Improper Words

Today’s writing exercise is a mind workout. It’s a simple process, that for me really opens my mind to new word choice possibilities.

Here we go:

  • First grab a dictionary.
  • Flip to any page you want.
  • Randomly choose a word from the page.
  • Now, use the word in a sentence, but change the part of speech it normally is to another one. So, if the word is a noun, use it as an adjective, or a preposition.
  • Do any part of speech, but try to maintain a similar meaning or at least a meaning you would expect that word to have in the new form.

Colors are a good example. You hear about a leaf greening, or a face yellowing, what would be oranging?

How about the sun oranging the street?

What about the word corolla – a noun meaning the petals of a flower?

What if a building had no windows on the first floor, but the higher up you looked the more windows there were and the tighter together they were built? What if they seemed to curve together and make up the whole top of the building. Could the windows be corolla windows?

Not only is it a word that evokes specific imagery but the vowels smooth over from one word to another. Corolla windows.

Words are limitless.

I always joke with Justin that my English degree certifies me to change the language at my will.

The truth is (I love this topic, if you can’t tell) language changes by anyone’s will.

Obviously, I think there is importance in the proper way of writing and using the language -proper spelling, grammar and all that, but I think about how fun it is to manipulate the language as well and really-how important it is too. Creatively changing the language to meet the needs of a writer wanting to express a very specific idea makes using words in uncommon ways important, as an exercise of the creative mind and a practice for writers pushing envelopes like e.e. Cummings and Shakespeare.

What are some of your favorite uncommon, improper uses of words?

 

Also, check out a review for my poetry collection by Michelle Proulx! A big thank you goes out to her for reading and letting people know about it.

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The Importance of Being Edited

When I first started saying aloud that I wanted to self-publish, I received quite a bit of advice from others. One friend in particular, who has traveled the self-publishing path very successfully, was able to steer me in the directions I wanted to go. I was able to navigate the sites I wanted to use much easier with her advice. Among that advice she gave me was the edit, edit, edit rule. Which is basically edit your work yourself, have a friend edit or, and the best, hire an editor. I decided to edit myself. I know the importance of editing, I know how crucial it is to scan and re-scan writing for all the many errors that can be so easily overlooked. I based my reasoning for editing myself on the fact that my book was a collection of poetry, not a novel. I knew that if it were a novel I would hire an editor, but I did not realize how many mistakes I would overlook in poetry.

I have words like “th” or “thr” instead of “the” and “though” instead of “through” and every mistake further strips the readers confidence that I am a good writer. I knew that, but for some reason didn’t follow not only my friends advice, but my own rules as a writer as well. I think for the most part I edit my own work fairly well, so what went wrong?

Excitement. Anticipation. The readiness to publish and the unintended too brief scanning before clicking submit.

So, my advice, stifle your excitement of publishing (I know it’s hard) and thoroughly review your work, not just once, but several times over, especially if you do not hire an editor (which for anything novel length is the only way to go). I still stand behind editing yourself or with friend for poetry (or any similar works -maybe cookbooks or short stories). Maybe schedule a weekend or two to simply edit, so it’s marked on the calendar and you have made a commitment to your work and yourself.

One silver lining I have is I am able to re-submit my book with no interruptions to selling and no need to pull it off sites, and once the resubmitted version is accepted and uploaded it transfers over seamlessly -making only the initial copies typo-ed. Ah, the world of print on demand!

I feel ashamed in myself for allowing the mistakes to run by me unnoticed and I hope by reading this you, any of you future self-publishers heed the warnings of my experience the way I should have heeded my friends.

With every experience we gain a better insight in which to venture into our next experience. Although I am shammed by my mistakes, I am proud of how much I’ve grown and look forward to all my future endeavors, welcoming the inevitable future mistakes.

We grow, we learn, we grow more.

A Poem to Read

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share another poem with you guys. This one is from about 4 or 5 years ago, and although my style has refined and changed in the last few years it holds a lot of similarities to my current trends in writing.

This poem follows an exercise you may be familiar with, known as the cut and paste or the black out. In this exercise you take a couple different forms of writing, things very different from each other (like a garden magazine and news article), for this I chose a Game Informer Magazine and an article about customs in Mexico. After all the editing, I think the article vanished from the poem, but I kept the tie with the article in Game Informer tight. It’s easy for one piece to overshadow the other, but I think what this exercise is supposed to help do is bring together words you wouldn’t naturally think go together and inspire you to use words in unexpected ways. On one level, I do not think this exercise was successful. I did not meld the two writings together in a way that takes the reader away from both and into something new. However, I think the words I have chosen to put together are interesting and create a story of their own. It has bits that I love and bits that I think still do not work well, but I like the rhythm and the energy, the mystery and the journey and I hope you like it too.

Dear GI

From day and back
No checkpoints
The recent forgettable years.
Remember:
the mind is an untold legend.

A player, stunning,
Far to endure the fight.
Determine
your great hunger.
Page your overlooked
Release
The true.

Yet enter the interest,
my decided Wanderer.
The thoughts, though never the same, have us related.

You will climb a vast city,
The darkness receding before you
To see beyond the flesh and bone
Beyond the sickness that ravages within.

A few first falls
and familiarity forms.
You will hone a finer final force.

You will learn
Warned seals blaze madly
And
Worn fields grace you sadly.

Command and
Conquer
Touch Oblivion.

Facing yourself
Trace your memory.
Captivating
Challenging your
Longest Journey.

Of Shadow Hearts and
Phantasy.

Embrace a horrible ending.

For you are:
Landstalker, Wanderer.

Createspace Upload

Today I am working on creating the print version of A Sense of Light or Darkness. I am using Createspace powered through Amazon and it is a very user friendly tool. I uploaded a .docx of my manuscript that had errors in it and when the program launched the interior viewer, it was easy to see what the errors were. I downloaded the template for the book size I wanted  I readjusted the text in Word. After finalizing the document I re-uploaded and reviewed the interior a second time. With some other adjustments and a couple other uploads to ensure I had the pages on the sides I wanted them on (like the title page I wanted on the right side), I was done. Then comes uploading the cover image. Again the site gives you everything you would need to know to upload your own image easily, or you can chose to design one through them (good option if you still want a do it yourself option but are not graphically/artistically inclined).

I will update you more as the book is reviewed by the site and becomes available.

A Sense of Light or Darkness

Yay! I just finished uploading my poetry collection to Smashwords. Check it out! I think the cover art came out beautifully, thank you all for your suggestions and support. There is a sample of the book available that includes about 4 poems out of the 40 I have written in the collection. Take a peek!

Smashwords is a site I have heard great reviews about and chose because if formatted properly (mine is still under review) your book will be distributed to affiliates like Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Apple among others. Formatting was time consuming, but relatively easy (we’ll see if it bounces back with any errors). I am certain that it only took me so long because 1) it was my first time publishing and 2) it was a poetry collection which requires a bit more attention.

Along with the acceptance I hope to have in distributing to the other sites through Smashwords, I plan on making a print copy available soon via Createspace. I will tell you more when I dive into it.

But, for now I wanted to share the awesome news.

Here is a direct link to check it out: A Sense of Light or Darkness

What’s in a Name?

One of the more significant differences between writing poetry and prose is the use of names. In my poems I seldom reference the name of a person and when I do, that name must fit perfectly. When writing prose I feel my inner poet reaching out yelling that name does not fit the character and needs a new one. So, I find myself researching names for the millionth time and I’ve discovered 2 things: my favorite websites for researching names, their origins, variations and meanings and I need a new notebook.

There are two sites I frequent when researching names. First is Behind the Name. I find this site easy to navigate, search for specifics and narrow down choices. For most names it gives the meaning and if applicable the history, which is great because I like to know what kind of weight I’m adding to character by choosing a certain name. Did you know that Evelyn was in the top 25 of 2011 most popular girls names in the United States? Or that Nevaeh was 35th? I might have thought (if I was inclined to use those names) that I would be giving semi uncommon, or fairly rare in the latter case, names to my characters. The second site I often refer to when researching names is Baby Names World. My friend, Dana suggested this site to me and it is really handy. Easy to navigate and you can save names to your “My Names” list. Convenient for any mother to be or in my case, writer.

After researching names I noticed I tend to grab the nearest paper and start jotting down all the ones I like. I easily fill it and start writing in the margins. So it seems, this weekend I will be starting a new notebook (and possibly a word spreadsheet to organize by origin or meaning) to collect my list of names I’ve fallen in love with. A few going in the notebook immediately will be Dagny, Cardea and Alphaeus. All three of these are the possible names of characters in the book I started. I love the idea that Dagny, as a girls name meaning “new day,” can be shortened to Dag. Who wouldn’t love a girl named Dag? Cardea and Alphaeus both mean changing and the characters I have outlined for them will certainly be undergoing some “changing.”

So the next time you are ready to name a character, know the weight that it carries. The history or meaning of a name could help sway you from a bad pairing for the personality of your character, or rekindle a forgotten or disliked name. For a writer creating a whole person, what’s in a name? Well the answer in this case is not so similar to Shakespeare.

Guide to Poetry: Terms and Forms

I probably should have written this article before my villanelle post, but I was excited and exasperated by the villanelle at the time and wanted to share, but, it is due time for me to give you all a poetry run down. I’m sure for some people most of this will be a refresher, however I tried to pick a couple obscure terms that might be new and useful.

Poetic Terms

  • Alliteration- Repetition of initial sound in two or more words within a line
  • Assonance- Repetition of vowel sounds in two or more words within a line
  • Allusion- Reference to something outside of the poem
  • Ambiguity- Suggestion of more than one meaning
  • Anaphora- Repetition of word or phrase at the beginning of lines
  • Animism- Giving animals human characteristics
  • Antithesis- Balance or contrast of one thing against another
  • Apostrophe- Direct address to something/someone not present
  • Blank Verse- Unrhymed, metered (iambic pentameter) verse
  • Caesura- A natural pause within a line
  • Cliché- Overly familiar words, phrases or metaphors
  • Connotation- A word’s figurative, associated and nuanced meanings
  • Consonance- Repetition of consonant sounds within a line
  • Couplet/Tercet/Quatrain/Sestet/Octave- Stanzas consisting of two/three/four/six/eight lines
  • Denotation- Word’s dictionary definition
  • Diction- Word choice
  • End-Stopped Line- Line whose end corresponds with a natural pause (comma or period)
  • Enjambed Line- Line that ends without a natural pause
  • Foot- Unit of meter
  • Free Verse- Unrhymed, unmetered verse
  • Hyperbole- Exaggeration/ Overstatement
  • Image- Representation of a sense through concrete description
  • Internal Rhyme- Rhyme that occurs anywhere within lines
  • Irony- Discrepancy between what is said and what is meant
  • Line- Unit of poetry
  • Line Break- End of a line
  • Litotes- Understatement (often delivered by saying the opposite of what is meant)
  • Masculine Rhyme/Feminine Rhyme/Triple Rhyme- one syllable rhyme/ two syllable rhyme/ three syllable rhyme
  • Metaphor/Simile- Comparison of two unlike things / Simile uses “like” or “as”
  • Meter- Pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
  • Metonymy- Word that substitutes for a thing associated with it. (the crown = the king)
  • Narrative- Including a story
  • Near-rhyme/Off-rhyme/Slant-rhyme- Inexact rhyme
  • Onomatopoeia- Words who imitate their meaning
  • Persona- Fictional, mythical or historic speaker
  • Personification- Giving human qualities to an inanimate object or the abstract
  • Point of View- Perspective of the speaker (first, second or third)
  • Prose Poem- Poetry in block or paragraph form
  • Refrain- Repetition of one or more lines at intervals in a poem
  • Repetition- Reiterating a word or line within a poem
  • Rhyme- Repetition of sounds
  • Rhyme Scheme- Pattern or sequence of rhyme; first sound represented by “a” the second with “b” etc…
  • Rhythm- Pattern made from stresses and pauses and their placement
  • Stanza- Unit of poetry made up of two or more lines, separated by space
  • Symbol- Something that represents another thing
  • Synecdoche- A part that substitutes for the whole
  • Synesthesia- Description of one sense using another
  • Voice- Combination of diction, syntax, images, rhythm and sound

All of these devices are common in poetry, however the point in creative writing is to be creative and use common things in new and unique ways. So, if you don’t write poetry, experiment using these devices in your own way. Maybe, in a short story alliteration in a particular part will extenuate the ambiance.

I hope to delve a little further into some of these terms and deffinetly more forms of poetry in future posts. Until then, if you have any questions, suggestions, or if you have a specific topic you would like me to expand on let me know -leave a comment, or email me- and I will be glad to post it.