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Friday, June 17, 2011

F3 The Road

     One more mile.
     One more mile behind, one more mile to go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing Tools: OED

     A post on Query Shark by Janet Reid (with an update on her other blog here) got me thinking. She's talking about vocabulary and voice. People have different vocabularies. There's all the words we know, and then there's our working vocabulary, which is all the words we use regularly. Obviously the working vocabulary is smaller than all of the ones our noggins can hold.
     The post made me think of just how much we rely on certain vocabularies to establish voice. Characters have their own way of saying things. Speech patterns and words establish character and narrative voice, so the usage of words is absolutely essential.
     As writers, we need to know words. Lots of words. Huge Mack truckloads of words, but that's not all. We need to know the permutations and histories. The meanings of words changes over time. Yes, a simple online dictionary can give a list of current definitions, maybe even suggest slang usage, but most of those won't tell the etymology of the word. There are a couple of online etymology sources, but none of those compare to the definitive source for the English language: the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).
     There is only one OED. Oxford University Press puts out many dictionaries, but only one of which is the OED. Nothing compares to how thorough the OED is in chronicling the language. In print form it is over 20 volumes, and it does much much more than simply give definitions. This is a resource which peels back the layers of the language to show off its roots. It is now available online, so writers need not devote shelf space (or backpack space) to the 20+ volume set. It is accessible anywhere in the world.
     Now, it's not free. In fact, its cost is prohibitive for most writers to purchase on their own. However, most university and public libraries purchase access to the OED, so it may be freely available via library web portal. Go forth and explore the wonderful language. Bonus points for those who knew the picture was of a noggin.

Friday, June 10, 2011

F3 Unrestrained Power

     Power. Unyielding, wild power crackled the air around him. Through gritted teeth and clench fists he tried to wrestle the power to his will. The effort appeared to shrink the crackling aura some, but tendrils still flailed about. Like an oiled eel the power writhed and slipped away from his will.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Standing Out

     Agents get a lot of queries, on the order of Douglas Adams's description of how big space is. Agents report on inboxes stuffed with hundreds of emails every week, and often get over ten thousand queries a year.
     Agent Jessica Faust recently posted about her conference swag. Before going to my first writers' conference, I did some preliminary research, and came to similar conclusions. There are too many bookmarks, postcards, fliers, and business cards overstuffed with information. The glossy, graphic-laden, quote-filled, testimonial-by-friend-filled swag is simply too much. They're everywhere. They're all the same. I remember the amount of swag I got just in the bag at registration, and immediately had to winnow it out. I dumped most of the cards and bookmarks right away, barely sparing them a glance.
     With all the various queries, with all the bookmarks, cards, pens, etc. out there, how does a writer stand out of the background? I'm not entirely sure, (as I'm still pounding the pavement) but it's an opportunity for creativity. It needs to be outside the box, though (the trash can, I suppose) in order to get the requisite attention. My gut tells me that less is more. To do something simply will yield more results than filling every nook and cranny with graphics and information. Something o think about, at least.

Friday, June 3, 2011

F3 Forest of Dread

     On most days, I didn't go anywhere near the Forbidden Forest, but a Good witch wanted a special mushroom from the forest. Knights thought the task beneath them, and peasants were scared of the forest's reputation. I didn't mind. It was something to do, and gave me a change of scenery.
     I came to a clearing,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing Tools: Em dashes and Quotation marks

      After last week's writing tools, I played around with em dashes a little more, and one of the odd behaviors I've noticed with word processors is they have a block when it comes to making the dash play along nicely with smart quotation marks.
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