Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fear and how to use it



Wednesday started as a routine day. Hotter than normal for my corner of the country, but nothing out of the ordinary. I attended an interview for a bill-paying job and joined my husband at the hospital where he was having a scope run through his arteries. Not my idea of a good time. I've been exposed to this medical procedure as heart problems have effected my father and brother; the pair experiencing two quadruple, and one triple, bypasses between them. 

This, however, is my husband. Waiting four hours to have the explanation of what was done beyond, 'a stint was put in', pushed me to experience fear as I've never felt before. I admit I've gotten sissy-la-la as I've aged. I used to be a bit fearless [read reckless] and would accept any challenge if someone said 'I bet you can't do it'. After all, I was going to live forever.

Not now. I am aware of my lifespan limitations and, as such, have developed myriad fears. This was beyond anything I've experienced. Nauseous, where's-the-bathroom, breaking-out-in-a-sweat raw fear. 

When the doctor arrived and explained just how close my husband had been to a heart attack, I'm surprised I didn't throw up. As I said, I've been down this road several times before, but this was in my life right now. He's been having problems for a couple years of exhaustion and breathlessness, and this diagnosis from the doctor just reinforced the idea of pushing for help until you find the root of the problem. 

I have a recent, vibrant, sensation of fear and, in my writing, I will be dredging up those feelings to give umph to my work. Use good, or bad, experiences to pull your readers into the fray. After all, you want them standing next to you with light sabre in hand. Right?

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen

Monday, July 16, 2018

Back again in red ink





Editing is very much like cutting the claws of your dragon. 

You, the editor, are trimming the unnecessary words, descriptions, information an author is certain makes their work 'majestic'. ALL writers become blind to their novels. They have been so immersed in quieting the voices of their characters that, sometimes, they ignore all the other common sense rules of writing. 

Don't hobble your editor. It is their job to ensure what you have written is awe-inspiring. After all...
the more you get paid, the more they get paid.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year's Resolutions


Every year we all go through the same ritual. We decide those issues we wish to change about our lives and resolve to change them in the forthcoming year. Some succeed. For most of us, it's just another year of empty promises. Well... the Mistress of the Red Ink Pen is slamming down the gauntlet to all you writers out there.

In my fifteen years of editing, I've seen the good, the mediocre, and the what-the-hell-were-you-thinking. There is NO EXCUSE for today's novelists, or any writers for that matter, not to present writing that is error free. The internet is available over the world and access is better than ever. 

RESOLVE to use the internet if you can't find a dictionary or thesaurus--most programs have them automatically installed.

RESOLVE to learn the correct tenses of verbs. This is another case of using the internet, public or personal library to verify the correct word/s. Don't make your editor crazy.

RESOLVE to perform at least ONE edit/read through before sending off your manuscript to the publishing house. Yes, editors are supposed to find the little glitches in the manuscript and note them to you so you can correct them. How lovely would it be if your editor emailed you there were none?

RESOLVE to be the best writer you can be.

Don't make me break out my red pen. Have a great new year and create some magic.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas


The Mistress has set the red pen on the desk and is contemplating the state of the world. I think we all need to take one or two days, shut off all of the annoying outside distractions and savor what we have. So many have far less.

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One more time...


IT


A pretty talented young writer named Stephen King wrote a story entitled IT. This has nothing to do with that story.

This has to do with the overuse of the word it. The word is small, only two letters, yet the impact made by these two letters can drive some people to contemplate -- literacide. 

I'm not suggesting elimination. I'd be at an utter loss with the use of it, however, after you've written your preliminary draft, edit your work, putting in the time to search for alternatives.

When you spot the little devil, ask yourself what is the it? Are you referring to a person? Item? By putting in a specific descriptive word, will you be creating a redundancy of phrases? If so, then you need to work a bit harder to be clear. 

Writing for others to read requires the author to be knowledgeable about the language while still entertaining. Do the work. Your good novel will become a great novel.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pen



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three little letters




It's so simple. Just three little letters that seem to confuse the heck out of writers, professional and otherwise. Let's break it down...

It's - is a contraction of two words: it is. Put them together and you have it's.

its - a possessive pronoun, for example: The shield is its protection against fire. 

Read the context of your sentence. Are you trying to shorten it is, or are you describing a possession of some thing?

Now do it right.

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What's in a name?


Names. They are necessary for characterization when writing. I have a 'naming' book I use if my stories are short and punchy. The book provides simple meanings for basic names of most nationalities. I also have reference books for the specific cultures I might feature.

If I wish to portray a female character who'll be a strong warrior and lead a clan into battle, I'll go to my reference material and search for a name that provides those characteristics. Aife is a Celtic name of a great warrior woman of myth.

When you are choosing names for your characters, be cautious not to make them sound alike if possible. You don't want your readers paging backward to remember if it was Bill or Phil who is the bad guy. They'll do it once. Then the book goes in the trash and you lose a reader.

If you decide on a name and something nags at you that the name is familiar, check it. While names can't be copyrighted, they can be so heavily identified with a character, you'll appear to be plagiarizing someone else's work. Not a prospect I want to consider.

There is a world of names out there and some have unique meanings. Spend time to give your characters an identity from the start. After all, most of us know who Albus Dumbledore is, don't we?

Mistress of the Red Ink Pens