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

Get some direction for that there blog

As many of you know, this whole blogging thing is completely new to me.  So, yeah, my site needs direction.

What does a fiction writer blog about?

Fortunately for me (and all of you!) I’ve been studying up on this.  I’ve been reading the ebook How to Blog for Profit (Without Selling Your Soul) by Ruth Soukup and wow has it been helpful.

First of all, she says to blog consistently, whether that’s once a week, two times a week, or three times a week.

I’m going to try to blog on Sunday and/or Thursday evenings only, so I don’t flood your inbox or go missing for a couple of months.

Second–and this idea was from Joyce Long (www.JoyceLong.com) who taught the writer’s class at Karitos Indy–I’ll write a story and post it chapter by chapter on my blog.

What do you guys think?

I welcome any and all feedback, and I want you to be brutally honest with any story critiques.  It’s the only way I’ll learn and grow!

Can we make this blog something to be proud of?  :)

This baby’s about to take off and grow like crazy!

In Him,

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

How long do I have to wait again?

Four to six weeks.

I think I was too stoked when I hit “send” to let that little piece of information sink in.  Four to six weeks.  Sigh.  I suppose I can stop checking my inbox every four to six seconds.  :)

I have to admit, there is a fair level of anxiety that comes with giving your work to someone else to read, critique, and tell you if you are good enough.

Tonight, a friend reminded me of a quote I needed desperately to hear.

God’s Voice:

  • Stills you
  • Leads you
  • Reassures you
  • Enlightens you
  • Encourages you
  • Comforts you
  • Calms you
  • Convicts you

Satan’s Voice:

  • Rushes you
  • Pushes you
  • Frightens you
  • Confuses you
  • Discourages you
  • Worries you
  • Obsesses you
  • Condemns you

(I wish I could give credit, but I have no idea who originally wrote this.)

I need to remember Who I am doing this for anyway.  And wait on Him.

I still might be checking my inbox every four to six seconds…  :)

Can a person explode from excitement and nervousness?  Ahhhhh!

In Him,

Michele

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