Showing posts from August, 2013

Learning to avoid ‘thought’ verbs

I came across an essay on writing that I found very inspiring. It’s written by Chuck Palahniuk and it’s about using – or rather not using – ‘thought’ verbs in fiction writing.I recognised myself as the worst transgressor of his rule and immediately set out to improve my writing.

Palahniuk starts by stating that in six seconds you’ll hate him and he’s right. But he also promises that you’ll become a better writer for listening to him. Since it’ll take considerably longer than six seconds to learn to be a better writer, I can’t vouch for that yet. But I’m working on it.
What, then, are thought verbs and why you should avoid them? According to Palahniuk, thinking is abstract, and knowing and believing are intangible. You should allow your readers do the thinking and knowing and concentrate instead on showing the physical actions and details of your characters to your readers.
Verbs like think, know, understand, realise, believe, want, remember, imagine, desire and loveare among those you sh…

Make Twitter an enjoyable experience for you

I passed a Twitter milestone last week: I reached two thousand followers. I managed to avoid the Twitter jail in the process too. For those of you who are new to Twitter, you’re only allowed to follow two thousand accounts until you have that many followers yourself. I was followed by two thousand people first, which freed me to follow as many accounts as I like.

I predicted in March that I’d be able to get to two thousand in half the time it took me to have a thousand followers. I was wrong. It took pretty much exactly the same time. Mainly, it’s because of the system I’ve adopted. About once a week, I follow 20-50 accounts, hoping they’ll follow me back, and unfollow those who haven’t. Had I doubled the number of accounts I follow every week, I would probably have reached my goal faster. I could also have resorted to various services there are for maintaining your Twitter account, but I haven’t signed with any of those.
I like my hands-on system. It allows me to follow the kinds of ac…

When your book stalls

Last week, I hit a wall with the book I’m currently writing. I simply couldn’t bring myself to add a single word to it. Since I’ve written a couple of books already, I had experienced the same before so I wasn’t worried.I also knew that I shouldn’t fight it, but determine the causes and fix them.
There were several reasons for why I was unable to continue writing. The characters felt boring and stupid, not worth developing into the fullness of what I thought they could be. The plot was meaningless and uninspiring. I would have to read everything I’d written so far to pinpoint the exact places where it started going wrong, but the third reason why I was unable to write on was that I was tired.
I was, in other words, feeling both lazy and uninspired. I could have tried to force the words to come, but I chose a different approach.
I decided to give my mind something else to think about.
I gave myself a permission to start writing an entirely different book that had simmered at the back of my…

Holiday: a short story.

I wrote a short story. It’s basically an exercise in form, but I thought to share it with you anyway. It's not long.

London. The summer of ’89. A family holiday. The Tall Ships Races were in town and the Tower Bridge had been opened three times that day already to allow the majestic ships to glide through. Epic traffic jams. The entire city was at standstill.
It was my first visit and I was excited.
We had spent the night at dad’s cousin. No idea where she lived to this day, other than that it was on the south side of the Thames. We had met her at her work – once we had found the place. We had the address, somewhere in Docklands, but no map that would have shown us how to get there.
Dad asked directions from an old man who spoke at length in what we could only assume was cockney. Dad nodded and said thanks and we drove off. We asked what the man had told him and he said he had no idea. He hadn’t understood a word.
We found a more helpful person who gave us good directions: “And wha…