Sunday, November 30, 2014

20 Writing Tips from Famous Authors

Article by Teri Saya

Here are 20 famous writers, each with their own inspiring and sometimes witty point of view on writing. 

Tip 1:  "What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks, 'the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.' And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try... When I'm writing, I write. And then it's as if the muse is convinced I'm serious and says, 'Ok. ok. I'll come.'" Maya Angelou ~

Tip 2:  "Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you."  ~Zadie Smith~

Tip 3:  "Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution."  ~ Michael Moorcock ~

Tip 4:  "In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it."  ~ Rose Tremain ~

Tip 5:  "Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive where you can use the active."   ~ George Orwell ~

Tip 6:  “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” ~ Mark Twain ~

Tip 7:  "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot. If you don't have time to read, you don't have time, or the tools to write. Simple as that."  ~ Stephen King ~

Tip 8:  "Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, your doomed." ~ Ray Bradbury ~

Tip 9:  "Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."  ~ Anton Chekhov ~

Tip 10:  "Every sentence must do one of two things - reveal character or advance the action." ~ Kurt Vonnegut ~ 

Tip 11:  "Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes."  ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald ~

Tip 12:  "Don't panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends' embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there's prayer."  ~ Sarah Waters ~

Tip 13:  "Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever. Also, the writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can't deal with this you needn't apply."  ~ Will Self ~ 

Tip 14:  "Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!"  ~ Joyce Carol Oates ~

Tip 15: "My advice is the same to all. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. Ignore critics. Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless. Go where the pleasure is in your writing. Go where the pain is. Write the book you would like to read. Write the book you have been trying to find but have not found. But write. And remember, there are no rules for our profession. Ignore rules. Do it your own way. Every writer knows fear and discouragement. Just write." ~ Anne Rice ~

Tip 16: "A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it" ~ Edgar Allen Poe ~

Tip 17: "The secret of writing is to get started, and in order to get started you need to break the complex, overwhelming task of writing into small manageable tasks. Then you simply get going with the first task."  ~ Anne Lamott ~

Tip 18:  "Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page a day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, your always surprised."  ~ John Steinbeck ~

Tip 19:  "The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter."  ~ Neil Gaiman ~

Tip 20:  "I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide."  ~ Harper Lee ~

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Read Like a Writer

“Learn how to read like a writer. Take prose a little bit slower and be a bit more conscious and self-aware of it. And, when you have a reaction to something, when something makes you happy or sad, stop and go back, and try to see how the author made that happen.”

~ Stephanie Perkins’ advice to aspiring writers ~

Friday, November 14, 2014

Writer's Block? Kick it by Going Through Your Photos

I am writing two books at once. If I get stuck on one, I go to the next. But sometimes I just can't go forward with either so I take out my photo box and start looking through. Usually one will jump out at me. This one was taken back in the day when my husband was bar-tending and the look on his face got my mind back into gear. I wrote this poem to go along with the photo:

He looks approachable pouring drinks behind the crowded bar.

He has that wise aura, that knowing nod.
It makes you want to pour your heart out while he fills your glass.
He has the uncanny ability to know what drink you want before you ask for it.
He seems to listen intently, making every person there feel respected and cared for.
The sad, heartbroken souls that belly up to the bar, walk out feeling better….because the bartender understood their plight.
At the end of the evening, he cleans the glasses and wipes down the bar.
He pours a drink for himself and downs it while counting out his tips.
He puts on his jacket and hat, turns off the lights and steps outside, locking the door behind him.
Standing under the eaves watching the rain come down, he slowly reaches up and pulls the plugs from his ears.
Putting both hands in his pockets, he steps off the porch and, hunching against the rain, trudges toward home.

==== END ====


A writer's poem by Teri Saya

I sit in front of the computer staring at the white, blank page.
The margins are set, the font is right, my fingers hover.
What will I write?
I see my reflection in the mirror on my desk,
It is there because I Skype… You know what I mean.
What will I write?
Stop thinking about Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr.
Blank, blank, blank it's all I see.
What will I write?
I’m hungry.  Should I go make a sandwich?
My boys’ photos on the wall smile back at me.
Yes Mom, go make a sandwich, they seem to say,
NO, NO, NO!  Concentrate for heavens’ sake!
What will I write?
I smell the new incense I lit before sitting down,
I hear the clock ticking and the hiss of my tinnitus.
Think, think, think….come on woman,
There’s got to be something in your head!
What will I write?
The phone rings downstairs,
My husband picks it up.
The dog wanders in,
I pet her on the head.
I think of the sandwich again,
And OMG! Now I have to pee!
What will I write?..........Nothing today.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Under the Bed

"I know that the thing under my bed doesn't exist. But I also know that if I keep my feet under the blanket, it won't grab my ankle."  ~Stephen King~

Write, Write, and Write Some More!

"Don't be afraid to write a novel, memoir, compilation of stories, poetry, or anything your heart desires. As of 2014 there are over 7 billion people on our planet. The odds are in your favor that someone out there will love to read your writing."   ~ Teri Saya ~

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Top 5 Start-up Videos - Researching and Writing

An article by Teri Saya

Many times, your editor will send you an assignment such as "write an article about the top 5 start-up videos. Keep the descriptions short and use links, I want it by tomorrow" with no other instructions. You feel like someone just threw you into a maze. As a journalist or writer, you cannot use anyone else's descriptions, this has to be uniquely your own. 

First of all, what the heck is a start-up video? I went online and found the answer, then wrote a paragraph consisting of what I had learned from blogs online. I made this paragraph as unique as I could.......

Start-up videos are a tool for selling a minimal viable product (MVP), which means a product with the highest return on investment versus risk. Each video is under 4 minutes long. Cost of production varies upon the type of video. These are a list of the top 5 that helped these companies expand…..some to amazing proportions.

The next step was to research these videos and find the most popular ones. This was not an easy task. I ended up with quite a long list and had to narrow it down to only five. Researching and cross referencing, I was able to come up with these five that seemed to be the best on the Internet. Click on the titles below to view the described video.

#5 - Active Building: 1 minute, 26 seconds

A program for property managers. This cute cartoon video introduces Phil, a property manager who is having trouble keeping all his tasks in order. His renters become upset when he can't keep up with their requests and they turn into dancing zombies. (Thriller)

#4 - Panorama 9 IT Man: 2 minutes, 41 seconds

Bringing back memories of pixelated video games, this one is narrated by a voice reminiscent of “Rocky & Bullwinkle.”  IT Man takes you through the pitfalls of not having an Information Technology Management System such as Panorama 9. The dialog is funny and even more humorous for anyone who works in an IT department… “IT Man has to crawl around his network, wasting time on manually updating spreadsheets and Visio charts until his hands and knees are bleeding!”

#3 - Pad Mapper: 1 minute, 40 seconds

PadMapper is a web app to help people find available apartments on a map generated by Google.  This animated video is engaging, funny, and informative. With childlike whimsy using stick people and simple drawings, this well done video puts across that this apartment rental search engine can be an extremely powerful and user-friendly tool. Wish I had this thing back in 2008 when I was looking for a place to stay. Just one day after this video was posted on YouTube, Ashton Kutcher tweeted, “this might be my favorite instructional video ever!”

#2 - Dollar Shave Club: 1 minute, 33 seconds.

In 2012, this video went viral on YouTube and within 48 hours, the Dollar Shave Club had 12,000 orders. With the tag line "Shave Time, Shave Money," the target customer is men, but even though I am a woman, I really liked this video. Mike Dubin, the founder of DSC and actor in this video, sucks you in right away with the line, "Are the blades any good? No....Our blades are f***ing great!" I could not help giggling at this cocky, humorous, and intelligent pitch for his company. The video begins in his office in a warehouse and gives you a mini-tour while Mike tells you the fine points of using his product. Spoiler-alert! There is a bear involved. The idea behind Dollar Shave Club is this; You buy their shavers and for a very minimal fee, you get fresh blades delivered to your home every month. What a great idea! Hey, I have plenty of men in my family and, not that I’m a hairy beast, but I have plenty of parts to shave as well. Count me in!

#1 - Hoverboard & Flyboard: 3 minutes, 26 seconds.

This video begins like an action film. Three people dressed in black, break into a warehouse, pull out a crate with the words “Do not open until October 21, 2015,” printed on the outside. They crack it open and pull out a Hoverboard.
The next few scenes are breathtaking shots of the Hoverboards and Flyboards in action. The reaction of the spectators is contagious! Filmed in Cancun, Mexico by Devin Graham (aka Devinsupertramp,) the product in the video most definitely sells itself. Flying 10 to 20 feet into the air over crystal blue water, then diving in and jetting through it like a dolphin? Wow! Watching this video, you will find yourself saying, “I want one!”

Note: October 21, 2015 is “Back to the Future Day.” Look it up.

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