THE PARAGRAPH


THE PARAGRAPH

By Natalie Bright

 

A recent eBook purchase proved to be very frustrating.

It wasn’t the writing, which was very descriptive, literary, and wonderful. It’s the formatting. It has no paragraphs. At least on the eBook version, words continue for screen after screen after screen, with no paragraph break. I’m not sure how that would translate to a printed page, but I can tell you as far as the Kindle version it’s just impossible to read. It feels like my brain and eyes are working extra hard.

Let’s turn to the experts.

Under Chapter II Elementary Principles of Composition, The Elements of Style (by Strunk and White), they describe the paragraph as thus: “The paragraph is a convenient unit; it serves all forms of literary work.”

Paragraph Review

  1. In dialogue, each change of the speaker (even if it’s a single word) begins with a new paragraph.
  2. Each change of topic needs a new paragraph.
  3. Begin the paragraph with a sentence that suggests the new topic, or helps with transition.
  4. The paragraph can begin with a concise statement with the purpose of presenting or holding together the details to follow.
  5. For narrative action, the paragraph gives the reader a stylistic pause, used to highlight importance of some detail of the action.
  6. Large blocks of print look formidable and daunting to a reader.

In summary, Strunk and White explains, “Moderation and a sense of order should be the main consideration in paragraphing.”

Enough said. Write on people.

REF: Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Fourth Edition, Longman 2000.

Let’s Talk


Let’s Talk
By Nandy Ekle

“Hi. My name is Main Character.” He raised his hand in a wave.

“Hi, Main Character. My name is Nemesis.” He nodded toward Main Character.

Main Character smiled. “It’s good to meet you.”

“Thank you. It’s good to meet you too.”

Main Character looked past Nemesis’ shoulder and Nemesis looked down at the floor. The clock ticked an awkward moment.

Main Character jerked his face back to Nemesis’ face as a flash of thought passed through his mind. “We’re supposed to inspire writers to write a believable dialogue.”

A light snapped on in Nemesis’ eyes. “Oh. Do you mean, like, actually sounding like two people having a conversation instead of sounding like two sides of the same person?”

“Yes. That’s right.” Main Character smiled while his head moved up and down.

“I see.  How do you think a good writer does that?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Main Character said, “Well, I think they have to just almost actually hear two different people speaking and write what they say exactly the way it’s said.”

Nemesis’ eyes darken slightly. “Ya’ know, Mainy, I do b’lieve you jes’ hit da nail rat own its big ol’ head.”

“Yes. And that means the writer needs to know his characters very well.” He took a coupe of steps backward.

“Yore galdern rat ‘bout dat dar rule.” Nemesis took a couple of steps forward toward Main Character.

Main Character turned his head and looked over his shoulder for the door behind him, then he looked back at Nemesis. His brow was lined with worry. “So, do you have any advice to add to that?”

Nemesis stopped moving and lookd up into space as if an idea would appear like a light bulb. “Well . . . yeah. They prolly need to make shore dem readers know who’s tawkin’ when. ‘Cause, like us? We ain’t just standing still flappin’ our gums. We’re acchully doing’ sumpin’”

“That’s right,” Main Character said.

Nemesis grinned a dark toothy grin. Yeah.” He turned to look at the person reading their dialogue. “Got that, reader? Now.” He paused and leaned forward until his nose nearly touched the reader’s nose. The dark light came back to his eyes. “Go do it!”

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?


Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

by Adam Huddleston

 

I would venture to guess that every famous author of fiction has at one point or another been asked the standard question: “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a query often brought forth from novice writers looking for any bit of advice they can get.

As is typical with authors, the answers are quite varied. Some look back to life experiences for their inspiration. Others might take a previously published work and add their own personal twist on it.

One of the major impetuses for my writing is the dialogue I hear in everyday life. For example: One of my kids once asked if they could play on my phone. My wife responded that they couldn’t because, “Dad’s battery is dead.” That’s when the muse slapped me upside the head. What if, in the future, the male gender was extinct and all men were androids? And what might happen if one of these android’s batteries were running down, causing his spouse to need to reorder another husband, and this caused the artificially intelligent being to feel first sadness, then anger?

Yep.

That’s the kind of stuff that goes through my mind.

My advice for a struggling writer would be to search for ideas everywhere. Internet queries, favorite songs, even that awkward first kiss from a junior high classmate are fair game. If you look hard enough, eventually that muse will start swinging.

Just don’t duck.

Happy writing!

Garage Sale


Outtakes 196

Garage Sale

By Cait Collins

 

Spring is here and with it comes garage sale season. Last Saturday, the residential areas of Amarillo, Texas sported garage sale and estate sales. Some streets were a bit congested as cars lined both sides of the streets. That’s the negative aspect of the season. Truth is these events can be a great place to find bargains and inspiration.

Never pass up glassware and pottery displays. Many sellers do not realize they have valuable pieces of Depression glass or antique pottery. Certain brands and styles bring back memories. I’m editing a novel set in a small Texas town. The house described in the story hadn’t changed much since Grady and Lucille Walker moved in. So when I began describing Miss Lucille’s kitchen, I filled it with garage sale finds; like green Sandwich glass, Fiestaware, Franciscan china, McCoy cookie jars, and Fire King bowls and kitchen utensils.

Farm house tables and chairs, massive gas or wood burning stoves, Frigidaire refrigerators, pie cabinets, TV lamps, crystal candy dishes, porcelain elves, tri-fold mirrored vanities, and crocheted doilies helped me establish the old home.

I also look at jewelry. I’m floored at the value of vintage jewelry, but good pieces do sell. So you’re writing about a lady from the 1940’s and 50’s. How would you dress her? Would she wear a broach on her jacket? What colors would she wear? What about hats, gloves, and lace handkerchiefs? Check out an estate sale. You will find some gems.

Look at the book shelves. If you are building a personal library, you could find some great out-of print volumes. Make sure the pages are not water stained. You don’t want to carry home mold or mildew. What was your favorite Little Golden Book? I looked for quite a while before I found a couple of my favorites. These little books were great readers and often used when my Dad would gather my sisters and I in the big arm chair for our bedtime story.

Items of interest to men could be old fishing gear, sporting equipment, woodworking equipment, or tools. Back in the day, men wore business attire, ties, dress shirts, and suits. So, you just might find the perfect suit for your hero or your villain.

Not all research requires hours spent in dusty stacks. While that is important, a morning or an afternoon exploring yard sales provides great exercise and a chance to look through older household goods, apparel, or accessories. The time spent examining an old bamboo fishing pole, or an old great coat may provide the spark the cements a character or a period of time. It’s well worth the effort

General Tips on Using Social Media


General Tips on Using Social Media

By Rory C. Keel

  

Now that you have jumped into the deep end of the pool of social media, here are a few tips to keep you afloat.

Double–check content, editing errors

Before hitting the enter button, check your writing for content and editing errors. Bad grammar and incorrect content will cause the reader to lose interest in what you post.

Be consistent

Keep your online presence active for your readers. By posting regularly, you develop your brand and credibility in your writing.

Reply

When you begin to build a platform on your social media, participate with them by replying to questions, offer helpful content, “LIKE”, “Share”, “follow”, “Plus” others to build your fan base.

Keep tone positive, uplifting

Nobody likes a grouch. Readers will become weary if every post is a gripe or complaint. While you may be frustrated, agitated, or you’re just plain mad, keep your writing positive.

Politics, social issues & religion

Talk about hot topics. Nothing creates a fire more than politics, religion or a social issue. If the focus of your work is in one of these occupations it’s a given that your focus will necessitate writing about them. However, you need to understand that by getting involved in a debate online you could limit your followers. You have the right to post on any topic, but others have right to block your writing.

Roryckeel.com

SENSORY WORD: RED


SENSORY WORD: RED

By Natalie Bright

 

We think of our eyes as video cameras and our brains as blank tapes to be filled with sensory inputs.

Michael Shermer

I love this quote! Think of your readers as blank tapes. It’s your job as a writer to convey that image in as vivid a picture as possible. You create a world on a page with words that comes alive in the readers’ brain.

Let’s consider the color red. Think about digging even deeper. Instead of red, how about:

Pink, salmon, coral, raspberry, strawberry, tomato, currant, cherry, crimson, vermillion, flame, ruby garnet, wine

Each one of those shades of red creates a totally different mental image.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six!

Nataliebright.com

 

 

 

The Gift Of An Author


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

The Gift Of An Author

By Nandy Ekle

 

Imagine walking down a hallway of closed doors. Each door has a plaque above it with the title of a story, and a few doors have plaques with no words on them as if waiting for a name. You hear voices behind every one and knocking comes from the other side of two or three at the same time. You’re standing in front of a door listening to loud, insistent pounding and a voice calling your name over and over. You reach out to turn the knob and realize it’s locked and you don’t have a key.

Where is the key? That door was just opened a few days ago and you visited with the voices behind it like gossiping neighbors. Why is it locked so tightly now?

This is how I imagine writer’s block. It’s frustrating and scary and can even be debilitating. It’s like losing eyesight or a hand. And I’ve been there lately.

These are the times I turn to my good friends Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and a myriad of other flourishing writers. I open a successful book written by one of these masters and beg them to instruct me once again about writing again. I get lost in their stories and feel them tug at the door with me.

Then the miracle happens. As I turn the page, enrapt in the worlds they created, I find the key to the door. I slip it into the keyhole and feel the lock turn, allowing the door to open. My characters run out and embrace me as my hands fly across the keyboard of my computer once more.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

My Favorite Books for Writers


My Favorite Books for Writers

by Adam Huddleston

 

I thought this week I’d share a few books that I felt were very helpful for new writers.

The first is “Writing Fiction for Dummies” by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. At first glance the title may appear to be condescending or lead the observer to believe that there is little useful information between its covers. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The authors touch upon a wide range of topics in fiction writing. Everything from plot creation and character development to querying an agent and understanding royalties are covered. And what’s better, they are explained in a very easy-to-understand manner. This is the first title I read when I began my journey as a writer and I still return to it from time to time.

Another great reference, which I’ve referred to in the past, is “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card. Who better to give advice on writing fiction that a world famous author? He covers world-building, story creation, and the business side of writing.

For another famous author’s views on writing, read “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. This personal work focuses more on his life and how he became a writer than actual advice on the subject, but it is still an interesting read nonetheless.

Finally, no writer’s bookshelf would be complete without William Strunk and E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style.” The subject matter may get a bit technical at times, and it exists as more of a reference than a title you would read straight through from beginning to end, but it is a classic. It contains helpful information on proper grammar and punctuation usage, as well as a list of commonly misused words and expressions and several “reminders” when writing.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore (yes there are still books with paper pages out there), and pick-up a copy of these marvelous works. You’ll thank me later.

Happy writing!

Garage Sale


Outtakes 196

Garage Sale

By Cait Collins

 

Spring is here and with it comes garage sale season. Last Saturday, the residential areas of Amarillo, Texas sported garage sale and estate sales. Some streets were a bit congested as cars lined both sides of the streets. That’s the negative aspect of the season. Truth is these events can be a great place to find bargains and inspiration.

Never pass up glassware and pottery displays. Many sellers do not realize they have valuable pieces of Depression glass or antique pottery. Certain brands and styles bring back memories. I’m editing a novel set in a small Texas town. The house described in the story hadn’t changed much since Grady and Lucille Walker moved in. So when I began describing Miss Lucille’s kitchen, I filled it with garage sale finds; like green Sandwich glass, Fiestaware, Franciscan china, McCoy cookie jars, and Fire King bowls and kitchen utensils.

Farm house tables and chairs, massive gas or wood burning stoves, Frigidaire refrigerators, pie cabinets, TV lamps, crystal candy dishes, porcelain elves, tri-fold mirrored vanities, and crocheted doilies helped me establish the old home.

I also look at jewelry. I’m floored at the value of vintage jewelry, but good pieces do sell. So you’re writing about a lady from the 1940’s and 50’s. How would you dress her? Would she wear a broach on her jacket? What colors would she wear? What about hats, gloves, and lace handkerchiefs? Check out an estate sale. You will find some gems.

Look at the book shelves. If you are building a personal library, you could find some great out-of print volumes. Make sure the pages are not water stained. You don’t want to carry home mold or mildew. What was your favorite Little Golden Book? I looked for quite a while before I found a couple of my favorites. These little books were great readers and often used when my Dad would gather my sisters and I in the big arm chair for our bedtime story.

Items of interest to men could be old fishing gear, sporting equipment, woodworking equipment, or tools. Back in the day, men wore business attire, ties, dress shirts, and suits. So, you just might find the perfect suit for your hero or your villain.

Not all research requires hours spent in dusty stacks. While that is important, a morning or an afternoon exploring yard sales provides great exercise and a chance to look through older household goods, apparel, or accessories. The time spent examining an old bamboo fishing pole, or an old great coat may provide the spark the cements a character or a period of time. It’s well worth the effort

General Tips on Using Social Media


General Tips on Using Social Media

By Rory C. Keel

  

Now that you have jumped into the deep end of the pool of social media, here are a few tips to keep you afloat.

Double–check content, editing errors

Before hitting the enter button, check your writing for content and editing errors. Bad grammar and incorrect content will cause the reader to lose interest in what you post.

Be consistent

Keep your online presence active for your readers. By posting regularly, you develop your brand and credibility in your writing.

Reply

When you begin to build a platform on your social media, participate with them by replying to questions, offer helpful content, “LIKE”, “Share”, “follow”, “Plus” others to build your fan base.

Keep tone positive, uplifting

Nobody likes a grouch. Readers will become weary if every post is a gripe or complaint. While you may be frustrated, agitated, or you’re just plain mad, keep your writing positive.

Politics, social issues & religion

Talk about hot topics. Nothing creates a fire more than politics, religion or a social issue. If the focus of your work is in one of these occupations it’s a given that your focus will necessitate writing about them. However, you need to understand that by getting involved in a debate online you could limit your followers. You have the right to post on any topic, but others have right to block your writing.

Roryckeel.com