WORDS – AND MORE WORDS:
The average person uses no more than about 1,500 words. An extraordinary low number when laid beside the millions of words that are available to express oneself in the English language. 1,500 words – come on!
But those who aspire to write MUST increase their choice of words far beyond that. Why? Because choosing the precise word for a particular situation is all important.
‘Incandescent rage’ carries a more weighty punch than ‘intense anger’. A preacher up on his clack-loft has a more interesting ring to it than a preacher up on his pulpit. An undertaker at his trade does not have the same grab of attention as the death hunter at his trade.
There are strange words that, on first appearance, seem of little potential usage to a writer. One of these might be poonac. This is the material left after oil is crushed from coco-nut pulp. Great – but how could a writer use such a word in ‘normal’ writing? Well, we might use it as follows – After his powerful argument we were left with nothing more but the damp poonac of our own ideas. I’m sure many of you can come up with far better usage of that word to carry a meaning that is an alternative to many tired and well-worn expressions. The point I am trying to make here is that ALL words have the potential to express ideas in refreshing ways. And the writer must suck up many of these if he/she is to become easy in the job of a wordsmith.
So how does one increase one’s bag of words? One thing that works for me is that I keep a notebook and write down unfamiliar words I come across. When you find a word unfamiliar to you go to the dictionary and find the meaning. But something else too – write down a sentence with the word included.
Have an ambition to write down, each week, no more than say five words with their meaning. That does not sound too much – and it isn’t. But during that week learn those words – AND USE THEM IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY CONVERSATIONS. Speaking them out like that will help you to lock them into your daily usage and, more importantly, make them available to you when you sit down to write.
A blacksmith has dozens of tools he can pick from to create what he intends. A writer MUST have thousands of words to hand if he/she is to pick the one that is most suitable to convey a particular meaning. This holds through whether you write in Italian or Portuguese, American-English or Japanese.
I hope that this might help a little those thinking of taking up writing.
Best regards. Patrick.
HOW TO FIND IDEAS FOR NOVELS?
I have been asked by many people where ideas come from that can be turned into a 300-400
If you have a problem it’s a good idea to start of with a ‘What If’. What if you walked into an apartment block and found that every person there was dead? Would that not make the beginning of a good story?
What if you entered your house to find a parcel sitting on a chair? You don’t know where it has come from – or more seriously – who delivered it! You examine it suspiciously; then open it carefully. What might be inside? (You now let your imagination run free to discover what you come up with.)
A mysterious and beautiful young woman comes into your village and buys the most expensive house in the entire place. Yet she seems very sad. After weeks of observing her you decide to approach her. Now what? (Sit down and start to write and see where your imagination takes you.)
This you tube interview might help here for further ideas:
HOW WRITERS GET IDEAS?
Writing can be very odd. You are having a cup of coffee or are half asleep in the sun – and an idea floats into your head: an idea that two years later is a finished novel. Where such ideas come from is a mystery. Mystery or not grab onto them with both hands.
One example that might make the point here.
I was driving on a winter’s night when both the heater and the radio mysteriously stopped working at the same time. With little to distract me my mind started to wander. What if the true Crown-of-Thorns was discovered? And what if a tiny piece of mummified skin was found on one of the thorns? These two thoughts stayed with me for many miles. Then a third thought – what if scientists attempted to clone from this piece of skin? On the basis of these three ideas the novel – The Extraordinary Temptation – came into existence.
Note, I had no ideas what characters might be involved or indeed where the location/locations for the story might be. I just had a fragment of an idea – and in time the rest would follow by writing and rewriting.
So, in one of your relaxed moods an idea can rise up and slap you on the face. If it does grab at it – AND WRITE IT DOWN BEFORE IT FRAGMENTS AND FALLS AWAY.
Hope that this helps some writers.
The last blog tried to offer suggestions on how to come up with ideas that could be expanded into a 300-400 page novel. Now we might look at – characters.
A novel might be seen as a fine boat cutting through water towards a distant destination. But it needs a crew to guide it. The crew members are the characters. You need to come up with characters that come ‘alive’ for the reader. Let readers love them, hate them, despise them: that is fine but never let your characters be dull.
There is a bit of debate about POV (Point of View). The argument runs that the story should be told from the position of one character, normally the main character. I, in general, subscribe to this but not to the point that we should stick rigidly to this as though it an unbreakable rule. Occasionally the POV can be transmitted through others. But what should not happen, and this is a common fault among beginner writers – The POV should not flit from character to character in a needless way. To do this would throw your novel into confusion and diminish the forward movement of the boat.
The main character will take responsibility to drive the story forward. You need to get a clear focus on who this person is. Always give them a back history so we know where they are coming from. This need not be in the first chapter. It might be chapter three or four when you offer an understanding of the character and how his/her circumstance was before the story opens. I did this by chapter two with my main character, Pearl Fujiaka, in the novel FEAR.
You must like, or try to like, your main character. All right, so he’s a murderer, but see a reason why he came like that. Indeed by the end of the novel the murder might well have been justified and the character is revealed as a hero. Sometimes minor character just will not work. They remain wooden. In that case write them out of the story. I heard of a writer that had written 600 pages before he realized that one of his characters was simply not helping to drive the story onward. Rather than go back through the 600 pages and remove him this writer just sent him into a room and closed the door, and he was never mentioned again. Don’t do this This cheats you potential readers. They have a right to expect more from you.
For beginner writers developing characters can be difficult. Often they end up as no more that cardboard cutouts and a long way from what you had hoped for them. My advice here is learn how it’s done from good writers. You might consider reading Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. Within the first few pages we are rooting for the two main characters. How does he do that? I suggest that new writers take the first few pages of this story and write these pages out with a pen. By doing this you will note stuff that you will not see by a casual read. Bits of conversation and bits of action between the two men will become more clear to you. Yes, it sounds a pain having to do this but I did it years ago and I got a lot from it.
I hope that these few thoughts, sincerely offered, might help a few writers
FREE RELIGIOUS THRILLER/HORROR BOOK.
I HAVE BEEN ASKED BY MANY PEOPLE WHERE IDEAS COME FROM THAT CAN BE TURNED INTO A 300-400 PAGE NOVEL?
IT’S A GOOD IDEA, IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM OF FINDING IDEAS, TO START OFF WITH A ‘WHAT IF’.
WHAT IF YOU WALKED INTO AN APARTMENT BLOCK AND FOUND THAT EVERY PERSON THERE WAS DEAD? WOULD THAT NOT MAKE THE BEGINNING OF A GOOD STORY?
WHAT IF YOU ENTERED YOUR HOUSE TO FIND A PARCEL SITTING ON THE HALL TABLE? YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM OR WHO DELIVERED IT. YOU EXAMINE IT SUSPICIOUSLY THEN OPEN IT CAREFULLY. WHAT MIGHT BE INSIDE? (YOU NOW LET YOUR IMAGINATION RUN FREE AND SEE WHAT YOU COME UP WITH.)
TWICE YOU HAVE SEEN A MYSTERIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. SHE IS NEW TO YOUR VILLAGE. SHE RENTS THE LARGEST HOUSE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE VILLAGE AND SEEMS TO JUST SIT THERE IN A ROCKING-CHAIR WITH WHAT APPEARS TO BE A GREAT SADNESS ABOUT HER. ONE DAY YOU DECIDE TO APPROACH HER. NOW WHAT? SIT DOWN AND START TO WRITE AND AGAIN LET YOUR IMAGINATION TAKE FIRE.
I HOPE THESE FEW IDEAS HELP SOME PEOPLE.
RECENTLY I DID A YOU TUBE INTERVIEW ON THIS THAT MIGHT HELP A LITTLE MORE. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43iAYmpc38U
Best regards – Patrick.
Writing can be most odd. You are having a cup of tea or are half asleep on a chair in the sun – and an idea floats into your head from somewhere: an idea that two years later is a finished novel. Where such ideas come from is a mystery. Mystery or not grab onto them with both hands.
I was driving on a winter’s night when both the heater and the radio mysteriously stopped working. With little to distract me my imagination started to wander.
What if the true Crown-of-Thorns was discovered? And what if a tiny piece of mummified skin was Amazonfound on one of the thorns? This thought stayed with me for many miles. Then a second thought. What if scientists attempted to clone from this piece of skin? On the basis of those two thoughts the novel – The Extraordinary Temptation – came into existence.
So, in your relaxed moods an idea can rise up and slap you in your face. If it does grab at it and write it down before it fragments and falls away. Hope this helps some writers.
For additional ideas you might like to view a short youtube interview of three days ago.
One of the great difficulties for a writer is getting started. What am I going to write about? What can I write about? The first thing that you need is the kernel of an idea. Fine – but how do I get such a kernel?
The youtube interview here might help some: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43iAYmpc38U
A tragedy in this writing game is that many who aspire to be writers hit the wall around page 80. Why if should be around that time I cannot answer. But many find themselves incapable of getting beyond that point and give up. There must be hundreds of thousands of 80-page potential novels thrown into drawers by writers in despair.
All right so that is the way it was – THEN. But now is now. So how about opening those drawers again and hauling out your half-formed creations? With the passing of time and a sit down and a review of what you have written can give you new ideas on how to force the story beyond what had been blocking you in the past and you find yourself out into far clearer water.
I hope this piece of encouragement helps some to pick up their pens again.
Best Regards. Patrick.
NEW YOUTUBE INTERVIEW – RECORDED THREE DAYS AGO.
Some writers have difficulty in finding ideas that can be developed into full-blown novels. This short interview might help here. At least I hope it does.
Type in on Google – Patrick McCusker interview on YouTube.
In the business of your life, this story might produce a small
smile: at least I hope it does.
THE LILY-POND FROG AND THE PRINCESS.
The air was particularly fragrant that morning. The scent of the lily pads across the entire pond was never finer. It was a good place to be a frog.
He sat on a half-submerged leaf with the sun full in his face, and reflected on the three lady frogs he had covered the night before. Many tadpoles would issue as a result of that profligate dalliance with those notable dainty strumpets.
His patch of sunlight suddenly darkened. A large princess, from the castle on the hill, notable for her extreme ugliness, lowered herself into a heap on the edge of the frog pond. It was clear to the frog that she intended to stay awhile, blocking his place in the sun.
He squelched around on his lily pad and said:
“If you kiss me I will turn you into a beautiful creature.”
Well, given her complete lack of graciousness, how could the princess resist such an offer? She got down on her broad knees and leaned out over the pond and kissed the frog – and was immediately turned into a beautiful butterfly.
The frog ate the butterfly and the sun shone down on the pond as before.