How to give your writing shine, volume and manageability

Erin:

This insightful posting from author Vicky Lorencen finds a connection between hair products and the writing process… And a solution for getting the latter under control.

Originally posted on frog on a dime:

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You’ve seen the commercials. There’s a woman with limpity blahsville hair. Her shoulders, schlumpy. Her eyes, rolled. She blows a puff of air upward from her lower lip and ruffles her scruffy bangs–the universal breath of disgust. Then, some product whooshes onto the screen. It’s a bottle of glamorous, sexy-smelling hope for hair. Ms. Lackluster snatches the wunderproduct, suds it through her sorry locks and voila! Cue the fans to blow a mane so magnificent as to make Fabio throw in the towel.

What if there was a “product” that could do the same–give shine, volume and manageability–to your writing? Good news! There is. It’s called Critique Group.

Here’s how this amazing product works:

Shine. Nothing will give your writing that dazzling sheen you desire like a robust critique. Your group can help you snip those dry, split ends created by worn or useless verbiage, identify stronger verbs and methodically polish your work.

Volume. Receiving regular…

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Genre Firsts: Books that defined romance, horror, and more

I love lists–favorite movies, books, ice cream flavors–you name it. So when I came across this article, The Originals: 5 Books That Defined Genres, I couldn’t resist clicking on the headline and delving in. The author, Jeff Somers, travels back in time to discover what novel was the first in its genre. Little Women, he claims, was the first young adult novel, while Frankenstein the first horror.

“As far as art forms go, the novel’s still a relative novelty (see what I did there), having only existed for a few centuries now—compared to, say, cave paintings or epic poetry. Even so, it might seem like the various genres of the novel—science fiction, horror, romance, mystery, young adult—have always existed. But there’s an origin for everything, even genres that seem age-old. While it’s never an exact science, here are five books that are arguably the first in their respective genres.” Read more

Literary Criticism, Little Friends, and Shameless Self-Promotion

AnneI’m not usually influenced by literary criticism. My reading has a more capricious slant—a year spent exploring the space program or delving into the Anne of Green Gables books, which I somehow missed when I was young, thinking myself, mistakenly, too sophisticated to enjoy them.

This, however, wasn’t always so. During my years as a young adult and reference librarian, I read millions—perhaps a slight exaggeration but fairly close to the truth—of reviews, knew what books were the popular, as well as literary, darlings, and could answer countless questions about current literature.

But I left all that behind when I switched careers. Now I drift from book to book, happy in my ignorance.

So it came as a surprise when I encountered the controversy swirling around Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (see: Why the backlash against Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ was so extreme by Douglas Perry of The Oregonian). The Goldfinch was, of course, on my too-read list, along with dozens of other books, but I had no idea it carried such dissension on its spine.

The critics, however, can keep their wordy quarrels and objections. Age and attempts at writing–with my own book, Blood Stitches, coming May 12 from Lyrical Press– have mellowed me.

Mr. Perry’s article reminded me of another Donna Tartt novel, The Little Friend, and the many happy hours I spent between its covers, lost in a fictional world so realistic I wouldn’t have been surprised to see one of the characters walk through the door. My time with The Little Friend whirled by much too quickly, and I fell into a slight depression when I arrived at its final pages.

Because of this, I’ve decided to devote part of my blog this year to revisiting old literary friends, whether the critics liked them or not, and to the occasional blast of shameless self-promotion for my own writing, which I hope the critics will love. But if they don’t then I’ll fall back on what I’m sure Donna Tartt is thinking–any publicity is good publicity.

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What book(s) have you loved but the critics hated?

Show, Don’t Tell

Erin:

Excellent posting and cheat sheet with tips on how to “show not tell” from Lynette Noni.

Originally posted on Lynette Noni:

This seriously awesome “cheat sheet” popped up in my Facebook and Twitter feed the other day and it’s simply too good not to share. It originated from a website called Writers Write:

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As writers, we’re often told how important it is to “show, don’t tell” with our words. The funny thing is, it can be easier to write “tell” rather than “show”, but it’s waaaay better to READ “show” than it is to read “tell”. And really, as someone who spends a lot of time reading, I kinda hate it when I read writing that does more telling than showing, because it almost makes me feel dumb, you know? It sends the message that the writer thinks that to get their story across then they have to describe everything to the point that there’s no room left for my imagination to enjoy the creativity of filling in any gaps…

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Have a Very Literary Christmas!

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

~Love Came Down at Christmas, Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1885

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.

~After Annunciation, Madeleine L’Engle, 1978

Soaring with the Wright Brothers: Perseverance and sacrifice elevates everyone

First flight by John T. Daniels

On this day in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright stood on the wintry dunes of Kill Devil Hills, NC, surrounded by a 30 MPH wind, soon to be the first men to leave the ground through powered flight.

Seven years later, their father Bishop Wright, perched next to Orville for what would be the Bishop’s only aeroplane ride, burst out with, “Higher, Orville, higher!” And higher the Wright Brothers took not only their father, but all of us, showing the world how perseverance, ingenuity, and sacrifice can elevate anyone. So here’s to inventors everywhere, whether they create with wood, metal, or words!

Discover more about the Wright Brothers’ through James Tobin‘s To Conquer the Air and Fred Howard’s Wilbur and Orville: A Biography–both are wonderful reads, nonfiction that which reads like fiction.

 

Hope Perches In My Soul: Happy Birthday, Ms. D

Born on December 10, 1830, Emily Dickinson’s poetry still rings true in a timeless symphony of  beauty and wisdom.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.