Tag Archives: editing

Nanowrimo/ NaBloPoMo/ Why so many November writing tasks?

Well, but of course, I have to do both…

So here’s my first of November blog about my first of November writing for Nanowrimo…

It seems like November is a good time of year for focused writing. Perhaps it’s the gloom setting in, the threat of winter, the darkening skies, the reversal of daylight saving time. It feels (in the Northern hemisphere) like it’s time for hunkering down, curling up with a pot of tea, and thrashing out some words. Any words. Good words, powerful words, words that prefer to lie flat, words that want to end in -ly no matter how you try.

One wonders, sometimes, how much utter dreck is created in the urge to complete tasks. I know, for example, that my Nanowrimo stuff tonight will be  a wasteland of first draftiness. Most of it will be tossed onto the floor and crushed with extreme prejudice, as they say, whoever THEY are. This blog entry is no doubt going to be rather dreary as well, I can already tell.

I’ve spent the day in training for leading the Stanford University course (the local iteration) on Chronic Disease Self-Management, you see. A whole day reviewing how to set goals and how to be physically active. A whole day sitting in a room talking about managing a chronic disease when all of us had one and really needed to move/lie down/sleep/exercise. We have three more days like this coming, and the leaders cheerfully tell us, “Oh, Day 3 is the WORST. It’s all lectures and you’ll have trouble staying awake.”

So, ya gotta wonder, who put together the course in this way? My chronic disease is demanding some care and feeding. Already.

My only hope is that the extra hour of sleep on Sunday will bail me out and keep me from saying something I shouldn’t. I have a tendency to lose my inner monologue when tired. Things that I thought I was saying in my head come right out of my mouth and lie there like toads of the poisonous variety.

But I’m determined to keep writing despite this, to put in my time to get those 2000 words done a day for Nanowrimo and here. Why? Well, I like a challenge. I hate to be beat. And I know I will need to write after talking all day. My brain will need emptying.

So, off I go, tra la, to empty my mind into my novel. Maybe there’ll be some gold among the dross. Good luck fellow November writers!

PS: for those who want to do editing after Nanowrimo, I just found a great editing site if you are feeling wealthy after all the house spent typing and not eating or entertaining or going out… Autocrit editing wizard. You can try out 500 word segments a day for free. It catches all your over-used words, clichés, adverbs, etc. Worth a look. I might just invest myself. Apparently it finds the word “just” so you can take it out…

Editing with the Kindle (or other ereader, I would imagine)


Another blog well worth following!

Mental Health Days

Before I went back to work, when I was spending my days playing with my kids and doing seemingly endless piles of laundry and arbitrating fights and driving people all over the place, every once and awhile, I’d see that we were getting stressed to the max with school and other commitments. So I’d give us all a mental health day. I’d call the schools, tell them that the kids were sick, and we’d all lounge around in our pyjamas all day and watch Disney movies and eat popcorn and just be messy all day.
It was lovely, especially in the depths of winter when it was too much trouble to get dressed for the weather some days. It’d be -40 or something and the thought of wrapping all of us in the required 10 layers was too much.
Or we’d all be tired and grumpy and a holiday day was a welcome respite for all of us.
I loved those days. Mind you, I loved excuses to play hooky with the kids anytime.

My novel

I still like the playing hooky days, but they are creeping to an end. I have a novel to brush up for June 1st. It needs its hair done, some primping, a lot of education about tenses and structure and plot and characterizations and all that.
What I really want to do is tell it to play hooky with me, to just sit around with it and talk to it and have fun and share secrets. A lot of my writing happens this way.
Every once an awhile, though, I need to tell it to get tidied up and presentable. Like my kids, my novel isn’t all that keen to take to work. It likes being messy.
One of my sons used to live in a pile of his precious items. We argued over it, and I finally told him he needed to tidy it up one day a week so I could vacuum and such and thus prevent bug infestation. He grudgingly agreed. He’d tidy it all up, I’d whip the vacuum through, and within five minutes, it’d be all layered again, looking just the same as before, but less dusty.
It worked for us. He felt more comfortable in the clutter.
Maybe I can tell my novel this – tidy up now, just til June 1st, and then we can play-write again, wallow around in our mental pyjamas, vegetate. I don’t think it’s buying it, though. I think it knows now is the time to grow up.
No more mental health days, not for the moment.
On the good side, I can dress in my writer clothes, which are designed to prevent me from being seen in public. Comfy, messy, unattractive. All good.
Time to get to work.
Now, I just need a little Queen to inspire me…

Dialog Attribution: Why King Said So?

Dialog Attribution: Why King Said So?. from:

Stephen King said, “Somebody said, ‘blah, blah,’ is the best way to attribute dialogs.”

In On WritingStephen King said that the best dialog attribution terms are ‘said,’ ‘say,’ etc. On Writing is King’s best-selling non-fiction on how to write better.

When you read a novel or a short story, you usually encounter what characters speak, in their own words. For instance,

Joe said, “I am here to know about it.”

Steve said, “You will learn.”

These are dialog attributions, which tells you who said a particular thing. They are very important in a work of fiction in order to show you what is happening in a scene. While it is so, we may encounter sentences like the following.

Harry jerked out at last, “I can’t go.”

Tim mouthed his reply, “Then I will do it.”

In these sentences, the speaker does a certain action like jerking out or mouthing, and it is told to the readers by the author. When you read such sentences, you find it rather amusing at first, but its overuse is jarring and boring as hell.

Why King Said So?

King has expressed an extreme distaste over the dialog attribution of the second category said above. These are lifeless attribution methods according to him, and should be avoided in well-written works. Though the reason is evident through the two sentences mentioned above, let me clarify it once again.

When you read any such inelegantly written dialog attributions, just understand that the reason behind it is that the writer writes what he can’t show through his words. For instance, see this sentence:

Tim said, “I-I c-can’t have done that … Sorry!”

In this sentence, it is evident that Tim is apologizing and stammering in his apology (maybe he did something wrong and is worried for it). The waiting (while he is thinking and selecting his apology word) is shown through an ellipsis, and his stammering is evident from ‘I-I’ and ‘c-c.’

Another way to write the same is:

Tim worded his apology, “I can’t have done that” and after a pause, added, “sorry!”

This looks inelegant as hell, compared to the previous one. This is exactly what King wants us to learn. Just ‘said’ is enough when you have what it takes in the dialog. So, try to show emotions in the text; show what a character feels. Writing dialogs is an art by itself, and it has to be learned to be a successful writer. Making your readers feel each situation is very important. And terms like “jerk out,” “murmur,” “shout,” “scream,” etc., are fine up to an extent and should never be overused. Remember the big rule in fiction writing: Show and never, ever tell.”

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008