Archive | May 2014

Miscommunication can wreck writing just as in relationships

We have grown to know how miscommunication can screw up relationships. When people do not give or get clear messages, there can be trouble in paradise. Spouses need to communicate above almost all other things. It is vital to the relationship that each spouse knows what the other is saying and really means. Sounds like excellent advice for a writer as well.

Do you ever search hard for the right words and still fall short of what you meant to say? It is so easy to write the way we think which can be unclear to anyone who doesn’t know us well. Our bad habits can take over such as one of mine where I think the first half of the sentence and only relay the second half. This is a horrible problem for a writer and when we first married caused lots of confusion for my husband. After almost 50 years, he now knows what I’m thinking as well as what I said. Not always sure if that is a good thing.

Many people assume certain words and phrases are known to everyone. Not necessarily so! Your field of work jargon may only be known to a select few and might need to cleared up unless one goal of your writing is to really let people know what that field and its workers are all about.

We also tend to be products of our environment and area of their country or world and use many colloquialisms. The whole world may have the same thought but, express it quite differently and if you are not adding a flavor to the piece to give it color and character, your expression may go completely misunderstood and possibly kill a major point of your story. Be sure to find a way to clarify if you must use such an expression not known by the majority.

When we speak, we must often enunciate properly to make our words understandable, but that tool cannot be so easily used when writing. Sometimes we must use more words to describe an easily spoken word because otherwise it could be lost on your reader. Find ways to reinforce your thoughts with more than one expression so that it makes sense to those reading.

If a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, then those picture words used to create a mental image must be exact to be a good visual clue. The obscure language cannot ever be substituted for the right word or phrase to say exactly what you mean.

To keep your marriage happy, communicate well and make sure each other is clear on what you are trying to convey. Do the same when you write as it can be the difference between a distracted reader feeling the writer is obtuse or the reader ‘getting it.’

How important are the names you choose for your writing?

 

When writing, how much time do you spend on the names you choose? Names are very important and can be vital in conveying information to the reader.

 

 Names are used in many instances. You immediately start to think about names of characters and that is a wonderful place to start. Often a name for a character is chosen for the image it brings to mind. You would not use the same type of name to describe a brawny, tough man’s man sort of guy as you would a milk toast weakling or nerd. When trying to create an aura of mystery around a woman, you would choose a name depicting a famous or notorious person to help connect them to an event in history which brands them as someone important and glamorous or a person you should watch out for and be wary of possibly. The same thing could be achieved if the name chosen were exotic or so unique that special things were expected of that individual. Proper names can express a prominent trait of that character and help set them apart from all the rest. The name should usually match the idea you are creating of that person’s looks, personality and style.

 

 Of course sometimes the most important thing you must convey is the ethnicity of the person. This could confirm where they live as those types of names pile up in the narrative. It could also, when thought about deeply, bring to light or suggest their outlook or perceptions in regards to their country’s history or even current events just unfolding. It can give us insight into the most basic thoughts of someone residing in that place or having lived through a certain time period.

 

 Names are not just for people, but also places. A well named place could suggest their actual location or a description of their surroundings. This happens when indicating a body of water or a ancestral home just by the chosen name. The name might just be made up from thin air, but more likely discovered somewhere, and used to paint a mental picture of a feeling associated with that location or the dangers of the surroundings. A really creative name will mainly just be so memorable that the reader will not forget it.

 

 People try for a degree of creativity when they name their pets or their cars or even body parts. While some of this seems overly silly, it helps that person become more interesting, more complicated or just more appealing. When a person seems imaginative or creative, they usually attract others because of those very traits. We want to all think that we are unique individuals and we are, but sometimes only stuff like names given things add to this perception.

 

 Then there are the made up names which set us apart as we use them instead of way too common ones that everyone knows. To stand out we want to give everything possible our own twist and a ridiculous name for a commonplace object or idea can be charming.

 

 So when writing, we should give quite a bit of time to the creation of names for our characters and everything else in need of one in our story. This could be a gift you have not even thought much about as you write, but could really set your book apart from the commonplace.

What is the most creative, unique or interesting name you used in your writing?

 

 

 

 

Ramblings-While considering the cost of my freedom

While giving some thought to what this weekend holiday actually means, I was considering my freedom and at what cost it was given to me.

Probably the greatest gift in the world is the freedom so many military have fought and died for so that we can live safely and in peace. I still find it amazing that people fought and died for me. Who am I that they cared enough to fight for me? They showed me so much love and respect as to hold my freedom dear. Not only have they sacrificed for me, but for all of us in this country as well as other countries.
You only need read about or visit other countries who do not share our values to know what freedom really means. It evokes such pictures to be brought to mind as our flag, the battleground and all those troops that are fighting many things besides the enemy to remain faithful to their job. This powerful word can chase shivers up and down your spine. It can make you start to melt as you fathom the caring of one man for another man.

We know of the ultimate sacrifice endured when troops give their lives for their beliefs, but what of the sacrifice of those who make it home? Many come back physically and mentally broken. They are unable to sleep because horrid dreams won’t let them. They are unable to socialize and even keep a job. Many cannot resume a normal life because of what they saw and what they were expected to do as part of their job. We must accept this problem and address it since so many need physical medical treatment and psychological help. We have vets who gave up everything to protect us and now are homeless. What kind of country treats their heroes that way?
Those that made it home offered so much to protect us, they gave up being close to their loved ones and they and their families gave up any semblance of a normal life in order to keep us safe.

Every war has had its casualties, but it seems these most recent ones have resulted in so much more damage for so many that it sets itself apart from the others. There is no good personal result of war among those fighting it, only the monumental accomplishment for the country and its population.

We must continually honor our military personnel since they do jobs many of us would never dream of doing. We must show appreciation for all they put aside like education or great jobs to work for us and keep us safe.

This weekend as you stop to memorialize those who gave their lives, think about all who gave so much of themselves that they may not have anything left to give anyone anymore. They deserve are undying gratitude.

Does anyone else have this problem?

For me I get too focused on things and then become almost obsessive. Currently working on an event for our football booster club to benefit the teams and I have a very hard time dividing my attention so as to do other things like write.

I get fixated on making whatever I do a success and there is no time to think of other stuff. The silent auction I’m working on requires a lot of time and effort if it is to go well. I am using the Internet to save me time as there are few worker bees and much to be done.
Focusing on what to try to get donated, from where and how to promote this event are time consuming tasks and I am not one to take any job lightly if I am attempting to benefit some cause.

Another problem I find is that I am very detail oriented so each element of the planning must be examined, analyzed and decided how to make it better. If it can be better( usually means more complicated since my ideas don’t run to simple) I am your person. You know it’s like cooking, if an ingredient is tasty and 1 cup is what is called for, my mind starts thinking how it would taste with twice that much or at least a bit more. Can it be more attractive, can it last longer, can we offer this added benefit or that one. After a while a simple task can become most unwieldy.

When the research says you should have a specific number of items in regards to the expected turnout, I try to meet that number. If I cannot, I immediately feel a sense of failure. Does any of this sound the least bit familiar in your writing?

Sometimes we set goals for ourselves that are way too complicated or too impossible. We decide failure is not an option so we refuse to believe something cannot be done. Guess we must be shown that in a very plain way. Like they say, I do believe if the task is difficult and takes too much time to accomplish, I believe u like many okay it’s impossible so it will just take longer.

Don’t be too hard on yourselves writers! Remember the impossible just takes longer.

Things you tell graduates also works for writers

When graduates are faced with all their relatives once the ceremony is over and the party has begun, relatives and friends search for those words that offer hope and encouragement.

Unless you’re uttering the words, “I want to set you up in business right now” or “Here’s some money, spend a few months in Europe finding yourself,” I’m not sure they listen. Those pearls of wisdom you struggle to come up with are not very helpful when it’s all said and done or are they?

We try to impart words that show the graduate we believe in them. We may compliment them on their great grades, or how many colleges want them or the scholarship they won. We might offer hope with suggestions as to who is hiring college graduates right now. We don’t tell them about the poor economy, the soft job market or that thousands of people are vying for the very same job. We wish to offer them hope.

Well, those very same ideas apply to writers. Writers need a support system since they work alone, the field is competitive and jobs are often scarce. We need to be encouraging to writers and to one another as our chosen profession does contain lots of blue sky. We need to know even though many are pursuing the same goals, we have as good a chance as anyone else.

Writers need to be stroked and told they have created something wonderful. It’s okay for family and friends and even other writers to be encouraging if not completely truthful. I’m of the opinion that if people get shut down too soon they may never reach their potential. If they become discouraged more quickly than they should, they may give up and that next best seller may never be created. Everyone is not going to be a winner, but taking hope away from someone is cruel and soul damaging. How do we know that a person will never succeed? There is more to the formula than perfect writing. The market ideals change and people’s perceptions of what is good also and the part luck plays in it are real. You may get a job just because you are there in the right place at the right time. Some strange turn of events could precipitate your manuscript not being put on the slush pile. We have no way of knowing what the future holds for all of us, but we always should be optimistic so we don’t give up. We should have an ego that is secure enough to question and find and create something new.

Our self-esteem drops when we receive those rejections and soars when a reader praises us. Writers are fragile beings and just like graduates, we need folks to lie to us to keep us going. We need encouragement. We need hope. We need someone to believe in us. Maybe the untruths will become truths if given enough time.

Random and personal thoughts: Even the little bit you do matters to others!

My husband and I run the football booster club in our area and I get somewhat discouraged when I feel like others do not value this effort, not looking for praise, but just more cooperation. In today’s world, I don’t know anyone who is not busy. Everyone is stretched so thin and trying to balance so many plates, they have nothing left for these organizations and clubs they feel they must be involved in. I personally feel that everyone who places their kids in sports or clubs should expect to help support those organizations.

Every club needs support, financially as well as volunteering. In order to do a fair job of making the most of the organization, it requires many events and lots of work. Each person should feel a responsibility to help out once in a while if not more often. ‘Many hands make light work.’

At the bottom of this problem, which almost any club supporting sports or other groups can attest to, is the fact that almost no one has time or is willing to help with events. You find the same few people volunteering over and over again. The few do it all while the masses seem to benefit by those efforts. This seems exceedingly wrong to me. If you have kids participating, you should be part of the work as well.

I wonder if the average person can see the forest for the trees and realize a small effort still helps. If you can hang one flyer or sell one ticket, it helps. When you work a 1/2 hour of an event, it is better than nothing. If an event lasts for hours and everyone takes a portion of it, all succeed and the event produces great results. With a couple people trying to do it all, much gets done badly or not at all.
Many of us are all or nothing types of people. We think we must produce an event of epic proportions and yes, that is me. But, if everyone believes in a cause and does whatever little bit they can do, it can happen. The event can be a larger production with better results.

Frustration makes me examine this problem more intently and try to figure out a way to harness the people power even if it comes in dribbles and dabs. More people mean a broader array of ideas. It means the tiny, but important details don’t get ignored. Yes, I tend to overdo it and overreach my capabilities, but with good intent. I want everything I attempt to do to be the best it can be. Doesn’t everyone?

 

Just a reminder that English can be confusing

Many people who study English as a second language often complain about the difficulty of learning it, mainly because of the ambiguity of words.

Think of the many words which sound alike but, are spelled differently. They are used different ways in a sentence so if you do not have the correct spelling, they can mean something quite different. Words can trick up those new to the language, but even as writers, we need to be careful we use the correct form of the word.

For example the words too, to or two, can be very confusing if you mess up and do not use the right spelling. We know that ‘two’ is the number and ‘too’ is used to show how much and ‘to’ means just going there. We can have the very same trouble with ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Whereas, ‘your’ shows possession, ‘you’re a contraction of the words you are.

Then English gives us words that are spelled exactly the same but can have two different meanings. Often you can use them as a noun or a verb such as the word ‘wound.’ One is an injury and the other is to wrap around something. Another example is the word ‘present’ used as a verb meaning to give someone something, used as a noun can mean a gift. There is the word ‘produce’, to show something and ‘produce fruits and veggies. The word ‘refuse’ can mean to not accept something when used as a verb or the trash that is considered ‘refuse.’ The word ‘desert’ is capable of the same problems, the action of leaving you or the place where sand and scorpions reign. Not to be confused with ‘dessert’ since the extra ‘s’ indicates this is the sweet treat usually eaten after a meal.

It is easy to see why English as a second language can give newcomers headaches. It even can trip up those of us for which English is the first or only language.

For a writer, it should be an automatic point of editing since it is so very easy to write the wrong word form when you are in the throes of writing and focusing on your story.