When writing, sometimes there’s a word you can’t think of, or a word that may not fit in with the time period. Or you think of a word and know you need it’s antonym.
I use several sites to help.
The first is an etymology dictionary. This is the link (a click on the word ‘link’ should get you to the site. I set it to open in a new tab, so you don’t lose your place while reading my riveting prose!
The second site is an online thesaurus. This is the link to that site. Again, I made it so it should open on a new page.
So I don’t lose my plot thread, I put ‘???’ where I want to search for a different word, the word, or the antonym. Then, when my creative well has been wrung dry, I go back and search for the word I want.
I’ve tried stopping and searching for the word when I need it, but I’ve found that I lose my thread, the dialogue, or my intention for the plot. It was frustrating.
I’m a linear thinker, organized, and constantly thinking of characters and plots. It’s sometimes difficult because when I’m out and about (remember that?!) I see others and make up stories about their lives. It’s fun, but I tend to lose myself to my imagination.
My husband and sons are used to it, but others are confused by it. I think it’s difficult for someone who doesn’t have an imagination that constantly makes up stories to be around someone who does. Kind of like being an Oscar when someone else is a Felix (you need to know The Odd Couple to know what I mean).
Just be yourself. That’s all that should be expected. Sonja
Have you seen the popular account by real_guinness_the_therapy_dog?
He has thousands of followers and posts (well, he doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so I post for him) pictures every day.
If you like cute, giant, furry dogs then Guinness’s account is for you.
I also follow several other Insta accounts.
For instance, @august_musings. She is an inspirational poet and posts some amazing work.
I’ve posted about her before. When you read her verses, I dare you not to feel better and, better yet, smile and say ‘yup’.
Also, @april.reads.and.proofreads is an exceptional proofreader. She looks over every manuscript written by my evil twin. Her comments are always exactly what’s needed, and she finds all those typos and punctuation errors that creep into the book.
Last but certainly not least, I need to mention my favorite military account @tigerstripedmisfits. This non-profit donates all its profits to military foundations (like the Green Beret Foundation). All monies are made with the sales from its website: tigerstripedmisfits.com.
I know of a bestselling author who sends her first draft to her editor, who then helps her craft it into another bestseller.
But that’s not real life – at least not for me.
It takes many, many drafts for my happiness meter to go up. My first draft is a thin, uninspired plot. Then I add the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to that skeleton. With each draft, I fall more in love with my hero and want to befriend my heroine.
The magic comes after I’m happy with the plot and get sick of my characters. That’s when I can look at the dialogue and the plot with clear eyes. Once I rip those ‘rose-colored glasses’ off, I can see everything without bias.
I’m there in my current book. That’s when I need to force myself to go through the book again. It takes a lot of energy to make it through, but, to me, this is the most valuable draft, since I can find plot holes, stilted dialogue, and general weirdness that I may have overlooked during my love affair.
I urge you to write your horrible first draft and then add to that bony skeleton during the subsequent draft(s).
Perfection is not the goal when you write the first draft. Sonja
But you need to be careful about your source. Are there footnotes? Sources? Corroboration?
There is a lot of false information out there. You need to be careful with your research.
I was recently researching a location for a book and found a lot of conflicting information. Granted, it is a historical site and I was looked for the minutiae, but, still, it was frustrating. The thing was, the sites were the information came from were all vetted sites and operated by trustworthy sources.
Although several of the sites supported each other, I’m not sure if they’re correct. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? It’s so tempting to take the one that matches what you need and use it, but it may be dramatically incorrect.
What do you do?
I will likely modify things to suit my story and put in a disclaimer that I did this. I’ll write that I couldn’t find good corroboration in my research and to not take my information as fact. I certainly don’t want it used as a source. I pride myself on the accuracy of my research.
I’m sure each of the sites I researched insists that their version is based on truth. How can I know which is accurate?
All I’m saying is, be careful and admit when you aren’t sure about something. Sonja
Last month I told you about my favorite book that helps me with my narrative and descriptions. It’s called the Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary, by Marc McCutcheon. There are some sections that I don’t use, like “French Cooking Terms” and “Surgical Procedures.” But if I want to know what a “hand-and-a-half sword” is, then there’s a definition for it. (It’s an intermediate or small sword, smaller than a two-handed sword, by the way). There’s also a section on clothing, separated by major historical eras or shifts.
Hey, have you heard of a “ha-ha”? No, it’s not laughter. It’s a sunken fence or moat around a garden to keep animals out of the area.
I like books that help me with research or language. I don’t like redundancy or interrupting my writing flow while I search for the correct word. Sometimes I put XXX to hold the place of a word I need and then go back to fill it in. Otherwise, that fleeting thread of dialogue or plot will evaporate. It usually doesn’t come back, whether it was good or bad.
I know, when don’t I? But today I want to talk about asking for help. What? I don’t want a writing partner. I’m not talking about someone helping you write your scenes; I’m talking about a fresh set of eyes to look at your finished draft. There will always be something you missed!
Have you ever written a paragraph, read it over and been satisfied, then handed it to someone else who pointed out that you missed a word? Yup, we’ve all been there. My big gaffe (which makes me laugh every time I think about it) is using lamp for lamb. It makes a big difference in the sentence.
I must have read that almost a dozen times and never caught it.
Because my brain saw the word that I wanted, not the word I had written.
It doesn’t need to cost you much, whether that be money or time, but it’s necessary for your writing. Can you imagine submitting a manuscript with a ewe birthing a lamp instead of a lamb (Hand raised. I did it.)?
When I tell someone I’m a writer, there are two questions that I’m always asked: 1. where do you get your ideas, 2. when did you start writing.
I’ll answer these questions in order.
My ideas usually come to me as I’m falling asleep. I tell myself stories as I drop off. When I’m in the middle of a first draft, I think about upcoming scenes and imagine dialogue and the interaction between the characters. Sometimes I come up with an idea during the day, file it away-either written down or in my memory-and then imagine the scene that night.
I started writing in middle school. My best friend at the time was an amazing writer and we talked about the process. It piqued my interest and I began a story. The other influencer was one of my middle school/high school English teachers. She promoted the idea of writing and even brought in a guest lecturer. He discussed creative writing and had us write ideas and chapters.
I think these two people built the foundation for my writing career. So, thank you to you both.
I miss my friend and am thankful that I am Internet friends with the teacher.
I hope you have someone, or several somebodies, who inspire you. Sonja
One of the things I notice when reading unpublished and newly-published authors is what is affectionately called TSTL (too stupid to live).
It’s when a character does something so crushingly bad that it’s suprising that they can navigate around trees. Like leading the bad guys to their home, or doing something that will attract attention while they are supposed to be quiet and hidden.
Usually, these incidents are purely to move the plot forward and indicate the author’s poor planning, laziness, or lack of creativity. I know. That’s harsh. I mean for it to be. I am particularly passionate about writing. We are responsible for the reader’s enjoyment as they journey through the fictional world we have crafted. They put their faith in our skills to transport them into our story, and to care about our characters. We cannot fail them.
I hope you will let me know if my stories are successful for you. Sonja
When a story doesn’t unfold in my brain, it’s a struggle to get it down on paper–or, rather, in ones and zeros. I’m having this issue with Lady Zepherine’s story. She is reluctant to tell her story, and I am having a difficult time writing it. Difficult is putting it mildly. It’s like hammering dull nails into an oak board with a sponge. Yes, that’s impossible.
The hard thing is not writing her story. But I feel like it’s a tortured mess. That’s what editing is for, right?
It’s also tough because parts of her story are so personal to me. Diving into my memories, and interacting with the mean girls and bullies who live there, makes me sad. I wish I had the knowledge that I have now, back then, so I could stand up to them and defend myself instead of ‘taking it’ like I did.
Even now, I try to take the high road and not get pulled down into what I consider trite arguments. The unfortunate side of that is the number of people (who I though were friends) believing the liar and rumor-spreader.
Aren’t you glad that it exposed your false friends? Yes, but it makes for loneliness, too. I wish they had taken the time to find the truth rather than believing the person who had no issues dragging my name through the mud. I hope I haven’t made the same mistake.