Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Other Side of the Coin

You might recall April 19th's topic, Is Your Writing Tight? where we discussed ways to trim our prose for clean, crisp writing. We had a vibrant conversation going with comments sharing advice such as use concise verbs and simple verb tenses, watch for passive writing, cut the unnecessary, and carefully kill adverbs and adjectives. Great stuff, all.

Comments also addressed another view. One author said we can cut till words become too dry. Good point. We don't want our writing to lack life, becoming parched and blowing away like ashes in the wind, now do we?

This author went on to say that every word needs to be present for a reason. I believe she's right, and concur with other comments that pointed out how sometimes extra content is necessary, particularly in fiction's dialogue and description.

Pondering further, I considered additional occasions, such as a friendly column, conversational article, or blog post. One's style and personality is often reflected best with an assortment of well chosen words, ones that might otherwise be weeded out for different projects. Interestingly, while still in my musing mode, I ran across this post, To Make a Long Story Short, which highlights Jennifer Brown Banks' take on the subject. Do great minds think alike or what? :D

My take on tight writing is influenced by several factors. As a writing instructor, for example, I'm ever on the lookout for redundancies like free gift or past history, and places where words might carefully be tweaked for better results. As a fiction writer, I aim for an interesting tapestry that brings a story to life. Smart writers, I believe, live, write, and learn, and find the right fit for each scenario.

So it's a balance, is it not? What factors influence your writing habits? How do you keep both sides of the coin polished?

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, May 21, 2012

Do You Erase?

Even the best writer has to erase.

 Spanish Proverb

I happened across this quote years ago

and like to share it with my teen writing 

students to help illustrate that writing is a process.

Perhaps though, it should be updated to say, 

Even the best writer has to backspace.

What do you think? 

How much do you cut, delete, and backspace?

I will be taking a break until Memorial Day. 

My mother in law had surgery on Friday, so there 

are a few extra things on my plate.

Have a great week!



Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Like or As?

How old were you when you first learned about similes and metaphors? I was about ten, and I remember experiencing some confusion over these interesting figures of speech.  While I won't say I've mastered them, I do understand them better now. It is amazing how they enhance our writing, isn't it?

As you know, the simile is a comparison of two things using the words like or as.        
Here are two examples. (Don't laugh, okay? I may still have residual ten year old trauma as I was only able to identify them when I spotted the words like or as.) 

He ran as fast as an antelope.             
Her smile was as bright as the morning sunshine.

The metaphor further stymied my young brain, but I eventually saw how they make a comparison or an analogy, showing the relationship between two things. 

Thank you for not laughing at these examples either.  

Autumn is the relief valve for summer.       

The lake is a shimmering oasis on the landscape.

Metaphors convey a mood, and create a stronger impression than a simile. They provide powerful and stirring images for the reader. 

In her post Inside the Metaphor, Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse defines a metaphor by saying one thing is another. Angela also tells us how to build strong metaphors, and cites examples for those of us who need more practice (like me!).

Writing similes and metaphors is a great cross training technique. If you feel up to the challenge, check out this link. K.L. Oberst shares an interesting exercise in metaphors that will jump-start even the most reluctant imagination.

How are your simile and metaphor skills? Have you come across any interesting ones lately?  

Anyone care to write one to go with the picture above? If so, please share it!

Have a fabulous weekend,

P.S. The Random Acts of Kindness fun continues with giveaways and more. Check it out here.

Photo credit: Stock Exchange
Copyright 2012, Karen Lange.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review - Arms of Love

By Kelly Long

Although the Patriots and British are still at odds, Lena Yoder believes that she will marry soon, perhaps even before the year 1777 comes to a close. Lena's father Samuel is imprisoned, but she is hopeful he'll be released soon and things on their Amish farm near Lancaster, PA can return to normal.

The recipient of Lena's affections, Adam Wyse, has entertained thoughts of joining the war efforts despite his Amish upbringing. He is willing to settle down, though, and marry Lena, whom he has loved for as long as he can remember. Everything changes, however, when Adam makes an unusual promise to Lena's mother.

Lena struggles to regain her equilibrium as Adam withdraws from their relationship. Isaac, Adam's brother, desires to become an Amish bishop someday, and expresses interest in Lena. Hurt and confused, Lena reluctantly accepts Isaac's marriage proposal to please her father.

Meanwhile, Adam again considers enlisting while wrestling with dark memories from his past. He befriends a prisoner of war, a British soldier who is detained in Lancaster. The unlikely pair forge an interesting bond that brings comfort and light in unexpected ways.

This book illuminates an aspect of the Revolutionary War period that isn't often discussed. The Amish, as a peace seeking community, sought to stay out of the fray, desiring instead to foster harmony between men. The Patriots viewed them as cowards, unwilling to fight for freedom. Both sides were in need of able bodied men, and the competition for soldiers, Amish or not, was fierce. Even John, Lena's preteen brother, entertained thoughts of joining up. This book shares a glimpse of how hearts and convictions were sorely tested during this epic time in American history.

Kelly Long brings an interesting tale of heartbreak and loyalty to life. Her characters' situations show us that, whether from the past or present, we must seek honor and truth. This book provided a wonderful introduction to Kelly Long's skill and storytelling ability. I look forward to reading more of her books. 

Note: I received this book free of charge from Thomas Nelson for review purposes only.

Do you enjoy historical fiction? What have you been reading lately?

Happy writing,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ!

We interact with people all the time. They encourage us and brighten our days in unexpected ways. I believe that the writing community is particularly adept at this. Wouldn't you agree? Writers are, in a word, awesome.

Think about the writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your article or manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports, and keeps you strong when challenges arise. The author who takes time from their schedule and offers council, advice, and inspiration.

What about the ones who take time to make us feel special by commenting on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums, and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook. They're treasures, all.

As Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi put it,
Kindness ROCKS! 

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too! :)

I am blitzing Susan J. Reinhardt of Christian Writer/Reader Connection. Susan and I met shortly after I started blogging, and she offered endless support and inspiration. I barely knew which end was up in the blogging world, and Susan patiently guided me over the many hills and valleys.

Our friendship blossomed from there, and she is now like a sister to me. We chat, brainstorm, laugh, and critique each other's work. We're even collaborating on a novel, and you don't just do that with anyone! As a token of my thanks to Susan, and to celebrate this Blitz, I'll be sending Susan a little surprise via snail mail soon.
Do you know someone special that you'd like to acknowledge? Don't be shy, come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness is one of the best ways to share with and celebrate the others in our lives. :)

Speaking of kindness, Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse asap to pick it up.

What Random Act Of Kindness have you been gifted with lately? Do you like to surprise people with random, no special occasion actions or gifts?

Happy writing,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday's This and That

I've another round of tidbits and goodies to share. Hope you find something helpful!

Links and Resources

Do you write to express or write to impress? Author Bernadette Pajer shares her thoughts on this topic over at Chuck Sambuchino's blog. I think her advice, particularly in the area of writer's block, can be liberating - see if you agree.

Here's the answer to the question that's been on many writer's minds - Do you italicize internal dialogue? has info on this and other interesting topics, like how to obtain height in your dialogue or how to get back on track after an editor calls you an idiot. There's a little something for every writer, check them out!

Looking for freelance work? The Freelance Writing Jobs site might be of help. While there, check out their assortment of helpful articles, writing tips, and business help. Click here for more info.

The wait is over! The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi will be released next week! Angela and Becca blog over at The Bookshelf Muse and offer wonderful writing insight in their posts. They compiled a book with their great writerly advice; I expect it will be a must have for every writer's library. Can't wait to pick up a copy! If you aren't already following their blog, I highly recommend that you do so.

Book Review

Lessons From the Tree House by Carol Alexander

After her sons built a tree house, Carol Alexander realized that they didn't just get a tree house in the bargain, they gained important life skills too. Spurred on by the sobering statistics that most children spend only 30 minutes of outdoor free play each week, she decided to review the process, document it, and share the steps in this new ebook. I'm glad she did, for the result is a wonderful, hands on guide for parents and children of all ages.

Carol divides the procedure into three steps, the design, building, and enjoyment phases. Each phase is broken down further into subjects such as mathematics, computer skills, drawing, science, writing, and even public speaking. The hands on lessons provide a plan for all ages that can be used as is, or tailored further to suit more specific needs and interests. The target audience is the homeschool family, but this would be a great resource for other groups such as 4H or scouts.

In addition to providing suggested books and links, Carol includes quotes from students and parents. I thought this was a great addition to highlight various aspects of the project. Illustrations, photos, vocabulary lists, and even grid paper that can be reproduced are also tucked into this handy guide.

Carol's newest ebook is, in my opinion, another winner. It is exactly the type of resource I would have used when homeschooling my three children. I'll have to keep it in mind for the grandkids!

Carol is also the author of Lessons From the Hen House and Lessons From the Seed Catalog and can be found at her blog, Everything Home With Carol.

Run across any good links lately? What are you up to this weekend?

Happy weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, May 7, 2012

Making the Transition

When writing, do you give conscious thought to transitions? Transitional words, while helpful, are not always necessary. A transition from one thought to another is not limited to their use, but is successful when ideas are organized and flow clearly, don't you think?

Common transitions include words like although, furthermore, between, first, second, consequentially, next, yet, during, finally, etc. I keep an eye on these words as I edit, and sometimes delete them, depending on the context. The key, I think, is to aim for each idea to move fluidly to the next.

Did you know that there are several categories of transitional words? Here are a few: 

Chronological & Logical - for cause and effect, or contrasting ideas
Pour the cake batter into the baking pan. Next, place the pan in the oven and set the timer.

Although bears in Yellowstone hibernate during the winter, the bison do not. 

Climacticto conclude, summarize, observe

Furthermore, workers will be penalized for arriving late.

Logical and/or Persuasive – summary, convince, influence

For this reason, we must vote for Elwood Smith for Class President.
Order of Importance- prioritize ideas

First, we must address the issue of shoplifting. Next, the customer return policy has loopholes and should be clarified. Finally, the employee handbook must be distributed.

If you think about it, transitional words, as necessary, can give the reader a map, illustrating how information is connected in terms of logic, place, or time. The bottom line, with or without specific transitional words, is to determine if thoughts are clear and flow cohesively.

Care to try your hand at writing better example sentences than these? Please share! :)

What is your take on transitions? Do you think about them when you write?

Congrats to Laura Pauling! Her book, A Spy Like Me debuts today! Check it out here. :)

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Care to Join Me?

I am guest posting today over at Tyrean's Writing Spot

If you have a moment, I invite you to hop over!

Thanks a bunch! :)

Have a great weekend,