What They Are Saying...

"This book was a fast easy read, and a fun romp. All in all, the book charmed me."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

If you were born on this day...

If you were born on this day, let me tell you, you are an amazing person.

You are strong. You can take hardships. Not only do you endure them, but you thrive in them. You can look back on these times in your life as opportunities that have allowed you to grow and flourish. You can reflect on them with a smile and an engaging story.

You are patient. You can listen to the rants of the crazy people around you. Rather than argue, you laugh. Often times, you get them to laugh at themselves.

You are smart. You can fix things. You can solve things. Puzzles fascinate you, everything from sudokus to how to pack a car's trunk for a long trip. You can install the new commode, wire up the wi-fi, put up the ceiling fans, and make an amazing maggie.

You are observant. Nothing gets by you. Your keen eyes watch every word you read, catching each and every typo, misspelling, and punctuation flaw. You are often astounded that this talent is remiss in professional editors, since it comes so naturally to you.

You know where you are. Always. And you know how you got there. If you've been taken to a dinner at a restaurant in Poughkeepsie, you will forever and always remember how to find it again. Your sense of location and direction bewilder Davy Crockett.

You are clever. You spent a good portion of your life living it. You can boast having worked on tow boats as well as the tech industry. You can see every argument from every angle, and have the needed and beneficial discussions with everyone, from the IT guy, to the financial lead, to the CEO.

You are handsome. Dashing. Striking. No matter how you slice it, you are stunning to look at.

There you have it. In fact, if you are reading this, and today is your birthday, there's a good chance you're my best friend, my closet confidant, and love of my life*.

Happy Birthday.

Unless your Michael Phelps. Nothing personal, dude ... you're not the love of my life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Write Tight, part 3 – The Last Word

This is the final chapter of the Write Tight series. I wonder how it will end!

Your Favorite Words

Way back in Life 1.0, my husband gave many conference talks as part of his VP responsibilities. After doing so for a long while – well practiced by now – a particular conference offered him a transcript of his speech. He read it. He discovered that his favorite word was “actually”, which he used waaaaay more frequently than he realized.

Most of us have favorite words or phrases, things we say over and over again. Words like “basically,” or “really,” or “literally,” (which often is never used correctly... ever! So stop!). Some common phrases you might hear are “you know,” “at the end of the day,” or “it is what it is.” Sometimes we say them just to keep the conversation going, or stall while our minds think of more important things to say. In other cases, you can't help but say them – they've become part of your lexicon along the way, and it takes a herculean effort to eliminate them.

Guess what! You have favorite words in your writing, too.

After reading a rough draft of my newest book my husband asked why I love eyebrows. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Everyone moves their eyebrows.” Sure enough, when I did a global search on my text, "eyebrow" or “eyebrows” were in almost every chapter! I used it once:

    Upon hearing my scheme he raised his eyebrows.

Apparently, I thought that was pretty clever. Next thing I knew (as it turned out, I didn't know), everyone was raising their eyebrows, cocking an eyebrow, lifting an eyebrow … in surprise or shock or ... whatever!

Sometimes, a word gets used repeatedly in a single scene. It's not that you lack creativity, it's just that you were so engaged in writing, you didn't review what you'd already written; you're madly trying to get this all down.

For example, while reading a chapter in my writer's group, the author described a fight scene on horseback. As readers, we were immersed with the action (swords flashing, opponents dodging), but it all happened with a “horse” (“he used his horse to dodge the blow”, “The horse shied from the clatter”). Once that was pointed out, it was trivial to find synonyms to suit her needs (“steed,” “stallion,” “mare,” “bay,” and on and on). She just needed fresh eyes.

Given you wrote the book odds are you won't be aware of your own favorite words, even if you edit it yourself. Such edits are best done with some poor unwitting soul you've drafted to read your manuscript. Have them notice if there are words or phrases you use – and reuse – a little too often. Once you have such a list, do a global search.

And keep that list for every book or story you write from then on!

The Write Tight Recap:

  1. Watch the verb "to be"
  2. Watch for sentences that start with "and" ... like the one above!
  3. Watch for your favorite mega-used words
These small steps will immediately change the way you write, and all for the better.