July Noticeboard

July 31, 2009

Well, July has come and gone. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog 6 months ago (February 1). Thanks to everyone who read and commented. Without you, this blog would have been a failure.

This blog has changed its look over the months. It looked like this in February:

How my blog looked the very first day

How my blog looked the very first day

Since then, the blog has had many other face lifts, but I think I like this best. I’d love it if it had 3 columns though.

Poseidon’s Trident:
Current Chapter in First Draft (Typed) Stage:
10/42
Current Chapter in Edit Stage: None
Pages this Month: 20
Pages Overall: 55

Daniel Fox:
Current Story in Rough Draft Stage:
To Kill A Killer
Current Story in Edit Stage: None

Goals for July:

  • Write the equivalent of 100 words/day, aka 3100 wordsCheck. Over 5000 words.
  • Edit TF – Again, No. I seem to detest editing.
  • Keep working on TKAK – Nope. No time.

I pumped through PT this month. I worked on Chapter eight for the majority of this month, and decided that the chapter could be split into two. So now the chapter is chapter eight and nine. I finished Chapter Nine, did some rearranging, then started Chapter 10.
What else is there? You can check out my short stories at my Writing.Com account. The link is on the sidebar, or you can click here. I encourage you to take a look.

Goals for August:

  • Write at least 100 words  everyday.
  • Actually start editing TF
  • Keep working on TKAK

That pretty much sums up my month. Next month, I’ll be doing a post on what I learnt from a critique on Beth’s site earlier this month, and a few articles.

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Common Mistakes in Dialogue

July 24, 2009

Following on from a previous post about dialogue (click here to read it), I’d like to look at some common mistakes made, when writing dialogue.

When writing dialogue, it’s important not to have mistakes in it. Some common mistakes include:

  • Saying ‘Ummm’: We might use it in real life, but it has no place in our writing.
  • Using character names in the dialogue: This is alright if used appropriately, but not if it is used often.
  • Long speeches: These can bore the reader, and could result in them putting the book down.
  • Not using dialogue tags: In long conversations, if dialogue tags are not used, readers can lose track of who said what.
  • Don’t include pleasantries: These bore your readers, and are really unnecessary. Get to the point.
  • Sounding stilted: Don’t let you dialogue be to ‘formal’, or unfluent. Instead of saying “Mother, I would not like to meet this person. He is a disgusting man,” say “I don’t want to talk to him mum. He’s gross!”

I’m sure there’s more common errors when writing dialogue, but that’s just a selection. Avoiding them should take your dialogue from being ‘okay’ to ‘great’. And isn’t that what we want?


Write What You Know

July 15, 2009

‘Write what you know’. As writers, we most likely hear this advice often throughout our writing career. For beginning writers, it’s one of the most misleading pieces of advice they can ever be given. Does it mean, that writers can only write about what we know and have experienced? We can only write about our lives? Because, lets face it. Life isn’t very interesting (this excludes the lives of Creative Non Fiction authors). Can a farmer only write about farmers, and can a pilot only write about pilots? Who wants to read about Sally, the accountant, as she tackles a difficult tax return? What about Bob, the doctor, trying to find medicine to give to his patients? *Yawn* Not me.

No, as writers, we are not restricted to writing about our daily lives. Sure, we should have an understanding about what we write – it makes the story we tell more realistic and believable – but we don’t have to have experience it first hand. So how can we get that understanding? I mean, George Lucas has never flown to distant planets in a spaceship, JRR Tolkien has never battled with hideous orcs, and JK Rowling has never ridden a broomstick while throwing balls through hoops, so how did they do it?

With a little help from their imagination. Using our imagination, we can experience what would otherwise be impossible. Never flown in a spaceship? I’m flying in a plane would be a similar experience. Fighting orcs? What about play fighting with a giant of a man. What about being chased by a dragon? (Do not try this at home, but) wouldn’t being almost hit by a car/bus/truck be similar? My house is near a slight bend in the road. When checking the mail, it can be unnerving to watch a car approach. The cars look like they’re just about to hit me, when they follow the road away.

What else can we do to have an understanding? Well, we can research. We are very lucky to live in an age with technology, and we should take full advantage of it. Search it on the internet. Contact experts in the field. Ask someone who has done what your asking about. I’m sure if you asked someone, they would be happy to assist you.

Another thing we can do is act. If you’re writing an action scene, get your husband/wife/brother/sister/friend to help you act it out. Go through the moves. One of my chapters in PT contains a scene where the MC is swimming in the ocean. I plan on waiting until summer, then going for a swim, so I can feel first hand the feel of the cool water on my skin. If you can, visit a handgun range, to try shooting guns, to get a feel for the recoil. What does it feel like? What does it sound like? Is the gun heavier than you expected? Lighter?

Probably the best thing to help you to ‘write what you know’ is emotions. We all know what it is like to be happy, scared, angry. Use these emotions to your advantage. Take Black Beauty for example. Anna Sewell, the author, isn’t a horse, so how could she write in the mind of one? Simple. She gave it human emotions. The power to be happy, sad, angry, surprised, fearful. Even if our characters are monsters, or ailens, they’re going to be given our human emotions.

Writing what you know can be very difficult, if you try to write by using your ordinary life for inspiration. But following those tips can broaden your knowledge of what you know, which not only gives you the chance to write about what you have never experienced, but also makes your writing more believable. And isn’t that what we want?


Freedom

July 13, 2009

*Sigh* As I write this, I realise I have less than 14 hours of freedom holidays. Less, if you exclude sleeping time. Schools on tomorrow, so it’s time to check in on my holiday goals.

At the end of June, I made it a holiday goal to write the equivalent of 100 words a day. That equals 1800 words for the holidays. So how much did I write? A whopping 5.8K!!! Woo!

My goal overall this month was to write 3.1K (about 100words/day). So far it’s been easy, because I’ve been at home. The biggest challenge will be maintaining this goal after I’ve returned to school. To try and maintain this goal, I’m getting up at 6:00am to write. Have you ever tried that? It takes a lot of self discipline to get out of bed at that time of the morning. *Groan* I’ll be setting up my laptop the night before.

UPDATE: I just couldn’t get out of bed this morning. I was too tired, and I wasn’t sure if the sound was off on my laptop (I didn’t want to wake everyone). Nevermind, I’ll try again on Friday.

I’ve been thinking about writing about a homicide detective for a while now. In an attempt to be proactive, I started a character profile for him. I like his first name, William, but not so much his surname, Kirby. Any suggestions would be most welcome.


Tips to Writing Action

July 6, 2009

I’ll admit it – I find action scenes hard to write. I just feel I keep repeating myself “He shot, she dodged, and fired also, but he dodged”. I’m sure there are some writers who write action scenes easily, but I’m also sure that the majority of writers find it hard. To me, action scenes are an important aspect of many books, and well written action scenes are sure to make me enjoy the book even more. So how do you write good action? As the title of this post suggests, I’m going to tell you.

Action scenes need to move quickly: I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but it’s important. If the action is going slow, then readers will become bored, and skip ahead, or even put down  the book. The quick pace of the action can be shown in the words we use. Instead of using ‘ran’, we could use ‘sprinted’, ‘darted’, ‘dashed’, ‘rushed’, ‘scurried’ or many more. The pace can also be shown using quick, short sentences.

Verbs: Action is all about movement. So you have to describe the movements. Verbs describe to the reader what happens. When writing your first draft, your choice of words isn’t so important – you can change them later, and it’s important to get the words down. But when editing, get out a thesaurus, and look up the best verb.

Minimum Dialogue:
Dialogue can get in the way of our action scenes. Keep dialogue to a minimum, and keep the talking quick. Don’t have long pieces of dialogue in the middle of the action. Keep it to a few sentences.

Tension: As someone put it, ‘half the action isn’t about the action’. The other half is about emotions. How did she feel about being punched in the cheek? Is he scared of losing? How did he feel about killing someone? These emotions allow the reader to connect with the characters, and feel for them. The readers want the MC to win.

Descriptive language: When writing the action scenes, don’t just write that person A hit person B and person B fell to the floor. Describe it. How did person A hit? Where did person A hit person B? Face? Stomach? And how did person B fall? Did person B try to move out of the way, or didn’t the person see it coming? Describing those actions make the scenes more alive.

Avoid taking the easy way out: Ever seen a movie where an action scene is filled with thins that seem unrealistic? The car hit’s the wall and explodes into a fireball, or one shot from the MC into the antagonists bonnet of the car, and the car is wrecked? Readers read those things in books, and feel cheated. They feel the writer took the quick way out by ramming the baddies car into the wall where it explodes, just to end the scene. Don’t do this. Instead, write a way for the protagonist to finished the fight.

Read other Action scenes: This is a hard one for me, because when I read, I get sucked into the story. I’m not thinking about what verbs the writer uses, or about the choice of adjectives. But if you can do it, do it. What words does the writer use to build tension. What verbs are used? What about adjectives?

I hope you learn something from this post. I just finished writing an action scene But tell me, what are your tips on writing great action scenes?