About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Vonnegut on Writing Great Short Stories

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.”

“As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story ‘Eveline’ is this one: ‘She was tired.’ At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.”

“English was Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench. [ … ] No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens to not be standard English, and if it shows itself when your write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue. I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have?”

“My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. They hoped that I would become understandable — and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.”

Source: Kurt Vonnegut Explains “How to Write With Style”
http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/kurt-vonnegut-explains-how-to-write-with-style.html

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About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Inspiration’s Elbow

Inspiration is the gentle pressure that sends writers into a fictional world of interesting people and situations. These nudges are as varied as creativity can make them. We know it can be anything, come from anywhere or nowhere. It’s unpredictable. Some writers might get a good idea if they were busy falling down an elevator shaft.

J.R.R. TOLKIEN was grading college exam papers, and midway through the stack he came across a gloriously blank sheet. Tolkien wrote down the first thing that randomly popped into his mind: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” He had no idea what a hobbit was or why it lived underground, and so he set out to solve the mystery.*

As he lay on a sofa after dinner, LEO TOLSTOY had a vision of an elbow. The image expanded into a melancholy woman in a ball gown. The mysterious lady haunted Tolstoy and he eventually decided to write her story, Anna Karenina.*

(*See more examples by Celia Johnson https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/the-ideas-that-inspired-the-hobbit-animal-farm-8-other-famous-books)

What has nudged your creativity? Where have some of your own ideas come from? Tell us in the comments?

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book promotion, book sales, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Most Copies Sold 2018 and Crass Thoughts

Here’s the 10 books that sold the most copies last year.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
3. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
4. The President Is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
7. The Outsider by Stephen King
8. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
9. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is not the list that you find when your search phrase is, “best sellers, 2018.” Amazon has a different list to sell you, different from Barnes & Noble, and Google lists quite different “best sellers” from various newspapers and book sites. These different lists demonstrate how difficult it now is to find truth on the Internet, even when you just want to know something as simple as what books were the best sellers last year.

Many sites will mislead you into thinking their list is “the” best sellers list. They are pushing an agenda, of course. Maybe commercial, or political, or just books that benefit their (funded-by-donations) cause. I’m not saying this is wrong, just, you know, saying it is.

You could even take advantage of the situation. We all know that writing a book similar to the real top 10 most-sold books might help your sales ride their coattales. But what about writing a book that a special interest will find promotes their agenda? Why not include your personal beliefs strongly enough to entice readers who share your views about life? Pitch it to special interests who just might promote you because it helps them to do so.

I know, I know. Crass. But these thoughts did occur to me, thanks to today’s media climate. Maybe, next week, I’ll atone by blogging for writer’s purity.

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blogging, editing, Literary critique, Stories, Uncategorized, world-building, Writers Co-op, Writers Co-op Anthology, writing technique

An Interesting Thing about Writing

Show, Don’t Tell?
Show, is writing that allows the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings. This is generally more interesting than telling a story through exposition, summarization, and description. The best explanation I know is from Anton Chekhov who wrote, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Obviously, we must consider Chekhov’s advice. There is a crater on the planet Mercury named after him. But, what does it mean? To me, it means the end of lazy writing. The writer should take that extra step into the story. Don’t just say, Auggie Anderson is blind. Step into Auggie’s world and see him feeling for a bench with a white cane.

That said, I’m currently reading through 71 short stories that have been submitted for the Writer’s Co-op 2019 Anthology, The Rabbit Hole, Vol. 2. And, the best story so far is tell! Not show. Yup. The author is telling a story. But so well written, that the action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings are all there! It held my interest all the way through because the story is interesting.

So, what’s a writer to do? When I think of the stories I really like, they stand out because they are interesting. I may or may not remember that the story is original or well written. But I know a story that is memorable to me and to many others is always an interesting one.

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book promotion, Magic and Science, mythology, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Gods Of Clay

Who would have thought that a homeless girl living on the streets could be a God? Not Porter, son of a wealthy banker. Nor would he ever consider becoming her consort!
– “She’s Probably God,” Gods Of Clay, GD Deckard

Anthologies seem to be a popular way for authors to become better known.
Do you have a story in an anthology? Use the Comments section to tell us about it.

(Gods Of Clay details: https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Clay-Sci-Roundtable-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07N7TFVK7)

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About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Uncategorized, Welcome, Writers Co-op

Why Write?

Why do you write? Or, edit or publish? I’ve never met any who say, “Oh, it’s a job. Just trying to make a buck.” Thanks to self-publishing, the traditional gatekeepers are gone and more people are making money in the writing business now than ever before. Anyone who wants to be a writer, editor or publisher already has the qualification to do so: Want.

Do it. If you are good and lucky, you will succeed. Never before has so much opportunity been right in front of so many. The gates are open. If you’re a writer, act like one. Toss your book into Amazon’s hopper of eleventy-million other books. Editor or publisher? There’s room for more. Stop acting like you just showed up to the ball to see someone else wearing your dress.

So, why do you write? I like to write because I get better at it.  it is about self defining. My writing has been a journey of self-discovery.

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inspiration, Research, Uncategorized

What about…

farsideStory ideas are always popping into our heads. But, we don’t always know if it’s a good idea.

Want to know how your idea for a story will be received? Potential readers will enlighten you if you ask the question right.
For example, I recently wanted to know if the old story about an ancient civilization having existed on earth millennia ago was still a good topic. I asked that wonderful Facebook group, “Science Fiction.” They have 57,000+ members. The group is a smorgasbord of the latest science fiction news, story-fodder and insights into what sci-fi readers love about their genre.
I asked, “If a civilization did exist millions of years ago, what would still be around to prove it?” Whoosh! Hundreds of responses over two days answered that question and buried me in ideas and insights. (My favorite answer was, “Twinkies.”)

This approach, of course, can be applied to any large group of whatever genre you write.
🙂 Advertisers are not the only ones who can mine social media.

Use the comments section here to share one or more of your own ideas?

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