Tag Archives: elements of style

Reading, reading and more reading…

Okay – class(es) are in full swing. I think taking the writing class and the anthro class that P wanted to take online MIGHT have been biting off more than I can chew. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the writing class. So fun and interesting and I’m really learning a lot. I fear that my interest in writing and the writing class have overshadowed the Anthro class. I’m trying to keep up – but if I don’t get my homework done with P then I fall really far behind. And – since it is a real college course, they have a lot of homework.

Sigh. I wish I had enough energy for both. It is fun taking a class with P. With NANO and launch around the corner, something will have to give.

That said – still on a reading tear. A little bit at a time, and still 5 books behind making my goal of 52 in 52.  I have a quick flight tonight to LA and then back Sunday  – on which I won’t be bringing my surface so no tv/movie distractions!  I currently have 4 books rolling.  Ender’s Game  by Orson Scott Card) – I know, I know, controversy – Orson Scott – not a nice dude.  But I can’t continue to have my scifi geek card if I don’t read this one), Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, A Memoir on Writing by Stephen King (recommended by my prof), and Strunk and White’s Element of Style (again, and this was recommended by Stephen King).   The latter 3 are all actual books, the first is on my kindle.  I’ll bring two with me on this trip so I can read during take off and landing too! 🙂  Let’s see if I can get through two in three days.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 38 books toward her goal of 52 books.

I just finished reading my favorite book of the year – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. He wrote a magical, nerdy, nostalgic book about a geeky gamer who is trying to find the ultimate ‘easter egg’ (gaming term for a hidden code in a video game that gives the player a prize) within a massive open world/mmo video game and win a multibillion dollar fortune. All the 80’s references were AWESOME. And gave me an opportunity to reach out to the author and asked him how he obtained permission for all of the lyrics and other references in the book. It was insane. And written in first person – very fun. I have recommended it to about 20 people as required reading if you are in the gaming industry. 🙂

So on top of all this reading (to hone my ‘craft’ don’t you know…) I also am writing for class and getting ready for NanoWriMo starting November 1st.   This week we got our first homework back – and the prof said after two additional days of lecture and learning that she wanted us all to rewrite our openings taking her feedback in mind.  PHEW.  Having read my piece out loud to P, I wanted to rewrite a bunch of things too.  So that is our homework this week.

One of the things I love about class is that we write each week.  She gives us a topic (week two – write an interview with your main character to learn more about him/her) and we write for about 20 minutes then she asks for volunteers to read out loud for critiques.   She also taught us how to properly critique constructively and positively.  This week’s writing exercise was to write about the catalyst (the point in the story where the ‘hero’ decides to go willingly or unwillingly on their ‘journey’ – think when Luke Skywalker first meets the droids and there is a message for ObiWan that needs to be delivered, then his farm and aunt/uncle are killed forcing him to go on this journey).

My story (for class anyway) has a willing hero going to college, so figuring out the catalyst has been challenging my brain a bit.  In class this week, I wrote the below dialog to help determine what my catalyst is (the protagonist wants to go to college, but does she know where she wants to live yet?  Having spent the past 8 years living on a studio lot, keeping her real identity a secret – would living amongst 50k students be a) overwhelming and/or b) ruin her cover?  Anywhoo – I didn’t have enough time to finish the thought, but I DID volunteer to read out loud in class.  My content is so simple and happy compared to the rest of the epic saga’s  I wanted to get some feedback early.  I did get some good feedback – none really negative though.  This probably means that the story is SO simple they don’t know how to actually say that.  ha!

Oh well – I’m having a good time.



Elements of Style and other musings

Novel writing class is complete.  I have two months before my next writing adventure begins. So how will I continue to sharpen my skills?  Keep the passion rolling?

First, continue on the 52 in 52 path.  I have a trip upcoming next week where I should get some good reading in (foreign country, only has BBC World in the room, so not much TV to distract when in the room…, not to mention the 11 hours it will take to get there).  I am half way through with books, but over half way through the year so I need to make up some ground, whilst reading a variety of books.   I just found a used book written by the professor of my upcoming UW writing course (Pamela Binder),  it was written in 2000, called The Quest, and has a Scottish highlander on the cover.   Definitely something I want to read before class starts.

Next, continue writing.  I just ordered the 4th edition of Strunk’s Elements of Style.  I have owned this book before, but looking through the shelves, I must have recycled it at some point.   I also want to practice writing several chapters from 1 point of view (POV).  I was looking back at my writings in the past Nano book and found that I always have written from several POVs.  In the first two books, I kept it pretty clean, writing different chapters from different  POVs, but in my latest (and the novelette I pulled samples from for novel writing class) I was a lazy and switched between POVs within the same chapters, writing from an omniscient 3rd person POV.  My teacher and I spoke about that in class last night – he said it’s fine for an early draft, but typically it’s better to stick to one POV at least in a chapter.

In a few of the books and webpages I’ve read recently – POV can be handled in 3 ways – pulling this from ‘Understanding Point of View in Literature’  for dummies’  (ha!)

Point of view comes in three varieties, which the English scholars have handily numbered for your convenience:

    • First-person point of view is in use when a character narrates the story with I-me-my-mine in his or her speech. The advantage of this point of view is that you get to hear the thoughts of the narrator and see the world depicted in the story through his or her eyes. However, remember that no narrator, like no human being, has complete self-knowledge or, for that matter, complete knowledge of anything. Therefore, the reader’s role is to go beyond what the narrator says.
      • For example, Harper Lee’s

To Kill a Mockingbird

        is told from the point of view of Scout, a young child. She doesn’t grasp the complex racial and socioeconomic relations of her town — but the reader does, because Scout gives information that the reader can interpret. Also, Scout’s innocence reminds the reader of a simple, “it’s-not-fair” attitude that contrasts with the rationalizations of other characters.

      • Second-person point of view, in which the author uses you and your, is rare; authors seldom speak directly to the reader. When you encounter this point of view, pay attention. Why? The author has made a daring choice, probably with a specific purpose in mind. Most times, second-person point of view draws the reader into the story, almost making the reader a participant in the action.
        • Here’s an example: Jay McInerney’s best-selling

    Bright Lights, Big City

          was written in second person to make the experiences and tribulations of the unnamed main character more personal and intimate for the reader.
      • Third-person point of view is that of an outsider looking at the action. The writer may choose third-person omniscient, in which the thoughts of every character are open to the reader, or third-person limited, in which the reader enters only one character’s mind, either throughout the entire work or in a specific section. Third-person limited differs from first-person because the author’s voice, not the character’s voice, is what you hear in the descriptive passages.
        • In Virginia Woolf’s wonderful novel

    Mrs. Dalloway,

        you’re in one character’s mind at a time. You know the title character’s thoughts about Peter, the great love of her youth, for example, and then a few pages later, you hear Peter’s thoughts about Mrs. Dalloway. Fascinating! When you’re reading a third-person selection, either limited or omniscient, you’re watching the story unfold as an outsider. Remember that most writers choose this point of view.

    Anywhoo – I want to come up with a couple of writing exercises that focus me on writing from a specific POV, maybe even trying a few from first person. A gentleman in our class (Chuck) read his piece, which was in first person POV. It was pretty powerful. He’s writing a book about a detective in Mexico, mixed up in drug cartel, murder, and general mayhem. He mentioned to the class that he wanted to switch to 3rd person POV, because 1st person was pretty difficult. The class all tried to discourage him. Detective stories are often written from first person POV so the reader can solve the crime along with the detective and really feel close to the action. Interesting.

    I also need to get into a writing pattern. For NaNo I wrote in the evening, while P would make dinner, sitting in front of a blaring tv. While that sort of works for random musings and the rambling prose that I wrote fro the NaNo exercises – not sure how awesome it is for concentrating and writing well. My published colleague at work gets up everyday at 4am and writes for a couple of hours before having to get ready for work and hanging out with his family. 4am!! That probably isn’t going to happen. 5:30am to the gym is early enough. Will try a couple of times though and figure out what works well for consistent writing.