Spelling and Why We Must

Today’s workshop is a little different. It revolves around spelling, how important it is for some to be able to spell or whether, with all of our available tools, is it a relatively useless skill.

I admit it, I am not very skilled when it comes to spelling. I’m not terrible, but I doubt I’d ever win a spelling bee. And so I think, is spelling as valuable as it once was?

There a several things that come into the argument. First off, I think shorthand has really made spelling an after thought of any writing. Working as a secretary (or just writing) I know when I’m trying to get ideas on paper the last thing on my mind is spelling. I need to know what the words say and that’s it. Then generally I move to a computer where there are multiple autocorrect tools available.

Which brings me to the second contribution of the great spelling debate, autocorrect tools. Our society is spoiled beyond spoiled with autocorrection. When even our phones and other small devices correct our spelling for us, you know the last thing on our mind is how well we spell.

The last contributor I will list (though I’m sure there are others) is the evolution of language. There are certain periods of time when languages alter rapidly. I’m talking whenever a country has invaded another country, any large migrations, or any big changes in tools or knowledge. We have been sitting in a time where technology is flying and constantly changing not only the words we use, but how we communicate. For example, with our increasing use of texting we use other words, many shorthand terms are standard and everyone understands what we are saying. Now, whenever there are rapid changes in a language, I would believe that spelling becomes a bit more challenging. Whether its new words, or changes to a word, it makes adopting the changes slightly confusing and may lead to misspelling.

Example: the English language derives from many, many languages and with that comes the habits of those languages. So when we have an “ooo” sound inspired by or borrowed from an African word, we use two o’s like voodoo. But when that same sound is inspired by or borrowed from Latin based or Romantic languages we get the “ue,” silent e, combination like rune.

Now this is just a snippet of the complexity, (and my example is not perfect, there is still the dividing consonant in rune that changes the game a bit) but you get the point. The evolution of language, deriving from several backgrounds makes it a difficult task to determine if it is a “oo,” a “ue,” an “f,” or a “ph.”

Spelling is difficult, and why train yourself to become skilled in an art that is difficult when there seems to be no real value to it anymore because autocorrect will save you?

I will tell you why, because of all those people who spell later with an 8, or your and you’re just your. That is all the argument I need to remind me that spelling is important. Because every time I see “your coming to dinner” I die a little. And autocorrect may not save you because you’ve spelled a word correctly, not the right word, but a word.

Some grammar programs help catch those mistakes, but I mostly see them correct fragments, and double words (you know what I’m talking about-of of).

So although we have great tools to help us, and although it can be confusing or we could all just use shorthand, there is still an importance in learning how to spell.

There are tricks though. Some of my favorites are:

Desert vs. Dessert, spell dessert with two “s’s” because you always want more dessert.

Loose vs. Lose, loose has 2 “o’s” and takes up space, Lose 1 “o” and it gets lost.

Do you have any spelling tricks, and what are they?

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Writing Fever!

Hey there! Goodness this week has flown by and I have skipped a weeks worth of blogs. I would apologize for this lack of presence here, but I am too excited because I finally have that writing fever back in my veins. I have spent the past lunch breaks and even my 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon working on fine tuning the first 12 chapters of Alphaeus. I also keep trying to get those dang graphs to work in Createspace… I changed my Word doc to a PDF like Dan Harris suggested. I think that was probably what I needed, however, it was not uploading. By this I mean that Createspace started uploading it, it said “working” the loading bar with blue and white stripes moving across letting me know its doing the job. Then half an hour to 45 minutes later it was still “working.” I figured, ” okay tech difficulties, I’ll try again.” So I tried again. And again. And tonight I will try again. I will get this to work. Graphs will not be my undoing! I am good at graphs. I love graphs! They will be in the zombie book…. They wiiiiiiilllll.

Slight hysteria aside, I am extremely happy to be moving along with my work now 🙂

Now to figure out the delicate balance of work, blog, books, boyfriend, family, friends and if so lucky a little me time. (How do people do it??)

Also, happy valentines!

Business Plan, the Uncommon Sections

So my mission for Saturday was moved to Sunday. Yesterday I spent at Red Rock taking a hike through the mountains. It was fun. There was a man who set up a whole dinner up at the waterfall to propose to his girlfriend. He set up the whole thing, had a guy playing Part of Your World and Can You Feel the Love Tonight and other Disney inspired music on a cello. Very sweet, not particularly my style, but sweet indeed.

Anyways, today I have a few pictures of my business plans. Some are the old drafts but I thought it was important to show them. I think the important things to note are (though you may not be able to decipher them in the photos) the measurement of success, expected outcome, and resources. These are a few categories that are not as common as listing the task, the actions involved, and the date they are to be done so are therefore often overlooked. However, the are just as important.

In the measurement of success section, make sure to log how you find the particular action successful. An example maybe, if your task is to update your twitter with daily posts, you may find that the success is in the amount of followers increasing regularly. The more followers in the shorter amount of time equals a greater success.

The expected outcome section is similar to the measurement of success but not the same. In this area you will want to include what you want the finished task to produce, not taking into account exactly what makes it successful. For instance, if your task is to design a cover and your expected outcome is to have a cohesive, interesting design that will draw attention, then your measurement of success would be your audience having a positive reaction to the design.

Almost the same but not quite.

The last, often overlooked section of a business plan is the resources section. In this section you list the tools you will need for any particular task. Will you need the Internet, good sleep, specific programs, images, or other people? All of these things may seem obvious, but sometimes listing them just insures you do not forget to keep those tools at hand when you sit done to work.

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Also, I know these pictures are not great, sorry.

A Writers Business Plan

I have been bad. Well, not all bad. I have been rather successful at writing this blog 5 days a week. Though its not really too much work, it takes dedication and commitment. I may have missed some days here or there but so far I am proud that I’ve been sticking to writing each day. Now, where I have been bad is not continuing to write on my zombie book or my angel book, despite the available tools, and a genuine excitement (anxiousness) to get these published. Last year I started a business plan and I accomplished many things because of this plan. However, as time continued and holidays, family, excuse, excuse got in the way I neglected to update and keep up with that plan.

I am growing tired of these ideas being trapped in my head. So onward plan and outward with creativity.

I have a beautiful planner my dad got for me and I am ready to business plan it up. And get these books PUBLISHED!

Want to create a business plan for yourself? It’s a fantastic way to delve into the projects, and create realistic, achievable goals.

I plan on mapping out specific goals for the next 12 months. All sorts of goals, like finishing certain chapters, finalizing, editing, proofing, ( I have so many pages of written text that just needs to be typed its daunting, but I can, I think), and don’t forget market strategies (some are best before the book is published, others after), giveaways, tours and spotlights, etc. There is A TON involved with getting that book published and if your a self-publisher, God help us.

Truth be told self publishing is pretty easy (once you get the hang of it) but if you lack dedication, a realistic outlook, enthusiasm, or confidence, not to mention patience, you may see a lack of productivity.

A business plan helps. I had a plan created for each book, each broken down by different categories like marketing, writing, editing, etc. as well as a plan for this blog and other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Getting back on track with a solid, updated business plan will be the push I need to publish the proposed 2 (or even 3) books I have lined up for this year.

If you want any tips on business plans, I’m happy to give my thoughts.

Also, if anyone has something specific they would like to know more about regarding poetry or writing, I will make next weeks workshop dedicated to you 🙂

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Line Breaks

Today’s exercise is a simple one, but can be highly rewarding. The directions work well for either poetry or prose -LIMITLESS!

Directions:

  • Write or take an older poem and type it out in a block, no line breaks, so that it reads like prose.
  • If you are a prose writer, take a block of text (or write one) make sure that all the dialogue remains blocked in one large paragraph.
  • Without thinking to much, start from the beginning and hit the enter key at any point you want.
  • Make some lines long, some short -vary it.
  • If you see a compound word, hit the enter key.
  • Even if a word is not compound and you want to break it up, do it.
  • Now, re-read your text. Make sure to pause appropriately at the line breaks or any mid line punctuation.

By doing this exercise, I’ve noticed that certain tones become the center of the now-poem, sometimes a different tone than the one intended or previously attached to it. The point is that oftentimes by doing this, things in the text are revealed, words that were lost within the prose find a meaningful presence and you discover more about what you have already written.

Besides the discovery, this exercise frees writers who are often nervous about changing the text. It’s an exercise in opening up to editing your own work. You are able to see alternatives and may end up liking that alternative better.

Reification: A Real Tool, Maybe a Hammer

Today we are looking at reification, which is taking an abstraction and treating it like a concrete. It is similar to personification. Personification allows you to attach human qualities to anything, whether they be abstract or not, whereas, reification allows you to make an object out of any abstract thing.

Personification example: That sun you use to draw in elementary school in the corner of the paper, large rays and cool shades. (Well that’s not a literary example, I guess… Here; Even the sun had to wear shades to keep cool. -terrible, but I love it.)

The sun (as a concrete object) does not really wear shades and it is so far from being “cool” but attaching these human traits and objects, even addressing it as he, allows him to be like a person or personified.

Reification example: I held fate in my little fingers, like a dime, in-fact, fate was a dime, my last dime, and I slipped it in a machine, watched the wheels roll on and on with no spectacular ending. (Might be a bit cliché, but I really like that sentence).

Fate, in that sentence, is made into a concrete object, something the narrator can hold, manipulate.

Can you tell the difference?

It’s a very interesting process, choosing what objects symbolize certain abstractions. Is hate a sweater you throw on, bundled, literally get swallowed up in the threads?

Not only is the use of reifications useful in poetry, when creating concrete, tangible moments out of raw feeling is often a goal, but using them in stories is a great benefit as well. Within a novel, using a concrete object to equal an abstraction can help provide clues to the reader as to what is going on or being felt.

Here are a list of abstract words, try making a list of a few objects that could be a concrete counterpoint, a reification:

      Love
      Hate
      Loss
      Jealousy
      Bravery
      Honesty
      Misery
      Information
      Trouble

Writing Worlds that Wow

I read this post, How not to write a sequel to a novel with a kick a** setting, and it really got me thinking about how to create great settings, making a captivating world for your characters. I have a multi-step process in which I create settings for my books.

The first decision I try to make is whether the place will be real or imaginary. If it is real, then the next process is researching the places I have in mind. I start checking out cities and researching what they are known for, places of interest and I also spend a lot of time on google maps, just learning street names, any large parks or lakes, and whatever else that seems to stick out. Weather is another major research project, determining the type of weather through the year. I think if you decide to choose a real city, you need to be able to convince your readers you are knowledgable about the city. Your characters would know the city if they lived there and if your descriptions are inaccurate, it strips the believability from the story and your readers trust falters.

When I decide the setting is going to be imaginary, I go through a different process. I begin with mood; the mood of the characters, the mood of the weather, the entire ambiance. After I decide the mood, I move onto visualization. I generally close my eyes and pretend it’s a movie. I move the characters through the setting, rearranging, replacing, building the “set” until I have a solid world. Then I move to searching the Internet again. I search key words that will bring up pictures that might match the foundation I started. Images that inspire me help me make changes or additions to the imaginary setting.

What I thought was interesting about this post from Michelle is it brings up a good discussion about multiple settings. I think that while it’s very beneficial to have the character move around to different settings, it can also confuse the reader. There should be solid reasons for stark contrasts in settings and, as she noted, they all need to be awesome. Every setting needs to draw the reader into the world and make them want to spend the next 300 pages discovering the awesomeness within it.

My Alphaeus novel that I am currently working on has 3 major, completely separate, distinct and very, very different worlds. I hope that the characters are able to move from world to world without confusing the reader. I have tried to make each world it’s own, by creating completely different atmospheres; different weather, moods, architecture, etc. My hope is that I’ve spent enough time making the worlds awesome, that people fall in love with each and even though they love whichever world they are currently in, they also have a desire to see more of the others.

Fellow writers, how do create the worlds for your characters and how do you make multiple settings awesome in their own ways?