Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Announcing: "Write On, Right On" Challenge!

So.

This has been a long time in coming, and has been my best kept secret for a while now. But I have deemed now is the time to announce our very First Bi-Annual Writing Challenge!


This is a fairly simple challenge, designed to get your creative juices flowing and to have fun. Also, peer editing is available to those who wish it.  Instructions, rules, and entry instructions and regulations for Round One are below.

Instructions:
Three Rounds. You, your creativity, a prompt and your mad-writing-skills are all that's needed round one. Three prompts will be given; you must choose one. You have to come up with a way to write something that is gripping, something interesting and enjoyable. You have to write something worth reading, just out of that one chosen prompt. Oh, and did I mention that it has to be under three hundred words?

You do not have to have a full story; just a single scene will do. It can be a scene from anywhere in the course of the story that you (hopefully) have imagined around this prompt, so long as one can tell what prompt you have chosen. The object is to write something in each round that is beautiful by itself, but that can be added upon later. A twist will be thrown at you in round two, with a Grand Twist in round three. There are between 3 and 6 eliminations in rounds one and two, judged by yours truly, and on round three, the winner will be determined by popular consensus through the comments section. Let your artistic abilities shine!

Rules:
-Only one entry per person, per round.
-Maximum Word Count is 299.
-Entries must be submitted (see below) to be considered.
-Challenge has a fifteen entry max, so hurry and submit your entry! First round entries chosen on a   first come, first serve basis.
-You must use the prompt chosen in each round, though how that is done is based on your decision.   Failure to use prompt ensures disqualification.
-Plagiarizing is still illegal. Don't do it.
-Try, try, try! If you don't make it to the top three this time, never fear! Take this a  learning   experience, practice, get better and come back to in July!
-Entry deadline is Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
-Must be 13 years old or over to participate. Young writers, keep writing! Your turn will come!

   Note: I will keep everyone updated on the status of entries here, on Writerly.

How To Enter:
-Choose your prompt
-Write your story/scene
-Send it directly to me via email (contact information below)
-Add in the email, along with your literary concoction, your first name (no last names, please!) or pen   name, which prompt you chose, and whether you would or would not like your entry posted on this   blog. (Note: your work must be posted on the blog in order to get peer editing. Final Rounds entries   will be posted.)

Round One Prompts:
Write a scene that includes...
1. A tombstone, twins and a trail.
2. A lake house, a girl, and a deadline in 2 hours and 32 minutes.
3. A key, a boy, and melting snow.

Contact Information:
Email me at zara.lavoris@gmail.com , using the subject line "Write On Entry"

I hope to hear from you soon!

As always, Happy Writing!


An Apology and an Update--

First and foremost, let me apologize for not being half so faithful to you, my readers, as you have been to me.



 I will strive from here on out to be a better blogger, writer, encourager and friend. Who's with me?

That aside, let me bring you in on an update of my revising.

To the point, not much has been happening with my NaNo novel. Why, you faithfully-perfect NaNo Revisers ask? Because it's hard. Yes, sadly those rose-colored glasses have been worn away, and now I am stuck wishing for a cheese grater over my forehead if it means this will just stop.

Yes, I am in a rut. Yes, that rut happens to be of my own making. Yes, I am unhappy about it. But I looked into the archives of this blog, and I found several inspiring pieces. (Is it sad that I am inspiring myself through this? Maybe. Probably. Yes.) I thought I would share that with you.

"Suck it up and do it anyway.
Don't feel like writing? Suck it up and do it anyway. Don't have any awesome inspiration? Suck it up and do it anyway. Have so many other things to do before you write? Suck it up and do it anyway. Have any other excuses that are really lame and irrelevant? Suck it up and do it anyway. If you give in to every one of these excuses, then sure, your car and house will be clean, you might have taken the dog for more walks than he's had in years, you might have actually turned in all of your papers on time for the first time ever, but what about your novel? The one you made so many promises to and about, the one you couldn't wait to write in week one? It will sit, get dusty, and you will lose NaNoWriMo. But how do you win? You don't give up, you write on, and you suck it up and do it anyway." (From Writing Tips-- Writing Through "The Slump" That is Week Two-- ) 

So, what will I do? You got it! I will Suck it Up and Do It Anyway.

Okay, I am now sufficiently motivated; time to revise!

So, my advice to you is, don't give in to the pressures of melancholy writing and revising; if you go in to a revising session thinking it will be miserable, it will be. But if you go in thinking something positive and fresh (Like, I'm getting closer to having a really good book!), then, chances are, you will have a better time of it. 

And remember: Don't Give Up! 

As always, Happy Writing and Revising! 


Monday, January 11, 2016

December Book Haul--

I know this is late, but I had so many books to add, and so little time. Forgive me, I pray you. And enjoy this list. Maybe some of these books will end up on your lists one day.

1. The Elements of Style, by E.B. White & William Strunk, Jr.



I have already quoted this book to you, and if that is not enough for you to realize how good of a book this is, I don't know what will. It is brief and concise and, at 85 pages, is one of the most helpful and practical books on writing well and the art of making good sentences that I have ever read. And I have read a lot. Six out of five stars.

2. The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler



This book is crucial for structuring a good story. Aimed at screenwriters, it is one of the most clear and understandable books for story structure. Vogler tells what is good and what is cliché, and he is determined to make you a better writer and storyteller by making you think about what makes a good story-- the characters. It's a must-read for writers of all kinds. Five out of five stars.

3. The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner



Split into two contrasting parts, this book is half philosophical musings of an intelligent writer and half handbook for the rest of us. Gardener writes about what it is that makes good writing, and why you are having trouble. He also muses about the craft, the art, as it were, that creative writing is. After all, it is art, and there can be handbooks meant to show you proper technique, but the rest of it is up to you. He won't hold your hand with paintbrush in it; he'll guide you so you know which colors go where, and how.  Five-and-a-half out of five stars

4. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

This book, I have not yet finished. So far, though, it has been mostly autobiography. It is very entertaining, and I would recommend this one to King-fans and writers alike. Praised for his candor, King does not romanticize the act of writing; he tells it like it is. So if you have any delusions of writing being just so much fun! then this book is for you. I'll let the King set you straight. But he does not discourage the amateur author; rather, he encourages them, telling them to stick it out. It's worth it in the end. Definitely worth a read. Four-and-three-quarters out of five stars.

5. Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale



Now we have changed directions of all of these books. This one is one of my all-time favorites, but I have already written about it. To find out more of this book, click here.

6. The Elite, by Kiera Cass



This book is the second book of the Selection Trilogy. (Yes, I said trilogy. The Heir is a spin-off series, not from th original. I refuse to say it is part of the same series. Throw stuff at me all day, but I will stand firm on this one.) I read these books really fast the first time, and loved them. I know some of you are shaking your heads and saying that I just have poor taste, but come on; you have to at least give them a try. After all, don't judge a book by it's haters. This is a great story. To find out more, click here. Or, for info on Book One, The Selection, click here. Four-and-three-quarters out of Five stars.

7. The One, by Kiera Cass



The last book of the Selection Trilogy. This is the epic conclusion to the whole thing, and I. Love. It. Yes, I freely admit that. I really do love it. Find out more about it here. Five out of Five stars.

That's a wrap.

How's She Doing?

So, I have neglected to tell you anything (other than how hard it is to print things and how good it feels to hold your manuscript) about how my writing/revising is going. I was going to in the last post, but it got to be too long, so here we are. Let me enlighten you in the goings on of my novel.

As you know, I got my book printed, and have been working with a real-paper-and-ink copy these last few days. Mind you, I have only had it since Friday (the 8th), but I have been hard at it since then. If you read my post on The Revision Process, you will note that I am at about steps three to five simultaneously. I am working on a hard copy, and I have marked up all sorts of things with my trusty red pen. My book looks like this now:



I have mostly been fixing the flow of my sentences, and misspellings and grammatical errors, but I have also kept an eye open for sagging sections, boring passages, and murky middles. Iv'e also got to make sure that no plot holes abound. I have to see which character needs fleshing out and who could be toned down; I have to look for places that descriptions are needed, and where I could cut them. There is a lot going through my mind as I work on this.

And this is only the beginning; I'm only 11 pages in.

However, I have been thoroughly enjoying myself through it all. It feels so satisfying to look at a page I just finished and see all those red marks and lines that have been struck through. Why? Because I know that it is making my work better. And I want this book to be the best that it can be. So even though I am scrapping a lot of those words I wrote in November, I am not disheartened, for I know that I am replacing those words with better ones.

So, over all, it goes slowly, but well over here. How about you? How's your revising going? Feel free to let me know in the comments! We bloggers love hearing from our readers. #bloggerlove

Until then, then.

Happy Writing and Revising, y'all.

A Long Awaited Entry... and What I Have Learned--

I have been away far too long, and for that I apologize. So, first, let me say: Happy New Year! Can you believe that the first full week of January is over? I can't believe it. Time surely does fly.

With that out of the way, let us move on to more important things.

So, top on the agenda is this: Revision. Roll up your sleeves; we're about to get our hands dirty.

As it was January, my time for a break and a breather away from my novel was over. It was time to dig in. So I did. I settled down in my chair with my cuppa joe, and a secret chocolate stash near at hand, and was prepared to start. I pulled up my PDF copy of my novel for the read-through, and began.

At first it was bad. And then it got worse.

Now, before you start cursing NaNoWriMo for forcing you into a writing rush, hear me out. It wasn't so much that my writing was awful (although, I'm not going to lie, I am no John Gardner or J.R.R. Tolkien, nor am I  J.K. Rowling, or any of those other "J's" I can't think of right now.); it was more that I felt so limited. There is only so much you can do when revising on a screen.

So I had to print it. That proved to be difficult. First there was the whole issue of, you know, needing ink and paper to print a full length novel. (What I learned: Ink cartridges are expensive.) So then I got the bright idea to go have it professionally printed. That would be cheaper than the ink cartridge, surely.

Ha.

What I learned: printing full length novels is expensive one way or another, Whether you have it done or do it yourself, you still have to have both time and money. I mean, what's up with that??

Have no fear! I got it printed, finally, and started revising my novel on paper.

When first I held my book in my hands, and saw the large amount of paper, and it occurred to me that this was what I had worked on all November, what I wrote, that this was my literary concoction, a rush of giddiness filled me. I had done it! I wrote a book! And it was, more or less, intelligible, and conveyed meaning.

I mean, it's one thing to look at a screen and see all the words you typed. It's another thing completely to sit in bed with a manuscript under your red pen. It has been soooo great to have that. So encouraging to see it get better with each strike of the red pen.

I've been doing some reading since Christmas; I listed some of the books I got around that time. I want to share a quote with you from The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk, Jr. that has been shaping how I revise, at least for this first revision.

          "Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should
          contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences,
          for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines
          and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer
          make all his sentences short, or that he avoid detail and treat his
          subjects only as outline, but that every word tell."

Read that again.

The two phrases that I have been saying over and over to myself as I revise are: Omit Needless Words, and Every Word Must Tell. I mean, that's serious stuff. Cut the crap, write what is needed, and for goodnesses sake, take out all those extra words that you added just so you could reach you daily word count. Those two ideas are what changed the way I think, about revision. It's no longer painful to cut out words and strike through sentences. In fact, a wave of gladness and satisfaction washes over me every time that I do. It's wonderful.

So, what I have learned: It is good to get rid of the extras. It is, after all, making your story better. And isn't that what you are here for, to make better stories?

And who knows? Someday we may meet, you and I, as published authors.

So keep at it.

Happy Writing, folks.