Tag: writers

Make Your Own Mark

Word Artistry

There are few things I love and admire more than words. Even used independently, a single word can evoke as much emotion and strength as when strung together into sentences: Surprise! Believe. Heartbroken. Bravo! Yes. No. Goodbye. There is power in words.

In the hands of a skilled writer, a carefully chosen sequence can paint a world as artfully as Monet, Gauguin, da Vinci, or Renoir. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the beauty of words when given cadence. Like Baryshnikov, Astaire, Kelly, Pavlova—words have a flair and a style unique to their artist. The right words never lie flat on a page; they dance!

One of my favorite “writer stories” comes from the deGroot play called PAPA. One evening, a group of betting friends challenged Hemingway with writing a short story in ten words or less. On a paper napkin, he wrote, “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” His powerful words—which in the true essence of a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end—won. Who can deny the beauty of a sentence, well written?

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean.

“The high grey-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world.” The Long Valley by John Steinbeck

“As Sonon strode through the evening forest, his black cape parted the sea of frigid air, leaving ice crystals swirling behind him.” People of the Black Sun by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

“On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky.” Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

“See, normal hearing aids usually have a part that wraps around the outer ear to hold the inner bud in place. But in my case, since I don’t have outer ears, they had to put the earbuds on this heavy-duty headband that was supposed to wrap around the back of my head.” Wonder by R.J. Palacio

“They found Seth Hubbard in the general area where he had promised to be, though not exactly in the condition expected. He was at the end of a rope, six feet off the ground and twisting slightly in the wind.” Sycamore Row by John Grisham

“Aiden Lynch slid down the steep creek bank, dirt crumbling beneath his bare feet and dust rising in a cloud behind him. He eyed the muddy trickle of water at the bottom and decided not to drink. Strange how a person could be so particular about drinking muddy water when he had come down to the creek to eat dirt, but nothing else made much sense in his life anymore, so why should that?” The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan

“As I stepped out of the cabin, whiteness blinded me.” Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.” The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Each passage paints a world vastly different than the others, doesn’t it? It’s in the beauty of their words that we see the life within their stories. Artistry comes in many forms, but words are what touch my soul. They are as vivid as paints on a palette, as fulfilling as drink and nourishment, and as entrancing as the beauty of dance.

Words define us, even when we’ve not spoken them.

Originally posted at Romance Ninjas

Less Words, More Meaning

It seems Twitter has taken the world by storm in the past two years, perhaps rocket-fueled by the unprecedented amount of presidential tweets. That’s not only good fodder for writers in general, but for comedians, lyricists, and dramatists. However, Twitter has a purpose for writers in many other ways, too. Have you ever participated in a Twitter Pitch? I have not, but I plan to engage in pitching very soon. Writing a twenty-five word pitch describing your 80,000-100,000 word novel is a lofty goal, so I’m taking an online class in hopes of learning how to succeed at it. Does that make me less of a writer? I’m not sure, but anything that teaches me how to write using less words with more meaning sounds good to me.

I can’t help but wonder  . . .  Are Twitter Pitches the new “slush pile” for publishers and agents? It’s an interesting concept. What are your thoughts?

Originally Posted at Romance Ninjas

Writers Are Weird

Let’s be honest—writers are weird. We’re just a bit strange. Odd, maybe, is a better word.

On any given day, most people will look at me and rightfully say, “Oh, she’s a fairly organized, rational, detailed, methodical-type person. Friendly and outgoing, too.” Yet when my writer’s brain takes over, which is not nearly often enough, I become a whole other person, even known for telling my neighbors, “Don’t bother coming to my door because there’s a really good chance I’m not going to answer.” And I mean it. I’m really not going to answer my door. Nor my phone. Not my emails either. Nope. Not until I’m done for the day, or week, anyway. That’s the only way a writer can get any writing done.

Writers who are parents with kids at home have a whole other set of troubles! Wow, bravo to all of you. I was one of you once, which is my excuse for not having a novel published until after I reached fifty years of age. Of course, there was no such thing as respectable self-publishing prior to me turning fifty, so it was the traditional route or not at all. It was not at all for me because, in my opinion, I still had a long way to go before I became a “good writer.” Now self-publishing is king and there’s no waiting line. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and Susie and Sally, can hop online and publish any drivel they want and they’ll sell at least a few copies before the reading public realizes they’re frauds. Which actually hurts the great self-published writers out there because the readers no longer trust our profession. But that’s another soapbox for another day.

Back to us being a weird bunch . . .  Other than schizophrenics, how many other people see and hear invisible folks and their stories? I often amuse myself when I am in the midst of writing a scene—one in which I know exactly where things are going—and a door opens and someone I never expected to see is standing before me. (Yes, I mean in my make-believe world.) I am always shocked! “Who are you?” I’ll ask, and suddenly the events change and I get a story I never predicted. It’s miraculous really.

Real writers are never alone. We have our own tribes, especially since the advent of the Internet, so even though we may be hundreds of miles apart, we support each other, we understand, and we care. And when the Internet is down, well, we can always turn to our make-believe people.

Originally posted at Romance Ninjas