29 May 2013

Referencing Pronouns - Got Tips?

This question comes from one of my critique partners who has given me permission to use it in order to prompt other writers to share how they handle this situation. First, I'll share the draft version of the paragraph in question, and then I'll share some tips and a revised paragraph. But first, the question.

In this draft paragraph there is only one character, Charlie. To me using his name in the place of every "he" for each action seems too much.

Charlie opened the door...Charlie put the gun down and then Charlie closed the door. Charlie put his hat on. Charlie walked to the front of the truck...etc. 

I have been using third person the entire book so far. I start with a name and then if there is no other character in the scene yet then I just use "he" or "she". Is that not right?

Draft version:

Charlie pulls up to the cabin and shifts his truck into park.  He sits there looking at the house for a bit.  He draws in a deep breath and looks over to the glove box.  He looks back at the house and then scans around his truck.  He reaches under his jacket and unsnaps his holster.  He places his pistol in the glove box and closes it. He grabs his hat on the seat next to him and opens the door.  The twenty year old hinges groan and send a startling echo throughout the surrounding woods.  Charlie closes the door and puts on his hat.  His hand follows the rim back to front where he pulls it lower. 

There are a few suggestions I had, but I know these aren't the only tips in keeping the number of referencing pronouns to a minimum.

1. Remove the subject pronoun 

He saw the clouds rolling in from the horizon.
The clouds rolled in from the horizon

He smelled the sweet cherry trees in the field
The sweet aroma oozed from the cherry trees in the field

2. Combine two sentences

He reaches under his jacket and unsnaps his holster.  He places his pistol in the glove box and closes it.

He reaches under his jacket, unsnaps his holster, and places his pistol in the glove box.

Revised version: 

Charlie pulls up to the cabin and shifts his truck into park.  The rotted siding of the house shows years of withstanding harsh weather.  He unsnaps his holster and places his pistol in the glove box for safe keeping. After grabbing his hat from the passenger seat, he opens the door.  The twenty year old hinges groan and send a startling echo throughout the surrounding woods.  The car door closes with a clunk and he places the hat on his head; his hand follows the rim back to front where he pulls it lower.

What are some other ways to deal with this issue? I thought I would pose this question to the writing community. Again, this is draft material, so feel free to make suggestions. As always, I appreciate your feedback!

24 May 2013

My 3 Ups Blog Hop Challenge

I am participating in Randi Lee's 3 Ups Blog Hop today. My blogger friend whom I get to write about today is Elise Fallson. 

There is much clean fun and a fresh voice at Elise's blog and R is for Rumpology is a blast! So much tongue in cheek humor, I couldn't hide from co-workers the fact I was reading non-work related material. 

Elise has a down to earth, matter of fact style of writing which sounds much like talking to someone face to face. This is a blog you want to sit down in front of and read first thing in the morning with a nice hot cup of hot chocolate.

Her sample fiction is not to be missed either. The writing is tight and immediate, with great sensory descriptions which put you in the scene. Thanks for contributing your humor and wit to the Blog-o-Sphere, Elise. And thank you for sharing your work out here with all of us.

The 3 things I love most:

1. Her humor and wit

Ever read material that made you feel like you weren't reading at all? You just experience pure entertainment. That's what you get when you visit Elise's blog.

2. Her writing style and balance

She understands white space! White space is necessary so the reader doesn't feel claustrophobic when reading your material and Elise gets it. Her blog is beautifully balanced and super easy to read on top of all the wit and humor.

3. Her font size is perfect

There's one thing I always appreciate and that's a good font size. There is a reason why you will stay and read on this blog, not just the humor, wit, and an A+ on balance, Elise has chosen a perfect font which will reach a satisfaction level for a wide range audience. Thank you, Elise!

And now, I'm signing off with an Elise quote from one of her blog entries:

"Have a great weekend everyone, hope it's filled with vampire-nuclear-killer rabbits with happy colons." --in case you missed crackmeupology

22 May 2013

Google Plus Commenting Feature - My Fix

With the new Google Plus commenting feature turned on, I realize some readers are no longer able to post comments unless they create a Google Plus account. I feel horrible about this restriction and have received a handful of emails from concerned readers. 
In a good faith effort to show I do not wish to exclude anyone from contributing a voice here at Are We There Yet? I've decided to invest in a bulletin board system, fully embedded and integrated with my blog.

You don't have to comment on an article to contribute to the blog. In the forums, you can sign up with Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, Blogger, WordPress, or from any number of accounts and post about writing: flash fiction, short stories, novels, or even link an article. You can create a post about an upcoming event. Do you have a book signing in the future? Post about it. Want to upload the book cover? Go for it.

Anyway, I hope you will take this as an opportunity to become more involved here. I enjoy your comments, so I'm offering more ways for you to comment and share your stuff with me. Check it out. My husband posted a photo of the bay in Key Largo in the events section. It's where we will be spending our anniversary this year. 

17 May 2013

Writers Block Instant Cure

I had a severe case of writer's block today, so I browsed through my old folders looking for something, anything, to inspire me to finish chapter eleven of Precinct 9. Nothing...

So then, I played Candy Crush on Facebook. It didn't help. It only fed my O.C.D. until I ran out of lives. Seven minutes before I get another life?!

Anyway, the seven minute wait didn't leave me with nothing to do. I searched the internet looking for guidance on how to cure this minor blockage and found this video. So, while you're watching this informative clip, I'm going to finish banging out my chapter.

Make sure you book mark it as suggested. It's a great reminder. Please share this with your writer friends.

12 May 2013

A Bittersweet Mother's Day

I'm not saying Happy Mother's Day this year for many reasons, so I hope my friends and family will understand. I have so much Mother's Day happiness with all things going well in my life. I wish to share these things with you, but I also want to go a little deeper into this day, because it's not always a positive thing, but it is always a special day for many reasons. 

I want to share the diversity of what has become my Mother's Day this year, a very special day, I promise you!

My youngest stepson, Chris, and his wife, Kasey, had their daughter last year. Bailee experienced her first Mother's Day. From our Panama City Beach vacation! Her 2nd Mother's Day. Haha!!

My older stepson, Timmy, and his wife, Kelly, had their son this year. Levi experienced his first Mother's Day. I think I have permission to post this photo, originally published on Facebook. I will ask forgiveness if not, and remove it if chastised. Isn't it easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission?

I welcomed a new daughter into my life this Mother's Day weekend, a perfect companion for my son, Cameron. Who knows what's best for their baby better than anyone? A mother! I'm so happy that my son met someone so caring and patient. Photos coming soon, I promise!

Kristina's mother, Stephanie Senter, did an amazing job on the decorations for the wedding, and her floral arrangements were spectacular. Another amazing mother, stepping in to support her daughter on a special day. More photos to come! 

My own daughter, Chelsey, amazes me year after year, as she grows into a beautiful and independent woman. She's determined to succeed as being her own person. A mother's pride I will not hide. She moves into her own apartment the 1st of July. I expect her to come home often to watch the occasional chick flick!

I also dedicate this post to my own mother, who passed away in September of 2006. I know she would have loved to experience these things with me. More important, I have an author friend whom I follow on a regular basis at High Heels and Hot Flashes (imagine that, I'm menopausal). Debra's daughter's last Mother's Day is today because her daughter has a week left in a fight against AIDS. Because I cannot imagine the pain and struggle of losing a child, I will take this day and pray for my friend, a fellow writer.

Please remember all those mothers who are struggling in the world today and pay tribute to them as well. It's not a Happy Mother's Day for all. Though we are grateful and proud, we are also humble, and we pray for our fellow moms out there who may be suffering for any number of reasons.

Bless you moms out there! I love you all.

08 May 2013

W is for Writer Quotations

I'm sharing with you the most inspirational and fun quotes about writing from some of my favorite writers. Please feel free to share yours!

"To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man." ― Aristotle

"Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it's like making love while having a tooth pulled." ― Dean Koontz

"This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit." ― Stephen King

"In order to learn, one must change one's mind." ― Orson Scott Card

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ― Toni Morrison

"The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them." ― Stephen King

"Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins." ― Neil Gaiman

"Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule." ― Stephen King

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." ― W. Somerset Maugham

"Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted." ― Jules Renard

"My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." ― Ernest Hemingway

"I am a story teller. If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon." ― Philip Pullman

"Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way." ― Ray Bradbury

"I write for the same reason I breathe ... because if I didn't, I would die." ― Isaac Asimov

"Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself." ― Franz Kafka

"Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." ― Gloria Steinem

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05 May 2013

V is for Voice - You Might Be a Redneck

Of the many writing courses I've taken and articles I've read, one thing they all stress as the quintessential element to master, is the finding of your voice.

To me, this was always confusing because I've been attempting to learn the craft of writing fiction. Shouldn't my individual characters have their own voices? But how do you find your natural voice no matter what it is you are writing? What is voice anyway? It's your written prose minus all those words you think will make you sound important and smart. Forget all that, just be yourself. That's what your readers want to hear.

Voice can be described as how you sound when you write the same story as another writer, but with the words you've grown to know and use in your everyday vocabulary. If you're a singer, it's how differently you sing the National Anthem from the next artist. Think Roseanne Bar vs. Christina Aguilera vs. Steve Tyler. They sing the same words, yet the song takes on a whole new sound.

In the same sense, the writer's voice will introduce a new pitch or tone with word choices, dialect, and timing. Two writers can write the same story, but the read will be different if they have voices which are distinguishable from one another. There are some word choices which make most voices sound the same.

The truly unique voices are devoid of commonalities which make the tone boring or condescending. The writer wanting to sound important or intelligent rather than tell a story or make a point, produces a narrative which is preachy or contrived. That's what happens to us when writing rules are enforced. Maybe that's why they say to not think about the rules of writing when drafting. Write what you want to write. Get it down. That's where your voice will happen.

I witnessed this over the weekend. It wasn’t in a novel or an article on writing. I ran into a classified ad. I immediately discovered, in the simplest terms, the nature of voice. This is who you are, where you came from, and what the world will know as you, without a face. Whether it's you the author, or you the narrator, we hear you. And here's a test on voice. Read the first ad.

I hear Jeff Foxworthy preparing for his yard sale next weekend, “If you put a price tag on them chester drawers. Uh, let me say that properly,” and with a more proper choice of words, he says, “the chest of drawers,” and then back to his original voice, “...you might be a redneck.”

If you enjoyed this, please read my other articles in this past April's A-Z Challenge.

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