Tag s | Writing Craft

Oxymorons

Oxymorons can be fun. Two words that can have contradictory meanings are put together to create a new phrase. Or it can be expanded to mean two separate thoughts or ideas that are in direct conflict with each other but when combined create something new.

For example, if you’ve ever worked in a cubicle, you can see the humor in the description “office space.”

Think about these for a second: “no comment” or “whole part.”

And what about a “loud whisper”? Is anyone wearing a “medium large” shirt today? Is it “wicked good”? Did it leave you “barely clothed”?

Please try to avoid using them in your novel or nonfiction work. Like clichés they can make you sound kind of silly. Unless you are Shakespeare who wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Then you sound brilliant.  Also in that same play he wrote, “O brawling love! O loving hate! . . . O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this.”

Even historians created one that is a head-scratcher when you think about it. The Civil War. How can war be civil?

You, as someone who is serious about their craft, need to watch out for ones that have become part of our everyday speech, like “ill health” or “passive aggressive” or “random order” or “found missing.” You get the idea.

There is a website that has a list of hundreds of oxymorons: www.oxymoronlist.com

Did you know that the word oxymoron is an oxymoron? Oxy comes from the Greek word for “sharp,” oxys. Moron (I’ll bet you can guess this one) comes from the Greek word for “dull,” moros. (No, it isn’t the Greek word for Steve.) Therefore, an oxymoron is a “sharp-dull” combination of words.

Have a great day!
(Only you will know if that was an oxymoron.)

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Criticism Is an Unhappy Part of the Business

I would like to tell you about a most enjoyable day. Our agency’s guidelines request that unsolicited manuscripts come via the post (I know it’s old-school but it works for us), but we still receive e-mail submissions. I spent an entire morning going through that particular in-box, having an assistant send standard e-mail rejection letters, since none were anything our agency could/would handle.

Very soon I received three separate responses:

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Even the Best Get Rejected

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I’ve written about rejection before and yet it is a topic that continues to fascinate.

Recently Adrienne Crezo did an article on famous authors and their worst rejection letters. I thought you might enjoy reading a couple highlights of that article and some additional stories I have collected over the years.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected by Alfred Knopf saying it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”
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Who Gets Paid in Publishing?

With all the talk about Independent publishing vs. Traditional publishing and the talk about how writers can get rich if they follow a certain plan…I got to thinking. Maybe we should do a quick look at the Economics of Publishing to see if anyone is making off like a bandit. Sorry for you non-numbers people, but it is critical to understand the infrastructure (i.e. the lifeblood) that keeps your ideas in print.

The detective in the movie says “Follow the money,” so we shall. But first a disclaimer. These models are estimates based on years of reading contracts, profit and loss sheets, spreadsheets, and royalty statements. Your mileage may vary.

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The Only Answer

Hope you had a blessed Christmas!

The last four weeks I have posted what was, in actuality, an Advent series. Note the key words in each post:

Wait
Prepare
Expect
Give

 The Christmas season is one that is full of family, fun, food, and friends. But under it all is the foundation of our joy. The answer to our greatest longing. Of course, saying there is an answer assumes there is a question. Finances, relationships, job, writing, family, church, and school all ask different questions.

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Writers Give to Others

My hope is that this headline is true. While the writing profession (or obsession as some describe it) is a solitary one, it is in giving to others where its impact can be felt.

Time

The gift of time is precious as we are given a finite amount in this life. To mentor another writer. To blog freely. To teach at a conference or school setting. All are example of a beautiful way to both give and receive.

Talent

To use your talent to its fullest is a gift to others. To hone that talent so that it crescendos into the heart of a reader should be the goal of every writer. This talent must be shared. To hoard it for oneself would be a travesty and tantamount to the deadly sin of greed.

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Writers Expect Good News

Writers expect good news…any day now. Is it the curse of eternal optimism?There is this hope within each writer that it will be their manuscript that is chosen for publication. And the money will rain on them like a spring shower.

Despite the odds.

Despite the competition.

Despite the cynical, horrible, no-good, very-bad agents who review them.

Expectations

Are these expectations realistic? Of course they are. It is the essence of hope. For without hope there is no reason to continue the pursuit of the craft. You have to believe that you have what it takes.

Are these expectations practical? Of course not. Who said the writing profession was “practical?”

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Embedded Writing

During World War II, one of the highest profile journalists who wrote about the war for Americans back at the home front was Ernie Pyle. Ernie was one of the first “embedded” journalists in wartime and he lived and wrote while among the soldiers. He focused his stories on individual …

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Brainstorming: How and With Whom?

Brainstorming is one of the fun parts in the development of a book. The key for the author is a willingness to hear other ideas. The second, and most critical key, is discovering those with whom you should brainstorm. Those people need to be willing to have their ideas rejected in the discussions and be willing to let an idea they created to be used by someone else. It takes a special person…many times a professional…to achieve that.

I’ve heard complaints from some authors who try this in a critique group only to be frustrated. Egos get in the way or the ideas generated are singularly unhelpful. Or the discussion doesn’t move the project forward, instead it gets sidetracked by numerous differing opinions on the direction of the piece.

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