Part Two The Worrying Wave of Weak Verbs: a cautionary tale of the murderous search for to be, to have, to do, to get, to go and to make

I cannot help but re-blog this! This post is LOADED with information for the aspiring writers of the world. Again showing, when we think we are close to a manicured manuscript, our story needs even more attention and love. Thank You so much Maria for this fantastic blog-post, at a time for myself that was most critical!! Love! ❤ PS-I was a TO BE and MADE girl…I thought I might die.

Experience Writing

Action verbs He went down the slide.
He slid. He zipped. He whooshed!

In my last post, I shared an amazing discovery, a  little book full of helpful tips called The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier by Bonnie Trenga. At the end of exploring Chapter Seven, you’ll recall I encountered a “there was” problem in my manuscript. After my battle with “there was”, I moved on to Chapter Four: The Delicious Drama of the Weak Verb. Finding specific verbs is important, interesting and sometimes fun, but I didn’t find it delicious.

In Bonnie Trenga’s words:

“Weak verbs are everyday, normal verbs we use all the time. However, they’re often repetitive, passive, wordy, or too general. These verbs frequently fail to clarify the action, and they make readers work too hard.”

Which verb does she start with? You guessed it, our friend “to be”. Along with the battle of “there was” that…

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Oh’ Gravatar how I 💛 you!!

It is true, less than a year ago I would have had no idea what a Gravatar was. Let alone a Avatar, Blavatar or any of their little friends, and yes, I would have likened them to a movie.  Like, what?  Dear friends…there is a difference.

What Is Gravatar?

Thank you most awesome – gravatar.com

An “avatar” is an image that represents you online—a little picture that appears next to your name when you interact with websites.

A Gravatar is a Globally Recognized Avatar. You upload it and create your profile just once, and then when you participate in any Gravatar-enabled site, your Gravatar image will automatically follow you there.

***

These impressions are a caricature of ourselves available on the internet, whatever we may want that to be, a personal depiction of who we are; anything from our high-school graduation photo ( ha-ha ), stick men, emoticons/emojis, animal or flower pictures, to the quilt-like patterns when you have yet to truly identify yourself as an online entity created by WordPress.  And these companies have made it so easy for us to set up.

I would not understand the power of this earth shattering presence until I recently went to a writers conference.  Upon entering the event, I was approached by one of the presenters, and I waltzed up to this peer, hand outstretched, as though I had known them since 1st grade.  Why? because I felt like I knew them already from that minuscule picture that I see daily when I visit any or all of their sites.  Fear not, I stopped myself before wrapping them into a hug.  It was Instant Recognition.

Good or Bad?  I say, Awesome!  We may never be on the big screen, Soap Opera’s Digest, Us Weekly or want to be, but if we can be recognized simply by a likeness for the work we diligently put out there in the great blue yonder, how amazing is that!

I don’t even think I would recognize my next door neighbor at the grocery store.

But this becomes our online business card, realtors are not the only people deserving of such recognition.  Now I hate to say – if we use our pet’s picture or that of our grand-child it would not have the same effect, so a very important fact would be to use an updated portrayal if this is our intent.  For me, this doesn’t apply, because I look the same as I did in high-school. ( Joke, my Good People ) I simply cannot get rid of my eighties hair do.

rockers hair

The power of presence, our digital imprint, the making of our personal brand!  Bam!  Gravatar!

Write on!  ❤️ Jessica!

Want a Kick in the Booty?

One of the last blogs I wrote expressed my frustration with recurring brain freeze and scheduling techniques to uproot my procrastination. I’m recovering from the “P” word. Following Jessica’s routine, the morning begins with writing. Not only am I entrenched with my story, but also I am creating an atmosphere that supports my goals. I’m pleased.

I want to add another “P” stopper: myriad resources available for all of us who have writing goals. Abundant resources help me. Several books have stirred my creative pot. I referred to Karen S. Wiesner, whom I think provides brilliant techniques and allows pages to print to help us with organisation aka procrastination.

Another resource I keep close to my computer is writer Cheryl St. John’s, Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict. She includes rules (for guidance and thought,) and examples from her own works as well as other authors. Whatever genre you write in, the rules are true. You want your reader to continue reading.

Rule Number One: a story is feelings. Keep your readers wanting more. What’s at stake for your character? Provide tension by throwing situations that arouse your character’s emotions. What are the individuals’ motivations, fatal flaws, and “showing” how these might direct their actions and choices?

Each of us wants our readers to care! Writers are attached to their characters and don’t necessarily provide a resolution we readers approve, but they show natural consequences for plot and outcomes. Characters will give us “directions.”

I surprise myself with how characters “direct” me. Once my muse takes over, I see how individuals behave and my writing goes more smoothly. Oprah had a book club on her show. She invited a group who had read the chosen book and also the author. On more than one occasion someone would ask a question such as, “Why did you do that to your character?” The a author regularly answered,  “I don’t know why that happened. They took me there. I was sad, too.”

I get it. When you are IN the characters‘ minds, they are in control and the story spins where they choose.

We do have control in creating characters, the plot, the back-story, the tensions, emotions, and conflicts, but be prepared for their spin.

Thank you for reading our blog!

Sandi

January Critique FINALLY Received … Query and 1st 1000 Words

After the desperate, painful months of waiting; like a hopeful child for the day of their birth, diligently marking off 364 individual days, to finally arrive, and the subsequent let down to occur: the e-mail magically appeared in my in-box and vanished of the same fashion.

cri·tique

kriˈtēk/

noun 1.a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory.

(I believe it is the word detailed that has me thrown, let’s check that out…)

de·tailed

dəˈtāld,ˈdēˌtāld/

adjective 1.having many details or facts; showing attention to detail.

Yes, that is the clincher, having many details.  I would pain you and look up many, but I will not.

I should be the gracious receiver, that my friend encourages me to be, but I am reminded that this was a critique in which I paid monies to, to further enrich and expand in a craft I have chosen to excel and be competent.  I received approximately 5 quick blurbs, not even full sentences. 

The short, short of the not-so-long of it is…Don’t be choppy, use varied sentence styles, but in this key, compact version in the middle of your query, keep sentences flowing with rich detailed information and, most importantly, set your HOOK.  You were able to break your manuscript into a 2 page synopsis, now break your synopsis into a single paragraph and then into a single barbed sentence.  Armed with this bit of tackle, we will now be ready for pitch wars. 

On the last page of my manuscript sample were the words, “Terrific, great set-up, I wanted to keep reading.”  

In which, if we had not already been playing e-mail pong, I should have responded, “I would gladly send you my full.”

Write on!  

Support and Routine

Do you have tough writing days? Maybe the page blankly stares back at you, or you’re just not in the mood and don’t try? I certainly have those days. My friend Jessica does not have many. Here’s what I have learned from her: She maintains a schedule amidst family distractions. She starts her day reading responses to her blogs and twitter accounts. Then she answers and writes new ones for that day. She has more than one project in the works, even if the second one is not a priority. She says that writing first thing in the morning “primes the pump,“ so to speak. I resist the scheduling and know it would be the best habit to make. Okay, so what’s the matter, missy?

A couple of years ago I wrote during the NaNoWriMo and did discipline myself to write 1600 words daily. If I had a day planned that didn’t allow for writing for one reason or another, I wrote more words prior to that date. Truly, not every page was a keeper, but just writing consistently produced my muse. When I reread those pages, I am surprised how my voice emerged. Why am I resisting now?

I finished a researched true story of my grandmother’s courage during the 1918 Cloquet-Moose Lake fire in northeastern Minnesota. After discovering that most of my cousins and their children had never heard about how she had saved herself and 3 young daughters, I was compelled to write and share it with family. The research slowed me down, but after finding a wonderful resource, I was on my way. The narrative nonfiction was mailed on Monday. Hurray, now back to overcoming resistance.

My project of several years is a novel based on a true story. (Don’t ask me the difference between that and narrative nonfiction. Since the agents I met at a conference last August disagreed in equal proportion, I’m not going there. I don’t know.) But what slowed me down has been the myriad searches about WWII, Lipizzan horses, the countryside of Hungary, and Hungary’s history. Blah Blah Blah. I have most of what I need to go on. My husband and I visited Hungary last spring. But I write inconsistently and not as a job or passion. The “stuck” days are about the things Jessica does that I am NOT doing.

I will be more successful if I adopt her habits. But the biggest gift Jessica has taught me is that she will be there for me. Not only is she modeling good practice, but she props me up when I am down and encourages me at every turn. After reading something I have written and shared with her, she applauds as well as critiques. I hope you have someone like her to aid your journey.

I would love to hear about your process.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Sandi