Posted in Blogs I'm Loving

Jumping in without testing the water

I thought I was ready to take the next big step in the blogging world – re-blogging.

I wasn’t.

There I was (3 weeks ago), in the moment, enjoying a blog post from writingnore.com. It was as if it was written for me. I wanted to staple Active vs passive voice in writing to my forehead. I decided instead to re-blog it. A constant reminder to me… active, active, active.

But how to do it? I checked out some other bloggers re-blogs and it all looked pretty straightforward. There were moments of doubt but the re-blog button was calling to me. Just a little click. Just a little… go on.

So I did.

It was published on my blog instantly.

No, I shouted at my screen (quietly, it was late at night). Too soon! I want to post an introductory comment!

I frantically searched for a way to put that in but to no avail. I could see people getting bombarded with email after email as I bumbled around my blog trying to work out how to do it. Stressful!

So I did what any self-respecting technically challenged blogger would do and shut down my computer.

Baby steps.

 

 

 

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Posted in Blogs I'm Loving

Active vs passive voice in writing

writing nore

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When writing fiction, creative non-fiction and even good non-fiction, writing in the active voice is usually best. Here’s a quick summary of why.

Active Voice

Using the active voice means the subject* of your sentence does the action. In other words it’s someone or something doing something rather than it being done to them. Active sentences are more alive because they’re more direct, succinct and closer. They draw you in.

[*The subject is the who/thing that’s doing something. It’s usually a noun like Jenny or The dog  or noun phrase. It’s the beginning and main focus of the sentence. The object is the what is being done and follows the verb.]

Passive Voice

Using the passive voice means the subject receives the action. The subject is being acted upon by an outside force. Passive sentences use more words, can be vague and often lead to a tangle of prepositional phrases…

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Posted in Books

A terrible read

I was going to say that I just read a terrible book. But actually it was a good book, terribly written.

There is no point me naming and shaming it because, what’s one opinion?

A work colleague bought it at the airport. She’d wanted something quick and easy for a short flight

The book’s cover design really grabbed me (tick), it had a quirky title (tick, tick) and the story involved a bookshop cafe (lots of ticks). So I began to read… but oh it was excruciating!

There was no sense of place:

  • The bookshop café was in a famously romantic European city but apart from a few street names not a word of its beautiful language was included.
  • I thought it was set in Australia or the US. Even the characters names were regular Tom, Dick and Harry-like.
  • There was no talk of books and nothing happened in the bookshop.

There was no ‘showing’ only ‘telling’.

  • I began rewriting sentences in my head.
  • It read like a first draft.
  • The cliches came thick and fast.

I checked the publisher and it turned out to be one of the big ones – really surprising and quite puzzling. I find it hard to believe that it was accepted for publication let alone passed through an editor.

As someone hoping to one day publish a novel, should this make me hopeful or despondent?

Posted in The Beach

A little repetitive

Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves. Well-known authors have favourite words and phrases that seep into their books. I don’t think it’s intentional. It just is.

But there is a difference between endearing expressions and annoying repetitiveness.

Every now and then someone in my writers’ group will point out words or phrases I use alot. When I do a ‘find’ later on my laptop, I’m always relieved to see my use is never too out of control.

Nevertheless, I add them to a ‘repetitive words’ list. The point being that I’ll run a ‘find’ through my finished manuscript to see where they are overused.

Writers’ group feedback is a combination of many things: positive criticism, small edits, structural points, continuity issues, questions and so on.

Today I was writing up feedback for a particular chapter in The Beach and noticed the words ‘a little’ crossed out.

‘… she said, her voice a little shaky.’

I liked it. The edit, that is. ‘a little’ in this context wasn’t needed. It was fluff.

Out of curiosity I did a ‘find’ in my nearly finished 70,000+ words first draft.

The phrase ‘a little’ came up 287 times!

Staggering!

I wasn’t expecting that.

An endearing expression or annoying repetitiveness?

Posted in Books

A Several Plot

I just read an amazing book: A Several Plot by Eugenie Freed.

It is historical fiction. A story about a beautiful woman, Emilia Bassano Lanyer, daughter of a Court musician.

Emilia is thought to be the ‘Dark Lady’ Shakespeare refers to in his Sonnets.

The book follows her life where as a child, in 1569, she is taken from her home to be a ‘companion’ to the child of a noble family. She is lucky enough to become educated and is an accomplished musician in her own right.

She becomes mistress to Lord Hunsdon who is Queen Elizabeth’s favourite cousin. This affords her a more glamourous life than the one she has come from. However when she falls pregnant, the fairy tale is over.

She is forced into a marriage of convenience with a relative (by marriage). Then she meets a young Will Shakespeare and they embark on a passionate affair.

The book is so beautifully written and easy to read, I found it hard to put down. I loved being immersed in the England of the late 1500’s and early 1600’s; reading about the tangled lives of the aristocracy; and of course William Shakespeare’s genius.

I also love that Emilia was portrayed as a strong woman who believes in herself and the rights of women in a time where women had no rights.

I’m off to do a bit of googling to find out more about her!

Posted in Life

Wishful writing

 

Life is spinning forward way too fast. Thoughts in perpetual motion. Only a few reach my diary and notepad. Crucial details for my story, blog, life.

If only there was a way to press pause, rewind and replay.

In the car, waiting in morning traffic, my head in the story I’m writing, the next chapter is being written. I rummage around in the car console for the USB and plug it in. Three traffic lights later, it’s enough writing. I park my car.

Tonight, I’ll download it to my laptop and cut and paste to my manuscript.

Walking to work I see something that jogs a memory, an interesting subject for a blog. I give the idea some space to expand and because I like to keep my blog posts short, I try not to get side tracked as I wait to cross a busy intersection.

Later, at home, I’ll load it to my blog, edit and click publish.

A productive writing day already and the day has only just begun.

If only.

 

Posted in Life

Lost: One blogger’s voice

My blogging voice froze, then deserted me.

I have been doing a fair bit of reading other people’s blogs. Maybe a bit more than usual. It’s left me with a severe case of blog envy. These blogs are witty, clever, sharp, and insightful and dare I say, so enjoyable. The more I read, the more the blogger in me has retreated. I’ve became blogless: unable to form a coherent blog.

I still think I’m pretty new at this blogging thing so there wasn’t a whole lot to retreat from. Nevertheless, I’ve been floundering in ‘bloggers void’ ever since. The place where words and ideas form but don’t go anywhere.

This brain dump blah blah (in a good way) flair – that many writers have where every word that drops from their lips to their blogs is a pearl – is not one I inherited or am even close to developing.

Saying that out loud is a little liberating actually!

Maybe all is not lost.