Write prompt Saturday, Write a Eulogy.

When you think of a eulogy, the first thing that likely comes to mind is a long, tearful, inspiring speech given at someone’s funeral.  I know that was the first thing I thought of.  This is, however, an actual poetry form.  And it’s a beautiful one, at that.

Like so many other good things, eulogy poems are Greek in origin.  Their set up is standard, three stanzas made up of four lines each.  The first and second, then third and fourth lines in each should rhyme.

The stanzas of a eulogy poem are broken up by topic; the first should be a lament, the sorrow and grief of the loss.  The second stanza is a praise of the one who’s passed away.  The final stanza is solace, something good that can be taken away from this loss.

As always, I won’t subject you to my own terrible eulogy poem.  Here’s one by my favorite poet of all time, Emily Dickenson.

So Proud She Was To Die

So proud she was to die
It made us all ashamed
That what we cherished, so unknown
To her desire seemed.

So satisfied to go
Where none of us should be,
Immediately, that anguish stooped
Almost to jealousy.

If any of you get a chance, tell my husband I want that read at my funeral.

Afterthought- I wrote this post a week ago, like normal.  I had no idea when I wrote it that it would post the day after one of my favorite actors from my childhood passed on.  The world is a poorer place now that Lenard Nemoy has left us.  Let’s remember to pray for his family and friends, and thank him in our hearts for the hours of joy he brought us on stage.

Markets- Just 100 Words

Want to enter a writing contest! Great, the deadline’s today. It’s okay if you don’t have anything done, though, there’s another one tomorrow. And the day after that, and the one after that too.

The contest’s called Just 100 Words. Self explanatory, you have to tell a story in only one hundred words. Any theme, any genre, dead line every day. So, what kind of story can you tell in 100 words?

Genre- Open

Word Count- One hundred. Hence the title.

Sub date- Every Day.

Wait time- Twenty four hours or less.

Payout- $50.00

Don’t forget to check out the Paper Beats World Facebook page every Monday for a new literary agent!

Check This Out- Feedly

So, it’s probably a great blinding flash of the obvious that I love blogs and web comics. The internet in general, but these two things in particular. I love them, and I read a lot of them. I’ve got some for creative writing, some for publishing news, some for home care, and some for geek news. I read a lot of them on WordPress, including some of yours.

What I don’t love, and this is a total first world problem, is going back to my favorites list and going to each and every page separately to see who’s updated that day and who hasn’t. Which is why I don’t understand why it took me so long to get an RSS feed reader.

Now there are a lot of them out there, but the one I use is Feedly. Plain and simple, no frills. It just updates when my websites do.

I love this for a lot of reasons. In fact, all the reasons I usually love things for.

It saves me time, because I’m not checking every website. You don’t realize how much time you spend flipping from site to site until you don’t have to do it any more, and your normal hour long new time in the morning only takes twenty minutes.

It means I won’t miss an update. This is important, because I don’t read all the sites I do just for fun. They’re all entertaining, but I try to keep up with the Publishing industry, and my personal writing education. I also read blogs that inspire me, and keep my writing fresh. Many of these I’ve shared with you during the Check This Out post every week. Any that I haven’t are on my list. Also, having a feed of blogs devoted to the publishing industry makes me feel like a professional, someone who really knows what they’re doing. That’s one of those fake it ’till you make it things right there.

So this week, check out Feedly. Stock it with any blogs you already follow, (like this one) and then add some that will help you get the motivation and inspiration you need to reach your writing goals.

The writers Life- Research Pt 2, Now that you’ve got it.

Assuming you went ahead and did a ton of research after reading part one, you’ve got a pile of facts and figures now. The question is, what do you do with it all?

Part 2.1- Organizing your research.

First you need to organize it in a way that makes it a quick reference. Nothing is going to be helpful if it’s scribbled on a sticky note that ended up on your kids shoe and made its way out into the driveway. Personally, I go back to my book bible. I’ll need it with me anyways, what with its accurate dates and details about my series, so I commit a portion to my notes.

This part I will tab as much as possible, so that while I’m editing a chapter and need to remember what that really cool word I learned for what the feather on an arrow is called, (fletch) I don’t have to sort through five pages of spinning diagrams to find it.

I also color code the hell out of everything. The major color code for me is based on the character pov. I put research notes for that character in his or her section. I do not need to have my krav maga notes out while I’m writing about Victor, and I don’t want to be troubled with them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of charts and graphs, so I add a lot of them. This is why I’d advise a three hole punch, and a big ass binder.

So now we have all of our notes color collected, color coded and sorted by character. Now, keep it with you while you’re writing. This is why it’s so important to have this all in a binder, and make friends with a nice big writing bag. Also lower back pain.

Step 2.2 Now, what are you going to do with all of this?

Add realism.

Yes, even in a fantasy setting, it’s important to remember that suspension of disbelief is a funny thing. Readers will accept your fantasy world rules if you’ve expressed them clearly. They won’t accept if you’re talking about something simple like baking a chicken and you screw it up by making it in the microwave.

Set the scene.

One of your biggest jobs as a writer is to describe things. Your reader needs to know how things around your characters look to be properly sucked into the story. Well, how are you supposed to do that if you don’t have any idea?

By the way, here’s something I started doing recently that has helped me a ton. I got a tablet for Christmas, and the first thing I did was download the Pintrist mobile app. I started making a pin board for each of my fictional worlds. Then, when I’m writing for that country, I pull that page up for inspiration.

Open yourself up to new ideas.

Speaking of inspiration, you’re sure to find some while doing research. Maybe even the helping hand your plot twist that wasn’t twisty enough needed. Maybe an explanation for why your character does that weird thing. Or maybe you’ll just find out that it used to be common practice for Norsemen to put butter in their tea, and decide that this has to go in the book. Anything you learn about any subject has the potential to inspire your writing, but obviously if you’re looking into things that inspired your stories to start with, the ideas are going to multiply like rabbits

How many drafts do you need?

This is a burning question, and I’ve seen people do it wrong both ways. Lots of people will write one draft, say ‘wow, this sucks,’ and toss it right out. Others will never get done with that first book, because they must make it perfect before they move on to any other project. Brothers and sisters, hear me; these are mistakes!

I shoot for four drafts, and a final polish. Each draft has a specific job, though. Here’s how you break it down.

Draft one-

My first draft is all about playing. I write whatever I want, pages of um, love scenes that never make it into the book. I write my outline, deviate from it, think of something better, and write that instead. I make up characters, throw them away, forget their names, rename them, decide love triangles, make up brand new plot lines, and sub plots, give characters pets that I’ll forget all together or just forget to name. Long run on sentence short, my first draft is a mess. I’ll be damned if there aren’t some great things there, though. So keep this in mind, your first draft is something that no one is ever going to see but you.

This draft usually takes six weeks to three months.

Draft two-

This is the longest part. My second draft comes only after I have done a lot of research on some topics I didn’t know about. All details about worlds and characters are decided on, and written in my Woven bible. I make major changes in the book story wise in this draft as well. I also type this draft, where the first draft was long hand.

This draft takes at least six months. It is the first one I’ll print.

Draft three-

My draft three has three jobs. The first is the time line. I will write up post it notes as I go through each chapter that have the date, age of specific characters, and how far along any pregnancies might be.

The second job is story lines. With one wall already taken up by my time line sticky notes, wall two is my story line map. I will use very small sticky notes, and make a vertical line of chapters. My plot lines go horizontal, and I just pop a sticky note with a few quick words about how that plot line was moved forward in that chapter.

The third job is tightening my writing. I try to cut the word count as much as I can by cutting redundancies and word count in general.

This is the draft that I give to my beta readers. At this point I think the book is perfect, and I need other people to tell me I’m wrong. It takes about three months.

Draft four-

This is the first draft written with the opinions of other people in my head. At this point my critique group and trusted friends have read the book, told me to zip up my pants and given the book back to me. My darling husband, who does triple duty as my editor and research assistant, has literally gone through the book with a red pen, and had several domestic fights with me about it.

I myself also hasn’t looked at the book for months. I’ve done other things and forgotten about the book for the second time.

So I fix everything. I take care of all the things my readers pointed out, and all the things that are now so obvious to me now that I’m looking at the book with fresh eyes. When I’m done with this draft, I consider the book to be basically done.

Then I print it for the second time.

Final Polish-

Do not underestimate the power of a final run through. In this draft, I am tucking in my shirt, polishing off all the rough edges, inking the picture, chose whatever analogy you like best. This is the point where I am getting this book ready to go to an agent or editor. Hopefully, this lumpy mess I started with now shines.

Writing Prompt Saturday- What do you love about your first draft?

We’ve talked about what you hate about your first draft. In fact, I believe I asked you to write a great big hate letter to your first draft, and what a big disappointment it was.

Now, I want you to switch it up. While you’re reading your first draft, what did you love? What parts surprised you? Was there a scene, or a line you’d forgotten about but it just shocked you how good it was? Somehow, when I read my first draft again, I seem to have easily remembered all the terrible things I did, plot holes I forgot and terrible fight scenes. I sometimes forget the times I got the writing to sing. Thankfully, I do find at least some of these moments when I read my first draft.

Write a list. Just start writing. Try to get at least 20, but don’t stop there if you don’t want to.

And don’t forget to join the conversation every Thursday on our Paper Beats World Facebook page!

Markets- Eldritch Press

This weeks market is a new anthology seeking submissions for a steam punk horror book! Even if I don’t get a chance to submit anything, I might have to buy that. It’s by Eldritch Press, and it’s going to be called The Lost Worlds.

Genre- Steam Punk Horror.

Word Count- Up to 20,000 words, which is rather extensive.

Sub Date- Right now, they’ve extended it, until they’ve got enough quality work to fill the book. So, I’d suggest you write something awesome and hustle.

Wait time- Unspecified

Payout- Eight cents a word. Which, by the way, is a raise over their last anthology, which paid only six cents a word.

Please, everyone send great stories to this one! I’ve got nothing when it comes to Steam punk, but I so desperately want to read yours! Their last book looks great, and is on my wish list right now.

For more places to send your work, don’t forget to check out my Facebook page every Monday for the agent of the week.

Check This Out- Warrior writers

This week, I found a new charity that I’m pretty excited about. It’s called Warrior Writers.

Warrior writers is all about encouraging and inspiring creative pursuits of American soldiers when they come home. They publish and promote works of all sorts of artists including musicians, visual artists and of course, writers.

On their site, you can read some of the work being put out. I love this. It’s a view into a soldiers heart for those of us who don’t walk that path. It’s also a place for other soldiers to find work that they will likely connect with.

If you want to help, there are a lot of ways to get involved. You can sponsor a vet by sending gifts. Or, you can buy one of the books, which I always encourage.

Check out Warrior Writers. Help out these fellow writers, who just happened to have also fought for our country.

Also, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the site looks a bit different.  This is for two reasons; I thrive on change and I wanted to celebrate the fact that this is post number 101!  I want to thank you all so very much for reading so far.  I’ve been creating some new custom made graphics in Canva, so I hope you all like the new look of the site.

Thanks again for reading so far.

The Writing Life- Research, Part One

Research is a part of any editing process, no matter what kind of book you’re writing. Unless you’re writing a story about your own home town and a person who does exactly what you do or used to do. This isn’t a good idea, because you’re going to be bored writing it. Even if you’ve got a super exciting job, you don’t want to write about it. If you were that interested in your day job, you’d want to be doing it and not writing.

So, get used to the idea of researching. Let’s start, with your shopping list.

1. Highlighters
2. Notebook paper
3. Tab dividers
4. Lots and lots of writing materials
5. Coffee, always
6. A strong and reliable internet connection.

Once you’ve got your materials in order, take a look at your book, and decide what you need to research. I can’t tell you what you’re going to need, because it depends entirely on your book. When I researched my first Woven book, I learned about weaving, spinning, Italy, Japan, rivers, Pittsburgh, archery, basic medical education and Krav Maga.

No matter what you research, you’ll want to keep this in mind; you don’t have to be an expert, but you need to find one. What I mean by that is when you’re researching, you want to make sure you’re learning from people who actually know what they’re talking about. In other words, don’t use Wikipedia as your only source. It’s a great starting point, but not an end point.

Speaking of sources, I like to use the same rules I learned in Journalism. Two sources are needed for any fact. I mean two reliable sources. Not everyone thinks or my friend said, unless your friend’s an expert.

Now, when you’re doing your first read through, keep a list of things you need to learn about. Then, start studying. But not the way you’d study for a test. Remember, the point isn’t to track facts and figures. It’s to evoke a feeling. You want to know enough about a fact to paint a back drop. If you’re learning about a country, look for things that make you say, “Oh, that’s so cool!” Those are the things that readers want to read. Not exactly when the land was first settled.

This process should take some time. How much time is going to depend on what you’re writing. If at all possible, do more than just read. For instance, one of my fictional countries is based on the middle east. Guess who’s learning to cook middle eastern food so that I know what my characters are eating. It’s spicy, by the way. I also bought a loom and learned how to weave. I don’t like it, but I can talk about it now and not sound like an idiot.

Oh, and be prepared to look either like a fool or a terrorist. I’ve got a secret, Broken Patterns is not my first book, it’s my fourth. My third one was a crime drama that included male rape. I had to find out how a rape kit was preformed on a male victim. It made me squirm a lot. In fact, it almost made me throw up. But I had to know.

To sum it up, here are the ground rules.

You’re writing a work of fiction, not a paper. If you’re bored, the reader probably will be too.
But when you have a fact, be sure of it. Otherwise you’ll come off as unprofessional and sloppy.
Immerse yourself in the thing you’re learning as much as you can. Hands on experience is great if sensible.
Just because you learned something cool in your research doesn’t mean you have to put it in your book.
Don’t be afraid to learn about something uncomfortable. If it makes you squirm, it will make your readers squirm, and that may be just what you’re after.
Remember, quality sources, or it’s not true. And I mean the quality part. As my husband just added, I can find two sources to prove absolutely anything from the Kennedy assassination to how the moon landing was ‘faked’.

As a final thought, remember that research can be consuming. It’s fun to learn about new things, or at least it is for me. But at the end of the day, we are writers, not researchers. We want just enough to get the idea, and then get our asses back to writing.

Editing Dialog

I think it’s important to know your strengths and your weaknesses in life. Doubly so when you ‘re a writer, (read small business owner.) For instance, my weakness, which has been pointed out many times, is fight scenes. Probably because I don’t like to read them.

What I really am good with, though, is dialog. Talking, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. No one runs a blog who doesn’t like to hear themselves talk. But I really love writing dialog, and I think that’s why I’m good at it. But, like everything else with writing, the first draft is shitty, and the second draft is only a little bit better. It’s really my third draft that makes my dialog sing. Here’s how I edit dialog.

Read it out loud.

I read my whole second draft out loud. Every single page. When something makes my mouth trip, I highlight it. You ears know what sounds natural, and what doesn’t. So, if you read your work, especially your dialog, out loud, think about how you’d react if someone said this to you. Would it sound natural? If not, consider why.

Different character, different voice.

Reading your dialog out loud will also help you detect different voices in your characters. Not all of your characters will talk the same, at least you’d damn well better hope not. Each person’s word choice is based on their own personality, background and lifestyle. A bar maid’s going to talk differently than than a princess or a computer programmer. At the same time, a computer programmer will talk differently when she’s talking to a friend, parent or teacher.

This requires you to get into your characters. You should know how your character would say something, and what he or she would say in a given situation. I will straight up act out scenes, much to the amusement of my family.

All the grammar rules are thrown out the window.

We don’t talk how we’d write things down. We don’t talk with proper grammar. This is a good thing. So don’t keep to those rules when your characters are talking. Write how your character will actually talk. For example, my character uses the word ain’t. I really hate that word, it makes me itch. If I was writing a book with a character from around my home town, I might have them say “Yinz.” If you don’t speak Pittsburghese, Yinz means you guys or y’all. Like, “Yinz need to settle down!” Boy, do I want to punch everyone who says that word. But it’s perfectly fine if I’m trying to show you that this character’s from Pittsburgh.

Time period dialog.

If, that is, the character is from this time period. If this is a book set in the past, I’d chose something different. If you’re writing a book based in a different time, remember that you have to write how people talked then. If you’re writing a book set in the future, consider how people might talk then. One of my favorite examples of this is Firefly. People use random Chinese phrases in everyday life. That’s brilliant, I think. And speaking of brilliant…

Nationality dialog.

Consider where your character comes from. Back to our computer programmer analogy, a programmer from America will talk differently than one from India. In researching my book, I had to find Russian dialog to listen to, because one of my fictional countries is heavily based on Russia. That was fun, by the way, except for the fact that I had Checkov from Star Track stuck in my head for days. Nuclear Vessils. Hehehe, snort haha.

Take dialog editing seriously. Dialog is one of the strongest tools you’ve got to show us who your characters are. Make sure you take advantage of that.

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