From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day for Writers

Another holiday. If you're like me, that means you just woke up. We all probably have too many miscellaneous things on our to-do list that we're using this off-day to take care of for it to be completely relaxing, but at least there's no school or work.

So how can writers specifically use this day to our advantage? Here are three things I've thought of that writers can do on Memorial Day to make the most of it.

Networking. Find some local Memorial Day events and go. Meet new people. Rekindle some old extended family relationships, even with your crazy relatives. You never know when someone will end up being the connection of your creative writing lifetime.

Catch up on reading. We all have a mile-long to-read list, and use this off-day to catch up on it. Inside every good writer is an even better reader, and every book can teach/inspire/warn you in terms of your own writing. Take advantage of this no-work day and read.

Research for story ideas. Most of us have ancestors involved in the Civil or World Wars. Use the multitude of online genealogy resources to find out about your military ancestors. In doing that, you'll find characters and plots to inspire you and your writing. And you'll be doing family history at the same time, right?

Anway, I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day, and use it the best way you can.

Sarah Allen

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Writing Rule: Omit Needless Words

This classic writing rule from Strunk and White's 'Element's of Style' is one of the most useful of the many writing rules, and worth highlighting. So write this rule on a sticky note and stick it close to your computer: Omit Needless Words.

Keeping this rule in mind is often enough to improve your writing. If your sentences are convoluted or hard to follow, applying this rule will almost always fix the problem.

Here are some example phrases from the book:
The question as to whether/whether
He is a man who/he
Her story is a strange one/her story is strange
Owing to the fact that/because
Call your attention to the fact/remind you

I hope this rule helps, and makes your writing crisper, clearer, and more concise.

Having said all this, there are two more things I want to add. 1. I have probably broken this rule many times already in this blog, or even in this post. I'm still learning too. 2. As far as writing goes, rules are made to be broken. This is a good rule, but don't let it stand in the way of great writing.

Sarah Allen

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on the fantastic Lost finale and the wonderful Michael Emerson

Its about 24 hours since the epic 2 1/2 hour Lost finale began, and I've been thinking about it the whole time. My initial reaction was somewhere between, 'whoa, that was brilliant' and 'what the crap?' After talking to friends and reading interviews and reviews, I'm tending more and more towards the brilliant side.

So basically, the sideways existence was a kind of limbo existence between this life and the next. We see what happens to everyone in their real-life/island existence. We go from seeing Jack on the island, stumbling and dying, to him off the island, recognizing, remembering, rejoicing and meeting up with all these people who have played such a big part in his life. In this timeless, limbo existence, they have all met up to move on together.

All except for Benjamin Linus. Ben is still left in the ambiguous, gray area, which is an incredible move on the writers part. So why doesn't Ben move on with the others? There are two reasons that I like the best. One, he still feels unresolved about his life, and feels that there are things he needs to repent and atone for, in an almost Marley-esque way. The second reason, and the one that I like even better: He's waiting for Alex. And of course, every moment with Ben Linus was a moment of Michael Emerson genius.

I doubt any other TV show has ever been this successfully philosophical and spiritual. Not only that, but with the genius combination of good writing and Michael Emerson, the creators of Lost have created in Benjamin Linus one of the most complex, subtle, deep, genius anti-hero's of all time. If could create a character half as awesome as him, I could die a happy artist.

I am interested in your thoughts about the Lost finale. Ambiguous, yes, but in a good way? What did you think?

Sarah Allen

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Where can writers meet people?

First off, I apologize for the lack of postage lately. I am one of those firm believers of no excuse is a good excuse, but my excuse is that my computer is nonfunctional, and I haven't had consistent access to a computer for a while. Anyway, I hope to be getting my computer and this blog back to normal functionality very soon.

So where can writers meet people? Or maybe the first question should be, why should writers even care about meeting people? Aren't we the lone souls slaving away at the computers in our parents basements? I think for both career/marketing purposes as well as emotional/personal purposes, it is important for writers to maintain some sort of social life. This is another one of those posts where I am looking for answers myself, so any ideas would be great. Here is what I've come up with so far.

Writerly places: Book clubs, writing groups, the library, bookstore, author signings, writer conventions, creative writing classes, etc.

Extracurricular places: A big one for me in this category would be theater. Whatever you are interested in are besides writing, use it to meet people. Ideas: gardening stores, photography classes, knitting groups, car shops, wherever you like going.

Friend-of-a-friend places: Going to parties, bars, clubs, etc with friends is not really my cup-of-tea either, but don't be shy about hanging out with some friends friends. They usually won't bite. They may end up being cooler then the first friend, and maybe your friends old roommates great aunts first husband is an editor at Random House or The New Yorker. You never know.

What are your guys' ideas? I know clubs and classes and malls are more typical places to meet people, but if you're like me, you're too weird to meet people typically, and you usually don't find typical people interesting anyway. So where can ambitious, intelligent, slightly odd people like us (anyone reading this blog has to be slightly odd) meet people like us?

Sarah Allen
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