Monday, October 14, 2019

Practice Makes Perfect

I’ve taken to jotting down random sentences when little blocks of free time open up--as I stand in line at the market or occasionally sitting alone in a restaurant when I've forgotten to bring a book. These unedited ideas may find themselves in one of my novels, a work of nonfiction, or a folder labeled "snippets," my file of little darlings that I hope to bring back to life one day.

Sometimes I make up a story about what I see in the space around me, or borrow an idea from a movie or song. Other times, maybe something overheard in nearby conversation impresses me. This process doesn't require perfection, just imagination and a good thesaurus. It is intended to help hone my writing skills in an attempt to learn how to achieve a more literary voice:
  • A gray line hems the bottom of bulbous thunderheads crawling southwest, and the cotton froth shades patches of sheared alfalfa and barley below.
  • In the town square, heat–smothering and oppressive–is an unstoppable furnace boiling concrete, frying leaves, and burning shiny pates.
  • A harvest of thoughts displaced by feathery dandelion seeds rooting in open spaces intended for sentimental memories, bouts of inspiration, and deliberate efforts at appreciation.
  • Skin of newborn babes is coated with a sweet perfume, better than puppy breath. Tiny, soft fingers curl tenderly about one of mine, a mighty grip for all the power it holds.
  • The taste of unspoken anger tightened like a knot of congealed raw beef lodged at the back of his throat.
  • Chanting to gain enlightenment in a dreadful situation, loving messages clearly point out commendable solutions. Yet, aware that even as the vibrating mantras tickle the top of my palette, I still fully intend to let loose my ego's need for contention.

What have you jotted down lately? Please share a creative sentence or phrase here.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

This response was so eloquently written, that I asked the author to allow me to post it as an article. ~Carole Avila

Thoughts on Critique

By Alan Morrison

To an author, the reader’s mind is a canvas on which written words paint a picture. If done well, the picture will transport the reader from their personal here and now into the place and time of the story. That is the goal of every writer, but it’s never easy to achieve.

A poorly chosen word, an awkward phrase, flawed punctuation; these and other seemingly trivial faults can result in an incomplete or incorrect picture, one that leads a reader astray or, even worse, pulls them out of the magic trance the writer worked so hard to create.

The purpose of a critique should be to point out such things for the author to consider and, if they choose, correct or improve on. The critique is not about the author; it’s about the picture the critic sees. By offering a critique, the critic is allowing the writer to look inside their mind and see the picture the words painted.

That’s how we should view critiques, as gifts of insight. Sometimes they hurt, but they always make a writer better, and that’s the point—to constantly improve.

About Alan Morrison:  Farmboy, mathematician, physicist, fighter pilot, computer scientist, college professor, business owner, executive consultant, author, adventurer, and retiree. "I've lived an interesting life, and there's more to come! Thanks for reading my ramblings."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Constructive Criticism - One of a Writers Greatest Assets

It hurts like a stab to the heart, like being told you’re not good enough. It often feels like a personal attack, yet constructive criticism is one of the most helpful tools in a writer’s arsenal for improving their craft.

Anytime a comment or suggestion is made to improve work that is based on a genuine desire to help write a better story, it needs to be welcomed like a rare gift, because often times it is. One can keep asking family and friends what they think about a story, and they’ll keep saying, “That’s nice,” “It’s really good,” or other vague compliments that do nothing to move the work forward.

Constructive criticism doesn’t always sound positive or feel good yet can’t be taken personally. Knowledgeable comments or suggestions for change will probably make your work better. Someone who offers a good critique shares what works as well as what doesn’t, showing how to flesh out the characters, drive the plot, offer better word choices, improve sentence structure, tighten the narrative, or anything else that serves to make an improvement in a written work.

Someone may wrongly belittle a hopeful writer, but whatever immature insults are slung at their work have to be disregarded and chalked up to an inferior nature on the part of the unfair critic. If their comments don't provide suggestions for positive change in the work, let it go, but know the difference between a person who is being deliberately hurtful or one who is genuine in their desire to be helpful.

Criticism is needed from other writers to get a better feel for the flavor and direction of a story. It’s valuable in predicting the response of the reader. It can develop a thick skin to taunting and slights, only allowing beneficial information to come through and can provide a stronger foundation for the entire manuscript to stand on.

All in all, constructive criticism is a tremendous asset and a necessary tool in the craft of writing.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A 5-Star Debut Novel by Constance Hood

This is Why We Love Reading!

Islands of Deception: Lying With the Enemy is an enjoyably consuming novel which hooks the reader from the first sentence, all the way to the last. I was often, and easily, brought to the edge of my seat.

Constance Hood delivers a powerful and riveting account of a young man in search of fulfilling his dreams, only to find himself immersed in a world of espionage and intrigue. Although the topic of World War II has been written about time and again, Hood proves her ability to create a savory original and well-researched story based on documented events.

This smooth flowing and provocative novel is filled with engaging descriptions, historical facts of interest, and highly unexpected twists. Islands of Deception: Lying With the Enemy will provide a reader of any genre with an entirely satisfying reading experience.

Watch for the January 15, 2018 release date by Waves Press.