Aussie-isms and Novel Writing: It Gets Tricky!

20g Koala Unit 3D2When my Canadian husband first came to Australia, he had to learn the language. It sounds odd, doesn’t it? Canada and Australia are both English-speaking, Commonwealth countries. However, whenever the Census comes around, I am now tempted to put myself down as bi-lingual. We took a walk through a supermarket picking up fruit and vegetables and comparing the names. You have no idea how many differences there are, in that area alone!

In Australia, we have a lot in input from other countries. I should be classed as tri-lingual as I was bought up watching American shows, British programmes and at that time, the Australian tv industry was much smaller, so there was less Aussie content. (Note the three changes in language, in just that sentence.) I had heard about Twinkies, long before I ever saw an image of one. But do you know what a Tim Tam is? If not, I feel bad for you, because they are one of the most awesome biscuits known to mankind! Ask any Aussie ex-pat. I know who Barack Obama is, but can you tell me who the Australian Prime Minister is? We’re oddly isolated down here.

product_timtam_classicdark_5845_largeI can read American and British novels without any hassle and love them, but in writing The Dragon Tree, I had to often stop and review whether phrases I used in dialogue, would be understood outside our borders. Except for Steve Irwin’s tendency to say it, the word ‘crikey’ went out of fashion about eighty years ago. There is a great deal of misinformation about our country and culture and there are many Australian names and phrases, that would have you scratching your head and reaching for Google. They are so common to me, I wouldn’t even notice I’d put them in the book. I have a glossary of terms, but I never think I need everyday sayings in it.

When my husband started work in Australia, he’d text me questions like, “what’s a sanger?” It’s a sandwich. “What’s arvo mean?” It means afternoon. “Someone said Woop Woop was near us, let’s go there.” *sigh* No, there is no Woop Woop. It just means somewhere out the back of nowhere, that is really boring. You know, like the Canadians refer to Dodge. That got me in trouble. Apparently, Dodge is a real place and he thought I was having a go at him – ha, there is another Aussie-ism “having a go” at someone, which means, teasing or telling off. That is how easy Aussie-isms are to write in and I never notice I’ve done it. To end my tale, my husband pointed out that Australia has a Woy Woy and a Wagga Wagga (yes, we do,) so why not a Woop Woop? How do you argue with that? (Enterprising souls have been smart enough to name their winery Woop Woop, so now you can go somewhere. People like me owe them thanks.)

So in pre-emptive self-defence (Aussie spelling there folks), my novel has a place in it named Wollongong. I wrote it in, as it is entirely appropriate and then realised, people will think I made a name like that up. I didn’t, truly. Just click on this link.

Do you have any writing challenges like this? What are your localised ___isms?

P.S. Sorry, comments are now off on this post, as I prepare for NaNoWriMo

Participant-2014-Square-Button
Wollongong


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Book of the Month: How I Overcame My Writer’s Block

uycs3dI researched and wrote a course on creativity, to overcome my writer’s block. I could argue over whether it was actually writer’s block or a complete lack of motivation, however, to overcome the problem, I wound up researching and writing a complete course on how creativity works! That course is now being taught to Seniors Australia wide, and I have had the pleasure of teaching it locally. As the course was so helpful to both myself and the students, it became an ebook. It’s enjoyed great reviews.

“Thanks, I enjoyed opening up to my creativity interesting that when I started looking into my own creativity I found a dearth of information and help just kind of flowed to me.”

“Very enjoyable course; inspiring and motivating.”

This e-book will help you turn your dreams into reality. It explores the process and practical aspects of creativity: the mental processing; philosophies that drive how we think about and assess our creative worth; creative character traits; historical role models; an extensive bibliography and web link list and more. The content is practical, not just analytical. It will give you ideas on how to move forward in your creative life.

Topics covered include:

  • Capturing the Muse
  • Quieting the Internal Censor
  • Building A Creative Space
  • Working With Failure
  • Finding Direction
  • Techniques To Use

To order in pdf or Amazon Kindle format, please visit this link.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Computer Use: Minimizing the Strain

ABPASG 3D Cover
This ebook is free and has been approved by a Spinal Surgeon with a Master’s Degree in Spinal Biomechanics. Please click on the cover to get your pdf copy.

I can spend fifty hours a week at my desk easily. My work depends on it; then when work is done, there are the usual tasks such as paying bills online and keeping in touch with distant friends and family. Quite often a day has flown by and I haven’t moved position much. That not only strains my eyes, but it is a risk factor for back and neck problems.

In an office setting ergonomics has become a buzz word we have developed an immunity to. There are policies, handbooks and sets of rules which have been put together so we don’t hurt ourselves. We know they are there, but may not be using them. It is easier to rely on our subconscious habits. Being aware of and breaking out of those habits can save you chronic pain, or potentially more serious long-term problems.

To cut a very complex science down to a few basics, below are useful tips to remember when using a desktop computer, laptop or tablet device. These only cover neck and back strain. More information is available online on keyboard heights and other body strain issues.

  • Keep alignment in mind. Your back, neck and head should be as straight as possible, at all times. If you stay aligned, you are not fatiguing and stressing your spine. If your shoulders aren’t relaxed, your position is wrong.
  • Have lumbar support on chairs. Make sure your chair is the correct height for your desk.
  • The top third of your computer screen should be level with your eyes. iMacs have screens which adjust up and down easily. Similar set-ups make it simple to move the screen whatever your height, or if you need to stand up. That will save you crouching down to read the screen.
  • If you need to repeat tasks over and over, make sure you take frequent breaks or alternate tasks, so you can get up and move without feeling you are wasting time.
  • Don’t sit in awkward postures for more than a very, very short time.
  • Use laptop risers and iPad stands which conform to the rules above. If you are unable to, or still find your neck aches when using mobile devices, minimize their use and/or take frequent breaks.
  • If you need to use paper documents as you work, a document holder which is attached to your monitor, or free-standing, may decrease neck strain as you aren’t looking up and down repeatedly. Even slightly bending your back and neck can create pain at the end of the day. It is repetition which creates the strain.
  • Learn to touch type so you need to look at the keyboard less.
  • Software companies make programs which will pop up on your screen, reminding you it is time to stretch, move and give your eyes a break. That will also help your spinal joints.

Get Your Free Copy of the Book

Woman Working With a Sore BackBack pain affects more of us than any other complaint, including heart disease and asthma. It is an epidemic which is largely avoidable, but rarely addressed in public health education. The information in this book is quite diverse. Taking care of your spine is an issue for everyone, including mothers; athletes; military personnel; the aged; computer users and office workers who battle with back ache due to posture; builders; manual laborers; and anyone who regularly lifts, bends and twists their spine to get tasks done whether at home, work or recreationally.

Contents Include:

  • Back Health Essentials: A Simple Overview
  • Basic Guidelines on How to Lift Anything
  • Conditions Caused by Repetitive Back Strain
  • What Type of Bag Do You Carry?
  • Back and Neck Friendly Computer Use
  • Household Maintenance and Back Strain
  • Lifting and Caring for Children
  • Spine Safe Sport and Recreation
  • Back Saving Water-Wise Gardening
  • Avoiding Back Strain While Packing and Moving
  • Taking Care of Your Back After Corrective Surgery: A Cautionary Tale
  • Back Care for Carers
  • Back Care for Wheelchair Users
  • A Special Chapter for Young Carers
  • Online Back Care Resources

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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2012. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Internet #Marketing Terms #Writers Need to Know

social-media-assorted-icons_freevector 95167If you watch my Twitter feed, you know that I frequently pass on blog posts which contain words that you may not think are relevant to writers. Have you seen these?

  • Content / Content Marketing
  • Business
  • Branding
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Web Design
  • SEO
  • Platform

I wouldn’t blame you for tuning out to those posts, however, if you are an author or blogger marketing your work, you need those posts and an understanding of the terms. Those posts are passed on to help you.

May I demonstrate?

  • Content: your book, your blog posts and what you place on social media. Content marketing means you gear what goes into those elements to make people want to read your work and buy from you.
  • Business: if you sell anything, you are a business. You are liable for taxation. Even if you are a small time Indie author, you are still a micro-business and it helps to be organised and think like one: without getting bogged down!
  • Branding: whatever image of you that is placed online in pictures, web design and your “voice” in your work, makes a brand that is YOU! Wherever you see my online presences, you see my teacup logo and Macbook desk image. They are part of my brand and make me recognisable. If you build a strong brand, people will recognise you.
  • Engagement: how you interact with followers, other authors etc. that sells and promotes your work.
  • Sales: we all hope for them! If you don’t sell books, your “sales” could be likened to your blog stats and followers.

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Find these posts on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cateartios
  • Web Design: necessary for everyone with a site, whether it is a blog or independent web site.
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimisation which dictates how far up the search list your name, web site, books, blogs etc. are found.
  • Platform: speakers stand on a platform to be heard. It raises you high enough that others notice you. Your platform is your blog, web site, social media presences and whatever you do online to be noticed.

You will also find me passing along posts relevant to the main social media including Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter; email list services, plus varied other technical topics… it is all relevant believe it or not. Have a read, stretch your view of your value a little further and see what new tips and tricks you can discover.


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

The Rules

Cate Russell-Cole:

Common sense for your writer’s survival kit. We all need to hear this message from Jo Robinson. Thanks Jo!

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Originally posted on Lit World Interviews:

Jo Robinson
Jo Robinson

A lot of indie authors are pretty rigid with their writing rules. There’s nothing wrong with this when it’s your style, and self-imposed. You’ll have problems though if rigid rules don’t fit well with your character, and you’ve only inflicted them on yourself because a successful and well known writer said that that’s what you should be doing if you ever want to succeed. “Must” is often the word lurking behind procrastination in any field, and when it comes to creative souls, I believe it could shut down production pretty well.

The minute we’re told we must do something, our subconscious goes into overdrive, bombarding us with all the ways we could fail, and settles like a lump in your mind, effectively blocking all those wonderful sentences that had been champing at the bit to leap onto your pages. This fear can be good in small doses. When…

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Caught in the Prologue Cross Fire? When to Hit Delete and When to Save Them

iStock_000018797284XSmallEveryone tends to like things to be done a certain way, generally their way! That’s not necessarily problematic, it’s a matter of placing your own mark on what you’re achieving. Some of the best novels have broken the rules, some of worst ones have decimated the rules. Fashions governing what is acceptable also change over time, leaving writers sitting in the middle of raging arguments, wondering which direction they should be taking and what it will do to their sales.

One of the debates I’ve been reading up on, is “forget about writing prologues, no one reads them anyway. They are just a frustrating delay.” I can see the point, but I am still scratching my head and considering that to be a sweeping generalisation, rather than solid advice. Could prologue bashing be part of the reason why are turned off them? If we keep seeing them reported as bad writing, the force of repetition can lead to us adopting the same negative view, whether it is biased, erroneous, or not. We need to think for ourselves.

A well-written prologue can be an effective story hook. I always read the prologue and epilogue. I’ve always liked them. They can set the scene for a story and contain gems of information I can’t understand the book without. I particularly like the ones which talk about a future event, that motivate me to dive into the novel to see how it comes about. My curiosity is aroused. Please note the words well-written. Actually, note them again. Poor writing is the entire basis of the prologue problem.

Have a think about this further. Television programs, such as The Big Bang Theory, are structured to include parts that act very much like a prologue and epilogue. If you are an avid television watcher, you are being conditioned to expect that structure. There is a ‘prologue,’ or teaser at the start; the front credits roll and then the body of the episode begins. At the very end, there is a small, comedic part you never want to miss, which works as an epilogue. Every episode is the same. You expect it to be.

The quickest way to determine the effectiveness of a prologue, on a fair book-by-book basis, is if you can give just your prologue to a reader and they start to care about the characters and want to read more to see what happens or happened, it’s working for you.

Below is a summary of all the arguments about prologues so you can determine your own fate.

Pro Prologue

  • You can put specific events under a spotlight to emphasize their importance.
  • You can talk to the reader from a different point of view than the rest of the novel is written in. For example, instead of third person, you may speak from first person as an onlooker, or one of the characters.
  • You can start to build solid characterisation, motivation, suspense and plot with a focus on one pivotal element.
  • If, like me, you are a science fiction and/or fantasy writer and need to world build, a prologue can familiarise your reader with place, science and customs. Just keep it interesting and adding benefit to the story. Don’t info dump! If there are parts of the world you can’t introduce through dialogue, this may be an effective way to set the scene.

Anti Prologue

  • They can be used as lazy information dumps, rather than building proper story. For example, you can write far too much about a character’s past, bypassing show don’t tell and boring your reader. Try a glossary or build these elements into your story properly.
  • IMG_0182If it doesn’t make you care about the characters or get you interested in the story, cull it!
  • If you can understand the story without the prologue, you don’t need it, you are wasting time and paper.
  • Due to the abuse of prologues, many traditional editors may reject your work as you have included one.
  • If you put in plot points which leave the reader hanging for a very long time before the answers are revealed, you can divide their attention and frustrate them.

 

Effective Prologues

  • Keep it short and write in active voice, not passive terms. Prologues can be a single paragraph or a single sentence. Length is up to you.
  • It must be written in the same spirit and style as the novel, or it looks out of place.
  • It was stated in one article that it should read like a short story, but without an ending. The ending is your novel.
  • Both the prologue and chapter one must hook the reader in, just as powerfully. Both have to work hard, or they don’t work at all.
  • It must be distinctive from the rest of the novel in terms of time or point of view, otherwise it’s a chapter you stashed in a silly place.

So what parts of a novel do I skip? Prefaces, Forwards, Dedications, Acknowledgements and most Introductions, especially lengthy ones. They have no story value and unless I adore the author and they can teach me more about them, I skip over the pages. I’ve always seen them as the part that is written for the Author’s benefit or as a courtesy. But that’s just me…


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Getting Your Characters Help! The Character Therapist

BLOG BUTTONThis is one of the most original writer’s resource blogs I have discovered, and it’s a goldmine of information on many topics including:

  • romantic scenes, break ups and all the soppy stuff
  • amnesia
  • mental illnesses of all kinds, including some you’ve never heard of
  • attachment
  • character archetypes
  • body image
  • backstory
  • character flaws and criminology
  • comic relief
  • conflict, defence mechanisms etc
  • social issues such as domestic violence, cults,
  • physical illnesses including autism, Down’s Syndrome and many things
  • dialogue and character inconsistency
  • emotional revolution
  • marital issues

… and if those haven’t piqued your interest, go look up Fascination by Mystique, countertransference, the Cotard Delusion, Nazism and Paris Syndrome. Plus, it is Christian friendly.

Screen-shot-2013-03-13-at-9.20.59-PMLink: http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com.au

The blog and accompanying services are run by Jeannie Campbell, who is a licensed and highly experienced marriage and family therapist. She has turned her skills into a helpful resource where she “diagnoses make-believe people” to assist novelists. Jeannie also has a newsletter you can sign up for.


Need more help?

“Creating and Resolving Conflict in Fiction,” dissects conflict into its component parts; looks at how it works and helps you generate conflict plot-lines and themes which will add richness and realism to your work. The principles apply to any kind of fiction, regardless of the length, characters or genre.

CRCF4DimCover3lowresThis book is not a “how to write” text. It is a user-friendly, introductory reference on the topics covered, which will enable you to write about them effectively. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover, it can be used as needed.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • How to Fuel Conflicts and Misunderstandings
  • What Character Traits Go With What Type of Person?
  • Human Behaviour Is All About Patterns
  • Using Power Dynamics
  • Making or Breaking Character Relationships

Available in Kindle and pdf formats from this site: http://virtual-desk.com.au/conflict_in_fiction.html


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

#Ebook Readability and White Space ~ Thoughts to Ponder

2014-06-09_13-48-28When readers are deciding whether or not to buy a book, it may not just be the cover which puts them off. Stephen King made a great point in “On Writing:” you can tell how hard a book will be to read, by how close together the text is set. Heavy duty stories are crammed in, lighter novels appear more airy. The white space (blank parts of the page), paragraph spacing and layout are telling.

Complex literary works or in-depth fantasy novels, can be almost as painful to wade through as a phone book. I’ve placed books back on the shelf for that reason. I have flicked through, gone cross-eyed and said, “too hard and too heavy.” With ebook example pages, your reader can reject your work the same way. However, there are tricks which make even long books appealing to a reader’s eyes. First let me show you a few examples of what I mean.

Exhibit A: short paragraphs on an A4 computer page, appear as long blocks in an epub or mobi novel.
There is little white space to give your eyes a break. I’ve started saving my files as epub and double checking readability to avoid this problem. A two space indent may not be enough. Shorter paragraphs can also assist.

Don’t forget, reading from a backlit device is different than reading a paper novel. The affects on your eyesight need to be taken into account. A headache means a book will be put down. You can change size, background colour and font in e-readers, but that won’t help you digest big blocks of text.

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Exhibit B: An easier to read page, though, some readers may consider this style to be choppy. I have no trouble reading it and it’s a relief to my ageing eyes.

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Which layout appeals to you more?
Which gives you a chance to raid the fridge, then re-find the spot where you left off?

Can you believe that both books are by the same author? Publishing Houses don’t necessarily ensure that each ebook is formatted the same way, not even within the same author’s catalogue. That gives us room to move with formatting, as we don’t need to fret about accepted styles. As long as your layout is clean and consistent, you should be able to adapt your own ebook style for practicality. (Though frankly, some sort of set standards would be helpful!)

Experiment as much as you can before you send your book into the Smashwords meatgrinder or upload your document to Amazon. I know you can’t control everything, but if you set your styles right in your document, you have a fighting chance at getting what you want in the final book.


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This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Your First Novel Will Stink! True or False?

Dragon Tree Cover5aaMonths ago I wrote a post talking about why I deliberately stayed away from how-to-write advice, until I got the first draft of my novel written. It was an advantageous decision, as I was able to write without doubts, shoulds and too much technique being stuck in my head. Since then, I have been reading the advice which is available and it’s been a buzzkill.

It’s incredibly hard to finish the last edits on The Dragon Tree, with people yelling “first novels always stink, shelve them and forget it.” Isn’t it funny how you never notice advice like that, until you are in the position where it may apply to you? Then the words appear to be attacking you from all directions.

As much as I love these coaches, I am surprised that I am being told that I’ll be useless at mastering the craft of fiction, until I’ve written a million words, or a few more books. Of course our writing improves over time. Authors should not presume that they will be perfect on their first trip around the sun. However, there is no written rule that first time novelists are inevitably destined to be utter failures, or mediocre shelf-fillers. Leave us with some sense of hope!

I’ve conceived ten books, seven courses, many appalling pieces of poetry, a number of short stories and many articles. I’ve been published and plagiarised all over the globe. Does that count? Apparently not. They are non-fiction. This will be my first novel. The words are jammed in my head. #1 novel = garbage!

Being me, I decided to rebel and look at the other side of the argument. There are many successful first novels which are best sellers, Pulitzer Prize winners and have been made into movies. Here’s a short list:

  • Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
  • Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason’s The Rule of Four.
  • Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
  • Janet Fitch’s White Oleander
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise
  • Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
  • Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain
  • Do I bother or not?
    To bother or not to bother? That is my question.

    David Guterson’s Snow Fall on Cedars

  • Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Melinda Hayes’s Mother of Pearl
  • Marjorie Kellogg’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon
  • Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees
  • Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jay McInernay’s Bright Lights, Big City
  • Brad Meltzer’s The Tenth Justice
  • Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
  • Laurie Notaro’s Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club
  • Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago
  • Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar
  • Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
  • Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones
  • Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty
  • Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep
  • Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook
  • John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada
  • Rebecca Well’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
  • Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Help
  • The Devil Wears Prada

So what’s your stand on the issue? What success did you have with your first novel? I’d like to hear your answers.


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The book lists in this post come from several sources, including Book Market.com and Stylist Magazine.

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Alternative Words to Said and Physical Characteristic Descriptions ~ Resource List

Finding alternatives to words like said, replied, answered and all the usual cliches has become my current life’s work… as has writing effective place and character descriptions. I have trolled the Internet for inspiration and while these goodies are in my head, I will share them with you.

Alternatives to said:

  • frdgtge3438fwefhSPW books has a great list in a table form and also
    links to other useful materials in the side navigation bar.
    Raid the list at: http://www.spwickstrom.com/said/

I seem to be writing in waves, adding in layers over the plot and characterisation. Right now I am into description, including body language. Some of the most helpful resources found are listed below. There are also dozens on my Pinterest board for all genres of writers, so I’ll place that link here as well.


Physical characteristic descriptions:

  • Angela Ackerman’s blog also has brilliant information on skills and talents and why your character needs them. http://writershelpingwriters.net/author/angela/ Her books, The Emotional Thesaurus, The Positive Traits Thesaurus and the Negative Traits Thesaurus are a goldmine for authors. I have never heard a negative word about them. Angela’s work is well written and researched. (No, she hasn’t asked me to say a word, I’m just a fan.)

Please add your suggestions in the comments. I highly recommend chasing resources like this down, they have blossomed out my word count! After too many years writing non-fiction, I have learnt to write too tight. This new venture is doing me good.

Happy hunting!

REBLOGS WELCOMED


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

All clipart used here is from Openclipart.com

Eye Strain Reducing Editing for Writers – #amediting #amwriting

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The amount of time we spend hunched over computers, tablet devices and ebook readers isn’t good for our eyes, necks, shoulders or wrists, but it’s essential. I have noticed a steady increase in the number of migraine sufferers I have met, who are writers. I am wondering if this is an occupational hazard, rather than an accident.

In writing and editing the first drafts of The Dragon Tree, while trying to cope with my frequent migraines, I stumbled across a few tips which may also help you, whether electronic screens give you headaches or not. These methods have given me much more writing time.

The biggest problem is the harsh contrast between black text and a white page. Of course, turning down screen brightness helps, but that is not enough. I found that a soft green or a blue text colour, was much easier on my vision. Also, changing colours between drafts gave my brain a shock. I was able to pick up many hidden errors, such as ‘or’ not ‘of’, ‘become’ not ‘became’… all those things that the spell checker misses.

The examples shown here are deliberately fuzzy as this is my WIP, but you can see how the colours affect your own eyes. When you are staring at text for hours, a simple select all and font colour change can help you enormously.

format edit exampleI got to a point where I had messed up my formatting with so many edits, that I needed to turn on the dreaded show all characters. I have always found this savage on my sight. I needed just the markers, not text and on experimenting, found that changing the text colour so the contrast was high, made the character marks pop out. One less headache… yes!

Another hint I picked up from a web site was to never edit with justified text. The extra spaces between the words make proof reading impossibly hard. Double spacing is critical for proof reading, or you wind up reading one sentence on top of the other! For a great post on the difference between proofreading and editing, please visit the Writers in the Storm blog.

For ease, I began writing on my iPad, as I was able to get hold of a word processor app with a darker background. It helped, but the sheer number of spelling mistakes generated lost me masses of time in needless correction. This is all the space I had to work with and it drove me crazy. Most tablet word processors are similar, so in the end, I abandoned their use, except on the worst days.

Update: thanks to Patricia de Hemricourt ( @epublishabook)  for sending me to this post on Computer Vision Syndrome. It’s exceptionally helpful.

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Textkraft EN is available through iTunes.

REBLOGS WELCOMED


Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Word Count Meters and Tight Writing Resources

2014-10-19_22-42-59A few people have been asking me where I source my pretty word count meter from. They are available in multiple colours and come from this blog: http://svenjaliv.com/resources/wordmeter/ Svenja also has themed, word count spreadsheets you can download. She’s a talented lady! Each year, she updates her spreadsheets, so her site is always bookmarked.

Over the years I have worked as a freelance feature writer, course writer and editor. It was drummed into me with each one: write tight. Do not waffle, remove absolutely every extraneous word or sentence and cut everything back to the bone; to the marrow if you can. I can cut and slash pieces written, to get them down to a word limit with cold, hard malice. (Resources on how to do that are below.) The ebooks which I currently sell are very brief. They get straight to the point, because that is how I have been told to write. My blog posts come in under the recommended work limit. Essentially, I have boxed myself in out of habit and I am now learning to be free.

2014-06-03_10-33-42I have been reading Victoria Grefer’s book, Writing for You. I have followed Victoria’s blog for a long time and have been enjoying the relaxed, conversational style of her book. It is nothing like mine. All my writing ebooks are quick-read, start from any chapter, writer’s companions. Standing next to other books in their category, they may look anorexic, but they are designed to save the reader time. You can put your finger on the topic: task accomplished! That is beneficial for some, but it is not the best way to write a novel. While we need to write with excellence, dot point detail novels are not good reads.

There is definitely a place for writing tight, by this I mean corset strength tight, not just writing well. To be able to edit your work down to the wire and say what needs saying in a succinct, precise form is a valuable skill, however, don’t let it limit you as I did. I love Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writers blog posts, they break every blog rule on length, but I don’t care how long they are. They make me feel good and strengthen my craft. If something is worth reading, regardless of how long or short it is, it will be read and appreciated.

This has been a great lesson in breaking free of my self-imposed boxes. I didn’t even know I was in them. I’m enthusiastic about seeing what old habits I can break out of next.



3hi91daojioResources on how to write tight and cut out word, or phrase, redundancies:



Quick-read, writer’s companions.

These ebooks are available at the lowest prices I was able to set. You can purchase them through my web site as a .pdf or through Amazon Kindle. Please click on the cover for contents and ordering information.

conflict_in_fiction.html    Building Emotionally Realistic Characters Cover    conquering_writing_stress.html        

You don’t have to own a Kindle device to enjoy Amazon’s Kindle e-books. Here are the Support and Download links for the free Kindle Readers for a range of devices: Windows PCs, Windows Phone, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Andoid Tablet, Android Phone, and Blackberry.


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

A Quick World Building Tip: Map Building in #Fantasy / #SciFi

When I have a story idea that I need to churn over in my head, I will often use a prompt image as a desktop and/or iPad wallpaper. The images engage my subconscious mind. It works well for character costume creation, scene settings and this map of Asgard produced a valuable aha!

Source unknown.
Source unknown.

It isn’t as clear here, but on my iMac screen, this image shows very clearly where parts of the image (water mainly) have been painted, how the streets were drawn in to form a triquetra… and the coastline looked oddly familiar. Google maps anyone? It has to be a composite of existing land images.

I have been buying graph pads and putting off drawing in coastlines and the more tedious geographical features, but using fragments of Google maps gives me a helping hand and keeps my work true to natural formations such as cliffs, beaches, rivers, sand bars and their location etc. You won’t be able to read the writing on the top right, but someone has marked in wheat fields.

I went into Google maps and bought up part of Ireland’s coast, just the way I wanted it: long beach and then a cliff-faced cove. Problem solved. It won’t be on a cover, so it doesn’t have to be properly Photoshopped together. It is solely for my own use, so I am not breaking copyright. A simple series of screen shots is helpful enough for me. It may also work well for you too.

Image courtesy of Google maps, cliffs courtesy of the last ice age as the glaciers cut out the coast; sand courtesy of rock erosion. Original design by God.
Image courtesy of Google maps, cliffs courtesy of the last ice age as the glaciers cut out the coast; sand courtesy of rock erosion; water, well water is just great! Original design by God. (He doesn’t mind me using this, I asked. Google may not be quite that generous though…)

If you have any other world building tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Next, I have eight astronomy DVDs to plough through to ensure my solar system is built correctly. Watching those will be a pleasure though.

Happy writing.


Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Are Writers Poisoning Their Future? Tough Love On Bad News Overloads

The online writing community has it’s positive and negative aspects, one negative being that tightly packed communities can pass along nasty diseases. As seemingly protected as we are behind our individual monitors, we are still subject to catching poisonous attitudes and becoming dis-abled, dis-empowered and dis-enchanted by what ails others.

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been having a ball writing “The Dragon Tree.” Sure it’s tricky and I am an old dog that’s a little blurred with painkillers; but it’s been a voyage of discovery and I’ve only thrown hissy fits at typos I have missed for the fifteenth time! However, every time I read up on something I need to know, for example, first drafts, most of what I find is a mind-bending, hdededefheifuhq3118047108ehoowling chorus of negativity against putting pen to paper, or keyboard to pixel. First drafts are supposed to be the scourge of the writer, the substance of hell itself! I had fun. Is something wrong with me?

Writing is fulfilling. That is why we do it. We profess our love, yet, we sink into the negative aspects of the craft too easily.

Ask yourself this: are we putting ourselves and other writers off the craft of writing, by generating excessive clouds of negativity?

How many great books won’t be finished or published, as someone/s have shrunk back under the perceived external pressures of too hard? Why? Because the Internet has become overloaded with bad news about how terrible the life of the writer is. We are sneezing the plague over each other.

There is a difference between, “does anyone know how to handle this? and “I can’t cope, it’s awful…” I know it’s tough being an author, my sales stink too. There are some aspects to life which are a love/hate relationship. I know I fall into the same traps you all do and  I’d love to write posts that would make it all better; but at this point I am standing back and asking, has needing constant support and broadcasting our creative issues become a way of life that is pulling us all down? Is my negativity feeding yours, then do you pass it on?

Are we in a needless negativity trap out of habit?

So I made a creative decision for the sake of my sanity. I stayed offline. In other words, I put on my gas mask and got fresh air into my lungs. There is a lot to be said for writing alone. I have 69,000+ words and my work is growing in a healthy environment of, “yes, I can!” It may be awhile before I decide to come back online properly.

I am not alone in being sick of all this. The Indie Writers Monthly blog has started an interesting series on lies writers tell each other. It’s intriguing, a little complex, but worth reading and evaluating if you are falling into some of these traps of thought such as, “your first book will be unsellable.” Why do we tell each other things like that? Do we believe them ourselves as we’ve read the same thing in so many places, erroneously?

The repetition of the negative needs to stop. We can do better than this!


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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.