About Robin Minnick

freelance writer and novelist writing in North Carolina, having lived in Nashville, the Capitol region, and New York/New England

Not-so-Easy Does It

We all need encouragement and inspiration to write a story, but that kind of support is easy. We tell you how you have so much to say and you’ll say it so well.  We remind you that you have a unique voice, and that we can’t wait to read your work. Then we ship you off to your study or desk with everything from a plate of beans and coffee to filet mignon and a glass of wine and wait for your golden manuscript to appear. 

Okay, who said, ‘Yeah, right’?

All right, I get it. Writing isn’t that easy; neither is helping someone write. But it can be easier than the next step. Revision.

I enjoy a number of creative pursuits besides writing. One is house renovation. Ask anyone; I’d rather build a new bathroom than clean one.

BR1rough

 

Recently I heard Canadian Contractor turned YouTuber  Jeff Thorman  (Home RenoVision DIY),  remark that “Anytime we’re doing dry wall mud or any other kind of finishing, we start from rough and push toward finished.”

 

BR2partial

 

 

 

 

The concept applies to a lot of creative endeavors besides building.

 

logoFRS010115  Painting

logoFRS010115  Sculpting

logoFRS010115   Dance – even choreography starts with rough blocking of movement before it finalizes into polished dance steps and poses.

 

How often do we tell writers: Just get the first draft done; get the main story down in print. Then you can go back and rework it.

Rework it. Revise. Revision is, according to some 90% of writing. What does the process look like? Many writers work in steps.

  1. Revision 1 may be to remove all the over-used words. We each have our ‘favorites’, our personal crutches that we put in when we think there is a blank space that needs filling, eg, just, very, that. So the first pass may be to remove those unnecessary placeholders from our manuscript.
  1. The next one may be to clarify passages, put more imagery into description, add more authenticity to dialogue, more substance to characters.
  1. Revision No. 3 may be to remove the new set of over-used words. You can throw in eliminating the overworked phrases for good measure.
  1. An entire new pass to straighten out the plot tangles resulting from added material in Revision 2

And so on.

First draft, second draft, …, thirtieth draft. However many it takes to reach the point where you put down your pen and decide it is really… 

BR3nearly done

 

 

 

REALLY…

 

 

 

BR4done

…Done.

 

The list here doesn’t encompass the question of how to fix things. My next few blog posts will deal in greater detail with the agony of revision, an agony only outweighed by its value.

 


“Anytime we’re doing dry wall mud or any other kind of finishing, we start from rough and push toward finished.”

Jeff thorman Home RenoVision DIY

 

TIP ~ INKAS ~ #3

Finally returning to our INKAS.  Poetry is  the next form of writing I want to discuss.

PoetryINKA

Working with multiple age levels in poetry can be tricky, something I learned early on in the years I coached Writer’s Club. Levels of understanding vary as much as levels of ability. On the other hand, nothing is more refreshing than to hear the original thinking that goes on in a new poet, especially when they are young. And, there is a form of poetry for everyone.

Poetry expresses our innermost thoughts and feelings. Poems can be funny — think Dr. Seuss — or sad. A poem can tell a story, as in a ballad, or it can describe a single internal moment in a person’s soul. Poetry is recited for entertainment and for learning. It can brighten our memories with a description of a grand day at the beach or touch our hearts with tender lines of love. Poetry connects the mind with the heart and the soul.

You will find that there are all kinds of poetry. There are poems that rhyme every other line, and there are poems that rhyme no words at all. There are poems only two lines long – couplets, and there are poems over 70 lines long: ballads.

Rhyming patterns – referred to as schemes – are described by assigning rhyming words the same letter. So, a limerick, where the 1st, 2nd, and 5th lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme would be described as having a rhyme scheme of ‘aabba’.


APoemSometimes new poets like the idea of writing poetry because it is short – but that is an illusion. It takes thought to put expression into a few words or phrases. A good poem can take as long to write as a long story. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write a poem quickly, especially if you are excited about it.

One thing that young poets don’t always seem to know is how to present a poem visually.

Poetry is usually not written in complete sentences but in phrases.  It is not shaped like a paragraph but takes shape on a screen or paper in such a way that the reader knows went to stop and start and what the rhythm of the poem is. The look of the poem adds to the pleasure and meaning of the poem.

I find it easier to write a poem completely, then look it over and adjust the punctuation, the capitalization, and the lines so that it reads the way I want it to.


I said earlier that there is a form of poetry for everyone. Below is a  not all-encompassing of some of the different forms of poetry. Some you will recognize; some you won’t. You can read more about poetry forms and how to write it, including such details as meter and stanza, imagery and onomatopoeia, at Poetry 101: Learn about Poetry (where you can also find a link to details on US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’s MasterClass).  I’m not posting this info as a promotion, it’s just a fact that you will find the link there.

Poetryforms

We write for many reasons, and we choose the form our writing takes based on those reasons. For expressing emotion, discerning truth, and unlocking secrets of the universe, there is nothing so useful as poetry. Happy writing!

‘ta

Another Group Effort

When our writing group, Off the Page, set up for its first year in existence, we chose to celebrate by creating an anthology. A few writers got together and created a world, then we all wrote our own short stories set in this world, using some core characters and a common premise. We added characters and plots of our choosing. Some of our meetings were dedicated to review the stories in progress so that we could coordinate characters’ traits and plot-lines to make a seamless book. That book, The Mayor’s Tales: Stories from the Kyleighburn archives, was a rounding success for our little group. [find The Mayor’s Tales here]

The following year we laid plans for a new anthology, but we chose not to set it in a common world. Instead we selected a theme and each wrote our own story for based on that theme. Illness, politics, the PANDEMIC, and overall busy-ness delayed us, but this past December we finally were able to present our book to the world. The book is titled  Passages.


[from the back cover]

When one door closes, another one opens…

The seven authors of Passages take the familiar phrase into new territory with tales of revenge, time travel, tragedy, betrayal, new beginnings and misunderstandings. Some characters get stuck outside their closed doors, unable to move on to the next opportunity, while others triumph over their obstacles and move on to happiness.

The members of Off The Page Writers’ Group weave the open/closed concept into stories of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and comedy. We find out how far a scorned woman will go, what happens to a selfish man, how punishment shapes a child, what it’s like to live for hundreds of years, how paint shows a woman’s growth, why meddling in others’ lives is sometimes a good thing, and why you should always appreciate help from others.

Not all the characters of the stories in Passages benefit from their journey between doors, but these seven stories help illuminate the central concept.

You’re invited. Just open the door …

Passages, the second anthology by members of Off the Page, is available at Amazon in various formats. You can find it here .


‘ta