Tag Archive | writing tips

Pixar story help.

I woke up today and determined to write a blog post. Unfortunately, this isn’t what I planned on writing.

Here’s a list of about 22 tips that writers can use for writing from Pixar. I think my favorite is 19:

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

And 9:

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

Apparently, it’s not about knowing; it’s about doing.

Almost always, I find inspiration at bookstores. I walk through one, browsing the numerous titles, thinking about how much I’d love to see my own book(s) there, and eventually end up at the writing books. There, I pick up some books, browse through them, and find some glimmer of wisdom to enhance my writing and motivate me to write on the way home.

For the first time in several months, I finally had a chance to go to the bookstore today. No, it’s not for lack of not trying to; I live an hour away from anything decent. And don’t get me wrong–I found several good books–but I also came out rather depressed. Why?

Because every mistake writers make or every “rule” of writing that I read today, I either know about and follow, or haven’t written anything that requires me to followed them. Basically, I know a lot of it.

Worse, one of the “rules” I wasn’t sure about, the author says she doesn’t need to explain it. Moreover, she skips possibly the most important “rule” in that all chapters should end with a question.  (That I consider to be a practical explanation of how to build tension and suspense, but that’s another post all together)

I was reading Thanks but This Isn’t for Us, and as i went through each of the suggestions, I found some interesting things. (Like with romance stories it is good to have at least one character who has some reason why he/she can’t be in love.) But almost all of her common goofs, I sat  there and explained to my sister that yeah, I know this is a problem for this and this and this.

So here it comes down to it: I apparently know how to write. I need to just sit down and write. After eight years of skimming writing books (I only own two.), writing a few stories, editing my few stories, working through problems and everything else involved with writing, I realize that I know enough I can practically write a writing book.

So in the end, it all comes back to the fact that to be a writer, a real writer, I need to write.  Starting tomorrow.

Why to Practice Writing.

I listened to a speaker recently who gave some tips  to success, and, although he  spoke at a nursing convention, I found them very practical for writing.

1)  Find your gift.

2) Developed your gift, because people don’t pay for average.

That average part caught my ear and yet, it is so true. People, no matter who they are, want to read the best there is out there. People don’t want to read only a mediocre book. Although a few mediocre books do become best sellers, and make people a whole bunch of money, is the teenage audience of twilight going to come back and read the twentieth book she writes, in fifteen years from now? But will the person who loves reading, and who found an excellent book, come back and read that author’s twentieth book?

I can answer most assuredly–yes. Because a good author–a truly good author–is a jewel that someone holds onto for forever, unless that author goes downhill. (I had that happen to me. It’s truly a sad event.)

As writers, remember, people don’t pay for average, so develop your craft.

New year, new goals

Since this is a new year, and everyone talks about all the new year’s resolutions they are making, the obvious question is:

Have you made any New Year’s resolution concerning your writing?

I haven’t, but as a thought concerning this, I read once that it is better to produce than to spend time. A resolution could be:

I will write for one hour every day.

A better one would be:

I will write five pages a week.

I don’t know about you, but when I get on the computer, even if I want to write, I get on facebook, check that out, check out the stats, check out the weather, and hundreds of other things before I actually start writing. When I do start writing, I’ll sometimes check facebook every couple minutes, or mess with my music, or decide to play music, or any number of other things.

With the second one, I’m committed to writing, no matter how many times I check facebook.

So what about you? What are you doing this year in regards to writing?

Happy Birthday!

Doesn't it look so good?!


No, it’s not my birthday. It’s actually Always A Writer’s birthday. One year ago was when I began this blog. I started it before I knew that most writers in this day and age should have blogs and mostly because I just wanted a place to really look at and rejoice with my writing.

Since then, I have written 276 posts, and 41 pages. I’ve had 155 comments (and 444 spam comments).

Last January, I had an average of 8 viewers a month. Last month (November), we had an average of 19 viewers a month. 4,164 people have viewed parts of this website, and my busy day was March 31st, with a total of 68 people.

Maybe it’s not as busy as some people’s blogs, but I’m pretty satisfied. I’m just hoping that this continues to grow.

So, instead of me rambling on about how difficult it is to rewrite a story (I will do that though. Soon. Since I’m activity doing it right now.), I think that I will give some awards to some posts.

please know the following terms: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, sentences:

This is the most popular post by far, with a total of 679 views. I honestly don’t think a day goes by when someone doesn’t find it via google or something.

The second most common page is on Character Weakness. Sometimes just finding a quick look at possible weakness helps build a character.

A few other of my more favorite posts include All Writers Have Some Mental Illness,  How to be a Writer in 5 [Marginally] Easy Steps, and Six Tips on the Art of Killing Characters. The mental illness one is just plain humorous, the how to be a writer one is just helpful, and the art of killing characters is one of the more popular one again.

There are many, many other popular posts and there are just as many posts that got almost nothing, and I still thought would be helpful. Such as Building Religions (Only 9 views since April.), Cultural differences in the MidWest (5 since last December.) The Beneifit of Not Writing Often and even One Sentence Summaries (4 since October 25th)

So that’s about a summary of this past year. Hopefully, next year will be even better (I keep hoping to get Freshly Pressed to be plain.), I’ll learn more, and maybe I’ll even start doing what would be best for me to do. (Such as write synopses.)

Anything you want to see change here?

(And no, I’m not being all stalkerish with the stats. WordPress gives them to me, and I find it helpful to know what people want.)

The right word.

I might have posted this one before, but Mark Twain said a lot of very wise things, and it fits into the theme I’ve had this month in quotes involving  editing, deleting, and the right word.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~ Mark Twain

Better Editing.

The more I write, the more I learn that the process is about rewriting, not as much as writing. Yes, we need a plot, and good characters and all, but we can have that, be a terrible rewriting, and get no where.

That is partly why I find this post particularly helpful.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~ Anton Chekhov

Think about that for a moment. That gives you more than enough of an idea about how to go about rewriting.

Why to use a dictionary.

You know what a dictionary is, right? That big, 3000 page, dust-covered book at the top shelf of your bookshelve. The one you never dared to look at because you knew the font would be maybe -20 and you didn’t want to have to squint and find the right word, only to discover you’re spelling it wrong and need to try again.

Good news! That’s not the case anymore.

First of all, many computers have built in dictionaries. If they don’t, google has a good dictionary. There are also dictionaries available for your touch, so you can have one wherever you go.

So why don’t you dare use it? Or why would you even want to use it? They’re only for when you’re really stuck, right?

Not exactly. I use a dictionary all the time and it’s not because I don’t always know the meaning of a word, but because I want to find a better word.

1) Dictionaries are great to know the meaning of words. Sometimes we think we know the meaning of words that we really don’t know fully. Case in point: I talked with someone this past week about the word vehemently. I said I generally think of the world vehemently as angry and tense. But if you look it up, it means “Showing strong feeling, forceful, passionate, or intense.” In the way this person wanted to use it, it worked and it worked well. but I wouldn’t known that if I didn’t look it up in the dictionary. My perception of the word was not accurate with what the word really meant, and oftentimes, I find that to be true.

2) Dictionaries almost always contain a thesaurus. As a writer, this is a very useful tool. Say I’m writing a paper and I use the same word ten times on one page. Even if I have it spread out over the whole page, ten times is quite a lot. So I look up my word and find another word that replaces it, one that on occasion will sound better than the original word, or mean something better.

Case in point: I wanted to point a one-sentence summary of my story. I came up with:

A youngnaive pirate questions everything after her ship accepts a new passenger.

I didn’t like “young, naive” at all. It sounded too repetitive and vague. It didn’t fully capture the attitude I was trying to find in this young girl. So I began looking words up and I eventually came up with:

An ingenuous pirate begins to question everything about her life after befriending a desperate brother.

(more on this process and the sentence development  here. Why to do one-sentence summaries coming next week.)

Ingenuous means, “(of a person or action) innocent and unsuspecting.”  with a futher note here:

Most people would rather be thought of as ingenuous, meaning straightforward and sincere (: an ingenuous confession of the truth), because it implies the simplicity of a child without the negative overtones.

(From the Apple dictionary.)

This word worked out very well for what I wanted to imply, which was exactly the innocence, unsuspicious, carefree nature of this girl.

3) You need to replace like forms with like forms. Say I have my sentence:

The oscillate of conservatism in America came suddenly after the election of Barack Obama.

I decide that I’ve used swing to much and I need to replace it. So I look it up.



1 the sign swung in the wind oscillate, sway, move back and forth, move to and fro, wave, wag, rock, flutter, flap.

2 Helen swung the bottle brandish, wave, flourish, wield, shake, wag, twirl.

3 this road swings off to the north curve, bend, veer, turn, bear, wind, twist, deviate, slew, skew, drift, head.

4 the balance swung from one party to the other change, fluctuate, shift, alter, oscillate, waver, alternate, seesaw, yo-yo, vary.

5 informal : if we keep trying, we can swing this deal accomplish, achieve, obtain, acquire, get, secure, net, win, attain, bag, hook; informal wangle, land.


1 a swing of the pendulum oscillation, sway, wave.

2 a swing to the New Democrats in this constituency change, move; turnaround, turnabout, reversal, about face, volte face, change of heart, U-turn, sea change.

3 a swing toward plain food trend, tendency, drift, movement.

4 a mood swing fluctuation, change, shift, variation, oscillation.

I pick the first word I see: oscillate. I decide that’s good and insert it into my sentence.

The oscillate of conservatism in America came suddenly after the election of Barack Obama.

Did that work? No. Because I used a verb in place of a noun. I didn’t look to make sure it looked correct.

4) To confirm the type of word you are using. I do this often in my job as a writing assistant. If a person comes to me with a paper and I’m reading it, I might see a word that I’m wondering if they can even use it. Oftentimes, I can identify what the word is suppose to be functioning as, so I look it up. If the word is really a noun, when it should be a verb, I can then give my person a concrete reason why they cannot do it.

5) To confirm the meaning of similar sounding words: My sister wrote on her facebook wall today:

warmth=happiness therefor I’m not happy.

I’m not going to focus on her puncuation. Instead, I want to focus on the word “therefor.”

Therefor is a word; when I write it now, there’s no red line. However, I look up the meaning and I find:

adverb archaic

for that object or purpose.

She did not mean that. She meant:


for that reason; consequently : he was injured and therefore unable to play.

Yes, therefore probably came from therefor, but a) it’s archaic, so she doesn’t really want to use it, and b) “[For that purpose] I am not happy,” does not work.

Keep this in mind with all words that sound alike, but don’t quite look like. Words like summary and summery, and others like that.

How to write less badly.

When an article is named like my subject, it’s hard to compete with coming up with something as equally interesting. Because seriously, less badly sounds wrong.

That being said, my friend shared a link about how to write less badly. But just the highlights here.

2. Set goals based on output, not input. “I will work for three hours” is a delusion; “I will type three double-spaced pages” is a goal.

4. Give yourself time.

5. Everyone’s unwritten work is brilliant. And the more unwritten it is, the more brilliant it is.

7. Write, then squeeze the other things in.

8. Not all of your thoughts are profound. Many people get frustrated because they can’t get an analytical purchase on the big questions that interest them. Then they don’t write at all.

9. Your most profound thoughts are often wrong. Or, at least, they are not completely correct.

And then my most favorite thing of all time:

10. Edit your work, over and over.

I do encourage you to read the whole article however, since it is quite good, and since I only gave you a small outline of it here.