People are often surprised when they find out how much I read.
I read to escape, to leave my life and live through others. To wield a sword and love a vampire. I visit far off lands and experience things I would never have the means to in real life. I read as therapy.
Recently, I came across an article by Lucy Horner on Bibliotherapy and how books have the power to heal the mind in ways most non-readers do not understand. I've pulled a few of her tips that I have used in the past, but make sure to check out her full article from Huffington Post and stop by her website.
Commit to memory one or two lines from poetry.
Poems learned by heart can stay with you long after other things have gone, and, in the words of a wise university lecturer of mine, they will even keep you strong if you have to spend time in prison.
Reread a novel that made you smile the first time round.
Rereading a favorite book "reignites" the positive feelings we felt on our first reading and results in a "renewed appreciation" of the experience, research suggests.
Choose a feel-good book to help lift your mood.
If you've been feeling a bit low recently, or if you'd like a quick pick-me-up from fiction, spend some time with a book solely for the purpose of feeling good about yourself.
What do you read (for pleasure or therapy), has it helped you over come difficult life situations?
Share your favorite picks in the comments below and your reasoning for picking it.
Who knows, maybe your pick will help another person overcome something they are working through.
As I've been working (slowly) through the first round of content edits in Keeper's I have been toying with the idea of whether or not I should change the point-of-view that the story is told in. I really like the idea of using second person in a few places and I may look into creating a few temp passages to see what I think of them.
Example: You’re late. Heart pounding, you race up the stairs as the train enters the station. You weave around the slow-moving people milling on the platform and dash towards the train, throwing your body through the doorway with only a moment to spare.
2. Second person gets personal.
One way to experiment with second person is to write as if the story is a letter from the narrator to “you,” reflecting on past events and current feelings, asking questions. This technique isn't necessarily “pure” second person, as it pairs “you” with the narrator’s first-person point of view, but it allows you to dip a toe in the second-person perspective. At the same time, it gives readers a peek into a relationship, a memory, and a character’s emotions.
Example: You told me to meet you at the bar. Things hadn't been going well, but I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was wrong. Did you plan on breaking my heart that night? We locked eyes as I walked through the entrance, and I knew things were coming to an end.
3. Second person stretches your skills and surprises readers.
Because it’s not often used, the second person point of view feels fresh to readers. And for writers, it means a new way of telling a story, a different way of revealing character. In this way, it offers a new perspective for writers and readers alike.
Have you written anything in the second person point-of-view before?
What about changing up your story's POV after its been written?
Leave your thoughts and preferences on point-of-view in the comments and let's get this conversation going!
In the spirit of never giving up and reaching that finish line at the end of the long road that is publishing a book, here's an article that can help to illustrate one view on writing and its pitfalls.
THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF WRITING
Intellectual laziness is something all writers are prone to: as in writing the same type of book, and doing it annually. Like great art, books aren’t ever finished—they’re abandoned. (In other words, don’t just finish writing a first draft and call it a day.)
2. Trying to be a good student
It’s a thrill to rope a lot of cool forensic facts in the research process. But the danger is in going home and regurgitating all of them in your novel—“When really thrillers are all about entertaining. …” Keep that story moving forward.
This occurs when you sit down to write and follow your outline exactly. Some people use an outline like a frame, and merely embroider within it. Outlining is fine, but sticking too closely to it can stifle your story. “If you do outline, you have to be aware of the problems that that kind of thing can cause."
4. Denying jealousy
“I try to not allow myself to be jealous of other writers and the books they’ve written,” Rose said—but in fact, she believes it’s a good thing to let some of that jealousy seep through. So don’t bottle it up. “I think it’s really healthy to let yourself have the full range of emotions.”
5. Focusing too heavily on the business
One of Sandford’s friends obsesses over the business end of writing—his friend writes a book, and then gets lost in all of the trappings of business and promotion … “to the exclusion of actually writing novels.”
6. Not reading books
Reading is essential for writers. A study that said that 23 percent of people in the United States want to be writers. If all of them read 10 books a year, “We’d all be doing a lot better.”
There is a difference between imitating a book, and being influenced by a book. It’s valuable to figure out why you think certain things work in the books you read, and why others don’t.
What would your sin be from the list above (or create your own)?
Leave your answer in the comments below and if you're not a writer leave the topic you're sinning on as well.
Commenting on a blog is something that your readers do voluntarily. They choose to do it because they want to. And what prompts their volition? Really outstanding content. It can be outstandingly good. It can be outstandingly bad. It can be outstandingly controversial. It just needs to be outstanding.
"One of the biggest worries bloggers have is the silent blog syndrome. "
- Do you have a bad comment system?
- Do you have a poor site design? If someone doesn't like your site design, sorry, but they’re not going to leave a comment.
- Do you blog as a corporate entity?
- Do you say anything original? “Being original” is really hard. You might whine and think that originality is impossible.
- Do you have a boring writing style? Great content gets shared and commented on. Boring content gets ignored.
- Do you ignore interaction? When you write a blog post, you’re starting a conversation. And, if you start a conversation, you should do the polite thing and continue that conversation.
- Do you ask for comments? There’s no shame in asking for comments.
- Do you provide something of value in your writing? When people read your content, they’re basically giving you their money.
- Do you write anything really compelling?
- Do you ever get controversial? Sometimes, you just need to say what you think and let the chips fall where they may.
What do you think of the article? Some of it doesn't pertain to me (business blog/bad comment system) just due to the nature of my blog and Weebly's main design, but I thought he had some good points.
Share what you think in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you.
"Your online book reviews can make a real difference."
- The point of a book review is to make a recommendation. Your verdict doesn't have to be an absolute yes or an absolute no. Offering a nuanced opinion of a book often makes a more interesting review.
- Don't go on too long. Online book reviews should be brief and concise.
- Provide just enough summary so that your points are clear to your readers.
- Don't trash the book because it wasn't what you expected.
- Don't spoil it. If you're reviewing a work of fiction, don't give away key plot points or the ending of the story.
- Don't be nasty. If you didn't enjoy the book, don't be insulting or snide. Let your reader know calmly and unemotionally why you were disappointed.
- Don't give the book a bad review if you're really mad about something else. If you bought the book online and experienced bad customer service, don't take it out on the poor author with a one-star review and a rant about shipping delays.
Underlying theme of this article:
Not everyone can be a fabulous author, but they can get better.
Did it engage them? Did it move them? Did it change them?
I don’t believe that just anyone can become a good writer.
Who wants to be good at something that anyone can master?
And while I don’t believe anyone can become a good writer, I do passionately believe everyone can become a better writer.
"Before you get good, you need to get better."
- Empathy – the ability to put yourself in the mind of your reader or your characters. It helps the novelist create believable characters who are nothing like their creator.
- Imagination – Imagination helps the fantasy writer create unfamiliar yet believable worlds.
- Passion – Passion is the creative energy that carries you through times of uncertainty and rejection.
"And you recognize that there will always be more to learn."
- Study – you learn the principles of good writing and the conventions of your chosen form. You seek to understand other elements of good writing, such as tone, pace and structure.
- Practice – you write and rewrite until your work is as good as your current skills allow. You create a writing habit and commit to a daily target.
- Feedback – you seek comments and criticism from other writers, friends, teachers, perhaps a mentor. And when the feedback suggests that your writing falls short, you return to study and to practice.
"Surprisingly, the habits that give you the best chance of becoming a good writer have little to do with writing."
- Live fully outside your writing. Life experiences are the fuel for authentic and powerful writing.
- Cultivate eclectic tastes. Read widely beyond the confines of your subject or genre.
- Indulge your passions. True passion is a rare commodity and should be embraced wherever it arises.
Linked below is one of the articles, this one comes from the NaNoWriMo blog.
What's the underlying theme of this article?
Never stop writing.
"A new story awaits to be told. Remember, a great writer never stops writing."
"Readers will know when a book hasn't been properly edited, and that can haunt you as an author for a very long time."
This morning (thanks Huffington Post twitter), I found a great article that talks about one writer's journey through table top games and how they have in turn influenced his writing. I've clipped a few of my favorite sections out below, but I recommend reading the full article.
" I am also a gamer, and have been since I was eight years old. "
My players and I have experienced tests of our ideals within my games that have served to shape us ever since. Perhaps the events did not really happen, but the ideas and emotions did. Please don't think of us stuck forever in our fantasies--my players are some of the most interesting and accomplished people I know. They are archaeologists and physicists, programmers and lawyers, but they share a secret past.
"Games, like books, involve conflicts, and conflicts are sometimes physical. "
So in the spirit of editing here's a (snipet of a) clever article I found today via twitter about character descriptions and what everything you say... or don't say, can mean for your character. Make sure to check out the author's original site for the full article!
Rock your Writing
By: L.Z. Marie
- Height: Does the character stand head and shoulders above the rest because they’re morally/socially/emotionally superior?
- Build: In Duong Thu Huong’ Paradise for the Blind, the protagonist is a sickly, frail young woman, which suits her personality and emotional state.
- Hair color: Can you imagine Scarlet O’Hara with blonde hair? I think not! How many male heroes do you know with red hair? Mmmm….
- Hair texture: Janie, in Their Eyes Were Watching God, possesses the silky textured hair of white folk—making her more white in this novel about racism and self-fulfillment.
- Eye color: The darker the iris the more mysterious or sinister the character appears. If eyes are the window to the soul, the black-eyed character is mysterious indeed. See Eye Symbolism for more in-depth information.
- Skin color: In Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things, the love interest is described with chocolate-hued skin which is ever so important to the plot and theme of the tragic novel about the Indian caste system. In the novels by Preston & Child, the FBI Pendergast is described with alabaster skin and wearing the somber dark clothes of an undertaker. Creepy, somber, unknowable, and a bit mystically weird—just like the character.
- Scars: A symbolic smack in the face! The location, size, and shape of a scar can add depth to a character, and usually represents an emotional trauma. A scar across the chest (heart) means something different than a scar on the face. Does the character keep the scar concealed or do they flaunt it? And why? Is the scar’s size in direct proportion to their inner emotional scars. Are you thinking about Harry Potter’s lightening bolt scar on his forehead? Yes? Good!
- Does an upturned nose suggest the character is stuck up or arrogant?
- Do small eyes reveal the character is narrow-minded or prejudiced?
- Does a broad forehead indicate the character is exceptionally intelligent?
- Do narrow hips foreshadow trouble giving birth?
- Do overly large hands reveal the character’s helpfulness or are they always looking for a hand out?
Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about.
HONE YOUR CRAFT
There are two things more difficult than writing. The first is editing, the second is expert level Sudoku where there’s literally two goddamned squares filled in. While editing is a grueling process, if you really work hard at it, in the end you may find that your piece has fewer words than it did before, which is great. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw said it best when upon sending a letter to a close friend, he wrote, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” No quote better illustrates the point that writers are very busy.
READ, READ, READ
It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce “espresso” like “expresso.”
KEEP IT TOGETHER
A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.