Tag Archives: Writing Inspiration

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

wvwp-copy 03Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

wvwp-copy 02

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

No-Way-Home-Photography-1

Wednesdays Visual Writing Prompt

Use this prompt to think outside the box, to go somewhere with your writing that you had never dare go before. See what kind of magic you can work with that brilliant mind of yours. You are a story-teller so this should be a breeze.

Maybe you could use this prompt to add a scene to the current book you are writing. Maybe you could start a short story that you can give away for free to subscribers of your blog. A picture like this can spark ideas you may never have considered.

The Rules

There aren’t really many rules, just enough to get your blog some attention and get new people interested in your writing or the current book you have to offer.

  • Write in any genre you like – poetry too
  • Tag this post in your post (share this post to your WordPress blog as a new post) so I can find you (it will ping back to this post), then I can check out your work, and promote you on my social sites.
  • If you want, when you’re done, Check which famous writer you write like with a statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers. Just paste your completed work at  I Write Like – You will be given a badge that says which famous author you write like and you can paste the html into the end of your Wednesday Visual Writers Prompt, if you like, to show us all your badge! AWESOME
  • You have until the following Tuesday to complete this writers prompt, then I will be posting a new one on the following day, next Wednesday.

If you have any suggestions for future Wednesday Visual Writing Prompts, please let me know in the comments 🙂

I look forward to reading your writing.

(if you post past the deadline I will do my best to read your work and share it on my social networks as time permits).

Have Fun!

Totally Transform Your Next Blog Post

The Unfair Advantage Popular Writers Try to Hide

You know your writing heroes? Would you be shocked to learn that their writing is no better than yours?

Sure, the end product is better, but the first draft is just as clumsy, flabby, and downright difficult to read as any of your own writing efforts.

What popular bloggers know that many people don’t know (or don’t want to believe) is that a post isn’t finished simply because they’ve said everything they want to say. In many ways that’s just the beginning.

Think of your draft as a rough diamond. Value is hidden inside it and you need an expert gem cutter to reveal its beauty and clarity.

Which is why many top bloggers hire a professional editor to transform their rough diamonds into gleaming jewels. That’s right – someone else is helping them.

Somewhat unfair, right?

No wonder their writing seems so much better than yours. And even those bloggers who don’t use an editor have simply learned how to edit their own posts like a pro.

Fortunately, editing isn’t rocket science. If you have someone to show you how.

So let’s break down the rules that’ll help you transform your unremarkable draft into a perfectly polished post.

7 Editing Rules That Will Totally Transform Your Next Post

  • DON’T PAD YOUR PROSE WITH EMPTY FILLER WORDS
(Or: Avoid Using Grammar Expletives)

Grammar expletives are literary constructions that begin with the words it, here, or there followed by a form of the verb to be.

(Expletive comes from the Latin explere, meaning to fill. Think smelly literary landfill).

Common constructions include it is, it was, it won’t, it takes, here is, there is, there will be.

The problem? When it, here, and there refer to nouns later in the sentence or – worse – to something unnamed, they weaken your writing by shifting emphasis away from the true drivers of your sentences. And they usually require other support words such aswho, that, and when, which further dilute your writing.

Let’s look at an example:

There are some bloggers who seem to have…

The there are expletive places the sentence’s focus on some nebulous thing called thereinstead of the true focus of the sentence – some bloggers. And the writer must then use another unnecessary word – who – that’s three unnecessary words in one unfocused sentence.

Train yourself to spot instances of there, here, and it followed by a to be verb (such as is,are, was, and were) and adjust your sentences to lead with the meat and potatoes of those sentences instead.

(Tip: Use your word processor’s find functionality and search for there, here, and it and determine if you’ve used an expletive).

Other before-and-after examples:

  • It’s fun to edit – Editing is fun
  • It takes time to writeWriting takes time
  • There are many people who write – Many people write
  • There’s nothing better than blogging – Nothing’s better than blogging
  • Here are some things to consider: – Some things to consider are:

Caveat: If you previously described an object using there, here, and it, you’re not guilty of an expletive infraction. For example:

  • I love editing. It’s fun. (This is not an expletive construction since I previously described what it refers to.)

2. DON’T WEAKEN THE ACTION WITH WIMPY WORDS

(Or: Avoid Weak Verbs; Use Visceral and Action Verbs Instead)

Not only does to be conspire with it, there, and here to create nasty grammar expletives, but it’s also responsible for its own class of sentence impairing constructions.

Certain uses of to be in its various forms weaken the words that follow. The solution is to replace these lightweights with more powerful alternatives.

Let’s see some before-and-after examples:

  • She is blogging – She blogs
  • People are in love with him – People love him
  • He is aware that people love him – He knows people love him

Other verbs besides to be verbs can lack strength as well. Use visceral verbs or verbs that express some action. Let’s edit:

  • Give outOffer
  • Find outDiscover
  • Make it clearer – Clarify
  • I can’t make it to the party – I can’t attend the party
  • He went to Mexico – He traveled to Mexico
  • Think of a blogging strategy – Devise a blogging strategy

3. DON’T CRIPPLE YOUR DESCRIPTIONS WITH FEEBLE PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Weak Adjectives)

Weak adjectives sap the strength from your writing just as nefariously as weak verbs. Use the best adjectives possible when describing nouns and pronouns. And be mindful that certain words, like really and very, usually precede weak adjectives. Take a look:

  • Really badTerrible
  • Really goodGreat
  • Very bigHuge
  • Very beautifulGorgeous

Even if you don’t have a telltale really or very preceding an adjective, you can often give your writing more impact by using stronger alternatives:

  • DirtyFilthy
  • TiredExhausted
  • ScaredTerrified
  • HappyThrilled

Even worse than using weak adjectives is using weak adjectives to tell your readers what something isn’t as opposed to telling them what something is:

  • It’s not that good – It’s terrible
  • He’s not a bore – He’s hilarious
  • He’s not very smart – He’s ignorant

4. TRIM FLABBY WORDS AND PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Verbose Colloquialisms)

Today’s readers have limited time and patience for flabby writing. Their cursors hover over the back button, so say what you mean as concisely as possible before your readers vanish:

  • But the fact of the matter isBut (Avoid flabby colloquial expressions when possible)
  • Editing is absolutely essential – Editing is essential (Absolutely is redundant)
  • You’re going to have to edit your work – You’ll have to edit your work or You mustedit your work (Going to and going to have to are flabby expressions)
  • Due to the fact that editing takes time, some people avoid it – Because editing takes time, some people avoid it
  • Every single person should love editing – Every person should love editing (Single is redundant; and shouldn’t married people love editing too? 😉 )

5. DON’T PUSSYFOOT AROUND YOUR VERBS AND ADJECTIVES

(Or: Avoid Nominalization)

Nominalization occurs when a writer uses a weak noun equivalent when a stronger verb or adjective replacement is available. Like expletives, nominals usually introduce other unnecessary words when used.

Count the number of words in the before-and-after examples below, and you will witness how badly nominals weaken your writing:

  • Give your post a proofreadProofread your post (verb form)
  • Alcohol is the cause of hangovers – Alcohol causes hangovers (verb form)
  • The plane’s approach was met with the scramble of emergency crews – The planeapproached and emergency crews scrambled. (verb form)
  • He shows signs of carelessness – He is careless (adjective form)
  • She has a high level of intensity – She is intense (adjective form)

6. THROW OUT THE RULEBOOK ON PUNCTUATION

(Or: Use the Occasional Comma for Clarity)

The rules around punctuation can be complicated, even for the humble comma.

But do you truly need to know the difference between a serial comma, an Oxford comma, and a Harvard comma to write a great blog post? Of course not. (And it’s a trick question – they’re all the same.)

So my philosophy on commas is simple:

Use commas sparingly if you prefer, but if excluding a comma MAKES YOUR READER STOP READING, add another bleepin’ comma – regardless of what any comma police may say.

Let’s look at an example:

You can ignore editing and people reading your post may not notice but your ideas will get lost.

By not including a comma between editing and and, I read this sentence and asked myself, “I can ignore editing and people reading my post? Really?” Of course, readers work out the intended meaning a moment later, but by that time, they’ve already stalled.

So, regardless of what comma rule I may break by adding a comma to this sentence, as long as my readers don’t get confused and stop reading, I don’t care – and neither should you.

Let’s look at another example that needs a comma for clarity:

One day, when you find success you can pull out your golden pen and write me a thank-you letter.

By not including a comma between success and you, I read this sentence and asked myself, “Is success something you can pull out of a golden pen?”

Regardless of your stance on commas, you ultimately want your readers to keep reading. You want them to continue down your slippery slope of powerful content all the way to your call to action – without getting jarred from their trance to contemplate commas with their inner editors or a Google search.

7. BE AS MANIPULATIVE AS POSSIBLE

(Or: Use Noun Modifiers Whenever You Can)

You won’t use this technique often, but at least be mindful of it.

When we use two nouns together with the first noun modifying the second, we are using noun modifiers. I like them because they hack the flab from our writing by shortening our sentences. Let’s review some examples:

  • Tips on editing – Editing tips
  • Great advice on how to boost traffic – Great traffic-boosting advice (Traffic-boosting is a compound noun here)
  • Information regarding registration – Registration information

These sentences have prepositions between the noun sets. Whenever you spot this construction, try to implement this noun-modifying technique.

What’s Your Excuse Now?

These tips are not magical, mystical, or complicated. In fact, you could consider them downright boring, plain, and inconsequential.

But applying smart editing rules is what separates your heroes from the masses,catapults them to success, and makes readers say, “I don’t know what it is about their writing, but it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Look at is this way: You’ve expended a ton of effort on SEO, content marketing, networking, and social media promotion, all in the hopes that more people will notice your blog. So when they arrive, shouldn’t your next post blow their socks off too?

And how about your last post and the one before that? (Yes, you can apply these rules to your old posts too!)

Or are you one of those writers who think they write well enough already? Well, you might be surprised by just how many of these crimes against clarity you’re committing.

Open one of your posts right now and see how many of these editing rules you can apply.

Read each word of your post. Is the word an expletive? Is it a weak verb? A weak adjective? Does it represent nominalization or flab or break any of the other rules mentioned in this post?

Run each word of your post through this process. You will find something to improve. And your writing will be 100% more powerful as a result.

Because the search for perfection never ends.

And your writing is never too good.

Sure, proofreading and editing take time.

And yes, you’re already busy enough.

But your writing heroes edit, and they land the guest posts, book deals, and exposure you only wish you could.

So, take a break from #amwriting and start #amediting right now.

Your success will thank you.


About the Author: Shane Arthur is the copy editor for Jon Morrow’s kick-butt Guest Blogging Apprenticeship Program (aff.), where he applies these rules (and others) to polish students’ guest posts to perfection before final submission.

7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful by Shane Arthur


 

How to Write a Character Sketch

How to write a character sketch copy small

A sketch is a starting point.

In the visual arts, artists carry around sketch pads to practice and develop the fundamental skills of their craft with the aim of producing paintings that seem to jump off the canvas, or sculptures that seem to move in just the right light.

The same is true for authors who use character sketches.

Writers use this tool to develop and rehearse one of the fundamental skills of their craft -characterization.

However, the final goal is not to have a notepad full of character sketches, but an author should get to know his or her character through this practice.

While not everything that an author writes in a character sketch must be included in the novel, the author should develop an in-depth and all-encompassing knowledge of every facet of the character’s personality in order to create a consistent and engaging persona.

The ultimate goal of a writer is to take these character sketches and use them to craft a wonderfully engrossing, character-driven work of fiction.

iStock_000018149672XSmall

Try Some Book Study

A Character Sketch is a great way to assess the characters in the literature you are reading or people that you are researching about. It can give you tools of observation as you look at the many details about another individual.

When studying a specific character in a literary piece the sketch gives you the freedom to be a detective and try to find out what the author is expressing through their characters. You can sketch the protagonist ( the favorable hero or heroine in the story,) or the antagonist ( the character which causes the conflict for the main character), or the supporting characters.

This sharpens the skill of observation and note-taking as you focus on one specific character and the traits that make them ‘who they are’ in the book.

Can you write a sketch without a book to study? Absolutely!  A great way to practice is to sketch someone you know in real-life.

Untitled-1 copy

Writing a Character Sketch

When you are writing a Character Sketch, want to look for qualities of character and/or personality traits that you see in the person you want to write about.  The main goal of this is to be able to tell something  about the person you are researching. Think of it like an introduction.  In essence, you are introducing the reader to the person you are writing about.

Be sure to use strong visual words in your writing. You want to provide a lasting mental image of the person or character you are writing about. The use of quality adjectives and feeling in your writing, using words that relate to the five senses,  elicit an emotional response from your reader.  This will allow your reader to not only connect with you and the character but will show how you felt when reading a piece or spending time with the person you are writing about.

This type of writing only requires you to give a brief glimpse of the individual. When you are preparing to write make a list of the traits or details you want to include. It is possible to assign the number of traits equal to the # of paragraphs or supporting topics needed. Or you can categorize the subjects into a broader spectrum which allows you to have multiple supporting points for each topic.  It is always best to outline your writing material first so you have a good idea what you are writing.

Your outline should include descriptions on the following details:

  • Tell about their physical features. ( hair color, height, etc.)
  • Tell about the character’s personality. ( are they funny, serious, quiet, etc.?)
  • Their  likes or dislikes( What you know about their preferences and why?)
  • Talk about their family ( siblings, family history, etc)
  • What are their  beliefs or  hobbies?
  • Include anything that makes us see “who” they are.
  • What do you like or dislike about them?
  • Why are you drawn to them?

Sample Outline

Here is a sample outline for you to follow. It is a basic 5 paragraph ( approximately 500 word essay outline)  Feel free to take this and make it your own or make your own outline using this as a guide.

Introduction:

This section will introduce the character and is typically the first paragraph in  your paper.  It should include the following:

  • Your thesis statement ( the overall theme of the paper or the main idea of what you are writing) . The Thesis statement should  include the most  important character traits.
  • The subtopics ( these become the topic sentence in your body paragraphs) should be included in this paragraph as well. For example: use 1-2 sentences to list the traits that you are going to talk about. End with a transition sentence that ties into the 2nd paragraph.

Body:

This is paragraphs 2-4 or the in between paragraphs. The body comes between the Introduction and the Conclusion. These paragraphs detail the traits listed as the subtopics from the Introduction. Those subtopics should be the topic sentences in each body paragraph.

  • Always try to include the most important trait 1st, the second most important detail next, and so on.  Each paragraph has 1 trait which is discussed in detail. Include information  about experiences that support the trait which is being discussed.

Remember!  You want to pull your reader in so include details that will connect them to your main character.

Conclusion:

This is the last paragraph in your paper. Try to conclude with a final comment, pointed and well-expressed, that highlights the traits discussed in the paper.

  • Restate your thesis statement.
  • Remind the reader of your most important points.
  • Close with a solid statement which finalizes all you are trying to communicate to the reader.

 

Another Approach Recommended by Editors

 Who is your character physically?

Physical characteristics are the first things we notice when we meet someone. Therefore, this is a good starting point when writing a character sketch. Is your character a woman or a man? Is he or she tall or short? Is your character bald? How old is your character? Does he or she have a disability?

Authors, eager to explore the in-depth psychology of their written subjects, might discount these details as unimportant and base. But it is often these very details that lead to conflict or are the means through which we explore a character’s psychology. As an example of this, we recommend reading Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People; in this short story, the physical details of the main character are representations of her internal state. Without a vivid description of this character’s physicality, a critical dimension of the plot would be lost and the central conflict would be nonexistent. Answering questions about your character’s physicality is the first step in creating a fully realized character.

What is your character doing?

This is the next question to ask because it brings into account other aspects of story writing such as setting and time. The answer to this question will also affect other aspects of your sketch, such as what your character is wearing or how he or she is feeling. Is your character walking down the street? Is he or she sitting in a park? Is your character working on a boat? Asking what your character is doing will not only help you understand your character, but also his or her relationship to the setting in your story.

Authors may be tempted to gloss over this part of characterization. When asked what his or her character is doing, an author might give a cursory answer; he or she may answer that the subject is at the movies, for example. But consider all that there is to do at a movie theatre: Is the character waiting in line for tickets or at the concession stand? Is he or she waiting to talk to the manager? Perhaps the character is sitting impatiently waiting for the movie to begin. Getting as specific as you can when answering this question will not only help you define your character, but will also help to define the other elements of fiction.

What is your character feeling?

This is probably one of the more complex questions you can ask about your character. Is your character angry? Is he or she happy, sad, tired, or depressed? Does your character love something or someone? Asking questions about your character’s emotional life might evolve into the production of a character history. While this may be tempting, you have to focus on what your subject is feeling within the context of the story you are writing. Although the answers to these questions are important, they are rarely explicitly stated in the story.

Authors may be tempted to start with the emotional or psychological state of their characters and they may even explicitly state them. This can lead to one of the cardinal sins of fiction writing: telling instead of showing. Implicitly showing how your character is feeling by his or her interactions with other characters or the setting is infinitely more interesting to read than explicitly stating whether your character is happy, sad, elated, joyful, or miserable.

Do you have any creative ideas that help you put together character sketches?

 

CDb copy

Sources:                                                                                                 http://www.journeysingrace.com/home-education/lesson-plans/literature/how-to-write-a-character-sketch/ http://www.scribendi.com/advice/how_to_write_a_character_sketch.en.html