Tag: Writing

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Nine years ago yesterday, Captain Carroll LeFon…known to the blogosphere as Neptunus Lex…was killed in a combat training accident. This is an appropriate time for those who followed Lex to remember, and hopefully for some who did not know of him to be introduced to his exceptional writing. Preview Open

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The Writing Coach: Give ’Em a Name

 

There is an old saying that, “Every person is the hero in his own story.” In writing fiction, every character is the protagonist in his own story, or at least he thinks he is the protagonist. To create believable characters, we have to respect the characters. This matters for our protagonists. This matters for our antagonists. And it even matters for those side characters we plan to kill off on the next page “off-screen.”

To properly respect a character, we ought to know at least a little about them. We ought to know their name as a first step. That doesn’t mean that it has to be used in the story, but we ought to respect the character that much. Our protagonist is walking down the street and happens to notice an odd sort of fellow who is wearing a purple Robin Hood-style hat with a green feather? The reader doesn’t necessarily have to know his name is Fulgencio Z. Buffalobreath, or that his name at birth was John Smith, but he changed to to be more distinctive, but the author should know that.

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‘The actual beginning, though it is not really the beginning, but the actual flashpoint, was – I remember very clearly – I can even, I can still see the corner in my house in 20 Northmoor Road where it happened: I’d got an enormous pile of exam papers there, and marking school examinations in the […]

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If I Were Your Writing Coach, I Would Start You at the Beginning

 

Your first line is the most important of your written work. It is like the door to your house or business. You want it to be inviting so the reader will feel welcome and come for a visit in the world you have created. If the door to your house is chipped and scuffed and needs painting or refinishing and maybe the screen on the storm door is hanging loose, people might be a little hesitant to come visit. If you want to be a professional writer, your first line is the door to your business. If the opening of your written work is sloppy or uninteresting, why would the reader want to move on to the next line? If the first paragraph is dull or passive or even seemingly evasive through being non-specific, why would a reader want to bother reading the second paragraph? You don’t want your reader to feel like they have entered a rough part of town where few of the houses are maintained.

As mentioned in the previous entry of this series, I critique a fair number of works of art before they are seen by the public. While I have critiqued works of visual and industrial art, my forte is in the written word. I have helped other authors develop poems, short stories, novellas, novels, and even non-fiction works. I often come across the same issues in the works of many authors, especially those who are amateurs or just trying to break into the profession. This conversation will highlight one of these common issues and errors: the weak opening.

Action and Active Voice

If you are writing most types of fiction, write your first sentence in the active voice. You probably want the whole first paragraph in the active voice. You want to establish movement in your novel or short story. Don’t set the scene. Don’t tell your reader that it’s a bright and sunny day or that a vehicle moves slowly.¹ Focus on a character and what he, she, or it is doing.

If I Were Your Writing Coach, I Would Advise a Different Point of View

 

I critique a fair number of works of art before they are seen by the public. While I have critiqued works of visual and industrial art, my forte is in the written word. I have helped other authors develop poems, short stories, novellas, novels, and even non-fiction works. I often come across the same issues in the works of many authors, especially those who are amateurs or just trying to break into the profession. This conversation will highlight one of these common issues and errors. I may do more as time allows.

In most short works, such as a short poem, say a sonnet, point of view is not a big deal. The point of view may be the author of the work, or it may be a character made up for the occasion. When we start writing longer works, especially works of fiction, point of view becomes much more important. It seems that most beginning authors attempt to write from the point of view of an omniscient narrator. This is usually a mistake.

Member Post

 

When I was fifteen and decided that I would be a writer, I realized that writing was much harder than the authors made it seem. To take out my pen to paper was something I would tell myself to do, but then I would find things to clean in my room that I hadn’t touched […]

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Acclaimed author Lionel Shriver joined Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky, Staff Editor Madeline Osburn, and Townhall Staff Writer Ellie Bufkin to discuss the demand for wokeness among fiction authors, and the recent glorification of the body in society. Shriver is the author of the new novel, “The Motion of The Body Through Space.

Shriver argued that the left now dictates how writers must assign their characters. For example, she said, all black characters must serve as exemplary, wise, and kindly role models within stories. The woke left has limited authors’ creativity and made books less interesting, she said, by setting a standard for each type of character.

NaNoWriMo Victory: I Published a Book!

 

There has been a lot of sadness and negativity in our world so far this year, but I want to share something good with you all: during the stay-at-home months of March and April, I was able to accomplish a goal that I have had for as long as I can remember. All gratitude and praise to Jesus, I have published my first book!

Even before I could read, myself, I was “writing” books. My mom would fold and staple paper into a “book” for me, and then I would draw the pictures and “read” my book aloud. Once I learned how to actually read and write, I didn’t slow down. In fact, my main issue has always been actually finishing something before I move onto another idea. Being a published author is what I have always wanted to do with my life, but I lacked discipline growing up, and then college and working distracted me from my goal.

Revelations of a Post Writer: We Are What We Write

 

When you write a post, you tell us a great deal about yourself. It’s one of my favorite experiences on Ricochet—getting to know people through their writing, not just learning more about a topic. Did you realize how much you tell us about yourself when you write? If not, let me tell you how you reveal who you are.

One of the first things I notice about a writer is your “eloquence factor.” There are some people who have a gift that I simply love. Their words are linked together like chains of daisies, colorful, graceful, and captivating. I don’t write that way, but I love to read others who do. It is like appreciating not only the utility of the thing, but the art that runs within and through it.

But there are others of you who are more utilitarian: words serve your mission to communicate and share with others. Your writing is often brief, to the point, with no words wasted. You are there to serve the idea, you, your computer, and the sentences you write. It is an honorable and practical endeavor.

Gigi Levangie, author and screenwriter, drops by for a chat that covers everything, including Swedish Death Cleaning, the Erehwon Phenomenon, aging in LA, the difference between a collector and a hoarder, and growing up “the crazy white b*tch down the street.” She and Bridget discuss why participation trophies are detrimental to children’s progress into adulthood, the impracticalities of college, why you shouldn’t give all your energy to who is in the White House, and how being a blank slate allows you to learn. Bridget tells the not-to-be-missed story of the Poodle Skirt Incident of 1992. Gigi talks about her career as a writer and how she’s managed to crank out 7 books. It’s a fun, fast and loose conversation between two kindred spirits. Be sure to check out Gigi’s latest book Been There, Married That.

Full transcript available here: WiW71-GigiLevangie-Transcript

Lessons from an SJW Mob (or, Horror in Romancelandia)

 

Isolate the target. That’s the first rule of mobbing. But who knew it would result in so many targets?

My sister and I are writers. She’s romance, I’m mystery. We’re both members of Romance Writers of America (RWA). So, when a fairly big-name romance writer, Courtney Milan, was censured by RWA for cyberbullying, we got curious about what was going on. We got even more curious when Milan’s gang turned on the RWA board and got most to resign, ruined the reputation of the gay man who became president, and seems on the verge of taking down the 9,000+ member organization.

Why Subscribe? The Breadth and Depth of Ricochet

 

typewriterFrom time to time, Ricochet members capture the incredible breadth of posts on a given day. This is far more than a center-right political discussion and rant site. I wonder if we might roll up a sort of topical author list. Here is my very imperfect and incomplete start. If you would, please share your own go-to post series or exceptional stand-alone entries.

From Gary McVey’s serial history of television in America, to the very long-running, always informative Hank Rhody series that started with “How to Build a Computer, Part 1 of N: Silicon,” to SeaWriter’s weekly book reviews, to SkipSul’s ongoing series on Orthodox iconography, this is an amazing-value web publication.

That does not even touch the poetry (often by Arahant) and food and photography posts, some singular and some occasional. “She” provides both recipes and fine stories in her “Friday food and drink posts.” You won’t find articles in any other publication as good as LC’s occasional posts on Khmer history and culture. I would not have pulled my DSLR camera out of storage and done several original reporting stories, were it not for RightAngles responding to a monthly theme prompt with an amazing, informative, illustrated article on the state of the stock photography business.

Until It’s Written

 

I’m trying hard to get to know a guy. The problem lies in that he doesn’t fully exist yet. I mean, he has a name, I’m pretty sure he has a family, and I know he’s a total stud, but other than that he’s a mystery. I’ll figure him out in time.

Great storytelling involves us becoming invested in characters we love. Even though we know they’re fictional, they matter. We want them to succeed, to win, but sometimes for the good of the story we have to put them through the grinder.

Of Apples and Trees

 

My dad recently sent me an heirloom: A handwritten note from one of my elementary school teachers, written in the early ’80s. The content of her note can be summarized in the phrase “We need to talk.” My dad also included his handwritten notes from the phone conversation.

Here are the highlights, in case they’re hard to read:

  • Gives dumb answers to get a laugh
  • Not embarrassed by his [inappropriate] actions
  • Sloppy attitude
  • Mondays are the worst
  • Goofing off
  • Hiding under the table [to impress] a girl
  • Going to the office
  • Pushed a kid into the mud

And so on…

Member Post

 

There are moments in life that alter history, some of them present themselves as flashy and incontrovertible, while others are shattering and beyond comprehension. The historian’s job is to catalog these moments for the benefit of society. Some historians find the task set before them to be a license to skew the analysis to fit […]

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Pilgrimage

 

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

It was not to Canterbury I wended, but to rural Pennsylvania and the hills outside of Pittsburgh (distinguishable from the hills inside Pittsburgh primarily by the lack of buildings, roads, and navigable rivers). Nor was it in “Aprill” (though from the rain and the ambient temperature it was hard to distinguish the months) but in mid-June. Not all pilgrimages need be long and arduous, not in today’s world where everything can be reached by car — some need only the effort of a few hours, or a few days. Yet the trips are no less profound for being short in time, for what they lack in arduous work they provide amply in timelessness. In English, we have but one word for Time, and that is Time. We call it by other names, of course, mostly pejorative nicknames (The great thief, the destroyer, one damned thing after another, etc.) but we all know what we mean — The Clock. Yet other languages have multiple concepts of Time. Greek has Chronos-Time, which is The Clock, but they also have Kairos, which is time apart: eternal time, time perpendicular to our own. Chronos has little power here.

One might say that this was my fourth pilgrimage. I had three times visited a monastery not far from my home for weekend retreats, and there Kairos clearly holds sway. The routine of the monks, in daily prayers and services, meal times and readings, and work on the property in the gardens and shops, continues day by day, the eternal rotation of the seasons being interrupted only (but profoundly) by the eternal Kairos of the Hours and Liturgy in which it is said the angelic hosts eternally participate.

Member Post

 

Every writer goes through seasons of great productivity, moderate productivity and no productivity; sometimes all in one day. In 2011 I started my first blog, The Determined Christian, and in 2012 I started writing my second blog, Voice of a Patriot. Both were great outlets for subjects that I was passionate about; Jesus and politics. […]

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