Posts Tagged ‘improvement’ Archive

We Interrupt Our Regular Programming…

…for a rant!

Why are writers in such a rush to be published?  I know, I know, it’s the dream.  We all want to hold our lovelies in our hands, smell the pages, sign them for all our fans, give them as presents on Christmas, and of course, highjack our friends for long car rides and tell them to READ IT!  Yes, it’s the dream.

It is my dream too.  I want all those things sometimes so bad I think I could cry or throw up (yes, seriously). But I started walking down this road only six months ago and only wrote my first novel a year ago. My first book was horrible, terrible, but I learned a lot. My second was a middle grade book that I had a ball writing. My third was a full length YA. And now, I’ve begun another YA.

I can’t believe how I’ve improved with each book I’ve written!  The old adage is right, if you want to get better at writing, you have to write.  No excuses.  Just get it done.  Don’t stop at book one, write a second, third, fourth…

No, I’m not saying don’t query the first or second because I’m sure going to, once I feel they’re polished, but I’m also saying, what’s the rush?  You’re probably not starving because you haven’t sold any books.  That’s what other jobs are for.

The moral to my rant: don’t be in a rush, just write, perfect your craft, and make connections with other writers (yes, make friends, just like in kindergarden).  But the biggest thing you should focus on is to enjoy writing.  Love writing.  Be happy you can do this at all.  Every single second of it.  Fall in love with your characters.  Drown in the worlds you build.  Plan more ways to thwart your characters and figure out how to get them out of it.

So go! Write! And never, for a second, take for granted our ability to do what we love.

Sentence Sunday! Punctuating Dialogue

I’ve learned over the past months that I do not punctuate dialogue correctly and I’ve noticed it’s an easy thing for people to mix up.  So, today’s lesson is on punctuating dialogue.  Aren’t you excited?!

The main source of confusion is comma versus period and when to capitalize letters.

Capitalize vs Not Capitalize

“Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!” yelled Juliana.

Here, the y on yelled is not capitalized because yelled is a continuation of the sentence ‘Stop chewing on that book.’ A good way to look at it is to read it as a whole sentence, Stop chewing on that book, yelled Cale.

“Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!” The binding on the book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper.

In this example, the T on The is capitalized because a new sentence is beginning. ‘Stop chewing on that book’ is separate from ‘The binding on the book…’

The book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. “Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!” Running toward her dog, Juliana curled her fingers over the soggy, torn cover of Nevada Barr’s book, Blind Descent, and realized she would have to buy a new copy.

Each of these sentences are complete on their own and so all start with a capitalized letter.

Juliana yelled, “Stop chewing on that book!”

And here, the letter S on Stop is capitalized even though it is a continuation of the sentence ‘Juliana yelled’ because it is the start of dialogue.  The beginning word in dialogue is always capitalized.

Comma vs Period

“Piglet! Stop chewing on that book,” yelled Juliana.

The first time I used this example I had an exclamation point, but here I’ve changed it to a comma.  I would not use a period because ‘yelled Juliana’ is not a sentence of its own, as I said before, it’s a continuation of ‘Stop chewing on that book.’ The comma is used to connect the tag to the dialogue.

The book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. “Piglet! Stop chewing on that book.” Running toward her dog, Juliana curled her fingers over the soggy, torn cover of Nevada Barr’s, Blind Descent, and realized she would have to buy a new copy.

Just as before, all of these are new sentences and so use periods and not commas.

“I hope,” said Juliana, “that my book tasted good, Piglet.”

‘Said Juliana’ is set off by commas because it interrupts the dialogue and is not a separate sentence of its own.

Alright, there are a few examples and explainations for you.  If you think of any I’ve missed, add them in the comments section 🙂

Sentence Sundays!

I will be the first to admit, I am not the best writer.  Now, I may not be a great writer but I am dedicated, I work hard, I study and learn, and I want to be the best writer I can be.  And the first place to look to improve my writing is starting at the beginning: the sentence.  Thus, Sentence Sundays!  From here on out (or until I decide either I have nothing else to learn…right…or everybody votes Sentence Sundays stink), I will be posting what I learn about sentences.

As there are usually four Sundays per month, each Sunday will be designated to a different aspect of sentences.

  1. Sentence Variation
  2. Respect to the Greats
  3. Punctuation
  4. Word Choice

Since this technically is the second Sunday of the month, I’m going to leave you with one of my very favorite suspensive sentences:

“He drove the car carefully, his shaggy hair whipped by the wind, his eyes hidden behind wraparound mirror shades, his mouth set in a grim smile, a .38 Police Special on the seat beside him, the corpse stuffed in the trunk.”

(If any of you know who wrote this, let me know because I can’t find it anywhere. ) Now that is a great sentence.

Keep in mind, I will be learning as I post things here.  If you see any mistakes, please let me know!

So, I’ll see you all next Sunday for a lesson on punctuation!

As a side note, I’ve had three of you take me up on my offer (for a critique partner or just to have a new set of eyes read your WIP) and a few of you say you were interested.  If you’re still interested, or are anytime in the next couple months, let me know!  The offer is still standing 🙂

Note: in light of Kristen Lamb’s, (who wrote We Are Not Alone (#MyWANA on Twitter)), post on why writers blogging about writing is bad, Sentence Sundays will be the days of the week I blog on writing.  Tuesdays and Fridays will be my other blogging days, for other fun things. 🙂

The More You Write the Better

I know I have already posted this link.  It’s the first in a four part series by Ira Glass on storytelling.  If you haven’t watched it, you need to.  Now.

Part of what Ira says is that at the beginning of your career you will produce a lot of crap, but the more you write and the more you work, the better your material will become.

I am extremely excited by how Rupert is evolving and becoming an even better piece of work then I had thought it would be.  Cale has said that Rupert is much better than the first book I wrote.  With this in mind, I’m taking a note from Ira Glass and am looking forward even more to this third book I have begun plotting.

I had a free day today and filled it with listening to Harry Potter on CD and writing (interspersed with taking the dogs on a walk, swim suit shopping- which was a failure, and biking).  I decided to begin the first chapter of this third book.  Yay!  It was a great day of writing a few thousand words and feeling good about the direction my writing is taking.

I guess the moral of this post is to keep writing as much as you can! 🙂

Do You Doubt?

I have the best support system any girl could ask for.  I have an amazing boyfriend who gives me all the quiet time I need to write and is there to bounce ideas off of.  I have a Mom and Dad who are always willing to edit and read draft after draft of work.  I have a sister who is excited to be a part of my work.  And I have two dogs who sleep beside me while I write and keep me company.  These are my main supporters in my path to being a writer, along with friends, cousins, aunts, and grandparents.  All of these people are great at critiquing my work and not letting me think I am better than what I am, but at the same time they let me know I am not chasing after a dream I have no talent for.

If I know I am talented, have the dedication to work hard, and the willingness to learn, then why do I still doubt myself?

Occasionally, I doubt my ideas aren’t creative or that what I find interesting no one else will.  A lot of the time, I doubt my knowledge of grammar and punctuation.  Sometimes, I doubt that no matter how hard I work and how much I love what I do that no one, outside my circle of supporters, will respond to my work.  Most of the time, I doubt my writing, that when placed next to others it will fall far short.

There are two ways I can respond to doubt: one, I can stop writing and keep my stories in my head, and two, I can acknowledge my doubt and continue to work hard.

While reading other paragraph entries on Nathan Bransford’s blog, I was intimidated by many submissions and I definitely questioned how mine looked up against theirs.  I think this is great though because the only way I will improve is by reading and learning from others.

What’s especially cool about posting on Nathan’s blog is that TWO people liked mine.  Not ZERO, but TWO!!!  How cool is that?!  I know it’s not ten, or twenty, or a hundred who said something, but I was thrilled that both Patti and Sophia responded to my post.  Thank you both.

I believe all artists doubt, perhaps all people in all areas of work doubt their abilities.  The only way I want to respond to my own doubt is to push them aside and continue to work.  Doubting myself will only make me write…err, work harder.