Wednesday, April 25, 2012

C.S Lewis: On Writing

A lot of writers have rules and techniques for creating those perfect sentences. C.S Lewis just says it better..

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."
4. In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."
5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

(Taken from: 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quick Challenge #2

First line Challenge: 
Write about the moment before a disaster and a character with suicidal tendencies.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


There are two sides to me as a writer. One side wants to hold onto the traditions of the past, capture the old way of speaking and writing of the great writers of our history. The other wants to break every rule created. It's a fine balance in writing but I believe that a mix of both leads to the best kind of writing, writing that catches you in its current and pulls you under until you are left breathless and with a lasting impression. 

Poetry is a method of writing that breaks through all barriers and it's where I find most of my inspiration. My favorite poets are John Keats and e.e. cummings. They both represent the old and the new in beautiful ways. 

Bright Star by John Keats

"Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art-- 
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death." 

e.e. cummings "i carry your heart"

"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                                  i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)."

What are your favorite poems for inspiration?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing Emotion

Not all emotion in your story has to come about through description. Sometimes, like in Jane Eyre, its all about your choice of words.

"Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?

Do you think because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, and full of as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is me to leave you.

... I am not talking to you in mortal is my spirit that addresses your spirit..."
  ~Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

I think this version of Jane Eyre does this scene splendidly.

What are some other ways to express emotion through words?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Challenge

First line challenge...

Rewrite "Call me Ishmael." Add a knife and a balloon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

White's Elements of Style: #1

        1. Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's

The pronominal possessives hers, its, theirs, yours, and oneself have no apostrophe.

How many times have you confused them? I know I have.

Inspirational Quote 4/17/12

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stuck in a Rut: Writer's Block

For a couple days I have felt stuck in a writer's rut. It was like writer's block but I just couldn't move forward until I figured out an essential part of my plot. But no inspiration was coming.

I was looking through the web for some inspiration when I read that the best way to overcome writer's block is to write.


An obvious idea right? But its so true. On your first draft of any novel, write with no one looking. You have to write anything that is in your head and worry about whether its good or not later.

So write your first draft  as fast as you can knowing you'll have another draft to make it sing.

How do you overcome writer's block?

Sunday, April 15, 2012


#1: First Lines

Step One in starting your novel:

Stop for a moment and congratulate yourself. You have what many don't: the courage to write. Its a difficult profession, one where only a few attain the recognition we all seek. But its also a beautiful profession. If you're like me, writing is more than just a hobby or something to do. It is a lifestyle and it can easily consume every part of your life.

So write down on a piece of paper or  post it note your vows: I will not give up, I will always be growing, I will always believe that I have something to say.

Now put this on your mirror or your laptop or somewhere that you will see it often. It will help when you are tempted to watch another hour of TV or go on facebook one last time.

Now take another blank piece of paper and write your first line.

I believe that starting with a first line propels you into the kind of story you want to write. You may know what the plot is, what the ending is, but don't write that down yet. Just your first line.

Let your character speak. Not you or your mother or your sister. Your character.

Make this first line shocking even to you. Let it surprise you that someone could think that. Let it shock you that you wrote it.

After this first line or first paragraph you can now begin planning.

And remember: Say something that embarrasses, shocks, scares, offends.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Never. Stop. Writing.

Inspirational Quote ~ 4/14/12

Inspirational Quote of the Day:

"The writer must be in it, he can't be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always."        ~Arthur Miller

Murdering Your Darlings

Your characters are your babies, your darlings, your best friends and yet when you think of them in this respect that is when you lose real characters and interesting plot lines.

Stephen King says in his book, On Writing, "Try anything you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it out. Toss it even if you love it. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, "Murder your darlings," and he was right."

The goal of any book is to use your characters for some overarching purpose, whether a moral or a lesson or even just an impression of something. This means that everything has to go wrong for characters until the end when they have attained the victory they have sought since the beginning (unless of course this is a tragedy).

Now this doesn't mean you have to physically murder your characters. You can just make them suffer in every way possible. And then at the end of your book, once the reader has overcome all the bad things the character has, the victory in the end will be more sweet and more satisfying.

What ways can you "murder your darlings" without actually killing them off?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lessons I've Learned About Writing

A friend was reading my third draft of a YA Science Fiction novel and pointed out that sometimes he didn't understand my sentences or my world. He explained that some of the adjectives I chose didn't produce the sense of the world I was aiming for. That hit me really hard and then totally clicked.

So Lesson #1 in what I've learned about writing:

The image in a reader's mind is of utmost importance. It is the heart of writing and the reason why so many people write and why so many people read. So that first image in your reader's mind needs to be the focus of your sentences and your paragraphs and eventually your entire book. As writers we don't have the luxury of movie screens where the world and characters are produced for the reader. In fiction, the writers have to do the work for the reader.

And so the image should be the focus of every sentence. Once your image is clearly laid out for your reader then breathe life into it with sound, smell, action, feeling.

Only then will you have produced something worthy of the reader's affection.

Happy writing!

Inspirational Quote

Sometimes all it takes to be inspired is a quote by an author you love. Today's inspirational quote is an all-time favorite one of mine by Ray Bradbury:

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for."