Word Confusion

I don’t know about you but I still have to pause and think about which word is the correct one to use when I am working on my WIP. There are so many that are spelled the same, sound the same but have different meanings. Some sound the same, are spelled differently and have different meanings. Do you see where I am going with this?

Let’s take the Homonyms – these are words that sound the same, are spelled the same but have different meanings. For example: lie (an untruth) and lie (lie down) or pen (writing instrument) and pen (enclosure for animals).

Then there are Homophones – a type of homonym; words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. For example: see (sight) and sea (body of water) or ail (poor health) or ale (a beverage)

Homographs are words that have the same spelling but have more than one meanings. For example: lead (a metal) and lead (to guide) or back ( step back) or back (part of anatomy).

Then there are the Heteronyms

Don’t forget the synonyms and all they bring, but that’s for another post.

Great writing requires you know the difference in word usage; I hope these lists prove useful.

All my best,

Naiobi

Backstory/Frontstory: What are they and how are they used?

Backstory in writing tells the story of everything that your character has experienced before the story begins. It takes the form of memories, flashbacks or even allusions. It can tell the reader, for instance, what motivates the character, may help the reader empathize with and care about the character’s outcome.

It also describes your story world before reality sets in. In world building, you may develop the perfect small town, much like Mayberry and then something catastrophic happens. Your frontstory should begin in the catastrophy so in the use of backstory, you can describe how it used to look and what caused the devastation.

Since your story is always told in chronological order, the reader will be able follow when you switch to backstroy, though you must always return to the frontstory to make this possible.

I found an excellent article on this subject and I encourage those new to the craft of writing to give it a read.

All my best to you,

Naiobi

A Writer's Tool

I am always on the lookout for something that will help me in the writing process. As I’ve told you, I use scene cards to help me organize my scenes and chapters; I am a visual writer so must see it all laid out in front of me.

While shopping online, I found something that I thought I’d share. It’s called a Blank Storyboard which is a book filled with scene cards, you can literally write your story into it. You can brainstorm your ideas and see how they would fit into your story; jot down ideas for a new story if one comes to you. Amazon.ca also carries these gems.

There are a plethora of books like this for writers of all stripes, even for lyricists.

If these books appeal to you, investigate the many options available to help you on your writer’s journey. I find using these little things help me to expand my mind just that little bit further.

All my best for your writing success,

Naiobi

Resolutions or Goals?

Now that a new decade stretches before us, what will you do with the next ten years; do you make resolutions or set goals?

Resolutions by their very name, beg to be broken; mine don’t last the month! A few years ago I started to set goals and it has worked for me. This, of course, is individual as resolutions do work for some. The name of the game doesn’t matter as long as the result is the same…accomplishment!

When I write, I set a goal for the completion of my first draft and depending on the cooperation of my muse and characters, I can usually meet that goal. However, the character in my present wip is not cooperating. Theo (that’s his name) and I are at a stalemate at the moment as we try to work towards a compromise!

Whatever you set at the beginning of the year, should see some reward by year’s end.

Make this your year or your decade to shine!

All my best to you,

Naiobi

Memories Can Lead to Publication

So, Christmas is over for another year, memories have been made. What will you do with them? How about writing and submitting a short story for a Christmas anthology that would be published in time for Christmas 2020?

There are lots of anthologies accepting submissions and it’s a good way to get your feet wet if you are a new, yet to be published writer.

You don’t have to go with a Christmas theme; troll the internet and look for any calls for anthology submissions. Chicken Soup for the Soul is one of the more well known ones. Do a Google search, new calls are submitted frequently.

You can also make your own anthology of Christmas memories or any others you would like to share and self-publish. Try Kindle Publishing; they offer a course to show you how. Once you’ve published your book, it will automatically be sold on Amazon, and you will earn royalties.

Adams Media published the anthology, Changing Course: Women’s Inspiring Stories of Menopause, Midlife and Moving Forward in which one of my short stories was included. It was published fifteen years ago; I used and still use my given name when writing and publishing non-fiction. The story, Today’s Grandma, is about the evolution of grandmothers; I had fun with that one.

Flex your mind and your fingers…publication awaits!

I will be back to more regular blog posts in the new year. In the meantime, I wish you health, happiness and publication!

All my best to you,

Naiobi

Character Creation

This is my favorite part of the writing process; I love to create characters. Many writers create them in their minds, I need the visual. My process is long and tedious (to some) but it helps me with the tiny details.

I always keep a stack of old magazines handy and when I am in a lull with my writing, I go through them and look at the faces of the people portrayed in them. I look at facial features such as lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, moles, dimples. I look at hair color, the shape of their faces, whether their ears sit high or low.

When I am intrigued, I cut out the picture from the shoulders up and save it in an envelope. It may not serve my current wip but will help in others. I have an envelope full and still adding.

In one short story I wrote years ago I described the conductor on a train: He was a portly senior whose grey strands of dried, splintered hair peeked from the rim of his cap. A small piece of lint marred the perfection of the shoulders on his conductor’s jacket, though the gold colored buttons were tarnished. He walked with a slight limp and his thick, grey mustache tickled under his nose when he smiled. He had bushy grey eyebrows that sat over kind, rheumi-blue eyes and his hand appeared dry and calloused when he reached for my ticket.

This description was not inspired by a magazine photo but by the host of a children’s program my kids watched when they were very young.

Character ideas come from all around us. If you are a people-watcher like me, you will never grow out of ideas. Sit on a park bench and notice how people walk, how they interact with one another. Go to the mall, ride public transport; these all help.

If you go on vacation to another country, listen to them as they speak in their native tongue then try to imagine them as one of your characters.

There are also myriad books, articles and web-courses on character development, but the best teachers, in my view, are your eyes and imagination.

All my best,

Naiobi

The Three Dots

We all use them in our wrting and they are called ellipses in the plural; a group of three dots (no more, no less) is called an ellipsis. The one place there would be more is if it lands at the end of a sentence, then there would be four dots, one being a period.

So, what does an ellipsis do? They are used to indicate an interruption or pause in dialouge. They are also used to express more, with the use of fewer words.

Before you decide to submit your manuscript, make sure to check that you haven’t overused the ellipsis. Use the Find function and enter two dots; the checker will find every sequesnce of two, less or more dots in your manuscript so you can edits out the errors.

I remember early into my writing career, I was in love with the three dots and used them shamelessly throughout my manuscript. When I sent it for a critique, one comment was, “why do you have so many? I didn’t know what the critiquer was referring to so I looked up the word and realized that I shamelessly overused them. Lesson learned!

Until next time,

All my best,

Naiobi

A Good Year

2019 has been better to me than I expected it to be. So many positive things have happened:

  • My second novel, The Pleasures of Deceit, was accepted for publication by Austin Macauley Publishers in NYC
  • I bought a house near the beach (5 minutes near!)
  • My daughter, Ren Thompson, had her book, Dead Heat, published and can be found on Amazon
  • My son, Seneca Aaron is one of the writers of the Coroner series; second season to air January 6th, 9pm on CBC
  • My son, Seretse Aaron, is working on a new album and has just welcomed a third addition to the family, a daughter, Calliope Quinn.

This post has nothing to do with what I usually write; it has everything to do with the mood I was in as I rolled batches of cookies and baked cranberry bread in preparation for the holidays ahead. I am so very thankful to be who, where, and how I am!

Have a wonderful week going forward.

All my best,

Naiobi

Write Tighter: Ditch the Adverbs

Adverbs modify verbs, can be overused and clutter your work with unnecessary words; single verbs work better.

One way to identify an adverb is when the word ends in “ly” e.g. lonely, quickly, shortly. Another is the word “very”, used to describe the degree of something e.g. very hot, very cold, very tall, very angry; again, unnecessary filler.

Adverbs state the obvious and do nothing to make the reader more aware of what you try to convey. Very loud is not necessary to describe volume, loud is loud. Try a different word such as boomed or thundered.

If you show instead of tell your story, it will negate the need for many of the adverbs. e.g. you don’t have to say someone was crying, show them with tears pooling at the corners of their eyes; describe how they mop the tears from their face before they blow their nose.

I found a well-written article to this effect so I cannot take full credit for this post. I have paraphrased a lot but to read the entire article go here. I also suggest you subscribe to the newsletter while you are there.

For a comprehensive list of over 1500 adverbs, go here

Here’s to your writing success,

Naiobi

When Do You Know?

This blog post is inspired by a question put to the #WriterCommunity on Twitter.

There is no set answer. Once you make sure your story reads well, and you feel you’ve done your best, you’re ready.

No writer likes to send their baby out into the publishing world without feeling it will find a good home. They worry about rejection and many cringe from the thought that someone other than a family member will read their words and not like them.

You can’t expect to please everyone so don’t try. The world is a big place and with your book on Amazon, it will get worldwide attention.

This is all normal. Edit your book until it is clean. By this I mean, write tight, make sure your character’s features are the same throughout (eyes, hair…unless they dye it during the course of the story, ethnicity). I once had a character’s eyes as green at the end when at the beginning they were whiskey-brown.

Make sure time and place flows and you’ve checked for typos, spelling and punctuation. Beta readers will help with this as well.

Self-sabotage is also another reason some writers feel their book is not ready for the next step; their fear is not failure, but success, as strange as that may sound. It’s all of the attention that it will bring and the promotional up-tick in the form of book signings and interviews which will attract attention.

I experienced this just recently when a contractor doing a small renovation in my home asked me what I do.

Me: I am a writer
Dead silence for awhile then, “Like books?”
Me: Yep
Him: Do you have a book published?
Me: Yep

This, of course, swelled my head beyond it’s normally big size. I handed him my business card after I autographed the back of it for him.

This just made my day!

Don’t be afraid of recognition; it’s not easy to write a book, you deserve the praise!

Good luck to all of you new writers who are in doubt…you can do it!

All my best,

Naiobi