10 Questions on Becoming a Better Writer

RamonaGravitarThe first step in solving a problem is recognizing you have a problem. Writers are often big quaking masses of insecurity, but zeroing in on a weak skill can be that first step in enacting change.

Take the quiz below. Answer honestly.

  1. What one skill—if improved—would make you a better writer?

  1. Is it a technical weakness, a bad habit, or a confidence or work ethic problem?

  1. How does this weak skill impact your writing now?

  1. How would improving it make you a better writer?

  1. When or how did you discover you had this issue?

  1. What have you done so far to improve or address your weak skill?

  1. What have you not done so far to improve or address this weak area?

  1. Do you want to become a better writer?

  1. If no, why not?

  2. If yes, what can you begin to do TODAY to change this one particular weak skill?

 I can’t answer these questions for anyone other than myself, but I can make suggestions. Not all may be available or appropriate, but if you want to sharpen your skills and become a better writer, it requires footwork.

 To make a change toward become a better writer:

  1. Take the quiz above and answer honestly

  2. Set a specific goal of what you want to change or improve

  3. Buy/borrow reference books and self-study your area of weakness

  4. Search the Internet for other writers’ take on the subject

  5. Take an online course

  6. Enroll in a course at a community college, senior center, library, arts group

  7. Join a group—online or face to face—that will encourage and keep you honest

  8. Work every day in some small way on your weak skill

  9. Keep a journal—even a temporary one—of how you will address and conquer your weakness

  10. Don’t give up.

Good luck!

A Gallery of Writers’ Journals

RamonaGravitarYesterday, Literary Mama, an online magazine for the maternally inclined, published my guest post, “What in the world is a  sprint journal?” The post appeared as part of LM’s After Page One blog series.

After Page One posts are intended to motivate, encourage and inspire writers on their journeys as mothers who are also write. In addition to its articles and stories on motherhood, Literary Mama offers numerous craft pieces that would aid any writer.

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50 “How To” Writing Posts on Craft

RamonaGravitarIn May of 2012, I announced a blog project for the coming month: I would post a How To craft post every day for the month, Sundays excepted. My month of blogging resulted in 27 posts about writing log lines, avoiding typo blindness, breaking the that habit, curing overpopulation, introducing characters, writing thematic statements, and so on.

Eventually, I put together all of those posts in a How To collection, which can be found under the FOR WRITERS tab. I continued to write How To posts in a more sporadic fashion, when the need or an idea arose.

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17 Ways to Mess Up Your Murder Mystery

RamonaGravitarBeing an editor is a non-stop education. With every manuscript I read, I learn as much as I correct, suggest, or guide. After years of reading mysteries—from idea to first draft to revision to published book—I’ve learned to recognize flaws that can weaken an otherwise strong or promising draft.

A murder is an unnatural event. It throws chaos into a community. The point of solving a fictional murder is the same as a real one: to find justice for the victim, and return safety and order to the story world. If you treat your characters as you would real people in a real world murder situation, you may avoid some of these habitual boo-boos:

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How to Write a Protagonist of Interest

RamonaGravitarPerson of interest:  a person who is believed to be possibly involved in a crime but has not been charged or arrested – www.merriam-webster.com

 The above term has been used in law enforcement since 1937, according to Merriam-Webster. I don’t know what—or who—happened in 1937, but more recent examples of “person of interest” are Richard Jewell (innocent), Scott Peterson (not innocent), Andrew Cunanan (also not innocent), and  James Caviezel (fictional).

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How to Use a Sprint Journal

RamonaGravitarLike many writers, I keep a notebook called a book bible. The book bible for my current WIP, a novel written in the episodic style, is a beat-up, bright green notebook with fraying pages, a precarious spiral spine, and an array of Post-its in various shapes and colors poking from the edges.journals

A book bible is used to record ideas, changes, concepts, goals, for a work in progress. It’s a planning aid. This post, however, is not about book bibles; I am introducing the book bible idea to get it out of the way. What I want to discuss today is my Sprint Journal.

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