EDIT REDUNDANCIES: YOU HAVE MY WORD

Do you have favorite words that appear repeatedly in your work? There is nothing wrong with that unless it becomes a distraction to your readers.

Wise Old Editor-Cronin Detzz

There 211 appearances of the word “atop” in the “Game of Thrones” series. Granted, I am a fond student of words so I may be hypersensitive to word choices – but I don’t believe I’m alone in this. Several occurrences of “atop” within one novel wouldn’t be worthy of a blog article, but hundreds of times is a bit irritating to see in a great author’s work. Why don’t editors point this out?

In Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol,” the word “atop” occurs 26 times. Items can certainly be perched atop objects, but Brown overuses it. He writes that a character’s name is “atop the letterhead” on some business stationery. In his novel “Inferno,” atop appears a more respectable 11 times. I really enjoy his books so it surprises me that these redundancies exist.

More annoying was the frequent use of the expletive “My God” in Brown’s “Lost Symbol.” The phrase was used 29 times: 10 times in dialogue and 19 times as a character’s thought. If this phrase were connected with only one character, then it could be argued that it was his catch-phrase, similar to a modern teenager’s incessant use of the word “like.” (“Like, son, that’s like annoying.”)

I did like Brown’s adjective “elegant” to describe an erudite, well-groomed supporting character, but he used this word 24 times in “Lost Symbol.” Hey – he also used it 24 times in “Inferno” – I’ve decoded Dan Brown’s hidden mystical symbolism! There are 24 hours in a day, too. I’m seeing a noble pattern…

One of my favorite authors, Gregory Maguire of the word-famous Wicked series, seems to like the word “fury.” He only uses it 4 times in “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” (a great book – please read it). He sprinkles some fury here and there in “Mirror Mirror,” a revamping of Snow White’s tale. Maguire sets the stage in Italy and Lucretia Borzia is the wicked stepmother – it’s a splendid read.

By the way, George R.R. Martin uses “fury” 116 times in his “Game of Thrones” series. That’s 5 books and it was well-placed and not overly used. It’s a great word and I plan on using it in my work in progress.

I’m trying to be cognizant of word redundancies. In my last book, as yet unpublished, my Achilles heel was “wonderful” and I have done a wonderful job obliterating its use. Well, mostly.

What words have repeatedly slipped through your work? How did you catch it? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Keep writing & keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz

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3 GREAT RESOURCES FOR POWERING THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK

Power through that writer’s block!  There are many resources out there, and below you’ll find 3 links with many tips and tricks – one of these is bound to help you.  Please leave a comment if any of these have helped you.

Power Through-Cronin Detzz

I was pleased to see an academic resource for writer’s block at The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign: Writing Tips: Strategies for Overcoming Writer’s Block, Copyright © 2013 University of Illinois Board of Trustees.   This site states that perfectionism in the draft stage is a sure way catch writer’s block. One tactic they suggest is what they call piecework; I call it fragmented writing. Fragmented writing is perfectly normal and has helped me tremendously. If I feel moved to write the end although I’m only half-way through my work, I jump ahead and write the end. Read more about fragmented writing in this post: 3 TIPS FOR FRAGMENTED WRITING: I’M BATMAN.

The 10 Types of Writers’ Block (and How to Overcome Them) by Charlie Jane Anders lists the following problems and suggests tactics to overcome them.  Here are the types of writer’s block identified:
1. You can’t come up with an idea.
2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out.
3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it.
4. You’re stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next.
5. You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn a hundred pages back, and you only just hit a dead end.
6. You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.
7. You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your story sucks, and it paralyzes you.
8. You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph.
9. You had this incredibly cool story in your head, and now you’re turning it into words on a screen and it’s suddenly dumb.
10. You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks of text you already wrote.

Top 10 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block – Ginny Wiehardt suggests implementing a writing schedule and thinking of writing as a regular job, setting deadlines and keeping them. I admit that this is not a glamorous suggestion for those artsy/creative types, but anything worth doing deserves some goals. Remember to celebrate your achievements and let your friends and family know how much progress you’ve made; their excitement and praise will encourage you.

Keep writing and keep sharing – power through your writer’s block!  Please leave a comment if any of these have helped you.   – Cronin Detzz

HAVE YOU WRITTEN YOUR EPITAPH?

As a writer, you may have given thought to your epitaph. If you are a poet, why don’t you write a little something to encapsulate what you are all about?

Even if you don’t want a headstone, you could still write a poem and seal it in an envelope, with instructions to a trusted love one to open the mysterious envelope upon your “graduation day” to the afterlife.

Epitaph-Cronin Detzz

Here is mine:
Life is brief and fairly fleeting
at the end, there should be no grieving
Moving on to learn all that can be known
open eyes see all that can be shown

Beautiful bliss, basking in the blue
Unstruck chord plays just for you
Sunshine bright below and above
There lies everything
in nothing but love

Please leave a comment below and share your epitaph.

This poem was published in “Poetry for Our Time.” You can peek inside at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ACronin%20S.%20Detzz

Keep writing & keep sharing – Cronin Detzz

A WRITING PROMPT FOR THOSE WHO DON’T LIKE WRITING PROMPTS

“Dad, you had to CARRY your cell phone in your pocket?!”

Rotary Phone Cronin Detzz

My teenage son and I recently pondered what the future holds. What will persist and what will perish? What will his children and his grandchildren find hilarious about the previous generations?

Just in my son’s short lifetime, he has never:
– Used a rotary phone or heard a busy signal
– Saved a file to a floppy disk
– Seen the fuzzy gray static of a TV station off the air
– Turned a knob to change a TV station
– Rolled down a car window with a crank handle

Here is a list of possible questions his children might ask:
– You had to carry your cell phone in your pocket?
– You had to pump noxious gas into your car?
– Grandma wrote checks, and her signature was as good as the amount of money she had? How was that legal? It was like she was printing her own money.
– There were places where your phone would not have a connection?
– What’s a Twinkie?

Here is another list, much more insidious:
– You could carry a little book that allowed you to leave the country?
– There were places in the wild that you could go and no one could find you?
– You could refuse to consent to a search from a police officer?
– You weren’t required to join the military?
– You could make jokes and draw cartoons about the president?
– You could own guns?
– You could vote?

These are the very questions that fantasy writers attempt to solve. I have a deep respect for any novelist who ponders the future of technology and the direction of our political and socio-economic progress. Ask the younger generation what they believe the future will hold and you will have a great writing prompt.  Answers to these questions could make a solid foundation for a fantastic book.

What do you think the future generations will find funny about our way of life? Leave a comment!

Keep writing & keep sharing – Cronin Detzz

PLOT TWISTS: WHAT EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

After struggling for some time with writer’s block on my current work in progress about an uprising, I jumped ahead to playing with plot twists. Yes! It’s okay to jump ahead and write what you can. See more about fragmented writing here.

I’m not going to reveal my twists, but I will say that I implanted a red herring. My goal is to have the reader be very angry at the corrupt villain. This particular villain deserves to be detested, but the real villain – the powerful deceiver who is pulling all the strings – is not revealed until well after the mid-point.

Think about some of your favorite movies, and you will surely get some ideas for plot twists and surprise endings. “Book of Eli,” starring Denzel Washington, has a fabulous surprise ending. My husband and I pride ourselves in picking out Hollywood’s plot twists, so we watched the movie again. We wondered how we could have missed such a vital clue about Eli. You may have felt the same sense of wonder after M. Night Shyamalan’s “Sixth Sense.”

“HOW DID I MISS THAT?”

Fight Club-Cronin Detzz

K. M. Weiland writes a fantastic blog. I admire her because she shares my vision of helping other writers. In her post about writing killer plot twists, she states that plot twists not only need to be unique and executed cleverly, they “must also not take away from re-readability.” This is sound advice for anyone who may want to re-read your book.  Your readers should be asking themselves, “Wow, how did I miss that? I need to go back and re-read the clues. A link to Weiland’s blog is below.

You can click on a blue button to create a random plot twist by visiting pantomimepony (link below). It offers ideas like, “The sister marries the vicar,” or “The social worker unintentionally burns the note, believing it to be cursed.”

A link to an infographic can be seen by clicking the “Awesomer” link below. Many of these twists have been done before, and I wouldn’t advise literally using them, but they are definitely worth a glance because these pictures can get your brain moving in creative directions. For instance, one fun twist is the “robot reveal,” (think Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator”) but a twist you’ll want to avoid is “it was all a dream.”

As a matter of fact, if you are concerned that your twist is trite, read Huffington Post’s blog (link below). Here, you’ll find taboos such as: don’t tell us the aunt is really the mother or that Darth is Luke’s father. I cannot comment on some of this blogger’s pet peeves because I haven’t read some of the books listed, but I do agree that a twist/surprise ending should not be, “oh, never mind, that guy’s just crazy.” This kind of ending is in danger of punching all the teeth out of a story. I do offer this counterpoint: “Fight Club” pulls it off brilliantly. Read the book.

Writers should especially remember to structure the twist so that readers do not feel cheated. Sprinkle a bit of foreshadowing, water it with a few subtle clues, and have fun.

What are some of your favorite plot twists?

Keep writing & keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz

See the link to K. M. Weiland’s plot twist blog at: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/07/5-ways-to-write-killer-plot-twist.html

Random plot twist generator:  http://writers-den.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot-twists.php

The awesomer infographic:  http://theawesomer.com/42-essential-plot-twists/21034/

Huffington Post’s 7 awful plot twists:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/7-awful-plot-twists-were-_n_1148717.html

CATCHING A FEW ZZ’S

If you thought that we were going to discuss sleeping as an aid to better writing – well, that’s true but that’s not the type of zz’s we are going to catch.
Cronin Detzz Pen Names

What do these names have in common:
Eric Blair
Francois-Marie Arouet
Sam Clemens

Ah, you saw Sam Clemens and you caught on. These are pen names. Eric Blair wrote as George Orwell, Francois-Marie Arouet was Voltaire, and of course you know that Sam Clemens was Mark Twain. Have you considered using a pen name? If you use your given name but were given the option for a pen name, what name would you choose?

Cronin Detzz is my pen name. I use it for two reasons. First, my real name is very common and forgettable. Second – and more importantly – my mother was a writer and she mentored me. Cronin Detzz was her pen name. Ironically, I am a junior so my mother and I not only share the same “real” name, we also have the same pen name.

Mom was killed by a drunk driver when I was 24. She was only 45. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to use her pen name. I asked my sister if she minded, especially since she likes to write, too. She was glad to let me use it.

My mom chose this name for very specific reason. In her time, female writers were still trying to break barriers. One of my favorite coming-of-age books, “The Outsiders,” was written by S.E. Hinton. Suzy Hinton used her initials to hide the fact that she is female. Similarly, Mary Ann Evans wrote as George Eliot. So my mother chose Cronin because it can be a male or a female’s name. Detzz was her own creation, and she liked it because of the double z’s. She felt that the “zz” combo was catchy.

Maybe using a pen name isn’t a big deal. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But with a writer’s need to be memorable or to have a name that is easy to pronounce, some people really should use a pen name.

Now that you know my reasons, I again ask you: If you use your given name but were given the option for a pen name, what name would you choose? If you already use a pen name, what is it and why?

Look forward to your comments. Keep writing & keep sharing! Cronin Detzz

Poem: Be Here Now

BE HERE NOW
In the now,
time drips like a leaky faucet
I’m pulling weeds
the sun warms my back
my family rests in the safety of inside
my mind rests in the safety of my skull


No poisoned darts of yesterday will find their mark
No future entanglements ensnare this precious moment
And when this moment slips into what was
another moment jumps in joy, blaring his trumpet of arrival

 

I go on pulling weeds
Thanking the sun, thanking Spring
Thanking the now for the safety it can bring
Thanking the weeds for pulling me outside
Thanking the illusion of time for pulling me aside
Grateful to grandfather clock
for showing me the why, the how,
The peaceful surrender
to be here now

-Cronin Detzz

Be Here Now-CroninDetzz

When writing, we are often  not in the present.  We are thinking ahead to our next chapter or we are applying lessons and characters from our past.  Next time you encounter writer’s block, try living in that very moment.

Keep writing & keep sharing! – Cronin Detzz