Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”


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Grim Reaper Comes for DeadlinesI have a hard time reinforcing deadlines for myself, but when given them externally, I have great success.

It’s the difference between trying to gather the courage to hang yourself versus being put into a guillotine. The latter obviously has more immediate and drastic implications.

Of course, some people are very strong willed and self-disciplined. Self-proclaimed deadlines can mean just as much as a deadline given to oneself by work or class.

Yet, many others (myself included) have a hard time pulling in the reins on ourselves. I can be easily distracted or simply lethargic at times without a deadline. And so while I hate them, I also see them as great (and freaking scary) tools.

I am most productive, at least quantity wise, in a class setting primarily because of the deadlines imposed on the students. Having concrete consequences whips my ass into shape. The one downfall, of course, is the lack of time allotted to the pieces.

Many drafts are generated during the semester, but most (if not all) rarely get proper polish. Even now as I’m rushing to finish a final essay and put together two polished portfolios, I know the work is primarily in-progress and not reaching its potential.

What to do, then, if external deadlines are the ones that work the best and most frequently?

Make them. Tell friends, tell family, obnoxiously troll facebook pages, type in deadlines on a cell phone, lock technology away, and MAKE A DEADLINE. This is typically the method I use for NaNoWriMo. Sure, I have only really finished once, but I would get no where had I not created a deadline with real emotional and social consequences. With cyberspace, you can instantaneously receive support from others. Sometimes even negative reinforcement for when procrastination is at its worse.

Deadlines are, after all, a negative-positive thing. It can limit, but so too can it make many things possible. It may have the word ‘dead’ in it, but there isn’t anything to mourn over.

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In Pre-Dawn Revelations, I contemplated my own practices when I get into the groove of writing and tried to make it more general. Primarily I played with form, blurring the line between poetry and prose. Unfortunately, due to my limitations the form-play did not translate well. I think as a stand alone piece, though, it is still amusing.

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The modern man or contemporary woman has the attention span equivalent of a goldfish suffering from dementia. This isn’t an evolution of nature, but an evolution of technology.

The creation and popularization of film makes people expect to be shown plots in a concise, powerful, and timely matter where the end resolves the conflict adequately. Writing rarely has room for the previous Thoreau interludes and tangents, or the literary tapestries of vivid description and imagery.

Readers don’t want “his eyes are azure skies that stretch elastically over the globe” — they want “his eyes are blue.” This is not to mean creativity and artistry has completely evaporated from the attention span frying pan. It simply means writers and poets today have perhaps a more difficult job than in previous years — to condense imagery and description into short, simple, but powerfully sensual phrases or sentences.

An excess of adjectives or adverbs isn’t a commodity anymore in the economy of the written word.

I learned this the hard way after years of writing flowery descriptions and cascading paragraphs of imagery. To this day, I still search for the right balance of pace, length, diction, and image. Every writer embarks on that search, and as far as I can tell, no writer reaches a definitive destination.

I’m no poet, though poetry does give me some good exercises in word economy. It is said that, ironically, all writers wish to be poets, but all poets dream of being writers. The two are close cousins which share secrets, but are always distinct individuals from one another (except, maybe, in the case of the epic poem or the lyric essay).

With cinema, photography, Internet, and radio (or podcasts) grabbing for the attention of would-be readers, writers need to get to the point and punch it — hard. Otherwise, perfectly wonderful stories and essays will elude the seizure-inducing speed of people’s wandering eyes.

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I accept the fact that my first home will probably be a cardboard box.

Not to worry, though; it will be that high quality, corrugated cardboard that isn’t easily destroyed by the rain. It will be a big enough box to entertain one or two other homeless writers, or some successful college friends who’ve gone on to produce radio shows or build museums.

I think I enjoy the idea of having a mural wall inside the box. I should probably use Crayola chalk — it is the high-grade stuff. Sure, it’s a bit of a splurge, but every home needs a focal point. Maybe it should be a nature scene, or perhaps I could put up a quote by Oscar Wilde. There is so much you can do with a blank box side.Box Home

My Mother, I must say, doesn’t like my box discussions. I think it’s because she’s an idealist (aren’t all parents?) while I’m a realist. She has such lofty and unattainable wishes for me, like owning my own apartment or being able to buy food. I mean, honestly Mother, I’m a writer. It’s in the small print that I be poor and homeless. She can be quite silly sometimes. I must say, though, she has supported me 100% in my decision to pursue writing, which I appreciate 110%.

Luckily, I have many to-be-successful friends of which have been forewarned about my future as a wandering, writing, freeloading hobo. It will be a glorious existence of hopping house to house to house. And eventually, when I have my first novel published, I might be able to afford something off of Wendy’s extra value menu. Perhaps I could even upgrade to a better neighborhood with my box.

Look out, world. In four years, you’ll have a writing major taking on the world one friend’s house / town alleyway at a time.

— This post brought to you by Sarcasm —

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There are times for creativity, there are times for languages, there are times for translators, but then there is the moment of fail.

In fiction (and perhaps nonfiction as well, depending upon what it is exactly you’re writing about), there are times when characters may be very different from us, the author. In fact, if authors only wrote characters who were mirrors of themselves, we’d have much less interesting novels in the world. Characters may be of different races, ethnicities, cultures, or religions. And in such cases, a character’s first language may be your second language. Or a language you’ve only heard spoken in Indiana Jones movies.

Needless to say, this little road bump should not be triumphed by immediately pursuing fluency in Swedish or Swahili or gaelic or what have you. This is actually a distraction from the writing (and your subconscious procrastinating the completion of it)! I myself have had a suave man from Valencia in a flash fiction piece; while I am bilingual, I am not fluent. Luckily for me, I could finagle some pretty woman-killing lines from him.

However, I am not at all accustomed to or knowledgable in Russian. But I found myself writing about my protagonist’s father who once worked for the KGB. I didn’t have time for classes — I didn’t even have time for “Russian for Dummies”. I had a story to tell, but the dialogue in this section had to be in Russian. Not only for aesthetics, but for the feel and authenticity of the moment. The characters themselves would have had altered personalities had I not written a short but poignant dialogue in Russian (and English). Besides this, I needed exclamations and key vocabulary in Russian for the main character.

MyGoogle Translator Can Fail solution would seem simple to any personal familiar with the Internet: a translator. There are many out there, and one of the ones considered more reliable is Google Translator. Yet, caution is the moral of this tale. Languages are very specific and fickle beasts. An electronic translator is about 50% of the accuracy, power, and personality of any given physical translator. Let’s say I wanted to know what year was in Spanish. Well, that’s año. But if it comes back ano…well, prepare to be the laughing stalk of the hispanic and spanish community.

So what then? Should translators never be trusted?

No; they are a great resource. They should be utilized. BUT they are not the end all answer to your linguistic needs. I suggest using multiple translators for verification, but most of all, attempt to find someone who is familiar with the language. Even just purchasing a small phrase book in a language can severely improve your ability to implement a foreign language into the dialogue of your writing. It definitely helped me — especially when I didn’t have any ex-KGB members hanging around to interview or study with.

Do svidaniya!



*Ano in Spanish translates, in English, to anus

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I’m not sure conventions exist when it comes to writing.

The process is such a personal thing; it is as individualized as one’s health, psychology, or constellation of hobbies. My process wouldn’t resemble anyone elses. Although, if one group can be generalized into having some sort of conventional procedure, it would be the procrastinators. And I am a proud part of the procrastinator guild.

I have been, and always will be. Some of my best work is polished and pumped out only hours before deadlining. My muse violently strikes me with an idea at one in the morning, or really, refuses to strike me until then. I am undriven when deadlines are far away, but when I can start to see their sharp teeth and beady eyes, I start sweating pure, adrenaline-driven inspiration.

Long live the procrastinators!

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