Tag Archives: fiction

Thursday Night Ramblings 2/23/17

This week has been pretty hectic, so I haven’t had time for a post until tonight. Right now, I’m in Chattanooga, preparing for Con Nooga this weekend. This is my first public appearance in two years, so I’m both excited and nervous. Hopefully it goes well. 

I’m going to attempt a couple of posts from the convention, including images from the show. There are usually some pretty good cosplays at this one, so I’m excited to see what’s in store this year. In the past, I’ve always had a booth but since everything I do is Kindle exvlusive now, I’m free to roam around. 

Also, I’ve gotten a few glimpses at the cover for book five, and so far I’m extremely pleased with the work. Can’t wait to share it with you when it’s ready.

That’s all for now. Check back tomorrow evening for some Con Nooga Ramblings. 

Wednesday Night Ramblings – 2/15/17

TheProfessor

An aspiring writer asked me to share my process for outlining. First, let me say that there’s no one right way to outline. If you find a process that works for you, follow it as long as it feeds your creativity. The process I’ll describe is mine and works for me, but it might not be the best fit for you. So please keep in mind that anything that doesn’t help should be discarded. Only hold onto the pieces that allow your writing to flow. Also, this is my process for outlining a novel, and there are different processes for other types of writing.

My first step is to figure out the beginning and the ending of the book. I need to have a rough idea of those two before I can do anything else. Typically, I’ll sketch out a few notes about each, but for the most part, the details are just in my head. One thing to keep in mind here, however, is that the ending I envision beforehand may not be the final form. In fact, there are almost always changes and alterations as the story comes into focus, but I have a general idea of where the story will stop.

From there, I sketch out each chapter individually, noting the primary scenes. I jot notes to myself on the characters involved and the basic components. These are usually in keyword form that will trigger my memory later. What I try to develop is a skeleton of the entire book so that I have a clear vision of the overall story arc before I begin writing. Much like the ending, the scenes that are developed during the outline may change through the course of the writing, especially as the characters surprise me in the flow of the action.

When I begin writing, I refer back to the outline regularly to make sure I’m staying on track with the overall story, but I also make changes to it as the story evolves. Quite often, I’ll realize that a scene belongs in a different chapter to make time line up, or I’ll scrap one altogether because it’s just not needed. Also, I may realize that a new scene is needed because some details are missing. However, by the time the book is complete, the outline and the book remain relatively consistent with each other.

So that’s my basic process. It ends up being fairly middle of the road between a rigid plotter and a seat of the pants writer, and for me, this allows me the best of both worlds. I have a good idea where I’m going and how I’m getting there, but I also have the latitude to allow the story to grow organically. Hope that this has been useful for you if you’re an aspiring writer, and for the rest of you, I hope this has been an entertaining insight into the mind of a writer.

Monday Evening Ramblings

I went to Chattanooga to spend Thanksgiving with my friends Leslie and James, who were gracious enough to invite me down. We had a great time and ate way too much food. It was probably my most enjoyable Thanksgiving in 8-9 years. Planning to go back and spend some more time with them soon, probably before Christmas.

Friday was my 44th birthday. Got to go out to eat with my parents and then spent the evening with a friend. Probably my most relaxing and enjoyable birthday in 8-9 years, too. No stress, no drama, no nonsense. Just good food, good conversation, and good pumpkin pie.

I’m currently up to Chapter 11 on book five. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, Chapter 10 might be the most intense writing of my career. Hopefully, my editor and beta readers will agree with me that book five is the best book in the series. That’s the reason why I’m so infrequent on the blog. When I’m in the middle of a book like this, I get serious tunnel vision and don’t write on much else.

Right now, my thoughts and prayers are with all of my friends and loved ones in Sevier County. The fires are unbelievable and many people I care about are under a mandatory evacuation from their homes. We desperately need rain in East Tennessee. Not sure I’ve ever seen it this dry here, not even during that terrible drought in the 80s. November is usually one of our wettest months, and so far, we’ve had .2 of an inch of rain this month.

That’s all for now. Hope everyone is safe and well.

Vocabulary Wednesday – August 9, 2016

TheProfessor
In 1989, I suffered a head injury (you can read about it here). One of the long-term consequences I’ve dealt with is some minor damage to one of the vocabulary centers of my brain. As a result, I sometimes struggle with word recall and constantly forget words if I do not use them regularly (one of the great ironies of my life is that I’m a writer who can’t think of words). Therefore, I have to work on relearning words perpetually because a strong vocabulary is the foundation for any writer.

For me, the easiest way to study words is with flash cards. I take a standard index card and write the word on one side and the part of speech and definition on the other. Then, I can exercise both learning the definition and recalling the word itself, both of which require diligence on my part because of the injury. You may want to try different techniques to find the right fit for you, but I do recommend trying the flash card method first because it’s simple and effective.

Each Wednesday, I’ll share 20 new words that I think are important for you to know as a writer or are just cool words. If you can learn these entries, by the end of the year you will have improved your vocabulary by 1,040 words. Keep that up for a few years, and you’ll have a world class vocabulary. One note on my word choices, because I have to constantly relearn words, some of these choices may come across as elementary to you, and if so, please accept my apologies. Now, without further ado, here are the first 20:

Abattoir – (n) a slaughterhouse. [origin is from the French word abatt – to slaughter or fell. First appeared in English in the early 1800’s] Usage: The abattoir sat down in a secluded dale, and a peculiar smell clung to it like a drenched cloak, the smell of blood and entrails and death.

Abdicate – (v) renounce or relinquish an office, power, or right. [origin is from the Latin word abdicātus – renounce. First appeared in English in the mid-1500’s] Usage: As his faculties began to decline, the company president decided to abdicate his position in order to protect the company’s best interests.

Acquiesce – (v) to yield; to submit; to agree; to consent. [origin is from the Latin word acquiēscere – to find rest in. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: Once he realized that his position was hopeless, the general acquiesced to the terms of surrender rather than needlessly sacrifice his soldiers.

Acrid – (adj) sharp or biting to the taste or smell; pungent; severe. [origin is from the Latin  ācr- (stem of ācer)  – sharp, sour. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: The acrid ale nearly made him gag, but he drank the full tankard, not wanting to offend his host.

Adulate – (v) show feigned devotion to; flatter servilely. [origin is from the Middle English < Middle French < Latin adūlātiōn- (stem of adūlātiō) servile flattery, fawning. First appeared in English in the late 1700’s] Usage: Sycophants will adulate rather than share a hard truth and risk expulsion from the inner circle.

Alacrity – (n) cheerful willingness. [origin is from the Latin word alacritās – lively. First appeared in English in the early 1500’s] Usage: The captain’s alacrity to take on any assignment was contagious to his subalterns.

Anathema – (n) denunciation; solemn curse; something accursed. [origin is Latin and Greek. First appeared in English in the early 1500’s] Usage: As the smoke of battle cleared and she saw the wreckage of bodies, the doctor whispered an anathema at all who saber rattle and call forth the horrors.

Antipathy – (n) dislike for something. [origin is from the Latin word antipathīa and the Greek word antipátheia – aversion. First appeared in English in the late 1500’s ] Usage: Like most night owls, my antipathy for morning and morning people is quite acute.

Apogee – (n) the point of greatest distance from earth in an orbit. [origin is from the French word apogée. First appeared in English in the late 1500’s] Usage: As the satellite reached its apogee, mission control breathed a sigh of relief that all had gone well.

Apoplectic – (adj) of or related to apoplexy (see next entry); angry or furious. [origin is Late Latin apoplēcticus < Greek apoplēktikós pertaining to (paralytic) stroke. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: The combination of poor diet, lack of exercise, and extreme stress had made him the perfect candidate for an apoplectic event.

Apoplexy – (n) loss of consciousness or mobility due to sudden blood loss to the brain; to suffer a stroke. [origin is Late Latin apoplēcticus < Greek apoplēktikós pertaining to (paralytic) stroke. First appeared in English in the early 1600’s] Usage: The apoplexy left her face paralyzed on the left side, which curled her mouth into a perpetual sneer.

Apotheosis – (n) glorified personification of a principle or idea. [origin is Late Latin and Greek. First appeared in English in the late 1500’s] Usage: Michael Jordan is the apotheosis of a competitor, as his desire to win and be the best has encompassed every facet of his life.

Ardent – (adj) fervent; intense; passionate; burning; fiery; glowing. [origin is Latin. First appeared in English in the mid-1300’s] Usage: She had an ardent desire to create, to push boundaries, to make the world more beautiful than it was yesterday.

Ardor – (n) intensity of feeling; zeal; passion; fiery heat. [origin is from Middle English ardure – to burn. First appeared in English in the mid-1300’s] Usage: As he gazed upon the completed project, his eyes sparkling with delight, his ardor for his work was evident.

Arrogate – (v) assume, demand, or claim unduly [origin is from  Latin arrogātus – appropriated, assumed, questioned. First appeared in English in the mid-1500’s] Usage: Our politicians have been arrogating more and more power for themselves for decades, eroding our civil liberties and trampling the Constitution in the process.

Ascetic – (adj) extreme in self-restraint or self-denial [origin is from  Greek askētikós – subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking. First appeared in English in the mid-1600’s] Usage: As he trained for his upcoming fight, the boxer lived an ascetic lifestyle, denying himself even the most basic luxuries like air-conditioning.

Ascetic – (n) a hermit; one who practices spiritual self-denial. [origin is from  Greek askētikós – subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking. First appeared in English in the mid-1600’s] Usage: The ascetic lived alone, far from the commotion of civilized life, and each day, he reveled in the simplicity of existing.

Asperity – (n) harshness of temper; severity [origin is from late Middle English asperite. First appeared in English in the early 1200’s] Usage: As with most bullies, her asperity could explode at any moment, erupting for even the most trivial of issues.

Assiduous – (adj) diligent; attentive; unremitting [origin is from the  Latin word assiduus – to sit near, beside,dwell close to. First appeared in English in the mid-1500’s] Usage: An assiduous attention to detail is imperative for polishing a manuscript into a publishable novel.

Atavism – (n) a reversion to distant hereditary traits; a throwback. [origin is from  the Latin word atav – remote ancestor. First appeared in English in the mid-1800’s] Usage: The atavism of his agrarian ancestors shone through as he tilled the soil and wrought sustenance from the land.

Atavistic – (adj) of or pertaining to atavism; reverting to or suggesting characteristics of a remote ancestor or primitive type. [origin is from  the Latin word atav – remote ancestor. First appeared in English in the mid-1800’s] Usage: An atavistic instinct overcame her as she battled the assailant, and a primal rage surged through her as she pummeled him bloody.

Because of the couple of repetitions, you get off easy this week and only have to learn 18 words. Next week, we’ll move beyond the A’s. Happy learning.

Introducing Professor Write

TheProfessor

Welcome to Professor Write: Your Online Writing Classroom. This site will serve as your place to sharpen your writing skills, explore your imagination, and most importantly find your voice.

The central focus of this website will be the Professor Write Video Lecture Series.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow the series as we cover the essentials for developing your writing skills. Designed for college students and aspiring writers, the videos will cover the fundamentals for honing your writing skills at your own pace and on your own time. Each Monday, I’ll add links to the new videos.

Wednesdays will be devoted to vocabulary with 20 new words added weekly. I’ll cover definitions, etymologies, and usages so that you can build a world class vocabulary.

On Fridays, I’ll answer writing related questions that I receive through the week. You can leave a comment anywhere on the blog, and I’ll attempt to answer your writing-related question as honestly and clearly as I can.

On Saturdays, I’ll share a book review of a book you should be studying if you are an aspiring writer.  From Anton Myrer to George R.R. Martin, I’ll share my take on what you can glean from these literary masters.

And from time to time, I’ll still post one of my ramblings on some topic that sparks my interest. So please, check back often for all of these exciting new segments, and if you know someone who needs to improve their writing skills, send them to Professor Write.

Creative Writing Ramblings

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This is the only creative writing manual you’ll ever need.

Chapter One – Prewriting

Come up with the seed of an idea. Ponder on it; think about it; dream about it. Get to know your characters and listen to them. They’ll tell you the story. Do some research to learn about the subjects you’ll need to know to build your world. If you need an explanation as to why that’s important, you have no business trying to write fiction. Also, read. A lot.

Build as much of an outline as you need to get started. Do what works for you. If you don’t know yet, do something and see how it goes. If that doesn’t work, scrap it and try something else. Keep all your notes; bookmark internet pages; scribble on napkins; text yourself. Have some kind of plan before you start writing.

Chapter Two – Writing

Find the self-discipline to write every day, at least four or five days a week. Set realistic weekly page goals and meet them. Always remember, if you create one page a day every day five days a week, at the end of the year, you’ll have a complete rough draft. So stop making excuses and go write. Don’t wait for next November. Start today. Try to write at the same time and place if you can. If that doesn’t work for you, write when and where you can.

Don’t worry about mistakes. You’re going to make them. Lots of them. If you worry about mistakes you’ll never finish anything. Just write. Allow yourself to take chances and fail. Write stupid crap; write incoherent nonsense; write long-winded, poetic sentences full of symbolism; write short, declarative sentences; write awful dialogue. Just write and don’t think about it.

Listen to your characters and write what they tell you. Don’t interrupt them; damn sure, don’t contradict them; listen to them. They know the story better than you ever will. Trust them.

Chapter Three – Rewriting

Let someone read your rough draft and rip it to pieces. Some people prefer working one-on-one; others prefer writing groups. Do what works for you. Let them bleed all over it and put your ego in check. Your ego is stupid and selfish and doesn’t care about your story. Look closely at the feedback; ponder it; weigh it. Fix what you agree with. Keep what you don’t believe needs changing as long as it’s not your stupid ego talking.

Find all of that crap and nonsense and terrible dialogue you let yourself write and fix it. Make it sound like you’re telling the story to your best friend. Polish. Polish some more. Put it away for a few weeks and then polish even more. Care about the quality of what you created. Have some pride and passion about your work. Love it like a child.

Chapter Four – Publishing

Good luck. Don’t get discouraged.

Chapter Five – Promoting

Pester the hell out of everyone you know to read your book. Repeat often. Be proud of what you’ve done. Make others want to read it. Or tell them it’s not for them. Sometimes that works, too.

Chapter Six – Repeating

Repeat chapters one through five until your brain deteriorates too much to continue. Then, retire.

Epilogue

This is all you need to know. Don’t waste $70,000 on graduate school. Read some good books instead. Especially nonfiction. Nonfiction will feed your brain better than fiction sometimes. If anyone tries to sell you a creative writing manual, ask them why they have to make a living selling creative writing manuals. If anyone tries to tell you they know the one correct way to write, slap the shit out of them and never listen to anything they say again. That person is either really stupid or a cult leader. Don’t waste time on either. If your ego ever tells you you’ve learned all you need to know about writing, tell it to go to hell. Your ego is stupid.