Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fried Macaroni and Cheese

I watched a cooking show the other day on fried everything. In addition to fried macaroni and cheese, they had showed how to make fried pizza and fried candy bars before I switched to another channel. You may find these delights appetizing, but I find it overkill.

I think that pizza, on its own, is high enough in fat for my conscience. I don't need someone adding on guilt to that pleasure by dipping it in egg, then dredging it in flour, then tossing it into a deep-fat fryer. At some point, we have to say no to the madness.

I know it's a jump, but that show brought the topic of adjectives and adverbs to mind, and I felt compelled to write this short piece about not deep-fat frying our writing when it's already delicious the way it is. Check your writing... are you overusing adverbs and adjectives?

To test your writing, strip a couple of paragraphs of all adverbs and adjectives. Read it. What do you think? Maybe some of those descriptors were needed, but try to punch up the writing without them. Choose verbs that show the action, replace the nouns that are general with specific ones. See if that doesn't create a better piece of fiction than you can create by deep-fat frying it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Creative Crunch

The last push...

What is that energy that kicks in when you are almost to the end of a project? I know that it is attributed to adrenalin. Scientifically, I'm sure that's the answer, but I call it the Creative Crunch.

There's just something that happens when I get close to the end of a writing project that keeps me going beyond the limit of belief. It happened this week. I finished a manuscript. After talking with a colleague, I decided to redesign the look of it -- you know, increase white space, etc.

Wha? What kind of a silly thing is that to do when you've already read and worked on the manuscript until you have smudges to the elbows and keyboard imprints on your cheeks and forehead?

It's the kind of silly thing that we do as writers. It's important to work beyond capacity and come out unscathed on the other side. It makes you believe in the magic of the Creative Crunch.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Selling your book without resorting to hard-sell tactics.

If you're a writer and have a book you are trying to sell, your blog can help you in many ways. You can post the book cover on it, tell a bit about the book to entice people to purchase it and put up a buy button to seal the deal. But how do you attract potential customers to your blog?

One way to attract people to your blog is to write interesting and entertaining posts that people will want to read. By posting more than just your book, you'll attract a readership and those readers may turn into customers. So, make your blog or website about more than just selling your book.

In order to attract readers and potential customers, you might want to take advantage of social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to tell readers that you have posted to your blog. On your blog:

1. Write posts that will interest those who would be interested in the topic or genre of your book.

2. Start a conversation with your readers. When you post to your blog, end the blog by asking a question or requesting a comment.

3. Go on Twitter and Facebook and tell your friends and followers that you have posted to your blog and invite them to read your latest post and comment on it.

4. Get involved in the conversation and talk through the comments and through Twitter and Facebook with those who comment on your blog.

Make your book available on your blog or website but sell it indirectly. By selling yourself through your postings and conversations with those who visit your blog, you'll go a long way in selling your book.

What are your tips on attracting attention to your book?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clarify your writing

Don't plop your reader down in the middle of a jungle of words. Readers won't lose their way in your story, book or essay unless you don't provide a path for them to follow.

Your writing doesn't need to be simplified so much as it needs to be clarified. Compose your words so they lead your readers to the point you are trying to make. Instead of making your reader hack through a mess of weeds and vines (usually known as extra adjectives, adverbs and redundant phrases) that obliterate your message, give them a clear yet colorful path to follow.

In order to write with clarity, you need to be willing to delete some of your favorite words, phrases and even sentences that, no matter how beautiful the combination of words, don't move the story forward. Save them for another piece.

Write with clarity by deleting words and phrases that lead nowhere.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Post-Holiday Writing Slump -- Get Going

So often I write about writing techniques and how to put your ideas together. I rarely write about how to pull yourself out of a slump.

I usually experience some sort of slump in January. The holidays are over, the weather turns bad, and I just want to stare at the walls until life seems to brighten.

No more of that. This year I'm going to have a productive January. I'm not going to see February 1st and wonder where January went. So, here's how I plan to do that....

1. I'm going to make a list of writing projects and put them in order of execution.

2. I'm going to pull out the first on the list and do a little on it each morning. The others on the list are up for grabs. I can work on them any time I want. That turns them into a reward (a trick I play on my motivation).

3. I'm going to move around more during the month. This may sound silly, but I sit more in January than in any other month. It's a known fact that if you move more, you will be more creative. It stirs the blood and makes your brain function better.


4. I'm going to allow myself some recreational writing... you know, writing that doesn't count. Artists sketch and doodle all over every piece of paper. Writers should allow themselves the same option.

That's it. That's my plan.

How about you? How do you plan to avoid that post-holiday writing slump? Leave a comment.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Make Room for Readers - Leave White Space in Your Blog Posts

Have you ever clicked on a link in anticipation only to be greeted by a page of continuous words? It's daunting.

Most often when this happens to me, I click on something else. As bloggers we must first make our pages look inviting to readers so they won't turn away. Here are some ways to do this:

1.Write in short paragraphs of two or three sentences. This will naturally leave white space between paragraphs and the writing will look easy on the eyes.

2. Use lists within a long document to make it more approachable. Use bullets or numbers to set off the beginning of each item in your list. This makes it easy for the reader to find the next item.

3. Illustrate your writing with pictures or charts. This, also, makes it easier to read and will condense technical information into a more interesting format.

4. Be sure to edit your writing down to the concise bits that are needed to convey the information. Get rid of the rest.

Easy as that, you have a blog post that will welcome readers.