"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Self-Service (Fri. flash 55)

The man's stump
hangs at his side like a tuber.
He pushes his cart
and stands in line.
The stump is hairy, like an old man's ear.
 
I watch my mother
struggle from walker to bed,
the laborious lifting of a leg,
the settling in.
The collective exhale
when she opens her eyes
and smiles.


Written belatedly for the host of Friday Flash 55. Here's to hearth and home and lingering at the table. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Elmore Leonard on the Mortal Sin of Dialogue Tags

Elmore Leonard needs no introduction but his rules of writing bear repeat. I particularly like Rules 3 and 4 and need to be constantly reminded of 3 and 4. So I'm herein reminding myself at the same time I'm reminding you.
 
 
Elmore Leonard’s rules of writing.
 
Rule 3. Never use a verb other than“said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.
 
Rule 4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange.
 
It’s better to convey your characters emotion through their actions, odd habits (ie. biting bottom lip, etc.) and that the word 'said' disappears to readers
 
Despite the overwhelming temptation to do otherwise, use the word, “said,” a lot. The classic dialogue tags,“He grimaced,” or “He chuckled,” or “He snickered” draws attention to the tag line and away from the purpose of the dialogue. Use them sparingly.

If you feel the snickering or chuckling is necessary to move your story forward, fine. Just put it in a sentence of its own.

“No, you don’t,” he chuckled.

vs.

“No, you don’t.” He chuckled at the notion.


Turn your inappropriate tags into enhancing sentences to improve your writing.

Finally: Don't let your characters sound the same.


I know I shouldn't stick my nose in a character's line of dialogue, but like any mere mortal writer, I often buckle to the temptation. How about you? Are you guilty?
 
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Make A Green Gesture

When we think of carbon emissions, we think of coal plants and motor vehicles, but the truth is, computer and internet usage are emissions culprits as well. I participated in the original German Carbon Neutral Blog Campaign several years ago. It was so successful, they are now doing an American launch. The Green Gestures campaign is a large-scale reforestation initiative here in the U.S., by bloggers, for bloggers, in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation. Participation is easy and free, and a native tree will be planted for your blog in an American forest to double the positive impact your efforts will have on the environment.

On the Make A Green Gestures site (the sister campaign to Make It Green) there are links to easy steps we can all take to help out, like ways to opt out of junk mail (phone books) and all that paper, and ideas for avoiding petroleum based products.

If you want to participate, all you have to do is write a short post about the campaign and link to the Green Gestures site. Email them with the url of your post and they will plant a tree for your blog.

 
 
Because we can never have too many trees. Thanks for reading and participating. Have a Green day!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Death Of A Writer (friday flash 55)

The writer's cabin
built atop a dune
was supposed to inspire
the writer.
Now it is empty of the writer.
Only clutter
that doesn’t belong
to a writer
remains.
The wind reshapes the dune.
The dune grass bows to the wind.
Its roots hold the dune in place
but the writer was not to stay.


If it's Friday, it's Flash 55, (a short in exactly 55 words). If you want to read more, or if you've written one yourself, go here.
Don't worry, be happy. It's Friday.

TGIF