Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Drop of Ink

A Drop of Ink

By Joseph Ernest Whitney

THIS drop of ink chance leaves upon my pen,
What might it write in Milton’s mighty hand!
What might it speak at Shakespeare’s high command!
What words to thrill the throbbing hearts of men!
Or from Beethoven’s soul a grand amen,
All life and death in one full compass spanned!
Who could its power in Goethe ’s touch withstand?
What words of truth it holds beyond our ken,—
What blessed promise we would fain be told,
And cannot,—what grim sentence dread as death,—
What venomous lie, that never shall unfold,—
What law, undoing science with a breath!
But—mockery of life’s quick-wasted lot—
Dropped on a virgin sheet ’t is but a blot!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I give to you all my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May you enjoy the fun of the season, but keep always in your hearts the true reason for celebrating Christmas--the birth of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

God bless you all!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (and Other Kinds of Novels/Stories)

I've discovered a writing course online (and it's a freebie!). It is Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by Jeffrey Carver. I've put a link in the sidebar, too.

There are things you can learn from this course that will help you write any type of fiction, even though the focus is on science fiction and fantasy. Mr. Carver, a published writer, has a Quick Launch section to get you started writing very quickly, plus what he calls Hyperspace for more in depth learning.

Give it a read and see if it helps you.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Reading Like a Writer

I have just read a delightful book titled Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose. (Link to Amazon is just for your information--feel free to check it out from the library!)

This book is about reading carefully for its own sake, but also for what it can teach you about writing. Ms. Prose (yes, that's her name) discusses how careful reading can help you with your writing. She has chapters with titles like "Words", "Sentences", and "Paragraphs". She talks about how careful reading can show you ways to handle your own writing, by having a selection of writers to read when you are stuck and in need of inspiration or instruction by example. Her book mentions a variety of authors and books to start you on your way.

I enjoyed this book just because I like to read about books, but it also inspired me with regard to writing. Read the reviews at Amazon and see if you think it would be a book for you.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Writing Practice

I find that the more I write, the better I become at writing. What has helped me lately is writing short pieces, like essays and poetry. Those can be about any topic that interests you. That interest is a big incentive to stay with the project. They may or may not require research. I think it is good to start with writing projects that require little or no research so that you can concentrate on your writing. Later, you can do more research.

Research can entail anything from looking up a few words in the dictionary to reading several articles and then writing an essay to bring those ideas together and draw conclusions. For fiction, you may need to research a specific locale or culture. You might need to delve into history. With the internet, it's not hard to find photos of places or things that you want to write about and this can help greatly with description. If you are researching, whether on the internet or in books or magazines, it's a good idea to confirm your facts with at least two sources, especially any major facts that tie into the plot.

There are lots of "rules" for grammar and for writing, and these rules are often broken to great effect, but it is still a good foundation for you to know the rules before you start breaking them. Your writing will be more solid and you will know which rules to break and why in order to get a special effect.

I find it useful to do some writing off the cuff and some writing that more strictly conforms to a set of rules, such as a sonnet with its rhyme schemes and line restrictions. This helps me get comfortable with different ways of writing.

I hope to learn more about voice and tone--it seems to me that a writer should have control of those elements as well as others, but I don't know enough about them to know what I'm doing yet. A combination of reading and writing will help that situation--at least that is what I am hoping.

Do you have any ideas about practicing writing that you'd like to share?