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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Getting Published Is ALWAYS Possible!

Posted by CW64 on September 15, 2011

Hey there! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been busy dealing with some other demanding obligations (i.e. life), but I haven’t forgotten in the least.

I just received notice that a writer-friend of mine from graduate school is on the verge of publication with regards to a draft he had been working on back in 2007. Here is the link to his blog: Fuzzy Ergo Sum Review. He is excited about it and so am I.

And so should YOU be.

This goes to show that getting published is not impossible for ANY writer who keeps working at her or his craft. Knowing the market is essential as well. The point is: Don’t give up, even when you are discourage–especially when you’re discouraged. Writing is a challenging and competitive field, but there is room for everybody with talent and persistence.

In the end, getting published is all up to you. Be prepared, be in the know, and keep writing at ALL costs.

I will be posting some new articles soon (“soon,” meaning within the remainder of the year), so please keep watch.

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Posted in Advice, General Commentaries, Publishing and Publication, Reality and Realism, Uncategorized, Writing Development Issues, Writing Topics | 21 Comments »

Vocabulary #1: Easy Ways to Learn New Words

Posted by CW64 on August 23, 2010

Vocabulary can be an overwhelming aspect of language to learn, mainly because words are those linguistic elements, along with grammar, that trip one up the most. Still, if one knows how to effectively integrate new words by easily acquiring their meanings, the apprehension one feels can be minimized or eliminated altogether.

There are a few points I have learned along the way that have helped me quickly and easily to increase my knowledge of a particular lexicon (whether English or other language), and these points include both study patterns and exercises.

Two methods serve as the primary means of learning new words. One is, of course, to open the dictionary. After all, this reference provides a language’s vocabulary. Not only does it offer a list of words, but each word’s definition, entomology, phonetic pronunciation, part of speech and collection of synonyms. In this way, one can learn every dimension of a particular word.

One common exercise that writers can perform to enhance lexical knowledge is to open the dictionary every day, choose a small set of unknown words (say five) and write out each word in a series of sentences to become familiar with using it. Merely reading a word in the dictionary and transferring its definition to a sheet of paper won’t guarantee actually learning a word; one has to use a word consistently in order to store it into the long-term memory. This practice works if continuously maintained.

The second way one can enhance vocabulary is to read. Yes, this does expose readers, and writers, to new and innovative ways of speaking and expressing thoughts and ideas. Each author has her or his own particular style. So the more one reads, the more one is introduced to a vaster, more eclectic and more diverse array of words and expressions.

Still, regardless of whether a reader/writer employs the use of a dictionary or reads any form of literature, s/he is bombarded constantly by a tempest of word strings, clauses, phrases, and other references that attempt to convey or expound lexical descriptions. Many people have found this to be tedious and cumbersome trying to learn the meanings of words by reading book loads of recorded data.

Is this necessary?

Well, one will definitely be exposed to ongoing forms of expressions, but this can likewise be an overload that will cause migraine headaches for certain. How aggravating!

There is a more facilitative way to increase vocabulary. This is also why thesauruses are tightly associated with dictionaries. This practice not only allows one to learn any number of new definitions, but also to accumulate groups of synonyms and, in like fashion, learn the simple meanings to those words as well.

What is this process?

Simple: When copying or expressing a word’s definition, a reader/writer should only write a single keyword, such as a common synonym. Writing out convoluted and verbose definitions makes it harder for one to either [clearly] understand or memorize. Remember: less is more; start out basic, then expand and go deeper.

Let’s take the word punctilious. The ‘elaborate’ or drawn out definition is conveyed as thus: “to be extremely observant or attentive to specifics and/or detail.” The surefire way to get that meaning down is to extract one or two keywords from that expression that sums up what the word means. In this case: “observant” and “attentive.” These two words are easier to remember. If one references punctilious in a thesaurus, another word found under it would be meticulous. Since both words are similar in meaning, one would then surmise that both mean “observant” and/or “attentive [to detail].” Now, not only has one learned the meaning of the word punctilious, but also meticulous, and one has formed an association between the two. One has also facilitated the learning of all of this through two simple reference terms: “observant” and “attentive.” Of course, these two words as well are likely to fall in a list of various other synonyms, which is a never-ending process. Readers/writers create and incorporate into their learning blocks ongoing networks of lexical relationships.

Thus: one’s vocabulary grows.

This is the best way for me, and that’s because I make associations and cross-references with only a single word or two. The phrase “One can say more by saying less” suggests this as well since points and meanings are clearer when expressed tersely or succinctly.

I chose the word punctilious here for a reason: When trying to determine the simple definition of a word by reviewing long and quite often complex elaborations that attempt to serve a hermeneutic role in the passage, readers/writers have to be able to discern which lexical or linguistic element(s), if given, offer themselves as keywords that can stand alone as points of meaning for the words they are trying to define. A thesaurus can make this process easy, as only words are given. Yet each synonym in a thesaurus is distinctly different than the other related terms on a given list and depends on its particular context to clarify its uniqueness. One should therefore be careful when employing a thesaurus over a dictionary for that reason.

Putting Theory into practice . . .

Below are two sections. The first provides a group of words and their ‘elaborate’ definitions with their keywords emboldened, followed by their simple definitions. This shows how the process works. The second section offers another list of words for you, the readers (and writers) to define in like fashion. All one has to do is determine the keywords in each ‘elaborate’ definition and establish, in one or two words, each word’s simple meaning.

This will get you to enhance your vocabularies and learn new methods of studying language acquisition. Anyone preparing for the GRE and SAT exams for college will find this particularly useful.

Section I

1) Amalgamate: to combine several elements into a whole

Simple definition: to combine

2) Buttress: stationary structure whose primary purpose is to support a wall

Simple definition: support

3) Dearth: smallness or depletion of quantity or number

Simple definition: small in number

4) Divestiture: taking away of something that was formerly possessed, such as in repossession

Simple definition: repossess

5) Grandiloquence: pompous speech or expression

Simple definition: pompousness;pomposity

6) Impecunious: the state denoting possessing low or non-existent financial resources

Simple definition: poor

7) Magnanimity: the quality of being generously noble in mind and heart, especially in forgiving

Simple definition: generous, noble

8 ) Proliferate: to grow or increase swiftly and abundantly

Simple definition: to grow, increase

9) Quixotic: marked by lofty, romantic or dreamlike ideals

Simple definition: lofty, dreamlike

10) Stultify: to make ineffective, weak, or futile, especially as a result of tedious routine

Simple definition: to make ineffective, hinder

Section II

Below is a list of words accompanied by their ‘elaborate’ definitions. What are their respective simple definitions?

1) Approbation: an expression of excessive approval or praise, especially as a sense of religious or congressional adulation.

2) Centripetal: moving, or tending to move, toward the center of rotation

3) Digression: deviation or departure from the main subject in speech or writing

4) Evanescent: tending to disappear instantaneously like vapor

5) Hackneyed: rendered trite or commonplace by frequent usage

6) Impresario: organizer of public entertainment, especially theatrical

7) Oscillation: the act or state of swinging back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm, like a pendulum

8 ) Pungent: characterized by a strong, sharp smell or taste, such as bitterness

9) Relegate: to forcibly assign, especially to a lower place or position

10) Vacillate: to waver indecisively between one course of action or opinion and another; to remain undetermined in a stance.

Next: Research and Influence #1: Echoes from the Past . . .

Posted in Advice, General Commentaries, Personal Experiences, Teaching, Writing Development Issues | 6 Comments »

The Many Adventures of Creative Writing

Posted by CW64 on March 3, 2010

The process of creative writing from start to finish is just as endlessly adventurous as it is intellectually draining—from the conception of a basic idea to delineating the draft to revising that draft to the point of having developed a completed manuscript.

No one said any of it would be easy, but, then again, the uncertainty and challenge of hard work make the entire process exciting and irresistible.

The basic idea, which is the seed to any writing project, is both easy or difficult, depending on several factors, including the purpose of the writing to be produced. Sometimes a great idea comes in a flash and other times it requires a bit of mulling, especially when one is attempting to take a twist on a subject (the”twist” itself is a legitimate idea in its own right because it prompts readers to think differently about a given subject AND because a “twist” can offer new information on said subject). In the case of the latter, a thorough understanding of subject is prerequisite to writing so that the twist, or unique angle, is fully realized and makes sense in light of the subject (i.e. is consistent with all known facts associated with said subject). This is where research is sometimes necessary to form the basic idea of a work, such as the case with dissertations, where the central point quite often emerges through the accumulation and evaluation of data.

See how complicated, or difficult, devising a basic idea can sometimes be?

The short story Urban Legend, which deals with a young skeptic who explores an urban legend and encounters a few surprises, the basic idea came to me in a dream. When I woke up from that dream, the images and premise of the story were still fresh in my mind, and I dictated the story, word-for-word, mentally as I recounted the dream. That motivated me to write, so I could get down the idea and start on the draft from beginning to end, which, in this case, came and went quick and smooth.

The draft isn’t always that easy to do, but when the basic idea is there, and is fully realized, it can be. In the case when it is not, however, sometimes the basic idea emerges through the writing process in establishing the principle characters and the plot. That was the case with the novel The Monkey Cage, which also served as my graduate thesis (the first three chapters). I started with a simple scene that I originally intended as the beginning of a short story, but as I developed the characters and expanded the story beyond the scene in question, I found a whole new world opening wide around the characters. But what are they doing here? What should they be doing? As I disregarded the need to set down a predetermined premise, I threw caution in the wind and just started writing. The plot and conflicts of the characters came on their own, and one stage led to another from beginning to the end of the first draft.

Yes, I said the first draft!

Sometimes stories require more than one draft, especially when details of the original draft do not work in the overall story, such as inconsistencies in character behavior or farfetched scenarios that sound good at first but, upon reflection, work poorly in bringing the story out in its most serious and respectable light. That happens. When it does, a writer has no other recourse but to start over. The fact that characters have been realized, however, makes story development easier due to a writer’s familiarity with said characters—a sense of familiarity increases a writer’s confidence, and confidence means everything in story development.

An important note should be made here: If a writer does not feel comfortable enough to write about her or his characters, s/he should spend time getting to know those characters first, either by ruminating over them, composing character profiles or sketches, drawing illustrations of their character, or a combination of any or all of these suggestions. When a writer knows her or his characters intimately and feels comfortable with and confidence in them, the story begins.

Once that story is down (i.e. the draft), revising starts. This is where it really gets fun!

Although a draft is down and a basic plot-line established, the creative process is far from over. Revisions not only correct misspellings and grammatical errors or provide condensation where necessary, but also serve as a means for writers to introduce new and essential information into the plot-line where necessary in order to “flesh out” the characters and/or story. This is important for two reasons: (1) the narrative will flow more smoothly, and (2) gaps are filled so the story will be clear and make sense. This is where one pays particular attention to detail, which had been foregone when scaling the draft (the basic idea) in the previous stage.

Revisions are quite often require various stages; creativity goes on and on. That is why revising is synonymous with the actual writing, because it is here that the characters emerge and the story is fully realized. The stage of revising is a long and tedious process spanning hours, days, sometimes even weeks on a particular work. But a writer shouldn’t be discouraged; s/he should have fun exploring the creative possibilities.

I can certainly elaborate more on revisions here, as insight on that subject abounds, but I thought I would reserve further discussion for a separate post designated specifically to that particular phenomenon, as that seems apropos.

More on revisions and writing development to come . . . .

Posted in Advice, Editing, Fiction, General Commentaries, Marketing and Advertising, Novels, Personal Experiences, Publishing and Publication, Research, Short Stories, Writing Development Issues | Leave a Comment »