Posted tagged ‘Fiction’

Top Ten Mistakes New Writers Make

November 18, 2014

I’ve worked with a lot of beginning writers and I find we all make the same mistakes. I’ve compiled what I consider to be the top 10 mistakes I’ve made and I’ve witnessed new writers doing. We can all break the rules and we should – once we know what they are. Take a look at my list below. Do you see yourself anywhere?

  1. Not using contractions – Do not, cannot, is not; don’t use these in your writing, especially not in dialogue. You don’t speak this way, so why would you write this way? Contractions make your writing sound stilted. You want your writing to sound as natural as possible.
  2. Beginning a sentence with “And” – And is a “joiner” is connects two things like “high-heeled shoes and short skirts” or “Godzilla and Tokyo.” It doesn’t belong at the start of your sentences.
  3. The compound verb is not your friend – Be careful of long verb phrases and long wordy phrases. Instead of “He was not able to find a way to go” say “He couldn’t go.” In general, less is always more when it comes to words. Find the shortest, most precise way to express what you mean.
  4. Pick a tense any tense – Then stick with it! Be sure if you are writing in the past tense to use that tense for the entire story. You can use present tense to tell a story if that is a conscious choice, and again, be faithful to it; have your characters speak in present tense for the whole telling of the story.
  5. Point of View (POV) – Be clear about it. If you’re in one character’s head, stay there for at least an entire scene. Be careful of head hopping (going from one character’s point of view to another) in the middle of a scene. This can be very confusing for your reader. You can switch from one character to another in different chapters or even in the same chapter if you leave a few lines of space between paragraphs.
  6. Use Short sentences – Whether you are describing the landscape or expressing the thoughts or actions of your characters, stick with short sentences. They’re easier for the reader to grasp. They’re also impactful.
  7. Showing vs. Telling – This is a big issue for most newbie writers. Instead of using an adjective like “afraid” to tell us how your character feels, try using body language: “Carol’s breathing was shallow. Her hands were sweating. She wondered if anyone could see her legs shaking as she stood at the microphone.” Body language is very important because it makes the event more palpable to the reader, they can feel this in their own body and it evokes emotion.
  8. A word about dialogue – OK, actually I have more than a word about dialogue because new writers have difficulty with it. The first thing to know is the ONLY word to use as a dialogue tag is “said.” This is because the reader’s eye glides right over it. You want to use body language to convey the emotion your character is feeling.
  9. Adverbs are strictly forbidden – Again, this relates to dialogue. Never use an adverb in a dialogue attribution i.e. “she said vehemently.” It’s the job of the author to create body language that shows what the character is feeling.
  10. Leaving out emotion – Emotion is the MOST difficult thing to get onto the page. Even humor is easier to capture. When your character is going through angst, your reader needs to feel it too. We can’t get to it if you are unwilling to feel it and get it on the page. Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen in the first draft. You may just get down the nuts and bolts of a scene in the first draft and go back for subsequent revisions to add body language, actions and dialogue that really convey the emotions of your characters and evokes them in your readers. When you get right down to it, this is what writing is all about – making your readers feel.

Try these suggestions and see if your writing feels cleaner and more honest. If you’d like to work with me on getting to the essence of your story, you can contact me at CorinneCasazza@gmail.com

Corinne L. Casazza is an international best-selling author based in Boston, Massachusetts. She’s currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s best-selling ebook: “Break These Chains of Love: A New Paradigm for Relationship” is available here: http://ow.ly/Brook

Check out Corinne’s Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/author/corinnecasazza

Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page includes tips for beginning writers.

For more information about Corinne including classes and speaking events, visit her Web site at CorinneCasazza.com

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I’ll Get You My Pretty OR Why Temporary Triumphs and Reversals are Critical to Story

June 27, 2014
Wicked Witch

I’ll Get You My Pretty

I am addicted to USA Network’s drama “Suits.” I’ve been mesmerized by the show and can’t stop watching. Why? Because there’s a constant back and forth of temporary triumphs and reversals. It’s like a ping pong game and I can’t look away. I can’t wait to see what happens next. How will the character get out of this jam? Will they?

A temporary triumph is just that — it looks like a character has won something. For instance, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and company score a temporary triumph when they reach Oz and ring the bell. They’ve finally made it to Oz – they’ve been journeying there for half the movie. Their success is short lived when they’re told to come back tomorrow – there’s the reversal.  Following that is another temporary triumph — they get in. But, then they’re told they need to return with the witches shoes – another reversal.

Most stories have one or two temporary triumphs and reversals, but the most successful have many more. These are very compelling to your reader – they are really pulling for the character, so much so that they can’t stop reading, which is exactly what you want. It also gives you as the author a chance to more deeply reveal the inner workings of the character – how resourceful are they? How honest? How devious?

After Dorothy and friends defeat the witch, marking the climax of the story, they return to the Wizard. He, an old carny man from Kansas, says he’ll take Dorothy home in his balloon – another temporary triumph. Drats, the balloon takes off without her – another reversal. Good witch Glenda shows up and tells Dorothy she had the power to get home all along. And she does. Finally. The turnabouts that happen even after the climax make the story compelling, and a classic.

In “Suits,” the lawyers are always trading insults, skirting the edge of the law, trying to convince a hostile witness to testify on their behalf, all this makes for very interesting storytelling. One minute they have a witness in custody – triumph. The next minute he escapes – reversal. They get the witness back – triumph. He’s shot and killed – reversal. And so on. Not every trial turns out the way we think it might and not all the wins are fulfilling, but this is also true in life.

Temporary triumphs and reversals are the stuff of true life. They give your characters depth and humanity – or not. The reader feels rewarded every time the character triumphs and roots them on whenever a reversal, particularly a stinging one from an arch rival, comes along.  So, pepper your stories with triumphs and reversals and keep your readers hooked!

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Corinne L. Casazza is a freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Visit Corinne’s Web site at CasazzaWriting.com

 

Cold as a Witch’s Teat: Six Keys to Surviving Winter in New England

February 12, 2014
Image

The author at Revere Beach after a winter storm.

Okay, I am a New Englander, a Bostonian born and bred, but let’s be clear: I have never liked the cold. And let’s face it, we have more snow than Sochi. One of the first things that strikes me about winter in New England is that no matter the temperature, people are drinking iced Dunkin Donuts coffee – yup, whether it’s -2 degrees or 22, people have their iced Dunkins. I recently walked into a nationwide discount store in my city. The temperature was 20 out and the store was sampling Italian ice! Really? As I passed by the stand, I told the woman, “No thanks, I’m cold enough.” Why would you sample an ice product when it’s below freezing out? Only in New England.

I spent six years wandering the desert of Arizona and now that I have a few New England winters under my belt again, I feel compelled to share my secrets for surviving the frozen tundra I call home.

  1. Dress in layers – I typically wear three layers and carry an extra pair of sox in my purse. No one needs to know you have on those one-piece footy pajamas (complete with rear escape hatch) under your clothes. Trust me, no one will notice. If you want to be sensual, try wearing natural silk long underwear. Be careful, the friction from these undies has been known to start fires…
  2. Have a sunny outlook – No matter how cold it gets, it’s always warm in your heart. Make an effort to see the beauty of the waning winter sun and the gray sky. If that doesn’t work, meditate – just be sure to do it under a blanket.
  3. Find a heat source – This could be a loved one, your dog or a heating element. Winter months in New England are a great time to cuddle up. I confess, for the last two months, I have been sitting with my feet up on the entertainment center that houses my TV and an electric fire place that throws heat. Wow, no wonder watching Justified is steamier than usual.
  4. Get away – New Englanders love to visit tropical locales in winter. And why not? Sticking your toes in the sand is a sure fire antidote for the winter blues. This winter I took off to Florida in December and San Diego in January. Don’t forget to post photos on Facebook so all your friends stuck at home in arctic temperatures can be really jealous!
  5. Take up a winter sport – My sport of choice is ice skating and I love to do it outside on a frozen pond. There’s nothing like kicking back with a hot chocolate after a few exhilarating spins around the ice. You can always skip the pond and just drink the hot chocolate. Peppermint Schnapps, anyone?
  6. See a Bruins game – To me, this is the best thing about winter in New England. There’s nothing like taking the T over to the Garden (pronounced Gahhhden for you out of towners) and watching a bunch of lit fans bust a move on the JumboTron in between goals from Lucic and Bergeron.

Remember, we’ll be turning the clocks ahead in a few short weeks. Spring is just around the corner and we’ll be in sweltering heat and humidity before you know it. God, I love New England! 

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Corinne L. Casazza is a freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Visit Corinne’s Web site at CasazzaWriting.com

Resistance and the Monk

May 11, 2010

I was in the midst of reviewing past relationships to see my old patterns and roles so I could release them. I had a lot of resistance to doing this. Okay, in reality, I wasn’t doing it. It was my intention to do it, but I kept thinking I didn’t want to face whatever was there. When I have internal work to do, it’s easy to put off. Sometimes even cleaning the bathroom looks good.

The doorbell rang. I was very surprised to see a young monk at my door. He was only about 30, tall and very beautiful. He had deep blue eyes and I could tell by his shaven head that his hair was black when it grew in.

He was very present and explained to me that he was indeed a traveling monk and he relied on the generosity of strangers to feed him. He asked me if I had any food to share.

I brought him out some bananas, avocados and kiwis. He gave me a blessing.

“Thanks, I can use that,” I said.

“That is the gift I have to give,” he said. “And this is a beautiful gift of food. Thank you.”

Later, when I told my house mates there was a monk at the door, they thought I was joking.

“Who has a monk show up at their door, ever?” they asked.

The more I thought about it, the more miraculous it seemed. The Universe had sent me a blessing a time when I was having tough resistance. I’m sure his blessing was the boost of light I needed to do my work and get some insight into relationship. After he left, I did just that. In my next post, I’ll talk about what I discovered.