Symbols & Context

literature analysis, novel writing This little 35-page compilation of past posts was created for two reasons. The first is because new writers often  don’t know how easy it is to include thematic, foreshadowing, contextual, plot, and character clues beyond the superficial or obvious. This is a bit of a how-to guide.

The second is because I wanted my students to have easy access to all the information imparted during ( too many ) lectures when we  learn how to analyze texts.

Download and use the PDF to:

  • understand literature
  •  add depth and complexity to your novel
  • Or, if you’re a hater of literature, to mock the art of explicate de texte studied by literature majors everywhere.

Literary Symbols & ContextCLICK BELOW FOR PDF

Little Book of Symbols & Context

 

 

 

15 Princess Bride Quotes That Explain A Writer’s Life

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 4.13.49 PMFrom first draft to multiple revisions to query to submission the writer’s life is difficult ( and that’s putting it mildly ) and filled with angst. But we writers LOVE to write so we endure. And that’s why it’s necessary to have an Arsenal of Funny at your disposal. Infusing a bit of humor into the day just may save our souls…or at least give us the gumption to fight the good novel fight another day!

Mix ‘n match these 15 classic lines from Princess Bride when you need a dose of  writing perspective.

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9 Greek Sayings For The Writer

Greek sayings for writersA trip to Greece had me pondering many things: my writing career, future plots, the sagacity of the ancient Greeks, and the hour of my next delicious cappuccino freddo. Of course, I also contemplated quitting my job and traveling the world—until I remembered I have a mortgage and 2 children in college. *Sigh* Traveling to an ancient civilization has a way of making one think profound thoughts—or maybe that’s the ouzo talking.

In an effort to extend my Greek experience, I’ve found 9 Greek quotes that apply to writers. Oh, and you get pictures too!

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Writing Persona

What's your writing personaWe’re all familiar with zodiac and Meyers-Briggs personality types, but do you know your literary persona? You know, that’s the one that emerges when you’re in author mode. In the spirit of novelicious good fun, which fab female fits your writing persona?

 

Mary Poppins: You’re a cheery but no nonsense sort with a whole bunch of tricks up your sleeve and a with a song in your heart. Although you believe in the power of magic, you know a strong work ethic will help see you through the chores of daily writing housekeeping concerns like editing and maintaining your blog. Practical and positive, you have friends from every strata of society. “A spoonful of honey makes the medicine go down” is your preferred method for dealing with tasks you don’t like much.

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Eyes Open, Fingers Crossed Part 2

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PART ONE discusses the first half of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers and how it applies to writers More than just passion, hark work, and talent is needed to be successful. Other factors are involved. Part Two looks at the 2nd half of his book.

To really succeed at writing you need more than just passion, talent, and hard work. Other factors come into play, some absolutely positively out of your control. And some that are.

 Harlan, Kentucky: Gladwell tells the reader where and why a feuding mentality comes from ( think sheep herding, grazing boundaries, blood feuds, the Hatfield and McCoys ) . How is can this possibly be applicable to writing? Do you come from a culture or family who feuds? Or where retaliation and ‘talking smack’ and ‘pay back’ is a family favorite pastime? Does this attitude leak on to your social media? Too many folks are too quick to lash out on social media, too prone to retaliatory attacks ( remember the debacle with the author who responded to a mean reviewer?) Each nasty comment erodes your platform. Agents and editors often google you to see how you project yourself. A mean spiteful,

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Eyes Open & Fingers Crossed

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 10.56.17 AMMy students and I are discussing Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers in class. Well, as you know, teachers can’t just read the book they must find ways to teach its lessons, drive home its themes, and apply it to their students’ lives. In this case, understanding all the complex components that shape and determine success. And naturally, as a writer I can’t help but apply these same concepts to the writing process.

To really succeed at writing you need more than just passion, talent, and hard work. Other factors come into play, some absolutely positively out of your control.

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Some Things Never Change

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 5.40.08 AMTook a trip down Memory Lane today. While cleaning up the website I stopped to read my very first post from four years ago.  It made me smile because I still feel the exact same way about writing.

A lot has changed since then. I self -pubbed two urban fantasy novels, wrote the third in the series ( it’s sitting on my desktop), wrote 3 historical fiction, attended 5 conferences, made writer, reviewer, and blogger friends, and landed an agent. ( Waiting for that big break.)

My first post is uncategorized, really short, and without tags—newbie style, but the same joy, zest, and love for writing hasn’t diminished. Not one bit. And you can’t buy that kind of feeling.

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Weird Words for Writing Problems

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 3.33.49 PMWords you never heard to explain your writing problems.

Warning: Nerd alert ahead!!!

Writing is easy, except when it’s not. Writer’s block is just the tip of the iceberg. Below are 16 other problems writers struggle with. So in case you weren’t already feeling unappreciated or overlooked enough here’s a few more reasons to amp up your angst.

Is your vocabulary and syntax too literary? Maybe your style is suffering from adoxography: Fine writing on a trivial or base subject.

Perhaps your vocabulary isn’t up to par or you enjoy confounding readers with ancient words. If so, you might have issues with  acryology: incorrectly used or obsolete diction.

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To The Writers, Too Much Waste of Time

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 5.26.37 PMIt was one of those weeks when I read lots of status updates and tweets about writers napping, Netflix binging, and being sent to Facebook jail

Maybe all these updates get me testy because I don’t have the luxury of napping-Netflixing-FaceBooking.  ( Although my students would like it. ) Maybe it’s because I struggle to squeeze out every drop of writing time I can into my too-much-to-do day. Maybe it’s because I’m jealous. Or maybe it’s because even it I could nap ( on a weekend ) my characters and plot are shouting at me.

Writing time is valuable and precious. Don’t squander it. You don’t know what trouble and difficulties tomorrow will bring that keep you from writing.

So with apologies to poet Robert Herrick, here’s my advice to writers.

To the Writers, Too Much Waste of Time

Gather ye stories while ye may

Writing Time is fleeting

And the plot ideas that smile today

Tomorrow you’ll be deleting.

The glorious Dream of Publishing your book,

The harder it’s a-getting

The sooner you revise that first draft gobbledygook

The closer an agent’s accepting.

That time to write which is the best,

When ideas and passion are hot:

But doubt, delay, or too much stress

Time succeeds to rot.

Then be not coy, but write your novel,

And while ye type, be smitten

For if wasting hours on a social media debacle

Your novel will be forever unwritten.

 

Related links: Readin’ & Writin‘; Rock Your Writing

Zen and The Art of Manuscript Maintenance

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 5.49.44 PMWriting is more than just sitting down at the keyboard and typing. Writing is diving into the depths of your soul and embracing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Writing means peeling the onion layers of beliefs and emotions to expose its raw core—and then conveying those sentiments in a way that will evoke a reader’s emotions.

The act of writing requires emotional energy, which is easily depleted. As any new ager or old ager will testify, aligning one’s energies or chakras are important for physical and mental health.

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Purrrfect Writing Tips

Purrrfect Writing TipsWriters are quite cat-like. We can be stealthy, live far more than 9 lives thanks to our characters, pounce on delicious plots, cough up balls of plot flaws, and hiss at those critiquing our writing.

In an effort not to be catty, this kitty is offering some tips for all the other writing cats currently scratching their claws on the writing post. Continue reading

13 Tips for the Writing Newbie

13 Tips for the Newbie WriterI began writing my first novel 5 years ago. Boy, was I naive! Yet, looking back, those 5 years feel like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. Because I taught literary analysis and have a B.A. in Literature ( la-de-da ) I though I was ahead of the novel game, but all I had were book smarts not the experience with applying those authorial techniques.

Here’s the TOP 13 things I learned about writing during that time.

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Don’t Fear the Critiquer

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 6.23.26 PMDespite what you may think, the folks critiquing your manuscript are not the sickle-wielding grim reaper come to bury your manuscript, although for the uninitiated it can be Hell.

I paid—yes, paid—for critiques from industry professionals at writers conferences and also paid a professional writer for a manuscript critique/editorial report. Those critiques were worth every penny…er…dollar. Of course, there are lots of writers groups willing to do it for free. Just make sure those critiquing have cred, and by that I mean they have had a traditionally published novel or are in the industry ( agent, editor ). Suzy Sunshine’s gushing over your manuscript won’t be helpful in the long run.

Critiques, especially for the novice, are invaluable! However, you have to put on your big boy pants and be willing to take advice and learn from your mistakes. Easier said than done!

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Excuses, Excuses

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 7.07.21 PMPuleeeeze, writers.

As a high school language arts teacher I’ve heard every excuse in the book—many times over. Much to my students’ chagrin, I tear apart…um, I mean  kindly and logically explain how to overcome that excuse. ( Maybe this is why they don’t appreciate my wisdom until they’re in college. )

Warning: This blog may offend those writers thriving on excuses. I know, I know, many excuses are valid—death, dismemberment, disaster, disease, zombie apocalypse—however, most are just excuses.

Here’s the top excuses I hear from both writers and my students.

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