Category Archives: Writing

Writing Tips From a Master

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Wow, just, wow.

When Joyce and Janet, the leaders of my writing group, said with hushed voices and dreamy expressions, “If you can ever take a class of Dr. Dennis Hensley’s, do it,” I thought, Ok, sure.  I’ll keep that in mind.  Maybe.

Um, yeah.  As usual, they were right.

In March, I was privileged to take a writing intensive class with Dr. Hensley and Holly Miller, faculty of the Midwest Writers’ Workshop.  They edited and critiqued the first ten pages of my manuscript, as well as a synopsis and personal bio.  Invaluable information, I’m telling you.

But recently, I took one of the most amazing classes I have taken in my life.

Of course I have to share what I learned.

Dr. Hensley taught a one-day writing seminar through Taylor University.  The focus was Taylor’s Professional Writing degree.  (online.taylor.edu)  I had looked into Creative Writing degrees but not professional, and I wanted to know the difference, and which was better.

The answer?  Professional writing teaches the ins and outs of the industry and makes sure you are well-versed in the many different kinds of writing, whereas creative writing tends to focus on crafting words and manipulating language only.

Dr. Hensley stressed the importance of intimately knowing the industry that writers want so badly to be a part of.

Taylor offers an Associate’s degree online, and a Bachelor’s through their campus in Fort Wayne.

Oh, how I want to go back to school so badly!  Especially now that I finally know what I want to do when I grow up.  :)

The more Dr. Hensley taught, the more I did not want to leave.

He kept the entire class enthralled, on the edge of their seats, just waiting to hear what he would say next.  I am in awe of the number of things he can quote from memory.

He also shared 18 steps to becoming a successful writer, and I want to share them with you.

  1. Prefer plain words to fancy words.
  2. Prefer familiar words to unfamiliar.
  3. Use picture nouns and action verbs.  Not more words, better words.
  4. Avoid clichés, or worn-out expressions you have heard over and over again.
  5. Never use long words when a short word will suffice.
  6. Master the simple, declarative sentence.
  7. Vary the lengths of your sentences.
  8. Keep paragraphs short.
  9. Put key words you want emphasized at the beginning or end of your sentence.
  10. Use active rather than passive voice.
  11. Cut needless words, sentences, and paragraphs.
  12. Write like you talk.
  13. Avoid imitation.  No one wants to read your bad reproduction of Harry Potter.  (Bwahahahaha!!!)
  14. Think clearly and you will write clearly.
  15. Avoid gobbledygook, shop talk, and jargon.  Speak plainly and clearly.
  16. Write to be understood, not to impress.
  17. Beware of the temptation to overuse any one point of punctuation.  (This clearly does not apply to me!!!)  :)
  18. Revise with time.  Leave it alone for a while, then edit.

These are from my notes, and I apologize if I messed up anything he was trying to say!

He shared many other incredible writing tips, and if you would like to read more, please go to his website.  (www.dochensley.com)

I have just one, teeny, tiny, small bit of advice for you.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear Dr. Hensley speak, DO IT.

As in, buy a plane ticket if necessary.

He’s that good.

Write away, dear friends!  :)

In Him,

Michele

Wisdom and Folly. Chapter One.

Whew!  I made it!  I barely got the first chapter posted before midnight!  :)

Wisdom and Folly, Chapter One, officially has its own page as of 5/15/14, and I am so excited I could just explode all over the place!

But I won’t.  Cause that’d be gross.

It is just so exciting and nerve-wracking and exhilarating and scary and wonderful to post your own work for others to read for the first time.

If you like it, let me know!  If you don’t, well, I’d like to say, “Don’t you DARE tell me!!!” but that wouldn’t be any good, would it?

So, yeah, if you don’t like it, I want to know why.  Be kind, and nice, and think of me with a tissue in hand.

Have a marvelous day!

Praying harder than I ever have in my life,

Michele

What is my book about? Well, let me tell you :)

Here is a brief summary of my book.  :)

This is taken from thousands upon thousands of query letter drafts.  Sigh.  Queries are challenging.  Understatement of the year.

 

I, Candace Marshall, detest, abhor, loathe–you get the idea–scary movies, especially if they include zombies.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when my boyfriend surprised me with advanced screening tickets to the latest horror zombie flick, teeming with the movie industry’s hottest interactive features.

I was not the only one to walk out of the theater that day.  Gavin Bailey–only the world’s greatest actor (in my opinion), present as a favor to a filmmaking friend–followed me, although I’m certain we had completely different reasons for leaving.  Zombies jumping out at me as part of the “zombie movie experience” was not my idea of a good time.  But I think we can both agree that we were thankful we left.

An experimental drug, created to enhance the viewer’s perspective of the film, turned my sleepy town into a slathering mess of real, honest-to-goodness, live–er, I mean, dead–zombies.

Days turned into weeks, and I had to face my biggest fear, over and over again.  As in, face-to-face.  Not fun.

We teamed up with a small group of survivors and traveled in search of answers and, ultimately, a cure.

Gavin Bailey’s presence of mind and sacrificial actions quite nearly swept me off my feet, until he showed me he returned my secret feelings.  Then he definitely swept me off my feet.

This is my story–how I got the biggest surprise of my life, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse than zombies.

 

Ta-dah!  There you have it, folks!  I know I can’t do a query in first person, like the book is written, but, hey, this is my blog, and I can do what I want!  lol.

Happy reading!  (In whatever book you are reading, if you are reading a book, that is…shout-out to Brian Regan.  Take luck!)

In Him,

Michele

I did it! I submitted my manuscript!

My eyes are burning, I can barely see the computer screen through my squinty eyes, and I can’t believe how late it is.

But it doesn’t matter.

I did it.

I submitted my manuscript to Writer’s Edge.

Big Christian publishers, such as Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, Revell, and Tyndale, only accept manuscripts through agents.  Something I don’t have.  Yet.  But Writer’s Edge submits your work directly to those publishers and many more.  So now I’m waiting for the stampede to begin.  :)

If I get approved, that it.

I appreciate your prayers and emotional support!  This is where the sweat comes in, while I’m waiting on the tears or happy dance options.

I think the kids might very well be watching a movie tomorrow so I can rest.

If I ever get off this high cloud I’m on.  :)

Ahhhhhhhhhh!

Michele

My first blog post ever

Wow am I excited!  I’ve been scribbling away for years now, and I am finally ready to pursue publishing.  What have I written?  A Christian Zombie book.  Yep, you heard me correctly.

Christian.  Zombie.  Book.

Those of you who know me are probably laughing your heads off right about now.  Why?

Because I hate zombies.

Or anything scary.

The movie, Signs, with Mel Gibson, kept me awake for two weeks.  Two weeks.  My husband still makes fun of me since he says it wasn’t the least bit scary.  I beg to differ.

So, after a year of writing, rewriting, and editing, editing, editing, I asked my writers’ group to give it a once over, just in case I missed anything.  I knew I hadn’t; it was perfect, ingenious, divine–agents would be beating down my door to get their hands on this piece of perfection.  Ahem.  Apparently not the case.

I don’t know if you’ve written anything before, but the process is an exhilarating experience.  When I write, I float on a cloud of euphoria and marvel at the words streaming out of my fingertips into my keyboard.  God and I giggle a lot over what I’m writing.  Of course, He could be laughing at me…

Then I read it again and I’m like, “What the what?  Who wrote this crap?” and change everything a million times over again.

Then it is perfect.  (It really isn’t, but I think it is.) :)

I had spent one year on this puppy, and I knew, just knew, it was ready.  Sigh.  After my writers’ group made a million and one suggestions (I appreciate it SO much, guys, I do!) I revamped, rewrote, and re-edited.  NOW it is ready.  I think.

So this is my process.

I am going to submit it to The Writer’s Edge, a Christian publishing service who, after reviewing your work, will submit your book to a list of publishers you normally need an agent for.  The cost is 100 dollars. (www.writersedgeservice.com)

If that doesn’t work, I’m going to query a ton of agents.

If that doesn’t work, I’m going to beat down the doors (as in, electronically submit) to each and every publishing house I can find.

After that, self-publish on Createspace through Amazon.com.

Whew!  Even I’m tired after looking at that list!

But for now, I am getting ready for a writing class in Fort Wayne this Saturday.  And I’ll most likely be signing up for an editing class through Taylor University.

Ok, time for a nap.  Right after I complete that list.

Talk to you later! :)

Michele

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