Category Archives: Beautiful Words

Great Advice for Writers of Short Stories

By Rebecca Dempsey

After more than a decade of writing short stories, here is what I have learned. 

  • Write. 
  • Read short stories. Read across genres, authors, places and times. I recommend Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Conan Doyle, Carmel Bird, Ambrose Bierce, Etgar Keret, Tim Winton, DH Lawrence and Flannery O’Connor etc.
  • The shorter the work the keener the focus is on how it is written. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation matter. There could be as little as 10 words to grab and hold someone’s attention so errors are distracting.
  • Don’t have a cast of thousands, or a story crossing continents or time periods when there are only 500 words to do it in, it’s too difficult and rarely convincing. A short story is a moment, a slice of something, or an episode, or an event, yet always complete in itself.
  • Anecdotes are not stories. Real life is rarely story material, because life is just one thing after another. A story should have some kind of start, end and finish, with an arc or revelation to give it meaning or value.

  • Work on the ending. The ‘it was all a dream’ ending should be banished to the sixth circle of Dante’s Inferno unless you make it freaking A M A Z I N G.
  • Almost always use said or says rather than he ‘exclaimed proudly’ or she ‘enunciated snidely’ – we should understand tone and attitude from the context and the words said because there should be no wasted words in a short story.
  • Give speech context:  ‘You’re always so right,’ said Evie, before slamming the door in his face. Brian heard her turn the key in the lock and something inside him turned. He pounded the door. ‘No lock’ll stop me, Evie.’  Not my best effort but the attitude and emotions of Evie and Brian are conveyed by their actions rather than me interpreting how their words are said.
  • Write how people talk but providing a taste of an accent will do. Don’t overwhelm.
  • Stories can take minutes or years to finish. They can be five words or 7,000 plus long. Time to produce does not equal length.
  • Structure is everything. It affects tone, pacing, how the piece looks on the page and how people will read it.
  • Look at sentence construction. Look at the start of each paragraph and if the first word is the same for each change some.
  • Look at point of view and be prepared to change it. Should it be from Brian or Evie’s perspective?
  • Break up long sentences if you have many, or insert a long sentence in if your writing is always punchy.
  • Make repeated phrases or words meaningful. People see meaning in repetitions because they are word symbols and readers are always looking for clues. If repetitions are accidental, cut them out, as they are a distraction.
  • Be prepared to break rules.
  • Be prepared to defend your artistic decisions to editors; however, recognize when they are right. Editors are not killing your baby but saving it. For your story to thrive, you must let it go. Really, step away and let people read it and have opinions about it.
  • Don’t trust the opinions of those who are obliged to love everything you do.
  • Nothing is original except you. Work on your voice, rather than your ideas. If you don’t know what voice is in writing then you’re probably still developing yours. And that’s ok.
  • Expect that not everyone will love your story. Expect that you won’t either if you go back to something written a while ago. The writing hasn’t changed, you have.
  • Contests can be difficult to win and costly to enter. Try sending a story to a journal and getting a response from an editor.
  • Rejections are not about you. Sometimes they are not about your work. If they are about your work, edit it. Or send it elsewhere. Maybe the publication was wrong for your story or maybe your story isn’t done.
  • Write, finish and walk away. Come back to your story later. Read it with fresh eyes. Then edit.
  • Draft. Draft. Draft. Send. Draft. Draft. Send. Repeat.
  • Keep a database of titles, submissions, acceptances, costs, dates, earnings etc.
  • Most publications will not take submissions that have been self-published. Beware vanity publishers.
  • Celebrate your publications or milestones.
  • Short stories don’t have to be training wheels for potential novels. Nobody is forcing you to be a novelist. Especially with the return of the novella and digital media looking for short form stuff.
  • For novelists, just because you can pump out 100,000 words does mean a short story is a cake walk. Short stories need a deft yet delicate touch to contain their potential for power.

Rebecca Dempsey has been writing short stories since 2003, with works in print and online from New South Wales to Nevada. She holds a Masters in Writing and Literature from Deakin University, and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Humanities. Rebecca has written for newspapers and journals and keeps a blog at writingbec.wordpress.com.

10 Ways To Make Your Words More Beautiful

April is National Poetry Month.

Today I celebrate beautiful words.

Regardless of tastes, preferences or trends, I believe the beautiful calls to us.

There is something inside of us that longs for symmetry, for rhythm, for thoughtful curves. Often we can appreciate delicate images that spurn our emotions, that bring out in us the good and noble. We all enjoy art for a variety of reasons, but no one can deny how well-crafted art serves a purpose. Art can point us to the good in humanity, echoing ancient truths. Beautiful art feeds our souls.

As we write, we can organize our words in such a way that their patterns, their meaning, their rhythm, their structure, and their message all sing together.  Beautiful words, in prose, cannot be accidents. Finely crafted words come with discipline and practice. Lovely sentences do not lay on the page passively waiting for an optic nerve to come by and give them life. Beautiful sentences dance — they vary in their length, in their structure, in the vivacity of their verbs and in the nuances of their nouns. These words paint a picture — they don’t slap it together.

10 Ways To Make Your Words More Beautiful

Beautiful words point to the strongest emotions on the human spectrum. They can inflame anger. The right words can render jealously hotter. They can pour out pain like a trickle or an avalanche. Beautiful words can sum up joy, can skip and staccato with each laugh and giggle. At their best, they are for Hallmark cards and tweets, fortune cookies and voicemails. Delicious words are for poets and teenagers, novelists and children, literati and pedestrian.

Famous Poetic Words. The 50 Most Quotes Lines of Poetry. Here’s another one I just want to sit and savor. 

Beautiful sentences dance. They vary in their length, in their structure, in the vivacity of their verbs and in the nuances of their nouns. Beautiful words paint a picture — they don’t slap it together. They can point to the strongest emotions on the human spectrum, inflaming anger, rendering jealously hotter. Beautiful words can pour out pain like a trickle or an avalanche. They can sum up joy, can skip and staccato with each laugh and giggle. They are are for Hallmark cards and tweets, fortune cookies and voicemails. Beautiful words are for poets and teenagers, novelists and children, literati and pedestrian. Words pair together like friends to create a private party of emotion and delight.

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Beautiful words play dress up when they are a metaphor, simile or allegory. They toy with their meaning, putting on a disguise, like a fake mustache or a floppy hat to be to the reader something they’re not. Oh, coy words tease and taunt the meanings and the similarities and the comparisons and the reader watches the burlesque stimulated to read more.

Buzzfeed’s Beautiful Words: 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences in literature. I found them very inspiring.

Beautiful words hide meaning like a treasure, daring the reader to look for clues to the mystery. Beautiful words leave ellipses like bread crumbs that tempt the reader to go deeper into the woods. Is the reader escaping the real world or rushing to danger? Beautiful words will never tell, they’ll just keep looking behind them as they run over limb and log to keep the chase going.

Beautiful words march together in alliteration. Bearing the beat together as brothers in a band, blaring their business to any reader who claps along in the parade. Beautiful words are not democratic. Some words get the short end of the stick. They are the low feeders in the phonetic and etymological gene pool. Those words are edited and beaten and mocked and their superior sisters are given chances to go to the ball.

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Untranslatable Words. This is a beautiful collection of words from other cultures that can’t be translated into English. I love the illustrations and I also like thinking of the imagination that came up for the need for these words. I also want to put them in my every day use right now. And then I found the same list even MORE beautifully illustrated! 

Beautiful words are parts of a whole. The vowels and consonants are like toddlers in a playground, picking their favorites for the swings or the ball game, holding hands or playing tag. Poor silent E can’t object. Insecure Q can’t go anywhere without U. Lonely Z finds himself picked last for the game. Bossy A tells them all to line up.The words are acrobats, flipping and flying in their palindromes and anagrams. The suffixes and prefixes fly like lost feathers as up they go to the highest of heights.

The Last Words. Huffington Post has a list of the most beautiful last lines in literature that “will make you want to read the whole book.” (Hey kids! Who wants to go to the library with me today?)

The beautiful words are our medium. They are crisp and wide like a crayon or pastel. Precise like a fine pen. Bold like charcoal and pool in the crevasses of meaning like a dab of watercolor. The words are gold and crimson and emerald and cobalt. Rich with facets and karats and sparkle. They dazzle and enchant and when they are put together like beads on a chain, we can wear them around our neck like jewels.

How can you make your words more beautiful?

1. Eliminate the adverbs and adjectives. Stick in a metaphor if you want the reader to appreciate the nuances and features of the noun. Or pick a better noun.

2. Read it out loud. Listen for rhythms and cadence. Add in phrases or clauses to slow things down, add description or amp up emotion.

3. Don’t let sentences start with “There was” or “There were.”

4. Rearrange where the verb and noun are in the sentence but don’t make it passive.

5. Add an element of emotion, especially in the verb choice you make.

6. Use Anglo-Saxon words rather than Latin words. Don’t know the difference? Check out this excellent blog post that explains the difference! 

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
Rudyard Kipling

7. Substitute any “be” verb for a verb that’s specific and vivacious. You know you’ve got a good one when you can see exactly what is happening.

8. Substitute every word for a synonym to see what you come up with. But don’t get fancy. Big, multi-syllable words may muddy your meaning.

9. Combine two short sentences or separate a long sentence into shorter ones. Sentences should be varying lengths. This is a bit hard to read, but you can get the point.

10. Look for weak modifiers like “very” or “some”. If a word in a sentence doesn’t have a precise purpose, take it out. In fact, read the sentence the omit the first word. Read it again omitting the second, then the third. If you don’t miss the word, or the meaning is unchanged, omit the word altogether.  In this point, I can safely omit the words, “weak”, “precise”, “in fact”, and “altogether.” See?

Beautiful words are our medium. We have control over them. We have them lined up in little drawers of our mind and dig through our thesaurus if we can’t find the right one. If we are good at what we do, they are chosen with care and precision. They are picked gingerly from the box and pressed into place with our fingertips. There they do not rest. They are to be re-read and deleted, edited and proofread, taken out and put back in.

I am thankful that I have such a glorious, magnificent, illogical, sometimes unwieldy medium in which to practice my art.

Sometimes I make the words more beautiful.

Sometimes they make me.


If you liked this post on beautiful words, you may also like:

Why Modern Writers Need Poems (Or Why Poems Are The Equivalent of Kale Smoothie) Or, Top 10 Ways Poetry is Better Than Food


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Ten Signs You May Be A Literary Writer: A Very Silly Quiz

You’re writing a book and all of your hundreds of readers want to know. “What’s it about?” And you, gather them around you, adjust your cravat, look over your half moon glasses that are pretentiously hanging from a gold chain around your neck and you say, “I’m not really sure.”

Why can’t you explain? It’s because your story seems to transcend certain genres, it’s a journey or it’s an introspective. Words like “romance” or “fantasy” don’t seem big enough.

You, dear writer, could be writing literary fiction!

10 Signs You May Be A Literary Writer

But you say, “I don’t want to write literary fiction! Because I know the market for these kinds of stories! Yesterday I had nightmares that I’m locked in a room with someone reading Proust! I wish Hemingway would be more emotional!” “Sylvia Plath just needed to get over herself!”

Calm down.

 Literary writers are kind of like the zebras of the publishing world. They’re wild, unpredictable, and you can’t put a saddle on them. It could be that your writing habits have put you into the often misunderstood category of literary fiction.  I’ve created a little checklist (a tongue-in-cheek one) for your convenience, so while you’re chain smoking your clove cigarettes, go through this list. And check off what only applies to you. If you aren’t literary, then you can celebrate by going to that NASCAR event.

If you are a literary writer, then rest assured that not all famous literary writers took their own life. Some were killed by their lovers.

Let’s get crackin!

1. You may have spent a lot of time thinking about the beauty of language. This means that in the course of your drafting, you’ve thought about rhythm and tone. You weigh the length of sentences. You kind of wish you could throw in some poetry.  I know you’re optimistic and you think that some reader, somewhere, most likely an English major creating grande lattes at Starbucks, will appreciate your craftsmanship. And your hope that if more people did, then the world would be a better place. It would be. Here’s a hug.

2. You’ve incorporated some unexpected imagery or comparisons. I would have said metaphor, but I didn’t want you to squeal like a fangirl at a Taylor Swift concert. Just because you love a good metaphor, doesn’t mean you’re book is literary, it just means that you’ve put thought into it. This is a good thing. It’s what writers are supposed to do. But if you are overly obsessed with the green light in The Great Gatsby,  have a character you’ve based on George Orwell because of his role in society or think it’s a victory when your reader asks, “what the hell does that mean?”, then you could be literary.

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

3. Your book is far more about the human condition and big ideas. If you’ve ever discussed your manuscript and said the phrase “a struggle between this foreign sounding word and that foreign sounding word”.  If you have babbled for a good fifteen minutes about the concepts and never mention the characters, then we might need to get you started on pipe tobacco and buy you a tweed jacket with elbow patches. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in writing abstract meaning. Look on the bright side, your high school English teacher will love this. You should quiz her.

4. Your characters do get from point A to point B, but they take a long, long time to get there. Before you panic, take a moment and think. You probably do have good reasons to have your characters go off on tangents about what they did as children while they are standing in line at the Piggly Wiggly. But if your story’s big climactic moment is, after 250 pages, choosing paper over plastic, then, honey, we need to get you cat.

5. You want your MFA to count for something. Of course you do. I’ll take an order of fries with that burger, please. No, wait, never mind.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

6. You have nightmares trying to categorize it on Kindle Direct. Your book not really a mystery because you reveal the killer on page 82. Your book is not really a love story because she dumps him at the altar and your book not really fantasy because the aliens were just a metaphor. Let’s just admit it: this book is literary. Now, maybe The New Yorker is a better venue for you. Don’t wash that holey sweater. We’ll need it for your author photo.

7. Your brother asked how many explosions your book had it in and you stabbed him with the cheese knife. How are you going to serve your Wensleydale now?

8. You’ve lost writer friends over your stance on structure. “Three Acts? That’s totally predictable!” And then you launch a tirade that Stephen King’s On Writing could be a little bit self-serving. You once hit someone because their idea of a great book has the number 50 and a color between black and white in it. And the longer you do this, the more you understand why writers drink themselves to death. Their friends are idiots. Let’s calm down. We have J.D. Salinger on the phone. He wants to meet you for drinks. See? You feel better already.

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

9. You find the expectations of specific genre too confining. And while you may be an Agatha Christie fan, or have a crush on Lovecraft or cry in your share of Harlequin romances, you’ve decided that you’ll take your favorite parts and twist them up. Marketability can go out with the window with all the vampire fiction as far as you are concerned. Your stories are beyond genre. Yes dear, put down that feather and quill. If your books can’t be categorized into a specific genre, then there’s a reason. You’re a literary writer and all the Chardonnay in the world can’t change that.

10. There are phrases in your books that require Google translator and your thought is, “come on, readers! Why are you so freaking lazy? You should just know Latin!”

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Scoring: For every one of these ten signs that you agree to, give yourself one ounce of caviar. If you have more than six ounces, you’ll need some champagne and a friend. I’m on my way over. If you have zero points here or zero ounces of caviar, then you are not a literary writer.

If you are not literary, then your stories are probably solid, balancing both action and character development. You tell your stories simply enough without any of your characters resembling Frasier Crane. You probably can explain the story itself to a prospective reader who can say, without any dirty looks from you, “Oh! It’s a thriller!” (Or a mystery, or science fiction, or fantasy, or a romance.) Your books are easy enough to find on a store shelf. And your genre choice helps your reader understand what to expect. You may not have fretted over every single word for its poetic weight, but you write well. But you don’t need caviar. Chips, salsa and beer will do fine.

The world needs literary fiction.

We need to have unpredictable, meaningful, symbolic stories that remind us that the good guys don’t always win and that not every ending is happy. So wear your literary label with pride!

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” You can do this. I believe in you!


Did you like this post? Then you may also like:

What’s Your Real Genre? (A Silly Quiz For Writers Who Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously) or,

Are You An Ethical Author? Take This Quiz full of Taylor Swift & Zombie References!


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Technology and the Right to Create Art

by Olivia Folmar Ard

As much as I wish otherwise, writing isn’t a full-time job for me.

Forty hours a week, I’m an administrative assistant at a public liberal arts university. During my time in this department, which houses communication studies, journalism, public relations, and mass communication, I’ve been privileged to witness students of these disciplines as they learn how to turn messages into art.

Technology And The Right To Create Art by Olivia Folmer Ard

The mass communication students learn how to operate cameras, lighting, and other equipment that will one day land them a job in television, filmmaking, or something else equally exciting. It’s truly eye-opening to see how much preparation, time, and effort is required for a relatively simple on-campus newscast. Watching these and all our students grow has prompted me to learn more about the entertainment industry when I have the chance.

So last year, when I returned home from a grueling shift from my part-time job at a fast food restaurant and my husband urged me to join him in watching Side by Side: Can Film Survive Our Digital Future?, I didn’t hesitate.

Keanu Reeves was the on-camera interviewer, and at one point he started asking the featured cinematographers—all of whom were accomplished and established—how they felt about the rise of digital recording, which has left traditional film far behind. Several were nostalgic about their childhood experiences and claimed that movies recorded on film were largely responsible for a special, magical quality. Some were pragmatic, saying that while they personally preferred film, they knew their preference was sentimental and recognized that digital was a superior product. I could sympathize with these sets. But there was another cinematographer whose response made my blood boil long after the credits rolled.

Digital media lends itself to amateur use—essentially, anyone who wants to make a film, can.

This came up in Keanu’s discussion with this certain cinematographer.

This guy said he this is why he hates digital media, because it’s caused bad movies to circulate. Now, just anyone can do it. And, in his words, without a “tastemaker” to decide which movies are good and which aren’t, society will lose its way and the art of cinema will vanish entirely.

Well, I call crap on that. Total, complete crap.

This reminds me quite a bit of the anti-internet snobbery I’ve seen from some traditionally published authors, the type who’ve been household names for decades.

The medium are different, but the message is the same: there has to be a gatekeeper, a “tastemaker.” There has to be someone to inform the public, to tell them what’s good and what’s not. When I see someone with a well-established career in publishing write an open letter bemoaning the fact that self-publishing is so user-friendly and accessible now, and oh for the good old days when everything was done the “right” way, it really does make me sick.

The assertion that bad art exists because of self-publishing and/or digital media is pure…
I’ve read bad mainstream books, and I’ve watched bad mainstream movies. Not everything that comes prancing out the other end of a major company is worthy of artistic elevation. I won’t malign specific titles here, but I know that right now in your own mind, you’ve already curated a list of your own examples.

Now, are there bad self-published books out there? Are there bad indie films? Yes.

A thousand times yes. Lots of them. Probably more bad than good, to be honest. The internet is filled with short free and 99 cent eBooks that will make you wish you’d never learned to read. I’m sure the same can be said about independent films. A keen sense of judgment is needed when navigating these choppy waters.

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But I find that I discern the quality of the book the same way, whether it’s been self-published, picked up by an indie house, or put out by one of the Big 5. It’s simple: I open the book, and I read a few pages.

That’s it. I don’t look to see who published it. I don’t look up the author’s biography to see what degrees they have or how many books they’ve written. I don’t check to see if it’s made Oprah’s Book Club or the New York Times Bestsellers LIst. I just open it, and I read a few pages. If it’s good, I read it. If it’s not, I don’t. It’s really quite that simple.

There are several reasons to support the existence of mainstream production and publishing companies, but the role of “gatekeeper” or “tastemaker” is not one of them.

We are capable of figuring out what we like without unsolicited assistance or market manipulation.

We have the right to choose.

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 But even more importantly, humans are creative creatures by nature.

It is our birthright to shape the world around us with our thoughts and ideas. Whether we do that through the manipulation of light or sound or natural resources or the written word or something else entirely is left to the individual, but at the end of the day, we are all of us artists in some way, shape, or form.

Technologies like digital recording, self-publishing websites, and internet marketplaces, are a gift. They enable people who don’t have the right money or connections or social standing to participate in this basic human experience. Everyone deserves the chance to share their art. Even if their art isn’t that great. Even if their art is bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for us to settle.

We shouldn’t force ourselves to be entertained by subpar writing or cinematography. If you don’t like something, don’t read it. Don’t watch it. Don’t buy it. But the great thing is, with these technologies, everyone has a choice now. Everyone has a chance to share something they’ve made with the world. And everyone has a chance to accept or reject art based on their preference and taste alone, not that of a stranger working in an office far away.

So, to those who try to stand in the way of creatives and their ability to share their creations, know this. You don’t get to decide who gets to create art.

You don’t get to decide whether people will enjoy it. Instead of feeling threatened by the possibility of someone young, disadvantaged, or penniless creating something the public will love, focus on making your own art great.

Better yet, seek out emerging artists and mentor them.

And when you inevitably come across an indie book or movie that is truly, truly terrible, you should do what everyone else does: stop watching and move on.


If you liked this post, you may also like:

Why I Write, by Katharine Grubb

Or, Why We need the Beautiful 


Olivia Folmar Ard is a secretary, history nerd, and all-purpose geek. She’s the author of The Bennett Series, and Readers’ Favorite 5-Star recipient ‘Tis the Season. She is pursuing a second degree in sociology. She and her husband JD live in Central Alabama, where they look after two crazy cats and wait for their miracle baby. Website/Blog: http://oliviafolmarard.weebly.com/Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/oliviafolmarard.author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/oliviadeard Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/oliviadeardGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/oliviadeard Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/oliviadeard

 

Never Say Never: Writing “Rules” That Beg to Be Broken

By Jennifer Worrell

How many of you have heard the old saw, “Write it your way!” or “Write the story you want to read!”

And so you do. And then you’re told…you can’t do that. Only {insert bestselling author names here} can do that. But no one explains why. How did successful writers get that privilege, and who gave it to them? Creative writing is nothing without artistic expression, but that’s impossible to achieve if you’re imprisoned by arbitrary rules.

In search of a like-minded community, I joined far too many online writers’ forums. A lot are great (especially this one!) and can help you through many a muddy spot long into your career. But the winding path to success is unfortunately lined with cracks and road apples. Some advice is so fantastic you’ll want to sing the giver’s praises, while other suggestions will make you wonder if they’d ever read a book. Any book.

For instance, a member of a group I used to frequent asked for guidance on using multiple POV. That’s a tough thing to get right, but plenty of writers have done it successfully, and it’s often the best approach to achieve the greatest impact. (It’s especially popular in Romance and Fantasy.) Though it’s not a technique you’d learn in English 101, it’s not rocket science. It just takes time to finesse and a maybe a few passes out loud to make sure the characters aren’t head-hopping. Yet the first response this poster received was, “That’s not for beginners to try.”

No explanation. No alternative. Just don’t do it.

Never Say Never: Writing Rules That Beg To Be Broken

You know when a cartoon character gets angry and its neck surges red like mercury rising and steam blows out its ears? I was convinced that was about to happen to me. Comments like these are debilitating and should be thrown out the window, impaled with a harpoon, and lit on fire. But first invite me over so I can watch. (I’ll bring marshmallows!)

The fundamentals of fiction writing are invaluable, but too many people use them like walls to box you in.

Our most revered writers kept pushing themselves, playing with fresh ideas until they had something unique, twisting words until they drummed new rhythms into readers’ heads.

If someone has ever tried to crush your spirit by telling you “no,” there’s good news:

  • You don’t need anybody’s permission to write.
  • You don’t need random strangers deciding when you’re ready to take your writing to the next level. That’s your job.
  • You do need decent critique partners/beta readers to tell you if your baby needs its diaper changed. (But hopefully in a much kinder way than that.)

I still struggle with that last one. The wait is nerve-wracking. Receiving harsh criticism, especially when it’s unexpected, will make you question your talent, instincts, and sanity. If “writing is show business for shy people” as crime novelist Lee Child says, then presenting stuff for feedback represents stage fright.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot, despite what detractors say. So what do you do?

  • Don’t shoot for gold.
    Looking at a complex maneuver as a whole can be daunting. Dismantle it into smaller and smaller pieces until the path becomes clear in your mind. Then put it back together at a pace you’re comfortable with. Pretend it’s a relay race. Even though the athletes aren’t running at once, they’ll eventually reach the finish line. The outcome matters more than the time it takes to get there, since that’s the only thing your readers will see. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself. No one creates a novel in one go; they write it a little at a time, tweaking along the way. (Read Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird, considered a sacred tome by many novelists, for more such advice.)
  • Stretch your writing muscles.
    I took dance classes for a number of years. Once, the instructress threw in an advanced step at the end of our set. “You can throw this little thing in here,” she said with a wink and a shrug. No biggie. Just this beautiful flourish you make with your body…meh. Naturally, everyone wanted to give it a whirl. Any idiot could have pegged me as a beginner, but considering I couldn’t pull off a three-point turn without tipping over and hitting the wall, I did a surprisingly decent job at this one move I never knew existed. Maybe the sophisticated technique nagging at you is something you’re just naturally good at. How else will you know?
  • Cut loose.
    If you stick with the basics, eventually a regular reader will tell you, “This sounds like something you’ve done before.” Why not try something different, crazy, weird? If nothing else, it will be a fun exercise. Attempting new things will contribute to your growth as a writer…even if you fail. You’ll soon discover you excel at and what you need more experience in. Writing in a new style never hurt anybody. Upside: if it does, you can write about it!
  • Enlist a posse of betas who can deliver the truth in one breath and cheer you on in the next.
    Having a strong support system is important. If a reader can explain why you didn’t pull something off, consider it a victory. Though it’s no fun admitting you fell short, once you know what the problem is, you can work on fixing it. It may take a while to find your tribe, but trust me…they’re out there. And they’re priceless.

Don’t take no for an answer.

Keep searching until you find a source that can teach you what you want to know. Writing isn’t an exact science. If it were, we’d all have an easier time. But we’d sacrifice poetry, passion, style.

Remember, no one has to see your work until you feel it’s ready.

By then, you’ll have had a lot of practice polishing it up and a lot of chances to study how established writers have nailed it. And isn’t that how anyone masters anything?

Jennifer Worrell is the Assistant to the Dean of Libraries at a private university. She’s convinced being surrounded by books revived her love of writing. In decent weather, you can find her banging away (sometimes muttering profanity) in her “office”: a lawn chair pulled up to a cement wall with a truncated view of Sears (yes, Sears) Tower. Her fiction appears in Literary Orphans Journal, 72 Hours of Insanity: An Anthology of the Games vol. 2, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. She’s working on her first novel. You can follow her unchecked blatherings on Facebook (@JenniferWorrellWriter) and Twitter (@PieLadyChicago).

Eight Ways You May Be Bungling Your Dialogue In Your Novel

 

“I’m not bungling my dialogue,” you say to yourself.

But you’ve had a few complaints from your beta readers about how they don’t like the characters. You’ve been told the story feels dead. While your plot is tight and your pacing is perfect, the characters themselves feel off. The trouble could be your dialogue. Dialogue is the soul of the characters. Dialogue is what brings the story to life for your reader. Are you bungling it?

Eight Ways You May Be Bungling Your Dialogue by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

You may be bungling you dialogue if . . .

 You’ve forgotten about the influence of setting.

Your story’s setting may play a role in the way that your characters speak. But too much dialect, slang or exaggerated speech can distract the reader. Dialogue brings action to the scene. You want your reader to focus on the words and actions of the character and allow the scene to flow smoothly. Anything that weakens the meaning, slows the pacing down or confuses the reader is working against you. How to fix this? Read the dialogue out loud. If you stumble over it, then you’ve put in too much regional nuance. If you can’t detect any hint of setting, consider adding a “Ya’ll” or a “Fo-gettabout-it”.

You’ve put in way too much exposition.

In some writing circles, they call this the “As you know, Bob,” mistake. This is when an author uses dialogue to pour out the background information in the conversation. While you do need some sort of exposition, it’s better to err on the side of not enough than too much. How to fix this? Highlight everything that is exposition and then read the draft out loud, skipping the highlighted parts. If you can tell what is going on without info, leave it out. Only put the least amount back in.

“[A]lways get to the dialogue as soon as possible. I always feel the thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a big slab of prose at the start.”
P.G. Wodehouse

You use dialogue tags too much.

He yelled loudly. She whispered. He stuttered nervously. Now, there’s a lot of opinion about this. Some would say that the only tag you should ever use is said. And I can see that the simplicity of said allows it to be almost invisible to the reader. That’s a good thing. You don’t want to cause attention to anything except the story. But I would also argue that a well placed dialogue tag can create a visual image for the reader, as long as the verb was strong and possible adverb behind it was omitted. I’m also a fan of using a character body language to reveal the emotion. Like this: “I wish I knew more about Chad,” Cora bit her lip and twisted her hair. I’m hoping that Cora’s actions revealed her anxiety about a matter.

You’re just a little too formal.

Dialogue is where we can throw grammar rules out the window. A character wouldn’t always have their subjects and verbs agree. They may speak in sentence fragment. They probably use contractions. The best dialogue is loose and indicative of the complex person that it represents. And people are really emotional! Make sure that their true feelings are coming through somehow — even if they have something to hide! How to fix this? Read your dialogue aloud. Does it feel wooden or stiff? Rewrite it so that the true personality of the character is shining through.

You write the exact way that people speak.

This may seem contradictory to the previous advice, but one is about regional influence and the other is about unnecessary words. People speak poorly. Their conversations are full of empty words, stops, starts, repetitions and omissions. When we listen to a speaker, we take in the information of dialogue as a whole. We never focus on one word at at a time. We gather information from the tone and the body language. Good listeners can glean an immense amount of meaning from subtle cues. Few of these cues can be translated to the written page. How to fix this? Cut out everything that’s unnecessary.

“Dialogue concentrates meaning; conversation dilutes it.”
Robert McKee

You have no distinction between the characters.

Ideally, you want your characters to be so distinctive that you could take away the tags and have a clue on who was speaking. But that’s not always possible. The key to having distinctive dialogue is developing all characters well. The more you know your characters, the more their voice will come through. How to fix this? Spend time writing a perspective of the story from that character’s point of view. You’ll be acting as if you are that character. After a few hundred words, you may sense what they sense. As you craft their dialogue, try to slip back into that character. You’ll probably see a difference.

You ramble on and on without a break.

It is so true that there are people out there who do not know how to shut up. If rambling is boring to listen to, then it’s doubly boring to read. If your character really does have a long speech to give, figure out a way to break it up for the sake of the reader. How to fix this? Have someone interrupt and ask question. The speakers should cough and need water. Have the listener notice something and reflect for just a moment. Describe what they are doing with their hands. Or maybe describe their appearance while they speak. Describe their sweaty forehead, their great haircut, their wrinkled clothes or the way they are standing.

You forget about subtext.

Subtext is what is really being said between the lines. The couple might be speaking in hushed tones, nose to nose, about how much they like cheese, but they’re really flirting and are seconds away from a kiss. Then six scenes later, the same cheese issue comes up, but they are on opposite sides of the room, not facing each other and she’s whimpering. What is really going on? How to fix this? Make a note at the top of each scene describing what you want to accomplish in each scene. Also note the emotional temperature of each character. Use their body language to communicate one thing even if their words say something else.

Every word that you write must be carefully scrutinized.

The challenge (and the fun) of writing dialogue is that it’s not just your words that you’re writing, but you’re also giving your character words to say. With thoughtfulness and deliberate choices, your dialogue will not be bungled. And your story will come to life for your reader.


Want more articles about great dialogue?

Check out Top 20 Things You Can Give Your Characters That Will Make Them More Vivid

and

Top 10 Questions You Could Ask About Your Authority Figures That Could Beef Up Your Conflict!

Thanks for stopping by today!


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Description: Six Ways To Tone It Down And Make Your Story Stronger

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Description can be overdone like Girl Scout cookies, sunny days and reality television.

In our fiction writing, description can play a key role. It can make the details of the story come alive vividly. Good description engrosses the reader in the story. But like fine wine, news in an election year, and most pork products, if you have too much description, you may regret it.

Many times writers get a little too excited with their descriptions of the people, places and things in their story.

As much as I loved the beauty and genius of Les Miserables, I totally skimmed through dozens of pages describing the sewer systems of Paris. With apologies to Victor Hugo, he could have cut that description and the story would have been just fine.

Take a lesson from Monsieur Hugo: When you are drafting your manuscript, and you get to the part where you really want to get into detail, consider these six things first.

Description: Six Ways To Tone It Down And Make Your Story Stronger by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Description May Be A Kill-Worth Darling.  If you’ve spent years and years on your manuscript, it is easy to get too attached to details. Are you obsessed with your  world-building? The heroine’s eyes? The arrangement of the house? The description may be slowing down your pacing. You may be boring the reader. Your description may need to be toned down to make it stronger.

Description may be overrated. Authors are often in love with their own poetic words. To the reader, description is much like seasoning in a main dish. Good detail enhances what is featured, not substitute for it. If you think you have too much detail, take it out, read it aloud, and judge which version is stronger. And if you suspect that you are a little too attached to those purdy words you wrote, you’re in good company.

“In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children

Description can be spread out.  Your character can show details in their actions.  Put in the descriptions into the dialogue. When your character bolts through the door, maybe she needs to knock over that Ming vase. When her lover goes after her, confused, have him run his hands through his raven black hair. By sprinkling specifics in the actions of the character, you are making it more palatable to the reader.

Description can be tied to narrative voice. Your point of view character tells the story. Weigh carefully how much he or she would notice in their world. Certain personality types notice detail. Some don’t care a bit about it. Generally speaking, a female character will soak up their environment much more than a male one. Generally speaking, a sensitive character will pay extra attention to an environment. A colder one may not.  Reread your manuscript with this in mind and see how you can make things more consistent.

“For me, good description usually consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else.” — Stephen King

Description is stronger with the right noun. The more specific you are with your nouns, the clearer the picture can be for your reader. A Douglas fir is a more vivid picture than a tree. Keep your pacing consistent by choosing the right noun.

Do You Have Too Much Description? By Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelists

Description is even stronger with the right verb.  For the same reason, a precise, active verb carries the weight of a sentence and creates an interesting picture. Search for weaker verbs: is, was, are, had, has, have, walk, said, went, etc. Then, substitute stronger, more clear verbs. And while this task does sound tedious, it would be worth it to go back and make the sentences stronger.

There are no original plots, so writers must depend on the details to make a story interesting and readable. As you revise your story, keep these suggestions about description in mind.

And go easy on the Cheese Doodles, you might regret it later.


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Top 10 Ways To Make Your Words More Beautiful

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
Henry James

Regardless of tastes, preferences or trends, I believe the beautiful calls to us.

There is something inside of us that longs for symmetry, for rhythm, for thoughtful curves, for delicacy, for images that spurn our emotions, that bring out in us the good and noble. We all enjoy art for a variety for reasons, but no one can deny how beautiful art serves a purpose.

Beautiful art points us to the good in humanity.

As we write, we can organize our words  in such a way that their patterns, their meaning, their rhythm, their structure, and their message all sing together.   Finely crafted words come with discipline and practice. Beautiful sentences do not lay on the page passively waiting for an optic nerve to come by and give them life. Beautiful sentences dance — they vary in their length, in their structure, in the vivacity of their verbs and in the nuances of their nouns. Beautiful words paint a picture — they don’t slap it together. Beautiful words point to the strongest emotions on the human spectrum. Beautiful words can enflame anger.  Beautiful words can render jealously hotter. Beautiful words can pour out pain like a trickle or an avalanche. Beautiful words can sum up joy, can skip and staccato with each laugh and giggle. Beautiful words are for Hallmark cards and tweets, fortune cookies and voicemails. Beautiful words are for poets and teenagers, novelists and children, literati and pedestrian. Beautiful words pair together like friends to create a private party of emotion and delight.

Beautiful words, in prose, cannot be accidents.

Beautiful words play dress up when they are metaphor,simile or allegory. They toy with their meaning, putting on disguise, like a fake moustache or a floppy hat to be to the reader something they’re not. Oh, coy words tease and taunt the meanings and the similarities and the comparisons and the reader watches the burlesque stimulated to read more.

“I don’t know what it means and I don’t care because it’s Shakespeare and it’s like having jewels in my mouth when I say the words.”
― Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes

Beautiful art exalts mankind’s creativity.

Beautiful words hide meaning like a treasure, daring the reader to look for clues to the mystery. Beautiful words leave ellipses like bread crumbs that tempt the reader to go deeper into the woods. Is the reader escaping the real world or rushing to danger? Beautiful words will never tell, they’ll just keep looking behind them as they run over limb and log to keep the chase going.

Beautiful art echoes ancient truths.

Beautiful words march together in alliteration. Bearing the beat together as brothers in a band, blaring their business to any reader who claps along in the parade. Beautiful words are not democratic. Some words get the short end of the stick. They are the low feeders in the phonetic and entymological gene pool. Those words are edited and beaten and mocked and their superior sisters are given chances to go to the ball.

Beautiful art feeds our souls.

Beautiful words are parts of a whole, the vowels and consonants are like toddlers in a playground, picking their favorites for the swings or the ball game, holding hands or playing tag. Poor silent e can’t object. Poor insecure Q can’t go anywhere without U. Poor Z finds himself picked last for the game. Bossy A tells them all to line up. The words are acrobats, flipping and flying in their palindromes and anagrams. The suffixes and prefixes fly like lost feathers as up they go to the highest of heights.

“The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘cheque enclosed.”
― Dorothy Parker

The beautiful words are our medium.

They are crisp and wide like a crayon or pastel. They are precise like a fine pen. They are bold like charcoal and pool in the crevasses of meaning like a dab of watercolor. The words are gold and crimson and emerald and cobalt. They are rich with facets and carats and sparkle. They dazzle and enchant and when they are put together like beads on a chain, we can wear them around our neck like jewels.

How can we make words more beautiful?

How can we sculpt our sentences in such a way that the true essence of our meaning shines through? How can we enhance truth through a well-crafted sentence?

Top 10 Ways To Make Your Words More Beautiful by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

 

Try these suggestions:

 

 

1. Eliminate the adverbs and adjectives. Stick in a metaphor if you want the reader to appreciate the nuances and features of the noun. Or pick a better noun. Need inspiration? The 50 Most Quotes Lines of Poetry. Here’s another one I just want to sit and savor. 

2. Read it out loud. Listen for rhythms and cadence. Add in phrases or clauses to slow things down, add description or amp up emotion. Need inspiration? Try reading Buzzfeed’s Beautiful Words: 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences in literature. I found them very inspiring.

3. Don’t let it start with “There was” or “There were.” Look at these quotes for the structure or how they begin the sentence. This may give you a good idea how to improve. The website calls it, “These 33 One-Sentence Quotes Will Blow Your Mind Every Time. Especially The 8th One.” That’s a bit of an overstatement, but they are nice and noble and short! (That can’t be said about the ads!)

4. Rearrange where the verb and noun are in the sentence, but don’t make it passive. Poets and songwriters have to tinker with word arrangement to make sentences work better rhythmically. Need examples? This fascinating article from The Guardian admires the beauty of the lyrics in Stephen Sondheim musicals. I loved this!

5. Add an element of emotion, especially in the verb choice you make. Here’s a list of 317 “power words” that you can sprinkle in your prose. The context of this article is blogging, but any of these words will do for your fiction too!

6. Use Anglo Saxon words rather than Latin words. Don’t know the difference? Check out this excellent blog post that explains the difference! 

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”
Edgar Allan Poe

7. Substitute any “be” verb for a verb that’s specific and vivacious. You know you’ve got a good one when you can see exactly what is happening. You can be more expressive with a little work and imagination. Need inspiration?  This is a beautiful collection of words from other cultures that can’t be translated into English. I love the illustrations and I also like thinking of the imagination that came up for the need for these words. I also want to put them in my every day use right now. And then I found the same list even MORE beautifully illustrated! 

8. Substitute every word for a synonym just to see what you can come up with. But don’t get fancy. Big, multi syllable words may muddy your meaning. Just for fun, check out these multi-syllable words that can add a bit of flavor. 

9. Combine two short sentences or separate a long sentence into shorter ones. Sentences should be varying lengths. In a similar vein, this is a  fascinating article from NPR about loving sentences. I want to sit and read this forever.

“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”
James Joyce

10. Look for weak modifiers like “very” or “some”. If a word in a sentence doesn’t have a precise purpose, take it out. In fact, read the sentence the omit the first word. Read it again omitting the second, then the third. If you don’t miss the word, or the meaning is unchanged, omit the word altogether.  In this point, I can safely omit the words, “weak”, “precise”, “in fact”, and “altogether.” See?  My friend Jude Knight has a list of “filter words” that are dull, uninteresting and serve little purpose. Use this list to weed out the ugly and make room for the beautiful.

Beautiful words are our powerful medium.

We have control over them. We have them lined up in little drawers of our mind and dig through our thesaurus if we can’t find the right one. If we are good at what we do, they are chosen with care and precision. They are picked gingerly from the box and pressed into place with our fingertips. There they do not rest. They are to be re-read and deleted, edited and proofread, taken out and put back in.

I am thankful that I have such a glorious, magnificent, illogical, sometimes unwieldy medium in which to practice my art.

Sometimes I make the words more beautiful.

Sometimes they make me.

Top 10 Great Things That Happened When I Stopped Complaining

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Sometimes, the world really is insufficient, faulty or stupid. But sometimes it’s just better not to notice. 

A few years ago, after a particularly difficult time in my life, I challenged myself to watch what I said and to stop complaining. I thought that by stopping the bad attitude was just a generally a good step in the direction of restraint. I had no idea that this would change nearly everything about my life. 

Now, this blog has the main purpose of encouraging time-crunched writers in their dreams, but sometimes, I want to write for everyone. I firmly believe that the world would change dramatically if we stopped complaining.

TOP 10 Things That Happened When I Stopped Complaining

1. I saw the world for what it was. The glass really is half full! How delightful to discover little surprises in my day that I only discovered because I decided to live in light, not darkness.

2. I had more friends. I can’t believe it took me over 40 years to find out that people are attracted to happy people, not angry ones. Who knew? I had always thought that there was virtue in honesty. Now I’m seeing that negative thoughts, kept to ones self, can open doors in a way that negative words spoken will only shut.

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Maya Angelou

3. I became more trustworthy. This is another Who Knew moment! The people that was spending time with — those who were attracted to me for my optimism — were more willing to trust me with their real selves. This strengthened my friendships. And I suppose if I gave up the fact that they were trying to hurt me, then my vulnerability made me a better friend too.

4. I worried less. I really believe that all my negativity was rooted in fear. If I chose to be less negative and chose to dwell on the positive, then all those bad things that I thought were going to happen never happened.  Now, after practicing thinking rainbows and sunshine I’ve gotten to where if I ever feel afraid, then I know it’s because I’m thinking the wrong things.

5. I had more ideas. A fearless, brave, positive person will most definitely take more chances than a fearful, angry, worried person. By releasing my negativity, I was far more willing to move forward on my ideas, try new things and forget failure. This also added a lot to my happiness.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Abraham Lincoln

6. I had more energy. Negativity does something to me. It makes me tired and restless. It drives me to eat too much or sleep too late. By thinking happy thoughts, not only was I confident that I could tackle my to-do list, but I also make exercise a priority, which made me more energetic. This was surprising and very encouraging.

7. I had fun. Another surprise. It is more fun to be happy than to be sad. Funny: when you choose to be happy, you’re taking responsibility for your own happiness and fun rather than having it come to you. I didn’t know this before even though it makes perfect sense. It also makes me regret wasting all that time being negative.

8. Doors opened up to me. If I’m more attractive to others and I’m taking more risks, then more opportunities will come to me too. All the things that I want out of life are on the other side of fear and negativity. Hmm. If that isn’t motivation to put a smile on my face, I don’t know what is! 

“Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”
Lily Tomlin

9. I set a good example. We all face things that we don’t like on a daily basis, but whining and complaining to the leadership rarely helps. I am a leader in my family — I am the mother. And when my children complain, I listen to legitimate concerns, but I also want to teach them that their attitudes make my job easier. Let’s all choose to be happy, even when circumstances aren’t great and we’ll probably grow stronger for it.

10. I stray clear of other complainers. For the first time in my life, I can see how toxic complaining can be. I can see how unattractive it is in others. I see how sometimes it’s destructive and divisive. I see how it can bring everything down. I don’t need complaining people in my life, so now I stay away from them and I don’t feel guilty about it.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t completely given it up.

I catch myself sometimes creating a long mental list of everything that is wrong with my life. But the difference is now I see it and I stop it as soon as I can. I have friends around me who I can be honest with about this. I can keep myself from picking up more negativity like a lint brush and making things worse.

I see now that my complaining is like illness-causing bacteria.

Complaining can cause rifts and divisions, bring down a mood, make others miserable and spread like conjunctivitis in a kindergarten class. If I choose a good attitude then I’m doing what I can to fight the infectious negativity around me. 

What about you? What do you do to combat negativity in your life? I want to know!

Top 10 Questions To Ask Others and Avoid Being Labeled Another Emily Dickinson by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

If you are a writer, then it is likely that you prefer to be isolated from the rest of the world.

You spend your days thinking up great stories, making them as perfect as you possibly can. You may create that ideal lover, that ideal setting or that ideal story that you believe is the only story worth telling, at least for now. You may often be so engrossed in the creation of your little world that you forget that when the story is over, you may have to share it.

And that thought makes you want to pretend you’re Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson was an American poet who lived about an hour from where I do now, in Amherst, Massachusetts from 1830 to 1886. Dickinson was a famed recluse. And when she died, her family found over 1800 poems that she had hand composed. Some had been “published” in that they were sent to friends, but most were left undiscovered. And this video from Crash Course and John Green explains my favorite commercial jingle related Dickson explanation. 

You don’t want to be Emily Dickinson.

Okay, having 1800 poems written would be kinda cool, but if you are going to have readers, editors, agents and publishers, you’re going to have to come out of the house and show others your work.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 6.25.40 PM

This means that you should get feedback.

This means that you have to open yourself up to criticism. This means that you may risk being misunderstood or disliked. This means that someone may not agree with your choices. This means that you may need the opinions of beta readers, critique partners or writers groups in order to be the best that you can be.

Yikes. That sounds scary. It’s bad enough that we’re writers. But we have to do this too?

When we start out, we’re hesitant and flighty, nervous and fretful. We crave affirmation that we’re on the right track, but we stop so often to ask, we make little progress. Then it doesn’t help that there are so many book/websites/blogs to read about how to be a great writer that it just makes us more insecure in who we are.

Oh, we writers are an insecure bunch aren’t we?

So are we good or not? How do we know? When do we find out? Why isn’t there a rule about this?

Um, well, this is the problem with the subjectivity in good writing. No one really knows. But that doesn’t help you, the new writer.

Good writers, or at least writers who want to be the best that they can be,  use beta readers’, critique partners’ or writers’ groups’ opinions to iron out the story’s wrinkles, find out what’s missing and see what the writer doesn’t see. You can use beta readers early in your writing journey, say, after the first draft. Or you can wait several drafts into it and then let trusted people read it.  Either way, you may find it helpful to give them specific questions to answer about your manuscript. Need a beta reader? The 10 Minute Novelist Facebook group has Buddy Day every Tuesday just for this reason! 

“Judge tenderly of me.”
Emily Dickinson

I’d like to suggest that the world is only big enough for one Emily Dickinson. I’d like to suggest that you get over your fear and ask for help from other writers. To help you, I have this:

Top 10 Questions To Ask Others & Avoid Being Labeled Another Emily DIckinson by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. What were the strengths of the book? Start off with a positive! If anything else goes wrong, you at least have one or two nice things others say. 

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
Emily Dickinson

2. Who was your favorite character, why? The characters need to be interesting, not necessarily likeable. They need to have a distinct arc. They need to change either for better or worse. They need to be consistent. 

3. Did you think that the plot lines were plausible? Even if your story takes place on a distant planet, underwater or sometime in the future, you need to make sure that the things that happen have the possibility of actually happening. If it is too far fetched, even in fantasy, your reader won’t be interested. 

“There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.”
Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems

4. Did you think anything was missing? You first readers should be paying close attention to what isn’t being written about? If they say to you, I kept waiting for this to happen and it didn’t.  Then you may want to find a way to fill that hole. If one reader thinks something’s missing, another may too. 

5. Where you ever tempted to put the book down and not pick it up? Why or why not? This is a good question. Your beta reader should tell you when things get boring or dry. If you don’t need the description of the back alley behind the pizza joint, don’t put it in. If you don’t need the backstory of the girl next door that explains her scar that you’ll never mention again, then take it out. Your reader’s willingness to keep going is good marker on whether or not you’re doing your job as a storyteller.

“But a Book is only the Heart’s Portrait- every Page a Pulse.”
Emily Dickinson

6. Did you find the setting fully described? Regardless of your genre, your setting will have a role to play in the story. The story itself will dictate how much of the setting is pertinent. Pay attention to what your beta reader says about it. You may have given us too much information or maybe not enough. 

7. Did you find the characters to be distinctive? Each character needs to be developed enough that the readers have no trouble remembering who is who. My personal goal is removing all the dialogue tags from their conversations and see if I can spot the distinctions in what they say. Ask your readers if they can find distinctions easily. If they can’t, consider fleshing them out more, or combining a couple of characters together. 

“I have been bent and broken, but -I hope- into a better shape.”
Emily Dickinson

8. Did you understand the goals of each of the characters? Each character should want something. Sometimes what they say they want and what they really want are two different things. Ask your readers if the goals are clear and reasonable. If they aren’t, then spend the time to clarify them. You may find by fine tuning goals, the character itself will become richer. 

9. Did you “see it coming” or were you surprised by the progress of the story? You story should be plausible, but not predictable. Hopefully your readers can be honest with you about what they saw coming and what may seem cliched. You may have to change a few things, but that’s okay, your work will be all the better. 

“Opinion is a fitting thing but truth outlasts the sun – if then we cannot own them both, possess the oldest one.”
Emily Dickinson

10. Do you wish that other things had happened to the characters that didn’t? I had a reader once who told me that she thought my poor main character went through far too many conflicts and I should ease up on her a bit. I respectfully disagreed. The variety of conflicts made the story a good one. But check with your readers. They may give you an idea you hadn’t thought of. 

Now Emily Dickinson did write, 

“Saying nothing sometimes says the most.”
Emily Dickinson

I’d have to disagree with her. I think that we need feedback from others. It is scary. But once your get your answers, handle them gracefully. You don’t need to follow every suggestion. Just use them for what they are: another helpful tool in your novel-sculpting.

“They might not need me; but they might.
I’ll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.”
Emily Dickinson

And the nice thing about having relationships with other writers is that we can reciprocate! Our turn will come when we can be the one who is called to critique. Hopefully we’ll remember the experience and answer these questions with grace and gentleness.

You need not be afraid of others’ opinions about your work. As poetic as you may be, it’s healthier not to be an Emily Dickinson.

Take your chances with the world and be as good a you as you can be.

Top 10 Ways Poetry is Better Than Food

Poetry is better than food.

At least sometimes it is.

Just like we eat a variety of things so that we can nourish our bodies, I think we should read a variety of poems so that we can nourish our souls. I love that some poetry  is bite sized like a Dickinson poem or a haiku. I like that some poetry is a full five course meal, like a Longfellow poem.

Hungry yet?

Top 10 Ways Poetry Is Better Than Food by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelists

 

1. Like vegetables, poetry is good for you. 

If you have the literary nutrition of a poem daily, the you can  appreciate rhythm, imagery, metaphor, meaning, communication, pathos, story telling and good craftsmanship. If you analyze it,  much in the same way you would analyze a novel, you will most certainly find value.  Ask yourself these questions: What is the poet trying to say? Why did he make the choices that he made? What emotions are you experiencing as a result of the poem? What insight do you have that you didn’t have before? Why was this so important to this poet? What literary elements, like alliteration and repetition and assonance are used here? What does this poet want his reader to take from it?

2. Many great writers were poets. If you read these manageable bites from great writers, you’re sampling great writing. 

YouTube is full of lectures on the great poets of literature. By taking the time to study the turbulent lives of the poets, their muses, their successes and their failures, it can make you appreciate not just the art that is created but the journey each writer took to make it. Crash Course has a great series on literature. And this one is about Emily Dickinson is hilarious. Can you sing them to I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing or Yellow Rose of Texas?

I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath,

3. Poetry won’t make you fat. Little Debbies cakes will. 

You can indulge all you want. If I want to gorge on the 500 most popular poems in literature, check out this book. It’s one of my favorites! You can even hoard, I mean, collect your favorites in one place at PoemHunter.com. 

 4. You don’t have to go to the grocery store to get great poetry.

You don’t! You can find it nearly everywhere! Besides Poetry Hunter, there’s also The Poetry Foundation, Academy of American Poets and Poetry.com which is an online community for amateur poets. If you still can’t find that one with the dashes by Emily Dickonson or the sad one by Sylvia Plath or the Wordsworth poem in which he ponders how great nature is, check your local library. It’s likely they have a whole section devoted to poetry and all of these resources are free! 

5. Poetry is for everyone. Beluga caviar is not.

Poetry was originally used to remember events, pass down history and entertain the common people long before literacy. If you are really into poetry, you’re not all that different from people of ancient civilizations who treasured the way poetry made them feel or reminded them of the past. You are not a literary snob if you can recite Paul Revere’s Ride,  you just like everyone else who wanted to remember a great event in a fun way. It’s even more fun if you listen to Sean Astin read it. 

6. Food just gives you necessary chemicals for life. Poetry makes you a great writer.

Some poems are even about food. But is food ever a poem? Not very often.
Some poems are even about food. But is food ever a poem? Not very often.

Novelists can benefit from the lessons taught by the great poets. We’re so busy making our characters likable and our plot points believable that we leave out the metaphor, the pathos, the art. I think in our rush to self-publish that we forget the necessity of the time required for good craftsmanship. As long as we don’t take a lesson from Coleridge and use drug use to create a Kubla Khan, (which I think should be an exception, not a rule.) A little nuance, a little subtlety, a little mystery a challenge may do them some good. We can learn this from great poems.

7. Poetry can get you through tough times better than chocolate ice cream.

We’ve all had some bad break-ups that requires high calorie dairy products to get over. But with poetry as the salve to your broken heart, you can articulate your pain more precisely. This is When We Two Parted  by Lord Byron. Don’t look too closely to Byron for relationship advice. He was kind of, um, weird.

8. Quoting poetry makes you look smart. If you memorize the back of the cereal box, no one cares.

I think everyone should memorize poetry. Memorize it for the sake of the discipline of it, of committing something to your soul, of tasting the words as they come off the tongue, of subconsciously realizing that these poems were put together with great care and craftsmanship. This is Longfellow! Tennyson! These aren’t slapdash inklings of a self-absorbed teen. This is something you can carry with you.But this article argues this point far better than I can. So does The New Yorker. So does The New York Times. 

So my kids and I like "We Are The Music Makers" so much that we rewrote it. It's about food, which shouldn't surprise anyone.
So my kids and I like “We Are The Music Makers” so much that we rewrote it. It’s about food, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

9. Poetry can go with you everywhere. You don’t need a cooler. 

This article is from 2012, but it’s still mostly relevant. You can carry poetry in your head. You can carry poems on your phone. And no matter how many times you quote The Raven, you’ll never get crumbs in the bottom of your purse.

10. Good poems have a longer shelf life than dairy products.

We shouldn’t let our own voice sink to the lowest common denominator. We should, instead, nurture it with great words like those found in the poems of the past and present. We imitate what we have before us. If all we read is junk literature, the latest pulp novel, a sappy, uninspired romance — all of which are like pop culture bursts of nothing —  then our work will could potentially be stuck in the pedestrian and the common. One way to fight this is to surround ourselves with the wholesome, the healthy and the literarily nutritious.

Why do we need it poetry? Writers who savor poetry become better writers. 

 This Ted Talk lauds the value of poetry! 

What about you? What’s your favorite poet? Your favorite poem? Your favorite source for great poetry! Please share! 

Who Are We? A Existential Rambling From A Novelist Who Should Probably Know Better

Who are we?

What is our identity?

These are big questions that haven’t been fully answered by the wisest men. But I’d like to suggest that we are more than our genders, more than our hobbies, more than our avatars, more than our homes, more than our children, more than our possessions.

Who Are We- An Existential Rambling from a Novelist Who Should Probably Know Better

I ask this because I have always struggled with identity.

I spent a good part of my childhood fighting for attention, fighting for reassurance, fighting for comfort, for safety, for aspirations, for acceptance that exactly who I am is enough. That fight lasted way too long and the addition of titles like wife and mother just made fight more confusing. But I fought anyway.

I needed to know who I was because I had been told so differently. I needed to know who I was so my children could hold their heads up high. I needed to know who I was so when the storms of life battered me, I could be at peace knowing that the foundational truths about who I was remained. It wasn’t until I fully understood that I was enough, that I began to be free. 

And I believe that there is something deep inside of all of us that needs to know — WE NEED TO KNOW WHO WE ARE!

I can tell you the facts about me but that is not enough to fill that deep longing. I can tell you about my heritage and history, but that is not enough to strengthen me for the future. I can tell you about what I own, which isn’t much, but I know from experience how empty possessions can make you feel. I can tell you about how I spend my time, and I get very excited about my project, but they really don’t define me either. It’s more like they are an expression of my identity, but not my identity itself.

Knowing our identities is kind of like going on a treasure hunt. We search our inner wildernesses for that answer. Those who know and who are comfortable in their identities can’t give us clues to our own search. This is journey is a solitary one and it can, at times, be lonely.

We need to know who we are because it is this fact from which we fuel our thoughts. If we believe we are nothing, then we tell ourselves this lie. If we believe that we are worthless, then we repeat that to ourselves. If we believe that what we do has no value, then we are lazy, uninspired, fearful and defeated. If we believe that our identities are elusive, that they are accidental, that they are disposable, then this reveals what we really think about ourselves.

We can’t be happy if we don’t know who we really are.

I believe that our success depends on settling this core truth. I believe that the happiest, most joyful people, know something. I believe they know who they are. Often they can even say it clearly: I am worthy. I am strong. I am put here on this earth for a reason. I am a child of God. I am important. I am valuable. I am loved.

How do we move from having no clue to embracing it?

We have to make a mental choice. This is a battle of our minds. This is a battle that could be gut-wrenching. I know that in my case, I had to literally list everything that was ever spoken to me, “you’re not worth it, you’ll never amount to anything, you’re a nobody, you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re stupid, you’re just a girl” and defy them all. I had to look those nasty lies in the eyes and exert the force of my being against them. I had to TELL THEM TO GET OUT OF MY HEAD! I had to kick them in the teeth. I had to stare them down. I had to emotionally and mentally attack each one and make them cower in fear.

This took a lot of work. It took months of effort. Many times I wanted to quit. Many  times I wanted to pick up each of those shiny lies and say, “but someone with authority in my life said this to me, so it must be true” and then put the poison back in the pocket of my soul.

Recently psychoanalyst Adam Phillips said this about identities: Because we are nothing special — on a par with ants and daffodils — it is the work of culture to make us feel special; just as parents need to make their children feel special to help them bear and bear with — and hopefully enjoy — their insignificance in the larger scheme of things. In this sense growing up is always an undoing of what needed to be done: first, ideally, we are made to feel special; then we are expected to enjoy a world in which we are not… When people realize how accidental they are, they are tempted to think of themselves as chosen. We certainly tend to be more special, if only to ourselves, in our (imaginary) unlived lives.

I would like to respectfully disagree with Mr. Phillips.  

What if we ARE something special? What if we’re special not because of our chemistry, nor our history, not our talents, nor our appearance? What if we’re special because we share the goodness of humanity? What if we’re special because we have a longing to aspire to greatness? What if we’re special because we are the only creatures on the planet that creates art? What if we’re special because we are attracted to justice? What if we are special because we want to embrace the honorable? What if we are special because we make feeble attempts to worship? What if we are special because we are baffled by the complexities of life and yet we want to still understand them? What if we are special because our fingerprints indicate that we could be? What if we’re special because of the invisible, intelligent force that organized our bodies, our brains and our souls so magnificently that we are awed by it? What if Adam Phillips is mistaken?

If I choose to believe that I am nothing then I lose hope. As for me, I would rather believe my own “foolishness” and have a hope and joy than believe this so-called truth that Mr. Phillips suggests and have despair.

I have been in the place of nothingness and it is a dark pit that has an endless horror. I don’t want that any more.

This is an existential argument. I’m quite sure I’m oversimplifying it. I am not a philosopher, a psychoanalyst, nor a theologian. But I do know that there is a choice that we all make, on a moment by moment, heartbeat by heartbeat basis. Do we choice hope or do we choose despair? I believe, simply because my own emotional fragility hangs on a thread, that that choice is a critical one. That is the choice that we make when we open our eyes in the morning. It is the one that puts us to sleep at night.

What do you believe?

  • If you believe that you are nothing then you will isolate yourself to evaporate into a void. If you believe that you are worthy then you will look into the eyes of others and speak their worth to them.
  • If you believe that you are nothing, then you will have convinced yourself that your sins are too much. That your punishment is not too great. If you believe that you are something, then you wear grace as a blanket, you confess your sin to others, you are humbled and grateful for forgiveness.
  • If you believe that you are nothing, then you are a slave to laziness and procrastination. They have whispered in your ears that it doesn’t matter what you do or when you do it because life’s futility is a force you can’t reckon with. But if you believe you are valuable, then you know that your efforts, no matter now small, no matter how ignored, are life-giving to someone, somehow and you must be faithful in them.
  • If you believe that you are nothing, you will debase yourself with the things that are destructive. You pick them up even though they destroy you, even though they handicap you, even though they diminish your soul. You abuse them because you don’t believe you deserve better. But if you believe you are valuable, then you look for the clutter, the poison, and the toxicity and you eliminate it from your life. You get help to do this. You admit your weakness. If you believe you are valuable, then you will find courage to face your demons.
  • If you believe that you are nothing, then you will hurt others to make yourself look good. You will point fingers, you will guffaw, you will mock, you will threaten and accuse. You will, by your own dark words, reveal the emptiness in your life. You may alienate those around you — the very ones you say you want to be closer to. But if you believe you are valuable, you will choose peace-making. You will speak kindness. You will offer a hand. You will reveal by your changed life that there is something whole there.
  • If you believe that you are nothing then you believe that you can never change. You will say that you’ve tried, or you at least you’ve claimed to. You will take failure as an excuse to continue to lie in the ditch of failure instead of getting up and stepping out of it. If you believe you are nothing, then you fondle the excuses in your pocket, convinced that they are the talisman to comfort. But if you believe that you are valuable, then you pray for change. You believe nothing is impossible. You seek wisdom. You ask for help. You see that humility and teachability are deceptively strong weapons in your fight for happiness.
  • If you believe that you are worthless then you blame others for your misery. If you believe that you are valuable, then you take responsibility for your own happiness.
  • If you believe that you are worthless then you listen to the siren songs of mindless entertainment too often.  If you believe that you are valuable, then you make disciplined choices in how you spend your time.

I believe I am something amazing, made in the image of God, to do excellent work for others. Believing this makes all the difference.

Who are you?

What Is Beautiful To Me by Katharine Grubb

 

What is beautiful?

 It is beautiful to stop and take deep breaths. To understand that your breathing not just helps your body but it also calms you down. Your deep breaths soothe your mind. Deep breaths free you up to think and act clearly. Deep breathing is a pacifier, a soother, a psychological binky.  You can wrap yourself up in your own breaths and rest deeply. You can breathe the toxins out of your body. You can breathe out the bad thoughts and the invasive poisons.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

What is beautiful?

It is beautiful to choose to be free and walk in truth. What’s beautiful in the journey of truth is to see all of the people join you. They want to hold your hand and lead you along. They want what you’ve got. It is beautiful to be winsome and lovely, to be calm and kind. It is beautiful that these things are so much better for us than almost anything else.

What is beautiful?

It is beautiful when words inspires new life and new hope. It is hard to understand that something new and fresh and hopeful can come out of such suffering. How can that be? How can it be that the suffering produces so much beauty?

Now with every step that I see this beauty unfolding around me, I have to make a choice.

Do I keep going with more and more beauty or do I stop and listen to the voices that are behind me?  The jarring voices behind me are filled of accusations. They are blind to the beauty around me. They are blind to the richness in hopeful words.  They’d rather find comfort in their mockery and hatred than look up to see beauty.

Beauty is looking at all my scars and knowing where they came from and getting up and fighting anyway.  Katharine GrubbWhat is beautiful?

Beauty is looking at all my scars and knowing where they came from and getting up and fighting anyway. Beauty is choosing to live my life away from anyone who harms me emotionally. Beauty is knowing my preferences and my passions and my talents and my ideas and working hard to put them into action. Beauty is speaking only good things about others. Beauty is defending the boundaries of others.

This is why I write. I write because the fight for beauty is worth it. 


 

KI am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.atharine Grubb is the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day, Falling For Your Madness, and Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayBesides homeschooling her five children, baking bread and doing crazy amounts of laundry, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists, the liveliest writers’ group on Facebook. Her new book, Soulless Creatures, about two college roommates who bet a brand new car that one of them doesn’t have a soul, will be released August, 2015. Katharine and her family live in Massachusetts.


Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, The Rallying Cry,  will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing.

Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, <em>The Rallying Cry, </em> will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing. <em>The Rallying Cry </em> will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

 The Rallying Cry  will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

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Beauty, Truth, and the Power to Transcend: A Guest Post by Carolyn Astfalk

 

Sometimes we recognize beauty on sight.

Where beauty exists in the natural world, it’s often easily discernible. Other times, we have to dig to see the beauty or observe from a different perspective to grasp its intricacy or totality.

Whether we readily recognize beauty or not, its creation isn’t a slapdash affair. It can be a complicated, messy process that requires deliberate planning, execution, and revision.

Beauty, Truth, and the Power to Transcend by Carolyn Astfalk

However difficult it may be to infuse our art with beauty, it is critical to its acceptance and appreciation. Truth and beauty create transcendence, and it’s transcendence that resonates with readers. Beauty, in its universality, becomes personalist.

“In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”

This passage, taken from Pope Saint John Paul II’s 1999 “Letter to Artists,” sets the bar high for any artist. Writers assemble letters into an inexhaustible number of unique arrangements to create truth and beauty, and in doing so, touch upon something so innate, so universal, that it brings life to the deepest stirrings of our souls.

While writing can and many times should be light, its purpose is not to be taken lightly.

So often in life, we choose expedience over luxury. The shortcut rather than the scenic route. The functional over the ornate. Pressed for time and pulled in a dozen different directions, short and to the point is often better than long-winded and grandiose.

After all, you can appreciate music anywhere, not just in the confines of a spectacular concert hall. You can eat anywhere, not just in a fine restaurant. And you can worship anywhere, not just in a grand cathedral.

So, too, can the words you create and consume be utilitarian. Words are used to describe furniture assembly, medicinal dosage, and technical documentation. But they are also used to profess love, offer prayers, and pour out heartfelt confessions.

Why do I write?
Why I Write: A Series from the authors of 10 Minute Novelists

So accustomed are we to those humdrum uses, that we can fail to recognize and recall the beauty and artistry of words.

In a 2002 message, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

“The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgment and can correctly evaluate the arguments.”

To illustrate this arcane point, he follows with an example, one to which many can relate. Then Cardinal Ratzinger recalls attending a Bach concert conducted by Leonard Bernstein. He says, “The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s imagination.”

He’s talking here about the existence of God, but even aside from the theological implications, it rings true. Who hasn’t felt the truth in the swelling crescendo of music, the subtlety of a painted likeness, or the recitation of mellifluous words?

Words capture truth and beauty in myriad ways. Not by sight or sound or meaning alone, but by all three.

Words possess physical beauty. It is seen in a looping descender or a graceful ascender. There is beauty in practiced, professional calligraphy and in a loved one’s unique script. There is intrinsic beauty in a recipe written lovingly by the hand of a now-deceased grandmother and in the elementary scrawl of a young child writing “I love you” for the first time.

Words have aural beauty. A beauty expressed in rhythm, alliteration, and sometimes onomatopoeia – a beautiful sounding word in itself.

Words have cognizant beauty. They possess the power to elevate and enlighten, to encourage, and to embolden. Perhaps most importantly, through their truth, they communicate that we are not alone.

That perhaps is the greatest mystery and magic of words. Created alone or consumed alone, in private or public, in silence or aloud, executed by flesh and bone or binary sequence, they exist because another exists. Because truth exists. And beauty exists. If only we have eyes to see it.


 

Carolyn AstfalkCarolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She blogs at My Scribbler’s Heart (http://carolynastfalk.com/category/my-scribblers-heart-blog/) Her debut novel, Stay With Me, will be published by Full Quiver Publishing in October 2015.