Still Getting Back into the Swing of Writing

I notice my last post was written in April this year — five months ago. Seems a lot longer to me. Things continue to be difficult, draining, and I continued to not write.

However, thoughts of writing remain with me. I find myself looking at book covers and wondering if The Lion Gods or Domino Effect would suit them. Scenes of their plots play out in my mind. Character faces (how I imagined them when I wrote about them) pop up unexpectedly for a fleeting moment. Difficult scenes I need to write twirl around and fly away. I’ve even found myself on Pinterest reading writing tips and saving them to my writing board.

The urge to write is growing. I feel it will happen soon. It makes me happy to think and believe this to be true.

October will be the start of (another) new chapter for me. Between now and then I will move (again). When I unpack my belongings, which have been boxed up and stored away for over three years, I will hopefully be living in my forever home.

I intend to set up a writing space for myself. I have promised myself that when I get that space, I will write.

I will write!

Yes, I will write. My plan is to start with a short period of time, or a low word count. 10 minutes a day sounds good to start with. No pressure. Then I will allow myself to increase that to half an hour and eventually to an hour a day. The promise I made to myself does not go beyond that. One hour a day. No pressure. I want to write because I want to, because I have a story to share. Not because I have to.

Roll on October. ๐Ÿ˜€

Getting Back into the Swing of Writing

Getting back into the swing of writingย is a post written by Australian author Alison Tait. The title grabbed my attention and inspired me to write this post. Let me be honest, I haven’t written a thing in three years. Not a single word. In my defence I’ve had a lot on my mind, and I’m told I’ve been through multiple highly stressful situations during this time, however, in the past that’s when I write the most. But not this time.

I’m starting to find my feet and I have discovered over recent weeks I’ve thought about writing. Thinking and doing are two different things, I know that, but for me thinking is a step closer.ย 

There are five things I really do enjoy. Well, maybe I should say, I used to really enjoy. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Researching my family tree
  4. Playing the PlayStation
  5. Taking long walks with G and our dog.

I’ve never stopped reading. However, I can’t say the same for the other things on my list. Over the last few months though, I’ve restarted four of the five things. The only thing left to restart is the writing. I want to start. I guess this post is the first step. I wrote the post. I acknowledge my desire. I now have to … write.

I’ll get back to you in relation to this.

15 Grammar Goofs that Make You Look Silly

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s life! But when you’re an aspiring writer then you should take the time to learn the basics in grammar. Using the wrong word in a sentence can change its meaning. More importantly, it can also make you look silly to the reader.

Here are some basics you should know:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
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Writing Course: Self-Editing Your Work

You have written a story – short story or novel, it doesn’t matter. Now it is time to self-edit it. It is easy to find flaws in other people’s work, but quite difficult to recognise them in your own.

There are three components of self-editing:

1. line/copy-editing,
2. sentence editing,
3. content editing.

Line/Copy-editing

A point to remember, whilst the spell check in word processors will identify some misspelt words, you should never rely on it when self-editing as they do not pick up words that are correctly spelled but used in the wrong context (such as to, too, two, their, there, would, wood).

However, you should use the ‘find and replace’ function to check the following:

[table style=”1″]

What to Look For What to Do
Words ending with ‘ly’ Adverbs tell rather than show. A lot of the time if you strengthen the verb, you can eliminate the adverb.
and, so, but, however, because Avoid connectives where possible. Try a full stop and make two sentences, or rearrange and shorten the sentence.
that If the sentence reads well without it, delete it.
thing, stuff Don’t be lazy! Be specific.
he, she, him, her, his, hers If you have two or more characters, don’t rely on pronouns as the reader can become confused as to who is doing/saying what.

[/table]

Sentence Editing

Once you’ve completed the basic line/copy-edit to correct spelling and grammar, you will need to examine your sentences and the words used. Ask yourself these questions:

Is the language specific, strong?
Do your words allow visualisation?
Is the main character well developed, convincing?
Will the reader sympathise with the main character?
Is there jargon or cliches that should be removed?
Are you too wordy or concise?
Is the word choice supportive of the setting?
Is the tone consistent?
Are there shifts in tone, tense, style or voice?
Is the dialogue convincing?
Does the dialogue move the story along?
Does the dialogue reveal character, conflict or emotion?

Content Editing

The course tackles this last but I feel this should be the first thing you do as major changes could result which may mean the work you’ve already completed in the line/copy-edit and sentence edit has been wasted.

Some more questions you should ask yourself:

What is your story about?
Can you sum up, in one sentence, what you story is about?
Are you saying what you want to say?
What does the main character want? Is this clear from the start?
Where is the story set? Is it important?
Will the reader relate to the main character?
Does the story have direction?
Is there a catchy beginning?
Is the conflict clear from the beginning?
Do the characters face interesting obstacles and make difficult decisions?
Does every action have cause and effect?
Is the main character well developed and interesting?
What is the character’s ruling passion or fatal flaw?
Does the character struggle, grow, change, make a stand?
Is the right character telling the story?
Does the setting create the right mood, have a strong sense of time and place, further the theme and plot?
Is there continuance, consistency and credibility?
Has the point of view or tense changed?
Are the characters believable?
Is the narrative voice right for the story?

Professional Presentation

Once the story has been written, rewritten and edited until it is the best it can be, it is time to take steps to ‘present’ your work in a professional manner.

I would recommend you using William Shunn’s Proper Manuscript Format Website as a guide, but here’s a quick checklist:

  • Use A4 good quality white paper
  • Use no less than 12 point black font
  • Never use colour ink
  • Use double spacing for manuscript content
  • Use a title page, or more often these days, insert the following onto the first page of the manuscript:
      story title
      author’s name
      approximate word count
      full name, address and contact details
  • Insert into top header, except first page, right aligned, in the following format:
      story title/ author’s surname / page number
  • Left justify content.
  • Make sure there is no extra white space between paragraphs and the first line of each paragraph is indented up to five spaces (3 is a good number).
  • Never bind pages.
  • Always keep a backup copy on disk (or, do what I do, email yourself a copy for safe keeping).
  • Most important, always read the publisher guidelines and do as directed. Always!