Do you want to write?

Writing tips

I began storytelling when I was a toddler. I wrote my first poem when I was five, my first ‘novel’ as an adolescent, and my first decent novel (unpublished and unpublishable, but it has good bones) when I was in my mid-teens.

In short, I have been writing all my life. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things I have learned about writing along the way.

1. It’s never as bad as you think. It’s also never as good as you think. Basically most of the time you can do better, and many times you’ve done MUCH worse. Trust yourself.

2. Don’t write “for the market”.. Don’t write the popular thing in the fond hopes that you can hitch your wagon to it. By the time your stuff comes out the popular thing will be so yesterday. Write what you want to write, need to write, and let the trends set themselves.

3. Don’t compare your life and career to writers more successful than you are, however you define success. A handful of them will ALWAYS be more successful than you but it is not worth your time and energy to waste an ounce of either worrying about it.

4. Don’t think you’ve ever invented anything new. Every storytelling technique was already ancient before you were born. If you have invented a slight twist on one, that is a huge accomplishment in itself.

5. Find your tribe. Have SOMEONE out there who understands. In the dark hours – and those will come – it helps to know you aren’t alone out there with your tiny guttering candle.

6. Practice faith. Even when all the gods and muses are obstinately silent in the face of all entreaty. Perhaps especially then.

7. Know when to let go. Nothing is EVER finished – but you have to know when to stop tweaking. It will never be perfect. Live with it. Get your story as good as you can and then let it step out into the world to seek its fortune. Hope it sends you a postcard to show you how it’s doing.

8. Read other writers. Remember, they are reading YOU.

9. There are times when it is good to walk in the rain. Yes, you might get damp – but there’s a sense of being one with the world in the heart of it, and then there is always the comfort and security of the hot cup of tea when you come back in with new insights.

10. You are unique. Words are common, and easy to find. You can pick them up like pebbles on a beach. But finding the RIGHT words – and putting them in the right order – that’s unique to you. Even given the exact same words, nobody else is ever going to use them the same way as you do. You are unique, and only you can be you, and only you can tell a story in exactly the way you do. Never let that simple truth get away from you.

Now, go write.

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15 Reasons Why The English Language Makes Absolutely No Sense

For example:
4. Because whoever wrote this poem is a genius:
English is hard poem posterSee the other examples HERE

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Worship of Writers

business-of-ferretsBusiness of Ferrets – Image credit: Michael Lyons

50 Collective Nouns to Bolster Your Vocabulary

Collective nouns may seem like quirky ways to describe groups, Lucas Reilly writes at Mental Floss, but 500 years ago, they were your ticket to the in-crowd. As silly as some sound today, the phrases were formal and proper descriptions designed to help gentlemen-in-training avoid the embarrassment of “some blunder at the table.”

Some have achieved widespread currency and acceptance, like a “flight of stairs,” “a board of trustees,” and a “school of fish.” Others, like a “murder of crows,” barely hang on.

Most are little known, but some should be more popular. I mean, how could “Worship of Writers” go out of style?

50 collective nouns HERE

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Is longer better?

The Off the Shelf staff offers 7 Great Big Novels

Have you ever spent eight months reading a single book? How about a year? While such a commitment may seem daunting, there is nothing comparable to getting lost in a long, sprawling novel.

For example:
Miss-MacIntoshMiss MacIntosh, My Darling, by Marguerite YoungOne of the most ambitious and remarkable literary achievements of the twentieth century, it might be called the Arabian Nights of American life. In prose that is poetic, incantatory, and extraordinarily rich, Marguerite Young takes us on a search for reality in a world of illusion and nightmare, touching on subjects as varied as drug addiction, women’s suffrage, murder, suicide, pregnancy (both real and imagined), schizophrenia, love, gambling, and perfectionism.

 

See more at:

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12 Books That End Mid-Sentence

Books have long been messing with the heads of readers by daring to not use a period as the last typeset keystroke on the very last page, Gabe Habash tells us at Publisher’s Weekly, and offers 12 examples. He asks help in adding to the list, and notes that the lack of books by female authors is because he couldn’t find any, not one, in hours and hours of searching.
A Sentimental JourneyA Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne (1768)

The Ending:

–But the Fille de Chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet, and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me–

So that when I stretch’d out my hand, I caught hold of the Fille de Chambre’s–

Why?

At the end of his rambling journey, Yorick finally ends up at a roadside inn. Because there is only one bedroom, he shares it with a lady and her chambermaid, under the condition that he not speak. Of course, he breaks this rule and gets the chambermaid heading toward him. It’s possible, grammatically, to read that Yorick stretches out his hand and catches hold of the chambermaid’s hand. But, given that this is Sterne, the dirtier option (and the fun placement of the word “end” in the sentence) is a lot more enjoyable.

See the rest HERE

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Paradise Lost: The Hippie Refugee Camp

Let me tell you about a place called Taylor Camp, a tropical ocean-front utopia without rules, politics or bills to pay“, MessyNessy writes.
Taylor camp Anti-establishment all the way, clothing was optional and decisions were made according to the “vibes”. It was the ultimate hippie fantasy. Taylor Camp began in the Spring of 1969, with thirteen hippies seeking refuge from the ongoing campus riots in America and police brutality. Having fled their homes, they headed for Kauai in Hawaii, then a very remote and unspoilt land with just a single traffic light on the island.

Read the rest HERE

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If fiction is the art of invention, memoir is the art of selection and arrangement

Will Boast’s standout memoir, Epilogue, about the death of his mother, father, and brother, is both a wrenching exploration of grief and a moving story of remembrance.

It took me nearly three years of trying to cram my subject matter into a novel manuscript, Boast writes, before I understood that the story I wanted to tell would fit better into nonfiction. It took me another five years to finish the manuscript that became Epilogue. As provisional and context-specific as they may be, here are a few lessons I learned along the way:

Writing a Memoir tips HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

Memory thrives on storytelling.

How do memory champions accomplish their miraculous feats? They get really good at telling memorable stories to themselves while weaving in what they’re trying to remember. Because the human brain is built for storytelling. The more things you can link together into a narrative, the more readily you’ll be able to recall them later on.

I’m not surprised.

More about memory HERE

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DesolenatorCreators of the Desolenator are crowdsourcing development money for a device turns sea or heavily polluted water into clean water.

You can help HERE

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Wedding name combos so bad they might want to call the whole thing off

Would you believe MacDonald-Berger? Hardy-Harr? And much much worse!

See the others HERE

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A government ban on which prohibited prisoners in England and Wales from having family and friends send them books, has been ruled unlawful.

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE Joan Didion~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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“Dave Eggers made me quit Twitter”

Last month, two things happened that made me realize just how addicted to social media I’d become, Michele Filgate says in Salon.

First: Louis C.K. made some comments about smartphones. He talked about not giving them to kids, and he talked about the overall effect of smartphones on society. By having the Internet in our pockets, we’re never truly alone.

Second: I read “The Circle” by Dave Eggers and it scared the crap out of me.

The deadly social media

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Eerily captivating photos of former row houses that now stand alone

There’s something very fairy-tale-like in these. I don’t know. A slice out of another space/time? A hint of Rapunzel’s tower?

They’re weird and strange and it’s hard to look away. There are STORIES here.

Last House Standing
Last house standing

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Fairytale Mugshots

Fairytale mugshots
Marilen Adrover, the artist, wrote at her Deviantart website:

OMG. I’ve woke up this morning and I’ve seen about 380 Deviantart messages. Thought it was an error but as I was reading, I realized that my Tales Mugshots have become insanely popular. Frontpage on Reddit & I’m on Wil Wheaton’s tumblr!!! I’m still shaking!!

Mug shots

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Words That Are Their Own Opposites

Judith B Herman writes in Mentalfloss: Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.

Does that mean, ‘Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression’ or does it mean, ‘Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default’?

We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of “contronyms”—words that are their own antonyms.”

Contronyms

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Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Chris Robley writes on The BookBaby Blog about Pixar’s 22 Rules of Good Storytelling.

The animation studio Pixar has produced so many successful films, not because those films are full of fancy visual pyrotechnics (though they often are), but because Pixar’s writers, directors, and animators privilege plot, empathy, and character development above all else.

Rule #4: 

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Storytelling Rules

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Alma Alexander

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