ANZAC Day

For those of you who don’t know, ANZAC Day is an Australian occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand troops during World War one. It is a day of remembrance for those who fought, and died in battle.

I was up bright and early this morning for the dawn service, so for today’s post… I thought I’d pay tribute to the ANZACs.

Lest we forget.

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What words will improve your writing?

Two days ago, I posted  an article entitled What words should you cut from your writing? and in the comments, Alex & Bridie suggested I do a follow up post discussing the words that you should use to strengthen your writing.

I immediately agreed and then realised… hey, I have no idea. So I Google’d it :)

One of the first articles I found was this one which encourages writers to use words that will make readers feel something. The way to do that is to use power words. The article lists 317 of them! They are words that provoke an emotional reaction – such as fear, greed, security, etc.

Another common theme was to use replacement words. Replace a boring word with something more elegant. There are also a stack of articles that suggest words you should add to your vocabulary, but I don’t think using big words will necessarily improve your writing.

What words do you think should be used to strengthen your writing? I would say there is no real rule… just use a variety of words. What do you think?

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What words should you cut from your writing?

I’ve been working with a few-beta readers at the moment, and it has come to my attention that I use a lot of “filler” words. For example, I used “just” 11o times in 80 pages…

According to this article, words to cut from your manuscript include:

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1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.

2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.

3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it.

4. Perhaps/maybe: Do you want your audience to think you’re uncertain about what you’re saying? When you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” uncertainty is exactly what you’re communicating.

5. Quite: When someone uses “quite,” he or she either means “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word adds meaning; sometimes it’s fluff. Learn to tell the difference–but, when in doubt, cut it out.

6. Amazing: The meaning of “amazing” is causing great wonder or surprise–but some writers use the word so often that the meaning gets lost. How can something be amazing if everything is? Ditch this diluted word.

7. Literally: When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t have to add the word “literally.” The only reason it makes sense to use the word is when it clarifies meaning (i.e., to explain you aren’t joking when it seems you are).

8. Stuff: Unless you are aiming at informality, don’t use the word “stuff.” It’s casual, it’s generic, and it usually stands in for something better.

9. Things: Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the “10 things,” tell us about the “10 books” or “10 strategies.” Specificity makes for better writing.

10. Got: Think of all the ways we use the vague word “got” in conversation: “I’ve got to go,” “I got a ball,” or “I got up this morning.” Though it’s fine for conversation, in writing, “got” misses valuable opportunities. Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: “I promised I’d leave by 9,” “I picked up a ball,” or “I woke up today,” for example.

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Do you overuse any of these words? Or are there any others you avoid using? I would definitely suggest going through your manuscript and checking to see how often you use the above words. The results might surprise you.

On a side note, my mum (being the proud mum that she is) entered me in the Best Australian Blogging Awards. So if you have a spare couple of seconds, feel free to vote for me. I’m listed as Jodie Llewellyn.

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! I hope the Easter bunny brought you lots of chocolates!

In true Aussie style, I’m off to spend the day at a friend’s BBQ.

Have a good day x

Easter morning:

The day after:

Signing off, if you need me I’ll be at Camp Nanowrimo.

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Like a Virgin, #LV14, Blog Hop

This year, I’m lucky enough to be a part of the Like a Virgin Pitch Contest. As part of the experience, from the 18th to the 20th of April the competition is hosting a “Getting to know you” blog hop.

1.How do you remember your first kiss?
I remember being really underwhelmed like, oh, is this it? It wasn’t very exciting at all, but it did have all those ‘first’ kiss issues – clashing teeth and way too much wetness. Ah, the memories.

2.What was your first favourite love song?
*wracks memories* I don’t think I ever had one. Even now, I can’t think of a love song I like enough to call my ‘favourite’. One of the first bands I ever loved was Hanson… does that count? I do love Kiss by the Rose by Seal. That’s a great song. And Unchained Melody, that’s good too.

3.What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?
I generally clean. Which I know sounds weird but I can’t sit down and relax if my house is a mess. So I’ll do a quick run around, make sure everything is in its place and then I’ll settle in to write.

4.Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?
The first books that I really fell in love with was the Harry Potter series. They’re still my favourite books in the whole wide world. But I don’t necessarily thing that JK Rowling inspired me. I guess the person who really inspired me to commit to my dream to become a writer was my best friend Lyn. She started querying and writing seriously way before I did and I was inspired by her success. I always thought publishing was an elusive dream that would never happen, but Lyn’s a reminder that good things can happen if you word hard and commit to your ambitions.

5.Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?
My first book is still in revisions :) I’ve made revisions by myself, with beta-readers, even with a potential agent. In the end, the chapter’s beginning was different but everything else was pretty much the same.

6.For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?
Characters. I always introduce characters first. I think you need to know who you’re reading about before you realise why you’re reading about them. I write character driven stories.

7.What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?
Light. I want to write the sort of books that people sit down and can read in one sitting. Books that are fun and make you feel good in the end. Books that maybe even teach you something. But I want them to be light and simple, character driven, and engaging.

This was fun, looking forward to reading other #LV14 blog hop responses.

For those of you who are interested in entering some pitch competitions, Pitch Slam is coming up very soon. You should also follow Sub It Club for details on upcoming competitions.

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The Writing Process Survey

I found this survey on Katy Upperman’s blog, but it originated from the Absolute Write Forums. So I thought I’d share my answers with everyone and you guys can share your answers with me.

Here we go:

DEMOGRAPHICS:

What genre do you write: I write young adult fiction and have dabbled in science fiction, urban fantasy, fantasy, but I think I’ve finally found my home in contemporary YA fiction.

How many books have you written: I’m currently writing my fourth. But of those four, only one is really polished.

Are you published? Not yet, but it’s my aspiration to be traditionally published.

PLANNING:

How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? I’m an immediate gratification kind of girl so I usually dive right in. But I let my urban fantasy about Purgatory simmer for about six years until I felt like I had the skills to get it down on paper.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? Not much. I get an idea, dive right in and figure out everything else along the way. I like to have a general road map of where the story is going, but that tends to come about in an organic way.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc): I have a notebook that I write everything in and usually have a spare word document where I write down in chapter format where the story has been and where it’s going.

REVISING:

How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Can a novel ever be done? I suppose I’ll stop drafting and revising when a novel eventually goes to a publisher :)

How long does it take you to write a first draft? I really like Stephen King’s quote that a novel should be written in three months. That equates to about 1,000 words a day and I like that.

How long do revisions usually take you? As above, I think they’re endless. I don’t really have a time frame, it depends how bad the first draft it and how quick critiques are coming back from beta-readers.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? It depends on the book. SECTOR12 was pretty much the same but I think when I get around to revising WRAPPED IN DARKNESS, it will be completely different.

On a side note, my mum (being the proud mum that she is) entered me in the Best Australian Blogging Awards. So if you have a spare couple of seconds, feel free to vote for me. I’m listed as Jodie Llewellyn.

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When did you start writing?

I got an email from David a few days ago and he suggested I do a blog post asking when everyone started writing:

You should do a blog post asking everyone how they got into the writing that they do, how long ago, etc.

Which is a great question :)

So how did everyone’s writing journey begin?

I guess for me… I’ve been writing since I was young. I started keeping a daily journal when I was eleven-years-old and I still write in it to this day. I started writing fiction when I was sixteen or seventeen. That was the age I started getting into fandoms so I wrote a lot of fanfiction and read a lot of fanfiction.

I wrote SECTOR12 two years ago and it really came about as a dare. I’d heard about the Amazon Writer’s Awards and expressed an interest in entering, so Lyn basically dared me to write a novel in 2.5 weeks and enter. So I did :)

After that craziness, I didn’t write anything substantial for a while, and it wasn’t until September last year that I really decide to commit to my dream of becoming an author.

So that’s my story. How did you guys get to where you are now?

If you have a suggestion for what you’d like to see on this blog, please email me or let me know in the comments.

On a side note, my mum (being the proud mum that she is) entered me in the Best Australian Blogging Awards. So if you have a spare couple of seconds, feel free to vote for me. I’m listed as Jodie Llewellyn.

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