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.

Powerful words used to make you react

There are words that evoke strong feelings. No matter how you use them, in whatever context, when heard or read they produce very strong feelings in most people. These loaded words are important to anyone trying to make an emotional connection with you for a purpose.

Greeting card makers have already tapped into this concept and for anyone receiving a mother’s day card yesterday knows, it is emotional. Before you even get to the personal sentiments added by the sender, I usually have tears starting. The better the person chose, the weepier I can become. Maybe I’m just too sentimental or too dang old. Hallmark really has this down pat. Such words as LOVE, MOTHER, special person or other adjectives to describe you are used with great results.

You know who else have learned to use this fact that some words are so strong that they can tap into that emotional side to sell you something. Those advertising insurance can produce guilt, doubt and discomfort when they talk about leaving your FAMILY without enough money. They add LOSING YOUR HOME and you’re signing on the dotted line.

Slick sales people are abetted by fiercely competitive advertising folks who test out words and phrases to make you wish to buy something. When cars become Youthful or Sexy, you have already bit the dust. Anything that touts NEW and SHINY works the same way, our resistance is low and we are programmed to want whatever it is that is NEW and SHINY.

Nowadays, HEALTHY or LOW Fat almost has the same appeal. It is often misleading and untrue, but those of us struggling with weight or health issues immediately find comfort in the fact that we purchased such a labelled item.

The politicians know how to throw around these explosive, mind changing words as well. They may truly be the experts at it. With them, the words chosen are often COUNTRY, FLAG, FREEDOM and MILITARY. These are all powerful words.

The organizations that ask for donations or money use words like HOMELESS, STARVING CHILDREN, PUPPY MILL DOGS or CANCER, or ABORTION. These words tend to wake us up from any apathy we might have been entertaining. Suddenly, if they have done their job, we are up and acting to relieve some type of suffering.

There really is nothing wrong with these people all using strong words since many are for good causes and often the words do persuade us or change our mind.

Writers should also capitalize on words that evoke feelings and bring about emotional responses. So what words would you include in the emotionally laden vocabulary?

Moms- they are much more than we know

Everyone knows that moms are love; they are filled with caring and would do most anything for their children. But moms are so much more.

I have always believed that moms set the tone for the whole family and her attitude is what guides the other members as to how they should act and feel. The family happiness is gauged by how happy the mother of the house is every day. Sometimes the job is challenging, when other family members do not exhibit her example or are too stubborn to follow her lead.

Without a doubt, moms are the glue that keeps family together and she only relinquishes this role if it is forcefully taken away from her. She makes amends for all the other people in her family. She creates a consistent, organized style of life even when chaos reigns and everyone else seems too troubled to make intelligent decisions.

Mom is the one who decides the standard of morality and sometimes spirituality. She is often the driving force that initiates church attendance or prayer. She sometimes can be the moral compass that everyone in the family needs but, won’t adopt for themselvesImage.

The role of moms includes planning trips, holidays, celebrations, parties and making sure no one is forgotten or left out. She decides on themes for parties, decorations for holidays, gifts for everyone and who should get invitations or cards. She remembers dates and places, times and events.

We all know moms are super heroes in disguise since they keep longer hours and do more in a day than is humanly possible. They juggle work, home, school, extracurricular activities, family and whenever possible, a social life. They are the busiest people and yet everyone believes they have time and energy to do even more.

Relying on mom is just what we do. We expect them to know where every single thing we need is located and surprisingly they do. We imagine they can be well versed on everything from algebra, insect bites and how to make a volcano. We know they are the ones with everyone’s phone numbers and addresses, e-mails and passwords. They are the keepers of the money, the keys, the snacks, the pet brushes and anything that will readily fit in their purse when you are out and about.

Moms are often short changed in the respect they receive. They often get short shrift when it comes to rest, relaxation or sleep. They will not take the last piece of cake or the only chair in the room until they know everyone has had their share.

Moms are often unsung heroes and one day of honor seems much too little to do justice to the beings we call ‘moms.’We all love our moms and want to make them happy, so please when you celebrate Mother’s Day do not forget the best gift of all, tell them you love them.

They are not here forever, I know my mom was taken home last August. So before God recalls these angels back to heaven, where most of them rightly belong, be sure to treat them the best you can. Be there for them as they were always there for you. God Bless Moms!

Thinking out of the box-ordinary need not apply!

One thing I pride myself on is being creative. My imagination helps me in everything I do. I may not be any more imaginative than the average writer and I am sure I am much less than many, but having a creative streak means you try for the unusual, bizarre, unique take on things. It means your imagination drives your story, develops your characters and sets your scene in a place never before experienced.

Right now, I’m busy with producing and organizing a silent auction for the local football booster club. I find myself racking my brains to come up with some more unusual items to bid on. Yes, we will have gift cards and gift baskets and a variety of items in every price range, but the different or unusual items are what will bring more money for the club.

Whenever you spend time looking for new ideas or brainstorming, it seems to feed your mind and additional and different thoughts start to formulate. This is very encouraging since so many things have already been done in so many ways when you consider writing. We are all looking for that special story, that earth shattering thought or the idea that means success. Even if we are writing for ourselves alone, we want to produce something creative and never done before. That is a huge mission.

Keeping your mind ‘tuned up’ is vital and we should all be protecting the mind and keeping the brain healthy. We can use a wide variety of puzzles, games and optical allusions. There seems to be more senility and dementia than ever before and so if you wish to not lose it, as the saying goes you must use it.

Practicing the art of searching for the idea or story only you have thought of is really difficult. Searching for a new angle on an old theme is easier. Taking a simple plot to a higher plane is an accomplishment.

If nothing is ‘new under the sun,’ as the bible says, than we of the creative mind bank must find something not yet presented to the world. We at least must find a different twist or an unexpected element in all we write-a challenging task.