Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day


deepercolors:

I sometimes think I will never finish a novel. Sigh.

Originally posted on Blot the Skrip and Jar It:

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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7 Ways Authors Can Create Realistic Settings


deepercolors:

More good advice from Nancy

Originally posted on Global Mysteries:

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Unknown-1It is essential for authors to create realistic settings. Setting is one of the elements that enables readers to imagine their way into a story. The purpose of setting is to add atmosphere to a tale. We all know setting is where your story takes place—in a country, city, airplane, haunted house, castle. This is pretty basic. However, setting must include much more in order to be realistic. Here are 7 ways an author can create realistic settings:

1. Use the five senses to describe setting. Enable your reader to smell the soup bubbling on the stove, hear the rain pelting on the tin roof, feel the lush hotel carpet beneath his bare feet, taste the garlicky spaghetti sauce, see the dents in the old man’s car.

2. Describe weather, season, time of day, flora and fauna but not in too much detail. For example, It was an early spring…

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National Poetry Month April 2014


Day 16

WD PAD
write an elegy. An elegy doesn’t have specific formal rules. Rather, it’s a poem for someone who has died. In fact, elegies are defined as “love poems for the dead” in John Drury’s The Poetry Dictionary. Of course, we’re all poets here, which means everything can be bent. So yes, it’s perfectly fine if you take this another direction–for instance, I once wrote an elegy for card catalogs. Have at it!

Haven’t tried this one yet

NaPoWriMo
write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie. Your lies could be silly, complicated, tricky, or obvious.

I walk on a cloud
I won’t fall through
The dog meowed
There’s really a God
One who loves me
North Pole’s not thawed
No need for tears
It’s all for the best
Broadway’s in Algiers
It’s not a lie, said my hat.

 

Day 15

WD PAD
For today’s prompt, we actually have a Two-for-Tuesday prompt:
•    Write a love poem. Love, it’s such a big 4-letter word that can mean so much to so many for a variety of interpretations. Friendly love, sexual love, dorky love, all-encompassing love, jealous love, anxious love, love beaten with a baseball bat, hot love, big love, blues love, greeting card love, forgiving love, greedy love, love in a music video, and so on and so forth.
•    Write an anti-love poem. Well, kinda like love, but take it back the other way.

This is an old poem

Unrequited

I thought I had gotten over you
but then I saw you again.
And in those fleeting moments
I knew my heart would never mend.
I will never love another,
not like I’ve loved you.

How many times have I tried to find
someone who could take your place.
But once your heart is given,
it cannot be retrieved.

Once you were my very heartbeat.
Now I have no life.
I exist in body only.
My heart has forgotten how to sing.

The last time I was truly happy
was the last time I loved you.
And how long ago was that!

What’s the use in waking,
if the sun shines not on you?
What’s the point in rising,
if there’s nothing that I want to do?
I would have done anything with you.

I am nothing without you.
You were my only life.

I know you will never love me now.
So why do I continue to live
this meaningless existence?
I do not have the nerve to end my life tonight.
Maybe tomorrow will find me on a bridge…

The memory of you haunts me forever.
If only I could mend my heart
and cleanse the stains of you therein.
Then perhaps I could live again.
But I don’t think I can.

NaPoWriMo

write a poem in terza rima. This form was invented by Dante, and used in The Divine Comedy. It consists of three-line stanzas, with a “chained” rhyme scheme. The first stanza is ABA, the second is BCB, the third is CDC, and so on. No particular meter is necessary, but English poets have tended to default to iambic pentameter (iambic pentameter is like the Microsoft Windows of English poetry). One common way of ending a terza rima poem is with a single line standing on its own, rhyming with the middle line of the preceding three-line stanza.

Not tried yet.

 

Day 14

WD PAD
For today’s prompt, take the phrase “If I Were (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles might include: “If I Were President,” “If I Were Smarter,” “If I Were a Little More Sensitive,” or “If I Were Born on April 14.” If I were you, I’d get poeming about now

If I were the person
I was supposed to be
Who would I see
My parents said
In fantasy I tread
I wasn’t a girl who
Liked to clean or cook
They said don’t read a book
Music’s not important enough
If I had become
Who I should have been
Musician or writer
Or artist within
Would live in this skin
Instead of rusty bits and pieces
Of what I might have become
Leftovers – life left undone
Whatever happened to me?

 

Day 13

WD PAD

Submitted Timeless Tear

Day 12   

(Day 10 and 11 in progress . . . or not… )

WD PAD
Today’s prompt, write a city poem. The poem can take place in a city, can remember the city (in a general sense), be an ode to a specific city, or well, you should know the drill by now. City poem: Write it!
San Jose, I Think.

The streets wind round
and round
and round again
and come out
somewhere else
from where
you thought you were.
A right hand turn
should take you
90 degrees away
from where
you were before,
wouldn’t you think?
Not in San Jose.
Just because you
got off the freeway
doesn’t mean
you can get back on
again – ever.
Welcome to the streets of San Jose.
Like mating snakes
in the heat of summer nights,
they slither, twist and turn
into somewhere else.

 

 

DAY 9

NaPoWriMo  – take any random song play list (from your iPod, CO player, favorite radio station, Pandora or Spotify , etc.) and use the next five song titles on that randomized list in a poem.

Not doing this one. I don’t do “playlists” and Beethoven symphony #6, Chopin Waltz, etc, type of list is more than my imagination can cope with just now. But here’s a link to one about a favorite composer from last year or so.  http://carolyndonnell.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/the-shostakovitch-5th-a-poem/

WD PAD

write a shelter poem. Shelter might be a structure like a house, apartment, or hotel. Shelter could be a tent or cardboard box. Shelter could be an umbrella, overpass, cave, or car. Shelter could be a state of mind, part of a money laundering scheme, or any number of interpretations.

Four walls and a roof
keep me dry
and warmer
than out on the streets
at least.

Safe from harm
at least physically
Sanctuary of body
but not for my soul.

Shelter is not
the same thing
as home.

Home is
where the heart belongs
and mine still roams.

Day 8

Writers Digest PAD

WD PAD was
today is a Tuesday, so two prompts:
Write a violent poem. Could be person on person violence, person on animal, animal on animal, nature on person/animal/nature, and so on (insects, erosion, cosmos, etc.).
Write a peaceful poem. I suppose this might be the opposite of a violent poem. But perhaps not.

 

This one is loosely based on a scene from one of my [unfinished] novels.

A Perfect Fit

My hands fit around
the marble of her throat
like Michelangelo had carved
grooves for my
fingers alone.

My first and only
love so true
I thought
for a few brief moments

Bliss until I saw
her smiling
at everyone
anyone
but me.

They pulled the switch today
The drugs presented me
For the first time
in my hard life
A few moments
of peace.

 

Prompt was (NaPoWriMo) –  rewrite a famous poem, giving it your own spin. While any famous poem will do, if you haven’t already got one in mind, why not try your own version of Cesar Vallejo’s Black Stone Lying on a White Stone?   http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15870
 

May I rest in a field of bluebonnets on a sunny day.
I can already remember the mockingbird’s song.
I will lie in Texas. I won’t mind any more.
On a Thursday, like today, in springtime

It should be a Thursday, for that is the day I write these words.
I have seen my mind in a saddened mood
and feel myself today on an island, alone.

They will say Carolyn is dead; they put her away;
She was never good enough.
Kept her down with their unkind words.

My witnesses: the flower –strewn fields, the blue Texas sky,
the purple-hued thunderstorms
and the long road home.

Day 7

Writers Digest PAD For today’s prompt, write a self-portrait poem. Pretty straightforward, right? That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of room for creativity. Just look at artists and their self-portraits; there’s a lot of differences in the self-portraits of Kahlo, Schiele, Dali, Van Gogh, and others–and not just because the artists look different themselves.

What are these spots on milkmaid smooth skin?
What is the gray on peaches and cream?
Why are the big blues so small?
Those can not be my eyes at all.

No snow-capped coiffure
Fade to mouse I’m sure
Just fog over sunshine.
That is the kind of hair that’s mine.

It must be the mirror.
I’ll clean it with furor,
Then surely I’ll see
the face that used to look at me.

NaPoWriMo says write a love poem . . . but the object of the poem should be inanimate. You can write a love poem to your favorite pen, the teddy bear you had as a child (and maybe still have), or anything else, so long as it’s not alive!

Here’s NaPoWriMo’s

Ode to Lost Songs

My heart aches, even more than
the arm smashed when feet betrayed
One minute whole and next the fall
A loss not to be borne.
My longest love is gone
My never failing lover
Who sang sonorous melodies
In spring time
And in winter’s gloom
I dream of you.

To hold you once again
To have your wooden curves
Reverberate in resonance
Of bow upon the strings
A melody that flowed
Like waves upon the seas
Now ebbs away from me
Must I live on in pain
without viola’s songs
to soothe my soul again?

Day 6

PAD Day 6.   For today’s prompt, write a night poem. Vampires and werewolves? Cool. Clubbing and saloons? You got it. Lovers together alone? Right. Ex-lovers alone on their own? Sure thing. You figure out your night poem–and, yes, (k)night poems are fine too.

Not doing this one

NaPoWriMo Day 6:  Take a good look outside your window. Spend a minute or so jotting down all the nouns you see outside. Tree. Car. Bus. Dog. Then spend a minute or so writing down all the colors you see. Finally, think about taking place outside. Is the wind blowing? “Blow.” Is someone walking their dog? “Walk.” Spend a minute or so writing down these verbs. Now you’ve got a whole list of words from which to build a poem, mixing and matching as you go.

Very late trying this.

Outside my window
I see a sign
Independent Living
Seniors over fifty-five
Add another thirty years
to most who walk by here
Trees and roses mask
rattling walkers,
chairs with wheels
spinning slowly
going to where?
Listening to the sounds
of big band music
from my mother’s time
Old folks swaying
to the beat
as best they can
hoping that the end
is still a day away

Day 5

One in the style of the Golden Shovel.  Better than nothing  – or not.

I am so tired. I
find I’m mired. I
take a nap. I
run no laps, I
stay up late, I
drag the day. I
feel some pain. I
sleep again.

THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL. We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon. – See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15433#sthash.ydzYxkUo.dpuf

NaPoWriMo today took the following poem by Gwendolyn Brooks  and sent us to a poem by Terrance Hayes – a poem making the each word in Brooks’s poem the last word in his (one line per word) .  Sounds a little crazy to me, so I may write another Haiku :=] , but we’ll see. Read about it at at NaPoWriMo.net   I supposed you could use another poem and do the same thing, or even write one like Brooks of your own.

THE POOL PLAYERS. SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon. -

 

Day 4

today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is about a lune – kind of like a haiku – three lines 3-5-3 = one stanza. (Counting words here, not syllables)
See more at http://www.napowrimo.net/

When it rains
cold air surrounds our house
need warm socks

DAY 3

Still not fully charged

Feldenkrais

Lie down on the floor
Think of very small movements
The brain realigns

But here’s another one anyway – NaPoWriMo 3rd day prompt:
write a charm – a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme.

If I put a piece of kale
in the mixer, stir the pail
add some vitamins of course
along with a pinch of borscht
will I have a healthy meal
doesn’t matter, it’s no deal
give me Ben and Jerry’s fare
health food – I just don’t care

 

 

Day 2  

Very unproductive poetry wise.

I have writers block
brain cells turning to hard wax
please turn on a light

=

Day 1

First day poetic attempts.  Very raw.  :-\

NaPoWriMo

Prompt:

Don’t blame an inertial reference frame, just don’t this time.

In your new coat, don’t pretend to be a lone pine tree in the background either

Poem :

Hiding behind the public me

Is  one I was supposed to be

Then my parents always said

In a fantasy world you tread

Why can’t you just be a girl?

Cook the meals. Don’t read a book

Music’s not important enough

Now rusty bits and pieces seen

here of what might have been.

 Whatever happened to me?

=

Here’s the one for Writer’s Digest  PAD prompts.  Beginnings and ends.  Seem to be the same type of theme.

I began my life out West

In California came to rest

Daughter of a teen-age mom

Sent around from home to farm

Next beginning came too soon

Adopted to a Texan’s room

Just one child raised all alone

Till they were gone and I left home

Began again and then with child

Surviving life a little wild

Many years have passed away

Followed my child to SF Bay

Texas left behind, did I belong?

Never really learned that song.

But California knows me not.

Must I change again? To What?

Wish for 2014 – to find the source


IF ONLY

If only

we could find

the wished for Balm of Gilead

the source of healing

flowing from the heart

of giving love.

Some say it’s church

the pope or cross

or fluttering white dove.

Others say go deep within

just breathe away

regrets of yesterday

or fears to come.

But looking at the world today

it seems that Gilead has fled

to some far flung stellar shore

and left us all alone.

If only.

Cranky Autumn


CRANKY AUTUMN

Crisp apples falling
with worm holes
and squirrel bites

Colorful leaves
littering sidewalks
swept up by gas blowers

Burning candles and crackling fires
the fire code says no
fires spread to forests

Fluffy sweaters
if they don’t get
eaten by moths

Cozy socks
but only if you can find
both of them

Loving Autumn?
It is beautiful
to look at

http://nancycurteman.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/7-ways-to-add-tension-to-any-kind-of-novel/


http://nancycurteman.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/7-ways-to-add-tension-to-any-kind-of-novel/.

 

 

 

Good, tips and good talk last night at South Bay Writers Club.  :-)

Published in Carry the Light


Two short stories and two poems (three of them prize winners) are published in the Carry The Light Anthology, Vol. II from 2013 San Mateo County Fair  Literary Arts Division.  (I am also in last year’s Anthology. Published by Sand Hill Press.   You can get a copy at Amazon.com.  For some reason, a search on Carry The Light only brings up last year’s anthology. You have to add San Mateo to the search string to get Vol II.

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