A Year of Intentions

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My online writing group, Artistic License, has weekly chats and we had our first one of 2013 last evening. The first chat of a new year is usually about our goals for the coming year. This year, because of one of our members (bless you, Connie!), our whole chat took on a new and deeper meaning.

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Connie had posted her INTENTIONS for 2013. This concept hit me like an ocean liner. WOW! Intentions! It said so much more to me than just using the term “goals.”

At Dictionary.com, one definition of intention is as follows: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct.

Intention is about action, about attitude, about one’s conduct. I had the feeling this means I’m GOING PLACES in 2013. Not just working toward something, but I have arrived. Where I am is just as important as where I’m headed.

For many months, I have been drawing one (and often two) Tarot cards per day as a point of focus for that day. It’s a way to make myself a more focused-on-NOW person, a better person. (I based the interruption of the card on work from another Artistic License member, Marilyn, who is putting together her book of Tarot interruptions based on a daily one card draw. Her work is positive and very uplifting.)

The card I drew yesterday had these meanings:

I live in the moment.

I am successful.

These two ideals are part of my 2013 focus. While I do work toward being and maintaining success, I AM successful. Right now. That is part of living in the moment. (And I love how these two ideals work together!)

Some of my intentions might sound like goals for 2013, but the big different is my attitude, actions, and effort that I focus on today. That carries over through all my tomorrows.

Intentions. 2013. Focus. Living in the moment. Claiming my success now. If I claim my today, the future follows.

Some of my major intentions for 2013:

Have the second edition of my nonfiction published by the end of March.

Have my novel ready for publication by the end of August.

Plan and begin the drafting of a second book by the end of December.

This is all part of living the dream…

CHALLENGE: What are your intentions for 2013?

June

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What is GOOD Description? Part 1

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Did you ever pick up a book, begin reading, and soon find the words on the page disappear because you are “seeing” the story unfold in your mind’s eye? Description helps the reader to create a mind movie from the words you write.

Description should ADD to a story. Yes, the pace is slower than an action segment, but description shouldn’t stop the reader.

Pick what you describe and when you use description. (And how much!) Instead of telling what a person is wearing, try to describe the way the clothes fit the person and says something about the character. For example: the tennis shoes were double tied, the jeans dragged the gravel in the driveway, the t-shirt rose up, exposing a pierced bellybutton.

I’m going to cover some of the ways you can improve your use of description. For Part 1, I’m going to talk about the use of adjectives and adverbs.

REFRESHER!

Adverbs are words which modify or describe verbs.

Examples:

She plays hard. (NOTE: The word “hard” is also an adjective.)

He runs quickly

She shopped yesterday.

He is always (frequently) busy.

She is very busy.

She went shopping, then she saw a movie.

Adjectives are words which gives more information about a noun.

Examples:

She drove a fast car.

His bike is blue.

Her parents attended the school conference.

The exhausted child twisted her ankle.

Football is an exciting sport.

The trick is to use as few adverbs and adjectives as possible in your writing. Why? The simple answer is: If you have to use another word to strengthen the original word, you are probably not using the strongest word that you can.

For example:

He runs quickly. (The word “quickly” is added to aid the verb “runs.” Remove the word “quickly.” Look at the verb choice. Is it strong enough? If not, find a stronger verb. For example you might replace runs with: races, scampers, rushes, sprints, etc.

Another example:

She drove a fast car. (The word “fast” is added to aid the noun “car.” Remove the word “fast.” Look at the noun choice. What specific make/model of car comes to mind to make the reader THINK “fast?” Maybe: Shelby Mustang, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc. (You can also add a specific model for the make of car, such as Porsche 911.)

Saying “She drove a fast car” TELLS the reader information. What we need to do is have the reader experience the story. This can be done by allowing the reader to FEEL an experience. Many think of sports cars as being FAST, so if the writer uses “Ferrari” instead of “fast car” he or she allows the reader the impression of speed, rather than telling them.

When the reader experiences the story along with the characters, he or she becomes a more active participant in the process of storytelling.

Use specific nouns and powerful verbs!

Question for today: Look at some of your recent writing. What might you do to make better use of description? When you read a book or story, do you find that you skip over passages of description? Why? Or why not?

Best Wishes,

June

Writing is About. . .

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I watched the movie LOCAL COLOR about a teenage boy who wanted to paint and how he hooks up with an elder Russian painter. (The movie is based on the true life story Written by George Gallo.) My mom is an artist and I watched the movie to see if she might enjoy it.

The more I watched, I began to wonder. If painting is about seeing, what is writing about? As I quieted my mind the words came to me: painting is about seeing as writing is about being.

I wrote down those words and my mind flipped on me. What the heck does that mean?

I’m betting there are as many responses to this question as there will be readers who read this.  For myself, being is who I am. My true self. Not what I do, not the roles I play in life. Being is all about ME. The me that yeans to get out and exist in the world I live. Now effectively can I write if I don’t let me be me? My guess: not very well.

So I need to let the inner me, the real me, exist in order to become the best writer that I can become.

So if I can see as a painter and be as a writer, my world becomes a place that is full of life, adventure, characters, plots, and creations. I hope that each day I can write from this place of being.

Question for today: Ask yourself the question. Writing is about. . .?

Best Wishes,

June