Well, folks. It was fun while it lasted.

As you can see, not much has been happening on this blog lately.

There are several reasons for this, but I will only hit on a couple:

First: It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months--both in our personal lives and on the writing front. A couple of us have signed publishing contracts, and so the need to write, edit, market, promote HAD to take preference over this blog and the services we were providing.

Second: Running this blog, critiquing submissions, providing feedback...well, that's a LOT of dang work. We weren't getting paid for this service. We had a concept and we went with it--for free--not realizing how much time it would involve with very little (nothing) in return for our effort.

Third: Probably the biggest factor that made us come to this decision, was the fact that a good portion of the submissions we received just weren't ready. They needed more revision. We were wanting to give out reviews on AMAZING, fully complete, well edited novels. 90% of what we received didn't come close.

So we've shut it down. We've moved on.

If you liked our comments and our posts, you can check us out on our individual blogs:

Angela Scott: www.whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com or @whimsywriting on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter

D.S. Tracy:

Kacey Mark:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Have you edited the fat rolls and freckled bums out of your manuscript?

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 5:48 AM 3 comments
My Editing Song: “Editing sucks. It really, really sucks. I hate it. It blows. Did I already say it sucks? I did. But let me say it again. Editing sucks. It suuuuuccccckkkksss!”

*And now I bend at the waist and take a bow*

Editing is not fun. Not by a long shot. I’d much rather write—so freeing, so creative. I LOVE the creative process of writing. I love it when my characters come alive on the paper and they feel like real people, people I care a whole lot about and don’t want to kill off no matter how much it is necessary to the story. When I’m writing, and my fingers are flying over the key board, I feel so ALIVE! Such joy.


Editing, on the other hand, is the equivalent to having my knuckles smacked with yard stick while my eyes are being jabbed with the pokey end of a wiener dog. (Just so you know, I posted this sentence on twitter with a fill in the blank. Sharp end of a . . . And I got responses like bowling ball, spork, dry spaghetti, Cinderella Pen, waffle, pencil. But the best one by far was wiener dog. I chose that one as the winner). 



But we HAVE to do it. Just like paying taxes and dying. We don’t have a choice. Okay, technically, we don’t have to pay taxes, but jail doesn’t seem fun at all. AND technically, we don’t have to edit. We can leave it as is, but BOY you’ll look like an idiot if you choose not to. That doesn’t seem fun at all either—it's just like standing naked in front of the whole world while they mock your fat rolls and freckled bum (that’s what the over use of the words “just”, “was”, “as well”, passive voice, and adverbs are—fat rolls and freckled bums. Yuck. Edit those out of there). 

Death you can’t get around. You will die. Sorry. Death is a stickler that way—stupid death. 

Soooooo . . . Can anyone guess what I’ve been up to for the past 72+ hours? Yeah, that’s right. Editing away the fat rolls and freckled bums from my zombie western romance. You heard me. Zombie. Western. Romance. Yep. That’s what I’ve been doing since last Saturday. Non-stop.

Editing blows. I mean, I get it. I understand its purpose and the necessity of doing it—I want my stuff to be top notch. But it’s no fun. No fun at all. That doesn’t mean I’ve got to like it, right? I’m allowed to hate the process. 

I’ve been going back through my manuscript, fixing goofball mistakes, and editing the suggestions given to me by my amazing critique partners and I wonder, “Why couldn’t I have just written it right the first time? What is wrong with me? Ugh! I’m stupid. I'm the worst writer ever!” 

And then I remember Hemingway said: The first draft of anything is [crap]. And just so you know, the second version isn't usually much better. The third is on it's way, but usually by the sixth or seventh revision, you've at least been handed a towel to cover your fat rolls and freckled bum. You feel pretty good about yourself and you even feel like waving at the crowd.

I'm not quite there yet. Couple more revisions to go before I feel like waving.

I know I shouldn’t to use the word “just” over and over and over again, and yet, there it is . . . all 257 of them. What the heck? And let’s not forget the wonderful word “looked.” My characters look at things ALL the time—he looked at her, she looked at him, they looked at each other. *palm smack to the forehead*

All I can say is this, despite the fact I hate the editing process, I would NEVER, EVER, EVER, NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS, publish something I hadn’t edited the heck out of. Ever. It’s a necessary evil. 

I still hate it though.

How about you? Do like your knuckles smacked with a ruler while your eyes are being jabbed with the pokey end of a wiener dog?

~The Reluctant Hook'er (Angela Scott)

Monday, August 29, 2011

How Does a Muse Hire a Babysitter?

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 7:48 AM 3 comments
You may have already heard the concept of filling out a character interview to bring out the depth and motivation of your character. Those nifty little questionnairs can really help bring an otherwise flat character into three dimensional, jump off the page form. It's amazing what you can find out when you simply ask them.
As a fun twist I decided to invite my good friend Tobin to the Hook Me blog today.

Tobin: Easy sister, We're not that good of friends... And did you seriously just use the word "nifty"?
How old are you again?
Kacey: Don't mind him. He's still pissed because of his little flesh wound at the end of book one.

Tobin: Flesh wound? You call this a flesh wound?! Come over here and I'll show you a flesh wound. I'll make us a matching pair. How does that sound, FRIEND?

Kacey: Tobin, focus please.
As I was about to say, our little Muse friend here seems to think he's got a pretty good handle on people.

Who can blame him really, with his ability to see into the human soul with deadly accuracy. But now that he's laid up in bed with nothing to do, his hired help is getting on his nerves.
Tobin's decided to fire his staff and hire himself--and this is the part that baffles me-- a babysitter.

Tobin: What's so baffling? I'm hiring a babe that will sit anywhere I ask her to. Mostly on my lap.

Kacey: I think you're a little confused at the job description, but we're getting off the subject. Tobin here managed to swipe--

Tobin: Borrow

Kacey: Oh-kay borrow  his brother's employment requirements for when he hired his nanny and now Tobin's making a few adjustments.

So lets get into this Muse’s head. Lets find out how a muse shops for his own babysitter.
Tobin: All right, but I'm letting you know right now, this is going to cost you...
Question number one: No one is above my influence. When I say jump, you...

Kacey: Ask how high?

Tobin: No. Not even close. Don't talk, just jump. Muses are all about visual stimulation, not chatter. And did I mention push-up bras are a dress code requirement?
You're fired by the way.
Next question: Women fall at my feet on a regular basis. How do you avoid violating our business relationship.
Kacey: I--

Tobin: Upupup! You see that right there? See how you're opening your mouth?
Fired!
Again. No yapping. just doing. It's perfectly natural to fall at my feet, on your back, or in any other compromising position. I'm hiring you to sit on my lap, woman. It would take an awful lot to violate a business relationship like that.  Something like, oh, I don't know, a FLESH WOUND!

Kacey: You're just not going to let that go, are you?

Tobin: Shut up.Next question: I feed on the human soul. I'm always hungry for my next meal. How do you keep me nourished?
Kacey: *shakes her head*
Tobin: Oh?...  what is this? Look at this, ladies and gentleman she is learning.The author can be taught. Just look at those pursed lips. Lovin the pout Kacey, really. You're almost back into my good graces. Just do me one more favor...
Kacey: What kind of favor?
Tobin: Jump up and down.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Reluctant Mom Meets The Pretzel Pixie: Redoux

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 6:16 AM 1 comments
I was attacked yesterday at work. This beastly thing held a knife to my head and wouldn't retreat. Unfortunately for the rest of my story, it was just a migraine, but that sucker had me down and not blogging. So, here's an old blog post from my blog My Life In Writing. The winner of my last weeks "Pimp Your Blog" is the crazy girl at ecwrites.blogspot.com. She writes funny, endearing stories about her life as a mom, writer, and all the other amazing things she does. Check her out!

****



I moved away from my birthplace about eleven years ago, which was quite an accomplishment for this mama's girl. My husband had an opportunity he didn't want to pass on, so I put on my big girl hat and we moved to another state. I didn't jump back into my career, instead we decided to start a family.  
I love being able to stay at home and take care of my kids, but it isn’t easy. We didn’t move here with readymade friends, so my new social life consisted of a few neighbors and my little ones. Until an ordinary shopping trip to Sam’s Club changed everything. 
After buying an ultra-grande box of diapers and wipes, my two children and I waited in line for a pretzel. In case you haven’t tried a Sam’s Club pretzel, I highly recommend it. My stomach dips and rumbles with anticipation as I stroll through the warehouse aisles, waiting for the buttery, salty yumminess to slip down my throat. The line was long, but I wanted my  pretzel. I wasn't going to leave without one. 
A woman behind me complimented my daughter's irresistible cuteness. I smiled, but didn’t encourage chitchat. You really have to be careful who you meet nowadays and even though she looked like a pixie, I knew not to trust her. Pixies can be dangerous, right?
The line soon came to an abrupt halt when the trainee had some sort of Code Blue. The pixie lady took the opportunity and chattered away and cooed at my baby boy. 
“He’s darling,” she said. Her smile looked genuine enough—a bit too eager for my liking.
“Thanks.”
Yeah, I know I don’t sound so friendly, maybe even a tad cold, but that pixie had a good complexion. A complexion so perfect I just knew she had to be an Avon lady or even one of those pink Cadillac driving Mary Kay salesperson of the year.
As I used my Jedi mind tricks on the cashier to hurry along with the orders ahead of me, my daughter started playing with her two little girls, bouncing around and giggling. Thankfully, the line started moving and I got my buttery, salty pretzel and bucket of diet coke. I smiled and said goodbye to the pixie and wandered through the crowd to find a table. 
Somewhere along the way, my daughter had other plans. She turned around and returned to the pixie lady and asked them to join us. Horror filled my face, not only did my little girl run from my side, but she was bringing the pixie cosmetics pusher over to me. I vowed that she’d be grounded until she was five if I ended up with a jar of must-have wrinkle cream. The woman’s smile grew as she and her little girls strolled over to the table.
“Your daughter is so sweet, she asked us to join you. Would that be all right?”
I smiled and shrugged, probably mumbled for her to sit down. I let her do most of the talking. She told me how hard it was making friends in a new city. She apparently just moved from California. We live in a predominately LDS (Mormon) community and meeting people can be hard if you aren’t of the same faith—or at least, it feels that way. I related to her problem because I was baptized LDS, but don’t go to church. And although I have two busy kids and hardworking husband, I really didn’t have much of a social life.
So maybe the Pixie wasn’t as crazy as I thought she was. The pixie just wanted a friend. But why in the world would she choose me. I’m the opposite of pixie. I have a hard time keeping my opinions to myself, I don’t talk to strangers in the Sam’s Club line, and I don’t trust easily. This girl looked like she breathed in Disneyland fairy tales. What would we have in common besides our kids? 
The Pixie asked for my number and I gave her mine, but vowed to file it away and never use it. A month later, the Pixie called and nearly five years after that, I’m happy to say she is one of my dearest friends. She is like a kindred spirit to me—a person I was destined to meet. I strongly believe there was a force greater than the pangs of longing for that pretzel when I met my pixie friend.
We are vastly different in so many ways, except for the ones that count. I look forward to our “Good Moorling” conversations and know that no matter what we’ll always be friends.
Sometimes in life, stepping out of your comfort zone is the thing that saves you. A person can tread water for only so long before he has to swim. Take chances in life and in your writing. I heard a saying once to write what you know. But to me, that’s like waiting in line for a pretzel and ignoring possibilities of something better—something lasting.

Do you experiment with your writing? Step out of your comfort zone? Or have you ever had a situation happen that lead you on a journey you never imagined?  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pimp Your Paragraph #2

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 5:00 AM 6 comments
(Your comments are welcomed and highly encouraged. The author of this first paragraph submission is looking for all the constructive criticism they can receive to improve their opening hook.  Do you agree with us Hook'ers? Or were you hooked and would want to read more? Let this author know).

Original Paragraph: 


"Wrath, he asked of me. Waste your immortal voice singing of the destruction wrought by pitiless Achilles that cost Greek and Trojan lives alike. Glorify with a golden lyre fleet-footed Achilles whose insatiable blood-lust left mountains of corpses in his wake. Inspire bards in the years to come with praise for he who made a thousand widows mourn... Achilles’ wrath, he asked of me. Not piety nor wisdom should I honor. No, my father asked for wrath: celebrate the murderous rage of he that was doomed to die at the Skaian gate."
***

"Wrath, he asked of me. Waste your immortal voice singing of the destruction wrought by pitiless Achilles that cost Greek and Trojan lives alike. Glorify with a golden lyre fleet-footed Achilles whose insatiable blood-lust left mountains of corpses in his wake. Inspire bards in the years to come with praise for he who made a thousand widows mourn...(reconsider ellipses) Achilles’ wrath, he asked of me(huh? repeater). Not piety nor wisdom should I honor. No, my father asked for wrath: celebrate the murderous rage of he that was doomed to die at the Skaian gate."  hmmm, I'm not sure how to comment on this. I had to read it a few times and still don't get it. I'm confused. Can you break it up with action or something? I have no context of what's going on or who's speaking. I'm sure I'll get that in the next graph but . . . ? 

~The Skeptical Hook'er
***
Just bare with me here whist I take you on a tour through my dizzying intellect as I read this...
"Wrath, he asked of me. <Okay so we're talking to Wrath, right? okay. We're hitting the ground running. I like that>Waste your immortal voice singing of the destruction wrought by pitiless Achilles that cost Greek and Trojan lives alike. <Holy cow, long cumbersome sentence. It sounds more poetical than anything. Which could be a good thing if it's pulling us into the culture of Ancient Greece, but otherwise... For now let's go with the Grecian theory>Glorify with a golden lyre fleet-footed Achilles <Okay so we've got a new character in the mix. Great. I love a party, but why did we invite him if he's just going to stand around the punch bowl all night? Why is he here?>whose insatiable blood-lust left mountains of corpses in his wake. Inspire bards in the years to come with praise for he who made a thousand widows mourn... Achilles’ wrath, <Okay now you've officially lost me. Are we talking about Achilles? Or Wrath, Or Achilles' wrath? Now its like I'm stuck in a dark coat closet and I can't tell who's who or what's what.... and I'm missing the party>he asked of me. Not piety nor wisdom should I honor. No, my father<Oh crap! Party's over. Now dad's home! How did he get here so fast? And why is he here?> asked for wrath: celebrate the murderous rage of he that was doomed to die at the Skaian gate."

I hope that you will take my comments as nothing more than good natured. I don't mean any harm and I'm not really trying to mock your work. I'm trying to make the point here that we have no clear vision of time, place, character or setting. It could be in ancient Greece, or at a USU Toga party for all I know. Monologues are fine, but this one comes off difficult to understand and the story is still in the dark as far as I'm concerned.

~Rabbit in a Hat Hooker
***
"Wrath, he asked of me. Waste your immortal voice singing of the destruction wrought by pitiless Achilles that cost Greek and Trojan lives alike. Glorify with a golden lyre fleet-footed Achilles whose insatiable blood-lust left mountains of corpses in his wake. Inspire bards in the years to come with praise for he who made a thousand widows mourn... Achilles’ wrath, he asked of me. Not piety nor wisdom should I honor. No, my father asked for wrath: celebrate the murderous rage of he that was doomed to die at the Skaian gate."

Okie, Dokie. Something is going on here. Something is being said, I get that by the use of quotation marks at the beginning and at the end of this passage. Quotation marks tend to indicate that--my deductive skills did help me figure that out.

Is this a a voodoo type curse to bring about the immortal destruction of Greece? A prayer? A student reading out of  text book? I don't know. I give up. I'm trying to understand what is taking place here and I ain't got a clue. 

I almost get the feeling that someone is reading this, quoting this. If so, we need something to indicate that. Starting off your novel in the manner, without the use of, "he said, while reading from his Greek Theology  book" or "he said, speaking to the heavens" leaves me very, very confused. I'm with The Rabbit in the Hat Hook'er on this one, I need a scene or a sense of time and place, something, anything to clarify this for me. This paragraph is cumbersome and really, tells me nothing. Perhaps the second paragraph would help or even the first chapter would better help me understand this passage, but since this is about the first paragraph only, I really haven't a clue what this story is about or where the author is planning to take me. 

~The Reluctant Hook'er









Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Bit of Writing Advice (VIDEOS)

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 7:03 AM 2 comments
(It is allergy season and I've been hit pretty hard--watery itchy eyes, the sniffles, and lack of desire to stay conscious. Allergies have wiped me out. So today, instead of writing an allergy medicated induced post, I'm going to toss out some of my favorite writing advice videos for you to enjoy. Enjoy the videos while I search out another box of tissues).


Right now, this is where I am at in my writing--frustrated. I have a heck of a time writing endings that are coherent and leave my readers feeling joy and completion. I've been editing my last twenty pages of my WIP for the past four or five months (what a dork, right?) but I know once I nail the ending, make it perfect, I, as a writer, will be all the better for it. 


Stephen King's book On Writing is one of my favorite books on the writing craft. If you've not had a chance to read it, I highly suggest you do. He is forthright and honest. He tells you like it is. Also, there is a section in the book about his life, how he became a writer, the process, and how he was almost killed by a drunk driver--Stephen King, by all rights, shouldn't have lived through that accident. It's a fantastic book.


This video cracks me up! Awesome. A bit of fun for you.

Have a great day, everyone. Write. Write. Write. 
And then when you're done with that, go write some more. 
I know you want to. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fond Memories of Summer

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 6:41 AM 1 comments
Good morning to you all,
Rabbit in a Hat Hooker here.

Remember those countless hours--and for me countless sumburns, spent in the neighborhood of your youth? Remember Tag? Kick the can? Hide and go seek?

I think my parents must have lost track of me about the day after school let out and didn't find me again until days like today. *Sigh*

For many of you, today marks the first day of school for your children. A day filled with anxiety, excitement, and maybe even a small tinge of grief for those long summers meeting a bitter, bitter end... Kinda tastes like chalk dust.

The kids of today rarely spend as much time outside as we did, but I can gurantee it builds more memories than what level they got to on their X Box game. And the best part is, it's free. No cords, no power bill, no expensive gaming system. You get the idea. I'm preaching to the choir here, I can almost hear the collectibe Amens.

My children and I celebrated our last day of summer  running through the sprinklers and playing in the pool. If I had suggested going inside for some quality TV time, I'm pretty sure they would have tied me up with their jump rope and left me to sponge up sprinkler water.

As readers and writers alike, we all have this in common. Given the choice we'd rather go out and experience than sit back and obsorb. I encourage you to keep this in mind in your writing.

But how do we keep people turning pages if they'd rather be out there experiencing it?

By locking on to those common memories even until the snow starts flying. Embrace it in your writing so readers can dust of those fond memories and enjoy them.

Your characters don't always need to go through a monolighic and heart wrenching event in order for your reader to connect. It can be found in the small things too. Like scene and setting, common references, and your character's culture.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Skeptical Hook'er's Corner: Pimp Your Blog #1

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 9:25 PM 6 comments



If you haven’t already guessed it, the three Hook’ers of Ready, Aim, Hook Me want to support writers. We spend hours and hours reading submissions with nothing in it for ourselves except to promote our fellow writer. It's a Karma thing. 

Sure, we don’t make it easy. Our rules are strict: you may be great, but we have to be hooked start to finish. The reason for all of this is to get self-published (most of who submits) novels into the hands of the reading public—they are out there, somewhere. We want good books, written by amazing authors to see their way out of the drawer or closet. Did I say good? I meant great, which isn't easy.  

It isn't easy for us either. There are days when we are ready to call ’er good because this blog cuts into most of our own writing time. I haven’t written anything but blog posts for over a month. And yet, we still don’t have a "Two out of three Hook’ers love my book" review.

Are we too picky?

Maybe.

So, while we are still plowing through submissions, we still want to show whatever followers we have left (I know rejections are hard) that we are in your corner.

To be successful takes a bit o’ skill, a pinch of luck, a shake or two of patience, and a whole lotta persistence. But minging along with all that is networking. You want to sell your books somewhere, right?

For the first ten people who craft a sentence with one of the words listed below, I want to follow your blog. Not only do I want to follow your blog. I want you to Pimp your blog to all of us. Tell us what your blog has to offer the followers at Ready, Aim, Hook Me.

I will read your creative sentences, visit all ten blogs, and follow, given that you are one of our followers—reciprocation.

AND, whoever wins me over in both sentence and blog appeal will land in our blog roll. It may not seem like much but one of our followers may just want to buy your book one day.

Remember the rules: Sentence, pimp your blog, follow us, I will follow you=best of show lands in the blog roll. (I may pick more than one)

I will do this again, so if you don’t make it this week, try again.

Ready, set . . . hook me! (yes, I used an exclamation point and I liked it)

Bromidic
Dactylion
Farctate
Interfenestration
Lethologica
Qualtagh
Agelast
Gongoozler
Wanweird
Thelemic

Don’t know what they mean, google it.  First come first serve with word choices. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Mom Jeans" & Writing No-No's

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 7:23 AM 9 comments
(Bear with me, this will have a point. I promise. Oh, and something wacky happened with my numbering below in the conversion process. Sorry about that).


Years ago, I decided that each of my family members needed a 72 hour emergency kit. You know, in case of an emergency. 

I would make sure each kit contained enough water, food, clothing, and basic survival essentials to live on in case of earthquake, hurricane, tornado, zombie apocalypse. What a good mom I was. I tossed in granola bars, pop tarts, bottled water, toothbrushes, toilet paper, hard candy, etc . . .  

Bring on the emergency. We were ready.

(Just kidding. Don’t bring on an emergency. I like things non-emergency like. I really, really do).

Well, guess what. No emergency. Year after year passed in peace and harmony, and the kits were stowed safely under my bed. Eventually, with time, I forgot about them.

Here’s the thing about 72 hour kits—they need to be updated on a yearly basis. Yep. YEARLY basis. Not decade. Remember that, in case you decide to make 72 hour kits for your family members, which you should by the way. It’s a good thing . . . as long as you continually update them.

Had an emergency actually occurred, and we had to rely on those kits for survival, we would have died within hours. No joke.

Every bit of food packed in those kits was WELL beyond its expiration date. The bottled water looked nasty, and the clothing I packed (I laugh when I look at them) no longer applied.  For instance, my eight –year-old-daughter would have had to wear diapers, plastic pull ups, and a size 12 month romper. My teenage son and his ten-year-old brother didn’t fare much better (Bob the Builder Underwear for each of them and footie-pjs).

But the worst of all . . . I would have had to wear “mom jeans.” Yep, the pants with the stretchy waist band (they were my after pregnancy pants). I shudder at the injustice I would have had to endure for my lack of preparedness. I would’ve looked hideous. Because even in an emergency, you still want to look cool. 


My point is this: sometimes we need to make sure we are up to date on current writing trends and tips. We need to continually be updating our writing skills so we know what is industry standard and what just makes us look like amateurs and fools. There is an abundance of information available to us as writers and we need to take advantage of it. There is no reason that we shouldn’t—unless you THINK you know it all.

You would hate to be standing there, holding your manuscript, wearing “mom jeans” and looking rather dumb now, would you?

A    A couple of things to remember (things I’ve seen in our few months of critiquing): 

1)    1) Do not underline anything in your manuscript. Some of you have been told that you underline words or phrases that you want to emphasis. This is no longer true. You use italics for emphasis. 

      2) The only time you use single quotation marks is if you are quoting something inside a set of double quotations. Otherwise, always use double quotation marks.

3)      3)You only need one space after a period. Not two.

4)      4) Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.

5)      5) No funky fonts. Stick to Times New Roman. There are a couple of others that are acceptable, but Times New Roman is the standard font.  No curly Q’s.

6)      6) It’s best to use contractions in your dialogue. Most people don’t talk like this, “I can not believe he did not see the cow in the middle of the road? He should have swerved.”

7)      7) Know the industry standard for word length in your genre. If you self-publish, I guess it doesn’t matter if you have a 250,000 sci-fi novel. Traditional publishers, on the other hand, will pass it by. Especially if you are a new author.  Anything less than 50K is considered a novella and not  novel.

8)      8) Do not use more than one exclamation point to indicate your characters excitement. None of this--!!!!! Or this--!?! .  In fact, use exclamation points sparingly.

9)      9) Do not use more than one modifier. I mean, it’s great to know that your hero has super, cute, brown, wavy, shiny hair. There is no need. Just pick one. Otherwise, your reader will forget what it was you were trying to modify.

Keep yourself updated. Read the books that are out there. Subscribe to writing magazines. Keep reading our blog (ahh, I had to put that in there).

Don’t have a decade old 72 hour kit as your writing arsenal. Make your kit fresh and current—useable. You will be so much better, so much wiser, so much more in tune to today’s writing standards if you do.

What other outdated rules have you seen people continue to use? What do you do to keep yourself current in an ever changing world of writing? Your tips and comments would be appreciated.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our First Pimped Paragraph #01 (Do you agree with the Hook'ers?)

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 5:00 AM 11 comments
(Your comments are welcomed and highly encouraged. The author of this first paragraph submission is looking for all the constructive criticism they can receive to improve their opening hook.  Do you agree with us Hook'ers? Or were you hooked and would want to read more? Let this author know).
Original 1st Paragraph Submission: 
The frigid, pre-dawn wind cut through the hooker’s fake fur jacket, her uncovered lower extremities already numb. One shaking, ungloved hand lifted the receiver of the payphone, the other hand fumbled for change in her pocket, and the crumpled business card.  The card had been slipped into the coat pocket weeks ago by a young detective, from the precinct in downtown; the one cop who had ever reached out to her, treated her as something more than what she appeared to be. 

Here goes: 
The frigid, pre-dawn wind cut through the hooker’s fake fur jacket, her uncovered lower extremities already numb. One shaking, ungloved (Pick one or the other, but not both) hand lifted the receiver of the payphone, the other hand fumbled (in her pocket for change and the crumpled business card) for change in her pocket, (remove comma) and the crumpled business card.  The card had been slipped into the coat pocket weeks ago by a young detective, from the precinct in downtown; the one cop who had ever reached out to her, treated her as something more than what she appeared to be. (This entire sentence is telling. You could remove this and simply show us who gave her this card by asking for the detective. We will see the kind of man he is through their dialogue. Let the reader determine what kind of a man he is, instead of telling us he a good cop) ~The Reluctant Hook'er
*******

The frigid, pre-dawn wind cut through the hooker’s fake fur jacket, her uncovered lower extremities already numb. One shaking, ungloved hand lifted the receiver of the payphone, the other hand fumbled for change in her pocket, and the crumpled business card. (I'm not a fan of starting with any sort of description of weather--at all. I don't know why it bugs me so much, I did it myself, but it comes off tired and played out. You have too many adjectives going on, I agree with what Angela said above. It makes it read a bit clunky.)The card had been slipped into the coat pocket weeks ago by a young detective, from the precinct in downtown; the one cop who had ever reached out to her, treated her as something more than what she appeared to be. (this sentence is huge and passive. "The card had been slipped..." should be: "The detective slipped the card into..." Besides passive voice, I agree with Angela on this being telling. It takes away something for the reader by telling us what kind of guy he is, especially if he is a major character in the story. I want to make my own judgement about him, not be told he's a stand up guy right away.) I have to say I am intrigued and would continue reading. BUT, you definitely need to declutter your sentences a bit. No worries, we all have to do it. Best of luck. 


~ The Skeptical Hook'er


*Only two hook'ers were able to comment this week. The Rabbit In The Hat Hook'er is tied up at the moment(she writes romance so take it as you will). 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coyboy Up! Finding the Strength in Our Characters

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 7:47 AM 7 comments
I had the great pleasure of attending the Cache County fair and rodeo this weekend. Its probably like any other county fair...The food that always smells better then it tastes. The carnival rides filled with delighted passengers, and the throngs of oddly shaped and decorated people-watching opportunities.

My favorite part of all is the rodeo... well, more specifically the cowboys.

Its easy to cheer for these guys because you see the determination in their face, their walk.

Even the little cowboys and girls have it. From the comfort of my aluminum bench seat, I watched a swarm of six-to-ten-year-olds chasing cows around the ring, trying to catch the bright colored bow attached to the cow's tail. As they tumble and scramble through the dirt, you know these aren't the kids that cry when they fall down and scrape their knee. They get right back up and do it again. Save the scrapes and bruises only to solidify their glory later.

These people are born and bred to be heros.

But back to the cowboys for a moment (I'm sure you don't mind), This is going to sound really bad, but after watching a few successful bronc rides, and tight wranglered butts victory-strut around for several minutes, I found myself hoping that someone somehow would find themselves flying off the saddle.
Why? Because I want them to get hurt? Have a sick obsession with gore? No, no, not at all.

Okay, well, maybe a little. But the bottom line is, I want it to be difficult for them. The entertainment isn't about looking good in the jeans, or the personality. It helps, but after a while it's boring. I want them to triumph but I want them to work at it and face real risk. That's what makes it exciting.

Much like the American cowboy, we need to give our characters opposition that isn't easy to overcome. Sometimes we like our characters so much, we don't want to see them get hurt. You need to push them out there to face their fears before they can develop into characters you really want to root for!

You don't have to turn every character into a cowboy or girl, but I would recommend giving them "cowboy up" moments that makes us admire and respect them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Biggest Loser: Manuscript Edition

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 9:15 PM 5 comments

"I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil." ~Truman Capote

The revision process isn’t fun for every writer. I’ve heard some say it is where the real writing begins while others would rather stab their eye out with a fork than even tackle such a monstrous feat. There are also those who believe their first instincts are right and roll with a first draft. A foolish concept if you ask me, and one that will only produce an inflated manuscript. Even the best writers need to revise.

One common thread among the submissions we’ve received is the need for at least one more round of edits. Some need more than that, but there are several who just need to declutter and trim. They need to lose some fat and get that ’script trim and in primetime fighting condition.

Just like the contestants on Biggest Loser, it’s not as easy as simply cutting back a donut or two or in a writer’s case an –ly word. You have to dig deep and take one-step at a time—one crunch, one pull-up. Have you ever noticed how hard push-ups are the first time you do them? I used to do thirty every night. (Yeah, I’m not sure what happened to me.) As I got older, ten killed me. Okay, five. But I could do one; the next night maybe two. I took it slow and made my way to ten.
The same can be said for writing. Trim up a bit of fat and you’ll see a difference instantly.
I like to feel and see success quickly so I’ve developed my own system of revision. It works for me, spurs me on for the big manuscript overhaul. But, I have to start small or I’ll lose myself in all the fat.

Phase one: Get rid of all the unnecessary words and phrases
These are all the words you don’t need. I think every writer is different because we all tend to use certain repeaters. If you’ve ever read rough drafts for other writers, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It seems like the writer picked one word and rolled with it over and over and over again. Here’s a few in my checklist. I don’t have the space on this blog to put them all so I’ll just give you a few.

Just, so, well—I am a horrible “well-er”. I use it in dialogue constantly. I try to destroy most of these words as possible.

Up, believed, knew, saw, felt—(assuming third person)

Ex: “I stood up.” I know there’s the phrase “stand down” but . . . Same can go for “down”.  I was actually surprised how often I did this. So although I know better than when I wrote my first manuscript, I always do a quick search.

“She felt his hand graze her back.”  Change to: “His hand grazed her back.” (same idea applied to believed, saw, knew)
You also want to be careful whenever you see the word “felt” are you telling? Are you giving your reader the experience of whatever emotion you are saying he/she feels or are you simply saying “I felt frustrated.” R.U.E

Adverbs: Adverbs in dialogue need to go, no matter what. And if you must use them in narrative, use them sparingly. It’s not that I hate adverbs, in fact, I think sometimes there is nothing like a unique adverb—just have to be clever if you’re using it.

Adverbs are lazy writing. “She smiled seductively.” Boring. Show me seduction, infer seduction, do whatever just don’t tell me she is seductive. Adverbs fall in the R.U.E. category as well. We don’t trust our reader to pick up that this chick is hot for whoever she is smiling seductively at, so we need to make sure we tell them. Chances are we’ve already hit that point, but we can’t resist the urge to go for it one more time.

Phase two:Kill clichés
I have my own kill list, but you may find one online. I know which ones I tend to use more often than not and I add to the list with each manuscript I finish. Clichés are played out—get rid of them. They are someone else’s creation. Use your own brain and think of something clever all by your lonesome. At this point, I also search “like” and “as” to trim up some unnecessary metaphors or similes. If you need to more than a minute or two finding a new way to replace the cliché, simply highlight the section and move on. You need to feel the success of the extra push up.

Phase three: “To be verbs.”  
This one is not fun. Search was/were and highlight them. Your manuscript will be a coat of many colors but you’ll accomplish two things with this. You’ll be able to identify weak verbs and rework passive voice.

“Was” by itself isn’t passive; it is weak. I’ve read blogs that assert the opposite and often label “was” as being passive. It’s just a crappy verb and doesn’t do much for the experience of writing. If you haven’t heard me nag about this before here’s a quick low down. Would you rather read a book? Or experience life and love, magic, fantasy, whatever first hand? Make your readers forget they are reading and I bet you’ll have an audience for life.

Okay, back to passive voice. 

Passive voice is when the object of the sentence is the doer, rather than the subject.
“The girl was bit by the dog.”
Should be: “The dog bit the girl.”  (5 words compared to 7)

The subject is clear and the sentence is concise. Not only does passive voice sound confusing, it’s wordy. Your best writing won't come out of clever prose or weighty description. It will be from clear and concise writing free from fat, pompous language, and in as little words as possible. 

I have several other things I like to search prior to jumping in the revision pool, but I’d like to hear yours? What is on your kill list? Double predicates? Expletives? Adjectives? 

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