Thursday, April 11, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

I have questions all the time. Now that I'm writing, they are more about how to use a word or should I even use it.  What lead to the discover of Dr. Grammar was the word hopefully.

Hopefully. Not a bad word but certainly a bland one. While working on the rewrite of my book, Going Native, I'm looking at words closely in an attempt to make sure this is the word, the one that will convey the moment, the feeling of that fragment of scene. I want the butler, Thomas, to be more than hopefully about Lexus not being subject to her father's abuse, more than hopefully in regards to Lexus being shipped off to convent full of nuns for the remainder of her schooling so she won't ask questions about the unwed pregnant natives her father keeps at his compound. The more I looked at hopefully, the less hopeful I was this word conveyed what I wanted.

This lead to a search of the web, and I stumbled upon a gold mine choked full of goodies.  Enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787 - James Madison.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Are You Fit or Flabby?

 Today I'll share something designed to help take the fat out of your writing. How you ask?  Writer's Diet. This free program will accept from 100 to 1000 words and analyze to see how fit you writing is?

I inserted the following bit from a scene in my book, Going Native.  This is a conversation between Tanner, Lexus' love interest, and the cook, Joe.

* * *

Green eyes, a shade lighter than Lexus’, looked back at him. "I know that. You and Lexus are adults. Consenting ones evidently. But you and I both know she’s a sheep amongst a pack of wolves." His mouth fell to match the droop of his shoulders. "Why'd you do it? Not--"


Joe gave his head a hard shake. "Not the part where you two…” His gripped fists looked like large saucers at his sides. “What I want to know is why'd you say what you did to that prick at the service station?"

Tanner’s raked his finger through unkempt hair for a second time. “I messed up.”

“You. Messed. Up.” Joe snapped his body in Tanner’s direction, and then stopped, his head moving back and forth in a slow . . . slow . . . no. “Uh eh. You didn’t mess up. Let’s review. You took her home. Right?” He nudged Tanner an inch backwards.


“Okay, so we agree on that point. You wined her and dined her, then took her to bed. Right?” Gone was the mild manner cook. Joe’s eyes bore into him from underneath gray streaked brows. He pushed at Tanner’s chest harder. “Right?”

Tanner gave a short nod, his mouth pulled in a straight line.

“Then denied her.” The words were soft, Joe’s face furrowed in a questioning expression in contrast to the his statement.

Silence, like a spider weaving it’s web, grew between them. Tanner knew when he answered he would be the spider’s prey, forever caught in what he’d done. 
“Yes.” Past the ability to meet Joe’s eyes, his dropped to the floor. 

* * * 

My score came back LEAN!!! 

The site explains the program with the following: Based on a simple algorithm, the WritersDiet Test calculates the fitness of your writing sample in each of five grammatical categories. The higher the percentage of highlighted words, the flabbier your score. Click on the colored bars for more details. 

The five areas looked at are verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs, and is, this, that, there.  You also get a scoring for overall.  The program also highlights in the sample analyzed  all the words that fall within the perimeters identified in the five grammar categories.

Give it a try and see how fit or flabby you are.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Words Anyone?

As a writer have you ever needed to translate English to Spanish or maybe French to English? You so wanted to find that special word but wanted to make sure it had the same meaning as the boring one in your head. If so, I've found the site for you.   

Word Hippo has six different functions all designed to help you with words. 

1. Another word for - As I mentioned above, you can find a replacement for that boring word your mind doesn't want to let go of. 

2. What's opposite of - This one I'm not too sure, as a writer, how I'd use it, but you never know . . . it's nice to have it just in case. 

3. Translate the word - My latest book, Going Native on my author site F. L. Williams, has brothers that are Mexican so this one is coming in handy for English to Spanish translations. The translations Word Hippo offers are English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian. Yea, the Portuguese surprised me too. 

4. Find words -  Think how you want to write something that details a description of a mountain. I can see this being used to find multiple sentences with descriptive terms to get the mental juices bubbling.

5. Sentences with the word - Now this one intrigues me. There you could plug in a sentence you're not happy with, it needs a little more, and see what comes up. Hopefully things that would help you see a bigger picture, a better way to use your words, expand your scene.

6. Use words that rhyme with - Okay . . . this one stumped me. The only thing I could think of was perhaps if I was attempting to write a poem for a scene and needed help with a rhyming word. To push me beyond nice that rhymed with rice type verbiage.

This is a site I have made use as far as the translating words but it offers quite a bit more. Check it out and let me know what you think.

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like."
St. Augustine

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Write or . . . Die?

 Numbers, numbers numbers.  We all want a bigger word count.  So what stops us?

For me?  I would go back up and read what I wrote.  I worried over it, rewrote it, erased it.  You name it, I did it.  Just like what I have written now . . . my "it" alarm is going off, and I want to go back and rewrite all of the above to get rid of that nasty "it" that's appearing way too much.  Echo, echo, echo.

If you read the blogs on this pesky problem, many of the posts discourage the behavior I just described.  My response was always, "Um hum. How am I gonna do that?"

Write or Die baby.

This inexpensive little program (I purchased it for $10) will force you to write.  You tell Write or Die how many words you want to write in a given amount of time. You can even set how aggressive your punishments will be if you stop 'to think' a bit too long. Example? It will begin to eat your written words. 

Forget it.  Too aggressive for me.  I set mine to where the scene would start to turn red if I tarried beyond so many seconds.  Then, if I did this too many times, it would begin to blare a really loud song.  I promise you . . . your fingers will start writing when that happens.  I've only had to experience it once. 

I set mine for 500 words in 30 minutes.  Soon I was getting making that goal so I upped the anti to 500 words in 20 minutes.  I felt a little frantic at that speed, but I got the words on paper.  What was surprising was they weren't that bad. They needed to be tweaked, but in about three hours of doing this with a few breaks I had ~ 2500 words.  

So the next time your looking at that blank white page, and it begins to turn red . . . I promise you, you'll write.

Write or Die

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. 
James Madison

Monday, March 11, 2013

Is Podcasting the New Blogging?

 I listened to Self Publishing Podcast today and was introduced to Cliff Ravencraft of Learn How to Podcast.

It was an insightful hour that made me rethink about blogging and the opportunities podcasting offered. I used myself as the first example of why. Though I like to have the written word for a back up--notes so to speak--I love to listen to podcasts about writing.  And as Cliff mentioned, people spend a great deal of time in their cars, walking dogs, at the gym . . . doing things that doesn't lend itself to reading. 

Immediately my mind was going a mile a minute . . . thinking how I could use a podcast instead of blogging to reach out and touch my readers on my author site, F. L. Williams.

Check out Cliff's site.  Maybe you will be inspired to take a deeper look at this avenue and how it can be used to interact with your followers.

Finally, don't be surprised if you stop by Melisa Writes, click on a link, and hear a southern voice say, "Hey y'all.  Hang on tight.  This is my first ride, and I'm sure it's gonna be bumpy."

Friday, March 8, 2013

How do You Spell That?

Ever scratch your head on how to spell those small but expressive interjections our characters use on a daily basis? I know I do, or did, until I discovered Mark Nichol's post on Daily Writing Tips.   

Like neener-neener. That word is definitely on my bucket list. I can just envision a character reverting back to the behavior a five-year-old would display and piping up with neener-neener followed by the expected red appendage sticking out as far as physically possible. 

Another one is zoinks.  Evidently, this is a term used by Shaggy of Scooby Doo fame. I don't know about you, but I love Scooby Doo. If  it's good enough for Shaggy then it's perfect for one of my characters. I have one in my latest book in progress, 911 for Love, who has decided this will be his word of expression for surprise. Cheesy? Yes. But then, he is cheesy.

The link I've posted below that will take you to Mark's post. There really are 100 great expressions and now you'll know how to spell. them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Writing Software

This is a hotly contested subject among those who use software to write.  Even something as simple as Word, it's contested.  There are plenty of software programs out there.  I have some on my desktop.  I've tried a few, but my heart belongs to Scrivener.

I'm a pranster as plotting makes my head ache. And though Scrivener is great for those who like to plan out their novel, the cork board is awesome for someone who writes as I do.  It's a screen made up of a cork board with the ability to develop index cards. Each card can be given a heading and then an area below where you can write a short snippet on what the scene pertains to.

The beauty of this is, when a scene strikes me, screams to be written, I can label my index card on my cork board, give some information on what the scene deals with, and then with a click, move to a blank page tied to the index card and write away.  No matter how much I jump around, I have my scenes identified with index cards when I click to the cork board. It's great to identify plot holes, to know where I need to develop a new scene.  Can't do that with Word.

Short story, it's affordable, offers more than I've even began to tap into, and can keep you organized.  Check it out.