Writing Shoes

writing like shoesReady to begin writing the first draft of your novel? Better put on your writing shoes for completing that 1st Draft Mile.

Writing a novel is like walking: Having a destination, avoiding obstacles, enjoying the scenery, and hitting your stride makes the journey more interesting. Now, which footwear will you wear?

flip flops: For the minimalist whose plots, sub plots, action, character development, & dialog are lean and mean. They add detail, mood, and style in subsequent drafts, unpacking a 55,000-word 1st draft into a 89,000-word  final.

high heels: Concerned with first draft appearances, these writers balance character development, sentence crafting, nuances, and careful plotting until satisfied–even if it’s a bit wobbly. They prefer the arched support of a developed novel. Fancy embellishments and subtractions are done after strutting their stuff.

loafer: Write a bit, complain a little, brew coffee, take a break, enjoy social media, write a bit more. Maybe skip to the end—yeah, the end, or the love scene—they really want to write that steamy love scene. These writers enjoy dawdling before writing a difficult scene. They don’t fret too much though because they are confident it will get done eventually.

lug-soled boots: This writer doesn’t wait for inspiration—they lasso it with their Rope of Determination ( like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth but for writers ) and trudge through the first draft with unwavering determination. They don’t shy away from fording a quagmire of plot problems and character issues because their boots were made for walkin.’  (can you hear Nancy Sinatra singing, “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do?”)

running shoes:  Sprinting to the end—their fingers flying over the keyboard, these writers value the speed with which the words explode from their brain. The faster the better. Complete sentences? Mispelled words? Forget about ‘em, this first-drafter runs past them—time for fixes later.

What pair of writing shoes do you put on?

Related Posts: Rock Your Writing

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Football Fanatic Communication 101

Hubby loves football, so in an effort to better communicate with him I decided to incorporate referee hand signals into my arsenal of effective information dissemination strategies. ( Because “here’s a beer” doesn’t work for every situation.)

Hubby’s smart, he had no trouble understanding the explanations behind the signals.

There are 2 kinds of signals. One for writers and one for wives/lovers/partners of football fans. A printable PDF has been provided at the end of the blog.


ref signals2



Football Referee Signals PDF file.

Related Posts: Rock Your Writing, Hubby Funnies

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The 4 Cardinal Virtues

4 cardinal virtuesAnd how an author uses them for evil!
( A Sarcastic Glimpse Into A Writer’s World)

Virtues are good, right? Not when they’re done this way!

Note: I went for satire but wasn’t able to pull off the snark and shaming intent.

Justice: Play fair! If another writer RTs spam on twitter, so should you! If someone makes a caustic remark, fling one back yourself. Justice is sooo cathartic. Did a troll leave a bad review? Respond with venom.

Prudence: Wisdom is important. Make sure to tell everyone on social media how smart you are. Tell them a few times, in case it didn’t penetrate their thick skull. Correct folks whenever you can. Make quick judgment calls and never apologize for being wrong—because you never are. Argue with a friend who points out a plot flaw. They’re just jealous of your brilliance.

Temperance: Self-control and moderation is critical when researching for your novel. Facts? Forget ‘em—it’s called fiction for a reason. Restrain from editing your novel masterpiece. It’s brilliant! Why remove a single adverb, adjective, or repetitive phrase? It’s your style!

Fortitude: Courage is required when accosting an agent in the bathroom at the writer’s conference, and it takes endurance to stalk them all weekend. Confront your fear and send out that first draft query. Do not be intimidated by a this-is-not-what-we’re-looking-for rejection letter by bad-mouthing them on twitter.

Now that you know how to live a virtuous writing life, be sure to name drop Plato, Aristotle, Saint Ambrose, and Saint Augustine. Righteous intellectuals! Just like you!

See you in writer heaven!

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

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Orwell’s Rules

“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by any conscious action do anything about it.”

orwellblogSome things never change. That statement is the opening line of George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” written in 1946.  It’s a 10-page single-spaced censure of poor political and academic  writing.

And because his polemic is an old one—it wouldn’t be surprising if they find hieroglyphics with a similar rebuke—I decided to blog about my few favorite lines and share his enduring writing tips.

“Our civilization is decadent and our language—so the argument runs—must inevitably share in the general collapse.”
  • OMG and LOL! How might Orwell react if he were to travel in in the Tardis with Dr. Who to witness today’s language transgressions.
“[The English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”
  • Mind you, this was before we had 500 channels to choose from and yet “reality” TV is all the rage.
“The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.”
  • Ah, there’s the rub! And the cry of every  teacher of language and literature heard around the world. The writer’s challenge: Using mere words to convey a specific emotion, setting, idea, subject, object, belief, personality etc that is understandable to the reader. It takes a lot of “necessary trouble.” Writers, editors, and teachers call is rewriting and editing.
But there’s a solution to tragic writing!
Orwell lists the common and correctable problems:

Dying metaphors: “A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image.”  Most writers no longer understand the hackneyed metaphors they are using. Orwell’s examples of metaphors that have “been twisted out of their original meanings” include, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and toe the line” which he states is “sometimes written as tow the line.”

Operators of verbal false limbs: (Love this metaphor!) “These save the trouble of picking out  appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry.” Using a phrase when a simple verb will do. Examples include ” render inoperative, be subjected to, give rise to, have the effect of, exhibit a tendency to..”
  • Flames shoot from my eyes when I read these ‘false limbs’ in student papers.

Pretentious diction: “…used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.”  Where would politicians be without all that pretentious politically-correct rhetoric?

Meaningless words: “In certain kinds of writing, particularly…literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.”  This refers to jargon, vague, or ‘in’ words that are used in a consciously dishonest way.
  • We have grown so familiar and possibly anesthetized by meaningless words that we accept them, assuming they mean what we want them to mean.
  • A favorite personal example is when a student writes, “We, as humans…” As opposed to what, I ask. There’s no aliens in class from other worlds—that I know of.

Orwell provides an example of a well-written passage ( taken from Ecclesiastes in the Holy Bible)

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill: but time and chance happen to them all.

His bombastic re-wording.

“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”


Another example: In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that  instead of I think. 

Orwell suggests that a “scrupulous” writer will ask himself the following questions for every sentence he writes.

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
  5. Could I put it more shortly?
  6. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

Orwell also offers the following rules for writers.

1.Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word, or a jargon word if you think of an everyday English equivalent.
5.Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Some writing tips are timeless.

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

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Writing & Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookiesWriting is a lot like making chocolate chip cookies. OK, I’ll admit this blog comes after fighting off a craving—and losing—to the allure of the confection, but the similarities are sweet!

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour is like the plot of a novel, the basic element in any delicious tale.
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda is a leavening agent of skill and craft waiting to expand your draft batter when it’s time to turn on the revision heat.
  • 1 teaspoon salt is akin to the salt of your brow as you labor over your creation.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened. Like real butter, well-chosen words make a better novel and discriminating readers will taste the difference when substitutes are used.
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar. Without sweet conflict a writer has no story. And like the iconic chocolate chip cookies several kinds add depth and complexity to its sweetness, be it the…
  • 3/4 cup packed white refined sugar of man vs man or the psychologically tormented  man vs self.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Great novels have an extra uumph to them—infused with the undetectable something special. Imitation zing doesn’t work—dig deep for the real thing.
  • 2 large eggs. Walkin’ on thematic eggshells does a writer no good. They must crack their creativity wide open to scramble a reader’s prosaic ideals while incorporating them into the story.
  • 2 cups chocolate chips. With just the right amount of narrative hooks, the story will melt in a reader’s mouth, leaving them eager for another bite and turn another page.
  • 1 cup chopped nuts and other optional mix-ins are odd characters that add flavor and zing your novel.

PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Revisions are in your future—don’t become attached to any single sentence.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Writer’s Baking Instructions:

COMBINE plot, craft, and sweat over computer keyboard. Beat words, conflict,  more conflict, and that something special in your brain until ideas are combined. Add themes, one at a time, rewriting & fine tuning well after each addition. Gradually beat in plot mixture. Stir in narrative hooks and optional symbols, motifs, allusions. Drop by rounded sentences and paragraphs onto pages and chapters.

Write & rewrite & edit until story is done—whether you like it moist and chewy, burnt, hard, or slightly raw. In writing time this can take anywhere from 2 months to 10 years. Cool completed novel for several weeks before moving manuscript to the query-agent racks.

Have fun cookin’ up your novel!

Related Links:  Rock Your  WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
Click  Amazon link for novels.

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