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Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby glorybee » Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:39 pm

It's been a while since I did an "ask me" lesson, and since I was too busy this week to write a new lesson, this is a good time for another one. So go ahead--ask away. These are the hats I've worn that might lead to a question or two:

1. I wrote for the Writing Challenge for almost six years, and won many ECs and even placed in a few Best of the Best competitions.

2. I've been a judge for the Writing Challenge many, many times.

3. I taught high school English for thirty years--mostly as a teacher of learning disabled students, but also for several years in regular high school English classes.

4. I've been a free-lance editor for almost five years.

5. I'm an amateur grammarian and language-lover.

6. I'm a wife, mother, and grandmother with experience with children and grandchildren with disabilities. I have experience with depression, both my own and that of family members. I've been a Christian for over 50 years.

I'd love to answer your questions in any of those areas. If I don't know an answer, I'll find it for you, or refer you to someone who does.

I can't answer questions about agents or publishers or self-publishing; those are areas where I'm blissfully ignorant.

ALSO--This would be a good time to suggest ideas for future lessons, please.

ANOTHER ALSO--Don't forget to put new items in the critique circle for detailed critique. Here's a link: http://www.faithwriters.com/critique-circle.php
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby WriterFearNot » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:18 pm

I have an idea for a future lesson, or future lessons: Tips for self-editing. (Reduce adjectives, adverbs, and passive phrasing, and read your draft out loud for sound and rhythm, etcetera). I've come up with my own list of self-editing tasks, but my list is quite long and realistically unattainable, and it's been a painstaking process to create that list.

So I'm wondering what you would recommend. What are the most important things to check for, say before you hand a Challenge draft over to a critique buddy, and then before submitting the final document.

Theresa

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby glorybee » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:32 pm

Thanks for the idea, Theresa! It's a good one. (I'd also be very interested in seeing your list!)

j
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby WriterFearNot » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:20 am

Jan, I'll send you the list. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

And I have a question about capitalization. If I'm writing about the Word, would I always capitalize "Word." If I said, "I love the Word of God," for example. Or is it only capitalized if I phrased it like, "I love the Word," Or "His Word."

Theresa

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby glorybee » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:47 am

WriterFearNot wrote:Jan, I'll send you the list. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

And I have a question about capitalization. If I'm writing about the Word, would I always capitalize "Word." If I said, "I love the Word of God," for example. Or is it only capitalized if I phrased it like, "I love the Word," Or "His Word."

Theresa


I've never seen a rule on this, but I think I'd capitalize it in every case where it is a synonym for "Bible." So all of your examples were correct.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:21 pm

Speaking of self editing, I am running my entry through Pro Writing Aid (http://prowritingaid.com/) before sending it to my Challenge buddy. All the editing is done by a computer of course, so I am not always sure how to interpret the results.

For example:

1) If a certain word or phrase is used twice in 750 words is that too often? For example if the phrase "I took the train...." appears twice, should I modify one of the phrases?

2) Pro Writing Aid found six adverbs. Is that too many for 750 words?

Thanks. :)

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby glorybee » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:42 pm

Cinnamon Bear wrote:Speaking of self editing, I am running my entry through Pro Writing Aid (http://prowritingaid.com/) before sending it to my Challenge buddy. All the editing is done by a computer of course, so I am not always sure how to interpret the results.

For example:

1) If a certain word or phrase is used twice in 750 words is that too often? For example if the phrase "I took the train...." appears twice, should I modify one of the phrases?

2) Pro Writing Aid found six adverbs. Is that too many for 750 words?

Thanks. :)

Cinnamon Bear


Well, I'm not a big fan of computer editing, nor am I a big fan of setting numerical rules. However...When I edit a MS, there are times when I notice that there are certain words or phrases that the writer is too fond of. For example, in my current MS (not by a FaithWriter), the writer used "kindred spirit" three times in one chapter. That's a pretty distinctive phrase, and definitely calls for a substitute phrase for at least one of those occurrences. On the other hand, a fairly common phrase would be fine repeated a time or two.

Similarly, I don't think I could set the "proper" ratio of adverbs to total words. A general rule would be to use adverbs sparingly. If you're sold on using a computer editor, use it as a starting point: if it seems to be telling you that six adverbs are too many, take a look at them and see if there are any that could be replaced with a stronger verb.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:01 pm

Jan, thanks for your reply.

I see what you mean about repetition of distinctive phrases. The phrases in my entry are common phrases.

I checked back and noticed that two of the six words that Pro Writing Aid was identifying as adverbs are actually adjectives. I know adjectives should be used sparingly too.

I know that computer editing should be taken with a grain of salt. But sometimes I find it helpful in bringing my attention to things like overused words, usage inconsistencies, and the like.

Cinnamon Bear

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby RachelM » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:05 am

WriterFearNot wrote:I have an idea for a future lesson, or future lessons: Tips for self-editing. (Reduce adjectives, adverbs, and passive phrasing, and read your draft out loud for sound and rhythm, etcetera). I've come up with my own list of self-editing tasks, but my list is quite long and realistically unattainable, and it's been a painstaking process to create that list.

So I'm wondering what you would recommend. What are the most important things to check for, say before you hand a Challenge draft over to a critique buddy, and then before submitting the final document.

Theresa


Great idea Theresa! I'm looking forward to that lesson, and I know it will be one to look back on as a reference too. :D

Jan, would you do a lesson on querying an editor (magazine) and sending a manuscript? What are the do's and don'ts? How should the manuscript be formatted, etc.?
My FaithWriters profile: RachelM FW member profile

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby glorybee » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:50 am

Rachel, I know absolutely nothing about querying, I'm sorry to say. I'll do some research, though, and see what I can come up with.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby WriterFearNot » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:17 pm

Though I don't have experience with queries, I've found a few resources that look good:

The Steve Laube Agency (at: http://stevelaube.com/) At this website, you can find many great blog articles about writing queries and a great many other writing subjects. I signed up for their daily emails which I find informative and helpful.

Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson. This book has a lot of great information for fiction writing, including how to write a query. (This book was recommended to me by author Leslie Gould when I met her at the FW conference in Portland. I found this book very helpful for writing the synopsis I wrote for my Page Turner entry).

I also like The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman. There's nothing about query letter in here, but the book has a lot of good information on how to make your manuscript presentable and appealing.

Theresa

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby WriterFearNot » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:19 pm

As a side note, this is my 296th forum post, and I'm looking forward to seeing a larger pencil beneath my avatar soon...

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby lish1936 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:45 am

Now I can ask my question. :D The title for my Challenge article did not look right, and no matter where I checked I couldn't find the word spelled the way I thought it should be spelled. Perhaps that should have given me a clue that the word does not exist and used another like servitude. But I went with it... more than likely a wrong choice.

There is priesthood, parenthood, etc. What about servant hood? :sofa

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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby glorybee » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:03 am

lish1936 wrote:Now I can ask my question. :D The title for my Challenge article did not look right, and no matter where I checked I couldn't find the word spelled the way I thought it should be spelled. Perhaps that should have given me a clue that the word does not exist and used another like servitude. But I went with it... more than likely a wrong choice.

There is priesthood, parenthood, etc. What about servant hood? :sofa

Thanks,
Lillian


Servanthood (one word) is indeed a word. With a space, it might seem to have a different meaning: a hood meant for a servant.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--ASK ME ANYTHING

Postby lish1936 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:36 am

I should have followed my instincts and ignored Microsoft's spell check, my Thesaurus, and my dictionary. Oh well...Why isn't it listed as such?


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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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