall with duct tape, or you have it minimized on the tool bar.   What now?

Most times I do a warm up.  Something totally non related to the Nano project.  Writing is like any other exercise, except it is mental...but just because it is done in the psyche, doesn't mean you don't have to warm up first.  Like a runner stretching before a workout, getting your brain warmed up is not a bad idea.   There are some writing prompts on the Writers Digest site, and also some really good ones online.  Here are a few to check out:

I just randomly pick out a prompt, and do a 10 minute timed writing.   I usually do those long hand.  There is something about the pen on paper, that accesses my creative side.  Using a computer, just doesn't give me that "In the moment," feeling.  I keep the notebook, and when I reread them later, I find great lines, or it may spark an idea for something new. Some of these may make it into my work in progress, but mostly they show up in new projects...but that is another blog for another time.

So now I'm ready to work on my Nano project.  I usually have an idea where I am starting.  As long as there is a flow going, that is how I work.  If I start getting bored, I either A) Stop working on it, and take a break.  B) I jump around to somewhere else in the story.   NOTE:  I put a note in the manuscript that is what I'm doing.  If that does not work, then I go with C) to another project, or do a writing prompt...this circumvents the internal critic.

If I do take a break, I go play with the dog (I also have a cat now), or take a walk, or watch some TV.  Housework is oftentimes cathartic, and gets you into a zen moment.  Whatever way you choose to get past the "block" AKA "Internal Critic," you need to choose what works for you.  Because, sometimes if you try to force it, your mind rebels to the point where you just won't do it.

Be good to yourself, and give yourself permission to take that break

Friday, October 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics Part 2

The Sprint

So yesterday, or rather probably earlier this morning, I wrote about the rules of writing practice to get rid of that pesky internal critic.   Keep the hand moving, Be specific, Go for the jugular, Don't edit or cross out, Lose control, and You are free to write the worse crap in the universe.   This is the way I do writing sprints.  I come at Nano with an idea, and some characters fleshed out.  Basics like where I think the story will go...but the actual writing comes out as one long writing practice.

So you want to participate in sprints...GREAT!  They are very helpful.  Don't worry if you get only 200 words or 800 words, any words are all good.   Having said that, here is what I do when I go into sprinting for the day.    In the Manuscript, I start out with notations..."Day 1" then underneath "Sprint 1," or 2,3.4 etc.   At the end of the sprint, I highlight that sprint, and do a word count.  Once I do that, I add that count underneath the sprint.   And then I start out the next sprint with "Sprint 2." and so on until I quit for the day.  I normally don't wait until the end of the day to do the next step.   Just add to the document as I go.   But I do what I call a "Sprint Log."  Here is what it looks like.

Day      Sprint 1         Sprint 2          Total for day       Total for project    Daily Goal

Something like that.  You could also add a column for your own daily goal, or the target of 1667 words (going down the entire column.

Then I have a dry erase board, where I put the figures (totals only) at the end of the day.  That way I can see it in front of me as I work.

Make sure when you are adding your totals into your manuscript, you save OFTEN!

Tomorrow (or as soon as I can), I will continue with an in depth part of what I do in a first draft.

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics

Countdown to NaNoWriMo 2012!

      Yes, it is almost that time of year, when Lisa's thoughts turn to ones of writing 50k words in the month of November.  That lovely 30 day time frame that I and countless others know as, "NaNoWriMo" or National Novel Writing Month.   The goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days.  Hard you say?  Not really....especially when you break it down into 1667 per day.  And not when you consider that NaNoWriMo is for first drafts.  Which are called "Rough," for a reason.
      Years ago, a friend mentioned Natalie Goldbergs "Writing Down The Bones."  I read it, and others after from her, and found not only inspiration to write, but the that first drafts don't have to be pretty. They don't have to be publishable polished gems at the end of the month either.   The first draft phase is just to get the words on paper.
     Natalie came up with 5 rules for writing practices:

          1)  Keep your hand moving.  Don't let it stop, if you don't know what to write, write, "I don't know what to write," as many times as needed.  If it is a grocery list, write that.  As long as it is writing, it counts.

          2)  Lose Control- Don't worry about anyone seeing it.  Go for the jugular.  This is a first draft after all.

          3)  Be specific-  Honda Accord not Blue car.   Oak Tree, Levi's jeans.   These are the details that bring your character to life.

          4)  Don't think-  Go with your first thoughts.  Which I now sounds counter-intuitive, or wrong.  But it really does work, trust me...would I lie to you?   (don't answer that lol).

         5)  (and my personal favorite).  You are free to write the worst junk in the world/universe/cosmos.  The first draft is the place where you don't have to worry about punctuation, or that you got the characters name wrong.  This is the place where you are free to write whatever the heck you want to write.

    I also suggest getting into a sprint group, or just sprinting on your own.  There is one that I have started called "Sprinters Unite" on Facebook if you are interested in sprinting there.  Sprinting is usually 20 minute timed writing, where you just write as rough as you can.  The word count really adds up with them.

  If you are new to Nano, then there is some advice that this 4 time participant 3 time winner can pass on to you.  Make sure you get some away from the computer time.  Go for a walk.  Eat decent food and get enough rest.  Nothing kills creativity worse than not taking yourself!
  Another tip if you get stuck.  Move to another scene.  You can do this by putting asterisks and a comment like: "*Note:  This is an out of order scene, should go into Chapter X."

I also keep a sprint log sheet for the month.  That way I always know where I am at and where I should be.  There are calendars with the daily accumulative word counts on them, use them...they are really good resources to have.

Tomorrow (if I can), I will put up instructions on how to put together my sprint log.   I will definitely have it up the day after by the latest.  I may be travelling on a work assignment soon.  So I will try to get it on here in the next couple of days.

Happy Writing.