Monday, February 22, 2010

Figure Skating & Writing

Figure skaters have to pack all the required elements into their two-and-half-minute short programs and their five-minute long programs. A fiction writer has to include all the required elements in her short story and novel. When I first watched figure skating in the 1990s, I simply enjoyed a sport. A sport that has beauty, artistry, and elegance. Years later, sinceI explored literary writing, I've watched the sport with a pair of writer's eyes, paying attention to how the skaters put their programs together.

Interestingly, judges, who reward a skater with high score, look for many qualities. Among them are detail and transition. Aren't detail and transition also what we writers have to heed? In truth, there're other aspects, from which I can draw parallels between the sport and writing. I pick these two because I've found that they're the areas I need to work on.

With the winter Olympics going on in Vancouver B.C., I can feast my eyes with all the graceful movements and at the same time enjoy being reminded of what it takes to be a good writer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Purple Prose

Personally, I'm not a fan of purple prose. The writing itself is impressive; however, I read it somewhere this kind of writing belonged to writers of the Nineteenth and the early Twentieth Centuries, because writing in the Twenty-first Century, writers are competing with so many things resulted from technology: TV, computer, laptop, Smart Phone, IPhone, IPad, video games, to name a few. According to some statistics, only 60% of readers who put down the book will pick it up again. And purple prose tends to slow down the story. It's the place where a reader closes up the book and puts it away.

Someone may argue: purple prose is stylist and literary writing. I won't argue that one. I believe writers have their own tastes and preferences. As a writer, I prefer simplistic and direct style and have been writing in such manner. Also, another sign of good writing is vigorous writing. Purple prose tends to lack the vigor. Agree? Or disagree?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Self-Editing III

While I'm self-editing my first novel The Jade Pendant Tale, I can't stop writing about self-editing. It's fun but also a lot of work. The important thing is to keep a pair of objective eyes. It's easier said than done. That's why we writers need professional editors to give our manuscripts a pair of fresh eyes.

The other day, I found a "new" way to self-edit my novel. I'll use the new-found skill and see how much it'll help me. Plenty, I believe. Since I'm still in the first phase of self-editing, I don't have to search for an editor now. When I'm close to finishing up all the necessary steps I can do for my novel, I will definitely look for a free-lance editor. A good one. One with a track record.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Self-Editing II

Self-editing takes a lot of work but is also a lot of fun. Like I said last time, I'd focus on one thing at a time. My first step is to tighten up the plot. So far, I haven't cut much but have re-arranged the happenings in the story to make it tighter. Chapter by chapter, not even halfway through, I'm making satisfactory progress.

To cut the fat is one of the self-editing steps, but I'm not there yet. It's interesting that "lean" is also the word for writing. In our meals, we watch out for the saturation fat, and in our writing we do the same. Happily, I haven't come across this kind of bad stuff in all the chapters I've revised. Maybe because when I write, I keep in mind: "Keep it lean and thin like myself." For some people, I'm bony. So, if my writing gets too lean, I can add some meat to it, but no fat.

While talking about self-editing, a book comes to mind. Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words by Bruce Ross-Larson. I'll refer to it when I clean up the words and sentence structure. It'll be a while before I take that step.