Concrete Detail

Write like a reader, read like a writer and edit like a beast!

Consistency


In August of last year, I made a decision to lose weight.  I was persistent in my pursuit.  I watched every calorie that went into my body.  I weighed out and measured food.  I went to the gym and lost about 50lbs.  I met a goal. Then the hard part, keeping it off. A few months ago, I noticed something wasn’t right with me.  I was taking naps in the middle of the day and even with those naps, I was exhausted.  To keep the post to a reasonable word count and reader’s engaged, I ended up at a cardiologist.  Failed several kinds of stress test. During this time I was struggling to keep my trips to the gym consistent.  I mean it’s easy to give up that especially when you have a good reason.  Here is the thing.  reasons for not doing something are excuses.

I told you I have struggled with my writing.  It may be fear.  Yeah, it’s fear. I’m not fooling anyone, but I can use my reasons for not writing outweigh my need to maintain consistent writing.  How will I ever move past this fear if I stop and give into it?  Sometimes, when I go to church I am sure God is speaking directly to me.  Last Sunday, our pastor named his sermon: Quitters Lose Their Hope.

WHACK!  The bump on my head stung a little, but I knew this message was going to hit hard.  I kept some notes and I want to share something he said about being inconsistent:

“Now we have thought up a lot of terms to describe inconsistency: tired, too old, sick, too busy and a dozen or so more.  We actually do not think of them as excuses for inconsistency–we think they are truly REASONS!!! In fact, most people seem to get a little angry when you question their “VERY VALID REASON FOR BEING INCONSISTENT!…” – Dr. Thomas Haney, Founding Pastor

I started to think about how easy it is to be inconsistent. I am so guilty of all those reasons and yeah even a little bent when others don’t accept them as valid.  He went on to talk about the power of little things. You know like, writing every day, reading and learning how to be a better writer, working on your story structure, etc. You get the idea.  How the small things we do are so important to our being consistent.

“Don’t ignore the power of little things.  No one says, “WOW, listen to that turkey sing” [ an inconsistent gobble, gobble]; or “Let’s go down to the ostrich farm for some beautiful music.” [they give loud honks that are given in fear, or warning] We certainly don’t say, “Oh, look at that beautiful eagle soaring above us, I hope he burst into song.” [we expect his majestic cry it’s big it’s powerful – also not something we hear every time an eagle flies.]  We do, however, from time to time while sitting outside take note of the consistent melodic sounds of the mockingbirds, larks, wrens, and finches.  Even the coo of a dove is a soothing and pleasant song.  Little things–done well are often like those little birds – they bring out the sweetest of blessings in our lives. ” — Dr. Thomas Haney, Founding Pastor

What I got from that, is even in the times when we soar like an eagle the world doesn’t see the little chirps we consistently had to endure to be able to soar.

I questioned, how does this apply to me, as a writer? Like all things, On the days that motivation is low, or I feel fear, or overwhelmed.  I can always chirp.  A character development, a few sentences on the page is better than nothing. I heard Jerry Jenkins, author say once, “You can’t edit a blank page.”

Be consistent if you want to make that goal stick friends.  The little things matter.  Every day you put work into your WiP you are being consistent and can call yourself a writer.  It doesn’t matter if your book isn’t published, yet!  You have to be consistent in your persistence.

I hope you are encouraged today my friends, write those words.  Keep the pen on the page consistently.

Advertisements

images (2)I have a confession.  I have almost made it to the ending of my book and my life got super crazy and I used it all as an excuse to not write.  I have surfed the internet, watched television and read a lot of books all the time ignoring the thing that I claim to have such a passion for, writing.  I realized for the first time since dedicating myself to this life of a writer, that I missed a day posting to my blog.  It was at about 9:00pm on Friday night that I sat up in my chair and said to my husband “I didn’t post to my blog today.”  I had a sudden sadness overtake me.  I realized that I let myself down.  My writing is vital to me, but I lost my motivation for a little while.

The good news is the weather had a funny turn here in the Valley of the Sun.  The clouds moved in and believe it or not we didn’t even break 90 degrees today. Note, it is the middle of June, our usual temps are hovering in the 107s.  Funny thing about cloudy days, they are my jam for writing. I wrote today.  I was excited again.  The thing is this, writers lose motivation from time to time.  The important thing is we need to get back on track.  I am back on track.  I hope to share some ideas for motivating yourselves when you find yourself struggling to get pen to page.  Today, I am thankful that I was able to get back on the horse so to speak.

Hang in there everyone, keep writing.

Writing-Prompts-1The next few weeks are to put it mildly, crazy for me. By mildly I mean totally nuts and not mild at all.  With work, writing deadlines, VBS, getting ready to go on vacation and additional travel, I am overwhelmed.  Writing is vital to my being.  I sometimes have thoughts or observations that demand I write them.

I wrote a piece while driving down the road in my head the other day.  The idea of skin hovered over my consciousness, I thought maybe we are wrong.  All of us.  Maybe we think things and just don’t know the truth about skin.  I had to pull over and put pen to page because it needed to get it out.  I decided to make it a writing prompt for my blog.   I hope you will also look at this as an EIO (exercise in observation)  as it really is a bit of both.

 

SKIN

What is wrong with her skin?

I am told it holds a mind that is closed,

and claims to be blind.

What is wrong with her skin?

It lacks warmth.

I am told she will  hold you in an embrace, but a

knife is poised to strike

What is wrong with her skin?

It doesn’t match mine.

What is wrong with her skin?

Does it define her thoughts of others?

What attitude leaks from her pores?

What’s wrong with her skin?

It didn’t fit what I thought it should

It held kindness, thoughtfulness

More warmth than I could see

No, it didn’t judge, it was simply different than me

She surprised me.

What is wrong with her skin?

No, it wasn’t like mine

Yet, inside it was just like me.

images (1)


Many years ago on a car trip, I checked out a book on tape from the library called Conspiracy in Death, by JD Robb.  I loved the story and characters.  Upon my return home, I discovered that romance novelist Nora Roberts was in fact, J.D. Robb.

I fell in love with the In Death series.  I kept reading them and while the stories are similar (duh- it’s a murder series), each book was just as good as the last.  When I began writing seriously, I decided to study the masters.  As a lover of the J.D. Robb books, I decided to start from page one, book one.  I am currently on book 7.5. I only discovered that Robb penned several .5 novellas and am so glad I have they are great.  While reading the books this time I am more critical in my reading.  I am looking for what makes this series so wildly successful. (There are over 45 books in this series at the time of this post).

I have had several ask me why I am re-reading all these books?  I am doing this to better my writing. The truth is no matter how many books you have published or not published, you can always learn from others.  I believe this and so I am choosing to study the masters.

May I suggest you find an author that you love reading and dig into their writing, not to copy it but to learn from it.  Look at the aspects of those character’s you love and how the author developed them.  Try and pay attention and take notes.  Here are a few things I look for as I am re-reading through the In Death books by J.D. Robb:

  1. How does this character change over the book?  Include physical and mental characteristics. (Eve, Roake, Peabody, McNabb, Feeney etc)
  2. Look for word pictures, what did the author do to make those words resonate with you?
  3. Pay attention to how must information is shared in descriptions. You may be surprised to discover that the author allowed you to fill in many of the gaps.
  4. Watch the dialogue.  How much or little does your main character say or not say?
  5. How does the author use sentence length and dialogue to keep pace?
  6. Watch sub-plots, how much time does the author spend on them?  Sometimes they can overtake the plot, especially with the romance aspect when it is a sub-plot.
  7. Look at speech tags.  When and how are they used?

Most importantly, take time to look for themes and motifs.  Write an analysis of each book you have read, think about how it works and why YOU were drawn to it.

Interestingly, I never considered myself a romance reader, but knowing I loved J.D. Robb books so much I started looking into Nora Roberts other writing and have found I am also a fan of her “romance” books.  She is really an incredible author.  I have learned a great deal studying this master of the written word.

Mood-of-PurpleViolet or as we more commonly call it purple is not common in nature and this brings a special meaning to the color.  It is considered delicate and precious most often seen in flowers.  The shortest wavelength is violet.  The richness of this color was coveted and once wore only be the rich.  In the Bible, a woman named Lydia is said to be very influential and is a dealer of purple garments. This is a color that carries both cool and warm undertones and thus can be flexible in the feelings it evokes.

Psychology says:

Violet in an introverted color.  It encourages deep contemplation, meditation, and even spirituality.  Individuals drawn to purple are usually found to have an artistic quality and think outside of the box.  They at times may come across as arrogant but it is because of the creativity they are harboring.  It evokes a sense of artistry and calm. Too much purple can bring a sense of impatience, arrogance, and annoyance. not enough when used can give a feeling of weakness, being out of control of a situation, negativity even apathy.

Using Violet as a Writer:

  • Using violet  will immediately add luxury to a scene
  • Using violet in lighter tones (lavender) is often associated with feminine grace and elegance.
  • To demonstrate wealth
  • It can also be a mysterious color and bring a sense of intrigue to a scene.
  • Use darker shades of violet to add a sense of doom or sadness
  • Royalty is associated with brighter violets
  • A purple haze may be used to convey confusion, especially when describing a drug-induced individual.
  • Great honor is bestowed in the US on military personnel that earns a purple heart (wounded soldiers receive this metal).
  • Purple is used in mourning in some countries, (see below)  it could be interesting to add this element to a story or poem

 

When to dress your character in violet:

  • When they are needing to appear confident among peers
  • Meetings when they are looking to take control
  • when they feel worthy (it is a very luxurious color)

Other names for Violet:

Purple, mauve, grape, lavender, plum, lilac, thistle, periwinkle, sangria, eggplant, iris, heather, amethyst, puce, raisin, orchid, mulberry, wine, magenta (this is debatable as it appears more in the pinks than purples alas, I would be remiss to not include it.)

 

Emotions Associated with Violet:

Positive:  Royalty, vision, truth, spirituality, luxury, authenticity, creativity individuality, quality, vision, truthfulness, spiritual awareness/growth

Negative: inhibition, physical weakness, emasculation, moodiness, introversion, suppression, inferiority

 

Cultural information:

Purple is often associated with royalty, wealth, spirituality, and nobility around the world.  As previously mentioned, it is a color of honor in the US Military.   In Brazil and Thailand violet is the color of mourning.  In Buddhism, only monks that were high ranking wore purple robes.

Gems/Stones  meaning:

Bring gems to your characters in Violet when writing spiritual conflict or obstacles to be removed.  They are used for calming heated situations as well as bringing energy to gain knowledge.  Royal and often considered precious.

 

We have reached the end of the rainbow and I hope you feel like you found a little gold in these thoughts on color in writing.

Mood-of-BlueBlue is a color that has a calming effect and affects people mentally versus the physical reaction that people have to red or orange.  It is a color that most people cite as their favorite color. Blue also has a darker side, it gives off feelings of loneliness, unfriendliness and be seen as unemotional.  It represents large expansiveness as well.  It can even slow human metabolism.

 

Psychology says:

People that choose blue as a favorite color are reliable, sensitive and usually make an effort to think of others.  Blue lovers also often like things to be clean and tidy and feel that stability is a very important aspect of their life. Strong blues stimulate clarity.  Softer blues with encourage concentration and allow the mind to rest.

 

Using Blue as a Writer:

  • Blue in setting can be very calming.  Great when trying to slow the tension in your story
  • When your character is feeling reflective
  • Blue is associated with authority. A writer can use blue in descriptions of clothing to show which characters are in charge
  • Blue is also associated with intellectualism.  Using a sense of blue in a character setting can allow your reader to draw the conclusion that your character is wise.
  • Using blue when describing rituals or warding off of spirits
  • Blue can be used in wedding traditions
  • When a character is feeling confident
  • Uses blue to dampen spirits and to give a sad motif to your writing

Dress your Character in Blue When:

  • Your character needs to display a sense of calm
  • When your character is seeking to communicate (Think a cop questioning a perp)
  • When they are comfortable
  • To set a mood of security
  • To underscore a sense of dependability

Other Names for Blue:

slate, cobalt, teal, ocean, Aegean, berry, spruce indigo sky, navy, midnight, peacock, denim, admiral, sapphire, artic, azure, cerulean, Lapis, Azul, Prussian, royal, Oxford, cornflower, Carolina, baby blue, Tiffany Blue, steel, stone, pigeon, slate

Emotions of Blue

Positive: Intelligence, honesty, trust, serenity, authority, efficiency, duty, coolness, reflection, safety, confidence, calmness, dependable, importance

Negative: Coldness, a sense of aloofness, a lack of emotion, unfriendliness, depression, sadness, laziness, melancholy, self-centeredness, self-righteousness

Cultural Notes:

Blue is considered the safest color choice around the world,  it has many positive associations. In North America and Europe blue represents trust, security, and authority.  Blue is soothing and peaceful. It can also represent depression, loneliness, and sadness (hence a common saying when feeling down, “having the blues”). The color blue often has strong religious significance for peace, and in many cultures, it is believed to ward off evil spirits.  In Iran, blue is used when mourning but in the West, it is often used in weddings and may represent love.  (Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.)

Gems/Stones:

Stones that are blue often are associated with calming or relaxation.  They can be used in chaotic situations to bring order and allow communication.  Blue stones often inspire and give courage to those that possess it.

Mood-of-Green

Today we have come to the fourth color in the rainbow.  Green.  What a fantastic color.  The most versatile color on the color wheel, as it holds true properties of both warm and cool colors.   Green wavelengths hit the eye in a manner that it requires little to no adjustment. This quality that makes it a very “restful” color.

Psychology says:

People that are drawn to the color green are loyal, frank, and aware of what others think of them.  They also take their reputations very seriously and it is usually important to them. Green takes up more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye and it is the dominant color in natural settings.  In large amounts, it can cause people to become lazy or passive because of its abundance.  Green can create a sense of security and stability.

Using Green as a Writer:

  • The color green can be used to create a sense of security as it implies a substantial amount of water and thus potential to meet the basic human need of food and water.
  • The negative associations with green can be used to manipulate a stories subplots.  This is especially true when dealing with money, business, and ambition.
  • Writers can use green in setting to create harmony or a sense of calm.
  • It is also a color that is used in the celebration (especially Christmas) and can bring a festive feeling to your writing
  • Green is a desirable eye color and can be used to create desirable characteristics in romance novels.
  • Green also helps to enhance vision.
  • Using green to create a sense of safety.  Marketing to safe drugs and medical products, a writer can create a place to hide murder weapons in plain sight.
  • using green as motives are also helpful (Green-Eyed monster.)

Dress your character in Green when:

  • They need to appear harmonious
  • To show compassion
  • To indicate a generous nature
  • To weave envy into a character

Other Names for Green:

jade, apple, moss, emerald, seafoam, mint, pear, lime, olive, fern, sage, pine, mint, basil, pistachio, pickle, shamrock, clover, juniper, chartreuse, parakeet, seaweed, hunter, avocado, bright, grass, lawn, spring, honeydew, myrtle, jungle

Emotions Associated with Green:

Positive emotions –  refreshment, growth, hope, balance, reassurance. balance, rest, peace, harmony, healing,  environmental health and awareness, reassurance,  financial stability

Negative – boredom, blandness, stagnate, complacency, laziness, slow, lethargy, fear of rejection, greed, envy

Cultural

Green is very important in some cultures.  It is often associated with luck and leprechauns.  In Western culture it symbolism runs toward, luck, greed, and jealousy (think green-eyed monster)  In Mexico, it is a color of independence. Eastern cultures use green as a symbol of fertility, virility, and can mean infidelity.  In China, it is taboo for men to wear green hats as they signal that their wives are unfaithful.

Gems:

Writers may use gems that are green in color to promote hopefulness, renewal of life,  to promote change or growth, they can bring a feeling of balance and create increased feelings of optimism.

 

 

 

 

 

YMood-of-Yellowellow in the next color in our rainbow journey.  I am enjoying this little trip.  I hope you are as well.  Let’s get right to today’s color.  Yellow!  Even the name is fun!

The yellow wavelength is relatively long and stimulating. While orange is the strongest color on the color wheel, the color yellow is the strongest emotional color.   The right yellow can increase self-esteem and put us in a great mood. It also is a color that exudes confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a color scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety.

Psychology says:

Studies show that the meaning of the color yellow can be warmth, cheerfulness, increased mental activity, increased muscle energy.  Too much can cause anxiety to young babies because of over-stimulation.  There have been studies that have shown that small children and infants will cry more in rooms painted in yellow.  Other effects noted in overuse of yellow is increased criticism and higher demands.  On the other end of the spectrum, a lack of yellow can cause rigid, cunning, possessive, or defensive behaviors. It can help activate memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system.  Yellow can be optimistic, creative, awake, happy.  People that choose yellow as a favorite color, enjoy sharing knowledge with others, and find happiness easily.

Using Yellow as a writer:

  • Using yellow to describe happiness is common among writers. By using bright yellow words you can bring a sense of happiness to your reader.
  • Using yellow as a way to show demanding/critical behaviors.  A professor that highlights students work then writes critical comments.  Pointing out errors.
  • Other ways a writer can use yellow descriptions is to build tension and energy.
  • Remember too much yellow can cause anxiety.  Setting colors with lots of yellow hues described can cause your reader to feel the anxiety.
  • Remember there are some phrases that include yellow:  Yellow-bellied (coward), yellow journalist (bad reporting) yellow ribbons can show courage.
  • For fantasy writers, yellow gems boost concentration, offer energy boost and relief from panic, nervousness, and exhaustion.  It can also represent clarity.

Dress your characters in Yellow when:

  • To be confident
  • Fearless
  • Inspirational

Other names for the color Yellow:

Canary, corn, flaxen, banana, butterscotch, dijon, fire, mustard, daffodil, gold, bumblebee, blonde, pineapple, honey, lemon, butter, medallion, dandelion, Tuscan sun, sun, saffron, and cream

Emotions Associated with Yellow:

Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity, success, excellence, enlightenment, authority, confidence.
Negative: Irrationality, fear, unstable, emotional fragility, irrational, depression, anxiety, suicide cowardice.

Cultural:

Yellow means different things in other cultures, in Japan it represents courage. In Egypt yellow is worn and is a symbol of death. In  India, yellow is a merchants color.  Other cultures it may indicate peace.

Mood-of-Orange…that you’re a writer?  You should be.  One thing about writers is they are always learning.  You have no choice.  When you writer you’re always researching cool new things.  I hope that you enjoyed yesterday’s post on the color red.

Today we are looking at my favorite color.  I love the color orange.  Interestingly, the color orange is the most powerful color on the color wheel.  It demands attention.  For this reason, it is used for safety vest and cones and ways to get the attention of anyone that sees it.  Imagin what that means for writing.  When you use descriptions of the color orange it will pull forward in the mind of the reader.

Orange is a blend of red and yellow, so the power comes from the energy of red and the happiness of yellow (more on that tomorrow)

Psychology says:

Orange is energetic and inviting and will stimulate emotions.  The meaning  and associations of oranges could include: Joy, caution, heat, creativity, encouragement, change, freedom of sexuality happiness, fun, hospitality, enjoyment, friendliness, rejuvenating, uplifting,  balance, warmth, food, belonging, home, security, abundance and enthusiasm

 

Using Orange as a writer:

  • Some ways to use orange are in descriptions of caution.  Including using different shades with brighter colors being used to show extreme caution.  Example:  Flares were burning on the side of the road but the bright orange vest cast aside was bloodstained.
  • In poetry, you can weave warmth into your prose simply describing the sun glowing in a soft orange.
  • For fun, I can’t think of anything better than using children and carving pumpkins.  Example: When Gracie ran into the house, her mother pulled off her shirt then sniffed at the smear of orange. “Did you have fun carving the pumpkin with Daddy?” she asked.
  • Orange can be difficult to weave into your words because often the color describes an object – even the word “orange” is also a fruit!

Dress your characters in orange when:

  • You want them to be brave
  • Spontaneous
  • Outgoing
  • Creative

Other names for the color orange:

Tiger, Honey, carrot, squash, spice, sandstone, rust, fire, marigold, tangerine, marmalade, amber, yam, apricot, clay, ginger, cider, cantaloupe, (see I told you lots of oranges are named after foods or objects)

Emotions Associated with Orange:

Different shades of Orange are important in the meaning.  Red-Oranges will relate to pleasure, desire, domination.  Golden oranges are more associated with wisdom, wealth, quality and prestige. Dark oranges are associated with distrust.  Light oranges are more soothing and friendly

Physical Associations – Comfort – food, warmth, shelter, sensuality. It is also a ‘fun’ color.

Negatively Associations –  When warm oranges are used with black the resulting reaction to the color may be one of deprivation.  Other Negative reactions may include frustration, frivolity, immaturity.

NOTE: This information is being adapted from visual arts.