Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Invigorate Your Writing - the Figurative Way!

Yesterday, over at Middle Zone Musings, Robert Hruzek announced the August What I Learned From... group writing project. He gives us a definition of a simile and metaphor, and offers great examples of each one. After taking care of that important matter, he tells us that this month he wants us to write about what life is to us in metaphor form.

Robert's writing prompt got me to thinking about how important using figurative language can be to your writing. Why should you use it and what purpose does it serve? Using figurative language, a simile or metaphor, has the potential to make abstract, general, or unfamiliar ideas easier to grasp. It breathes new life, meaning, and depth into a dying sentence.

What is a simile?

A simile is figurative language in which the writer says that two things are like each other - usually using the words like or as.

His eyes were as cold and stony as a piece of granite.

Her heart felt light like a feather.

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is the use of figurative language in which the writer says or implies that one thing actually is another. The element of comparison that is present in a simile is not there in a metaphor.

My daughter is a real pistol when she is angry!

After running three miles, my body begged me to stop and rest.

You probably already know that my daughter is not literally a pistol, or that my body does not beg me to do or not do anything. Metaphors and similes give the reader something that you don't get by simply saying, "My daughter can get real angry," or "I was so tired I wanted to stop running." You get a real visual, a more intense and interesting feeling and a much better read.

Give it a whirl. Practice with your figurative language and watch it spice up your writing!

Until next time, have a blessed day!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Toadally Cool, Huh?

While my family and I were away on vacation, we visited a beautiful park in Warren, PA called Jake's Rocks. If you have a fear of heights, this is not the place for you. Its gorgeous views can be hundreds of feet up in the air in certain places. But it was truly spectacular--so spectacular, in fact, that my camera really didn't do it any justice.

I think the picture of the toad ranks up there as one of my favorite pictures ever. He was camouflaged so well, that I almost didn't see him. Really. My husband said, "Hey! Look at that toad," and I looked for a full minute before I spotted him hiding amongst the leaves.

We spent much of our vacation time outside this year--reconnecting with God, His gifts, and for me my creative side. I've decided to write a book. As many writers do, I have a fear that this is something I am not capable of doing. Give me an article topic to research, or a press release announcing a great new product--those I feel confident about, but a book? Fiction? Am I that creative? Is it possible that I can pull it off? I'm not sure, but I do know one thing for certain: I never will know unless I try. So wish me luck on this one, friends! I'm going to need it!

Take care and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday's Tips and Tidbits

Today we are talking about A Writer's Time Out. Sound's sort of stern doesn't it? A writer's time out is what I call a commitment to doing something every week that helps you get to know your "inner writer" a little bit better. It isn't stern at all, but it can be scary because it reflects a commitment to writing that should move you closer to your writing goals. This is a scary thing--committing yourself to a goal that you aren't even sure is attainable. Julia Cameron refers to this as the "Artist's Date," a more romanticised notion of the same thing really.

According to Julia this date is an important contributor to your writing muse. In her book, "The Artist's Way," she compares writing to a relationship that needs nurturing. Counselors encourage spouses to spend quality time with each other in order to reconnect and they need to have fun together in order to do that. It only makes sense that writers should do the same thing to stay connected with their "inner artist."

Julia says, "Your artist needs to be taken out, pampered, and listened to." She points out that excuses concocted to evade this time together are far too easy to come up with, but that all excuses are nonsense. These excuses are simply the "fear of self-intimacy," she says. I think it's also the fear of the unknown and perhaps even success?

Your date need not be expensive or extravagant. It is only important that the time you spend enables you to tap into a deeper part of yourself that helps you to grow as a writer. Your date might include sipping iced tea on the veranda of a local restaurant, watching and listening to children play at the park, or hiking a nature trail near your home. Whatever activity really strikes your fancy...or actually whatever strikes your inner writer's fancy!

So my tidbit for better writing this week is to suggest that you put yourself in a writer's time out, or if you are feeling less self-deprecating take yourself out on an "Artist's Date--it's all in your perspective, my friend! I think I'll take the date!

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday's Tips and Tidbits

Well, we are back from vacation. We had a wonderfully relaxing time, but no matter how enjoyable time away is, there's nothing quite so nice as sleeping in your own bed again.

While we were gone I was able to spend an entire day devoted to doing nothing but reading. I devoured a couple issues of Writers Digest and enjoyed it immensely. In fact, one of the articles I read was about software for writers, and honestly I had never even given it any thought before.

My first inclination was to think that I would never use such programs and that it's cheating in a sense. But why? Don't these programs basically teach you all the same things that you learn while taking a writing course? That's not cheating it's improving your craft. I decided to check out their list of recommended software and here is a review of three that I looked at:

(1) WriteItNow - is a program for story development. Their website was very informative and easy to use. The WriteItNow registered software costs $49.95, but they offer a free demo and while you can't save or use add-ons it still has the potential to draw your story out.

(2) NewNovelist - also a site for story development. This program costs $54.99, doesn't offer a free version, but does offer a demo. I personally didn't care for their demo because you don't have any control in what you read or how fast you view it. I like to be able to read something and then move on, but that wasn't an option. I didn't make it through the demo.

(3) Character Pro - a program for character development. The registered software is $69.99, but the site itself has some free articles, tools and tips that are very useful when it comes to character development. There is even a page you can go to that helps you develop a quick character for free!

So there you have it. My quick review of three writing software websites - take it for what it's worth!

Take care and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Summer Vacation

It's finally here: Summer vacation. My 13-year-od has been enjoying it for almost a month already, and now my husband gets a little piece of freedom, as well. He works at a shop and is on "shutdown," a mandatory vacation, if you will. He has two weeks off, and hopefully after he gets caught up on all the odds and ends projects he has to do around the house, he will spend some leisure time fishing and doing whatever he might like to do for fun.

In the mean time, I will be devoting my spare time to him and the rest of my family -who also happens to be sick :(. I probably won't be blogging too much until he goes back to work. Isn't this truly one of the perks of being a write at home mama?

I will be back soon to "Get it Write for You!" Until then, take care and have a wonderful Fourth of July!