Next week begins the 100 days course that should help me produce my first draft. The WritePractice is helping me.
My novel did start its way by pantsing. I got to about 14000 words and lost my way. It was at this time I sat back and thought I should outline, and do some research into the subject areas within my story.
Firstly I did a Creative writing course on Udemy and found out my English was fairly bad. That needed some work and practice. My comma splices were plentiful but that got corrected by sentence diagrams which I learned through the English Grammar Revolution.
As my intended protagonist was a private investigator; I did a foundation course on being a private investigator by Rockwell Private Investigators.
Being sure my P.I. was going to encounter dead bodies; I did a Forensic Science and Profiling course, that was very interesting and cheap as I got it from GroupOn.
While all this was going on, I researched what was favourable about Shakespeare and why his work is still popular after four hundred years. I came across the rhythm of English and the Iambic pentameter, that was used by William Shakespeare, the master of the Iam.
I also looked at memorable characters in movies and tv and why they were so accepted. For instance; Basil Fawlty, the worst, hateful owner of a hotel in history, but he was admired so much, why?
Some quick helping points that can improve the very next piece you write.
1. Know your reader, and this means more than knowing a few demographics (how old they are, their average income, etc.). To know your readers means you understand their fears, frustrations, and aspirations. Writing from the reader’s perspective will dramatically change the way you write.
2. Know your objective.
3. The pieces you write like blog posts, press release, video script, or anything else, need have only one aim. I can call this objective the Most Desired Result, or “MDR.” Knowing your MDR forces you to write with crystal-clear focus.
4. Use short words; you don’t need a thesaurus.
5. To convince, you must be clear to understand. Utilising short words is one of the best ways to make your meaning clear. So, don’t show off how many big words you can use.
6. Use short sentences. Your thoughts come across more clearly in short sentences. A bonus is that short sentences prevent you from confusing your readers.
7. Use short paragraphs.
8. Let’s imagine you come to a webpage filled with a large block of text. There are no paragraph breaks. Are you likely to read it? Most people would say no. Make your writing skimmable, scannable, and scrollable. Use short paragraphs.
9. Use active language.
10. Active language is powerful and interesting. In contrast, passive language is tedious. How do you identify which is which? In an active sentence, the subject is performing the acting: “Bill fixes cars.” But in a passive sentence, the target of the action becomes the subject of the sentence. For instance, instead of saying, “Bill fixes cars,” I might say, “The cars are fixed by Bill.”
Passive language presents your idea inadequately. It does feel “backwards.” Also, it is more difficult for many readers to understand. Write with power. Use active language.
11. Write recklessly, re-write ruthlessly.
12. When you eventually write your first draft, it’s okay if it’s appalling. In other words, write carelessly. After you have your first draft on a document (or in memory), filled with strength and power, you can clean up any “messes” you might’ve made. Be ruthless when you edit and re-write.
When you write a sentence, it can either be written in the passive voice or the active voice.
* The active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. For example, ‘Brian replaced the flat tyre’.
* The passive voice describes a sentence where the subject is acted upon by the verb. For instance, ‘The flat tyre was replaced by Brian’.
In most cases, writing sentences in a passive voice is discouraged because it can obscure the subject of the sentence, and mislead the reader. It also regularly creates a wordy and clumsy sentence construction.
Defining Passive Voice
Every sentence contains, at a minimum, a subject and an action. The subject is the person or thing the sentence is about, and the action is what the subject is doing.
When the sentence is in the active voice, the subject is doing the action, and the subject typically arises before the action in the sentence. For example:
* I run. I is the subject. Run is the action. The subject doing the action appears before the action, so it is clear to the reader who is doing what.
When a sentence is in a passive voice, the subject is being acted upon by the verb, and the subject usually appears after the action. In an example:
* Running is something I do. Here, the action is Running, and the subject is I. The sentence is in a passive voice because the person doing the action (I) is not introduced until after the action.
Sometimes sentences also contain objects – or the thing being acted upon. This can make it more difficult to define whether the sentence is in a passive voice. For example, here is a sentence in an active voice:
* Philip hits the ball. ‘Philip’ is the subject. ‘Hits’ is the action. So the ‘ball’ is the object.
That same sentence in passive voice reads:
* The ball is hit by Philip.
* The ball is the object – which is not the subject of the sentence because the ball is not doing the action. Therefore, it should be after the subject (Philip)
Tips to Recognise the Passive Voice
Often a sentence in passive voice does not inevitably sound “incorrect” or wordy. However, it is still proper to write in active voice when possible.
To recognise that a sentence is in a passive voice, watch out for these keywords:
* Has been
* Have been
* Will be
With non-fiction books then the learning and expressing the subject of your manuscript would be essential. A fiction book is more or less the same. Wheather it’s in present-day or a few hundred years ago or in the future, then you need to be aware of currency, eating and drinking material. Off-world Sci-fi or fantasy also needs to be checked as you don’t want characters in a fictional world going for a chicken evening meal and paying for it in Dollars. You must spend time reading outside of your comfort zone, reading the work of authors you admire and the novels of authors you detest.
You must take notes, write down and learn to arrange your ideas before you start your book. I was asked on a writing course to study poetry. My first thoughts were, “Yuck, I hate poetry and will never write any.” But, I considered Shakespeare and looked into his work and discovered he was the Iambic Pentameter master (which is poetry and sonnet material), and that may be a reason his work is still loved 400 years after his death.
If you fail to feed your mind, then don’t expect it to serve you quality ideas when you next sit down in front of the blank page.
1. Writing Should Be Learned
I’m not, or ever have been, an insatiable reader. In my youth, I loved James Clavell’s Shogun. Our family had little capital, though, to spend on books, and I infrequently thought about using the school library for entertainment reading. The library was only a place to inquire, copy out of encyclopedias.
I’ve been a storyteller my entire life, though, so when someone proposed I write a book, I thought, Why not? (in the words of Jeremy Clarkson) How hard can it be?
Um, it’s kinda hard, and it surprised me) to learn that you don’t just sit down and fluidly pen a story. There’s a craft to it, something a practised reader knows intuitively from the many hours spent with a book in their hands.
2. Writing Does Take a Lot of Time.
Pick up a book and look at the page. See those words? Yeah, they made it into the final novel. For every one of those words, there were lots of others that didn’t make it into the book. Someone wrote all of them. That took time, the one thing a lot of writers lack.
You have to scrape time out of the day to do it. You may have a day job or a family. This time devotion can be problematic to find the time. You might need to lose sleep, lunch hours. Eventually, your loved ones will complain, and you’ll need to figure out how to balance your real life with your dream. When you do, email me your secret. My husband is starting to complain about the scant fare at our establishment.
I once read a blog post with an exclamation mark at the end of every sentence. I would have liked to read the whole post, but I couldn’t—the exclamation marks were distracting me from the content and making it a painful read.
How to fix it:
Proofread your work. Then ask yourself: Does this sentence need an exclamation mark? Am I going to lose anything if I replace this exclamation mark with a full stop? If the response to this question is ‘no’, then please, please get rid of that exclamation mark.
The grammar-controlled community makes so much noise about confusable words that I’m always surprised when I see them misused.
What do I suggest by confusable words, like the following:
practice/practise (for the UK, American and Australian writers among us)
The list goes on.
How to fix it
Proofread! Know what your weak words are, maybe list them so you can be extra aware to check them.
I.e. indicates that is, and, e.g. means for example.
How to fix it
Whenever you write it, reread the sentence in your head with the full version, that is where the shortened version (i.e.) is. If it doesn’t make sense, then change it.
While not a universally used convention, I recommend punctuating like this:
Why? If you were writing for example in a sentence, how would you write it?
For example, that is,
You would include commas, right? So why wouldn’t you contain commas in the shortened versions? Plus, you look like you know about grammar, and that’s always a positive.
Getting less and fewer correct is not easy—unless you have a know-how up your sleeve to memorise which one is which.
Here’s how to fix the problem:
You may use two different procedures to get less and fewer correct. The first method is less precise, and the second is a tiny bit more tricky.
First strategy: If you can count it, just use fewer. If you can not figure it, then use ‘less’.
E.g., less desire; fewer hugs
less cash; fewer coins
Second strategy: Less and fewer describe names. If you are representing a singular noun (i.e., you can use ‘is’ after it), then use that a less amount. If you’re calling a plural noun (i.e., you can use ‘are’ after ‘it’), then use fewer. (This way is a bit more tricky but much more reliable.)
E.g., affection is; less affection;
hugs are; fewer hugs
money is; less money;
coins are; fewer coins
Double spaces may occur for a variety of reasons: Perhaps you’ve deleted a word but forgotten to remove the space before it, or maybe you’ve cut and pasted, and some spaces have been included where they shouldn’t be. Some readers may not notice, but to me, double spaces stick out.
Note: When I say ‘double spaces’, I mean between words, not between lines or anything like that. I mean when you see something like this .
So, how to fix the problem:
Get in the practice of searching for two spaces next to each other when you’ve finished your post.