Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sometimes, Yesterdays Wine is Bitter.

I've been trying to stick to an every other day time frame for posting, but I feel compelled to break that routine and get another round of my blatherings out. First off I hated yesterday's post and I'm ready to push it a few rungs down the ladder. Also, I have new things to report as well something I meant to mention yesterday but forgot once I lost my train of thought.

We have a new car. After nearly fours hours of dealing with an entirely different set of salesmen from entirely different dealership we have officially kicked aside our gas guzzling SUV and moved to a much smaller Dodge Caliber which gets just about twice the mileage. Make no mistake the new ride is my wife's. Sure, I'll get to drive it from time to time, but for the most part I'll still be behind the wheel of my beat up old Blazer. Here is a pic of a very similar model. The dealership is bringing ours in from Kansas so it will be Friday before it arrives.

Now to the stuff I meant to include in yesterday's post but forgot when my mind clouded over. Last week Merry Jelinek bestowed upon me The Roar for Powerful Words award. I've never seen a purple lion but who am I to doubt the fine folks over at The Shameless Lion Writers Circle.

Per the rules I am supposed to list three writing tips,(We all know how that went yesterday) and then nominate five bloggers who are deserving of this award based on the powerful words they post on their blogs on a regular basis. Or that is how I understand this award.

The Tips

1) Don't be Scared -
This applies on many levels.

Level One -First don't be scared to try. I know many people who have said, I'd love to write but I wouldn't know where to start, or I love to read and I have some good story ideas but I don't know all those grammar rules and stuff. HELLO PEOPLE! You ever read this blog? Neither do I but that doesn't stop me. Jump on in the water is a bit turbulent at time but refreshing just the same.

Level Two - Don't be scared to write what is on your mind. Or put another way. Write like your momma is dead. You can't be filtering your potty mouthed characters dialogue simply because your mom or grandma might one day read your novel. So what if you sex scene is a bit kinky? Who knows? Maybe gramps and granny could use the pointers. Through Viagra all things are possible. And I once had an agent tell me in a workshop, If you're not writing strong enough to piss someone off then chances are you aren't writing strong enough to really reach anyone.

Level Three - Okay, you wrote something. A few pages, a short story an entire novel. Don't be scared to let someone read it. A friend first a fellow writer you met on the internet. A critique group you found via your local writers group. Even your spouse can give you feedback but be prepared to take constructive critique. No one is perfect and regardless of what you intended to write if the words confuse someone else they are confusing. Re work it polish it let someone else read it and then send it out int eh word to agents or editors. No one is going to knock on your door and say, "Hi, I'm Johnny Editor from Random House and I heard you have a stunning novel tucked away with the dust bunnies under your bed. I want to buy it and all those unfinished stories languishing on your hard drive." Just write. Don't Be scared.

2) Find a Comrade -
I have been blessed right from the start of my writing adventures to have a number of friends, and mentors help me. I encourage you to join an on-line writing community or your local writers group. And if you are just starting out I strongly urge you to find a critique group. If nothing else find a fellow soul who is hitchhiking down the same stretch of lonely road and commiserate, bounce ideas off each other. Chances are you're going to need a friendly shoulder to cry on a few times and you'll want someone who truly understand how hard success is that first time you hear yes.

3) Read - Not simply as a reader, but as a writer. Take a few of you favorite books grab a highlighter and sit down. My advice choose novels published int he last five years or so because no matte how great To Kill A Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby are they aren't exactly like the things getting published today. Focus on the current market. Highlight the first time you really liked the protagonist and then ask yourself what made you like them. OR take a pertinent plot point and ask yourself why did the author reveal this now. How would the novel have changed if I'd known this on page 1 or not until page 200. How did the author handle letting us know the female protagonist was raped at the age of thirteen, or some other bit of relevant back story. There are a million little questions you can ask yourself and explore in order to see what make a good book good. I'm not saying to then copy and write your book in a formalistic way based off of others, but if you do this with two or three novels you will begin to see many things in common with great story telling. A word of caution . Use paperbacks because if you do this right you are going to ruin the copies with notes highlights and torn pages.

I hope at least one of those three points helps someone out there.

Now a list of others whose powerful words I enjoy reading. A lot of the bloggers I read have already done this so I'm going off my shaky memory and trying to hit new people, but if I screw up and pick someone who's already had this ... Too bad, do it again.

Bluefingers aka Cicily Janus - Stop by and explain to her why blogger is so much better than myspace. You'll never convince her, but it will give her something to do just the same. Cicily is a very talented writers with a twisted take on most things. She has a story on Underground Voices this month and a poetry review on Eclectica.

WordVixen - Freelancer, fiction writer, crafter, and my source of info for web gizmo's and page creation info, WordVixen is indeed one industrious gal.

Tena Russ - Writer, artist, and dog lover extraordinaire, Tena's blog is as refreshing as an ice cold beer on a hot August day.

Alex Keto and Sherry over at Sage and Thyme have already won this award but I felt compelled to give them both a shout out here just the same.


Monnik said...

Hey - I liked yesterday's post!

But congrats on the car and the award.

We just traded in our van for a smaller car to cut back on gas too. I love it.

Brooke said...

Excellent tips, I for one am in the "scared" category but only when it comes to fiction. To me, writing fiction is somehow more personal than writing about, say, giving birth or my recent hemmorhoid surgery, if that makes sense.

Anyway, congrats on the car, I will hopefully have a new baby on wheels after this weekend since my old car was recently tagged and sold for parts. Oh, the tears at night...

inherwritemind1 said...

Awww, Travis. Thanks, you old sweet thing.

I really like your three tips. I wouldn't be writing the book I'm writing if my mother were around.

Shauna Roberts said...

Great tips! I've been reading many of the lion award tips, and your set is among the best. I see a lot of fear among my aspiring writer friends and occasionally fall prey to it myself. Your ideas for reading as a writer are useful. I need to try using a highlighter. It might keep me from falling into the story and not paying attention to the writing, as always happens.

WordVixen said...

Oh Lord... You want me to give writing tips?

This should be interesting. :) (Thank you!)

holly said...

great tips. it can be hard to forget one's granny, so great reminder. :)

Church Lady said...

Congratulations on the award (and well deserved!)

I strongly agree with number 3 (Read) I know good writers who won't read while working on a manuscript because they don't want it to influence their own writing. But I am just the opposite. I try to read more.

I didn't read your post from yesterday yet, but I will.

Josephine Damian said...

For wry humor alone do you deserve the award, let alone the wealth of writing advice you provide. Congrats!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Excellent advice, Travis. =oD

Congrats on the new car. I'm so jealous. I'd like a new car, but I'm going to have to drive this one into the ground before that happens.

And congrats on the award. You really deserve it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great post. I like your explication of the "don't be afraid" statement. Very true.

Cicily Janus said...

Thanks for the award babe and I'll have you know that one of my goals is to increase my traffic on blogger...

Damnit, now I have to go post a blog. I was going to wait until the 15th of this month, but I see you have, once again, pushed me to do something a little earlier than I would have otherwise.

And fantastic tips too!

Alrighty, going on over to my house up on this site and will get to it.



Merry Jelinek said...

Great Tips, Travis... see, I knew you were a good pick.

Fear stops us from doing all sorts of things if we let it.. fear of disappointing, fear of people trying to figure out who in your fiction they are supposed to be... do people do this to you? I swear, my non writer friends all want to know which character is them... now I try to make sure there's at least one jerk in my work to make sure everyone gets a nice complex. (just kidding...maybe)

~SUV Mama~ said...

Congrats on the car, and great tips I will reference often!

AaroN said...

I hope 2x the MPG is nearly 40. Gas ain't goin' anywhere but up. :(

Thanks for the writing tips. I'm under occasional peer pressure from the GF to pursue a lucrative career in writing. ;)