"Write every day. Even if only for ten or fifteen minutes. Give it half an hour; who knows what can happen. If we don’t write every day (or at least five days a week), we lose touch with our writing muscles, our imagination goes a little brittle, words hide out.
The worst part about not writing, especially when we intend to write but somehow just don’t get to it, we feel bad about ourselves; maybe a little guilty, maybe embarrassed or ashamed to admit to ourselves or others. When we feel bad about ourselves it’s more difficult to get the pen moving. So we may miss another day, and then the next. The more we don’t do it, the worse we feel and the harder it is to “just do it.”
But, by simply putting pen to page every day, or fingers to keyboard, even if what we write is what Natalie Goldberg calls “the worst junk in America,” we keep the creative muscles limber and the self-esteem healthy. The more we write, the better we feel about ourselves not just as writers, but in other areas of our lives, and so the more we write and so it goes. Daily practice. No judgement."
Throwback Thursdays Mean Business →
#Throwback Thursdays Mean Business
By Mia Botha:
'Thursdays are interesting. Not only because they give hope that the end of the week is in sight, but because I get to stare at people who willingly posts pics of themselves with big hairspray hair and leg warmers. Yes,Throwback Thursday is a highly anticipated event.
But how can I embrace this trend for my business?
Posting a pic of your CEO with the aforementioned leg warmers might not get the response that you are looking for, although it might help to remind us that the powerful boardroom samurai is a person too. (Which we can argue is the point of building relationships on social media.) But, I digress…
Think about what your business has to offer. It has been around for years. You have a ton of experience between yourself and your employees. You have hundreds of magazine articles and lots of data. Social Media is about sharing that knowledge.
Start here: Three things you need to do at the beginning of your novel →
Sometimes I wish a giant arrow would appear above my manuscript and pin-point the correct place to start. Alas, that does not happen.
An inciting moment is the moment of change for your character. It can be positive or negative, but it must be big enough that it forces him, or her, to act and to deal with the situation. This can be as big as a tank driving into the living room or as subtle as a discomforting sentence.
In your opening scene you should do three things:
- Orientate the reader: Get your reader orientated quickly. Tell us where we are and what is going on. You can be ambiguous, but do not confuse us.
- Introduce the characters: Who is there? Introduce your protagonist as soon as possible. I want to know what is happening, but most of all I want to know to whom it is happening.
- Show the relevance: Once I know where I am and what is going on you have to keep me interested. You have to make me ask questions.
In The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh starts off by setting her protagonist’s bed on fire. What do I learn?
- Where are we? She is in a group home.
- Who is she? She has dreamt of fire for the last eight years. She has been in the foster-care system almost all her life. She is angry and violent. She knows about flowers.
- Moment of change: It is her 18th birthday so she must leave the home.
In Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, our protagonist is running in Central Park at 2am when he sees a beautiful ghost-like woman in a red coat who seems to be following him. He is deeply unhappy and he blames Cordova. What do I learn?
- Where are we? In Central Park, New York in the early hours of the morning.
- Who is he? He is a journalist whose life has fallen apart because of a film director named Cordova. Immediately I want to know who Cordova is.
- Moment of change: He is shocked out of his apathy and inertia by this chilling Cordova-like incident.
Five things you should not include at the beginning
by Mia Botha for Writers Write
Why you need strong verbs when you write →
#Why you need to use strong verbs when you write
#Writing Courses in South Africa
Strong verbs improve your writing in three ways. They help you:
Reduce adverbs: Choosing strong verbs helps you to be specific. You should replace an adverb and a verb with a strong verb if you can. It will improve your writing. Don’t say: “She held on tightly to the rope.” Do say: “She gripped the rope.” Don’t say: “He looked carefully at the documents.” Do say: “He examined the documents.”
Avoid the passive voice: Choose specific, active verbs whenever you can. Don’t say: ‘He was said to be lying by the teacher.’ Do say: ‘The teacher accused him of lying.’
Eliminate wordiness: Strong verbs help you eliminate wordiness by replacing different forms of the verb ‘to be’. They allow you to stop overusing words like ‘is’, ‘was’, ‘are’, and ‘were’. Don’t say: ‘She was the owner of a chain of restaurants.’ Do say: ‘She owned a chain of restaurants.’
If you reduce wordiness, choose specific verbs, and use the active voice, readers will be able to understand you more easily. This is what you want because the reason we write is to communicate.
The Character Biography – Writing more to write less →
#The Character Biography – Writing more to write less
Charles Dickens could get away with starting a story with the birth of his protagonist. J.D. Salinger chose not to start there and called it ‘all that David Copperfield kind of crap’. Now before I am lynched, let me say that I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but David Copperfield was published in 1850. Catcher in the Rye, although very advanced for its time, was published in 1945. Today we don’t write like either of these two authors.
This is 2014. What do we do?
- In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins tells us simply that it is the day of the reaping. She doesn’t explain it or tell us what it means.
- In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green jumps in by telling us seventeen-year-old Hazel is depressed because she has cancer. She is in a support group almost before we hit page two.
- In Room by Emma Donoghue, Jack wakes up on his fifth birthday. He is in Bed and switches on Lamp and has an interesting conversation with Ma. We know something is up and weird, but Emma strings us along. She tells us nothing.
- In The Good Luck of Right Now, Matthew Quick writes about Bartholomew Neil who is clearing out his deceased mother’s underwear drawer and finds a form letter from Richard Gere. The death of his mother and his one-sided correspondence with Mr Gere takes us on a journey that is at once sad, sweet and enchanting.
Now, this is not a post about inciting moments although each one is a brilliant example of a moment of action and change. This is in fact a post about character biographies.
Imagine if I started my post with: To begin my post with the beginning of my post, I record that I wrote (as I have been informed and believe) on a Sunday night at eight o’clock while everyone else was watching the Sunday night movie. (I ain’t no Dickens, that’s for sure.)
How do great modern authors create characters so complete that I am interested in them even though I only met them a page ago?
Read more here