Showing posts with label active writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label active writing. Show all posts

Layering Your Writing Piece

I am a writer but I am also a quilter. It occurred to me recently as I began outlining a quilting and applique book project for the proposal I need to send, that quilting and writing have much in common. Layers.

Quilters gather fabric to sew into a quilt top from the scraps and perfect cut pieces of beautiful fabric they have collected. They work and work until the fabrics are arranged in just the right way to reflect the story or picture the quilter wants the piece to represent. When the top of the quilt is just right, it is layered with the batting for warmth and stability in the middle and another colorful piece of fabric is placed on the back. Three layers for the purpose of making a quilt and telling a story.

 So a quilter now has a fabulous backing, cozy comfy middle, and a spectacular top that is stitched together in another meaningful pattern to bring it all together. Many times the quilting adds another layer to the emotional story the quilter is trying to tell.

 Finally the perfect binding is attached and secured to hold the whole quilt together forever telling a story whether that story is about family, nature, colors, or design. The quilt sparks an emotional reaction for those looking who see it.

Writers do much of the same thing when constructing a piece of writing. It really doesn't matter if it is a children's book, a novel, an article, a fiction piece or a nonfiction project. The process is similar. A writer gathers the facts, creates the character, or lists quotes and references to be used to "tell the story". Next they write a beginning, middle, and end to pull all those scraps of knowledge or characters and actions into an informative or entertaining work for readers.

Next writers go back and revise making certain the layers of plot, subplots, actions, reactions, and climax are placed in just the right way to satisfy the reader and tell a story.

Finally, if the work is a book it is bound with the perfect cover to add another layer to the story. Articles and shorter pieces are bound with titles, headings, subheadings and final "bindings" that make the piece tell the perfect story for the reader. Whether informative, entertaining, educational, or just a blurb about a product the finished written piece is layered with information to reach the reader on an emotional level.

How is your current piece of work layered?

The more layers the more complex the story or article so think about the concept of layering. Layering both the story or plot line and each character's personality will add depth to your story. Layering interesting facts that lead or are related to other little known facts about a topic can also add depth and meaning to your nonfiction pieces.

And when you get tired of layering words, you can always give a go at quilting.

Terri Forehand is a writer, nurse, and owner of a small quilt shop. Author of The Cancer Prayer Book and The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana. She is currently working on PB stories for children and a project book for quilters. ,

Planning for Success

We are having a big family reunion this weekend to coincide with our son's wedding and our house-warming in our new home. The relocation itself took almost 2 years to plan as we searched for the right location and the right home.The planning for a successful and stress free family gathering has  been in the works for over 3 months.

 In the process of trying to plan a successful family gathering it occurred to me that it is similar to the writing process. There are certain steps that I take in planning any big event that I want to turn out so why wouldn't the process work for a successful writing career.

First, I researched. Research included looking at properties, schools, churches, shopping etc for the relocation and it was detailed. I took notes, made calls, read whatever I could get my hands on, and talked in person with the people who knew what I needed to know. Writing articles, books, poems, or cartoons deserves the same research for market, style, topic, ideas, and anything else that would make the piece reach the heart of the reader. In essence, research is the first part of the writing process.

The next part of the writing process is the planning stage where you lay out all the research and start making decisions about which information is essential and which parts of the research can be kept on hold. Planning is part of any successful action whether it is planning a party or planning an article.

Implementing the plan is when you get down and dirty with action steps that make the plan go from a plan into an event or end product. You clean and cook preparing for guests, you write (cook) your words and then you revise (clean and polish) to prepare your manuscript.

At different stages of any action plan you must take time to assess. The assessment gives you the information you need get the project or event just right. Planning a party or planning a book takes the same assessment at different times to make sure you are still on track. Take a look at what can be added to make your writing piece shine or maybe what you can delete.

Evaluation is the last step. In my case, we will hope the guests have a good time, no one is hurt or sick, and that the house is still standing after three nights of campfires, cookouts, and a wedding. In the case of your writing your hope should be personal pride and satisfaction in a job well done and of course the ultimate goal of publication. You want to reach your readers with a product they love.

It seems that when things don't go as planned we deem the project a failure but in fact it is all part of a learning and growing process. In the case of a party or event, changes can be made for the next time. Maybe less cooking, more relaxing, and fewer expectations. In the case of your writing projects, a revision can change things and make your story or article a success. Killing the character or changing the focus of a piece can be just the right thing. And sometimes the piece is perfect just the way it is but the target audience may need to change. It may take you back to the research step but then you continue with the process until you succeed.

No matter what you do in life, it seems planning will lead to success if you follow the steps and listen to your heart. Don't bypass the research or short change the process and expect success. All successes take a plan and planning is hard work. What is your plan for success?

Six Tips for Keeping Active

Keeping active is not only good practice for health-obsessed silver surfers but also for aspiring writers. And just as students of all keep-fit disciplines exercise daily, so writers should also do their daily dozen.

  • Keep on top of those verbs. Active verbs are the strongest muscle you have when it comes to powerful writing. Replace verbs like come and go with a stronger verb to give a more precise definition of the movement: march, stride, race, sidle scuttle, pace.
  • Use stronger verbs. It will do away with any temptation you have to insert adverbs willy-nilly to clarify your meaning. I'm not advocating a blanket ban on adverbs but I am stamping my high heels cruelly onto the pernicious advice which encourages beginners to use phrases like  in a quiet voice instead of simply saying quietly.    
  • He spoke in a quiet voice? What's the matter with whispered, murmured, muttered...or just looking up a thesaurus?  
  • Look out for word echoes. All writers have favorite words. An unusual and well-chosen one used once or twice creates a desired effect. Overused words like overused utensils just wear out, lose their effectiveness and in the end clutter up manuscripts so badly that the reader loses interest.

  • Prune the adjectives. Adjective banks built up of triples are a huge hurdle for the reader to clear. The slim, intelligent, green-eyed blonde does nothing for my imagination  and when she enters the gloomy, ancestral, awe-inspiring banqueting hall, that makes me feel pretty gloomy too. To misquote Animal Farm--two adjectives,good, four adjectives disastrous.
  •  Avoid weak verbs.  Those like seem, feel, think, and the verb to be are reliant on following adjectives and phrases to complete their meaning. He was furious. In grammatical terms, the adjective furious is known as the complement because it completes the meaning for the verb to be.

  • Take care when using passive verbs. Active verbs like people are vigorous and energetic. They keep your writing moving along at a good pace. With an active verb, the subject (the person or thing you are talking about) performs the action. The teenager hurled his schoolbooks to the ground. With a passive verb, the subject does nothing. The subject suffers the action. The teenager was hurled to the ground by the earth tremors.

 Six more tips to follow next month to complete the daily dozen.

What tip would you share as the most useful in your writing keep-fit routine?

 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

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