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
Today is International Lefthanders Day, so all you folks who don’t quite fit into the righthanded world can celebrate your oddity. (I am one of you!)
I was born left-handed and then trained to be right-handed. Subsequently, I am ambidextrous, which is very fun. I do things with my right hand (handwriting) and some things with my left hand (reaching). When I’m playing sports that require handedness, I start with my right and then go left when I get tired.
Are you a leftie or a rightie?
I’m glad I write with my right hand, which made for an easier schoolday experience. (I say easier because school was always a socially difficult place for me-scholastically, I did well.) I remember seeing lefties trying to use those desks with the half-table attached to the chair, and how difficult it was for them. Or they had to go sit at the weird left-handed desk, which marked them as ‘not normal’ (which is worse than being ignored).
Yes, I am glad I was made to write with my right hand.
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
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.)?
I thought it was time to reintroduce my work to my new followers and readers. I am a writer. I’m also a wife, mom, friend, and therapy dog handler.
I have two book series out right now, plus a nonfiction book based on American history. It also happens to be my family history.
The Fairies of Carlow book series is for those who are able to read chapter books. The material should be appropriate for those in grades 3-6. I’ve also heard from adults who have enjoyed the stories of the fairy princes and princesses who live in the Kingdom of Carlow. While their lives are magical, danger lurks across the border. The horrible Red Caps have a kingdom the adjoins Carlow. Separated by a strong fierce field that is monitored by the Border Council, the Red Caps continually attempt to battle the fairies of Carlow.
Because of the Red Caps, the royal fairies are under strict rules. One daughter chafes under the restrictions and manages to escape. She becomes a commoner and lives as a peasant.
My second book series is about Guinness the Therapy Dog. These books are easy readers and expertly illustrated by an artist who lives in England. They tell the story of my big Bernese Mountain Dog as he brings happiness to high-risk kids and kids who like to read to dogs. Of course, we haven’t been able to do any therapy activities since the pandemic began. We both miss the kids, both at the shelter and at the library.
The nonfiction history book is called The Voyage and tells the story of John Wing as he goes to Oxford, becomes a minister, and takes his family around Europe as he searches for religious freedom. This is an easy reader and illustrated by the same artist who crafted the artwork for the Guinness the Therapy Dog series.
All my books are available on Amazon.com. If you search for my name, you’ll be able to see my entire catalog. This website has direct links to each title in the left margin.
Please leave a review on GoodReads.com and Amazon.com. Sonja
I have mentioned this Instagram account before, but I think it bears repeating. You should follow @august_musings. She is an inspirational poet and posts some amazing work.
I posted about her at the beginning of this month and dared you not to smile when you read her poetry. I still dare ya!
Also, @april.reads.and.proofreads is an exceptional proofreader. She has a manuscript of my evil twin’s and we are looking forward to her comments and critique.
And, both of these accounts came to me by way of @author_george_I_fleming, who writes thrillers set in Florida. Check out his books! I’m currently reading Bad Habits: A Tampa Bay Tropics Thriller available now on Amazon.com and through Barnes & Noble.
Of course, 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 off its website: tigerstripedmisfits.com.
Here’s another look at the journals I keep for each story. The photos show the journals for the Fairies of Carlow series.
I keep one journal for each book, with the pages divided into several sections: main characters, settings, events, chapter summaries.
They help keep continuity while I’m writing the book, and any books that may share characters or settings. (I’m a big fan of series’!).
By using a journal I can make sure the eye and hair colors of each character are consistent as I write. Sometimes, these things get lost inside my head and I can’t remember if I made someone a blonde, redhead, or a brunette. Also, I include height, preferences, things they hate/love, etc. Some characters get a full page, others get a half-page. It depends on how much I need to know about them.
For the Fairies of Carlow books, I found journals with covers that match each fairy’s signature color. (Confused? Now’s a good time to buy the books and find out what I’m talking about!)
I happen to love journals and tend to buy way too many of them. I have a stack of blank journals and a ton of pens that I need to find a use for. Did I mention my love of pens?
I have found that I don’t like gel pens… and try to find anything but those these days! I don’t know, the ink smears, it bleeds when you drip tea on it… But I love ballpoint pens and feel so posh when I use a fountain pen. I was given a Mont Blanc decades ago and feel so special when I use it. (But talk about wet ink and bleeding under drips of tea!)
Anyway, consistency is the key to good writing. Floor plans need to make sense. The barn needs to stay in the same place. And the sun needs to set in the same direction every evening.