Thursday, March 31, 2011

Do More Than SEE the Scene

I have two sticky notes stuck to my monitor. Can you read what's on them?
The yellow one says:
Take out 4 action scenes and replace with one emotional one.
The pink one says:
Must do a better job setting up each scene. 5 senses!

I keep these right smack in front of my face because setting the scene is soooo important, and I confess...I sometimes rush my characters into action too soon.

When I feel this happening, I take a step back and really think about the scene I want to write. I need to put more on paper than just a sequence of events. I need the reader to get emotionally involved!

When you're writing (and revising), look at your sentences. Are they merely statements of what's going on? Thing One did this. Thing Two did that. In CAT IN THE HAT, we find out how those Things made the children feel as they're bumping, hopping, and jumping along. "They should not be here when your mother is not!" Now, that's emotion! And really, if you think about it, we don't know exactly where the Things are at that precise moment. Doesn't matter. What matters is that the scene drips with emotion.

Another way to set the scene is to make sure you involve all the senses. It's easy to describe things by simply using sight, but what in your scene is smelled, felt, heard, and yep...even tasted?

Pick a photograph below and set the scene!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Adjectives Are Not for Wimps!

If you're going to describe a person, place or thing, think about it first and use the perfect adjective.

Instead of pretty, say beautiful or gorgeous.
Instead of red, say scarlet or rose.
Instead of smart, say intelligent or brilliant.
Instead of funny, say hilarious or silly.
Instead of purple, say lavender or violet.

To explore adjectives, click on
Type your BORING adjective into the blank box.
In the box to the right, click on the down arrow to get to the drop down menu.
Click on Find Synonyms.
Click on Go Get It.
Look at all those excellent, amazing, tremendous, fantastic, extraordinary, marvelous, wondrous, terrific adjectives! Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What If?


What is that, you ask?

That's me tapping my fingers on my desk, thinking. I'm thinking of what comes next in a story and


When this happens, I often ask WHAT IF? I daydream about taking my characters on a mini journey to see if their adventures could become part of my story. These adventures may change the storyline completely, or simply give me an idea for a scene that will take up a few paragraphs.

Take a look at the WHAT IF questions below, then make a list of your own the next time you're stuck.

WHAT IF Alisha decided to become an ice skater instead of a ballerina?
WHAT IF Mom found a time machine in her laundry room?
WHAT IF Theo broke two legs instead of one?
WHAT IF Benjamin took the shortcut home through the dark alley?
WHAT IF Fluffy, the dog, MEOWED?
WHAT IF Oscar ran away?
WHAT IF Mrs. Lee suddenly disappeared in the middle of a Math problem?
WHAT IF Karla found a boogie on the lunch table?

WHAT IF Nancy Viau turned off her computer and...

See ya later!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Want to Know What I'm Doing Right Now?

There are very few books I've read more than twice and STARGIRL is one of them. I'm mentioning this Spinelli book in my Work-in-Progress, so I dug it out and dug in. STILL love it. What can I say? Jerry Spinelli has a way with words.

In the copy I have, there is an interview with The Jerr. Authors are often asked the question below--even I'VE been asked this question. I love Jerry's answer. It's simple and wonderful.

THE QUESTION: What advice do you have for young writers?
SPINELLI'S SPIN: "For me, there are many little rules, all superseded by one Golden Rule: Write what you care about."

Thanks, Jerry. That's just what I needed today.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't Lean on Crutches!

I have them. You have them. Even famous writers have them.
It's these:

Well, not exactly these.

Crutches are unneccessary words that spill out of a writer's brain. Sometimes the writer is not aware that these words can be deleted until a friend, critique partner or teacher points them out.

See if you can spot the crutches in this sentence:

Trust that only about a little tells us some (not all) of just exactly what it is that you really think is very important.

Ok, that was way over the top, but you see my point, right?

Here's my personal list of crutches that I lean on regularly. My delete button gets quite a workout when it's time for me to revise a story.


Make a list of your crutches and keep it in your writing journal.

Then rewrite my weird sentence, please!