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Sorry, I know it's been a while. Life has been seriously getting in the way. I hope to start things up again soon. In the meantime, the newest edition of Allegory Magazine has launched. It contains my article: Putting on Your Virtual Game Face. It's about internet etiquette as it relates to publishing and outlines the types of letters an author might need along the way. You can find it at: www.allegoryezine.com

Best,

Danielle

FROM THE HANDYMAN: Pacing

Cut the Bull – Energy Boosters for Writing

By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

You know, sometimes we just don’t know when to stop. No. It’s true, even I’m guilty (I know. Shocker.) We get so caught up in the language and discovery of these worlds in our head that we just pile on the detail. We get so caught up in the creativity that we have to build the universe right down to the thumbtacks on the wall, or we’re worried about not being clear, or missing something important, until we end up with a literal checklist of all the steps that took our characters from A to B…for each scene.

Okay, so perhaps I exaggerate, but not completely. There are times in fiction that call for expansive detail and other where too much clutter kills the action. It is important to know how and when to hold back. Ask yourself a few questions while you’re writing:

1) Have we been here before?

If this is the first time your character is in this setting the reader does need to know something of the surroundings, it helps shape their mental image of where they are. If you don’t give them detail they start to imagine things on their own and that can screw you up later when you are specific about a character or setting.

Now it is tempting to just give a paragraph with all the details and then go on to the character, but in most instances that gives a choppy, disjointed feel to a scene, kind of like the difference between beads on a string as opposed to a smooth braid where things are neatly woven together. I like braids. It is better to feed the reader details in relation to the character and their actions. As the character notices or experiences aspects of the space, that is when you introduce them. It keeps things fluid, connected, and gives a sense of discovery, rather than of being told something.

If the character has been in a particular setting before you want focus on what is relevant to the character, the action, or a future point in the plot at that very moment, and not a lot of extraneous detail that will distract the reader from what is important in the scene.

2) What is the point of the scene? The answer to that determines how much detail is appropriate. Sometimes you want to feed things in piecemeal, other times you HAVE to go in depth.

  1. Is this a destination or a transition? If the answer is destination, we need to know stuff. What does the place look like, who and what are where? If this is just a transition to someplace more important any details you give should be important.
  2. Is it taking too long to get where we’re going? Are you trying to build tension or move from one part of the plot to another? If so and you as the writer start to feel it is taking forever, then take a look at the details you have included. Some things are important for plot or character, but extraneous stuff should be kept to a minimum until you hit a more relaxed portion of the story or book.
  3. Is this relevant later? Sometimes you have to include detail, no matter what the scene. There are always points that you have to reveal the bits and pieces that come together later so that everything makes sense. Like mentioning a belt dagger if the character uses it three chapters later to save himself, or noticing a peculiar tattoo on a passerby that seems irrelevant but in the end betrays the villain.
  4. What actions progress the plot? When it comes to the things the characters do some steps are unavoidable, but others you can skip over. We don't need to know that Jim opened the drawer, took out a pair of socks, closed the drawer, sat on the bed, and then put on the socks. Suffice it to say, Jim took socks from his dresser and put them on. On the other hand, if Jim is fighting an olfactory sensitive monster and the only thing that can save him is the month-old dirty socks under his bed, making him work for it in excruciating detail serves a purpose.

When it comes down to it, we must all judge for each piece we write how much detail adds to the story, and how much sucks the life out of it. If you aren't sure, read the work aloud, feel the pacing of it. If a snail could move faster, trim things down. If you reach the end and you have no clear picture of where you are or how you got there, slow down a bit and explore the world you're creating because that is how the reader comes to care, when you make the world and those that populate it real for them.

Structural Assists to Pacing

I know most of this article has had to do with content, but I wanted to mention several ways you can use the structure of your writing to impact the pace of the scene. These are the conscious choices you can make to inspire subconscious responses in your readers. Wonderful tools when used properly.

  1. Chop it Up. A great way to increase the tension and pacing of a scene is to use short sentences, or even sentence fragments (sparingly, please.) to give a sense of urgency and action. A key place to use this is a fight scene where what is happening is most important. Such as:

Jim dove left. Claws raked his feet, but didn’t take hold. Thud. His body hit the floor. Air left his lungs. Spots formed before his eyes. Yet instinct sent him rolling out of the way. A massive paw slammed down where he’d been. He rolled again. Scrambled for the safety of beneath the bed. The creature snarled. Its nose wrinkled and twitched. Violently. Jim spied last month’s socks just out of reach and knew what to do.

You get the idea…

  1. Punch the Line. No…don’t pick a fight with it. The words would win. Okay, let me explain. Sometimes a point you make in a story is like a sucker punch. Unexpected or profound enough to really grab the reader, but somewhat lost among the other copy. Now this is another thing you don’t want to overuse, but you can get a lot of mileage out of taking that perfect line and letting it stand on its own. Here’s an example from my upcoming novel, Today’s Promise (Dark Quest Books, May 2012):

Looking around the room, she noticed another bed, that one holding a young woman dead pale and covered in dust. Another woman Agnieszka didn’t recognize was tenderly cleaning her up.

The sight left Agnieszka feeling empty and alone. She had had enough. Confirming her own person was free of dust, and rebraiding her hair, she felt marginally closer to civilized.

TIME TO REJOIN THE HUMAN RACE.

And she stepped out of the room. There were a number of people waiting there, half of them looking like they’d just come from battle. Again with the dust, and a bit more blood. She swept the group with her gaze. She knew two of them. Agnieszka turned to the young man who she’d first encountered at her own cottage. Back before her life went catawampus. She didn’t even know his name, but of the two faces she recognized, his was the one she mistrusted the least.

“Take me home, now.”

No, the line isn’t printed all in caps in the book. Just highlighting my example. That line could have easily been run into the paragraph preceding it, but by popping it out it has much more impact, particularly for someone who read what came before this isolated segment :)

Summing Up

Writing is one choice after another. What to say and how to say it, heck, even when. Consider your options to achieve the best effect, keeping the reader interested and moving forward to the next page at the proper pace for what’s going on. Use every trick you have to increase the (positive) impact of your work, but always remember to include the lulls, the relaxed moments, the times when it is natural to stop and smell…anything. And when it’s time to get tense…let the world fade into the background so all the reader’s attention is riveted where it belongs.


__________________________________

So, what tricks do you use to ramp up your writing?

NEW REVIEW

 
Nice way to wake up on a yucky day. Received a new review today for the Literary Handyman:
 
 
"Mrs. Ackley-McPhail is funny and approaches her audience with a light heartedness that is much needed in a hobby/career that can be very depressing at times." 4 Stars, Janelle, You Gotta Read

GAINING DISTANCE TO REVISE

by Jeanne Cavelos

(c) 2012

You don't care about my protagonist?  You don't find my plot to be a page-turning masterwork of suspense?  You think my sentences are awkward and my point of view inconsistent?  Writers are often quite surprised by the feedback they receive on manuscripts.  They are so close to the work they've created that they can't experience it the way a reader experiences it.  When they look at their manuscript, they don't actually see the words on the page; they see the images in their head that inspired those words.  Unfortunately, when a reader reads the work, they see only the words and are left to form their own images, which are often radically different than the author's--or just murky or even blank.  In working with many writers over the years, I've discovered that very few of them know how to revise, and even fewer are willing to put major time and attention into revising.  Generally speaking, you should be putting at least as much time into revision as you put into the draft, probably much more. 

Say you are willing to revise.  How do you start?  Getting feedback is usually a good first step.  Learning how readers experienced your work will help to reveal how your vision of the work differs from the words you actually wrote on the page.  Attending an intensive writing workshop, like Odyssey, can provide you with a lot of feedback in a short period of time.  Critique groups or classes can also be helpful.

But to figure out exactly what changes to make, and to know whether those changes will solve the problems, you need to take the next step.  You need to try to see your work with new eyes, as a reader sees it.  Revision is literally re-vision:  seeing your work anew.  You need to see the actual words written on the page and experience them the way a reader might, rather than having them draw you back into your vision of the story, which is not what is written on the page. 

To accomplish this difficult task, you need to gain distance from your manuscript.  The easiest type of distance to gain is distance in time.  Put the manuscript in a drawer, pull it out in a month, and you will probably notice things about it that you never noticed before. 

Typeface and medium are other ways to gain distance.  You've written the whole piece in a particular typeface, and you've gotten used to it.  You're comfortable seeing the words this way.  They look right to you.  Well, now is the time to make your words like strange and different; it's time to be uncomfortable with them.  Change the typeface on the piece and print it out.  Printing out is critical.  The computer screen hides a mountain of writing weaknesses.  Things look neat and nice on the screen.  Print it out, and now you not only have to face your work in a different typeface, but in a different medium.  Paper reveals weak writing.  Paper reveals story problems.  If you are open to seeing what is there, if you are looking at your work anew, you will discover many areas that can be strengthened.  Look for them, seek them out, don't excuse them, and don't get sucked back into your original vision, and you will find many ways to improve your piece.  Make notes all over your paper copy.

Another invaluable way to gain distance involves switching to yet another medium.  Rather than viewing your work on the screen or reading it on paper, hear your work.  Read it aloud, or have someone else read it aloud to you.  Listen to the words, the sentences, the rhythm.  This will immediately reveal an abundance of problems:  repeated words, repetitive sentence structure, inconsistencies in voice, unrealistic or inappropriate dialogue, excessive exposition, weak description, and more.

If you are successful at gaining distance, weaknesses will jump out at you.  Why did I think this character was sympathetic?  How did I ever believe this scene was suspenseful?  This sentence is horribly awkward!  Once the problems are clear, half the work is done.  Now all you have to do is find solutions.  Which is a topic for another day.

So gaining distance from your manuscript is a critical part of revision.  One note of caution, though.  If you're not careful, distance can lead to laziness.  This happens to me sometimes.  I read a paragraph, or a sentence, and I don't know why it's there.  I have gained sufficient distance that I don't remember the impulse that made me write the passage.  After some thought, I decide I must have had a good reason for putting it there; I must have understood the needs of the scene better when I wrote it than I do now.  I tell myself that, and I tell myself to leave it and move on.  Sometimes I actually do move on, lazy author that I am.  Yet if I force myself to linger, to try to figure out the "good reason" for putting it there, I eventually realize what that reason was:  I didn't know any better.  The passage was basically a placeholder, filling that spot with my best guess of what needed to go there.  Yet it was only a guess, the guess of someone who hadn't written the rest of the manuscript and didn't know exactly what needed to be set up or what was coming.  Then I realize that this passage is not the best possible thing to put in this place, that it could be better, much better, if only I am willing to realize that, and to revise. 

Gaining distance from a manuscript is key to revision, but make sure you don't use that distance as an alibi to excuse weaknesses.  Instead, it should be a tool to provide new perspective and insight, and to point the way toward improvements that will strengthen the work. 

To all of you out there revising, alternating between the elation of solving a problem and the despair of finding you've created ten new problems for yourself, keep the faith, and know that revision is the path toward improving the work.  Remember that you have something worthwhile to say, and it will only get said if you finish the manuscript.  You have created this story, something special and unique.  It deserves to become the best you can make it, and with revision, it can reach its full potential and deliver the power and emotion that you envisioned. 

Jeanne Cavelos

Director

Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust

www.odysseyworkshop.org

________________________________

What is a part of your revising routine?

I do go the print it out route, but only after I've gone through once on the computer. It's a lot easier to tighten things once you have the story out of your system and on the page.

Sorry...

I didn't make the progress I needed to. I'm in the final stretch on the novel.  I promise, I'll be back very soon.

D-

Gone Playing

Sorry...I'm on vacation. Check back next week and I promise to have something brand-spanking new.

FROM THE HANDYMAN: LITERARY DETAILING

I know, I know...I'm late. Sorry, between the novel and Shevacon--not to mention being sick--my schedule is all messed up.

Anyway, here is an article from a while back, hope you enjoy.

Literary Detailing

By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

You know, sometimes we just don’t know when to stop. No. It’s true, even I’m guilty (I know. Shocker.) We get so caught up in the language and discovery of these worlds in our head that we just pile on the detail. We get so caught up in the creativity that we have to build the universe right down to the thumbtacks on the wall, or we’re worried about not being clear, or missing something important, until we end up with a literal checklist of all the steps that took our characters from A to B…for each scene.

Okay, so perhaps I exaggerate, but not completely. There are times in fiction that call for expansive detail and other where too much clutter kills the action. It is important to know how and when to hold back. There are two kinds of detail: relevant information, and window dressing. The relevant details might be regarding the character, the setting, or the plot, the stuff you must tell the reader for the story to work. The window dressing is what helps your story really come alive. It is what the characters experience through their five senses, the type of detail you would casually take note of in your day-to-day life.

Now, if you do your job properly, every part of your story will combine the above types of details with only the degree of each varying, but each scene will have a central focus: Some scenes are so you can get to know the characters and their conflicts and drives, some reveal details you’ll need to know to understand what is going on, and others propel the story forward. What type of scene you are writing will determine how much detail is called for, and what type.

Plot-oriented scenes – These scenes are what we call the build-up. Something happens, or someone says something, or the protagonist finds—sometimes knowing but often not—the key to resolving everything. The reader learns where things are, how they work, and what’s important. There is going to be detail there. Some of it is the whole point of the scene and sprinkled around that detail is backdrop, either to mask that this is an important detail or just to flesh out the scene so that it is not static.

Character-oriented scenes – For these scenes everything should be in terms of how it relates to the character: their motivations, their past, their goals. And let’s not forget, their features and personality. Readers need to get to know your characters so depending on their level of importance, some characters get a little details, some a lot. Protagonists we should know like our own blood because we need to care what happens to them. Secondary characters, we should know their importance to the protagonist and some small amount of detail that impacts the story or their actions. Background characters, something to identify them, a name or a feature, but nothing else that doesn’t directly relate to the scene they appear in. Inner monologues and self-examination are not frowned upon here, unless they go on for too long, but they shouldn’t dominate the storyline.

Action-oriented scenes – In most action scenes you either already know all or most of the players, or they are only relevant for what they are doing at the moment. This is about what is happening, what blows are struck and what plans put into action…reactions and movement. The setting is only important in relation to its impact on the characters and its impact on what is taking place. You want short, sharp sentences where things are happening, not exposition or distraction.

Things to Consider

Once you have a handle on what scenes you are writing, here are some questions to help you keep focused as you tackle each one:

Is the scene a destination or a transition? If it is the former you have more leeway to go into detail because this was the point. If a scene is a transition you want to focus more on relevant details, rather than background stuff. Now, there is a caveat: if the point is to show an extended passage of time, expounding a bit more is to be expected.

Is it taking too long to get where you’re going? If you personally start to feel like things are dragging, then that is a sure sign that they are. Pacing is important and too much detail can slow things down. Go back over the story and pare things back. Shorten sentences, take out detail you don’t really need, even cut out whole sections and give us a fade-away before cutting to another character or just a later point in the story.

Is the detail relevant later? Sometimes we just put in detail because it is cool, and sometimes we mention something that seems totally irrelevant, but the entire story hinges on it. Be careful of focusing on something that isn’t a key point too heavily because readers have come to assume that anything the author spends an extended time on will be important. It leaves them frustrated at the end if some such point turns out to be merely fluff.

Summing Up

Details are what will define your story: they are the building blocks of your universe, the soul of your characters. Be a little coy, be a little bold, and always proceed at the proper pace for the scene you are writing. Don’t be afraid of detail or ignore it, but don’t let it run away with you either.

_______________________________________

What challenges do you face with detail in your writing?

FROM THE HANDYMAN: Word Economy

Sorry, I'm still not done the novel, but here is one of my more popular articles from my writers guide, The Literary Handyman. I have about 20,000 words to go on Today's Promise. Here's hoping they go quickly!

Enjoy!

Danielle

_______________________________

Spend Your Words Wisely

(Originally published in the column If We’d Words Enough and Time, www.fictionauts.com, later reprinted in the book The Literary Handyman: Tips on Writing From Someone Who’s Been There)

How many words does it take to tell a story? Can’t really answer that, can we? Or at least, not easily… There are too many variables; too many considerations. Is it a short story? A long one? A novel? A complex, or a simple one? What do you want to tell? What do you want to simply imply?

Who can say, really? A haiku can convey a story in seventeen syllables; Tolstoy required thousands of pages. Most of us are fortunate, we can answer the original question as simply as this: It takes as many words as it takes.

But then, who wants to be simple, anyway? In this world of done and redone and overdone, we want a challenge, don’t we? At the time this article was originally written such websites as New Times - San Luis Obispo and AOL’s Amazing Instant Novelist—and who knows how many others—offered up that challenge every day: write a complete and compelling story in <however many words strikes the sponsor site’s fancy> and no more. Usually they are generous, allowing a few hundred, at least. A challenge, but a relatively simple one.

Not so with New Times – San Luis Obispo. Are you ready for this? Maybe you better sit down…55 words a story, nothing more!

Can’t be done, you say? Well, there’s the challenge, and the guidelines are very specific as to what constitutes a story: one or more characters, a setting, a conflict, and a resolution. It ain’t easy (ooh! I can hear my grade school English teacher screeching from her grave, now!), but it can be done, as I will show you below. With the permission of my illustrious…anonymous partner in crime—let’s just call him IrateIndigoSimian, why don’t we?—I’d like to give you an example of the same 55-word story from a couple of different approaches:

He had always loved her, ever since the first time he had laid eyes on her
he had known she was the only one.  He kissed her sleeping forehead gently
and considered her betrayal. 

The recoil from the gun surprised him, the finality of it all didn't.  Then
he turned the gun toward himself next.

Simple…straightforward…uncomplicated. Nothing wrong with that. By the contest guidelines, this definitely works, but does it work well? Think about it, the author made use of all of his 55 words, “had” was used three times, “her” was used four times, and “he” was used five times; those three words make up more than twenty percent of the author’s allotment. Ouch! Yeah, it works, but the impact the subject matter could have is diminished by the frivolous use of throw-away words. (don’t feel I’m being too harsh with IrateIndigoSimian, this was a first draft. We already hashed all of this out and he agrees.) Now, let’s look at a later version of the story:

Their love had been the thing keeping him alive for years now.  Her betrayal severed their bond, his soul, his mind.  His final kiss left a soft, warm ghost touch on her sleeping forehead.

The recoil from the gun surprised him, the finality of it all didn't.  Then he turned the gun toward himself next.

Not bad, this version has a decidedly different feel, putting everything out in the reader’s face from the very beginning. You are immediately confronted with the character’s betrayal and anger, and the ending is logical progression, without surprise. This accomplishes something very different from the first draft, and as for economy, not one word, other than articles, appears more than three times. This is an honest, straightforward rendition of this piece, but for my own tastes, a little too much in your face, not subtle enough.

Now for a bit more subtlety: The next one is more ambiguous. Other than the main character’s love, we aren’t sure how this is going until the fourth line. With the emotions drawn on, the fondness that is admitted, the second paragraph is a shocker:

He found he couldn't remember a time he hadn't loved her. Even now, his soul was entwined with hers.  Her sleep was deceptively peaceful.  He gently kissed her cool forehead and contemplated her betrayal.

The recoil from the gun surprised him, the finality of it all didn't.  Then he turned the gun toward himself next.

And the last is on a similar vein, with the betrayal hinted at in the third line, but not revealed until the fourth. This draws the reader in, hooks them, has them guessing. The words chosen have an emotional impact all their own; you feel his love, then his betrayal...and finally, your own shock:

There was never a time he hadn't loved her. Even now, his soul was entwined with hers. She slept so sweetly...innocently...deceptively so. He gently kissed her cool forehead and contemplated her betrayal. 

The recoil from the gun surprised him, the finality of it all didn't.  Then he turned the gun toward himself next.

With all fiction, and most decidedly in micro fiction—or drabbles, as they are now called—you have to choose carefully. Think of the emotional investment of the words you put to the page... for example, in the last line of the first paragraph, the first version has the main character “considered” the woman’s betrayal, in subsequent versions it was changed to “contemplated”...Considered is an everyday word, a ordinary word. Contemplated is more involved, more impact.

It is cliché, but no matter what the length of your prospective work you need to go for quality, not quantity, but most especially with something like this, where you only have so many words to use...each one has to score.

Words should have purpose, a goal, all of them used to good effect. Unless it is for a reason, never use more words than you have to; your work can drown in a profusion of “highfalutin” words, as my Daddy likes to tell me. Use a fancy word because it lends something, because it enriches the beauty of your poetry or prose; by the same token, do not be afraid to us a simple “workaday” word, if it suits your purposes. Simply put, use a word because it does what you need it to do, not because it is delightfully pretentious.

And finally, because it bears repeating over an over—ironically enough—when you are writing and rewriting your work, no matter the length, always keep close watch, guarding against our natural impulses to repeatedly use the same familiar words, even if we have used them three times already on the same page. Many word processors (if not all) have a Thesaurus option, my greatest advice to you: use it.

_____________________

What tricks do you have to catch yourself over-using words? Do you put a lot of effort into "writing tight" from the beginning, or do you let the words flow and then chop in revisions? Let us know!

Okay, I am more than hip deep in a novel that has to be done in a month, so this week is another writing exercise.

Sensory data is vital in creating a living space in your readers' minds. Not just key points relevent to the plot, but also background details that mark every experience we have. With that in mind, here is an exercise to help you focus on the background for just a little while. I've given you four settings below, but you can chose any scene you like, really, as long as you address all five senses with preferably three examples for eah one.

This exercise originally appeared in my book The Literary Handyman: Tips on Writing From Someone Who's Been There, and has also been featured at many a mini Workshop.

Enjoy!
Daniel
le Ackley-McPhail
The Literary Handyman
___________________________________

Writing Exercise – Writing to the Senses – for each of the following listings write down three descriptions that applies to each of the five senses (not all the senses will apply).

 Example: A Fishing Wharf

Sight:

1. a long expanse of weathered pier,

2. sun sparkling off the water,

3. a lone pole propped against the rail

Smell:

1. the tang of brine on the wind,

2. the tarry aroma of the sun-heated planks,

3. the scent of roasting peanuts from a nearby vendor

Sound:

1. the strident cry of the gulls,

2. the gentle slap of water against the pilings,

3. the hissing zip of a cast fishing line

Taste:

1. a hint of salt as the surf sends a mist into my face,

2. the beefy taste of hot dog I bought on the boardwalk,

3. the flavor of fish

Touch:

1. the wet slap of a caught fish,

2. rough wood beneath my fingers,

3. the breeze tugging on my hair

  

A City Street Corner

Sight:

1.

2.

3.

Smell:

1.

2.

3.

Sound:

1.

2.

3.

Taste:

1.

2.

3.

Touch

1.

2.

3.


A Room in an Abandoned Building

Sight:

1.

2.

3.

Smell:

1.

2.

3.

Sound:

1.

2.

3.

Taste:

1.

2.

3.

Touch

1.

2.

3.

  

A Battlefield

Sight:

1.

2.

3.

Smell:

1.

2.

3.

Sound:

1.

2.

3.

Taste:

1.

2.

3.

Touch

1.

2.

3.

 

Part Two

 

Write a brief scene incorporating the details you have listed above for one of the settings (you do not have to use all of them, just what fits the scene)

 

FROM THE HANDYMAN: Observation

Get Your Nose Out of the Book!

by Danielle Ackley-McPhail

This one is completely on the fly, folks...(That's what happens when you have a crazy-ass novel deadline....sorry).

Confused by my title? Yeah...happens sometimes, but you know, it generally makes sense in the end, so hold on and let's see where we go!

So, as writers a big part of our stock in trade is imagination, particularly if you--like me--are a genre writer. But in the end we all have to envision things that do not actually exist or did not happen the way we depict them. That's why they call it fiction. But creative writing is not all about making things up. What makes our flights of fancy work (yeah...I know, enough with the cliches already), but anyway, the reason the reader buys into them is because the other skill we need to bring into the process: Observation. No matter how fanciful our story we have to build the world it sits in with a foundation of recognizable elements.You might eventually turn them on their heads, but the reader still needs something they can relate to.

Pay attention, now...here's where the title of this article comes into its own.

We can't afford to get so caught up in the worlds we are creating that we forget about the one we are in. Not only does it have an adverse affect on things like relationships, muscle tone, and oh, hygiene, but you depend on the same imagery when you are too much inside your own head. Now I'm not just saying this to get you up off your butt, I'm telling you to get out there and do field research. People watch, have a conversation, take note of the actions and expressions that are the silent component to human interaction.

Plan a field trip once a week or once a month, whatever fits your schedule and go someplace unusual, take a notebook or a camera...heck, take a friend and compare notes afterward. Take the time to experience someplace unique pay attention to the way the light hits water or the way children or animals...or grown adults play, or court, or whatever life presents you with.

Every experience is distinct and individual. While it is common for many people to scowl when they are angry, not everyone necessarily does. Music heard in an orchestra hall is going to have a much different impact than a concert at the beach both in the performance, the setting, and the collateral sounds that serve as a undertone. Think layers and dimension and life. Find new ways to say the same old thing to make it fresh and new and visionary because your worlds are only as notable as the effort you put into creating them.

Have fun! Live out Loud! Paint a picture with a thousand words or just one, to twist my final cliche for the evening...

Now...back to my novel! (passed 60,000 words today on Today's Promise, the final novel in the Eternal Cycle series...on the shelves in May! Did I mention my mega-insane deadline?)

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