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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/554627-The-Writing-Practice-Journal/sort_by/entry_order DESC, entry_creation_time DESC/page/2
by Joy
Rated: 18+ · Book · Writing · #554627
Encounters with the Writing Process
From Kathleen's bids

New Intention:

Now in 2017 and the following years, if any, I shall use this journal for whatever I please to write. *Rolling*
Still, I reiterate: Read at your own risk!

Old Intentions:
Now, starting with June 2013, I will use this journal for the entries for "I Write in June-July-August . Afterward, I'll go back to the part I have down below in red. Still, read at your own risk
. *Laugh*

Now, starting at the end of 2010, I am going to write into this journal directly, without making any other copies. Freeflow, but from prompts. I may use prompts or simple sentences as prompts, which I'll put on the subject line. I'll probably use some of the prompts from the Writing.com app.

And yes, I do intend to make a fool of myself, because I miss writing on a good old fashioned typewriter with no other cares. Maybe some ancient and wise author like Dickens will watch me from Heaven, shake his head, and say, "You haven't made a dent." Not a dent, but making my own mud is my intention. So, if you read, read at your own risk. *Laugh*

Truth is, I had started this journal in 2002 for the different reason of writing down ideas on the craft of writing. Over the years, my personal blog took over what I wanted to do here. Afterwards I continued with writing exercises with no order or plan to the entries. And now, this.

Who says I can't let my hair down! Okay, I can't because my hair is short. *Wink* But I've got nerve.

*Flower4**Pencil* *Shamrock* *Pencil* *Flower4**Flower4**Pencil* *Shamrock* *Pencil* *Flower4**Flower4**Pencil**Flower4**Pencil* *Shamrock* *Pencil* *Flower4* *Shamrock* *Pencil* *Flower4**Flower4**Pencil* *Shamrock* *Pencil* *Flower4*

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June 14, 2010 at 6:10pm
June 14, 2010 at 6:10pm
June 14, 2010
From The Daily Writer by Fred White

"Write twelve what-if questions. Write a page long synopsis for one of them."
(The advice is to write the page long synopsis for each what if question for 12 days, then to develop one synopsis into a novel or a novella. I will, however, do one synopsis today and probably leave others to another time. This exercise might be useful for NaNo.)

1. What if the late sixteenth century Puritans had a secret community still in existence in a mountainous area and their conclave held their meeting inside a cave to decide to purify he USA of today?

2. What if Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Seminole Indian had killed a Florida Panther instead of his sailor killing an albatross (The Rime of Ancient Mariner)? What would Coleridge write?

3. What if a dictator in an imaginary land had prohibited visual arts, that is, painting, movies, TV, computers etc.?

4. What if a person remembered everything, every single thing? What would his life be like? His relationships?

5. What if an envious, bitter woman who habitually undercuts her sister’s success and self-confidence suddenly starts helping her? What brought on the change?

6.What if a rich, megalomaniac man who owns an island (or two? Several?) on the Pacific Ocean steals other people’s children, all of them the same age, to put together a new nation? Also what if a stranger is shipwrecked on this island when the children are fifteen years of age?

7. What if while giving someone a haircut, something goes wrong in the hairdresser’s mind and she shaves the one side of the head totally? (Comedy?)

8. What if a stranger keeps following another person around while the stranger does the same as that person does? Like ordering the Mocha Lattés in Starbucks or the same dinner in a restaurant, offering to share the same taxi ride, going to the movies to see the same show, etc.

9. What if an average child with 105 IQ turns (slowly?) into a prodigy?

10. What if a heroic character, to feed a small populace in a forlorn place, tries to bypass a tyrant who has locked all the food in storage?

11. What if our internet can be accessed from other galaxies?

12. What if a chemical causes paranoia among a group of cruisers and they accuse one another all the time? What kind of a sight-seeing cruise would that be?

Synopsis for no. 6 :

What if a rich, megalomaniac man who owns an island (or two? Several?) on the Pacific Ocean steals other people’s children, all of them the same age, to put together a new nation? Also what if a stranger is shipwrecked on this island when the children are fifteen years of age?

Chapter 1. The rich egomaniacal man with his posse inspects the 300 well-built cabins on an island while he tells his second-in-command of his dreams for future.

Chapter 2. The rich man donates to the schools to pinpoint candidates for children who will assume the leadership roles. Everyone adores the rich man for his altruism and encouraging actions for education.

Chapter 3. The gathering of ten-year-old children has begun. Most children are kidnapped from the orphanages. Those to assume the leadership roles are taken from the private schools.

Chapter 4. Children are kidnapped, drugged, and brought to the island. This island is for habitation. Two other islands are for raising crops and making things that the children will need.

Chapter 5. The Children are made to believe that a catastrophe (An asteroid hitting the earth?) is in the near future and that they are here to save the species. They are also taken daily to the other islands to be made to work, that is, to raise or produce what they need.

Chapter 6. Four of the children (the smartest) form a secret clique.

Chapter 7. One child from the clique yells at a teacher or rather an agent of the rich man that he doesn’t believe in the asteroid fable. He is secretly taken away from the community of children to a a re-indoctrination center resembling a prison.

Chapter 8. The other three do not believe what they are told, but they are smart enough not to show it, since they have guessed that something bad happened to their friend for yelling out loud what he believed in.

Chapter 9. The re-indoctrinated child returns and tells the other three about the re-indoctrination center. The other three convince the fourth that he had been brainwashed.

Chapter 10. The four children slowly start convincing the others that their benefactor (the rich man) is a crazy guy and no asteroid is going to hit the earth.

Chapter 11. The children revolt. They are met with tear gas and punished with hunger. The rich man explains his coming and going to them by saying that he has a home in a very tiny fourth island and that he’ll leave the ruling of the community to the most industrious and obedient child.

Chapter 12 A hurricane hits the islands. Three children among the 300 are dead. The rich man convinces them that the asteroid has hit the other side of the earth.

Chapter 13. A shipwrecked sailor swims ashore at the island. Two of the four children find him. The sailor tells them about the hurricane and that no asteroid ever hit the earth.

Chapter 14. The shipwrecked sailor, threatened with death, is silenced by the so-called elders and he stays in the island with the children.

Chapter 15. Years pass. The children are fifteen and quite happy. They are encouraged to procreate to re-populate the earth.

Chapter 16. A big ship passes by, visible to all the children who believed, up to then, that they were the only living beings on earth. The ship’s existence throws suspicion.

Chapter 17. The shipwrecked sailor has managed to make friends with the four non-believers in the rich man’s words. By this time, two of the four have become lovers and they want to escape for better or worse.

Chapter 18. The two open to the sea, in the middle of the night, together with the sailor. The other two try to keep the elders and the other children at bay for about half a day.

Chapter 19. The sailor and the two kids are on the open sea. In the distance, they see a liner and are picked up by the crew whose captain sends word to authorities even though he doesn’t believe in what he’s heard.

Chapter 20. By now, the sailor’s escape with the two is discovered. The rich man tells the community that they drowned and their bodies were thrown ashore at his home island where he buried them with his own hands.

Chapter 21. As he talks, several navy ships appear in the horizon. Everyone in the community runs to the beach as the rich man takes off in his helicopter. From one of the navy ships the two fifteen year-olds with the sailor watch their friends waving at the ships from the shore.


Duh! I'm so NOT going to write this!

June 10, 2010 at 5:44pm
June 10, 2010 at 5:44pm
June 10, 2010


                   Exercise from The 3AM Epiphany by Brian Kiteley

“Write a fragment of a story about a villain who gets away with a serious and perhaps brutal crime and enjoys the fruits of his crime (or simply enjoys the fact that nothing happens after this crime). Love this character and try to make him at least somewhat lovable to us. …Crime is often an act of envy. According to an early meaning of the word, someone is evil who crosses class boundaries (more below).” 600 + words


“Sonova bitch, rich kid!” Lou lifted the heavy bag to the back of the SUV and closed the hatch. Rot in there! he thought, panting from exertion. He had walked from the back of the theater to the town’s parking lot, carrying the load.

This one had been easy as cake but he didn’t have time to dawdle or appear nervous. Under the shade of a tree a few feet away from the SUV, he took off his jacket and switched it inside out. Double-sided jackets helped him in cool weather and in his work, the work he was meant to do; the work he wasn’t paid for and not the work of a manager in the theater complex.

Without hesitating, he passed through the brush into the parking lot of the theater.


Who was calling him now? “He looked toward the back of the theater.

Jules! His assistant manager.

About 300 feet from Lou, Jules’s overpowering figure stood in the backdoor. Darn! Had he seen him? Jules was turning his head from side to side as he called out for Lou. Maybe not. Maybe Jules had not seen him.

Lou moved fast, squatting down among the vehicles, to the west wall of the building and entered the theater from the side door where the restrooms were. He dashed into a stall to quiet his panting.

“Hey, Lou! Are you in there somewhere?” Jules’s voice.

“Yeah!” Lou answered. “Coming!”

“I’ve been looking for you all over the place. A little boy's asking for you.”

“What little boy?”

Lou walked out of the stall to the faucet.

“Is something wrong?” Jules asked

“Man, it must be something I ate. It’s killing me.”

“You ate the black bean pancakes again, didn’t you! Well, never mind. It’ll go away. A kid says Uncle Lou promised him something.”

“Oh, I sort of remember it. I told him I’d let him into the Saturday matinee.” Lou tossed at the waste receptacle the paper towel he'd dried his hands with.

“Lou, why do you do this all the time?” Jules looked at him accusingly.

“What? Making a poor boy happy? This boy’s mother. She’s a cashier. They’re dirt poor. What if I let him in for free?”

From behind him, Jules closed the door with the sign of a stick-figure of a man on it. “Lou, you gotta stop giving away freebies. The place will go bankrupt.”

“I only give to the poor. The rich grab it from us anyway.”

“The rich can make us rich, too. Remember that!”

“Where’s the boy?”

“Right over there, by the popcorn machine.”

“Oh, yeah. I see him. Thanks, Jules.”

In the foyer, Lou took long strides toward a boy about ten years old, a boy with the coal black hair and large dark eyes.

“Hello, Danny!” He shouted from afar, and when he reached near him, he stooped down a bit to stare directly into the boy’s eyes.

“Denny. I’m Dennis,” the boy said, pulling at the hem of his faded tee-shirt

“Yes, of course, Denny.” Lou slapped his forehead. “I goofed. How’s your mother?”

“She’s okay. She dropped me off.”

“Let’s see…Do you like popcorn or candy?”

The boy nodded, his eyes looking down.


The boy nodded again. Lou signaled the girl behind the concession stand. “Roxanne, put one of each from those bars in a bag and a large tub of popcorn with extra butter, for my pal here. Give him a large coke, too.”

“You’re such a kind person, Lou. Now, how’s he going to carry all that?” Roxanne laughed.

“I’ll help him.”

“Thank you,” the boy said hastily.

“Don’t thank me, thank your mother.” Lou grinned. “She introduced us, right?”

Lou waved off the ticket taker and led the boy into the hallway toward door number three. When he turned to look back to the foyer, he glimpsed the three policemen talking to Jules and smirked. He had nothing to worry. The policemen just did their jobs, took down notes, and never came out with the real culprits. Theexcitement was in not getting caught.

He led Denny inside the theater, to the middle of three empty seats. The boy held on to the popcorn as he sat. Lou leaned closer to him, placing the coke in the cup holder and hanging the candy bag from the arm of the seat.

“This seat next to you is mine,” he said. “If someone wants it, you tell them it is your father’s, okay?”

“My father’s dead.” The child’s voice wavered, hinting at a deep wound inside him.

Lou patted Denny’s arm. “Mine too,” he said. “Tell them the seat is your uncle’s. Uncle Lou's. I’ll be back to check on you and the movie. Believe it or not, I want to see it, too, even if I can see it in parts.”

The boy smiled at him as Lou exited the theater.

Lou walked unhurriedly toward Jules and the policemen. “What’s up, Jules?” Then he turned to one of the policemen. “How can we help you?”

“Another young man is missing, boy actually. Blond, about five-foot six, fourteen. Blue eyes. Black shirt and denims. Sneakers.”

‘This is just about anybody.” Lou frowned. “Is there anything more specific?”

“It’s been two weeks. He’s the son of the Whale Coast Mall’s owner.” One of the policemen held a photo of the teenager in front of him. “He told his parents he was going to the movies to meet up with someone.”

“He could have been here or not,” Lou said. “I just don’t recall. I don’t recall seeing him here, ever. You are welcome to ask our employees if you wish.”

“Kids! They say one thing; they do another.” Jules shook his head.

“Thank you, Gentlemen,” the policeman who had held the photo in front of Lou’s face said. “We’ll see what we can do. There’s been a string of kid killings lately, and we’re at a complete loss.”

“Let us know if we can help,” Lou said, as the policemen exited the brightly lit foyer.

“Why were they here again? Are we suspects or what?” Jules had a worried look on his face.

Lou shrugged. “Nah, they’re just doing a job. Surely, all kids will say they’ll go to the movies to split off to God knows where.”

He moved away from the foyer to theater number three where Denny, the boy who had become his protégée, was waiting for him. Denny deserved the best because he was like what Lou had been. Unlike those others with gruesome, money-oozing carcasses that could make anyone sick. Those carcasses whose killer would never be found.

Lou felt a surge of energy coming from the rejoicing that he knew how to clear evidence perfectly. Being good at something made him proud. With a renewed hunger at retribution, he scanned the inside of theater number three. No one was bothering Denny. Good.

If any of the spoiled rich dared to make kids like Denny feel less, they’d go with the others. Lou would make sure of that.

June 9, 2010 at 7:32pm
June 9, 2010 at 7:32pm
From: Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich

Write a scene of a story from a glimpse you have had of a group of people. Sketch the characters in their setting and let them interact. Write one full page.
Objective: To find out if you can make much out of little.


The woman who brought a note sent by another doctor glimpsed at the people in the waiting room of the urologist. She handed the note to the receptionist, smiled at Margie, raised her eyes to the flat TV high on the wall, then left the room.

As she exited, “So much energy in this century-old house,” the man on the screen announced. The program about ghost hunting had lured the seven pairs eyes in the room.

Ghosts! We’re all ghosts with blood oozing from every hole and crevice, while we’re here only for a short time, Margie thought as she suddenly felt self-conscious in her red golf shirt and white shorts. After the woman who brought the note, another youngish woman had entered the waiting room. She had on black flare pants and a finely tailored ecru shirt. Her beige shoes matching her Coach bag screamed of finesse and money.

Margie peeked at her own sneakers. She hadn’t even worn socks with them. What the heck, looking casual and sporty fit her. It suited her purse and her self image. But if so, why did she feel uncomfortable when a better-dressed woman showed up in the same place with her and probably for the same thing?

The others in the waiting room were men. After all, this was the urologist’s office, and at an advanced age, men had more trouble than women, where urologists were concerned. Margie looked at the gentle Latino, in his forties, with the short stature and rounded facial features who was filling out forms. What had brought him here?

The chic woman in black and beige walked up to the receptionist’s window and jotted down her name. Right then, receptionist’s glass window slid open.

“Senor Morales, sus tarjetas, por favor.”

The chic woman stepped aside, as the Latino arose from his seat up front. Holding the forms he hadn't finished filling yet under his arm, he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and handed his insurance cards to the receptionist

Margie turned her gaze to the two men sitting by the adjacent wall. Their interest ebbed away from the ghosts, they talked in a low voice about something, about a PSA test. Cancer? Poor guys, Margie thought. If her doctor hadn’t make her come here, if they hadn’t found the blood in her urine, Margie would never set her step in a urologist’s office. Not after she had lost her husband to prostate cancer.

A couple entered the room, the man much older than the woman, but it was the woman who checked in at the reception window.

“Why do we have to listen to this crap? I can’t believe they put that on TV,” the man with the metal-rimmed eyeglasses said.

“Better than nothing.” The old man who had just entered with the much younger wife scanned the room as he lowered himself down on a chair. “Quite a few waiting here.”

“Yeah, and they haven’t called anyone in, yet. At least since we’ve been here,” one of the men talking about the PSA test said.

“We should be the one sending him the bill,” Margie said under her breath, causing everyone to grin. Maybe she shouldn’t talk out loud and attract attention to herself.

She had been feeling the urgency to use the bathroom for a while now. No bathroom was available in the waiting room; she had to ask to use it and she was embarrassed to do so with all those men here. Plus, she was sure she’d be asked for a urine sample, if and when they called her inside.

She started tapping her foot to divert her own attention. Lucky, she had the sneakers on and they didn’t make any noise.

Just then, the door to the examination area opened and the nurse, looking at the file in her hand, announced Margie’s name.

Margie arose straightening her shorts. She froze abruptly. The backside of her shorts were soaking wet.
July 23, 2008 at 5:11pm
July 23, 2008 at 5:11pm
Whatever it is you need to write for your trade or business, it deserves your complete attention for your business to prosper. Anyone who can hold a pen or can sit in front of a computer can write something to make his intentions known, but for the writing to take effect immediately and forcefully, a writer needs to take into account a few essential points.

Before you start to write, arranging your thoughts is an absolute necessity. You might like to take notes while you think. During this process, you will need to:

* Analyze your readers by thinking about these questions: What age group is the audience and what are their needs in relation to your business? Then, evaluate the readers' viewpoints. What do they want to know? What do they need to know? Also imagine what details, if any, need to be included
* Analyze your own credibility. Are you being ethical? Are you hurting your company by writing to others private information or technical knowledge that is not copyrighted yet? Are you hurting someone or some group by holding back information? Are you trying to exaggerate a point unnecessarily or omit some crucial data? Can you increase your credibility by providing proof that supports your proposal or the point you want to make.
* Even if you put forward a perfect proposal or a perfect report, what type of questions can you anticipate afterwards?

Then, make a list of the things you are going to write, and organize them in groups of similar ideas. This will be, roughly, the body of your text.

Before you start writing the initial draft, make sure you understand these basics:

* Decide what the main idea is and put that down first. Make sure your purpose in writing this proposal, ad, text, etc. is immediately clear to the readers.
* Readers remember the first sentences best and the ideas introduced the earliest. In other words, first come first served. Put the least important ideas at the end of the text.
* Start each paragraph with a strong sentence that introduces or summarizes what the paragraph will contain. Then, you can reinforce it with supporting sentences. One idea per paragraph is the way to go. Do not flood a paragraph with different ideas.
* Short sentences and short paragraphs make the text easier to read. A short sentence is twenty words or less. The shorter the sentence, the greater the comprehension; therefore, it helps to keep the introductory sentence of each paragraph short. Then, vary your sentence lengths to make the text interesting.
* The tone of the text is also important. Always be aware of the tone you are using, because tone shows your attitude. Stay away from negative tones like condescending, accusing, angry, etc.
* Use active voice. Active voice talks to the reader directly, and it makes the writing sound more sincere and less boring.
* Use transitional words like, moreover, consequently, in addition, etc., to link ideas together.
* Use headings and subheadings so the reader can find the content more easily.
* If what you are writing is a business letter or you are addressing a specific person but you are not sure of the title ( Mr. Dr. Mrs. or Ms. ), leave out the title and use the person's first and last name; e. g., Dear John Doe.
* If you are using a template, do not use the words or phrases of the sample. You need to be original to make your point.

Things to avoid, because they will either be boring or they will be misunderstood:
* Jargon and curse words
* Words with double meanings
* Clichés

When the situation allows, write in a friendly, conversational style. Write as if you are speaking to a specific person. Business writing does not need to be formal all the time.

Then, your method of writing should not be hasty. Write the first draft without correcting, so you do not lose any fresh ideas. Afterwards, go back and revise your text. When you revise, read what you have written aloud, and listen to find out if the writing flows well, or you may use a tape recorder and listen back.

The visual design of the text is important, too. The text should be centered on the page and each page should look balanced.

Effective writing is not only important for facilitating your business, but also, it shows the image of your company and the kind of person you are; therefore, it is necessary you take every caution with it.
April 18, 2008 at 3:29pm
April 18, 2008 at 3:29pm

In jest, belief, or wishful thinking, we all call on our muses. While each of us may imagine his or her own muse, the real muses existed once upon a time, at least in the minds of the believers in Zeus.

According to ancient Greeks, nine demi-goddesses called muses were there to inspire intellectual work and creativity. Muses were inferior than the gods and goddesses, but they were important in their own right, having descended from Zeus. Zeus stayed with Mnemosyne for nine nights, and from that union, the nine muses were born.

Mnemosyne was the daughter of the titans Gaia and Uranus, and she became the minor oracular goddess of memory and remembrance, as well as the preserver of stories of history and sagas of myth. Mnemosyne also invented language and words.

The nine muses were:
Calliope - muse of epic poetry and eloquence.
Euterpe - muse of lyric poetry and rapturous music.
Erato - muse of erotic poetry.
Clio - muse of history and epic poetry.
Melpomene - muse of tragedy.
Polyhymnia - muse of religious poetry and harmonious song.
Terpsichore - muse of dancing and choral song.
Thalia - muse of comedy and idyllic poetry.
Urania - muse of astronomy.

The nine muses were taught by Apollo and later became his eternal companions.

Aside from the original muses, our personal muses may exist also, even if they dwell only inside our minds. To get our creative process moving, we may call on them; however, I suspect our muses are lazier than us. They like to stretch down and take a nap as often as they can, and they order us to read, to write from prompts, and do all the dirty work ourselves. Once in a blue moon, they'll jump out of their naps and plant an idea in our heads, an idea that seems to occur out of nowhere, and then, they'll go back to sleep and leave us to struggle with that supposedly brilliant idea.

The faulty work ethics of our personal muses leaves me to question if we'd be better of without them.Yet, I am not a big risk taker, so I let my muse slumber as I try to do the work myself. After all, I believe, falsely or not, I am a better worker than that sloth.
April 15, 2008 at 12:16pm
April 15, 2008 at 12:16pm
Self Doubt

If any writer insists he always feels up to the task before him, he may not be a true writer. Most writers and even the most experienced ones fear the blank page or screen and the task before them, most of the time.

For one thing, a good writer has his own internal measure of what is good or mediocre. A good writer looks for new ideas, originality in expression and style, and the flair to hold his reader's interest to the end of his manuscript. Second, writing life is full of rejection slips, acerbic criticism, and failed or half-finished work waiting in the drawer or inside the computer. Third, most writers are pessimistic about their work. When someone praises the writing, they tend to think either the reader is not knowledgeable or careful enough or his praises are the results of his trying to be nice.

Then, an average writer, every so often, wonders why he is wasting time writing instead of going out there to live his life and make better money in the process. Self-doubt, therefore, is the outcome of the writing process.

As a writer, the way you may outdo this negativity--sometimes called the internal critic--is to recognize it and work with it, especially when it hinders your production or bothers you to the point of misery. An exercise you can do is to write a page or two from the voice of negativity and get it out of his system. The other way to do this exercise is to make a list of your mistakes, limitations, and the internal and external obstacles to your writing.

In the second and more important part of this exercise, you can write another page or two answering the internal critic or to the items on the list one by one. Then top it off with another page or two from your positive side, how eager you are to write, how creative you can be, how, where, and when you will write and will make the time to write.

Do this exercise as treatment to rehabilitate your internal critic until it learns to shut up and leave you in peace with your writing. Who you are and how you feel give the voice to your writing, since your writing needs to reflect a self-assured poise to be effective.
April 15, 2008 at 10:58am
April 15, 2008 at 10:58am
Everyone acts interested in a writer’s work. “What are you working on nowadays?” is the question writers often get from lay people. Just start telling them what your plans are and see or sense the yawn in the other party. Their faces suddenly grow long, their brows crinkle, and their eyes start searching around the room as if hoping for someone else throw them a lifesaver to keep them from drowning.

Over the years, I have concluded that this curiosity is not genuine and people resort to such a question when they run out of things to say, aside from the fact that they are seen while talking to a writer could brand them as highbrows. In addition to the fear of boring the others, this maybe one of the reasons we may find it very difficult to discuss our work-in-progress.

If we say we have nothing on the table, we may be in a limbo and it could be the truth, or we may be considering something or other we are not sure of yet. Since telling about an iffy thing would be committing ourselves to it, we might take the escape route any way we can. Some of may even feel jinxed by talking about our projects and may drop what we are writing. Then, there are times when we have no immediate projects, but the muse may show up, and we may start planning something during the next five minutes after we have announced we have nothing dripping down from our pens. What is more, some people may try to kindle our imaginations with their own life story.

Because of these and possibly a few more reasons, some of us with other day jobs may conceal from people that we are writers, or we become hermits; however, this is a negative stance. If we evade people, how are we going to write about them? In addition, opportunities may show up through acquaintances, opportunities we do not want to miss, when as writers, we should be able to speak up for ourselves.

What to do, then, when someone asks us what we are working on? One thing we can do is to prepare ourselves ahead of time. A short explanation, something in a sentence, something that wouldn’t take more than a minute or two to people who seem interested should be enough. Afterwards, changing the conversation tactfully may be wise. Something like: “I’m writing a World War II story. Talking about that war, do you remember Casablanca? Too bad they are not making movies like that anymore.”

For most of us, just telling what we are doing without going into too much detail should be enough, or if we feel we do not want to talk about it, we can have a clever answer ready. Whatever we say keeping it short and to the point should do the trick.

December 6, 2007 at 8:58am
December 6, 2007 at 8:58am
In the planning stage of a story, most writers do not include the same character and even the same type of a character, even though creating a good quirky character is a job and an already created one can be unproblematic. This is because writers write for the challenge of creating original work, and if they cannot face that challenge properly, their writing does not make sense to them.

If so, why do we find the same character in several books or in series of books in the writings of the most noted authors, then?

This is because the practice of using the same protagonist, antagonist, or even a secondary character can be very successful with character driven stories. The author, after creating the character, lives with him for a long time, and that character becomes somewhat of a friend who haunts the author, telling him he has so much more to say. In addition, the author may want to show the change in a special character over a longer period of time than one or two stories can allow.

Let us take as an example a twenty-first century character, Odd Thomas, who has appeared in successive books of the very popular novelist, Dean Koontz. When the reader is first introduced to him, Odd Thomas is a twenty-one year old short-order cook. What is odd about Odd Thomas is that, being psychic, he sees ghosts. Driven by his sixth sense and disturbed by the atrocity of events, Odd Thomas brings the murders and the mysteries to light and seeks peace at the end of each novel. Because Odd Thomas is a good but quirky person and has something otherworldly about him, he entertains the reader and possibly the writer as well. What's more, since the other characters in Dean Koontz’s books are so perfectly drawn, this one familiar character does not bore the reader.

Another reason to use the same character in successive stories has to do with the reader’s feelings. Especially in mystery stories, when the readers are fond of a detective, they see that detective not only as the solver of the mystery, but also as the witness to their reading and the friend with whom they have shared other exciting mysteries. A few examples for this type of detectives are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, Tim Dorsey’s Detective Mahoney, and Leslie Charteris’s Simon Templar, better known as The Saint.

On the negative side, sometimes, the writer finds out that the character he so lovingly created cannot go through major changes after a few stories in a row. Although the character may still show some deep-seated problems, he has everything worked out in the earlier stories already. Therefore, the writer downgrades the character to a steadfast one who needs other troublemaker characters to pep up the story at hand. If the other characters cannot do the job, then the writer and his stories are in trouble.

A writer must never forget that the reader’s attention is the most important thing to capture and keep. Sometimes, out of sloth or greed, the writer uses the same character with the same psychological traits but with different physical ones. Although the writer may give the character a different name and change a few things about him, the character and the stories can lose their readers easily, since readers are quick to catch on to the writers’ shortcomings especially when the writers are not being true to their craft.

To avoid the downfall from such a practice, a writer needs to perfect his character drawing skills. Then, even if he decides to keep his favorite character inside several stories in a row, he can surround him with other remarkable characters that can spice up and carry his stories.

December 5, 2007 at 4:41pm
December 5, 2007 at 4:41pm
Editing is best done by the writer himself. A writer who does not read what he has written should not consider himself a writer. A writer has to read his work as soon as he puts the last period on his manuscript to make changes so the meaning comes across more effectively.

Then he has to read it again for copy editing purposes. Copy-editing is checking the grammar, spelling and punctuation in the text so the text is in its best presentable condition.

Revising one’s work requires objectivity and heartlessness. Most writers are emotionally attached to their work and they may consider them as their children; however, one needs to discipline his children for their own welfare. This is the same with the written work. The written work also deserves to be disciplined so it makes the best impression that it can make on its readers.

In revision, a thorough reading first while editing out excess words, phrases, paragraphs, sections or chapters is the first step. The question to ask here is: Is the message of the piece clearly presented and do the paragraphs and chapters flow smoothly?

Once the structure is intact, another thorough reading to spot grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Then, most of the time, reading the text aloud also helps to pinpoint anything that may have escaped the attention.

In addition, taking a day off and looking at the material the next day or a few days later may also give positive results. Getting someone else with a keen eye and understanding of the subject to read the text is the next thing to do. Another person may be better able to comment on the clarity of the message or the expression.

With a careful editing, the text will probably go through several revisions before it will be good enough to submit it to an agent or a publisher.

Another step could be to pay a professional writer or editor who is familiar with the genre or the subject to look through and review the text.

Proofreading and copy editing are not the same things, even if they may be considered to be same by some people. Editing by the writer of the text is the first thing to do. Copy editing is next, which can be done by someone else, but not necessarily so, and proofreading means checking the proofs (printed pages) against the edited manuscript to make sure that the printer did not make new mistakes during typesetting.

December 5, 2007 at 4:25pm
December 5, 2007 at 4:25pm
Grandeur and illusion go hand in hand. When Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “The glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome,” he was not exaggerating. If grandeur is the quality or state of being impressive or awesome, in western civilization, Greeks and Romans own that crown, for they created great literature from the illusions of mythology.

“If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: "Thou shalt not ration justice." Sophocles
How humble Sophocles was, but how majestic is his work!

Accordingly, the Romans who followed on the footsteps of the Greeks also feared them. Virgil said:
I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.

Still, at the east side of the world, alongside the Greeks and the Romans, the culture of China, India and the entire orient should not be cast aside. They, too, possessed grandeur and illusions.

After China entered the world history around eighteenth century B.C. and the Shang dynasty held power over he lesser tribes, the Chinese civilization gained a regal importance. With the advent of a unique writing system of 5000 characters, the literature of China was born on 'oracle bones'.

Oracle bones were fragments of animal bones and tortoise shells on which questions to gods were inscribed. To this day, I-Ching, or "The Book of the Change" has been the oracular tool for the people of China. A quote from the I-Ching asserts:
He who possesses the source of enthusiasm will achieve great things. Doubt not. You will gather friends around you as a hair clasp gathers the hair.

In India, too, the oldest known language Sanskrit produced majestic works such as Veda and the Upanishads, the Mahabharata , the Ramayana, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, and Jayadeva. A quote from the Bhagavad-Gita attests to the majesty of Indian stories, of kings and their sons fathered by the gods:
If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty one ...
I am become Death,
The shatterer of Worlds.

Closer to the West, Egyptian writing and literature flourished dating back to 3000 B.C., but the West only found out about it when the hierglyphs were decoded in 1812. Among the sun-kings of early Egypt, Akhnaton was the only monotheist. Some historians claim Akhnaton to be the same person as Moses and Oedipus, because of the coincidence of the time-frame inside which all three existed.

Yet, the grandeur did not stop with the Orientals or with works of the Greeks and Romans. It seeped through the centuries to reach the pens of the writers of the Renaissance, and it found fresh voices to sing through, like that of Cervantes who gave new life to chivalry in Don Quixote.

The Russian screenwriter and composer Samuel Hoffenstein said: Our grandeur lies in our illusions. As mad as Don Quixote might seem, he fought for his illusions. Without them, he would not have existed.

Thus, the majestic human drama was handed down over the centuries, from Aeschylus to Shakespeare, and the foreboding for the man's fate was sealed in grandeur.
Macbeth: Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

As Dante penned it down, the grandeur in literature is inseparable from the illusions and achievements of man, even though the man's fall is sometimes inevitable.
"Oh human race, born to fly upward,
wherefore at but a little wind
does thou so easily fall?"
December 5, 2007 at 4:14pm
December 5, 2007 at 4:14pm
At one time or another, each poet is impressed by a place. Places encourage poetic sensibilities and leave their mark on the poet’s work. Those places are sometimes real, sometimes imagined, but they usually serve as metaphors for concepts and feelings more powerful than any certain place.

In Carl Sandburg’s Chicago, the reality of the city is vivid, dominant, and action-filled.
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

When he talks of his imagined garden of love, William Blake says: <br>
“I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;

Blake, with idealistic verve, also tries to unite the spirit of two real places in <i>Jerusalem</i> when he says:
“I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.”

Then, Emily Dickinson brings together the spirit of the place and her imagination in: By the Sea:
“I started early, took my dog,
And visited the sea;
The mermaids in the basement
Came out to look at me.”

Rudyard Kipling takes the wider, epic view.
“Cities and Thrones and Powers,
Stand in Time's eye,”

Sometimes, a poet internalizes the place he lives in and etches its landscape on the pattern of his life. Robert Frost spent the later years of his life in New England, and his most noted poems allude to that area.
“The firm house lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear A number in.
But what about the brook That held the house as in an
From A Brook in the City

Walt Whitman was born and grew up around Huntington, Long Island, New York, and without doubt, the place and its surroundings left an impression on his poetry.
“Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west,
and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;”

From Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Sometimes a place is not a town, a country, or a region with a name, but still a place where a poet has warmed up to and made his own, as John Howard Payne has said:
“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;”

Donald Justice, too, took a liking to a bus stop.
“Stand in the rain
So quietly
When we are gone,
So quietly . . .
And the last bus
Comes letting dark
Umbrellas out—
Black flowers, black flowers.”

Some poets use a place starting with its cinematic overview or describe it inside their poem; others do not mention a place name or attempt a description, but judging from the poet’s background, the readers know that a certain place has inspired the poet’s work.

To sum it up, places influence poets, and poets have their own hiding places, because they are childlike. As Alberto Rios says,
“We live in secret cities
And we travel unmapped roads.”

August 27, 2003 at 4:36pm
August 27, 2003 at 4:36pm
         I put a number on this entry, because being a word person, I’m sure another entry will come up on this subject.

         Not a day passes by that I don’t look up a word, not only those words I don’t know but also those I do know. Often, I find more meanings to a word than I know from before. This is because English is such a rich language. Chances are, any nation or culture we can think of has given words to it.

         It is one thing to know the meanings of words and another to use them. Learning as many words as we can does help our writing since we mostly think through words, and the bigger our vocabulary, the faster ideas come to us. Also, we can convey the nuances in meaning in more expressive terms.

         For our meaning to be successfully understood by readers, our words have to build mental pictures, even when we talk about abstract things, and those pictures are best built with the simplest words and the shortest way to say things. Now, isn’t this a paradox when I said to learn as many words as possible and then I turned around and said to choose the simplest ones and the shortest ways? It may seem so, but all these things are valuable because, as far as diction goes, we sometimes need to choose a longer word of Latin origin to carry the meaning exactly.

         “He is prejudiced,” is shorter and more to the point than saying, “He takes sides where race, religion, and class are concerned and acts upon it.”

         On the other hand, should we flaunt our knowledge? Definitely not. There is no need to say: “Administer this dosage of two tablets once a day,” when “Give two pills a day” will do, or there’s no need to muddle the meaning with, “I departed to go shopping in Walmart,” when “I left to go shopping in Walmart” is better understood.

         Good writing deserves rhythm, variety, and surprise, and we can achieve this with a large vocabulary if we learn to use the exact words in their proper places.

Today’s tip:
credulity: being too trusting, being gullible
credibility: being believable, dependability, trustworthiness

Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense. --Mark Twain
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. --Jack London

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March 28, 2003 at 4:48pm
March 28, 2003 at 4:48pm
         Writing numbers can be a problem. At times, numbers that can be indicated by one or two taps on the keyboard are spelled out; at times, figures are used instead. So confusing, isn’t it?

         The rule of the thumb is clarity. As a result of my antiquated learning (I was told to spell it out when in doubt), I use mostly letters to write numbers but this is not etched in stone. At least not anymore. Now numerals (number figures) are accepted if they can keep the writing clear. Even so, there are rules to observe.

         For the sake of precision, let’s look at the expression of numbers whether they are in letters or numerals.

         Writing Date and time:
         All the examples below are correct.

         They stopped by at 10:00 A.M.
         They stopped by at 10:00 a.m.
         They stopped by at eight o’clock in the morning.
         Today’s date is March 28, 2003.
         Today is 28 March, 2003.
         We are in A.D. 2003.
         We are in March, 2003.
         We are in 2003.
         We are in the twenty-first century.
         World War II took place during the forties.
         World War II took place during the 1940’s.
         World War II took place during the 1940s.

         If a sentence begins with a number, write it in letters.
         Ninety percent of the class failed.
         Only 15% of the merchandise was sold.

         When writing in letters, hyphenate numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine.
         Do not hyphenate when writing hundreds.

         On Wednesday, two hundred fifty-two students were absent.

         Write these always in numerals:
         Addresses 1841 Orchard Lane,
         Numbers that identify Suite 101,
         Decimals and percentages 3.8 grade average, 25 1/3 percent, .09 milimeters,
         Page and division of magazines, books and plays page 341, Act III, Scene 2, chapter 12

         Numbers one through ten should be written in letters; we may use numerals for numbers greater than ten. If there are several numbers in a sentence with some of them over ten, write them all in letters.
         The Johnsons had five children.
         The zoo hosted 250 different animals.
         June has seven dolls and two hundred fifty pieces of lego blocks.

         Never mix numerals and letters when using several numbers in a sentence, if the numbers are related.
         The man gave me three glasses, 9 spoons, five plates.
         The man gave me three glasses, nine spoons, five plates.
         Only when the numbers are unrelated, both numerals and letters can be used.
         Immediately after the chairman’s announcement, eight people rushed to get their $100 Christmas bonus.

          Large numbers are written the simplest way possible.
         There were 15 million workers earning anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000.
         They demanded 4 billion dollars.

         When writing large numbers of five or more digits plus a decimal, use a comma to separate each three sets of numerals and then use the decimal point. Do not use the word ‘and’ instead of the decimal point, if you are using numerals. Both examples below are correct, but the first example is preferable for its simplicity.
         We bought our house for $227,098.58.
We bought our house for two hundred twenty-seven thousand, ninety-eight dollars and fifty-eight cents.

         Write simple fractions in letters, using hyphens, but a mixed fraction can be written in figures.
          In summer, one-third of the house was burned down.
         I saw that one-half of the Black Forest cake was missing.
         The unemployment rate rose to 6 ½ percent.

          Write decimals in figures, putting a zero in front of the decimal point, unless when the decimal itself starts with a zero.
         Bluegrass will cover 0.85 of an acre.
The low bushes on the right side will take .09 of the garden.

Today’s tip:
Beside means ‘by the side of’.
Besides means ‘moreover’, ‘in addition’, or ‘plus’.

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November 8, 2002 at 1:33pm
November 8, 2002 at 1:33pm
         Writing is never effortless. Everyone can sit down and free-flow without lifting the pen from the paper. Yet, a writer’s craft asks for more than haphazardly jotted down words that show him wearing his heart on his sleeve. Without paying attention to style, technique, or revision, an unattended work is at best an entry to a diary. In order to deserve to be called a writer, it is essential to understand and accept the enormous amount of work lying ahead of us. This is where practice comes in; although, practice alone is not enough.

         They say practice makes perfect and practice is important where technique is concerned. At least with practice, our mistakes with syntax, grammar, spelling and usage may get toned down and become less obvious. Also practice improves the writer’s enthusiasm and willingness to try for more.

         If we are writing for ourselves, lack of practice may not be much of a problem. We can write what we like, hide it inside a notebook or a desktop folder, and we are done. If we are writing for readers other than ourselves and try to say something unique and worthwhile with each piece, the act of writing changes its aura.

         Each piece of writing makes a beginner out of even the most seasoned writers. As our work increases in quantity, it may become more and more difficult to write. Now we have to be alert not to repeat ourselves, not only with words and phrases but also with our plots, descriptions, and our approach to the task at hand.

         Each piece of writing has its own demands. Each genre asks for a different approach. Each type of poetry requires a different stance in method and style. Each form of prose needs its own construction. Even between long and short fiction there are enormous differences in pacing, character development, structure, and overall effect. A type of work may require details in ordinary things whereas another type may be overburdened with those same details. That is why we have to look at our work over and over again and if need be, rewrite sections, re-form characters, re-word descriptions, and even re-think thematic approaches.

         When we can effectively decide to abandon or resuscitate an item of our writing, we have succeeded, for we have learned to judge our craft. In the long run, to be able to trust our work or to be able to recognize its fallibilities is the first sign of becoming a writer. And then, after all this toil and trouble, if we still keep at it, it means we’ve made it. :)

Today’s tip:
Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation.
-“You told me, ‘Don’t sell your GE stocks,’ and I didn’t,” she said.-

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Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy
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November 4, 2002 at 2:26pm
November 4, 2002 at 2:26pm
         In the active voice, the subject performs the action. “John kicked the ball.” In the passive voice the subject receives the action “The ball was kicked by John.” or the subject remains unknown. “The ball was kicked.”

         Human mind is geared to grasp active voice more readily. That is why using active voice adds to the clarity of our writing.

         When people try to blur the issues or they don’t want to name the subject of the action, they use passive voice. Politicians and some people in the academia are famous for using passive voice. A good writer, however, opts for clarity and uses the active voice whenever he can. Yet, there are instances when passive voice can be used effectively.

         Sometimes passive voice is a good choice, especially when a mystery writer doesn’t want the reader to know who did the action, as least not in the beginning of his story.
         “There was blood all over the embankment. It was obvious the body was thrown into the ditch by force.”

         Sometimes, putting the doer of the action at the end of a sentence or paragraph bridges that section to the next.
          The Red Pony was written by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was a novelist, famous for his strikingly beautiful descriptions.

         Sometimes, who did the certain action is not important to the plot and it pulls the attention to another direction.
“When the ratio of side effects of these two drugs were taken, the difference was insignificant.”

The bottom line is, if we reduce our usage of passive voice only to those instances where its use is inevitable, our writing will become clearer and more professional. So let’s write with an eye on how we use the passive voice.

Today’s tip:
“When we use a short quotation to fortify an argument, putting the quotation in quotation marks is sufficient. Setting it in a separate paragraph could hinder the flow of our writing.”

My current ratings are given according to the SMS's guidelines.
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Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy
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November 3, 2002 at 9:57am
November 3, 2002 at 9:57am
         An almost fatal mistake occurs when the writer refuses to take himself out of his fiction, poem, or prose pieces. We are writers and what we write is more important than us. Unless we are writing into a journal, personal notebook or diary, or the POV (point of view) of our fiction piece is in first person, we have no business butting into the action.

          Some examples:


         - I settled on the sofa quietly and watched. To me it seemed as if John was trying to wriggle his way out of this deal. I saw him crack his knuckles and look away.-

         In this setup the author is in the room observing two people interact with the entire story being about these two people. We already know he is there watching the action with the POV (point of view) belonging to him. His story would come to life better if he didn’t cut into the lives of his characters.

         A better way would be:
         -I settled on the sofa quietly and watched. John was trying to wriggle his way out of this deal. He cracked his knuckles and looked away.-


         -I've been to see Dr. James Brueger in Anaheim. Then I met him again in Laguna Beach, and then at his Chicago office a couple of times. I heard about him from an acquaintance that he had remarried. Also my sister told me that Dr. Brueger had undergone a very positive change due to his new diet discovery.
         Dr. Bruegger’s new regimen consists of beef and green vegetables and no carbohydrates.

         This article was a scientific, expository piece about a diet doctor and his diet. As an opening, if the writer introduced himself in the beginning, it would be acceptable. Yet this writer kept getting in between his subject and his writing throughout his article.

         A better way would be:
         -I know Dr. James Brueger from Anaheim. Laguna Beach, and Chicago. Dr. Brueger’s life has undergone a very positive change after remarriage and his new diet discovery.
This new regimen consists of beef, green vegetables and no carbohydrates.


         -I reached to pick a flower,
         It seemed to me its thorn
         pricked in scorn;
         I think it was threatened by me
         since I believe he knew his life was short-

         A better way would be:

         -I reached to pick a flower,
         its thorn
         pricked me in scorn;
         threatened for
         its short life-

         So, let’s give our work breathing space and elbow room. We’ll be very happy with the result.

Today’s tip:
Do not mix “I think” with “I feel”.
to feel : to sense, to be emotionally affected by, or to have a broad conviction of something.
to think : to use reason or scrutinize with the intellect.

My current ratings are given according to the SMS's guidelines.
"The Writing-Practice Journal

Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy
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November 2, 2002 at 10:10am
November 2, 2002 at 10:10am
         Vain people that we are, as soon as we put the pen to the paper or type and click to see our mumbo jumbo of some sentiment on the screen, we think we’ve made it as poets. Sometimes it gets even worse. A person writes a ditty and calls it poetry.

          “My blue-eyed Jeanie
         Is sometimes a meanie”
is not poetry. Cute and lovable verse is not a poem. Neither is “Simple Simon met a pieman” or “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall”, just as street burlesque is not the same thing as Shakespeare’s comedy.

         Poetry is not an insignificant art one could exhibit at a roadside fair. Poetry is the finest art of words, eloquence, ideas, thoughts and feelings. Poetry, through its insightfulness, touches the internal workings of our experience that are impossible to put into words. Poetry, to me, is verse that I enjoy reading, that leaves me moved in some way, that may present me with a discovery or a re-discovery of something within me, that is surprising in every line, that is to the point, that has excellent word choices, that has music, that is capably and expertly written after some study and thought. Each poem needs to be unique and inimitable in order to be called a poem. If we think of anything that is cute, lovable, sweet, and expressing cheap emotion in verse form, as poetry, then we are mistaken.

         This piece is from Dylan Thomas’ poetry:

         . . In the sun born over and over,
         I ran my heedless ways
         My wishes raced through the house-high hay
         And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
         In his tuneful turning. . .

         Can this be poetry also?

“I ran after you in May
To roll in the yellow hay.”

         I say, “No way!” This is a ditty and a cheap one at that. And please forgive my rhyming tendencies.

         Poetry is an art form and should be studied as such. Being aware of formal and informal poetry forms drills our poetic prowess. Poets who succeed creating real poetry write and study for a lifetime and still feel they haven’t achieved enough to be called poets.

         Does this mean we should get discouraged and stop trying? NO. NO. NO. Writing bad poetry is better than writing no poetry. Believe me, I know. I write bad poetry all the time. Sometimes I get lucky and I even write good verse, I think. But then, maybe not even that. :)

         In case we don’t make it as poets, poetry still hones our skills as writers, clears our thinking and opens our minds to possibilities. A bad poem shouldn’t discourage us. They say every good poet has at least one bad poem. Also, through writing bad poetry we learn about good poetry. And then... Who knows? Maybe someday, we’ll get lucky. :)

Today’s tip:
Do not mix proof with evidence. Proof is the result of having enough evidence.

My current ratings are given according to the SMS's guidelines.
"The Writing-Practice Journal

Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy
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October 30, 2002 at 1:25pm
October 30, 2002 at 1:25pm
         Sometimes, I run across a quotation on writing that in a nutshell says what I have observed or learned.

         This is a short list of rules from
Politics and the English Language,by George Orwell, 1946

         (i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print
         (ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
         (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
         (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
         (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
         (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

         One may or may not like George Orwell’s writing, but what he says about writing is true. Yet, the most important rule of his rules is the last one. In short, he means to tell me to use COMMON SENSE!

Today’s tip:
Even a list could be made interesting if begun with the least important item and ended with the most important one.

My current ratings are given according to the SMS's guidelines.
"The Writing-Practice Journal

Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy
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October 29, 2002 at 11:19am
October 29, 2002 at 11:19am
         If you’re a researcher like me, probably you’ll feel bad when forced to cut down the major part of your research from your story for your story’s sake, especially if you spent an enormous amount of time on the research part of it. Readers enjoy being introduced to varied settings, cultures, and new knowledge; however, they don’t want textbooks in front of them. You and I have to understand that the story comes first. So we have to use our mental shears. If some certain knowledge is not relevant to the story, then the recipe is snip snip, so our storyline can stand out in its glory.

         The same is true for descriptions. I may have written the best description of my lifetime, the one Steinbeck would pat me on the back for if he were around to read it. Yet, if all those descriptive phrases did not progress my storyline, their function would be nothing more than Crazy Katharina’s gaudy jewelry.

         Sometimes a beginning writer gets so wrapped up in his descriptions that he forgets he has a story to tell. I have read work that was beautiful but went nowhere. In one of them, the writer became so winded that he wrapped up his story in one short paragraph after three very long paragraphs of describing the story’s setting.

         I can think of one other way, the way I am still guilty of, that gives the feeling of an unfinished story. It is getting stuck into an idea. At one time I wanted to write a tragic story against illicit drug use. Once the story completed my mission, I wrapped it up in a hurry. Please be aware that I said “my mission”. What about the story’s mission? Cliché though it may be, I remind myself, “the story’s the thing, the story’s the thing, the story’s thing” over and over. Yet to this day, I didn’t get around to fixing that one, but I will. “Who killed Johnny?” is still in my port staring back at me each time I open my fiction folder. Maybe I should design a separate folder and name it “Repair Garage”, but then that folder would get filled up with most of my work needing service. :)

Today’s tip:
“errare humanum est” : To err is human. from Latin Words and Phrases :)

My current ratings are given according to the SMS's guidelines

Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy

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"A witty saying proves nothing."

October 29, 2002 at 11:13am
October 29, 2002 at 11:13am
         Let’s suppose I’m creating a character for a story. I have followed a prescription for creating a character, and written down his outward characteristics, age, bio, looks, where he lives and works, even how he talks, his background, his private and public life, and his hobbies. Is this enough? Depending on what I am writing it may be or it may not be enough. If I’m writing an ad for a beauty product or someone’s curriculum vitae, it is enough. If I want to write fiction and try to make it worth the reader’s while, I better heed the inner workings more.

         Creating the personality of a character has to be the most important aspect of writing fiction. Personality traits attract readers much more than physical looks, background, education and mannerisms. In order to be able to tackle this job, I ask myself questions.

         How good a person is this character? Is he likable by others? Is he modest or outgoing and boisterous? Is he a joker? Does he have a sense of humor? Can he laugh at himself, at his friends, or his superiors? Does he have common sense? Is he considerate of others? Is he kind, generous, or miserly?

         How moral is this character? What is his definition of right and wrong specifically in regards to the conflict this story will present? Is he moral, legal, ethical in ordinary circumstances but can change when the going gets tough? If he does something a little off the mark, does he seek ways to make up for it? Does he ever feel regret?

         Is this character persistent or does he give up easily? Is this character a meek person with his courage concealed? Or is his courage the type that everyone was aware of before this conflict surfaced? How will he interact with the rest of the characters in the story? This one is an important question, because its answer sees the plot through.

         When the conflict is identified, how capable is my character to handle the conflict I throw at him? Does he buckle down and give up or stand up and fight? Will he be able to learn anything from handling this conflict? Will his personality and behavior change as the result of this conflict?

         Since I care for my characters, I try to give them a workable personality first. Then I go ahead and give them the looks, the quirks, the mannerisms, and a background. When I first registered at Stories.com and put in my first piece of fiction, two of my reviewers wrote almost the same thing. “Develop your characters more.” They made me think and I can’t thank them enough.

Today’s tip:
continual: frequently repeated
continuous: without interruption

My current ratings are given according to the SMS's guidelines

Para/Poem Challenge "Open"  (13+)
I've got the words, if you've got the time. Gimme your best Para/Poem.
#213819 by wordsy

** Image ID #467080 Unavailable ** ** Image ID #460955 Unavailable ** ** Image ID #513135 Unavailable ** ** Image ID #467084 Unavailable ** ** Image ID #434966 Unavailable ** ** Image ID #438606 Unavailable **

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"A witty saying proves nothing."

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