All posts filed under: Advice

Quote/Advice | Ed Brubaker on Health & Work/Life Balance

Celebrated and award-winning comics/graphic novels author Ed Brubaker (CRIMINAL, VELVET, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE WINTER SOLDIER), one of my faves, shared some sage writerly advice and wisdom today in his latest newsletter From the Desk of Ed Brubaker, of which I must make note. On health: “If you are a writer, if sitting and thinking followed by sitting and typing is what you want to do for a living, I can’t urge you more strongly to get regular cardio and get up from your desk a lot and stretch. I can’t stress enough how easy it is to fall into bad habits in this profession that can cause you major health issues. In my career I’ve had to deal with repetitive strain injuries, tendonitis, chronic TMJ pain (from clenching my jaw when I get lost in writing) and lower back problems. And recently, while trying to get back into good cardio shape, I injured my ankle – the cause, having my foot bent weird while I typed.” Actually, that’s good advice for anyone who works at a desk for …

Reblog: Kristen Lamb – Is Perfectionism Killing Your Success?

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:
Last time I wrote about stress and how it can kill creativity. Many “normal” people (code for “non writers”) see our job as play, as fun. They really don’t grasp what goes into creating the stories they all enjoy and that it is a lot of work. Also, because our field is so subjective, writers must endure an onslaught of “enemies” no one else can see because often they are in our head. Sometimes, in our effort to produce the best work we can, we invite in a very dangerous enemy. Meet….Perfect. All of us want to do a good job. We want to put our best foot forward. We all say that we want feedback and critique, but deep down, if we are real honest, we want people to love everything we say and do. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality. We can’t please everyone, and it is easy to fall into a people-pleasing trap that will steal our passion, our art, and our very identity. I’ve seen…

Six Ways To Self-Edit & Polish Your Prose

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:
Whether you are new to writing or an old pro, brushing up on the basics is always helpful. Because no matter how GOOD the story is? If the reader is busy stumbling over this stuff, it ruins the fictive dream and she will never GET to the story. So today we are going to cover six ways to self-edit your fiction. Though this stuff might seem like a no-brainer, I see these blunders ALL the time. ….unfortunately even in (legacy) published books. When I worked as an editor, I found it frustrating when I couldn’t even GET to the story because I was too distracted by these all too common oopses. There are many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing oopses you could’ve easily repaired yourself? You’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the MEAT of your novel. This means you will spend less money and get far higher value. #1 The Brutal Truth about Adverbs,…

Quote: Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

#6 Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

“You are such a jerk,” she laughed.

A character can’t “laugh” something. They can’t “snip” “spit” “snarl” “grouse” words. They can SAY and ever so often they can ASK. Said becomes white noise. Readers don’t “see” it. It keeps them in the story and cooking along. If we want to add things like laughing, griping, complaining, then fine. It just shouldn’t be the tag.

“You are such a jerk.” She laughed as she flicked brownie batter onto Fabio’s white shirt.

There you go, SIX easy tips for self-editing. We all make these mistakes and that’s why God invented revision (that and to punish the unfaithful). If you can get rid of these common offenders on your own, then good editors can focus on the deeper aspects of your fiction.

One Editor’s Opinion #2: Edit As You Write

Something else that comes to mind as I’m editing ( I mean truly editing) a portion of the the last story I accepted for my Local Heroes anthology, is that some writers do not write with the reader in mind at all. They just write the story however it comes out of them with little regard for how that might read to the outside reader. That’s what I consider casual writing, writing that the writer has done merely for himself. It’s not what I call “performance writing” where a writer is writing with a would-be audience in mind. Again, that points to what I’ve said earlier about being a deliberate storyteller. If you’re writing merely to amuse yourself, then why submit to an editor in an attempt to get published? The story I’m editing at the moment is marred by the writer’s disregard for the reader. Many sentences meander and put-off the reader with a plethora of extraneous words and details that get in the way of what the reader is truly after. When there’s …

One Writer’s Opinion #1: Storytelling vs Writing or Planning vs Winging It

The following opinion piece was written yesterday in one of the private offices (writer’s forum) at the Zoetrope Virtual Studio. Being someone who is constantly evaluating things, I find myself compelled to respond to other people’s ideas when they get me thinking. Yesterday it was fellow writer Bonnie ZoeBell’s article over at Flash Fiction Chronicles in which she wrote: “…you don’t have to know where you’re going when you begin a story. There simply has to be something, however small, that makes you feel like writing—an image, an overheard piece of dialogue, a situation.” I agree with this, but to a point. I think if you’re writing just to be ‘writing’ and just to be a ‘writer’ (because, hey writers write, right?), then this is spot-on. That’s the passive approach (for lack of a far better term). However, if you’re writing as a deliberate ‘storyteller’ first, then I think a lot more thought and ‘knowing’ needs to go into the process (active, or proactive; again for lack of better terms). Deliberate storytellers are loathe to …

One Editor’s Opinion #1

All too often beginning and inexperienced writers want to dictate every minutiae of what you are reading and are suppose to be comprehending. In other words they leave little room for interpretation, and they don’t allow you, the reader, to engage your sense of imagination and interact with the story they’re reading. I think this weakens the writing and the overall story and is insulting to one’s intelligence. Personally I feel that style of writing completely takes me out of the story, and the story fails because the writer won’t get out of the way of the story. A few pet peeves that get this editor’s goat? – Overuse of adjectives, adverbs, gerunds and passive voice – A lack of strong verbs (he adivsed) in favor of weak gerunds (he was advising) – Over-reliance on complex sentences (why are so many newbie writers so afraid to use a period?) – Overuse of patois. It’s a French word that means a regional form of a language that differs from the standard, literary form of the language. In other …

The Rucker Report: Applying Advice @ Flash Fiction Chronicles

There’s an article on fiction writing written by yours truly over at Flash Ficton Chronicles, run by fellow writer/editor Gay Degani. This may be the first in a series of these, perhaps (if I find I have more to share). Anyways, the first installment of The Rucker Report was posted today. An excerpt: “Being an artist of any kind relies on devotion, discipline, and a certain natural sense of progression. You start out as a wet-nosed neophyte and hopefully through persistence and hard work you learn, improve and progress toward some kind of proficiency. This is especially true in the art of writing.  At some point in our straightforward trajectory we become even more serious about craft and certain mechanics of writing in general, fiction specifically. I believe the ‘organics’ of writing are usually already sound by your fifth year of writing because that is an innate thing, that intuitive sense of storytelling is just something you’re either born with or you’re born without.” Read the entire article here.