Posted in Creative WRiting

Writing Tips Alphabet Series – B is for… Brevity.

Base Graphic
brev·i·ty
ˈbrevədē/
noun
  1. concise and exact use of words in writing or speech
    * shortness of time.
   I feel like this particular word plays two-fold, as far as writing advice goes. Both meanings of the definition can be taken to heart, when it comes to striving to achieve that which we desire most as authors – to get work done, and for it to be done well. 
  The thing about writing is, quite a few of us sadly learned a way to do it in school that still reflects in everything that we do. I know, come NaNoWriMo time, I will throw all sense of brevity out the window, because the full and filling, the padding is your best friend when you’re trying to crank out an entire novel in a month. But, when we’re just tackling writing on a personal level, when we’re capable of taking all of the time that we need in order to make sure that our first draft is as presentable (it’s never going to be perfect, it’s a first draft) as possible.. we should keep in thought and mind the word brevity. I frequently find myself rambling when I’m not sure what to write about… and what presents from this is 2-5000 words of aimless wandering, rambling, plot lines that I never intended to unearth. If I had taken the time to step back, to be concise and exact in what I was writing… things might have turned out differently. Brevity is important when we are writing, both creatively and in a professional setting. That’s not to say that we can’t be flowery and descriptive – Hell, we can even ramble when the occasion calls for it.
   But we can’t ramble just for rambling sake – well, we can… but it’s going to end up wasting a lot of time and editing effort that we seriously didn’t have to waste.
   If you do need to ramble, make a separate document for it. In my Scrivener documents for my novels, I have a scrap section for thoughts, general paragraphs, phrases, etc. If I need to ramble, I can ramble there. If it comes to the fact that I can use the words in my story, I have them. If it ends up that I didn’t need them anywhere other than out of my mind… they aren’t clodding up my story and taking away precious writing/editing time that I would have otherwise had on my hands.
   It’s not just about conciseness in your writing, however. Brevity has a secondary meaning, and I almost feel like that meaning is more important than the first.
   Shortness of time.
   Really think about that for a second, if you will. I’m completely guilty of this as well, and I’m hoping that maybe I’ll finally use this as a chance to practice what I preach. But… a shortness of time.
    We always tell ourselves that we’ll edit tomorrow.
    That we will start keeping up with our goals tomorrow.
    That we will start writing that 500 words a day tomorrow.
    That we will polish and edit our story tomorrow.
    That we will send it to publishers tomorrow.
    But, so often… tomorrow never actually comes. It’s always that vision out in the horizon of what we could be doing. Whether it’s from fear, laziness, or being busy… we all need to recognize the brevity that applies to our day to day life. Maybe it’s scary, and maybe we have a thousand things to do… but it’s worth it to take the time to meet your goals, to set them. It’s important to take the time to overcome your fear (Yes, Author Amanda, I am talking to you) and try to polish something up to send out.
   Tomorrow is always a day away, and there will come a time when tomorrow doesn’t exist at all. I don’t want to spend my life knowing that I waited for a day that was never coming because I was too frightened to overcome obstacles, too lazy to get to where I wanted to go, too complacent to take that step forward.
    I’ve started addressing this in my 1,000 words a day. I picked a number that I knew was ridiculously easy for me – I can write 1,000 words in under twenty minutes. I set the goal, and I told myself that I wasn’t going to make excuses. I wanted to write every day. Sometimes, it’s just rambling. Sometime’s it is something extremely creative… but we all have the capability of writing every day, no matter what goal we set. Try something low, something you know you can do. We all have twenty minutes to spare in a day.
   Brevity, guys. Set goals. Start doing them. Attain, achieve. You have so much potential in you, if you’ll just allow yourself to tap into it and really show the world what you’re made of.
   Brevity. And another B word… Breathe. It’s all just one step at a time, and I know you can do it.
Until tomorrow, guys. I’ll see you for the letter C!
Author Amanda McCormick

 

Posted in Uncategorized

I Crave the Story

It’s a need that burns bright through me – I’ll watch countless movies and see two lips press to one another. On that rare occasion, a film or television show will get that spark, that essence of emotion that I desire… but even then, I want to press pause and crawl into the minds of the people on the screen. It’s not enough to simply watch – I want to know what they are feeling, what they taste, what they think. I want the story behind the emotion, the thoughts behind the passion.

I crave the story.

Even reading a novel, I feel the same. I see things from the perspective of one person, and I wonder so deeply, “What is the other thinking?” I am granted satisfaction, at least, of knowing what one party in a novel thinks. Sometimes authors even grant us the privilege of seeing a scene from the mind of both characters. That is probably the only moment when I get intense fulfillment of a scene. I crave, so very much, the story; the thoughts, the emotions… I want those. I want that spark that happens when people kiss, when they see one another for the first time, when they brush hands, brush with death. I want those emotions – I want to lock them up in my mind and keep them forever.

I think it’s a huge reason that I write. I can’t always attain the story that I want; books don’t always give it to me, shows so often tease at it, movies brush over it. But when I write? When I write, that story is mine, it’s coming from my fingers, from my thoughts, I can close my eyes and let myself think, feel, touch, taste… imagine it all as my characters are seeing it. It’s the story that I crave, and in the moments when I am writing, it’s mine.

Just a little stint here, one of the thousands of reasons that I write. Late night musings 🙂 Question? Do you, as a writer, have that same, intense need?

 

Until next time, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick

Posted in Uncategorized

That Moment Between Sleeping and Waking

We all have that moment, even those of us who aren’t writers. Of course… those of us who are have a huge decision to make; a large decision that could adversely affect our creativity… because the dream that we just had, the dream that is already delicately slipping through our fingers is fading away faster than we can get ourselves sorted. So, we come to that decision – do we get up? Do we take the time to roll out of bed (into the cold hair, or the hot sticky night – as you’ll take it) and find paper, or turn on our laptop to write it down. Will we even remember it properly by the time we do?

I know for a long time I tried writing it on my laptop, which stays beside my bed. However, when I got past the point of booting it up, and rediscovering how to SEE after that bright light blinded me… I oftentimes found that I forgot exactly what it was that I wanted to scribble down to begin with. My amazing and vivid dream about a man who ruled the underworld but came up for a brief day and found himself dazzled and in love by sunlight in a woman’s hair… suddenly turned into “Uh, there was a dude who did… er… something.”

There were, of course, those times that I woke up with the dream so vivid in my mind that I was positive I wasn’t going to forget it before the morning was out… only to find that there wasn’t one recollection of it in my mind after I’d woken up. Hm. Well, that’s not very helpful, is it.

I had also tried the method of keeping an ordinary spiral notebook by my bed. >_> That worked so well as me ripping out pages, losing the things I needed, spilling my morning coffee on it… and treating it like the little 3 dollar notebook that it was. Okay. There was an issue. I needed to solve it – I was having all of these fantastic dreams and then letting them slip through my creative fingertips because I couldn’t keep up with writing them down.

In truth, I’d had the same moments during the day. I’d have a thought, a whimsy phrase – I’d see someone with an expression on their face and it would spark imagination… and by the time I got somewhere that I could write it down, it was gonzo from my mind. As writers, we take inspiration from everything around us… from the way the sun falls through the leaves to the way that the old man at Starbucks keeps checking his phone. And most certainly, in my case, we take a very large and vast amount of inspiration from those things we call dreams.

I needed a solution… and my solution was to get my ass to Barnes and Nobels and buy something that I wasn’t just going to allow to be tossed aside. I ended up getting THIS journal (thought not as expensive here) for around 15 bucks. It may not seem like a lot, but I’ve filled up about 15 pages of it with thoughts, with ideas, with inspiration. I even have a dream that I wrote out in a page, a short scene from the beginning of it. The fact that it is something nicer makes me want to take care of it more… honestly, the aesthetics of it make me feel nice when I wake up and write in it by the faint light spilling from my bathroom. I found something that worked for me – maybe some of you can totally manage the blaring light of your laptop, or writing in that spiral notebook. But for me, having something nice, and completely separate for just writing inspiration did the trick.

And I can tell you, finally getting to remember all of those dreams? Makes a big difference!

 

Until later, keep reading and writing!

Author Amanda McCormick